Thursday, 2 December 2010

# 138 Guilt RIP

Right, so it turns out that a new job + a new baby + an almost-new-year adds up to not a spare second to do very much of anything at all. Which is why this blog hasn't been updated in over a month - shameful. I'm sorry. And a wee bit sorrowful. Racked with guilt seems to be my latest thing. I wake up feeling bad for rushing out on the bairn; come in feeling bad for being late; spend days at home feeling bad for having to check in on email when I should be bathing/playing/singing/dancing/smiling at/with the baby; and that list of things to-do - grows and grows and grows, until the guilt at the undone and unsaid and unfinished stuff wakes me up in the middle of the night. But not for very long of course, because I'm currently getting, on average, 24 hours sleep a WEEK. Ouch. Everybody hurts.

But then I realise that I'm being a very silly-billy [thanks mum], and it's time to grow (& shut) up. The fact is, beneath the tiredness & tumult (should I continue to blog so openly when I have a high-profile new job on a consumer magazine? can honesty always be the best policy? will I accidentally slip up here & end up on the silenced scrapheap?), I've realised that I'm creating my own conflicts. The truth is here, and it is that I shall always, always speak my own mind and be honest about my loves, loathes and couldn't-care-lesses. I also know that one of the reasons I landed my new gig is because the editor values an opinionated voice & isn't scared of letting it sing. Yes, we rely on advertising just like every other magazine on the market, but unlike most, my mag also speaks to a unique sort of woman - a truly savvy, enquiring and intelligent type who expects more from her magazine. And that 'more' is, I hope, real & raw & un-revised authority, honestly & insight. That's my modus operandi in my new role - to be REAL - and do away with all the overblown cliches, hyperbole and BS that can haunt beauty. Guilt trip over I say to myself. You are who you are & you were hired for a reason. There is a place in this world where one can be both beauty director & unbiased blogger. Here we go.

So, despite my stint of self-counselling, I've also become one of those women who is forever bemoaning her eye bags, her 5-minute morning make-up routine [it used to be 15], her lack of sleep/rest/lazy/me time... and I just don't like it. The truth is - as the other gazillion working mums out there can testify - it is hard & tiring. But there's another truth nestled among the moans & that's that it's also, really, very, very wonderful. My petite one is now a full 4 months & a bit old, which means that she's becoming a wholehearted, full-throated, big-smiled joy. Gone are those days of crying for no reason, of needing to be held every second, of waking up 11 times a night to feed... she's now content to watch, smile, follow, listen and is also perfectly content to be left alone for rather long periods too... deary me, how things change in the span of an eyelid's blink. I have one entire day a week with her when neither my husband nor sister nor mum nor dad descend, and it's becoming a very special one - where we do simple, smiley things such as playing peekaboo and watching Postman Pat. Joy. We even managed to take a 2-hour mid-morning nap together... a rare, but wondrous treat. Alas, despite her gorgeous mood, I was so busy with washing/cleaning/bottle-making/changing/singing/emailing that I didn't get time to do the essential end-of-the-week groom [I like to go into a long weekend as a scrubbed, buffed & shorn version of myself]. So, here I am now, at 19.20, with baby a-snooze, aware of the wash-and-go session that needs to be fitted into tomorrow's morning... the past weeks have been prime testing ground for the simplest of new regimes - and have turfed up some serious time-saving treasures:

Elemis Melting Cleansing Gel - brand new, lovely oozy, buttery texture, great for a good old massage, then emulsifies beautifully with water to rinse clean away like milk. Good stuff. If only it could be used over eyes too (but then again, if it could, it wouldn't have the same anti-ageing benefits).

Inlight Organic Night Balm - from the rather special fellow who dreamed up Spiezia [which he is now in no way affiliated to], Mario's blend of pure nourishing oils (macadamia, carrot, evening primrose) is so spot-on for winter-sore and tired skin. It's also a lazy girls dream - you literally massage it in all over a cleansed face & a thicker layer makes for an overnight mask too. Watch skin suck it up - mornings aren't so scary now.

Aveda Damage Remedy Treatment - because nobody does it better, and with my 'artificial' poker-straight strands [here's where I get it 'done':] it's essential to keep tips in top condition.

OCCO Bath & Body Wash Kornati No 7 - because I'm miles and miles from the sea and this smells like the Turkish coast... mineraly, salt-tinged and a breath of fresh air on bleary-eyed mornings. Oh, and it's about 5 times thicker than normal shower gels, so it goes a hell of a long way.

Jo Malone Vitamin E Body Balm - My beloved Creme de la Mer Body Lotion ran out so I fished this from the cupboard & am mightily impressed. Cocoa-buttery but with a sweet scent that is less cloying than the traditional stuff, it absorbs rather beautifully - none of that rubbing a white-sticky-stripe-leaving cream for minutes until it disappears, nope, despite being thick as peanut butter, a few quick swipes and the body sucks it up. Just luvverly.

Murine Irritation & Redness Relief Eye Drops - from pharmacies this one, but bloody hell, if it doesn't just destroy every trace of the 4-hours-a-night evidence. And unlike most brightening eye drops, this doesn't irritate in the slightest. Ideal SOS stuff - particularly near the end of the working week.

Ojon Rub-Out Dry Cleanser - sometimes it's just utterly impossible to wash & dry my hair. I would like to do so every single day, but at present, I'm managing 3 times a week. Not great. Thankfully, this spray in stuff is truly great [and even better than the KMS one which I've previously raved about]. I spray it in & massage it in with fingers, clip it back, and then proceed with the cleanse/moisturise/make-up routine, then once made up, I take it down & give it a good 30-second upside-down brush, and there you go, big ol' hair once more. Even better on days when you want to do an up-do: just the right amount of quiffy bounce.

And that's it from me for now.
Bye Bye Guilt et Au Revoir Tristesse.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

# 137 Soul Sister

'I'm 24 and work in an office in London. I currently use just a Neutrogena Oil Free moisturiser, as being 24 I was still getting the odd spot, someone suggested that I try something without oil. It worked, for a while, but now my skin is dry, lifeless, and still getting the odd spot. I'm nervous about changing moisturiser though. I try a Kiehls one about 6 months ago, but my skin just went haywire. I do however know that I need to find something to start giving my skin back its moisture, stop being flaky, hopefully keep away the odd spot and stop me feeling ancient before my time! If you could point me in the right direction of a relevent post, or have any advice I would be so grateful!'

Hey sister, I can relate! Ever since I popped out my little'un, the skin has been having an extended schizophrenic moment. It's superficially oily, deeply dehydrated, prone to dry patches and, out of nowhere, the odd forehead blemish has also made a determined comeback. Darn it to hell. The thing is, I've learned from past experience that it does no good to chop & change - to gauge if something's working or not you need to allow at least 6 weeks. Having said that the gut's a good indicator of the skin's proclivities - and it's pretty easy to tell if something's not going to suit you, full stop. The range I’ve always relied on to right my up-and-down days is ESPA. I’ve written about them several times in the past, but it’s the combination of balancing oil, balancing moisturiser, cellular hydrating complex and that lovely creamy easily-emulsifying oil-based gentle cleanser that most often gets my skin back up to scratch. I must say, however, that without the cellular hydrating complex, the combo is not quite hydrating enough as my skin switches from combination to dryness-prone the moment winter appears – but using a more moisturising line-up, such as, e.g. Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturiser, which is packed with avocado, borage and wheatgerm oils, does leave me superficially ‘slick’ looking [even when using the LIGHT formula – I get that suspect 2pm shine on the ol’ forehead]. So, my advice would be to supplement a skincare routine that you’re happy with – i.e. a cleanser & moisturiser that seem to work with your skin – with masks, serums and concentrates. That way you can ensure that you’re not changing things up too much or constantly trying and testing formulas out on your complexion (which is the shortest cut to skin chaos). Some of the very best hydrating and ‘enlivening’ masks I’ve used over the years include:






I’d also like to stress the fact that I’m a massive fan of oils for ALL skin conditions. I’ve never ever found the oil-free method to help with my oil- or spot-proneness, in fact, whenever I’ve used entirely oil-free formulas in the past – from Leaf & Rusher; Dr Brandt; Dermalogica; REN – my skin has initially settled (for a day or two), before becoming increasingly oily and spotty. My theory (and several skincare experts would agree with me), is that by using entirely oil-free products, the skin begins to overcompensate by overproducing sebum. However, by selecting facial oils designed to treat OILY skin (wonderful combinations are made by Aromatherapy Associates, Daniele de Winter, Darphin, Decleor, Clarins and, as previously mentioned, ESPA), the skin seems to settle down far more easily – and provides a far more successful longterm solution.

Please, do let me know how you get on!

Yours sincerely,

A sympathetic sister in search of skincare perfection

Saturday, 16 October 2010

# 136 Conditioning Complex

A couple of weeks ago I had a big interview. I needed to look a-mazing - chic, sleek, grown-up and 'with it'. Looking with it is a whole new challenge these days what with a new baby, gazillions of short-lead deadlines & a new job kicking off in less than two weeks. The problem is, post-baby, my hair's developed an entirely new personality. It's still shiny [thank gawd], but it's also prone to kinkiness and sheds in clumps in the shower [truly, it looks as though I have a dead mogwai in my bathroom bin]. I'm lucky to have enough to spare - but when hair's proving tricky I need something extra - something that keeps strands in place, come rain or shine. My sister - her of the feted Absolom-esque locks - cannot live without Pantene. I've never been a fan - I don't like Sodium Laureth Sulphate for a start. She has told me, over and over again, that nothing produces such reliable sleekness, malleable softness, shiny, tactile, styleability. Pass, I say, not for me. Having spent more time of late out in Kent with Ma & Pa Malcontent, I've became a dab hand at forgetting my essential grooming products. And the night before this 'big interview', I realised that my amnesia extended to haircare. After a minor freak-out [Ma Malcontent's TIGI was not to my liking], I decided to bite the beauty bullet and trial the leftover Smooth & Sleek range in lil' Sis' bathroom. Well. My oh my. Words duly swallowed. Hair blow-dried in record time, with supreme shine, and so slippery-sleek was the result that I wore it down for the first time in weeks [Mr Frieda, we must make another date soon!]. Gorgeous. And I never, ever say that about my hair. The following day hair was scooped up into a sleek ponytail, still very shiny and healthy looking. By day 2.5, however, gloss began to turn to grease... and by day 3 hair was crying out for another wash. Now, this is something I'm not used to. I have thick, full hair - and going 3 days without a wash is just par for the course. Just not with Pantene. And, I've since discovered, that if left on hair for more than a minute, the in-between-wash time is reduced by 24 hours. So, while it saves time with the dry and style, it also demands a more regular shampoo session... highs and lows. But... that initial smooth operation... the shine, the sleekness, the softness... hmmmm... I bought my own. Because, it's [just about] worth it.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

# 135 Funny Face

Funny stuff happens post-bairn. Hair growth fizzles out [barely shaved my legs in 7 weeks]; dry skin becomes suddenly oily again [the t-zone is back to teen-sheen status]; eye bags sprout eye bags for their eye bags, and then, all of a sudden, get used to sleeplessness and disappear, all by themselves [or is it the new 'kinder' mirror we've installed in the bathroom?!]; smooth as a baby's bottom skin develops barnacled patches [back of arms, like silk for 40 weeks, are now more sandpapery] and the hairs on my head are falling out in clumps, as the scalp relinquishes its stronghold on the excess pregnancy strands [I shed a daily hair rug for the bathroom floor. Thank gawd [and Mr Dyson] for my handheld hoover]. So, with new highs and lows comes new opportunities to TEST TEST TEST, and this I have been doing with renewed relish now that the 8-week-old is learning to sleep better at night [hoorah!].

What do I like?

Creme de la Mer The Body Lotion - After trialling oils from Mama Mio, Aromatherapy Associates and Erbaviva [all lovely, nourishing, great-smelling], I went back to this baby which is still half-full as I abandoned it while pregnant. Well, yes, it really is incomparably fab and leaves even awkward skin very soft. The back of arms are already looking & feeling better. I'm just not looking forward to re-purchase time. Ouch.

Origins Never a Dull Moment Scrub – Now, from all that I’ve tried & trialed & tested and learned, I know that rough-grain scrubs are no good for skin [not even the body]. Much better to look for fine Microdermabrasion-style formulas, or chemical exfoliants, such as those found in Elemis Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Gel Mask. But, well, this one breaks the rules. I first purchased it while temping as a counter girl at Selfridges [13 years ago!], and though I’ve not used it in the interim, I was most glad to rediscover it last month. It smells lush & fruity, leaves skin very rosy and perky, and makes light work of rough patches. Best of all, it doesn’t leave skin sore or ‘scrubbed’ feeling.

Sue Devitt Micro-Aquatic Hydrating Marine Minerals Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15 – Sue wins no prizes for snappy product names, but she does gain plaudits with this gorgeous, dewy, light base. Many bases claim to moisturise yet somehow highlight dry patches instead – but this is different. It makes skin softer, spongier and smoother. It also gives great glow & wears well throughout the day [tip: pat it into skin that is still slightly ‘moist’ after the application of your morning face cream].

And what just isn’t getting the baby bathed?

Origins Clean Energy Cleanser – There’s nothing glaringly wrong with this – it feels nice enough, smells zingy & contains nice things [olive/kukui/macadamia nut oils], but it just didn’t do anything special either. Skin was a bit shiny at times, dry at others and congestion on the chin was not kept at bay. It is absolutely dandy for removing a thin layer of slap, but if you want a deep, nourishing, purifying or balancing cleanse, there are better suds on the shelves.

The Body Shop Lip & Cheek Tint – There was a time when I used this a lot – before dates with the blokie; before dashing out to buy milk; on trains before meetings... because I believed it gave my lips a gorgeous bitten stain and cheeks a hearty, healthy flush. Now, 8 years in the beauty biz later, I’ve come to realise that this is seriously lacking. It’s watery consistency means the colour is never uniform – in my case, the insides of my lips always pink up more than the outer bits, which makes me look as though I’ve been sucking on home-made Ribena popsicles [not a great look for a 30-year-old professional]. Even after reapplying, layer upon layer, I found it utterly impossible to get an even colour across the entire lip. On cheeks? Even worse. Some bits of skin take, others do not – making the skin look a bit rashy. Consigned to the bin this one [and those fond memories, to the re-visited and corrected annals of time].

Thursday, 26 August 2010

# 134 True Beauty

Champneys Town and City Spas are working with the Red Cross to raise money for the Floods Appeal by donating all treatment proceeds and therapists wages to the appeal on Sunday 5th September - could there ever be a better reason to book in for some beautifying time?

Call your local spa to book in….

Champneys Bath,

20 New Bond Street, BA1 1BD
Tel. 01225 420500

Champneys Chichester,

60 East Street, PO19 1HL
Tel. 01243 819010

Champneys Guildford,

194 High Street, GU1 3HZ
Tel. 01483 455850

Champneys Tunbridge Wells*,

7 High Street, TN1 1UL
Tel. 01892 530111

*Champneys spa in Tunbridge Wells will hold their charity day on Monday 6th September.

Champneys Brighton,

24 East Street, BN1 1HL.
Tel. 01273 777155

Champneys Enfield,

2 Hatton Walk, Palace Exchange, EN2 6BP.
Tel. 0208 363 7994

Champneys St Albans,

23 Market Place, AL3 5DP
Tel. 01727 864893

Or visit:

Monday, 23 August 2010

# 133 Sister Act

If you've ever had to cope with good-skin-gone-bad, you'll be wholly attuned to the plight of my l'il sis and the battle she's been waging with her blemishes for the best part of the year. The sort of utterly gorgeous girl who has the power to make men stop in their tracks [honestly - she's even been picked up - twice!! - by two different men & flung over their shoulders because, they just, well, couldn't help themselves, so formidable is her cute-beauty]. And while still utterly beauteous, she began suffering breakouts and had no idea why - hormones? diet? lack of exercise? skincare? - and after switching from Elemis to Dermalogica to Liz Earle to Rodial, and having no joy at all on the clear skin front, I eventually took decisive action and packed her off to the amazing facialist, Sarah Chapman, who hooked her up with one of her top therapists, Tarryn, at her Pelham Street clinic. The 90 minute session revealed so much [along with an entire layer of new, breathing skin, thanks to a deep peel and light therapy] - not least of all, the link between my sis' intense sugar cravings [her handbag as NEVER been Haribo-free] and the spots on her forehead. Tarryn recommended she up the B vitamins, alongside Chromium, and also got her started on a course of spot-regulating skincare from leading pore-perfectors, Environ. The course consisted of Sebugel A, Sebuwash, AVST 1 and Alpha Toner Mild. Well, it's 2 facials in, and 6 weeks of Environ later, and, what can we say? After cutting out all sugar [apart from natural fruit sugar], downing said vits [plus evening primrose oil], her skin is clear as a cloudless summer sky. The result really is remarkable - and just goes to show what a really good facial can achieve: it's about in-depth diagnosis, fuss- and faff-free treatment and seriously purifying pores [Sis' year's of wipe-off cleansing had left the complexion clogged and malfunctioning]. Sis is over the moon - and, to the chagrin of every other single girl out there - back on the social scene. Watch out!! [and if you see a man running for the door with a gorgeous girl flung over his shoulder, be sure to say hi - then call the police!]. Hee hee.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

# 132 Coming Up Roses

Yep, baby Malcontent is officically here. But, as irony would have it, she is anything but malcontent. She is dinky and darling and already sleeping & eating well [well, she must get that from her mama]. We're all a flutter with love, and also finding ways to stay sitting pretty while getting used to this new mum malarkey. a good friend suggested a simple trick for staying positive [even if little one's been bawling since sundown] - 'whatever you do, upon waking, wash your face and get dressed.' nothing depresses more than a greasy mush and stinky PJs. so, each morning, after the first feeding session is over, baby spends time with daddy while mummy sorts out hair, face, brows and body. I've already got my routine down to a neat 20 mins - and feel like a new woman afterwards. Here are the essentials that are saving my post-baby bacon: the organic pharmacy miracle nipple cream [this stuff heals like you wouldn't believe - I've already begged the PR for more!]; liz earle cleanse & polish [post-birth skin is back to it's normalised, oilier state. The eucalyptus in this cleans wonderfully, while also leaving things soft and clear]; the new TIGI sleek mystique range - i used the fast fixx style prep spray and blow out balm yesterday, to lovely, shiny & speedy effect; and, my new flavour-fave of the month: aromatherapy associates rose renew body oil. I read in one of my mama tomes, that rose otto oil is wonderful for warding off the baby blues, but also for bonding the baby with mama. now, new age stuff aside [i'll try my hardest not to spout anymore in future], this stuff smells utterly dreamy, really soothes & calms, and I'm convinced, means while baby suckles she also slips into a deep dreamy sleep too. Talk about multi-tasking. Pat on the back [one for baby: BURP!; and one for me: smile].

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

# 131 This Works Week

I've been making mental notes of all the good stuff all busy working week long, and really must get it down on this page before it all disappears into backlog oblivion. So, there's been a spate of new things [not necessarily new to the market, but new to my bathroom cabinet] of late, and I'm keen to share them with you, because it's been a really really good run, with ne'er a dodgy pot among the lot [I seem to be rhyming a lot today wouldn't you say?]...

Anywho, here's the stuff that's caught my attention:

Creme de la Mer Body Creme. Now, I feel a little bit bad bigging this one up. It's really really expensive, and, well, it already receives a hell of a lot of press coverage & between you and me, I get most excited by those secret finds that are ridiculously reasonable in price but just extraordinary in practice. But, I'm afraid, this one really is worth raving about. I've been using it on arms, thighs, calves and shoulders for 3 weeks [everywhere else is being subjected to lashings & lashings of Stretch Mark Oil - and at 36 weeks, not a mark to be seen, thank gawd - thanks Mama Mio and ESPA!]. What it has done to my skin really is rather remarkable. It's given it a silky stocking feel - it's not sticky or clammy & the product absorbs instantaneously, but over the days, it's just evened out the tone & texture of my skin, leaving it more, well, velvety than I've ever known it. Now, the main problem is, I love it so much that I cannot bear to finish it, because, c'mon peeps, what mother-to-be who's just spent over a grand on baby-ware can afford to blow over £100 on a new tube? I'd keel over with guilt before I forked out the cash, so, for the time being, I'll savour every last squeeze of this stuff & should my skin freak out once it's finished, well, it'll just have to get over it...

Clinique All About Eyes Serum. Perhaps it's the hefty workload or homely to-do-list, but I've been a wee bit skin-delinquent of late - not spending quite so much time on the ol' cleanse & massage as normal - and the Clarisonic's been sat in its cradle for 3 weeks untouched, which is stupid because it actually saves me time - I just can't seem to be bothered to take it from the bedroom to the bathroom when I'm ready to wash my face. LA-HA-ZY right?! Anyway, the eye creams I was trialling [one from Nia24 and one from Emma Hardie], were all ab fab - nothing bad to report really, but I just began to tire of the tap-tap and the pat-pat and the general unscrewing of lids etc etc. God, what IS wrong with me? So, after a Clinique Blogger's Evening a few weeks back I felt it only right to add a bit of the C-word to my beauty routine, and I popped this rollerball-style product into my fridge overnight with the intention of trying it in the morning. Well, what do you know -that was 3 weeks ago and I'm using it day and night, just the quickest and simplest of swipes from outer to inner eye, a simple pat with the ring finger, and I'm done. Eyes do not look any brighter, but I've not been as puffy as I am prone to [and I've gone without a lot of sleep lately!]. The fine lines brought on by dehydration have been kept in check too - and I'm realising that lightweight serums are better than nourishing creams when the main concern is not yet wrinkles. So, yah, I like this one a lot - I just keep forgetting to put it back in the fridge, which isn't actually the end of the world because the nifty metallic rollerbally thing stays very cool at all times - a nice soothing wake-up call when you've slept through the alarm as I have 3 times this week.

Rituals Yin Organic White Lotus & Yi Yi Ren Calming Bed & Body Mist. Wow, now isn't that a mouthful! This came in today's post and the bag it came in smelt so divine that I had to fish through the products, one by one, until I rooted out the culprit. I've been spraying it in my study all day [I know, it's meant for bed, but hey, anything that helps me take deep breaths while on deadline is going to be transplanted] - and I really really like the slightly old-fashioned, mum's house, innocuous soap-and-water, white-petalled-flower scent of it. It's making me smile, a lot, and for that I am thankful. I'm not sure I'd wear it upon my person, but as far as room scents go, this is so much cleaner and less obtrusive than the musky, sandalwoody, jasmine notes I'm so often drawn to. The problem with these ones though is that you can't really escape the 'scentyness' of them - whereas the Rituals one could pass for fresh laundry or babies post-bathtime, in the way that it is very natural and quiet. Yes, a new favourite.

Aldo Coppola Hair Care Range - for Hennaed hair - having been Copollad last week [and, I hate to admit, having a bit of a struggle with my new, much shorter, much messier, much choppier do], I am not having the same teething problems with the AC range of haircare which the lovely salon peeps sent home for me to try. The Henna shampoo - which protects all those lovely glinting highlights my hair is now imbued with - and Henna Highlighting Leave-In Conditioner, are absolutely fab. My hair is feather-soft, very very shiny, and scalp utterly untraumatised [there are no sulphates or other harsh surfactants in the range]. I shall certainly persevere with the hair, but with the haircare - well, I'm a wholehearted convert.

Next up on the testing block: Moroccan Oil Hair Treatment Oil and Hydrating Styling Creme - let's see if these latest cult beauty buys make this wayward mane of mine any easier to bring back to the beautiful creation which I left Coppola's salon with... sleek curls, bouncy bangs and a rush of unabashed root-lift... if ONLY I'd taken a picture!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

#130 Pharmacy Fresh

A few months back I popped into The Organic Pharmacy for a Health Assessment. I'd had one several years back while feeling less than my best and was impressed with the various things it pinpointed. Talking about how & why it works is guaranteed to get eyes a-rolling, because, well, you're strapped up to a bio-energetic device which scans the body, detecting & picking up on various vitamin and mineral deficiencies, food intolerances, toxicity, organ function, hormone balance, viruses, bacteria, fungus, parasites, digestive disorders and stress. The read-out is immensely detailed and often very amusing - not least of all because it also tends to pinpoint the foods you've eaten a lot of just prior to the scan, and if you've been eating said food morning and night [i.e. overdoing it], it'll flag up the possibility of developing a future allergy to said fare. For me it was, ahem, cucumbers - which thanks to bizarre pregnant cravings, I'd been eating whole, and several times a week, just because I really couldn't not - just wanted them SO badly! The homeopath and I had a good giggle at that one though - I mean, who ever heard of anyone being allergic to cucumbers?! I was also, it seemed, at risk of developing intolerances to:

Curry powder [no! no!]

Brewer’s yeast [huh? never had a beer in my life...]

Spinach [yes, too true. makes me sicky inside]

Pineapple [sob. but probably because I'd eaten an entire one in a single sitting the night before]

Lime [again, huh?]

Mushroom [just don't like them, so no great loss]

Casein [of course. always knew that]

Sesame [once again - because of the inordinately huge amount of hummus I consume each & every week, which contains tahini AKA sesame paste]

Carrot [almost as prevalent within my diet as cucumbers... yes, I know I'm odd]

Other things were clearer & less comical. I am absolutely undeniably bad with lactose. No shit Sherlock. Can't even sip cow's milk anymore without gagging. And despite popping those awful pregnancy horse-pills, I was still seriously deficient in several minerals. I was also in the middle of an appalling eczema flare-up which had gotten progressively worse over those 5 pregnant months. I listened, took notes, we chatted & the homeopath [a fab & insightful lady called Sofia], made lists of things I needed to start supplementing my diet with. I've never been a big believer in supplements, but let me say now, it's 4 months later, and am I grateful to her for loading me up that day. I now consider myself a bit of a pregnancy nutrition pro - and can list all the 'premium' supplements that caused nothing but nausea and constipation [both Pregnacare & Solgar really disagreed with me - I noticed the different in my 'sluggish' system within a day or two of swallowing them]. On the other hand, The Organic Pharmacy Pre & Post Natal Vitamins caused me no bother at all & made a marked difference to my mood & wellbeing. Since they ran out [on Monday], I've really felt it - and will be stocking up at the Great Marlborough St store tomorrow. Other impressive supplements were the Omega 3-6-7-9 oil which though not the most delicious thing in the world, is on par with the Udo's Choice Oil. Both have really really helped my eczema calm down - along with teeny amounts of the steroid cream Diprosone & regular rubs with Oilatum Ointment... at last, those red patches have all but disappeared! I was also prescribed Calcium & Magnesium Complex, to aid stress & get extra important minerals to the baby - and, I have to say, I felt pretty darn good about 1 week after I started to swallow them, at night, and just as Sofia said, they also helped aid more restful sleep [I might be one of the few heavily pregnant ladies left who has actually snoozed deeply all the way through her 35/almost 36 weeks - despite a baby who has really learned to produce a spectacular series of almighty KICKS and PUNCHES as soon as her mummy falls asleep. Yowzer].

So, all in all, a mightily productive 90 minutes - and all for £150 [oh, supplements cost extra. Sorry. Good health don't come cheap, right?]

To soften the blow, my dear friends, you might be interested to learn the following:

From 14th – 21st June, The Organic Pharmacy are offering their unique Health Assessment for £100 instead of £150. The offer will be until the end of August for any bookings made between the 14th and the 21st. Visit for more information.

Would I recommend it? Heartily. Is it worth it? Well, I guess you'll have to see for yourself....

Monday, 31 May 2010

# 129 Go Balmy [and get 15% off!]

Right, so, following my last post which talked up the benefits of the new Darphin Cleansing Balm, I've had some emails from readers asking which cleansing balm I rate most highly - whether it's the ESPA one I often chat about, or the Omorovicza one which I used to use religiously but get through a bit too quickly, or the Oskia, Darphin or Organic Pharmacy options...

There are many others I have used and loved for a short time - Vaishaly, for instance, was great until I began to feel it was just too rich for my shine-prone skin (and then it began to cause a few too many breakouts...)

The Organic Pharmacy softened skin beautifully, but because it doesn't emulsify (neither does Saaf's balm), I found I wasn't getting quite as 'clean' as I wanted, and after a few days, I'd notice some blocked pores where the cleanser just wasn't coming away as neatly as I'd have liked it to. Oskia, too, produce a fine cleanser - and it has the edge on the aforementioned two, because it emulsifies beautifully, but once again, I feel it's better for ageing skin in need of nourishment than younger complexions seeking balance and purity.

With this in mind, here are the two that I shall always return to:

ESPA is an absolute staple. The formula just seems nice & easy for me - never stings, never causes excessive oiliness, not too 'nourishing', emulsifies very well & rinses clean away. Lovely, lovely. Oh, and the pot's a generous size too, so this one tends to last me about 3 months.

Omorovicza is another favourite, but for a different reason. If ESPA were the staple, then OM would be the special occasion cleanser (the pot is, unfortunately, on the small side), but it does have a really fab knack of hoovering out those pores and making everything look that bit clearer. I'd recommend it to people prone to impurities and breakouts as the mineral mud infused within the oil-based cleanser has an obvious purifying effect (without ever having caused me to wake up to a spotty complexion the next morning). I also like the melty texture, the fresh salty-clean scent and how soft the skin feels afterwards. It's good, good stuff this.

So, it's a facial flit between Om and ESPA - and should the deciding factor be some money off (hey, who doesn't love a discount!) then Omorovicza might just take the balm biscuit, because they're offering all Miss Malcontent readers a 15% discount on the Thermal Cleansing Balm up to the 30th June 2010, when purchased online at The code is missmalcontent_3853

For those who are already sold, enjoy! And for those who are not... sure you can't be tempted?

Thursday, 20 May 2010

# 128 Four Fancies

Several things deserve a shout out before the week's end:

Numero uno - the Clarisonic, which has made my skin look clearer & brighter than ever before. My family are convinced that it's those 'blooming' pregnancy hormones. Well, I know better (ha ha ha).

A deux - Darphin Aromatic Cleansing Balm with Rosewood. Regular readers will know that I have a serious obsession with cleansing 'balms' and 'oils'. Creams, wipes, foams, scrubs - pah! Non, merci. Well, this is a really sticky little treat. It has a deeply luxurious texture - a bit like honey and melted candle wax, and a strong floral/herbal scent. It emulsifies easily & quickly and rinses away cleanly. I've been pairing it with my Clarisonic and am most happy with the results so far [one week in]. The pot too, est enorme, which is a great thing if, like me, you go for a nightly double-cleanse.

Trois me - Aromatherapy Associates Enrich Hair Oil. Despite having relied upon this trichological treat several times over the years, I don't think I've ever blogged about it. Fool me. Now, before I start getting all lyrical, I'm sure that many cheaper and simpler oils (olive/almond/sesame/coconut, par example) would have a very similar nourishing effect on the hair and scalp too, so I certainly don't blame you if you're not willing to fork out £22.50 for this one. In it's favour, however, there is much I can say. It contains murumuru butter, ylang ylang, coconut oil, geranium and rosemary; a little goes a very long way [I've had my bottle for 6 months & it's still more than half full]; it's darn deliciously scented. But, the winning ticket: it's a failsafe treatment that makes a real & very visible difference to the lustre and smoothness of my hair. I've never left it on overnight (I'm funny about pillowcase stains), but I do massage it through dry hair & into scalp at least 4/5 hours before I shampoo. While the oil-slick look ain't hugely sexy, the scent itself is divine, so you can wander around the house in a comforting aromatherapy cloud. Best of all, the scent has longevity, and even after shampooing & conditioning, locks are still laced with it. Hair blow-dries really nicely after use too - I've often had comments on the 'health' of my hair the following day (even though I'm a serial iron & dryer abuser).

Quatre me if you can: Finally, my current lipstick obsession (also blogged about on my other site, We Make Up As We Go Along) shows no sign of waning. It's by Topshop, it's called Brighton Rock, and if it's ever discontinued I might just cry myself to sleep. It's just so beautifully, perfectly PINK & 2010 & POP & young & cute & LOUD & Marina & the Diamonds. And now I must stop raving about it lest it sells out. Topshop - you'll promise to restock Le Rock - oui?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

# 127 Cosmic Dentistry

Sometimes the cosmos sends out some pretty cool messages - and to those lovely individuals at Oral-B who happened to read my last post [bemoaning the fact that my hubby destroyed my beloved sonic toothbrush] a hearty thank you for sending me a far superior replacement: the very latest Oral-B Triumph PC 5000, which sounds rather like a swanky personal computer, but is in fact a 'wireless' toothbrush. 'Wireless' because it communicates with an LED display, letting you know how long you ought to brush for, when to move it around the mouth, if you're pressing too hard and, most importantly for someone who is forever running out of the house a good deal later than they'd aimed to - a CLOCK. Why did I not think of putting a clock in the bathroom before? Lord knows - it would've saved me myriad mini heart attacks over the years & no doubt numerous arguments with Mr M too [my, 'I'll just be 10 minutes' is now, for the first time, an almost accurate prediction].

Anyway, back to this brush, which whizzes around so fast & furiously that teeth are polished up in 2 minutes flat - and to think I used to spend at least 3 reaching in for every nook & cranny. All those precious minutes I'll save... It also comes with 5 modes [4 of which I've yet to try, but have a 'whitening' session planned for later tonight... oh, the glamour] which are sensitive; daily clean; deep clean; whitening and gum massage. Blimey, this baby's going to put dentists out of business! Now, being preggers [sorry, I know I keep mentioning it, but it's responsible for at least 80% of my current beauty woes], means that my gums are that bit more sensitive, so this couldn't have arrived at a better time. Just 5 days in and teeth are that bit spanglier and gums haven't bled once. Now, to purchase this power-tool one would need to fork out in the region of £160. Ouch. Would I? Well, yes, as a matter of fact I absolutely would... as Sam Seaborn once said to CJ Cregg in The West Wing: 'Your teeth are the best friends you have CJ.' And one look at Rob Lowe tells us just how seriously he takes matters of oral hygiene. CHEESE!

And now for something I never do [rest assured, this isn't a monetarily endorsed plug], BUT it is currently, fittingly National Smile Month when slogans like the aforementioned might be bandied around rather too heavily, but when, in truth, rather important stats surface too: namely that the average Brit brushes their teeth for just 37 seconds. Blimey. That explains a lot.

So, even if you don't have the funds to put your money where your mouth is, you can always spend the time instead. Now rinse. And spit. And SMILE.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

# 126 Brushing Up

I had a fab sonic toothbrush, a really expensive one, and it needed a head change. Sadly, said head refused to be removed, even with huffing and puffing red-cheeked levels of exertion. So I handed over to Mr M and asked him to do the honours. At which point he snapped the head clean off, exposing all the scary wiring inside and consigning it to the dustbin forever after. And I've yet to replace it (I bought a cheaper sonicare equivalent from Makro instead)... but I still have fond memories of my smart sonic brush with its varying speeds & flashy lights & clever 'press too hard & I'll stop working' in-built monitor. Sigh.

Now, with my latest sonic gadget - the Clarisonic Face & Body Brush - it goes without saying that Mr M will be allowed nowhere near (despite picking up the package when it arrived & mocking the pseudo-science all over the box). I've wanted one for ages actually & shall be guarding it well and popping it back in its custom cradle every night to ensure it stays in tip-top condition. Well, it does cost a whopping £175.

So, I've been using it for the week. It's taken me a while to get the hang of it because I'm using it with my customary ESPA and Emma Hardie balm-style cleansers (applied to skin, emulsified with warm water, brushhead wet with warm water, brush applied to skin) and not the cleansers it comes with. The first night I did a single cleanse - removed eye make-up first and then buffed away with the brush until it timed out (it only lasts 60 seconds each time). I spent too long on cheeks, not long enough on chin & failed to heed the beeping signals (it's a bit like the GPS of cleansing). The second night I had another read of the manual and had more luck - and I also cleansed first with my balm, patted skin dry, and then massaged another layer of my cleansing balm into my skin, emulsifying it with hot water, and letting the damp brush come into contact with the complexion. The amount of colour that came away within the brushes bristles was sobering - despite that first cleanse I'd already carried out.

What was most noticeable was the heightened rosiness of my skin after I'd finished - and not an irritated flush, but a circulation-boosted glow. Skin also felt very very soft (and I've been using exfoliating muslin cloths with my cleansing balms for almost a decade), and product absorbed marginally better afterwards. The next morning a couple of little spots had come up on the chin - not troublesome ones, just pores which could be easily evacuated - as though deeper impurities were being drawn out by the Clarisonic. I'm now a full week in and it's all going smoothly. As with everything I trial I'll be giving this the full month & suspect it will become a regular part of my nighttime routine. Given that I normally spend 10 minutes cleansing (I don't feel like 'me' unless I've done the 'massage, steam & buff'), this is actually far speedier, so that's a nice perk to get in exchange for a more thorough cleanse. Thumbs up.

Also going through the MM motions this week are:

Dior's new Hydralife Pro Youth Sorbet Eye Cream. It is too heavily fragranced (I'm used to things that smell like god intended) and contains too many preservatives for comfort. Also, and this is probably not a surprise, while suffering my eczema flare-up a week ago, this stung on contact with the sore patches. On the plus side (and there is a plus side), it sinks into skin very very well & plumps out those fine lines in seconds; it's a good make-up base because it's utterly ungreasy, and because I had no choice but to use it for a full 3 weeks because I packed no other eye cream while away in Paris, I did notice that it helped with my customary dark circles too... not 'WOW' worthy, but worthy enough, or wary-with-benefits...

E45 Cream. Never let it be said that I won't swallow my wise-cracking words. Off to see doctor with the ol' eczema story. She takes a peek and prescribes a very mild steroid cream and a topical emollient. When she says E45 I roll my eyes and nod, politely, knowing it won't do any good at all. Then, whadya know. I used the steroid cream on day one only (I hate them, spent 10 years as a kid being covered in them, and now that I'm 7 months pregnant - and despite their 'absolute safety' - I just want to steer clear if I can possibly bear it), and then switch to lashings of E45 for the body patches - and can't believe it, but eczema has all but disappeared. This comes after 6 months of natural shea, vitamin E, coconut oil, chamomile cream... I cannot even list the number of homeopathic & natural remedies I've tried for fear that this blog will go into meltdown over excessive word-count. And in 3 days, the bog standard, cheap as chips E45 has all but banished the itchy patches. [Weleda Skin Food I learned, to my immense disappointment, was good at calming, but did not manage to clear entirely]. I'm in denial [surely it's the steroid cream more than the E45? Right?] - but my body's there to taunt me. But given that I'm entirely comfortably-skinned for the first time since getting preggers, I'll let it have its moment. Long may it continue.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

#125 Forget Paris

When travelling I like to pack a bag of untried goodies which get a trial in the hotel bathroom. I always seem to have more time to test, and also the inclination, thanks to more nights out and days spent meeting-and-greeting as opposed to working from home (which is what I do 80% of the time in Londres). On holiday I'll always try at least one new lip colour and something tinted, ordinarily with SPF, to see how coverage fares in other climes.

In the bag that spent 2 weeks with me in Paris were the following:

Dior Hydra Life Pro Youth Skin Tint - my companion tested this on my behalf & used it everyday for 2 weeks. It was imperceptible, feather-light and felt very comfortable on her sensitive skin. It did a great job of covering imperfections & I noticed a real difference in her skin pre- and post-application. I'd try it myself but she went home with it. Cheeky. But surely the surest sign of a top skin treat?

Ellis Faas Creamy Lips - wow. I love lippy - YSL, Chanel, NARS, MAC, Revlon - but this stuff felt too good to be true. I twisted up the pen to get a teeny blob of colour through the firm sponge applicator and it went on like poster paint - utterly faithful to the colour in the tube, incredibly smooth, deeply pigmented but entirely comfortable and light feeling. Heck, it even felt hydrating. And it stayed put. Just not possible to fault this one! I used shade L103 - and loved it - a geranium red that really perked up my face.

And to add to the eternal lip balm quest - I snapped up Caudalie in Paris - just 3euros at the local pharmacy - and it's doing a lovely job too. Wish I'd bought a couple more.

Venus Embrace Razor - okay, so has anyone ever seen that hilarious comedy sketch about the marketing team behind a fictional toothbrush company who are brainstorming the various ways they can get people to buy a new model? They're talking about adding MORE BRISTLES, SQUIDGIER HANDLE, DIFFERENT COLOURS - and then one of them says, 'I know! A tongue cleaner! I bet you we can get people to brush their tongues!' - and you suddenly realise how ridiculous it is that existing companies have in fact made toothbrushes with tongue scrapers attached [ick]. Well, sometimes the razor market seems the most bonkers of all - driven by tireless 'bigger betterdom' - and MOISTURISING STRIPS, SPRUNG HANDLES, AERODYNAMIC DESIGN, RUBBER FINS... and the continual boost in blades seems increasingly comical. I mean - where will the line be drawn? 8? 10? Wasn't 1 enough? Really? Well, I'm biting my sarcastic tongue, because I used the Embrace while away [yep, the new Gilette offering which serves up 5 blades], and it gave me the closest, smoothest shave of my life. It was also remarkably speedy - a single swipe caught every single hair, so both legs & underarms were dealt with in about 2 minutes flat. This one's definitely earned its non-ironic place in my arsenal.

Unfortunately I also had a close shave of a less pleasant kind. Namely after a facial which left me red & blotchy - my eczema being the current bane of my life since becoming pregnant [oh to be one of those pregnant women whose eczema disappears entirely!]. I woke up the next day with the sort of painfully tight skin that has never been my lot in life (grainy and with the fine-lined texture of tissue paper across the cheeks and under the eyes), and completely freaked out. How had my skin gone from perfect to patchy in just 24 hours! I knew I had to bring the allergic reaction back down - felt like my face was on fire, and the redness around my brows, eyes and cheeks was glaring. The first thing I tried was Weleda Skin Food, but discovered it's rather better in smaller doses and not as grand spread all over the face when said face is burning up - that bit too thick & sticky. Inspecting my face again I noticed just how dehydrated the skin seemed, so I layered on ESPA's Floral Water with the Cellular Hydrating Complex. This made a marked improvement - skin drinking it up and cooling down. I also purchased Bioderma Make-Up Remover which worked a treat around my sore eyes [it's a backstage favourite], and tapped some of The Organic Pharmacy Ultra Hydrating Cream onto the driest sorest patches throughout the day. Thankfully [and after a few days of anti-histamine help too], things are almost back to normal. I've also traded out Emma Hardie's Cleansing Balm for the time-being [I have an inkling that the mandarin & orange essential oils have been causing a sting upon my sensitized skin], and returned to ESPA once more for what my skin seems to tolerate as a gentler, less irritating cleanse. Although, I must note that prior to the flare-up Emma H was doing a divine job of making my complexion bright, soft and very very comfy, so this one will be back on the shelf as soon as skin's back up to scratch.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

# 124 Eye No

Hanne from asked when the right time was to start using eye creams & what might work for someone like her, in her early 20s...

Perfect timing given that I'm in the midst of an eye-cream quest myself - I had the dreaded WOODS LAMP treatment again last week which showed that the most dehydrated part of my face was the skin around my eyes; a bit of a shocker given that I do a twice-weekly eye mask (Sisley) & have been using Estee Lauder's new Time Zone Anti-Line/Wrinkle Eye Cream for the past 10 weeks which has [in their own words]:

'TriHyaluronic Complex, which plumps away the look of fine, dry lines and gives skin the hydration it needs to stay looking smooth, supple and revitalised. It infuses the eye area with 5 times the concentration of TriHyaluronic Complex found in the face formula.'

And though I'm not afflicted with lines or wrinkles just yet (well, I am only 29) - I'm well aware that dehydrated skin is far more inclined to age speedily, so I'm now on a mission to find a cream that will plump, illuminate, hydrate & moisturise.

Chatting to PR Clare Forde last week, it occurred to me that perhaps I've been looking in the wrong place. If it's hydration that I'm after, a deeply penetrating & easily absorbed serum could be the way to go - chased with something containing SPF for day perhaps, and reparative antioxidants & smoothing actives at night.

I'm old & just about wise enough to know that an eye cream is never ever going to cancel out dark shadows, permanently erase wrinkles or conduct a mini eye-lift. So, what do I want? I want the skin beneath my eyes to feel plump, but not tightened; soft, but not silicone-y; bright, but naturally so - not because of light reflective particles.

I'd been sent ESPA's Firming Eye Contour Concentrate a while ago - and hadn't realised that the
serum was actually meant to be used as a self-contained treatment regime (it comes in two mini bottles with pipettes). A few weeks in I desisted - I wasn't hugely fond of the smell (a bit fishy at times which is a side-effect of the marine algae), and because, I suspect, I am not yet suffering from saggy skin in said area, the tightening effect was not really to my taste. However, I have to say that after a perfectly-pitched facial at The Europe in Ireland (following a fair bit of eye work, massage & the application of latter concentrate), things did look a lot brighter. So perhaps I need to stick to the proposed course - give it the full 8 weeks, and then judge things anew.

For the moment, however, I'm trying Emma Hardie's Amazing Face Firming Eye Serum - it's a light, slightly creamy coloured gel and contains aloe, arnica, orange water & marine active. A little goes a very long way and I'm pleased with how the skin seems to sup it up - nicely hydrating, but accommodates a cream on top too if needed. I'll give this one until the end of May & we'll see where we stand.

And back to Hanne's question about a good eye cream... well, it's back to the old issue of what works for one, may not work for another.

In my entirely subjective experience:

I've tried and liked formulas by Sarah Chapman & Shiseido.

I've also tried eye creams by La Prairie (often thought to be the very best), but I've not been hugely impressed thus far. Anyone else had more luck?

As for staples, Dermalogica Total Eye Care SPF15 has been in my bag for years. I like the fact that it's just a simple to use formula - with built in protection & hydration. It's not particularly advanced, but then, throughout my early 20s I wasn't really looking for miracles. Now, however, I think I need something stronger. This will be the basis of much of my testing for the next two months... we'll see what the beauty bag throws up!

For night, Creme de la Mer Eye Balm is one of those formulas that really does seem to do the trick whenever I try it. And Mama Malcontent (who - if it's possible - has used even more eye creams over the years than I have), really believes it's the daddy. So, it gets a thumbs up - but budget-wise, not so great, sorry about that.

My earlier MISS MALCONTENT'S BEST OF BEAUTY posts (see labels, to the right), also cover what I deem to be the best products across 100 different categories. I intended it to be a good reference point for those new to my blog - so do dip in if you're after the perfect cream blush, a great mascara, or the ideal foot cream...

And in the meantime, I'd love to know what everyone else is using & loving...

Friday, 19 March 2010

# 123 The Hairspray Riddle

Having watched Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland last week I've been unable to get the 'why is a raven like a writing desk?' ditty out of my noggin. Now, riddles in all of their tricky glory (whether decipherable or nonsensical), always get me excited (it's the junior chess-and-crossword-loving type in me). But how a hairspray can also function as an instant-frizz-inducing-bomb is not a question I'm so keen on answering (or at least experiencing in the run-up to a very very important meeting).

The product in question is Sebastian Professional Shaper Zero Gravity - and I used it on the morning of a screen-test for an ITV show. Hair was sleek & glossy - but with rainclouds looming I figured I needed an insurance policy. A rummage in my bag resulted in this long, black tube and a generous spritz later I figured I'd be set for life (or at least late into the morning). The product promises ultra-light flexible hold, or 'layer throughout the styling process to increase, even freeze, hold.' Now, this could be a case of the anti-smarts, and of course there's a chance I did the application bit all wrong - but I did the big spritz, followed by a quick brush through to smooth down, then another sealing spritz - and left the house with head held high.

A humid tube, a dash for the office, a sweaty lift-ride and a nervy introduction later & my hair had gone from modern-blunt to pouffy-puffery - but not big, Cheryl-esque waves, oh no, we're talking an unceremonious swelling (ever seen that episode of Friends set in Barbados, where Monica's hair gets all the biggest laughs? Yep, that was me).

A peek in the lobby mirror on my way out confirmed my worst fears - my hair looked utterly hideous - I've not seen frizz like that in years - not even during a boat ride in sweltering Southern Turkey. So, the riddle remains unsolved (why is this spray like a secret saboteur?), but the results are resounding: NEVER AGAIN.

Or, given that most Sebastian products really do deliver on their promises, not until further investigation/instruction from someone in-the-know at the very least. Any bright ideas?

Monday, 15 March 2010

# 122 And Then She Woke Up

My last post was entitled 'Good Night' - which has come to seem like the spookiest kind of premonition, given that I've spent the last week responding to emails from various PRs, journos and beauty companies alike, who have, somehow, all managed to figure out my identity - and simultaneously. I knew it would happen one day, though not in such a way - but with more & more people catching onto 'the real me' in the past 6 months, I began to feel as though I was slating and rating on very thin ice.

Clearly there's been a leak - and I'm still entirely unsure who sprung it - but not wanting to cower beneath the covers (or hide behind my blindfold) for longer than was truly necessary I've decided to wave the flag myself & so here I am, packing away the incognito crown & facing the world afresh, as me, for better or worse (gosh, this does feel odd).

So, here's how I figured it might work... Miss Malcontent will continue to do what she does best - and there's no need for further fanfare on this front. MM will carry on trying, testing, reviewing and ranting on a regular basis (yes, lord help her), and she'll also do her best to keep responding to each & every personal query & question... this is still the place to be if you want to know what does & does not work. A simple formula & one I'm so happy has worked thus far.

But for all things non-review related, well, it no longer makes sense for me to be 'undercover'. I have rather a lot more to share & show than has been possible within the confines of the MM format, and so I herein direct my fine followers to my other venture: WE MAKE UP AS WE GO ALONG

This is where you'll find the day-to-day details of the life of a freelance beauty editor, the rave on palpitation-producing products, insights from backstage, interviews with truly interesting types, muchos inspiration for those seeking new style directions & regular peeks into the make-up bags of real women (because I'm really rather nosey)... in other words, a veritable cornucopia of cosmetic & counter intelligence, aimed at those who like a short, sharp and snappy style byte on a regular basis. It would be utterly wonderful if you'd consider popping along & lending the new blog your support... it's a newborn so pathetically in need of a bit of attention.

Both blogs will operate side-by-side, supporting one another - and I'll keep both afloat for as long as my little fingers are able (with a little one due in July there may be a quiet time or two ahead, but please, do bear with me)...

And in the meantime, I'd just like to say good day, good morning, good afternoon to those of you all over the world who have stuck with me, lending much-appreciated, vociferous support to the 'truth in beauty' cause...'s nice to finally meet you...

Saturday, 6 March 2010

# 121 Good Night

Have been wanting to award a special mention to 2 products that have made it into my bathroom cabinet this month -

Weleda Skin Food and Philosophy Hope Springs Eternal Deep Sea Revitalizing Face Mask

The first: I got stuck overnight at a friend's house (a private 'mare of mine, as I always fear being caught out without my cleanser & having to make do with soap & water), and was almost ready to call a cab at 3am when I realised I had a tube of Weleda Skin Food stashed in my bag (which the PR had very kindly sent a couple of days earlier for a GREEN BEAUTY story I'm researching). So, I borrowed my matie's cleanser (Yes to Carrots - nice, creamy, hydrating. I washed rather than wiped it off as I also have a mortal fear of make-up removal avec cotton wool. I'm weird. I know). I then squeezed a wee splat of Skin Food onto my hands, warmed it up between my fingertips & massaged it all over my face - including lips & under-eyes. The next morning my skin was insanely soft and had a lovely glow to it. Now, I've been playing this gig long enough to know that beauty one-night-stands are by no means indicative of long-term success. BUT, while I'll no doubt find myself sans kit at the end of many a long day & night, I shall be travelling with Skin Food everyday forthwith. Oh, and the stubborn eczema patch I often get on my wrist (which is actually caused by the lovely tweedy wool at the cuffs of my APC coat), was sent into oblivion by Skin Food too. Have to say, I really love it to bits. And, the mild skin condition's a small price to pay for the perfect coat, right?

Then there's the new mask from Philosophy. Confession numero uno (beauty PRs look away now) - I've never personally used a Philosophy skincare product. I suppose I've allowed my fear of their strongly-fragranced body lines (Cookie Dough, Gingerbread Man etc etc) to colour my view of the brand's cosmetics - which is silly, because I know Philosophy is founded by Cristina Carlino, a lady whose first venture into beauty was a bio-medical line distributed to leading dermatologists and plastic surgeons. So, clearly, this is serious stuff & deserved a second look.

Well, this new mask arrived just in time. I liked the spiel - the seaweed spirulina inside it (I've had good results from seaweed-rich line Thalgo in the past), and the fact that it promises to revitalise, refresh and renew, but without being a peel, a scrub or a deep-cleansing or heat-activated formula. In short - this is the soft touch for softer skin. The first time I used it I was rudely interrupted by the ASOS delivery man so I had to wipe it off after just 3 minutes & dash to the front door; but upon further investigation I could see that it had already made a difference. We're not talking a new face here, but rather a slightly brighter (but not flushed), and softer surface. Tonight I thought I'd give it another whirl (it's 3 days after the 1st attempt - the pack says it's safe to use whenever you feel like it). I left it on while I showered this time - so around 10 mins - which is longer than the directed 5 mins in the instructions. When I rinsed it away I noticed that skin definitely looked brighter, healthier and make-up went on nicely afterwards. It's one of those easy fall-back products that I know I'll reach for of a rushed morn and be most thankful for. It's not, however, capable of enormous improvements - but as I've so often found, the biggest improvements tend to take time (and in my experience it's better to use even the most gentle microdermabrasion products & peels the night before rather than morning of). So, yes, it's another notch on my beauty post & one that I'm extremely happy to have stumbled upon at the very end of another very long night...

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

# 120 Sugar Puffs

There are some days when nothing can be done.

Honestly, I've had enough of them to know this to be true. You just wake up, a bit puffy of jaw, shadowy of eye, blotchy of skin, blemished of chin - and yes, you know you'll look better post-slap - but that, however hard you try, you still won't look great. It's what I call a 'Can't Fake It' day, when make-up is a band aid rather than blaze of glory... when skin's just not playing ball and you'd rather retreat to loafing-land than go out and meet all those people who expect you to look, well, like you know what you're talking about.

Ordinarily I hit the panic button and the old faithfuls come out of the cupboard: Origins Modern Friction; Dermalogica Multi-Vitamin Power Recovery Mask OR Guinot Masque Essential Nutrition Confort; Sisley Eye Contour Mask; Lancome Hydra Zen Tinted Moisturiser (a newish find - very nice); a dusting of BareMinerals powder; Dior Skinflash; Stila Eyeshadow in Kitten and Guerlain Terractotta Bronzer... you know the routine.

But last week I had a bad day. So bad in fact that when I looked at myself in the mirror that morning I actually gasped. Out loud. I'd seemingly gained 6 pounds in my sleep and forgotten to take off my mascara the night before (I hadn't been wearing any) - everything was just off - out of focus, as though my features had decided to go into hibernation and been replaced with fading scribbles - like those chalked silhouettes of removed corpses you always see on CSI. Mortification! Then I remembered the salt-and-sugar fest I'd enjoyed the very late night before (look, I'm pregnant okay), and so, because it was a Saturday, I decided to go back to bed in a bid to wake up thinner, brighter and less likely to jump off the balcony. Surely, I just needed more sleep?

And whadya know? It actually worked. Which just goes to show that sometimes the best thing is to sleep on it.

And if that fails, well, time to bring on the cosmetic cavalry.