Monday, 12 September 2011

#145 Turkish Delights (and frights)

The things getting me through a 40 degree holiday this year - which has been more tiring and physically draining experience than I've ever known, thanks to the toddler's newfound running feet - are:

- Liz Earle Botanical Aftersun Gel - soothing, immediately cooling, nicely non-tacky on dry-down. Good smell too.

- My Bobbi Brown Oil-Free Tinted Moisturiser is holding up really well out here. On my oiliest spots (chin, nose, forehead), I've been moisturising with ESPA Cellular Hydration Complex (yep, the one before they discontinued it), then their Tea Tree Gel. My foundation then goes on really smoothly and stayed remarkably un-slicky looking for the majority of the day.

- Japonesque Tweezers. These have proven their worth, snagging even the least cooperative straggler, and seem to have sped up my plucking sessions by half.

And Kalms. Lots of Kalms. The only way I seem to be able to switch off after the buzziest of beach-to-bed days.

What's not floated my boat this summer:

- Clinique Targeted Protection Stick SPF35 . Just far too greasy. Melted down into my eyes on my last day at the beach. Not pleasant.

- REN Moroccon Rose Body Cream. Do not ask me why - for I am neither a biochemist nor a dermatologist - but for some reason, this cream has not done my skin any favours. I have bumpy backs of arms (something that ordinarily clears up within 48 hours of me entering the sea), and I've been left with tacky limbs almost all week long. Not happy.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

144 The BANNED and the BEAUTIFUL

As a beauty director in the full-time employ of a woman's magazine that relies upon its advertisers, hmmm, this is tricky. Last week two adverts were banned by the advertising standards authority – following Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson’s campaign against ‘overly perfected and unrealistic images of women’ in adverts.

The adverts featured the actress Julia Roberts and the model Christy Turlington promoting LancĂ´me's Teint Miracle foundation and Maybelline's the Eraser foundation.

You’ve probably seen them? Both women look preternaturally perfect – pore/line/hairless. But they also look like ‘themselves’ – and having seen both women in real life, I can say that sincerely, and attest to the fact that, yes, their facial configuration is maintained. We’re not slimming noses, trimming eyelids, changing lips. Light and shade is what’s being played with here… to an extreme, yes, absolutely.

But beauty imagery has rarely lived within the realms of reality. As Lucy Beresford said when I interviewed her for a feature in PSYCHOLOGIES magazine, ‘I just don’t think it is damaging to see beautiful women advertising beauty products. Psychologically beauty has always been linked to fantasy, and is therefore often about archetypes or ideals.’ As such, an airbrushed version of Julia Roberts – already a phenomenally beautiful woman – becomes almost mythically ‘ideal’ – a modern-day Helen of Troy: flawless. This is familiar territory. This does not shock or disappoint me. I am used to it. I do not think it harms me in any way.

This is, after all, an advert. Does it make some women feel bad? Do people look at the image and think, ‘I hate my lines, I hate my wrinkles, I hate my spots, I hate my freckles’ – I want to have a CGI-complexion just like Julia’s – or do they look at it and think, ‘I know that’s not reality, because it’s selling me something.’

Perhaps because I fall into bracket B, I found Jo Swinson’s campaign intriguing. Had it been me, I would’ve picked on the over-sexualised, derogatory, degrading stances taken by so many beauty brands in a bid to sell ‘sexy’ to little girls. Now, that’s something I’d really like to shout about.

But in terms of bare-faced fact, of course Swinson is absolutely right. This is false advertising. Using a celebrity head, or eye-lid, chock-a-block with extensions to sell a volumising shampoo or mascara is mendacious. The product is making a visual promise it cannot deliver in reality. It does so brazenly – ‘no, our mascara is not good enough to give you the look of actual false lashes, so we will stick false lashes on and admit it, but hope you’ll still buy it and hope to look as though you’re wearing actual false lashes.’ With the pulled ads, the ruling is that the images are misleading. That the ban was upheld surprised me greatly.  After all, what beauty advert is not misleading? From the supremely slim and lithe limbs showcased in shaving ads (utterly hairless yet being shorn nonetheless), to the invisible ‘pure’ pores of those deep-cleansing foams… the exaggerated before and afters as ubiquitous as those blindingly bright smiles.


But, back to that fantasy thing… in my mind, I know that I will never, ever wake up looking like Julia Roberts. Or Eva Mendes. Or Cheryl Cole. But getting ‘airbrushed’ skin? I know this is possible. Cosmetic airbrushes do exist. SK-II Air Touch Foundation, for example – wowee. That stuff took years off and added hours of sleep on. And I could show you the before and after pictures to prove it.

Many believe that this ban is a sign of things to come… that consumers are growing increasingly tired (and cynical) of over-inflated claims. But that there are many beauty products out there which employ sound science and ground-breaking technology – in those foundations designed for use in an HD-TV generation for example – seems beside the point here. If the world’s most beautiful women are not deemed beautiful enough to sell a face cream without getting a bit of ‘help’, what does that say about the rest of us? Lost causes?

I think the ban will serve simply as a warning. Brands will become a bit more cautious… and then it will be business as usual.

That these idealised images can prove harmful to a woman’s sense of self-esteem is inarguable (swot up on the PSYCHOLOGIES Beauty Manifesto, for a deeper read)… but I believe such things are far less harmful to women than so many other insidious, institutional and oft-ignored and damaging issues. That’s my sticking point. Airbrushing is as old as the Hollywood hills. And ‘retouching’? Well, what about those portraits of Anne of Cleves that coaxed Henry into a blind marriage?


People like to hark on about the good old days when movie stars were allowed to break the mould… when people looked unusual and idiosyncratic beauty was celebrated. I am not convinced by this line of thought. Those old gals succumbed to more than their fair share of jiggery-pokery too – eyebrows shaved, realigned, re-drawn, hairlines moved back or up at the sides, noses shaved and slimmed (permanently and painfully), hair colour altered at a director’s whim, and slimming pills dolled out like popping candy, in a bid to shrink starlets down to size.

Swinson’s conclusion:

"Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don't reflect reality," said Swinson. "Excessive airbrushing and digital manipulation techniques have become the norm, but both Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts are naturally beautiful women who don't need retouching to look great. This ban sends a powerful message to advertisers – let's get back to reality.

My conclusion:

Let’s focus on positive imagery and confidence-boosting messages. Do away with the beauty ‘rules’. Break all moulds. Stop selling sex in lieu of scent. Fantasy has its place, and that does not bother me. But when fantasy masquerades as empowerment… that really, really does.


Friday, 17 June 2011

#143 Passion Project... or Cash Cow?

I've had a wee look behind the velvet curtains these past few weeks. Taking on more consultancy, and meeting up with a series of beauty insiders in pursuit of the very best pages for my magazine, I've had my aspirations deflated. Do you want to know who is behind most beauty brands? Two people. One's in a suit and the other's in a lab-coat (if you're lucky. If not, the other's in a suit too, flogging ready-made things over the internet, which get mixed together in a place where the labour is cheap, and no waiting). One pays, and one enables. But who brings the passion to the table? Unfortunately there are more brands than I could possibly name (even those little 'homegrown' varieties, that seem so much like happy endings), that were set up by business executives, investment bankers, financiers who had no knowledge of, or personal interest in, the actual meaning of a 'beauty product'. We know that every product makes a promise. It's an emotional thing. We pick it up, smell it, rub it in, wish for it to do all those things it says it will... because we're drawn into the story on sale. Whether you want to be the clear-skinned jet-setting businesswoman, or the ageing gracefully stay-at-home mother, the whisper is the same (I know what you want. I care about you. I will work for you. I promise.)

I've had my innocent little mind burnt before. Brands I'd held up as true reflections of a private passion were rather more pictures of filling gaps in gaping markets. And an entrepreneur whom I'd long admired - a household name, synonymous with changing the face of beauty retail - is by all accounts someone who cares not a jot for her people, but rather the glow you get after making all that green.

Don't get me wrong. I get 'business'. I also understand that there are some enormous brands out there that are producing very impressive ground-breaking science-led launches, and offering advanced skin solutions at affordable prices to those who'd otherwise remortgage their house to get the same benefits.

I'm also as driven to be successful as the next woman, but if my brand is all about passion, about a belief in doing something better, about providing a solution when there's none to be found, about working on something for my friends, my family... on making people feel good... I'd like to think I'd put my money where my heart is.

To this end I've taken on a rather lovely consultancy project that, of course, I'm unable to say anything about, suffice it to say, it's a big deal, promising great, affordable, green products with a host of exciting and interesting USPs... watch this space. Working with people who care, who get ill because they care, too much, is how I work to. If it matters, it ought to give you a belly-ache. That's just me.

But among this school of beauty sharks are some true, soulful, passionate people. I've been to lunch with them. We've shared secrets. They've made me smile. They get a bit too loud when talking about what matters, because, that's what really matters!

Geraldine Howard of Aromatherapy Associates

Tanya Kazeminy Mackay of Mama Mio

Rebecca Hopkins of Balance Me

Kathy Phillips of This Works

Imelda Burke of Being Content

Sarah Chapman, of Sarah Chapman Skinesis

Yes, good women all, with the goods to back it up.

Thursday, 19 May 2011



Ordinarily this is absolutely not my bag. I have never accepted money for reviews - certainly not false good reviews! - but when ESPA approached Handpicked re their new Lift & Firm range, I had the inside track.... having met with founder Sue Harmsworth a few weeks before the line hit shelves, and secreted a few products into my bathroom cabinet for testing, I didn't need a payment-prod to get typing on this one...

Here's why:

The new Lift & Firm range is comprised of 5 new products:
Lift & Firm Intensive Serum, Moisturiser, Eye Serum, Eye Moisturiser and Face Mask.
It's a lovely tight little range of targeted treatments designed for 40+ skins.

Mama Malcontent got a full set to trial (I'd already thumbs-upped the mask), and here is what she said. "It all smells lovely for a start, not fake floral or astringent or overpoweringly 'nice'. It's clean and simple, a bit like a breath of fresh sea air. I stuck with it for 3 weeks, cleansing every night with my normal wash-off, then the first time I used it I exfoliated with a Kate Somerville product, before rinsing off and using the Intensive Serum. It's got a great feel to it - silky without being siliconey - and sinks in beautifully. You only need a couple of drops but I was tempted to put some more around my eyes, laughter lines and across my neck because it felt very pleasant. I then massaged in the Moisturiser, tapped on a couple of drops of the Eye Serum, then a drop of the Eye Moisturiser under each. Interestingly, because I normally use a face oil and a cream, I noticed the difference in using a serum and cream - my skin felt 'watered' rather than 'oiled' and I liked it!

The next day I did the same thing, but used the Mask first. It's lovely this. I like Argan Oil already and this has rather a lot in it (I'm told by my daughter it's lovely high-grade stuff too), along with nice sounding things like Pellan Silt and Frankincense. I put it on before a bath, left it on for 20 minutes, and skin really did have a noticeable soft, bouncy feel to it afterwards. Those superficial dehydration lines looked better, and deeper lines across forehead, and under eyes, softened too. So, yes, it hydrates nicely and makes an immediate difference because of it.

I continued using all the products - so mask 2-3 times a week - and everything else (eye serum in morning, eye moisturiser at night, because I like a fresher feel in the day and a creamier treat before bed), and my skin feels 1) softer; 2) lines look a bit softer which I can tell is because my skin is just better 'fed' and getting more hydration etc, and 3) does indeed feel a bit firmer.

It's been a very busy and chaotic few weeks with not a huge amount of sleep - and I'm convinced that I'd look knackered if not for these products. I look tired, but wouldn't scare off little children - result!

Oh, and I also like the fact that none of these products feel 'heavy'. They sink in, soothe, smell good - and nothing needs to be massaged in over & over before skin drinks it up. I've used some very very expensive creams in the past (thanks, again, to my daughter!), which have felt sticky and oily, and none of the Lift & Firm products do any of that.

You do feel the difference sooner than you see it... and I fully intend to stick with it for 6-8 weeks because first impressions are positive ones."

So, there you have it. Right from the Mama Malcontent's mouth.

Monday, 18 April 2011

#142 All Good Things

Oops, I did it again. Life got in the way. But it's given me time to discover a whole host of new, very good things, all of which I've come to rely on when said life is more chaotic than calm.

Bobbi Brown's Oil Free Tinted Moisturiser SPF15 - great. Manages to make even ropey skin look healthy, and works well in summer, because despite the brightest rays, it remains natural and unnoticeable. Holy grail stuff this.

Revlon's Just Bitten Lip Stain. I layer up Passion and Frenzy, for a deep, pink-hued berry mouth. Lasts an age, and is wondeful under lippy too - as the latter wears off, the former stays put, ensuring you're not left with the dreaded fade out.

Kiehl's Line Reducing Eye Brightening Concentrate. This is my new night-time treatment - I use Prevage with SPF during the day. I have absolutely no doubt that the combination has lifted my lack-of-sleep induced circles into a far less frightening realm. Hell, I was even described as 'rested' looking last night. Ha!

All for Eve Body Butter. As far as fuss-free, but efficacious, formulas go, this is a winner. It is delightfully creamy, but not sticky -and rubs in to leave limbs soft, almost damp with moisture, but not tacky.

Nuxe Soleil Prodigieux Beautifying Self-Tanning Body Lotion. My excitement at having found a pleasant body hydrator, that can be rubbed in - clumsily - wherein skin develops a wholly natural golden hue, is insurpassable. Where have you been all my life? Legs were bared for the first time in a year, and the result did not send small children fleeing.

Margaret Dabbs Exfoliating Foot Mousse Scrub. Satisfyingly gritty, this contains both tea tree and emu oil - the result, zingy, smooth, refreshed feet - that are also bright and soft.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

# 141 Good Skin

I have good nails. I've been approached by several different people re a spot of hand modelling, but, well, I'm far too lazy and clumsy... I've never had a manicure that's outlasted the week, couldn't be bothered to shield mes mains in mitts, I don't care for my cuticles or take calcium supplements. My good nails and long fingers are a genetic gift, just like my odd teeth and propensity to gain weight around the bootie area. I've gotten so used to answering on autopilot, 'what, these old things, they take care of themselves,' that it was only a matter of time before Monsieur Ironique decided to serve me a kick in the chops - in the form of peeling nails that attracted the pitying glances of my manicurist. Once we established the fact that I was 6 months post-pregnancy she sighed, 'J-yes, I zee zis all zee time. You muzt luke after your nails better. Your vitaminzez were leached away by bebby; you breztfeed? J-yes, me too. So, zis is why your nails, they look like zhits.' I may have paraphrased that last bit, but, well, you get zee gist. What was once naturally perfect now requires a (ahem) helping hand. So, it's been Decleor treatment oil, CND Solar Oil, Philosophy's new hand & nail cream, no polish for a bit, and, yes, those supplements (I'm trying Healthspan's NURTURE range). I'm only a week in, but things are already looking up. I want to give the supplements etc 6 weeks though, so ping me back if you want to know how it went (and if I remember, I'll follow up here).

Onto the skinfront, which was also looking decidedly washed out. Yes, yes, I'm tired. No, no, I haven't had a full 8 hours for a full 7 months. But, that's okay. My body seems to have lain down and accepted it... well, I'd quite frankly pass out anywhere. To be fair to my face though, the skin really isn't doing that badly. I'm not spotty or ridiculously grey or dry as a coconut biscuit... but, I was lacking glow, a thing I used to have rather too much of (and needed regular t-zone wipes to rectify). What's helped? At the moment a combination of 2 cleansers - Elemis Melting Cleansing Gel, because it takes make-up off very quickly and rinses cleanly away; and then a quick scrub with Tata Harper's Regenerating Cleanser (which will go on sale in Space.NK in the UK in, I believe, April). I tried using the Tata Harper line exclusively for 2 weeks, but my skin got very very dry and just seemed to feel sticky all the time. It's weird, because I was layering on all of her serums and spraying the mist and doing all the massage - and I have to say, I had the very very highest hopes for this line - but it turned my skin into a bit of a confused mess - a bit spotty around the chin, dry around cheeks, and the undereye area wasn't served any favours by the serum either... my dark circles began to border on blue. Now, I know what you're thinking: I only gave it 2 weeks (which I chide others for doing over & over)... 2 weeks is not a fair trial, and because it is not, I do intend to return to it in the future at a time when the appearance of my skin is not so damn crucial. I'm a beauty director for chrissake, if the face doesn't look good, I have no value.

I need products that really work; really improve; really leave skin feeling balanced and moist and plump and radiant.

So, the two cleansers are working well together at present (Tata's cleanser smells divine) and because it's also gently exfoliating, it leaves a lovely dead-cell free base for my serum, which is Revive Moisture Extreme. This is really really good stuff. In just one week it's cancelled out every bit of dryness I was doing battle with, and really is injecting radiance back into the old mug. I just wish the tube were bigger as this baby is not going to last me another month. And it's really expensive. £220 expensive. Of course. It's also far from 'natural', which is what my skin routine always was, until I reached 30 and started to see a bit of a 'situation' in the mirror. So, it's one of the first very serious serums I've used - alongside Prevage Eye (with idebenone - very good stuff); and Creme's Radiant Serum (which did indeed make my skin look glowier, but after 2 months had not left it better hydrated, which I do so desperately need at present). It's grown-up skincare, and the results sure do make everything else look like a kid in costume.

Oh, and now for the thing I never thought I'd say (or type). I love the new Benefit face cream. As the PR's a good friend I did promise not to blog about it until March, but, well, we're almost there right? And I have no doubt that Brit Beauty Blogger got their first anyway! So, the Be Radiant line made its way onto my bathroom shelf DESPITE containing artificial fragrance (I hardly ever, ever, ever use perfumed products); despite not being natural or organic in any way (or even trying to be); despite being from a cutesy, quirky brand that I had never, ever once associated with skincare. So, words eaten, because I've been using the Face Cream for 2 weeks and it's one of the loveliest formulas out there. It's silky, velvety, completely absorbed, amazing before make-up, banishes dry patches like nothing else (no, not even Creme de la Mer felt more moisturising!). I've had no adverse reactions to it, I'm not spotty or stinging or red or sensitized, I just have softer, brighter-looking skin. People have commented. I'm happy as Larry. And that scent, well, let's just say, it's good enough to make me eat my hat (and a lovely, flowery hat at that). Now, that really is a surprise.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

#140 Easy Days

Those products that enable the speediest of skin improvements have recently become my new questing mecca. Every morning I set out to arrive at fresh, radiant, rested, healthy... even when biology and physicality are both hard at work against me. As I stand here, now, at 30, I feel I'd never entertain thoughts of the surgical variety... but we often take those things that come easiest for granted... with me, the fact that I have oily skin of that very typical olive, Mediterranean variety, means I have not yet wrinkled (and that SPF has been a non-negotiable skincare step for at least a decade helps too). But if someone were to tell me that for the price of a designer coat I could do away with all dark circles, forever, or impending forehead wrinkles, or jowls, or double-chins...well, then I'd certainly be tempted. I do like the idea of looking very good for my age, despite reaching a point now when my face and my number of years of earth are beginning to become faithful reflections of one another. It's hard to say why I no longer look like that younger me - I have no new lines, no pigmentation, but yes, I do look more tired, and when one is tired their face loses that plump carefree quality - and can look a bit worn and wan, even if nothing specifically physical has changed. It's a funny thing, something has changed, and perhaps you feel it more than see it. Yes, I think that's it... I feel, older. But still young. Which is nice.

Recent discoveries of the cosmetic kind have, however, helped. I've long been a fan of Sue Devitt's Microaquatic Tinted Moisturiser, but this week I added a new base to the mix. Givenchy Photoperfexion Light Evanescent Fluid Foundation is really rather fabulous. I don't want to think too hard about what may be in it to allow it to so seamlessly and easily disappear into skin, but this is hands-down the most foolproof foundation I've ever used. Child's play. You simply give the tube a wee squeeze and rub the sponge all over the bits you wish to brighten and cover, and with hardly the need to touch it afterward, it's all done. I checked my complexion in 3 different lights (bedroom/bathroom/office toilet), because I was so surprised. Passed the test in each and every locale (and so speedy too!). Their Jelly Blush, however, did not fare so well. It was very wet, felt unpleasantly cold on the cheeks (but it was a very chilly morning), and made a bit of a mess of the rest of my make-up. Did not like it at all. With the good must come bad..

What else... ? Ushvani Coconut and Hibiscus Body Oil - just lovely, barely any scent, simply nourishing and soothing (didn't even tickle my eczema patches). It pains me to say that one of my favourite brands, ESPA, let me down with its Body Smoothing Shower Gel, which caused a bit of a skin flare-up (and despite being told by the ESPA therapist that it would be fine to use over eczema). Oops. I should've known better though.

So, some highs and lows; over and out.

Friday, 21 January 2011

#139 Lies and Loves

You've probably clocked that I don't blog here very often anymore. I run another blog, we make up as we go along, work (almost) full time for PSYCHOLOGIES as their beauty director, do consultancy & copywriting on the side, and am also, ahem, working on another project of the fiction/fictitious/fictional variety. But I'm just not ready or willing to let Miss M go. Not least of all because I began this blog over 3 years ago, at a time when the online landscape looked very different and there were only a handful of us going at it honestly, via the basic blogosphere, with no one taking very much notice at all. I think I blogged for about 4 months before anyone even read a page, and then, by some virtual twist of online fate, I started picking up peeps in the States, Russia, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Ireland... the list went on. When I hit my 250, 000th user, I could hardly believe it. And then the ad & sponsorship offers came flooding in and, because I had always planned on remaining anonymous/wholly objective/penniless, I turned each and every one of them down. So, no, I've never ever made a penny from this old webpage of mine.

Which doesn't really bother me, except that now I'm expected to accept ads and get involved with campaigns, and add 'adsense' and analytics and links and bits and bobs - all of which I know next to nothing about. And because I'm just a beauty ed who likes to write, it all seems anathema to me... but the beauty bloggers out there who are on top of their tech, and have made a handsome buck for blogging, well, I have nothing but admiration for them either. They're being paid for their passion. It's great! Unfortunately, there is also a whole new horde of hangers-on and beauty make-it-uppers, who call themselves journos, but in actuality joined blogger the day before, and then proceed to round-robin the PRs, wishing to be added to mailing lists in a bid to receive free product.

Last month a good PR friend emailed to check up on the provenance of one such sneaky scribe. She said that she'd recently written for PSYCHOLOGIES. Lie. She said that she was an established writer. Lie. When probed further she said she'd pitched to PSYCHOLOGIES and a story was being 'talked about'. Lie. No pitch, no word, no call. Non-existent in every sense. In truth, it did not really bother me - I understand how attractive the thought of being sent free beauty products must be; and being a beauty ed is one blessed gig, it really is. Travel, beautiful perks, gorgeous product, spas, great working environment, meeting lovely, inspiring, talented people day after day (from PRs and make-up artists to photographers and fellow eds)... I'd never dare complain, lest anyone who does a real job jump down my throat (and rightly so).

So, now I'm caught between blogging and beauty editing. The latter requires my full-minded wholehearted attention, and gets it, the former, well, it satisfies the bit of the soul that just likes to have a ramble, spill some dirty beans, tip products I can't rave about ad nauseam elsewhere because I'd be deemed repetitive (and possibly accused of financially-aided favouritism). I'd just like to clarify that I've never been paid for a 'good' review. But yes, I do have advertisers to keep happy... several... and sometimes it's their money or my (working) life. I wouldn't be the first journo (one of whom I respect so utterly) to be kicked out of the class for mouthing off to the head of an enormous cosmetics company. That old 'Big Daddy' voice kicks in when I'm in moods like this one, crying 'Mendacity', a la 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.' We pay our dues in order to pay our way (and keep that roof above our heads), and save our skin, our magazines, ourselves from ignominious professional extinction.

But at the best magazines there is a balance being struck - between showcasing the very best products from those paying beauty bigwigs, and the penniless grassroots brands that build up slowly, successfully, via the power of recommendation. I cannot help myself in that I am always more interested in the latter, solely because I am like a magpie, drawn to the shiny promise of the 'new'; but I'm also an enormous fan of so many of those bigger brands, carting around their cosmetics without question.

I'm a clear-cut reflection of the very balance I try to maintain upon my own beauty page. At this very moment I am up in Scotland with a vanity case that contains:

A Topshop lipstick
Revlon lipstick
Sue Devitt tinted moisturiser
Two Estee Lauder eye pencils
Bobbi Brown blusher
Philosophy blusher/bronzer duo
Lancome mascara
Clinique mascara
Dior undereye concealer
Three eyeshadows by Urban Decay, Daniel Sandler, MAC
RMS Beauty highlighter
Shu Uemura eyelash curlers
My Face concealer
Nivea Eye make-up remover
Omorovicza body cream
Elemis cleanser
Sarah Chapman serum
Estee Lauder eye serum
Origins exfoliator and hydrating mask
Label.M Dry Shampoo (I ran out of Ojon last week. It's my first time with this L.M one and it is really really great).
Elizabeth Arden (Prevage) eye cream
ESPA face cream
INLIGHT night balm
Caudalie lip balm
Aromatherapy Associates travel bath oil & rescue remedy
Gielly Green conditioner
John Masters Organics shampoo
And, a mini Liz Earle face cream sample, used as a hand cream in handbag

So, when it comes down to it, I simply cannot stop blogging. If I did I'd have no place to say that I'm not paid to say. But, looking up at that list I can also breathe easy. From designer 'couture' cosmetics to handmade, homemade homeopathic remedies, I use it, I love it, I rate it, I trust it, I recommend it. Yes, all of the above WORKS (for me, at least).

So, there's a place for us all up on this hot tin roof of a tricky topic. And there needn't be even a whiff of mendacity about it. Big daddy to little sister brands, one big happy beauty family.