Accessory Lust - R&Y Augousti cuffs

Source: style.com

I know this is a beauty blog, but I am feeling the need to extend that definition somewhat: perhaps we can call it a 'beauty and beautiful things' blog, and I'll make a promise not to do what we in the project management business stupidly call 'mission drift'. That's a very silly and roundabout way of saying that a project has gone right off topic and become something else entirely than what it set out to be. Beauty will remain the core component of this blog, but I will need to occassionally throw in something that gives me a much-needed style-fix.

And what better place to start that with these R&Y Augousti Shagreen and Malachite cuffs? The black and white make me think of delicious mint humbugs, and the green...well, that's just gorgeous. They're the kind of easy luxe piece that you can throw on and instantly up the glamour of any outfit, and my, do I love a cuff. Prices start at $275 from Barneys, NY, and I shall now be investigating whether they exist here in the UK!


What gets you through?

Slightly off topic, this one, but as I am working very late to get a report ready for deadline day, I have switched to my fail-safe means of getting me through the night: one of my favourite songs on repeat.

It sounds so boring to play the same thing over and over again, but it seems to work so well for me. I love trance music and the song that's getting me through tonight just provides the perfect background noise that feels so natural to me that I almost can't hear it: 'trance' music is definitely the correct terminology!

Anyway, in case you're working late too and taking a sneaky break, here's my favourite track to take me from desk to dancefloor! I am very pleased I have Liz Earle's Daily Eye Repair and Armani's Illuminating Concealer to help me through tomorrow!

Kaskade ft. DeadMau5 - Move for Me


Review: Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish

Last week, I received a Liz Earle Eye Try-Me kit and early indications are that I love every single thing in it. The eye creams already seem to be working their magic, but I want to give them a full two weeks before I review them. The one product that had an instant impact is the Cleanse & Polish: it's love. As I've said before, I try a new cleansing routine every time my old one runs out as I have just not found anything worth reinvesting in. I feel like it may be time to stop looking: AMAZING!

For those of you who don't know, Cleanse & Polish is the brand's most famous product. It has won multiple beauty awards and seems much beloved by the beauty world in general. My skin seems to be going through a bit of a transition at the moment and although I am currently experiencing a few out-of-the-ordinary breakouts, I firmly believe that this is because I've finally found the right products and I'm on my way to an altogether more radiant, clearer complexion.

Cleanse & Polish is a two stage process: firstly, the cream is massaged onto dry skin and then the accompanying muslin cloth is soaked in hot water and used to exfoliate skin whilst removing the cream, which lifts all of your make up off. When wearing heavy eye make up, I tend to concentrate the cream around my eyes first and then tissue that off, so that I'm not dragging eye make up across the rest of my face. Amazingly, you need a tiny amount to remove all of your make up, which makes this product fantastic value (prices at the bottom of this post).

The cream has a lovely eucalyptus fragrance that's not overpowering: I know some people aren't as fond of it as I am. Regular readers will know I'm rather partial to such scents - Rituals Hammam, Sanctuary Foot Range: the list goes on - so this is a heavenly twice-daily addition to my routine. Alongside Bliss Steep Clean mask, this really seems to be doing the trick in clearing my skin, and I can see that as soon as this breakout has cleared, my skin will be more radiant than it has been in a long time. What is most impressive is the difference it makes to my made-up skin: my base now looks utterly flawless, which I can only put down to improved skin tone from frequent use of Clease & Polish. I'm using the Vichy cleanser I bought last week every now and then, mostly to remove make up when I get in from work, but I can see this dwindling over the next few weeks.

The Cleanse & Polish Starter kit includes a 100ml bottle of the product and two muslin cloths for £13: as I said above, it's great value, as a little goes a long way. I can see this product being an integral part of my routine for years to come and I couldn't be happier. Liz Earle is available online in the UK and US.


MAC/Rodarte collaboration - essential reading

Hi everyone

I feel I'm a little late on this issue. I won't reinvent the wheel and explain what is going on, as my fellow beauty bloggers have already written some excellently researched pieces on all the issues behind MAC's collaboration with Rodarte which I will link to at the end of this post. Essentially, this collaboration represents the height of poor taste. It takes as it's inspiration a town famous for the exploitation, disappearance and murder of many of its female factory workers, a place where women are abused and without freedom.

I read the articles with ever-increasing shock. We hear stories of injustice and read about persecution and subjugation on a daily basis: issues that we aren't always empowered to do something about. But one thing most of us hold dear is our ability to empathise, to feel upset at such injustice, and where we are able, to do something about them, however small. It is this humanity that, even in the face of adversity, is something that draws us all together. What MAC and Rodarte have shown is an inconceivable lack of any such humanity, and I wonder which smart woman will want to carry products in their handbags that have such blatant disregard for the suffering of an entire population of women?

Accordingly, I haven't posted any photographs of the collection. Out of solidarity and respect for the women of Juarez, educate yourself about this collection and think before you buy. The lovely Mizz Worthy has covered all that you need to know


Best At-Home Facial!

I am having a love/hate/love relationship with one of the skincare products that I purchased recently. The reason that 'hate' is sandwiched between two 'loves' is because my one problem with it is also the thing that shows me it's working, and making me stick with it. You guessed it: it's Bliss Steep Clean (don't worry if you didn't guess: there's no punishment attached!)

Bliss Steep Clean weekly face treatment is amazing. It cleanses my skin better than facials that have cost me £90. I have mentioned that I have some stubborn blackheads, and with yesterday's second use of this product, they are on their way deep into my memory, never to be seen again. Yet this morning, I woke up with six spots around my chin and one near my eyebrow, and I never get such breakouts (I get the odd spot now again, but nothing like this). This suggests two possibilities: that my skin is a vile mess and that Bliss Steep Clean is systematically purging it of all its vileness, crucifix in hand, dowsing those pesky blackheads with holy water and shouting 'THE POWER OF BLISS COMPELLS YOU!'; OR, my skin just doesn't like it. I am praying it's the former and waiting to see what next week brings.

So, as I am going to my cousin's wedding on Saturday, I need my skin to look perfect and so I have taken some serious action against the offending blemishes. This brings me on to what appears to be the finest combination of at-home facial products I have ever stumbled across.

I steamed my face and slapped on a sachet of
Mudd's deep cleansing mask. At 99p per sachet, this is something I have been using since I was a teenager, and I've never been disappointed at its quality when it comes to cleansing and brightening my skin. I always have a sachet of it in the house. After 15 minutes, I used Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish (I promise a post will follow shortly as I am in love with this stuff), before finishing with Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energising Masque. My skin is so bright and so deeply cleansed that I finally have hope that I will be back to normal by Saturday. The spots I had are fast drying out and will now be subjected to a covering of Dermalogica's Overnight Clearing Gel - my all-time favourite congested skin saviour.

As always with skincare, these exact products may not work in the same way for you, but the principles to clear up your skin are the same. First you need to open your pores with steam, use a good cleansing mask (definitely try Mudd for the price), follow with exfoliation to lift the dirt and dead skin cells and then get that much needed moisture back into your skin with a moisturising mask. I really can't fault the Bliss product, but for a cheaper alternative, apply your nomal moisturiser in a slightly thicker layer than normal and relax for ten minutes before rubbing it into your skin and tissuing off the excess. Hopefully your skin will be glowing in no time!

Have you got any clear skin tips to share?

This week's likes and dislikes

As I am meant to be busy writing a very important something for work which has a 12pm deadline, I am instead writing a less important something here. Ugh, I have serious writers' block and need to work it out!

So, here are my likes and dislikes for the week:


- My new Liz Earle Eye Try-Me kit. It's early days but so far I am love, love, loving it. More on this later.
- Wintery food. It's not technically cold here in London, but it's certainly chillier than it was. So far this week, I've made delicious casseroles and yummy soups for quiet evenings in, which the boyfriend and I have eaten whilst snuggled up on the sofa watching...
- Gossip Girl! My boyfriend had never watched it as of a few weeks ago and suggested we crack open my box set of the first series. He then had us watch the entire thing back to back and as soon as it finished, he rushed out to buy the second series (when asked if he liked it he'd say, 'yeah, it's ok'. Yeah, right!) It turns out that his best friend, a barrister, is utterly obsessed with it too, so they've been comparing notes on how much they love Chuck Bass. Me too, but I suspect for different reasons :)


- Sex and the City 2. I was busy when my friends went to see it, and they all reported how average it was, but nothing could've prepared me for the horror when we went to see it last night: it was so bad! The characters seemed even more one-dimensional than they normally are and we tried hard to work out whether there was even a plot to the whole thing. My favourite awful scene was Carrie's 'I feel different tonight' which she says whilst applying some black eye liner: oh, you devil! Truly awful!
- The crazy weather! The morning's are complete with rain and gail force winds, then it's bright and warm, then the black clouds are looming! Please explain HOW a girl is meant to dress for such unpredictability?!
- Work. Speaking of which, I better get back to it right now!


Just arrived: Liz Earle Eye Try-Me kit

As some of you know, I am a Consultant Project Manager which, lucky for me, means that I mostly work from home in the mornings. Today, however, was due to be an exception. I was up bright and early, showered, dressed and made up, and at 8.30am, I skipped out of the front door and walked straight into a delivery man.

Said Postie proferred a box addressed to yours truly and, upon realising that it was the Liz Earle Eye Try-Me kit sent to me by the lovely Andrea at their HQ, I promptly thanked him, turned on my heels and dashed back into the house. I'm sure the office can wait.

For those of you not familiar with the brand, Liz Earle products were launched in 1995, developed by Liz and founded on a strong research base in the use of botanical ingredients and their impact on our natural health and wellbeing. The products contain no animal derivatives, are never tested on animals and make use of organic ingredients where possible, so you can rest safe in the knowledge that your purchases come cruelty-free.

The brand is also multi-award winning. The kit I received lays claim to no less than seven major beauty awards, most sitting on the mantelpiece of their famous Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, which I can't believe I am only just trying!

The products I will be testing are:

- Cleanse & Polish
- Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion
- Daily Eye Repair SPF 10
- Smoothing Line Serum

The kit comes in a handy zip-up travel pouch and includes a muslin cloth for use with the cleanser. I am yet to test everything properly, but here are my first impressions:

- Everything was beautifully tissue-wrapped and the box contained a lovely newsletter and product guide which I will be reading on the train (who wants to read work papers?!) A great source of info and details of more products is always a good thing!
- The products feels and smell divine. I am tempted to sacrifice the already-applied make up so I can use everything, but I am resisting the urge.
- I am amazed at the prices - in a good way. If these products live up to the hype, they are seriously good value. My current eye cream (which doesn't do anything) costs more than the full size Eye Serum and Line Repair together. The Try-Me kit costs £22.25 with full size products starting from £9.50.

I want to give the products a couple of weeks before I review them fully, but I will give you some post-use first impressions by tomorrow morning. I can't wait to start using everything and hope that I've finally got my hands on the perfect eye care range! To see the kit and for more info on Liz Earle, click

A picture will follow later!


New Series: Product Follow-up - Coming soon!

One of the primary reasons for writing this blog is to share my experience of what works, and what doesn't. Like everybody interested in beauty, I try to buy products that will become an essential part of my style arsenal, and minimise those purchases that I use for a couple of weeks and then consign to the back of my cupboard, never to be seen again.

The aim of this little section is to pick up on the products I raved about when I first got them, and to let you know how they're performing a month down the line. I plan to write a couple of lines on whether I'm still using the product, what effects I've seen, and whether I would repurchase. I don't believe that the first few uses of a product are indicative of how it will perform with continued use. Hopefully this series will help you decipher the hero products from the zeroes :)

As much of what I've written about here are new buys, I will be giving a full update in a couple of weeks time on this month's winners and losers: stay tuned!

And I said, 'In these shoes? I don't think so!'

Ah, Monday. That special day that spells the end of lazy afternoons in the sun and hits you right between the eyes at 8am on a crowded train and screams: you've got five whole days of this! Needless to say, I am not Monday's greatest fan, and today has been no exception.

Never one to let things get me down, Monday becomes a day for one things: treats. Today I had not one, but two lunches - I was hungry and Eat had my favourite chicken noodle soup! It also means beauty shopping, and so after work, I popped into Boots and picked up a few 'essentials'. Hey, they count as essentials if they keep me chirpy! Say 'hello' to this evening's purchases...

From left to right, we've got Ms Pedicure Stand Alone Toes, The Santuary Luxury Foot Polish, Vichy's Purete Thermale 3 in 1 Cleanser, The Sanctuary Moisture Rich Foot Butter, Max Factor False Lash Effect Mascara, Aussie Take The Heat heat protectant spray, and No 17 Watershine Lipstick in Flirtini. Just a little shopping...

Here's the lowdown so far:

Vichy Purete Thermale

Vichy, like the other French 'laboratoire' skincare brands, has always struck me as a product for 'grown ups'. At 27, I believe I have fallen into this category for some years, but only today have I taken the plunge. I spent about half an hour mulling over whether to buy this or the new Boots Aqua range, but given that the latter caters for dry, oily/combination or sensitive (nothing for 'normal' skin) I was a little apprehensive so opted for Vichy. I've been in and out of a cleansing routine for a while and was attracted by the simplicity of this product, and on first use, I'm very impressed.

The product is a lovely, light, milky texture and removes make up (even tough eye make up) in a few sweeps. I was amazed at how much of my make up came off, and how quickly. Given that the product claims to cleanse and tone, I was a little concerned that it may be too creamy or too astringent, but nope, it struck the perfect balance. Plus, a little goes a long way, which is what you want to hear when spending £10 on a cleanser. Overall, I'm really happy with this purchase.

Sanctuary Foot Products

The Sanctuary have done a bit of rebranding, and the range is now all eye-catching colours with words like 'essential' and 'secret' thrown in to lure the buyer. The Foot range is entirely new, and packaged in the obligatory light turquoise tubs. There must be some subliminal link when it comes to consumers, feet and turquoise: I imagine we're meant to think of the sea or something cool. I just want nice, soft feet!

I have a pedicure every month and try my best to maintain a routine at home. However, 15 minutes hunched over with a foot scrubber is not my idea of heaven. These tea tree and lavender scented products, however, are. Firstly, the smell is gorgeous, and the products themselves are of a high quality. The particles in the scrub are quite big, meaning that you can really get some good exfoliation going on, and it's rich enough that the whole lot doesn't just slip off your hands and down the drain. The butter is the same scent and very similar to their body souffle in texture. I don't think you can go wrong with The Sanctuary, and these products have definitely brought my shopped-out feet back to life.

Max Factor False Lash Effect Mascara

So, you may remember a certain someone (me) saying that she would definitely repurchase a certain mascara (Maybelline The Falsies) and it was all going so well. It was in my basket at Boots, and then a question popped into my head: in all my years of hunting for the perfect mascara, did I think I'd found it in the Maybelline product, and could I commit myself fully to it? Of course, the answer was no, and tempted at the prospect of even longer lashes, I tossed it aside and bought this insteas. I love it! Yeah, so it's not that different to Maybelline, but that's no bad thing. If there's one thing this girl can say, it's that I will never let a product go untested!

Hope your Monday has been kind to you!

Cheap and very cheerful!

I realised this morning that, so far, most of what I've posted has been pretty expensive skin/haircare products that are not always the most accessible things for me to recommend. For that reason, this morning will be dedicated to sharing my beauty essentials that come in at £10 or less: bargainous!

Vaseline Intensive Rescue Moisture Locking Body Lotion for dry and very dry skin - £2.99 for 200ml

Despite, having neither particularly dry or very dry skin, I recently needed an unfragranced body moisturiser, and being the great lover of Vaseline that I am (I am never without a pot), I decided to plump for this product. I expected to use this once and then go back to my usual body oil, but this cream is so rich and moisturising that I have been using it every day since I bought it. I always feel like unfragranced products are a little more 'hardcore': they don't rely on scent, so rightly or wrongly, I always believe that they are going to be hardworking products. After one use of this cream, my skin was silky soft, something which normal moisturisers just don't do for me. This gets a big thumbs up.

Vaseline Pure Petroleum Jelly - £1.59 for 110g

Vaseline is my 'can't live without' product and I use it on my lips multiple times daily and to remove my eye makeup - yes, I am the poster girl for Grease Addiction! I have quite sensitive eyes and even the most gentle eye makeup removers sting, whereas Vaseline sweeps everything away cleanly and without any tears. I counted up and I currently have three pots of this around the house. I suppose it'll come in handy if anyone gets stuck in a doorway...

Maybelline Pure Minerals Foundation - Power: £9.78 or Liquid: £7.99

Having used both the liquid and the powder, I'd say this is a matter of preference as to which you use. The fluid is light and slightly sheer and the powder provides an amazing finish that you can build up with the great little kabuki brush that's included. I found the powder a little messy when I was applying this on the way to work, but then train-based makeup application is never the easiest, so don't be deterred! A great product and a cheap introduction to mineral foundation.

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle - £4.59 for 250ml

One of my all-time favourite hair rescue products. Slap this onto tired length, breathe in the gorgeous scent and rinse to find hair that's revived and hydrated!

Barry M Nail Polishes - £2.59

In my opinion, these nail polishes are amongst the best quality I have come across - I'd put them on a par with OPI, and for the price, they are certainly the best value. They have some great shades and the 3 in 1 base coat, strengthener and top coat is a stand-out product for me. At this price, you can treat yourself to an extra bottle!

I'll add more products as I think of them, as I have to get to work now, but if you haven't tried any of my recommendations, here's the perfect excuse to treat yourself to some bargain beauty! What are your low cost hero products?


Dermalogica Updates!

Wow: I am loving my skin today. This is not always something that I find myself saying.

*Just had to note that my lovely, ex-public school boyfriend is currently singing along to Beyonce's 'Me, Myself and I' that's on his iPod and getting really into the high bits - hilarious and adorable*

Anyway, the Dermalogica I used yesterday has worked wonders on my skin. We went out for dinner this evening and I used mascara, eyeshadow, eyeliner, a bit of concealer, blush and lipstick. Notice anything missing there? Yes, I didn't use any base at all. Not even a lick of tinted moisturiser, and I can't believe it. I thought I'd test it out and was amazed that my skin could carry it off. I have only word: YEY!

This morning, I used their Extra Firming Booster, a product that felt like it was working straight away. It needed to be worked in, as it almost felt like it was trying to vanish into my skin as soon as I applied it. For the whole day, my skin has felt plump and springy, but with no tightness at all. I followed with Active Moist, and I am absolutely convinced that I will be buying a Dermalogica moisturiser as soon as I finish my Crema Nera.

It's so funny that I always go to Dermalogica for facials, love the results and then never think to bring the range home with me. Project Samples has shown me the light, and my birthday list is quickly filling up with their products.

And our meal tonight was absolutely delicious. We went to a local bistro that specialises in classic British dishes in a really luxurious environment, and I am contemplating just letting them cook for me the rest of my life. I have been feeling a little under the weather this weekend, and fancied something really comforting and I plumped for something that, bizarrely, I've never eaten before: chicken kiev. Lordy, it was fantastic! Plus, it came with the crispiest, yummiest fries I've ever eaten. Mmm, I want more! Hope you've all had a fantastic weekend: work tomorrow and the one thing I'm most excited about: the forecast predicts rain! This little Mancunian is way overdue a good watering!



Skincare: Project Samples

Over my many years of beauty product-loving, I have accumulated and inherited (thanks, Patsy!) a large collection of product samples that all find their home in a container in the bathroom, but never, ever do I use them. Everytime I decide to have a long soak in the bath, I rummage through the samples, select a few to use, and for some reason, just don't. I seem to have some weird attachment to this enormously well-stocked selection of sachets, tubes, blister packs and bottles. Perhaps they're like the Rooks at the Tower of London: if the samples disappear, my kingdom will fall. Probably not, though.

So, today sees me cracking open this little lot...

The first round of products for trial are by Dermalogica. I am a huge fan of Dermalogica and they're always my first port of call for a facial, yet I have a huge stack of untested products from them: am I mad!?

So, I've just blasted through their Skin Renewal Booster, Skin Hydrating Masque, Multivitamin Power Firm for eye and lip, and finished with Sheer Moisture SPF 15. I love an at-home facial! This week's first use of Bliss Steep Clean has inevitably brought out a few spots, and a lack of sleep, combined with the tropical temperatures we're experiencing in London, my skin has become a little rough. After these treats, I am smooth-skinned and glowy once more!
The stand-out product for me in this bunch was the Skin Renewal Booster. As soon as I applied it, the rough texture vanished to be replaced by baby-soft skin. The Hydrating Masque can be applied around the eyes and provided a really welcome boost to my sleepy peepers, and I have just applied my third coat of Sheer Moisture - a cream that's so rich, yet-oil free: the perfect solution for a hot summer day.
Stay tuned for more reviews. I hope to see the bottom of the container by the end of the month!


Makeup: Maybelline's The Falsies

Source: Maybelline

In my little beauty land, this equates to breaking news: I am going to re-purchase Maybelline's The Falsies mascara. This is significant because I have no loyalty when it comes to mascara. As soon as I spy a new product promising whatever-percentage volume increase, thickening, length and all kinds of wonderful things I never knew my lashes needed, the product I was using goes into my 'occassional use' basket, never to be resurrected again. But things have changed: I have actually managed to run out of The Falsies, and have no back up product to tuck into. This is very surprising for me. It also seems that I have binned all the others in what was evidently some empassioned declaration of love to my new found mascara-bestie. Weird.
So, why the newfound mascara-monogamy? It gives me long, volumised, glossy black lashes, and the curved brush manages to keep those pesky clumps at bay, no matter how many coats I apply: I like a good three coats for extra length. In short, I love this mascara!

Most likely I'll still buy whatever new mascaras are in Boots today (surely a mascara that cooks for you is an innovation that's only a matter of weeks away...) but I will also definitely be picking up another tube of The Falsies. It feels nice to finally have settled down and found my perfect mascara. I guess this is the beauty equivalent of being a 'smug married'!
I've already done my makeup for today (see below) but I will post some shots of my eyes with and without the mascara so you can see for yourselves. And I promise that, unlike the adverts, they will be filmed without lash inserts, and not enhanced in post-production...


Beauty: Bitten lips and winter berries

Source: vogue.co.uk

The weather forecast predicts a high of 30C in London tomorrow, and yet I am thinking about one thing: the cool months of autumn and winter! You see, every year on the 1st July, a strange thing happens to me. I go shopping to find that the sales have started, and as I look beyond the messy rails and frantic shoppers, I am drawn to the cool colours and perfect order of the cruise collections. The fashion mags are publishing their A/W catwalk reports and my mind wanders to crisp and bright autumn days that are cold enough for luxe layers but still light enough for sunglasses - to me, nothing looks more chic.

Yes, this pale skinned gal is most at home in the cooler months, although I could probably get down with this hot summer if we had a siesta! Anyway, I digress.

What I am most captivated by for the coming season is the berry lips I've seen all over the catwalks. I've only recently fallen in love with lipsticks, and so this will be the first season that I can head out there and find my perfect berry shade, and I have to say, it's a challenge I'm really looking forward to. The above shot is from the Proenza Schouler show, and I love the pared down face and strong brows, finished with a pout that looks like its owner has spent a couple of hours snacking on a hedgerow!

As for the perfect shade, I have been in complete lust with the Tom Ford lipstick range since it launched a few months ago, but at £35, I'm not sure I can justify it. I may be too weak to resist the pull of
Moroccan Rouge which just looks too perfect for words. Instead, it's more likely that this weekend will see me headed to MAC for an afternoon of contented swatching!

Will you be rocking the berry lips trend when the nights draw in, or are you still enjoying the sun too much to care?!


Haircare: Pureology Essential Repair

So, I managed to control myself long enough to finish 30 mins on the cross-trainer and a quick bit of pilates before running home, diving in the shower and testing my new Pureology Essential Repair range. In a complete shock situation, I am in love with this range. I loved Hydrate, but this suits my hair so much better. I tested the range's shampoo, conditioner and split end treatment. Here's the lowdown:

1. They smell gorgeous - a gentle coconut that lasts beyond the blow dry
2. It's rich and creamy, and you need a tiny amount of everything (my bottles of Hydrate lasted four months)
3. Have you ever washed your hair and had the blow dry turn out what looks like freshly cut hair? No? Me neither: until today. The plumping effect of the products has levelled the ends, and made it look like I have a lot more hair (and I had a lot to start with). This is a huge, unexpected bonus, and one that's very, very welcome
4. If it's anything like Hydrate, it only gets better with use

So, thank you, good people at Pureology: I love you even more than before!

Haircare: Pureology countdown and commandments update

I am really going crazy on the blogging today (I'm currently waiting for someone to get back to me on a report I've written so downtime is focused on blogging - woo!)

Tonight will see me breaking open the Pureology Essential Repair range, and I am so excited. My boyfriend and I are heading to the gym after work so I am holding off until we get back, although the wait is killing me! I will update you the minute my hair is dry :)

And to show that I'm not just all talk on the hair commandments, I have booked in for a split end-ectomy with the lovely Mai at Trevor Sorbie in Manchester next week. She has an amazing talent for getting rid of all the damage whilst keeping as much length as is possible, so I'm really excited to say what is, I hope, a permanent goodbye to my frazzled ends. I get my hair cut every six weeks without fail, but the damage always seem to reappear. I'll post some photos of my hair soon so we can chart progress!

Haircare: Hair Commandments

Source: style.com

Hi everyone! This is pretty chatty, so make yourselves comfy!

Since the A/W 2010 show reports came out, I have been fixated on one thing - and no, it's not how to get my hands on the entire Celine collection (but tips are welcome, if you have any!) What has had my attention is the hair at the Chloe show, or as I am now christening it: The Chlo-Dry.

This style has everything I want for my hair: movement, waves and gloss, gloss, gloss. You could power all the homes in Britain on the shine from the models luscious locks. Anyway, split ends and frazzled tresses do not equal the Chlo-Dry: they equal the Hell No-Dry!

So, as I am on a quest for hair health, I thought I'd let you in on my current hair commandments, which, amazingly for me, I am actually sticking to! Let's hope I'll have Chloe Hair by the autumn...

1. Thou must rock thy natural colour, or something close to it: After all, Mousy is the new Platinum - After years of wondering, and hours studying teenage pictures of myself (ew) I have taken an educated guess at what my natural colour might be, and thanks to Clairol Perfect 10 in Medium Ash Blonde, I think I am there. Permanent dyes and bleach contain peroxide and many contain ammonia, all harmful chemicals. It’s stuff you wouldn’t put on your skin or in your body, so why put it on your already parched hair? If you have to have a drastic dye job to go back to nature (I'm talking from dark to light here: the other way is much easier to do at home), put it in the hands of the professionals. Otherwise, go for a good home permanent colour and maintain with vegetable dyes where possible (semi—permanents contain the same harsh chemicals as permanent dyes and the colour is generally a bit more of a gamble). I’d say opt for one last hurrah with a permanent and then spend the next 3 months pondering where your roots are. I am loving Perfect 10, so that's a good place to start.

2. Thou shallt layeth down thy straightening irons and curling tongues – Yes, I’m being strict on this one. If you can tolerate running a hot flat iron along one of your fingers without screaming the house down, blistering and possibly losing half your skin, then you probably have suitable hair for straightening, because you must be made of metal. Hair is dead, so once it’s damaged, there’s not really much you can do for it. Having weaned myself off irons, I can say that, although you’ll have a few weeks where you want to throw yourself under the nearest bus, your hair will be grateful and will reward you with increased shine very soon. Trust me on this one. In the meantime, treat it well: a good shampoo and conditioner, heat defence products, frizz control, whatever you need to get through this difficult time.

3. Thou must blow dry only as often as thy hair needs washing – i.e don’t wash your hair every day if you don’t have to, and if you do, have a few days when you dry it naturally. My thick hair can happily manage 3 days sans wash, and although a shower cap isn’t my favourite look, decreasing my weekly blow dries from 6-7 to 2 has paid dividends.

4. Thou shalt deep condition weekly – I am raving about Rituals Shakakai Secret, but any conditioner that works for you will do. Don’t underestimate the power of olive oil, either. Use enough to coat your hair (don’t soak your hair in oil or you will end up needing a bottle of shampoo to get it all out), comb it through and then leave it as long as possible. If you’re not going out, pile your hair up, wrap it in cling film, top with a warm towel turban and watch a boxset. If you can afford to use a lot of product frequently, slap on your deep conditioner for an hour before every wash (avoid this will the oil as it’s too messy).

5. Thou shalt accept and deal with thy damage – There’s a saying in business: you’ve got to speculate to accumulate. Roughly translated, this means that you’ve sometimes got to take a risk or do something out of character to get ahead. You’ve guessed it: I’m talking about your split ends. ‘But Rachel!’ you cry! ‘If length is what I want, why should I cut it off?’ Because, split ends are a party crasher. They’ll stay all night, eat your food, drink your cocktails and probably try to get off with your boyfriend. They are the enemy and they need to GO! So march that ass to the salon and tell them you’re trying to grow your hair, but that you’d like them to ‘cut out the damage’. They’ll take pity and although this may result in a drastic do, it’s a good platform from which to start your new routine. You know I’m right!

6. Thou shalt eat right, and no, Krispy Kreme is not a food group – 2 litres of water a day, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, blah blah. I know you hear it all the time but feeding your hair from the inside out can’t hurt.

7. Thou shalt consider an investment product or procedure where possible – This ranges from buying a product like John Freida’s Night Repair (£15.99 and brilliant), a bottle of olive oil (a few pounds), Kerastase Resistance Forceintense treatment (£21 for 3 at-home treatments), or if you have the right hair type (read: PROBLEM HAIR!), a permanent blow dry (£150+, depending on length). You absolutely don’t need to spend a fortune to get great hair, but the permanent blow dry has worked miracles for me, and is a big part of the reason I have so easily weaned myself off heat and yet my hair is still straight. A word of caution, though: absolutely DO NOT have any chemical straightening procedures: it will ruin all your hard work and cause more damage than you started with. I know from hideous experience!!

8. Don’t give up!

Have you got any hot hair care tips for those of us striving for length and shine? Any advice on supplements would be very welcome, too!

Skincare: State of Bliss

My boyfriend remarked last night that the display of my haul in our bedroom looked like some 'beauty version of the harvest festival display we used to have at school', which tickled me slightly! Anyway, I couldn't fight it any longer and cracked into the Bliss products this morning. I am in love.

First the Steep Clean mask (by the way, it’s currently half price at Harrods - £17.50 – and yes, I am going to stock up later!) The product has a single pump with two spouts, dispensing one blue gel and one yellow. Pump the gel and combine the two to turn the mixture green, just like your first art lesson at school. It’s then applied to your face and neck, and you relax for 15 minutes while it works its magic. And boy, is this stuff good. I rinsed the product off and was left with firm, glowing skin, and I’d say 70% of the blackheads in my t-zone had vanished. The few that were left behind were significantly smaller, looking like tiny pinpricks. This is enough to have me devoted to the good folks at Bliss for the rest of my life.

Then I used the Triple Oxygen energising mask. The product foams on your skin and is quickly absorbed where it’s needed most. Your skin is given a shot of oxygen and vitamin C – essential for radiance. 5 minutes later, and I looked like I’d spent 2hrs being primped and primed by a facialist - success! And all for the price of a single facial!

Alongside Dermalogica’s Overnight Clearing Gel (review to come), these are the fastest-acting skincare products I’ve ever used. Instant results are infinitely desirable yet not always delivered, so it’s a revelation when I find a great product that works right away. If you’re looking for an instant skin fix, head to Bliss for a chat with one of their specialists. Steep Clean is a once a week product, and the Triple Oxygen mask can be used up to three times a week, and you get a lot of product for your money - we like good value here at The Beauty Hall!

Has anyone else used any Bliss products? If so, what did you think of them? Naturally, your recommendations are all it will take to get me back there and buying more!


Makeup: Jemma Kidd Firming I-Silk Long-Last Colour

Hmm, I really like this product, but something is holding me back. For the past year, I've been loving Rimmel Colour Mousse Eye Shadow in Glitz, a lovely burnished gold, and it came time for a repurchase. Shopping on the King's Road last week, I was disappointed to find that I couldn't lay my hands on it. Undetered, I wandered to Space NK and fell in love with this gorgeous looking shadow in Vintage and my memories of Rimmel faded into the background. But then I put it on. It's gorgeous, and has a nice sheen, but I don't quite like it as much as the Rimmel shadow - the colour doesn't last as long, and it looks a little scaley after a few hours. And at four times the price, I am favouring Rimmel.

Beauty: A major haul

The past two days have seen a haul of such epic proportions, it's made my head spin. Meet my new happy hair and skin care products, and a few nail polishes for added gloss!

Back row from left: Bliss Triple Oxygen face mask, Pureology split end treatment, Pureology Essential Repair shampoo and conditioner, Pureology Hydrate Shinemax, Bliss Steep Clean face mask.

Front row from left: Diptyque Olene perfume, Seche Vite topcoat, Essie Tartufo, Essie I Need a Vacation, OPI Florentine Fuschia, Diptyque Vetyverio.

Front of picture: Pureology Volume Boost range.

So far, I haven't tried any of the products but expect reviews over the next few days - I'm so excited! With thanks to the lovely Laura of lollipop26 for the tip off on beautyzone2007's ebay shop for fantastic polishes at amazing prices!

Haircare: Rituals

Crazy angle but check that shine!

As someone with natural dry hair that has been chemically treated and coloured within an inch of its life since the tender age of 15 (scarily some 12 years ago *shudder*), I know my way around haircare products. I have tried every high end salon brand, every high street chemist product and even whipped up a few homemade treats in between, all in pursuit of my nirvana: glossy, healthy hair. Two weeks ago, I bought a product that has turned out to be the best conditioner I have ever used, and it cost £8.90. Considering I regularly drop £30 on good conditioner, this makes me very, very happy indeed.

After Tresemme and Elvive went postal on my hair (Elvive is explained above, and I can't even bear to write about Tresemme yet!), I spent a full weekend with olive oil on my head. Yes, I came home on the Friday, slapped it on, and didn’t wash it off until Sunday night: and no, my boyfriend doesn’t think I look sexy with a greased-up head that was occasionally wrapped in cling film! It gave my hair the usual boost, but I knew there was a long road to recovery ahead. Two days later, I found myself with some time to kill at St Pancras station where I went into Rituals, one of my favourite bath and body product stores. Everything’s natural, but seems much more luxe than your average ‘green tubes and minimal packaging’ brand. 'What the hell?' I thought, and decided to take a punt on their hair care range.

The assistant recommended Shikakai Secret nourishing conditioner, a product so divinely scented that you’re immediately transported to tropical shores (just keep your eyes closed, otherwise you’re just in your bathroom with a nice smell pervading!) I got it home and slapped it on for a couple of hours, then lo and behold: hello, Glossy! Two weeks later, I am still applying this a few hours before I bathe, enjoying the glorious smell and then twisting my silky hair through my fingers for the following days until it’s rewashed. I’ve also used it for just 2 mins in the shower (without the pre-application) and it’s still as good.

As I said, I have used every single high end brand (with the exception of Fekkai so far), and this is by far the most incredible, quick turnaround product I’ve ever used! Buy, buy, buy!!

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