Blah: A Random Collection of Thoughts

Hi everyone, and a warm welcome to my new followers!

For those of you in the UK, I hope you've all had a lovely bank holiday weekend. Mine has been so completely hectic that I'm not sure which way is up this morning! I have so much work to get on with that the blog may be a little neglected for the next few days, but I promise that I will be back on top of things at the weekend.

So, here's a very quick round-up of things that have been buzzing around my head over the weekend!

Contouring: Since having my make up done at Giorgio Armani a couple of years ago, I have been trying to recreate the same incredible angles that the MUA managed to sculpt, but have been struggling with products that just aren't fit for the job. Too much sparkle, too dark, too light: you name it, and my contours have suffered for it. Yesterday, I decided to pop into MAC in Soho to remedy the problem, and was astonished when Tenderling was suggested as my perfect shade. I'd always opted for browner tones, but considering I am pink toned and pale, this makes perfect sense. Expect a long overdue FOTD soon!

Steaming: I haven't steamed at all this weekend and let's just say I will never be missing a day again! Considering my lapse, I will be reporting on my steaming project at the weekend, but I am missing the lovely clear skin that had started to emerge!

NARS: I have been invited to the NARS Pure Matte Lipstick launch on Thursday to be colour matched to my perfect lippie shade, which I am very excited about. I own about 30 lipsticks which are all variations on the same theme, so I'm secretly hoping that I've got it all wrong and that I'll be introduced to a whole new range of colours! I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

Liz Earle haircare launch: Regular readers will know that I am in love with this range, which launches in the Liz Earle stores and online on 2nd September, and in John Lewis stores nationwide on 6th. If you can't wait to get your hands on the gorgeous shampoo and conditioner, then you can pre-order online by clicking here. Please let me know if any of you try it as I would love to hear your feedback!

Holidays: I am going to Rome in just over two weeks, and then to southern Spain at the beginning of October and I really can't wait. Work has been so manic that I am just desperate for some downtime, involving delicious food, and I hope, lots of sun! Expect some holiday diet and beauty-related posts in the coming weeks (despite the fact that it's practically the end of the holiday season!)

Thanks for being patient with me, and normal service will resume very soon, I promise!


Haircare: The Road to Hair Happiness

You may remember that I posted my hair commandments last month, and I am pleased to say that sticking to them has started to pay off. I’m blow drying my hair less (I’m permitted a maximum of three a week), and letting it dry naturally where I can. Where this used to end with my hair knotting itself into a helmet of frizzy curls, something miraculous has happened: it now dries soft and reasonably sleek, with a few waves that look pretty and natural, rather than crisp and tortured. It’s also been six weeks since I coloured my hair, and as I’m almost back to my natural shade, roots aren’t too great a problem. It’s probably the longest I’ve gone without colouring my hair in the past ten years. I’m impressed!

In case any of you have been inspired to take up the healthy hair challenge, I thought I’d update you on my Hot Hair product arsenal, and the things that I rely on to keep my tresses tamed.

From left to right: Aussie Take the Heat heat defence spray, HairSublim supplement, Pureology Essential Repair serum, Liz Earle Botanical Shine conditioner for dry and damaged hair, Silica supplement, Liz Earle Botanical Shine shampoo for all hair types

The Liz Earle shampoo and conditioner continue to be a big hit with me. The conditioner is so rich and certainly the best I've ever used (yep, that takes into account pretty much all the high end haircare brands). It comes out on 2nd September, and I for one can see this becoming a permanent feature in my haircare routine.

I’ve talked about both the Aussie and Pureology products before, but the Pureology in particular deserves to be revisited. I wasn’t convinced at its split end ‘repair and prevention’ claims but it’s five weeks since I had my hair cut, but the frazzled ends are mysteriously absent. Of course, the situation is probably helped by the limited heat styling, but if things continue this way, I will definitely repurchase this product. Aussie’s Take the Heat spray is the cheapest product here, but it’s also the one I wouldn’t be without. Nothing protects my hair like this, and I love it so much, I even spray my hair when I’m not heat styling it!

I’m sure that everyone who reads Lollipop26writes will have rushed to their nearest Boots when they read Laura’s posts on HairSublim and Silica. The products provide the essential nutrients required for healthy hair, and I have to say, I really feel as though my hair growth has quickened. It’s only been a month, but I’ll be stocking up on these supplements and hoping for swishy long hair by Christmas!

Image courtesy of HQHair.com

My final hair essential is Kerastase Resistance Forcintense. The pack contains three two-step treatments and is for hair that’s in need of some serious TLC (I’m talking over-processed, dry, damaged and colour treated here). I’ve just run out of my last batch, but it’s something I use at least once a month and for a few weeks after colouring. It’s £21 for three treatments, but if you have very damaged hair, it’s definitely worth the investment, in my opinion.

I’d be really keen to know about your haircare routine, and what products you can’t live without!


Skincare: Bloggers' Breakout - urgh!

Over the past few weeks, I've been getting more than my fair share of breakouts. Work is a little more manic than usual, which could account for some stress-related spots, but I seem to consistently have a new spot on the go; something that I'm not used to and definitely not happy about.

It occurred to me that maybe this is related to how many product I've been using since I started blogging. I'm testing skincare products and routines so often that maybe my skin is rebelling and longing for the good old days when I got home and watched Corrie rather than spending the evening slapping multiple lotions and potions onto my skin. Henceforth, this skin situation shall be known as a 'Bloggers' Breakout' and it must be stopped. And never let it be said that we bloggers don't suffer for our art!

So, onto business. Unfortunately, this is not a photograph of me, but of the gorgeous supermodel, Karolina Kurkova. Her photo is here for one reason alone: her skin. Isn't it flawless?

Not only is Ms Kurkova very beautiful, she is also quite generous with her skin care tips. She gave an interview in one of the UK glossies (Vogue, if memory serves) a few years ago, where she noted that she tries to steam her face for 5-10 minutes everyday. At the time, I decided to incorporate daily steaming into my routine and promptly dropped it two days later, probably believing it was too much of an effort. Is skin like that ever too much of an effort?!

Inspired by Fee of Makeup Savvy, I am now commencing my conversion to Karolina's routine and will be steaming my face for five minutes every day for the next week, followed by cleansing with my Liz Earle C&P and toning with Boots Glycerin & Rosewater. Karolina also advises that when you're tired, stressed or it's that time of the month, a splash of lemon juice on the skin will brighten it no end. Who am I to argue with a supermodel?

So, what is it about steam? The not particularly sciencey science bit is that steam opens the pores, allowing your cleanser to get right into your pores to attack all the nastiness that lurk down there. It also makes extraction much easier, but I personally think that's best left to the professionals. If you suffer from sinus congestion like I do, a teaspoon of good old Vicks Vaporub stirred into the water will provide some temporary clearance on a particularly stuffed-up day, which is a nice bonus. To steam your skin, fill a bowl a third full with boiling water (ideally, use a bowl with a diameter of about 10 inches - a mixing bowl is perfect), allow to cool for a minute and then hold your face above the steam, covering your head with a towel that drapes over the bowl to create your own mini sauna. Stay in there for a minimum of five minutes and then cleanse, splashing your skin with cool water when you've finished. Tone and mositurise as normal.

Stay tuned for results next week! I'm sure I'll look more like Karolina every day...

Image courtesy of zimbio.com


Hair Miracles on LBQblog - The Beauty Hall featured!

Thank you to the lovely London Beauty Queen for including my hair miracle product - olive oil - in her top five products! If you're not already a follower, make sure you check out her fab site!
Image courtesy of www,londonbeautyqueen.blogspot.com

Beauty: The Grease Addiction (no, not the movie)

Since my late teens, I have been known to never be without two things: chewing gum and Vaseline. You can glean from these permanent handbag essentials that I like fresh breath and greasy lips. Yes, I am one of the many who has succombed to what's known to the Vaseline-fiend as 'grease addiction'; namely the need to constantly have a degree of slip on one's lips.

Harmless, you might think, but ask any Vaseline user how their day has panned out when they have forgotten their precious emolient, and they will recount tales of emergency lunch time trips to the nearest Boots, and an afternoon that was lost to the heady pleasures of multiple applications. If you're interested, I counted three tins of Lip Therapy and two of the full size, pick-them-up-on-the-baby-care-aisle pots last week, all dotted at various locations around the house - quite literally my Petroleum Pit Stops - with one a permanent fixture on my night stand.
It was then that I realised: I've got it bad. I started to wonder if this is something I should be concerned about, and began researching to decide whether Vaseline was less friend and more foe.

Vaseline is a by-product of crude oil processing, and considering the vast quantities of oil consumed annually, Vaseline production alone does not put any significant strain on the environment. That's a tick in it's favour. It is, however, a petrochemical, and as I don't ever get the urge to go down to the local petrol station and moisturise with a gallon of unleaded, I started to wonder why I consider it acceptable to use this products on my lips. That said, there is, no evidence to suggest that long-term use of petroleum jelly is bad for your health. Another tick.

After doing a little more research, it started to make sense as to why the cycle of Vaseline use is so hard to break. Vaseline is an occlusive, meaning that it sits on the skin rather than being absorbed into it. Where other lips balms generally sink in a few minutes after application and leave the lips moisturised but without slip, Vaseline stays on the surface until it's wiped or transferred away, leaving that comforting 'greasy' feeling that we addicts find ourselves longing for a few hours post-application. So, as it's not actually moisturising my skin, which was my motivation for starting to use it all those years ago, I seem to be pretty far from my original goal.

I've tried various products over the years, but none seem sufficiently slippery to enable me to wave goodbye to my dependency. Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream lip balm was down to a stub in two weeks and Carmex, Blistex and every other chemist chap stick has been trialled and tossed. At the weekend, in desperation to kick my habit, I picked up Kiehl's Lip Balm #1. It was soft, silky, and most importantly, it left that precious film on my lips, and I delighted in the prospect of a life without the clinking of Vaseline tins in my handbag. I sat back, contented, and read the ingredients. And what was staring up at me as number one ingredient? You guessed it....


It's my own fault for not reading the ingredients when I bought it, but it seems I'm still a long way from kicking my habit: it's just I've paid four times more for my fix. I'll be going back to Vaseline when this tube runs out, and speaking of which, it's about time for another application...


At a glance: the last seven days on The Beauty Hall

If you've missed any of last week's posts, catch up here!

Happy hair with Liz Earle - review

To detox or not to detox?

My skincare routine

Men are Useless

My favourite style blogs

MAC giveaway winner announced!

Giveaway: MAC winner

And that winner is Luce! Thank you so much to everyone for all your lovely recommendations, as I've had so much fun looking through all the shades. Of the suggestions made, I decided to go for Gleam and Honesty eyeshadows and Faux lipstick, all of which were recommended by Luce, so I'm very pleased! I also got Bare Study Paint Pot and Strobe Cream which I am in love with, and consequently, I'm looking very glowy!

I didn't end up getting my make up done again over the weekend, and just chose colours online which my boyfriend then picked up for me - what a good boy he is. I am thinking of booking in to get my make up done for my cousin's wedding in September, so if I do, I will be sure to post pictures of that look. As for today, I am SO busy with work, hence no FOTD with these products, but I promise I will do one soon.

Luce, if you send me an email (address is in the 'email me' link - I know that's stating the obvious but just want to be sure!) we can arrange your prize! Well done on your top recommendations!

Image courtesy of dailydecorator.com


Best of the Blogs #2

I'm quite enjoying sharing a weekly round-up of my favourite blog posts. There is so much out there that I find it quite a fun challenge to try and edit it all down to my top three picks! I hope it's introducing you to a few new sites, but I'd be keen to hear your feedback: do you like the round-up, or have you seen most of it already? Oh, and any other suggestions you have for the type of posts you'd like to see are very welcome!

So, here goes:

Chic Storage: I am living for Susie Lau's new boutique-esque wardrobes over on Style Bubble. I have been lusting after this Ikea series for ever, but have always been discouraged by the prospect of pesky moths munching on my favourite threads. It looks so fabulous that I may just have to throw caution to the wind and convert our spare bedroom into my very own walk-in.

The Seasonal Lust List: This time of year always sees me getting very excited at the prospect of shopping for an Autumn/Winter wardrobe, as this is my absolute favourite time of year when it comes to style. However, it's also a time to get excited about make up: like you didn't know already! As the colour palette for clothes becomes a little darker and more sophisticated, I like to play with my make up and go for shades with a little more drama. Other than knowing that I want a berry lipstick, I haven't really thought much about my winter make up lusts, but have been inspired to do so by Marina at Makeup4all. Any excuse, really!

The 'Back to Basics' Routine: Fee at Makeup Savvy is giving up all of her usual skincare products and exploring whether those bathroom basics, soap and water, will give her great skin. I'm very intrigued and a little alarmed at the prospect that her results may render our skincare routines obsolete! Stay tuned to find out!

Hope you're enjoying your Sunday, whatever you're doing!


Fabulous Furniture

Image courtesy of livingetc.com

The Boy and I moved into our now-not-so-new place in April and I'm contemplating a little redesign project before winter. I've been looking for inspiration for a sitting room theme and came across this image: isn't this the coolest table ever?! Not sure I'd trust it with my cocktail hour martini, but it sure looks good!

Saturday Style

Image courtesy of thesartorialist.com

I hope you're all enjoying your Saturday. There are heavy clouds over London today and I'm wondering if my trip to Liberty should be postponed until the skies look kinder. That Ellis Faas make up is calling, though...

Anyway, it occurred to me this morning that I never give my fashion fancyings enough of an airing on here: something which I will be redressing this week. In the meantime, I thought I would share with you a few of my favourite style blogs to hopefully give you some shopping fantasies for the coming season. Like we need another excuse to shop!

The Sartorialist - Scott Schuman's photo blog of chic, effortlessly stylish folk from around the world. I look at his shots and imagine he inhabits a world where only the achingly hip live: I want to visit.

Fashion Toast - Rumi Neely combines simple basics, vintage finds and towering shoes to great effect. One of my most visited sites.

Park & Cube - the lovely Shini serves up her delightful style with the addition of some brilliant, well -explained DIY projects to help you make those rainy afternoons a little more stylish.



Male Grooming: Dear Boyfriend, Men ARE Useless, Love The Beauty Hall

Image courtesy of menareuseless.com

My boyfriend doesn't read my blog because, in his words, he's 'not interested in girly beauty products'. That's fine, because his political blog makes me want to pluck out my eyelashes. Well, not quite, but trust me, it's not the same as reading about the latest lipstick shades!

Anyway, last night I noticed that Men Are Useless, the genius male toiletries delivery company, are following me on Twitter and this prompted me to explain to The Boy what they do after reading about them on London Beauty Queen's blog. Now, The Boy is a professional soap boxer: he loves politics, works in policy and loves nothing more than a good rant (I'm painting a bad picture, but he is divine, I promise). "Men are useless?" he begins. "That's a ridiculous idea! When have I ever run out of anything?!" Although he will never read this, here follows a list of what my beloved has run out of, and the substitutes he has found that belong to me, normally at five times the cost of his own products:

  • Boyfriend ran out of Neutrogena face scrub and replaced it with my Clinique Sparkle Skin BODY scrub (yes, you read that right: body scrub. Plus he used half a tub in five days. Half a tub on a human face, I ask you...)

  • Boyfriend ran out of Head and Shoulders and continued to use my Pureology Hydrate shampoo, like you can just pop to Boots and replace it, maybe even getting it on 2 for 1 if you're lucky

  • Boyfriend occasionally buys a face mask sachet from The Sanctuary. Since I bought Bliss Steep Clean, he somehow finds time for a facial every week

  • Boyfriend has never before been interested in eye cream, but he sure does like to use my Espa 24hr Eye Complex
Do we see a theme here? Supermarket basics vs high end luxury: the nerve of him!!! Now, I am more than happy to share the love, but as we have a joint account for our bills and shopping, I'm seriously considering using it to buy my products, seeing as he gets so much use out of them. He may not always run out of razor blades and shower gel, but I know one boy who would certainly benefit from an upscale delivery of products from Men are Useless, possibly entitled 'Men really are interested in girly beauty products: just shut the bathroom door and don't tell anyone!' Oh, and as long as I can borrow them, too!

Skincare: Current Routine

I love great make up, but my real passion is skincare. I love that a great foundation can make my skin look flawless and glowing, but what I really want is the flawless and glowing skin without the product! Make up is there to enhance what we have, but when I've missed out on a few essential hours of sleep, I start to think of make up as the only thing that I have! Despite being a self-confessed make up junkie, I secretly dream of the day I can get away with a slick of lipgloss and mascara without feeling like I'll scare any passing children!

A quest for perfect skin requires a considerable beauty arsenal and here is mine: twice a day, every day! The numbers is brackets below indicate the products I use in the morning and the order in which the products are used:

From left to right:

Dermalogica Overnight Clearing Gel
The Sanctuary Rich Rejuvenating Day Cream SPF 15 (6)
Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Cleanser (1)
Liz Earle Smoothing Line Serum (4 - used around the eyes)
Liz Earle Daily Eye Repair (5)
Boots Traditional Skin Care Glycerin and Rosewater Toner (2)
The Sanctuary Pro-Collagen Night Concentrate
Boots No 7 Protect & Perfect Intense serum (3)

Although I'm not quite there on the perfect skin front, I think this range of products is pretty close to a perfect routine for me. I'd been using the above routine without the toner for four weeks, and since reading Caroline's toner advice on Beauty Mouth last week, I have incorporated that with great results over the past seven days. If you're cleansing and not toning, I can't tell you how quickly you need to change that! Toner seems to be one of the most misunderstood products on the beauty market, and although I've always had a bottle of it lurking in the depths of my bathroom cabinet, I think I've always used it with an ineffective cleanser. Since using Cleanse & Polish, my skin has become clearer and brighter, but also more prone to a few scary looking spots. Since reintroducing the toner, these breakouts are disappearing, and I feel like my skin is finally more balanced. As with most things in life, balance is the key: if your cleanser is too harsh, your skin will compensate by producing more oil and subsequently, more spots, something which is prevented when a toner is used as it brings things back to normal.

The Sanctuary day and night creams are products that I've used on and off for years, and always seem to go back to. I like to alternate the products I use so that my skin doesn't get used to anything, but I have never found any creams that I consistently alternate The Sanctuary ones with. Following very impressive results with the Liz Earle range, I will be trying their toner and moisturisers when my current batch run out, but The Sanctuary's crown currently stands untested.
Protect & Perfect and Dermalogica Overnight Clearing Gel are my other hero products. The Clearing Gel works mini-miracles and magically manages to prevent breakouts (although I've stayed away from it for the past few weeks so I can get a real sense of whether C&P is working for my skin). If I'm tired, stressed, or approaching that time of the month, I slather this on and am always amazed at how clear it keeps my skin. Protect & Perfect is something I've already talked about at length, but if you don't own it already, it's my top recommendation. Boots have a £5 off No. 7 voucher at the moment so there really is no excuse!

The two Liz Earle products I'm using are sample sizes from the Eye Try-Me kit I received in July, and I will definitely buy the Daily Eye Repair when this one runs out. The serum is meant for older skin and I'm not sure how much of an effect it's had on my under eye skin, but I guess we'll see the difference if I decide not to invest in that one as well!

So, that's my routine: what about yours? I'd love to know what your daily routine is and whether there are any skincare products you can't live without.


Oh for a simple make up bag...

Image courtesy of seaofshoes.com

How cute is this illustration by Jane Aldridge of Sea of Shoes showing her favourite make up products? It made me wonder how long it would take me to draw a picture of all of my favourites at the moment: I'm guessing it might be the make up equivalent of the ceiling at the Sistine Chapel!

Don't forget to enter our competition here!

Detox: The Path to Purity or Hot Air Hype?

Image courtesy of rawfairies.com

If you've ever wanted a quick-fix diet to help you look svelte before a holiday or an important event, felt tired and stressed and as though the food you eat is conspiring to make you feel even worse, or if you've simply had a few too many late nights and margaritas, I'll wager that you've considered a detox as your top solution.

Ask your friends about their detox experiences and you'll hear of it taking making forms. Two years ago, I managed two days on fruit, veg and water, got dreadful headaches and then fell headlong into a bag of bagels; my friend Maria had some strawberry flavoured powder that was to be consumed before meals, claiming to erradicate toxins and smelling a wee bit vile to me; plus, we both had colonics to mixed reviews (Maria: good. Me: not so good!) Maybe Maria and I are just suckers for the next big health hype, but given that we all want to look and feel our best, it's easy to see how we fall for these great promises.

Typing 'detox' into Google generates an incredible 10,200,000 returns. The process is defined as the body's natural means of eliminating toxins, some of which occur naturally (for example, the ammonia produced by your body when processing proteins), and others which are acquired from an external source (such as pollution and cigarette smoke). It's something which our bodies do every single day, with organs such as the kidneys, liver and skin playing a key role in eliminating nasties and keeping us healthy.

So, if part of our bodies' daily function is to eliminate toxins, how is it that a multi-million pound industry has formed, promising clear skin, weight loss and improved vitality and mental clarity? Is it possible that there are some toxins that our bodies can't eliminate? The medical community thinks not. In 2006, the Medical Health Care Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) investigated several companies who were deemed to provide products that made claims which could not be verified. In order to advertise medical benefits, a product has to undergo rigorous testing. A leading Toxicologist at London's Imperial College said of detox:

"The body’s own detoxification systems are remarkably sophisticated and versatile. They have to be, as the natural environment that we evolved in is hostile. It is remarkable that people are prepared to risk seriously disrupting these systems with unproven ‘detox’ diets, which could well do more harm than good."

However, Raw Fairies, one of London's most renowned food delivery companies, specialising in nutriotionally balanced raw food, explain the detox process as
something which "can be a critical element of your long term strategy for maintaining health, especially when living in a polluted, fast-paced city like London. Many clients cleanse regularly throughout the year as part of their toolkit for looking and feeling their best". No matter how often I hear medical contradictions about the benefits of detox, the meals prepared by the Raw Fairies look so deliciously healthy, that I can't imagine any negative benefits!

I was interested to read that Ruth of
A Model Recommends had recently tried the three day Nosh detox with some great results: she reported that she was more aware of what and how much she ate and felt lighter and trimmer afterwards, but the videos she made during the detox showed just how much it affected her ability to concentrate and recall information while she was on the programme.

Detox is a key component of Ayurveda, but undertaking a detox is recommended when you are able to take time out from your normal schedule and can rest and sleep as much as you feel your body needs. In 2008, Calgary Avansino of Vogue undertook the Raw Fairies
12 day Botanical Cleanse whilst still working and maintaining a social life, which sounded like quite a challenge, but ended with her feeling that she 'never wanted to contaminate (her) body again'. I have to confess to being very intrigued by the Raw Fairies approach, and have been an ardent viewer of their website since they started out, always wondering if now is the right time to try. Maybe now that I'm asking the questions, I should take the plunge!

In terms of colonics, from my experience, I don't think I could recommend them. Our colons are filled with 'friendly' bacteria - it keeps everything in our gut nice and healthy - and post-colonic you are prescribed a pre-biotic to help everything 'bloom' again. Why? Because it washes away a lot of that good bacteria and disrupts your natural chemical balance, leaving an environment primed for the bad bacteria to thrive. I had two weeks of feeling absolutely vile, and looked pale and tired while my body worked hard to get back to normal. Although they can help reduce bloating in some cases and almost always result in a few pounds 'weight' loss, there is no proven medical benefit to colonic irrigation ('weight' is in inverted commas as you aren't losing fat, you're just clearing out the waste. If you want the scales to temporarily read lower than normal, fine, but this isn't an effective or long term solution to weight loss and should not be viewed as such).

At the moment, I'm on the fence about detoxing, but will keep you posted if I decide to take the plunge with Raw Fairies. I'm also really curious to know about your detox experiences. Is it something you've tried with positive results or does the very thought of changing and restricting your diet make you want to reach for the biscuit tin?!

Don't forget to enter our competition here!

Disclaimer: Please bear in mind that I am not a doctor or nutritionist, and any detox process that you undertake should take into account your individual health needs. If you are pregnant, taking any medication or have a health condition, please speak to you GP or family doctor before undertaking any restrictive eating programme.


Haircare: Liz Earle Botanical Shine Review

Although I'd planned to get lots of work done yesterday evening, after spending the 20 minute train ride back from the Liz Earle haircare preview sniffing the products, I ran home and jumped straight into the shower to test the Botanical Shine Shampoo and Conditioner. What can I say? After a comprehensive, informative and engaging explanation of the product evolution and a bit of show and tell with the ingredients (including smelling the delicious essential oils used in the range, which explains my sniffing on the train!), I expected to love these products. And in shock move, I absolutely did. Could it be any other way when the shampoo is described as 'Cleanse & Polish for hair'?

The range consists of one shampoo for all hair types. That's right, one. See, I told you it was the C&P for hair! The only choice you need to make is for the conditioner, and whether you are normal, oily or dry and damaged. After we all selected the dry and damaged conditioner to take home last night, I predict that one will be a best seller!

Everything is SLS and SLES free, so the challenge was to create products that lathered without stripping essential moisture and colour from the hair (most of us associate a good foam as a sign that we're clean, although the ingredients that make a product lather are not what strips the dirt away - weird, non?) The top tip of the evening was to use a 10p sized amount of product, and, if it doesn't foam, more water should be added. In the past, I have always heaped on more product, so my new mantra for this range will be 'less is more' for the shampoo and 'more is more' when it comes to water! Hair should be completely saturated before you apply the shampoo and although you don't get the kind of lather that enables you to shape your hair into a point on top of your head (no, I've not done this for years either, but it was fun when I was small!) it's a nice foam that you can feel is really working. After I rinsed, I had squeaky clean hair - don't you love it when your hair actually squeaks with cleanliness? - and, delighted, I moved onto conditioning.

How to describe the dry and damaged conditioner? Think of your richest, most luxurious face cream, and that's the texture you've got. I was surprised and delighted at how thick it was, especially as it comes in a tube (textures like that always seem to come in pots that promise miracles!) and the scents are heavenly. Liz and Kim worked to create the beautiful fragrances that have base, middle and top notes, so actually feel like a full-on, indulgent fragrance experience (after 12 hours, my hair still smells incredible, and it got 10 points from the boy who described it as 'very sophisticated and understated. It smells expensive'.) The conditioner is rich in West African shea butter, an ingredient that smoothes the cuticle as it hydrates, leaving us frizz-prone girls with silky, manageable locks. I blow dried after I washed, and using only a heat protectant spray and no styling product or straightening balm, I was able to straighten my hair much more easily than normal. As for the other conditioners, the key ingredient in the oily hair conditioner is black cohosh, which provides finely balanced conditioning that addresses an oily scalp while still nourishing the lengths and ends. The normal hair conditioner contains the very pretty sounding meadowfoam oil which conditions without excessive heaviness. We compared the textures of the dry and damaged with the oily hair conditioners and the difference was marked: the latter was much finer and lighter, which is exactly what you'd expect from such a carefully developed ranged. It was interesting to hear that Liz Earle herself has actually managed to go from using the dry and damaged conditioner to using the normal conditioner, suggesting that they have a cumulative conditioning effect on hair, which is something I'm really hoping for!

Now onto what you really want to know: how did it rate? Well, after I washed it out, my hair was squeaky clean and beautifully soft. As covered in earlier posts, I have dry, damaged, coarse, thick hair, and had moments in my teenage years where it looked as though I was wearing a tumbleweed on my head: ah, the glamour. This morning, I have soft, silky hair that is swishy and shining. And the best part? The shampoo and conditioner are £7.50 a bottle. £7.50! I have paid three times this for a shampoo and even more for a conditioner that have delivered similar or poorer results, but were invariably not 100% natural and contained SLS and SLES. Each bottle contains 29 applications, and in a non-consumerist moment, Liz even challenged us to 'see how little product we can use each time: happily!

The range will be released online and in the Cowes (Isle of Wight) and Duke of York (Chelsea) stores on 2nd September and in John Lewis stores on 6th September. There will be a 'know your hair' page on the site that will recommend the best conditioner for your specific needs, completely removing the mystery from your selection. So, where will I be on 2nd September? In the queue outside the Duke of York store, of course!

Finally, thanks to Andrea, Laura, Louise and the entire Liz Earle team for inviting me to this lovely event and introducing me to yet more amazing products!

Are you excited about this launch and planning to invest, or is this the first you've heard of their hair range?

Don't forget to enter our competition here!

Liz Earle haircare launch!

Just on my way back from the Chelsea Liz Earle store with some beautiful haircare products to test and I am so excited to try them. The range has been six years in development and follows the principles of the skincare range: 100% natural and able to address the specific concerns of everyone who uses it. As Liz says, if you have hair, this shampoo is for you!

The range consists of one shampoo and three conditioners, all SLS and SLES free. The shampoo is suitable for all hair types and the conditioner comes in three formulations - normal, oily and dry and damaged. They're launched on 2nd September priced at £7.50 each. I'm trying the shampoo and dry hair conditioner so stay tuned for a review later this evening!


Read: Best of the blogs

Wow, the pre-birthday weekend has left me feeling exhausted! I've spent the morning in the garden with my folks, soaking up this very welcome sunshine - a rarity in Manchester. It's been a brilliant weekend and I'm really sad to be heading back to London so soon (although I know there's plenty of fun in store for me when I get there!) Happily, I've managed to catch up on all my blog reading today, so here's my round-up of things I'll be doing this week:

Using a toner: I have just discovered The Beauty Mouth blog, and am devouring (excuse the pun) the advice dished out by the lovely Caroline. She's written a fantastic post on the importance of using toners, and I am heading straight out to buy one of her recommendations. Since I've been using Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish and Bliss Steep Clean, I have been getting a few breakouts, which is a little unusual for me. I'd previously put this down to my skin purging all the badness, but having read Caroline's advice, I think it may be down to the fact that I am not redressing the balance of my skin after using some fairly heavy duty cleansing products! Check out her advice here.

Eating!: I think you'll all have realised by now that I love food, and these peanut butter crispy bars from the Smitten Kitchen look like such a naughty but amazing treat. I am sure that I'll make them and quickly devour the entire tray, but surely indulgence is a key component of any birthday celebration?!

Adopting 'the claw': No, this is not a foray into wild animal care but a technique I've observed on two great blogs, involving massage with a rather witchy-looking hand! Ruth of A Model Recommends has recorded a brilliant series on general body gorgeousness, and shows off a great technique for reducing the appearance of pesky cellulite. A similar claw is demonstrated as a 'tool' for facial massage at The Beauty Mouth, so I will hopefully be pummeling myself towards a better body and brighter face this week!

Getting creative: Fee at Makeup Savvy is a wonder at creating amazing nail looks, and she's inspired me to think a little more imaginatively about my weekly at-home manicures. I love her version of the YSL French manicures and will keep you posted on what I manage to create. You should expect a lot less precision from me than you see in Fee's work!!
Finally, don't forget that I still need your recommendations for best MAC lip and eye neutrals for my shopping trip tomorrow. All you need to do is sign up to become a follower and then post your comment here for a chance to win a MAC treat! Hurry, though: only 24 hours to go!


MAC splurge - help required!

Happy weekend! I hope the sun is shining where you are today and you're enjoying a lovely, chilled out Saturday. I'm off to see my very pregnant friend Laura this afternoon as she's rather too bumplicious to enjoy my birthday dinner this evening. And because I am a very lucky girl, she has baked a cake for me, so we'll be having lovely homemade treats and tea while we catch up today!

Now, onto business. It's my birthday on Tuesday, and part of my present from my boyfriend is a trip to MAC to get my make up done, and to get lots of lovely new products. One of his friends is a make up artist at the Covent Garden store, and she has promised to spoil me and make me look super glam for our dinner on Tuesday evening. Yey!

I already have a fair bit of make up from MAC, but the massive range of colours always overwhelms me when I go in there, and I find myself coming out with pretty much the same shades that I always wear. Therefore, I'm asking for your help in giving me some recommendations. I've already got Paint Pot in Bare Study on my list, but want some neutral eye shadow and lip shade suggestions, please. Post your favourites in the comments below and if you recommend something that I end up buying, you will win a MAC treat as a thank you! In order to be eligible to win, you need to be a follower of the blog.

Image courtesy of stardustandsequins.wordpress.com


Winter wishes

I wonder how many of you, like me, are always excited about what's around the corner? It's not that I am discontent - far from it - but there are so many things that I love, and just not enough time to fit everything in!

For that reason, I notice that my activities, likes and dislikes tend to be matched with the seasons. In the summer months, I want long, hot days and relaxation, light food and days out with my friends and family. I can't help but feel a little grumpy when the sun I so wish for finds itself hidden by the heavy clouds that are always lurking above our little island. This disappointment at lacklustre summers means that I often find myself getting excited about the first fall of leaves, and those bright, chilly days of autumn.

Even though we're still in August, I had to share with you my list of things that I'm excited about for autumn and winter:

1. Buying a Winter candle from The White Company, and filling our home with the festive scent of cinnamon, clove and orange.

2. Making rich, delicious stews that simmer for hours, topped with dumplings and eaten in large bowls in front of the TV.

3. Wearing the perfect berry-coloured lipstick.

4. Having my friends over for a retro games night, fuelled by mugs of mulled wine and slices of homemade pie.

5. Constructing outfits that involve a chic coat, sunglasses and gorgeous black leather boots.

The cooler months always conjure images of chic comfort, hence my current excitement, so please be sure to remind me of this when I am complaining about trudging to work in 5 inches of snow come December!!

Makeup: Birthday Presents

My lovely friend Becca always gets me such beautiful gifts, and this year's birthday present is no exception. It's not my birthday until Tuesday, but we always exchange gifts when we're celebrating together, and this year, my party was a full seven days before the big day. I unwrapped the usual array of silly gifts that had us giggling all night (my favourite was a book called 'Brocabulary' - a ridiculous collection of Hills-esque boy-speak) and then unveiled this little beauty: presenting Clinique's Colour Surge Eye Shadow Quad in Spicy!

Now, I know the only neutrals that are getting much coverage at the moment are those in the Naked palette, but this pretty collection of pinks are perfect for my pale skin. I wore a really simple eye look today using the lighter shades and loved the 'understated but polished' look it gave. I stripped my make up off as soon as I got in but I'll be sure to photograph this on tomorrow!

The consistency is lovely and fine, and the colour pay-off is fantastic. The colours look really expensive and so, so pretty. Clinique isn't always my first port of call for eye make up so it's lovely to receive this as a gift and be opened up to a whole new range: thanks Bec!

The Apple Never Falls Far From the Tree

Do you ever wonder where your make up and beauty product obsession comes from? In my case, it's not hard to see: behold, a small selection of Mama Beauty Hall's products!

Notice all the Estee Lauder? Well, that collection has expanded drastically today after we returned from our shopping trip with their fabulous Re-Nutriv gift! The products are so gorgeous and luxe - I will definitely be trying a sneaky application later this evening!

It's so nice to share our passion for beautiful products, and I am delighted that, after trying it this morning, she loved Liz Earle's Cleanse & Polish as much as me. It went straight onto our shopping list, and she bought one for herself and one for my Aunt: there is no greater feeling for a beauty blogger than when someone has great results from a product that you recommend!

As for me, I got a couple of lovely things for my birthday on Monday which I'll be updating you on later!


August favourites

A bit of a lazy post, I'm afraid, but after two days of fine dining, cocktail swigging and general birthday-related decadence, I am feeling rather delicate. I'm back at my parents' house in Manchester for a long and lazy weekend that predictably includes more celebratory indulgence, so on my mind at the moment are the simple pleasures that are my favourite products. This month's top three are:

1. Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish: Multiple posts on this product should give you an indication that I am in love with this. The more I think about it, the more I believe that this is the most revolutionary introduction to my skincare routine: my skin looks fantastic and the cream itself is pleasant and a joy to use. It's my Mum's birthday in a month, and I have already decided that a large component will be a lovely selection from the Liz Earle range.

2. Armani Lasting Silk Foundation: I am a huge fan of Armani cosmetics, and this product is no exception. A lightweight foundation that gives gorgeous coverage and makes your skin look as though it has been lit from within. It's an investment at £25, but as you only need a tiny amount, I can see this lasting for a long time.

3. MAC Paintpot in Painterly: I've had a few months of eyeshadow experimentation (for experimentation, read 'playing with neutrals' - wow, what extravagance!) and for some reason, this lovely cream shadow has been languishing in the bottom of my make up bag. It's such a simple, light shade, but one that makes my blue eyes and pale skin look immediately bright and healthy. I slicked a quick covering on this morning and was reminded just how much I loved this product when I first bought it. I love rediscovering an old favourite!

I'm off birthday shopping tomorrow morning, so will be updating you on my purchases - I'm so excited!


Not very helpful, but quite cool!

As I'm out for an early birthday celebration this evening, I photographed my make up and outfit to get a sense of whether I'm happy with the overall look. But the pictures have turned out with a crazy effect that I love so much, I had to post them! It looks like some strange, sparkly underwater world, and I'm hoping that I manage to recreate this effect when snapping away this evening.
You can see I even kept my USB lead plugged into my camera so was completely expecting them to be the kind of shots you snap and then delete. What a surprise!


Must-see: NAST

I am a really big fan of style blogs, particularly street style portraiture. I adore high fashion but there is something in me that isn't satisfied by the bi-annual stomping of the runways. I love to see designers' creativity and extravagance, but so often, the pieces are not easily translated into everyday outfits (Phoebe Philo, the high priestess of chic, wearable pieces is definitely not who I'm thinking of here!) Similarly, as soon as a trend really takes hold, it's the last thing I want to invest in, and I am the first to consign a piece to the back of the wardrobe when I start to see everyone wearing the same outfit!
Recent casualties include my once-beloved Breton top. Despite it being easy and chic, it's also now sported by half the population of London on a daily basis, and I don't want to be one of the many walking humbugs of London Town. The Breton is unusual in that it transcends age and gender: I've seen men, women and children sporting them, and wouldn't be surprised if there are little pooch-sized Bardot uniforms for fashion forward canines. I just hope they come complete with mini blonde wigs!
To escape this repetitive parade, one has to look further, and that's where the street style blogs come in: one of my favourite sites is NAST by Sophie Arancio. Sophie takes the most incredible photos, and has a great eye for all things stylish. Unlike other similar blogs, she manages to capture a broad range of styles, giving the blog a really chic aesthetic, but not easily definable as one particular style (unless 'great' style can be a category on its own!) The people she photographs have incredible style, and seem to have that natural ability to string together a range of disparate pieces to create something magical. Sophie's composition is gorgeous, and I can happily get lost in her site for hours!

If you're looking for some style inspiration, or just want to look at some fantastic photography, make NAST your first port of call. Thanks, Sophie!
All images courtesy of NAST

All Work and No Play...

...makes Rachel a hungry girl. I am off to my favourite bakery for some delicious afternoon treats. I think I deserve it!

Perfect Skin in a Bottle

After spending 8 hours working on an important report yesterday and waking up early to hopefully get 12 hours working time today (vile, non?), I looked a little less than fresh this morning. I mostly avoid make up when I'm working at home, but sometimes, a little slick of mascara and under eye concealer helps me feel brighter. As I have to pop out later, I took that as an excuse to apply my new favourite foundation: Armani's Lasting Silk. It manages to give great coverage while still keeping a lovely hint of sheer luminosity. If you're looking for a flawless face in an instant, this is a great place to start!


When there's no time to grocery shop...

...it's always good to know that, with a bag of yellow split peas and a spice cupboard brimming with exotic flavours, supper is never far away. This recipe for tarka dal by the gorgeous Anjum Anand is one of my favourite go-to comfort meals: rich, tasty and warming. Perfect heaped in a bowl with some basmati rice for easy Sunday eating. All you need to add are your favourite film and a glass of wine - heaven!

Boots Protect and Perfect Intense - welcome back, old friend!

I'm just back from a lovely brunch in Clapham with my friend Hannah, and on the way home, I decided to pop into Boots to grab some Protect & Perfect Intense serum. I could live in Boots and my advantage card gets considerably more abuse than my credit card does!

I've been using the serum since it came out, and for some reason, the last time I ran out, I didn't repurchase. I think the product gets your skin into such great shape that you forget you actually have to work for this smooth and radiant complexion! As soon as I got home, I stripped away my make up and am currently sitting here with a silky soft, post P&P application skin and a nice coating of Rituals conditioner on my hair. *Sigh* I love Sunday's without the boyfriend.

P&P is a great product, suitable for all skin types and is the first clinically proven anti-ageing serum. I used to work for the Professor who developed and trialled the product, and as one of the world's leading dermatologists, I can't stray too far from the great advice he gave me about looking after my skin with anti-ageing products before wrinkles start to appear. Some anti-wrinkle creams are too heavy and rich for young skin, but P&P crosses the boundaries of age and provides results (either reducing existing signs of ageing or for younger skin, keeping them at bay!) Results start to show straight away, but wrinkles are reduced by up to 50% in 4 weeks and after 6 months, your skin actually starts to regenerate: very clever stuff!

I've tried the entire P&P range, comprising day, night and eye creams, which I felt had little or no impact. The standout product for me is definitely the serum, which I pair with the Sanctuary's Rich Rejuvenating day cream and Pro Collagen night cream (review to come soon).

Boots are currently offering a free gift including sample sizes of P&P when you spend £22 on No.7. A 30ml bottle of P&P Intense retails for £22.50 at Boots stores across the UK, and is now available in the US. So, what are you waiting for?

Don't forget to follow The Beauty Hall and tell us your favourite product for a chance to win a great prize! Click here for details.


Giveaway: Birthday giveaway prizes - CLOSED

You'll be pleased to know that I braved Oxford Street in the rain to secure the birthday giveaway prize today: you should count yourselves very lucky! I selected a few of my favourite products at the moment and have gone for some light, summery colours, despite the hideous weather we're having here in London. The winner will receive:

1 x Maybelline The Falsies mascara in Black
1 x No 17 Mirror Shine Lipstick in Flirtini, a gorgeous sheer pink that kind of looks like you've been eating a few too many cherries!
1 x Barry M limited edition nail paint in 30, a beautiful and intense lilac (a little darker and warmer than standard lilac and really pretty!)
1 x Aussie 3 Minute Miracle sachet
1 x Dermalogica Ultra Calming Cleanser sacher
1 x Armani Silk lipstick tester blister pack including Satin Silk (a rich, caramel nude), Pure Silk (a vamp-it-up Russian red) and Sparkling Silk (a slightly shimmery gloss)
1 x 7ml sample of Aveda Tourmaline Charged Hydrating Creme moisturiser
1 x 5ml sample of Aveda Tourmaline Charged Eye Creme

This competition will be open to the first 50 followers of this blog only, and for your chance to win, simply become a follower and tell me what your favourite, can't-live-without product is in the comments section below. The winner will be selected at random from the first 50 followers who have posted a comment. There are no restrictions on postage so you can enter this competition no matter where in the world you live! So what are you waiting for?

Saturday shopping

Source: jakandjil.com
I have never lusted after a blue Oxford shirt, but Racquel Zimmerman makes everything she wears look so utterly covetable. I will be hunting for a shirt like this today and hoping it looks half as good on me...


Lust of the week: Elephantine Jewelry

For the past month, my poor boyfriend has been asking what I'd like for my birthday, which is now a mere week away. He always picks the most fantastic presents, but this year, I've been procrastinating about what I want and he's imposed a deadline of tomorrow for me to decide on a gift. Happily, I stumbled on Elephantine Jewelry this evening. Yes, I want to write 'jewellery' but I am supressing my English pedantry and sticking to official branding!

Elephantine is the creation of Rachel Blakley, a Seattle-based jewellery designer who produces divinely simple and elegant jewellery. Her pieces look so utterly tactile, with beautiful curves that are so chic, they need only a simple white t-shirt as a backdrop.

I have my eye on these necklaces as well as few other pieces, but I'll have to wait until the 17th to see what he chooses!

Rachel's creations can be purchased here and you can view her blog here. All images are from the Elephantine Etsy shop.

Birthday giveaway!

As it's my birthday in just over a week, I thought I'd celebrate by launching The Beauty Hall's first giveaway: cue excited 'ooooooooooooooohs'! I'm off shopping for the yet to be determined prizes very soon, but it will be a little selection of some of my favourite products: I'll post details as soon as I've purchased!

The working-at-home wardrobe

Some of you have written to me requesting 'outfit of the day' type posts, and as my camera USB is on holiday (read: lost) at the moment, I thought I would show you an example of what I like to wear when I'm working from home.

The lure of pyjamas is all too great when you only have to step out of bed and wander down the hall to find your desk, but for me, the thought of spending a week in my jim-jams makes me feel more 'patient' than 'professional'. For me, it's all about striking the right balance between comfort and style, and looks a little something like this...

This is a selection I pulled together earlier this year of soft, slouchy pieces contrasted with tailored basics. These pieces absolutely reflect the style I like to wear when I'm working chez moi: comfortable and relaxed enough that I don't feel over-glam, but also appropriate enough that I don't flee in terror if there's a knock at the front door!

All images are courtesy of net-a-porter.com and topshop.com and as most were pulled earlier this year, they may no longer be available.

Once my USB has returned from its break, I'll be sure to photograph some actual outfits!
Clockwise from top:

1. L'Agence Black Jersey T-shirt dress
2. Tapeet Crochet Sandals
3. Vionnet Cuff
4. Falke Knee High Socks
5. Topshop Oversized Grey Jumper
6. Michael Kors Mini Short
7. Alice + Olivia Striped Skirt

The Beauty Hall gets a makeover

Finally I've had some time to revamp the blog a little and I've gone for what I love best: a clear and simple layout with a strong white background that let's the content shine. I've also scrapped the old font as I felt it looked a bit twee. Yes, I am one of those people who is very particular about using the right font for the right purpose: in other words, a sad person!

I hope you like the new look and that it makes the blog a little more readable. I'll also be changing the header soon as the unglamorous finger print on the Chanel lipstick is really annoying me. You probably hadn't even noticed that until now...ooops!

The bandwagon needs some new wheels...

I am not a girl with sufficient willpower to resist hype. If a product promises something that Mother Nature neglected to add to her 'Rachel Recipe', you can bet your Birkin that I will be in the queue.

Saying that, it's a convoluted train of events. First, the product is hyped by beauty eds and I am intrigued. What then begins is a stealthy few weeks of product research and by that, I mean vast consumption of reviews, reviews, reviews. I eat them up, and it is of course, the primary reason we're all here. I trust the Nicola Moulton's, the Edwina Ings-Chambers and the Newby Hands of this world, but what I also want is a dedicated blogger who I know has used that product for a good few weeks before she gives it her seal of approval. Like most of us, I want to know whether the average girl on the street thinks that this product is worth parting with her hard-earned cash for.

I used to work for the dermatologist who developed and trialled Boots' Protect and Perfect, the first beauty product to undergo such an extensive and rigorous clinical trial. As Professor Griffiths said at the time of launch, Boots took a huge risk in asking him to lead such a large clinical trial, because if the product had failed, it would have been pretty difficult to let it slip quietly into the night. Of course, what happened is that they proved that they had developed a medical-grade product that is so effective, it could have been listed as a medicine, and I have been a dedicated user ever since.

So, back to the point of this post and a confession that, since Laura of Lollipop26 has been popping HairSublim and silica pills to enhance her hair growth and condition, I have found myself unable to resist their pull, and today is my first day of taking them. It's recomended that the tablets are taken for 3 months before results are visible, but I am hoping that they kick-start my hair growth, which is currently considerably slower than glacial movement. I'm scepticle about any significant changes, but of course, I live in hope. When I told my boyfriend, he said he'd call the snake oil salesman - a reference to my inability to resist wild promises, apparently. Unsurprisingly, he was less dismissive when I told him that I was contemplating trialling Pupa's Breast Enhancer which claims to increase breast size by up to a cup. Men!

Are there any products out there that you've been unable to resist the hype for? More importantly, did they work?!


Product Follow-up: Pureology Essential Repair range

You may remember that I couldn't get enough of the Essential Repair shampoo and conditioner when I first got them. They left my hair glossy and full of bounce, and it seemed as though I had found my dream hair products. Sadly, I am back on the haircare market as Essential Repair and I parted ways last week after a difficult month of avoiding each other in the bathroom.

After 4-5 washes, I started to notice that my naturally dry hair was looking increasingly dull and feeling rather coarse: alarming when I was actually expecting the reverse. I remembered that, last year, my hairdresser had insisted that Hydrate was the only range for me, and that I shouldn't ever deviate. On my recent visit for a trim, I confessed all and asked her whether my lacklustre tresses could be down to Essential Repair zapping away precious moisture. "It's a funny one", she said and went on to explain that, whilst the product is meant to nourish and repair, it isn't able to supply very dry hair with the required moisture. Given that those of us with dry hair often have the most damage, it seems like this range is something of a curve ball: it promises great things but can't deliver on one of the key aspects of what I would consider to be healthy hair - softness. Although I can't deny that my hair felt strong, the texture and lack of shine were really disappointing, and so I passed the products (with a warning) onto a friend with much healthier hair.

I'm not writing off Pureology completely. I still whole-heartedly recommend Hydrate to anyone looking for a nourishing shampoo as this really delivers, and my hairdresser assures me that the Volume range is also a top notch product. I am currently debating whether to go back for a stint with Kerastase, revisit my old friend Redken, or take a punt on Shu Uemura (if anyone has tried Shu, please let me know your thoughts. I tried the Nourishing Oil and will be buying this as soon as my leave-in runs out, but would value thoughts on the hair cleansing range).

Along with my shampoo and conditioner purchase, I bought the Essential Repair split end treatment and the ShineMax serum, both of which I'm still using, but I'm not sure I will repurchase. It's hard to say what impact the split end treatment is having, as my hair was cut two weeks ago, so we are definitely out of split end territory. If things are still looking good in 3-4 weeks, then this product will get my full backing, so I will keep you informed. And remember, despite the promising names, there is no miracle product that can 'treat' your split ends: most only seal them or provide a heat defence layer which will delay the onset of split ends in some cases, depending on the natural strength of your hair. It may be a truth many of us don't want to acknowledge, but the only effective way to remove split ends is with a pair of scissors!

ShineMax serum is a nice enough product, but for me, it's not the best out there, and not a patch on Label M's serum. I'm finding that I'm using 4-5 squeezes when I used to make do with one pump of Label M. As the latter is cheaper and way more effective, it will definitely be back on my shopping list when ShineMax runs out.

I'm really disappointed at the performance of these products, and if you have dry/very dry hair, I would definitely recommend making Hydrate your first port of call in the Pureology range. In my opinion, Essential Repair really doesn't live up to its promises, and seems to be an uncomfortable fit with an otherwise excellent product line.

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