Review: Mavala Cuticle Remover

Wow: cuticle remover. I bet you can barely contain your excitement at this one. Let me tell you: it's no understatement when I say that this product is going to change my life. And change it in a good way!

Readers, whilst recognising the problem that is an untamed cuticle (they're the number one friend of the hangnail, if you're wondering), I absolutely hate having them removed. God knows what I think will happen. I just don't like it. Nails down a blackboard? Barely notice. Cotton wool between the teeth? Not bothered (and who actually does that, anyway?) Cuticle removal? WINCE.

During every manicure I've ever had, I'm in an acetone-scented heaven up until the cuticle-ectomy, at which point, I'm fidgeting and fussing and hoping it's over quickly (it never is, given that I put off manicures for so long because I hate the removal!) Just thinking about it now makes my toes curl. Something about the pushing, scraping and occasional snipping just feels wrong to me. The manicurist is always too firm, and I end up looking away, humming, chomping my cuticle-stress chewing gum too hard and generally seeking all distractions until the task is complete.

So it was that today I happily stumbled across Mavala's Cuticle Remover. In one minute, it softens and lifts the cuticle, and all that's needed is a very quick push along the cuticle with a manicure stick to remove the dead skin. No shoving, no scraping, no muss, no fuss. For the bargain price of £5.60, I get to live a cuticle-free life, and need never see a manicurist wielding one of those horrid metal scraper-thingamies at me again. Life is bloody great sometimes *sigh*

The instructions recommend doing this once a week to achieve a perfect at-home mani, meaning that a trip to the salon may now be for relaxation purposes only. Who knew?!


Style: The Friday Edit - Asos

When it comes to the weekend, there are few things I like more than a good shop. That said, I've scaled back my purchasing quite considerably over the past year, realising that I wore only a fraction of the clothes I bought with any frequency. To make it into my lovely, edited wardrobe, clothes now have to be multi-purpose: that means day to night, office to weekend, dressed up to dressed down, chic, stylish and simple. Hence, The Friday Edit is born.

Every week, I'll be picking a brand and featuring my favourite pieces. TFE will always include a jacket, trousers, top, skirt, dress and shoes, and will be pieces that will fit seamlessly and stylishly into any girl's wardrobe!

Peplum leather jacket, £150

Ankle zip trousers, £32

Elephant print shirt, £35

Coral split hem skirt, £45

Mango dip hem dress, £69.99

Preen for Aldo heels, £135

All products available from Asos. Happy shopping!


Haircare challenge: Review #4 - Kerastase Elixir Ultime

'The haircare month is still going?' I hear you cry! Yes. We all know how crap I am at regular posting, and given that I set myself a pretty hefty challenge, it's unsurprising that I failed. That said, I'm persevering with the theme with a slight rebrand: no longer will I refer to the 'month', and instead, we'll stick to haircare as a theme. Entirely more realistic, and allows me to pick it up as and when I can keep my eyes open after work. Winner!

Anyway, onto business...

What is it: Another hair oil, and notably, the winner of a Bazaar top 100 beauty products award (amongst many others). Their beauty editor, Newby Hands, is as spot-on with product recommendations as her name is crazy, so if she likes it, I'm there. Yes, it contains silicones, but it's also lauded as a serious smoother, tamer and all-round glosser. I was told by the good people at Trevor Sorbie's Covent Garden salon that 'it has a couple more ingredients than the Shu Uemura oil' (which was out of stock at the time - sad face) so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

Price point: Around £29, which is pretty standard for a salon-brand hair oil. This may sound expensive, but given that you need a tiny amount, they last for ages. 

USP: The website says 'Elixir Ultime delivers a powerful cocktail of emollient and anti-oxidant active ingredients for ultimate shine and suppleness while promoting cellular renewal.' So far, and it sounds so good. So, how does it perform?

Would I recommend it: Hmm, I have to confess, I was disappointed. We all know I love the Shu oil which leaves my hair perfectly silky. For me, Elixir Ultime is the kind of silicone-based product that initially gets your hair super glossy, and then after a few weeks' use, you start noticing some dryness. This is in complete contrast to Shu's Nourishing Oil, which moisturises without drying. I got a third of the way through the Elixir Ultime bottle and stopped using it. Any hint that a product is wicking much-needed moisture from my hair is a deal-breaker for me. I have naturally dry, curly hair that definitely needs more love than most hair types. Just because this isn't for me, doesn't mean it won't be for you. That said, if you have dry hair, I'd recommend Moroccan Oil, Macademia Oil, Phyto or Shu Uemura before this one every time. There are plenty of brands to choose from, and as with most things, it's about working out what's right for you.

Would I repurchase: Sadly not. And with two thirds of this left, the prospect of buying Shu again without finishing this makes me feel very wasteful. I keep thinking about putting the Elixir onto ebay as it clearly works for lots of people (the sage Newby included), but I can't help but feel that this has been the nail in the coffin of my once dedicated Kerastase habit. Disappointing!


Makeup: 17 Blemish Balm All in One Magic Make Up Review

Today, I had one of those weird beauty blogger moments that make an ordinary make up purchase into an 'ohmygod, *HOW* have I not written about this already?' situation. You know what I'm talking about: the non-blogged about repurchase. I'm so excited about this product that I feel like a rambling tale is better than the usual structured review format. You might want to make a cuppa for this one, but if you can't be bothered reading, skip to the end for the summary review!

We all know how fickle we can be when it comes to ditching a once-beloved product in favour of a shiny new competitor. They promise us more length on our lashes, more plump in our pouts and skin that could render Photoshop obsolete and we're skipping merrily to the next counter quicker than you can say 'brand loyalty'. It's no wonder beauty ads get bigger, brighter and glossier with every product launch: we're a tough crowd!

Anyway, back to my trip to Boots, and a repurchase from a brand I never thought would be up in lights on here. Yup, it's my teenage-years go-to favourite...17! Now, back when I was a gal, 17 was all sparkly eye shadow and what I like to think of as 'training make up'. My Saturday morning trips into Manchester with the girls would invariably see someone selecting a foundation three shades too dark (hello, jawline!), *everyone* buying pressed powder and a concealer stick (the Clearasil obviously wasn't cutting it), and me wondering if blue eyeliner might be a good weekend look (it wasn't). Then, with age came a lust for the high end, and I spent many happy years drifting around various department store beauty halls (yes, that's where the name comes from), until the chemist brands got savvy and threw their money behind the endless churn of new products in a multi-million pound game of 'mine's better than yours'. 

Yet however good the products (mascara, I'm batting my lashes at you), what always let them down for me was the packaging. Often gaudy (they need to stand out), sometimes cheap, and generally none of the luxe/quirky covetability of the higher end brands, I generally only bought chemist-brand make up when there was a make up emergency and I needed something *now*. One such necessity purchase came a few months ago when a friend invited me to a restaurant opening last minute and I had no make up with me. Into Boots I strolled and lo, I spy the 17 rebrand. Charcoal boxes, a nice new font and somehow, the 17 of yore slipped from my memory. This felt grown up, and they were offering products I wanted with names I couldn't resist. 'Photo Flawless Primer', anyone? 3 for 2, you say? So it was that I walked away with an emergency black eyeliner, the primer, and the holy grail and truly magical subject of this eulogy: BB All in One Magic Make Up.

I'd been desperate to try a BB, yet they were all too dark. This one was a little darker than my skin, but applied on face and neck, it looked remarkably natural. What's more, the result was an even tone, imperfections were hidden and at the end of the night, it was still exactly the same. I used it the next day, and the next, all with perfect results. After a month, something even better happened: my skin without make up was clearer, softer, more even. For £6.99. Friends made their compliments and then went straight to Boots to buy a slice of the action, and now today, I renewed my commitment and repurchased. My Clinique City Block, Nars Sheer Glow, Bobbi Brown, Liz Earle - all once much-loved - are sitting quietly in the cupboard, and I genuinely don't see a time when I'll need to go back to them. 17 BB, you truly are Magic Make Up. Did I mention that it was £6.99? £6.99!

So, in summary: 

1. It's cheap
2. It makes your skin look amazing when you're wearing it
3. It eventually makes your skin look amazing when you're not wearing it
4. It's bloody cheap
5. Do you need another reason to go and try it?! Well, it can be yours for 699 Advantage Card points if you can't bear to part with the cash!

I'm super keen to know whether any of you have ditched your foundation in favour of BB, and indeed, what are your favourite brands? Have you tried 17's? Share the BB love with me and let's see if I can be lured away from this one!


Craft: Patchwork cushion

Today I made this little beauty with the help of the wonderful @alisoninlondon. This is my first foray into quilting and I'm totally hooked. My next project? Hop to my Pinterest if you're curious...

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