FACE | Dad’s The Word - The ultimate gift guide for Father’s Day

This Sunday we’re celebrating Dad. From being there through all of those big, life-changing moments & standing by your side through every little thing in between, there’s no doubt about it that the best dad deserves the very best gift this Father’s Day.

But men can be hard to shop for, I mean with no ‘Saved for Later’ baskets or Instagram #inspo to direct us, coupled with the fact they seem to have absolutely everything along with a disinterest for dropping any sort of hints (or perhaps us ladies just make gifting too easy…) - it is safe to say that finding the perfect gift for dad (or husband/baby-daddy) can often be a tall task.

So to help get you started, we have chosen some of our favourite gifts to make saying thanks this Father’s Day that little bit easier…

First up, are these super-luxurious Clinique gift sets which include a trio of products at a great price. And if that isn’t enough, all of Clinique’s products are also allergy tested and 100% fragrance-free, so even the most sensitive of skin can feel the benefits.

Clinique Daily Hydration Kit £26.99

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This trio of daily face products includes Clinique For Men’s Charcoal Face Wash (50ml), Cream Shave (60ml) and Moisturising Lotion (100ml) and is perfect for men with drier skins. The customised formulas will keep skin feeling super smooth and comfortable whilst the smaller size makes it the perfect travel companion.

The Charcoal Face Wash draws out pore-clogging dirt and excess oil, while the Cream Shave provides a rich buffer against razor drag and nicks - ensuring dad gets the perfect shave each and every time.

The full-size Moisturising Lotion delivers weightless, all-day hydration leaving skin super healthy-looking and revitalised. For something a little bit extra, another alternative to this would be the Clinique Daily Intense Hydration Kit £36.99 which swaps the Moisturising Lotion for a full-size ultralight Maximum Hydrator which delivers a 179% moisture boost for instantly plumper skin.

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Clinique Daily Oil Control £26.99

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This set of customised formulas keeps skin clear and shine-free. As well as the Oil Control Face Wash which thoroughly cleanses and removes excess oil and the luxurious Cream Shave you also get a full-size Mattifying Moisturiser which delivers lightweight, oil-free hydration – plus, it helps skin stay matt all day long. 

Also from Clinique is the Daily Age Repair Kit £33.50, which includes the Charcoal Face Wash, Cream Shave and full-size Anti-Age Moisturiser. This trio works together to combat lines, wrinkles and dullness to deliver a younger, revitalised look.

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Next up, we head over to Lab Series which does great skincare for men. Their best-selling High Performance Duo set (£37.00) includes the Multi Action Face Wash (100ml) and the PRO LS All-In-One Face Treatment (100ml) which work together for powerful results – everyday skincare has never been easier – perfect for dads that are always on the go!

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Another top pick is The Grooming Oil 3-IN-1 Shave & Beard Oil £27.00 which is a triple-blend grooming oil that delivers an all-in-one solution for shave and beard care. Sea Buckthorn Oil, Jojoba Oil and Sweet Almond Oil blend with vitamins and hydrators to tackle each grooming need including; pre-shave, shave and beard, improving manageability, smoothness and shine.

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Why not help dad stay protected this summer with the brand new Day Rescue Defense Lotion SPF 35 (£31.00)? This lightweight, invisible daily moisturiser with SPF and Hydra-Endure Technology helps combat the visible effects of sun, dry climate, and pollution – environmental damage that can lead to dehydrated skin and premature aging. The product is also suitable for use on bald heads.

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So, now that you’ve found the perfect gift, it’s time to get gifting! Happy Father’s Day!

 

FACE | GLOW AESTHETICS OPENS

GET THE GLOW!

Whether or not you opt for that extra needle in facial aesthetics in the form of fillers and anti-wrinkle injections (AKA Botox),  the processes are here to stay, but as the industry grows it is important to consider where you have treatments done, and by whom!

This week I got the chance to pop along to the launch of the new GLOW Aesthetics clinic at the Culloden Estate and Spa and met with Emma Kennedy and William Trainor, both experienced hospital nurses who have been working in aesthetics for over a decade.

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Their new clinic, located in the sumptuous surroundings of the Culloden spa, offers Teoxane fillers for lips, cheeks and jawline as well as Botox for all the usual areas, should you wish to try it; plus a range of cosmeceutical Treatments to make your skin glow!

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And as I always like to try new things that I've not ventured into before, I have decided to give the derma-planing a go, and will report back in the coming weeks.

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Meanwhile check out the full treatment and price list here - and quote GLOW20 when booking to get £20 off your first treatment. Whoop! Call 07719326507 to book.

FACE | OH LA LOLA!

As I write this there is a glimmer of sunset sunshine resting on the horizon and, being the ever-optimist, I am doing a little sundance and hoping that the never-ending winter may finally be coming to an end (well, a gal can always dream…)

So, as we start to look towards longer (and hopefully warmer) days ahead, I have been revamping my makeup bag with the help of my lovely beauty godmother LOLA by Perses.

LOLA by Perses first came into my radar when I was checking out their website (www.lolamakeup.com) and the pretty NARS-esque packaging caught my eye. A UK-based brand, the cruelty-free beauty line is the brainchild of a creative team of talented British make-up artists who created it with the aim of producing quality makeup at reasonable prices. So when they kindly sent me a few items to try I was more than a little bit excited!

So, without further ado, here are some of the Lola products I have been trying out this month;

LOLA PERFECT SKIN – ILLUMINATING BASE

The Lola primer comes in a small tube – only 15ml - but don’t let the size put you off, as you only need a small amount to cover your entire face. I added a pea sized amount to the back of my hand and the first thing I noticed was the gorgeous velvety texture. It applies easily to the skin and instantly reduces the appearance of any large pores and fine lines – meaning it automatically gets a thumbs up from me!
It also managed to keep my makeup in place all day (even through umpteen meetings and with the heating blasting in the office, which is no mean feat!)-  and it left my skin with a gorgeous subtle glow.
You can also use it as a highlighter making it the perfect multi-purpose product in one tube!

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LOLA MATTE LONG LASTING LIQUID FOUNDATION

The LOLA foundation was presented in a lovely frosted glass bottle and when I picked it up I was also pleasantly surprised by the weight – this definitely has the feel of a lovely luxury product so I was very surprised to see that it comes in at under £20!
The built in pump dispenses the correct amount of foundation so you aren’t left with lots of unneeded product, making it one of my favourites to date!

First up, the foundation has a lovely creamy texture and blended into my skin well using a beauty blender sponge. The soft-focus effect visibly reduces imperfections, fine lines and pores giving you an instant ‘gram ready complexion in minutes!
It also has oil-absorbing properties which helps minimise shine – perfect if you suffer from combination or oily skin.

I am extremely impressed by the foundation and it definitely competes with some of my favourites, and I don’t say that lightly! With the buildable coverage I was able to achieve medium coverage without losing the lovely natural finish which I love and it also feels super lightweight so you almost feel like you aren’t wearing makeup at all! 

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HIGHLIGHTING CONCEALER PEN

After applying my foundation I added this under my eyes to hide any dark circles (that may have appeared following the non-stop business of FASHIONWEEK where sleep was 4 hours pre night max…) and was instantly impressed. This liquid concealer was extremely light and blended flawlessly. Pearl-coated pigments left my skin glowing and the cream melted into my skin effortlessly. It is also perfect for quick touch-ups throughout the day.

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LOLA LONG LASTING INTENSE COLOUR LIP GLOSS

I am a big fan of lip gloss – especially in the summer, so I couldn’t wait to try these. I tried colours rose pink, pink shimmer and rose.
All of the glosses were highly pigmented and had long lasting water-shine; they also didn’t feel sticky on the lips, which I liked. All of these colours are tones I would normally wear and came up as soft feminine shades (The rose pink gloss had a gorgeous salmon pink hue, whilst the pink shimmer was a lovely peach tone – perfect for your holidays and lastly the rose was a subtle nude tone with high shine - great for everyday wear).
The glosses also contain hydrating Hyaluronic Acid which works in combination with an active vitamin complex to help condition lips and give a plumped appearance.

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VERDICT

I am super impressed with the LOLA products and they definitely compete with some of my favourite products – albeit at half the price tag! The creators of the brand had an aim to make it easier for women everywhere to apply makeup effortlessly - and with hundreds of products, shades and options, I think it is fair to say they have succeeded.

So, if you haven’t already tried these products I would add them to your wish list pronto! They are available via their website and have also recently landed in Menary’s stores across Northern Ireland too, which is handy for my local readers. Enjoy!

FACE | THE ELIXIR OF LIFE

The word elixir usually conjures up images of a secret potion designed to prolong life or give the gift of eternal youth or beauty, and so it’s not a bad name for a clinic whose product can, essentially - albeit indirectly - do both to a certain degree.

 

I visited the Elixir Clinic in Wimpole Street, London just last weekend, and if you followed my Instagram stories on the day, (or now, in my highlights) you’ll know that, unlike the last time I had an IV vitamin infusion, I came to this one slightly dehydrated and fuzzy from a few glasses of wine the night before.

 

But I feel unfair starting with that info, because a hangover cure this is not, despite the rumours and hype created by Rihanna and Cara Delevigne, or previously by the Rolling Stones in their heyday when they enjoyed Dr Meyer’s famed vita-cocktails after a busy night rock n rollin’. Nope, this is a credible health and well-being treatment, and from a purely beauty perspective, it is akin to a super-facial or head to toe body treatment with all the work being done from the inside. (Although it does also make you feel wonderful, despite the night-before-wine, I have to say - curing headache, tiredness and nausea in minutes, as well as replenishing skin, hair and nails with zero calories, so it’s much better than a greasy spoon solution).

 

In short, it’s a 45minute treatment whereby a fusion of vitamins, minerals and amino acids are inserted into the bloodstream intro-venously. And just to cut to the chase, the results are bloody brilliant.  

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‘But why not just pop a vitamin pill?’, I hear you ask. Well, one of the problems with oral supplements is that they're not fully bioavailable - in other words, they're not fully absorbed. By delivering them intravenously, the bioavailability is 100pc; you're injecting it directly into the veins. The body absorbs exactly what it needs and no more - so there is no chance of overdoing it.

We don’t know exactly what the content and ratios of each of the VitaDrip formulae are, but there are medically pre-designed combinations for Adrenal Fatigue, Immunity Boosting, Mood Boosting, New Motherhood and Jet Lag, among others. The combinations were created by the clinic’s founders - two former Harley Street nurses - and they have locations in the Middle East as well as three locations in London (at The Ned Hotel in the City and within Harrods Wellness Centre, as well as the Marylebone clinic that I visited).  I plumped for the Fitness drip, but there is  also a bespoke option in which you can have a drip made to your exact requirements on  that particular day.  As you can imagine, the benefits are enjoyed and prolonged with a healthy diet  and proper hydration.

The downside? Needle-phobes may need to look away as the small cannula is slotted into place and hooked up to the type of IV stand often seen in hospitals. My left arm veins wouldn’t take, so we had to hook up the right arm, but it wasn’t painful at all, in fact the only disadvantage was that I couldn’t text or email as the arm has to remain outstretched and straight, so I was forced to lie back and just relax. Quelle Horreur!

And then, just an hour after entering the clinic with a dull head and feeling tired, I left with a spring in my step and slept like a baby that night.

So, to conclude, does the drip actually work - or is it money down the vein? In my opinion - it TOTALLY works. I felt fantastic and really rejuvenated and I would challenge anyone not to feel the same. Many people claim to see immediate differences in their skin and hair, although to be honest I didn’t, but then I wasn’t looking, plus my skin is quite well hydrated anyway.

The cost isn’t massively prohibitive either - the last clinic I went to charged around £500, but the pre-mix VitaDrip with pre medical screening at Elixir costs approx £200. One of my favourite slogans at the moment is ‘You think wellness is expensive? You should try illness?’ and this is a perfect example of prevention rather than cure, when it comes to health and wellbeing these days.

For a full price list and further information, please visit www.theelixirclinic.com

FACE | GOING GREEN

I have chosen to go ‘green’ this St. Patrick’s Day, but not necessarily in the context of the colour of the Emerald Isle… Instead, I have recently been given the chance to try out two brands, namely Inika and Evolve - Organic Beauty, which are green in the sense that they are cruelty free and vegan make-up/skin care ranges consisting of products for the face, eyes, lips and hands. 

The Inika products are 100% Halal and come in a luxurious, classy black and gold packaging which is made from recycled materials (and is also cruelty free). The Evolve product is hand made using 99.7% natural products. And as I love all things organic, I couldn’t wait to try out these gorgeous products with no nasties to harm my skin along the way. 

I got to try a gorgeous blush and two different eye products from Inika, along with a blemish serum from Evolve, all of which helped me look my best with less harmful chemicals applied to my face.

Inika Loose Mineral Blush – Red Apple (£23)

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Inika says: - ‘Containing light reflecting pigments to give cheeks a gorgeous glow, it will promote a healthy warm glow while adding texture and radiance for a natural finish’. 

As this blush is finely milled, it allows for a beautiful blend on the skin. It is free from oil, alcohol, fillers, fragrance - and preservatives too, prioritising the health of your skin (which we could all benefit from). For application of this blush you can apply to the cheeks as desired, however as it is highly pigmented - so a little goes a long way. This shade (Red Apple) in particular gives a deep rosy glow on the cheek adding life to your complexion. It was very slightly too red for me, but I’d wanted to try the shade anyway to test pigmentation depth, and in any case, there is also ‘Blooming Nude’ and ‘Peachy Keen’ which would be more my usual shades (check them out online, they are really fab colours). Additionally, if the loose blush doesn’t tickle your fancy, Inika also has a range of stunning baked blushers to help you achieve the desired glow in a way that is suited to you.

Inika Pressed Mineral Eye Shadow Duo – Gold Oyster (£22)

Inka says: - ‘Each shadow boasts a high performance mineral colour that is rich in pigment, crease-proof and long lasting.’

This gorgeous warm toned duo shade is the perfect ‘go-to’ eye shadow, as you can easily use both shades to create a simple yet stunning every day look (which you can also pop in your handbag). The shadows are great for sensitive eyes as there are no added harmful chemicals and as they are ‘crease free’, those of us with hooded eyes or matured skin can rely on these without fear of smudges or a dreaded patchy eye look. For application, Team Inika recommends that you use a base - the Inika Perfection Concealer, or simply your preferred concealer or primer, for best results. The pigment of this particular shadow is nice and natural, which allows for building the product’s intensity as you like it, plus it makes blending easy - mistakes are easily fixed.

There is a selection of seven shades available in the Mineral Duo Shadow collection, ranging from these golden warm tones to much more cool tones to achieve whatever look you wish. If you’re indecisive like me and don’t want to limit yourself to two shades, you can also opt for their ‘Day to Night’ palette which offers a variety of 7 (mostly warm toned) shades - perfect for the most natural look right up to the most intense look.

Inika Certified Organic Eye Pencil – Graphite (£14.50)

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Inika says: - ‘Handcrafted pencils with natural plant ingredients and mineral colour blends. Soft and creamy texture that wears all day without smudging’.

With coconut oil as the key ingredient of this product, it is hard to go wrong - and it makes this pencil so perfect for the most sensitive eyes. This shade, ‘Graphite’ is a gorgeous grey, which I think is perfect for everyday wear as it is not too dark yet still adds definition to your lash line. With a creamy consistency it gracefully glides on to the lash line with no drag when applying. I love that you can apply it to the lower lash line, above your lash line, or generally all over the lid for a more smoked-out dramatic effect. It is long lasting and smudge free, perfect for a long day at work or even for a special occasion. Paired with the duo shadows you can achieve a full glam look if you top up.

With nine shades in the collection, ranging from the darkest ‘Black Cavier’, or the most colourful ‘Pure Purple’ to brighten up your eyes, these liners are suitable for any time of day or occasion. Again, if the pencil liner doesn’t seem appealing to you, Inika also offers a liquid liner if that is your preference. 

Good news - at the minute if you subscribe to ‘The Healthy Revolution’ mailing list on the Inika website you will be first in the know about offers and new releases and you’ll receive £5 off your first order with FREE shipping.

Evolve Organic Beauty- Blemish Serum (£22)

Evolve says: - ‘This natural yet powerful skin treatment can be used on blemish prone and congested skin at any age as well as oily and combination skin to decrease sebum production and blemishes, leaving skin clearer and helping to protect skin from future breakouts’.

In other words, this can be described as handmade heaven in a bottle. It is recommended to apply this ‘rainforest rescue serum’ to clean skin morning and night, however if you have an unwanted spot that you need banished before an important event, you could apply this throughout the day as necessary for fast results. Within a day or two, your blemish will be visibly better with little inflammation. This serum is unlike other blemish care products due to its organic nature, and it does not sting or irritate skin making the little extra price worth it. As it’s a serum, I know those with oily skin will fret - however it is totally suitable as it is a non-oil based serum with a great consistency.

These types of organic products mentioned are definitely the way forward in skin care and make up technology, as they’re suitable for sensitive skin and also aren’t harmful to the environment. I most certainly will be going green with the help of these organic goodies in my beauty bag this St Patricks Day. Will you?

FACE | FACING FACTS WITH SENSEE

When the Sensee Facial Contour Definer arrived in the office there was definitely a tittle tattle and a whisper among the team to ascertain whether I’d ordered a sexy toy from Mya or Agent Provocateur, when in fact my pretty package contained a beautiful and ergonomic rose-gold-coloured, hand-held facial massager. (Gosh that was a mouthful!)

Arriving in a beautiful white box, first impressions were excellent, and I was also pleasantly surprised to find that it has a lovely weight to it – this is definitely a quality product.

Although I am lucky to have been blessed with good genes, there is no escaping the fact that as we get older our skin starts to lose its elasticity, so, from luxurious creams and regular facials to drinking copious amounts of water – my best beauty secret – I work hard to maintain some sort of firmness and protection for my skin. Promising to instantly relieve tension, boost blood circulation, stimulate collagen production annnd activate lymphatic drainage to detoxify skin – the Sensee derma roller was hot on my wish list…

Ok - I know what you’re thinking, the shape is certainly interesting and I can’t deny that it looks a little phallic; you may even get some awkward stares if you open this one in the office like I did, but, the truth is, it looks that way because of the job it needs to do - and it has to be said that it is actually a great design that really works - it fits nicely in the hand while the two massage rollers are positioned at the perfect angle to fit any face shape.  

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So how does it work?

Following the instructions, I held the handle and swept the roller along the edge of my jawline in an upwards motion for 5 minutes on each side. It was really easy to use, moving seamlessly up my jawline. As advised, I added this into my daily skincare routine, using it after moisturising each morning and evening and it wasn’t long before it became second nature. 

The roller balls have grooves across them which help give a really nice massage effect for an extra bonus. The whole experience left me feeling very relaxed and reduced any previous puffiness much to my delight. I read that the roller is also adaptable so you can use it all over your body, from your arms to your neck. It also doesn’t require batteries which I LOVE, you literally pick it up and do the work yourself. As the roller ball rotates it brings nutrients and oxygen to the collagen and elastin-producing cells in our face, resulting in younger, healthier looking skin.

 

So far I have only used it on my face and I have definitely noticed changes. My skin feels firmer and definitely stays hydrated for longer, I read online that like the massage techniques of a facialist, derma rollers help the skin absorb moisturiser and gives skin that lovely natural glow so maybe that is why. Incorporating this into my normal skincare routine has been easy and I am definitely going to use it on other areas of my skin in the future to see how it fares there…

Final verdict - this is a gorgeous product that is high quality and will last for years and I would definitely recommend investing in one (although maybe best not to leave it on your bedside table to avoid any awkward explanations)…

http://senssebeauty.com/product/facial-contour-definer/
 

FACE | A SLICE OF URBAN VEDA

I for one am so glad January is over, with its plethora of skin-damaging elements like excessive heating and frosty air, (and sometimes the lack of fresh air from staying inside so much). The combination has a terribly negative effect on my complexion and although February (so far) hasn’t seen much better weather, the budding daffodils are bringing me positive thoughts of spring.

February comes from the Latin Februum, which means to renew or to be reborn, and this month I am having a skin detox to help restore my skin’s complexion.  I’m aiming to try products which are as natural as possible and I’m kick starting the process with the help of Urban Veda.

The Urban Veda range follows the Ayurvedic Indian philosophy of health and wellbeing by harnessing the holistic and therapeutic power of plants – this means there are no nasties hidden in their formulae - they don’t contain parabens, SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate), or GM (genetically modified) ingredients (phew!), so it’s an instant thumbs up from me. 

The natural and organic ingredients together with multi-vitamins maintain the skin’s natural balance, preventing breakouts and other conditions resulting from excessive damage from the environment – so far, so good!

I have been using the facial wash and body cream from the Urban Veda Radiance range which is designed to give tired skin a natural glow – and who doesn’t want radiant skin?
The ingredients speak for themselves in this luxurious mix of gloopy goodness; anti-inflammatory turmeric reduces redness and puffiness, a mix of botanicals including coriander to help brighten skin, whilst anti-oxidant rich marigold ensures skin is cleansed and hydrated.

The first point to note is that the range smells amazing, which is always a bonus - when you smell good you feel good, right? I have been using the facial wash for a month now and the gentle formula glides easily onto my skin and removes all traces of makeup (even my stubborn smokey eye make up – annnd it does this without excessive rubbing – which of course is a cause for celebration alone!). In short, it leaves my skin feeling luxuriously smooth. The facial wash also contains Patchouli  which helps heal dry or inflamed skin (it is also said to be good at reducing scarring if a breakout has left its unwanted marks on your skin) leaving skin fresh and hydrated. I’m a soap and water kinda gal, so this wins all the Brownie Points for me.

Next up is the Radiance Body Lotion, which is packed with healing botanical extracts, including sweet almond oil (which I adore) to moisturise and nourish.  The lotion is thick and gorgeously creamy, but absorbed quickly into my skin – without leaving it feeling too oily or sticky. It also smells divine, cocooning my body in its gorgeous floral & herb scent and left my skin feeling super-soft all day - and all month while I trialled it.

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My verdict? Bathroom must-haves! I will definitely be trying out other products in the Radiance range as well as trying some of their other ranges, (they also have a purifying, reviving and soothing range as well). 

 

FACE | L'OCCITAINE AND RIFLE PAPER

When Provence, land of enchantment, meets the vibrant feminine flair of an inspiring stationery and lifestyle brand.

This week last year I was milling around Provence searching for truffles among the oak trees of rural farms, so it is fitting that, this week this year, I write about a company whose very scent - when I walk into its stores - reminds me of that part of the world. L’Occitaine was founded in 1976 and has retained a simple and natural ethos in everything it does since.

Likewise, Rifle Paper Co, enjoys a similar approach.  “I started Rifle Paper Co. with the hope of bringing beauty to the everyday,” says Rifle Paper Co.  co-founder and Creative Director Anna Bond, “I’m thrilled to partner with L’OCCITANE, a brand that shares the same sense of small pleasures,  as we create a custom collection inspired by the gardens of Provence.”

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Look out for the limited edition RIFLE PAPER Co. collection at L’OCCITAINE, which captures scents, lights and textures of South of France to adorn the iconic Shea range  with exclusive designs. Leaves, nuts and Shea blossoms blend blissfully  in this colourful collaboration, if the cream inside weren’t so bloomin’ fabulous I’d almost suggest you keep the container as a memento or collector’s item.

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Speaking of the hand cream, L’OCCITAINE’s Classic hand cream has been called a “beauty must” and “lifesaving” by people around the world. Enriched with 20% organic Shea Butter, (which is 100% natural origin, certified organic and comes straight from the nuts of the Karite tree in Burkina Faso), the super-creamy balm penetrates quickly and helps to protect, nourish and moisturise hands. Its yummy formula blends honey, almond extract and coconut oil with the Shea Butter to leave hands soft and smooth but never greasy.

Available in store since 18 January

FACE | WARM UP WITH YONKA!

I’m shattered! Anyone else?

The month of January seemed to arrive in a gusty, impatient blast, just like Storm Eleanor which brought in the New Year for many. And now, after a very busy few weeks which included launching the twenty-fifth season of Belfast FASHIONWEEK (I still remember the first one like yesterday!) I am finally catching my breath and taking a moment for some much-needed time out.

Most nights when Valentina goes to bed, you won’t find me on the sofa binge watching Netflix series, but instead, sitting with my laptop catching up on my mountain of emails and working until the early hours of the morning just to stay on top of things. But at New Year I resolved to take a relaxing bath once a week to settle myself before a good night’s sleep

Thus far, the gorgeously luxurious YON-KA Paris has been helping me find my inner feng-shui…
In keeping with my New Year’s resolution I have been using the Phyto-Bain Bath Oil, a highly aromatic bath treatment with plant extracts and essential oils known for their multiple therapeutic virtues.  I added 1 tablespoon to my bath which was more than enough and was quickly enveloped in a relaxed bubble of tranquil bliss! Perfect for relieving tired legs and restoring full vitality, this would be great after a long, busy day or equally as good when you simply need a little down time.

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If you really want to take your experience to the next level invest in the YON-KA Limited Edition Aromatic Candle which allows you to bring the spa home with three delicious scents – Cedar, Quintessence and Orange Blossom, you can also take one travelling with you to make a home away from home. 

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Synonymous with luxury, YON-KA is the go to brand in many top salons and, once you try the products, it is easy to see why it is one of my faves.  The family-owned brand was established in 1954 and combines nature, science and wellness to create products that are simply irresistible. I have previously used (and reviewed their lotions and the hero-product which is the Micellar Cleansing Water. It removes all traces of makeup effortlessly without the need for any pressure scrubbing! (Perfect if you’re like me and don’t always have the time to spend on your skincare routine.) The anti-aging formula also has a lovely fresh scent and leaves skin super-soft and totally refreshed. If you suffer from oily skin, they also have Crème PG, a mattifying moisturiser which purifies the skin whilst eliminating shine – it also smells divine and makes a great base for your makeup!

But lemme get back to this bath…  I can almost feel my inner chakras balancing out…

Nightie night!

 

FACE | STOP THE CLOCK! TIME'S UP

If you are anything like me, then you successfully danced, drank and ate your way through the first part of January like Christmas never ended and now find yourself paying for over-indulging with a tired, lacklustre complexion – which was most definitely not on my agenda for 2018, but what’s a gal to do?!

I think we can all agree that in general, the whole Christmas-New Year period wreaks havoc with our skin - between late nights, cold weather, alcohol and way too much sugar. (Leftover mince pie, anyone?) So, now that the festivities are very firmly behind us, it is time to wave goodbye to the excesses of 2017 and give our skin (and ourselves) the TLC we need. So it’s out with the old and in with the new; and the newest product to be added to my collection is the ABC Vitamin solution from the Time Bomb range which I have been trying this month.

As we age our skin starts to lose its ability to absorb key, health-sustaining vitamins, so in order to combat this problem, Time Bomb has created a serum which works while you sleep to deliver an infusion of vital nutrients full of concentrated age-delayers to keep your complexion smooth, tight and bright – just what my dehydrated skin is looking for.
It’s kinda like a grown up version of the tooth fairy, except this fairy doesn’t take our teeth -  and instead of money delivers us youthful, brighter skin while we sleep, so I definitely approve!

After cleansing and toning as normal before bed I applied this to my skin and instantly noticed how light it was, a little goes a long way so you don’t need much. In fact, one press of the pump is enough to cover your whole face. Admittedly, I am not a big fan of heavy serums, especially at night time as I feel it can leave my skin feeling sticky and heavy, so the consistency of this was perfect for me.

It was easily absorbed and instantly my skin felt super- smooth to touch. I then applied my night cream as advised and went straight to the land of nod. In the morning my skin felt tighter and after continued use I noticed a very welcomed glow had begun to reappear on my skin.

I have been using this for a few weeks now and I must say, so far, so good. The super-hydrating formula has replaced my dull, wintery complexion with a lovely bright glow and my skin is definitely smoother. I have tried many serums and for me, this compares well to more expensive products out there. Looking at the ingredients list scared me at first as it looked so chemical, but many of these are actually chemical names for the good stuff. It is packed with ingredients including; Vitamin A, which reduces fine lines and wrinkles; Vitamin B3 and B12 which boost cells and improve tone and circulation; Vitamin C to brighten skin; Bakuchioi which is a Japanese herb that mimics retinoid but is kinder to skin;  Squalane which renews skin suppleness; and finally, Hyaluronic Acid which is a natural moisture magnet to plump and firm skin texture – now that is what I call the perfect blend of skin goodness!  

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Ingredients

AQUA (WATER), GLYCERIN, CETYL ETHYLHEXANOATE, PROPANEVIOL, GLYCERETH-26, CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE, PROPYHEPTYL CAPRYLATE, SQUALANE. CETEARYL ALCOHOL, HELIANTHUS ANNUS (SUNFLOWER) SEED OIL, MAGNESIUM ACORBYL PHOSPAHE (VITAMIN C), RETINOL (VIATMIN A), CYANOCOBALAMIN (VITAMIN B12), BAKUCHIOL, CAMELLIA JAPONICA (TEA) SEED OIL, NIACINAMIDE (VITAMIN B3), PHOSPHOLIPIDS, SODIUM HYALURONATE, POLYGLYCERYL-10 STEARATE, PHENOXYETHANOL, PEG-40 HYDROGENTATED CASTOR OIL, HYDROGENTATED POLYISOBUTENE, ETHYHEXYLGLYCERIN, PPG-26-BUTETH-26, HYDROLYZED CORN STARCH, CITRUS GRANDIS (GRAPHEFRUIT) EXTRACT, CETEARETH-20, ZEA MAYS CORN STARCT, XANTHUM GUM, SODIUM ACRYLATES COPOLYMER, LURAYL LAURATE, POLYSORBATE-20, PPG-3 BENZYL ETHER MYRISTATE, BHT, POTASSIUM SORBATE, SILICA, PEI-10, BHA, SODIUM BENZOATE, DISODIUM EDTA, DMDM HYDANTOIN, TOCOPHEROL (VITAMIN E), BUTYLENE GLYCOL, IODOPROPYNYL BUTYLCARBAMATE, CITRIC ACID.

#FACE | GETTING RADIANT AT RADIANCE

LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE: RADIANCE FACIAL REVIEW

Regular readers of my beauty columns and blogs will know how much I preach good skincare from within as a first step – drinking plenty of water and eating a heavily plant-based diet come first and foremost for me; but we’re all human and we can all fall off the healthy wagon even with the best intentions. In fact, the month of November has pretty much been a constant water catch-up with a diet of the richest, heaviest food so far for me, so any help I can get is appreciated.

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With this ‘help’ in mind I took a trip to Radiance Day Spa on the Upper Lisburn Road. The salon, which is owned by Beauty Power House Christine Mackin, recently re-launched with a fresh interior design and a brand new skincare range designed by Christine in conjunction with some of the best cosmetic chemists and biologists around.  The range, also called Radiance, is a targeted, results-driven capsule collection of products which uses clinically proven, highly-active ingredients to target different skin concerns and I was relishing my treatment a fortnight before I got it. 

My appointment began with a consultation where I was talked through the process and I voiced any concerns I had skin-wise. My facial goals are always the same – keep the hydration high and the lacklustre look low. But this time I also asked for a bit of extraction on the clogged pores on my nose. More on that later…

Using a machine, my skin was then scanned using black UV light  before my lovely therapist produced some (slightly scary) images of my face showing areas of dehydration, enlarged pores, hyperpigmentation and sun damage. To my delight, I am not as wrinkly as I had feared (yay) and my skin is generally in quite good condition (double yay). Using this analysis she then picked some products that were targeted specifically to my own skin’s needs.

I then snuggled under a blanket and once I was comfortable (I was so comfortable throughout the treatment I almost feel asleep…twice!) we began the treatment, using  the Radiance cleanse product - a soothing, natural daily cleanser which removes any traces of make up. This luxurious gloop of goodness removes toxins from the skin and prepares the skin for treatment. I then had a glycolic wash to gently exfoliate the skin and remove any dead skin cells, encouraging cell replenishment (aka new, fresh skin). Even though I am lucky to have been blessed with my mother’s good skin genes, the wear and tear of daily living is unavoidable so anything that promises anti-ageing has my attention!

After the blackheads and clogged pores on the end of my nose were cleared with a good old squeeze to extract dirt and sebaceous build-up (ouch – but totally worth it – I could not believe the difference) it was time for the massage – my favourite part of the facial!

Any parent with young children will agree that just having 10 mins to lie back and relax is amazing, and probably one of the greatest luxuries to (wo)man – albeit a very rare one! (For me, any chance to even sit down usually involves going through 200+ emails or sorting out paper work, so this was total bliss!) Some facialists also say that the movements of the hands in massaging motion are as important as the products used in the treatment, and I can honestly say I am a believer of this when you have the right facialist working on you.

After the massage, I had not one but two serums applied onto my skin to stimulate collagen, soften lines and improve elasticity while increasing hydration and boosting radiance. First up, Professional Strength Vitamin C Serum was rubbed onto my skin; this is packed with antioxidants and protects DNA. Next, a Hyaluronic Acid serum was massaged in. This can hold up to 1000 x its weight in water and works by attracting moisture from the atmosphere and binding it into the skin for a hydrating and anti-ageing effect. Genius, eh?

After the facial my face looked radiant and I upgraded to have a full body massage with the most fantastic masseuse Siubhan – 2 hours later I left the salon feeling very relaxed and happy and was able to meet clients with a glowing and fresh face that afternoon.

That night at home I was sitting on the sofa beside Mr Cathy and, after staring at me for a few moments (he’s not weird, we just like each other!), he finally asked “What happened to your face?”  And, before he finished,  I immediately began worrying that I had taken some sort of reaction to an active facial product (it has happened before and believe me when I say it ain’t pretty), so of course I had a mildly panicked look on my face and started touching my cheeks and forehead to feel for any heat or redness, but he finally finished his sentence smiling and said “you’re glowing”. So I quickly made a mental note to book another appointment at Radiance – and maybe even book in for a double session with yer man in tow.

FACE | WHEN YOU DON'T CARE IF IT'S BALTIC! CRYOLIPOLYSIS

So just over two months ago I ventured to Cinch Clinic in Holywood to try out their new Cryolipolysis treatment on my inner thighs and, in short, I’m happy to say the results are super positive. So if you need to shift a few pesky pounds before Christmas, and are prepared to drink 2-3L of water per day for as long as possible afterwards to help flush out dead fat cells, then read on for more details.

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Most females (and some males) that I know have complained to me about the lumps and bumps they dislike on their bodies. And sometimes, no matter how much exercise you do, you can be left with stubborn pockets of fat on tummies, legs, hips or bums. For me, I seem to have developed extra flesh on my upper and inner thighs in recent years, which I blame entirely on long working hours in front of a computer screen and not being up and about. Sitting is the new smoking, or so they say)… But  despite three sessions of body pump a week, this fat wasn’t shifting, so I thought I would try to eliminate the fat cells through cryolipolysis. Death by fat-freezing, so to speak.

Cryolipolysis is defined by Wikipedia as a medical treatment used to destroy fat cells by freezing. The functional principle is the controlled application of cooling, within the temperature range of approximately −5 °C, for the non-invasive, localised reduction of fat deposits, in order to reshape the contours of the body. The degree of exposure to cooling causes the apoptosis (cell death) of subcutaneous fat tissue, without apparent damage to the overlying skin.

As a medical procedure, cryolipolysis is a nonsurgical alternative to liposuction. The word cryolipolysis (freezing of fat) is a portmanteau word derived from the conflation of cryogenic and lipolysis.

Some readers may already be familiar with the Cinch name via the company’s range of corsets, which have become super popular since they were created around 2 years ago by founders Angela Hunter and Nicola McIlhagger. But whilst I havent tried the corsets, I was keen to sample the fat freezing. 

In advance of the treatment I did some research and learnt that the fat would be freezing for up to 40 minutes and that I could read or answer emails on my phone while the machine worked its magic, but there was a further option to have a Radiofrequency facial while the cryo machine was freezing away, so as the queen of triple tasking, I decided to do just this and try out the clinic’s facial at the same time.

The products used in the facials are from TROPIC Skincare, which were created by a former Apprentice contestant and are now being sold across the UK. I absolutely adore products which are 100% natural and made from fruit, vegetable and plant extracts, so this was a bonus.

Back to the fat freezing though, and when I arrived I was greeted by Kim who immediately put me at ease while she measured up my thigh circumference before the treatment took place. She showed me the machine and explained clearly the science behind what would happen and that I might find the suction bit a little uncomfortable at first, but that I would get used to it (I did).

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To try to explain to you what happens in a simple way, let’s just imagine that you have a rectangular bowl which you place on the surface of the skin over the area to be treated. This bowl has a depth of about 3-4 inches, into which the fatty flesh will then be sucked by the powerful suction mechanism of the machine. The machine also controls temperature of the fat/flesh which is sucked into the vessel and it quite quickly reduces it down to approx -5C . There is a veiled layer of film applied first, to prevent any topical burning from the freezing, and this in itself is pretty chilly (but not uncomfortable) when applied. Once the machine has the flesh in place on both legs (or cheeks, tummy, man boobs or wherever you are having treated), then it’s time to lie back and read or, as I did, have that facial. Radiofrequency facials are claimed to be favoured by Kylie Minogue over Botox - and it is no wonder, my skin truly glowed afterwards, plus the relaxing massage and mask elements of the facial had me falling asleep, despite my inner thighs being frozen beyond freezing point!

 

Once the treatment is complete, and the suction pods removed, the skin is slightly swollen for a (very) short time. (See pictures). Some people can get a slight bruising effect, but I had none of that.

It’s important to note that with cryolipolisis, the results  are not immediate and some patience (and good practice) are required to optimise results. Firstly, clients are advised to drink loads of water to help flush out the fat cells. A healthy, vegetable-filled diet is also recommended - and unfortunately I was going straight into the month of fashion week, where cooking and prepping food falls down my agenda and I reach for fast and easy options - often unhealthy ones. But on the whole I ate well and drank almost my 2L per day.

In Cryolipolysis,  body fat is reduced without damaging other tissues. The fat cells enter the liver through the lymphatic system, and are decomposed and leave the body via the urinary tract (so darker urine is a side effect for a few weeks unless you’re drinking loads of water to help flush everything out). It was after about 6-8 weeks - i.e. just a week or so ago - when I noticed the difference. And that is when I went back in to have the Cavitation element to the treatment.

Cavitation is a type of ultrasound treatment that has proven to be one of the most effective treatments in reducing cellulite and local fat loss to date. Low-frequency ultrasounds reduce fat depleting fat cells under the skin. A single session can remove up to 1 to 1.5 cm in body contour and six to twelve sessions in localised areas may remove up to 12 cm.

Combining Cryolipolysis and Cavitation like I did allows for more effective fat-fighting as well as skin firming and body sculpting. The combo comprises the most powerful and comprehensive technology available today for the treatment of cellulite, skin laxity and localised fat available today, although it is important to remember it that can take up to a few weeks to see the results, but I certainly feel Christmas party ready now!

At Cinch, the team specialises in the latest cutting-edge, non-invasive fat loss treatments; Cryolipolysis, Cavitation and Radiofrequency, and the treatments have already proven to be a hit with men and women from across Northern Ireland. I found the treatments to be absolutely brilliant for stubborn pockets of fat in any area of the body; and I saw before and afters of love handles, stomach, back fat, ‘moobs’, bum, arms and thighs. The team can treat up to four body areas at any one time, with no downtime. Prices on request.

To view all treatments and products, visit www.cinchclinic.co.uk

Herald Heritage! Leighton Denny Expert Nails Review

Despite 12+ hours a day typing and countless others at home doing mummy duties and household chores most days, I really do try to keep my nails well-manicured, because often they are the first thing people see after your face and a great manicure can seamlessly pull your look together.

Personally, I am big fan of a gel manicure and try and squeeze in a nail appointment whenever timing allows - however, every couple of months or so I like to give my natural nails some TLC to keep them strong and healthy and so I find myself constantly on the lookout for something that has the same benefits as a gel polish but is kinder to my nails - a polish that is highly pigmented, glossy, chip resistant and lasts longer than a couple of days – not a big ask then, eh?

Like most little girls, my 5 year old daughter loves rummaging in mummy’s beauty cupboard and so after realising that most of mine had relocated to her dressing up box, I decided it was time to stock up on my nail polishes! 

Renowned for its glamorous, high-performance results, Leighton Denny Expert Nails got my attention as soon as I heard they were formulated without the 5 nasties found in most nail polishes (Tosylamide, Camphor, DBP, Toluene and Formaldehyde), therefore making them much kinder to our nails. When a gorgeous parcel arrived in the office one morning with the brand new Heritage range, I was more than ready to see if my beauty wish had finally been answered…

The heritage range (£12 each) comes in 5 rich shades to suit any occasion and the fun names are the perfect nod to our own heritage and customs. First up was the ‘Country Club’, a warm navy blue.

If you follow me on social media you will know that I am a big fan of navy so I was immediately drawn to it. I followed the instructions to “roll (not shake)” the polish between my hands before applying two thin coats to the nail, waiting one minute between each application. However, after one coat the colour was completely opaque, leaving my nail with a gorgeous, glossy finish. There was no need to apply a second layer as I was able to achieve a rich bold colour after just one coat – the formula is literally that good!

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Impressed, I opened the next bottle, ‘Pretty in Plaid’ which is a rich cranberry colour speckled with subtle gold shimmer. This is the type of nail polish that reminds me of the festive season - immediately happy thoughts spring to mind as I look forward to mulled wine by an open fire, cosy catch ups with friends and family and glamorous Christmas parties – this will definitely be a go-to colour throughout the season ahead…

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I tend to opt for nude shades for daily wear and ‘Rural Sunshine’ is definitely a shade I can rely on. I did apply two coats for this shade as the first application was more of a soft sheer pink; however, once I applied the second shade the colour had a rich opaque finish. If you prefer a soft nude shade, then this one is definitely for you, I have since worn it as an everyday colour and every time I wear it I am complimented on the lovely colour.

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The remaining two polishes were, ‘Take Your Wellies’, a fashionable dark brown that reminds me of crisp autumn weather, soft cashmere sweaters and long walks (wearing wellies of course!) and ‘Winter Garden’. This is a bold raspberry pink which I simply adore - I know that this vibrant shade will be well used throughout the season! Again after only one coat my nails were wrapped up in rich colour with a gorgeous glossy finish. 

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Once I had tested all of the colours I removed any remaining nail polish (the colour came off easily using normal nail polish remover and cotton wool) before reapplying ‘Winter Garden’ to see if the colour could keep up with my routine - between carrying bags for school, ballet, swimming (and that’s just V!), using gym equipment (the perfect excuse for nail polish to chip) and working on a keyboard all day – it definitely tests any nail lacquer!

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However, I was pleasantly surprised when my nail colour stayed put all weekend and, even more impressively, the glossy finish didn’t wear off. Unsurprisingly, there were a couple of chips after a few days, but I simply covered this with nail polish and the problem was solved, so it didn’t bother me at all.

Dare I say that I think I have finally found a brand which answers all my beauty questions. And with five striking, rich shades that are sure to complement every occasion this season I know I will be wrapping my nails in the bold colour throughout the months ahead when my nails need a little bit of TLC. 

To get yours visit; https://www.leightondennyexpertnails.com/new-in

Love Cathy xo

HOWE GOOD ARE THESE ORGANIC AND VEGAN PRODUCTS?

As I age, I have become much more aware and better educated about what goes into (and onto) my body and skin. And despite technological advances in skincare, sometimes it is the most simple and natural products which have me most excited. 

I really love local companies and brands emerging too, so I was delighted when Howes Organic and Vegan (created in Belfast) sent me some products to review. Their products are free from artificial fragrances, preservatives and colourants and the founder (Sarah Toner)  is passionate about being 100% cruelty free. The products themselves come in beautiful glass bottles, (recyclable also) which gives an old-style apothecary feeling.  

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The first product I tried from the range was the Conditioning Body Oil - which was Sarah’s original product. It is light but luxurious and sinks into the skin quickly; perfect for busy mums like me. The ingredients include a blend of pure essential oils and you can use it on both wet or dry skin. Personally I love to apply this immediately after a shower on damp skin as it locks in the moisture leaving a super soft feeling.  My favourite part though, is the scent – a delicate mixture of lemongrass blended with organic bergamot and sandalwood – this really does leave my skin smelling fresh and energized. The price point is amazing at £20, asthe product goes a long way. This is definitely one to watch.

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And while my body was getting the Conditioning Body Oil treatment, I spoiled my face with the Revive & Repair Elixir which definitely gives good glow. The elixir is a luxurious blend of Organic Rosehip and Macadamia Nut oil which is the ideal pairing to banish fine lines and perfect skin tone as Macadamia is rich in reparative Vitamin E. Jasmine is another great ingredient as it’s a really calming scent to use before bed and turns your bedroom or bathroom into a relaxing spa.

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With the oil nature of the product, I personally prefer to use it in the evenings, after cleansing my face and just before bed. You only have to use the tiniest amount of the elixir as a little does go a long way with this product too. At £18 for 30ml, it’s a great price as the you only have to use the tiniest amount each time.

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I have been seriously impressed by Howes Organic and Vegan, I love to support local businesses and I am as much of an animal lover as I am a beauty lover, so this ticks a lot of boxes for me. It’s great to see a company which is passionate about its products (and the environment) doing so well. I highly recommend the two products I have tried and I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest - next on my shopping list are the Himalayan Healing Bath Salts. If you would like to get your hands on some of the Howes Organic and Vegan products you can buy them directly from https://www.howesorganicandvegan.com/collections/all or from Framar Heath, Iona in Holywood and Eatwell foods.

#FACE | CLOUD10 BRINGS ME BEAUTY ZEN

Spending 4 weeks of summer on the Vogue Intensive course at Conde Nast meant that my summer passed by in my teen dream whirlwind. It was tough doing my day job at night when the Vogue-ing was done, not to mention squeezing in mummy duties at the same time, but now September is well and truly here and, with Valentina back to school, I am looking forward to stepping into a new season and getting back into a (somewhat) normal routine!

Autumn means burnt colours & crispy leaves; it also brings us the 24th season of FASHIONWEEK (which I am SUPER excited for this year - keep your eyes peeled as our make up partner is the incredible Illamasqua, which I will write about in the coming weeks….)

But for now, let me tell you about a fantastic parcel which arrived one morning this week, after I’d worked past 2AM and woke early, so the drab grey day was the perfect reflection of my sleep-deprived complexion. It was a chic black box, expertly packed from Cloud10beauty.com which was filled with products prescribed almost perfectly for my lacklustre and sleep deprived skin.

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First up was the Pixie Rose Caviar Essence (£26), I was immediately drawn to this product with its luxurious clear gel that is speckled with pink capsules of rose oil (I am told that the rose oil is encapsulated to keep the ingredients fresh). When I tried this product the first thing I noticed was the gorgeous rose scent, which gently tantalises your senses without being overpowering. Now rose is a scent I used to find slightly nauseating, I’ll admit, but it is a mature aroma and one which I have grown to love as I have got older….

The gel formula felt very slightly sticky when first applied, but it quickly melted into a liquid as I worked it into my skin with the rose oil capsules bursting delicately on contact. And even though there is the presence of rose oil in the gel, it did not leave my skin greasy as you might expect, but did leave my skin feeling SUPER hydrated.  My face was noticeably softer immediately after use and the mulberry extract brightened my complexion – quickly diminishing the sleep-deprived dullness on my skin with a little help from the faint pink tint of the rose oil beads - and what is not to love about that?

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The second product was the Rose Flash Balm (£24) and it is AMAZING! This stuff literally perks you up quicker than you can say “pick-me-up”.  Oil-free and packed with antioxidants, the rose balm is perfect for days when skin just needs a little lovin’.  What I also love about this product is that you can use it several different ways – as a moisturiser, a mask or as a primer, so I spent this week trying all three.

First up, I applied it instead of my day cream and I can honestly say that my skin instantly felt moisturised and refreshed - it absorbs immediately which is great as you can apply make up straight away – perfect for busy mums, workaholics or gym bunnies on the run. Admittedly I don’t always prime as my sometimes chaotic morning routine doesn’t leave much time for beauty preparations, but when I had the chance to use it as a primer on an already moisturised face going out last night, I noticed that my makeup remained fixed and lasted longer than usual.

Then later this week I used it in its third capacity, as a mask, leaving it on for more than the recommended 5 minutes (20 for me!)  before a quick damp cloth over the top to gently remove it. Again, my skin appeared brighter and felt silky smooth - and continued to do so up until (and including today) - meaning that even though I was sleep deprived my skin was bearing no real evidence, YAY!

I have started carrying this in my handbag to use as a ‘pick-me-up’ on the go, applying it when my skin needs a little boost - and I have to say it really does work, it has deservedly joined the ranks of my ultimate beauty must-haves – yes, it is that good!

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One extra thing that the Cloud10 beauty ladies sent me to try was the DOSE of colour Lit It Up matte lipstick which comes in a bullet shape with gorgeous rose gold packaging. A nude lip is definitely my signature style, so the hopscotch shade was perfect, but there are 10 fabulously flattering shades to choose from.

I find that a matte lipstick can sometimes be quite heavy and although the finish was more matte than a traditional creamy lipstick, it glided on smoothly and left my lips feeling moisturised. I didn’t try it myself, because I loved the product on its own despite worries about a matte finish, but I imagine a swipe of gloss would enhance the colour and give a glossy look if that was the desired overall effect.

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The unique shape of the lipstick makes it amazingly easy to get a defined edge when you apply so you don’t need lip liner – although I like my lip liner a shade darker to really define the lips so I did apply it, but that is just personal preference.
The colour is perfect for everyday wear and I have been reaching for it all week. Compared to normal lipsticks I found it to be long lasting and when it did wear off it tended to fade rather than become patchy.  I think I will try the Fudge shade next…

Until next time,

Cathy x

Shop the collection now at http://www.cloud10beauty.com/

FACE | EVERYBODY GET NUDE

I love summer – feel-good tunes blare out from the radio, days are longer and the official countdown to our summer holidays begin.
As we finally begin to bring out our summer dresses, we can now bear to bare a little flesh as, thanks to some much-needed sunshine, our skin is starting to lose its pale winter complexion in favour of a new golden glow (personally I’m faking it ‘til I make it with the help of some fake tan!)

I am spending July in London training at Conde Nast (yes, at 43 I am ticking off one of the first things on my bucket list, channelling the mantra - “if you want something go out and grab it” - and so that’s exactly what I did, although admittedly I am a teeny bit nervous…) and as the weather there tends to be a little warmer, combined with the humidity and non-stop hustle and bustle of London life, I began looking for long-lasting, melt-proof makeup which simultaneously endures the heat, protecting against sweat and shine.

So when my fairy godmother (Debenhams) heard my cries and dropped a delectable beauty package at BFW HQ, I decided it was time to turn up the heat and try the range out against the wear and tear of summer…

The package was loaded with Nude by Nature goodies - Australia’s No. 1 mineral makeup brand which has finally arrived on UK shelves thanks to Debenhams.

I am a big advocate of caring for your skin, believing prevention is better than a cure and I am meticulous about removing my make up before sleeping (a valuable lesson ignored my 20-something self, of course) as well as cleansing, toning and moisturising. Although this means I usually have a pretty good canvas to work off, my skin can become dehydrated and lacklustre at times so I like a makeup with buildable coverage and optimum staying power!

I have also become more aware of the things that I put on my skin as I get older, so when I read that the ingredients in the Nude by Nature products are vegan-friendly and 100% natural, including Kakadu Plum, an Australian fruit that is very high in Vitamin C, I was definitely interested.

As I first unwrapped the package I was greeted with products encased in beautiful rose gold packaging – guaranteed to add a little touch of pretty glamour to your makeup bag!

My job often sees me attending events where dinner and drinks are served in abundance and I find these can take a toll on your skin. Therefore, I always try and give my skin time to breathe and recover – going make-up free when I can.
As well as this, like many women out there, my morning routine is definitely not time-friendly between work, my 5 year old daughter, working out and all the other commitments that we have.  
Therefore, because of this, BB cream is one of my absolute beauty must-haves! Personally, I usually find that they can be a bit of a hit or miss, but the Nude by Nature Sheer Glow BB Cream £22 evened out my skin tone and give me a light, natural finish. After using this for a couple of weeks I noticed my skin felt softer and definitely looked more hydrated (apparently this is because of the moisturising Aloe Vera.) It also has an SPF8 giving you a little added protection everyday – yay.

At work, I am usually rushing from one thing to another and this means I rarely have time to touch up my makeup, so I tend to choose a long lasting makeup and I always prime to even out my skin and keep my makeup lasting longer.

The Nude by Nature Perfecting Primer £22 made my makeup stay put all day without any major touch-ups needed. I do suffer from excess oil on my t-zone and this can often cause my makeup to melt away over the course of the day but I must admit, I definitely noticed I didn’t need to touch it up nearly as often when wearing this primer - leaving my inner self rejoicing each time she looked in the mirror and seen the makeup still in place!

Next up was the Nude by Nature Touch of Glow Highlight Stick £18. During the day I would often apply highlighter under my foundation to give my skin a nice dewy look and this highlighter definitely left my skin glowing. It has a cream to powder texture so it was really easy to blend in and it also comes in 3 different shades so there is a look for everyone. My top tip – apply a little highlighter to your lips to give your lipstick an extra touch of glam!

I am a big fan of loose eyeshadows so I was quite excited to try the Nude by Nature Shimmering Sands Loose Eyeshadow £15 and it definitely did not disappoint! The product has an integrated brush applicator which means it is really easy to use and not as messy as other loose shadows I have used in the past. For dinner with the girls I used the eye shadow to create a bright and luminous look which all the girls complimented me on and it lasted all evening which I loved.

Naturally I have long eye lashes, but I always wear mascara to give them some extra definition. The Allure Defining Mascara £16 was really buildable making it perfect for both day and night, without getting that clumpy look that you can get with mascaras when attempting to build coverage.

It separated and lengthened my lashes beautifully and really opened up my eyes, giving them a gorgeous natural finish. The mascara is also enriched with Pro Vitamin B5 which is great for conditioning your lashes over time – perfect if like me, you wear mascara most days.

On the days that I go makeup free or only apply BB cream, I use concealer to cover any small blemishes that I may have that day. The Nude by Nature Perfecting Concealer £20 was great as it covered everything that I wanted it to whilst also fiving my skin a gorgeous glow – you could even wear this without foundation it is that good and I do not say that lightly!

Next up was the Natural Illusion Pressed Eyeshadow £14 which comes in a range of finishes; matte, satin and sheen, I love the matte shades for everyday looks whilst the satin and sheen shades effortlessly take your look into the evening.

To finish my makeup I would usually add a bit of loose powder to really set my look and keep it lasting longer. The Loose Finishing Powder£22 has a translucent finish so I was able to apply it effortlessly and I noticed that I hardly had to touch up all day, perfect when you’re always on the go.

During summer when I am lucky enough to have a bit of a tan I would often add a bit of bronzer to my face to give my skin a nice ‘summer glow’. The Natural Glow Loose Bronzer £18 definitely left my skin looking naturally radiant, it also naturally adapts to your own skin tone which I loved.

As well as Nude by Nature there were also products from Too Faced, including the Brow Quickie Brush-On Brow Fibre Gel £17. I don’t usually do much to my eye brows as part of my daily routine, but this is an area I would like to start working on and so this was my perfect opportunity! This gel mimics real hair, allowing you to place the product exactly where you need it. The product is also buildable making it easy to use. I noticed a big difference in my eyebrows and they definitely looked full and naturally defined – this has definitely become a makeup bag essential for me!

I also tried the Too Faced Born This Way Concealer £20. After a particularly busy night spent working until after 2am and up again at 7am,  I used this creamy little saviour to cover the dark circles under my eyes – attempting to give me the “I’ve just slept 8 hours look”. It has a complete coverage so it is great for hiding any imperfections and it felt luxuriously soft on the skin, making my sleepless night a lot less obvious!

Also in my little bag of goodies was the Too Faced Natural Love Eyeshadow Palette £52.  Eyeliner and eyeshadow are definitely part of my signature look but I have had a bit of a realisation lately with the fact that so many people find eye makeup absolutely terrifying, if you are one of them then this palette is perfect for you.  It is packed with 30 nude and neutral shadows which range from matte to gorgeous shimmery shades that will take your look from day to night. It is a bit on the pricey side but it is definitely worth it (and so are you!). The eyeshadows are amazingly pigmented and are so easy to blend (perfect if you find blending difficult – the trick is to use a soft brush when blending, aiming to blur the lines of each eye shadow colour). It also comes with a small guide which gives you loads of ideas on different looks.

The last product I tried was the Laura Geller Beach Matte Baked Hydrating Bronzer £33, I am a big fan of the Laura Geller products so I did have high expectations of this product and it definitely did not disappoint! I actually wore this on its own when out running some errands and it give my skin a gorgeous subtle glow that looked completely natural. I plan on using this throughout summer to complement my natural tan.

If you’re looking for some summer inspiration then why not give Debenhams a visit – they are killing it with their beauty selection. With my own search finally over and armed with the latest beauty must-haves, I am now definitely ready - London, here I come.

Until next time,

Cathy x

BEAUTY BITCH | QOD BLOW OUT AT MONET HAIR

One thing you’ll rarely hear me complain about is summer. It is my favourite season – fruit is ripe and flowers are blooming, everything seems brighter, fresher, happier even. And that’s just nature!

But summer can wreak havoc with hair. In summer we all want our hair to be glossy and lustrous, but the truth is, summer sunshine combined with humidity, salty sea-water and chlorine-filled pool water (if we are lucky enough to get away) can often leave hair dry, frizzy and brittle. Or just fuzzy and unruly in the case of humidity.  I have A LOT of hair. It’s long and there is lots of it. It’s not coarse, but I am toldby hairdressers that it is very porous, so I tend to look like Julia Roberts circa 1980 instead of the coveted super sleek hair of Jennifer Anniston when it’s left untended. (Although we could all look like that if we were surrounded by hair & beauty teams 24/7…maybe?!)

Step forward Monet Hair - a new salon opened on Belfast’s style mile, the Lisburn Road – whose team invited me in to try the celebrity favourite, QOD 16 week blow dry treatment – an organic luxury hair treatment that “eliminates frizz, rejuvenates and straightens all hair types”. This is like manna from heaven for the girl who washes her hair only twice a week because it’s such a chore to wash, condition and dry/style it. (A 45minute chore at least.) And in fact, I rarely wash it at all – one of my big indulgences is to get a blow dry at least once a week, that’s how bad it is, so of course I jumped at the chance to review QOD.  


My once/twice-weekly blow dry allows me to bring my laptop and work away in peace as I attempt to get through my never-ending to-do list. Next week I am off to London for a month and I definitely don’t fancy paying London blow-dry prices, so a treatment that promises to give me smooth and sleek hair with little work is definitely something that every girl dreams of!

Patrick Mone, owner of Monet Hair greeted me as I entered the salon. The dark green and lavish black interiors create a luxurious feeling and expert-favourite brands, including Label M and Kerastase line the walls. Make up guru Paddy McGurgan has also opened his first concession in the salon (my go-to place whenever I need glammed up - the staff always have me looking & feeling a million dollars) and with salon staff including Jade Martin, a Wella graduate and David Jenkins, Toni & Guy trained with over 15 years’ experience in the industry – I knew I was in expert hands.


My stylist for QOD was David, who told me that this is the perfect treatment if your hair is naturally curly or tends to get quite frizzy. It is also great if, like mine, your hair is very long and therefore takes a long time to wash, dry and style. Between prepping for meetings/doing the school run/making lunches/gymming or the 101 other things that suddenly ALL need to be done before 9 am, it is safe to say most of us don’t have the luxury of time to spend styling our hair. David talked me through how the treatment works explaining that it includes keratin and amino acids, this injection of protein can help repair hair, making damaged hair look and feel healthier. The innovative formula also makes hair easier to manage on a daily basis and encourages hair growth; if that is an area you struggle with.
                             
Once David took a closer look at my hair type and length and the treatment was fully explained to me with all my questions answered (yes the treatment really can make your hair more manageable after a home blow-dry, yes, even after a particularly grueling body pump class) I was reassured and the treatment began.

First up, a deep cleansing shampoo was applied to my hair before being blow-dried until about 80% of the water was removed.

My hair was then parted into sections and a thin layer of the QOD Max Silver was applied all over and left for around 20-30 minutes, allowing me to catch up on some work. David explained to me that this time varies depending on hair thickness/condition. My hair was then rinsed, blow-dried and split into sections before each section was straightened over a very specific ten times to ensure the best results possible. The straightening irons ‘lock in’ the products and ensure they get to work for long-lasting results.

Immediately my hair was noticeably softer, glossier and certainly looked healthier.  Even the colour looked brighter and just, well, NICER! The pre-treatment frizz was gone and my hair no longer looked or felt dry and brittle. David waved me goodbye with a strict warning not to get my hair wet for up to 24 hours after the treatment, I also had to wear my hair down during this time – apparently, tight bobbles or clips can create kinks and can stop the treatment from working. It is advised to wash hair between 24-48 hours after treatment, with 48 hours being the limit – and a sulphate-free shampoo is advised.

There is also no need to worry about any nasty chemicals ruining your hair as QOD is focused on minimising any levels of potent chemicals in their products while still maintaining and improving the long-lasting conditioning effect on your hair – yay!

I am over the moon with the results and can’t wait to see how much easier it makes my hair routine over the next few months. I will be following up my treatment with the QOD Silver shampoo and conditioner as I am told that this helps the treatment last longer.

Monet Hair is the exclusive provider of this treatment in Belfast and I will definitely be returning. I can honestly say, two weeks on, that the treatment has made home blow drying much, much easier! Ta-daaaaah!

For reservations

Monet Hair salon 02890682828
www.monethair.co.uk

Price starts at £140 and may vary depending on hair type, length and colour/treatment history. 

Love, Cathy x

LASHING OUT AND TALKING TIPS WITH KISS

On one of the hottest days of the year, we arrived at one of my favourite establishments in Belfast – the rooftop bar at the stunning Merchant Hotel for the ‘KISS - Bring the Salon Home’ Summer Party and was immediately transported to a lash & nail beauty paradise!

Upon entering I was given a gorgeous cocktail and took a seat as Paddy McGurgan - make-up artist  extraordinaire and founder of the Makeup Pro Store in Belfast (my go-to place if I ever need to get glammed up – the artists are magical and always leave me looking uh-mazing!) - gave me a lash-over.

The latest in lash innovation, this product delivers the unrivalled beauty of a mink lash – they are plush, voluminous, soft and lustrous, but do not use mink. Instead they combine human and synthetic hair to create a naturally shiny, feather light strip.

Unfortunately, although my lashes are naturally long-ish, they’re quite fair at the ends and in any case, they would never be long enough to compete with false lashes which give me the definition I desire.  I must admit I was really impressed with these and will definitely be purchasing again. There were piles to choose from; I opted for a natural but oh-so-fabulous strip to give my tired eyes a little wake-up call! When applied they felt weightless, comfortable and looked completely natural (they also got me lots of compliments, which is always a good sign!).  I am also told that they can be reused up to 10 times making it a very inexpensive investment!

Next up, it was mani time! Again the choice was endless and after much deliberation, I chose a matte navy shade. The girl applying the nails told me that these were called ‘imPRESS and go’ and that they require no glue – you literally peel off the adhesive, press them on and go with no glue & no drying time.

This works by a super-hold, dual-layer adhesive. Basically the top layer is designed for optimal adhesion to the hard service of the artificial nail and the bottom layer is designed for optimal adhesive to the natural nail and is made with a softer, flexible gel adhesive that fits into the ridges and imperfections of your natural nail. I must admit I was wary at first and immediately doubted their security and ability, however I was soon proven wrong - realising their staying power after a wardrobe-clean up did not budge them - which definitely says something!  Over-using products and not removing gel nails properly has left my nails on the weak side and so this product is the perfect solution, they cause no damage, are easily applied and have a lovely natural finish. Each set includes 30 nails and comes with a mini file and prep pad! At only £7.99 I will definitely be stocking up before I move to London for July - a salon-worthy manicure in minutes – what’s not to love?

Visit www.KISSeurope.uk for more information

KISS products are available at Superdrug stores nationwide (the imPRESS and go nails will be available from 26th July)

FIFI MANDIRAC DESIGNS FOR YON-KA

Regular readers of my beauty columns and blogs will know that I am a big YON-KA fan, but so, it seems, are millions of others around the world, because I recently learnt that one bottle of the iconic Lotion Yon-ka is sold somewhere in the world every 3 minutes! Maybe it’s because it’s more than just a toner, it is a true phyto-aromatic fountain of beauty, essential for rebalancing and preparing skin for everyday beauty products. This vivifying mist refreshes, tones and purifies the skin and contains the Quintessence Yon-Ka, the DNA of the brand - an exclusive and treasured formula combining 5 essential oils with extraordinary synergetic properties (consisting of lavender, geranium, rosemary, cypress, thyme).

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This summer, Yon-Ka has collaborated with Fifi Mandirac, a French designer full of life, for the limited edition of its LOTION-YON-KA, €33.00|£28.00. Trained graphic designer, she is renowned for her joyful and delicate illustrations for books, materials, posters and stationary. Her retro creations are bold, and their light ,colourful touches perfectly reflect a contemporary aesthetic. Fifi is a master at identifying trends and making them reflect her personal sense of style.

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Yon-Ka’s commitment

And whilst we’re enjoying the pretty aesthetic on the exterior of the packaging, it’s important to nod to the brand for its environmental activity too. Yon-Ka owes everything to nature, and the plant world in particular, so, in 2014, the brand chose to celebrate its 60th anniversary and 60 years of shared complicity with the plant world in its own way by reasserting its environmental commitment via the safeguarding of bees through its support of the association «Un toit pour les abeilles» (A roof for our bees). Beehives were set up across Provence, creating a home for over 400,000 bees! And not only that, for every bottle of Yon-Ka purchased, the company also donates €1 to the association. I think somewhere in the distance I hear the gentle buzz ofhappy bees and the aroma of a very sweet nectar.

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