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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BEAUTY BITCH SHINES A BEAUTY SPOTLIGHT!

HOUSE OF FRASER THROWS A SPOTLIGHT ON BEAUTY

House of Fraser is a one-stop-shop for everything for so many people, so when I heard that they were launching Beauty Spotlight – a revolutionary in-store beauty concept that aims to shine a light on the latest innovations in beauty products - I was more than a little excited.

This concept, a first for the group, aims to bring together an expertly curated selection of products chosen by bloggers and industry insiders which will constantly evolve to keep up with the hottest new launches. Commercially, it allows small brands access to the House of Fraser customer base without the massive expense of a concession – and I like that element of giving the small guys a chance.

As a self-confessed beauty addict who loves trying out the latest pioneering brands, this concept of bringing all of the freshest and most innovative products on the market together in one designated counter definitely has all the ingredients for a winning recipe!

With glossy marble-effect countertops and fun floral prints The Beauty Spotlight counter is aesthetically very pleasing. All the products are easily accessible and trying is compulsory! At the launch, I met with experts from each of the brands who were able to talk me through the different products, before giving me a tailored prescription suited to my own beauty needs. All of the consultants were very friendly and welcoming and immediately put me at ease. Their indepth product knowledge was invaluable and I would definitely recommend speaking to the different specialists from each brand in order to get products tailored to your own skin needs.

I tested the celebrity-favourite Glow Tonic (£18) from London brand Pixi skincare which leaves skin looking radiant (great if, like me, getting a full night’s sleep is practically unheard of as it gives you that “I’ve just had 8 hours sleep” look!). Also, all of the Pixie skincare products have beneficial plant-based ingredients meaning you can apply them guilt-free knowing you are adding nothing but gooey goodness to your skin!

I also tried the Hyaluronic Acid (£6) from The Ordinary – a Deciem brand. In summer my skin can often become dehydrated, so Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is the perfect anecdote, giving skin multi-depth hydration with visible plumping.  The Ordinary also do a 100% organic cold-pressed rose hip seed oil (£9) which smells absolutely divine and is definitely on my wish-list!

Zach from Colour Wow (a hair care line created specifically for coloured hair by beauty innovator Gail Federici, acclaimed hairdresser John Frieda and their team of professional experts) was on hand to style hair and showed me three innovative bionic leave-in tonics (£22) that treat problems associated with colour-treated hair; dryness, breakage and thinning. I was already a fan of WOW having used their powder root touch up products, but the new tonics were fantastic!

There were also award-winning face masks from Nugg (from £3.50) that come in a handy portion-sized pod with each mask targeting different skin care needs (They also do a 100% natural and vegan lip mask leaving lips soft and kissable!) I bought a fab new amazeballs NARS glitter eye shadow/liner and the best metallic shimmer product ever in the form ofthe ICONIC metallic illuminator - both of which I used in Ibiza that night (yes, I flew out right after the launch afternoon). Actually I use the ICONIC almost every time I put on make up and drop a droplet of it into my foundation every time. I have just found out that it is limited edition too, so I have made a note to stock up while I can!

Besides the brands I’ve mentioned, Beauty Spotlight counter customers will also be able to stock up on must-haves from Stila, all the Deciem family brands as well as beauty-staples such as Tangle Teezers, Spectrum brushes, Invisibobbles and Eyelure false eyelashes. In short, Beauty Spotlight is the ultimate destination for shoppers who are looking for the latest in make-up, hair and beauty, I left feeling that that this is exactly what beauty lovers have been waiting for.

And of course, after browsing the various items on offer I left with my bag a little heavier and my purse a little lighter. Standard.

Love Cathy x

*As well as the fab in store counter in Belfast, all of the Beauty Spotlight items are also available at www.houseoffraser.co.uk  meaning you can easily order your favourite items online if you cant get to the store.

THE FESTIVAL EDIT

Festival season is officially here! As I get ready to hit Belsonic I have picked my festival must-haves. From vivid prints with metallic trainers, straw bags with maxi-dresses and accessories to die for (think mirrored sunglasses, body art, tassel earings and floppy fedoras!) I have it covered…

ANORAKS

A cool lightweight anorak is an absolute must-have – here is my pick of the best…

Bring metallic designs into your everyday wardrobe this season with this anorak. Finish the look with a bodysuit and denim shorts.

With slogans taking over the fashion world, this distressed oversized denim jacket is a must have! Turn your casual vibes up a notch with this statement piece or wear in the evening with a slip dress and diamante choker, love! 

This suede jacket with the tassel detail and soft pink colour is definitely on my festival wish list!

Score a wardrobe win this need-right-now metallic jacket! Wear with your favourite outfit to finish off your look.

Stand out in this colourful, embellished denim jacket that will add the edge to any outfit.

With the unpredictable GB weather you’ll be hoping rain does fall with this gorgeous gold rain jacket.

SHOES/BOOTS

You’ll be doing a whole lotta walking and those masses can leave the ground pretty muddy. One of my ultimate festival rules is good footwear (that still looks great obvs)

You can dance all night long in these cool, yet comfortable silver glitter trainers.

We love the RIRI Puma x Fenty collaboration – slip into this comfy pink bow slippers when the sun comes out.

Because you never know what the NI weather will decide to do- be functional and fashionable in these glitter lace-up wellies.

Hunter wellies are THE must-have festival item. If one thing to be sure of at a festival its to expect a sea of Hunter wellies. Comfy, practical and fashionable – what’s not to love?

JUMPSUITS

I love this long jumpsuit with the halter-style neck and gorgeous leaf print, wear with trainers during the day and add a pair of wedges to take your look into the evening.

PLAYSUITS

Cute, chic and requiring little effort – playsuits are great for festival styling…

This playsuit is bang on trend with the paisley print, kimono style and plunging neckline. Add a choker and some necklaces to complete your look.

SHORTS/TROUSERS

High-waisted, denim, printed, short, long – shorts are IN and with so many styles to choose from we have picked our faves…

How cute are these high-waisted shorts with the frill bottom?! And  check out that print – these will definitely have you ticking all the style boxes.

We can’t get enough of these fancy cropped trousers with a fun frill finish. Team with a crop top for some laid-back festival attitude!

PrettyLittleThing Neon Tassel Romper £35.00

PrettyLittleThing Neon Tassel Romper£35.00

This neon tassle dress just screams festival! Stand out from the crowd in this gorgeous piexe from Pretty Little Thing @ Asos.

Keep it cool & casual with this t-shirt style dress covered in graffiti.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Or, more importantly, when life offers you a lemon dress, make sure you bag it. This lemon print maxi dress is perfect for easy breezy festival evenings. The low V neck is flattering for a larger bust too, whilst the splits ensure you have some movement. Throw on some sandals (or trainers in our case) and the only accessory you’ll need is a cocktail

We’re totally crushin' on crochet right now and this open stitch mini dress is wardrobe win. featuring a supported bardot style, short sleeves and fresh white hue.

TOPS

From tassels to crochet and everything in between create style envy with these top picks…

Totally lovin’ this loose-fit blouse with the long full sleeves, finished perfectly with some tassels and cute embroidery!

Crop crochet top – do I even need to say anymore?!

SUNGLASSES

We adore these fun heart-shaped tinted glasses! Perfect for adding a little ‘pop’ to your festival look…

Round sunglasses with colourful frame and super stylish mirror lenses oh and just when we thought they couldn’t get better they have 100% UV protection. #winning

ACCESSORIES

Channel your inner hippy goddess with this girly floral headband

This bohemian style feather crown headband with embellished detailing and pompoms is definitely on our festival wishlist!

A fun, new take on the typical headbands often spotted at festivals.

This gorgeous silver bohemian style layered necklace will finish any outfit (we will be wearing ours with the paisley kimono playsuit in this article)

We are totally diggin’ these art deco earrings.

Thank you Topshop – this feather collar is the ultimate festival accessory!

Steal the show with this incredible floral crown from Rock’N’Rose available on Not on the High Street

Luxurious cotton tassels hanging from gold plated filigree earrings – we love.

This year it’s all about the boho and this necklace has been inspired by the magic of Mexico! This stunning Aztec Necklace will look amazing worn on its own or layered up with other necklaces for a totally on trend look.

Sleep in style with this printed tent by Not on the High Street.
The tent comes with a 5w solar panel, lithium solar storage bank and mobile phone/usb charging adaptors!

Don’t miss a shot with this instant Fuji camera in light pink.

This small portable phone charger is the perfect size to fit in your bag and bring along with you this festival season so you don’t miss any photo opportunities.

Stay hydrated in the sun with this funky watermelon water bottle.

Toasting marshmallows just got boozy! This marshmallow toasting kit includes two bags of alcoholic gourmet marshmallow, one non-toxic gel burner and eight bamboo skewers.

Wading through mud, partying in the rain sleeping in wet clothes are a rite of passage for any festival goer. This will help them out!

Music festivals are great fun but even the tiniest of luxuries go a long wan when you haven't changed your clothes, had a wash, eaten warm food or managed to find your tent for three days.

This kit has exacly what any festival goer needs to make their weekend unfortgettable for all the right reasons.

A poncho to keep them warm, a toothbrush and toothpaste to keep them fresh, ear plugs to help them sleep and a multitool so they can open their cold can of beans.

BAGS

To carry all those festival necessities in style…

Hassel-free, stylish and room for all those beauty must-haves – it gets our vote!

This picnic blanket is round and features a quirky and fun parrot design. It has a buckle to ensure it can always be stored compactly.

This cosmetic bag is the perfect accessory for your glamping or festival experience.

We can’t get enough of the tropical print of this backpack.

Love love love! Packed with everything you need - this little survival kit is essential for anyone attending a festival this year. 

Finish your look with this straw bag with brown leather strap

Dance the night away without worrying about where your bag is with this super cute bumbag!

We know you love a pretty print as much as we do, and we think you'll love this camera bag too. Big enough to fit your essential edit of things, it's perfect for adding a pop of print to your outfit.  And with an adjustable strap, it looks great as a shoulder bag or worn cross body to stay hands-free on the go.

BEAUTY

Get festival ready with these must-have beauty items…

You never know what the weather will be like – keep your mascara at bay with this Dior waterproof mascara. Go for blue to give your look an electric edge

When you’re our all day you want lasting power and here it is – apply this to your face before applying foundation to make it stay put all day long.

Apply to the cheekbones or all over the face to give an enviable glow.

All that glitters…These glitter eye liners are perfect for creating the ultimate festival look.

This lipstick in firey orange will add a welcome splash of colour to your lips this festival season. It has fantastic staying power too!

Take your festival makeup to the next level with these 3D floral face decorations.

Make your eyes dazzle with these sequin lashes available from Not on the High Street.

NicLove's cosmetic glitters are an essential product for all makeup bags. These glitters can be worn any day of the week, as an eye shadow, highlighter or perfect for a night out.

These metallic tattoos are inspired by henna and include; bracelets, nail/finger tip and mid finger tattoos.

STYLIST

Check out this ultimate style guide showing you how to wear this festival season’s latest trends.

Grey lyocell dress, £24.99, H&M (hm.com); MAC lipstick in Velvet Teddy, £15.50 (maccosmetics.co.uk); suede biker jacket, £185, Topshop (topshop.com); oversized crystal hoop earrings, Claire’s (claires.co.uk)

Lace top, £29.99, Zara (zara.com); faux leather A-line skirt, £15, Boohoo (boohoo.com); silver bum bag, £11.99, Spiral (spiraluk.com); Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish eye shadow in Comex Platinum, £33.50 (stila.co.uk

Embroidered bralet, £32, Topshop (topshop.com); gold leaf hoop earrings, £6, Asos (asos.com); check trousers, £35.99, Mango (mango.com); Daniel Sandler Luxury Matte Lipstick in Marilyn, £13.25 (escentual.com).

Bomber jacket, £48, River Island (riverisland.com); Rock’n’khol liquid eye pencil in Bedroom Black, £19, Charlotte Tilbury (selfridges.com); blue off-the-shoulder dress, £65, & Other Stories (stories.com); green cat-eye sunglasses, £19.99, Mango (mango.com); Glam Lipgloss in High Society, £7, Nyx (boots.com). 

FACE | CANT GET ENOUGH… OF BEAUTY BY CLAIRE DUFF!

Environ Hydroboost Facial at Claire Duff Beauty, Dunmurry

At this time of the year, the changing weather can often leave skin dehydrated with the lacklustre reflection of winter seemingly impaled onto our skin. The current weather, combined with pollution, daily stress and everyday activitiesmeans everyone’s skin could do with a little TLC right about now!

Admittedly, I am very lucky to have been blessed with great genes, however as I grow older I have noticed quite a few wrinkles creeping up and, between juggling daily life, full-time work and an energetic 5 year old I was delighted to try the much-reputed Environ Hydroboost facial at Claire Duff Beauty in Dunmurry.

Formulated by Dr Des Fernandes, the world-renowned plastic surgeon, this intensive treatment already has an army of fans including Elle McPherson and Sadie Frost, and is said to be the perfect antidote to dehydrated skin – so it’s exactly what I need. It is a deeply intensive facial that hydrates the skin whilst plumping and firming – and I was more than a little excited for some much-needed ‘Me-Time’. 

Here is my step-by-step

The facial begins with a luxurious pre-cleanse oil before a clay masque is gently massaged into skin. On my visit, Claire then applied a lavishly smooth cleansing formula (giving me two cleanses for the ultimate skin rejuvenation!), before toning using the mild alpha toner, which is available in salon only.


Next, a hydrating serum is applied all over the face. Then, a ceramic wand is glided over the skin, using ultrasound waves to help the hydrating serum penetrate 4000 times deeper into the skin, than by application by hand.

The treatment contains a high percentage of Vitamin A which promotes the production of healthy collagen and elastin – helping to improve the appearance of fine lines as well as lightening pigmentation and improving skin tone. The whole range of Environ Skin Care is packed with powerful antioxidants that protect and nourish skin and after a skin consultation, Claire tailored the products to my own skin type.

FullSizeRender (13).jpg

Next Claire applied the nutrient-rich alginate mask onto my skin, – including covering eyes and mouth – which is a very strange sensation and one that doesn’t seem to suit everyone apparently as only small holes for the nostrils are left for breathing. Ultrasound probes are then attached to the edges which gently pulsed electrical currents through the mask. These gentle currents are impalpable and really help to restore skin by penetrating the layers of skin much more effectively than a topical cream.

Ten minutes later when Claire peeled off the mask I couldn’t believe it when I saw my reflection, the mask had certainly worked its magic and the fine lines around my eyes and mouth were massively reduced. My skin was glowing, plumped and soft and I felt like I was looking at myself 5 years ago – and I do not say that lightly! Claire then applied some eye gel and moisturiser before finished with Environ Sun Care RAD - a revolutionary SPF15 antioxidant sunscreen which protects from both UVA and UVB irradiation.

Claire Duff has worked in a variety of popular spa and salon environments before launching her own small salon in 2015 after 10 years in the business. It is easy to see why her clients continue to come back time and time again – I know this will not be my last visit.

I cannot recommend the Environ Hydro Boost treatment enough, 3 weeks later and my skin still has a youthful glow and is officially ready to step into summer!

Love Cathy x

For Reservations:

Claire Duff Beauty 028 9543 7171

FACE | GLOW UP!

I am sure many of you will agree that trying to be a healthy, happy, full-time working mummy quite often means something’s gotta give. In my case, sleeping is often virtually non-existent as I juggle deadlines, meetings, email mountains, homework, exercise and good eating along with everything else that life throws my way; and this combination means that often, in the midst of everything else, my skin can get neglected too. Therefore as summer approaches I decided to step up my skin routine and paid four weekly visits to Zest Beauty Clinic for some much needed skin therapy over the last month.

The team at Zest recommended that I try the Dermisonic facial which combines LED light therapy, ION treatment and ultrasonic waves for ultimate skin rejuvenation. It is unique to Zest and I think they may be he only ones in Ireland to have this technology - plus Sarah, my therapist, was great too!

The main element in this treatment is the Dermisonic device which has 5 unique functions and is amazing for increasing collagen production, reducing redness, promoting cell renewal as well as increasing circulation. After a skin consultation, Sarah tailored my treatment to my own skin’s needs using fan-favourite Dermalogica products. She explained that when used in conjunction with products, the Dermisonic device works to penetrate the products deeper into the skin. 

This treatment literally transformed my skin and left me with an amazing lustrous glow that lasted for days! I had several comments on how great my skin looked, and believe me, it really was lustrous!

Here is my step by step guide to the Dermisonic Facial,

Dermalogica Precleanse (£34.35)

 

The treatment started with an oil based pre-cleanser (Dermalogica Precleanse (£34.35) which is used to remove any traces of make-up before an age smart skin resurfacing cleanser was applied. This contains alpha hydroxy acid which helps hydrate and brighten skin.  The dermisonic device was applied firmly against the skin and moved upwards with a relaxing, slow movement as the anti-bacterial LED blue light got to work loosening up any excess oil and impurities for a deeper clean.

Exfoliation came next - my miracle product as it covers everything in one bottle and the multivitamin power exfoliant (Multivitamin power exfoliant (£34.00) used here definitely give my skin an instant boost! The exfoliant was applied to my face and neck and the device gently glided over my skin for 6-8 minutes, drawing out any impurities.

Sarah then applied the Age Smart Complex (£55) which is highly concentrated and rich in vitamin enzymes and proteins stimulating new collagen product and encouraging firmness and elasticity.

A luxurious multivitamin power recovery mask (Multivitamin power recovery mask (35.70) was applied onto the face and neck and the dermisonic device used the anti-aging LED red light to penetrate the nutrient-rich, skincare goodness deeper into the skin.  I lay back and relaxed as the device worked its magic over my face and neck for 16-18 minutes helping to repair and restore any damage.

Using hot mittens, Sarah removed the mask for a lavishly relaxing finish before applying Antioxidant Hyramist, which created an instant firmness as the skin was noticeably lifted and tightened. An eye gel, rich in vitamins A, C & E was applied and as the silicon’s within the gel quickly melted into the skin to diminish fine lines and wrinkles, Sarah applied the Dynamic skin recovery SPF 50 moisturiser. Straight away my skin felt super soft, supple and hydrated. The team at Zest recommend a 6 week course for optimum results, but even after 1 treatment I noticed a big difference with my skin feeling tighter, toned and my fine lines noticeably reduced!

Zest Beauty Clinic has been established for 14 years and, like I said, is the only salon in Ireland who offers the Dermisonic facials. This was my first time trying this treatment and I cannot wait to try it again. For all the ladies (and men!) working long days with tired nights and early mornings – this one is for you! 

The team’s expert knowledge and calm demeanour left me feeling ultimately relaxed and as I confidently walked out with my skin glowing I was already eagerly anticipating my next visit.

To book, call the team at Zest on 028 9062 6555

Cathy xo

Zest Beauty & Tanning Clinic

114 Andersonstown Road, Belfast BT11 9BX

028 9062 6555

www.zestbeautyclinic.com

BEAUTY BITCH | MUM'S THE WORD

Holywood mums can make everything look so easy, but juggling work, kids and not having a glam squad to prep you 24/7, can throw a major wrench in your once pristine skincare routine… I know, I am one of them! In truth, there are mornings I am just about thrown together and barely washed when I get my daughter to school - never mind a beauty routine. Thankfully I am self-employed, so can run to the gym or back home after school drop off to spruce up before I get to my desk or a meeting. So this month, I tapped into a group of busy mummies who I am friends with (our group chat is a movie waiting to happen) and offered them the opportunityto help me review some fab new products which have just become available on www.Cloud10beauty.com - well, it was Mother’s Day after all!

When you get to your 30s (or 40s!) you can become a real self-confessed skincare addict, and I know many of us spend more than we would like to admit on oils that promise to revitalise skin, masks to keep us blemish free and moisturisers which promise to transform skin instantly. As we get older it is no secret that our skin needs that little bit more TLC and, combined with unpredictable weather, air-conditioning, busy lifestyles and everything else daily life throws our way, you could say we need/deserve it.

First up is PAULA’S CHOICE REDNESS RELIEF MINERAL MOISTURIZER (£28.45) which was reviewed by busy mum and double business owner Demelza.

I was excited when I heard that Paula Begone, the leading skincare expert and author had created her own skincare line. Paula has sold over 2.5 million copies of her skincare books and has appeared on the liked of Oprah and Dr Oz to talk all things skin. Using her years of research on skincare she has created a product line using ingredients that are proven to make your skin look younger and appear more radiant, so I had high hopes for her latest range.

Demelza is now well and truly converted, telling me: “After recently being diagnosed with rosacea, which isn't just for old people or heavy drinking males as I had thought, it’s a skin condition that can include stinging sensations, permanent redness and visible blood vessels, I was delighted to be asked to try Paula's Choice Redness relief mineral moisturizer as for months I have been trying lots (and I mean lots!) of different things to make the redness in my pale Irish skin disappear, but to no avail! 

“I don't actually know how much this mineral moisturiser costs but my initial impression of the packaging was that it looked attractive, expensive and contained natural healing ingredients so I couldn't wait to cover my face in it.”

She continued: “The cream itself is cooling and soothing. It’s creamy and white with no green tinge which I was expecting. Once on, it instantly calmed my redness so much so that I didn’t need concealer as well as foundation.

“It does have a distinct smell that I can't put my finger on. It smells organic and earthy - not unpleasant, but I do have other creams that smell so good I wish they were edible! Haven't thought that about this one to be fair, but if it’s doing its job….

“Finally, a big plus for me is it has a SPF30 rating, making it a one-stop option if you’re on the lazier side of beauty regimes like me. I have been using it for over a week now and I am very impressed! The inflamed redness in my skin has definitely reduced.”

The verdict - will Demelza continue to use it? She said a big YES! Will she be buying it? “Most definitely! It protects, calms & moisturises my skin and has enabled me to do the manic morning school run again makeup free without the thoughts running through my head are the other parents wondering... what is going on with her face?!”

So Paula's Choice Redness Relief Mineral Moisturizer is now Demelza's choice!

Next up was another product from the Paula’s Choice range, THE SKIN PERFECTING 2% BHA LIQUID (£27.45). Read Katie’s review below;

“I suffered acne as a teenager and throughout my adult life have been prone to break outs. Now in my thirties these breakouts can appear redder and take longer to heal.  I have been using Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid. I had never heard of the brand before (like most busy mums I guess I just stick to the brands I know and without much thought go back to products that I buy time and time again).

“In just over a week the difference in my skin has been amazing, my pores clearer, skin smoother and any blemishes have cleared up in record time. I would also suffer from blackheads and they are disappearing as never before! It is quick to use – I simply apply the liquid to a cotton pad after cleansing and toning and use it every morning and evening. The BHA (beta hydroxy acid) works by exfoliating your skin and cleaning your pores. 

This product is now part of my daily routine and one of my must-have beauty products.  I would recommend it to anyone with problem skin as the results are really so good!”

Noted on the product : Do not use if you are allergic to aspirin

Alpha-H revolutionised skincare with its innovative products. Judith reviewed the ALPHA-HLIQUID GOLD SMOOTHING AND PERFECTING MASK, (£38.95) a top selling product that is a firm favourite all over the world.

Exfoliators are THE miracle product, they cover everything in one bottle, from making skin more radiant to unclogging pores, preventing breakouts and giving skin an instant boost. Aplha-H Liquid Gold Smoothing and Perfecting Mask contains 15% Glycolic Acid which is great for exfoliation, (Alpha-H pioneered the use of Gylcolic Acids in skincare nearly 20 years ago).

This weekly treatment is designed to give a boost to all skin types, particularly dull looking skin and the fast-acting formula means you see instant results and for busy mums on the go that is something we love to hear!

Judith said: “This is a lovely mask to use as it’s really light on the skin and easy to apply. I left it on for 10 minutes and, unlike other masks I have used, it didn’t harden on my face or feel uncomfortable in any way. It was easy to remove and afterwards my skin felt really smooth and refreshed. There was definitely a glow!

“I am looking forward to using this as part of my weekly skincare routine and hope to see a reduction in redness as a result. I loved the scent of it too and later found out that the luxurious mask is enriched with lavender oil, rose oil, wheatgerm oil, macademia seed oil and pure manuka honey to deeply nourish and hydrate. It works by clarifying, exfoliating and brightening skin, leaving you with a beautiful glowing, refined and balanced texture. This product gets a big thumbs up from me!

“Working deep into the skin, rehydrating it and instantly making skin more radiant, I recommend you get your hands on this product, fast!”  

Last but most definitely not least was PESTLE AND MORTAR PURE HYALURONIC SERUM (£35.95) which was reviewed by Edel;

“As a full-time working mum of a very active 5 year old, the skincare routine of my 20’s has been replaced by a pared down selection of old trusted favourites as I hit my 40’s. With a lack of sleep, central heating, office air conditioning and our current cold weather, I don’t have time for fuss but I do need fast results.

My idea of a hydrating serum is of a silk-like cooling lotion that disappears without a trace leaving my skin feeling comfortable and baby soft; something that banishes in an instant, the tightness, sensitivity and dullness of a hardworking, under-pressure skin. This is what I was promised with the Pestle and Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Serum so, I was like a child on Christmas morning as I opened the simple but apothecary style packaging to find a clear glass bottle with a tear dropper top.

“I dutifully cleansed and toned my skin and applied 2-3 drops and was initially quite pleasantly surprised. My skin felt cool, comfortable and so ridiculously satiny-soft that I couldn’t stop touching it. In short, it felt like a dream.

“A few minutes in however and I just wasn’t loving it quite so much. It was making my skin feel tight. Not to a great extent but enough for me to notice and start to dislike the sensation. Dehydrated skin isn’t necessarily dry, it just needs a boost to feel comfortable but the last thing dehydrated skin needs is to feel tighter.

“Friends and work colleagues remarked that I looked ‘fresher’ but personally, the tightening effect was just too much for me. But then, I used to work on the Clarins counter and didn’t like the Beauty Flash Balm, which most women don’t even notice the effects of on their skin - ‘tightening’ products just aren’t for me I suppose.

“It says on the packaging and on the Pestle and Mortar website that the serum can also be used as a primer under makeup. I tried that option and was much happier. My skin still had the tight feeling although it wasn’t as uncomfortable as when applied under my moisturiser and for a special occasion or a night out it will keep foundation perfectly in place, which is an excellent bonus!

“Verdict: if you have oily to combination skin in need of a little hydration and a touch of firming or want your makeup to stay flawless, then this is for you. If like me, you have dehydrated skin that feels tight and needs a bit of TLC then you’d probably be better off using it under a rich moisturiser.”

So that’s it - my first guest reviewers - now I am wondering if I can christen them my beauty bitches?

As we wave goodbye to the cold(er) weather and step into spring I know I am certainly ready for some much-needed sunshine! (Ok, I know this is NI weather we are talking about, but can’t a gal dream?!)

Catch up next week!

Cathy