The glossiest of boxes. Glossybox for Harvey Nichols

Posted by Lipglossiping On November - 12 - 2014

Over the past 5-years, I’ve made a point of not blogging about beauty boxes – I mean, at one stage, there were so many, who knew where to start?  However, being a bit of a country yokel, the scarce occasions that allow a visit to the big smoke invariably involve a mad dash to Harvey Nichols and Fenwicks… the two department stores that I can’t leave London without trawling.  I love the beauty departments of both, they’re quieter than the colossus that is Selfridges and a little friendlier than Harrods.

It is with this in my mind that my excitement over the latest Glossybox for Harvey Nichols has reached near feverish levels.

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Suavely packaged in white and silver, it has that sophisticatedly-decorated Christmas look going for it.  You know the kind that only people without children can manage to pull off, while the rest of us make our homes look like every Christmas – past, present, and future has done a sick on it.

Anyway, back to the Glossybox because if you thought the outside looked slick, wait until you see what’s inside!

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Booyah!

We’ve got candles and primers and mascaras and polish and… oh my, let me just break it down for you!

  • ~ Laura Mercier Foundation Primer
  • ~ Harvey Nichols Mini Scented Candle
  • ~ Dermalogica Overnight Repair Serum
  • ~ Macadamia Oil
  • ~ Benefit They’re Real Mascara
  • ~ Rodial Bee Venom Moisturiser
  • ~ Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream
  • ~ La Coupe Intensive Hair Repair
  • ~ NARS Mini Satin Lip Pencil
  • ~ Show Beauty – Dry Shampoo
  • ~ OPI Nail Polish in Viking

Box contents may vary slightly depending on your location and postal restrictions but the basic gist is that for just £30+p&p (subscriber price, £35+p&p non-subscriber price), you’ll receive this rather exclusive box packed with goodies that boast a combined value of over £150!

Glossybox for Harvey Nichols will go on sale next Monday, the 17th November but stock is predictably limited, so to maximise your chances of getting your hands on this beauty-lovers wet dream, make sure you pre-register your interest now at glossybox.co.uk.

* press sample

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A deliciously sweet treat from Patisserie de Bain

Posted by Lipglossiping On November - 6 - 2014

If you’re already dreading the office’s annual Secret Santa, something that’s as certain a drudgery as death and taxes, fear no more.  I have a lovely sweet treat that won’t break the bank on the blog today.

I don’t know about you, but for me… bathing takes on an added importance in the winter.  When all is said and done, I’m a morning shower girl but when the temperature plummets, I like nothing more than to end the day by sinking into a hot bath in the name of relaxation.

To aid this little indulgence, Pastisserie de Bain hand-make these beautiful bath tartlettes that fizz with fragrance and release moisturising butters into your bath water.  A blend of cocoa and shea butter swirl together, softening dry skin and leaving your body lightly fragranced with a range of delicious scents.

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The packaging is darling, and in spite of my LUSH addiction, I have to admit that if you’re going down the gift-route… these completely trump those little black paper bags in the presentation stakes.  Their award-winning packaging is eyecatching, fun, and frankly… makes the gift look far more expensive than it was.

Patisserie de Bain offer a wide variety of “flavours” – these ones are called “All the Fun of the Fair” and feature scents that include toffee apple and candy floss.  Other scents in the range include: sweet cherry pie, lemon meringue, cloves and cinnamon, rose and violet.

Available online from www.graftonsbeauty.co.uk and in Rose & Co. stockists nationwide, priced at £7.00

* press sample

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Think Pink. A product roundup for breast cancer awareness month

Posted by Lipglossiping On October - 26 - 2014

It’s pretty hard to avoid the “pinkwash” of products that exist at this time of year, not only across the beauty-sphere… but the whole market in general.  I have nothing against these, provided they set a fair donation to their chosen charities.  More and more nowadays, brands are jumping on the charity bandwagon and it took some time and effort to sift through the products that rolled into my inbox, claiming to be beneficial to the work in the fight against breast cancer when they really only existed to “raise awareness”, oh… ok then.

Here are some of my picks from the “pink” charity-supporting beauty products available this month.  There’s a variety of donation amounts on offer, some more generous than others but I’m including products not only on their generosity value but also on their old-fashioned covetability.  I’ve highlighted a couple of “star buys” (look to the bottom of the list) – kudos to those brands that have no capped figure or who are donating more than 15% of the product’s RRP.

If you’re making a purchase anyway, by all means… jump on ‘em before they’re sold out!  If not, consider popping your donation directly to one of the many charities available.  Either way, we all get to feel good about it, right?!

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01: Clinique Pink with a Purpose Lipstick Set (£17) – £2 from this purchase will be donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. link

02: Elemis Limited Edition Pink Pro-Collagen Marine Cream 100ml (£99) – Elemis pledges to donate £10,000 to the charity, Breast Cancer Care. link

03: Aromatherapy Associates Inner Strength Candle (£35) – 10% of proceeds will be donated to the charity, Defence Against Cancer. link

04: GHD V Coral Professional Styler (£129) – £10 will be donated to Breakthrough Breast Cancer for every styler sold. link

05: Stila Breast Cancer Awareness Cheek Palette “Positively Pink” (£12) – a portion of proceeds from each sale will go to Cancer Research UK. link

06: STAR BUY (20%) Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II with Pink Ribbon Keychain (£69) - 20% of the suggested retail price will be donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. link

07: STAR BUY (16.6%) Bobbi Brown Pretty Pink Ribbon Lip Gloss Collection (£30) – Bobbi Brown will donate £5 of every sale to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. link

08: STAR BUY (24.3%) Jo Malone Red Roses Cologne (£82) – For each Red Roses 100ml Cologne sold throughout October within the UK, Jo Malone London will donate £20 to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation UK Research Grants. link

09: STAR BUY (100%) Estée Lauder Breast Cancer Awareness Evelyn Dream Solid Perfume Compact (£60) – Estée Lauder will donate £60.00 (the full RRP) from every sale in the UK to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. link

10: STAR BUY (48%) Sew Lomax Raspberry Pop Pouch (£25) – From every bag sold, £12.00 will go straight to the Pink Ribbon Foundation. link

 

Do you usually indulge in pink beauty buys or do you donate directly to the “pink” charity of your choice?

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The real steal: Two fragrances that belie their price tags!

Posted by Lipglossiping On October - 22 - 2014

If you always struggle to buy the man who has everything, something… then I might be able to help you out.

Whether it’s a partner, a brother, a son, or a father… there’s always one fella in the family who leaves you scratching your head when it comes to accommodating him in your annual Christmas shop.  You may not think that fragrance is the most original gift choice in the world but if you get it right… you’re on to a bonafide winner.

Over the years, I’ve managed to grind down Mr. L’s resolve to the point where he is finally, a fully-fledged fragrance fiend.  His tastes vary but he’s not too particular… if it smells great, offers long-lasting wear and isn’t too extreme, he appreciates a well-crafted scent whatever the notes.

I’ve picked out two from his collection that I think would appeal to most men on your gift lists… and perhaps even more excitingly, you can pick them up for less than £16 each!  Yes, I’m talking about some of my favourite kind of fragrances, those mainstream buys that slip under the radar, punching well above their weight!

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The Dad/Husband Choice: Pour Homme – Van Cleef & Arpels (from £12.15 – link)

Of the two fragrances that I’ve selected as “great buys”, this is the one that would be better suited to an older gentleman.  It has a 70s vibe that might not appeal to the younger, Paco Rabanne 1 Million-wearing crowd.  It was revealed by VC&A a couple of years ago, that Pour Homme was one of Serge Gainsbourg’s favourite scents and if you know me, you won’t be surprised that this fact alone made me RUN for the nearest stockist.

Pour Homme opens with a vintage blast of green, a combination of aromatics that include basil, juniper, and bergamot.  It’s a pungent beginning, herbaceous and dated – though depending on your personal tastes, that last adjective is not meant as a criticism – merely a caution.

The heavyweight bottle hints at the darkness of the juice inside, I like to imagine the contents swirling around in there like some kind of twilight-zone vortex because I do believe that the dark arts were afoot during its creation.  I simply cannot envision how it is possible to blend so many different discernible notes without creating a complete hash of a fragrance.  From the freshness to the spiciness, the leather to the wood, the soapiness to the magnificent rose – it’s all in there, managed like a military operation.

Though I have mentioned the Serge Gainsbourg connection, I find it quite hard to associate the two personalities, myself.  Pour Homme is the epitome of a formal fragrance, it’s perfectly styled to sit beautifully against the backdrop of a dark suit, buttoned up to the hilt.  I can only amalgamate the personalities by unbuttoning that collar a few inches and adding 20 Gitanes into the mix.  Ahh yes, there you go.

As the fragrance dries down on my skin, the soft rose notes blossom into a bouquet against a somewhat-soapy backdrop… on my husband’s skin the rose whips against leather and patchouli, darkening the shadows further and stretching them into a bygone age.  The projection and longevity is equal to nothing else in his collection of fragrance, it can only be described in a cliche, as a powerhouse.  I can still smell this on my husband’s collar when doing the laundry, days later.

Talk about getting some serious bang for your buck.  Oui, Je T’aime.

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The Son/Boyfriend Choice: 24 Gold Eau de Toilette (from £15.00 – link)

If you can get past having Twentieth Century Fox logos emblazoned across the outer packaging, you’d be extremely wise to give this one a chance.  24 Gold is indeed a spin-off fragrance, paying homage to TV’s Jack Bauer.  On paper… it’s about as gimmicky as they come, Mr L’s bottle even arrived with a 24-emblazoned ipod armband… presumably so he can listen to his favourite tunes while taking down the world’s baddest baddies.  Frankly, it should be shit.  But it isn’t, it’s about as far away from shit as you can get, it’s amazing.

24 Gold has an alltogether younger feel than Pour Homme, with gourmand chocolate box qualities and a boozy heart of amber.  From the off, it delivers up a beautiful and striking blend of powerful oud and vanilla – remaining forever sweet and better suited to the cooler weather.  It’s an atomic blast of a fragrance, lasting for hours and hours on both mine and Mr. L’s skin, projecting itself into a room long after we’ve left its walled confines.

24 Gold describes itself as a unisex fragrance, and I agree… it has some feminine qualities and a sweet oriental heaviness that would undoubtedly frighten off most Davidoff Cool Water-loving men, so do have a precursory sniff at some of the other scents in your intended target’s collection before jumping in with a blind buy.  Certainly, if most of his collection is light and airy… steer well clear, 24 Gold is decadent, rich, and very, very dense.

If you think you might have the green light on a bolder choice of fragrance, 24 Gold genuinely wouldn’t be wildly out of place in a designer’s private blends collection – exclusively available to only the world’s most revered department stores.  In conclusion, it belies its frankly ridiculous price tag.

Taken at face value, it would be easily forgivable to overlook this one in your local perfume store’s bargain bin.  But do so at your peril!

 

These two fragrances prove that it’s simply not necessary to drop £££ to find an incredible fragrance and although fragrance buying is a very personal experience, I believe you’ll be hard-pushed to find better quality for the money this Christmas.

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Avon Big & Daring Volume Mascara Review

Posted by Lipglossiping On October - 20 - 2014

It’s been a while since I tried a new mascara, the truth is that I’ve fallen into an extremely comfortable relationship with Clinique High Lengths mascara (the one with the brush that looks like a praying mantis).  Considering I first reviewed that particular mascara over 4-years ago now, it’s pretty good going for it to remain in my top-5 mascara list, no?

Anyway, as comfortable as our relationship is… I’m a terrible flirt and the latest mascara from Avon, which promises 24-hour volume with a buildable, clump-free formula, had me batting my eyelashes from 50-paces.

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I usually get on well with lengthening mascaras as my lashes are fair, particularly at the tips where they disappear against my skintone.  I could apply boot polish and I’d still get an initial wow factor at uncovering those lost tips!  Having said that, my lashes, particularly post pregnancy, are a little sparse and volume and thickness is something I crave.

The Avon Big & Daring Volume mascara presents a large, curved brush… densely packed with bristles of varying lengths.  The idea behind this brush is the usual “capture as many lashes as possible in one go” remit, and it works well.  Obviously, the more lashes you can capture (per sweep), the less you’ll need to layer and the chances of clumping will reduce.

I hate clumpy lashes, with a passion.  I struggle to leave the house if I’ve had a mascara melt-down and have overdone it.  As a result, I generally dislike any “wet” mascaras or ones that apply too much product, too quickly.  Instant bin fodder.

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Although the Avon mascara captures a lot of product on those many, many bristles… the packaging has an effective inner narrowing of the neck that ensures excess product remains inside as you draw the wand out of the tube.  The curve of the brush matches well with my eye-shape and allows me to get down into the root of the lashes without too much effort or wrangling.

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The overall result is great for an “every day” look, the before/after picture shows how my lashes look with two coats of the Avon Big & Daring Volume mascara applied.  I could have gone for one more coat without clumping but in all honesty, I don’t have the luxury of time to keep building my mascara in the mornings.  It’s probably not quite dramatic enough for a night out but it’s perfect for the daytime, especially as I want something a little more impactful than “natural” without going overboard.  It strikes the balance just right for my tastes.

I don’t experience any flaking or smuding with this formula, infact… if anything, it’s a little too resilient as it does take some effort to remove it in the evening.

All in all, for a sub-£10 mascara, I’m really pleased with how it works.  It’s an effective choice for those on a budget and offers a generous 10ml of product for your pennies.

Avon Big & Daring Volume mascara is currently on offer at £7 (usual price £8.50), it’s available online from avonshop.co.uk

* press sample

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The Lipstick League – Week of 6.10.14

Posted by Lipglossiping On October - 14 - 2014

Question of the Week: When applying your makeup, do you stand or sit? Where do you apply it? In your bedroom, bathroom or…?

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Answer: I hover between the bedroom and the hallway to apply my makeup.  My Ikea Alex is just inside the bedroom door but there’s no mirror nearby.  So I lean into the bedroom to grab what I need and use the mirror on the wall in the hall to apply it.  It’s a bad, bad situation for a beauty blogger.  When I’m rich, I’m gonna have a full-sized vanity area with some decent lighting.  None of this energy-saving-takes-until-you’re-50-to-illuminate-the-bulb crap.

Phyrra – brings you the Beginner’s Guide to Cruelty Free Perfumes! Check out some of her Fall picks.

we heart this – we took a look at all 37 of the latest Milani Color Statement Nail Lacquers. And then we fell in love…

EauMG – shares her Empties from September!

Glitter.Gloss.Garbage – Glitter.Gloss.Garbage  is sharing her Lush Cosmetics Halloween must haves

Gouldylox Reviews – It’s time for the holiday releases!! With so many swoon-worthy palettes, here is one you can skip.

Lipglossiping – definitely prefers palettes over pans but does Estee Lauder’s latest 5-color offering pass muster?

Nouveau Cheap – So I finally tried one of the L’Oreal Extraordinaire by Colour Riche Lip Colors that everyone’s been raving about. Was it worth the wait? Click here to find out.

Prime Beauty – found a new and interesting beauty subscription box. Scentbird is for fragrance lovers who love to change up their scent without the high price tag!

 

(Wondering what the Lipstick League is? Find out here.)

 

Guest Post of the Week, as chosen by Phyrra – I love Rebecca’s blog because she has great, easy to follow tutorials. Check out her How to Apply Gradient Lipstick Tutorial, which is perfect for how to add depth to any lipstick.

I’m really fussy about chocolate brownies, infact… so fussy am I, that I hardly ever order them when I’m eating out.  Do you know why that is?  Because I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a decent chocolate brownie.  They’re always too dry… too cake-like.  I don’t want a square of dried-up old chocolate cake masquerading as a brownie.  Don’t try and placate me with a handful of chocolate drops strewn about the crumbs.  That won’t do.

I want a brownie that practically squelches between my teeth.  I want a brownie that basks in its own decadence… I want a brownie that makes me question whether I can even finish it… that’s how rich and super-chocolatey I want my brownies to be.  Now, can you see why I never order them?  I’m a brownie-snob.  That’s what I am!

Leila and I received a lovely hamper from the sugar-company Billington’s last week, containing a few choice ingredients that they felt would result in the perfect chocolate brownie.  Of course, in the interest of science, my daughter and I felt the need to test this theory without delay.

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She’s so proud of her new apron.  I don’t think it’s going to stay clean for long… do you?

Along with the hamper, Billington’s sent a Chocolate Brownies Recipe card that promised indulgent, squidgy pieces of brownie heaven.  They recommend the addition of glace cherries and dark muscovado sugar, I’ve never had cherries in a brownie before… have you?

The recipe calls for 300g of dark chocolate, and it nearly broke mine and Leila’s hearts to raid our chocolate stash… she was getting ever more hesitant as she got to the last bar.  “Are you sure it needs all this chocolate, Mum?”

“‘Fraid so!”

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Once we’d melted, mixed, sieved, stirred, and whisked our way through the recipe, it was time to put them in the oven.  Those ensuing 30-minutes felt like the longest of our lives.  The smells wafting from the kitchen were tantalising!

Finally, the timer beeped and we dived for the oven door.  Letting them cool for nowhere near as long as we should have, we began to cut into the squidgy slab of sinfulness.

Unfortunately, I had to wait a little longer than I’d anticipated before I could sink my teeth into a square.  You see, I’d also accepted Billington’s mission to capture a #bakeface.  You know… that face you pull when you’re indulging in the sweet excesses of gluttony.  Basically, cake.  You know and I know that cake brings a special kind of happiness that salad can only dream of aspiring to!

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It was quite hard to capture Leila’s #bakeface to be honest as she was mostly positioned face-first into her plate.  After a lot of patience – and the fear that I might have to give her another square of brownie in the name of capturing it – I got one.  That final bite.  The understanding that it’s all gone.  And then the cherished realisation that you have at least another 5-licks worth attached to your fingers!

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Gotcha #bakeface!

If you’d like to enter your best #bakeface – Billington’s invites you to upload your snap to http://bakeface.billingtons.co.uk/ for the chance to win some amazing prices. The more votes your #bakeface gets, the more chance there is of winning!

* Billington’s provided me with some of the key ingredients of this recipe

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The Lipstick League – 29/09/2014

Posted by Lipglossiping On October - 6 - 2014

Question of the Week: What’s the first beauty/makeup item that you remember coveting?

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Answer: I think it was a MAC Mineralize Skinfinish. God knows which one though, there’s been so many!

Prime Beauty – is excited for the new movie Gone Girl, and the new Gone Girl collaboration with Duri Nail Polish! Which shade will you sport to the opening?

Phyrra – Find out more about my love of lip products with the Lip Product Addict Tag!

we heart this – Losing the fight against frizz? You’ll want to give the new Moroccanoil Smooth Collection a look.

EauMG – shares her perfume picks for Autumn 2014. From Oktoberfest festivities to pumpkin patches, Victoria has the perfect scent paired with your favorite fall activities.

Gouldylox Reviews – Want to look fresh faced in minutes without a million products? This is what you’ve been waiting for.

Lipglossiping – is surprised to discover that the Joan Collins beauty range is more than just a pretty face…

My Beauty Bunny – Looking for a new fall scent both you and your significant other will love? Win the KIÖRI perfume giveaway; a natural oil that’s a perfect blend of dark vanilla, patchouli and delicate blossoms.

Nouveau Cheap – What the heck is Reverse Hair Washing? Click here for my own personal experience and why it might be right for you!

(Wondering what the Lipstick League is? Find out here.)

Guest Post of the Week, as chosen by Prime BeautyA Fashion Love Affair is a Canadian fashion blog by Cara. I love her style, her clean site and beautiful photography. Cara has contributed to or been featured by more than 100 media outlets including The Zoe Report, Lucky Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar. If you like fashion and great photos, check it out!

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Over the years, I’ve slowly discovered that as much as I love my makeup, I can also be rather lazy about it.  An example of this is my love for palettes.  I like knowing that someone has taken the work out of choosing which shades goes with which to ensure that I don’t end up looking more Coco the Clown than Coco Chanel.

There are a few single eyeshadows that you’d have to prise out of my cold, dead hands before I’d relinquish my grip but for the most part, I’m pretty commited to having the hard work done for me.

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Estee Lauder’s latest palette launch features a new line of Sculpting Eyeshadows that are firmly grounded in the neutral camp.  Offering a total of 12-different palettes across the range with shades that are designed to add definition, shadow and highlight to the eye area – these haven’t been created to break ground on new trends… you’ll have seen these shade combinations a hundred times over but they have been designed to make mornings easier.

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In my posession, I have 04 Rebel Metal - a collection of golden, metallic hues.  Each shade is a shimmer, there are no mattes at all.  I prefer balanced palettes that offer a matte, I’m too old and wrinkly to wear shimmery shades in my eye socket!  Having said that, the five shades do deliver some pretty, subtle nuances between them and are nicely colour-balanced to ombre across the metallic spectrum.  The palette definitely leans to the warm side but should suit most skintones well.

Pigmentation is good and the texture from each pan is pleasing, I’ve found some Estee Lauder shadows to be a little firmly-textured in the past… particularly the paler shades.  This palette, though not quite “buttery”, is easy to apply and wears nicely when applied both wet and dry.  As you might imagine, wearing these metallic shades wet creates a far more impactful and intense look, it’s nice to have the option.

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Despite eschewing a primer, I found these to be fairly crease-resistant, they didn’t move about on the eyelid but instead, faded gently as the day wore on.  In all honesty, I can’t say I’m hugely excited by this release but at the same time, there’s nothing I can moan about either.  There’s nothing wrong with them per se… they just don’t get my makeup-loving heart a-beating.

Perhaps I’ve been exposed to too many palettes of golden neutrals over the years *cough* Naked *cough* but for the £40 price tag, I’d gently suggest that your money could stretch further, whilst getting the same quality… from a purchase elsewhere.

I’ll still be checking out some of the other colour-combinations on counter though, you never know where that perfect taupe is lurking!

Estee Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting EyeShadow 5-Color Palette in Rebel Metal is priced at £40 and is available to buy on-counter and online from esteelauder.co.uk, johnlewis.com, and debenhams.com

*press sample

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Joan Collins Timeless Beauty

Posted by Lipglossiping On September - 30 - 2014

When Joan Collins Timeless Beauty launched earlier this year, I was curious to discover how the brand would be received.  It seems quite unfeasible in today’s culture (sadly) that an 81-year old woman could release a line of makeup and, to put it bluntly, appeal to anyone under the age of fifty.

Let’s face it, the older you get, the more invisible you become.  I’ve heard this sadly-bemoaned by my own parents, who are now in their 70s, and I wondered how a makeup range, launched by an octogenarian would fare in today’s youth-obsessed society.  I held out hope that the undisputed glamour credentials of Joan Collins would be able to transcend the age-divide and appeal to your average Cosmo reader.

Despite my curiosities, this is the first time I’ve taken a closer look at the range for myself.  And my initial reactions are wholly positive.

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Above all else, the range feels authentic.  It doesn’t bend its personality to conform to the popular.  The nail lacquer bottles remind me of the delights my teen self might discover, rummaging the shelves in my local chemist through the dusty old stock leftover from the 80s.  The packaging is bold, angular, and of course… gold.  It’s one pair of shoulder pads away from Alexis Carrington.  Just as it should be.

And yet, somehow it doesn’t feel old-fashioned or over-styled.  How is that even possible?

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Despite the audacious packaging of the Summer Kiss Duo compact (£29.50), the bronzer housed inside is a mewing kitten by comparison.  Just how this pale chick likes it best, I did fear a pair of 80s go-faster stripes would appear across my cheeks after the initial application but there’s a refinement to the powder that delivers a soft, velvety texture and a buildable, flattering hue.

The included brush is useless and it doesn’t have anywhere of its own to sit within the palette, I’d recommend chucking it and using your own brush instead.

The lipstick nestled-in-palette combination is darling and the duo deliver a beautifully unfussy pairing for a polished look.  Combined, they deliver no more than a healthy flush of colour, providing the epitome of an unpretentious daytime touch-up.  A true old-skool compact.

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The lipstick, Marilyn, is an easy-to-wear shade… one that will go with everything.  A neutral rosewood creme that will add flush and colour to your lips without making any huge statements.  It has a fairly hydrating formula that I imagine will be easy to enjoy and comfortable to wear whatever the weather throws at us over the coming months.

Finally, the Nail Lacquer (£12.50)… also called Marilyn, as you might imagine, matches the lipstick.  The shade when worn on the nails, does feel a little “older”, I know that my Nan had a whole drawer full to the brim of these pinky/brown concoctions!  But I can’t deny the formula which applies smoothly, thickly, and is completely opaque in one-to-two coats.

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Ultimately, there’s not much I can find to fault my first foray into Joan Collins’ beauty range.  It has just the right amount of chutzpah to remind you of the origins of the brand but doesn’t “Disneyfy” itself by going over the top and playing too much on the “in-your-face diva”.  It’s completely wearable, has obviously been curated by someone who knows what they’re doing, and should absolutely appeal to beauty lovers of all ages.

Joan Collins Timeless Beauty is available to buy online from qvcuk.com and urbanretreat.co.uk

* press sample

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Review: The Basingstoke Country Hotel (and spa)

Posted by Lipglossiping On September - 26 - 2014

In line with my usual state of perma-disorganisation, I’d left things quite late when I decided to book a night away for mine and Mr. L’s 10th wedding anniversary.  It felt like such a frivolous thing to do, I wasn’t really sure whether we should be doing it at all, given our current state of finance (we’re saving for a deposit) and the fact that Joe is only 20-weeks old.  But when my cousin offered to have Joe for the night, my resolve was tipped over the edge and I began to frantically google for something that would give us the little treat we felt that we wholeheartedly deserved!

Unfortunately, our anniversary coincided with the Southampton Boat Show, which sees thousands of visitors descend upon Hampshire.  Hotel rooms were at a premium.

The deal I *really* wanted to go for, which was a Balmer Lawn break in the New Forest from Travelzoo, wasn’t available for booking on the date we needed!

In the end, I found something that looked very reasonable on Amazon Local, an overnighter at the Basingstoke Country Hotel which included a meal and a late checkout for £109, good value no?  Reading the reviews on Tripadvisor, people suggested that it was worth upgrading to a better room, so I gave them a ring and asked to upgrade.  I happily paid the extra to upgrade to one of their top rooms, a deluxe double.  I also enquired about the treatment menu at the spa and promptly booked two massages for us over the phone.  All at additional costs.  Mr. L was a bit of a reluctant spa-goer, having never had a massage before but I was excited to introduce him to the experience, and hoped it would be a good one!

IMG_6619

Upon arrival, we checked in and were given directions to our room, which we promptly headed for as we didn’t have long before we were due to go for our spa treatments.  The deluxe room was large but sparse, with a large bed and a flat screen TV.  However, the furnishings are quite dated and things are looking tired.  The bathroom was lovely and big but again, pretty basic.  It had a bidet but to be honest, I would rather have had a clean (non foisty-smelling) shower curtain!

Overall, what became apparent, very quickly indeed, was that this hotel wasn’t going to be a luxury experience.  It’s aimed at the corporate market.  It feels like a Premier Inn.  There’s nothing wrong with a Premier Inn, heck, I spent my honeymoon in one – I’m no hotel snob… but this just wasn’t matching up to its star-rating and description.  There were stains on the carpet, the skirting boards and walls could have done with a good scrub to remove the tea stains, and despite there having not been a drop of rain all day, you couldn’t see out of the window for the condensation and dirt.

basingstoke-country-hotel

A quick peek through the leaflets on the sideboard revealed that had I not booked my spa-treatments in advance, I could have had 20% off by booking them on the day.  Leaving this information for all guests to access seems a little insensitive.  I understand the principle behind encouraging last-minute bookings in the spa but it’s irksome for a customer who has had the foresight to pre-book only a few days earlier.  A better option would be to invite the receptionist to enquire upon check-in as to whether guests have pre-booked any treatments.  If they have, fine… if they haven’t, perhaps at this point it would be wise to make them aware of the offer.  Rather than, “Hey, here’s a discount YOU CAN’T HAVE”.

We headed down to the spa area, which involved checking-in at the reception area of the gym before being led through to the waiting room.  There was a coffee machine, and we were told to help ourselves while we waited.  I made two teas but then realised that there was no milk available and no-one around to ask so I had to leave them on the side.  The “relaxation” area was pretty unrelaxing.  Hard chairs, too-loud “musak”, and the room is in general need of repair.  The wall behind the coffee area (which I think was also a reception desk), had been boarded up for hopeful future repair?  Basically it just didn’t feel like a retreat.  In any way, shape or form.

treatment-area

The treatments themselves were sadly pretty insipid.  I’d booked over the phone for two Hot Stone Massages but for some reason, we ended up with plain back massages instead.  I’m pretty easy-going and didn’t mind this but it’s a point to note that you should double-check before arrival.  During the massage, at no point was I asked what kind of pressure I liked, neither was my husband and the CD in his treatment room kept skipping throughout his massage.  The oils, if scented, were undetectable to my nose and although I could feel my therapist passing over various trigger points in my back, she didn’t ask if I’d like her to work on them with a little more firmness.  Again, at the time, I didn’t particularly mind because I was happy to opt for a more relaxing experience.  However, the offer of a little customization would have been nice and really sets one therapist apart from another.

Sadly, we walked out of the treatment rooms feeling quite indifferent about the experience.  I have since assured Mr. L that not all massages are equal and that it is completely possible to experience bliss and relaxation from a good therapist!  He’s unconvinced and it will take some work getting him to try again!  Perhaps I’ve just been spoiled in some glorious spas over the years.  Overall, it certainly wasn’t a terrible experience but I wouldn’t book again.  I just don’t feel that the treatment achieved anything… in terms of easing tension, inducing relaxation, or lifting mood.  It was… for want of a better word, all pretty “meh”.

We headed back to the room to relax a little before dinner.

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Dinner wasn’t too bad, and our server (an older lady, I forget her name) was really lovely.  The fat on our belly pork hadn’t rendered very well though and we could only eat about 30% of the meat… also a little more (well-flavoured) mash wouldn’t have gone amiss!  My favourite was the chicken liver starter that I enjoyed, it was really very tasty indeed.

Sadly, my chocolate brownie dessert was ridiculously small, I would have been red-faced had I been serving that night, a quarter of a strawberry and a piece of brownie no bigger than a small scoop of ice-cream? Come on now!  Also… lose the slates-as-plates please, my ice-cream was melting quicker than I could chase it around the bumpy surface, I reckon I lost most of it either in the ridges or off the side!

We retired to bed feeling pretty dispassionate about the day but we were, at least, very much looking forward to an undisturbed, baby-free sleep!  Unfortunately, the bed was really uncomfortable… both of us found the mattress to be lumpy as hell and fidgeted all night because bits (springs?) were digging in to us.  At least a Premier Inn guarantees you a good nights sleep!  We actually laughed over the following weekend, as we took the kids to Pontins, and got a better night’s sleep in what we had expected to be terrible beds there!

Upon checking out of the Basingstoke Country Hotel, the receptionist asked if we had enjoyed our stay.  In all honesty, I couldn’t even bring myself to do the very British thing of moaning about it throughout before smiling and saying “Oh, yes… lovely” to the reception staff.  I just simply said:  “It was alright, thank you”.

And it was.  But only just.

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Clinique A Different Nail Enamel Really Rio NOTD

Posted by Lipglossiping On September - 23 - 2014

I hereby declare that Autumn has finally begun.

As I walked my daughter to school this morning, I could see my breath swirling around infront of me, just as misty as the surrounding fog that threatened to obscure anything further than 100ft away.  Leila asked if it was nearly Christmas… in response, I let out a shudder.

While my brain may slowly be getting to grips with the idea of colder, darker climes… my nails, aren’t.

clinique-really-rio

Clinique’s Really Rio may well be a summer screamer but I’m not ashamed to wear it, whatever the weather!

A pretty peach with a super-glossy finish and a slight jelly-esque quality that makes it look warm and squishy on the nails.  The coverage is a little sheer and you’ll need a few coats to achieve the finish above but it wears beautifully well, longevity is a dream with next to no tip wear, even after four-days.

Really Rio is available to buy on counter and online at clinique.co.uk, priced at £12 for 9ml.  I’ve also spotted a couple of minis on offer for £3-a-piece from directcosmetics.co.uk – bargain!

* press sample

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