23andMe DNA Testing in the UK – My Results #23andme #dnatesting

Posted by Lipglossiping On August - 16 - 2015

When I received the email from 23andMe informing me that my results were ready, the rush of excitement, anticipation, and fear was real. I could taste it. My heart rate quickened and I had to steady myself before clicking through. You see, these things are no joke. If you’d rather hide under the metaphorical duvet covers and not face up to the potential realities of your future, this service probably isn’t for you. Thoughts of Parkinsons, Alzheimers, Breast Cancer and other inherited conditions could well be about to take a goose-step into your psyche.

For me, although the idea of discovering potential health issues wasn’t entirely unproblematic, I felt that I’d rather be forewarned. There are so many lifestyle changes that I could make, that I should make to boost my chances of a healthier later-life and I’m not opposed to the idea of a little kick up the bum.

Of course, one should not lose sight of two very important facts.

Just because your genes show a disposition to developing a certain condition, this does not mean that you will inherit. And perhaps more importantly, just because your genes don’t show a disposition… doesn’t mean that you won’t develop it anyway. I may not show any mutations in the BRCA1/BRCA2 gene varients, but that doesn’t make me immune to developing breast or ovarian cancer, I will still be vigilant in my monthly boob checks – I just won’t be rushing off to my GP demanding that he lop both breasts off there and then. Clearly, I’m not the type to overreact!

So caveats aside… what did my results show?

I’m at a higher risk of developing Alzheimers thanks to having one copy of the APOE ε3 variant and one copy of the ε4 variant. The ε4 variant is particularly associated with higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Infact, it’s the strongest known hereditary risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s (after the age of 65). But as frightening as this may initially sound, it puts me in a category shared by roughly 22% of people with European ancestry. Mate, I’m not alone – and when you consider the rising incidence of Alzheimers in an aging population, I’m not especially horrified. As I’ve said before, both my mother and my grandmother have suffered the disease, I pretty much expected this result.

But what’s the point of receiving this information if you’re not going to do anything about it? What can you do to prevent Alzheimers? Well, for me… it will just mean that I’m more mindful about trying to keep my blood pressure low, reducing my risks of diabetes, and taking an omega-3 supplement. I’m not going to lose sleep over it, truly. But you will catch me looking up from whatever I’m doing when they talk about new research in battling the disease on the news.

My genes also show that I also have Inherited Thrombophilia, something that I wasn’t aware of but basically means that I have a higher risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and PE (pulmonary embolism). To be more specific, I have one copy of the Factor V Leiden variant in the F5 gene. Having this variant is associated with about five times higher odds of developing abnormal blood clots in people with European ancestry.

Now, how is that not useful to know? It means I won’t be taking any risks on long-haul flights, if I have to have surgery or my leg put in a cast, you can be sure I’ll be telling my care providers about this possible complication to give them the option of treating me with blood thinners. I mean, seriously, how could being forearmed with this knowledge not be a good thing?

Now, in terms of the “scary” stuff that 23andMe test for, this is my lot (thankfully).

I don’t have any increased genetic risk for Parkinsons or BRCA1/2-related breast cancers, and there are numerous other serious but lesser-known conditions shown within my 23andMe control panel, all of which I show only a typical (rather than increased) risk of developing.

My control panel also shows that my body metabolizes certain proton pump inhibitors (anti-acids such as omeprazole/lansoprazole) faster than the typical response. This is of interest to me as I am allergic to NSAIDs (aspirin/ibuprofen) and have been treated on numerous occasions for stomach ulcers. On a basic level it means that I may need a higher dosage of these drugs than usual to have an effect. So far, I’m generally ok with what the doctor prescribes… but it’s good to know that if I don’t respond well to the usual treatment in the future, there could be a reason for it.

The serious stuff now out of the way, the rest is a bit of fun and frippery, I’ll run through a quick facts-about-me-determined-from-my-genes list so you can get an idea of the kind of things that 23andMe tell you about.

•  I do not flush in response to alcohol. (just in response to the stupid things I say whilst under its effects!)

•  I am “taste-blind” to the bitter components found in cabbage, raw broccoli, coffee, tonic water, and dark beers.

•  My ear-wax type is err, “wet”. Who knew earwax was highly heritable?! Also, women with a wet earwax type are likely to produce more colostrum when breastfeeding!

•  Interestingly and incorrectly, my eye colour is likely to be brown. My Dad’s eyes are brown and my Mum’s blue… brown is dominant, so I guess that’s the basis of the assumption? Mine are green, which means that with my particular inherited genotype, I only had a 37% chance of getting green eyes.

•  I’m likely to be tolerant of lactose because I produce higher lactase enzyme levels.

•  I’m more likely to be a sprinter (as opposed to a marathon runner).

•  I’m unfortunately, not resistant to the most common strain of norovirus.

•  I’m a red hair “carrier” but am unlikely to have red hair myself. Put me with another red hair “carrier” and we could have the most beautiful flame-haired children.

•  I have moderately higher odds of detecting the scent of asparagus in my urine(!)

•  I’m likely to have more freckling than average

•  I metabolize caffeine quickly, reducing my chances of a coffee-induced heart attack

•  I have higher-than-average odds of disliking the taste of cilantro (coriander). I’m not bothered by it.

 

There are many more tidbits of useless info like this gathered from your DNA data. I can’t deny, It’s ridiculously good fun to read about yourself like this.

All of the above comes under the “Health” heading on the website, there’s a whole other section devoted to “Ancestry”.

I won’t go into too much details on this section (because I’ve already written too much!) except to say that my genetic data has revealed that I’m 99.9% Northern European and 0.1% West African. From that giant 99.9%, 78.% is British/Irish and 6.8% is French/German.

My mitochondrial DNA shows that I descend from maternal Haplogroup V, which originated in Iberia during the Ice Age. Apparently, Haplogroup V was likely common in “Doggerland”, an ancient land now drowned beneath the North Sea. Blimey!   This Haplogroup can now be found in 12% of people in the Basque region and 40% of Laplanders! I share my Haplogroup with Benjamin Franklin and err, Bono.  Nevermind, you can’t win ’em all.

So, once you’ve read your results… then what?  Well, things could actually get even more interesting in the future.  23andMe give you access to download your raw data and with this, you can upload the information to other 3rd-party websites.  These websites, such as Promethease and GEDMatch, will give you access to even more information based on your human genome data.  As you might imagine, these websites and databases are being constantly updated.  Your raw data has an extremely long shelf-life when it comes to usability.

I’ve written far too much but I’ll leave you with one last little tidbit of useless info.

An estimated 2.9% of my DNA is from Neanderthals, this puts me in the 87th percentile amongst other Europeans. I’m basically a knuckle-dragging, low-browed imbecile and it’s a miracle I’m not typing this with my feet.

If you’re interested in unlocking the mysteries of your DNA, I purchased my DNA kit directly from the 23andMe website but I believe you can also buy them from some Superdrug stores, they’re priced at £125 and results take around 6 weeks to process.

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23andMe DNA Testing in the UK – My experiences (pre-results)

Posted by Lipglossiping On August - 12 - 2015

Ever wondered if your uncle’s cousin’s brother was, infact, your husband?  No, me neither… but I’m sure it happens in some places, like Yeovil or Darlington.  Anyway, despite society’s thirst for new technologies, I soon discovered that many people view DNA testing with the same kind of suspicion they reserve for tarot reading or “Psychic Sally”.  I’m not talking about the kind of DNA testing that proves X murdered Y at the Old Bailey, that kind of science is beyond reproach – I’m talking about the kind of DNA profiling that you and I can have done.  On ourselves.  Of course, it’s basically the same thing – but try telling that to some people. SOME PEOPLE.

To be fair, my prior knowledge of DNA testing was pretty sketchy, it was based around everything I’ve ever learnt from watching The Jeremy Kyle Show, which, as I’m sure you can imagine… amounts to not an awful lot.

If I’m being honest, vanity had a lot to do with my decision to have my DNA profiled.  I mean, we all know that the best subject in the world to talk about is ourselves.  On the health side of things, I was curious to discover whether my DNA would show a genetic disposition toward Alzheimers now that both my mother and my paternal grandmother had been diagnosed with the disease.  I also wanted to find out about any other genetic risk factors, including the much talked about BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations that can significantly increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers.

23andme offers a wealth of health-related information (note, the FDA do not allow the company to provide health-related information on the basis of its genome scan in the US) to many of its customers but if looking into a potentially rather murky crystal ball doesn’t float your boat, perhaps the ancestry side of things is more to your taste.  The results offer a full breakdown of your ancestral composition, detailing what parts of the world your ancestry hails from, whether you have any famous relatives, and just how much of your DNA is basically Neanderthal.  It will inform you of any relatives it discovers from across its network of customers, providing of course, you grant permission for it to perform that kind of private “matchmaking”.

So, your appetite is whetted.  How does all this magic happen?

I signed up and paid my monies on the 23andme website… it’s not cheap by the way, it’ll set you back £125 – but I saw that as a bit of a bargain after I’d done some research into getting my BRCA1/BRCA2 genes tested privately at a cost of upwards of £1000.

Once signed up, you sit back and wait.  And the waiting is the dullest part of the whole procedure.  While 23andme offer their services within the UK, they’re not based here and it took just over a fortnight before I received my DNA Collection Kit.

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The process involves depositing saliva into a collection tube.  It’s basically a spit-kit, pure and simple.  I’ve never felt more feral, or indeed impressed by my gobbing abilities.  It took me far less time to fill to the line than I thought it would, I was probably thinking about steak and chips… I usually am.  Once your “deposit” is safely sealed in the box provided, you’ll need to head for your nearest post office, feeling like a dirty miscreant handing over bodily fluids to an unsuspecting Royal Mail employee.

AND THEN YOU WAIT.

It took a painstakingly long six weeks before I received my results.  I felt a rush of excitement, anticipation, and dare I say it, fear when that email pinged its way into my inbox.

But more of that next time…

Burts Bees Intense Hydration Treatment Mask

Posted by Lipglossiping On March - 5 - 2015

We all know that prevention is better than cure. Many years later, I can still recall the disapproving looks I would receive from my doctor when he asked me how regularly I was taking my preventer inhaler.  You see, being the know-it-all thirteen year old that I was, I felt that I was handling my asthma pretty well using only my blue inhaler.  That was, until I was told that taking the reliever inhaler 6 times a day does not equal a controlled condition.

The same goes for problem skin.

But clearly, I am still very much thirteen years old at heart because here I am, about to extol the “daily use” virtues of something that feels very much like a “cure” product.  I should probably just count my blessings that I don’t spend all my money in Our Price nowadays.

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Burts Bees Intense Hydration Treatment Mask is a luxuriously thick cream that spreads beautifully and deeply nourishes the upper layers of skin.  The particular benefits of this product, for me, is its unique combination of ingredients that provide a great-feeling as well as effective moisturising product.

It’s as though the chemists have struck a perfect balance for my skin and personal tastes.  Although rich in glycerin, which works as a great (albeit inexpensive) humectant, keeping water bound within these upper layers of skin, the texture lacks the tackiness that often comes with glycerin-based products.  In addition to this, it boasts instant emollient benefits as a skin smoother, feeling comfortably nourishing on the face without being overly heavy.

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The mask spreads nicely, leaving behind a white sheen that over the course of a minute or two, dissipates, taking any feelings of post-cleansing tightness with it.

My only caveat with the Intense Hydration Mask is its over-reliance on fragrance.  As with many other Burts Bees products, this one is also highly-scented.  Thankfully, my skin tolerates perfume in skincare very well, but I know that many do not and it’s a shame that a brand which is often so beneficial to people with dry and sensitive skin, feels the need to use potential irritants so aggressively in its products.  This one, especially.

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My opening paragraph may have alerted you to the fact that instead of using this product as a “treatment mask”, I mostly use it as a daily moisturiser… tailoring the amount I apply to the ever-changing demands of my skin.  I only need to use a very small quantity, pea-sized, most days… meaning that this 110g tube is going to last me a very long time.  Once a week, after applying a clay-based mask across my t-zone, I apply a slightly thicker layer before bed.

I do love mini-miracle products, those ones that make tangible differences to your skin after only one use.  Ain’t no-one got time to wait 12-weeks for results and this one is, for me at least, a bonafide beauty saviour.

Burts Bees Intense Hydration Treatment Mask is available to buy online from feelunique.com priced at £17.95

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Review: The Balmer Lawn Hotel, New Forest

Posted by Lipglossiping On March - 4 - 2015

My husband had only one simple request for his recent 40th birthday.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t gift him with eternal youth, so instead I opted for a good night’s sleep.  As a light sleeper (I sleep like the dead), it’s fair to say that poor Pauly’s shut-eye has been momentously disrupted ever since the arrival of baby Joe.  Every snuffle, snort, and baby-fart permanently recorded in the under eye circles that adorn his face.

Of course, I wasn’t just going to take him to any old hotel.  Oh no, I made that mistake last time.  And if you remember that less-than-favourable review, you might remember that I mentioned another hotel that I had wanted to secure but had been unable due to  incompatible dates.  Long story short, I had no such problem this time and promptly booked us both in for an overnight stay at the Balmer Lawn Hotel in the New Forest.

This time, I pounced upon a Travelzoo deal to procure our night of hopeful bliss.  I paid for an overnight stay with breakfast, two spa treatments and a three-course meal and awaited the treat with glee.

The day didn’t get off to a great start as I had to cancel the pre-booked spa treatments due to a last-minute offer of a hospital appointment that couldn’t be turned down.  However once that was out of the way, we dashed up the M27 and into the more serene surroundings of the New Forest.

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The Balmer Lawn is a hotel that I must have driven past a thousand times, I think that’s why I’ve wanted to stay for so long… the old hunting lodge has an imposing charm, set alone in splendid surroundings and I’ve always wondered what it’s like inside.  Sadly, I didn’t get to experience its full charms as the hotel was slap-bang in the middle of refurbishment works when we arrived and the main lounge area, with its roaring open fire, was sadly sealed off behind sheets and boards!

It couldn’t be helped though, and despite our room being fairly close to the hub of the work, we weren’t disturbed by any noise during sleeping hours.  I look forward to seeing the result of the work in the future.

We arrived a little earlier than I’d anticipated but it was no problem at all for the receptionist who took it in her stride and cheerfully checked us in early.  I should point out at this point that The Balmer Lawn website has the rather nifty “Look Before You Book” feature which offers plentiful photos of all the rooms available!

We’d only paid for a standard room as part of the deal but the hotel has a policy of upgrading all guests whenever possible, so we ended up with a lovely four poster, superior room with forest views.  Room 7, infact… take a look for yourself.  It was spacious and included everything you’d need for a comfortable overnight stay.

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Once settled in the room, we decided to make best use of our child-free time by checking out the leisure facilities.  As previously mentioned, we had to forfeit our spa treatments (through no fault of the hotel) but we weren’t going to let it spoil our fun and headed straight downstairs to the pool area which was blissfully deserted.  The jacuzzi was heavenly, and I parked myself in its hot, bubbling waters, deciding there and then that I was going to exercise squatters rights until at least May.

I may well have followed through with my dastardly plan had I not realised that it was almost dinner time, and if there’s one thing that can get my backside moving, it’s the promise of food. Slipping back to our room, I took the opportunity to catch up on some TV and refresh my makeup before heading down to the dining room where our attentive (but not too attentive) waiter was ready to talk us through the menu.

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Sadly, the dining room was too dark to do the food much justice in my photos but from a sweetcorn chowder with cornbread to duck and soft boiled egg for starters, a venison and kale main to a trio of beef with vegetable crisps, we both completed the delicious proceedings with a treacle tart.

The food couldn’t be faulted on both presentation and taste, nouvelle cuisine done beautifully, but we left the table with room for a little more and thankful for the full three courses.

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There was just enough time for a relaxing soak in the tub before we made our selections for an in-room breakfast order (£5 tray charge, well worth it) and retired for the night.  The bed was extremely comfortable but I must admit that the best bit of all was the blissful silence and completely undisturbed night of sleep that we both cherished.

Waking the next morning, we enjoyed a full English breakfast sat at the table in our room, overlooking the beauty of the local surroundings before taking full advantage of a late 2pm check out by taking our lazy selves straight back to bed to stock up on some more zzzzzz’s before the return to reality.

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When we booked our night away, we were in desperate need of a recharge, both physically and emotionally.  The kindness of the staff throughout the hotel is what shone through, nothing felt like too much trouble and everyone we passed greeted us with a warm smile and a friendly “hello”.  The people who work at this establishment should be treasured because they helped facilitate the R&R that we so desired, expertly.

Sadly, that was back in early January and we’re already feeling the itch for another recharge!

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What a difference a few months make…

Posted by Lipglossiping On February - 2 - 2015

What with it now being February, I feel as though I may have neglected my space on the internet for far too long (you don’t say).  You see, the thing is… I just don’t seem to stop between 7am and 8pm, and if I do… it affords me just enough time to get the washing on, sterilise some bottles, tidy up the momentous amount of utter shite that comes with having more than one child in a 2-bed flat, or just simply make a cup of tea.  When it *does* get to 8pm, all I want to do is sit on the sofa and comfort eat whilst watching any old crap on TV.

FOTDs are something that I faintly remember from a time long, long, ago.  I don’t get as much opportunity to play with my makeup as I used to and I don’t feel very qualified to talk to anyone else about what they should or shouldn’t put on their faces anymore.  Having said that, I wasn’t ever *qualified* to begin with so maybe I should just pull up my big girl pants (getting bigger by the day) and simply get on with something that I know I love to do.  This whole blogging malarkey seems so completely polished and professional nowadays, I’m not sure where I belong within that sphere anymore.

Anyway, enough of my insecurities, regardless of whether or not I feel ready to return to the whole beauty thing just yet, I sure have missed this place.   I mean, right now… this very moment, my fingers are furiously pounding across the keyboard.  It’s as though it’s past midnight and I’ve just fed the little blogging gremlin within me.

This past year has just flown by, I can’t remember time passing so quickly when Leila was little but here I am, what seems like only a few weeks since giving birth and yet I have a rambunctious, completely-focused-on-doing-things-he-shouldn’t, 9 month old.  His nasal cavities are currently swamped with snots of all caliber and restfulness, or indeed sleep, is at somewhat of a premium right now.  He’s still swaddled, which is starting to make things a little tricky as we’re battling a current case of “can’t sleep with, can’t sleep without”.

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He’s still the spitting image (in boy form) of his big sister, two little blondies… I’d never have thunk it.  Talking of Leila, I still couldn’t wish for a better big sister for him and he seems to fully appreciate how lucky he is, it fills my heart with all kinds of skips when I watch his little baby-walker constrained legs pump up and down in an effort to run to Leila when she gets up for school, she’s definitely his number one, and that’s fine by me.

Until next time,

C x

Christmas Scenting with the Isle of Skye Candle Company

Posted by Lipglossiping On December - 10 - 2014

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a new candle to burn, there’s something so homely, so comforting about watching the tiny flame dance against the darkest of evenings.  I refused to light this one from the Isle of Skye Candle Company until the evening my husband and I had finished decorating the tree.  I love to savour a new candle, it’s somewhat ritualistic to be honest… if I sparked it up immediately, I’d be killing much of the pleasure.  The anticipation is half the fun!

I’m also making the most of this brief ceasefire which involves my son being too much of a smallie to be on the rampage, once he’s on the go – I’ll have to restrict my candle addiction to the bedtime hours.  Failing that, adoption.

Christmas Scenting with the Isle of Skye Candle Company

The Isle of Skye Candle Company are specialists in creating hand-poured, artisanal candles.  Each one is made with pride in the company’s workshop on the Isle of Skye where they blend a wide array of scents, most of which are inspired by their surroundings in the Scottish Highlands.

Frankincense and Myrrh couldn’t be a better choice for this time of year.  The delicate blend of sweet and spicy notes float against a rich, woody base that evokes many of the olfactory pleasures one associates with Christmas.  It delivers a calming quality, honeyed without being saccharine and mostly quite dry and aromatic.  I expected a thicker scent, more resinous but this blend takes a path less-trodden and steers away from the obvious choices.

Christmas Scenting with the Isle of Skye Candle Company

The candle burns cleanly thanks to the natural soya wax.  I’m about a third of the way through and the melt pool has been even from the start, infact the surface is as smooth and level as it was before I lit it.  Burn time is professed to deliver around 45hrs and if anything, I’m expecting it to exceed its promise based on how it’s faring so far.

This particular scent blend is available in a variety of sizes from the Isle of Skye Cnadle Company website, including: votive, travel, single-wick tumblers, and even a triple-wick tumbler for those who like their scent throw to be all encompassing!

This large tumbler is priced at a very reasonable £15.00 and is available to buy online from www.skyecandles.co.uk

* press sample

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A great gift for a budding perfumista!

Posted by Lipglossiping On December - 1 - 2014

Since evolving into a bit of a fragrance fiend, I’ve found myself boring enabling people around me at every opportunity.  I just can’t help myself, I remember one particular evening when it took me at least fifteen-minutes before I’d realised that my poor brother’s eyes had completely glazed over and his feet were slowly shuffling toward the door.  You see, the thing is… falling in love with perfume involves a good deal of self-discovery, it’s a very personal journey and as much as I’d like to bulldoze everyone into liking the same things as me, that’s just not how it works.

With this in mind, I’d like to introduce you to Vivabox. A great concept that takes the old-fashioned idea of a gift-voucher to a whole new level.  The beautifully presented boxes, which are made exclusively with The Perfume Shop, feature a range of fragrance sample vials that include some of the biggest-selling brands.  But that’s not all, because each box also comes complete with a voucher that allows the gift-recipient to obtain the “full-sized” product of their choice from the selection.

This discovery box will take all the guesswork but none of the surprise out of gifting something so personal.  It gives the recipient the opportunity to test-drive a full range of scents before opting for a full-size companion, while it gives you the chance to present something to your loved one that delivers prettiness and instant gratification in a way that vouchers alone, simply can’t.

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The men’s set houses seven sample vials of fragrance that include:

Boss Bottled – Hugo Boss (2ml)
1 Million – Paco Rabanne (1.5ml)
Invictus – Paco Rabanne (1.5ml)
Montblanc Legend – Montblanc (1.2ml)
212 VIP Men – Carolina Herrera (1.5ml)
Black XS – Paco Rabanne (1.2ml)
L’Eau d’Issey Pour Homee – Issey Miyake (1.2ml)

It also contains a booklet with more information about each scent, and the voucher that will allow your recipient to pop-in to their local The Perfume Shop and purchase a full-size bottle of one fragrance from the included selection.

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The lady’s boxed set, equally contains a voucher for a full-size bottle, a corresponding booklet, and seven vials of samples that include:

Boss Ma Vie Pour Femme – Hugo Boss (1.5ml)
212 VIP – Carolina Herrera (1.5ml)
Jimmy Choo – Jimmy Choo (2ml)
Nina – Nina Ricci (1.5ml)
Black XS – Paco Rabanne (1.2ml)
Viva La Juicy – Juicy Couture (1.5ml)
Flower by Kenzo – Kenzo (1ml)

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One of my favourite features of these Vivaboxes is the little attention to details that includes notes on how to get the best from your fragrance journey.  It features advice that includes sampling one scent each day for a week to get a feel for which notes you enjoy or dislike, locating your pulse points, and explaining some of the differences between edt and edp.

All of the fragrances included are at the top of the mass-market chain, ensuring that this won’t be a gift to please your average fragrance snob… but my niece, a fragrant fledgling would completely adore a set like this and I think it would set her on the perfect path toward finding out what works, and doesn’t work with her personal tastes and skin chemistry.

The Vivabox Fragrance Selection boxes are available to buy instore, or online from theperfumeshop.com, priced at £39.99 each.

* press sample

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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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