Illamasqua Toxic Nature Spring Summer Collection & Swatches

Posted by Lipglossiping On March - 3 - 2011

Stepping away from the dark-side for a wee while, Illamasqua have brought their own version of Spring/Summer to the table.  And as you might imagine, all is not quite as it seems…

The 17-piece collection comprises of pastels, neutrals and vivid neons… but with a few curveballs thrown in for good measure!  Let’s have some piccies…

The campaign imagery depicts a surreal, unpredictable world inspired by a natural world that is retaliating against the mankind that has distorted it.  Those feelings are demonstrated by shades that conflict, revel in their hybrid nature and tease with now-you-see-me, now-you-don’t pearl and glister.

6 New Cream Pigments (£17.00) that promise to be more crease-resistant than Illamasqua’s current cream eyeshadows and suitable for use all over the body.

Mould (Grape) / Hollow (Toffee) / Delirium – EU Only (Rose Taupe) / Bedaub (Mint) / Emerge – EU Only (Peach) / Dab (Lilac)

Thanks for lending me your swatching arm Rowena!

Did you spot those lip colours in the top row of the last picture?

Not ashamed to admit they might be my favourite thing about this collection.  Well, one of my favourite things… here’s my personal picks from the Illamasqua Toxic Nature Collection:

Torture and Divine are the new Illamasqua Sheer Lipglosses (£13.00) for this collection.  Just beautiful for Summer.

Dab and Delirium are my picks from the new Cream Pigment range… lovely, wearable shades.

Atomic is a hot non-hooker pink lipstick (£15.50) that I was excited to receive in my event bag… I’ll bring you a proper lip swatch v. soon.  The other lipstick, Flare is a vivid matte orange, canyousayontrend?

and for the nail polishes… Bacterium was going down a storm with nearly everyone.  The metallic putty shade flashes with pearlescent blue to give it an edge and Radium is just retina-searingly awesome!

Swatches of my picks of the collection…

Now, one thing that WOULD have also made my pick were it not for the fact that I DIDN’T NOTICE IT in it’s unassuming black housing is this little marvel…

Illamasqua’s NEW Precision Ink (£17.00) in Glister is a skin-toned (obv depending on whose skin!) liner packed full of purple/pink glitter pigment (v. finely milled) that’s bears more than a passing resemblance to their Static Pure Pigment that was such a hit in 2009.

The thing about this liner is that unlike most… to my eye, it gets better with age!  The more rubbed-down and worn it becomes, the more that beautiful pigment shows through… glistening… just like its namesake!

Let’s finish off with some nails…

Here’s The Claw (£35.00).  The Toxic Claw!

Terrible camera angle there which I appreciate means you can’t see the tips!  The Toxic Claw is a play on the original nail quill by Mike Pocock that involves making it look more animalistic and… well… claw-like!

And the nail polishes (£13.50)…

Big thanks to Janaka for being such an excellent hand model!

5 new polishes, 5 fingers!  Woot to Helen too for lending her fingers in the name of beauty!

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Illamasqua Toxic Nature will be launching online from the 10th March and instore from the 17th March.

For the chance to win your favourites from the range, register at Illamasqua.com and join the waiting list for your desired Toxic Nature shades.  3 winners will be sent all of the items from this wishlist!

Is there anything there that tempts you?


When Lipglossiping met Pantene’s ambassador Cat Deeley!

Posted by Lipglossiping On December - 9 - 2010

Last week, I was invited to the Savoy hotel in London to meet Pantene ambassador Cat Deeley and to learn a little more about the new Pantene range for coloured hair.

Before heading up to London, I was asked if I had any questions I wanted to put to Cat.  Without hesitation I wanted to ask who her ‘Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be….” would be?  Then I remembered that I write a beauty blog, not a StarsInYourEyes fan blog.  So more on what I actually did ask her later…

I’ve talked before about the new Pantene Colour Protect range and you can read this post for further details on the products that are currently available in the UK… but tonight, we focused on meeting the brand’s ambassador and seeing the differences between virgin hair (uncoloured), coloured hair and coloured hair once treated with the new Pantene Colour Seal Concentrate (not released yet).

The results were surprisingly tangible.  We watched a demonstration of hair porosity…. and as someone who has (many times) in the past coloured her hair without giving any thought as to what long term affects this might have, perhaps a little sobering aswell.

The hair in the bowl on the left is virgin (uncoloured) hair, whilst the bowl nearest to the camera contains a sample of coloured hair.  Can you see how the virgin hair retains it’s waterproofing abilities that allows it to float whilst the coloured hair has literally swelled with the water and is no longer resting on the surface?

Well who cares right?  Well, me… because hair porosity is important to how hair looks and feels.  Frequent colouring can encourage the hair cuticle layers to stay raised… allowing more moisture in and ultimately letting more out, which leaves your hair feeling dry, brittle and pretty rubbish.  The rougher the cuticle, the less shiny your hair will appear and if you want silky, smooth locks?  Forget it.  You’re only getting those with a nice smooth hair cuticle.

The new Pantene Colour Seal Concentrate creates an artificial protective layer over our hair’s natural cuticle that mimics how our hair should be if we didn’t mistreat it.  I felt the difference between untreated and treated coloured hair and one was considerably smoother in texture.  The other good thing about the Pantene Colour Seal Concentrate is that you only need to use this about once a week as it’s effects will last a few washes before you need to reapply.

I haven’t tried this on my own hair as it’s not released until next month but I’m all for quick fixes and this seems like it could be just the ticket.  If it’s good enough for Cat Deeley (who happened to let slip that from the entire range, it was the Colour Seal Concentrate that was her favourite – shh), it’s good enough for me.

Once Cat had said her hellos and kicked off her beautiful (but killer) Louboutins, she got straight to answering some questions that we’d posed.  Here’s a few highlights from the Q&A:

Cat Deeley Answers our Questions!

~ She ALWAYS removes her makeup before going to sleep… without fail.  No surrender and all that.

~ She prefers to own products that multi-task rather than owning a full range (she wouldn’t like my bathroom then!)

~ She’s dyed her hair many times in the past and both brown and red hair looked terrible on her.  She also said that short hair didn’t suit either.

~ Her top tip for staying healthy is drinking plenty of water.  Cat says that a reduced water intake has so many effects on her health, skin and body – so it’s something that she’s become quite conscious of improving.

~ She believes that it’s easier to keep healthy in L.A. than it is here in the U.K.  Whenever she’s in the U.K. (especially this time of year!) she wants to chow down on stodgy, comforting food.  No salads please!

Finally, Cat answered my question “Who has more fun, blondes or brunettes?”

Her eyes twinkled as she took in the words, and she grinned… aware that she could potentially offend half the room in one fell swoop!  Her answer was clear though… “Blondes!”  Cat followed up by explaining that you can only have fun when you feel comfortable in your own skin (or hair colour!) and that for her, that was her tried and tested honey blonde.  Nice save!

I spent a few minutes appreciating the newly refurbished Royal Suite at the Savoy… check out the view from pretty much every room.

I wouldn’t grumble about having to clean those windows.  Well… actually, I probably still would.

After this, I headed straight for hair stylist, James McMahon to pump him for extra tips on the perfect blow dry that we’re all so desperate to recreate.  James was straight to the point, reiterating how hard it was to achieve by yourself simply because the angles are all wrong!  I was happy to let him demonstrate on me what a perfect blow dry should look like.  I know, I’m too good to you… SELF-LESS.

Look at me, taking one for the team… I hope you’re grateful.

So, with my blow-dry questions exhausted, James talked a little about coloured hair.  I asked him if he felt it was really necessary to use specialist shampoos and conditioners for coloured hair?  He told me that nothing damages your hair more than the thing that you do ‘most’ to it.  In the majority of cases… that would be washing our hair and that if our hair is already fragile from over-processing then we should ensure that we’re using a shampoo and conditioner designed to care for our coloured hair.

I then asked James if you could pick and choose from a set range.  I explained that my scalp is ridiculously sensitive and that I generally prefer to stick to tried and tested shampoos that I know won’t aggravate my picky scalp.  He said that there would be nothing wrong with just choosing to use the treatments from a range or intensive conditioners if you didn’t want to change over your entire haircare regime.

With those wise words ringing in my ears, I’m swapping out my usual conditioner for Pantene’s 2 Minute Damage Rescue Treatment and after feeling the difference between the hair samples demonstrated earlier in the evening… I’m impatient for the Pantene Colour Seal Concentrate to become available too!

I’mma gonna get those bloody hair cuticles flat if it kills me!  I want Cat hair!  That’s it.  The gloves are off… only I’m fighting in the brunette corner.

‘Cos brunettes have more fun.  Innit! ;)

Schwarzkopf Palette – An afternoon at the Schwarzkopf Academy

Posted by Lipglossiping On December - 7 - 2010

I’ve been dying my hair since the age of 14… first pillar box reds and harsh blacks – anything to be different which was ironic really, considering I used to simultaneously do anything I could to fade into the background.

At the age of 17, I discovered my first grey hair… and since then, they’ve been coming in thick and fast.  I now dye my hair (roots) every 8 weeks or so to keep on top of it.

I attended a masterclass at the Schwarzkopf Academy back in October.  It was focused on their Palette range of home hair colourants and aimed to demonstrate the very best way to achieve great results at home.

Let me show you a video from the afternoon (if you spot me, please ignore the horrendously unflattering camera angle… it’s not my seven chins, it’s the bloody angle alright?)

I’ve found the Schwarzkopf Palette dye gives a beautifully natural and glossy result.  It’s not particularly different to anything else I’ve tried in terms of application although I found that it was a tough cookie in terms of staining… definitely a little harder to remove than my normal product.  It was also a lot less ammonia-stinky than my normal Superdrug hair dye… a welcome discovery!

My favourite thing about the Schwarzkopf Palette formula though is that I don’t get the “Lego Hair” thing that I usually notice with home hair dyes.  Are we all familiar with “Lego Hair”?  That horribly obvious single block of colour that screams “I’ve just given myself a cheap home hair-dye job!”.  The Schwarzkopf Palette range appears to melt into my own natural highlights and lowlights instead of overwriting the lot.

Freshly coloured hair, what a lovely feeling!

Some tips I learned from the day:

– Wash your hair if it’s greasy or full of oil-based product (hairspray/mousse is ok)
– Apply your hair dye to the point of saturation (one of the biggest mistakes people make is not using enough product)
– Custom mix your colours – it’s far easier than I imagined to create a personalised shade!
– You can’t lighten pre-coloured dark hair
– Grey hair needs extra processing time
– Use moisturiser to protect the skin or vaseline, but don’t get any vaseline on your hair or the colour won’t take.
– There’s no need to shampoo after dying unless you want to.
– To protect your clothes, use a bin liner with a hole cut in it for your head!
– Section off your roots and concentrate the colour there.  You can smoosh the ends in to ensure they get even coverage later.

Schwarzkopf Palette comes in a range of 12 shades from a light natural blonde right through to black.  It’s available instore at Boots, Superdrug and some supermarkets priced at around £3.49 – bargain!

HQ Hair introduces me to David Scheffen…

Posted by Lipglossiping On December - 4 - 2010

…and thank GOD!

Last Tuesday, I attended an event at HQ Hair’s very own hair & beauty store in the heart of central London.  It’s an oasis of pampering conveniently located just off Regents Street with the added benefit of a storefront offering your favourite HQ Hair brands.

I was delighted to see so many brands on the shelves!  There’s not too many places you can pick up Mario Badescu, Yonka, Alpha H, Murad, Bare Escentuals, Paul & Joe, Philosophy, Fusion Beauty and much more… all under the same roof!

Because the Salon is located to the rear of the store, it doesn’t feel like you’re walking into a hairdressers.  You don’t feel out of place if you just want to visit for a browse.  Even better, if you’re in there getting a new colour or a trim… you don’t have the general public checking out your ‘no makeup face’ while they’re doing their shopping!  The two areas are zoned well.

I visited the store before when I came for a haircut back in June.  I’m sniggering to myself as I write this next bit because I dragged my husband along with me having just spent a couple of hours doing some serious debit card damage in Selfridges.  Poor Mr L was relieved it was all over.  Little did he know there was another shopping opportunity waiting for me at the salon!

But anyway… let me tell you a little bit about the lovely David Scheffen who came along to meet a group of very cold and slightly bedraggled bloggers on a snowy Tuesday evening.

I should warn you now that I’m actually his #1 fan girl.  It’s genuinely embarrassing.  I giggled and stumbled over my words… I may even have snorted when I laughed.  I’ve since gone as far as to ask Mr. L if I could please have a David Scheffen for Christmas.

Let me explain… I don’t always have a lot of luck with makeup artists.  I’m not great at coherent speech in social situations… what I want, what I’m trying to achieve… well it rarely comes across well in conversation, which results (quite rightly) in me walking away with advice I don’t care about and a look I hate.

Not. This. Time.

“What’s that?” I asked, as he swivelled up one of the NARS Multiples.

“St. Barts” he said (in his endearing French accent).

“I have that!!” I exclaimed, getting all excited… like he was going to give me A* for owning it or something.  “But I can’t make it work for me…” my lips continued to move as I expressed to Francois’ right hand man what a dumbass I was at applying makeup.  Smooth.

David looked surprised and explained that the cool toasted-taupe shimmer should work well on my colouring and I agreed… it’s one of those products that tick all the right boxes.  In theory.

Forty seconds later and the magic has been done, quick fingers transferring product from stick to skin with an effortless grace that I could only dream of emulating.  It looked good.  Really good.

A little on my cheeks, a touch along my browbone and a speck (or two) along the line of my cupids bow.  I didn’t look bronzed, I just looked… healthy.  The trick, he explained “…is to always build up to the level you require”.

“I know that!” I thought to myself… “But I can’t help being heavy handed!” Reading my mind (I told you he was good), David explained that tapping the product onto my skin with my fingers would result in a more controlled application.

Not only does that work 100x better for me but I now can’t stop applying this product to my cupids bow.  It has the desirable effect of making my top lip look instantly fuller and defined.

“And now for my next trick!” announced David, reaching into his top hat (ok, I made that bit up).

I was totally at ease in his company.  He has a light, affable manner with a generous side-serving of wicked humour which resulted in me being brave enough to admit something a little shameful.

“I don’t know where to apply my blusher.”  Then, in the hope that it would make the previous statement seem slightly less retarded… “Does it really make a difference where you apply on different face shapes?”

“Absolutely!”

Placing two finger widths parallel to the side of his nose, David explained that the area covered by his fingers was a no-fly zone.  “Don’t apply blusher too close to your nose… it doesn’t look natural and isn’t flattering for you”.  I thought of all the times I’d grinned at myself in the mirror, applying my blusher EXACTLY where he’d just described whilst thinking I was hitting the ‘apple of the cheek’ bullseye.

He patiently showed me where I should concentrate the colour for my face shape (widest at the cheeks and quite pronounced.  Hamster podge).  I’ve artfully constructed a little diagram.  Don’t laugh.

I’ve found that if I keep my initial application focused right within that small dotted area, I get a natural (and less overdone) flush that detracts attention from the fleshier ‘apples’ and leaves my face looking more contoured.  I can hear angels singing Hallelujah.

Once blended, the area of ‘flush’ is larger than shown above and I tend to blend back toward the hairline and down toward the hollow.  It felt alien to me at first… mostly because of how high I’m applying but it’s definitely a better method for my face shape.  It’s only taken me 29 years to get that one right!

The makeup maestro at work!

He also had a message for you guys…  “Wear more purple eyeshadows.  Women are too intimidated by purple.”

You have to love him for that alone.  But you can’t.  ‘Cos he’s mine.

For more David-related goings on, keep a close eye on the HQ Hair blog as the HQ Girls get to regularly feature his tips, tricks and looks.  I think they keep him locked up in the beauty cupboard.  Lucky things.

HQ Hair & Beauty Salon,
2 New Burlington Street
W1S 2JE
0871 220 4141 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              0871 220 4141      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Notes from a (very) Small Island

Posted by Lipglossiping On August - 12 - 2010

Apologies to Bill Bryson for completely bastardizing his wonderful book title, but it stuck in my head and I couldn’t clear it for love nor chocolate.

I hope you’re sitting comfortably… this is gonna be a long one!

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of visiting the Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare HQ on the Isle of Wight.  The island is a stones throw from where I live in Hampshire… but I’ve only ever visited once before, and that was for a work trip that started at 9pm and finished at 6am.  I didn’t even get to see daybreak!  So, to say that I was excited at the prospect of revisiting is a bit of an understatement.

Stepping off the catamaran and onto Ryde pier was like stepping back in time.  Literally!  The trains they use to transfer passengers between the ferry landing point and the esplanade are 1980’s London Tube stock, complete with original upholstery.

Thankfully, the Liz Earle HQ is a little more modern!

Nicknamed “The Greenhouse” because of it’s ECO credentials, the building is heated and cooled thanks to some nifty geothermal technology and the loos are flushed with rainwater harvested from the roof!  The company even boasts a Green Team whose role is to oversee and brainstorm as many avenues as possible to ensure that Liz Earle as a company are leaving the lightest ecological footprints possible.

Our first stop was the Fulfilment Centre which takes up a huge area on the ground floor of the building.  This department alone employs over 130 people who handwrap each and every order that comes in.  There wasn’t a computerised ‘wrapping’ machine in sight!

I was keeping a very close eye on how those cylindrical bottles of Cleanse and Polish were being wrapped, but hands were moving far too quickly for my brain to process the steps!

The packaging and picking process is closely monitored at each stage so that any subsequent problems can be traced back to the source and addressed.  We were shown how similar-looking products can occasionally be confused by the picker if they’re placed too close to one another on the shelves.  With thousands of orders leaving the department each week, the fulfilment centre need to keep ontop of things and provide instant solutions to potential problems.

A picker completing the orders that were still flooding in just minutes before home time!

All the neatly wrapped products ready for picking and dispatch… I don’t know about you… but I’d struggle to tell them apart!

The staff in the fulfilment centre are frequently rotated to different stations and given different tasks to avoid common ‘factory’ problems such as R.S.I. – the atmosphere was jovial, though I think the sight of a bunch of (slightly-in-awe) bloggers taking such interest in their wrapping skills was the source of much amusement!

We followed up with a visit to the island store (spot for many a pilgrimage for die-hard Liz Earle fans!).  Union on Union Street in Ryde is a teeny tiny boutique store.  Barely bigger than my guest bedroom, but an absolute haven amongst the bustle of the other high street shops.  Despite it’s bijou appearance, they’ve paid clear attention to detail and design.  There’s a little station for hand and arm massages (as shown above) and an area complete with sink where customers can get a feel for the products they’re contemplating.

The well stocked shelves are inviting with all products displayed clearly.

A place to try the products… something more skincare companies should implement in their stores.

I could have spent a couple of hours in there, but our itinerary was busy and we were whisked back to The Greenhouse to continue on our ‘backstage’ tour!

Next stop was the 1st floor where we were able to say a quick hello to Jennifer Hirsch.  Surely, one of the most influential women at The Greenhouse… Jennifer is Liz Earle’s Botanical Research Manager responsible for researching the best quality botanical ingredients and working closely with the Product Development team to ensure that those ingredients end up in our products!  Fresh back from a research trip to Switzerland, alpine plants seem to be the flavour of the month with the Product Development lot!

I was also interested to learn from the PD team that Liz Earle rarely discontinue products.  Which means that they have to be cautious and careful to ensure they only create products that will enjoy a long term position within the product family.  Infact, the only product ever discontinued was a popular self-tanner that they decided to withdraw once legislation demanded one of the ingredients be animal tested.  Rather than comply and deviate from their ethical policies and commitment to no animal testing, they withdrew the product without delay.

The ongoing theme within the company, apparent every step of the way is their attention to detail.  It’s a meticulousness that transcends the everyday and culminates with the factoid that EVERYTHING is approved by joint founder Kim Buckland before being signed off.  From product placement through to signage, nothing gets the go ahead without being given the once over by the co-founder.  It’s a tight ship, but one that seems to be paying dividends.

A couple of the “thank you” cards on display in the Customer Centre which handles calls from all over the world and employs a crew of women who work late into the night to accommodate phonecalls from the U.S. and Canada.

The call centre staff are trained to offer general advice on skincare, botanical ingredients knowledge, product information, details about the Liz Earle philosophy and have even been known to impart a little local tourist advice to customers keen to make the pilgrimage!

One of the curios in the Customer Centre!  How dreadful is that old packaging?!  And it’s only from the late 90s… The turquoise is a slight improvement no?!

Enough of The Greenhouse!

It was time to meet the brand’s namesake at the Cleanse & Polish 15th Anniversary customer event!

The view from Biskra Beach House is pretty stunning.  You can see where the inspiration for the turquoise colour scheme came from!

The Beach House was the original setting for the company’s rise to success.  They only left these HQs for the purpose built Greenhouse a couple of years ago and the staff who have been there long enough to have worked at both locations had nothing but fond memories of working in such a beautiful setting.

The location quickly filled with locals who had been selected from the customer database and invited to come along and join in the celebrations.  The mood was uplifting and it was hard to suppress a smile at the good humour and banter that could be heard throughout the house and garden.  The average age of attendee was definitely toward the more mature end of the scale, which is probably a fair reflection of the brand’s supporters.  It was good to see a true representation… not the trendiest bunch of party goers, but definitely some of the most friendly!

There was an audible gasp and a crack of excitement in the air when Liz arrived to address the waiting guests.  She spoke informally for a while, thanking her guests and sharing some anecdotes from the brand’s past before making herself available to sign books and chat on a one to one basis.

We were led to an upstairs lounge to meet Liz who despite the hustle and bustle downstairs had put aside a surprising amount of time to chat with the three of us about her brand, it’s history and future visions.  She didn’t shy away from questions… and was happy to explain the brand’s decisions to use paraben preservatives and synthetic sandalwood oils.

We also discussed the recent partnership with Avon.  Liz was quick to assert that Avon would be indispensable in their quest to move the brand into wider global markets (China was mentioned) and that Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare needed a partner with the knowledge and infrastructure that would allow such a transition.

Liz is a woman who’s fiercely protective of the brand she’s helped to create.  She (more than anyone) recognises that it’s this previously mentioned attention to detail, commitment to customer service and the island from which the brand was born, independent attitude and ethical philosophies that are the foundations to their success.  These things aren’t about to change for anyone, no matter how deep their pockets.

The Body Shop Event & New Product Highlights

Posted by Lipglossiping On July - 9 - 2010

Let me give you a quick rundown of The Body Shop event I attended a couple of weeks ago… I’ll point out a few new product highlights, but the full reviews will come soon!

Cupcakes and makeup, it doesn’t get much better than this!  8 eye colours, 4 face products… all baked and very pretty indeed!

Superfluous… but look what Cosmetic-Candy made me!

She presented it to me really sweetly, but then turned nasty.  “Eat it then”… “Go on, I MADE IT for you”.  Proper sinister like….

I didn’t want to stuff my face with cake it infront of all my blogging peers!  Can you SEE how many Smarties the bitch piled on it?  It’s totally clear to me that she just wanted to sabotage my street cred and watch me throw smarties all over myself and the floor whilst looking like a greedy fat bitch infront of everyone.

When she wasn’t looking, I hid it behind a bottle of shampoo.

Chase Aston worked his magic on two delightfully beautiful models.  Here he is, demonstrating one of the new Bronzers from the Baked to Last summer collection.

Such amazing skin!

The Baked to Last Lineup…

I’ve already vented my spleen on the new Body Shop Baked to Last Eye Colours…. they don’t do it for me at all.

But the blushes and bronzers?  A different story altogether.  I’m really enjoying using them.  I’m writing my review now, but it’s still in draft… watch this space!

New Haircare!

Yes!  The Body Shop’s beloved haircare range is getting a revamp with a view to being more ECO Friendly… this means, no silicones, colourants or parabens – thereby protecting aquatic life from our toxic haircare that we flush down the drains daily.  Also coming soon will be new Hair Butters, intense nourishment built along the same lines as their current top sellers, the Body Butters!

The ever-popular Vitamin C range will have to squeeze up and make some room for these new inclusions!

New additions include: Eye Reviver Duo (double ended wand for instant pick-me-ups!), Skin Radiance Capsules, Skin Radiance Powder Mix (super innovative) and Microdermabrasion.

It was a lovely afternoon and good to hear about and discover all the new things that The Body Shop are planning to roll out over the next few months.  I’ll be back with further reviews on the products very soon!

Home Shopping Uncovered… Inside QVC…

Posted by Lipglossiping On July - 4 - 2010

Hmmm… that makes this post sound far more dramatic and exciting than it actually is.

Perhaps if myself and VexintheCity hadn’t been gently chaperoned to the exit when it was time to go home, I’d have had the opportunity to ‘lose myself’ and run around QVC HQ in a style akin to Mission Impossible… camera flailing… whilst being chased by 3 burly security guards and papping Dale, (the ‘Housewive’s Choice’) secretly devouring all the biscuits in the QVC kitchen.

Not that it wasn’t exciting or interesting… It was!  But the one thing that struck me above all else was simply how quiet and relaxed the place was.  Now, I know we arrived after ‘home time’ for most, so the offices were understandably peaceful… but the live studios were also incredibly relaxed, almost serene.

Anyway, let’s have a look around…

The offices… where all the model booking, show planning, product organising and general adminy stuff takes place.

The prep room!  Like a well-oiled machine… all the trolleys get stacked with products relevant to the show they’re destined to appear in.  This is the beauty trolley for that evening’s 10 o’clock airing.  I spy Decleor, Nails Inc, Bare Escentuals and other lovely things.

The prep Kitchen!  They were showcasing utensils and a range of cookware.  Gotta have some food to put in ’em right?  It was HOT in there, but the gorgeous foodie aromas that were wafting down the corridor were immense!

Check me out, I done a panoramamama!  What a geek! (Click the picture to see it LARGE)

This is one of the studios (I forget which number – there’s 6 in total I think).  QVC headquarters and studios will be relocating in the next couple of years to Chiswick.  Their current location was never supposed to be permanent, though they’ve been there 17 yrs now!

The building they’re in wasn’t designed to house studios.  Natural light floods in from the atrium above and needs to be blacked out and checked before they go live each time, which obviously isn’t ideal.

Oh, oh, oh!  We got to stand behind the cameras whilst a show was going out live!  Mobile phones OFF and super quiet creeping about was the order of the day.  At one point, I had to physically restrain VexintheCity who admitted an overwhelming urge to run infront of the camera waving her arms about like some day-release.  I would have TOTALLY pretended not to know her.

As I said earlier, the studios were really quiet…. even the live ones.  Imagine it… big room, two presenters, 1 floor manager (have I made that job title up?) and 1 camera man.  That’s it.  Eerie!  It was pure QVC cheese too… I loved it.  Jilly Halliday was demonstrating some funky *cough* clothing, whilst Dale Franklin was asserting his charm over the nation’s ladies, encouraging us to part with our cash for some of the latest and greatest jewellery on display.  Flippin’ fabulous!

Control Room/Production-y bit…. Like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise!  Lots of buttons…. wanted to dive forward and press a couple.  Accidentally slip and sit on about 20 at once, you know the score.  I behaved myself.

This lady was watching Dale do the jewellery presentation… she was nice.  Are you still with me?  Hello?  Hellooo?

After all that tour excitement, we retired upstairs to where Bare Escentuals had set up a little room to give us a sneak preview of their new (to the UK) matte foundation.  I’d had the pleasure of meeting their national makeup artist SJ previously but it was good to see her work her magic again.

Bare Escentuals Matte is due for release on QVC on the 10th July… we were given a sample, but I’ve already got a pot (in a better colour match) that I scored in a blog sale a month ago.  I promise to review it before it releases over here (tick tock).  It’s a great alternative for those among us who like the idea of mineral makeup but dislike the dewy finish that minerals tend to give.  I predict it’s gonna be a big seller throughout the Summer.

SJ getting to work on the beautiful Keren who’s currently guest blogging for Lindsey at Beauty Mecca.

And the finished result.  Subtle but flawless.

.

It was a fabulously fun evening and a real change from the norm for me.  I hope you enjoyed a little sneak peek behind the scenes.  Don’t forget, it’s beauty month at QVC… there’s lots of tempting TSVs coming up and check out the Bare Escentuals big Matte launch day on the 10th July.

.

For more info on what you can expect from QVC’s Beauty Month, watch this video with Alison Young below:

Channeling my inner um… Dusty?

Posted by Lipglossiping On June - 23 - 2010

Yeah… I thought ‘Twiggy’ might be pushing it a bit.

Thursday is Aussie night… Which as you can see…

…is 60s night!

I’ve been getting in the mood for Thursday by listening to the classics…

and…

Would you lovely ladies mind sharing your favourite 60s makeup tutorials and looks that you’ve come across?  I know that some of you are confirmed You Tube addicts… eh Liloo?

I’d love to have a go at recreating a 60s inspired look for the evening!

The Liz Earle Skincare Tutorial

Posted by Lipglossiping On May - 31 - 2010

Last week while I was up in London, I was invited along to the Liz Earle store just off Sloane Square to experience one of their Skincare Tutorials.

Despite being completely addicted to all things beauty, I was genuinely surprised when I found myself struggling to answer the first question that Jo (the Treatments Manager) posed me.

“What do you like least about your skin?”

It’s not that I don’t have problems with my skin… it’s just that after 28 years, I’ve made peace with them.  Or so I thought…

She waited patiently as I desperately scoured the confines of my psyche searching for a string of nouns and adjectives that I could string together in a suitable response.  When suddenly, something shifted and before I knew it, I couldn’t stop myself as issue after issue spilled from my lips and damn near flooded the treatment room.

“Redness!  Uneveness!  Dry Bits!  Oily Bits!  Dullness!”

Woah there Nelly!  Jo looked slightly bemused but remained completely composed as I leaned in to show off the redness across my cheeks and nose.

“Ilooklikeadrunk, isitrosacea? OMGamIgonnagetrosacea?” I gasped, suddenly panicked at the thought of replacing all my lovely creamy concealers with industrial tattoo coverup.

By this point, I was probably flaring at the nostrils like some over-tried, sweaty race horse.  To her credit, Jo remained ever-relaxed and soothing as she examined my skin closely.

I was ‘diagnosed’ with ‘diffused redness’ and was assured that this was NOT the same as Rosacea and nor was it necessarily a sign that I was gonna develop the common skin problem, especially as I have no family history of the condition.  It did, however, mean that my skin is in a state of sensitivity, irritation and inflammation.

“OMGLIKE… WHATCANIDO?” I wanted to exclaim… though I think I retained a teeny bit more street cred that that would imply.

Jo gave me a 1 month action plan to kickstart some serious healing… and I was all ears:

1) Drink plenty of water and Green Tea (anti-oxidants)

2). Include some anti-inflammatory foods in my diet (Salmon, Turmeric, Papaya, Brocolli, Sweet Potato) and perhaps even supplement with something like garlic tablets (a well known anti-inflammatory).

3). Aim to use skincare that contains vitamin E, which she described as the best anti-oxidant available.

4). Make sure the water I use isn’t too warm, be gentle and use as little water as possible in my cleansing routine.

Ok, I need to interject here….  Ahem.  A proposition nightmares are made of for me!

5). Be GENTLE with my skin when cleansing and don’t over stimulate the areas affected by redness

I’m gonna give her advice a go and see if I can get my skin happy with me again.

She also highlighted a few Liz Earle products that she believes will be beneficial to my particular concerns and demonstrated exactly how best to make them work for me.  There was no hard sell, and infact… Jo focused upon my lifestyle choices that may be triggering my skin sensitivity more than anything else.

I really enjoyed the skincare tutorial, a personal service that allowed me to discuss my concerns was a truly welcome experience.  It’s priced at £45 for 45 minutes and I think it would make a fantastic birthday gift for a sister, daughter or other close relative.  Infact, how much would I have loved this as a teenager?

I still have the Nokia 5110 that my parent’s gave me for my birthday back in 1998.  I wonder if they’d mind exchanging it for another session with Jo… I could have chatted for hours!  You can read some of Jo’s skincare tips here.

Une Natural Beauty Cosmetics

Posted by Lipglossiping On May - 16 - 2010

Yesterday I went along to the Bourjois Press Office in central London to have a look at a new line of cosmetics that have been launched exclusively to Boots in the UK.

Une Natural Beauty is a new brand backed by Bourjois. The main focus of the brand is on it’s natural and eco-credentials.  The brand’s formulas are 98% – 100% derived from natural origin, contain no oils from petrochemistry and are paraben and silicone free.  14 out of the 20 products carry the French ECOCERT label which means that the products adhere to strict ecological and environmental regulations and standards.  You can find out more about the ECOCERT label here.

Une Natural Beauty is a brand for those who take a keen interest in ingredients and the environmental impact their cosmetics may carry with them and simply want to discover a more natural way to wear makeup.

This is all great stuff and frankly an exciting concept for a new high street brand, but only if the products are as good as the philosophy behind them right?  I chose a few products from the range to bring home with me to have a play with and I’ll share my thoughts on them (and some of the products I didn’t choose) later in the week.

For now, I thought you might like to see some photos from the unveiling.

Beware… it’s image intensive beyond this point!

Read the rest of this entry »

The Body Shop – Celebrating 22 years of Community Trade

Posted by Lipglossiping On March - 5 - 2010

In March 1976, the late Dame Anita Roddick founded The Body Shop in Littlehampton – a small seaside town on the South coast of England.  Fast forward 34 years to the present day and The Body Shop now boasts the second largest cosmetic franchise in the world.

I went along to The Westbury Hotel in Mayfair last week to hear a presentation on behalf of The Body Shop who are currently celebrating 22 years of community trade across the globe.  From India to Namibia, Guatemala to Samoa the world is their garden and as a company, they want us to know that they’re taking measures to protect it and the lives it supports.

It’s currently Fairtrade Fortnight (22nd Feb – 7th Mar) and The Body Shop were keen to highlight and explain exactly what Community Trade (CT) means and what it involves.

4 of the 6000 women that make up the Eudafano Women’s Cooperative (EWC) in Namibia.  The EWC supplies  The Body Shop wih Marula Oil (used in nearly all their cosmetics).

Community Trade works along the same principles as Fair Trade, but was established back in 1987 before the Fair Trade mark was available or had indeed become fashionable.  From what I understood, the main difference is that the foundations of fair trade are laid much deeper in the CT program and work to support the producer’s whole community, not just the producers themselves.  The Body Shop also made it clear that they never enter CT relationships for the short term and only commit to sustainable trading relationships that help affect real social change.

Click play on the video below to learn more about The Body Shop’s involvement with Community Trade:

Two of The Body Shop’s major CT suppliers were in attendance and it was a rare and interesting opportunity to hear how their involvement with The Body Shop affects the communities and co-operatives they represent.  It became clear very quickly that the democratic relationship between the ‘industries’ was a precious one to both parties.

Whilst I was sitting there, the antagonist in me kept thinking “What do The Body Shop get out of these CT arrangements when it means they have to pay more for their ingredients?”.  Thankfully, Christina from The Body Shop didn’t shy away from that subject and explained that it is simply expected of them to uphold the core values that, as a company, they’ve always claimed to represent.  Community Trade allows them to continue their commitments to trading with a conscience whilst benefiting from the (often ancient) knowledge of real experts and assured quality products.

I’m willing to admit that in the past, I’ve accused The Body Shop products of being overpriced and in comparison to products I can buy in other high street stores, they are.  I still may only be able to afford to treat myself to my Olive Glossing Shampoo & Conditioner when I’m feeling flush, but I will now hand over my money with a degree of contentment.  It’s good to know that every purchase made contributes to making a real and sustained difference to communities.  Communities that without the CT backing by The Body Shop would be powerless to break into global markets or risk plundering by unethical industry.

Aussie Event – Girls Night Out – 3/12/2009

Posted by Lipglossiping On December - 11 - 2009

The third and final event for us lucky Aussie Angels (can I just keep calling myself that forever?) went off with a bang last Thursday night.

We were invited up to London to sample the capital’s nightlife.  Mahiki played host for the evening and the venue didn’t disappoint.  A tiki-esque hideout in the heart of Mayfair, Mahiki ticks all the right boxes.

My friend Vicky and I jumped on the train congratulating each other on how lightly we’d managed to pack for a night away… infact we were congratulating each other so vigorously talking so much that we very nearly got left on the platform.

Arriving in London with little time to spare, we headed straight for the Hilton at Kensington Olympia where Aussie had generously put us up for the night.  I managed to check us in without getting escorted off the premises for being a pair of scruffy oiks and we settled into our room to get ready for the festivities ahead!

Despite best intentions, we still managed to be late.  Vicky has always been the laid back one in our friendship.  Me? Well I was running round in full-on mentalist mode, arms in the air like a certain white rabbit out of Alice in Wonderland with echoes of “late, late! we’re going to be late!” reverberating around the room.

“Relax”. says Vicky, “You are so uncool”.  Like I need telling.

I felt a 100x better when we got on the tube at Olympia and met up with Hayles and Zoe who were also staying at the hotel and heading to the Aussie event.  If you can’t avoid being late… find as many people as possible who are also late and hide behind them.  It’s a philosophy I’m proud to call my own.

We were greeted at the club by a photographer (who I somehow managed to resist asking nerdy camera questions, I was *sorely* tempted to ask for some flash bouncing tips) and the lovely Emma from 1000heads.

We were lead downstairs into the cavernous depths of Mahiki and emerged blinking into a Polynesian paradise!  I was given a little black box which when opened revealed some lovely makeup goodies, the inimitable Aussie 3 Minute Miracle and a handbag hanger (I’m a little uncultured and had to be told what the hell it was before I embarrassed everybody by trying to pick my nose with it or something.)

aussiestar

Then it was Mojito time!! Followed by Pina Colada time!! Washed down with a couple of Mahiki Mai Tais and topped off with a Tiki Dick’s Super Space Martini.  By this time I’d forgotten how to pronounce my own name let alone the names of the cocktails.  Needless to say, they were very yummy and each one more enticing than the last.

pina

Highlights of the evening? Semi-naked waiter – oh so tacky, and I’m absolutely not going to admit to perving.  (why have you put him down as a highlight then huh?)  Close-up magician – superbly charming and very talented, too much fun!  And treasure chests filled with an intoxicating mix of champagne, rum and a brandy and peach liqueur.

treasurechest

magician

It was brilliant to be able to catch up with old friends and meet some friendly new faces too!

aussie1

Alas, all good things must come to an end and as the night drew to a close the exertions of the day were catching up with me.  I bid my friends (new and old) adieu and headed back to the hotel.

Waking up the next morning I wasn’t sure which hurt more, my head or my neck (crick)… here have a photo.  If nothing else, it’s an advertisement for teetotalness.

themorningafter

The rest of the next day was spent shopping and mooching around town.  But I’ll tell you more about that in another post!

Credit for some of the photos goes to Sam and Zoe – I can’t seem to get mine off Vicky’s mobile – argh!

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