Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Do the twist

Currently taking the US by storm, new Twist-n-Roll Tweezers are the first easy-to-master alternative to facial threading that you can use at home. You simply hold onto the coil’s handles, bend them downwards to form a ‘U’ shape, place the top of the coil on the offending hair-ridden area and then twist the handles in an outwards motion. The process pulls out the unwanted hairs effectively at the root, doesn’t cause any redness and can even be used without a mirror. But yes, it does hurt a fair bit. Available for UK via Facialwork.com for $14.99 

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Lounge lover

I don't come across many luxury salons that are dedicated to nails alone, so Tillie's Nail Lounge in London's Little Venice is a real find. Owned by nail lover Tillie Fredericks and managed by nail pro Shreen Gayle who's worked for some of the industry's finest, the salon has only been open four months but is already a staunch for its loyal clientele. Inside, the French country-inspired d├ęcor provides a relaxing backdrop for its services with antique furniture, whitewashed floorboards and fresh lilies. The menu includes a variety of treatments including luxe manicures and pedicures as well as enhancements; I went for a Shellac Manicure which offers flawless nail colour that stays chip-free for two whole weeks. Best of all though, after you've finished, you can help your nails dry with a walk along the canal which boasts some of the capital's most beautiful waterside views. Bliss. 

Tillie's is open from Tues to sunday with late appointments on Tues, Weds and Thursdays. Prices start at £15 for a hand shape and paint. Tilliesnaillounge.com    

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Easy DIY nail art

If you want to try out creating some easy nail art, I can’t recommend US brand Precision’s stripers enough. They come in a range of rainbow colours and have an ultra thin brush so you can create neat shapes. I had a go at the stripes above (using OPI’s What’s With The Catitude? as a base and Precision’s Your Royal Highness for the lines). It took about five minutes to add the extra stripes, and while they’re not that neat, I’m sure after a second and third attempt I’ll get the hang of it! Try it for yourself: Parksideprecision.com 

Friday, 9 July 2010

Product news: Evo haircare

I've just received this box of super cute hair goodies by Aussie brand Evo. In the process of launching on our shores, its creator promises to have cut the usual product marketing bullshit to create a innovative haircare line that's fresh, edgy and actually works.  I love the quirky product descriptions and 'Poorganic' line. Look out for it cropping up in every cool consumer magazine and East End salon very soon - this is definitely a brand to watch.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Sunbeds: not as bad as you might think?

Just when you thought the sunbed industry had almost reached its demise after being blighted over the years by extremely bad press, it seems that basking under artificial UV rays (and sunbathing) might not be as bad as was once thought. 

To recap – Cancer Research UK and The Sunbed Association (TSA) have long been at loggerheads about the health benefits and dangers of sunbeds (the first has always been forthright in issuing warnings that overuse increases the danger of melanoma, while the latter has always stood its ground about the benefits of ‘sunshine nutrient’ Vitamin D).

Now however it looks as though the positive aspects of UV exposure have come to light for both parties following news that Cancer Research UK plans to change its advice from telling people to 'cover up completely' to 'wait several minutes in the sun before applying protective cream.'  

It’s been predicted that vitamin D deficiency costs the UK more then £27billion each year – while smoking costs £6billion - with an estimated six out of ten adults affected. TSA reckons that the sun in the UK isn’t strong enough to enable us to manufacture vitamin D sufficiently for seven months out of the year, and that “responsible sunbed use could be the answer.”

Meanwhile, Oliver Gillie of the Health Research Forum agrees has issued a new peer report that reads: “It’s very difficult for anyone living in the UK to get enough vitamin D from the sun to provide them with the optimum blood level that will last through the winter. To do so you may need to expose as much of your body as possible to the sun for at least 40 minutes six days a week, but, given the number of sunless days each summer, this is not possible.”

His advice is: “Start by sunbathing without suncream to get your vitamin D and when you’ve had enough it is best to put on some clothes and a hat or move into the shade.”

Personally, while I have always sunbathed with care, I stopped using sunbeds immediately after seeing the horrified face of a dermatologist I once met to discuss my skin. I was always led to believe that the body could generate enough vitamin D from British sunshine, even on a cloudy winter day. But with so many people thought to be deficient, it’s clear that this cannot be the case. It’ll be interesting to hear Cancer Research UK’s new sun care advice along with other expert recommendations.   

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

LCN Summer Hand Cream

This Summer Hand Cream from German hand and foot specialist LCN has become a favourite of mine for relieving crepey skin. It’s small enough to fit in a handbag and comes in two gorgeous berry scents, Pomegranate and Sallow Thorn or Goji Berry and Cranberry, that really evoke summer beach holidays. Unfortunately it doesn’t contain an SPF so it can’t be used alone outside in the hot weather; but for sitting at a desk for hours on end, it’s the ideal skin treat.  

£10.30 each available at salons at Bcidirect.com 

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Hot off the press treatment review: Lava Shells Thermal Facial

I was the first journalist on the scene today to try out the new Lava Shells Thermal Facial at Harrods' Urban Retreat.

For those of you who haven't heard of Lava Shells yet, they are a relatively new alternative to hot stones used for massage and are made from recycled clamshells filled with a self heating gel. I wont go into detail now, but they are very eco-friendly and have been met by high acclaim from the beauty industry; in fact they are already used in over 500 salons and spas across the UK which is quite a feat for a product that only launched 14 months ago.

So, having seen such a success with body massage, the company has now branched out into the skincare arena. The new facial is the creation of Alison Gibbs, the co-founder of the company that heads the brand in the UK. She has over 30 years' experience as a therapist, both here and in Indonesia, and has created a treatment that's been distinctively influenced by Asian therapies. The company decided to work with little known Brit brand Spa Find whose products draw on the powers of Dead Sea minerals. And the result is a facial that‘s relaxing and pampering as well as being results-driven.

The journey begins with a shoulder massage to calm the body, progressing onto a cleanse, tone and mask. The neck and shoulders are then stimulated using the warm shells - which are smaller than the body versions and made from porcelain and crushed seashells (you can even buy a set for yourself to take home). The therapist then moves onto lymphatic drainage techniques across the face to remove toxins and then uses the power of massage to lift the skin. Finally, the procedure finishes with a scalp massage that focuses on pressure points connected to the body's most vital organs. The skin is then wiped clean with hot towels, spritzed with toner and swathed with mineral-enriched moisturiser.

Its creator says the benefits of Dead Sea minerals on the skin are quite phenomenal: there are seven key minerals in all Spa Find products so the body can take what it needs to make it brighter and revitalised.

Immediately after the facial I felt completely lifted. I'd arrived at the treatment room feeling sluggish - but despite the procedure being almost sleep-inducing, I left feeling re-energised. My skin now looks a picture of heath; the dry and uneven patches around my nose are now smooth, while my skin has a notably new all-round glow. So much so, that I've decided to go make-up free for the rest of the day.

The facial will be available from August at selected spas nationwide. Contact Shared Beauty Secrets for your nearest venue at www.sharedbeautysecrets.com

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Winning formulas: Cosmopolitan names its favourite beauty products for 2010

When it comes to product awards run by magazines, I'm often quite dubious about the authenticity of the winners - especially when those with the biggest advertising budgets often reign supreme. However, when Cosmopolitan announced the victors of its eighth Beauty Awards this morning at Kensington Roof Gardens, I was pleasantly surprised to see David and Goliath-sized brands enjoying success side by side.

Cosmo’s awards are not yet as influential as Instyle magazine’s (the one every manufacturer is dying to be recognised in). But with an expert panel including hairdresser Michael Douglas, make-up artist Lisa Eldridge and House of Fraser beauty buyer Tracy Van Heusden, you know that many of its winners are going to be this year’s must-haves.

Thousands of products were tested by the experts and voted for by thousands of readers to result in 82 awards ranging in 13 categories. My favourites include Mac Lipstick for Ultimate Lipstick; Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation for Best Tinted Moisturiser; Aromatherapy Associates Fine Line Face Oil for Best Green Skincare; Liz Earle Superskin Body Cream for Best Body Moisturiser; Tangle Tweeze for Best Hairbrush; Hi-Shi Express Tan Liquid for Best Body Self-Tan; Xen-Tan Transform Luxe for Best Gradual Tan; and Fudge Matte Hed for Best Men’s Hair Texturiser. 

After having the chance to view the trophies and winning products on plinths, attendees were given a speech from Cosmo editor Louise Court and publisher Justine Southall who unveiled the magazine’s future plans. Initiatives to grow the Cosmo brand include a heavy focus on its website – www.cosmopolitan.co.uk - as well as a revamped design. It will also be launching a free edition of the magazine for students where 250,000 copies will go out to university campuses this September. Finally, the magazine will also be announcing the winners of its Fragrance Awards in July.

And it's nice to know that it’s not just fashionistas who will benefit from bulging September issues of glossy magazines this year: beauty junkies will be treated too when Cosmo reveals the full list of its winners in a big bumper fashion and beauty issue. Better still, one lucky reader will have the chance to snap up every single product for free in a special competition. I’m told that details will be announced very soon…

Monday, 28 June 2010

Spray tan review: Celebrity Secrets

When it comes to spray tans, I haven’t exactly been lucky. One time I booked an appointment in preparation for a wedding, asked the therapist to make me as dark as possible, and ended up attending the church with a streaky Ronseal Wood Stain finish. Another time I arrived at a different salon wearing make-up, but instead of giving me something to remove it with, the therapist explained that she could simply spray over the top. I decided to follow her advice – another big mistake – and ended up with a sticky film of almost-neon orange all over my face.

So when it comes to having spray tans now, I’ve lived and learned. The product or brand you opt for is only partly of importance to the finished result; it’s actually the therapist that delivers the spray tan who holds key to whether you’ll receive a decent outcome.

When I was invited to try out a Celebrity Secrets tan at The Beauty Centre in St John’s Wood, I wasn’t expecting big things. In fact, given all my past experiences, I was a little bit apprehensive. But it turns out that I needn’t have worried.

Firstly my therapist was great at putting me at ease. I’ve never been a fan of getting nearly naked in front of a stranger, but she made me feel so comfortable that I nearly took her up on her offer of going commando so I didn’t get any pant lines. No therapist has ever suggested that before, and next time I might just take her up on it.

I’ve also realised that it’s not practical to go overboard on the colour – being of typical British complexion, asking the therapist for a natural shade rather than an all-out tan is always going to look better. So my therapist suggested using the solution that contained the lowest percentage of DHA. Subtly, as ever, is key.

The ingredients in Celebrity Secrets’ solutions are quite unique and this is the reason the owners of the Beauty Centre chose the brand over other big names on the market. It’s created using 100 per cent natural active ingredients including aloe vera and vitamins to try and counterbalance the drying effects of DHA. It’s also free from parabens, alcohol and oils. 

The first thing I noticed is that it dries very quickly. I’ve had spray tans in the past that take an age to dry and you end up with a streaky result simply because you couldn’t wait any long to get dressed. Secondly, the smell was next to completely absent. There was a slight aroma, but it was nothing like the stale biscuit scent I’ve become accustomed to – even when certain companies have claimed they’ve removed the odour – and my boyfriend never uttered a word about it (he normally complains for four days after the tan). Finally, the colour was completely natural. There wasn’t one single streak on me and my skin remained a sun-kissed hue for several days afterwards.

It’s now six days since I had my spray tan and while I’m not as white as I usually am, the colour has faded dramatically. However, I’m happy to report that the colour has come off evenly.

My skin doesn’t look dirty, it’s just faintly coloured and I’m starting to feel distinctively pale once more. Having been anti-fake tan for quite a while, this positive experience may well have put on the road to tanorexia. But if I stick to Celebrity Secrets, I know I will be OK.

Celebrity Secrets is available at over 1,000 salons nationwide. Visit Celebritysecrets.co.uk for more information.

Meanwhile, if you live in London, The Beauty Centre comes highly recommended. Visit The-beautycentre.com for more information.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Sneak peek: Darphin Predermine Firming Wrinkle Repair Serum

Parisian skincare house Darphin is launching a new serum boasting a dual action formula that promises to ‘fill wrinkles from within’ and firm the skin.

Created for women aged 40 plus in mind, it includes the brand’s latest innovation – a new patent pending Smart Firming System – which has been in the making for the past four years. I’m told that the new technology is a mixture of dill extract and a new generation of smart peptides. The formula has then be enriched with natural active ingredients including iris, padina pavonica, soy protein, algae, cucumber, sunflower and barley extracts combined with hyaluronic acid sphere and peptides.

It's literally hot-off-the-press so I haven't had the chance to test it yet. However, according to the brand's marketing department, trials have found that daily application can reduce wrinkles by up to 31 per cent while firmness increases by 30 per cent after eight weeks.

The serum, priced at £112, will be available from September.