Musings of a self-confessed beauty addict from the heart of London!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Soap & Glory Slimwear Review (and comparison with Sit Tight)

Last time I was in London I decided to pick up another tube of Soap & Glory's Sit Tight, seeing as the first tube performed mini miracles. On the shelf next to it I spied Slimwear, another cellulite busting product and I popped that into my basket too, seeing as it was on special offer (if I remember rightly it was only about £7 or £8 at the time). The tube read "An amazing puff-draining peptide balm that firms, contours, smooths and reduces the appearance of cellulite". Sounds promising!

The USP ('unique selling point', don't you know!) of Sit Tight was in it's ability to work best when you were plonked firmly on your derriere. Slimwear is just a regular 'apply and hope for the best' product.

Now I will say from the offset that this did not perform as well as Sit Tight. This is not to say it's a bad product, and certainly not for the price. You could pay a heck of a lot more and do a lot worse, in my opinion.

Slimwear is marketed as more of an anti-puff / anti-cellulite cream, whereas Sit Tight is touted as a skin firmer. That said, I felt that my cellulite responded more to the firming treatment of Sit Tight.

I applied Slimwear every morning (well, almost) and I did notice after about 3 weeks that my skin looked and felt smoother. It does say on the tube that for even faster results you can also apply it in the evening. I didn't, but maybe I should have done. I did find that I ran out of this more quickly than Sit Tight, despite the fact that they are both 200ml tubes, so if I had applied it in the evening too then I would have got through the tube in about two weeks. Not good for someone who does not have regular access to Boots.

The product itself is a mint green gel-cream which smells strongly of mint and menthol. I like this kind of scent but if you don't then steer clear. It has a cooling effect when applied but this dissipates quickly. It felt a bit sticky after application but dried fairly quickly and I could get dressed within about 4 minutes, depending on how generously (or desperately, read it how you will... ) I applied it that morning.

I've finished the tube now, and I can honestly say that my my thighs are very, very smooth and soft but I can't say that my cellulite looks as reduced as it did with Sit Tight. However, my legs do look better for using this product than if I hadn't used anything at all.

So in conclusion, I would recommend Slimwear for those of you who just need a good skin- smoothing thigh treatment and who don't have a lot of lumps and bumps. At £9.45 it is cheaper than Sit Tight (£14.30) so that also be a factor to consider. There are regular offers on Soap & Glory in Boots, so the likelihood is that they'll both be cheaper than this at some point soon!

As for me, I'll definitely be back on the Sit Tight this week, I need to see some serious results from now on!

Score: 6/10

Friday, 20 May 2011

Surfing in Brussels

It's been a blue day (mood-wise not sky-wise unfortunately). I feel in desperate need of a holiday, and the image of a beautiful tropical beach with white sand and clear waters is haunting me day and night. This time last year I was getting ready for our honeymoon in the Maldives. In fact Mr P and I are one year married this weekend :)

In the spirit of honeymoon memories I decided to finally check out MAC's Surf Baby collection which came out last week here in Brussels. Now I am not, nor ever have been, a surf baby. I can't even ride a bike let alone a wave. But the great thing about make-up is that it can make you feel part of a culture in which you normally don't fit in. You can feel like a screen goddess, surfer chick, rocker chick, boho girl, geisha girl.... whatever it is you want to be there will be a cosmetics company out there with a very clever marketing strategy to sell it to you.

MAC is very good at this. They release so many collections throughout the year that I can't keep up, and actually it's better that I don't... there is only so much eyeshadow one person can use in a lifetime. Surf Baby is the only collection so far that I've bought into, probably because at the moment I have this immense desire to be a cool blonde surfer chick with lithe limbs and tanned gleaming skin running into the ocean with her surfboard at the ready.....and not Pandora toddling on the hot sand trying desperately to suck her tummy in, then wincing like a baby when she dips her foot into the freezing sea while a Japanese whaling ship launches the harpoon.

Not that the surfer chick wears make-up at all. She doesn't need it because she's PERFECT. But MAC wants us to wear make-up on the beach, or at least, in the spirit of the beach....

MAC Surf Baby - My purchases!

The first thing I was drawn to was 'Hibiscus', the gorgeous corally-red (Yes, coral. Again) lipstick. Within a nanosecond of putting it on my lips I knew I had to have it. I have very naturally pigmented lips so most lipsticks are not what they first seem when I put them on. This one was just great. I don't have a colour remotely like it and yet it's so versatile, more so in fact than my beloved Costa Chic, which, although equally summery, is harder to pull off. It's a creamsheen formula, which makes it glossy and moisturising with a good amount of pigment. It lasts beautifully on the lips and I still have it on after 4 hours.

MAC Hibiscus

I also choose two eyeshadows, Short Shorts (a golden white) and Surf USA (a frosted turquoise). The shop assistant (a really sweet guy, impeccably made up!) applied them on me together and I loved the result. It was far more subtle than I thought it would be but the turquoise paired beautifully with the Hibiscus lips. Short Shorts is such a versatile colour, it can be pretty much paired with anything to create a beautifully blended eye, or it can be used just to brighten the inner corners. I'm surprised that I don't actually have a colour like that already.


MAC Short Shorts

So, they were my little purchases and seeing as I will not see the sea for another two months, I'm very happy that I could bring a little of the surf to Brussels.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Dragged through the bushes....

...backwards, sideways, any which way. That's basically what my hair has been looking like these past few weeks.

Just in case you don't know, I have masses (and I mean MASSES) of curly (and I mean CURLY) long hair. It is, and always has been, a gigantic frizzy mess. Every hairdresser I've been to has told me that I have enough hair for three heads as each and every one has battled to take control of my unruly mop. Most can't handle it but even those that can are visibly sweating at the the end of the appointment. Hence I don't go to the hairdressers much at all. Twice a year at the most, and that is usually for a basic trim which leaves me with wet hair at the end as my hair can only be air-dried, and it takes about 5 hours for my hair to be completely dry.

So you get the picture. My hair just won't be 'normal'. All I ever wanted it to do was lie down and behave, like a well-trained dog.

When I was about 13, my mum took me to a Greek lady who said that she knew how to 'relax' my hair. She proceeded to coat my hair in this noxious smelling liquid and left it on my head while she tended to another client. Never had I felt so abandoned. My scalp was burning and I felt my entire head burn up. The stinging was incredible. I told her that it was hurting me and I was told that I had to suffer to be beautiful.
 When the blessed time came to rinse off the liquid fire, the assistant clumsily poured half of the neutralising solution down the plughole, and therefore only half neutralising the burning liquid on my head. Thus my scalp continued to burn. While my hair was being dried we noticed that it had gone pink (yes, PINK) in some areas, and that I had actually lost a patch of hair on one side of my forehead. My scalp was raw and there was bleeding. To top it all my hair was not even any less frizzy and it still took an hour of blow-drying to get it to look smooth. My mum then asked the hairdresser if this was a normal reaction to the hair relaxant, upon which she replied that she wouldn't know as this was the first time she'd ever tried it out on someone!!

As compensation she offered to blow-dry my hair for free the next few times I went back to the salon. Not that I wanted to go back, but there being little choice in finding someone who would do my hair meant that I was indeed back in that salon in the weeks that followed having my hair badly blow-dried. I had scabs on my scalp for up to a year. If that had happened nowadays then we would have sued for damages!

Happily, and despite my moaning, I've grown to accept my curls and not try to permanently eradicate them. At the end of the day it's no use to fight against nature, you'll always lose. On the rare occasion that I have my hair blow-dried straight I enjoy maximum 2 days of silky, straight glory before a nano drop of moisture appears and then I'm sporting that 'finger in the plug socket' look.

And so back to now, and the bush-dragged mane I'm sporting. Well, today it finally got what it needed. Good old, plain simple curl cream. I've been dallying with gels, serums, mousses and sprays these past few weeks, wondering why my hair would either puff up like a Bichon Frise....

or lie flat and 'oily' like René Higuita....

After weeks of this rubbish, I went to the shops to pick up my old faithful L'Oreal Elseve Sublime Curls (Soin crème définissant) styling cream. I don't know why I stopped using it, probably out of boredom as it's nigh on impossible to find drugstore styling products for curly hair, and fed up of buying the same one each time I thought I'd try some alternatives. What a waste of time that proved to be. 

My other favourites are Redken Fresh Curls Curl Refiner and Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancing Lotion, but they are prohibitively expensive here in Belgium, so the Elseve (in the UK 'Elvive') cream is really my only option, although it's proven itself to be a more than decent budget contender.

So today I finally have my 'good' curls back, defined but soft, with just enough volume to ere on the side of glamour and not circus act. I am happy once more, and so is my hair. :)

Sunday, 15 May 2011

How NOT to wear Mimosa

Ok, ok, I know, I'm obsessed.

I couldn't wait any longer and finally got my grubby mitts on Chanel's 'Mimosa' nail varnish yesterday, as well as 'Morning Rose' and 'Mica' Glossimer lip gloss, all from the amazing summer collection.

However I will not drive you all crazy by banging on about what an amazing colour Mimosa is. No my dearies, this is just a very short post I felt compelled to write after trying to paint my toenails yellow.

One word. DON'T.

After I had painted the toes of one foot I realised that I looked like I had some sort of disease, and then it quickly dawned on me that chemists are full of anti-yellowing toenail products and yet here I am painting my toes the colour of nail fungus... albeit a designer nail fungus.

No, no. This is strictly a FINGERNAIL colour. Girls, do not put it anywhere near your toes!!!!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Project Mimosa!

Today I got the kick up the backside I needed.

I wandered into Ici Paris XL to browse face cleansers, and there it was before me.... my beloved Mimosa! Yes, finally after months of waiting and dreaming, the Chanel summer collection was out, and the beautiful little bottle of sunshine that is the Mimosa nail polish was just sitting there in all its cuteness waiting for me.

Notwithstanding the fact that I had approximately 10 kilos of shopping hanging off my arm and a rucksack full of French text books, I frantically unscrewed the cap off the tester and proceeded to paint my pinkie nail yellow. The first coat was streaky, so while I waited for it to dry I picked up the Morning Rose (an enticing sparkly pink) and painted my ring finger nail. I applied another coat of each polish and behold, I had two nails on my left hand which screamed 'summer'.
Chanel Le Vernis - Mimosa
Chanel Le Vernis - Morning Rose

Unfortunately those are the only two nails I have. The rest of my fingers have what can only be described as 'the wreckage where my nails once used to be'. Yes it is that bad. I do not exaggerate. After a blissful period of nice well-behaved nails which I could paint to my heart's content, I have for the last three weeks been suffering with peeling, soft pathetic nails which have been breaking off at the slightest touch. I've had hangnails galore and infections in two cuticles. What happened???

Instead of trying to cure the situation I've been extremely bad, picking at the dry skin, allowing bits of nail to peel off.... (eugh, I know, it's manky). But now Mimosa is here, and I'm not ready for her..... oh the shame.

To top it all, I have a big event in two weeks time. I'll be all dressed up in a lovely evening gown, and all eyes will be on me (tis the nature of my job I'm afraid and I actually hate it, but there you go.... ) and therefore my hands will be very much on display. This realisation hit me this afternoon when, while on the tram, I glanced sadly at my little yellow fingernail and felt a little bit sick.

This will simply not do. I have two weeks to get my nails into some sort of decent condition. I will make my declaration here and now: 
  • I promise henceforth to massage my nails and cuticles with almond oil at every opportunity. 
  • I promise to push back the cuticles and cut away jagged bits of nail and skin.
  • I promise to delicately file uneven edges instead of chewing them off (sorry for grossing anyone out). 
  • I promise to seal the split edges with a nail treatment instead of peeling them off even more in front of the TV.
I will not post a disturbing 'before' picture of my hands in their current state, it's just too graphic :(
I will however post an 'after' photo and hopefully by then my nails will be returned to their former glory and dressed in Chanel sunshine couture :)

Wish me luck!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Facing the summer

As the weather has been getting warmer I've found that the old adage of 'less is more' has never been more true, especially when it comes to make-up.

I realised that for the best part of the last month I've been using the same quick and light make-up and I've been best pleased with it. It's just enough to look polished and pretty without stress or fuss. In the last week I've been feeling doubly smug at my discovery of the Erborian BB Creme au Ginseng. This has just taken the ease of my summer routine up (or should that be down?) a notch to 'effortless'. 

So here's how to get the look. You'll need the following items:

  1. Your base - Tinted moisturiser or mineral foundation, or even better,  BB cream (click on the Erborian link above for more info on BB cream)
  2. Concealer - Under-eye and/or face concealer if you need it I use Garnier Tinted Roll-on for eyes
  3. Shimmer blusher I use MAC Springsheen or Nars Orgasm
  4. Pale shimmer cream eyeshadow My choice is Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow
  5. Black or brown eye kohl
  6. Mascara
  7. Whatever you use to sort out your brows - pencil, shadow, wax etc  I use Benefit Speed Brow
  8. Any lipstick or gloss of your choice. The brighter the better!

Ok, so the point of the look is that it lasts pretty much all day with minimum slide off. If you have particularly oily skin then I recommend using an oil-free primer before your base if you find that your make-up slides off. BB cream is heaven sent for me as it's not really 'make-up' hence nothing to slide off, just great looking skin all day. Could I rave any more about a product? I don't think so....

  • Apply a light layer of your base working it in well and concentrating on the areas you need it most. 
  • Apply your under-eye concealer, patting it in gently underneath the eye and concentrating on the inner corner and also slightly on the side of the nose if you are dark there too.
  • Don't bother concealing imperfections which are only faint, the concealer will only slide off later on leaving you looking a bit patchy. If you have large noticeable blemishes or spots then conceal where needed and then set with a little powder.
  • Using a soft blusher brush sweep your blush from the top of your cheekbones down onto your cheek. You want a lovely glow of healthy colour. The shimmer in the blush will also act as a highlight on your cheekbones. Build up the colour to a healthy flush. 
  • Apply your cream shimmer eyeshadow to your eyelid with your finger.  Go just past the creaseline. If it's not a long-wearing cream shadow then prime the eyelid
  • Now take your eyeliner and fill in the upper lash-line from UNDERNEATH. Concentrate the colour inbetween the lashes. You are not drawing a line here, you're simply darkening the lashline. By doing it from underneath the lashes you will be adding intensity and definition without creating a line which will eventually melt off and smudge. This is called tightlining. 
  • Curl your lashes and apply mascara generously to top lashes only, then groom your brows. 
  • Put on your lippie. MAC Costa Chic (a tangerine pinky coral) is my ultimate go-to colour.
And that's it, you're done!  Trust me when I say that the trick is in the tightlining, so please try it if you haven't done so before. It really makes you 'done' without looking 'done up', if that makes sense.

Let me know how you get on!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

To BB or not to BB... here is the question:

Have you heard of BB cream? If you are Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or have ever lived, visited or worked in Asia then you may have done. If not, then the likelihood is that you haven't.

So, what exactly is BB cream? Well, it's kind of like a hybrid moisturiser / sunscreen / skin perfector all in one. It is meant to give you baby soft skin and covers imperfections whilst making you look as if you were born with airbrushed skin. And that's the point of BB cream, it's like Photoshop in a tube. But it's not a foundation. Nor is it simply a tinted moisturiser. Actually 'BB' stands for 'blemish balm' but BB sounds so much cuter and is probably more marketable.

The reason I've suddenly decided to muse upon this new discovery is because I received a sample or Erborian "BB" Creme au Ginseng the other day here in Brussels whilst buying a mascara (Givenchy Phenomen'eyes, in case you're interested :)). I remember that I'd read about BB cream some time ago but had never given it much thought seeing that it wasn't really readily available in Europe and also I guess I couldn't really imagine what place yet another cream could have in my daily routine. Well, how wrong could I be?

Quite wrong as it turns out.

Erborian is a Korean brand subtitled 'Korean Skin Therapy'. It appears to have made it's main debut in France as most of the information I could find seemed to emanate from French websites and most reviews are by French women. Anyhow, it has managed to find it's way to Belgium and I'm so glad it did.

I was suspicious of this cream. It looked to be quite an ashy beige colour and I couldn't imagine how it was going to work. I applied it sparingly over one side of my face and then saw exactly how it worked. Half of my face was smooth, even toned, radiant and peachy if perhaps ever so slightly paler than the other half. I then applied some to the other side and saw a fresh face before me in the mirror. I really did look as if I had been airbrushed!

I've been using this BB cream for 3 days now and there is still at least 2-3 more applications in the sachet (it's a 1.5ml sachet!). So a little goes a very long way.

This peachy perfection lasts all day. It doesn't slide off like foundation and tinted moisturisers eventually do. Whenever I got a glimpse in a mirror when I was out and about I was amazed at how 'perfect' my skin looked in natural daylight. I'm normally very good at applying my foundation so that it doesn't look like foundation, but somehow this product goes the extra mile and smooths out the texture of the skin too.

This product is, like most BB creams, supposed to improve the condition of the skin over time,  a claim I cannot yet verify obviously. A little more research has revealed that the basis for a general BB cream formula was first created by a German plastic surgeon who wanted a product which would heal, soothe and conceal the delicate skin of patients who had undergone cosmetic procedures. The formula found it's way to the Korean cosmetics manufacturers and became an instant hit once women saw it's instant skin smoothing results, results which would normally be achieved using a minimum of 2-4 products.

I think this is a major selling point for BB cream. It can replace moisturiser, primer, SPF, foundation and, in some cases, concealer, thus considerably lightening the product load in your make-up bag and on your face.

If BB cream had been around when I was a teenager I would have fallen to my knees and thanked the heavens. It would have been just what I needed to sort out my sallow, uneven, sometimes spotty skin without piling on make-up which would have been deemed inappropriate for school. Now I'm simply thankful that I've discovered it as I can honestly see a place for it in my life. At the same time it has kind of made my foundation a bit redundant. I still need concealer under my eyes, but generally it has also made my concealer redundant too. Well, that's if I choose to buy it, which, let's face it, I probably will at some point.

There are many other brands of BB cream catering for all budgets, although I admit they may be harder to track down. Ebay may be your friend in these cases.

Here in Belgium the Erborian "BB" Creme au Ginseng is €33 euros. A quick scout on the web has revealed that it's also available at Harvey Nichols in London for £34 and also online at and for the same price.

For once, Belgium is cheaper.... yay!