A while ago I tested travel beauty products for a national newspaper. My favourite? The Green Balm, an ingenious – and very cute – calming balm from MOA (Magical Organic Apothecary).
It contains completely natural ingredients such as yarrow, tea tree oil, beeswax, plus coconut, sweet almond and soy bean oils, and smells DELICIOUS. I now carry a little pot around with me as it has so many cunning uses, including (deep breath):
– helping heal cuts, grazes, blisters and burns
– treating insect bites
– soothing dry and itchy eczema, psoriasis and rashses
– soothing chapped lips and coldsores
– a sore throat gargle
– calming shaving rash and keeping newly-tattooed skin infection-free
– fighting athlete’s foot
– helping fade stretch marks
– nourishing dry hands, nails and cuticles
– removing eye makeup
– using as a hot-cloth cleansing balm
What’s more, despite looking and smelling uber posh, it’s a bargain. A lipbalm-sized 15ml pot for your handbag costs £4.99 or you can buy three for £11.50 in a sweet little tube; a larger 50ml jar costs £12.50; and a large 50ml jar plus bamboo face cloth costs £17.50, all from www.Moa.London
I know it’s supposedly FAR too early to think about Christmas yet, but it makes a fab, and unusual present. I’m getting my order in this week…!
I’ve been invited to a last-minute Hallowe’en party, and with no time to prepare a proper outfit, I was in danger of looking like a party pooper.
Luckily, I’ve come up with a solution – pumpkin-themed nails.I plan to pair them with a black top and trousers – spooky eh?
All you need is some orange nail polish (mine was £1 from a local chemist) and a permanent black marker pen. Oh, and a steady hand. Simple!
What’s almost as good as Cadbury’s Mini Eggs? Mini Egg-inspired nails!
Pastels continue to be a big trend, but if they’re a bit wishy-washy for your liking, why not add a twist with one of these quite frankly genius speckled egg-like nail varnishes from posh beauty brand Illamasqua.
There are five colours to choose from: Scarce (pink), Fragile (blue), Freckle (nude), Mottle (green) and Speckle (lilac).
Okay, so at £14.50 per bottle (from http://www.illamasqua.com) they’re not a bargain, but if you’re anything like me, a bottle will last a lot longer than a packet of Mini Eggs will!
Back when I was a student, the only nail polish colours you could buy in Boots and Superdrug were boring pinks and reds. However, there was one brand, Spectacular, sold in independent chemists and clothes shops, that bucked the trend. It came in a rainbow of colours and everything cost just £1, so my friends and I would change our polish every few days, trying out everything from metallic royal blue (which became my signature colour) to neon yellow.
Sadly, Spectacular is no more, but thankfully its legacy lives on – you can buy nail varnish in every colour and finish under the sun. It just costs a bit more than £1. My favourite brand is Mavala – their on-trend polishes come in cute 5ml bottles that never seem to dry up, look great on your dressing table, and cost a reasonable £4.50 each.
So, I was very excited to hear about their new competition – to create your very own bespoke nail colour. They’re challenging the public to take a photo of something – anything from a handbag to car paintwork – in a colour they’d love to be able to wear on their nails. Three lucky winners will have their suggestions turned into nail varnishes and sold across the UK later this year.
My entry? Saturday’s gorgeous blue cloudless sky, below – it’d be like having the essence of summer on your fingertips (and besides, I think it’s time I upgraded my signature blue to a slightly classier shade).
Want to have a go? Simply take a photo of anything you’d love to see recreated as a nail varnish and post it on Twitter with the hashtag #thatsmycolour (copying in @MavalaUK) or visit Mavala’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MavalaUK and post it there. Be quick though – the competition closes on 5th May.
Now, I know it’s not big or clever to swear, but there are times (like when Roger Cocks from the local garden centre sends out a letter saying it’s apple season again) when it’s amusing.
So, I’m all for the name of this fun new beauty range that’s just gone on sale at http://www.firebox.com. There are two products to choose from – Hand Sh*t hand cream, £7.99; and Lip Sh*t lip balm, £4.99 (I’m not asterix-ing the “i” out because the packaging does by the way – I’m doing it because if a swear word appears in this blog, loads of subscriber’s firewalls will block it, the meanies).
Anyhow, those in the know say it’s actually a really nice product; there are lots of delicious sounding scents to choose from – including Asian Pear, Jasmine Fig and Grapefruit Rosehip – and it’s all packaged in quirky little tins and jars that’d make great presents.
For these reasons, I’m going to log on to Firebox and get my hands on some of that sh*t right now.
If you thought next month was just ‘December’, you’d be wrong. For the last few years it’s been rebranded as ‘The Party Season’ – the month of high heels, little dresses and all things bright and sparkly.
To reflect that (you can see where I’m going here…), B&Q have designed this rather discotastic Colours Mosaic Mirror (above). It’s a decent 51.5cm width, perfect for doing last minute touch-ups. It’s £39.98 – not bad for something that looks designer.
It would make a fabulous feature in a bedroom; add wow factor to a plain bathroom, or look amazing in a hallway where everyone can comment on it (and check their glittery eyeshadow hasn’t smudged).
I love a good lipbalm, and I’ve sung the praises of Vaseline’s handy little tins on this blog before, but this is something special.
Pink Bubbly is a limited edition tin of Vaseline containing Champagne grape extract. Yum. Not only does it taste of Champers, but it’s got a pleasing pale pink hue and it’ll tart up your lips in seconds on those days when you can’t be bothered with lippie.
When it first launched last month, it was only available at Selfridges (dahling), but now us mere mortals can buy it for £3.49 from Superdrug (and http://www.superdrug.com) or Boots (www.boots.com). I’m off to get mine now, chin chin!
What do you get the beauty obsessive who already has every product under the sun? Why, her very own bespoke nail polish, that’s what!
Nails Inc (www.nailsinc.com), who make a bajillion different colours and finishes of polish (including crackle top coats and bonkers varnishes you can hold a magnet over to create original designs) have launched an online ‘couture’ service, where you can pick your colour, design of cap and even name your polish whatever you fancy.
The whole thing comes in a classy be-ribboned monochrome box. Okay, so at £20 it’s not something you’re going to buy for all your friends, but still, beautyoholics will be bowled over.
I’ve been busy designing one called The Treasure Hunter – a metallic glittery gold with a gunmetal grey Swarovski crystal encrusted cap. Swanky!
Every bargain hunter knows pound shops are a fantastic place to go for cheap stationery, gardening bits, kitchen stuff and cleaning kit. I often get bathroom essentials like toothpaste and shampoo there too, but I’d never really looked at the other beauty stuff.
Until Monday in Poundland, that is, when I found myself loading up my basket…
My haul included a cute Japanese wasbag; geisha and Russian doll nail file, tweezer and mirror sets (perfect for Christmas stockings); nail wraps; crackle nail polish; Hello Kitty plasters (more fun than plain ones); enough makeup sponges to last for five years; a Stila makeup compact; some zingy shampoo and conditioner; and a shower gel that looks spooking similar to one made by chic brand Philosophy. And how much did all this cost? Just £1 per item. Brilliant.
So, next time you’re in the pound shop (or even better, the 99p shop), don’t just make a beeline for the cheap padded envelopes -although you should definitely buy some of those too, having seen how much the Post Office charges for them – check out the beautiful bargains as well.
Last weekend, while staying at my parents’ house, I noticed a fancy handwash by their sink. It was a pretty turquioise colour, had a fab teardrop-shaped bottle, and smelt lovely. I expected it to be some expensive beauty brand, so I was pleasantly surprised to find it cost just £2.49.
Turns out it’s one of a range of gel handwashes from eco-friendly company Method. There are five fresh scents/colours available, including pink grapefruit, cucumber and lavender; and they all contain skin-kind natural cleansers. It makes a nice change from all the antibacterial skin-stripping handwashes that are around at the moment. Oh, and the bottles (which were created by top product designer Karim Rashid) are recyclable too. You can (ahem) get your hands on one in Sainsburys, Tesco, Superdrug, John Lewis, Homebase, Waitrose or at www.methodproducts.co.uk
. And if you like them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/methoduk) apparently they’ve got some treats coming up in the near future.
WIN! Talking of treats, I have a set of all four Method fragrances to give away. Just email me at email@example.com with your name and a line about why you deserve to win. Oh, and include the address I should send them to if you get lucky!
PS: And while we’re on the subject of handwashes, I’m also planning to buy a bottle of Helping Hand Wash by Trilogy, £13.50 for 300ml. It’s not a bargain, but that’s the point – 100% of the profits go to the Child’s i Foundation (www.childsifoundation.org
), which is helping to stop child abandonment in Uganda.
Packaged in a pretty brown and teal glass pump-action bottle, it smells amazing, as it’s made with frankincense, rose geranium and lavender oils.
It’s available from www.boots.com
or larger John Lewis, Boots or House of Fraser stores. As it’s sold out once already, and this is a new batch, if you want one you’d better get your grubby mitts on it quick!
I don’t regularly review a lot of beauty products on this blog, as there are so many specialist beauty bloggers out there who do a fab job already. However, my latest beauty discovery is so brilliant, I had to tell you about it.
Bee Lovely To Your Hands is a gorgeous honey-scented intense handcream from natural skincare experts, Neals Yard. Having a new baby, I wash my hands a bajillion times a day, and they were drier than desiccated sandpaper. Ordinary handcream had no effect, but this bee-auty has sorted them right out
It’s non-greasy, smells fantastic, and you only need to use a tiny amount. Which is just as well, seeing it costs £9.50 for a 50ml tube (although £1 of that goes towards saving the bees!).
The only catch? As a limited edition, launched last September, it’s sold out in most places, but you can still get it online at www.thetreehouse.co.uk and www.eoco.org.uk.
Better bee quick though!
These gorgeous glittery badges have just arrived at Superdrug stores. They cost £1, with proceeds going to a very good cause – the NSPCC’s Childline.
They’re a brilliant way to jazz up your coat for Christmas; and would make a great advent calendar or stocking filler. I’m going to buy all three!
Do your bit for the planet and treat yourself to a new washbag from this gorgeous range made out of recycled Japanese kimonos.
Available in Muji stores and online (www.muji.co.uk), it costs from £2.95 for a bookmark to £9.95 for a large zip-top bag.
Each one is unique, and they’re so light, they’d make for brilliantly post-able Christmas presents.
Sitting in bed with flu, I was browsing the web making a mental Christmas wishlist (it’s never too early to start!) when I spotted this AMAZING advent calendar.
Full of 24 tiny Lancome, YSL, Giorgio Armani, Shu Uemura, Viktor & Rolf and Kiehl’s beauty goodies such as perfume, handcream, moisturisers and makeup (including a ‘mini mini Juicy Tube’, apparently), it’s the ultimate in advent calendars.
Of course, there’s one snag. Available exclusively from Selfridges (or http://www.selfridges.com) it’s an eye-watering £80 (so that’s around £3 per day), but hey, a girl can dream.
However, even if you’re willing to part with such a criminal amount of cash for some bite-sized beauty booty, you’ll need to be quick – last year’s version sold out well before December.
The best shop I’ve ever been into in my life was a Japanese pound shop in Singapore. Chock full of craft stuff, homewares and beauty bits, all in gorgeous Japanese prints or with quirky slogans, and all costing the equivalent of £1 each, it was so bargainous that it was almost overwhelming (you can drool at the products, and see store locations around the world, at http://www.daiso-sangyo.co.jp/english/)
I assumed the experience was a one-off until yesterday, when I visited the new Tiger store in Lewisham shopping centre (of all places). A Danish concept, it’s like a cross between that Japanese pound shop, Muji, Ikea, H&M and Poundland. I spotted gorgeous craft stuff, picture frames, baking equipment, pretty napkins, homewares, bathroom accessories, unusual wrapping paper and stylish stationery – almost all costing just £1-£4.
Apparently there are 90 Tiger stores in 11 different European countries, with ten or so of them in the UK. The Lewisham branch is their newest. It’s worth making a special journey to one near you (visit http://www.tigerstores.co.uk), as I guarantee you’ll stock up with Christmas presents.
My top picks? Toadstool biscuit tins, £2 and £3 (see top); Babushka socks, £3; multicoloured hooks, £1; drawer knobs, £4; wrapping paper, £1 a roll; and big packs of A4 patterned origami paper, £2.
No longer just the place for paint and tools, B&Q has got some seriously great home finds this Autumn.
Taking a trip there the other day (I’m having my bathroom done so seem to be living in DIY shops at the moment!), I spotted these brilliant flexitub storage baskets. You can use them as washing baskets; for carrying stuff in the garden; for storing bathroom bits, bags, belts, shoes, magazines, toys, craft stuff; or even as a handy way to take random junk up and down stairs.
They come in green, pink, blue and red and cost just £7.50 each from B&Q stores or http://www.diy.com.
Why is it you can never find a plaster when you need one? And why are plasters so boring-looking?
Now http://www.dotcomgiftshop.com have come up with the answer – handy little tins you’ll be proud to display on a shelf, filled with decorated plasters that’ll put a smile on your face even if you’ve just sliced your finger off.
Okay, so that’s going a bit far, but they do look mega cute. And they make great presents.
They’re available in woodland animal, circus parade, vintage paisley, spaceboy, strongman or skulls designs (I love the retro circus animals, below, best) and cost £3.95 per tin.
I’d love to meet the person who came up with the idea of putting lemon verbena hand cream in an owl-shaped pot. And then I’d shake them by the (obviously silky-smooth) hand.
Think about it. This little fella will look far cuter sat on your desk than your average pot of moisturiser, and when you’ve used it all up, you can store your paperclips/staples/other bits and bobs in him.
He costs £5.95 from prezzybox.com, and is available to buy from the end of this month. I’m putting my order in now. In fact, I’m going to buy twit-twooo (sorry) – one for me, and one as a secret Santa present come Christmastime.
Stop Press! Oliver Bonas also stock Owl hand cream in a grey pot (orange flower scent) or a pink pot (wild rose scent), for £6.50. Visit http://www.oliverbonas.com