Archive | June, 2012

Budget skincare – Simple, Johnsons and Neutrogena

21 Jun

The other day, I went to a beauty launch for work. It took place in a beautiful hotel, the type I only get to go in for PR events because I could never EVER afford to set foot in the place on my own account.

The room was decorated with fragrant peach and pink flowers, gently glowing candles and mint green bows – all in aid of a new  serum and moisturiser from top French brand Darphin. The products themselves smelt wonderful and were fabulously light on the skin, but when the price tags (£49 and £39 respectively) were announced, I couldn’t help but wonder – how many people can really afford it?

For most girls in their teens and twenties, the skincare aisles of Boots are a more affordable option, and from my experience there’s a huge array of brilliant products to be had. These are a few of my favourite brands:


Simple has been around since the 1960s, but it’s only in the past few years that it’s really come into its own. For anyone who can’t bear heavy, strongly-scented moisturisers (I definitely count myself in this category) Simple’s array of unperfumed, almost weightless products are a breath of fresh air.

I love the Hydrating Light Moisturiser for daily use, as it sinks in quickly for easy make up application.

I’m also a big fan of the Foaming Cleanser. Spotty teenage skin left me addicted to face scrubs well into my twenties, until I realised that aggressively attacking my face day and night was not necessarily the way to beautiful skin. Now I use a scrub if I’ve got loads of make-up or sweat to remove (I run a lot ok?!), but prefer this more gentle option in the morning as it doesn’t strip off the natural oils that build up over night.

My final recommendation is the new Moisture Boost Spray. You know when you invent a product in your head and then find out it’s real and get very excited? Well this is it for me. It’s perfect for banishing that horrible ‘tight face’ feeling when your skin is all dry (e.g. if you have lots of powder on), and can be sprayed over make-up without displacing any of that precisely placed concealer. Even if you’re just looking and feeling a bit tired it provides an instant wake up .

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson’s face care range is another nomination for the ‘Best British Breakthrough Act’ in my book, although of course the baby shampoo and oil have been around for donkeys years (yes, all of us probably first experienced their products when they were being wiped on our bums, cheers mum).

I am in love with the Daily Essentials Nourishing Day Cream, largely because I have a premature fear of ageing and the SPF 15 makes me feel like I’m a good human being. The smell is divine – I have recommended this to all the women in my family and they’re all hooked.

Johnson’s Gentle Exfoliating Wash is another winner. As I mentioned above serious scrubbing is something I’ve come to avoid, but this is less abrasive, and there’s something about the floral smell and cute pink packaging that makes me think it can’t do any damage!


American brand Neutrogena is distributed in more than 70 countries, and there’s a reason it’s so popular.

In my experience the products deliver consistently great results. Take the Concentrated Unscented Hand Cream – I’ve never found anything so good for restoring hands that’ve been seriously bashed by winter weather. It sinks in really quickly for intense moisturisation, and you don’t have to wait ages to use a keyboard (it’s non-sticky) or eat (it’s non-scented). What Vaseline is for lips, Neutrogena is for hands.

Also, I realise this is the third moisturiser I’ve recommended in a row, but Neutrogena Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit Oil-Free Moisturiser is new favourite (what can I say – I’m a skincare whore!) Previously when I’ve been suffering from breakouts or skin that oils up during the day, I’ve gone for moisturisers from the typical ‘spot brands’ that tend to be packed with tea tree and actually not moisturising at all. This one, however, still gives that much needed nourishment and hydration while encouraging clearer skin. One caveat though, the smell is not for everyone (my other half was less than amused about having what apparently smelt like a giant fruit salad lying next to him).

Let me know if you have any more recommendations to add to the stash!


Chanel on the cheap?

17 Jun

I can’t believe it took until I was 24 before I bought my first Models Own nail varnish, or that I spent much of my first quarter century thinking it was an excellent plan to pluck my eyebrows into oblivion. Similarly, my latest make up discovery is something that most proper cosmetics junkies have probably been aware of for a while, so please bear with.

The revelation in question came to light when I was chatting to a bona fide make up expert colleague, who used to work for a beauty mag and is therefore my go-to resource for advice on all things cosmetic. She is also one of those organised people who has a desk containing everything you could ever need. Seriously, it only takes one person to shout out their need for chewing gum/wet wipes/tampons/a spare fork across the office, and she is there in a flash with the desired product after fishing it out of her superbly tidy desk drawers.

On this occasion, it was nail varnish remover I was after, on account of having to go to Graduate Fashion Week that evening and not wanting to turn up with chipped polish (Daphne Guinness was going to be there and I’m sure she can sense any shambolic talons within a 50 metre radius).

Organised colleague produced the Bourjois Magic Nail Polish Remover which I have read so many positive blogger reviews of but never actually got my arse into gear and bought – I can back up all the previous cheerleaders of this product and confirm that it does do the job nicely.

What I didn’t realise – and what beauty guru colleague informed me while I was dunking my fingers – is that Bourjois is in fact the baby sister brand of Chanel, and that, in her words “the pretty much pump the same product into different bottles.”

Now obviously there are differences, but essentially this means if you buy a Bourjois foundation for a tenner, you are largely getting the same technology and ingredients  as you would in a Chanel one but at least four times cheaper. 

Coincidentally I heard the same theory later that day while watching a video about “Top products under £10” by on of my favourite beauty journos, Sali Hughes – you can see it here.

Armed with this new knowledge, I obviously had to pop out in my lunch hour and make the most of yet another 3-for-2 deal (cheers Boots) buying Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation, Translucent Smoothing Primer and a pot of their famous Blush. Will report back on whether I can feel the designer quality oozing out of them!


Aztec Nails

13 Jun

Colourful aztec prints have been all over the shops recently, printed on everything from t-shirts to bags to sunglasses. It’s a great look for summer – bright, bold and with a hint of the perennial favourite tribal trend for summer.

I’ve been pretty obsessed with Wah Nails aztec look for a while, so decided to try and recreate my own version using nail polish and a black Models Own nail pen (I’m afraid these amateur attempts will continue until I have enough disposable income to go and get my nails done professionally every week – along with doing all my food shopping in M&S, this is the dream!)

I started off painting multicoloured horizontal stripes across the nails in white, turquoise, red and orange – they don’t have to be too precise since the black detail masks any errors.

Next I drew black lines between each colour with as steady a hand as I could muster, before adding a pattern in each horizontal section: dots, diagonal lines and straight lines are fairly easy for a beginner!

The results are below, followed by a selection of my favourite aztec nails – hopefully I can achieve something more like them in the future.

Some of my faves…



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