Wednesday, 26 March 2014



BB Creams, CC Creams - you'd be forgiven for thinking that the beauty industry has gone alphabet crazy and that your favourite cosmetics counter has turned into a scene from Sesame Street. So what exactly are these products? Are they functional? Do they work? Do we need them, or is this simply need creation marketing on a grand scale, another strategy to get the humble consumer to flex the plastic and boost those profit margins?

Hugely popular in the Asian market, BB Creams (Beauty Balms) are essentially a souped-up tinted moisturiser. Like that hot guy/girl you always seem to "accidentally" text when tipsy, they are your cosmetic friend with benefits, combining skin care with an SPF and skin-perfecting pigments. Providing a medium level of coverage, my only problem with these is that at present, they are only really available in fair to medium shades at best, meaning that anyone with a deeper skin tone is left in the shade. No-one wants to be the person refused entry to the club. So not cool. 

Off the back of these we now have CC Creams (Colour Correcting Creams), as seen above on Hollywood actress (and cult of Tom Cruise escapee) Katie Holmes in the Bobbi Brown campaign.

Bobbi says,"We created CC Cream for any woman who wants more even-toned, healthy-looking skin. Our formula colour corrects, illuminates and protects in one easy step. It's lightweight and blends seamlessly into skin so you instantly look fresher and healthier. Wear it under foundation every day or just when you need it. It's CC perfection."

One of the new breed of high tech cosmeceuticals, she adds "This colour corrector plus treatment hybrid takes a three step approach to evening out skin tone over time and works to prevent future signs of dark spots."

Available in three shades:

Pale Nude, a lavender pink tone ideal for pale skin tones.

Warm Nude, a natural peach tone ideal for medium skin tones.

Golden Nude, a warm golden tone ideal for deep skin tones.

I received a sample of the Warm Nude and have been testing it for the last week. To be honest, I was sceptical as to whether this would be a help or hindrance in my daily makeup regime. I always prep my skin with serum, an oil and moisturiser and follow with a primer before applying my base and concealer.

I used the CC Cream instead of primer and though not exactly earth-moving, I did notice a pleasingly subtle difference. The product has a gorgeous creme-mousse like texture and creates the same slip on my skin that a primer would, extending the wear of my base and ensuring product doesn't settle into any fine lines. Subtly pigmented with peach tones, it perked up my sallow complexion and was especially brilliant when smoothed over eye lids and under the eyes, counteracting discolouration in these areas, meaning I could get away with applying less concealer. I definitely looked perkier which is always a bonus in my book. If Clarins Beauty Flash Balm and Urban Decay Primer Potion had a love child (via a brief dalliance with sunscreen), it would be Bobbi Brown CC Cream, with the stellar qualities of both cult items fused in one product. You can even layer the product over make-up for a subtle highlight on the brow bone, cheek bones and cupid's bow. Win. I recently wore the product when I hooked up with a friend before a meeting in Soho. As we were walking along he said "Do you realise how many guys have checked you out?" To be honest, I was too engrossed in the conversation to notice but I'll say this much - CC is staying.

It is too early to tell whether there have been any tangible changes in the clarity of my skin but I do love the cooling feel of this product on application and the fact that it has an SPF of 35 is a welcome bonus. Forget "pram face", I've attended enough beauty seminars, lunches and launches over the years to know that UVA and UVB damage is the quickest route to a "prune face". It doesn't matter whether the sun is shining, these harmful rays are present even on cloudy days and will break down the collagen and elastin in your skin, resulting in lines, wrinkles, sagging, age spots and pigmentation, not to mention the risk of skin cancer. You know how photographs fade over time when exposed to direct sunlight? Your skin is no different. If you aren't already incorporating an SPF into your daily routine, then this is a supremely easy way to start.

If like me, you like the concept of fusing science and nature, this product (probably) has more natural extracts than your favourite green smoothie.

Not only does it contain the skin-plumping Sodium Hyaluronate, Trehalose and Glycerin, it also packs a punch with these goodies:

Brightening Cucumber

Brightening Apple

Brightening Scutellaria

Balancing Laminaria Saccharina

Plumping Barley

Plumping Wheat Germ

It's worth noting that I spent a fair bit of time analysing the listed ingredients on the product packaging. As a rule of thumb, the closer to the top of the list the ingredients are, the higher their concentration in the formula. If they are listed towards the bottom, then their contribution to the formula is negligible. These ingredients all featured in the top-to-middle sections, meaning that they haven't scrimped on this front. 


Bobbi Brown CC Cream SPF 35 - £29.00


Exclusively available at John Lewis and Nationwide from all Bobbi Brown Studios from 17th March

Friday, 21 March 2014

High and Dry

High and Dry..

Dolly Parton was once quoted as saying, "The higher the hair, the closer to god". It is a motto close to my heart. Perhaps a little TOO close. You see, my penchant for daily blow drying (I have a quiff to maintain) and dalliances with peroxide mean that recently, I've been waking up looking less like Mad Men's Don Draper and more like Don King.

The Dream

The Reality

Thankfully, Trevor Sorbie came to the rescue (not literally but one can dream), thanks to the launch of his Frizz Free range. The business of frizz is a serious one (well maybe not as important as global warming - but all things are relative) and can be caused by humidity, rain, pollution and (ahem) over-styling. The range promises to lock in moisture and "keep bad hair days at bay". I managed to get my mitts on the Shampoo (pictured above) and Smoothing Spray.

The Shampoo contains Cocamide DEA, the surfactant properties of which cleanse the hair, removing oils, environmental grime and product build up, leaving hair fresh and clean. It also imparts shine and bounce. I love that the products feature styling tips, in this case "Blow dry your hair as soon as you have washed it, the quicker it goes from wet to dry the easier it is to control the frizz."

I followed said advice and low and behold, my hair was heaps smoother. In fact, my straight-talking friend Chris even complimented me at dinner, saying my hair looked "great" and "less bushy" and wanted to know if I'd had a hair cut since we last caught up over breakfast. Unfortunately, this was followed by something along the lines of "well we did meet pretty early so maybe you didn't have as much time". Can you believe the cheek of it? As if I'd ever leave the house without immaculately styled hair and a perfectly applied face. Naturally, I raised a heavily-botoxed brow. Ok, I'm joking on the botox front (nature has been kind) but if looks could kill, there would have been medics on site faster than you could say "frenemy".

The Smoothing Spray has also helped my hair make the transition from "bush" to "swoosh". I spray it onto damp hair and blow dry with a small round bristle brush, using the narrow nozzle on my hairdryer to smooth the hair cuticle for a super-smooth and glossy finish.

It contains Hydrogenated Castor Oil, rich in Vitamin E, minerals and proteins. It is also known to boost hair growth and for its antibacterial and anti-fungicidal properties.

It also contains Wheat Proteins, rich in unsaturated fatty acids, to help strengthen damaged hair, whilst making it shinier and easier to manage.


Frizz Free Shampoo - £5.29

Frizz Free Smoothing Spray - £5.99


Thursday, 20 March 2014

I Want Candy

I Want Candy..

If there was an indication of the colour direction for this season, Christopher Bailey for Burberry Prorsum Womenswear Spring/Summer 2014 was it. An exquisitely executed collection in a melange of saccharine sugared almond pastel hues. The fabulously feminine draping and constant re-invention of the brand's signature trench evident in previous seasons were ever present. However, it was the interesting play on diaphanous, sheer textures married with clean lines and opulent jewelled embellishments that added the seriously covetable air of girly-freshness that will have these pieces flying off the racks and onto the backs of women of all ages.

FYI, if you need tips on how to rock fruit sorbet-chic, look no further than Paula Patton. Pictured above wearing Lorena Sarbu earlier this month at the Independent Spirit Awards, her short lemon shift dress featuring a delicate lace overlay and scalloped hem was sheer perfection. The nude courts, fresh dewy skin and subtle rosy hues on her cheeks and lips kept the overall tone subtle and sophisticated. Quite possibly "revenge" dressing at its best. "Robin Thicke who?" the world chimes in unison..

Sugared Almonds

If dressing like a snow cone isn't your idea of a good time, an easy way to tap into the pastel trend is with sugared almond coloured nails.

I often do my mother's nails on a Sunday as she goes to the cancer hospice on Mondays. Last Sunday, I thought I'd perk her up with some Easter-appropriate candy nails.

I raided my nail varnish stash (I have two boxes) and grabbed the colours pictured above.

Left to Right:

Chanel Nouvelle Vague, Topshop Play For Keeps, Topshop Daydream, Topshop Parma Violet, Topshop Zealous, Superdrug 2 In 1 Top Coat & Nail Hardener

You can achieve this look with any nail colours, using the brands of your choice. I like Barry M, Illamasqua, OPI, Butter London, Jessica and Dolce & Gabbana.

I primed her nails by filing and buffing them, pushed back her cuticles, then prepped the nails by wiping them with acetone-free nail varnish remover (this helps the varnish grip better). I did one coat of the top coat / hardener as a base coat, then followed by painting each nail with two sheer coats of colour (one individual colour per nail). I finished with another layer of top coat. It's Thursday and her nails still haven't chipped. To refresh the shine and extend the length of your candy-mani, I suggest applying another layer of top coat as and when needed.


Topshop Nails



Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Blonde Ambition

Blonde Ambition..

Drastically changing your hair colour can signal many things, a new start, recent trauma or perhaps some sort of crisis. I opted to go from brunette to blonde a month ago because for me, it signalled a rebirth of sorts. I had a deeply traumatic year last year. I was coming to terms with my beloved mother's terminal cancer diagnosis (something I'm still struggling with) and suffered terrible health problems of my own that resulted in me being attached to several machines due to total renal failure, nearly having my legs amputated and being hospitalised for two months. My recovery is on-going but in a nut shell, I was out of action for close to a year. I suffered deep depression, I couldn't work, I couldn't write. It was a very dark time.

They do say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger - and as trite as those words can sound, this has certainly been my personal experience. I emerged from the trials and tribulations of the last year, stronger, wiser, more resilient, more focused and with greater empathy and compassion for the world around me. It's not that I was a cold-hearted fashion bitch before, more that nearly losing everything, my life included, gave me a renewed sense of perspective on pretty much everything. I was forced to audit my life and question what I needed, what I wanted, what was staying - and what had to go. 

To celebrate my life MOT and phoenix-like rebirth from the ashes of the previous year, I decided I wanted to bleach my hair. Significantly. I literally woke up one morning and decided that I wanted to hit the (peroxide) bottle in a BIG way and look like Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner. I'm not the kind of person who does anything by halves. It's always "go hard or go home". No subtle highlights, balayage or ombre for me. I wanted 80's-style white blonde hair. I set about scouring the internet for reference images, with Rutger as my starting point. These are some of the cool cats who made it onto my inspiration board:

Rutger Hauer



Billy Idol

Luke Worrall

With a visual idea of what I wanted to achieve saved on my desktop, I set about researching the practicalities (i.e. trawling You Tube for hair bleaching tutorials). I discovered a rather fine Miss Kendra Beasley. I'm mixed race (Ethiopian mother, Scottish Father) and this chick had a similar skin tone, hair length and texture. She explained the process really well, touching on everything from the products needed to the developing time and aftercare etc.

I've copied her video below:

Armed with a shopping list, I headed to my local Sally Hair & Beauty to purchase these essentials:

Brush For Tinting

Core Tint Bowl Black

Salon Services Peroxide Creme 9% 30Vol

L'Oreal Quick Blue High Performance Powder Lightener

Wella Color Fresh Silver - Violet 0.6

Silverising Shampoo

I've experimented with my hair numerous times throughout the wilder phases of my late teens through to my early 20's. I've had a hot pink stripe, I've had beach-chic mahogany highlights (courtesy of Paul Edmonds in Knightsbridge - probably my best professional dye job to date). But no hair colour odyssey is complete without a few disasters. Mine was when I had a badger-style mohican (shaved black sides and a longer ivory blonde section down the middle). Apart from looking like I had road kill on my head, like all novices, I had thought it a good idea to get my hair cut then tackle the bleaching by myself. I bleached the central section several times, hadn't bothered doing my research and hadn't taken care to deeply condition it. One day, as I was blow-drying my mohawk, a large section at the front broke off in my hand. Even my adorable hairdresser couldn't salvage the situation, so I had to shave it all off and start again. Needless to say, this time around, I knew I had to be careful unless I wanted to end up "doing a Britney" again.

With my road kill faux pas ever present in my mind, I raided my beauty cupboard for a deep-conditioning hair mask. Thankfully, I had the privilege of having lunch with the lovely Lee Stafford at the Sanderson some time ago, courtesy of NBPR. I was given an abundance of hair treats, one of them being this wonder product:

Lee Stafford Breaking Hair Treatment

This minimised any hair breakage and has totally changed the texture of my heavily processed hair. I use it as an overnight treatment at least once a week, generally more as I tend to blow dry my hair most days, which combined with the bleaching process tends to leave my hair frizzy and brittle. This makes my hair softer, smoother and much easier to manage. It smells yummy too. 

If I'm feeling especially indulgent, I'll mix it with a multi-purpose beauty oil, massaging it into my scalp and through the hair, paying close attention to the ends, leaving it overnight and shampooing it out in the morning.

I'm fond of The Body Shop Shea Beautifying Oil as a generic option:

Or the NARS Monoi Body Glow II for a luxury option:

Both smell heavenly (but not so strong that they battle with your favourite perfume or cologne) and can be used on the body, face, hair and nails. They are fantastic beauty all-rounders and a total "must" for your beauty cabinet. They make great bath oils too, or do what I do and massage them into damp skin post shower to seal in moisture for silky-soft skin.

It took me two days and around three bleaching, toning and deep-conditioning processes to achieve my desired level of lightening (devoid of the brassiness that can come with the bleaching process). I was so pleased with my new look that I posted a picture of my new "do" on Facebook (as you do) and my timeline went CRAZY. People were loving my new look. Including my friend, the super-talented fashion photographer James Burton (of James Burton Photography). He invited me over to his place in Fulham to celebrate Fashion Mister Version 2.0 and we spent a few hours chilling, catching up about life, lust and creative projects. He also wanted to give some equipment a test run (no - not like that LOL) and offered to take some new head shots of me. Did I mention that when we met up, he turned up looking super-duper-fly on a skateboard? Too cool for school and more than a little awkward. I had a huge thing for skater boys when I was younger, I still think they are pretty hot. 

My blog and social media platforms were in need of a refresh, so of course I graciously obliged to his offer of taking my picture. I mean come on, if you have the option of taking an awful selfie or having a photographic genius work his magic, you are going to choose the latter, you'd be mad not to. Being the bloke he is, I had already received a text from James instructing me with what to wear. We're generally on the same page creatively so I'd already planned on doing the whole skinny jeans, t-shirt and vintage black leather Harley Davidson motorcycle jacket combo. But I nearly died when he produced a pair of fingerless black leather gloves, as I ended up looking like a carbon copy of the inspiration pic of Billy Idol that had found it's way onto my mood board. Spooky!

After a few hours, some cigarettes, heaps of direction and some gentle encouragement from James (I'm used to being the boss on set), we ended up with some amazing images. It was weird posing with no music, so during the process I grabbed my iPhone and cranked up Billy Idol's Rebel Yell and Kim Wilde's Kids in America to help me get into my groove.

A big shout out to James' Ware Bear who kindly agreed to pose with me in the last shot:

I was so pleased with our creative collaboration (especially when James told me I required minimal retouching). It went down a treat with my friends (the pics got bundles of likes and comments on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). I'm now affectionately called "Blondie" by friends and family and have been compared to Grace Jones. Fierce!

Emma White Turle, top make-up artist and Beauty Editor for Schon! Magazine, liked my photo on Twitter. I got the thumbs up from fashion legend Donovan Pascal, super-stylist, original creative force behind the Religion label and founder of Idol. I even got approached on The Tube by a chick who wanted to know how she could get my look. Not bad for a day's work and thanks in no small part, to the kindness (and photographic wizardry) of my mate James.


Brush For Tinting - £2.27

Core Tint Bowl Black - £2.99

Salon Services Peroxide Creme 9% 30Vol - £5.99

L'Oreal Quick Blue High Performance Powder Lightener - $19.71

Wella Color Fresh Silver Violet 0.6 - £8.95

Silverising Shampoo - £6.95

Lee Stafford Breaking Hair Treatment - £10.99

The Body Shop Shea Beautifying Oil - £9.00

NARS Monoi Body Glow II - £44.00


Sally Hair & Beauty Supplies

Lee Stafford

The Body Shop


Monday, 17 March 2014

A Walk on the Wilde Side

A Walk on the Wilde Side..

Is it just me or is pregnancy really working for Olivia Wilde? Positively glowing at the 86th annual Academy Awards, she proved, along with fellow actress Kerry Washington that a baby bump was the most coveted accessory on the red carpet. Wearing a black Valentino Pre-Fall 2014 halter neck gown, complimented by a tousled chignon and simple statement jewellery, she looked like a modern day Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

A REVLON Global Brand Ambassador, even Wilde's 60's-inspired makeup was reminiscent of Hepburn's, down to the glowing skin, sculpted brows, kitten flick eyeliner and peach-hued nude lip. Vintage Hollywood glamour never dates, like the old adage states "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". 

Celebrity Makeup Artist, Melanie Inglessis created a classic French look for Wilde with a sharp cat eye and dewy skin.

"We wanted the look to be simple and classic, says Inglessis, "I created a very precise eye that makes a statement but still works well with her fresh skin and light peach lips."

Inglessis used the following products for Olivia's red carpet look:

Revlon PhotoReady Perfecting Primer

Revlon PhotoReady Makeup in Nude

Revlon PhotoReady Skinlights Illuminator in Bare Light

Revlon ColorStay Shadow Links in Taupe (NEW March 2014)

Revlon PhotoReady Kajal Eyeliner in Cleopatra

- This product wasn't actually listed by Revlon but if you look closely at the photo of Olivia, you'll see that there is some subtle highlighting happening underneath her feline flick, where a subtle white line has been drawn to create a beautiful graphic effect. I suggest using the black end of this double-ended eyeliner to tight-line the upper lash line, gently filling in between the lashes to add depth. Use the white end to draw a fine line underneath the outer edge of the feline flick.

Revlon ColorStay Liquid Liner in Blackest Black

Revlon Lash Potion Mascara

- Olivia looks like she might be wearing falsies. I suggest curling lashes and either applying a set of flared false lashes or applying individual false lashes at the outer edges to enhance the feline shape, finishing with a coat or two of mascara to finish the look. Eyelure and MAC offer a great selection.

Revlon Brow Fantasy (NEW March 2014)

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Complex

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Pink Cognito

Revlon suggests Revlon Nail Enamel in Pink Nude to complete the look


Revlon PhotoReady Perfecting Primer - £11.99

Revlon PhotoReady Makeup in Nude - £12.99

Revlon PhotoReady Skinlights Illuminator in Bare Light - £11.99

Revlon ColorStay Shadow Links in Taupe (NEW March 2014) - £2.99

Revlon PhotoReady Kajal Eyeliner in Cleopatra - £5.99

Revlon ColorStay Liquid Liner in Blackest Black - £6.99

Revlon Lash Potion Mascara - £9.99

Revlon Brow Fantasy (NEW March 2014) - £6.99

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Complex - £7.99

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Pink Cognito - £7.49

Revlon Nail Enamel in Pink Nude - £6.49