Archives for category: Hero

2014-01-03 10.17.07Ingredients: Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Polyethylene, PEG-5 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Water, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol

Product Description: “Lightweight cleansing balm quickly dissolves stubborn eye and face makeups, including those with sunscreen. Transforms from a solid balm to a silky, fluid oil upon application. Cleans thoroughly, rinses off completely. Non-greasy. Non-drying. For all skin types.”

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My Experience: I freaking LOVE this stuff. It’s so clever and simple that I can’t help but gush. I know it’s been around for ages and I’m probably late to the party, but it’s a staple in my cleansing ritual so I think it deserves a post. I first heard about this on Caroline Hiron’s uber knowledgeable and endearingly honest blog, which is having a major influence on my skincare choices of late. I love the heft of the pot and the fact that it looks unique when it sits next to all my other bottle and tube cleansers. Plus you get a ton of product and the texture is waxy, so it doesn’t seem to attract fluff like pots of cream. I use the top side of my nail to scrape out a pea-sized amount. I dab equal amounts on my forehead, nose, chin and each cheek. If I’m wearing heavy eye makeup, I put an extra dab on both eye lids. Then I massage it in. Within seconds, it transforms into a rich and oily texture that slides across the skin like silk. And it doesn’t irritate my ultra sensitive eyes, which is a rarity for me. When it’s washed off, my skin feels soft and calm and squeaky clean: there is no greasy residue or trace of makeup left behind. It has no scent but I don’t even care. This stuff should be in everyone’s cupboard. It’s a hellishly good, simple and straight up cleanser that lasts forever and cuts through stubborn make up like a hot knife through butter. I used to loathe coming home after a long and late night out and having to scrub away at my grimey makeup when all I wanted to do was crawl into bed. This product actually makes me feel better on those nights, because it’s so gentle and quick and effective. And because it just feels so luscious on my skin. Go get it. You won’t be sorry.

The Skinny: A beautifully simple cleanser I can always depend on and use with joy. It obliterates stubborn makeup, feels luxurious and leaves skin soft, calm and squeaky clean. This is a forever product in my cleanser wardrobe.

Cost: USA: $28.50 from Sephora

UK: £21 from Boots

Rating: HERO (goes above and beyond expectations)


2013-06-29 16.29.05Ingredients (courtesy of The first ingredients in the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick have the highest concentration. Talc, a powdered magnisium silicate, is added for its oil absorbing and anti-chaffing properties. Caprylic Triglyceride, an oily liquid made from coconut oil, helps hydrate the skin and thicken liquid additives. Zea Mays (Corn) Starch is known for its skin conditioning and protecting benefits. And, Aluminum Starch Octensylsuccinate is a plant derived starch that aids in anti-caking and sun protection. Thank you, Pascha of The Posh Blog, for finding this info for me.

Product Description: Handmade in Italy, this award-winning editor’s favorite highlights skin with five bars of pearlescent shimmer.

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My Experience: I know I’m being naughty for reviewing this because it was limited edition and it’s not available anymore. But! But! But! I just couldn’t resist. I adore this product, and I take some guilty comfort in knowing that you can always pick up a similar shimmer brick from Bobbi Brown. I’m not fond of blushes – my cheeks are naturally ruddy and I’m heavy-handed with the powder brush. It’s a lethal combination that often results in the dreaded clown face. So, I usually do myself a favor and avoid blushes altogether. But I love highlighters and shimmer as long as they don’t turn my face into a disco ball. And this, my lovelies, is the perfect product for blush-shy highlighter fiends. I can swish my brush liberally into the pan without worrying about it applying too dark or bright. It builds up slowly but beautifully. It’s honestly fool-proof. And it’s gorgeous. It’s a subtle blooming glow of pink with a dewy sheen that looks enchanting when caught by the light. Lately, if I don’t have time or don’t want to bother with a full face of makeup but want a fresh pick-me-up, I use this to give my cheeks a pretty, pearly flush. And the packaging is tres chic – it’s sleek, stylish yet simple and feels weighty and solid. It’s expensive, yes, but I like to think of it as a multipurpose product because it can be used as a blush, highlighter and even eyeshadow. Plus it will last a very long time. And it’s just dreamy on the skin. Every time I open the compact I smile, and I truly love to watch the warm glow that beams from my skin as I apply it. When I run out, I’ll buy another shimmer brick that’s as close to this one as I can get. FYI they are currently selling a summery shimmer brick in the shade Nectar, which looks comparable but is more on the coral side. Try it. Love it.

2013-06-29 16.31.32The Skinny: A gorgeous multipurpose powder that works as a blush, highlighter and eyeshadow all in one. Application is fool-proof, even for the heavy-handed, and it brightens up cheeks with a glowing, pearly pink shimmer. It’s pricey but pure quality.


I’ve seen this particular shimmer brick floating around Ebay and Amazon for eye-watering prices, but check out the stunning shades currently available from Bobbi Brown.

USA: a variety of Bobbi Brown shimmer bricks are available for $42 from Sephora

UK: a variety of Bobbi Brown shimmer bricks are available for £32 from Bobbi Brown

Rating: HERO (goes above and beyond expectations)

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Propylene Glycol, Octyldodecanol, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Starch, Glycerin, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Stearate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol, Bisabolol, Sodium Hydroxide, Parfum/Fragrance, Butylene Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Citrate, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Extract, Algae Extract, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Coumarin, Benzyl Salicylate, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Hydroxycitronellal, Citronellol, Geraniol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Eugenol, Limonene, Isoeugenol, Ci 15985/Yellow 6E.

Winner of multiple skin care and beauty awards

Product Description: “The ultimate pick-me-up for tired, stressed skin—Clarins best-selling radiance booster helps eliminate signs of fatigue in a flash! Instantly moisturises, brightens and tightens facial contours so skin looks rested and relaxed”.

My Experience: This product has been on my radar for a long time. And I’ll admit, albeit sheepishly, that I bought two Clarins products just to get their promotional gift pack, which included a travel size of this balm. Anyway, this is a little tube of wonder and shall remain a permanent fixture in my life. It’s loaded with soothing and nourishing ingredients. My skin drinks it up and within minutes I can see and feel the difference. My pores look smaller, my skin tighter, and the glow is akin to a wilting flower surging to life after a much-needed infusion of water. Skin texture also improves. It’s plumper, more even and makeup glides on butter smooth. As others have said, this isn’t something you use everyday, lest your skin get used to it and fail to noticeably perk up. I’ve been using it once a week, on a day when I want to look particularly fresh and beaming. This isn’t a cheap product, but everyone would benefit from a little slice of radiance to brighten their skin on a lacklustre day. I know I do.

The Skinny: A wondrous balm that tightens and improves the look of your skin while imparting a radiant glow. Pricey but worth it.


UK: £25.20 from

USA: $45 from Sephora

Rating: HERO (goes above and beyond expectations)

Ingredients: *Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, *Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, *Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, and may contain [+/- Titanium Dioxide CI77891 and Mica CI 77019] Illuminator

Formulated without: harmful chemicals, synthetic preservatives and genetically altered ingredients

Certified organic

Product Description: Creates a healthy, sheer, glowing look to the skin without being sticky, greasy or glittery.

My Experience: Gosh, I love this product. I’ve used both powder and cream highlighters in the past, and none have compared to the effortless glow of this illuminator. Rose-Marie Swift is a celebrity makeup artist for the likes of supermodel Gisele Bundchen and Miranda Kerr. After racking up years of experience in the fashion and makeup industries and seeing the effects of chemicals in beauty and  skin care products, she decided to develop a line of cosmetics. The philosophy behind rms beauty is purity: cosmetics that are not only non-toxic, but also heal and nourish the skin. The products are formulated with raw, food grade, organic ingredients in their natural state. Her concern for nature and simplicity doesn’t end there: the packaging for all her products is biodegradable, recyclable or reusable (small glass jars). Anyway, back to the illustrious Living Luminizer. It’s her best seller, and a worthy one at that. If you use highlighters, you know how difficult it is to find something that looks natural and luminous without being sparkley or shimmery. Living Luminizer does just that. It looks rather unremarkable in the pot, just a simple, dewy, candlelit cream. When I first swatched it, I was still dubious: it looked like nothing on my hand. But when I dabbed it along my cheekbones, down my nose and on my cupid’s bow, something magical happened: it brought my skin to life and made it look lit from within. My face looked naturally dewy and when caught in the light, glimmered gorgeously. A little goes a long way, a dab of the fingertips along these areas is quite enough, and even if you sweep some setting powder over it, the product retains its glow. I love the ingredients: beeswax, rosemary extract and coconut oil. This stuff is no joke – it’s the best highlighter I’ve ever used and I’ve used some great ones by Nars. It’s everything one wants – it gives your skin a natural, glowing sheen without looking like you’re actually wearing makeup. And it’s good for your skin. Yes, it’s expensive. And I don’t even care.

The Skinny: The perfect highlighter: a natural, glimmering sheen without any sparkle or shimmer that gives a healthy glow to the face.


UK: £30 from Cult Beauty

USA: $38 from rms beauty

Rating: HERO (goes above and beyond expectations)

Product Description: Cleans the hair and stimulates the scalp, increasing the blood flow to the roots.

My Experience: I almost didn’t review this brush because it seems so normal to me, such a part of my everyday life that it’s not worthy of mention. But then I decided that’s exactly why it should be mentioned. I’ve owned this brush for years – dare I say almost a decade? Maybe not that long, but I’ve owned it for at least eight years. I use it everyday. If I’m staying overnight somewhere else or traveling, it goes with me. I must say that I’ve got a thing for companies that have been around for generations producing quality stuff, particularly old English companies. Mr Mason Pearson invented an award-winning automatic brush-boring machine in 1885 that helped speed up the process of brush making. He then worked on developing a quality brush by hand, and it took him till 1905 to get it just right. His wife took over the business after him, and the next generations took over after her. Today’s brush is very similar to the 1885 model, but it reflects the improvements of the fully developed models of the 1920s. The handle is polished by hand so all the sharp edges are removed and it sits comfortably in the hand – have you ever used brushes that jab you with nasty, protruding plastic bits? I certainly have. Anyway, these brushes are ridiculously well made. If you clean them periodically (and the good people of Mason Pearson provide cleaning instructions with their brushes) they will last – well, several years at the very least. I shamefully admit I rarely clean mine and it’s lasted longer than I ever imagined a brush would – the bristles have never fallen out, and no part of this brush has ever broken or become less than it was the day I bought it. Mason Pearson have a large range of brushes to suit all hair types from thin hair to thick hair, normal scalps to sensitive. They are very pricey, but they last for literally ages. And if something ever happened to this brush, I’d run out and buy another. Oh, and I love the little retro boxes the brushes come in, so much so that I’ve kept mine all these years. And did I mention these brushes have won oodles of awards?

The Skinny: A superbly made, award-winning hair brush that lasts year upon year upon year. Super expensive but super great.


UK: £66 from

USA: $170 from Neiman Marcus

Rating: Hero (goes above and beyond expectations)

Formulated without: Parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs and triclosan

Product Description: Combines the texture and shine of a gloss with the long-wear of a stain.

My Experience: YSL is quickly becoming my new best friend. I’d been searching for a stain for some time. I like wearing red lipstick, but it’s so unforgiving; I hate the vigilant maintenance required to keep it looking fresh and perfect throughout the day. So, I researched some stains, which are meant to provide better lasting power than normal lipsticks and glosses. Most of them seem to be afflicted with the terrible curse of dryness, though, and flakiness does not a lovely red lip make. And then along came YSL with their Glossy Stain formula, hitting the ball straight out of the park. The texture is thin and glossy. Application is smooth and simple. Some have bemoaned the slanted doe-foot type applicator, but I find it works well and I love that the pointed tip can be used for a more precise line. The stain feels very lightweight and comfortable and stays that way because it sets quickly. This photo shows one layer. A second layer darkens the color and amps up the shine for a more dramatic lip. Lasting power is great. I wore this to an all-day food festival where I knew I’d be eating and drinking throughout the day and it held up excellently. I only had to reapply once or twice, and even then only slight touch ups were needed. I desperately wanted one of the bright red colors, but those were completely sold out at the Sephora I visited. I don’t regret buying this color though. It’s deep and rosy and probably more versatile. I want to get more of these though. Hell, I’d buy the whole collection right now if they weren’t so pricey.

What do you think? Have you tried any of the neutral or bright shades? Comment below – I’d love to know what you think!

The Skinny: The best of both worlds – a long-lasting, pigmented stain with the texture and shine of a gloss. The best lip stain out there right now.


UK: £22.50 from House of Fraser

USA: $32 from Sephora

Rating: HERO (goes above and beyond expectations)


Product Description: Soothes dry skin, comforts minor weather burns, scrapes and abrasions and provides anti-inflammatory benefits.

Ingredients: Petrolatum and vitamin E

My Experience: I’m not sure if you can tell, but this tube is lovingly covered in fingerprints and scratches. It’s like an old, treasured sweater that I can’t bear to get rid of. The cream has a slightly medicinal smell, but don’t let that put you off because it’s not that strong. Although it’s a cream, it’s not your typical white, slick consistency. It’s amber-colored, transparent and thick. A tiny amount goes a long way. Due to its thickness it doesn’t spread that easily, so it’s best for small areas and not slathering all over your body. The miracle of this is that you can use it in so many ways. It soothes all kinds of skin irritations from scrapes to cracked lips. I’ve also used it to soothe and heal itchy bug bites, rashes and blemishes. I keep a pot of this next to my bedside and I apply it to my lips every single night as a treatment. It lasts all through the night and I credit the general good condition of my lips to this alone. If that doesn’t convince you of how great this product is, then this should: this is the ONLY skin care product of mine that my husband (who is a purely soap-and-water kind of guy ) actually asks for when he has a skin irritation. It’s hands down the most versatile skin care product out there. It can be pricey if you use it everyday (a pot only lasts me about a month). I tend to use ebay or purchase it as part of the gift sets Elizabeth Arden often has on offer. You might be tempted to buy it in stick form for your lips – don’t! It’s more expensive that way and doesn’t last as long. You get much more bang for your buck if you buy the tubes or pots, and you could easily carry either in your handbag. I prefer the tube for sanitary reasons (and for air travel) but I think the pot provides more product.

The Skinny: An incredibly versatile product that soothes, protects and moisturizes any number of skin irritations including very dry skin.


UK: £25 from Boots

USA: $19.50 from Elizabeth Arden 

Rating: HERO (goes above and beyond expectations)

This is a statement lipstick. Worn alone it’s vibrant and daring – but with a gloss, it really comes to life and makes lips look devilishly juicy. The first photo is the lipstick without gloss, the second with. Application is butter-smooth and the formula is lightweight, creamy and comfortable on the lips, not waxy or dry. If you want super staying power, apply, blot with a tissue, and repeat (three times). You could easily tone down the pigment if you dabbed it on gently with a finger.

This is my first YSL lipstick and I don’t know why – well, I do, because it’s extortionately priced! – but I haven’t seen another coral as bold and bang-on for summer as this. And the formula wears so beautifully. And the packaging is old Hollywood glamorous. For reference, I have NC20 skin. I wore Givenchy’s Gelee D’Interdit Gloss Balm in no.9 Neon Orange over this lipstick, but any gloss loaded with gold sparkle would made it pop. Go get this. Now.

I hereby proclaim this lipstick a HERO

The Skinny: A must-have bright and bold lipstick for summer. Creamy texture, long wear and glamorous packaging. Hefty price tag – but worth it for such a unique shade.


UK: £23 from Boots

USA: $34 from Sephora

Rating: HERO (goes above and beyond expectations)