Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Some Behind The Scenes Photos From My Day Job

I love how Instagram makes me feel like I can take photos... This was taken during the shoot for Drama with Fabrice Jacobs with one of my favourite models du jour Ava Mcavoy and styled by Magdalena Marciniak. All photos by me. Real photos from the shoot published in Drama.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Sound of Silver DNA - La Potion Infine

From time to time I get sent products from PRs in exchange for make up credits in magazines or because they like my blog. I tend to be picky on what I write about, as I don’t want my blog to sound like a press release platform – there are many blogs doing that already. So I’ll try plenty of products but some just don’t stand out for me, in a good or a bad way.

One of the products got sent was "La Potion Infinie" and I have to say that the packaging was just great – in a simple black pot (my favourite colour) with a specially designed card that portrays one of the twelve archetypes of the “la maison” which is Argentum Apothecary. I have to say that the name Argentum Apothecary confused me in the beginning as I thought it was a chemist that sold many different brands. Well it’s a brand, so it’s either confusing or I was being thick, but it’s all good now.

The brand has one product only, La Potion Infinie, that can be used by both men and women, all over the face, neck and around eyes. Certainly the packaging won’t be  out of place in a man’s bathroom.

But, as well thought out the packaging and the story behind the twelve archetypes can be, the product actually is amazing. Yes the ‘la maison’ thing is all gimmicky, each jar coming with a serial number… it reminds me a lot of Crème de La Mer marketing story. Yes maybe there are too many product launches these days so the new product has to stand out with something, but for me, this cream is stands out as it actually works.

I’ve been using it now for a couple of weeks and from the first application I felt like my skin was being tightened, but not in a bad and uncomfortable way. It just looked more toned, my pores looked finer and skin felt firmer and hydrated. I didn’t feel like I was smothered in silicones and useless fillers, the texture of the cream is somewhat liquid, and the feel on the skin is matte. 

What’s so special about it?

The two main actives are Silver hydrosol and DNA HP. Silver hydrosol is also called colloidal silver and it’s somewhat controversial. It’s widely used in dog owners’ community as a healing and antibacterial agent. But there are also some wild claims that promise that silver will cure  pretty much everything, including cancer.

How does colloidal silver work?

Silver is not produced by our bodies, we don’t really need it, we don’t get deficient of it either. But it’s toxic for bacteria and fungi and it’s a great antiseptic that comes from just one element (Ag) The effectiveness of silver compounds as an antiseptic is based on the ability of the biologically active silver ion (Ag+) to irreversibly damage key enzyme systems in the cell membranes of pathogens.

From all the elements that have that effect to bacteria, silver is one that is the least toxic to us. Silver is widely used in medicine for wound dressings and it can be used as a dietary supplement.  But efficacy of it as a ‘do it all cure’ has been proven as ineffective. However I have ordered some colloidal silver to try as a supplement – that shows a bit how impressed I was with “La Potion Infinie”.

The second active is DNA HP, which stands for hyper polymerised deoxyribonucleic acid. I don’t actually know what the extracted DNA is from, but the brand says the DNA is from a marine based ingredient that acts like an antioxidant that regenerates tissue and also delivers hydration to the skin. The DNA ingredient works by trapping the toxic radical called hydroxyl, which affects both collagen and elastin. And the way it delivers the hydration to the skin is different from other creams – something about the cream’s molecular weight that attracts water into the subcutaneous layers of the skin.

What else is in the “La Potion Infinie”. Lots of good stuff actually. One of them, caffeine, gives the skin that immediate lift, but the others are very nourishing such as argan oil, shea butter, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, aloe vera, tocopherol. Lovers of the “green” products will be pleased with the ingredients list as the cream has 99.5% ingredients from natural origins.

The one thing I don’t like about the “La Potion Infinie” is the price, sadly it retails at £147. It seems like these days high prices for skincare are a must, but I do like that the product actually looks and feels luxurious. And with the super stylish packaging it will definitely make a good present....

For me. Send it to me please. I will be forever grateful.

The ingredients, as picked up from the brand’s website: Colloidal Silver, Cetearyl Alcohol, Hydrogenated Vegetable Glycerides, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil, Glycerin, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Aqua, Cetearyl Glucoside, Caffeine, Sodium DNA, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Xanthan Gum, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Parfum, Potassium Sorbate, Tocopherol, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Limonene, Linalool, Eugenol

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Escargot For Your Skin - Dr Organic Snail Gel

It seems like women will try anything in their quest for younger looking skin. Baby lamb placenta, funky mushrooms, sea kelp harvested at a specific time of a month, specks of gold in creams, crushed diamonds, snail’s slime…  

Yes snail’s slime.  Not even kidding, There is a face cream (gel actually) out there that contains pure extract of snail’s slime.

Dr Organic have noticed that snails farmers in Chile had unusually soft and hydrated hands, any cuts and grazes would heal much quicker. The scientists from the company did some testing on snails secretions and noticed high levels of collagen, elastin, allantoin (what I think is the main active here to provide wound healing), glycolic acid and other antibacterial substances that help in healing and smoothing the skin. Apparently snails can also regenerate their shells when broken, who knew? The extract is called Helix Aspersia Muller.

Dr Organic people mixed the slime with the aloe vera gel and some nice smelling lime and lemongrass oils to produce this lightweight gel. No idea what the slime in itself smells like but this gel is refreshingly citrusy. A bit clean and medicated even.

They must be trying to overcompensate for the slime…

So how will they sell it and who will buy it?

The gel is marketed as soothing under moisturizer treatment, good for repairing wrinkles and for general cell turnaround.

Do people even like snails?

I don’t. They are horrible, slippery and they eat my fruit and veg in the garden.

I put copper tape and eggshells to prevent them from eating my cucumbers and when I see snails I cover them with salt. I am an animal lover but I see snails as pests. No love lost between us. They are even not that slow for my liking, And now how do I go about smothering myself with their slime in pursuit of smoother skin?

Well, I’ve tried it. Made me cringe for a bit, but got over it. The gel is very lightweight and moisturizing.  Dr Organic must be very confident about its effectiveness as they are actively marketing the snail’s shell on the packaging, not sure I’d go that way, but hey I guess the controversy is always interesting.

If you didn’t know what was in it, would you buy it or would you buy it regardless? I really want to know!


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Sunscreen And Why To Use One

I talk about skin ageing a lot and one of the main causes of collagen breakdown is the sunlight. Or more to the point, ultraviolet radiation.

Ultraviolet rays are emitted by light sources, such as sun. They are invisible to the naked eye although we feel the effects of it on our skin through suntan and sunburn. 
There are a few types of UV rays, but the ones of interest in skincare are medium and long waves or UVB and UVA. For simplicity I call them "burning" and "ageing" rays, although it's not entirely correct. UV rays are also responsible for production of vitamin D in the skin.

So, the rays are there, some are absorbed by the ozone layer, but a lot get to the Earth's surface. We do need them, but we also need to protect ourselves from overexposure. UV rays can also impact the DNA structure directly and indirectly, and cause skin cancer.

So how can we protect ourselves? Obviously by using sunscreen when planning a direct exposure - sunbathing. And that's when majority of people tend to use sunscreens when they can actually see the big bright sun in the sky. But they should be using them on a daily basis.

Sunscreens can be organic chemical compounds and physical (mineral). Chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays and physical reflect and scatter them. The thing is whatever they are made of, they will break down in a couple of hours and you'll lose your protection. And that's why when we're sunbathing, it says to reapply liberally every couple of hours or more often if we're swimming, etc.

But how about when we are out and about during the day and in a city with full make up on? That's when it gets more complicated and confusing.

Lots of us want to save time so we'll buy a moisturiser with built in SPF. Most of them if mixed into creams are chemical ones and they will rarely offer my more than UVB protection, so it means that you're still exposed to the UVA radiation. 

But the biggest problem is that the chemical sunscreens can be a bit controversial. Some can cause allergic reactions, some interfere with DNA.

So that leaves us with mineral sunscreens. They are the ones that create a barrier on skin and leave us with a whitish tinge. They are the best we can get at the moment, a broad spectrum mineral sunscreen that we apply on top of our daily moisturiser. 

The key in choosing a good one is that there isn't one. Go for the maximum protection that you can. I tend to pick SPF50 and I go for the texture and smell that I like. Many of them can be greasy so try a few. My personal favourite is Sisley Broad spectrum facial sunscreen, but it is expensive. Shiseido does a good high protection UVA/B sunscreen and, while it's not exactly a bargain, it is cheaper. There are loads of sunscreens available, so get samples and try a few to pick the one you like.

But don't forget that even the best sunscreen will break down in strong sunlight and stop giving you protection, so cover up with a hat.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Steamcream - My New Find

I've always been a fan of those products who do a bit "more" than what they are just supposed to do. A bit like Rodial Glam Balm, I've used it for years, it's perfect hydrating mask, dry skin moisturiser, treatment for sunburn etc, so I was very excited that there's another product that can be used in many ways. Except this one is a bit different and comes in super cool retro packaging - a tin. 

So why is it good? 

I like that it contains proven moisturisers such as cocoa butter, glycerine (palm free), almond and jojoba oil. In addition to that there are some lovely essential oils that as well as making the product smell nice, they are soothing and antiseptic, then orange blossom water that balance oily skins and also there is oatmeal which is so good for soothing sensitive skins. Not too many ingredients and it's made in traditional way, by fusing all the ingredients by steam. How cool is that???

Why do I love it? 

It's lightweight, it just sinks into the skin and leaves it nourished. You can use it on the face and body. Makes a good hand cream. You can take off make up with it. You can use it as a mask, mix it with oat flakes and use it as a scrub. You can massage your skin with it before a facial steam and cleanse. And you can mix it with foundation to make your own tinted moisturiser or BB or CC cream or whatever they choose to call it these days. I'm sure you can think of more ways to use it... And best of all, it's pretty much a bargain £12.95.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Chanel's A/W Catwalk Sparkle

Usually at this time of year I’d be busy doing all Spring/Summer colours like everyone else is. But the weather being as it is (yes we had snow this week in UK and it’s April) and it’s freezing, so I thought I’d check back on the A/W fashion shows from last month and pick some interesting looks. For all we know, this season might just carry on and we’ll have no summer at all. Last year, anyone?

Once again, fashion designers are flirting with punk as their inspiration (maybe because the Costume Institute is doing a Punk exhibition?) so cue the mix of different fabrics and textures in one outfit, teamed with the streamlined silhouette and darker colours. Always at the helm of originality while keeping their own style, Chanel interprets this look well.

Next year’s punk face, according to Chanel is fresh and glowing. And perfect. Skin is prepped with Hydra Beauty Serum and Vitalumiere Aqua foundation, cheeks are flushed with the natural pinky crème blusher. Chanel have always done a good blusher, and for the upcoming A/W the new shade is called Inspiration. Not yet available though, but you can find other shades from Chanel. Their blusher colours are subtle so incredibly user friendly.

Eyes are lightly lined with a pencil, with lots of black mascara on the top lashes. But this is where this look gets different. Platinum sequins are glued on around the eyes ensuring plenty of light would be reflected. Get your own sequins on with the help of Frontcover Cosmetics, their Sparkler kit comes with extras and with the glitter sealing gel to keep the sequins in place.

What stops this look getting all romantic and too girly are the eyebrows, strong and arched and beautifully filled in. Really good eyebrow pencils are available from Sisley, Laura Mercier and Shiseido. Choose a colour that suits your natural eyebrow and hair colour.

Keep the lips nude and sheer. Mix some Chanel Conditioning lip balm with some Precision lip liner in Pretty pink.

There you have it, your own Chanel catwalk look. You certainly don’t have to wait for the next season to wear it, now is always good!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Beauty Photos Archive

Thought I'd break the text again for the people who like to look at the pictures.... Featuring lots of glitter!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Bullshit Alert Skincare Ingredients – Tourmaline And Amethyst

Tourmaline is a mineral. It’s used in hairdryers to create ionic charge. The reason behind it is that the tourmaline itself generates electrical charge when under pressure and during temperature changes. How that works is a mystery to me, but I own an ionic hairdryer and it possibly dries my hair quicker than a normal dryer. Possibly. It could well be a placebo effect.

Amethyst is also a mineral. Folklore says it’s a good luck stone that dispels bad energy. Allegedly is beneficial for infrared radiation and negative ions.

But in skin creams? Please. None of the above applies to skin creams, but a super expensive face cream Nectar Opulent from By Terry claims it’s a magic ingredient. Magic is the price too. You will want to believe in good luck after spending £240. Sorry By Terry, you have some good make up products, but this cream is a "walk on the wild side". Someone prove me wrong please.  Ingredients below.

water, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, dimethicone, glycerin, methyl methacrylate crosspolymer, boron nitride, glycol palmitate, PEG-20 methyl glucose sesquistearate, butylene glycol, methyl glucose sesquistearate, cetyl palmitate, sodium acrylate/sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, hydrogenated coconut oil, dimethicone crosspolymer, cetearyl alcohol, parfum/fragrance, tocopherol, isohexadecane, phenoxyethanol, pearl powder, methylparaben, polymethyl methacrylate, polysorbate 80, mica, laureth-3, CI 77891/titanium dioxide, chlorphenesin, tetrasodium EDTA, hydroxyethylcellulose, butylparaben, ethylparaben, amethyst powder, tourmaline, acetyl dipeptide-1, cetyl ester, isobutylparaben, propylparaben, cyathea medullaris leaf extract, prolinamidoethyl imidazole, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, tocopheryl acetate, phalaenopsis amabilis extract, sodium methylparaben, alpha-isomethyl ionone, benzyl salicylate, butylphenyl methylpropional, citronellol, coumarin, eugenol, geraniol, hexyl cinnamal, hydroxycitronellal, hydroxyexyl 3-cyclohexene, carboxaldehyde, limonene, linalool.

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Ingredients In Colour Cosmetics - Make Up

I made it my mission to go through the ingredients of cosmetics, so I somewhat neglected to list a colour cosmetics ingredients. Why? You can say I was focusing more on the wild claims made by skincare brands on how different your life would be if you bought into some of those claims.

Colour cosmetics don’t make such claims, not the ones that will stop you from ageing and the like, they do some different ones which I’ll cover at a later date.  Mascara and foundation, I’ll be looking at you soon!

The colour pigments that are used in making the colour cosmetics are the most regulated in the world. Different countries have different rules, but generally you’ll find Japan to have the most stringent safety regulations for cosmetics. The EU and USA are behind and you’ll find that most breakthrough make up innovations come from Asia these days.

The colours come into two groups: organic and inorganic.

Inorganic are the mineral pigments (I bet this inorganic and organic matter confuses people) that are found around the Earth as compounds of transition metals. The inorganic colours are:

Iron oxides (reds, browns, black and yellows that can be mixed and blended together), chromium oxide, (green), ultramarine (blue, purple), titanium dioxide/zinc oxide (white and uv protection).

Organic pigments are organic molecules that start with N or S or similar (not the names but their chemical or dye name). They are anthraquinone (green), AZO colourants (red and yellow), Triarylmethane (blue and green), Xanthenes (red, orange), and some natural colourants such as caramel, caretonoids etc. The problem with these natural ones is that they very often stink and they are unstable.

Then we have fillers and finishers. Those are the ones that make the product “glide” and spread evenly. The most usual of those are talc (a widespread mineral) and mica (potassium aluminum silicate – another mineral).

Fillers and finishers also include emulsifiers, preservatives, fragrance, and so on.

In a nutshell, that’s it. I’ll come back later to discuss mascaras. If any of you want to experiment with making your own lipstick or eye shadow , please make sure that the pigments you use are safe to be used either around eyes or lips!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Sulphates – What’s the Fuss and What Are They?

Sulphates (sulfates), or sodium laureth sulphate, ammonium laurel sulphate and sodium lauryl sulphates are well known foaming agents or detergents used in loads of cosmetics products and industrial cleaners. 

When I say in loads of products, I’m not joking. Sulphates are in toothpaste, shampoos, washing up liquid, shower gels, cleansers, laundry detergents, bath salts, hair colours etc. Pretty much in everything that cleans, foams and washes.

The sulphates originate from coconuts so they can be both created from nature or in a lab. They are cheap to produce and do the job well.

But they can also cause irritation. The sulphates that come from coconuts are no less likely to cause irritation than the lab created ones, but the “green” or “natural” manufacturers will never say that their products contain sulphates, it will be called “natural detergents from coconuts” or something like that. I just thought I’d let you know in case you’re convinced you are using something sulphate free when in fact you might not be at all.

Now the major issue about sulphates are that some studies show that they are possibly linked to some cell mutations that lead to cancers. Other studies are inconclusive and claim that the concentration of detergents present is never high enough to cause any damage. Plus there’s also skin’s permeability. Most sulphates will not be absorbed through the skin or stratum corneum, but there is some danger that they can be absorbed via eyes and other mucous membranes. Now some say that there are the cumulative effects to take into consideration too. So the jury’s still out.

Where do I stand on sulphates? To be honest I’m a bit in the middle about it all.

To me if I can’t see the irritation, it’s probably ok.

Saying that I don’t leave cleansers on for longer than necessary. I don’t take long foamy baths, but I’m happy to take my make up off with foamy cleanser.

At the end of the day I like stuff to do the business it’s made to do. I don’t generally like brands or products that centre their marketing about things their products “don’t contain” or are “free from”. Seriously, I don’t care. Tell me please what is actually in your products that will do the job that it’s designed to do.
And write the ingredients in their latin name and state the source where it comes from. Then I’ll be very happy.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Blow To Go - New Hair Service

There's an exciting new service that my hairdresser friend Oliver de Almeida has set up not long ago and as it's such a brilliant and obvious idea I thought I'd give it a shout out.

Going to the hairdresser's has always been a bit of a pain to me. First you need to book an appointment and then get there, then if you're lucky you don't wait around too much and then you're faced with staring at yourself not looking your best, putting it mildly. If you don't have a life then this might be a fun day out, but for most people it's a chore. 

That's where's Blow To Go different, instead they come to you. Plus they are really good. I've known Ollie for years, we worked together many times and not only he's an amazing hairdresser, but he's super cute and charming, and he's a nicest guy you'll ever meet. Plus he has a lovely Brazilian accent which is a bonus :) The rest of his team are just as lovely!

You do everything online, the booking, picking the stylist, the time and the payment. Then you can get on with whatever you were doing.... Cool, yeah?

This is the website so check it out!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Celebrities No Make Up Trend

You probably noticed since a few months ago that more and more celebrities are going out make up free on purpose. Or are “accidentally” papped with “nothing" on their faces. US television show The Talk had the whole show presented by unmade up presenters. And now W magazine, the holy grail of fashion cool has done a non-scripted, non-made up fashion story with some very famous people. What up, you may wonder? Have they all of a sudden become all devoid of vanity? Yeah, right.

I call it photoshop damage control PR spin. Not thought of a catchy name yet, feel free to drop me a line if you come up with something better.

We have all seen some images of celebs retouched to infinity so they no longer resemble themselves. Call it the ultimate makeover or whatnot. And rightly so, the general public started to complain, especially if that said celebrity is flogging some “looking younger” cream where the “younger” effects are achieved by some skilled individual on their Apple Mac. And their Adobe CS.

Photoshop in modern digital photography is pretty much a necessity. Film used to lose some detail but the digital technology picks up every little bit that the naked eye could not even see. So, it needs to be done, so it would not be detracting the attention from whatever is being shown. Imagine a lovely beauty shot advertising mascara and there’s a zit on model’s face and some fine hairs above the top lip (not calling it a moustache).  Once you “spot” those bits it’s like you can’t stop seeing them. Game over. Mascara what? So you get my point.

But vanity retouching is not just cleaning up the bits like the skin, hair, etc. It’s body reshaping, eye bags removing, double chin-ectomy, bingo-wings de-flapper and the usual “how to lose twenty years in half an hour”.

So some big shot clever PRs, who are paid big bucks to “look after their clients” and assure they keep getting those lucrative endorsements, thought of a great way of doing that. Stars going out with no make up. Genius. The stars still look “good enough” but real. But definitely not perfect to alienate the public.

Except they are really not walking around with zero make up. Just less of it. The Daily Mail machine is working hard to bombard us with those images and make it a “story”. So when you see a celebrity with no make up walking down the street shot, remember they most likely have concealer, a bit of foundation, a bit of blush and some mascara. And lipstick. 

So when the celebs get that beauty campaign and get so retouched/botoxed/filler-ed up they can always credit a good make up artist for looking like that. For sure. 

Post Holiday Blues

I kept meaning to write something for a while but it just wasn’t happening.
I wanted to do a make up feature for Christmas, but I didn’t feel like there was much going on to inspire me… dark lips, matte skin, nothing new, etc. New eyelash lines popping all the time, call it the Essex effect or whatever you want, but nothing interesting.

And then my laptop decided to have a hissy fit again which resulted in me crying at Apple store at the rude and unsympathetic “genius” (they should really stop calling them that, genius means the IQ higher than 140 and I’m positive he wasn’t that smart). Anyway it all ended well due to my sheer determination and persistence, my laptop got fixed without too much expense.  But I was without it for a month.  So I couldn’t write. I mean, I could, but wasn’t feeling it.

So, what now? It’s January, PRs are busy again sending press releases about spring looks and that fake holiday planted in February to make February marginally interesting. And some people lonely. The Valentine’s.
Refuse to add to that, so count me out.

There is one thing I can recommend during this time of year. Pampering. The perfect time. Long baths, oils, skin nutrition, call it whatever you like, it makes sense. Think about it. You’ve probably had somewhat excessive Christmas holidays, even if you don’t celebrate it, short cold days and long nights mean a lot of food and alcohol being consumed. It’s the law. In January we regret it all and want to be “good” so we promise ourselves diet and exercise. And we fail miserably.

One way to go about feeling better about yourself is a little bit of rough loofa love. Exfoliate. Your skin is suffering from temperature changes, central heating, cold and wind. Be kind to it. Exfoliate the body after a good long soak. Massage rich creams and lotions that smell nice. My favourite scented body cream is Narciso Rodriguez, it automatically makes me feel better. Start preparing your body for spring and summer by regular body brushing, get that circulation going.

Apply nourishing face masks. Shed the last year’s skin and let the new year’s skin come shining through. Massage your face. Learn how to do a simple Shiatsu face massage technique, it really makes a lot of difference in skin tone. Generally adopt a "pamper" day as one day of the week. Not talking about a whole day here, but zone out for an hour or so.

That’s plenty to do in January for now. The future will be orange.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Sorry I've been away from my blog for a while, computer issues! Will be back soon with some new post!

Hope you've had good holidays xxx