I wondered why I thought this was familiar when I was testing it and reading about it in store - when I got it home I realised it reminds me of Darphin's Purifying Balm and Decleor's balms, and of Eve Lom and Boots Time Delay cleansing balms! These all exist to serve similar but different purposes (cleasing, purifying, moisturizing, calming, relaxing...), but Neal's Yard's version exists to serve all of these! I tend only to use balms in the winter when my combo/sensitive/acne-prone skin gets super sensitive and dry due to the low humidity levels and central heating, and I've been applying this as a moisturizer. It absorbs very quickly and doesn't leave any residue whatsoever. I then layer some Rosehip Oil (also Neal's Yard) on top and my skin is super soft and plump the next morning. It's very good at calming blemishes (although I suspect it won't be able to prevent the hormonals) and healing my skin. I've been using this every other night in case my skin gets congested - I warm a little between my palms and press into my skin. There's loads of product if you use it as moisturizer/treatment, but will run out quickly if you use it as cleanser. Comes in a navy glass jar as with most Neal's Yard products, but expires within 4 months of opening (which means I'll probably have to use it as mask or cleanser as I don't anticipate finishing it within the expiration date if used as moisturizer). There are some great reviews below on the versatility of this product. Costs GBP22.00 for 40g including muslin cloth (available online: http://shop.nealsyardremedies.com). UPDATE: have been using this every night as my skin seems to tolerate it quite well - doesn't break me out, congest my skin or make me oily. It's been nearly 2 months and I'm nowhere near half way through my jar.
I'm really impressed with this mask. It's deep cleansing action is great (soaks up oil) but doesn't dry out my combo/sensitive/acne-prone skin. Unfortunately, it doesn't completely get rid of the blackheads - it does loosen them and I need to do a bit of extraction afterwards. Comes in powder form in a pink container with sift, which you pour into a dish and mix with water or toner (and essential oils if you wish) to form a paste. I'd compare this to Mario Badescu's Silver Powder (which I also love), but this is much easier to remove with just water (Silver Powder takes some strong toner, or water plus some scrubbing). Definitely repurchasing this. Costs GBP9.50 for 1.8oz from hqhair.com (MB Silver Powder is GBP11.50 for 1oz).
Loose Powders -Givenchy - Prisme Libre Loose Powder Quartet Air Sensation
littlelamb 3/7/2008 7:20:00 AM
I was talked into buying this by the Givency SA when I was lemming one of their blushes which was sold out - she recommended this powder in Sweet Caramel or Fresh Rose to add a healthy tint to my cheeks - but I was after more impact from a proper blush! Anyway - she tested these colours on the back of my hands, and I fell in love with the super-fine texture. It was so fine and silky soft that it sunk into my hands immediately, and made them look so unbelievably smooth and soft! Since my loose powder was beginning to run out I decided to buy a shade closer to my skin colour (MAC nc25-30) for setting liquid foundation. Delicious beige is a pretty close match - I shake some on to the small puff that's included, then dab a large powder brush on to the puff to pick up a light layer of powder. I buff this on top of foundation and the tiny shimmers blend into my skin to form a lovely invisible glow without emphasizing my crater-sized pores. My skin tends to get a little oily by about lunch-time (combo/sensitive/acne-prone skin) and this doesn't really prevent the oilies, so I carry blotting paper for touch-ups (I've found that powders that mattify and prevent oiliness also tend to dehydrate my skin, so I stear away from those). The packaging is fairly bulky, as it's made up of 4 individual cube containers, so you actually don't get as much product as you would from a usual container of that size. You get a small puff that sits on top of the combined sifter, so you if wanted to use only 1 or 2 of the powders, you would have to dip your brush on the area of the puff that picks up that colour (bearing in mind that the puff isn't always replaced on the sifter in the same position), or cover the holes distributing the colours that you don't wish to use. Having said that the packaging is very glam and totally covetable! Delicious Beige consists of 2 yellow-toned beige powders, plus 2 blue-toned powders in light pink and lavendar. Bought this from Debenhams (UK stores) for GBP27.00 on promotion ((usual price GBP30.00).
The shimmery/metallic smudge pots are a much improved formula to the originals. I bought Bronze and Jade a few years back when they were ltd ed as I had read many reviews on MUA that these are much creamier and easier to blend. They really are a huge improvement! I apply this as liner by applying with a tiny brush, or as shadow by applying a thicker layer (rather than applying several layers which makes it cake up) then blending outwards with smudger. The finish is a deep silvery/khaki/grey/green with a shimmery-metallic finish which isn't over the top and very wearable. I prefer to use this colour as a shadow than liner, as it's very blendable. A few years on and this is as easily blendable as when I first bought it. It fades slightly by evening (unless you apply very thickly) but it doesn't smudge or flrake once dry (so no raccoon eyes). This isn't a colour I use alot but I wouldn't hesitate to repurchase when I run out, or when it eventually dries up.
The shimmery/metallic smudge pots are a much improved formula to the originals. I bought Bronze and Jade a few years back when they were ltd ed as I had read many reviews on MUA that these are much creamier and easier to blend. They really are a huge improvement! I apply this as liner by applying with a tiny brush, or as shadow by applying a thicker layer (rather than applying several layers which makes it cake up) then blending outwards with smudger. The finish is a deep bronzey-brown with a shimmery-metallic finish which isn't over the top and very wearable. I really wish the original smudge pots came in this formula so I wouldn't have thrown out my 'Gray' pot. A few years on and this is as easily blendable as when I first bought it. It fades slightly by evening (unless you apply very thickly) but it doesn't smudge or flrake once dry (so no raccoon eyes). I have yet to repurchase cream/gel liners and as I've bought so many (Stila, MAC, Clinique, BB, Benefit) and have yet to finish an entire pot, but this is one that's high on my repurchase list.
I bought Stila's Smudge Pot in Gray when it was first launched a few years back. I remember testing it in Selfridges and really liking it - the colour, the consistency, the finish and the longevity. Unfortunately the jar didn't last long - it dried up pretty quickly and became hard and difficult to apply and blend after about 3 months. I kept it for about a year hoping to find a way of using it with its dry consistency, but eventually threw it out as it was too much hassle. It was, however, a wonderful deep slate grey that's very neutral and a good alternative to black - would work with most skintones and eye colours without looking harsh. Comes in a satisfyingly sturdy glass jar with screw-top lid. I later bought the ltd ed smudge pots (which became permanent lines) in bronze and jade, which are a much creamier consistency (see separate reviews).
Candles -L'Occitane - Cherry Blossom floating candles
littlelamb 2/29/2008 5:17:00 AM
These are my favourate candles! I am not really a candle person unless there's a power-cut, but I really love L'Occitane's Cherry Blossom candles. In fact I love the scent of these more than the original Cherry Blossom fragrance, as these are slightly sweeter, and envelope the room without being heavy or headache-inducing. After the recent launch of the ltd ed Cherry EDT, I've discovered that these candles smell more like the Cherry EDT than the original Cherry Blossom. I love these so much that I went out to buy a pretty crystal bowl to hold these romantic candles. Costs GBP15.00 for 6x40g, or GBP16.00 for 1 large 100g candle.
I was sent a sample of this limited edition EDT 'Cherry' or Cerisier' by L'Occitane, and I'm seriously considering purchasing a full bottle. It's a fruitier version of the the original Cherry Blossom and opens with very delicious fruity sweet cherries. This gradually disappears and settles into the original scent - a soft and gentle floral which is pleasant and wearable. I actually prefer this alot more to the original version, however, they do have the same drydown and I cannot justify spending another GBP30.00 on a 100ml bottle when I've hardly used my last bottle. They come in identical glass bottles but with a different sticky label on the front, and the liquid is a slightly brighter pink. If I hadn't already purchased Cherry Blossom I wouldn't hesitate buying Cherry. L'Occitane have also launched a 'Fragrant Tounch' perfume gel (GBP13.00 for 7.5ml) which comes in a tiny portable vial so that you can dab on pulse points throughout the day, but given that I also have the solid perfume, I don't think I'll be purchasing the gel.
Recently launched (Feb 2008) in time for Valentines - this is a more intense version of last year's Ruban Orange (which I love). Starts off with deliciously juicy sweet blood-orange, and as an improvement from Ruban Orange, the juicy notes are detectable alongside the middle notes and drydown. The woodsy-tea notes are almost identical to Ruban Orange, lasting maybe a tad longer. It's still not a strong fragrance and is more of a splash, but I love the intensified orange! Absolutely delicious for spring and summer. Costs GBP28.00 for 60ml (Ruban Orange costs GBP30 for 100ml), and comes in a simple but fiery red-orange spray bottle. This is ltd ed. I'm waiting for L'Occitane to launch their new intensified Cherry Blossom fragrance later this week in time for Mother's Day - apparently it's supposed to be fruitier than last year's version...
Fragrances -The Body Shop - Japanese Cherry Blossom EDT
littlelamb 2/5/2008 4:38:00 AM
I tested Japanese Cherry Blossom in store several times last week. I thought it would be an improvement on L'Occitane's Cherry Blossom which was launched in spring last year, but was unfortunately let down. To my nose it smelt like soap and shampoo (though not in a bad way). It was slightly aquatic with vague soapy-fruity-floral hints, like some MUAers on the Fragrance Board have already mentioned, and I really couldn't detect any of the florals listed (jasmine, cherry blossom, magnolia or osmanthus - all notes I love...). This isn't bad in itself, but it just doesn't smell like it should be a perfume - I even tried layering the body lotion, body butter and EDT to see if that would make a difference, but that just emphasised the soapiness. It was as if TBS rushed this out unfinished and incomplete to get it launched on time for Valentines. Even the plain glass bottle with sticker-label on the front wasn't well thought out (TBS have done much better than this before). Oh well. Costs GBP14.00 for 50ml. Notes: Top notes: Fuji apple, chinese magnolia and osmanthus flower. Heart notes: Star jasmine, japanese cherry blossom and japanese persimmon. Base notes: Sandalwood, hinoki wood, and fruity musk.
I've been lemming this for ages and only just managed to get hold of a bottle as there's only 1 Fresh store in the UK (boo!). Upon first spray I found the ginger note pronounced and almost overbearing - it tames down a little later on, but does maintain a presence. The lovely peach notes warm up nicely with the osmanthus and these 2 blend beautifully together like early evening sunshine. For an osmanthus-based fragrance it's not quite so bright and doesn't capture the golden sunshine spirit that OJ's Osmanthus portrays, nor the romantically poetic charm of PDE's Osmanthus Interdite, but neither is it vague and linear like TDC's Osmanthus. It's a wonderful mix which is neither too fruity, too floral nor too musky. Sake is a rich character in itself and contains none of the generic nonsense of recent launches. Comes in a simple glass bottle (which looks like a mini wine bottle) with screw-top and separate spray mechanism, and costs GBP47.00 for 100ml. I purchased this from the Fresh store on Marylebone High Street in London and received lots of samples from the friendly SA.
Fragrances -Unlisted Brand - Parfum d'Empire Osmanthus Interdite
littlelamb 1/17/2008 7:19:00 AM
A truly beautiful, dreamy, romantic and poetic scent.... I bought this without sniffing as I was intrigued to have discovered another scent based around the Osmanthus flower. Well - I was actually under-satisfied with the clarity of the osmanthus in this scent, but nevertheless, it is a perfect fragrance in itself. Starts off with fruity but gentle apricot, then settles into a smooth honeyed jasmine-osmanthus blended tea - so well blended that you lose the clarity between the osmanthus and the jasmine. All the florals in this are shy and timid, but maintain a presence throughout. I would refer to this as a 'tea' scent rather than a 'floral', and I find it wearable in all seasons. One spray is enough to last throughout the whole day (DH couldn't resist sniffing me as we had dinner at home after work - that's how well it lasted~!). It's packaged in a tall and elegant yet simple glass bottle with chic gold cap, inside a beautiful green tube that looks like very expensive tea! Costed £69.50 for 100ml.
Primer/ Corrector -Chanel - Base Lumiere - Illuminating Makeup Base
littlelamb 1/11/2008 5:28:00 AM
This is a wonderful base by Chanel. I apply this around my eyes to brighten up the whole area, and a tiny bit on my cheekbones when I'm wearing full-on MU, and it works brilliantly without changing my skintone or the tone of my foundation or powder. I don't use this over my pores or blemishes/scars, as I find that Blanc Universel works better for that as it's more mattifying. Base Lumiere is like applying a highlighter around the eye area but without the sparkle - just a hint of pearliness, which is barely apparent once you've blended it into your skin. I prefer using this to any of the other under-eye concealors/highlighters that are currently all the hype. I do agree that all square bottle packaging sucks - why do they use it??? You can store it upside down to access it easier when the bottle is relatively full, but would probably have to transfer it into another container when you get to the last drops. I bought this a couple of years ago for GBP18.00, but I think it's currently retailing at GBP20.00. For this price you actually get a lot more product than most concealors/highlighters out there. Will repurchase.
The pomegranate note in this is lovely - a real surprise in perfume because you don't come across this often. The patchouli is dominant - sometimes bordering on overpowering (and this is coming from a patchouli enthusiast - I love patch!), I don't smell the other fruits or pink pepper, but frankincense is apparent whilst the other spices remain dormant, appearing every so often to remind you that they do exist. The drydown of this fragrance is very bitter - it reminds me of herbal medicine, but not in an unappetizing way! I like this fragrance, but I shan't be repurchasing because it's somehow not very 'me' - though I do wear it layered with Blue Agava & Cacao (the sweetness in that tames the bitterness in Pomegranate Noir).
This is a light yet cosy comfort scent for me. The citruses in this keep a low profile whilst the cocoa is delicious, and the drydown of gentle powdery woods and spices are very dreamy and comforting. If you spray once you get gentle clouds wafting close to you as you move. This is one of the softest fragrances I've smelt - if I smelt this on a stranger I'd have to restrain myself from giving them a cuddle. Comes in a simple and sleek rectangular glass bottle wrapped in black tissue and a chic beige box. This is a definite repurchase for me - I'm lemming the complementary products in this range! Costs GBP30.00 for 30ml.