Friday, 26 November 2010

Tomorrow I will mostly be wearing...


Isn't it hideous? And kinda wonderful.

I hope to add a little Rabbit factor with a fishtail black skirt and mary jane heels.

And also this, a graduation gift from my lovely sister.

(In silver. And yes, it clashes with the blue and the red, but I don't care.)

Thursday, 25 November 2010

NOTD: Models Own Purple Grey

Ah Purple Grey. I bought it before the whole Paradoxal shenanigans took place (smug much, me?) but it was late spring (yes there was such a time) and it didn't feel seasonally appropriate. Well it sure as hell is appropriate now.

Personally, I think I prefer it to Paradoxal (though I don't have it to compare). I think the absence of shimmer enables the complexity of the colour to shine. It's a beautiful polish in its own right, really, soft and feminine, but moody too. Wear was excellent - 4 days+ without chipping, and I think I could've got away with two coats.

I layered it a few days later with a Max Factor Mini polish in pewter. This is a shimmer (yes I'm a hypocrite I know) but when I bought it what mesmerised me was the green microglitter suspended in the grey shimmer. I layered it very thinly over Purple Grey - not because I wanted to dupe Paradoxal but because I thought the interplay of colours would be nice. It was - but did my camera capture this? Nope. Actually it makes it look pretty horrible. But it wasn't, believe me!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

My Hair Routine

So this'd be a simple, short post right? Er, nope. Sorry. Prepare for an involved list of products. My excuse? I have near-waist length thick very dry hair and not one product works on its own to manage, moisturise and make it sleek. It's also colour-treated, cut only every six months, and blow dried every time it's washed. I do like to put it through the ringer! My hair is dry at the ends, but since I have switched to SLS-free shampoo, and as I boasted yesterday, I don't have a single split end. Hairdressers sometimes don't believe me and check through it in wonder! This was definitely not the case before though - sometimes I used to get those split ends that split over and over again down the shaft. I was weirdly fascinated by those. So I can definitely attribute it to switching.

I wash my hair every third day - as I said it's very dry and doesn't need washing more than this. I don't have a very recent picture of just how long it has got at the back, but this picture, though rubbish in quality, shows how thick it is:

And this is my regimen at the moment:

I am an SLS-free convert, as I've mentioned before. At the moment I am using a customised mixture of Waitrose Organic Moisurising shampoo with Naked Colour Protection shampoo. On its own, the Waitrose doesn't foam at all and is really runny but is very gentle and non-stripping (not something that can be said of all SLS-free shampoos, alas). But adding the Naked helps it clean the hair better as well as helping to preserve colour.

For those who've asked (The lovely, ultra-creative Bibbitybob!) I'm very interested to try the Liz Earle shampoo after my mix has run out. Having tested a fair few (Dr Organic: drying; Trilogy - contains AL; Lavera - drying) the best SLS-free shampoo I've tried has to be Daniel Galvin Junior: it's light, foams well, doesn't strip the hair dry, and smells lovely, and costs about £4. It's available from Waitrose, and the only reason I don't use it all the time is because I don't live near one!

Here's where it starts to get complicated! My hair is at different stages of dryness at its different lengths and thus requires different conditioners.

Firstly - scalp/roots: I know a lot of people don't condition scalp and roots but I have very dry skin, my scalp flakes and itches if I don't. I also colour my hair (I have a lot of greys, thanks to both of my parents who went grey very young), so I use a basic colour save conditioner on my scalp and roots. At the moment it is Herbal Essences which I find is working well and leaves my hair shiny and my colour definitely boosted.

Secondly: mid-lengths: my mid lengths are dry, but get weighed down with super-rich conditioners so I use Aussie Luscious Long 3 Minute Miracle here. It prevents knotting and is a fantastic high street conditioner!

Finally: ends: very, very dry. I should really get them cut! In the mean time, I'm using Dark & Lovely Ultra-Rich Hair Cholesterol on them, a product for Afro hair but which beats pretty much any high street conditioning mask I've tried for softening and moisturising my dry ends. But it's too rich for all my hair so I just use it on the ends.


When my hair is towel dry, I load it with a series of products to make it look straight and sleek. I realise this is a heck of a lot of 'cones, and perhaps a little hypocritical or at least contradictory given how evangelical I am about SLS-free, but this is what works on my crazy hair!

First: a tiny amount of Organic Root Stimulator Olive Oil Hair Moisturising Lotion on the ends. Less than a pea-sized amount, but keeps it soft.

Secondly: a pea-sized amount of L'Oreal Liss Control Cream combed throughout hair. (This has been an HG for me for years, and is always on the Instyle Beauty Awards, rightly so I think!)

Thirdly: a spritz of heat control spray (I spray two sprays into my palm and smooth over my hair to prevent it getting sprayed in one place only): I'm using Lee Stafford stuff which is fine.

Finally: a pea-sized amount of Aussie Take the Heat Control Cream throughout my hair. This stuff is my newest discovery and has made such a difference to my hair!

Then I blow dry it when it's dried naturally a bit, and brush with my massive Denman brush and I'm good to go (ha! so low-maintenance, isn't it?) Sometimes if it's looking a little lacklustre, I'll smooth over the tiniest bit of The Body Shop Coconut Hair Shine over it, but this tends to make it greasy more quickly so I only usually do this for going out or special occasions.

I've just experimented with a minimalised version of the styling products, using just the Aussie Take the Heat cream. It looks really smooth and even thicker than usual, but it's a little dry. I wonder if it's the Liss Control Cream or the Lee Stafford spray that makes it softer? Hmmm.

So there you go.

What's your hair routine? Do you have any HG products?

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

SLS-free Shower Gels: Three Reviews

I'm trying to rid my routines of all SLS and ALS products, now that I've seen the difference it's made to my scalp (no longer sore or bleeding) and split ends (I have none! none whatsoever! and I get my hair cut every six months and blowdry it every three days!) I have super itchy dry skin (oh how I love being atopic: the holy trinity of eczema, asthma and allergic rhinitus are mine for life, hooray) and so using a decent non-drying shower gel is a must for me. These are three I've tried recently.

Naked Love Me Rose Shower Gel

This is a good shower gel, if you like rose scents. I like my rose scents on the foodie, Turkish Delight side, rather than the floral, but this is a definite fresh, floral rose and really pungent. If you like that kind of thing, it's lovely. It's also not as moisturising as I'd like and leaves my skin feeling a little tight before I slather on the Aveeno Skin Relief Lotion for Extra Dry Skin. But the £4 bottle lasts an absolute age. But it's not one I'll rebuy - I've bought the Coco de Mer one to try next instead.

Waitrose Organic Reviving Body Wash, £3.90

I love the scent of this stuff! Like chocolate orange with a hint of spice - a milk chocolate version of Green & Black's Maya Gold, if you will (it's very sweet rather than bitter, hence milk rather than dark chocolate). So few SLS-free products smell sweet and edible - generally scents seem to be of the lavender, geranium or citrus varieties (I imagine these essential oils are most intensely perfumed). But this - it's delicious! It's really comforting, and I used it up really quickly because I loved it so much. It's rather runny and doesn't foam well but I don't care. The next time I'm at a Waitrose, I'm picking myself up 3 of these babies. It's going to make my 6am starts in winter a lot more pleasant.

Cowshed Lazy Cow Shower Gel, £16

No, I didn't spend £16 on a SHOWER GEL. I got it free with Marie Claire and used it on holiday in Turin. As you can tell by now, I'm not a fan of floral or musky scents: I like mind sugary sweet, so I wasn't looking forward to using this jasmine and sandalwood scented gel. But I actually really liked it  -it was heady and exotic and somehow very soothing and relaxing. I do really love jasmine flowers and it's a true representation. It left my skin moisturised too. If Cowshed shower gels had about £10 knocked off their price, I might consider purchasing but at £16, I'm not going to. Shame, as the scent will always remind me of one of the best holidays of my life.

Anyone else out there converted to the ways of SLS-free? I would really love a vanilla or gourmand scented showergel that is SLS-free, can anyone suggest one?

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Autumn/Winter 2010 Fashion

So here's me getting back on the blogging horse proper.

I've loved this season's fashion. It's been a breath of ladylike and work-appropriate air after years of tacky 1980s reruns. For a while I was getting a bit worried about where I might source replacements for some of my worn out clothes from a few years' back, as everything in the shops looked so hideous! But thankfully, this year thanks to Mad Men, Louis Vuitton and Prada's influence on the high street, I've managed to replenish a tired and worn wardrobe with simple, grownup dresses, decent quality cardigans, and some cute accessories. Here are my highlights:

Zara has been a great friend with these brilliantly-priced £23 dresses, of which I now have three in black, leopard, and plum rose print. They are jersey (so comfortable and easy to wear) but the tulip shape is a great one for curvy girls (as evidenced by Joan Holloway in practically every episode of Mad Men!)

New Look have refreshed my extensive (but now bobbly) cardigan collection with great colours, thick
 pure cotton, and reasonably-priced offerings like this one:

And Clarks have provided me shiny "school" shoes that are comfortable and yet click like heels.

Finally, it's a little silly how much joy this necklace has given me. The globe, it spins! One side is burgundy enamel and the other is dark green, two of my favourite winter colours. The land masses do correspond vaguely to a proper globe (I'm geeky like this!) And it makes me think of the time turner in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (except that I fancy my pendant is more of a geographical transporter than a time machine...). I was wishing I had a globetrotter friend I could buy it for, but then reasoned that as I work in world literature it should be mine - and more importantly, the globe, it spins!,4,shop,jewelleryshop,jewelleryshopnecklaces


From time to time I just get out of writing this blog - and I realise with a shock that I've only posted once in over a month. It's occasionally hard to manage when I have a job that involves a lot of writing on my laptop and long hours at it. Sometimes I just can't justify the time on something (I see) as so indulgent (for me!) - especially when the choice is between writing the blog and spending time with friends or Bartimaeus. But I will endeavour to be better - and thank you all for your patience in the mean time.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


It seems some product developers have been in my head.

Firstly, I've been dreaming up trio and quatro-chrome nail polishes that mimic the iridescence of beetle wings and petrol in water. And lo and behold, along come Orly's Space Cadet and Out of this World.

Secondly, I loved a rabbit print scarf in Oasis but disliked the pale pink base and wished it would come in a more wearable colour. Lo and behold, it is now available in cream:

Thirdly, I've been dreaming of a loukhoum ("turkish delight") scented fragrance that is more attainable than Serge Lutyen's exclusive Rahat Loukhoum (only available from his Paris boutique). Lo and behold, Jo Malone produces Rose Water and Vanilla.

Fourthly, I was impatient for the 80s fashion trend to be over and for a return to feminine fashion. Lo and behold, a season dedicated to all things Mad Men.

Finally, I conceived of an ever-replenishing wallet that immediately replaces the notes taken out of it. Still waiting on that one...