Do any of you have any huge objections if I widen the scope of my monthly favourites round-ups to include stuff other than beauty? I feel it would inject some new and welcome joie de vivre into what is an old – yet surprisingly still very popular – format.
The only problem might be (spoiler alert!) is that some of the items, if I’m let loose completely from my self-imposed constraints, might be a bit random. For example this month, had I been given free rein, I would most probably have included a faux-antique rug in my favourites as well as a vintage BelgoChrom table I picked up (not literally) from Belgium for an absolute steal.
I don’t mean to imply that all of the favourites would be interiors-related – I’ve also had a great love-affair with a new Amazon Prime TV series this month – I’m just throwing some examples out there. So what do you think? Death to the (exclusively) beauty favourites? Bring in a new era? Or are you change-averse?
(If you are incredibly change-averse then I do genuinely feel for you. 2020 is most certainly not your year.)
Let me know in the comments, please – I do love a spot of market research on here! But for now, on with the beauty favourites. I’ve mostly avoided skincare this month despite racking up a fair few new discoveries that were deserving of a big mention, and that’s because I’m judging the Marie Claire skincare awards. It would be slightly disingenuous to go shouting my mouth off about my favourites whilst others are still doing their solemn judging.
So two bodycare items, two makeup favourites and one thing that is skincare but not quite as you know it. Shall we start with that one? It’s called a ZitSticka and it’s a small patch infused with potent spot-fighting ingredients that you stick over an emerging or early-bird blemish. You know when you have that hard swelling beneath the skin and your heart sinks because you know it’ll take long and painful days to erupt into anything you can (illegally) squeeze?
That’s what these ZitStickas are aimed at. I actually did an ad for this product at the very start of the year, having used it over the Christmas zit period, but I’ve had a fairly spot-free spring and summer and so hadn’t needed them since. But boy did last month’s PMT week see a beauty of a boil! The perfect pustule to place a Sticka on and I was delighted to find that it worked just as well as at Christmas. From hard, red skin to…absolutely nothing.
The raised bump didn’t disappear completely overnight, I had to take the patch off in the morning and double-obliterate it with a second one, but after that it simply dispersed. No squeezing necessary, which was good as it’s a very bad thing to do with a hard and horrible spot like that.
And to bodycare, where a Mitchum deodorant stole the show. On closer inspection, a “man’s” deodorant but I’m not really sure what makes it manly. The smell is “Cedarwood” but I find it fresh and figgy, which is why it’s in the faves (a good deodorant smell is hard to find), the formula is creamy, aluminium-free and effective.
True fact: to test efficacy I always do a half-half trial, whether it’s foundation, SPF or an exfoliating body lotion. You need to keep one half of your test area free from the product being tested – in this case it was so that I could gauge that day’s sweatiness with one pit and the sweat-fighting prowess of the anti-perspirant with the other.
It did well. The depths of the underarm were fresh even after a brisk walk down the river on a hot day wearing inadvisable levels of cashmere.
You can find Mitchum’s Natural Power deodorants here at Boots*, they are £4.50.
A seasonal favourite now, in the shape of Weleda’s Pine Bath. I know I’ve mentioned this a fair bit over the years and usually it’s more of a winter staple, but I ran out of Epsom Salts the other day (shock horror! fear not, I have reordered) and bathing just wasn’t bathing without something added to the water.
The Weleda bath milks are excellent – lavender would be my warmer months option but nothing beats pine for a bit of a Christmassy run-up. Again, I know I’m early – I’m not wishing Christmas upon anyone for the moment, the last thing we all need is another bloody school holiday! – but if you’re craving those crisp nights and blustery russetty days, this will be your bag.
Weleda Pine Bath Milk is £14 here*.
My next favourite is actually a whole category and so I’m going to sort of mulch over it – if you want more of an in-depth explanation of it then watch the video below. It’s mascaras. All mascaras. I’ve had a sort of renewed falling-in-love of them and have been testing out loads. I am going to be back with a video of my favourite four new mascara launches in the next week or so, but if you can’t wait that long then know that these are currently “the ones”:
Marc Jacobs At Lash’d Mascara, £25 here*
Charlotte Tilbury Push Up Lashes Mascara, £23 here*
Urban Decay Lash Freak Mascara, £21 here*
Dior Overcurl Mascara, £28 here*
All do things to my puny, barely-there lashes that would definitely win prizes, if there were prizes for lash transformations.
And finally another favourite that I’m not going to explain at length; it’s basically anything from Trinny London that counts as “makeup in pots”. In particular the cream eyeshadow in Truth and the cream blush in Electra. I’ve used both so regularly that it would be disingenuous for them not to make an appearance in the monthly hall of fame. You can read my full review of the eye2eye shadows here and the cream blush is online here*.
And there endeth the beauty sermon: it’s all on video right here if you want to see items up close and personal or find out about the makeup I’m wearing. Any extra details are written below the video pane. Enjoy – and let me know whether you’d like me to expand on my favourites categories!
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation in B30, £40 here*
Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow, £49 here*
Pat McGrath Permagel Lipliner, £25 here*
Pat McGrath Lip Balm, £35 here*
Jumper is from Cocoa Cashmere here
Amazing abstract painting in background is by Holly Delaney
Fancy a quick blast through the beauty things that have wowed me recently? Well buckle up, team, this is going to be quite the ride!
I’m exaggerating, obviously, because it’s just a post about beauty favourites so there are never going to be any significant potholes or humpbacked bridges to throw you out of your proverbial seat. I just feel as though I need an inventive and enticing way to introduce the post because beauty feels so…vanilla after all we’ve been chatting about recently. You know, tick removal and having sex with mermaids. As Mr AMR said to me last week: how do you ever go back to normal content when you’ve written about underwater love with a sequinned penis?
(You can read all about the intricacies of merperson sex here.)
But I take pride in my professionalism and so I’m going to try my hardest to get back to business – exemplary eyeshadows, exclusive perfumes and a conditioner that’ll leave your hair silkier than a mermaid’s. Although NOT a mermaid who’s been in an aqua-aerobical tryst with King Triton.
(In fact why would mermaids even have silky hair? Surely the salt water plays absolute havoc! I bet it’s a full time job just keeping it detangled. You’d be there at your clam shell dressing table all day sorting that mess out and don’t even get me started on the amount of moisturiser you’d need for your shrivelled up skin.)
Anyway, back to the favourites: I’m particularly fond of this little collection. A whisper of lace, a hint of sparkle and a whole bucketful of quality essential oil. Sounds like a recipe for my kind of party!
I don’t even know what I mean by that. Here’s the video, but carry on reading for the full post.
My first favourite of the month: the John Masters Organics Honey & Hibiscus Conditioner, £29 here*. I mentioned a mask from the same range a while back and that’s glorious too, but I actually think that the conditioner pips it to the beauty post. It’s quicker, more convenient and leaves your hair just as smooth and silky as the reconstructor treatment. No residue, easy to rinse off, gorgeous smell. It’s just exemplary.
Then the Aromatherapy Associates Shower Oil, £26 here*. You can’t get better than the original, hero product that this brand makes (confusingly called Aromatherapy Associates Bath and Shower Oil); it’s just aromatherapy perfection. One tiny capful of the concentrated oil blend into a warm bath and you’re transformed into whatever improved state the bottle promises – deeply relaxed, perhaps, or lightly revived, depending on which version you choose.
But for those who don’t have a bath, the original is a bit of a faff. You get around the lack of standing water issue by patting a small amount of the oil onto your chest and “inhaling the scent”, but really. It’s a (literal) booby prize in comparison to the real deal, the instant bath-to-spa experience.
And so the new dedicated shower product is a welcome launch – it cleanses and allows you to enjoy the benefits of the aromatherapy blends all at the same time. There are fewer scent versions but the all important and very best one is present – Deep Relax – and for me that’s the only one that matters!
I think my favourite-favourite this month is the beautiful Quentin Monge x Atelier Cologne launch. Atelier Cologne have done quite a few amazing collaborations but this one has really excited me – Quentin Monge produces some of the most recognisable, iconic illustrations in the world and his design for the Clementine California fragrance is so unbelievably cool. This is a proper collector’s item – I can imagine people in 2065 unboxing their pristine Quentin Monge perfumes and making a video for whatever futuristic video platform that exists in 2065.
“GUYS!” they’ll say. “Oh my God, Granny found this awesome box of beauty stuff from the olden days and look at this bottle! I think the woman in the illustration is, like, lying in the sun? Which is weird, but they used to do weird shit back then. LOL. Like go to these places to all eat together, on the same table, in the same room. I think they were called restrooms. Or restaurants. Whatever.”
The fragrance can be bought alone, as a large bottle, or as a very beautiful gift set including a large 100ml bottle, a 30ml bottle and a leather travel pouch. The gift set is £153 at Selfridges here* and the 100ml fragrance is £98 here*. The scent is, as you can probably imagine, very orangey but in a light and sexy way. Incredibly wearable, utterly delicious.
Talking about incredibly wearable and utterly delicious, this month’s favourites round-up includes a wonderful independent lingerie brand called Attollo. Attollo first got in touch with me a couple of years ago when I was talking about annoying bra sizes on Instagram. I kept getting measured in department stores as 30G (I had just stopped breastfeeding, I think!) or 30FF, yet they had very little to offer me in those sizes. It sort of seemed pointless, really, to tell me I was that size. Why give someone a size that isn’t catered for?
So there wasn’t much out there for me at all – a handful of styles I liked – and when Attollo got in touch to say that they actually specialised in small back sizes with large cups I was delighted to see that their bras were dainty, sexy and didn’t have inch-wide rubber backed shoulder straps.
It’s proper treaty underwear – luxury lace, exquisite detailing and flattering longline cuts that make you feel a million dollars. Go and have a meander around on their website – the range is small but everything it needs to be.
Finally, some cream eyeshadows that wowed me and therefore went straight into my permanent makeup bag. Trinny London’s eye2eye cream shadows are well-pigmented, slide on softly and easily but set well and stay on all day. I’ve tried them before and loved them but I usually steer towards the muted neutral tones; a little line-up of terracotta and peachy shades landed on my desk the other week and they instantly struck me as being perfect for late summer. Burnished, sizzling reddish metallics. Vaguely reminiscent of the sun going down on an exotic beach that most of us are too nervous to visit.
I tried Fortitude, a metallic burgundy and Courage which is a deep pinky copper. Both look outrageously good, even splodged on and smudged with a fingertip. You can find them here* – shadows are £18 each and the cream formula makes lids look fresh and sheeny rather than flat and powdery.
Here endeth my monthly favourites sermon – remember that (if you have a spare hundred hours or so) you can scroll back through all of my favourites over the past DECADE by clicking here.
There’s no big mystery to this post and it’s not rocket science – just simple mathematics and a couple of excellent, unfussy ingredients. I’m going to tell you how I make the most luxurious and effective bath soak for about fifty pence a go; a bath soak that genuinely relaxes me, helps me to sleep, relieves my aching muscles if I’ve been doing my stupid online workouts and that mentally transports me to somewhere exotic.
This soak is completely customisable but I’m going to give you a few options just to get you started. Perhaps you like a rose-scented bath or maybe you prefer a bit of frankincense to clear your mind and put you back on the level; whatever floats your boat, all of the versions below will make you feel as though you’re relaxing in a posh spa in one of those fluffy dressing gowns that’s always just too small to do up properly and so keeps flashing your paper knicker-clad fanjita to all and sundry.
I’m not posting this as a “thrifty lockdown beauty hack”, though it is that too; I’ve been banging on about this luxury bath soak for months and it’s time to set it in stone!
So, there are two elements to the luxury bath soak: the first is epsom salts and the second, good quality essential oils or a ready-made oil blend. Depending on the oils you choose (and how much you use) the price of a soak goes up, but if you stick to a beakerful of salts and a few drops of Tisserand oil you can keep it to around fifty pence or so.
The ingredients are top-notch, but the price is a fraction – a fraction! – of the ready-made stuff, because you buy the salts in bulk and add your own oils. Here we go then…
Using a whole beakerful of salts is the key here: I’ve done a lot of experimenting with epsom salt quantities and there’s no point pissing about with a couple of tablespoons of the stuff. You’re not going to float about in that, are you? It would hardly make a difference to the water at all!
(Even though that’s the amount that lots of luxury brands seem to recommend using. Mainly because if you used the amount I think you need for it to be effective then it’d be half a tub and people would be up in arms, because the price per bath would be outrageous. For context, I use approximately 200g of epsom salts in my bath (knocks me out well and truly, I sleep like a baby!) but if I were to use that amount of – say – Aveda salts, it would cost me around £14/£15 a bath.)
So, a beakerful of salts – about 200g. It’s around two mugfuls, but I use one of those large plastic kids’ beakers and leave it in my gigantic tub of salts as a scoop. I buy my salts from Amazon for around twenty to twenty-five pounds for ten kilos and I most often order these* or these*, which are currently £14 for ten kilos which is a crazy-low price! Note that they are plain, unadulterated epsom salts – you don’t want perfume added, mainly because you’re going to add your own essential oils but also because most of the perfumed ones smell rank. (I’ve tried a lot!)
I usually use a couple of drops of Frankincense Oil* from Aromatherapy Associates (mixed with a carrier oil first) but if I’m feeling particularly treatsome then I throw in a capful of their Deep Relax Oil*. You’ll notice the high price point on both: Aromatherapy Associates oils don’t come cheap but I think that their blends are some of the best and most mind-transporting you can get.
Remember that you’re using a tiny bit, so cost per bath is kept low. But even if you use a couple of capfuls of the AA Oil and it does send your bath price soaring to a pound, or two pounds, then know that you’re quite literally having the Rolls Royce of bathing experiences. Epsom salts to soothe and calm and switch you off and the best oils that money can buy to sort your head out.
So, some options:
For the Ultimate Relaxation Station, Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax – find it online here*
To pretend you’re Marie Antoinette in her Versailles Beauty Bath, try Neal’s Yard Remedies Rose Absolute Oil, here*.
For the unwinding English Country Garden Experience, use a few drops of Tisserand’s Lavender Oil, online here*.
Tisserand are your best bet for keeping prices low and quality high – just a few drops needed and you’ve got an amazing soak for all of fifty pence! I tend to stick to rose, frankincense and lavender, mainly because I had a terrible experience with a eucalyptus and mint blend and my nethers have only just healed.
10kg of epsom salts for (average price) £20 = 40p per 200g of salts + Few drops of Tisserand oil, approx 10p = 50p per soak.
Run the bath, pour in the salts, then the oils, mixed with a bit of almond oil (don’t put the oils in when the bath is running as I find that the water tends to make the scent fill the bathroom too early) and relax. Or, if you’re like me, spend three minutes twiddling your thumbs and then think of something you need to do and get out again.
What’s your favourite bath treat? I really look forward to my nightly soak, it’s a fundamental part of my daily routine – tell me if I’m missing out on any particular oils or scents!