In what might be considered the rebrand of the century, the monthly 5 Beauty Favourites feature has now become…
…5 Favourites. It took me a hell of a long time to come up with the new title format and so please do show your appreciation in the comments below. Ha. In response to your overwhelming positivity on the matter (and also my own ever-increasing boredom) I have expanded the monthly favourites to include things I’ve loved from all manner of categories. Food, clothing, lifestyle, interiors, health; the list will, I am sure, go on and on.
And so I bring you 5 Favourites: September 2020 (catchy!) with something for just about everyone. There’s a video at the bottom of the post if you hate reading words and there are words for those who hate the sound of my voice. If you’re a glutton for punishment then you can read the post and watch the video!
Favourite 1: The Peloton
At time of filming I hadn’t had the new Peloton Bike+ delivered and so here I refer to the original home spinning bike which has had its price cut to a still quite astonishing £1750. It’s eye-watering, I know, but it would be no exaggeration to say that this futuristic exercise bike has completely changed my fitness life. In that before I had the Peloton I was doing nothing towards my health and fitness and now I can cycle almost six miles in twenty minutes.
I bloody love it. I actually look forward to getting on the saddle, choosing my class (or you can join live ones) and working so hard that my vision goes blurry. I love it so much I’ve returned the original Peloton and gone for the new one which is even more hideously expensive, but with both the adults in the household using it daily and looking and feeling a million times better for it, I can’t actually think of a better investment we’ve made in recent years.
I’m about to do a review video on the new Peloton Bike+ so make sure you’re following on Instagram – you can find my video on the original bike on IGTV here.
Favourite 2: Clipper Sleepy Tea
It’s not actually called Sleepy Tea at all, it’s Sleep Easy, and it smells a bit like old cow dung when you open the foil pouch, but persevere and you’ll find a delectable bedtime infusion with orange, chamomile and valerian. I think I’ve tried the majority of sleep teas on the mainstream market and this is my repeat buy – I do like the Tea Pigs one for the big lumps of actual apple and whole blossoms inside the bag (it’s like someone has wrapped up a fairies’ tea party in a hurry!) but Clipper’s pips it to the post.
I like to drink a mug of it whilst I’m in one of my special Epsom Salt baths. Double whammy. I can’t even read a sentence of my book when I get into bed before falling asleep!
Favourite 3: Louis de Poortere Antiquarian Rug
I’ve bought four rugs from Louis de Poortere now but this is the largest and most extravagant – it needed to be because the floor it covers is in “the new room” and is quite expansive. But it’s absolutely one of my favourite home purchases since we moved to this house – it’s amazing how some pattern and warmth can suddenly pull a room together and make a large space feel cosy.
You can find this particular rug online here, they do loads of different sizes. It has a traditional, slightly distressed feel to it but it’s actually new. Which usually I’d hate, but I couldn’t be doing with trawling through loads of old rugs to find “the one” that just happened to be a) authentic and b) the right size and c) the right colour! I like buying second hand and I’d say that way more than half of my furniture and home stuff is vintage but sometimes I have to draw the line…
Favourite 4: StricVectin Daily Reveal Pads
You’re going to be hearing a lot about these one-swipe wonder pads – they’re seriously impressive. They contain four different exfoliating acids for that immediate look of brightness we’re now quite familiar with, but the difference is that they also leave your skin feeling really moisturised. They have that instant “fresh” feel that you tend to get with acid peel pads (usually the alcohol evaporating) but just seconds after you finish wiping your face, the skin develops an almost oily layer. Not greasy or unpleasant, but certainly enough that I wouldn’t bother with serum and moisturiser afterwards!
The ultimate one-step facial, then. I think they’re great – you can find them online here*; they’re £39 for 60 pads which is a few months’ worth if you use two or three times a week, which would be my personal preference.
Favourite 5: Simple Protect n Glow Rest & Reset 72h Hydrating Gel
A cheeky little bargain for you; I think that this little pot of lightweight, fresh-feel gel moisturiser is as good as the pricey ones. Thing Moisture Surge on a budget. If you hate oily or heavy face creams but have skin that’s slightly dehydrated then give this a try, it’s a pretty safe investment! Ditto if you want something to layer on beneath your SPF. You can find it at Boots here*, it’s £6.99.
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.
Here are the June favourites, which means that I’m finally getting there with my admin catch-up! I’m going to keep this blurb short and sweet because quite a lot of the video is taken up by a review of some “period pants” and I’m doing a whole other post on those delightful things. And I don’t want to repeat myself. (I’m trying to be very efficient with my time this week because things have been so hectic. The only saving grace is that the weather hasn’t been that brilliant, because there’s nothing I hate more than being trapped inside with my laptop when the sun is shining.)
(Yes I know about those weird box things that you can put your laptop into to shade the screen from the sun, but honestly that would be one step away from wearing knee-pads to do the weeding. I’m just not ready to be that practical.)
So June Favourites; an amazingly light-but-effective neck cream, a powerful eye cream, a hydrating foundation (spoiler alert: you already know about that one, I’m all out of sync here) and some lightly-tinted lip balms that are great for low-low-key makeup days.
Enjoy – I’ll be back with the period pants. Even though the phrase period pants does make me want to be slightly sick in my mouth…
Clinique Triple Pop Lip Balms here*
Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Eye Cream here*
Prai Night Cream for Neck and Decollatage here*
Oskia Nutri-Bronze serum here*
Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Radiant Tint here* (sidenote on this: I like the glow, but it’s not the best sunscreen to use under makeup! It’s just the one I’ve been using recently mixed with the Oskia drops.)
On my eyes, the pink tones from the Pat McGrath Golden Opulence palette here*
I completely forgot to post up my May Favourites video and when I gave it a quick once over to see what it was all about, because May feels like a century ago, it was like travelling back through time. Travelling back to an era when I hadn’t hacked off my own hair with paper scissors, when I could still fit into my shorts, when I didn’t have a problem with beard and moustache growth. (See my Instagram page.)
Oh, life seemed so much more carefree, back in May!** You didn’t have to make up excuses not to see people, the doorbell never rang. It was zoom this and zoom that, you could mute yourself and carry on typing emails or you could pretend that turning the camera off was an accident – “oops, sorry everyone, I’m still a dinosaur with these things – can anyone see me?” – so that you could eat lunch during a client meeting.
(**Apart from the obvious health hazards, impending economic disaster and stressful homeschooling situations.)
Now it’s all “let’s meet up for garden drinks” and you have to de-beard yourself and get dressed. I got halfway around Sainsbury’s the other day before I realised that I hadn’t even done up the buttons on my shirt properly and that my baps were proudly presenting themselves in all of their manky-brassiered glory.
It’s a (re)learning curve, this social skills thing.
Anyway, here’s the May Favourites. It’s going to be closely followed by June Favourites in the next couple of days, which will make you feel as though I’m messing with your head, but it has to be done because if it isn’t recorded on here for posterity then it never happened. One day this blog will be an important historical research, mark my words! Few people have kept up an online documentation of their life with such dedication and attention to detail. OK, quite a few have, but apart from them, not many. I’ll be like the Samuel Pepys of the 21st Century, except I’m writing about face creams and social distancing mishaps rather than great fires and plagues. We’re virtually the same guy.
Products mentioned are below – interesting that the Futurist foundation was a favourite, I’d forgotten that I’d popped that in! You can read the full and proper review of it here if you’re interested in more info.
Hush Shorts, £45 here*
Estee Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Foundation, £36 here*
Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Bronzer here*
Guerlain Terracotta Nude, £38 here* – I didn’t realise that this only came in one shade. It states “universal” but honestly I don’t know how far that would stretch, it’s pretty subtle on me and I’m fair-medium. Sorry, I should have checked this before posting.
Real Techniques Powder Brush, £8.84*: https://amzn.to/3djqffl Pixi Eye Palette Natural Beauty, £24 here*
Sanctuary Moisture Miracle Body Lotion Extra Rich, £10 here*
Rimmel 60 Seconds Shine Nail Polish, £3.49 here*
Curel Foaming Face Wash, £12.50 here*
My shirt is a really old one from H&M.
Necklace is Jennifer Meyer here*
It seems a weird time to be filming a beauty favourites video, but what I thought would be even weirder would be for me to have made a big song and a dance last month about my favourites being back in town and then never doing another one! I even made that whole Brokeback Mountain joke about not being able to quit my favourites, etc etc, and so to simply up sticks and leave again wasn’t an option.
Just five favourites, though – it’s not exactly an orgy. Just five things that have really tickled my whistle and that would make a cheery addition to any routine, once things settle down a bit. The handwash favourite is probably the most relevant – very inexpensive, non-drying, good brand that gives back to charity and so on – but I like to think that any of this month’s picks would do a particular service.
A warm and comforting fragrance (it’s like the olfactory equivalent of being hugged in big, safe arms), a cleanser with aromatherapy benefits, an eye cream for tired, staring-at-an-iPhone-screen-twelve-hours-a-day eyes…
I’ll leave you to watch the video in peace. But if you don’t want the video, then – hurrah – a slightly new format for you! Rather than just listing the products below the screen, there’s a mini review. Which makes this more of a blog post than simply a place to announce that there’s a new video in town. Better for those of you who are resolutely video-free? I hope so.
OK, so onto my mini reviews. Some old favourites, here and some new. It’s like a wedding. Except there’s nothing borrowed. Or blue.
Neal’s Yard Remedies Frankincense Cleanser, £21 here*. If you have combination or oily skin and have always been put off by the idea of cream or oil cleansers, then this could be the one to try. It is rich and creamy, but it actually leaves the skin feeling very refined and ever – ever! – so slightly tightened. So if you hate a residue and want that ultra-clean feeling then this is a gorgeous luxury buy.
Neal’s Yard are experts at sourcing and working with frankincense and it really shows in their frankincense ranges. The cleanser is very scented (with frankincense, obviously!) and I find it to be more of a grounding, de-stressing treatment than anything resembling a mundane cleanse. Top marks, I’ve loved this cleanser for many years.
Soaper Duper Handwashes, online here. Soaper Duper do some of the best handwashes around. Wasn’t ever a beauty category that I imagined raving about, but it’s definitely topical and we’re all (hopefully) washing our hands about a billion times a day. So it’s nice to pick out some good ones. (If you’d like me to test a few and report back then I’m totally up for that – plenty of opportunity to compare and contrast!)
Soaper Duper do their washes in lots of scents – this Tuberose one is fresh and green rather than anything too floral – and they are hooked up with some great charities, including Water Aid. Big bottles, non-drying formula, definitely up there with the best of them.
Kiehl’s Line Reducing Eye Serum*, £41 here. Remember eons ago when I reviewed the Vitamin C face serum from Kiehl’s? Well now there’s one specifically for eyes and it’s just as good as the original. If you want a powerful eye cream that feels gutsy and strong, rather than a “light and fresh gel” or a “cooling cream” then this is the business – it has the same thick and dry texture as the serum, which won’t be for everyone, but really will be for those who want a rich cream that’s grease-free.
You can read my original review on the face serum here – I’ve just seen that it was a favourite back in 2015! How time flies. I think the serum – or concentrate as it was called – has actually been reformulated since then. More potent, if I remember correctly.
Charlotte Tilbury Copper Charge Eye Palette, £40 here*. I have an IGTV waiting to be published on this – very informal, just showing how I apply it and how it looks in different lights. I think that the CT eye quads are all fantastic – good pigment but easy to handle, really blendable and cleverly chosen shades that always look flattering and sexy.
The new Copper Charge palette is part of the new range that promises to make your actual eye colour more intense – so there’s a copper one to make blue eyes bluer, and blue one to make (I think) brown eyes browner, and so on. The coppery one could be dicey, if you are prone to looking a little pink-eyed, but used carefully it really enhances blue eyes. Keep a lookout for the IGTV video – I’ll update here with a link for you once it’s up!
Molton Brown Milk Musk, from £65 here*. Not convinced by the name of this new Molton Brown range, but I think that the scent is outrageously good. It’s warm, it’s cocooning, it’s like throwing yourself into (I imagine) a bed that’s been set-dressed for a Hygge interiors shoot. All natural-hued faux furs and giant knits and cashmere throws and those little flickering tealights scattered around the (wooden) floor.
The scent is warm, faintly exotic and with a musky, tonka bean base. Heady top notes that are really quite sexy and rich and then that warm, comforting base. The eau de toilette is fresher, (not surprisingly) and the parfum is deeper with a lovely little sharp, greenish twist right at the bottom. It’s gorgeous. Another winner from Molton Brown, for me – they seem to be ticking all of my boxes recently because my top fragrance love before this one was their Geranium Nefertum!
I just can’t seem to keep away from favourites videos. I stop doing them and then I start again, always returning to make just one more. I stop because I think that they’re generally a bit formulaic, but then, a few months down the line, I start to miss making them. I find myself compiling little lists throughout the month, noting down the brilliant products I’ve used and wishing I had a video to talk about them in.
In a way, it’s sort of like Brokeback Mountain, sort of. (It’s not.) I’m like Heath Ledger’s character, and Jake Gyllenhaal represents the favourites videos. We just can’t stay away from one another.
I don’t go off on camping trips with my favourites videos, obviously, although I have edited them from a tent at a festival once, so maybe that counts.
Anyway, Five Favourites for the month of February, which is pleasingly alliterative, and there’s a real corker of a face cream in it if you have very dry skin. Also one of the best high street foundations I’ve tried, though it’s at the top end of the price range for a high street base.
I don’t want to spoil all of the surprises so just watch the video – I’ll list the products below for those who can’t stand watching videos. Although now you know the special relationship I have with them, perhaps you’ll give them more consideration.
I wish I knew how to quit you…
John Masters Hibiscus Hair Mask, £39 here*: https://amzn.to/3au3WS9
No7 Protect and Perfect Foundation, £17 here*: http://tidd.ly/4db5de40
REN Overnight Balm, £40 here*: http://bit.ly/2VM0Bde
Lumene Nordic Hydracare Rich Day Cream, £26.90 here*: http://bit.ly/2PQ3aqS
Dior Rose Plumping Lip Balm: THIS IS DISCONTINUED! WTF! It’s so, so nice. Bring it back, Dior!