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.
Not since Molton Brown’s Geranium Nefertum have I spritzed a scent and really really liked it. I think that my nose has gone on strike, to a certain extent – it’s not that it can’t smell things, it just doesn’t really get that excited anymore. Not much tickles my olfactory fancy. It started when I was pregnant with my first baby, this whatever kind of attitude towards perfume, and I still don’t feel as though I’m “back in the room” when it comes to appreciating smells.
My most-used perfumes? They are all pretty low-key. I love Philosykos from Diptyque (the eau de parfum* lasts far, far longer than the toilette and is worth the extra cost), I also still use Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 (find it here*) a lot – it’s the ultimate adaptable fragrance, with just one scent molecule that smells quite different on whoever is wearing it. My favourite smell on Mr AMR? The Molton Brown Geranium Nefertum, which is (as I wrote here earlier in the year) so sexy it hurts.
Considering how many exotic, niche and horrendously premium (aka expensive) perfumes cross my path on a weekly basis, my favourites list is quite tame. I’d add some Le Labo, I’d add the Oud & Bergamot by Jo Malone and I’d maybe throw in a little bit of Tom Ford’s Soleil Blanc, despite it being out of season, but it’s really not a wild and wicked list.
Anyway, I’ve digressed hugely here; what I wanted to say was that not since Geranium Nefertum have a spritzed a scent and really, really liked it yet here I sit repeatedly sniffing a bottle of Jo Malone’s Poppy & Barley. I’m late to the party, because it was an autumn release, but I’ve never really been one to follow the seasonal “rules” when it comes to beauty and scent. It’s true that I might lean towards perfumes that smell of suntan lotion when the weather warms up, and I’m more likely to use a red lipstick in the winter, but apart from that I have quite the liberal attitude towards what goes where and when.
Jo Malone call Poppy & Barley a “lively floral scent, enhanced by rose and violet and topped with juicy blackcurrants” but quite honestly I don’t find any of the individual notes to be that noticeable. And for me, that’s the beauty of it. It just smells full and rich and multi-layered – yes there may be fruits, but it’s not peachy or citrussy or anything that I can put my finger on. There’s some sort of woodier note, there’s a lighter floral (but not at all “pretty”) and there’s a pervading understated sweetness that’s not cloying but still makes itself known.
It’s sort of like if you had to represent “nature” as a perfume, this smell. It’s a posh harvest festival. No nobbly carrots here, parishioners, only send your finest berries and some poppies. Bloody hell – imagine that, a Jo Malone-level harvest festival! Our school harvest festival used to consist of some tins of beans and tuna, formed into a precarious tin pyramid, with old onions and cabbages and carrots scattered around the base. Now and then one of the “good” parents would have donated some satsumas, but the majority of the fruit offering, when I was at primary school, was made up of apples from people’s gardens. Most of them puckered or shot through with wasp holes.
(I realise that makes it sound as though I was in school during the immediate post-war period: it was actually the eighties. I find that any sort of childhood memory I recount now sounds like something from a history book, which is vaguely frightening. I had to explain to someone in their twenties what a record player was, the other day.)
But back to the present day and nice fragrances: if Jo Malone did harvest festival then it would probably smell like Poppy & Barley. I realise that talking about harvest festival isn’t particularly relevant, just as we hit the really cold part of winter, but I’m running with it.
You can find Poppy & Barley at LookFantastic here* – at starts at £48 for 30ml.