Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Pai Moisturisers - Repackaged and Resized

It's not often that a brand listens to the feedback of its customers and actually makes a tangible effort to remedy issues. However, British skincare brand, Pai, has done just this.

If you read my review of their Chamomile and Rosehip Calming Day Cream* you'll remember the only black mark against the product was the frustrating bottle that wouldn't relinquish its contents.

Thankfully for my newly-crisped winter skin, Pai contacted me to share the news that they have repackaged all of their moisturisers in frosted glass containers with airless pumps and increased the sizes from 30 ml to 50 ml. They are also fully recyclable.

The result is altogether more weighty and luxe, and the new design means the precious ingredients are protected from degrading. I'm impressed with Pai for listening to what their customers want. If you appreciate quality British-made products from an independent company using superior ingredients and clear labelling, I suggest you check them out.

The new style moisturisers are available on and cost £32. (Previously £24 for 30ml.)

*Product supplied for review.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Hint of Christmas – Best Buys

Forget the season of good will; Christmas is a divider. Most people either love it or hate it. I don't advocate decorating the house on November 1st, buying 'hilarious' Christmas jumpers and spray-snowing your windows, but a few subtly seasonal purchases can help set the mood for winter. Anything that perks up six months of cold weather is a bonus in my book. With this in mind, I've put together a bit of wintery inspiration for those who feel the festive spirit but fear the associated onslaught of tat. From the perfect Mac Lady Danger dupe to a stripy dish for your christmas crisps.

Bagsy the reindeer leggings.

Topshop lipstick in Rio Rio £8 | Asos sequin check clutch £21 | Asos bobble hat £14 | Oasis fairisle jumper £45 | H&M check cotton dressing gown £14.99 | H&M stripe ceramic bowl £3.99 | Diptyque winter candle trio £60 | Topshop reindeer knitted leggings £25Topshop SNO mittens £14 | Liberty glittering ivy wreath £24.95

Pssst! If you spend £150 on Space NK today and enter the code BAG20 you will receive a jam-packed goodie bag and a £50 voucher to spend on yet more products (while stocks last.)

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Review: French Pharmacy Sunscreen & After-Sun

After a spectacularly hot summer in the UK, plus two weeks in Spain for weddings in Ibiza and Barcelona, I've had the opportunity to road test a selection of sun-related products. Read on for the good, the bad and the greasy...

La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Invisible Nutritive Oil SPF50+

Sun oils have never been on my radar due to the fact they usually offer, at best, SPF 6, and, for me, that equates to around six minutes in the sun without burning. This product offers a high SPF and is a good option for those who like oil-based sunscreen. I used it in full Ibiza sun for a couple of hours at a time and didn't burn. 

I took this on holiday to trial but intended to use Piz Buin 1 Day Long as my main sunscreen. However, I had a reaction to it and came out in a rash (apparently this is common: if you google it, a lot of people have had issues.) So I switched to the La Roche-Posay but didn't have much success with this either. I found the mineral-oil heavy formula very greasy and difficult to tolerate. It was impossible to wash off my hands after rubbing it in and it left my body so oily I was like a piece of fly paper on the beach, with sand stuck all over me! Using it by the pool was a lot more successful but I still disliked the formulation, the feel and the thought of my body in the heat covered with impermeable mineral oil.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF50+ Fluide Extreme

This is an old favourite of mine; a very reliable, hard-working product that I use on my face most summers. It doesn't have any artificial fragrance added, which is good and bad. Good for those with sensitive skin but I do find the chemical smell a little off-putting. However, it quickly fades on application. Not too shiny and provides a good base for makeup or worn alone during holidays. Doesn't break me out – just make sure you double cleanse with a balm in the evening to remove it. 

Bioderma Photoderm Apr├Ęs-soleil Face and Body

This fruity-smelling cream provided much-needed moisture after sunbathing and took the edge off any over-cooked areas of skin. Again, I was put off by mineral oil as a key ingredient, as I wanted my skin to be able to breathe after being covered in sun cream all day. I didn't use it on my face. 

La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF50+ Melt-in Cream

My first time trying this tinted version of another La Roche-Posay gem and I was intrigued by the concept of SPF plus colour. I found the formula to be more akin to foundation than the sheer tint I had envisaged. It was a little dark for my skin and I felt that I wasn't able to get a natural look with it while also using enough product for it to act as sunscreen. Instead I had to first apply sunscreen and then use a little of this to add colour and provide light coverage. I don't understand how this could be rubbed all over the face without ending up with foundation-like product clogged in hair and eyebrows. Unfortunately not a concept that worked for me.

Suncream choice is a very subjective issue so please test these products out yourself to see if you like them. I'm enjoying the intermittent Indian summer we've been having and find myself craving a few more days in the sun.

What are you favourite SPF products?

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Diptyque Philosykos Eau de Parfum

When I lived within walking distance of Space NK I used to pop in all the time and have a little spray of Philosykos and sniff all the candles. The staff probably thought I was a shoplifter with excellent taste.

This heady fig scent grew on me gradually until I fell completely in love with it. I conducted a little test to see how the eau de toilette compared to the eau de parfum and there was no contest in terms of longevity. I baulked at the price of the parfum though, only available in the hefty 100 ml bottle. Luckily after my mother point-blank refused to spend that much on perfume, my lovely boyfriend bought it for me for Christmas instead.

I'm a real sucker for beautiful packaging but I don't usually allow myself to hang on to empty cardboard and suchlike; that's how one ends up on Channel 4 programmes about hoarders. However, when it comes to Diptyque I cannot help but squirrel away the pretty boxes. If you buy one of their eye-wateringly expensive scented candles, the packaging retains the smell and does a pretty good job of adding perfume to a room by itself.

My perfume came with a lovely cotton pouch and gift box – both of which I will find a use for. If you love fig scents you have to try Philosykos. It's deep, fruity and addictive. I can't wait for summer when it will really sing.

This post is not sponsored. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Cretan Holiday Highlights

I'm having one of those days that gets off to a bad start and never quite recovers itself (although the sun did just come out!). As a diversionary tactic I thought I'd post some pictures from our trip to Crete last October. We traveled all over the island and stayed in lots of different accommodation. These were some of the highlights:

The ramshackle bars and restaurants that wind around the cliffs to the edge of the bay at Matala.

Rethymno old town. Particularly the restaurant Castelvecchio. Charming waiters and delicious food.

Chania's Venetian harbour. Beautiful architecture and perfect people-watching bars.

Casa Delfino in Chania. We spent one night in this chic hotel on a lucky last-minute room rate. Kirsten Dunst and Vigo Mortensen shot a scene for a movie in the alleyway beneath our balcony!

The pool at the Rimondi Grand. Total peace, lovely views and cocktails delivered to our sun beds.

The incredible drive through the mountainous interior of the island to Paleohora.

This year we have two weddings to attend in Ibiza and Barcelona so we're making it into a holiday and flying from one to the other. Please tell me I'm not the only one already dreaming of summer! Where do you hope to go this year?

Pool at the Rimondi Grand, Rethymnon
Monastery in the hills behind the hotel 
The famous cliffs at Matala
Hippies including Bob Dylan are said to have lived in the caves during the 1960's
The Venetian harbour at Chania

The Turkish Mosque Yiali Tzami in Chania
Chania at dawn from our balcony at Casa Delfino
Voulisma Beach, Istron, Crete
Enormous Chania cat with a regal face and excellent ears
View of the harbour from the balcony at Casa Leone
Trying for chic the night we stayed at the best hotel in town
J made a friend who wanted a drink  at AnnaView Apartments, Mirthios
Pink sandy beach at Elafonisi
Feeling brave wearing MAC Lady Danger on our last night

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Review: Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Sensitive Skin Cream

It's the same old story every winter – I'm always looking for a simple, soothing moisturiser to stop my skin from dehydrating. This year I've been using Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Sensitive Skin Cream to see if it's up to the job. 

Pai is a UK company with an ethos of transparency. They use only 'clean' ingredients and list every component in their formulas in plain English rather than chemical formulas designed to baffle us. All products are certified organic by the Soil Association

This moisturiser has a very mild, fresh scent that I'm struggling to describe – a bit like a refined Twinings herbal tea. Lovely, elegant and relaxing. 

The texture is that of a water-based cream. It's not oily but spreads easily across skin and sinks in beautifully. I'm prone to spots and dehydration and my skin can easily feel parched. This moisturiser packs a double punch with chamomile providing matricine and azulene; and rosehip  full of omegas and antioxidants. On days where my skin is doubly dry I layer over a facial oil or mix some with it. It leaves my skin ready for makeup and hasn't made me break out. 

The only thing I've not liked about it is the bottle. It's glass with a pump dispenser and I found it stopped working when the bottle was still half full. I've had to take the lid off and wiggle the tube around inside every time I use it. The bottle opening is too small for my finger so I'm left pining for the last few applications of product. I'd like a tube that's double the size. 

Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Sensitive Skin Cream is available at They often have good offers and it's free postage! Have you tried any Pai products yet? 

Friday, 11 January 2013

SFSC Shops: Sale Buys

I was determined to be a smart sale shopper this year; buying only items I had eyed at full price and not being led astray by random bits and bobs I didn't need. I also signed up to a million e-newsletters to ensure I knew when all the sales were starting. Fail to prepare? Prepare to fail! 

For some reason my bath phobia has lifted (maybe because my new house has a big bathroom with a window and doesn't feel claustrophobic) and I really wanted some relaxing aromatherapy bath oils. 

This gorgeous set of minis by Aromatherapy Associates had eluded me for too long! I finally found it for half price on the Aromatherapy Associates website when they went into a rather late and unpromoted sale. So far I've only tried the 'Relax Deep' oil but I figure this set should last me until next Christmas. It's also the perfect way to test all of the different scents in the range. 

While shopping their sale I also bought a 'Relax' candle which has a low-key, sophisticated spicy smell.  The key oils used are West Indian bay, Geranium and Myrrh. It uses natural wax and produces no soot.

I'd wanted this Reiss 'Cate' top for months but didn't want to pay £80+ for it. The shape and style are similar to a sweatshirt but the material is a woven knit. It's already proving to be a *Trinny Woodall voice* key piece

The necklace was for sale at 75 per cent off in Accessorize. It's tiptoeing into the tacky bracket but I like to wear it over plain crew neck jumpers and t-shirts to add a bit of colour and sparkle. 

What bargains did you snag in the sales?