Thursday, 28 June 2012

MuLondon: Organic Fragrance-free Foaming Face Wash Review


You've read about the two naturally fragranced versions of MuLondon's facial cleansers - the Organic Rose and the Organic Lavender variants. Now, we'll take a quick look at the MuLondon Organic Fragrance-free Foaming Face Wash.


I finished my bottle of the Organic Rose Foaming Face Wash recently (the big bottle of 150ml should last 6 - 7 months) and as for the smaller 50ml bottle of the Organic Lavender Foaming Face Wash, I've set it aside specially for travelling.

A couple of weeks ago, I placed an order for this fragrance-free facial cleanser and the MuLondon Organic Marigold, Frankincense and Myrhh Moisturiser. I took advantage of the very timely 15% off offer that MuLondon is having for June (coupon code has been in my sidebar the whole month). Boris was as efficient as ever. I placed my order on Friday morning, Boris got the package shipped out on Friday afternoon and it arrived in the Netherlands on Wednesday. Like clockwork.

The cleanser bottle packaged in a zip-lock bag (and bubble wrap)

I actually have a couple of facial cleansers from other brands that are in the queue but I wanted to use Boris' fragrance-free version for a month or two first. And it certainly doesn't disappoint!

Note: I don't usually write reviews of skincare products after only a fortnight's use (doesn't make sense to me) but this post will be an exception as this cleanser has the same base ingredients as the other two versions I've tried. Also, this is simply a mini review of the face wash. Much of what needs to be said has already been said in my detailed review of the Organic Rose and the Organic Lavender cleansers.

I've been using this Fragrance-free version for two weeks - I literally started using it on the day it arrived. Everything about the Fragrance-free version is the same as the other two variants, except for the smell, obviously. It may be called "Fragrance-free" but it does have a scent which I associate with the unscented vegetable oil-based soaps that I've used - raw and earthy. Just like the rose and the lavender versions, this cleanser does not leave my skin tight and dry.

For more photos, please refer to my detailed review.


Ingredients:
Water, Saponified Sunflower Oil*, Saponified Coconut Oil*, Glycerin (vegetable, naturally occurring)*, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Citrate (Potassium Salts), Jojoba Oil*, Rosemary Extract*
*certified organic

As you can see, the face wash contains certified organic ingredients, but as it doesn't contain any added fragrance or perfume, I would recommend it to those who have super-sensitive skin and/or are allergic to certain essential oils. The cleanser contains no SLS, detergents, alcohol, mineral oils, parabens, sorbates, silicones, emulsifiers or other man-made chemicals and certainly no palm oil.

Boris hand-makes these cleansers in London. Price: £13 for 150ml and £6 for 50ml.


The 15% off coupon code is valid for a couple more days. It expires 30th June.

Another event that ends on 30th June is the Big MuLondon Giveaway in which the grand prize winner stands to win MuLondon prizes valued at over £300, including 6 jars of custom-made MuLondon moisturisers! Oh, I envy the winner already!

For both, please refer to the sidebar.


MuLondon website
MuLondon moisturisers are also available through Etsy and eBay.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Adorned Nails: KOH Lucky Star



We've arrived at the sixth and final polish from the KOH Fantasy collection!


While KOH Rich was a stunner, KOH Lucky Star is to me the most memorable of the six. Let's just call it a pretty, sparkly one: a baby/aqua blue metallic polish with pale yellow twinkles. I've got three coats on here.

This polish was provided by KOH Cosmetics.


Previous Fantasy polish: KOH True Love
For an overview of the Fantasy collection: KOH Nail Polish Gallery

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Champneys: Softening Hand Scrub Review


Champneys says (excerpts):
A gentle, effective exfoliator that instantly smoothes your hands. Your skin feels soft and moisturised whilst nails and cuticles are conditioned.

Our therapists recommend massaging gently into your hands pushing back the cuticles with the scrub. Rinse well after use.


On the face of it, this is not a bad hand scrub. Everything from the sophisticated gold-toned packaging to the thick, heavy, oily texture that is the scrub screams spa luxury.

It has a wonderful pick-me-up smell of orange peel (whose oil this product does contain) and the rough salt granules do a good job of exfoliating my hands. After rinsing off, my hands feel moisturised but icky uncomfortable due to the heavy layer of oily residue left on the skin.


The price of the hand scrub is all right: €7.45 / £6.00 for 75ml. It seems quite reasonable considering that Champneys has an upmarket brand image in the UK.

However, here's where I have a bone to pick with Champneys.

I had a good look at the list of ingredients and while the Champneys Softening Hand Scrub contains lovely botanical ingredients like sweet almond oil, jojoba seed oil, olive seed powder, orange peel oil and Carapa guaianensis seed oil, it also contains other ingredients that I'm trying to avoid. The second ingredient listed, after the salt, is a mineral oil. The fifth ingredient is petrolatum. Right. So, that must be the reason for the heavy texture of the scrub!


Ingredients
Sodium chloride, Paraffinum liquidum, Sweet almond oil, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, Petrolatum, Carnauba wax, Silica dimethyl silylate, Cetyl alcohol, Laureth-3, Glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, Jojoba seed oil, Sucrose, Tocopheryl acetate, Fragrance, Olive seed powder, Orange peel oil, Carapa guaianensis seed oil, BHT, Denatonium benzoate, Tocopherol, Hexyl cinnamal, Benzyl alcohol, Linalool, Limonene, Geraniol, Alpha-isomethyl ionone, Hydroxycitronellal, Citronellol


I admit I still have things like Vaseline at home, leftover from the old days when I used to buy it in vats. It's still handy to have for emergencies - great for preventing scalds from developing/getting infected.

Sure, I also have a bit of the Lucas' Papaw Ointment (petroleum jelly + fermented papaya) and Aquaphor (petrolatum + ceresin + lanolin alcohol), but a hand scrub that is predominantly mineral oil-based?! No, thanks. I could jolly well have made this scrub at home by mixing salt granules with Vaseline and adding one or two drops of sweet almond oil, jojoba seed oil and orange peel oil to soothe my conscience. And for much less than €7.45 too.


For the record, I didn't buy this hand scrub and neither was I sent this tube by the brand. A friend of mine got it from someone and passed it to me. I know I wouldn't have bought it in the store after reading its list of ingredients.

So, ladies, I'm not giving this hand scrub a thumbs up. It's a shame, really. After all, Champneys is a household name in the UK and is synonymous with spa retreat for the rich and famous. Think of any British celebrity (dead or alive) and chances are, they've been pampered at Champneys before.


About Champneys

Champneys is a family-owned business with a chain of four luxury health spa resorts and several day spa centres in England. It also owns a ski hotel in Switzerland and runs its own training college for beauty therapists.

One would be inclined to think that "Champneys" is the family name of the owners but no, it's actually Purdew. Dorothy Purdew was spurred on to start a slimming club of her own after getting snubbed in her application to be a Weight Watchers group leader (ironic, isn't it?).

With the help of her husband, Robert, she started WeightGuard in 1970 with a £60 loan from her father. WeightGuard was a huge success, eventually paving the way for expansion into the health farm business. Unfortunately, Mr Robert Purdew passed away in 1990, leaving Mrs Purdew and son, Stephen, to run the business.

The name Champneys comes from a converted mansion that they acquired in Tring, Hertfordshire in 2002. It is said that the mansion was owned by a Ralph de Champneys in 1307. A naturopath, Stanley Leif, bought the mansion from the Rothchilds in the 1920s and converted it into a health farm, the first in the UK and a pioneer in the health spa industry, they say.

The Purdews wanted a unified brand name for their by-then four health farms and while the name "Purdew" was an option, "Champneys" made more business sense. It was already a well-known and established brand with so much heritage, so why waste it?

For the Champneys experience at home, Champneys launched in 2004 its own collection of beauty products which were sold exclusively in Sainsbury's. That partnership ended last year and Boots is now the retailer of Champneys' products.

By the way, Mrs Dorothy Purdew OBE celebrated her 80th birthday early this year and is still involved in the management of Champneys. Last year, she had her autobiography published (it was her son's idea, not hers), The Long Road to Champneys: The Extraordinary Life of a Pioneering Spa Queen.

It's an inspiring read, giving readers a glimpse of her life and what went on behind the scenes at Champneys, even including a bit about the late George Best who stayed at Champneys Forest Mere for two years after his controversial liver transplant.


Well, Champneys, it would be great if you could drop the mineral oils and maybe I'll book myself a weekend retreat at Champneys Tring one day. One fine day.


Champneys products are available through Boots, eg: Boots UK and Boots Nederland, and Target in the US.


More information:
Champneys website

Adorned Nails: KOH True Love


Here's a sweet one from the new KOH Fantasy collection.


KOH True Love looks so innocent with its peach and pretty, little glass flecks. This polish reminds me of KOH Tease from the Sexy collection that was out a couple of months back. If you compare the photos of these two polishes, you will see that Tease is a coral and has a tinge more red than True Love does.


If anyone has noticed, at a glance, True Love may look a bit like KOH Skinny (that also belongs to the Fantasy collection) but the latter is a darker and more somber shade. It's a somewhat serious-looking nude compared to the more youthful, perkier peach of True Love.

Application of True Love was effortless, as is usually the case with jellies. I have three coats on in these photos.

This polish was provided by KOH Cosmetics.


Previous Fantasy polish: KOH Rich
Next and final Fantasy polish: KOH Lucky Star

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Adorned Nails: KOH Rich


Before I get on with something not related to nail polishes, here's a quick post continuing the KOH Fantasy series.


Gotta love how opulent KOH Rich looks! No matter how many purple polishes I've seen, I could never get tired of this colour on nails. I've got the usual two coats on here.

Rich twinkles a bit in sunshine. I was lucky with the timing and managed to take this one shot when the sun appeared from behind the clouds for all of eight seconds on a miserable, cloudy day.


This polish was provided by KOH Cosmetics.


Previous Fantasy polish: KOH Skinny
Next Fantasy polish: KOH True Love

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Adorned Nails: KOH Skinny



Remember KOH Loving Bronze (above, left) from last year's Holiday Spirits collection?

It's one of those underhyped polishes from KOH, in my opinion, and it's a pity that it was a limited edition polish. With its sparkly golden yellow micro glitters in a sea of coral, its beauty is best appreciated upclose.


KOH Skinny from the upcoming KOH Fantasy collection is a close cousin of Loving Bronze, just minus the golden yellow bits. It's a shimmer polish and was opaque in two thick coats. Skinny isn't an eye-catcher per se but I think, with its understated elegance, it is an easygoing dark nude that can go with just about any outfit colour.

This polish was provided by KOH Cosmetics.


Previous Fantasy polish: KOH Famous
Next Fantasy polish: KOH Rich

Thursday, 7 June 2012

My Beauty Diary: Vanilla Soufflé Face Scrub Review


You'd want to squirt this on your scrumptious cupcakes if you didn't read the full name on the bottle.


Finally, my first feature on My Beauty Diary! If you've never heard of this brand before, My Beauty Diary is a Taiwanese brand and is today still synonymous with facial sheet masks, despite countless other Asian brands offering similar masks on the market currently. The brand has a cult following, especially in the Far East.

But okay, we'll talk about their sheet masks some other time. Let's take a look at the My Beauty Diary Vanilla Soufflé Face Scrub.

This is what the brand says (excerpts):

This fun formulation of foaming facial scrub with moisturizing Vanilla Mousse contains natural papaya enzyme synergized with multiple plant ingredients to moisturize and condition dull and tired skin.......The accummulated dull and old skin cells will disappear and new cells will restore the delicate and smooth surface of the skin........it absorbs excessive oil........


Ingredients

There appears to be at least one printing error on the list. There is one item that says just "seed extract" and as the crucial name "Carica papaya" is nowhere to be found on the rest of the list, I think that that is the papaya enzyme that got missed out in the blurp.

The product does contain alcohol and parabens but I am quite impressed that it contains many plant extracts, some of which are native to Asia:

• Japanese elm root extract
• centella extract
• fig fruit extract
• cnidium root extract
• licorice root extract
• Chinese peony root extract
• purslane extract
• kudzu root extract
• aloe vera leaf juice

These plant extracts have been used for generations in one way or another in traditional medicine to treat various ailments. Many of them have anti-inflammatory properties, a couple have antioxidant capacities and one, the Japanese elm root, is said to be as moisturising as hyaluronic acid and is good for cell regeneration.

Those are not the words of My Beauty Diary. I've been doing my own little research and I thought I'd share it here. It all sounds good but the thing is, we wouldn't know how much of these plant extracts actually is in this product to be beneficial enough to the skin, would we?



How To Use
• Wash your face with your usual facial cleanser, lightly dab dry.
• Shake the Vanilla Soufflé bottle really well, squirt the product onto your palm with the bottle turned diagonally upside down.
• About the size of a golf ball would do.
• Massage onto face in circular motions for about one minute. Don't forget the neck area.
• Rinse off with water.



Complaints
Before I get on with what I think, I should let you know that there have been complaints by other ladies about this face scrub, such as:

• It smells strongly of alcohol, which was enough to put some ladies off already.
• It stings.
• It's too drying for the skin.
• It can cause breakouts.

For some reason, my experience with this face scrub has been very different, which goes to show that everyone's skin is different.


My Thoughts
Scent
To me, the Vanilla Soufflé Face Scrub smells quite like a sweet cookie/dessert. Whatever alcohol smell there is (my nose can't detect it) must be dominated by the sweet coconut-ty scent. Gah, where's the vanilla, really?!

Texture
The words soufflé and mousse are used interchangeably here. The face scrub is like your everyday hair mousse. It comes out white and the mousse is light, fluffy, foamy and super velvety smooth.


Exfoliation
Scrub. Hmmm, that's another inaccuracy in the name. It contains no granules, so you won't really be doing any scrubbing. If anything, it offers chemical exfoliation, as in an enzyme peel, supposedly with the papaya enzyme.

As you massage the mousse on your face, it begins to dry and you'll end up with white bits and rolled-up slivers on your skin. Keep massaging it on the face for one minute. Add a few drops of water if it gets too dry or if your fingers encounter resistance.


At first sight, one would be inclined to think that the white bits are dead skin cells. Wow, right?

However, the lowdown: Nope, it's not necessarily dead skin. For the most part, they are really dried up, rubbery, stretchy bits of the mousse itself. I've inspected some of the bigger pieces and you can pull these bits apart like pulling apart stretchy bread dough.

I've also noticed that some of the mousse that is still on the nozzle of the bottle does dry up after a while and turn, again, into the same kind of white stretchy bits. That's why I say that what I end up with on my skin is mostly the mousse and not necessarily dead skin cells. However, maybe some of the dead skin cells have been incorporated into these white bits. I can't say for sure.

Efficacy
For the past three months, I've been using this "scrub" once every 7-10 days (My Beauty Diary suggests 1-2 times per week). I do find my skin somewhat smoother, softer and less dull after each use but I won't claim that it's changed my world.

After rinsing off, I dab dry and go right ahead with the next step. That usually involves using a My Beauty Diary sheet mask. It's the perfect next step because, after the so-called peel, the skin should be ready to take in all the nourishment that the mask has to offer.


As a side note, I'll tell you why I bought this Vanilla Soufflé Face Scrub in the first place:

• Curiosity
I don't usually fall for kawaii-cutiepie-koochi-koochi-cute things but I have been curious about My Beauty Diary for a looooong time.

• Convincing sales promoter
I'm very wary of pushy, smooth-talking sales promoters, especially those in Asia, but this young lady, even thoough she was a smooth-talker, she offered me a lot of useful advice on how to make the most of the products.

• Demo
She did a demonstration of this Face Scrub on my arm and lo and behold, when she rinsed it off, I swear I could see a brighter patch of skin compared to the 'unscrubbed' skin! I wish I had taken a photo of that then.

I tried replicating that at home the other day but I couldn't. I then realised that I had a tan back then due to exposure to the fierce tropical sun and so, the difference was very obvious. Now, back in the sun-less low lands, I've lost my tan, hence my failed at-home demo. Sorry!


Conclusion
You could say I'm ambivalent about this face "scrub". I don't hate it, I don't super love it and I won't say it's a must-have. I quite like it in that I haven't had issues with the alcohol content, it doesn't break me out and I think it's a subtle (very subtle!) exfoliator that serves as a good-enough prelude to the My Beauty Diary sheet masks.

I won't be buying another bottle when this one finishes. There are other exfoliators that I would like to try and which I'm sure would also work well with the facial sheet masks. Easy access to this brand is also another issue. I bought this in Kuala Lumpur and paid about €15 for this 120ml bottle. While the brand is Taiwanese, it says on my bottle that the product is made in Korea.


My Beauty Diary website:
English
Taiwanese Chinese


I looked around on the internet and here are a couple of places where you can buy My Beauty Diary products:
Sasa.com
Soy Fashion
CP Cosmetics store on Amazon.com
Amazon UK

Monday, 4 June 2012

Adorned Nails: Essence Spell Bound (Magnetic)



It's time I featured a magnetic polish from Essence, one from umm, Version 2.0. I tried Version 1.0 back in 2010 and it was a big fail. I was sorely disappointed by the un-magnificent magnetic performance: no pattern, nada! I was so disappointed that I chucked them all into my drawer and refused to even write a post about them. It just wasn't worth my time.

Other ladies had mixed results. The general consensus back then was that the magnet wasn't strong enough and some ladies had better results with fridge or other stronger magnets.

Essence magnets: Current version (L); Old version (R)


Anyway, Essence brought out a new line of Essence Nail Art Magnetics nail polishes together with a redesigned magnet last year, calling it the Essence Nail Art Magnet. I wasn't as enthusiastic as before but I did buy a couple of the new items. A few months ago, Essence released a few more new magnetic nail polish shades which I thought were really cool colours.

Essence Spell Bound is one of the fairly new magnetic shades. It is a broody dark blue with subtle bits of silver and cobalt blue shimmer (obvious only in sunshine). This time, I was very pleased with the magnetic effect. The new magnet actually works!

I know most of you are already familiar with magnetic polishes but for the benefit of those who are new to this, I've included here a short how-to. And, as with most things in life, it requires patience, determination and lots of practice. It's very satisfying when you get it right.

How To Use Magnetic Nail Polish

Each magnet will produce a pre-determined design. Basically, over your usual base coat, you apply one not-too-thick, not-too-thin coat of the magnetic polish on one nail and quickly hold the magnet facing your nail for at least ten seconds (some recommend 20-30 seconds). Repeat the process nail by nail.

• Do it quick when the polish is still wet.
• Hold the magnet as close to the nail as possible without touching it.
• As far as the Essence magnet is concerned, by "close", I mean a distance of about 2-3mm. Yes, it can be tricky.
• To keep steady, have your hands/arms anchored on the table.
• You can see better by viewing your nail and the magnet from the sides.
• If needed, shut one eye for the side view. It works for me, however unelegant I end up looking.


Although you're supposed to slip one finger into this Essence magnet piece, I prefer to simply hold the magnet with my thumb and forefinger as I can hold it steadier that way. With this particular Essence magnet, I like to rest the polished finger, i.e. the knuckle closest to the nail, against the protruding plastic edge (indicated below by the arrow) of the magnet piece. I find it the best way to keep steady and be able to hold the magnet as close to the nail as possible.

Essence magnets: Current version (L); Old version (R)

One nail - the ring finger here - did touch the magnet. Luckily, it was just a fleeting, light touch that didn't cause much damage. You can see a blurry vertical 'band' running across a few of the stripes in the first nail photo above but it's quite subtle from other angles.


The magnet that I've used here is 01 Magic Stripes. If nothing's defective, you'll end up with the results as promised on the packaging. Hold the magnet diagonally and you could get diagonal stripes. I've had mixed results with this though, probably because I couldn't hold the magnet close enough to the nail at an angle (the angle of the stripes follows the angle of the magnet held in relation to the nail).


Essence has another magnet out called 02 Magic Star which is supposed to produce a pretty star pattern. I won't comment on it as I haven't got it myself but I can say that I've heard some less-than-positive things about this other magnet.

Prices:
Essence Nail Art Magnet - €1.79
Essence Nail Art Magnetics polish (8ml) - €1.99

I'm sure it hasn't escaped your notice that many brands have brought out magnetic polishes in the past year, so shop around. Essence just happens to be the brand that I have easiest access to.


More information:
Essence website