Monday, March 23

Faking It

Since returning from a prolonged stint in the sun-baked Balearics, and watching the tawny tan that I'd come to believe was a permanent fixture fade fast, I've shied away from faking it. All that painstaking prep, loading up on product, stained sheets, maintenance - it all seemed so much effort compared with a 10 minute walk in the Mallorcan sunshine that gently topped-up my tan. 

And yet, with the onslaught of spring I think it's time my skin (or at least the extremities that are starting to surface) became reacquainted with a golden glow. And so, naturally, after a hiatus I turned to my foolproof faking-it staple, Sisley's Self Tanning Hydrating Facial Skin Care. Luxe, nourishing and never failing to impart a subtle, believable tan tone - it's been a long time since a tanner has managed to lure me away, at least in the long term.

But that's not to say I haven't had my fair share of brief flirtations. . . I mean, haven't we all?!

And whilst I don't often tan and tell, I will say that over the last couple of years I've spent many a pleasurable night with James Read BB Gradual Tan - balmy and light, it left my skin glowing and plumped, Clarins' Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster - a made-to-measure tanner that gave skin a realistic weekend-in-the-med bronze tone - and Creme de la Mer's Gradual Tan - a buildable tanner with anti-ageing benefits that gave me a healthy-looking luminosity.

But I think I've finally found The One in St Tropez's Self Tan Luxe Facial Oil.

Don't be misled by the name, as this doesn't apply or indeed feel like an oil in the traditional sense (there's no slip), more a souped-up serum, lightweight and easily-absorbed into skin with just enough pre-dry time for you to circulate it evenly over face, neck and decollete.

With just a hint of trace colour and a matte dry-down, I have been applying it by day as well as overnight, as makeup seems to sit over it quite happily without any DHA-developing concerns or later-in-the-day streaking.

The result is a really subtle, enhanced golden tan tone and skin that looks healthy, bright and lightly sun-kissed rather than scorched.

To keep up the pretence, I've also been smoothing it (using a mini face tanning mitt) over the back of my hands and feet without any around-the-knuckle-and-ankle patchiness.

Although my relationship with Sisley isn't over for good, for this season at least, I'm pretty sure I'll be playing away with this one. . . 

St Tropez Self Tan Luxe Facial Oil | | £23 

Sisley Self Tanning Hydrating Facial Skin Care | | £83.50

James Read BB Gradual Tan | | £22.50

Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster | | £19

Creme de la Mer The Face and Body Gradual Tan |  | £65

Saturday, March 21

Glow Givers

Whatever the current beauty trend diktat, one element you can count on surviving season to season is healthy and glowing, lit-from-within skin. 

Nail this and everything else falls, seamlessly, into place. 

A pillarbox red lip feels modern and fresh. A souped up set of Cara-esque brows seem face-flattering, not forced.  And spring 15's much lauded naked face? Eschew mascara and you're already there. 

To get the glossy-skinned look, I've been taking a multi-pronged approach that starts upon waking with a, now ritualistic, detoxifying cup of warm lemon water and is swiftly followed by a spoonful of Fountain's The Glow Molecule. Not at all as ick as you'd imagine, the liquid supplement is surprisingly palatable with a slightly viscous texture and a hint of acai flavouring. Packed full of L-Glutathione (inhibits melanin production to even out skin tone) and a Hyaluronic Acid Matrix (plumps and hydrates cells) it offers concentrated inside-out skin enhancing.

As a skincare boost Clayspray Glow Red Clay with Cacao Mask is something of a marmite choice. Whilst I'm not totally sold on the smear-melted-chocolate-on-your-skin scent, preferring soapy and fresh to sweet and gourmand, I am hooked on the result - a refined and brightened face. So much so, this has become a twice-weekly affair as I attempt to shed my winter-weary skin. 

I'm down to the very last drop of Dior's skincare-makeup hybrid serum, Capture Totale Soin Finition Lumiere Multi Perfection, and the silken, glitter-free formula has served my skin well, injecting luminosity, both immediate and long-term, and a more even tone. Now discontinued (or so it seems from limited online availability), if you're looking for luxe skin illuminating, I'd plump for the new Dior Dream Skin as an alternative. 

Having watched Burberry's Fresh Glow Luminous Fluid Base in Golden Radiance being applied backstage at the SS15 show, there was no doubt this was going to be a game changer. Used as a pre-base skin prep product, applied over moisturiser and under foundation, it blends down to a warm and sheer barely-there glow thanks to super-fine illuminating particles and a touch of tan tone. Whilst I emulate mua Wendy Rowe, applying with fingers before buffing a lightweight foundation into the more needy areas around my nose and mouth, thanks to its translucent texture, it can also be mixed into foundation or patted over the high points of your cheekbones, cupid's bow and the bridge of your nose. The takeaway? A believable, healthy green-juice-guzzling glow.

To finish and add subtle definition, I have been daubing Topshop's All Over Glow along cheek and brow bones for luminous highlighting and RMS Beauty's Cream Eyeshadow over lids and just along the lower lash line, for a sheer, sheeny and refined, metallic wash. 

The Brightening Mask | Clayspray Glow Red Clay with Cacao Mask | £25 |

The Lit-From-Within Liquid | Fountain The Glow Molecule | £38 |

The Illuminator  | Topshop All Over Glow in Ignite | £10 |

The Radiant Serum | Dior Capture Totale Radiance Enhancer |

The Skin Tint | Burberry Fresh Glow Luminous Fluid Base in Golden Radiance | £34 |

The Bright Eye | RMS Cream Eye Shadow in Myth |  £19 |

Saturday, January 31

Hair Tamer | Keratin Brazilian Blow Dry

My feet may be sodden and my new Penelope Chilvers' boots water-stained beyond repair but I can guarantee that my hair will defy all that the British weather can throw at it. Come rain, snow, sleet or hailstones. . . there will be no trace of frizz, pouf or windswept wildness. I will emerge from beneath my sopping umbrella brandishing a mane of smooth, glossy, 'because-I'm-worth-it' hair. . .  But before you go rushing off in search of a miracle product, the secret I'm about to relinquish is not the latest precipitation-protecting serum (though there are a few good'uns about*), but a man. And his name is Zoltan.

He may sound like a magician, and to me, he pretty much is. 
       How else would you describe someone who literally gives you the gift of time? 

Ok. So I'm being a tad melodramatic. But not having to set  aside hours of the week to slavishly wash, blow-dry and style my hair has been nothing short of life (and hair) changing And it is all down to the joy of the Brazilian blow dry, a technique that Zoltan - track him down at Josh Wood Atelier - is a master of. 

Even the most unruly manes can be tamed with Zoltan's bespoke, keratin-infused, heat-sealed, treatments. This is not about transforming natural curls into straightened locks, but removing the halo of frizz that emerges at every moisture-drenched opportunity - whilst whittling down at-home styling time. The treatment itself (no more time consuming than a standard salon visit) lasts up to 4 months - though my last one took me all the way through to 8!- and not one morning since have I woken to the mass of unmanageable poodle fluff that I used to call my hair. Instead, I wake to what looks like a dishevelled, but  decent, day-old blow dry, when in actual fact all I've done is lazily wash (using a sulphate-free shampoo), rough dry and smother in Moroccanoil Light Treatment.

And as if you need any more reason to pay Zoltan a visit, not only does the Brazilian blow dry infuse hair with a sheen that I have yet to find in a bottle, the minimal amount of heat blasting required means that hair not only looks super healthy, it really will be.  


Zoltan | 

Josh Wood Atelier |

Moroccanoil Light Treatment | | £13.45

Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil | | £16

Sachajuan Intensive Hair Oil |  | £35

Saturday, January 24

Sweet Treat | Sweet Potato Brownies

Ah the sweet potato. Roasted with sprigs of thyme,  mashed with coconut oil and turmeric, pureed in a steaming-hot bowl of porridge, blended into soup. . . the honeyed taste, satisfyingly starchy texture and immune boosting antioxidants, vitamins and minerals makes them pretty hard to beat. Not least when combined with intensely rich raw cacao and baked into these (gluten, dairy and refined-sugar free) dense, gooey and chocolatey brownie bites. 

Ingredients | makes enough for 16 brownies
1 large sweet potato, pre-baked
1 egg, lightly whisked
8 tbsp raw coconut oil, melted
8 tbsp raw cacao
4 tbsp flour (I use rice or buckwheat)
4 tbsp honey or agave
2 tbsp almond or coconut milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp baking soda

cacao nibs
chopped nuts 

Firstly, to cook the sweet potato I find steaming most effective.  Simply peel, chop into chunks and steam until soft. 

Pre-heat the oven to 200°c and line a square 8 x 8 baking tin with parchment paper, greasing with coconut oil. 

In a large bowl combine all the wet ingredients - sweet potato, egg, almond milk, coconut oil, honey and vanilla essence. Mix well.

In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients - raw cacao, flour, cinnamon and baking soda. 

Add the dry ingredients to the sweet potato mixture and blend thoroughly.

Pour the brownie mixture into the baking tin and place in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes.

Allow to cool before cutting into bite size chunks. 

Saturday, January 17

Sweet Treat | Raw Cacao Mousse

This is one of my go-to sweet treats for (healthily) satisfying sugar cravings. Smooth, creamy and super-chocolatey, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between this and a sugar-laden alternative.

And the best part?
It can be whipped up in 5 minutes flat and served straight away.


Ingredients | makes enough for 2 small portions
1 ripe avocado
2 dates (pitted)
2 heaped tbs raw cacao powder
2 tbs honey/ agave
2 tbs raw coconut oil
innamon powder (to taste)

a handful of nuts
desiccated coconut
fresh berries

In a small saucepan, over a low-medium heat, warm the dates and 1tbs of coconut oil (add the 1tsp of cinnamon here) until soft. 

Blend the rest of the ingredients - avocado, raw cacao, honey and the remaining coconut oil - in a food processor, adding the date mixture once  softened, until smooth. 

To the blended mixture stir in chopped nuts, sprinkle with desiccated coconut and garnish with fresh berries.