Thursday, 17 April 2014

...And Women Are From Venus

Last night, I was invited by my favourite facialist in the UK (never mind Sussex) to road test a new treatment that she now offers.  Karin King is based in Crawley and understands how to improve skin like nobody I know.  Her clients aren't just local, some travel from up to 50 miles away to have her tend to their faces, but there's a problem with this new treatment she's now promoting.  So good is her work on clients who have been with her for years that they just don't need the treatment, hence she's asked me to review in order to showcase what it can do.  I haven't had time to see Karin regularly for years, meaning my skin is perfect in her view....

The new treatment is called Venus Freeze ( and the machine costs as much as a deposit on a small flat.  The idea is that it can smooth out lines, wrinkles, jaw lines, cellulite and baggy arms without having to resort to surgery.  Now, Botox and face lifts are not for me (personal choice, I don't want to undertake major surgery for something quite so flippant) but I'm all up for testing anything that can achieve similar results without a knife or needle.

Venus Freeze is a non-invasive treatment that combines Radio Frequency and Magnetic Pulses giving it the ability to access deep layers of the skin to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin which helps cell renewal and skin to plump, smoothing out wrinkles.
Karin King and her lovely Venus Freeze machine

When I arrived Karin took a couple of before photos which are so hideous I can't bring myself to post (after the course of treatment I may post the after, which should be less hideous).  She then coated my face in a layer of glycerin, which conducts the heat and allows the tool to move smoothly over the skin's surface.

Using a heated rod to raise the temperature of the skin to a reasonable level, Karin drew a figure of eight across the area she was working on with the rod so that my skin got quite hot.  It needs to so that the layers underneath start to repair and bring blood in to do so, which helps create the collagen and elastin.

The heat is absolutely fine on most parts, but does get very hot on bony places such as the forehead, upper lip etc.  However, the heat is adjusted here to make it acceptable.  Once Karin has been over all areas the magnetic phase kicks in to complete the treatment.  To be honest, I can't remember what the magnetic bit did but it was a lot cooler and so very pleasant.

At the end of the treatment I could definitely notice a difference in the bags under my eyes, my jowl lines and my forehead.  However, the best chance to see a difference will be tomorrow as the repairing kicks in.

Overall, I'm impressed.  This machine is FDA approved which is incredibly difficult to achieve, it's the first machine Karin has bought in 15 years because she didn't need to and it's used by a Lister Hospital dermatologist in his private practise.  Someone must be doing something right.

Clearly, it's not cheap but once you've had a course of 6 you only need one every 2-6 months, depending on your skin.  I've signed up for a course as my skin needs some serious TLC and no one is more honest about what works than Karin.  She's the only clinic in Sussex to have Venus Freeze at present so it's either her or up to London if you want to try.  My advice is go to Karin as you'll get someone who gives about your skin, rather than just taking your money.  If you'd like to know more call her on 01293 537007 as I know she's doing some open evenings on this so get yourself booked in, but my advice is to avoid her taking the before photos - frankly, they do nothing for a girl's self esteem.

Friday, 4 April 2014

The Pleasure in Beauty


I’m lucky enough to count Jane Cunningham ( as one of my beauty industry friends and we chat about what beauty means to us.  She brought up that sometimes we buy beauty products not because they necessarily do anything for our skin, but because of the genuine pleasure their presence on the bathroom shelf gives us.   Here are my personal beauty thrills that go above and beyond what it says on the tin.

L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil

Just read the reviews for this product and you will see how amazing it is, but the real pleasure goes beyond that.   When it touches your skin the delicious fragrance of almonds is released but it feels like oil.  However, on contact with water it turns milky and becomes the softest foaming cleanser that I’ve tried – heaven.

Price: £17.50, 250ml


L’Occitane Divine Cream

No apology for two L’Occitane products, they earned their places.  The pleasure in this product is immense.  The fragrance, the feel, the beautiful opaque yellow glass jar and the tiny gold spoon make a ceremony out of moisturizer that often isn’t there.  Oh, I rate the contents too.

Price:  £72.00


Jo Malone Orange Blossom Bath Oil

Jo Malone epitomizes the pleasure that beauty gives without us even trying the product as no woman would be disappointed to see this brand on their birthday.  It is the ultimate gifting brand and so the ultimate brand to understand the pleasure in beauty products.  For me, nothing beats their Orange Blossom Bath Oil – It’s the Cote d’Azur in a bottle at the side of my bath.

Price:  £38.00


Chanel Rouge Coco Hydrating Crème Lip Colour in Mademoiselle

Much of Chanel beauty is the thrill in having part of this iconic brand in your handbag.  The double “C’s”, the black case, the satisfying click as the lipstick case closes – international luxury in my little world. 

Price: £25.00


Bare Minerals Precision Face Brush

I use Kabuki and shadow brushes all the time, but I got this when I recently tried Bare Minerals Foundation.  It is a game changer.  This brush has packed bristles and a chunky feel that makes it solid when you use it. I just know the results are going to be great however poor my workmanship.

Price:  £24.00


Clarins Bronzing Duo SPF 15 Mineral Powder Compact

I could have picked any of my Clarins compacts for this piece as they are all an immense pleasure to use.  From the velour case the compact comes in, to the case itself (gold for eyes, tortoiseshell here), Clarins have made pressed powders an experience that lifts the mundane into something really special.  We’re not just bronzing here, we’re getting sun-kissed by minerals.

Price:  £28.00


Tuesday, 18 February 2014


It’s true that women form close relationships with their hairdresser and what we confide in them is often eye-opening.  My lovely neighbour, Sally, recommended Chris at Rush Chichester to me for colour as I was looking like a stripy tiger from my current woman, who was lovely, lovely, lovely, but not very good.  Initially I was sceptical.  I don’t really like salon chains; I feel that if you go to a salon with the owner in it you get a better service as it's their reputation on the line.  But Chris genuinely is the owner of Rush Chichester, it just happens to be part of a chain so that was me back in my box.   He is also International Colour Director for all 60 Rush salons and travels the world as an educator, so it’s pretty hard to catch him in but once you get him, you realise why you’ve waited.  I work in the notoriously hard-nosed beauty industry and when you have national beauty journalists consistently compliment you on your hair colour, you know you’re onto a good thing.  So, putting our deep, dark secrets to one side (yes, the ones that the rest of the salon listen into as we cackle away over coffee in our corner), I thought we’d find out more about this International Talent who is right on our doorstep and his fantastic team in Chichester.

Q:  Chris, I know that you grew up in Sussex (his Dad designed Walburton Village Hall) but why did you choose to open a salon in Chichester?
A:  I didn’t just grow up in Sussex, I grew up in Chichester.  I went to school here, went out here and so once I decided to open my own salon Chichester was the most obvious place as I know the people and I love it.
Q:  How did you go from being a regular colour technician to not only International Colour Director for Rush but also Schwarzkopf Professional Colour Technician of the Year in 2009? 
A lot of hard work!  Once qualified I started to teach, then I did my first model and then my first show.  After that, a friend and I used to do models each morning before work and take them across to show the art team.   They got so fed up that they created two shows a year for us to lead a new, young art team and I did my first international show on my 21st birthday.

Q:  Colour can be really difficult to get right.  If we’re doing colour at home or we’re coming into a salon, what should we ask for and look for?
A:  It is difficult and it’s a matter of personal taste.  If you’re in a salon ask for advice.  If they don’t have any then they are probably not very experienced.  You need someone who engages with what you want and doesn’t dictate as this could also mean that they are set in their ways.  At Rush Chichester we work to create a natural look that is soft, wearable, suits the client’s skin tone and cut.
At home, don’t go for a big change in your hair colour and remember, colour will not lighten previously coloured hair, that’s why salons strip and bleach hair before putting a lighter shade on.  Salons know the process and how to correct at every stage so do be really careful if you attempt this at home.  Go with a quality brand such as L’Oreal for small, overall changes if you want to colour at home.
Q:  If I’m visiting Rush Chichester for the first time, who should I ask for and why?
Julianne is a colour specialist of over 25 years who I met when we were on the Sassoon Art Team together.  Stacey cuts, colours, is an NVQ teacher and was a regional finalist in the L’Oreal Colour Trophy,  Anna is our Colour Director and means we are the only Rush salon in the UK able to train our apprentices in-house.  Anna was also a national finalist in the L’Oreal Colour Trophy and is brilliant at cutting too.   Gianni does the most amazing blow dries and is a cutting/styling expert, Sabrina is a great all rounder and Emily and Abby are just qualifying after two and a half years, they are amazing so don’t think it’s just me that’s experienced!

 Q:  What colours are you predicting for Summer 2014?
A:  Truer Red shades in a move away from the deeper darker shades that have been popular recently.  Brunettes will have cooler, mocha shades but with softer shades through the ends that create a looser more summery feel.  Blondes will have more of a multi-textured highlighted feel that goes with this messy-dressy vibe at the moment in golden, caramel and champagne shades which are far more natural than the icier blondes of late. 

Rush Chichester is at 42 East Street
Prices for cut and blowdry form £39 and Permanent Colour from £58.
To book contact the salon on: T: 01243 885348 or online at

PS this is not a "paid for" post.  I haven't received cash, goods nor services for this, I just genuinely think it's a good salon that strives for excellence and we're lucky to have such a team in Sussex.  Also, Chris is a really decent bloke!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Get yer LV, Channel and Yvee Saint Laurent Cheap as Chips!

When I worked on the fragrance counter in Boots at the tender age of 15, I distinctly remember one chap asking for "Channel and Yvee Saint Laurent" to test.  He ended up buying Charlie, one of the best-selling fragrances of the 1980's at a fraction of the price.  That was my first exposure to luxury brands (not the Charlie bit).

These days, I quite like luxury brands but I'm fussy.  I no longer want Louboutin shoes at any price having seen a succession of people I don't want to look like wearing them.  However I do lust after a Chanel bag and am working out several ways to get one without paying the going rate.

Chanel Vintage often appears on BrandAlley and SecretSale, but are gone within minutes.  You don't stand a chance of snagging one but there are other sites where they hang around a bit longer.  Try or where the bags give you a chance to make an informed decision.  Both were recommended to me by Jane Cunningham at who has forgotten more about Chanel than I'll ever know.     However, I still struggle to bring myself to buy a second hand bag at that price.  I want a new one with at least 50% off!

There is a whispered, hallowed event that takes place every so often when top journalists and influencers are invited to a Chanel bag sale.  It's impossible for someone like me to get on the list - I need more of you to follow the blog (more than 4, anyway).   However, even once you're on the list, queueing for hours in the cold (I hear that the top hotels have banned the sales from their rooms as they think the queues not appropriate for their image), you have to pick from what's there.  Now, that may be brilliant, but it may not be quite right and you'll still be paying a lot of money.

This lovely glossy terminal has a Chanel shop and this is where a colleague suggested I try my luck.  Her theory is that you get the VAT back by taking your bag of the country.  Not an insignificant amount on a Chanel bag.  However, research shows this is fine for her, with a mother living abroad who visits, purchases and then gives the bag to her daughter when she gets out to the Far East.  This is not fine for the rest of us as you have to be able to prove you will be out of the UK for 12 months, if not, goods will be confiscated - not really the point, so this is won't work either.

No, not an option at all.  Illegal and completely against the point of owning a luxury brand.  It isn't just the logo, it's the quality of the product that I want to experience. 

So, I visited the Bond Street store, the new Chanel shop which is the biggest in Europe.  I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised at how charming the staff were and keen to explain what we were looking at - not the products, the store design.  The Murano glass sculpture which represents Chanel's pearls, the upstairs showroom that replicates her Paris apartment lounge, the couture items loaned from recent catwalk shows & the symbolism in them.  It was very pleasant and no, I wasn't buying, I was just nosing around and they were charming about it.

No, there's only one thing to do, hope that someday I can afford this type of spend and then make a day of it.  Pretend I've no idea which bag I want & spend at least an hour choosing, get it wrapped and then go for a fantastic lunch.  One thing I will do though, is keep the receipt - the market in second hand Chanel bags is fantastic.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013


This week, I've got a fabulous work experience girl with me who is the daughter of friends up the road (there you go, my hand is declared in that I know her).

I firmly believe in proper work experience opportunities for young people as I doubt any of us knew what we wanted to do when we left school - I never thought I'd do this.  Anyway, I love having her, she's calm, capable and does what I say which makes her perfect.

What I hated was the paperwork that now surrounds these placements.  Of course, no one wants to put a child in danger, but I work from home with no employees so we don't have Employers Liability Insurance (which I've had to take out for this week), we don't have the plugs and electrical appliances checked, the boiler hasn't been serviced in the last 12 months and no, the stock room (where I keep press samples) is not quite as H&S ready as perhaps they would like.

The coordinators at the school really can't have much on as they've been on the e-mail or attempting to phone every five minutes to see if I had sorted the insurance.  To be blunt I don't want to have insurance in place longer than I need to (as it's a business expense) so I did leave it until 4 days before she was meant to start.   However, I said I'd have it in place and I did but the e-mails between the school, the college (which was involved, I'm not sure how) and me went on and on.  Allegedly, the school reads out the names of the pupils in assembly who's companies haven't completed all their paperwork - why don't they just stick them on a stage with silly hats and point to them throughout break?

I'm a small business, I don't have staff because business can be uncertain and I've made people redundant in the past - it wasn't pleasant for either of us - and I don't want that expense or pressure right now.  I can't be the only business that is working hard, doing okay but keeping business finances tight, but it comes as no surprise to hear that my workie's friends are almost all in primary schools shadowing teachers.  A public enterprise has all the time and resources to tick the boxes.

I'm sure they don't all want to be teachers, but I'm equally sure I won't have a workie again and I bet many other small companies are exactly the same.  She lives up the road to me but I'm not allowed to take her to the station in my car so her mum is having to drive us both whilst the fear of God has been put into me when we go to London for a series of meetings on Friday.  I might wrap her in bubble wrap before we go.

Everyone knows that you won't get much done when you have someone shadowing you for a week so it's a real investment in time and energy into that person, time and energy that we need for business frankly.  Schools, don't make it even harder for kids to find their vocations.

Monday, 10 June 2013


Cellulite is one of those really tricky beauty problems.  To be perfectly honest, weight loss is relatively simple – less in, more out – it just requires self-discipline and that’s where most of us fail.  Cellulite is tricker, depending on your genes, lifestyle, hormones and your skin type, most of which are out of our control.  Lifestyle is about the only one we can have any decisions over and as there are claims that up to 70% of cellulite is down to lifestyle we can help ourselves an awful lot.   Treatments to help are out there, but bear in mind that results always vary from individual to individual so what works for one may not work for you.  Here are the few that I’d actually recommend.

Hypoxi Training
 The image doesn’t really tell us what’s going on here.  This is a salon-based treatment (there are just two centres in all of Sussex) that requires you undertaking 2-3 sessions each week for 30 minutes each session.  The model’s lower half in a sealed chamber (a bit like a canoe seal) and she is sat on an exercise bike.  You pedal for 30 minutes and during that time there is a vacuum that sucks and releases air in the chamber.  The idea is the vacuum is literally pulling your blood through the lumpy fat cells towards the surface of the skin.  When the vacuum releases, the blood moves back into the system and flows around the body.  The bit that makes sense to me is that if you feel your fatty areas after you’ve exercised they are normally quite cold, which means your blood supply isn’t getting into them.  By forcing blood into these areas through the suction, you’re helping improve your circulation, which must be a good thing for cellulite reduction. 
Price:                        Check Groupon and online for offers.  Price around £60 per session, but 
                                   there are deals to be had

Another salon treatment, but this one lifts and rolls your skin, breaking down fibres that are holding the bumpy bits of fat in place.  With this treatment, there’s no exercise involved, so if you want a passive solution, this could be it.  Endermologie also works on scar tissue and has a host of celebrity fans.
Price:                        £55 per session

There are lots of very good reasons to do Powerplate (or similar) training.  For women, it helps increase bone density and fight osteoporosis and it improves cellulite four times faster than if you were on a treadmill for the same amount of time.  You stand on this vibrating platform and it wobbles you with small but incredibly fast movements, stimulating blood flow all over.  Ten minutes is all you’ll need and probably all you can stand.  I felt very sick when doing this – must be the motion – but it does give great benefits so see if you can take it
Price:                        from £10 for 10 minutes

Elemis Skin Brush
Body Brushing is great for skin all over, but if you concentrate on cellulite you will see an improvement here too.  The Elemis Skin Brush is made of high quality Cactus bristles that assist the internal system by kick-starting the circulation and sweeping away dead skin cells. Brush upwards from the soles of your feet, avoiding sensitive areas.
Price:                        £20.00

Soap & Glory Sit Tight Super Intense XS
Caffeine packed cream complete with massage head applicator.  Personally, I don’t think creams can make any real difference to cellulite, but coupled with the applicator this one is better than many.  If you want a product in a jar to do the job, this one will give temporary assistance.
Price:                        £16.50

bliss fatgirlsoap

This is a caffeine-boosted soap with massaging nubs that you work into the skin.  The theory is the massage element coupled with the ingredients will not only help revitalise skin but will also help contour.   Jojoba beads are added to help with exfoliation and massage.
Price:                        £14.00

Oh dear….
Last week I wrote about the Elemis Marine Cream at £99.00 a pop.  I have one in the cupboard so I got it out to test, only to drop it on the floor and lose half of it to the carpet.  That’s Karma in action for recommending something at that price!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Thermasoft Bootees by Alessandro

I am in love.

I am just trying out a product given to me by alessandro International called Thermasoft Bootees.

Meant for a salon or home pedicure, they're not cheap at £9.95 a set, but what utter bliss.  I would use these even on a cold winter night when you just want a bit of warmth in your feet.

You get two plastic boots and a disposable measuring jug.  Into each boot you pour 2 x 6 oz lukewarm water and leave it to brew for 3 minutes.  After this, you pop your feet into the inner liner and the boots heat up.

As you can see from my picture, the boots aren't much of a look, but the inner liner is laced with Shea Butter so when you take them off feet are silky smooth and princess perfect.  These are great as a home treatment - no mess, very easy to use and they work.  Buy them at