Dec 12

Bath oils – a practical exercise to follow the previous bath oils post

You need to read the post on how to purchase bath oils as gifts first. Go on now, this won’t make much sense otherwise. Ok. Do you have a general idea of how to handle it? Let’s give it a whirl in a practical setting.

Today I received an email from Space NK, Delectable Bathing Gifts + FREE DELIVERY. Annoying shouting in the subject line aside, it’s a list of sets of bathing products to buy as gifts. Have a look. We’ll go through them one by one. I’m not going to deconstruct the email but will instead, for clarity, focus on the sets and take each one separately. I make no pretense of adhering to the principals I advocated previously.

British Bathing Heroes – Beautannia

Why they didn’t make this a proper alliteration, I’ll never know. Some people. Anyway.

So what do we know about this? It’s four bottles of Space NK’s own brand (new own brand) shower gel. Each is 100mL (I think – it doesn’t say on the site but mentions in the email – anyway, 100mL is about 1/2 a bottle, I’ll keep repeating this). It’s £30. Now, yesterday or the other day or whenever, I wrote that you shouldn’t buy Space NK own brands unless you’re sure your gift recipient likes them. Thinking about it and the fact that I am quite keen to try these in particular, in this form, four at once without a massive commitment, I am going to slightly change that advice. If your recipient starts to stress a bit when she has only 3 different gels sitting in the shower and likes Space NK, then this might be a good gift. HOWEVER, I think there is an above average chance they will be in the sale. So maybe not, especially if she avidly shops the sale.

I love that sort of thing. Never believe the medical benefits, go with the stuff where the placebo effect can kick serious ass.

Rose Experience Gift Set by REN

It’s REN, it’s rose, it’s lovely. 100mL (1/2 bottle ish) of the body cream and body wash and 30mL of the body oil and bath oil. It’s £32 and even though the body cream makes the body oil slightly redundant, it’d still make a lovely gift, I think. There’s also a smaller set for £18 which doesn’t have the body oil and has smaller versions of the cream and wash but still has 30 mL of the bath oil.

Ultimate Collection by Aromatherapy Associates

Ultimate Collection by Aromatherapy Associates as Space NK

We’ve been over this already. It’s a winner. What do you mean you don’t know that we’ve been over this already? Didn’t you read the previous post about bath oils? It’s in there. Space NK also has a version of this with a bit less in each mini bottle for a bit less money, but this one has 7.5mL samples, enough for one greedy bath or two not-so-greedy baths per bottle. That one has 3mL per bottle, enough for one bath. This one is £50, that one is £30.

Drift Away Collection – Life NK

Do I have to put a photo with this? Sigh. Here it is.

Drift Away Collection by life NK

I haven’t smelled this but am worried about the smell. Don’t buy this one, again, chances are it’ll be in the sale. If you want to buy something to sample the Life NK scents, try the Bath and Shower Gel Trio instead. This is £20. Not sure about sizes.

Essential Mineral Set by Sai-Sei

Essential Mineral by Sai-Sei at Space NK

I want to try this brand. But not like this. Soap? Who wants hard soap with a loofah in it? I mean, I can see wanting it but this is what it says…

How to apply:

Use Mineral Refresh Bath and Shower Gel and the Mineral Loofah Body Polish Soap to gently cleanse, exfoliate and tone. After bathing, apply Mineral Deep Moisture Body Cream to nourish and soften skin.

What? I totally don’t get it. Use the shower gel with the soap? No. That’s just weird. (Now I want to try it, of course.) However, here’s a good alternative if you like the look of it and, say, know your wife wants it: Essential Minerals (a similar name, I will admit, and a similar set except with a little fancy shower puff which makes way more sense). The shower gel and moisture cream are full size or close to itaccording to the email and I think it’s cheaper at £50 than buying them all separately.

Tarte Au Citron Bath & Body Duo by Laura Mercier

Something with lemon custard? by Laura Mercier at Space NK.

My husband once turned to me and said “You smell like a cupcake”. It wasn’t a compliment and I agreed, I smelled like a cupcake. I was trying to use up some sample body cream but gave up and threw it out. What I’m trying to say is that I’m unsure about smelling like a dessert. You can ooh and errr all you’d like about emitting an edible scent, but when it comes down to it, it’s not for everyone. Not for me at least. It does look nice and I’m sure it is nice, you get 150mL of each plus a dippy thingy for £25.

Last but not bathing related, the bottom of the email had Cellularose Brightening Cream by By Terry. I don’t think cellularose is a word but I want it.

And if you’re using this to buy presents, it’s at your own risk. How do I know?

Dec 12

Music for parents with small children

First up,  Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films. It’s a bit bonkers. The track list is available on Wikipedia.

Tom Waits sings Heigh Ho, The Dwarves’ Marching Song


My favourite is Suzanne Vega’s Stay Awake.


Second (last, it’s a short list) cd: Kristin Hersh’s Murder, Misery and Then Goodnight. These are lullabies. Lullabies in which a woman is drowned and the baby gets a bottle of gin amongst other things. My dad remembers these from when he was little, growing up in Tennessee.

Kristin Hersh: What’ll we do with the baby-o?




Dec 12

Some bath oils : Buy, buy again (again but these are for other people to buy you)

I have strong opinions on bath oils; it’s strange because I’m not hugely picky. Nevertheless, let me tell you how to buy bath oils for women.

Currently waiting to be used.

1. Buy a single bottle or small set of the good stuff (more on the good stuff below).

Don’t buy a gigantic set of products, eg this Soap and Glory set with everything you could need, plus mascara. Chances are, she won’t use half the stuff and each individual item is not terribly expensive on its own. She can buy it herself. Unless she’s asked for this! Then by all means, buy it for her. Why are you even reading this?

2. Buy your bath oil from a boutique or Space NK.

I think it’s less fun to get something you see when you’re out grocery shopping – makes it a bit everyday, don’t you think? Ordering online is ok, but there is no reason to use Amazon. Wean yourself from it. They are pretty evil. You are clever, you can find somewhere else and this post has links. Don’t sell out for a pound or two (or five or ten even).

 3. Don’t buy Space NK own brand.

Space NK’s own brand is hit or miss. Sometimes the misses are wildly off. I haven’t tried their new Beautannia range (hidden own brand) but just pick something else unless you’re sure she’ll like it.

Now for the fun part: here’s what I have and love. I have received all of these repeatedly as presents and am happy each time I do.

Aromatherapy Associates bath oils. Each is enough for a single bath.

If the woman for whom you are buying likes buying teas to revive & revitalise, to cleanse or for a moment of calm,  then she will probably like Aromatherapy Associates. They have bath oils to Relax, De-stress and Revive, to Support Equilibrium– the bumpf says

For when the going gets tough and you’ve got to keep going , therapeutic levels of pure essential oils combine to create a bath and shower oil that will help restore balance and positive thinking. Highly effective during times of stress and emotional upheaval, Support Equilibrium Bath & Shower Oil can also be enjoyed as part of a pampering bathtime soak.

– and much more. Buy the Ultimate Collection this year and next time, buy her the ones she likes best.

REN Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil

If she likes rose, then, easy, buy REN Moroccan Rose Otto Rose Bath Oil. It’s absolutely lovely. There’s not much more to say, this is the best rose bath oil out there.

Ortigia Lime Di Sicilia

Ortigia Lime Di Sicilia Bath Oil smells like I imagine Italy. I do mean imagine, not remember – I don’t remember anywhere in Italy smelling like this, although there were some excellent smells. This is limes and summer and soothing skies.

Another excellent brand I love – but have recycled the bottles – is Abahna. They have discontinued my favourite, the Frankincense and Sweet Orange, bastards.


Nov 12

Buy, buy again (again)

Another photo of a used beauty product, yay! The idea is that these are the products I buy again, after I’ve given them a full container’s worth of use and know I love them. The first post in this series is here: Buy, buy again. This time it’s Talika Lash Conditioning Cleanser. It works. It takes off every bit of every mascara and my eyelashes look fuller and better, especially great after that waxing incident where I removed eyelashes instead of eyebrows. I use it by pumping a couple of spurts – and it does spurt, it’s not the smoothest pump action – on my fingers, then gently rubbing it onto my eyes – it doesn’t pull – and then taking it off with a cotton pad. Pretty easy. It doesn’t sting my eyes, but I had a look at the Makeupalley reviews and it seems it does for some people. It looks like it’s either one of those things that you either love or hate, so maybe ask for a sample before you buy a full bottle.

The only things I’ve found to work as well to remove eye makeup are cleansing oils (my fave is Shu Uemura green) and oil based cleansers like Eve Lom. I suppose the Talika has the benefit of adding volume to lashes over time, but I wouldn’t use it if I were using either of those as it would seem a bit redundant. I might still use proper makeup remover on my face though (I wrote about Nuxe Micellar Cleansing Water vs Bioderma Créaline H2O here if you’re interested) . Maybe I should try and see what feels best, for the good of us all, of course.

Nov 12

Cage match: Nuxe Micellar Cleansing Water vs Bioderma Créaline H2O

This is going to be a short review. There’s not a great deal that I can say about cleansing waters. I use them on cotton wool to remove makeup before washing my face properly – however, I use a separate remover for my eye makeup (Talika Lash Conditioning Cleanser which is amazing) so they doesn’t need to do any heavy lifting. Both the Nuxe Micellar Cleansing Water with Rose Petals and Bioderma Créaline H2O remove makeup well, no problems there. Let me say also say that I think the Bioderma Sensibio H2O is the same thing as the Crealine H2O but don’t know for certain. Rumour and innuendo abound.

The big differences in the Nuxe and Bioderma are the texture and residue left on my face.  The Bioderma feels like water. Magic makeup removing water. It’s watery to the point of being positively water-like and doesn’t leave anything on my face. Much like water. This is a good thing.

The Nuxe does not have the same degree of desirable wateriness. It’s thicker and a bit sticky and smells (a lovely smell to be fair, rose petals y’know) and leaves a tacky film on my face. I just had a look at the bumpf on the Space NK site and it says

A non-sticky, fresh texture and delicate fragrance for perfectly cleansed face, eyes and lips, leaving your skin clean, soft and comfortable.

I think Space NK and I define non-sticky slightly differently. It’s not awful and I’ll use it up, but will definitely go back to the Bioderma after this, unless another cleansing water catches my wandering eye.

Feb 12

Buy, buy again

The start of this post was about beauty blogs but I don’t read them, except occasionally, except Facegoop which is utterly funny and fantastic and if I don’t read that regularly, it’s because they don’t post regularly.  Bad M! Bad E!  I do flip through other ones every now and then to see the latest and greatest but always get the feeling that they’re testing testers and it’s not a true measure of a product.  What I would love to know is what people repeatedly buy and not because they’re in a rut but because they like the product enough to not buy the current hot new thing.

Here are mine with photographic proof that they get heavy use. Oh!  You need to know about my face.  I’m 40, have dry-ish skin and eyelids that get irritated if I’m not a little careful.  Serious under eye circles but no bags.  I need yellowy foundation and concealer and look better in makeup although I don’t wear tons.

Lipstick Queen in Saint Wine and Saint Nude

These are sheer lipsticks with colour that can be built up a bit – there’s not a ton of pigment.  The feel is absolutely fantastic; they are not drying at all and excellent even on chapped lips. I swear that Saint Wine has magical powers, too; if I’m stressed or feeling out of control, I slap a bit on and am ready to face things.  Saint Wine is a more blue-y red and Saint Nude is, well, nude.  If you know what colour would look good on someone who doesn’t wear a lot of makeup, these are a great gift.  (I have had good luck in this department at least. They are one of the most user friendly lipsticks I’ve ever worn.)

By Terry Touche Eclat and Teint Délectation

I tried Teint Délectation after running out of Chanel Vitalumiere and have not switched since.  It’s the reason I (occasionally) get the “you have such lovely skin” compliment.  Lovely stuff – if you’re looking for a change, try it.  Touche Eclat is the only concealer that doesn’t make my wrinkles look wrinklier or make my eyes flakier.  It has great coverage and simply works.  I’m of the opinion that foundation and concealer shouldn’t be too exciting and these aren’t – they just get on doing what they’re supposed to do.

The only thing about the Teint Délectation bottle is the stupid metal coating on the top.  It’s been flaking off and into the squirt of foundation, so I end up with metal flakes on my face.  I need to stop putting the cap back on, really, but I like putting the cap back on.  Dilemma.

RéVive Moisturizing Renewal Cream

This is like putting acid on your skin. It burns! The pain!  I love it.  I imagine it’s dissolving away old, tired skin so that new, lovely skin can come through.  I have no idea what the bumpf says – let’s see how close I am…

Results include tight, glowing skin. This rich cream exfoliates, retextures uneven skin, improves skin clarity and creates a luminous, firm and youthful complexion. (from Space NK site)

I totally buy it.  Literally and figuratively.

A couple others

I love Philosophy Hope in a Jar – it’s another moisturiser that can burn and has pretty visible results for me.  What else?  Révive Fermitif Neck Renewal Cream.  It works!  I just haven’t bought more – am trying the Chantecaille one – but I probably will.

Most of these – well, all except one – were bought at Space NK.  I shop there, I like it, especially the Bishopsgate store.  If you do go and don’t have one already, get one of their loyalty cards, definitely worth it!

Jan 12

Mind the shopping

I’m not buying anything ever again. No clothes, certainly, no shoes, no socks, no pants (I will mend mine and then go without), no restaurants, no bananas, no food at all (I will scrounge and free – what is that called? Freeload, no.. I will become a freegan but I think I will freeload too, that sounds fun).  No baskets, no drinks, no presents, no water bottles, no water, no food for the dog*.  *We don’t have a dog but if we did, no food for it.

I’ve been reading about people who are doing this.  Albeit in a more reasonable way, buying pants as needed, not starving their pets.  It sounds strangely attractive, doesn’t it?  Very zen.  Step right up and off this treadmill of consumption.  Headspace currently crowded with stuff and things will become free for happy bunnies and unicorns.  More room for a sleeping dormouse or two.

I’m not sure it would work like that for me.  The cute animals would be immediately crowded out with unrelenting angst over every purchase, no matter how necessary (“Do I NEED toilet tissue?  I will use this old catalogue like in the olden days and derive satisfaction that I am not only environmentally sound but also MAKING A STATEMENT”). [ed note: I am giving into the temptation to capitalise more often.  If I start in on the emoticons, run.]

I’m opting out of the opting out.  I like shopping – the wandering around chatting to people, the small shops where the person behind the counter is the owner, the sheer joy of being completely selfish and buying something just because I want it.  Shopping works for me.

However – a big however – I love the idea of scaling back.  My house, my mind, my life are cluttered to the point of being batshit insane.  I can see the appeal of cutting out the crap and I desperately want what people who do it are getting from it.  I’ve been reading Meg Hourihan’s Make it do blog which is calm and reflective and without that franticness that I’ve seen elsewhere, the kind mocked above.  Hers isn’t that; hers is what I want.  But I know myself well enough to know her way – “use it up, wear it out, Make It Do, do without” – isn’t mine.  I’d love to be what she seems.  I’m not.

So I’ll find my own way, somewhere around the shops.


Jan 12

Buy the hype

I believe in magic. Completely and absolutely. I believe in creams that will even out my skin, scrubs that will smooth my orange peel face and serums that will plump the fine lines I have from smiling so damn much. So when I read about a perfume that would make me desirable to every living thing within sniffing range whilst being undetectable, I wanted it desperately, then promptly forgot about it because I have the attention span of a gnat. Years later, a Cult Beauty email arrived at the same time my husband was asking me what I wanted for Christmas. My desire was re-awakened and fulfilled.

Tim Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume provides the sum total of what I know about perfumery. I have read Perfume too, but didn’t like it, so have blanked whatever it had to say on the subject from my mind. I don’t wear perfume often either – I like it, kind of, but it makes me sneeze and I always feel like I have too much on. I want to like it. I love nice smelling things. My bath and shower collection is immense and I could keep warm for years with the scented candles I own.  But perfume eludes me; it seems complicated and easy to get wrong.

The bumpf for  Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules on Cult Beauty is

Product description
Escentric Molecules’ Molecule 01 is created solely from the aroma-chemical Iso E Super, traditionally a perfume basenote that adds allure to a scent, which works as more of an effect than a fragrance. The scent has a subtle, velvety, woody note which will meld with your natural pheromones, vanish, then re-surface after some time, making it totally individual and personalised to the wearer. You will rarely smell this fragrance on yourself, Molecule 01 is more about the effect it has on others.

Why it’s cult
Molecule 01 fragrance from Escentric Molecules smells so good, every man, woman & child in a 5-mile radius will wanna know your secret. Remember the old Impulse ads? This is even better. Developed by rising star of the perfume world Geza Shoen, Molecule 01 smells different on everyone, but amazing on everyone, an expert favourite that gives the unique quality of a bespoke fragrance without having to remortgage.

Doesn’t that sound fabulous?  Doesn’t that sound absolutely perfect?  Magic even?

I will readily admit that I’ve been sucked in by pr and advertising.  I always am; I’m Barnum’s ideal woman. The perfume probably does nothing except smell nice every now and then. And who wants a perfume that doesn’t smell?

I do. I love it. It does vanish and re-surface after some time.  I adore the initial smell, the inconstantness of it and the fact that I forget I have it on until I get a random waft.  It’s not overpowering, I don’t sneeze and I don’t feel like I’m choking passersby.  Reader, I’ve drunk the Kool-aid.

I put to you that it doesn’t matter that the hype is most likely pure bullshit (let’s leave a little room for magic here, please) and that I’m simply paying more for what is merely one component of a normal perfume.  I enjoy wearing it.  I like the ritual of putting on perfume and feel a bit more finished.  I feel slyly sexy when I get a whiff of it, even sitting on a bus having a bad hair day.  It gives me an instant kick of confidence.  I ask you, what else, exactly, is a perfume supposed to do?


Jan 12

I agree completely

What I learned during an emotionally charged, frustrating phone call with the headmistress of my son’s (soon to be former) school:

  • I am more in control when I don’t respond to anything implied, but only to what is explicitly said.
  • Keeping it short works, as does not giving into the temptation to justify or explain.

    I hear you are considering leaving the school.



  • It’s possible to stop someone short by saying “I agree completely” and nothing else.

    This move will be extremely disruptive to your son.

    I agree completely


  • Ranting about a laundry list of minor complaints adds nothing.
  • I don’t have to reply to questions. “I’m not going to answer that” is an answer.
  • There is no point rehashing old arguments; it is frustrating and counterproductive.
  • When I’m more gracious and less horrid, I win.

Jan 12

Say you were me in math class…

Excellent funny videos on plants and math by Vi Hart (I love her website, go visit her website – it’s all math stuff like this, utterly brilliant) – vihart on youtube

Contains added slug cats.