Category Archives: Beauty/Hair

Spotlight On Rivage

My skin is very dry and prone to eczema therefore I am quite fussy and alert when it comes to skincare.  Certain perfumes irritate and some skin creams leave my skin itchy so I really try and stick with face/body products that I know work for me.  I had read an article about the benefits of the mud and minerals of the Dead Sea in Jordan and how it can help alleviate skin complaints such as eczema; so when I was approached by skincare brand Rivage, who use Dead Sea minerals and mud sourced directly from Jordan, to review their products, I jumped at the chance.

Rivage sent me their night cream and eye cream, plus samples of their eye contour gel, facial scrub, hand cream and face masks.  I’m not a fan of face masks so I must admit I haven’t tried them out.  The main thing to report is that I had no adverse reaction to the products  which is a brilliant start.  I was impressed with the packaging of the products – the coral colour is very trendy and they ooze “spa”.  I was extremely impressed with the eye contour gel and the facial exfoliant cream – these are my favourite products.  I am prone to eczema around the eyes, and the gel moisturised the eye area well and left a cooling effect which was really lovely.  The eye cream worked in a similar way to the gel – it is just that I preferred the consistency of the gel rather than the cream version. Both do an excellent job though.  The night cream was slightly “sticky” when first applied but it does quickly absorb into the skin to leave the skin moisturised.  I usually use a heavy hemp based hand cream on my hands twice a day to keep my eczema around my knuckles at bay – I did use the Rivage hand cream, it did leave my hands soft but it is difficult to judge fully as my hands are not sore at the moment and I am not sure how the cream would fare during an eczema flare up.  However, I will say that if your hands are not prone to eczema, this hand cream will keep your hands feeling soft and lovely. So, all in all, I give Rivage the thumbs up. I wanted to know more about Rivage, so dear Bryony agreed to be interviewed! Hi Bryony….

Hi! I’m Bryony. Rivage is a skincare brand that prides itself in its use of all-natural ingredients, including mud, salt and minerals sourced directly from the Dead Sea in Jordan. I am incredibly proud to be a part of the team in the UK!

What was the inspiration behind setting up Rivage?

Rivage began in 1996 when we were inspired by the power and results of the Dead Sea to transform the health of our skin and hair. The Dead Sea is the beginning of natural skin care – a healing and medicinal natural spa that has been celebrated since 3000 BC. Our skincare products are a fusion of the ancient and the modern. The minerals and botanicals that enhance our skincare blends are as old as time, but they are optimised and refined by our laboratories to deliver a remarkable home spa experience. Each product in our range is carefully engineered to work in harmony with your skin’s natural qualities to renew, detoxify and nourish your skin, naturally.

Have you always wanted to be in the skincare industry?

Ever since I was very young, I have always struggled with my skin, from eczema to acne I’ve dealt with problem-prone skin for as long as I can remember so when I was given the brilliant opportunity to be a part of Rivage starting in the UK, I was obviously sceptical of the products but they have proven to be fantastic for my skin and have really helped with my confidence in the products and the company.

What products seem to be most popular with your customers? Have you got a personal favourite?

Our bestsellers definitely seem to be the Bath Crystals, Day and Night Creams and the Mud Masks (particularly the Nourishing Honey Facial Mask). My personal favourites would be the Eye Cream and the Facial Exfoliant Cream as they are both brilliant products that helped with my problem areas in a huge way! 

 

What is so special about the Dead Sea & its minerals?

The Dead Sea is a true wonder of the natural world. As well as being one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, the Dead Sea is located at Earth’s lowest point, 410 meters below sea level. The Dead Sea is so-called because of its hypersaline waters are inhospitable to marine life. In this rare environment, we find mineral-rich salt and mud, hypersaline water, reduced solar radiation and a higher concentration of oxygen. For centuries, the Dead Sea has attracted people looking for relaxation and well-being. The salt, mud and water of the Dead Sea contain 23 minerals, 12 of which do not exist in any other sea in the world. Together these minerals speed up cell metabolism, regulate water balance, relieve and heal skin disorders and stimulate the natural process of repair. Our Ecocert Dead Sea mud offers your skin a unique blend of minerals and compounds. This material, which is world-renowned for its healing and restorative properties, forms the basis of all of our products.

Apart from the Dead Sea Waters & associated minerals, what other natural active ingredients are used & their benefits?

We have many active ingredients in our products apart from mud, salt and minerals from the Dead Sea. Aloe Vera is an ingredient that is included in many of our products as it aids in moisturising as well as its healing properties. It is used in many of our Mud Masks, Skin Correcting Serum, Olive Oil Soap and Facial Moisturizing Cream. Almond is another of our most popular ingredients included in products such as our Body Butter, Foot Cream and Intense Hair Repair Mask. Almond oil is an incredibly effective moisturiser and is effective with nourishing dry skin whilst also aiming to soften your overall complexion and balance your skin tone. A more lesser-known ingredient that we use for its anti-ageing and moisturising properties is the Beech Tree Buds. The Beech Tree can live for up to 250 years, making sense why it is used for slowing down the ageing process. These buds are used in our Eye Cream, Eye Wrinkle Gel and the Revitalising Night Cream. Fruit, such as blueberries, passion fruit, lemon and pineapple, are vital ingredients for ensuring that our products are full of the best vitamins, nutrients and enzymes for the healthiest looking skin possible.

What plans, if any, have you got to extend your range of products? Any new products in the pipeline?

We do actually have plans to extend our product range. We are planning to introduce some products that are available in the retailers in other countries but are not yet in the UK. This includes some more bath products and ‘problem solver’ products so keep an eye out!

All products are proudly environmentally friendly and are not tested on animals. Are the products suitable for all skin types?

Some products are suitable for dry skin and some are suitable for oily or normal skin so it varies depending on certain products but the majority are suitable for all skin types unless stated.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Outside of work, I can be found in a simple t-shirt (nothing too exciting!) and jeans with my favourite Converse, I’m more for comfort than style! If I’m going out, though, I do make an effort and pair a printed dress with black wedges. I like to dress simple and safe!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

New Look and H&M are two of my favourite clothing shops and Amazon just has to be up there at the top for a favourite online store! I just love the amount of random, crazy stuff you can find on there too! The Gift Company is another lovely little store and I adore the things they have in there. Any bookshops too! I’m always open to trying out new stores so if you have any in mind, send them my way!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I would love more tailored clothes and more dresses. An LBD would be a lovely addition to my wardrobe! More heels are a definite and some cute pumps!

Boots or Shoes? 

Shoes! I find that boots are harder to pair with clothes (maybe that’s just me though) but shoes feel more universe with some outfits so I will definitely be found with shoes more than boots!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Rivage.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/rivage_uk
Instagram – www.instagram.com/rivageuk
Facebook – www.facebook.com/RivageUK
Website – www.rivage.co.uk

Thanks for letting me try your awesome products Bryony! It is so nice to discover new products that don’t irritate my skin.  Eye creams, dear readers, do you prefer creams or gels? I’d love to know your views. 

Linda x

DISCLAIMER:  Although Rivage sent me products to review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

All product photos are by Linda Hobden.  Picture of Bryony published with kind permission of Bryony.

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A Hug In A Box

Every now and then we all appreciate a hug – a hug to lift our mood and alleviate stress.  Sometimes a person is around to give that said hug  but if nobody is around when life is stressing you out, occasionally a virtual hug will have to suffice.  That’s when a BuddyBox can step in – it’s a virtual hug in a box – created for ANYONE who could benefit from a boost.  Love to know more?  Well, I wanted to know more so I caught up with Jayne Hardy, founder of Blurt to discover all…. Hi Jayne…

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Hi, I’m Jayne Hardy, Blurt’s Founder. I lost most of my twenties to
depression. At the height of my illness I was unable to work, leave the house or even undertake the most basic acts of self-care. When I founded Blurt in 2011, my chief goal was to prevent others from feeling as isolated as I had done. Having experienced first-hand the powerful connections that could be fostered via social media, I deliberately focused Blurt’s activities online – providing interim support for those struggling with depression and challenging the stigma around mental health. I’m also a Mum to two-year-old Peggy and live in Cornwall.

What inspired you to launch the BuddyBox?

We applied for some grant funding from UnLtd to develop our online shop, as we’ve always wanted to be sustainable long-term. In the initial meeting, our grant manager, Julie, was speaking to us about her daughter’s struggle with mental ill health whilst at university and how Julie would love for there to be some sort of ‘wellbeing’ box that she could send. The idea struck a cord and BuddyBox was born.

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BuddyBox is run by your organisation, Blurt. Can you explain a bit about Blurt and the work that you do?

We’re dedicated to helping those affected by depression. We’ll help you understand depression and what it means for you. We’ll support you, listen to you and introduce you to people who’ve been where you are. We’ll help you break down barriers and broach the subject with those closest to you. We’ll help you help yourself, with a little knowing nod. We think people who’ve experienced it know best, so we’re passionate about peer support – connecting those who have been through depression with those who are currently struggling, to provide reassurance and comfort during a very scary time.

I love your idea of these boxes – packed full of thoughtful, mood lifting treats – “A hug in a box” indeed. I know that the range of products for filling the boxes are a closely guarded secret, but what sort of items do you include?

We aim to provide a ‘self-care’ experience for the recipient and so we include products to nourish, comfort and inspire.

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What subscriptions are available? Are you able to purchase a box as a “one off”?

We have several options available – a monthly subscription, quarterly subscription, 6-monthly subscription and an annual subscription. And of course, the one-off boxes.

Where do you get your ideas from when sourcing and looking for products to fill the boxes? Do you get customers suggesting particular products?

We come up with a box theme in the first instance and then we look for products which fit within that theme but also work together to provide an experience for someone. We’re still relatively new and so we’ve been trying new things and seeking feedback to help us grow and improve.

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Any plans to expand your range of boxes in the future?

We’ve got ideas aplenty but it’s knowing whether they’re good ideas and also whether there’s a need for them. We’re taking our time and working with focus groups before we commit to anything.

As you are based in the UK, are your boxes available to purchase overseas?

Yes, they are indeed! We’ve recently opening up international shipping which was an exciting change and so we now ship worldwide.

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Apart from receiving a BuddyBox, of course, what do you personally do or use that helps you to de-stress/ feel pampered?

I’m an introvert so I’m most recharged when I’ve spent some time on my own – reading a book, having a bath or watching a series of something on Netflix. I also enjoy running and spending time with my family, my daughter is 2 years old and I’m loving seeing the world through her eyes – finding the joy and excitement in simplicity.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I’m pretty much always in a pinafore dress, dungarees and jeans. And on my feet? Flip flops.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own)

I’m a bit of a lazy and unimaginative shopper when it comes to clothes and so I like ASOS because I can find everything all in one place. I also love Preta Portabello and LUSH.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I need some winter boots.

Boots or Shoes?

I don’t really like having anything on my feet which is why I love flip flops but during the winter, I can’t bear feeling cold so I love boots to keep my feet warm – with thick snuggly socks.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about BuddyBox and Blurt.

Website: https://www.blurtitout.org

BuddyBox: https://www.blurtitout.org/BuddyBox

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blurtitout

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/blurtalerts

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theblurtfoundation

A fantastic idea Jayne and thank you so much for introducing your boxes on the blog!  Opening a box of goodies would cheer me up no end … whatever it contained… Skincare, bubble bath, make up, hosiery, lingerie, chocolates, prosecco, books, perfume,  teabags … dear readers, would you appreciate a hug in a box? If you opened a surprise package, what would be inside to put a smile on your face?

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of The Blurt Foundation.

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An Interview With Maison De Marrakech

I’m being inspired by all things Morocco this week as I explore a London-based interior and fashion design online shop specialising in Bohemian lifestyles and Moroccan charm.  Think kaftans, Argan Oil beauty products, leather poufs, gorgeous colour palettes ..the list is endless!  It was with great excitement that I caught up with  Reina Hagen-Cherquaoui, founder of this paradise online shop – Maison De Marrakech.  Hi Reina!

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Please introduce Maison de Marrakech …

Maison de Marrakech is a bohemian lifestyle company. Our motto is to bring that beautiful, peaceful, elegant, yet simple lifestyle of Morocco into the lives of every woman (or man, of course!). I initially started by creating small numbers of kaftans or tunics that I thought would bring exotic-ness and beauty into the everyday lives of women around the world. Marrakech has a uniqueness that enriches your life, and awakens all your senses, and Maison de Marrakech is a place where you can find products that re-creates that beautiful ambience. Therefore, although we are known for our kaftans, our ultimate goal is to introduce the bohemian ‘lifestyle products’ into people’s lives. Also, as most items are handmade, it creates that feeling of directness, and you can feel the history in each product. Each product of ours has a history, not just anonymous.

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What inspired you to set up Maison de Marrakech?

It was definitely love at first sight. I felt my passion and enthusiasm come alive the moment I stepped into the Medina of Marrakech.
Marrakech, to me, was very mysterious, rustic, elegant, simple, rich, colourful, bohemian, deep, new & old, so much diversity and depth. To me, it felt like, “I had found what I was looking for all my life”. Moroccan design/art/crafts, had every element I looked for in beauty, and gave me that peace of harmony & happiness in life. For me, looking at beauty is pleasing to the eyes, and being surrounded, living in that space, creates happiness. It’s exactly this blissful moment, this happiness and richness that I wanted to share with everyone. This is how I started my company. It’s simply to share what brought me happiness, and to visually share this with the world; as well as to help women feel absolutely beautiful and exotic about themselves, to encourage their self esteem, and to bring out their inner beauty.

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As you were born in Japan, what attracted you to Marrakech?

Marrakech gave me every element I was looking for in beauty. Its richness, simplicity, complexity, colours, passion, harmony, and elegance was hard to resist. What’s really surprising is that, Marrakech (or Morocco in general) could have 2 completely different elements, but they blend so well together, eg.  rich, yet simple; passionate yet calming. I loved the Japanese traditional arts, and have seen much beauty around the world, but for me, Moroccan art gave me a feeling of ‘coming home’. This is what attracted me to Marrakech, and still does.

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I love the Turquoise Leather Pouf – it’s gorgeous! What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Our popular items are definitely the ‘one size’ Marrakech Resort Kaftan series, the tan Moroccan poufs, and some more trendy kaftans we are creating such as the ‘zigzag Zahara kaftan’.

Out of all the outfits, accessories, beauty & boho interior products in your collection, do you have any favourites?

I must say, I do agree with my clients, in that my favourite will be the same as my customers: the one size Marrakech kaftans, our new boho style kaftans & the Moroccan leather poufs.

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Your travels around the world have left you with a profound appreciation of arts & culture – this is evident through your love of Marrakech. So, what place is now on the top of your travel bucket list?

I love travelling to places where the ambience is beautiful and peaceful – somewhere you could have gone 100 years ago and would have still been the same as today. For this reason, I’d love to travel to places like: Florence in Italy and Rajasthan in India.

Your shop specialises in promoting Bohemian lifestyles – which famous lady and man would you love to see as the “faces” of Maison de Marrakech?

It would have to be a type of person who has the gorgeous exotic look that could pull off a simple kaftan and make it look absolutely stunning, and also lives a kind of bohemian lifestyle: Kate Moss.

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Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2016, what new items will you be introducing?

AW2016 will be quite exciting for us, as we will be creating new boho-style Moro inspired jackets, and create a new look, where we’ll be creating new tunics, that you can layer with a turtle neck, or with any winter clothing. We will also introduce more of the accessories, bags and Beni Ouirain types of rugs to keep your home nice and cosy for the coming winter season.

As you are based in London (& Morocco), are your products available to purchase overseas?

Yes, we are an online based company. All products could be purchased via online , shipped to anywhere around the world.

When designing outfits to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?

I do incorporate a bit of the trend, customers taste, but I always am loyal to what I believe and use the Moro traditional charm as my base of design.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I used to wear only high heels from Karen Miller, Anne Klein and Jimmy Choo, but now with raising children and juggling work, I tend to wear sandals from Tory Burch (they do have beautiful elegant sandals!)

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

Yes. I love the boho vibe of Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’d love to get one of those gladiator sandals, they look fab and bring a flair of glamour to any outfit but especially with short skirts/shorts. Or a pair of tan boots (with heels ). I would also love a golden bling Jimmy Choo type of party high heels, just to keep myself feeling feminine!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots are always great for a walk in the woods or for picking up kids –  you could wear them anytime, anywhere (except for holiday beaches). You just pop them on, and they’re so practical. So, I love boots!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Maison de Marrakech.

You can find us on :
www.maisondemarrakech.com
www.etsy.com/shop/maisonmarrakech
www.maisonmarrakech.com
www.instagram.com/maisondemarrakech
https://www.facebook.com/Maison-Marrakech-135621059788738/

Thank you Reina for chatting on the blog today and I absolutely adore your products – oh the colours!  I love your travel ideas of going to  places virtually untouched by the modern world…. I visited once a village called Greffeil in  the foothills of the French Pyrenees … some houses still had hay in the basement/ground floor to house their goats overnight, the goat herders still shepherded as they had always done for years … It was like stepping back 100 years.  Have any of you, dear readers, visited places that have remained virtually unchanged? Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Reina Hagen – Cherquaoui / Maison De Marrakech

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An Interview With Crystal Parade

A bit of sparkle and razzmatazz on the blog this week – Crystal Parade  is the UK’s premier partner and supplier of Preciosa Crystals, Swarovski Crystals, and Crystallised Swarovski Elements – as well as supplying fabrics, feathers, fringes, crinolin and motifs for use in the theatre, TV, film, events, fashion, bridal and theming industries, among others.  I caught up with Wendy Miller, the Managing Director, to find out more about her sparkling inspiration and her passion for boots!

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Hi, my name is Wendy C. Miller. I’m an entrepreneur, Director/Producer of Musical Theatre, and Managing Director of Crystal Parade. I enjoy acting, gardening, singing, travelling, and spending time with close friends/family.

Crystal Parade was awarded the Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant accreditation this year. What was the inspiration behind Crystal Parade?

The inspiration behind Crystal Parade was to essentially collaborate with the Creative Arts sector in a closer way. Having a certain amount of knowledge, experience and a great passion for the industry, my desire was to build an online business which could add further value to the marketplace by providing high quality products, specialist advice, innovative ideas and excellent customer service.

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Your main areas of speciality are providing all kinds of Swarovski Crystals, Preciosa Crystals, principal fabric, abstract fabric, fancy fabric, feathers, fringe, crinoline and motifs for use in the theatre, TV, film, events, fashion and theming industries. You’ve recently supplied the products to embellish the outfits for Fleur East, Little Mix & Olly Mur’s dancers on X Factor, for example. How satisfying is it to see the finished costumes on stage that your company have helped to produce?

It is extremely satisfying to work with some of the world’s leading stylists, designers and artistes. We are very passionate about our business, our product range and the services we offer, the whole
team strive to provide excellence at every opportunity. The end result always gives us great pleasure and we are enormously proud of our collaborations.

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You also supply Swarovski Crystals, Crystallised Swarovski Elements and Preciosa Crystals and other such products for use in bridalwear, beauty, costumes, cardmaking, dance, equestrian,
jewellery and nail art. What products are most popular?

At Crystal Parade we have such a comprehensive range of high quality products to choose from, be that crystals, fabrics or trimmings, we find every industry has a different requirement. For instance our smaller sizes of Swarovski flatback crystals are extremely popular with nail artists and beauticians, and the larger sizes are used more for crystallizing dancewear, shoes and theatre costumes. The Crystal Clear and AB (aurora borealis) are easily our most popular colours in both Swarovski and Preciosa however, it depends on seasonal inspirations and of course which pantone colours are on trend. We’re always on hand to offer specialist advice whatever the requirement.

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You recently launched Crystal Parade TV where you showcase your latest ideas and fun projects which people can easily make – what has been your favourite “idea” or “project” which is featured
on the channel?

We have filmed around 10 episodes so far, crystallising different types of desirable objects for the home and garden, all of which are easy to make plus they look fantastic when complete. My favourite is a close call between the Marmite Jar episode & the Winter Lantern video . Both were interesting projects to work on and topical but the Winter Lantern episode features a cheeky cameo appearance by my cat so I would have to choose this purely for the entertainment value!

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What has been the most unusual item/ enquiry requested to be decorated with crystals?

As you can imagine, we receive all sorts of requests, some more interesting than others but one of the most unusual, not to mention humorous, enquiries we received when we first started out was to help crystallise a battery powered adult toy. Unfortunately we were unable to assist on that particular occasion!

Can you tell us about the Crystal Club?

The Crystal Club is an exclusive member’s only community for those who love to add sparkle to their lives and are dedicated to the art and craft of crystallising! Crystal Club members are able to build up ‘Sparkle Points’ every time they purchase from our website and then receive money off as well as receiving up to date information on all competitions, freebies, discounts, giveaways, special offers, downloads, projects, inspirational ideas plus all the latest news & workshop updates.

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As you are based in the UK, do you offer products or services overseas too?

Yes we do, Crystal Parade are recognised in the industry as the source of creative inspiration. Known as the go-to supplier of crystals, fabrics, feathers and trimmings for both consumers and businesses, we regularly work with customers from Europe, Middle East & Africa, America & Australia.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

On the whole I’m a jeans and t-shirt girl. We have a smart casual dress code in the office so I get to wear jeans every day, consequently I have lots of different types,styles and colours. Joe is my favourite brand. I usually team them with a cool pair of boots, shoes or brogues, a nice artistic shirt/top, finished with a funky scarf and nice handbag!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Apart from www.crystalparade.co.uk? 😀 I like Steve Madden for shoes & I love shopping in Waitrose!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I just got some new ankle boots from Moda in London but I need some more Joe Jeans

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Boots or Shoes?

It would have to be boots. I’m a huge fan of boots, plus we are currently working with the award winning musical Kinky Boots in London. We provide the crystals & fabrics for the show. You should see the boots! WOW!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more
about Crystal Parade.

Website – www.crystalparade.co.uk
Crystal Parade TV – https://www.youtube.com/user/CrystalParade
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crystal-Parade/301559506525421
Twitter – https://twitter.com/CrystalParade1
Pinterest – https://uk.pinterest.com/crystalparade1/

It’s always a great pleasure to have a fellow fan of boots on the blog – I do love your fashion sense too, Wendy – you can never have enough boots, shoes or jeans I say! (Plus the odd glamorous dress or two)  I will try to get to see Kinky Boots – if only to witness the boots themselves! And as for the request for a crystallised adult toy…. Ah, dear readers, are you into crystal embellishments? What fashion/footwear item would you love to embellish? Dare I say it, but any other items?   Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Crystal Parade except for the shoe photo.Last photo: Daily Mail 
[http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3357710/Girl-power-Little-Mix-Fleur-East-leggy-display-team-epic-mash-hit-singles-star-X-Factor-final.html ]

Shoe photo credit: Linda Hobden

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An Interview With Bling Art

Talking nails this week…false nails to be exact.  I do love my nail enamels but my nails are very short – not bitten – but short on purpose.  I like to type and use my iPhone using the pads on the top of my fingers and long nails just get in the way.  I’ve tried growing them and I did succeed. I have had the shellac treatment and my nails looked lovely, however I couldn’t use my phone properly, and besides, I prefer the convenience of having short stubby nails that I can paint on a whim.  False nails never crossed my mind. I did try false nails once, in April 1988… they were long, awful looking and a relief when they fell off. So when my guest, Sophia of Bling Art, sent me some of her modern false nails to see if she could change my mind, I wasn’t very confident.  I reasoned that stubby nails don’t look right on an evening out, so I agreed to give them a whirl.  Here is a rather unflattering picture of my hand in its usual state:

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I had 3 evenings out to try the new nails.  The kits themselves are nicely packaged and apart from nails, there’s a file and plenty of glue.  Finding a false nail that corresponds to the width of my own nail, I applied a small blob of glue onto my clean nail and onto the false nail, and pressed them together, holding for a second or two to set.  As easy as that. I was able to file the nails like you would do to give them a natural shape and look – these nails were a “medium” length – long enough to look elegant, short enough to look, dare I say it? ….Natural.  The nail photos are all my own nails. What do you think? So was I converted?  For a special evening out I would definitely consider them.  The nails stayed put – they last around 5 days, and are scratch resistant. No chipped nail polish! 

Let’s welcome onto my blog Sophia ….

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Hi!  I am Sophia Aziz. I am a mother of 2, married 20 years. I have a passion for nails and I am the founder of Bling Art. We are more than simply a seller of false nails, we not only design but manufacture our nails under our brand Bling Art.

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What was the inspiration behind setting up Bling Art?

I have always loved nail art. As a child I would play dress up with friends and I would always know which colours or styles would suit who. Unfortunately, as I aged I realised my hand eye co-ordination was nowhere near as good as I needed to pursue my passion as a full time career. At this time, false nails were only really available at salons, having your nails done was an “experience”, a chance to catch up with friends and unwind. However over the years I noticed not only more and more cheap Chinese imports of false nails being available in markets and on stalls but also exponential growth in the number of nail “booths” opening. The demand for nail art was growing but the selection of false nails, particularly with regard to design and quality were few and far between. There were so many unanswerables e.g. glue safety, staff training and qualifications and to be honest the booths made me feel like cattle, with rows of us sitting and waiting to be “processed”. So I decided, there must be more women like me, who loved nail art but didn’t have the time to maintain nails that would look glamorous with nail varnish and were not prepared to pay budget prices in salon booths. Instead, I took the view I would prefer to do my own nails and if only I could make designs that were not only amazing and appealing but could be perfectly reproduced so women like me could sit at home, enjoy “me” time and not worry about safety and quality, instead focus on adding the nails and recapturing the childhood girly innocence of enjoying the nail art experience.This time with a stunning design and made from superior quality.

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Have you always had a passion for nails?

 YES….always, from as far back as I could remember. I am the little girl who would be doing something to everybody else’s hands during sleepovers.  I wish I could have been a nail technician with the skill to create what I see in my mind. True nail art is spectacular and I believe the artists (yes, I see them as “artists” and not simply nail technicians) are not credited as much as they should be.

Why do you think false nails have come back into fashion?

Personally, I believe it is due to a number of factors:

  •  the number 1 reason I think is the internet coupled with mobile phone photography technology, apps like Instagram, Facebook and social media in general have had a direct impact on what I call “social media friendly products”.
  • Nails are social media friendly, e.g.: post a beautiful set of nails and the chances are people (women) will click more than if you showed a bottle of milk.
  • Nails have benefitted because they do not require a woman to “dress up” for her selfie or be conscious of what else is in the photo. She won’t be judged on her appearance but rather she is complimented / critiqued on the nails she is showing.E.g.: take a few minutes out from a busy day, apply nails in me time, simple to use, easy to follow instructions, quality, consistent and durable product. Take a pic on my phone, share with my friends and hey ho I feel good and off I go J
  • Improved designs and production techniques. The quality of the nails has significantly improved over the last decade. All our nails are made from abs virgin plastic and our products have been subjected to numerous tests and procedures before being classified as safe.
  • Price – The massive growth in booths in towns and cities across the UK and market nail salons has not only driven prices down but by competing at the prices they do, but by dropping prices as aggressively as they have done, they unwittingly bridged pricing gulf that used to exist between false nails and professional salons.

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I particularly like the Bling Art False Nails French Manicure Metallic Light Green. What nails are proving popular so far?

I am glad to know you love our Light Green. I LOVE our gel nails in particular, Athena, Valentina, Fuchsia and Andromeda. If anybody has shied away from false nails and prefers gel nails, then you must try our new ready-made selection. These nails are extremely glossy and to add the extra sparkle we have embedded glitter into the finishing process. This not only brings the nails to life but gives them an ultra-smooth finish. Our most popular nails are Red 4 Danger and Purple for Joy. These nails are gorgeous, it really has to be seen to be believed. My favourite is Our Matte Black Nail, this is the most popular nail globally, it is chic, elegant and I guess black is the universal colour.

I left my nails on until they dropped off naturally, but how best do you remove a nail if you cannot wait for it to drop off naturally?

There are a number of ways to remove the false nails, I prefer to soak them in hot water after 5 days or so and they gently come away. You can use any acetone based cleaner and it will do pretty much the same thing but given the number of other “removers” I have in my life, I am happy with soaking my hands in warm water as it feels good.

Can they be re-used?

Yes, but would I recommend it…NO, the time, energy and effort you expend to clean the old glue off etc. . I think it is more cost effective to purchase and wear a brand new set

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Hypothetically speaking, which famous person would you pick to be the “hands” of Bling Art nails?

I don’t have to do hypothetically, thank god Adele said “hello” after 3 years because if you watched the Brit awards she was wearing the most spectacular stiletto nails! I choose Adele as our perfect role model because she loves nails and is amazing. You listen to Adele because her songs take you places, her voice is unbelievable and everybody recognises it. She does not play up to the unattainable standards the media expects of women. She does not pretend she is super slim and always looks perfect unlike women like the Kardashians portray/ project. Instead Adelle is a talented singer and songwriter and she is respected for this. I  think women like the Kardashians, the wags, the Instagram models and others are unhealthy for the girls of today, ladies of tomorrow. Adele gives girls/women who have not been blessed with today’s version of what beauty is, the confidence to pursue their dreams and see her as living proof that talent is what counts. Our nails, I hope give women that same feeling, a way to express themselves and use medium like social media in a positive woman friendly way. They can simply apply them and if they feel like, take a picture and share (if they wish). No need to add makeup, pout like a goldfish, dress up and worry about everything else a visual selfie might entail.

Where can people buy your nails and do you deliver outside the UK?

Our Nails are available to buy online from our website as well as on Amazon and eBay. We have managed to amass a loyal following globally and in order to improve service standards and particularly delivery times we have our nails in the Amazon depots in US, UK,DE, FR, IT, and ES. Therefore any orders placed in these countries means women can enjoy the same delivery times as our UK customers enjoy. In time we hope to work with strategic partners and make them readily available in retail environments globally.

Any new nail ranges coming out soon?

We have a brand new selection of 25 + Stiletto Nails to our range. It has taken us years to perfect and I am very excited as I know not only have we cracked it on the design and quality but the quality is out of this world. My only worry is getting our pictures to do the nails justice. I think for this collection we will need to show them using hd video.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I wear business attire during the day, smart black pants, white blouse topped off with a coat and boots. I know I should wear comfortable shoes but boots do it for me (and I am the boss) so I wear black suede ankle boots.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I must confess I am lipstick mad and my favourite online store is Mac. I find the site so engaging and the colours on offer are so rich and intense. If I have a busy day I often find myself looking through their offerings and treating myself to the latest colour.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/ bag wish list?

Most probably red boots with a shade of lipstick to match!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots most definitely. I am passionate about beautiful designer boots. Not the sky high heels( I’d break my ankles and neck ) just the ones that at first you don’t notice but when you do you can’t take your eyes off of them. Beautiful boots complement most outfits and if possible I will wear them over shoes any day. They give me confidence, a little more height and are perfect for the British weather.

Links you would like to share:

www.blingart.co.uk

www.artplus.uk

Thank you for persuading me to give false nails a try Sophia!  Dear readers, look out for the new nail styles coming out later this month – stiletto nails no less! Have you any nail tales to tell?  Have you tried false nails or are you a proud owner of natural long nails? Do tell!

Linda x

Photo Credits:  Nail pics – Linda Hobden

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An Interview With Hair Development

Talking hair this week with Hair Development, a company founded in 1962, who are not only celeb hair extension specialists but they also specialise in hair loss methods and procedures.  From making bespoke hair extensions for films & TV – including projects such as Strictly Come Dancing, Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord Of The Rings – to supplying over 45 different hair colour extensions in such vivid colours as Peacock Blue and Cerise – there is not much this company doesn’t know about hair! I caught up with Janis, daughter of Stan Levy, the founder, to learn more about the ins and outs of hair!

Hi! I’m Janis Levy MTTS, Creative Director at Hair Development

In 1962, Hair Development was founded. What was the reasoning behind setting up the company?

My father, Stan Levy MTTS , CEO of Hair Development, founded the company in 1962 after training and working as a hairdresser in Knightsbridge and Paris. He is known as the UK’s Guru of Hair Replacement and highly respected and loved in the industry.

Hair Development can create bespoke solutions for all clients suffering from hair loss, from laser re-growth therapy to state-of-the-art non-surgical procedures. What are main causes of traction alopecia? What is the most popular treatment?

Traction Alopecia can be caused by many reasons including: Pulling of the hair into buns that are too tight; Continuously curling hair tightly around rollers against the scalp. Trichotillomania , the compulsion to wind hair around the fingers and pull it out. Over bleaching and brushing too vigorously. Continuously using hair relaxer, pulling it too much can cause the hair to weaken and break.

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Another string to Hair Development’s bow is specialising in 100% human hair extensions and can offer over 45 colours to salons, stylists and the public. Latest colours include Peacock Blue, Orangeade, Cerise Pink & Purple People. Which colours were most popular this season? 

Winter brought festive shades, fiery reds through to warm chestnuts and honey blondes, warmth from hilites and hues to remind us of the taste and colours of the season, cinnamon, chestnut and clove.

Your company has made bespoke hair extensions for TV & film projects, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, 42nd Street, Spitting Image and Strictly Come Dancing. How exciting is it to see your creations on the screen? Any projects for 2016 planned?

The Hair Development research and design team work to ensure that this industry is constantly improving, finding new and innovative ways to create only the very best for our clients. We recently supplied hair that was 100 metres long for an artist’s incredible installation. 2016 will show the launch of more exciting products in our ever developing range. We look forward to a brand new product in the Spring. And we love seeing HD Hair adorning people on the stage, screen, theatre and High Street.

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Have you got any tips for readers who may wish to get extensions yet keep a healthy scalp?

The most important thing is to use a company who are ethical and trustworthy. This is a specialised industry so it is vital to place yourself in the hands of someone with knowledge, expertise and who comes highly recommended. Hair Development are proud to be the only Extensions Company in the UK recommended by the highly prestigious Trichological Society. HD’s aftercare is also second to none. Our team are always here to advise and help you.

For stylists, you offer training in all methods of hair applications. What is the most popular training course offered?

Our HD Training Academy offers courses in every method of Hair Replacement and Hair Extensions. One of the most popular courses currently is M-Fold, an incredible method that uses no heat, no glue, no chemical and no damage to the hair. Students will be awarded with a certificate after completion of training.

Have you any plans to add to your repertoire in the future, for example, new treatments, shampoo range etc?

HD is developing a new range of products as we speak! These products will be free of anything artificial, yet have a natural gender-free fragrance. Our new laser therapy is proving to be extremely popular too. It stimulates blood circulation to stimulate hair growth and strengthen each individual hair follicle.

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You are based in London – are your services/products available for international customers?

Yes, Hair Development ship worldwide daily.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Paige or AG jeans with Uniqlo or American Vintage Tees! I will only climb onto heels and platforms if necessary.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Love BooHoo & Amazon online. Fortnum & Mason and John Lewis on the street. I’m also backing the #supportyourlocalshops campaign.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Anything shiny by LV! Fresh, soft cotton, well-cut T-Shirts are always a must. I think it stems back to my modelling days, when we were always told to wear jeans and plain T’s for casting and auditions! I remember wearing my favourite baby blue T-Shirt when I auditioned for the Flake ad!

Boots or Shoes?

Adidas Superstars. Walk everywhere! But I bought orange DM’s when my daughter was buying shoes (just because …!)

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Hair Development.

www.hair-development.com

@hairdev

Hairdevelopment1 (Instagram)

Extensionshairdevelopment (Instagram)

www.facebook.com/instagram

Thank you Janis for telling us all about hair extensions – when applied properly they do look fantastic- and I love the variety of colours available! Dear readers, do you have hair extensions? Would you have them? Would you be daring enough to try a bright colour ? Do tell!

Linda x

Photos:  Extension photo supplied with kind permission from Hair Development.  Models pictures supplied by Pixabay.

 

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An Interview With Fashion Blogger Ivy Ekong

Based in both London and Nigeria, Ivy Ekong is a wardrobe consultant and independent fashion blogger, whose fashion website offers instant exposure into the escalating African market.  She is well known on her blog for combining luxury items with pieces from up-and-coming designer collections, high street outlets and vintage finds; and she has also launched her own jewellery line too.  I caught up with bubbly Ivy to find out more…. Hi Ivy!

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Hi! My name is Ivy Ekong. I am a wife and a mum of 2 gorgeous girls. I am also a Fashion Stylist and a Fashion Blogger. I attended Ambrose Alli University in Nigeria where I graduated with two degrees in Business Management and Economics respectively. I also trained in Personal Styling & Image Consultancy through the well known Colour Me Beautiful Academy in London. I draw upon my knowledge and experience as a high fashion model and a stylist to bring my blog (IvyEkongFashion.com) to life. I have always had a passion for fashion, and  I now share my professional insight on my blog – I document my colourful fashion sense and OOTD’s , including high street wonders, up and coming designer collections and vintage finds. Ivy Ekong Fashion is not your ordinary fashion blog. It’s a multicultural online community. I am a very fun and loving person. I love taking on projects that are challenging. I also hope to the make my mark in the fashion industry in the long run.

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You founded your own exclusive personal styling and image consultancy company, Icon Mode. What was the inspiration for setting up the company?

I have always known what I wanted to do and be in life, even at a tender age. I had a dream and I am currently living that dream. “IconMode,” which means “Fashion Icon,” is a business name I picked out when I was just 13 years old. I wrote down the name in my diary and said that one day that name will be a household name. I will change people’s lives and careers through effective personal styling. I also worked in the banking sector for some time, not because I loved working in a bank, but because it was part of the preparation process to get me to my vision. The world is evolving everyday. Men and women are more conscious of what they wear now and
are more interested in knowing and learning more about colours, styles that suit them, etc. Celebrities also want to be branded by their personal style. These were all part of what inspired me to set up IconMode.

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IconMode offers a range of services – luxury personal styling range of services – luxury personal styling, personal shopping, fashion styling – as well as workshops offering courses such as Make Up and “Body Language & Influencing Skills”. What services and courses are most popular?

The most popular services are the Full Image Consultation, and the How to Style workshop.

Your IconMode shop sells your range of costume jewellery, Hair Extensions, Pre Owned Fashion Items and “Colour Me Beautiful” cosmetics. I love the IconMode Costume Necklace “Genevieve” –
Which products are most popular this season?

Thank you Linda, “Genevieve” sold out quite quickly, it a very lovely piece. What we sell on IconMode shop are products women have daily need for. If you noticed we do not have bulk items. So once a particular product sells out on the site, they are not restocked. The cosmetics and hair extensions are also very popular this season.

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Any project or new shop lines/services for 2016 planned?

I am focussing on my blog in 2016. IconMode has been my baby for so many years  now but it has now evolved to something bigger and better which is IvyEkongFashion.  My blog has a huge social media following and subscription which makes me believe this is the right direction to go. I am working tirelessly now to make the blog a huge success. I am hoping to work with more brands as well. 

You are one of the most successful black fashion/beauty bloggers in the UK, with your iconic style of combining luxury items with up-and-coming designer collections, high street pieces and vintage finds. What do you like most about blogging and how did you become a blogger?

I love dressing up and posing for the camera, which is very important in fashion blogging, especially if you want your content to be original, which I do. I love being an inspiration to other women who are still trying to determine what their personal style is. I didn’t start blogging until 2 years ago when a lot of people encouraged me to start a blog because they love my style. As a fashion stylist, I am privileged to get invited to fashion events and shows which you have to dress up for. It was only natural to create an avenue to showcase those outfits so that people who love my style can shop those outfits by creating direct links on my blog. Over the years, the blog has grown from being just an avenue for showcasing my outfits to being a huge platform for the multicultural community. We have YouTube videos now too, where we discuss topics that are very important to women, such as self-esteem, confidence etc.

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Have you always had a passion for fashion and beauty? If you weren’t in the fashion/beauty business, what career do you think you would’ve pursued?

I have been in the fashion industry since I can remember. I have always loved fashion and living a healthy and luxury lifestyle. Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Beyonce, Grace Kelly, and Diana  Ross were all fashion icons I looked up to,even at an early age. At the age of 8 I had my own unique style. My mum would always say that I was the “Fashion Icon” in the family. When I was younger, I used to style my friends, family and close relatives. They would seek my opinion before they put on or buy any outfit, and I would say wear this with that, don’t wear that, etc. I don’t know what other career path I would have chosen if I wasn’t in the fashion and beauty industry. I believe I was born to do this.

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Have you a favourite style icon, past or present?

Beyonce Knowles and Victoria Beckham.

I like dresses from the 1950s; tunic dresses of the 1960s; the hippy styles of the 1970s; the colours of the 1980s… what decade of fashion are you drawn towards? Which popular styles of any decade didn’t/don’t float your boat?

I am  City-Chic with a bit of Classic. I love both vintage and current styles.  I am not such a great fan of the hippy styles though.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I would normally be found wearing a skirt (pencil skirts or big bonded skirts) with a bodysuit, a pair of Louboutin pumps and a Chanel Classic Bag. Or a pencil dress. You will hardly find me in a pair of jeans unless I am running errands or picking my kids up from school.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I don’t have a favourite boutique – as a blogger I am always on the go and I shop wherever I find something that is of interest to me. I love both designer and  high street brands. I do shop at Westfield or at Selfridges when I am out and about. My favourite online stores are ASOS, Net-a-Porter, Houseofcb and Very.co.uk.

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What are some of your current fashion obsessions?

– Vintage Chanel bags and accessories . A must have for every closet . They are timeless and will never go out of style.
– Chunky jewellery . I loved jewellery so much that I designed a jewellery line.
– Black trench coats are very handy and are very stylish as well.
– Jimmy Choo and Louboutin heels are definitely an obsession. Once you have a pair of these you will definitely want more pairs. They enhance a woman’s legs perfectly.
–  I am also obsessed with the two piece outfits popularly called the co-ords.

Boots or Shoes?

I choose shoes over boots anytime, any day. That’s because boots are seasonal and cannot be worn with some outfits. Shoes, however, can be worn during any season and are more versatile.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your blog.

TWITTER: https://mobile.twitter.com/account
INSTAGRAM: http://instagram.com/ivy_ekong
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/ivyekongfashion?ref=hl
EMAIL: ivyekongfashion@gmail.com
BLOG: http://ivyekongfashion.com

It has been great talking to you Ivy! I love to mix and match outfits too – I have worn an Alice Temperley designer dress with some vintage wedge sandals; and I like to revamp and update my old outfits with new season shoes and accessories.  Do you, dear readers, like to update old outfits, mix & match or do you enjoy finding bargains in charity shops? Do tell !

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Ivy Ekong.

 

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A Christmas Message

 

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This year, the 25th December falls on a Friday and so this week’s blogpost is more of a Christmas message wishing all my readers around the world a Happy and Peaceful day!

Looking back over 2015,  here are my fun awards:

My Favourite Colour of The Year:  Navy has predominated my wardrobe  all year round!

My Favourite Clothing of The Year:  My silver grey cotton waterfall cardigan from La Redoute –  looks fab worn with my navy dresses.

My Favourite Shop of the Year – Online:  I’ve been impressed with BooHoo lately for both male & female clothing.

My Favourite Shop Of The Year:  Sainsburys Superstore at Weymouth, Dorset –  loved the shop layout in the clothing section and their summer sale was excellent.

My Favourite Boutique Of The Year:  Jeffrey West Store in London.

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My Favourite Shoe of The Year:  Red canvas pumps from Next and my black lace ballerinas – a snip at £5 from Everything £5 website.

My Favourite Skincare Products:  This year I couldn’t live without the English Rose Cosmetics Eye Cream,  Garnier Moisture Protect Moisturiser, W7 Clear primer and Leichner Hint of Beige Foundation.

My Favourite Make Up Products:  Arbonne Black Mascara; my eyeshadow brushes.

My Favourite Discovery:  Jeffrey West now do ladies cowboy boots – not ordinary ones – these are truly exquisite!

Thank you all for reading my blog posts this year – your support has been fabulous!  I have a great jam packed year of interesting interviews waiting for you in 2016.   Looking forward to meeting with you all on Friday 1st January 2016 – I’m chatting to Shaman John Norseman – so please join us!

Linda x

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An Interview With English Rose Cosmetics

I love to wax lyrical about a product or company that I’ve discovered that has made a big and lasting impression on me – it’s even better when the company agrees to an interview! I first came across the English Rose Cosmetics last year – my skin is extremely dry and prone to itchy eczema occasionally around my eyes during my hay fever season ( Feb – June  – tree pollen) – and I spotted a post on Facebook about English Rose Cosmetics night cream.   Luckily enough Karin was looking for people to review the product, I applied and got my chance to try this cream. Thus started my love affair. So here’s a quick review on the Night Cream along with two other products I’ve used over the last few months:

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Nighty Night Cream –  on the tin it says it plumps out wrinkles, reduces age spots, controls oiliness & improves skin texture.  I am used to putting on thick cream in an effort to combat the dryness/eczema.  In contrast, this cream is light and very lightly fragranced – it soaks into the skin well, without leaving a sticky residue nor does it tighten the skin.  It feels refreshing and soothing on the face.  It has hydrated my skin and has improved my skin texture – as for the wrinkles, well, they do seem to have been smoothed away.  9/10

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Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed Eye Cream –  I had noticed dark bags appearing under my eyes over the last 6 months or so, despite wearing make up to try and camouflage the effects.  Combine that with my itchy eczema, I was at the end of my tether as to what to do.  However, once I tried the night cream I decided to purchase the eye cream (it says it reduces dark circles, bags  & puffy eyes whilst plumping out fine wrinkles). Dabbing the light cream around my eyes twice a day for the last 2 months I have found that my dark bags under my eyes are not as pronounced – in fact they’re barely noticeable; the skin around my eye area is smooth and virtually line free, no hint of dryness; and best of all, no sore eczema patches on my eyelids! Very pleased! 10/10

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Fair of Face Facial Cleanser –  I’ve only recently tried this cleanser.  It is said to combat oiliness, soothe acne and inflammation without drying the skin.  As my skin is dry, oiliness and acne has never been an  issue.  The cleanser is a light foam, which exudes a pleasant ginger  aroma which is very refreshing and uplifting. A little goes a long way, and leaving it on your face for a few minutes before rinsing off, really wakens up your skin. It certainly made my face feel clean, no itching and no dryness. A fab base before applying moisturiser, foundation and make up.  My face felt so clean that I bypassed the toner stage altogether. 8/10

Without further ado let’s meet Karin, the lovely lady behind English Rose Cosmetics… hi Karin, welcome…image

Hi! I am Karin Mckay, and have worked 17 years in the cosmetic industry. I’m based in Reading and I do pretty much components, packaging, designing the packaging, the social media, sales and marketing.

What was the inspiration behind setting up English Rose Cosmetics?

It literally started out of nothing. My sales & marketing career had ended as due to neck and back injuries in 2009, I’ve had 2 back operations and several neck injections. So I really could only work 3 days a week, without commuting and needed adjustments made in the work place, so that basically made me unemployable. I had been out of work during 2012 and was getting more and more despondent as to what I could do with my life. So when I had the inspiration for the English Rose character, I drew on all my knowledge on ingredients, formulating, manufacturing of cosmetics and contacts in the industry and started working on my own products.

Have you always wanted to be in the makeup /skincare/ beauty industry?

The trends and innovation start with the cosmetic manufacturers, they train their agents around the world and then people like me would present the new ingredients/trends to cosmetic scientists and marketing personnel at the brands. We would make really fabulous example formulations to demonstrate new ingredients. Sometimes the marketing department didn’t “get” the science and sometimes the Cosmetic Scientist were on a tight budget or were under pressure to use existing approved ingredients. Really amazing ingredients never made it through, as brands continued on with the same old formulations and boring ingredients because they didn’t want to be innovators. So all this time I was thinking about the “perfect” skincare and what it should contain.

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What products seem to be most popular with your customers?

Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed eye cream is the biggest seller, as there are not many eye creams that tick all the boxes with under eye problems and customers are really seeing results, some instantly but the majority after a couple of weeks. Customers with more prominent eye bags really notice it’s working when they run and their problems become more noticeable. A lot of people try the concealer route with under eye problems, and this is fine up until the point when eye bags develop. I cannot stress the importance enough of using this eye cream to clear up dark circles and puffy eyes quickly, as in addition, you are putting back elasticity into the under eye area, which will help prevent bags in the future. For customers aged 38+ ideally you should be using this eye cream daily, as our skin loses elasticity and this can lead to under eye bags. The second best seller is Nighty Night Cream – I probably have more customers for Daily Defence Cream, but the ladies that use Nighty Night Cream usually buy 3 at a time online. This can be used day or night and I highly recommend starting at the décolletage and sweeping up the neck to the face. Mature skin needs more moisture and it needs actives that stimulate the cells in the dermis to improved firmness and elasticity and this cream really delivers in that area. I usually recommend to customers to try it on their neck and then feel that area where they applied an hour later. What they notice instantly is how quickly it sinks into their neck; any cream that sinks in quickly is a good indication at how compatible with your skins own oils it is, and how desperately your skin needed a ”drink”. Feeling the area where the cream was applied an hour later, gives a good indication on the ongoing benefits which high quality ingredients deliver.

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I love the Nighty Night Cream – it smells fresh and makes my skin feel delightfully soft. What’s your personal favourite skincare item from your range?

Well, I do love them all and when I create them I think about how to make it the most perfect product in its category and use innovative ingredients with strong evidence behind them. My 48 year old face is a really good advert for my products. If I had to choose only one, I would have to say Fair of Face is very unique and I’m really impressed with every aspect of it. I rarely wear mascara, eye shadow, foundation or powder so I didn’t need an oil based cleanser, but I like to use a good product on my face in the shower as I’m a lazy cleanser. I used to get cyst like spots on my chin every couple of months that would last for about 7 days. Since using Fair of Face I have not had any spots, despite occasionally forgetting to remove make up. Also when I’ve washed with it in the morning and spritzed with Rose Kiss floral water, I have sometimes forgotten to put on moisturiser because my skin does not feel dry. Every other cleanser has left my skin feeling dry, but not this one. I have also put it to the test and used a makeup remover after Fair of Face to check that it’s removing grime thoroughly and it is. I have got into a routine of turning on the shower, applying Fair of Face and then rinsing it off in the shower, as that bit of contact time on the skin allows the plant actives to work.

In a nutshell, what ingredients have you used to make the Nighty Night Cream so effective at plumping out those wrinkles and softening my skin?

Bidens Pilosa (Revinage) is the hero ingredient in Nighty Night Cream. When I developed the night cream I knew I wanted to work in the dermis to boost collagen and elastin production (Extra cellular matrix), and that Retinol/Vitamin A was a good benchmark with proven deep wrinkle reduction. So when I came across a plant with retinoid properties that had strong evidence behind it, I was very interested. The problem with Retinol is it can cause irritancy, so it’s used at very low levels, or customers need to get a prescription to get a higher level and hope they don’t get a reaction. Bidens Pilosa doesn’t cause this type of reaction, which means it can be used at a higher level and therefore be more effective. In addition to plumping out wrinkles its’ been clinically proven to inhibit melanin cells that form age spots. Hyaluronic acid is also in Nighty Night Cream and this is something that’s present in our skin and its function is to hold water, which makes it good at plumping out wrinkels too. There are also a lot of plant oils; rosehip, shea, linseed, cottonseed, evening primrose oil, wheat germ oil etc. and they will provide essential fatty acids to the cellular wall in the epidermis, keeping that functioning optimally, healthy, moisturised and supple. The skin is the biggest organ in our bodies and its important to work with it and give it what it needs to keep it balanced and functioning optimally and this is t he theory which underpins English Rose Cosmetic products.

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What plans, if any, have you got to extend your range of products? Any new products in the pipeline?

If the funds were there I would bring out 7 new products a year, as I really love researching and developing the best possible product. But it takes investment and faster turnover of existing products.

There are three formulations that are ready and they are:
1. Mermaids Cleansing water – a micelle water to remove make up with a seaweed active that calms inflamed skin
2. Moisturising lip gloss in 3 amazing shades, this feels like a molten lipstick and the base makes the colours look vibrant
3. Facial oil with trio of Omega oils and some collagen firming properties – I’m undecided about whether to add a fragrance or not.

These are ideas as I haven’t got the formulation right yet:

1. Land Girls Face Mask with honey, oat and apple                          

 2. Powder Cleanser/Mask – that forms an interesting texture when mixed with water and has potent Vitamin C and fruit acids.

English Rose Cosmetics has been approved by PETA and is licensed to carry their logo. How important was it for the company to get this approval?

As animal testing on finished cosmetics was banned in the UK back in the 90’s, it was misleading to put on packaging “Not animal tested” as a UK or EU company would be breaking the law, and it inferred that other UK cosmetic companies were. The key thing is and always has been the ingredients selected, some products that have been in use for decades would have been tested decades ago, but the majority of EU and US suppliers do not test new ingredients on animals, which is why I prefer to source from them, so I can get declarations at the development stage. In recent years a lot of brands entered the Chinese market and the government there requires finished products to be tested on animals. I believe this will change as the Chinese industry catches up with EU testing techniques which have been adapted to deliver good results without using animals. However A LOT of brands have lost their PETA and BUAV status because of this. I like PETA as they don’t just focus on cosmetics, they focus on animal welfare in all areas, and it’s thanks to their newsletter that I made the decision to stop eating meat (I do have the occasional lapse) as I didn’t feel comfortable about the industrial farming of animals for human consumptions. I don’t judge meat eaters, as I acknowledge that some people love the taste of meat, I never really liked meat so it was easy for me to stop, but I do think it would be wonderful all round if everyone reduced their meat intake.

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I love the names you give to your products – e.g. the Fair of Face Gentle Foaming Cleanser. Where does the inspiration come from when naming your products?

I try and stay true to British phrases that we all know and have a nostalgic feeling towards and try to make it relevant to the product. Example:-
Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed eye cream – gives us the impression of looking fresh and wide awake, exactly what one wants from an eye cream, but I make no guarantees on the Bushy Tail!
Lay Back and Think of England is a cheeky reference to the aphrodisiac properties of rose fragrance.
Rose Kiss Spritz – spraying pure Rosa damascene floral water on the face is like a kiss from a rose, with fresh rain drops on it.
Cocoa Ration Body butter references rationing during WW2 and contains cocoa butter as well as shea and avocado.
Daily Defence Moisturiser – I didn’t manage to come up with an old fashioned name, so I focused on the benefits of the day cream which are: protect against urban pollution and free radical damage.
Nighty Night Cream – most of us remember being told as children, Nighty Night sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!
Fair of Face – this comes from the Monday’s Child Poem, and as the Soap tree bark is very effective in regulating oiliness and clearing up spots, without drying the skin, thus users will have a clear, unblemished face.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Pretty much all of my jumpers seems to have glitter going through them! Everything I wear is well fitted and has some interesting detail to it. I like tailored suits and feminine tops. Because of back problems I mainly wear flat shoes now, brogues, loafers and patent leather or animal print flats. I also quite like a bit of camo and military looking jackets and have the most amazing camo handbag in the shape of a dog, even the zips look like dogs bones. It’s very unique but doesn’t really go with anything.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Online I like Campbell Crafts, I really admire Lindsay’s style, and she has a really good collection of vintage reproduction that is very wearable. On the High Street I like TK Maxx as you can really pick up something a bit different but affordable. Unfortunately I don’t have the finances to spend much money on clothes, so I often check out charity shops and Vintage Events for something wearable and Made in UK.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

The Edith dogtooth wiggle dress from Collectif! I ordered online before Christmas but it was too big, so I’m waiting for my size to come in! I’m always on the look-out for new outfits at Vintage Fairs, I have a love of Made in UK – good quality clothes in tartan, tweed, Prince of Wales, Herringbone, Dogtooth, and of course I would love to find a beautiful Dior Couture outfit from the 50’s, the epitome of feminine elegance.

Boots or Shoes?

Unfortunately I have large calves so battle to find knee high boots that fit, so for me it’s shoes. My favourite pair of shoes is a turquoise/gold Irregular Choice with swans and a Perspex heel. The first time I wore them was to a wedding and I was tasked with looking after the camera to take photos, but apparently when my friends looked at their photos they were mainly of my shoes!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/Facebook/twitter etc. so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your products

http://English-rose-cosmetics.jimdo.com
https://www.facebook.com/english.rose.cosmetics
https://twitter.com/1940EnglishRose
http://beautyinsiderreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

STOP PRESS…. English Rose Cosmetics will be at the RHS London Rose Show 2015 at the RHS Horticultural Halls 29 – 30 May 2015.  Do go & say “Hello” if you are there!  As usual, let me know if you’ve fallen in love too with English Rose Cosmetics – what products tickled your fancy?

Linda x

Photo Credits: Linda Hobden; English Rose Cosmetics

 

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Spotlight on East Shopping Centre

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Saturday 14th March 2015 sees the grand opening of not only London’s latest shopping centre but it is Europe’s first purpose-built boutique Asian shopping centre, East Shopping Centre, based in Green Street, London E7 – not far from West Ham’s football ground and Newham’s other recently built shopping centre, Westfield Stratford. Following its successful soft launch on January 24th 2015, East Shopping Centre has generated around 200 jobs for the local area as well as injecting much needed enthusiasm for shopping locally. Built on the one acre site of the former bus depot, the centre has retained its original facade but has incorporated the latest eco friendly touches such as solar panels, water flow restrictors, and carefully resourced building materials – protecting resources and saving money too. Green Street has always had an important trade and cultural heritage – my own mother bought her wedding dress from a Green Street dressmaker back in 1962 – and East Shopping Centre hope to build upon and become part of that heritage too.

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So, what’s inside the shopping centre? Major Asian fashion outlets are represented including Zarkan of London, Andaaz Fashion, Memsaab, Imaani London…plus other non fashion companies including Urban Chocolatier and Coffee Republic too. There is a “souk” comprising of smaller, local stores selling everything from costume jewellery to mobile phones – menswear, shoes, bags…

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Overlooking the shopping centre is a spectacular food court where you’ll find food delights such as Piri Piri Chicken from the Roosters chain, desserts and mocktails galore from Lost Asia, American-style burgers from Brioche Burgers… getting hungry?

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Being indoors, the centre is ideal as an all year round shopping venue and with its late night closing time, your shopping pleasure is not hurried.

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So, as I was saying, Saturday 14th March is the official opening day and from 12pm West Ham MP Lyn Brown will be cutting the ribbon. There will be lots going on – the centre will be creating a mela atmosphere with music, dhol players, face painting and much more. East Shopping Centre is also offering raffle tickets giving one lucky winner the chance to win a luxury weekend holiday for two in Dubai, £1000 gift voucher to spend at East Shopping Centre and two iPad Mini 3’s. The first 100 people to arrive on Saturday will receive vouchers to the food court worth £10. All proceeds raised from the raffle will be donated to Masoom, a locally based charity that supports vulnerable women and children around the world.

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East Shopping Centre can be found at 232-236 Green Street, London E7 8LE.

For more information, you can follow East Shopping Centre via their website – www.eastshoppingcentre.com – or via Twitter @EastShopping; Facebook: East Shopping Centre; Instagram: EastShopping

Hope to see you all there! Happy Shopping!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Puja Vedi

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