Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Quash Your Hands

As a Professional Make-up Artist I need to ensure my hands are squeaky clean and bacteria free before I even go near to anyone's face. I have tried loads of the germ busting products on the market but none as good as the one I am about to reveal.  I honestly find most of them really drying, very chemically and awkward to use (most are sloppy gel formulations - not nice)

The one I love is QUASH.  It is 100% natural and alcohol free - have a read of the Quash claims:

Key Claims:

  • Kills 99.9% of harmful germs > lab proven
  • Alcohol free > leaves skin soft & moisturised NOT dry or cracked
  • Safe for kids > uniquely formulated to be gentle on skin. Endorsed by the Skin Health Alliance.
  • Contains vitamins & minerals including manuka honey & aloe vera > to nourish your skin
  • Made in the United Kingdom
Our Hand Sanitiser Spray is ONLY made from 100% natural ingredients > free from chemicals 

This is a big shout out to anyone in the beauty, make-up, hair, salon fact any industry - this product is safe, cheap (£2.99 for 50ml) and ruddy BRILLIANT. 


Simone France - It's All About The Way You Clean Your Skin

Simone France skincare claims that great skin is all about the way you clean your skin. As my face has been so shockingly bad over the last year, I am about to put this to the test with my bespoke skincare routine package that was sent all the way from the US. Excited = yes!! I want the skin I had in my 20's again so let's see if Simone France can help me to achieve that.

A little in-sight into my face; my skin used to be flawless and spot free but since I had my little girl 18 months ago it has taken a huge turn for the worse and I suffer from those hurty / boily spots (I am sure some of you know them) on my chin area that are painful and... monthly - need I say more. It is generally dry, i.e. if I cleanse my skin and don't moisturise quickly, I feel like someone has stretched cling film really tightly across my face and left it there. 

Onto my first correspondence with Simone France. Firstly, I was sent a link to the Simone France Skin Care Analysis questionnaire which I promptly filled in truthfully and in a detailed manner so that Simone France could assess and therefore prescribe my skincare regimen. After a couple of days I received a VERY thorough response to my analysis describing that there are four main reasons why my skin is not as beautiful as it could be, in short they are as follows:

1. You are using a drying form of cleanser and not getting your skin optimally clean
2.  You are using foundation
3.  Lack of daily deep pore cleansing
4.  Drying up breakouts

(I just have to say that the email I received was so incredibly detailed AND personal, an approach which I immediately found amazing and have come to love - not many companies offer the service that Simone France does - I will come to that later)

Without going into too much detail of my own skin and skincare issues I just want to summarise what the four points above mean.  

1. You are using a drying form of cleanser and not getting your skin optimally cleanI was using a few different liquid and rinse-off cleansers which I thought I loved, but Simone France says they dry the skin and leave behind a thin film of product which can irritate and 'liquid cleansers are not good at removing oil, impurities or make up.  You need something with a bit of oil in it to dissolve these daily deposits.  Think about it - if you put your lipstick on and then drink water, the lipstick stays put.  But eat a few French Fries and it's gone!' (wise words from Penny Kjellberg).

2. You are using foundation - I almost shuddered when I read this! A Make-up Artist who doesn't wear make-up!!! In all honesty as a Mother and Make-up Artist I rarely wear foundation whilst at home when I am doing my day-to-day Mummy things, but I do wear it at work, I do test it out, I do use it to hide my spots, I do use it to feel glam and made up. So yes, I do use it, probably a bit more than I think I do. My assessment revealed that when I wear foundation and powder and use my typical 'drying' cleansers to remove it, it won't be coming off. With the method I've been using I was told 'Your skin is never clean with these products on them and over time the pigment builds up in your pores and causes uneven skin tone' - reading this made me think, really think. 

3. Lack of daily deep pore cleansing - Ok, I put my hands up, I don't deep clean my skin very often (I do my house and my clothes regularly, so why don't I do my skin?? hmmm) and Simone France believe that the use of mild exfoliation and deep pore cleansing is the key to beautiful skin. Sounds a bit daft but I have never really understood how to deep pore cleanse, how, if your pores are clogged and congested, do you get it out??? I guess the proof will be in the pudding, as they say! Simone France advised me that 'Once you start removing the dry skin that's building up and preventing further build up, and once you really get in there every day and clean out your pores from the powder and the daily accumulation of impurities you will very quickly see smaller pores, a velvety texture, improved tone and firmness, and a bright, glowing complexion'

4.  Drying up breakouts - YES, I am guilty as charged (according to SF) I have used all the bad things to try to zap my horrible chin spots, but have had little success. I was using a number of very drying spot lotions, oils and creams on the affected areas (the potions will remain nameless) but in actual fact they were making the problem a whole lot worse.  Whilst temporarily zapping the horrible spot, they were drying out my face and fooling my skin into thinking it needed to produce more oil... in fact I am going to hand you over to the description in my skincare analysis results.... 'Here’s why:  When you dry out your skin,, your body senses the dryness and its natural response is to try to fix the problem.  It does this by producing more oil.  You respond by applying more drying products and the cycle continues.  Soon you have created a hard dry surface and the oil gets trapped underneath where it clogs and stretches your pores.  Bacteria thrive in this environment and blemishes often ensue.   While it is natural to have a monthly breakout or two, once you start removing the dry skin that’s built up over time, and clean with products that don’t dry you out, you will very quickly see the blemishes lessen and in all likelihood disappear'.

5 days after I received this email I was sent my goodies and that evening at precisely 7:30pm, just after my daughters bed-time, I cracked on with my regimen.  Below is a pic I took of my products:

(clockwise from back left)
Disposable Cleansing Cloths, Light Milk, Gentle Toner, Soap, Instant Radiance, Refining Scrub,
Complexion Perfection, Light Moisture Cream 

You can click here to read more about each product.

Also in my email was a clear guide on how to use them.  This has always been my problem with 'off the shelf' skincare products, no-one advises you how to USE them. This is where things have changed for me.

Here is what we (SF) recommend for you:

Every morning clean your face with The Sandwich for Normal to Oily Skin. Make sure you follow the directions exactly as the method is just as important as the products used. You will be using soap, which will get your skin cleaner than any liquid cleanser, but when used in our unique way it will never dry your skin. The Refining Scrub will gently remove the dry surface that's built up and deep clean your pores, and you will be wiping everything off with Disposable Cleansing Cloths so nothing will be left behind to dry or irritate or dull your complexion. You won't believe how fresh and clean your skin looks and feels after washing this way each morning. Moisturize with the same Light Moisture Cream you used to wash with, or with Parasol SPF 15.

Every evening clean your face and remove your makeup (eye make up too) with Light Milk and Gentle Toner.  Remove both with the same Disposable Cleansing Cloths you used to remove your Sandwich. Moisturize with the same Light Moisture Cream you used in your morning Sandwich only if your skin feels dry

A few times a week use Instant Radiance exfoliating treatment followed by Complexion Perfection mask. This powerful duo will really speed your results, refine your skin texture and bring on that healthy glow.


My skin has been analysed, now it is my turn to tell you my analysis of the Simone France skincare range.

Quite simply ... I love it. I have to tell you that my skin feels clean, my skin feels fresh and my skin feels young! I must admit I had a wobbly start to it and about 2 days after the regimen, my skin was bumpy and slightly sore! DON'T PANIC THOUGH! I immediately wrote a detailed email to Penny and she revised my products there and then and shipped them from America that very day! It turns out that the 'light moisture' was just too light for me. As England turns to winter the air has a nip to it and my skin truly suffers as a result, this was taken on board by Simone France and my moisture was adjusted accordingly. What skincare brand do you know that consults even after purchase? answers on a postcard please.

My favourite part about the regime is The Sandwich.  I have always loved the squeaky clean feeling of soap, but hated the drying feeling that comes with it which is where The Sandwich cleverly comes in. Each morning I moisturise, gently scrub and then soap my face - yes! all in that order and it feels gorgeous. I follow this with 'Lovely Glow' as through a bit of trial and error this is the right moisture for me. I sometimes use the 'French Formula' but only when my skin feels a bit parched and in need of a bit more moisture love.

I have to admit I still use foundation (but no powder which is SF's biggest No-No) but I cleanse it away properly in the evening. I also have to admit I am still getting the 'monthly' spots which are driving me a little bit insane, but I know why these are occuring and they are clearing up faster without my skin-dryingly-skin-blastingly awful home spot remedies.  

I also took it upon myself to interview Penny as I had a few questions of my own for her, they make very interesting reading and they make me love the brand EVEN more.

How long do you advise people to use Simone France for until they see proper results?
1.  Most people at least feel the difference the first time they use The Sandwich.  Within 2 weeks there should be a noticeable improvement, and the longer you use it the more results you will see.  Once in a while some people can break out for a day or two as things come to the surface, but that isn’t the norm and that soon goes away.  The results are really very fast, because the products and the method work with the skin’s natural processes, instead of trying to overtake and control them.

Why did Simone sell her company?
2.  Simone still has her facial business, the same one she’s had for all her life.  She and I started the product company together in 1999, and her interest in that is what she sold in 2006 that Sally, Jean and I now own.  She is in her 80s, a very private person, and prefers at this stage of her life to just work one on one with people on facials, instead of having the pressure, work load and visibility of a big product company.  The facial business is as it always has been – just her, no receptionist, no other facialists.

Why is it not available in regular shops / stores?
3.  We used to be in Bergdorf Goodman and Nordstrom, but we prefer being an on-line only company.  There are many reasons why this is better for us and for our customers as well.  On line we  deal directly with our customers, one to one.  Our end customer is the woman washing her face every morning and it is important we keep that direct connection.  When you sell to stores, your end customer is the store – you have to do things their way, put their needs ahead of all,  and there are any number of salespeople between us and the end customer.  We can run around the country doing our best to train them, but it will never be the same as dealing directly.  It’s better for the customer, and it is better for us because we always have our finger on the pulse of what our customers need and want, how they are using and liking the products.  In our case, we also have the added issue that we are so very different from every other company in both product and philosophy.  It is difficult to ask the same facialist or salesperson to tell people they shouldn’t use liquid cleansers or chemical exfoliants, or powder, when they have to sell liquid cleansers, chemical exfoliants and powder in order to keep their jobs in their stores and spas.  Simply put, we don’t fit in with the crowd that is in stores and spas.  And, frankly, we don’t want to!  The reason people see such good results with our products is because we give them something no other product company does.

How and why are you different from all the other skincare ranges out on the market?
4.  How and why are we different – let me count the ways!  1.  We use the fewest, simplest ingredients possible  2.  We have a method that is just as important as the products used – if you use our products the same  way others are made to be used, you won’t get the benefits.  3.  We have a unique view of skin typing and diagnosing  4.  Rather than selling people more and more things to apply to their skin, we say that you should use less.  And 5 is perhaps the most important.  We do not follow trends – we remain true to the formulas and method Simone has used, hands on, one on one, on thousands of women for decades.   We know these products and this method works.  Unless and until that changes, we’re not going to change what we say or what we sell.

Who set the skin analysis questions? (when a customer first applies)
5.  The analysis questions have been the same since Simone and I started the product line company in 1999.  The questions were written by me (a former beauty editor and beauty publicist), after working with Simone and seeing her diagnose hundreds of customers.  These are the questions she herself asks.

How long should a full sized set of SF last a customer?
6.  Full sizes last 2-3 months, although if you are only using it on your face the soap will last much longer than that.  

What 3 things should anyone do to achieve glowing flawless skin, for life?
7.  Three things to do for a healthy complexion for a lifetime are:  1. Physically block the sun from your skin with a hat, a parasol or staying in the shade.  2.  Clean your skin twice a day.  One surface cleansing and one deep pore cleansing and mild exfoliation  3.  Respect your skin and do not try to beat it into submission with strong chemicals and procedures – do not try to “fight” wrinkles, “zap” zits, etc.  If you go to war with your skin it will only show you battle scars!


I went away with my husband for my first anniversary and took the entire range with me, this is it in our hotel cabinet - I never travel lightly.

My small skincare kit!!! :)


Would I buy it? YES! (I don't think there is a font big enough for this)

Would I recommend Simone France to friends, colleagues, clients? YES YES YES!!

As a bridal and fashion Make-up Artist I am asked about skincare all the time, I am not a dermatologist / skincare expert so do find it hard to recommend things that are right for the individual.  With Simone France I can recommend the regimen and then they will do all of the analysing and the advise - hurrah. At the beginning of this post I briefly mentioned the service that Simone France offer and I have to say this is second to none. The service was really personal, very effective and it's customer care that is OUT OF THIS WORLD!

If you want to ask me any questions about my experience of Simone France skincare please do via my website  or email through to Simone France themselves

Here is a piccie of my skin, with a bit of party make-up I have to add, but doesn't it look clear and glowing? - I think so. 

Hardly any foundation - and NO powder! 

Lots of Party Make-up :) - but still, no powder

What is your skincare regime? Please comment below as I would love to hear! 

NB - My skincare test was over a 6 week period (to date)

Simone France Product Ingredient List click HERE

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Have a sniff!

The best candles I have ever, ever sniffed are by an Australian company called Sniff Soy Candles and they truly are unique in that they actually smell exactly like they say they should - a rareity.  I was in Liberty a few weeks ago and did a proper smell test of most of the candles in there, which I have to add ranged from £25 to £75 (for a candle!) anyway, I came away thinking that a lot of them smelt nice but none of them had a scent that would linger and fragrance a room properly.  

I have been very lucky to get my hands on 3 candles all the way from Australia; Rose Bud, Fresh Cut Flowers and French Verbena. See them on the website here 

I can honestly say that they smell adorable, French Verbena is my fave, and they retail at only $29AUD which is about £18. A whiffing sniffing bargain!

Mine are branded too - so I have the only Lucy Baker Make-up Sniff Candles in the world! :)

Thanks to the Sniffettes for sending these over to me to try.


Monday, 7 November 2011

My favourite lipbalm EVER EVER EVER

I am a total and utter lip balm addict and can confess that I have bought nearly every single one on the market over the years and I can also confess I have loved.... just about none of them. Too greasy, too expensive, too slippy, too smelly, too this and too that and none have been right - UNTIL NOW.... I am too excited about telling you about this product as it is a great price, a great product and it stays on! hurraaahhhhh.  Plus is is SPF 15, available on the high street, organic, super conditioning and and and....... it is
THE BEST LIP BALM IN THE WORLD - according to me

It is from Holland & Barrett and is just £3.25 for a 5.7ml tube. My advice to you is GO OUT AND BUY IT AND THROW ALL YOUR OTHER RUBBISH LIP BALMS AWAY!

The End