Archive for the ‘Opinion peice’ Category

Beauty, Fashion Tips, Features, Opinion, Opinion peice, ShinyStyle Investigates, Skin

ShinyStyle tries: Priori CoffeeBerry Enzyme Peel and Omnilux Light therapy

By Lauren Bravo on June 20th, 2013

Can a skincare slattern change her ways? Lauren Bravo tries her first fancy facial

I have had only two facials in my life before, both of them as a teenager and both in the spa at Center Parcs.

For a beauty enthusiast this might be surprising (I once applied mascara during a 3am fire drill), but I just have a far stronger interest in putting stuff on my face than I do in scrubbing it off. Plus, white towelling dressing gowns make me queasy.

As a teen I had consistently spotty skin for years, and stoically worked my way through every lotion and potion on the market until eventually, savings account empty and epidermis resentful, I just gave up and started doing nothing instead. The spots went away*.

Courthouse Clinics, Wimpole Street, London

Courthouse Clinics, Wimpole Street, London

For seven merry years I continued with a regime that was erratic at best, lazy at worst, and have enjoyed pretty good skin all the while – but now at 25 (I know, I know, the decrepit horror) I’ve started feeling the urge to ‘do’ skincare again. There are fine lines under my eyes where make up often settles in goulish grey creases. Sometimes if I look at my pores really hard in the mirror, I think I see a tiny person who has fallen into one of them, waving at me. I have no intention of trying to fight time, but if I could make friends with time and persuade it not to turn me into a handbag, that would be nice.

So when Courthouse Clinics invited me for a Priori CoffeeBerry Enzyme Peel and Omnilux light treatment at their London Wimpole Street clinic, I leapt at the chance. Actually, first I asked “WILL MY FACE LOOK LIKE MEAT?”, remembering that Sex and the City episode where Samantha has a chemical peel, and then I leapt at it – duly reassured that my skin would be ravishing, not raw.

My lovely facialist Kelly starts by asking about my current skincare routine. Sheepishly I admit that my sole cleanser for the past five years has been those cucumber wipes that are always on a 3 for 2 in Boots. But, I hastily continue, turning 25 has opened my eyes to a whole world of skincare, and I would like her to guide me through it now please. She looks at me as though I am the prodigal daughter, returned.

I decide I love her when she validates one of my favourite pastimes, confirming that spot-squeezing is ok. It’s ok! “As long as you do it right,” she adds. “Most people don’t.” I’m pretty sure I do it right – candles, music, a glass of wine after.

My 'redness' scan. Fetching, yes?

My ‘redness’ scan. Fetching, yes?

Kelly then goes on to impart so much wisdom that I wish I had a notepad and pen by my treatment bed, and try to mentally inscribe it on the insides of my eyelids instead. I learn that genetics play as big a part in the ageing process as sitting in the sun drinking martinis; I learn that I should cleanse twice, once to wash away the dirt and grime of the day, and once to really get deep down into my skin; I learn that the teeny, colourless bumps I get on my jawline and forehead are most likely caused by product overload (which makes sense, as I treat moisturiser like a barbecue condiment – pile it on, three types at once).

Once I’m cleansed and absolved of my skincare sins, I sit in front of the clinic’s fancy new gadget, a ClearVision 3D scanner. Like that friend with a posh camera who specialises in taking the least flattering photos known to man, it snaps me with four different filters to show the extent of my wrinkles and UV damage. I look like a Doctor Who villain. I wait for Kelly to tell me it isn’t that bad. “You can see here, the deepest lines under your eyes,” she indicates my little wrinkles, which are now terrifying crevices “and there’s some redness here by your nose that looks like a spot forming.”

“But… it’s not that bad, right?” I plead. “No,’ she eventually concedes. “It’s about average for your age.”

The antioxidant-packed CoffeeBerry peel goes on like any face mask and smells delicious, like vanilla rather than a macchiato. It tingles just enough to convince me it’s really doing something. Then it all gets a bit Doctor Who again as the Omnilux light machine is placed over my face, under which there’s barely room to wiggle my nose. A light as bright as the sun is shone into my eyes, through my goggles and tightly-screwed-shut eyelids and, I am convinced, right into my brain. For a moment I panic. I can’t cope. I am Icarus. I am going to melt. I- oh wait, it’s quite nice actually.

Once my eyeballs have adjusted it really is pleasant – warm and peaceful, a bit like basking on a sunny beach. “It’s my clients’ favourite,” Kelly tells me. “They all tell me how calm and zen they feel afterwards.” I generally get my zen from Nutella and Seinfeld boxsets, but I can see the appeal in this too. After twenty minutes I emerge feeling like I’ve had a holiday, and my face is cushiony soft. I can’t stop poking it.

Priori Advanced AHA Gentle Cleanser

My swanky new cleanser

Kelly finishes by smoothing on a serum, then a facial SPF, and then lets me play around with Priori’s CoffeeBerry mineral makeup – much like my usual Bare Minerals, it gives great coverage and I look glowily golden. Nothing short of a lottery win or sudden promotion to Pope will mean I can afford the course of six peels and light treatments she recommends, but I leave with a bottle of Priori Advanced AHA Cleanser, vowing that I will use it loyally and not be a product slag.

At home my boyfriend greets me with, “Oh my god your skin looks amazing!” – which is the response we had pre-arranged by text, to be fair, but his delivery sounds heartfelt. A week on and my face looks smoother, brighter, more even and in need of much less make up than before – not the kind of difference anyone’s going to cross the street to comment on, but I can tell.

More importantly, it’s also heralded a new era for my face. Armed with all my knowledge, I’m doing proper cleansing every day and using eye cream and moisturiser in the way dermatologists intend, not slathering it on like butter on toast. If I keep it up, I’d say time and I are going to be jolly good pals.

The Priori CoffeeBerry Natureceutical Enzyme Peel and Omnilux Light Therapy are available at Courthouse Clinics, starting at £65 for the peel and £55 for the light therapy

*Not that I’m advocating sleeping in your make-up, kids. My skin is probably just of a contrary persuasion, like Superman in Bizarro World.

Beauty, Fashion Tips, Features, Get the look, Opinion, Opinion peice, Trend Alert

What does your selfie say about you?

By Lauren Bravo on June 17th, 2013

Let she who is without selfies cast the first moan! But if selfies could speakwhat would they say?

Classic pout

“I’m a traditional gal. I don’t deviate. like mild peri-peri on my Nando’s, and Paul McCartney is my favourite Beatle.”

Extreme pout selfie

The extreme pout

Extreme pout

“By playing with the proportions of the conventional photographic pout, I am making a comment on the nature of our society’s obsession with lip-to-face ratio. Also, look at me all minxy.”

Satirical pout

satirical pout selfie

The satirical pout

“This is what people do in selfies, yes? I’ve heard it is, but I can’t be sure as most of my time is taken up with poi swinging, not using Facebook and working on my quinoa recipe blog, Keen-a for Quinoa.”

‘The shoes’

“As this is only 20% a photo of my shoes and 80% a photo of some floor, so you’d be forgiven for commenting, “Hey! Nice floor!”. But that isn’t the intended response.”

‘The legs’

“Legs can’t be narcissistic, right? They’re just legs! Lovely, practical legs! Legs for climbing mountains, dancing a merry jig or, on this occasion, casually lying prone on a sun lounger under a light coating of shimmery body oil.’

the mug selfie

The mug

‘The mug’

“You think this is premium Venezuelan java. It’s actually Robinson’s Fruit & Barley. Now let’s read some Sartre.”

‘The mirror’

“Isn’t this a lovely toilet? Look, they have those nice quilted paper hand towels and everything. Try to focus more on my sassy outfit and less on the fact I’ve just urinated.”

The ‘new hair’

“This is legitimate. I have new hair! I must garner opinions! If a tree falls in the forest and nobody comments on its new hair, does it really exist?”

sleepy selfie

The sleepy

‘The sleepy’

“It’s pretty hectic, being me. But please don’t be associating my tiredness with the same sort of tiredness that produces eye bags and sleep farting and a little trail of crusty drool on one’s face. Mine is a different, sexy tiredness. Je suis fatigue. Look at my artfully rumpled hair. Are you imagining me in bed yet?”

‘The dopey’

“Geez, I’m so ditsy y’all. I didn’t even mean to take this – I was trying to pay my council tax using my online banking app, but before I knew it I’d snapped myself looking adorably gawky with my mouth slightly open. Still, shame to let it go to waste.”

‘The sneezy’

At the time of going to print, this wasn’t yet a selfie trend.

the dopey selfie

The dopey

There is a boyfriend in your photo


Your heads are bent together coyly


His face is partially obscured because he is nuzzling your neck/kissing your cheek


The arms’-reach, almost, just about, could feasibly not be a selfie

“But it obviously is.”

Beauty, Features, Opinion, Opinion peice, Reviews, ShinyStyle Investigates, Skin

We need to talk about adult acne

By Lauren Bravo on June 11th, 2013

When almost every other bodily problem is up for public discussion, why does adult acne get left in the dark? Writer Laura Jane Williams brings her breakout battle into the open

woman covering face with handSo the thing is, I’ve always had pretty amazing skin. And that’s a really shitty thing for me to say, because nice girls don’t gloat about such genetic triumphs. It’s like saying “No, I eat whatever I want, I never put on weight!” or “Oh, my lashes naturally hit the glass of my spectacles.” I know this. But I promise what I’m about to type will satisfy even the most extreme schadenfreude hankering.

From November 2012 to April 2013 every Facebook photograph of me has been touched up, on iPhoto, so as not to reveal the true state of my skin. Karma came to bite me on my ample ass, you see. I got adult acne.

I amassed a collection of painful pustles under the skin, positioning themselves in such a way that it meant natural sunlight made it seem as though Batman’s Egghead had invited his whole family over for dinner along my jawline. The fluro lighting at work made the mounds on my chin look red and angry, pounding for release. Washing didn’t work, makeup did sod all, and the stress of worrying about how I was putting my colleagues off their lunch made it even worse.

Seldom did my irritations do me the pleasure of developing heads to be squeezed in order to release the pus. Any PMT blemish before The Skin Debacle of 2012 would’ve been dealt with in that way. But my bout of adult acne? Not so amenable. And it made me fucking miserable.

The truly ironic part of this devastating turn of events – and truly, I have now come to understand how absolutely, cripplingly mortifying bad skin can be – is that at the time of my outbreak, I was writing an eBook about adult acne. Say what you want about the universe, but that bitch has got one hell of a sense of humour.

I used to think that irrespective of the odd pimple it was who you were on the inside that counted. Well I’m calling shenanigans on that. Despite the fact that I’m a smart woman- I graduated top of my class, pay all my own bills, date, have friends, work hard, play harder, that is, in short, do everything normal, happy, functioning, people do- I could not get past the disfigured face I saw in the mirror. Over Christmas, I didn’t even leave the house. Kids- that kind of behaviour just ain’t me.

But that’s just it! Spots send you bonkers! It’s all you think about! All you see! AND THAT’S NOT ALL. As a sufferer of adult acne, you wonder if every time somebody makes eye contact with you, from the sales clerk to your BFF, if they’re thinking to themselves, “Wow. Sister be gross.” So basically I just stopped making eye contact at all.

My self-esteem was never as low as it was in those months.

vitage-age-defence-hydrating-maskI tried everything. Two litres of water a day. Lymphatic drainage massages. Eight hours a week of blue light therapy. New cleansers, different toners, no moisturiser, more moisturiser. I felt better for being more hydrated, and I’ve since recommended Lustre Light Therapy to friends because it helped enough to be worth a try for anyone, but I still couldn’t talk about acne. I still couldn’t use words to describe the debilitating angst that I felt, for the first time in my life, teenage and adult, ugly. And that goes hand-in-hand with worthless. I felt that, too.

My boss, wise elder, took me aside one day, slipping a box of Priori Advanced AHA facial cleanser into my palm. She had me combine it with a Vitage Age Defence Hydrating Mask a few times a week, and Medik8’s Growth Factor underneath my twice-daily Nivea application. I got salon-strength exfoliant to use twice a week, and switched my foundation to a tinted moisturiser so that my face can breathe better.

After 8 weeks of intensive TLC, my face started to heal. I felt like myself again. I don’t know why I got a breakout when I did- hormones, my “big move” to London, bad luck- karma? I don’t even know which part of my solution to recommend to you.

But what I do want to say, is that why is it we can talk about in-growing pubic hairs, fanny farts, thrush and scaly dandruff, but acne is off limits? The thing I wanted most during my six-month pizza-face ordeal was, aside from a solution, an honest conversation about it. But I was far too embarrassed.

It’s only now I’m almost back to my old spot-free self that I feel confident enough to say guys. We need to talk about adult acne.

I’ve stated my case. What’s yours?

Laura Jane Williams blogs at Superlatively Rude and Tweets under @superlativelyLJ

Accessories, Fashion Tips, Features, Opinion, Opinion peice, Sunglasses

When is and isn’t it acceptable to wear sunglasses?

By Lauren Bravo on June 6th, 2013

Nobody likes the knob in dark glasses on the tube – but it’s not always as simple as ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Here’s a handy checklist to help you know when to put them on and take them off


In a small shop: acceptable

In a big shop or department store: unacceptable

Cat eye sunglasses, £10 ASOS

£10 ASOS

In the pub: unacceptable

In a restaurant: unacceptable

In a club: unacceptable

round retro sunglasses Bank Fashion

£8 Bank Fashion

In the car: acceptable

On the bus: acceptable

On a train: borderline

Flower sunglasses Urban Outfitters

£20 Urban Outfitters

On the tube: unacceptable

In the entrance to the tube station: acceptable

At the top of the tube escalator: acceptable

In the middle of the tube escalator: grey area

At the bottom of the tube escalator: unacceptable

Purple pastel sunglasses M&S

£9.50 Marks and Spencer

In the daytime: acceptable

At sunset: judgement call

After dark: unacceptable

River Island tortoiseshell sunglasses

£16 River Island

In bed: unacceptable


(If you are visually impaired or have other health reasons: acceptable. Obviously.)


Beauty, Fashion Tips, Features, guess where this is from, Opinion, Opinion peice, Perfume, ShinyStyle Investigates, Uncategorized

Eau de Lidl: can a £3.99 perfume actually smell like Chanel?

By Lauren Bravo on June 2nd, 2013

Rumour has it Lidl do a perfume that smells exactly like Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle. Lauren Bravo sniffs out an unlikely bargain.

Lidl-Suddenly-Madame-Glamour-perfumeI have plenty of good associations with Lidl. I like their enormous cartons of orange juice and wide range of ambiguously-labelled continental meat products. I even have good smell associations with Lidl, as the branch on Camden High Street pumps out the scent of freshly-baked pastries so aggressively that you can walk in a warm cloud of maple pecan twist all the way to Mornington Crescent.

But until recently, and I trust this won’t make me sound too much like Violet Elizabeth Bott, it had never occurred to me to go to Lidl for perfume. Not until, that is, I watched C4’s SuperScrimpers and was told that the winningly-named “Suddenly Madame Glamour” (except the presenter pronounced it “Gla-MOOR”, as in ‘Glamorgan’, presumably to give it a modicum of chic Frenchness), smelled exactly like Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle.  That’s the warm, potent scent of a thousand sexy Parisian necks, for the price of a sandwich and a Twix. Or four jars of sauerkraut and an eight-pack of batteries, if you’re still in Lidl.

On the TV show they blind-tested ladies in a shopping centre and showed them all enjoying Suddenly Madame Glamour, then not believing it could possibly cost £3.99 from a supermarket. So I grabbed a colleague and marched them down to Lidl at lunchtime, to douse ourselves in Faux-co Chanel among the sausage and soft cheeses. “This could change EVERYTHING,” we whispered.

On first sniff it’s promising. It DOES smell like Coco Mademoiselle. It’s the same heady jasmine-rose scent that brings back my first year of uni, when every second girl on my corridor was a devoted fan. It’s strong and unashamedly perfumey, not pretending to be fresh laundry or a dewy meadow or anything, but nor is it something you need to reach certain levels of maturity to appreciate, like Chanel No.5 or chicken liver pâté. It’s not my signature scent, and especially not when it’ll cost me upwards of £50 – but for £3.99? Heck, for £3.99 I’d make make pickled onion Monster Munch my signature scent.

Still sceptical, we left Lidl empty-handed and walked round for the rest of the day waving our wrists at impartial volunteers. We waited for it to change magically into eau de loo cleaner within a few minutes, but it didn’t. It mellowed nicely. It didn’t last for hours and hours, but for more than long enough to send us straight back to Lidl the next day to stock up. “We’re so glamOORus!” we cried, spraying it everywhere. It was my new desk perfume for a few weeks before it proved itself sufficiently to be allowed on my dressing table, and “I’m just going to glamOOR myself” has become shorthand for making oneself irresistible. Or £3.99-worth of irresistible, anyway.

Next on the list to investigate: Aldi’s “miracle” Lacura skincare range. After I finish this vat of sauerkraut, that is.

Beauty, Fashion Tips, Features, Hair, Opinion, Opinion peice, Uncategorized

Fully tressed: why are we so obsessed with long hair?

By Lauren Bravo on May 22nd, 2013
woman with very long hair

This is not me. (image: blablab

I seem to be suffering from a sort of hair-based dysmorphia.

Just about reaching mid-way down my back, it’s currently the longest it’s been in years – probably my whole life – but it still isn’t long enough. “It’s SO LONG,” friends tell me, with face you use to tell someone they’ve had enough and should probably get a taxi now. “No,” I say. “Just a few more inches. Maybe another foot. I want it LONGER, damnit, and you can’t stop me.”

One of these days I fully expect to come home and find them all gathered in my living room, bearing scissors and deep conditioning treatments and doing creepy, soothing smiles. “This is a nice hairdresser,” they’ll say, gently putting a towel round my shoulders and sitting me down. “He’s going to give you a little trim and it’s aaalll going to be ok…”. Then I’ll scream.

Why am I so obsessed with having long hair? Why are any of us? The UK hair extension industry is worth an estimated £45-60m, and demand is only growing (despite the many dubious back stories that go with them) while the Duchess of Cambridge and Kim Kardashian’s swingy manes still top most-requested polls at the hairdressers. Despite all the liberating pixie cuts, bobs, Meg Ryans and Rachels that have been embraced over the last century, there’s still a very narrow, culturally-biased  ‘long hair = good, short hair = crap’ mentality prevalent to some extent in the West. A ‘hairarchy’, if you will.

One school of thought says it’s evolutionary, tied up like so much else in the idea that men should hunt and women should nest – cropped hair so much more practical for toiling in the fields, long hair better for using as a scarf when the icy winds of the patriarchy blew through your ivory tower.

But I know all that is bollocks, and I love short hair on girls – yet, right now, I still want mine to look like something out of a Pre-Raphaelite painting, or Marcia Brady. Maybe it’s a comfort blanket, something to hide behind. Maybe because I’m top heavy and have always felt that without lots of hair around it, my head looks like a pea balanced on a potato.

Maybe it’s because, if I’m going to be honest about it, I can’t shake the idea that past a certain age having super-long hair will start to look a bit unseemly. A bit Donatella Versace. A bit mutton.

This is a terrible, ageist notion, I know – plenty of women (and men for that matter) look wonderful with acres of hair well into their autumn years, and what does it matter what anyone else thinks anyway, if I like it? I could be one of those cool ladies with the grey streaks who makes her own pottery. I could wear it in a big plait woven with ribbons and dance through fields singing Kate Bush. Or I could do none of those things and just steadfastly carry on with my curtain of gradually-coarsening locks until I die, and they could write on my gravestone “hair today, gone tomorrow” and everybody could chuckle and it might be nice.

But despite knowing all of this, I still have the nagging feeling that right now, in my mid-20s, is my Last Chance for really long hair. I mean, even Susan Kennedy off Neighbours cut hers short eventually. And everyone knows that if you have kids, you must immediately get a dowdy ‘mum’ cut because otherwise they will try to swing from your hair like it’s play equipment.

So this is my final fling. My personal project, to see how long it will go. And I don’t just want it long – I want it thick and lush all the way down too, not tapering into straggly ends like a Cheese String. I want it to be the kind of hair that becomes its own accessory, so you pull on the plainest of outfits and swish it around and feel like you’re sufficiently dressed for anything. Sufficiently tressed, even.

To achieve all these impossible goals, I’m on a devoted regime of Mane ‘n’ Tail horse shampoo (it’s a thing, I promise), conditioning and more conditioning and heat protecting, and giving it teeny trims every time the ends start fraying. I’ve never managed to keep a plant alive longer than a week, but I think I’m tending to my hair pretty well.

And when it’s finally long enough and I’ve ridden a horse naked down Muswell Hill Broadway to prove it, I’ll have it cut to a sensible shoulder length and leave the super long locks to the youngsters. Or then again, maybe I won’t.

Accessories, Fashion Tips, Features, Footwear, Opinion, Opinion peice, shoes, Trend Alert

The death of the ridicu-shoe: will unwearable heels just trot away now please?

By Lauren Bravo on May 17th, 2013

When even Victoria Beckham hangs up her heels, it might be time to come back down to earth…

Purple Coleen Fonda heels


There’s a thing in fashion, and actually in lots of other things such as water features and Mr Whippy cones, known as the ‘trickle down effect’.

Most people will tell you this is the process by which trends work their way from the catwalk down through the rungs of the fash ladder until they reach the high street, the market stall and eventually the bargain bin. But I prefer to think of it as the process by which the powers that be decide on the next big thing, and then we steadfastly ignore it for five years until we’re ready to accept it into our wardrobes and lives.

Midi skirts, for example, were pushed doggedly season after season, while we all stuck our fingers in our ears and sung “la-la-la-la-la” like an obnoxious toddler, our thighs still in chilly minis until 2011. At least they finally got their moment in the sun, though – wide-legged jeans have been supposedly ‘on their way back’ for almost a decade now, peering through the windows like an uninvited loner at the skinny party, and they’re still showing no sign of getting an invite.

So it’s in light of all this, and with a big whoop of much joy on behalf of my bunions, that I tell you stupid heels are finally going. BUH-BYE, bizzarro-stilts! So long, pain trotters! When even Victoria Beckham – the woman for whom being eight months pregnant in Westminster Abbey called for a pair of brutal six-inch stillies – is proudly showing off her flat Church’s boots on Twitter, we can confidently call time on the reign of the Ridicu-Shoe.

And ohhh, what a tedious reign it has been. Excellent for Compeed and gin distilleries, less successful for feet and female moral. What looked edgy and daring in about 2007 has now become the hallmark of the identikit, hobbling lady on every high street from here to John O-Groates. I’d like to present a graph showing the inverse relationship between average heel heights and the number of us chasing down criminals in the street to perform a citizens arrest, but I’ve been too distracted by my throbbing toes to collect the data.

Of course I’d like to stress firmly here that I am not anti-heel. No siree. I’m not heelist, or indeed heelphobic. Some of my best friends are heels. I’ve worn heels in the snow; heels on the beach. I’m the patient who once held up a trip to A&E because I didn’t want to arrive in flats.

Hobbs Millie sandal £129

Millie sandals, £129 Hobbs

But there is a big difference between the sexy, percussive stride of a really great heel and the debilitating totter of a ridicu-shoe.  For if a shoe fails to do its one, basic function – being a thing you put your foot in and walk on – then it’s not really a shoe. It’s like buying a cup with a hole in it, or a house with no roof. It’s little better than the £400 Louboutin equivalent of those yellow buckets from the Early Learning Centre we used to hold on our feet with string.

But the perfect heel is a rare and wonderful thing – and of course, different for every wearer. For some, it’s one you can dine in, dance in, then march to the kebab shop in; for others, one you can run for the bus in without any fear of stacking it down Kingsland Road (I still have the bruises); for some it’s the barely-there elevation of a half-inch pump, for others a stomper with a whacking great platform.

Personally I’ve always been obsessed with two-inchers. Not mimsy kittens, but sturdy, elegant mid-height heels with a good amount of clop that make your calves look really great. T-bars, Mary-Janes, that sort of thing. On top of a good pair of two-inches I feel powerful and important, like having my own little stage.

Topshop Molly t-bar shoes

Molly T-bar shoes, £35 Topshop

And then of course there are the flats, which finally trickled down and are now set to woosh like a lovely, soothing river into our wardrobes. Brogues have lasted the distance and been rewarded with every colour, fabric and finish under the sun, while jazz shoes, plimsolls, moccasins, proper sporty trainers and Jesus sandals are all still loafing about to help see us merrily through summer.

Just think of all the things we’ll be able to do, now that we don’t have to do it on ridicu-shoes! Maybe we’ll start running for buses when we don’t even NEED to. Maybe we’ll start running, generally. Maybe we’ll just dance harder, faster and longer, then march to the kebab shop without ever having to make foot-pavement content. Maybe giant heels will start looking edgy and daring again, rather than just default.

I wouldn’t hold my breath on the wide-legged jeans though, if I were you.

Beauty, Nostalgia, Opinion, Opinion peice, Top Five, Uncategorized, vintage

Instant Sex Appeal, Bottled – What To Wear To Make People Want To Get Amorous…

By Daisy Buchanan on May 14th, 2013

Some days, you just want everyone to want to want you. To see you storm the street with a bounce in your step and your head held high, and not to think “I bet she’s going to an important business meeting!”, but to have a sudden flash of you with your mouth open and eyes closed, hair piled on a pillow. To make them need to imagine you screaming their name because they have forgotten it. To make them forget that any other woman has ever existed – even if it’s for less than a second.

This is why we wear perfume. Everything else we put on our bodies might give a very cerebral message about our lives – an astronaut’s helmet here, a “world pie eating championships” sweater there – but perfume is pure sex and sensation. Never try to smell “like a meadow” when you could smell “like having it off in a meadow”. Scents react differently to everyone’s skin, and a really awesome fragrance will only warm and enhance the pure animal musk coming out of your pores – isn’t that the most carnal thing you ever heard?

But how, I hear you ask (which is odd because I have very poor hearing), how will I know that the people smelling me will be thinking ‘sex in a meadow’ and not ‘used condom thrown in a field’? Because if a perfume is doing its job, it will make you want to have sex with yourself. If you get a waft of something lovely on your shoulder and immediately have to throw your coat over your lap for some crafty self sufficient time, you’ve got a good thing going. Making strangers crave you is a hollow and meaningless exercise if you’re not already engorged with desire for your own genitals.

Here are some fragrances that will make you want to throw your knickers out of the window and lock your bedroom door for a week:

Marc Jacobs Femme

Marc Jacobs Femme

Marc Jacobs Femme

This is the one to put on when you’re wearing nothing but white broderie anglaise, and you’re at the mercy of someone else’s wandering hands in a verdant, deserted park. This smells like cool cotton sheets on sunburn and kissing that went too far. This is what Nicole in Tender Is The Night would have worn during her affair with Tommy. It’s the gardenia. Gardenia is what good girls smell like the moment before they fall.

Hermes Kelly Caleche

Hermès Kelly Calèche

Hermès Kelly Calèche

It’s the scent of a girl on girl teen MILF porn trope, albeit one with very high production values. There’s a powdery hardness to it – it’s all a bit gilt and marble, ‘do me in the Trump Tower’, but when it stops just sitting on your skin and yields to it, there’s a sensory rainstorm. You might smell it on your best friend’s mum’s scarf as you lean in to kiss her cheek, and then spend the rest of the day squirming with guilty, horny confusion.

Versace Bright Crystal

Versace bright crystal

I suspect this is what Marissa Cooper was wearing when she lost her virginity to Luke in The O.C. You know, before she went massively emo and probably started wearing something manly from Creed, or motor oil. It’s joyfully, trashily, irresponsibly adolescent, sparkling and smouldering simultaneously. If you’re giving your first blow job at your boyfriend’s parents’ beach house, spritz some on your hairband before you tie your ponytail. Use your Jersey trust fund dollars for multiple bottles you can keep in your car, bag and any bedrooms you wind up in.

Thierry Mugler Angel

Thierry Mugler Angel

Thierry Mugler Angel

This is an odd one. On me, it smells like a Magic Tree that has been hidden in an old trainer for reasons that probably seemed sensible at the time. But on some ladies, it’s a superpower. A force of nature.

During my first term at university, I befriended a girl called Alison. I thought we’d be pals because we both had our Reading wristbands on, and she decided I was a good prospect because I was carrying a bad pink Dior handbag. (I was wearing Pink Crystal at the time). Alison had attended a very minor public school and thought she was posh, and inexplicably spoke in a high pitched fake Australian accent. Despite claiming a connection with the Rothschilds, she had the most suburban highlights I’ve ever had the misfortune to lay eyes on. Anyway, after about three days of misery I decided to distance myself from this whiny, human chihuahua, but bumped into her at a social event and ended up snogging her. All night. (I’m pretty much straight, and I wasn’t doing it to impress any boys – we were locked in a cleaning cupboard.) She was wearing Angel, and it was as potent as LSD laced MDMA. It made her irresistibly fanciable. If this one works on you, it could be someone else’s Kryptonite.

Beauty, charity, Ethical Fashions, Fashion Tips, Features, Nails, Opinion, Opinion peice, Reviews, ShinyStyle Investigates

The long-lasting nail polish that’s changing the world

By Lauren Bravo on May 8th, 2013

Long-lasting, premium nail polish that helps support women in Haiti? Dielle gets the Shiny thumbs up

Dielle nail polishOh nail polish, wherefore art thou? Not on my nails anymore, that’s for sure. Probably on the pavement. The carpet. The floor of the bus. Dancing away on the wind, like glittery silver blossom. Nothing, not even the priciest brands or the most industrial-strength top coats, will keep polish intact on my nails for longer than a day.

Even the mighty Shellac gave me a week of wear at best, then left my nails like shredded tissue paper underneath. I’ve resorted to marigolds for the washing up, and never offering to find the end of a roll of sellotape for anyone.

Now, I’m not about to let ‘fast-chipping nails’ be added to the menagerie of physical failings we’re supposed to worry about as women – the list is already down to my flaky, substandard elbow. But as someone who feels so much affection toward nail polish, it just seems unfair how keen it is to escape life on the end of my fingers.  “I love you!” I tell each lovely new shade. “Errr, I thought this was just a one-night kinda thing…” it mutters, and makes a dash for the floor or plughole.

So when I tell you that Dielle polish actually stayed glossy and perfect for three days on me, you will appreciate the small miracle. On a normal person’s hands, that’s like, six! Eight maybe. This stuff has no commitment issues. It sticks around and makes you breakfast.

And far more importantly, Dielle also has ethical backing. Founder Rosalie Audoin lived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for 12 years, and is committed to putting the proceeds from Dielle towards charities making a difference for Haitian women and children. Recent campaigns include The Haiti Hospital Appeal, and The A21 Campaign Against Human Trafficking.

Dielle nail polish in Everlasting

On top of that glowing recommendation, the collection is also completely non-toxic and designed to cater for every skin tone, with names like “Majestic Obsidian” so that you can pretend to be a warrior space princess from the future. I tried Everlasting, a pleasingly muted teal, and Modern Goddess, a spacey midnight metallic, with a lick of Lustre Gel Coat on top to keep them shining for longer.

Dielle nail polish in Modern Goddess

In its shapely bottles, Dielle makes a covetable dressing-table addition, and at £12 a pop can definitely give all those quick-chipping, non-saving-the-world premium brands a run for their money. I think we’re going to be very happy together.

Dielle is available from Not On The High Street, several London boutiques and its own site, with more stockists announced soon.

Fashion Tips, Fashion's biggest myths, Features, How to Wear, Opinion, Opinion peice, ShinyStyle Investigates, Yay or Nay

Fashion’s biggest myths: blue and green should never be seen

By Lauren Bravo on May 7th, 2013

Printed pencil skirt, £20

You’re most likely to hear this rule from your granny – but doesn’t she know it’s going against nature? Lauren Bravo explains why blue and green should definitely be seen

So obviously false is this little platitude that we really shouldn’t have to waste screen inches debunking it – but just in case there are still people out there secretly putting on a turquoise frock with an emerald jacket and dancing round their room with the curtains drawn lest the vicar should see, let’s do this.

Firstly, whoever first coined this rule is going against NATURE. It’s the anti-Wordsworth of outfit assembly. Have they never stood in a meadow and looked up at the sky? Have they never been to the seaside, is that it? So they decided to punish the rest of us? Blue and green is one of the oldest fashion choices there is, along with ‘brown and brown’ and ‘lava-red with dinosaur khaki’.

Secondly, speaking of poetry, I strongly suspect that this might be one of those rules that arose purely because it rhymed – just like “tequila before wine makes you feel fine,” or “never trust a dog who looks like a log”. Which is all well and good, but do we want to be filling our children’s heads with these nonsensical limitations when everyone knows that the poshest poetry doesn’t rhyme anyway? We shouldn’t be denying ourselves potentially great outfits just because someone wanted a level 7 in their English SATs paper.

Thirdly, just as with all fashion myths, this one was clearly instated because somebody did it badly once. My guess is it was somebody’s auntie Marge at a wedding, who piled on so much grass-green eyeshadow with her cornflower crimpelene that she looked like the lady in that Vladimir Tretchikoff painting. This will not be you, don’t worry.

Think joyful splashes of complementary jewel colours rather than matchy-matchy blocks and you’ll be fine. It’s Mary Katrantzou, not the Virgin Mary standing in a field. Or an Asda uniform. This gloriously clashy Love Label pencil skirt from, for example, does all the courageous work for you – like a kindly baroque leopard who’s wandered into a rave. All it needs is a t-shirt and you’re done.

Now go forth, dressed like the sea and sky, and be seen! Be seen by all! Unless you’re doing green tights, in which case we should probably talk.

Got a fashion myth you’d like busted? Comment below or tweet us @ShinyStyle

Beauty, Features, High End Department Stores, Opinion, Opinion peice, Reviews

How Benefit’s Posie Tint changed my life

By Lauren Bravo on May 1st, 2013

Ever had an epiphany at the make up counter? Writer Amy Jones tells us how Benefit’s Posie Tint lip and cheek stain became the best thing in her life

Benefit Posie TintA few weeks ago, I was in Boots and paused in the Posh Make-Up bit. After roughly 2.3 nanoseconds a small, terrifying woman appeared and asked if I’d like my make-up done. I was feeling sad and ugly that day so, thinking a make-over would cheer me up, I said yes.

Never say yes. Especially not when you’re feeling sad and ugly. She rubbed potions on my face for half an hour, repeating “Don’t you think that looks good?” in such an aggressive tone I was too frightened to do anything but nod meekly, and when she’d finished she bundled me off to the counter and talked me into spending £60 on three items of make-up in a month I was struggling to make bus money.

It was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my entire life, but I would gladly go through it a hundred times more because it led me to one of my most favourite beauty things in the world. Hell, one of my favourite things in the world full stop — if there’s ever a fire in my flat, my boyfriend and photo albums can sod right off as I’m coming back to save my Benefit Posie Tint.

Ah, Posie Tint. It’s a teeny-tiny pot of bright pink lip and cheek stain that makes my pale, lifeless complexion looks sweet and rosy in just a few swipes. I put it on before taking some photographs last weekend and, genuinely, it was the first photograph in two years where I didn’t look like a reanimated corpse.

That’s not even getting started on what it’s done for my lips. I love the idea of lipstick but I’m crap at putting it on – it comes off quickly, looks weird on my thin lips etc. Not this stuff. Smear it on, let it dry for 30 seconds, I’ve got beautiful pink lips that last ‘til lunch. It doesn’t even clash with my ginger hair.

I’ve always been one of those women who was a bit crap with make-up and loathed putting it on, but since Posie Tint has entered my life I actually looking forward to it. It makes me look so pretty that I’m happier and more confident in my own face. I’ve become one of those people that carries a little make-up bag around with them so they can touch it up.

The tiny pot costs £24.50, which made me splutter at first but actually I think it’s going to last for absolutely ages as you need such a tiny amount. For the confidence and joy in make-up it’s given me, it’s worth every penny.

Follow Amy on Twitter @jimsyjampots and visit her food blog, She Cooks, She Eats.

Beauty of our youth, Nostalgia, Opinion, Opinion peice, vintage

Retro scents remembered: Vanilla Musk

By Daisy Buchanan on April 26th, 2013

Writer Caroline O’Donoghue knew the secrets of womanhood were lying at the bottom of a bottle. A bottle that could be acquired with the advice of a helpful friend, and some Boots Advantage points…

The scent. The legend.

The scent. The legend.

A musk is a smell with layers. A smell with atmosphere. A fourteen year old boy does not smell of sweat, he smells like a combination of sweat, unwashed football jersey, Linx Africa and the ink from burst ball point pens. That is his musk.

By all accounts, nobody should want to be associated with a musk, but when you’re twelve and your babysitting money doesn’t quite cover J.Lo Glo, you have to make ends meet somehow. (FYI – I still think Glo is the best smell of all the earthly smells. Damn J.Lo, when you get it right you get it right the first time.)

I started buying Natural Collection Vanilla Musk when I noticed a bottle of it on my friend Jaclyn’s dressing table. As the friend with the biggest boobs, she had appointed herself the trailblazer of our friend group, and was always the first person to own Woman Things. She was the great educator, and without her, I would still be sticking fanny pads to the inside of my thigh.

The bottle of Vanilla Musk was large, plastic, and had a picture of a daisy on it. I shook it: the liquid inside and both the colour and frothy density of pee.

“What’s this?”
“That?” she paused for dramatic effect. “That’s my musk.”

The second she said it, an image conjured around me. Musk meant warm nights, with the scent of jasmine filling the air. Heavy, purple silk curtains and sheets as soft as jasmine petals. Princess Jasmine’s bedroom.

Spraying the musk into the air, I was overwhelmed with the smell of stale Victoria sponge. It was heavenly.

The next Saturday, I bought 500mls of Vanilla Musk, and what followed was a two year love affair with Musk in general. The fruity, slightly acid sting of Strawberry Musk. The wintry, anonymous mystery of White Musk. All of them rolled around in the bottom of my school bag, collecting sandwich crumbs in a fine crust around the sprayer’s rim.

These days, I can afford the whopping £25 it takes to smell like J.Lo, but a part of me still longs for those lost desert nights, shrouded in musk.

Follow Caroline on Twitter @Czaroline

Beauty, Beauty of our youth, Fashion Crush, Nostalgia, Opinion, Opinion peice, Retail News, Uncategorized, vintage

Beauty of our youth: Boots 17 Twilight Teaser

By Daisy Buchanan on April 26th, 2013

Writer Becca Day Preston remembers when the coolest girls had frosty faces…

Yes, it was really that purple.

Yes, it was really that purple.

I don’t remember exactly when my makeup love affair began. It was a trickle effect, with a couple of eyeshadows pilfered from my mum’s makeup bag here, a freebie lipgloss or glitter gel from Mizz there. Without mascara or eyeliner, I was essentially a taupe-lidded, sparkle-cheeked, grease-gobbed monster. I didn’t really see the appeal, but I slapped on my make-do go-tos for school discos. And then, when I was 14, I went into Boots to stock up on Natural Collection Vanilla Musk body spray and there it was, the Boots 17 stand, resplendent in navy blue and silver packaging.

Not for me the American Girl sheen of Maybelline or the pre-Kate Moss Rimmel. And certainly not for me the mumsy maturity and sky-high price tag of No.7. I was firmly, hopelessly devoted to Boots 17.

Until I stumbled across this beacon of teen beauty that day, my only experience with lipstick had been the deep purples, bright reds and confusing browns on my mum’s dressing table. She was so enamoured with that particular 90s makeup palette that I never even realised there was a whole other palette out there. The palette of the 90s teen girl: all pale this and frosted that. Oil-eliminating pressed powder. Sparkles in everything. Lilac eyeshadow. I don’t want to be melodramatic, but the day I first slapped on Twilight Teaser lipstick was truly momentous.

It was followed by other items in the Boots 17 line: glittery pale pink eyeshadows, a rather too zealous application of blusher from their Pot Of Rose (blusher balls, basically, but to me they were MAGIC BEANS or something), clear mascara for the brows, concealer in beige, yellow AND green, and of course a thick black mascara to fully tarantula-fy my lashes. All those items had a place in my black and pink makeup bag, but it’s Twilight Teaser that still has a place in my heart.

Would I wear a mid-mauve lipstick shot through with enough ‘frosty’ sparkles to fill a snowglobe now? Of course not. But then, I wouldn’t wear clompy court shoes and fill my Rachel ‘do with those weird hair springs nowadays either. Twilight Teaser wasn’t so spectacularly important because of what it was, but because of what it represented: growing up and making my own way in the makeup world.

I am now 26, I don’t have a Rachel ‘do, and I enjoy a full-time, committed relationship with makeup. Oh and I never leave the house without my lippie. So, thanks, Twilight Teaser. You taught me well.

Follow Becca on Twitter @Becca_DP

Fashion Tips, Fashion's biggest myths, Features, How to Wear, Nostalgia, Opinion, Opinion peice

Fashion’s biggest myths: you MUST have a crisp, white shirt

By Lauren Bravo on April 24th, 2013

Still convinced your wardrobe should be built around a crisp, white shirt – despite it looking more Apprentice than Audrey Hepburn? Lauren Bravo’s on a mission to bust those fashion myths and set you free…


Image: La Redoute

I have a theory (actually, it is my mum’s, making it a hand-me-down theory which is actually quite fitting), that your school uniform bears a lasting impact on your wardrobe choices ever after.

Unless you were some sort of gilded Taylor Swift-alike, wafting down corridors like a soft summer breeze and being voted queen of things, the chances are this will be a negative impact, and your uniform associations will haunt you for at least a decade after you left. It’s the reason navy pleats, red berets and anything vaguely reminiscent of gym knickers still bring me out in a cold sweat – and why, despite it having been fiercely on-trend for a couple of years now, I still can’t bring myself to wear a blouse buttoned right up to the top. It feels like I’m doing it because a prefect told me to.

The shuddering school uniform link is also the first reason I’m invoking for why a crisp white fitted shirt is categorically NOT the foundation of your wardrobe. Not now, not ever. Not unless you are in the navy, or an Apprentice contestant, or possibly Gwyneth Paltrow.

There’s nothing wrong with a crisp white shirt, of course. By all means have several if you’re that way inclined. But aside from instantly taking you back to a time when ‘your greatest badge of style was a Kangol pencil case, the problem with the crisp white shirt is that fashion people are determined to have us believe it is some sort of one-style-suits-all chic-ness solution. “Throw on a crisp white shirt!” they bellow. “You’ll look so terribly French! Now leap across a puddle, holding a balloon!”

“Even better, don’t buy a shirt at all – borrow one from your conveniently-sized graphic designer boyfriend, throw it on with an insouciant shrug and go out to brunch.”

What they don’t tell us is how to avoid that embarrassing boob-gape down the middle, or how to scrub ketchup off our fronts in a portaloo, or how even if you follow the rules to a T and wear it with a fugly nude bra underneath, you will still probably feel more like a promotional model doing ‘saucy secretary’ than you will Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Besides, slavish devotion to the crisp white shirt in 2013 seems a bit like refusing to try peanut butter bacon biscuit swirl because you’d rather stick with vanilla. There’s a whole world of shirt out there, gang! And if you don’t tell the prefects, I won’t either.

Beauty, News, Opinion, Opinion peice, ShinyStyle Investigates, Uncategorized

The great anti ageing debate and the skincare that works

By Daisy Buchanan on April 22nd, 2013

I am old, I am old. I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled.

I’m ambivalent about being 28. Well, I’m only about seven weeks into it, to be fair. And I definitely prefer the latter stages of my twenties to the first part. My professional and romantic lives are fulfilling, and no longer resemble a high concept practical joke fuelled by fluids (including but not limited to white wine, semen, urine and tears, in both areas). I now have access to a bathroom that is improved with the use of a Diptyque Gardenia candle, not a deep breath and a pair of flip flops. I’ve learned you get more use out of one beautifully cut dress that costs £70 than ten £7 dresses that turn your tits into ever expanding comedy beach balls and show your knickers when you cough.

Me at 22 - not doing that again.

Me at 22 – not doing that again.

I wouldn’t be 22 again for a million pounds – although part of the problem with being 22 was that I was poor as a church mouse who could well be the subject of a Children In Need style telethon event in which other church mice were being asked to donate. (“Just one dropping a month could save Daisy’s life.”) A million quid would have improved things significantly. But I don’t miss spending four nights out of seven smoking in the doorway of the now defunct Metro and then choosing between the vomity nightbus and the stabby nightbus. I don’t miss going out with boys that I spent hours analysing, analysis that invariably ended with a wailed “I just want to know whether we’re actually going out or not!” I don’t miss doing jobs that paid in fabulousness, and going out to swaggy parties covered in free glitter knowing I was over my overdraft and there was a good chance my debit card would get declined when I tried to top up my Oyster. And I don’t miss my fresh facedness. In my early twenties, I had yet to grow into myself. Plump, unlined, dewy skin is all well and good, but I looked like a MAC’d up Cletus The Slack Jawed Yokel. At 28, I don’t regard my unmade up face as a doughy horror show. I think that’s a little bit because age has defined my features, and a lot because I finally have some healthy perspective.

But I’m old enough to know that I’m no longer young enough to sleep in my make up. That it’s probably time for a bit of a regime change. The Roi de Laissez Faire may be pretty chilled out and undemanding as long as you keep everything clean and moisturised, but he’s not really up to the job in the long term. It’s time for Kaiser Knuckledown.

As a skincare term, anti-ageing puts the willies up me. It’s anti feminist. It’s why Prof Mary Beard was treated so appallingly. It’s a buzz phrase for an industry that sometimes seems bent on disrespecting our experience. It wants us unlined and unformed, for maximum sex appeal – which is a ridiculous idea, as anyone who has ever forced Susan Sarandon to stand next to Miley Cyrus will testify.

Then again, I don’t want my face to look like a relief map of the Lake District in 10 years. I don’t want to not age, ever. But if regular, gentle product application can keep everything smooth and supple, I’m going to do it. Which is why I have fallen on Radical Skincare like an ant discovering a melted Calyppo. It’s beautifully made, effective stuff for lazy people who are happy to spend a bit of money in order to look their age, to stop themselves panicking and spending thousands in order to look their shoe size in years to come.

Radical Skincare is a word of mouth, A-listery phenomenon founded by two sisters who were looking to do something for their rosacea and newly lined post pregnancy skin (That’s face skin – no giggling at the back.) And their father, a non cosmetic plastic surgeon, had a lab, and the space and expertise to help them develop something tailor made. And their friends loved it, and their friends loved it, and there was enough demand to develop the brand which has just launched in the UK. The surgery element sounds scary, but there’s a strong focus on antioxidants, and all the products are paraben free – it’s science and nature coming together like Hall and Oates.

Radical serum 200 8287301_fpx

I am in love with the Youth Infusion serum  – it’s a lightly scented, silkily textured insta-brightener that is absorbed by your skin faster than Mo Farah (if he were to temporarily take the form of liquid, a la Alex Mack). After three days, my skin tone is brighter, fresher and evened out. It’s as if I’ve been getting regular, sustained amounts of top level sleep – and I’m the worst sleeper in the world.

A hundred and twenty bucks is definitely the higher end of high end – you do get what you pay for with Radical, but if the bulk of your cash is for rent and gas bills and bailing out Wayward Old Uncle Aloysius, the range starts at £30 – and the Instant Revitalizing Mask(£40) is facial-in-a-bottle good. It crackles on your skin, which is slightly disconcerting but not unpleasant, like a very gentle Space Dust for the face. In three minutes, it delivers that smooth, rested, erm, revitalised look – you could swear in court that you’d been drinking spinach smoothies for a fortnight and the jury would be unanimously convinced.


If you’re in your late twenties or early thirties, and reluctant about dipping a toe in the anti ageing pool (you think you saw Cher’s old scab covered Elastoplast floating near the filter) the Radical On The Move set is a good way to start paddling. It includes miniature versions of their four best sellers – the serum, Restorative Moisture, Eye Revive Creme, Hydrating Cleanser and Age Defying Exfoliating Pads for £39. For the price of a two way Speedy Boarding upgrade, you could look like you spent two months at Bono’s place in Barbados without Bono being there.

Think of anti ageing as a bit of a due dilligence thing. You can’t stop yourself from growing up any more than King Canute can throw his hands up and halt the progress of a Splashdown wave machine. But a little care and attention now will pay off in the long run, like a pension. As long as you’re not getting skincare advice from Robert Maxwell, you’re going to be alright.

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