Is This Mutton?

All the things we love: clothes, beauty, accessories


Monday, 16 January 2017

In praise of pearls

The Is This Mutton? Definitive Guide to Pearls

Image from Pixabay showing woman in hat and pearls
It was Coco Chanel who decreed "a woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls." Lady Sarah Churchill, meanwhile, revealed: "I feel undressed if I don't have my pearls on. My pearls are my security blanket.”

Pearls are highly flattering against the skin, with the more expensive pearls casting a gorgeous light against the face.

We've probably all got pearls in one form of another. If we're lucky (and/or rich) they may be natural pearls. Or they may be cultured pearls, or finally, imitation pearls.

A pearl is a natural gem created by a living organism. When a foreign object is introduced into a mussel or oyster the animal coats the irritant with a substance called nacre, the same material with which it makes its shell. Layers of nacre build up to make a pearl.

The ideal pearl is perfectly round and smooth but there are seven other shapes too. The most valuable pearls occur spontaneously in the wild, but are extremely rare. These wild pearls are referred to as natural pearls. Nowadays, most wild, natural pearl producing oyster beds have vanished due to over-fishing, oil drilling and pollution.

Cultured or farmed pearls from pearl oysters and freshwater mussels make up the majority of those currently sold.

The weight of pearls is measured in units called the momme. Momme is a weight measure used by the Japanese for centuries. Today, momme weight is still the standard unit of measure used by most pearl dealers to communicate with pearl producers and wholesalers.

Cultured Pearls

It was a British biologist, William Saville-Kent, who developed the original process of pearl culture. Cultured pearls share the same properties as wild pearls. The difference is that a technician opens the shell and inserts the irritant which stimulates nacre production.

Seawater oysters have a round shell bead (traditionally from a freshwater mussel) grafted in as the irritant. Freshwater mussels have a small piece of mantle tissue (nacre producing tissue from another mussel) introduced as the irritant. This tissue desiccates leaving a solid pearl. Mussels are farmed in inland lakes and rivers.

Pearl colours

Pearls come in a variety of colours. Natural colours are mainly down to to the breed of mollusc. Other influences include diet, water temperature and pollutants. "Black" pearls are rarely black but blue, green, silver, grey, aubergine, copper, peacock and more. Green is the predominant colour. Naturally coloured black pearls come from the pearl farms of French Polynesia (Tahitian pearls) as well as Indonesia and the Philippines.

The price of pearls 

Jackie Kennedy's much-loved triple strand of glass pearls sold for over US$200,000 at auction in 1996. An identical replica set can be had for only US$99. In 1917 jeweller Pierre Cartier bought his company's Fifth Avenue headquarters in New York with $100 in cash and a two-strand natural pearl necklace valued at US$1 million. In 1957 the same necklace was auctioned for just US$157,000. Those were natural or wild pearls.

What pearls do you have?  

I have two ropes of cultured pearls which my mother has given me. They're both a graduated double row of pearls, very Princess Margaret, but need to be re-strung. I also have single row cultured pearl necklace and drop earrings from Mallorca and some large imitation pearls.

Image showing selection of cultured and imitation pearls
According to website The Pearl Market, my mother's pearls are sadly far more likely to be imitation than cultured pearls. It seems that a generation or two ago most people couldn't afford real pearls, so they wore fakes. You can get an idea from measuring the pearls. In the 1950's, 60's and 70's a typical size for cultured pearls was 4mm to 6mm. Graduated necklaces were popular - ranging from a central 7mm diameter pearl to 3mm pearls at the necklace ends. A necklace from this era with large pearls was either fake or vastly expensive.

I like the way large pearls can act as a dramatic focal point in a dark or plain coloured outfit.

Large faux pearls worn with navy blue
Skirt, Next, out of stock; velvet jacket, M&S, out of stock; kitten heel boots, M&S; silky roll neck jumper, Kettlewell Colours

Pearls in Fashion

Pearls have an unfair reputation nowadays of being mainly worn by "Sloaney" types (Princess Diana and Tiggy Legge-Bourke were prime examples) or the elderly. Occasionally they have a fashion moment: sometimes many long ropes of pearls is de rigeur, as seen on Rihanna below.

Jean Ghika, Head of Jewellery in the UK and Europe of Bonhams, which sells more jewellery than any other auction house, says: “We’ve seen a complete change in how pearls are viewed. A younger fashion set is now completely at home wearing classic pearl earrings, and you’re as likely to see them in nightclubs and premieres as you are at Ascot or the Epsom Derby.”

Rihanna wearing cascading ropes of pearls with Chanel logo

Demi Moore wearing varying ropes of pearls
Demi Moore

Celebrities and well-known figures such as Michelle Obama, Kate Middleton and Sarah Jessica-Parker have also helped to popularise the image of pearls.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in pearl necklace
The Duchess of Cornwall 

Let's Go Shopping

A long opera-length necklace can be worn in several ways. Knot them, wear them long or wear them looped around your neck. Below, Marilyn pearls by Pearls by Fleur, £95.

Brooches are back in fashion in 2017 and pearls are great for these:

Art Deco Style gold tone, faux pearl and diamante bar brooch is just £8.00 from PollysAntiques at Etsy.

If a pearl cuff or bracelet is more your thing, Accessorize have a pearl and crystal stretch bracelet for
just £10.
Multi strand pearl bracelet, £25.60  (currently reduced) from NotOnTheHighStreet.

Brides have always loved pearl jewellery. Pearls make beautiful headdresses and tiaras. 
Pearl headband, £90, TamarAndTalya at Etsy. 

Pearl headdress, £218.06, LavenderByJurgita at Etsy.
The 30th wedding anniversary is the Pearl. Most of the suggested gifts online are pretty hideous, but this mother-of-pearl photo frame from The White Company would be acceptable at £30.

So there you have it, my definitive guide to pearls. What pearls do you have? How do you wear them?

I'm linking this post to Not Dead Yet Style, Visible Monday and Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed And Stylish

Thursday, 12 January 2017

A new look for an old favourite: Lypsyl lip balm

New packaging 2017 of Lpysyl lip balm in seven new flavouursI have been a devotee of Lypsyl since I was at school. This much loved lip balm has been moisturizing the nation's lips since 1891. But it hasn't always been easy to buy. It's had a chequered history, several different owners and a varying presence in the high street. Sometimes it was impossible to find, although nowadays it's much easier to source online.

I'm pleased to see it has now been relaunched with a new range of seven delicately scented SPF balms.

For my US readers I'm not sure what relation UK Lypsyl has to US Lypsyl:  I see that the US product has entirely different packaging and varieties, claiming to date from 1905 and describing itself as "pure Swedish beeswax."

I recently reviewed several lip balms and Lypsyl (in the old original formula) performed just as well or even better as more expensive brands from Rodial and REN - here.

How would the new formulation fare?

The seven variants - one for each day of the week - are: Uplifting SPF15 Strawberry and Pomegranate; Revitalising SPF15 Cherry and Almond; Invigorating SPF15 Mint and Fennel;
Refreshing SPF15 Cucumber & Aloe; Sensual SPF15 Coconut & Almond; SPF15 The Original
SPF 50 with Vanilla and SPF15 The Original. They're all untinted.

New packaging of Lypsyl lip balm in seven flavours

Old original versus new original 

I have an "original original" from the bulk stash that I bought on Amazon, and I can see the ingredients have changed significantly. Lypsyl say they have added a rich, hydrating blend of natural shea and cocoa butters, avocado oil, beeswax, aloe vera and vitamin E. They claim that these proven high quality ingredients gently hydrate, soothe and smooth delicate lip skin.

The new formulations are softer and more greasy on the lips. The new flavours are pleasant, subtle and not too "in your face." The wide choice of flavours and the low price should make Lypsyl popular all over again with teens, even if the packaging is a little hum drum compared to Eos.  It lasted well and didn't leave a nasty bitty residue like some lip balms.

For me, the big test was original old (pictured below) versus original new. Original old had a unique taste and scent, very distinctive and long-lasting. It was so strong that it effectively scented the breath.

Old packaging of Lypsyl Original lip balm
Unfortunately, the new Original has virtually no taste or smell. Like all the new formulations it does go on softer and gives good moisturizing and shine. But it's a big miss - for me - that the distinctive taste has disappeared. It's likely to disappoint quite a few of Lypsyl's customer base because the reviews on Amazon are passionate about the original. 

That said, it's great to see Lypsyl back in the game with their low cost lip balm. At £1.89 for SPF15 and £4.99 for SPF50, you can afford to have one in every bag. Visit the UK website where you can become a Lypsyl VIP.
Sharing this post with Not Dressed As Lamb, #SaturdayShareLinkUp

Disclosure: I was gifted the new range to review.


Saturday, 7 January 2017

15 Health and diet tips from over-40s women like you

Banana and oranges representing healthy eating

It's the time of year when we're bombarded with diet articles, books and slimming DVDs from celebrities. Most of the diet methods contradict each other and there seems to be no agreement between health organisations and experts on what scientifically works best. Some experts are still saying that low fat is good. Others say sugar is the devil.

And in January there's also the general "New Year" hoo-ha around resolutions with people buying expensive gym memberships and only going  a few times.

How does all this diet and fitness "noise" affect us?  I spoke to five over-40s women to find out what they'll be doing differently, if anything, in 2017. There's a four-legged theme running through their exercise and they're all very savvy about eating good fats, their 5 helpings of fruit and vegetables a day, and avoiding sugar and other processed foods.

Kate Cooper, a former advertising executive and retailer, lives near Cannes in France. She ran her first marathon in London last year.

Image showing Kate Cooper
Kate Cooper 
This year, Kate will be running to maintain a general level of fitness. "I have been running distances of  4, 6, or 8 miles and would like to keep this up during 2017," she said. "On the days I don’t run I generally try to do a two mile hill walk."

Kate doesn't believe in crash diets and is a firm advocate of weighing yourself daily. "I find weight creeps on slowly so it will come off slowly if I tweak my regular food intake slightly.

"I weigh myself every day, so that at the first sign of weight change I can take action. I might have salad for dinner an extra few nights during the week or choose a lunch option that doesn’t include bread - fruit, soup or salad are good.  I also make sure I restrict the amount of protein to a few ounces, no more than four, of meat or fish. By choosing a strong cheese like Roquefort, which is full of flavour, I find 2ozs (/50gms)  is all I need on a salad."

Kate's top 3 tips for not putting on weight 

  1. Weigh yourself every day. Be sure to make a note of your measurements and weight at the start. I read once that you should maintain the weight you were in your mid 20’s for the rest of your life and that's what I aim for.
  2. Choose raw vegan meal options wherever possible. Not only are they lower in calories but they are also easy to digest and feel light on your stomach. Smoothies made from water and raw fruit are a delicious way of doing this at home. Try 1 banana, ¼ pineapple, ½ mango blitzed with 400ml of water and some ice cubes. 
  3. Practice delaying tactics if you feel hungry. Opt to eat after you have just done the ironing or cleaned the bathroom or taken the dog for a walk. The house gets cleaner and the dog is happier and you put off eating by distracting yourself.
Writer and magazine columnist Maddie Grigg, who lives in Dorset, is aiming to lose a few pounds in 2017. She said: "As a former skinny who was always a size 8 until I hit my late 30s, I would like to shed a few pounds. I had a small heart attack last summer as the Brexit results came through, so I need to increase my fitness. 

"I'll be walking more briskly and farther with the dog at the beginning and end of each day. I am also signing up to a private gym (oh, the horror!) with a swimming pool. I just need to improve my time management to make best use of my subscription."

Author and magazine columnist Maddie Grigg
Maddie Grigg 
She starts the day with hot water with lemon, honey and fresh ginger. Breakfast is porridge or Greek yoghurt with fresh fruit. For lunch Maddie has home made soup with no bread or salad with ham or egg. For dinner she has home-made mushroom risotto or stew with vegetables but no potatoes. At weekends she allows herself a glass of wine.

Maddie's 3 top tips: 

  1. Cut out bread
  2. Eat before 6.30pm
  3. Porridge for breakfast so I don’t feel hungry mid-morning.
Maddie's latest book, "Good Morning, Corfu" is available from Amazon. 

Blogger Samantha Blair from Fake Fabulous
Samantha Blair 
Blogger and scientist Samantha Blair, who lives in Scotland, is, like Kate,  another non-believer in diets. "They just promote self-loathing, obsession with food and misery. If I have put on a few pounds (I put on 6 over Christmas) I simply eat less and try to avoid eating too many crisps and biscuits.  I would never think that I could not eat something I wanted, or feel bad about it."

Samantha's fitness regime involves walking a dog  (seeing a theme develop?) and housework.

Samantha's 3 top tips:

  1. Food is not the enemy, it is one of life’s great pleasures… make friends with food.
  2. If you want it, eat it… just don’t eat a ton of it!
  3. Don’t drink fizzy juice. Full sugar or diet, it doesn’t matter, they are both so bad for you. The sugar filled drinks make you lay down fat (sugar is much worse for you than fat) and the non-sugar versions trick your body into thinking it’s getting sugar and messes up your insulin. 

PR professional Orietta Sutherberry
Orietta Sutherberry
PR professional Orietta Sutherberry, from Wiltshire, has a go-to regime when she needs to lose a few pounds and it's the wisdom of Elle McPherson's trainer, James Duigan. "I like his book Clean and Lean. The focus is on healthy, organic, fresh food avoiding sugar, caffeine, alcohol and processed food."

Orietta goes to the gym or yoga four times a week and for 2017 is considering adding a dance class plus some meditation.  

A typical day's eating for Orietta would be: scrambled eggs for breakfast; a salad for lunch with quinoa, tomatoes and avocado and an olive oil dressing;  an afternoon snack of two oatcakes with hummus or smoked salmon, and for dinner, oven baked salmon and roasted veg.

Orietta's 3 top tips:

  1. Regular exercise (2 or 3 times a week), 
  2. Good quality protein and veg and regular meals!
  3. No snacking in between meals

Sue Ali 
Sue Ali, owner of the UK's first Endermospa, situated in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, is a firm believer in eating little and often.  For her, five small meals a day works. Sue has a diet crammed full of monounsaturated fats: olive oil, nuts, salmon and avocado. She avoids caffeine and drinks water with cucumber or lemon. 

Sue's fitness schedule involves reformer Pilates and Power Plate for toning and muscle resistance. For 2017 she plans to do more HIT (high-intensity training) and also to take more time out for herself to enjoy treatments such as the ones she offers, and reading.

Sue's 3 top tips:

  1. Get active. Get more exercise to burn calories.
  2. Cut back on treats.
  3. Avoid food/drink where there are too many "hidden" calories from sugar, such as fizzy drinks and rice cakes.

Beauty Tips

I had to ask these five fabulous women for their beauty tips and resolutions too. For Samantha and Sue, it's all about the cuticles and hands.  Samantha is keen to try facial massage with coconut oil, and to look after her nails a little better with cuticles oil. 

Sue will be applying hand cream more often and has a hot recommendation which is The Chemistry Brand's HA3 hand hydrator, £6.99 from Boots. 

Kate recently went to a brow bar for the first time and is a convert. She said: "I discovered a product for making your eyelashes and eyebrows grow, Damone Roberts Brow Gain. I am definitely going to try it this year; along with regular visits to the brow bar to keep my brows in shape and tinted." 

Orietta is also trying out a product that claims to make eyelashes grow. "I'm trying a lash potion right now, to make eyelashes grow longer and thicker, and it works! Ramping up the exfoliation too and using serums both day and night."

Maddie has recently been introduced to MAC by her son's girlfriend and she's now thinking about experimenting a bit more. "Maybe this year I’ll go for a brighter lipstick and nail varnish but, first, I must have a manicure. I've never had one in my life, always thought it self-indulgent."

Sharing this post with Not Dressed As Lamb and the #SaturdayShareLinkUp

Have you any tips of your own you would like to add? 


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Fun with faux fur

Brown faux fur scarf worn over shoulder of black jacket

 I was thrilled to receive a faux fur stole for Christmas. It's ideal for draping over a shoulder and securing with a belt. Here I'm wearing it with a black jacket, black polo neck jumper, felted brooch of a Herdy (Herdwick sheep, found in the Lake District) and a grey skirt with asymetrical hem, plus my "mean" pointy black ankle boots. The scarf is the same colour, more or less, as my hair!

Brown faux fur scarf, Marks & Spencer (out of stock), black polo neck, Next (past season); black MaxMara jacket, past season; Herdy brooch, Moor End Felts; boots, unknown (have had them for years). Skirt, Laura Ashley, out of stock but similar here.
Brown Mreks and Spencer faux fur scarf worn with black jacket

I also tried the fur stole with a green jacket, brown trousers and gold boots - but I think it looks better with the black ensemble.

Green jacket, Zara, past season; gold boots, Office (out of stock, similar here); brown trousers, Marks and Spencer, out of stock but similar here.
Green Zara cropped jacket worn with brown faux fur stole
I love faux fur and this hat, bought when I lived in Munich in 2000/20001, is the only leopard print item I've ever owned.  You get a nice close-up of Herdy too. I don't have many hats (why not?!) but I love the way Judith at Style Crone makes hats such a key part of her outfits and I was itching to join her Hat Attack link up, so here we are!
Image showing Gail Hanlon Is This Mutton in leopard print hat

What is your favourite faux fur buy, or your most memorable (good or bad?).

Sharing this post with Style Crone, #HatAttack42 ; Style Me Wednesday at Shopping My Closet and #MyRefinedStyle hosted by NotDeadYetStyle.

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Sunday, 1 January 2017

Wearing Green in 2017

Green is this year's trendy colour  (see my post on 2017 predictions) and the good news is, there's a green shade that suits everyone.

The Pantone shade "greenery" is a ferny sort of green, not the type I would normally wear. I prefer Kelly, emerald green or the yellowy pistachio.  Which greens do you normally veer towards? Those will probably be the shades that suit you most.

Green goes very well with pink on the opposite side of the colour wheel. If that seems a bit too daring as an outfit, choose a couple of pink highlights - a scarf, bag or shoes. In the photo above I've added pink with my lipstick. I like green with navy or black for corporate wear.  The yellowy pistachio shade, below, looks fab with silver. 

Here are some of my green outfits - Boden have traditionally offered some good green choices - plus some new green arrivals available to buy now, below.

Boden green dress on 40 something woman

Dress: Boden, reduced now but sold out for sizes below 16;  shoes, Next, sold out - similar here;  tights, Next; necklace, Justine at Etsy.

Green jumper and skirt from Boden with Next flat green shoes

Jumper and skirt, Boden (past season); shoes Next (sold out)
Green coat from Marks and Spencer with navy trousers and burgundy boots

Coat and  navy trousers Marks and Spencer (past season), boots Zara (past season)


Friday, 30 December 2016

The Trends for 2017: Year of the Rooster

Picture of hydrangea paniculata Vanilla Fraise
Hydrangea Paniculata Vanilla Fraise: copyright

2016 was a tumultuous year and one that many of us will be glad to see the back of.  I'm always intrigued to hear what the predictions  are for the new year in terms of fashion, food and general prosperity. Here's my summary of trends for 2017 including flowers, fashion, colours and food.

Year of the Rooster

From Jan 28 we are in the Chinese Year of the Rooster. The Rooster is the sign of dawn and awakening. Triumph and success can only be achieved at the price of hard work and patience in 2017.

Green the Colour to be Seen In 

The influential Pantone Colour Institute were bang on with their predictions for 2016 of rose quartz and serenity: the rose pink and tranquil blue tones were everywhere, even if the supposed "soothing sense of order and peace" represented by the colours was absent.

For 2017, Pantone predict we will be in the green:  their shade Greenery will be all around us. This is good news for those who love green (myself included). It represents the colour of life, renewal, nature and energy, along with meanings of growth, harmony, freshness, safety, fertility, and environment. Green is also traditionally associated with money, finances, banking, ambition, greed, jealousy, and Wall Street.

The Fashion Trends

2016 was the year of the bomber jacket and the 2017 jacket will be a white blazer, apparently. They're in some of the hot new collections and style mavens like Alexa Chung and Emmanuelle Alt, editor of French Vogue, have been seen in them.  Below: Marella FENNEC longline collarless blazer from House of Fraser. 

The top handle bag will replace the cross-body bag. These are small bags which the trendy use without a strap. Below: Givenchy's's medium Antigona tote from Selfridges. 

Other trends on the horizon include the shirtdress, a looser tunic style designed to be worn with tights and ankle boots while the weather is cold, and then trainers or sandals in summer. 

Thankfully the puffer coat will be old hat  (do they flatter anyone) and the trench coat will be reinvented. Preen have a gingham version and Burberry's classic gaberdine had leopard-print sleeves. 

In The Garden

Madonna will hate this one but apparently hydrangeas will be big news this year.  I have always loved the paniculata varieties of later flowering hydrangeas rather than the mop head types. One of my favourites is vanilla fraise, pictured, top. I would love to see a Chelsea Flower Show that brings back cottage garden flowers like hollyhocks, delphiniums, love-in-the-mist. Personally, I am so over "prairie planting",  grasses, and all those clashing hot garden pinks and oranges.

Snack Atttack

Golden milk lattes will seduce us with their turmeric, celebrated for its anti-inflammatory properties. I find it works very well, although not in tablet or pill form  (which was validated by a recent study).  I add turmeric to home-made soups and drink turmeric and coconut tea.  It really helps with aching joints, particularly if you can't take ibuprofen.

Vegetable yoghurt is supposed to be the Next Big Thing. Varieties such as carrot, beetroot and sweet potato have proved an unexpected hit in the US and will soon be making a mark in Britain, according to Waitrose in its annual food and drink trends report.

Meanwhile pok√©,  Hawaii’s answer to sushi, is predicted by Waitrose to be the must-eat snack of 2017. 

Hawaiian poke on rice

The interiors trend for marble is creeping into food, too. Expect to see marbled icing, meringues and macaroons all over Instagram, made by bakers such as the Meringue Girls, aka Alex Hoffler and Stacey O’Gorman. 

Marbled meringues from The Meringue Girls
Marbled meringues: copyright Meringue Girls

Retro Drinks

Gin and different botanical variations was hot in 2016 and I'm glad to see that sherry will be becoming trendy in 2017  (I've been predicting this for a while). Trendy cocktail bars are adding dry types of sherry to their concoctions. Alternatives to prosecco, such as Pignoletto from Italy and Cava from Spain, will be joyfully guzzled.


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Lip balms on trial

The one thing that most of us cannot do without is a lip balm. I'm always buying different ones, particularly if I'm out and find I don't have one on me. Winter makes my lips even more prone to dryness and cracking so a good lip balm is essential.

I rate a lip balm on three factors: 
  1. Does it moisturize and give a nice sheen to the lips? 
  2. Does it last on the lips or fade within minutes? I find that some lip balms, when they fade, leave a nasty residue, a "bittiness" on the lips.
  3. Does it taste good?
I rounded up my lip balms and found 8, two of which were free gifts in magazines. I've put them on trial and the verdict is in.

One of the more expensive ones at £17.00 for 7ml. I had a generous 10ml tube as a free sample in a magazine. Quite a strong rose flavour and smell. Gives a good glossy finish and camouflages lip lines (this must be the "3D filling spheres"!). It lasted for about an hour and disappeared in a clean way. Score: 4 out of 5. 

£3.49 for 15ml.
Picked this one up at Waitrose (as you do) as I had read a lot about the hydrating qualities of argan oil. A bit cloying and sticky on the lips. Score: 2 out of 5.

£1.50 from Tesco and other outlets
Ah, Lypsyl. Everyone of a certain age will remember this one. I see from the website it has a new formulation and comes in different varieties, but the one I have is described as the original and I buy them in bulk at Amazon. I absolutely love Lypsyl. It has a very distinctive taste and smell and sweetens the breath.  It's instantly hydrating and comforting on the lips and has good lasting power. When it does disappear, it does so without becoming sticky or leaving a weird after residue. Score: 4 out of 5, 

£4.49 from Holland and Barrett.
This one is in a category all of its own for tasting and smelling absolutely delicious. It reminds me somehow of a lovely cake. I used to keep it in the car so I could apply it at times of stress on the M25. Gives a nice sheen to the lips and lasts about two hours before doing a good disappearing act. Score: 3 out of 5

£1.99 from Boots
Nivea have long had lip balms in various permutations. This one is a big disappointment.  It doesn't really give your lips any colour and the flavour is very synthetic. It disappears quite fast and leaves an unpleasant residue on the lips. Score:1 out of 5,

£12 for 15ml from outlets including Space NK
This started as a nipple balm, as its name would suggest, but mothers were using it on their lips too. It's a multi purpose balm you can use anywhere. It's similar to Vaseline, gloopy, waxy and unpleasant tasting. I wouldn't wear it outdoors on any day where there was wind because your hair gets plastered to your lips. It's OK for wearing overnight. It gives a good glossy finish and lasts a few hours. The website is fun. Score: 2 out of 5.

£9 for 15ml from outlets including Space NK, Marks and Spencer
I believe this was another free gift. It has a slightly weird taste. Imparted a good shine but didn't give such a smooth lip as the Rodial.

Clarins Instant Comfort Lip Comfort Oil
I remember reading about the launch of this and trying several times to buy it, only to be told it was out of stock. When I finally got my hands on it I found it a big disappointment.  It's quite a thick oil with an unpleasant taste, and as it fades away it leaves a sticky residue.  Unpleasant.  1 out of 5.

Which is your favourite lip balm, and do you disagree with any of my findings?

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