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Fashion,beauty and lifestyle for sassy over 40 women


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Beauty: exploring HA masks and rose and violet delights

We need more rose! Is This Mutton? reviews Argan Moroccan Rose day cream
This month I've been trying another hyaluronic acid face mask, a rose scented day cream from the supermarket, the Marks and Spencer Summer Box and two products I'd never thought of trying - mainly because I perceive them as "too cheap"!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Look younger with better posture

Age is no barrier to having great posture. Just look at actresses Felicity Kendal, Joanna Lumley and Cherie Lunghi
What do these fantastic ladies - actresses Felicity Kendal, (left) Joanna Lumley and Cherie Lunghi (right) have in common?

Excellent posture.

I think all three ladies have either danced or practiced Pilates most of their lives, and it shows.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Can you lose your double chin with this face mask?

The ChinUp mask components. It's claimed you will lose at least two centimetres around the chin and jawline.
It takes a bit of effort to get rid of a double chin. Dieting and/or exercising the face or, for faster results, liposuction or Coolsculpting.

But now an intriguing product called ChinUp Mask claims to provide instant, visible results in 30 minutes that last on average 2-3 days.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

June Beauty Review

Quite a few products to discuss this month! Had a nice haul from deluxe French brand Darphin - and found a really GREAT blue mascara which you may have overlooked, thinking it's for teenagers.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Eight hacks for better nails

Eight hacks for better nails: article published on Is This Mutton?
Hands up if you would like better nails! Are your nail weak and flaky, and your cuticles dry and ragged? If so, join the club. Years ago, I had good nails and loved wearing nail polish. But after a five year period of wearing acrylic nails in the late 90s, my nails were never the same.

I made a New Year's resolution I was going to try to improve my nails this year. Tricky question was how. I have always used a cuticle conditioner oil or cream, every day; I eat a diet quite high in protein (said to be good for nails) and I always wear rubber gloves in the kitchen.

But I looked into other ways of improving my nails, and they are definitely looking better. Here's the "Before," three months ago:
The "before" shot in Is This Mutton's? article on how to improve your nails with eight simple hacks
The nails were very flaky and would split into layers as soon as they started to grow. They were forever snagging on things. I've always had a tendency to pull at my cuticles and so they are quite thick around the base of the nail, and dry. The nails had longitudinal ridges.

I took a step back and analysed how I treat my hands and nails. When I'm on holiday, and particularly in the sun, my nails improve hugely. So I guessed that hard work was part of the problem. I was using very hot water, albeit with rubber gloves on, for kitchen chores. I was constantly washing my hands using those cheap £1 anti-bacterial hand washes. And in the garden, I used to abandon my gardening gloves to do "precision work" like weeding.


1. Find a good nail strengthener 

I've tried a number of nail strengthening products in the past. Laurie from Vanity and Me recommended Seche Vite top coat, and I discovered they have a product called Perfect Nail Rebuild. It doesn't seem to be on sale in the UK but I got it on Amazon for £8.73. I use this once a week. It gives a clear glossy finish like a top coat, but actively makes the nails stronger and less likely to break. I've been very pleased with it.

2. Use a good quality hand wash

I ditched the £1 bottles of hand wash and upgraded to Argan Moroccan Rose hand wash from Waitrose. It's still under five pounds, smells divine, and more importantly, doesn't dry out my hands and nails.

3. Leave hand cream everywhere

I was useless with hand cream. I have lots of tubes of it, but despite good intentions, was hardly ever using it. So now I keep it in several places: the bathroom, the kitchen, the office, handbags - and apply whenever I get the chance! I have a couple of favourites including L'Occitane Amande, but really, any hand cream is good provided you keep applying it and like the smell and texture.

4. Buy plastic gloves for gardening and other "precision" tasks

My husband buys in bulk those thin plastic blue gloves, and these are wonderful for weeding in the garden and drive, and protecting your hands when doing precision work that may be dirty. You can get a hundred pairs for just over five pounds on Amazon.

5. Don't use boiling water for kitchen chores

I thought rubber gloves protected me, but I was wrong. Hot water (not boiling hot) is fine.

6. Filing and buffing

When my nails were bad, I was having to file them every day because it seemed the edges were always rough and snagging on things. I use emery boards, which are always better than metal nail files, and tried to file in one direction only, but still had the problem. Since my nails improved, thanks to Rebuild, they are not so rough edged. But I am still careful with how I file them.

Buffing weakens the surface of the nail, so if your nails are already weak, don't do it.

7. Cuticle Care

I still apply cuticle cream every day - it really makes a difference. I like Sally Hansen's Healthy Cuticles Now. I am trying very hard not to pull at loose skin, or snip away with the scissors. Soaking the fingers in warm water with olive oil for a few minutes, and then gently pushing back the cuticles, helps to stop the cuticle "sticking" to the nail bed. 

8. What to eat for good nails

Years ago the advice was always to eat jelly cubes! Do you remember? Nowadays we're told to eat foods rich in vitamins B, found in lean meat, whole grains and dairy produce; iron, found in high quantities in red meat; zinc found in lean meats, shell fish and whole grains, and vitamin A which can be found in oily fish, orange/yellow and deep green vegetables. 

9. Use good quality products for your manicure

Try to avoid those big cheap bottles of nail polish remover and go for those free of acetone. Look for products that contain aloe vera and vitamin E. Always use a base coat, particularly if you're using dark or brightly coloured polishes which may stain your nails  (I use the Rebuild product as a base coat if I'm applying nail polish on top). Finish off with a top coat to help preserve your manicure.

My nails now 

The "after" shot in Is This Mutton's article on how to improve your nails: eight simple hacks
There's still room for improvement but they are not so weak now: they have started growing without splitting, and the cuticles are less ragged. The ridges are sometimes hereditary, so if your mother has them, chances are you will too. But I find they improve whenever I use Rebuild or basecoat.

Sharing this post with Catherine at Not Dressed As Lamb, #SaturdayShareLinkUp, and Rena at Fine Whatever.


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Sunday, 28 May 2017

May Beauty Round-Up

Three of the beauty products for May 2017 reviewed by Is This Mutton?
 This month I'm looking at a bronzer designed for mature skin, a vitamin C serum, a two-in-one shampoo and conditioner, and a hand wash which is helping to improve my nails.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Our skin care routines

Four women in their 40s and 50s talk about their skincare regimes, including Rebecca Lodge, the vlogger behind Rougepout.
What gets us started on the beauty trail, and how do the women in our lives influence our skincare choices?

I've been finding out from four women who were happy to spill the beans on their skincare habits.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Take the years off with a new hairstyle

Gail Hanlon, blogger, with new choppier hair cut and colour
It's easy to get into a rut with your hair. I know all too well. From the age of 15 through most of my adult life, I sported a medium length wavy style which I called "the revised mullet" because it required no fancy styling or products. It was very wash and go. I didn't use a dryer.

Before the age of 15, there was the dreaded feather cut, but let's draw a veil over that.

There were a few flirtations over the years with short, bobbed or permed styles, and I even had some some hair extensions in 1990, way before they were popular. But I always came back to the revised mullet.

I then met Jodie, who had a tiny salon tucked away in a local shopping arcade. I saw an ad in a local paper about her new salon, saying she was Toni and Guy trained, and as I like to use local businesses, I went along for a cut n blow dry.

Jodie gave me the bob style which I've had since 2013. It became increasingly blonder over time, although like any good hairdresser, Jodie wouldn't let me go too far lest it become crispy and frazzled.

I liked my bob: it was easy to manage, as long as I blow dried it  (leaving it to dry naturally, as I did with the "revised mullet" meant it stuck out at weird angles).

Jodie fulfilled her dream of opening her own salon, Mustard & Co. She has a talented team and they often take part in competitions, and are constantly taking courses to keep skills up-to-date. Jodie's salon was one of the first to start selling the luxurious brand Davines from Italy, and now all their hair colourants are from Davines: no parabens, sulphates and other nasties.

Jodie got in touch with me recently and suggested an edgier style might look good, particularly with all my fashion blogging (or as my husband calls it, parading around in the garden in silly poses).

I had to agree: I was wondering if my hair was a bit too helmet or Theresa May-like, and when I wore "boho florals" someone suggested my hair was totally unsuitable for the genre. The "before" shot is below.
The "before" shot of the hair transformation of Gail Hanlon, blogger from Is This Mutton?
I'm thrilled with the outcome and never had so many positive comments on Instagram and FB! Someone suggested it takes 10 years off. Happy with that! As it's shorter around the ears, I can even wear earrings now that might be seen. But a shorter cut does need a bit more effort in terms of makeup. Here's the back view:
Image showing the back view of the new hairstyle of Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton?
I washed it myself a little nervously, as you always wonder if it will look as good as when the salon does it, and I didn't even have to use a hairdryer. It dried very quickly and I was able to "flick up" the side bits, a bit like Lulu, and it looked fine. I forgot to buy the pomade that Jodie used (less drying and less defining than gel or powder - which is good as I don't like too much "definition" in case it looks scruffy) but will go back and get some.

There are quite a few bloggers whose hair I admire: Jennie from A Pocketful of Polka Dots, and Debbie from Fashion Fairy Dust, as I love the colour of their hair.  I love the chic styles of Jane from My Midlife Fashion, Judith from Style Crone (unbelievably in her 70s) and Mandy from Fashion Unfolded By Mandy.
If you're thinking about having a new style, I've put together a Hairstyles board on Pinterest. There are short, medium and long styles, and styles for fine and thick hair.

Finally, consider hair pieces or wigs. The lovely Nisha at SugarPuffAndFluff has a number of videos on wigs, reviews and how to put them on. For hair extensions, back in 1990 I went to a lady called Lucinda Ellery who has now become very well-known for the hair loss systems she creates and designs. She now has salons in salons in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Bristol, Solihull and  Los Angeles and New York.

I've compiled a montage of some of my hair looks over the years - some v bad! Check it out at my Facebook page.

What was the worst hair style you ever had?  Do share!


For more Mutton follow my blog on Bloglovin and receive a weekly email on my updates. Don't miss "shoe of the day" on the Is This Mutton? Facebook page. And check out the Is This Mutton? Pinterest boards. 


Sunday, 30 April 2017

April beauty round-up

Every woman needs a good antioxidant oil. Image shows Mad Hippie's

This month's star product is undoubtedly Mad Hippie's Antioxidant Oil. I've tried many oils but never found "The One" until Mad Hippie. This oil is miraculous!

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Makeup tips for younger eyes

Is This Mutton's tips for using makeup to take the years off your eyes
The girl above has beautiful eyes and we can see she is not very old. Unfortunately eyes are one of the first places to show our age - why else do celebrities wear sunglasses so often?- and even if we're relaxed about growing older, it can be exasperating to see folds of loose skin, crepey lids and crow's eyes which become strobed with concealer as the day goes on.

There are surgical options of course, including eye bag removal (blepharoplasty) and brow lift. If you're thinking of going down that road, do your research and pay top price for best results.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Boots Restore and Renew

Is Thois Mutton? looks at the Boots Restore and Renew serum
The PR team at Boots will be high-fiving themselves today after achieving the impossible: two editorial stories in a national daily about the launch of a new face cream.

As any marketer will tell you, editorial, ie, non-paid-for coverage, is the Holy Grail, and to achieve it you must have a strong story, a world first or huge breakthrough, underpinned by research.

But if you read the small print, Boots have only tested this product on 100 women. They have refused to allow the data to be assessed by an independent dermatologist. This is qualitative research, or as I prefer to call it, "PR research" because it isn't rigorous or meaningful.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

A lip product you need to have!

Is This Mutton's review of beauty products bought in March including a wonderful lip balm from Jouer
I've been shopping the French pharmacy brands. A French reader pointed out last month, when I wrote about a Vichy product I was using, that these brands are very common in France and have never really crossed her radar.  I tend to feel that way about Olay and Garnier. I've never liked any of their skincare products. They just don't seem luxurious (or effective) to me. But Vichy and La Roche-Posay seem to be a happy hybrid in middle-ranking, price wise, products.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The scents of our lives: it's National Fragrance Day

Image showing perfume bottles to illustrate article for National Fragrance Day 2017 on Is This Mutton?
Today (Tuesday 21 March) is National Fragrance Day and to celebrate, five lovely ladies are sharing with us the scents of their lives.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

February Beauty Hits and Misses

Decleor Aroma Clense 3 in 1 smoothing and cleansing mousse and M&S Autograph cream blusher are among the products tested by Is This Mutton? in February 2017
Here's my round-up of beauty products from Feb that I loved, and some that I didn't like. First the winners, above.

February's best products

  • Decléor Aroma Cleanse 3 in 1 hydra-radiance, smoothing and cleansing mousse. I wasn't expecting to find something to rival Emma Hardie's Moringa Cleansing Balm, which I love, but I liked a sample of the Decléor product and was persuaded to buy the full size product. You simply add a little water to a pearl of the white cream and it immediately turns into a thick foam, and is very easy to rinse or wipe off. It leaves the skin nicely moisturized and healthy looking.
  • I'd never been tempted to try the Rosie for Autograph beauty range at M&S until I read a positive review  in the Sunday Times which encouraged me to try the Cream Blusher and Lip Shine.  How would the cream blusher fare against Hourglass Ambient blusher, which has been my go-to blusher for months? Quite well, although the Hourglass blusher stays true longer. I chose the cream blusher in romantic flush. I thought it would probably be very sheer but it's highly pigmented so I had to remove some. A nice flush but it doesn't last as long as the Hourglass.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

We need to talk about....feet

How to get the beautiful feet in the photo - tips on how to deal with some of the issues that ageing presents
For a long time I didn't get why older women were forever groaning about their feet and saying they could no longer wear high heels.

Surely, I rationalized, feet are our one true friend in that they stay the same size all our lives?

Well, I've been boning up on feet (sorry!) and it seems my ideas were all wrong.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Scented storage and perfume memories

To celebrate National Fragrance Day 2017, Is This Mutton's Gail Hanlon recalls her perfume memories

Part 1 of a new series on Perfume

The Perfume Society is keen to learn how we store our precious scents. On an art deco dressing table, perhaps? Or on a trolley, or in a glass cupboard? My solution is less prosaic: in a large shoe box under the bed.

Unusually for me, I have not been a great keeper of perfumes. It's a fairly recent development that I kept both the scent (even if I had stopped liking it) and the box.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Meet the Hollywood Browzer

Review of the Hollywood Browzer hair removal tool

The "Must Have" tool to sort out those pesky facial hair issues 

Hands up if you've ever wished there was an easy way of dealing with "peach fuzz", that undesirable aura of fine down that grows over our cheeks and along the jawbone.  Most of the time it's just there and not causing a problem, but sometimes in bright sunshine it's very obvious.

Then there's hair above the lip.....and hairs in the sideburns area that look untidy when you want to put your hair up.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Eye cream and night cream: worth the cost?

Review of 5 new beauty products by Is This Mutton?
I used to have creams and lotions for literally every area of my face and body, but about a year ago I began to doubt whether all these dedicated products are worth it. I started multi-tasking with a few key products. I used my facial moisturizer in the eye area and on the neck, replacing two other products, and stopped using night cream altogether, just occasionally using a facial oil,

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Lose 10 years with 5 simple make-up tricks

Is This Mutton's guide to losing 10 years with 5 simple makeup tricks
You can do wonderful things with make-up. Here are five simple tricks I use to turn back time.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

When your hands are 20 years older than your face

Image showing beautiful hands. What can we do if our hands look 20 years older than our face? Some tips from Is This Mutton?
I'm in good company with this one: both Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker suffer from the same affliction.
There are four reasons why our hands can age faster than the rest of our face - and it's not just failure to apply hand cream:
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