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Fashion,beauty and lifestyle for sassy over 40 women

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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.
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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Our skin care routines

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.
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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 


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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!
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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Makeup tips for younger 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.
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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Boots Restore and Renew

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.
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Saturday, 1 April 2017

A lip product you need to have!

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.
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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

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

Today (Tuesday 21 March) is National Fragrance Day and to celebrate, five lovely ladies are sharing with us the scents of their lives.
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Saturday, 4 March 2017

February Beauty Hits and Misses

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.
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Saturday, 25 February 2017

We need to talk about....feet


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.
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Thursday, 23 February 2017

Scented storage and 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.
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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Meet the Hollywood Browzer

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.
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Thursday, 9 February 2017

Eye cream and night cream: worth the cost?

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,
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Thursday, 2 February 2017

Lose 10 years with 5 simple make-up tricks

You can do wonderful things with make-up. Here are five simple tricks I use to turn back time.
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Tuesday, 24 January 2017

When your hands are 20 years older than your face

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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Friday, 20 January 2017

5 ways to radiant skin

If I was to envy young women for one thing, it would definitely be their skin: firm and peachy with no hint of wrinkles, shadows or pigmentation marks. As you get older, it becomes harder to replicate that gorgeous radiance. I have five key products I use when I'm looking less than radiant.
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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.
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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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Friday, 23 December 2016

The Decleor Advent calendar: how was it?


I've been a Decleor fan for years. I love their sublime facial oils and have found their products very effective. In recent years I haven't used their products quite as much so I decided to treat myself to the Decleor Advent calendar to see what's new.
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Friday, 16 December 2016

Remember these beauty products from the 70s and 80s?

I've been enjoying Sali Hughes' book "Pretty Iconic: A Personal Look at the Beauty Products that Changed the World". I am somewhat obsessed with finding the beauty products I grew up with, and it makes my day if they're still around today.
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