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Fashion and beauty for sassy over 40 women


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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,

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.

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:

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.

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.

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?


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.

Costing £60, there's a good selection of different products and a couple of them are good sizes for travel use (50 ml) rather than just being a sample size.

I put a high premium on "comfortable skin."  I don't have sensitive skin but I find a lot of products, particularly those with chemicals and acids  (AHAs, retinol and the like) very harsh and drying. Natural products can be equally to blame with high concentrations of active ingredients. But I've always found Decleor's products gentle and easy to wear.

Stand out product

I rediscovered what an amazing product the neroli oil is. Makeup artists often use it on models after long flights:  it re-hydrates and also reduces inflammation and redness. I was also impressed with the Aromessence Iris rejuvenating oil serum. I'm saving the Aurabsolu intense glow awakening cream and Proloagene Lift wrinkle filler for a big night out. I was keen to try Aromessence Mandarine and Aroma Lisse energising smoothing cream  (Decleor recommends using them together) as they're new to me and aimed at reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles. I didn't notice an improvement in that respect, but they left my skin nicely hydrated and smooth.

Today's window revealed a Hydra Floral BB cream which was a surprise as I didn't know Decleor made make-up products.  Will be intrigued to try it.

Body Products

Decleor's body products are lovely. The Aroma Cleanse toning shower and bath gel has a zingy, invigorating fragrance guaranteed to wake you up. Smooth the 1000 Grain Body Exfoliator over your limbs before you shower and then rinse it off. Skin is left silky and smooth. Aroma Comfort moisturising body milk gives skin a nice glow and the hydration effect lasts for hours.

I was a bit bemused by the two 5ml bottles of body oils because it hardly seems enough for an arm.

Was it worth £60?

All in all I'm very happy with what the little windows have revealed, and will definitely be buying some of these products as keepers.  It's a good value calendar, filled with high-quality products, and you can certainly never go wrong with Decleor.


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.

It was great reading Sali's recollection of products like the Toni home perm (I remember the Tweeny Twink too, which had a lot to answer for); Rimmel's best selling lipstick heather shimmer - I remember wearing damson shimmer -  and Sun In.

Sali is probably too young to remember: Flicker ladies' razor, Anne French cleansing milk and Glow 5 mask, and some forgotten perfumes.

Others I've since remembered, which weren't in Sali's book, are Bergasol, which used ads featuring two models, one very pale and the other a deep sun tanned brown  (you can still get a reformulated Bergasol, shipped from France, at Amazon, and it is very good); Henara henna powder, which came in a drum and was a dry powder that you used with water instead of dye on your hair, and Harmony hair colourants, semi permanent colour in a tube.

70s ad for Bergasol sun lotion

60s ad for Harmony semi permanent hair colourant


Tuesday, 13 December 2016


The winner of my Christmas giveaway beauty bag is @vanityandmeblog

You should get the bag before Christmas. Thanks for entering!


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Christmas beauty giveaway!

I've put together a dreamy bag full of brand new, unopened samples from many cult brands, and it'll go to the first comment selected at random on Dec 13, midday GMT.

It's got everything you need for a big night out: cleanser, hair conditioners; body scrub; face treatments; a body lotion; fake tan; eye shadows and products to remove it all before you go to bed. List below.

For your chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment (not anonymous) saying which of the products you would most like to try. 

Happy to ship abroad!

Is This Mutton dot com Christmas beauty competition prize

Good luck and share the love with your friends.

The bag itself

What's in the bag?
Decleor Hydra Floral light cream, 15ml
Decleor Micellar Oil 5ml
Lancome Energie de Vie 5ml: smoothing and glow boosting liquid care
Ouai hair treatment masque
Sanctuary Ultimate Salt Scrub 60g
Benefit They're Real! remover
January Labs restorative tonic mist 30ml: alcohol free toner that minimizes the appearance of pores and prevents breakouts. Designed to tone, rehydrate, and balance all skin types.
Omorovicza Ultramoor Mud Mask: transform skin’s appearance in just a few minutes with this flash-lifting anti-ageing mud mask.
Inika mineral eye shadow, gunmetal: vegan pure and vibrant mineral eyeshadow, pigment-rich, that will last all day.
Nudestix Magnetic eye color, angel: über long wearing eye shadow pencil that highlights, provides intense luminous colour, precise lining and primes lids for all day wear.
Lypsyl original lip balm
Emma Hardie Protect & Prime sachet: light weight, non-greasy skin protecting and priming cream with a broad spectrum sun protection SPF30,
Frederic Fekkai Protein Rx hair repair strengthener: treatment that mends brittle damaged hair.
Sienna X instant bronzing gel
Australian Bodycare tea tree oil hair conditioner: detangles and restores natural lustre leaving hair manageable and healthy.
Weleda evening primrose age revitalizing body lotion: firms and increases skin elasticity
Melvita argan oil for face or hair

Terms and conditions can be found here.


Thursday, 10 November 2016

Beauty heroes: Hair products

My approach to hair is low maintenance. I've never been able to successfully use electrical styling products or even create fancy up do's or buns when my hair was long. I want products that deliver shine and manageability.

Here are my four hero products. For washing and conditioning I like to use products that are parabens and sulphate free, but not so worthy they don't work. I'm afraid I don't like products that don't foam up in that reassuring way. And as my hair is highlighted, I like to use products that protect the colour. I've found that spending more on shampoo and conditioner is not a false economy. I've tried other cheaper products for colour protection but they don't work as well as the Pureology range. I use the Perfect 4 Platinum shampoo and conditioner.  My highlights stay buttery, right through to renewal time, and my hair has volume and is manageable.

A deep conditioning treatment

When I have time, I like to use a deep conditioning product.  My hairdresser sells the luxurious Italian range Davines and I love the Minu Illuminating and Regenerating Mask for Coloured hair, £18.50 at Cult Beauty. Apply it to damp hair, comb through with your Tangle Teazer and leave it to work for 10-15 minutes. It makes me hair silky smooth but not so slippery I can't style it. And it smells gor-juss.

Blow dry primer 

I'm not keen on mousses - find they dry the hair. Redken's Pillow Proof blow dry express primer is my choice, It somehow reduces the time that a blow dry takes, and protects hair from the blast of the dryer. Currently at the reduced price of £13.60 at Look Fantastic

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Saturday, 5 November 2016

Latest beauty heroes: face

My beauty heroes change quite often. I rarely buy a second bottle! But I made an exception for four of the products shown here, so they must be good.

First up, Alpha-H Liquid Gold smoothing and perfecting mask, £48 from Cult Beauty.
Now I've tried several products containing with alpha hydroxy or gycolic acid, including 
Alpha-H Liquid Gold and also Pixi Glow Tonic and Sunday Riley Good Genes. Although they made my skin brighter and smoother, over time I found them all very drying and stopped using them. I think they're fine for younger skin but maybe a little too harsh for mature skin.

So it was with trepidation that I bought the mask. But the mask is great. Very authentic lavender scent and smooth, luscious cream that you rinse off after 10 mins.  It really does brighten the skin and dial-down dark circles and tiredness. And it doesn't cause any long-term dryness. I'm still on the first tube but I think this one is a keeper.

I rarely wear foundation but occasionally you want a flawless base and to forget about all those darn pigmentation marks  (you still get them even if you sunbathe using Factor 50 - that's my warning to you girls). Clinique's Beyond Perfecting foundation & concealer performs both functions most excellently. I liked it so much, reader, I have it in two shades. It doesn't look mask-like and it isn't too matte, which I find quite ageing. I haven't liked a foundation so much since Estee Lauder's much lamented Lucidity.

Next:  Cult51 immediate effect serum, £95 from Cult Beauty.  I've never rated any serums. I've always thought them over-rated and a cynical attempt to exhort more money out of us. But I was pleasantly surprised by this serum, As always, I applied it to one side of my face for a few days to see if it made any difference.  It was quite noticeable. I applied some on my crow's feet and the wrinkle between my eyebrows, and around my top lip. Definitely plumped up the skin. It looked and felt good enough not to wear moisturizer but that's a step too far. So I'm getting a second bottle for my birthday.

I'm on my third pot of Charlotte Tilbury's Magic Cream, £70. I've used dozens of moisturizers over the years but this one, for me, is great. It provides a great base for make-up, feels very luxurious and sinks in quickly, and gives a dewy finish that lasts for hours. Tilbury's products are now available at Cult Beauty, yay  (it's my go-to site, as you may have gathered!).

So those are my latest beauty face heroes: have you used any of them?
Next week: hair heroes

Sharing with Catherine's #SaturdayShareLinkUp at Not Dressed Like Lamb.


Monday, 24 October 2016

Beauty Advent calendars

Years ago an Advent calendar either offered little images linked to...er....Advent, or chocolates behind each window.  Now they offer beauty products, miniature whiskeys, anything which can be packaged into the "one treat a day" format.

I love opening a window each day - it's like being a kid again.  But you need to be quick if you want one of the more desirable beauty advent calendars. Some of them are in limited numbers. They make fantastic presents.

I had the Selfridges calendar last year. It was a little disappointing. Definitely aimed at a younger demographic and there were too many repetitive products  (hand creams, eye pencils, etc).

If you want one, it's £95 and on their website now. It does look quite tempting this time (left) with products from Lancome, Kiehl's, Urban Decay and YSL.

You Beauty

I was impressed with the You beauty club calendar in 2014.This year's calendar is £69.95 and contains some goodies such as prestigious brand Oskia's Renaissance mask, The White Company's Orange Clove signature candle, Omorovicza Refining Facial Polish and MUA Twelfth Night Palette or Dusk Til Dawn Palette. There are also quite a few products that don't appeal to me including a Rimmel nail polish and a Charles Worthington leave-in conditioner. There's free p&p if you sign up for the regular beauty box product.


The calendar I've bought for myself this year is the Decleor advent calendar.  You really can't go wrong with Decleor  (husbands and boyfriends please note).  I'm looking forward to the gorgeous oils and lusciousness.

Charlotte Tilbury

For a touch of luxury there's the Charlotte Tilbury World of Legendary Parties advent calendar at £150. This has 12 treats including Mini Magic Cream, Mini Wonderglow, Mini Multi Miracle Glow and Pocket Pout: Jessica Red. I have one of these upstairs - it's a Christmas present for a lucky young lady.

Judging by the picture the products are slightly bigger than you get in most calendars but only having 12 is a bit of a con - Advent runs from the Sunday nearest to November 30 and covers four Sundays.

There are many other beauty advent calendars to choose from including Look Fantastic (£70), The Body Shop (£60) and Ciate (£60). Which one(s) do you have your eye on?

Thursday, 20 October 2016

A tale of two mascaras

This post has been a long time coming - two years since my last post! I wasn't planning to return to this blog but in the two year hiatus, a number of "mature" beauty and fashion blogs have sprung up in the UK, which makes me excited to return to the fold.

First up: some of my latest beauty hits and misses.


6-in-1 Perfect Lash 7.2ml by Studio 10, £26

Image: Marks & Spencer
I'm very impressed with the Studio 10 range which is aimed at the mature woman.

This mascara is the best one I've ever used, and I've got through a lot of them - Guerlain, Dior, Benefit, Lancome, Eyeko, Maybelline.....

I have a problem usually with "panda eyes." Most mascaras start to transfer and give me embarrassing smudges and rings under the eyes and sometimes above the upper lashes. Or, weirdly, I have the phenomenon where, after curling my lashes and applying the mascara I have va-va-voom lashes, only to find they've returned to their normal state an hour later.

This mascara has two sections, cleverly screwed together,. with a brush and a comb.  The brush gives very lush long lashes and the comb separates them.

Most importantly, I didn't get any transfer and the va-va voom effect remained all day. Very impressive. I've never had such generous lashes. You can buy this from Marks and Spencer and Cult Beauty.


Joan Collins Class Act Mascara 6ml, £33

Image: Marks & Spencer
I fancied that Joan, who knows a thing or two about makeup, might have a few good products  (and I LOVE the vintage appearance of her nail polish range), but this mascara is a real dead duck.

Very liquidy from the tube and instantly smudged and transferred to my eyelid and below the lower lash line. I cleaned it up and carried on applying, but strangely the good length and curl that I initially achieved simply disappeared, even though I had used an eyelash curler previously.

I can'd find anything good to say about this mascara except for the smart packaging. To add insult to injury, it's more expensive than the Studio 10 mascara and you get less.

If you've found any great mascaras lately, please let us know!


Monday, 25 August 2014

In search of the perfect Nude

I bet that's a headline that will win me a lot of traffic :-)

I have been searching for the perfect nude lipstick for many years. Some celebrities, like Victoria Beckham, Nigella Lawson and Eva Longoria, have definitely cracked it. I want what they're having.

First, a word of warning. Every woman has a different "perfect Nude." I fell victim to a couple of magazine articles where the writer swore that various Nudes were perfect for everyone. MAC Creme d' Nude and Givenchy Beige Mousseline were two that I bought which were wrong for me. I recently bought the Charlotte Tilbury nude plus lip lacquer plus lip pencil, but again, they were the wrong nude.

What I've learnt is that because we all have different skin tones, that applies to our lips as well. Some peoples' lips are pinker than others. For me, the Nudes that are entirely beige or cream coloured are useless. I need one with a little pink undertone.

I also find that a nude on its own looks very flat on the mature woman so you need to shoosh it up with some lip gloss on top.

For me the perfect combo is By Terry shade 100 Terrybly Nude, topped with By Terry Gloss Terrybly Shine in Floral Paradise. Together these give a subtle wash of colour and juicey shine that doesn't scream out "lipstick" but whispers "enhanced lips." It gives a nice soft focus effect to your make-up. They assured me in Space NK this is the duo that Nigella uses.

I did panic when I last tried to buy the lipstick because Space NK didn't have it, and I feared it had been end-of-lifed. I managed to get one at Harrods.

Another lipstick which worked quite well, but does seem to have been end-of-lifed, was L'Oreal's lipstick Colour Rich Star Secrets in 715, Jane Fonda.

What are your tips for the perfect Nude?

For Patti and all the lovely ladies at Visible Monday.

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