The Skin Radiance Discovery Box.

This is my first time trying the famed Naturisimo Beauty Box. After taking a short break over the New Year period they’re back with this fabulous selection of skincare goodies. What I love most about the Naturisimo Beauty Boxes is that there’s absolutely no commitment as it’s not a subscription and you get to see the contents before you purchase. Every month or so they put together a fab box of items, usually around a theme and they’re always, always sell-outs. The prices of the box vary too, from around £9 to slightly more expensive at £29-ish, but this is always reflected by the contents and they’re always amazing value.

This month’s theme is ‘Skin Radiance’ featuring a collection of skincare perfect for beating the effects of cold weather and reviving lackluster, dry skin to reveal a fresh complexion once more. The box contains 8 picks from higher end, luxury brands and costs £12.95 but is worth £60.

What’s inside:

Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Miracle Cleanser (30ml) & Muslin Cloth – I love this light creamy cleanser and this travel size will last you a good amount of time, too.

Caudalie Resveratrol Firming Serum (10ml) – This little serum is worth £15 on it’s own! A water based, high-tech natural serum to help re-create the texture and look of younger skin.

Argentum La Potion Infinie (5ml) – This hydrating universal moisturizer is said to be suitable for all skin types, it helps with everything from blemishes to wrinkles and contains silver hydrosol to regulate skin flora with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Elemental Herbology Vital Glow Overnight Resurfacing Moisturiser (15ml) – I’m always interested in products that resurface skin and increase cell turnover, and this new release from Elemental Herbology is no exception. I’ve only tried it once so far but it was gentle and nourishing, too. Worth £16.

Kae Argaroyal Day Cream (2ml) – Argan oil, immortelle and royal jelly combine to creat this luxe anti-aging cream.

Tata Harper Moisturising Mask (7.5ml) – The full size of this mask costs a whopping £92, so if you’re interested in trying a decent sized sample this is your chance, as it’s worth the cost of the box on its own. I haven’t tried this yet but I can’t wait to give it a go tonight – the formula looks surprisingly thin in consistency when I was expecting a super rich cream, too.

The Organic Pharmacy Gene Express Serum (2ml) – If you thought the Tata mask was pricy, avert your eyes… because this costs £190 for 40ml. Yes. Really. This innovative serum uses gene mapping science to restore skin cells and dramatically improve the appearance of skin.

And that’s the box! Another good one, don’t you think? Will you be treating yourself? Get it here.

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Sunday Tittle Tattle: Babies and Afternoon Tea

afternoon tea at the capital hotel knightsbridge

I went to afternoon tea with my Mum last week, very kindly organised by the ladies at Karen Millen after we had finished our mother-and-daughter styling session. We went to The Capital hotel in Knightsbridge, which is (literally) a stone’s throw from the side entrance to Harrods but somehow manages to be very peaceful and homely. There was a fire burning in the little lobby and the room for afternoon tea was snug and cosy with only enough room for a few tables. Which made a lovely change, because all of the teas I’ve been to in the past year or so have been in huge spaces, crammed full of tables and roaring with the sound of a hundred different conversations. Afternoon tea, it seems, has become big business. It’s always been popular, I suppose, but recently it seems to have had a bit of a revival.

afternoon tea at the capital hotel knightsbridge

What also made a lovely change was the fact that the people at The Capital hadn’t messed around too much with the types of cakes and sandwiches they served; I’ve had some weird old things offered up recently. Usually when the hotel has tried to “theme” their afternoon tea, shaping their cakes into shoes and magical caterpillars and things like that. One afternoon tea had a “cake” course that was entirely formed from chocolate and fondant icing! Bizarre.

At The Capital the sandwiches were traditional but beautifully executed. Salmon and cream cheese, mackerel pate, egg and cress – there’s a reason why some combinations have stood the test of time! Give me a classic over your “bread made from roasted cauliflower topped with sea foam and aubergine caviar” any day. Oh and the bacon and mushroom mini-quiche: I could have eaten a full version of that, no problem. You may know that I have a bit of a “thing” for a good quiche – this one was exemplary.

afternoon tea at the capital hotel knightsbridge

The cakes and sweets were perhaps a little more adventurous; things like dark chocolate orange trifle (delicious), bakewell tart (could have eaten four) and the best lemon drizzle cake I think I’ve had in many years. Tangy, sharp, absolutely saturated in lemon and syrup but somehow not too sickly at all.

afternoon tea at the capital hotel knightsbridge

Mum and I had Baby AMR in tow (Mr AMR has been down with flu – proper flu, it turns out, so I must apologise to him for my Man Flu quips last week) but the staff couldn’t have been more accommodating. I would say, though, that it’s such a cosy room that it seems wrong to barge in with a huge pushchair and all of the stuff that comes along with a baby – there were only two other people tea-ing when we were there, but had the room been full then the pushchair would have been a pain. Much nicer, I think, to enjoy a relaxing afternoon tea as adults and have proper conversation! Luckily the baby fell asleep after about half an hour so Mum and I were free to gorge ourselves stupid on scones and wash them down with the lovely herbal infusions we had ordered (Lemon Verbena for me, Jasmine for Mum). (*I’ve just noticed that the baby’s hair looks bright red in this photo! It isn’t, it’s blonde, but she does look quite cute as a redhead!)

afternoon tea at the capital hotel knightsbridge

I’d highly recommend The Capital as a pit-stop if you’re shopping in Knightsbridge – it feels very traditional and posh but it’s small and quiet and not overbearing, which is perfect if you’ve already had your senses bashed about in busy Harrods. Afternoon Tea costs £29.50 per person (£39.50 with champagne) – you can find more details here. On our way out, we saw that Nathan Outlaw has a restaurant in the hotel too – we absolutely loved his fish cafe in Port Isaac (see post here) so I think we’ll be back to eat there as soon as we can manage. I’m still digesting the scones.

The Capital Hotel

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Karen Millen Styling Sessions – Shopping with Mum | AD

karen millen mother and daughter styling session

When I was a child, I used to get a very specific aching in my knees every time we passed a women’s fashion store. My Mum, it always seemed, could shop for clothes until the cows came home, or at least until one or both of my legs had lost all feeling. I’d stand there, shifting my weight from one side to the other as my little sister wreaked havoc in the window displays and my Mum picked up each and every garment from the rails, feeling the fabric and inspecting the seams. I think that her very thorough, leave-no-stone-unturned approach to clothes shopping very much led to my own completely opposite method: scan the rails as quickly as possible and – a bit like The Terminator – identify one or two “targets”. Snatch them up, make sure they don’t feel as though they’re made out of something that would potentially be a fire hazard and then try them on, preferably over as many of my own clothes as is feasible to minimise changing room time.

So when Karen Millen invited me to a styling session with my Mum at their Knightsbridge flagship store it was with great relief that I discovered there would not only be a special – private – dressing suite (no more standing about with what we Crilly siblings used to call “death legs”) but also a personal stylist to help advise on styles and to magically call up to the room any of the things we wanted to try on. Karen Millen are offering Mothers’ Day mother-and-daughter styling sessions in participating stores (see below) all day on the 5th and 6th of March 2016 and we were test-driving the experience, complete with brilliant manicures by London-based nail specialists Le Salon.

karen millen mother and daughter styling session

I was particularly excited about our styling session because I’ve been wearing the same “new mum uniform” for months now – skinny jeans with something relatively baggy over the top to hide my (admittedly now-shrinking) tum and remaining bits of love handle roll. I needed a big shove to get me out of my comfort zone and so wanted to turn up without any preconceptions or knowledge of what I might find. Mum, on the other hand (ever well-prepared!) spent days and days poring over the Karen Millen website and investigating every single item from the new Spring Summer collection. “Have you seen the beautiful lime green coat?” she said, “the striped dress? The orange trench?”

And so we found ourselves in the Knightsbridge store, one of us (me) completely without expectation, the other (Mum) knowing with almost military precision what she wanted to try on; and the remaining member of the party, Baby AMR, tagging along for fun because Mr AMR had flu.

Mum homed in immediately upon a gorgeous navy crepe jumpsuit (she insists on calling it a “catsuit”) and loved it. Job done, thanks to Mum’s prior intensive research sessions! God bless you, internet. God bless you. If only you had been around all of those decades ago, I might now be able to cross the threshold of a clothes shop without experiencing vivid, tortuous flashbacks.

karen millen mother and daughter styling session

Mum also tried on the “lime green coat” which was actually a soft, unstructured duster jacket and looked fabulous. I have a feeling she might be returning for that one, but first she has to look through her wardrobe at home and imagine the coat with each and every one of her existing items before she can make a decision. “It has to be an investment piece when you’re older,” she said, “you want to be able to keep it and add to it.”

karen millen mother and daughter styling session

Mum loved the Karen Millen flagship store because they displayed the clothes in exactly the way she finds useful, with different combinations styled to show how things could fit into your existing wardrobe. And everything passed her quality control test; “as you get older the quality and cut of your clothing needs to be perfect – it needs to look expensive, and only a good cut can be truly flattering.”

karen millen mother and daughter styling session

I had absolutely no idea what to try on at all, but this was where the styling session really came into its own. Tempted to just plump for denim and jersey, which is what I always plump for, our wonderful stylist walked me around the new collection and suggested things I might like. When she pointed out a buttery soft, caramel-coloured faux leather skirt I was sceptical – I never wear leathery clothing apart from jackets – but I thought I’d give it a whirl. Our stylist picked a pale blouse to go with it – again, a style I’d never in a million years choose on my own – and some camel court shoes. Miles away from my current style, but look….

Instant love! The blouse is so flattering on my larger-than-usual chest and the skirt is really ladylike  and glamorous. It nipped me in at the waist but skimmed the curves rather than being skin-tight – soft and unstructured but with just the right amount of shape. I can see loads of my knitwear and my extensive collection of shirts going nicely with it and the blouse will also look great with jeans.

I tried on a lovely striped coat, too, but – one step at a time with the new wardrobe! I could imagine it getting completely covered in baby food within about ten minutes. Laundering a blouse is one thing, having to take a coat to the dry cleaners twice a week is another!

What I did indulge in, though, were the skirt and blouse – I couldn’t get to the tills fast enough! Karen Millen very kindly gifted me a wonderful black and white stretch-knit midi dress, but I want to take some proper pictures of that so I’ll do a separate post. It’s very chic, “French Riviera” and will be perfect for easy summer dressing.

You can book your moter-and-daughter styling session by using the online appointment form here. Sessions are available at the Glasgow store, at London’s Covent Garden, Knightsbridge and Westfield White City stores and then at the Manchester Intu Trafford Centre. Manicures by Le Salon will be available at the London stores from 11-4pm on the 5th March and then 12-4pm on the 6th. If you spend over £200 you’ll also receive a Karen Millen zipped pouch and canvas bag.

And whether you’re taking part in a mothers’ day styling session or not, there’s a brilliant competition running: a luxurious overnight stay at the majestic Café Royal hotel (I’ve been inside, it’s fabulous) with spa access and cocktails on arrival and a £500 gift card to spend at Karen Millen. No spend necessary – just enter the competition here, it’s running until the 7th March 2016.

*this post has been sponsored by Karen Millen. We were also treated to the most wonderful Afternoon Tea at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge, I’ve written about that in Sunday’s Tittle Tattle!

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Bamford Exfoliating Mask / Do You Whittle?

Bamford Exfoliating Mask

Another should-I-or-shouldn’t-I-post-about-it-because-it’s-pricey beauty situation: Bamford’s really quite delicious Exfoliating Mask. It’s somehow smoothing and soothing all at the same time, which is quite some feat. A little bit of exfoliating tingle, but a remarkably fresh feel and the kind of juicy gel texture you might find in an intensively hydrating aftersun mask. I loved it on first use – my skin looked very even and radiant afterwards, with none of the redness you might find with some powerhouse exfoliating masks.

Bamford Exfoliating Mask

And my skin felt – I suppose the word would be – toned. Not tight and squeaky, as though it had just lost most of its outer layers, but revitalised, as though it had undergone a bit of a buff followed by some kind of toning essence or lotion. Don’t get me wrong; the exfoliating action  (lactic acid, fruit enzymes) seems to be very proficient, and there’s a touch of clay for some deep cleansing action thrown in, so I’m not saying that this is some namby-pamby mask. It’s just that it feels so beautifully plumpy and nice. Indulgent.

IMG_8841Bamford Exfoliating Mask

Indulgent price, too – sixty quid. You do get a little wooden heart to scoop out the mask, but if you’re good at whittling then that won’t be too much of a draw. Ha! I jest, of course: who whittles in this day and age? I don’t know a single whittler. Mr AMR can sharpen sticks when required to (if we’re out trapping the odd woolly mammoth or staking out a new reed screen for the mouth of our cave) but I doubt he could whittle me a heart.

Anyway, the heart is obviously a nice touch, I’m being facetious. So is the beautiful printed box and the simple, modern packaging, but it’s still a proper luxury. Up there with your Omorovicza and Tata Harper and Aurelia and Dr Sebagh. I’m trying to think of an affordable alternative for this with the same fresh juiciness and good exfoliating prowess, but I shall have to come back to you. For those hunting down a lovely mask that’ll slot easily into their weekly facial routine (Sunday facials seem to be all the rage at the moment!) this is well worth a look. Especially if you find that you don’t get on with glycolic-based exfoliants, or fancy something a little lighter and fresher in texture.

If you want to browse previous mask reviews then they are all here. Also, do let me know if you whittle. I’m genuinely curious.

Bamford’s Exfoliating Mask is £60 at Net-a-Porter here.

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Makeup How-To: Subtle Daylight Contouring

how to contour for daylight

If there’s one makeup trend that has completely divided us beauty-obsessed people it’s the trend for drawing brown stripes on our faces and then rubbing them in as though we’re trying to remove stubborn patches of dirt. AKA “contouring”. One of the problems with this contouring business, I think, is that lots of demonstrations and tutorials happen in front of studio lights and/or are quite graphic and hard. And unless you’re the type of person who never leaves the house during daylight hours and is only ever seen with full-on evening makeup, it’s all just a little too harsh.

I asked makeup artist supremo Caroline Barnes (you will remember her from last week’s video) to create a contour for people who don’t like to contour. Soft, realistic but still dramatic enough to sculpt and shape the face. (If you want really, really soft and natural then it’s not really contouring – you could use a slightly darker face powder or very pale bronzer to create a shadow but we’re probably moving out of the realms of the “contour” then. Which is fine. I have to say I think I’m happiest with the softly-softly touch-of-sculpt!)

Caroline uses the brilliant gel sculpt from Illamasqua (here) and also MAC’s Cream Base in Pearl (here) but I’ve listed all of the products below the video screen for easy reference. I particularly love the way that Caroline uses concealer to lighten the middle part of my face – and also the eye-socket/nose-sculpting trick looks amazing! Here you go – enjoy:

Illamasqua Gel Sculpt in Silhouette:

MAC Cream Base in Pearl:

Max Factor Cream Blush in Soft Copper:

Amazing Concealer in Fair:

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