the insights and inspirations of a freelance beauty editor


As of last Saturday The beautyhaul entered a new chapter which I shall  refer to from here on in as my health kick period. No, it’s not the new year, nor am I getting hitched. In actual fact I’ve just got back from the most amazing 7 day juice retreat in Mallorca with a company called Breakfree Retreats. Right now I can’t divulge as much as I’d like about the experience since I’m reviewing it for one of my regular health & beauty clients. All I can say is a week of raw liquid nutrition, increased activity and balaeric sunshine has been the ultimate tonic for body, soul, skin, hair, nails….

Aside from the obvious, visible benefits – I lost 5lbs and 5cms from my waist – I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the less obvious side effects. Stacks of energy and a new resolve to eat cleaner being two of them. This last week back to my usual routine working in an office in central London and I just haven’t had those usual wading-through-sand-style energy slumps and have been waking naturally and not unpleasantly about 6.15am. This means I’ve had time to eat a healthy fruit-based breakfast and even make a smoothie (while I wait for the new juicer to arrive) and then I’ve been walking the 20 minute journey from the station to the office to try and sandwich some movement into my predominantly sedentary day. This morning I even managed to bust out a dynamic yoga class before work. I know, me? an early riser! Who’d have thought it.

It was  a total detox so we’re talking no sugar, caffeine, meat, alcohol and dairy. I’ve eased myself back in with one cup of early grey a day but have switched to a dash of soya milk as eating no dairy really seems to suit me. I’ve had a little fish too, but can’t say I’ve been craving ‘flesh’ of any kind terribly. After a week off digesting those really dense foodstuffs you get a much clearer sense of how energy sapping it is for your system to break down certain heavy foods. And, when you spend most of the day sat on your arse like I do, you just don’t need all that food, you really don’t. Of course I fell off the Green & Blacks wagon almost immediately but I am trying to wean myself onto raw. Conscious (from Wholefoods) being my current bar of choice.

Earlier I was reading an interview with Dr Pauline Hili on the wonderful Content Beauty blog (she’s launched a lovely new range of a advanced organic skincare called Nourish) and she was talking about the principle of Harca Haci Bu practised by the world’s oldest population, the Okinawans (google them, they’re bionic!). Apparently it translates to eating only until you are 80% full. It’s something we talked a lot about last week on retreat. Think of the oldest people you know. They’re all pretty lean right? We need a certain amount of fat to protect our vital organs from dangerous toxins which we either ingest through bad diet or pollution or generate with stress, but ultimately, we were just not designed to be fatties.

Which leads me swiftly onto my next recommended reading matter for you this weekend. The marvellous Hemsley sisters have been wooing me with their delicious yet health-driven recipies on for some time but yesterday I suddenly realised when I saw a picture of them yesterday that Jasmine, one of the said sisters, is actually a (very beautiful) model I know through friends of friends. I can therefore vouch for the old adage that you are what you eat. Ooh I was excited. Their blog is currently making huge waves with the London fooderatti (& all nutrition-obsessed beauty eds) and it’s not difficult to see why. It’s a riot of colour, pretty pics and mouth watering recipies where you never, ever hear the word diet or calorie or, gasp, processed. I for one have designs on this sugar and egg-free chestnut cake this weekend…

*This image comes courtesy of the lovely lacylike blog which I found via Pinterest. Check out her inspirational post on cleansing here.







ready, set, shop

You want hair? Hershesons can help…

This month, two beauty behemoths go head to head as opposite ends of Oxford Street each get a posh new beauty hall.

Over at Oxford Circus Topshop have launched their revamped basement beauty zone and it’s looking pretty good. Not only have the existing franchises, Bleach, Hershesons and WAH been suped- and slicked-up, there’s a new tattoo and piercing parlour, Metal Morphosis, as well as a Strip waxing room and Blink brow bar (recommended by me, best brows for time plus a comp head massage!). There’s also a new ‘hot desk’ reception area so you don’t have to wonder aimlessly into the salons waiting for somebody (anybody?) to notice you while you secretly implode, vowing never to spend your hard earned cash here EVER again. We’ve all been there.

Mood board at Bleach. Yep, Barbie is a bonafide muse.

Back down the road, Selfridges will officially unveil their new Beauty Workshop on 15th, though it’s been semi-open for sometime. Tripling in size with a sleek new design-job by Dutch architects, Uxus, the space will showcase over 50 new skincare, hair and cosmetics brands plus a slew of top beauty treatment counters – Blink & Hershesons, again, plus St Tropez tanning and a nails inc. Paint Shop. Plus, they’ve trumped Toppers with an online booking service. Neat huh?

Beauty Workshop, with virtual customers…

All this upgrading says only one thing to me. Beauty is fast ousting fashion as the high-street’s biggest draw and with Christmas approaching faster than Santa’s Coca-Cola sponsored steam train (sorry, but it is), retailers are gearing up for a big, and beautiful, festive season.

Mauritius calling…

Friday. What better day for a big fat slice of escapism with your afternoon tea?

So here it is. Maradiva, the super-luxe Mauritian spa voted ‘Best Worldwide Spa’ by Sunday Times Magazine, whom I reckon get a fair bit of spa action, are opening a pop-up in Harrods for the month of October. Yeah it is only mid August, you’re right, but I’m giving you a month or so heads up on this one because a) I don’t want to leave this post until every Tom, Dick and Blogger has written about it and b) if you want to book in, I suggest you get in early as this is one hot ticket people.

Now, whatever you’re doing just stop and take 5 minutes out to think about how bloody AMAZING these treatments are going to be. Their team of ‘elite therapists’ (along with crates of their signature aromatic elixirs and unguents) are being flown in especially by Harrods to perform such signature ayurvedic healing rituals as Pavani, which includes vedic chanting before being doused in a potent herbal detox blend, as well as more familiar numbers like Indian head massage and herbal facials. I can already smell the sweet basil and ginger if I concentrate really hard…

Hosts Urban Retreat are calling it  ‘A FESTIVAL OF DETOXIFYING AND HEALING AYURVEDIC TREATMENTS’ which is kind of ironic since most of us have spent all summer at festivals doing anything but detoxing, but I like their concept. Plus this gives me the perfect excuse to schedule in all retoxing prior to October the 8th, the opening date, so as to reap the full benefits, you see?

doors to manual…

The beautyhaul is off on holiday (well I say holiday, does a friend’s wedding in Brittany qualify in a recession?) and boy, had I forgotten how exhausting it is doing the whole pre-holiday beauty prep schlep. Ooh la la! As the bride might say…

So, just a quick insight then into this beauty marathon as I find time between trying to weigh my hand luggage on my miniscule kitchen scales and deciding which mags to buy at the airport.

1. Ole Henrikson Lemon Strip, £98 as part of a kit of three products – a genius at-home glycolic peel, perfect for use pre-tanning and for a general skin de-gunk and brighten. Pricey, but a little goes a long way.

2. Supergoop City Sunscreen Serum, £16 for travel size – Mr Beautyhaul has been enjoying this particular bottle for a few weeks now. In fact after I’d gifted it to him I immediately regretted it and wanted it back…Hence I’ll be ‘borrowing’ this light as a feather, skin repairing SPF 30 en vacances. You don’t need a separate moisturiser either saving vital washbag capacity. A serious consideration when you’re a bottle hoarder like me.

3. Dr Lewinns Revitalising Hand Polish, £21 – realised in the bath last night I had no body scrub, what the F*&%! So I promptly  reached for the nearest thing, this cult hand scrub, and it worked a treat. NB. I showered again this AM. to make sure there was no trace of oily residue pre-tan, which leads me on to…

4. LDN Skins Couture Spray Tan at Daniel Galvin, 58 George St (ask for Justine) – Okay, so I’m still in the 8 hour ‘cooking’ stage but so far, my Tone 3 tan is shaping up nicely. Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lawrence and VB all love this brand so I’m expecting good things when I shower it off at 5.45am tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted.


Photograph courtesy of Nina Leen for Life magazine circa 1950 via


What do you think of these pictures? I mean, REALLY think? I’ll admit. I was a bit shocked at first. ‘Real people’ as we term them in mag land, don’t often pop up on big (okay, medium) budget beauty campaigns – discounting Dove’s wholesome armpit-flashing yummy mummies that is. But after listening to Illamasqua’s Creative Director Alex Box (think Dita Von Teese meets a young Caryn Franklin) and David Horne, Director of Product Development, and their compelling argument for real women of all ages in beauty advertising, I think this bold move could and should be applauded. The pics are the result of a competition to find faces for Illamasqua’s new Generation Q A/W collection – a treasure chest of iridescent vinyl powders, goth-vamp varnishes and an eyeliner that sets fast like a metallic permanent marker – and will arrive in stores and counters on September the 6th.
I have slight issues with the amount of shimmer – a point preempted by Horne who sticks two fingers up to the unspoken rule that mature ladies shouldn’t sparkle. It’s not because it highlights the texture of the skin, I just find them a touch on the shiny side, but maybe that’s because my eyes are so conditioned to the flattened textures of Pantone retouched skin we see every day.
Illamasqua are, as beauty brands go, outspoken and irreverent and that’s why I have more than a soft spot for them, even though my make-up style is hardly what you’d term experimental. Sometimes their risks pay off, sometimes they don’t, but their overriding ethos that life is too short to tread the path of predictability resonates with me. After all, why should women over the age of 50, or even 40, have to conform to a sea of beige ‘appropriate’ make up?
I’ve noticed a similar shift in the fashion world with blogs like Advanced Style and brands like Lanvin championing stylish older women so I think Illamasqua are actually ahead of the curve on this one, at least in the beauty industry. Evelyn, the oldest of the models (top pic), was entered into the competition by her daughter and since the shoot, has eschewed her usual safe look in favour of tarmac black nails and strongly defined brows. After being made-up by Alex Box for the shoot she confided she slept in her make-up, she loved it so much, as a room full of beauty editors shuddered… But why the hell not? Her confidence is what makes this look work for her and maybe that’s what we all need in life. A little reassurance to say it’s okay not to be perfect, just be real and be creative with your look. I for one, went home a little bit bolder and determined to bin the bland. And I’m a beauty editor for Christ’s sake!

notes on a facial…

Mr BeautyHaul is regularly left slack-jawed at the sheer amount of complimentary products and jollys I’m party to in this ‘job’ so I thought it only fair to share the love, so to speak, and send him for his very first facial. Being a treatment virgin I wanted to get him in at the top end and so it was with high expectations that I packed him off for City Recovery Facial at swanky London men’s spa, The Refinery.

Here’s how he got on:

Me: So, your skin looks amazing (like it had been vacuumed and polished, seriously good), what did they do, what did they do???

MrBH: Well the place was really posh, I felt a bit scruffy, but the girl was really nice, made me fill out a form…

Me: No! What did they do to your face?

MrBH: Oh well they get all up in your grill don’t they? It’s quite, well, in your face…

Me: No sh1t Sherlock.

MrBH: Well. She started by wiping off all the dirt.

Me (interjects): I think they call it cleansing…

MrBH: Then she put this mask on and she said ‘oh it might tingle a bit’ but it really stang, I mean really.

Me (inside voice): gosh they really do have a lower pain threshold don’t they.

MrBH: And then she squeezed all my blackheads which hurt, but I kind of liked it.

.Me: Oh yeah it’s good isn’t it, all that gunk coming out.

MrBH: Then she did a sort of massage on my face, it was quite firm, and put on some more potions (his generic term for all beauty products).

Me: so, you enjoyed it then?

MrBH: well yeah, it was really relaxing and she gave me these little samples to use too (produces two vials of Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 and Phloretin CF serum from his jeans pocket).

Me: well your skin looks AMAZING, wish I had your skin (sulks). Cor she even got the really big blackhead up near your eyebrow that I always attack but never manage to get out.

In conclusion, I’ve never seen skin so clean or glowing. Even on a girl.

The City Recovery Facial, ‘designed to combat environmental skin damage’ is available now at The Refinery, 60 Brook Street and The Refinery, Harrods. £115 – 75 minutes or £80 for a 45 minute Express.

Mr BeautyHaul, and his newly exacuated pores, was a grateful guest of Skinceuticals and The Refinery, London.

*I found this image on Pinterest but it’s sadly lacking a credit so if it’s you, or your dad, please get in touch!

Paris-Bombay (via Brixton)

So, this one’s been bubbling under for a while ever since Karl Lagerfeld sent his models down the catwalk with huge piles of artfully knotted dreds at Chanel’s Paris-Bombay Métiers d’Art show back in December. Maybe I’m a bit immune since I live in Brixton where we already have a pretty healthy dred count (oh Karl would just LOVE it, I know…). But now the below adverts are plastered throughout every glossy magazine on the newstands, is subliminal momentum for the New Age aesthetic mounting in fashionable circles too?

Much like the similarly indie undercut (championed by Chanel muse Alice Dellal) which started as an extreme, almost sub-culture of a haircut, I wonder if dreadlocks really have the potential to cross into the MANEstream? Dressed with exquisite Raj-era jewels Chanel have certainly made them more appealing, less crusty. Still, on a flawless 20-something model surely anything is possible…

Allegedly (so says Twitter) when Bob Marley died, 19 different species of lice were found festooned inside his dreadlocks. I’m certain the same won’t be said for Kaiser Karl’s platinum ponytail, but still, maybe it takes a man to champion a hairstyle like this. I think it’s safe to say the majority of Chanel’s female clientele will be sticking to their glossy bi-weekly Mayfair blow dries regardless of Chanel’s new look. That said, if any of the aforementioned fancy giving it a go I can certainly recommend an authentic dred-friendly hairdresser along with the number for the best jerk chicken shop South of the River. You’ve seen that scene in Ab Fab where Eddie drives through Brixton, right?

*images courtesy of Chanel via AnOther MagazineGrazia Daily

happy feet

It’s been a bit of a, how shall I put it, tentative start to sandal season this year but I think it’s safe to say that from this point onwards, my toenails will remain swathed in colour until about, ooh, mid September. Even if it is now pissing down outside…

This is the time when polishes really get put through their paces. Trampling London’s battered pavements, unveiled suddenly like prisoners of war after months ensconced in brogues and boots, toenails can take a bit of a battering so a hardy, chip-proof polish is what’s required. Doing me proud for the second summer in a row is a Topshop bright coral varnish similar to this one (my coral is no longer available).  Twice in a week colleagues have commented on my pedi. I did it at home on the sofa while watching The Killing. Last week’s episode I might add, and added a quick once over with Nubar top coat for good measure. Cowshed ($$$$) eat your heart out.

According to Butter London, a waterless pedi is the key to a lasting paint job, it’s the technique they’ve pioneered at all the catwalk shoes using an arsenal of associated kit: rather soapy wipes, hydrating heel balm and a nifty glycolic callous remover – that incidentally has just launched to the public.

Water, when used to soak cuticles or even wash feet, temporarily swells your nail bed. Paint in this state and once the nail dries out (and inevitably shrinks back) your lovingly-applied layers of base, paint and topcoat will start to peel away from the nail surface, no matter how expert your application. You really do learn something everyday don’t you? So, stay away from the wet stuff  and take your pick from their desert island-inspired colour palatte. I’ve just spotted the beautiful teal shade I opted for at the launch is called Slapper…Nice eh?

*Weather-proof pedi courtesy of Comme des Garcons

honey monster

Beehives in Volterra, Tuscany courtesy of Andy Hill

Bees are having a hard time right now. Facing dwindling numbers due to parasites, pesticides and attack from the ever prolific wasp, it’s little wonder they manage to survive at all. Ironically however, the health and beauty industry is buzzing (sorry, couldn’t resist) with bee-related hype. Considering the influence and sheer pots of money beauty brands can throw at their chosen cause, could this be the bees saving grace?

French organic experts Melvita are one such brand investing heavily in future of bees. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they’re already famed for their high quality honeys, royal jelly ampoules (the food produced by the bees to feed the Queen, rich in amino acids and vits B) and skincare formulas containing honey. They love bees so much the Covent Garden branch have installed an apiary on a nearby rooftop, lovingly tended by Camilla Goddard of Capital Bee, and come harvest time, will sell the honey in store. Beyond London the Melvita Foundation support at least 15 charitable projects around the world that support organic farming, including the PUR project in Peru which provides 2 years of beekeeping training and facilities to a local tribe called the Queehua in the hope of returning traditional bee keeping methods to an area where the process has almost virtually been wiped out.

Camilla at the Covent Garden hives

But, I couldn’t write this post without mentioning bee venom, although it’s with very mixed feelings that I include it. Bee venom or ‘sting’ is now being touted as a natural botox and skin healing substance and thanks to famous faces like Kate Middleton (sigh, she knows not what she does), women are buying bee venom formulas by the wheelbarrow load in the hope they’ll achieve a similar royal glow (please, it’s her genes alright?). But I have huge reservations about it. Even if the bees aren’t harmed, which I’m just not buying, they must undergo huge stress to have the substance extracted. If you know otherwise please do correct me, but in my mind the bees can do without this extra demand on their already diminishing resources.

Far nicer and safer for the bees is this skin-fixing Bee Balm from Brixi. It’s made by Emy’s mum (Emy owns the shop) with by-products from her hive and magically smoothes flaky skin and sun-dried lips. Her beeswax candles are worth a look, and sniff, too.

Bee Balm, stock up now it won’t be around for long…

So, what can you do to help the bees I hear you cry? The British Bee Keepers Association has some great information on their website here. If you have a garden or rooftop and would like to try keeping your own bees, contact Camilla at Capital Bee for more information on how to get started. Or if, like me, you live in a top floor flat you can do your bit by planting up some window boxes or pots with bee-friendly flowers (lavender and alliums are faves – angelica gets them drunk!) and watch in awe as these magical little creatures go about their business quietly saving the world, and potentially blitzing wrinkles, in one fell swoop.

this weekend’s look

I’ve sort of fallen in love with this look from the Clements Ribiero A/W 12 show. As far at catwalk beauty looks go, I’m not often sold. With cropped hair and a kit of well-used make-up staples, ironically I don’t ever stray too far from my signature look prefering instead to hoard huge stocks of wacky make-up in the spare room for those ‘just in case’ moments (aka fancy dress parties). This, however, is look I’m coveting hard. With some stealth kirby gripping I might even be able to pull of the headband too. As I just LOVE to repeat, the very talented and be-tattooed Mr James Pecis once told me that with my floppy fringe I might even be able to work that iconic milkmaid plait from the Narcisso Rodriguez perfume ad (that I am reserving for my wedding day when, miraculously, I will suddenly have long hair, obvs) with the right degree of expertise. So pulling on a jersey band and backcombing the crown for this should be a doddle. I’m not sure Sam McKnight, who created the look for Pantene Pro-V would put it quite that way…
The press release says he applied Pantene Classic Ultra Strong Mousse to wet hair, focusing on the top and sides of the head, before drying backwards with a round bristle brush. Followed by a little backcombing and teasing out of just the right amount of tendrils for a beautifully unhinged look (a concept anyone battling London’s current tirade of wind and rain is sure to appreciate).

Regarding lips, I already own a hot matte pink I think might work – the girls-love-it-boys-hate-it Nars Lipstick in Schiap, £17.50, but Illamasqua’s new shade Eurydice, £15.50, or Neon Pink from Bobbi Brown’s new Neon & Nude collection (on counter this month I think but can’t see online as yet) could both be contenders. As for skin, play it down, step away from the bronzer and if you’re going the whole hog run a little pressed powder through your brows to tone them down so your lips remain the main focus. Dare you.

Images courtesy of & vogel note