This is a Totally Free Thing: Clarins Skin Time

I am a pushover. I go for a makeover, say, at the beauty hall of a big department store, and think to myself, ‘Well, Suzu, this time we will just pay the €20 or whatever and not get hijacked into buying any product.’

But, then, the thing is, you actually don’t have to pay anything if you spend that much on product, and seriously, you walk away with something that has been used to create that amazing face, and doesn’t it make more sense to have spent the money on something you can use in future?

Yeah. So, you can imagine what transpires. Although it does make sense {it does!}, it would be nice to rock up to a counter and say, ‘A free treatment, please!’ and have it actually be free. Clarins Skin Time is totally free, and you won’t be hectored into buying any of the myriad product that is utilised, and you will learn something. Continue reading

Amazing Face: How Sweet!

Emma Hardie is UK-based facialist and and skincare specialist, and those of us who haven’t got the dosh to fly over and get a session from the woman herself {and one of those would be me} can dig into this: her Amazing Face Professional Cleansing System is a fantastic treatment-in-a-box, and even though it comes across as complicated, it really isn’t. Continue reading

Sweet Sixteen: Yes To Carrots Exfoliating and Soothing Mud Mask

I can be a real snob when it comes to product. Growing up, I read too many magazines, and started to get a bit sniffy about cheapy cosmetics at an early age.

I couldn’t afford to be as posh as I wanted, but it didn’t stop me from dropping some serious dough whilst in art college: I had found a special something at a fancy Manhattan shop, on the Upper East Side {which is saying something, since I went to Pratt in Brooklyn} and — holy cow! early onset is pre-empted as I just remembered the name of it. I was struggling to remember what it was called and I couldn’t bring it up for the life of me until I started writing. The special something was a mud mask by Princess Marchella Borghese, who is still around. I would welcome any samples of her Fango: Active Mud for Face & Body for a future review, just to see if it is still as good as I remember it to be. The container was similar to what it is now, a luxuriously heavy glass jar; the mud was scented to just the correct degree, and it was my first experience of true self-care indulgence.

Whoops, down the rabbit hole! The point of the above was that having been exposed to a serious mud mask, anything else wouldn’t do. I like to keep an open mind, and have found several non-muddy masks to be effective, but to me, there is nothing like having my face squinched by drying product. I am sure there are anti-ageing arguments against this experience, but feck ‘em. I love a good squinch {TWSS} and in these modern times, I have found something that satisfies this need entirely.

The Yes To line has branched out to include Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Blueberries, but to me, Carrots will always be the cornerstone of the brand. These all-natural, crap-free products care for every part of you, and in general, they work as well as crap-laden products — and come on, let’s be honest, in general, most natural products simply don’t work. The cleansers don’t cleanse, the mositurisers don’t mositurise, or else they require so much more product to effect change that it’s not cost effective.

Or maybe our standards have become too laden with crap, and they work just fine, and we have only to adjust our expectations.

Expectations need not be adjusted when it comes to YTC’s C the Difference: Exfoliating and Soothing Mud Mask. It’s made from Dead Sea mud, and it’s rich and thick, yet applies smoothly — it’s not like you’ll be trowelling this on. Fragrance-wise, it is pleasant without being too perfume-y, and in this regard is one up on the Borghese, as far as memory serves < and it serves pretty darn well, considering. I tend to leave it on for way longer than the 5 minutes prescribed, but that’s me, the squinch-lovin’ beauty blogger, so take that with a pinch of Dead Sea salt.

Ooh, I’d love a dose of this right about now: I’ve just woken up and my face feels like it’s flaking off. The post-mask C skin feels shiny and clean and new, and I’d love that right now. I’d also love to run around the house scaring my nephews with my crazy mud face. Ah, well, there’s always next time.


Clean the Slate: FACE Atelier Melt

Well, I was doin’ this wrong.

I don’t know what I was thinking, but I thought that the way to use FACE Atelier Melt was to squirt it into my palm and use it as I would a cleanser. This was not a completely disastrous approach, and it was especially good at wiping out the brow makeup; as regards the mascara and eyeliner, not so much.

The thing is, it is an oil-based yokie, and I am only converting to the notion of putting oily on the face. Blame adolescence — and sure, what blame can we not lay at the feet of the teenage years? — but I had a serious case of shiny face and the very idea of reverting to said shiny makes me want to cry.

And yet… I have been using balms to excellent effect, and they are not even oily, they are greasy! Cue nightmare. I am guessing, because I am on a roll and won’t pause to google, that oil-based products are the ultimate in hydration. Common sense, when you pause in your scarred-for-life narrative to have a think.

Right, so. Where was I. Okay. So, I have decided to use this for the next few weeks, and last night had the brainwave to dispense it on a cotton pad and use it like I would use any other make up removal product. Like, wow? <I blame the jet lag. Although when I was doin’ wrong before the transatlantic flight…

THE POINT IS: Totally superfantastic removal with the Melt. Gentle, effective, and thorough. There was some residual product, and I wasn’t sure if I should massage it into my skin. It felt like it would feel good to do, except that there was maybe still make up lingering. And I forgot to pack toner* [gasp!] so I ended up wiping away as much as I could, and went through way more cotton pads than usual.

That last is a bit pesky, but not a deal-breaker. I found some cotton wool, in pleats, at a €2 shop {remember when they were €1 shops? Ah, sure} While I avoided those in the past as well — because the cotton seems so loose, and therefore more likely to get into your eye — the combination of the two is quite a fierce cleaning duo.

You learn something new every day.

*Yeah, I forgot the toner, but worse, I forgot the clarifying lotion and I have to say, whilst I saved myself some space in the suitcase [but not all that much] I’m never going to make that choice again. It makes me yearn for the next winner in the Sweet Sixteen Sweepstakes, which will premiere tomorrow…

€29 on£24/$35

Haiku Review: Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care

Oh, where to begin!
Let’s start with today’s shampoo —
Chosen with intent.

I think I used the H&S brand once in my life, before now. I had a touch of dandruff during adolescence, quelle horreur, and reached for the brand that said it was going to make it stop. It did, and I never thought of using it again.

Now, if I had to use a shamp/cond duo to deal with such an issue, I would most assuredly reach for the Head & Shoulders. I am also fairly certain that one’s choices have increased exponentially in the intervening years. I counted eleven different versions on the brand’s interactive web site.

I was given a sample of the Itchy Scalp Care flavour, and eh, I wasn’t really that pushed to give it a go. But give it one I did, because as I said earlier, this is my job.

Well. I assume my scalp is healthy because it doesn’t flake, and not to say that I am now given to bouts of scalp fear, but I will say that this pair, with its infusion of eucalyptus, is an enjoyably invigorating cleansing experience. It’s the shampoo that really comes across with the tingle, and if my scalp wasn’t squeaky clean before, it sure was now.

Ah: chosen with intent. The thing is, this gives me excellent second day hair, and as I am getting highlights today, I didn’t want to wash the barnet, but neither did I want to have dull hair. H&S and sorts this out completely, and I will walk into the salon with my head, complete with its itch-less scalp, held high.

€/£/$ prices vary, so I’m afraid you’ll have to google it yourself.

OMGifting: It is Almost Christmas

… or whatever holiday you celebrate, it doesn’t matter — where did the time go?!? Sheesh! I’ve got some suggestions if you’ve got a bunch of Secret Santa/Kris Kindle/or this other thing I came across on the intertubes the other day: a Yankee Swap. As Wiki says in the link, it’s a North American thing, but not in my region, thanks very much. It may or may not involve stealing! Wha’?!

Well, that took my mind off the fact that not only is it no time at’all ’til gift-exchanging time, I am also probably way late with a feature like this. On the other hand, that is so exquisitely apt that I am impressed with its conceptual correctness.

Okay! Never mind! Last minute gifts that are amazing and don’t look last minute! Continue reading

My name is Susan…

And clearly, I am addicted to shampoos, conditioners, and hair treatments.

Not all hair treatments are pictured, either! Oh, halp.

This is just by way of letting you know the S&Cs and other yokes that are on tap [ha, ha] to be discussed here at

From left:
>Pantene Repair & Protect S&C
>L’Oréal Elvive Triple Resist S&C
>Redken Blond Glam
>Redken Nature’s Rescue Refining Sea Polish
>Orofluido S&C
>Head and Shoulders S&C
>Redken Extreme S&C
>John Frieda Sheer Blonde
>L’Oréal Porfessionnel Absolute repair Cleansing Balm
>Ojon S&C
>Matrix S&C
>L’Oréal Professionnel Shine Blonde
>Aussie Miracle Moist S&C

Some have been reviewed here, but you will not be surprised to know that I could talk about hair care all the live long day.

Note to self: clean the bath.

Sweet Sixteen: Elemis Frangipani Monoi Moisture Melt

Here is my recipe for the perfect home-spa experience: Elemis Frangipani Monoi Moisture Melt.

That’s it. That’s all you need.

I’m delighted to be able to make this recommendation in typed-out words, because confidence in my articulation abilities takes a terrible dip when I try to speak the word ‘frangipani’; ‘monoi’ is not so bad, but following hard on the heels of the preceding fail, it just makes the whole situation worse that it needs to be.

{I say fraangeepannee, as opposed to the more American way, which because of the longer, fancy ‘a’ sounds, would be frahhhhngeepahhhhhnee. Both sound equally awkward to me, in my actual voice.}

Linguistics aside, this stuff is the stuff of dreams. Fill your bathroom sink with hot water. Set the bottle — the lovely smoked glass bottle — in the water so that the solid material within softens into a luscious oil. Run a bath. You could even run the bath and meltify the Melt in the tub! Whatever: at some stage, shake in a few {million} drops. Enter; recline; relax.

Dunk your head under the water, then proceed to shake a few {million} drops of the Fraheheheheh on your head. Massage into your scalp. Sigh with pleasure.

Language, and pronunciation therefore, will cease to be an issue.

Get out of the bath before you, yourself melt. Shake the previously recommended number of drops of oil on your wet skin, massage. Pat yourself dry with a towel. Maybe rinse your hair out if you’re going out that evening — although why you would is utterly beyond my comprehension. You’ve just given yourself an amazingly self-nurturing treat! Stay home! Put your feet up! Get someone to make you your tea!

The only caution I have is that I’ve heard from pals who are as in the know as I, that the Fraheheheheh yokie can tend to discolour white toweling robes. Not that you’re not going to wrap yourself up in one regardless, but know that you may have to give it a spin in the washing machine sometime after your Melt event. Or you may close your eyes to this, because your robe is going to smell gorgeous — almost as gorgeous as you do.


Sweet Sixteen: Bliss Vanilla + Bergamot

I’ll always remember the first time I got a whiff of Bliss’ cunning combination of vanilla and bergamot: I was working as the art director of a super cool magazine, and one of my colleagues just about thrust an open tub of the Body Buff under my nose. ‘Oh, my God!’ I sighed. ‘It smells like the beach!’*

If ever there was a hoard-worthy product line, it is this one. I couldn’t bear to not have it around, just in case — and ‘just in case’ = the possibility of sharing my fragrant, beachy, perfectly exfoliated skin with a… ‘friend’. As it is, this scent almost exists almost entirely in my memory, because I allow myself to use it so rarely. (Which either says sad things about the state of my… ‘friendships’, or implies that I choose my ‘friends’ with extreme care. Let’s agree on the latter, shall we?)

Oh, but when I do decide to break out the V+B, I do it thoroughly and completely. The Body Buff is truly superb, and one of the top five I have ever used. The Soapy Suds come next, naturally, and of course it is all capped off with the wonderfully rich Body Butter. I only wish there was a shampoo and conditioner. And a perfume. And a — a hat, or something. I wish there were clothes that smelled like this.

You think I’m kidding, don’t you? I am so not. The smell of the seashore is hardwired into the pleasure centre of my brain, so that, like a rat in a Skinner box, once I get a whiff of beachy goodness all I want is more. Some of the best times of my life were spent oceanside, and a tonne of unencumbered joy is triggered by the glorious scent of the auld V+B. I am a great believer in aromatherapy, and the days in which I walk around, wafting the joyful fragrance of undiluted joy and optimism, I have a very joyful and optimistic day. It is totally true.

Body Buff £28/€39/$36, Body Butter £20/€25/$28, Soapy Suds £16/€22/$18

*I have absolutely no idea why the combination of vanilla + bergamot smells like the beach, but it does.