Selfridges Christmas Collection: Top 5 Picks

Monday, 17 November 2014

As a teenager (when I'd begun earning my own wage in my weekend job as a kitchen porter/dog's body) I waited with (almost) baited breath for the Christmas shopping catalogues to come out. Getting my hands on a gift guide or two - each of which was brimming with beautiful cosmetic sets and quirky knick nacks - signalled the start of the festive season for me. And to this day, some 15 years on, I still love leafing through their glossy pages. I know, I know, I'm an advertiser's dream.

 Clicking through the oh-so-festive pages of Selfridges website is the online equivalent for a Christmas-loving gal like myself, and I've already formulated a wish list in my head.

In the run up to Christmas, I'm planning on treating myself to at least one of the delights pictured below. With two festive parties on the way and a friend's winter wedding to go to, I've picked out five of my favourites from Selfridges gorgeous collection.

1. Laura Mercier's Creme Brulee Eau De Toilette

I'm not usually a fan of the sickly sweet when it comes to perfumes, but if this Creme Brulee fragrance by Laura Mercier is even half as lovely as the brand's pistachio scent, it's a winner. A real treat for the festive season.

2. Bobbi Brown Creamy Matte Lip Colour 

I love a red lip at the best of times, but I'll be wearing one even more as soon as I flip my calendar over to 'December'. For that winter wedding I just mentioned, I'm going to go for a subtle sparkly eye and a slick of matte red lipstick, like Bobbi Brown's creamy matte offering in 'Red Carpet'.

3. Penhaligon's Bluebell Bath Oil

Now, I'm not going to lie to you, Penhaligon's is pricey. But I'm hooked! I sprayed a little of its Elenisia fragrance on one of those cardboard swabs in one of its London stores last year and just had to trek back through the capital later that day to buy it. I've had my eye on the brand's Bluebell scent for a while, and this bath oil presents a more affordable way to try it (the fragrance is £85!).

4. MAC Objects of Affection Eyeshadow Pigments 

If you're a fan of MAC, you'll know the brand's pigments don't come cheap. But at £26, this little gift set is great value, offering five mini MAC products in a cute cameo gift box.

5. Clinique Whole Lotta Chubby Set

I've tried - and loved  - the Revlon version of these famous chunky lip crayons, but I'm yet to try the real thing. By Clinique, these lipsticks are easy to wear and come in four great shades in a handy make-up bag. When you consider that one chubby stick is £13 online, this is a great gift set at just £20!

Have you got your eye on anything at Selfridges? What's on your Christmas wishlist this year?

Pssst! Keep your eye on A Lauren to Herself throughout December; I'll be bringing back my annual ALTH Advent Bonanza, with a prize up for grabs every week of Advent. Sit tight!

Unboxing...the Exclusive Diane Von Furstenberg My Little (Subscription) Box

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The day the postie brings France's own beauty subscription box - My Little Box - is fast becoming one of the best days of the month.

Why? Like Forest Gump says, 'you never know what you're gonna get!'. True, each and every subscription box of this nature has an element of surprise at it's very core, but with My Little Box, you're always in for something cool besides the usual cosmetics, too.

Last month, I received a case for my tablet. The month before a bracelet. And the month before that I got a cute set of playing cards.

But the brand has really pulled it out of month with its exclusive Diane Von Furstenberg box.

Take a look....

Contents of this month's box included a gorgeous head scarf, a pin brooch, hairspray, miscellar facial water, hairspray and hand cream

At around £15 per month, the subscription service from My Little Box represents excellent value for money - and the latest box was no exception.

The highlight for me this month was the beautiful Diane Von Furstenburg-designed head scarf, which came in a gorgeous cardboard envelope offering diagrams displaying the many different ways you can put the accessory to good use. I've been wrapping it around my neck (you know, the old fashioned way) but I'm definitely going to try it tied around my handbag, too.

If all that wasn't enough, there was also a 'red lips' pin brooch, a miscellar water (it's very nice, by the way) a Kerastase hair spray, and a mini L'Occittane hand cream.

A perfect selection of products and a fittingly stylish box from a seriously stylish woman!

I can't wait to see what the brand has in store next month...

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review consideration. I have not been paid to write this post, neither am I affiliated with the brand in any way. All opinions are my own and 100% honest, as always.

Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair: Should You Believe the Hype?

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The media may (sometimes) urge us to embrace our imperfections, but if you're anything like me, when you look in the mirror, you'll immediately hone in on the bits about your body or face you hate. Even on (relatively few and far between) good hair days, or evenings when you've managed to find a frock which doesn't cling to your lumpy bits, but hugs you in all the right places, you still focus on that one small thing you'd rather be without.

For me, that 'thing' is my complexion. If acne was a person, it'd be the pig-headed Mean Girls-esque b**ch of the class. The skin disorder clearly didn't think it'd done me enough damage during my teenage years, forcing me to wear trowel-loads of make-up and feel, well, just a little bit self-conscious when I'd sweated it all off during PE. Instead, as a grim reminder of my younger days, acne has quite helpfully (NOT) left behind more than just a handful of unsightly scars and marks.

Cue Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair, which I've heard can work wonders on everything from acne, acne scarring, to hyper-pigmentation and even milia.

Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair, 30ml

The first thing I'll say about this product - hailed an absolute bathroom cabinet-must have for some years - is it ain't cheap. In fact, brace yourselves: it's £43 for a 30ml bottle, with the larger 50ml bottle coming in at around £60.
While this is way out of my price range for skincare in general, when it comes to products hailed for their acne-busting and scar-repairing abilities I have, and will, shell out a little more.

So, let's have a glance at the product then shall we?

Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair serum
The brand's Advanced Night Repair may well have been rebranded recently (with a slightly different name), but if bloggers' reviews are anything to go by it's still the same great product.
Now named Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II, the product has won countless beauty awards and is well-known for its transformative effects on the skin. 
It aims to not only visibly reduce the signs of ageing (with over 75% of women saying their skin looked more youthful after using this), but it offers fresher, more rested skin and a hydration boost for dryer complexions.
How Does it Work?
Apparently, skin renews itself at night, and this product works to maximise this renewal during sleep, thanks to the exclusive ChronoluxCB™ Technology it comprises. In layman's terms, the product offers intense hydration during the night (when your skin best repairs itself), while preventing the appearance of past damage to your complexion during the day.

Application feels extremely luxurious, with an almost clinical-like pipette dropper. I've been applying this after cleansing and just before bed, using four or five drops, rubbing them between my fingers and gently smoothing over my face.

 So, is it Worth the Hype?

I'm not sure if it's just a case of wishful thinking, but I've noticed a huge improvement in the appearance of my skin's marks and scars. I've been using the product for around three weeks and already I've noticed a difference; with marks looking smoother and my skin appearing brighter in general.

Thinking of giving the product a go? I'd say see if you can get hold of a sample first; it's an expensive product to take a punt on, but I'm pretty sure you'll notice some benefits - even if it is just smoother, fresher-looking skin - in a matter of weeks.

Have you tried Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair? What are your thoughts?

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review consideration; I have not been paid to write this post; neither am I affiliated with the brand in any way. All views are my own and 100% honest, as always.

Unboxing: My Little Box's My Little Parisienne Box

Monday, 13 October 2014

Just when you thought My Little Box - the latest in a rather long line of subscription beauty boxes - couldn't get any more quirky, the brand releases its cool, Parisienne style offering.

The box, a French take on postal subscription boxes - comes via France, and each month follows a different theme. So far, I've received this My Little Summer Box, and the brand's My Little Sunset Box. And from one month to the next, you really have no idea what you're going to get inside.

For anyone unfamiliar with subscription services like this, basically, you pay a set amount each month and in return receive a 'surprise' package in the mail, containing any number of make-up or non-beauty treats.

Of course, for many people, it's all about the surprise element. And for your £15 or so pounds each month, you tend to get a lot for your money. A bonus if you've had at least one of the items on your wishlist, too.
Top row: My Little Box's tablet/ipad case, Unboxing and the cute little bag each month's products come in

What I really love about this box from My Little Box, though, is, unlike other subscription services like it, it's not all about beauty products,

Contained inside this month's box, for example (alongside a few lovely beauty treats - all packaged in the box's fail-safe mini linen bag, see top right) I received a cute French-inspired notebook, some quirky stickers, and a rather sweet little iPad/tablet case. 

Top row: A peek at this month's gifts, Laura Mercier primer, Nuxe oil and a My Little Box own brand concealer

Perhaps the highlight for me, though? Getting my hands on Laura Mercier's famous foundation primer. I've heard such a lot about the brand, and despite treating myself to one of LM's lipsticks recently, I could never quite justify the prices of the primer or foundation. Thankfully, I could now try the primer in travel-sized form for free - and let me tell you, it's like Polyfiller for the face - a real make-up bag must-have.

Also contained in this month's box is a NUXE hair and body oil in a mini size, and a My Little Box own branded concealer. A great little collection of items, I'm sure you'll agree, and a lovely tribute to the   city in which the box was founded

If you haven't already, head to the My Little Box website and check it out. Here are the prices; not bad when you consider for around £15 per month you'll get three or so beauty products and a couple of surprise extras. Last month's goodies included a box of playing cards and a dainty bracelet.

I'm umming and ahhing about treating my sister to a three-month subscription to this. I hope she isn't reading this blog....

Have you tried this new subscription service? What do you think?

Disclaimer: This box was sent to me for review consideration. I have not been paid to write this post, neither am I affiliated with the brand in any way. All opinions are my own and 100% honest, as always.


Sunday, 12 October 2014

I don’t recall the year I began buying my Grandad a box of wine gums for Christmas. Like charging into my sister’s bedroom shouting ‘he’s been, he’s been!’ at the very first glimpse of Santa’s loot under the tree, in the Holden household, it just went hand in hand with the festive season.

On the afternoon of December 25, we’d all bundle into the car, freezing cold and clutching a sack full of new toys we'd later excitedly show our grandparents. Grandad would greet us both with a big, warm hug, and we’d hand over a huge, beautifully-wrapped box of those deliciously moreish sweets.

His cheeky smile always suggested he knew exactly what lay inside that wrapper; he could tell from the distinctive-shaped box, and it fast became a running joke as he shook and smelled the gift, 'pretending’ to guess what was inside. Sometimes, we’d pop them into his hands with the words: ‘And here’s your wine gums, Grandad!’ They came to be one of those utterly predictable but oh so thoughtful presents; the kind of gift which, in time, almost comes to define a person.

Grandad would joke that on Boxing Day he’d secretly take the wine gums off to the nearby park,  hurriedly opening the box and delving deep inside the plastic wrapper, shoveling the sweets into his mouth, one by one. He’d do this ‘so that Nanna couldn't have any’, he jested. He loved those chewy, gummy sweets so much he just couldn't bear to share them.

This year, I’ll head to the supermarket as ever for the ‘big festive food shop’, popping in the trolley a Chocolate Orange for dad, a packet of special toffee for nanna, and, you guessed it, a huge box of wine gums for Grandad.

But I won’t get to see Grandad’s knowing grin as he sets eyes on that distinctive-shaped box. I won’t watch as he sniffs and shakes the packet, trying to ‘guess’ its contents. And I definitely won’t get to hear his tried and trusted joke about taking said box to the park and scoffing the sweets in one sitting.

Instead, I’ll unwrap his present myself, after sniffing and shaking the packet and attempting to ‘guess’ its contents. Then I’ll share the sweets around. 

This Christmas, there’ll be no jokes about sloping off to a park bench to eat them; we’ll each of us enjoy one of those moreish sweets; my Nanna, my parents, my sister, and I. And we’ll no doubt laugh about that old tradition. More importantly, though, we’ll remember Grandad: Maynard's number one fan and our number one comedian. 

A Lauren to Herself. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.