Beauty Rocks: December Top Picks

Christmas is just around the corner! I am like a little kid at Christmas and I can barely contain my excitement at the thought of being with friends and family, eating lots of food and giving gifts. Plus a few days off never hurt anyone either!

I have gathered together my faves from this month and included some gifts I will be giving my nearest and dearest.

1. Balance Me

https://www.balanceme.co.uk/

I love Balance Me, they are one of my favourite natural brands. Natural brands are competing more and more with non-natural brands because they are backed by science. Balance Me has great products for a reasonable price point. Case in point below – Rose Otto Body Wash – lovely rosy smell and no nasty sulphates. It also contains a blend of skin-quenching essential oils – rose otto, palma rosa and mood-balancing rose geranium. Mood balancing? Better use this one in the morning.

Hand cream is also where Balance Me excels. With the cold weather, indoor heating and frequent washing – well, this certainly takes its toll on hands. Enter in the ‘Super Protecting Hand Cream Set’ . My favourite of the two has to be the Rose Otto. It will make your hands feel nourished and velvety-smooth.

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2. Asda ‘Made With Love Slipper Sock Set’

http://direct.asda.com/

This little cracker of a gift is only £10.00! Which makes it perfect for a Secret Santa gift where usually the budget is a tenner per person. I take Secret Santa pretty seriously so if I got this gift I would be extremely pleased. The slipper socks are a dream to wear around the house – very cosy indeed. Also comes with bath salts, foot cream and a bath fizzer. Great value present!

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3. British Beauty Blogger Eye Pencil Collection

http://www.marksandspencer.com/eye-pencil-kit/p/p22325461

If you have ever wanted to have every colour of eye pencil here it is! There are eight colours in this collection – from light blue to a sparkly black (my favourite). British Beauty blogger, AKA Jane Cunningham has created these with M&S. I love it when bloggers collaborate with big brands and Jane is a beauty journalist who has been in the industry for years so knows a thing or two about beauty!

I am planning to wear the black sparkly liner for New Year’s Eve – its unique texture and added sparkle adds an extra edge to the eye and is certainly a twist to the regular, plain old black liner. I’ve been using pencil liners for awhile now because I find them easier to use to draw a straight line on my eyelids.

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 4. GlamGlow

http://bit.ly/1xbnrtq

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I first loved GlamGlow for YOUTHMUD – a tingling sensation of a mud mask combined with an exfoliating treatment. It left my skin soft and smooth and had a toning effect. Used in Hollywood behind the scenes for a few years, word soon spread and this YOUTHMUD became big!

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I’ve been eager to try GlamGlow THIRSTYMUD and GlamGlow POWERMUD since.

POWERMUD is a mud to oil cleansing mask. The clay mask removes built up impurities and as it only needs to stay on for about ten minutes, it’s very easy to apply quickly and then remove. As soon as you use water, the clay turns into a cleansing oil, which feels very soothing to the skin and removes any remaining impurities brought up by the clay. This is a great mask for someone with dry skin as it doesn’t leave the skin feeling dry and stripped of moisture afterwards.

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THIRSTYMUD I had heard great things about from other bloggers so wanted to see for myself. It boasts 4 of the newest, most advanced and extreme hydration active technologies, providing deep and instant extreme hydration for long, medium and short term results. What I liked about it is that it can be applied on international flights as it goes on like a lotion – to keep skin from getting dried out.

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 6. Concoction 

http://www.boots.com/en/Concoction/

Concoction is a very cool new concept in haircare. Their formulas allow you to actually create your own shampoo and in this recent trend of personalisation, well, this is pretty exciting! I chose to create my own shampoo ‘concoction’ and went with a base Nourish & Protect Shampyou in Black Pepper + Citrus because it sounded invigorating. Once you choose a base shampoo you can then choose two superserum shots to add into the shampoo, effectively creating your own bespoke shampoo. Pretty neat right?

My two superserum shot choices were based on what I believe my hair needs so I went with ‘Gimme More Moisture’ and ‘Turn up the Volume’. The fragrance of my own Concoction smells delicious and is invigorating, just as I expected. Creating the actual shampoo is also fun and this makes a fabulous and unique gift for any lover of beauty.

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Getting Cosy with Brora

Baby it’s cold outside! As the popular song written by Frank Loesser in 1944 goes, I couldn’t agree more. Not only do I want to snuggle up inside where it’s nice and warm but I also want to do it in style.

I have long been obsessed with Scottish tartan – the colours and patterns are beautiful and always remain a classic. Like a little black dress, it never goes out of fashion.

I’ve recently discovered Brora, a Scottish cashmere brand that also does amazing lambswool blankets in a range of colours.

http://www.brora.co.uk

 

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I’ve got the turquoise and cobalt colour which makes a lovely decorative throw for the couch, a picnic blanket (but who would really want to get this dirty?) or something to throw on the bed for extra warmth at night. Cashmere and wool pieces are really something to invest in as they don’t often come with a cheap price tag and they are something that you are going to want to use time and time again, season after season.

You could even use this as a wrap like I did below – capes and wraps are always in season, especially in tartan.

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DSC_0617The lambswool blankets are really reasonable at £69.00 and also make a perfect gift for Christmas for someone that appreciates a thoughtful quality present. Also, being a truly a British brand this makes a great gift for someone out of the country as well!

Brora also sells luxury cashmere and even unique jewellery pieces. I picked up a very reasonable pair of cashmere gloves in ‘Flannel’ for £39.00 which will make a great gift for either a man or a woman. I hate anything scratchy on my skin and itchy gloves give me goosebumps. I’m shivering just thinking about it. So I’m pretty picky when it comes to gloves – I want them to be soft and soothing and these cashmere ones tick both boxes.

Also-who doesn’t want a pair of cashmere gloves?! Another great gift idea for Christmas.

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Currently on my wish list for Santa from Brora? This chalcedony pendant necklace with a Cobalt Blue stone set on a gold plated chain. Absolutely stunning and a sure conversation starter. We’ll wait and see what’s under the tree.

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iStyle: New Look

I love New Look for their prices and for their clothes, of course. They have also recently undergone a re-branding of their stores which makes the look and feel compete with that of Topshop. I’ve styled three pieces here…

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DSC_0601New Look Pastel Coat

http://www.newlook.com/

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My recent love from New Look has been this Lavender Pastel Coat, which looks very expensive and very French to me. I can certainly see myself twirling about the streets of Paris in this. It’s classy and has clean lines. And it was mistaken by several people to be from Zara. I got lots of compliments on this and it will certainly brighten up any old sad winter day. Ooh la la.

New Look Fur Stole

http://www.newlook.com/

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Again, I have recently been very impressed with New Look’s winter offerings. I love this faux fur stole because it looks so luxe and real! Faux fur is having its moment now and I am pleased because it has lost that horrible cheap look. I’m picky when it comes to faux fur but I love this one and as an added benefit it is very cozy and warm. And no animals were harmed in the making of this!

New Look Kimono Top

http://www.newlook.com/

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I love kimono tops because they remind me of summers, warm weather and festival fashion. This one from New Look was half price at £12.00 and it is certainly worth every penny. I’ve had so many compliments on it and looks great in the winter too. For a boho look, pair with Chelsea boots, bed hair and ripped skinny jeans.

Le Couvent Des Minimes Launches in the UK

Le Couvent Des Minimes is the new little brother (or sister) brand from L’Occitane and has just landed in the UK in November. The brand has a wonderful story, with origins coming from a convent in France that is still going today. The products are made with natural recipes that have been the same recipes used since the convent was founded in the 1600s so I can certainly appreciate the long tradition that has gone into these products and the heritage behind the brand.

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For a natural brand, the price point of the products is very reasonable and the quality is fantastic and suitable for sensitive skin. My favourite product within the brand is the Botanical Recipe of the Morning Gift Set which is only £15.00 for four fab products. I think this makes a great gift for Christmas for someone who loves beauty and also loves a nice natural brand.

The Botanical Recipe of the Morning ingredients pay tribute to the particular time of the day when nature comes to life and the Convent wakes to the sounds of the bells that signify the start of the day.

I originally thought the products smelled of pear until I learned that it was actually apple which got me thinking…why don’t more brands use apple in their products?! The actual scent of the products is of apple, citrus and musk.

The gift set comes with four products:

Le Couvent Des Minimes Botanical Recipe of the Morning Body Moisturiser

http://uk.lecouventdesminimes.com/

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I have to be honest and say that I used this 50ml body moisturiser up really quickly. It was lovely – lightly scented and not greasy at all.

Le Couvent Des Minimes Botanical Recipe of the Morning Moisturising Hand Cream

http://uk.lecouventdesminimes.com/

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The packaging of this product is very similar to L’Occitane and this 25ml hand cream is the perfect handbag size to carry around for moisture on-the-go!

Le Couvent Des Minimes Botanical Recipe of the Morning Soap Bar

http://uk.lecouventdesminimes.com/

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This is a great soap to give as a gift with vintage packaging. I love that soaps have made a recent comeback!

Le Couvent Des Minimes Botanical Recipe of the Morning Shower Dew

http://uk.lecouventdesminimes.com/

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I love the name of this – shower dew! It smells like dew as well – lightly scented with natural ingredients, this is sure to wake you up in the morning.

HEMA Launches in UK

Has anyone heard of HEMA?

http://www.hemashop.com/gb/

Well, if you haven’t, you will soon wish you did. HEMA is a Dutch discount retail store. I like to think of it as a Dutch Poundland except more upmarket. It has a wide selection of products including jewellery, make-up, basic clothing, food items and kitchen accessories. All prices are fully rounded up so it makes it easy to calculate exactly what you are spending. HEMA is located in Victoria Place Shopping Centre in Victoria station so it’s great if you have some time before you have to catch your next train and you are looking to do some shopping to kill some time. I visited the store and stocked up on a few goodies. In the end I spent about £30.00 on the below items.

HEMA iPad case

I absolutely love my HEMA iPad case. It’s a ‘smartcover’ case, which means it’s magnetic and it comes in pink, one of my favourite girly colours. I had a very ugly iPad cover previously and this HEMA one came in at about £20.00 which is a sliver of the price of other retailers for something similar. So this is a great gift for a techie friend or anyone who had an ugly iPad cover, like I did.

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HEMA Earrings

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HEMA also carries jewellery including adorable earrings which are very tempting, especially for the price. I love my set of these various styles. They are simple, work with a variety of outfits and were a very good price at £5.00. So if I lose one I will be disappointed but it won’t be the end of the world! Give these to a friend who likes shiny things:)

HEMA Smudge Brush

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Some of HEMA’s brushes are of an incredible quality. I have the smudge brush which is a double ended brush and it is great for creating a smoky eye, blending or for applying shadow. I’ve been really impressed by this and the brush was around £3.00. I am now using mine everyday. Definitely a great budget beauty buy!

Beauty Rocks Top Picks of the Week under £50.00

Christmas is just around the corner and I have been busy looking for gifts for all my favourite people and also testing beauty products (one of my favourite hobbies-of course).

So many amazing products come out this time of year, just in time for the holidays.

So, I am bringing you my favourite picks of the week and I promise you that they are all under £50.00!

  1. Bio-Oil

http://www.bio-oil.com/en/

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Bio-Oil is one of those cult classics that have been around for a long time. I remember when I first stumbled across it years ago when a friend recommended it to me after saying it helped with acne scarring. Since then I’ve mostly used it on my neck and chest area at night and even on my shoulders to lighten dark spots caused by the sun. Facial oils are more popular than ever but we have to give credit where credit is due sometimes and Bio-Oil has always been around as long as I remember. It’s also reasonably-priced and does the trick.

  1. Butterfly by Matthew Williamson Floral Candle

http://bit.ly/1yaUpd6

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Matthew Williamson designs a gorgeous collection at Debenhams called Butterfly and those designs feature around floral and butterfly motifs which are whimsically lovely. I always love a good candle and this one comes in a lovely design which makes it a great gift for a friend or as a table piece centre for a holiday party.

  1. Paul & Joe Eyebrow Pencil Duo

http://www.selfridges.com

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I always fall in love with Paul & Joe packaging because it is so well… lovely! I think their products make great gifts because the packaging is simply so pretty. The eyebrow pencil duo comes in two colours so you can use both to create highlights within the eyebrow or go darker or lighter depending on the day. The tip of this is quite hard so it allows you to draw individual ‘hairs’ to make it look more natural. Make sure your skin is dry and matte when you use this to really draw those hairs on.

  1. Paul & Joe Illuminating Touch Pen

http://www.selfridges.com

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It’s all about highlighting these days and this touch pen makes it very easy to do. This is another product that is great for dry skin as it creates that dewy glow! Can be used to touch up make-up throughout the day to give you that nice, fresh and clean look.

  1. Kenneth Cole Mankind EDT

http://www.sasandcompany.com/

http://www.kennethcole.com

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I love the packaging on this bottle and this would make a great gift for a manly man because the sides of the bottle are lined with leather and looks very stylish. I thought this fragrance had a very zesty and energising scent so it would be great for a guy who really likes to get up and go in the morning! Or it might also work to motivate the kind of guy who finds it hard to get out of bed because this is something worth getting out of bed for. With top notes of pineapple, pear, cardamom, tarragon leaves and zesty ginger it is certainly a unique fragrance for men. Also contains more subtle notes of cinnamon, sandalwood, oak moss, and musk.  For the manly man indeed.

  1. Boux Avenue PJs in a Bag

http://bouxavenue.com

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I absolutely love my Boux PJs in a Bag and these make an absolutely fabulous gift with their fun designs (mine have owls on them which are ever so popular this season). The PJs fold up into a bag so these are great for people who travel a lot or who spend a lot of nights partying and sleeping over at other people’s places and need to take their PJs to go! The PJs are also currently on offer at 2 for £25.00 so you can also pick yourself up a pair at the same time. The material is soft and cozy and make you just want to stay inside on those cold winter nights. Highly recommended for yourself or a friend (there’s a pair for each).

  1. Limited Collection Eyeshadow Stick Collection and Eyeshadow Palette

http://www.marksandspencer.com

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Limited Collection is a line stocked at M&S and for three eyeshadow sticks at £10.00 this is a great bargain! I love an eyeshadow stick because they are so convenient to apply. I also have oily eyelids so love crème eyeshadow products because they work with my skin better. The eyeshadow palette comes with enough colours to create a perfect smoky eye or if you want to you can just stick with a neutral gold for the holiday season.

  1. Debenhams Lounge & Sleep ‘Spots’ Bathrobe

www.debenhams.com 

This is the cosiest bathrobe I have ever owned and at £25.00 it is a great find because bathrobes are particularly expensive these days, with starting prices usually at £45.00 and up. The fabric is really light so it doesn’t feel heavy. Did I also mention it is super soft and comforting to be wrapped up in? It reminds me of the same comforting feeling of having your favourite teddy bear with you as a child. This is a must-have for the cold winter nights that lie ahead. Brrrr.

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Beauty Rocks Asks: Q&A with Celebrity Make-up Artist Selen Hurer

I had the recent opportunity to ask celebrity MUA, Selen Hurer a few questions. Selen is working with 1-Day Acuvue Define, which is the first beauty enhancing contact lens. Together they have worked on how to achieve the must-have looks for the season and Beauty Rocks was able to do a personal Q&A with Selen to get the inside scoop.

BR: What are the make-up trends you are seeing for SS15? Anything new and exciting?

SH: The most popular upcoming trends I have seen are bronzed skin, dewy / luminous skin, glossy lips, taupe eyes and pastel eyes. However there were a few surprises on the catwalk from red lips to smokey plum eyes and graphic black eyeliner flicks .To help add further definition to eyes, those that wear contact lenses can try the new eye enhancement contact lenses, 1-DAY ACUVUE® DEFINE™, they provide a nice clean edge around the iris, providing definition, depth and dimension to the eye.

BR: What’s the number one mistake you see people making when it comes to make-up?

SH: The biggest mistake I see reoccurring is orange/dark faces and light necks! Always remember that foundation isn’t bronzer. It’s not designed to change the colour of the skin. You need to choose a foundation that is close to your natural colour. Foundation is not meant to mask the skin, if you can’t see it then you have picked the right shade. Sometimes it may not be possible to find a single product that does this effectively. For more natural results, buy two or three different shades and mix them to arrive at the right colour. When choosing a colour try to have a look in natural light as the artificial bright lights in department stores can be misleading. Bear in mind the oils in the skin can cause some types of foundations oxidize throughout the day, causing the foundation to look darker.

BR: What are your top three favourite make-up products you can’t live without?

SH: 1. I cannot live without my Dr Lipp Nipple Balm. It is my kit essential. It is fantastic for lips as you can use it as a gloss mixed in with lipstick. It’s great for eczema, cuticles, dry skin on elbows and fantastic for split ends!

2. Laura Mercier eye basics. This product is a fantastic eyelid primer. It neutralises the redness and makes the eyeshadow go on smoother and makes it stay on the whole day without creasing. I have oily eyelids and this works a treat.

3. Maybelline Volume Express The Colossal Mascara 100% Black. I love this mascara as it makes your lashes huge! It is non-drying and non-clumping. Perfect for lens wearers and for naturally enhanced beautiful eyes try the 1-DAY ACUVUE® DEFINE™ lenses in Natural Sparkle and Natural Shimmer. They are so comfortable you forget they are in!

BR: How did you become a make-up artist?

SH: I knew I wanted to become a make-up artist at a very young age. I was always creative at school and loved to paint and draw. Straight after my A- Levels, I did a 2 year make-up and hair course at the London College Of Fashion. From then I worked with various make-up brands which helped build my make-up skills and confidence. Later I assisted make-up designers on shoots working for free to get my foot in the door.

BR: What’s a career highlight?

SH: I have worked on some exciting projects and have met some amazing people but I would say my biggest highlight was working on the last Harry Potter movie. For me it was a dream come true as I am a big fan! I also had the privilege to work at the London 2012 Paralympic Games where I got to make up the athletes for interviews.

Thanks to Selen for answering my questions!

***

About Acuvue Define:

*This new eye enhancement contact lens is currently available in Boots Opticians and will be available from all UK Opticians from mid-November 2014. Book an appointment in-store at Boots Opticians or online at boots.com for a five-day trial**. In 2015 1-DAY ACUVUE® DEFINE™ will be widely available through most opticians across the UK and Ireland.

** Terms and conditions can be found on: https://www.acuvue.co.uk/1-day-acuvue-define/free_trial.

Glossybox: November Review

When Glossybox arrives at my house every month I get as excited as a kid at Christmas. Honestly, I can’t wait to open it and see what goodies are inside. November’s box did not disappoint, in fact it was quite pleasing!

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Here is a peek at what was inside:

Umberto Gianni Frizzi: Miracle Worker with Argan Oil

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This retails at £8.00 at Boots so this was a great value full-sized product in the box. I used it on my wet hair after washing for a lovely treatment for my tresses along with the added benefit of heat protection. This is great for dry ends and with the cold weather and indoor heating; this is a definite must-have to protect against split ends.

Monu Soothing Hawaii Facial Oil

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I had never heard of this brand before and I love to get products inside the Glossybox that I have never tried. It’s great for educating me on other brands out there and since I am a beauty junkie at heart, I love trying new products.

This is a warming facial oil containing Cardamom, Sandalwood and Lavender to soften, comfort and restore healthy skin. The smell is great and very relaxing with the lavender scent so I would recommend using this in the evening to help you relax before going to bed.

H20 + Hydrating Treatment

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This is a moisturising gel but I used it as a cooling mask in the morning when I had puffy eyes and my skin felt really refreshed after about five minutes – the key is to keep this little gem in the fridge. This product would be perfect for a beach holiday because it’s lightweight and won’t make skin feel greasy.

Burt’s Bees Lip Shine

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I love Burt’s Bees products because they are 100% goodness. You know when you are applying them you aren’t putting any chemical nasties on your skin and that’s why I love their lip products as well. Apparently, women ingest a lot of lip product every year so if you are going to swallow it, it might as well be natural right?

Lollipops Paris Long Lasting Eyes Pencil in Goodbye MoonDSC_0575

I liked this eye pencil a lot. Why? Because it lasted. I have oily skin so find it hard to find eye pencils that don’t smudge halfway down my face before noon.

To find out more about Glossybox, visit www.glossybox.co.uk

Holiday Nails

I can never resist nail polish and change it nearly as many times as I change my outfits. Like fellow blogger Indra from Alice In Beautyland http://aliceinbeautyland.co.uk/ says, ‘Nails are jewels, not tools’. I see nails as an extension of my outfit, like a lovely statement piece of jewellery and when my nails are chipped and jagged I simply feel undone.

Recently I am loving this classic red ‘Beaufort Street’ by Nails Inc http://nailsinc.com/ . It has plasticiser technology so there is a very glossy, gel effect. Red nails always look classy and for the holidays at least you will match Santa’s costume if you are rocking a red nail.

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I have also recently grown to love No7’s nail range at Boots http://boots.com. I’ve been looking for a good base coat and a good top coat (there is a difference) for my nails and No7 has both of them for a reasonable £6.00 each. What you put on the base of your nails should be gentle and you should never apply nail polish directly to nails as the colour will leach into your nails and that’s when your nails get stained. No7 Stay Perfect Nail Base Coat improves wear and condition of nails and prevents breaks and splits for a stronger nail.

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No7’s Stay Perfect Nail Top Coat dries in seconds as well so this is great to use if you don’t have much time and also helps to make your mani last longer and prevent chipping. For nail and make-up looks from No7 for the holiday season you can also check out http://www.boots.com/en/No-7/No7-make-up-inspiration/Get-the-look/

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Red and Gold are the perfect colours for a holiday nail look and my top picks include No7 Gel-Look Shine Nail Colour in Golden Sands (top right). The colour is a lovely rose gold and the brushes of the No7 nail range are good for applying nail polish as well and make the application process very easy. If you don’t like rose gold you can opt for a luxe classic gold with No 7 Stay Perfect Exquisite Gold (top left).

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With the darker days I also like to go for darker nail colours so absolutely love No7 Stay Perfect Nail Polish in Patent Blue. This is a glossy deep blue and paired with the Lola Ultra Shine Nail Polish (available from Marks & Spencer) in Sandstorm on your ring finger you can rock a lovely colour-blocking style that’s perfect for the holiday season.

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Beauty Rocks Interviews Founder of Sabon

Recently Beauty Rocks had a chance to put forth some questions to Avi Piatok, one of the founders of Sabon, the luxury natural bath and body brand that has just launched in the UK in Covent Garden. Here’s what he had to say…
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1. If you could take 3 Sabon products with you on a desert island but could only have three what would they be and why?

That’s a hard decision but if we could only take 3 products it would be: the body care ritual products (our best sellers), the shower oil, body scrub and classic body lotion. The shower oil is a liquid-based soap which contains olive oil, Avocado oil, Jojoba oil and Wheat germ oil. It nourishes and pampers the skin leaving it soft and silky. The body scrub contains natural dead sea salt and oils. The salt exfoliates the skin, removing dead skin cells and revealing a new and soft layer. It is rich in Almond oil, Jojoba oil, omega 3,6,9 and vitamin E. Then, our classic body lotion, which is rich in natural oils such as Borage and Avocado oil, quickly absorbs in to the skin, keeping it nourished and healthy. The fragrance lasts for hours!

2. What motivated you to start the Sabon brand?

SABON came to the world out of our love for textures and scents, the art of grooming and pleasure, creation and listening, and out of the will to provide people with hours of relaxation and magic within their stormy everyday life. I [Avi Piatok] had previously worked importing housewares and exposed to the world of soaps. I approached my friend Sigal [Kotler-Levi], who was still a student at the time, and suggested we open a store together producing and selling hand-made soaps – a unique and innovative concept.

3. What is a typical day behind the scenes of Sabon like?

Every product starts with an idea. The marketing department, together with the development department, compose a products brief which is then transferred to the development team for further process. The formula is finalised to make sure it complies with all regulations. The fragrances is concocted, and packaging materials and the final design of the product are reached and then the final product information file is transferred to manufacturing, before it is then distributed worldwide.

Have you tried Sabon yet? It’s very hard to choose a favourite because all the products are amazing and affordable as well. My favourite is the Honey Peach Mineral Powder – it’s perfect for a long soak in the tub.

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