Sunday, 25 September 2016

Dr Dennis Gross Winners

The winners of the Dr Dennis Gross Giveaway are:
  1. Rachael Edwards - UK
  2. Barbara Cohen - UK
  3. Colleen Boudreau - USA
  4. Athanasia Kasimati - Greece
  5. Cecilia Espinoza - Mexico
  6. Natasha Blatter - Switzerland
  7. Julia Stern - USA
  8. Susann Rosendahl - Germany

Look out for emails. Thank you Dennis Gross Skincare! :)

Friday, 23 September 2016

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser

Describe the brand in five words.
Niche. Clean. Indie (no pun intended). New. Fresh.

What is it?
A cleanser.

Who is it for?
Anyone - particularly good for dull skins, mature skins.

What’s in it?
Purified Water, Decyl Glucoside (Veg. Oils & Sugar), Disodium Coco-Glucoside Citrate, Coco Glucoside Oleaste (Coconut and Sunflower Oil), Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein*, Xanthan Gum, Fragaria Chiloensis Seed Oil (Strawberry), Lycopene, Phenoxyethanol and Ethylhexylglycerin (both derived from natural sources)
*Note: contains gluten

What's not in it?

Possibly acne/allergy/troubling for some ingredients?
not really

Natural? Organic? Man made? Vegan?

Tested on animals/sold in territories that advocate testing?
No/No - Indie Lee has the leaping bunny seal

How does it smell?
Soft and mildly fruity.

How does it feel on the skin?/Absorption rate?
It's a gel-like texture - doesn't absorb.

How do you use it?/Where to use in your routine?
'Apply to wet skin. Rinse completely with warm water.'

I apply to dry skin, add a little water, massage in and then flannel off.

How long before you should see results?
Immediately, being a cleanser :)

How long did I test it for?
I've had it for about 6 weeks.

How much is it? /Size/Approximate cost per usage?
£29.95/$32.00 for 118ml.

What’s good about it?
A lovely cleanser that does what it says on the box. This is about the closest I get to a foaming cleanser. If you're looking for something to wean you off your traditional 'foam' products, this is one to consider. Much more gentle, but still efficacious. Although they say this will remove makeup, this is an obvious morning or second PM cleanser for me. I wouldn't waste it using it to remove makeup. Smells lovely and fresh, leaves skin soft and comfortable.

What’s not so good about it?
Nothing really. Good size, gorgeous packaging and excellent contents in the bottle itself. I wouldn't use daily if you were really dry, you'd be better off with the Rosehip Cleanser IMO.

Works well with?
The CoQ10 Toner in the range is really lovely and I do use it in place of acids on occasion, usually when I'm using the cleanser. Although you obviously don't have to :)

What’s the website like?
Nice. Basic, clean and fresh with just enough information and no 'faff'. And full ingredient listings.

Would I purchase/repurchase?
Absolutely. I bought this along with most of the range from and would repurchase.

Similar products?
OM Skincare Pure Glow Cleanser
Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip
REN Rosa Centifolia Gel Cleanser

Indie Lee Brightening Cleanser is £29.95 or $32.00 and available from and which ships worldwide.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Beauty Uniforms aka Dinner Ladies on counter

After my Love Letter to Beauty Departments earlier this month, I've spent quite a lot of time in department stores. 

Beauty Halls are an ever-changing machine, space is at a premium and brands spend a fortune on installations and keeping things fresh. Selfridges changes its counters more frequently than M&S rearrange their food department.

So here's my question: why don't they do something for their poor members of staff stuck in outdated, polyester, 80s uniforms that rather than scream 'Hi Lovely Customer! Respect me, trust me. I'm a professional!', pathetically weep 'Lord Have Mercy I hate this uniform please don't look at me.'.

Years ago I worked for a well-known brand for about 6 weeks. This particular brand has the theme of red running through their marketing/uniform. In my time with the company I wore my uniform maybe three times. It was always 'at the cleaners'. Bad Caroline. I couldn't do it. I would turn up for work in a fitted head-to-toe black suit with red lips and nails and a sleek ponytail every day, and told the staff they could do the same. Bad Manager Caroline. The department manager and store loved it. Our sales went up. Staff were noticeably happier in their work. And more comfortable. In our uniforms we looked like tomatoes. Sweaty, polyester-armpit tomatoes. No.

Tabards. Oh tabards. The less said about them the better. Burn them. Leave them with the dinner ladies, at least they protect their clothes from kids throwing food. No danger of that with moisturisers. Customers can be awkward but they generally refrain from throwing a product at you. 

Therapists. When did it become au fait to stick us in these things:

Look at this lovely lady. Stuck in a wraparound-tabard-from-hell and polyester elastic-waisted trousers. Sweaty, uncomfortable, hot, ugly. 

Which brings me to......

When I was in Harvey Nichols last week, the new department was shiny and brand spanking new. Brands had used real innovation with LED lights, massive installations with video content, iPads, everything modern. And in the middle of it was Clinique. 
Please, for the love of reality, ditch the white lab coats. Unless of course you've started employing lab technicians or doctors without telling us.

Although I suppose it could be worse. You could be an air stewardess in the 70s.

*this post was inspired by two separate conversations with buying directors from the biggest department stores in London. It's not just me being a grumpy ex-counter girl. ;)

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Ordinary - a few words from Brandon

In six and a half years of blogging I have never had so many requests to review a brand. Ever. The Ordinary has certainly hit the industry with a bang. A big bang. 

Brandon Truaxe, the Founder of Deciem, The Abnormal Beauty Company, and the parent company behind Grow Gorgeous, NIOD, Hylamide, Hand Chemistry and so many others, has traditionally been very kind to this blog and its readers, and he has once again taken some time to answer some of my initial thoughts/questions. Do bear in mind that I know Brandon, and therefore the questions are a little more 'direct' than they perhaps may have been if I was talking to a stranger. He doesn't mind. :)

Why have you made the Ordinary?
Because brands, big and small, continue to disguise commodity innovation for ingenuity through creative use of packaging, communication and pricing. It had to be done. No one in the world of vitamins can charge $300 for a tin of vitamin A tablets because that industry comes with more transparency but you can easily find virtually the same formulations ranging from $5 to $500+ in the world of beauty.

How have you made it so affordable?
We have applied our very standard margin % across all the products in The Ordinary and, in fact, our average margin % in The Ordinary is far higher than, say, NIOD's Flavanone Mud, which has our lowest margin to make it sensibly priced. For example, very high purity Niacinamide costs under $10 per KG and so the cost of all materials in Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is under $1 (£0.5). Most of the cost actually goes into compounding, testing (inbound and outbound) and retail costs/margins. We haven't cut any margin % and The Ordinary is a sustainable model.

How do the %s of actives compare with the rest of the Deciem range?
If we use an active ingredient, we almost always use it at the highest, or a very high, concentration, regardless of the brand and The Ordinary is no exception. Our other brands simply have different approaches in the ingredients they use (some are over $5m per KG) and their combinations (it's a nightmare to stabilise all of the ingredients in NIOD NEC). I am not sure that any of The Ordinary formulations can actually include any more % of the actives used (chemically or legally).

Are you worried that people will buy the Ordinary and that it will hit the sales of your more expensive brands?
Not at all because any offering we have that is more expensive is not so because the "brand" is more expensive but because the product offers something else. If any product from The Ordinary was offered under NIOD or Hylamide, its price would have been the same. The Ordinary is not a mass-market brand and it actually targets a very educated audience (just look at the product names) irrespective of budget who understands ingredients and does not allow marketing to win over very clear science.

Would you have been able to produce the Ordinary without the sales/income stream from Deciem e.g. selling Grow Gorgeous? 
Beauty is still a business, while I completely agree about £500 creams etc, surely brands are allowed to make a profit?
Any business requires capital to start—whether it's tax-paid money, loans, investments or revenue stream - makes no difference. DECIEM has been fortunate to be successful and we have invested our resources to create The Ordinary amongst many other things. Selling Grow Gorgeous was done to have the cash to open DECIEM stores globally not to fund new brands. Yes, beauty is a business and yes brands are allowed to make a profit: The Ordinary has a higher profit margin than many NIOD products and I shared an example cost breakdown. But no, it does not make sense for a brand to sell a simple commodity formula that costs $1 to make for $500 while the rest of the world operates on less greedy margins. The Ordinary is a very serious business and is not formed as a charity or to make a point.

So there you have it. The Ordinary is here to stay, a serious brand, not temporary, not gimmicky, the real deal. The proof will be in the pudding and repeat business. I strongly suspect The Ordinary to fly. I know Brandon and know that he would never put something to market that didn't work. It would go against his DNA. I personally would've preferred the products to be less confusing than NIOD, but those of you hoping for an easy-to-read 'serum' explaining when to use it and what with, you're out of luck. The products are still labelled very scientifically with what they are made up of, rather than what they will actually do for you.
See 'Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F (coming soon)' for example.

Brandon is absolutely right on one score, I know brands that charge nearly £500 for a 50ml moisturiser that cost 8€ a kilo to make. Ridiculous.
While there is an absolute need for more transparency and brilliant affordable products, I do wonder if Brandon, being a geeky male (sorry Brandon - but you know what I mean! It's a compliment. :) ) is potentially underestimating the pleasurable side of skincare. Yes it's a necessity and there should be affordable options - lots of them - but I still think people will continue to pay for their favourites in the same way that we do for fashion and pretty much everything else we consume.
Having Shoe Direct provides an affordable option for a necessity, it doesn't stop Louboutin, Adidas and Clarks from their huge trade.


The Ordinary is available from and

Sunday, 18 September 2016


The winners of the Murad Giveaway are:
  1. Helene Frost
  2. Gemma Delaney
  3. Lorraine O'Grady
  4. Nikki Pickering
  5. Orla (orlskeenan)
  6. Amy Hughes
  7. Suzy Burrage
  8. Liz Ottaway
  9. Niall Kavanagh
  10. Iris Waldburger
CONGRATULATIONS ALL! You'll get an email from me in the next day. :)

Thank you Murad. 

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