Sunday, 17 July 2011

After my recent trip to France, I promised a post on the spoils of my pharmacy visits, and thought it would be nice to include the rest of my skincare products - of which, I must admit, there are rather a few... 
My somewhat chaotic bathroom cabinet shelf featuring French Pharmacy must-haves, Kiehl's, Aesop, Dermalogica, Clinique, Yu-Be, Bliss and Eve Lom
I spent nearly a whole day in France mapping out the pharmacies one town had to offer and then dragging my boyfriend from one to the next, to the next, to the next until I had what I had set out to make mine. I, like many others I know, had been utterly done by Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop post on the french pharmacy. The brilliance of certain french beauty products have been well known by beauty enthusiasts, and luckily for us common folk, they are all readily available in nearly every town and village pharmacy around France. I suppose the French have a better approach to skincare, and understand the importance of being able to stockpile a product that works. 

On my visit I secured the following: Bioderma Crealine TS H20 Micelle Soultion, Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentrate and Avibon Vitamin A cream (we struggled to locate this one at first ((yes that's right, by this point my boyfriend was on board and fully committed to the challenge)) and had to ask the pharmacist in broken french for this magical cream). 

Yu-Be cream, Embryolisse, Avibon
The Bioderma make-up remover was just as good as all the reviews promised, instantly dissolving the hardiest of eye make up in a few sweeps, and removing my remaining facial make up too. I must say I don't go particularly heavy on the make up, so can't attest to how well this would work on more heavy duty make up - but it is perfect for me. It doesn't sting in the least and is very effective whilst not irritating sensitive skin. 
I use Embryolisse in the morning after my toner and underneath my tinted moisturiser. It is not heavy despite being quite thick, and the idea is it is hydrating the skin, cleaning it, and providing the perfect base for make-up. I hear the professionals swear by it, and that's good enough for me! It can even double up as a make-up remover too. It's slotted into my routine really well, replacing my normal moisturiser with great results. I now need to ensure I have a high SPF in my tinted moisturiser, but this is easily achieved. 
Avibon is definitely one for the evening - it has a very thick, vaseline like texture, so unless you like the shiny look - steer clear for the day! It is packed full of vitamin A and has quite the anti-ageing reputation.  I think it will come to the fore during the winter for me - it feels intensely hydrating when a blob is mixed with a normal moisturiser and slathered on before bed. 

I'm really pleased with my french additions to my bathroom cabinet - I'm always keen to try products that have earned their cult following over the years and are still going strong. These are not flash in the pan products and have well and truly earned their effectiveness stripes. I won't lie, I also love how their names are whispered amongst women and that you have to travel to make them yours - no flashy ad campaigns needed. 

Whilst we're taking skin-care, I have to mention my new discovery: Aesop. Yes I am hideously late to the party and know beauty enthusiasts have been enthusing about this brand for yonks, but I have only recently been won over by the Australian botanical-based beauty products. For years and years I have been a Clinique 3-step girl, and I still stand by the effectiveness of the regime. But on a recent trip to Aesop I was given a bundle of samples based on my skin type and needs, and in less than two days I was hooked. My skin somehow appears more refined, and has a glow to it in the mornings that it didn't have before. (I know this sounds somewhat corny, but I promise it's true!)

Aesop products and Dermalogica Overnight Clearing Gel (a godsend for unsightly blemishes!)
I raided my piggy bank to add 3 products to my shelf, but in the fullness of time hope to add their Fabulous Face Oil to my regime. For the time being I am reaping the benefits of the Fabulous Face Cleanser, Purifying Facial Exfoliating Paste and Parsley Seed Anti Oxidant Serum. I cannot recommend my experience with Aesop products highly enough and would urge you to get hold of a few samples to try out for yourself.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


I'm not great with the sales. Yes they fill me with that nice sense of anticipation, they quicken the beat of my heart when I fear I've missed out or might only just have got there in time. But when it comes down to the nitty gritty of a purchase, I can't block out those rather useful sale-wisdom quotes that everyone wheels out at this time of year. 

"Would I have bought this at full price?"
"Would I rather spend this money on this, or on something I've spotted for the new season?"
"Is this even actually my size?!"

Questions like these whizz relentlessly around my head and I always end up erring on the side of caution and returning the bag/shoes/dress/top to the rail. 
I already have my eye on a few bits for Autumn/Winter (from IRO, Maje, Etoile Isabel Marant and some ankle boots from Sam Edelman), so the necessity of saving the pennies for these has ensured, thus far, that I'm uninterested in discounted wares. 

That was until I booked a last minute summer holiday to Greece for September. We have been going to the same small village in Corfu nearly every summer since the year dot - and it's my most favourite summer holiday destination ever. It simply involves stacks of new books, swimming in the sea, sitting in the sun and then eating the tastiest Greek food in the local taverna, all washed down with cheap and cheerful Retsina, only to do it all again the next day.

With flights booked, suddenly summer was back on the agenda and the crisp leaves of autumn seemed rather a long way away. 
Step up the Stella McCartney sale. If ever I was to give away my precious pounds to sale buys, it would have to be for something classic. Bar the citrus fruit print bits (I know bright fruit prints are de rigueur at the moment, but I'm not sure how much more mileage those banana earrings have in them...), you can't go wrong with the longevity of a classic, quiet, Stella McCartney item in your wardrobe. 

These summer sandals are just the thing, and after a windfall on eBay, I bit the bullet and ordered them. They are simple, classic, relaxed yet have a really polished look to them. I love a classic red nail varnish peeping out from under the raffia too.