Tag: beauty


I need to talk about beauty products again. As you may remember from my recent post concerning luxury soap, I’ve been working on commercial projects that involved gourmet soap and premium shower gel, body lotion, body butter and related categories such as shampoo. This has caused a lot of these products to cross my path. As a result of this, I have a new favourite brand. I am genuinely so excited about this brand, as you can tell by the fact that I hardly ever promote brands and products on The Life You Want. The fact that it’s making TLYW news lets you know it is something special.

ShimmerLuxe is a new British business based in Darlington, in the north of England. The woman behind the business is Victoria McKone and she makes products by hand and retails them via Etsy.

shimmerluxe 1

I tried Victoria’s Whipped Soap in two flavours: Clementine Jelly and Chocolate Truffle. It thoroughly delighted me and then I discovered the Body Butter in flavours Cafe Caramel and Sugared Almond.

When I opened these jars of product, three things made me fall in love immediately. Firstly, the smell is divine. This stuff smells like real, fresh food. The clementine and chocolate smell fresh and delicious, good enough to eat right out of the jar. The caramel is rich and satisfying. The sugared almond is a heavy scent while still in the jar but lasts on the skin with a subtle, light, powdery, sugary fragrance.

The second thing that appealed to me was the look of the product. Both soap and butter look like ready-to-eat desserts. This is neither a heavy, solid block of soap nor a bottle of runny lotion. The products look like whipped cream or butter, ready to eat.

shimmerluxe 4

The third thing was the texture, wow. These are very dense, rich products. You push your finger into the virgin swirls of creamy soap and scoop out a little to use. They are both firm, the body butter a little firmer than the soap. An incredibly satisfying consistency; heavy, slightly resistant, the butter is almost slightly crumbly under pressure and when kept cool. I love to keep body butters in the fridge, especially in hot summer weather. Cooling them to a firm consistency also makes them last longer, because I don’t scoop so much out of the jar. ShimmerLuxe butter seems to respond better to being cooled in the fridge than any other brand that I’ve tried. In a moment of unusual lucidity, I installed a fridge in the bedroom. A small one, a bar fridge. For San Pellegrino and body butter. That’s all it stocks. I am so impressed with myself sometimes.

bedroom fridge

I road-tested the ShimmerLuxe products. I’ve been using them anyway but I’ve just taken a shower with Chocolate Truffle soap and Cafe Caramel body butter for the purposes of this review.

Whipped Soap. The chocolate smell is gorgeous. The key thing with this product is the silky smooth way it is going to slide on to your skin, so don’t use one of those nylon shower puffs. Use your hands or smear a dollop on to a sponge and don’t let it absorb into the sponge too much before applying. Feels like silk. Silk and chocolate in the shower, what could be more indulgent.

Body Butter. My skin cannot get enough of this stuff. It comes out of the jar so heavy and rich, more solid than liquid, but my skin drinks it up. After use, my skin is moist, soft and smells like caramel.

Victoria, please make face masks and hair masks!

I was so excited about ShimmerLuxe that I contacted Victoria to ask her some questions about the products and brand.

Victoria, what inspired you to start your own brand of body care products?

I’ve always loved being in the water – bath times especially. Having dry skin and bouts of eczema however, meant that bath times were full of depressing prescription products. A few years ago I narrowed my problem dry skin down to SLS, a particularly harsh foaming agent, so it goes without saying it’s not in any of my products! As I got older I decided I was going to go into the beauty industry and run my own little business; with a passion for natural nails in particular. I’ve always enjoyed making a mess really – whether its baking, going a bit mad with the glitter on a client’s nails, or tinkering about making lotions and potions.
I already have one job that I love that’s pretty flexible, so being able to create and sell something else that I’m passionate about is fabulous.

Which are your best selling items and what do customers like about them?

So far customer favourites seem to be the Whipped Body Butters. A little goes a long way, they are super nourishing for the skin & they smell delicious! The body butters are closely followed by Bath products. My personal favourite products are the Buttercream Bath Truffles, which are a mildly fizzy nourishing bath bomb. They are intended to be chopped in half so you get 2 uses from them but sometimes I’m a bit greedy and pop a whole one in the bath when I’m in a bit of a rush, I don’t feel I need to moisturise afterwards that way.

What do you wish people knew about ShimmerLuxe products? What would you like to tell them?

All our products are handmade by me to strict EU regulations and assessed by a cosmetic chemist, Products are tested, tweaked and tested again by myself and some very willing victims. And (Most importantly to me) all our products are SLS free!

Do you have any new products in the pipeline that we should look forward to?

Definitely more bath products, they are my favourite to use and my favourite to make, it’s really messy and you get the chance to be a bit more creative with shapes and colours. I’m also going to be bringing out a couple of body oils – I have a beautiful tuberose fragrance that would be just perfect in something like that.

You’re a woman who is running her own business and actively making the life she wants – what would you say to other women who are wondering if they can start small businesses or make other positive changes in their lives?

On building a business I think it’s so important to have done the right research, in the products themselves, the legal requirements, etc. You don’t have to start big but I feel it’s so important for everything to be cohesive. I think you can build a better brand if everything matches to an extent; it’s all in the details!. Life is hectic and can carry you away sometimes, so I think its vital to take time to slow down and reconnect with yourself. Having a bath is a chance to peel off your old skin and start afresh. Very important for body and mind.

ShimmerLuxe is at Etsy.com. Bar fridge not included.


Starry Skies, Chapter 7: Paint

Not the kind that artists use to make paintings. The kind you put on your face.

OK, first things first. Harry has finished his exams and we had our long-awaited second date. We went to the opera together, in fact we went to see the Charles Court Opera company perform The Magic Flute because I wanted to see it again and I thought he should see it as well. I was so happy that his exams are over and we can finally date like normal people.

I am a little bit self-conscious about my appearance right now because I am getting older and mostly because I weigh a massive 164 pounds due to eating too much ice cream. I am old and I am fat. Just in time for tonight’s date, I watched a YouTube beauty vlogger and realised that I have been doing my make-up all wrong, it is out of date and I use the wrong tools. There were things I hadn’t grasped about to how apply concealer correctly, also modern trends require less eyeliner but more eyebrow. I followed this girl’s tutorial as I was getting ready to go out and the result was very pretty and took 10 years off me, which I needed, due to being so fat. So if you are not 100% sure that you are doing your make-up right, or if you are just old like me, then you should watch this because she shows you the wrong way to do things and then the right way, which is so helpful. Includes contouring and highlighting.


So I went out with Harry, we both loved the opera. It was the first one he’d been to, he said it was amazing and I agreed. Then we had dinner (tuna steak, wine). Then we went to the tube station and there was kissing, he kissed me this time, slightly assertively.

Things I remember from tonight’s date:

  • The part where he said “You’re beautiful”, and placed his hand on my bare arm to reassure me and emphasise his point. I was grateful, you don’t take beauty or compliments for granted at my age. Also, I felt that Christen’s YouTube tutorial had paid off. Win.
  • The part where he took my hand so we could navigate the crowds in Islington (he did the same thing on our first date, as I recall). The surprise of having him take my hand and pull me through the crowd. The feel of his hand in mine, his slim bones.
  • The part where we were walking together and I put my arm around his narrow waist, the shape of him, slender and firm.
  • The part where we were sitting together at dinner, he was explaining complicated maths to me and his hands were trembling with barely-suppressed excitement or anxiety, not sure which.
  • The part where he didn’t try to have sex with me. The part where we agreed to meet for a third date next week, with no suggestion on either side that it needs to involve sex. Not yet. I think we are getting to know each other.

I have a little thing for him, you can tell. I wasn’t going to follow up with Chockney because I feel safer with Harry and I’m a little afraid of Chockney’s talk about relationships and commitment and not ‘being on your own’, whatever that is supposed to mean, probably something bad. But then I texted him anyway, mainly to make sure that he wasn’t planning to show up at the Magic Flute tonight, and that’s why we now have a date planned for this Saturday.

So that’s the state of my love life. Stay tuned for more dating news, which I bring to you as it happens.


I don’t usually blog about beauty products, but it is a category that I am involved with at work this week, which makes a nice change from last week, which was banking. I am at my desk, studying brands of shower gel, bath cream, bar soap and liquid hand wash. As anyone in an advanced state of consumerism knows, the most desirable of these is bar soap, which should ideally be hand-crafted and have visible inclusions, such as pieces of flowers.

Here are my favourites of the British brands.



These citrus soaps are shaped like fruit. The gentle, modernist designs on the outer packaging are soothing and tasteful (looks like they’ve redesigned the packaging, it used to have bright and rather overbearing photography). As for the inner packaging, each soap is lovingly wrapped in its own paper. Each soap is 100g and they retail at £3.35 individually or £9.38 for a box of three.

bron lem box 2

Gentle Cosmetics


These spectacular soaps are a feast for the eyes. I couldn’t stop staring. I can’t find the weight of these soaps (why not?) but they individually retail at £4.20 (flowers) and £4.95 (apricots) so I’m guessing at least 100g. These are almost too lovely to use.

Fortnum & Mason


The world’s most luxurious department store, est. 1707. Fortnum & Mason does everything very elegantly; soap is no exception. Pictured: a medium-size box of bath soaps. Specially made for Fortnum’s, the soaps contain oils, herbs and spices and are decorated with dried miniature roses. Weight and packaging dimensions are not given but this box retails at £30 for ten bars. I find the packaging, with the roses and the tissue paper, almost irresistible.

fort bath box

A special mention also for this UK-based Etsy supplier. I hardly ever buy things from Etsy but these beautiful soaps slipped into my basket. The photography is stunning. This seems to be a new Etsy retailer so I’m happy to help a small business along. Cannot wait for these to arrive. Shown here: Orange & Cinnamon; Lemon Poppyseed; Strong-brewed Coffee; Turkish Mint Tea. The soaps are 113g and are priced at £4 each. Please make more flavours!

Ottoman Bliss


In which I take on slightly too much, because it’s all I know how to do.

Crikey. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, it is that I do better when I am busy. After thinking that I was going to have a nice, relaxing time, further to leaving the World’s Worst Company, my life is bursting at the seams with activity. I hardly know what to tackle next. Let’s have a quick roundup of non-work things.

  • Gym. I am in the gym regularly and although I’m not yet weighing myself, I can feel that I’m starting to lose some of the fat that I stacked on over Xmas. My pot belly will be the last thing to go and I am not ruling out liposuction if I can make time for it. Gym uses up a lot of time and, as we all know, you have to keep going several times a week if not every day, but it is well worth it.
  • Dentist. I am at the dentist aaaallllll the time. Fillings, cleaning, this and that. Periodontist on the 22nd.
  • Other beauty stuff. Hairdresser because my hair goes grey so fast. Laser hair clinic. I need to see my Botox man again, haven’t seen him since October.
  • Dating. I am very popular with boys at the moment, which is very welcome after being unmercifully dumped by someone I’d sustained a 14- or 15-month relationship with. I went on a date yesterday with an absolutely beautiful model who kissed me at the tube station. When I say model, I don’t mean some 50-year-old, silver-haired character actor, I mean an actual model.
  • Art and Culcha. So much of this. I saw the South Africa exhibition that is currently on at the British Museum and will blog about it separately. I am going out again over the coming weekend to hear more music.


  • Choir. Is this evening. Need to wash my hair and iron a dress because it’s a big social event of the week.
  • Friends. I have miraculously seen 4 of my long-suffering friends who have to wait two years in between meetings.
  • Housework. I can tell I am super busy because the house is getting out of control again even though I only cleaned it up last week. I still have not unpacked the boxes that I brought away with me from the World’s Worst Job and I seriously want to clean and renovate the back room, which is now my clothes room.
  • Gaming. I have done no video gaming for a solid week, even though I am desperate to get back into it. I am absolutely desperate to play Battlefield 1 and Resident Evil 7.


So there you go. The things on that list, as well as work, are merely the things I’m actually managing to do plus the most immediate priorities. We won’t even mention the second tier of priorities, such as playing other video games, reading, pursuing half a dozen other hobbies and trying to get back into learning Chinese.

I am getting enough sleep, so there’s that.

Face cream.

Work is still kicking my ass. I have suspended my online dating account again because I am too busy to meet people. I told Leroy I am no longer dating anyone else and he was pleased about that, in a rather serious way, that was designed to let me know he is taking it seriously, so at least someone’s happy.

The Honcho has been quiet this week.

Travel is coming up over the next several days so fingers crossed for sunshine and nice photo opportunities, despite it being winter.

My Shiseido face cream that I had for my birthday ran out. I decided to go back to Clinique for a while, the default brand choice of so many women. I already have a bottle of the famous yellow everyday moisturiser, I think most women over about 24 have a bottle of this somewhere in their bathroom. It is light, easily absorbed and really is good for every day, but as I get older my skin is losing its fine texture and I wanted something to give my face a smoother, more polished appearance without resorting to laser skin resurfacing, which is what I would actually like, along with a neck lift and a lower face lift and a boob job. So my new thing now is two pumps of Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum mixed with two drops of Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus. Put on your face using upward circular motions (as though you would do anything else), then use the surplus on your neck. It applies a silky coating to your skin which smooths everything out and hides pores, which is good. I think the latter item is the one delivering instant results and the former is the one where you are supposed to use it every day for a while before being impressed. So I will let you know how I get on.

So that’s me. Travel plans are coming together. Botox has been booked. Teeth have been recently bleached. The drycleaning is at the drycleaner’s. I have a couple of new items of lingerie on the way, in a size that I believe I can actually fit into. Face cream are go. I may be fat, but I am beautiful and everything is going to be okay.


Hairdressing: Wish me luck.

I called in at the hair salon and they can fit me in this evening.

Wish me luck. Last time I was at the salon, in June, my formerly loved hairdresser gave me a haircut that aged me by 10 years and sent me fucking running to the Botox clinic to try and claim those years back. A haircut that makes me feel depressed just thinking about it, never mind having to look in the mirror. A haircut that belongs on a woman who is actively trying to be unattractive. A haircut that looks awful no matter what I do with it. A haircut that is significantly less fashionable than the one I saw my 70-year-old aunt wearing the other week. A really, really inappropriate and wrong and bad haircut that I never asked for.

My hairdresser and I will be having a Very Serious Conversation about the haircut I actually want. It is still 4-6 inches too short to even achieve a very short bob, but at least we can start working on getting it into shape.

I swear to God, if he fucks this up a second time, I will never go there again. I will go straight to a competitor salon and have them attach an entire head full of extensions at whatever cost, until my hair grows back. I can’t live with this awful haircut any more. It has got to go. He is getting one more chance to demonstrate that he understands what I want, and then that is it. Finito.

I am scared of letting him come near me with the scissors now and I am ready to be upset. The last couple of months have wrecked my self-confidence. Wish me luck, please. It should be game over by about 7pm. I will immediately report in here with news.


Unexpected Bursts of Romance

It is Week 7, day 7 of the happy pills. I am slowly and incrementally happier, day by day. I will know I have achieved my Recommended Daily Allowance of happiness when I start dancing again. We are not there yet, but I sense that we are not far off.

I am absolutely overjoyed with the results of my encounter with Botox. It was 7 days ago. At the time, the doctor informed me that it would take a week to achieve its full effects. I didn’t really understand why, so I was sceptical, but I look in the mirror every day, here we are on Day 7 and it is amazing. It is beyond anything I could have hoped for. What I hoped for was an eyebrow lift that would restore the arches to their former glory, and this happened quickly, within a couple of days, but what we have here on Day 7 is an upper eyelid lift as well. Because I’m quite old, I had got to the point where my upper eyelid was collapsing on top of my lower lid, and I thought this was something that couldn’t be rectified without surgery, but as of yesterday my eyelids are right back where they used to be 10 years ago, and I don’t look a day over 35. It is like a miracle. It even makes my haircut look better. Speaking of which, it’s time to see my hairdresser because roots.

Perhaps coincidentally and perhaps not, in light of my renewed confidence, I am suddenly having a very rewarding dating season. I am getting a lot of interest on the trusty dating site, which is always flattering, and there are two guys in particular who I’m happy to have in my life. One is William, who I’ve blogged about a few times recently. He was quiet for a couple of days and I wondered if he’d changed his mind but then he texted me and now it looks like we will have our third date this week. I am excited about this because I have quite a crush on him, also in the fickle world of online dating, if someone makes it to three dates, that’s very unusual and is a long relationship.

Additionally, he has a rival. There’s another guy, a Northern lad, let’s call him Charlie. He’s 28. I like a bit of Northern urban grit. We understand each other’s roots and culture. We’ve had two dates and I am getting to like him more than I expected. I could see how we could settle down into a comfortable thing together with absolutely no difficulty at all that involves joking around and saying Northern things and watching horror movies and having sex. In fact, that is pretty much the plan.

So that’s me. I am happy and I am well provided-for. Thank you Jah.

Iggy Azalea: Fancy (2014)