Kurkdjian’s Christmas candle magic

MFK-Ligne Noël Bougies PArfumées-LDWhen it comes to Christmas few gifts are as nice as scented candles and few scented candles are as nice as this trio of bougies from perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. Presented as a boxed set containing three mini candles (with a burn time of 20 hours each), they look fantastic and smell of gingerbread and iris so have a festive twist but not one so Christmassy they can’t be used beyond December.

Available from Selfridges, Liberty, Harvey Nichols, John Lewis and Les Senteurs.

Lab Series’ ‘Try It’ Kit is perfect for Christmas

LAB try it kitOne of the things I love most about Lab Series is their no-bull approach to skincare. Never over-complicated for the sake of it, their products always do what they say on the tin and rarely over-promise but often over-deliver. So it’s rather appropriate that their kit for Christmas has a very upfront ‘go on, try us’ message.

The Try It Kit (£16.50 from Boots and labseries.co.uk) features three hero products from the range – the Multi Action Face Wash (one of my all-time favourite grooming products), a 3-in-1 Post Shave and a Daily Moisture Defense Lotion. It’s a perfect introduction to the brand, is a good price and makes a fab Christmas gift. Great for travel too.

G’day! It’s Australia Day! So here’s some grooming gear from Down Under

products_5_shaving-essentials-kit_0Since it’s Australia Day today I  thought I’d do a little post today about a couple of my favourite Aussie grooming brands. Eyre BioBotantics is a premium brand I’ve loved for years (I interviewed its founder Stephen Damiani shortly after it was founded in the mid noughties) and it has been something of a pioneer in terms of organic grooming. Having achieved Australian Certified Organic certification the ingredients certainly come to you as nature intended.

I especially like their twin-chamber delivery system products which contain two separate products in one one tube. If you want a good introduction to this fantastic brand try their Shaving Essentials Kit above, available from nivenandjoshua.com.

VITAMAN-DISCOVERY-PACK-2Also worth checking out is Vitaman, which launched back in 1999 and prides itself on using ingredients like eucalyptus which are native to Australia, and in not using synthetic ingredients or artificial fragrances, which are native to nowhere!

The Body Discovery Pack (above), available from vitamangrooming.co.uk, serves as a good taster and inlcudes one of my favourite Vitaman products – their exfoliating bar, which is minimally scented but great for keeping your bod free of dead skin cells. I especially love the full-sized version which is fantastically chunky.

Anyway, both ranges are well worth investigating and are proof that Kylie, koalas and Kath & Kim aren’t the only great things Australia has given the world.

The Grooming Guru’s Christmas Gift Guide For Her

Stuck for a present idea for the woman in your life? How about these glorious gifts?

03102012042806There are scented candles and then there are Fornasetti scented candles, which don’t just smell great but turn the humble room fragrance into a mini work of art. This one, the Flora di Fornasetti candle, fills the room with gloriously intoxicating notes of lily of the valley, jasmine and tuberose and comes in the most exquisite ceramic vessel and gift box. £99 from Selfridges.com
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Face facts, how a bottle of fragrance looks is just as important as how it smells when it comes to gift giving. And who could not be won over by this orb-topped fragrance from Vivienne Westwood? Deliciously feminine, with notes of bergamot, red english rose and heliotrope, Boudoir is a no-brainer when it comes to gifting so go buy! £34 for 30ml eau de parfum from escentual.com

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I always think that Molton Brown products look like colourful little jewels. And if that’s the case then this Orion Gift Set, featuring six colourful bath and shower gels is a veritible treasure trove for beauty magpies. Looks fab and best of all, is easy to wrap! £36 from nivenandjoshua.com

ren-gift-set-05I love REN as a brand and suspect she’ll love you if you gave her this Neroil Duo Gift Set featuring a Neroli and Grapefruit Body Wash and Body Cream. They smell  fantastic and the great thing is that, once they’re on the side of the bath, you can can proceed to steal them for yourself. £28 from renskincare.com

Tidy_All_PurpleLizThough the contents of a woman’s handbag largely remain a mystery to me I’ve seen enough friends rummaging around in them to know that they’re clearly a bit like the Tardis inside (i.e big and very messy). This dinky little Aspinal Handbag Tidy solves part of that problem by safely housing a few essentials like lipstick, lipgloss and contact lenses. £65 from aspinaloflondon.com

black orchidYou probably know by now how much I love Tom Ford fragrances. Well, Black Orchid is one of his best selling signature fragrances for women and this gift set, featuring a 50ml bottle of the rich, sensual fragrance along with a 75ml body lotion, is guaranteed to make a big impression on Christmas morning. £75 from selfridges.com

whole lotta colourI must confess I don’t know much about make up (the last time I wore any myself was back in the Eighties when it was de rigueur for men to slap up) but what I do know from reading the posts and tweets of my fellow beauty press and beauty bloggers is that Clinique’s Chubby Sticks* have been a bit of a sensation this year. So much so that this Whole Lotta Colour gift set has sold out on their own website and it’s pot luck whether you’ll be able to find a store near you that has a set. But since it’s clearly one of this year’s must have gifts you’ll get extra points if you do find one. So what are you doing reading this? You’d better get shopping! £30 from a store near you (hopefully).

*they’re lip colour balms in case you were wondering

Looking for the perfect stocking filler? How about some Cinnamon Soap?

I’ve got to say that when it comes to soap I’m like a little old lady. I love them. I love all soaps –  big, small, cheap, expensive, from Wright’s Coal Tar to Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino. I do. And I love The Scottish Fine Soap Company‘s tinned soaps too. Nanna that I am I’m even partial to the Bluebell one. They also do a range of special limited edition festive ones, including this delicious-smelling Cinnamon Soap which I am reserving for Christmas day. At £4.95 they’re a great stocking filler/Santa’s Sack present too.

For more info go to www.scottishfinesoaps.com

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…especially at Christmas

Fan of Comme des Garçons? Then make sure you grab yourself one (or all) of these special limited edition fragrances. Launching in time for Christmas but delightfully un-Chistmassy they feature the work of German-born artist Sandra Korn and feature bottle designs inspired by the sea. Left to right: Amazingreen, Wonderwood & CDG2. Sure beats Christmas trees and holly.

Launching in the third week of November, each fragrance costs £75 for a 50ml eau de parfum and is available from Dover Street Market.

 

Festive Favourites No3: Neal’s Yard Frankincense Essential Oil

I love essential oils (I use them in oil burners, blend my own massage oils and often wear patchouli oil neat) and one of my favourites is this excellent Frankincense oil from Neal’s Yard.

It’s particularly relevant to this time of year, of course, and has a wonderful heritage, having been traded by man for thousands of years. The Egyptians even used the charred resin to make their kohl eye make-up. It’s difficult to describe what it smells like because it smells like, er, frankincense, but it has a sweet, warm, aromatic and resinous aromas that I absolutely love.

It makes a great massage oil when added to a carrier oil and also has skin rejuvenating properties, which explains why it’s at the heart of the Neal’s Yard anti-ageing products. For me, it’s also one of those smells that brings Christmas alive so give it a try.

To grab yourself a bottle click here.

Festive Favourites No2: Kings & Queens Caspar Myrrh Shower Gel

You can see why in ancient times Myrrh was as valuable as gold. It has a warm, rich, resinous smell which I love all year round (I make my own incense and often include some of it in my blends).

Like many ancient ingredients myrrh has a wonderfully rich heritage. It was used by the egyptians as part of the mummification process, has been used as a ritual incense since Biblical times and has numerous medicinal uses.

This great showergel, by Kings & Queens, utilizes myrrh to give it a rich, warming aroma but it also also contains pomegranate, malachite and blue lotus and has a slightly spicy, fruity smell too. It’s absolutely perfect for this time of year and at a fiver is that rarest of things – a bargain that’s still fit for a king.

Available from nivenandjoshua.com priced £5 for 300ml

Festive Favourites No1: Diptyque’s Epinette candle

With Christmas fast approaching I thought I’d mention a few of my favourite festive goodies –  products with a Christmassy twist and a festive feel – and kicking off my selection this year is Diptyque’s Epinette scented candle, part of the company’s Winter 2011 Collection.

Taking its inspiration from fresh pine needles and fragrant fir tree resin this candle could easily have ended up smelling like toilet cleaner. Luckily, it doesn’t, thanks in part to the addition of cedar and patchouli (the latter being my all-time favourite smell as keen observers of my posts might have noticed).

Surprisingly, it has a fairly intense, sweet aroma rather than a fresh pine one and a thirty minute burn is all that’s needed to fill your house with the evocative smell of festive firs. Grab one while you can though – it’s a limited edition.

The 190g version of Epinette is available from John Lewis, Space NK and Diptyque boutiques priced £45.

Grooming Guru Essentials: Diptyque’s L’Eau Trois

Each year, when it gets to December I like to bring out my ‘winter’ fragrances – the ones that provide something of an olfactory comfort blanket on these cold, long nights. And what do I reach for? Well, this wonderfully aromatic Diptyque fragrance for starters.

Bursting with the scent of myrtle, oregano, laurel, thyme and rosemary, along with pine and myrrh it has a distrinctly Old World (and I mean Biblical Old World) feel to it. It’s meant to smell like a balmy mediterranean breeze I believe but to me it smells of churches. Of musty, old churches. Of religion, creaky old pews and of genuflection. And if I’m honest I find it strangely sexy. There, I’ve said it.

It won’t be to everyone’s taste, for sure, but for me, this wonderfully evocative fragrance (which is harder to find than a dead sea scroll thesedays) is a near religious experience. Yes, yes, that religious metaphor has been stretched to breaking point I know, so I’ll finish by simply saying track some down and enjoy!

Grooming Guru Essentials are the products I genuinely love and have used as part of my own routine.