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Beauty, London

HPM Scent School with Annick Goutal

Fragrance is one of my favourite indulgences, so what better way to spend an evening that discussing scents with some of the industry’s most esteemed leaders?

Last week, I attended Handpicked Media’s debut Scent School in partnership with The Perfume Society and PR gurus Kenneth Green Associates, held at the shiny Condé Nast College in Soho.  For this very special event, we were treated to an audience with Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen – the brains and noses behind quintessentially Parisian perfume maison, Annick Goutal.

Handpicked Media’s Krista Madden kicked off the evening, as we finished refueling on Zeo and Propercorn (the new smooth almond and peanut butter flavour is so addictive), and introduced Jo Fairley, co-founder of The Perfume Society.

Jo has had a dream career – magazine editor, co-founder of ethical chocolate company Green & Black’s and Judges Bakery, as well as brand consultant and inspirational public speaker.  In person, she is warm, down-to-earth and speaks about perfume in a refreshingly accessible way.

The Perfume Society is an online fragrance appreciation community that hosts workshops and events for members and offers Discovery Boxes and the Jasmine Award-winning e-magazine, The Scented Letter.  Jo led us in a special ‘How to Improve you Sense of Smell’ workshop that is available complimentary to members up and down the country.

Fragrance blotters were handed out and we were encouraged to write down our thoughts and feelings about the scents, rather than trying to detect the notes.  What was most interesting about this fun group activity was the diverse spectrum of emotions and memories incited through the fragrances – it’s true that we all experience aromas differently.  I was particularly drawn to the luxurious Cartier La Panthère, which transported me to nighttime in Paris, partying with Yves Saint Laurent and Pat Cleveland on the Left Bank.

Having trained our noses with the workshop, we were prepped to listen to Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen in conversation with Nicola de Burlet, head of press at Kenneth Green Associates.

Camille shared anecdotes about her late mother Annick Goutal, who was a pianist, top model and antique shop owner before falling in love with fragrance on a trip to Grasse and founding the perfume house on rue de Bellechasse in 1980, at the age of 30.

Annick’s philosophy was to create emotions through fragrance like a puzzle and her perfumes have become timeless classics.  The curvy, elegant bottles adorned with touches of gold are staples of every well-heeled Parsisienne’s boudoir.  Annick’s disinterest in fleeting trends and big marketing campaigns has kept the brand forever relevant and something of a luxury insider’s secret (outside of Paris, as least).

We explored a few signature Annick Goutal scents, beginning with the much-loved Petite Chérie, created as a gift to Camille.  It’s a gourmand fragrance bursting with luscious, juicy pear and reminds me of childhood innocence and happy times.

Next up was Eau du Sud, a chypre inspired by Annick’s birthplace Aix-en-Provence, where she grew up among the intoxicating aromas of her father’s chocolate shop.  We then travelled to Italy with Ninfeo Mio, a sun-kissed yet earthy blend of fresh figs and quince, inspired by Camille and Isabelle’s trip to the Ninfeo Gardens.

We finished with an invigorating Middle East-inspired fragrance – 1001 Ouds from Les Absolus d’Annick Goutal.  Camille has strong opinions when it comes to ouds, explaining only a few of these woody, aromatic fragrances on the luxury market bear resemblance to the natural oud that she is familiar with as a perfumer.

1001 Ouds is a unique, authentic take on the classic oud scent – it’s deeply spicy and has prominent equestrian leather notes that reference Camille’s love of horseriding.  Most interestingly, it resists the temptation of being too sweet, but develops a soft warmness that makes you dream of the mystical Arabian Nights tales and wandering through spice markets.

The inspiring evening ended with a few helpful words from Nicola on the relationship between beauty bloggers and PRs – how to form lasting connections, impress their brands with your writing and manage expectations on both sides.

A thought echoed by all of the experts was that it’s easy to overthink writing about fragrance.  Any old website can list the fragrance notes and state whether it’s in the illusive chypre or fougère family, but articulating your unique emotional connection to the scent is golden.  As Camille explained, ‘no one buys a fragrance based on the notes, it’s all about how it makes them feel’.

In our goody bag, we were generously given a year’s subscription to The Perfume Society, as well as their latest Discovery Box packed full of new and classic fragrances, instructive postcards, blotters and a stylish notebook for recording our fragrant thoughts.

Also included was a stunning Annick Goutal gold purse fragrance – mine is the divine L’Ile au Thé.  It’s a clean, fresh, calming scent that immediately made me think of springtime and my travels in China and Hong Kong.  In fact, the citrus fragrance was created following Camille and Isabelle’s trip to the Korean paradise island of Jeju.

The fragrance paints an idyllic fragrant landscape of mandarin tree orchards, tea plantations and beautiful osmanthus in bloom – a real treat for lovers of Asian tea ceremonies and delicate, almost celestial scents.  I can’t wait to take this fragrant to Paris next week and will definitely be paying at visit to the Annick Goutal boutique.

For more information, visit: and

Photos by Annick Goutal, The Perfume Society & Chérie City


ila spa Gold Cellular Age-Restore Collection

ila spa is a British spa and beauty brand that has a special place in my heart, so when I was invited to visit the ila barn in the Cotswolds, I jumped at the chance.

I spent the afternoon with ila’s magnetic founder Denise Leicester who I’ve met a few times at ila spa events in London.  Not only did I get a rare glimpse of these luxurious, natural creams and oils in production, but I was treated to an exclusive preview of ila spa’s new game-changing Gold Cellular Age-Restore collection.

After a short drive from Charlbury through the rolling Oxfordshire countryside, I was warmly welcomed by Denise at the peaceful ila barn, framed by seemingly endless green fields.  Over a healthy snack of dates filled with cashew nut butter and warming cardamon and saffron tea, we chatted about the hotly anticipated collection and Denise’s extensive travels.

ila spa Gold Cellular Age-Restore is the result of three years of experimenting and fine tuning.  The innovative anti-ageing ritual harnesses the power of ethically harvested frankincense from the Garden of Ethiopia and three types of naturally occurring gold.  Its unique BosTriWell formula combines three different kinds of frankincense to reduce inflammation while 24-Carat Gold, Homeopathic and Colloidal Gold boost the production of collagen.

A plant-derived hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin completes this powerful trinity of active ingredients working to promote radiance and reduce the signs of ageing.  Denise explained that the range was formulated in partnership with a world-renowned German pharmacy to achieve the best possible results while staying true to ila’s natural, ‘beyond organic’ philosophy.

First on the agenda was a tour of the ila spa workshop where all of the organic face and body products are hand-blended, bottled and packaged up.  It’s such a unique, pleasant environment with exquisite aromas filling the air that I found myself daydreaming about packing up for the Cotswolds to be an ila apprentice.

The work stations are adorned with a golden sri yantra to channel good energy into the products and every product is blessed with a positive affirmation by its creator – truly made with love.  I tried my hand at blending ila’s best-selling Body Oil for Inner Peace, mixing heady top note oils jasmine, sandalwood and ylang ylang with a base of argan oil and rosehip seed oil.

I then took a reflective walk around the special wedding labyrinth at the back of the barn with a lighted candle in hand while being watched intently by the flock of sheep in the adjacent field.  I’m guessing they’re pretty chilled out sheep with all the Ayurvedic aromas flowing into their field.

Already feeling serene and revived by the fresh country air, I was set for further relaxation with a signature ila spa Gold Cellular Age-Restore Facial.  Expert therapist Jo performed the most fantastic healing and rejuvenating facial in the warm, tranquil treatment room.  She thoroughly cleansed and exfoliated my skin and intuitively massaged my head, shoulders and face using lymphatic drainage techniques.

A paper sheet drenched in a zingy mask was pushed deep into the skin using the ila Sonic Wave Therapy, leaving my skin feeling tingly and taut.  The treatment finished with a light application of serum and face cream and I was gently awoken from my trance-like state.

The treatment was made even more relaxing and effective with a soundtrack of hypnotic, tribal music composed and sung by Denise.  After the treatment, we sipped on Radiance Cleanse detox juices and Denise led us in a meditative sound therapy session, chanting and playing crystal singing bowls in harmony.  It was the perfect end to an afternoon of wellbeing and I left feeling truly inspired by Denise and her soulful, holistic approach to skincare.

I’ve been trying out the collection since visiting the ila barn and am already hooked.  My skin was terribly stressed out with a new type of breakout that I had no idea how to tackle and it was getting me down.  The Gold Cellular Age-Restore has dramatically helped calm and soothe my skin, reducing the bumps with its anti-inflamatory properties and re-balancing the tone.

Gold Cellular Age-Restore Face Cleanser is my hero product and an absolute joy to use.  The oil-based cleanser is made up of Babassu oil, Boswellia Extract, Jasmine and vitamin-rich Sea Buckthorn to purify and nourish the skin.  It’s just the right texture to give the face and decolletage a good massage and turns into a light milk when emulsified with water.  It leaves my skin feeling comfortable and clean and most importantly leaves no greasy residue.

Gold Cellular Age-Restore Face Toner is distilled from the purest organic orange blossom (instantly taking me back to summer in Provence) and helps revive and tighten skin.  I don’t usually see the benefit of toners (unless they’re acid toners to exfoliate) but this one is really rather special.

Gold Cellular Age-Restore Face Serum is the ideal product for getting a good dose of those effective ingredients without overwhelming the skin.  For best results, it can be massaged deeply into the skin with the ila Sonic Wave Therapy device.

Gold Cellular Age-Restore Face Cream is a rich, indulgent face cream with collagen boosting 24 Carat Gold, White Gold and Gold Dust to boost cell oxygenation and eliminate toxins from the skin and White Lily stem cells to target fine lines.  I find the texture a little heavy for everyday use on my combination skin, but I love using it at night and on lazy weekends to thoroughly nourish and repair my skin.

ila spa Gold Cellular Age-Restore is a truly luxurious, results-driven organic range that enhances the brand’s excellent offering.  Priced at the higher end of natural skincare it’s certainly an investment, but believe me there’s much more to the products than simply the decadence of 24 Carat Gold.

The ila spa Gold Cellular Age-Restore collection is now available exclusively at Harrods and is priced from £40 to £180.  For more information and to buy online, visit: and

Chérie City was a guest of ila spa

Photos by Chérie City and ila spa



Beauty, Salon

ESHK Hair Clerkenwell, London

Last week, I escaped the madness of the tube strike in the relaxing surroundings of ESHK Clerkenwell.

ESHK Hair was established in 2005 with salons in Shoreditch and Barbican and the new Clerkenwell salon has been open for just three months.

I usually like to be organised with my hair appointments, but realised I’d been paying too much attention to my colour (more precisely, camouflaging those pesky grey hairs) and had neglected the ends.  Perhaps it’s psychological, but I felt compelled to give my hair and spirit a lift – in fact, it was playing on my mind for days.

So, I hit Wahanda to browse London hair salons and decided on ESHK Clerkenwell for a Cut and Blow-Dry (£31.50) as it’s reasonably close to me and I’d read good things about the salon – ESHK won Time Out’s ‘Best Hairdressers in London’ award three times in a row.

You can’t miss ESHK with its sleek black exterior and bold sign on the corner of Grays Inn Road.  It’s a beautifully-designed boutique salon with an urban retro feel and nice touches such as Cire Trvdon candles and vintage furniture.

I was around 20 minutes early after allowing extra time for tube strike traffic and was immediately seated in the cool, bright ground floor cutting room.  I refueled with a cup of tea served with Italian biscuits and was soon greeted by my lovely stylist Gianluca.

After a quick consultation, I was taken downstairs to the wash basins and Gianluca prescribed a combination of two different Kevin Murphy shampoos for fine and colour-treated hair and a conditioner thick, curly hair that also works well on fine hair like mine.

Vanessa washed my hair and gave me a delightful scalp massage, which is always my favourite part of the salon experience.

Gianluca refreshed the lengths and cut long layers back into my hair.  We chatted about Italy and had a laugh about how out of shape my hair had become, in the safe knowledge that I’d be leaving with a much better ‘do.

My hair was then blow-dried straight and dry cut to complete the shape.  To finish, the lengths were straightened to combat frizz, curled on the ends and combed through for a soft, wavy look.

I was thrilled with my new bouncy, lighter style and the blow-dry that looked fresh and glam (I can’t be bouffant styles that make me look older than my years).  Before leaving, I asked Gianluca’s advice on how to improve my current hair colour and I’ll definitely be going back for colour soon.

I was really impressed with ESHK and loved its friendly, neighbourhood boutique salon vibe.  It’s also very affordable for central London (there’s the option for a free rough dry with colour services), so you can easily make it your regular ‘go to’ salon.

For more information and booking, visit:

All photos by ESHK

Beauty, Shopping

Travelling with the ghd IV Styler

When travelling, my itinerary is usually jam-packed, so my grooming routine needs to be efficient and fuss-free.

Having naturally curly hair, I would usually simply wash and go for a busy day out in Singapore, Valencia or at a festival – it’s not worth even trying to fight the humidity.

Here are some of my care-free curl moments on my travels – as you can see, I’m at my happiest when keeping it low-maintenance and breezy.

However, for a night of dinner and cocktails in New York, Paris or right here in London, a more polished look is required.

I’ve always simply blow-dried my hair and made the ends wavy with ceramic curling tongs, but I’ve recently been introduced to the power of ghd with the original multi-award winning ghd IV Styler.  Since hotel hairdryers can rarely be relied on and luggage space can be limited, ghd hair straighteners can be a beauty life-saver.

Even if an inferior hotel hairdryer does little to tame my tresses, I’ve found that the ghd IV Styler can add the smoothness needed for a straight-hair look.  Most importantly, the straighteners can shave vital time off hair styling and I can often go from curly to straight in less than 20 minutes if I’m in a rush.

So far, I’ve used my ghd IV Styler on trips to Paris, Dublin and two cruises – now I can’t quite imagine travelling without it.

So, what makes ghd straighteners so special?  Firstly, it’s suitable for all hair types and can create not only poker-straight locks but also loose curls and waves.

The aluminium plates covered with a thin layer of ceramic coating and are are fully heated in less than 30 seconds.  Also, the round barrel and swivel cord make it easy to really work on the hair and style it with ease.

Another bonus is that they’re very slim, light-weight and very sturdy, so they don’t take up much suitcase room and travel well.

Here are the results of my express ghd hair straightening.  I could go further with a more sleek, smooth look but I like it when the natural curl adds a soft wave and a touch of volume.

I’m really impressed with my ghd hair straighteners and now know why my friends have always stayed loyal to the brand.  I’m tempted to start a mini ghd collection and invest in a ghd professional hairdryer (to improve my blow-dry skills) and perhaps a creative curl wand to refresh my curls when going natural.

Have you tried ghd hair straighteners?  What are your tips for a quick and chic style on the go?

The ghd IV Styler is priced at £99 and is available to buy online here:



Penhaligon’s Ostara, Inspired by Daffodils

Spring is definitely in the air and what better way to get in the mood for such a glorious season than with Penhaligon’s new fragrance, Ostara.

Named after the Goddess of Spring, Ostara celebrates the season’s quintessential golden flower – the daffodil.  Is there anything that signifies Spring, renewal and sunshine than this bold, joyful flower?

Master Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour took inspiration for the luminous solar floral scent from discovering seas of daffodils during a Spring visit to Kew Gardens with the British heritage brand.

The exquisite aromas reminded him of childhood memories of abundant, sweet narcissus flowers (the fragrant sister of the daffodil) in rural Auvergne, France.

More than simply a note, Ostara feels like a euphoric roll in the daffodils – in fact, it’s the only fragrance I’ve known to be so dedicated to these blooms.

Ostara immediately awakens the senses and represents the natural cycle of a daffodil, from bud to bloom.  It opens with a burst of green and yellow with Juniper, Violet Leaf Absolute and Spearmint layered against vivid Aldehydes, Blackcurrant and Clementine.

Elegant Narcissus Absolute leads the floral bouquet alongside Hyacinth, Hawthorn and Cyclamen to evoke the aromas of walking through countryside meadows and floral gardens.  Narcissus is at the heart of Ostara to create the illusion of daffodils, since there is no essential oil to extract from daffodils themselves.

The floral notes soon soften and a warmer, more seductive fragrance develops.  Benzoin, Vanilla, Stryrax, Amber and White Wood Effects creates the feeling of a balmy, spring afternoon with daffodils leaning towards the sun and swaying in the breeze.

Ostara is a unique, uplifting fragrance that transports you to the idyllic, sun-filled countryside, even if you’re stuck in the city.  For a fresh rush of Spring and an instant mood-elevator, give Penhaligon’s Ostara a try.

Penhaligon’s Ostara is available to buy now in-store and online, priced at £65 for 50ml and £85 for 100ml.

All photos by Penhaligon’s

PR sample



Ultrasun Once-a-Day Sun Protection

The warm weather seems to have just sprung upon us this week, so now is the time to start protecting skin in the sun.  On my Celebrity Cruise of the Caribbean, I had the chance to try out some Ultrasun sun care products tailored to my skin requirements.

Highly-acclaimed sun protection brand Ultrasun is designed and created by Swiss sun care experts and is a beauty industry favourite.  Unlike other sun care brands that require top-ups during the day, Ultrasun’s revolutionary technology allows a safe once-a-day application.

As if that wasn’t enough, the formulas are free from emulsifiers and perfume, reducing the risk of allergy and making them suitable for children and those with sensitive skin.

I tried the Family SPF 30 (150ml/£25), which is the ‘go to’ body sun cream for very sensitive skin (basically everyone can use it).  The lotion has a light, non-greasy formula that instantly hydrates the skin and is quickly absorbed.  The hygienic airless pump dispenser also prevents product deterioration and contamination, so no pesky sand can find its way in.

Texture is important for me when choosing sun care, as I can’t bear oily or sticky sun creams that sit on the skin.  Amazingly, the Ultrasun SPF30 lotion simply feels like a regular body lotion, so you can wear it comfortable in the city as well as the beach.  My skin never burned once on my trip, even on my shoulders that are proven to sun damage, and it helped avoid any prickly heat.

Equally effective is Face SPF 30 (50ml/£20), which can be used instead of your daily moisturiser for all-day protection.  Its anti-ageing formula includes Ectoin to prevent UVA-induced premature photo ageing, Superoxide Dismutase to neutralise free radical activity and Boron Nitride (the Science of Softness) to reduce the appearance of fine lines.

It’s rare for me to find a light, non-comedogenic sun cream for the face that doesn’t make my combination skin break out, but Ultrasun has really nailed it.  I will be wearing it everyday from now through the summer in London, as it only needs to be applied once and won’t make my make-up melt off in the heat.

For the final touch, try Ultralip SPF 30 (15ml/£6) – a rich, velvety lip protector enriched with blackcurrant seed oil to moisturise and reduce inflammation and chapping.  It’s effective in both hot and cold climates and has a long-lasting, luxurious balm texture that feels pleasant on the lips.

I also used it on the aeroplane and it stood well against the arid atmosphere and stifling heat of the dreaded red-eye return flight.

Of course, choosing a good sun cream isn’t enough, it needs to be applied properly for it to be effective.  How often have you applied your suncream on the pool lounger or on the beach ((I know I have)?  This should be avoided, as it can evaporate when applied in direct sunlight and won’t have as much time to bond with the skin.

Instead, apply sun cream to cool, dry skin 30 minutes before going outside and use one teaspoon for the face and at least one teaspoon for each part of the body.

Ultrasun is at the higher end of the suncare market, but the high quality, effective formula and cutting-edge technology make it worth investing in.  It’s also long-lasting with 150ml bottle giving protection for one person for up to two weeks when applied to the whole body.

Want to delve a bit more into the science of sun care?  Ultrasun UK Sun Expert Abi Cleeve shares her advice on staying safe in the sun…

How important is using a facial SPF for preventing premature ageing?  Protection is vital for reducing the signs of ageing. Don’t just think in terms of SPF, UVA is actually just as vital. These are the rays that penetrate so deeply they cause loss of elastin, collagen and damage of our DNA. It is this damage that we see as ageing – increased wrinkles, pore size and slackened skin, alongside decreased elasticity, radiance and firmness.   The UVA filter percentage is key here. Ultrasun filters them to over 90% of UV rays and protects from UVB (that’s the SPF reading) simultaneously.  To give you a benchmark, Australian minimum standard UVA filter is 90%, EU is 33%.

Should it be used all-year round in UK weather? Absolutely, but pick your protection to suit your needs and environment.  Reach for the 50+ in extreme conditions, but on a bright February morning walk Face 30 would be ideal.  Think in terms of skin tone, where you are in the world and how much sun exposure you have had to help you make the right decision.  90% of UV rays penetrate through cloud  and UVA passes unhindered through glass.

Can Ultrasun help prevent pigmentation and age spots?

Pigmentation is one of those things that you don’t necessarily worry about until you have it, but when you do it can be very distressing. Many people, particularly women find the condition embarrassing so Ultrasun wanted to give their customers something that would both protect and care for their skin, whilst decreasing the visibility of existing pigmentation.

In recent years, the only way to treat pigmentation has been with lasers that are costly and sometimes painful. Thankfully Ultrasun has now developed an anti-ageing sun protection cream with anti-pigmentation technology that is suitable for even the most ultra sensitive of skins.

What are your tips for getting an even, healthy tan?

A good sun protection product does not affect the natural tanning capacity of the skin.  Top tips for keeping you safe in the sun at home and away:

1. Understand shade: To avoid the peak potency of the sun, take shade breaks between 11-3pm. Over 90% of UV can penetrate light cloud cover, and this remains a common mistake and reason for sunburn – both in the UK and abroad. Shade given by trees and parasols only gives protection from around 70% of UV rays. Out of the shade, remember a simple shadow rule: The shorter your own shadow, the higher the sun and the greater the risk.

2. Pick the right SPF factor: Skin that is not used to the sun is less able to protect itself. Under the influence of UV rays, the skin begins to thicken and starts producing melanin. These processes take 10-20 days to take place, so use extra protection while your skin is adjusting to the sun. Know your sun account and that there is a difference between an SPF of 50 or 50+. An SPF 50 is tested to be exactly that but a 50+ must achieve at least an SPF 58 to get that all important “+” sign.

3. Rehydrate your skin after sun exposure: After sunbathing, the skin needs a regeneration time of at least 12-14 hours. During this time, some of the damage to cells will be repaired, so ensure you use a good quality aftersun product that will help to accelerate this process by ensuring the skin is rehydrated

4. Remember to drink plenty of water: This will ensure that your skin (and body) stays hydrated throughout the day.

How nourishing is Ultrasun for the skin?

Ultrasun products are free from perfumes, mineral oils and preservatives such as parabens that can cause reactions, discomfort and put your skin under pressure. You want to support and help your skin’s own natural ability to protect itself and balance moisture levels. The skin is a very powerful organ, and because it’s on the outside its ability to deal with the environment by constantly evolving and renewing itself is really quite impressive. Skin can do this job uninterrupted when we choose products that help rather than disrupt.

What is the best way to protect hair in the sun?

Harmful UVA and UVB rays have the power to cause damage from the inner structure of the hair right through to the hair shaft itself, making it brittle and porous. Not only does over exposing your hair and scalp deplete hair of its natural protective oils, it can also cause damage to the cellular structure of the hair causing faded colour, frizziness, split ends and thinning hair.

Prolonged sun exposure without any proper protection can also dry out the hair and disrupt the cells of the hair cuticle which, if left untreated, increases the chance of hair loss, and leaves the hair prone to severe breakage.

The Ultrasun Daily UV Hair Protector provides an innovative complex of anti-oxidants and exclusive UV filters for the hair and scalp. This ground-breaking product offers protection against damaging environmental influences such as UVA, UVB, chlorine and salt water, and prevents fading of natural and colour treated hair.

For more information and to buy online, visit:

PR samples

Photos by Ultrasun and Chérie City

Beauty, London, Salon

Jones & Payne St. Martins Lane, London

Jones & Payne is an award-winning independent hair salon with a Shoreditch flagship and boutique salon in Covent Garden.

The two salons were founded by Ricky Lee Jones and Stuart Payne, who met when working at Taylor Taylor London in Spitalfields, east London.  When creating their own salon, their vision was to combine West End service with a fun, creative east London vibe.

I visited the St. Martins Lane salon for a much needed hair cut last week.  It’s in the same building as the Philippe Starck-designed St. Martin’s Lane Hotel but has a very different atmosphere.

Jones & Payne St. Martins Lane is petite and cosy with vintage-style furnishings, gold-trimmed mirrors, traditional rugs and a curtained-off washing station.

It has a calm, unpretentious feel and is quite unlike the sleek, feminine salons that I’ve visited in London.  Neither is there any pounding house music (thankfully), just the quiet buzz of hairdryers, so I could chat to my stylist freely.  It’s almost like having your hair styled in the comfort of a cool east London apartment.

On arrival, I was immediately offered a complimentary drink and my tea came served in a stunning blue and white china tea set with a shortbread cookie.  It was later refreshed with the addition of a chocolate rice crispy bite – a small touch that makes the salon experience feel like even more of a treat.

My appointment was with lovely Senior Stylist Claire Bennett, who recently joined Jones & Payne from another high end Covent Garden salon.  Not only does she have years of experience but also the most fabulous, perfectly-groomed curly hair, so I knew I was in good hands.

My hair was in desperate need of a cut after being a bit neglected.  It was feeling dry and a little frazzled on the ends (the last traces of ombre highlights), so I was keen to have a good cut of around two inches.

Claire agreed it was time for a substantial cut and showed me exactly what two inches from the lengths would look like.  She also suggested refreshing the layers to frame my face and add some long layers at the back to give the curls some bounce and avoid that dreaded triangle look.

After the consultation, my hair was washed with Pureology shampoo that has a delicious sherbet scent, followed by a deep conditioning mask, which is included complimentary with the cut.  I also had the most delightful, relaxing shiatsu hair massage (my favourite part of a salon visit) – in fact it was so soothing that I almost fell asleep.

Back in the salon chair, my hair was cut precisely and swiftly, which suited me just fine as I was heading straight out for cocktails in Hackney afterwards.  The new length felt much healthier and less wispy on the ends, like my hair was breathing a sigh of relief.

To get the most volume and movement out of my new hair, Claire gave me a pin blow-dry.  She added a touch of UNITE mousse and blow-dried sections of my hair straight, then lightly wound the hair in a curl and fixed it with a pin.  As the hair around the pins cools down, it sets in shape, ready to be released and combed out a little.

I was thrilled with the finished look and will definitely have a go at trying a pin blow-dry at home.  With a spritz of UNITE hair spray, I was ready to go with fuller, bouncier hair.  As always when I visit a salon the heavens opened on my way back east, but luckily my pin blow-dry battled the drizzle rather well.

Jones & Payne St. Martins Lane is a fantastic salon where you can be sure of getting exactly what your hair needs.  I love my new cut and am glad to know where I can find a great pin blow-dry in central London.

Hair cuts at Jones & Payne with Senior Stylist Claire Bennett are priced at £67.  For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Jones & Payne

Photos by Jones & Payne and Chérie City

Beauty, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London, Spa

Sodashi Facial at Sense Spa at Rosewood London

The colder months in London can be tough on the skin, so what better to way to get the glow back than with a revitalising facial?

For a few hours of uninterrupted ‘me time’, I visited Sense Spa at Rosewood London – an urban sanctuary within the five star luxury Holborn hotel.

Sense Spa works exclusively with Australian high end natural skincare brand Sodashi and it’s currently the only spa in London where you can experience a treatment using its products. I’ve had the pleasure of using Sodashi face and body products before, but this was my first time trying a Sodashi treatment and it was just as heavenly as I expected.

Sense Spa has sleek, Asian-inspired interiors and a seductive atmosphere with dimmed lighting, glowing lanterns and aromatic aromas filling the air.

I arrived 30 minutes before my treatment to begin my spa journey with a relaxing detox in the sauna and steam room.  The spa facilities have a private feel and are located in the separate changing rooms with bamboo and slate walls and underfloor heating.

You’re always aware of being in a luxury hotel with attention to small details such as large glass bottles of still and sparkling water with an ice bucket, fine glassware and very plush robes.  I also loved the quirky locker door handles in the shape of regal-looking animals – an easy way of remembering which one is yours.

The spa facilities are available to both spa and hotel guests and I was pleasantly surprised to find I had them all to myself during my visit.  The sauna and steam room were powerful and immaculately maintained and the sensory showers were fun with different rainfall experiences and a tropical vibe.

My therapist Lara met me in the stunning gold leaf and teak relaxation lounge and led me to a cosy treatment room.  I was offered a delicious red berry juice to sip on while she examined the current state of my skin and identified what I wanted to achieve from my Pure Radiance Facial (60 mins/£110).

My main goals were clearing some blemishes, adding moisture to dehydrated areas and bringing some radiance back to my skin.  Happily the consultation was thorough but didn’t take too long, without the extensive lifestyle analysis that I’ve experienced at some spas.

The heated spa bed was raised on both sides to make it super comfortable and a wide cushion was placed behind my knees to balance the pressure.  Once the music was chosen and I was neatly tucked in, Lara encouraged me to take slow, deep breaths, inhaling the aromas of calming essential oils that invigorate the senses.

My covered legs, feet and arms were lightly pressed to get the energy flowing.  My skin was double-cleansed with a light camomile cleansing lotion and hydrated with a calming rose face mist.  Lara used lymphatic drainage massage to reduce any puffiness and concentrated on congested areas around my t-zone.

A gentle, non-abrasive face polish exfoliated my skin and then a plant essence replenish mask was applied.  While the mask was working, I enjoyed the most divine head massage, as well as having the knots in my shoulders kneaded away.

My skin was then finished with a spritz of face mist, eye-lifting gel, balancing serum and a balancing face and neck moisturiser.

After my treatment, I was led to the relaxation lounge to stay in this blissful state a little longer.  I reclined on the comfy spa bed with copies of Vogue and Tatler and was served warming jasmine tea in a decorative Chinese porcelain cup designed exclusively for Rosewood London.

The central table also offers large carafes of citrus-infused water and fresh fruit to keep you feeling refreshed.  While I was revelling in some peaceful magazine-reading, Lara prepared a tailored list of Sodashi products that would benefit my skin at home.

Leaving Sense Spa through the hotel’s attractive courtyard, my skin felt plump, smooth and thoroughly hydrated.  I avoided wearing make-up for the rest of the day, so I really felt the benefit of the products and those precious few hours of tranquility.

The Sodashi Pure Radiance Facial is ideal for those looking for a holistic, natural treatment with effective results.  With excellent spa facilities, friendly staff and elegant surroundings, Sense Spa at Rosewood London is the place to be for a spot of indulgence in the city.

For more information and booking, visit:

Cherie City was a guest of Sense Spa at Rosewood London

All photos by Rosewood London

Beauty, London, Salon

Ombre Detox at Errol Douglas, Belgravia

For the past few seasons, I’ve had ombre highlights in my hair and love the sunkissed look that they give.  My best ombre look was courtesy of Errol Douglas Salon in Belgravia, when I asked for an SJP look before heading off to New York.

Since then, I added more highlights to the lengths of my hair and after the summer, I was in desperate need of a change.  So, who better to revive my hair colour than the dream team at Errol Douglas?

A few days before my appointment, I went for a patch test and consultation with the lovely Jasmin Allen, Senior Colour Master at Errol Douglas.  We discussed toning down my highlights, which were by that time looking a little brassy, and neutralising hints of red in my hair.

Jasmin explained that while ombre hair can look shimmering and natural in the summer, the reduced sunlight in winter can change its appearance and make the colour look harsher.  We both agreed on a softer, tidier look to reflect the changing season.

On the day of my appointment, I got settled on a salon chair with plenty of natural daylight and enjoyed a freshly-brewed Earl Grey served in the signature ED monogrammed tea service with a stack of glossy magazines.

Jasmin expertly applied a light brown semi-permanent Matrix dye to my roots and later took it through to the lengths to balance the colour.  Semi-permanent dye rules the roost at Errol Douglas, as it gives hair a multi-tonal, shiny appearance and helps avoid visible root regrowth.

I was pleasantly surprised at how speedily the dye was applied and developed – there can sometimes be a lot of waiting around at other salons.  After one read through Vogue, I was ready to hit the washing station, where I could put my feet up and relax.

The dye was washed out of my hair and then followed with an illuminating gloss treatment.  My hair was cleansed with luxurious shampoo and conditioner by Moroccanoil (of which Errol Douglas is a brand ambassador) and I was treated to a relaxing shiatsu head massage.

With newly-coloured hair, it was time for my cut with Senior Stylist Anna Bloomer.  Anna has cut my hair twice before and remembered exactly how I like my hair – she just knows what works.  We decided on a generous chop of around 1.5 inches from the lengths, tidying up the long layers and shortening the front layers.

As always, Anna gave me some excellent hair advice, including how to style my curls and get the best out of my styling products by applying them directly to wet (not towel-dried) hair.  She also drew my attention to new hair coming through, signalling a recent improvement in health.  I’d never really considered how your hair can be a mirror of your general well-being.

To maintain hair thickness, Anna recommends Viviscal Professional supplements for an ‘inside out’ approach, weekly Moroccanoil masks and regular salon trims.

Anna then swiftly blow-dried my hair straight with light movement on the ends and wrapped my locks in giant rollers to add volume and bounce.

I was absolutely delighted with my new hair, which looked neater, more balanced and ready for autumn/winter.  The dye covered my highlights and white hairs subtly and the good cut gave my hair a healthy appearance.

Errol Douglas transformed my hair yet again and I’m thrilled with the results.

Here are some of Jasmin’s top tips for an ombre detox:

- Making the hair warmer and richer will give the hair and instant lift.  Warmer tones add warmth to the skin and reflect the light differently – it’s quite an instant fix!

- Going darker is another great idea.  It can be more dramatic, adding richness and glamour for the colder months.

- Give hair a seasonal break – let it rest and detox by going darker not lighter.  The darker colour disguises damage and the tones are more forgiving.

- Giving your hair a rest over the winter months by having less contrast between your natural hair colour of course means more time between salon visits, allowing natural oils to improve hair condition too.

The Errol Douglas Private State Room is now open and perfect for a VIP experience away from the salon hustle and bustle. For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Errol Douglas Salon 

Photos by Errol Douglas and Chérie City

Beauty, Christmas, Shopping

Christmas Gift Guide: Stocking Fillers

For an extra Christmas gift, fill a stocking with small gifts that are sure to delight.  Tangerines and nuts and optional.

Bleach London Spin The Bleach Bottle Colour Kit, £12, Boots
Flowers of Liberty Betsy Liberty Print Disc Charm Bracelet, £14.95, Liberty
Kate Spade Set of 10 All Wrapped Up Correspondance Cards, £25.95, Selfridges
Diptyque Winter Scented Mini Candle, £26, Space NK
Wedgwood Original Tea Caddy, £8.95, Wedgwood
Benefit Sugarglam Fairies Gift Set, £44.50, Boots
Melvita Sparkling Oil L’Or Bio, £32, Melvita
Rococo Busy Bees, £5.95, Rococo Chocolates

Beauty, Christmas, Shopping

Christmas Gift Guide 2014: Beauty

Christmas is the time to splash out on friends and family with something they may not usually buy themselves.  What could be better than finding luxury beauty gift under the tree, whether it’s a Bobbi Brown limited edition eye palette, a gorgeous Bella Freud candle or an elegant Penhaligon’s Christmas fragrance set…


Bobbi Brown Warm Glow Eye Palette, £59, Bobbi Brown
Penhaligon’s Ellenisia Christmas Collection, £65, Penhaligon’s
Chloé Eau de Parfum 50ml Engraved Bottle, £60, Boots
Bodhi & Birch Rosa Rosa Skincare Set, £80, Bodhi & Birch
Bella Freud Je T’Aime Jane Candle, £38, Harvey Nichols
Rouge Louboutin Nail Lacquer, £39, Christian Louboutin

Accessories, Beauty, Fashion, Shopping

Lucy Choi & Philips Beauty UK Lumea Heels

This week, I attended the unveiling of Lucy Choi’s stunning new Lumea Heels in the plush Drawing Room at Ham Yard.

Designed in partnership with Philips Lumea, there’s something rather special about the Lumea Heels.  Not only are they unbelievably gorgeous, but only 30 pairs have been made!

As you may or may not know, Lucy Choi is the niece of the legendary Jimmy Choo and sister of Sandra Choi (Creative Director at Jimmy Choo) and she has certainly shares the family’s natural flair for shoe design.  By contrast to Jimmy Choo’s high octane glamour, Lucy Choi’s shoes are classic and chic with interesting design details and a refreshingly modest price point.

Lucy shared with us that comfort is paramount and drew on her own past experience of having to carry both heels and trainers to work (a footwear double life that we’re all probably familiar with).  Having been the Managing Director at French Sole for over 10 years, she knows a thing or two about comfortable, luxurious shoes.

So, where does Philips Lumea come in?  Philips Beauty UK commissioned Lucy to design a pair of heels based on social media responses to what makes the perfect shoe.  Women were asked a series of questions on Facebook and Twitter such as the ideal heel height, style, fabric and colour, and boy did they answer well.  Check out these beauts…

Having conducted a poll this year among 2000 women in the UK, Philips discovered that almost 90% of women agree that silky smooth legs and a pair of high heels are one of the small things that can improve their confidence.  It’s definitely something I can relate to, especially for those glam occasions when you need to look and feel your best.

Denise van Outen, who is launching the campaign, says: “Having silky smooth legs, even if they are covered up, does give me a sense of control and confidence, so I always find it’s worth fitting it in so that I don’t get caught out unprepared.  Using the Philips Lumea means my skin stays smoother for longer so I don’t need to worry.”

I will be trialling the Philips Lumea Precision Plus over the next few months and look forward to seeing the results.  Lumea Precision Plus is a cordless hair removal solution that uses Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology to prevent hair growth.  Philips states that both legs can be treated in just 15 minutes and studies have shown that hair can be reduced by 80% in four bi-weekly treatments.

Visit the Philips Beauty UK Facebook page for a chance to win a pair of the money-can’t-buy Lucy Choi Lumea Heels.

Have you tried the Philips Lumea?  What gives you that little boost of confidence?