Review: Optimum PhytoDeluxe range from Superdrug

Superdrug optimum phytodeluxe


Following on from the Stratum C serum review, this is the moisturiser I've been pairing it with for the last few weeks - Optimum PhytoDeluxe by Superdrug. (And topping that off with Skin79 BB cream, a totally excellent Korean BB cream that lasts all day.)

One of the things that got me interested in Korean skincare was the unusual range of ingredients. You just don't get snail filtrate, dried bird's nest and yeast in too many UK high street products, which is a shame. Don't fear the snail goop people, it works wonders.

But more and more, the Korean influence can be seen in Western skincare and I detect more than a hint of it in this new range from Superdrug - would you believe it's infused with Platinum and Black Diamond Truffle?

Black Diamond Truffle you might have seen as an ingredient in Estee Lauder's Re-Nutriv range which retails at well over £200. Obviously we don't know how much of the ingredient is in each of these products to compare, but the fact that it crops up at all in a Superdrug range costing under £15 is pretty remarkable.

Other ingredients in Optimum PhyDeluxe include Shea Butter, Vitamin E and Vitamin B5. There is some alcohol present which I know not everyone likes, but it is right down at the bottom of the ingredients list so I don't really see it as a problem.

There is a separate day cream and night cream, and as you'd expect the day cream is lighter than the night one. That's not to say that the night cream is heavy though, and you could still top it with a Korean sleeping mask if you are like me and like whacking ALL THE CREAMS on your face at night.

Packaging-wise, these creams come in an airtight, elegant pump dispenser which helps retain the products' effectiveness which they might lose in a jar where the product gets exposed to the air every time you open it. Both are dispensed white then completely disappear into the skin, leaving it feeling silky and moisturised.

I can't say that I noticed a lot of the visible firmness that this product promises, but I did find it to be a good daily (and nightly) moisturiser that sinks in well and keeps the skin hydrated without oiliness all day. My skin tends to react and feel drier when the central heating goes on but I haven't found that to be a problem since I've been using these.

What I especially like is that it contains 15 SPF - SPF is not yet a standard in UK skincare and I think it should be because protecting your skin from the sun is one of the sure fire ways you can stop skin damage and premature ageing. And even though I am very pro-ageing, that doesn't mean I want my skin to fry needlessly.

And though they sound super-luxe, each of these retails at a very modest £14.99. I also like that they are very simply marked as being suitable for age 40+, with no added marketing puff about being anti-ageing or rediscovering lost youth.

Skin does change as you age due to hormonal and other factors, so a skincare product for a twenty-something is not going to be the same as one for a forty-something, so in this case the marketing is simply to point you in the right direction.

And you'll need that in the Superdrug aisles. I'm already a fan of Superdrug's own brand ranges, from make-up to skincare - I seem to shop there, or at least have a mooch around the aisles, most weeks. There are all sorts of treasures to find - earlier this year I went through a whole tube of their Clearly Youthful Glycolic Peel which is a great skin refresher to use a couple of times a week. The only down side is that their range is so wide, it's hard to know where to start. But if you're over 40, definitely start here.


The Superdrug Optimum PhytoDeluxe day and night creams are available in Superdrug stores and online here. RRP £14.99 for 50ml. Was on buy one get one free and has just changed to less than half price at £7.45 so the message is SNAP EM UP PEOPLE.

*PR Sample

Stratum C Menopause Skin Repair Serum review

Stratum c serum

In my day job right now I am working on a TV show about superfoods. To give 100% commitment to the role I have also been putting a superfood on my face, in the guise of Irish Moss seaweed; the star ingredient in Stratum C's Skin Repair Serum.

Alas this has somewhat backfired because every time seaweed gets mentioned in the office I can't resist exclaiming I'VE GOT THAT ON MY FACE! to nobody in particular.

It all goes a bit silent then, until somebody offers to go and make a cup of tea. Turns out screeching about your latest skincare find is not the conversation starter I thought it was. Look, I haven't worked in an office with other people for over 12 years, I'm still learning. Dennis the cat never minded when I did it at home. #prayforme


Anyway, did I tell you about the seaweed on my face? It's really cool, you should try it.

Irish Moss has a long history of use in Chinese medicine. It contains Vitamins A,B, C and D and has historically been used to treat lots of skin ailments. It's particularly credited with smoothing the skin, helping to heal blemishes and promoting a healthy glow.

Also high on the ingredients list for this serum is Hyaluronic Acid which has become a real star in skincare in recent years. HA is a natural part of the skin which helps it to retain moisture. However, it decreases as we age, hence older skin looking and feeling dryer. Topically applied, Hyaluronic Acid helps to smooth wrinkles, so if you see it in your skincare this is A Good Thing.

With these two ingredients at the top of the list for Stratum C's Serum, we're in pretty good hands:

Full Ingredient List: Irish Moss Seaweed Extract, Hyaluronic Acid, Purified Water, Acetyl Hexapeptide 8, Pentapeptide 18, Dipeptide Diaminobutyrol Benzylamide Diacetate, Acetyl Glutamyl Heptapeptide 1, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide 7, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexlglycerin. 


I've trialled a lot of the Stratum C range over the last year - first the eye cream, then the hand cream - and always found it to be a great range for the over 40s that delivers. 

Stratum C was created by Forme Laboratories and is based on scientific research carried at the University of Reading. It is the first skin care range scientifically developed to protect and repair menopausal skin.

It's suitable for the perimenopause as well. The perimenopause is the 5 to 10 year period before you go into menopause (your forties, basically), and carries with it a delightful range of symptoms including fatigue, anxiety and - yes - skin problems. You don't hear about it all that much, although I have a feeling that if men experienced such a prolonged chunk of their lives feeling this crap then we'd hear about it much more.


 Stratum C say of their Skin Repair Serum:

 It delivers advanced nutrients and anti-ageing ingredients in higher concentrations to the areas on the face where you need it most. 
Especially effective for areas around the eye (crow's feet), forehead (furrows) and glabellar lines (above the nose). This intensive treatment has been shown to reduce deep wrinkles by 45% in as little as 28 days use. 
This highly effective serum also contains the special peptide combination that works with the body's own skin to create collagen, so in addition to short term wrinkle reduction, you gain long term skin protection against the challenges of menopause. 
In my experience after using it for around 3 weeks, it's a good 'un. This a a product that somehow manages to be both light and rich at the same time. It's a clear, odourless gel that sinks into the face immediately with no oiliness.
As always with serums it's a good idea to exfoliate first so it sinks in better - don't over exfoliate or use anything too harsh but do it a couple of times a week and you will see that it makes a difference to how fresh your skin looks.
I found that half a pump's worth was enough for the face and neck, and it really does have an instantly plumping effect. You'll need a little light moisturiser on top but not much unless your skin is very dry. If you're looking to treat yourself to a skin superfood (and with Christmas coming, Lord knows you'll need it), get this on your menu pronto.
Stratum C Menopause Skin Repair Serum is available from selected retailers and here on the Stratum C website at £49 for 15ml.
*PR Sample

Christmas calling for Avon


Avon winter nights scented candle

Since the last post was about a super-luxe brand, let's look at a range which is still luxurious but much more affordable - Avon.

You might have seen a TV ad recently in which beauty writers are given some make up to try without knowing the brand, and are astonished when it turns out to be from Avon. It's a clever piece of marketing because Avon is one of those brands that can be a bit Marmite in that it can divide people quite sharply.

My impression is that it has upped its skincare offerings in recent years, and that you don't have to wait for the catalogue to come through your door since its online shop is pretty comprehensive.

Avon recently sent me a selection of their new Christmas range to try out, which was a good swift kick up the bum to get me organised. I have done bugger all for Christmas and it's not that far away. Thank goodness for online shopping is all I can say.

First up from Avon's Christmas range, up top you can see the Winter Nights Multi-Wick Candle (usually £14, currently reduced to £10) nestling next to my pug dog candle. Pug candle always breathes a sigh of relief when another candle enters the house because it means he lives to wax on another day.

The Winter Nights candle has three wicks so it burns evenly for up to 30 hours. The delicate scent is tonka bean and chai spices, and it's housed in purple glass with a lovely bronze leaf design. The box is also purple with embossed leaves and the whole package makes a nice substantial present. Yes, it's the Christmas holy grail - the gift that looks like it cost a lot more than you actually spent.

Speaking of which, check out this beauty: Avon's Attraction for Her perfume (£15 for 50ml) has a really unusual bottle shape which manages to taper both at the top and the bottom depending on which way you look at it. The long lasting scent includes blackberry, musk and vanilla amber. Comes in a luxe gold box and would make a great gift if I wasn't keeping it for myself cos I don't think I'm on Santa's naughty list just yet.

  Avon attraction for her perfume

Probably the most interesting product on offer from Avon this Winter is their Anew Essential Youth Maximizing Serum, which has been attracting rave reviews from sources as diverse as the Daily Telegraph, which named it as one of its top 30 serums.

I know I always go on about the packaging, but that's because I think it does form an important part of how we feel about a product or a brand. This has a sort of double-walled effect, with a rose-gold coloured inner vial suspended within an outer clear plastic case and gold accents around the pump. It certainly looks a lot more luxe than the price tag.

Avon Anew Essential Youth Maximising Serum usually retails at £25 but is currently reduced to £16 and comes with a free beauty gift. Bargain!


Avon youth maximising serum


I found that this serum brightened and smoothed the skin, and was moisturising without being sticky (although you would still probably want to add your regular moisturiser on top). The smoothing effect is probably from the dimethicone - there's that ingredient again which we saw in the Nu Skin essence.

The only thing I don't like about the serum is the name because I am not keen on anything labeled 'youth maximising'. The implication there is that youth is everything, even though some of us are happy enough in the (older) skin we're in. We'd like to look our best, for sure, but that doesn't include pining about turning back the clock. The past is a different country, and not always one you'd want to live in.

And lastly here's a little preview of something coming early next year from Avon - look at these gorgeous Ultra Colour Matte lipsticks in Ravishing Rose and Wild Cherry (RRP £8). And also note that I am now a proper beauty blogger since I have swatched some lipsticks on my arm.

New Avon lipsticks

There's lots to love about this pair, from the light fruity scent that reflects their berry-coloured origins to the little window at the top of the packaging so you can check which one you've got when you're rummaging in your handbag. The texture is very matte but moisturising so they feel great to wear and won't dry your lips out.

All of these items are available directly from Avon representatives as well as via the links given

Are you an Avon fan? What do you think of these products?

*PR Samples

Luxury skincare review: Nu Skin ageLOC Tru Face Essence Ultra

Nuskin ageloc tru face essence ultra


One of the things I really appreciate about blogging is the opportunities to try out products that my budget wouldn't otherwise stretch to. But since somebody will have the budget for these things then I think it's important to give them the once over so those people have an idea of what to expect.

And so we come to the most luxe skincare item I have ever reviewed, in the shape of ageLOC Tru Face Essence Ultra by Nu Skin which weighs in at over £180 for a month's supply.

~Wowsers. Let's pause for a moment to take that in~

You won't have seen this brand in the shops because Nu Skin sells its skincare products exclusively online and through independent distributors. It has many fervent fans (and to be fair, some critics) who have high praise for the brand and are happy to repurchase despite the price tag.

This facial essence also been on the receiving end of plaudits from the beauty industry, and was recently commended in the Best New Premium Anti-Ageing Product category at the Pure Beauty Awards.

The product itself definitely feels luxurious, with its opaque glass jar and metal screwtop lid. Inside, there are 60 individually sealed vials of serum. Using one in the morning and one at night, the pot of 60 should last a month.

The vials are made of soft pewter-coloured plastic. Simply twist the top off and squeeze out a few drops of the serum - initially targeting any particular areas of concern, then spreading it out all over the face and neck. Follow with a moisturiser and the rest of your regular skincare and make up.


Nuskin ageloc truface ultra capsules


These are the potential benefits according to the Nu Skin website:

  • ageLOC targets the sources of the visible signs of skin ageing and will let you enjoy a firm skin.
  • Features the power of Ethocyn, clinically proven to help improve the key component of a supple skin.
  • Helps contour and firm the skin for a more youthful looking appearance.
  • Increases skin resiliency around the eyes, neck, chin and jawline.
  • Helps protect the skin from oxidative stress

Now, the last of those you can't really measure as a user, but the increased firmness is easier to spot and in my experience it did deliver. After using Tru Face Essence Ultra for a month I felt that it did a good job of making skin appear firmer and smoother.

What I especially like is that you could see it working from the very first application - my skin was smoother straight away. This is at least partly to do with the presence of dimethicone in the ingredients.

Dimethicone is a silicone-based polymer widely used in skincare and hair products - it's what makes your primer feel smooth on your face, or your conditioner tame out hair frizz. However, some people have a sensitivity to dimethicone and hence have to avoid products containing it.

For me, I found that for around the first week my face would go pretty pink when I used the essence capsules, but that this redness would then go away within a minute or two. So perhaps I have some sort of sensitivity to the ingredients. Whatever it was, it didn't last or perhaps my skin was just in shock at being on the receiving end of such a luxury treat.

This is the full ingredients list:

 Cyclopentasiloxane, Squalane, Dimethiconol, Dimethicone, Ethoxyheptyl Bicyclooctanone, Ubiquinone, Dunaliella Salina Extract, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Carthamus Tinctorius Seed Oil, Oenothera Biennis Oil, Tocopheryl Linoleate/Oleate, Commiphora Mukul Resin Extract, Retinyl Palmitate, Echinacea Angustifolia Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Octyldodecyl Olivate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hydrogenated Polydecene, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Zea Mays Oil, Tocopheryl Linoleate, Benzotriazolyl Dodecyl p-Cresol, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-t-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Butylparaben, Propylparaben.


Lots of interesting stuff in there for sure! Those little capsules really pack a punch, with a combination of silicones, plant oils and antioxidants. And this is where there is a point to the individual packaging - those capsules protect the antioxidants from the air and keep them stable until you want to use them. So this type of packaging is much better than a jar that you keep opening, exposing the product to the air.

So to sum up - this is a luxe product that seems to work from the very first use, though it won't work for everybody. What I would really like to see is some sort of tester pack from Nu Skin so that people could try a few capsules before committing to the whole jar.

Since I found that it left the skin visibly smoother, I'm keeping the last few capsules for when I wake up feeling especially wrinkly. I can absolutely see why, if you had the budget for it, you'd be a fan.


ageLOC Tru Face Essence Ultra is available here on the Nu Skin website at £181.50 for a jar of 60 capsules

*PR sample


A night out with the 30 plus bloggers at Omniya London

Photo 08-11-2015, 17 14 15

What a bonkers week it's been. I started a new freelance job, back working in TV, and the first time I've worked out of somebody else's office in over 12 years.

Now every day has a thrilling air of Just how feral have I become? as I realise that there is more than just me and Dennis the cat who can hear me singing Eighties electronica or see me marching on the spot.

(Top tip for FitBit wearers - if you are trying to catch up on your step total for the day, I recommend cranking up the old Youtube and marching to Eighties electronica. Only if you work from home though. Not in anybody else's office. Definitely definitely not).

Also last week I gave a talk about social media to the Guild of Food Writers, who turned out to be a most excellent bunch. And then I boinged back to London again for the Omniya London bloggers event.

I mainly went to this event because it was exclusively for bloggers over 30. You would not believe how many beauty blogger events are empty of people over 30. We just don't get invited to some things, I guess because we would stink up the room with our aged faces and general feralness. Then we would hit the bar and start singing Eighties electronica and nobody needs to see that. But no matter, it's their loss.

So I want to say a big thank you to Hayley at London Beauty Queen and Omniya London for hosting this truly lovely 30 plus blogger event. Nobody in my real life likes to talk about skincare and weird face juice, but this was a room where you could do so with freedom. 


Omniya London

Nestled in the shadow of Harrods, Omniya does a pretty good impression of a French pharmacy like the ones I visited in Paris. The shelves are lined with oodles of cool skincare brands, some of which you'll know and others which are exclusive. It's skincare geek heaven, with lots of innovative stuff to try.

Omniya bills itself as a 'Health and Beauty Mediclinic' which means that it is part treatment rooms, part pharmacy and part health and beauty retailer. I'm not aware of anywhere else in the UK quite like it, especially with such a range of cult and niche skincare on offer. If you're in the Kensington area definitely drop in for a nose round, the shelves are packed with finds.

As Omniya opened its doors to the 30 plus bloggers, the room was made even more appealing by beautiful flowers from Bloomon and healthy minimeals from Treat. It was one of the friendliest blogging events I've been to; both brands and bloggers alike were incredibly warm and up for a chat.

I think I was a bit worried that a beauty event might be a bit scary with people judging if you were wearing the wrong shoes or whatever, but basically it was a bunch of nice people in a cool room, with macaroons. If only every blogging event could be like this. Also I got through the night without falling over or singing some Eighties electronica so RESULT.

When we were left were given an utterly cool and amazing gift bag of products to try. Some were from brands I'm already a big fan of, like Roger et Gallet, Vichy and La Roche Posay, others were from brands new to me like Fillerina and Zo Skin Health. Plus there was a chance to try some of the heroes of SkinCeuticals line.

So right now I'm resisting the temptation to throw it all at my face at once. I think some of the products will have to go towards a future giveaway because, you know, it's nice to spread the love around.

Photo 05-11-2015, 13 51 55

I've started using the Fillerina night cream as this is apparently a no-needle dermo-cosmetic filler which contains no less than six types of hyaluronic acid. I didn't even know there were six types of hyaluronic acid.You learn something new every day.


You can find out more about the 30 plus blog collective here.

Find out more about Omniya here