I had such a horrendous time trying to get down to London through Storm Doris yesterday that I can’t quite think straight today. So I’m bringing you one of those posts that pulls together all of the things I’ve been meaning to tell you about for a while. Actually I think beauty and books are a lovely combination for a thinking woman’s weekend!

Tried and Tested Beauty Products

Now, I’m planning to write a full post on skincare for women over 40 next month, looking at how to establish a good regime. In preparation, I’ve been trialling a few different skincare products. Some of these are items I’ve bought and others are samples I’ve been sent. It’s always interesting to see who has the confidence to send samples through because when brands get in touch with me about beauty products, I make it very clear that I will only write about the things that I really believe make a difference. When I tell them that, over half of the PR people simply don’t follow through! These are some of the the brands that did.

The White Company Skincare

The White Company have recently launched a skincare range in association with Deciem. To be perfectly honest, if it hadn’t had Deciem behind it I wouldn’t have taken much notice of it but, as you probably know, Deciem is a brand that is trying to disrupt the skincare marketplace. This is what they say about themselves:

Everything we do is of exceptional quality. Today, quality is no longer defined merely by price points or distribution channels. Quality today means being authentic, being different, being functional, being beautiful and being sensibly priced, even to the wealthy. And we respect these principles. We choose to serve the educated, the curious and the intelligent who appreciate our dedication to this very genuine definition of quality.

A pretty interesting standpoint don’t you think? I really want them to be successful so I am watching them carefully. You will probably know them best for their Hylamide range and the vibrant packaging that you see in Boots.

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Hylamide HA Blur

They have also recently launched The Ordinary which has received a lot of coverage from beauty bloggers. It offers a range of single factor products that enable you to build your own skincare regime to suit your specific skincare concerns. The prices are very low and I really want to like it so I recently bought quite a few items to test. Sadly, so far I have not been blown away by them apart from Buffet which I quite like using as an everyday serum.

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I’ll keep you posted on the rest of the range when I’ve been using it for a little longer. However, getting back to The White Company, you can see why I was interested to see that they had made a point of partnering with Deciem rather than one of the many wholesale skincare companies that create own brand ranges for the big multiples.

They sent me the full range of six products to trial. I need to use the super serum and the moisturiser for a little longer before I can give you an honest review, however this is what I think of the other items in the range:

The Super Balm – Gentle Daily Deep Cleanser

This cleanser is my favourite product. You apply it as a cream to dry skin and massage it in. You then use a cloth soaked in hot water to remove it and finish by using a cold cloth to remove any residue and close your pores. It has a lovely lemony fragrance. Your skin feels dewy, fresh and most importantly fully prepped to absorb your serum when you have used it.

The only thing missing is a pack of muslin cloths to accompany it, as featured in the photograph below. I have had to dig out some Eve Lom ones to use. The White Company sell flannels but a pack of 5 muslins to buff the skin would make this the perfect cleansing regime in my opinion.

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White Company Super Balm Cleanser

The Hand Elixir – Ultra-Hydrating and Protecting Cream

This is a very pleasant hand cream, it absorbs quickly and has a fresh citrus fragrance. I am quite particular about hand creams and I have different ones for different purposes. Bearing that in mind, I would not say that this is ‘ultra-hydrating,’ if it were, I would be keeping it by my bed to apply last thing at night or in the bathroom for when I wash my hands. As it is, I have it on my desk to apply during the day because the benefit of its fast absorption means I can get straight on with other tasks without waiting for it to dry.

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White Company Hand Elixir

Eye Revive – Daily Brightening Eye Serum

I have a real problem with puffy eyes and a lot of eye creams are just too heavy making the problem worse so I like the fact that this has a gel like texture. It feels very cooling to apply. The ingredients’ list is interesting, it even contains probiotic technology which is there to help with skin renewal and it also promises to lift the upper eyelids. I haven’t been using it for long enough for that to happen yet but if it does, I will be singing about it from the tree tops.

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Eye Revive – Daily Brightening Eye Serum

Night Oil Overnight Renewal Treatment

I have dry skin so I use an oil as the last stage of my skincare at night, on top of my moisturiser. Until now I have used Clarins but my frustration has been that it doesn’t absorb well and so I end up with oil all over my pillow. The White Company night oil does absorb quickly and you only need a few drops to cover your face and neck which makes it a lovely product to use and good value for money.

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Night Oil Overnight Renewal Treatment


This is a brand that I hadn’t heard of before. It was founded by Dr. Hadi Abushaira, a consultant dermatologist who has a particular interest in the ageing of the skin. You may remember that last year I discovered the power of retinol or Vitamin A when I started using Verso’s Super Facial serums. Retinol is the single most effective thing that I have ever applied to my skin. It is like waking up with a new face or, as I described it last year, like polishing an old brass door knob and seeing it come up shiny and new.

Vivderma sent me their cellular recovery system which is a pack of four vials of retinol that you use every night for a month. You simply use the pipette and rub two or three drops over your skin. Each week, the strength of the retinol increases along with your skin’s tolerance and it is increasingly more effective. Now is a good time of year to really blitz your skin like this, revealing a fresh new layer underneath before the sun gets too strong.

I can’t tell you how sold I am on Retinols, they make an incredible difference. A lot of beauty companies incorporate them into their ranges but the thing you need to focus on is the strength. You are going to have to use a product for an extremely long time if it only has a little bit of retinol in it, which is the case with most department store beauty hall ranges.

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Vivderma cellular recovery system

These high concentrate ranges are not cheap but you will see a difference and when you think about the amount of money and time you might otherwise spend at a Beauty Salon, they are worth it. I also found that each vial lasted for about 16 days – far longer than a week. I am happy to recommend both Vivderma’s kit for an intense treatment or Verso for a treatment that you use on an ongoing basis throughout the year, two or three times a week.

Vivderma Sculpting Neck and Chest Cream

The other item that Vivderma sent me that I particularly liked was this Neck and Chest Cream. My skin has aged most on these areas, probably because I’ve scrimped on extending my moisturiser over the years. This product is lovely to use and it acts for a long time. When I apply it at night, I can still feel it in the morning as a smooth film over the area and although it hasn’t been able to tackle the deep lines on my neck, it has improved the general crepiness.

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Vivderma sculpting neck and chest cream


I am increasingly being sent hocus pocus products that I make no promise to review. The vast majority of them end up in the bin or being joyfully accepted by the gaggle of female friends that seem to accompany my middle son wherever he goes. I fully expected this Advanced Snail Day Moisturiser to be one of them. However it has turned out to be one of the best moisturisers that I have ever used.

Now that most of the power ingredients of skincare are focused in serums, it must be difficult for businesses who are trying to sell moisturisers to make themselves heard. The reason I love this is because of its texture and its longevity.

It really does contains Snail Secretion which is apparently derived from the natural defensive liquid secreted by snails. The pharmacists at SkinChemists discovered that Snail Secretion “delays premature ageing of the skin, whilst reducing visible age spots and providing protection from free radical damage.” It also includes, flower extract, Vitamin E, Creatine and coconut oil.

I very rarely rave about moisturisers but this feels cooling when you apply it – almost as if a snail has slithered over your skin (in a nice way). It also lasts all day, my face still feels moisturised when I remove my make-up which is very rare for me as I have dry skin. The downside is that yet again it is pricey.

Looking at the SkinChemists’ site I am now intrigued by the Placenta Serum and the Wrinkle Killer Snake Serum – it makes you wonder how a brainstorming session in the SkinChemists labs would go!

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SkinChemists Advanced Snail Day Moisturiser

Burt’s Bees

Moving on to make-up briefly now, I have had this lip pencil for a while and it has become my number one lip colour. I wear it whenever I want to have natural looking make-up. Mine is ‘Hawaiian Smoulder’ and it is such a lovely, moisturising lip crayon that I am not surprised by the number of awards it has won. If you buy one you can get one for half price here – a great, cheap pick-me-up

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Burts Bees Lip Pencil

By the way the colour is nowhere near as dark as it looks online – I’m wearing it in this shot

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Vincent Longo

Whilst we’re on the subject of natural looking beauty, I was sent some samples by Vincent Longo which I’m also using in the picture above. They are not robust enough for me to wear at work every day because they have a light, creamy base and I seem to touch my face a lot with my hands so they rub off. However they have become my go to at the weekends when I want to let my skin breathe and yet still have a glow.

I particularly like the Water Canvas Foundation which is oil free but includes 75% water to hydrate your skin – and it really does.

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I use it with the Water Canvas Blush which has a similar hydrating effect and gives you a rosy glow, making you look as though you’ve been out in the fresh air.

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The fact that it is stocked by Cult Beauty tells you how good it is.

Hair Products

I’ve been meaning to mention Aquis Hair towels for ages. The idea of them didn’t excite me when I received the email but I was soon converted. Everybody knows that drying hair with a towel is not good for it because it rubs the cuticles up the wrong way and breaks the shafts but what else can you do when you get out of the shower? Try one of these.

It’s a bit like wrapping very absorbent kitchen roll around your hair (except for the fact that it isn’t disposable). What I mean is that the towels are lightweight and they suck a lot of the water out of your hair without you needing to rub it, they also dry very quickly.

I was sent a white one and have now added the greys to my collection because I feel annoyed when the white one is in the wash. That’s how good they are. The packaging is also so lovely that they make great gifts for friends.

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Lisse luxe hair towel

Other than that as far as hair products are concerned I am still buying basic Mane n Tail shampoo and conditioner – I have trialled a number of far more expensive products but I haven’t found anything to beat it.


Don’t worry, I am not going to inflict an image of me wearing this on you. In the run up to Valentine’s Day, Fantasie invited a number of bloggers to choose a set of lingerie. Unfortunately mine was out of stock but it arrived this week and I think it is the first time that Mr MC has shown more than a passing interest in one of my deliveries. It is absolutely exquisite, I don’t think I’ve had anything so intricately made since my wedding lingerie.

Marianna bra; Marianna brief; Marianna chemise

More books

Before I go, I have another book that I’ve just finished. It’s The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss and on the surface it is a story about a family whose children are affected with a genetic illness out of the blue. However underneath that, it explores 21st century family life, the fragility of happiness, the struggle to balance career and home and the ups and downs of a longstanding marriage. There are also fascinating asides about the building of Coventry Cathedral (the father is an urban historian) and, as well as being interesting, this also helps to lighten the intensity of a novel that is dealing with intimate and serious issues. Here’s a more qualified and in-depth review for you to read.

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The Tidal Zone

Project Happier

I was overjoyed when I came across this new range at John Lewis and am now the proud owner of a Happiness Journal to make this year’s plans in. I have to say that I’ve really lost focus on Project Happier since Christmas and I can feel it. I’ve been too busy and we have very little in our family diary to look forward to. This little yellow book has given me the stimulus I need – after all it would feel really bad to have a Happiness Journal on my desk with empty pages!

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Happiness Journal

I really like the way it’s structured, it means you don’t have to think too hard about the definition of happiness, you simply fill in the blocks

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It pushes you to think ahead and cover the whole year…

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…and then break it down a month at a time

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I know that on one level happiness shouldn’t need to be a project but I find in a family of people that are all so busy, time together has to be put into an agenda. Sometimes you also have to be nudged to look beyond the work and domestic fronts and add something meaningful to your life.

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Whilst I was at it, I ordered this Inspiration pen to go with it (I may have to start writing my blog in long hand)!

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Inspiration pen

…and a habit tracking pad to tick off during the week. My shoulder has finally been given the green light for some of the tougher weight bearing gym classes I used to do and I know that it’s going to be hard to get back to my former level of fitness. I have to find a way of making myself accountable. Hopefully a checklist will help.

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Habit tracking pad

I’ve often popped into the Kikki K shop in Covent Garden but it’s always been too chaotic to buy anything so I’m really pleased that John Lewis is now stocking the range. There are lots of other lovely bits and pieces of Kikki K stationery here.

Midlife lately

As I mentioned earlier, I had a run in with Storm Doris yesterday. I left home at 7.30am for my trip down to London. When I’d been on the train for 45 minutes, the manager started to announce delays. At first he said we would be one hour late into London, then it would be three hours. I knew at that point that there would be no point in continuing so I decided to get off at the next stop.

At Crewe station I was only an hour away from home but it was already chaos. Eventually we were told that there were power cuts further up the line so they were laying on coaches. We embarked on the 10 mile journey to the next working station but all of the motorways were closed and so the roads were gridlocked. To cut a long story short, I spent 11 hours travelling in a huge circle yesterday. I can’t tell you how glad I was to get home!

So, I know today’s post is an unusual one but I still feel a bit frazzled. There have been so many bits and bobs that I’ve been wanting to tell you about and at least now I’ve got them all off my mind. I hope you have a lovely weekend – we have another storm forecast for tomorrow so I’m off to batten down the hatches and go absolutely nowhere!

Disclosure: ‘Something for the weekend – beauty, books and lingerie’ is not a sponsored post and none of the coverage has been paid for. Some of the items were PR samples and these have been disclosed. Each review has been given independently as always and I have only covered items that I think are worthy of your attention. There are a lot of products that did not meet my criteria of making a visible difference and so these were not featured.

Other SS17 posts you may have missed

New February outfits for night and day

Trying on Finery, Boden, M&S and looking at Hush SS17

Spotlight on Baukjen

Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo

Finding the ultimate breton top

What I’ve been wearing

Winter jumpers and the new jean style

Reviewing Next SS17

Midlifechic’s 3rd birthday – what’s next?

The Midlife Series

What is midlife in the twenty-tens? 

Survey results – what you are experiencing

My story