February 14th 2017
You may not buy into Valentine’s/ galentine’s (marketing frenzies ahoy). In which case, as you were. But if you are looking to mark the most amorous day of the year (supposedly), these beauty, fragrance and wellbeing gifts will tickle many people’s fancy, or just you know, your own. A spot of self-care is far preferable to an expensive set menu plus super surged Uber ride home anyway. Here’s what’s making us feel warm and fuzzy.
A British brand that celebrates self-expression and experimentation, Illamasqua was originally developed to serve and fuel the creative juices of theatre performers, and its ‘anything goes’ blueprint is still going strong today. Open, compassionate and with a dedication to tolerance and ‘beauty for all’, regardless of skin colour, sexual orientation or gender, the cruelty-free, Peta approved company pushes the envelope where makeup is concerned, although these four miniature bestsellers are pretty subtle in the scope of the general brand offering. That doesn’t detract from their impact of ease of use, however. Gel Sculpt is a genius contouring stick that melts into skin to avoid the dreaded cheekbone stripes (I’ve spied it in many a pro makeup artist kit), Gel Liner makes instant definition a doddle, Hydra Veil is the bounciest, silkiest skin prep product you can imagine and Masquara creates an impressive thicket of lashes from the roots up. Basically, it’s ‘can’t go wrong’ beauty in a bag.
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The skincare equivalent of scattering rose petals on the bed, this creamy beeswax, coconut oil and soybean based candle smells like freshly cut blooms and has a low melting point, allowing you to drizzle the warm oil over skin for multitasking massage plus room fragrance plus vibe-making pleasure. Speaking of pleasure…
The yogi of sex toys, this soft “smart” vibrator can be bent any which way (literally), is unisex and has no less than six motors. Given its considerable power, it is remarkably sleek looking (and feeling), and it won’t disturb the neighbours/ housemates/ fam either. It charges via a spacey looking pad, so no more rooting around the house for AA batteries, and it lasts for two hours at max output, which to be honest is mindblowing in most senses. To add to the perks, it’s waterproof, and you can even create your own personalized vibration pattern via the MysteryVibe app. There are “sensual playlists” to choose from too if you just want to get the show on the road. In a nutshell, it’s a sex toy straight from the future.
If there’s a time to splash out on your sex life, now seems as good a window as any, and this three piece set goes further than your average less than glamorous bottle of lube. A non-sticky gold and diamond flecked massage gel (serious opulence here), a thermal water based, mineral-rich vanilla lubricant and an organic aloe vera and rosehip based ‘restorative’ gel are slicker than your average whether used solo, in the heat of the moment or to soothe irritated skin post hair-removal.
For a blowout present that’s somewhat more traditional, you can’t go wrong with this box-fresh homage to the rose. With a bespoke rose illustrated bag and box, much-loved Red Roses Cologne (think rose cut with violet and lemon for zip) and an opulent floral arrangement by the acclaimed Phillipa Craddock, it’s as luxe as floral offerings + fragrance gets.
Available at Jo Malone Boutiques in London and Manchester
We’re on a rose run so far and we may as well continue. Now a pH balancing toner doesn’t on the surface of things appear to be the most romantic of offerings, but if you’re setting up an at-home spa situation to honour Cupid rather than heading out, nothing could be more soothing than whisking this cooling, balancing toner over your/ your loved one’s mug after a really delicious double cleanse. It’ll serve you beautifully every other day of the year too.
Let’s continue the floral facial. These colourful single masks are made from earth friendly, recycled natural bamboo fibres and are enriched with different actives and plant oil blends depending on your particular skin objective. Rose, given that it’s topical, is your super-hydrating option, with a rose oil based serum containing vitamin C for brightening antioxidant prowess. Also in the fruity/ flower power bouquet are Jasmine, Lavender, Violet, Raspberry and Orange, so take your pick, grab one for a partner/ roomie and get ready to do absolutely nada for at least ten minutes. Bliss.
On the topic of doing not a lot, running a hot bath for bae is sure to go down well, and while seaweed may seem like an odd ingredient to add to the tub (it’s not your average bubble bath, that’s for sure), it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Once submerged in warm water, the 70 per cent certified organic Irish seaweed releases a gel that soothes, softens and hydrates skin- it’s particularly alleviating for eczema and psoriasis sufferers. Nothing is sexier than helping a brother/ sister out with a skin condition. It’s also sky high in natural minerals, takes the edge off of sore muscles and can be dried out and reused, or put to work as a very effective garden fertiliser if you’ve exhausted bathtime potential. If the feel of seaweed snaking around your bath gives you the creeps, you can keep the tendrils in the net supplied, although we promise you get used to the slightly tickly sensation…
Fragrance is probably the go-to Valentine’s gift, yet the most tricky buy of all if you’re aiming to give something new. This cult classic scent is truly special and much-loved for a reason- smoke and leather are lifted by sweeter violet and iris to create a fragrance that’s genderless and always noticed, in a good way. I’m yet to meet a beauty editor who doesn’t love it.
Now for something far less subtle, this new Private Blend perfume aims to mimic “a rush of blood to the head”. That might not sound 100 per cent pleasant, but this isn’t your average sickly vanilla concoction- too right at this price point, but if you do invest, the saffron, myrrh, tobacco, frangipani and roasted coffee infused vanilla is pure sophistication, and one tiny squirt delivers huge ‘strangers stopping in the street’ style impact. A dab lingers all day, and definitely don’t overdo it, but as such the bottle can perch proudly on a giftees dressing table for ages.
February 14th 2017
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