Is Your Hair Ageing You?


Is Your Hair Ageing You? – By Lisa Armstrong


  • It’s rare that I find a hair-care range that makes a dramatic difference, but Ameliorate’s just-launched Clarifying Shampoo (£16) and Soothing Conditioner (£18) are the business. I’ve never come across any hair cleanser that makes my hair feel as smooth or nourished without the use of any heavy silicones.

    That’s a big deal on Planet Hair. You can have the most talented snippers in the world on speed dial, but if you’ve fallen foul of filament follicles, there isn’t a hairdo in the world that can save you from the ageing hair. Read More…

GOW – Anti-Aging MultiPeptide Serum

The peptides you need for youthful, glowing skin – by Lisa Armstrong

  • Gow Anti-aging Multipeptide Serum

    ‘Peptide’ has become a major buzz-word in beauty circles. They’re in everything all of a sudden: eye creams, day creams, night creams, haircare… So what the heck are they?

    The simple answer – that’s what we do on this page, in reaction to the beauty industry, which likes to make things very, very complicated – is that they’re compounds made up of amino acids.

    Amino acids are protein builders, and when it comes to our skin, the loveliest protein is collagen – the stuff that keeps everything plump and dewy. The good news is that the body makes its own collagen. The bad is that, as we get older/more grown-up – guess what? – collagen production slows down.

    Enter the peptide, which is a protein builder par excellence. ‘Certain peptides,’ says Shabir Daya, the pharmacologist and co-founder of, ‘may help slow down the degeneration of collagen. Others may actually boost it.’ Read More…

Power of One – Neurophroline Serum

The miracle £18 serum that promises to streamline your skincare regime – by Lisa Armstrong

  • Garden of Wisdom Neurophroline Serum

    Sometimes the hardest part about taking care of your skin is knowing where to start. Peptides this, acids that, peels the other. (Actually, forget peels. Unless you have severe acne or other kinds of scarring, you don’t need them, although plenty of others would argue in favour. I say, look at their skin and if you like what you see, go ahead.)

    Where was I? Oh yes: keep it simple. Cleanse and moisturise is the measure of it. I throw in a hyaluronic acid, because it’s the biggest moisture-booster since, well, water; and then an oil in the middle, because I absolutely love the feeling of a good organic one and the way it visibly plumps skin. It also provides essential lubrication for some facial massage, with a jade or rose-quartz stone, which makes a difference psychologically and physically.

    But since starting this column I’ve also had to get to grips with serums. You apply them straight after cleansing and before anything else – lightest potions first is the general rule.
    Read More…

These Shoes Might Be Boring, But They’re The Latest Cult A-list Buy


I might as well state the obvious. This is not a pretty shoe. But revolutions often start from the feet up, so why should a shift in the way we think about beauty, comfort, fashion (the three are not always synonymous) and the wider impact of what we wear, be any different?

Shoes have always been a harbinger of change. Imagine dodging the sewage of Paris in January in bare feet. If you were lucky, you might share some clogs with your 13 siblings, but really, that’s not the basis of an egalitarian society, is it? Et voila, the French Revolution.

Cherchez la shoe. Charles I’s inability to get to grips with this fundamental truth meant he took to wearing pom-pom bedecked mules.

Not a good look as far as parliament was concerned and he ended up on the scaffold. Louis XIV teetering around in heels subsequently named after him was another symbol of decadence – and a dynastic disaster waiting to happen. And so it continues, throughout history.

Upper class Chinese women in children’s sized shoes that only fitted because their feet had been bound (an innocuous word for bloody and bone-breaking mutilation) were a sure sign that sooner or later, several hundred million would rise up in irritation, if not nihilistic rage, ready to avenge their sex.

The shoe is deeply symbolic of all kinds of subconscious ferment. When Fragonard wished to portray wantonness he didn’t paint another topless lovely but a mischievous young woman bouncing around on a swing, one shoe flying off a dainty extended foot in the direction of a lascivious looking older man.

Perhaps even more than the sex, fetishes and socio economics, what’s really odd about shoes, is how uncomfortable so many still are, and how, a century after we unlaced our corsets, so many of us have been prepared to tolerate shoes that are downright painful.

“Shoes seemed the ideal place for us to tackle everything we wanted to change,” says Tim Brown, a former national soccer player in New Zealand, alumnus of the London School of Economics and co-founder of Allbirds, makers of something that is part sneaker, part jazz-shoe, part old-man slipper, but not really like anything you’ve seen before. The upper is made from top grade merino mule from New Zealand and Australia (from sheep that haven’t been mulesed) and milled in Italy (and also sourced by Tom Ford for his suits). The sole contains sugar cane derivatives and, unlike other casual footwear, no petrochemicals. The laces are recycled plastic. Brown is particularly proud of this because even though it squeezed their margins and everyone told them they were mad to insist on it, they did. Will the finished shoe, designed by an ex-Tom Dixon product designer, give Manolo Blahnik sleepless nights? Possibly not, despite being tweaked 27 times. But it’s oddly engaging.

This is precisely where Brown and American co-founder Joey Zwillinger, an engineer and renewables expert, were aiming. As a national soccer player, Brown had been showered with product from his sponsors Nike and adidas. “Nothing wrong with their product but their business model is predicated on constant change and bigger and bigger logos,” he says. “There’s a general assumption in leisure wear that progress is about adding stuff, when often it should be about subtraction.” Brown and Zwillinger were intent on doing something that looked simple (they call it “the right amount of nothing”) and challenging the prevailing mindset that comfort was “somehow a dirty word, something only old people are bothered about”. Their desire to be as sustainable as possible inevitably turned this into the most complex project of their lives. “It’s mad isn’t it,” muses Brown, “we can put people on the moon but we still haven’t come up with a shoe that, at the end of its life, you can bury in the garden?”

Allbirds aren’t quite there yet either, but they’re much further down the path than most of the other shoe brands.

I first came eye to eye with a pair when my Kiwi sister arrived in London last summer in a pale grey style she referred to as “runners” (I let it pass; she’s gone native). She only ever took them off to sleep or chuck in the washing machine (she says the spin cycle improves the shape, as it does baggy denim and, according to Brown, she’s right). They were perfect for a heatwave, since merino naturally wicks away moisture and is soft enough to wear without socks.

By the time she left, I wanted my own, as well as to feature them on these pages, but back in June, Allbirds weren’t shipping to the UK.

Four months later, they’re not only shipping, they’ve just opened their first store in Covent Garden, spiritual home of hip brands that look like start-ups. Allbirds is still a baby, having launched just over two years ago. But by word of foot, they’ve become a cult. Oprah, Gwyneth, Emma Watson, Cindy Crawford and Randy Gerber, Amy Adams, Barack Obama (and my sister) are fans. Leonardo DiCaprio was so impressed, he invested in the company.

They recently sold their millionth pair of runners (a term Brown’s wife also takes issue with, since, as she legitimately points out, they were not designed for running, although in fairness they also have loungers and skippers). Having just secured a further £38 million of investment, the company is now valued at a billion dollars. High stakes for something that chimes with many fashionable themes that might, as is the way with fashion, prove ephemeral. “I wouldn’t want to speculate too much on trends,” says Brown. “All I know is that 40 years ago my dad would come home from the office, switch off and change out of his suit into something more comfortable.

“Now, with the demarcation between work and leisure increasingly blurred, casual, comfortable clothing seems less like a fad and more a fact of life.”

GOW – Causing A Frenzy

Lisa Armstrong: The word-of-mouth affordable beauty brand causing a frenzy in the industry


  • GOW Niacinamide

    Remember how excited we all got over science-savvy, budget-friendly The Ordinary? Well, Garden of Wisdom – or GOW as its blossoming herbaceous borders of fans have taken to calling it – is generating the same buzz.

    Like The Ordinary, GOW presents as honest value for money. We’re talking basic packaging and zero marketing. Each product has been formulated with just a few ingredients so that customers can build up an arsenal of potions to target their specific needs, rather than overloading with creams that keep replicating each other’s functions.

    It’s selling purely via word of mouth, which is working a treat because the products do their job without any fuss or silicones and without being tested on animals. Try the 100% Organic Cold-pressed Argan Oil, excellent for softening and protecting all skin types, the Vitamin C 23% Serum + Ferulic Acid, and the bestselling Niacinamide Serum, which regulates oil production, soothes and calms breakouts and encourages the body’s own collagen production. Many products have the ingredients’ strength on the front, the idea being that customers can make informed choices without being given silly promises. And they’re lovely to use, with pleasing textures. I particularly like the Hyaluronic Acid Serum, which is non-sticky and effective.
    Read More…

How To Beat Adult Acne

Lisa Armstrong: How to beat adult acne with this £9 super-serum


  • GOW Niacinamide

    Truly, the Lord giveth and taketh away. On the credit side, She has endowed women with the wherewithal to look better for longer and longer. But She has also promulgated widespread outbreaks of what is euphemistically called adult-onset acne (or as it referred to in common parlance, ‘Seriously?!’)

    Ironically, sometimes the very tools we use to boost our wellbeing are the culprits in the Great Zit Disaster. Too little oestrogen and too much testosterone can disrupt service, leading to eruptions more akin to cysts or boils than normal pimples. Adjusting your levels can result in immediate improvements – checking your HRT/bio-identical hormone or Pill prescription should be your first step.

    And then generally easing up. No squeezing – it’s not just the potential scarring, but the chain reaction beneath the skin that’s counterproductive…

    What Your Skin Says About you Read More…