Hot on the Highstreet Week 250 – Shopping in Helsinki

Helsinki is known for its design shops, in fact it has a whole district dedicated to them. When I visited I spent hours looking around the carefully curated boutiques, and was pleased to discover that you can spend your hard earned cash on much more than pretty design products and gadgets. Here is a shortlist of my favourite shops in Finland’s fabulous capital.

Iittala glassworks was founded in 1881, a Finnish design brand specialising in design objects, tableware and cookware. The brand is renowned in Helsinki and the beautifully simplistic objects are very versatile being used for a range of uses. I spotted the classic clear objects in many of the restaurants and bars I visited.

Karl Fazer chocolate was launched as a milk chocolate bar in 1922, and has grown in popularity ever since. We were lucky enough to enjoy coffee and cake for breakfast at the main Karl Fazer store in Helsinki one morning of our trip. This institution stocks the very best chocolate in town, and is available in flavours to suit everyone. Today, every second chocolate bar consumed in Finland is Karl Fazer Milk Chocolate.

When I think of fashion in Helsinki it is the Marimekko ‘Unikko’ flower print that comes to mind. This Finnish design company has been renowned for its original prints and colours since 1951, and when I visited the flagship shop I noticed tourists buying in bulk. The company designs and manufactures apparel, bags, clothes and textiles, all with the striking classic patterns. We headed to the outlet store on the outskirts of town to pick up some floral blue fabric to make curtains for our new living room.

It is no secret that I am a stationery addict, and this shop satisfied all my paper cravings. Papershop is stocked full of artistic handmade cards, exciting craft equipment and inventive paper products. I spent a while wandering around admiring all the pretty things.

Salakauppa translates to ‘secret shop’, and housed in bizarre glass cube, it is certainly not your average souvenir store. All of the products in this tiny shop are designed by Aamu Song & Johan Olin of Company and are the result of excursions to very exiting, yet old fashioned, factories around Finland and neighbouring countries. Company’s design is purely based on each factory’s story and function. The items are unique and utterly lovely – I fell in love with the connecting father and son leather satchels.

Hot on the Highstreet Week 244

Fragonard is one of France’s most famous perfumery houses, located in Grasse in the south of France, an area known for its perfume making history. Fragonard makes its products in its own factory, which is one of the most interesting sights in the town of Grasse. Whilst in Provence this weekend I visited the wonderful historic museum and shop, a fragrant homage to the brand.

The house was founded by Eugene Fuchs in 1926 in Grasse. He named the company in honour of the French rococo painter Jean-Honore Fragonard who lived ion the town. Over time there have been hundreds of scents from this old perfume house. The earliest edition was created in 1928 and the newest is from 2015. The nose who worked on the fragrances most recently belongs to Jean Guichard, a true expert in the field.

The Museum offers free entry to all visitors, and is a lovely place to learn about this special company. With magnificent views over the Cote D’Azur and nearby cafes for lunch, Grasse is the perfect Provencal town to spend the day.

You can now buy a range of the Fragonard products at Marks & Spencer, one of the most familiar chains on the British highstreet. I particularly loved the Brioche-scented candle, which would make your home smell like a French bakery!

More information on Fragonard here, and buy the products from M&S here.

Hot on the Highstreet Week 242: Beauty Detox and Replenish

January is a miserable month and our skin and hair can really suffer. I have compiled a selection of my favourite New Year products to detox and replenish so you can feel your best even in the coldest month of the year.

Mary Kay TimeWise Microdermabrasion Set £50 – I have tried Microdermabrasion facials before and always found them quite aggressive on my skin. Mary Kay have introduced this do it at home set which energises and nourishes in two easy steps. The first step should be used after cleansing and will gently exfoliate the skin removing dirt from pores and softening the skin texture. Step 2 is a rich serum containing vitamins and anti-oxidants and left my skin feeling luxuriously smooth and plumped.

Perricone MD Chloro Plasma mask £67 – I swear by the Perricone MD products and this revitalising mask is no exception. This innovative product contains blue green algae and watercress to help deep detoxification and purification. After an application my skin felt tighter and the pores were noticably smaller. It is also a great anti-aging product, reducing wrinkles and leaving skin looking supple and smooth. The perfect treatment to use on a Sunday evening in.

Thalgo Les Infus’Oceanes Bio Drainage £7.30 – Sometimes it is a great idea to supplement skincare with other dietary products. This detox infusion helps stimulate the body to release excess water. After Christmas it is the ideal drink to make you feel lighter and brighter. I tried the blackcurrent flavour but it is also available in other fruits.

Mary Kay Skinvigorate Cleansing Brush £35 – I found this handheld, battery-operated cleansing device quite comical when I first used it as I am not used to electrical skincare products. After removing eye make-up apply the cleanser and turn on the Skinvigorate slowly massaging the brush over your face in a circular motion. It is easy to use and truly removes make-up and dirt better than washing by hand, though it is quite an expensive alternative to a flannel. This product made my skin look more radiant immediately and the results continue as you use it repeatedly.

Murad Essential-C Day Moisture £57 – I struggle to find a moisturiser that is rich without clogging my skin. After the stress of moving house this product soothed and relieved my skin leaving it soft and silky, miraculously hydrating after just a few uses. And as an added bonus this product gives SPF 30 protection so will protect your face against the harsh pollution in London.

Yes to Grapefruit 25 Brightening Facial Wipes £3.99 – these are the perfect on-the-go wipes to cleanse and refresh. They are slightly textured so remove excess dirt and remnants of make-up and leave your skin completely clear. Made from 98% natural products and packed full of healthy grapefruit your face will be thankful for the zingy citrus burst.