FYI, This Is How Much Work Goes Into Writing ONE Single Product Review

This April marks the fifth anniversary of LBQ; within these last five years I've seen a huge amount of change in the blogging world, as well as a huge transformation in the way brands deal with influencial sites they know could have an impact on sales. I'm lucky enough to work with the majority of well-known brands in the UK and have a vast stash of beauty things to review, feature and build conversation around; however, this is sometimes trickier than you may imagine to juggle. Over the last few weeks I've had endless approaches from brands that simply lack the understanding of how a blogger works: from the purpose of a blog (to provide an honest and in-depth personal perspective,) to the amount of time it takes to try a product effectively (anything from a day to a few months,) and even how much free value is generated from one single piece of content (reaching thousands of engaged women waiting to spend their hard earned cash.) Being offered a 'free' product in exchange for a feature comes with its own set of conditions and commitments, making it far from 'free' for the blogger intending to review it - time has value and should be respected as such. Although everything featured on LBQ is there for a reason and has been handpicked because I genuinely love it/want to share it/think you'll be interested in it, it's also vital for brands and businesses to understand that blogging isn't as simple as it looks.


Models Own 'Icing' Collection: Like A Fondant Fancy For Your Nails

Pastels for spring? Groundbreaking. (A little Miranda Priestly inspo to kick of a sunny morning.) However, it's the execution of said pastels that means a collection either fades into the background, or stands out as a new season must-have. Models Own's newest collection is definitely the latter, thanks to the delicate frosted bottles that hold some incredibly delicious shades; it's no surprise these have been inspired by fondant fancies, iced treats and perfectly decorated cupcakes, because all five are somewhat delicious. Including five wearable shades, these provide a slightly new take on pastel by providing glossy tones that look beautiful when applied on the nail.


Burberry Kisses: Effortless Lip Colour With A Touch Of Shine

Out of all the luxury fashion brands turning their hand to makeup, Burberry continually intrigues and excites me the most. It may be their heavyweight lust-worthy packaging, the on-trend shades or the delicate embossing on everything from lipstick to eyeshadow, but they make buying makeup a treat rather than a chore. These new Burberry Kisses lipsticks provide an 'effortless buildable lip colour' that's designed to give multiple lip looks with just one shade, thanks to the customiseable result and lightweight gel-like formula. If you've always wanted to treat yourself to an elegant bullet of colour, but didn't want to feel overwhelmed with a heavy texture, then this could be for you.


Radiance In A Bottle? Pixi Glow Mist: Your New Springtime Essential

Radiance mists, uplifting spritzes and refreshing sprays have long been available in the UK, but they're definitely having a moment and finally getting the attention they deserve. I've long loved a spritz of something refreshing, cooling and uplifting in the summer, but thanks to the new technology and delivery systems developed mists are more advanced and multifunctional than ever before - making them great all year round. Pixi is well known for their Glow Tonic, one of the most iconic and in-demand products amongst the beauty blogging community, but this Glow Mist is a welcomed extension that takes skincare a little bit further. The lightweight and deliciously scented mist can be used in three ways to ensure skin and makeup is looking fabulous all day long: under makeup, after makeup or on-the-go for a little pick-me-up. 


Beauty Hacks: Five Uses For Deodorant You’ll Never Have Thought Of

Whether you're a fan of sprays, gels, solids or creams, deodorant is something that sits in our bathrooms ready to perform its duty with little-to-no attention paid to it. Developed to help reduce perspiration and protect our underarms from ponging, it's one of those products we rely on but don't often spend a second thought on - until it doesn't work properly. Did you know that the qualities of deodorant also make it great for tonnes of other functions, providing you with a helping hand and a right hand man when you need it most? Here are five uses for your deodorant supply you may never have thought of.


"Vlogging Is Nonsense. Writing About Makeup Is Not A Career."

These are the words of none other than troll-baiter herself Katie Hopkins. After a stint in the Big Brother house showing a slightly kinder and more relatable side, within two minutes of stepping outside of the house boundaries she'd returned to her former snake-tongued self. Katie was recently on a panel alongside two bloggers and a journalist, discussing the growth of the bloggersphere and whether or not our generation is unrealistic in their expectations of fame and fortune. Can blogging really be a serious career, or are we all vacuous and delusional lipstick lovers that should just zip it and get a 'real' job? Nothing frustrates me more than the perception that blogging can never be a serious career move, that this new generation of influencers and businesswomen is just blagging their way through until the bubble has burst. The world is changing and it's about time people outside our bloggersphere stood up and took notice.


Burning Question: Can You Return Unwanted Or Mismatched Makeup?

I was fortunately born with the gift of the gab. While friends can barely manage a tutt or grumble over a cold coffee, I'm the first one up complaining to the barista and politely demanding a replacement - with a free muffin on the side for the inconvenience. Us Brits are generally incompetent at voicing our dissatisfaction, querying customer service or requesting a refund for a faulty product; often the need to 'not make a scene' far outweighs or need for our money back, which frequently leaves us out of pocket and grumbling all the way to next Tuesday. I was frequently embarrassed by my mother growing up, watching her campaign for something she believed in (be it reducing the hedge height on top of a roundabout or extending the pavement by the school gates.) She carried around petitions more often than she carried tissues in her handbag, which taught me to stand up for myself and pipe up when something is not quite right: if you pay money for a product and it doesn’t work how it should, then you’re entitled to a replacement or refund. Although as a nation we're much more likely to put up with it than return it, you may be surprised to know it is possible to return unwanted or mismatched makeup.


L'Occitane Ultra Soft Beauty Balm: A Sweet Smelling Charity Initiative

Each year L'Occitane launch a product to pay tribute to the women of Burkina Faso (the African region where Shea Butter was discovered over 30 years ago) and to mark International Women's Day on March 8th. In 2015 it's the turn of a new Ultra Soft Balm, which contains 96% Shea Butter sourced directly from the region. This incredibly lightweight and nourishing balm offers hydration and comfort for chapped lips, dry skin and unsightly cuticles - among other things - as well as containing beeswax, sunflower oil and Vitamin E. The great news is that 100% of the profits made from this multitasking tin will be used to support projects and the economic emancipation of women in the Burkina Faso area, so you can look fab and know you're doing good for others too.


YSL Luxurious Mascara: Raise The Volume, Live The Legend (Sponsored)

A few years ago YSL may have been perceived as irrelevant and unrelatable by many, thanks to their luxurious gold packaging and focus on Parisienne chic. However, girl of the moment Cara Delevigne has injected a huge hit of effortless cool into the brand that produces so many fabulous makeup wonders - all of which hold a firm place within my beauty repertoire. She's the perfect embodiment of a slightly rockier YSL, ensuring every woman can lust after a piece of the brand without feeling the need to perfect that ladylike poise. This spring sees the re-launch of another must-have, YSL Luxurious Mascara, and Cara is the face of the campaign; as she dances around to the tune of a classic rock song, it's easy to feel inspired.

Bobbi Brown Art Sticks: My Current Makeup Must-Have

Sometimes a product is launched and you think it's ok, an average addition to the beauty world, only to find a year later that you finally discover how fabulous it really is. This describes my relationship with the Bobbi Brown 'Art Sticks' perfectly: although they've been on my radar for some time, only recently (thanks to the launch of more wearable and fun colours) have I started using them regularly and appreciating their uniqueness. The 'Art Sticks' were designed to transition between a lip liner and lipstick, providing wearable shades in a comfortable texture that offered precision and longevity. There's nothing else quite like them available, offering the best of a lip liner and lipstick with added comfort; these make wearing bold tones and strong colours as easy as pie.


Beauty Dilemma: Can A Dupe Ever Be As Good As The Original?

The blogging world is full of money saving recommendations, affordable dupes and indirect copies of some of our most loved premium makeup products. The best thing about being so close to the action and having so many wonderful things land on my desk is that I can easily spot a dupe, an affordable alternative or products that provide the same benefit for a fraction of the cost; there's something somewhat satisfying about telling the world they can grab an on-trend shade or product that offers an almost indistinguishable difference for a lot less cash. However, in a world that's currently obsessed with budget buys and more affordable alternatives, can a dupe ever be good as the original? Is it worth splurging on something that can be treasured, or does spending wisely mean our makeup bags will thank us in the long-term?


Got2B Mind Blowing: Schwarzkopf Fast-Drying Styling Tools

Fundamentally, I'm a lazy cow. If I can get away with ten more minutes in bed then I'll do anything in my power to reclaim that time; if there's a product that helps to speed up the time required to beautify myself in the morning, I'm gonna use it with pleasure. This Schwarzkopf Got2B Mind Blowing trio came to my attention some time ago and looked like a dream come true: a styling spray, hair spray and mousse that dry super fast and leave your hair feeling perfectly coiffed? Packaged in delightful statement turquoise bottles, these are affordable tools that help to style hair every morning with ease - leaving your barnet feeling fabulous, without any stickiness.


Fillume: The Latest Addition To The Indeed Labs Skincare Family

I can remember the first ever Indeed Labs launch which set the beauty world alight. 'Nanoblur' was a love-it-or-loathe it product, but it certainly set off a trend and offered up a new kind of 'skincare-slash-makeup' that was set to become big news. Fast forward a few years and Indeed Labs seem to be continually knocking it out of the park and offering up skincare products with a bit more of a cosmetic benefit than you'll find in a usual tub of Nivea. The latest addition to the family is 'Fillume', a 'volumising' moisturiser which offers up a combination of clinically proven ingredients designed to help target the appearance of subtle facial volume loss that occurs with age.


Get The Look: Jennifer Lawrence in 'Serena' (A 1920's Glamour Goddess)

Hollywood starlet Jennifer Lawrence is definitely having a pretty fabulous few years, scooping endless awards and featuring in some of the world's most successful franchises before she's even hit her 25th birthday. Today sees the release of another epic movie on DVD, where she reunites with her Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle partner-in-crime Bradley Cooper. 'Serena' sees the Oscar winning actress in yet another powerful lead role, with this beautiful and intense drama set in the North Carolina mountains at the end of the 1920s. This is a classic period for beauty and makeup, that's instantly recogniseable and far easier to create than you may imagine. In celebration of the film's release, I'm going to show you how to channel your own inner 1920's glamour goddess while bringing it right up-to-date for 2015.


Why 'My Little Box' Is Still Killing It (The Best Subscription Box By Far)

Beauty boxes had their moment a few years ago, when we were all overwhelmed by the introduction of a new concept that delivered makeup and skincare directly to our door. However, as with anything, as fast as they grew in popularity they quickly went out of favour; dissatisfaction left a bitter taste in many mouths and subscriptions were cancelled across the country. Beauty boxes got a bad name and it became incredibly difficult to shift them month-on-month without the promise of incredible value or something rather special... That was until My Little Box landed in the UK and shook everything up once again. I was introduced to this new take on a subscription box over a year ago, after meeting some of the Parisian team in a central London hotel; instantly I knew there was something exciting and different about their concept. Since it's launch, My Little Box has been growing in popularity thanks to the sheer brilliance of what they put inside - this is no normal 'beauty box', but a box full of things to be treasured and enjoyed.


The Three Cleansers That Are Currently On My Bathroom Shelf

One of the most satisfying parts of my day is standing in the bathroom, pumping myself a handful of cleanser and massaging it all over my face. There's something quite cathartic about washing away the day's build-up, removing the film of makeup and residue from the surface of your skin to reveal the squishy and clean-feeling stuff underneath. Although you may think a good cleanser is easy to come by, many of them just aren't as hard wearing or effective as I need them to be - while still offering a gentle and comfortable cleanse. So many still leave a huge amount of grime on my face that requires triple-cleansing, while others just won't budge my stubborn mascara; many cleansers strip the skin of goodness and leave it feeling tight, or simply are full of nasty ingredients that won't help your complexion glow any time soon. It's for this reason that a place on my bathroom shelf is somewhat of an award in itself; only the true greats stick around for longer than a couple of days. These three are my current favourites and will be staying put until the very last drop.... And here's why.


NEW Ciate Nail Treatment Collection: A Workout For Your Nails

It's easy to get distracted by pretty polishes, rainbows of colour and textures that make our nails feel all bumpy, when we really should be looking after what's going on underneath. Nail treatments and pampering products have always been a passion point of mine, as I continually hunt for the magical formulas that will turn my weak and brittle nails into something worthy of a hand model. Ciate may be incredibly well known for their innovative collections and ability to push the boundaries no matter what they do, but this spring sees the launch of a treatment range that aims to give your nails a bit of a workout. Ciate’s new and improved offering contains powerful botanical extracts, exotic oils and advanced vitamin complex’s to achieve complete nail satisfaction.


The Most Optimistically Named Mascara Ever? Too Faced 'Better Than Sex'

Any product that pushes the boundaries of what's acceptable on the high street gets my vote, but claiming your mascara is 'better than sex' may just be a step too far. They could've called it 'better than cupcakes' or 'better than fluffy slippers.' Why they didn't opt for 'better than a Sunday morning eating pancakes while watching Hollyoaks,' is beyond me - but we're stuck with a product I'd be embarrassed to apply in front of my Nan. The 'Better Than Sex' mascara wand has been designed specifically to replicate the hourglass figure of an iconic 'silver screen Blonde Bombshell' (my money is on Marilyn,) after Too Faced apparently discovered this bust-waist-hip silhouette held the secret to the perfect application. Most other brands would spend their time in a lab, sculpting different brush shapes and working out how to manipulate lashes, but Too Faced have taken quite an unconventional approach with a much better story. So, has it paid off?


NEW Philosophy Renewed Hope In A Jar: Target Those First Signs Of Ageing

Philosophy are a brand I naturally associate with delicious fragrances and uplifting bubble baths, not with serious skincare. This spring seas the re-launch of an iconic skincare duo that has been reformulated to specifically target the first signs of ageing; Hope In A Jar was originally launched in 1996 and revolutionized the moisturiser market with a whipped texture that turned to water upon impact with the skin. The new incarnation, Renewed Hope In A Jar, takes the formulation to a whole new level in 2015 and has been specifically developed to address those primary signs of change that remind us of the passing years. The 'whipped, sorbet-like' texture is oil-free and suitable for all skin types, helping to 'boost' the skin's natural renewal process and provide continuous action throughout the day.


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