Having a lip balm close to hand at all times is a must for me, all year through. I can't abide being without a soothing stick when my lips become unexpectedly dry, as I end up concentrating on nothing but the tightness of my pout. Chapstick hold a lot of memories for me, especially the mint and cherry flavours which instantly bring back visions of my school years. All my friends and I used to walk down to the chemist after school and stock up on the little tubes that made us feel glamorous; after all, lip balm was the only thing we were allowed to take to school! Although the brand still have the exact same products available for the next generation, it's great to see them still innovating and launching new variants - such as these Lipsations Shimmer balms.
Over indulging on eggnog and mince pies, partnered with a lack of exercise and sleep, can leave your skin looking a little worse for wear. With over 50 years experience in caring for even the most sensitive skin, Simple products have helped generations of women look and feel beautiful. They use only the purest possible ingredients, including multi-vitamin goodness and skin loving nutrients, to provide gentle yet effective skincare solutions. Their newest range, Kind To Skin+, is more than everyday skincare: it's skincare with a boost of radiance, a touch of perfection and a dash of intense moisture. The range includes delicate eye makeup remover pads (which are super handy for removing makeup in the office bathroom before the Big Night Out,) a light BB Cream, tinted sunkissed moisturiser, an illuminating radiance cream that can be used as a highlighter above or below makeup, and even a couple of handy moisture boosting lotions.
As the temperatures are about to drop below freezing for the first time this year, it's more important than ever to be protecting and re-hydrating your skin. Limbs can take somewhat of a battering with harsh winds stripping the upper layer of moisture, so a rich body butter can become your new best friend. I've been a huge fan of Caudalie over the years, but with these new body lotions they really are truly spoiling us. Using their heritage and inspiration of the French vineyards, their nourishing Vine Body Butter and Body Lotion offer a soothing experience for dry and tight skin with a subtle grape fragrance. The formulas are rich in grape and shea butters, ensuring that they leave skin smooth, supple and deeply nourished - the textures are extremely creamy and melt into the skin with ease. The soothing properties of the formulas make these perfect not only in the winter, but for soothing skin after you've spent time in the sun. The 95% natural ingredients make these a great gift for anyone with a love of natural beauty too, while not scrimping on efficacy.
Sprinkle, sparkle, shimmer and shine. This is definitely the time to get the sequins out, but if you're not quite brave enough to adorn them on your body why not adorn your nails with glitter instead? Models Own have had a cracking year, launching loads of innovative collections and colours that have become staple shades. Not only have they got this super cute glittery triple pack of varnish available for only £8.00, but if you buy any two Models Own products in Boots this Christmas you recieve a 'Glitter Kit' (worth £10.00) absolutely free too! The kit includes a full-size (Boots-exclusive) Dinky Pinky nail polish, premium Models Own glitters in gold and silver, plus a mini 4-way nail buffer - everything you need to create festive, jewel-inspired nails this season. As it's Christmas, I've got a glittery pack of Models Own nail gems up for grabs as part of #LBQAdvent.
I've no doubt I'll be sick of baubles soon enough, but right now I can't get enough of festive collections and glittery good stuff. Illamasqua have unveiled their seasonal makeup collection that sees them taking a rather (refreshingly) unconventional route to Christmas glamour. There are no deep smokey colours here; no sparkling glosses or shimmering blushers. Illamasqua have launched a rather colourful collection of products that will provide more longevity than that glitter eyeliner in midnight blue you'll stash away until the same time next year. Within the collection is an eyeshadow quad, sculpting duo and lipgloss, all providing a hit of colour when the shelves of Boots are awash with the same hues and effects.
Getting a great party hair style starts with using great styling tools. Label.M have teamed up with designer Jean-Pierre Braganza this Christmas to bring you some super snazzy festive gifts, extending their collaboration with London Fashion Week that has seen them sponsor the hair more times than I can remember. This Label.M 'Gift of Volume' set contains their Ceramic Tourmaline hairdryer, as well as a can of their iconic Volume Mousse to ensure your party style has plenty of volume and movement. The dryer is lightweight and benefits from an ergonomic handle with anti slip grip, as well as a powerful motor to help speed up drying time. Not only are there dual speed and heat settings, the dryer features ion technology for a super smooth finish. It's both lightweight and durable, making this a sturdy and practical dryer that makes getting ready for special occasions even easier. On the sixth day of #LBQAdvent, Label.M have kindly given me three of these special sets to offer up to some lucky winners.
If there's one thing that should be in every makeup bag, regardless of age or skin type, then without a doubt it's YSL's iconic Touche Eclat. So much more than just a 'concealer', the little golden pen can be used to highlight dull areas and reflect the light where we need it most. It can be used under the brow arch to excentuate the curve, around the nose to blend away those imperfections that often appear in skin tone, as well as under the chin to blend foundation into the rest of the body and remove any unsightly 'tide' marks. However, its main role is to lift the under eye area and make us look like we've had a full eight hours sleep when we only got in from the Christmas party at 3am. This year the Touche Eclat has had a little makeover; the limited edition 'collector' design is only available this Christmas and is sure to be a sell out.
Beauty boxes continued to be the talk of the town throughout 2013, with new ones launching and others quitting while they were (not so) ahead. However, Latest In Beauty seem to be going from strength to strength and continue to bring us the best from the beauty shelves in a cute box format. Different from the masses because it's not a subscription service, Latest In Beauty have partnered with some fabulous brands (including Estee Lauder and You Magazine) to bring us boxes filled to the brim with products we can actually use. This December they've partnered with glossy magazine Glamour for the second time, bringing Beauty Director Alessandra Steinherr's top picks directly to you. The Glamour Beauty Box contains Eyeko lash curlers, Maybelline Baby Lips, an HD Brows eyebrow palette, Benefit They're Real mascara and loads more. Worth over £65.00, the box is still available to buy for only £14.95! It would make the perfect stocking filler or extra something for a loved one this festive season.
During the festive period it's all to easy to think about eating too many Quality Street and how many presents you'll find stuffed in your stocking. But Christmas is also about giving back to the community and celebrating the great things that people do for others. Boots have teamed up with Macmillan Cancer to bring 'Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisors' to stores across the country, hoping that their expertise can help those currently suffering the side effects of living with cancer. Boots and Macmillan believe every woman has the right to feel good about themselves. A poll by Macmillan Cancer Support showed 81% feel the physical side-effects of their treatment have negatively affected their self esteem; despite this, 64% are unsure of how to disguise them and 73% would welcome beauty advice from a local trained advisor.
Sometimes when beauty trends hit the catwalk it's hard to see how to take them from high fashion to everyday life. When the punk trend hit the shows of Fendi, Gucci and Givenchy earlier this year, I was initially skeptical of how this would translate to the main stream, but there are plenty of ways hints of this bold and dramatic trend can be rolled out for a regular Saturday night, a day in the office or a Sunday afternoon date. Here's how...
A relatively unknown brand in the UK, Apivita has been creating natural effective and holistic products since 1979. After the two founders met at a local Athens pharmacy and discovered their shared passion for nature, the first natural cosmetics company in Greece was born. Using the humble bee as inspiration ('Apivita' means 'life of the bee' in Latin,) the products produced use both the ingredients created by and work ethic inspired by the carefree creature. Now available exclusively in Marks & Spencer beauty departments, Apivita is growing in popularity thanks to their fab formulas and effective results. On the forth day of #LBQAdvent I've managed to get my hands on three of the exclusive 'Body Relax' gift sets which are perfect for a Boxing Day soak. The apothecary-esque bottle designs and creamy formulas make these a great gift for young and old, male or female. So what are you waiting for?
If you’re looking for a mask to keep your skin soft, clean and free of excess oils then look no further than this easy to make Peel Off Parsley Mask. While some DIY masks offer more fun than functionality, this recipe leaves the skin smooth, revived and soothed. The action of peeling the mask off removes dull dead cells that can be missed by a weekly scrub and collect on the surface of the skin, Witch Hazel helps to tone and remove excess oils, while Parsley contains high levels of Vitamin C (much more than citrus fruits,) iron, minerals and essential oils to brighten and calm inflammation. Here's my simple step-by-step guide...
Stuck for that special gift already? Don't want to spend a fortune, but still want to look like you've flashed the cash a little? Brand Alley are the UK's online destination for discounted designer living, providing savings of up to 70% on over 500 of the biggest names in fashion, beauty and home. Everything featured online is available now and shipped in one working day, so it’s perfect when you’ve got something in mind and you need it fast. (Like those Christmas presents you completely forgot about, but remember on the 22nd December!) Brand Alley feature some of my favourite beauty brands at ridiculously low prices, including this Elemis Supreme Glow kit which is worth over £80.00; get it online for nearly half price this December! Because it's day three of #LBQAdvent, I have one of these gift sets up for grabs... Be it a treat for yourself or a much deserved pampering gift for a loved one, a little bit of Elemis will put a smile on any face.
Melvita have been one of my favourite brands throughout 2013, launching and re-launching some really effective products that smell fab too. This Christmas they have a limited edition 'sparkling' collection that includes the L’Or Bio Illuminating Body Cream, exclusively available in John Lewis stores. The lotion nourishes and hydrates, whilst adding a delicate shimmer with natural pearlescent pigments. Created from a unique blend of five precious organic oils, L’Or Bio enhances natural beauty to leave skin beautifully soft; the luxurious body lotion uses Argan oil from Morocco, known for its exceptional skincare properties, combined with regenerating Kendi oil from Indonesia and Inca Inchi oil from Amazonia. The formula is delicately scented with notes of Bergamot, Lemon, Orange, Jasmine, Fig, Cedarwood and Vanilla, making this a truly evocative lotion that's so much more than just a moisturiser. On the second day of #LBQAdvent, I have three tubs of this fabulous product (worth £27.00 each) up for grabs to help your legs shimmer this party season.
Today is now officially known as 'Cyber Monday'. According to analysts, today will see consumers completing the most online transactions ever recorded in a single day - estimations have us collectively blowing over £500 million by the time we all get into bed tonight. (Some of us may even be having a sneaky look while we're in our PJs too.) It's four weeks away from Christmas, we've all been paid and we're looking to do our Christmas shopping online before we forget and have to make do with supermarket-bought gifts at the last minute. Cyber Monday also sees a host of brands offering fabulous discounts and savings that allow you to treat yourself at the same time... Whoop! With the cold weather not going anywhere, it's time for us all to park our pumps once and for all and replace all peep-toes with a subtle sexy shoe boots. Hobbs offer an extensive range of on-trend ankle and knee high boots that make the seasonal transition easier than ever: boots don't have to be boring, and their Cyber Monday inspired discounts (offering up to 50% off some of their most fabulous designs for the next few weeks) make the temptation even easier to give into.
"Christmas time, Mistletoe and Wine. Children singing Christian rhyme. With logs on the fire and gifts on the tree, a time to rejoice in the good that we see..." It's finally time to pop open the mulled wine, stock up on minced pies, put on the Christmas compilation CD and sing along to Cliff Richard during the only weeks of the year it's socially acceptable to do so. It's December! 2013 has been a whirlwind and a life changing year for London Beauty Queen, so I wanted to do something a little different... I've made my own Advent Calendar to say thank you to all of my fabulous readers for another great year in beauty. Every day of December I'll be giving away a fabulous prize to some lucky sods as each 'door' opens to reveal what fab goodies are inside. Today I have a set of the extremely festive Ciate Tree Trinkets that will have your Christmas Tree looking uber swish and the envy of all its Christmas Tree friends.
When you think of George at ASDA, beauty products may not be the first thing that comes to your head. They currently have a growing number of affordable 'own brand' cosmetics to their name which are seldom mentioned on the internet, or by the brand itself. While their face products can be a little hit and miss, the George Quick Dry Nail Varnish is definitely worth sharing for being just as good as leading high street brands - but with a sizeable saving on the purse. With a choice of over 40 colours from nude beige to dark metallic plum and a variety of finishes there’s something to suit every taste, with pinks being in abundance. Although the packaging isn’t fancy, the bottle design makes the brush handle easy to hold, and the brush itself is classically thin and long which means it simply works as it should.
Living in the digital age it’s far too easy to get wrapped up in a busy pace of life, often not leaving yourself time to take a step back and take stock. Often, living in London, I find myself running from work to social events and from work events to social engagements without taking a breath. Recently, in an effort to give my mind and body a rest, I’ve taken up Yoga. Many of those who have found Yoga and developed a love for the practice have an infectious enthusiasm for it – actively encouraging everyone, everywhere to give it a go. While I’m very much an advocate of both the physical and mental benefits of Yoga, I’m fully aware it’s not for everyone. However, I do believe there is something to be gained from giving yourself a regular hour of downtime. We’ve talked about alternative ways to exercise before – but here are some of the best healthy ways to give yourself a break.