Since super WAG Victoria Beckham stepped out with hair extensions all those years ago, the world has gone a little doolally for super long and healthy-looking hair. Although bobs, choppy shoulder-length hair and retro pixie cuts are definitely hot right now, there's something a little special about long flowing hair that appeals to our inner barbie princess. I've never been able to grow my hair long, it breaking off or looking tatty before it gets to a reasonable length - I just don't have the patience to stick with it or let my hair look rubbish for six months while it grows out. I dabbled with hair extensions about 18 months ago ahead of a particularly busy wedding season and had a mixed experience; this time around I've opted for a much lighter and less damaging version that's also a lot more reasonably priced. (Read my experience with Kapello here.) However, there are still lots of things you need to think about before you take the plunge and attach a load of someone else's hair to your head... Here are five things I would seriously consider before getting hair extensions.
If there's one thing that's well-known about the much loved but secretive and mysterious Karl Lagerfeld, it's that he totally and utterly adores his pet feline Choupette. So famous has this fluffy white cat become that it not only has its own loyal fanbase, Twitter account and suite in Karl's apartment, but now her own collaboration with makeup master Shu Uemura. Launching just in time for the festive season, the collection is inspired by Paris and the fluffy pampered feline's own perfect cat-eye look. Apparently the King of Fashion actually sketches with Shu Uemura cosmetics (who knows why he doesn't just use an HB pencil,) so this makes it a 'natural collaboration' - especially as the range is adorned with Karl's very own sketch of Choupette.
If there's one thing I hear more than others when it comes to blogger complaints and mini moans, it's that unless you're in London based it's incredibly hard to become a successful blogger and focus on building those all-important brand relationships. It seems to be a sore point with many that the majority of launches, events and networking opportunities are in the capital city; although a huge number of bloggers are based there, a huge proportion live much father afield and simply can't get into London on a weekly basis. I lived in London for over six years and moved out to Buckinghamshire in 2013, back to be closer to friends and family while living in an apartment that was big enough for all my junk and didn't smell like damp. (That's incredibly hard to find in London.) Despite my blog's name, I'm no longer actually based in London and I don't feel I'm at a disadvantage for not being able to hop on a tube at ten minutes notice. Although the shiny lights and daily socialisation of the big city can be appealing, when it comes to the crunch you really don't need to be within walking distance of Oxford Street to be successful.
There's something about Urban Decay eyeshadows; they're super soft, blendable, workable, pigmented, easy to build and exceptionally long-lasting. If there's one palette I always reach to come a big occasion, night out or morning when I need to look my best, then it's undoubtedly an Urban Decay number. Although their Naked palettes are exceptional and provide an array of nude shades that can be build up to create understated looks or striking smokey eyes, I personally prefer a bit more colour I can play with. Although I adore the Naked Basics for the daytime, I need something a bit stronger and with a little more glitter come the evening. Their latest launch is hitting stores just in time for Christmas, when we all become a little more adventurous and push the boundaries of our normal routine. The 'Vice 3' eyeshadow palette contains twenty different shades for practically every occasion, including various tones and textures - it's essentially the only eyeshadow palette you'll ever need.
Diwali, a yearly five-day Hindu festival of lights, takes place this week in celebration of the victory of good, virtue of wisdom and anticipation of hope. Inspired by this illuminating and inspiring tradition, Rituals have introduced their new Diwali Winter collection which is designed to light up and 'purify body and mind with the mesmerising fragrance of Indian spices.' I love to see something different on the high street, especially when it celebrates different cultures and inspirations; Rituals have an incredible story and are inspired by so many different scents and spices, making this a natural progression for the brand. The collection includes a 'Diwali Delight' foaming shower foam (One of Rituals' most iconic products,) that offers the scent of patchouli and cardamom for an awakening and energising morning experience. I love the lightness and the opulent texture the foam provides, ensuring a rich experience that leaves your body feeling pampered.
A wise woman once told me "don't save that sh*t for best." What's the point in waiting for the magical day that never comes? I'm an absolute sucker for an expensive perfume, eye-wateringly priced candle and luxurious face mask that claims to leave me with the skin of Cara Delevigne, but I also have a habit of keeping all the posh jars and extravagant scents for a special occasion. When I do get the odd evening alone, the first thing I do is run a bath and cover myself from head-to-toe in luxurious treatments before slipping into a steaming hot tub topped up with bath oil that costs as much as a small car. There's something about luxurious products that makes every experience feel all the more special, and we're mostly happy to pay a premium for it. However, leaving that bottle of bath foam your best mate gave you last Christmas sitting on the windowsill (waiting for the perfect excuse to unscrew it,) neither satisfies you nor the bath foam. Here's why you should scrap saving things for a rainy day and start using those special lotions and potions right now...
Avon are a brand that I've always had a bit of a soft spot for. My Nan always used to hand me the ear-marked brochure whenever I went round for a cup of tea, allowing me to to choose whatever I wanted; in my early twenties I became a local rep, but spent most of my commission buying stockpiles of cosmetics I probably didn't need. Back then it was an affordable secret that you wouldn't necessarily tell your mates about, but in 2014 it's definitely a brand making waves and ensuring they're reaching out to the modern customer. Their newest collection is so far from the Avon that I'm familiar with that you wouldn't guess in a million years they were behind it; 'Luxe' is a rose gold packaged collection that's all about a little bit of luxury and smouldering smokey eyes.
I'm forever struggling with storage space for all my fabulous makeup and beauty products, continually buying more units or transferring items from one basket to the next. However, a quick search of Pinterest shows there are so many easy, innovative and cost effective ways of storing your products - that also look fab! I've got a few of these systems in place myself, but others I can't wait to implement. If you want to have a look at all the fab ideas I've found, take a peek at my Pinterest board, but for now here are my top five favourites!
There's something in the water at The Body Shop: they keep developing innovative, unique and surprising products that leave me wanting more. This Christmas there's something a little bit special hitting stores that will no doubt become a best selling stocking-filler. This lip and cheek stain comes packaged in the most adorable pot inspired by Japanese culture (I'm sure it's a little more specific than that, so forgive me for my ignorance!) and is sure to be a must-have for all beauty fanatics. The doll-like base unit even includes a top-knot style lid that features a precision foam applicator, while the lightweight formula inside can be used as both a cheek and lip stain to add a touch of colour to any complexion.
When it comes to lip balms, we're all secretly addicted. It's the one product we don't feel guilty about buying because it's filed under 'essential' rather than 'lust-worthy', more than justifying a few cheeky purchases. I've been a big fan of the cult EOs balms for some time, but they can be incredibly difficult to get hold of in the UK and will set you back a small fortune. I'd been seeing Balmi lip balms popping up in Topshop stores over the last few months and wondered if there was more similarity to the EOs classics than just the packaging; I was definitely pleasantly surprised.
As a beauty obsessive that has more makeup than Boots and Selfridges combined, storage and organisation is always somewhat of an issue. I like to be able to see what I have on offer, know exactly where to reach and be safe in the knowledge that I don't have something lurking round the back that I should've used up nine months ago. If you live out of overflowing makeup bags, cardboard boxes of nail varnish and piles of skincare dotted around your bathroom, then you may want to have a read of my top tips for organising your beauty products effectively.
The iconic Witch Blemish Stick has been a skin saving spot treatment since 1966 - getting your mother and her mother before her through some tricky situations. I was addicted to these little sticks of witch hazel as a teen, smelling like a walking Witch Stick from the ages of 13 to 15 inclusive; it was the one product I couldn't live without and helped me to reduce the size of stubborn pimples on a daily basis. Many years on and the iconic stick has undergone a bit of a makeover; in order to support the work of Marie Curie, the Witch Stick has been given a limited edition design that incorporates the charity's main colour and logo and Witch have committed to provide a £10,000 donation. The floral design is really quite pretty and brings the product bang up to date, making it relevant to every teen today while doing a little good for charidee.
I think nearly every one of us has some long-standing association with The Body Shop's 'Musk' scent - whether it was the first perfume you discovered, the fragrance that reminds you of your mother, or even the overwhelming scent that filled the girl's changing room at school. There have been a few reincarnations since its launch in 1981, but this Autumn a complete game changer is hitting the shelves. The new 'Red Musk' fragrance provides a very different approach and is something completely new for The Body Shop; it contains no flowers or floral scents, only a smouldering blend of spiced musk with hot notes of cinnamon, pepper and tobacco.
The trend for sulphate-free shampoos isn't going anywhere, with more and more brands ditching the foaming ingredients in favour of a gentler alternative. Many try to stay away from them as much as possible, as the detergents (also used in washing-up liquid and laundry powder) can be incredibly irritating for sensitive scalps. Sulphates are also hugely stripping on the hair, removing not only the grease and dirt we'd like to be rid of, but the goodness and natural oils that help to leave hair looking and feeling healthy. As someone that's just had hair extensions fitted, one of the main recommendations is to use sulphate-free shampoos and conditioners to maintain the quality of the hair and to prevent them becoming dry, brittle and dull. Although there are loads of suitable shampoos available, these three have been my personal favourites over the last few weeks - all providing a subtle lather, beautiful scent and silky smooth feeling.
I work incredibly hard on this site: it's my full time job, my income source, my pride and joy. I spend hours taking photos, testing products, coming up with exciting and innovative angles that will really engage and inspire my readers. A lot of people trust my opinion, brands love to be featured and a lot of companies are more than happy to pay for collaborative work - because they understand the value it brings. However, the last few months have seen a resurgence of the one thing that drives me crazy and questions whether or not we've actually moved on from the outreach strategy of 2010: blogging competitions. Essentially, being asked to write about something in the hope of winning a prize of varying value and relevance has become an incredibly lazy and ineffective way for brands and PRs to generate coverage and establish conversation with bloggers. We all like to win things, be treated to money can't buy experiences and flown to exotic locations, but if there's little in it for us than giving away valuable space on a site for a slim possibility of seeing a return, then why on earth would we participate?