31.5.13

Bare Minerals: NEW Moxie Lipstick

It's incredible how one slick of lipstick can lift you up and change an outfit. The power of a pigmented bullet of wax is almost comparable to a personal shopper - it makes you look at things differently and try out combinations you wouldn't normally dare to dream of. Bare Minerals are a brand that, until recently, preferred to remain cautionary when it came to the colour palette - considering they're well established for their seamless-looking foundations, you can understand why. With the launch of their new 'Moxie' lipsticks, lipglosses and lip liners, they're dipping their toe into a more colourful pond, to the rapturous applause of cosmetic lovers across the world. 


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30.5.13

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration: Sun Lotion and After Sun

Sun cream is an absolute must-have, but the majority of brands don't make it an easy product to love. Sticky formulas, thick creamy messes, heavy chemically-prepared scents... It's no wonder that applying sunscreen becomes a chore that so many of us still avoid. (If you missed my previous post on the importance of suncream, read it here - and then start applying it!) Hawaiian Tropic may be synonymous with tanning oils (which I would never recommend,) but with the launch of Silk Hydration they have a rather lovely range to offer sun lovers that doesn't put skin health at risk. Their unique ribbon technology features in both the sun lotion and aftersun, providing the wearer with up to 12 hours of hydration once it's applied.


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29.5.13

LBQ Brand Focus #2: ARK Skincare

The world of skincare can be a confusing one. With so many things to choose from, so many considerations and a world of complicated claims, there's no wonder that the majority of people end up using the completely the wrong products. ARK Skincare are a brand that try to make those decisions as simple as possible, classifying their products into Age Prepare, Age Maintain and Age Repair. Starting as a salon brand that aimed to provide every customer with a luxury experience, but a realistic price point, ARK Skincare was born in 2009 after four years of research and development. The result is a range with simple promises, simple packaging, simple formulas and a simple principle - that you should look after your skin depending upon your skin age, rather than skin type. As we age our skin requires different amounts of support, so the ARK Angels (yes, they're actually called that) can provide prescriptive advice that will really help you get the most out of the products. The formulas themselves contain the most effective and specialist ingredients in the highest concentrations, ensuring that every product really does provide what you need at the point that you need it. Although I don't have any exceptional concerns at the moment, it's great to know I can start investing in a brand that will stay with me (and with my skin) until I'm old and grey. Right now I'm really loving their body moisturiser, as it provides the perfect amount of hydration without any residue on the skin; it absorbs quickly and doesn't have an intense scent that could potentially irritate sensitive skin types. There are some really handy products in the range too, including the unique Lip Plumping Balm (which acts like a plumping cream,) the Skin Vitality Moisturiser (which has a really handy pump dispenser to reduce wastage,) and the Body Scrub (which contains the perfect sized kernels to exfoliate without irritating.) What's even better about the brand is that you can host an ARK Skincare party at home, enabling you to really test the products, share your favourites with your friends and make skincare fun again. What a great brand.


Find out more on their website here: shop.arkskincare.com
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28.5.13

Illamasqua Hydra Veil: Rehydrating Gel Primer

Keeping your skin hydrated and looking tip-top can now be made a little easier, thanks to Illamasqua's innovative new Hydra Veil jelly formula. Packaged in a really handy and secure pot, with even a little spoon to help scoop it out onto your hand, it offers the skin a combination of moisturiser and primer in one easy-to-use product. You can use this on bare skin or alternatively over a moisturiser or serum (depending how thirsty your skin is,) applying the smallest amount and blending it into your face like you would a primer.


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Panche Lingerie: Bras for D-KK cups

Big breasts can be both a blessing and a curse. They may look great in tight t-shirts, but realistically they mean you need a whole lot of scaffolding to keep them pointing in the right direction. Backless and strapless aren't an option, while even thin spaghetti straps can reveal the most horrendous of undergarments. Why does a bigger cup size mean a horrendously ugly monstrosity of a bra? Panache underwear have taken the rules of underwear construction and turned them on their head, producing beautifully detailed and intricate designs that are made for cup sizes ranging from a D to a KK. I've got a couple of their bras already, but after seeing the new launches and forthcoming collections I'm already planning my next ten purchases. They're made with soft, yet structured material that really helps to hold your bust in the way nature intended (and I don't mean around your waistline.) The detail is fabulous, the design fun and youthful, the straps thin yet still supportive and the underwire comes up high enough on the bust to make you feel like you're not on display like a corseted member of Les Miserables. They're some of the most comfortable bras I've ever worn, giving me the confidence to wear pretty much anything I desire. The ranges are available via Very, Isme, ASOS and department stores nationwide; starting from around £25.00 they don't even break the bank. I'm totally a convert into this brand and can't wait to expand my collection with some delicately designed numbers such as these.
See the whole range on their website: www.panache-lingerie.com/gb
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27.5.13

LBQ's Top 3: Black Eyeliners

Another new feature I want to start bring to the site - my top three picks. When individually reviewing and talking about products, sometimes you don't have an opportunity to reflect and really compare performance over a much longer period of time. I always find that no matter how much I love a product initially, if I don't find myself reaching for it over something I regularly use it hasn't really made the cut. One item every girl should have in their makeup bag is a really great black eyeliner; a solid line across the eye can create the illusion of a thicker lashline, as well as enabling you to rock a much stronger lip colour. My favourtie makeup look of the moment is a slick of black eyeliner with a bright pink lipstick - simple, effective, impactful. My three favourite black eyeliners that provide staying power, depth of colour and blendable results have to be from Bobbi Brown, Urban Decay and Bourjois Paris. I've had these in my collection for some time and they always deliver - so much so that I've gone out of my way to re-purchase them again and again, regardless of their price point.


Top 3 eyeliners

1. Bobbi Brown: Long-Wear (£17.50)
This pencil is a cross between a khol and a crayon, providing precision application and the darkest black I've ever used. It stays on all day without any smudging whatsoever, even staying put through my hayfever-induced watery eyes. This is perfect for creating 60's inspired flicks because the formulas is easy to manipulate, while the tip provides precision without being too thin.

2. Urban Decay: 24/7 Glide-On (£14.00)
This has achieved iconic status for a reason - once it's on, it's on. Although this isn't as dark as the Bobbi Brown pencil, it does build up to give a really strong black result that you can also blend to create a smokey eye. I love using this with heaps of eyeshadow and mascara to create a vampish look, particularly as the texture is so malleable.

3. Bourjois Paris: Khol & Contour (£5.00)
I've been using this since it was launched a few years ago, and it continues to be one of my favourites. The handy sharpener in the lid makes this really practical for using on-the-go, popping in your bag or taking away for the weekend. The pencil is very much a khol, so you need to work it well between your fingers for best results, but for a simple line this is the best bargain buy. 

What are your favourite black eyeliners?
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NEW: Nivea in-shower moisturiser

We all know that moisturising our bodies should be as regular as brushing our teeth, but sometimes we just don't have the time. An extra layer of body moisturiser in the morning can cause all kinds of trouble, especially if you have to negotiate a pair of tights on over a sticky leg. Nivea have launched their in-shower moisturiser that helps to cut down on another essential stage of body maintenance, by giving you the hydration you need in a format that's never been seen before. The big tube of shower-gel like product brings a conditioner for the body into the shower, to be used like a conditioner for the hair - after cleansing, add a layer of the creamy substance, leave for a few seconds and then wash away.

 

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24.5.13

Penhaligon’s Iris Prima: The Spirit of the Ballet

From the age of four, I spent most weeknights in a ballet studio learning to perfect my point. Looking back at those days with fond memories, there are many scents that instantly transport me to those tutu-wearing times. The leather of my ballet shoes, the hairspray in my hair, the fragrance of stage makeup and sweaty leotards - the sense of smell really is the most evocative sense of all. Penhaligon’s, first established over 135 years ago in London, continues to create timeless scents that create real emotion within the wearer. With the latest launch (in partnership with the English National Ballet) Penhaligon’s set about capturing the very essence of the dance, turning to master perfumer Alberto Morillas to create something timeless, yet unique. Alberto was granted exclusive access to the English National Ballet dancers, as well as rehearsals and glimpses from theatre wings, to be able to capture every aspect of the ballet in one perfume.

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If only you could actually buy this: Love Hurts Kit

How many of us have suffered from a broken heart and spent the best part of a week in our PJs, watching The Notebook, scoffing chocolate and feeling like we never want to go outside again? Once you get through it you realise how ridiculous you've been, but right there in the moment you think you'll never recover. This 'love hurts' first aid kit is what every girl (and boy) needs in their possession for that heartbreaking moment when you realise your love has been irreparably broken - it includes tissues, a candle, chocolate, vodka, a mixed CD of depressing songs and even a bottle of painkillers adorned with equally downtrodden messages. It's the brainchild of Melanie Chernock, a designer that desperately needs someone to commission this to help soothe the broken hearts of the British population. I can totally see this being a best-seller in Urban Outfitters, but until then we'll have to do with watching The Notebook on repeat.


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23.5.13

NEW Must-Have: Code Beautiful Mascara

The hunt for the perfect mascara causes women across the world hours of misery and hundreds of pounds a year. On average, a women spends over £2000 on mascara in her lifetime - I bet you Cheryl Cole's lashes that at least 50% of those mascara tubes remain unfinished because they don't provide the length/volume/lift that was promised. I for one have, at any one time, around 20 mascaras floating around my makeup box in various states of use. Once I find a goodun it stays with me for as long as I can get some gloop out of the bottle, before I have to hot-foot it down to Harvey Nicols and grab myself another. The ultimate mascara was a dream of two ladies who'd spend years trying to find the perfect product; after their search failed, they decided to bite the bullet and create their very own. After a year of playing, testing, tweaking and perfecting, they developed a mascara that claims to provide fabulous lash lift, length and volume, as well as being smudge proof, tear proof and paraben free. If that wasn't enough, Code Beautiful mascara also contains vitamins and waxes that encourage lash growth, so you can be looking after your flutter in both the short and long term in one swoop. When I first received a sample of this to try I was extremely skeptical - how could one mascara provide all of that and not be developed in some posh L'Oreal lab? To make matters worse, the packaging was pretty blah and the brush looked like it came free with my 1997 copy of Sugar Magazine. Things were not looking great, but appearances in beauty can be very deceptive. Once I actually tried this not-so-pretty mascara I was pleasantly surprised - it applied well, it separated my lashes, it provided length and didn't clump. Code Beautiful mascara allows you to build up the mascara for a fuller look and extreme volume, with no clumping whatsoever; the more I used it, the more I decided I really did quite like it. While chatting away to one of the brand owners, I noted the pretty ugly looking brush... Apparently this is something they were told in research, but no other brush worked in the way they wanted. We're so used to seeing ergonomic and technologically advanced mascara wands, that going back to basics seems a little strange - maybe more cosmetic brands should adopt this strategy, rather than selling us posh looking wands that are about as much use as a chopstick. I've been using this mascara for a few weeks now and it's definitely become my default - it provides the seperation and length I require in the day, the volume I love and night and the staying power to last a weekend walking around in rainy London. Of all the mascaras I've used this year, this is second only to the YSL Babydoll which is £4.00 more expensive. Not bad for a first shot at the cosmetics market from a pair of savvy women who just couldn't find what they were after.







Code Beautiful mascara is available online for £19.95
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22.5.13

LBQ Brand Focus #1: Melvita

I'm going to be starting a new series on LBQ, where I delve into the depths to focus on a brand that may be relatively unknown, a hidden treasure or has a great range of untapped basics. There are so many fabulous brands and products available through boutiques and apothecaries, but unless you have the time to test everything on the shelf you may never get to discover some of the best things out there. I'm starting the series with a brand I've been using for the last couple of years, but because the products are fuss-free, simple and effective, they blend into my routine and inevitably get forgotten about from a blog perspective. Melvita has been around since 1983, so is this year celebrating their 30th anniversary of providing pioneering organic beauty products. The founder, Bernard Chevilliat, was originally a beekeeper and biologist fascinated by the relationship between bees, flowers, honey and beauty: "I wanted to place 'nature at heart' in all that we do: in our approach to beauty and skincare and of our ecological and humanistic concerns." It's grown to become one of France’s leading brands of natural and organic cosmetics, moving to the UK subtly and now being available in their very own shop in London's Covent Garden. Although the packaging may be relatively uninspiring, the beauty of these products is how easy they are to use and how they effortlessly slip into your routine. The scents are extremely subtle, the formulas predominantly white or clear, the texture inoffensive and the effect on the skin pleasurable. Some of my favourite products are the Orange Blossom Extraordinary Water, (a delightfully light gel that helps hydrate skin and leave it prepped for moisturiser, as well as helping to remove traces of cleanser) the Ultra-Nourishing Cream (a delicately scented moisturiser that's light enough to wear under makeup, absorbs quickly and doesn't leave any residue) and the Body Scrub (which exfoliates effectively with a high proportion of ground kernels, while helping to leave skin soft and supple.) There are so many hidden gems within the range; so much so that I couldn't recommend enough popping along to their boutique in London if you're ever in the neighbourhood. In an industry so focused on newness, flashy claims and flashier bottles, Melvita provides a refreshing outlook and products that simply do what they say on the pack. It's well deserving of the first position within LBQ's brand focus.
Find out more about the brand and range via their website: uk.melvita.com
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Suncream with Added Sand Protection: Boots Soltan

I've been preaching about the importance of a good sunscreen for a while now (read my original post here,) so we should all be on the same page and understand how vital it is to get it right. If you've got kids though, or are just a big kid yourself, half of the problem is getting the sun cream to stay on while they're rolling around on the beach building sandcastles. I for one utterly hate that sticky feeling you get from a lot of sunscreens, especially when I get stuck to the sand, seeweed and ingredients of my mojito. It's not a good look, so the clever people at Boots have launched a 'sand resistant' version of their kids sunscreen (but it's still totally adult-appropriate too!) I tested this out and can confirm that the sticky feeling you usually get is significantly reduced with this cream - it absorbs quickly, leaving skin feeling smooth with no residue on the surface. Even when I dipped my arm in a sandpit for research purposes, there were only a few grains of sand stuck to my skin's surface... Inevitable really as the blighters really do get everywhere. I commend Boots for making skincare simpler to understand, easier to use and affordable enough that there's no excuse not to slap it on every day - even if you may not be able to see the sun right now.



Available in Boots stores nationwide priced £5.99. Available in 30SPF or 50SPF versions.
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21.5.13

NEW: Maybelline express nail varnish remover

Every time I apply a bright colour to my nails, a sense of dread washes over me. When the bright hue contains little flecks of glitter, the anxious feeling gets even worse: how the hell am I gonna get this stuff off? I know I'm not the only one who chooses their nail varnish based on the length of time it's going to take to remove it two days later, or re-applies varnish to the tips to get another day's wear out of it. Nail varnish removal is a big problem. If I calculated the hours I've spent so far in my lifetime battling stubborn textured polish, I'm pretty sure I could have read War and Peace twice. Just think of all those useful things you could do if you had an extra five minutes to play with: you could straighten your hair a little bit more precisely, try on another three pairs of shoes, catch another news bulletin on the telly or even manage to put your mascara on in the way it was intended. Maybelline should be given an award for the pure joy their newest innovation is going to bring the female population, in the form of an express nail varnish remover. You may have heard of similar products being launched, but I've been told by many people this is the best one they've tried. When you unscrew the lid it contains a foam centre that you dip your finger into, the nail varnish remover within working to remove all colour and residue within three strokes. It works best when you rub your nail against the side of the foam, but after a few strokes all nail varnish has dissolved (even the annoyingly stubborn glittery ones.) I can't explain how much easier this makes my life, especially when I usually decide to change my nail varnish ten minutes before leaving the house. Knowing the pain and faff involved in the usual removal process, I don't think I can ever face going back to liquid and cotton wool. That's so 2012.






Available from June in Boots/Superdrug priced £4.99
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20.5.13

CELEBS: Interviewing Pixie Lott

A little while ago I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon with popstar, style icon and little bundle of joy Pixie Lott. I wasn't just hanging around like a groupie, I wanted to find out what made her tick. Starting off in the semi-glamorous location of her hairdressing salon, Taylor Taylor, in East London (apparently one of her favourite places to go because they give an awesome head massage,) we quickly got in her car and spent the journey across London chatting about everything from Eastenders to festival fashion. Here are a few snippets from my afternoon with Pixie Lott...


You do a lot of gigs and concerts late at night. How do you relax when you get home? 
When I get off the stage I'm always really excited because I've got the buzz, but when that winds down I'm always really tired. I'll go home, make a cup of tea, put a movie on, chill on the sofa and have a snack. I'm a big fan of bubble baths and candles, but I don't have much time for them so they're very rare for me - that's probably why I enjoy them so much, as they're such a treat. I also love massages and facials, they're my all time favourite thing; that's why I love going to the salon as they always give you a head massage!

What's on your rider?
We always just have the general stuff really - ginger, honey and lemon for my voice, a little bowl of goodies or sweets, fruit... If we don't eat it all I can take it home too, so I don't have to do my food shopping the next day! (Cheeky Pixie.)

What's your favourite venue or concert to date? 
I really loved my tour, so I guess my favourite shows have been the London shows at Hammersmith Apollo. I also really love playing the stadium venues, like the 02, and I'm really excited about playing the Royal Albert Hall because it's so beautiful and I haven't played there before. I love going to concerts myself and I really want to go see Coldplay. Live music is the best way to listen to music.

You play a lot of festivals. Is that something you try to do every year?
Yes, I love festivals. It feels like you go away on a mini holiday; I love the festival fashion, meeting random people, the whole camping thing. I'd enjoy a festival even if it was raining, but when it's sunny it's just the best. At festivals you can literally wear whatever you want and nobody cares - if you want to paint on your face, shove a flower in your hair or wear something luminous, nobody looks twice! I always have to have a pair of wellies though - there's a pair I've had for years that are like boots-slash-wellies that I love.

What are the little things you do with your makeup to make you feel great?
Usually I don't go for statement lips, because when I'm singing the microphone smudges lipstick all round my face! I've tried it a couple of times and the photos afterwards have literally been me with lipstick all around my mouth, which is never a good look. That's why whenever I'm doing something where I'm not singing, I try to have fun with my lips. Before a show though I always have drama around the eyes, big lashes and smokey shadow that's brought out to the side to make it more feline. I think that's a great way to take your makeup from the day into the night, especially as lipstick can be quite hard to maintain while you're drinking.

How do you use accessories to change your look?
I pretty much always wear rings; I feel naked if I don't have any rings on. I wear little bangles and watches in the daytime, but in the night (say if I'm wearing a little black dress) I always layer chains to create more of a statement. Today I'm wearing some things from a great designer called Maria Francesca Pepe - she does loads of things with studs and bracelets with little crosses hanging down that I love. I actually got a few of them at Spitalfields market!

You went from very long to quite short hair last year - what made you take the chop?
I'd had the same hair for ages. Everyone had the exact same hair! I was bored and had a new album coming out... I didn't want to dye it so I thought I'd cut it. I was a little bit scared, but I thought 'hair grows' so why not just give it a go and if I don't like it just grow it out again? I feel my shorter hair is a little more edgy than before, (although my long hair was a lot more glamorous) and I can do a lot more with it. You can mess it up a bit, create volume - even though you think you can do less with shorter hair, you can still do loads. I just fancied a change!

Tell me about how you'd go from day to night with one accessory? 
The most instant thing to update a dress from day to night? You bring a pair of heels along! I always carry them in my bag and they come off as soon as they hurt. (I've been told off a few times by bouncers for taking my shoes off... And then I get glass in my foot!) I also like a statement piece of jewellery or a necklace that says something. If I was going somewhere a bit more civilised I'd just put on a blazer or a chic little jacket to dress it up.

What about taking your hair from day to night when you've been out all day?
I always like a bit of volume and texture in my hair; I've got this great stuff which is like dust that you just put in the parting of your hair and kind of shake it like crazy to build texture. (She means Resurrection Dust!) Or you can go for an 'up do', just using a couple of kirby grips to shove it up and still go for the messy vibe. Plaits are perfect for festivals, or in the summer, to channel the whole boho thing; usually I just take a section, plait into the hair and pull it out so it's really really messy. That's kind of my signature look.

So there you go: Pixie is the Queen of many things, including messy plaits, bubble baths and accessories. She also loves Shoreditch, Eastenders, seeing her mates and potentially helping her boyfriend to start a fashion blog. Pixie is taking over the world, one part of London at a time.
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19.5.13

Want to wear your Summer Wardrobe right now?

The shops are full of pastel colours, white dresses and gladiator sandals, but unless we're the recipients of a heatwave in the next 48 hours we won't be donning them any time soon. Rather than stocking up on summer clothing and storing it away for that one ray of sunshine in October, why not bite the bullet and wear it today? All you have to do is make sure you accessorise in the right way and you've got a wearable outfit for any time of year. Here are my top three tips as to how you can wear your summer wardrobe right now - regardless of what the weatherman tells you.


Toughen up a white dress

1. Toughen it up with texture
Summer clothes tend to come in linen, cotton and other lighter materials that let air circulate in hot weather. The problem with these textures is that they look extremely seasonal; by adding in contrasting and stronger textures such as leather, metal or perpex, you can instantly counteract the summer feeling and make the outfit feel wearable. Cotton and leather is my favourite combo as it instantly lifts an outfit and feels like you're doing the dirty on summer. If it's good enough for Kate Moss...

2. Add dark accessories
White is all very well and good, but add a pastel cardigan and some beige ballet pumps and you're ready for strawberries at Wimbledon. (Not in a good way.) There's nothing worse than feeling like you dressed totally inappropriately, especially when the heavens open and you're faced with arctic temperatures. By adding in darker accessories you can take the edge off the brightness so that the white dress isn't the complete focus of the outfit - the eye has more shades to take in, so the white blends into the overall look. It's also less scary to wear first thing in the morning, when you're not quite sure what the day's weather will bring.

3. Brighten with a pop of colour
Adding in a brighter colour to an otherwise monocrome palette will help to bring the whole look together, especially in the form of a statement necklace and oversized scarf. Try shades such as blue, green or yellow that sit mid-way in the colour spectrum and don't overpower the rest of the outfit. Avoid reds, pinks or purples as it will look too tropical against the purity of the dress - save them for when the sunshine really hits and you're sipping on a cocktail by the beach.

What are your top tips for wearing your Summer Wardrobe pre-season? 
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18.5.13

Caci facial at the Four Seasons Hotel

As soon as I hit 30 I started to see creases on my face. They'd probably been there all my life, but as soon as I started to tick the '30 and over' box, every little line took on new significance. I've become increasingly concerned about the state of my skin, taking much longer to apply various creams and serums before bed, as well as booking in regularly for a cleansing facial to keep those deep lines at bay for as long as possible. As you age, your muscles lose their tone - the Caci facial treatment is designed to keep the muscles toned, the skin radiant and help reduce the signs of ageing. The treatment stimulates the circulation of energy to the facial tissue, which in turn increases the rate at which the skin produces collagen and elastin. It's designed to give gentle exercise to the facial muscles, tightening and firming them to help reduce slackness and restore natural contour. The Caci facial can also improve the reduction of eye bags, soften scar tissue and reduce the size of enlarged pores - luckily all things I don't currently suffer from, but at least I know it can help prevent them as and when I need! Conducted over a an hour in an extremely swish treatment room, the facial is administered using two metal rods that massage and stimulate the facial muscles. The process is completely painless as the electrical pulses work deeper in the skin than can necessarily be felt, although every so often a slight tingling sensation around the jawline took me by surprise. Extremely relaxing, the Caci treatment almost had me asleep within the first 15 minutes, but after the full hour my face felt fresh, plumped and clear. I could feel an instant lift in my skin and facial muscles, which lasted for around 2 days and helped my skin to glow. It's recommended that for long-term results a Caci facial is booked for every 6-8 weeks, so that the facial muscles can be continually stimulated and lifted to leave the complexion luminous - although there's still benefit to having treatments less frequently. I personally enjoyed how non-invasive the procedure was, particularly as it didn't leave my skin feel like it was covered in goo and exfoliated so much I could feel the skin from by 14th birthday. It provided me with the perfect balance of relaxation, facial stimulus and visual results - made even better by the luxurious surroundings in which is was administered. The Four Seasons Hotel on Park Lane is the ultimate in luxury, providing a pampering room to use before and after your treatment which contains everything you need to leave looking perfect again: hair dryers, hair straighteners, beauty products and even your own locker with robe and flip flops. While waiting (or after the treatment,) there's a heat therapy pool, steam room and sauna to utilise, as well as a relaxing waiting room with tea and nuts on tap. Up on the 10th floor and looking out on London's skyline could've been good enough, but all the little extras made this an experience I want to replicate again and again. No doubt I'll be booking another Caci facial ASAP just so I can gain the use of that delightful steam room again...






The Caci treatments at The Four Seasons Hotel, Park Lane, start from £45 a session.
More information on the spa and all treatments available here.
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17.5.13

Must Have: Neal's Yard Beauty Sleep Concentrate

Some days you just wake up and look in the mirror with horror. If, like me, your skin can appear as if an alien has sucked the life out of you overnight, then you need a little pick-me-up to prevent small children screaming. I discovered Neal's Yard Beauty Sleep Concentrate by accident, applying it to my face as an overnight moisturiser (reading labels is not my thing.) When I woke up and looked in the bathroom mirror I was greeted with something that resembled human, rather than me minus any moisture or healthy glow. The Beauty Sleep Concentrate has been scientifically formulated to support skin’s natural night time regeneration, while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  It's lightweight and very easily absorbed into skin, so you don't feel like you're slapping on a thick horrendous cream and spend the night worrying about damaging your pillows. A couple of pumps are enough to cover the face in a thin veil, which instantly leaves skin feeling hydrated and fresh. Upon awaking the next morning, skin looks plumper, fresher, revived and hydrated. There's none of that sallowness that often follows a bad night's sleep, only a refreshingly clear and awake skin. In clinical trials conducted before the launch of this product, the concentrate was proven to increase moisture levels in skin by up to 98% over 12 hours - that's pretty incredible. With skincare it can be really difficult to notice a visible difference from one product, but I could instantly see the difference this made after one night and continue to do so. I've taken this away with me to use after long flights, for hen weekends and wedding celebrations, benefitting from a fresher complexion and a more unified skintone thanks to the added moisture. I couldn't recommend it more. In my eyes, it's a total must have.




Neal's Yard Beauty Sleep Concentrate is available from boutiques and online priced £31.50
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16.5.13

Crabtree & Evelyn pop-up herb garden in Covent Garden

Few brands nowadays evoke feelings from times gone by, most preferring to refresh their identity so they appeal to a younger and more aspiring audience. Crabtree & Evelyn, however, have managed to firmly grasp their heritage with both hands while embracing the modernity and freshness that sells in 2013. Their shop in Covent Garden is bright and airy, containing shelves upon shelves of lotions and potions that bring a subtle scent to their customers lives. I'm a big fan of their hand creams, so it was great to get fully embraced into their collection and find out all the great secrets they have on offer. To express their passion for flowers, herbs and botanical ingredients, (as well as keeping themselves modern and relevant,) Crabtree & Evelyn have launched ‘The Avant Garden.’ The abstract pop-up herb garden will blossom on Covent Garden’s West Piazza until 9th June, celebrating over 15 years of their iconic Gardeners Hand Care Collection (which is perfect for gardening enthusiasts' hardworking hands) as well as 40 years of pioneering botanical formulations. The garden is beautiful in a rustic and unkempt way, the flowers and herbs already growing in all directions; as they bloom over the next few weeks I have no doubt this will become a real feature on the Piazza. The display also contains solar powered water features, which unfortunately were suffering from lack of daylight when I arrived, to provide another level of enjoyment for passers-by. If you pop into the shop (directly behind the garden,) you'll also see one of their latest collections on display which unintentionally brings it all together - Somerset Meadow is a refreshing and uplifting scent that smells exactly as you would expect (more on that later!) If you're around in London over the next few weeks, make sure you pop by the Crabtree & Evelyn 'Avant Garden' and have a sniff of what's on offer. It's open to everyone - regardless of your current gardener status!








The garden will be blooming until 9th June 2013.
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15.5.13

Marie Curie Stories: Giving Cancer a Makeover in Hampstead

In 1948 the National Health Service was launched. The very same year, a comittee from the original Marie Curie Hospital in Hampstead decided to preserve the name of Marie Curie by launching a charity in her name; following the donation of an engagement ring to help raise funds, the very first appeal was launched... And the rest is history. Marie Cure Cancer Care now has nine hospices across the UK that are dedicated to delivering the best care to their patients, support to their families and vital services that make lives a little bit better. It costs over £40,000 a day to keep these nine hospices running, a financial figure that relies heavily upon donations and support from the public. I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Hampstead hospice to find out what Marie Curie really gets up to and how they help make patients' lives more enriched and positive, no matter what situation or future they may be facing. 'Hospice' is a pretty scary word for most, so it was amazing to be able to go behind the scenes and find out that a hospice is not a scary place in reality. The Marie Curie Hospice, Hampstead, is a bright and relatively cheery place that's located in the corner of a leafy and peaceful London suburb. Every person I met during my morning there was smiling, welcoming and passionate about the work that the hospice does - and it does a lot of incredible work. I'm pleased to be part of a campaign launching today called 'Marie Curie Stories,' which is bringing to life the different things that Marie Curie's hospices do on a daily basis that help improve the quality of their patients' lives. In the Hampstead hospice there's something a bit special that goes on every fortnight in a little room on the 3rd floor; something that to you and me may sound minor, but something that to the terminally ill patients makes a world of difference: a makeover. Makeup artist Carolyn K rocks up every other Friday armed with brushes, powders, creams and potions, ready to help some very special ladies look as amazing on the outside as they are on the inside. When your skin is dry, blotchy or looking like it's seen better days, a little bit of makeup and good advice can mean the world. The makeovers help make patients feel great about themselves and take a little time out, with the makeup encouraging them to make plans with friends or family after thanks to their new-found confidence. After a gym session they can pop in and have a chat with Carolyn, get their smokey-eye applied, put on a bit of lippie and for a small moment in time forget their troubles when they look in the mirror. It's such a simple, yet great idea. Considering some of these people may be very well near the end of their lives, they look so well and happy; Marie Curie focuses on getting their mind, body and spirit healthy and positive so they can make the most of whatever time they have left. It was incredibly humbling to be with terminally ill patients that are so unbelievably positive, to and find out what a huge difference Marie Curie really makes. The patients really look forward to the sessions every fortnight, giving them an opportunity to get together with people in a similar situation; it really is an invaluable service and just a small element of all the great work the charity does.

You can find out more about Marie Curie in the London area by liking their Facebook page, as well as checking out the other bloggers experiences.





Marie Curie has teamed up with six bloggers who have visited Marie Curie hospices across the UK. Follow #MarieCurieStories on Twitter and Facebook and at www.mariecurie.org.uk/mariecuriestories

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14.5.13

Illamasqua Paranormal: Nail Varnish

The non-weather of late has had me constantly wearing nude colours on my nails. What do you wear when it's supposed to be sunny, but the clouds are telling you to wait another month before changing-up your seasonal wardrobe? Nudes seem to go with everything and cross one thing off my list in the morning (don't tell me you don't match your outfit to your nail varnish...) but they leave me quite uninspired. Illamasqua are certainly no 'nude' brand, known for their bright colours, extravagant images and out-there concoctions, so it's no suprise these nail varnishes were the ones to well and truly get me out of my mid-season rut. Part of their 'Paranormal' collection, these three shades are strikingly powerful and omit a colour that almost leaves you breathless. Green, purple and pink shouldn't really work together... But on this occasion they totally and utterly do. The formulas themselves are delightfully thick without being gloopy, applying to the nail flawlessly to leave a delicate shimmer that catches the light. You barely need two coats to get a true-to-bottle colour, meaning there's plenty of room for a base and topcoat to keep them lasting flawlessly for as long as possible. I'm quickly falling in love with the nail varnishes from Illamasqua, the formulas and colours being perfect, as everyone else seems to be too. I had great fun creating a bit of nail art with the shades - made even better with a topcoat that makes them shine brightly under UV light. I don't have a UV lamp floating around at home, but I'm pretty sure if I was to wear these out to the Ministry of Sound (or some other hip club I'm probably too old to enjoy) it would be reminiscent of a foam party from 2003. And when was that ever a bad thing?







Nail varnishes available now priced £15.00. Top coat priced £13.50.
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