Although it's often rather overlooked, there's always a lot going on when it comes to body and skincare. This year has been no exception, with everything from grapes to chocolate being used to hydrate and plump the skin. Brands are constantly innovating and looking for the 'next big thing', but sometimes it's the classics that continue to keep our skin looking great. With oodles to choose from, these are my favourite body and skincare products to grace my bathroom this fine year...
So this year has seen a huge amount of new beauty launches hit our High Street, as well as some old classics benefiting from a little makeover. With thousands of new shiny things to play with, it's hard for a product to stand out and keep my attention for longer than a few days... But these products really have become my favourites and stuck with me throughout the year. These selected few are really worth investing in, thanks to their innovative formulas or the sheer brilliance of their performance. Here are my top picks of 2013 - the makeup edit.
Foundation is one of the hardest products to get right: the coverage, finish and feel are as important as the colour result, and no two people will ever be the same. This year I've discovered an array of new additions to add to my repertoire, but there's always room for more. With Perricone MD's 'No Foundation Foundation' growing in popularity and winning awards all over the shop, my maturing skin was keen to see what the fuss was about. If you're not familiar with Perricone MD, then it's the brainchild of skincare expert and dermatologist Dr Perricone who developed a revolutionary approach to skin ageing: that cellular inflammation may be the underlying cause of wrinkles. It is this 'inflammation' that his skincare products target, making the 'No Foundation Foundation' not only a cosmetic, but a product that could potentially help improve the appearance of skin tone over time. The main selling point is that the foundation lets the skin's natural radiance and beauty shine through without the heavy matte finish, which emphasizes the tiniest skin imperfections.
Lipstick Queen is fast becoming the go-to brand for anyone looking for their perfect lipstick. Covering all colours and effects on the spectrum, there's always a bullet of red for everyone and the result to match every personality. This winter Lipstick Queen have taken three of their best selling shades (Nude, Red and Wine) and added a touch of molten metal - the 'Metal' collection boats a satin metallic finish that's 'inspired by the intrinsic magnetism of lipstick.' The highly pigmented colour is infused with ultra-fine metallic pearls for a striking result, without an uncomfortable feeling on the lips. It glides on effortlessly and doesn't dry the surface of lips, while the added Vitamin E and apricot kernel oil helps to moisturise and protect your pout. The result is subtle but powerful, ensuring that the Lipstick Queen 'Metals' create a stir when you apply it this New Years Eve.
Head & Shoulders have been around for over 50 years, but never have they been a particularly glamorous brand. Although they claim to solve your dandruff dilemmas, never have I turned to them when I'm in need of a little love and attention. With their latest addition to the growing collection of targeted hair care, Head & Shoulders really offer something new. 'Thick & Strong' claims to provide stronger hair in only one use, which during the cold winter months and in the midst of the party styling season is something I can definitely get on board with. For the last few months my hair has been getting progressively tattier (I'm talking dry, frizzy, coarse and unmanageable,) but in only a few washes Head & Shoulders 'Thick & Strong' has really helped to tame my mane and inject a bit of life back into the roots. With the added bonus of their first ever dip into the styling arena (with the new Extra Thickening Treatment,) this is a budget range to be reckoned with.
If you haven't had your fair share of glitter yet, then there's still a few days left of 2013 to squeeze some in. New Years Eve isn't right without a bit of glitz and glam, which makes these Topshop exclusive Nail Rock glitter kits perfect for your big night out (or in!) Each little kit contains a big bottle of varnish and a large pot of corresponding nail glitter; all you have to do is paint your nails and dip them while wet into the glitter for it to set. To help keep the glitter in place for longer you can use a topcoat, although this does slightly take away some of the sparkle. Although the nail varnish is quite thin and needs a couple of coats to get going, this does aid the glitter sticking as it has more layers to cling on to. Why not get creative and just use glitter on one statement nail, or paint clear polish in top of pre-painted nails in different designs - not unlike creating glitter art when you're in school! Ring in 2014 with glittery style.
Argan Oil has definitely been the ingredient of 2013. Although it can be found in hair products to help hydrate, smooth and reflect the light to create shine, Argan Oil is also an effective treatment for dry or sensitive skin, boosting moisture levels and helping skin repair. Known for being exceptionally rich in essential fatty acids, it features in many a skincare product and treatment, as well as in pure oil format for greater intensity. Melvita's iconic and best selling Argan Oil is now available in a super handy roll-on format, which can be applied with precision to dry areas of the skin to help nourish and protect. It features no preservatives or colorants, making it ideal for sensitive skin, nor is it greasy; the oil is surprisingly light and absorbs into the skin fully in next to no time at all. What's even better is that Melvita have now combined the goodness of Argan Oil with the revitalising properties of Rose Hip Oil, all in one little product.
Candles have always been a massive part of my nesting process. Whenever I move into a new home or redecorate, placing candles on every surface is high on my 'to do' list - it just makes me feel at home. Maybe it's the warm, cosy candlelight or the delicate scent the flame helps to release, but candles just make me smile. Although you can grab any old candle from a supermarket for a few pounds, making an investment in a high quality and expertly crafted candle can make the world of difference... Which is why I'm introducing 'A Life With A View.'
When Benefit's original Porefessional face primer and pore perfector was launched, it became an instant best seller and classic beauty product. Now Benefit have added to the sub-brand with the launch of The Porefessional: Agent Zero Shine, a 'shine vanishing pro powder' that claims to minimise pores and eliminate shine. The lightweight tube features a detachable brush on one end, and a lid on the other that reveals a 'talc' like dispenser. To use the product you simply tap a small amount of powder into the lid, use the brush to pick up the product (tapping to remove excess,) and buff into the skin. It can be used under or over makeup, depending on how heavy you like it or the consistency of your foundation, to provide a flawless finish... But is this to become as cult-like as the original? In my opinion, no.
Sometimes you don't have to spend a fortune to get a great skincare product, and Palmer's is the perfect example. Not only are they famous for their body butters and stretch mark cream, but in the last couple of years they've added an extensive range of targeted skincare solutions to their offering. Not only can you grab face cream, overnight lotion and hand cream that are all enriched with the ultra moisturising cocoa butter, but now there are even tinted body lotions and anti ageing solutions. I'm a big fan of their body scrubs and extremely hydrating lotions, especially as they all smell gorgeous and comfort me when it's needed most. On the last day of my Advent Calendar, what better way to finish than with a bumper pack of Palmer's goodies worth over £50.00?
With Christmas only a few more sleeps away, there's one thing on my mind: getting my party hair perfect. Leaving it long and un-styled is simply not cool enough at this time of year, but how do you create a show-stopping style in a few easy steps? Paul Mitchell have put together some handy step-by-step guides to help you get three party looks in no time at all, including intricate 'up dos' and relaxed glamorous waves. Check out the video I filmed with Paul Mitchell a little while ago, as well as a how-to guide from Beauty & The Dirt and Glam & Glitter. Looking fabulously flirty and pretty party ready has never been so easy...
Rococo Nail Apparel started life as a celebrity and backstage secret, developed specifically for use in the professional space. Only after Rococo had been widely used at London Fashion Week, on music videos and by celebrity clients did it find its way on to the UK High Street. Each Rococo collection remains ahead of the curve, inspiring trends season after season. The polishes themselves are carefully formulated to ensure a longer-lasting, quicker-drying finish, without the need for formaldehyde, toluene and DBP. The selection of colours is vast, each with high-pigment, and provides the support your nails need to take colour to a whole new level. Not only that, but they look pretty slick too. I have this Love & Protection Duo worth £20.00 to give away on the 23rd day of #LBQAdvent, so what are you waiting for...?
Although we wrap up warm and invest in lots of socks when the cold chill hits, it's as important to change our skincare routine as it is our wardrobe every winter. Kiko Makeup have made a little bit of a splash since launching their cosmetics in the UK, but up until now there's been nothing for me that had the 'wow' factor. However, with the launch of these winter skin solutions I definitely sat up and took notice. The winter skincare line includes Winter Sunscreen, Hands & Lips Winter Balm, Hydrating Mousse and more - all formulated to target the specific issues we face during colder temperatures, with cute snowflake packaging to boot.
When the eighteen year old Poppy King failed to find her perfect lipstick in her hometown, she could have given up on lipstick altogether; however, she took a rather different approach and decided to create her own range of lipsticks. Twenty years on, Poppy’s passion for lipstick is as vibrant and strong as her signature red lip. Lipstick Queen is the result of a lifetime devoted to finding the perfect lipstick and is the ultimate brand to introduce every woman to their perfect shade. If you're not familiar with the brand (available in Space NK stores and online,) then the textures and pigments are incomparible to any other. The softness of the lipstick almost feels like a balm, while the multitude of intensity and shades available ensures Lipstick Queen offers a delicate introduction or a powerful punch of colour - depending on your preferences. There's a reason why Lipstick Queen appeared in my 'top three' lipsticks earlier on this year, and now I'm giving you the opportunity to win a trio to find out for yourself how amazing the little bullets are.
It's too easy to become a walking, talking glitter ball during December, so it's somewhat refreshing to see Seventeen Cosmetics taking a rather more 'rock n roll' approach to their Christmas collection. Adorned with yellow paint splatters and simply called 'Deconstructed,' the limited edition trio of products available in store now includes a suede nail paint, nail studs and black lacquer eyeliner. The nail paint provides a surprising matte result that's speckled with subtle golden flecks; it dries pretty much instantaneously, making it a great polish to use when you've run out of time and can't afford extra minutes required to perfect your paint. I love the result, especially when a couple of nail studs are added for extra punch.
Royal Albert have been creating intricate and beautiful teacups for over 100 years; whilst the Royal Albert brand was created in 1904, its roots are to be found in the Albert Works, built in 1896. The Albert Works commemorated the birth of Prince Albert in 1895, who later became the Duke of York and King George VI, the father of the Queen. The Albert Works was owned by Thomas Wild and his sons, who specialised in affordable tea, breakfast and dessert wares with floral designs. Their story is alive and well today, as Royal Albert continue to produce delicate tea wear - including this adorable pink tea set that I have to give away on day twenty one of #LBQadvent. I've got a fabulous mint green teacup for myself and adore the intricate design and uniqueness it brings to my home. You can read my post here, but why not see if you can win this striking tea set to start 2014 off on an elegant foot?
This time of year it's all parties, tinsel, turkey and champagne on ice. Everyone is happy, cheery and ready for the festive season, looking forward to time spent with the family watching Downton Abbey/Doctor Who/insert relevant television show here. However, as soon as the clock strikes midnight on December 31st the realisation hits us that it's all over for another year; no more long boozy lunches, no more glittery outfits and no more endless tins of Quality Street to scoff guilt free. January is the most depressing month of the year, not only because we're all a bit skint and bloated, but because the next big holiday is so far away it's hard to remain motivated. I tackle my otherwise dreary January by pre-booking mini breaks and spa visits, ensuring there's a treat around the corner to keep me focused and happy. If you're looking for a weekend break but can't justify a European getaway, why not look closer to home? London has an extensive range of luxurious hotels located in the heart of the city, which also offer amazing spa facilities and treatments to help you really relax and feel rejuvenated for the months ahead. Here are my top three...
Want to transform your hair into a sleek, frizz-free style without weighing it down with tonnes of product? Schwarzkopf's got2b Oil-Licious Weightless Dry Oil Mist contains Argan Oil (the ingredient of the year) to help tame fly-aways and add instant shine. You can use it on dry hair before, during or after styling, as well as a touch-up throughout the day; the mist can even be used on fine hair due to the ultra lightweight formula! Not only does it help detangle tresses, but can be used to smooth away the windswept look that's such a problem right now. This is a real budget buy too, coming in at £3.99 for a 200ml bottle. I have five cans of these to give away today, so your locks can look fabulous all the way into 2014...
Being a full time blogger and social media consultant, it's vital that I have the equipment that allows me to stay in touch with what's going on - no matter where I am or what I'm doing. I have a MacBook Air which enables me to confidently work both in my office and on the go, an iPhone 5 which keeps me in touch with my social media accounts 24/7, plus a Kindle HD Fire which provides a comfortable reading and viewing experience during my extensive journeys. So could the Acer Iconia A1 tablet add anything else to my technology party? I've been putting it to the test...
L'Occitane have always been a brand I turn to when I'm in need of a special gift. Not only are their products highly effective and luxurious, but they smell amazing too. Every Christmas I look forward to seeing what new gifts become available, with every set being beautifully packaged and offering a significant saving when compared to the individual product prices. This season saw L'Occitane launch a brand new scent: Fleur d’Or & Acacia. The enveloping floral scent 'celebrates the early winter blooms with the exquisite marriage of golden mimosa and soft acacia notes'; the sensual depths of musk and white wood make this a uniquely rich fragrance that reminds me of warm Spring days in the sunshine. On day nineteen of #LBQAdvent I have a Fleur d’Or & Acacia fragrance set to give away to one lucky person, providing the gift of Spring in a bottle. The set is worth £65.00 and includes: 75ml Fleur d’Or & Acacia Eau de Toilette, 175ml Fleur d’Or & Acacia Shower Gel and 175ml Fleur d’Or & Acacia Body Lotion.
I started using an electric toothbrush about two years ago and I haven't looked back. There's just no comparable feeling to having just cleaned your teeth with a powerful electric toothbrush that does all the hard work for you. Having only ever used Oral B, thanks to the durability and longevity of the brush's performance, I could never recommend another brand. Oral B produce brushes that are both comfortable in the hand and delicate in the mouth, as well as providing a deep clean that leaves teeth feeling almost shiny. According to Oral B, their electric brushes remove up to 100% more plaque vs a regular manual toothbrush by surrounding each tooth individually and delicately oscillating. I've always hated cleaning my teeth, practically falling asleep over the sink during the couple of minutes I'm at it, but Oral B make the experience pleasurable and the results tangible. They even include a timer in the brush to help you manage your brush time and ensure your teeth are getting the clean they deserve.
My desk is the one part of my house that is constantly disorganised, overflowing and surrounded by things I haven't quite managed to file away in their designated place. I not only have books, papers, products and pens all over the place, but I like to keep essential beauty treatments and lipbalms close at hand. There's nothing I hate more than not being able to find a balm or hand cream when I need it most, which is where Royal Albert come in. They've been creating intricate and beautiful teacups for over 100 years; whilst the Royal Albert brand was created in 1904, its roots are to be found in the Albert Works, built in 1896. The Albert Works commemorated the birth of Prince Albert in 1895, who later became the Duke of York and King George VI, the father of the Queen. The Albert Works was owned by Thomas Wild and his sons, who specialised in affordable tea, breakfast and dessert wares with floral designs. Their story is alive and well today, as Royal Albert continue to produce delicate tea wear - including this pretty mint teacup and saucer that I've been using as a stylish desk tidy.
Whoever discovered that Dr Lipp's Original Nipple Balm was also a perfect hydrating treatment for lips, was both a little strange and an absolute genius. Dr Lipp's Original Balm is 100% natural; made from the oils and waxes sheep naturally produce to protect their fleece, the balm melts when warmed between the fingers to leave a smooth and hydrating formula. The secretions are scientifically known to be the most similar to our own human skin oils, and for centuries have helped to protect and soften our skin. Not only is the formula perfectly compatible with our skin, but it also acts as a barrier to prevent any moisture escaping or bacteria entering. It's so good for skin it's even medically recommended for people with eczema and helps heal burns, abrasions and minor incisions. The formula is really thick and waxy, comparible to Elizabeth Arden 8hr Cream, so you need a really little amount to apply to lips. Although this may seem a little strange at first, Dr Lipp has become a first favourite of mine over the last couple of years - and I have FIVE to give away!
The most expensive part of any beauty repertoire is often the straightening and styling electricals that we rely on so heavily to provide us with sleek, bouncy, enviable hair. If we're going to spend a lot on a pair of straighteners then we want to know they'll give us the results we desire. Nicky Clarke have been making electrical tools for as long as I remember, even providing me with my first ever pair of straighteners that revolutionised my beauty routine, but with their DesiRED range they have upped their game and designed a range of must-haves. This Wide Plate Straightener not only helps to create sleek and shiny hair, but it's also perfect for creating movement and volume too. The entire range features nano silver and tourmaline technology to help create stunning looks that are locked in with shine and long-lasting hold, as well as ceramic heating technology to help plates heat up super fast. You can check out my review of the Nicky Clarke slim plate straighteners here, which I've been using to create party hair and lots of volume throughout December.
The Christmas season brings with it extensive shopping trips, fiddly wrapping sessions, turkey preparation and outfit conundrums, as well as budgeting problems when you've spent a little too much on tinsel. However, it's the worst time of year to scrimp on that manicure or forget an essential pedicure - manky feet just don't complement a sparkly dress and statement shoes. Furthermore, with the stresses and strains of the season in full swing, a relaxing massage or indulgent facial can make the world of difference to your smile on Christmas day... But how can you justify it when you've just spent a fortune on those fancy crackers for the table? With the launch of the 118 118 Beauty Pass, all those problems can melt away. The 118 118 Beauty Pass offers huge discounts on every pampering treatment imaginable, across hundreds of salons and spas in the capital city. If you love having a regular trim, or simply like testing out new treatments and having some 'me time', then the Beauty Pass could save you some serious dosh. With savings of over 50% on brow tinting, lash extensions, massage, acupuncture, hair styling, facials, chemical peels, non-surgical facelifts, manicures, pedicures, teeth whitening, waxing and much more, the 118 118 Beauty Pass opens doors to unimaginable savings.
Elemis' award-winning Pro-Collagen Skin Treatment Collection harnesses the collagen boosting, anti-ageing power of the marine extract Padina Pavonica. The products have become best selling must-haves, favourites with celebrities and facial experts alike. A fundamental part of my skincare routine, the Pro-Collagen Night Cream helps to boost the skin while you sleep and enable you to awaken refreshed. The cult Cleansing Balm helps to melt away makeup and remove impurities, leaving skin clean and smooth, while the Papya Enzyme Peel is a great weekly treatment to remove the dull surface of skin and reveal your inner radiance. Within the Pro-Collagen Perfection Kit there is also a cleanser, toner, day cream and handy face cloth, all wrapped up in a glitzy silver cosmetics bag - all in all this is worth over £100! Although the range has been formulated to tackle ageing skin, it's also great for those in their 20s who want to start using great quality skincare products to ensure they're preparing effectively for the oncoming deterioration; the products are rich enough to work, but they don't overload or overpower the skin.
At this time of year it's vital to be frugal. With gifts to buy, turkeys to order and parties to attend, our purses really do take a battering. So when it comes to fashion, what trends can we buy into now that will see us through the festive period, but still will look on-trend come spring? Here's my low-down of the top trends that are worth investing in right now...
If Christmas is the time for giving, then I've got the perfect prize for you. Not only can you win a fabulously elegant fragrance gift set from Hugo Boss to ensure you're smelling tip top for New Years Eve, but also one for the man in your life too... It's a his and hers giveaway! Hugo Boss have kindly given me a Boss Jour Pour Femme and Boss Bottled gift set, each featuring a 30ml fragrance and 100ml corresponding body lotion. The fragrance for women is described as: "Featuring lime and grapefruit, the fresh citrus of this accord feels like the first rays of light on a sunny day radiating an inspiring sense of anticipation. A floral bouquet of honeysuckle and freesia reflects the many facets of her day, and encourages an elegant approach for whatever lies ahead. The musky earthy notes, with orris and creamy amber, mirror feminine strength allowing her to draw from her inner core and approach the day with confidence and composure." The male equivalent features apple and citrus fruits, as well as Geranium, Connamon, Cloves, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Cedarwood and Olivewood.
Spectacles used to be perceived as a fashion fail (I'm thinking Dierdre from Corrie and the girls in Grange Hill,) but in the last ten years they've become something of a fashion statement. Gone are the days when we'd step into the opticians with dread, knowing that the options were limited and probably would leave us looking like a Harry Potter impersonator. Now with thousands of statement designs, choosing glasses have become as much a part of getting ready as the shoes we wear and the necklace we put on to finish our outfit. As the owner of at least five pairs, I'm always on the look out for something new and different to add to my collection (that doesn't cost the earth.) Specsavers have always been the go-to destination for me, offering rows upon rows of unique eyewear that really makes a statement - if I have to wear glasses, I'm a firm believer in them being an extension of my outfit. I went along to their flagship store in London, located on Tottenham Court Road, to see what new styles they had to offer and what I could add to my collection for the winter season.
Originally designed for exclusive professional backstage use in Hollywood, GlamGlow has caused quite the stir since it was launched for consumers in 2011. Now one of the hottest skincare brands around, GlamGlow is known for its fast-acting and innovative mud treatments; the formulas combine real pieces of leaf with high-end technology to deliver instant, visible results. This ten minute mud mask leaves skin noticeably radiant and glowing, as well as a little bit sexy... (Although I'm not sure what sexy skin looks like.) It works with the body's natural collagen to provide gentle resurfacing exfoliation, helping to leave skin smoother, brighter, and softer. While providing tighter skin texture and tighter pores, it provides a more youthful appearance and absorbs impurities without removing natural oils. This is NOT cheap though: at £49.99 for a 50ml tub, that's £5.00 an application. It better make your skin look sexy..!
If you're still stuck for gift ideas for the ladies in your life, then may I introduce you to Nougat Naturals? Although I was familiar with the Nougat brand from working in House of Fraser during my student years, I wasn't aware they had branched out into personal care products until very recently. The Nougat Naturals range was developed to contain some of the best ingredients nature can offer, as well as being free from Parabens, Sulphates, Petrochemicals, Glycol, PEGs and colour. Currently available in an uplifting and energising scent, as well as this calming and relaxing variant, the products include a shower gel, body cream, body scrub, body oil and hand cream. This cute and handy gift set is perfect for Mums, Grans, Aunts, Mother-In-Laws or Sisters, thanks to the simplicity of the design mixed with a twist of modernity - it's non offensive, without being too kitsch or old fashioned. The products inside are also exactly what you need if you're not too sure what to buy for a loved one: you can't go wrong with a shower gel and body lotion! Containing a soothing fragrance, blended from the essential oils of Sandalwood, Chamomile, Jasmine and Lavender, these are great to use before bedtime to help you relax and drift off into sleep. I love the fact the box is equally as cute, meaning you don't even have to bother with packaging... A simple bow or gift tag and the job is done. (Tip for men: buy these in bulk!)
With the sparkling mini dresses and low cut tops going nowhere this party season, a little bit of colour can help you ooze confidence and look a little more sexy. However, the perfect tan isn't just about the formula or colour result - it's essential to prepare your skin and maintain the colour after its applied. Xen-Tan's luxury Glamorous Goddess Christmas collection contains everything you need to achieve the perfect head-turning glow that's streak free and long-lasting. The limited edition set contains the Xen-Tan Luminous Gold Gel, as well as their Body Scrub and Luxury Tanning Mitt to ensure the final result is flawless. They say: "Perfect for the party season, Xen-Tan's Luminous Gold Gel is multi-award winning; it effortlessly provides a gorgeous golden colour. The clear tanning gel glides on giving an instant golden sheen, magically developing after three hours in to a rich colour. Skin is left highly moisturised with a gentle sparkle and tanks to Xen-Tan's fastest drying formula, you can guarantee self-tan perfection."
This time of year has been proven to be the most stressful. Rushing around trying to get those last minute gifts, worrying about picking the perfect outfit for the Christmas party, trying to teach yourself how to cook a turkey... There's no wonder my grey hairs are popping through once again. It's vital to take a little time out to refresh your mind and reawaken your senses, ensuring your fully prepared for the onslaught of madness over the next couple of weeks. Aveda's Stress-Fix Soaking Salts offer a great solution to tired limbs and overworked minds - all you have to do is pop a handful into a steaming bath, slink in and relax. The sugar and mineral-rich salt is infused with an aroma that's clinically-proven to relieve feelings of stress: including essences of lavender, lavandin and clary sage, the salts melt into water to leave a delicate scent that really helps to relax your mind. It's perfect for a long soak at the end of the day when you need to switch off and get ready for bed, as lavender has been proven to aid sleep and help you drift off naturally.
‘A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting’ said Christian Dior. Spraying scent is more complex than we could have imagined when it hit the shelves of Selfridges over 100 years ago; picking a perfume is like picking personification bottled. I've always worn fragrance like I wear accessories, waiting until I'm fully dressed before picking a scent to complement my outfit and the mood I'm in. However, with the overflow of celebrity fragrances and endorsements, the art of perfumery has been somewhat lost. So many of us don't understand where our scent comes from, what the 'base' notes actually are, or what fragrance families underpin every scent ever developed. Karen Gilbert fell into the beauty industry by accident, finding herself training in perfumery and working on own label toiletries ranges for companies such as M&S, Boots & Superdrug; she later joined Neal's Yard Remedies and began specialising in aromatherapy oils, which led to her new career as an author of green and natural beauty books. 'Perfume' is a must-have companion for any fragrance enthusiast or beauty lover, and I have a copy to give away on day eleven of #LBQAdvent!
If there’s one thing that we can all look forward to at some point, it’s a holiday. Whether it consists of a few days off from work to get things done around the house, or a long weekend wrapped up in a cottage in the middle of the English countryside, a holiday is a wonderful way to recharge your batteries and (albeit temporarily) unwind. Of course, if you have the free time and the available finances to fund it, a holiday abroad provides the distance and excitement that English shores just can't compete with. Although summer is the optimum time to get away, winter breaks shouldn’t be ignored. Snow holidays can be both exhilarating and refreshing; perhaps it’s the mountain air or the adventures that are waiting to be had but, either way, if you’re hoping to get away during the cold spell, the mountains across Europe offer spectacular resorts and views to suit all tastes. However, a winter break brings about the ultimate dilemma... What to pack?
Caudalie has become one of my favourite brands, making my life a little more glamorous and indulgent - it's the power of the French touch. This year saw them launch an extention to their hugely successful 'Divine' range, which now features not only the classic miracle oil, but a body scrub, leg tint and luxurious warming candle. The classic Divine Oil offers everything you need to ensure your skin is positively exquisite, while also being great for hair, nails, bathing and massages. The oil's unique formula features a collection of four vegetable oils (grape, argan, hibiscus and sesame) that are extremely fine and quick to absorb, making the richness powerful without being greasy. In addition, the scrub and leg tint provide the perfect accompaniments that ensure your limbs are looking top notch and party ready - the scrub melts away dry, rough skin to leave legs perfectly prepared for the tinted Divine Legs creamy golden formula. The Divine candle completes the range, using the signature fragrance of the Divine Oil to ensure you float away to a state of relaxation: it includes pink pepper, rose, cedar, vanilla and musks. "This floral woody fragrance opens with the notes of grapefruit and violet leaf; orange blossom and rose blend perfectly into the sunny jasmine, while finally, a cocoon of cedar wood and vanilla combines with soft white musk notes." Sounds delicious, no?
Sometimes we just need a little light in our life. With the severe lack of sunshine and the cold winds making our skin look dull and lifeless, a decent highlighter can be a girl's best friend. As a brand that's well established in the 'base' makeup arena, it's no surprise to see Bare Minerals launching such fabulous extensions that will only complement the good work their primers and foundations are doing so well. This Face & Body Luminizer is part of the 'Ready' collection (pressed or compact formulas that are easier to manage than their loose powder counterparts,) and offers three shades that can highlight and contour the face. The cream shade works extremely well to highlight cheekbones and the brow arch, whilst the pale pink provides a subtle blush to cheeks; the delicate brown ensures a touch of colour while helping to contour, without being a scary shade that's hidden away until Spring.
If you're going away for Christmas or just need to save space in your work-to-bar makeup bag, then palettes can be your saving grace. This ultimate eye makeup palette from Too Faced has everything you need to get party ready in next to no time, containing three looks in one and a handy mirror to boot. The Too Faced 'Return of Sexy' palette contains an impressive fifteen shades that range from soft, earthy neutrals to subtle pops of colour, as well as the tools you need to create a smokey eye. It also features a full sized Perfect Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner in Perfect Black, all wrapped up in a pretty case that will slip into your clutch bag with ease. You could even use the lighter eyesahdow shades as highlighters to add a touch of radiance to dull (I've-been-at-work-all-day) skin, as well as using the pink and brown shades as blush and bronzer.
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?