As someone that's been obsessed with beauty since a young age, I love the fact that I've got my own corner of the internet where I can talk with people who have the same passion. My bedroom is overflowing with makeup, by bathroom contains more shampoo than I'll ever know what to do with and my friends have a field day when they come round for a cuppa and leave with a swag bag of goodies. Although I feature hundreds of different products on this site every month and make recommendations galore, I think it's important to take a step back and actually reflect upon the difference between this blogging bubble in which I live and the reality of 'every day life'. I'm lucky enough to receive oodles of goodies in the post on a daily basis, much to the distaste of my postman, giving me the opportunity to try and test so I can make honest and well thought through recommendations. A lot of the products aren't exactly affordable or come under the classification of 'impulse purchase,' so I do feel somewhat guilty for being part of a collective that seems to normalise spending hundreds of pounds every month on making themselves look pretty.
I'm a bit of a fragrance fiend, sporting a different scent almost every day of the week. I've always believed that there's no such thing as a signature scent, that perfume should be changed and enjoyed to suit the season and occasion; if you can have fun with your clothes, accessories and makeup then why not the way you smell too? Although I have an ever expanding portfolio that gets updated at the start of every season, occasionally fragrances drop onto my desk that make me think and shake things up a little bit. As we head into gifting season and everyone is on the hunt for that special present, here are three unusual and quite unique incarnations of scent that may provide the perfect answer.
The last few weeks have been somewhat eye-opening for me. I've been blogging for five years in 2015 and boy how things have changed; it used to be simply about writing and sharing things you love, but it's evolved into a monster of influence and passion that brands simply can't get enough of. With vloggers like Zoella taking over the world one book deal at a time, launching their own beauty lines and appearing across billboards nationwide, there's no doubt whatsoever we're in the midst of a new age. This digital driven period is seeing magazines and reality television being shunned in favour of girls in their bedroom, sharing their Primark hauls and talking about their new lipstick. Although the mainstream media are quick to stick the knife in and call us vacuous wastes of space with no real right to an opinion, it's clear to see that this is the type of content women (and men) of all ages want. Put simply: the stats don't lie.
It's predicted that we'll be spending £56.7 billion on the web by 2019. Who would have thought a few years ago that we'd be turning to the t'internet for more than a discounted DVD and rubbish we probably don't need from eBay? It seems that brands such as ASOS have changed the way we shop, opening up huge opportunities for fashion and beauty brands that previously weren't able to reach the masses. Although buying clothing online has become mainstream, there's still an air of caution when it comes to buying beauty from websites rather than high street stores. Admittedly it's much harder to find the perfect shade of foundation or breathe in the scent of a new perfume, but there are some serious advantages to buying your beauty products online. Here are my reasons why buying beauty products online is probably a better idea than you think...
The colder months place huge amounts of pressure on our delicate skin - not only on our faces, but on our upper arms and lower legs. Opaque tights may keep the chill out somewhat, but their very nature still sees the cold winds bite against skin and cause dryness that often resembles scales. (Or is that just me?) Applying a great body lotion at the end of the day before you slip into bed can help replenish lost moisture, soothe tired skin and prevent further damage the following day. Although lightweight moisturisers are great in the morning, it's sometimes troublesome to put on your tights over sticky skin; my preference is to spend some serious time massaging moisturiser into my skin and letting it get to work overnight. Although I have a plethora of body butters, lotions and milks that look after my skin all year round, these three moisturisers are perfect for the winter season and offer something just a little bit different...
Never a truer saying was there than "you don't know what you've got until it's gone." Some months ago I was the lucky recipient of a fancy pants toothbrush that I aptly named 'the Apple of teeth cleaning'. The Philips Sonicare DiamondClean looks and feels like something totally new, taking the traditional electric toothbrush and turning it completely on its head. If there was a gold plated, sports car equivalent in the world of toothbrushes, then this would most certainly be it. It doesn't just look great, but the DiamondClean provides an oral experience to leave you almost speechless - partnered with the most technological advanced system available on the high street today. Unfortunately my pride and joy of the bathroom suddenly stopped working, so I was forced to revert back to an old Oral B that had been lingering at the back of a drawer. The first few days were horrendous, my mouth feeling dirty and the two minute clean leaving my teeth feeling battered; I didn't realise how much I loved my Philips Sonicare DiamondClean until it was gone...
Running a blog is so much fun, but incredibly busy. Although I spend part of my week working from home on forthcoming blog posts, brand negotiations and research for new ideas, I spend two to three days in London. It gives me a chance to meet with brands, find out about new launches, catch up with other bloggers over coffee and generally feel like I'm part of something that extends further than my front door! Because I'm always so busy and never work to a set schedule, it's a nightmare getting parcels delivered when there's someone into receive them. I'm forever getting little red cards or notifications from couriers telling me they've left a package in a shop down the road that's only open three afternoons a week. That's why I love CollectPlus - I can get my online shopping delivered to a newsagent close to my flat (or even on my way home through London,) making it so much simpler to order a dress for a fancy party when I've no time to do anything other than click on ASOS. CollectPlus is really a modern woman's best friend.
During the warmer months it's so easy to create a radiant and glowing complexion; there's nothing more beautiful than sunkissed skin that's absorbed all the goodness from the great outdoors. However, come the colder months our skin is increasingly likely to look dull and flat - central heating, chilly mornings and total lack of Vitamin D can play havoc with the surface of our skin. I'm much more likely to play it minimalist on the makeup front when I'm confident in what's underneath, but from October onwards I'm more than happy to pile on the slap and create a uniform base using all the tools at my disposal. A simple highlighter can be your best friend in the colder months, adding a touch of warmth and radiance to skin that can't be created by anything else; traditionally it may be more of a summer product, but a stash of highlighters could be your secret weapon this winter.
Now in it's tenth season, The X Factor has become one of the most popular programmes on UK television. We love to laugh at the talentless wallies that take to the stage, drool over Cheryl's outfits and start the countdown to Christmas as soon as the live shows begin. This year has been the best series in what seems like a long time, showcasing a huge variation of talent and fresh young things that are vying to be the next pop star. When each contestant steps out in-front of a cheering audience, it's not only their vocals that we're paying attention to - but their clothes, hair and makeup. It seems that the creation of a credible artist isn't just about what comes out of their mouth, but the delivery of the whole package. I was lucky enough to be invited by the official hair sponsor, TRESemmé, to watch the live show, meet the contestants and spend time backstage with head stylist Jamie Stevens. I was surprised at how relaxed everything was, how much freedom the contestants have to wander around, the happiness in the air and the collective passion towards something that's clearly life changing for a lot of people.
Cleansing balms are possibly my favourite thing. Screw glossy and fancy lip products, shimmering eyeshadows or on-trend nail colours, for me it's all about a fabulous cleanser that removes my makeup in one swoop. A great cleanser can mean the difference between clean and sparkling beautiful skin; removing the day's build-up, dirt and impurities is essential for not only healthy looking skin, but in the fight against ageing too. (Have a little read of my post about why removing your makeup before bed is so important.) I'm long been a fan of cleansing balms and creams that I can really get to work on the surface of my skin, massaging the concoction deep into the surface to ensure everything is removed effectively. However, I've recently been introduced to a cleanser that's revolutionised my routine and the way I see makeup removal. Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Melting Cleanser is a luxurious jelly that melts to lift even the most stubborn of makeup, while leaving my skin feeling plump and smooth.
Since I was first made aware of the importance of eyebrows to the overall look of your face, I've been a little bit obsessed with tweezers. For years I purchased cheap and cheerful tools that I'd have to replace every six weeks because they quickly became blunt and ineffective; although I'd always been told Tweezerman were the best in terms of quality, it took me years to part with serious cash for my very own pair. In my opinion, the quality of Tweezerman tweezers is second to none - they're incredibly precise, sharp and easy to use, lasting for as long as you need them to. (I've had my original pair for nearly ten years and they're still going strong!) Although they do oodles of tweezers in hundreds of sizes and designs (the real reason I have about eight pairs that do the same thing,) I was really surprised to find that they do so much more than a bog standard tweezer. When this huge package of goodies landed on my desk I couldn't help but gasp at the sheer variety of products within their repertoire, proving their value as a serious and professional beauty tool brand.
I've never been able to dry my hair properly. For years I used the 'wiggle it about and hope for the best' technique, soon after followed by the 'add a nozzle and turn up the heat' approach. I've spent hours working with hairdressers, attempting to understand how they always get my barnet looking perfect (and make it look super easy,) to no avail. I have a fancy bit of equipment, oodles of products, more brushes than Boots and bounds of enthusiasm, but until I spent a little time in Aveda's flagship salon with one of their super-dooper stylists it didn't make a blind bit of difference. However, after a hands-on approach to hair styling and simple tips that I can implement at home, I think I've finally cracked it. Here are the ten tips I've learned to ensure the perfect super smooth, yet bouncy, blowdry.
Skincare can be a complicated business. With millions of lotions, potions, serums and treatments promising to give you the skin you've always dreamt of, it's hard to cut through the noise and actually find out what will work for you. It's not only essential to understand your skin type and needs, but pay special attention to the specific ageing concerns that may be relevant to you as the years pass by. B. is a collection of premium skincare, created by industry experts to help women find the products that are right for them - clearing away any clutter and confusion, providing guidance and inspiration via key stages that relate to the needs of our skin in our 20's, 30's, 40's and now 50's. B. offers a premium experience at a mainstream price; all their products are packed with a high concentration of active ingredients to ensure great results without breaking the bank. This autumn B. launches its first ever complete new skincare phase, Skin Phase 4 B. Nourished, which is clinically proven to reduce wrinkles by 11% in just 8 weeks.*
Sometimes I feel like I'm boring myself, continually singing the praises of Urban Decay and metaphorically shaking their hand on a job well done. They just keep launching bigger and better things, recognising the success of sub-brands and individual products in order to further capitalise on their success. There's no denying that Urban Decay's 'Naked' products have become somewhat iconic, spurning copycats and collections 'inspired' by their understated beauty; there's not a beauty enthusiast that doesn't lust after practically every single launch. Just in time for Christmas, this special limited edition palette contains all of my favourite Urban Decay products in a handy case that's perfect for weekend away or within hand luggage for those winter flights abroad.
"I have a real love affair with lipstick. It gives you more power." Francois Nars is the man behind the brand that's revolutionised the beauty industry in more ways than you can ever know. Now celebrating his 20th anniversary, Francois is commemorating with the launch of a 40-piece 'Audacious' lipstick collection which takes the iconic brand right back to its roots; he launched NARS way back in 1994 as a 12-piece lipstick offering, so it seems only fitting to celebrate such a milestone in homage to the product that started it all. The collection includes every colour imaginable, including delicate nudes, pinky tints, coral tones, bold reds, berry shades and some truly innovative cococtions that are incredibly difficult to categorise. Formulated to provide the most incredible pigment, variety of colour, longevity and comfort, NARS Audacious lipsticks offer lipstick addicts everything they could need and more.
Christmas may be the time we willingly stuff ourselves silly with mince pies, Quality Street and warm mugs of mulled wine, but it can also be an incredibly stressful period that's filled with worry. It's not cheap filling the cupboards with treats, decorating the tree and shopping until your feet fall off - come January we all have a little festive guilt about spending too much on things we probably didn't need, having to make the first pay packet of the year last an extra long time. If you could get cash back for all your Christmas purchases and reduce that sinking feeling when the bank statement drops through your letterbox come January, it would be a logical thing to do right? Well help is at hand from TopCashback this festive season, the UK’s most generous cash-back site.
If we paid as much attention to our makeup tools as we do our makeup, then I'm sure we'd all look practically perfect every single day. Great tools are the foundation of any routine, as they really do mean the difference between a face full of makeup and a face that looks flawlessly finished. There are many makeup brushes that have touched down on my desk, but Zoeva are the first brand that had me drooling and stroking eyeshadow brushes like they were small pets. Their story is fabulous, hailing from Germany after their founder Zoe became frustrated at the high price tags associated with great quality tools - she started to produce her own using factories in the Far East, selling them on eBay before the demand just became too great. Six years later and Zoeva are a huge international brand that are just starting to gain recognition in the UK; the quality is amazing and the variety of over forty brushes ensures there's a tool for every single need.
We've all done it - come in from a really long day or a big night out and fallen asleep without taking our makeup off. The introduction of face wipes was supposed to curb this trend and help women with their skincare routine in an easy and efficient way, but realistically they remove very little product and still leave our face covered in a day's worth of build-up. However, is sleeping in your makeup really that bad? What problems can a little bit of makeup really cause if left on while we slumber? You'll be surprised at how much damage (both short and long-term) that leaving your makeup on can do; even going to sleep without washing your face effectively on a non-makeup day can be detrimental and cause oodles of problems for your skin. Here are my key reasons why sleeping in your makeup is really not a good idea... It may make you think twice this weekend.
When you're surrounded by tissues, your head is banging like the base of a hardcore beat and your chest is full of gunky green stuff, it's easy to slip underneath the duvet and wish away the day. Although a boxset of Gossip Girl and a box of biscuits may seem like the only way to make you feel better, there are lots of fab products and tricks you can use to ensure an easy route to recovery. Here are five of my must-have products to help you out of your sickbed and back into the busy streets of the city with a spring in your step.
The countdown to Christmas is well and truly on. With only a few weeks to go until the big day, the street lights have been turned on and shopping is already underway - as is the planning of glittery outfits for the impending party season. Every year Elegant Touch seem to come up with cuter and cuter ways in which beauty enthusiasts can capture the festive spirit, and this Christmas is no exception. This season there are a number of different designs to choose from, including the more understated 'jumper' influence right through to full-on reindeer nails; although I'm not a particular fan of falsies, these certainly make me question whether or not I could put up with the odd sensation in return for some festive cheer.
Coconut oil is becoming increasingly popular in both food and beauty applications, due to increased research into its benefits over more commonly used oils (such as olive and sunflower.) The sweet smelling substance contains a huge amount of vitamins and minerals - including Choline, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Iron, Stearic and Lauric Acid - which help to nourish the body both inside and out. Coconut Oil can be bought in most large supermarkets and health food shops, with coconut brand Vita Coco now launching their own version to capitalise on the success of their coconut water drinks. If you're making a purchase make sure you look for the words 'virgin', 'organic' or 'cold pressed' to ensure you're getting the best quality; non-virgin oil is refined through a process that removes most of its beneficial components, so it's not going to offer the nourishing properties you're after. While providing a sweet and nutty flavour to food, coconut oil also has a whole host of benefits for the body; for ideas on how to get the most from your virgin oil I've outlined a few key uses that may have you a little addicted to little tubs of sweet smelling white stuff.
Every time I hit the snooze button on my alarm, I know I'm gonna regret it half an hour later when I simply don't have enough time to do my hair. Although a few more minutes in bed may seem like a great idea at the time, they inevitably have a negative knock-on effect and leave us rushing out the door still attempting to apply mascara and pull up our tights. I'm not a morning person and I never have been, always struggling to get my backside out of bed and on with my day; however, I've managed to perfect the art of getting ready in minimal time thanks to time saving tricks and multi-tasking. Here are ten ways I save time in the morning while not scrimping on my beauty regime - and you never know, they could help you get a few more minutes in bed too.
Looking after your barnet can be troublesome, time consuming and confusing. With so many products to choose from (all claiming to give us the hair of a Kardashian,) it's hard to understand what we should be looking out for and what will really help us in the follicle department. Although there are tonnes of volumising shampoos, miracle growth serums and treatments that claim to repair all the damage ever done by hair straighteners in only eight minutes, there are actually loads of surprising things that are great for our hair and much more accessible. All you have to do is open a cupboard, look in the fridge or take a step into your bathroom and your locks could be looking fabulous in no time. Here are my top five surprising things that are great for your hair.
As the nights draw in, the mornings become colder and central heating plays havoc with our skin, it becomes more important than ever to look after ourselves. We all need to use slightly different products in the winter months, helping to replenish lost moisture and nourish extra dry skin that's caused by the hash winds. Although many moisturisers do the job effectively and can take us right through from January to December without a problem, sometimes it's nice to have something a little tougher that can really get to work on problematic areas. Clinique's Deep Comfort range of body products is fortified with Vitamin E to help protect against irritants, while the rich and creamy texture provides instant relief for even the driest of skins.
One of the best parts of my job as a beauty blogger is discovering brands, products and concepts that are unknown to most. With so many brands being so visible on our high streets, in our department stores and within much read magazines, it's sometimes hard to turn your attention to a product that's somewhat understated. Although hundreds of brands are launched every year, with most claiming to revolutionise your life or provide a magic formula that will wipe years off your face, very few are actually worth switching to or parting with hard earned cash for - however, I've found five that really are. You may not have ever heard of any of these brands, but all of them need a little space in your life... A space that you won't regret giving up.
One of the most hated beauty related tasks any woman has to undertake is a visit to the hairdresser. Although it's supposed to be enjoyable, relaxing and leave you feeling like a million bucks, that lingering appointment can cause beads of sweat and the feeling of dread. There's nothing worse than asking for a trim and coming out with a pixie crop, or requesting subtle highlights and the result being chunky bleached sections that wouldn't be out of place in 1992; it's so hard to find a hairdresser that you trust, that understands you and listens to requests while providing recommendations and input. However, over the last year I've managed to find five fab salons that I would return to without question for everything from a restyle to a quick blowdry - here are my top five picks of the best places to get your hair done in London.
Lollipops may make you think of childhood parties, Britney Spears in her heyday and buying Chupa Chups from the corner shop, but there's no doubt they evoke a feeling of fun. Lollipops are a sure fire way to bring a smile to anybody's face, which is why they're so often used as rewards after painful injections or dentists appointments. Flickable lipglosses aim to offer that same sense of fun and mischief while ensuring glossy lips are sweet and kissable; their super cute lollipop packs are certainly unique and will definitely appeal to our inner child. Available in five different colours and 'flavours' (including Do You Pink I'm Sexy, Better Off Red and Toffee Talk,) the range isn't tacky and doesn't scream 'a great gift for a six year old.'
In recent months beauty boxes have been under-delivering and repeatedly disappointing subscribers. The buzz around the concept and the level of anticipation before a monthly arrival has been replaced with discontent and the need for something more. Although concepts such as My Little Box are booming in the UK, the original beauty subscription services definitely need to give themselves a kick up the bum in order to satisfy their audience. The first step in the right direction is definitely Glossybox's partnership with iconic British department store Harvey Nichols... Launching online next week, the box includes some incredible brands and amazing products that won't disappoint when it lands on your doormat. With a value of over £150.00, the box is oozing with some of my favourite and most recommended beauty must-haves as well as some great new discoveries that will leave you wanting more.
If there's a look I love more than any other right now, it's a cleverly constructed and somewhat understated cat flick. There's something incredibly glamorous, retro and stylish about winged eyeliner that makes the wearer look uber chic with very little need to do anything else. A flick of black on the edge of the lash line can be worn with understated makeup or a powerful red lip, a simple pony or an extravagant offering of curls - it's universal and universally appealing. Although it's seen on every celebrity, blogger and it-girl going, the cat flick can be hard to create if you're not quite sure what you're doing… Here are five easy steps to have it perfected in no time at all.
Ever since I can remember, the first official sign that Christmas is on its way isn't the turning on of Oxford Street's lights or the debut of The X Factor's charity single, but the jingling greatness of a tune that sends shivers down my spine. Holidays are comin', holidays are comin', holidays are comin'! There's something so iconic and fuzzy feeling about the Coca-Cola truck, its glittering lights and cheeky Santa having a sip of something brown and fizzy - so it's no wonder that OPI are capitalising on this great piece of branding for their very own Christmas collection. You can nab your very own polar bear and festive topcoat, or invest in four shades that would work perfectly for the party season... All of which can be enjoyed with a cold glass of Coke.
Rarely does a makeup collection leave me speechless, but upon unwrapping Bobbi Brown's Christmas offering I was definitely a little lost for words. Inspired by vintage makeup collections and dusty brown textures, there's something a little bit 'Mad Men' about the appropriately named 'Scotch on the Rocks' collection. Including an incredible eyeshadow palette that's almost too good to use, a delicious highlighter that's perfect for the party season, and a collection of lip and nail colours that will add a touch of vintage sparkle, this is definitely a portfolio worth splashing out on. Frequently I feel the Bobbi Brown seasonal collections are overpriced and don't contain shades that are worth investing in, but this is everything a makeup addict could dream of and more.
After a week off (partial fun, partial unavoidable sickness) I've realised how much I thoroughly enjoy writing and maintaining a blog. It's so nice to have readers still coming back and perusing old posts even when I've not been up to adding new content, leaving genuinely engaged comments and thanking for advice. It's amazing to have tweets from people saying they can't wait for me to get back to it, that they miss my site and they're on the edge of their (virtual) seats waiting for more. Although I've felt all the creativity and enthusiasm flow out of me in the last week, I've also found my thirst to get stuck back in has come swooping back in the last day or two; there's nothing quite like writing a blog. Not only does it provide a platform for self-expression, for you to be creative and connect with like-minded individuals, but it teaches so many skills - including social media management, photography and coding. So many of my friends and readers say they 'should really start a blog' but never actually go through with it, so this is that kick up the bum maybe many of you need to take the plunge - beacuse everybody's got a blog in them.
So far I've documented my experience with hair extensions, told you five things you need to think about before taking the plunge and now it's time to discuss essential products that will make your life so much easier if you do decide to go ahead. Hair extensions are anything but easy to manage - no matter what someone tells you, they're not an extension of your existing hair. They're more like a foreign body that's attached to you that you have to learn to tame, control and style like a pet. After much trial and error I've decided there are five things that you simply can't be without if you want to ensure your (hair) life is as easy, pain and tangle-free as possible. Although I love my extensions, here are the tools that I rely on every day to keep them in check.
I'm big into highlighters. So much do I love a good highlighter that I have a whole makeup drawer dedicated to some of my favorites, in every format imaginable. However, when I first glimpsed at the Urban Decay Naked Illuminated highlighter during a meeting with House of Fraser earlier this month I nearly drooled with excitement. Not only does the curved pan look amazing, but it's packaged fabulously in a handy compact with a hidden brush compartment. This isn't for those of you that are wary of a little sparkle and shine though, as the powder contains a serious amount of shimmer. Although it sits much more subtly on the skin than I anticipated, this is definitely one for the party season as it will help every festive fairy sparkle.
A slick of red lipstick can help every woman feel confident, have a renewed sense of self-belief and ooze strength. There's something about the powerful shade that makes men weak at the knees, women sit up and take notice and even old ladies on the street crack a smile. Red is the hue of passion, love and romance, so there's no doubt it can have an incredible impact on your overall makeup look as well as your wardrobe. Although many fear the colour, it's actually incredible easy to wear a red lip - you just need to know which one and how!
Antonia Burrell is an extraordinary woman. Not only does she have an incredible background as a facialist and skin expert, a celebrity waiting list as long as Chiltern Firehouse and a product range to boot, but she doesn't look a day over 25. (She's not 25 FYI, but it's rude to talk about a lady's age.) I've used a couple of her products in the last few months, including her fabulous Cleansing Oil which leaves my skin feeling super soft and supple, but until I visited her for a facial last week I didn't really understand the true power of both her hands and the stuff in these delicious dark glass bottles. I'm lucky enough to have experienced hundreds of facials in my time in the beauty industry, but never have I felt so relaxed and immediately revitalised as I did when walking out of her practice in London's Notting Hill. She really is a wonder woman that's able to identify issues and help to rectify them (for me it was stress and tension around my eyes, as well as fine lines on my forehead,) almost immediately, but it's her products that make the at-home skincare journey all the more pleasurable and effective.