Having churned out an eye-watering 582 posts so far in 2014, it's easy to forget what I've covered and what posts really resonated with you lovely lot. I'm so often writing at the speed of light and moving quickly on to the next thing that I don't get a chance to pause, reflect and re-read. Having had a bit of a session flicking backwards and looking at old posts from the past twelve months, I've handpicked twenty of my favourites to highlight once more - whether they were well received, provided useful tips, discussed something controversial or simply were fun to write, here are my top twenty favourite blog posts of 2014. I hope you enjoy them as much as me.
These last 365 days have flown by faster than I ever could have imagined. It seems like only yesterday I was sipping champagne and reflecting upon a year that threw everything I knew into the air, leaving me to pick up the pieces. In stark contrast, 2014 has been pretty incredible and has dealt me challenges and exciting projects that I could revel in. In terms of blogging, there have been many changes within an industry that's ever evolving and trying as hard as possible to find it's place - the last twelve months have definitely been positive for the bloggersphere, albeit difficult to navigate. After 581 blog posts, three new cameras, 154 coffee catch-ups and four celebrity interviews, here are the lessons I've learned during the most exciting year in blogging yet.
With the strike of midnight on the 31st December comes the inevitable clinking of champagne glasses, smooches with loved ones and party popper residue in your hair. Although the following morning may also include a hangover, there's something about waking up on January 1st and feeling like it's a fresh start - a chance to commence anew with a fresh perspective. I'm awful at making and keeping resolutions, believing it's more of an opportunity to make subtle life changes that will really make a difference. If you know there's something in it for you, then it's so much easier to integrate that small change into your daily routine. As we approach the end of 2014, here are ten beauty resolutions that are both easy to keep and will ensure you look fab all year long.
I have a love-hate relationship with No7. Some products I adore and can't get enough of, whereas others leave me bitterly disappointed and wondering where it all went wrong. They've launched some kick-ass mascaras in their time, but they've also released some damp squibs that do little more for my lashes than an actual damp squib. Happily though, their latest launch is really rather pleasing - providing definition, length and a touch of volume. 'Midnight Lash' mascara is pretty fab for the party season, but works equally well as a daytime treat for lashes by leaving them looking naturally full and your eyes wide awake.
Paris is famous for its love locks that adorn every stretch of bridge along the river bank; lovers come from all over the world to place their own inscribed padlock on a bridge and throw the key into the river, symbolising their everlasting commitment. So much has this been a tradition that the Parisian authorities have had to start reinforcing the metal bridges because of the excess weight, requesting the use of a selfie instead! The Chloe fragrance house is also the epitome of Parisian chic, themselves being inspired by the locks that represent the city. This January they launch a new scent within their repertoire, simply entitled 'Love Story' and clearly inspired by the love padlocks on the bridge of the Pont des Arts. With clean and fresh notes of neroli, orange blossom and stephanotis, the scent is delightfully chic with just a touch of something sexy.
There's nothing worse than fixing your style in place, only to choke on the revolting smell of hairspray that lingers on everything and sticks at the back of your throat. Hairspray may be practical and offer the staying power you need, but some of them have the most hideous scents that leave me running from the room to gasp for air. Totally new on my radar is Fudge Urban's sweet smelling alternative: Iced Raspberry & Vanilla Hairspray. Mmmm. It literally does smell delicately of raspberry and vanilla, with just a tiny touch of that traditional 'hairspray' scent that we know and begrudgingly love - a tiny touch I can deal with, but a huge dollop I cannot.
You've probably seen this little gem of a camera floating around the bloggerphere, popping up on Twitter and all over Instagram. It seems to be hot property right now, sitting pretty within the homes of some of my favourite fashion bloggers and vloggers - Olympus have certainly done a great job at getting this piece of tech out there into the hands of people who would appreciate it most. Although I use a Nikon DLSR to take blog photos, it's incredibly chunky and totally impractical for taking out; it's basic in terms of functionality and sometimes it takes ten or twenty shots to get a great one. However, the new Olympus Pen E-PL7 Lite ensures photography is both professional and fun while on-the-go, combining some amazing features to make this the ultimate camera for bloggers and photography enthusiasts alike.
If there was one thing I'd pay a small fortune to rectify, then it would be the dark circles and discolouration underneath my eyes. As soon as I have a dodgy nights sleep it appears underneath my eyes like a bad reminder of a nightmare; there's no escaping the grey tones, dull skin and sagging area that meets the top of my cheeks. I'm always on the hunt for eye creams that will not only improve the appearance of this delicate skin area over time, but also provide instant relief and help reduce my dependence upon heavy duty concealer. I've been trying out a number of eye creams over the last few months, but this little gem from Lulu's skincare range 'Time Bomb' has beaten them all hands down. Black Ops Dark Circle Rescue eye cream is lightweight and quickly absorbed, leaving under-eye circles feeling tighter and instantly brighter.
Merry Christmas to one and all! I hope you're having a fabulous day, surrounded by loved ones and mince pies, and that Santa left you something special under the tree. Although Christmas is a time for family to get together and show how much they care, many people aren't quite as lucky. This special kind of year can be incredibly hard for those facing difficult circumstances, whether or not it's facing poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, mental health problems or suicidal thoughts. On this day where many of us are lucky enough to have a warm home, full belly and pile of presents we probably don't need, why not do a little good and support an amazing charity. Here are five that are extremely close to my heart and who I'll be supporting this festive season.
It's commonly understood that UV exposure, smoking, drinking and a poor skincare routine can aid the appearance of fine lines, but did you know your sleep position could be doing just as much damage? We spend more time sleeping than doing anything else, so it's surprising that we're not all a bit more au fait with the potential damage it could be doing to our delicate skin. If you've ever woken up with lines or indentation marks from your pillow, then this is a little preview of the havoc sleeping face down could be doing to your skin. Although it's not practical to spend every nighttime session laying completely still for the rest of your life, it is worth understanding how certain positions could cause skin issues.
This has got to be one of the most beautiful palettes I have ever had the pleasure of holding. When I first saw it way back in October, my heart skipped a beat and I instantly cooed over the opulent design. Packaged like a mini journal, this extravagant palette includes everything you could need to get ready for a big night out - four eyeshadows, two lip colours and a delicate blush to provide just a flush of colour. It also includes mini brushes to ensure topping up on the go is easy as pie, while the little tassle makes it feel just a touch vintage. It's no surprise it took the number one position within my top ten beauty Christmas gifts of 2014! At £69.00 this is certainly an indulgence (and one that few of us could justify,) but on this last day of Blogvent I want to give this beautiful work of art to one of my fabulous readers. If you want to give it a new home, all you have to do is enter the competition and keep your fingers crossed...
Every week there are hundreds of new products launched onto the beauty market, meeting every need and desire you could possibly imagine. With so much attention to fight for, we often return to brands we know and love rather than testing the waters with a relatively unknown name; however, often it's the brands that are a little under-the-radar that have the most to offer. This year has been incredible for newness, but I've no doubt that 2015 holds even more in store for some brands that are already pushing the boundaries and causing me to get in quite the tizz. I've handpicked the ten I expect to see incredible things from next year, holding out hopes for huge launches and amazing growth - these are brands that deserved to be recognised and hailed for their innovation, quality formulations or pure genius.
Budget beauty is definitely making a comeback, having created a huge amount of buzz within the bloggersphere in 2014. Makeup Revolution definitely lead that trend, offering a huge range of fun products that perform while not costing the earth; although luxurious packaging and a designer brand name may be incredibly appealing, for most it's not an option to fill their makeup bags with fancy tools. I love the fact that Makeup Revolution doesn't scrimp on quality, offering products that really do work well and provide what you need within a budget; their packaging is innovative and fun, while their 'dupes' are great for those of us that would adore a £40.00 eyeshadow palette but just can't bring ourselves to part with that kind of cash. On this 23rd day of Blogvent, my friends over at Makeup Revolution have handpicked an incredible collection of goodies just for one lucky reader; including a huge selection of new products, some old favourites and even their debut skincare line, this is one prize not to pass by.
As we get older, we all need to take a little more care of ourselves - both inside and out. A balanced and healthy diet becomes even more important (as does regular exercise and bounds of fun,) but sometimes it's hard to ensure your body is getting all it needs to perform at its best. As I well and truly hit my thirties I'm increasingly concerned with looking after not only my skin, hair and nails, but my internal health too; it may be less obvious, but our organs and senses also need a little nurturing as we age. Seven Seas have developed Perfect7 Woman to tackle all those concerns and help women of all ages to look and feel great from the inside out. Targeting seven different concern areas, these supplements are designed to provide you with nutrients that help maintain normal skin and nails, marine oils to help maintain normal heart and brain function, as well as a blend of vitamins and minerals to help contribute to reducing tiredness and fatigue.
Benefit certainly had a big year when it came to launches - from the beautiful Majorette cream blush to the controversial love-it-or-loathe-it They're Real Liner, there's definitely been a lot of major things landing onto their counters nationwide. Still one of my favourite brands, with all this newness it's easy to forget the classic and great performing products that don't get as much attention. On this 22nd day of Blogvent I'm giving one lucky person a Complexion Confections skincare kit worth £39.50 (including Facial Emulsion, Eye Cream, Facial Serum & Porefessional Primer) and Sweet BADitude mascara kit (containing BADGal Lash mascara in two sizes) worth £18.50, so you can get back to basics and re-discover some classics. Their skincare is really rather fab and definitely worth checking out, while BADGal mascara has somewhat 'cult classic' status. If you want to be in with a chance of winning these must-haves, just enter via the widget below...
Working with brands and PRs can be incredibly fruitful, providing the knowledge and access to products that allows me to write this blog on a daily basis. Although I could write to eternity about beauty without ever speaking to a brand representative, it does make it easier to make this an interesting and varied place to visit. However, with the growth of blogs and online platforms, PR has had to evolve to take into consideration the need for instantaneous information. We no longer wait six months to read what shades of lipstick will be on-trend in Vogue, nor are we willing to settle for finding out details of the new MAC collection only two weeks before it hits stores. With the internet holding an infinite amount of information, it takes only a search engine and a click of a button to find out all the details you could ever need; with brands launching products internationally, it's not hard to find out about the 'next big thing' months before it's due to hit our shores... This is precisely why embargoes no longer work in the digital age.
How many times have you been out and about, faffing away on Twitter and uploading pictures to Instagram, when you realise your smartphone battery is about to die? I rely on my phone for practically everything - it's my diary, my social network, my train timetable checker, my contact with brands and clients... If my battery dies unexpectedly I'm basically screwed. Although I have many devices to charge-up on the go, they're mostly chunky and require me to remember to charge them up and put them in my bag in the first place. However, thanks to this genius invention I'll never be left short of charge ever again: it's a makeup bag with a handy charger hidden inside! Compatible with most smartphones thanks to the inclusion of an adaptor, it's not chunky or heavy - meaning you don't need any additional room in your handbag. The makeup bag itself is made from the finest leather, smells delicious, feels amazing and comes in a multitude of colours.
Some products aren't worth even trying to justify - they're simply indulgent non-essentials that we lust over and wish to appear on our bathroom shelves. Jo Malone's Pomegranate Noir Bath Oil definitely sits within that category, offering a decadent and vintage inspired glass bottle that would make a much-loved gift or treat for yourself. The scent is to-die-for, offering addictive notes of Pomegranate, Casablanca Lily and Guaiacwood that combine to provide a rich and invigorating experience. A few drops of the oil added to a steaming hot bath is a luxurious alternative to bubbles, providing an understated scent that lingers on the skin without leaving a greasy film or residue. At £40.00 a bottle, this is certainly not an impulse purchase - but it is worth splashing a bit of Christmas cash on as a little treat to yourself.
One of my favourite hair launches of the year definitely has to be from Dove. I never thought I'd type those words, knowing their old product line was a bit naff and did less for my hair than three days at Reading festival, but their Advanced Series really is quite fab. Including three different 'sub products' that aim to target those that lack volume, are concerned with smoothness or want to combat the signs of ageing, the products are both luxurious yet affordable. They really do help hair to look and feel fab, without weighing it down or causing dryness. If you haven't had the pleasure of trying them yet, then on this twentieth day of Blogvent I have a special treat just for you...
They say that our eyes are the window to our soul; a simple glance has the power to reveal so much more than the spoken word. As a nation we spend millions of pounds on beauty products helping to enhance the eye and create a perfect flutter; from eye drops to mascara and eyeshadow to liner, the focus is always placed on creating a gaze that lingers. Now the answer to beautiful sparkling eyes may have finally arrived, with the launch of new 1-Day Acuvue Define Lenses for contact lens wearers. Already a hugely established beauty category in Asia (where beauty lenses are worn by a staggering 3.6 million women,) these innovative lenses have been created especially for the Western eye, and are set to become a beauty staple here too.
It's been named as the most awesome animated film of all time and has created a stampede for anything adorned with it's name. Frozen is undoubtedly the film of 2014, having been featured on everything from The X Factor to adverts for car maintenance and much in-between. I have to admit before last weekend I was a Frozen virgin, but after sitting down with a cup of tea to see what all the fuss was about I wasn't left bitterly disappointed. I'm definitely an Aladdin and Little Mermaid kind of girl, but there's certainly something a little bit special about this latest Disney movie. Unsurprisingly the masterminds behind the story are capitalising on its success in every way imaginable, so these cute scented lip balms are hitting stores just in time for the festive season; they make a great addition to any stocking this Christmas - for both kids and grown-ups alike. Available in six characters and corresponding flavours/scents, they're surprisingly delicious as well as being incredibly affordable.
LBQ's Blogvent Calendar Day 18: WIN The X Factor Look (Via A Huge Bundle of TRESemme Hair Products!)
The X Factor may be over for another year (all hail King Haenow!) but that doesn't mean we can't channel our inner star and ensure our hair looks fabulous all year round. Thanks to the official hair sponsor of the show, TRESemme, you could be coiffing and styling your way to next year's bootcamp and beyond. On this eighteenth day of Blogvent I have a huge bundle of hair goodies that will ensure your every need is met this festive season. Including shampoos, conditioners, styling products, sprays, treatments and oils, there's nothing else you'll need to get your barnet in tip top condition to start 2015 in style. (Apart from maybe head stylist Jamie Stevens!)
Cleansers, toners and moisturisers are ten a penny. Most claim to revolutionise your skincare regime and leave your complexion glowing, when the result is often something altogether different. Investing in a regular facial can be incredibly beneficial, helping your skin to soak up nutrients and feel invigorated; I always walk out of my facialist's office feeling like my cheeks are under my eyebrows and my skin is five years younger. However, facials are both time consuming and expensive, preventing them from being part of most of our lives for anything other than a luxury or yearly treat. The new YOSO Pro deep cleansing system provides the benefit of a mini facial every single day, from the comfort of your own home, in only five minutes. The simple and easy-to-use device really helps to leave your skin feeling cleaner than ever before, topped off with a moisturiser boosting function that will ensure your skin drinks up essential hydration like you've never experienced. Simple, effective, innovative - a new must-have that revolutionises skincare.
There's no denying that scent evokes memories and emotions like nothing else imaginable. A beautiful fragrance can take us back to a moment of love, a laughter-filled childhood holiday or even a comforting reminder of a grandparent. Valeur Absolue fragrances harness that emotion and provide scents that can help create a state of wellbeing. The beautifully constructed and delicious perfumes are made from the highest quality ingredients and include precious stones in every bottle. What makes them unique is the addition of essential oils, a beta-endorphin booster and oligo-elements to ensure they're bursting with well-being as well as a great lingering fragrance.
When it comes to finishing a look and setting makeup in place, there's nothing more equipped to do the job than a dusting of transparent powder. It's always been a staple in my makeup bag, well before I started using foundation or investing in heavy duty concealer - it's a great way of removing shine, creating a uniformed finish and making me feel 'done'. Although it frequently gets a hard time as a product designed for grannies that can leave your complexion looking cakey, if used correctly it really is a life saver. I literally cannot go without a light dusting over my base to set my makeup, even in the height of summer when dewy finishes and glowy radiance are all the range. However, do you need to spend a fortune on translucent powder to ensure a great finish, or can you get away with a budget brand that will do the job just as well?
The aisles of Tesco are filled with more than mince pies, sparkling wine and frozen turkeys at this time of year - they're also bursting at the seams with beauty goodies and treats for your face and body. With some well known brands including Sleek, Bourjois and Maybelline, to Tesco exclusives including BD Trade Secrets, there's something for everybody and every budget. On this sixteenth day of Blogvent (how is the month going so quickly?) Beauty at Tesco have given me a goodie bag that's bursting with beauty treats to help you look your best and get party ready this festive season. Including a THX Total Hair Experts 'Bubble Hair Wand' to make creating party waves and curles efortless, a selection of BD Trade Secrets make-up (lipstick, mascara, eye-liner, primer, foundation) to help you look flawless and Treacle Moon pampering body treats to get you in the mood pre-party, this bundle is worth over £55.00.
The foundation to any great style is healthy looking, full and strong hair. With a huge amount of heat styling, straightening abuse and over-zealous application of product occurring in every bedroom across the country, there's no doubt that it's playing havoc with our barnets. The level of damage has never been higher, with the demand for fuller and more voluminous hair being top of our wish lists. Combined with poor diets, high levels of stress, hormonal imbalances and busy lifestyles, our hair is the first thing that suffers. Healthy hair grows in a continuous cyclic pattern and if this is disturbed for any reason it can impact on the health of the hair; Viviscal offers a three-step hair programme that aims to nourish from within, prepare the scalp and protect at the source to ensure this cycle is not interrupted. As the number one selling hair growth supplement in the USA (and voted as the Best Hair Supplement in the UK by Harper’s Bazaar magazine,) it was about time I put it to the test myself to see if it could make a difference to me.
Every day this month I'm giving away something fabulous - whether or not it's an uber exclusive goodie bag, fabulous discount code, unique opportunity or so much more. Today I want to reward more than just a handful of you lovely readers, so I've teamed up with a relatively new brand, Yours Truly Organics, to give fifty of you a little taster of something lovely. They say: "Our philosophy is that beautiful skin is achievable using ingredients that are in the best interest of your health. So whilst our products are beautiful on the outside, they are also beautiful on the inside." Yours Truly Organics are giving FIFTY readers a mini sample kit so they can try their Take It Away Gel Cleanser, Balancing Toner, Fix Me! Repairing Serum and Face Base Face Balm. If you want to claim your completely FREE sample kit that contains four fab products, just visit their website via this link and enter the code LBQXMAS at the checkout. (It also includes free post and packaging, so you can experience something a little fancy with absolutely no cost to yourself whatsoever.) Be quick though, as after the fifty samples have gone they're gone - no second chances!
One of the best bits about Christmas for me is opening my stocking on Christmas morning and finding out what random bits of loveable tat my relatives have found. There's always something designed for a ten year old, a random kitchen gadget and a tonne of festive chocolate - but what I'd really like to discover at the bottom of my sack is one of these little gems. I've handpicked five of my favourite mini gifts (all £10.00 and under) that would make the best beauty stocking fillers for any lady in your life. Including some of my favourite brnads, my snappy gift guide may encourage you to treat yourself too! Have a look and let me know what you think...
Don't forget to subscribe to me on YouTube for lots more video stuff in 2015.
Don't forget to subscribe to me on YouTube for lots more video stuff in 2015.
Some brands come with a little sprinkling of magic, and there's no doubt that Aromatherapy Associates is one of those. They've been the leading experts within aromatherapy for over 30 years and have some incredible products on offer that every woman needs in her bathroom. The founders say: "Our experience has shown that essential oils are extremely effective at enhancing the state of our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing." As soon as I saw these little stars of greatness I swooned. How lovely would it be to find one of these in your stocking on Christmas morning? They're elegant, striking, extremely useful and contain exactly what you'll need come Boxing Day - a little vial of Inner Strength oil to provide a little boost after the family have been round and stuffed their way through the Queen's speech.
BB Creams definitely had a moment in 2013, but since then they've been overtaken by CC and DD Creams as well as formulas that claim to have been made using NASA technology. The makeup world never sits still long enough for us to catch up or feel chuffed we've discovered something we love; it moves on at the speed of light looking for the next big thing. Well, I hate to break it to you but I'm still totally in love with BB Creams and I don't see that love fading any time soon. I adore the rich texture that feels like nourishing skincare, provides fabulous coverage, wears well and helps inject a touch of radiance into my skin. Although many cheaper brands aren't actually offering much more than a tinted moisturiser under the guise of a BB Cream, if you pick your products right I promise you'll be onto something golden. With a festively appropriate name, this little wonder from Givenchy is my new favourite: Givenchy Hydra Sparkling Nude Look BB Cream offers me great coverage, a practically flawless complexion and a result that lasts all day long.
LBQ's Blogvent Calendar DAY 13: WIN A Selection of Deciem Products (Plus Exclusive 20% Discount Code)
You may not know the name Deciem, but you're sure to know the products that come under their repertoire. Since their 2013 launch they've been making waves in the beauty industry, launching products that are truly innovative and push the boundaries of what we previously thought possible. From the Fountain supplements that can provide every amount of goodness imaginable (including The Beauty Molecule, The Super Green Molecule, The Geek Molecule and many more,) to the Grow Gorgeous cleansing conditioners that changed the way we washed our hair, the Hand Chemistry best-selling anti-ageing hand concentrates and Inhibitif body products that help to reduce hair growth, there's something for every beauty need - and so much more to come in 2015. Their products are not only best sellers (Boots couldn't keep them in stock!) but award winners too, being recognised by the industry for bringing real innovation and performance to shelves previously stocked with fluff. On this thirteenth day of Blogvent I have a fabulous edit of Deciem products for you to enjoy, handpicked to give you a taster of the brands they have to offer.
There's a massive misconception that great skincare has to cost the earth. We don't have to part with hundreds of pounds for a great skincare routine, as technology is advancing and ensuring results are achievable at a much lower price point than was previously available. 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. launched 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.* Following on from my first post which provided an in-depth introduction to the products, my Mum (54) and Nan (82) have been putting the trio to the test over the last few weeks and it's safe to say they're both in love. Here's what they had to say about B.Skincare and why they've already been telling all their friends about this magical trio.
Bare Minerals have to be one of my all-time fave brands. Not only are their mineral foundations second-to-none (they were the original after all) and their colours perfectly matched to every skintone, but their makeup is luxurious and practical at the same time. They're definitely one of the brands that I reach to on a daily basis - as I write I'm wearing their concealer, eyeshadow, mascara and gloss - because the quality and performance is fantastic. If you haven't tried any of their products before (why not?) then make sure you put 'visit a Bare Minerals counter' at number one on your New Years Resolutions list this January. Because they're so blooming fantastic, on this twelfth day of Blogvent I've got a super special bundle of Bare Minerals treats to give away that would be welcome by lovers of the brand and newbies alike.
I don't know about you, but the sheer quantity of gift guides and Christmas edits can be a little overwhelming at this time of year. It seems like we've been counting down to the festive season for the best part of six months, so by the time we've finally put the tree up and stocked up on mince pies we're a little bit over red ribbons and carefully edited collections. Rather than overwhelm you with a whole load more gumph, I thought I'd do something a little bit different on the blog today - why not put my own spin on it and create something fun?! So in the style of a Christmas Day 'Top of The Pops', here are my top ten festive treats you can grab for loved ones this year. Enjoy.
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The festive season can be incredibly stressful, both emotionally and physically, leaving us in need of a holiday to get over the holiday season. A long dip in a steaming bath, a pampering session with some massage oils and salt scrub, or even a ten minute time-out with a face mask can make the world of difference. On this eleventh day of Blogvent, I've teamed up with The Sanctuary Spa to offer one lucky reader an incredible 'Pamper Hamper' worth over £75.00. Including everything you need to ensure you're looking tip-top in time for the new year and perfectly pampered when you need it most, this is definitely a competition not to miss.
New brands launch every week, but rarely does one escape under the radar for so long as The Balm has. I'd never heard of it before a pile of quirky cosmetics landed on my doorstep, but this innovative and slightly naughty brand are actually available from ASOS and Feel Unique! Including everything from individual blush shades, eyeliners, lipglosses, eyeshadow palettes and highlighters, this is a brand that makes cosmetics fun again while bringing out a little naughty side in everyone. Their vintage inspired packs are all illustrated and contain the most incredible detail, playing on phrases and words to make you think - Mary-Lou Manizer highlighter may be my personal favourite, closely followed by half naked men next to six apple shaped cream blushers. If you're a fan of Benefit's quirky style but can't always stretch your budget to them, then The Balm offers dupes and an equally as fun offering for a much more affordable price point.
There's one thing that makes a house a home - an array of flickering candles providing a delicate and comforting scent. I've never been short of a few dozen in my living room, setting the scene when the cold nights draw in and wrapping myself in a blanket to enjoy the atmosphere. Mila are a new brand on my horizon, providing beautifully designed packaging and an elegant glass pot. Providing up to 45 hours of burn time and made completely in the UK, this is definitely a brand to watch. Their newest fragrance, Isla, is described as "an encounter with the crystalline cold, a steely tang carried on a crisp ozonic breeze to invigorate the mind. The clean, glacial top notes cut through subtle accords of green seaweed, musk and amber, rendering an energising blend."
Get Party Ready This Festive Season With Diet Coke (Plus 20 x Goodie Bags & £50 ASOS Vouchers To WIN!)
The party season is well and truly upon us, with more glitter in our wardrobes than on the Strictly Come Dancing set. As we start to plan our outfits, practice our makeup looks and get out the glitzy heels that only see the light of day for a few weeks a year, there's no better time than now to crack open a Diet Coke and take a moment for yourself. Christmas can be an incredibly busy time of year, with everyone rushing around to buy all the gifts they need while ensuring they're looking party perfect and ready to dance their way to the 25th. We don't have time to catch our breath until we've sat down for turkey and paper hats with the family, but there are some really simple things you can do to ensure you're party ready when a last minute invite falls into your inbox, and let’s face it, the impulsive nights out are often the best!. I've teamed up with Diet Coke to bring you my top ways to ensure you can get from desk to dance floor in under ten minutes, using only a few tools, tricks and your office loo to help you on your way!
Cult Beauty are quickly becoming the go-to beauty destination, offering a huge range of products that are a little bit different from the norm. Unlike most other beauty retailers who stick to well-known and mainstream brands, Cult Beauty celebrate those under-the-radar products that really offer something special. Every time I visit their site I feel like I discover something new, special and unique that I would never have stumbled across otherwise, sprinkled between some cult classics that are always worth stocking up on. Recently they ran an incredible offer, giving away this fabulous goodie bag worth £175.00 with all purchases over £100 - unsuprisingly it was a huge success as beauty lovers scrambled to snap one up. Well you lucky lot, Cult Beauty have kindly saved one of these lust-worthy edits for day nine of my Blogvent Calendar!
This will always be remembered as the year that the bloggersphere exploded. In the last twelve months blogging has become somewhat unrecogniseable from the part-time hobby it was for many, evolving into a beast of influence and churning out a new generation of celebrity. I've written frequently about how proud I am to be part of a community that's pushing boundaries and changing the landscape of British media, and that opinion will never waiver - how amazing is it that young men and women now feel empowered to establish their own path and take steps to achieving their dreams? However, the last few days have seen somewhat of a backlash erupt over a certain untouchable blogger and her debut novel, after it was discovered that it in fact was 'ghostwritten' by someone else entirely. After I seemed to 'break' this news on Twitter, I've been quoted on sites ranging from Holy Moly to The Independent and have had hundreds of tweets from those left feeling frustrated, disappointed, angry and uneasy. As a result, I thought it was time I documented my own opinions and explained why the discovery of this news really doesn't sit comfortably with me.
One of the best things about being a 'successful' blogger is being able to share your knowledge and experience with others. I've been doing this old blogging thing for nearly five years and I really wish I had someone to hold my hand in the early stages; blogging was new and uncharted territory, so it was each to their own and 'wing it as best as possible.' Over the years I've managed to carve a niche, build incredible relationships with brands, PRs and bloggers a like, work on some amazing campaigns and even turn a part-time hobby into a full-time job. Although it's much harder in 2014 to carve your own niche, it's not impossible - hundreds of blogs are launched every single day, all with a unique perspective and story to tell. I've written numerous posts sharing my stories, top tips and things I've learned along the way, mainly as a way to answer all those emails and questions that I can't respond to personally with the depth I'd like. However, in 2015 it would be nice to actually help someone on a personal and one-to-one level, hopefully helping them on their way to making their dreams come true.
On at least three days of the week there's a strong possibility that I'm going to wake up feeling knackered, looking a little haggered and in desperate need of a quick fix. Although piling on the makeup is one way to tackle not quite looking your best, it's much easier to treat your skin and leave your base looking as natural as possible - I'm currently a big fan of a BB Cream and highlighter combo. In recent weeks I've been reaching for this little orange tube from Origins as either a morning pick-me-up, an evening treatment or a bedtime boost. The gel texture is extremely pleasant to use, minimising mess and ensuring the five to ten minutes required are pleasurable. Including coffee beans to energise, cucumber to refresh and mushroom to soothe, skin’s get-up-and-glow is rapidly restored with little effort required.
If you're still struggling with ideas for those last minute gifts, then today I may have the solution. On this sixth day of Blogvent I'm bringing you two amazing fragrances that would make the perfect 'his and her' present this festive season, or a simple treat for yourself and the man in your life. Although fragrance is incredibly personal, I've no doubt that both of these signature scents will contain something you'll treasure - especially thanks to their beautifully designed bottles.
Perfecting the ultimate flutter is an essential step in getting party ready. I don't feel prepared to party if I don't have a powerful lashline that complements the rest of my look. A someone who doesn't have the best set of lashes, a fabulous mascara is the ultimate tool in my kit. I've tried hundreds in my time as a beauty blogger, so if I keep one by my side for longer than a week it's definitely a goodun. Right now I have three favourites on rotation that take me right through from day to night with ease; they all provide me with the volume and impact I desire, whilst being easy to apply and long-lasting. They help me create an amazing flutter that's perfect for the party season when we don't want our glittery dresses to overshadow our sultry eyes... Too much at least!
I love a multipurpose product. Not only does it save space in my handbag, but it makes for the ultimate travel companion over the festive period when you're traipsing around the country catching up with family. Dr PawPaw is definitely one of my faves, offering a rich balm that can be used in a multitude of ways. The main ingredient is fermented Pawpaw, the fruit of the plant Carica Papaya, which has been found to have natural healing qualities. This genius product has a variety of uses (skin protector, moisturiser, nappy cream, lip finisher...) and also boasts healing properties that mean it's great on sun burn and skin irritations. It's a much more affordable, pleasantly scented and natural version of Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream - made even better now they've added tinted balms to the Dr PawPaw repertoire.
In the first of the big 2015 previews, this January sees the launch of the Bête Noire collection from lipstick extraordinaire Poppy King. Her 'Lipstick Queen' brand has become the ultimate go-to for when you need a lipstick that works for you, no matter the texture or intensity. I love the fact that she designs one shade and makes it available in a multitude of formulas, so you can pick the perfect bullet for your requirements. For 2015 she's going vampy, launching a trio of lipsticks entitled 'Bete Noire' that provide a rich and deeply dark berry tone that's not for the fainthearted. Each of the three provides a different finish, ensuring that an otherwise scary tone can be personalised and picked to match your overall look: Possessed Sheer is a lightweight formula that provides an understated 'crushed berries' finish; Possessed Intense is a creamy lipstick that coats the lips in dark black cherry; Possessed Metal gives lips a shimmering look with a metallic finish.
The countdown is always on to the launch of novelty cups and super festive coffee flavours. From about October we look forward to having a taste of a gingerbread latte, special Christmas blend coffee and hot chocolates dusted with cinnamon. This year Costa Coffee have brewed up something even more special than last year, offering some incredible tasty treats that will leave you wanting more. My personal favourites include the latte that's served with a mini gingerbread man, the Orange Hot Chocolate that's decorated with a chocolate lattice that melts in your mouth, the Sticky Toffee Latte that tastes like pudding and the warming Hot Spiced Apple that's a great coffee alternative. Not to mention all the yummy treats that you can nibble on too, as well as the decorate-at-home gingerbread snowman! On this fifth day of my Blogvent Calendar, because I'm such a Costa addict, they've kindly provided me with four sets of treats for four lucky readers.
Have you ever wished for a fairy godmother to grant even your most extravagant wishes? Have you ever wished you could give someone special in your life the ultimate surprise, just in time for Christmas? This festive season House of Fraser have created a super cute short story inspired by a classic fairytale, showing how every Christmas dream starts with the dress. Have a look at the video below and see how your own wishes could come true, if only you had the perfect outfit! To complete the fairytale, House of Fraser are giving someone the chance to reward that special person with a fantastic break for two to London, jam packed full of treats for you both to enjoy. Including a night at Claridge’s (the ultimate in London's luxury) and a £750.00 shopping spree at House of Fraser’s flagship Oxford Street store, this is one prize not to be missed.
A hot pot of tea, a plate of scones and a selection of cucumber finger sandwiches may be my favourite way to spend an afternoon. There's something a little bit opulent and extravagant about the British tradition, especially when spending it with loved ones. On day four of my Blogvent Calendar, I've teamed up with Ask Her Friends (an online service that helps you ensure you're buying the right gift by allowing friends and family to vote before you purchase!) to offer one lucky person a unique experience of afternoon tea served on-board a vintage London bus! Involving an hour and a half long trip around some of the city's best sites and a delicious selection of sandwiches, cakes, pastries and scones, this is a fabulous prize that's once-in-a-lifetime.
How many times have you stood in a queue waiting to return a box of ill-fitting clothes on your lunch break, willing it to go a little bit faster so you've got time to pop into Starbucks on your way back to the office? As someone that does a lot of shopping online, I also spend a lot of my time in super long queues waiting to return the eight dresses that didn't do the job I needed them to. If, like me, you'd rather spend those precious few minutes catching up on your favourite blogs (ahem) or scrolling through Instagram, then CollectPlus makes returns incredibly easy. CollectPlus is the largest store-based parcel service in the UK, designed to make your life easier; no more wasted Saturdays or lunchtime queues, just the freedom to get on with your day. With a network of over 5,500 local stores in the UK (open until late and including chains such as ASDA, Costcutter, Spar, Nisa and local newsagents,) CollectPlus make returning parcels quick and trouble free.
Beauty boxes and subscription services revolutionised the beauty industry, making products and brands more accessible than ever. Although some have had a hard time, for me Latest In Beauty exceed expectations on every occasion; their collaborations are second to none and every box is bursting with goodies that delight even the biggest cynic. This Christmas they have a trio of glamorous boxes that are oozing with treats to help you take time out, look fabulous and feel perfectly party ready at the last minute. Including the Ultimate Pamper Box, the Naturally Beautiful Box and the Party Prep box, together there's everything you need for the party season - plus, if you buy all three (£24.95 each) you only pay for two! Bargain.
This has been a pretty big year for LBQ - so what better way to end 2014 than with a collaboration with a fabulous designer and an incredible offer that's hard to resist? I've teamed up with Anya Sushko to design and handcraft a capsule collection of make-up bags, inspired by my London theme and colour palette. The collection includes two bags in three different colour combinations (red, white and blue - naturally) which will appeal to every woman and make the perfect Christmas gift. Every bag is handmade from the most luxurious leather, embossed with a special LBQ logo and comes with statement Union Jack lining. With three colour ways to choose from (and a corresponding tassel to make up the red, white and blue theme) there's definitely something for everyone. The larger bags also double-up as a clutch, while the smaller purses can be used to carry all your bits and bobs on a daily basis.
On the second day of Christmas, LBQ did give to me... A treat for the senses and a relaxing bathing session, courtesy of Arran Aromatics. Founded by a husband and wife duo within their cottage kitchen on the beautiful Isle of Arran, Arran Aromatics focuses on making beautiful body products that are infused with original fragrances inspired by the landscape and scents of the island. They offer everything from bath oil, body lotion, lip balm and face cream to some incredible gift sets and home fragrances, all packaged up with a 'home made' feeling that ensures they remain close to their roots. I'm astounded at the quality for the price point, with many products starting at only a few pounds - making them fab stocking fillers or secret santa gifts.