As I get older my concern over ingredients increases. I want to know what I'm putting on my skin, where it came from and what it's promising to do. I've been stepping away from the 'mainstream' skincare brands for some time, preferring to indulge in a little natural beauty or simplistic approach from brands I know I can trust. Although that doesn't mean I don't happily use a science-heavy serum or a face cream you can pick up for a tenner, it does mean that I'm making my decisions more carefully and becoming increasingly interested in a brand's story. I'm no organic beauty expert, don't really care if a product is 'hand poured' and am more interested in clinical studies than old wives tales, but one brand has made me think twice and stimulated my interest in this ever growing category like never before. Herbfarmacy really is the home of organic British skin care, having been growing organic herbs on their Herefordshire farm for over 30 years.
There's something universally appealing about a great face mask. It may be the ten minutes of pure self-indulgence it commands, or the perky radiant finish it leaves behind, but you can never have too many tubes or pots of the good stuff. Although smoothing a rich formula over the surface of skin and leaving it for ten minutes is the process we all know and love, when used in a different way the benefits can increase and you can be assured to get the most out of that beloved formula. Here are the five different ways I use a face mask, and why these new methods could provide your skin with a little boost...
Colour correction has long been the tool of professional makeup artists; they rely on more than a heavyweight foundation and hard working concealer to create the flawless looks you see walking the red carpet. Our complexions aren't even and they're not made up of a singular colour: dullness, dark circles, redness and sallow skin can be the result of anything from a bad diet and irregular sleep pattern, to skin conditions and adult acne. Counteracting those tones can help create a much more even and 'fluid' complexion that creates the illusion of health, ensuring you get much more out of your base products too. I dip in and out of colour correction, but this little palette from Makeup Revolution has definitely encouraged me to embrace it once again. The lightweight creamy textures are easy to use, while offering exceptional value for money.
Lash primers, undercoats and fibres are not a new concept; they were first launched into the market over a decade ago, before false lashes and extensions were as common place as a plumping lipgloss. Back then it was brands including L'Oreal and Bourjois who were changing the way we applied our mascara, but as the years have passed we seem to have forgotten about the power a base coat can provide.... But it's making a comeback! First it was Estee Lauder with their Little Black Primer, then it was L'Oreal with their Superstar Mascara, and now it's cult beauty favourite Code Beautiful and their FFL (Forget Fake Lashes) formula. Plumped lashes in a jiffy without the need for messy glue? I'm in...
Research has shown for many years that beauty products made with tiny microbeads have been damaging water supplies, marine life and the ecological balance of the planet. These tiny beads (used to scrub off dead skin cells, release an active ingredient or simply used for aesthetic reasons) are still used in a huge number of cosmetic products, despite outrage from environmental activists. You may spot them in your shower gel, toothpaste, cleanser or body scrub and wash them away without a second thought - but the truth is they're incredibly damaging to our fishy friends. So why are these tiny fragrments that look harmeless enough having such a negative impact, and what can we do about it?
With a new season comes the need to change up our beauty regime, colour portfolio and overall look. Although we could just embrace the same old tones and the usual styles, it's much more fun to look to what's been happening on the catwalk and transfer the hot new trends into our own lives (ensuring they're actually wearable without being on the receiving end of some rather odd looks!) I've pinpointed the five key trends that will help transform you from spring chicken into summer goddess - all of which require a minimum amount of effort and a perfectly suited to the holiday season.
I'm a bit of a contouring convert. Who would have thought I'd be turning to a rather rich chocolate tone to help my skin look sunkissed and healthy, when bronzer used to be my nemesis. Too many photos exist of me with a rather bronzed nose, as I didn't know where to apply the shimmering shades for best results. Spring forward a few years and I hardly go a day without adding a touch of something rich in tone to my cheeks; although I'm no expert, I've embraced the benefit a little 'light and shade' can bring to skin as you age. My portfolio is currently confusing and expansive, making this new six piece palette from Illamasqua somewhat of a dream; it contains all the shades you need to contour, highlight and sculpt for varying complexions - but does it create the look I desire without having to attend a masterclass and get a degree in contouring?
It's rare that brands appeal to me both on a functional and ethical level, but Neal's Yard seems to tick all the boxes. Not only are their powerful ingredients sourced from around the globe to ensure the best results, but they pride themselves on making a positive difference too. This new deliciously softening and beautifully scented Bee Lovely Body Butter helps to nourish and soothe skin (thanks to the inclusion of organic honey, shea and cocoa butter,) but also helps to save the bees too. Neal's Yard have committed to donate at least £10,000 a year to bee projects across the globe, as well as ensuring the honey is sourced ethically so the bees continue to thrive. Good for you, good for them!
Some of the best beauty products come from relatively unknown brands that just need a push in the right direction. I often feature brand new concepts, angles and businesses that I believe in on LBQ - from the Helmies nail helmets which stop those annoying post-paint smudges, to The Bathory which allows you to create your own bath salt prescription, or even candles with secret jewellery surprises! There's so much talent, wisdom and efficacy out there that's just not able to get the stepping stone they so obviously need to get them into the 'big time'. However, help is at hand! Following the huge success of the inaugural competition last year, QVC is one again running its 'Find a Beauty Brand' competition, in association with CEW. This incredible opportunity provides a platform for one awesome brand to get the recognition and support they deserve - and we need your help to get them nominated!
If you said the name 'Paco Rabanne' to me a week ago, it would have aroused memories of sweaty 90's nightclubs and men adorned with FCUK t-shirts. It's not a brand I really relate to or one I seek out, but this little bottle of Greek-inspired wonder has just knocked me off my chair and made me question it all. Twenty years ago Paco Rabanne was the height of fashion, but like Burberry check and the Daniella Westbrook episode, over-saturatuon turned its sparkle into something altogether more cringey. However, their new Olympéa is elegant enough to adorn any dressing table - while the scent itself is warm, sultry, sexy and fresh.
Some of the most successful brands are somewhat controversial. They thrive off the conversations they stimulate and benefit from heightened brand awareness - which inevitably translates into sales. Some brands even court controversy and claim it helps them smash targets like never before ('beach body ready' has never been more of a talking point,) whereas others shy away from anything negative until the hoohah dies down and they can get on with business. Over the last week or so The Balm, a quirky and kitsch makeup brand that are certainly giving Benefit a run for their money, have caused quite the stir with their Nude 'Tude and Dude eyeshadow palettes; they've been deemed 'sexist' as consumers compared the rather positive names of the latest palette with the somewhat negative names of the previous incarnation. So, should we all be boycotting this tongue-in-cheek brand - or is it all just a 'storm in a teacup' over a little bit of makeup?
I don't know about you, but all those little beauty products I collect often end up floating aorund never to be discovered again. They feature in beauty boxes, come as magazine gifts, fall out of goodie bags and get thrown in whenever I make a department store purchase, but whenever I need something small to pop in my bag or take with me for a weekend it's as if they've all evaporated. I recently invested wisely in a glass container which now proudly sits on my bathroom shelf, collecting all the little bits and bobs I know I'll treasure when my next hand-luggage-only flight comes a knocking. Mini sizes, sachets and samples are actually incredibly handy (plus they encourage me to experiment,) so I wanted a way to keep them safe so I can utilise them properly... Which is where this £15.00 candle holder comes in incredibly handy!
There's simply no excuse for hurting or killing an animal in the development of a new lipstick. One of the most frequent questions I get from readers after featuring a new product or brand is 'but do they test on animals?' It seems that despite huge legislative change, we're still a little confused about what is legal and illegal when it comes to animal testing in the cosmetics industry; with some brands still making a song and dance about being 'cruelty free' it confuses consumers into thinking others still do cover bunnies in shampoo to make sure they get the lather just right. Although some elements are black and white, there are a lot of grey areas which confuse and concern consumers to the point where they don't know what to buy. So here's the truth about animal testing, and why the Leaping Bunny symbol is more important than ever.
Nail art definitely had its moment a few years ago, but it seems we're all too busy faffing with a million other innovations in beauty to worry about creating immaculate looks on our talons twice a week. I'm fully embracing the nude nail trend as it means I don't have to worry about matching, while my hands have definitely benefited from being paint-free as much as possible in the last few months. However, there seems to be a movement in the nail industry that's seeing us re-claim nail art in the best possible way. The hottest thing to hit the high street is a new kind of artistry that requires no talent whatsoever, little time and even less precision; the messier and more creative the better. Both OPI and Morgan Taylor are launching 'watercolour nails' just in time for summer, which inject a touch of fun and a splash of colour into our looks. The latter are also putting a metallic twist on the look, providing a flurry of options for every nail enthusiasts - regardless of skill level.
You may have missed the news that beauty giant Proctor & Gamble have recently agreed to sell off 43 of their iconic brands (including MaxFactor, Wella, Clairol and Covergirl) in a move designed to help them focus on their core business and streamline their operations. Apparently Pantene and Olay need a little more love in 2015 and beyond, so it's like sending your older children off to Uni to do it alone while you take care of the time-demanding toddlers. You may not also be aware that Bourjois, the elegant and quirky Parisienne makeup brand loved by bloggers, has also been sold by Chanel to the highest bidder. Coty (who currently own brands including Rimmel, NYC, Philosophy, OPI, Sally Hansen and some of your favourite fragrances) have managed to pick up the bulk of these brands to expand their ever more powerful presence in the beauty market, but some of our favourite skincare brands have been snapped up by other corporations too. Ren and Murad have been bought by Unilever, while Liz Earle, Dermalogica and Kate Somerville have also been sold (among many others.) Although this has been common practice for decades, the latest moves involve huge brands and have therefore been more high profile than normal - you probably will never have noticed the chopping and changing that's happened so often historically. But the important question on everyone's lips is: how will this impact me, the products I love and my regime?
Since setting up #30PlusBlogs in the last couple of weeks (check out my post and all the info here if you've missed it!) my thirst for new content and different perspectives has gone into overdrive. There's so much amazing talent out there, blogs showcasing a unique point of view and individuals proving that you don't have to be an expert in one area to have something worthwhile reading. This month there are six amazing sites taking up residence on my sidebar over there on the right, so it's about time I broke them down and shared the reasons why you need to check them out asap...
If you've got a good set of brows on you, the rest of your face kind of falls into place. Before I discovered the power of a full and perfectly-arched brow, I spent years trying to make the rest of my face work with only a smidgin of hairy goodness; there was something not quite right. After I was well and truly educated on the benefit of a decent eyebrow pencil and the artistry associated with plucking, I've never looked back - I've even invested in eyebrow tattoos to ensure they look as full and even as possible. Now I can't leave the house without filling in my brows; even when I'm totally makeup free or have a giant spot, it's my brows that I'm most concerned with preening in order to bring my face to life. Although I have a huge portfolio of premium brands that I turn to on a regular basis, it's great to find a budget buy that does the job just as well. Collection are great for affordable makeup staples, little treats and on-trend shades, but their latest eyebrow launch illustrates that they're also one to be taken seriously when it comes to quality purchases too; these little palettes are blooming fabulous - and they're only £3.99!
Choosing and applying your foundation correctly can mean the difference between a flawless, radiant glow and a dull, flat finish. You can have the best foundation in the world, but if you don't apply it correctly it may as well come from the bargain bin in your Nan's local chemist. It's no surprise that foundation shopping it almost as feared as searching for a new pair of jeans, nor that women tend to stick to their 'holy grail' product when they find one that works for them. If you've ever wondered how you should be making that essential purchase, and what to do with it once you've got it home, then here are my top tips for choosing and applying foundation for the best results possible.
Some of the best product discoveries come in small packages, and this little silver wonder is no exception. Although it may look like just another skincare product, the cute mushroom-shaped pot contains a hardworking and multi-purpose gel that could be my new best friend. I don't suffer with frequent breakouts or too many problematic dry areas, but when I do I want them sorted fast; only pleasant formulas and easy-to-use products will do. Tiny but tough, Shiseido's Ibuki Multi Solution Gel is a speedy skin repair treatment that can be used at any time to rescue skin from damage caused by stress and lifestyle habits. It effectively combats spots, open pores, redness and dry patches, without irritating the surrounding area. The bouncy, non-greasy and innovative texture can be applied on bare skin or even over make-up, making it a handbag essential too.
Never before as an eyeshadow series caused so much hysteria and anticipation amongst usually sane women. The Urban Decay 'Naked' palettes have become an absolute cult product, with each new edition causing chaos online as we all rush to spend our cash. I'm a big fan of Urban Decay's eyeshadows anyway (their super soft and blendable formulas offer a serious hit of pigment,) but there's something quite special about a palette bursting with colours you can actually wear on a daily basis. Although bright blue tones and pink-tinted coppers are all well and good in theory, I mostly find myself sticking to the same shades and using up only one or two pans from each season's latest collection. That's where the Naked palettes differ and why they've become such a huge success; each eyeshadow colour included is absolutely wearable and suited to every complexion, look, age or need. This July they're expanding their repertoire once again with a twist on the Naked palettes that have come before: this time it's smoky!
Have you ever spent an afternoon perusing beauty blogs and wish you had the cash to splash on everything they're currently lusting after? From Chanel lipsticks to £200 electric toothbrushes, the latest Benefit launch and the whole range of Essie nail polish... They could be yours! This summer Boots is making one lucky customer its first every Points Millionaire, by giving away £10,000 worth of Boots Advantage Card points! Whether it’s splashing out on the full range of YSL’s Glossy Stains (my personal faves) or spoiling yourself with a whole new fragrance wardrobe for summer, this could be the perfect chance to indulge, treat and spoil yourself like never before. In addition to the million points, Boots are also giving away between 50 and 5,000 points to thousands of customers - as well as treating everyone else to double points too!
It's now estimated that there are around 1.5 million apps in the apple app store, covering everything from list management and loyalty cards, to food delivery services and photo editing tools. However, it's the beauty arena that's seeing a huge surge in app development right now, as we turn to our smartphones to support us in every area of our lives. Gone are the days when our smartphones were just used for browsing new nail polish shades and reading reviews of lipstick from around the globe: now at the touch of a button you can see what you'd look like with Alexa's do before you take the plunge, find out what products on your bathroom shelf contain sulphates and book a last minute manicure before that important date. The beauty industry is embracing technology like never before, but are we now being given too much choice? Are companies just launching apps for the sake of it, or is there a genuine opportunity here which we should embrace?
Scholl Evolve From Foot Specialist To Hand Expert: The New Manicure Tools That Are Surprisingly Good
Some brands are known for functionality over aesthetics, offering a helping hand that rarely gets the attention it often deserves. Scholl definitely fit within that camp, providing a huge portfolio of foot care products that I couldn't live without; not only do I love their foot soak, overnight foot serum and clippers, but the original Velvet Smooth foot file is one of those products I recommend to anyone who will listen. It's simple, effective, hardworking and mess free - providing me with the buffing support I need to keep my feet smooth all year round. This summer the foot specialist we all know and love (even if we don't realise it) are expanding into the hand arena, with the aim of becoming as well known for their manicure expertise as they are for their foot care products. Launching into Boots stores imminently is the new Velvet Smooth Electronic Nail Care System (catchy!) that will have your nails buffed and preened to perfection in seconds.
Why do nudes look so elegant? The dusty pink tones of a coffee-coloured lipstick helps to create a beautiful kissable pout, while a slick of mocha gloss just effortlessly brings a whole look together. I've long been a fan of nude lips, but over the past couple of years nude nail polishes have also become my absolute go-to. Although they require little-to-no thought, go with everything and enhance our natural features, they're also the epitome of elegance and understated beauty. Known for her 'never look like you're trying' approach, Kate Moss embodies the nude makeup look on a daily basis; it's no surprise that she's channeled this into a capsule ten piece collection of lipsticks and matching nail polishes for Rimmel this summer. If you just thought 'a nude is a nude' before, then let me educate you on the spectrum of colour and why you could possibly need them all!
There's huge change in the air for The Body Shop this year. Exciting things lie ahead, especially the complete brand overhaul and re-design that's starting with the 'Spa of the World' collection (read my full review here.) As their fragrances have been a core part of their business for decades, and the little bottles evoke so many memories and emotions just by looking at them, it seems only right that they're paid a little more attention than they've previously been accustomed to. Not only have the iconic bottles been re-designed to encompass the shape of a globe (the ingredients are sourced globally and each individual scent has a story to tell from one of the four corners,) but there's a new sparkling and refreshing fragrance to help us step into the warmer months with ease: Italian Summer Fig. Composed of green notes and honey fruit figs, the unusual scent is uplifting while offering a hearty base that stems from the exotic shores of the Italian coastline.
The bloggersphere provides a huge amount of diversity: that's the beauty of it. Although there are thousands of passionate, well-informed, intelligent women (and men) out there, it's time to celebrate those of us that don't fit the traditional model that's so prevalent in the wider media. We're not all 23 year olds with flawless skin, size ten Topshop jeans and ombre hair dos - although they obviously are to be as celebrated as those of us that are the complete opposite! After writing a post about the importance of 30+ representation both in the media and in our online/digital world, I was astounded at the positive response from readers and fellow bloggers alike; beauty is definitely not the monopoly of the young. It seems there are actually a huge number of bloggers out there above the age of thirty that are doing a sterling job and need to be applauded for that... So I set about collating them all in order to launch a new and exciting project.
Love them or hate them, the majority of us will at some point in our lives notice those little brown spots popping up on or around our noses. Freckles defined my childhood and I was really rather gutted when I seemed to grow out of them, but for many they're something that remain ever present well into adulthood. Gone are the days when they were something to be shied away from and covered up - Topshop have even launched their very own Freckle Pencil and have been encouraging customers to draw on their own freckles; it's no surprise it's popped up as a trend, as we so closely associate them with sunshine, happiness and youth. But what are these little freckly brown spots and why do we get them?
Mineral foudnations definitely had a moment a few years ago, but since then I feel like they've been pushed aside in favour of innovative liquid counterparts. With technology providing lightweight finishes and textures that provide the coverage we need without blocking pores, mineral foundation became a somewhat redundant addition to many repertoires. However, with the launch of Bare Minerals new Blemish Remedy foundation the focus is very much on their original and loved formula - with an added twist. Created in ten different shades with the original finely milled powder as a base, this has been created to soothe, calm and control problem or oily skin while simultaneously providing a flawless finish. Although it's great for all skin types, it's specifically beneficial to those of you who may suffer from annoying pimples or regular breakouts.
Festival season is well and truly upon us, but with the onslaught of wellies and boho fringing comes the need to pack a beauty kit that will see you through the weekend and beyond. We all know about wet wipes and dry shampoo, but the industry has moved on in the last ten years and now provides a huge array of handy products that are perfect for a long weekend in the sun. From preening your hairy bits, to protecting yourself from the sun and adding a golden glow to cheekbones, I've handpicked fifteen of my must-haves to see you through a weekend of camping - or just a little trip abroad when you're limited to hand luggage and hope!
For years I've struggled editing down my makeup into a clutch-sized quantity; whether it's for a night out or long day in meetings, you just know you're going to need a top-up at some point and at least three different lip options to tide you over. With the beauty industry bursting at the seams already, it appears we need to invent a whole new category to keep us beauty addicts interested and cooing over the latest innovations - and bitesized beauty is it! Bagsy is a beautifully designed collection of "easy-to-choose, easy-to-use everyday beauty essentials that are designed to fit inside your handbag." They're mostly multi-functional to ensure no inch of sacred space is wasted, while they're crafted to perfection - both in formula and pack. From the tinted lipbalm and super compact bronzing powder, to the hand cream and cheek tints, there's a product for every top-up need while ensuring your makeup collection is still totally lustworthy.
The Vintage Secret, Treasured For Generations: Corn Silk Face Powder (Plus WIN By Posting Your #CornSilkSelfie!)
In a market that's focused on innovation, newness and scientific advancement, it's easy to forget that some of the untouched formulas from decades past continue to be the best. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, the Dove beauty bar, Clinique's Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion... And Corn Silk's Translucent Loose and Pressed Powders. You may not know the name, but you may recognise the pack from your grandmother's dressing table; this vintage beauty secret has been used by women since the late 1960’s and continues to be a firm favourite with beauty enthusiasts and makeup artists alike. Face powders (loose or pressed) are the ultimate weapon against shiny complexions and a must during the sunny season when our makeup has a tendency to shift; although a dusting of powder is the first step to go as soon as the sun comes out, the Corn Silk natural walnut formula has been designed to work with, not against, oily skin giving you a long-lasting, flawless finish that doesn’t clog up your pores.
When I first started blogging it was a simple business. We wrote about what lipstick we were loving, commented on the latest hairstyles and occasionally took awkward photos of ourselves in terrible lighting. It was an uncomplicated time where we were all just focused on our own little corner of the internet; there was room for everybody, there was no competitiveness and the lack of press samples and paid campaigns made everything a lot simpler. However, in 2015 it's a completely different time: blogs are brands, serious money is being paid for collaborations, oodles of free things land on doorsteps and everyone is competing for something - be it for more readers, that latest lipgloss or to be the face of a new campaign. Since the waters have become a little murkier, the issue of disclosure has become a constant talking point. For me, it's a simple black and white area. For others, not so much.
Our DNA offers up the answers to questions we never knew we had. This fiber of life is found inside every cell in our body (apart from red blood cells), with every one of our ten trillion cells containing roughly two meters worth of DNA. It can solve crimes, assess risk and provide information on a person's susceptibility to illness. 23andMe offer a way to unlock the secrets our DNA holds in an incredibly simply way, delivering the results within six weeks direct to your inbox. Their little kit is easy to use and can be popped in the post without the faff often associated with at-home testing services; you simply spit into the vial enclosed, pop it in the bag provided, seal, place back into the box and send it on its way by posting it through any postbox free of charge. All of the laboratory testing for 23andMe is done in a CLIA-certified (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments), CAP-accredited (College of American Pathologists) laboratory in the United States, completely confidentially and with the utmost importance placed on security. The results are fascinating, but can also have a long-lasting impact on both yourself and your family - they test for over 40 inherited conditions, the response to ten drugs, identify over 40 traits and provide information on ten different genetic risk factors.
As a woman in her thirties that blogs for a living, I often feel 'over the hill' and wonder when the bubble will burst in favour of the bright young things of the next generation. But then I metaphorically slap myself around the face and have a word: there are billions of women on this planet over the age of 29 that are rocking every aspect of their lives and inspire me to achieve bigger and better things. Thirty is definitely the new twenty, forty is the new thirty, and fifty is the new forty; we're all living longer, looking more fabulous and embracing our years whatever our age. I'm continually hearing that women over the age of 30 are crying out for better representation online, as the majority of bloggers and vloggers don't talk about the issues that really effect them - from the first signs of ageing, sun damage, limp barnets, age spots and makeup that works with rather than against them. Lancome's new campaign provides a stepping stone to this conversation, encouraging us to 'love our age' whatever number those digits present; their ambassadors span three decades (Lily Collins is 25, Lupita Nyong'O 31, Kate Winslet 39 and Penelope Cruz 41) to illustrate their universal approach to beauty.
Quinoa may be one of the superfoods we're most familiar with, but did you know that it can also offer up a whole heap of benefits to skin, hair and nails? This small grain has been consumed by those who inhabit the mountainous and valley regions of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile for over 5000 years, but it's gradually making its way into our shampoos, conditioners and styling products. The amino acids quinoa seeds contain are balanced in a way that is complementary to human nutrition, which is where they get their 'superfood' reputation from. However, quinoa is also high in calcium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, potassium, phosphorous and magnesium, which have been proven to aid in the conditioning of hair and skin. Its amino acids help repair damage to the hair shaft while its proteins coat, strengthen and protect the hair to aid in growth and protect against breakage. It's no surprise then that many hair products are utilising the benefit of this tiny grain, including Paul Mitchell's newest colour collection: Ultimate Color Repair