The New Nail Trend: Natural, Organic & 'Free From' Polish (And Why It's Worth Understanding What's In Your Varnish)
Organic, natural and 'nasty free' beauty products have never been more popular, as we turn away from the harsh chemical ingredients that can irritate our skin and seek out something gentler - without compromising on efficacy. Gone are the days when shopping organic meant picking up a slightly smelly, slightly gloopy and slightly separating formula; now you can turn to the natural side of the market and never know the difference between that and the most expensive and scientifically advanced cream available. I'm a firm believer in organic and natural beauty being part of an individual's lifestyle choice, but I'm also a firm believer in helping others to make an informed purchasing decision so they can be sure to do what's best for them - and their family. For years 'natural' nail polish was the one product that evaded brands, as they just couldn't get the formula to perform without all of the chemicals that our usual £2.99 brands are pumped full of; but times have changed. You may have to pay three times the amount of your favourite Barry M polish, but it is now possible to buy products that are natural, organic and free from a lot of the chemicals that the Daily Mail would have us believe are going to give us all cancer. But why is it so important to understand what's in your nail polish, and why should we be avoiding certain ingredients - particularly if you're pregnant or have small children?
One of the most precious times of my week is my regular bath night, when I can slip into a steaming tub an take a little time out from my ever busy world. A touch of indulgence and 'me time' makes the world of difference, even if only once a week, as it can help refresh your senses, clear your mind and get you ready for a healing sleep. Any product that can help me with that journey is a welcome addition to my routine; I adore face masks, hair treatments, soothing bath elixirs and anything that can fill my bathroom with a delicious scent. However, I'm a little tired of brightly coloured bath bombs and bubble baths that make me smell like a sweet shop. I want something more indulgent, more relaxing, more uplifting and more sophisticated - which is where Lola's Apothecary comes in. This new brand is set to make waves thanks to their lustworthy vintage style packs, their delicious hand crafted multi-functional oils and their indulgent 'Cleopatra inspired' bath milks.
I'd only been saying in the days prior that the last few Bobbi Brown collections and launches have left me feeling underwhelmed and a little disappointed - only for a brand new selection of products to land on my desk and get me excited once more. I've become somewhat bored of the same old nudes, lacklustre beige palettes and new lipstick shades that have been done a million times before, but with the new Greige collection comes a wearable portfolio of tones and innovative textures that's perfect for the transition into the next season. Although there are new lip products and nail varnishes hitting counters soon, it's the beautiful eyeshadow palette and Intense Pigment Eye Liner that's appealing to my inner smokey eye addict. (Yes, those little packs are actually liners!) Whoop for Bobbi Brown.
If there's one thing I hear more than most, it's the fact that blogging has changed. It's not like it used to be. It's competitive and monetary. It's about numbers and pay-packets. It's about professional photography and magazine-esque content. The industry has changed and evolved over the last few years to be more than just girls in their bedroom talking about their favourite lipsticks and the bargains they picked up in Primark; it's now about quality information, aspirational outfits and designer handbags - many of which are gifted to the blogger in question by a brand. A money injection inevitably has an impact on the way in which an industry fundamentally works, but I'm a firm believer in the fact that as content creators and influencers we should be compensated for our efforts. With the changing nature and increasing commercialisation of blogs comes the need for industry regulation, guidelines, support and understanding - both from the bloggers themselves and the brands they're working with.
Discovering Elizabeth Grant Skincare & The Power Of The Ocean (Plus WIN With Ideal World TV's Bank Holiday Bonanza!)
What I love most about my job is that I get to discover great brands and great stories on a daily basis. The latest fascinating story to really capture my imagination is that of Elizabeth Grant, a premium range of skincare products that incorporate a combination of natural sea vitamins, nutrients and minerals. The founder of the brand, the super glamorous Elizabeth Grant, did not always have the flawless skin she has today. Damaged during the Second World War, her skin was a constant source of personal shame and embarrassment - to the point where she avoided going out in public and living her life fully. All of that changed in 1948 when Elizabeth discovered a natural substance that was used to treat war wounds; she had it specially formulated with other ingredients and began applying it to her damaged skin. Gradually, but very noticeably, the transformation occurred. Within eight months, Elizabeth's skin had improved remarkably. And there the brand's story began...
It's no secret that I love a lipstick, but sometimes the heavy texture or drying formula leaves me opting for a gloss or balm instead. (There's nothing worse than struggling with unintentional ombre lips that are dryer than the desert.) Hydrating and wearable lipsticks are hard to come by, but the Joli Rouge lipstick collection from Clarins is lightweight and relatively sheer - meaning even the boldest of shades become incredibly wearable. With over twenty shades to choose from, including every variant of nude and red imaginable, there's a colour for every need and skin tone. The formula contains richly nourishing mango butter to protect lips against dehydration, while the lightness ensures you can re-apply throughout the day without worrying about overloading the lips. Yes it transfers onto my coffee cup (or wine glass) but I don't mind, knowing that the stain left behind is delicate and even; you can even re-apply mirror free!
Often the beauty world is awash with buzz words and ingredients that appear to be the holy grail of skincare. Hyaluronic Acid is definitely the ingredient that everyone seems to be using right now, featuring in moisturisers, serums and boosting essences in order to encourage plumpness and fight the signs of ageing. Hyaluronic Acid actually occurs naturally throughout the human body; it binds to water giving it a stiff viscous jelly-like quality that helps to lubricate parts of the body that include joints and muscles. However, it's become one of the most heavily researched substances in medicine today as its consistency and tissue-friendliness means it's also a beneficial ingredient in skin-care products. Although Hyaluronic Acid can be found naturally in most every cell in the body, it is found in the greatest concentrations (about 50% of the body's total quantity) in the skin tissue.
It seems that every makeup brand is collaborating with a famous face right now, but Ciate have definitely scooped one of the most aspirational and coveted celebrity ambassadors of the moment. Fresh on the heels of the nail polish trio that set the beauty world alight (find out why it was my 'product of the week' here,) Ciate London and Olivia Palermo are teaming up once again for a full makeup collection that's inspired by Olivia’s love of luxury, high fashion and wearable looks. The range (which includes lipsticks, khol pencils, contouring palettes and eyeshadow staples) plays with different textures, offers innovative formulas and has a stunning variety of Olivia’s favourite fall hues for eye, lip and cheek. Enhanced with beautiful vintage inspired packaging, these products are definitely covetable - albeit an unnecessary indulgence.
L'Oreal Professionnel Pro Fiber: The First Treatment To Actually *REPAIR* Hair Damage Immediately & Over Time
Damage is cited as the number one hair concern globally, which is no surprise seeing as we're a generation of over-heated-GHD-loving-electrical-appliance-obsessives. Continual styling, repeated straightening and endless dying all plays havoc with our hair, leaving ends looking tatty and dull. According to L'Oreal, 57% of women today are embracing longer hair - yet with every 12cm of hair having endured twelve months of heat styling, abrasive brushing and UV exposure, the hair fibre is prone to breakage and left hard to manage. If you've ever wanted to grow your hair just an inch or two longer, but have to chop off the ends because they just look so horrendous, then you need to know about the new L'Oreal Professionnel treatment that's about to change the game. Cited as a 'haircure' that cares for your hair like a manicure cares for your hands, Pro Fiber is L'Oreal's most prescriptive professional treatment programme to combat multi levels of damage across all hair types. It starts in salon and is re-charged at home, meaning you not only step out of the salon with fabulous hair - but you can boost the effect every week with a little at-home treatment too.
Guest Post: Written by Rebecca Viner of Autumn Leaves.
Fed up of seeing posts like "top tips for starting a blog"? Yeah, me too. Posts about how to run a successful blog are appearing here, there and everywhere nowadays, and I’m beginning to wonder whether some bloggers are just doing it to jump on the bandwagon. Blogs like mine try to banish all of that and give clarity to bloggers who really are seeking advice in a particular area. There are so many misconceptions in the blogging world compared to when I first started six years ago; these end up creating confusion, overwhelm and unnecessary pressure on bloggers who probably just started it as a hobby. Today I’m going to get real with you as I’m sharing ten things every blogger needs to know in order to stay true to themselves while they reach their goals (personal or blog/biz). We’re going to delve into trends, making things manageable and the big deal right now – whether or not you should monetise your blog.
Skin oils are definitely having a moment; everyone seems to be obsessed with the multi-functional benefits a little bottle of rich oil can provide. Saturated with effective ingredients in much higher concentrations than your usual moisturiser, they provide a great way to treat your skin without overloading it. Because oils are lipophilic (or fat loving) they pass though the lipid layer of the skin faster, preventing water loss and plumping skin with moisture more effectively. If you apply an oil before your anti-aging cream, the oil molecules also trick the skin into letting active ingredients (such as retinol, glycolic acid and vitamin C) penetrate deeper into the skin, without irritating the surface. The great thing about skin oils as they don't have one specific purpose: you can use them before a moisturiser, as a night treatment, mixed with your foundation or even rubbed onto dry patches and cuticles. Although they can be intimidating, finding a great product that integrates into your routine is the first step to discovering the benefits a little oil can bring. Here are three of my current favourites.
I would guarantee that 75% of the female population has at one stage in their life used a bottle of Batiste dry shampoo. The white powdery spray soaks up excess oil and grease, offering a great alternative when you just don't have time to wash, dry and style your hair; however, we've all become a little to reliant on it and it's started to cause more problems than it solves. (Read my 'truth about dry shampoo' post here for the full lowdown.) For a long time I've felt that Batiste needed to evolve in order to keep their share of the market (when every hair brand imaginable is launching their own version, a new scent really isn't enough) and it's taken them some time to realise this too. Their new styling range, simply called 'Stylist', offers a portfolio of products that capitalise on our need for speed and convenience - whilst understanding that we've been using dry shampoo as a texturising product for years! Finally, Batiste are upping their game.
A few months ago you simply couldn't avoid the hype surrounding Sunday Riley and her skincare brand. Although her products command an eye-watering price tag (£85.00 for a night oil!) bloggers, beauty experts and celebrities alike hailed her as the queen of skincare. Sunday Riley’s products also made their presence known backstage at fashion weeks as the official makeup and skincare sponsors of Jason Wu, Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham, Helmut Lang, Temperley, Issa and Vanessa Bruno. You don't get that kind of credibility without doing something right. Offering a 'perfect union between pure, potent botanicals and advanced chemistry,' this brand has been born out of a passion for great skin rather than gap in the market that needed to be filled; although there are rather unique claims, colours and textures on offer, from my first dip into the pool of Sunday Riley I'm seriously impressed with what they have to offer.
If you've ever stepped into a D&G store then you'll know their fashion is all about bold patterns, striking shades and that classic 'too much is just about right' attitude. The Italian women are vivacious, colourful, confident and a little OTT - so they need makeup to match. Dolce & Gabbana cosmetics aren't widely available in the UK, but if you're ever wondering through the Harrods beauty halls then it's well worth a look. This Autumn they're once again putting a twist on the classic tones you may expect, dialing up the glam and ensuring there's a tone for every woman's inner vixen; for summer they offered blue and gold lips (as you do,) but for autumn they're channeling a classic red with a touch of purple for good measure. Because D&G wouldn't be D&G without a touch of the ridiculous...
Every year thousands of new beauty products hit the shelves, virtual or otherwise, ready to promise a miracle treatment or effortless result - but how do you know what to buy, who to trust and where you should be looking for information? Once again the QVC Beauty Excellence Awards are here to help, showcasing the best of QVC’s beauty offering as voted by customers and beauty fans. Split into fourteen different categories that cover everything from the best foundation, hair removal device and cleanser to the best new brand, the awards showcase and celebrate the very best in beauty. What's quite unique about this accolade is that it's voted for by real women with real opinions, so you know you can trust the winning products to deliver something special. Voting is open now and closes on the 21st August, with the winners being announced live on air on 28th August from 9pm. (Make sure you tune in then!) QVC have asked me to give you a run-down of the five products in the anti-ageing category, so here are the super formulas nominated and which is my winner of choice...
Tuesday nights are bath nights in my household; it's the one night of the week I'm alone and have nothing better to do than take a long hard-earned soak, book in one hand and glass of wine in the other. Having lived in London for the best part of a decade, where there's barely room for a shower cubicle let alone anything else, having a bath once again is somewhat of a privilege and indulgence. At any one time there's a plethora of bathing treats stacked up waiting to be used, but for a long time the brands on offer have been somewhat limited; Lush are obviously the kings of bath bombs, while Jo Malone take the crown for most luxurious bath oils. Apart from the odd addition from a new brand there wasn't much variation in my routine, but thanks to Miss Patisserie I think Ive found a reason to change all that. The Parisienne-inspired brand uses only the best ingredients and finest fragrances, capitalising on the founder's knowledge as a trained aromatherapist to encapsulate the most delicious of scents that leave you wanting more.
Much has been said in the bloggersphere about Pixi's Glow Tonic, with positive reviews and commentary causing it to sell out quicker than it can be re-stocked. Knowing that you can only buy it online or from Pixi's one stand-alone store in Carnaby Street, only appears to make it all the more desirable - I've known people to buy out a complete shelf just in case they can't track any more down for the rest of the year. I've been using it for nearly a year and love it more than I've ever loved a toning product before, knowing it helps me achieve a glowing complexion that's imperfection free. (Read my original review here.) Seeing as this one wonder product has put the entire Pixi brand on the map, it's about time they followed up with a skin portfolio that's set to cause even more of a stir amongst beauty enthusiasts. This is no capsule collection, featuring oils, cleansing treats, innovative sprays, eye elixirs, night treatments and so much more beside. I've been putting them to the test and can safely say that Pixi are set to cause further hysteria with products that are both effective and affordable - while adding a touch of fun into an otherwise boring process.
Turning Down The Heat, Dialing Up The Results: Remington ‘Switch and PROtect’ 7-Day Challenge (PLUS WIN YOUR OWN TO TRY AT HOME!)
Hair damage has been cited as the number one hair concern of women globally. That's no surprise, seeing as it's been over ten years since the launch of the most revolutionary moment in hair for decades: straighteners. Every day we subject our locks to huge amounts of heat (drying, styling, preening and topping up with the most powerful tools we can lay our hands on,) which leaves hair feeling and looking incredibly dry and damaged. Although it can be hard to put down the styling tools or step away from the paddle brush, there are options that are kinder to hair while still providing the support we require on a daily basis. Remington's new PROtect straightener and dryer claim to hydrate hair using Hydracare and Thermacare Technology, ensuring your locks are both protected and styled to perfection every day. They challenged me to switch up my usual tools for this innovative duo for a week, and this is how I got on.
Back in the late 90's Vaseline became the unexpected product of choice for women around the UK; although it wasn't exactly glamorous to carry around, the larger the tub the better. My memories of high school involve applying this gloopy transparent gel to lips at any given opportunity, both for the lubrication and the delicate gloss it provided - at a school where no makeup was permitted, Vaseline provided the only minor rebellion we could muster. However, this seemingly harmless product (often used as a moisturiser, intense treatment, lubricant and even makeup remover *faints*) actually shouldn't be used as a beauty product at all; it's very nature prevents moisture from being absorbed into the skin, leaving you much worse of than when you started. So why should you avoid slapping on the petroleum jelly and where did this misunderstanding all begin?
You really don't have to spend a fortune to get a great product, and Palmer's is one of the brands that illustrates this most perfectly. They've been around for 175 years because their simple formulas and effective ingredients do the job women need them to; from the cult classic original cocoa butter lotion, to the stretch mark oil which is a favourite amongst expecting mums, this is a brand that none of us are ashamed to display on our bathroom shelf. Adding to their portfolio and capitalising on the current trend for coconut, Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula is now hitting shelves across the UK. Featuring a body oil, body lotion, hand cream and coconut oil butter, all the products contain ethically and sustainably sourced Coconut and Tahitian Monoï Oil, as well as being infused with Tiaré flower petals. These raw, natural ingredients deliver luxuriously rich moisturisation for decadently pampered skin - with an incredibly affordable price point.
I very rarely have a bad thing to say about Kiko Cosmetics; their collections and launches nearly always hit the spot, delivering on both price and performance. We've had bold and bright colours inspired by Miami, golden tones influenced by the Vegas lights and even 'precious' gems in the form of highlighting palettes. Their latest launch simply called 'Rebel Romantic' delivers a huge range of products that are woven together (albeit loosely) with the theme that you're either a lover or a hater; the strong blues and reds are counteracted with nude lipsticks and contouring pens that can be used to delicately frame the face. However, I can't feel a little underwhelmed and disappointed by the brand that usually pulls it out of the bag and exceeds expectations.
VEEDA'S 100% NATURAL COTTON FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS (AND WHY YOUR USUAL BRAND COULD BE CAUSING IRRITATION)
Considering half the world's population have a vagina, and therefore periods, it's amazing that feminine hygiene is still such a taboo subject. It seems we'd rather talk about anything other than our lady parts, shunning conversations or topics that really need discussing. Never one to shy away from awkward issues, I feel it's vitally important to eradicate the embarrassment associated with our female organs and the care they require. Tampons, towels and pads are an essential part of life; once a month we reach for those reliable products to get us through a few days of discomfort and irritability without giving them much of a second thought. But did you know the majority of major brands currently available contain a mixture of bleached cotton and synthetic products that can be detrimental to your health, potentially causing irritation or bacterial infections? Veeda are about to change all that, offering 100% natural cotton products that perform equally as well without compromising on their ingredients.
I must have been hiding under a rock when these new beauties from Clinique launched, because I only just found them lurking at the bottom of a bag completely undiscovered and unused. It seems that Clinique can't get enough of the 'Chubby' brand, labeling anything and everything with the name in the hope of creating a new bestseller. There's something undeniably cute and youth evoking about chubby cheeks and a wide-eyed stare, which is why they seem to be literally bottling it and selling the concept in droves. You can't deny the success of Chubby Sticks, having born a hundred copies since their launch a couple of years ago - but this time it's the turn of the eye category to have a piece of the pie. The Chubby Lash 'Fattening' Mascara offers up an oversized volumising brush to transform lashes from 'fine and faint to bodacious and bold' in an instant, while the supporting liners provide an easy way to achieve definition and easy peasy style.
Smear tests aren't particularly fun, but they're an essential part of being a woman. As soon as you hit the ripe old age of 25, you should be called in to your registered GP surgery for essentially what is a check-up on your womanly health. These check-ups need to take place every three years to ensure any abnormalities are identified and treated as swiftly as possible, avoiding the horrendous circumstances that lead to Jade Goody's (among many others) premature death. Scientific evidence has shown that if women are screened every three years, more than 90% of pre-cancer cases are picked up - that hugely increases any woman's chance of leading a happy, healthy, problem-free life, so why are smear tests actually on the decline in the UK? Why are so many women scared of a simple, painless and quick procedure that (put simply) could possibly save their life?
Over the last five years I've covered every corner of the beauty industry on this blog. A very rich picking of all the new launches, investigative posts and behind the scenes, the most asked beauty questions and the science bit that's often been confusing. As much as I love beauty, sometimes I want to read (and write) something different; the need for something new has been burning inside me for some time, but I just couldn't find what I was looking for... So I set it up myself. Today sees the launch of a brand new website that aims to provide inspirational content for women over the age of 30 (or thereabouts) not only from me, but from various contributors and talented writers too. And it's called Femme Intemporelle!
What did we do before bath bombs and bathing related treats? I pity the previous generation, for they only knew of the rich bubbles created by a bottle of Radox. Although I'm a big fan of Lush, Bath Bomb Cosmetics and Miss Patisserie, this little cake of wonder from the people behind JewelCandles is something a little bit special. It may look good enough to eat and feature a tasty dried orange slice, but it really shouldn't be ingested in any way, shape or form... For this is a humble bath bomb in disguise. Not only does it create a sweet smelling delicate lather, but it separates to provide a body scrub and a bonus jewellery treat too. Each cake contains a blingtastic gift up to the value of £250.00, making bath time even more special.
I don't know when I became so obsessed with felt tip liners, but suffice to say the fascination isn't going to end any time soon. A slick of black across the lid can instantly vamp up your look, add a vintage twist or complement a bold lip - there are so many ways to wear the trend it's no surprise the blogging world is obsessed with the power of a great liner. Having captured my attention with the launch of their Little Black Primer (a brilliant base coat that helps build lashes for a powerful, yet still understated flutter - read my review here,) Estee Lauder have now made me fall head over heels with the launch of the complementary Little Black Liner. This double-ended tool features and ultra fine nib, as well as an innovative double-width end, that together can create a multitude of looks.
Greasy roots may have been showcased on the catwalks and used as inspiration for high fashion collections, but in reality they're unsightly and leave us feeling downtrodden. A little lift at the root has the power to transform our look and ensure we bounce down the street, happily swinging our hair behind us. The dry shampoo market has never been bigger; this once unloved corner of the hair care market was reserved only for camping holidays, old ladies or blondes that didn't want to dry out their locks. But with the increase in popularity of the festival, paired with our ever growing busy lives, these cans of powdery spray have become as much as staple in our routine as serums and hairsprays. Giving your hair a quick spritz in the morning when you've overslept may be one thing, but as we become more reliant on the oil-absorbing qualities of dry shampoo, are we starting to do more damage to our hair than good?
The brightly coloured packs of Montagne Jeunesse face masks undoubtedly summed up my teenage years, much like a huge proportion of the female population. Their sweet smelling concoctions made me feel like a total princess, introducing me to skincare in a completely new way; for nearly twenty years I've been indulging in a regular face mask and it's not a habit I'm going to break any time soon. The brand we know and love hasn't changed much over the years, but 2015 has provided a turning point and opportunity to re-launch to a whole new generation of women. Now relaunched as '7th Heaven,' the face mask experts are celebrating their 30th birthday with a whole new range of beauty treatments that ensure you can feel preened and pampered from top to toe. Including hair treatments, face masks, foot creams and gentle exfoliators, there's never been a better excuse to indulge this holiday season - especially when it only costs you a quid!
You may not know the name, but you may recognise the Corn Silk 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; 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. It's a product I love - along with a touch of red lipstick and a flick of black liner - when I want to create a flawless modern twist on a classic look. A few weeks ago Corn Silk and I set you lovely lot a challenge to create your own take on 'modern vintage' and here is the result. (Read my first post here.) All the beautiful faces featured (click 'read more' to find out if it's you!) have nabbed themselves a special prize, with one lucky lady scooping £100 to spend at her local department store on all the makeup she chooses!
There have been many great lipsticks before them, and there will inevitably be many great lipsticks after, but this summer GOSH have stolen the must-have-lipstick crown from some of their more premium counterparts. Available in eight shades of loveliness, GOSH's new Velvet Touch matte lipsticks offer an incredible pigment in a Vitamin-E enriched formula that glides on to leave a sophisticated finish. It's slightly glossy to start with, drying to leave a non-powdery result that's elegant and on-trend; at £6.99, these are totally purse friendly while giving much more premium brands a run for their money.
You can't step sideways without bumping into a rose gold watch. Some might say you're not a proper blogger unless one is affixed to your wrist at all times. (Thank goodness I finally gave in a few weeks ago!) It's the accessory du jour and the shade of gold that takes everything to a whole new level; there's something uber modern, stylish and sexy about rose gold, so it was about time those qualities were turned into a fragrance. Michael Kors definitely had a major part to play in the rose gold trend, so it seems only right that they're the brand to turn the lustworthy metal into a statement fragrance. This summer sees the launch of three new scents that are inspired by the precious metals in our lives: Michael Kors Rose Radiant Gold, White Luminous Gold and 24k Brilliant Gold. Get ready to drool...
Nails Inc are on a roll with their designer collaborations this year. First up Victoria Beckham with a price point to match her expensive taste, now it's the turn of New York based design team Alice+Olivia. Renowned around the world for their sexy and sophisticated styles, Alice+Olivia embody the Nails Inc spirit of not trying too hard but still looking fabulous - making it the perfect collaboration. The four piece limited edition collection has been directly inspired by the AW15 designs that hit the runway, encompassing stunning shades that will definitely be must-haves this coming Fall. (Sorry to get all American on you!) However, the Alice+Olivia look next season has ironically been inspired by London style 'with a distinct rock n roll edge', meaning it's right up my street and perfectly suited to grey city days.