Our beauty shelves and bathrooms are awash with products labelled with the phrase 'dermatologically tested.' On some unconscious level this may put our mind at ease and help file them away in the 'good for my skin' category; it's easy to believe that a product that's been effectively tested isn't going to irritate our skin or cause unnecessary tightness. However, do we really know what this means and are we being mislead into believing any product adorned with this statement is better for us? What does 'dermatologically tested' really mean and why should we take any such claim with a pinch of salt?
Whether you're fighting blemishes or covering dark circles, concealers really are a true beauty hero. I think most of us would agree that concealer is a big player in our makeup bags, as it helps to hide all manner of skin imperfections. But what about correctors? Concealer correctors really are having a 'moment' in the beauty world; over the past few years more and more brands are launching their concealer corrector palettes to combat a multitude of skin perfections. From the higher ended Bobbi Brown and MAC offerings, to the more affordable Makeup Revolution (£6.00) number below, everyone is getting in on the act. So what is a concealer corrector palette and why do you need one in your life?
Dr PawPaw: The Multi-Functional Balm Every Woman Needs (PLUS Take Advantage Of A Very Special QVC Offer!)
Since its launch in November 2013, Dr.PAWPAW has become a go-to product for beauty enthusiasts, busy mums and those suffering with annoying dry patches on their bodies. The only PawPaw based balm that's made in the UK, Dr.PAWPAW has seen huge success in a short space of time - gaining fans in the likes of Jo Whiley, Rochelle Humes, Lucy Mecklenburgh and Glamour’s beauty editor Alessandra Steinherr. This multi-purpose soothing balm offers antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, making it more than just another Eight Hour Cream substitute. The formula features the soothing properties of fermented Pawpaw, the nutrient-rich Papaya (which is full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to aid skin repair,) anti-inflammatory Olive Fruit Oil and Aloe Barbadenis Leaf Juice (an excellent ingredient to promote skin regeneration and restore moisture.)
The bloggersphere has spawned a whole new career path, generated digital celebrities and created a lust for being your own boss like never before. Every other teenager now has a blog and aspires to be a full time blogger, which is a far cry from my day when everyone wanted to be either a vet or a Spice Girl. However, when it comes to full time blogging there are still certain questions that are somewhat unanswered; ambiguous blog posts may hint at generating an income from something that was once an understated hobby, but there's very little advice on actually how to make money from your site. The majority of bloggers tend to keep their secrets under wraps, or learnings so closely held to their chest it makes you wonder why they're worried about sharing the information around a little. When I first started writing about my favourite nail polishes and lipstick trends there wasn't anybody that could offer up advice - it was a whole new industry with no right or wrong answers, that had yet to pave the way for future digital enthusiasts. However, now we collectively know enough to share we really should. So here's a breakdown of how it's possible to make money from your site, and what you need to do to ensure that's a possibility. (If you want to that is!)
How many times have you picked out your usual portfolio of makeup and felt like you were in a little bit of a rut with your look? It's easy to stick to the same shades day-in-day-out, replacing the same product time and time again without shaking things up. Sometimes you need a helping hand or for someone to help you transition from one season to the next, ensuring you're both comfortable with your makeup look and that you're actually going to use the shades chosen - because that bright blue metallic shadow may seem like a great idea at the time, but after the first use it'll be shoved to the back of a drawer with all those other makeup regrets. This Autumn Laura Mercier have got you covered, as their ‘Eye-Con’ on-counter experience will leave you feeling excited about applying your morning makeup once more.
She’s an Italian goddess, a Hollywood legend, an inspiration for a generation. At 81 years old, Sophia Loren remains a global style and beauty icon and the embodiment of the inimitable Italian character. Her timeless look may have evolved from those classic shots we know and love so well, but there's no doubt that the sparkle in her eye and the way she sashays across a room hasn't changed a bit. This Autumn the Italian fashion powerhouse Dolce & Gabbana have created a loving tribute to both Sophia, and all women. According to D&G: "A lipstick represents ultimate femininity... It symbolises the designers’ interpretation of beauty which manifests itself in a smile. The same sensual, generous smile that made Sophia Loren the most famous Italian actress in the world." Partnering with Sophia herself to create a signature shade, 'Sophia Loren No 1' is a lipstick like no other. The rich dusty pink shade is timeless, ageless and is perfectly suited to the Italian complexion; the warm undertones help skin to glow, while keeping the focus of the look on your natural beauty.
Guest Post: Written By Sophie Blackwell of Pretty & Polished
Since I was 3 years old, I’ve suffered from a mental health disorder called trichotillomania. Living with and coming to terms with a disorder that no-one has any real understanding of is a difficult process, and one which poses challenges every day. It’s an incredibly complex disorder, and presents so many twists and turns when learning about it, which means trying to raise awareness is evermore important. I'm now 21 and still discovering more about the disorder everyday. I’ve managed to find an outlet through writing, and hope that open discussions, like this, about trichotillomania and mental health in general will bring a sense of peace to both sufferers and their friends and family. So what is trichotillomania, how does it effect people and why is it the most common disorder you've never heard of?
"87% OF THE LBQ TESTING PANEL WOULD RECOMMEND RAPIDLASH TO A FRIEND" (The Results Of Our Reader Trial Are In!)
A rich lash line and full flutter is subconsciously associated with youth and vitality; the quest for perfect eyelashes has become a multi million pound industry, spawning not only innovative mascaras and artificial extensions, but a desire for the magical answer unrivalled by little else. There's something about a full and striking set of lashes that makes me feel ready to face the day; it provides me with confidence, helps to widen my eyes keeps me looking fresh. But what if you could achieve a better flutter by focusing on the lashes beneath the makeup, working with the foundation upwards to ensure your natural lash line is the best it can be? That's where RapidLash (the first eyelash enhancing serum to hit the UK market back in 2010) comes in; the clinically-proven and paraben-free serum helps improve the overall appearance and condition of your lashes in as little as four weeks. It can help provide your lashes with a much needed boost, ensuring a simple and effective solution that really does have a big impact on more than just your lash line.
Brittle, flaking, chipped and thin nails are a problem of a generation. Excessive typing on our laptops, constant swiping on our smartphones, drying washing-up liquids and the harsh temperatures can play havoc with the moisture levels in our hands - which in turn causes our nails to look a little worse for wear. Although there are lots of little things you can do to grow your nails effectively (read my top tips here,) sometimes you need a serious helping hand to get your talons into shape. I've tried so many treatments, base coats and strengthening formulas that my collection is bursting at the seams; but this little blue bottle from Mavala has become the unexpected hero of them all, turning my flaky and dry nails into almost perfect specimens. Twice.
In my opinion, you're either a lover of home fragrance or your not. You either fill your abode with deliciously scented candles and diffusers, or you're happy with an Air Wick and a spritz of Febreze. I well and truly sit in the former category, having overloaded my surfaces with every kind of perfume imaginable - from £80.00 candles I'm afraid to light and beautifully packaged vintage numbers that are there for decoration, to reed diffusers that fill the room with a comforting and uplifting fragrance. It's not all about the scent though, as these display pieces need to look the part; they're more than just a way to make a room smell delicious, they act as focal points of a fireplace or windowsill. Alex Simone of Monaco are a brand incredibly new to me, but as soon as I opened the delightful package that arrived on my doorstep I knew it was going to be a long-lasting love affair. Not only does the monochrome design and Jo-Malone-esque ribbon scream elegance, but their fragrances are rather unexpected - in the sweetest way possible.
As women, we're constantly trying to be perfect at absolutely everything we do; the pressures that we feel from the outside world just amplify our feelings of inadequacy, meaning we're emotionally drained and collectively believing we're all failures. According to a recent survey conducted by Sanctuary, 40% of women admit they feel like they're about to burn out, 70% feel like they should be the 'perfect woman', while 80% admit to putting far too much pressure on themselves. Seeing as we accomplish (on average) 26 different tasks in any one day, it's not exactly like we're slacking off. So why do we feel so down on ourselves and what can we do about it? Juggling the roles of friend, daughter, sister, mother and partner with the ever increasing pressures of our working lives leaves little room for 'me time' - but that moment to ourselves can offer clarity and release, albeit momentarily. Sanctuary say: "As an iconic female British brand we want to challenge the perception that success equates to busyness, leaning-in and being a superwoman. To us, success and wellbeing lie in stepping back every now and again, appreciating those moments and letting go." They've created a film (below) which raises awareness of this cause, capturing the need for women to #LetGo and focus on the moments that matter. And I blooming love it.
Although I love tones that slip effortlessly into my routine, I also like to be challenged into using colours I wouldn't normally opt for. We all know how to use a nude, a taupey-brown or a smokey grey, but if presented with a khaki or burnt orange would you run away or embrace the new? Illamasqua are so well known for their crazy shades and unusual textures, but for Autumn they've created a collection which embraces their heritage while providing a really wearable portfolio. Mixed in with pure pigments of silver and gold are the earthy tones of terracotta and molten metal, with a flash of deep browny-red on the lips. You may look at this collection and think it somewhat unwearable, but the result is actually perfect for the new season; the usual tones are boosted with the unexpected - this is Autumn with a little something new.
Didn't your mum always tell you that the best things come in small packages? There's something incredibly gratifying about a tiny lipstick, a bite-sized burger, a handbag-sized hairbrush, or even mini ice cream cones; but what if you could get all the greatness of the regular size in mini form? The clever people at Sure have identified the need for smaller sizes of their iconic cans (both for convenience and environmental reasons,) but didn't want to compromise on the performance or volume they offered. After reengineering the spray system (reducing the amount of gas needed to deliver the same amount of product with each spray,) the mini sized Sure Compressed cans last just as long and work just as well as the regular cans. Clever huh! Each can contains the same amount of product as the original, but in a smaller, smarter and more convenient can. Not only is it more environmentally friendly with a smaller carbon footprint, but Sure Compressed deodorant lasts just as long as the big cans - providing you with equal protection while keeping you fresh, dry and protected.
The list of ingredients that we're now told to avoid within our cosmetics is getting longer and longer. Sulphates, parabens, formaldehyde, mineral oil... But why is mineral oil, being such a common ingredient, put on the naughty list and widely documented as being bad for your skin? A colourless and odourless bi-product of the oil refinery process, mineral oil is often added to ingredients because it's readily available and cheap; the main benefit it offers is to reduce water loss in the skin by 'trapping' it on the surface, which is why it's included in many skincare and body products that claim to moisturise or hydrate. It's included in anything from cleansing oils, face creams and body lotions and often listed within ingredients as a derivative of petroleum. Mineral oil has definitely been getting a hard rap in the last few years from beauty experts and cosmetic enthusiasts, but is it really that bad for your skin? And why does it have such a bad reputation in the first place?
Every time a package of Kiko Cosmetics lands on my doorstep I can't wait to see what's inside. It can get a little bit repetative saying that they're always pushing the boundaries and coming up with something new, but their innovation and creativity is unrivalled by any other brand in the beauty industry. Yes they may be gimmicky, yes they may not be the best quality there ever was, but they definitely provide affordable and fun makeup that satisfies our need for something new. Their new Midnight Siren collection is no different, especially thanks to these space-age balls that contain space-age appropriate products. I had no idea what to expect when taking them out of the box, but inside these mini planets are cute highlighting and contouring powders that add another dimension to your complexion.
#SwitchToWitch: Introducing The NEW Witch Gentle Exfoliating Face Wash (PLUS 500 FREE Samples Up For Grabs!)
Radiant skin starts from the very first moment you get out of bed and stumble into the shower, half asleep and in desperate need of an extra strong shot of caffeine. It's easy to lather up your hair and give your bits a quick wash, forgetting that your face needs a whole routine of its own - but using a specific cleanser to wash away the sweat and residue that's build up over night is the best way to start your day. Never one to pass up on an offer to try a new face wash (especially if it's free from drying sulphates,) I've been putting the new and improved Gentle Exfoliating Face Wash from Witch Skincare to the test - and want you to too! The gentle exfoliator now contains even more naturally active micro-granules to help unclog pores and remove impurities, whilst leaving skin feeling clean, smooth and radiant. It harnesses the natural goodness of witch hazel (which cleanses, tones and soothes skin) to leave your face feeling healthy and looking visibly clearer.
It's easy to associate The Body Shop with brightly coloured packs, superficial benefits and the scent of White Musk in the morning - but things, they are a-changing. Over the last few months they've been channeling their expertise into products that look great, feel great and are super efficient at hydrating the skin; a world away from the super sweet body butters and peppermint foot lotions of the past. Their 'Spa Of The World' collection was the first dabble into this new brand identity, capitalising on their ingredient expertise and focusing on naturally derived formulas, but they're taking this one step further with this four piece 'Oils Of Life' line-up that's targeted at women wanting more. Each one of the products contains three precious seed oils (black cumin, camellia and rosehip,) and provides a highly-sensorial texture; the skincare collection has been designed to intensely revitalise skin and revives radiance, leaving your complexion glowing - whatever your age.
Did you know that nail polish is the fastest growing sector within beauty, accounting for the majority of growth year on year and completely overtaking our obsession with lipstick? There's something a little bit special and indulgent about treating yourself to a new polish, helping to instantly update your look without breaking the bank or filling you with guilt. However, more and more brands are popping up that simultaneously satisfy your inner glamour-puss while helping you to make decisions that are better for your health too. I've written before about organic and natural nail polish, detailing why 'three/five/nine free' nail varnishes are becoming increasingly popular, but Smith & Cult take that to a whole new level; their Net-A-Porter quality packs are delicious, beautiful and the epitome of elegance - while being free from nasties including Dibutyl, Phthalate, Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin and Camphor.
As we transition from one season to the next, it's easy to feel lethargic and blue. You may well of had your summer break some months ago, anticipating a few weeks of late summer sun in the UK, but the grey skies have kept us indoors binging on box sets and packets of Haribo. There may be little in your diary to get you excited, or you've already started the countdown to Christmas, but it's more important than ever during this time to take some time out to refresh, re-energise and keep your spirits high - as well as booking little treats to ensure you've something to look forward to. What better timing than now then for lastminute.com to launch their Two Week Spa-tacular! Running from 14th-28th September, the celebration of all things pampering includes some fantastic deals where you can save up to 70% off the usual price. Enjoy treatments from only £10.00, Spa Days from £25.00 and full on leave-me-be Spa Breaks from just £60.00 per person! It's the perfect excuse to try something a little different, or indulge in an experience you wouldn't normally have the inclination to book. From chocolate body wraps and aromatherapy facials, to deep tissue massage and hot waxing - lastminute.com has it covered!
As consumers step away more and more from ingredients they deem harmful (sulphates, parabens, mineral oils...) it becomes increasingly commercially beneficial for brands to capitalise on the organic beauty trend that's been growing over the last ten years. Gone are the days when organic formulas were sticky, gloopy, runny, smelly or generally not that pleasant to use; technological and scientific advances now see the most natural and organic products being indistinguishable from those that are bursting with chemicals. However, this posts an increasing dilemma for consumers as more and more brands jump on the bandwagon in an attempt to benefit from a trend - rather than offering a serious alternative. Organic has become the buzzword in beauty, but what does organic really mean and how can you ensure you're making wise shopping decisions?
If there's one brand I'm turning towards more and more for basics that do the job incredibly well, it's Illamasqua. More well known for their colour cosmetics and innovative advertising campaigns than their contouring and blushers, you may be surprised to know they offer a whole heap of understated products that will leave you looking and feeling fab. I'm still using their delicious contouring palette on pretty much a daily basis, while their Hydra Veil was a fundamental part of my routine for the best part of a year; but now it's the turn of their brand new Radiance Veil to capture my attention - thanks to it's multi-functional benefit and subtle finish. This is much more than just another highlighter.
In the hope of a cleaner and more 'natural' approach to our beauty regimes, there's a never ending long list of ingredients we should be avoiding. Although parabens and mineral oil have long been slandered, it's now the turn of sulphates to be on the receiving end of mild hysteria. The previously unknown ingredient has been a favourite of manufacturers for decades, but why are sulphates all of a sudden getting a bit of a bad reputation? I've been avoiding sulphates in my shampoos for time now - a personal choice based on the need to preserve and maintain my incredibly expensive hair extensions. However, it's not because I'm scared of my morning lather giving me cancer or any such ludicrous statements, it's simply because I want to look after my tresses in the best way possible... So what's really so bad about sulphates and should we be avoiding them?
Celebrity and designer fragrances are ten a penny, but occasionally one pops up that leaves me both intrigued and excited. Miu Miu, the little sister of Prada, has come into its own in recent years thanks to its fresh style and innovative design; unlike it's sister brand that's considered and structured, Miu Miu is a firm favourite amongst Asian customers in particular because of its playful shapes and bold colours. (Although it's growing in popularity in the UK too, despite the price tag!) There's definitely a hint of the Japanese about its design, which definitely translates into the striking bottle of its debut scent. I wasn't sure what to expect from a brand that always reinvents the wheel, but suffice to say the result is a modern twist on a classic scent you may recognise.
There are few brands that are as polarising and controversial as 'intimate hygiene' ones. Having been historically marketed as washes, wipes and deodorants for your lady garden, many believe they condemn our natural scent as something to be ashamed of - or simply over-complicate our beauty regimes by trying to sell us something we don't really need. As many beauty brands capitalise on our insecurities to make a fast buck, it becomes easy to tar them all with the same brush and assume the stories we're sold are little more than marketing gumph. But when it comes to feminine care there really is more to it than a clever story; it's all about understanding the unique needs of this delicate area and treating it with a bit more care and attention than we may have been otherwise. Although brands like Vagisil and FemFresh have been hiding away on the lower shelves of Boots for years, in 2015 SASS are changing it up and proving that looking after yourself shouldn't be an after thought. Founded on a genuine need and lack of options, SASS understands that busy lifestyles can lead to a whole heap of issues - so they set about trying to help. We put more thought into our hair care regime than we do to our intimate bits, which is somewhat ridiculous, but SASS are set to change the game and re-educate a whole new generation on the importance of feminine care.
Massage candles are not a new thing, but they do continue to surprise and delight me. They have so much more to offer than a standard pot of wax, marrying the invigorating benefit of scent with a formula that helps to nourish and care for the body. (Plus anything that encourages a little pre-bedtime massage is good with me.) French-born Danièle Ryman is widely recognised as the world’s leading aromatherapist; the author of six books (printed in 18 languages) a lecturer and creator of products for major companies across the globe, her knowledge and passion for scent is unrivalled. Utilising her experience in the best possible way, Danièle has developed the formulation for her new range of multi-purpose massage oil candles with the purest quality essential oils. All of them have natural antiseptic, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties, while the candles themselves can be used in a multitude of ways. Used at spas around the world, her range comprises of six candles that offer a variety of benefits: Alive, Detoxify, Defence, Sleepy, Slender and Unwind.
I may have a huge portfolio of favourite blogs that I turn to on almost a daily basis, but there's never harm in adding a handful more to my ever expanding Bloglovin feed. It's so much harder to have a point of difference today than it was when I first started, but that doesn't mean there aren't oodles of undiscovered sites waiting to offer up something new or a touch of inspiration on a dreary afternoon. As has become somewhat of a tradition on LBQ, here is the latest edit of the blogs to watch this September - and why you should give them a follow!
This post has been bubbling away under the surface for some time. I try to keep myself as positive as possible, but occasionally something frustrates me so much that I have to get it out there; a weight inevitably lifts off my shoulders and more often than not a huge number of others feel exactly the same, so it's always worth it. Whether your a full time blogger, a part time enthusiast or an occasional writer that loves feeling part of a community, it's hard work juggling all our different priorities without dropping something altogether. I have a blog to run, a new network to promote, a second site to manage, clients to provide content for, strategy to develop, photos to take, social media to update, meetings to host and products to test; my time is more precious than gold because there's so little of it. I need to generate income, continually strive to keep my place in the bloggersphere, negotiate deals and draw up proposals; although important in their own way, often at the very bottom of my list are appointments and launches.
There's something somewhat lust-worthy about a French beauty brand. The French pharmacy market has taken the UK by storm over the last couple of years, providing a rather exotic alternative to the British brands that have been part of our repertoire for years. Although I'm a firm believer in supporting homegrown talent and British business, there's nothing quite like popping on the Eurostar for a little indulgent shopping trip in 'Gay Paris'. French women carry themselves in a completely different way to us Brits, relying on their glowing natural beauty rather than applying a mask of makeup or sticking on false lashes before a night on the town; they invest in their skincare regime, have a dermatologist on speed dial and believe in the power of a nude lipstick over a bright blue eyeshadow. Our high streets are bursting with Boots, Superdrug, Space NK and department stores, but in Paris it's all about the local 'pharmacie' and an indulgent trip to Sephora. If you fancy channeling your inner Parisienne, then here are my top five beauty brands to pick up the next time you're in the land of macarons and extra strong coffee.
Skincare is big business. No matter our age or complexion related woes, we're all searching for that wonder product that's going to help us look our best. It's no longer enough just to cleanse, tone and moisturise your way to great skin - now we have to add exfoliators, masques, serums, eye creams and lotions into the mix just to maintain our healthy looking skin for longer. If that wasn't enough, then there's a new trend exploding that could have you scratching your head and wondering if we really need to add another step to an already complex regime? But the new boom of essences, spritzes and boosting serums isn't going away any time soon - because there really is something in it. For years we've been happily applying our moisturisers and serums on a daily basis and hoping for the best, not fully understanding if they're actually providing any tangible benefit. However, this new range of products contains ingredients that boost the performance of your existing products while ensuring your complexion glows almost instantly.
Beauty and technology don't have to be worlds apart. Some of the most advanced science and leaps forward in innovation come from the beauty industry, as we continually strive for bigger and better things. Equally, as we demand more and more from our smartphones they become a fundamental part of our lives; from staying connected via social media, to the apps that provide virtual makeovers or allow us to book a last minute manicure at the swipe of a button. But that increasing usage and reliance means one thing: our batteries are always running low. Although there are plenty of powerbanks and portable chargers available on the market right now to help tackle that problem, they're often chunky, heavy, ugly and impractical. So what if you could marry the needs of your smartphone with your own beauty needs and develop a product that's innovative, beautiful, practical and space saving? Introducing I'mUp: the world's first beauty compact powerbank.
L'Occitane seem to tick all the boxes when it comes to affordable luxury. Their super rich body butters, indulgent bath soaks and luxurious massage oils help to invigorate the senses while relaxing the mind; they're fabulous treats that bring to life L'Occitane's forty years experience in capitalising on the benefits of aromatherapy and the science of scent. Launched last year to almost universal applause, the L'Occitane 'apothecary style' Aromachologie sub-brand takes this fundemental idea further by using the power of scent in a range of Relaxing, Revitalising and now Rebalancing products. During this transitional period when we're between seasons and not too sure what day it is, we can all benefit from from a little helping hand; with a 100% re-energizing scent and scientifically proven rebalancing effectiveness, this new Aromachologie line is made to awaken the senses, help restore balance, and bring well-being and harmony to body and mind. Perfect.
The last couple of years have seen an explosion of interest in healthy eating, exercise, mindfulness and understanding that wellness starts from within. You can apply all the creams, lotions, potions and makeup products you want, but if you're not looking after yourself from the inside out then the results will only have their limitations. I'm a firm believer in supplements, superfoods and smoothies - especially having seen the impact of high potency fish oil tablets on my boyfriend's eczema over the period of a few months. Gold Collagen are continuing that journey with their pioneering liquid beauty supplement, which comes with a host of skin-boosting benefits to leave consumers looking and feeling their best. The Gold Collagen supplements have been specifically developed to nourish skin from the inside and out, targeting the visible signs of ageing linked with collagen loss; they aim to create smoother, plumper, more youthful looking skin with just one tasty shot a day. I roped in the help of my best friend to put the little vials to the test over a month long period, to see if they could make a difference to her... And these are the results.