As a 'veteran' of blogging, I feel somewhat of an obligation to champion bloggers in the ever-changing digital world and let them know they're not alone in the way they're sometimes feeling. If everyone just trickles along feeling like they're doing it wrong, being treated unfairly or missing out on opportunities because they're not overwhelmingly happy about everything, then nothing ever changes. I can pretty much guarantee that any kind of episode experienced by a fellow blogger has also been experienced by many, many more of us - it's just that nobody speaks up. Right now, there's definitely something in the air that's causing much frustration and discontentment; the root cause is essentially being made to feel like a second class citizen. It's well documented that blogging has taken the beauty and fashion world by storm, bringing information to consumers in an easily accessible way that's also incredibly relatable. Blogging is the way forward and print magazines are dying out at a surprisingly fast rate; that's fact. (Don't get me wrong, I still love a glossy mag and hope they'll be around forever - but the fact is that their circulations are dropping year on year. We've lost some of my favourite titles already, and undoubtedly many more will close their doors in the next year or two as they struggle to be commercially viable.) However, it seems that the brands we often work with still find it incredibly hard to grasp this change and amend their strategies accordingly.
Back in the 90's blue mascara was about as on-trend as it got. You just weren't cool if you weren't wearing clear mascara on your lower lashes and a touch of blue on your top, finished off with a slick of transparent lipgloss. The looks, trends and fashions of that decade are certainly having a comeback right now, but if you think you've got to be a teenager to get away with it you'd be wrong. Coloured mascaras may seem like a step too far out of your comfort zone, but thanks to brands like Lancome launching wearable shades that focus on enhancing a look or ensuring your eye colour pops, the look is far more mainstream than you may imagine.
My obsession with cleansing is never ending. Over the last few years I've really seen the positive impact a great routine and a fabulous product can have on the texture, radiance and suppleness of my skin - so much so that even the thought of a face wipe alternative leaves my knees trembling. I've tried hundreds of different cleansers over the years, but in 2015 I think the offering is the best it's ever been. There are a huge number of effective products available for an affordable price point, offering an indulgent experience in your bathroom to cherish every evening. Because what better incentive to effectively cleanse every night than an invigorating and beautifully scented formula? (Have a read of my post on why double cleansing is so important here.) Right now I've been flipping between five different cleansing balms, oils and creams that really leave my skin feeling squeaky clean - without causing that tightness that's so familiar with foaming products. Here's the lowdown on each and why they're definitely worth a try.
A flush of colour on the cheeks is a sign of youth and vitality, which is why a dusting of a pretty pink or fruity peach can make the world of difference to an otherwise dull complexion. Blusher can be somewhat intimidating if you don't know how to use it, where to apply it or what the best shade is for you, which is why so many women are still passing over the power of these little pots in favour of something else. However, there are options available that provide just a slight tint - removing the scariness and ensuring the result is subtle. During the colder months a less bold colour spectrum is always more adviseable, as the starkness of our sun-starved complexions makes the difference between our base and blush even more vast. The Body Shop have created a product that meets that need perfectly, providing a subtle colour result in a workable formula that looks incredibly natural on the skin; their new Fresh Sorbet Blush is a dream in a little pot.
The media may like to make out that running a blog is akin to applying a new lipstick and expecting a million people to flock to tell you it's fabulous, but it's a little bit trickier than that. I established London Beauty Queen in 2010, and boy have things changed since that day. Back then we all just faffed around on the internet, bodged together a review of a new eyeshadow and took photos in such bad lighting you could barely see what we were talking about. Five years later and the blogging world is full of stars that are practically professional authors, stylists and photographers. It's harder than ever to stand out, carve a niche and ensure you're being the best you can be - so I've pulled together ten blog posts that will help you on your way. If you're a new blogger you may find these give you a kick in the right direction, or if you're established they may just give you the little boost you've been looking for. But either way, I hope they're helpful.
SPONSORED FEATUREWe spend roughly a third of our lives sleeping, so it's vital that we utilise this 'down time' in the best possible way. The process of sleep not only helps our minds to 're-set' and our bodies to refresh from the day, but our skin to focus on repairing the damage the daily stresses of life have often caused. However, for many of us sleep has become elusive because of the inevitable negative effects of technology; I for one often find myself on social media or answering one last email as I slip between the sheets. Being connected all of the time is counterproductive to creating the stillness and quiet that sets us up for optimal sleep. Sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan says: "What you do in the 60-90 minutes before you get into bed determines whether you're going to be able to access the deep, nourishing sleep that is absolutely vital for your wellbeing. Overloading the brain with information in the hour or so before bedtime leads to the frazzled, mentally overactive sleep that does very little to heal the mind and body and can actually leave you feeling more exhausted." In the search for the best beauty sleep ever, I've teamed up with Olay Regenerist to put some top tips into practice to see if they could make a difference to me. Could they make a difference to you too?
Cleansing is always a hot topic within beauty; the discussion evolves beyond not only about what should you be using and how you should be using it, but how many times you should undertake the process. Every day your skin is exposed to hundreds of thousands of germs and bacteria; each time you touch your face you're cross-contaminating an estimated 100,000 different nasties that you've unwillingly picked up from touching door knobs, holding a hand rail on the tube or even standing near someone that sneezes. If these nasties are left on the skin for an extensive amount of time they can lead to blocked pores and infected follicles - one of the many reasons cleansing your skin morning and night is so beneficial. On top of that we're wearing increasing layers of makeup, SPF and fragrance, all of which sit on the skin and can suffocate it if not removed effectively. Effective cleansing has never been more important (which is why cleansing balms, oils, gels and creams are becoming some of the most sought after products,) but do we really need to double cleanse?
SPONSORED FEATUREIt's easy to slack off with your skincare routine over the summer months, as the increase in sunshine and water consumption does wonders for our skin. However, as we transition from one season to the next we're already starting to feel the needs of our bodies change; they're crying out for a moisture hit, a little bit of loving and the products that can help us get through the winter months with ease. My portfolio of skincare products is expansive, but a brand I often turn to for a helping hand is Palmer's: their simplistic approach slips into my routine with ease, without compromising on effectiveness. Simple doesn't always mean ineffective - in fact, sometimes keeping it simple is the best way forward. If you're looking for a helping hand to transition you into the colder days, without adding ten more steps into your routine, then they've got five essential products that will tick all your boxes. Here's a run down of the products that will make those approaching cold November days a doddle, and how you can be using them from morning through night.
'Professional' Makeup For A Budget Price: Collection Cosmetics Does It Again With Their New Eye & Face Launches
Our beauty industry is now so expansive, offering up a huge portfolio of beautifully designed products that span across the price spectrum, that we've now choice like never before. No longer do we always need to opt for brand name over our burning desire for a bargain; logic may tell us that the more you pay the better the result, but more and more we're seeing the need to invest heavily in our makeup bags a thing of the past. Technology is improving, efficiency is rapidly reducing the cost of ingredients and brands are becoming increasingly able to offer up products that perform just as well as those you may see in a department store beauty hall. I've had a long standing relationship with Collection (previously Collection 2000,) and I'm still clinging on to memories of decades past when I used to trot to the local chemist and spend my pocket money on brown lipsticks. However, in recent years they've left behind the rather dated image and updated their portfolio with a huge range of products that really do tick all the boxes. The latest treats to land in store are no exception, offering wearable tones in space-efficient palettes that will no doubt be incredibly popular.
A picture can say a thousands words, but what if that picture just isn't saying what you want it to? Photography has become such a big part of blogging, with our thirst for beautiful and inspiring imagery increasing every day. Instagram stars are being born overnight thanks to their perfectly curated shots, while many bloggers have seen huge levels of success just because they're rather talented with a camera. If, like me, you've no photography experience whatsoever and often find yourself in a panic trying to create the perfect angle, then you may be pleased to find out there's help at hand. Although searching google for images is a death wish in disguise (never just take an image from a google search - you just don't know what copyright is attached and you could find yourself in hot water!) these five sites provide a great alternative... Absolutely free of charge.
Although I'm point blank refusing to start working on any Christmas themed posts for at least another month, sometimes it's hard to refuse a little sneaky look at something quite fabulous. Bare Minerals always knock it out of the park when it comes to their festive collections - and this year is no different. They've got beautifully adorned makeup brushes, palettes and accessories that you'll be lusting after right up until December 25th, but this ten piece mini lipstick collection may just be the best of the bunch. Black and gold packaging makes these somewhat lustworthy, while the spectrum of colour is perfectly suited to taking you from day to night with ease. Featuring their best selling Marvellous Moxie lipstick formula, all ten of these are utterly delightful... Especially as their mini sizes means they're even more collectable.
When you were little, what did you dream of doing when you left school and entered the big wide world of adulthood? Maybe it involved fighting crime, putting out fires, or working as a dog trainer. Perhaps appearing on Big Brother, singing at Wembley or owning an ice cream van was more up your street? I flitted between being a paleontologist, saving the lives of household pets and setting up my own business - before eventually settling on the rather unglamorous and mature selection of a career in marketing. However unrealistic, daydreaming about your potential is part and parcel of growing up and finding your feet in a world that can be somewhat scary; but the changing nature of celebrity and the digital world is seeing an increasing number of teenagers wanting to follow in the footsteps of their vlogging heroes. Recent research conducted by VoucherCodesPro has found that 24% of youngsters admit their career of choice is a blogger; unsurprisingly, the explosion of digital media and Zoella's world domination has had a huge impact on the aspirations of a whole generation.
We're a nation of lip balm addicts. We hoard multi-coloured pots of soothing potions, alongside brightly coloured and sweet smelling concoctions that do little more for our lips than make them a bit glossy. There's something instantly gratifying about picking up a new lip balm, and something somewhat nostalgic about applying those little compact tubes across our pouts. (Maybe because it was the only form of cosmetic permitted within a school environment!) I can't resist a novelty balm - not because of the efficacy of the smooth formula, but because of the smile it brings to my face when I apply. From peanut butter Reese's Pieces flavours to blueberry Jolly Rancher bottles, my collection is somewhat expansive and childlike. However, these two new launches bridge the gap between effectiveness and giving in to your inner child. I'm already a big fan of Balmi, but I Love are expanding their repertoire with some cute lip products that will make that smile even brighter.
SPONSORED FEATUREAs we transition from one decade to the next, our skin often starts to become dull and a little less plump around the edges; the knock-on effect can often be the appearance of tiredness and lacking the youthful glow we once had. It's incredibly easy to be persuaded into parting with a huge amount of cash when you're searching for products that will truly reveal your inner radiance, as great skin is so much more important than a fab haircut or new pair of shoes. However, it's no longer essential to invest hundreds of pounds in a great skincare regime thanks to advances in technology and investment from some of our high street's most recognised brands. This Autumn Superdrug are extending their hugely successful Optimum skincare range with the launch of new Phytodeluxe; featuring a day and night cream in beautiful (yet practical) pumps, the inclusion of the unique ingredient Black Diamond Truffle helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while improving skin’s elasticity. The result is skin that glows from within, while the formula is comparable with products ten times Optimum Phytodeluxe's price point.
Beauty advent calendars are now big business. I can remember the first ever one landing on my doorstep and squealing a little bit with excitement; it was such a unique, innovative and boundary-pushing idea that the beauty world got behind like nothing before. With brands being unable to keep their advent wares in stock long enough to keep their fans happy, it's no wonder that the concept has exploded over the last few years. In 2015 the beauty advent offering is bigger and better than ever, with pretty much every brand imaginable dipping their toes into the water. From Benefit, Clarins and The Body Shop, to Ciate, Jo Malone, Selfridges and Look Fantastic, there's a calendar to put a smile on every one of your little rosy faces. Here is my breakdown of some of the best and why you're going to want them all...
Believe it or not, up until couple of years ago my makeup brush collection consisted of a few eyeshadow brushes and a fluffy powder brush or two. I applied the majority of products with my fingers (gasp, horror) and relied on the applicators provided within products (now a mortal sin.) Until makeup brushes really became a 'thing' on the high street and brands such as EcoTools and Real Techniques started landing on my desk, I really wasn't wise to the power of a great applicator. Although there are a huge number of brands now available, it's sometimes hard to know where to turn if you don't want to spend a small fortune on a new collection of tools; even Real Techniques can get a bit pricey if you buy more than a few brushes. Introducing Nanshy - a brand that focuses on creating great tools at affordable prices, that are both ethical and durable so you can create the best looks possible. I'd never heard of them before they landed on my desk just before I flew off on holiday, so I popped the fresh fluffy tools in my case ready to give them a while... And I was seriously impressed.
It's the middle of the month and that means one thing: the majority of us are counting down to payday already. If you like to treat yourself but need to justify a little splurge to either yourself or the bank manager, then looking out for great savings, offers and promotions is the best way forward. I don't normally feature anything like this on the site, but when there are oodles of awesome things happening I think you'll want to know about then it's hard to resist. I've picked the three offers that really did make me go 'wow' when I heard about them - and think you'll say the same thing. I hope you're ready for this jelly...
Love it or loathe it, you can't look sideways without stumbling into some Star Wars memorabilia right now. If you've been living under a rock then you may not know they're rekindling the franchise this winter, with the long-awaited sequel finally being released to the applause of geeks across the land. Having never sat through the full films until a few months ago (actively encouraged by the boyfriend before we went to Star Wars Secret Cinema,) the majority of the hype passes me by... But after spending the last couple of weeks in the USA, it's hard to ignore the hysteria this hyper-brand creates within men and women of all ages. If you could put a Star Wars logo on it and create some vague link with the forthcoming film, it was there ready to be purchased! And that includes makeup. I published a sneak peek on Instagram a little while ago of some images created by Pat McGrath to celebrate the partnership of Max Factor and the Star Wars franchise, but it seems in America they're also being used within a capsule CoverGirl collection too. (For those wondering, in the States they're two separate brands - but in the UK they seem to merge quite a lot into one, being owned by the same parent company.) I managed to pick up a couple of bits while I was out there to give you a preview of what to expect when the collection hits our shores later this year.
The First Ever NARS Beauty Box: GlossyBox Create Something Very Special For Christmas (QUICK! Get Yours Before They're Gone!)
Beauty boxes may have been designed to introduce beauty lovers to brands and products they wouldn't otherwise have discovered, but sometimes it's nice to recieve something altogether more familair through your (metaphorical, because it doesn't actually fit!) letterbox. This festive season global beauty box giant GlossyBox has partnered with the iconic international beauty brand NARS, creating a limited edition box that features some of its best-selling makeup. Never before have NARS featured in a beauty box, so this is one hell of a scoop for the folks over at GlossyBox who have been working tirelessly for the best part of a year to make this happen. You can create a complete makeup look with a cherry-picked collection of the most iconic NARS products, as well as a brand new mascara you've probably yet to try. But you've got to be quick!
Can you believe that L'Oreal's iconic Color Riche lipstick is celebrating its 30th birthday? Way back in the 80's the classic bullets of colour were launched to the masses, standing the test of time thanks to their spectrum of shades and easy to wear formula. Having signed up many a celebrity face to endorse the L'Oreal brand, over the years they've been clever enough to design shades to perfectly match their varying complexions; we've had reds, nudes, classic tones and bold shades, but now it's the turn of the somewhat overlooked pinks to take centre stage. Five different limited edition shades exist (although Liya's is exclusive to Superdrug and hard to get hold of, hence the missing lipstick in the line-up below) including Helen, Blake, Eva, Naomi and Liya. Together they provide a pink tone for every complexion and need, while enhancing the colour of your lips; these aren't going to make a bold statement, but they will provide a flush of colour that's great for transitioning into the colder months.
As the nights draw in, the mornings get a little chillier and the black opaques come out for another season, it's the perfect time to start switching up your skin routine. Our limbs are exposed to brisk winds, the extreme change in temperature associated with central heating and hot baths, as well as the friction of tights being worn on almost a daily basis. This plays havoc with the hydration levels in our skin, often causing our limbs to become dry and scaly-looking in a matter of weeks. Although I love slapping on a really rich cream or body butter before bed, letting the formula get to work and help hydrate as I sleep, it's just not practical in the morning. Vaseline's spray moisturisers have long been a firm favourite of mine (thanks to their lightweight and fast drying texture,) but they've been upgraded with a little extra boost just in time for winter. In addition, the new Intensive Care Healing Serums are just what you need to help prevent dryness, soothe flaky skin and get you out the door as quick as you like.
Since its launch in 2000, Ren has become a cult favourite amongst beauty editors and consumers alike. It's now available in department stores, pharmacies and spas in over fifty countries around the world, making it a serious player in the skincare category. Not only does the brand provide groundbreaking product formulations, the latest hi-tech actives, rigorous product testing and clinically proven results, but they use only 100% plant and mineral derived actives and all their formulas are free from skin-unfriendly synthetic ingredients. This is not airy fairy skincare - this is a brand that provides results, without relying on ingredients that have the potential to irritate. Although I've used a few products over the years, it's a brand I've often passed by in favour of a more well known name; but things are a changing in my bathroom, as I've finally discovered the brilliant formulas and incredible aspirations of a home-grown British brand that I know you'll love as much as me. If you're a little confused as to where to start with their plethora of products, here are three of my favourites to get you on the right track and ensure you kick off your Ren relationship with a bang.
For some reason Benefit's new Air Patrol BB Lid Primer hasn't been a big launch in the UK; it's trickled out to stores with not much buzz or focus from the brand, which is disappointing considering it's actually really rather good. Yes, eyelid primers are nothing really new (we've had Urban Decay's original Primer Potion for the best part of a decade,) but this little tube taps into the trend of defending against environmental stresses - as well as being a perfect product for those of us starting to see the signs of ageing around the eyes. This lightweight formula dries to leave a natural matte finish that doesn't interfere with the performance or result of makeup, but does help guard your delicate eyelids against sun, smoke and pollutants.
Six bottles of Bioderma Micellar Water are now sold every second across the globe. The trend for micellar waters may have started as a makeup artist and industry secret, but the magic bottles of liquid were soon adopted by bloggers and beauty enthusiasts - creating such a demand that Bioderma was launched in the UK to rapturous applause. I'm a big fan of micellar waters, not only because they're easy and effective, but because they don't strip the skin or leave it feeling irritated. Although many friends and readers know that micellar water provides a gentle option for their skin, few really understand how they work or how they should be used. To clear the issue up once and for all, here's the truth about micellar waters - and why they're not the one-stop-shop cleansing solution you think they may be.
One of the things I get asked the most, as a makeup artist, by people who are hitting their thirties is "why do I look so old all of a sudden?" The truth is, they don't - but their skin is usually showing the signs of a complexion crying out for something new. Just because we have hit the 30, 40, 50 plus age bracket, it doesn't mean we don't want to look the best we can while keeping up with current trends. Using that harsh, stripping scrub we have re-purchased for the last ten years, and not having an eye cream firmly in our morning and nightly skincare routine, just isn't going to cut it anymore. It’s no different when it comes to makeup - often softening eye makeup and lip colours will do wonders for achieving a more youthful look; the black rimmed eyes that served us so well during our angsty teen haze does absolutely nothing for us now. Now is the time for more investment in our skincare and a little less, but cleverly placed, makeup. We need to adjust the way we do things as our skin changes, not only with gravity (damn my hooded eyelids) but in texture, elasticity and overall brightness. Here are my top tips for getting out of a beauty rut and ensuring you're always looking your best.
Getting My Beauty Sleep (With A Little Help From Olay Regenerist Age Defying Night Cream) #OLAYSWITCHOFF
Living the busy life I do, combined with late nights working and never ending social media at arms reach, getting my beauty sleep is incredibly important. It's hard to switch off and get the eight hours sleep I really need to look my best the next day, but I'm increasingly turning to nighttime rituals to get me in the right frame of mind. With a plethora of lotions, potions and oils on my bedside table, it's often hard to know what to choose when I don't have the time for a complex and time consuming routine. In the interests of keeping it simple, for a number of weeks I've been using Olay's new Regenerist 3 Point Age Defying Night Cream - which works each night to re-energise your skin’s appearance cell by cell. Its unique Skin Energising Technology accelerates the skin's surface turnover, gently exfoliating away the dull and dry surface cells for much fresher looking skin by morning. Not only does it help to tackle fine lines while intensely hydrating, but it helps provide a radiant glow and re-energised complexion that looks like you've had a great night's sleep - even when you've not!
I'm so late to this party it's not even funny, but over the last month or two I've started applying my makeup in a slightly different way. Encouraged by the contouring trend and need for great blending, I started reaching for a mini Beauty Blender (which has been sitting unused in my makeup box for blooming ages.) It started with a little blending of my foundation around the jawline, quickly evolving into a tool that helped blur the lines between bronzer and highlighter, finally ending up as the perfect way to conceal those pesky under-eye circles. The texture and size of the little foam wonder may be slightly confusing and intimidating, but don't let the odd shape put you off; it really is a great help and ensures an effortless glowing complexion that looks like you've had the best nights sleep ever.
When I wrote about smear tests a number of weeks ago, the response was incredible. The pure volume of supportive tweets, messages, emails and comments made the slight discomfort of the experience more than worthwhile, especially as a number of girls got in contact to let me know they'd booked an appointment off the back of my post as they were no longer petrified to do so. Even better was when a teacher friend of mine told me she'd been sharing the post with her students as a way of explaining the importance of female health and looking after your body. If we can make the issue of smear tests and cervical cancer a less scary one, then who knows how many lives could potentially be saved from unnecessary pain and anguish. Following on from my own smear and the experience I wrote about here, I had the dreaded call from the doctor telling me my results had come back abnormal and I would be needing treatment fairly quickly to rid my body of potentially damaging cells. In the simplest terms, I've pretty much experienced the worst possible scenario (short of full blown cancer) in the last few weeks. However, even though it's been a difficult and uncomfortable time for me, I wanted to follow up on my initial post and share my experiences further - because even the worst case scenario isn't as bad as you may think.
Over 50,000 women and around 350 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, making it the most common cancer in the UK. One woman in eight will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, with around 12,000 women and 80 men dying from breast cancer each year. Although more people are surviving breast cancer than ever before, it's still the second biggest cause of death from cancer in women. It's estimated that over 80% of breast cancer sufferers survive five years after diagnosis, but 40 years ago the five year survival rate was around 50%. Although that's an improvement and has had a huge impact on thousands of women (and their families,) we can do better. People are surviving longer thanks to advances in research new treatments, earlier diagnosis, breast screening and breast cancer awareness, but without essential fundraising this simply wouldn't be possible. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and hundreds of brands are jumping on the pink bandwagon in an attempt to both raise awareness and funds for the UK's charities, support networks and research facilities. However, every year Clinique are one of the ones that do it perfectly - launching desirable and practical products that help raise essential funds simultaneously. Here's the lowdown on 2015's offering and why you need to pink up some pink this October.