I feel like I've been on a never-ending quest for the holy grail of mascaras for the last fifteen years. There's never one mascara that offers it all, but there are a huge number of worthwhile purchases that can at least tick a box or two when it comes to creating the perfect flutter; I've become a double-mascara addict, relying on the combination of two (and sometimes more) individual products to deliver the collective result I'm after. Some formulas are great at lengthening, others are great at volumising; some bottles contain the perfect primer, while some effortlessly separate for a super natural finish. These are the five mascaras that have earned their place within my collection and are definitely worth giving a go as we step from one year to the next: regardless of what kind of impact you're after, there will undoubtedly be something to whet your appetite.
SPONSORED FEATUREIf there has been one major trend in 2015, then it's the trend of 'beauty from within'. Superfoods, supplements and beauty drinks have never been more popular, as we look to enrich and boost the effects of that expensive face cream with a little something from Mother Nature. Research indicates that consuming natural antioxidants from foods may have significant beauty benefits, working from the inside to help nourish and protect skin*. At the same time, more and more beauty products are harnessing the natural, nutritious benefits from ingredients including berries, almonds and greens; it seems we understand the positive impact eating right can have on our bodies, so we're turning to the same sources to look after our skin too. But rather than overcomplicating and diluting the potential impact, why not turn to a simple and easy approach to wellbeing? Eating a handful of almonds on a daily basis will not only keep your waistline in check this New Year, but offer up a whole host of skincare benefits too.
Nothing quite says 'big night out' at Christmas more than a powerful red lip. Although I personally love to rock a scarlet pout as much on a Tuesday afternoon as a Friday night, for the majority red lipstick is reserved for special occasions or serious partying. If the thought of a bold bullet makes your knees quiver, then you may be pleased to know there are now a huge range of wearable lipsticks that are built around two key issues - comfort and longevity. Only a few years ago you could be left with dry, patchy and uncomfortable lips (with more coverage on your wine glass or coffee cup than your pout) if you opted for a lipstick, but now the options are vast - and more affordable than ever. As a hoarder of red tones, here are five of my personal favourites that offer up a really wearable texture; each one provides serious pigment, comfort and a long-lasting finish.
SPONSORED FEATUREIf you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen that over the last couple of weeks I've been sharing some fabulous gifts from many beauty blogger's favourite brand: Burt's Bees. I'm a huge fan of their 100% natural lip balms and hand solutions, but it's been great to get to grips with all the other products they have to offer this Christmas - and share them with you too! If you're still floundering around aimlessly trying to think of a fabulous gift for a loved one, then Burt's may have the solution you're looking for. Their huge portfolio of beautifully packed gifts don't even require extra wrapping, saving you valuable minutes if you've left your shopping until the last moment. From affordable stocking fillers, targeted skincare treats, introductory gift sets and pampering must-haves, there's something for your every need. Here are some of my personal favourites - and an opportunity for you to win your very own!
I can be drowning in skincare at any one time, so it takes a lot for me to genuinely fall in love with a product and stick with it to the very end. It's incredibly easy to flitter from one to the next, continually searching for the holy grail that will leave my skin feeling radiant and healthy; there has to be something really rather special to keep me going back for more - let alone a second bottle! Many of the formulations we see on a daily basis are incredibly similar, the only differentiating factor the pack it comes in and the marketing noise that accompanies it. But sometimes I just can't get enough of something and bi-pass all others in favour of a daily hit; here are three great skincare products that I've used all the way to the very last drop, and have already got a back-up bottle on stand-by... That's how much I rate them. If you need to invest in some new products for a new year, these are definitely a great place to start.
SPONSORED FEATURECan you believe there's only a matter of days left in 2015? Soon enough we'll be popping open the champagne, lighting the sparklers and ringing in another new year. After the lethargy of the Christmas break, when onesies and comfy jumpers are the attire of choice, it's no surprise that we all embrace New Years Eve as an opportunity to get glammed up once again. Traditionally glitter is top of the billing when it comes to our makeup looks, but often a touch of sparkle can be intimidating and not exactly age inclusive - but there are ways to create a sparkly look without feeling like a Bratz doll. Serious glittery makeup is often perceived to be high fashion and completely unwearable by those of us living in the real world, but this Christmas Britain's favourite department store, House of Fraser, has created a series of short tutorials that prove you really *can* embrace your inner glitter vixen this forthcoming party season. From powerful 3D glitter eyes that take only a few minutes to create, to wearable red glitter lips and subtle glittery nail tips, there's something for everyone - proving that it really is Your Christmas, Your Rules.
Did you know there are over ten million tampons users in UK using an average of twenty tampons per cycle, of which approximately 60% are being flushed (without a second thought) down the toilet? This means that 144 million tampons end up in our sewers, rivers and oceans each year, causing not only unnecessary blockages but a negative impact on our marine environment. Water companies across England and Wales spent approximately £70 million clearing more than 300,000 blockages in 2013 - and the problem is only going to get bigger. If, like me, you always assumed that disposing of your used sanitary products down the loo wasn't a big deal, then it's time to wise up. I've genuinely always believed that the UK's plumbing and sewage systems were more than capable of dealing with a few tampons, but it's shocking to find out that's simply not the case. Tampons are one of the biggest causes of blockages and efficiency difficulties, while the approximately 11,000 its estimated we'll use over our lifetime will either end up in landfill or the sea. That's not ok. So what can we do to ensure our tampons are disposed of correctly? Fab Little Bag is a new concept that aims to make the disposal process easy, efficient, hygienic and pleasant - as well as an affordable alternative to the habits we've formed over the course of a lifetime.
The digital world evolves at a pace that's incomparable to anything that's come before it; what makes it exciting is that so much changes in the space of a few months. Way back at the beginning of the year I wrote a post on how I expected blogging to change in 2015. We'd already seen blogs evolve from a part-time hobby that provided a creative outlet to many, into a commercial venture that millions were turning to instead of traditional media - but so much more was inevitably to come. Nearly twelve months ago I pinpointed eight different predictions for the year ahead, based on what we'd all been part of in the months prior... But did these predictions come true? Was I on to something, or did I totally miss the mark? Let's have a look at how our much loved world evolved and whether or not it happened as expected.
Why is it that tiny sized treats taste all the sweeter? Why are mini things all the more covetable than their regular counterparts? Is it because their nostalgic references remind us of our youth, or simply because their reduced size leaves room for even more impractical additions to our handbags? With clutches getting smaller, and our oversized bags often being replaced with more practical cross-body numbers, it's no surprise that cosmetics are following the same trend. New British brand Bagsy have created a whole line of cosmetics based cornering the mini market, while Benefit are as well known for their tiny sizes than they are their full-sized products (giving away previews with magazines is a sure fire way to generate much enthusiasm around a new launch.) Even Real Techniques, Bobbi Brown and Makeup Revolution have launched cosmetics brushes in tiny sizes, knowing we're likely to buy the original versions too. So why are we so obsessed with mini things? Here are the five reasons that I can't get enough, and why the fascination won't be ending soon...
If there's any bug, sniffle, lurgy or ailment doing the rounds, then it seems to stop by my front door to say hello. I'm not normally a sick person, but the last few months I seem to have barely spent a full week feeling 100%; from 24hr tummy bugs, chest infections and full-on flu, you name it and I've suffered it. Although there's nothing more you can do than wrap up warm, sip on honey and lemon, dose yourself with paracetamol and watch boxsets of your favourite telly show, there is a magical little green bottle that can help you feel a touch better. It's been my saving grace on more than one occasion over the last couple of months, helping to clear my head and soothe my muscles simultaneously. Moa's Green Bath Potion may look like something you'd pick up from a 1940's apothecary, but it's actually a fabulous little product that provides an experience that's like bathing in a metaphorical bottle of Covonia cough syrup. It's comforting, clearing and helps you face the day.
We have such an emotional connection to our hair; a 'bad hair day' can have such a big impact on our attitude and outlook, while a 'good hair day' makes everything else seem much more rosy. Although a trip to the hairdresser is supposed to be fun, indulgent and relaxing, the anxiety we often feel at the thought of some unknown creative taking a pair of scissors to our barnet is real. Choosing a great hairdresser is a fundamental part of the process; for some it's as intimate as picking a gynecologist or masseuse - because you're putting your trust in their hands to make the next three months of your life bouncy and stylish. If that goes wrong there could well be tears... And hats. I've had my fair share of horrendous experiences over the years, but equally have found some amazing stylists along the way who I completely trust with my split ends and grey roots. While sitting in a salon chair a few weeks ago I started to reflect upon what makes a good experience and what makes a bad; sometimes we all need a little push to switch things up a bit and find ourselves a hairdresser that will fulfill all our wildest dreams. Here are the ten signs you need to find a new hairdresser... Because there's no better time to try something new than a new year.
(AND EAU THERMALE AVENE ARE LEADING THE WAY)Over the last decade the beauty world has become obsessed with the concept of 'anti-ageing'. Every product launch sees a new wave of claims that promise to "rekindle our lost youth" or "turn back the clock," but when did ageing become such a bad thing? When did wrinkles and laughter lines become something to be ashamed of? In other cultures age is associated with wisdom; wrinkles command respect. In the western world fine lines, grey hair and a somewhat expanding waistline are met with apprehension and dread; it seems that past the age of 25 we lose our social equity entirely - because if we're not beautiful in the traditional 'Victoria Secret model sense' then what's our value on this earth? Botox has never been more mainstream; eye lifts have never been more affordable; the shelves of our local Boots have never been so full of false promises. Women are spoken to in an increasingly patronising and derogatory sense, with brands scaring us into parting with our cash in the hope we'll wake up tomorrow with the skin of a teenager. However, there's a growing section of society that are standing up and saying enough is enough - something needs to change.
I'm so very ready for it to be Christmas already. I can't wait to wrap up in a blanket, crack open a box of Quality Street and watch all the rubbish festive telly the BBC has to offer - but before then, we've still got a few last minute gifts to pick up for loved ones. If you've not finished your shopping (or even started it!) and you need some inspiration, then I've pulled together an edit of fifteen fabulous gifts for all the glam girls in your life. Every single one of these are suited for women of any age and any level of beauty interest; some are more affordable than others, but most importantly they all offer a little bit of festive sparkle in their own special way.
My inbox is constantly overflowing with press releases and invitations, while my postie and I are on better terms than I am with some of my mates. I'm fortunate enough to be in a position where there's always something new to write about and I always have the latest product to test, but with that comes the tricky decision of picking what to feature. Although some items and ideas are a no brainer, some take much more consideration; there's often a fight for survival going on in my office - even if it is between a lip balm and and a body lotion. But from a brand point of view, how can you ensure you have the best chance of a feature possible? What are the key ways to guarantee a successful piece of outreach? There may not be a magic answer, but there are key things to avoid to prevent your product from being ignored or overlooked; here are the five main reasons I'm not writing about your product - and what you can do to fix it.
As another year comes to a close, it becomes both a time to reflect and an opportunity to look forward. Unsurprisingly, 2015 has been a big year for beauty as innovation has been spilling over into every category and always providing me with something new to talk about. Korean beauty has been a massive influence, sheet masks are becoming as normalised as toothpaste, oils have been having a moment and a 'back to basics' ingredient approach has seen even the most premium brands nod to Mother Nature. But what does 2016 have in store for us? The clever bods at JWT Innovation have compiled a report into the top ten beauty trends they expect to be huge over the next twelve months; from freckles and halal makeup, to beauty foods and mystic influences, the results provide a fascinating insight into what could be just around the corner for us all. Here are the top ten beauty trends to expect in 2016, and what it could mean for your own routine...
One of the things I adore most about the bloggersphere is the fact that there's always something new to read. New sites pop up daily, inspired by their own favourite bloggers, offering a fresh perspective and a dose of something different - that more often than not ignites all of our passions for writing once again. I've thoroughly enjoyed highlighting great sites in the past (some of which have gone on to become hugely successful... Including In The Frow and My Pale Skin) and it's something I won't stop doing any time soon. As 2015 draws to a close, here are seven great blogs that you definitely need to check out; covering all genres, styles and needs, there's definitely something to whet your appetite and end the year on a high.
SPONSORED FEATUREAccording to the Skin Cancer Foundation, just because you can’t see your shadow or a burning ball of sunshine in the sky, it doesn’t mean you're actually safe from the sun’s damaging rays. Although we've been programmed to associate holidays, exotic locations and cocktails with the need to layer up with sun protection, up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can actually penetrate through clouds and fog; that means that stepping outside on a dreary winter's morning can potentially be just as harmful as a sunny spring day. Even more concerning is the fact that snow can reflect up to 80% of the UV light from the sun, meaning that you are often hit by the same rays twice. Who knew that building a snowman had the potential to cause as much sun damage as a lazy afternoon in Kavos? It's important to be mindful of looking after our skin (regardless of the season) not only because of the associated skin cancer risks, but because UV exposure is the number one reason for accelerated ageing; nobody wants to speed up the onset of those fine lines and wrinkles, so integrating an effective and lightweight SPF into your daily routine is the simplest tactic towards prevention. Facial SPF’s were once heavy, greasy and sticky and prevented makeup from applying well over the surface, but times have changed. Formula’s are now much lighter, more practical and designed to work in conjunction with other skincare and makeup. Hawaiian Tropic has nailed this with Silk Hydration Face SPF30, which not only offers an invisible finish, but up to twelve hours of moisturisation too.
Hair removal is one of the most unglamorous parts of any routine, but it's the one thing that can cause the most issues if we don't pay attention. Although I dabble in depilatory creams, epilating and waxing, inevitably I always end up reaching for the razor when I've neglected my limbs and need to rock a skirt. I'm awful at remembering to change my razor (I dread to think how long they stay in my shower before I finally give in and swap them in for a new one,) and it seems that I'm not alone. Research conducted by new razor delivery service Friction Free Shaving found that 94% of women fail to change their razor blades on a weekly basis, despite the advice of skin experts who advocate ‘changing the razor blade each time you shave’. Apparently women change their razor blades 60% less frequently than men, with 82% citing cost as the key barrier - unsurprising seeing that the average price of a branded four pack of razor refills is £10.99. But why is it so important to keep your tools top notch and how can this new service help?
The birth of blogging was the direct result of our need for honesty, realism and a sprinkling of rawness. Over the last five years the digital world has exploded as we all become a little bit obsessed with finding people 'just like us' online, connecting in a way that's fundamentally based on a common interest or goal. I for one was a little disheartened with the glossiness of magazines and the falseness of reality television back in 2010, which is why I started to share my passions with others via this site. Fast forward a few years and blogs have evolved to be something altogether different from what they once were, almost becoming as glossy and aspirational as the magazines we once were revolting against. Bloggers are sporting their designer bags and brand new rose gold watches, sipping their soy lattes and flying off to exotic locations as if it was a trip to Birmingham; although we all grow, evolve and discover new passions (as well as disposable incomes,) it seems that our online lives are now completely controlled by our need to project a certain image of ourselves. Essena O'Neill has already had a breakdown about the whole thing (although how much of that was either a cry for help or publicity stunt to launch her new site we'll never know,) but it seems that so is the pressure of bloggers to project a 'perfect life' that many of those within the community are quite simply adopting the mantra "fake it til you make it".
One of my favourite things about Christmas is sitting down in front of the tree, mince pies on a plate, and wrapping up all the gifts I've bought for loved ones. I get more excited about my wrapping paper of choice than I sometimes do about the gifts themselves (Paperchase and their sprout collection is a personal fave,) but I know many others struggle. If you're not particularly skilled when it comes to the art of sellotape, then you may be pleased to know there are a whole selection of gifts available that require no wrapping whatsoever. It's not technically cheating when the packs are more beautiful than any Santa-adorned paper could ever be; all you need is a little sticky bow and a hand-written label, then you're good to go. Here are five of my favourite pre-wrapped gifts for a lazy approach to the festive period... Without giving the game away.
We overuse the word 'iconic' in the beauty industry, but if there's one brand or product that's deserving of the label then it's Elizabeth Arden and their classic Eight Hour Cream formula. Originally launched back in 1930 by Elizabeth Arden herself, this little tube has been the most written about product in the beauty industry over the last five years. Added to that it's multiple uses (check out my top ten uses for the balm here,) it's no surprise the Eight Hour franchise accounts for over half of Arden's UK sales. Today sees the launch of a new 'gold standard' in the famed Eight Hour family, that continues the brand’s heritage as a leader in multi-purpose beauty essentials: Eight Hour Cream All-Over Miracle Oil. This new oil formulation provides luxurious head-to-toe conditioning benefits to the body, face and hair; clinically proven to moisturize for 8-12 hours, the lightweight, non-comedeogenic and subtly fragranced oil provides an alternative to the traditional balm formula while tapping into the increasingly popular beauty oil trend.
SPONSORED FEATUREThere's something about Scandinavian culture that's just so ruddy cool. Effortless fashion, beautiful people, incredible homewares - and of course fabulous skincare. Neutrogena Norwegian Formula was inspired by Norwegian Fisherman, so it seems only right to celebrate that heritage by giving their best selling concentrated hand cream a festive makeover. This November the new limited edition Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream is set to become one of the must-have handbag essentials, not only because it provides immediate and lasting relief for dry hands, but because it's been given a beautiful new design thanks to the Oslo based design duo Darling Clementine. Famed for their fresh and distinctive illustrations, they've created a pretty Scandinavian design that embodies the brand's heritage as well as their own influences; the result is a super cute pack that you'll want to offer around to friends at any given opportunity, as well as a hardworking effective formula that will be your best friend this winter.
Guess what? It's the first day of December, which means it's officially time to get excited about Christmas! Although the bloggersphere has been spilling over with gift guides since about April, I've held out for as long as possible and finally pulled together my own edit of fabulous stocking fillers that I think will make any woman happy - no matter her age. Stockings may be traditionally packed full of useless trinkets and bits of novelty tat that don't make it into the new year, but I'd definitely rather swap another chocolate reindeer for a seasonal polish I can actually get some use out of! Here's the lowdown on some of my favourite stocking-sized beauty gifts that will guarantee a smile from a loved one this forthcoming Christmas morning.