29.2.16

The Little Bottle That Makes A BIG Impact: Ren Instant Brightening Beauty Shot Eye Lift

For as long as I can remember I've been tackling dark circles and puffiness around my eyes. During my teenage years that involved a whole lot of concealer, progressing to lightweight creams and a touch of the iconic Touche Eclat in my twenties. My thirties, however, have seen a plethora of new problems pop up that only a colour correction palette, an electronic eye massager and a lot of skincare can tackle. I go through eye creams quicker than anything else - and not just because of their comparatively small size! I'm always looking for the next big thing or the product that will solve all of my under-eye dilemmas, but the majority fall short at offering anything more than a temporary moisture boost. This little bottle is a total game changer though, having been a firm favourite since I first started using it at the beginning of the year; REN have cleverly capitalised on their best selling 'Instant Firming Beauty Shot' facial serum with the launch of this new 'Instant Brightening Beauty Shot Eye Lift' - and it's AH-MAZIN.


This light gel-like serum instantly lifts and dramatically brightens the delicate eye area, while visibly diminishing both dark circles and puffiness within the space of a few minutes. While many eye creams just hydrate or help to perk up the under-eye area, this creates a tightening effect that leaves me feeling wide awake - even when I awake more tired than when I went to sleep. It’s hard to describe the sensation (it’s not tingling or numbing, but definitely leaves skin feeling perky,) but it’s one I’ve become a little bit addicted to over the last few weeks. I've used this throughout my mini break to New York and a recent trip to Brussels, both of which involved incredibly early starts and overnight travel; it really did make a huge difference to both the appearance of those dreaded bags, and the way I was feeling too. The great things about the Beauty Shot Eye Lift is that it can be used under or over makeup, meaning it's the perfect handbag or in-flight essential that will leave you feeling refreshed as soon as you need it.

If you’re interested in the science bit, then a unique Glycine Betaine complex improves the eye contour, while Hyaluronans from Yeast Biofermentation instantly firm, lift and smooth lines; Phycocolloids from Microalga plump and keep skin hydrated and comfortable, making this a hardworking formula that nourishes instantly and over time. Put simply, the science geeks over at REN have spent the last couple of years experimenting and perfecting a formula that really does improve the appearance of all those little niggles - while offering an instant brightening effect, thanks to the pearlescent fragments that help to reflect the light. I've been recommending this left, right and centre since I started using it, and I'm thrilled to see so many others loving the effect as much as me; this is so effective and so addictive, that they should practically be giving these out to every single person as soon as they hit the big 3-0. It may look like a teeny understated bottle, but within it there's a formula waiting to make a big impact.

The Ren Instant Brightening Beauty Shot Eye Lift is available now, priced £28.00.

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Forgotten To Get A Present? 5 Mother's Day Gifts You Can Buy Online With 48hrs Notice

Despite the endless adverts, blog posts and magazine features about Mother's Day in the run up to the event, we've all done it - found ourselves without a gift, panicking 48hrs before it's time to take mum out for lunch. Even worse, if like me you live hours away from your mum and have to rely on Royal Mail to get a token of your love there on time, you could find yourself hitting a major panic alert as there's a matter of hours to get something in the post. But don't fret, because there are options if you're feeling like the world's worst offspring for not getting it sorted sooner; in an age where the internet brings practically everything to our doorstep instantaneously, there are some fabulous gifts your mum will love that can be ordered at the click of a button. And more importantly, they'll still get there (even if virtually) in time for Sunday. Here are my top five last minute (but still fabulous) treats that I know every mum will enjoy...


1. Give The Gift Of Beauty With Glossybox 
What better way to show mum you care than with an excuse for a little pamper? Either choose from a one-off subscription box (the current Spoil Me Silly box in partnership with Stella & Dot jewellery is amazing; check out my instagram preview here,) or a more long-term solution that will keep her feeling fabulous for longer. With three, six and twelve month subscription options (starting at £8.50 per month) there's a solution to meet your every budget.

2. Show Her You Care With Moonpig Flowers
One of my personal favourite ways to say 'I Love You' to my mum is with an affordable bunch of beautiful flowers from Moonpig. They're not just a card service, but they actually offer a huge portfolio of bouquets starting at only £20.00 - importantly with free delivery to your mum's door on actual Mother's Day. As long as you order by the end of the day, your mum will get her treats before the end of the weekend.

3. Find Inspirational Reads Using Amazon Prime 
Right now I'm a little bit obsessed with inspirational stories, life advice and generally seeking out a little motivation in literature format. There's something quite special about taking an hour or two out of a weekend to digest a non-fiction book, so why not give the gift of some 'me time' to the most special woman in your life? I'm in love with Amazon Prime right now, as I can get pretty much anything delivered to my door the next day - perfect if you need to choose something on your lunch break. You can either get it sent to you, or direct to your mum in time for Sunday.

4. Toilet Twin Your Mum's Loo To Make A Difference
I wrote about this incredible charity earlier in the week, but it's still a great way to gift your mum while making a difference to a family half way around the world. Over 2.4 billion people across the world don’t have somewhere safe to go to the toilet, and more than half a million children losing their lives yearly because they’re refused the simple facilities we take for granted. From only £6.00 you can help change that, while giving your mum one of the most unique gifts money can't buy. Although it won't arrive in time for Sunday, I'm sure your mum will forgive you when you explain what you've bought her!

5. Treat Her All Year Long With A Cineworld Membership
A bit of a random one, but since I've signed up for Cineworld Unlimited I can honestly say it's the best £16.90 I spend every single month. Not only does it give me something to do other than hang around in the pub or sit at home watching telly, but it encourages me to see films I would never normally have sat through otherwise. It's educational, inspiring and sometimes just an excuse to go see Alvin & The Chipmunks. Your mum does so much for everyone else, it's about time she had a regular date night with herself. 

And if all else fails, don't forget Boots offer a 'click and collect' service, where you can get any product from their portfolio delivered to your local store the next day - as long as you order by 8pm tonight. So if you spend your lunch break searching for the perfect fragrance, nail polish or face mask, you can swing by Boots tomorrow and pick it up with plenty of time to wrap. You're welcome.

Wishing you and your mum a very Happy Mother's Day!

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A Mother’s Day Gift With A Difference: Twin Your Toilet & Save Lives

SPONSORED FEATURE
Did you know that over 2.4 billion people across the world don’t have somewhere safe to go to the toilet? In at least 46 countries at least half the population doesn't have access to proper sanitation, while it’s estimated that 748 million people lack access to clean and safe drinking water. Poor sanitation is one of the world’s biggest killers, with a child under the age of five dying every minute of every day due to illnesses linked to unclean water and poor sanitation. (Diarrhoea is the second biggest killer of children under five worldwide.) That’s more than half a million children losing their lives yearly because they’re refused the simple facilities we take for granted. If your mum could trade in another bunch of flowers this Sunday, in favour of helping to reduce those numbers by a little, then I'm absolutely sure she would; only a mother can imagine the irreparable pain caused by losing a child - especially due to preventable causes. Toilet Twinning is a vitally important charity that's providing an opportunity for you to give your mum a gift with a difference this Mother’s Day; it’s a chance for you to not only make her smile, but to make a mother half way across the world smile too.


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25.2.16

The Blogger's Fave Lip Balm: Cult Classic Lanolips Gets A New Look For A New Year

Whenever I'm asked to provide a list of my absolute must-have products for an interview or feature, a tube of Lanolips inevitably features. I'll never forget speaking at a panel event with Jane from British Beauty Blogger and Jen from Beauty Junkie London, and us all simultaneously pulling out a tube of our favourite Lanolips balm to apply before we walked on stage; if that's not a sign of being a beauty blogger favourite, then I don't know what is. If you're not familiar with the brand, then this essential lip balm contains 100% pure ultra medical grade Lanolin (a wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals, including sheep) which literally melts between your fingers, providing a super smooth and soothing result on the lips. The original ointment formula features 100% natural ingredients, is 100% fragrance free, contains SPF30 and holds up to 200% of its weight in moisture - so what's not to love? But even better, this March Lanolips is getting a bit of a retro makeover while adding a few more products to their already expansive line-up.


The retro and clean design replaces a very busy tube that did start to look a little bit dated, keeping the focus very much on the beautiful tones of the product within. I'm not sure if I love it or not, or whether it's actually an improvement on the pre-existing tubes - but it's definitely breathing fresh air into a brand that really is a must-have. (I don't say that lightly.) If you're already a firm fan of the brand then you'll be pleased to know that fan favourites remain, while a few additional shades are being added to the collection to help provide a tint and relief simultaneously. I'm obsessed with the Lemonaid and Banana Balm, but the tinted treats below really are a delight for the senses too; when you want a touch of colour but don't want to compromise on comfort, these provide the perfect solution.

I do like the look of the new classic Ointment, which is in a far more handbag appropriate size and tube - although it does rather look like a hand cream! This classic tint/flavour/fragrance free formula can be used for anything from soothing nipples (if you're a breastfeeding mother, obvs!) and cuticles, to helping burns and sores to heal faster; it's a great little product to have in your bag or take away with you, as it tackles more dilemmas than I could ever list in a blog post. It's like a cheaper and richer version of Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream (which I also love FYI. Multi-functioning products are my life.) If you're a fan of the brand then you'll no doubt see these popping up in the following weeks, but if you're new to it - get yourself over to Boots and break your Lanolips virginity right now!


The new look Lanolips tubes will be rolling out from next week, but you can still grab the originals online for around the £10.99 mark. Find out more on their website here: www.lanolips.com

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24.2.16

SEPHORA Hauling: Three Fab Beauty Innovations I Picked Up In New York City

New York City is one of my favourite places in the world; it really is the concrete jungle that dreams are made of. I've popped over to Manhattan quite a few times over the last ten years, and it never gets old - the vastness of the skyline, the contrast between the calmness of Central Park and the craziness of Times Square, the endless opportunity to eat and drink. While I was over that way a week or so ago, inevitably I popped into as many Sephora stores as I could manage to see what beauty treats US customers were benefiting from and us Brits were missing out on. Although over the last few years we've become increasingly able to get our hands on many of the brands that were previously out of our reach, there are still some little gems hiding over the Atlantic that I just couldn't resist picking up. My Sephora haul was by no means limited to this mini selection, but these are the three beauty innovations I was really excited about and wanted to share with you - even if just to make you a tad jealous!


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23.2.16

Pelvic Floor Issues Aren't Fun, But A New Gadget From Elvie Makes Tackling Them A Joy

In an age where we openly discuss the intimate details of our sex lives down the pub, it still surprises me that so many perfectly normal and incredibly common issues are swept under the carpet because we’re too embarrassed to talk openly. Did you know that roughly one in three of us will experience pelvic floor problems in our lifetimes, with 50% of those also suffering from related back trouble? This powerful little set of muscles sits like a hammock between your tailbone and pubic bone, lifting and holding your core. Although you may never know what they do until they stop working properly, they’re incredibly important. Pelvic floor dysfunction refers to a wide range of issues that occur when muscles of the pelvic floor are weak, tight or imparied, leading to conditions including pelvic pain, incontinence and organ prolapse. Although the underlying cause is difficult to determine, the most commonly discussed is related to childbirth - it's well known that new mothers are encouraged to practice their pelvic floor exercises, but as it's a muscle you can't see it's difficult to keep up motivation or know if you're doing a good job. However, these issues aren't restricted to those that have carried a child or given birth (as my previous post on bladder weakness illustrates.) As I type my grandmother is in recovery after a major operation to rectify a vaginal prolapse, also illustrating that the condition doesn't discriminate by age either. (It's been over 50 years since she last had a baby!) So if you're one of the millions of women in the UK that's suffering in silence with pelvic floor problems, or you'd rather take preventative action now rather than waiting for something to potentially go wrong in the future, what can you do?


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22.2.16

Taking Nude Makeup To A New Level: Bobbi Brown NEW Nude Finish Illuminating Powder

Highlighters are one of those pieces within a makeup collection that's often overlooked, or applied only when the wearer has a few spare minutes before leaving the house. Although it's yet another step in an already expansive routine, it can actually be the key to an incredibly healthy and natural glow. I never omit my highlighter - even when I've just popped on a thin layer of BB Cream and a slick of mascara. The light reflecting pigments can help skin to ooze health and add some much needed texture, without overloading skin or making us look too 'done'. It really would be one of the products I'd take to a desert island, especially as it's the one item of makeup I get complimented on most frequently. (Who would have thought "what highlighter are you wearing?" would be the most popular question!)  Bobbi Brown are one of my favourite brands and well known for their super shimmery highlighters, but I've definitely felt a little underwhelmed with their most recent launches; nothing really stood out of whetted my appetite, until I saw these little cubes of delight pop up on Sali Hughes' Instagram feed. Finally, a nude and wearable highlighter that we can embrace all year round while not feeling like a sparkly Victoria Secret Angel. Yes, highlighters can be a little scary and intimidating (and easy to over-apply,) but when armed with a tool such as these new Nude Finish Illuminating Powders you really can't go wrong.


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What Is Retinol & Why Do I Need It Within My 'Anti Ageing' Skincare Routine?

Skincare innovations have a tendency to hit stores quicker than a new Instagram update, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're always to be believed. We may be able to run off a list of ingredients we *should* be looking for in our skincare as we age, but when it comes to fully understanding the purpose of an individual ingredient many of us struggle. Hylaronic Acid, Vitamin A, Peptides, Retinols... The latter so called 'wonder ingredient' is being touted as one of the most important things in beauty, promising to help create a youthful and radiant glow while minimising the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. "Retinol signals to your body to produce collagen and new cells for firmer and smoother skin, while also reducing hyperpigmentation and clogged pores," says New York based dermatologist Anne Chapas. But how does this ingredient actually work and what should we be looking out for in our skincare products?


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20.2.16

TEN MINUTES WITH: RACHEL KAVANAGH, Managing Director Of GLOSSYBOX UK

It's incredible to see so many women in 2016 carving out their perfect career, challenging perceptions and turning the usual nine-to-five into somewhat of a vocation. Rachel Kavanagh, Managing Director and Global Brand Development Advisor for Glossybox UK & Ireland, is the perfect example of that; that's a pretty impressive title for a woman of only 32. Her entrepreneurial spirit has lead her to not only launch her own beauty brand and dabble in the world of acting, but at the age of 29 she moved into an MD role at one of the UK's most exciting new companies. During her exceptionally busy schedule (and juggling two children under the age of four,) she was kind enough to give us ten minutes of her time to let us in on her beauty secrets, career advice and daily routine. Enjoy.


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19.2.16

New Season Nudes From Barry M: Quick Drying, Hardwearing, Shiny Finishes

Springtime nail trends for 2016 are all about going back to basics. Gone are the days when bright neons and textured talons were the fashion editor's choice; now we're definitely embracing the understated trend of nude nails and subtle tones that don't overpower what we're wearing. I've been backtracking my nail choices for some time, preferring to opt for an 'almost naked' shade or berry tone that's universal in its appeal; there's something effortlessly chic about short and perfectly manicured nails adorned with a colour that doesn't try too hard. This spring Barry M are taking a rather surprising approach to their best selling nail paint, staying clear of bold and bright polishes and embracing the femininity of a pale pink, grey or beige. With two different finishes to choose from (and all being available for the bargain price of £3.99) there's nothing not to love as we step into spring.


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18.2.16

Contouring Just Got Easier: L'Oreal Sculpt & Contour Collection For Face, Lips & Eyes

Contouring has possibly been the biggest trend in beauty over the last decade. A few years ago we would have sniggered at the thought of applying deep brown concoctions underneath our cheekbones and blending as if our life depended on it, but fast forward to 2016 and daily contouring is a bigger part of our routines as a slick of winged liner. From the many bronzing features I've written over the years, I know that this concept can be somewhat intimidating to many (even when presented with products that make the process as easy as pie,) so will one of the world's biggest cosmetics companies launching a whole line dedicated to the art of contouring help make a change in our mindsets? Launching this March (although some products are available already in stores,) this brand new collection of makeup tools is endorsed by Kim Kardashian's favourite makeup artist - and if that isn't a stamp of approval then I don't know what is. So what's in this expansive collection of contouring products, and which are worth a purchase?


INFALLIBLE SCULPT CONTOURING BASE (£8.99)
Available in only two shades, this innovative base is designed to be used as the first makeup step - but it isn’t a foundation in the traditional sense. It’s been designed to perfectly work in tandem with contouring and highlighting products, giving them something to ‘stick to’ and ensuring hold for up to 24hrs. It ‘ensures seamless blending of sculpting products’ as it’s half the density of the usual Infalliable foundation, meaning you won’t overload your skin.To be honest this feels, looks and acts like a foundation - but it's a pretty great one for the price. No flaking, caking or movement throughout the day; my face loved it.

INFALLIBLE SCULPT CONTOURING PALETTE (£9.99)
Formulated with the same base ingredients as the Contouring Base, this has again been designed for flawless application and a non-cakey feel. Turning from a creamy base into a powdery finish when buffed into the skin, this is incredibly easy to buff under cheekbones and along the bridge of the nose. I'm pretty sure this is the exact same formula as the YSL Blur Bronzer I was loving so much last summer (review here,) and seeing as L'Oreal and YSL are part of the same parent company I wouldn't be surprised. Snap up a bargain and get pro results! 

BLUSH SCULPT (£7.99)
Each one of the three colour combinations is made up of three individual complementary tones, which can be buffed into the apples of cheeks using a fluffy brush, or used individually to subtly contour and highlight. The textures are lightweight and velvety to the touch, providing a subtle hit of colour without overloading the skin - especially important if you're going to be contouring first. As stand alone blushers these are actually worth a look regardless of anything else in the collection that catches your eye; the trio of tones together provides a very 'premium-esque' effect without the price tag.

BROW ARTIST SCULPT (£4.99)
A rather boring bottle hides a rather unique applicator, featuring a brush with a tapered end for 2-in-1 brow contouring results. The fluffy brush can be used to comb through and style brows, depositing a small amount of tinted product to help set them in place, while the more precise end can be used to draw in a more uniformed shape while filling in any gaps. Although I do quite like this, as someone that doesn't have the best set of brows I prefer more precise products that really allow me to add individual hairs where needs be; this has been very much developed for those will a full set of brows, so use with caution if you're not rocking your Delevingnes this season.

SUPER LINER BLACK N SCULPT (£6.99)
Upon first impressions I thought this could be a game changing eyeliner - the ball at the end of the nib helps to deliver an even amount of pigment across skin, keeping the width of the line perfectly even. However, in reality I struggled to get this to look delicate and it was impossible to create a winged effect. If you like your liner thick and heavy then this is definitely one for you; if not, stick to what you know. 

FALSE LASH SCULPT MASCARA (£7.99)
I honestly can say I've never quite created a look that competes with a set of false lashes, but this really does sculpt my lash line perfectly into a pretty close second. The uniquely shaped brush lines the waterline for a 'tightlining' no-gaps effect (where product is coated at the root to give the illusion of a fuller lash line,) while sculpting individual lashes to create tonnes of lift and volume.  I've already featured this as one of my current favourite budget buys, and the relationship shows no sign of waning. Buy it.

INFALLIBLE MATTE MAX LIP PENS (£6.99)
Oh my, L'Oreal you have been busy. I do love a matte lip (and they're totally on-trend for 2016,) but if you suffer with dry lips then they can be an absolute nightmare. These lip pens provide a matte effect without the heaviness or dryness we associate with the look, delicately covering lips with a gel-like-cream that turns to powder upon impact. You can layer the colour up for a more intense finish, mix it in with a little balm if you fancy it, or use the pens to create an ombre effect that's not going to transfer... Yep, these don't really transfer onto your coffee cup either! I've been wearing the nude and red since these landed on my desk - they're definitely a highlight of the collection and add something new to any makeup bag.

So there are some definite winners, some almost-losers and a few in-betweens. But as a collection this is really quite exciting - especially as everything is under a tenner! It's great to see affordable brands pushing boundaries and creating products that are truly innovative, proving that you don't need to spend a small fortune to look and feel great every day.

What do you think of this new Sculpt collection? Has anything caught your eye? 


The new L'Oreal Sculpt collection is available fully from March - although a few of the products will be available throughout February from Boots and Superdrug stores.

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17.2.16

#LetsTalkAboutIt: 1 in 4 Women Suffer With Bladder Weakness & Pelvic Floor Issues

GUEST POST (WRITTEN BY LAURA FROM www.lalaldn.co.uk)
Your mind may be fully loaded with preconceptions about incontinence and conditions of the urinal variety. That's because all of those preconceptions swirling around in your brains are actually misconceptions, invoked by stereotypes and a severe lack of discussion. I've suffered from bladder weakness all my life; it took me years to discuss it with anybody, but look at me now, discussing it overtly for the whole of the world wide web to see! The term 'bladder weakness' is incredibly broad and carries some truly unfortunate connotations, leading to widespread misunderstanding. As a result, it's become such a taboo topic that it's very rarely discussed at all. This often makes it embarrassing and difficult for sufferers to identify and deal with their condition - but one in four women (and one in nine men) will experience bladder weakness at some point during their lifetime. So let's start being more open and discuss an issue that silently impacts a huge proportion of us.


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16.2.16

Get Your New Nude Magnitone BareFaced SONIC Cleansing Brush Exclusively At QVC (PLUS WIN 1 OF 4 IN YOUR FAVE SHADE!)

SPONSORED FEATURE
Cleansing brushes are not a new concept, but they have become increasingly accessible, affordable and effective in the years since they first hit our shores. Although the first brushes claimed to revolutionise skincare routines and provide a deeper cleanse, initially they actually started to cause more problems than they solved. Over zealous exfoliation can damage the surface of skin and remove too much moisture; the skin reacts by slowing down its own lubrication, the result of which can be ageing, outbreaks and irritation. Fortunately technology has hugely advanced in the last few years and the results achievable are so much better now than what you may have previously experienced. I'm a big fan of this kind of manual pampering (when it's used as part of a targeted regime and not overused,) and brushes certainly replace the need for potentially damaging fruit kernel exfoliators; they can also aid the performance of cleansers and moisturisers, leaving your complexion feeling fresh and smooth. So what if you could get your hands on one of these beautiful new NUDE cleansing brushes from Magnitone, for a very special price for a very limited time? 


This week Magnitone are launching their NEW BareFaced Vibra-Sonic Daily Cleansing Brush in an array of on-trend and springtime appropriate designs. Available exclusively at QVC in four soft shades of Rose, Violet, Aquamarine and Blush, the latest incarnation of the multi-award winning brush provides a 60-second skin workout every time you use it. Thanks to their new Vibra-Sonic technology (a combination of sonic oscillations and pulsed vibrations,) the brush gets deep into the surface of skin to ‘wobble away’ dirt from pores, tone the skin and boost micro-circulation for a healthy glow and radiant complexion. It even has two modes - one is specifically for cleansing and the other, PulseLift, to boost micro-circulation - so your cleansing experience is personalised. What I love about these brushes is that they encourage regular gentle exfoliation in a really quick and easy way, which can only benefit our skin in the long-term.

Although we're programmed to naturally shed away dead skin cells (which gives skin a rougher and uneven appearance,) sometimes we need a little helping hand - especially as we age. As we get older the 'cement' holding our cells together becomes thicker, resulting in a build-up that makes the sloughing process more difficult to accomplish; this results in a dry, uneven, dull and less-toned appearance. By eliminating the build up of dead skin cells on the surface, the regeneration of new skin cells is stimulated which results in an improved appearance, tone, and feel of the skin. Consistent exfoliation can not only ensure our skin is healthy looking and refreshed, but it also helps to prevent clogged pores, acne, ingrown hairs, scarring, blemishes and all kinds of infections. Exfoliation can also increase the effectiveness of the other steps in your skincare routine, unblocking pores and ensuring moisturisers can penetrate and get to work. 

This simple process makes such a difference to so many areas of your beauty routine that it really should be a no-brainer - and Magnitone have made it even easier than before. The design of their cleansing brush is incredibly simple and really doesn't require an engineering degree to operate it: you simply turn it on and you're away, it even bleeping intermittently to ensure you're not over-using it. I love the ergonomic design and the delicate shades of this new collection, proving that serious skincare doesn't necessarily have to look serious. If you want to get your hands on these beautiful brushes before anyone else, then make sure you tune into QVC (or pop online) on 17th February to get yours for a very special price (under £40.00 vs usual RRP £70.00) for 24hrs only. If you've ever wanted to invest in a cleansing tool then this is the time...


a Rafflecopter giveaway

The new Magnitone NUDE collection launches exclusively on QVC, at a very special discount rate of under £40.00 (usual RRP £70.00), from Wednesday 17th February. (Show times are: 12am, 9am, 1pm, 4pm, 8pm, 10pm)

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Magnitone London. All opinions are my own. 

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15.2.16

Invisibobble Change It Up With The Launch Of New Super Sized & Mini Hair Ties

My ode to Invisibobble: "Oh you little rings of wonder, you little rings of glee. You little rings that overcome my snagging misery. You're colourful and fun, you help to create the perfect bun - but nothing overcomes the pleasure of a bump-free style when I rush out to meet my mum." That's right, I love Invisibobble so much that I decided to pen (metaphorically speaking) a poem in their honour. Ever since I was introduced to these little plastic tools I've been addicted, with a stretchy colourful hair band lurking in practically every drawer and coat pocket I own. Their stretchy wonder not only holds my hair in place, but it prevents those unsightly marks in your style when you decide to take out your ponytail half way through the day. Available in a variety of colours (the brown, black and transparent shades are my favourite as they don't interfere with my style,) they've become a must-have amongst the beauty and fashion community - so much that they're now a firm fixture on the tillpoints of Topshop stores nationwide. But this spring they're completely re-launching their collection, adding a few new friends into the mix that I'm sure you're going to be excited to meet. 


Gone are all the previous colours and designs you may have seen - all the new shades are featured in the inclusive line-up below. The new bobbles are still the same size and strength, but they're just in new colours and tones to reflect a move towards a more 'grown-up' brand. What's exciting though is the addition of the new POWER and NANO bobbles that make creating your favourite looks even easier. The Power Invisibobble is slightly bigger and has been designed specifically for buns and those who have much thicker hair; alternatively, the new super cute Nano version has been designed with plaits and mini ponies in mind - because there's nothing worse than wrapping a hair tie around 57 times to keep it in place and being left with a huge lump of plastic at the end. Each still comes in a pack of three, and with prices starting from £1.49 there's no reason not to stock up on these by the sack-load immediately. 

Are you a fan of Invisibobble hair ties? 
If you haven't tried them, WHY NOT! Get yourself to a Topshop store now to pick a packet up...


The new incarnations of Invisibobble hair ties will be available this spring, rolling out nationwide in the coming weeks. Prices start from £2.49. 

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14.2.16

Innovative & Unique: Butter London's NEW 'Sheer Wisdom' Nail Tinted Moisturizer

Over the last year I've become a little disheartened by the nail industry. After a period of huge growth and innovation, it seems that we've run out of things to get excited about; short of another new collection of nudes or a flurry of yet more berry tones, there's just not much hitting stores to tickle our fancies. For years we've turned to nail polish as a quick and affordable way to update our looks every season, but with the focus moving towards changing up our lipstick on a daily basis instead, those poor bottles of polish are getting a little left behind. I'm turning my back on bright colours and innovative textures in favour of simple nails that coordinate with my every look, more interested in looking after the health of my nails underneath rather than necessarily the colour on top. So, as a brand, tapping into that trend seems to be the way to ensure you stay on top - and Butter London have cornered the market perfectly.


Known for their innovation and revolutionary 'skincare style approach' to manicures (their Nail Foundation is still a personal favourite,) this spring Butter London have created a line-up of six 'tinted moisturisers' for our talons that simultaneously protect integrity, while delivering natural and healthy looking nails. Ingredients including Vitamin E to provide antioxidant protection, Tea Tree Oil to revitalize brittle nails, Keratin to promote strength and Arginine to help prevent further nail breakage, collectively make this more than just another base coat. Interestingly, their 'Revolutionary Micro Smart Active' technology delivers a controlled release of ingredients to lock in moisture and help repair nails over time - meaning it doesn't just provide an immediate boost of goodness, but a result that continues to get better. 

Available in a range of six natural shades to compliment every skin tone, these sheer tinted Nail Treatments provide an effortless and chic way to care for nails. And I like it a lot. The texture of the polish is lightweight and quick drying, gliding over nails to subtly perfect without looking like you're wearing a polish; it just looks like you've buffed the surface and created a shine associated with the look of healthy nails. It helps to immediately strengthen and blend away imperfections and discolouration, but importantly makes a cracking base coat or daily polish if you're not currently into the chipped look. I haven't been using the polish long enough to comment on whether or not it actually helps to improve the condition of my nails, but to be honest I like the idea enough to justify the £15.00 price point.


The Butter London 'Sheer Wisdom' Nail Tinted Moisturizers are available in six shades, priced £15.00 each.

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12.2.16

How To Ensure You're Super Efficient When Working From Home: A Bloggers Guide

I'm writing this from my local coffee shop, having spent the majority of my day ticking off my to do list and scheduling content for the next couple of weeks. After an hour or two milling about in my flat finding things to eat, organise or watch, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to get some fresh air and let you in on some of my 'self employed secrets' - including getting sh*t done while you're in the comfort of your own home. We're the first generation to really embrace the concept of freelancing and 'working from home'; the digital sphere has really encouraged men and women to follow their dreams and undertake a role they're wholeheartedly passionate about. Blogging and social media has definitely provided a whole new career path for many, with less focus being placed on sitting in an office from 9 until 5 Monday through Friday. Increasingly we have the freedom to work when and where we want, picking up contracts and benefiting from the outsourced workload that seems to be more and more common. The content creators of today have proven we can set our own perameters, but what you don't often see is 'behind the scenes' where haven't washed our hair in three days and our desk is covered in cereal bowls. I've been self employed for nearly three years and have learned many lessons along the way, including how and how not to ensure a day is as productive as possible. Here are five of my top tips, whether you're thinking about taking some time out of the office, you're a full time freelancer, or you simply want to know how to make your 'blogging days' as fruitful as you can. I hope you find them useful.


1. GET INTO A MORNING ROUTINE 
Falling out of bed and faffing around for two hours is the worst way to start your day; just because you work from home doesn't mean you can watch This Morning every day and not get cracking until the afternoon. (Although if that's you're bag and you're prepared to work until midnight, knock yourself out!) Getting up and getting on with your day will ensure maximum productivity, while putting you in the mindset to work. I'm far more productive on days when I get out of bed at 8am, do a little exercise and eat my breakfast, hop in the shower, get ready and am at my desk by 930am at the latest. It's funny how we can all make those 6am starts happen when they really need to, so don't treat your mornings any differently just because there's nobody to tell you off if you're late through the office door.

2. DRESS LIKE YOU'RE GOING TO THE OFFICE
It's easy to sit in your PJs or sling on some sweats, but your mindset really is effected by what you're wearing. We carry ourselves differently when we're dressed smartly, but we're also more likely to slob about if we're wearing a pair of leggings with a mis-matched gym top that's seen better days. Although comfort is key, I thoroughly recommend getting dressed in a way that you wouldn't be ashamed to be seen in if someone popped over for a cup of tea. I never used to be a jeans and jumper girl, but I've found it's the ultimate combo for chucking on and still feeling good - while being comfortable enough to sit at my desk all day.

3. HAVE CLEAR OBJECTIVES AT THE START OF EACH WEEK 
For the first year or so I definitely found myself floundering and forgetting to do things on a regualr basis, so writing lists and setting clear objectives at the start of each week is definitely the way forward. I start each week by writing down what I absolutely must get done that week, and prioritise my tasks accordingly; I also use Mondays to set myself up and ensure there's content across all my channels to keep LBQ ticking over - even if I'm busy in meetings. I've started to keep little notebooks on my bedside table where I can write down what I need to do at the end of each day, so I can fall asleep without worrying I've forgotten something. Not only does this give me something to work from, but helps the quality of my slumber to improve considerably.

4. SEPARATE YOUR WORK SPACE FROM LIVING SPACE
The most important tip I can give anyone: don't work from your sofa. Not only is this bad for your back and will inevitably mean you're simultaneously watching telly, but it prevents you from ever fully switching off. Having a separate space in which to work is the key to success - as opening the door in the morning is a signal to start work, while closing the door at the end of the day is a great way to compartmentalise and tell your mind 'this is me time now'. Although not everyone has the ability to have a separate room or office space, it's definitely worth even clearing away a corner of your kitchen and setting up a clearly defined space from which to work.

5. TAKE TIME OUT FOR A CHANGE OF SCENERY
I tend to spend a couple of days a week in London, but when I don't I do find myself going a bit stir crazy and in need of a change of scenery. I frequently pack up my bags and set up in one of the many local coffee shops near me for the afternoon, just for clarity of focus and to stop me wandering about being rather unproductive. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, I do find that working in a coffee shop helps me to double the speed by which I get things done - mainly because there are no distractions (no chocolate to eat, hamsters to play with, 90210 to watch,) and you look a bit weird if you're not actually working. Sometimes when I have tonnes of things on my to-do list I hide out in Costa or Starbucks with a giant soy latte... And before I know it it's nearly 6pm. Don't be afraid to change things up; after all, laptops are portable! 

Do you have any advice for those working from home, or wanting to start?

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11.2.16

Bare Minerals Brings A Little Sunshine To Spring: Meet Their New Liquid Bronzer

They may offer a portfolio of incredible products, textures and tones, but Bare Minerals are definitely one of those brands that don't exactly find themselves 'front of mind' when we're shopping for new makeup treats. I do find that surprising considering they do 'natural' and 'wearable' incredibly well, helping us to look like ourselves - but just a little bit better. You won't find many bold tones or on-trend textures at a Bare Minerals, but you will find investment pieces that you'll treasure and will help you to look like you've just spent the weekend in a spa. Their forthcoming springtime collection is no exception, taking the 'bronzed goddess' look and turning it on its head a little, providing incredibly wearable and understated tones that will enhance our complexions without making us look like we've been sunning it up in Ibiza. 'LoveScape' is a four piece collection of covetable treasures, but the most exciting inclusion is the new Sheer Sun liquid bronzer; it's a fool-proof way to create a sunkissed glow in seconds, all year round.


The ultra-lightweight innovative liquid bronzing tint has been created to add a sun-kissed veil to a universal range of skin tones; it comes with a Perfecting Face Brush designed specifically to be used with the bronzer for the smoothest application, thanks to the 'resorvoir' in the bristles that holds the liquid and aids buffing. (If you're familiar with their Bare Skin foundation then this is exactly the same concept, just in bronzer form. Similarly, if you already have the foundation brush then you don't need a new one for this product.) For the perfect application you simply shake the bronzer well before use to mix up the formula, drop one or two drops into the Perfecting Face Brush reservoir, and buff into skin using circular motions. You can use it either alone, over or mixed with your foundation, thanks to the lightweight texture than ensures it blends beautifully.

I'm always a little cautious of using bronzing products before about May, but this is very subtle and so natural - there are no 'tide marks' or any orangey tones that give the game away, just a really healthy glow. I've been using it buffed into my cheeks as a finishing step, as well as over a BB Cream for 'no makeup makeup' days when I just want to look healthy; it'll be perfect for the holiday season when you feel like you need a little something, but don't want to plaster your face with your normal base routine. I do know from experience that the original foundation isn't suitable for those with oilier complexions (it tends to move a lot!) but if you have 'normal' skin then this is a great alternative to a powder bronzer.

Within the rest of the collection there's a beautiful eyeshadow palette that features four complementary shades that would look incredibly with a subtle summer glow, as well as a pinky highlighter that looks fab on the tops of the cheekbones and even better alongside the Sheer Sun. The nude lipstick within the collection is a beautiful pinky taupe shade that, again, works incredibly well with the sunkissed tones of the bronzer and eyeshadow, bringing the whole look together effortlessly. I'm a big fan of the Bare Minerals lipsticks, so this went straight in my lipstick drawer; they're much underrated, but actually provide incredible pigment, extreme comfort and longevity. (Well worth a look if you just hate the dryness your current lipstick causes!)

Although the whole collection is gorgeous, for me the most exciting addition to the Bare Minerals line-up is the Bare Skin Sheer Sun. It's so easy to use, provides such a healthy glow and it's universal in its appeal - all ages, skin tones and types (within reason; don't opt for this if you have really oily skin) could benefit from a little sunkissed action this spring. At the moment it is marked as a limited edition product, but here's hoping it makes a comeback as a core addition to counters nationwide. I've no doubt it will sell out, so get in their fast if you like the look of it!


The new Bare Minerals collection launches this March. However the Sheer Sun bronzing tint is available right now, exclusively with QVC, for a very special price of £34.98 - including the brush.

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10.2.16

A Revelation For Touche Eclat Lovers: NEW YSL 'Neutralizer' Colour Correctors

Colour correction has long been the tool of professional makeup artists; they rely on more than a heavyweight foundation and hard working concealer to create the flawless looks you see walking the red carpet. Our complexions aren't made up of a singular colour: dullness, dark circles, redness and sallow skin can be the result of anything from a bad diet and irregular sleep pattern, to skin conditions and adult acne. Counteracting those tones can help create a much more even and 'fluid' complexion that creates the illusion of health, ensuring you get much more out of your base products too. I feel like I've been recommending colour correcting products on and off for the last couple of years, but many of the current formulas are heavy, waxy and difficult to apply; the result is a lot of confusion and over-use, leaving complexions looking somewhat heavy. However, YSL have just reignited my love affair with green, apricot and violet thanks to their new Touche Eclat 'Neutralizer' Colour Correctors - the most exciting thing to land on my desk this year bar none. 


Lloyd Simmonds, Creative Director of Makeup at YSL Beauty says: “Colour correction is very much a pro trick, one which has been readily used in theatre since makeup began. It helps to create a three-dimensional effect on the skin, eliminating certain things and embracing others.” If you're new to the concept then you need to select the shade that sits directly opposite the tone you seek to correct; this ensures balance and counteracts any tones you'd rather see the back of. Like the traditional highlighting Touche Eclat, these three pens provide a lightweight liquid that's easy to apply and blends beautifully without caking. You need just a click or two for the whole face (depending on where your issues lay,) so there's no chance of overloading if you just apply a click at a time. All three dry to leave a subtle colour result that's matte and covering, without feeling heavy, but which of the three should you be reaching for?

No1 Abricot Bisque helps to infuse a sense of warmth to the complexion; apply it in the same places you’d apply a bronzer (cheekbones, centre of the forehead and underside of the jaw) for a little boost. Alternatively, No2 Vert Green is ideal for blanketing over areas of redness or blemishes, particularly around the cheeks, nose, chin and forehead; for a more natural and perfectly blended result, apply it before foundation rather than after. Finally, No3 Violet tricks the eye into making the complexion look brighter, so it’s perfectly designed to cancel our any sallow yellow tones under the eyes; add a little to the inner corners of eyes and under the brows to brighten and perfect - it's great on days when you feel like you really needed that extra hour in bed.

Although these won't be part of everyone's daily routine, they do provide a fabulous (and rather beautiful) addition to any makeup collection; it's good to know the support is there when you need it - plus on a superficial level, the slim pens don't take up any additional room within your inevitably already jam-packed makeup storage. Most other colour correctors are chunky or come in huge palettes, but YSL have perfectly evolved their Touche Eclat line to create something I'm crazy for. They may be a little expensive, but with a brand like YSL you know it's an investment you'll benefit from in the weeks and months to come.


The three new YSL Touche Eclat 'Neutralizer' Colour Correctors are available now, priced £25.00 each.

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The Light-Up Phonecase That's Perfect For Selfies: Introducing The Lumee

When you've got your hands on something that plays a fundamental role in helping Kim Kardashian perfect her selfies, you know you're onto a good thing. I don't think I've ever dedicated a blog post to a press gift, but when I posted a picture of this light-up treat on my Instagram the response proved too much not to share. Sent alongside the new L'Oreal 'Sculpt' collection that's been launched with Mrs West's favourite makeup artist (more on that to come,) this phone case is genius and hilarious in equal measure. With millions of selfies being posted every single day, it's no surprise that companies are seeing the potential and capitalising on the growing obsession. Lumee have created the answer to our front-facing camera dilemmas, adding two little light-up panels to an otherwise basic looking phonecase that helps to show us all in our best light. The case can be turned on and off using a simple button on the reverse, shining brightly to provide photography-studio style lighting for those much-needed selfies - or simply a little light when you want to snap away during a night out.


Although the reverse is incredibly plain (definitely room for improvement here Lumee - if not customisation,) and the case itself quite chunky, I do love it. The light is powerful enough to make an impact, but not overexpose the subject, working to create a healthy glow that will have you looking like a Kardashian in no time. Powered by charging via a USB port (so there's no need to faff around with changing batteries,) this would make the perfect gift for anyone who loves taking selfies - bloggers and civilians alike. I do recall seeing similar concepts before, but none that have created a light that surrounds the phone and therefore creates light without shadow; I've no doubt this is going to be copied as much as the Selfie Sticks of 2014, but if you want to be one of the first to fashion the trend, get your hands on it now....

The Lumee phone case is available in a multitude of colours for iPhone and Android phones. Prices start from £29.99 on Amazon. Have a look at the website to see the reverse colours/design available.

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9.2.16

#LetsTalkAboutIt: Period Pain, Heavy Bleeding And Monthly Discomfort

Menstruation is a fact of life and something women have to deal with approximately 450 times in their lives, alongside bloating, cramping and irritability. We lose between two and three tablespoons of blood with each period, relying on some a plethora of products to get us through with minimal disruption to our lives. Unlike previous generations who were told their time of the month brought with it a need to stay close to home and minimise their daily activity, modern women refuse to let their monthly crimson wave get in the way of what they have to do - that is, until the onset of heavy bleeding and downright debilitating pain plays havoc. We all experience some level of discomfort at certain times of the month, but living in a constant haze of pain is not normal. Your heavy period and crippling cramps may be the result of something more serious and not necessarily something you just have to put up with until you hit menopause. Although the root cause behind excessive discomfort could be one of many things, there are five main diagnosis that may be worth discussing with your doctor if your monthly gift is more like monthly torture.


1. Endometriosis is a gynecological condition in which the lining of the uterus is found on other structures throughout the pelvis (including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder and pelvic floor.) It’s not known exactly why endometriosis causes menstrual pain, but it’s thought it may be to do with where lining of the uterus is located and how it’s formed. Displaced endometrium can cause chronic inflammation, chocolate cysts and internal bleeding – all of which can prompt excruciating pelvic pain.

2. Adenomyosis is similar to endometriosis - except instead of the lining implanting itself outside of the uterus, it is found embedded deep within the muscle. Symptoms can include painful cramping and painful intercourse, but it’s usually seen in women over the age of 30 who have already had children.

3. Uterine Fibroids will develop in as many as 75% of women, but their size determines whether or not they’ll present any symptoms. Although many are microscopic, some are large enough to distort the shape of the uterus and can increase not only the amount of bleeding, but the severity of menstrual pain - as the uterus must contract to expel the large blood clots that often result.

4. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is an infection of the female reproductive tract, most commonly caused by untreated sexually transmitted infections. Left untreated, PID can cause inflammation, scarring, painful menstruation and infertility thanks to the scar tissue left behind. During menstruation, hormones influence the uterus and surrounding structures which can increase inflammation, bleeding and pain. PID can be treated with antibiotics, but antibiotics unfortunately won’t undo any structural damage caused by the infection.

5. Primary Dysmenorrhea
occurs at some point in almost half of all menstruating women. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, this cramping is caused by increased or imbalanced levels of prostaglandins – hormone-like fatty acids that stimulate the uterus to contract. Changes in prostaglandin levels can cause more intense and frequent contractions, leading to the compression of nearby blood vessels and cutting off oxygen to the uterine muscle; the result of this is painful cramping and discomfort.

This is by no means an exhaustive list (nor does period pain necessarily equate to any kind of condition or abnormality,) but if you feel like your day to day life is being negatively impacted due to monthly intolerable discomfort, please speak to your doctor or gynocologist. They'll be able to tell you whether what you're experiencing is normal, or whether it needs to be investigated further. Regardless, there are a number of things you can do to minimise the pain and discomfort - even temporarily. These quick, easy and totally free methods of pain control are suitable for all.

HEAT: Heat helps to relax the contracting muscles in your uterus, which is the root cause of pain. Using a heat pad on your pelvic area or tummy can help to soothe the muscles and reduce the tension, as can a hot water bottle; massaging the abdomen area gently or taking a warm bath can also help to restore pain levels to a tolerable amount. 

RELAXATION: Practising yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques can help wash away symptoms associated with cramping, while taking an anti-inflammatory medication (such as ibuprofen) several days before your expected period can help to tackle symptoms associated with inflammation. It's all about relaxing those muscles and learning to control how tense you are - both in body and mind.

DIET: If you're into supplements, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and magnesium has been known to help prevent bloating and discomfort, while reducing your intake of salt, alcohol, caffeine will have a positive impact overall. Eating lighter meals (even though we all want to gauge on pizza) will also keep your body working at its best, while reducing the pressure on your abdomen.

EXERCISE: When you're doing any type of aerobic exercise, your body is pumping more blood; this helps to release endorphins to counteract the prostaglandins and reduce your cramps. A light walk, a jog or even a little dance can help to counteract a painful patch - even when you'd rather curl up in a ball and hibernate for the next three days. 

Our monthly periods simply aren't fun, but they are a fact of life. Although without certain contraceptives you can't rid yourself of them entirely, there are ways to manage the pain and discomfort so it doesn't impact on your life in a negative way. I really believe we need to discuss period pain and heavy bleeding more openly, so we can share experiences and tips for managing it effectively. We collectively have a tendency to shy away from such discussions as if it was something to be ashamed of, when a monthly period is actually a sign of a healthy body operating in the way it was intended - so technically, we should celebrate our menstruation cycle. Perhaps with cake. 

Do you have any advice for managing pain and discomfort, or any experience with one of the aforementioned conditions that may help others? Remember, continue the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag: #LetsTalkAboutIt

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