An added glow to the skin can not only positively impact your confidence, but help your summer wardrobe to look even better. Over the years we’ve all been actively encouraged to ditch the sunbeds and undertake a safer and ‘faker’ alternative; self tans have become incredibly mainstream and offer a sun-free way of achieving a golden and radiant glow. I’ve been a self-tanner for years, transforming my pasty pale skin into something a little less transparent - especially as we step into summer and start to slip into something a little more revealing. As scientific advances have made self tanners even more realistic and less troublesome to apply, the market has boomed to leave the self tanning shelves of your local Boots store bursting with newness. A little indulgent tanning time once a week can offer a golden glow, but did you know the main ingredient in the majority of your tan products is actually holding a dirty little secret?
During my youth I never had the urge to travel. I had a desire to experience new things and enjoy my time as much as possible, but that never really transferred into wanderlust; it was some six years between a trip to New York and finally booking my next trip to the coast of Spain. Not exactly extravagant, but those moments on the beach and in the sun definitely ignited something in me that's burned brightly ever since. Maybe it's a desire that grows with an increasingly stressful and busy life, but now I constantly want to be somewhere other than the UK - even if for only a few days. This year I've already been to New York, Paris and Brussels, soon to be followed by Mallorca and Antigua, but I'm always on the look out for fab last minute deals that offer an excuse for me to jet away and immerse myself in a different culture. If, like me, you have an increasing desire to fly away but are a bit rubbish at organising it ahead of schedule, then I've five top tips for saving money when booking a last minute break. Because that means more Euros to spend on mojitos.
Fast overtaking other brands as one of my favourite fragrance houses, Miller Harris has the touch of the old fashioned about it - but in a completely endearing way. On the shelves of its boutiques are stacked only scents created with love and expertise, rather than focusing on trends or trying to keep the cost of ingredients as low as possible. There are no celebrity endorsements, no big marketing campaigns and no extravagant containers, because when your perfumes are this good you need no frills. I adore the simplicity of their bottles, the freshness of their approach and the truly unique scents that come from their fragrance labs (and they just keep getting better than ever.) This summer they're launching a new duo that's been designed to perfectly complement and transition from one to the other; based on the idea of 'night and day', individually they're beautiful but together they take you on a scent journey. Miller Harris describe the duo: "Lumière Dorée is the golden aura that every morning enfolds the night; Etui Noir is the magic shadow that each night sets free the day."
Anything that promises to add a glow to my complexion is something I immediately want to test. We all suffer with lack of radiance, often brought on by a combination of late nights and ageing playing havoc with our inner glow, so it's no surprise that radiance boosting products are becoming increasingly popular. The Body Shop have been knocking pretty much every new launch out of the park this year, bringing affordable and effective solutions to the high street; very much influenced by the Korean trends that are sweeping the nation, the majority of their innovations have been focused on offering hydration and radiance. Taking that one step further is their new trio of Instaglow CC Creams, which not only capitalise on our obsession with taking selfies for social media, but our need to illuminate our complexions and look like we're oozing health from within. Formulated with SPF20 to add a touch of sun protection simultaneously, these three lightweight creams claim to revive your skin with a healthy-looking glow. But how do they stand up and are they worth a purchase?
You'll Eat 1000 Lipsticks In Your Lifetime (WHAT!) Make Good Choices With Burt's Bees 100% Natural Lip Crayon
SPONSORED FEATUREOver the course of a lifetime it's estimated that the average woman consumes seven pounds of lipstick. (That's broken down to approximately 1000 individual bullets of the red stuff, yuk!) It may not be intentional, but after we've applied our favourite shade it's inevitable that we lick our lips or ingest a little while we're sipping on a coffee cup; although in such small quantities it's not going to be dangerous, it is worth considering what you're putting on your mouth and making sensible choices. I'm a huge lover of colour, relying on a portfolio of brands to get me ready for the day and boost my confidence - because there's nothing like stepping out the door fashioning a power lip! However, a lot of the brands I regularly turn to leave my lips feeling dry and in need of a good treatment: so much so that I have to take a day's break between applications. They're also full of chemicals, preservatives, artificial colours and so much more - so if you could create an intense colour result without compromising on what's inside, that would make sense right? Burt's Bees are well known for their award winning lipbalms (which I adore,) but they're not so well known for their 100% natural Lip Crayons which provide a beautiful and comfortable finish without any nasties.
Looking after your skin, particularly in the summer months, can be incredibly confusing. We know we should be using a daily SPF to protect ourselves from the sun's damaging rays, but the majority of sun creams have a thick and heavy texture which can result in blocked pores and congestion. This in turn can increase the likelihood of pimples, irritation and aggravated acne, which unsurprisingly puts us off using essential protection. It can be a real challenge to find a great SPF that is not only specifically designed for the face, but also provides the highest rating of protection; however, with the beauty industry focusing on finding groundbreaking advances that allow sunscreen to be effective without overloading the skin, there's a whole new generation of SPF products that are actually a pleasure to use. From tinted CC creams and facial spritzes, to essence-SPF combos and creams that also double-up as a primer, these are the seven products that you'll actually *want* to wear - every day of the year.
Starry Eyed Surprise: The Givenchy Superstellar Collection Will Make You Want To Skip Right To Autumn
So many new products pass by my desk on a daily basis that it's rare for me to become incredibly excited about one single eyeshadow palette - but when I saw a sneaky preview of what's to come from Givenchy this Autumn I couldn't help but turn into an actual heart-eye emoji. Inspired by the superhero movies and original comic books that are seeing a huge resurgence in popularity right now, the Autumn 'Superstellar' collection injects a touch of fun into a brand that could have been taken all too seriously until this point. With lipstick shades to come including a green 'The Hulk' and iconic 'Heroic Red', this is sure to appeal to those with a hidden geeky side as much as those with just a general passion for makeup; the link is subtle so as not to overshadow the fact that they're undeniably good products, but the hero is undoubtedly this beautiful star-shaped eyeshadow palette that's almost too pretty to use.
Create Your Perfect Beauty Products: Personalised Skin & Body Care With MixNature (Plus Get 20% Off!)
SPONSORED FEATUREBespoke and personalised beauty is possibly the biggest trend of 2016. After years of building into an ideal that there are only three hair types, three skin types and three body types, finally we're breaking out of the restrictive moulds that never did anyone any good. It may be that we have acne prone skin but also want to address those first signs of ageing, or that radiance is more important than oil control, but whatever your need there's much more choice to ensure we have a bespoke and customiseable routine. One of the most exciting and interesting brands I've come across in some time is MixNature; their unique online platform allows you to create your own incredibly personal cosmetics products, which are then made in their state-of-the-art lab and shipped to you within a matter of days. You can choose from face creams, scrubs, liquid soaps, cleansing milks, face masks, eye creams, shampoos, hair masks, hair balms, shower gels, body lotions, hand or foot creams - meaning practically your entire regime can be bespoke to you.
Enjoying The Skincare Benefits From Bathing At The Thermae Bath Spa (The Original Historical British Baths)
Few places can transport you back in time in the way Bath Spa can. Most historical sites are rather pompous, grand and emit a 'don't touch' attitude - but with the baths in the center of one of Britain's most ancient cities, it's all about getting hands on. More than just another swimming pool or spa, the Thermae Bath Spa is steeped in history while providing unique skincare and wellbeing benefits to its vistors. I visited the newly renovated modern site last weekend, which is still served by the original hot springs; these are a wonderful, natural resource which deliver over one million litres of mineral-rich water every day. If you're interested in the history of the baths, then it's useful to know the water fell as rain around 10,000 years ago and then sank to a depth of about 2km below the earth’s surface; here it's heated by high temperature rocks, before rising back up through one of the three springs in the centre of the City and cooling to the optimum bathing temperature of approximately 34 ºC. These springs directly serve the baths, providing a naturally heated and mineral enriched bathing experience that's utterly luxurious and unlike anything I've come across before.
It may have started as a platform teens used primarily to send dirty pictures on, but Snapchat has quickly evolved into one of the most exciting and powerful social networks we have. Snapchat, the brainchild of three creative kids from Stanford University, burst onto the scene in 2011. As of 2015 it's said that the company is worth up to $20 million, and as many as 6 billion videos per day are being viewed. The app became instantly popular with teens as it was fresh, fun and unlike anything else that existed - in the fact that content disappeared after it had been viewed. However, it quickly became popular in circles outside the millenials that first adopted it, thanks to the fact it was a breath of fresh air amongst the relatively boring and run-of-the-mill other social networks out there. When Snapchat introduced 'Snapchat Stories', the game completely changed; this turned the photo messaging app into its own social network, with users being able to tell and view a story over a 24hr period. Now this is undoubtedly Snapchat's most popular feature, with over 1 billion stories viewed per day. Although initially it wasn’t initially taken too seriously as a communication method for marketing campaigns, it quickly became apparent that brands and bloggers alike could adopt this technology in order to push their own messages and develop an intimate relationship with their followers.
Creams, lotions and nourishing sprays may be fabulous at providing a temporary hit of hydration, but they often don't penetrate deep enough to tackle serious irritation and dryness at its source. If you've ever suffered from eczema, psorasis, rosacea or even a really bad irritation, you may also be aware that the ingredients in many potions aggravate the skin even more to leave it red and burning. Balms are often misunderstood and misused, but when integrated into a skincare regime or utilised in the way they were intended they can be an absolute skin savour. Little pots of solid grease may not seem like the ideal product to apply to your face or massage into sore spots, but once you get to grips with the benefits they can bring I promise you'll be converted. I've been using beauty and skin balms since I first visited the HerbFarmacy plot in rural Wales last year, even making my own using their homegrown and nurtured ingredients; since I arrived home laden down with little tubs, both my boyfriend and I have been reaching for them on a regular basis to help with niggling skin issues. Whether it's helping to soothe Josh's eczema, heal cuts and bruises, boost the suppleness of my skin or simply provide a little pamper, HerbFarmacy have totally got it covered.
Face wipes have a bit of a bad reputation, but that reputation is more than justified. Although incredibly convenient, face wipes are saturated with all kinds of chemicals to keep them moist for a long period of time; ironically these ingredients can be incredibly drying and sometimes damaging to skin. Although often seen as a quick fix, a face wipe will only remove makeup and dirt that's visible on the surface - rather than helping to lift and clear the build-up that's sitting within the deeper layers of skin, waiting to potentially cause spots, irritation and blocked pores. Since their inception, women have been relying on them and them alone to remove makeup and grime at the end of the day; rather than using them as a first step, or as a last resort when there's no access to a decent cleanser and a sink, face wipes have become an alternative to a whole nightly routine. Generally speaking, I hate them with a passion; however, when they're used sensibly and with understanding they can offer benefit and are definitely worth having in a drawer for 'just in case' emergencies. Face wipes would never been a recommendation of mine, but if you're going to use one it's definitely worth investing in a decent wipe that's saturated with goodness (rather than drying chemicals.) If you're not sure where to turn, then these two packs of wipes are definitely on my 'good list' rather than on the naughty step...
I do love a good beauty box. Not only for the element of discovery, the cute little minis that it often contains and the sense of excitement when it lands on your doorstep - but also because you know somebody has handpicked a selection of beauty treats that they believe are worth you trying. Beauty boxes have evolved beyond the standard five items in a pink box every month, into something altogether more interesting. Collaborations, added value and more recently partnerships with bloggers, have together invigorated the concept and generated demand that a singular box alone can't compete with. So it got me thinking, if I was to launch my own beauty box then what products would I put inside? What selection of goodies would I want readers to really test for themselves? So here are my top picks and what I'd shove inside a (rather giant) box for you to enjoy... (Although initially I tried to narrow down my top picks into a realistic beauty box number, in the end I settled on enough to fill three different ones. Hey, it's not real so I can do whatever I want!)
Fortunately, the Korean beauty inspiration that seems to be sweeping the Western World doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon - but I actually look forward to a day where brands take inspiration from other parts of the globe, just so I have something new to write about! Cushion foundations aren't exactly new to UK shores, but until now they've only really been available via premium brands or if you went to the added effort of importing one from overseas. Unlike their BB and CC counterparts, which aim to provide multiple benefits in one creamy formula, cushion foundations are all about the application method; the formula itself isn't necessarily revolutionary, but it's the way in which you apply it (and the result you achieve) that's really rather special. It's taken 18 months for L'Oreal to embrace the trend and take inspiration from their big sister Lancome (who launched their own version at the beginning of 2015,) but my oh my it was worth the wait.
As I drew nearer to the big three zero, many things started to concern me: whether I would ever settle down and pop out a couple of kids, how I'd cope with hangovers in ten years time, and most importantly if I really should've really started the botox sooner rather than later. In my late twenties I was too busy having fun and following my dreams to really worry about anything other than superficial issues, but the one thing I didn't expect to hit me like a brick wall pretty much as soon as I transitioned from one decade to the next (apart from the atrocious hangovers) was the rate at which I'd pile on the pounds. We're used to hearing tales about men and women who struggle to keep their weight under control as the decades pass, but as someone who'd always been able to strip back my diet when I needed to look kick-ass at the weekend, I didn't think it would happen so suddenly or abruptly. Practically overnight I started to fill out and become even more wobbly than I was before; I pretty much had to look at a slice of chocolate cake and find myself a dress size larger, while losing weight was increasingly difficult once I'd actually put it on. Over the last three years I've gone up at least a dress size (if not two) and have struggled to keep my weight under control - so much so that it impacted on my confidence and self-worth.
Speed Beauty At Its Best For Only £25.00: Clarins BeautyBar TurboCharged Treatments Launch In Fenwick Brent Cross
SPONSORED FEATUREWe spend so much of our time rushing around attempting to cross things off our to-do lists, that it's easy to forget the importance of a little me-time. Looking after your body and mind is as equally important as remembering to pick up more milk, finding the perfect dress or beating your personal best down the gym; our skin is the first thing to show signs of lethargy and fatigue, so making time for a little facial, massage or general pamper can mean an instant boost to the way we look and feel. I adore taking an hour or two out for a treatment or spa session, but often finding the time to do so is tricky; if I ever want to spend an afternoon looking after myself and purely myself then it needs to be plotted in the diary at least a month in advance. So what if there was an easily accessible, affordable, fast and truly effective portfolio of treatments that could get you back on track without being a drain on your time - or your wallet? Well you're in luck, because Clarins have identified the demand for beauty treatments by time poor women (and men) and set up a groundbreaking BeautyBar in Fenwick Brent Cross. Launched with the objective of offering turbocharged beauty boosting treatments in a relaxed atmosphere (with no compromise on luxury, despite the fact you're not in a traditional Clarins spa environment!) there are eight different experiences to choose from - and I guarantee you'll want to experience them all.
SPONSORED FEATUREEvery sleeping beauty deserves to awake from her slumber with radiant, beautiful and clear skin. Although looking after your skin in the daytime is essential, the hours we're cosy between the sheets provides an extra opportunity to nourish and rejuvinate our complexion. Night creams tend to contain high levels of active ingredients, perfect for targeting a specific skin concern, which can really get to work while you sleep. UV rays can break down some ingredients during the day, so night time is the perfect opportunity to put your skin to work. Although it’s much debated, research shows that your skin reacts differently according to your body clock – during the day your skin is busy protecting itself, whereas at night cells focus on repairing themselves from damage. This means you can put on a cream before bed, relax and let the ingredients work their magic while you slumber. Yes To is a range of award-winning natural and affordable skincare, that's cruelty-free and formulated without parabens, SLS or silicones; affordable and effective, they're a great brand to turn to if you want to inject a touch of goodness but don't want to break the bank. The newest addition to their range is the rather fab Yes To Grapefruit Pore Perfection Night Treatment, which brightens and evens skintone while reducing the appearance of pores.
Choosing and applying your foundation correctly can mean the difference between a flawless, radiant glow and a dull, flat finish. You can have the best foundation in the world, but if you don't apply it correctly it may as well come from the bargain bin in your Nan's local chemist. It's no surprise that foundation shopping it almost as feared as searching for a new pair of jeans, or that women tend to stick to their 'holy grail' product when they find one that works for them, but the secret to the perfect base is in the tools you use - and not always in the product formulation itself. Although I spent years using my fingers to apply my base, when I finally discovered the benefit applying foundation with a brush could bring it completely revolutionised my routine. Not only is it way more hygienic than the alternative and saves valuable product, but it ensures precise application around the tricky eye and nose area. The traditional foundation brushes I've known and loved may have had their place within a professional regime five years ago, but as we look for more natural finishes and increasingly flawless results they're no longer cutting it for me.
A Whole New Level Of Anti-Ageing: Iluminage's Skin Smoothing At-Home Laser (Launching on QVC At A Special Price)
SPONSORED FEATUREWe often take for granted the benefit of youth, but as we hit our 30's, 40's, 50's and beyond, looking after our skin is increasingly important. As we age the outer layer of our skin thins and the number of pigment-containing cells decreases; this means more mature skin can appear thinner, paler and a little translucent. Changes in the connective tissue also reduce the skin's strength and elasticity, sebaceous glands produce less oil and the subcutaneous fat layer reduces to leave skin looking dry, wrinkled and lacking radiance. Although some embrace the signs of ageing, others simply detest it - scouring the beauty aisles of department stores in the hunt for anything that claims to help fight those inevitable signs. Two of the biggest concern areas for women involve the skin around the eyes and lips, which tend to show the signs of ageing first and often worse; although many creams, serums and balms claim to temporarily tackle the visible issues, often they don't fundamentally impact what's going on beneath the surface. For that you need a little additional boost that, until now, has only been available in professional skin clinics. After nearly a decade of research and development (and with eleven pending patents behind it,) finally Iluminage present their groundbreaking Skin Smoothing Laser - the first clinically proven in-home laser to reduce fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes and mouth.
I will always remember my first 'proper' makeup purchase. Having spent years investing my pocket money, part time earnings and later my student loan on an array of brightly coloured and carefully selected purchases, it was a moment when I left behind being a child and finally felt like a fully fledged grown-up. I was spending a whole £16.00 on a lipstick and it came from Clinique. The delicious scent, intricate metallic casing and iridescent shine left a tingle up my spine; I was so keen to keep this precious commodity for as long as possible I barely used it, meaning to my pain it eventually dried out and had to be thrown away. To me, that's what premium beauty is all about: a moment in time that draws out emotions and leaves you feeling special. It's sometimes worth paying over the odds for a lipgloss if it makes you feel like a princess every time you use it; importantly it's as much about the packaging, the scent, the sounds and smells as it is about what's inside. Over the years I've become as likely to gush over a £30.00 bronzer than I am a £2.99 nail varnish, but that's because I like to treat myself to little moments that remind me how far I've come and how hard I've worked since that very first Clinique lipstick purchase. However, in recent months I've felt myself becoming increasingly disengaged with a lot of high end beauty brands in favour of their much more affordable counterparts. Not only are they sometimes more enjoyable to write about, but you seem to get more excited about a beauty bargain than you do about a limited edition eyeshadow palette that will send you back fifty quid. Is high end beauty starting to lose it's sparkle?
A Revolutionary NEW Skin Base From The Korean Kings At Erborian: Achieve 'Baby Skin' (PLUS WIN £500 OF SKINCARE!)
SPONSORED FEATUREFor Erborian, the perfect skin ideal means ‘baby skin’ - the beautifully plump, smooth and even-toned radiance that can only be associated with optimum health. As one of the original Korean beauty brands to have been adopted in Western markets, Erborian have focused on creating products that deliver this ‘baby skin’ effect to women across the world. Initially this was in the form of their iconic BB Creme (launched in 2009) which achieved worldwide success, but in 2016 they take this one step further and welcome a new era of beauty with the launch of 0.09 Touch Au Ginseng. Housed in a gorgeous handbag-sized compact, this revolutionary product combines the benefit of a BB cream with the convenience and mattifying effect of a powder: the unique hybrid formula glides over skin to leave it looking naturally fresh and perfected.
We've long been looking to the Korean market for skincare innovations and new textures in makeup, but for some time there's been a small underground community that's obsessed with the cute and kitsch trinkets that Korean women themselves love so much. Until now you've only been able to get your hands on many of these if you stumble across a Korean store, or if you fly over to discover the goodies first hand. However, with the launch of this incredibly cute brand on UK shores (and on one of our most esteemed retail sites) things are about to change. Oh K! is everything we love about Korean beauty and more; it's playful, fun, kitsch, ridiculous and actually quite handy all at once. With a heavy focus placed on panda eyes, fruits with faces and glittery accessories that you may think suitable only for kids, this brings a touch of Korea to those of us that still embrace our inner child - no matter our age. What's even better is that everything is incredibly affordable, with prices starting from only £4.00.
Beauty advice is sought everywhere. It's not just limited to the makeup counters in department stores, or the girls in Boots, but with the growth of the internet it's increasingly available on everywhere from Instagram and Snapchat, to YouTube and Periscope. With the growth of blogs and social media platforms, beauty has once again become democratic: it's accessible to all, no matter your socio-economics, location or demographics. Ten years ago beauty was somewhat elitist, being only available to those that could afford professional advice or spent their weekends chatting to counter girls in Selfridges; fast forward to 2016 and it's never been more democratic, with everyone from your next door neighbour to world class celebrities sharing their top tips for looking and feeling great. However, does that make the advice any less valid? Does not having a degree in cosmetic science or training in administering botox mean your opinions and learnings don't have value? Increasingly the bloggersphere has come under fire for offering up 'incorrect' or 'unsubstantiated' recommendations and advice, with recent conversations on certain threads accusing those with 5, 10, 20 years experience in the field of being a phoney - simply because they've 'learned on the job' rather than undergoing formal training. So the question is, do you really need to be an expert to be a beauty blogger... Or does the whole concept explode the notion of being an expert at all?
Guess what? I've taken the decision to banish the opaques. It may be a little premature, but after months on end of fashioning jumpers and heavy boots I'm ready to embrace summer fashion - even if I have to feel a little chilly for a short time while doing it. There's something incredibly constrictive about tights and shoes that are physically tied on to your tootsies; I was born to be free and I was born to skip around wearing summer dresses and pretty sandals. In order to get myself summer ready (albeit a little ahead of schedule) I'm prepping my pins and ensuring they're fuzz free, while my feet need to come out of hiding and undergo a makeover before they can be displayed in all their glory. With the bazillions of beauty products I have at my disposal, it takes quite a lot to get fully integrated into my routine; however, these two leg and foot perfecting gadgets were both ripped from their packaging and displayed instantly on my bathroom shelf. Together they provide a lazy girls approach to summer, helping to primp and preen the two parts of your body that get hidden away more than most - and here's why I can't get enough.
SPONSORED FEATUREIf you really had to scale back what was in your handbag, what essential products would you pick to carry around 24/7? Maybe a nourishing lip balm or a mini can of deodorant; possibly even an emergency red lipstick, eye drops or a touch of cuticle oil? For me it’s about choosing hard working and multi-tasking products that I can rely on to meet my needs without compromise, and without taking up essential room in my overflowing bag. (It's becoming a real problem!) Lotil cream has been a tried and tested family favourite for decades, but it’s also a handbag essential that no beauty savvy man or woman should be without. This rather understated looking tube of cream is actually incredibly effective at nourishing dry hands, tackling eczema, soothing bites and even helping makeup to stay in place, so it’s no surprise that it’s been a trusted bathroom cabinet saviour for over 100 years.
Kiko cosmetics aren't ones to sit on their laurels and wait for inspiration to hit them; they're out there on a daily basis coming up with new ideas and curating new collections, knowing their increasingly demanding customer is all about having fun. Described as ‘beauty with a free-spirited soul’, this summer they've launched a new limited-edition collection (are any of the collections *not* limited edition?!) that's simply inspired by a passion for travel. The products have been curated to offer a portfolio of travel companions, helping you achieve a flawless and glowing complexion wherever you are, while the striking and somewhat lustworthy packaging is perfect for on-the-go city break touch-ups. Interestingly, Kiko have partnered with designer Ross Lovegrove to create the collection’s packaging; known for his futuristic and conceptual work, Ross interpreted the collection’s theme to create practically designed products that are perfect to take with you anywhere. Kiko say "he also identifies and decodes the DNA of KIKO: an essence of elegance, sensuality, femininity, breeziness and usefulness." Together the collection offers something ultra-premium in design and quality that's not necessarily season dependant; these are products you'd be happy to slip into your bag for months (and years if you can make them last that long!) to come, knowing they look and feel twice their actual price.
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