SPONSORED FEATUREIn a world awash with new innovations and technological advances, it seems we're increasingly turning back to nature as a way of escaping the overload of information. As popular as the most promising scientific anti-ageing cream are the basic, simple and effective ingredients that have been relied on for generations - and there's no doubt that the most current and on-trend of them is coconut oil. Increasingly popular in both food and beauty applications, due to increased research into its benefits over more commonly used oils (such as olive and sunflower,) this sweet smelling substance contains a huge amount of vitamins and minerals (including Choline, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Iron, Stearic and Lauric Acid) to help nourish the body both inside and out. Whether you choose to use it in its raw format, add it to your beauty products or opt for an already enriched affordable body treat, there's no doubt this tropical ingredient can offer up huge benefits for the lips, skin, hair and body.
Fragrance is something that can be chosen every day like a pair of shoes; it's an accessory that should reflect your mood, style or destination that morning, rather than something that's mindlessly applied for years on end without much thought. I've always been a bit of a fragrance fiend and get bored of scents very easily, which is why I'm always adding new ones into my repertoire and changing up my portfolio at the start of every season. During the summer months I tend to opt for fresher, greener and more citrus-based perfumes, but in the Autumn I transition into lighter musks and more masculine undertones that match the cosy jumpers and boots I'll undoubtedly be sporting this time next month. With a plethora of new fragrances hitting shelves ahead of the new season, I've chosen five that are my current favourites and that I'll be sporting well into 2017. Here's the lowdown on each...
Department stores are designed to make us spend; their beautifully bright halls can make us feel weak at the knees, the temptation to spend feeling somewhat overwhelming - and it's no surprise. Floor plans, salesperson strategies and clever up-selling tactics may feel like an extension of the whole experience at the time, but upon retrospect it's easy to see where we may have been coerced into opening our purses more times than we initially anticipated. So how can we step into a department store and enjoy the experience, without handing over bundles of cash and coming away with bags full of things we don't really need? How can we play salespeople at their own game and ensure we spend wisely, take advantage of promotions and leave the store with items we truly will cherish? I've got some top tips to share that I hope will make you savvier and even more pleased with the purchases you do eventually make.
One of the things I'm most aware of when it comes to running this blog is the amount of money a product costs for the pleasure; not everyone has a huge pot of beauty budget to play with, and not everything is worth the ridiculous price. However, it's sometimes difficult to navigate the beauty shelves of Boots and get to grips with what's worth the investment, what's cheap and not even cheerful, and those beauty bargains that you'll be telling all your friends about in the weeks to come. So many affordable products land on my desk but cut too many corners for me to genuinely recommend them, but equally far too many brands think a fancy name and a pretty bottle gives them the right to charge £100 for a face cream. With this issue on my radar I sat down and tried to pick five beauty products under a tenner that are genuinely worth every penny - if not more - so you can experience a little bit of fabulous without having to wack it on the credit card.
Certain makeup products are usually devoid of excitement and eyeliners more often than not fit into that category. How different or unique can you make something that slicks across your eyelid, which is usually black in colour and liquid like in texture? With Urban Decay's new Razor Sharp Long-Wear Eyeliners they've managed to get me excited about coloured eyeliner again for the first time in a long time, proving you're never too old for a touch of shimmer or sparkle. Gold and silver liners are usually kept hidden away until the impending festive season, but the texture and subtlety of these make it absolutely feasible to wear them every day of the year. The super fine and precise applicator brush helps to keep the colour close to the lash line, meaning you don't have to overload your lid if you don't want to; every one of the colours I've tried is highly pigmented and dries quickly to leave no mess, just a great little hint of colour that updates your look.
When you imagine paradise, what does your vision include? Perhaps it's palm trees and blue seas, or white sandy beaches and pina coladas; maybe it's tropical fish swimming amongst the coral, or steel bands playing as the sun sets. Thankfully the remote island of Antigua offers all that and more, making it the ultimate destination for anyone wanting to spend a week relaxing in some of the most breathtaking surroundings. Our trip started with an eight hour flight from Gatwick, followed by a thirty minute drive to the South-Easterly tip of the island where St James's Club resort is tucked away; located on a secluded 100-acre peninsula, the all-inclusive destination exudes an exclusive (almost akin to a members club) ambience thanks to the personal touches and apartment-like rooms that instantly help you to feel at home. From the personal greeting and butler-style service, to the fabulous food and plethora of things to do, St James's Club makes a week in paradise feel like an indefinite getaway that you'll never want to return from.
Proof You Only Need 7 Ingredients In Your Skincare: Eau Thermale Avène Tolérance EXTRÊME #KeepItSimple
SPONSORED FEATUREFrench pharmacy brands have never been more popular; we seem to crave not only their continental charm, but their knowledge and unrivaled understanding of the way skin behaves. Eau Thermale Avène has gradually become one of those brands with almost cult-like status amongst their dedicated consumers, as word of mouth recommendations help to spread the message that this is a company that really knows skin. Their newly launched Tolérance EXTRÊME range encapsulates that completely, as each of the four products (including a cleansing lotion, mask, emulsion and cream) contain only seven individual ingredients. We're so used to seeing hugely long lists of twenty to fifty ingredients in any one product, so this concept is really quite revolutionary; they've managed to cut out any unnecessary irritants (thanks to the sterile cap that removes the need for preservatives) and focus on the elements that will genuinely benefit the skin. You can read my original feature here, which gives you more information on the technology and individual ingredients that make up each of the four skincare saviours, but I've been putting them to the test over the last month or so to see how I got on when taking my routine back to basics. So, what are my thoughts?
As consumers, we're collectively becoming increasingly concerned with the ingredients in our beauty products and what they mean for our overall health. Organic, natural and 'free from' are buzz words we hear every day, but there's a significant lack of clarity around what they really mean. Unlike organic food, there is currently no legal standard in place to protect shoppers against fake or misleading organic beauty claims; this flourishing green market is becoming increasingly confusing and hard to manoevre as marketing teams get more and more clever at making us part with our cash. Brands may use product names that give the impression of organic ingredients, add a few green leaves to a pack, or use nuances that subconsciously make us believe the formula will be better for us than the alternative - but this tends to be just confusing noise that hides what's really going on. The Soil Association is the UK's leading certification body that aims to make this process clearer, certifying brands and products in order to provide consumers with the tools they need to make informed purchasing decisions.
Unless you've been living under a rock (or you're not a blogger, and therefore not really interested in the next 500 words) then you may have been shocked to learn the news regarding the abrupt closure of one of the UK's biggest digital media networks. Mode Media (previously Glam Media) formally shut its doors at the end of last week, with what appears to be no notice whatsoever; the many influencers under its control were aghast to see the topic trending across social media, with the news outlets being more informed than those actually in daily contact with the company. Last year they generated over $90 million in revenue, leading us to question how this could happen - and more importantly, what comes next? A quick google will tell you that the company was in dire straights, struggling with both investment and leadership that inevitably lead them to be in so much debt that there was no way forward; testimony from those employed by Mode paints a desperate picture, with the majority having no clue as to the situation until they were shown the door. In a nutshell, Mode Media have left thousands of bloggers without payment (in some cases dating back to March of this year) and hundreds more unemployed. Their abrupt end has caused shockwaves throughout the digital space, as influencers struggle to get to grips with what has happened and what they can do about it.
Since childhood, the summer months have brought with them a plethora of problems. From heat rash and insect bites, to uncomfortable rubbing and the irritating symptoms of hayfever, the sunshine only just outweighs the problems I (like many of you) have to deal with. Whilst sunning myself on the beautiful island of Antigua (more on that soon,) I found myself suffering once again; not only did those dreaded little hot red bumps make an appearance, but during one exceptionally humid evening I was absolutely ravaged by insects. My legs looked like they'd become diseased as I slept, not helped by the insane amount of inflammation caused by the irritant that led to uncontrollable itching. When you're practically on a desert island, with little other than an emergency supplies shop at your disposal, what do you turn to in order to ease your symptoms? After a quick google, one of the constantly recommended natural remedies for everything from sunburn and heatrash, to irritated skin and insect bites was the soothing power of Aloe Vera.
Stay Hydrated & In Style Sustainably (A Water Solution That's Good For Your Skin & Good For The Planet)
SPONSORED FEATUREEvery single system in the human body relies on water to function effectively; with a drop in bodily fluids of just 5%, we can see a significant negative impact upon our energy levels, complexions and ability to process food. Although we're consistently told to drink up around eight glasses of water a day, the majority of us struggle to fit it into our regimes or find ourselves reaching for a caramel macchiato instead. My own struggle with water consumption has been well documented, but increasingly I'm learning to always carry a bottle of water with me and skip those cans of fizzy pop in favour of a little beaker of orange squash. I've become incredibly aware of when I'm feeling dehydrated and make a concerted effort to drink as much as possible throughout the day, starting with a big glass of water as soon as I wake up. There's no doubt it has a positive impact on my energy levels, ability to focus and overall wellbeing, as well as offering a little beauty kick-back too: drinking water is the oldest and cheapest way of achieving a glowing and healthy looking complexion. Victoria Beckham has once again been quoted this week as looking after herself by drinking lots of water, so if it's good enough for her it's more than good enough for us mere mortals!
Bespoke skincare has been big news for some time, providing a more tailored approach to our ever changing and increasingly individual needs. Even hair and body brands have identified the fact that (shock, horror) we all don't fit within one or two stereotypes, in turn creating products that meet our demands and tackle our concerns. Within makeup, the ability to create something bespoke has somewhat alluded us - unless you want to spend a small fortune creating a professional palette from somewhere such as MAC or Laura Mercier - so it's about time that changed. Known as a force for change within the beauty industry and not afraid of totally revolutionising the way we understand, buy and use makeup, the guys over at Tam Beauty (who own Makeup Revolution) have taken this as an opportunity to create yet another new brand. (Do they never sleep?) Imminently hitting Boots stores across the country, Makeup Obsession offers a selection of eyeshadow, blush, highlight and contouring pods that can either be used alone or added to a palette that's a complete reflection of your individual tastes.
Michael Bublé Hits All The Right Notes With His Debut Scent For Women: By Invitation (You're Gonna Love It!)
One of the most celebrated and recognised voices of a generation, Michael Bublé oozes old school glamour and charm. The multi Grammy award winning artist may have been away from the spotlight for a time to recover from throat surgery, but this September he's back with a bang - in more ways than one. Not only is he releasing his much anticipated new album, but he's turned his hand to fragrance and developed a beautiful elegant scent that personifies his own timless appeal. 'By Invitation' is described as a 'crisp floral oriental', but the warming base notes ensure it's a sensual and timeless addition to any fragrance portfolio. Starting with light and sparkling top notes of red fruits and bergamot, the scent then develops its heart notes of lily of the valley, elegant rose, a wild jasmine and the spicy inflexions of peony; By Invitation then wraps you in a warm base of sandalwood-musks, blended with an addictive vanilla praline, leaving behind a lingering addictively warm scent.
One of the places I was most excited to visit during my latest time in New York was the iconic Coney Island. Not only the HQ location of my current Amazon obsession, Mr Robot, but the backdrop of everything from Made In Chelsea to Hollywood blockbusters that use the colourful attractions as a way of setting the scene for colourful drama. Located in the southwestern area of Brooklyn and a 45 minute subway journey from central Manhattan, it's the perfect place to spend a day away from the hustle and bustle of the city; who wouldn't want to swap city smog for sea air, albeit temporarily? As soon as you step out of the station you know that this is a whole new side to New York that's incomparable to anything else you would have experienced in Manhattan: the bold shapes, bright colours, endless beach, vintage-looking rides and even the frozen margaritas have seaside charm that the UK just can't compete with. According to the locals, this is where everything from the classic hotdog was invented to the first ever rollercoaster seeing its debut; it's awash with history, but in a fun way rather than feeling like a museum that prevents you from touching. Coney Island is all about the touching - and the smelling, seeing and smiling.
Confused About Your Base? A Breakdown Of Every Type Of Foundation & Which One Will Work Best For You
Key to any great makeup look is a fantastic base. Like the wallpaper in a room or a body of a car, all the extra bits and bobs can be added on top to really personalise the end result - but if you start with a slightly lumpy wall or a rusty bonnet you're only going to be able to achieve so much. It took me a long time to get to grips with foundation, but even longer to understand the unique benefits different textures and formulas could offer; skip forward a decade or so and I have a plethora of different options within my repertoire that I turn to when in need of something to help me look my best. Whether that's a high coverage and high performance base to help cover up a long week, a lightweight BB Cream to add radiance and help protect my skin from city living, or a dewy cushion foundation to offer a lightweight finish that lasts all day, I know how to navigate my way through. But do you? There's no doubt picking a base can be confusing and overwhelming, so I've broken down the different types of product with advice on when to use them - as well as some of my personal picks and recommendations. I hope you find it useful!
Ultrasun: The Ultimate Year-Round Suncare Hero (Suitable For Even Sensitive, Irritated Or Kids Skin)
I'm a self-confessed suncare addict, but admittedly there are worse things to be obsessed over. Having just returned from a couple of breaks in the burning sun, I've been layering myself (and everyone else around me) up with all manner of protective creams not only to stop my skin from burning - but to prevent the onset of those fine lines just a little longer. The summer may be verging on over, but that doesn't mean we have to pack away the suncreams and SPF lotions for yet another year. Although we've been programmed to associate 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. 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. I've long been careful to apply a sunscreen to my face on a daily basis, but increasingly I'm aware of the importance of applying it to the rest of my body too - especially on an unexpected warm Autumn weekend or during a lengthy stint in the open air. But where can you turn for help that's suitable for the whole family, 365 days of the year?
I adore beauty in all its facets, but more often than not the 'newness' that lands on my desk is just a re-packaged or re-marketed version of something that we've all been using for years. When I spot something innovative that will really make my life easier, my routine more fruitful or my skin even more fabulous, then it really is something to get a little excited about. Yet another smokey eyeshadow palette, face cream or nail polish is all well and good, but the bits and bobs that genuinely excite me push boundaries and meet a need - whether we're aware of it or not. This Autumn (can I call it Autumn?) there are a few bits and bobs I think are genuinely worth getting in a flap over and offer up something new; all five of them slip into my regime and offer an enhanced version of what I already have, which is what it should be all about. Here are five beauty innovations I think you need to try... And why.
SPONSORED FEATUREFacial oils may be having a moment, but they've been used by skincare experts and therapists for decades as a way of treating skin in an effective and highly nourishing way. Everyone is increasingly obsessed with the multi-functional benefits a little bottle of rich oil can provide, but with good reason. Saturated with effective ingredients in much higher concentrations than your usual moisturiser, they provide a great way to treat your skin without overloading it. Because oils are lipophilic (or fat loving) they pass though the lipid layer of the skin faster, preventing water loss and plumping skin with moisture more effectively. If you apply an oil before your anti-aging cream, the oil molecules also trick the skin into letting active ingredients (such as retinol, glycolic acid and vitamin C) penetrate deeper into the skin, without irritating the surface. An oil is a perfect accompaniment to a targeted skincare regime, adding a little boost when you need it most - whether that's before your moisturiser, as a night treatment, mixed with your foundation or even rubbed onto dry patches and cuticles. Although they can be intimidating if you don't know what to look for, finding a great product that integrates into your routine is the first step towards great skin.
New York feels like home. There's something so charismatic and warming about this iconic city that it seems to welcome so many of us into its arms as soon as we step out of JFK and breathe in the (slightly dirty) air; it feels instantly comfortable and really is the ultimate location for those chasing dreams or wanting to start anew. I've visited the bustling streets of Manhattan four times now, and every trip I discover something even better than before - there's always a different area to walk through, a new restaurant to try out or a hidden gem to stumble across. Although the iconic tourist hotspots are a must for those on their first trip to NYC, upon your return visit you'll inevitably want to see something raw and real via the eyes of a local, or simply discover must-see spots that are undeniably instagrammable. I've pulled together a list of hotspots that will give you an alternative view of the city, and pull at your heart strings even more than the view from the Empire State.
In my opinion, the beauty of the beauty industry is that it's something that can be enjoyed by everyone. No matter your age, skin tone, skin type, background, gender, application ability or even interest in the latest on-trend lipstick shade, we can all enjoy beauty products in our own way; they're non-discriminatory in the way that often fashion is not. I love the fact that my Mum, Nan, Aunt and best friends can all get excited about a new face serum, glitter nail polish or hand cream despite their differences in every other element of their lives. I adore the fact that the beauty blogging world has opened up a whole new way of connecting with individuals that are more 'like us' (whether that's in age, the colour of their skin or whether they're dealing with a physical or mental illness.) However, like I addressed in my post about the under-representation of women of colour in blogging, this hasn't quite transitioned into the wider world in a way that we all may have liked. We simply don't see diversity in our stores, within our magazines and on our televisions, despite the UK being such an ethnically and culturally diverse place.