You know those days when basically you've all the good intentions - but everything goes a bit tits up, you end up with frizzy hair and the only thing that will fix it is a cup of coffee or three? Last week I had one of those. I was all up for rocking a sassy outfit, but when it's freezing and miserable outside you can only reassess and step out of the door in a cosy jumper dress in a colour to match your mood. This winter I've been embracing the jumper dress for the first time ever and I have to say I'm all over it: they're cosy and comfy without requiring any kind of effort, but look like you've actually put a little thought into your attire. Although this little number from Next is one of my current faves, the colour means I feel the need to up-the-outfit-ante with a rather delicious looking handbag that will make me feel like a boss (even though I'm secretly wishing it to be nap time.) Meet my new baby: the Givenchy Antigona in black, with little silver stud details that I just can't get enough of. Hubba hubba.
Can Skincare Really Make You Look 10 Years Younger? (Plus Why Ceramide Capsules Are Now A Regime Staple)
Right now I have an increasingly complex relationship with my face. On one hand I'm embracing the changes the years bring and celebrate the fact I'm older, wiser and more confident than I ever have been, but on the other hand I feel my youth slipping away one fine line at a time. I don't want to look like a teenager again, but the onset of deep wrinkles really quite worries me at this stage in my life (I'm sure I'll come to love them as they appear later down the line!) Anything I can do to delay the onset of the ageing process, make my skin more radiant and reduce the appearance of those little crinkles, I will - within reason. Personally things like botox and seriously invasive procedures just aren't quite me, but give me any lotion or potion and I'll slap it on happily with the aim of reducing those signs I see every day in the mirror. My skincare regime is expansive and I invest a lot of time massaging in expensive creams and taking my supplements, but that doesn't mean there isn't always something more effective and somewhat revolutionary around the corner.
Although it started as an organic, raw and exciting way to share thoughts and opinions, there's no doubting that blogging has now become a numbers game. It's all about how many followers you've got on Instagram, what your Klout score is and the number of YouTube views each video gets. I get it, I really do; brands want to generate as much exposure as they possibly can and to get maximum return on their investment, so the number of eyeballs is the easiest thing to focus on. When historically we've all only had magazine circulation figures (often hugely inflated or manipulated) to go on, this is the one statistic that keeps being measured as the ultimate level of success - and expectations keep increasing. With some superstar bloggers and vloggers speaking to millions of people every single month, it's easy to get wrapped up in seeking as high a number as possible and using that as the only metric of success. However, this numbers-led culture within the bloggersphere is causing one huge problem that seems to be getting increasingly worse: bought followers.
Spring has such a unique scent. The aroma of freshly cut grass, the first sprig of a daffodil and a cold glass of rose wine as the sun goes down is such a refreshing antidote to the heavy and woody notes of winter. I do adore the onset of colder weather and the scent of a cracking fire, but after a few months it's a welcome change to finally start to disrobe and celebrate the sun once again. As we get that little bit closer to Valentines Day (love it or hate it) there's a plethora of new fragrances that are hitting shelves to offer the perfect gift for a loved one, but there are also so many that are so pretty that they're definitely worth treating yourself to too. (Who needs a guy/gal to buy it for them anyway?) I've currently got three faves on rotation that I couldn't wait to share with you - which will you choose?
This weekend women (and men) walked in their millions to protest a multitude of issues that have touched all of our lives in one way or another. Although many believe it to be an unnecessary commotion against the Trump regime which will make no difference, the #WomensMarch was so much more than that; the images that have filled my social media feeds over the last few days have shown that this was more than just a popular protest against a new president, but a way of us all expressing our frustration, anger, sadness and worry of what's to come. In the last few decades we've progressed so much on the road to equality, but we're really not there yet - if anything, we're set to take a step back over the coming few years as Trump revokes legislation that made a real difference to people far beyond US borders. (Partner that with the impending Brexit mess, where established European equality rights are under threat too, and we're in a bit of a mess.) And that's why these marches went global; that's why these events saw people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities and ages take to the streets with their sassy signs to show everyone that they'd had enough. That's why the fight is just beginning.
It's undeniable that I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram. I adore it as a way to be visually inspired, see what some of my favourite bloggers are up to and connect with brands that mean a lot to me, but it's also easy to spend hours endlessly scrolling through utter rubbish in the hope you'll find that one square that makes it all worth it. It's addictive, but it can also leave us feeling a bit crap if we're not careful enough to peel ourselves away from the screen. If, like me, you get a bit happy on the 'follow' button and your feed is full of stuff you'd rather not see (or Instagram isn't the inspirational, motivational and dreamy place you keep hearing others talk about,) then there are six main types of account you really need to get rid of, stat.
I have to admit that I've cheated a little bit when it comes to this post. Over the last couple of weeks there hasn't been that much newness (or new-on-my-desk-ness) worthy of your attention, so this time around it's an edit of some of the more exciting bits and pieces that have made their way to me over the last month or so - and for one reason or another I've not written about them previously. When the sunshine seems so far away and the cold weather is playing havoc with our skin, it's the perfect time to give yourself a pamper and get to know some new treats that will undoubtedly tickle your fancy. I've pulled together an edit of ten things I think you'll love getting to know, none of which cost a fortune either.
January is a funny time of year. After the long festive period, where heinous jumpers and all the layers are fashion du jour, I feel like I need to break out of the mould and start wearing my spring wardrobe; the irony is that January and February are actually the coldest months and we *need* those layers that we're so keen to shred. So what do we do when the sun comes out a little and it's not three degrees outside? We embrace some winter florals, park the boots for a day, layer up with a fur stole, pack the sunnies... And take some photos! I know, what is this madness? An outfit post on LBQ? Although I've always been incredibly interested in fashion and spend a fortune on clothes and accessories, it's never been something I've really focused on documenting - mainly because I'm not a flawless size eight twenty-something, but also because I've never had someone to actually take my picture. As you may have seen from my post on how my blog will change this year, I'm making a concerted effort to put more of me on this site and be proud of who I am as a 34 year old with 36G boobs and a bum to match. So here goes... Please be kind!
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SPONSORED FEATUREGreat skincare has never been more important to me than it is now. Over the years I've upped my game and taken the time to understand the benefit a targeted regime can bring - both in the immediacy and long-term. As I hit my mid-thirties I'm starting to see those fine lines appear around the eyes, the gentle sagging of my jawline and the change in texture of my overall face; a bad night's sleep can be seen instantly under my eyes, while a week or two of over-indulgence takes double that amount to recover from. However, it isn't all doom and gloom; I'm fully embracing the changes that are appearing as a sign of experience and having lived my life, even if I want to give them a helping hand and minimise them wherever possible. One of the big things I've learned over the years is that skincare products really are #BetterTogether; that is, using a serum alongside an eye cream, moisturiser and overnight treatment will provide far better results than relying on a standalone product. Each provides the skin with targeted care and ingredients that have been included for specific benefit, but together just four steps can help totally change the look and feel of your skin.
Right now the hottest book in the bloggersphere is undoubtedly The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k. You've probably seen it all over your Insta-feed and your favourite bloggers have probably been professing to it being the most life-changing thing they've ever read - but with good reason. I devoured this little treat of a book over a few dreary January evenings, when I really needed a kick up the posteria and a way to start my new year off with a new outlook; devoured is probably the best adjective to describe how most people will consume the words that are on the page, as it's hard to put down once you get going. Our digital world has led us to be ever more concerned with the way we're perceived and how we document our lives online; whereas before our dodgy hairstyles and badly curated outfits were lost for all time, now you only have to scroll back through a Facebook feed to see the horrors in all their glory. With the opening of our lives and their every detail, comes the inevitable scrutiny and comparison - and that in turn can leave us feeling dejected, somewhat of a failure (be it career wise, handbag wise or simply achieving those life milestones that you're 'supposed' to tick off by a certain age) and giving too many f*cks about what everyone else thinks.
Today is apparently 'Blue Monday', that one day of the year that feels most gloomy and leaves us in need of a chocolate hit alongside a marathon of Gilmore Girls. (Yes, I've finally jumped on that bandwagon.) The festive season is a distant memory, we're starting to feel the pinch of that early December paypacket, looking out the window we're met with a gloomy landscape and our resolutions have already been discarded alongside that yoga mat and exercise ball. It's easy to feel like you're in a never-ending slump, but you can pick yourself up without flitting off to an exotic location or winning the lottery. In my opinion, it's all about your outlook and how you use this 'down time' to your advantage - so you can kick the rest of 2017's butt all the way to fabulousness.
Twenty-Seventeen is only a couple of weeks old, but it seems like we've been back to work and (theoretically) back to bossing all over the shop for an age already. The start of a new year always brings with it endless possibility and the opportunity to refresh, re-look and re-jig - as well as to plan for what's to come. I've no doubt this year will be full of exciting projects, big launches and new social platforms to get our teeth into, but I've also no doubt there will be big change in the bloggersphere; in order to continue to sustain our positions and influence it's vital to grow and evolve, changing up the norm for something new. 2017 marks seven whole years of London Beauty Queen and over that time I've refined my tone of voice and definitely pin-pointed who I am as a woman, entrepreneur and blogger; as a result, this year a few things will change on this here corner of the internet to make it something I can continue to be passionate and excited about.
Over the next few months you'll start to see a slight change to the way in which I present beauty reviews, news and edits. Although I love the beauty industry with all my heart and adore putting things to the test, I want London Beauty Queen to be about more than that. I want to be able to continue to bring you advice, discussion, news and edits of some of the things I'm using without always being bogged down by the stuff that's landing on my desk - often it's all shiny, new and distracting, giving you a taster of fab things that you can buy to meet an immediate need rather than investments that you'll continue to use and enjoy for months to come. As a result, every week (or fortnightly if there's not much going on!) I'll be bringing you an edit of what's new, noteworthy and lustworthy in a more manageable format with bitesized reviews and first impressions. If anything keeps my attention span for a little longer or is genuinely changing my life, I'll happily feature it again to let you know. But if you want a quick bitesized chunk of newness, this is the place to be. And boy have I got ten great things to start off with!
(Side note: Right now I feel like I have so many reflective and forward-thinking posts to get through before I can even begin to consider actually getting back to beauty, so I'm just gonna run with it. In a few months time I know I'm probably going to feel like I need a slap of inspiration around the face, so while I have it it's getting put into action!) Well, well, well, dear bloggersphere: you've certainly been busy over the last twelve months haven't you? The beauty of our digital space is that it's ever evolving and organically changing into something even better, always keeping us on our toes and proving you can never be too complacent. 2016 definitely saw the rise of the 'influencer' rather than vlogger/blogger, with this new generation of mega-stars not even needing a website from which to do their influencing - just an Instagram channel and a lot of great poses. We saw a plethora of new sites launch and with them the onset of new talent taking the world by storm, as well as new channels come and go (hello Insta-Stories, see you later Vine!) alongside the understanding that you can actually blog over the age of 30 (because we're not all computer-illiterate you know.) So much happened and so much changed, many of which I predicted, but rather more interestingly: what do we think is to come for our beloved bloggersphere in the next 12 months? In the words of MN8, 'I've gotta little something for ya!'
I swear the older I get the more I regress into my childhood. Everything becomes a little nostalgic, a great memory and a way of capturing those happy carefree moments that seem so very long ago. Although I'm all about the elegant, minimalist and modern styles that look great on my dressing table, I'm increasingly turning to cutesy and novelty beauty items to inject a touch of fun into my otherwise very adult life. Clinique's Chubby Sticks have always provided a little way to leave you feeling happy, with every application providing a wash of colour wrapped up in a not-too-serious pack, but this January they're taking that one step further by teaming up with a brand that's been part of childhoods across the globe for decades: Crayola. Yep, lip crayons take on a whole new meaning in 2017!
Growing up I never had the type of friendship group you see in the movies. I was outspoken, independent, chubby and not especially talented at anything related to sports or music; although I had a lot of friends and moved easily between circles, I never made that life-long connection with someone that I could rely on indefinitely. Over the years I've had many people I would consider 'best friends', providing the support I needed at different stages in my life, but few remain. People phase in and out of your inner circle all the time, serving different purposes and being with you as you experience different moments - and that's ok. Those we're forced into friendship circles with don't have to stick around forever, as we instead stumble across people that can really make a difference to your outlook on life and ability to be the best kind of person you can be.
It's not easy to launch a new brand. Not only do you have to have a cracking idea, but a plethora of expertise behind you to help with formula development, packaging design, marketing and actually getting it sold. Although there's another new beauty brand opening its metaphorical doors to us every week, few of them actually have what it takes to make an impact; most may seem like a good idea at the time, but when push comes to shove there's a thousand other bottles that offer the same thing. All success stories start with a sprinkling of magic and a dash of passion, as that's fundamentally what makes the difference between just another launch and a story that customers want to be part of; this year there's going to be a hot new name on everybody's lips that will bring a touch of something different that will undoubtedly fulfill that need. La-Eva is only on the first chapter of its journey, but I guarantee you'll love everything it has to offer.
Something ridiculous like 3000 different products landed on my desk last year, all vying for my attention and promising to be the revolution that I was craving. Suffice to say the majority of them didn't live up to expectations or wow me enough to warrant a post, but many peaked my interest and seemed to offer a benefit I could get on board with. Whether that was a beautiful new eyeshadow palette, a hard working night treatment or a shampoo that left my hair full of bounce, there were a lot of great discoveries and purchases in 2016 that together made up over 300 individual posts. I've been looking back through all of them to see what products have stood the test of time, which ones I'm still using, how many I've re-purchased and what I would genuinely recommend a year on - the result of which is an edit of twelve seriously fabulous finds I couldn't be without. They span all categories and were either new launches or new to me personally, so here is my 'best of the best' all in one place.
Want to know what I love most about the start of another new year? The opportunity to reflect back on what's passed, as well as looking forward and attempting to predict what's to come. The world of beauty is so fluid and fast paced that it can completely change within a few months; unlike fashion that's somewhat restricted by catwalk shows and seasons, the beauty industry can develop a new idea practically overnight and have it on the high street within a matter of weeks. Rather excitingly it's the smaller brands that have the flexibility to create and innovate according to demand, so the tide is somewhat changing in favour of affordable and niche names - and away from big brands who (in a lot of cases) really need to up their game. Partner that with the increase in digital destinations that are making it their mission to bring new and hotly awaited brands to UK shores, and it's a very exciting time for beauty enthusiasts. But what of the big trends, changes and new launches of 2017? What can we expect to see over the next twelve months and what innovations will become a firm fixture on our bathroom shelves? I've done the research so you don't have to, and these may just be the big trends in beauty that you won't be able to get enough of...
We're only a few days into January and already I'm fed up of all this 'New Year, New You!' bullcrap that's jamming up my telly and Twitter feed. Although the start of January can provide the perfect opportunity to give ourselves a jump start and get back into good habits after a few weeks of over-indulgence, it's never going to be the miracle answer to all your life dilemmas. I've never really been one for New Years Resolutions, mainly because January is the worst month of the year to start anything remotely taxing; it's cold, it's dark, we're all broke and there's more chocolate in the house than on the set of Willy Wonka. That doesn't exactly provide the perfect environment for starting on an expensive health kick or putting your willpower to the test. Instead of setting yourself up to fail by over promising on what you can realistically achieve, try smaller and more manageable goals that will make a difference to your life over time - and are far more likely to remain part of your routine than eating 500 calories a day or running five miles a week. If you need a helping hand, try some of my easy-to-integrate ideas and see what benefit they can bring in the months to come...
Oh Twenty-Sixteen. You certainly were a roller-coaster of a year, weren't you? Undoubtedly the last twelve months will go down as some of the worst in recent memory, and not only for the worryingly long list of celebrities that left us. (Anyone else think there's a rocking party going on in the heavens right now?) With Brexit and President-Elect Trump making waves across the globe, the repercussions of choices we've made will be felt for years to come; the world is somewhat of a scary place, with terror attacks becoming all the more frequent, while every day Twitter is awash with the breaking news of a new tragedy that will undoubtedly bring us to tears. It's easy to understand why practically everyone was counting down the days until it could all be over, to draw a metaphorical line in the sand and move on to bigger and better things, but is 2016 really deserving of the reputation history will inevitably give it? There are 365 days to reflect back on and I can guarantee that those that have positive memories far outweigh those crappy days we'd rather forget; giving the previous year such a hard time doesn't do anyone any favours - it just puts 2017 on a pedestal and sets us all up to fail before we've even begun.