Hit the spot.

It's time to detox. For some reason in the last month or so I've suffered from huge breakouts of spots which are making me feel like an ugly teenager. Now I managed to get away with feeling like this when I actually WAS a teenager, so this is purely not acceptable skin! (To be honest I've whittled it down to a change in my pill so it's not even like I have any control over it, sadface.)

So, how do you deal with a breakout when you're over the age of 18? The first thing you don't do is go back to the products you used to use when it was fashionable to wear white slouchy socks over black tights. These are made specially for young skin which contains a lot of grease - you need extra powerful ingredients in your teenage years, but your delicate older skin just can't handle this anymore. All you'd get is dry, dull skin and probably smell of TCP.

The most important thing to do is the age-old answer of cleanse, tone and moisturise. Face wipes are fab and all and perfect for when you stumble through the door at 3am and can't be bothered to take off your slap, but they really shouldn't be used every day as they'll leave you with little dry patches (because of the strong chemicals used) and won't actually get rid of the stuff you can't see. These should be resigned to festivals and drunken days only. Get yourself a good cleanser and toner that isn't full of fragrance and artificial chemicals that will only aggrevate your skin further... you don't need to spend a lot of money so something like Simple, Garnier or L'Oreal is fine. Make sure you're using these every night to really get rid of the gunk in your skin - you'll be amazed how much dirt and grime actually comes off... ewww!

You should also be using an oil-free moisturiser before you go to bed, and if you can the morning too. I've been using Biore Shine Control Moisturiser which comes in a cute pump-action pot. This is light enough not to clog up your pores, oil free so you won't look greasy, smells fab and can be worn under make-up easily. It's easy not to moisturise if you feel spotty, but you shouldn't be neglecting other areas of your face - you just have to be careful with the type of cream.

I've been trying Garnier's Pure Active Roll On as something to directly hit my spots with. It's really pleasant to apply as you get an instant cooling sensation, plus it doesn't completely dry out the surrounding areas like some tea tree sticks do. It helps to reduce the swelling and I really do think it's improving the appearance of my ugly red bumps. Tea tree is said to be great for spots, but I fully believe if you're over the age of 18 it's jut too harsh... I've ended up with a massive dry area which looks worse than the spot did!

Another top tip is to make sure you use a clay-based face mask at least once a week. Many face masks claim to do everything but clean your dishes, but most of these are just marketing claims rather than scientific ones. Stay away from Montagne Jeunesse - the pretty packs you see everywhere! These are fine if you're using a mask just for a bit of fun or pampering, but they have hardly any beneficial ingredients so all they're going to do is tighten your skin temporarily. Clay-based masks are the way to go as the clay ingredient will actually draw out impurities and leave you with extra spangly skin pronto. When I put one of these on my mate this weekend she was amazed at how much her spot practically disappeared after 3 minutes! My fave at the moment is a Boots own brand Cucumber 3-minute Clay Mask - cheap, smells and feels fresh, plus it really does the job.

With these tips you should be back to your fresh-faced normality pronto!


Blissfully Beautiful

If you were going to a desert island for week and were only allowed to take one item of make up what would it be? What would you take to make sure you kept feeling and looking beautiful? Mine would HAVE to be Blistex Tint & Shine lip balm (provided I'd tinted my eyelashes beforehand obviously!).

I never leave the house without this stuff. I can't recommend this product highly enough - I love it so much I buy it in bulk from Boots so I never run out. In fact, all of my friend's that have asked me how I get my lips looking so naturally soft and sexy without lipstick, have gone out and bought this product immediately and have never looked back!

It's also a bargain at a couple of quid and really gives you that pout with a hint of colour without looking like you're trying too hard. Think low maintenance sexy and you've got the right idea. Not only does it soothe dry lips it is a particularly great colour for those of us with the pale skin. Try it and I promise you'll never wear anything else for the office.


MaxFactor Marvel

Ok, so you look like a ghost in the morning and need something to give you a bit of colour whilst covering up those pesky under eye circles. If, like me, you have blueish undertones in your skin (take a look at the inside of your wrist - can you see blue veins?) I recommend Pan Stik from MaxFactor. I found this wonderful, cheap foundation recommended to me by a Burlesque girl I know who never uses anything else for her shows.

As I am quite pale, I mix the 'Fair' and the 'Nouveau Beige' Pan Stik on the back of my hand first and then with my fingertips apply it under my eyes, around the corners of my nose, on my chin (where I have a few reddish blemishes) and anywhere else that needs a more streamlined look. If you are paler, you could just use the 'Fair' colour. You can add as much or as little as you like depending on the time of day and the occassion. For the day, I usually put as a little as possible on as I like my skin to breathe but at night I go the full hog for coverage.

As I have mixed both products it gives me the coverage but with a little colour. You want an even skin tone -not the chalky white look that so often happens with many products. I have yet to find any foundation that feels so good on and gives a completely flawless look. As Pan Stik is so creamy, it's easy to apply and melts into your skin seamlessly. Let your moisturiser sink in first though before you apply it. You can buy Pan Stik from any good retailers such as Boots or Superdrug. Not only does it come in a purse sized stick, it's a snip at six quid too!



Package Holiday

We're all at it at the moment... planning holidays that is. A little bit of sun and we can't wait to get away to the Costa Del Sol (or Bournemouth beach) for a mini break. While perusing Lush again (!) I came across this Limited Edition beauty perfect for mini-breaks, trips away or just for a pampering sesh ahead of a trip to Skeggy. Their ingeniously titled 'All-Inclusive Package' contains six amazing products to pamper and preen yourself, all for the bargainous cost of £10. That's right, ten quid!

In your nifty package you'll find a little bit of everything...

Buffy - Moisturising bottom buffer.
Stepping Stone - The zesty lemongrass foot scrub.
Fair Trade Foot Lotion - Cooling foot lotion.
Ultralight - Light and moisturising sunscreen.
Glorious Mud - Muddy body mask.
Token to the Forest Gods - Refreshing citrus fizzer.

The mud body mask is amazing and was a welcome boost after overdoing it this weekend. I always love a fizzer and I can't wait to try Buffy and see if I'll have a lush bum to match my Lovely Jubblies from a couple of weeks ago! Get down to your local Lush store pronto though, these are very limited edition!


Just for the taste of it...

The latest in a long line of Diet Coke collaborations now includes a bit of a random one with Nails Inc. Normally you get a flimsy bag or a rubbish bit of tat, but right now you lucky things can grab yourself a free nail varnish worth £10.50! All you have to do it buy two bottles in any Boots store (so that's about £3.00) and you can bag yourself a little treat. With four shades to choose from, including hot pink, red, purple and a brown colour, there's something for everyone.

I managed to get my hands on the neutral brown, which isn't far from the must-have Chanel shade which has been adorning the talons of the celeb world. True to Nails Inc quality, the polish is a fab colour, easy to apply and you only actually need one coat. All this, plus a Diet Coke break? Bonza.


Summer Shine

For those of the fairer complexion, gradual self tanners are a god send at this time of year. I am no exception, as when I try and tan naturally I resemble your typical Brit on holiday. Red-faced and bacon like. Not a good look. And let's be honest, the sun in large doses is never good for your skin unless you fancy looking like a wrinkly old boot when you hit your fifties.

This is precisely the reason why I have tried many self tanners in the quest to find the best of the best at a reasonable price. Disregarding the more expensive stuff, which I shall write about later, so far I have found that Dove's Summer Glow is a pretty good buy if you lean towards the paler side of skin tone spectrum.

It comes in two shades - the fair/medium and medium/dark. Having had a slew of tanning disasters, I decided to try the fairer shade to guard against any inevitable mishaps. (You must ALWAYS exfoliate thoroughly first. I cannot stress this enough. If you don't, you risk looking like streaky uncooked bacon.) Once you have successfully applied a good even base coat, you can usually skip the exfoliation each time you re-apply it - unless you leave it a week and want to start from scratch again.

The smell of the cream itself isn't too bad considering the harsh biscuit tin aroma of most false tans and it's pretty easy to apply evenly all over your body. It's also packed full of Dove moisturiser which can only mean silky soft skin!

You should wait around fifteen minutes until the lotion is absorbed before dressing, but overall it gave me a pleasing result. This product is great for anyone wanting a subtle sandy glow without going the full nine yards of committing to an all over fake tan. Just remember to wash your hands afterwards!!



Lazy Sun-Days

In the words of texas... "here comes the Summer sun!" We may actually be in the midst of a Summer season... this is what it looks and feels like girls, I know we haven't experienced it for a while. Now, before we all rush out for our picnics and lazy days soaking up some rays (ooh that rhymed!) it's too easy to forget to slap on some suncream. As a pale-skinned lady I'm more prone than most to ending up like a burnt sausage and I'm the most guilty when it comes to actually applying some cream.

It's also really important to understand what all the numbers, letters and all mean - it's like a science lesson when you pick up a bottle in Boots. The SPF number (or sun protection factor) basically means this is how long you can stay in the sun until the lotion becomes ineffective - so basically, if you wear SPF15 you can stay in the sun for 15mins until you need to re-apply. If you wear a SPF50, it's 50mins. It doesn't mean that you're covered but you may get a little bit of a tan if you wear a lower SPF factor! It's so essential that you keep topping yourself up - just because you wear it in the morning doesn't mean it'll still work 4hrs later. This is why you burn!! It's worrying how many people still don't really understand how these creams work - so please, please take the time to read up on it before you end up causing yourself harm.

If, like me, you're lazy and can't be bothered with the faff of re-applying lotion all day long then P20 is a god-send. This sun cream is effective all day long - you apply it once in the morning, wait 30mins for it to soak in a start being effective, then hey presto you're ready to rock and roll. Sun protection that lasts all day long, soaks in so you don't notice it, minimal smell (so you don't end up stinking like a Pina Colada) and you only need a small amount. This is quite pricey compared to other lotions, but it's much better value for money and a much safer option if you're not sure what you're doing. So ladies, get out and pick some up before you get over-excited this weekend!

Get The Look

Something a little bit different for the weekend... when on Superdrug's website this morning I noticed they'd collaborated with Look magazine (I have to admit, my personal fave) to bring customers tips on how to look their best using a range of beauty products stocked in their stores.

This completely unbiased report is written by the girls from Look magazine - and if you fancy trying nay of the products they're just a click away! You even have the chance of winning the lot. I know what I'll be following over the next few weeks : )

See it here: http://www.superdrug.com/Get-The-Look-Featured-Products-and-to-win/page/get-the-look


Ring a Ring o' Roses

There's a new girl in town and she's called Andrea Garland. Her beautiful range of body products has just launched on asos.com and includes everything from soaps to scrubs to body balms and much more besides. The whole range is natural, organic and ethical - plus it's just beautiful. The body balm tins are all one-off designs, meaning you'll never get the same as someone else - these are a real treat and perfect for a special birthday pressie. I've already ordered myself some soap and scrub... I can't wait for the postie!


Top Slap?

Much hype has surrounded the launch of Topshop's make-up range. Us industry insiders have known about it for at least a year and some have been quaking in their boots, knowing that everything Sir Phillip Green touches turns to gold. I was so looking forward to checking out this anticipated range, especially as it's recieved so much coverage in the media already. Our favourite high street chain launching their own slap? It must be top, no?

Well, ladies I have a mixed review for you. The range itself is very striking (and very Topshop) with predominantly white packaging and with some funky patterns to boot. It would defo look great in your make-up bag and you certainly wouldn't be ashamed flashing this lot around down the pub on a Friday night. It's very contemporary, on-trend and different from any other cosmetic brand I've seen of late - but then we wouldn't expect anything less from the holy grail of clothes.

However, and this is a big however, I don't feel that the actual product lives up to the hype. Although the range I saw in Westfield was extensive and contained very on-trend, vibrant colours (in the nail varnish and eye products in particular) the rest of the range left a lot to be desired. The eyeshadow was grainy, didn't leave a very good pay-off (technical term for the intensity of colour on the skin!) and I could imagine scraping half my eye off in the process. The blushers were so bright and greasy they wouldn't look out of place on a circus clown... I wouldn't chuck away my Bourjois or Mac for this! There were some nice colours in the lip ranges and they seemed to be of better quality, although nothing spectacular, so this would be a safe bet. I havent tried the mascara, but knowing that you can get some incredible technology for under a tenner from some well established brands, I wouldn't bet your pennies on it.

I don't normally like giving negative reviews as this isn't what I'm about. However, knowing that so many people will rush out and buy this purely because it has a 'Topshop' label, I feel it's my duty as a beauty queen to give you lasses the honest truth! If you fancy trying a bit of the stuff I'd recommend the nail enamel or the lipgloss - fail safe products that you can't really go wrong with. But overall I think there are much better products out there that are much better value for money, while offering great results. My final word on the matter... don't believe everything Toppers tells you!

Flake Away!

The sun's out, (some of the time) and it's mating season. This can only mean the layers are coming off and the legs are coming out! As a pale skinned redhead I dread this time of year as it means I have to up my beauty routine ten fold to keep up with everybody else. One thing I always stock up on is a good exfoliator to scrape away my scales and prep my skin for the dreaded tanning regime of summer.

Something I always buy in bulk is 'Flake Away' exfoliator from Soap and Glory. It's great value at £6.50 for a big tub and you don't need much of it for it to really work. Not only does it come in a pretty pink tub, but also smells delicious as it's made from Sea Salt, Grapeseed, Almond Oils, Shea Butter, Sugar and Peach Seed Powder. Mmmmm.

Putting a handful of it on for the first time and massaging it in, it really feels like it getting rid of all the horrible dead skin that has a habit of sticking around for most of winter. It's pretty grainy but after washing it off and drying myself thoroughly, it feels like I am wearing a new suit of magic soft skin. It was SO soft, my fella (without a prompt!) even noticed a difference - and he never even notices when I've had my hair cut!
This is a product I always use before applying my tinted body lotion and so far, I haven't found anything that comes close to even replicating the silky soft feeling I get afterwards. You can buy this from any Boots store and it's a great idea if you want something quite heavy duty to get rid of all your lumps and bumps!



Blushing Beauty

Unless you're a Burlesque girl, nobody I know wants to look like a painted lady. Unfortunately, those with ivory skin like me have a few problems finding the right blusher. No more! After spending a small fortune I must admit MAC have come up trumps for me. I will now never go anywhere else.

Not only does the blusher come in the sleek black pots, they're also refillable - so you can help the planet while looking fab! They say variety is the spice of life and MAC certainly seem to live by this mantra. Anyone that's ever been into MAC knows how many shades and finishes each blusher comes in, which can be daunting to someone who's trying to find something that perfectly compliments their skin tone. If in doubt, always ask. If you're like me and have white skin and red or strawberry blonde hair, generally you should be looking for peachy coral shades and dusky pinks.

Two of my favourites are Fleur Power, with a satin finish, and Gentle, a powder mineral blush with a pearly shimmer which you can layer on to enhance those cheekbones! The latter is my favourite as everyone I know tells me I look radiant when I wear it! Fleur Power is a great general everyday blush when keeping your makeup minimal. MAC Blush is pretty pricey at £16.50 per pot but they're a great investment as the colours are amazing and they last forever! Just make sure you invest in a large blusher brush to get the most out of your product and ensure you apply evenly across your cheekbones.



Shaving's a breeze...

Shaving your legs has to be one of those monotonous tasks up there with cleaning your toilet and sorting out your knicker drawer... you know it has to be done, you know it'll be so much better when you finish, but there are much more exciting tasks that you could fill your time with. It's the same with razor shopping... you know you should really spend time comparing and contrasting the 30 different types on the shelf to get the right one for you (do I need a throw-away or a proper one, an extra smooth one, one with added bits around the blade, something that vibrates, something that does a little dance?) but you inevitably pick the same one up time and time again. For me it's been the blue Venus razor - the reliable, know-where-you-are-and-what-it-does, safe option.

So this weekend I was a little more spontaneous. There was a promotional area in Boots where a lot of the Gillette razors were half price - I was like a kid in a candy store, spoilt for choice. I settled for the Gillette Venus Spa Breeze razor, which is a bit of a mouthful but it looked pretty. Not only does this cute pink razor come with two razor heads (I checked the rest and most only come with one... what can I say, I'm a cheapskate!) but it has an added gel bar with green tea fragrance, so there's no need for shaving gel. Hooorah!

I'm rubbish when it comes to shaving gel. I end up getting it everywhere but on my legs, and put so much on that I can't even see where I'm supposed to be shaving. I always end up lathering up some shower gel and killing two birds with one stone... but this morning routine is now over! This lovely razor applies the gel before the razor touches your skin, leaving you with super smooth legs in half the time. I was worried it would go a bit gloopy and stick itself to my bathroom tiles, but so far I've been pleasantly suprised. Now I've got no excuse for stubby legs! And neither do you....


Tropical Kiss

A very good friend of mine suffers from some beastly coldsores in Summer so she has to wear sun screen on her lips to try and prevent them. That usually means she spends the whole summer walking around with a slightly white tint on her lips, not unlike Freddie Flintoff and not the most attractive look. While she was in Boots yesterday buying some sun cream (which admittedly may be a little bit optimistic based on the current weather,) she stumbled across a Hawaiian Tropic lip gloss with SPF 25 and a berry flavour to boot!

So excited she was by this find she was quick to let me know so I could share her discovery with you good people. Aloha Kiss, as it likes to be known officially, is a "delicious indulgence with juicy, moisturizing flavors that protect while they soften lips! Not only will you help protect your lips with SPF 20, but you will also keep them soft with the Aloe Vera, Cocoa Butter and Vitamins A, C & E enriched formulas."

Too good to be true you say? Well according to my bum chum it's actually a really nice lip gloss, a good moisturiser, non-sticky and it tastes amazing! Although that may end up being a problem as you may have to keep re-applying and end up going through one of these a week. You have a choice of the lipgloss in Island Berry, but also a tropical or vanilla lip balm which I'm sure is just as good. This is the perfect product for festival time or holidays (because come on, face it, we don't get hot days that often,) so make sure you bag one now in preparation of the days ahead.


A Beauty Flash

Having an actor boyfriend who is even more vain than I am has it's perks. He spends a fortune in Clarins (the women's section I might add!) and when he comes home he palms off all of the free samples of the products he buys to your's truly. A couple of months ago, sifting through a bag of goodies, I came across one of the Clarin's Best Sellers. The 'Beauty Flash Balm' claims to brighten and tighten the skin. Early morning's are not my forte so I was hoping for something that would make me look a little more sprightly for the day.
I was pleasantly suprised by this product. You are advised to layer it on like a mask and leave it on for 10- 15 minutes without rubbing it in then wash it off or, if you have very dry skin, you can apply it as a cream after your regular moisturiser. I now tend to use it as a base, rubbing it in, waiting for five minutes then applying my makeup. This is one of those rare product's that actually work and really makes a difference to the look of your face. Not only does it feel creamy and soothing, it also made my complexion look a lot more even. The cream itself feels really wholesome and gives a nice matte finish to your skin too.

Suffice to say, my boyfriend swears by it and uses it without fail before he goes to a casting. It's not cheap at 18-26 quid for 50ml, but it's well worth the buy if you're going somewhere fancy in the daytime and want the occasional 'pick me up'. Five stars!



Something for the weekend?

Happy Friday everybody... I hope you’re all looking forward to a weekend of fun activities that aren’t too dependant on the rubbish British weather – you would think we were in October and not May!

Thank you all so much for your support of London Beauty Queen in the last few weeks. I’m astounded by the support and positive feedback I’ve had so far and can’t wait to keep hooking you up with delicious treats and fabulous products.

In celebration of our rapid growth I have an exciting announcement to make... London Beauty Queen has recently coronated a new member of the empire and I am extremely pleased to announce the arrival of London Beauty Princess! You know what they say: two heads are better than one.

LBP (as I like to call her) will be joining us as a specialist in all things suited to the pale complexion and aims to bring you top tips and news on everything that’s perfect for those of you who just can’t walk into a shop and pick up everything as easily as the rest of us. As a beautiful redhead she feels your pain – I know many of you out there suffer with problems relating to your colouring. She’ll still be reporting on the innovative and exciting beauty products she finds too, so we’ll have lots more news to share with you : )

As always, if you have any specific questions to either of us please let us know through our facebook group or profile... we aim to please! Watch out for LBP’s first post, coming to a blog near you soon...

Lots of love

London Beauty Queen xx


Time for a change?

It being election day and all there's so much talk of change and moving things forward for the future... but if you want a break from politics but still fancy a change, why not try a new shade of hair colour? That's much more reliable than any of the party leaders.

I'm always changing the colour of my 'do' and adding a hint of 'something something' - it's amazing how much difference a tint of colour or something slightly different makes to your whole head... good lord I sound like a certain hair company's advert! If, like me, you're so impatient when it comes to waiting for the 30min developing time to be over (ever tried counting your sock drawer or attempting to watch Eastenders with one eye because the other one stings?) L'Oreal Excell 10 is the perfect solution.

I love this hair colourant. It comes with a brush applicator so you literally just comb it through your locks, rather than slapping it all over your head and turning your bathroom into a coordinating colour in the process. It literally takes 10mins to develop into a thoroughly intense, shiny and lush smelling colour - skimping on time doesn't mean skimping on result! The conditioner comes in a decent size too which lasts a good couple of washes and leaves your hair silky, shiny, refreshed and healthy looking so it not only looks great, but feels great too.

There are many cheap alternatives and impersonations (and I've tried most of them) but I believe paying a little more here does get you a much better result. I've had loads of complements on my new cherry colour - with some people even asking which salon 'did' me! So cast your vote ladies... mines with the Excell 10 party.


The Grass is Greener

You all know how much I love Lush (I go on about it enough) so you can imagine my excitement when I received a package from the lovely ladies in their PR team! What a lovely way to start the Bank Holiday : ) I was delighted to open the package and find a bottle of their newest shower gel, simply entitled 'Grass'. Now, I was hesitant to lather myself up with something named after the green stuff for fear of smelling like a gardener who's been out on the job for too long... but if Lush make it, I try it. And boy is this stuff good!

The fragrance is simple and uplifting and really does smell like freshly mown grass. It also contains wheatgrass (and we know that's good for you, so at least this way you don't have to hold your nose and down a shot!) and citrus oils to create a lovely fresh sensation which is a perfect morning pick-me-up. I don't know if it was a coincidence, but this morning was the first time in ages I haven't drifted off on the tube and abruptly woken up after nearly dribbling on some poor soul's shoulder. I stayed awake and 'with it' for the entire journey and even got through a good few chapters of my book! It may have been all in my mind, but I like to think it was the Grass. And I mean the good stuff, not the dodgy stuff... ahem.

As always the gel really lathers well, which for me is so important as I don't really feel clean without a good amount of bubbles (and very rare in such a 'natural' product as it's normally the chemicals which cause the lathering effect,) so it ticks all my boxes. So in the words of Lush themselves... Keep on the Grass.


Sore Subject

My lips hurt... owwww. Another one of my sensitivities affects my lips and they can swell up so much I look like Lesley Ash on a bad day. The fallout of this is the fact that when the swelling finally goes down I'm left with very sore, very dry and chapped lips which look u.g.l.y. I've tried a million and one different products to help ease the pain and uncomfort and most of them make the situation worse... they either just create a superficial film which coats your lips and prevents anything getting in or out (but what good is that?!) or they moisturise for about 2mins and then you need to slap on some more.

The best thing I've ever used has to be Blistex Relief Cream. This intensive moisturiser has a slight tingling sensation when applied, but that's just the goodness getting to work! It slightly numbs your lips too, giving real relief to intensely sore, dry, chapped or cracked lips and will eventually leave them soft and lush again. It comes in a little metal tube so if you squeeze too hard it does go all over the place - you have been warned! - so be careful. I'm a fan of the whole Blistex range as it has something for every eventuality, whether you just want a light lip balm or moisturiser through to intense relief solutions and tinted sticks. The products are so reasonable too that you can afford to grab one of everything and not feel too guilty! Now, just to find someone to kiss...
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