The ASOS Beauty Sale

If you didn't get a stocking full of lipgloss or your tree wasn't being weighed down by bubble bath, then you may be interested in what ASOS have to offer this sale time. They've got some pretty ace bargains to be had, with some products starting from as little as one single quid. Here are some of my fave picks, but make sure you check everything out here.

Anatomicals - Make Mine a Skin and Tonic. Was £8.00. Now £3.00
In fact the whole of this range has been reduced so you can afford to test the lot. There's a minty fresh breath kit for £1.00 and even a mini hairdryer and hair product for £6.00. It's worth stocking up on these little sets as they'd also make great presents throughout the year.

Bare Minerals - Daily Duo Try Me Kit. Was £20.00. Now £13.00
I love Bare Minerals and I love their skincare products. This little kit is a great way of trying the cleanser and cream without forking out for the full price tag. The amazing overnight treatment (which I swear by) is also in the sale, so if you don't fancy paying the full price of £45 then grab that while you're at it too.

Rodial - Life and Style Rehab Kit. Was £60.00. Now £32.00
I adore the new Rodial 'lifestyle' range, launched for Christmas, as it smells and looks amazing. The bath balm is like a melting dream and the candles make your room smell fab. They're normally pretty pricey, but for the time being ASOS has got the entire range for pretty much half price. You won't regret this indulgence, I promise.

Neal's Yard - Aromatic Shower and Body Care Collection. Was £28.00. Now £16.00
This little set is perfect if you plan on lots of long weekend in 2012. The mini sizes of hand wash, shower gel, body lotion and body polish will have you looking tip top wherever you are. It's not only a great intro to Neal's Yard, but also a great way to expand your beauty regime and start the year off as you wish to go on.

There are loads of other goodies to be had, including reductions on nail polish from Essie and Lord & Berry lipsticks. Make sure you check it all out and try not to be tempted by those boots...


The LBQ Awards 2011 (haircare)

I've left haircare until last because this is the hardest category for me. I struggle with my hair as it's thin, coarse and curly - there's nothing good about it - which is why haircare has always been a passion of mine. I love trying new products and this is one area where I don't mind spending a small fortune on products, as long as they work. I love hair advertising campaigns (show me a picture of luscious locks and I'm hooked) and how brands have the power to completely convert you with one swish of a model's hair. Here are my picks of 2011 and some things I've fallen in love with. Let the LBQ Haircare Awards 2011 commence...

Best Hair Discovery - Redken, All Soft Shampoo
The problem with my hair is that it's really, really coarse. I have to spend ages styling it and putting endless amount of product in it before it resembles the soft, shiny hair I desire so much. This product made such a difference, even without a conditioner. The formula really works to soften dry and brittle hair, making styling much easier and a good look more attainable. You need such a small amount of this to make a difference that I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone with similar issues to me. An absolute staple and a product I'd continue to buy again and again.

Best Brand Re-Launch - KMS California
If you can't remember the 'old' KMS then it was a little bit like this... White, boring, dull, living in the 80's and confusing. I haven't seen such an amazing overhaul this whole year as I have with KMS. Just look at the bright colours, modern packaging, easy navigation and word play - it's had a complete injection of life! The range has been brought into the 21st Century and is one to now rival the TIGI's of this world. The imagery and campaign shots that coincided with this were also edgy, young, fashionable and representative of a desirable brand in 2011, putting it well and truly back on our radar. I can't wait to see what they have in store for us next year.

Best Campaign- Toni & Guy, Hair Meet Wardrobe
We all know that we match our hair to our wardrobe, so it was a genius move by the people at Toni & Guy to take this one step further and create a whole campaign around it. This isn't even the pro range, but the one available in Boots for around a fiver! The products had an overhaul, bringing them up to date with a colour coded system, and the campaign to match was all about relating hair to fashion. I love all the imagery and how they've made something so simple, so very effective. I'm totally bought into the whole range, the concept and the idyllic images of a bombshell sitting in a field, so I'll be like a meerkat as soon as I have a sniff of any new products on the horizon.

Best Styling Product - Schwarzkopf, Got2B Powderful
So many times I've been out and attempted to add volume into my hair using the 'upside down next to the hand dryer' method. It never works and I often end up with a tangled mess. A few of these 'volume powders' have been launched on the market during 2011, giving volume and texture in a matter of seconds when it's added to your roots. No other product is as cheap and effective as this though, coming in at around the £4.00 mark. It's not in the prettiest or most robust of packs, but it's the perfect size for popping in your bag and it doesn't matter too much if it gets covered in Mojito and lipgloss. Although there is a little residue left on the hair, it's not unmanageable and the volume created is more than enough to make it worth it.

That's it. My pick of the hair category for this year. What are you fave things to have come out of hairstyling in 2011?

The LBQ Awards 2011 (Fragrance)

It's no secret that I love a good scent and change my perfume on a daily basis. For me, your fragrance is another accessory that should be matched to the occasion, as well as your outfit. If there's one cardinal beauty related sin then it's having only one scent - even worse is when you never change that scent for something new! Here are my fragrance highlights of 2011 and which scents I'll be coveting for some time to come. Maybe you'll invest in one for 2012!

Best Fragrance Launch - Molton Brown, Navigations Through Scent
It made perfect sense for the brand famous for it's beautifully scented products to actually dip their own toes into the world of perfume. Their anticipated collection of six fragrances took us through a journey of unusual scents that really evoked emotions. No scent was the same and no scent was in any way 'traditional' - the strong, complex and almost unisex fragrances are utterly beautiful and captivating. The 'Iunu' scent is one of my favourites of the year, having a hint of ginger and lingering around all day long. I love it and take great pleasure in squirting it on of a morning.

Best Fragrance Brand - Jo Malone
Before this year I wasn't that familiar with the Jo Malone fragrance mantra or how they were designed to be layered. The whole concept behind the brand's fragrances is that you use them to create your own unique scent, highlighting specific notes or over-layering with complementary flavours. They're released some beautiful additions to the range this year, including Wild Bluebell and King William Pear for Christmas (which I wore throughout the festive season,) and have benefited from universal praise. If there's one place you can go for a unique and personalised scent then it's most definitely Jo Malone.

Campaign of the Year - Miss Dior, featuring Natalie Portman
I love everything about this campaign. The music, the casting, the makeup, the dress, the setting, the story... It makes me completely re-assess the brand and that's what advertising is all about. They picked an amazing person to be the face of the brand, completely utilising the fame that came with Natalie's staring role in Black Swan. Fragrance marketing at its best... Enjoy.

PR Stunt of the Year - DKNY Golden Delicious
If you've got a million dollars to throw around then you'd probably want to buy a boat or a swish crib, not fork out for a blinged up perfume bottle. Well someone had more money than sense when they dreamt up this stunning fragrance bottle in celebration of DKNY's newest scent - it includes 2,700 Round Brilliant White Diamonds, 183 Golden Yellow Sapphires, a 2.43 carat Flawless Vivid Yellow Canary Diamond and 14-karat white gold making up the Manhattan skyline that is so iconic to the DKNY brand. Wowzer. Crazy idea, but bloody good PR stunt. I just want to know what happened to it after?
(PS - I've just been told it's going to be sold with the proceeds going to Action Against Hunger. Brilliant work DKNY... I defo approve.)

Those are my top picks of fragrances this year. What's your iconic scent and what launches can't you wait for next year?


The Most Beautiful Women

If I were to ask you who the most beautiful women in the world were, what would your answer be? Are you a Sienna Miller/Mila Kunis type person? Or maybe I can tempt you with a sprinkle of TOWIE and a dash of Made In Chelsea? Superdrug recently conducted a survey of 3000 women in the UK and the person to come out on top was lady of the year herself, The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. (No surprise there then!) What's interesting though is that the top twenty beauty icons of 2011 not only include the usual pop stars and celebs that grace Heat Magazine on a weekly basis, but also a lot of more 'natural' and attainable beauties like Holly Willoughby, Emma Watson and Katherine Jenkins.

Kate and Pippa have taken the slot away from celebrities like Cheryl Cole and Kate Moss, illustrating we've grown out of fake hair and drugged-up-skin in favour of a good blow dry, a spray tan and a slick of black eyeliner. They're not revolutionary, but they're very beautiful in their own natural and understated way. Another interesting fact to mention is there's an overwhelming number of brunettes in the top ten, something that would've been very different a few years ago. Have we ditched the 'fun' blonde in favour of a more rich, classy and royal brown? Here is the list in its entirety... What do you think of it?

1. Kate Middleton
2. Pippa Middleton
3. Cheryl Cole
4. Rihanna
5. Holly Willoughby
6. Tulisa Contostavlos
7. Beyonce
8. Emma Watson
9. Katy Perry
10. Victoria Beckham
11. Kelly Rowland
12. Lady Gaga
13. Amy Childs
14. Katherine Jenkins
15. Nicole Scherzinger
16. Adele
17. Pixie Lott
18. Angelina Jolie
19. Keira Knightley
20. Scarlett Johannson

Read the full article here.

The LBQ Awards 2011 (Body/Skin)

It's only right that I take time to sit back and reflect on the products this year that have really helped to keep me in tip condition - even if only on the outside. There are so many body lotions, scrubs, tans, buffers, creams and serums it's sometimes hard to know what actually makes a real difference and is worth the pennies. Here are my top selections of 2011 in the body category... The LBQ Awards are about to be announced.

Best Body Moisturiser - Biotherm, Lait Corporel
It's easy to spend three quid on a moisturiser and be done with it, because they all do the same thing right? So I thought until I tried this beauty from Biotherm. I've always suffered with dry skin, especially on my upper arms and legs, but after using this for a few weeks I noticed a real difference in the texture and appearance of my limbs. I didn't even need to use a body brush because my skin had become so smooth and supple; even the lady who did my spray tan commented on my smooth knees! I probably won't continue to use this all year round, but it's a definite winner for the colder months.

Best Fake Tan - HeShi, Face + Body Tanning Gel
I've tried quite a few fake tans over the course of 2011 but there's one addition that stands out in my mind. HeShi's standard fake tan is pretty awesome, but it had a bit of a makeover this December in the form of a universal gel. The light gel is really easy to apply, dries quickly and leaves skin bronzed and streak free. It's unisex and universal, meaning you can literally use it for any fake tanning related tasks. There's no need to worry about having orange skin either, as the result is light and perfect for the winter months too. I love how I can literally bung this on haphazardly before bed and wake up to perfectly bronzed limbs.

Best Hand Cream - Rodial, Glam Balm Hand
Hand cream is an essential part of my beauty regime. Who wants to shake hands with crusty digits? I religiously apply hand cream throughout the day (especially in winter) so I always have a stash to hand - excuse the pun. A lot of creams are too runny, leave residue or don't actually moisturise the skin at all. One cream that was launched this year ticks every box and more - it's just the right consistency, absorbs fast, leaves no residue, saves dry hands and smells delicious. Using Rodial's famous Glam Balm technology, this is really something special. The only downside is that it may as well be gold plated; it's £39 a tube. We can dream right?

Best Face Wash/Scrub - Neutrogena, Visibly Clear Pink Grapefruit Scrub
It's so very important to regularly exfoliate the skin to rid it of any dead, dull cells. It's also vital that you look after your skin, cleaning it and removing dirt effectively on a daily basis. This product does both those things in one, with a delicate pink grapefruit scent. The light gel formula contains very slight grains to gently work away dead skin while cleansing, without stripping moisture. I actually enjoy using this because it does the job without leaving a tight feeling on my face - it also helps to eliminate blemishes, which is an added bonus at certain points of the month. This works just as well as any more premium product and should be on every shower shelf, regardless of the owners age!

I still have loads more favourites from 2011 to share with you, but what are your best finds of the year? 


The LBQ Awards 2011 (Makeup)

With so many different beauty products touching my person on a weekly basis, it's good to sit back and take stock of the real stand out launches of the year. The beauty industry thrives on newness - if it's not new we don't want to know. If it doesn't make our lashes 1000% longer, our hair super shiny and our complexion look photoshopped then we probably won't buy into it; not unless it's on offer anyway. But do these big claims really make a big difference, or should we be investing in some subtler and off the radar brands that actually do the job better? Well if you took me to a desert island (yes please) and I only had room for a few products to keep me looking beautiful, then these are the ones I'd choose. Welcome to the LBQ Awards 2011... First up, the best makeup products of the year.

Best Eye Makeup - MUA, Heaven and Earth palette
I should've known this would be a great product when the ladies started scrambling through goodie bags at the very first TOWIB to find one. A twelve eyeshadow palette featuring shimmery creams, molten browns and dark chocolates, this is a makeup bag staple for anyone with a passion for blending. The colours are so pigmented, complementary and wearable that it gives the famous Urban Decay Naked palette a run for its money. I've used this palette almost daily for the last six months and it's the one product I revert back to, whatever the occasion. At only £4.00 there's no excuse not to grab one either.

Best Face Makeup - Benefit, Cha Cha Tint
I was always a little bit intimidated by Benefit's Benetint, while Posietint was just a little too pink and sweet for my liking. When the iconic brand added another lip and cheek stain to their collection this year it was as though it was made for me. A subtle peachy colour, Cha Cha Tint adds a hint of colour to cheeks that brings out your natural flush. It's totally tran-seasonal, meaning one little pot will take you from Spring to Autumn and back again. The peach colour is easier to use than the other two, blending naturally with the skin and giving a beautiful glow to cheeks. I adore this so much that I let out a little sob when I came to the end of my pot.

Best Lip Product - Clinique, Chubby Sticks
Oh what did I do before Chubby Sticks? One of my most loved things in this world is a really good lipbalm, so whichever genius decided to mix lipblam with a bit of gloss, add in a dash of colour and make it look like a pencil deserves the pat on the back I'm about to give. These little sticks are pure joy; moisture, a hint of shine and a subtle slick of colour all in one self-sharpening nib. I don't have a single bad word to say against these, other than they need to be in more colours. They last for bloody ages, making them even better - an investment if you will. Any product that sells itself off the back of jelly is a winner in my book too.

The Lifesaver Product - HD Brows Palette
I've been growing out my eyebrows for nearly a year after they fell out and gave me a strange expression. The one product that has given me confidence again has to be the brow palette from HD Brows. It comes in a variety of shades, with each compact including four complementary colours to ensure you can mix your perfect one. The angled brush allows you to perfectly re-create brows or simply fill them in, while the chalky nature of the highly pigmented product keeps your arches in place all day long. I've tried many brow palettes over the year (including everything from MUA to Chanel) and this beats them all hands down.

These are my fave makeup products of 2011. Stay tuned for more faves in the hair, body and fragrance categories coming right up... What are your must haves of 2011?


Happy Christmas

Can you believe it's that time again? I'm not sure where the last 12 months have gone, but this is definitely Christmas time. While the majority of us are putting the finishing touches to our festive lunch or placing presents around the tree, some people out there may be feeling alone or unhappy. Christmas is a time when a lot of raw emotions come to the surface, but I want everyone to remember they're not alone... Here are a few helpful numbers if you just want to talk to someone or reach out for help. Don't feel like you have to suffer this Christmas - please use them or pass them on to someone you think may need them.

0300 123 3399

08457 90 90 90

Alcoholics Anonymous
0845 769 7555

Info line 08000 50 20 20

London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard
0207 837 7324

0845 767 8000

Preventing young suicide

For people in Northern Ireland
0808 808 8000

0800 1111


0808 2000 247

Eating Disorders Association
0845 634 1414

0808 800 4444

NHS Direct
0845 4647

No Panic
0808 808 0545



Giles: Wrapped Up

If you want more time to spend scoffing Quality Street and downing mulled wine this festive season, then you may be in need of some nail wraps. Fashion designer extrodinaire Giles Deacon has once again partnered with New Look, but this time to launch a range of beauty products. The nail wraps are one of many products, but come in the quirky designs and colours we've come to know and love from the designer. Strange animal-print-come-houndstooth and stripey-fuzzy-zigzag, these certainly aren't for the faint hearted.

The wraps are easy to apply - they have a sticky side so you can peel them from the sheet and apply straight to your nail, ensuring they fit and are positioned centrally so you can smooth out across the edges. Considering there's no glue or heat involved to get these to stay, the wraps do a pretty good job. I've got quite small hands so I only used the three smallest sizes, having to trim the edges of some to ensure they fit. It would be good to have more smaller nail shapes or a mixture to get more out of the sheet - I only got one full set of nails, which at £6.99 is quite pricey. The process isn't uber speedy, taking 15-20mins to fit a full set, but there's no polish drying time or smudging - always a bonus.

I do like the designs and the fact they're so easy to use. They stayed on my nails for a good few days without too much of a problem, coming loose after about day three. These are perfect for a special occasion or if you know you can't be bothered to faff around beautifying your nails, but maybe not an every day occurance. There are so many nail wraps out there now it's nice to see something a bit more glam and different. You do pay for the designer name, but hey ho, it's Christmas... treat yourself.

Available to buy from New Look exclusively priced £6.99.


Hello Kitty. Hello Liberty.

If there's one thing I thought I would never be singing the praise of it would be a product adorned with Hello Kitty. I'm not a fan of the random white cat and the millions of accessories that pop up all over the shop - I just don't get the fuss. (I'm also not 10.) There's a new collection by the kitten adorning the shelves of Boots this festive season and a selection of it arrived at my doorstep today. I'm eating my words because I bloody love it. The pattern and design of the collection is a blue, pink and purple Liberty print that will appeal to fans of HK young and old, but also people like me who would rather not publish their love for a small white cat. Here are some last minute stocking ideas from the collection...

Within the range is a cute hand wash and lotion set which comes with this little matching soap dish. The products come in large 175ml bottles that are plastic with a plastic wrap around them - handy for in the bathroom if, like me, soggy paper labels on hand wash bottles drive you crazy. The gold lettering on the bottles gives it a more mature touch so that you can get away with putting it in your own bathroom, although the soap dish looks a bit outdated and cheap in my opinion. Once you've bunged your soap in it though you can't see the design, so just pretend it's plain! This would make a great little gift and they're already sitting in my bathroom, brightening up the decor.

Another great product is this cute little Liberty print makeup bag with bow detail. It's a really great size and is again pretty subtle if you don't want to feel like a six year old. It's covered in a plastic film to protect it from water or products, making it perfect for popping in your bag or taking away at weekends. Even better is that inside you also get three products that also include the unique HK design and subtle gold logo - a mascara, lipgloss and deep blue eyeshadow. The mascara is pretty average (as you'd expect), the lipgloss a generic nude colour that has a sweet scent, while the eyeshadow is a universal dark shade with subtle shimmers. The eyeshadow comes in a card case and the lipgloss/mascara lids are simply wrapped in paper, so they're not the best quality. However, they would make a cute little pressie for a younger loved one who just wants a Hello Kitty lipgloss.

The highlight of the collection for me though is this cute eyeshadow palette. The pack itself is great quality, sturdy and detailed - there's even a little gold kitty design on the mirror inside. It contains eight great eyeshadow colours that are pretty standard, but great for anyone who just wants some basic colours to play with. The shades and pigments are very, very similar to an Urban Decay palette I've got that costs three times the amount, so this is a perfect stocking filler for any makeup junkie out there. To make the collection even better, you can still grab these all in Boots on a 3 for 2, so you could even get this little eyeshadow compact for yourself guilt free!

Hand wash and lotion kit RRP £10.00; Makeup pouch set RRP £16.00; Eyeshadow palette RRP £8.00. All available in Boots exclusively and currently available in their 3 for 2 Christmas gift offer.

Sparkles and Glitter

It's Christmas, so the inevitable sparkle makeup and accessories come out to play for one month only. I'm not a huge fan of sparkly nail polish as it's a bit of a bitch to get off, but this polish from Miss Sporty may just be my favourite ever. Considering it costs a measly £1.99 it's pretty damn awesome. It contains lots of different sized and colour glitters to create a fantastic sparkle effect that catches the light. The amount of glitter in the polish enables it to actually stick to your nail in one sweep, rather than having to play around trying to blob on bits and make it even. In one coat and one sweep of the brush it looked top notch. Merry Sparkle Christmas.

Available online and in Superdrug for £1.99


Halo Hair

My hair has been pretty short for a good few years now, having had it all cut off after that inevitable break-up. How cliched. Although I've grown it out a little longer in the summer so I can tie it up at festivals (who wants beer smelling hair dangling in their eyes?) it's at its longest point since about 2005. Having been in that awkward in-between stage for a good few weeks I started to consider taking the plunge into hair extensions, giving myself a bit of length, volume and styleability until it sorts itself out. Twitter recommended Halo hair extensions to me en mass, with blog posts and testimonials shooting at me from all directions. Click through I did and settled for a pair of their clip-in extensions which arrived at my door in a matter of days.

I went for a half head 20 inch set of clip-ins in chocolate brown, which comes with one 3 clip, one 2 clip and two 1 clip sections. Although the chocolate brown comes out much lighter in reality, the hair is great quality and feels completely natural once in. They're really easy to slot in between sections of your own hair and are thick enough to add lots of volume without being too heavy. Because the extensions are made of real hair you can straighten them, curl them and even dye them; I actually dyed mine a darker shade of brown to match my current colour and they dried perfectly without losing a strand of hair.

The single clips are the only real let down, as the clip is in the middle with a bit of the hair hanging over each of the ends. As there's nothing to hold this in place they're better hidden in the hair rather than placed on their own. Because of these little sections I actually went ahead and bought myself another half head of clip-ins (this time in darkest chocolate, which was a perfect colour match,) to oomph up my hair even more. By doubling up you don't even really need the single sections, so you've got a bonza head of hair that feels really secure and looks really natural. I love that you can style these so easily, curling them, wearing them up, washing and dying them without having to worry.

I've had so many complements since wearing these and have become a little bit addicted already. The 20 inch length is perfect for me, especially as I've been curling them or wearing them up. I did go a full day wearing them down this weekend and by about 11pm they were starting to ache, but not bad going seeing as I'd had them in for a good 12hrs. I would thoroughly recommend these for anyone wanting to add either volume or length to their hair, whether or not you've ever gone anywhere near a set of extensions or not. They're subtle, feel great and you can wear them like they're your very own hair - which is surely the point. What's even better is that you can get a half head starting at only £29.99 which is an absolute bargain.

Get Halo hair extensions here.
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