Ultimo U Sculpt: Boobs Minus

How many times a day do you hear a girl moaning about the size of her boobs? It's pretty much an everyday occurrence and something the cosmetic industry has made billions of pounds from. Be it the need for a bigger bust and more confidence, or a reduced cup size and the need for a strappy top, it seems as women we always pretty much want what we don't have. I have a pretty large pair of boobs myself, being an E cup on quite a short 'five foot something' frame, and it's always been a massive issue for me. I can't wear strapless tops or dresses without practically an engineering feat, couldn't go backless in a million years and shopping for swimwear is like searching for buried treasure. They don't make me miserable by any stretch, but I would love a little reduction and increased perkiness. Ultimo, the underwear company from Michelle Mone, have just launched their very own body range which helpfully contains a revolutionary product: Boobs Minus.

The launch of Boobs Minus (brilliant name) comes at a time when the average British women’s breast size is rapidly increasing – in the fifties the average cup size was a B, but now it’s risen to a C. In the past three years the number of Ds and above sold by M&S has doubled, accounting for a quarter of all bra sales. Us ladies seem to be getting bigger busted by the day, but short of a traumatic and often non-permenant breast reduction, there hasn't been a solution to our concerns... Until now. Boobs Minus contains firming ingredients such as Acai, CupuaƧu, and Maracuja to minimise the signs of ageing, as well as Wild Indigo, a herb which switches the cells that activate the breakdown of fat in the body. The cream also features Golden Chamomile, a type of anti-oxidant which helps inhibit the storage of fat and boosts breakdown of fat cells. It all sounds very impressive, but the question is does it actually work? Well ladies, I'm going to be putting it to the test.

Michelle Mone says: "We have been developing this for three years and spent £1million in order to get to our launch today. I wanted to put Boobs Minus to the test myself and have seen incredible results. I used it twice a day for just four weeks and I’m amazed to say I’ve dropped half a cup size already! I've spoken to many women in my career about their boobs and many have said they want to tone and firm them without going under the knife. I'm so pleased to give them another option with Boobs Minus and I'm sure other women will achieve great results as well. I always listen to the needs of my customers, and many women I have spoken to would love to reduce their bust size. A breast reduction is a major operation and I believe this is a great alternative."

The formula is a creamy gel-like concoction that's cooling on the skin, giving a little tingly feeling when applied. It's slightly sticky, but nothing that you can't put up with when applied overnight. I've used it a couple of times, but will be properly putting it to the test over the next 8-12 weeks to see what results I get. This is a really interesting and exciting product for me, so I'm intrigued to see if it actually delivers. I've tried boob firming and bust increasing lotions and potions before, none of which have made any difference to my cup size. Knowing this comes from the Bra Queen herself, Michelle Mone, only makes me believe that this little pot of cream can make a difference. Here's hoping it does!

U Sculpt Boobs Minus is £39.50 and available from the Ultimo website.

I have to admit I found this hard to maintain in the long term so only used the product in short 2 week bursts before going away or breaking the routine (you can't exactly take a boob firming serum away for the weekend and explain that at customs.) However, what I did notice was firmness and subtle perkiness returning to my boobs, the texture being better and overall feeling quite 'restored'. I wouldn't say the overall size of my breasts was reduced, but because they were firmer it felt like they were in better condition (if you can refer to your bazookas in that way.) If you have real issues with your breasts this isn't going to solve them, but if you're looking to perk them up a little and improve the appearance of them then this could definitely help. At £39.50 it's not a huge price to pay, but don't expect it to be the answers to your boob-prayers. 


Team GB glitter nails

Get your Olympic support on and adorn your nails with this limited edition 'red, white and blue' Team GB polish from Look Beauty. The silver glittery base is complimented by red and blue flecks, subtly showing your support for our home nation. The polish is super glittery and makes a good result after only one coat, catching the light to show off the colours. If you don't fancy full on Union Jack nail art, then this could be perfect to show your support without feeling like a cheesy tourist. If you're quick you can even get this free online when you buy two other products!

Cool Britannia limited edition polish available in Superdrug or online priced £5.00

L'Oreal Glam Shine Miss Candy

I'm so sweet I don't need sugar in my tea. Mainly because I've eaten so many Smarties the extra sugar will make me far too hyper. Right up my street is L'Oreal's sweet as candy collection, launched just in time for summer and appropriately named 'Miss Candy'. It's all about bringing some sugary sweetness and fun to makeup, rather than the usual citrus shades and OTT patterns we often see at this time of year. Within the collection is a range of lipglosses that will leave any sweetie fan happy and content - Glam Shine Miss Candy. These cute little pots of gloss are perfect for any sugar lover, but also those who are looking for nude pinks and subtle shimmers on their lips.

The lipglosses feature a unique 'technology' which places to complementary shades separate in the tubes, the brush mixing them as it's pulled out to create a unique depth of colour. No matter how much I tried I couldn't get the colours to come out in the slightest bit individually, so rest assured you won't end up with a much darker left side of your lip than right! The unique heart-shaped brush also helps to pick up a larger amount of gloss in its mini reservoir, meaning when applied to lips you get a generous amount to create the illusion of a fuller pout. The applicator is soft and a pleasure to use, fitting the contour of your lips perfectly and not overloading the lips with product.

The colours are all very wearable - even the most extreme shade is actually quite nude when applied to lips. A mixture of transparent colour and more metallic finishes, the range has something for everyone who loves a nude lip or subtle pink shimmer on lips. Because they're quite nude they're a nightmare to photograph, but there are subtle differences in all. My personal favourites are the beige bases as they help to create the illusion of a flawless pout without the need to cover your lips in a false shade. The gloss lasts quite some time too and isn't that sticky, so you can comfortably apply and be reassured you won't have to get the gloss out every five minutes. The Glam Shine lipglosses are one of my favourites, so this collection is a welcome addition to my makeup box.

Available now instore and online for around £7.69 each


New look Jergens moisturiser

Jergens moisturisers have had a little bit of a makeover. Gone are the soft touch tubes and the focus on natural ingredients, in come the more elegant and classic designs you see before you. If you can't remember what the old design looked like then take a look at a post I did a while back here, but suffice to say it's not an improvement. The 'new look' to me looks like it belongs in an Avon catalogue from 1994, rather than in my swish 2012 bathroom. I don't understand why they've gotten rid of the word 'Naturals' from their brand name, nor can I comprehend why they've taken a modern and pretty unique design and turned it into something old fashioned and generic.

The product itself appears to be the same inside though - delicately scented, rich and creamy, hydrating and quick drying. I've always been a big fan of these moisturisers, especially as they come in at about a fiver, but the new design really puts me off. I find them completely unappealing and a bit stuffy, completely not reflecting the great ingredients and different variants available. One of the big selling points for me was the simplicity of the product, so the complete change in an attempt to make it more elegant just doesn't wash. What do you think of the new look design?

Available in seven varieties for around £5.10 (although on offer most of the time!)


Galaxy Essential Upgrades #5: The statement nail

In my opinion an outfit is never complete unless you've done your nails. You could have the perfect 'up do' and be holding the most enviable piece of arm candy, but if your nails are a state then the illusion is ruined. I change my nail colour about three times a week, mostly going for bold colours and striking looks that still match the majority of outfits, but every so often I like to bring an extra something to the party... It's called my statement nail. Adorning every single nail with a complex design can be time consuming, laborious and too fussy; making a statement by using one nail on the hands to do all the talking can lift up a look and give the impression you're on-trend and effortless. My nail of choice is my ring finger on my left hand - it's easy to paint, it's the one that always gets seen and it's a finger I never wear a ring on. Perfect!

There are loads of simple things you can do to make a statement that take no time at all. You can paint it a complementary colour, leaving it plain and simple, use a glitter polish to bring a little 'wow' factor without too much bling, or you can create a little bit of nail art. My new favourite design to create is the 'crisscross' - you can create this cute effect using only three polishes and three steps. Firstly just paint all your nails with one statement colour. I've gone for a summery lemon, hoping it will encourage the sun to stay out as long as possible. Yellow is also girlie without being too Barbie, as well as being a shade that pretty much goes with everything. Once the main colour is dry to the touch, use another shade of a similar colour to draw a triangle from the lower third all the way up to the opposite side of the nail. Again, wait for this to dry to the touch (if you don't you'll end up with a gloopy mess) and then repeat with a contrasting colour on the other side.

Not only is the result a complementary coloured statement look, but the colours mixed together create a new shade in the middle of the nail which almost makes it look like tartan. You can do this with darker colours to create a different result, although make sure the shades are contrasting enough to make the design stand out, or even different combinations of light and dark. The whole process takes only a few minutes and it instantly upgrades your look. My other favourite thing to do is just to paint triangles on my nails using metallic or even textured polish - it's amazing to see the difference a little polish makes to the way you feel and how your outfit is brought together. A simple, yet effective upgrade!

This post is part of my Galaxy Essential Upgrades campaign. Read all about it in my intro post here or check out the Galaxy Facebook page. Why not check out the ASOS Galaxy Upgrades hub too?


Jo Malone Covent Garden

London is definitely the place to be right now, so if you're coming to visit my home city any time soon then make sure you pop to Covent Garden. Not only will you be able to check out the unique Chanel pop-up shop I've been shouting about, but just a stones throw away is an even more beautiful store from fragrance brand Jo Malone. The only boutique of its kind in the UK, this pretty huge base for the brand houses everything you could ever ask for and more. The stripey wallpaper, quintessentially British cupboards, branded rugs and black chandeliers make this a real destination experience that immerses you in the world of the Jo Malone London fragrance. You can even have a personalised fragrance experience, working through your favourite scents to find the perfect combination and learning the best way to layer. Layering fragrance is the unique attribute of Jo Malone London and a great way to create new combinations and difference scents - try layering a body lotion with a complementary top note, or spritzing two citrus fragrances together for extra zing! 

The Jo Malone London boutique is located on Kings Street, Covent Garden.


Chanel at Covent Garden: Pop-Up!

The epitome of luxury, Chanel is an iconic brand of huge proportions. The House of Chanel has changed and influence fashion in more ways than we can fathom, and their philosophy has every girl quivering at the touch of a classic 2.55 bag. Their makeup range is an extension of that philosophy and classic elegance, but with a touch of fun - we've loved the Shade Parade, we've adored the Harrods' celebration counter and now we can fall in lust with the new pop-up boutique in London's Covent Garden. Located just next to Laduree on the main Piazza, this beautifully modern-chic hideaway is everything a girl needs lust after and more. A celebration of colour, beauty and elegance, the temporary shop will remain in the heart of London until late December, giving everyone a chance to pop by and enjoy some Chanel fun.

Lit by natural light, the natural brickwork building is breathtakingly beautiful in every way. The simplicity of the walls, the striking black lines of the metal fixtures and the decorations matched to lip and nail shades... It's like being in a toy store for grown-ups. The boutique not only holds all the makeup available, but it also has a nail bar and makeup consultations available for a small fee (£20-25) which is redeemable against product. If you're a hardcore fan, this is the place to get all the new products and shades up to four weeks ahead of the High Street too.

The feeling you get walking around here is like being on a mini discovery. Every detail has been thought of and you'll inevitably keep spotting new things; artful shapes made from lipstick, the Shade Parade films playing in the wall fixtures, nail polishes hidden inside shelves... All adding up to a fantastic shopping experience. The black and white spiral staircase also takes you underneath Covent Garden into a hidden treasure chest of colour - the nail bar. This is where you can have your nails filed, shaped and polished in peace away from the hustle and bustle of the busy square above.

The iconic 'double Cs' feature throughout, updated to be subtly modern with pink, blue and yellow lighting that rotates in an extremely soothing way. I can't imagine a better way to have your nails painted than with a pair of Cs turning bright pink next to you! Often approaching premium makeup brands in department stores can be intimidating and uncomfortable, but everything about this store screams approachable and friendly. The staff are dressed down in Chanel jeans and trainers, there are doors front and back so it's easy to access and walk out without feeling pressured into buying, and there are definitely no pushy sales assistants!

Chanel want to make their makeup accessible to everyone, bringing a little luxury to every woman in a unique way. This fabulous new store means that every Chanel lover who aspires to have a piece of black and gold luxury for their own can have the same experience buying a nail varnish, that they can investing in a classic quilted bag. If you're planning on visiting Covent Garden over the summer then make sure this is a stop on your list; if you're not planning on a visit, then maybe this is the perfect excuse to buy that travelcard.

The Chanel pop-up boutique is open now until late December 2012. Open until 8pm weeknights.



Dr Lipp - nipple balm for lips

I've tried some random treatments in the name of blog research. I've given some bizarre products a whirl for the good of my readers. I'm used to stepping outside of the box, but even for me using nipple balm as a lip product is a step over the edge. Whoever discovered that Dr Lipp's original nipple cream was also a perfect hydrating treatment for lips was both a little strange and an absolute genius. Dr Lipp's original balm is 100% natural and made from the oils and waxes sheep naturally produce to protect their fleece. They're scientifically known to be the most similar to our own human skin oils and for centuries have helped to protect and soften our skin - so the science is telling me it's ok to use this on my pout!

Not only is the formula perfectly compatible with our skin, but it also acts as a barrier to prevent any moisture escaping or bacteria entering. It's so good for skin it's even medically recommended for people with eczema and helps heal burns, abrasions and minor incisions. The formula is really thick and waxy, comparible to Elizabeth Arden 8hr Cream, so you need a really little amount to apply to lips. It comes out of the tube quite like a pellet, so using your fingers to warm and applying in circular motions helps to dispurse it around the lip area. It is incredibly hydrating and comfortable, as well as being pretty long lasting. I also love the fact you can use it on dry patches of skin - it's perfect for elbows, cuticles or even sore noses after a cold. I may have been a cynic to start with, but I'm totally sold on nipple balm.... For everything but nipples.

Available online priced £11 for a 15ml tube



Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel

If you think of face peels you probably imagine some horrific acid-based concoction that leaves your face looking like a fried tomato, not dissimilar to the episode of SATC where Samantha ends up with more than she bargained for in chemical peel form. Well this face mask-slash-peel is the complete opposite. This enzyme peel from Elemis has won more awards than I can count on my hands, been named the best beauty product by more magazines than I can name, and has even been listed as a cult beauty purchase. Why oh why had I never tried it then? To celebrate the ten year anniversary of the product, Elemis have launched this limited edition tropical package which makes it almost a collectable - surely a reason to give it a whirl?

The exfoliating cream (that doesn't actually contain exfoliating granules) contains nourishing Milk Protein, Anti-Oxidant-rich Vitamin E and Marine algae to moisturise, repair and protect the skin, while the natural fruit enzyme action of Papaya and Pineapple smooth, brighten and clarify the complexion. The formula is a relatively thick cream that, thanks to the fruity ingredients, smells amazingly of papaya and pineapple. You apply to the face using a small amount and distribute (about a 50p size is perfect) across the skin, leaving for 10-15mins for it to work its magic. It doesn't leave you with a tightening feeling, or really any kind of feeling other than a slight coolness, so you can comfortably get on with your chores and wait for the clock to tick. The formula doesn't dry out either, so it's easy to remove with a flannel and warm water to reveal bright and radiant skin.

Normally I like to feel a big difference in my skin after using a treatment, liking the way a clay mask or deep treatment makes my skin feel revitalised. However, this doesn't really give much of a revitalised feeling to skin at all - my complexion did look and feel more radiant, but it was a very subtle difference. My skin was smooth and when I tested on my arm it definitely removed all my fake tan, so I know it's doing something! I think the ingredients make this a great weekly boost to skin rather than a treatment that targets problems or brings solutions. You don't get to be a cult product for no reason, so perhaps this is something you learn to love over time? Have you used this? What do you think?

The peel is available for £28.60 online for a 50ml tube.


Writing a CV: applying for social media jobs

I've been very fortunate to have benefited a lot from my blog in the two years that it's been established. One of the main differences it's made to my life is the ability to have joined my marketing and brand experience with my knowledge of social media. A little over a year ago I became a social media manager at a great agency, and now manage a team delivering social campaigns and community management for some great brands. I was recruiting for a new team member recently and received a lot of CVs and applications; the standard overall was so bad I asked if a post detailing the best way to approach a CV would be useful. The result was an outstanding yes, so here are my top tips for selling yourself and getting that job you really want.

You've got a lot of knowledge
If you're reading this blog then you're aware of social media. If you have a Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest account then you understand social media. You don't have to have a degree in a subject to have knowledge in it, so don't sell yourself short. The amount of CVs I've had recently applying for a job without even a sprinkle of social media content is, quite frankly, shocking. You wouldn't apply to be a lawyer without including some lawyer shizzle in your CV, so why on earth would you write a CV trying to enter the industry without even mentioning the words 'social media'. If you have a blog or active social media accounts then dedicate room to explaining what you do, how you use them and how you built up a following. If you don't have anything particularly active then at least be prepared to talk about what you love about social media and why you want to work in the industry.

Make your experience relevant
Not many people actually have experience working in social media because it's all so new, but you do have experience that could be relevant or has taught you skills to exploit. I interviewed an extremely enthusiastic young lady last week who had absolutely zero experience in social media, but she was upfront and explained that. What she did do impeccably well though was to use her time working in a phone shop to talk about how she's focused on building relationships, listening to customers, forging communities and using rewards - all of which for the basis of social media as we know it. Think about how what you've been involved in before and how it could be related to the online world.

Sell yourself properly
Imagine yourself in your potential employer's shoes and imagine what you'd like to hear. There's no point telling them about how 'social media is the way forward' and how it's 'something I feel like I should be part of' because that won't wash. Write a cracking personal statement at the start of your CV which outlines what you're like as a person, what positive things colleagues and classmates have to say about you and what you'd bring to the workplace. Be it a passion for writing, a thirst for knowledge, the need for perfection or being great at working in a team... We all have unique things that make us more employable. 

Make a good impression
Do not, under any circumstances, email a CV without either including a cover letter or a pretty darn good email to accompany it. Don't just send an email saying 'please find attached my CV', or worse just email it with no text at all - it just says that you're lazy, aren't really interested in the job and can't be bothered to tailor an email. Nine times out of ten, unless you've got a cracking CV, your application is going straight in the trash basket.  Explain who you are, what you're applying for and give a topline overview of the content in your CV - give details of what you've done, why you'd be good in the job and most importantly what you have to offer.

Do your research
If you want to work in the industry then ensure you know what you're talking about. Research some well known brands, look at their Facebook pages and analyse how they use social media. Be prepared to give good and bad examples, talk about who you admire and provide commentary on recent campaigns. So many times when I've asked candidates to provide an example of something and they've talked about their mate or the most obvious thing they can think of... It's painful. Being prepared goes a long, long, way.

Remember the purpose of a CV 
It's not just to list the jobs you've had (because nobody really cares you've worked in Pizza Hut,) but to sell yourself and your experience. If you're a recent graduate start with the most relevant pieces of work you've done, projects you've worked on, placements or internships that you've undertaken; employers will be more impressed with that than the fact you've done a summer working in Waitrose and served up some roasts in The Queen Vic. It's not supposed to be a list, so make it worth reading... It's the one opportunity you have, so don't waste it.

If you want to ask any questions then I'm more than happy to answer them in the comments below. What are your top tips or biggest fears about writing a CV or applying for a job?

Abi O: Beaubronz Self Tan

I use a lot of fake tans, spray tans, bronzers and general 'colour enhancing' products to combat my paler than pale skin. Although in the winter I fully embrace my English Rose complexion, come summer it doesn't quite look right when put next to a white sundress. Beaubronz is the brainchild of Abi O, the favourite tan artist of many celebrities, who is also a specialist in natural skincare. Over 100,000 people have been spray tanned with her formula, but until now it's remained somewhat of an industry secret. With the promise of the self tan being perfect for paler complexions, as well as being paraben free and containing certified organic ingredients, I gave it a whirl. The range includes exfoliators, washes and gradual tans too, but I've been using the hero product: Soft Sun Self Tan.

The great thing first up about that range is that all the products come in 50ml sizes so you can try before you invest in a bigger bottle that may not be right for you. The little bottles also make it so easy to top-up when away for the weekend or on holiday - who wants to use precious hand luggage space on fake tan? The formula itself is a mix between a gel and a cream, having a hint of colour to give a guide when applying to skin; it blends in easily, drying fast and giving a super smooth result. Although initially I thought this wouldn't provide enough difference in colour for me, when it develops it leaves a really natural result and sunkissed shade that's perfect for paler complexions.

After using this a few times my skin was really soft and smooth, complimented by a natural colour result. It wasn't sticky or difficult to use, nor did it make me smell like biscuits... The scent of wild roses is infused into the formula so you actually smell a little of turkish delight (mmmmm.) Sometimes the removal of the 'nasty' ingredients can leave a product that under-performs, but this fake tan more than satisfied my need for colour and length of result. Although this wouldn't be my go-to brand of choice for a hardcore tan or real deep bronzed look, this is perfect for testing the water, out-of-season tanning and those of you a little scared of the bottle.

Available online priced £8.00 for a 50ml bottle.


Dirt and Glitter

It's about time bath time became a bit more fun. I'm a little bit over classically great bath treats and ready for some innovative 'rough around the edges' products to put a smile on my face. When I got an email telling me about a new company producing handmade bath and beauty cosmetics I expected something ordinary, a bit rustic and totally boring. What I actually discovered was an awesome mix of unique, funny, quirky and bloody brilliant bath time beauties that I instantly shared with all my mates. These would make awesome gifts or a simple treat for yourself - I totally need the Army Man soap (who doesn't want a toy reward at the end of a good lather) and the bitchin' gold leaf bars. Never has soap been so sexy.

Prices start around £3.99. Check out their website here: www.dirtandglitter.co.uk
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