Kelly Brook for New Look makeup

Who would have thought when the busty brunette from The Big Breakfast started out, that her awkward presenting skills would be replaced with an acute business woman and brand? I have a lot of respect for Kelly Brook, mainly because she identifies opportunities and grasps them with both hands while not compromising on her credibility. She puts her name to a lot of stuff, but never have I thought 'that's a bit odd' or questioned her decision making. Kelly Brook has been an ambassador and partner of New Look for some years, launching swimwear, knickers, a clothing line and now even her own range of makeup. She's not threatening, she's naturally beautiful and her curves have men and women lusting alike - basically young girls could have worse role models! When Kelly's new range of makeup landed on my doorstep it instantly seemed in-keeping with her pin-up, 1950s inspired look; it's all black and white, spots, a bit of glamour and cheeky bows adorning the packaging and product itself. The range includes lipgloss, blush, bronzer, mascara, nail varnish, eyeshadow palettes and a brow kit - a pretty comprehensive collection that is perfect for any teeny boppers out there that want something that looks good in their bag, as well as on their face. The lipglosses are pretty standard, being sticky and pink, the blushes give a fair amount of payoff without overdoing the pigment, and the eyeshadows provide a delicate colour, but the magic is in the detail of the accessories. Beneath the blush and bronze is a little mirror and brush hidden away, the eyebrow kit comes with a teeny pair of tweezers and the eyeshadows have a handy double-ended brush that has both a foam and hair applicator. The product pans are stamped with her 'brand bow' and everything includes a touch of glitter. This isn't a range of makeup for those of you looking for something that offers performance and pigment, but it's perfect for little presents or as an impulse buy that you don't expect too much from. You do have to work quite hard to get the eyeshadows to provide enough colour to create a strong look, but the rest of the range gives enough colour for your younger sister, neice or daughter to have a play around while feeling uber glam. And for the prices (starting at £2.99) you really can't argue - Kelly Brook certainly knows what she's doing!

Available nationwide in New Look stores and online, prices starting at £2.99


Stella and Dot kalahari zebra bangle

Sometimes something catches my eye like a magpie and I just can't get it out of my head. I'm pretty frivolous (after a long time of being skint I finally deserve to splash the cash a little) so I'm always making a purchase here, an investment there, but often I just can't justify spending £65 on a zebra bangle. I'd been thinking about this for months, ever since I went to a Stella and Dot trunk show and saw it for myself, but could never bear to part with the cash for something so small and outrageous. How often will you ever wear a zebra diamante bangle? Well, after hosting my own trunk show (which I wrote about here) I'd earned some credit, so there was no stopping me snapping this up for around half price. As soon as I opened the box I started to coo as if it was a small baby, delicately placing it on my wrist where it stayed for about two days. The quality of Stella and Dot jewellery is fantastic, as well as the designs being pretty timeless and unique - I much prefer to spend a bit more on something I know will last, rather than endless bits of tat from H&M and Topshop (although we all though that will never cease!) I've received so many comments on this bangle, from friends admiring my statement piece, to the corner shop lady quizzing me on where it was from - it was definitely worth holding out and splurging on something I'll no doubt love for a long time.

The Stella and Dot Kalahari bangle (or zebra bangle!) is available exclusively online or via a trunk show. RRP £65.00, although host your own event at home and earn credits/discount!


Rimmel London: Apocalips lip laquer

When I was a teenager I used to regularly take a trip to Superdrug and spend my pocket money on a new Rimmel lipgloss. The brand for me then was the epitome of cool, celebrating colour and making affordable fashion statements that could be worn on your lips. Although Rimmel London has definitely moved on since then, their focus on colour has remained. Launching in January 2013 is their new lip laquer 'Apocalips' - a combination of lipstick and gloss that provides high shine, high pigment and high impact. It's available in eight shades that cover the more subtle pinks, browns and peaches, right through to the 'wow' reds and deep pinks. The comfortable foam applicator holds a lot of product, so you can apply in one stroke without a scratchy feeling on the lips. I really love this product as it gives you a striking colour without the need to perfect your application technique (like a lipstick requires,) while not being as sticky as a gloss. This definitely reminds me of the Bare Minerals 'Pretty Amazing' lip laquer, but is a much more affordable alternative. It's really comfortable to wear and doesn't dry out lips, but it also doesn't last that long - you do need to re-apply quite regularly and it does transfer really badly onto cups and food! I ended up eating a bright pink banana at one point, while turning my tea cup a pretty shade of purple. However, for the price of £5.99 you're getting a pretty good product that does what it says on the tin... It's giving you a powerful result and a brilliant colour. Just make sure you pout and pose, not eat and drink, when you're wearing it!

Available from January 2013 priced £5.99 each


Stylfile Nailcare for Christmas

The Apprentice isn't just for comedy weekday viewing you know - the end result is actually a career being launched and a product being developed. Back in 2011 Tom Pellereau won the show and shortly after launched his revolutionary nail care brand Stylfile, which is based around the curve of nails to ensure an effective filing result. I've written about the products before, but just in time for Christmas he's launched a gift set which includes the hero nail file, an emergency nail file and an accompanying buffer. These really are great little products, making nail maintenance that much easier by ensuring you only file towards the natural curve. So many broken nails are made worse by filing square on, breaking the curve and causing you to file off way more than you actually need; the Stylfile gives you a perfect round tip in seconds. This little gift set contains everything you need for your nail care routine for only £11.99, making it a perfect stocking filler. A new addition to the range, Tom has also just released his S-Clipper, which is like the Ferrari of nail clippers - double the size, double the weight and double the grip, this really does slice nails as if they were cotton. Perfect for the men in your life (as well as brilliant for those stubborn toe nails that are much harder than your digits) the S-Clipper comes with a lifetime guarantee, while looking sleek and sexy. Believe it or not, this is only £8.99 so you should be grabbing one for every dude in your life this festive season and helping them start a new year's resolution of looking after their hands.

The Stylfile gift set is available for £11.99 and the S-Clipper £8.99. Available online via www.stylfile.com or in Sainsburys stores nationwide.


Wish upon a star with Urban Retreat

Christmas is little over a week away, so if you're still holding out for something special then Urban Retreat may just be able to be your Secret Santa. The luxurious beauty treatment destination and shop have launched ‘Wish Upon a Star’ to bring a little joy and happiness to everyone this festive season. If there's something you really would like to help make your beauty dreams come true, then simply fill in one of these little tags when you visit the boutique on the 5th floor of Harrods for a chance to win your wish. You can also enter online, as well as using their website to create wishlists and last minute present purchases - they have every product you could possibly imagine! Urban Retreat will make 5 beauty dreams come true by the end of December, so make sure you get down there fast for your chance to look fabulous and feel fabulous too.


Find out all the details, as well as compiling a wish list for yourself, on their website here.

LUSH Gorilla Fragrance pop-up shop

The story continues following my trip to the LUSH pop-up shop in East London. The exhibition may only be open for the next week, but the shop out front is open all the way into the summer. Situated off the main road, it feels like it's slightly hidden away for a reason - because when you walk in you feel like you've discovered a treasure trove. This really is heaven for any fragrance lover, as the walls, shelves, cupboards and displays are bursting at the seams with bottles of scent. The new collection from Gorilla Perfumes is slightly different from the first, in that the packaging is much more authentic to the original apothecaries that undoubtedly inspired it. I adore the little bottles, pipettes and miss-matched lids that hold in the scents - it feels like you're really discovering something unique and lovingly made. The new fragrances include The Voice of Reason (inspired by basement clubs and claustrophobic coffee shops, with the strong aroma of French Gitane cigarettes, espresso and sandalwood) which is one of my favourites for evoking memories of my grandfather, The Bug (inspired by the paranoia of the modern age - a disjointed scent for our times using such unique fragrances as galbanum and black pepper) which sits on the skin in such a way that you're not quite sure if you love it or hate it, Sun (inspired by a vision of big orange sun on a lollipop stick, so unsuprisingly it contains orange, tangerine and sandalwood) which makes me feel warm, comforted and ready for warmer times, and Devil's Nightcap (to capture the magic of stone circles and folklore, oak moss, clary sage and ylang ylang were used) which evokes childhood memories of sitting in the country and breathing in the fresh air. All of the scents are unique and really stir memories and associations because the ingredients are so fresh and 'homemade'. You could spend hours sniffing all of these new concoctions and deciding which one you love the most (although it's pretty hard to decide!) and this pop-up shop is the perfect way to do it.

The LUSH pop-up shop is located at 1-3 Rivington Street, London EC2A 3DT. The nearest tube is Old Street and it's a 5min walk. It will be open until Summer 2013.

Check out all the fragrances on their website here.


LUSH: Gorilla Fragrance pop-up

Yesterday I went into the deepest parts of East London to discover a celebration of fragrance like no other. A couple of years ago LUSH launched a temporary exhibit which took each one of their fragrances and created a unique experience to bring it to life. For one week only the exhibit returns, but this time it's bigger and better than ever before. I don't want to spoil it for you, so below are just a small selection of photos I took to give you a little taster of what to expect, but suffice to say it's definitely worth a trip into Shoreditch. The fully immersive experience takes you through rooms that hold the scents in the air, while all your senses are challenged and excited. From the simplicity of a wall that smells of orange blossom, to a thunder storm that brings to life the scent of fresh rain, wedged between a peep show and a stone circle, this is something you won't forget in a hurry. There's even a LUSH bus that travelled up and down the UK hosting music and poetry sessions, as well as a record booth where you can listen to old musty music while breathing in the scent. The founders of LUSH are very special people with a huge passion for fragrance and perfume, so this pop-up exhibition was clearly put together with love. It's fantastic to see something so uniquely different and products being brought to life in a way that makes you feel much closer to their roots and meaning. If you're a fragrance buff, a LUSH lover or even just curious to see what it's all about, then make sure you get down to Rivington Street before 24th December to take part in this extravagant display. There's also a pop up shop (more on that later) where you can play with the scents and buy your favourites, so if you're stuck for Christmas present ideas this enchanting location will have you leaving with armfuls of gifts.

The LUSH Gorilla Perfume exhibit is free to experience and located at The Red Gallery, 1-3 Rivington Street, London EC2A 3DT. The nearest tube is Old Street and it's a 5min walk. It's only open until 24th December so make sure you get down quick!


A gift for them... A gift for you...

If you haven't finished your Christmas shopping, then why not go crazy and get your friends and family the gift every lady wants this festive season... The gift of beauty! Benefit currently have some amazing offers (including 10% off all Christmas sets for the next 72hrs) and this one is possibly the most exciting - because you get a little present yourself! When you spend over £50 or £100 you can get one of these brilliant sets absolutely free. Not only will you be bestowing the gift of Benefit on some lucky sods, but you'll look fabulous this December too.

Check out all the offers and shop online via their website: www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk


Percy & Reed London

The best and worst beauty related experience for me is getting my hair cut. I love the pampering and the relaxing 'me time' that comes with it (hello head massage,) but the stress of whether or not I will come out looking like Britney (hello dodgy haircut) is sometimes not worth it. When it comes to hairdressing you need to find someone you trust, a salon that listens to you and an environment you feel comfortable enough in to actually read a magazine and switch off from the world. I'm a firm believer too in paying well for a decent haircut - I know so many women that would happily pay £80 for a dress to wear out this Saturday night, but really begrudge paying £80 for a haircut that you wear out every single day. Like a good pair of school shoes, you should make sure you're investing in something that's comfortable, practical and workable because there's nothing worse than leaving the salon chair with a style that hasn't got a hope in hell of lasting more than 48hrs. A few weeks ago I went along to the Percy & Reed salon on Great Portland Street, central London for a peek around and to have my hair done. I'd met Adam Reed (the salon's namesake) and heard a lot of great things about the studio, as well as having a collection of the Percy & Reed products at home, but had never even stepped foot in one of their salons before. As soon as I sat down to wait for my appointment slot I was handed a little tray of tea and shortcake (my fave) to pass the time, while I watched my poor stylist struggle with a young girl's birds nest of a hairdo in the kindest and most patient way possible. (She'd not brushed her hair in months, so you can imagine the painstaking process of trying to detangle it with a smile on his face.) When I eventually sat down in the chair the experience was fab, from the comfy leather chairs in the backwash, to the relaxing head massage, glass of bubbly to enjoy while my hair was chopped and the detailed explanation of the process and products.

My stylist was fabulous, taking the time to ask me questions about my hair and recommend a course of action - so many hairdressers just get chopping and don't pay attention to the practicality of your hair after you leave them. What I really appreciated though was the lack of lecture about using hair straighteners; we all do it, we all damage our hair and we all normally get the telling off, but this time I simply got told 'you're looking after it well, I know you won't stop so I won't tell you off'. Wowzer, someone that actually gets it! Everyone in the salon was absolutely lovely, the environment was classic, comfortable and relaxing, and I left feeling like a princess. I usually get up from the hairdressers chair and hate my big bouffant (I'm not a fan of the blow-dry) but this time I left skipping with a style that suited me, was subtle enough to just tidy me up and was realistic to achieve myself at home. Although Percy & Reed aren't cheap, what you get is most definitely what you pay for. They're experienced, professional, caring and considerate - skills I appreciate much more than a blunt radical do that they can put in their portfolio. I have a lot of haircuts and visit a lot of salons, but (as I tweeted afterwards) I really felt like this was the best experience I'd ever had. If you're in the market for a new haircut this January, make sure you consider a trip to Percy & Reed as a New Years Resolution.

Find out more about Percy & Reed on their website: www.percyandreed.com
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