Lucinda Ellery: Getting the Extensions PUT IN!

My hair extension journey had begun about a month before, when I met Lucinda Ellery to discuss her expertise and the possibility of getting gorgeous flowing locks. I'd had the opportunity to quiz her on trichotillomania and what a difference hair can make to women who simply don't have it, as well as visiting the salon to get a couple of testers and find the perfect blend of hair for me. The day was finally here and I was more excited than a six year old on Christmas morning. I arrived at her West London salon at 9.30am to get washed, set up and full of coffee, taking my position in the chair that I was to inhabit for the next seven hours. Getting hair extensions is a long and detailed process that's painstakingly created by experts who put you completely at ease; my hairdresser told me she'd been applying extensions in the salon for over six years and could pretty much do it wearing a blindfold if needed. The hair is applied in individual sections that are hand blended together (in my case using three different colours to get the perfect match to my bright red hair,) and applied using what looks like a glue gun - this formula effectively binds the hair together and enables it to hold by creating a 'rubber band' around the strands. This not only makes sure the hair is secure, but is much more delicate and comfortable in comparison to the chunky bonds you often get with more mainstream hair extensions. Over the next seven hours, 129 individual sections of hair were attached to my head in lines that started along the base of my skull, gradually reaching the top about an inch from my parting. Each line of bonds is covered with a layer of your own hair so it blends together and conceals anything that may give away your secret, as well as ensuring your own hair doesn't clash or look obviously layered.

Throughout the seven hours in the chair I was made to feel utterly comfortable and at ease, being fed coffee and snacks throughout the day while I read many magazines. What was utterly inspiring during my day in the salon was the number of women sat around me having similar treatments, but having hardly any hair on their heads - women of all ages came in and confidently sat in the chair to have extensions replaced or added, some to often non-existent wispy pieces of hair that were the result of illness or disorder. I expected them to feel self-conscious or uneasy, but the Lucinda Ellery salon obviously puts them so at ease that they feel comfortable enough to be completely and utterly stripped bare. I found the whole process of getting extensions put in quite therapeutic and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. The length of hair put in was 20 inches, with originally the plan being to chop quite a lot off to leave me with about 16 inches of hair - however, once in the chair with long flowing locks that remind you of The Little Mermaid, it's hard to part with them. I had a little trim and the hair around my face was shaped to leave it more natural looking and blended with my original style, as well as a little curl being put in to provide volume and full hair-swishing ability. Not only did I feel like a princess, the comments I got immediately after made me feel like one too. Having extensions is fantastic, but hard work and not quite what I expected - you have to use a particular shampoo, conditioner and brush, adjust your styling habits and learn to live with what feels about a tonne of hair on your head. It took me about a week to get used to washing, styling and wearing such a huge amount of additional hair, but now I've got the process down I utterly adore my new barnet. 

The extensions last up to three months and need to be washed regularly to stop the natural oil your hair produces from causing the bonds to slip. When applying conditioner you have to only coat the lower hair, rather than going anywhere near the root, and use a natural bristle brush so the bonds aren't broken while brushing from the root down. It takes me now a good hour to dry and style my hair, which is the biggest difference to my routine - being prepared and washing before bed has become my mantra, which is a big change from basically going from bed to door in 45mins. A lot of the hair does malt as you wash, style and brush it, so after a couple of weeks it feels much lighter on your head and easy to manage; for the first few days I was so overwhelmed I didn't know what to do with this mass of hair I'd suddenly accumulated, and started to regret having it done. However, after a couple of days of learning how to handle it and get into the swing of styling, it becomes as much a part of you as your own hair. (I will be writing another post of my top tips and lessons from having extensions, so stay tuned for that!) The cost of having this done is huge, so it's a decision that won't come lightly: my extensions would have set me back £980, which includes the full consultation and support service, as well as a check up and any touch-ups or re-bonding of lost hair that may be required. You may be able to get extensions a lot cheaper elsewhere, but what you get with Lucinda Ellery is the trusted service and support that's second to none - they make you feel completely at home and welcome you like I've never experienced before. The hair is hand blended and matched perfectly, and the overall cost is down to the expertise and time it takes to attach each of the 140 sections applied to an average head. If you're going to have something done, you may as well do it properly! Lucinda is always personally on hand to answer questions or help you along your journey, especially if you're visiting for something to re-instate your confidence and provide a new outlook on life. I had hair added purely out of curioisty and for vanity reasons, but Lucinda provides something almost beyond value to hundreds of women every year - their feminity and their confidence. I can't recommend her and her experts enough.

Find out more about Lucinda in my previous posts, or visit her website here.


Ashley Roberts is the new ambassador for Garnier Ambre Solaire

If I sing 'Here Comes the Summer Sun' enough times in my head, it'll surely creep out from behind those clouds? This time of year I'm usually well and truly into fake tanning season, but so far I've yet to even open a bottle and have a sniff of the biscuity goodness. One lady who looks sunkissed 365 days of the year though is the new 'face' (or legs, arms and body) of Garnier's Ambre Solaire bronzers - Ashley Roberts, of Pussycat Dolls, I'm a Celeb and Dancing on Ice fame. Capitalising on what's been an incredible year for the otherwise unknown star, she's well known for her sunkissed skin and natural looking tan, as well as her pins that seem to go on forever. She says: "I'm delighted to be the face of the Garnier No Streak Bronzer Self Tan Range. I've always admired Garnier. It's in line with all my own values and gives me everything I look for in a beauty brand, thoughtful, innovative products suitable for everyday use. I first discovered the No Streaks Bronzer range when I moved to the UK at the end of last year and I've been using the products ever since.  They take care of my skin whilst giving me a natural, sun kissed, healthy-looking glow.  Easy to apply, practical to use and available in range of formats and shades for a result I can trust: a natural, golden streak free tan." I think she's a good choice in ambassador, even for being a little more attainable than some of the goddesses you usually see flashing their flesh, but I'm interested to see if this partnership lasts beyond the season. What do you think of Garnier's new No Streak Bronzer ambassador?



Revlon Nearly Naked Foundation

You can tell the seasons are about to change as our beauty counters are awash with the newest innovations in foundation. This time of the year we should all be moving away from heavy and covering formulas, in favour of lighter and more natural results that help provide a healthy glow. I hate looking like I'm wearing foundation, which means the hunt is always on for the next best thing. For months now I've been coveting a combination of Clinique and Benefit foundations, not being able to find anything else available on the high street that can compete with their results and long-lasting qualities - until now. Revlon launched their Nearly Naked foundation and powder a little while ago and I've been dying to give it a whirl and see how it performs on my dull and sun-desperate skin. It claims to balance skin and makeup so that they work in harmony, providing a breathable finish that still allows the skin's natural texture to shine through. Available in 16 different shades, this is definitely a range designed to work with your skintone and provide a result that's as natural as possible. I've been wearing this interchangeably for a few weeks now and I can honestly say it's become one of my favourites - the formula is light and easy to apply, working with skin well and blending perfectly without any caking or stickiness. It doesn't sit in pores, rather sitting on top of them subtly to create a natural finish that has literally had people asking what foundation I'm wearing. Lasting all day no matter what I'm doing, it works just as well with fingers as it does with a brush and doesn't irritate my eyes at all. The closest comparison would have to be Benefit's Hello Flawless foundation, which is about double the price and performs only marginally better. The glass bottle is slightly annoying and inevitably causes a lot of product to go to waste, but it does give you something sturdy to grip onto. Finishing off with a dusting of the Nearly Naked powder to set the foundation provides a very 'naked' result, although I'm pretty sure this powder is a regular Revlon version re-packaged. If you're after a foundation to take you into spring but aren't quite ready to go as far as a tinted moisturiser, then this is definitely a product to check out. It's got the LBQ stamp of approval, and then some...

Available now in store and online in 16 different foundation shades. RRP £8.99.


Bobbi Brown: Pretty Powerful, The Ultimate Makeup Book

There are plenty of makeup manuals about and hundreds of 'how to' guides available on Amazon, but the fact that they're unrelatable and confusing lead to the boom of blogs as an online resource that people could relate to. Why would you read a heavy book by someone you've never met, when you could quite happily tweet someone and get a personalised answer within minutes? I've got quite a few makeup and skincare books, but I can honestly say I've never read any of them beyond the front page and a flick of the pictures - they're not aimed at real people creating real looks on a day to day basis. Bobbi Brown is an iconic makeup artist with a unique outlook on her profession - she works much more with the individual and their skin, rather than covering up features with elaborate artistic creations. This mantra is carried through into her own book, Pretty Powerful, and displayed in an easy to digest and enjoyable format. It's not every day you get a blogger recommending a book as a makeup resource, but it's not every day that there's one available that really does offer something new. Pretty Powerful is the kind of makeup manual that starts with who you are, rather than how you look. Bobbi interviews real women and celebrities about what beauty means to them, showing step-by-step how to achieve each look. She shares her tips and trade secrets as you would expect, but the unique angle for me is the inclusion of pretty much every ethnicity and age group - this isn't a manual on how to create makeup for a 20 year old Caucasian model, but how to wear it yourself. There are no ridiculous looks that could never be recreated, no OTT eyeshadow that would never see the outside of your bedroom walls, no 27 step process to creating the perfect lip; this is digestible, relatable and intriguing. The book is full of inspiring imagery, clearly labeled diagrams and 'before and after' shots to show what a transformation a little bit of makeup can create - it's a resource that will still be relevant in ten, twenty years and a book you'll continue to open. Regardless of whether you're a complete novice, a beauty enthusiast or a makeup artist yourself, Bobbi has something for everyone... Because that's the kind of woman she is.

Bobbi Brown: Pretty Powerful is available online for £19.99


Collection Cover & Go: Foundation and Concealer Duo

During the morning makeup rush I have brushes flying everywhere, foundation all over my hands and I'm always in the continual 'concealer hunt' mode, trying to remember where I left it. Foundation and concealer are like two peas in a pod, so this latest innovation from Collection brings that love affair to life in a convenient duo pack. They've launched 'Cover & Go,' a foundation in a little tube that also has a hidden concealer and mirror in the cap - no hunting required ever again. I love this idea and think it's one of the best packaging innovations I've seen on the high street for some time, especially from a brand that offers most things for under a fiver. Matching your foundation and concealer is always a challenge too, so at least with a duo you know they're going to be compatible in terms of shade and texture. The only annoying thing is the fact you can't swap around shades if you want something slightly lighter/darker - you basically have to put up with what's been given and approved my Mr Collection. So the packaging is uber handy, but what about the product itself? Well, that leaves a little more to be desired... I like my foundation light, airy and covering without being cakey; this is everything the opposite. The formula is very thick and gloopy (just have a look at how it comes out of the tube below,) making it hard to apply and blend effectively; it sticks to fingers and leaves that slightly sticky feeling on the skin too. I struggled to make this work for me, the formula not really offering me a huge amount of coverage or providing an even skintone, made only worse by the very thin and watery concealer - it didn't conceal anything I wanted it to, only highlighting my flaws by sitting caked in pores and on blemishes. For someone who's looking for a flawless base and their makeup to really 'work' for them, this isn't going to be on your shopping list. However, if you're lucky enough to have a perfect youthful glow, this is probably going to be the best thing since sliced bread - a little bit of colour and a lot of cute packaging goes a hellova way.

Cover & Go is available in six shades and priced £5.99


Shay & Blue: New Fragrance Boutique Opens in London

My Nan reminds me of lavender and talcum powder. My grandad reminds me of grass, mud and red wine. My mum reminds me of sweet flowers. My sister reminds me of soap and musty books. Scent is powerful and creates strong emotions; we all have our signature scents and things that quickly remind us of our loved ones. I've always liked more unique fragrances that say something about the wearer, rather than run-of-the-mill perfumes that can be found on 3/10ths of every tube carriage. The new boy on the block offering just that is unisex fragrance brand, Shay & Blue; the brain child of Dominic De Vetta, the ex President of Jo Malone and Chanel fragrances, this boutique brand has certainly been developed with love, passion and knowledge. I adore how they describe themselves in this passionate extract from their website: "At Shay & Blue, our creators Dom De Vetta and Julie Massé have a vision to uphold the age-old and traditional craft of fine perfumery. A commitment to create fragrances of quality by championing a new generation of craftsmen. By nurturing their expertise. We seek out the men and women who have learned the patient, traditional skills of working with real flowers, fruits and spices. The people who have carefully and quietly acquired an invaluable expertise. Hand harvesting. Hand weighing. Hand distilling. With a level of passion care, and attention that mass-production can’t rival." You certainly can't question the amount of love that goes into producing every bottle, which is why right now there are only six different scents to choose from. I've been wearing the truly unique Atropa Belladonna scent (which is Italian for 'Beautiful Lady') that is commonly known as 'poisonous deadly nightshade'. This rare plant was ingested by Venetians in the 1600's for its potent cosmetic effect - its natural toxins dilated the pupils, giving women a deadly, hallucinogenic beauty that apparently left men falling at their feet! I can't say I had that impact walking down Tottenham Court Road, but it's certainly one of the most unique smells I've ever ingested. I have no idea how to describe it, but it's a heady and woody scent that features jasmine, vanilla, berries and real spices. The complexity of the scent brings to life even more the skill that went into creating it, sitting on the skin perfectly and lasting well from dawn til dusk. It's quite a manly scent too, meaning it's completely unisex and tran-seasonal; you most definitely get the maximum for your buck with this range and are safe in the knowledge that the fragrance is timeless. With so much love and skill going into making each bottle you'd expect the price tag to be huge; however, with these bottles of around 50ml come in at £30.00 - no more expensive than your standard high street scent. I know where I'll be going the next time I'm after something unique... And it won't be The Fragrance Shop.

Find out more on their website here.


Get into Spring: New Season Makeup with Debenhams

Next week marks the start of the Summer solstice, where the clocks go forward and we're officially out of Winter. Looking out the window it doesn't quite feel that way, but that doesn't mean we can't update our beauty routine and makeup bags in preparation. Your skin needs different products in lighter seasons, while makeup needs to be less heavy and colours lighter. Put those thick foundations on hold, put the dark eyeshadow down and swap that bright red lipstick for something subtler... The Debenhams beauty hall has got us all covered this Spring.
1. Ditch the heavy moisturisers
In the winter you need to be using all kind of concoctions to replace the moisture lost in harsh winds and by having the central heating on constantly. When the weather gets warmer and your skin is exposed to more sun (hopefully!) then swaps need to be made in favour of a lighter moisturiser with added SPF. Bare Minerals, Elemis and Clinique do a great range of lighter moisturisers that provide all the goodness you need, while not being too heavy on the skin. Make sure you're still applying daily and under makeup, as this provides the canvas from which to work on all Summer long.  

2. Pick a lighter base
Colder months call for thicker bases, but in Spring you should be swapping in tinted moisturisers and sheerer formulas like Benefit's Hello Flawless foundation. A lighter foundation allows your natural glow to shine through, helping you to look like you're barely wearing anything at all. BB Creams are perfect for this as they give you a flawless result, with added goodness and coverage all in one application that takes less than two minutes to apply. Perfect skin and more time in bed? Bonus. 

3. Change your colour palette
We all stick to browns, greys and blacks throughout the Winter, reaching for the safe colours we know suit us and work with the darker colour palette we adorn on our bodies. With lighter colours across the high street and pastels very much back in for Spring, swap dark browns for beiges, navy blues for turquoise and red lipsticks for bright pinks. You can afford to be a little more adventurous in the warmer months so brands like Bobbi Brown, Nars and YSL have got you covered. If you're a bit scared of adding too much colour to your makeup routine, why not add a slick of colourful nail varnish like this bright neon (and totally on-trend) green from Nails Inc?

4. Get out your toes 
I don't know about you, but my toes remain firmly within tights from October to April. They barely see the light of day and so they're inevitably in need of some pampering right about now. L'Occitane offer some incredible foot creams which will have you in tip top shape in no time - just smother feet before bed, pop on some socks and wake up with smooth tootsies that are ready to be outed. Make sure you add in a sweep of nail varnish too, using a bright pink or orange shade to bring out your tropical side.

5. Let skin sparkle
If you can't get a natural tan right now, then faking it is the best way. Exfoliate away the dead skin cells that have been building up throughout the colder months, moisturising daily to create a smooth base on which to create a golden glow. Using a mitt, apply a light coat of St Tropez lotion to skin (not forgetting to blend carefully into hands and feet) and leave to work overnight. The formula reacts to the dirt in your skin (manky but true) so applying at night time will leave you with a deeper and more uniformed colour that will encourage you to get your limbs out. Finish with a dusting of shimmer illuminator on the skin to make you feel like a goddess.

When will you be starting the season transition and what products will you be using to help with the transformation? I'd love to know your tips!

This is a commissioned post produced in collaboration with Debenhams.


Lipstick Queen: Saint or Sinner?

There are a few things every girl should own, including a classic LBD, an item of Chanel and a beautiful bright red lipstick. Founded by lipstick obsessive Poppy King, Lipstick Queen is the outcome of 20 years of research, experimentation and obsession - it provides a range of wearable, comfortable and unique shades that make any girl feel on top of the world. Two of the iconic lipsticks within her expansive range are 'Saint' and 'Sinner', designed to meet the desires of every woman no matter her mood. Saint provides a much subtler way to wear a lipstick than is to be expected, providing a sheer veil of colour thanks to its 10% pigment. The result is a fresh, dewy texture that provides a slight tint to the lips that's barely even recogniseable as a lipstick - the shea butter makes this a truly comfortable experience for the lips, feeling more like a balm than a lipstick or tint. Sinner, on the other hand, is a much stronger colour that was inspired by the decadence of the 1940s. It combines high levels of pigment with a matte, yet silky texture for a shot of intense colour without the weight of other lipsticks. This has more like 90% pigment, providing an intense colour result that again feels more like a balm than a chalky and long-lasting bullet in the traditional sense. Each range contains ten different shades, all of which are extremely comfortable on the lip and last a long time. There's nothing worse than applying a lipstick and feeling like you need to constantly re-apply because it dries out your pout; Poppy has combined pigment with comfort in a way I've never experienced before - these really are a pleasure to apply. If you're a lipstick newbie and don't know which way to turn, then Lipstick Queen provides the perfect opportunity to dip your toe in. These are so comfortable and pleasurable to wear, making daily lipstick application as realistic as it was in the 1940s.

Saint and Sinner are both available from Space NK and online priced around £18.00 each


Ten Things I Love and Hate About Being a Woman

I've been thinking about writing a post like this for a while. I don't really know why and it's not really meant to be serious, but I just had a sudden urge to vocalise a lot of the things that churn around in my head. Being a woman is great, it really is, but equally it can be a pain in the backside. Sometimes I think it would be much easier to be a guy and not have to worry about the 100 different things we process before even leaving the house, but then I remember the power of lipstick and celebrate the fact I can get away with fake tan. These are my ten things I love and hate about being a woman... What are yours?

Things I hate about being a woman
1. The need to put on makeup every day so someone doesn't ask me if I'm ill. Apparently if I'm without foundation or mascara I look like I'm about to vom.
2. That week before your period when your boobs have a growth spurt, everything aches and none of your underwear fits properly. God help me being pregnant.
3. Tights. Whoever invented them was an evil genius - they may keep me warm and prevent the world from putting up with pasty legs, but pulling them up from around your ankles is not ladylike.
4. Having to walk around on tiptoes wearing high heels, just because dresses don't hang properly when you're in flats. Or maybe that's just because I'm a little over 5ft something?
5. The time it takes me to do my hair, no matter where I'm going or how long it is - I envy men who just shower and add in some V05.
6. Feeling the pressure to look like Jessica Alba in a bikini, but actually being closer to Rosie O'Donnell (thanks to eating too many cupcakes.)
7. Having to spend a fortune every month on sanitary products, when I'd much rather divert that into another glass of champagne. It's just not fair, dammit.
8. Getting wacked in the face by a rogue breast whenever I attempt to run - no sports bra can even come close to helping with this, so I just walk fast instead.
9. Breaking a nail. This has got to be the most painful and inconvenient thing to happen to a woman outside of childbirth; I can only imagine it's comparable to being kicked in the balls.
10. Stomach cramps when you need them the least, i.e. during a camping holiday, in the middle of a really important meeting, or when you're hungover and want to crawl into a ball and die slowly.

Things I love about being a woman
1. Makeup. If I'm feeling rubbish or need to make myself into a sexy vamp when I'd rather be in PJs, makeup transforms while covering all the bits you don't want people to see.
2. Having the option of skirts, dresses or trousers - imagine getting up every day and asking yourself if you want to wear the black trousers or the black trousers?
3. Having long hair (Hanson doesn't count) and being able to style it in lots of different ways, transforming a look from day to night using only a curling wand. If you're a dude how can you even make the transition without putting on a suit?
4. Nail varnish - I love it. Painting a completely unnecessary part of your body is utterly therapeutic, whilst allowing you to channel a trend from the catwalk in under ten minutes.
5. Being able to get away with a day in the spa or a facial, without the need to pretend it's for a reason other than I fancy it. Pampering 'me time' is part of the package.
6. Magazines like Stylist constantly pushing the boundaries and paving the way for future generations - empowerment is the buzz word of our generation. But...
7. Getting away with jumping into the newly empty seat on the tube, fluttering my eyelashes and smiling sweetly at the guy that probably wanted it just as much as me. (What?!)
8. Dressing slutty and calling it fancy dress - every other day of the year it would be frowned upon to leave the house in next-to-nothing, but call it a costume and you're all good.
9. Slippers. My feet are cold and I want something novelty-adorned to warm my feet. Men just can't get away with furry dog slippers and reindeer socks without looking like a wally.
10. Being able to use the period excuse for almost anything, as long as it's directed at a man. See their discomfort ooze out of every pore as you explain why you're late for work/haven't finished that report/need to go on the 5th coffee run of the day.

So, what do you love and hate about being a woman?


Lusting After Clutch Bags

There's something elegant and totally on-trend about a clutch bag. Even though they're incredibly inconvenient to carry, quite often don't have enough room to even fit your phone in and make texting/instramming/tweeting with one hand quite problematic, they look hawt. Oversized clutch bags are the best compromise and a girls best friend - big enough to fit your essentials in, enough material to grab hold of and a fabulous statement piece to brighten up an otherwise dull outfit. ASOS is on fire this season, having a vast array of affordable statement clutches that take a simple shift dress or jeans and tee combo, and make it something worthy of a WIWT post. I love these nine clutches, all with their individual details that make them unique and lustable - be it a spotty or animal print pattern, tassles or embelishments, texture layering, pattern punching or even a detachable front pocket. The combination of colour and pattern make these trans-seasonal and easy to wear. What's even better is that all of these come under £35.00, so you can afford to invest in a couple that will take you all the way into next year. Which is your favourite?

ASOS Clutch Bag With Metallic Spot £25.00; ASOS Clutch Bag With Removable Front Pocket £28.00; ASOS Clutch Bag With Enamel Studs £30.00; ASOS Clutch Bag With Firework Beading £21.00; ASOS Clutch Bag With Double Tassel Zip £18.00; ASOS Zip Top Clutch Bag With Floral Embellishment £35.00; ASOS Leather Clutch Bag With Faux Pony Animal Print £35.00; ASOS Leather Two Tone Plate Clutch Bag £22.50; ASOS Floral Punchout Clutch Bag £28.00


Aduna Baobab Fruit Pulp Powder

I work hard, play hard, sleep little, drink lots, eat badly and stress too much. This inevitably leads to slumps in my energy, breakouts on my face and constant dips in my health; if there's someone in the office with a cold or bug, I'll be in bed with it within the week. I take a lot of supplements to try and combat this, some working better than others, but I have an awful memory and end up going a week without actually swallowing any. Anything that can make my life easier is a huge bonus in my book, which is where Aduna Baobab Fruit Pulp Powder comes in. For centuries, the women of Africa have turned to the baobab tree as a source of natural wellbeing, to benefit their skin, hair and general health. The baobab fruit contains fourteen essential vitamins and minerals (including vitamin C, calcium, potassium, thiamine and B6,) is almost fifty percent fibre and has one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any fruit in the world. This gives it an amazing range of benefits, from helping with energy metabolism to improving skin health, the immune system and maintaining normal blood pressure. Sounds a bit too good to be true doesn't it? Unlike other fruit, baobab dries naturally on the branch, so Aduna simply harvest the fruit, remove the seeds and sieve, to produce a powder that can be sprinkled over food and enjoyed. You can add it to smoothies, cereal, salad, yogurt, porridge or even add to hot water and drink as a tea, so it's super easy to integrate into your diet and routine. The taste is slightly citrus, reminding me of a lemon dust that enhances the flavour of what you're adding it to; I've been chucking a load onto food whenever I remember (why not pop on your desk so you can add it throughout the day?) and find it pretty tasty. Obviously you can add as little or as much as your taste buds ask for, which is the beauty of the powder form, and this hefty tub will keep you going for quite some time. If you're not into lugging about big tubs of powder though, then Aduna Baobab Fruit Pulp also comes in handy sachets and tablets too.

The powder is £17.00 for 170g and available online or in Harrods, Whole Foods, Planet Organic and other health food shops nationwide.


Happy Birthday Boots Advantage Card!

Can you believe that one of the staples in every girls purse is celebrating its 15th birthday in 2013? The Boots Advantage Card is probably one of the most used bits of plastic in the country, providing points and prizes to the masses since 1998. Believe it or not, 17.8 million people in the UK are actively collecting 4 points in every £1, while over 200 million pieces of targeted communications are sent out to wish happy birthdays and provide extra offers every year. December is the most popular month to redeem points, which I can only assume is people saving up and splurging on Christmas presents for loved ones, closely followed by January when it's all about penny pinching post the festive season. Over 5000 customers currently have enough points on their card to treat themselves to something special every week for a year, which is a whole lot of unspent points you should be using! I love the fact that Boots also know people redeem the points mostly against eyeliners and mascara, illustrating the fact that we all love a strong eye and pampering ourselves with the latest products. I have a lorra love for the Advantage Card, the points getting me through many lunchtimes at Uni when I was living off beans for a week, so I'm wishing it a very Happy Birthday and many more years of bringing happiness and beauty to all. What do you love to splurge your Advantage Card points on? I'd love to know!


NEW: Clarins Instant Smooth Crystal Lip Balm

There are brands I love, brands I like, brands I tolerate and brands that don't even touch my radar. Clarins is generally one of those brands that I don't even think about, until they go ahead and launch something uniquely fabulous that grabs my attention. As someone who is utterly addicted to lip balms, I'm always on the hunt for something a bit different that not only looks pretty, but does the job well too. These limited edition crystal lip balms provide a sheer hydrating gel with an inner bullet of colour, providing the effect of a gloss without the sticky feeling. The unique shades of green and blue may look strange upon first glance, but the tint of the gel complements the inner colour to leave a subtle hue on the lips that has added depth. By mixing the two formulas together in one swooping motion, you get a glossy lipstain with hydrating properties that's both easy and comfortable to wear. Annoyingly, you do have to rub your lips together to ensure the pigment is distributed evenly and you don't just end up with ombre lips (deeper colour in the centre) unintentionally, but the bullet is strong and easy to apply. The packs are great quality and the flash of colour at the end brings a touch of youthfulness to a brand mostly associated with the more mature customer; I have to admit Clarins have most definitely got my attention with these cute and bright lip treats. Will you be wearing a blue tint this Spring?

The lip balms are available now in four shades priced £16.50 each


A Q&A with trichotillomania and extension expert Lucinda Ellery

One of the things that can never be underestimated is the power of hair. According to The Telegraph, around £5bn a year is spent at the 34,000 hair salons and 3,000 barber shops in the UK - that's a lot of time, effort and cold hard cash spent to help us feel good about ourselves. Have you imagined what it would be like to lose your hair though, either through illness, stress, a side effect or even an impulsion? Over six million women a year suffer from hair thinning and loss, often not knowing which way to turn or who to ask for help and support. I've written previously of Lucinda Ellery and her expertise in helping women with hair loss, but here I got a chance to ask her some direct questions on her passion and career to date. Lucinda specialises in helping suffers of Trichotillomania, a condition where a person has an irresistible urge to pull out their own hair. It's believed to affect up to 2% of the population; the hair pulling may provide a short term distraction from immediate worries such as depression, anxiety or anger, but the pulling will most likely then fuel a new cycle of these feelings, so only making the sitation worse. Lucinda uses specially bonded hair extensions to not only give suffers a full head of hair (and a hugely powerful smile,) but to break the cycle of pulling by breaking the satisfying feeling of pulling hair away from the scalp. Lucinda has also worked with cancer patients and even does Katie Piper's hair after the horrendous acid attack which left her facially disfigured. She really is a fascinating woman with an amazing story to tell, helping women from across the globe with their hair hangups when there's no other answer. Read on for a mini insight, but if you have any other questions don't hesitate to leave me a comment so I can pass it on to Lucinda directly.

What does hair mean to you as a woman?
Everything. It is the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and last thing I think about when I go to sleep. I am totally and utterly obsessed with hair – any hair at all.

Why did you first become interested in hair and hair loss?
I do not know a time when I was not interested in hair. From the moment I could hold a pair of scissors or a brush, that was that. I am so obsessed with hair, that losing it completely changed my life and made me want to help everyone other woman out there. 

What benefits can hair extensions bring to those suffering from hair loss?
It is as long as a piece of string. For someone whose hair has reduced by 50% in a short space of time, the knock on effect it has to their being and the way they feel cannot be underestimated. It is not about confidence, it is about self-esteem. So to add 50, 60 or 70 connections to thicken hair delicately can make women instantly feel wonderful about themselves, and we all know what you feel… You attract more of the same.

What do you love most about your job?
Everything. I don’t feel like I work – when I just love everything about what I do. It doesn’t feel like a job to me. I am obsessed with hair, I am completely smothered in it morning, noon and night and if I could, I would sleep on a bed of hair.

How do you believe you help people after they've experienced your service?
Because I personally know what it means to have a place to come too to feel safe amongst women that really understand the effects of hair loss, I know what they need. I must believe what the gorgeous girls I meet tell me everyday, to have their hair restored to their former glory. The hundreds of cards, letters and hugs a I get a day tells me that what I do makes a difference… I don’t even think actresses get this everyday. I think that every woman who has lost her hair are the best on the planet.

What’s your favourite story from your career so far?
One of my favourites has to be the story about the birth of little Lucy. Her mother wrote to me and said ‘I have you to thank for my child as I would never had a daughter because I was so miserable about my hair. Until I met you, it wasn’t an option.’ I have never, and will never forget that.

Who has been your favourite client and why?
Barbara Windsor is one of my favourites, as she is such an inspiration. She has taught me that it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can look fabulous and be fabulous every day of your life.

Why is the Lucinda Ellery experience different from any other?
I think it is like a cupcake, you always feel better after you have eaten it… You’ll always feel better after you have been to us.

Find out more about Lucinda, trichotillomania and her consultancy here


Cara Delevingne for YSL Babydoll Mascara

This lass gets about a bit, doesn't she? Not satisfied with taking over the catwalks, the fragrance scene, a place in Karl Lagerfeld's heart and a dancing spot next to Rihanna, Cara Delevingne has been announced as the face and eyes of the new YSL Babydoll Mascara. Launching this May, the mascara helps to create a doll-like set of lashes that are fantastic at opening eyes and making the iris colour pop. I've been trying out the mascara ahead of its release and I'm happy to report it's pretty special... More on that to come later though! This sixties vibe seems to suit Cara perfectly, although I'm not sure you often sit on the floor clutching a mascara wand while there's a hot guy waiting for you. What do you think of Cara's latest campaign?


First Look: Gisele Bündchen, the face of NEW Chanel Les Beiges

Finally, it's here. Gisele was announced as the new face of Chanel some time ago, but up until now we haven't seen her in makeup action. This video has been released to celebrate the new collection of Les Beiges, which appear to be a revolutionary combination of a highlighter and blush matched to skintone to create a subtle healthy glow. Created by Chanel's Creative Director of Makeup, Peter Philips, I have a feeling this is going to become as iconic as the little round pots of blush. Available in seven shades and featuring SPF15 and UVA protection, these little beauties come with a special beige compact and are available on counter now priced £38.00.

"Peter Philips knows how hard it is for Caucasian and Asian skin tones to achieve the subtle naturalness of a healthy glow. They are systematically given the choice between an immaculate white complexion, a tone-matching shade or tanned skin. He now offers a universal, hybrid line, a complete range of products that will draw from this new vision of beauty over time. Not bronzing, iridescent or whitening. The most invisible sophistication. A range that focuses on naturalness only to better enhance the complexion, which is simply set off with the radiance of an afternoon spent outdoors: a brightened, revived complexion, an embellished, coveted glow. Simple, comfortable, timeless, urban and weightless beauty steps. Beige. Beiges. LES BEIGES."



Browhaus Resurrection Treatment: Eyebrows Revived!

If you surveyed 100 women about their appearance I'm positive 100 of them would find a flaw. Sometimes we worry about the size of our bum, the ampleness of our boobs, the turn of our nose and even the bingo of our wings, but sometimes it's the things that aren't even noticeable to others that concern us. For me, it's my eyebrows. I've never been happy with my brows, having a bizarre shape that's never been even or full enough to style effectively. For years I tried to pluck them into a decent shape, which only made the problem worse, while attempting to fill in the massive gap on the inner corner of my brows. While at University sitting my finals, due to stress even more hairs fell out leaving me with huge gaps that were completely unmanageable. I resigned myself to having hideous brows and left them be, until I started this blog and became aware of how I could fill them in and use makeup to create the illusion of the perfect shape. For the past three years I've been religiously applying pencil, powder, gel and crayon in an attempt to cover up my hugely troublesome brows, wishing there was another solution available. I'd heard about semi-permanent makeup but never had the courage to go for it, until Browhaus got in touch and told me about their Brow Resurrection treatment that lasts up to two years. This signature treatment utilises a patented weaving tool to gently scratch the skin’s surface in the shape of individual hairs, before coating the 'scratches' with a semi-permanent vegetable-based dye. Because each stroke is thicker at the root and tapered off at the end, like natural hair, the effect is believably three-dimensional and completely natural looking. I went in for an initial consultation, discussing what I wanted to achieve and how I like my brows to look; my brows were drawn on with pencil and we touched them up until I was 100% happy with how they were positioned, the thickness and the colour. It was then time to bite the bullet, book an appointment and come back for the treatment a few weeks later.

What I love about Browhaus is how they make you feel totally and utterly at ease, when you're actually about to ensure a pretty invasive and uncomfortable procedure. Having someone lean over your face and work on your eyebrows for nearly two hours isn't the normal way I like to spend a Tuesday evening, but I felt so relaxed that I almost drifted off mid-procedure. The application started by re-drawing the brows on with black pencil (to act as a guide - brown isn't strong enough once the numbing cream is applied,) and my brows being numbed by a gentle anesthetic. After 20min waiting for my brows to go numb, the resurrection treatment began with gentle strokes from the inner brow, working toward the outer area. The first layer of 'scratching' was barely noticeable and I'm happy to report that the anesthetic worked pretty damn well! At every stage I was given a mirror to check I was happy with the position and thickness, with all my comments taken on board to ensure I was 100% happy with the result - it very much felt like a collaborative process. Overall there are three layers of application to ensure the dye is embedded into the skin and the result natural looking; by the time I got to layer three my brows were pretty sore and I was looking forward to it all being over! Like a junkie I kept asking for more numbing cream, to which they happily obliged - you don't have to man up and take the pain, you can very much be a wimp without worrying. After nearly two hours, numerous consultations with another expert in the room (it's comforting to know that you're getting a third opinion so your brows are absolute perfection,) my brows were done and I had a huge smile on my face... Finally, the brows of my dreams.

When I first left the salon my face was pretty numb, but the fullness of my brows made up for any discomfort I suffered. I purchased an after care kit, containing a gel and grease to help the colour keep and the brows heal quickly, to soothe and maintain my brows for a week after the procedure. You have to avoid direct sun, saunas, makeup and prolonged water exposure for 3-7 days to help the brows remain at their best, but after that the brows are yours to enjoy! The first couple of days were a bit sore and troublesome as the skin healed and the colour took, but it wasn't painful at all - just a bit stiff and bruised. Now I've had them done for nearly two weeks I'm thoroughly happy with what I've had done and have never felt better about my brows; for the first time in my life I don't have to worry about not applying pencil before opening the door to the postman. I have an appointment to go back for a top-up in a couple of weeks (which is included in the original price) to darken them and make sure the colour is placed well enough to help them last, and I can't wait to finally not have to worry about that part of my makeup routine. If you suffer from patchy brows or just want to create a fuller look after over-plucking, then I can't recommend this enough. It's not cheap, costing £550 for the full consultation, procedure and top-up, but it's £550 well spent in my book; I can totally see myself going back every two years to have this done again. Beautiful bold brows all round!

Find out more about the treatment on their website. Treatment £550. After-care kit £73.

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