A gluten and wheat free diet: Eating Hale and Hearty

Switching to a gluten and dairy free diet can be both rewarding and challenging. Whether out of necessity for reasons that include intolerance, IBS and Coeliac disease, or out of choice for weight management, a gluten free diet can be beneficial to digestion and wellbeing as well as encouraging you to consider less processed meal options. In addition, a dairy free diet can also encourage a healthier lifestyle; not only have dairy products been linked to worsening acne, they also increase mucus production in the body which can be very troublesome for conditions like asthma, hayfever and in my case chronic sinusitis. For me, a gluten and dairy free diet encourages me to read the label of everything I eat, to make better choices about which refined foods I put into my body.


Clayspray: The face mask innovation

The beauty industry is constantly innovating. There's always the 'next big thing', on-trend scent or unique formula to keep us on our toes, but with Clayspray the innovation is in their 'back to basics' approach. A range of face masks with targeted formulas, including Pore Refining, Brightening, Toning and Mattifying, Clayspray products are natural, free of preservatives, parabens and perfumes, as well as not being tested on animals. Clays are now widely used to absorb excess oil, dirt and toxins from the skin, while simultaneously exfoliating and improving skin circulation. The Clayspray range of face masks is formulated with 60 - 65% clay, which provides high density formula, for a much higher concentration of beneficial minerals to offer even better results. The clays in Clayspray are emulsified like a cream, providing a smooth and rich texture that easily applies and moves around the skin comfortably.



The Anti-Beach Maxi Dresses

I love a maxi dress for many reasons. Not only does the excess material make me feel all floaty and elegant, but it covers the lumps and bumps you don't want people to see. Whenever I'm not feeling quite top-notch (or haven't had a chance to shave and fake tan my pins,) the safety of a maxi dress is ever comforting. Although maxi dresses were originally meant to be worn on the beach, the designs and detailing available now make them completely suitable for any occasion. They don't have to be made of cotton and involve a bikini, but can be dressed up as wedding attire or even be made suitable for the office. I've picked my top 8 maxi dresses below for a variety of reasons - their simplicity, their cut, their detailing or even just their colour. With weather like we're getting at the moment a maxi dress will keep you cold when the wind turns, but equally keep you cool when the sun comes out to play; it's British weather appropriate and totally LBQ approved. Just add a cute denim or biker jacket for added fashion kudos. Do you love rocking a maxi?

ASOS have a whole fabulous range of Maxi Dresses available from £25.00. Check them out here.

Lipstick Queen: Endless Summer

Powerful lips have never been more on trend, but what if you want something a little subtler to take you through the summer days and sleepy evenings? Lipstick Queen herself, Poppy King, has added to her ever expanding repertoire of colours with the new 'Endless Summer' collection for that very purpose. Consisting of three extremely wearable shades, these lipsticks have the texture of a balm, the sheerness of a gloss, yet the format of a lipstick bullet. I love Lipstick Queen because you're always safe in the knowledge that you're getting great pigment, without the dreaded dragging feeling you so often get with stronger shades. Poppy formulates her products so they can be worn all day, every day without drying lips - something I can absolutely testament to as I've been using the nude shade below as a lipbalm substitute.



Overnight Detox Foot Patches from Patch-It

Leading an extremely busy lifestyle, anything that claims to work while I sleep is a bonus. Skincare, body treatments, detoxing - all while I slumber and don't have to worry about it? Sign me up. I remember trying a foot patch for the first time about ten years ago, cautiously attaching it to the underside of my foot before slipping into bed and not quite knowing what I would wake up to. They don't seem to have progressed far since then, but you can now get your hands on sleep patches that claim to do different things while you snooze. Patch-It are available in two different varieties - a regular detoxing version, as well as a sleep aid to help you awaken feeling revitalised. I've put both of these to the test for a couple of nights to see if they really did do what they say, and although I'm not completely convinced, they did make bedtime a little more interesting.


Pippa Middleton: Princess of Style

Recently voted Style In View’s most fashionable celebrity by the public, when it comes to the Middleton sisters, it’s Kate’s wardrobe we most often lust after. But let’s not forget Pippa in the style stakes. Making waves in the fashion world with her recent appointment as Vanity Fair’s latest contributing editor, Pippa has more to offer than her more commonly noted ass-ets... With that in mind, what better excuse do we need to take a moment to examine her oft overlooked style credentials? Here are Pippa Middleton’s top fashion moments.


Pink is THE Summer Hue

Summer is well and truly upon us, even though it might not feel it at times! So to celebrate the long BBQ filled nights and bikini clad days, it's the perfect opportunity to shake up what's in your make-up bag. A trend that is dominating the runways this season is pink and embracing it can breathe some much needed life into a tired make-up routine. A little worried of embracing pink? Just take a look at the hoards of brands that will see you overhauling your collection and wearing makeup like it's the 90s again! Donna Karen was seen using a mixture of pink lashes and eyeliner to cover two of the big trends for this summer: paired with a light brow and nude lips it's one of the most striking looks of the season. If that's too overstated for your tastes, Versace have been rocking the natural 'concealer only' look which I've been trying to imitate in the warmer weather in order to save my skin. A little tinted moisturiser and the palest of pink on the lips is the simplest way to wear this trend, whilst staying natural and radiant. With this approach it's ideal to stick with a matte complexion and steer away from dewy skin, ensuring the pink pops and remains the focus. 

pink is the hue of the season



LBQ Brand Focus #5: Miller Harris

Your sense of smell is one of the most powerful assets you have. Fragrance is extremely evocative, instantly bringing back memories of half-forgotten experiences and holidays past. Scent can also be comforting and reassuring, as well as bringing bright and energetic feelings to the surface. Lyn Harris, the founder of Miller Harris, spent five years training at one of the highly prestigious schools of the perfume elite in Paris, followed by over twenty years of working in the industry. It was from this expansive knowledge that her love for 'natural' scents was born, which form the foundation of the Miller Harris scents. Whilst respecting tradition, Lyn strives to push the boundaries by creating fragrances that are innovative yet timeless. The distinct style of the products means they're classic, yet modern - seen in some of the top hotels and restaurants throughout London, it's no surprise they fit in with both ends of the decor spectrum.

I love browsing for new fragrances and Miller Harris encourages just that when you visit any one of their boutiques. You're drawn to scents you wouldn't normally have considered, finding yourself walking out with something completely not 'you', but equally totally complementary to your existing fragrance wardrobe. Easily colour coded and with the most helpful members of staff you'll ever meet, it's a fun experience finding your signature scent while sipping on a cup of tea. Unlike so many other fragrances, these really don't go out of style or season - nor does the scent really change after a long period of time. I have the Coeur de Fleur scent (a fragrance that's nothing like anything else I own,) and I utterly adore its refreshing and uplifting qualities, as well as the warmth it evokes on a sweet summers day. The scents are also available in candles, hand lotions, washes and home fragrances, so I couldn't recommend an afternoon in one of their boutiques more to discover your perfect combo.

The Miller Harris collection is available online and through their boutique stores in London.

Beauty with a Bump: Pregnancy Must-Haves

Fergie, Kate Winslet, Frankie Sandford, Alesha Dixon -  celebrity bumps are bulging; not to mention a royal arrival due in less than a month courtesy of Kate Middleton. The joy of pregnancy often comes hand-in-hand with stretch marks, dry skin and aching joints, so if you’re expecting it’s wise to expect your beauty regime to need tweaking too. While your must-have cleanser and favourite nail polish may not pose any real risk during pregnancy, the jury is still out on the effect chemicals (including sulphates and parabens) have on foetal health, so it’s wise to avoid them all together; but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on great beauty buys. (Full disclosure – I’ve never been pregnant, but like everyone else I’m also on the hunt for the most indulgent, luxurious products on the market - not to mention safe.) Trust me I’m confident these products will make your next nine months a breeze!

Pregnancy must haves



Shu Uemera: Eyeconic eyeshadow & blush collection

The swinging sixties never seem to go out of style, and with Shu Uemura's 'Eyeconic' collection (launched to celebrate their 30th birthday) they've never been more relevant. A new brand to me, Shu Uemura may have slipped under the radar somewhat, but they certainly have some concepts and colours to be reckoned with. Rather unusually, their eyeshadows and blushers come in 'naked' pans that can be slipped into bigger product holders - there's definitely no fancy or extravagant packaging here. Although I love the idea of actually picking the products and shades you want to build up a bespoke and relevant set for your needs, considering these will set you back £22.00 a pop you do wonder why they're so expensive. There are five eyeshadows and two blusher combinations to choose from, all of which contain complementary shades (three eyeshadows and two blushers in one pan) that can be used together. At first glance these hues didn't appear to be the kind of thing I'd wear, but once you actually play with them it becomes clear that they're all very wearable and provide subtler results on the skin that you'd imagine.


Nail Rock: Rockits Nail Art Kits

The trend for nail art is going nowhere. Everywhere you look there's a new finish, a new adornment and a new trend to get your head around. Although I've never been sold on feathered nails, caviar nails or anything in-between, I can totally get on board with sticking bits and bobs on your nails like it's 1993. Nail Rock may be more known for their nail transfers and creative stick-on designs, but with these cute little kits they're channeling their inner Ciate and bringing something new to their very fussy and creative table. Available in four different colour ways, each including unique adornments, these cute kits bring everything together that you may need to create your own bespoke nail art. Each pack includes a nail varnish, a matching furry coating, plus three different types of nail adornments which make the different looks and possible creations infinite.


Lipstick Queen: Hello Sailor

Nude lipsticks have never really been my thing. A bright pop of colour is my go-to when hunting for the perfect lippie, but when I discovered a new launch from Lipstick Queen I thought it would be the perfect solution to my ‘interesting nude’ conundrum. Founded by Poppy King, who decided to create her own line of lipsticks after failing to find the perfect shade she was looking for, Lipstick Queen make a range of highly pigmented and high quality lip products. Hello Sailor is one of those shades that looks a bit scary at first glance: A bright navy blue in the tube, it certainly doesn’t look like it will deliver nearly-nude lips, but the secret lies in both the pigment and the formula.



Introducing LBQ Offers!

We all love a bargain, saving some pennies and getting a great deal, but the problem is you never quite know where to look. With so many sites and stores offering so many different brands, it's difficult to track down the fantastic secret offers before they're gone for good. With the amount of time I spend surfing the interweb and talking to brands, it makes complete sense for me to do the hard work for you. From today onwards, I'll be bringing you the top offers, discounts and deals that you really need to know about - every single week. All you have to do is check out my offers page via the tab underneath my logo (quick link here) and all the brands are listed in alphabetical order. This week there are some amazing savings to be had, including 33% off Bioderma and 50% off fragrance. Please check them out and keep having a regular peep to see what other incredible savings you could be making!

beauty bargains


LBQ's Top Three: Mascaras

One of the most frequently asked beauty questions I recieve is a recommendation for a really great mascara. It seems that women will spend a small fortune searching for their perfect partner, and I'm not talking husband material. Getting a fabulous flutter is high on the priority list of every woman, because a simple slick of mascara can mean the world of difference to our appearance. Long, wide and full lashes can help us look younger, as well as opening our eyes to brighten and lift our peepers. It's widely reported that men fall for ladies with big lashes (especially on the lower lash line,) as it's a sign of youth and fertility - so here are my top three mascaras to help you bag the man of your dreams. Or just look pretty.

Top 3 mascaras

1. Yves Saint Laurent: Babydoll Mascara (£24.50)
I'm normally not a huge fan of YSL mascaras, but Babydoll has to be the best mascara I've ever used. The brush is perfectly formed to deposit a decent amount of product onto lashes, then combing it through to create maximum impact and seperation. It's not often you find one product that provides volume, length and definition, but Babydoll manages it with ease. Because you need a small about for each application (the brush does all the work for you) each tube lasts a long time; what's even better is the formula doesn't dry out or flake on the lashes. This really is the holy grail of mascaras that needs to be on every woman's dressing table.

2. Guerlain: 'Cils d'Enfer' Maxi Lash Mascara (£22.00)
Perfect for volume junkies, the maxi brush of this mascara helps to create powerful lashes with tonnes of flutter. Even though the wand looks a little clunky at first glance, it carefully coats lashes and helps to build volume without clumping. This is the perfect for strong smokey looks or for complimenting 60s inspired eyeliner, but equally can effortlessly provide natural volume for daytime too. You can't help but feel special holding a gold mascara, so this is worth every penny. 

3. Seventeen: Doll'd Up Mascara (£6.29)
My ultimate budget buy, this mascara provides almost all of the benefits of YSL Babydoll but at a fraction of the price. It works fabulously to create volume and separation, but there's no clumping side effect. Although it's not particularly pretty to look at, the product inside is really quite brilliant considering the price point. It doesn't flake, it builds easily and it creates a flutter that looks extremely natural. The only issue is that it's harder to remove than most mascaras, so you will need an oil-based cleanser to clean away all residue so you don't look panda-eyed.

What are the mascaras you can't live without?

The Unique Uses of Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil is becoming ever more popular in both food and beauty applications, due to increased research into its benefits over more commonly used oils such as olive and sunflower. Vitamins and minerals including Choline, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Iron, Stearic and Lauric Acid are all contained within Coconut Oil, which help to nourish the body both inside and out in a way unique to the substance. Available in both tubs and jars, Coconut Oil can be bought in most large supermarkets and health food shops - however, if you're making a purchase look for the words 'virgin', 'organic' and 'cold pressed', rather than 'pure' or '100% natural' to ensure you're getting the best quality; non-virgin oil is refined through a process that removes most of its beneficial components. (As a quick guide, if your oil doesn't smell or taste of coconut, then it has been refined and isn't virgin.) While providing a sweet and nutty flavour to food, it also has a whole host of benefits for the body; take a look at the fun beauty uses and benefits of Coconut Oil below, for ideas on how to get the most from your virgin oil.



Benefit Stay Flawless: 15 hour primer

Keeping your makeup on all day long can sometimes be a challenge. It's not only the heat that can cause makeup to run, but the natural process of our skin's renewal can leave us looking and feeling rather shiny. Using a primer can help create a barrier between the skin and makeup, helping to prevent it from budging or absorbing your skin's natural sebum - it's a must in the warmer months, but also for days when you need your makeup to last you from morning until night. I'm a great fan of Hello Flawless, the original foundation that creates a dewy and natural glow, so this accompanying primer's launch was music to my ears. Packaged in a stick format, Stay Flawless provides an unusual application method; primers usually come in little tubes or pump bottles, but this allows you to simply draw across your face exactly where you need it and blend in with fingers.



Chanel at Covent Garden: Coloured Mascaras for Summer

The last time I used a coloured mascara it was fashionable to put it in your hair. Any colour other than black is just not on my radar - there's nothing more visually appealing to me than a beautiful flutter of jet black lashes. Last week I happened to be in the vicinity of Chanel's Covent Garden boutique, so stopped to chat about their new summer collection; little did I know it included four brightly coloured mascaras that could be used to create a striking ombre look on lashes that I'd be lusting after. The new collection of Imitable Mascara includes an electric blue, turquoise, pastel blue and striking canary yellow - not necessarily the shades you'd expect to see on lashes, but when used on the tips or edges of the lash line the result is somewhat striking.



Foreo Luna: Electrical Skincare Innovations

I remember when times were simpler, when all I had to do was was my face with a flannel and a bit of teenage face wash. Now I'm in my 30's I need to take a lot more care of my skin; seeing the first signs of ageing and little wrinkles around my eyes was a hard day, so anything I can do to ensure I keep my complexion young and fresh for as long as possible is a must. Foreo are a Swedish brand that have developed an innovative electronic device which claims to revolutionise your skincare routine. This delicate pink hand-held device emits vibrations which aid the cleansing and exfoliation process, while stimulating the blood vessels beneath the skin; the objective is to reveal the healthy cells beneath the surface, as well as stimulating the circulation to leave skin looking and feeling brighter. It's really easy to use - you simply press the middle button to turn it on, pressing it again to increase or decrease the speed of vibrations, and use with a cleanser in circular motions on the skin. You can use this dry if you wish, but I found it much more effective and efficient to use as part of my cleansing routine: the cleanser can be manipulated easily and the vibrations help to lift dirt and grease from the skin, making it easier to wash it all away.


SHOW Beauty: hair with glamour

Since having hair extensions put in (and now taken out, sob) I've become a little bit more obsessed with hair than usual. Never have I believed more that a full head of bouncing, luscious hair can make you feel like a princess - no matter how awful your skin feels, how off-trend your outfit is and how much your makeup has run since you applied it at 7am. Having fabulous hair just makes everything seem so much better. SHOW Beauty have attempted to bottle that feeling (literally,) with the launch of their opulent and extravagant hair care range, exclusively available in Selfridges and Harrods. Focusing uniquely on stying and finishing products, rather than the traditional wet products most brands launch with (shampoos, conditioners and treatmnets,) SHOW Beauty is all about making you feel elegant, sophisticated and luxurious. Each bottle is adorned by crystal detailing, gold casing and a whole lot of bling - you certainly wouldn't keep these hidden away in your bathroom, but display them proudly on your dressing table for all to see.

SHOW beauty hair products



The Ultimate Festival Beauty Kit

The occasional burst of sun and the advent of festival season – surely the two indicators that summer has finally arrived? With Glastonbury just around the corner and a whole host of music, food and poetry festivals to follow I’ve rounded up the top ten beauty must-haves to keep you fresh and flawless, so skincare is the last thing on your mind in the mosh pit.

festival must have beauty products


LBQ Brand Focus #4: Phyto

A great hair range is really hard to find. So many brands fill their tubes and bottles with so much silicone and SLS that your poor barnet doesn't know what's hit it. Phyto are a Parisian specialist hair care brand that aim to bring highly effective products to customers that also demand good quality ingredients and respect for the environment. For over 40 years, Phyto have been working with scientists to fine-tune innovative products with scientifically proven results through clinical testing and patent submissions, drawing inspiration from the heart of the botanical world. They say: "For your hair to be beautiful and healthy, it needs science, but science inspired by nature." Using over 500 botanical extracts within their products, they prioritise the cultivation of their own plants and focus their research on renewable resources of botanical extracts. They ensure their manufacturing processes are pollution free, their packaging is environmentally friendly and they're committed to recycling. All this sounds very lovely, but is it at the expense of effective products? Absolutely not.

Phyto haircare

Their products are a pleasure to use and offer targeted solutions, as well as results that are really visible. Although they may not be particualrly pretty to look at, as well as some of their names and uses being a bit confusing, this is one of the best overall hair brands I've ever had the pleasure of using. Their shampoos are light without lacking in lather, their conditioners really do leave hair feeling smooth, while their styling products help tame frizzy messes and replenish lost volume. Some of my favourtie products include the Clarifying Detox Shampoo (which is great for getting rid of build-up, especially after a festival or holiday, while smelling minty fresh,) the Botanical Straightening Balm (which is the only product that really helps my frizzy, wavy mess to turn into a sleek and shiny look I can be proud of,) and the Deep Nourishing Brilliance Mask (which is great for adding moisture to dry, brittle hair and revitalising tired-looking hair once a week.)

Phyto also offers a range of products that help with scalp conditions, thinning hair, dandruff and other deeper problems that a bottle of Head & Shoulders won't help with - including rebalancing the pH of your scalp to aid healthy hair growth. With ethics, ingredients and targeted products such as theirs, you'd expect Phyto to be charging a small fortune; however, with shampoos starting from around £10.50 and styling products around £14.00, you're really getting something for not too many pennies. Which is why I love them so much.

Phyto is available in department stores and online.
Find out more on their website: www.phyto-haircare.co.uk


NEW: Neutrogena Pore & Shine Skincare

I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t worry about her skin. A common skin complaint for most of us, especially in this unusually warm weather, is shine. There is nothing worse than spending time applying your make up in the morning, to then look in the mirror at lunch time and see it slipping off your skin. There are so many products on the market at the moment claiming to sort out all your skincare woes, ranging from creams containing precious metals to micro beads for better exfoliation. So where do you start deciding which product is best for your skin without spending a small fortune? Neutrogena are a global skin care brand with a difference; they work with dermatologists to make sure their products not only work, but are scientifically proven to help your specific skin problems. Their newest product range is called Visibly Clear Pore and Shine, claiming to help tighten pores and instantly brighten using salicylic acid as well as micro beads to gently buff the skin. There are currently two products in the range including a daily wash and a daily scrub.



Richard Ward: Kate Middleton's Hairdresser Launches Hair Care

The world became obsessed with Kate Middleton's hair as soon as she became the future Mrs Windsor. Never has a great blowdry caused so much fuss and fawning, until Kate stepped out with perfectly polished and bouncy waves that took the world by storm. The man behind her perfect curls, delicately coiffed up-dos and bouncy volume is Chelsea hairdresser Richard Ward. Located in Sloane Square (and a stone throw away from the regular haunts of the Made In Chelsea cast,) his salon brings to life his hair vision and plays host to the Duchess on many occasion. Although he has his own professional hair care range (available in-salon and via QVC,) Richard has now launched his own mass market range of shampoos, conditioners and styling products exclusively in Waitrose stores nationwide: “There’s no substitute for beautiful hair – and nothing creates salon-beautiful hair like expert hair products!” he says. I've visited his salon on many occasion, as well as trying the salon range, so I was extremely excited to try this 'budget' line where everything costs £5.99.


REN Micro Polish Cleanser

REN is a brand that's been growing in popularity since its launch in 2000. The products feature a 'clean skincare' stamp to let you know exactly what undesirable ingredients they're free from, as well as only using 100% plant and mineral derived actives, including organic essential oils. The REN Micro Polish Cleanser was a product that I was keen to purchase; my combination skin has been subjected to all manner of manual exfoliators, but recently these have been getting a bad press in favour of chemical and acid exfoliators that are said to be gentler and more effective.



LBQ's Top Three: Nail Must-Haves

I'm a total polish fiend, regularly changing from a nude pink to a flouro yellow within 24hrs. I love to match my nail colour to my outfit, but frequent polish removals not only leave me short of time, but also with nails that have seen better days. After many years of searching, these are the top three nail products I'd never be without - products that help repair, protect and support nails that suffer from daily abuse. With these three investments you'll have perfect talons in no time at all.

The best nail products

1. Sephora Drying Drops, speed-dry oil (£13.45)
I've never been a huge fan of speed-dry top coats or the 'wonder formulas' that seem to be endorsed so frequently, but an impulse purchase in a Parisian branch of Sephora brought me this wonderous bottle of drying oil. After applying nail varnish, drip a single drop onto each nail and polish will be touch dry in a matter of seconds. This really helps to set polish if you're in a rush, especially if you're applying before bed and want to avoid that creased look you often get from bed sheets. A bottle lasts an age too, so it's basically an investment.

2. Dr Lewinn's Renunail, nail strengthener (£17.85)
If you suffer from weak, split or broken nails then this is an absolute life-saving product. Applied as a base coat to nails over the period of a few weeks, it really helps them to grow and look much healthier. I use this frequently and my nails hardly ever split or chip, which is a far cry from the brittle mess they used to be. Although it seems like an expense, the bottle is twice the size of a normal nail polish to allow you to use it every day. Now I would never be without a bottle of this.

3. OPI Start to Finish, base and top coat (£13.95)
The perfect lazy girl's product, this dual-purpose base and top coat helps polish to apply well and stay put. It features a thicker brush for quick application, as well as a thin enough formula to enable you to build up polish over a number of coats. I hate having to take a whole nail varnish collection away with me, so this also provides the perfect solution for travelling. Its glossy finish also helps polish to remain chip-free for an extra day or so, reducing the need for a polish change.

What are your nail must-haves?

Apivita Aloe Face Mask

Apivita is a brand I discovered after too many hours perusing the M&S beauty halls, looking for something new to add to my bathroom shelf. Hailing from Greece, Apivita focus on making quality skincare products with natural ingredients, using environmentally friendly cultivation methods. The Aloe face mask is part of a wide variety of results targeted masks, each of which has specific properties to address skin concerns. Part of the hydration range, the mask contains Aloe Vera and Rose juice to moisturise and soothe skin, as well as Jasmine extract and Bergamot essential oil for revitalisation.



Top Tips: Picking the best foundation

The objective of foundation is to create a uniform and even skin tone that looks like you've just woken up from the perfect slumber. A good foundation should not necessarily look like you're wearing one - natural is key here, even when wearing heavier formulas that provide more coverage. No two tones are alike in women, so there's no magic way of getting the perfect shade, it's simply trial and error. Here are a few tips to get you on your way…




NEW: Collection Cosmetics launches Colour Pro Lip Laquer

If pay day is still a bit too far away, but you need a cheeky treat to get you through, Collection cosmetics have a cute range of lip laquers to tickle your fancy. Their 'Colour Pro' range of laquers have the pigment of a lipstick, but the gloss and shine of a lipgloss, making these the perfect mid-way product if you crave colour but hate the feel of a traditional lipstick. Available in four shades (including a nude beige, pale pink, striking fuchsia and bold orange,) the laquer keeps your pout looking kissable without the dreaded drag. The precision applicator holds a lot of product to ensure it applies evenly in one swoop, while the narrow end enables you to outline the lip wherever needed. I was pleasantly surprised how strong the colours were, as well as how comfortable the glosses felt on lips - no drying or overtly sticky feeling. You do need to regularly re-apply, as with any gloss-based product, but these are fab for a pop of brightness in the daytime if lipstick is a little too much for you handle. These are definitely being added to my current top ten favourite lip colours.


Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm

I have a confession: I spent most of my teens using face wipes and whatever moisturiser my Mum had left out in the bathroom.  As soon as I hit my late 20's I knew it was time to get a good skincare regime sorted and first on my list was the Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm. I've always enjoyed using rich face balms and oils, so when I saw this in Space NK during a recent trip to London I just had to pick it up!




Rimmel London: Salon Pro nail varnish by Kate Moss

One brand steal the show when it comes to nail varnish: Rimmel London. Known for their colour variety, affordable price point and quality formulas, they don't often go wrong when it comes to polish. Their newest innovation comes with the stamp of approval from one of the biggest names on the planet; Kate Moss has provided a helping hand in creating the range and picking the colours, with all the names being inspired by films, music and characters that inspire her. The formula claims to be chip-resistant for up to 10 days, as well as leaving a glossy gel-like finish for an ultra-manicured look.


KORA Organics by Miranda Kerr available exclusively at Net-A-Porter

After much media hype, ex-Victoria Secret model, Hollywood wife and wellness ambassador Miranda Kerr has launched her organic skincare line in the UK. Available exclusively at Net-A-Porter, the Australian brand is certified organic and boasts over 90% of its ingredients as being of natural origin. In Miranda’s words, "The KORA Organics range is exactly what I wanted for myself but was unable to find anywhere in the world. The products represent my healthy, balanced lifestyle, my beliefs and love of organics." Containing ‘skin superfoods’ such as rosehip oil, green tea extract and chamomile, Miranda credits her healthy lifestyle, including regular yoga sessions and daily use of KORA Organics, for her supermodel glow... But with prices starting from £32, is it worth your buck? I've had a chance to try a few products from the range, so here are my thoughts on what's worth investing in and what's worth throwing in the bin. 



LBQ Brand Focus #3: Aesop

Deep in the heart of Soho, hiding away between Lucy In Disguise and some dodgy looking bars, is a little shop that holds a treasure trove of skincare wonders. I was first introduced to Australian brand Aesop a few years ago and was instantly struck by their simple branding, apothecary-style bottles and functional formulas. If you shy away from fancy bottles, floral scents and fluffy formulas, then Aesop is the anti-beauty range that takes things back to basics. Established in Melbourne in 1987 with a quest to create a range of superior products for the skin, hair and body, Aesop are committed to using both plant-based and laboratory-made ingredients of the highest quality and proven value – particularly those with the greatest anti-oxidant properties.

Their approach to skincare is utterly refreshing, their ethos totally underlined by their Australian heritage; I love this quote, which sums up the brand so well: "We advocate the use of our products as part of a balanced life that includes a healthy diet, sensible exercise, a moderate intake of red wine, and a regular dose of stimulating literature." The brown glass bottles may look uber stylish, but their function is to prevent the formulas from spoiling in the hot Australian sun - you can be assured they'll last as long as they were intended, with no discolouration or impact on performance, no matter where you place them in your bathroom. Although they do offer a range of hair products and fragrance, it's the skin care that's the hero for me.

I adore their tough and hardworking face masks, as well as their Parsley Seed range of cleansers... They're effective without stripping the skin, as well as not overwhelming you with a strong sickly scent, making these the perfect unisex products that you won't mind the man in your life pinching. They're not a budget range by any means (prices range from £10 to over £90, with the average cream setting you back around £35,) but if you're looking for really effective, simple skincare then they're well worth a look.

Aesop is available online, as well as in their stores in Soho, Borough Market, Islington and Notting Hill. Check out their store locator here.

Rimmel Lasting Finish 1000 Kisses

I’m just into my thirties yet am still completely useless when it comes to makeup. Trust me; I spent 2 months putting on false eyelashes most nights so I could be able to do it with little fuss for my 30th birthday party. I am a make-up junkie, this is true, but I am forever on the hunt for products that make my life (and poor skill) that bit easier.  Something I really don’t get on with is lipstick. I'm yet to find one that I like; be it the colour or consistency, there is always something not quite right that I can't quite get on with. I hate that lipsticks (and even glosses) need to be reapplied so often - I tend to make do with a swipe of tinted lip balm and be done with it!



Hersheson's: The £25 Blow Dry Bar

If you thought a visit to the hairdresser was a lengthy, complex and stressful process, then Hersheson's are about to turn that preconception on its head. I've always loved going to the hairdresser, taking the opportunity for someone else to wash and blow-dry my hair while I sit back and relax, but quite often I just don't have the time to undertake the indulgence. Hersheson's offer an amazing service which stops me facing that dilemma - you can get your hair washed, blow-dried and styled to perfection in only 30 minutes, for the simple price of £25.00. There are various styles to choose from, including bouncy curls with lots of volume, sleeker simple looks that are perfect for a celebration, beachy boho waves to send you off to a festival in style, or complex plaited up-dos that will have your friends green with envy.


Out and About at Lunchtime: Healthy Eating in London

It’s not always easy to find something nutritious to eat in central London, especially when you’re bombarded with junk food and coffee shops on every corner. With summer fast approaching, we're all a little bit more aware of our waistline, so here are my top picks of the healthy options that are also easy to find - whether you're in a hurry or have time to kill.



LBQ's Top 3: Body Scrubs

Dead skin not only looks unsightly, but it can have an impact on how well your moisturiser is absorbed, as well as how well fake tan sits on the surface. It's essential to exfoliate your limbs, paying close attention to knees and elbows, 2-3 times a week to remove any dull skin from the surface. Letting the brighter skin beneath shine will not only look great, but feel much better too. It's quite a challenge to find a body scrub that does the job effectively - you need to ensure you're using a scrub with enough texture to buff away dry skin, while not being over-zealous and causing yourself a mischief in the shower. These are my top 3 body scrubs that do the job perfectly.

3 best body scrubs

1. Palmer's: Cocoa Body Scrub (£4.99 for 200g)
If there's one brand known for their simple, yet effective, formulas then it's cocoa butter lovers Palmer's. Using the benefits of the cocoa and shea butter found in their body lotions, this body scrub smells like chocolate and works like a dream. The scrub is thick enough to grip in the shower, while the cocoa beans are effective at gently exfoliating away dead skin. There's no residue left on the body afterwards, plus skin feels smooth and supple.

2. Soap & Glory: Sugar Crush Body Scrub (£8.00 for 300ml)
Known more for their Flake Away scrub, Soap & Glory also have a less sickly sweet sister product. Sugar Crush contains almond oil and brown sugar to really buff and moisturise the skin, without the OTT pinkness and vomit-inducing qualities of Flake Away. This is jam-packed with sugar to melt away dry skin, perfect for exfoliation virgins who aren't sure how much product to use or how hard to buff. The only downside is that the oil residue does need gently washing away.

3. Melvita: Dry Skin Body Scrub (£16.50 for 150g)
The most expensive of the three, but totally worth the investment. This scrub is almost like a thick cream, perfect for hydrating skin without leaving any residue behind. The kernels are big enough to really buff the skin and get rid of dry areas, even around the elbows and knees, giving skin a good work-out. Because the kernels are so effective, you need such a small amount of this to really exfoliate limbs and leave them feeling smooth.

What are your favourite body scrubs? Do you make sure you exfoliate regularly?

Makeup Tools: MUA Stippling Brush

I'd heard from a few bloggers that MUA's brushes were pretty good value for money. After having a look at their range, and being desperate to try a new stippling brush to achieve an airbrushed finish to the skin, I thought I'd give their brushes a go myself to find out if they really were as good as I'd been lead to believe. MUA have kept their brush design simple: both the handle and ferrule (the part that holds the bristles) are made of shiny plastic, while the brush number is written in nice big white letters on the side so you know easily which of the range it is. I personally prefer plastic handles to metal or wood - they're lightweight and easy to clean as you don't have to worry about accidentally taking off any varnish or paint. This is a duofibre flat top brush made of natural and synthetic hair, making it perfect for both creams and powders; I was surprised at how soft the hairs feel on the skin. It has a smaller and less dense head than the other stippling brushes I own, which makes it perfect for precision application and blending on the cheeks. It picks up product easily and because it has long synthetic bristles it gently buffs the product in with even light motions.



Spa Treatment: Lush's 'The Comforter'

In a city that never sleeps, I rarely do either. I find it incredibly difficult to switch off and get a good night's sleep, let alone spend some quality time looking after my body and mind. It's a good job I've basically now got Lush on speed-dial, popping down to their spa on the King's Road for a relaxing pampering session when the need arises. I've experienced a fair few of their spa treatments already, but last week I was the lucky recipient of the most uplifting one to date - The Comforter. Described as taking you 'on a magical journey of pure imagination,' the treatment includes a full body scrub and moisturising treatment to leave you looking and feeling buffed for summer. Although body scrub treatments are usually a cold and almost medical in their execution, Lush have turned the usual experience on its head to produce an uplifting, unique and heart-warming hour long session that has you smiling from the moment it starts.

Laying on a comfy bed with a snuggly duvet to cover your modesty, the treatment starts with music and lighting that helps to mentally place you in Willy Wonka's factory, only further aided by the scent of the chocolate body scrub used to exfoliate skin. Each limb is taken in turn to reduce the feeling of exposure, the scrub buffing skin and leaving it exceptionally smooth and soft; the chocolate scrub is then followed with a rose oil body serum, to further hydrate and uplift skin while mattifying any excess oil. Throughout the whole treatment, the warmth of the duvet and familiarity of the accompanying songs really does leave you feeling happy and relaxed, ready to face the day with bounds of enthusiasm. When you open your eyes you're greeted by a room full of bubbles, only making the Willy Wonka experience even more enjoyable. What I love so much about the Lush spa treatments is not only the uniqueness of the execution, but how they ensure it's a 360 sensory experience that's thoroughly thought through to leave you feeling the emotions they wish to evoke; it's not just about the use of great products, but the smells, sights and sounds that accompany their use. After an hour of gentle exfoliation you're left feeling exceptionally smooth and soft, with a beaming smile to match. If I was to spend an hour doing anything in this world, this would definitely be near the top of my list.

The Comforter is available in selected Lush stores nationwide, priced £65 for an hour.


One Direction launch their first fragrance: Introducing 'Our Moment'

Undoubtedly the biggest band on the planet right now, five lads that found fame on The X Factor now have the world in the palm of their hand. Liam, Harry, Niall, Louis and Zayn are expanding their business empire this summer with the launch of their debut female fragrance: Our Moment. The boys were heavily involved in the development process, ensuring the final scent was both a celebration and a tribute to their dedicated fans. A year in the making, the final scent is fresh and uplifting without being too sickly sweet; it contains 'splashes of fresh fruit and seasonal flowers, infused with undertones of warm musk,' making it a suprisingly mature and wearable scent. Harry Styles said "It's been a long and exciting process so we're proud to have made a One Direction fragrance," followed by a cheeky reference to the scent of Liam's socks. All five lads seemed to be genuinely excited by the prospect of their own scent, offering the fact that they like their ladies to smell "fresh, sweet and subtle" - Our Moment really does deliver on that front. The bottle is also surprisingly intricate, the light pink liquid being encased in a complex glass shape and adorned with a silver crown. Although the accompanying box keeps it relevant for hardcore fans (a pink box with the band's faces all over it - subtle!) it's not overly crass, as I was anticipating.


Ciate Neon Glitter Paint Pots: Corrupted Nails

Every time I write about Ciate nail varnish and their extravagant limited edition kits, the response I get is overwhelming. It appears there's a huge appreciation for their creativity and unique innovation, especially when they seem to set the trends that appear on the shelves of Boots a few months later. The latest offering from the iconic nail brand is totally on-trend for Summer and includes a lot of neon nail paint, some serious glitter and a hardcore UV finish. These 'Corrupted Neon Manicure' kits include a brightly coloured paint pot and corresponding bottle filled to the brim with neon glitter, the aim of which is to sprinkle one over the other for a striking nail result.



COMPETITION: Dennis Basso fragrance

Designer fragrances are ten-a-penny, so standing out in a very crowded marketplace can be exceptionally difficult. One of America's premiere designers, Dennis Basso, has managed to overcome the challenge in a very simple way - just add leopard print fur. Having built his career making women look and feel glamourous, “the time seemed right to appeal to women on an entirely new emotional level. Fragrance is the perfect compliment to my designs, because it will make every woman who wears it feel chic, elegant and modern." The classic bottle is brought into 2013 with a cheeky strip of faux fur, making this a truly unique fragrance and something you'd be proud to display on your dressing table. The scent is similarly a mix of the classic with a hint of the modern, being deep and musky with added citrus notes to refreshen: "At first breath, fresh citrus notes from the highest quality Italian bergamot are seamlessly blended with succulent lemon and crisp green apple. A sumptuous bouquet of warm orange blossom, luxurious jasmine sambac, and intoxicating French tuberose create an ultra-feminine heart that captivates. Soft, sensual background notes of cedar wood, cashmere woods and a whisper of white musk wrap the fragrance in textural elegance." The scent develops and changes as you wear it, enabling you to pick up on the different notes as it reacts to your skin. To celebrate the launch of Dennis Basso's debut fragrance, available exclusively in Harrods, I have a bottle worth £65 to give away to one lucky person. All you have to do is leave a comment below with your Twitter handle and/or email so I can get in touch with you. Good luck!

T&Cs: Competition open to UK residents only. Closes 11.59pm 15th June 2013. Only one entry per person. Winner chosen at random and notified within 48hrs. Winner must respond and claim their prize within 48hrs or an alternative winner will be chosen. LBQ is not responsible for the delivery of the prize. Contents of the prize may change depending on availability.

LBQ's Top 3: Hand Creams

Being a blogger, email-answerer and general faff-around-on-the-interneter, my hands get pretty battered on a daily basis. Typing, tweeting and continually having an electrical device attached to my hand does nothing for the sake of my skin, nails or general hand heath. I rely constantly on a hydrating and quick absorbing hand cream to get me through each day, needing a product to provide enough moisture and relief without leaving residue that inevitably causes a sticky keyboard. After many years of trying, these three hand creams are the lovers I just keep going back to - they do the job and don't cost a fortune.

The best hand creams

1. L'Occitane: Dry Skin Hand Cream (£8.00 for 30ml)
This was the first hand cream that I totally and utterly fell in love with. Although it's the most expensive of the three, the sheer concentration of Shea Butter in the formula makes even the smallest amount exceptionally hydrating. This is what I use when my hands are really dried-out, to the point of being painful, and a couple of applications really helps to soothe chapped skin. This works really well as an overnight treatment too: just pop a layer on before bed and make sure your hands are under the covers for the heat of your body to aid deep absorption.

2. The Body Shop: Almond Hand & Nail Cream (£10.00 for 100ml)
Discovered during a shopping nightmare (carrying bags of new things can play havoc with your cuticles,) this emergency treatment ended up being a favourite. Lighter than L'Occitane but equally as effective, this smells delicious and is absorbed into the skin in a matter of seconds. Extremely affordable, starting at £5.00 for 30ml, this is a great budget buy that allows you to try all the different scents on offer. They do super cute small tubes of this too, which are perfect for popping in your handbag for use on the go.

3. Crabtree & Evelyn: Honey & Coriander Hand Therapy (£8.00 for 50g)
A brand that may have a reputation for sitting on your grandmother's dressing table, there's a reason why they've stood the test of time: they're good. Their hand creams are the most well established and respected of products within their repertoire, providing a thick yet light formula that hydrates hands while leaving an unusual scent behind. I love the Honey & Coriander variety, but the Avocado & Basil is equally as uplifting. They may sound like they belong in a cook book, but these creams really do the business.

What are your favourite hand creams?


Get Audrey Hepburn's Makeup Look

Audrey Hepburn has a timeless look that's instantly recogniseable and super easy to recreate. If you want to upgrade your current makeup in a few simple steps, then here's my guide for channeling your inner Audrey - just add breakfast at a posh jewellery store for added effect.

Step 1: Flawless Foundation
The most important part of the whole process is getting a flawless and milky complexion. Apply a matte and relatively covering foundation that will even out the tone to create a perfect base. Try something like Clinique's Superbalanced Makeup, which will provide hydration while making your skin look milky soft. Make sure you apply an even amount to the whole face, so that there's no difference in shade or shine. 

Step 2: Chiseled Cheekbones
As you've evened out your skintone you need to replace the contouring and highlight cheekbones. Take a subtle pink blush and using a circular motion, apply to the apple of your cheeks where they'd naturally flush. Next take a highlighting bronzer, such as Bobbi Brown's Shimmer Brick, and use an angled brush to apply a delicate swoop upwards along the jawline; this will very subtly create the illusion of chiseled features while not making you look like you're 'overdone'.  

Step 3: Bambi Eyes
The most important part of this look is getting the eyes just right. They should be innocent and sexy in equal measures, allowing you to flutter your lashes and look upwards through heavy liner to make hearts melt. Apply a neutral beige eyeshadow all over the lid to create a flawless base to start from, followed by a dark brown shadow on the upper lid - black or grey is too harsh for this look, but brown will bring it all together while complementing your skintone. Start from the outside in using a rounded blending blush, applying a little amount and blending it out and upwards to create the smouldering effect Audrey is famous for. If you're feeling extra daring you can also apply a little amount to the lower lid, using your index finger for precision. The Urban Decay Naked palette is perfect for this look, including all the shades and tools you'll need.

Step 4: The Eyeliner Flick
Without a flick this look simply wouldn't be complete - Audrey is almost as famous for her flick as she is for her fringe, so you need to get it just so. Use a brown liquid eyeliner such as Stila's felt pen, pulling the corner of the lid taught to get a good grip on the lash line. Work from the inner corner by drawing a fine line across the base; build this up in small sections rather than drawing a whole line, as it will be easier to control the width and smoothness of the line. On the outer corner draw a subtle flick that goes from the edge of the lid and upwards by no more than about 0.5cms - drawing down will make your eyes look sad, while any longer will start verging on comedy makeup.

Step 5: Sixties Kiss
Bring everything together with a powerful red lip that'll be the envy of any Mad Men character. Go for something with underlying orange tones to get Audrey's look spot on, rather than blue tones which will be too strong for her subtle kiss. The shade should ideally be 2-5 times darker than your natural lip colour and applied with a brush to ensure precision; start by drawing the outline of the lip, filling it in with colour when you're satisfied it's perfect. To help the colour stay as long as possible, blot on tissue paper and apply another layer of colour (the classics are the best,) while topping off with a layer of Lipcote to keep it in place.

Voila! You're ready to go eat breakfast outside Tiffany's.

Blistex Moisture Max Lipbalm

Lipbalm is one of those universal products that appears in every makeup bag, pocket and clutch regardless of the owner's age, sex or interest in making themselves look pretty. Having a good lipbalm can mean the difference between soft, kissable lips and rough, chapped monstrosities that leave you feeling incredibly uncomfortable. Blistex is one of the best go-to brands for simple, effective and affordable formulas - I've been known to go into Boots and literally pick up one of everything on the shelf, just in case I have a lip-related emergency. They really work, providing hydration and care when you need it most, as well as providing a deliate touch of shine or colour. Their latest innovation is Blistex Moisture Max, which claims to be super-hydrating thanks to added Aloe Vera and Shea Butter to moisurise your pout. Packaged in a handy tube (no need for unhygienic dipping of fingers into pots,) the formula delivers hydration where you need it most, with no wastage or excess on lips. It calmly provides a soft lubricant, as well as the look of a lipgloss - it's the perfect combination of an effective formula and a great looking finish. Although this isn't for very dry lips or chapped problem areas, it does provide effective relief on the go without the need for an intense layer of medicated ointment. Another one to add to my lipbalm hall of fame... And every handbag I own.



An Express Espresso At-Home: Tassimo Coffee Machine

It's no secret I'm a coffee lover. Pretty much daily I talk about my lust for coffee, how I'm missing coffee or how I just need a really great coffee to accompany me through the afternoon. On a weekend there's only one thing on my mind (apart from mojitos) - the consumption of coffee in rather large amounts. Upon awaking from my slumber, I wander blurry-eyed into the kitchen and prepare my favourite mug for the reception of some hot, brown, liquid good stuff; until that occurs I can't seem to even find the telly remote to turn on the Hollyoaks omnibus. Although I love coffee in any format, there's nothing quite like the taste of a light and yet rich cup of freshly prepared coffee from your local coffee shop - it just doesn't compare to the instant stuff. When Tassimo offered me the opportunity to try one of their coffee machines myself, putting to test the combination of at-home coffee making with the taste of a proper cup, I believe I did a little dance - the coffee dance if you will.



Caudalie Divine Legs: Wash-Off Tan

The sun is out, the sandals have been unpacked and the legs have been shaved. Can we finally embrace the summer months and celebrate with a little fake tan? I hate looking pasty in a long, flowing maxi dress; I look much healthier and feel much happier when I have a little colour to help me out of the black opaques. However, if the weather catches you off-guard and you've not quite had time to book in that spray tan, Caudalie's newest launch could provide a last minute safety net. Divine Legs tinted body lotion provides the perfect hint of colour for limbs and body, creating a sun-kissed and natural glow in only a few minutes. Containing 92.8% naturally derived ingredients, the lotion is light and easy to work into the skin, as well as being a one-shade-suits-all colour. You need only a couple of pumps into the hands to cover a limb, working it all over in the same way you'd apply a fake tan - it's not just for legs!

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