Travel Stress Free & Comfortably: How To Make Your Next Holiday Trip Easy Peasy

We may be expecting snow in some parts of the country this weekend, but in other parts of the world they're prepping for the onslaught of tourist season. With my own summer holiday only a matter of weeks away, I'm already picking my outfits out and stocking up on suntan lotion ready to spend a week doing little other than sipping cocktails by the pool. Although once you touch down at your chosen destination the joy is free-flowing, inevitably the journey to get there is somewhat troublesome. If you've ever rushed to the airport, forgotten something essential, spent the flight feeling uncomfortable or ruined the first few hours of your much anticipated holiday trying to find the car hire desk, then you need my top tips for ensuring you fly absolutely stress free. As someone that often travels a lot for work as well as pleasure, I feel I've got the process nailed and know how to minimise any discomfort or potential problems. So read on and be holiday ready...



The Perfect Un-Birthday Present: Urban Decay Meets Alice In Wonderland For A Very Special Collection

As a kid I can remember celebrating many of my un-birthdays in honour of the Mad Hatter; when your actual birthday is Christmas Eve, any excuse to transfer that notable date to another is a welcome one. Alice In Wonderland always had a big impact on my life, so much so that I properly dressed up as her for a ballet competition and came out with a trophy in hand. (I really need to dig out those photos!) The timeless tale of a young girl who loses her way seems to capture the imagination of us all, no matter our age, just in the way that makeup can. Urban Decay are well known for being a brand that pushes boundaries, celebrates the obscure and encourages you to experiment, so there's nothing more logical than an UD and Alice collaboration - and never more of a perfect time than just before the new Alice Through The Looking Glass hits cinema screens at the end of May. (Cough cough. I've seen the trailer though and it does look incredible.) This unexpected collaboration was announced only recently and my social media feeds went into mild hysteria after only seeing a few teasers; suffice to say this is going to be a big seller for Urban Decay and undoubtedly become a collectors item for years to come. So what of this little collection and how beautiful is it in real life? Quick answer: very.


Age Perfecting Skincare Made With The 'Herb Of Life': BareMinerals NEW Skin Longevity

There's so much great skincare launching at the moment it's hard to prioritise what's worth talking about and what can wait for a later time - but the huge amount of newness from Bare Minerals is too exciting not to share. Although they're predominately known for their makeup, the skincare offering from Bare Minerals has always been quite expansive; however, over the years it's become a little lacklustre and faded into the background, as other more exciting launches grabbed the attention of their potential customers. After attending the unveiling of their latest skincare portfolio it seems that's simply because they've been working on something groundbreaking and traveling to (almost) the ends of the earth to do so. This spring they're launching a whole new range of cleansers, moisturisers and facial treatments which I'm incredibly excited about - the hero of which is Skin Longevity. Enriched with the power of a plant that's only available on one tiny island, this lightweight serum has the potential to boost your skincare regime and leave you feeling (and looking) younger for longer. That's something we can all relate to, yes?



It's Not Just You: Ten Things We All Experience As Bloggers, No Matter Our Size

Being a blogger definitely has its perks, but like with any hobby or profession it also has its downfalls - the main one being the fact that you're working solo, some days almost in solitary confinement. Having a network of people around you that understand the trials and tribulations of the bloggersphere is incredibly important not only for your own sanity, but to give you a sounding board and place to turn for advice. As bloggers we're incredibly skilled at emanating an illusion of perfection, instagramming our super-smoothie breakfasts and our kick-ass sessions in the gym, but we're not so great at showcasing the realities of our day-to-day lives. (FYI it's ok that you're still in your pyjamas at gone midday; some of my best work is conducted from the comfort of my PJs, even if the courier that rings my doorbell looks at me with distain.) I've always made a concerted effort to talk about the pros and cons of working on your own, and within the bloggersphere, because I think it's incredibly important for us to collectively realise the issues we face daily are not just our own. Whenever I speak to other bloggers, it becomes incredibly clear that they also face the same daily challenges and frustrations, no matter how conventionally 'big' or 'small' they are. So in the effort of transparency, here are ten things we all experience - no matter our size or how long we've been doing this thing called blogging.



The Hot New Makeup Brand From Spain You'll Want To Spend All Your Money On: MINA (3INA)

New brands aren't hard to come by, but new brands that have a serious point of difference and something to get excited about are. I'm often presented with a new concept that in theory sounds fab, but in reality is a little short of the mark - it's surprisingly hard to discover newness that has longevity. However, in 2016 one of the most exciting brands I've seen in a long time is launching on British shores. MINA (or 3INA if you're looking for them on social, just to be confusing!) offers a 'bold new approach to beauty' via a huge portfolio of 'professional quality' makeup that is really rather lovely. Encompassing pretty much every product, shade and texture imaginable, they offer over 500 individual SKUs in their stores across Europe - and that's sure to expand over the coming months. What's incredibly interesting about MINA is that right now you can't actually buy anything online; you have to visit their stand-alone Covent Garden boutique to get up close and personal before you can buy. Part of a bigger strategy to encourage customers to touch and play with their makeup, it's somewhat refreshing amidst a portfolio of brands that just want to shift it as quickly as possible.



You've Been Using Dry Shampoo All Wrong: Top 5 Tips From A Hair Expert & Klorane

Greasy roots may be regularly showcased on the catwalks and used within high fashion shoots, but in reality they're unsightly and leave us feeling downtrodden. A little lift at the root has the power to transform our look and ensure we bounce down the street, happily swinging our hair behind us, so it's no surprise that dry shampoos have never been more of a bathroom staple than they are now. This once unloved corner of the hair care market was previously reserved only for camping holidays and blondes that didn't want to dry out their locks; however, with the increase in popularity of the festival, paired with our ever growing busy lives, these cans of powdery spray have become as much as staple in our routine as serums and hairsprays. Used not only to absorb excess oil in place of a wet hair wash, but increasingly as a styling product to add texture and hold to a look, it's safe to say that we're collectively a little bit addicted. Although these sprays can offer a real solution to a problem, their chalkiness can be problematic - as can their incorrect or overuse. If you've ever wondered how you can get the most out of your can of dry shampoo, help is at hand. I recently spent some time with French hair stylist (and Klorane ambassador) Caroline Bufalini, who totally re-educated me on how to use the spray. Basically, we're all doing it wrong so here are five top tips to ensure you're getting it right every time!


Discover Your New Spring Signature Scent: Three Unusual 'Green' Fragrances

Fragrance is something so utterly personal it's hard to write about it without feeling a little bit condescending. My tastes are somewhat unpredictable (evolving throughout the seasons, and often causing me to fall in love with a scent I wouldn't have thought my usual cup of tea at all,) but there's one thing that remains consistent: my preference for fresh, uplifting and energising fragrances that are underpinned by greenery. It's easy to pop into your local Boots or Perfume Shop and just have a spritz of what's new, but the majority of the time you'll be paying for the name and bottle - rather than the quality of the juice inside. As I get older my perfume desires need to be satisfied with something a little less 'off the shelf' and unique, really presenting a version of myself that few others could replicate. That's something you just can't get with a bottle of Britney! Although there are tonnes of fragrances to choose from, these three have stood out to me as a modern and refreshing take on the 'green' scents we see every spring; they're unique, timeless and a little bit special. Could they be your new springtime signature scent? 



Essie Celebrates Spring With A New Florida-Inspired Collection (PLUS WIN The Opportunity To Be Shot By Rankin!)

I've had an emotional attachment to Essie for as long as I can remember. During my younger years, when booking in for a fortnightly manicure seemed like the height of luxury, Essie's multi-coloured offering was always the polish that ended up on my talons; it was the brand I always turned to when I needed cheering up, and it was where I found my 'signature shade' that I continue to pick up year after year. (The classic burgundy red 'Luxedo', in case you're wondering.) I'm always intrigued to see what they have up their sleeves and what unexpected story or colour portfolio will be next - and with their newest offering they continue to surprise and delight in equal measure. To celebrate the dawn of spring, Essie have launched a six piece collection inspired by the Sunshine State of Florida - because nothing says holiday season more than sunshine, sandy beaches and the thought of Mickey Mouse on his surfboard. Rather than sticking to the usual pastels and neon tones of orange that you may expect from such a background story, Essie have chosen six muted brights that are actually wearable pretty much all year round. The mix of nude, pink and orange with the more unusual green, blue and lilac isn't necessarily what you'd expect of a spring-summer collection, but somehow it kind of works.



Would You Be Friends With A Red-Faced Woman? #ExperienceMyRosacea

If you saw someone in the street with a red and blotchy face, what would you think? That they were embarrassed, suffering from some kind of disease, or simply weren't looking after themselves properly? Shockingly, a recent nationwide study by dermatology experts Galderma has found that we're collectively less likely to believe a person with a reddened face would be married, have a lot of friends or held a managerial position at work than a fresh-faced counterpart, purely because of our perception of their skin. Rosacea is a common chronic inflammatory skin condition that's known to impact around 10% of people in the UK - but even with it affecting such a huge percentage of the population, it still carries with it negative connotations and a huge amount of stigma. Symptoms of rosacea include persistent facial redness, small visible blood vessels, bumps and pimples on the skin's surface, dryness, skin thickening and a burning or stinging sensation, but they can differ from person to person. Although the exact cause is unknown, there are certain triggers (including sunlight, changes in temperature, stress, exercise, alcohol, caffeine, spicy food and ingredients in certain skincare products) which can be controlled in order to manage the condition, but it's never fully possible to prevent a flare-up. As the symptoms associated with rosacea appear predominately on the face, the psychological impact can be far greater than the physical; those diagnosed with the condition are often impacted emotionally and experience social stigmas, such as those outlined above. So, would you make friends with a red-faced woman - or would you just pass her by?



Spring Clearouts: What To Do With Those Unwanted Beauty & Fashion Items

With the dawn of a new season brings the perfect opportunity to have a clear out and rid your cupboards of all those things you never use, no matter how much of a bargain you thought it was at the time. One of the worst things about living in a city, or being a millennial that can only just about afford an open plan apartment, is the severe lack of storage space; the fact that a storage cupboard becomes a real selling point of a property is testament to the fact that, as a whole generation, we're just incredibly tight on space. I have to regularly clear out my cupboards, drawers and wardrobe as there's simply no room for anything new - in fact it's pretty much a 'one in one out' approach, as otherwise I have stacks of what can only be described as 'stuff' piled up in every corner of every room. So if the spring season has inspired you to start sorting, or you want to celebrate the sunshine by opening the windows and clearing out the clutter, then here are five ways you can rid yourself of the bits and bobs you don't need while making a difference to someone else.



Effective Luxury At Its Prettiest: Neal's Yard Remedies Wild Rose Elixir

As you can imagine, a lot of things land on my desk on a daily basis. It's easy to get excited about a new lipgloss or nail varnish, but one of the categories that tends to get a bit neglected includes all those functional body products that do the job but just aren't that exciting. Simialrly, unless there's a real innovation or point of difference worth writing about, a lot of the skincare products that land on my doorstep get brushed to one side and saved for another day - but if there's one collection that proves grabbing my attention is all in the packaging, it's this. Neal's Yard are definitely a firm favourite of mine, offering truly effective products that are a pleasure to use, but I often forget about their little blue jars in favour of something a little more eye-catching. Formulated with beautiful ingredients, hand crafted in Britain and infused with delicious scents that really make the whole application process an experience, Neal's Yard are almost as well known for their Wild Rose Beauty Balm than anything else in their portfolio. This spring they've partnered with celebrated British artist Alice Shields to create a new look for the expanding Wild Rose collection, giving it a new lease of life while ensuring it's an utterly fabulous addition to any bathroom shelf.



Kylie Lip Kits: The Most Hyped Up Makeup Disaster Of Recent Times

Since the dawn of consumerism there's always been a much coveted product that, given enough hype, crazed men and women will go do almost anything to get their hands on. When I was growing up it was Cabbage Patch Kids, Tamagotchis and Teletubbies; it later evolved into iPhones, H&M designer dresses and anything with Beyonce's name on, but in 2016 the hottest thing you can have in your handbag is a Kylie Jenner lipgloss. If you've been living under a rock (or just not fussed about celebrity endorsed products or anything to do with the Kardashians,) then you may have failed to notice that the youngest of the clan has launched her very own twenty piece lip range which is causing quite the stir. Since it was launched last year, Kylie Cosmetics and the associated Kylie Lip Kits have been in such demand that there are stampedes every time the website is re-stocked; with an individual lipgloss being offered for upwards of £50.00 on eBay, it's no surprise that the unprecedented demand is creating an even more elevated level of buzz than would otherwise have occurred from anything with a Kardashian-Jenner name attached. Kylie is one clever girl, understanding that her trademark pout is the key to an absolute goldmine; her influence and the interest in her look will only last for a finite amount of time, so the key is to make as much money while the iron is hot. Although I've not tried the lipglosses myself, they're said to create the ultimate 'Kylie' look her fans dream of, while the texture and finish has impressed even the most anti-Kardashian of beauty fans. However, something is going fundamentally wrong up at Kylie HQ and her empire could be about to fall apart if issues aren't rectified soon. Although you can barely miss the hype around these little tubes of gloss, it's also increasingly hard to miss the negativity and endless complaints that are popping up all across social media. Kylie, it seems, didn't attend Business 101 and doesn't understand the basic issues of quality control and customer service.


The Smallest & Most Affordable FOREO Cleansing Brush Ever: NEW Luna Play

The days of manually using our hands to cleanse our faces are somewhat numbered; although I love a muslin cloth and a manual workout, I'm also an absolute advocate for electronic cleansing devices which thoroughly rid the skin of dirt and grime. Although they can be a significant investment in your regime, the benefit that these little gadgets can bring to your skin is comparable to using your GHDs vs towel drying. (Sure, you end up with more or less the same result but it's just not as polished!) FOREO are a multi-award winning Swedish brand that have revolutionised the way in which we look after our faces, all since they launched only three years ago in 2013. Their approach to wellbeing and beauty is refreshing, understanding the increasing demands of a modern consumer and trying to meet those needs in a revolutionary way. They say:  "It is FOREO's responsibly to lead with innovation, to be non-conformist, free thinking and challenging of the status quo and the traditional approach in beauty." One of the ways in which they've achieved that is via their iconic LUNA facial cleansing brushes, which remove 99.5% of dirt and blemish causing impurities. These handheld devices feature a unique silicone design that is 35 times more hygienic than other bristle-based brushes, as there's nowhere for grime and bacteria to get stuck; they're easy to use, easy to clean and easy to love - so it's no surprise that they unveiled yet another addition to the collection last week, which is quite possibly the most exciting yet!



Florida Isn't Just For Kids: What To Consider Before Booking The Trip Of A Lifetime

Certain holidays are designed to be relaxing, rejuvenating and rehabilitating; others are designed to make you feel like a kid again, encourage a permanent smile and leave you feeling like you've squeezed an awful lot into a relatively short amount of time. Although Florida has a reputation for being the ultimate family destination, in recent years it's seen a resurgence in popularity amongst adults looking for a sunny few weeks away doing something a bit different. Late last year I spent two weeks out in the Sunshine State fulfilling a lifelong dream and absorbing everything it had to offer; from the obvious parks and experiences, to the malls and mini golf, with an excursion or two to spot crocodiles thrown in for good measure, it definitely was a holiday I'll never forget. With flights and tickets to the globally famous theme parks being anything but cheap, there's a lot to consider and plan before you step on the plane and sit back for the nine hour flight it takes to land on the other side of the Atlantic. If you're thinking about taking the plunge and taking a trip over to Florida, or just need some tips before you leave, then I've rounded up all the things you need to consider before embarking on a trip of a lifetime.



Barry M's New Coconut Enriched Nail Polish: To Hydrate & Get You In The Holiday Mood

After me having a little moan about how boring the nail varnish market had become, it seems I'm quickly having to eat my own words. There's a definite trend towards formulas that enrich the nail, rather than focusing on new colors and textures, that offers up a genuine benefit and reason for varnish addicts to continue parting with their cash. Already this year we've had Nails Inc's 'anti ageing' polish (full review here) that promises to help strengthen the nail and counteract the often overlooked signs of ageing, but now Barry M are attempting to cut their own piece of the pie with these new Coconut Infusion polishes. Available in nine shades (four nude and five colours,) the formula is enriched with both coconut oil and coconut water to gentle hydrate and nourish the nail, as well as Vitamins B & C to strengthen the nail over time. Disappointingly the polish doesn't smell of coconuts (although I wouldn't advise you to spent time sniffing to confirm that!) but it does provide a fabulous hit of colour that glides over the nail to leave a gel-like and heard-wearing finish.



Beautiful Skincare Solutions For Every Age: L'Occitane Peony Enriched 'Pivone Sublime' (PLUS WIN THE ENTIRE COLLECTION)

A generation of young women are often left bewildered when looking for skincare. While in your teens you know exactly what you need to shop for, desires being driven by a requirement to overcome spots and teenage oil production; when you reach your thirties and forties those inevitable fine lines start to set in, so we rush out to stock up on all the anti-ageing promises we can find to keep wrinkles at bay. However, between these two milestones there's a huge number of women not really knowing what to shop for, but knowing what they want to achieve - radiant, healthy looking skin that's hydrated and smooth. There's a definite trend emerging for skincare that's targeted to these 'lost years', offering busy women a solution and cutting through the noise of anti-ageing creams they know they're not quite ready for - and L'Occitane are leading the way with their Pivoine Sublime collection, which is uniquely enriched with the power of peony.



#LetsTalkAboutIt: Rosacea (The Little Known Redness-Causing Skin Condition)

GUEST POST: WRITTEN BY LEX FROM www.talontedlex.co.uk
April is Rosacea Awareness Month, so I wanted to do an introductory post on the condition and talk about effect it has had on my life. I have always been a pale person that flushes easily; I would always be bright red at the end of a PE lesson, if I got angry, upset, or after a hot shower. It was always something I was aware of, but didn’t pay too much attention to, as I saw it as a minor annoyance and nothing more. But then I left home and went to university. My diet changed, my lifestyle changed, my personality changed - I felt very stressed by the social aspect of meeting new people and trying to impress them, and as a result my skin started to change. When I flushed it became more intense and would take longer to fade; my skin felt itchy, warm and tight (similar to heat rash); I developed bumps and pustules on my cheeks; I also had seborrheic dermatitis as an accompaniment which meant that my skin was scaly and flaky. It was as attractive as it sounds! I went from someone who only wore eyeliner on special occasions to someone who was panicking and plastering her face with thick concealer in an attempt to hide the redness. (Spoilers: putting thick concealer on bumpy, scaly skin does NOT HELP.)



Be The First To Know About FOREO's Latest Innovation: Beauty Is Fun; Let's Play!

Beauty for me is about having fun. It’s about embracing innovation, challenging the norm and pushing the boundaries of what you thought possible; it’s about shaking up your regular regime, adopting influences from around the globe and always looking for the next big thing. One of the brands that personifies that ideal is FOREO, the multi-award winning Swedish brand that have revolutionised the way in which we look after our faces since they launched in 2013. In less than three years they’ve achieved global success and capitalised on their LUNA devices by continually evolving the concept, as well as launching innovations in the eye care and dental categories. I’m already a big fan of the original LUNA (a silicone skincare device that channels pulsations in various intensity levels, for facial cleansing and anti-ageing simultaneously) and the newer IRIS Eye Massager (read my original review here) which eliminates dark circles, but this April they’re unveiling an even more exciting launch - and I’m bringing you the news first!


Makeup In A Stick: Three Great Handbag Friendly Base Products You Need To Try

Believe it or not, I'm already starting to think about summer beauty regimes and holiday-appropriate makeup. It may still be a little drizzly and definitely not just-a-light-jacket weather yet, but we're creeping closer and closer to that time of year where convenience and practicality outweighs lust. Makeup compressed into a stick format is nothing new (we've had all kinds of innovations from brands in the last couple of years,) but it is pushing the boundaries and continually satisfying my need for something I can pop in my bag with ease. Stick products are not only a space saver and ensure you've got even more liquid allowance at the airport, but they help to speed up my morning routine and minimise mess. If there are no liquid spillages or dustings of blush all over my freshly cleaned dress, then that's a bonus all round. Here are three current favourites that I've been using together on mornings when I want my skin to look understated and natural...



Animal Testing, Chinese Markets, Reconstructed Skin & L'Oreal Paris

Despite a change in legislation in March 2013 that made it illegal to sell animal-tested cosmetics in Europe, even if the testing was conducted outside Europe, animal testing remains one of the hottest topics in beauty. With so many grey areas, confusing loopholes and different legalities surrounding practices outside of the EU, it's no surprise that it remains one of the issues my readers are most concerned with. The 2013 ban was the culmination of a vigorous and long-standing public campaign against animal-tested cosmetics (critically not just for finished products but also for their ingredients.) Until this point (after a 2009 update to the law) tests were banned in Europe, but products tested elsewhere could still be imported; from 2013 onwards no product or ingredient that has been tested on animals will be able to be sold in the UK, but crucially those developed before 2013 could still have been tested on animals at some point. Further confusion erupts around the fact that although companies can’t sell animal-tested cosmetics in Europe, they can continue to test cosmetics on animals outside Europe and sell them in other markets. Many large emerging territories, including the hugely controversial Chinese market, are still demanding that cosmetics be tested on animals in the 'interests of safety'. So your favourite lipstick brand may be refusing to test their ingredients or finished products on animals within the European Union, but if they want to sell in China their products will have to be tested before they're able to be put on sale.



Professional Looking Brows In A Jiffy: NEW Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Brow Gel

You may think that I get most excited about a new lipstick launch, or a revolutionary new eye cream - but truth be told, the products that often get me more in a tizz are those that are really quite functional. It's the everyday essentials that we rely on to keep us looking fab, but others probably wouldn't even notice, that are most valuable; for me, that includes a great brow product that will help me groom those two hairy bits above my eyes to perfection. Although I've now got semi-perminent brows thanks to Karen Betts (read my full write-up on my treatment here,) I still like to groom and add colour to my look on days where I'm wearing a heavy amount of makeup. There's something about a full and angled brow that just perks up a look, frames your face and gives you that Kim Kardashian strut... And the new Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Brow Gel makes that even easier to achieve. These little pots of colour feature a unique multitasking gel-wax formula that can take you from naturally groomed to bold and contoured in seconds; no makeup qualification required. 



#LetsTalkAboutIt: Living With Autism & Social Anxiety (World Autism Awareness Week)

Being autistic means having a brain that's wired differently; it can make someone see, hear and feel the world in a unique way and sometimes that’s incredibly overwhelming. It’s like all the senses are firing all at once, with no filter; it’s like getting too much information at any one point and not necessarily knowing how to process that. Everyone on the autism spectrum is different: some find it difficult to say what they need, and how they feel, while others find it hard to understand people and how society expects them to behave. Sometimes it can mean people are skilled in things that others aren’t, but sometimes it means the things everyone else finds easy are the most unbearable challenges you can imagine. My sister is autistic, like around 700,000 other people in the UK. She wasn’t diagnosed until she reached her twenties, meaning she’s spent the majority of her life suffering immeasurably but not being able to effectively communicate that to those around her. Although 99.5% of people in the UK have heard of autism, only 16% of autistic people think the public understand autism in a meaningful way; awareness is not translating into understanding and it’s about time that changed.



Currently Obsessed With: Facial Exfoliating Pads (A Quick & Easy Way To Achieve Radiance)

When it comes to skincare innovations, a lot of them seem like a good idea at the time but don't last longer than an initial few weeks of excitement. As a result of my time poor morning routine, I tend to stick with what I know and what I have time for, rather than embarking on a Korean-esque approach that involves fifteen daily steps. However, when it comes to facial exfoliating pads I'm well and truly obsessed: it's an additional step that I'm more than happy to invest in, knowing it makes a real difference to my routine. So what are these odd little circular pads and how do they work? In the most general of terms, facial exfoliating pads are pre-soaked sheets of cloth that are saturated with natural acids and exfoliating ingredients; when swiped over your face after cleansing, the formulas help to not only remove any last traces of product, but gently exfoliate the skin's surface. Rather than using an abrasive scrub that could actually rip, irritate or damage the skin, gentle acids help to slough away dead and dull skin cells over a number of days to reveal the brighter and fresher skin beneath. It's a step that can be integrated daily or used as a treatment a few times a week, but it can be used to keep skin looking and feeling fresh, while ensuring the other products you use penetrate deeper and get to work more efficiently. The bonus is it takes only a few seconds to swipe these over skin, plus there are a plethora of products to choose from; I've been putting three different brands to the test over the past weeks, so here's how they've been standing up...

1. Radical Skincare Age-Defying Exfoliating Pads (£48.00 for 60 pads) 
These pre-moistened pads are packed full of Witch Hazel, Coffee and Grape Seed Extracts, as well as glycolic and fruit acids, to gently scrub away dull skin and accelerate cell turnover. When used every evening before applying my night cream, skin is left significantly smoother, firmer and more supple; over time the results have been a clearer and fresher complexion, a reduction in blemishes and confidence that my overnight treatments are working even more effectively. These were the first exfoliating pads that convinced me it was a step I could get on-board with, leaving my skin feeling fab in around a week; although they're pricey, each pot holds a two month supply and is a lot cheaper than a facial.

2. Avon Anew Clinical Advanced Resurfacing Peel Pads (£15.00 for 30 pads) 
Including a patented Multi Acid 5 Complex (basically a mix of glycolic, hyaluronic, TPA, oxalic and salicylic acids,) these pads are gentle, soothing and pleasant to use. Although the experience with these isn't as luxurious as with Radical (and they smell a little more clinical,) the affordability makes these an absolute winner. The pads are quite thin and the liquid they're saturated in is a little tingly when applied to the skin, but for the price point you really can't complain. They've left my skin feeling clear and fresh, so it's a great way to introduce yourself to the concept and see if it can make a significant impact on the texture of your skin.

3. First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads (£28.00 for 60 pads) 
They say that after using this product "your skin will look clearer, and the visibility of pores will be reduced; the same can be said for wrinkles and fine lines, which will quickly become nothing more than a distant memory." Although that's really rather an OTT description and my experience hasn't lived up to their claims, these are fabulous pads that are saturated with lactioc and glycolic acids to gently slough away the dull build-up of dead cells. Rather unusually cucumber and gooseberry help to tone the skin, while lemon peel helps inject radiance; they're even apparently suitable for sensitive skin, making these a universal treat no matter your skin issues. You get a lot of pads for your money, plus they smell lovely.

Have you tried facial exfoliating pads? Are you tempted to give any of these three a go?

Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.  

The Five Beauty Stores You Have To Check Out In New York City

I adore New York. There's something about the edgy coolness and effortlessly chic atmosphere that leaves me feeling like it's my second home, wanting to go back as soon as I touch down in an inevitably rainy London. Although it's known as a hub of eateries, shops and art, one of the lesser known sides of the iconic Manhattan skyline is the vast number of beauty stores hiding on practically every corner. Us Brits may get excited at the mere thought of a Sephora store, but in NYC there's so much more than that to tickle your fancy; if you want to discover alternative brands, secret boutiques and experiences to leave your inner beauty goddess satisfied, then it's worth venturing further afield than Times Square. Here are the five beauty stores you simply *have* to check out the next time you're in New York - and the reasons why they're so special.



It's Time For A Hoola-Day: Benefit's New Lightweight Face & Body Bronzing Gels

Undoubtedly one of the most popular bronzing products of a generation, Benefit's Hoola has absolutely cemented its position as a makeup icon. The chocolately-rich tone seems to suit practically every complexion, helping to offer a gentle sunkissed glow all year round. Although I may dip in and out of bronzers from a multitude of brands, Hoola is always the one I inevitably run back to when I need to warm up my look or add a little glow. Cleverly capitalising on the success of this award-winning little brown box, Benefit have launched a whole Hoola collection that ensures you can looked naturally bronzed from top to toe with minimum fuss. Including 'Dew The Hoola' liquid matte bronzer and 'Zero Tanlines' body tint, as well as the most beautiful bronzing brush I've ever seen, together these lightweight gel formulas over an incredibly easy and natural way to add warmth as we step into spring. 


The Beauty World Is Global. Brands Need To Understand & React To That.

We've never been more connected than we are now. In our digital age we can discover what's going on half way around the world at the click of a button; we can instantly see through the eyes of someone that we've never even met via a Periscope live stream; breaking news no longer hits us via our television screens, but on our Twitter feed. Information has never been more fluid and we've never been so globally unified towards a common goal - whether that's against something as serious terrorist activity, or throwaway as Kim Kardashian's latest naked selfie. From a fashion point of view, that means we can translate what's happening on a Hollywood red carpet within minutes; from a beauty perspective it means we're more aware of product news and innovation, even if it means there's no possibility of it even reaching our shores in the distant future. As travel becomes even more affordable, and worldwide shipping becomes increasingly possible, there are no longer the barriers there were once in place to stop products and ideas amalgamating into one. Although visiting a Sephora store will always have a special kind of appeal, realistically the majority of brands and products are now available across the globe - or at least can be shipped there with very little effort. I've recently returned from a trip to Paris with L'Oreal, as part of their inaugral Skin Summit, where they opened their labs and technologies to influencers from across the world. Although the whole experience was fascinating and helped me to understand how much time, effort, technology and money goes into developing a simple face cream, one of the key things that kept my brain on edge was the ongoing insistence of localised product launches.

L'Oreal, like many other household names (Unilever, P&G, GSK, Johnson & Johnson), operates in every market across the globe. They've historically understood that the needs of women change somewhat dependent upon their location, particularly as cultural influences play a huge part in determining our areas of concern. (China is obsessed with smog; Korea is concerned with brightening; France is all about a pharmacy approach, whereas in Britain we like to keep it simple.) However, as European markets in particular look to our Asian counterparts for inspiration and innovation, the gaps are becoming less and less prominent; not only are we using them as inspiration for the creation of new UK-only products, but we're actually importing them directly via sites including BeautyMart and Cult Beauty. Global innovation is increasingly accessible and universal concerns are becoming increasingly apparent; although pollution has traditionally been a worry of built-up and smog-filled Asian cities, as we start to understand the impact of this on skin condition and ageing we're progressively becoming as obsessed as our Chinese counterparts. Micellar water and sheet masks may have seemed like an obscene purchase only five years ago, but now they're as normal as a hydrating lipstick. We're moving, merging and uniting into one global entity - and in my opinion this is only going to become more and more apparent over the next five years.

There are some cracking launches coming up from L'Oreal over the next six months, but frustratingly not all of them will be available in the UK. Unfortunately for us, their focus is still very much on creating localised products that meet the needs of (men and) women in specific countries, rather than understanding that we could all do with a little piece of that pie. Dullness is a pretty universal concern, so it's no surprise that brightening products are increasing in popularity; L'Oreal's Bright Reveal moisturiser and exfoliating pads help to slough away dull and dead skin from the surface, while offering SPF30 and hydration, but they're only available in the US. Not only is this a huge missed opportunity for them to bring brightening products to the masses, but if and when they do decide to launch a similar product in the UK, the perception will inevitably be that they've simply copied other brands rather than identifying a trend and creating products to meet that need. Similarly, a whole range of Hydra Fresh Genius pre-skincare essences have been launched in Asian markets as they're just as likely to use one of these after cleansing as we are a traditional moisturiser. Although essences are still a new concept to us, the ones that are available are often so expensive that they're prohibitive to the masses - stalling a trend which could otherwise have exploded. Most frustrating for me is the launch of the UV Perfect City Mist, a lightweight and non-sticky SPF30 spray which can be spritzed over the face (even on top of makeup) multiple times a day to overcome the negative impact of the sun's rays and pollution. It's what we've been crying out for and could potentially be the answer to getting women to use SPF all year round - rather than just reaching for it when we're on our holidays - but sorry folks, there are no plans to launch it over here any time soon.

I totally understand the complexities of taking a product developed for a non-European market and trying to slot it into an already expansive launch plan, but as both a consumer and beauty writer it's extremely frustrating that a powerhouse like L'Oreal can't get their ducks in a line and give the consumer what it wants.  As far as skincare is concerned, I have a perception that L'Oreal just keeps bashing out another face cream that's not much different from the last, when realistically their labs are developing some of the most innovative and groundbreaking concepts in the world. We just don't see them. I can't even remember the last time I covered a L'Oreal skincare launch (if ever) because I just don't get to experience anything that exciting as a UK-based blogger (and more importantly consumer) or stumble across anything really worth telling you about. If my Twitter and Instagram comments are anything to go by, you want to see these innovations too, and are a little bit underwhelmed by the products on shelf from these massive brands; we're turning more and more to boutique, pharmacy and niche brands to fulfill our need for something more than the norm, and the big boys such as L'Oreal are missing out. Although they have some of the best people working in the labs, and some of the most exciting advances in technology, it seems the UK gets a hard deal when it comes to benefitting from that - all the good stuff appears to make it's way to either America or China, leaving a huge gap in the middle of all us lot that just want affordable, fun, innovative and effective skincare. Yes, you can pick up a face cream and be somewhat overwhelmed with choice, but when it comes to anything more than that, you're better off buying a flight out of here and seeing what other markets have to offer. Having spent a couple of days with some of the most interesting people in beauty, it's just incredibly frustrating to know what's going on behind closed doors and not being able to celebrate that. Beauty is global. You just have to click onto Instagram and be able to see what's going on thousands of miles away, so it's about time brands started to be a little more reactive to our ever changing interests - rather than delving out more of the same.

What's your opinion on the lack of 'global beauty'? Does it frustrate you that you can't get your hands on products sooner, or are you not bothered that the UK seems to be getting a hard deal? 

Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.  


Keeping Skincare Simple, But Still Boosting The Results: Introducing 'The Hero Project' #BeautyOnAMission

Skincare routines can be confusing, as well as expensive. Every day we're awash with information about a new launch, revolutionary new concept, additional concern or way of perfecting our complexions - but many of it isn't really necessary to everyone on a daily basis. It's easy to get swept up in the hype of a new product, or overload our faces with ten different layers in the search for everlasting youth, but realistically sometimes it's just a tweak or two that will do the job in the way you need. So what if there was almost an antidote to this confusion, frustration and sense of overwhelm? ‘The Hero Project’ is a new brand that aims to provide just that. Behind this new concept is a pioneering UK-based skincare team with over 100 years of collective beauty industry knowledge; their mission was to come to the rescue of millions of women continually left disappointed by their beauty products. The team have been scouring the world over the last three years (taking in information from e-commerce sites, review hubs and blogs,) for 5-star beauty reviews so they can genuinely understand what women want - and what they don’t. Starting off with a simple two piece offering (including Hyasoft Instant Moisture Boost £19.00 and Glow Drops £21.00) the objective of the brand is to provide products that are easy to integrate into an existing routine and mix with other products - only make the overall result better. How refreshing.



#LetsTalkAboutIt: Lady Gardens. To Shave Or Not To Shave, That Is The Question!

The social, cultural and historical influences that affect the choice of personal grooming techniques are vast. Deciding whether or not to opt for a little trim, embrace the full bush or wax it off entirely (a la Sex and the City) is all down to personal preference, but our obsession with pubic hair (or lack of it) is nothing new. Statues from ancient Egypt and Greece reflected the ideal of the time of a hairless, feminine body - the presence of pubic hair on women was considered to be ‘uncivilized’ and something only fashioned by the lower classes. Women in Ancient Middle Eastern and African cultures also underwent various forms of pubic hair removal - including shaving and plucking, ouch - and historians note that while pubic hair removal was not widely practiced during the Middle Ages, some European women removed pubic hair to avoid body lice; interestingly it was more of a functional task than one driven by sexual connotations or fashion. So where does our current obsession with all things hairy come from, and how has a whole industry been born of a touch of fluff that’s essentially there to protect us from friction during rumpy-pumpy?

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