OOTD: Spots & Sparkles (And A Leather Jacket That Goes With Everything)

I'm getting quite into my outfit posts. When I first started it was an odd sensation, standing in the middle of the street letting someone snap your photo and not really knowing where to look, but over the last few weeks I've definitely gotten into my stride - and developed my standard poses! It helps when you think that you're never going to see any of those curious faces again, that the streets of London are often so full of obscure goings on that a generic looking woman having her picture taken is really not going to stand out as the most memorable thing of the day. My outfits have been received so well, and you guys have been so positive, that it's definitely worth that slightly awkward hour in the street. So here's another!



Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth With Patisserie De Bain's NEW Rhubarb & Custard Scent

A super sweet tooth is nothing to be ashamed of; give me a bag of pick n mix over a gourmet meal or green juice any day! There's something nostalgic and incredibly comforting about the scent of our favourite childhood confectionery, especially as our sense of smell has been proven to be a powerful force in the formation of memory and emotion. For me there's nothing more comforting than the subtle scent of Palma Violets or breathing in the aroma of a Lemon Bon Bon, which is why I'm a little obsessed with Patisserie De Bain and all the sweet body treats they have on offer. (I even named their hand creams my 'product of the week' back in 2015!) Not only are their formulations a pleasure to use, but they've managed to capture everything we love about candy shops without presenting a range that airs on the side of childish and sickly sweet; it's a grown up way to celebrate our love for all things sugary - but without the calories!



My Engagement Story

So, the big news right now is that I'm soon to be changing up my name to Mrs Hayley Hall! As strange as that sounds, I'm incredibly excited for Josh and I to enter this next chapter of our lives together and to see what the next few decades have in store. To all of you that have expressed your congratulations and left kind comments, thank you; it means a great deal and has made this period even more special for us. As a moment in time many of us look to as a memory to be cherished forever, an engagement in reality is quite strange and surreal: here I am with a ring on my finger, a pile of brochures and an email addressed to a registrar, but it doesn't quite seem like I'm looking towards one of the biggest events that will happen in my life. Right now it feels like I've simply got a big old sparkler on my hand and I'm having fun organising an almighty party for our loved ones. We've cracked open the champagne and told the tale oodles of times, I've shared snaps on my Instagram account and we've received so many lovely cards and gifts, so I thought it was about time I shared my story here - both as a way to remember it for years to come and to let you into an area of my life that's set to become all consuming in the following months. So here it is...



The White Company Launch A Capsule Skincare Collection (But Is It Worth The Price Tag?)

Overpriced pillowcases, fluffy socks and candles are my guilty pleasure - and there's no better place to seek them out than The White Company. It's become a destination in its own right because of the purity of the colour scheme and the quality of the items within, but until now they've kept their focus very much to homewares. I was surprised to find out that the founder of The White Company was originally a beauty journalist and therefore incredibly passionate about skincare, so it makes complete sense that this year the brand are trying their hand at launching a capsule range of beauty products that very much fit within their ethos of minimalistic and aspirational shopping. Rather interestingly they've partnered with Deciem (who really know their stuff - they're the people behind The Ordinary, Niod, Hylamide, Fountain and Hand Chemistry) to bring this collection to life; if you want the industry to stand up and take notice, then these are undoubtedly the guys you'd turn to for help. Using their expertise to develop a collection that consists of a cleansing balm, night oil, moisturiser, concentrated serum and eye treatment, the result is a five piece line-up that provides a great basis for any skincare regime. But is it worth the hype, and more importantly the price?



How To Ensure Healthy Kissable Lips All Year Long (While Preventing Those Cold Sores From Appearing!)

Our lips are an invaluable resource at conveying emotion and helping us to be our most confident; scientists have even proven that the size and composition of our lips has a direct relationship with how attractive we're deemed to be. Having a healthy, radiant, powerful pout can mean the difference between feeling on top of the world and feeling like you'd rather stay in bed - that's why we're collectively so obsessed with the power of a great red lipstick! However, it's easy to become complacent when it comes to your lips (and neglect them in favour of anything from your under-eye circles to your cuticles,) as we don't often notice there's an issue until its too late. Whether that's dryness, irritation, lack of plumpness (or god forbid a coldsore!) by the time our bodies tell us somethings up we're forced to go into full-on war room mode; so what if there were things you could do to make a long-term difference, ensuring your pout was always preened and perfect? Here are five of my top tips to ensure your lips are healthy and kissable all year long.



Why You Don't Need To Spend A Fortune On Skincare: 'Own Brand' Is The Secret (Very Effective) Option

Those little bottles of serum and pots of face cream have never been as sexy, glamorous and aspirational as they are right now. Historically skincare has always been the dull side of the beauty industry, with the focus very much being on game-changing makeup or instantly transformative haircare, but over the last decade our opinions have been transformed. As we collectively seek out ways to ensure our complexion remains radiant, healthy and strong throughout our lives (and the focus very much being on keeping those signs of ageing at bay for as long as possible,) skincare provides the tools we need to make a difference. Previous generations may have relied on soap, water and a little pot of cold cream, but now we’re turning to the most advanced science we can find - and integrating upwards of eight steps into our morning regime. Like with anything us consumers can get our hands on, the assumption is that ‘you get what you pay for’ and we should all be turning to super expensive lotions and skipping the budget potions altogether. However, if you know what to look for and how to shop your product portfolio doesn’t have to set you back the price of a designer handbag.



Where Did All The Opinions Go?

Back in 2010 when I started documenting my love of makeup online, bloggers were all about the opinions. We reveled in being able to share our loves and loathes, provide honest feedback on our purchases and discuss issues that were important to us; opinions were at the heart of the bloggersphere and absolutely what made it stand out amongst the run-of-the-mill and diluted glossiness of magazines. Collectively we had turned against mainstream media as we couldn't necessarily trust the opinions and edits presented to us, especially when big brands and mega budgets were having an increasingly negative impact on the information between the covers. Bloggers were honest, transparent and not afraid to share exactly what they thought; a week didn't go by without one of us getting a 'cease and desist' letter from a brand that didn't like what we had to say, and were using their legal teams to scare us into censoring opinions. It was brilliant. It was wonderful. It was a turning point in time. Not everyone loved the same things or had the same opinions on a new launch, but that was ok - because that was a reflection of what was happening in the real world.



New In This Week: All The Beauty Bits I'm Excited To Try

It's the same every year. The first few months are a bit dry when it comes to exciting launches, but all of a sudden it's like the beauty industry wakes up after a winter kip and starts delivering little nuggets of brilliance. We have to get the first few weeks out of the way, dodge the pinkness of Valentines and focus on the other side of Mother's Day before the good stuff starts happening - but already we're starting to see little trickles of sunlight. Thankfully there are hot bits landing that are worth knowing about, some launches that you'll be coveting and collections that will leave you wondering whether you can justify yet another one of those... These are the ten pieces I'm excited to share with you and think you'll be wanting to add to your shopping list this weekend. You've been warned!



Tale As Old As Time: Just Look At The L'Oreal Beauty & The Beast Makeup Collection!

I know I'm 34 years old, but I'm just not over the phenomenon that is Beauty and the Beast just yet. The original was released back in 1991 when I was barely nine years old, but I can still remember the songs practically word-for-world and continue to dream of having a dress as beautiful (and yellow) as Belle's in that classic scene; there's something about the emotion that's attached to such a tale that still puts a smile on my face. Skip forward over 25 years and this iconic story is about to get a new lease of live via the live action version, starring our very own Hermoine Granger. (My inner Potter-nerd is probably happier about that than it should be.) It's not even due to hit cinemas for another month, but the merchandise has already started to go into overdrive to tickle our tastebuds and get us in the mood for the big event. Although I may be too old for plastic dolls and princess dresses, I'm definitely not past the stage of wanting a piece of Beauty and the Beast lipstick - so when I discovered that L'Oreal were launching a 14-piece collection to celebrate the launch, I almost peed myself with excitement. The only downside is that it's exclusively available in Italy, but thanks to an Amazon Prime account I was able to buy it and ship the collection over in a couple of days! Hoorah!



Don't Worry About It: 8 Beauty 'Mistakes' You Shouldn't Be Getting In A Flap Over

Every single day us women are told off for the beauty 'mistakes' we're making and unsurprisingly can be left feeling like a naughty schoolchild (or a female failure) as a result. There are so many beauty rules and regulations set by the media (including us bloggers!) but realistically none of us will ever be able to follow them to the letter - be it time, energy, understanding or finances preventing us from doing so. Although there are certain things I would recommend either avoiding or adopting, there's also a tonne of stuff that's really not worth getting in a flap over; you're not going to ruin your body if you skip a step, forget to take off your makeup effectively or use a touch of sulphate-enriched shampoo on your head, but it is important to be aware and informed so you can choose what's right for you. Here are the eight 'mistakes' many of us make, and why you shouldn't get in a flap over them.



OOTD: Metallic, Stripes, Velvet & Googly Eyes

Although I definitely have my own personal style (classic pieces, swish handbags and midi-length dresses) I'm trying to think out of the box in an attempt to prove I'm not quite over the hill and resigned to Wallis just yet. (Nothing against Wallis, just a metaphorical signal of getting old and not fitting in Zara any more!) For the past couple of months I've been living in jeans and jumpers on rotation, which gets a bit boring after a while - especially when I only seem to buy jumpers in cream, grey or black. I've definitely been trying to spice up my wardrobe with a few pieces that make a statement, or rediscover old favourites that I'd forgotten how much I loved; the weather is so changeable right now, meaning I'm never wearing the right thing, but embracing colour and texture is a great way of having fun with your outfits without jumping into spring fashion a month too early. That's what I did during an overnight stay at The Rosewood...



Supercharged High Pigment Lip Colours That Are OH-SO COMFY: Burt's Bees NEW Lipsticks

There's no doubt I'm a lipstick lover. Adding a powerful pout to an otherwise low key outfit can perk you up and help you to look 'finished', while a glide of an understated nude shade just helps to convey that feeling of effortless elegance. However, there is a downside to wearing a touch of lippie: my lips tend to become dry, uncomfortable and unable to take more than a second layer of colour. Last week I wore a fabulous Kat Von D number in a statement red shade, but after a few hours the colour had bled and my lips were feeling dryer than the dessert during a heatwave; what looks great when you step out the door doesn't always keep feeling fab when you just want to go about your business. Burt's Bees have always been a brand I've had a lot of love for (and probably the brand I'm most loyal to, simply because their lipbalms are in every pocket, drawer and handbag in my life) because their formulations are full of goodness while ensuring such a comfortable finish. They've dabbled in colour before with the launch of their lip crayons (which I loved and wrote about here,) but this springtime they're taking that one step further with the launch of full on lipsticks in 18 covetable shades - all of which provide fabulous pigment and a super comfortable finish.



Wanderlusting: My Dream Travel Destinations 2017

When the sunshine seems so far away from us it's the perfect time to start planning those trips and mind-mapping your ultimate destinations. I love everything about traveling (from the pre-trip prep and airport shopping experience, to sitting on the plane with a guidebook organising what you're going to do in the coming days,) and I've definitely got the bug right now; my list of places to visit just keeps on getting longer, not helped by the number of travel blogs I keep discovering and salivating over. There's so much more to the world than the Costa Del Sol and New York City, and I want a part of it. I'm fortunate enough to have the time, finances and flexibility to travel much more in my thirties than I ever have before, so I'm making a concerted effort to see the world and discover as many amazing places as I can get through - starting with these five that I'm just itching to fly off to. 



Is The Dupe & Copycat Beauty Market Waning? Are We Over Cheaper Copies Of Firm Favourites?

For the best part of the past five years, we've been collectively obsessed with the dupe. Us beauty bloggers have undoubtedly been fueling the trend, promising readers that the latest eyeshadow palette to land on our doorstep is a brilliant copy of something four times the price, but the market has also been driven by technological improvements that allow us to buy into the same quality for a fraction of the previous cost. When I was growing up the only 'budget' beauty brands were Collection 2000 and Boots 17, both offering a plethora of products to get experimental with but the quality wasn't there; as soon as we could upgrade to something a touch more glamorous, we would. Skip forward a few decades and those (rebranded) names are not only offering far superior quality and in some instances competing with some of the most luxury cosmetics available, but our high streets have been somewhat revolutionised. Names including MUA, Makeup Revolution, Lottie London, NYX, Freedom, GOSH, Miss Sporty, Model's Own and Sleek are proving that you don't have to spend a fortune to fill your makeup bag with greatness - but they're also collectively providing us with dupes of everything from Urban Decay Naked palettes and Kylie liquid lipsticks, to NARS blushers and Bobbi Brown highlighters. For a moment there we got a bit excited, but are we over it? Is 2017 the year that we're finally bored of the dupe and we start trading up for something we can treasure?



Why I'm Proud To Be A 30+ Blogger

If you were to ask someone on the street to describe a blogger, their response would probably be along the lines of "a teenager in their bedroom discussing lipgloss, One Direction or what they've just bought from Topshop." There's such an (incorrect) assumption that blogging is a young girls game, when in actual fact digital platforms provide a democratic platform for those of all ages, genders, interests and locations to share their passions and opinions. Right now there's a revolution happening in the bloggersphere, where women aged thirty and over are growing in number while proving the incredible value they can offer to both reader and brand - and I'm incredibly proud to be part of it. About 18 months ago I started to make a concerted effort to connect with other bloggers that were also feeling a bit out of the loop and almost 'too old' for this digital game, but quickly it became clear that we were collectively smashing it out of the park and proving that blogging really isn't just for the teens. As a result, my blogging collective Thirty Plus was born and we now have over 700 amazing sites proving how much great content is out there for those in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond. (Shameless plug there: if you're not a member already and want to be part of something awesome, find out more and sign up via the website.) As we hit our stride and start to plan some incredible collaborations with brands this year, it got me thinking about why I'm so excited and proud to be a 30+ blogger - and why we're not going anywhere but up.



Do You Struggle Getting Your Eyeliner Straight & Even? You NEED The Beauty Blender Liner Designer!

I had a conversation with a friend the other day which involved muttering the immortal line "does anyone even *wear* khol anymore?" Liquid eyeliner has definitely had its moment over the last couple of years, with statement big winged looks being the makeup skill most desired; it may have started with Sofia Loren, but it's evolved into something incredibly modern and edgy - it's the simplest way to finish your look and add a subtle twist to 'no makeup makeup'. I'm a big fan of the wing, but it's taken me an age to pick up the skills required to make it half decent: get the angle wrong, the length too big or the symmetry completely wonky and it's all ruined. How many mornings have you spent trying to even out your liner in the mirror, just for the whole look to keep getting bigger and bigger until you resemble a Winehouse tribute act? Well, if that's a common issue for you then you simply NEED this little gadget from Beauty Blender in your life - because, *dramatic voice* let me assure you, it will change it.



When Your Inner Scent Snob Is Pleasantly Surprised: Juicy Couture's New Viva La Juicy Sucré

I've definitely got a set of likes and dislikes when it comes to fragrance; I adore anything woody, fresh or citrus, but I ditest anything too floral or too sweet. Most of the perfumes in my collection are from brands including Jo Malone, Shay & Blue and Miller Harris - although there's also a sprinkling of fashion brands (including Chanel, YSL, Burberry and Chloe) to keep my reportoire current, on-trend and also elegant. Generally speaking I bypass anything that's too 'high street' or 'celebrity' and anything that's pink and sparkly, mainly because they're either too sweet or too floral for my personal tastes. That's not to say they don't have value, but they're usually not my cup of tea. I say usually, because sometimes something comes along and pleasantly surprises your nostrils and puts your inner scent snob in its place.



Seven Great Things About Staying In A Luxury Hotel

Over the last couple of months I've stayed a lot in hotels. Some trips have been for work and others for pleasure, but with so many nights spent between freshly laundered sheets dreaming of a pancake breakfast the following morning, it got me thinking about why staying in a lovely hotel is really so special. I'm lucky enough to get to experience some of the most luxurious and special locations as part of my job (I've stayed in the Rosewood London and Babington House in the last two weeks alone,) but I've also been making a concerted effort to book overnight stays and weekend getaways in my spare time too. My boyfriend and I have been breathing in the rustic Cotswold scenery while enjoying mini breaks at The Trout At Tadpole Bridge and The Fuzzy Duck in the last few weeks, simply just because; it doesn't have to cost a fortune, but a night away from home can refresh the mind and provide something to look forward to during a dreary winter's day. So if you need a little pick me up, or simply an excuse to wack out the credit card and book yourself an escape, here are the reasons I think staying in a luxury hotel is such a pleasure.

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