Making the decision to step away from the brand name I'd developed over eight long years was not an easy one. It'd been on my mind for many months and I knew that the alias I'd been using since I started my blogging journey no longer reflected who I was, but the thought of giving all that up and moving on to something new was intimidating. As someone who tends to just 'get on with it' and impulsively decides to make a big life change, it was an unexpected experience to spend months mulling it over and wondering what impact it would have on my digital presence - and in turn my income. But alas, a couple of weeks ago that's what happened!
If there's one thing the internet is great for, it's hyping up beauty products as the 'ultimate must have' or 'holy grail' you 'can't live without'. Blogs and vlogs have definitely raised the profile of some under-the-radar brands and really effective makeup gems (how many of us have had our lives changed by finding something like the Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer eh?!) but they're also equally as guilty of telling us something is the 'best thing ev-a!' when it's really rather not. Over the years I've tried too many of these hyped up wonders to count, and I'm often asked if they're really worthy of the investment; truthfully, some are but many more aren't. Here are just a few of the most talked about beauty bits right now, alongside my personal opinion of them - including a 'hyped-up rating' out of ten, just for the lolz.
This time last year I was freshly engaged, with my dream sparkly diamond ring on my finger and a stack of bridal magazines on my coffee table, and ready to kick off a journey I was probably more excited about than anything up until that point. I've never been one of those girls who's been dreaming of a big white dress and even bigger wedding since she was little; I never put a pillow over my head, never had a secret scrapbook under my bed and never even married off Barbie to Ken. There's no doubt that I wanted to find The One and spend the next decades building a life together, but I'm pragmatic enough to know that one fancy party does not define the rest of your lives.
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Our faces reflect the lives that we lead, the experiences that we have and all those laughs that have made our days so enjoyable. Each of us ages in our unique way, and our skin is a reflection of that process - whether we like it or not. Although there's nothing wrong with wrinkles, age spots or loss of firmness, there's no doubt that we feel our best when our complexions are looking their best too. I'm all for embracing the ageing process, but I'm also incredibly conscious of looking after my skin and ensuring it remains as firm, plump and radiant as possible for as long as I can manage; that's where a hardworking regime of skincare comes in, offering a little helping hand along the way. It's no surprise that my regime is a finely tuned one, with every product and step having a very specific purpose, thanks to over a decade working in the industry and getting to grips with some of the most advanced technology and science our beauty world has to offer. But I know I'm not the norm.
Can we say it's spring yet? Can we, can we? I'm pretty fed up of wearing nothing but jeans and jumpers, so any excuse to get out my pasty pale legs and pop on something a touch more feminine and I'm there. My wardrobe is awash with floral dresses at the moment, especially ones with a black or navy colour base that you can wear pretty much all year round with a little leather jacket; they're so versatile and so flattering, especially when the material is all silky and flowing like this Biba number. One of those impulse last minute sales purchases (there are still so many bargains to be had on the high street,) this was hanging on the end of a rail in House of Fraser and had me at the first glance. Although it comes with a slip, I threw that away (because they're always two sizes too small anyway) and embraced it in it's au naturel format - it helps it to flow easily and you can really pull in the tie detail to flatter the waist.
Unicorns used be a thing resigned to the bedrooms of young girls; they were the topic of fantasy films and fairy tales. A decade ago if you'd have said you wanted to dress up like a mermaid people would've given you a strange look and asked if you were going to a costume party that weekend, but over the last few years fantastical beauty and fashion has become incredibly mainstream. You can't step into a store without seeing a tee emblazoned with 'I'm Really A Mermaid' or a unicorn coloured bobble hat, and you can't wander through the aisles of Superdrug without being overwhelmed by multi-coloured highlighters and purple lipgloss. We've had everything from unicorn frappacinos and bagels, to the resurgence of My Little Pony - and it's not just teenagers that it's appealing to. Fully grown women are applying all manner of fantastical eyeshadows and sticking glitter to their cheeks. So why have we all suddenly become obsessed with shades of blue, pink, purple and green, and why are glitter sales at an all time high?
Ahhhh sleep. Isn't it just the best? There's nothing quite like slipping between the sheets after a long day, feeling the warmth of your snuggly duvet and placing your head on a freshly laundered and fluffy pillow. Those forty winks tend to evade us for most of our younger years (when there are parties to attend, people to see and new things to experience sleep takes a back seat,) but as we get older they become even more essential in order for our body and mind to function effectively. I'd give anything to be able to spend longer in bed every day, or even to have a weekend go by where I didn't need to arise from my sheets until at least the afternoon, but while I'm limited to what I'm currently managing I need to make the most of it. My evening beauty routine has become somewhat of a ritual, and I adore discovering new products to make it all the more pampering and relaxing. In the interests of letting you in on my bedtime secrets (oooh-err!) here are some of my current faves and things I've been reaching for every night.
A decade ago, when I was working in the heart of the beauty industry at one of the high street's most well known names, 'big beauty launches' involved the following things: expensive in-store displays, a big discount offer, a PR push to magazines, lots of press advertising and (if you were lucky) a TV campaign that drove traffic to store. As consumers we got all of our information from glossy mags, celebrity ads and daytime telly, but impulse purchases while wandering through Boots were also big business. In less than ten years the landscape of beauty marketing has changed forever, with budgets being (in some cases) completely diverted away from TV and press altogether, instead spent on blogger endorsed campaigns and Daily-Fail homepage takeovers. With print media titles having been reduced to only a handful, that energy and budget is now understandably being diverted to the bloggers and vloggers who collectively have a larger audience than any of those glossy mags combined.
I don't really function without coffee. Whether it's psychological or not it doesn't really matter, but until I've had that first glorious hit of milky caffeine I'm not really ready to face the day. When I'm away from home I somehow unintentionally manage to always pick hotels and apartments that are within a stone's throw of a Starbucks; when we were on honeymoon in Bali I even managed to get an Indonesian hit of American coffee, which was rather ironic considering they're one of the world's most rich coffee suppliers and had the black stuff on tap wherever I went. (I like to think of it as a skill, or even a telepathic connection with coffee shops around the globe.) While in Paris recently our apartment overlooked a beautiful corner Starbs that I could shoot to every morning for my fix - although at £4.50 a go for a latte, you can tell why Parisians like their cheap and cheerful street coffee shops more.
Nothing makes a woman’s heart flutter more than those black and white stripes that greet us in Sephora. There’s something really quite majestic about caring around one of those little monochrome bags with the red handles, even if there’s only a lip balm and a nail file inside. Although for years we’ve been crying out for our very own Sephora store in the UK, it seems that for the time being we’ll have to live with being forced (I say forced, I mean ‘willingly travel an excessive distance’) overseas for the privilege - or paying their pretty extortionate shipping fees. We may be fortunate enough to now get our hands on most of the brands that had us flocking to the stores like a bee to honey (Kat Von D, Tarte, Glossier, Becca and more are now available on the UK high street - whoop!) the Sephora own brand is my personal highlight of a trip into the ultimate beauty mecca. This much underrated and really affordable brand has so many gems to be discovered, and often imitates much higher end beauty brands while keeping the formulas accessible. On a recent trip to Paris I picked up a few gems (some I already loved and others I couldn't wait to get to know,) and I thought I’d give you a little look at what they were…