So Sephora Isn’t Coming to the U.K After All

Sephora Isn't Coming to the U.K 2017

Late last year, the news unofficially – as in it didn’t directly come from Sephora but rather very trusted sources – broke that Sephora had plans to finally set shop up in the U.K once again; sure it would only be one location (London) but for many it was better than nothing and raised the hope of the possibility for further British branches. For weeks, it was all anyone could talk about and the announcement was received with unprecedented excitement levels, well dear reader I’m afraid Sephora is no longer arriving on the U.K shores anytime soon, if ever.

Why? From what I have gathered no one really knows. Perhaps Sephora felt it was too little, too late? Maybe they decided that that the supposed location of Westfield Strafford was not ideal as it isn’t exactly central, nor somewhere those pushed for time would venture; as a Scot that has been to London several times – with my tourist blinkers on – I would imagine that Oxford Street would be a more fitting address – central and a hotspot for both local and visiting traffic. There is also the fact that a lot of brands that Sephora stock are exclusive to other retailers within the UK – for example Kat Von D is only sold within certain branches of Debenhams and Tarte can only be found on the QVC website. Of course, this is all speculative and the real reasoning most likely will never come to light.

Sephora Isn't Coming to the U.K 2017

Although I wasn’t the hugest champion for the U.K unveiling – despite it’s European roots, I feel that the U.S is the real “home” of Sephora – I am a little sad that the expansion has not been granted the green light – the beauty industry has never been more booming and just about every blogger and YouTuber who as much as wears lipstick has undoubtedly uploaded some form off Sephora haul in their time. I am not deluded enough to as much as hint we alone keep the beauty sector afloat but all that free brand promotion certainly can’t help the brand. I have said in the past that I don’t think the U.K version of Sephora would be as impressive as those further afield but I did agree that there certainly is more than room for a one-stop cosmetic and skincare shop within the U.K – a gap said brand could more than fill.

I also assumed (foolish I know) that with a new international location that a British website wouldn’t be far behind meaning no more costly importation fees, nor lengthy waits for said delivery to arrive (well in theory – we’ve all had encounters with dodgy couriers). An online U.K based Sephora presence would also open up the brand to those who are unable to travel be it to London or elsewhere, and of course allows for those late night and often regrettable splurges. Even if said website only sold own brand products – which I would argue are as good, if not better than some high end products – it would be a start and a move very much welcomed by many.

There are rumbles that perhaps Sephora will go down the concession route within the U.K; opening up small counters in already existing department stores, something that is already in play in hundreds of J.C Penny stores within the states. Again this is better than nothing and also allows customers to see and try products before purchase, and in the long run could serve as a test to how well the company is received within a market it has neglected for so long.

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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.

I like to refer to this as the ‘golden age’ of blogging: before it became as glossy, edited and mainstream as the media we were rebelling against. Over the last decade the bloggersphere has evolved (both positively and negatively) to the point that it’s almost unrecogniseable from where we started; the editorial style of writing, fashion magazine standard photography and beautifully curated social media feeds that make every 20-something look like their living the life of Gigi Hadid are just the tip of the iceberg. The big issue? As a veteran of the blogging world I’m increasingly aware and concerned about the lack of real opinion – it’s like the industry has become too scared to provide insight that’s not 100% positive, or to share thoughts that aren’t always ‘on brand’. You can find literally thousands of cookie cutter blogs out there, but very few of them offer insight or comment beyond ‘I love it!/It’s so pretty!/This is a must-have!’

With the growth of the blogging community I understand that we’re all in constant competition for the latest product sample, press trip or sponsored campaign (and that often playing it safe provides higher return in the short term.) I understand that brands want you to say nice things about their products, because their end objective is to make as many sales as possible. However, what I don’t understand is why so many within the bloggersphere are happy to ride the safe train at the expense of their reader. In the words of Caroline Hirons during a recent post: “God forbid you say you didn’t get on with something. God forbid you use your platform to give your readers genuine feedback on an experience, even when it’s done so constructively and without resorting to blanket negativity. Having an opinion does not make you a bitch, and it certainly should not make you ashamed.” Amen Hirons, amen.

The digital space has successfully evolved into something aspirational, motivational and incredibly curated, but in my opinion this has been at the expense of raw and unedited opinion – which is why we all started in the first place. We’re on very dangerous ground right now as blogs become increasingly fluffy and bland. I find myself continually fighting to be recognised as an intelligent woman with a well-rounded background and informed opinion, but when there are so many others out there focusing on the prettiness of their online space rather than what impact their words have, it becomes somewhat of a losing battle. Super styled beauty images, professionally shot outfits and hired locations that wouldn’t look out of place on the pages of Vogue are great, but it’s also important for us to use the power of the written (or spoken) word to make positive change or share valuable opinion.

As an example, recently a new beauty concept launched into the UK under the name of ‘Beauty Pie’; this subscription platform seemed great on the surface, but when you started to scratch away and look deeper there were a number of issues and problematic areas that needed addressing as part of a comprehensive review. (You can read my full feature here.) What concerned me was the number of features that praised the service as something revolutionary and overwhelmingly positive, without letting readers know about the potential pitfalls (of which there were many.) I’ve literally read hundreds of articles on the concept, but could probably count on my hands the number of sites that dared to say anything negative (or worse, even bothered to do their own research rather than just repeating what was on the press release.) Everyone is free to give their opinion and share their own thoughts (positive, negative or neutral) because that’s the whole point of the bloggersphere, but when there’s no opinion at all? That’s when it becomes worrying.

I feel incredibly uneasy about the future of blogging right now, because I think we’re in serious danger of becoming as edited and vacuous as the magazines that we’re supposed to be replacing. Too many are focused on whether everything is ‘on brand’ for them, rather than using their voice and influence to impart knowledge or advice; too many are worried about losing out on that next press trip or bundle of free lipsticks, rather than focusing on creating a strong persona that their readers can relate to. Too many of us are being shot down for having an opinion or told that we should just get back to talking about lipsticks, while the blogging elite are focused on their next big pay rather than whether they would genuinely recommend a product without it. I’ve always made it a priority to share my true thoughts and bring you an honest account of my experiences; a great brand will understand that not everyone will adore every product, and a reader won’t expect you to. Opinions are vital to the bloggersphere and how it operates, but they seem to now be as rare as a limited edition Mariah Carey lipstick. I think it’s about time we brought them back…
But you know, that’s just my opinion.

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The New Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation and Concealer

New Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation and Concealer

One of my aims for 2017 is to adopt a healthier routine and to really make the most of my mornings; that means no more sugary cereal, while plumped in front of the T.V. watching re-runs of shows I’ve seen at least twice before. I also want to make time for me, be it making a delicious breakfast juice(recipe at end of post) or sitting down and really appreciating my beauty products – rather than haphazardly slapping on some powder and lipstick via the morning commute. I find setting my alarm a little earlier, going for a brisk walk and generally enjoying the tranquillity before rush hour sets in, gears me up for the rest of the day – putting a little pep in my step and a rosy flush on my cheeks. If you are all about naturally glowing skin – and who isn’t – then may I suggest the new and improved Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation and Concealer line?

I have been a fan of the original Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation for years as I can always rely on it to provide both a seamless and flawless application, complete with a beautiful, naturally radiant finish. It is the one base product I am never without, I truly believe that no other foundation, high street or otherwise can rival Healthy Mix, so you can imagine the arrival of the new and improved formula is music to my ears. The same gloriously, lightweight and glow inducing texture of Bourjois Healthy Mix but with a few new and additional bonuses. If ever there was a time to re-visit or finally try out the Bourjois Healthy Mix products for yourself, it is now.

New Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation and Concealer

Much like the original Bourjois Healthy Mix, the new and improved formulation features a lightweight texture that aglides and melts onto the skin (regardless of how you may apply it) providing a comfortable, transfer resistant experience for up to 16 hours. What sets Healthy Mix aside from other foundations is that not only does it deliver a glowing, radiant finish with a moderate level of coverage (I find this more than sufficient to cover my hyper pigmentation left behind from acne – image below) but it is loaded with skin boosting and protecting vitamins such as: Apricot to promote additional radiance, Melon for skin quenching hydration that lasts up to 8 hours and Apple (a known anti-oxidant) to protect the skin. Think of Bourjois Healthy Mix as the all-in-one foundation: it protects, covers and moisturises in one quick step and comes in no less than 9 shades.

That glow that you can’t quite put your finger on when wearing Bourjois Healthy Mix and the real reason no other foundation nor concealer you own, can quite come as close? Bourjois have infused their fan favourite formulation with crystalline pigments that help to even out the complexion, all the while letting in the natural light for that healthy looking glow.

New Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation and Concealer

In my opinion there is no better concealer that disguises a late night or two, nor generally leaves you feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed than the Bourjois Healthy Mix Concealer. Again this too has underwent a make-over, with a new and easier to use doe foot applicator; this truly makes application a breeze wither it is concealing dark circles, a blemish or even using it to highlight. Much like the foundation of the same name, Bourjois Healthy Mix Concealer is jam packed with natural and skin boosting vitamins: Apricot from additional radiance, Raspberry to boost micro-circulation for plumper skin and lastly Melon for additional hydration. This is one of the very few concealers that will not only brighten even the darkest of circles and tell signs of a sleepless night but also plump, moisturise and protect the delicate skin around the eyes.

New Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation and Concealer

I know that we are often pushed for time, so for your convenience I have swatched all 9 shades of the Healthy Mix Foundation below and all three of the new concealers too. I am currently wearing the shade Light Beige in foundation and the lightest concealer. If you have used Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation in the past, the good news is that despite the formulation improvements, the shade names have remained the same with the addition of three new options: 50 Rose Ivory, 57 Bronze and 58 Caramel, so finding your perfect fit has never been easier.

New Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation and Concealer

Top photo – foundation swatches, shades left to right: 50, 51. 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58,

Bottom photo – concealer swatches, shades left to right: light, medium and dark.

I’ve said it a million times before to all that will listen but there is no better foundation – budget friendly otherwise – to create glowing, healthy, radiant and flawless skin quite like Bourjois Healthy Mix.

You can find Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation via Boots for £7.99(usually £9.99) – link and Bourjois Healthy Mix Concealer via Boots for £7.99 – link.

This is a sponsored post.

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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!

First things first: the collection includes seven lipsticks and seven coordinating nail polishes, which together set me back around £90.00. That works out about £6.40 each, with the bonus that they’re all packed in a special edition keepsake box; they’re not cheap, but together it’s not insanely expensive if you’re obsessed with the film franchise or just simply want a piece of makeup history. Each of the main characters each have their own lipstick and polish (including Belle, Beast, Mrs Potts, Cogsworth, Lumiere, the featherduster and the rose) which are adorned with designs that correspond to their character. Unfortunately the designs aren’t printed onto the packaging itself, but instead are stickers that have been applied over the top; I can only assume that this is why the range hasn’t been brought over to the UK, as it’s not the same standard we’re used to seeing from L’Oreal (even if the stickers are good quality and textured, as well as featuring embossed metallic touches.) Nevertheless, the overall effect is somewhat magical and definitely makes me feel like this is something to be treasured for years to come.

The collection includes a number of bold shades, including a classic red and power pink, alongside a more wearable chocolate brown and nude tone. I would’ve liked to see more of a spectrum (there feels like there’s a lot of red, perhaps because of the Italian market?) but they’re all very wearable and universal in appeal – just like the nail polishes. (That navy blue!) Personally I don’t get why the Cogsworth products aren’t a beautiful brown colour, nor why there’s a very random featherduster (not a main character in my opinion) and slightly tacky lipstick mark design, but the rest of the range definitely leaves me feeling pleased with my purchase. Thankfully the box everything is held in absolutely met my expectations, providing a covetable and great quality outer in which to store the makeup items within (because you know these aren’t meant to be actually used!) I do wish that there were token limited edition Beauty and the Beast lipsticks and polishes available in the UK, especially because the rose version is so pretty, but alas… Maybe the fact you can’t get hold of them makes it all the more lustworthy? I’m definitely in the mood for a Be Our Guest marathon now, even if I can’t bring myself to actually apply the polish! Continue reading

Clarins Face Contouring Palette – Better Late Than Never

Clarins Face Contouring Palette Review
If you are not already a huge fan of Clarins, be it their wonderful skincare, sophisticated beauty range or even their array of masterful fragrances, you really are missing out. Clarins may not be the Instagram or beauty blogger instant brand of choice, mainly because they don’t buck to trends, rather they create them and as such it may explain why the company was lacking a contour product or two before now. As the title more than suggests, there is a fairly new to the table Clarins Face Contouring Palette – which is sadly limited edition – and boy has it been worth the wait.

Clarins Face Contouring Palette Review

The great thing about the Clarins Face Contouring Palette is that the beauty powerhouse has really thought of everything: from a highlight, contour and blush, to a facial contour skimming brush – it is all there at your fingertips, making this ideal for beginners and/or those for strapped for time. It should also be mentioned that the typical of Clarins, yet ultimately classy, golden compact, that encases all three powders is housed with a large mirror – again really adding to the user-friendly aspect of this kit. Basically if ever you have considered purchasing an all-in-one face sculpting kit and you have a light to medium complexion, this is one that you may want to consider.

Clarins Face Contouring Palette Review
Clarins Face Contouring Palette Review
Clarins Face Contouring Palette Review

As you’d expect from any contour kit worth it’s salt the two shades aimed at mimicking the natural shadows and light of the facial hollows and high points are matte; truthfully I do find the contouring powder to be a little too warm in tone for my needs, it lacks the greyness I look for in such product but I do commend Clarins on creating a hue that is well pigmented and not at all ashen. No it isn’t the universal suit all shade some will be hoping for but generally speaking it is a little deeper than average and as such can be applied in both layers and with a light hand to create the illusion of sharper bone structure – or of course used in place of a bronzer and maybe in some instances as a setting powder or even an eyeshadow. That is the great thing about neutral toned, matte powders, they lend themselves to a world of uses and as such the intended highlighting powder within this set can be used for just that, or as an eyeshadow, a setting powder or rather wonderfully for both brightening and setting the under eye. As wonderful as a multi-tasking product is, in my opinion the real star of the show is the dusky pink, satin blush – this applied alone, beautifully carves out the cheekbones and adds a subtle, just-pinched effect.

Clarins Face Contouring Palette Review

Sure there are more budget friendly sculpting face kits out there but I do think that you will be hard pushed to find a better formula; not only is each of the three shades so finely milled that on the skin they feel lighter than air and utterly comfortable but they overall formulation has been enriched with plant extracts to nourish and of course a dash of Clarins’ anti-pollution complex to protect the complexion.

Clarins Face Contouring Palette Review

And then there is the brush, a nifty, little curved-come-angled number that perfect grips and hugs the natural contours of the face, including those pesky, hard to reach areas such as the side of the nose with complete control and ease. Yes the small, almost stubby like appearance can be deceiving and make it appear a lot more fiddly than it appears but truthfully it is one of the best brushes of its kind I own – so much so that, if sold as a separate product from the Clarins Face Contouring Palette I would buy a back up brush.

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