My Teen Beauty Essential Has Had A Modern Makeover: Oil-Blotters Are Making A Comeback

Most of my teenage years were spent attempting to tackle a shiny nose. I may have skipped over the major breakouts and greasy roots, but my one area of concern was an incredibly oily t-zone that never seemed to let out. As I was yet to discover the power of a great primer, my ultimate backpack essential was undoubtedly a pack of blotting papers that could quickly and effectively absorb any excess moisture. Rather embarrassingly, I can vividly recall being fascinated with seeing how much oil could be lifted away and monitoring the residue left on the paper surface; gross, but incredibly practical when your hormones are going into overdrive. Although now I’ve got that oily t-zone mostly under control, my complexion still needs a freshen up in the afternoon when oil starts to mix with makeup and cause a touch of slippage: nothing is worse than your makeup caking or separating on a warm summer’s day. Embracing the power of a primer and layering cosmetics effectively will get you so far, but for many of us there’s always the issue of a little excess lubrication around the nose and chin that we’d rather see the back of.

This summer makeup is definitely going retro, with many brands launching their own modern version of the classic oil-management technique that was blotting papers. For years I can remember struggling to track down a pack at all, but in 2017 there are plenty of innovations on offer to help rid you of an oily t-zone and keep your makeup in check.

THE SIMPLE ONE: Beauty Blender Blotterazzi (£16.00)
For a brand that have made their name from a uniquely shaped sponge, Beauty Blender actually have diversified rather successfully into new areas of beauty – including this ‘Blotterazzi’ that simply blots away any excess shine and ‘re-blends’ makeup to ensure it looks fresh. Made from the same material as the original blender, this comes packaged in a convenient mirror compact and includes two sponges that can be washed and re-used as many times as you like. Although it won’t remove huge amounts of excess oil, it’s great for a faff-free touch-up that’s effective and discrete.

THE CLASSIC ONE: Clarins Pore Perfecting, Matifying Kit (£33.00)
Like a grown up version of those 90’s blotting paper packs, this dual-action kit from Clarins includes oil-blotting papers to mattify skin and remove excess sebum, alongside a translucent powder to provide a soft matte finish. Together they ensure makeup is left looking and feeling refreshed, allowing you to get on with your day and not worry about any slippage. I adore the luxe feel of the compact, which is also incredibly discrete and can be re-filled once you use up the product inside (re-fills are cheaper.) Definitely one for those of us that loved oil-blotters the first time around.

THE CLEVER ONE: Murad MattEffect Blotting Perfector (£32.00)
A rather unusual wet formula, this liquid-to-powder compact contains ‘soft-focus mattifying spheres’ to absorb oil and minimise appearance of pores and imperfections, whilst marshmallow powder provides ‘touchable softness’ – which is a posh way of saying your skin feels smooth again. Proven to keep pore appearance minimised for up to eight hours and absorb excess oil immediately, you need only a little of this to touch up makeup and leave your look refreshed. Although it’s not as practical for on-the-go, it’s a great tool to have in your desk drawer for when you need to perk up your makeup.

Can you remember blotting papers from the first time around? Would you be tempted to re-embrace the trend, or give it a go if you’ve not tried it before?

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Why Sephora Skipping the UK is No Big Deal

Why Sephora Skipping the UK is No Big Deal

They say good things come to those who wait and apparently us Brits have not only been patient but also on our best behaviour, as not one but three long awaited U.S exports will be hitting the shores and shelves of our little cluster of islands in a matter of weeks. With so many of the once hard to come by brands setting up shop on our fair isles, you can somewhat understand why more and more British beauty consumers are non-plussed about Sephora skipping out on our territory.

Perhaps the most exciting and eagerly anticipated news within the beauty world is that Glossier is branching out and into the UK (I imagine it will be a case of ordering online rather than a physical stockist) as announced on the brands Twitter earlier this month. The downside is there is no exact date but I’d imagine it will be sooner rather than later as up until now it has always been a case of “watch this space”. Until the launch date is announced you could bribe a U.S friend or family member to send you products, book flights to New York (like I need an excuse) or if course patiently construct a product wish list.

Why Sephora Skipping the UK is No Big Deal

Buxom is once again back in the U.K via Debenhams and I for one welcome it with open arms. Unlike other UK expansions, Buxom have brought their entire range to the British shores which includes lipstick, eyeshadow, bronzer and more. I’ve mentioned it before but I truly believe that there is no lipstick more comfortable than the Buxom Big & Sexy Bold Gel Lipstick – I personally prefer the matte finish but I can attest that once you purchase one tube there’s no going back. Where said tube of mine happens to be currently residing is anyone’s guess but trust me when I say this is easily one of the most underrated beauty products of all time.

Why Sephora Skipping the UK is No Big Deal

Last but not least, E.L.F is taking another run at the U.K market via Superdrug (and online), from the 3rd of May. You may recall around five years ago E.L.F was the budget beauty brand of choice for many a blogger and for some reason best known to those more curious than I, it was pulled. Last Summer I did hastily purchase a good few items in NYC – mainly because I could – and I will say that on the whole the brand can be a little hit and miss. I find they do cream textures better than they do powders but there is no denying that for budget brushes they are pretty unbeatable and I do think that their new-ish skincare additions could offer luxury ingredients and technology at a low cost.

Sephora who? Am I right? I’m kidding of course but it is great to see more brands expand properly into the U.K. Who do you think will be next? I’m hoping Lorac and maybe the odd Cover Girl collection may be made available here – I realise the latter is a pipe dream given we have Max Factor but I would argue that Cover Girl feels more youthful in message than its sister brand?

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Why Everyone Aged 30+ Should Be Using Retinol

Skincare innovations have a tendency to hit stores quicker than a new Instagram update, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re always to be believed. We may be able to run off a list of ingredients we *should* be looking for in our skincare as we age, but when it comes to fully understanding the purpose of an individual ingredient many of us struggle. Retinol is a so called ‘wonder ingredient’ that’s being touted as one of the most important things in beauty, promising to help create a youthful and radiant glow while minimising the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In my opinion it’s something that every woman (and man) within the 30+ category should be embracing as a way to keep their complexions looking fresh and full for as long as possible. But what is it and why do we need it?

“Retinol signals to your body to produce collagen and new cells for firmer and smoother skin, while also reducing hyperpigmentation and clogged pores,” says New York based dermatologist Anne Chapas. Retinoids first came to market in the early 1970s as an acne-fighting drug, but since then they’ve also been used to treat psoriasis, wrinkles, blotchiness and ageing skin. Simply put, Retinol is another name for vitamin A. It’s an extremely effective cell-communicating ingredient that has the ability to tell almost any skin cell to behave like a healthy, younger version of itself – as well as encouraging the production of new skin cells altogether. This is hugely beneficial for those of us experiencing the first or latter signs of ageing, as Retinol can help reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, increase collagen production (essential for that youthful ‘bouncy’ texture that we lose over time,) improve the texture of skin and help to overcome discolouration caused by sun damage.

Retinol works by prompting surface skin cells to turn over and die rapidly, making way for new cell growth underneath; it does its work by stimulating cellular turnover from the deeper layers up, not in the uppermost layers where AHAs step in to help skin shed unhealthy, dead, built-up skin cells. (Although Retinol may cause flaking and peeling for some, this shouldn’t be mistaken for exfoliation; flaking is a form of irritation.) Although the common misconception is that Retinol can thin the skin, they actually help to hamper the breakdown of collagen and thicken the deeper layer of skin where wrinkles start. Retinol also functions an antioxidant that can interrupt the free-radical damage process that causes wrinkling and other signs of aging – meaning it’s not only great to overcome damage, but to prevent it occurring in the first place.

This super-charged ingredient can be prescribed by a dermatologist, but increasingly Retinol products are available on the high street thanks to brands identifying the desire for such a supportive component within our skincare regimes. Most formulas contain a maximum of 1% concentration of the active ingredient, which over the course of three months should help to provide a smoother, brighter and more youthful complexion. Unlike a lot of skincare that provides results in as little as 2-6 weeks, you do have to be patient to see the results of Retinol – but they’re absolutely worth it. Some of my current favourite products include:

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum (£65.00)
A beautifully light serum that contains three types of Retinol for both short and long term results. A fast-acting retinoid accelerates results, time-released retinol delivers sustained benefits and the retinol booster enhances efficacy; in trials 93% saw a reduction in lines and wrinkles in two weeks, which is definitely unusual for such a product. I love the Murad brand as a whole, so as soon as I found out they were launching a Retinol product I was all over it – and it doesn’t disappoint.

Ren Skincare Bio Retinoid Anti Wrinkle Concentrate Oil (£35.20)
Rather unique in its texture (I don’t think I’ve ever come across another Retinol ‘oil’ before,) this non-greasy concentrate combines potent and 100% naturally derived Vitamin A, Pro Vitamin A and a Retinoid Analogue that together combat the appearance of wrinkles, imperfections and age spots without the usually irritating effects of synthetic Retinol. I like this not only because it can be added to my usual night creams or layered on for a more intense overnight treatment, but because I can easily massage my skin pre-bed to ensure the blood flow is stimulated and my complexion is left radiant. As you only need a few drops, this bottle goes a long way too.

MeruMaya Retinol Resurfacing Treatment (£33.50)
With Retinol used in the maximum permitted dose, this creamy formula also contains Matrixyl 3000: a peptide blend with powerful skin repairing effects that help to restore key proteins that are broken down with ageing. MeruMaya are a brand a trust completely with my skin, particularly as I know how much love goes into producing quality products that perform as best as they possibly can; this is not a fluffy brand. I love applying this before bed as it’s super creamy, so much so I don’t feel like I need another product on top.

The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% (£8.00)
It may be a budget brand, but that doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. This contains two forms of Retinol that together provide a high potency product that also avoids irritation, delivering better visible results against signs of ageing. The Ordinary have revolutionised the way we buy skincare, proving that if you know what to shop for you don’t have to spend a fortune; this is a great starting point for those wanting to gently ease into a Retinol routine, being light enough to use under your usual nighttime skincare or mixed with your favourite cream.

So have I convinced you? If you want to start using Retinol within your daily regime, here are the things you need to be aware of before taking the plunge:
1. Only buy a Retinol treatment if it is packaged in an airtight container; all forms of Vitamin A break down and deteriorate when repeatedly exposed to air and light, so you’ll only be wasting your money on pots of cream that won’t do anything.
2. Start slowly and apply your Retinol product three times a week, or alternatively mix it with a moisturizer or facial oil. This lets your skin gradually acclimate and theoretically should prevent irritation (although many of the new products claim to avoid irritation altogether.)
3. Don’t use Retinol during the day, only at night. Unprotected exposure to sunlight compromises Retinol’s stability, meaning it won’t be as effective or provide the results you’re looking for. Apply it before bed underneath your usual night cream or oil for maximum results.
4. Be patient, because you won’t see immediate results – this is a slow burning skincare gem, so keep with it and you’ll start to see an impact in a few months. I promise you the end result is worth the wait.

Retinol is such a great addition to any regime (the earlier the better in my opinion, within reason!) and it’s great to see so many more affordable and accessible options launch on the high street. It’s a name you’ll be hearing more and more in the coming months, so get on-board with it now and stay ahead of the trend.

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Why Giving Up Make Up For Lent Has Changed Everything

Why Giving Up Make Up For Lent Has Changed Everything

In March, I embarked on a spending ban in aid of raising money for Christian Aid, a few days prior to that I did purchase a lot of make-up with next to no thought to what I was doing – in the moment, I wrote it off as a much needed expense for my job never mind the fact that I already owned half of what I bought in various disguises – basically it was the nude lipstick that broke this camels back. If ever there was a time to reevaluate my shopping habits it was in that moment, and when approached with the idea of giving up make-up for Lent at the aid of a charity the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The idea of letting down those in need would prevent me from ever straying of course and wither I raised 50p or £500 (my page is here) I would be happy in the knowledge that I am at least trying to do something beneficial for others, rather than adding another unused lipgloss to my already groaning pile.

Why Giving Up Make Up For Lent Has Changed Everything

I’d be lying if I said I found the concept of giving up make-up shopping for 40 days (and nights – the nights are when the temptation to online shop seems all the more alluring) was without its challenges – the Bobbi Brown Havana Nights collection has been whispering and now shouting my name for the last few weeks and there is also a few new Too Faced products that I have coveted for quite some time now. Then again, isn’t there always something new to grab your attention and before you’ve as much as dipped an eyeshadow brush into your newly purchased palette, there is something as equally glossy and exciting launched to grab your attention and thus the circle is never ending. For the record it is of no business nor interest of mine how you spend your money but as things goes, the never ending accumulation of quickly disregarded make-up was weighing heavy on my conscience as I began the challenge for Christian Aid.

Why Giving Up Make Up For Lent Has Changed Everything

Over the last 40 days I have learnt that I will forever be enticed and excited by cosmetics – and of course accept that this is part and parcel of my vocation – but will now only purchase products after much deliberation. There are a hundred and ten million (maybe…maybe there’s more) beauty blogs out there, all with their own well formed opinions, I don’t need to be the one that reviews every single beauty product – in fact wouldn’t it be nice if I added a human element to this site, a few tales from beauty insiders and such? I have also began questioning myself, asking if I really need another matte lipstick or if I am suffering from fear of missing out (F.O.M.O) – something in the past that I have let dictate not only beauty purchases but technology and on occasion the odd pair of shoes.

Lent may be over (and to an extent I am relieved) but going forward I will be donating once a month to Christian Aid – even if it just the price of one eyeshadow, every little helps. You can find out more about how you can get involved here – link.



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When Everything Gets Too Much: Managing Stress & Giving Your Life A Good Clear Out

THIS IS A SPONSORED POST IN PARTNERSHIP WITH LIPIVIR

My brain is one that has always operated at a million miles an hour. I’ve always had multiple projects on the go (why only undertake a simple task when you can juggle three things at once?) and frequently operate in a direction that’s on a one-way trip to burn-out, only to re-set and start on that troublesome road once again. Self employment for me is the embodiment of that burning desire to continually reach further and get more into my working day, but it’s also the downfall of a personality that doesn’t know when to quit. Having no set routine, no end to the office day and no such thing as a working week can be a blessing and a curse; yes it provides the flexibility for me to fill my days in the way that I wish to, but it also can cause a horrendous level of stress as there’s always ten more things on my ‘to do’ list that need to be actioned immediately.

Although I started 2017 on an incredibly positive note and promised to be easier on myself, it’s actually been one of the most stressful and eventful years that I can remember. They say everything happens at once, and in the last six months everything that could have happened has done: from family operations, court cases and cancer diagnoses, to working on some horrendous campaigns and being pulled from pillar to post as I attempt to juggle everything alone. (I have delegation issues.) All that topped off with a wedding to plan with six months notice and it’s no wonder I’m desperately in need of a week or two on the beach! I don’t mean this to be a sob story (I know I’m still bossing it and, for goodness sake, I managed to plan a wedding in the best part of six weeks) but a note to all of you reading that may be getting increasingly stressed and feeling alone: I can promise you you’re not.

According to the Health & Safety Executive*, there were nearly 500,000 work related stress, depression or anxiety cases in 2015/16; nearly half of these were new cases and approximately 11.7 million working days were lost as a result. In 2015/16 stress accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases and 45% of all working days lost – so imagine how much more productive we would be, both individually and as a united front, if we could eliminate even a fraction of that. For me, the easiest way to keep stress under control is via frequent exercise; you don’t have to pump it hard in the gym for hours on end, but a light jog or a quick swim can help to clear the mind and put everything into perspective. Since I’ve been going to the gym a few times a week my stress levels have definitely decreased, and during heightened times it really helps to do nothing but count the number of repetitions on the leg press. Even if I take a trip down at 9.30pm at night, a sweaty session helps to release my tension and calm my mind – as well as releasing endorphins which in turn help to create some much needed positivity.

Something I also want to make more of a commitment to in the coming months is finding a daily moment of calm. Taking time out for a few minutes a day for meditation helps ease the emotional tension that hinders our everyday routines; mindfulness may seem slightly hocus pocus, but it really can make a positive difference and help us to let go of the stresses and worries that are bogging us down. Clearing our minds, focusing on our breathing and remembering to appreciate the little things is such a great way to start the day – and committing to only ten minutes every morning can make such a difference. I’ve dabbled in meditation and mindfulness before, but I know I’m going to be turning to it increasingly frequently as my wedding day gets closer and closer. Even more important though is having a supportive network of friends and colleagues that can listen to you moan, give you some great advice and generally just go with you to get cake; having an incredible network of women in my life that I know I can turn to when I need them eases my stress without having to even do anything.

What’s even more stressful about stress is that it can lead to everything from dull skin to breakouts, insomnia to cold sores. Although a face mask, tonne of water and an early night can be just what the doctor ordered, it’s also great to know when there’s a product that will help to eliminate even the smallest manifestation of those emotions. Fortunately lipivir understand that the appearance of a cold sore can be confidence draining and stressful in itself, and that we all want to be armed with the tools to ensure we feel our best. As a result they set about creating something to help: a lightweight gel that can be applied around the edge of lips daily to help prevent the appearance of cold sores. (The HSV1 virus that causes cold sores reactivates by sending signals between particles to ‘wake-up’ and start replicating so they can spread; lipivir has a special formulation that disrupts these signals so they don’t arrive. Its special formula is made of a biologically inactive substance which interferes with the signals, ‘jamming’ the viruses’ communications and preventing outbreaks.) As someone that suffers from cold sores, I can tell you that having the peace of mind that I’m going to be cold sore free even in the most stressful of situations is one less thing to worry about.

As modern women we’ve never been under so much pressure (from both ourselves and external forces) to achieve so much and do so with a smile on our faces. We’re all striving to manage a successful career, have a kick ass social life, have and bring up a family, look after our ageing generations and teach them how to use a computer, keeping our social media accounts looking like we live the life of a Kardashian, watching all of the Netflix, visiting as many exotic locations as we can tick off in the space of a year, having an on-trend haircut, getting the latest iPhone and all the time being oh-so-humble about everything we’ve managed to fit into a 24 hour period. It’s just too much. I know I always put so much pressure on myself, but it’s important to often take a step back to understand what’s making you stressed and how to remove that from your life.

If I could give myself, and you, some advice for managing these increasingly frequent stressful situations then it would be this…
1. Prioritise. What’s actually really important and what can wait? What can be delegated and what can be put on hold? Nobody can work 14 hour days continually and not fall apart.
2. Learn to say no. Whether that’s work, family or social commitments, it’s ok to turn things down or say you’re too busy (even when you’re just catching up on murder documentaries.)
3. Understand our health is just as important as everyone else’s. It’s all very well trying to look after everyone else and make sure they’re ok, but if you don’t look after yourself simultaneously then you’re all screwed.
4. Cut unhealthy connections out of your life. Whether that’s a toxic friendship, a client that keeps you awake at night or a family member that can’t take no for an answer, just put them on mute.
5. Take time for you. A hot bath, glass of wine and a good book can really put everything into perspective; just imagine what a day at the spa or a mini break could do!

Life should be for living, not worrying. Let’s not forget that.

To find out more about lipivir, visit their website: www.lipivir.com
You can also follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Read my previous post, How To Ensure Healthy Kissable Lips All Year Long, for some more top tips. Check out What Beauty Confidence Means To Me too!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of lipivir; all opinions and recommendations are my own.

*More info on the stats here.

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