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Life & Sole/Charlotte Mills

One of the joys of this job is meeting truly talented people from all walks of life – yes, you guessed it, there’s an example coming right up. I met Katie when I worked with her on my boxes with Latest In Beauty and I think the first thing she told me about herself was her shoe size! Fast-forward several years and Katie has launched her own website, Life&SoleofShoes.com, that focuses on finding fabulous bigger size shoes (she’s a size 8/9), and even more excitingly, launched her own shoe range with shoe designer, Charlotte Mills.

Life & Sole/Charlotte Mills

Katie’s been obsessed with shoes that fit her feet forever, but recognizes that it’s not just bigger styles in short supply, it’s smaller, too. That’s why she’s created these shoes in size 2 all the way through to size 10, but I have to tell you that they’re very limited. It’s me that’s calling them wedding shoes because to me they’re so perfect for that occasion, with the lucky sixpence plated in rose gold in one of the upper soles and the heart detailing, but don’t be put off if there’s no wedding on the horizon because these are so pretty for any time. They’re £185 HERE.

The details are: Upper // Silver metallic leather mixed with silver glitter, Lining // Natural Leather, Sock // Natural leather with a lucky sixpence plated in rose gold and a limited edition Life and Sole logo, Sole // Natural leather sole with Charlotte Mills branding and silver metal heart detail, Heel Height // 3.5 inches / 9cm, Made in Spain.

*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.

Bodhi & Birch Lemon Water Hydrosol Tonic

If you ever, as a child, made rose or lavender water simply by stuffing petals into a bottle of water then you are already familiar with a hydrosol, albeit a very rudimentary version. Flower waters or hydrosols go back far, far into history – it’s thought as far as 3000 years ago being used for aromatics, beautifying and healing. Needless to say, our versions now will differ very greatly not least in terms of hygiene, production and ingredient sophistication. So, I’m happy to introduce the Bodhi & Birch Lemon Water Hydrosol Tonic, part of a Superfood Series, launching very soon. The Superfood Series is organic where possible, small batch made and essential oil free – the only fragrances come from the natural aromatics of the raw ingredients.

Bodhi & Birch Lemon Water Hydrosol Tonic

I’ll note the full ingredient list at the end of the post but key players in this are impressive. Actually, it’s a meticulous formulation – it’s been a while in the making, and I can see why. Firstly, the hydrosols which in this case are a distillation of lemons, orange blossom and bergamot. In that blend, they have cleansing, clarifying, toning, fortifying and calming properties and are suitable for delicate or sensitive skin. Next, hyaluronic, and we all know what that does. It’s the ingredient that gives the waters a tiny bit of slip on the skin and stops it making skin feel dry. Then we have some pea peptides, an interesting ingredient noted for helping with elasticity and firmness, fruit enzymes from pomegranate and cucumber which polyphenol and mineral rich respectively. There’s a clear crystal quartz sphere in every bottle – I’m not a crystal gazer but if you are, it’s an added extra for emotional balancing.

To use the Hydrosol, you can spritz whenever you feel like it really because it treats both skin and mind, but you can also incorporate it as an extra step after cleansing. Personally, I’m thinking to keep mine by my bed to wake my skin up first thing in the morning. Needless to say, it’s fully nasty free and suitable for vegans. So, the bottom line – Lemon Water Hydrosol Tonic is a gorgeous, gorgeous product but it’s a luxury, not an essential. Priced at £50, it can’t be anything but and I think it’s best suited to those who particularly seek out ethically made, vegan products with thoughtful formulations, and like to pay their skin extra attention that’s over and above a regular routine. You’ll find it on pre-order HERE (don’t worry, you won’t have a long wait).

Ingredient list: Citrus Limon (Lemon) Hydrosol, °Citrus Aurantium (Neroli) Hydrosol, °Citrus Bergamia (Bergamot) Hydrosol, °Glycerin, Aqua (Water), °Punica Granatum(Pomegranate) Fruit Extract, °Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Pisium Sativum (Pea) Extract, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, *Crystal Quartz Sphere (included in the 100ml bottle) ºCertified Organic *Natural Mineral

*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.

The Body Shop Body Yogurts

Honestly, if I could physically push you into a Body Shop store to buy one of these, I would! They’re absolutely delightful for a cooling, summer-weight hit of body moisture. It’s apparent that a lot of attention has been paid to the skin feel of this – when you first put it onto your skin, it’s very loose and pliant with plenty of slip so that you can work it into your skin. But, a few moments later, the gel-cream leaves no stickiness or residue other than an almost powdery feel. It’s really clever!

The Body Shop Body Yogurts

Rich creams and heavy oils aren’t the best in summer – I’m pretty sure they make you sweat more and stop the air cooling your skin (this is my theory!) but that just doesn’t seem to happen with the yogurts. In fact, I found them very cooling. The Body Shop recommends applying to damp skin after a bath or shower – I didn’t but it’s an option. One of the things they say is that you can put your jeans on straight away (true, you can) but that statement reminded me of that sticky feeling when it’s so hot and your moisturiser forms a melty film all over your body and you can feel your clothes sticking to you. Yuk! The fragrances of the two that I have to try, British Rose and Almond Milk, are light and fresh with mild to moderate staying power. It’s quite apparent at first but dies down after application which, in my book, is a good thing, especially if I’m wearing a fragrance, too. Anyway, a high recommend for the sensory delight of these and at £8.50 they’re an affordable treat. You can find them HERE. 

*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.

Cosmetic Bio-Glitter

I know from reader feedback (and generally just reading the news!) that what happens to glitter commonly used in make up after it’s been on our faces. The truth of it is that it IS damaging – filter feeding animals in the ocean easily ingest these tiny particles and consequently, they end up in the food chain. Glitter is, in effect, a micro-plastic. The biggest offenders of micro-plastic waste are rubbish (general lumps of plastic from the breakdown of larger items) and micro-beads (now widely banned). Glitter, however, plays a very, very small part in ocean pollution – according to the National Ocean Service 80% of pollution comes from land as run off. One of the biggest offenders in run off comes from vehicles – tiny droplets of oil from millions of vehicles make their way into the sea, as does fertilizer and even air pollution that settles into waterways. Glitter is not a huge culprit in the grand scheme of things, but that’s not the point. If it’s possible for the cosmetic industry to switch to bio glitters, then they should. And it is absolutely possible. They should also give up palm oil or invest heavily in sustainability, but that’s a whole other story!

Cosmetic Bio-Glitter

When I went out with ingredient distributors Cornelius a couple of weeks ago, Rachael showed me Cosmetic Bio-Glitter from a company called Ronald Britton Ltd who are leading the way in biodegradable glitters.  From September, they’ll have 100% biodegradable glitter, and for now, it’s 92% biodegradable which means depending upon the weather conditions it degrades at about the same rate as say, leaves. It’s interesting to note that the Festival industry is a huge driver for biodegradable glitters – they don’t want their land flooded with plastic glitter that never goes away any more than anyone else would.

So, I’ll run through the specs so that if you want to challenge any cosmetics brands, you have the facts at your fingertips although the great news is that huge beauty brands have already jumped on this and its being incorporated into beauty products as we speak. Cosmetic Bio-Glitter is made from eucalyptus as a biodegradable film. The eucalyptus is sourced from responsibly managed plantations. It has no discernible antimony level (i.e. none) whereas polyester glitters can have quite high readings. It’s compostable, suitable for anaerobic digestion (i.e. microorganisms can break it down), it’s biodegradable in marine and waste water and it’s not tested on animals.

So, the bottom line is that biodegradable glitters are filtering into our beauty system at a fast rate – everyone wants it so biodegradable being the norm is not that far off. If you like to do your own glitter mixing, you can find bio-glitters HERE and if  you want to read more about Bio-Glitter from the manufacturer, go HERE.

*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.

Superdrug Swipe & See Make Up Bags

I’ve had several queries about the sequin bags I’m using in some of my pictures, so I thought I’d flag them up. Some of the bags come from other sources (I have a friend who works for an accessories company so I get to borrow props sometimes) but the sequin bags I’ve mostly been using are from Superdrug.

Superdrug Swipe & See Make Up Bags

The sequins are sewn in such a way that you can run your hand over them and reveal a different colour either all in one go or in different patterns as you choose. Actually, if you’re carrying them about in your handbag, you never know what they’re going to look like when they come out! You can get them in white, blue, red, silver and lilac/silver and they’re a snip at £5.99 each or buy one, get one half price. You can find them HERE.

Non Aff HERE

*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.

Bourjois Satin & Metal 24H Eyeshadows

These beauties have already launched into Superdrug, BUT I think that Superdrug have used the French names rather than the UK names because I’ve been in all kinds of confusion for about an hour. I will try and translate across as we go. So, to the actual product. If you like a liquid eye shadow, these are beautifully pigmented and blend nicely enough. However, there’s quite a lot of alcohol in them (I got a brief sting on my lids) so they’re a no-no if you have sensitive lids.

Bourjois Satin & Metal 24H Eyeshadows

There are two metallic shades, Or du Commun and Iron Woman, while the rest are in a satin finish. I’d never use the doe’s foot applicator to apply these – if you have a small eye brush use that instead. The formula is creme to powder so you can dust out residue when it’s dry. There’s something really satisfying about gliding a wet formula from a brush to your lids and feeling an instant coolness. I used one of the lighter shades in testing and it did last well although it’s going to entirely depend upon how oily your lids are as to how long the colour lasts. It’s durable for sure, and it didn’t tighten on my lids to the degree that lines were exacerbated but I feel 24 hours is an overly strong claim.

Right, ahead with the swatches (applied with a brush, not the doe’s foot) with UK and French names, UK first. Mauve Your Body (Sur’prunez Moi), Lala ‘Vande (Mon Gris Gris), Beige-Seller (l’Echappee Beige), Iron Woman (not listed yet), Or du Common (not listed), Abracadabra Brown (Abracabra Bown) Drive me Greyzee (Bluetiful). They’re £6.99 HERE.

non Aff HERE

*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.

Yes, summer sadness is a thing. It’s not just you. It’s not quite the same as winter SAD but summer can set off a whole ocean of conflicted or unhappy feelings. I’m no expert other than knowing how it is to feel underwhelmed by summer sometimes and definitely a winter SAD sufferer, so please add in all your own tips that you feel might help in the comments section.

Routine Disruption

You’re just ticking along nicely, and along comes some good weather and sunshine and all routines go out of the window. If you’ve got young children, for example, try telling them it’s fine to go to bed in daylight. It just feels all wrong – I remember it felt wrong when I was a child! Early daylight can mean you wake earlier, disrupting your sleep so you don’t get quite enough each night. If you wake at a 5am dawn, your mind can easily go into overdrive, worrying and stressing. Tip: If you find yourself waking too early, pop on a podcast or watch a TV show on your phone or iPad with earphones. It’s brain custard we’re looking for here, not challenging viewing, to distract from negative thinking. The more you are prepared to just go with it with early waking and accept that you are resting if not actually sleeping, the more likely you are to nod off again or at least relax with the situation.

Social Pressure

Instead of looking forward to going home after work, a warm spell can make you feel you should be out having an amazing time, drinking Pimms in cool outside bars or locating the nearest lido. Co-workers ask how you spent the gorgeous sunny evening and you’re embarrassed to say you watched Coronation Street as per, because it doesn’t seem quite worthy or interesting enough of a way to spend a ‘sunny’ evening. Tip: Don’t bow to competitive summeriness – say you made iced tea and leave it there. It’s nobody’s business but yours how you spend your time, unless you genuinely feel you’re missing out in which case, see Hopelessness at the bottom of the page.

Body Issues

The blessing of winter, despite the cold, is that you can harbour unshaven everything without even thinking about it under woollies and jeans. In summer, you’re positively expected to transform your top, middle, legs and feet into a walking beachwear shoot. Arms, legs, cleavage and toes are all expected to be bare, smooth and tanned and that in itself is a challenge if you feel self-conscious about your body. If you have particular body bugbears, facing your morning wardrobe can make you feel unworthy and bring safely over-wintered body worries leaping to the fore. Tip: A couple of maxi dresses are the answer to everything – the cover all your worries while looking completely right for the season. If the season has triggered bigger issues about your relationship with your body, acknowledge them as momentum to get help to tackle the feelings. Body acceptance is far more important than what you wear or whether your legs are a bit stubbly but feeling less self conscious about how you look while you tackle that will help. (Image from Hush HERE but Boden has decent options HERE ).

Overheating

Feeling uncomfortably hot all of the time is horrible – it’s a very different thing to having a gentle warm breeze blowing over you on a beach to having to cope an with a daily commute in a country to which air conditioning is considered exotic. People deal with heat differently – some literally sail through it claiming to love the hot weather and bask like sharks at even a shaft of sunlight. For others, it causes worries about sweating, looking red and flushed and even exacerbating existing skin conditions. Tip: The reality is that all the water in the world won’t make you cold but you can take at least the edge off overheating. Carry a cold compress with you in a canvas bag that you’ve had in the freezer overnight. It will take you through your morning commute and if you have a freezer at work, you can top it up there. Have a cool shower before you leave the house, and invest in a cooling stick or spray. They’re momentary in effectiveness but it’s a good moment!

InstaBlues

Social media does nothing to help the cause of those who feel sad in summer. Watching perfect people on perfect beaches wearing perfect bikinis having a wonderful time – no. Instagram isn’t a motivator when you’re feeling down – it serves up daily helpings of the life you feel you should have, the body you don’t have and the food you know you should eat but don’t. Knowing that it’s an illusion for the most part doesn’t help the feelings that you’re somehow missing out on something major, which in turn leads to feeling excluded from some secret wonderful life. Tip: If you feel emotionally wobbly in summer, disable the app for a couple of months or unfollow anyone that you know could trigger these feelings. You can follow them back when they’ve returned from a summer in LA or Ibiza or wherever. Use Twitter instead which is far less visual and be picky about who you follow or let into your timeline. You have to be your own happiness monitor on social. (Bikini mine, £26 ish, from M&S HERE).

Hopelessness

Hopelessness is very close to helplessness. How do you unlock the fabulous summer life that everyone but you is having? It’s incredibly isolating to feel the whole world but you is having fun. The reality is that many people have these feelings so finding something over summer that you know you will really enjoy puts a kind of purpose to the months. So, whether it’s that you set yourself a five musical challenge (go see five musicals), a five museum challenge (self -explanatory from here!) or even try five cocktails you’ve never had before (not all at once obviously)… you will have achieved and experienced. Grow herbs in a window box or garden, enrol in summer classes, get a new recipe book and experiment with different foods… it doesn’t really matter what you do other than that you’re doing it. Tip: Achievements are key to battling feelings of not being able to help yourself during summer, and they absolutely do not need to be high achievements or noble experiences. You can kick climbing Kilimanjaro off the list! Smaller effort achievements absolutely count. Talk through with a friend or family member what are reasonable achievements for you during the summer and get planning – sometimes it’s just that little mindset switch that can take the edge of feeling hopeless in summer.

Important NB: Summer depression is real – if you’ve tipped over the edge from summer sadness to full depression and you’re able to recognise it as such, you need to seek help from your GP. The further reading below will help you understand the difference.

Further Reading: The Cut, Everyday HealthSmithsonian, Dokteronline.

*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.

Suqqu Summer 2018

We’ve already had some Suqqu summer gorgeousness that launched in April (I am sure it’s mostly sold out but for reference, it’s HERE) but now there’s a second collection, this time the Global collection. The previous one – remember those gorgeous graduated shades – was a UK exclusive. Starting with the palette above, Akenastu, as you can see it’s got a gorgeous, vibrant orange as well as a less vivid, more muted shade in a similar vein. What’s interesting is that it’s paired with a shimmering grey – twinkly and deep – and an almost white, highlighting shade. I actually find, once on the lid, the two oranges only subtly different with the brighter hue being marginally more ‘alive’ than the other. Once you put the grey shade with the orange, it shifts a bit brown, so this is a great combination for someone with my colouring (brown eyes, brunette).

Suqqu Summer 2018

This, however, is more problematic! It’s called Himawari and as you can very well spot, it has a yellow shade alongside a safe, soft greeny brown and a light peachy colour. I’ll take on the peach, the olive toned brown and the gold-white but I just can’t do the yellow! This is a global collection and it’s safe to say that many people are far more open to yellow shadow than me. In theory I love it but in practice, it does not love me!

Suqqu Summer 2018

I’m very side tracked from the palettes by these stunning glosses – the metallic version (Mizusuna) is simply stunning because it puts a near translucent sheen on the lips that draws light whichever way you turn. I keep going back to my mirror to look – it’s so understated and yet so impactful. The juicy tomato red shade (Toubi) is also highly translucent – perfect for me as a non-scary red that I can wear with ease. These are delicious formulas – sheer, silky, non-sticky and yet don’t disappear after two minutes. If you’re full up on palettes, I’d more than recommend these for summer lightfulness. As you can see, there is also a highlight stick – again, quite understated but glides effortlessly over the skin and gives a glint of sheen over the cheekbones.

Suqqu Summer 2018

Finally, I’ve found my blush for summer! This creme blush, Tsuyakogare, is quite literally perfect – it’s creamy without being slippy, it’s exactly the right colour for a warming slither of sun-on-skin but with none of the shimmer that usually comes with bronzer and it blends so seamlessly that it looks completely natural. I’m fairly sure I’ll need to have a second one if it’s limited edition – this love is going to die in one season!

Suqqu Summer 2018

In the swatch, it’s the first palette followed by the second.

Suqqu Summer 2018

Both glosses followed by that gorgeous creme blush and the highlighter. Hurry up 24th May!

*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.

Grace Smoke Beauty Bag

I don’t mind that I’m not a rigorously tidy person. I’m not chaotic, but my bar is low when it comes to keeping things in a meticulous manner. When I think about my friends, we divide quite evenly into tidy and messy – or organized and disorganized. The messy amongst us always want to be more tidy, while the none of the tidies want to be more messy! While there’s plenty of research on how tidies are more likely to be bosses, and messies are more likely to be creative, there’s nothing on how we divide as a nation. Are there more messy people than tidy people? I need to know!

Messy doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things but there are some times when being more organized is genuinely helpful. Few people have a big bathroom these days, so having a place for our beauty stash in limited space makes all of the difference – particularly when you’re rushing in the morning. Travel is a time when I make a big effort to have all my products in good order – I just don’t want to be that person throwing away my favourite moisturisers at the airport because I didn’t get it together enough to decant.

Victoria Green Beauty Traveller Bags

Over at Victoria Green, tidy is what they do best. In fact, they’re so good at tidy that Marks & Spencer has just picked up their line of wash bags and beauty cases. For those of us lacking the tidy gene or without the enviable packing skills that we can see on Instagram, they’re exactly what we need.

Grace Smoke Geometric Beauty Bag

Drilling down to the attention to detail – it’s things like detachable extras so you can have a smaller, clear bag for going through security with your flight essentials inside that then clips back to the body of the bag so everything is kept together once you’ve landed. The options of a removable tray so you can have a top and bottom layer (in my head, it’s top layer for make up and bottom layer for bottles and jars) and the fact that the whole bag folds flat so you can pack more easily. It’s the things you didn’t know you needed that make all of the difference.

Grace Smoke Geometric Beauty Bag

Now, are you a hanger or a rester? I’m a rester, but if you’re a hanger, that’s covered too. You can allow the Grace Smoke Geometric Beauty Bag to open out to hang on the back of the bathroom door so you can see absolutely everything and exactly where it is.

You know in a hotel when they don’t give you any room to get your make up and cleansers out by the sink? That problem is gone with this 3-in-1 system. Grace folds flat or hangs (other bags in the range have a designated hook), has transparent pockets (ear-rings!) and is waterproof – you can (if you check with your airline) pull out the transparent bag and use it as your in-flight bag.

For day to day transportation, I love the Lucy Smoke (below) in a slim-line format that also – if you need it to – folds out flat and is also waterproof (they all are – of course!) to catch spills. The big benefit here is that it fits long size palettes and make up brushes.  If you’re not such a make up lightweight, you might want to look at the 3-In-1 Amy Sage Floral – three bags that clip together to become one, or two or all separate. One of them is completely transparent so that’s your check-in bag and it might be all you need for your whole trip. It’s really just as you like and depends on just how much you need to take with you on any given day.

Lucy Smoke Beauty Case

And that’s the whole point of a brand that takes the effort out of organization – they’ve second guessed the minds of the messy and satisfied the needs of the tidy in one neat, stylish collection. The brand has quizzed hundreds of travellers – they’ve done immaculate research into the packing habits of the muddled, the meticulous and everyone in between, turning what they’ve learned into what we need. No wonder M&S is all over this range. If you want to take a look, you’ll find everything HERE with prices starting at £20.

Images: @labelsforlunch

*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.

Velvotan Mitts

I *think* self tan was invented before self tan applicators – it seems inconceivable now that we applied self tan with bare hands but I am absolutely sure I remember orange palms and the confusion of avoiding them because you’d end up washing the tan off your hands. Or perhaps I just didn’t know about tanning mitts! It’s possible.

Anyway, Velvotan has taken to bringing out these handy, save your palms application mitts in bright and summery designs rather than just letting them go plain. I love that extra effort to be honest – it’s a very utilitarian product made much more happy looking by a bit of effort and thought. In past years we’ve had leopard print, flamingos and zebra stripes. This year we’ve got pineapples, palm trees and iridescent metallic to make the job fractionally less of a chore! They’ll be everywhere soon – I keep forgetting it’s not actually summer yet – so keep an eye out.

*all products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.