Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Birchbox Beauty Box | Reader Offer

I love receiving my monthly suprise box of beauty tricks from Birchbox* : A selection of suprise deluxe-sized products from a range of different brands, some household names, some even I have never heard or seen before...which is great! The July Beauty Box *Sun, Sea & Sand* themed, contained a really diverse selection of bits n' bobs, odds n' sods.
LAQA & CO: Lip Lube (!). This is my no.1 discovery of this month's Birchbox. Absolutely prefect for summer skin / festivals and holidays as this bright pop of colour brightens up the face instantly and psssssss you can also use this on your cheeks for a glowy flush. I have the 'Bee's Knees' shade which is bright pinky coral and something I will wear a lot. This is going straight into my FESTIVAL ESSENTIALS /IBIZA packing list!

Gilchrist & Soames : English Spa Sea Kelp extract mineral bath. This is a foamy bath gel that smells very fresh, unisex and clean. It reminds me of something you would find in a hotel bathroom?! Haven't got round to actually bathing with it yet as it's shower season but will keep for my travels.

Balance Me : Wonder Eye Cream. I love Balance Me and thus far, everything I have used I have liked. This is a luxe size of their eye cream which I would say would last a good 2-3 weeks so I'm made up with this. 

Weleda : Millet Nourishing Shampoo. I have used this before and really like it. This is a basic shampoo, great for all hairtypes and all the family. Organic, lovely and smells wonderful.

Whish : Lavender Body Butter.  My 2nd favourite discovery in the beauty box. I love the quirky packaging and this body cream smells absolutely delicious! Not your typical granny-esque lavender, but it has this wonderfully sweet twist to it. All naturally sourced and organic ingredients. Just from trying this, I am instantly keen in trying more from this brand.

Ultradex : Oral spray. Birchbox are you trying to tell me something?? A handbag-size breath spray to keep you fresh on the go.

READER OFFER : I have an exciting offer for all my readers which is open until August the 12th. If you use the discount code : BBX5LAURALOU , you will get £5 of your first box when you subscribe to Birchbox. It cost £12.95 inc P&P per month/box so your first one will be just £7.95! Also, you can cancel your subscription at any time if you don't think they are for you, or aren't enjoying the products you are sent.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Festival Essentials : Intelligent packing.

'Tis the season : For weekends away, Sun trips and of course those not so glamourous festivals! I am a bit of a seasoned festival-goer and have worked at and attended quite a few over the years. One thing I am really rather good at is packing essentials to make your life easier, streamline the beauty stuff, and ensure that you don't have an overloaded bag of underused stuff. This is the kind of stuff I will take for a 2-dayer with one night of camping - eurgh I don't think I could do more.
Key things to pack/Survival Kit: Wellies: Festival chic staple. I have hunters and have had them since my horseriding days like 15 years ago, but don't feel like you have to splash out £70 for a one-off pair of festive wellies, there are some really great & cheap alternatives out there.

 Blister plasters: This is a continuation from above if you chose to go realllllly cheap for your wellies and they will rub your feet to sh*t. When you take them off half your foot may come off along with. Blister plasters are a godsend.

Torch: You forget that it gets dark and there is zero light in tents, so how the HELL are you supposed to get ready/change in the PM or find the loo in the night? Must. Take. Torch.

Sunglasses: Non expensive. Perf time to crack out those Primarni specials, there is NO WAY you should be taking expensive or designer sunglasses for a trip that is involving camping, drunkeness and hazy memories.
 Baby wipes: T.H.E festival hero. These can be used for makeup removal, light cleansing and even an in-tent shower/wash if you are desperate. 

Take a temporary wallet: Yeah, I'm not taking my bulky mulbz wallet to a festival for numerous reasons. Any night out, small-handbag scenario AND festivals I take this cheapo zip purse I think I got from Claire's Accessories like 5 years ago for 99p. It holds a card and enough cash and is teeny tiny. Try not to leave valuables/cards in your tent , anything of value should fit in your dancing bag or you should wear it! I usually take mainly cash and a card for back-up. (those cash machines always charge you and the Q's are boring)

Compact Mirror: I really like this one from Sue Moxley and have used this in my handbag for years! It has a a magnified side and a normal side plus an extra bonus that it lights up at the touch of a sneaky side button.

Tweezers: Stray hairs, applying lashes, thorns in the feet and other weird crap that happens to you at a festival - have these on standby! I love the mini Tweezerman ones for travel.

Extra Socks: They get lost, they get dirty, and you need to change them a couple times a day with all that dancing and mud-sliding. Remember a nice cosy pair for sleeping in a tent too as it can get colder in the in the night.

Sample sachets Galore: ALL YOUR SKINCARE/BEAUTY! 1 x moisturiser, 1 x eye cream, 1 x cleansing oil and I take along my weeny bioderma which I refill as I need. Get any other bits you need, then keep them in one of those airport security bags so they are easy to see and find.

(Tent cleansing! I will use cleansing Oil neat onto a cotton pad straight into my face and then emulsify and sweep off with cotton pads soaked in Bioderma - the nearest thing you will get to a double cleanse in the confinements of a tent)
Mini first Aid Kit: Ok this is me being very organised, but I will usually take a medicated cream (savalon or like), some normal plasters, along with the blister plasters, some alcohol swabs and some PAINKILLERS.

KIKO body crystals: These are really cool for parties and festivals and really quick and easy to apply. Wear them on your face and/or body and they are easy to stick on with a bit of glue and the tweezers this kit comes with. These are on offer for just £6.20 at the moment!
Mini hairbrush: I think these cost like £4 from The Body Shop and I've had it for many, many years. Does the job for a temporary basis/ few days/ festival and more importantly they take up no space in the raving bag. 
 Dry Shampoo: Wash your hair well the night before you go and you won't have to bother until you get home. A good spritz of dry shampoo in the AM freshens the hair, absorbs oil and gives it a bit of life. I usually always wear my hair down on day 1 and then day 2 it needs to go up in some kind of boho-chic fashion. I love the Percy & Reed minature dry shampoo.

High SPF Suncream: So many burnt faces at festivals. I love this small travel size from Apivita. It's a great *natural* one that is perfect for sensitive skins & is SPF50 which is what you need when you aren't wanting to re-apply every 15 minutes. Even with a 50 you WILL need to keep re-applying depending on how strong the sun is in the day, please try not to forget as dancing, alcohol and too much sun really can ruin your weekend/ mini-break.
  Suitable Shoes: Aside from wellies which are a saviour for rain & mud, I always live in a comfy pair of trainers for when times aren't so dreary. I see girls stumbling around in heels and it's just not the way forward. How are you supposed to dance all night in huge platforms?
 A small *raving* bag: I usually take my Mulberry Anthony bag (actually a man's bag) because it's a perfect size to carry a few essentials, and it sits perfectly on across the body so you can dance the night away / fall over / roll around without worry of losing this bag. I have had it for years and it's been with me on many floors ; super sturdy and wears beautifully. It's good to take a small bag with a few zips and compartments inside the keep different things safe. Drunkiness + riffling around in a huge bag of stuff = missing out on the action & music. 
 A small makeup bag: I will decant a foundation into something really small,and take as many mini-makeup things and multi-use things as I can find. Longwear /waterproof is also preferable so you don't have to worry about re-applying throughout the day/night. Try and keep the base/foundation breathable, a bright lip colour is always fun & the KIKO sportproof eyeliner is a godsend.
 Multi-use balm :I love Yube, Elizabeth arden, Dr lipp, Lucas PawPaw something like these. Only take one and use it for all kinds of things : dry lips & skin, taming brow hairs, cuticles, hand cream etc.

A couple of supermarket plastic bags:  Boring but essential! For makeshift rubbish bins or putting dirty/wet clothes and other things in. You'd be suprised how handy these are.

Jim Jams! So many times I'm focused on what I'm wearing that I have forgotten overnight stuff to change into. 

A decent camera phone: forget taking a camera plus phone just double up and save space with something that does both....and well! I have an iphone 5 which is fine but the battery is terrible and I have many a times been lost and left without any battery amongst hoards of people at a festival. I now prefer my Nokia Lumia 1020* which I honestly think has a better camera than my actual digital camera. *puts digital camera away and starts to use this phone for my blog photos*

It is 41 megapixels and the pictures are absolutely flawless. The phone is nice and slimline and the battery lasts for ages so no worries about being caught short on your own, in a field, and feeling miserable! I took it away for THREE DAYS to the country and it did not need charging up at all.
Phone holder/Neck pouch : I haven't actually got one of these yet, but have just been looking around on the interweb and something like this would be really good so you have easy access to your phone (MUST NOT CEASE SOCIAL NETWORKING) without fear of it being lost or even worse, snatched. 

Two large bottles of water: A pain to carry in but you won't have to carry out. You will always need water in the tent. Hangover mouths and even for brushing teeth.

Eye patches & ear plugs: There comes a time when you just need a bit of shut-eye and these will be your best friend. If you ever go on a longhaul flight, always keep the pack they give you as they will have these items in. I never go to a festival without them.

If you are super vain and need your straightners, hair washed etc then save packing it all and go and use facilities at the festival. More often than not they will have pamper booths, hair straightning areas and even hair washing stations. I hope this helps with your party packing, ibiza weekends, festival fun and glamping trips! 

Are you going on any short trips or have been already this summer? I am going to Ibiza at the end of August for my hen do (gulp) and can't wait for that. I think I'm also going to go away for a short break with the fiancee before that, somewhere in the UK country which will also be nice!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Too Faced Makeup | New Products & Cocktail Making.

I was invited along for a chocolate cocktail making session with Too Faced makeup to celebrate their chocolate makeup obsession & see some of the fabulous new products coming out. I've never done any kind of *proper* cocktail making before and I had SO much fun. It was held in a private bar in Shoreditch, London and we all had our own cocktail-making station fully loaded with all we needed to whip up some chocolate-inspired boozy creations. The class was lead by a super knowledgaeble Mixoligist (I think that's what these cocktail peeps are called?!) and he taught us the basics of cocktails, a little sprinkle of history and the more-important function of mixing, pouring and serving.

I am seriously considering going back as part of my London hen-do 
celebrations as this kind of thing would be great for a bunch of friends to do before a night out. You can read up more about that here.
Anyway onto the more important things ; MAKEUP! 
  New products:
Things to look forward to coming from Too Faced is the Bulletproof 24hr eyeliners, that come in 8 wearable and gorgeous shades. Soft and easy-to-use, these liners can be used for precision or use with the small blending ball to create instant smokiness that is crease/smudge and budge-proof. £19 
There is the 'Cat Eyes' palette that contains 9 complimentary shadows that can be worn wet/dry. Contains a glamour booklet that offers step-by-step application instructions for 3 lovely looks. £32.
They are also launching some incredible Cocoa Powder foundations (£28) which have the exclusive cocoa complex which helps the skin retain moisture, reduces the appearance of fine lines and open pores whilst giving a medium-to-full coverage. This cocoa complex is antioxidant rich so also acts as a protective shield and it smells like chocolate!  I have used and loved their Chocolate Bar palette for months which also contains this special cocoa complex and it's absolutely brilliant. 
All these products are launching on August 11th into Debenhams stores and online.
  I was lucky enough to get a fabulous goody bag loaded with Too Faced products so will be reviewing them over the next few weeks and will show you some eye looks with the new palette and eyeliners. 

What are your favourite Too Faced products? 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Vichy Normaderm NEW Night Detox.

What if a night cream could control sebum, detoxify the skin and give a clean, fresh sensation? 
 I was already sold from this tagline. My skin is open-pored, combination, a bit breakout and the majority of night creams and treatments out there tend to be for re-hydrated, re-charging and for normal-dry skin. There isn't *loads* out there on the mass-market for us oily girls & boys. If you are like me, you double/triple/quadruple cleanse in the PM to rid of any makeup and all that excess oil that builds up on your skin during the day; my skin usually feels wonderful as I get into bed, and once I wake up, it again feels dirty, oily and just meh. This is because at night, the skin is recovering & renewing itself which in turn, produces sebum (oil as we know it). This, in turn, can cause the pores to become blocked and we wake up looking MEH.

The new Normaderm Night Detox* is a lightweight cream that is all about anti-imperfection and clarifying the skin. It slows down the nightly sebum production = upon wakening in the AM, the skin will  have less sebum/oil, imperfections reduces, pores look less visible, the skin feels clean and the skin looks brighter. I am imagining sleeping beauty waking up right now with birds singing etc. This sounds almost too good to be true.
How does it detox + Purify the skin? The Normaderm Night Detox contains a cocktail of handpicked ingredients targeted towards oily & imperfect skintypes. 

* EPERULINE This is a tree branch extract from the amazon, which is a powerful antioxidant with the important anti-inflammatory properties. Very calming to the skin
*LHA This has an anti-bacterial action to unclog the pores.
*SALICYLIC ACID My hero product! Love me a bit of salicylic. It's an absolute go-to for oily and breakout skins, LOOK for this in your creams & treatments. This is like a corkscrew cleaner for pores, it also exfoliates dead skin cells off the skin's surface and regulates oil production.
*H.E.P.E.S Let's not spell or say that wrong. HEPES is an ingredient I am familiar with as it is also in the Kiehl's Overnight Biological peel treatment which I have used in the past. It is a gentle exfoliating agent.
*PERLITE This is like a natural sponge, that holds 5 times it's weight in sebum, so absorbs oil away from the skin.

I have been using this literally since the launch (1 week) as I was so drawn to it, and can safely say it's a bit of a wonder product for my skin. I use it straight after cleansing in the PM and it is lightweight, feels really cooling and fresh on my skin and I DO wake up with less oil on my skin and my pores look smoother for sure. Longterm, I think it will help keep my skin clearer and in check, and it's perfect for right now in the British summer when your skin doesn't need as much product. When winter comes I think I will need a touch more hydration so will probably switch up back to a clarifying night oil. If you have any signs on your skin of what I have been talking about and can familiarise with any of the above problems, then 100% look into this. It costs £15.50 which I think is very reasonable and is available at the usuals : Boots, Escentual & Feel unique & many more online retailers and in-store.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

My BARRY M makeup factory tour.

Barry M was the first makeup brand that I EVER used. Those little pots of loose pigment slowly gathered in my makeup bag, I couldn't get enough of that Barry M colour that I couldn't get anywhere else on the highstreet. Those blues/greens and any other bright pigments I could get my mitts on were the flavour of my later school years and I couldn't get or wear enough. Flash forward like 15 years and I still use a fair bit of Barry M, I love their bright eye & lip pencils in my professional kit and the Gelly nail polishes are some of my favourite polishes ever. I was bordering ectastic when I got invited up to have a look around their makeup factory in North London, I've been to a fair few factories before through TV & filming but I have never been into a makeup factory and it was so interesting to see all the empty bottles being filled and the process of making the lipsticks. (all still done by hand by the way!)

I met with Barry's son, Dean who is running the brand now and he gave us a guided tour around. Aside from showing us the ins and outs of this small factory, we learnt some interesting facts about this entirely British are some of the things I learnt, that I NEVER knew about this fascinating brand:

* Barry M, stands for founder and owner Barry Mero who founded the company in 1982 when he saw a gap in the market for vivid colours on the high street.
* Nearly ALL the cosmetics are made in this small factory in Mill Hill.
* All in-house marketing, production, warehouse and distribution 
* There are over 250 colours in the Barry M range
* Barry M is a cruely-free company and NEVER and will never test these products on animals. They will never sell in countries that demand animal testing.
* All products are vegetarian and most are vegan.
* All products are 'Big Three Free' : No DBP, Formaldehyde & Toluene. Also no acetone are in the nail polish formulations which is why they may take a little longer to dry.

  It was super interesting to see the different methods of mixing and creating the different products which I am so used to seeing on the shelves of Boots and using myself at home, I honestly found it so facinating. I got semi-involved and go to fill my own nail polish via the machine and got to keep the polish that I filled. No idea why this makes a difference but it made this polish feel super special and I don't want to give it to anyone!

At the end of the factory tour I got to make my very own customised Barry M lipgloss with the help of two of the lab technicians. I picked out the pigments and ratio, chose the fragrance (I think we went with Raspberry) and then mixed it up with the base product, a colourless gel mixture, in a special machine. I have two tubes of this one-off lipgloss which is really special and I still don't want to use them as I will never be able to get that colour again! It's really nice, a nectar peachy pink.
I hope you enjoyed seeing my insight into my Barry M factory tour, it was a great morning and I have come away with a more heartlfelt love for this British brand, after seeing the individuals who work in the factory and how the processes are undertaken amongst what is relatively a small *Barry M-style family*.

What are your favourite Barry M products? Am I missing out on anything I need to try?
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