Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Top Finds for 2014

It’s hard to believe half the year has gone by already, but summer is fast approaching and as every beauty junkie would admit, it’s a great time to start stocking up on some favourites to see you through the warmer months and upcoming holidays.

I've discovered some fantastic new products so far this year, so here’s a round-up of a particular few that stand out in my mind:

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle
This wonder spray truly is a miracle product, and I don’t say that lightly. It is available exclusively through Birchbox’s online shop, (which this is open to subscribers and non-subscribers alike - although I would highly recommend subscribing, they are half the reason I've discovered so many great brands this year!).

This spray smells absolutely divine, and just a couple of spritzes will leave your hair feeling incredibly soft, shiny and easier to style. I particularly love this spray because it works equally well with dry frizzy hair as it does with oily hair. I tend to get oily roots and dry ends and this seems to balance them both out beautifully.

They have also recently extended their line to include shampoo, conditioner and a hair oil. If these new additions are anything like this spray then I have no doubt that this brand is here to stay and will only get bigger and bigger as time goes by. Do yourself and your locks a favour and give this stuff a try, you will not be disappointed! And just in case you’re not convinced by my rave review, check out these other opinions

Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation
I’d never deny it – I am a total brand snob when it comes to makeup, perfume and hair products. I’ll happily stock my wardrobe with the likes of Primark, but when it comes to beauty products I tend to believe in the mantra that you get what you pay for. It’s also the one area where I enjoy the occasional splurge and to feel as though I am treating myself. So with this in mind, it is with a certain amount of scepticism that I approached this foundation.

Post-holiday the other month, my purse was a little worse for wear and I was in desperate need of something new as my previous supply of foundation had run low. I had tried a sample in a magazine of Rimmel’s popular wake me up line before, and had also read a fair number of favourable blog reviews, so I decided to give it a try.

I have to admit: I am totally sold. My skin always dries out and goes a little flaky with foundation, so I've always chosen ones that boast about being super moisturising, however this one isn't especially known for being moisturising and yet it doesn't dry out my skin at all. It offers great coverage without looking heavy, and it also lasts all day. Once or twice I do confess that I have left my makeup on overnight and even then when I wake up it has survived and not flaked off.

For less than £10 I am thoroughly impressed with this foundation and will probably continue buying it over my previous choice, saving me over £15!

Kérastase Resistance Volumactive Mousse
Despite there being a lot of it, my hair always tends to look extremely flat and limp, to the point where the shape of my ears becomes visible underneath as the day goes on! I have practically tried every volume product out there, and although a little pricey, I've never come across one that works as well as this one does.

Using a small amount spread through the roots of damp hair, followed by blow drying upside down gives my hair incredible volume and root lift that I've never experienced before, and more importantly this is an effect that stays put. I've used this for both nights out and day-to-day in the office, and from windy streets to hot bars your ‘do will stay put.

One pointer I would mention, is that after using this you would need to wash your hair to get rid of the effect, so those who only like to wash their hair 2-3 times a week this may be more of a nights-out only product rather than daily.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Going Native

There’s a new buzzword in town, and it’s all about going native. No, I’m not talking about Tarzan, I’m referring to the latest trend in marketing…or should I say the latest re-discovered trend.

Because here’s the first revelation – native advertising is nothing new. It’s simply gone through a bit of a rebrand. I’m the same as most marketers when I first come across a new term being used in every other article I read, and simply google it until I’ve worked out exactly what it means. 

So to explain native advertising in the simplest way, it is basically a directly paid opportunity. If an ad hasn’t paid to be there, it’s not native.

You are 40.17 times more likely to have twins
than you are to click on a banner ad
It is also usually content based, with information that is useful, interesting and highly targeted, and is delivered in-stream. To be a native ad, it cannot disrupt the user experience. The purpose of a native ad is to offer relevant content to a user who is already highly engaged, as opposed to a flashy banner ad with your company’s logo. Some broad examples of native ads would include paid search units on Google, promoted listings on Twitter and sponsored content updates on LinkedIn. 

With content led marketing taking centre stage in recent years, this form of advertising has naturally grown in popularity, often with brands creating their own content to support their native advertising programmes. This is also supported by the evolution of social media, and the way in which our audiences are increasingly engaging with content through likes, shares, trends etc.  From a brand perspective, it is the most viable solution to the ’death’ of banner ads. 

Wondering how and why to use it? Consider it part of an overall content-led marketing strategy. Often a company’s own content will be delivered via their own channels such as email, blog posts, social media accounts etc. Native advertising is simply the term used to describe the delivery of content through a paid channel instead. It gives you the chance to repurpose your content, and to ‘borrow’ a bit of brand credibility from a media property. 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

London Lifestyle Part 2: Borough Wonderland

Borough Market is one of my all time favourite haunts. Seated right by the river just two minutes from London Bridge, it is a gastronomic wonderland. Be prepared to come here with an empty stomach and a full wallet, only to leave with the two reversed. However, despite being a bit pricey, it is well worth exploring. The market itself is packed with an endless number of options from shrimps to champagne, and each time you go you will always find something new you just have to try.

On Stoney Street itself there a fair few restaurants including one of my faves, Black and Blue, a delicious steakhouse.

You can stand under my umbrella-ella at
Vineopolis in Borough Market
Right opposite it is Vinopolis, a large restaurant and bar that they have split into several smaller rooms. There's a wine bar, a gin bar and a pub with its own on-site micro brewery. There's also a great outdoor seating area, complete with cover from an unexpected downfall with the array of umbrellas suspended above your head.

Keep walking down towards the river past the beautiful Southwark Cathedral (a must see in the evening when lit up), and you will suddenly be confronted by a pirate ship.

If you don't fancy climbing aboard for a pirate complete with eye patch to show you round (seriously, he even puts on the oooh arrr accent and everything), then skip on past it and enjoy a drink right on the river thanks to the decking by the Thameside Inn, a pub that always somehow escapes the endless tourists and never seems too busy.

Round the corner is the Anchor, unfortunately it doesn't quite escape the crowds as much as the Thameside Inn as it's quite popular more often than not on any weekday or weekend evening. However it is well worth heading there for at least one or two drinks at some point, as it also has a huge terrace out the front on the river and the pub itself is gorgeous with lots of tiny little rooms that feel like private bars. 

From here you can explore the Southbank and it's numerous entertainments, as well as the Tate museum and the Globe theatre. It can be a great choice for a cheap or even free day out, with lots of live performers and plenty of free exhibitions at the Tate.

Along the Southbank itself is a fantastic selection of boutiques, offering an array of gift ideas and unique products, including artwork, jewellery, homeware, clothing, and books.

There is always something new on offer on what seems like a daily basis, and it couldn't be better for those on a budget as you'll be spoilt for choice between the market samples and the performers offering entertainment as you stroll along the river. So if you're looking for a day out that's easily accessible in central London, but want to avoid the west end-style crowds and extortionate prices, look no further than Borough and the Southbank.