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THE ESSENTIAL UPGRADE BLOG

With Galaxy

Galaxy have picked five of their favourite up and coming bloggers who each month, with the help of some special guests and celebrities, will inspire us with their personal recommendations on how best to upgrade our lifestyles... adding a little lift to your day has never been so simple!

HAYLEY

LONDONBEAUTYQUEEN.COM

‘A girl with too many lipglosses, a passion for fashion and a love for sitting in tents while listening to music.’

SPRING CLEAN YOUR MAKEUP BAG

The new year doesn't only call for the cobwebs to be swept away from the nooks and crannies of your home, but also for a spring clean of your beauty products and regime. It's very easy to fall into a makeup black hole, forgetting that the small things can make a difference to the way you apply and create makeup looks. These are my top tips for upgrading your makeup bag this forthcoming spring time, with no pennies required!

1. Organise your makeup into seasons. Although the majority of basics are transeasonal, there are certain colours and effects you wouldn't wear in deepest, darkest winter or high summer. You may have different shades of foundation, more intense bronzers, glitter eyeshadows that only come out at Christmas or pastel nail varnishes that only see the light of day when spring starts to simmer. By categorising your products into rough seasons and putting away what you don't need, it's much easier to find what you're looking for and discover shades you'd forgotten about. I know I have a tendency to stick with the eyeshadow palettes I can find most easily, so if you want to try a new look or experiment make sure those lost gems are close at hand.

2. Clean your makeup brushes. This is so important for not only hygiene reasons, but for also getting the most out of your brush performance. Old, stodgy brushes hinder application because the product can't sit on it effectively - it's like trying to paint a wall with an old manky paintbrush, or create a masterpiece using the brushes left over from GCSE art. You can get brush cleaners for a few pounds on the high street, or soaking them in warm water with washing up liquid does pretty much the same job. If you take the opportunity to do this once a month you'll really see and feel the difference, and your makeup application will be flawless.

3. Check the PAO numbers. On the back of every product is a little open jar with a number either inside or on top - this is there to let you know how long you should keep it after opening the product. So many people have mascaras in their makeup bag that have seen them through Uni or concealers they've been using since they were a spotty teenager; this is no less disgusting than using the same toothbrush for 3 years and expecting it to work properly. On average mascaras and liquid liners should be kept no longer than 6 months, whereas eye products, foundations and powders can be kept up to a year. Make sure you go through every product and check if it needs to be chucked away - just think of the bacteria festering... Ewwww.

4. Get some storage boxes. If all your makeup is chucked into one bag then it's going to get all in a mess. We've all got eyeliners without lids, powders that leak whenever they're turned upside down and lipglosses that have seen better days, but if you store them correctly they'll last a lot longer. Get some small boxes or containers (Muji do brilliant ones for only a few pounds) and organise all your eye, face, lip and nail products separately. With all your lipsticks together, you'll be able to see the colour spectrum you have to pick from, so you're more likely to pick something refreshing - why always go for the nude when you can have a bright pink?

5. Play swapsies with your friends. It's easy to buy things on impulse (that 3 for 2 in Boots is the worst culprit,) and then later realise you don't need that bright blue nail varnish at all. However, one girls trash is another girls treasure, so why not have a 'swapsie party' with your friends. Bring along all the products you've never used, opened once and decided it wasn't you, or simply didn't quite suit your complexion. Get your friends to do the same, and voila, you have lots of new things to play with without having to spend a single pound. It's not like we need another excuse for a get together!

ESSENTIAL AUTUMN LIP COLOURS

The woolies and Ugg boots are well and truly out for another year. With a chill in the air and a spring in our step, we've popped on our hats and scarves to brave the cold and unpacked our winter wardrobes from the attic. It's easy enough to transition our clothes into the new season, but most people forget about their makeup. Bright colours, candy shades and bronzers should be banished as soon as the leaves start falling from the trees, in favour of berry hues, subtle blush and statement lips. But what colours should you add to your lipstick collection to ensure you're upgrading your look from summer to autumn? Here are my picks of the kind of colours you should be aiming for, giving your fur-lined cape an extra zing and your biker boots an added edge.

Autumn this season (and many seasons before it) is all about berry colours, deep reds and brown-tinted nudes. Anything to bright should be put on the back-burner until spring, in favour of something spookier, sexier and more subtle. There are three main classifications to remember...

1. Reds: Every girl needs a deep red in their collection, but make sure it has a dirty colour rather than a bright 'Marilyn Monroe' shade to it; deep reds contrast the smokey eye and make lips look good enough to eat. Red lipstick looks beautiful next to dark hair and brings bobble hats to life, so don't be too scared to wear a bold shade in the day to un-frump your woolies.
2. Plums: Bold purples can be intimidating if you've never braved the look before, but you'll mostly be pleasantly surprised as to how they look on lips. Subtler than a bold red but super on-trend, try moving out of your comfort zone for added impact. Don't go too dark, but aim for a semi-sheer shade that adds colour to lips without making you look like you're dressed for Halloween.
3. Nudes: Whereas the warmer months are all about pale lips and pastel pinks, the autumn nude has a brown edge that helps to contrast against paler skin. You should invest in a shade that is at least two tones darker than skin to ensure you don't look like you've frozen to death, ensuring it warms the face rather than washing it out.

With the change in seasons drying out our lips it's also really important to buy a lipstick with added moisture. There are some great products out there that are easy to apply, help prevent moisture loss and even hydrate lips for up to eight hours. The lipsticks below include Topshop, Bobbi Brown, Yves Saint Laurent and Gold by Giles for New Look, so cost isn't important - just make sure you find something you're comfortable wearing and a shade you know you'll wear. Ta-da... You're upgraded and ready for the chill, armed only with a lipstick!

ACCESSORISING YOUR HAIR

Adorning your wrists with bangles, decorating your fingers with rings and piling jewels around your neck is the simplest and easiest way to update an outfit. But what if you're outfit is full of texture, colour, patterns or layering and adding an extra bangle is just a tad too much? When I was little I was obsessed with hair accessories and had a different scrunchie, hairband or flowery grip for every day of the week, but as the years have passed my love for the hair jewels has faded. This season, however, the love is being re-invigorated as hair bobs are a really simple and effective way to upgrade your look in a slightly different way. We can all pop on a hairband or tie our barnet back in a pony, but these innovative and slightly different accessories really help to re-style your look with very little effort required.

Plaits are perfect for the Autumn-Winter season, as they keep hair from flying away or frizzing in the drizzle, so add a touch of glamour by adding this Cross Hair Barrette to the top of the hair. If you want to keep it simple and classic, why not go for a really glamorous and vintage-inspired clip to keep hair off the face, or make your up-do all Downton Abbey with something like this Johnnie Loves Rosie beaded garland. If you're feeling really adventurous (or just going to a fancy dress party after work) then this pearl cat headband is a must... I literally adore it so much I'd happily go to work dressed as a cat every day. To keep it simple but punk up the pony trend, why not add this cute spiked hair tie rather than using a manky old scrunchie from 1994? My favourite of the lot though is this really unusual hanging pearl hair slide, that slips under a bun or ponytail and creates an added bit of glamour to your look, day or night. These are all really simple and inexpensive additions that will make you not only feel a million dollars, but make you look super on-trend and stand out from the rows of girls at the bar with loose Cheryl-Cole-curls. Which hair accessories do you use to upgrade your look?

FRAGRANCE LAYERING

Fragrance is as personal to each individual as their choice of knickers. Sometimes it feels like a comfy day, whereas other times you feel a bit more frilly. I change my scent on a daily basis, picking something that matches my mood, my outfit and the occasion I'm preparing for. My collection consists of around 50 different scents, but sometimes there's not quite the fragrance on offer that I'm after. I was introduced to 'fragrance layering' by Jo Malone; it's their unique concept that helps to build signature scents using various fragrances all at once. This simple idea is the perfect way to upgrade your fragrance from a standard scent, to something that's a little more unique to you. By bringing out your favourite notes it's a fun and easy way to experiment with scents, enabling you to find a combination that otherwise would've remained undiscovered.

The concept is simple. Start with a base scent, be it your favourite day perfume, something you've not worn in a while or maybe even a signature scent that sums up your personality. Using a few little pieces of paper or card, spritz a small amount on to each and start to layer various scents on top. If you're using a rich floral then why not add a touch of citrus zing? If it's a musky fragrance why not try a hint of wood or spice? If you fancy perking up a subtle vanilla, why not add a splash of grapefruit? The possibilities really are endless and the whole experience really opens your mind to what unexpected combinations really rock your world. This is a lot easier to do with simple fragrances (I wouldn't try it with a Britney perfume for example!) which only have a few key notes, which is why Jo Malone is perfect for the concept. You can execute this with any fragrance combination though, from your Calvin Klein to your Miller Harris, with a touch of Molton Brown on the side.

Scent evokes very vivid memories and emotions, but often familiarity with a scent isn't necessarily a good thing. If you really want to create something that's unique to you then layering fragrances gives you that opportunity without having to invest a mountain of cash with a bespoke perfumier. If you're a little bored of your fragrance collection or you just don't know what scent to buy next, this is a great way of experimenting and finding out what you really like to wear. I usually hate floral scents, but I've found a great love for certain florals by using this concept - by layering with citrus notes or topping up with a woody spritz, you can really create something new and fresh. A perfect way to upgrade your staple fragrance while having a bit of fun too!

THE STATEMENT NAIL

In my opinion an outfit is never complete unless you've done your nails. You could have the perfect 'up do' and be holding the most enviable piece of arm candy, but if your nails are a state then the illusion is ruined. I change my nail colour about three times a week, mostly going for bold colours and striking looks that still match the majority of outfits, but every so often I like to bring an extra something to the party... It's called my statement nail. Adorning every single nail with a complex design can be time consuming, laborious and too fussy; making a statement by using one nail on the hands to do all the talking can lift up a look and give the impression you're on-trend and effortless. My nail of choice is my ring finger on my left hand - it's easy to paint, it's the one that always gets seen and it's a finger I never wear a ring on. Perfect!

There are loads of simple things you can do to make a statement that take no time at all. You can paint it a complementary colour, leaving it plain and simple, use a glitter polish to bring a little 'wow' factor without too much bling, or you can create a little bit of nail art. My new favourite design to create is the 'crisscross' - you can create this cute effect using only three polishes and three steps. Firstly just paint all your nails with one statement colour. I've gone for a summery lemon, hoping it will encourage the sun to stay out as long as possible. Yellow is also girlie without being too Barbie, as well as being a shade that pretty much goes with everything. Once the main colour is dry to the touch, use another shade of a similar colour to draw a triangle from the lower third all the way up to the opposite side of the nail. Again, wait for this to dry to the touch (if you don't you'll end up with a gloopy mess) and then repeat with a contrasting colour on the other side.

Not only is the result a complementary coloured statement look, but the colours mixed together create a new shade in the middle of the nail which almost makes it look like tartan. You can do this with darker colours to create a different result, although make sure the shades are contrasting enough to make the design stand out, or even different combinations of light and dark. The whole process takes only a few minutes and it instantly upgrades your look. My other favourite thing to do is just to paint triangles on my nails using metallic or even textured polish - it's amazing to see the difference a little polish makes to the way you feel and how your outfit is brought together. A simple, yet effective upgrade!

STATEMENT NECKLACES

If you're short of cash with the summer holiday looming, but in desperate need of a wardrobe update to keep you going until payday, then adding a statement necklace can instantly update your look. Take a LBD, add a brightly coloured detailed neck collar and you could've stepped straight off the catwalk. Although jewellery has previously been delicate, long and boho-chic, in 2012 it's most definitely about the statement pieces. Celebrities have been seen rocking this look all season long, replicating looks from their favourite designers and draping their decolletage with all kinds of extravagant jewels. The key here is not to go too flashy, tacky or over the top, while ensuring you're making a bold enough statement.

I've been loving bold neck adornments for the last few months and appear to have purchased quite a few! This nude number from H&M goes with everything from plain t-shirts to floral maxi dresses - it's a statement piece while still being subtle enough to wear with anything. It's perfect to add a little detail to complicated patterns while not letting your accessories doing too much of the talking. On the other hand, the statement monochrome and green numbers work best with block colours and muted hues; add with a contrasting orange or blue, or tone down with a LBD or LWD (that's a little white dress FYI.) The benefit of strong pieces like these is that the eye is automatically drawn upwards towards the neckline, meaning the focus is less on your troublesome areas if you worry about lumps, bumps or boobs, and more on your eyes and pouty lips.

There are also simpler neck adornments you can try out if you just want to add a bit of bling to an outfit. Peter Pan collars have been all over the High Street for the last few months, but little necklaces like this one from Dorothy Perkins can create the same look over even the most boring of tops. Add a little pearl collar to t-shirts and they're instantly updated, matching perfectly with a pair of ballet pumps and candy cream nails. Why not spice things up a bit with some spikes or animal print too, using lighter necklaces like these from Topshop to funk up a traditionally feminine outfit in the same way you'd use a biker jacket to toughen up soft colours and fabrics. Miss-matching your accessories is totally on-trend right now, so using mutli-coloured spikes or zebra print with a floral or tribal print will look as awesome as Daisy Lowe on Festival Friday.

Using a statement piece of jewellery is an easy and affordable way of updating your outfits without the need for a huge shopping spree. None of the necklaces I've featured are above £10 either, meaning you can justify investing in a couple to upgrade your look from this season to next. Hardly a day goes buy at the moment when I'm not wearing a bold piece of metal around my neck and I don't intend to change anytime soon! Are you a fan of the statement necklace trend? How do you upgrade your look in a simple way?

ACCESSORISING YOUR LIPS

Many a morning we stumble out of bed, sleepy dust in our eyes, and fall into the shower in the hope that we'll emerge looking like a princess. Unfortunately that rarely happens, so we opt for an uber simple outfit just because it's the first thing to hand. The classic 't-shirt and jeans' combo may be comfortable and easy to wear, but it's not exactly glam enough for that power meeting or sexy enough for after work drinks. One thing can make the world of difference to how you look, feel and act and that one thing comes in the form of a little tube of lipstick. It's the classic 'upgrade' we all know about, but how many of us actually do it? These celebrities are all rocking a lip-popping colour, from Cameron's classic red, to Florence's 'off the moment' purple (matching her accessories to her lipstick is a step up!) and Kristin's slightly more subtle orange. There's a colour to upgrade every occasion and every mood, even if that mood is 'I've just got out of bed so hand me a coffee.'

Adding a bright lipstick to an otherwise understated outfit can bring it to life. A bright red can make your lips pop and instantly inject an element of glamour; a bold pink can channel your inner girlie girl while making you bang on-trend; a juicy orange can lift an outfit into summer and make it a little more rock n roll. It's a subtle secret that the celebrities and stylists often use to jazz up a look, or make simple basics red carpet appropriate - the outfits above would be pretty dull without the bold lip shade bringing all the elements together. Denim and lipstick are a matched made in heaven, so we should all dust off those colours hiding at the back of our makeup drawer and be courageous enough to model them.

I have a huge love for lipsticks and how they can totally lift an otherwise simple outfit. It's also a really lazy trick to use if you don't have time for makeup - a slick of lipstick makes your pout the focus of attention, so you can afford to not bother with creating a strong eye look or putting on fifteen layers of mascara. These are some of my favourite lip colours and ones I frequently fashion when I want to make a bold statement; you don't have to spend a fortune on a lipstick either as there are some great affordable products that can help transform your look as much as an expensive one. Jemma Kidd and Gold by Giles both do really affordable bold shades enriched with moisture so they're easy to wear. YSL offer up their beautifully bold colours in a gold casing fit for a Queen, while Tom Ford brings elegance and detail to a lipstick you'll treasure down to the very last application.

How do you wear lipstick? Are you bold enough to give it a whirl and upgrade your look?
This post is part of my Galaxy Essential Upgrades campaign. Read all about it in my intro post here or check out the Galaxy Facebook page.

GALAXY ESSENTIAL UPGRADES #1:
INTRODUCTION AND WELCOME

If you've ever felt a little bit deflated or a in a need of a little lift, then you know that it's the small things that can really make a difference. You don't have to buy yourself a new Mulberry handbag to make yourself feel better or go on a weekend away to Paris to inject some culture into your life - the smaller things in life can help to make your day a little bit more special. I've teamed up with Galaxy chocolate (yum yum) to help launch their new 'Essential Upgrades' campaign and over the next few months I'll be helping you to find small ways to put a smile on your face.

'Upgrades' are not about freebies or luxury, but all about the things a girl (or boy) can do to make an experience a little bit more special. It could be best kept beauty secrets, hints and tips on how you can upgrade your style and even how to treat yourself to a fabulous night out with your friends on a budget. You can feel a million dollars wearing an old t-shirt with a bright red lipstick - the best things in life don't have to come with a hefty price tag.

This is why Galaxy (yum yum) have assembled a team of Galaxy Essential Upgrades bloggers (myself included) who'll be on hand to show ladies across the nation how they upgrade their looks, their make-up bags, their outfits, and their nights out – whatever! We'll be working with some exciting celebrities too, finding out the little changes to their beauty routine, wardrobe and lifestyle that can make a big impact. I'll be interviewing them in the coming weeks, so make sure you look out for that here and on the Galaxy Facebook page too! I can't wait to get started, bringing you my personal inspiration and little ideas. I may just have to stop myself devouring bars upon bars of Galaxy chocolate while doing so... (yum yum)