Lauren Loves Blog

A blog for fashion, beauty, hair, cosmetics and lifestyle

14 Mar 2019

Sponsored: doggy day trip diary to the Isle of Wight + voucher code

Last weekend, we were lucky enough to be taken to the Isle of Wight by Wightlink with our little doggy Teddy. We had a brilliant day trip exploring the west side of the island, finding great dog walks and a lovely dog friendly cafe. 

We travelled from Lymington in the New Forest to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight

We were in the queue for the ferry and let on really quickly. Ted seemed to enjoy the journey and looking out the window despite being a really anxious dog. He loved looking out the windows. 

We drove down to Brook beach to walk Ted. It was right on the south coast and about a 15-20 minute drive from Yarmouth. It was a wild, windy but sunny day and we had a good explore. It is apparently a great place for fossils so we did some fossil hunting. The cliffs to the side of the sand were amazing colours of blue, turquoise and purple and you could see the white cliffs in the background. 

We found a beautiful, cold waterfall halfway down the beach which Sam started throwing Teddy's ball into, to make him go in the water! 

We then found a big section of rockpools and had a good look in loads of them for little fishies and crabs. We found some anemones and seagulls but that was all. I also didn't find any fossils sadly. 

After a good walk, we were pretty tired and hungry so we went to The Piano Cafe in Freshwater. It was a dog friendly cafe so Teddy could sit in with us while we had a lovely lunch. I had a fish finger sandwich 

And Sam had the Piano burger which was also really lovely. (He won the best choice competition)

We also ordered a fried halloumi salad on the side - yum!

Afterwards we had coffee and puddings. I had one of these melty looking millionaire's shortbreads which was delicious. 

We were then ready for going home in the late afternoon. Teddy was tired out and slept the whole journey home so I can recommend the IOW if you have a hyperactive dog who never stops. 

If you'd like to go to the Isle of Wight with your pup with 30% off, go to and use the code LAUREN which is active until 31st March so get booking!

1 Mar 2019

Picking my Wedding Dress

I got engaged in March 2018 and booked the venue almost straight away for June 2019 (so soon!). I was advised to start shopping for my wedding dress as soon as possible. I have a few friends who chose their dress from Anya Bridal Couture in Wickham, Hampshire - they said it's a huge barn full of every dress you could imagine, and as you could imagine that grabbed my attention. I had previously looked in two small boutiques, but found their range was too limited so I was excited to be able to have a lot of choice. 

I booked in to see the team in late June 2018 and went on a boiling hot Saturday morning with my lovely Mum. I was met by lovely Jayne who looked after me throughout the process. I had no idea what kind of dress I wanted, so I went in with an open mind. Jayne gave me a basket full of pegs to pop on the dresses I liked, and away I went, clip clip clip! After I was done, I sat down with a cuppa and Mum and I had an excited gossip while we waited for Jayne to grab all the dresses and bring them through into my private changing area. This was basically a whole room with a curtained off changing area, and then an area for standing in front of a mirror on a pouffe with sofas all around for guests. 

This was just the no lace ballgown range! 

I was taken into the changing room, and Jayne handed me the first dress, all unbuttoned and ready to go. The lovely thing about the dresses they stock is they are so beautifully made you don't need a bra so you can really see the effect of a strapless or backless dress without having to pack the perfect bra! I was zipped in and walked through the curtains to stand on the little pouffe. All the dresses are very long so this was necessary. Jayne then clipped the dress to make it my size so I could see what the real one would look like. I'd have a little twirl around, stare at the mirror and say yes or no. If it was a yes or maybe, Jayne grabbed a bunch of accessories like veils and belts to help me see how it would look on the day. 

I was given all the time I wanted to be indecisive, try on every veil and accessory in the shop and the best thing was I was allowed to take photos of me in the dresses! I discovered that lots of shops didn't allow this, which made no sense to me. It's such a big decision of course I wanted to trawl through photos to see how I looked from all the angles! 

In the end, I chose my dress - the one - from Anya Bridal. Obviously I'm not going to share it on this post though. All I can say is it's stunning. I absolutely adore it! Strangely, it's the total opposite of what I thought I'd want when I first started shopping, so I'm pleased I tried on lots of styles. It's classic and very "me".

Once I had chosen my dress, I got measured so Jayne could order the right size. It turns out wedding dress sizes are very odd - I was a size 4 bust and 10 waist and hips! (normally I'm just a plain old 8). Despite taking a long time to order, they don't come in custom sizes so we had to pick one. I ordered a size 10 because I was advised to go with the bigger size as it was easier to have parts taken in to fit me. My dress was then ordered and Mum paid half to order, and the other half on collection. 

Fast forward to January 2019 and I received a call saying that my dress had been delivered. It felt like a lifetime to wait, and I was so anxious that it wouldn't fit me, or that it wouldn't suit me. Thank goodness Mum took lots of photos of me in the sample dress so I could repeatedly check that I still loved it! I was again shown into a private changing area where my lovely dress was waiting for me, like an old friend! I was helped into the dress and got to try on lots of accessories again to help me pick how I was going to accessorise on the day. I ended up choosing a belt and veil at Anya which was ordered in for me (they take about 2 weeks so less of a rush to order). 

I now have my dress home. Well, it's at Mum's house because I know if I had it at mine I would be wearing it every day and I'd get foundation on it or something! We've got the seamstress booked for later this month to have it altered to fit like a glove and I can't wait! Of course I'll share photos (@laurenlovesblog on Instagram) and a blog post when I get married so you can see what I picked.

Things I learnt: 
- Start by following local wedding dress shops on Instagram to see what they all have in, and what their styles are like. @anyabridalcoutureuk is full of lots of lovely inspiration and real wedding photos.
- Dresses take about 6 months to arrive after you have ordered them. Make sure you go with plenty of time
- The dresses in the shop are all sample sizes so you're unlikely to try on the size you want. This means you need to have a little imagination. They'll do their best to make it look fitted from each angle, but the sizes can be way off.
- Take someone who is totally honest and don't take too many people. For me, only my Mum can say something critical without me taking it the wrong way but that's just me! I also didn't want to bring friends because I really believe that too many opinions are confusing. 
- Try on one of every style of dress. You may be surprised about what suits you. Once you know what silhouette you like, you can try on all the ones in that style to find "the one".
- It's ok if you don't cry, and it's ok if you do cry! Crying does not mean it's the one. My Mum cried at the first dress I tried on, yet when I tried on the one I chose, we both agreed it was the best dress and she didn't cry! I never cried at all because I'm a stone cold, heartless chic! 
- Take photos! 
- Don't feel you have to say yes to the dress on the day - there was no pressure from Jayne or the team to buy anything.
- Once you've chosen your dress, don't carry on looking at dresses. Your dress is perfect and you picked it for a reason. Dress doubt is horrible. 


13 Jan 2019

My red lipstick collection

I own a lot of red lipsticks! As part of my wedding makeup prep I've been looking through my collection of red lipsticks to work out which suit me best, and which are kiss proof (Sam would refuse to kiss me at the alter if I was wearing transferring lippie!). I've cataloged all my red lippies in this post with swatches reviews so be prepared for a long post. 

Here are all my lipsticks, which I have ordered from most orange toned, through most pink toned, and then to most blue toned

These swatches are makeup free so be prepared for not so great skin. I follow lots of bloggers who have perfect foundation for all their swatches but I'm far too lazy for that. Each time I thoroughly removed the last lippie it took off all the makeup around my mouth. I'm not wasting my expensive foundation for one photo! Sorry guys. These photos are "warts and all" to show you how they apply without lip liner, how thick they are and if they are drying. No photoshop here. 

Maybelline 24 hour ink Heroine

This coral-red liquid lippie is very bright. Its full name is Maybelline 24 hour Matte Ink in Heroine and it is long-lasting. I could go a whole night out and this is still on. It's also totally kiss-proof, there is no transfer onto Sam when I wear this lipstick. 

NYX  Soft Matte Lip Cream Morocco 

This soft creme lippie is another bright coral. It doesn't give great coverage so needs a few swipes. It's also not transfer-proof and comes off. It's not one of the liquid lippies that seems to dry. 

Maybelline x Gigi Hadid Austyn 

This lovely lipstickwas one of my go-tos this summer. It's a flattering coral with enough pink in to balance out the orange tones to make it a suits-everyone shade. It's very bright. It's a normal lipstick so isn't kiss proof. 

Marks and Spencer Autograph Attraction

This liquid lipstick is a lovely pinky red. It again needs a few swipes or some lip liner to make it an even colour but it's very moisturising and comfortable to wear. It transfers off and I often find it on my chin!


MAC Red is a classic red lipstick. It's a creamy formula so doesn't give the matte look but does wear really nicely, and isn't drying. Again it's a normal lipstick so does come off. 

MAC Fashion Legacy 

Fashion Legacy is another of my summer go-to lippies. It's a matte cream formula and is a proper fire-engine red. It lasts really well, and only transfers a little bit

MAC Ruby Woo

We're getting into blue toned reds here. Ruby Woo is the famous colour that Taylor Swift apparently wears. Very flattering, I've yet to meet someone who doesn't suit this lovely colour. It's a traditional lipstick so comes off everywhere when you kiss!

Maybelline 24 hour superstay Red Alert

I get lots of comments on this lipstick when I'm out for dinner - this red never comes off! It's one of the double ended ones with a lip colour on one wand, and a balm on the other. Even the colour without the balm is really hard to scrub off and is definitely kiss proof. It's another very flattering red. This is shown without the balm

Smashbox Always On Matte liquid lipstick Bawse 

This lippie is really interesting to apply - it's a lipgloss applicator but it seems to contain normal lipstick (although slightly mushier). It's a lovely deep red which works well in the winter but does transfer off

Rimmel Provocalips Kiss me you Fool

I bought this liquid lippie (again another double ended one) when I had bruised lips from fillers because their nude shades cover bruises perfectly. I'm less impressed with the red - although it lasts well and doesn't transfer, it does crack so when you smile it's lined. Again shown without the balm

Maybelline Superstay 24 hour ink Dancer

Writing this post has helped me work out how I feel about this lippie - it's been my favourite over the winter and I love the shade of red, how it doesn't transfer and it lasts forever, but I've never felt it's quite suited me. I think the undertones are great for cooler skintones, but if you're pinky like me it's not quite right. 

Maybelline 24 hour superstay Cherry Pie

Finally this lipstick is another one of the stay-on forever double ended ones. It's a deep bluey red and never comes off unless you use eye makeup remover! Shown without the balm

What is your favourite red lipstick? Any recommendations for ones that don't come off?


4 Jan 2019

Wedding: My Bridal Skincare Routine

I read recently in a bridal magazine that for your wedding, you should refine your skincare routine and then stick to it without any changes 6 months before your wedding. That's quite a big ask. I'm someone who has always suffered with acne and have blogged about it many, many times over the years as I find new products which work for me. Currently my skin is behaving itself very well, for the first time since I came off the pill, so I thought I'd share my "bridal skincare routine". 

I initially started with very good skin around the time I came off the pill (look at it in this post! Heart eyes!). I thought I was initially doing ok, but looking back the pill took a long time to leave my system. My skin started to fall apart and I started to look into skincare. My research told me the things I was using on the pill were all full of alcohol and other things which were irritating and spot-causing. Stupidly, I decided to entirely overhaul my skincare routine and tried The Ordinary which worked short term, but made my skin awful in the long term. This was my skin in Summer 2017. I was very spotty, but also got awful cysts which you couldn't see on the surface, but would distort my face (see the second photo below of one by my mouth). They were so painful and would often lie there for months. I was feeling very low about my skin. 

Also notice how sun damaged I was last summer. Naughty Lauren

I did lots more research and joined a group on Facebook called The Skincare Connection and followed routines recommended there and this is my skin as a result! (this photo was in November before the Christmas food and booze!)

The first step in improving my skin was through what vitamins and minerals I was having. I read a lot about l-lysine being really good for skin and went to get some at Holland & Barrett and I got the wrong thing (as always chatting and not concentrating). However the l-carnitine had the same effect and improved my skin! I also got zinc tablets (meant to boost your immune system and improve skin, it's in a lot of topical treatments), and a probiotic which has been found to reduce inflammation. I also started taking Vitamin D because it's recommended every winter to improve mood and immune functioning, but I've discovered it's also reduced how oily my skin is. I've been really careful to make sure I only have the recommended daily amounts, as I don't want to overdo it, or hurt my kidneys/liver.  

And this is my skin today - I since bought l-lysine but feel my skin isn't as good on it as it was on l-carmitine. I have 2 little spots which have left a mark due to the Christmas excesses. However it's still good and except those two spots it's clear. I'll definitely make sure I stay off booze and foundation pre-wedding!

Here's what I have been using to manage my unruly, hormonal, 30 year old skin

Day Routine

Firstly, I'm aware this looks like a lot of stuff, but I'll explain. This has come about from a really long time of trialling products, adding and taking away and trying to find out what works. Sadly I'm not one of those lucky people who needs a minimal skincare regime.  

I start by washing my face with just water in the shower. I then use Garnier Micellar Water on a pad to sweep over my face and eyelids. I might then use the Neutrogena light therapy pen if I have a spot. I then use Skinoren on my cleansed skin. Skinoren is a 20% Azeliac Acid cream which is found to reduce spots, but also fade the marks spots leave. You can get it on prescription or you can do an online consultation and get it for around £15 through an online pharmacy. I also recommend lower levels in The Ordinary (10%) (although this is suspended in silicone so not good for me) or Paula's Choice Clear daily skin clearing cream which is fantastic (10%). I'll probably go back to Paula's Choice when this tube has run out as although it's more expensive, it's less irritating and also has Salicylic acid in. 

Next I attack my dry patches and wrinkles - I have been using this Clinique Even Better essence  lotion which I got at The Cosmetics Company Outlet. It's been really great, but sadly they've stopped making it so I'm looking for something similar currently. I then apply No7 Laboratories Line Correcting Booster Serum to under and around my eyes, and the lines that run from my nose to my mouth. I've definitely seen a difference to the depth of the little lines I was seeing around my mouth (you can see in the first photo - the before and after). It's meant to be really well researched and effective. 

I then use La Roche Posay Effliclar Duo+ moisturiser, which contains niacinamide and is meant to help keep skin clear and reduce the acne marks. It's the only moisturiser I've used which I feel doesn't clog my skin. I then make sure I always wear SPF 50 on the top - no matter what the weather. I've found wearing SPF has helped reduce any marks on my face quickly (as damaged skin catches the sun and stays marked, and freckles make my skin look less clear, but also to reduce future ageing.) I reviewed Frezyderm SPF when I first got it in May, and I still really love it. I get this Frezyderm SPF50 but I get it on Amazon. 

Every now and again when my skin is really misbehaving, I might pat some Duac on, which is a mixture of clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide. It's really harsh, drying stuff and is prescription only (again you can get it online through a consultation). However over the counter Benzoyl Peroxide such as Acnecide contains the same percentage BP and is much cheaper. 

Finally I use the most wonderful lip balm I've ever found - Dr Lipp Nipple Balm

Evening Routine

My evening routine is much more simple and is all about soothing skin. I start with The Body Shop Camomile cleansing oil. Spread it out all over my dry face and then wet my hands. I then use my hands to rub the oil in before wiping off with a wet muslin cloth. Then I smoothe camomile cleansing butter on and again remove with the wet cloth. It's really important to double cleanse and make sure all my makeup and SPF is removed to give my skin a breather. Oil is fantastic for breaking down these creams and SPFs but that also can't sit on my skin all night so needs to be washed off by a cleansing butter. I also love Lush's Ultrabland as the second cleanse step, which I was using until it ran out last week.

When my face is dry and I'm in bed, I rub Differin in. Differin is a retinol which you can get on prescription or through an online prescription. It helps increase cell turnover so things which clog pores are washed away, but is also an excellent anti-ageing cream. Skincare Queen Caroline Hirons loves retinols. After this has had time to dry (while I read in bed), I then pat on some The Ordinary Rosehip Oil for moisture, as retinols are very drying when you first start using them. 

I've been using RapidLash on my eyelashes since September to make them stronger and longer. I can definitely tell the difference and I'll do a before and after in another post some time. You might notice a difference in the photos above, although my eyelashes are still clear at the tips!

Skincare Treats / Treatments

Depending on what's going on with my skin, I sometimes use different one-off treatments.

If I have a spot: I like to use Freederm Gel at night to shrink that lump right down! If it's one that's near the surface, I have been using Proactiv+ Skin Purifying Mask but only on the spot. Proactiv is evil, stripping stuff that destroyed my skin about 18 months ago and left me with parched but spotty skin.

If my skin has dry patches: I have been using BalanceMe Rose Otto Oil such as around my nose when I have a cold. I also find these Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix pads are good for when skin looks a bit dull or dry but too stripping for my skin every day.

Masks: I like to have a soothing bath once a week and tend to use a mask when I do. I alternate between The Ordinary BHA and AHA mask is basically a skin peel in a bottle. It's so strong and leaves skin looking fresh and new underneath. Another exfoliating mask I have been really enjoying recently is the Lacura Exfoliating Mud Mask from Aldi which is a bargain dupe of the GlamGlow mask which is around £40. It's fantastic and really leaves my skin so soft and clean. I loved it so much I queued to get loads for friends over Christmas as I was told it would run out of stock so I'm equally happy and irritated it's still in stock now! The final mask I've been enjoying is the Body Shop  Drops of Youth Bouncy Sleep Mask which is really moisturising and leaves my skin refreshed in the morning.

I'm also starting to experiment with microneedling or dermarolling the scars left behind on my cheeks from acne. It's not something you can do when you have active acne so I've only just been able to start it and have done it 3 times so far. I think it has made a bit of a difference but I'll keep you updated!

1 Jan 2019

My 2018 Temperature Blanket

Happy New Year and welcome to 2019! To mark the date, I've completed my temperature blanket for 2018! It was an idea I saw on Instagram - each day you crochet a line which represents the temperature that day. I chose to do the highest temperature in Bournemouth each day. 

Step 1 was to make the key. I chose KnitPicks Brava Worsted yarn because they had such a fantastic range of colours and it's so cheap. I looked at the record high and low temperatures in Bournemouth to make sure I had a full range, and then chose a colour to represent every 5 degrees. I initially bought one ball of each colour, but quickly had to stock up on the middle colours. In hindsight, I might have chosen to get my wool from Hobbycraft because it was cheaper to collect than to pay Knitpicks shipping costs. 

I then used a 4.5mm hook to do a chain of around 450 stitches I think (I did it as wide as the sofa). I then used British double crochet to do a line each day, keeping a list on my phone of the temperatures each day from the Met Office website and using the Time and Date website to make up for when I forgot to write it down. Each line took me about 20 mins. I also included a silver glitter sewing thread on the special days like our 30th birthdays, the day we got engaged and the day we moved to Bournemouth. It's a great way to help us work out roughly when the temperatures were too!

And now it's finished! 

Rather than sewing in the ends which would take me hours and hours, I decided to tie them into tassels each week

I got this cute little tag from Ambient Lab on Etsy to mark that I made it and the year the blanket covered for £1.

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