Fashion Loves Tech

fashion loves tech 3‘Fashion’ and ‘tech’ aren’t two thoughts that aren’t normally connected in my mind. In fact, the two have always been very separate personal interests of mine – until now.

ASOS recently hosted Third Wave Fashion‘s ‘The Real Future of Fashion Tech‘ event where the panel talked all about fashion and tech – from the tech that sells us fashion to the tech that’s becoming fashion.

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Waiting for everyone to show up!

Olapic kicked off the night by introducing their customer inspired commerce site, which lets brands pull in images of their products that consumers share to social media to display in their online stores alongside the product in question. The idea here is that this helps improve the online shopping experience because customers will be able to see how someone else uses/has styled a product they’re considering purchasing. In turn, sales should go up because there is an opportunity for the customer to make a more informed decision about whether or not the product is right for them.

In theory, I think this is awesome. Who doesn’t want to see how someone else wore a dress or styled a top they’re thinking of buying online?

However, people as young as 13 can have an Instagram account, and Olapic can pull in images from Instagram. If Olapic is pulling in images of 13 years olds, can these images be used in marketing material without the legal guardian’s consent? I asked about this at the event, and was assured that users had to have authentic accounts for the images to be pulled in. But I know what I was like when I was 13: I added two years to my birthdate on the MySpace sign up page so I appeared 15 (aka: old enough to have a MySpace account).

While I suspect the images would be moderated before appearing in an online shop, I wonder about these age implications and what kinds of safeguards need to be considered.

screenshot of asos models

 Screenshot via

This leads me to my next question about Olapic: if a customer sees an image pulled in from social media showing someone significantly younger/older than themselves with a product, could this actually have a negative impact on sales?

For this one, I’m specifically thinking about people who shop at stores where they aren’t the target audience, such as 30 – 40 year olds who shop on ASOS because they like the range/prices/options/convenience. It’s no secret that ASOS targets 20-somethings, and currently the models on their site reflect this. But what happens if images of 16 year olds showing off how they style a dress is displayed next to that dress – would it put 30 – 40 year olds off buying? If so, would this significantly impact ASOS’ annual sales figures, or not really?

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Then it was on to the panel with (from left to right) Marie Hamblin, Business Solution Owner/ Innovation, ASOS; Miyon Im, Head of Product, LYST; Geoff Watts, CEO, EDITD; and moderator Liza Kindred, Founder of Third Wave Fashion and author of The Future of Commerce.

They discussed wearables (or tech that you wear) and the potential comeback of watches (because phones are watches and watches are basically a swanky bracelet – am I right?) with gadgets like the Nike Fuelband as well as other ways to wear tech, like the new Google Glass.

None of the panelists were totally sold on the idea of wearables outside of sports, where wearable tech can be great for tracking the distance run, heart rate, calories burned, and all sorts of other stats you want to keep an eye on when you work out. But on the day-to-day? They all pretty much love their smartphones and couldn’t see an immediate shift; I’m with them on that one!

We also learned about technology that’s super creepy from a consumer point of view and absolutely freaking amazing from a marketing perspective, such as Nomi, which allows brick and mortar businesses to increase sales by improving the in-store customer experience. A real life example of this could be:

You’re out shopping and receive a notification on your smartphone from a specific app that you’ve now got a discount-off voucher for a product you’re standing near, such as a pair of jeans you’re trying on. Nomi can track whether or not you use the voucher to buy the product, and then the store can see how that type of marketing material affects sales. 

It sounds incredible until you realise: what happens with all that data about what I’m standing near, looking at, trying on – and buying or not buying – in shops? What happens when you’re looking at something that’s *cough* embarrassing *cough* or ‘not for you’? How is it going to be used? Will it be shared with other companies? How will this benefit – or bother – us in the future? (Such as with online ads, emails, other app notifications, etc.) But the truly shocking bit is: all of this already happens every time you shop online; businesses can see what you look at, for how long, how you click around on a website and what triggers you to buy, such as an email for a discount off your order. So why does shopping in a brick and mortar store feel different (at least to me, anyway) – and should it be?

Still, the point remains: Nomi can be a win-win technology as long as it’s not abused. A world where I can get discounts on everything I want to buy? YES PLEASE. But a world where I go shopping and get a bajillion notifications to buy things while I’m just browsing? Or where I get haunted around the internet with banner ads about a pair of jeans I tried on but that didn’t suit me so I don’t actually want to buy them? THANKS, BUT NO THANKS.

And while not all of these technologies have become the everyday lifestyle for everyone yet, they are the future and will change the way we shop. There are very clear, obvious up-sides to these types of tech, and also not-so-obvious downsides that we as customers really do need to ask about and consider.

What do you think of the technology presented in this post? Have you experienced or used it already? Let me know in the comments!


Trying out the Nokia Lumia 1020

It seems like ages ago now, but back in January I had the chance to trial a Nokia Lumia 1020 through the Trial a Lumia scheme. It’s free to do and anyone can do it, so if you’re interested in technology I highly recommend you take advantage!

I know technology isn’t something I write about on here often, but I do have a background in IT support (did that for 3 years to help pay for my undergraduate studies!), have done stints as both a Google Tester and Twitter Tester, worked in the eCommerce and Software as a Service industries, and love checking out new tech and systems to see how they work. (Specifically from a user experience point of view – I’m not keen on programming/coding/markup myself!) In short: I’m interested in technology.

To put this trial into context, about 18 months ago I made the switch from an iPhone 4 to a Samsung Galaxy S3, and later this year that contract will be ending. I’d heard great things about the Lumia 1020′s camera, so I was keen to see just how good that camera was and how the phone’s interface compared so I could get an idea of if it was something I’d want to commit to with a 2 year contract.

I fell in love with the phone’s camera during the 3 weeks that I had it, and because my family was in town for the wedding while I was trialling the Nokia Lumia 1020, I of course got to take lots of pictures of iconic London while showing them around. (And you probably noticed that a bunch of my pictures on my wedding blog post were taken on the Lumia 1020, too!)

It was great at balancing the light – especially in challenging situations, such as with bright sun and dark shadows or multiple light sources – to present an even picture with lots of detail.

Here are two examples of when I would have expected the shadows to be near-black without details:

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And on that note of great detail, the camera really could capture tiny details in focus! Just look at the veins in the dried flower petals and the fine hairs on my makeup brushes:

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It was stellar with night photography, too, totally beating the quality of both my Samsung Galaxy S3 and former iPhone 4 cameras. But while the quality of the night images was significantly better than my previous mobile phone cameras, it still wasn’t a quality I’d be happy with printing because the lines were still a bit blurry and the image slightly pixelated. (Yes, I get that even the best DSLRs on a tripod can struggle to get the right exposure/great focus with night photography and it isn’t easy. I’m just hard to please!)

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A few times when I used the flash the images had a bit of a foggy haze that made them look antique-y, and while I’m not sure what causes this I have seen it happen with other mobile phone cameras from time-to-time.

WP_20140111_22_33_06_ProWhen the flash didn’t glitch (which was most of the time) the results were incredible!


Unfortunately, the phone crashed twice during that 3 week period and I wasn’t able to sign into my Gmail account – I haven’t yet been able to figure out if it’s because the OS doesn’t support 2-step verification sign in or for some other reason all together. Either way, I couldn’t check my email on the phone and that was pretty annoying. The Lumia 1020 also seemed to have a slower response by the end of the 3 weeks, which I suspect is probably due to how many photos I’d taken (about 500) and hadn’t cleared out.

Overall I loved the Nokia Lumia 1020. For me, it was basically like carrying around a brilliant camera with internet access and apps. (Which, let’s face it, is how many of us use our phones these days!)

But I’m still not sure if I’ll make that switch when my contract ends. Only time will tell…

Trekking about North London

Spring seems to be well and truly here in London*, so Jeff and I made the most of it this weekend and explored North London. From Camden Town to Upper Holloway, Archway to Highgate, Muswell Hill to Crouch End, we hit the pavement and saw as much as possible on foot, stopping to enjoy food and markets along the way.

*Ignore the hail, brisk winds, short showers, and freezing nights – we’ve got sunshine!


On Saturday we went out to Camden Town, and in the morning’s sunshine you’d never guess these houses were along Camden High Street and not along by the seaside! But the streets were just as crowded as ever with tourists exploring the markets and locals making the most of the good weather.


This great graffiti can be found just off Camden High Street, and while I’ve passed this particular building dozens of times I’ve never noticed it. Perhaps it’s new?

We were in Camden for the semi-final heat of the Musical Comedy Awards at The Black Heart. (If you haven’t heard of the Musical Comedy Awards, I promise you need it in your life!) Rob Deering headlined Saturday’s show, and I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed so hard for so long! My face still hurts. The 2014 MCA final is on 25th April, and it’s not too late to book a ticket if you feel so inclined. (You know I recommend it!)


On Sunday we walked from Crouch End towards Alexandra Palace, and stumbled upon the Parkland Walk, which is a part of the Capital Ring. The section we found was a disused railway station, which would have offered a steam service off the East Coast Main Line with suburban services for the Great Northern Railway, and would have been active around the 1870s.



In the 1930s there was a plan to expand the Underground to connect Archway (originally known as Highgate, where it then terminated) with Edgeware and Finsbury Park via Finchley Central and East Finchley. Unfortunately, much of the engineering work started as the war broke out and was never fully commissioned.

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From there we marched on over to Alexandra Palace, where we found this fenced off tree. There was a sign nearby that estimated it was about 250 years old, but unfortunately I haven’t found anything online to link you to! I guess you’ll just have to head over and see for yourself.

Luckily, if you do head over to Alexandra Palace to check out that tree you’ll also get this view. Sooo I guess it’s not too bad a trade off after all ;)north_london_12 From there we walked through Muswell Hill to Highgate Wood, where we felt as though we’d completely left the city and had been transported to the country side. If it wasn’t for the flash showers coming on we would have stayed for much, much longer than we did. north_london_13

Spotted near Highgate: best shop name ever? (Yes, it is a hair salon!) north_london_14

Also on Archway Road was this wonderful book shop, piled high with antique books. We had a good an proper poke about, though we didn’t see any titles we wanted to take home with us.
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Somewhere on Archway Road: this gorgeous yellow door. north_london_17

McDonald’s on Macdonald Road? I’m lovin’ it. north_london_18

We saw a few of these phone booths with potted plants near Archway Station, and while I haven’t been able to find out who’s put the potted plants in them or why, I love it. As far as I’m concerned, phone booths are pretty outdated these days so filling them with greenery is an excellent idea in my book!


Before heading home we stopped at The Spoke on Holloway Road to fuel up with delicious sour dough BLTs with avocado and one of the best brews of tea I’ve had in a long time. While the menu was limited, it provided locally sourced foods and free range meats at an excellent price. Definitely worth the visit if you find yourself in the area – or want to see the area!
north_london_20Have you been to any of these places, or do you have any suggestions of where to visit in North London?


Like pretty much everyone else on Twitter and Instagram right now, I am doing the #100happydays challenge.

The idea is that you find one thing to be happy about every day for 100 days, and I’m finding it both easy and overwhelming at once. (1 thing a day = easy; doing something every day for 100 days = AHHRGH!) By the end of the challenge, you should be able to see what types of thing make you happier, and also be a happier person because you’ve spent the past 100 days seeking out things that make you happy. You’re also held accountable because you need to share the posts on social media, which ultimately help spread happy! All in all it’s a pretty darn sweet initiative.

I’m 13 days in today, and here are a few of the things I’ve been happy about so far:

#100happydays Day 3: this sign in an art gallery window on my walk from the tube to the office.

Day 3: this sign in an art gallery window on my walk from the tube to the office.

Day 7: early morning yoga, cafe breakfast, then hanging around with mint tea and working on personal things. Today rules and it's not even lunchtime yet.

Day 7: early morning yoga, cafe breakfast, then hanging around with mint tea and working on personal things. Today rules and it’s not even lunchtime yet.

Day 8: being treated to a box of cakes specifically so I can share them with new colleagues, because sharing is caring!

Day 8: being treated to a box of cakes specifically so I can share them with new colleagues, because sharing is caring!

Day 9: turning the tube strike into an excuse to start the day with a healthy, life-affirming walk into work. (Or that's what I'm telling myself!)

Day 9: turning the tube strike into an excuse to start the day with a healthy, life-affirming walk into work. (Or that’s what I’m telling myself!)

Day 11: inspirational messages at work. Think bigger!

Day 11: inspirational messages at work. Think bigger!

Day 13: sunshine + shiny shoes

Day 13: sunshine + shiny shoes

You can also follow all of my #100happydays posts on Instagram or Twitter.

Are you taking part in the #100happydays challenge? What do you think of it?


28 Days Later… belated Christmas edition


Christmas was ages ago now, but this little lady has been busy so I’m only just finding time to write about it.2013-12-25 11.07.00

This was Jeff and my first Christmas Day just us (we celebrated belated Christmas with his family another day) and we didn’t want to just sit at home, so we put on our Christmas jumpers and went on a crazy 10 mile walk.

2013-12-25 14.08.11 999910_10201161716185074_1635491233_nCamden Town to Mornington Crescent to Euston, over to Warren Street then Great Portland Street, to Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road; Holborn then Chancery Lane then Farringdon then Angel, up through Highbury and Islington and up to Holloway Road. Phew!

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All of the tubes were shut and there were no bus services, so we were hoping that London would be totally empty 28 Days Later style. However, this was not the case. Instead, London was filled with cars travelling to family holiday gatherings and tourists wandering the streets with cameras. (After all, the sun was shining!)

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But it wasn’t all walking and walking and walking – when we reached Great Portland Street we took a break at the pub! And it had the cutest Christmas decorations.2013-12-25 13.55.57-1 2013-12-25 13.52.09

Oxford Street was surprisingly busy, and even the Costa Coffee was open! But the place was packed out, and we realised it was all tourists in London for Christmas. They were hitting the streets with their cameras, walking around and enjoying the good weather and minimal crowds. Pretty clever! 2013-12-25 14.51.40

Somewhere near Holborn… 2013-12-25 15.24.26

While Oxford Street was too busy to do yoga in the street, Hatton Gardens wasn’t! Check out the results… 1525720_10201161717305102_1465328506_n

And then when we got home…2013-12-25 18.59.54…we had a drink! (I had drinks duty, I think I did well.) And then another drink before tucking into a homemade Christmas roast (Jeff cooked, of course!).

How did you spend the holidays this year?

I’m all married!

That’s right, last week Jeff and I got hitched! Or as he keeps saying to me: “You liked it so you put a ring on it…”

All in all, the day really was like a fairy tale. The sun was shining (in January, in London – luck, I know!), we were surrounded by friends and family who love and support us, and everything just fell into place and the day rolled along smoothly. Absolutely ace if you ask me, and from what I gather the Bride takes centre stage at the wedding, so… ACE!

Now, I didn’t want to blog about the wedding too much in the lead-up because it was a budget wedding and we did a lot of DIY and I wanted there to be plenty of surprises for our friends and family, but it’s done and dusted so I’m happy to spill the beans… complete with our budget at the end.

Getting Ready

DIY cake topper, designed and photographed by yours truly

DIY cake topper, designed, created and photographed by yours truly

When we started planning we knew we wanted to do as much DIY as possible. Not just because this can be a money-saver, but because we’re both hands-on and enjoy creating things. We divvied up the tasks and I walked away with: bunting, origami cranes, and cake topper. Jeff got: cake and wedding playlist.

DIY bunting, sewed and photographed by yours truly

DIY bunting, sewed and photographed by yours truly

At first it all felt overwhelming, but then we put together a crazy spreadsheet that broke down all the tasks that needed doing into the timeframe they needed to be completed by and it all felt much more manageable.

From there on out we lived by this project planning spreadsheet.

Origami cranes to decorate the table, folded and photographed by yours truly

Origami cranes to decorate the tables, folded and photographed by yours truly

All in all I’m well chuffed with how everything turned out! The bunting looked sweet in the windows, the cake topper complimented the bunting, people enjoyed playing with the paper cranes – and I know a few guests even enjoyed taking them home as a little souvenir!

DIY cake by Jeff, decorated by his mum and photographed by yours truly

DIY cake by Jeff, decorated by his mum and photographed by yours truly

And of course, Jeff did a brilliant job with the cake and playlist – though you can’t see the playlist!

The Day Of

All the makeup! - photo by yours truly

All the makeup! – photo by yours truly

Not many people know this about me, but I’m a bit of a closet makeup junkie. I don’t know all about every brand or product, but I do know how to apply makeup. (Despite what people who see me on the day-to-day must think, because I almost never wear any!) So to help cut costs on our wedding, I decided to apply my own. Not too shabby if you ask me, and it stayed in place all day/night.

(However, I did pay to get my hair done. I may be an adult, but how to style hair so it looks halfway decent is so beyond me it’s ridiculous.)

Before I changed my lipstick from MAC Red to So Chaud - selfie by yours truly

Before I changed my lipstick from MAC Red to So Chaud – selfie by yours truly

Ready early, so my mom and I went for a walk - photo by my mom on the Lumia 1020

Ready early, so my mom and I went for a walk – photo by my mom on the Lumia 1020

Getting ready for the first look! - photo by Anna Pumer Photography

Getting ready for the first look! – photo by Anna Pumer Photography

Traditionally the Bride and Groom don’t see each other on the wedding day until the Bride is walking down the aisle, but at Town Hall weddings there is no aisle to walk down. This means that the first time the Bride and Groom have to see each other on the day is during the interview just before the ceremony. Not ideal if you want to have a first look photo!

So Jeff and I talked with our wedding photographer, Anna, about what we could do to get around this and we opted to meet at Hoxley and Porter with our friends and family attending the ceremony. She was great at orchestrating the entire photo, helping round up our friends and family and getting them to guide us to the centre of the photo so we were standing in the right place. It definitely helped set the tone of the day, adding to the excitement and creating an ice breaker moment for friends and family who hadn’t met yet, but had to work together to help us get this first group photo of the day.

The gang's all here - photo by Anna Pumer Photography

The gang’s all here – photo by Anna Pumer Photography

Heading over to the Comedor after the wedding ceremony - photo by Anna Pumer Photography

Heading over to the Town Hall for the ceremony - photo by Anna Pumer Photography

Then after several sets of group shots we were off to the Town Hall – and a photo that’s just so London and also makes me think of The Beatles!

Going in for a cuddle during our ceremony - photo by Anna Pumer Photography

Going in for a cuddle during our ceremony – photo by Anna Pumer Photography

We decided to have our special day at Islington Town Hall. We loved that it was local to us, it was gorgeous inside and out, and the ceremony wasn’t too long so it couldn’t get dull. (I’m not one who likes to sit still for very long!) We also wanted a small wedding, so we opted for Room 99 where we could invite just 30 guests – the perfect amount to get in our closest friends and family without feeling overwhelmed.

Outside Islington Town Hall - Photo by Anna Pumer Photography

We’re all married! – Photo by Anna Pumer Photography

After the ceremony, it was off to the Comedor Grill and Bar for celebrations! We were greeted with a prosecco reception, followed by a 3 course dinner (with wedding cake for pudding, of course!), before speeches, throwing the bouquet, and taking over the sound system with Jeff’s awesome playlist for our first dance and all the other songs.

The cocktail sharer returns! - photo by The Comedor on the Lumia 1020

The cocktail sharer returns! – photo by The Comedor on the Lumia 1020

And as a bit of a wedding treat, the lovely guys and gals at the Comedor treated Jeff and me to an extra large margarita (a hat tip to our holiday in Mexico last year) in our fave cocktail sharer.

My brother's the real origami artist of the family - photo by yours truly

My brother’s the real origami artist of the family – photo by yours truly

As a kind of wedding gift, my brother took apart one of my gold cranes and re-purposed it into this gorgeous gold flower. It was quite thoughtful, because I did have to give away my real-flower bouquet later that evening! (Though his girlfriend caught it… hmm…)

Writing the speech at dinner - photo by yours truly

Writing the speech at dinner – photo by yours truly

And despite all our planning, one thing just didn’t get done when we said it would: the speech.

We’d decided to break with tradition and deliver the Groom’s speech together, and simply ran out of time to write it. But always prepared, Jeff remembered to bring a pen and some notecards with him so we penned it at the dinner table between courses. As you do.

Luckily, we got quite a few compliments on how nice our speech was, which was pretty damned exciting considering we ad libbed the entire thing!

Throwing the bouquet - photo by Anna Pumer Photography

Throwing the bouquet – photo by Anna Pumer Photography

And with all that, would you ever believe we did the *entire* day for less than £2500? I’m talking marriage fees, Town Hall fees, booking out a restaurant, 2-course dinner, service charges, wine during dinner, prosecco reception, and dancing till midnight, photographer, groom’s suit, my entire outfit (including dress- £60 at Topshop, baby!), hair, cake, flowers and decorations.

The food and drink was easily the biggest bill, followed by the photographer, but with these things you get what you pay for and we got top quality. I couldn’t recommend The Comedor or Anna Pumer Photography more highly because it was great working with them and we got excellent results, happy guests, and beautiful memories.

*All photos taken by yours truly in this blog post were taken on the Nokia Lumia 1020, courtesy of the Nokia Connects trial – thank you for sending me the white one, it matched my wedding dress! ;) 

Bubbly and beauty in Canary Wharf


My dear readers, you know I’m not strictly a beauty blogger. But when my lovely friend Mitra asked me to join her at the Bare Minerals party in Canary Wharf to celebrate their new store with some bubbly and a “make under”, I couldn’t well refuse!

Mitra checking out the blushers...what makes you blush?

Mitra checking out the blushers…what makes you blush?

And that’s how I found myself stepping off a Stratford-bound Jubilee line tube at 7pm tonight and asking for directions to Jubilee Place. (Turns out it was right in front of me. Top marks for me with directional skills!)

After promptly getting lost and realising that Bare Minerals was in fact behind me; getting un-lost and thoroughly confusing the woman with the guest list before noticing my name was on the list; and then thinking I had to pay for the bubbly before realising it was, actually, complimentary, I was finally getting a “make under”. (Thank goodness, because today clearly wasn’t my day!)

Makeup artist Francesca looked after me and did a great job matching my skin tone and picking products I’d feel comfortable wearing. She quickly blended in the concealer (correcting concealer in light 1, £21), brushed on the powder foundation (golden fair, £25), dusted on some blusher (giddy pink, £19), and finished the look with a highlighter (well-rested face & eye brightener, £22).

Before and after!

Before and after!

But she only did one side so I could practice the other, and I’d had a few drinks that went straight to my head. Oh dear.

Drinking and makeup makes me think of Jenna Marbles.

Drinking and makeup makes me think of Jenna Marbles.

So of course the only thing I could think of was Jenna Marbles’ drunk makeup tutorial. I started quoting it, but no one else had seen it. To avoid further embarrassment (on my part!) please watch it now:

After our “make unders” Mitra and I were feeling pretty glam, so we organised ourselves a mini in-store photoshoot!



When we left we received some adorable goodie bags with two lippies each. (Thanks Bare Minerals!) We each had one of the new Moxie liglosses, and ended up swapping my Amped Pink Loud & Clear for her Berry Remix, because she prefers pink and I prefer berry. Everyone’s happy!

Thank you Bare Minerals!

Thank you Bare Minerals!

I’m really pleased I got to try the products because it had been on my list of things to do (but hey, I’m broke, busy and have several makeup bags full of “perfectly good” product that I intend to use up before I buy anything new… yada yada).

So far I’ve been really pleased with the lippie (I tried strength in a gloss + lipstick combo) and it’s felt super hydrating, not at all clumpy, and still looks fresh after a few hours of wear. It’s on my birthday list. (Hint hint Jeff!)

Unfortunately, in the same amount of time I’ve had to “blend out” the powder that keeps settling in my laugh lines (which has never happened with the makeup I wear on the day-to-day) three times already. It’s a shame because the coverage is brilliant and my skin looks flawless otherwise. (Is this because I put too much powder on? That’s a real question posed to anyone who uses Bare Minerals on the regular!)

Still, many thanks to Mitra for inviting me and Bare Minerals for hosting. I highly recommend you check them out, especially their lippies!