2015 — Highlights, Lessons Learned, and a Look Back at My New Year's Resolutions

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Aaaand 2015 is almost over. Wut? I say this every year without fail, but where has the time gone? And what on earth have I done with it? Well, quite a bit, actually.

2015 was a year of change for me. I moved into a new house with new people, I visited new places, and I have new projects to tackle at university. On the whole, I've been the calmest and happiest I've been for a very long time, and I hope that continues in 2016.

Some Highlights

  • Passing my second year of uni with a 1st, and coming top of my Writing Non-Fiction class
  • Volunteering at Cancer Research
  • Work experience at Buzz Magazine
  • Going to Parklife Festival in Manchester
  • Exploring Wales with my family
  • Spending quality time with my friends over the summer
  • Moving into a new student house, and being happy there

Lessons Learned

  • If you can survive going to the toilet in a portaloo at a festival, you can survive anything the world throws at you. You got this.
  • LUSH Dream Cream is an excellent treatment for beard burn.
  • Good company can cure a multitude of ills. Likewise, being around negative people saps your energy and makes everything feel worse than it is. It's okay to walk away from the negativity.
  • I love coffee, but coffee does not love me. It may leave me buzzing, energized, and bouncing off the walls, but it also makes me feel shaky and sick. No more frappucinos for me.
  • It's more than okay to take some time out if you need to.

New Years Resolutions 2015  How Did I Do?
I make resolutions every year, but whether I stick to them or not is another matter entirely. I always end up forgetting what they were about halfway though the year in February so it's an interesting surprise when I look back at them  I went through the same thing last year.

Focus on the things that are important to me
I think I did that, on the whole. Perhaps with a little bit of a slump in the summer, but it's easy to get stuck in a rut when you have five months off.

Speak up
Meh. I'm improving all the time, but there are still days when I'd rather sit quietly and go unnoticed. Which is natural, I guess, but I think half of the battle is pushing through those barriers. One to work on. I tried, at the very least. 

Get more work experience
Done, and done better than I dreamed of. I had an amazing week at Buzz Magazine and I also learned a hell of a lot at Media Wales. Sending those emails is always nerve-wracking but I'm glad I put myself out there because I've had some wonderful opportunities. 

Get stronger
Hmmm, I'd say if anything I'm actually weaker than I was at the start of the year. The stress of going into third year has meant that I've had to prioritize, and time in the library is currently more important than time spent working out. But I'm trying to get in a couple of workouts per week, so I'm not letting myself feel too guilty. The gym will always be there, whereas I've only got a few months left at uni.

Quite a mixed bag, but I think I've done alright! Do you ever make resolutions? Do you keep them? Let me know in the comments, and have a happy New Year!

Products of the Year — Part 2

Monday, 28 December 2015

Products of the year (hands and hair)

Hello everyone, how are you all? Did you have a good Christmas? Mine was quite relaxed; we sat and chatted, ate a tonne of food, played card games, and then watched the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special (so glad Harry won, his dance was stunning!) I also had a mini-Christmas with my friends on the 23rd, which involved Monopoly, Cards Against Humanity, Love Actually, Secret Santa presents, a candy cane hunt, and more Chinese food than four people could ever want or need. I had a lovely couple of days and it's definitely left me feeling recharged after a busy term at uni. But before we move on, it's time for Part 2 of my Products of the Year series  this time I'll be looking at hand cream, hair products, and make-up.

(If you missed Part 1  skincare and bath/body  you can catch up here.) 

Hands and Hair 
Another godsend from Weleda, and this time it's the Almond Sensitive Hand Cream, £9.95, a.k.a. marizpan-scented goodness. So silky smooth, and so good at soothing sore hands. As for hair products, I'm afraid I caved and used the Odylique Gentle Herb Shampoo (v), £11, even though I promised to save it for a holiday. I'm not sorry, because it cleanses the hair without stripping it of moisture and is kind to my scalp, too.

Like your conditioners to smell edible? Then the Yes To Coconut Ultra Moisturise Conditioner, £5.99, is something you need in your life. It hydrates dry ends without the grease and also leaves them ridiculously shiny. If you need something a little more intense, then the Neal's Yard Rosemary and Cedarwood Hair Treatment (v), £6.50, could be the one. It's oily, and takes a bit of time to wash out, but it's so good for the hair, and my ends are so much healthier. Of course, if you'd prefer a buttery texture then LUSH R&B Hair Moisturiser (v), £11.95, might suit you better  a tiny bit sorts dry hair in seconds and it smells like winter (give it a whiff next time you're in LUSH and you'll see what I mean!)

Base Products and Brushes
On to all the fun stuff now: make-up! The Lily Lolo Mineral Foundation in Porcelain (v), £13.99, has proved to be a welcome, lighter alternative to liquid foundation; it's a pale, buildable powder that's suitable for sensitive skin. That said, there are still days when I need a bit more coverage and that's when I reach for NARS Sheer Glow Foundation in Siberia, £31. This, too, is a pale shade, and it provides medium coverage that leaves my skin glowy, not oily. Sold.

I couldn't talk about base products without giving NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly, £22, a mention laters, dark circles. The concealer is also good for highlighting underneath the eyebrows without any naff shimmer, and correcting any mistakes when you're working on your winged liner. Finally, we have my new favourite brush: the Lily Lolo Super Kabuki Brush (v), £14.99. It covers a large area of skin but is dense enough to buff everything in; I will never need another powder brush again.

Want to look healthy and rosy-cheeked? Sleek Shimmer Blush in Pomegranate, £4.49, could quite possibly be the answer. Now, I know the word 'shimmer' can be a little worrying when it comes to blush, but fear not: it makes your skin look glowy, not fibre-optic. Likewise, No7 Instant Radiance Highlighter, £9.95, is pretty and illuminates the skin, and the chunky crayon packaging makes application a breeze.

I never leave the house without doing my brows, and the Seventeen Brow's That! Brow Kit, £5.99, has everything I need in one place (and it's a perfect colour-match, too). I've also loved the Makeup Revolution Essential Mattes 2 Palette this year; it contains everything you need for chic, defined eyes and only costs £4.

When it comes to lipstick, the love of my life is most certainly the Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G. Lipstick in Bitch Perfect, £23. It's the prettiest pink shade, in the prettiest rose-gold packaging. Love everlasting. When I want something a bit more bold, I'm more likely to reach for NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl, £19. It's a gorgeous, blue-toned red, and the pencil shape makes it really easy to define your lips. Finally, I surprised myself this year by buying and loving a lip gloss, of all things: Lily Lolo Natural Lip Gloss in English Rose, £7.99. It's a lovely, everyday shade, it smells of chocolate, and it's not gloopy  ideal for days when you don't want to faff.

Which products have you loved this year? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

List | 10 Blogs I've Loved This Year

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Hello everyone, how are you all?  It's very nearly Christmas, so thought I'd share the love with a list of some of my most-read and most-loved blogs. One of the best things about blogging, in my opinion, is chatting to everyone on Twitter and leaving comments for people; it's a whole other community and I know that if I've been having a shit day then I can log on and be cheered up almost instantly. These ladies write wonderful posts and are all absolute babes to boot, and I hope you find some new favourites (that is, if you're not following them already!)

Products of the Year — Part 1

Monday, 21 December 2015

Hello everyone! How are you all? Maybe it's a bit early to be doing a round-up, since Christmas hasn't even happened yet (four days!) but I thought I'd get going with a Products of the Year series all the same. The original post was so long that I've split it in two  try as I might, I couldn't narrow it down to a list of five (or even ten) favourites; I've found too many gems this year. This is Part 1 (stating the obvious, good writing there, Beth...) and Part 2 will be up next week. Enjoy!

The Sunday Night Beauty Routine

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Hello! How are you all? I've flung myself into the Christmas holidays the best way I know how  by going out for food, and seeing everyone from home so that we can catch up. My week has basically consisted of eating, with the odd bit of Christmas shopping and writing thrown in for good measure. I've been so busy over the past term that I don't want to put too much pressure on myself to get work done over the festive period  I'll get off to a better start in the new year if I actually let myself have a break.   

The topic for the #bbloggers chat a few weeks ago was 'pamper nights', and I soon discovered that I wasn't the only one who doesn't normally have the time for a full-on spa evening, as lovely as they are. But I do like to spend my Sunday evenings looking after my skin and painting my nails, when I can, so I guess that's a pamper night of sorts? It's just my normal skincare routine with a face mask thrown in, but it feels like I'm doing something for myself, and that's enough to help me de-stress.   

Cruelty-Free Brand of the Month | Antipodes

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

It all started with a face mask. Over Autumn, I noticed the same product popping up in blog posts, over and over again: the Aura Manuka Honey Mask by Antipodes. I was curious for two reasons. One, because I'd never heard of Antipodes before. And two, because the Aura mask is supposed to be very good at calming down spots. After reading a few more reviews, all positive, I finally caved, and thus my love affair with Antipodes began.

In My Make-Up Bag | December 2015

Monday, 14 December 2015

Base products (December 2015)

Hello everyone! How are you all? I got home for Christmas last Friday and I'm so happy to be back. I ended up meeting my brother in London and we caught the train home together  our parents met us on the platform, which was just the loveliest thing. Proper Christmassy, actually (under two weeks to go now!)

It's been a while since I've done a post like this, so I thought I'd give you all a peek at what's inside my everyday make-up bag at the moment. Putting on my face almost (almost!) makes my early-morning starts bearable; it just gives me a moment to sit and breathe before I get going with my day.

Make-Up | Gold and Bronze EVERYTHING

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Barry M Eyeliner, Nars Illuminator, elf Mineral Eyeshadow
Clockwise: Barry M Waterproof Eyeliner in Bold Bronze; Nars Illuminator in Orgasm; e.l.f. Mineral Eyeshadow in Celebrity

I feel like a walking cliché sometimes. I've mentioned my love of berry lips many a time, but something I haven't written about as much is the sheer joy that gold and bronze make-up brings to my life.

The latest product in my collection is the Barry M Waterproof Eyeliner in Bold Bronze, which I like to use as more of a cream shadow/liner cross. I line my eyes all the way round and then smudge the colour  an easy way to make my blue eyes stand out.

Possibly the most shimmery, festive product I own, the e.l.f. Mineral Eyeshadow in Celebrity is a gorgeous gold shade that brightens the eyes on its own, and adds a little extra something to a smokey eye when it's patted over the top. (It's no longer sold *sobs* but the e.l.f. Studio Baked Eyeshadow in Bronzed Beauty looks quite similar). The NARS Illuminator in Orgasm works wonderfully along the top of cheekbones in the evening, and I particularly love it when worn with red lips.

List | The Seven Deadly Sins of Beauty

Monday, 7 December 2015

LUSH Candy Mountain

Hello everyone, how are you all? I've just about recovered from my timed assignment last week (task set on 9am on Day 1, must be complete and handed in on Day 2, just as stressful as it sounds) and Christmas shopping on Saturday (Cardiff was heaaaving). Now that's out of the way all I can think about is going home for the holidays. Five days, people, five days! 

The Seven Deadly Sins of Beauty is a tag, and I found a draft for it in my documents when I was having a clear-out a while back. I must have forgotten to add it to my blog schedule originally (oops) but better late than never, right? I can't remember whose blog I found it on originally, but thank you, whoever you may be! 

Bath and Body | Treats For the Evening, with Yes To Blueberries and LUSH

What's Made Me Happy This Month? | November 2015

Monday, 30 November 2015

Wales can be pretty damn beautiful at this time of year. This was the first day of November, and the sun was out all day. Pity it didn't stay that way!
November was a ridiculously rainy month, but I tried not to let that get in the way of anything (although I did discover that my boots aren't actually waterproof...). I've spent most of my time trying to get my coursework written, and then either collapsing at home in front of the TV, or collapsing in the pub. Crazy student life, right?  

Make-Up | Barry M Bold Waterproof Eyeliner

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Barry M Bold Waterproof Eyeliners
Barry M Bold Waterproof Eyeliners. They cost a mere £3.99 each!

I don't know about you, but there's something about winter that just makes me want to use more of a heavy hand when it comes to make-up. I don't mean that I start to cake it all on. It's more that putting a bit more effort in when it comes to make-up makes me feel happier when the weather outside is cold and miserable. There's something about a polished base, bold brows, defined eyes, and dark lips that can make an ordinary day or night seem that bit more special.

I'm also more likely to experiment with colour, and that's where these Bold Waterproof Eyeliners by Barry M come in. As much as I adore and rely on black, black, and more black, it's also fun to go out of my comfort zone and try something new. (Although the Bold Black liner is great  a true black rather than a wishy-washy dark grey.)

Cruelty-Free Brand of the Month | Weleda

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Hello everyone! I hope you're well?

It's time once again for Cruelty-Free Brand of the Month, and today I'm talking all things Weleda. I'll admit, before I started spending a lot (a lot) of time browsing websites like Naturisimo, I'd only really heard of Weleda in passing, and it was always the same product that was mentioned: Skin Food.

When I finally took the plunge and bought something from Weleda, though, it was the Gentle Cleansing Milk that caught my eye, simply because that's what I needed at the time. It was a purchase made out of necessity, rather than curiosity, and little did I know that I'd find a new favourite brand... 

Sample Size | Naturisimo Treats For Hands, Skin, and Hair

Monday, 23 November 2015

Naturisimo Samples

Hello everyone! How are you all? I'm gonna be honest: I'd planned to have a really productive week, but it all fell by the wayside by the end of Wednesday and I just couldn't get much written. Writer's block is a thing, people, and it's shit. I had an amazing dissertation class on Friday morning though  we talked about stupid boys being stupid, and then cried over poetry. I swear it's just a therapy session in disguise.

Anyway. I bought a few things from Naturisimo a while back, and jumped at the chance to get some extra samples with my order. All of them are from cruelty-free brands I haven't really tried before, so I thought I'd do an un-boxing post (although I admit that I couldn't wait to try the hand cream before I wrote this). Let me know if you'd like me to review anything. 

Hair | 3 Vegan Products to Help Combat Dryness

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

My hair always frizzes up (well, more than usual) and gets extra dry when the weather turns, so recently I've been taking extra care of it. I'm trying to keep things simple, and I've been avoiding heat styling as well (it only makes things worse, I find, especially in Wales where my hair gets extra parched). Three products in particular have been stand-out for me, so I thought I'd tell you why.

The 16 Stages Of... | The Day Of A Third Year Creative Writing Student

Monday, 16 November 2015

People's reactions are very mixed when they find out I do a Creative Writing degree. There are those who immediately think it's the coolest thing ever, those who are surprised that such a degree exists and wonder what the hell I'm going to do with it, and those who are very confused as to what it is that I actually do. So I thought I'd do a Day In The Life kinda post to shed a bit of light on my student life. (There are also some very rude people who assume that just because I'm not setting myself up for a specific type of job that my degree is a waste of time; I'm not so fond of them. I've learned a tonne from my course and I don't regret enrolling at all.) 

Make-Up | The Lily Lolo Base

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

My affair with Lily Lolo is relatively new, but I can assure you that the love is all-too real. I first tried their products in September, and I've been singing their praises ever since. My entire base, bar one under-eye concealer, is now Lily Lolo, and it's mainly because my sensitive, spotty skin responds well to it  everything is just so breathable. Here's what I've been wearing on a daily basis: 

Review | LUSH Bath Bombs — Twilight, Intergalactic, and Shoot For The Stars

Monday, 9 November 2015

LUSH Shoot For The Stars

(Just sorting out this post ready to be published and I'd love to say the stars/sky theme was planned... but I've only just noticed it. As you were.)

I have no self control when it comes to LUSH. There, I said it: I am a full-blown addict. I should have known better, really, than to walk into the store to buy only one thing; it's impossible to leave without a bag of treats. But I reviewed them all for you, because I'm nice like that.

Skincare | The Antipodes Mask That's Saving My Skin

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask
Never mind the mask itself, how gorgeous is this packaging? *swoons*

I don't know what the hell is going on with my skin right now. I got my usual deadline-induced bout of acne in April, and then instead of fading once uni was over for the year, it just stuck around. For months, I was convinced that all I needed was a healthier diet and a gentler skincare routine, but I have both those things and there hasn't been much improvement until recently.

List | 3 Things I Learned From Working In A Newsroom, and How to Apply Them to Blogging

Monday, 2 November 2015

So, last month I spent a week doing work experience in a newsroom, and it was something of an eye-opener. I don't really have a career path in mind that I might pursue after I graduate, I just know I want to be able to write non-fiction in one form or another. Local journalism, however, is not the one. The hours are long, it's stressful, and, with a couple of exceptions, you can't really be creative.

The week was by no means a waste, though. First of all, I have a clearer idea of what I want for post-grad life. And second, I noticed that you could apply the way the journalists approach their news website to running a blog. Here are three things I learnt:

What's Made Me Happy This Month? | October 2015

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

LUSH Sparkly Pumpkin

Damn, it got cold in October! The scarves are out, the heating's on, and I've been looking up recipes for soup (salad is the last lunch you want when it's chilly). I've had a tonne of work to do for university, not to mention a week of working office hours like a proper adult, and frankly, I'm shattered. But despite that, I've always had a soft spot for this time of year, and there have been plenty of lovely moments in October.

Winter Essentials

Friday, 23 October 2015

Winter Essentials

I'd wager that I feel the cold more than your average twenty-something, and it shows. The skin on my hands gets cracked, my lips get sore, and I find myself reaching for moisturisers that are a lot, lot richer. Winter products may be very functional, but they are by no means boring, so I thought I'd share some of my favourites with you all.

On My Nails | Autumn Shades By Barry M

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Barry M Gelly Nail Paint in Black Pistachio, Mustard, and Chilli

Generally, I don't really follow trends that closely, I just pick and choose what I like, but all of that goes out of the window at this time of year. The berries, the camel colours, the copper... and also less-raved about shades like these.

I found Barry M's Gelly Nail Paints to be a little hit and miss when they were first released, but they've most certainly perfected the formula by now because all of these apply very smoothly (as long as you don't get too much paint on the brush). Boots had a 3-for-2 offer on recently (it might still be going) so I picked up three shades: Black Pistachio, Mustard, and Chilli

List | 15 Little Things That Make Me Happy

Monday, 19 October 2015

After all the stress of last week's post about feeling the pressure, I thought I'd start the week with something a little more positive, and the little things list was born. It is by no means exhaustive, I just let my mind ramble and these are the fifteen things that I thought of first. Enjoy!

Make-Up | The Berry Lips are Back

Friday, 16 October 2015

Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Red Dahlia; Sleek True Colour Lipstick in Dare; GOSH Velvet Touch Lipstick in Matt Plum

I'm quiet and baby-faced, and I use nonsense words when talking to dogs I come across in the street, but berry lips make me feel like I'm absolutely ruthless. I've said this many a time, especially on Twitter, but I'm gonna reiterate anyway: berry lips make me feel like I have my shit together. Make-up doesn't just transform you on the outside; it also has an effect on your state of mind, and I love that.

Thoughts and Musings | PRESSURE

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

I picked this photo because there are few things that intimidate me more than a blank page (or screen!)
By pressure, I mean the pressure I put on myself. The things that I feel like I should be doing, and therefore fret about when I don't get them done, or don't do enough of them. This list includes, but is not limited to:

Cruelty-Free Brand of the Month | Neal's Yard Remedies

Monday, 12 October 2015

I first became familiar with Neal's Yard Remedies when I picked up their hand creams as magazine freebies. I love their hand creams, but I'd never really considered looking into any of their other ranges until recently. This, I quickly discovered, was a damn shame, because Neal's Yard make some excellent products. Curious? Here's what I've been loving.

Hair | #GetYourCurlsOut with Umberto Giannini

Friday, 9 October 2015

Umberto Giannini Curl Friends

My hair is a bit of  a contradiction: fine but wavy (with the odd most-definitely curly section thrown in), it hangs somewhere between straight and not. Products designed for curly hair are usually too heavy for me, but products made for fine hair don't always calm the frizz I'm prone to getting. This means I'm often in a bit of a hair dilemma, with no idea what to use.

List | Looking Back — 8 Beauty Mistakes I Have Definitely Made

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

We're taking a trip back in time to my teenage years today  hence the clock. (I couldn't find any stock photos of smushed lipstick and there was no way I was ruining one of my own.) My experiments with make-up have definitely helped me to (slowly) learn what works and what doesn't, and I pick up new tips all the time. It was, and still is, a trial and error approach, and I will be eternally grateful that I went through my early teens before social media became the huge thing it is today. Since there are no photos (none I'd be willing to share, anyway!) I made a list instead. Here are my beauty mistakes.

Make-Up | Looking for a Cruelty-Free Concealer

Monday, 5 October 2015

I found my favourite undereye concealer months ago, but I've had less luck when it comes to a concealer for blemishes. When you suffer from breakouts, this can be a problem. When you only buy cruelty-free products, this can also be a problem, because you can't just pick up any old thing while you're shopping  you have to research it first. Oh, and I'm incredibly pale, so unless I go high end the chances of finding a decent shade match are slim. But I can't afford to buy high end base products on a regular basis. My mission? To find a decent, spot-covering concealer that's a) cruelty-free, b) pale, and c) affordable enough for me to make part of my everyday make up routine. 

(In case you're wondering just how pale I am, I wear the shade Siberia in NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, and I use their Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly under my eyes.)

Cruelty-Free Concealer

Skincare | New In For Winter

Friday, 2 October 2015

I've said previously that I don't want to make too many changes to my skincare routine, but my skin always needs that extra something at this time of year. I've added two products: Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil, and Dirty Works Perfecting Eye Cream.

Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil

What's Made Me Happy This Month? | September 2015

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Kent Wheel

September has very much been a month of two halves. During the first half, I spent most of the time sorting out the last of my uni stuff and spending as much time with friends and family as possible, and then the latter half has been spent settling into my new house and catching up with everyone from uni, as well as meeting my new housemates. I've also been enjoying bringing out all my autumn sweaters  and window shopping for more... 

Shopping My Stash | A Mousse, An Eyeshadow Palette, and a Lifesaving Cleanser

Monday, 28 September 2015

Before we get into the bulk of today's post, I have a confession to make. I had originally planned a post about Superdrug's cruelty-free false eyelashes, but after buying two packs and failing to apply the lashes successfully, I had to admit defeat. That's right: I've lost my ability to apply false eyelashes.

Anyway. In all the fuss of packing and re-packing and travelling back to uni, I forgot to bring my ultimate holy grail product back to university with me. I'm talking, of course, about the Ultrabland cleanser by LUSH, and when I realised I'd left it behind I nearly wept.

List | 10 Things You'll Find On My Bookshelf

Friday, 25 September 2015

Yes, I keep my make-up on my bookshelf. There wasn't really anywhere else for it to go (my room's smaller than it was last year) but I don't mind, because at least this way it's all in easy reach. Naturally, I also keep some of my books here  a large portion of them are back home  and my aim is to gradually add more to the shelf; it's one of my ambitions in life to have a killer book collection, and it makes me sad to think that I'll never get to read everything. Just me? Anyway, here's some of the stuff you can find on the shelf.

Hair | A New Routine, featuring Neal's Yard Remedies, Yes To Coconut, and OGX

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Neal's Yard Remedies Nourishing Lavender Shampoo; Yes To Coconut Ultra Moisture Conditioner; Neal's Yard Remedies Rosemary & Cedarwood Hair Treatment; OGX Coconut Water Weightless Oil Mist

My hair frustrates me no end. Oily roots, dry ends, and a little halo of frizz mean that it never looks quite the way I want it to. I've also never been particularly skilled at styling it. I thought it was about time I showed my hair a bit more TLC, so I invested in some new products and I'm planning to cut down on heat styling.

Cruelty-Free Brand of the Month | Lily Lolo Mineral Cosmetics

Monday, 21 September 2015

Lily Lolo Make Up
Clockwise: Natural Lip Gloss in English Rose; Mineral Blush in Beach Babe; Mineral Powder in Translucent Silk; Mineral Foundation SPF15 in Porcelain
Something I've been really keen to do recently is branch out and try some more cruelty-free brands. I like to think that people can come to TOASTY and see that cruelty-free beauty isn't always difficult to find, but I also want to draw attention to brands which aren't as well known as your standard high street staples (or are well known but sometimes overlooked). And so, the idea for Cruelty-Free Brand Of The Month was born, and it's as straightforward as it sounds: each month, I'll be discussing a brand whose ethics I admire and whose products I haven't really tried before.

The 23 Stages of... | Going Back to Uni

Friday, 18 September 2015

So yesterday I made the journey to university, and I'm so happy to be back. The five hours or so that it takes to travel between England and Wales can be a bit of a faff, so I thought I'd liven it up with another The Stages Of... post.

I did a post like this way back in April, and had a lot of fun writing it, but I haven't done one since. It means constantly taking notes, and that can be quite disruptive, not to mention it can stop you fully experiencing whatever's going on around you. However, I think we'd all agree that train journeys are generally pretty unremarkable, unless you're taking the scenic route, so I was able to make my notes without feeling guilty.

First Impressions | The Organic Pharmacy Skincare

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Skincare by The Organic Pharmacy

I don't really test out new skincare very frequently  what I'm using at the moment seems to be working *fingers crossed* so why mess with it? But I made an exception for The Organic Pharmacy (Elle gave away three of their products as a freebie) because I've heard such good things about the brand, including rave reviews of their most well-known product, the Carrot Butter Cleanser. I also love that their products are free from artificial colourants, fragrances, petrochemicals and preservatives, and they're a cruelty-free company too.

List | Love/Hate

Monday, 14 September 2015

So last month Kay tagged me in one of her posts (check out her blog for a really interesting mix of all things lifestyle, including feminism, beauty, and politics). The challenge? To make a list of ten things I love, and ten things I hate. It sounded like the kind of post I could have fun with, so I got thinking. Challenge accepted.

Make-Up | Copper Eyes and Long Lashes

Friday, 11 September 2015

Products for Copper Eyes

As soon as September arrived, it was only a matter of time before I broke out the eyeshadow palettes. I rarely wear much eye make up in summer (too risky with all the hay fever struggles) but as soon as the air gets crisper and the wind gets a little bit colder I know it's safe, and my collection of products comes out of hiding. High on my list of favourite autumn looks is copper eyes, so I thought I'd show you what I use to create them. It does take a little bit of effort (as we all know, eyeshadow looks best when it's been blended) but I promise you it's worth it.

Thoughts and Musings | I'm a Third Year (Why Does Time Go So Fast?)

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

So the other day I re-enrolled on my course, picked all my modules (all three of them), and checked out my potential new timetable. Then it hit me: it was the last time I would ever do any of that. I'm a third year now, and my life, which has mostly been dictated by university over the past two years, is going to change again after I finish in April. In a lot of ways, this is quite difficult to come to terms with, because I feel like I finally found my feet in second year, and I'm not sure if I'm ready to move on yet.

Reviews | Empties, and Products I've Hit Pan On

Monday, 7 September 2015

Believe it or not, I've never actually done an empties-type post before. I tend to make my way through products quite slowly, and although I'm guilty of the odd impulse buy I generally stick to the same kind of thing  there's no way I'd have enough material to put together a monthly empties post.

On this occasion, however, I seemed to run out of a lot of products at the same time (why does this always happen when your student loan is starting to run out?) and I fancied writing about everything before I threw it in the recycling bin. I think it helps to stop and think about whether you'd actually buy a product again, so you may well be seeing more empties posts in future! Let me know what you think. 

Bath and Body | The Leaping Bunny-Approved Bodycare Duo I Can't Live Without

Friday, 4 September 2015

Superdrug Vitamin E Bodycare Duo

Let's be honest: if someone asked us to pick between Boots and Superdrug, we would probably know exactly which one we'd choose. And, until I went cruelty-free I would have said Boots. Hell, I still enjoy wandering the aisles and browsing the many, many types of products they sell (a hobby which is always dangerous for the bank balance). But when it comes to cruelty-free products, Superdrug have the edge, with every single own-brand product bearing the Leaping Bunny logo. This means the products have been approved by Cruelty Free International (previously known as the BUAV). Cruelty Free International only permit brands to put this logo on their products if they don't conduct any animal testing whatsoever, so it's a quick and easy way to find out if something is cruelty-free or not. For more information, you can head over to Cruelty Free International's info pages..

The other good thing about Superdrug's own-brand products is that they're all reasonably priced, and as a result I've been buying all my everyday products there more and more. I do love a little bit of luxury now and again, but I also like to get good value for money, and the duo below provide just that. My winter skincare is already sorted.

Make-Up | 3 Cruelty-Free Nudes For Under £5

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Cruelty-free nude lipsticks for under £5
Barry M Matte Lip Paint in Palest Nude; MUA Luxe Whipped Velvet Lips in Spry; Makeup Revolution Amazing Matte Lipstick in Nude
I'm beyond fussy when it comes to nude lipstick. Too pale and it washes me out; too brown and it just looks very, well, brown. I own a few lipsticks which have a hint of coral or pink, but I wanted a genuine nude nude to go with a red dress I bought recently, and I also didn't want to spend a fortune. With this in mind, I hit Superdrug, who I find to be far better when it comes to selling cruelty-free products than Boots.

What's Made Me Happy This Month? | August 2015

Monday, 31 August 2015

Quotebook Co

August seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye, but I'm not complaining because I'm getting a bit restless being home for the summer. It's got to the point where I'm finding really little things irritating, which is always a sign it's time to leave! My train ticket back to Wales is all booked, so I just have to enjoy the remaining weeks I've got with my family and friends before term starts and I set up camp in the library (though I may have to take a few study breaks to watch the rugby world cup in the pub  I'm so excited!)

I don't like it when small things start to bother me, because they really don't matter in the grand scheme of things, so writing this post has been a gentle reminder that life is good, and I'm lucky.

List | 10 Reasons Why I Can't Wait For Autumn & Winter

Friday, 28 August 2015

Is the end of August too early to start thinking about Autumn? I'm not sure. It certainly doesn't feel like it with all the windy, rainy weather we've been having. Yesterday I went out for lunch and because there were no seats left indoors in a gallant attempt to embrace the spirit of summer we ate our food outside, and it was freezing! And although I'm not a fan of being cold, it got me thinking about my favourite seasons of the year. 

Anyway, I'm going to fulfil several blogger stereotypes in this post, and I'm not ashamed; in fact, I love that so many of us get excited about the same stuff. It's the little things in life, right? Despite the weather, the A/W season makes me happy, and it's all the things you'd expect that brighten up those cold days and nights: tartan scarves, Starbucks, and cosying up under the duvet. Enjoy.

Skincare | Current Skincare Routine (August 2015)

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

As you may have gathered from my post on adult acne, my skin is suffering right now. Spots on my forehead, spots on my chin (although those are finally getting better) — I even get a few on my cheeks and along my jawline occasionally. Fun times. A trip to the doctor may be on the cards after all.

The silver lining, if there is one, is that having acne has made me think very carefully about what I put on my skin each day. I feel like the best thing to do is be gentle and not use any products that are too harsh or drying (those foamy, gritty washes geared towards teenage skin just make me die a little bit inside. Not that I'm a teenager, but at 21 it turns out I'm technically too young for adult acne, too. What am I?!).

Make-Up | The Lip Pencil That Divides Opinion

Monday, 24 August 2015

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl (?)

Never in a million years when I added this product to my NARS order did I think that it would prove to be controversial. But the NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl has been nothing but.

It started with my nan. I asked her, quite innocently, what she thought of my lipstick. There was a very awkward pause  well, it was awkward for her, I thought it was hilarious  and then she goes "I shall be honest, I prefer you in paler colours, with your skin". Fair enough.

Then, at the charity shop where I volunteer twice a week, my co-worker told me how much she loved it. "Doesn't she look nice, with her lipstick?" she said to our manager. "No," my manager replied bluntly. "It's too dark for your skin." Again, fair enough (although when I wore it again she admitted that it looks good with an all-black outfit). But that very same day, I was complimented on it when I was at the pub.

As it happens, I love this shade, and I'm not going to stop wearing it just because a few people dislike it. It's one of those confidence-boosting colours that makes me feel like I've got my shit together, and it also has the added bonus of making it look like I've made an effort, even though the pencil shape makes application really quite easy.

Left: Wearing Dragon Girl. Right: I got camera shy hahaha, I'm such a dork

Not every red lipstick is made equal, and this one is a red shade with pink undertones, rather than a true red. I like this; I think it warms my skintone up a bit and just makes me look a little more alive.

Despite being matte, Dragon Girl isn't drying at all, and it mostly stays put. By this, I mean that it can survive me eating a slice of sponge cake, but it's not safe to eat an overflowing sandwich in public (unless I suddenly decide that 'lipstick smeared on chin' is a good look).

Have you ever worn something that people either loved or hated? What do you think of Dragon Girl? Let me know in the comments!

Review | LUSH Celestial Facial Moisturiser (v)

Friday, 21 August 2015

LUSH Celestial Moisturiser

TOASTY could easily become a LUSH fan blog, and I make no apologies for that. I love the brand's ethical stance, the vast range of products, and how open they are about the ingredients in every single thing they sell. I love that whenever I go into a store, whether I'm in South Wales or South East England, the staff are always polite, helpful, and happy to share their tips and recommendations with me  it's like going beauty shopping with a (very fragrant) friend.
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