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

Monday, 29 June 2015

A beautiful sunny day in Kent. Who would have thought this was in the middle of a city?

June has been a very good month for me. I've been busy, what with work experience and blogging and actual work too, but that's not to say I haven't enjoyed myself; quite the opposite, in fact. The little bits of sunshine we're getting here and there have definitely helped, too  there's something about the sun that just makes everything seem a little bit better.

1. Work experience. At the beginning of the month I did a week's placement at Buzz magazine in south Wales, and I can honestly say that I loved every second of it. I hear so many horror stories about people who end up making cups of tea and photocopying when they do placements (although I appreciate you have to start somewhere) but from the very beginning I was writing material for the magazine. I even got to do an interview, which was terrifying, but I'm glad I pushed past the nerves and got it done. The team were lovely, so if you live in the area and fancy seeing what life at a magazine is like then I'd recommend applying.  

2. Parklife. As soon as work experience finished I went straight up to Manchester to go to Parklife with some of my friends from back home. I did a full post on it, so I won't go into too much detail, but basically it was a really fun weekend with plenty of music, food, and laughter (and a little bit of rum). Highlights included Ella Eyre, George Ezra, and, if I'm honest, my first shower after being grubby all day. 

3. Sitting in the sun with my favourite people in the entire world and, for once, not worrying about a thing. I don't think anything else needs to be said, really.

4. Getting my results. As hoped, I passed my second year of uni with a First, and I'm so happy that all the time I spent writing paid off. Hopefully I'll be able to keep it up next year and graduate with a First too! (The thought of graduating terrifies me but this post is supposed to be about happiness so we're just going to skip past that, la la la.)

5. Going on holiday. I'm currently back in Wales, but not for uni or work this time: for a family holiday. I haven't been away with them for three years, but when my dad told me that he was heading to south Wales with my brother and Mumma Toasty I couldn't resist joining them  I wanted to visit everything I don't get to see while I'm up there. I'm going to be writing about all our adventures, so keep your eyes peeled for a holiday post or two very soon!

6. These blog posts: Jasmin's series on SEO; Hilary's post about make up shaming; Beth's post about motivation, and Cat's handy how-to guide about creating custom reports on Google Analytics.  

What have you been up to in June? Have you been on holiday, or have you got one planned? Let me know in the comments!

Thoughts and Musings | Pale Skin Problems

Friday, 26 June 2015

And not a single fuck was given that day

I have several pet peeves  bad spelling and grammar, the saying 'real women have curves', people who ruin food by putting spring onions in it — and the idea that being pale is somehow inferior to being tanned is right up there with them.

Let me get one thing out of the way first: I don't have an issue with tanning, as long as it's done safely. Sun-kissed skin looks gorgeous, end of. But I am sick to the back teeth of people insinuating or outright stating that there somehow something wrong with being ghostly white, and, what's more, choosing to remain that way. I could tan if I had the time or patience, and I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been tempted by the Cocoa Brown Gradual Tan I've seen floating round the blogosphere, but it seems like a lot of effort to change something that I'm perfectly happy with in the first place.

I have never had a problem being pale, but other people often seem to have a problem on my behalf. There's my mum, who likes to comment every time she sees a flash of bare ankle when I'm wearing skinny jeans ('So white!') There's my friend Dan, who thinks I look 'weird' (you'd think he'd be used to it by now; I've known him for ten years). When a group of us went on holiday to Spain he kept shaking his head at how pale my skin was and laughing at me for using SPF50 (it was less funny when he was all sun-burnt and flaky). There are the acquaintances, and even the odd stranger, who feel compelled to point out 'You're so pale!'

Really? I'd never noticed. 

Back in my dancing days, I was always the go-to girl for arm comparisons if anyone needed reassurance that they still had some holiday skin, and people still hold their limbs next to mine for a confidence boost. Some of them just find it funny, and others seem slightly aghast that I could be happy remaining in my permanently-white state.

But I am happy. I think pale skin has a different kind of beauty of its own  pale and interesting, as they say. When my body has been scrubbed and moisturised and is all glowy from my having a shower, I think it looks clear and healthy, and is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Of course, if being pale bothers you then there's nothing wrong with using fake tan. I've said this before, but that's the wonderful thing about beauty products: they allow you to enhance the things you love, and play down the things you're not so fond of. I'm fond of my pale skin, though, and I refuse to be pressured into tanning it. And the more people scoff, the more I will get my legs out.  Really, this post is a shout-out to everyone else who is ghostly white. Pale skin is beautiful, and don't let anyone tell you any different.

Have you had experiences like mine? How do you feel about having pale skin? Let me know in the comments!

Review | Makeup Revolution Amazing Eyeliner (Waterproof)

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Makeup Revolution Amazing Eyeliner (Waterproof)

After delving into the world of Makeup Revolution by trying out their eyeshadow palettes, the next stop for me was liquid liner. Liquid liner has been a staple in my make up bag for as long as I can remember  I've been obsessed with perfecting my winged eyeliner technique since the age of twelve (although at that point it was more for stage make up than everyday life).

Although it's something I use a lot of, I've always been very reluctant to splash out on a fancy liquid liner, so when I saw Makeup Revolution were selling a waterproof version for the grand price of £1.50 I just had to get my hands on one. And I'm so glad I did, look at this beauty.

The applicator is curved, which makes following the shape of your eyelid an absolute breeze. The tip is really thin, which makes it so much easier to perfect those pesky flicks, too (although I always keep a cotton bud and some micellar water nearby, just in case).

Makeup Revolution Amazing Eyeliner (Waterproof) on eye

Not quite a clean, precise line but as you can see, I'm getting there!

Pigmentation-wise, the liner is a dark, inky black, and doesn't go grey over the course of the day. It doesn't flake, it doesn't smudge, it doesn't go anywhere really: in short, it really is ideal if you are a) short on time, b) a clumsy lover of winged liner, and c) can't be bothered to top up your make up throughout the day. The pot is teeny, which makes it easy to carry round if you do want to reapply, but rest assured: I've had mine for a couple of months now and I'm nowhere near close to running out.

For a mere £1.50, I think this really is a bargain, and an essential if you can't get enough of the good ol' cat flick.

Makeup Revolution's Amazing Eyeliner (Waterproof) is available here.

Are you a fan of liquid liner? Are there any other Makeup Revolution Products you think I should try? Let me know in the comments!

List | 21 Things I Learned By 21

Monday, 22 June 2015

This is the kind of post I didn't give much thought to. I don't mean that I don't care about it  I care about everything I write on this blog  or that I didn't put any effort into it  ditto  just that I just sat and wrote everything down as it appeared in my head. There wasn't much planning involved, I just let my brain take over (those are the best kind of writing days, when it all just flows). I think, more than anything, this post is an open letter (or should that be a list?) to myself when I was younger. Enjoy.

1. Do not waste your time, energy, or tears on people who don't make make the same effort for you in return. Get the fuck out of there and move on.

2. Spend as much time as possible with people who do care about you, and who you care about right back. You'll get this warm, fuzzy feeling that no alcoholic drink can replicate.

3. People who are negative about Every. Single. Thing. will only sap your energy (and, chances are, one of the things they're negative about is you. You deserve better).

4. Your mum was right.

5. Your dad was also right... most of the time.

6. A hot bath can make everything better.

7. Especially when you've got a bath bomb from LUSH. Sex Bomb, where you at?

8. It's important to look after your body, but sometimes only the most calorific junk food can hit the spot. Enjoy it.

9. Never trust anyone who is rude to the waiter/waitress/bartender/bus driver/taxi driver.

10. A kind, Welsh lady calling you 'lovely' is one of life's biggest joys.

11. Your family probably have amazing stories they've never told you before. Ask them about their lives, and listen. If all else fails, it can be turned into an amusing biographical piece for your Creative Writing classes (just me?)


12. Feminism is not a dirty word. There is nothing shameful about being one, or saying you are one. Feminism is about equality between the sexes and having the freedom to choose, and that's pretty wonderful.

13. Speaking of, people will make choices you wouldn't necessarily have made yourself. That's life; everyone is different. Let them live.

14. Starbucks and a chat with a good friend can turn a bad day right round (I'm lookin' at you, Hamill)

15. Ignore anyone who tells you that buying that expensive lipstick is frivolous. If you've got the money then why not? (IT JUST MAKES ME HAPPY, OKAY?) 

16. All the things that made you feel awkward as a teen  your shyness, your baby face, your love of books, writing, make up, and ballet  are the things you should embrace.

17. Well, maybe not all of them: wrapping headscarves round your waist like they were belts was never a good look.

18. Read as many books as possible.

19. Some friends will come and go, and some friends will stick around, but the best friends are the ones who you might not see for months at a time but have no trouble slipping back into conversation with.

20. Base your life around doing what's right for you and what makes you happy.

21. You are doing just fine.

What have you learnt so far? Do you relate to any of these? Let me know in the comments!

First Impressions | ModelCo Shine Ultra Lip Gloss in Striptease

Friday, 19 June 2015

ModelCo Shine Ultra Lip Gloss

It's been a while since I've written about a magazine freebie, but I felt like I needed to with this one, primarily because: it's a lip gloss! And I picked it out!

Most of you will be aware that gloss isn't normally my thing, with glossy-finish lipstick or gloss/stain hybrids being as close as I've come to lip gloss since the age of fourteen or so. But when Glamour gave away ModelCo goodies with their July issue  which is still in the shops, should you fancy it  I did the opposite of what I would normally do, and bought the Shine Ultra Lip Gloss out of curiosity (the other options were black eyeliner pencil, blue eyeliner pencil, and mascara).

Unfortunately, I can't find a shade name anywhere, but here's what it looks like on my lips (UPDATE: It's called Striptease):

ModelCo Shine Ultra Lip Gloss (on lips)

No, that white speck in the middle of my top lip is not a flake of skin; it's a glitter particle, which made me feel like I was eight again (as did the peach scent). Luckily, you can only really see it if you look closely, but it's something to bear in mind.

Now, I'm sure you're all wondering: is it sticky? Yes, it is  to a point. There is a little bit of stickiness, but generally it feels very comfortable on the lips, and it's not tacky. Hair will stick to it if there's wind, but you won't want to scrub it off in a frenzy, either.

I think my favourite thing about this gloss is the colour; it's just a subtle hint of peach. The website describes it as a 'soft colour tint' and I think that's very accurate, because it's not in-your-face or statement-making, it just makes lips look really pretty and shiny. I happily wear it alone, as in the photo, or sometimes I layer it over my GOSH Velvet Touch Lip Liner in Angel Kiss if I want a bit more definition. Mwah.

ModelCo Shine Ultra Lip Gloss costs £16 and is available here. If you're reading this before July, then your best bet is to hunt down a copy of Glamour  if you haven't already!

Have you tried any magazine freebies this month? Did any of the other ModelCo products catch your eye? Let me know in the comments!

First Impressions | Superdrug Vitamin E SPF15 Moisturising Cream

Monday, 15 June 2015

Superdrug Vitamin E SPF15 Moisturising Cream

I feel guilty for not paying as much attention to Superdrug as I should. All of their own-brand products are cruelty-free, with the Leaping Bunny label on them to boot, and yet for some reason it never really occurs to me to pop in and have a look at what they have to offer.

That's slowly starting to change though, because I've just started investigating their Vitamin E range, beginning with the moisturising cream.

It's rich, so you only need to use a little bit, and it always leaves my skin with a bit of a glow. Despite how moisturising it is, it doesn't take too long to sink in, and my skin always feels very comfortable once I've used it  it doesn't aggravate my acne. I really like the scent too, it's fresh and cotton-y, if there is such a thing, and the SPF15 is a bonus, too. Overall, it's a very gentle, nourishing, and reasonably-priced cream that I will certainly be repurchasing in future.

Superdrug's Vitamin E SPF15 Moisturising Cream costs £2.99 for 100ml but is quite often on offer. You can buy it here.

Have you tried anything from Superdrug's own-brand ranges? Is there anything else I should look out for? Let me know in the comments!

Parklife Festival

Friday, 12 June 2015

Last weekend I packed my suitcase and headed up to Manchester to go to Parklife, which is held at Heaton Park every year. It was the first festival I've ever been to, and I must say I had a great time; it was so much fun to do something different and be in a little bit of a festival bubble for a couple of days. Plus, I hate camping, and Parklife doesn't have a campsite so I got to go back to my friend Hannah's each night and sleep in an actual bed  result! Here's what happened over the weekend:

Getting There
5:30am wake-up call, ew. I got dressed, ran to the cash point, put some make up on, braided my hair, then legged it out of the door to make the 7:12 train. Unfortunately, it was cancelled without warning because of the One Direction and Manic Street Preachers concerts that took place in Cardiff the day before. I was supposed to get to Manchester at 11:15 but I missed my train from Cardiff, boo.

Luckily, the incredibly helpful woman in the office managed to get me on the next one without my having to pay extra, so I got there at 12. After changing into my shorts and wellies in the Manchester Piccadilly loos (not so glamorous, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do) we caught the tram to Heaton Park and threw ourselves into the fun of the festival.

Ella Eyre and Drunk Dancing
After wolfing down a massive cheeseburger and having a wander round the site with a rum and coke in hand, we headed over to the Main Stage to see Ella Eyre, who was absolutely incredible. Amazing live vocals, great energy, and her eyebrows (and entire outfit) were on point. I had so much fun being part of that crowd.

Next stop was the Resident Advisor tent. I will be completely honest with you: I had no idea who the DJ was. All I knew was that the music was so heavy I could feel it in my chest, and it had a good enough beat for me to dance around to (but not too much  there were so many people squished in!)

Pizza Makes Everything Better
At one point Hannah and I went to see James Bay. I'd been looking forward to it, but unfortunately the people around us were just standing about talking and we couldn't hear a bloody thing, which was infuriating! Why would you pay all that money for a ticket and then stand around and chat? You can do that in the pub any day of the week. We left and ate wood-fired pizza instead (dough, the freshest tomato sauce, lots of pepperoni, and tonnes of cheese) because when in doubt, pizza is the answer.

Ben Howard and My Baby Face
After spending plenty of time enjoying everything by the Warehouse Stage, Elly and I headed over to one of the bars to get more drinks (wine for her and rum for me). The barman told me I sounded like a posh northerner, which is the first time I've ever been told that in my life (I don't, but shoutout to you, Danny! And please don't feel bad about ID-ing me, everyone does. It's the bubba face). We then made our way to the Big Top tent to see Ben Howard and he certainly did not disappoint live. His voice is sublime and there was such a good atmosphere  it was the perfect way to end the day.

[An Interlude About Festival Toilets: EW. I'd braced myself for something gross, but they were just foul. And there were so many used condoms! Why the hell would you have sex in a festival toilet? There's a time and a place, people, and in a portaloo surrounded by other people's bodily waste is not it. I genuinely considered paying a fortune to go in the posh loos at one point, but ultimately thought I'd save my money for food.]

Mexican Food and Unexpected Music
I woke up at 6:20  not quite as bad as the day before  and mercifully I was hangover-free. I was on the rum for the whole of Saturday, but never really got past tipsy because the drinks were so flipping expensive (made prices dahn saaf look reasonable). I was absolutely starving and grabbed an enormous burrito to eat while we caught some of the Fuse ODG set. We also saw Jungle, and although I didn't know any of their songs by name once they started playing I was like 'Oh! Those people!'

I Heart George
The highlight of Sunday was definitely George Ezra's set, he has the most amazing, distinctive voice, and the crowd was absolutely loving it. He kept saying thank you after each song, with a smile about a mile wide as if he couldn't believe what was happening, and then it turned out it was his birthday so everyone sang for him  it was the cutest thing and I've now developed a very little large crush.

Doughnuts and Duke Dumont
I read in an interview with either Edith Bowman or Jo Whiley (I can't remember who!) where whoever it was said that one of the best things about festivals is doughnuts, so when I saw a stand selling them I was over there like a shot. They were hot, fresh, and sprinkled with sugar, and relatively inexpensive compared to a lot of the food on sale.

We caught the start of the Duke Dumont set but the tent was rammed and I got very claustrophobic, plus Elly was feeling sick, so we left and picked a tent at random. We ended up bopping away to Caribou, which turned out to be a great way to end the weekend (I loved all the stuff they did on the drums). There was one horrific minute when we thought we'd lost everyone else, but we ended up being reunited by the Drop The Mustard tent and at that point in time I swear it was the most beautiful moment ever.

Have you been to any festivals this summer, or are you planning to go to any? What was the first festival you ever went to? Let me know in the comments!

Revisited | The Body Shop Double Ended Blackhead Remover

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

                                              The Body Shop Double Ended Blackhead Remover

I was raving about this when I first bought it. 'Look at that dirt!' I was yelling to anyone who would listen, 'It's all gone!'

In my review, which is from mid-October 2014, I say: 'For £4, I think this is an absolute bargain  much cheaper than pore strips  and well worth a go if you have pesky blackheads and blemishes. Just don't forget to open your pores first!'

Unfortunately, what no one told me is that when you use a tool such as this one, the blackheads come back with twice as much force, and they multiply. So, what was once a cluster of blackheads on my chin is now a colony of blackheads on my chin. They cover a much bigger surface area, and they're much more noticeable too. So, in light of that, I retract my earlier enthusiasm. 

To be honest, I was hoping for a more positive start to my Revisited series. It's going to be fairly similar to Shopping My Stash, except I'll be focusing on one product at a time and going back to my original review to compare how I felt then with how I feel now. I try and leave a reasonable amount of time before writing a review  I want it to be both honest and accurate, always  but I'd be lying if I said that it's not easy to get swept up with the excitement of a new product, particularly if it's something a little bit different like this.

Have your feelings about a product ever changed over time? Have you ever tried something like this?  And are their any particular products you'd like me to feature in the Revisited series? Let me know in the comments!

Shopping My Stash | Seventeen, Soap & Glory, and Phil Smith

Friday, 5 June 2015

Seventeen Wild Metallic Eyeshadow in Wild Nude

Wow, it's been a long time since I did one of these posts  the last one was in October! That's not to say I've been neglecting some of the older items in my make up collection, I just had quite a big clear out last year (speaking of which, it's time for another one) and there wasn't much to talk about.

But then I came home for the summer, and had a clear out here too. And I found an abundance of abandoned beauty products: some worth keeping and some that were promptly thrown away. These three products, as you may have guessed, most definitely belong in the former category.

Seventeen Wild Metallic Eyeshadow in Wild Nude (discontinued, booooooooo)
I've been using this practically every day, it's the ultimate lazy-girl eyeshadow. It has a creamy texture that applies equally well with a brush or your finger, and it's a pretty, shimmery nude which is just the right amount of metallic for day. Unfortunately, you can no longer find these on Seventeen stands, which puts me off using it too much in case I can't find a worthy replacement. Boots, you have broken my heart. 
Repurchase? I would if I could!

Soap & Glory It's About Prime Eyeshadow Underbase

Soap & Glory It's About Prime Eyeshadow Underbase, £8
An eyeshadow primer that has a similar colour to the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Chantilly, but has more of a cream-to-powder kind of formula than a concealer. It makes such a difference to the staying power of eyeshadows — I'd say a good three hours' wear, at least, and even now I use it every day there's no sign of it running out. A little bargain.
Repurchase? Yes

Phil Smith Life's a Beach Sea Salt Spray

Phil Smith Life's A Beach Sea Salt Spray, £4
I'll admit, since having my hair cut into a lob at the end of last year I've pretty much ignored my hair's natural wavy texture and straightened it to death. However, there's only so much heat a person can take. Now, after washing, I give my hair a spritz or two of this and it makes my waves a lot more manageable while creating that undone, beachy look that's so suited to summer. Unlike a lot of styling products, Life's A Beach does not make my hair go limp. Since they are so emphatically cruelty free, Phil Smith is probably the brand I'll be turning to first in my search for a new shampoo, especially since I've rediscovered just how amazing this salt spray is.

Repurchase? Hell yeah.

Have you had a clear out or shopped your stash recently? Have you tried any of these products? Let me know in the comments!

Spending Ban Update #2 | #NoMoneyMay

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

One thing I did resist buying was these flowers. They did brighten up my day though.

I was going to write a day-by-day post like I did in my previous spending ban update, but the fact is: I broke the ban, and I broke it badly. I ran out of several products, I needed to pick up various festival items, and I also needed to update my wardrobe so I had some more clothing for this week's work experience placement.

In hindsight, this month was not the best time to put myself on a ban, not when I had so many things to plan for. But it did make me question which purchases were genuinely necessary, and which purchases could wait until the ban was over. For example: clothes for work experience, welly socks, bus fare, and concealer  all essential. The cute, nude nail polish and mini handbag I bought? Not so much.

The next week or so is going to be an expensive one  I've got to pay for travel to and from the office every day, and then I'm off to lose my festival virginity. All food and drink has to be bought on site, and my friend Hannah has promised to introduce me to the best burger that ever existed, so that's gonna make quite a dent in my bank account (I'm hoping it'll be worth it!)

But after that, things are going to change. I'm going to re-plan my weekly budget for the rest of the summer, and once it's sorted then that's it. No extras, no buying things I don't need, no 'just because I feel sad today' purchases. I'm going to try withdrawing the cash I need for each week and then using it to pay for everything (aside from the obvious direct debit stuff). On the whole, I'm careful with my money, but there's definitely room for improvement. I'll let you know how I got on at the end of the summer!

Have you ever failed a spending ban? What are your best budgeting tips? Let me know in the comments!

Sample Size | Bodhi and Birch Rosa Rosa Skincare Minis

Monday, 1 June 2015

Bodhi and Birch Rosa Rosa Skincare

In the middle of March I won a giveaway held by Sandra from Beauty Balm. I was ridiculously excited, a) because I never win anything, and b) because the prize was these Rosa Rosa Skincare Minis from Bodhi and Birch (plus some little sample sachets which I daresay I'll be writing about at some point, thank you Sandra!) Bodhi and Birch is a brand I've read about frequently on Sandra's blog, but was yet to try until now, and I'm happy to report that I've been loving the trio. The parcel actually arrived on my birthday, too, so it felt like double the treat.

Rosa Rosa Clarifying Cleanser
Normally I'm not a fan of foaming cleansers but this one is so gentle that I've made an exception. My spots started drying up quicker once I started using this as well, so the clarifying part is definitely right, and it doesn't strip skin at all; it's just really light and lovely. I would suggest using it as the second part of a double cleanse in the evening, though, just to make sure every last scrap of make up has been removed.

Rosa Rosa Hydrating Toner

The scent of this reminds me of frangipane, of all things, and actually made me feel quite hungry! I've been spritzing this on a cotton pad and swiping it over my face, and it's very refreshing. Like the cleanser, it's light on the skin, but unlike the cleanser, it runs out quite quickly.

Rosa Rosa Daily Moisturiser

Aah, my favourite of this trio! Light, non-greasy, but still very hydrating, it's perfect in the morning when you need something that absorbs quickly into the skin. And, don't be fooled  the sample bottle may be tiny but what's inside lasts for aaaages.

Have you tried anything from Bodhi and Birch? Let me know in the comments!
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