Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The view from the top of the valleys.

March was a blur  the first half of the month was basically just me panicking and trying to finish my dissertation. I eventually got the first full draft done six days before the deadline, and then I spent a few days editing it before sending it off to print (which cost me more than I was happy to pay. You have to get two copies done, and because I do Creative Writing I also have to print off my drafts. £8000 a year and we have to pay to print? Sort it out, universities). The sheer relief once it was finally safe in the office was everything though.

Easter fell ridiculously early this year, so a few days after I submitted my work I travelled home for a bit. I didn't stay for as long as I could have because I still have two projects to work on before I can officially say I'm done with university, and I get far more done in the uni library than I do when I'm at my parents' house (there are so many distractions!)

It hasn't all been work though  I've had a few nice meals out, including yummy duck and orange fajitas at my favourite Mexican restaurant, and I spent a lovely sunny afternoon exploring the Welsh valleys with two of my housemates. We drove up to the top of the hills and stopped to admire the view, and it was just beautiful, one of those moments when time seems to stop and everything is peaceful (well, at least it was until Llion nearly drove the car down a ditch). I really do love Wales.

I watched... England's Six Nations matches. We won the tournament and we won the Grand Slam (on my birthday, no less, which made it that little bit sweeter) and I was so happy because I was in Wales when we crashed out of the world cup and it hurt, and just seeing how much the team have started to improve makes me very excited for future games. I don't know why, but I get so emotionally involved with the rugby  I even follow the coverage on The Guardian. If you'd told me that two years ago I would have laughed in your face. Side note: if you're also a rugby fan  even if you're not, actually  and you fancy a giggle, just watch this video of Billy Vunipola lip syncing to Backstreet Boys (skip to about 18 seconds). You're welcome.

I read... Yes Please by Amy Poehler. My brother got me this for my birthday (cheers, bro!) and I was hooked from the moment I read the first page. I sped through it in a matter of days, even though I was supposed to be reading something else (oops) and I thoroughly enjoyed Amy's humour and honesty. I would like to be like Amy Poehler when I grow up, please.

I listened to... Hold On by SBTRKT, When We Were Young by Adele, and Sitting Waiting Wishing by Jack Johnson.

I bought... Not much this month, actually  I've been cooped up in the library too much to really go shopping (plus I did spend quite a lot on undies in February. Needs must). I did get a couple of tops from Zara, but that was it.

Product of the Month: It's a tie between the Pixi Glow Tonic, which really is as good as everyone says, and Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise in Jean (a pretty, fuss-free cream eyeshadow).

How was March for you? Did you get into the rugby as much as I did? Let me know in the comments!

Charlotte Tilbury Birthday Treats

Monday, 28 March 2016

Charlotte Tilbury Birthday Treats

You might know how much I love Charlotte Tilbury products. You might also know that I live on a student budget, and generally ask for high-end products for Christmas and my birthday so that I'm actually able to try them. This year was no exception, and I was very lucky to receive the K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in Bitch Perfect, Matte Revolution Lipstick Sexy Sienna, and Eyes to Mesmerise in Jean for my birthday last week. I tried everything out immediately after I'd taken some photos and have been using it all nearly every day since, so I thought I'd share my first impressions.

K.I.S.S.I.N.G. Lipstick in Bitch Perfect, £23
This is my favourite lipstick of all time. OF ALL TIME. Bitch Perfect is a gorgeous pink shade, with a little bit of nude and a little bit of coral mixed in there at the same time  ideal for everyday. My pale complexion always seems to look brighter when I wear it. As for the formula, it's smooth, creamy, and long-lasting, and the satin finish makes lips look a little plumper, too. This is the only lipstick I've ever run out of, and I think that says everything.

Matte Revolution Lipstick in Sexy Sienna, £23
I love a matte finish and hate having dry lips (who doesn't?) which can be tricky when a lot of matte formulas are quite drying. Luckily, Charlotte Tilbury's matte lipsticks are almost as creamy as the satin ones, if a little more clingy (buff your lips with a flannel and you'll be fine!) The square bullet makes application really easy too, especially when you're trying to define the cupid's bow. Sexy Sienna is a pretty coral shade that warms up the skin and is perfectly suited to summer; I've found myself wearing it a lot now the weather is trying its hardest to perk up.

Eyes to Mesmerise in Jean, £22
The ultimate luxury lazy-girl eyeshadow. The cool, mousse-like texture blends like a dream and sets quickly, staying put all day. Jean is a cross between gold and champagne pink, which I think is stunning, and it brightens up the whites of your eyes  this is definitely one for when you need to look a bit more awake! It also makes blue eyes pop, which I love.

Have you tried anything from Charlotte Tilbury? What should I put on my wishlist next? Let me know in the comments!

LUSH Easter Eggs

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

LUSH Fluffy Egg Bath Bomb

LUSH Golden Egg Bath Bomb Melt

Last month I attended a bloggers' event at LUSH Cardiff, which I really enjoyed. I was lucky enough to be given a goodie bag, and I thought it was about time I talked about the bath bombs inside, which also happened to be my favourites from the Easter range, Fluffy Egg and Golden Egg. Although I have a bath in my house, the bathroom is absolutely freezing and I stick to showering in the other bathroom (yeah, we have two, it's the best decision my landlord has ever made), so I don't really use bath bombs that often. I made sure to take these two with me to my parents' house when I travelled back last week.

Fluffy Egg Bath Bomb (v), £2.95
As soon as the assistant told me Fluffy Egg smelled like Snow Fairy I was sold! Sweet, candy-scented, musky  this really is the scent of happiness. The bath bomb itself fizzes away quite quickly, and it leaves the water a bright shade of pink; I must admit, I felt like a princess. Most importantly, the scent lasts. Definitely the best bath I've had in a while.

Golden Egg Bath Bomb Melt (v), £3.95
It's soooooo sparkly! I literally touch it for a second and my fingertips come away looking like they've been dipped in glitter. Fortunately, Golden Egg is not all pout and no trousers; it contains cocoa butter, plus sweet wild orange oil, bergamot oil, almond oil, and gardenia, which together create the prettiest scent. This takes longer to fizz away than Fluffy Egg does, which makes for a more relaxing bath, and as much as that amount of glitter scares me, it's actually quite subtle once it's in the water (although do rinse your bathtub after!) The cocoa butter means you don't have to moisturise, so I hopped out of the tub and straight into my pyjamas, ready to sleep. I'm a wild one.

Have you tried any of the LUSH Easter goodies? Which product is your favourite? Let me know in the comments!

I'm Feeling 22

Monday, 21 March 2016

I'll be honest, I'd been looking forward to the birthday balloons for months. 

Yes, I went there with the classic Taylor Swift lyrics. No, I'm not sorry.

So, in case you hadn't guessed by reading what has become the standard title for these kind of posts, I'm now 22 years old. My birthday was on Saturday.

22 is a nice, even number. For me, 22 is also a scary number and a milestone age because I will graduate at the age of 22. If things go to plan then I will get my first proper job at 22. I'm probably going to be moving somewhere different as well. In short, my 22nd year is going to be a year of change, and that's both exciting and terrifying at the same time.

I tried to kick all of those thoughts out of my head on the actual day and concentrate on being grateful. I have my family, my friends, my health, and my education, plus my birthday was as lovely as it could have been. I woke up quite early, and for the first time in three years I was actually at home. I had breakfast with my parents, which is a treat any time of year these days, and then opened some presents (make-up and books  my family know me well!) I spent the morning with my family, and then in the afternoon my closest friends came over and we ate a tonne of food and watched England win the Grand Slam in the Six Nations, which was wonderful. So yeah, it was a good day and I'm very lucky.

But now it's over I can't stop thinking about what's next. I hate uncertainty, I hate it, and I usually deal with stress by planning out my next steps. Knowing where I'm going helps me to calm down and worry less. I don't really have a clear route to follow after university is over, though, and I panic every time someone asks me what I'll be doing, which is something people do a lot when you're about to make the transition from student to graduate. I've been told that life is basically one long process of trying to figure things out, and sometimes things work and sometimes they don't, and you keep trying and you keep learning. This was actually quite helpful  maybe I don't have to have everything as sorted as I think I do?

That turned into a bit of a ramble, sorry! I wasn't really sure where this post was going when I wrote it, I just wanted to write something, and this post was it.

How do you deal with milestones? How do you like to celebrate your birthday? Let me know in the comments!

Pixi Skin Treats — Worth The Hype?

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Pixi Skin Treats

So at the end of last year I finally gave in and went to the Marks and Spencer Pixi stand to see what the fuss was all about. I'd been wanting to try the Glow Tonic for ages (it does have cult status, after all) but I also needed a new cleanser for my second cleanse in the evenings  I couldn't resist grabbing the Glow Mud Cleanser as well. I've been using both products for about three months now, so it was about time for a review! Over the past few months my acne has been steadily improving, and while this is mainly because of my prescription cream I do think these products have helped to speed up the healing process.

Pixi Glow Mud Cleanser, £18 for 135ml
Packaging: Cute pastel green. The gold lettering rubs off, which is not something I'd expect from a product that costs £18.
Ingredients: Aloe vera, avocado oil, hyaluronic acid, 5% glycolic acid
Consistency: It's a bit like a silkier clay mask, if that makes sense? It looks like a clay mask, too. Despite the thick texture, it's very easy to work into skin. I usually rinse it off with a flannel.
How often do you use it? Once a day, in the evenings, after I've removed my make-up with Ultrabland (my favourite Lush cleanser).
Results: My skin always feels cleaner and looks brighter after I use this, without that horrible tight feeling that you can sometimes get when your cleanser is too harsh. Thankfully, the acids don't cause any irritation. I really enjoy using the Glow Mud Cleanser and I'd definitely repurchase (only if I could afford it, though! £18 is a little more than I would normally pay for a cleanser but I had some Christmas money and was feeling spendy. We've all been there).

Pixi Glow Tonic, £18 for 250ml
Packaging: A plastic bottle with the classic green pastel lid and the Pixi logo.
Ingredients: Aloe vera, ginseng, 5% glycolic acid. Alcohol free.
Consistency: It's your standard liquid toner.
How often do you use it? Once a day, in the evenings, after my second cleanse. I apply some to a cotton pad and wipe it over my skin.
Results: It's not always easy to tell how well something is working when you're using it every day, but there have been a couple of times when I've forgotten (late nights!) and that's when I noticed how much Glow Tonic had helped  my skin is always much smoother when I've used it the night before and I think it helps to calm down my spots, too. I can see why Glow Tonic is hyped up so much!

I can see why Pixi gets so much love from bloggers  these products really have worked for me!

Have you ever tried anything from Pixi's skincare range before? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Working On My Wings, and Other Eyeliner Stories

Monday, 14 March 2016

The one look I've always been absolutely obsessed with is winged liner. It started in my dance days, when a flick of black was a standard part of stage make-up, and has remained a constant feature of my make-up looks since my teens.

But winged liner and I do not always get along. As I'm sure many of you know, it's a battle to get your wings looking exactly the way you want them, and even then there's usually one eye slightly better than the other. So when Beauty Expert asked me if I wanted to try the Real Techniques Eyelining Set Collector's Edition*, £19.99, there was no way I could refuse. I've been using Scotch tape to do my wings recently (best beauty hack ever, thank you so much, Em!) so I sat down with the brushes, some gel eyeliner and my tape roll to see what I could do.

The set comes with four brushes: the Pointed Liner Brush, the Smudger Brush, the Eyeliner Brush, and the Precision Liner Brush. I love a good slanted brush so I immediately reached for the Eyeliner Brush, which I find is the ideal cut and size to draw the wings themselves (other slanted brushes I've tried have been larger, and I find this makes life more difficult. Bigger, in this instance, is not better). I then use the Precision Liner Brush, which is teeny, to join the wing to my lashline and draw on the rest of the line. The Pointed Liner Brush is a little flatter and wider, and works better if you want a thicker line  I tend to use it more for drawing along the top lashline. The Smudger Brush has very densely packed bristles and is wonderful for smudging out a harsh line to get that smoky look. It's also very good for blending out eyeshadow along the lower lashline.

I think this is a lovely little set, especially if you're like me and always trying to perfect your eyeliner, and the pouch is ideal for storage when I'm travelling between uni and home. It's good value for money, too, since collectively the brushes are worth £30 and the set is being sold for £19.99. I'd really recommend it!

In Pursuit Of Happiness — 5 Ways I'm Trying To Make Life Better

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

1. Spend more money on experiences (instead of things).
I've been wanting to travel for the longest time and I'm hoping 2016 will be the year I finally get something sorted. I'm off to Lisbon in July, which I'm ridiculously excited about, but I'd also like to have a weekend in a European city at some point if I can. I want to get out of the mindset that buying material goods is the root of all happiness, because it really isn't. All of my best memories are from trips I've taken, performances I've been to (and been in, back in the day) and the time I've spent with loved ones.

2. But own the fact that I like nice stuff.
Doesn't everyone like nice stuff? I don't see why I should be made to feel guilty for having an interest in beauty products  it is possible to like lipstick and have a brain. I feel like I can enjoy treating myself to a new lipstick or having the odd splurge on Nobody's Child and still focus on having adventures.

3. Stop feeling so damn guilty all the time.
There are literally some days when I walk around as if I'm apologising for existing and enough is enough. I have as much right to be going about my day and getting shit done as everybody else.

4. Choose what I worry about.
I'd love to be one of those people who just glides through life and lets nothing bother them but that's just not in my nature  I'm one of those people who gets worried when there's nothing to worry about. So instead of fighting this I'm going to work with it, and focus on the things that are important, like my degree and the impending job hunt, and my friends and family, and try to brush off the shit that really doesn't matter.

5. Talk to people, and not get distracted by my phone.
I have become the queen of procrastination and it's all thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. I love social media when I'm using it to catch up with my family and friends, or chat to my fellow bloggers, but do I really need to be checking it every five minutes? No. The world is not going to end if I don't have access to my phone. And when I'm in the pub I want to sit there and talk to everyone and actually be there, not only sort-of be listening because I'm too busy thinking about so-and-so's Twitter spat. It can wait.

What would you do to make your life better? Do you agree with any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Think Pink

Monday, 7 March 2016

I won't lie, I'm not really a pink person. I never have been, and I doubt I ever will  be. But things are a little bit different when it comes to beauty products  a sweetshop-pink blush adds a lot of life to pale skin like mine, and it's amazing what a pink lipstick can do for brightening up the face, no matter what your skintone. I think pink suddenly becomes that much more appealing once spring starts to appear (well, it's raining as I type this, but you know what I mean!) so I thought I'd share some of the pink products I've been using recently.

LUSH Snow Fairy (v)
I know it's a Christmas product, I know, but I received extra bottles of Snow Fairy from friends who know how much I adore it and I don't want to let it go. I use this candy-scented magic when I need an extra pick-me-up in the mornings, and although the original plan was to make it last until the Christmas products are released, I just don't think I'll be able to. Snow Fairy has got me hooked for life.

This was a sample that came with a Makeup Revolution order a long time ago but it wasn't until my go-to blush died that I reached for it. Wow is such a bright shade, a proper Barbie pink in the pan, but a subtle amount of it on cheeks, blended in, makes you look pretty and healthy (as long as you go easy!) It doesn't sit on the skin quite as smoothly as other high street blushes I've tried but for £2.99 it's not bad at all.

Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter (v), £10 full size
My favourite body butter, one of the best ones I've tried in terms of non-greasiness. The Righteous Butter stuff always sorts out my dry skin, sinks in quickly, and it has that wonderful Classic Pink scent we all know and love.

LUSH Pink Fun (v), £5 per bar
A new discovery, and one I'm still um-ing and aah-ing about. Fun is a sweet, vanilla-ry bar, quite similar to Snow Fairy in scent, and you can use it as a solid shampoo, a bubble bar, and a body wash/soap. You can also make shapes out of it (hence the name) and I reckon I would have loved something like this as a child. Now, however, it doesn't really do much for me, since when I used it as a soap it left my skin feeling really dry (I haven't used it as a shampoo because I don't use products containing SLS on my hair). As much as I like a multi-purpose product, and as much as I enjoyed making it into the shape of a cat, I think Fun was a one-off.

A rosy, Miranda Kerr-esque pink with a teeny hint of coral. The matte texture stops Amazing Grace from being too girly-girly and the colour stays put for ages, surviving both Danish pastries and shots of tequila. I admit, I've often overlooked this shade in favour of Bitch Perfect in the past, but recently I've started using it again and I'm so glad I have. The Matte Revolution lipsticks really are a dream.

The only lip gloss I have ever loved, and for good reason. It applies smoothly, doesn't disappear as soon as you move your mouth (unlike a lot of lipglosses) and it isn't too sticky, either. Oh, and did I mention it smells of chocolate? 

I find many blush brushes to either be too big, leaving me looking permanently embarrassed, or too small, which makes blending a nightmare. This brush, on the other hand, is the perfect shape for giving the apples of your cheeks a little bit of life. The Blush Brush was actually the first Real Techniques product I tried and it remains my favourite  I can't be without it.

What are your favourite pink products? Have you tried any of these? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan


Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Olivia from The Printed Parade and I having a lathering race with the Bunny Jelly; our little gang at LUSH

All things considered, I think February was a good'un. It got started in the best possible way: dinner and drinks with my friends back home. Is there a better way to spend an evening than chatting with your favourites over good food? I think not, and it's extra special when there are cocktails involved. (I had a very large tequila sunrise. No regrets.)

I've had a huge amount of uni work to do recently (what's new?) but I've also made time to socialise and I honestly think that has saved my sanity. Don't get me wrong, I love writing, but when you're having an all-day library session it's a lot easier to get on with things when you know you've got something fun planned. One of my lecturers invited my friend Bobbie and I to do a guest lecture about blogging, so I was able to catch up with her, which was lovely because it had been a year since I'd seen her (she's doing her PCGE and kicking arse). I also had a really fun day shopping (see I Bought... for more) and I got to go to my first blogging event at LUSH, which was amazing (I wrote about it here). So yeah, not bad at all!

I watched... The Dad's Army film. I'd been majorly excited about it ever since I found out they were making one, so it was great to finally see it. I'm not gonna lie, I found it quite difficult to get into at first but I think this is because I'm so familiar with the original series.My brother owns the boxset and I've seen pretty much every single episode, many of them more than once, and I think they're wonderful. Very of their time, but a masterclass in ensemble comedy  all the characters are fleshed out. I thought the film was very faithful to the spirit of Dad's Army, with plenty of nods to the original show, and I loved that the women were more badass in this version as well.

I read... Brighton Rock by Graham Greene, master of dialogue. I'll be honest, I haven't really had as much time to read blogs as I'd like but I've managed to catch some brilliant posts, including Rihanna's no bullshit guide to Google Analytics and Brianne's Five Tips For Going Cruelty-Free.

I listened to... Charlotte OC. Hangover, If My House Was Burning, Colour My Heart... she just has some wonderful songs and I'm not sure how my iPod ever functioned without her.

I bought... new underwear. I kinda had to (although any excuse to buy lingerie and I'm there) because I went to get measured in Boux Avenue and it turns out I've gone down a band size and up two cup sizes (yes, two! Although  fun fact  you automatically go up a cup size when you go down a band size, so technically it's only one, but let's not let that ruin the moment).

Product of the Month: It's gotta be Mary Lou, hasn't it? True love.

How was February for you? Let me know in the comments!
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