Thursday, 28 April 2016

View from my window
It's actually snowing as I write this, but we had the most beautiful blue sky at the weekend. Wales doesn't need any filters, thank you very much ;)
Vintage tutu
There were tonnes of things at the vintage fair, but my eye went straight to the tutu (of course it did!)

Well, this post is a day late, oops. The days all just run into each other now I don't have the structure of university, and if I'm honest I'm not sure I like it. Things were mad at the start of April  I was in the library every day until the 13th, which is when I submitted my last-ever assignment. I was proud of myself for finishing, don't get me wrong, but there was also an overwhelming feeling of 'What on earth do I do now?!'

I decided to give myself a little bit of a break  I've been indoor climbing and I went to the cutest vintage fair with my friend Wade  but recently I've been back in the library again, this time searching for internships and/or jobs. There's something kind of melancholy about sitting in the library with everyone who's still a student (according to Google, I am now a graduand) and, in a weird way, I almost envy them. They have actual concrete plans, and being there with them makes me feel like I have concrete plans too. Don't worry, I'm not just sitting there like a lemon, I have things to do for my remote internship and blog post writing to keep me busy (as well as the job search) but I wish I knew where I was going. I guess I'll just figure it out as I go along.

I watched... Gossip Girl. It'd been a couple of years since I'd seen it so I dug out the box set and got lost in the insane world of the Upper East Side. I'd forgotten how much the sixth season pisses me off, especially the reveal. Serena, my love, Dan has called you every name under the sun, under the guise of an anonymous blogger, and you decide that his Gossip Girl antics are a love letter? Really? You can do better. Thank God for Blair Waldorf is all I'm saying.

I read... The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan, and Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O'Toole. The Opposite of Loneliness is a collection of short stories and essays, all of which I enjoyed, but it's Marina's tragic early death that got to me most. Girls Will Be Girls also got to me, albeit in a different way, because it's about gender stereotypes and how damaging they can be. I haven't written about books on here in ages but there are a lot of things I want to say about both of these, so I might sit at the laptop and see where my thoughts take me. I've also been loving Anne's blog  her post about weight loss really struck a chord with me, and she is so lovely!

I listened to... Friday I'm in Love by The Cure, Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac, Castle by Halsey, and I'm Yours by Alessia Cara (the accompanying video is hilarious).

I bought... Some Rosie For Autograph make-up that I'll be reviewing very soon! Spoiler: it's as dreamy as it looks.

Product of the Month: GOSH Rebel Eyes Mascara. By far the best non-waterproof mascara I've found in terms of staying power and it really does beef up your lashes. I'm also a fan of the curved brush  it makes application so much easier. GOSH don't get enough love, although over the last year or so I've seen more bloggers writing about them, which makes me happy.

How has April been for you? Let me know in the comments!

Searching For a Spring/Summer Base

Monday, 25 April 2016

Summer Base Products

Tropic Pure Effects Beauty Booster

Summer Base Swatches
L-R: Tropic Pure Effects Beauty Booster in Light; Kiko Full Coverage Concealer in 01; Lily Lolo Mineral Foundation in Porcelain
Last year my face was so spotty that using a lighter foundation was completely out of the question  I refused to leave the house unless my skin was as covered as it could be (without looking cakey, obvs). Today, though, things have improved enormously and I've finally found the confidence to start looking for and using something a bit more sheer. My plan is to use a lighter base and then use a full-coverage concealer where I need it. So, what have I found?

Tropic Pure Effects Beauty Booster in Light (v), £22 (comes with free 3-in-1 Beauty Drop Sponge)

I was intrigued when Tropic offered to let me try out their Beauty Booster in Light* (v), which comes with the elegantly named Beauty Drop Sponge* for application. Unfortunately, as you can probably see from the photo, Light isn't pale enough for me, so I haven't been able to test it out as fully as I would have liked to. If Tropic made an Extra Light version I'd be interested because the texture of the Beauty Booster is like that of a daily moisturiser: a light, airy liquid. It blends out really nicely and has a hint of a scent but this isn't unpleasant in the slightest. I may pass this on to Mumma Toasty to see what she thinks because her face gets quite tanned in the summer. 

On the other hand, I've been using the Beauty Drop Sponge on a daily basis, and I can't believe I ever functioned without it. It has a rounded end, which I use for blending in foundation and buffing in concealer, and a flat side with a pointed end, which I use when applying make-up round the nose and under the eyes. Buffing products in with this gives such a flawless finish and although I'm not at the stage where I want to throw away all my brushes, I'm certainly happy to use the Beauty Drop Sponge alongside them.

Kiko Full Coverage Concealer in 01 Light, £7.50 (eight shades available)
A thick (but not heavy) solid cream, this concealer does indeed offer full coverage. I like to use the Detailer Brush from the Real Techniques Core Collection to dot the concealer on any blemishes or red patches and then I use the Beauty Drop Sponge or my fingers to blend it out, before setting it all with powder. This is probably the best high street concealer I've tried when it comes to spot covering, no question  the coverage is heavy duty but looks natural. It does need a little bit of a top-up towards the end of the day but for once I'm totally willing. 

Lily Lolo Mineral Foundation in Porcelain (v), £13.99
An old favourite, but how much I use it depends on the state of my skin. Until recently it didn't really offer the kind of coverage I was looking for, and over winter I prefer to use liquid products because my skin is so dry. But at this time of year? Suddenly mineral products are appealing again, and for good reason. Mineral foundation is so easy to build up in light layers, and it tends to stay put really well too (I never used powder with products like this because it just feels like a bit too much, and excess oil tends to get soaked up by the foundation anyway). A sweep of this is enough to even out my skin tone and make it look like I've made an effort, even if I'm feeling lazy.

What base do you like to wear in spring? Have you tried any of these? Let me know in the comments!

3 Pretty Blushes For Spring (And They're All Under £10!)

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Pretty blushes for spring
Clockwise from left: Lily Lolo Mineral Blush in Beach Babe; elf Mineral Blush in Bliss; Sleek Powder Blush in Life's a Peach
I never really used to be bothered by blush. I seem to recall a dodgy teenage phase when I skipped it altogether, all while going heavy on the black eyeliner and clumpy mascara (no wonder so many people used to ask me if I was ill). But I was wrong to avoid it, because blush can bring a face to life in the swish of a make-up brush. My current favourites are all pretty, peachy, cruelty-free (of course!) and under £10 to boot. 

A pretty coral pink with the tiniest touch of shimmer running through it (weirdly, the Lily Lolo website says that Beach Babe is a matte shade but I swear I can see a little bit of sparkle! Maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me?) I must admit, I was wary of the shimmer at first but it's not really detectable on skin, it just creates a kind of glowy effect, and who doesn't want that? I would say that Beach Babe is probably the most long-lasting of the three products here  Lily Lolo never let me down.

(If you're vegan and fancy trying one of the mineral blushes then the shades Doll Face, Cherry Blossom, Rosebud, Juicy Peach, and Rosy Apple are all suitable.)  

elf Mineral Blush in Bliss (no longer sold but the Pressed Mineral Blush in Sweet Retreat (v), £6, looks lovely)
My go-to everyday shade, this is a little more muted than the other shades here and there's not a make-up look Bliss will look out of place with. So imagine my horror when I went on the elf website to find that they no longer sell it  what am I going to do when this runs out?! I literally don't think I could cut down on my usage because it just goes with everything, so I shall just have to enjoy it while it lasts and then mourn the loss.

Scarily orange in the pan but surprisingly subtle on cheeks, Life's a Peach was an impulse buy last summer and one I put aside once the weather got colder. But now the sun has been making the odd appearance (we've also had a lot of rain though, standard south Wales) I've been reaching for it more and more. It's a matte shade and more on the orange-y side of the peach colour spectrum, although thankfully it won't make you look like an Oompah Loompah, just very healthy. Life's a Peach is pigmented and buildable and blends out beautifully, and is everything I want from a pressed powder blush. Worth a look next time you're in Superdrug!

What are your favourite blushes? Do you swear by it, or were you wary at first like I was? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan 

6 Things That Have Helped to Clear My Acne

Monday, 18 April 2016

Products for spotty skin
I've been using prescription cream on my breakouts but Soap & Glory's Dr Spot is a pretty good substitute for when I run out!

I've considered myself an acne sufferer for just over a year now. It's shit, there's no tiptoeing around it, but having spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to deal with my spots I now have a solid idea of what can help. Admittedly a lot of it is common sense stuff that you hear all the time, but there's a reason you hear it  it works. Although it's still not perfect, my skin is in a much better state than it was this time last year, or even six months ago. I've even left the house without make-up a few times recently, which is something I never would have done before. Everyone's skin is different, of course, so you may find that something else suits you better. This isn't meant to be a 'You should do this!' post, I just thought it would be interesting to read. I believe that you should take what works for you and run with it (in skincare and in life, tbh).

1. Using spot cream prescribed by a doctor.
For months I insisted that it would be over the top to see a doctor but nothing was improving so I caved. I'm glad I did, because nightly use of my prescription cream (Duac, if anyone's wondering) has made a huge difference. I won't lie  it stings. There have been nights when it's taken me ages to fall asleep because my face just hurts. But I always see a difference the next day, especially when it comes to those horrible under-the-skin spots. Consistent application has paid off. (Cream isn't the only thing a doctor can prescribe, but it's where they tend to start.)

2. Carrying water everywhere, and drinking it at regular intervals.
I've made it a habit to carry a bottle of water with me, but actually drinking it and refilling? I haven't always been so good at that. But since I've started making the effort I've seen the change in my skin; it's not as dry or grey-looking. Unfortunately I've also noticed that I need to pee a lot more, but it's a small price to pay, I think.

3. Maintaining a gentle skincare routine.
My skin definitely favours simple products. I use Pixi Glow Mud Cleanser and Superdrug Vitamin E Day Cream in the morning, followed by an SPF. In the evening I remove my make-up with LUSH Ultrabland, use Pixi Glow Mud Cleanser for my second cleanse, apply a pad's worth of Pixi Glow Tonic, and then pat in a few drops of Pai Rosehip Oil. That's it. Nothing gimmicky, nothing too complicated, although I appreciate that some people might not find the Glow Tonic as gentle as I seem to. Skincare is so subjective, and chances are you probably have a completely different routine, but as I said before  find what works for you, and run with it.

4. Using a clean flannel every time I cleanse.
I used to use a flannel per day but since making the switch I have to say my skin has been looking a lot better (less bacteria, I presume?) I get through them ridiculously quickly now but it's not a problem  Primark sell packs of three for £1.30, so it's cheap to stock up. If you're using a treatment like Duac then I'd recommend buying lighter coloured flannels, otherwise the stains from the chemicals in the cream will show.

5. Drying my face with tissue, not a towel.
Another way to reduce the amount of bacteria that comes into contact with your face, especially if people share the hand towel in your bathroom. I always have tissues round the house, especially at this time of year (oh hello, hay fever!) but toilet roll could probably do in an emergency. I would still recommend using tissues though, because they're much softer.

6. Cutting out (most) dairy products.
I'd always wondered how much of an effect a change in diet could have on the skin, since I've heard multiple arguments for and against, but I can't believe how much this has helped. Towards the end of last year I stopped eating and drinking nearly everything that contained dairy, and my skin almost cleared up within a matter of weeks. I'm not lactose intolerant so I have a little natural Greek yogurt every morning, but aside from that I avoid dairy products the majority of the time. I do get the odd chocolate craving, which can usually be remedied by getting a sugar hit from a Nakd bar instead, and sometimes if I go out to eat I'll have a dish with cheese in, but that's it. Eventually I'd like to go completely dairy-free if I can.

Have you ever suffered from acne before? How did you treat it? Do you have any tips you'd add to this list? Let me know in the comments!

Life Lately — Finishing University

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Life has a funny way of ensuring things end before you're ready, so I've been through the saying-goodbye-too-soon thing several times before. But this one is probably the most terrifying. Education has always been an anchor in one way or another. Your days revolve around school, the academic year, exams and coursework. Then, if you want to, you move on to higher education and, if you're me, your days revolve around writing workshops, writing in the library, tutorials, assignment deadlines, and trying to have some kind of social life. You know what you're doing for the next few months, if not years... until suddenly you don't anymore.

Today I submit my last assignment, and then I'm done for good. The last time I was out of education, I was four years old. Needless to say, a lot of time has passed since then  eighteen years, in fact  and life is now very different.

I've been fretting about the future so much this year, but I've had some lovely comments from you all which have reassured me that a) I'm not alone, b) it's perfectly normal to feel like this, and c) the end of university is the beginning of something new. So rather than worry (well, I will worry, but rather than worry too much) I'm going to concentrate on the fresh start I have in front of me. How many times have you sat there and wondered what life would be life if you could start over? I certainly have, and I have that opportunity now, to a point, so the best thing for me to do is embrace it.

With that in mind, here's my new to-do list:

Job hunt/internship hunt. Perhaps the most important thing. I'm excited to get stuck in to something new (and I also don't want to move back in with my parents for too long if I can help it).

Keep blogging. Now I don't have to stress about university assignments I can pay more attention to my blog in between looking for work. I'm hoping to do a few more posts here and there, although I don't want to force anything, and I also want to get back into Twitter chats  I've missed them so much!

Update my wardrobe. I want some cute spring dresses that I could just throw on but my top half and bottom half are so different in size that there's just no point, so I've decided to look out for co-oords and separates instead. Everything I wear is very minimal and monochrome but lately I've found myself lusting after Blair Waldorf's wardrobe (well, who wouldn't?) and now I have no idea what to buy. Any recommendations? Let me know!

Graduate. I've officially registered for my ceremony and I'm so excited! It's something I never thought I'd get to do (I was adamant for the longest time that university wasn't for me, how wrong I was) so I can't wait to finally get my degree.

How did you feel when you finished university? If you're in the same position as me, are you ready to leave? Let me know in the comments!

Everyday Eyes with GOSH and theBalm

Monday, 11 April 2016

theBalm Schwing Liner

theBalm Meet Matt(e) Nude palette

GOSH Rebel Eyes Mascara

Eye make-up was always my first make-up love. It wasn't the red lipstick that I wanted to take away with me when I had my face done for ballet performances, it was the liquid liner and mascara (I wasn't so fussed about the blue and green eyeshadows). That love has only continued to this day. I think the thing I love most about mascara, liner, and eyeshadow is the versatility  there's so much you can do with it. That said, I like to have a few go-to looks up my sleeve, especially when I have somewhere to rush off to. Here are the products I've been using recently.

theBalm Schwing Black Liquid Eyeliner, £13
I'll admit, £13 is way more than I would normally pay for a liquid liner, and I did question my sanity briefly when I bought this. However, all of this went away when I tried Schwing for the first time. I am in love. Finally I've found a liquid liner that is a proper matte black and stays put. My old liner used to crumble away throughout the day but this stuff lasts, and I can't believe I ever had to live without it. The long applicator is perhaps not for everyone  you do need quite a steady hand  but I'd really recommend trying this if you're an eyeliner fiend like me. Schwing has officially earned Can't Live Without It status.

theBalm Meet Matt(e) Nude Palette, £37.49
I managed to grab this when I had a Feel Unique voucher  I got a thrill out of ordering something I would never normally spend so much money on (I'm sensing a theme here), I was curious about theBalm's eyeshadows, plus I kinda love the cheeky name. The Meet Matt(e) Nude shadows are buttery and easy to blend, but you do get a little bit of fall-out when they're in the pan; thankfully, this doesn't seem to happen when the shadows are applied to the skin. My favourite shades are Matt Abdul, a cool grey, and Matt Singh, a peachy nude (which isn't normally a colour I'd use on my eyes, but it just works).

GOSH Rebel Eyes Mascara (v), £8.99
It was about time I bought a new mascara and, as usual, I found myself seeking out a different one. GOSH's Rebel Eyes Mascara grabbed my attention and I bought it there and then. I had a good experience with the last mascara of theirs I tried, Grow Lash, so I was hoping for something similar here. In fact, I'd say that I like Rebel Eyes more. The wand is curved, which I love because it makes application that much smoother, and the bristles are plastic, separating and coating every lash. One coat creates pretty, spindly, daytime lashes, and adding more coats seriously plumps them up and gives you more of a false lash look. Yeah, I said it: false lashes. Obviously I'm talking the smaller falsies, not the enormous theatrical ones, but you can layer this mascara until you get the length and volume you're aiming for. Make no mistake: Rebel Eyes is a multi-tasker, and one I'm happy to have in my make-up bag.

Have you tried any eye make-up from GOSH or theBalm? What's your go-to daytime eye make-up look? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

New Hair, with Some Help From LUSH, Lee Stafford, and Tangle Teezer

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

LUSH Henna in Brun

Tangle Teezer

Lee Stafford Coco Loco range

I always get bored of my hair. I'll get it cut shorter, and then decide I want it long. Once it grows out, I decide it's too much of a faff and get it cut again, only to remember that the reason I was growing it out in the first place was because I get weird flicky ends when I have a lob. I'll get a fringe cut in, and then realise that the reason I've never kept a fringe for too long is because I can never be bothered to style it.

After years of going through this cycle I've finally come to the conclusion that my hair and I get along best when it's past my shoulders and fringe-less, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to do something to freshen it up a bit. I decided that a new colour and some new products would do the job.

LUSH Henna in Brun (v), £9.75 for 325g 
Back when I was sixteen I used to use the semi-permanent dyes from L'Oreal but those are out of the question now I'm cruelty-free, and to be honest the idea of slapping a load of harsh chemicals on my hair isn't as appealing as it once was (I was all about the cherry red back in the day). I wanted to give my hair a bit of life without using a synthetic dye and after reading Brianne's review of the LUSH Henna I knew I'd found what I wanted. I picked up a sample brick of the Brun shade in LUSH Cardiff and took it home with me over Easter to try out.

The instructions say to break the brick into pieces but, like Brianne, I found it much easier to grate it down before melting it in a bowl over a hot saucepan. My mum's first reaction when she smelt this was 'It smells like weed!' which is kinda true, although thankfully the essential oils in the henna make it a little more pleasant. One brick was enough for my fine, shoulder-length hair, but I imagine you'll need two if your hair is thicker and/or longer than mine.

My hairdresser applied it, putting the paste on the roots before working it down the length of my hair, and once every strand was covered I left the henna to do its thing for two hours. I'd heard that washing it out could be a bit of a faff, since it sets quite solidly, but actually it wasn't too bad; I just had to spend a bit more time in the shower than normal. Once washed and dried my hair looked pretty much the same, perhaps a little glossier and darker at the roots, and it felt softer (that's the cocoa butter working its magic). The henna is probably best if you want a subtle change rather than a dramatic one. I'd been hoping for a more noticeable results so I doubt I'll be colouring my hair on a regular basis. The results may be more obvious if your hair is lighter, though, so do pick up a sample brick if you're curious!

Lee Stafford Coco Loco Mask, £6.99 for 200ml
Lee Stafford Blow and Go Genius Lotion, £6.99 for 100ml
The mask is lovely. It has a very thick texture but it isn't too much for my fine hair, although I generally ignore the tub's suggestion to use an egg-sized amount and go for about a third of that. The Coco Loco Mask rinses out easily and leaves my hair feeling softer and I think stronger, too? I'm getting a lot less fall-out than I used to, anyway. The coconut scent is amazing and it lingers on the hair, so this is a winner for me; I'll repurchase for sure.

As for the Blow and Go Genius Lotion? I'm not quite as in love with it, but I've been enjoying using it all the same. It certainly leaves the ends of my hair smooth and smelling delicious, if hair can even smell that way, and I love that the heat protection is included because it means I don't have to use a separate spray. I just find it very difficult to get excited about products to use with heat stylers because I'm lazy! But this is certainly worth a go, and it won't weigh down fine hair if used sparingly.

Tangle Teezer, £10.99
I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and guys, I get it now. The Tangle Teezer glides through my hair without pulling, deals with knots with minimal fuss and is also much easier to clean than a regular hairbrush. I like the shape of it as well  I know some people prefer to have a handle, but I find this brush very easy to hold. To be honest I'm kicking myself for not picking up one of these sooner.

What hair products can't you live without? Have you tried any of these? Let me know in the comments!

I clicked on the LUSH website for one thing...

Monday, 4 April 2016

LUSH Dream Cream and Sugar Scrub

LUSH Square Tin and Ultrabland

... and ended up with four things in my basket instead. We've all been there.

First up: Dream Cream. My favourite body lotion of all time, but one I don't always buy because I get through it so quickly. It'd been a while since I'd used it though, and the skin on my body has been quite sore and itchy lately so it was definitely time to get my fix. Dream Cream is light, calming and it sinks in oh-so quickly, making it perfect if you're in a rush but still need something to soothe sensitive skin. You wouldn't expect something so airy to be so moisturising, but it is. I want a pot of this by my side at all times.

A new product (for me) now, and that's Sugar Scrub. Its scent is a curious mix of fresh and earthy  a contradiction perhaps, but give it a sniff instore and you'll see what I mean. I won't lie, Sugar Scrub can be a bit of a faff but once you have somewhere to store it you're fine. It's a little foamier than I would normally like but I can't deny that it sorts skin right out, smoothing away any dry flakes and softening rougher areas like elbows and knees.

To stop the scrub from disintegrating I had to grab a Square Tin. There's not much to say about this really, except that it's good for storing LUSH's naked products. It would also make an excellent container for hair grips.

Finally, Ultrabland, the love of my cleansing life. I have repurchased this so many times now; it's by far my most-used LUSH product, and indeed my most-used product full stop. A solid balm that melts down into an oil, Ultrabland removes make-up in a flash and is extra-kind to skin. Never change, Ultrabland, never change.

Have you been on any splurges recently? Have you tried any of these? Let me know in the comments!
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