Thursday, 12 April 2018

The Sorry State of Blogging

Have you ever started something, like a new hobby/friendship/TV series/pack of biscuits and you honestly feel at that point that you never want it to end? And indeed you'll work hard to make sure it never does. But what if, despite all your very best efforts, throwing everything you've got at it, it just doesn't pan out the way you had hoped for and then you find yourself drifting away, feeling a bit let down and disappointed.

Well that's been me for a little while now with the whole blogging lark. I know when it happened - some of you may or may not know that I used to write for another beauty blog, a big UK one. I was one of a group of contributors and I was really proud to be part of this group. We didn't get paid but did get to keep any items we wrote about, a bit like what happens now with my own little blog. And I really enjoyed this because I had felt that this other site would give me exposure to a wider audience and earn me the respect of the blogger who fronts this blog. It didn't and my dreams of maybe one day being able to write for this other site as a full time blogger came to an abrupt end when all the contributors were dropped. It was disappointing.

But I decided to throw all my time and writing effort into my own blog, which I did and decided to challenge myself to post 24 days in December. And I did it, but I don't know, maybe because everyone is busy in December but the number of readers I got to these Christmas Beauty Advent posts was really low. And it left me feeling despondent and I lost my enthusiasm for blogging. This was also coupled with the six month long winter we had in the UK and the complete lack of any decent light to take photos! I stopped buying things just so I could write about them. In the last few weeks I've also read from lots of bloggers - full time ones and small hobby ones like me, who too were feeling generally fed up with the whole blogging world and that all their time and efforts were just not receiving the readership they had previously been used to.

I know myself my consumption of content has changed - I very rarely buy magazines anymore and when I do I literally flick through looking at the images and I never read any of the words, apart from where I can buy an item and how much it is! Even my obsession with watching Youtube has gone. I used to look forward to Sundays when the majority of the Youtubers I subscribe to upload new content. Not any more.

Instagram, the only social media platform that really interests me, has lost its appeal. Not only for people like me that like to promote new blog posts and images that I think might interest and appeal to my very few followers but as a non blogger, it irritates the hell out of me that I'm not seeing posts on my timeline in chronological order. What is the point in seeing a post from a brand or someone alerting you to a new in product but to then realise you're seeing this post for the first time when it is already two days old, and said item is now sold out?!

We all (myself included) seem to have suddenly turned in to quick fire content consumers. No one wants to read anymore, we want information in quick short bursts, which is why Instagram Stories has become the most popular platform. But it's crazy isn't it because I for one can spend hours scrolling on my phone looking for these short bursts of information. And it frazzles your brain doesn't it. Who else has spent that half hour before going to sleep just scrolling only to then find when you want to sleep, your brain is too switched on and reeling from all the images you've just bombarded it with. If I halved the time I spend mindlessly scrolling and actually reading an article, blog post or book I would surely be consuming a more in depth level of content and useful, quality information. I'd get a real time spent review of a product, rather than just the quick packaging shot I currently am? I mean great if it looks pretty but does it actually work??

So for the here and now I'm back on it. This is my hobby, not my job, so I can afford the blog a little down time, while I hopefully refresh. And if now and then you want to dip in and read about what moisturiser or foundation I'm using or where I've been on holiday and what I've bought myself to wear and what I think you might like too ... please be my guest.

And to tempt you, these are some of the posts which will be coming up..

  • Just 5 things to refresh your summer wardrobe
  • What's in my case for 3 days in Dubai
  • Treat yourself to an in-flight spa
  • Hiking. The beginner's guide.
  • My 1st spray tan experience

Let's go back to the old school, let's get back to properly taking the time out to digest what we're reading, and I will continue to give you my absolute honest opinion on everything I write about here. And hopefully we can all get back to enjoying some time well spent with a cup of tea, a couple of biscuits and a good read.

xx
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Saturday, 31 March 2018

I hit pan (empties worth a re-purchase?) #6

2018 will forever be known as the year that I decided to use up all my minis, samples and half started beauty products. I started this year with a determined resolution not to waste things and not to buy new things until I've used up all the old things. If you're anything like me, getting to the end of a tube or pot and having to really work for the remaining dregs of product is pretty grim and so, in the past, I used to tell myself it was time to chuck it out before getting to the bottom and buy a nice fresh new product. But actually if you go to the lengths of cutting open a tube or using an ear bud to scoop out those last remaining bits of cream, the sense of satisfaction that you get from properly finishing a beauty product gives a real sense of satisfaction and guilt free swagger when you waltz in to Boots to buy new goodies.

So in this vain, here are the bits and pieces that I've scooped and scrapped the living daylights out of!
Make Up
Mac Mineralize SkinFinish (shade-Medium Golden)
This face powder is not only my most favourite product from Mac but the best powder ever invented. It de-shines, it blurs, it perfects, it smooths. I've been re-purchasing this powder for 10 years now, and won't be stopping. (Although that's a lie as I am currently using up another powder I have!).
L'Oreal Paradise Extatic Mascara
I loved this mascara when I first applied it. I actually gasped at the length it gave my lashes. And then it dried out. Really quickly. I was then left with a very clumpy, dried out mascara to work with. and it smudged like a bitch. Such a shame because like I say the first few uses, I was blown away. I would maybe re-purchase just to see if I had a dud previously.
Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara
So after the above experience, I ran back to my old faithful favourite. But I've moved on and actually I no longer like the curved brush. I still like the mascara itself but I wish there was a straight brush. 
Rimmel Match Perfection Concealer & Highlighter (shade 040 soft beige)
I really like this for under eyes. It comes with a built in brush which is perfectly serviceable and saves on a brush. I would re-purchase and would also try the foundation which is supposed to be really good as well.
Skincare 
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant
My number one hero product. I always rave about this. It's the ONLY product which sorts out my dry lips and hands, especially with the beast from the east temperatures we have had of late.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid
I really liked this easy to use serum so ordered another bottle when this one was used up but I have to say the new one feels a bit different, a bit sticky and takes a bit longer to sink in but it's still probably the most affordable Hyaluronic serum out there so...
The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
No. I just didn't like this moisturiser - it's texture or the way it felt to apply and how it left my skin feeling quite dry, and I have very combination skin.
The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid
This retinoid formula is no longer made by The Ordinary and the one I have bought to replace it isn't as nice. This original one sank in quickly and I felt really made a difference. The new formula I have is quite oily, takes an age to sink in and I just don't feel it's bringing anything to the table.
Ren T Zone Control Cleansing Gel
This sample size was in my ASOS beauty advent calendar and I really enjoyed using it as my morning cleanser. Smells lovely, very spa like and left my skin feeling really cleansed.
IS Clinical Active Serum*
I'm not sure what this is supposed to do and I can't say it made a jot of difference to the texture or appearance of my skin but what I can tell you is this smells so strongly of .. umm.. like a chemical or something smell. I can't place the fragrance but I don't like it and it's offputting. 
Kiehl's Precision Lifting & Pore Tightening Concentrate*
I mostly used this lovely cream around my jawline and I really think there was an improvement and, dare I say it, a lessening of the slackening. I really rate Kiehl's products, although they are fairly pricey, I think they are worth it.
Fragrance
Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder
Summer holidays in a bottle. What more could you want. Perfumes don't excite me but this one did and I feel might become a annual pre holiday/at duty free treat.
Nude by Jasper Conran*
A combination of sweet and subtly musky scent. Really nice.
Hair
CoLab Dry Shampoos
I have tried a few different brands of dry shampoo but none of them are as good, in my opinion, as CoLab. Absolutely no white residue left behind, gorgeous scents, fun bottle designs and affordable. I won't be without this for no hair wash days.
John Frieda Frizz Ease Miraculous Shampoo
and the conditioner are so good. They do ease frizz, they will leave your hair soft, smooth, smelling delicious and have really helped with my usual winter static.
Body
Garnier Ultimate Blends Hydrating Body Lotion
It's shallow but I wish the packaging was more fun/cool/interesting because the cream inside is thick, rich and really does hydrate parched skin.
Korres shower gel
Another mini from the ASOS advent. I didn't like this, but only because the scent for me was too sweet. Imagine a bag of melted tootie fruities - like that.
Twin Lotus Active Charcoal toothpaste*
This whitening toothpaste definitely did help to remove stains and brighten teeth but my god does it cause a mess in your sink. I don't mean any staining of the black paste on your sink, it just requires a wash around before you can move on.

Right I'm off to see if I can actually put any of these bits in the recycling box!
xx
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Thursday, 22 March 2018

Zara Special Prices Top Picks

Everyone knows that Zara in store is a shocking experience - two miserable looking sales assistants manning the changing rooms, who will not acknowledge you as you politely tell them you have four items. And then a queue for the tills (with only ever one even more moody and stressed out looking sales assistant "serving") that wraps around the store at least twice. And don't even get me started on the state of the shop floor at sale time!!

However, Zara online is a delight. The website is really nice although I always use the app, which is clear and easy to navigate. Ordering is quick, delivery fast and returns and refunds also pretty speedy and no hassle.

I'm sure you know about the "special prices" section on the app/website and it's this area I check out for some pretty good bargains. Granted sometimes the quality of items and sizing is not great but generally it's good value for money.

The animal dress (above) I ordered was only £19.99. I wanted to try a maxi dress and the two side splits make this less frumpy. It's a silky material so hangs nicely and stays uncreased. 
This shorter easy to wear shift style dress is called a rubberised dress on the website. Don't let that put you off, it's not made of rubber! And is also only £19.99. I bought this for holidays and probably even work, on warmer days.

Some picks that I've also added to my wish list from the special prices section are:
Red jacquard dress £9.99. I did order this but sent it back as it was too big. If you're interested size down and be brave as the sleeves are puffier in real life! 
Faux suede biker jacket £25.99. I love this jacket which will look divine in spring worn with a plain white tshirt and jeans. 
This eye catching and on trend striped cotton dress at only £17.99 is a great casual alternative to wearing jeans and would look great worn with trainers or ankle boots.
Also available in black (which I've ordered=go 1or 2 sizes up!) this Chanel-esque style jacket will take jeans and a plain top to another level. Also great instead of a heavier coat for when the weather warms up. And only £25.99.

Why not give yourself a nicer Zara experience and check out their special prices, online.

xx
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Thursday, 15 March 2018

Current Favourites

Not going to lie - I missed February's favourites. It's too early for March's so I'm calling this.. current favourites!

There are three items from Mac, and the reason for this is two of the items were in a recent Beauty Box I ordered from Mac, which was jam packed with all sorts of fab bits from all the different Estee Lauder brands. I didn't post about the box because as soon as I received it, it had sold out but if you see one again, it's such a good buy.
So from the house of Mac, my current favourites are:

Mac Falsh Lashes Extreme Black Mascara
This full size mascara came in the beauty box and what I really like about it is that it doesn't smudge off. I had been using a Laura Geller mini mascara on my bottom lashes because of the small brush but man alive did it smudge. And I only realised after I had got home from an important meeting, where I met several people and talked to at length, with my smudged under eyes! I also really like the brush of this Mac mascara, which helps to lengthen lashes.

Mac Prep + Prime Natural Radiance Illuminating Base
I actually bought the full size of this yellow based primer a few years ago and I really liked it but for some reason moved on to various other primers. And then I had my primer sabbatical, where I just didn't feel that applying that extra layer was adding any value. But I recently noticed that the pores and shine on my nose, chin and forehead were really showing up and through my foundation, so getting this mini in the beauty box was great timing. It gives a lovely bright, smooth base and I honestly feel my make up on top looks so much better. It doesn't stop my shine but it certainly reduces it and blurs my massive pores.

Mac Cream Colour Base in Hush
There are lots of things I will always recommend from Mac, items I will never ever be without and this cream highlighter is in my top two! (Number one will be in my upcoming Empties post).
If you want to add a subtle yet effective and beautiful highlight without looking like a beaming, shining lighthouse - this is it. The cream is so easy to apply, I use two fingers to pop on to the top of my cheeks and then just pat to blend in. I cannot recommend this enough. It is glorious.
Nude by Nature Natural Glow Loose Bronzer
I have featured this before, it came in my ASOS Beauty Advent calendar and I might have featured it in a recent favourites before. But it deserves another shout out. I almost can't wait to use this mini pot up so I can buy the full size. This is a foolproof bronzer which contours at the same time. The shade of the bronzer gives warmth but at the same time the deep shadow a true contour should give you. I love this.
Cadbury Mini Daim Eggs
I love this time of the year - easter eggs everywhere. Of course I love me a bag of Mini Eggs but these chocolate Daim eggs are beyond yummy, moreish, delicious. I've eaten three just typing this.
Victoria's Secret Pink Body Mist
I'm not overly in to perfume but it's nice to smell nice. This body mist may be aimed at the teens but I really like the fresh apple and lily scent which is light, clean and fresh. The plastic bottle is a great size to chuck in your bag as well.

M&S Relax Sleep Mist
This little bottle of lavendar, mint and sandalwood was in a Christmas gift set so I'm not sure if M&S do it normally. I started using this when I had the flu at Christmas to try and help me sleep. It did and so I've continued to spritz this on to my pillows just before bed every night. To be fair I've never struggled with sleep but this is such a nice and relaxing scent that freshens your bed linen, I'll definitely be getting another sleep mist when this runs out.

Tiger Balm
I've got a poorly left foot from the hiking training I've been doing (and probably the cheap boots I'm currently wearing!). I am addressing this but in the meantime the Mother ship (my Mum) forced me to take one of her pots of Tiger Balm to rub on to the top of my foot. I mocked her, I humoured her by taking it. But it really works. I suppose it's just like rubbing an ibuprofen gel on but I just like the retro thai labelling and it's helping my foot so much, so the Mother ship might just be right! 

The Greatest Showman
I went and saw this film on Mother's Day and I am well aware I am probably one of the last people to see it. Oh my god, this film, is the most amazing, heart fulfilling thing I have ever seen. Of course I've downloaded the soundtrack and I cannot wait for the film to come out on DVD. If you haven't seen it and you're feeling a bit meh about life - go and see this film!

xx

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Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Less than ordinary?

The launch of skincare range The Ordinary in 2016 was met by such anticipation and excitment and very, very long waiting lists. I for one loved the super affordable price points and access to high end, results driven skincare ingredients.

Using serums, acids and oils from the range made me feel like a skincare expert and scientist all in one. Indeed it was The Ordinary that introduced me to facial acids and Retinoid, both of which are very much a staple part of my skincare routine and I will often be heard banging on about the importance of Hyaluronic and Glycolic acid to help with ensuring your skin is in its very best condition.

If you love your skincare and have been using and following the story of The Ordinary from Deciem, you may have read some very concerning stories about the founder, Brandon Truaxe in the last couple of weeks. It seems that Truaxe has fallen out and dismissed some of his senior management staff, with no real explanation and there have also been some strange ramblings by Brandon on Instagram - he has recently taken over control of the account. I have seen comments that people are concerned about his mental wellbeing. 

To be honest I don't take much notice of gossip/Twitter or the occasional bitching that seems to go about in the blogging community. However, when I received a general email yesterday from Victoria Health saying they were no longer stocking any Deciem products, so not just The Ordinary but all the other brands under the Deciem umbrella, I knew something was really up.

Victoria Health is a brilliant website, with really good customer service and speedy delivery and from the very beginning they have championed and flown the flag for The Ordinary, so for them to put this email out shows that there is something more going on here.

I have read comments (glassdoor.co.uk) that the Deciem founder has been accused of bullying staff, belittling them and disregarding female staff. All this is really bad and for a main supplier like Victoria Health to stop stocking their products, there must have been a significant reason why?

As well as Victoria Health, social media and many influencers were (I believe) the main reason for the huge and very quick rise to fame for The Ordinary. We were all singing its praises and because the products were so cheap, who really cared if they worked or not? But I have to say a lot of the products I've tried, and there has been a lot, have been nice and pleasant to use. Did they make a difference to my skin? Definitely some did (notably the AHA Peeling solution and Rose Hip Seed Oil).

Would I continue to use The Ordinary?
Well this is difficult because for me, even if they made the most amazing skincare product, if it is true and the founder bullies and mistreats staff, then NO I will not continue to support a brand that appears to have got completely above its station/too big for its boots and is basically acting like a downright knob.

If Brandon Truaxe is under extreme stress and pressure and in the middle of a very public breakdown, then someone please intervene and get that man some trained help and support. 

Influencers put The Ordinary where it is today and whilst I don't for one second call myself and my little blog influential, I am a customer and we have power in our purses!

xx
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Wednesday, 28 February 2018

New in my beauty bag

It's been a while and I'm sorry for that. I've been cheating on my blog with a new love.. hiking. It's taken over my every waking thought, budget and energy. But as the "beast from the east" storms in, it has meant I can get back to telling you about some of the beauty bits I've discovered recently.
NYX Cosmic Metals eye shadow palette - Boots £8.00

This cute affordable powder palette was too eye catching to walk past. All the shades have a metallic sheen through them which when applied in layers gives a rich foiled look. The powders are pigmented and one layer will give a subtle sheen to the eye lid. All the colour shades are versatile and very wearable.
Swatches of the top row:
Swatches of the bottom row:

Living Nature Firming Flax Serum* - £33 for 13ml
This lovely oil free serum, which you use in the morning and evening before your moisturiser, contains harakeke (a New Zealand flax plant and hero ingredient), rosehip oil and manuka honey and helps to hydrate and smooth and soften fine lines.
Formulated to maximise the healing and renewal process of our skin whilst we sleep, including increased synthesis of Hyaluronic Acid.  Produced naturally by skin and providing it with firmness and protection against moisture loss, Hyaluronic Acid production slows as we age, leaving skin thinner and more prone to damage.  The beauty of Firming Flax Serum is that it promotes the production of Hyaluronic Acid, resulting in improved cell hydration and skin repair, especially the damage caused by free radicals, moisture loss and UV rays. 
Kiko Lip me lots PH lip enhancer - £3.40
I bought this lipstick by mistake and had meant to pick up a glittery lipgloss but nevertheless I like this and had been meaning to try one of these PH lipsticks. This reacts with the PH of your lips when applied and will change to a colour personalised just for you. 
On me this comes out as a nudey pink.
The texture glides on and feels comfortable on the lips, almost like a lip balm.
Primark Nude eye creams - £2.00

I read British Beauty Blogger's review on these and grabbed these two when I was in store. The pot on the left is a matte cream in the shade Viva Las Vegas. It does go a slightly purple tone on my eyelids which isn't offensive and I know that's my eye lids but I wish it wouldn't. The texture is really nice and does smooth out the lids, so would be great used as a base/eye primer. The review I read was right in that the pot is a bit annoying because the neck is too long and so you can't easily dip your finger in but I just use a brush.
The pot on the right is a metallic cream in Enchanted. This is a very subtle cream coloured shade which when layered up has a nice daytime sparkle. And the price of these are insane. You just can't not.

xx



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Wednesday, 21 February 2018

I have this thing for lighting..

I've always liked an unusual or quirky light fitting. You would never catch my home with a bare bulb and no shade fitting. Even the day after a move! A naked bulb to me or indeed an ugly lamp shade surrounding it, is just so sad. Why would you neglect your lighting? It can brighten and lift a room, add a level of coziness that no candle can and most importantly give you lighting in all the right areas.

You can have table lamps next to the seat you use for reading. You can have lighting directed at a lovely picture or piece of artwork or even a lamp on a timer for security and so you don't come home to a dark home.

I do sometimes feel that ceiling lights can often be forgotten about. Switching on the "big light" for me is a rare occasion, unless I'm looking for something or need to figure out how to operate the DVD player but my eyes often drift up to the ceiling light and I want to like what I look up to.

I've taken a few pics of my ceiling light fittings and because they are all quite old now, I've tried to find some similar versions that are available now.
I do feel that you can be more adventurous with the decor and lighting in a downstairs loo. This colourful chandelier was given to me by my brother in law. I've always loved chandeliers and this jewel coloured version really brightens up what is a small and dark room (although it's my favourite room!). Bear in mind I am 5ft 4, so I can happily walk under this without getting my hair caught but anyone taller would.

Wayfair.co.uk have a very similar one for £40.99
I never owned one of those round paper lantern shades but I do like the concept of paper shades. And whilst this isn't paper, it's plastic, it does give off that origami vibe. I can't remember where I bought this but there are similar out there. 
 This is the shade with the light on. 
This is another plastic origami style light.
BHS are still going online and their lighting selection is stunning. This shade is £28.00.
And this very simple but cute paper shade was from Dunelm (few years ago though).
This cut out shade from Dunelm is £15.00.
In my kitchen I didn't want the standard strip of spotlights, and due to non height restrictions I have this huge shade with chandelier arms inside. It does need replacing after a tall person walked in to it and knocked the fitting off the ceiling but it's had a good run.

Over my small dining table I do have a standard shade but with a pattern on the inside which creates a really nice look when the light is on.

A fairly similar one also from Dunelm £12.00
And in the living room, as I tend to be sat down a lot, I recently bought these gold coloured lined shades from Asda. The black shade with the gold inner gives a dramatic feel to the room and I like seeing the coloured lining rather than just the back of a shade.
This stunning lamp from Graham & Green is an eye watering £289.00 but it's a definite statement light. The rest of their lighting range is really quirky and eye catching.
I hope my lights have given you a bit of inspo. Lamp shades shouldn't be overlooked, look up and like what you see.

xx








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