29 February 2016

Hair Care Tips | New Video

I've really been getting into Youtube recently, and I hope that even a couple of you have been keeping up with my bits and bobs of videos! This week I've got a hair care tips video for you that's all about looking after long and thick hair, making sure you keep it healthy and nourished. 

These are the products I've spoken about in the video:

What are your favourites? 

27 February 2016

Review of The Body Shop's Seaweed Clay Face Mask

This is one of those frustrating posts where I've waited so long to write it because I've had some really exciting things for you that The Body Shop have completely changed the packaging on this. The plus side? The packaging is about 1000x times prettier and sleeker. 

I'm pretty face mask obsessed, and rarely a week or a LUSH haul goes by without me using one or picking one up. According to The Body Shop's web page, this seaweed face mask is designed to draw out impurities and refresh your skin: I had to give it a go and see if it was all it was cracked up to be.

I was really pleased with its efforts to reduce my pore visibility, small spots and blackheads. You leave the face mask on for 10 minutes, and during that time it (shamefully) really sunk into my blackheads and exposed them. BUT, it really made them less potent, and helped to even out my skin tone, so that my dry and oily patches weren't quite as foundation-ruining as usual. 

All in all, it's a pretty good all-rounder for combination skin, However, if you've got really sensitive skin I would advise washing it off slowly with warm water as I found getting it off irritated my skin a little. 

Have you tried it? What's your favourite face mask at the moment?

23 February 2016

M.A.C. Lipstick Haul | A New Love

I've taken the plunge that sends all beauty bloggers into a whirl of love: buying my first MAC lipstick. This was probably the most thought I've ever put into buying a product ever. For starters, at £15.50 a pop these lippies aren't the cheapest things in the world, and secondly I wanted to get my collection off to a good start with some sass-filled blogger favourites. 

Naturally I had to pick up a classic red lip, so I went for Russian Red. I would describe this shade as a bold red lip with pink undertones. This has been my go-to for days when I want to feel that little bit extra confident, or when I'm going to an event and has replaced my previous Kiko shade.

My other choice was a wild card. As I've mentioned before, I haven't fully gotten rid of my emo heritage and so a dark vampy look is something that makes me all *heart-eye emoji*. For this reason, and because ever since one of my favourite bloggers, Annie Writes Beauty had spoken about her love for it I've been lusting after it, I had to pick Sin up.

Sin has easily become my favourite shade of lipstick ever. It's a deep almost burgundy shade with hints of blue and red. It fills me with oodles of confidence and is something that everyone comments on when I wear. I think it suits my pasty pale skin to a 'T' and adds a little something sexy to a makeup look.

What are your favourite MAC lipsticks?

21 February 2016

Dealing With Weight Gain Part Two : Blogger Confidence

About a month ago I wrote this post about how I'd been dealing with my weight gain, and you guys seemed to really enjoy it, so I thought I'd talk all about how it's impacted my blogger confidence and tips on how to not let it stop you blogging if you're going through the same thing.

So, I realised that things were getting a bit bad in the weight gain department when my nine-year-old cousin informed me (kindly) that I looked like Jeff. Some context: Jeff is my chunky dwarf hamster pictured above who fills his cheeks with mountains of food and is almost an exact sphere. Brilliant, right? 

Here are some tips on how I personally have been dealing with weight gain and maintaining my confidence in blogging:

Weight gain doesn't change your skills and abilities
I have to admit, I've been a bit guilty of thinking along the lines of 'good lord, why would any one even want to hear beauty/fashion/lifestyle advice from this fat girl who clearly isn't control of things?!', but this mentality gets you nowhere. In the end, my writing skills, photography skills and blog inspiration are still there, so my weight can go suck a dick, it impacts nothing and remembering that is one of the most important things you can do.

Your selfie game is still strong
Have you seen the whole 'violently contouring my Christmas double chin' meme? That's been me recently, but on a more serious note, having a little bit of the ol' hamster cheek syndrome isn't going to mean you suddenly forget how to do your makeup. Don't be ashamed of posting your current favourite selfie to Instagram - your followers will still love it because of your makeup skills.

Do more of what makes you feel good
Don't let weight gain get you down. Why not take a day trip to the city and take gorgeous photos to write a post on? Or buy a little present from you to you and get a piece of high end makeup to write about and make you feel super sassy when you leave the house (or just let your followers know how happy you are with it with a selfie). Even if you're not happy with your weight gain this doesn't mean all other aspects of your life have to be miserable.

Don't stop yourself from taking outfit photos
Let's face it, I'm not and probably never will be a fashion blogger, but I have been thinking about taking to outfit posts recently despite my weight gain. Your followers are not going to lose interest in your blog or your fashion advice just because you've gone up one or two dress sizes. In the end, if your style is on point it's going to be so no matter what size you are. 

Be honest with yourself and your followers
If you're feeling shit don't think you have to force yourself to pretend that everything's sunny. Yes, excessive negativity is tiring, but maybe make a post about 'struggles with weight gain', start a discussion about it and get it off your chest. Keeping secrets and feeling as though you always have to be false with your following will only make you feel distanced and unhappy.

I hope you found these useful! What would you add?

18 February 2016

Top 5 Anti-Anxiety Beauty Products | Nourish Yourself

If you spoke to me two or three years ago and said I'd be blogging about beauty products all the time I probably would have laughed in your face. For starters, I was mid emo 'phase' (or a lifestyle?! Haha) and secondly I had little interest in the world of makeup or beauty goodies. 

However, I've come to realise that beauty products and beauty routines have an extreme impact on my mental well-being. Using them means I take a little bit of time out for myself and makes me feel confident in my own skin as well as when I go out. 

If I've taken the time to get my eyeliner on fleek and rid myself of spots from a decent face wash I'm going to be far more happy when I venture into the big wide world, and far less likely to cower from social contact in a corner. I would argue that the world of beauty is not shallow - I haven't improved all of my beauty regimes because I want to look 'hot in da club' (grim), but because I want to feel happy, and that's what this helps me to do.

Lush bath bombs (this is my favourite)
 Having an evening bath and then putting fresh PJs on is one of my favourite special treats to indulge myself in. Sometimes a mug of vegan hot chocolate or a cheeky glass of wine features, but mostly it's me, a  book, and the delicious scents of LUSH chilling me out after a long hard day.

Avalon Organics Nourishing Lavender Shampoo*
 This has made its way to the top of my list of favourite shampoos EVER. Not only is it vegan, cruelty free, organic and sodium laureth sulfate free, but it smells SO GOOD. Massaging lavender shampoo into my hair makes me feel totally zen in the mornings, and makes your pillow smell beaut if you do it just before bed. 

Sure Maximum Protection Confidence Deodorant
This may seem a little random on a beauty list, but hey it counts. A good deodorant makes a mountain of difference if you're shy or get anxious at social events. Being aware of your own bodily scent is pretty nasty, and will usually make you feel more anxious and sweat more in a vicious cycle. This is one of the few deodorants that I actually swear by.

Champneys Heavenly Days Sleep Temple Balm 
I've actually got a whole blog post on my favourite Champneys goodies, including this, which you can check out here. This one totally helps me to get off to sleep in the evening, which is when my anxiety kicks in the worst.

Dr Organic Tea Tree Facial Wash
Spots really get me down, especially as they always seem to be so central to my face (like seriously now skin, an we stop having ones in the middle of my chin and nose?!). But, this face wash is completely devoid of nasties and is perfect at making sure my combination skin goes spot free. A word of warning with this one: it is a little  drying, so if you've got dry skin this isn't the one for you.

What are your go-to anti-anxiety beauty products?

16 February 2016

Blair Waldorf Inspired Makeup Look | This Week's Vlog

Gossip Girl was pretty much my Netflix bae in Autumn and I was heartbroken when I finally binge-watched every episode. Seriously though, it left a teensy void in my life. So, as Blair Waldorf is a bit of an inspiration for any girl that wants their own Chuck Bass whilst maintaining their independence, I thought I'd do a quick make-up tutorial of what I think is her iconic look. 

Let me know what you think!

13 February 2016

LUSH Valentines Haul | A Little Pamper Time

You guys are all probably a bit sick of reading LUSH valentines post from pretty much every blogger ever, but it's pretty much the only valentines tradition I get involved in. Yes, me and my boyfriend like to spend the day together and get cute cards, but we don't tend to buy in to the expensive meals, outfits and presents game. 

So, to 'celebrate', I've been having a little pamper this weekend. I'm not the greatest bath fan - I usually get in and sit there for about two minutes before my anxiety kicks in and I end up all 'OH MY GOD I NEED TO BE DOING THINGS, NOT WASTING MY TIME LYING IN A POOL OF MY OWN DIRT' and it turns out to be totally unrelaxing and I end up feeling worse than when I got in.

BUT, I've had a revolutionary weekend! Last night I got my elderflower and prosecco tealights (which you can read more about in my recent home ware post) and placed them all around my bathroom. Then I added some fresh PJs, my fluffy dressing gown (far, far away from the flames - that thing is like my baby) and my LUSH unicorn horn bubble bar. This is the favourite of so many bloggers and now I see why. It smells of lavender, which is so relaxing, and is rainbowy coloured and totally turns your bath pink. Like, what more could you want?

Despite the unicorn horn being so beautiful, it wasn't my favourite product that I picked up. This award has to go to the lover lamp bath bomb, which is the best bath bomb I've ever used! It smells of vanilla and oranges, which made me feel totally sweet and fresh, whilst the soap hearts it released made it the perfect Valentines treat.

Sex bomb isn't strictly part of LUSH's valentines range, but hey, a lot of us like a little extra treat on Valentines day *cue wink emoji*. This contains Jasmine oil, which is an aphrodisiac and made the pretty deep pink bath colour you can see in the water picture above.

Prince Charming and Roses All the Way are all about making your skin feel a little bit better on a daily basis. I was actually a bit disappointed with the shower gel - I expected something sweet and maybe floral for Valentines day but instead was hit with a waft of grapefruit which totally jarred with my colour prejudice for this deep pink gel. However, I think the roses soap totally made up for that. As well as being super softening, it also smells like, you guessed it, roses, but without being too overpowering.

Finally we have the kiss lip scrub. I'm a big fan of the mint julips one (which totally has NOTHING to do with the fact that it tastes like after eights, nothing!), but this may have topped it. The little edible hearts in the scrub make it such a cute addition to any Valentines collection, and LUSH lip scrubs are amazing for softening your lips.

Have you picked anything up? What's your favourite from the collection? 

9 February 2016

New Look Homeware Haul | Latest Blog Props

If you've been catching up with my latest stationary post, you'll know that I've been on the hunt for some pretty blog props for Instagram posts and to improve my blogging photo game. To my joy I've discovered New Look's home range amongst the depths of my local store. I was pretty much Aladdin in the Cave of Wonders, gazing around at all the beautiful treasure surrounding me.
So, after a lengthy decision making time (much to the despair of my boyfriend who was so done with being forced to sniff every candle in the store), and a realisation that my budget didn't stretch to buy everything that smelled or looked pretty, these were what I settled on as necessary to improving my life, obvs:
Prosecco and elder flower tealights
These smell INSANE. I'm a bit of a candle addict, and my house is a bit of a Yankee candle/pretty tealight treasure trove, but this is possibly the best smelling candle I've ever come across. And that includes candy cane AND vanilla cupcake ones. Elder flower and prosecco are some of my favourite things anyway, and this combination is subtle, floral and a little sweet. I cannot get enough!
Butterfly Lantern
What use are tealights without a pretty holder? This is such an awesome blog prop, and fits perfectly in the back of my white-themed Instagram photos.
Mini Poster Pack
I have spent SO long trying to find these on their website to no avail (literally tried everything, kill me). Inspirational posters are something I really need to keep me motivated at the moment, and I can't wait to use these in a college over my actual desk when I move house in June *squeals*. 
Pure Colour Blue Hairbrush (similar here)
Okay so this isn't exactly home ware, but I bought it in my home ware haul and I'm far too excited about it to leave it out of this post. I've been debating about getting a tangle teaser for SO LONG, but they always seem overpriced for basically a handle-less hairbrush. This one was really affordable and pretty - I haven't turned back since buying it and there'll be a whole post about why I've fallen in love with it soon!
Have you bought anything from their home ware section recently?

7 February 2016

Current Stationary Crush | That Lame Company

Blog props are beginning to take a more and more important hold upon my life (and flatlay goals), so I've been on the hunt for some pretty stationary and home decor items. I'm also a big believer in helping out "the little people" - supporting independent UK-based businesses with goals I can really get behind. This is where That Lame Company comes in. Run by Chloe and Charlie, a pair of recent graduates, they have a whole host of phone cases and pretty stationary, some of which is made from recycled materials.
I picked up some motivational stationary - I really need to get my act together at the moment and having these around me, especially when I'm creating blog post and Instagram photos is a fab way to get motivated. I picked up the Great Ideas Notebook to jot down my freelance articles in, and the Do More Art Print to remind me of why I recently quit my job to go freelance and improve my blogging. 
An added bonus was the awesome set of Incentive Art Prints which I got sent for free with my order (yay!). They remind me on a daily basis that #pugstagram is not a hashtag I should be searching on a daily basis and tweeting is not always productive! 
What stationary are you lusting over at the moment?

4 February 2016

Cancer Survival and its Impact upon Mental Health

When I first considered writing this post I didnt realise how upsetting it would turn out to be. Today is World Cancer Day as well as #timetotalk day 2016, so I thought me and my younger sister Sophie could collaborate on a post all about just how linked these two events are for her. When I was 10 and Sophie just 8, she was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewings Sarcoma which had developed in her right femur. Thankfully she was diagnosed fairly early on in the cancers development, so chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumour prior to an operation to remove it and the bone it was attached to was possible. Six months of intensive chemotherapy was a pretty gruelling process for her, and involved a massive loss of weight and hair. However, the operation to remove the bone and tumour, replacing them with a titanium implant was even more painful. After this, some intensive physiotherapy, and another set of chemo, she was finally given the all clear and entered remission.

Another couple of years down the line, and another life-changing surgery was about to happen. This time Sophie had chosen it herself, as she wanted to improve her quality of life. The metal implant in her right leg could only be extended so far, and as her left leg grew during adolescence, a gap between their lengths began to emerge. Not only did this mean that her hips were unaligned (leading to spinal pain), but she also had to have her right shoe built up, meaning that she could only wear specific types of shoes, and only have a couple of new pairs per year. So, she embarked upon her journey with the Illazrov frame, which would involve breaking her leg and stretching it slightly over months so that the bone grew back longer, into the gap that was created. Finally it was all over physically, apart from the seemingly never-ending oncology check-ups and the constant gnawing pain of having a metal implant instead of bone in her leg. But today were going to talk about some of the mental health side effects that these horrendous few years in her life has had upon her.

Q1.) Do you remember how you felt when you were first diagnosed? DO you think there could have been more mental health assistance during this time for both you and your family?

I felt a range of strong emotions, including intense fear, bewilderment, guilt and sadness. I then sank into a feeling of numbness and denial.
I feel that my family could have received more support. Because I was so young at the time, I wasnt aware of my own mental health problems (as I lived in such a state of denial I thought I was dealing with it well), however I know that my family struggled very much at the time and would have accepted help had it have been offered to them as individuals. Especially Steph who was often overlooked as she was also so young; her struggles weren't taken seriously. 

Q2.) In what ways do you think this could have been handled better? What would you recommend for parents who are going through this experience with their child?

I believe it is in fact now being handled better, as I have met the daughter and mother of a family coping with the daughters cancer diagnosis and there are many more charities now offering peer-help schemes and specialised nurses are now allowed to recommend specific charities that can help with their needs. It is difficult for medical staff to know how to handle such cases better, because each cancer journey is unique, and each child reacts differently to the same treatment.

I would recommend utilising all the services now available to families coping with a cancer diagnosis. I would also read blogs such as this, and talk to other parents who have experienced the same or a similar diagnosis as your cchild in order to gain first-hand knowledge and opinions of what worked and didnt in terms of helping their child to understand what is happening and how to cope. Also, depending on the age of the child, they must be treated with the understanding that this is not their fault. I remember being told off for not doing my physiotherapy, and feeling like no one understood that I didnt ask for any of this, and that other children didnt have to even contemplate these things. Positive reinforcement is a lot more powerful than negative, even if results do not come quite as quickly.

Q3: What was the emotional and psychological impact of the treatment for the cancer itself?

Initially, my method of coping was to not cope. This sounds ridiculous but is actually a legitimate, and very common, way of dealing with trauma. I lived in a sort of pretend state where I was ok, and pretended that my diagnosis hadnt happened when I laid in bed at night. Apart from this, I felt terrified of treatment as most visits involved an intrusive procedure of some kind. And alone. I felt awfully lonely throughout treatment, which was obviously not helped by my age and the rarity of my cancer.

Q4: In what way did your all-clear diagnosis impact your mental health? Was it a positive time for you, or much more complex than that?

It was very surreal. My real emotions were polar-opposite to what everyone wanted me to feel, so I began pretending to be happy. It was like everyones mood changed suddenly and left me behind. I became a cancer survivor rather than a cancer patient, and people stopped treating me specially and treated me more like a normal person again. I didnt really understand how people could forget the horror of my treatment and start calling me lucky instead. It was a difficult time for me, mainly due to the fact that I couldnt tell anyone how I felt.

Q5.) Physiotherapy can be incredibly challenging physically as well as mentally, are there any tips or tricks you found useful when you were going through this aspect of treatment?

As I was a child, I responded well to turning exercises into games and positive reinforcement. When people became frustrated with my lack of effort in physiotherapy, I began to dread it and stopped finding any enjoyment in activity whatsoever. This changed later on as I matured, but the initial physiotherapy has such an impact on later stages that I feel it should be given a higher level of importance in the treatment process.

Q6.) Did you experience Survivors guilt? How would you explain it?

I felt this for a long time. I have recently started to experience it less, but lived with it for about a decade. I would explain it as having an overwhelming need to change the world with the extra time you have, but being held back by emotional/physical restraints. Its a deep feeling that you must have lived for an amazingly great reason, and I still find myself searching for this. Its both a blessing and a curse, because it does motivate me, but with a hefty emotional cost when the impossible still remains impossible.

Q7.) Have you ever felt guilty for having your illness in the first place? How do you think it affected you?

I felt guilty about it for a very long time, mainly about the impact it had on my family.  I think this was linked to my Catholic upbringing, where I was taught that if I did bad things I would be punished, and rewarded for good things. I also had very strong feelings of self-guilt because I wished for my life to be more interesting just before I was diagnosed.

Q8.) What advice would you give to those experiencing any form of guilt during or after treatment?

- It is important to remember that other people dont have to go through this.
- You are strong and brave and have overcome the impossible. Be proud of that.
- Talk about it, because saying things out loud will make you realise how absurd it would sound from someone else. You can say it out loud to yourself, talk about it with others, or write your guilty feelings out on a piece of paper, maybe even on a blog.

Q9.) How would you like to see the approach to mental health after diagnosis and after treatment change?

It has already changed greatly from 2005, which was when I was treated, and has come far in respect to mental health. I would however like to see cancer survivors receive more help now, regardless of when they were treated. I think what we really need is to spread awareness of these issues to the general public, as I have found that medical professionals now have a greater understanding of such problems, and have help available to those who seek it. The issue is in helping people to seek it. In order to let survivors understand that their feelings are common and that they should not just be absorbed as a normal part of their day, we need greater knowledge for mothers, friends and peers to widen this discussion and normalise these conversations about the mental impact of survivorship. 

I hope you found this useful!