29 March 2018

March Playlist

It's been a while since I've talked music around these parts - last October in fact. The year started with me wanting to discover some new artists and I think it's safe to say I've done just that in the last few months, with a little help from some very cool people and their recommendations. This month I fell a little bit in love with Rex Orange County - thanks to Liv - with his distinctive, unique style and wonderful lyrics. I think this music video might be my favourite thing ever at the moment. I'm also thoroughly enjoying Alvvays, a band Tenneil recommended a while back. They have a slight 90s vibe about them with some very infectious, upbeat choruses. Safe to say their album Antisocialities has been on repeat. As always I've been hitting play on some cheesy 80s music, but also 80s-influenced - with serious Prince vibes - à la Janelle Monae and her song Make Me Feel. Mixed in with the upbeat, a few melancholy songs thanks to the likes of Beach House and Kane Strang. My love for Beach House's album Depression Cherry has extended to their new singles, Lemon Glow and Dive. I have very fond memories of listening to them while walking home on cold autumn evenings last year. Here's my March playlist...



24 March 2018

Beauty Haul and First Impressions

Sometimes I get such a good kick out of spontaneously picking up a handful products to try that I've heard absolutely nothing about. For whatever reason, I had a few weak moments this month and indulged in some serious retail therapy. However, most of these products are really affordable meaning my bank account didn't necessarily take too much of a hit. Today I thought I'd throw together a good old fashioned haul post and wax lyrical on each product, whether we've been in good company for a few weeks or mere days.

Starting off with something I didn't actually buy: Maybelline Lash Sensational Luscious Mascara. When I won this in a giveaway, I was pretty pleased because I always love trying out new mascaras, and I am such a fan of the original Lash Sensational Mascara - I still think it's the best mascara I've tried and should probably get my hands on it again. This version is a little different. I would say it has more of a wet formula, meaning it weighs down the lashes slightly more and doesn't do as good of a job at curling them upwards. It still gives volume and drama, and those who love the clumpy lash effect will probably get along with this. Personally, I like using this when I want more intensity and volume instead of separation and length. I would still recommend the original formula more!

My skin has been in an absolute state recently, and who knows why. One product I really did need to add to my routine though was a face scrub, and I picked up the Goodness Every Week Face Scrub on a whim. I've only used it once so far but I really liked the result. It's a simple, cream formula with fine granules which gently buff the skin. I can see why this would be a good weekly scrub when skin is in need of a little exfoliation and brightening. My skin definitely feels like it could do with a scrub this weekend. So far it hasn't irritated my complexion, and it might be thanks to the 'natural' ingredients included. I haven't tried anything else from Goodness but would recommend checking this out if you're in need of a gentle exfoliator.

After using my NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer for a while, I decided that I had the wrong shade and should have gone for the lightest one. It was fine if I blended it in fairly well, but I really wanted to buy another NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer because I was after a formula that was more hydrating. I have had several tubes of this over the years and have always really liked it, the only downside being that it runs out pretty fast (and it's not the cheapest!). I love how pale the Chantilly shade is and it works well with my foundation. I'm happy I made the switch, and I'll still continue to use the other concealer, but probably as eyeshadow primer and under the eye. This wasn't a new try for me, but thought I'd include it in here anyway!

Along with an exfoliator, the other product I needed was a new hair mask. Previously I've used and loved the Lush Marilyn Hair Treatment but it's since been discontinued, and now there's only a hot oil version. Anyway, I recently dyed my hair so it's been a little drier than usual. I picked up the OGX Argan Oil of Morocco Intense Moisturizing Treatment because I enjoy the shampoo and conditioner versions. I've only used this once so far but it did a pretty good job at making my hair feel more moisturised and also giving it some strength back. I'll continue to use this weekly and maybe experiment with leaving it on for longer to get the most out of it.

I've never used anything to set down my brows, but have always liked the look of products such as Glossier Boy Brow and Benefit Gimme Brow. With this in mind, I went for the cheaper Rimmel Brow This Way Brow Styling Gel. I have to say, I went slightly overboard when I first used this - there is a lot of product on the brush initially, so you really need to wipe off the excess. But when used with caution, it sets down my brows pretty decently and makes them a little darker. I have a feeling this product will get better as it dries out, but right now I don't absolutely hate it and will continue using this in my routine.

The Soap and Glory Rushower Dry Shampoo was insanely cheap so I added it to my Mecca basket when I was buying a new foundation. I really wanted to give this a go because I had heard some good things, plus I always love trying out new dry shampoos as they are hard to get right. I have used Batiste dry shampoos for the last few years as they are cheap and readily available, but the formula is pretty full on. This, on the other hand, is lighter and a better every day option for me. It can leave a slight grey cast if sprayed too much, but on the whole it works well and doesn't leave too much build up.

Although I've tried the Stila Glitter and Go Liquid Eyeshadow, I was intrigued when I saw they have recently released less glittery, and in my opinion slightly more wearable versions. I picked up the Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow in Kitten, which is such a predictable shade for me but a classic. When swatched, Kitten looks like a nude pink, almost rose gold. On the eye, you can apply a small amount and it's very wearable, or apply another layer and it's such a gorgeous shimmery, but not sparkly, cream eyeshadow. I would love to see what one of the darker shades in the range looks like. So far, I'm in love with this!

Have you tried any of these products?



10 March 2018

My Makeup Routine for Blemished Skin

Blemished skin has become the bane of my existence lately. It sounds pretty dramatic, but constantly having bad skin really puts a downer on things and makes my self esteem plummet most of the time. While I'm slowly trying to accept my skin for how it is, there's no denying that makeup can do a pretty great job of boosting self-confidence and enhancing skin as opposed to caking. I thought I'd put pen to paper, or rather fingers to keyboard, and share my tips, however small or simple they may be, when it comes to bad breakouts and covering them up without loading on layers of product. I'm sure most of this is common sense, however this is what I've been doing the past couple of weeks as my skin has had a turn for the worst.

The last couple of months I've stripped back my skincare routine and used the absolute basics - a simple cleanser and light moisturiser. Occasionally I have had to use a heavier moisturiser when my skin feels particularly dry. So I will apply the Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream, which I absolutely adore, every few days when my skin needs it instead of daily. I have to face up to the fact that some moisturisers clog my skin and cause me to break out. But, everything in moderation! Some kind of exfoliant has been really useful in clearing out my skin, making makeup easier to apply over top. Apart from that, I've really just been trying to avoid using any new products, letting my skin breathe and retain its natural oils.

Skincare routine aside, practising good hygiene is a good step forward in avoiding future breakouts, especially in the same area. I think for the past half a year I've used a Beautyblender constantly because it quickly became my favourite way to apply my base. Although I try and wash it every few days, it can still feel slightly unhygienic. That's why I've changed to brushes for now to see if it makes a difference, as I think they're much easier to clean - I mean who knows what kind of bacteria is lurking in a beauty sponge? Gross! It only takes me a few minutes to clean my brushes with the Beautyblender Liquid BlenderCleanser because I don't have many. Up until the point I started using a Beautyblender, I used my Real Techniques Buffing Brush every day, however I've swapped to the Real Techniques Multi Task Brush because it diffuses product really well over the skin, giving it more coverage than a damp sponge. I think in this case coverage is key because a sheer finish doesn't really work for me when I have so many spots and redness on my face.

I'm back using NARS Sheer Glow Foundation which provides a light-feeling yet decent coverage, even if the name suggests a sheer finish. In conjunction with the less dense brush, it buffs into the skin more easily, making it look like skin, which I think is crucial. I haven't tried the new NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation, instead deciding to stick with my fail-safe option. The base is targeted towards dry or normal skin, and while my complexion tends to get oily by the end of the day, this foundation has the perfect kind of finish I like - glowy and radiant enough, but not instantly oily. Personally, I need to powder some time during the day, but I'd rather have to do that than have a heavy, dry-feeling base to begin with. More hydrating or creamy formulas glide over the skin and spots easier, especially because my skin can become extremely dry and sore feeling. Contrary to popular belief, your skin can be dry and oily at the same time, and it's a pain!

Using a matte, high coverage concealer will give you more coverage for your actual spots, rather than packing it on every where. I used to apply the NARS Soft Matte Concealer with my fingers, but I found it didn't give as much coverage as I expected. Now, I stipple it on with a small brush - I'm using the BH Cosmetics 128 Brush - which gives me coverage on and around the spot, reducing the appearance of redness. I think in the future I will repurchase the more creamier NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, just because my skin can become so dry, especially where blemishes are. Another concealer I've gone back to is the Maybelline Fit Me Concealer because it has a more hydrating formula, but I tend to use this under my eyes most of the time. Apart from concealer, I love using a highlighter on the very tops of my cheekbones to distract from everything. Applying blush can enhance the redness in my face and draw attention to spots, so sometimes I will just opt for highlighter and the slightest amount of bronzer. Overall, I will try and spend that little extra time on my base instead of my eyes for example, because after all the skin is a blank canvas.

I think one important thing to note is that your skin won't look perfect all the time, even with makeup on. Sometimes makeup clings to the red, dry patches on my face and it's not a fun time for me, but in the grand scheme of things it's really not the worst thing in the world. People will still be able to tell I have spots, but in my mind a nice radiant finish will do enough to distract. Makeup doesn't have to trick people - just make you feel better about yourself. You don't know how much acne can effect you until you've experienced it, however I'm trying to make it work for me in the meantime!



3 March 2018

February Reads

Despite reading so many good books in January, I found it harder to make a habit of reading in February. Sometimes if I'm not feeling a book, I can get stuck in a rut and won't read for days and weeks, but on the other spectrum of things, once I find a book I really like, all I can do is keep reading. I think I've been pretty good at selecting the right reads so far this year, which has resulted in some lifelong favourites. Here's what I read last month!

Pretty Iconic by Sali Hughes
Pretty Iconic has been on my to-read list for absolutely ages, so I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. This was pretty different to anything I've read before, probably because I haven't read any books about beauty, but it was so interesting to learn about the history of makeup. Sometimes the beauty industry is penned as being exploitative, but this takes beauty from a different angle, showing how it can be a fun thing. I really want to read Sali Hughe's other book, Pretty Honest, even more so, because it explores what beauty can mean to women - in the sense that we don't need makeup, but we wear it to perk ourselves up. Feminism and beauty is something I think about a lot, so I would love to read something on a similar vein to this. Going back to Pretty Iconic, this is such a worthwhile book any beauty lover should read. Sali talks about beauty is a no-fuss way, sharing her tips and tricks but also discussing her relationship with beauty growing up.

The Muse by Jessie Burton
This is another book I've been meaning to read for a while - I guess I've been wanting to clear my bookshelf out a little! The Muse is told from two perspectives over different time periods - 1967 and 1936. It all centres around one painting that shows up in 1967, but the answer to its secret is in 1936, in rural Spain. It's best if you just start reading rather than hear too much about it, but for me this was a book about sacrifice and betrayal, and how art has a hidden or subjective meaning. It also explores what it means to be a creative person - a writer or an artist, and how sometimes it's the only thing that matters. In hindsight some of the twists may have been predictable, but there was still enough mystery, leaving me feeling extremely intrigued. This is the perfect book to read cooped up on a rainy day.

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
I really wanted to read Call Me By Your Name before seeing it at the cinema, and I'm so glad I did because I feel like it gives you more background and detail - or that's what I've heard. The first half of this book was truly intoxicating and I fell in love with it. As the whole book is from Elio's perspective it reads as a huge stream of consciousness, without many breaks. I feel like this added intensity to the book and made me really absorbed. What I liked most about this book was how it captured what it feels like to be deeply infatuated with another person - everything you experience becomes about them. It also created such a vivid and beautiful image of Italy in summer. Even though this book has been hyped so much, it is still really worth reading as long as you don't have sky high expectations. The one downside was I lost interest slightly near the end, however it picked up again eventually. It gives a great lesson on young love and how all good things must come to an end.

Have you read any of these books?

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