16
Apr
2014

How Blogging Changed My Beauty Routine

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I shudder when I think of the countless beauty faux pas I have made in the past.  I have been blogging for 5 years now, picking up a tip here and a tutorial there.  The progress seemed slow and at times, insignificantly small.  However, when I look back at pictures of myself in those early days, I can see a huge difference now in my skin, makeup, hair and figure.  Beauty blogs helped me to perfect my liquid eyeliner, Fashion blogs helped me to dress for my figure and Lifestyle blogs helped me to learn about a balanced diet, clean eating and effective ways to exercise.  The end result? I lost two dress sizes, 2 and a half stone in weight, built up a more desirable wardrobe of clothes and a much more groomed appearance. It may sound cheesy but blogging has given me so much confidence in so many ways. So if you often read my blog and feel a little clueless about all the technicalities of a beauty regime, then just remember that I was there too at one stage!

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I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the biggest changes I made as a direct result of blogging and reading other blogs! I have also included my favourite tutorial videos from YouTubers which will help you through each category.

Makeup Brushes

There was a time when I would apply my powder with the sponge that came with it, my eyeshadow with those little crappy double ended sponge applicators and my blush with my fingers. Yes, yes I know. The day I bought my first set of proper makeup brushes was the day my makeup application technique improved by 100%! I still apply most foundations with my fingers because I feel like that gives the best finish on my skin.  However, I apply pretty much every other product with a specific brush tailored to the job.  Nothing blends eyeshadow quite like a nice, full fluffy brush! The Pixiwoo girls are the perfect duo to talk you through what each brush does and I also happen to be a huge fan of their Real Techniques brushes!

Base

Foundation used to be my security blanket and a full coverage one at that.  I could never have imagined walking out of the house without a fully made up face.  Over time I mastered the right skincare regime, found new lightweight base products, application techniques and learnt the proper use of concealers and colour correction products. All of this gave me the confidence to wear products with a lot less coverage such as BB and CC Creams. It’s quite liberating to pair things down to the bare essentials and realise that you can still feel good about yourself.  As for leaving the house with absolutely NO makeup…well I don’t think that’ll ever happen.  But I guess you should never say never…

If you’re unsure which foundation to buy to suit you then check out this video from Sam & Nic where they go through the best foundation for each skin type:

Eyebrows

When I strolled through the Bloomingdales cosmetics department in New York, I’ll never forget the sales assistant’s immortal words…”Would you like me to fix your brows?”.  How dare she, I thought.  I was instantly insulted and embarrassed in equal measure.  Then I changed my mind and allowed her to ‘fix my brows’.  That was the beginning of my eyebrow enlightenment.  As soon as I got home from that holiday, I started watching tutorials on how to do my brows and which products were most effective in taming that strange collection of hair above our eyes.  It took me a while to find the right shape for my face and the right product.  I now exclusively use powder to fill in my brows because it looks much more natural on me.  I have naturally fair hair and anything too dark, harsh or structured just looks too imposing.

Here’s a quick tip from makeup artist Wayne Goss on how to make the most of your brows!

Eyeshadow

I remember the days when I only ever applied one shade to my whole eyelid.  Those were more simplistic days but I soon started to realise that there was a world of possibilities out there to shape and define the eye area.  After watching many tutorials, I started to experiment with different colour combinations, smokey eyes and the virgin territory of applying eyeshadow on my lower lash line. Groundbreaking I’m sure you’ll agree! I had always assumed that due to my deep set eyes, I could only ever hope to wear pale colours on my eyes.  How wrong I was.

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Through watching tutorial videos, I quickly learnt how to use darker shades to create depth and the illusion of bigger or different shaped eyes.  The transformative aspect of makeup is what makes it so fun for me. And shock horror, I actually started to line my waterline.  That had always been a scary concept to me because I was worried I might look too ‘made up’ but it’s all about balance and finding the right products.

Here is the lovely Tanya Burr showing us all how to recreate a Mila Kunis-style smokey eye!

And this amazing video from Charlotte Tilbury shows you how to make your eyes look bigger and brighter using eyeshadow and liner:

Contouring/Highlighting

Everyone has aspects of their face they may not be entirely happy with.  Perhaps it’s a wide bridge nose, a round face or a long chin.  Contouring is the key to playing down aspects of your face, whilst highlighting the great bits.  My made-up face in the old days looked quite flat because I didn’t use bronzer or contouring powder to shape and define my features.  I have an oval face so I’m quite lucky that it’s pretty much in proportion.  However, I do like to slim my face down and create the illusion of high cheekbones by using a matte contouring powder.  I also use the same powder to define my jawline which helps to avoid the dreaded ‘two chins’ look in photographs too! Learning how to correctly contour and highlight my face made a huge difference and it can really help to make the most of your natural features.

Check out this video tutorial from the amazing Lisa Eldridge which shows you how to contour and highlight the face for a natural effect:

False Lashes

Before I started blogging, I think I saw false lashes as something only beauty queens or drag queens would wear.  Little did I know there were women walking around with them on without detection! I must admit that it did take me a long, long time to perfect my false lash application technique but what I will say is that there are two very important aspects to accomplishing this tricky task.  You need to find the right style of false lash for you and you have to trim them to fit the size of your eye.  I had applied false lashes many a time only to find myself poking at my eyes when the end of it jabbed me constantly.  It took me a while to realise that I had to trim them down to avoid this from happening.  My preference is definitely for more natural-looking false lashes (an oxymoron if ever there was one!).  They just add that extra polish and glamour to your look without being overly noticeable.

The lovely Lauren Curtis shows us some of her tips and tricks to getting the hang of applying false lashes:

Bright Lips

Back in the day, I was a nude lip girl all the way.  Sometimes I ventured into pink or peach but never, EVER anything more bold than that.  Then one day I decided to experiment a little. I was sent a lovely lipstick from Daniel Sandler in a hot pink shade called Flamingo.  That was the turning point which started my love affair with bold lips.  I have very rosy cheeks naturally and because of that, I had always assumed that bold lips were out of bounds for me.  However, once I had mastered how to perfect my base products and get flawless skin, I realised a whole world of lip colour was now open to me.  Nowadays I don’t even think twice about slapping on a head-turning red shade or a vibrant conspicuous pink.  I enjoy a good old pop of colour and in my opinion, it’s a sure fire way to make you feel instantly sophisticated and glamourous.

Lisa Eldridge shows us how to wear a bright lip in this tutorial video:

Hair

In the early days I wore my long hair straight, straight and er…straight. My GHD’s were my best and most trusted friend.  I had dabbled with heated rollers and those weird heated spongey finger things but I never mastered the technique and the result was always a bit ‘Annie’.  Fast forward a few years and I just got sick of always wearing my hair the same way.  I remember that during my hair trials in 2010, I had my hair curled using GHD’s, tongs and also with rollers.  I loved the result and the fact that my fine hair looks twice as thick! I decided I wanted to teach myself how to get the perfect waves. It took some time to find the tools and products that worked for me but once I did, I’ve never looked back!

This video tutorial shows you how to achieve gorgeous curls in 5-10 minutes:

Diet/Exercise

When I first started blogging, I was in a job that made me extremely unhappy.  There was a lot of bullying going on and I started to slip into a rather dark place.  I developed really bad insomnia, my eating habits got out of control and the weight crept on.  I was definitely comfort eating to deal with my feelings.  Enough was enough and I left that job, leaving those awful people behind.  Chris had proposed and I decided to take control over my life and more importantly, my lifestyle.  I made the wedding my first target point to lose a certain amount of weight.  I began reading blogs about healthy eating and exercise, avoiding anything with the word ‘diet’.  I wanted something that was actually sustainable and something that would help me lose the weight for good and allow me to make healthier choices.  I joined the local gym, I changed my eating habits and I got to my goal weight about 6 months after the wedding.  I have kept that weight off ever since.  Obviously I have now put weight back on during my pregnancy but I’m confident that I can lose all of that in a healthy and balanced way.  The crazy thing is that, although I’ve put 21lbs on so far in my pregnancy, I’m still no where near the weight I was at my heaviest and most unhealthy.

This is a fantastic channel which features healthy recipes, tips on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and also fantastic add-on exercise routines that you can do in the comfort of your own home when you can’t get to the gym! They even have a nutrition programme if you want to sign up to that. More than anything, it just helps to keep you motivated.

Leave me a comment below and share what you’ve learnt from blogging or from reading blogs?

15
Apr
2014

Review: Clarins Extra-Comfort Foundation

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I didn’t particularly like this foundation the first time I tried it.  There, I’ve said it.  I had high expectations after seeing quite a few bloggers raving about the coverage and finish. Naturally anything concerning base products gets me all a flutter because I’m a firm believer that a good, reliable base is the key aspect that helps everything else on your face fall into place (hey, that rhymes!).

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Lets start off with the blurb on the product, I’ll discuss the pros and cons and then let you in on a secret which unlocked the door to making this work for me.

“Its exclusive anti-ageing formula plumps, moisturises and nourishes the skin deep down with a combination of organic Argan oil and the Global Age-Defying Complex. The skin instantly feels suppler and more comfortable. Wrinkles and fine lines are smoothed. The complexion is left glowing with youth”.

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This foundation is medium-full/full coverage that has a slightly dewy finish on the skin.  The consistency is much like a nourishing night time moisturiser and I would put that down to the Argan Oil listed in the ingredients.  I generally always apply foundation with my fingers and especially if the product is nearing the full coverage category.  Applying a full coverage foundation with a brush is sort of like applying paint to a wall with a trowel.  You end up using way too much product and the result is less than natural.  I find that the warmth of my fingertips works as the best tool to blend the foundation into my skin.

Now lets discuss my first impressions of this foundation, starting with the packaging.  A jar of foundation is never really a good idea because:

a) The product gets under your fingernails and it all gets a bit messy
b) It’s not very hygienic to be dipping your fingers into a product continuously
c) It’s cumbersome and not very travel-friendly

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Above: I have the ‘Sand’ shade.

The consistency of the foundation bothered me slightly at first because it had a slightly slippery feel on the skin.  It’s hard to describe but it’s like a serum within a foundation which sets to a slightly silky powdery finish.  This is all well and good but I’m used to foundations that sink into my skin leaving behind no trace. When I run my fingers across my skin, it just feels like skin.  Whereas with this foundation, I could feel a slight powdery finish.  It didn’t LOOK powdery on the skin though. A strange thing indeed.

The coverage is really good, evening out my skin tone and camouflaging any blemishes – so much so that there was no need to use concealer anywhere else but my under eye area.  We like this…this is good. This foundation also lasts all day long and I mean ALL day long.

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When something has been so keenly raved about, I feel it’s my duty to explore all of it’s merits and give it a good chance.  Despite my previous misgivings, the next day I persevered and decided to adopt the same routine I have with my other foundations.  Lately I have been obsessed with mixing all of my foundation with a liquid illuminator – the Nars Copacabana Illuminator to be exact.  That product transforms any medium to full coverage foundation into something more glowy, more natural and just more downright dreamy.

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So I set about doing my usual routine, adding a small blob of the illuminator to the Clarins foundation and what do you know, it just…worked.  It brought the foundation to a whole new level for me and took away that slippery feeling that had bothered me previously. It just seemed to sit so much better on my skin and really gave that flawless appearance which, lets face it, we ALL love!

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I’m glad that I gave this foundation another chance.  It’s actually a really good foundation for people with dry skin – although I’d say it wouldn’t be very suitable for anyone with really oily skin due to the Argan Oil and the finish.  In my opinion, it’s a foundation that would be better suited to the Autumnal/Winter months due to the moisturising properties and the fact that I don’t seem to need as much coverage in the summer months when I’m rocking a bit of a tan. It would also be a great foundation for a night out or special occasion due to the great coverage and lasting power.

If you’re curious how this foundation rates in my current top 5, it would go a little bit like this:

1) Guerlain Lingerie De Peau (medium coverage)

2) Nars Sheer Glow (medium-full coverage)

3) Estee Lauder Double Wear Light (medium coverage)

4) Rimmel Wake Me Up (medium coverage)

5) Clarins Extra-Comfort (medium-full coverage)

You can buy the Clarins Extra-Comfort foundation here for £36.00 (30ml jar).

13
Apr
2014

Video: Pregnancy Update 31 Weeks

This week’s pregnancy update video is just in time for some lazy Sunday viewing.  I always find that Sundays are my favourite day to catch up with all my favourite YouTubers!  As you will see in this week’s update, the bump is growing to gargantuan proportions…or at least that’s the way it feels when I’m carrying it around all day.  Despite that and all of the uncomfortable, annoying and downright painful symptoms I’m experiencing, I still love being pregnant.  Every little nudge, kick and squirm brings a smile to my face and serves as a reminder of what an amazing experience I am going through!

11
Apr
2014

KIKO ‘Life In Rio’ Collection

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Kiko Makeup Up is a brand that seems to be accelerating into warp drive in terms of making an impact on the blogging world. The limited edition collections have sparked much interest in the recent past and the ‘Life In Rio’ collection set for launch this month is no exception.  It’s said to be inspired by the colourful street life of Rio, featuring vibrant hues for eyes, lips and nails as well as a warm gold glow for the skin. This will just be a general overview but I will use all of the products and post separately about how they look once applied.

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Today I’d like to take you through a few of the items I was sent this week…

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Lets begin with the Essential Bronzer in the darker shade – Warm Melange (£16.90).  It’s definitely on the larger side of the bronzers in my collection and is obviously designed for use on the body as well as the face.  The marbled design of the powder is not only very pretty but it gives way to a silky, finely milled and very blend-able product – all of which are imperative qualities of a good bronzer.  All it takes is a touch of your bronzer brush on the pan to grab enough colour to give that summer golden glow. The finish of this bronzer can only be described as having a matte luminescence. My only criticism of this bronzing powder is that it has quite a strong vanilla scent which I find quite sickly, however I can only smell it when I’m applying it.

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The collection also features a rather gorgeous cheek product called Sun Lovers Blush in Ipanema Beach (£14.90) – a pretty mixture of bronze, pink and peach tones.  It’s the perfect blush for summer and would look rather amazing with a tan! Once again the consistency is silky, buttery and build-able.  You can concentrate more on the peach side for an intense hit or mix all the shades together for a gorgeous glow. It creates a lovely sheen on the face which is just on the right side of subtle. A few people have commented that the pan looks mighty similar to one of the Hourglass Ambient Blushes and looking at swatches of both, I’d say this Kiko product has more pigmentation.

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L-R: Essential Bronzer in Warm Melange, Sun Lovers Blush in Ipanema Beach

The Sun Show Nail Lacquers (£5.90) in this collection all look absolutely beautiful with many having a multi-tone appearance.  470 is a hot pink shade with gold pearl and 468 is a coral shade with bronze and gold reflects.  They both have a really pretty shimmery finish so I will post pics of these once I have applied them.

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The Kiko Creamy Touch Eyeshadow Duo in 103 features a bright turquoise and chocolate brown shade.  I was so impressed with the formulation of this product when I swatched it – they are so smooth and creamy.  Also, once they are on, they don’t budge! It took washing my hands three times and scrubbing it with a face wipe to get these colours off! This bodes well for lasting power on the eyes!

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Which products have caught your eye? Have you tried anything from Kiko Makeup yet?

11
Apr
2014

Bump Update: 31 Weeks

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This week has definitely been the hardest in my pregnancy so far, what with constant heartburn/acid reflux, sciatica, swollen ankles and hands and a serious lack of sleep.  However, Im trying not to let all of that get to me! I’m another week down in the pregnancy and the nesting instinct has properly kicked in now – I’m constantly fighting the urge to tidy and sort every area of the house! I’m supposed to be taking it easy but I have an overwhelming urge to make lists and organise everything in sight!

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Total Weight Gain – 21lbs – I’m pretty happy with the steady weight gain of 1lb a week because it means baby is healthy and growing normally.
Maternity clothes? If I’m in the house working or chilling out then I tend to stick to leggings and jumpers because they’re the most comfortable option. However, when I venture out I like to make more of an effort.  I have found that fitted dresses in stretchy fabrics are my best friend, although I’m struggling with wearing heels at the moment – anything higher than a couple of inches makes my feet burn after a couple of hours of walking around! I recently picked up a dress in the Warehouse sale (shown in the pics above) and it looks amazing with the bump! I love sifting through Pinterest for some maternity style inspiration too!
Stretch marks? They don’t really seem to be getting much worse at the moment and to be honest I really don’t notice them.
Sleep: The sleep pattern has been crap this week.  I generally wake up 4 times a night to go to the toilet and then it takes me a good 20-30 mins to get back to sleep.  Very annoying indeed! I have found that once I wake up at about 5:30am, I have to get up because I’m so hungry my stomach actually hurts.  So I’ve developed a new routine of getting up mega early, having a light breakfast and then snoozing on the couch for an hour.  It’s the only way I can get enough sleep! Moving from one side to another in bed is a challenge to say the least, generally accompanied by lots of groaning!
Best moment this week: Getting my support band in the post yesterday. The sciatica was really getting me down and it is so painful.  The band really takes the pressure off my spine and supports the weight of my belly so it’s been a big relief!
Miss anything? This week I have missed being able to walk normally! What with the waddling and sore back, I’ve been hobbling around like a pirate with a peg leg! I’d take the heartburn over back pain any day!
Food cravings: No specific cravings this week.
Anything making you queasy or sick? The acid reflux has been making me feel pretty sick this week.
Gender: It’s a secret.
Symptoms: The worst symptom this week has definitely been the sciatica.  It’s actually made me cry at some points and it’s making it really difficult to do simple things like get out of bed or walk the dogs. Hopefully if I rest it will go away.  The heartburn and acid reflux are just as bad as ever and I’ve noticed that I tend to get quite headachy in the evenings.  I spent the other day walking around for hours and when I got home, I had really swollen ankles and hands for the first time in my pregnancy. It was horrible because they felt tight, heavy and achey.  Not pleasant at all! My lovely hubby gave me a neck, shoulder, back and leg massage though to ease the swelling.
Happy or moody most of the time: I did get a little bit short-tempered this week when my back was really bad.  I really do sympathise with anyone who suffers from chronic back pain because it can really affect your mood and make you extremely cranky! Otherwise I’ve been pretty balanced apart from the odd teary moment.
Looking forward to: My antenatal classes which start on Tuesday. I have four in all spanning over 2 weeks and they cover topics like labour, breastfeeding, what to expect once baby is born etc. It will just be good to get some practical advice and information on what’s to come!

And as for what else has been going on with me this week…

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  • I got a good 2 and a half inches chopped off my hair last Saturday and it was blunt cut so it looks and feels a whole lot thicker! There’s something really refreshing about chopping off inches and being left with those healthy, fresh ends. It’s so much easier and quicker to blow-dry and style in the mornings too!
  • After tons of recommendations, I picked up a bumper box of WaterWipes from Amazon (12 packets for £26). I hadn’t even considered the fact that normal baby wipes could aggravate your newborn’s skin but after finding out that most mainstream brand wipes contain chemical nasties, I decided I definitely wanted to use something purer and more natural. These contain 99.9% water and the rest is just fruit extracts.
  • I picked up a rather gorgeous wash bag from Marks & Spencer with a beautiful Holly Sharpe design on it. I’m in love with her work! I’m going to use it to house all my toiletries for my stay at the maternity hospital in June. It’s a fantastic size and water resistant so not only is it pretty but it’s practical too!
  • I also picked up a rather lovely pair of summer sandals from M&S Limited Edition collection.  I spotted them in Look Magazine and immediately knew they had to be mine! I love the almost neon coral pattern on them and the fact they have a chunky mid-sized heel. At only £35, they are a bit of a bargain and so comfortable too! They will probably only grace my feet for a maximum of 3 or 4 hours whilst I’m preggo but I have the rest of the summer after the birth to enjoy them!