UK Beauty and Lifestyle Blog

November 29, 2014

My Face Mask Collection: What I Reach For When

what face mask to buy next

Pictured above is my entire face mask collection - I didn't realise I had so many until I came to take the photograph! I thought that I would break down my collection into rough categories, sharing when I reach for what face mask and what I think they're good for. If you're looking for a new face mask to try then I hope this breakdown helps you choose between some very stiff competition! 

When I want to exfoliate and brighten my skin...
I tend to reach for an AHA peel, and the two in my collection at the moment are Madara's Brightening AHA Peel Mask* and Elemental Herbology's Facial Glow. They're both very similar but I think that the Facial Glow is a little bit stronger, making it more effective but also harsher on the skin. However, if you are thinking of trying it out then a good idea is to check Naturisimo's sample section where I usually pick up 15ml tubes for just £2.50 (this is the cheapest way to get your hands on it). 

When I want to declog my pores...
I reach for a clay mask, my long standing favourite is Origins' Clear Improvements Active Charcoal Mask but I also really like Glam Glow's Youth Mud. A cheaper alternative is Super Facialist's Tea Flower Pore Purifying Mask, but I do find it quite harsh on my more dry and sensitive skin - so I only use this on my t-zone.

When I have painful under-the-skin spots...
I like to reach for something cleansing that isn't too harsh. My two picks are Aesop's Parsley Seed Mask and Antipodes' Aura Manuka Honey Mask. Both do a similar job but Antipodes' mask is slightly more gentle and moisturising. This tends to be the mask that I reach for when I have hormonal breakouts, my current tube is a repurchase and I'd choose it over the Parsley Seed Mask.

When my skin is dry and lacks radiance...
I like to use facial oils and intensive moisturising treatments. My favourite one to repurchase is Origins' Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask which is a very thick cream mask with a gorgeous fruity scent. When I want to really pamper my skin I crack out Decleor's Aroma Essence Iris Rejuvenating Treatment*. It's a really expensive product full of essential oils that I use very sparingly, but when I do reach for it I notice that it really leaves my skin looking particularly soft and supple.


Most Popular Posts: November 2014

OneLittleVice Beauty Blog: most popular beauty blog posts november 2014

I've posted quite a lot during the month of November, and some of this month's posts have been very popular. Today, I've gathered together ten of my most popular posts written in the last month. I thought that if you happened to have missed any of them then this gives you a great opportunity to catch up

I hope you've been enjoying my blog this month. I've got lots of really exciting things planned for the next couple of weeks (including a new giveaway that will be going live early next week) so do keep your eyes peeled!


November 28, 2014

Festive Fingertips: Seventeen Glitter and Tinsel Nail Effects

One Little Vice Beauty Blog: Seventeen christmas glitter nail polishes
OneLittleVice Beauty Blog: Seventeen Glitter and Tinsel Nail Effects polishes review
Left to right: Seventeen Glitter Effect in Gold*, Red* and Gold*, Seventeen Tinsel Nail Effect in Red* and Blue*

We're only days away from December and I'm getting ready… I'm breaking out the berry lipsticks, the darker smokey eye makeup and the glitter. It's all coming out and I'm getting seriously Christmas party ready. A month or so ago, I was lucky enough to win some of Seventeen's Glitter and Tinsel Nail polishes and I have to admit that every since then (in an homage to the upcoming festive period) I've been rocking a glitter topcoat. I've loved layering Seventeen's Glitter Nail Effect in Red over Nail Inc's St. James and I've also loved how Gold looks when layered over Ciate's polish in Dangerous Affair*. Next up in my rotation is going to be Seventeen's Tinsel Nail Effect in Red (which is actually very much pink…) and I'm going to layer over one of my pink Essie polishes. These topcoats from Seventeen aren't the best that I've ever come across but they're great for jazzing up "normal" nail colours and as they come in at £3.99 each they're not going to break the bank! 


Makeup Look: Wearable Metallics

OneLittleVice Beauty Blog: how to wear metallic makeup

I had my first mince pie last week and it completely switched on my Christmas spirit - and it's having an effect on my make-up bag. I've been really enjoying playing around with metallics, which are actually tipped to be a big spring/summer beauty trend. That being said, I still want a finished look that's wearable so I've been finding easy and subtle ways to update my look. It would be really easy for you to get on board with this trend too, you'd just need to swap out one of your existing makeup products for something with a bit of frost to it.

My two lip picks for this trend are Catrice's Ultimate Shine Lipstick in Good Nudes which is a warm, incredibly frosty, bronzed-nude. It's surprisingly pretty and easy to wear and works really well layered over other lipsticks for a subtle-but-not-too-subtle nod to the metallic trend. Alternatively, a really subtle way to wear this trend is to don Ilia's Lip Conditioner in the shade These Days. It's a rich, warm, bronzed nude that has the slightest frost to it that helps it catch the light and really enhance your lips.

Picking a golden or bronze highlighter is another easy way to wear metallic shades. Topshop's Glow in Gleam is a very pretty bronze highlighter (an alternative is Revlon's Illuminator in Bare Light). If you want something more full on then I'd opt for Illamasqua's Liquid Metals, I have the shade Electrum which is a yellow-toned gold that really packs a punch. It's all about blending this into a really sheer wash of colour and pairing it with a bronzer that suits your skin tone. It does look "different" bit it doesn't look clownish. Alternatively, you can add a bit of Electrum over the top of a nude lipstick to add a golden hue to your look. 

Add some metallic highlighter to the inner corner of your eyes, and you could even sweep some across your eyelid for a sheer, reflective glow. I, personally, avoid metallic shadows for the daytime but I did see Eilish from Eyelash in Wonderland sporting Collection's Glam Crystals Dazzling Gel Liner and although it's a glitter liner it looks very pretty without being over the top. It also lasts incredibly well - we're talk all day - which makes it low maintenance and easy to wear. 


November 27, 2014

Kiehls Creme de Corps: Worth the Hype?

onelittlevice beauty blog: kiehls creme de corps review

Recently I set out on a mission - a mission handed over to me by my dad - to find a seriously hydrating body moisturiser without too much of a scent that didn't leave skin feeling greasy. My dad suffers from incredibly dry skin and set out to find him some products that I thought he might get along with. I bought a small 125ml bottle of Kiehls Creme de Corps along with a couple of other moisturisers, but this one has really stood out. Creme de Corps ticks all the right boxes - it's deeply hydrating, doesn't have much of a scent and it sinks in quickly. My dad likes Creme de Corps so much that he's actually gone ahead and ordered one of the big 500ml bottles. Now, I'm not saying that this is the product that will cure all of my his skin troubles, but it is a great product to have to hand and I've certainly enjoyed trying it out. Having never tried anything from Kiehls before I now have the brand very firmly on my radar and my thinking goes as follows - is if this is how the body moisturiser performs then I cannot fathom how good the skincare products must be…

Have you tried anything from Kiehls before?


My First Space NK "Haul"

onelittlevice beauty blog: luxury beauty haul
One Little Vice Beauty Blog: Space NK haul

It had to happen eventually. I couldn't keep going into Space NK, asking a hundred questions, ogling everything and then leave empty handed… I just couldn't. Can you tell that I'm trying to justify this somewhat unnecessary purchase? 

I've seen so many beauty YouTubers use Nars Creamy Concealer in their videos and it just seems to erase their under eye circles. It's exactly this sort of vanishing act that I'm after! I've tried so many concealers that I like but I haven't found one that I love. I'm not sure if this is because my expectations are too high. But if YouTubers and celebrities can make their blemishes disappear on command then it must be possible for us mere mortals, surely? 

This is actually my first ever Nars purchase and, unlike I'd generally been led to believe, the shade "Vanilla" was in stock and all too available. My first impressions are positive but it's too soon to cast a final judgement, but I'm sure I'll be talking about it more soon.


November 26, 2014

Finishing Touches: Paul Mitchell Freeze and Shine Super Spray

OneLittleVice Beauty Blog: paul mitchell hairspray review

November has been the first month in a long time where I've properly enjoyed styling my hair. I've been obsessed with curling my hair and I've also been trying out a lot of plaits - especially dutch braids, which I think look gorgeous paired with a party dress and bold lipstick. Once I've spent a long time "doing" my hair I want the style to last as long as possible. To help me out I've been reaching for Paul Mitchell's Freeze and Shine Super Spray* - an all in one finishing spray that offers incredible hold and also leaves hair looking really healthy and shiny. 

I checked out quite a few reviews before I agreed to trial this finishing spray and I found that it is an incredibly popular product - and for good reason. Honestly, it's been a very long time since I came across a product that offers this level of hold without leaving my hair crunchy or weighed down. I also really appreciate that it adds a glossy finish to my hair - I like a matte finish on intentionally messy styles, but I really like curled hair and up-dos to demand attention and catch the light. If you're looking for a styling product to invest in then I'd definitely recommend Paul Mitchell's Freeze and Shine Super Spray. A 500ml bottle, like the one I have, is available for £15.99 from Hairtrade and it will last you absolutely ages! I can see this being a reliable and much loved hair staple throughout the upcoming Christmas party season.

I received this product for review purposes as part of Etail PR's Hairtrade campaign

November 25, 2014

My Eyeliner Collection

onelittlevice beauty blog: eyeliner collection reviews

Pencil eyeliners were among the first beauty products that I ever started buying and I wear them most days. They're easy and quick to use, they come in wonderful colours and they add some much needed definition to my eyes. Pictured above is my entire pencil eyeliner collection and I'm going to talk you through some of my top picks and why I like them. Hopefully this will give you some ideas on which ones might work for you.

Best Value for Money
Essence Stays No Matter What Waterproof Eyeliner in Black
I picked this up a while ago now and it remains one of my favourite pencil eye liners - it's cheap but lasts really well on me. I like to use it to tightline my eyes (I use it on my upper, inner lash line to make my eyelashes appear fuller).

Favourite for Daytime
Rimmel Scandal Eyes Kohl Kajal in Taupe
This is one of the easiest colours to throw on when you're in a hurry. It's matte, long lasting and offers light definition that isn't at all harsh. It's a great alternative to dark liner during the day time. 

Favourite for Evening
Mac Pearlglide Intense Eyeliner in Lord It Up
I think that this is my favourite shade of eyeliner but I do have problems with it smudging and transferring so I tend to reserve it for special occasions. I don't think that the product itself is worth the money but it was my first ever Mac purchase (before I knew better) and the colour won me over.

Longest Lasting
Eye of Horus Eyeliner in Nubian Brown*
Generally speaking, Nubian Brown is my favourite eyeliner to wear because once I've applied it I don't have to give it a second thought. It doesn't smudge, transfer or disappear throughout the day and it's a very wearable matte dark brown. I'd highly recommend it.

Most Worn "Coloured" Liner
Gosh Velvet Touch Eyeliner in Fashionista
Recently, I've been experimenting with some eyeliners that aren't my typical black and brown shades and Fashionista is just such a wearable navy that I've been reaching for it more than some of my more neutral options. It's a great drugstore pencil liner, it's creamy and it lasts very well on me - couldn't ask for more.

Natural Options

Green People Eyeliner in Brown and Inika Organic Eyeliner in Black Caviar
If you're into natural makeup then the two eyeliners in my collection that you might like are from Green People and Inika. I've used a couple of Inika's eyeliners in the past and they're soft without super lasting power, but I do feel more comfortable using it around my eye area than other products. Green People's pencil liner is a very new addition to my collection but I like the mid-tone brown shade and the formula seems very nice so far.

Creamiest Formula
Maybelline Master Drama Khol Liner in Charcoal Grey
This is the creamiest eyeliner I've ever tried. It is like butter - but in a good way. It's easy to apply and blend out into a natural looking smokey eye and then it just sets and doesn't budge. It's a really great drugstore option and I'd definitely recommend the grey shade, it's a lovely alternative to black and brown.

Least Creamy Formula

Illamasqua Medium Pencil in Elate
The "hardest" and least pleasant to use formula is (although I'm sad to say it) from Illamasqua. I was really excited to try their white eyeliner but I just don't find myself reaching for it very much as I don't enjoy applying it. 

Least Favourite Overall
Mac Eye Kohl in Smoulder
For a Mac product I find this eyeliner incredibly disappointing. It smudges left, right and centre and seems to have zero lasting power on me. It does offer an incredibly deep black shade, but I never reach for it anymore. You'd be better off going for one of Rimmel's Scandal Eyes Eyeliners or Inika's Organic Eyeliners. 

Would you like to see any of these used in makeup looks? What are some of your favourite or least favourite eyeliners?


The Bloggers Love Hub: What Was It and Should I Get Involved Next Time?

OneLittleVice Beauty Blog: Bloggers Love Hub Review

During the month of November, Danielle from Bloggers Love organised four Bloggers Love Hub events. Once a week she gathered together a variety of brands and a host of bloggers in two of London's particularly trendy clubs, Mahiki and Kanaloa. The Bloggers Love Hub events represented opportunities for brands, PR representatives and bloggers to meet one another (often for the first time) and to network. I would definitely stress that I think the main value of the Bloggers Love Hub events lay in the networking opportunities. It's not often that you get the chance to build face-to-face relationships with so many bloggers and brands. I found that I was introduced to brands that I'm now really interested in but whom I may never have considered based on their social media profiles or product descriptions alone. The Bloggers Love Hub also represented a particularly valuable opportunity for smaller brands to share their ethos and products to a captive audience, and it was a great way for established brands to target new markets or find new bloggers to work with. I've included two "success stories" below.

At the Bloggers Love Hub on Monday November 10th (and again on the 24th) I had the opportunity to talk to representatives from Umberto Giannini who made personalised recommendations of products that I should try. I haven't tried much from the brand before and they're not a brand I'd normal purchase. However, after being gifted products specifically for my hair needs I found a product that I really, really like and would definitely recommend and repurchase. It's opened my eyes to the rest of the brand's range and as a result the brand and their products will definitely be featuring on my blog and social media. 

At the Bloggers Love Hub on Monday November 24th I "discovered" the brand Vita Liberata who I had originally dismissed as merely a "tanning brand" based on their twitter profile. However, at the event I had the opportunity to see their skin illuminators in action and was seriously impressed at the quality of the product and way that it combined a skincare and makeup element. I'm not really interested in working with the brand and based on my experience at the event I'd definitely recommend the brand as one to watch in relevant twitter chats etc. 

One Little Vice Beauty Blog: Bloggers Love Hub Review

Less established brands have also really impressed me - In Situ's bespoke skincare system is a wonderful discovery, Glow Beads offer some really beautiful jewellery that I've already shared a number of times on my Instagram and twitter, and I was impressed with a face mask I tried from Charcoal Spa and it will definitely feature in an upcoming skincare post.

For bloggers, the Bloggers Love Hubs offered great opportunities to meet new people, as well as offering a place to socialise with bloggers that you've met before. I found that although I tried to make the most of networking opportunities I still thought of the weekly events as fun more than anything else, and as a place where I could catch up with blogging friends. The atmosphere was easy, friendly and not too formal. It also offered great blog content as there were fashion shows to photograph, people to ask questions and many products being given away for blog reviews (both beauty items and fashion items). When items weren't being offered, there was always the chance to get on a brand's mailing list which is a fantastic opportunity to start relationships with brands and PR representatives. I attended three out of the four events and found that each one was better than the last and I have every hope that they'll keep on improving, benefitting both bloggers and brands. I wouldn't have personally travelled into London just for the event each week but I know bloggers did make long commutes to attend and I'd love to hear their feedback on whether it was "worth it". All in all, I've had a mainly positive experience with the Bloggers Love Hub events and I'd definitely like to attend similar networking events in the future. 

Thank you to Danielle for all your hard work in organising everything, and another thank you to all the brands who gifted me items and spent time introducing me to their products. And hello to any fellow bloggers who found me via the Bloggers Love Hub events - I'd love to know how you got on at the events this month :)


November 24, 2014

Things You'd Prefer Not to Happen Right Before a Big Date (that have all happened to me)

first date stories

In the spirit of sharing more about myself I thought I'd jump in at the deep end and share some of the awkward and annoyings things that have happened to me before much anticipated dates… 

Being involved in a literal cat fight…
This is the most recent humiliation. It happened in the afternoon before heading out to meet my new crush and I was trying to persuade my cat to vacate the living room to pre-empt his freak out when I turned on the vacume cleaner. Instead of politely obliging me as I would expect from a small creature whose life depends on me, he accidentally scratched my face. I say accidentally because his reaction to being picked up was to flail like an angry sea creature and I suppose he could have ended up scratching me anywhere. I don't know if you've ever tried to cover scratches with make-up… it doesn't work. And having to explain face scratches isn't ever a turn on. fuuuuuu….

"Losing" your house keys… 
That feeling right before you leave your home before a first date with someone new - butterflies. Only, imagine that this is replaced with the stomach dropping realisation that you're locked inside your own home. Twenty-five minutes later after ripping apart my entire flat I realised that they were in the back pocket of my very on-trend at the time treggings. Not only did this mean that I had to come home to what looked like a disaster zone but it also meant that I arrived late and looked a little more on the cave-woman end of the spectrum than I would have liked.

"This bus is on diversion"
This is probably the most frustrating of the three and will be most familiar to Londoners. When you've done everything within your power to get somewhere on time, looking as mighty fine as humanly possible, when you hear that all too familiar gut-wrenching overhead message that "This bus is on diversion" and you're about to end up in god knows where. The only thing that's even worse is when your tube just stops in an underground tunnel with no information on how long you're going to be stuck in the pits of hell, and there isn't even any reception to send a polite heads-up to the poor man waiting for you. London, you have cock-blocked me one too many times!

Please leave me your stories so I can feel part of a larger sorority of dating woe!


Wearing Red: With a Twist

Wearable red makeup ideas

Wearing red during the Christmas season has become somewhat of a tradition. Over the last couple of weeks I've really noticed the predictable surge in the number of rouged lips and scarlet manicures. Now, I'm not against traditional Christmas colours but I am going to suggest three ways that you could wear red that are all a slight twist on what's "traditional". We have to at least try and keep things interesting!

Textured Top Coats
Bring on the red nail polishes by all means but finish off your manicure with an interesting topcoat. I've been loving Seventeen's Glitter Nail Effects Polish in Red*. It just gives my nails a little something extra that helps them stand out from the crowd.

A Flush of Red
If you want an interesting way to incorporate red into your routine then invest in a red cream blush. All you need is a dot on each cheek, blended out with either your fingers or a stippling brush, and you'll have replicated a natural looking flush of colour. My pick is for this look is Illamasqua's Cream Blush in Libido. 

Blotted Lips
I've seen some very "perfect" looking red lips gracing London's streets lately. Whilst they look mightily stylish, a perfect pout requires quite a lot of time and effort. My preference is for a hint of matte red, blotted into the lips. Apply your lipstick, take off excess product with a piece of tissue and then really rub the remaining lipstick into your lips. The final effect is a stain-like finish that's very easy to wear. For this look I like reaching for Rimmel's Kate Moss Matte Lipstick in 101.


November 23, 2014

A-Derma: Skincare for "Difficult" Skin

effective affordable skin care sensitive skin

For the last month I've been trialling A-Derma's skincare range for sensitive, eczema prone skin and I have to say - whole heartedly and with no reservations - that it is a wonderful, wonderful range. I have a really awkward skin-type - it's combination (with starkly dry and oily areas) and it's sensitive - and I've found it difficult to find products that work for all my skin issues. However, I found that the A-Derma products that I've been trialling have really helped to keep my skin soft and smooth with very, very few dry patches (when I'd normally by this point in the year be struggling with almost painfully dry and red cheeks). I've had a couple of problems with spots this month but this is entirely due to hormonal breakouts. Other than this, my skin has been a real dream this month and these products have definitely played a big hand in that. I'll give you a low down on my experience with each product below.

available from Escentual for £13.00*
I found this micellar water gentle whilst still being effective. I don't think that it is the best micellar water I've ever tried but works brilliantly at removing makeup and gently cleansing skin. I'd definitely recommend it to those with sensitive or dry skin, or just anyone looking for a gentle way to remove their makeup including stubborn (although not Benefit They're Real levels of stubborn) eye makeup.

for fragile normal to combination skin, available from Escentual for £14.50*
This is a wonderful moisturiser to use in the morning. It has a very light consistency but offers a good deal of hydration coupled with SPF protection. It works really well under makeup and it's definitely the daytime moisturiser that I've been using the most this month. I found that it didn't leave my t-zone oily throughout the day but kept my cheeks from getting too dry - a perfect product for difficult skin types. This is my second favourite product out of the four.

for normal to combination reactive skin, available from Escentual for £15.50*
Because I've been getting on so well with the Hydralba Light Hydrating Cream and Nturialba Nourishing Cream, the RheaCalm Light Soothing Cream has taken a bit of a backseat and I haven't used it as much as the other products. That being said, it has a really nice consistency - light, but very hydrating - and because it doesn't contain SPF it can be used in both the morning and the evening. Additionally, it is the only moisturiser of the three I tried that isn't scented making it more suitable for those whose skin is sensitive to fragrance. 

for fragile and delicate skin, available from Escentual for £20.00*
This is my favourite of the bunch. It's a really rich and hydrating evening moisturiser but it isn't at all heavy. It straddles a fine line and it gets it so right. I found it perfect for my skin - it isn't going to be what very, very dry skin types need but it works well for those who get dry or tight patches and want something to help even out their skin's needs. Again, it didn't aggravate my skin or give me spots and it didn't leave my t-zone oilier. I really, really need to stress how much I like this. If you have very dry skin then this is also available in a thicker and more nourishing version.

Have you tried anything from A-Derma before? What skincare products are you using at the moment?


November 22, 2014

Tange Teezer: Different Strokes

image of Tangle Teezer Hair Brush Range

I have been seriously lucky on the giveaway front lately. I've never considered myself a very lucky person but recently I've been putting myself out there a little bit more on twitter and entering far more giveaways and it's definitely paying off. I'm not one for hoarding products - it's not the winning itself that I enjoy. What giveaways offer me that I really, really appreciate is the opportunity to try new brands and new products. On this occasion I was lucky enough to win Really Ree's Tangle Teezer Giveaway (which I entered about seven/eight weeks ago) and my prize was the entire Tangle Teezer range.

 It was wonderful timing as I was in the market for a new hairbrush (I've had my current Tangle Teezer for almost eighteen months and it is getting a bit worse for wear). I'm not going to keep all five of brushes for myself, I'm going to keep a couple and pass the others on to some of my family and friends as gifts this Christmas. I know a few people who are going to seriously love these brushes and I feel really privileged to be able to introduce them to a brand that I really like. Before I won the competition I didn't actually know that Tangle Teezer made brushes for children but I know that the Magic Flowerpot is going to make one little girl I know very happy indeed (her birthday is coming up and she'll love it). So I'll end with a very big thank you to Really Ree and Tangle Teezer for this incredibly generous prize and keep your eyes peeled for their future appearances, I'm definitely looking forward to comparing my Original Tangle Teezer to a couple of others in the line!

Have you won anything recently? Have you tried Tangle Teezers before?


Natural Beauty Products: Living Nature Concealer in Light Review

natural beauty products concealer review
natural beauty product concealer review

This month I've been wearing Living Nature's Concealer in the shade Light*. I got mine from MyPure, a great website for shopping for natural beauty products (especially at the moment as they have some great free gifts with purchase). I tried one of Living Nature's lipsticks last month and I really loved it, but I just haven't gotten on so well with this concealer. It isn't "bad" by any stretch of the imagination, but even the lightest shade is just a bit too dark for my skin at this time of year when I'm at my palest - if you have very fair skin then this will be much too dark for you.

Living Nature's Concealer* has a similar scent to another natural concealer that I've tried out - it's quite a heavy scent but it isn't unpleasant. The concealer has a thick, liquid consistency and a little goes a long way. The best way I've found to apply it is by squeezing some onto the back of my hand and using it a little bit like an artist's palette. I dip a brush (usually Real Techniques' Contour Brush) into a dot of concealer and swish it around on the back of my hand. As you blend the concealer out, it lightens considerably and it is essentially to really blend it out onto your skin in order to achieve an even finish.When you apply it to your skin (I've been using it under you eyes and around my nose) it lasts really well and offers medium coverage that doesn't look too thick or heavy. 

natural beauty product concealer review

Overall, I'm really impressed with the performance of the concealer but I do wish that it came in more shades (there are only three) so that I could get more use out of it. For now, I'm resigned to mixing it with another concealer that's lighter in tone to make it wearable. You can find Living Nature's Concealer* online here for £21.00.


November 21, 2014

How I Organise and Run My Blog

Earlier this week I asked on twitter if anyone would be interested in getting an insight into how I organise and run my blog etc. The resounding answer was that these sorts of posts can offer interesting insights into one way of doing things. This is by no means how you should necessarily run your blog, and this isn't a how-to guide on being a blogger, I'm just sharing some of my routines and ways of doing things. 

Blog Posts

Brainstorming and list writing
This is an important part of my blogging experience and it's something I used to do even before I set up my blog. I used to write lists of things I'd want to write about for myself, and now I write similar lists but for writing projects that I share online. A lot of these lists I write by hand but I also make lots of lists on my phone when I'm on-the-go (and, if you were wondering, my phone case - which I love - is from Coggles*). If you want to learn more about this part of my process let me know in the comments, I'm thinking of doing a whole post on how I come up with new ideas.

Taking photographs (in bulk)
I didn't start my blog with photography in mind - it's always been somewhat secondary to my creative process. That being said, successful blogs seem to rely on good photographs and I'm always trying my best to produce photos that suit my content. I try and take between 4-10 blog posts worth of photos at once (depending on how many post idea's I've brainstormed and what setups I need). I usually brainstorm what I want in each photo, how I want it to look etc. before I reach for my camera, I find this saves me time and wasted photos.

Writing up my blog posts
First of all, I upload my photos into Blogger and then I just leave it for a bit. I don't write my posts all in one go. I might write up some bullet points from my brainstorming sessions, or half of a blog post. I'll then come back and slowly flesh out each blog post until I'm happy with them all. This way I'm always working on more than one thing, I always have lots of new content to choose between and if my camera breaks or I'm ill and stuck in bed then there is still work that I'm able to do. I think I write like this because of my university experience with essays and always more than one thing on-the-go. I've come to enjoy multi-tasking, it keeps me from getting bored.

Scheduling - blog posts and tweets
Often I'll finish multiple blog posts at once - this is just how I work. What I usually do is schedule them to go live, one per day, over  a couple of days (I try and post at least once a day at 8am). When I go to schedule my posts this is when I add in all my tags and I label my photos on blogger etc. I also do a last proof read at this stage. Everyday in the evening, I look at what is going to be posted the next day and use Buffer to schedule tweets promoting my new blog post. I also re-promote the blog posts that have been particularly popular that week. Try and include photos in your tweets and tag brands or bloggers you've mentioned in your posts, this all really helps with getting more engagement on twitter which can help with views but also really helps to build working relationships.

Emails and Social Media

Making the most of my time
First thing in the morning I check my twitter and my blog email account and I reply to any messages I've received since I last checked these accounts. I also scan Instagram, and I'm working to introduce Pinterest into my daily social media checklist. It doesn't take long but I try and engage and reply promptly to any and all communication because this is a courtesy I appreciate myself. It's the same with blog comments, although I don't reply to all of them I tweet responses to questions as soon as I can. I find that commenters more likely to actually read their tweets and I like interacting with my readers on social media. If I have limited time, I read all my emails and tweets at once towards the end of the day. Or if I get five minute bursts of spare time, I'll read and respond to them as and when I can throughout the day. 

Participating in Twitter Chats
Twitter chats have always helped my blog to grow. Ever since I discovered them - a couple of months after I first started blogging (which was over two years ago now) - they have been a fantastic way to connect with new people, find new blogs and share my blog with a wider audience. I try and participate in a couple of chats a week, whenever I find time and I don't beat myself up if I miss one. I like to give them my all, talk to as many people as possible, reply to as many tweets as possible - I don't like participating unless I can be fully engaged. I particularly enjoy the #bbloggers chats, which are on Wednesdays and Sundays at 8pm (there is always a noticeable increase in my Google Analytics stats whenever I participate in either of these chats). 

Embracing new working relationships 
My blog allows me to talk to people I will never meet. Blogging is a platform into other peoples' lives, and although much of this is just social some of it can be "work" related as well. There are opportunities galore on the internet, including writing opportunities, reviewing opportunities, and networking opportunities. Since I finished my MA I've really been making me most of anything that comes my way. I don't say yes to everything but I always reply, and when I feel that I have to politely decline an opportunity I try to stress that I'd still love to hear from the person who contacted me again in the future. Don't close off working relationships by ignoring emails or direct messages - and remember that saying no isn't necessarily rude or ungrateful.

My "blog correspondence diary"
I keep word documents that act as diaries for any and all communication I have with PRs and brands. I write a summary of what we speak about, when we spoke about it, products in question, what I have to do as a result of the communication and my deadline for doing it. I keep ones of these documents for every PR or Brand that I work with. For important projects, I also include copies of email correspondence in these correspondence diaries. Since I started accepting more review samples I have had to up the organisation-stakes. It helps me keep my samples, writing projects and emails in order, and saves me time and stress because I know when I'm up to date on everything.


What I do if I really don't get on with a review sample
This is something that you might be interested in - what do I do when I really don't like something that I've accepted for review purposes. Well, first of all, I usually say when I'm accepting something for review that if I really don't like something, or if I have a skin reaction to something meaning that I can't use it, then I will always email the person who sent it to me before posting anything about it. I think it's a courtesy to let the person who's sent me the product know that I really don't like it and to discuss what the the problem might be and whether or not they'd prefer me not to post a review. So far, this hasn't happened to me. I've been lucky - and discerning - and haven't accepted anything that I found to have no redeeming value whatsoever. However, as regular readers will know, I do post negative reviews, even of review samples, but I would feel uncomfortable completely dedicating a whole post to slating something I really didn't like. 

Going to events and meet-ups by myself
I've become used to attending events and meet-ups by myself. It used to make me really nervous but I've grown to enjoy it. Going solo makes me more approachable and means that I can more easily network and find an opportunity to chat to everyone. The more people you get to know - even "superficially" with a shake of the hand and exchange of names - the more people you'll start to recognise at future events and over time you get to know lots of people you might never otherwise meet. Don't be put off by going somewhere alone, if you're really nervous share a tweet that you're worried and see who else might be there to meet you, I've met some really lovely people that way.

Who I talk to and what I talk about
At events and meet-ups I don't just talk to other bloggers, I really like to chat with PRs and brand representatives. I like to ask questions about what they do, what they're looking for when they work with bloggers, why they invited me. It helps me get an idea of what I'm doing "right" from their perspective and can help give me ideas on which are the areas of my blog that I need to work on. I'm also just personally interested in using the amazing opportunities that blogging gives me to learn new things - I want to get the most out of everything and I am very interested in knowing about the other side of the blogging world and the people behind all the emails. Ask questions that you want answers to, and ask questions to get to know the people you're working with. It will only help you and it may well also help the people with whom you talk.

Being "myself"
Recently, my (met-at-an-event, blogger) friend Candy wrote a fantastic blog post about the idea of being three-dimensional and it struck a chord with me. Something I'm always working at with my blog is being "professional" but still trying to get across a sense of "me" and who I am and what my interests are. I don't know if I do it well enough sometimes. I love beauty and I love blogging but my interests are so wide and so varied and I don't share them all on my blog. I don't even know if I'd enjoy sharing them all. I think I would, actually, but it would be tough to write so widely and keep you all interested! I'd love to know your thoughts about this - do you know "me" well enough? I'm all up for getting a little bit more personal and sharing more, it's just hard to know which bits to share. 

This has been a bit of a long one… Did I say anything that struck a chord with you? Do I do things differently to you? Please feel free to ask me more questions for future posts like this, I'm really up for sharing any and all of what I've learnt over the last two years since I started blogging.


November 20, 2014

Moody Makeup: Embrace the Dark Side

red and berry toned makeup look

One popular and recurring autumn/winter trend is to embrace the darker side of the makeup palette, bringing berry and burgundy shades out of the shadows and into the limelight. I'm all for this yearly makeup bag shakeup and these are the products that have made it into my routine.

I've been using the right hand side of my the Balm Nude 'Tude palette quite a lot recently. Despite being wildly out of my comfort zone, the shade "Sexy" is surprisingly wearable. I've been enjoying wearing it smudged along my lash line giving a "soft underline" look.

An easy way to wear darker lip shades is to blot them onto your lips and wear them as a stain. The berry lipstick I've been enjoying this week is Catrice's Lipstick in Berry Bradshaw, and for a dark burgundy pout I always return to Rimmel's Kate Moss Matte Lipstick in shade 107. 

The only polish that's been on my radar this month is Ciaté's paint pot in Dangerous Affair*. It's a wonderful deep, deep red and I've found that it lasts really well on my nails. If you want to invest in a nail polish this autumn/winter then I'd definitely recommend this one.

Have you been reaching for berry and burgundy shades too?


November 19, 2014

Makeup Look: The Soft Underline

Easy to wear eyeshadow look

A couple of days ago I was skimming through Elle (on the look out for beauty bits) when I saw, for the very first time, that a name that had given to a makeup look that I quite like to wear - Elle called it "The Soft Underline". 

The soft underline is a look where instead of wearing bold eyeshadow on your eyelids, you opt for a wash of colour across your lower lash line instead. Kate from Ghostparties often opts for a version of this look in her make-up tutorials, and it gives her eyes incredible definition. The soft underline is great for adding definition but it's also an easy way for those with hooded eyelids to more noticeably inject some colour into their makeup. Eyeshadow often gets lost on me. Because of my hooded lids the colour can't really be noticed until I close my eyes. However, when I choose to apply a sweep of eyeshadow just beneath my lower lash-line the colour can really stand out. 

I've been applying my makeup like this for a long time but I really liked seeing it in Elle as an emerging makeup trend. It made something that's been so familiar for so long seem new and exciting again. 

The image I've included in this blog post is of all the products that I tend to reach for when I wear this type of look. You can instantly see a trend - I like to wear browns. I find brown the easiest colour to wear as its very neutral but still makes my blue eyes stand out. My most worn product is definitely Maybelline's Colour Tattoo in On and On Bronze but I've also recently discovered Wild About Beauty's Eyeshadow in the shade Eva which I love using. Both of these products are warm toned and really help brighten up my complexion. An eyeliner that works well with them is Mac's Pearlglide Intense Eyeliner in Lord It Up (which was my first ever Mac purchase). However, although it's a gorgeous shade it doesn't have the staying power that I would like.

When I want to opt for something slightly cooler toned I reach for E.L.F.'s Eyeshadow in the shade What's Your Name*. It's a very pretty purple toned grey-taupe and it looks lovely over the top of Rimmel's ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal in the shade Taupe or BeYu's Colour Biggie Crayon in shade 330.

Do you ever wear your makeup like this?


Last Week's Lipsticks: HoneyBee Gardens Lipstick in Superstitious Review

lipstick line up

Last week I wore a number of different lipsticks and really enjoyed playing around with some bold shades. When I felt like sporting a bright pink I opted for Oriflame's Fuchsia Hype*. When I wanted a berry lip I chose Revlon's Kissable Balm Stain in Crush. When I wanted red I chose MaxFactor's Colour Elixir Lipstick in Ruby Tuesday. And, finally, when I wanted a really vampy dark purple I opted for my new HoneyBee Gardens Lipstick in the shade Superstitious*. HoneyBee Gardens are a natural beauty brand based in America and their lipsticks are paraben free and full of skin loving ingredients such as coconut oil, shea butter and vitamin E. In the photos below you can see what Superstitious looks like when first applied and what it looks like after the glossiness wears away and leaves behind a stain. 

natural dark berry lipstick
natural dark berry lipstick

It won't be to everyone's tastes but I absolutely love the shade. It's really dark but surprisingly easy to wear as you don't need to add much to it - just a tiny bit of blush and mascara. Although I love the colour, the actual formula of HoneyBee Gardens Lipsticks isn't the best. In the bullet, the lipstick feels very fragile and if I'm not incredibly careful when using it I think it will break and be unusable (which isn't a concern I've had with any of my other lipsticks that I've tried before). Additionally, the formula is also quite patchy which makes it hard to build up an even, opaque finish - and with a shade like Superstitious any unevenness is very noticeable. Long story short, this lipstick is such hard work to use that I'm considering finding the same shade but from another brand who offer a better formula and better packaging. 

I love that HoneyBee Gardens offer on trend colours and that their lipsticks are full of good ingredients. I also love that their lipstick left a slight stain behind on my lips. Based on my overall experience I'd definitely like to try other products from their range, but I can't recommend Superstitious as it just didn't live up to my expectations. 


November 18, 2014

Hair Masks: Moisture vs Protein

akin intensive mositure mask and kerastraight protein mask

I like supplementing my day-to-day beauty routine with little extras. Partly it's because the routine of using face masks and hair masks is something that I enjoy, but really it's because my hair and skin benefit from having a little bit of extra attention throughout the week. 

When I was in my third year of University I hadn't quite learnt how to manage my stress and my body's reaction was hair loss. It wasn't extreme, but it was noticeable and it's had a lasting effect on my hair. Recently I had a hair consultation at Trevor Sorbie's flagship store in Covent Garden and a hair professional explained that my hair wasn't actually "frizzy" as I've been describing it for the last few years, the word she used instead was "fragile". All those little baby hairs (that are happy indicators that my hair is regenerating) may appear as frizz when in fact they're actually just short and delicate newly grown hairs that I need to look after rather than battle against. 

As part of this process I learned an important difference between moisturing hair masks and protein hair masks. Moisturising masks combat dryness and coarseness - they might help with lustreless ends or the dryness brought on by too much central heating or air conditioning. Protein masks, on the other hand, help restore hair by strengthening fragile new growth and working towards repairing the damage caused by heat.

For a long, long time I've assumed that slathering on a hydrating hair mask is all the hair treatment that my hair would ever really need. Well, if you have similarly fragile hair (for whatever the reason) what you might actually need is some sort of protein mask or treatment. When I want to rehydrate the ends of my hair I reach for A'kin's Gingko and Jojoba Intensive Moisture Masque*, but when I want to do an all over restorative protein treatment I've been reaching for KeraStraight's Protein Mask*. It's too soon for me to give this protein mask a full review but I can say that I'm really enjoying using it and I do believe that it will improve the overall condition of my hair.

Do you use a protein hair mask?

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