A Little Trio of Treatments

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Dubbed the 'triple threat facial' by Vivianna Does Makeup, I've been trialing out my own three-step, at-home, skin-loving facial treat consisting of three masks all boasting different skin-improving properties. Not to harp on about it again, but I do suffer from very temperamental skin which causes me a lot of anguish due to hormonal cystic acne, sensitivity and hyperpigmentation. My skin is horribly sensitive and reactive, so I'm always hesitant to try out new products as the introduction of too many new treatments can often leave my skin a little overwhelmed and, as such, throwing a bit of a strop.

However, I've been using this little trio for a good few weeks now and my skin seems to be enjoying its weekly pamper. First up, I start with Avene Cleanance Mask which really works to draw out all of the nasties lurking under your skin, as well as any impurities. This can feel a little sting-y on my sensitive areas, mainly around the nose, and it can leave those areas feeling a little inflamed and angry, so I tend to avoid those areas with this one and instead focus its efforts on my chin, forehead and cheek area. I suffer from breakouts mostly on my chin and jaw area, so I love using a good detoxifying clay mask on these areas to tackle the blemishes from right underneath the skin. This also contains little exfoliating beads which you can scrub off after 10-15 mins, so it always leave your skin feeling super cleansed, smooth as a baby's bum and thoroughly detoxed.

I tend to follow up Avene Cleanance Mask with the Ren Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask which works wonders to chemically exfoliate your skin using fruit enzymes. I was warned that this might be a little much for my sensitive skin to handle, however it hasn't ever left my skin feeling irritated or sore, so I think I'm good! Again, I do refrain from applying this around my nose due to sensitivity. I've reviewed this in full, so I'm not going to go into too much detail. But basically, this leaves my skin feeling plumped up and renewed, and the next morning I'm guaranteed to have a healthy glow.

Finally, I use Super Facialist by Una Brennan Rose Hydrate Intense Moisture Mask to ingest a whole load of moisture back into my skin, leaving it pepped up and feeling softer than a baby's bum. I'm not the world's biggest fan of rose scents, so I don't particularly enjoy using this, but the results are worth the 10 minutes of scrunched up faces as I try not to retch from the smell. This just feels so cool and refreshing on the skin and really injects a punched up dose of moisture back into my skin. The perfect end to my little trio of treatments.

I've found that using masks in conjunction with one another like this seems to really help make them more effective, and my skin is definitely thanking me for it. Do you use face masks in duos, trios or perhaps even quadruples? Let me know!

NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

I picked up this little beauty from Sephora in NYC during the summer and I haven't looked back since. Sephora always have lots of travel sized products displayed as you make your way to the till, which is dangerous for someone like me so I ended up picking this up as it was such a cute little travel size, and perfect to delve into NARS bases since I hadn't tried any before. I bought the shade Alaska without testing it (I was in a bit of a rush, I literally had 2 hours until I had to leave for JFK and I still wanted to check out Central Park!) but luckily, the shade is bang on for my post-summer skin and thankfully my tan is still putting up a fight and I haven't instantly reverted to pale-as-a-sheet white. I've tried tinted moisturizers before, and I wasn't ever overwhelmed by them, so I didn't have high hopes for this offering, however I can safely say that I have been completely and utterly converted. This gives me the perfect amount of coverage, enough to leave my skin still looking like skin, no cakey-ness in sight and a perfectly glowing, radiant complexion. As soon as I tried this, foundation took a major back seat and I haven't looked back since. Paired with my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, this makes for a flawless base that actually boasts some pretty impressive wear time considering it's a tinted moisturizer. I can usually get through a whole day and even when it does start to wear, it doesn't do so in a patchy way and instead, I can just top it up with a little more concealer, a dusting of powder and I'm all set again.

I've been using this a lot since I bought it and, considering it's travel sized, it's lasted me pretty damn well. I feel like I've already committed myself to repurchasing the full size, and that's pretty rare for me as I'm not usually particularly devoted to any one base as I find myself constantly flitting between newer offerings - I'm a fickle being, really. NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer, you've changed me!

It's Okay To Be A Drop-Out

Thursday, 5 December 2013

I am a university drop-out. What's more, I am a second time university drop-out. Today, young people have it drilled into them: after school, you must go to university, you must get a degree, you must face tens of thousands of pounds of debt and eventually, you might not even get that dream job you've got your heart set on. University is not for everyone, and I'm a huge advocate that young people need to be given other options that don't involve them being laden with unwanted debt, stress and all of the other hardships that go along with forcing yourself into a degree. The first time I went to university I was 18, it was my first time away from home and I was totally up for a year of freedom, partying and exploiting my new-found independence to the max. I chose a course that I wasn't exactly passionate about, purely for the fact that I felt I had to go to university, neglecting the fact that this meant studying something I wasn't bothered about for 4 years and ultimately having nothing to show for it. I left that course after first year because, despite passing my assignments and exams, I realised that I couldn't see myself studying something I hated for 4 years and being stuck with a degree I didn't want or need at the end of it. The hardest part of leaving university was telling my parents, who I anticipated would be disappointed beyond belief. Granted, they were a little disappointed, but they understood that I was 18, hadn't a clue what I wanted to do with my life, and they supported me.

I spent the next few years dipping in and out of various courses, jobs and generally being a bit flaky in most aspects of life. Finally, at the grand old age of 21, I realised that what I wanted to do with my life, and what I'd always subconsciously wanted to do, was to write. I promptly applied for a journalism degree and, content with my decision, I moved to the other end of the country and started a whole new, slightly terrifying, life. I didn't know anyone down south, and I felt instantly disconnected with the university, the town and the people. Despite this, I found myself really enjoying the course - more so than any other course I've tried, which is surely a positive sign. I was flying through assignments and feeling increasingly confident with my choice of career. Until, that is, I had a sudden realisation that I was getting myself into a hell of a lot of debt for something that might not even be worth it. Whereas when I studied in Scotland, tuition fees were nothing but a non-issue, the move to England brought me down to earth with a jolt - a £9000 a year jolt, to be exact.

I've spent all week um-ing and ah-ing over whether or not I could justify this and, as much as I would love to get a degree in journalism, I've found another option which is much more sensible. The decision was actually more terrifying this time round, I had to leave my seminar in tears to ring my mum and I broke down on the phone. I was so scared of disappointing everyone yet again, I was scared of proving everyone right who said I wouldn't "stick this one out" but the relief that washed over me when I told my mum my concerns was massive. I've come to the conclusion that university just isn't for me, and as scary and stressful as that is, it's okay. Bearing in mind that graduate prospects are dwindling, I fear for those who undertake degrees purely to prove a point or because it's what they are "supposed" to do or because it's what their family wants them to do. Young people need to be shown that there are more options than just going to university, whether that's working or travelling or apprenticeship schemes or whatever the hell makes you happy.

Forcing myself into taking a route that I felt obligated to take was probably the worst, and most expensive, mistake that I've made so far in life. And I'm sure I'm not alone in this. I know plenty of people who have left university, opting for more vocational routes into their chosen industry. I may not have earned a degree, but I have learnt a lot through my time at university. Do what makes you happy, never make decisions to pacify others and always, always, always trust your instincts. University is not the be all and end all that it's made out to be.

MAC Bare Study

Monday, 25 November 2013

For my first foray into the realm of MAC eye products, I decided to go for a tried and true cream eyeshadow. Luckily, I stumbled across this little pot in a blog sale and picked it up for a bargainous price. I'd heard Bare Study being raved about so much in the little ol' blogosphere, so I have to say I did have pretty high expectations. But I'm pleased to report that these expectations were definitely met. MAC Paint Pots are essentially little pots of cream eyeshadow which provide highly pigmented, budge-proof washes of colour. Bare Study is a fairly standard champagne toned, shimmery neutral shade which you can't really go wrong with. I tend to use it either on its own to brighten up my eyes a bit, or in conjunction with some smokey bronze colours. The longevity of this stuff is pretty incredible, and I've been reaching for it almost daily since I got it which is impressive considering I'm not much of an eyeshadow girl.

All round, this is a perfect introduction into the world of MAC Paint Pots, and I'll be sure to pick up some more shades when I get the chance!

Working at summer camp

Monday, 18 November 2013

Oh summer camp, where do I even begin? Friendship bracelets, campfires, song sessions, watching the sunset down at the lake, village initiations, Shabbat celebrations... I could go on. If you've ever been curious about working at a summer camp in the USA or you're considering applying, read on. My application process was a little different as I applied pretty late and it was all very rushed. I'd always fancied doing a Camp America type thing, but life always got in the way and I just never got round to it. Late last year I started really looking into it, and I applied through an agency called Camp Leaders in January. Before I knew it, I'd completed my application, had my interview and I was ready to be placed. This meant that camps could view my online profile and decide whether or not they would like to interview me for a position at their camp. Camp Leaders hold 2 recruitment fairs where summer camp directors from all over the states fly over to England and hold interviews right then and there - this means you can get hired on the spot. I was lucky enough to be hired at the Manchester job fair as an outdoor cooking specialist at Camp Chi in Wisconsin.

By the time June 6th rolled around, I think everyone was sick to death of hearing me harp on about how many days I had left to go and breathed a little sigh of relief when it was time for me to finally board that plane to Chicago. I was excited and nervous and scared to death all at once. I arrived at camp late at night where we were piled into the dining hall to get our bedding and say hello. We were all shattered, jet lagged and a little disorientated, so the first few hours were just a blur. We dragged our suitcases along the muddy paths to our new homes for the next 12 weeks, which was more than a shock to the system for me. The cabins were basic, which is to be expected for a summer camp. We were lucky enough to have electricity, running water and traditional wooden cabins which slept around 12-15 campers plus 3 staff members. I vividly remember my first night in the cabin. I stumbled into the room to find 4 other girls already unpacked, so I mumbled hello and chose my bed. Climbing into my bunk bed, I was scared to touch anything in case there were bugs, and I barely slept because I was so paranoid about spiders or other creepy crawlies. Even using the toilet was traumatic that first night - I learned very quickly to always wear flip flops to the bathroom.

Details aside, I got used to the cabins very quickly and before long I was hurtling myself into my bunk without worry. It wasn't a big deal to pull back your blanket before you went to sleep, find a bug hiding in there and ping it out before dozing straight off to the land of nod. Staff training week geared all of us up for what was to come, as best as it could. I can safely say that none of us could be prepared for the arrival of the kids. The day the buses arrived was crazy and hectic and stressful. Around 300 kids arrived in the space of hours - some of them were scared, but most of them were squealing bundles of excitement. I didn't have a huge amount of experience with children, so at first I was hesitant and actually a little scared - I didn't know how to interact with them or how to get them excited about our lessons. Eventually, I realised that you really can have great conversations with the kids, they were funny and intelligent and they often had me in tears of laughter and of course when summer ended, tears of sadness.

Days at camp are long. Don't go to camp expecting to have a laugh, get a tan and not really do much work. I rarely saw 6 hours of sleep and there was always something to do - lazy day is definitely not in the camp vocabulary. I worked in outdoor cooking which meant I was building and lighting fires and teaching kids to cook on them. In 30-odd degree heat, this was pretty demanding to say the least! But on my hour off or any free time I had, I could chill out by the pool, go kayaking or waterskiing, go horseriding or simply head back to my cabin for a little nap. When the day was over, the kids had extra activities at night that you could join in with, and if you weren't on duty then you were usually free to do what you wanted. Usually that involved laundry, a Walmart trip or just chilling in the staff lounge with a movie.

Camp Chi is a Jewish camp, so we did have a few little quirks compared to your average American camp. For example, after every meal we would sing the Birkat and there was a lot of dancing on the tables - we didn't believe in letting your food settle, to say the least. Every Friday night was the Shabbat services and subsequent song session, and Saturday was Shabbat so us specialists had the day off which was much needed by the end of a stressful week.

The best thing about camp is that you spend each day living and working with your best friends and contributing to the kids having a great summer. The worst thing is that it has to end. You know from day one that it's going to end, but nothing can actually prepare you for that. The day the kids left was absolutely horrible, we were all distraught but we tried our hardest to hold it together in front of the kids - safe to say when the buses finally left, I had cried more than a few tears.

I've made some true friends for life at camp, and I can now say that I have friends all over the world which is just amazing. If you're considering applying for camp 2014, then I would say 100% go for it. It was such a life changing experience for me and I learnt so much about myself, not to mention experiencing a whole different culture and gaining invaluable skills. Every single camp is different, but I haven't heard of one person who went to camp and didn't enjoy it. You might have moments of doubt where you think "what am I doing here?" but when a kid comes up to you and gives you a hug and a friendship bracelet and tells you how much they look up to you, you forget all of the negative things and realise just how lucky you are to be doing what you're doing.

I vividly remember during a sneak-out with the kids we headed down to the cove, lit a camp fire, ate s'mores and I ended up laying on the sand gazing at the stars. I was surrounded by huge trees, a glistening lake and hundreds of twinkling stars shining down on me. The girls were whispering in the background, telling each other all of their deepest secrets, giggling about boys and others were quiet like me. It's moments like those that make you sit back and take everything in, realise what you have and what others don't. It puts everything into perspective. After a horrible year last year, I think I was the happiest and most content I'd been in a long time when I was at camp, and I've taken that attitude back home with me. I'll always be grateful for the opportunity I had, and for taking it with both hands, and if you're considering it then you should too.

Current Skincare Basics

Monday, 11 November 2013

Since coming back from America, my skin has decided to throw a little tantrum (not that I can blame it) at the change in environment and climate. I've had to completely overhaul my skincare routine in an attempt to pacify my skin as it throws all sorts of problems at me - cystic acne breakouts and increased sensitivity to name just a few. The sun and simplified skincare routine in America seemed to work wonders for my skin, but perhaps the reintroduction of my whole skincare stash proved a little too much too soon and so I've been working on a new skincare routine which is a lot simpler and more compact product-wise.

With my Origins Zero Oil cleanser on its last legs, I decided to try a new cleanser from Aesop. The Fabulous Face Cleanser is actually targeted at slightly dry, sensitive skin but its olive oil base seems to work in soothing my irritated skin, leaving it feeling baby soft without a hint of dryness or tightness that some cleansers can leave. It doesn't really foam up, which I'm not used to, but it does clean away all traces of dirt and oil. I haven't been using this for terribly long yet, but I do have high hopes for this cleanser. If anything, it looks super pretty chilling in its pharmacy style glass bottle by my sink.

Toner-wise, I've reverted back to LUSH Tea Tree Water which I strayed away from over the past few months. It's packed with tea tree and this usually is a wonder for me in sorting out troubled, blemished skin so I'm hoping it doesn't let me down this time. I spray a good 8-10 sprays on a cotton pad, swipe all over my face and get on with the rest of my routine. I have been alternating this with an exfoliating toner, but that's a whole other post in itself...

I'm trying to limit the different numbers of serums and treatments that I'm using, at least until my skin is back in check, but I've been trying out HealGel Face* for a good few weeks now and it's something that I'm thoroughly enjoying. I use this both morning and evening after toning and before moisturiser. It's essentially an anti-ageing treatment, but it also claims to help with uneven skin tone which is right up my street. It's a gel-cream consistency and sinks into my skin beautifully, leaving it feeling so soft and hydrated.

In my new simplified skincare routine, I wanted a moisturiser that wasn't too heavy or rich, but equally I need something that does pack a bit of a moisture punch now that we're getting into the colder months. Origins GinZing Moisturiser does just that. Again, it's a gel-cream consistency which my oily skin just loves. It makes for the perfect base to apply my makeup as it does sink in quickly, but I'm not totally sold on the energy boosting claims. It's still early days with this one, so I'll be sure to report back...

Of course, alongside this skincare arsenal I've been trying out spot treatments like nobody's business and I'm still struggling to find something that lives up to its claims.

What do you do when your skin throws a tantrum? Do you have any go-to products? Help me!

Intellicig Electronic Cigarette

Friday, 8 November 2013

This post is a little different to the usual beauty ramblings going on here, but it's something quite personal and I hope it will help at least a few people somewhere out there. I am a smoker. It's not something I ever intended to be, and least of all something I'm proud of. I started smoking on and off when I was around 14, and I've "quit" more times than I can count over the years. The only really successful time I managed to quite was back in January when I went cold turkey and managed to stay off the cigarettes for a good 7 months before caving again whilst in the USA over the summer. It felt amazing to go through each day not craving a cigarette, not stinking of stale tobacco smoke and having an irritating constant cough. I could kick myself for starting up again, but unless you're a smoker you won't understand just how easy it is to get hooked time and time again. I'm determined to stop smoking again for health reasons, financial reasons and well, every reason under the sun - there isn't one positive reason to smoke for me anymore.

I received a couple of electronic cigarettes from Intellicig to trial and review, which couldn't have come at a better time. This brand of electronic cigarettes are made in the UK and uses ECOpure e-liquid. Each cigarette contains around 350 puffs which is the equivalent of 35 regular cigarettes. These are disposable, so you don't need to worry about charging or refilling. I've been using these as a replacement for smoking for the past couple of weeks, and I have to say I'm impressed. I always thought this type of thing was a bit of a gimmick if I'm honest, but the action of actually picking up the 'cigarette', inhaling and then seeing the 'smoke' (vapour) afterwards is strangely satisfying. I much prefer the rich variation to the regular, as I don't really get much at all from the regular. If you're considering quitting smoking (you should!) then I'd really recommend trying this product as it's the one thing helping me from going insane or, alternatively, eating the entire kitchen right now. Smokers, I'm sure you'll understand...

Lily Lolo Shimmer Stripes

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

I'm always on the hunt for products which promise to give my skin a healthy glow, especially now that summer is over and my skin is suffering from some cold weather dullness. Lily Lolo is a mineral cosmetics brand which offer a whole host of beauty products with one thing in common - natural. I've become a little bit of a convert to natural products recently, so this brand seems right up my street. All of their products are free from parabens, perfumes and dyes and what's even better is they're cruelty free! Lily Lolo's Shimmer Stripes are part of their new Classic and Metallics Collection, alongside some gorgeous eyeshadow palettes. The shade Rose Glow contains 5 stripes of various shades, all centred around providing a rosy, pink-toned glow to the cheeks - the clue is in the name!

Packaging wise, the compact looks pretty slick and contains a decent sized mirror. It feels quite heavy and luxe, so I reckon it'll be pretty sturdy for carrying around. The consistency felt a little strange to me. It wasn't soft and buttery, and I had to work my brush a little more to get a decent pay-off but that might be due to my inexperience of working with mineral products perhaps? The product also has an odd scent, but again that might just be me. It's not hugely pigmented, but with a product like this you don't really need it to be. I use this on top of my regular blusher to give an added dimension of rosy glow-y goodness. It did take me a little while to work out how to use this, I must admit! I guess you could call it a hybrid between a blusher and a highlighter, but once you've gotten your head around that, it's a little gem.

Shimmer Stripes also come in the shade Honey Glow which is a more bronze-toned palette.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

Sunday, 13 October 2013

nars radiant creamy concealer vanilla
nars radiant creamy concealer vanilla
nars radiant creamy concealer vanilla

I'm sure we've all heard the hype surrounding this little tube of concealing goodness, and I'm no exception. I had never intended to spend £21 on concealer, as my favourite Collection number was doing a more than fine job, but I spied this at duty free on my way home from New York last month and as I had some spare dollars left, I decided to treat myself. I picked up the shade 'Vanilla' which is ever so slightly too light for my post-America skin at the moment, but it'll be the perfect shade as my tan fades over the winter-y months. As usual, the typical NARS packaging is gorgeous. The rubbery black end does get a little mucky looking, but it's easily wiped clean. Offering high coverage with no caking and a super lightweight feel, this concealer is pretty much a winner. The consistency is perfect for the under-eye area as it isn't heavy at all, but the high coverage also makes it great for use on blemishes or, in my case, any red areas or scars. I use this alone with a little powder on lazy days and I find it gives the perfect amount of coverage for me.

So, is it worth the hype? Definitely. Am I willing to shell out £21 when this runs out? Maybe not. I'm sure there are drugstore alternatives which are just a fraction of the price, and as a skint student I am making it my mission to find one before this runs out... Challenge accepted!


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