Spring Beauty Wishlist

After moving house more times than should ever be necessary this year, I had to pare it back with the beauty spending a little. But that didn’t stop me thirsting over just about everything I saw, oh no sir-ee. Here’s my Spring Beauty Wishlist! If you’ve tried any of these babies, please let me know in the comments! And link me if you’ve written a post on them :)

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Korres Equisetum Deodorant: I was having a little Sephora session when I came across this beautiful little tube. I’m always on the look out for a nice deodorant as I don’t use anti-perspirant, and I loved this formulation – bisabolol is a calming agent and equisetum is a herb that protects and deodorises.

Origins Make a Difference+ Treatment Lotion: My skin doesn’t really get dry unless I piss it off with harsh products, but it gets dehydrated really easily. I love the idea of using a toner to boost hydration, and I’ve read wonderful things about this one!

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush: I’ve been desperate to try this FOREVER. I’m still kicking myself for forgetting about it last time I went to New York. I love blushes because I don’t really have time to highlight or contour in the mornings, so blushes are my only way of getting some definition on my face. I love everything about this one – and yes, this is the colour I’d choose. I wanna go BOLD.

Origins Original Skin Mask: Ok I admit I was initially drawn to the packaging when I saw this in a shop. Then it was the gorgeous scent. Then it was the pun in the name. And THEN I finally decided to be responsible and actually read what it was for. At the time my skin was in a really good place and I didn’t need anything like this, but after being indoors with the heating on all winter and going through a period of excruciating stress, my skin is rubbish and I definitely need this!

Rose Waterfull Mask: This is thanks to a post by Little Miss Fii who’s gorgeous pictures instantly convinced me that I needed it in my life immediately. After reading up on the ingredients I was even more desperate to try it. I rarely use products with acids in them, and would like to get my skin used to them so I can fade a couple of pesky scars. I really think a hydrating formula like this would be the perfect way, especially since it’s Korean so I immediately trust it!

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser: Who doesn’t want this, I mean come on. From what I’ve read it sounds like the best cleanser ever to exist. The only question is…how in the hell do I get hold of it?!

A’Pieu Bal Cheek Blusher: Another lovely blogger, Jasmine at Kkochsongi wrote a post on this and it sounds SO adorably lovely. In spring I would really like to dial the makeup down a bit, but being very pale I need some colour to my cheeks all the time. This is how I’m justifying putting TWO blushers in my wishlist.

Herborist Invigorating All-Day Body Lotion: I’ve been curious about this Chinese brand for ages, ever since stumbling across them on Feel Unique. Unfortunately, I can’t find their ingredients list or any reviews, so I’m a bit apprehensive about buying it, but perhaps I should just be brave and go for it?!

NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint: Another ‘who on earth doesn’t want to try this’ product. I ADORE All Day Luminous Finish Foundation from NARS and have used it for over a year. In the warmer months though, I would love to give a skin tint a whirl, and can’t think of a brand I trust more!

What are you dying to try? Anything I should have added?

 

 

Elizabeth Arden Fragrance Free Eight Hour Cream

I am SO disappointed in this product. I don’t write negative reviews very often, because it doesn’t feel good, but I recently realised that it really wasn’t fair to people who are trying to work out whether or not they should spend money on something. So, here we go…

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The product claims are promising. It’s supposed to help moisturise flaky skin, dry hands and cracked lips, you can use it to shape brows, (though I have no idea what this brings to the table that an eyebrow pencil would not) and to ‘revitalise shine’ (I’m assuming this translates to ‘makes you shiny’).

Over the Christmas period I was getting a few flaky patches on my face, and being a sensitive skinned individual, I decided to try the Fragrance Free version of Eight Hour Cream. I have to say, I completely swallowed the hype. Looking at the ingredients now (salicylic acid, lanolin, petroleum jelly, corn oil, vegetable oil, castor oil and two plant extracts, one of which doesn’t have any skincare benefits – seriously, tonka bean extract is JUST a perfume) I don’t know why I bought it, I should have known better.

My skin was not happy about it. First of all, it did nothing but make my lips and hands sticky when I tried it as a lip balm/hand cream, and it smells vile. I put it all over my face as planned, for three nights in a row. I used it for three nights despite hating the texture and smell because I wanted to give it a fair chance at getting rid of my dry patches. Well, they actually got worse. Plus, by the end of the three nights the rest of my face was red, oily and I was starting to get spots. Usually, I have a very even complexion, and spots are a rarity.

I think perhaps I had too-high expectations for this legendary product. I’ve used it as a foot cream a few times since and it’s very nice for that, but I haven’t liked it for anything else. I know some people say they use it for eczema but I tried that on my hands and it made me so itchy! It could just be that my skin really is quite sensitive, and a thick balm with salicylic acid in it (although I really did think the simple base would make it ok!) just isn’t going to work for me no matter what. Either way, Elizabeth Arden’s Fragrance Free Eight Hour Cream is just like every other multipurpose balm, but with a ridiculous £26 price tag and a dreadful smell. You’re much better off spending a tenner on some Weleda Skin Food because at least that smells good and will actually do something about flaky patches.

What do you think of Eight Hour Cream? Did I use it wrong? What do you use it for? If you’re looking for a good multipurpose product, here are some links to a couple I’d recommend:

Lush Elbow Grease

Dr Paw Paw Balm

How to talk to a doctor about your vagina

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. Women everywhere are taught that their bodies, sexuality, and as a consequence, genitals, are dirty. We’re taught that enjoying our bodies is sad and wrong, that periods are disgusting and that unless you’re as trimmed as a porn star, no man will ever eat you out. So it’s NO SURPRISE WHATSOEVER that it’s hard to talk to a stranger, face to face, about an issue you might be having between your legs. I’ve been there – and I broke through the apprehension, so I thought I’d share with you how I did it…

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  1. Be honest with yourself. I don’t mean that in the sense of asking yourself why you’re nervous about talking to a doctor about your vajajay. What I mean is DON’T put off seeing a doctor. Don’t tell yourself that it’s nothing. If you are worried about your body, then you have a responsibility to yourself to do something about it. Make that appointment!
  2. You can always request a female doc if that makes you feel better. If it does, go for it! For the record I’ve had a lot of male doctors and nurses talk about/look at my vag and it was exactly the same. They all have the same level of education, they all ask you the same questions.
  3. The hardest part of talking to a doctor is the beginning. When you start, you’ll get a twinge of ‘oh god what if I blush’, but just push through. Even if you do blush! Like, they’re a doctor, they probably won’t even notice because they’ll be listening to you describe your symptoms.
  4. Remember that you do not need to feel ‘bad’ or ‘guilty’ talking to a doc about your vagina, or even asking them to look at it. Yes, you CAN ask a doctor to look at it. It is EXACTLY the same as asking them to look at a mole. Every GP in the world has has been elbow deep inside a human body on multiple occasions. I cannot begin to express how unfazed they will be by your vagina.
  5. Make eye contact. If you pretend that you aren’t feeling awkward, then it magically becomes not awkward. Honestly! If you don’t have a problem with eye contact usually, then this is a really useful way of forcing yourself to be comfortable.
  6. It’s normal to feel exposed or uncomfortable on an exam table. Especially if it’s cold! Just remember that feeling a bit uncomfortable is worth it to know that everything’s fine, and even more worth it if everything turns out NOT to be fine.
  7. If you’re having an examination, relax your muscles, control your breathing and count the ceiling tiles. You’ll barely even notice that speculum going in! (Jokes)
  8. Even if you can’t make yourself feel at ease, it doesn’t matter. A doctor sees people at the worst times in their life. Elderly people who can’t remember where they are. Women who have just lost a baby. Alcoholics with liver cirrhosis. I’m not belittling your concern (remember, I’ve been there), what I’m doing is reminding you that being able to walk in, tell a doctor what’s happening and have them look at it? That is a privilege. Even if you have to stare at your shoes the entire time.

I wanted to write this post because I know a lot of people are worried about discussing their vagina with a stranger. I hope this made you feel better and inspired you to book that smear test, get that lump looked at, or ask your doctor why you’re having pain during sex. You have a right to free healthcare, and your vagina is damn important!

I can prove that make-up is feminist

I don’t think we place enough weight on the role that socialisation (learning to fit into the society we’re born in) plays in the development of our personality. We know that socialisation is important to our development, but what I’m not sure people understand is that when you’re brought up to want something (and you don’t end up rebelling against it), you genuinely want it. It’s not performative and it’s not lying to fit in. Society doesn’t just make us feel like we want something, it actually makes us want it. 

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For example, if you want to wear a white dress at your wedding, you want it because society told you to. But you also GENUINELY WANT IT, as honestly as I want a cup of coffee right now, or I wanted a shower when I woke up. Every fibre of the ‘what do I want to wear to my wedding’ part of your brain wants that dress. Being told that you shouldn’t have one is akin to being told that you aren’t allowed to have a cup of coffee. Your wants and needs are being denied, and it feels bad because they are real wants and needs.

I first started thinking about this because I couldn’t understand why it was that I liked make-up and pretty dresses so much. I wasn’t raised to like them, in fact my fairly radical parents went to great lengths not to expose me to gendered behaviour. Yet, there were influences. I still watched TV, I still knew what make-up was and who it was for. A child’s desire to fit can easily make it attracted to a certain toy, way of speaking, item of clothing or type of behaviour. I wanted to wear make-up when I was older, I felt a burning desire for a really pretty dress, and yes, it was because my friends and the women on TV had them.  I’d learned that make-up and dresses make you pretty, so I felt pretty in them. Kinda sheds a light on why we find it SO difficult to define beauty, doesn’t it!?

When we criticise something like make-up as ‘anti-feminist’ or damaging to women in some way, we are wrong. To say that would be to say that I am not allowed to do something that makes me feel good. We can’t simply overcome the way we were raised, especially when it’s something as relatively unimportant as putting stuff on your body to feel good. Getting a career, maintaining our mental health, enjoying life, these things are far more important. Let’s go back to the first example I gave; the white wedding dress. I’ve spent a lot of time being vehemently against them. However, after thinking about the idea that the ‘wants’ we learn from society are real and valid, I realised that actually, if you want a white wedding dress, it would be hurtful to hear someone say it was a bad thing. The white dress is steeped in the history of female oppression. It was wrong that society taught you to idolise it. But it is not wrong for you to want it. The same is true of nearly every ‘feminine’ behaviour that one might claim to be a result of a misogynistic society. Taking the man’s last name? Stay at home mums? Taking sexy photos? Think of anything you like. It isn’t just that women have been told they should want these things. They really want them.

At this point, it sounds like I’m being really patronising. ‘Leave women alone to do all the silly things they like doing, they’re not hurting anyone’ … but actually no, it’s much more important than that. We live in a society where we are simultaneously praised and put down for doing things that we want to do. We should have sex when men want us to, but if we have sex too much we’re sluts. We shouldn’t dress in revealing clothes but if a woman covers her hair she’s being oppressed. Society is not on our side, because society is not angled towards women’s wants and needs. I can’t think of a better way of telling society to fuck off than picking a few of the things it taught me to like and celebrating the shit out of them. I will tell you how beautiful you look in your wedding dress because it’s true, I will try to recreate that YouTube make-up look, and I will argue until I’m blue in the face about a woman’s right to cover, or uncover her body in front of others.

Counter examples, where people are raised to think, or want something that negatively impacts other people, only serve to highlight how ridiculous it is that we sanction harmless desires like wearing make-up. Being raised as a racist? A homophobe? These are serious problems, and honestly, I think a lot of people who have these feelings may need real help. You do not need counselling because it makes you feel good to post sexy instagram pictures.

It doesn’t matter whether society taught you to like something, hours of deep thinking taught you to like it, or it came ready made in your brain at birth. If you like it, do it, wear it, live it. Celebrate other women for doing the things that make them feel good, so we can finally enjoy ourselves without society’s permission.

What do you think? I would love to hear some feedback on this!

 

Spectrum Brushes – The Glam Clam

For the longest time I was of the opinion that make-up brushes should be bought as cheaply as possible. However, after receiving Spectrum Collection’s STUNNING Glam Clam set as a gift from my boyfriend, I’ve gone completely full circle and I am now OBSESSED with these beautiful, premium, incredible brushes.

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They give the most gorgeous finish imaginable, and I’ve done a little demo to show you just how good they are. I’ve never found the time to get into makeup, so it doesn’t usually get more complicated than foundation-powder-brows-blush. But after getting these babies? I may even attempt some of the looks I’ve seen on YouTube! Let’s have a closer look at this adorable perfection…

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Here are the brushes I used:

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I used the large flat buffer for my foundation, the lip liner for my concealer, large domed powder for powder (obviously), the fine detailer for my eyes and the small angled blush for my blusher.

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The thing that struck me about these to begin with was how soft they are. I’d been using the same cheap brushes for years so these felt like fairy kisses in comparison. The large domed powder blush literally bounces off your face as you use it, and it’s SO soft. The small angled blush gives a really soft-focus colour application, and the large flat buffer is resilient but still really soft when you’re patting foundation in – my skin is so delicate that some brushes I have actually scratch my skin, enough for it to be uncomfortable, but these are absolutely wonderful.

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Top left is make-up free, then with concealer dotted on any blotches and blemishes, then after foundation, then after powder. I know I’m making stupid faces – these were my first dslr selfies! I love the even finish the brushes give – I know it was the brushes because I’ve had the same make-up routine for the past three months at least, and it never looks this good!

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Here’s my finished face, with eyebrows, eyes, cheeks and lips. I am SO impressed with the small angled blush brush too, it distributed the blusher perfectly.

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I know that at £60, the full Glam Clam set is definitely a luxury, and I would never have been able to justify buying it myself (thank you boyfriend!) but if you’re looking to treat yourself with some brushes, this is absolutely the way. I mean, look at how beautiful they are. It’s like having art on your make-up table. Spectrum also sell gorgeous individual brushes and smaller sets, so if you’re on a budget you should definitely check those out! But really, why not go big or go home, because if you do, your dressing table could look like mine ;)

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Have you ever tried Spectrum Brushes? What did you think?

REN Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk

Let me tell you a little story about REN and this cleanser.

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I went to Scotland a couple of months ago, and when we were halfway up the motorway I realised I’d forgotten my bottle of Gentle Cleansing Milk. I panicked (you’ll understand why later), and tried to use REN’s store locator on my phone, but with the shoddy signal it wouldn’t load. So, I took to twitter…

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Just a couple of minutes later, REN replied:

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I loaded the address into my phone, and an hour later we were back on the road (because we stopped for lunch too, obviously) with a new bottle of Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk in my bag! Thank you REN!

So anyway, you’ve probably worked out that I have some pretty strong feelings about Gentle Cleansing Milk by now. Here’s why.

This cleanser has not only cleared up the red patches I was getting because of sensitivity, it’s also smoothed out flakiness, improved my skin’s radiance, AND kept blackheads and oil at bay. This is an absolute powerhouse of a cleanser, and when you look at the ingredients it’s easy to see why!

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To nourish the dryness so commonly associated with sensitive skin, Gentle Cleansing Milk has sesame oil, sunflower oil and shea butter, three rich oils that are easily tolerated by reactive skin.

Calendula and geranium extracts are both gentle antibacterials, so help to keep the skin healthy and promote healing – something that sensitive skin needs more than most. Then fennel extract helps to decongest and reduce puffiness, while chamomile soothes and calms. Finally, ho wood oil helps to relieve irritations by cooling the skin.

As for radiance? Blackcurrant seed oil helps to reduce roughness and has a rejuvenating affect on the skin, while oryzanol (rice bran extract) is great for sun damage and as it’s easily absorbed, can have a lasting affect on the condition of the skin even in a cleanser. Then there’s Sea Buckthorn extract, which is fantastic for radiance, with high concentrations of vitamins A, C and E as well as omegas and anti-oxidants.

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The texture is wonderfully thick and creamy, which makes it a joy to massage into the skin, and the scent is beautiful – it’s like a warm, slightly floral scent with a bit of a woody undertone. Another thing I love about this cleanser is that it’s quite versatile in terms of removal. You can rinse it off like I do, but you can also use a face cloth or cotton pads if your skin is very dry and you can’t use tap water on it. This is such a good option to have!

If you have sensitive skin and you’re looking for a fuss-free, gorgeous, and not-too-expensive product to leave your skin perfectly clean without being stripped of oil, I cannot recommend REN’s Gentle Cleansing Milk enough! Get it here – link

Book review: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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One of the most engaging, vivid and interesting books I’ve read for a long time, Purple Hibiscus is an incredible ‘coming-of-age’ story about fifteen year old Kambili, daughter of a wealthy Nigerian businessman. I describe her in this decidedly non-feminist way because this is how she appears to see herself for much of the book. Her father is the sun around which her family revolves and having an identity of her own isn’t just something she isn’t allowed, it’s a concept that would never even have occurred to her. Until, that is, life throws Kambili and her brother into the life of their Aunty, the brilliant Ifeoma, and her spirited children.

I think my favourite aspect of the book has got to be the characters and the way they each influence Kambili in a unique way. Her tyrannical father, the quiet developments taking place under the skin of her brother Jaja, the gloriously intelligent teenage anger of her cousin Amaka, the budding philosopher in her cousin Obiora, and the quiet, heartbreaking tragedy of her mother, these are fantastically written, deeply complex people, who all have a part to play in unfolding the story, and enabling Kambili to wake up into her own person.

Another aspect that I absolutely adored were the intellectual conversations taking place around Kambili, about colonialism, nationhood, westernisation, racism and corruption, without her actually joining in or having an opinion about them. I thought this was a neat little trick of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who let’s not forget, is a very important figure in the field of modern feminism. It is a joy to read these parts because they were written by someone who really, really knows what she’s talking about. Like watching an interview with an actor who indulges the audience by slipping into their best known character for a moment, except here, Adichie is sharing her brilliant insights into deeply important topics.

At it’s heart, this is a story about people in pain, and it is a moving, thought-provoking, intelligent and compulsive read. This story tugs at everything in you, and you simply must read it.

Have you already read Purple Hibiscus? What did you think? Put a spoiler warning at the top of your comment and let’s talk about it!!