Tuesday, 30 December 2014

♥ Real Techniques Nic's Picks: Review

A few weeks ago I finally caved and bought myself a new Real Techniques brush set, in the form of Nic's Picks. I've been using these brushes non stop since I purchased them and they're definitely worth getting your hands on. I bought them at Superdrug for £20, and they're a similar price in online retailers and for five brushes of such high quality it really is worth the price tag. Especially as one RT brush is, at cheapest, around the six pounds mark and they average at a teeny four pounds per brush in this collection.

Firstly, I'm going to mention how in love with the packaging I am. I haven't chucked it out yet as I'm going to pop them away in the box for the commute back to Cornwall but the design on the little polystyrene box is so gorgeous - It uses the signature RT colours, bronze, pink and purple and these colours are also incorporated into the handles of the brushes, in their names, so you can determine what brush is used where on the face. Bronze for face, pink for cheeks, purple for eyes - as we're used to. When I first saw the set I wasn't too sold on the silver handles but now I really am in love. I think they look so classy and nice next to my other brushes and it does add a new dimension to my collection. The matte black parts, as ever, do attract a bit of grub but I find a quick wipe over with a baby wipe clears the handle of any fingerprints or foundation residue!

In the set you get a Duo Fibre Face Brush, Cheek Brush, Angled Shadow Brush, Base Shadow Brush and an Eyeliner Brush. The three I've put in bold are exclusive to this set. I've tried the duo fibre face brush a few times for the 'lightweight' application the box suggests, and I do think it's best just for a light dusting of powder rather than application of liquid foundation or anything else. I don't really like using it as the shape really throws me off but I'm excited to give it a go with my loose HD powder from elf when I get back to Cornwall. The cheek brush is incredible. It's a perfect shape and size to apply blush, bronzer and also I believe it would be great for heavier contouring and though these are products I'd normally shy away from, this brush has me determined to be a bit more adventurous with my contouring as I find it so easy to use. The angled shadow brush is a 'perfect cut for layering eye shadow in the crease' and this statement is something I strongly agree with. The shape fits into the crease perfectly and it's brilliant at doing the outer corners of your eyes. It's quite big, too, and I love this - but for smaller faces or eyes it might make application a bit tricky. The base shadow brush is my go to everyday eyeshadow brush, now. I was using an elf brush previously and though I found their shadow brush really easy to use I am now sure I'll only be using that in between washes! It's so soft and leaves such an even finish. Finally, the set includes an eyeliner brush that has a 'firm, angled head for optimal control along lash line' and sadly, I find it near impossible to use any lining products (like gel liner) that would require such a tool so I haven't used this brush yet, I do think however, I'm going to use this for my eyebrows when I find a product to use on my bushy brows! It is super small and firm and would be the perfect size for eyebrows, as well as being a perfect eyeliner brush. Again, this brush has made me want to go out and try a gel liner purely to use it!

Overall, I'm really chuffed with the collection and Real Techniques have done it again with the quality of their brushes. I believe the £20 price tag does make these brushes so so affordable and when one MAC brush costs more than these five do, together, it puts it into perspective! They're all so useful for just an everyday make up look and they're just as useful for more daring make up application so it's a great kit to use to step up into a wider use of make up brushes - for those of all abilities.

Have you got this set or is it on a wishlist of yours? Let me know! Please note I couldn't find these on Superdrug's website but they're available to purchase at Boots and Feel Unique so if you're after a brush bargain, get clicking! It's a little more expensive from these retailers but still a steal!

Em x

Monday, 15 December 2014

♥ Winter Treats

I've been back in Birmingham for an entire week now and only had two days to myself. I've been thrown back into a life of full time work at McDonalds, which I don't particularly mind because it's pretty easy as jobs go... But it's left me super run down and I've managed to pick up a cold even though I just got over one. I'm really not happy about this - especially as I'm working so much and it's pretty gross to be around food when you feel so awful and it's difficult to get days off when there's such a small workforce. I'm sure I'll cope though and to help me through I bought two things I'd really been lusting after. It's definitely helped to cheer myself up and  it's a nice little treat for working so bloody hard this week - and I won 'Employee of the Month' for the second time and with that came a ten pound gift voucher so I couldn't say no to myself, really!

I am so in love with Real Techniques brushes. They make up the majority of my brush collection and when Nic's Picks were released I knew I'd purchase them at some point. At the moment the set is £20 in Superdrug, so of course I had to buy them. This is ten pounds cheaper than you'll find them in Boots and in online retailers and evens out at £4 per brush which is an amazing deal. In the collection is a duo fibre face brush - for lightweight application, an huge oval cheek brush, an angled eye brush, a base shadow brush and an eyeliner brush. While the silver handles would normally shout out 'tacky' to me, I absolutely love the finish of these brushes. They really stand out and they're super soft - just as expected. You'll find them amongst the Christmas gifts and I really would get buying because I'm sure they won't be this cheap forever.

I also picked up Make Up Revolutions 'Iconic 3' (UD Naked 3 dupe) because it's the first time I've come across their counter in Superdrug and I couldn't pass up buying something from it! I'll be writing a post on that soon about the shades and quality, and I might even include some NYE make up looks you could do with it!

I hope you're all well and feeling much better than I am, bare with me as I am working full time (with a bar job on the side) and awful shift patterns don't make for much free time!

Em x

Thursday, 4 December 2014

♥ Sample Stuff #1

A few years ago when BB creams burst onto the market I picked up this exact one. Rimmel London's Mattifying BB Cream - the full size product. It cost around the £6 mark and by the time I'd used it all up I wasn't too fond of it because I was in the habit of using a mousse foundation (which is something I don't think I'll ever go back to using) and the two just didn't mix very well. Now that I've nearly used up all of my No7 BB cream, I still want a product for those days that I don't want to wear foundation - and instead just a light coverage base. A multipurpose cream like this is so useful. It gives enough coverage to even out skin tone and hide blotchy skin and that's all I could ask for out of it. Also, the SPF means that they come in super handy for packing light if you're off on holiday. Your skin is protected from the sun and it means you don't have to put on a heavier duty foundation that may melt off! I managed to get three or four applications out of this sample and I was pretty satisfied with it. I'll definitely be repurchasing it when I need to update! The shade was perfect, though I'd like to point out that it's not very true to the name 'light', though, so those of you who are fair skinned might not get along with this too well.

Have you tried any other drug store BB creams? If so let me know what you thought!

Em x

Saturday, 29 November 2014

♥ Budget Brand: MUA

Being a student means never having the money to buy the things you want to. I'm yet to start on a MAC eyeshadow palette because I'm in constant fear of dipping into my overdraft and to be quite honest, I'm too sensible to do that. I've never been one to spend on things that are over priced or won't be worth the price I pay, so my desire of having a high end make up collection is on hold for now.

Luckily, for the savers upon us, there are a few budget brands making really good names for themselves in the beauty world. High street favourites like Rimmel, Max Factor and Revlon have a lot of competition now and while they've pulled their fingers out and have started releasing amazing products one after the other... but they're still not quite as cheap as Make Up Revolution and Make Up Academy/MUA (I hate that name). 

Before I purchased my Naked 2 palette I was so desperate for a nude eyeshadow palette and opted for the MUA's 'Undressed'. Like the Naked palettes it's a twelve shadow collection of nude colours that can be played up and down. They work fabulously for both smoky eyes with the darker shades on offer and really natural looks with the paler pink shades. They're a great brunch of shades and come together perfectly as a collection and though it lacks in matte shades, the colours are amazing for both day and night. 

I then needed something different for more exaggerated looks. I love a purple smokey eye and 'Starry Night' is a palette that MUA hit the exact spot with. It's a bunch of silver, blue and purple shades and though I don't feel I will ever get much use of the bluer shades, I think they'd be incredible for those of you with blue eyes that they could work really well with. 

The lipsticks that are available are really good too. While I don't think the staying power or total colour pay off is very good at all, I'm not too fussed as I only parted with £1 for the product. I picked up the shade 'Wild Berry' as it's a perfect autumnal shade and I will admit I brought a lip pencil at the same time, in a similar shade, because I suspected it might need a little help - and boy was I right!
I'm also going to point out that the little swatch at the bottom twists off the stick - this is probably just for a genuine, true to life swatch, but it would be brilliant with a lip brush to line the lips with, don't you think?!

'Undressed' - £4

'Starry Night' - £4

'Wild Berry' - £1

I am really impressed with everything that MUA have to offer and I hope to trail many more of their products and figure out if they're all as amazing as their palettes are! If you have any suggestions of any other super cheap brands I'd love to hear from you!

Em x

Sunday, 23 November 2014

♥ Introduction to Skincare

Recently my skin has been awful. Acne just won't clear up and I'm suffering with awfully dry skin. Although I have my eyes on a Clinique anti-blemish set, I can't get it just yet. I'm waiting until I'm back at work and earning until I spend too much on items I don't really need. I have loads of specialist face washes lying about, including tons of samples that I should give a go, but I wanted something different - I wanted to start a routine and stick to it before I invest in more expensive options.

The Boots Botanics range has been on my radar for a long while. It's really cheap and they have loads of different types of products on offer. I was in desperate need of a new moisturiser and while I usually go for moisturisers in bottles with pumps, I've taken a chance on this little tub that cost me £2.49 as it was on offer. It's so good I don't think I'll be going back my usual Simple moisturiser any time soon. The Botanics All Bright Hydrating Day Cream is quite oily, it claims to be brightening because of the hibiscus and it does make my skin look much better than it does without. The oily nature doesn't bother me too much, it vanishes as soon as I apply makeup and does leave my skin looking good and free of dry patches all day long.

I also wanted to invest in a creamier cleanser. I'm deep in the habit of not removing my make up every night and in the morning I'll reach for micellar water which isn't very moisturising so I wanted a cream cleanser like the ones I'd reach for when I was much younger. This was also on offer, it's the same range, the All Bright Gentle Cleansing Cream, again with brightening hibiscus, and is so lovely at removing traces of makeup you can't even see. I use this with big, thick cotton pads before moisturising and after properly cleaning my face. These two products together have really improved my dry skin and I love how cheap the Botanics range is - there's a product suited to most skin types, that each promise different things and I definitely think I'll be going back for more very soon.

Boots currently have up half up to half price off selected Botanics items so it's worth a try if you're after something new on a tight budget!

Em x

Monday, 17 November 2014

♥ Have You Heard...

The Internet and my social media time lines have been blowing up over the reveal of the new face of Estée Lauder. They've opted for nineteen year old Kendall Jenner - one seventh of the somewhat infamous Kardashian clan. Now, when I saw the news I instantly associated Estée with the older woman, something they're apparently changing up. Looking at past campaigns, you may link actresses Liz Hurley and Gwyneth Paltrow (mature 'mother' figures) and it makes you wonder where this massive transition came from. Now, when you Google Estée, the top link is 'Kendalls Faves' something that is highlighting the issue completely - they are trying to branch out to a younger, hipper, consumer and the language they're using perfectly reflects that.

I believe that it's a desperate attempt to introduce a classic brand to a new, younger consumer. This is something I don't think Estée Lauder should really be doing. Under their company are other brands like Clinque, Smashbox and Bobbi Brown - which are more open to a younger audience (despite the still large price tags) and much more appropriate to have Jenner in their campaigns. So why do they feel the need to drag ridiculously young girls toward their very luxurious and expensive line?

I've seen bloggers and friends rave about Estée  products and I am lusting after their double wear foundation, because I feel like if I opt for any luxurious beauty product it would have to be their foundation. The reviews of their products on Boots are mostly from the older age range and I don't think it's okay to market a £30 bottle of foundation to a 'tweenage' audience. It just highlights the issue of young, impressionable, girls being forced to think that makeup is the be all and end all - when in reality a bottle of foundation that costs £5 from the Miss Sporty range is made for younger skin that doesn't need the coverage older skin may need... If a younger teenager even needs to wear make up - at all - that is.

But alas, I'll add that you simply cannot lump Kendall into the same likes as her older half-sisters. Kendall is the only one of the bunch that has made a name for herself without managing to cause a scandal in the process. I mean, even Kylie has us all talking about whether she has or hasn't had her lips done! Kendall had a goal - to be a high profile runway model - and she achieved it. Yes, it maybe helped that Kim Kardashian is one of the most famous women in the world and Anna Wintour has took a massive liking to the family, but Kendall Jenner has made a name for herself in all the right ways and I'm sure she'll continue to do so for many, many years.

Em x

Sunday, 16 November 2014

♥ Looking Up

The past few months haven't been great for me, but as expected, things are starting to look a little bit better. The first term of my second year at university has caused me nothing but grief - work I'm not happy with, essays I fear I've failed and a general misunderstanding of why it is I'm here. Sometimes I feel as though a Creative Writing degree won't actually help me to where I want to go, other times I sit in seminars and realise just how valuable the things I'm learning about writing are. It's been tough. There have been too many novels to read and too much riding on things I don't enjoy (eighteenth century literature, I'm looking at you). There's been drama within our household and I've gone through a pretty vile break up... All of this while I've been living on twenty quid a week. But I guess it's all part of the experience, right? This was never going to be easy and I shouldn't let myself get so down. I guess I need to start looking at all the incredible things happening in the weeks to come, my brother visiting, dad picking me up and taking me home, seeing my best friend and getting back to the city right in time for Christmas and the famous German market! 

I suppose I just wanted to say that if you're having a rough day, week or month, things will eventually begin to look a little brighter. You can get through anything, you just need to put yourself back into a positive mindset.

Em x

Saturday, 15 November 2014

♥ Haircare Routine

I've never been too dedicated to keeping my hair nice and healthy. I often go years without having it cut because I've never been happy with a haircut. I find hairdressers can be quite rude towards you if you dye your hair yourself, or if your hair isn't in pristine condition - and it's never going to be perfect so I avoid the bad attitude of hairdressers like the plague!

Over summer (after two and a half years without a cut and bleaching my ends) my mom forced me into getting my hair sorted. It was long, ombre and I really loved it. The ends were getting pretty gross though and just as I assumed, the hairdresser demanded she cut off inches and inches to get it 'healthy' again. I hated it. I hadn't had short hair in so long and still when I look back at photo's from this time last year I really miss having longer hair - even if the condition of it wasn't great.

After the chop, I decided to try and really start looking after my hair. I ditched the blonde and went for more of a natural brunette colour so I could avoid dying it for an extended period of time. I'd known about Tangle Teezer for a while but I didn't quite understand paying over the odds for a hairbrush - but bleaching my hair and never tying it up for bed meant I always woke to a birds nest and awful knots and I really needed one. I needed something that could tackle my unruly hair and it's been so worth the money. It's perfect to chuck in the bottom of your bag and takes up barely any room in a suitcase so it's travel friendly. I'm now desperate to get myself an Aqua Splash teezer.

Conditioner is also a best friend of mine after having damaged hair for such a long time. At the moment I'm obsessed with Garnier's Ultimate Blends range, I use 'The Marvellous Transformer' which uses a bunch of oils 'for beautifully nourished, supple feeling hair with a glowing shine.' I really do love the stuff and how soft it makes my hair feel. I definitely need to invest in the mask from the range. 

I add a Herbel Essenses mask into the mix, once a week. Usually, I apply to damp hair and stick in a bun while I shave and shower, just so it sits on the hair for a few minutes, I'll rinse it out like normal and finish up. I also tend to put Herbel Essenses leave-in Bee Strong conditioner onto my ends once a week.

Because I know that my hair isn't in the best condition, I always let it dry naturally. I don't own a hairdryer but I do straighten my hair a couple of times a week. I try to use a heat protection spray - at the moment I'm using one I picked up in a pound shop!

Obviously, this brings up the questions of how often you should wash, or even brush, your hair. I think this completely differs from person to person - my thin hair can go two to three days at most without a wash and then it starts to get oily. Thicker hair usually stays oil/grease free for longer and it also depends on how much product you tend to use on a day to day basis. I never use products like styling spray, wax or serums, so it's just playing with my hair that puts me down. I don't believe washing your hair every single day is necessary or good for your hair, but if your hair is getting greasy too quick it's probably down the to products you're using, not your scalp giving you grief!

Are there and holy grail hair products you use that might be of interest? Let me know as I'm desperate to update my stash!

Em x

Saturday, 8 November 2014

♥ How To: Cope on Your Own

I'll let you in on a massive secret... I never actually wanted to go to university. My childhood was far from normal and we never had much money so the cost of university seemed silly. The summer after secondary school, I took part in The Challenge - a government funded project that let me experience university halls, different ways of teaching and it let me meet people from very different backgrounds - I loved it and it made me want to carry on with education.  It wasn't until looking at universities that I discovered Falmouth University. It was still a University College when I started looking and has since been granted full university status - making it Cornwall's only university. I'd been holidaying in the nearby St.Ives for most of my life and my dad had worked in the area for a few years so I had a good idea about life in Cornwall. I knew that this was were I wanted to be and was absolutely chuffed to be given a place. It didn't ever occur to me that I would be moving three hundred miles away from home, with no friends close by, no family and no where to turn if things got rough. It seemed really easy to do but there are times when I would love nothing more than going back to the city, best friend and my parents.

The hardest thing for me is undoubtedly being away from my parents. I have a little bit of an issue because for a massive chunk of my childhood Mom was in hospital and the only time I would see her was for an hour every other night - even when she was in a coma and unable to do anything. I thought I'd be used to not seeing her, but it's really hard! I phone her all the time just for a chat when I feel a bit stressed or to check that she's okay and taking all her medicine. My friends don't phone home as much but I speak to my parents at least once a day.

Being away from my best friend is horrible. We still get teary when we see each other for the first time and when I'm leaving which is weird because you'd think we'd be used to it by now. We both have great friendship groups but being apart isn't ever easy. She's still the person I turn to when I'm going through something tough and I wish that she was around when there are issues we're facing. I recently went through a break up and there is nothing you need more than your best friend when that happens so it was a new kind of awful.

Food is a massive part of my life. I love the stuff. I love cooking and I'm a massive Jamie Oliver fan and try to be adventurous with my food while I'm at uni and free to cook as and when I like. The kitchen is my favourite place and it's definitely something I got from my Mom as she was a chef before she took ill. The massive downside, though, is having to buy food. It's costly and when you're living on a tight budget it isn't any fun to spend twenty quid on food! It's also really time consuming and sometimes it's such a pain to do the washing up.

Getting to and from uni is a chore. With almost three hundred miles between my home town and the place I now live, it's time consuming and costly to travel between the two. This means that I avoid it at all costs. Luckily, my dad loves Cornwall and comes down to collect me whenever he can. The Megabus is a brilliant way to travel between the two places. It's super cheap though it does take me around ten hours to get from Falmouth back to Birmingham this way!

At the moment I'm suffering with a cold. The absolute worst thing about being so far from home is feeling so helpless when you're ill. There's nothing better than staying in bed and Mom bringing you cups of lemsip or tea and cooking your favourite comfort food but that's near impossible when you're away. It makes you feel ten times worse having no one to look after you!

I by no means at all want to scare anybody who is applying to university. It's much easier than you expect it to be and friends and family are only a phone call away. Like most things in life, it's never going to be really easy so it's an experience you just have to grab with both hands!

If you're applying to university, how do you feel about moving away from home? Let me know in the comments! Also, I'd love to hear any coping strategies, because I think I'm going crazy and I can't wait to be at home for Christmas!

Em x

Sunday, 2 November 2014

♥ My Perfect Nude Lip

I've done it. I have found my perfect nude lip colour. It's the  shade Just a Fling in Seventeen's Stay Pout collection. It's my  second purchase from the line and I am so pleased I decided on  getting this colour. I was lusting over the MAC shade Twig but as I am an unemployed student for eight months of the year I just can't part with the fifteen pounds it would cost. I obviously picked this up in a three for two deal in Boots, and I still only spent around ten pounds.  Three items for a third less than one MAC lipstick!

The packaging is nice and sturdy and reminds me of Nars packaging ‐ matte black and a little detailing ‐ and the formula is just as impressive as a high end offering. It's so pigmented and creamy so it doesn't feel drying and the colour stays for a decent amount of time without smudging. I'm really in love with the Stay Pout collection, and with each lipstick costing only £4.49 each I'm pretty sure i'll end up with a few more.

The reason I think this colour works so well for me is because I have a quite dark natural lip so these dark nudes are much better suited to my skin than dusty pinks or lighter shades! You could say it's my lips but a little better!

What's your ideal nude lip shade? Let me know if you've ever tried anything from the Seventeen counter, because it's becoming a favourite drug store brand of mine!

Em x

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

♥ My Unexplained and Extended Absence

I've really not had much time to myself lately - or at least time that I could use to sit down and write posts for you guys. I've hated not being able to blog but I've still been reading and liking posts through Bloglovin and keeping my makeup stash a little up to date.
I'm now in my second year of university and it's going pear shaped. It's so much harder than first year and I've been swamped with work since my very first day back, which was over a month ago now. Finally, I can breathe a little as it's Reading Week (and I've been using it to do exactly that) it seems a silly title, for an English student though - as I've already got through ten novels in the short amount of time I've been back in education. Two novels a week is not realistic to do week by week, though, so I am getting ahead of some the stuff I still have to do for first semester. There's also been one deadline, and a handful of presentations coming up in the coming weeks. So, yeah! That's why I've not been about. University is extremely hard work for me, as I have never been the brightest student. I have to put loads of effort into everything and make endless notes and I have to read so much that I don't feel I'm ever allowed a night off! I'm not really enjoying my second year at all compared to first year. I've kind of lost some interest and don't feel as though it'll be worthwhile or worth all the debt in the end, but I've made the decision to just stick it out and fingers crossed life will get a bit easier and sort itself out hopefully!

However, I do have some stuff to help me relax in the remainder of my week off - Russell Brands new book is so interesting and I am getting my head down and writing a few posts to lure me back into blogging as I do miss it loads!

How's university going for you guys? Are you drowning in work, the same as I am?! Hope you're all well!

Em x

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

♥ Autumn Reading

Nothing is better than curling up with a big blanket, cup of tea and a good book on a cold evening. While my university course already has a extremely lengthy reading list for me to tackle I think it's still really important to read something for entertainment, not education. These few titles are the ones I'm going to be absorbed into over the Autumn months and here are the reasons why.

The Time Travelers Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
I remember going to see this film years ago when it was released in cinemas and I loved it. I picked up this copy, that was published after the movie release, in a charity shop for a few quid. It's a little battered and I've been throwing it into my bag because it's a novel I'm focusing on this week for one of my modules at university. The book isn't anything I expected after watching the film. It's layout is tough and confusing at times and my lecturers argue over the genre of the book. Is it a romance or is it science fiction? I'd say its a good mix of the two. Henry and Clare's love is a strange one that can be difficult to wrap your head around and Henry's status as a time traveler definitely brings in science fiction! It's a good book - but it does require a bit of concentration and time. It's lengthy!

Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned - Wells Tower
This is a collection of short stories, something I bought in relation to my short storied module. It's a collection of dark tales, a must read for anybody familiar with Angela Carter and her unique way of telling a story. They're condensed little snippets of various lives and this is something I'm learning to love with the module I've chosen. They're good for if you only have a little bit of spare time and excellent if you don't want to commit yourself to a novel or want to try something a little different. I picked this up on Amazon for the good old price of a penny, with a few quid postage, so it's definitely worth it!

Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
The final instalment of The Hunger Games trilogy. Mockingjay: Part One is hitting cinemas this Autumn, so obviously it's time to re read the novel! The Hunger Games are my favourite books of all time because they're so different to the sort of books I would usually enjoy and so different to the type of novels I write. I'm not going to give away any spoilers in case you're a fan of the films but haven't ventured over to the novel companions, but these three books are so worth getting your hands on. They're phenomenal stories that delve much deeper than the movies do.

Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk 
Another reading I've been focusing on for university. It's a novel I absolutely love and the film is amazing too. I was chuffed to see this on my reading list and excited to delve a little deeper in the meaning and read it more closely for my studies. Palahniuk's writing style is so very different to anything else I've read and I always want to read something else of his afterwards, It's a little boyish, too, which is a nice change!

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
I picked this up last summer, unread, from a charity shop for £1.49. I was chuffed. I'd heard of the title before and it was a best seller and a thriller - two things I usually shy away from. With the movies recent release, it's something I really want to sink my teeth into. It's a story about Nick Dunne's missing wife, Amy. Nick is a prime suspect and with Amy's friends revealing that she was a scared of him, there's nothing to help his case. Ben Affleck stars in the movie and I'm sure it will be incredible, but I'm a believer in reading the book first so I really need to get started with this one!

Are any of these books taking your fancy, or should I be reaching for something else?

Em x

Friday, 3 October 2014

♥ My Beauty Essentials

Over the past year so I've really found myself loving certain products that can make a girls life a little easier. The products I'm going to tell you about are something I always have lying around, in multiples. They're the non-makeup products I couldn't really live without.

Nivea Extra Gentle Eye Make Up Remover
This is such a gentle product. I constantly wear liquid eyeliner and lashings of mascara and this soft liquid manages to remove it all with no fuss whatsoever. The area around your eyes is super delicate and after scrubbing my eyes red raw with make up wipes when I was younger, I've finally learnt to use safe and soft products so I don't damage the skin and end up looking worse for wear.

Nivea Hydro Care Lip Balm
This one isn't set in stone, but it's the lip balm I'm using at the moment. I've been wearing eye shadow much more recently, so my tinted Baby Lips create too much of a make up look so this colourless balm is perfect. I apply it constantly throughout the day and in the run up to winter a good lip balm is essential for making sure you don't end up with dry and chapped lips.

No7 Beautiful Skin BB Cream
So, I cheated and this is a make up product, but I can't imagine not having it for those barely there days. It's perfect for those days when you don't want all the fuss of foundation and this, teamed with a good moisturiser is what I use on my face the majority of the time. The formula isn't too thick and it's easily worked into the skin. It's my go to base, for sure. It also has spf in it, so it's protecting your skin too!

Johnsons Cotton Buds
These are both a curse and a blessing of a product. They can do pretty much anything. Cleaning the fiddly parts of keyboards and mobile phones, but for me they're a saviour when fixing eye make up. With just a dab of make up remover on they can help eliminate any make up mistakes and I would surely be an angrier person if I didn't have them on hand!

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water
Garniers offering on the micellar front might just be everyone's favourite essential. It's constantly talked about and it's so much better for your skin that scrubbing off make up with rigid wipes or harsh soaps. I use this every single night and most mornings too, just to get my face feeling clean and fresh. When used with cotton pads, it's a brilliant way to get make up out of every pore and is super gentle so it's unlikely to leave your skin red and irritated.

Cutex Nourishing Nail Polish Remover
I must admit, I used to just pick off nail polish or use cheap nail polish removers, but nails are on show all of the time so it's best to look after them. This offering from Cutex has quite a milky colour and leaves nails looking clean and moisturised. It's only a little bottle too, and lasts ages so it's not a waste to invest in a good quality remover for your nails!

Are there any essentials I've missed that I should definitely be using? Let me know!

Em x

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

♥ How To: Settle into Student Life

By now, those of you who have started first year are over the excitement of freshers week and you're into the dull routine of lecture, seminar, lecture, seminar. I guess the move to university is like most other things in life - it's not at all what you expect. Chances are you're loving the independence and be away from home for the first time, but hating that you have to cook and clean for yourself. It's a time when you're going through a lot of 'firsts' and I can assure you it'll be exciting and hard from the get go but it does get easier. You'll settle in a dream and will be hesitant to leave in December!

I thought I'd put together a little post that brings together the three things I struggled with most, and ideas on how to get through the annoying bits or how to avoid any disasters.

Living with strangers and making friends:
Unless you're off to university with a massive bunch of friends, it's so unlikely that you'll know anybody that you live with, or anybody that you have to sit with in contact time at university. Though I had met my best friend at our interview stage, back in February before we started I only knew two other people going to the same university. I lived with four girls that we're all doing different courses and two boys whom I barely ever saw. It ended up being only the five of us after Easter, and so I was lucky that instead of struggling to build relationships with seven other people, I had to only did it with four. It was a shame in a sense - it narrowed down the people I knew, but luckily had those I already knew to fall back on. It was such a relief when Grace invited me to her flat. The layout of the halls were different and it was almost two in one. So I was suddenly exposed to over ten people I ended up seeing all the time, and this year I live with Grace and two of her old flatmates!
You'll also find friends within your course. While two of my best friends are my housemates and coursemates (almost, one lecture a week with them counts, right) I still had to find my feet within the entire course group at first. I don't really have any tips on how to make friends, other than to be friendly and chatty and find a common ground with those you live with. It's funny how much you'll have in common with people you'd never thought you'd get on with. So in the beginning of the year try to expand friendship groups and get to know as many people as you can - through friends in different flats, your course and through societies!

Money and making the loan last:
Due to having a single dad, I was lucky in that I had a loan that I could just about survive on. Many people aren't that fortunate and end up in an overdraft straight away. So being careful with your loan and knowing all your incomings and outgoings is absolutely vital. You're likely to be lumped with unexpected charges or outgoings so it's important to budget and put a little money away into a different account for a time when you really do need it. You'll probably want to go out and buy all your new winter clothes but you need to make sure you're going to be able to survive until January, when your next sum will come through. I wrote a really popular post on budgeting which you can find here, and it's definitely worth reading.

Getting your assignments done:
Luckily, I avoided exams altogether and chose a university that bases your degree on 'coursework'. This was perfect for me as I always struggle and panic in exams and with a creative degree, it would be pretty stupid to have exams anyway! Even with the lack of exams, first year was a shock.You have a lot of reading and extra work to do every week and lectures can really baffle you sometimes. I find it best to write up notes for each lecture while I'm in them and then go through them afterwards too, so I can note or highlight anything I don't quite understand. Then, when you're in a smaller seminar group with the module leader, when they ask questions you know exactly what you didn't understand...
These notes will then help when you choose what to do your assignments on. Chances are your lecturers would have included vital quotes or theorists within each weeks topic and if you were noting down important stuff and their references you know exactly where to find them - it saves you that bit of time you'd spend tracking down the right lecture notes online.
It's also really important to give yourself enough time to do every assignment, come January I will have three modules worth of work to hand in, and probably two pieces of work per module, so it's crucial I'm on top of it all. You're likely to be given loads of guidance in your first year on how to write essays and how to reference correctly, so you won't be thrown into the deep end... However, having ten thousand words worth of work to hand in isn't something you can leave until the night before and will take a few weeks to get done. When assignments are first mentioned, go home and start gathering references, notes and plan out each essay or piece of work!

I know it's all a lot to take in but I really struggled with my first year and getting into the swing of things. You're probably doing great but if you do feel like you can't cope there are tons of options available. Phone Mum or Dad, get in contact with your personal tutor if your university has assigned you one, students from the years above will always be willing to point you in the right direction and there are specialists within your institution that are there for the times you don't think you're doing very well. It'll probably all be super easy to figure out though.

Hope it's all going well for you and if you have any concerns or questions at all, I'm right here!

Em x

Monday, 15 September 2014

♥ Do I Really Need That?

With my recent move back to uni and a delve back into my life of unemployment, I've realised just how much I buy without really needing it. After figuring out a rather tight budget that will stem into December, I know that I can only really buy things I desperately need... like food. This post is being written after my boyfriend had stern words with me about not really needing any new products... I'm beginning to understand why, too. Do I honestly need to buy a newly released mascara even though I have seven sat in my makeup bag? Do I need a new foundation when I have four bottles full of the stuff? There are some things that us girls just want to buy, even if we don't need it and it's not good for our purse or skin, come to think of it.

Beauty products come with an expiry date, just like food, and it's not always obvious when you should stop using a product. Checkcosmetic is an amazing little website that can help you determine whether or not you should be using that old moisturiser or lip gloss - especially for the things that don't come with clear expiry dates. It's just a tool to help you figure out what you do or don't need and which products you should be throwing away and which ones you should be using up before you go out and waste your hard earned cash. Over on one of my favourite blogs, Autumn Leaves, Rebecca does a lot to help us all figure out what's what in the beauty world and if you feel like your stash needs an Autumn clean out, you must read this amazing post she put together about expiry dates when it concerns your make up!

I know I'm definitely going to have a long hard think about all the make up I don't need to buy, and instead save myself the money and treat myself around Christmas time. It'll give me a chance to use up those four bottles of foundation, surely!

Have you got into the habit of buying products you don't even need? Confide in me so I know I'm not the only one!

Em x

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

♥ Back to Blogging!

I've been shit on the blogging front lately. Not even a little bit absent - I've disappeared and promised more posts and never actually got round to re-drafting my pending topics. It's all set to change though. With the beginning of September, I'm on the mission to get a first in my second year of university (after getting a 2:1 by about 0.4 of a percent last year) and with the beginning of second year, I'm determined to try and carve myself a little part of the internet that I'm honestly proud of and could present to potential employers.

Hopefully I'll have loads going on with a lot of academic reading to do but reading for pleasure still being a priority of mine. I'll be going out, still, but not as much as I did in my first year. I'll be spending more, as rent is a little lower. Hopefully I'll be improving my technology and blog format to get it up to a more professional standard and do better at juggling my life as a student than I have done for the six months or so that this blog has been live!

I do of course, have loads to say about my personal experience with university - all in the hope of persuading younger people to grab the opportunity with both hands. I've loved it all so much and after moving into a student house with my best friends I feel even stronger about the subject! I have plenty of different things I want to share - eating habits will be cropping up, a bit about what I wear and how I spend my time... So I'm hoping the next six months of blogging will go smoothly and I'm hoping you all stick with me while I find my feet again!

Have any of you been to busy to do the things you love recently? Let me know!

Em x

Monday, 25 August 2014

♥ How To: Pack The Essentials

By now I would hope that any of you off to university in September have a strong idea of what it is that you’ll be taking with you. It’s stressful to say the least. It can leave you panic stricken and worried. Having just moved back to Falmouth for the start of my second year, my packing skills have been refreshed – so I gathered it’s the perfect time to guide you along your own packing!
You’ll need loads of different sort of stuff from kitchenware to toiletries and depending on where you’ve opted to live it will be different. Details of everything included in Halls of Residence will be available online via the institutions website or they will have emailed you certain details about what is included. A lot of the time (or from my experience in halls) you’ll have televisions, a small social area, vacuum cleaners and furniture like a desk all included. You probably won’t be provided with bedding, though.
For the Kitchen:
·         A few pots and pans
   1 x frying pan
   1 x little saucepan
  1 x big saucepan
   2 x baking trays
·         Tea towels/oven gloves
·         Glasses and plates and bowls
·         Kitchen utensils and cutlery – tin openers, potato mashers, whisks, spatulas, tongs!
·         Kitchen cleaner – to keep the oven clean.
·         Sponges and washing up liquid. You’ll get through loads of sponges as they can turn pretty disgusting pretty quickly when five to seven or even eight people are all using them. Make sure you’re not the only one buying these things though!

For the bedroom:
·         Duvet and pillows
·         Duvet covers – at least two so you can wash them without being left without sheets
·         Lamp – we were provided with really good lighting so you might not know until you arrive.
·         Decorations – you’re likely to have a notice board and a lot of my friends put bunting up, or fairy lights and loads of photo’s of people from home up so it felt homely and like it was actually your space!
·         Storage. You’ll probably be on top of this. Under bed boxes are excellent to stash non-perishable food away. Things like tins and chocolate and crisps!

For the toilet:
·         Bleach
·         Toilet roll
·         Toilet cleaner
·         Toiletries like shampoo and shower gel.  Hand soap.

There are bound to be some things you won’t think of and will pick up along the way, and it can be hard to figure out what you’ll actually need when you’re so used to not having to think about it – mum takes care of everything at home so you don’t have to, right?!
Always try to get plates and pans that you can distinguish. Ikea do nice patterned kitchenware which will stand out and hopefully no one else will have the same – this will help you determine whether anyone is using your stuff and not cleaning up afterwards. Pots and pans are the same. If you don’t buy ones that are easy to tell apart, be equipped with a colourful Sharpie so you can mark up what is yours – then if anyone uses it and doesn’t clean afterwards you can give them an earful! I know you might not want to do this as to not create tension, but in my first year we ended up only having one boy in our flat and he would use our stuff and not wash up or he just wouldn’t wash up his own stuff. It got to January and we came back and he’d left his washing up for the entire Christmas break. It ended up being outside his bedroom door until around March and only after Easter he decided to chuck it away. Hopefully you won't have to deal with such a reluctant house mate and it should all be smooth sailing! 

If you have anything to add to this list or and queries, be sure to comment!

Em x

Saturday, 23 August 2014

❤️ First Impressions: Max Factor

After a hectic Tuesday at work I decided there was nothing I needed more to calm me down than a short browse through the beauty stands in my local Boots. I in no way needed any new make up at all, but I was desperate to spend my blues away and finally decided it was time to give Max Factor a try. I've never actually seen anyone rave about eur products, even though they insist that they're the 'make up of makeup artists'.... I don't think in anyway that's true but it is one of the more expensive brands on the high street p so I thought that maybe this would equate to higher quality. Hmm. We'll see.

The first thing that caught my eye was the swirls of two different products in ine bottle. The 
Skin Luminizer Foundation comes in a plastic bottle (no risk of breakages - perfect for travelling) and a pump that gives enough product to create a good base. The coverage seems decent alone, but I would still opt to use my usual bb cream and concealer with this one. I chose the shade Warm Almond but I feel I'll be putting this away for later in the year as it's a bit too pale at the moment. It seemed the perfect shade when i swatched in store, so I may have to start testing foundations in different places. Any ideas? I feel as though I'm in a desperate search to find my perfect liquid foundation as I always used Dream Matte Mousse through my teenage years and I feel like a perfect base will now come with a rather large price tag. I have no qualms with this foundation really. Apart from my bad judgement on which shade would be best suited for me the only other thing that puts me off is how thick this foundation is. For a liquid foundation, it wasn't as easily blended across the skin as my others. This may just be due to a cold temperature so I hope I can find a way to change this! I was also desperate to replace my mascaras. They've been in my makeup bag a little too long now and I really do need to get rid so I opted for the curved brush version of the 2000 Calorie Mascara. This was also more expensive than others I would usually go for on the high street - priced at around £10. I remember going through my mums make up bag and finding curved mascaras and so this was a nice little reminder of mum when she was healthier and still bothered with her appearance. The product is absolutely amazing and I know already after two uses that I'll repurchase. I may not purchase a curved brush version though this does help to dramatically lift up the lashes and give a nicer curve to them. The only downside is the smell of this. It's a little bit chemically and I never usually notice a scent to my mascaras so I was a bit shocked! It doesn't really hinder my overall opinion though and I can live with e scent for the duration of application! Finally, I had to get a nail varnish. I couldn't see anything else that caught my eye and there was a 3 for 2 promotion on Max Factor so I grabbed this for free anyway. The shade is a brilliant orange - Wild Vermilion it's called - and after falling in love with a nail polish just like it a few months ago I just could not say no. I think orange is a brilliant nail colour for me as my wardrobe is very dark and dull and autumn is coming up and orange will be a key colour. I haven't tried this as of yet but I have very high hopes for the colour it comes up and the lasting power it hopefully has! 

I'm really sorry for the lack of posts. I know I've been saying for a few weeks that it's going to change but now I'm free of work and able to blog a little more than I have been - despite the fact Tom and his housemates don't currently have wifi in the house! Nightmare! (I actually got out and went to mcdonalds for the wifi - sad!) 

Hope you're all well and let me know where I should be testing my foundations in order to find a better suited shade pleeeease!

Em x

Sunday, 17 August 2014

♥ The Sunday Post #15

This week has been a week filled with a little too much pain. Three tattoos. Four and a bit hours of needles dragging through my skin. It's not been fun. The outcome, however, is perfect. First up, a purple rose at the bottom of my sleeve. Then a beautiful fruit bat - bats are one of my favourite animals and after meeting (and playing with) a beautiful one in Indonesia this summer I just couldn't wait any longer to have a little one on me! Then, to celebrate the birth and death of my brother, Robert, I had his initial etched onto my skin forever. This is a tattoo I always knew I would have and the anniversary is this week so it was brilliant timing! This week will be good. Three shifts left at work and I'm moving back to Cornwall on Friday. It's sure to be stressful as anything, as I'm travelling down by coach and my dad isn't bringing down the majority of my belongings for another two weeks... But I'm truly desperate to start this year already so I'd rather the struggle than try and survive at home!

I've not really had a chance to follow anybody as I'm still at work full time, but change is coming, readers! I'll be back to normal this time next week - I promise! Keep coming back, you lovely people!

Em x

Thursday, 14 August 2014

♥ How To: Stationary Shop

My last university how to post was on how to cope with the utter stress that comes along with results day nerves. Now, for those of you who were hoping to go off to university in September, the day is almost over and if all went to plan you got the grades you needed to get into your chosen university. If that's the case for you I'm sending you a massive congratulations. University is so much fun and it's so lovely when you finally get into university life and end up in the place you wanted to be. If it didn't go as well as hoped, Clearing is open in Track on UCAS, and I'm sure you'll find a course and a university that's as suited for you as your first choice may have been. Do not panic. You'll be just fine. The UCAS website is full of help and if you really are at a loss for what to do speak to those who taught you, and know you best, at school or college to discuss your options... Either way, stationary is going to be a massive must-have for the next few years and as a hoarder of the stuff I know plenty of places you can go to - whatever your budget.

So here's my pick of the stash I'll be taking along with me this September, and where I got it!

Ring Binders - All £3 from Paperchase | Pink Cartoon Pencil Case - £5.50 Paperchase | Green Polka Dot Pencil Case - £3 Paperchase | Recycled A4 Notebook £3.50 Paperchase | Study Planner £7 Paperchase | A4 Spiral Hardback Notebook 99p B&M | 500 Coloured Index Stickers 50p Wilkinsons | Integral 16GB Flash Drive £7* Wilkinsons | Revision Cards £2.50 Paperchase | Stabilo Highlighters £5.99 Amazon | Bic Round Stic Pens £1 Poundland

The prices noted are the prices I paid at time of purchase, some stores may not stock the exact items listed or may not sell for the same price. The flash drive was on sale in Wilkinsons so if you're looking for one, they had a few on offer with a few cute different designs available. My favourite place to buy stationary is of course, Paperchase. Though for cheap refill pads, pens or plastic wallets, Poundland is just as good to go to. Index stickers are a life saver. They'll save the hassle of trying to find that quote you want to reference in an essay. They're super cheap and it's really easy to pick these up in the back to school sections of supermarkets. Loads of stationary shops will have back to school offers - so take advantage. Sainsbury's have a lovely stationary section at the moment, Emily mentioned on her blog that Tesco have reduced some brilliant Oxford Notebooks to just £2, Wilkinsons have a massive stationary range. Paperchase is good if you want cutesy, long lasting stationary but can be a bit hard on the wallet. They do however offer a student discount in store and online. 

Em x

Sunday, 10 August 2014

♥ The Sunday Post #14

I missed last weeks 'Sunday Post' and I felt so weird about it, so I'm really glad to be putting this weeks together. It's been another mad few weeks and this week I'm in work doing an almost nine to five working week. It's not going to be fun but it's my last chance to earn some money before heading back to the South West in less than two weeks time. This morning my dad picked me up and took me to a local shopping centre so I could pick up a few cheap bits and pieces as I won't really have another chance until I'm there. That little pink academic diary was an amazing little steal from Wilkinsons for just two pounds and it has a lovely soft pink cover and includes a year planner, exam board phone numbers, student funding phone numbers, important dates pages, notes pages and a pre made timetable! It'll be really helpful as it just a bog standard diary as well, but its lightweight and I know I'll have it in my bag every day. Along with that I got a few other bits and pieces which I'm going to write up a post on the things I bought for the start of the new academic year.

It's only four weeks until I move in with my best friends, Grace and Katelyn and I'm ridiculously excited for everything we're going to get up to. But yet, sorry for the lack of blogging, I've never been so busy and I'm not finding the time to get online at the moment but there's only a week or so left at work. It'll be going back to normal, very very soon. Thanks for sticking with me!

Em x

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