Wednesday, 21 June 2017

All The Rage || Courtney Summers

Trigger warning: All The Rage by Courtney Summers is a book about rape.
This book isn't a light-hearted contemporary that you picture yourself reading on the beach with a cosmo in the other hand. Its a book full of darkness. Its also the first book in a while that left me wanting to string my constellations of thoughts into a tangible review.
Courtney Summers is not afraid to tell the truth. A tragic irony, since the whole book is based on the opposite. Each chapter drips confession, even if Romy (the protagonist) avoids the very same thing. This book is about what its like to be a girl that has been raped. Not only that, its about what it's like to be a girl in general. How we pit ourselves against each other, and how we cower in the face of the uncertainty that, if we stand up for what we believe in, we run the risk of being just as unfortunate as those that need our help. How we walk alone at night and cross our fingers that we remain safe, and how we cringe every time a man whistles as we walk past.
The pages say horrible things, like people often do. It brings to light what so many ignore; the truth to being a woman, and the hardship of his word against yours. The tight lipped truth that if a man contradicts your story, it suddenly becomes less worthy of a reaction.
It touches upon the loneliness of education, and the aftermath of being brave enough to admit something before you are shunned. The words resonated with me not because I related to them (something that the power of literature often enables), but because they spoke so honestly and brutally that I couldn't help but open my eyes. It isn't fluffy, but neither is real life. Rape is such a taboo subject that it takes a brave author to write about it, and a brave reader to turn the last page. I read this in one sitting, and I could feel how important it is.
In terms of the writing, the switching from first to third person in the beginning threw me off. In fact, I almost abandoned it. Once you get about fifty pages in and acclimatise to the style of writing, it becomes clear that this is a beautifully raw piece of literature. Authors write what people are afraid to say in everyday life.
This is a story about rape. The brutality of it, the affects of it, the way people respond to it. It touches on what it feels like to be part of a community, and what happens when that community turns on you. There is nothing more heart-breaking than watching a confession be rendered meaningless, and I cannot imagine being in Romy's shoes. To go through something so raw and have not one person believe you. The story really begins when a girl goes missing, and suddenly bravery is more than a protagonist trying to save herself. I don't want to give anything away, so this review is spoiler free. Trust me though, this is a book that will make you view the world a little bit differently. One chapter at a time.
I cannot ignore fearless writing. Or the anger that it shakes up inside of me. (Believe me, you're supposed to feel that way.)
5/5 stars on goodreads.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

What I've Been Reaching For Lately

I struggled immensely to narrow down this list of favourites; April and May were great for discovering gems. Side note: aren't these flowers gorgeous? Got to love some summer blooms.
When it came to renewing my faith in favourites of months gone by, I picked up MAC Harmony Blush a lot. I don't think I'm saying anything you haven't already heard if I tell you that this is my favourite contour shade of all time. This past couple of months I put down the others that I was trialling to embrace this ash brown contour again.  No regrets.
Another love I wasn't anticipating, was to bring back Maybelline Lash Sensational. My Mum tried the mascara once, hated it, so passed it along to me, and I've been loving it for my first coat of mascara on my top lashes (before I go in heavy with the Better Than Sex), and as a bottom lash mascara. Staying with the Maybelline trend, I couldn't not include the Fit Me concealer in 'Fair', which I have completely used up in the couple of months I've owned it. I posted a whole review of that baby over here.
Lately, I've developed texture on my skin around my chin and nose - the kind of texture that doesn't look great underneath foundation, and just generally lowers your overall mood. I have a feeling that it might be linked to hay fever, since its more of a rash than acne, but I've been using E45 cream twice a day and the texture has cleared right up. In a matter of days. I had to include it in this favourites, because I'm now convinced that E45 is a lifesaver.

In terms of lip products, three stood out as the only picks I'm really using at the moment. 'Cool Girl' by TooFaced is a matte liquid lipstick that I won in a giveaway hosted by Alice, and I'm so grateful since this formula is the only matte liquid lip formula I will use. I don't find it drying in the slightest, and this cool brown nude shade is right up my alley. The other Liquid Lip I've gravitated towards (and by gravitated, I mean I wear it literally every time I go on a night out), is Alyssa from Colourpop. A beautiful baby/medium pink satin shade that I die over every time. I'm not going to elaborate much on the fact that I included the Bare Minerals Gloss in 'Flirt', because y'all know how my heart beats for that gloss. Enough said. 
When I haven't been wearing acrylics, I've been wearing a Morgan Taylor nail polish in the shade 'Watch your step, sister!' (I can't say that out loud and take myself seriously at the same time). It's a pretty neon pink, that doesn't chip easily and applies like a dream. As for perfume, I've been wearing Accord No1 Floral by Zara which, as you can probably imagine, is a strong floral, feminine scent.
Finally, my Z palette has been my best pal. I even left it at home by accident when I went back to university and had to ask my Mum to send it over in the first class post. The two additions to my palette that I've used non-stop however are 'Issues', a peach nude by Colourpop that works beautifully as a crease colour, and 'Grandstand' by Make up Geek, a foiled copper/red brown that is a stunning lid shade. I'm such a convert to the single shadow lifestyle, let me tell you.


Thursday, 15 June 2017

I Write For A Newspaper!

By far, one of my favourite things about university has been joining a writing society. It occurred to me yesterday that I've never spoken about it before over here, which makes little sense considering that this is just another platform I use for writing.
The Gryphon is the University of Leeds Newspaper, and I'll never get over the thrill I get at seeing my words in an actual newspaper. So exciting. I thought I'd add links in this post to all of my articles (since they're all posted online as well as some in print), so you can have a read if you fancy. I don't tend to stick to one genre; I write for the 'Blogs' section of the newspaper, which is essentially an opinionated mish mash of anything you're passionate about. Its ideal!
Essentially, discussing the power of an era of beauty and lifestyle bloggers, and how we're often stereotyped unfairly. Probably the article of most relevance to my blog, and definitely one that I'm proud of. GIRL POWER.
I think, as writers, we're all a little bit attached to the tendency to over-think things. Here I talked about why that's not necessarily a negative thing, if we train ourselves to think of our minds in a more positive light.
I'm more than a little attached to paperbacks. Enough said. 

The closure of the South Lakes Safari Zoo in Cumbria sparked an article surrounding the morality of zoos, and how we commoditize wild animals for our own gain. This one is a bit of rant!
Without a doubt, this is my favourite article that I've written, and if I was going to point you in the direction of any of these, it would be this one. A controversial topic among bloggers and vloggers, but one that needs to be considered since it has such a direct impact, and one that is very close to my heart.

As a geography student (and a human), Trump's withdrawal from the climate agreement wound me up. This is my first attempt at a political article, something I was hesitant to write, considering I'm much more of a non-factual, opinionated writer.

I plan to keep updating you guys on my articles if you fancy reading them, either by renewing this post, or sequential posting. I'm so excited to continue writing for the paper in my second year, especially as I'm the online editor for 2017/18!


Monday, 12 June 2017

A Limited Edition Morphe Treat

When Beauty Bay announced that this palette was back in stock, I think I might have squealed. I've been on a beauty spending ban during the last couple of months, and considering I didn't buy a single item during that time I thought it was justifiable to pop onto BB and buy the Limited Edition Morphe 25B Bronzed Mocha Eyeshadow Palette (£19).
I was drawn into this palette mainly because I think the style and packaging of the product is gorgeous; the transparent lid means that you can easily see the shades inside, something that I also love about my holy grail Z Palette. There's just something undeniably jazzy about transparent packaging, am I right? I would however be a bit wary of travelling with such a heavily plastic product - the thought of a suitcase disaster like that practically brings a tear to my eye.
The square layout of the 25B is different to the usual large Morphe palettes and more compact, which I think I prefer - 25 shadows for under £20 is a bargain that I just couldn't pass up! Particularly now that its Summer, and I get the opportunity to wear make up more often since I'm not stuck inside a room revising (hallelujah).
This isn't a Beauty Bay review, but I couldn't not mention that this arrived the morning after I clicked 'order', despite only selecting standard delivery. Now THAT is customer service.

The other option for these limited edition palettes is Copper Spice, and I may have to pop back online to pick those copper shades up later in the Summer, but for now I just couldn't resist this collection of deep browns and purples. When I was swatching the shadows for this post, I think I sat there for a good two minutes just staring at the pigmentation. Hooooly moly does this palette have pigment. (And I'm talking opaque colour pigment. Swatches at the bottom of the post!)
As always when it comes to these kind of palettes, the shimmer shades are the goldmine in terms of colour payoff, but I was pleasantly surprised by the range of mattes. The only way I can think of describing the formula is buttery, as the shadows are smooth to the point of just gliding onto the eyelid. Morphe consistently impress me with the quality of their palettes; I've never tried one of the larger products, but everyone raves about them and if they're up to the standard of this 25B, I can see why.
I can't wait to play around with this and see what looks I can create - my only qualm is that the shades don't have names, so I can't show you my current favourites (but think all of the shimmers and brown mattes). I've been waiting months to get my hands on this, and I'm pleased to say that it does not disappoint in the slightest. 


Saturday, 3 June 2017

Staying Calm

If there's one thing that I will spend my life trying to accurately master, its the act of staying calm. I'm a truly positive person in general, and get excited about the littlest of things, but the other side to me is one of worry. Part of growing up (some may call it adult-ing), is learning what soothes you, and calms your nerves. Throughout my teenage years I think I've near enough perfected my list, so I thought I'd share the wisdom, because there ain't nothing worse than that panicky feeling in the pit of your stomach.
I don't think there's anything in life that writing can't solve, honestly. I'm assuming that this might be a mutual feeling, since a lot of us write on our corners of the internet - sitting down with a notebook and filling it with thoughts and fiction has always been a kind of solice for me. There's something about expressing your thoughts that lets the negative ones seep away. Side note: writing with a hot chocolate gives you bonus points.
Therapy Balms
This is a new one for me, and I recently wrote a post about my favourite therapy balm brand here. Focusing on such a strong scent takes my mind off the long list of worries in my head, and for at least a minute, I let my mind become a clean slate. (Sometimes, a minute is all you need. For me, panicking happens very quickly, so a minute of calm makes a world of difference).
Most of the time, reading in general settles me in about five minutes flat. Occasionally though, I'm too restless to shift my attention to a novel, so snuggling up in a blanket and reading a couple of poems gives me enough time to divert my attention. I received 'Milk and Honey' for my birthday in April, and its a goodun'. Wholeheartedly recommend. Rupi Kaur has a gift for phrasing thoughts so beautifully and eloquently.

Making lists
This method is an old one. I vividly remember my Mum telling me to make lists in my mind when I couldn't get to sleep/calm down back in my younger days. When I was in primary school, we used to sit together every night and make a 'worry list' of all the things that had cycled around in my head that day, and I guess the habit has stuck. To-do lists are my favourite to focus on; feeling organised never fails to calm me down and the practice of handwriting a list can also be a real gem when it comes to settling.
Keying into your senses
I've seen this circling around the internet in the last few months, and I've been trying it out a lot whenever I begin to feel anxious. Essentially, think of all the things you can smell/see/taste/hear/touch, and again (like the other methods) it shifts your attention to a different task. That's the theme around here; moving away from the stressful thoughts and towards anything else that you can grasp, is what really helps. I know that for some people TV is effective - personally the consistent noise unsettles me and I prefer silence, but its all a learning curve to find what works for you.
If you have any methods of your own, I'd love to hear them in the comments! I hope you're enjoying the slight shift away from a purely beauty based blog; I still adore writing about my glosses, but lifestyle is a genre I want to incorporate more and more. Particularly with mental health, which I've kept silent about in the past but finally feel comfortable talking about.


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The High End Products I Have No Trouble Justifying

Happy Tuesday!
I'm currently writing this in my dressing gown with a huge mug of mocha, watching Leeds from my window on the 17th floor. Isn't life peachy?
There are some products that I turn to time and time again when it comes to High End, and even though they don't always make it into my ride or die everyday makeup bag, I have no trouble justifying the $$$ I spend on them. Sure, the drugstore has a lot of gems that I would never stray away from (maybe that can be a future post, who knows), but isn't it a lovely feeling walking away from the luxury counters with a spontaneous purchase? I know this can't just be me.

My NARS Multiple in 'Orgasm' is immediately what I think of when I try and list my favourite high end products. I use this as a duo cream blush/highlight combo, and the "sheer warm pink with golden shimmer" is absolutely gorgeous in summer, let me tell you. Nothing beats that sleek matte black packaging; gimme all that NARS lovin'. This is £29, but if you're feeling spendy and you want a memorable product, this is your one.
When it comes to liquid lips, I am unbelievably picky. If it isn't comfortable, or even slightly drying, then its out of the equation. The Jouer liquid lips are stunning when it comes to formula and shade range - I own two of the metallic shades in 'Snapdragon', which has a whole post over here, and 'Citronade Rose', a beautiful ballet slipper pink. These feel as soft as a cloud (lets just pretend I do actually know what that feels like) and stay put for a good few hours. And £15 is not astronomical for a good quality liquid lip.
Preeetty sure you've heard me bang on about the MAC Mineralise Skinfinish a couple of times already, but if you haven't heard me say it, listen closely. I know this is typically a face powder, but the medium/dark shade is a lovely light warm bronze for pale skin. £24.50 is a lot to pay for a bronzer, but this is a high end product post, and I wouldn't hesitate to repurchase this. I find that MAC products are usually my favourites when it comes to bronzer/contour *cough* Harmony blusher *cough*.
The Urban Decay De Slick setting spray has been a regular in my collection since day one, the early makeup years. I literally wore this in a desert and my foundation didn't slide. Urban Decay, you the real MVP. I bought this mini version recently for £10 and it is the cutest size to pop in your handbag to top up throughout the day.
Last but not least, my top find of 2017. Bare Minerals Buttercream Glosses, ILY hunnies. £17 is pricey but believe me, I cannot stress enough the perfection in this formula. I did a whole post about these a couple of weeks back that you can read here, where I sing their praises on a whole new level. I would buy so many of these if money would allow, and have not a single regret. 100% justified, all day every day. 


Friday, 26 May 2017

Scentered || A Natural Remedy*

I feel invested in every collaboration I choose to partake in, but this one guys, this one is pretty close to my heart. This post contains anxiety-related content: trigger warning.
For me, the first sign that the day is going to take an unwanted turn in terms of my anxiety, is a heavy feeling in my chest that I can't seem to shift. This is usually accompanied by a fast heartbeat and a click in my mind that begins to tell me that its going to be difficult to continue to breathe. Although panic attacks rarely affect me as much as they did when I was sixteen, feeling it creeping up on me every now and again is still one of the scariest moments I find myself encountering. I'm pretty good at breathing exercises (you can find a lot of these online!), but I've found a natural remedy that instantly helps to soothe me and clear my airways - even if they were most likely clear already, it eases my mind.
When I attended #CarnLIVal a while back, I received a 'Scentered' therapy balm; you apply this product to pulse points in times of stress, inhale, and hopefully the scent will bring you back to a calmer reality. I have to admit I'm a cynic, and I was unconvinced that a 100% natural balm had the ability to do, well, anything. Determined to persevere with the product, I used the 'Love' balm (Rose, Patchouli and Cedarwood) in the middle of the night when I woke feeling anxious, and holy moly this stuff is incredible. I am unbelievably impressed with these balms - regardless of whether the effect is psychological or physical, I continue to be amazed when these calm my mind.
Obviously, this doesn't promise to immediately and consistently rescue you. It would be a miracle if it did, and if the antidote to panic did actually exist, I'm sure I wouldn't be first to discover it.  However, focusing on such a strong scent manages to detract focus away from other thought processes, and anything that might help a little is worth looking at, right? I contacted the team at Scentered after keeping the 'Love' balm in my handbag for a couple of weeks, to let them know how much I appreciated the product, and they were kind enough to send over two other balms for review. The 'Be Happy' balm (Grapefruit, Lemon Myrtle and Spearmint)* is described as 'sunshine in a stick', which I think is adorable. The 'Stress Less' balm (Chamomile, Neroli and Mandarin)* is definitely a balm I was grateful for in the last week during my first year university exams. 

The balms retail at £14.50, and you can browse the range of natural remedies here, and over on their twitter. If you have a friend or family member with anxiety it can be really tough to know how to help them; mental illness leaves a lot of people feeling powerless. I think this could be a lovely pick me up to give someone to help them through a tough period of life; I wouldn't recommend a product that I don't truly believe in, particularly when it relates to issues like this.
Thank you to the team at Scentered for such a comforting product, and I hope some of you benefit like I do from this natural anxiety aid.
*These products were sent to me to review, but all opinions are my own.
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