Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A Few Thoughts On 13 Reasons Why

I realise that this post doesn't have flashy photography or the most light-hearted of topics, but some things just need to be said, you know?

If you’re a regular on Netflix, then it’s likely that you’ve stumbled across or heard about the newest viral TV addiction; 13 Reasons Why. Primarily, the buzz surrounding the show might have been related to Selena Gomez being the producer, but now that eyes have turned to the production itself, the focus has changed. It’s a teenage suicide storyline, and one that I have my doubts about the safety of.

When I was sixteen, and my high school conducted mock interviews, I remember sitting there, hands shaking a little, when the interviewer asked what my favourite book was. Finally, a topic that I felt I could talk about for hours. The answer came immediately to me, I had never read a book as poignant as 13 Reasons Why (written by Jay Asher), a book that taught me the power of words and the consequences that you think nothing of in the split second it takes you to act. The TV show, clearly aiming to do the same thing, seems like a misguided attempt in my eyes. A creation made in support of the vulnerable, without actual thought for the vulnerable audience watching.

I am all for raising awareness about mental illness; it’s critical that we step up and address the issues that affect such a large proportion of the population. There’s a difference however, between raising awareness, and completely missing the issue at hand. 13 Reasons Why portrays Hannah’s suicide as a mystery; who will the next perpetrator be, the next tape? Teenage suicide is a subject often skirted around, so it makes no sense that when a team decides to address it head on, it’s treated like a game. There is also an extreme lack of attention paid to mental illness itself, the basis behind such realistic storylines lost in the revenge plot. If you're a member of the audience, watching in the hope to better understand mental illness, I don't think this is the best platform for it.

My main dislike for the adaptation manifests itself in a few, key scenes. Mental health organisations have expressed concern for the audience watching episodes containing suicide, self-harm, and sexual assault, all of which are intense. And graphic. Awareness is important in today’s society, but surely some elements should remain subtle. Trigger warnings are included, which is one saving grace for the show, but the graphic content still remains an issue. Not everyone that should listen to trigger warnings, do. That vulnerable audience, sitting in their bedrooms and relating to Hannah, being presented with a glorified instruction list, need to be protected. If you identify with the classmates that added to her justification for death, you’re likely to walk away slightly more conscientious. If you identify with Hannah, there is a potential to leave with something a lot more dangerous. A justification for your own.

It’s clear when you press play that this was a movement with innocent, and well-intended, motives. For the majority of people watching, it has likely had a positive influence – left room for thought, and time to consider the way in which we treat our peers. For those like the protagonist, I am left with the fear that the programme may have inspired the opposite of what they set out to do.
 
I would love to hear your thoughts about the programme; talking about this is something that should be encouraged, not shied away from.
 
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Sunday, 23 April 2017

The New-In Drawer

 
If there's one task I turn to if I want to chill myself out, its re-organising my Alex Drawers (I've only just realised how sad that sounds, but I'm sure some of you will relate). During my latest therapeutic sort-out, I decided to incorporate a 'new-in' drawer, since I constantly have new products that I need to trial and review, and shoving them in the back of other drawers occasionally leads me to forget about them. I thought it might be interesting to show you a few items from the drawer, as a little sneak peek of what I'm currently trying out, and what might feature over here during the next few weeks.
 
First up is a repurchase, but I know that the product had a rebrand, and let me tell you, I'm kinda in love with the revamp. The Urban Decay setting sprays cannot be beaten in terms of keeping your make up in place, I remember reviewing one a couple of years ago after I used it in Death Valley (one of the hottest places on Earth), and my makeup didn't slide. I know. This time I went for the travel size; the spray lasts forever and it seemed more economical to just buy the small version for now. So far, I love this just as much as the large version, and this only set me back £10. 

 
Next up is the bareMinerals Gen Nude Buttercream Lip Glosses, which I won't talk much about considering I have a lip swatch and review post scheduled, but man these are beautiful. Formula, colour range, pigmentation, you name it, this product has it. So much so that I went back and bought another one. You know how critical I can be of glosses, but these just hit the spot.
 
The Tropic 'Spotlight' highlighter was sent to me to review, and I have been absolutely loving it under my foundation for a light, natural glow. You can read my full thoughts on this product (and another Tropic Limited Edition summer addition) over here. As someone that usually gravitates toward powder highlights, I was surprised at how easily I took to this. I'm keeping it in the new-in drawer however, so it doesn't get lost in the chaos of my highlight drawer, which is a hot mess.


 
The Makeup Geek Plush Matte Lip Cream in Daredevil is a liquid crème lipstick that I was gifted at a blogger event, and when I saw how bold this colour was, my heart sank a little, as I don't usually stray much from the nude/mauve spectrum. I was also given a bright pink, which sadly is way too bold for me to pull off, but I tried Daredevil a couple of days ago and its a beautiful lilac. Not too neon or bold to be wearable; I am over the moon to have found a lilac that I feel comfortable wearing, so this is staying in my trial drawer for the foreseeable future.
 
Finally, for my 19th I received the Real Techniques Blush Brush, something I've had on my wish list for a long time. The Real Techniques brushes make up the majority of my collection, and since I don't own any other brushes that cater specifically to blush, this seemed like a good choice for an addition. So far I really like the way that this applies blush, but I still need to play around with it as I don't quite have the blush technique down. One thing I will mention though, it that this brush is incredibly soft, a factor that I find makes it much easier to apply a light layer of product. 


 
What products have you got lined up to try next?
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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Tropic Shimmer Collection || Summer 2017*

 
You all know how much I adore my Tropic skincare routine, so when their PR contacted me to ask if I wanted to try out the new Summer launch of products, I practically jumped at the chance. I was sent the 'Spotlight' Cream Highlight* and the 'Summer Goddess' Shimmering Body Oil*, but I also know that they've released some sun protection products and deliciously scented shower gels. If summery products tickle your fancy, you can check out the whole collection over here.

 
Let's start with the cream Highlight, which retails for £18 and is described on the website as a "soft shimmer highlighter to brighten and illuminate your complexion, while enhancing cheekbones and creating a dewy glow". I'm usually much more of a powder highlight girl, I find them easier to apply and sometimes I find that cream/liquid highlights are too intense for the natural look that I prefer. Spotlight is perfect for pale complexions, a pale pink shimmer that looks beautiful underneath or over foundation for a soft glow. I like that this works well under my base if I want a natural look, as a lot of creams don't blend into foundation well. This is an expensive highlight, but you don't get any texture (it contains Vitamin E for moisture) which is a major bonus, and it feels lovely on the cheeks. I would label this as a less intense and more wearable version of High Beam by Benefit.
 
 
The Shimmering Body Oil (£28) is by far what I was most excited to try out, considering I've never played with a product like this before. You apply the body oil onto your skin and massage until the oil sinks in - I was worried that this might give my arms and legs the glittery disco ball effect, but in reality it just leaves a gorgeous summery shimmer that looks amazing for a night out or on holiday. A little amount goes a long way, which is ideal since the price is quite high, and it smells incredible. The oil has "scents from Tahitian and bourbon vanilla", and whilst this isn't sickly, it does leave a subtly sweet scent on your skin, like the summery sun cream scent you associate with the beach. Another element that I love is that it doesn't leave your skin feeling tacky or oily like some body oils would, but just adds moisture so that you can get away without your typical body butter/cream. This product would make a lovely gift for someone spending time in the sun in the upcoming months, and you need to catch it quick as this beauty is a limited edition product!
 
 
Thank you to the people at Tropic for giving me a glimpse inside the new summer collection; I'm so impressed, particularly as I've never trialled their makeup range before. If you're looking for a couple of new additions to your routine to spice things up for summer, then I'm confident that you'll love these items.
 
*These products were sent to me for review, but all opinions are my own.


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Saturday, 15 April 2017

Birthday Colourpop Haul

 
When my Mum asked if I wanted to make a Colourpop order for my birthday, I jumped at the chance (quite literally, if I remember correctly). If you've been keeping up with my posts over here during the last few months you'll know that I'm on a one way track to becoming a Colourpop hoarder, so I can't wait to show you the newest additions to my collection. Even with customs I think this brand is amazing quality for the low prices; I personally don't think the Satin and Gloss lip formulas can be beaten by any other brand.
 
Okay, surprisingly, one of the items I'm happiest with is the shader Brush - perfect to apply the Super Shock shadows onto the eyelid. The fact that the brush is so flat and firm means that shimmer can really be packed on, ideal since normal eye brushes don't pick up the pigmentation of those particular shadows. For $6 you can't go wrong, and its baby pink as well, which just completes the package.
 
Moving on to lip products (the crème de la crème when it comes to Colourpop), I chose two Satin finishes. Alyssa, from the Kathleen Lights collection, is a dreamy muted pink that was a bit of a risk considering light shades of pink sometimes wash me out, but one that I'm happy I took. The Satin formula is so much more comfortable than the matte, and this is a lovely everyday pink. Baracuda is a "warm, deepened rose", which just sounds comforting, don't you think? I can't wait to wear this on a night out when I get back to Leeds.

 
 
From the Nectar collection I decided to get one of the Lippie Stix, which are even more creamy with the new formula and just glide onto the lips. The shade I popped into my basket was 'Faded', a rosey coral lipstick that is going to suit the summer months perfectly. Although I do prefer the packaging and formula of the satin lips, when it comes to comfortable colour this collection is a close second.
 
Now if you've seen any of my other Colourpop rambles, you might have noticed that the Ultra Glossy Lips are my holy grail product; I don't think I could live without them at this point. I spend my beauty blogger life trying to find the best glosses, and the formula and pigmentation of these ones are to die for. For $6 I would recommend them to anyone! Weirdly, I added a backup of 'Aquarius' (the ideal pink-nude gloss) to my basket, but then lost my original, so when this birthday package arrived I could have cried with happiness. You don't know how much you depend on a gloss until its gone.
 

 
 The other two shades I went for were 'Finders Keepers', a mid-tone mauve in a crème finish that has just a hint more blue in it than Aquarius, but is definitely on the same spectrum. Love love love, another favourite in my Colourpop collection. 'Tight Fit' is a peachy pink metallic that I know I'll reach for a lot in the upcoming months; I don't like the metallic finish as much as the crème but this is still a lovely, everyday gloss. It would look hella cute over a nude lipstick to jazz it up a bit.
 
 
I also picked up two of the pressed shadows to fit into my Z-palette, in the shades 'Made to Last' (a matte, neutral mauve), and 'Come and Get it', which is a gorgeous duo chrome rose gold. So far I'm impressed with the formula of these shadows, up there with Make Up Geek quality with just a little more fall out, but that's forgivable. The colour pay off of these applies well with any brush, unlike the super shock shadows.

 
Speaking of super shock, I of course had to add to my running total. The Spring Nectar collection introduced a shadow in the shade 'Flipper', something completely different to my usual neutrals but one that I immediately fell in love with. It's described as a "soft tangerine with silver glitter" and I just think its beautiful, and a subtle way of going bold. This one looks really pretty with 'Come and Get it' when combining pinks and oranges in an eye look. The other shadow I picked up was 'Nillionaire', a bronze with pink and gold glitter that I haven't tried out yet but know is going to be right up my street. I can't wait to see how it applies with the shader brush.

Top to bottom: Faded, Baracuda, Alyssa, Finders Keepers, Aquarius, Tight Fit.
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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

CarnLIVal

(Credit to Hannah at Hxanou.co.uk, who is one of the nicest people and a top notch photographer.)
 
If you keep up to date with blogging events in the North West, I'm pretty sure that you'll have heard of #CarnLIVal before. Katy and Sam organise fantastic events for bloggers and brands to connect and network, and every event I attend of theirs just gets better and better. How they are going to top the event held in Hope Street Hotel on the 8th of April I do not know - the venue was beautiful, the brands were amazing, and the company was pretty great too. One of my favourite things that has come from my blog is getting to meet likeminded people; girls who feel most at home taking photos and writing page after page of rambles to post on the internet. We're a special breed.
 

 
Hope Street Hotel is hidden just past Bold Street, and the balconies look out over the city, making for some gorgeous shots of Liverpool. It also seemed like the perfect place to stay for a trip to Liverpool, FYI. The sun was shining, it was my 19th birthday, and everything just felt a little bit like magic. I'm so impressed with the work that the girls did to make this event a possibility, and the hard work that must have gone into recruiting brands and PRs so that both sides of the story benefitted as much as possible. It was also cool to see so much going on for charity; you may have seen on the news lately that truancy rates are high in schools where young girls don't have access to sanitary products - to see so much being done for them was inspiring, and I'm glad to have contributed to that movement.
 
(Credit to Hannah, who I loved seeing again! You can visit her wonderful blog here.)
 
 
As for the gift bag, the girls know how to wow. 10/10. I haven't emptied out the entirety of my bags for this photo but I have picked a few of my favourites to show to you. Brands like Makeup Geek, No7 and Kiko Milano are some of my favourites, so to receive lip products from them as well as a stunning indigo lipstick from Illamasqua was such a nice surprise. Haircare brands like Toni&Guy and Lee Stafford got involved, and I've shared out the hair items between my family members, since my little sister's favourite thing as a dancer, is hairspray. Sharing is caring.
 
I'm really excited to try products from DermaV10; I've never put effort into my skincare routine until this year so I can't wait to see how using a night cream affects my skin. There were so many products on offer from this brand, and they all looked worth checking out (which you can do right here). Other brands that I was over the moon to see in the bags were Body Fantasies, Zuii Organic and Fentimans, who I've worked with before and really respect as a brand.
 

The 8th was such a success in every sense of the word and I can't wait to attend the next event that Katy and Sam pull together.



 

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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Products on Trial #3

 
I've come to the conclusion that this series of blog posts is my favourite to photograph and write; I have so many products sat in my drawers waiting to be tried out, its nice to finally talk about them! I'm typing this post up in Starbucks with a white chocolate mocha (if you haven't had one, do it, this is an order), and life is feeling pretty good. Gotta love Sundays - although I think this is going up on Wednesday, so you gotta love them too.
 
Amika 'The Shield Style Extending Spray'
The first product I want to discuss I am SO excited about. In my Birchbox last month I received a small bottle of the Amika heat protectant, and I think I'm in love. You guys know that I have to adore a non-makeup item to write about it over here. First of all, the design of this bottle is so beautiful (some might say, groovy), and the design means that it sprays evenly, a fine mist. I subject my hair to a lot of heat, which means that I'm always on the lookout for a good protection mist - this one smells out of this world delicious, with notes of Sea Buckthorn and Berry, and can be used on dry or damp hair. When I used this for the first time I ran into my sister's bedroom so that she could feel the softness of my hair, I am literally obsessed with this. The full size is £20, but I would definitely be prepared to pay that for the results of this product.

 
Soap&Glory Mother Pucker Lip Gloss in 'Spun Sugar'
I've wanted to try this for a while now, since I heard that its a non-tacky formula and that this shade in particular, is a gem. This set me back £9 (but Boots always has some sort of deal running), and I have to say that this took me by surprise with how much I liked it. I've never tried a plumping gloss before, and it takes a while to get used to the feeling, but this is a beautiful sheer, shimmery gloss that makes your lips look super-kissable - just saying.
 

Benefit 'They're Real' Double the Lip in 'Lusty Rose'
These new lipsticks from Benefit are usually £16.50, but I received a smaller sample in my Birchbox to try, and for me, this isn't really up my alley. The lipstick claims to be a lipstick and liner all in one, but I feel like it just acts as a two toned lipstick. The shade is pretty, and I will wear it, its just that the liner isn't as 'liner-like' as a good old pencil, and I would struggle to justify paying so much for this had I been out to buy this myself. Maybe if I play around with this a little more I'll learn to love it, but it lacks the initial wow factor that I had set my expectations for.

 
Balance Me, Instant Lift Primer - £22
If you like the look of dewy skin, then this is 100% a primer that you're destined to like. It claims to be blemish and pore minimising, which I did notice to an extent, but the main thing I have to say about it is how anti-drying it is. I tend to go for the matte look with my foundation, so I'll most likely pass this along to my sister, but I won't pretend that this isn't a great product. My skin looked brighter and it kept my foundation in place all day, so I'd consider that a win. If you have super dry skin and want your skin to have a dewy finish, I'm pretty sure you'd do well with this product.
 
Sephora Blush in 'Heated'
I remember hauling this last year (or the year before, I can't for the life of me recall the exact date), but it hasn't been until recently that I've rediscovered it and given it a fair shot. I now remember why I adored this so much when I first picked it up - this blush shade is so similar to Orgasm by Nars, but without the overly chunky glitter look that I'm not the biggest fan of. Its a beautiful shimmer pink-peach that would look amazing in summer, and it takes a lot for me to admit that I like a blush considering my deep-rooted fear of clown blush syndrome (that I just made up, not a real thing.) This cost £11, and for Sephora I think that that is pretty great.

 
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Sunday, 2 April 2017

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Lustre

 
If there's one thing I'm sure of at this point in my make-up collecting existence, its that my weakness, my kryptonite, is gloss (doesn't take a genius to work that one out, does it?) I think its one of the easiest products to get so very, very wrong; when I find a good one, its reason enough to hang onto it for dear life. Side note: I actually just lost my favourite lip gloss, so maybe I'm not clinging tight enough.
 
When I took a trip to London a few weeks back, which was actually a huge deal for me in terms of overcoming anxieties, I decided to splurge and get something luxury, to commemorate the step - any reason to buy beauty products, am I right? The Charlotte Tilbury Lip Lustre claims to be a "luxe colour, long lasting lip lacquer", and I purchased the shade 'Ibiza Nights' to put that claim to the test. The shade immediately stood out to me as something I don't already have in my collection, a gorgeous bronze shimmer that would look absolutely perfect during the summer months. 
 
 
The first thing I will say about this gloss (£16.50), is that when it says it brings shine, it isn't playing around. That mirror-like shine is intense. The product also contains Lotus Flower extract, which is "an anti-oxidant that protects, hydrates and soothes lips", and I have to admit, my lips do feel moisturised after wearing this, and only a few glosses in my make up bag can boast that. Sadly, on the sticky scale it doesn't perform as well as Colourpop or Smith&Cult, and there is a tackiness that would cause major issues on a windy day if you had your hair down. I can't say it bothers me to a high extent however, since the tackiness is on the low side and the rest of the qualities balance out the one thing that I wish it didn't have. We all have our faults.
 
 
Usually with a lip lacquer, I'd be expecting quite an opaque layer of pigment when I apply, which is why I was surprised that this one was on the sheer side. For me, that's an added bonus - I like sheer glosses and they're what I gravitate towards the most, but if you are looking for something a bit heavier, then I'd look at the other colours in the collection or steer away from this particular gloss. The shimmer in the shade 'Ibiza Nights' is the ideal balance between nothing-ness and in your face glitter particles, I like that the shimmer is subtle, but visible enough that it adds to the shine. All in all, I'd say that this is a pretty good gloss (not as good as my Ultra Glossy Lips, but I think I need to stop holding lip glosses up to that standard, its getting unfair). This luxury gloss is definitely one to watch out for in the upcoming summer months.
 
 
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