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Monday, 18 September 2017

BEAUTY || A Beginner's Guide to Lipstick.

Lipstick is a divisive make-up item. Some women depend on a bold lip as the foundation of their make-up wardrobes – no pun intended – whereas others shy away from the stuff. Both are valid make-up stances and I completely understand that lipstick is not everyone’s greatest love. I had several failed tries in adolescence when I thought fuchsia pink glitter lipstick was a good investment. Spoiler: it wasn’t.
But the beauty of lipstick is it can work as a suit of armour of sorts, helping you to look ‘put together’ when you’ve actually put minimal effort. Equally, if you’re ever feeling miserable about the world on a rainy February morning or just want to distract from the dark circles around your eyes, red lipstick is always the answer.
Image Credit: Lydia Hawken. Left to Right: ‘Sex Machine’‘Never Say Never’, ‘Cruella’, ‘Luxemburg‘, ‘Timanfaya’‘Mexican Rose’
I fell fast and hard for the stuff in my first year at Southampton when I discovered the online world of beauty blogging. Watching endless beauty reviews on YouTube allowed me to experiment vicariously with different brands and trends without actually having to gamble my money on a fad product. As such, a bright red lipstick became my signature look. NARS lip pencils defined my first year of university, I wouldn’t be without them.
These pencils are the perfect entry level lipstick in that they are so easy to apply on-the-go and the lasting power was like nothing I’d ever tried. Pictured above are a mix of their ‘Velvet Matte’, ‘Velvet Gloss’, and ‘Satin’ lip pencil ranges – there’s a finish to suit all tastes. I personally couldn’t be without ‘Sex Machine’ (NARS is a brand famous for its tongue-in-cheek names, specifically their iconic ‘Orgasm‘ collection) which is a beautiful mauve-y pink that suits all skin tones.
Image Credit: Lydia Hawken. Left to Right: ‘Sex Machine’, ‘Never Say Never’, ‘Cruella’, ‘Luxemburg’, ‘Timanfaya’, ‘Mexican Rose’
After breaking the bank on every brightly-coloured NARS lipstick I could find, my taste inexplicably became more refined as my initial love for an everyday red-lip wore off. If NARS lip pencils were the honeymoon period of my lipstick love story then nude shades represented the move into a long-term relationship.
During the 2016 trend of all things liquid lipstick, I made it my mission to add NYX‘s ‘Soft Matte Lip Cream’ in the shade, ‘Stockholm’, to my collection. After months of internet searching, I finally stumbled upon it in the Brighton branch of Boots and practically skipped to the counter, after also convincing my friend to pick it up ‘because she could double her money by selling it on eBay’. She didn’t, because it’s that beautiful-  a peachy, nude shade.
Image Credit: Lydia Hawken. Left to Right: ‘Stockholm’ and ‘Cannes’
The great thing about these liquid lipsticks is that they don’t strip your lips of all their moisture as is to be expected of a mattifying liquid product. Instead, NYX have created a comfortable, long-wearing formula in 34 shades – ranging from the weird and wacky (if you’re ever after a navy blue lipstick, ‘Moscow‘ is a great choice) to the subtle and everyday.
The best thing about them? They’re priced at an accessible £5.50 so you’re not taking too much of a gamble on them if you’re still not convinced. I also have the shade, ‘Cannes’, which is rosy red in colour – I reserve it for days when I don’t necessarily need a burst of colour but still want something to perk up my complexion.
Image Credit: Lydia Hawken. Left to Right: ‘Stockholm’ and ‘Cannes’
I couldn’t write this artilce without mentioning the make-up goddess that is Charlotte Tilbury. Having worked as a leading make-up artist during the 1990s, i.e. the age of the Supermodel, Tilbury launched her own brand in 2013 which focusses on re-creating iconic ‘looks’ inspired by old Hollywood glamour.
It’s a brand created by women for women and celebrates the ‘before’ and ‘after’ process as ‘beautiful before’ to ‘beautiful after’. Tilbury creates products that are lavish and meant to be enjoyed as a luxury rather than a necessity. An ethos I can certainly get on board with.
Image Credit: Lydia Hawken.
Although I’m not keen on caking myself in make-up on an everyday basis, Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks are where the brand excels. Of course, these are luxury make-up items and retailing at £24 each means they are certainly not a student-friendly price point.
However, to my fellow make-up enthusiasts out there, Charlotte Tilbury lipstick is what I reach for on an everyday basis. I usually buy them on a ‘treat yo’self’ whim and have yet to actually finish one, which is pretty impressive seeing as I’ve had these two nude shades for almost two years.
Image Credit: Lydia Hawken. Left to Right: ‘Secret Selma‘, ‘Miss Kensington’ (limited edition circa 2015), ‘Bitch Perfect‘, ‘Between the Sheets’ (limited edition circa 2016)
The lipsticks either fall into the ‘Matte Revolution’ category or the satin finish, ‘K.I.S.S.I.N.G’ range. Personally, I’ve fallen out of love with the matte lipstick trend and prefer the more classic sheen of a satin finish. They’re more comfortable and more relaxed as I go about my business as a stressed-out third year in the library.
However, if you’re still on board with matte lips then you don’t get a more comfortable application than ‘Matte Revolution’. As I type this, I’m weighing up how much I need her limited edition, ‘Valentine‘, shade. Just call me a Charlotte Tilbury addict.
So there you have it, the fully-fledged rambles of a self-confessed lipstick hoarder. Realistically, I could write a dissertation on this topic, my love of lipstick is just that great. The wonderful thing about lipstick is how it can make you feel. Whether its a conservative nude shade or a bold, bright red, taking the time to apply a lipstick before I go about my day just makes me feel more like myself. Such is the power of a bold lip.
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Sunday, 2 July 2017

WRITING|| Endometriosis.

I’ve been hesitant to write about this topic for months now. Partially because I’ve been feeling shy about tackling a subject that is so important to me. Yet mostly because I didn’t know how to do it justice in one simple blog post. But here goes.
I am 22 years old, and I have recently been diagnosed with endometriosis; a condition which affects 175 million women across the world and is the second most common gynaecological issue in the UK. And for those of you reading this who may not know anything about it – there’s sadly still a certain stigma attached to reproductive issues – the Endometriosis UK describes it as a ‘condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body.

We still don’t know why it happens, if its hereditary, and how to stop it from occurring. The only thing we do know for certain is that it is a deliberating condition with pain so severe that it can knock you out for days on end. The other difficulty is that everyone’s experience is different. Some women who have severe endometriosis have little pain and vice versa. I fall into the latter but remember being reduced to tears in my university library, trying to write a final year essay and being in excruciating pain and frightened because I didn’t know what was wrong.
I didn’t want to write the play-by-play about how I was diagnosed – it’s a familiar story for most sufferers involving several GP visits before being taken seriously – but it resulted in eventually seeing a consultant and having a laparoscopy (key-hole surgery) to get a diagnosis.
As anyone who has the condition will know, being diagnosed with a chronic illness is tough. Knowing that this thing will continue to affect you for years to come, potentially forever, is tricky to get your head around. 
Like with anything in life, people handle diagnoses differently. Some will go out and run a marathon for a charity supporting their illness. Some will educate themselves extensively on natural remedies. Apparently one plant-based diet can help sufferers manage their pain; I’m currently researching alternatives that don’t see my diet resemble a #glutenfree, #tastefree, #funfree food blogger Instagram feed. There's no way in hell I'm cutting out coffee but I should realistically use the excuse to reduce my sugar intake!
Instead, my way of coping is to scour the internet high and low to read about other people’s experiences in the hope that it will make me feel less alone.
Because I am most certainly not alone. But, at times, it definitely feels it. Sufferers are hesitant to talk openly about the condition because we spent years being told that cramps are just a part of life. On average, it takes a woman eight years to be diagnosed and in that period, has to visit her GP ten times before being taken seriously. While it has now been acknowledged that the NHS has to do more to help endometriosis sufferers, it’s not a surprise that we aren’t talking about it openly. Fighting for a diagnosis doesn’t exactly inspire sufferers to speak about life with the disease. But, as someone on the other side, I can’t help but feel the absence of a community of fellow sufferers. There are millions of us worldwide, after all.
No one is talking about endometriosis and its driving me mad. That’s not to say that the charity, Endometriosis UK, don’t do amazing work to help sufferers. I’m new to this community after all. But when I say ‘talking’, I mean really talking. Engaging, sympathising, understanding, listening. For this condition to become more widely understood.  
Sure, there’s been plenty in the news recently. In hindsight, 2017 is a good time to be diagnosed with the condition. There’s more exposure in the media now more than ever. Some better than others, of course. Never have I experienced rage like when I read about this study exploring how endometriosis affects the sex lives of men whose partners suffer from the condition. Somehow this was certified by the University of Sydney. There’s a long way still to go to say the least. But Lena Dunham - my feminist girl crush - is great for using her public platform to raise awareness of the disease and there's a strong presence of 'endo sisters' on Instagram as I've recently discovered.
I suppose I just want to be part of the discussion – to help raise awareness of this condition and eradicate the infuriating stigma attached to ‘women’s issues’. I can’t help but wonder if we’d know comparatively little about a disease that causes men pain and affected their reproductive health. My inner cynic says not.
Which leads me to the present. Now that I have the diagnosis I so desperately wanted – there were times when I questioned if I’d made this whole thing up in my head – I feel kind of stumped. It’s almost anti-climactic, as if I’ve finished reading a novel with lots of twists and turns and am left unsatisfied. I guess I’m just trying to figure out the next chapter.
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