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Friday, 25 December 2015

WRITING || Sitting Down to Blog.

Well. This is awkward. I can't help but feel a little embarrassed by my absence here. In fact, it's what stopped me from writing for so long. The first week slipped by, I thought I'd take just a little time off from my pretty demanding blogging schedule and return to it in a few days. Then my first term as a Second Year student began and that all went out in the window. Despite my best efforts of course! Blog photos were taken but never uploaded, ideas scribbled down but never fulfilled, and that's when I lost momentum. And you know, uni has a tendency to take over my entire life. But no complaints! It's been a fantastic three months and seeing as it's Christmas and all, I felt like it was time to sit down and have a catch up.
Where to begin? University is going well. Southampton really feels like a second home now. I live in a lovely big house with eight other wonderful people. And although not much work gets done at home, we certainly have a lot of fun. In terms of my studies, let's just say that I've had to read Ulysses this term - which should pretty much sum up how academically challenging some of my work has been. But it's been hugely rewarding, so you know, it wouldn't be a degree if it wasn't difficult at times.
There's also a new guy in the picture. I'd be lying if I said that he hasn't been a big part of my life the past three months.  However, back in July I wrote a post entitled, 'I'm Not Ready For My Other Half', which I found playing on my mind a lot when things started happening between us. Looking back on it now, I stand by a lot of the stuff I wrote there. In fact, I really enjoyed being single (I know, shock horror) so it's nice to know that it took quite a special guy to make me want to change my ways.
So since September, I've been socialising, writing essays, and working part time back at the store. I know it's a cliché but it genuinely feels like I've barely had a minute to myself looking back on it. Although I somehow managed to finish watching Parks & Recreation and re-watch half of Gilmore Girls... mysterious, right?
Anyway, back to the blog stuff. I have to say, although uni played a huge part in why I've been so inactive on my little internet space the past few months, I don't think it's solely to blame. Reading through my last few posts, I remember feeling uninspired - I had spent the whole Summer working so hard to produce interesting, thoughtful content as well as balancing a Full Time retail job. Looking back on it, I was so burnt out and tired of writing the same old kinds of posts. So I'm back and ready to shake things up a bit!
Of course, I'll never stray too far from my beauty writing - because hand on heart, make-up is one of my favourite things to write about. No shame, it's a passion of mine. But I'm an English Literature student, I love to read and I somehow want to convey that here. I'll be sticking to Diary posts on Sundays because... well because I love having them to look back on and I personally always like to get an insight into the person behind the blog. I'll be changing my schedule up a bit too - because it was just downright naïve of me to think that my university timetable wouldn't affect my blog content. Such a mistake Lydia! I haven't worked out the specifics yet but I'm hoping to stick to three or four days a week.
I've been meaning to write this for a long time and I'm sorry it's taken me so long. But it feels good to be back - I forget how easy and natural it feels to write these kinds of spontaneous posts. And you know what the best part of taking a break is? Coming back to it all with about a billion ideas for new content. I've bought a lot of new make-up because some things never change. Nor would I want them to.
So Merry Christmas to anyone out there reading this. Because if Google Analytics is anything to go by, there are still a few of you there. Thanks for sticking around, it means a lot. I'm off to read Lisa Eldridge's 'The Story of Make-Up' which I found waiting for me under the Christmas tree this morning - i.e. one of the best presents you can give a beauty fanatic. That or a good old book. Either one will do! x

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Sunday, 27 September 2015

DIARY || Back to Uni and Craving Wifi.

Well, all I can say is that my absence from the blogging world was a little unplanned. Nine whole days have gone by! But in my defence, and as many other students will understand, trying to battle with broadband retailers is nothing short of tedious and frustrating ha. I was just about able to publish my last three posts using my phone as a Data hotspot but then reached my contract's limit very quickly. Now that we're up and running again, I feel like I have a lot of catching up to do - even just peaking at my Bloglovin' and YouTube subscriptions is stressing me out!
But I'll let you in on a secret here, it was actually quite nice to have a break from blogging. Even if it wasn't planned. I spent the whole Summer scheduling posts way into the future, writing them whenever I possibly could (one was even written on a plane to New York ha), and spending hours promoting them once they'd been published. Of course, I do it because I love it but it is quite the commitment! Rambling aside, here's what I've actually been getting up to now that I'm back in Southampton.

I couldn't resist these roses in Waitrose last week. Reduced to just £3, this technically unnecessary purchase didn't exactly break the bank. Plus, it's true what they say - flowers have a habit of brightening up any room. Granted, I did take this photo when I first got them home but one week later and they're still going strong. I feel like buying discount flowers is going to become my new thing. Don't judge.
I've ummed and ahhed about whether to show my finished uni room in today's post - I feel like I might do a Top Tips for decorating an uninspiring space in coming weeks because my room sure was inspiring when I moved in two Sundays ago. So here's a sneak preview of my desk area which I've slathered with fairy lights, flowers, and anything to make it look a little more exciting ha. I know it's not to everyone's taste but I love this homely feel and making it feel truly my own. 
When you get home from a full day of moving Freshers into Halls and your housemate has cling-filmed everything you own. I spent a good half hour unwrapping it all - revenge will ensue.

I Instagrammed this photo when this first arrived in the post because I was just so damn excited. If you follow me on Instagram then you'll know what I'm banging on about, but the lovely guys over at NARS sent me a lip gloss and a matching phone case from their New York headquarters to thank me for being 'a loyal and unabashed #NARSISSIST'. You only need to type 'NARS' into my search-bar to see how much I adore this brand so it was lovely to get a little back from them. Easily one of the most exciting things that has happened since I started blogging. 
One of the best things about being a First Year at Southampton is the free bus passes - Second Year you have to fend for yourself a little more. Which means, I've been walking everywhere. Or at least when I can't convince my housemates to give me a lift! I walked into the City Centre last week and took a short-cut through the common by West Quay. It's nothing short of picturesque and made me feel all autumnal and happy. 
And finally, a very blurry Snapchat story of English Squad reunion. My lovely and slightly bonkers friends made it all too clear that they wanted to be featured on the blog - even squabbling about who had been in more pictures and who had inspired posts - so here you go guys, you're all here! Call me a pacifist haha.

Happy Sunday! With the return of wifi, posts will resume as usual from Tuesday xx

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Friday, 18 September 2015

BEAUTY || Easy Autumn Updates.

Autumn is my favourite time of year. I know right, how original of me. But I love it for the same reason that everyone else on the internet seems to. Oversized jumpers, Pumpkin Spice Lattés, Autumnal dog walks, crisp mornings, and picturesque fireplaces burning away. Yes, I descend into full Autumnal excitement from when the High Street stores start getting their first drop of coats (can you tell I’ve worked in retail?). So when everyone was moaning about our typical British Summer this year, I was internally egging it on so I could whip out the cashmere jumpers. 
But of course, there also beauty aspects to get excited about too. Hurray for the return of dark nail polish, deep shades of lipstick, and sultry eyeshadow! 
I've already devoted a post to just how much I love the Nails Inc x Alice + Olivia collaboration but when I was collating Autumnal beauty pieces, I couldn't not include these shades. 'Rose and Poetry' (a deep wine coloured pink) and 'Midnight Merlot' (a purple so dark it's almost black) are, in my opinion, the shades of this season. Of course it's pretty standard to gravitate towards dark colours as we progress into Winter but burgundy is the colour of AW15. Hey, I'm no fashion guru but if I can happily keep up with the trends at least when it comes to my nails, I'm happy. 
I purchased my first Esteé Lauder liquid lipstick during my final week of work and haven't stopped wearing it since. Buying a berry, purple shade was a bit of leap of faith but one that I'm happy I indulged in. Sometimes it's good to push the boundaries a little! I outlined my full thoughts in a post last week but this shade is just so Autumnal, it had to be included. 

And finally, the NARS 'Dolomides' duo intensity eyeshadow. A panic-purchase I made this time last year when I had two days to put together an outfit (and make-up obvs) for the Freshers Ball. Oh but it was a good 'un. These little compacts are so easy to use for when I had just starting dabbling in eyeshadows. I sweep the pinky-purple shade over the lid and then blend a tiny bit of the dusty-brown into the crease for a sultry evening look. Or if that's not intense enough, running a fluffy blush under water also makes these eyeshadows really pop - in fact, they're really designed to be used with water. Personally, I like to apply hundreds of layers of mascara so I usually keep eyeshadow pretty low key - but this compact is such a sweet Autumnal update. I'd be lost without it at this time of year. 
So there you are, my quick and easy updates for a Autumnal beauty look. In true Lydia fashion, there's nothing too fussy in there. Just paired down purples - a winning combination for the upcoming season.

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Thursday, 17 September 2015

BEAUTY || Post-Summer Hair.

If you’ve stumbled upon LydiaLulu at any point in the past 18 months then you’ll probably know all about my ongoing battle with my hair. Yes, it’s a daily struggle just getting it to co-operate and even then I admit defeat most of the time. Hair - 20 years, Lydia - 0.
It’s not all doom and gloom though - my long blonde hair is kind of my trademark. And this Summer I discovered new ways to try and fight back. Now that we’re approaching my favourite season of all, my Summer haircare is coming with me.
It all started with the Ogx Sea Mineral Shampoo and Conditioner combo I discovered when I was in the States. Ogx is a brand I’d never really dabbled in before. I’m very much a Herbal Essences turned Aussie/anything that’s on special offer in Boots kind of gal. And to be totally honest, I was always put off by the price of this brand. £7 per bottle of shampoo or conditioner? No thanks. I only invest in products I know will be worth the extra pennies and £14 on a drugstore haircare just seeped a bit steep. But when I was in America last month, I scooped up the Sea Mineral combo because… well because it was half price and I was curious. I ended up using it for the entirety of the trip and even went out my way to hunt down a Duane Reed on our final day just to pick up more. Yeah, I’m that kind of girl. 
Turns out my hair just downright loves this brand. It’s not too perfume-y - an absolute no-go for me as I hate other scents clashing with my fragrance! - and it feels really nourishing and rich. As a result, my hair feels really hydrated (the mask has been working wonders) but light and not weighed down with product. Afraid the mask looks like it's only available in the US at the moment but fingers crossed it makes it's way across the pond. 
I stand by the fact that these products are a little pricier but a little really does go a long way so I’d say that it probably evens out with the cheaper brands available on the High Street. Having said all this, I’m not particularly fussy when it comes to haircare - I’d love to one day try Living Proof - but when your hair is as high maintenance as mine, I simply can’t afford to splash out on products I need to use everyday. I think Ogx is my perfect middle ground.
Like I mentioned in my Sephora Haul, I picked up a tester of the raved-about Bumble&Bumble Surf Spray to see what all the fuss is about and I can’t believe it took me this long to try. It’s one of the best things that has ever happened to my hair! No complaints here but my hair is very thick and shiny which can sometimes leave it looking a bit flat and boring - the Surf Spray adds a bit of texture, making it so much easier to style, and keeps it looking good on days even when I just want to leave it alone. Best of all? It's completely unscented.
It keeps things looking perfectly undone if you know what I mean ha. I apply the spray to wet hair, running it through with my fingers, and then tie it up in a towel to enhance my hair’s natural wave. It’s a very Summery look that I’m bring into Autumn with me. Lydia - 1, Hair - tamed.

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Wednesday, 16 September 2015

BEAUTY || Mascara Wars.

I have been on the hunt for the perfect mascara. Don’t pretend you aren’t too - every make-up enthusiast is! It all started way back when I realised that I needed to stop bulk-buying the best-selling Benefit’s ‘They’re Real!’ mascara. I’m not quite sure when I first noticed that the formula was totally drying out my eyelashes but I did and the illusion was henceforth shattered. Before then, who knows what I was using on my lashes? Benefit’s ‘They’re Real!’ was one long love affair. 
I then directed my attention to Charlotte Tilbury’s ‘Full Fat Lashes’ for a while. All in all, a pretty good mascara. But when you’re used to the intense volume and drama of its Benefit counterpart, your lashes can be left a little lacklustre - but also much healthier! I used Maxfactor’s ‘False Lash Effect’ to pass the time before my next purchase which was, as expected, always when I was going to be in the States last month. So this post is a little overdue. Soz.
Having tried a tester of Benefit’s latest mascara offering, ‘Roller Lash’, in the March edition of Elle magazine, I had high hopes. I picked it up in Duty Free on a whim and was feeling pretty happy with myself. Mascara for the holiday was sorted. That is, until I actually made it to New York. Despite having already trialled and tested this mascara earlier in the year, I was so disappointed when I went to use it for the first time. The whole idea with this product is this it curls and lifts your lashes in one fell swoop. But for a girl with long, straight eyelashes, this isn’t always the case. Plus, the formula was so wet and clumpy, it left a really spider-y effect, circa my pre-teen years. I’ve also noticed that it has a tendency to run down my face throughout the day, leaving me with very obvious panda eyes without me realising.
Like all Benefit mascaras I’ve ever tried, the wand also scratches your eyelids which is not so fun either. I have a clumsy habit of always poking myself in the eye whenever I apply it - but that’s not the mascara’s fault of course..! 

Like most of the products I ended up buying in the States, Too Faced’s ‘Better Than Sex’ mascara came highly recommended from some of my favourite beauty bloggers based here in the UK. Plus, the first Sephora I went into had sold out which made me want it even more! The heart wants what it can’t have and all that. But all was not lost because I found it in stock in a spontaneous trip to the Fifth Avenue branch. And I’m so so happy I bagged it. I’d say this is doppelgänger of Benefit’s ‘They’re Real!’ minus the drying, impossible formula. I love this mascara because a few coats gives a very natural, everyday look but it can also be built up for an incredibly voluminous, evening appropriate smoky eye. It also applies like a dream and the bristles are soft enough to apply numerous coats without irritating your eyes.
Unlike ‘They’re Real!’, it’s so easy to remove at night and your eyes never feel weighed down by make-up. My only qualm is that it definitely needs topping up if you’re wearing it throughout the day - I would always take it to work with me to build it up on my lunch break.
‘Better Than Sex’ might be a borderline ridiculous name but in all honesty? This product is worth all the praise. Plus, the packaging is also right up my street. I’ve found that ‘RollerLash’ has much improved since the formula has dried out a little but I do feel like there is a clear winner between these two. But hey, you can never have too much mascara.

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Sunday, 13 September 2015

DIARY || Finishing in Retail and Packing for Uni.

I'm typing this on a Saturday evening, i.e. the night before I go back to Southampton for my Second Year of uni. And oh my goddddd, I'm feeling conflicted. I know, I know, just three months ago I was despairing about being home and what I was going to do with myself. But in that time I worked practically full-time and had developed my own little daily routine of visits to Pret and scheduling blog posts whenever and wherever I had the chance.
It's weird, it's like I'd only just adapted to being home and now it's time to shoot off again. Sure any other student bloggers will know what I'm talking about here. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining - I'm SO excited to get stuck back in to uni life and see all my friends - but it's always weird leaving home. Hmm. I'm just thinking out loud now ha.

My days off this week were spent squeezing family and friends in before I leave for uni. I managed to catch up with an old WHISTLES colleague (hey Felicity, if you're reading!) which was so nice as it'd been a whole year since we'd properly had a chance to talk. I've worked with so many great people in my time in both the service and retail industries but everyone always ends up going in their own directions - so it was especially nice to see Felicity after all this time. We chatted like no time had passed at all.
This wouldn't be a LydiaLulu Diary post without a picture of Django now would it? Albeit, as nuts as this cat is, he's not all that helpful when you're trying to take a quick snap. He REFUSES to stay still - but I did quite enjoy this photo of him mid-yawn.
Domino's Veggie Supreme pizza. Always. This was my Tuesday night and it was glorious. Although, having abstained for the whole Summer (literally don't know I did it), my all-time favourite pizza did leave me feeling a bit groggy afterwards. I may have to take it easier next time. Sob.An out-take of Friday's 'Estee Lauder Lip' post - because trying to take a good selfie, actually showing how nice a product looks, can get a bit boring. This one didn't quite make the cut but it did make me laugh.HOW CUTE IS PEGGY HOW CAN I LEAVE?? I took this picture and then she growled, that's how...!
Okay I'm going to get all student budget and eager now but this is probably the best bargain I've found in a long time. I like to have a big mug to drink my tea out of in the mornings - don't ask, it's a thing I have, I like the extra caffeine and tea somehow eases me into the working day.
Anyway, I broke my morning mug before I can home for Summer and I've cheekily been using my Dad's NY Times coffee cup everyday without him noticing. But if I took it with me to Southampton? Yeah, he'd definitely not be pleased. 
So I went on a mission in John Lewis during a lunch break to find a replacement and I stumbled upon this beauty in the 'Reduced to Clear' section. I bagged it for £2 alongside a matching cereal bowl. I was so chuffed - and how gorgeous is the muted pink/purple shade? Right up my street and didn't even break the bank. Winning.
And on the other side of the spectrum, I finally caved and bought a Diptique candle - I'd been lusting after the Violette scent for months now. I'd literally walk into Space NKs everywhere, go up and sniff it, and walk out. I thought it was about time. Plus, the way I justified it to myself is that my upcoming room for Second Year is a little on the grimey side (or so I'm expecting) - it'll feel a little more homey this way! Don't judge me.
And in true Lydia style,  I've left all my packing until the day before. And there's a lot. I always question how much stuff I truly need whenever I go back to uni. But there's nothing worse than getting dressed/putting your makeup on and realising you left something at home. So I just take it all with me, wherever I go. Thank god my Dad is driving me down! 
And I'm going prepared, I have all the tools to make my room all cozy - two throwovers, a posh candle. plenty of posters, and some fairy-lights too. I have a feeling this is going to be a good year.

Happy Sunday! xx
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Friday, 11 September 2015

BEAUTY || An Estee Lauder Lip.

Lipstick is my greatest love. The right shade can transform any look - from day to night, to sultry and sexy, to fun and playful - you just can't go wrong with a bold lip. It's got to the point where I feel naked without one. Gone are the days where I could apply some lip balm and be out the house in a flash. No siree, choosing the day's lipstick is a timely process. And one I wholeheartedly enjoy - my lipstick sets the tone of my day. I wish I could say I was joking..!
I actually saw this liquid lipstick (always a favourite round these parts) featured on The Chronicles of Her - a blog I've only just discovered. I saw it photographed and knew I'd have to buy it. The shade 'True Liar' is like nothing I have in my already pretty vast collection. It's definitely a purple - so it's absolutely not for the fainthearted - but it's berry undertones makes it that much more wearable on an everyday basis. 
I like apply to a very thin layer to start off with as this formula goes a long way. And when applied with the lipgloss wand, it's very tricky to only apply a little. Personally, I prefer this colour when it's just a stain as it's not so in-your-face. Although, when you really go for it - this colour is so eye-catching and beautiful. I can't wait to don it for nights out in Freshers Week as it can just feel a little 'much' for wear during the day.
My favourite thing about this Lip Potion (besides the colour, of course) is its experimental formula. I was expecting the finish to be incredibly drying - like the Stila equivalent I tried earlier this Summer - but found that it sits really comfortably on the lips. In fact, it's almost like a lip balm in its consistency which I personally love. When you first apply the product, it's very glossy and luscious and then dries to an almost matte finish which lasts well throughout the day. I would personally have liked it stay glossy in consistency because I love a Satin finish - but unless it's a NARS lip pencil, this usually negatively affects a lip product's staying power.
This is my first Estee Lauder purchase, I know right - shock horror, and I have to say I'm impressed. I've had my eye on the lipstick collaboration with Kendall Jenner and I might just have to indulge after how well this liquid lipstick has already fared. I always thought this was a brand targeted at older women - who knows - but after the success of 'True Liar', I'm totally on board. Did I mention it smells like sugary sweetness? Always a win in my books.
I'm so glad I took the plunge. Experimenting with lip colour is so fun and easy when you're used to it. Plus, purple is a shade I never thought I could pull off - with its deep, dreamy tones,
I can see myself pairing 'True Liar' with a more slouchy Autumnal outfit just to dress things up a little. Who says beauty and fashion can't work together?


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Thursday, 10 September 2015

WRITING || Learning Not to Overthink.

Hands up if you're a chronic overthinker? *inserts the waving female emoji - the blonde one of course because I actually like them to look like me lols*  Yes, this is going to be one of those posts.
Today I wanted to write a response to an article I read in the October edition of Elle - in true Lydia fashion ha - basically along the lines of what 'femininity' means to me. But whenever I broach a tricky topic on the blog (see here and here for details), it always takes me ages to articulate exactly what I'm trying to say for fear of a potential reader seeing a fault in my argument. Which is actually pretty silly when I type it out because there are always going to be counter opinions whatever I end up writing! Nonetheless, my thoughts get all frazzled and I usually have to take a break and come back to it later. Or in this case, feel inspired to write a whole different kind of post.

I've been an overthinker for as long as I can remember. In fact, thinking about when I started to overthink is causing me to overthink. I wonder when I started caring so much about what people were thinking? Why did I care? Was I unhappy at the time? Does overthinking make me unhappy? Why can't I escape my own thoughts?! It usually goes something like that.
Personally, I've always been a head-in-the-clouds kind of girl. Give me a chilled-out playlist and a long train journey and I'm content to sit back and watch the world go by. But when I'm in a bad mood - either I've had a bad work day, feeling stressed about uni, getting fed up of boys, or just boring old money issues - any kind of headspace can cause me to spiral with my own thoughts. And it doesn't just stop there. This negative, grumpy mood will endure while I'm trying to sleep, read, shower, catch the bus, or any second I have alone to myself on the shop floor. I'm the kind of person who goes over her own thoughts until she almost feels dizzy from it all.
I'm not perfect by no means - I've said it a million times before but I think it's so important to include these kinds of posts of the blog. Because this is my life. I stress about my finances. I often want to scream at customers but somehow manage to internalise that frustration and vent to the nearest person I can find. I often get scared that I'm not clever enough to be at the wonderful university that I'm attending, or capable of succeeding in the challenging degree I've chosen. As much as I love this blog, I do occasionally compare myself to other bloggers who have been doing this for half the time I have and are enjoying enormous success. And hand on heart, I write this blog for the sheer love of having a creative space to escape to - but I'd be lying if I said it doesn't get stressful at times. Sometimes I feel like the biggest fluke.
I feel like overthinking is a problem that affects women more than it does men - not once has one of my guy friends ever come up to me and just exploded all his thoughts all at once. I can't count the number of times I've met my girlfriends for coffee and this has happened. Without indulging my feminist tendencies completely, girls are pressured into 'having it all' - the perfect group of friends, the perfect partner, an exciting career, all while looking like Cara Delevigne  - it's not going to happen! There's not enough time in the day! I'm only 20 and even I can see that this isn't achievable. But that doesn't stop my thoughts spiralling as to why I haven't achieved this 'perfect' balance.
It's all fair and well for people to tell me to stop overthinking - I can see that it's a negative habit I have. But it's so much easier than done! So I've developed some silly little tips to help get myself out of a funk. Bring a book or a magazine along for your daily commute - even the trashiest weekly can navigate your thoughts in a positive direction. Or just simply distract you from dwelling on that really annoying thing your colleague said at work today. Diffuse the situation! Force yourself not to think about it. If that doesn't work, ride it out until you get home, run a bath, and watch something funny. And use a face mask - cleansed skin makes me happy, don't judge.
I'll always be an overthinker - it's just my personality. And this doesn't always have to be a bad thing, it shows you care. For me, it's just about reigning it in before I thoroughly ruin my day. But you know what, sometimes it gives you some great blogging inspiration so it's not all bad!

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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

BEAUTY || The Monday Morning Lecture Look.

Picture this. It's 7am on a Monday morning when your iPhone starts incessantly buzzing, trying to convince you to get out of bed. You seriously consider hitting snooze. You give in. Another nine minutes go by and you're faced with the same decision - by now, it's officially time to get up. Sound familiar? Yes I know I'm not alone in this daily struggle and the thought of 9am Monday Morning Lectures are already sending shivers down my spine.
But I'm always one to try and find ways to spend even longer in the comfort of my bed. Naturally. And so to reinvigorate me for the coming term, I've put together a quick make-up look that will ease me into the start of a new working week while also letting me get away with hitting the snooze button a couple extra times. Because there's nothing worse than caking your face in make-up when you're still half-asleep. In my experience, it doesn't end well! Admit it, you're not fooling anyone.
First off, make it your mission to find a lightweight, comfortable base to work with. There are plenty of BB creams, CC creams, and tinted moisturisers banging round the High Street these days. Personally, I'd be lost without this NARS offering which I reviewed back in August. See my full thoughts here, but to quickly summarise its a creamy, radiant base that keeps your skin looking healthy and glow-y. If you're not into a dewey finish then this isn't a product for you - but I've come to love and covet that natural look. It's not great when I'm really breaking out as the coverage is quite sheer.
I'd say this base depends heavily on the Collection Lasting Perfection concealer. Another huge beauty blogger favourite - so much so that it's near impossible to buy in your local Boots or Superdrug because it's always sold out. Plus, Collection have clocked on to their winning formula and bumped up the price. Rambling aside, this concealer is fantastic at covering up blemishes and brightening up my complexion first thing on a Monday morning. 
When I'm done with base, I'll set it with any old powder - Bourjois Healthy Balance is my all time favourite - and then use a tiny amount of blush to add some colour back into my complexion. I picked up Hourglass' 'Incandescent Electra' as part of my Sephora Haul last month and I'm not sure whether it's made it over to the UK yet. Sure it's only a matter of time. I find that this cool pinky, peach tone works perfectly with Becca's golden-toned 'Champagne Pop' Highlighter and I apply this pretty generously on the cheekbones to amp up the glowy-ness of this make-up look. 
When I'm happy with how my complexion is looking - it's all about brightening things up these days - I then focus on my eyes. To keep up with the gold-y, peachy theme of this make-up, I'll then do a quick swipe of a NARS Velvet Shadow Stick in the champagne shade, 'Goddess', along the eyelid and messily blend with my finger. I don't want this to be a noticeable eyeshadow look in the slightest - it's all about brightening the eyes and making them pop i.e. so you look awake and alert! These eyeshadow sticks don't apply quite as smoothly as the By Terry alternatives but they do the job.
Once this is done, the rest is easy. I apply a couple of coats of Benefit's Roller Lash mascara to really open up my eyes and then a slick of Fresh Tinted Lip Balm and I'm good to go. 
I know this has turned into quite a waffly post - but in actual practice, this look takes me 10 minutes max. So in my calculations, that means I can hit the snooze button twice and not be late. Or, you know, set my alarm for a slightly later time ha. Anything to make Monday mornings more manageable! On the plus side, at least you'll look alert during your lecture - even if you've had a big weekend! #studentlife

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Sunday, 6 September 2015

DIARY || Coffee, Books, and Non-Stop Work.

It's September. Like, er, how did that happen? It honestly feels like yesterday that I was moving out of halls in Southampton after finishing my First Year and despairing about what I was going to do with myself for the next three months. Flash-forward three months and I'm finding it hard to believe that I'm moving back in just six days.
I have to say, I'm a little nervous. I haven't written an essay in four months - my day-to-day life has revolved around WHISTLES (which is obviously no great hardship ha) so being back in lectures on a Monday morning will be quite the shock to the system. A welcome one though, I've stocked up on new stationery (as documented in my NYC purchases post) and even bought myself a new rucksack - a WHISTLES one, of course! 
Other than my impending return to uni, the past week has been a rather quiet one - I'm working full time in the store now and I've been trying to squeeze in my uni reading where I can... although it often gets substituted at the start of the month when the latest magazines hit stands. And I've been feeling a little under the weather and coldy the past few days - I'm desperately trying not to sneeze all over customers ha. 
For my days off work, I've been pairing my absolute favourite oversized cardigan with just about anything and snuggling up on the sofa with 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' which I'm reading for my upcoming Children's Literature module. This cardigan is life - I live in it! In fact, just writing about it inspired me to walk across the room and put it back on. I love the deep burgundy colour which is so on trend for AW15 and anything that looks stylish and is this cosy is a total winner in my books. 
Plus, I've been loving re-reading 'Alice in Wonderland' as I haven't read it since I was a child and it's like being in a constant state of déjà vu. I have gotten some funny looks reading this on the bus and on my lunch breaks in Pret but this book is just so clever and genuinely ridiculous that I'm actually so pleased I'll be studying it. Did you know that the Mad Hatter is based on Bertrand Russell? No? Neither did I.
Coffee and catch-ups with friends is my favourite way to spend an afternoon. An independent Tea & Coffee House has just opened up by me and I love its trendy decor and incredible coffee. Add free wifi into the mix and I can pretty much see myself living there during exam season in January.
Although, having said that, Starbucks have just re-launched Pumpkin Spice Lattés so I go out of my way in the mornings to pick one up... confessions of a coffee addict.
I'm going to say something controversial here. I think Elle is now my favourite glossy. I know, right? Groundbreaking stuff. For me, they just combine fashion, beauty, and real women's issues so beautifully and I always find myself looking forward to buying it each month. Although - still no Victoria Coren Mitchell? Her column is what got me into the magazine, she needs to return ASAP because I love her.
I feel like this is a modern women's magazine with real substance and heart. And I still bought it this month despite Miley Cyrus being on the front ha. In all seriousness though, their discussion of femininity in this month's issue has given me some serious blogging inspiration. 
Okay, so this isn't the best photo - but I was rushed and it looked alright at the time. I covered at the store in Parsons Green today and it's just such a nice area of London. This city is full of neighbourhoods that I've never really visited. This particular area of Fulham leading onto Chelsea feels like authentic London and it's been firmly added to my Bucket List of places to explore.

Happy Sunday! xx

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Friday, 4 September 2015

STYLE || The Investment Boot.

I can't resist a black ankle boot. I have five pairs and counting. FIVE. I feel guilty just typing that out. Who needs five pairs of black ankle boots?! Me, apparently. The only way I can justify my ridiculous spending habits is that a classic black ankle boot goes with absolutely anything.
Remember way back in March when I wrote the post, 'R.I.P Topshop Ankle Boots?'? Where I said goodbye to a much-loved, hardworking pair of boots and retired them to the charity shop? About that... it didn't really happen. Those Topshop babies just held too great a sentimental place in my heart, I couldn't bare to part with them. They were with me through my last year of school, when I dropped out of uni, I wore them for my WHISTLES job interview, and they're regularly donned on nights out in Southampton. Sure the Dune pair got a little use at first but they were just a little too high for everyday use. So my foolproof Topshop snuck back into rotation and have stayed there ever since. I still love them but they have the biggest hole peeping out the front - wearing them in public was becoming shameful!

So when these boots (WHISTLES Lotus Elasticated Top Boot) came into the store two weeks ago, my heart skipped a beat. They are such a classic 'Lydia' boot - they're everything I look for an ankle boot, it almost felt like I'd designed them myself! 
I love that they're gathered at the top - it just breaks up an outfit and adds a sophisticated, feminine detail while also making your legs look longer. Height wise, the heel is 8cm which is a tinnnny bit bigger than I'd normally go, but with shoes this pretty, my feet can suffer a little bit more than normal! The only slight down-side with these is that they're a suede finish which isn't so practical as plain leather - but hey, I've sprayed them with a protective shield. I'll just have to be extra careful with them in the rain but I personally like when a pair of shoes look a little loved. Just me?
I'm currently living in a uniform of Button-Down A-Line skirts, sheer tights (an AW15 staple according to British Vogue waheeey), and some kind of cami/jumper pairing on top - these boots work perfectly to dress things up a little. I tried them on with this beautiful Topshop coat today and they looked fab! I actually looked like a 20 year old woman for once - I'd say my attraction to the same oversized jumpers I wore when 16 prevents me from looking my age most of the time ha. 

I have to say, one of the things I love the most about these shoes is the silver hardware. I feel like women fall into two camps these days - either you're a gold or silver jewellery lady. Personally, I've always been about silver - maybe it's something I inherited from my Mum, who knows? Either way, these shoes just slit so effortlessly into my wardrobe - always the sign of a good investment piece - I can see myself living in them all season long. 
And yes, I'm aware that I'm always banging on about WHISTLES - and of course, I do work there so I'm naturally a huge advocate of the brand! But I am a pretty savvy shopper these days and I will only splurge on things I know that I'm going to get loads of use out of. Yes, my Fast Fashion days are long over - here's to more sensible and stylish spending! All starting with my fabulous new boots.

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Thursday, 3 September 2015

BEAUTY || A Pop of Champagne.

If you're part of the beauty blogging community then you'll understand the importance of today's post. Well, maybe not importance but excitement? Whatever.
Like I mentioned in my Sephora Haul last week, I finally bagged Becca's Champagne Pop highlighter. It only took three trips to Sephora over the course of a week - the final one being an hour before leaving for the airport 'just to check' if they'd been restocked in my absence. And as if by magic, there they were - a whole load of them sitting on the Limited Edition shelf right in front of me. I had to compose my self and conceal the internal squealing - but I did get so excited that my sister even bagged one too just to see what the fuss was about.
Believe it or not but I'm not actually an avid Jaclyn Hill viewer. For those of you who don't know, the make-up artist turned YouTuber has paired up with Becca to release this beautiful product so all her viewers can also have their 'highlight on fleek'. Sorry, couldn't resist. 
But I have to say, I don't watch all that many American beauty girls on YouTube - for the sole reason that they tend to use drugstore/Sephora products that you can't get over here in the UK. And life is too short to waste your time wishing for things you can't own - sounds stupid but I won't watch a tutorial if I know I can't own any of the products used if I take a fancy to them. So for me, my ears really pricked up when Vivianna Does Makeup, Lily Pebbles, Victoria of IntheFrow, and Alix of I Covet Thee began swooning over Champagne Pop. These British gals are my Beauty Heroes - when in doubt, go scrolling through their sites for inspiration. And as if I haven't spoken enough about my recent New York trip on the blog, I made it my mission to pick when up when I was over there in August.As regular readers of the blog will already know, I'm a huge advocate of the Charlotte Tilbury FilmStar Bronze & Glow - it's the only bronze and highlight compact I've ever really fallen for.  But Champagne Pop has changed things a little. Don'r get me wrong, the CT compact is still my go-to 'I'm having a bad skin day', but I've found that Champagne Pop really does complete a glowing skin look. It just gives that extra burst of healthy glow and packs a serious punch on the shimmery front. Knowing me, I use the tiniest amount to make things look a bit more natural and glittery (two adjectives that don't usually work together but somehow work in this one product) - but this stuff is so so pigmented, you can definitely build it up for a more glitzy everyday look. 
I also wasn't expecting the colour to be so bold - it really is the most beautiful golden peach shade and has an almost iridescent array of colours. The only slight downside of this is that you have to be careful about how much blush you apply beforehand and I've been laying off the bronzer completely to avoid the oh-so-obvious stripe along the cheekbones! 
As a result, this cute little highlighter has shaken my daily make-up routine up a little bit. Like I said, I'm not convinced about pairing it with bronzer and I've even been trying my hand at the new beauty trend on the block known as 'Stroping'. Paired with a NARS light golden Velvet Shadow stick and Charlotte Tilbury's 'Miss Kensington' lipstick, you have my favourite long-lasting make-up look of the moment. 
The only downside of this brilliant powder product? It's SO delicate. Yep you spotted that right - in the opening picture you can see an indent on my nail when I accidentally almost smashed it at work yesterday. I honestly would have cried. Oh, and it also has a strangely chemically scent - but as its smell has zero effect on the product's staying power or colour, this is something I've willingly overlooked! Trust me to go round sniffing my highlighters..!
For days when my skin is looking a bit dull - which is sadly most days at the moment! - I love taking this along to work with me and topping up in lunch breaks. It's a really satisfyingly portable little product that snaps shut and has a nice big mirror which is great when you're multitasking and trying to apply lipstick at the same time ha. 
This is one blogger's hype product that has certainly lived up to all its promises. It's hand-on-heart one of the best products I've bought this year - yeah, that's how much I love it! And yes, there are rumours that it's coming to the UK so it'll be readily accessible for us British beauty girls. Knowing me, I'll pick up another two just so my #highlightsonfleek even when I'm sixty.

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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

SHOPPING || NYC Purchases.

So guys, this is going to be a bit of a miscellaneous kind of post because I couldn't fit it under my usual 'BEAUTY', 'STYLE', or 'WRITING' headings. As anyone who has been on my blog in the past three weeks will already know, I went to New York at the beginning of month and tried to buy the whole of Sephora. Well, I didn't stop there - in fact, I made plenty of other purchases too. Mainly in the stationery and literature departments because LOL jk I'm an English Student with no self-control. And for me, no trip to the States is totally complete without a quick look in Madewell which turns into a massive trying-on and spending a little too much on a pair of killer jeans. Naturally.
If you're a reading-enthusiast then you haven't lived until you've been in an American bookstore. Specifically, the Barnes & Noble on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan - it's a Literature student's dream with four floors of texts and quirky stationery, a Starbucks, and free wifi. I could have stayed there all day, this store is right up there with the Waterstones in Piccadilly Circus! See? I'm useful for more than just beauty reviews and hauls ha.
Yeah, so that's my somewhat lacking defence as to why I went a little mad on the book front. I bought four in total on two separate occasions because I just had to go back again with my Mum an hour before leaving for the airport. But hey, I'm a English student - this is my area of expertise! I picked up Susannah Cahalan's 'Brain on Fire', Amy Bloom's 'About Us', Rosalie Ham's 'The Dressmaker', and finally Alexa Chung's autobiography - because hey, American prices and it was in paperback version. Don't judge me. I have to say, I love American books - trust me, I know stupid that sounds - but they're just so pretty. Which isn't to say that us Brits print ugly books, but when you're used to Oxford Classics editions of just about everything ( #englishstudentlife), buying a really Instagrammable book feels like such an indulgence. And I indulged big time - plus, I'm trying to cut down my internet time so these novels are proving useful ha. And I've just been enjoying reading for pleasure again this Summer.

In the midst of my book spending spree, I spotted this Ban.do notebook with 'I DID MY BEST' scrawled across the front - thought it would be perfect for Monday morning lectures when I don't quite feel like pushing myself. So it was a motivational buy, you see. The next notebook I bought was on my final day in the city - I stumbled across a arty shop in Soho and they were selling these beauties for $6 each which is roughly about £4 so I naturally snapped a couple up.
My final 'Miscellaneous' purchase(s) were these cute little images that I bought off a street corner (sounds dodgy haha but all very legit - promise!). From what I've heard from my uni flatmates, my room for second year is a little rough round the edges so I bought these to stick on walls/decorate my desk just to make things feel more homey.


I was pretty good on the clothes front during my time there - working in WHISTLES means I'm pretty happy with my wardrobe of late! Having said that, Madewell jeans are always a must. I've had a pair for over a year now and they only get better with time as they soften and mould to your figure without losing their shape. Honestly the best jeans I've ever tried. This time round I went for the High Riser Skinny Skinny Jeans in Bristol Wash with a distressed finish. The perfect off-duty jean.
I accompanied my Mum and Sister in J Crew not really thinking much of it - as much as I love Gemma Lyons, I wouldn't say J Crew is really my style. That is, until I saw the Ava Glitter Ballet Pumps in black fushia. Scrap what I just said, no one can resist glittery shoes - I feel like a 21st Century Dorothy whenever I wear them and I love it.
Again, I had never shopped in EXPRESS but my Mum wanted to try one of their best-selling camis and they were on special offer, so I thought why not? I went for the Deep Purple and am wearing it layered with a burgundy cardigan and my denim A-Line skirt as I write this. My current favourite slouchy day-off-work outfit. 
And finally, I couldn't resist this LuluLemon hoodie (similar here) on a rainy day in East Hampton. It's lovely and cosy and has little thumb-holes. Enough said, comfort comes first for me! Safe to say it was worn the whole journey back to the UK.
So there it is, everything I bought Stateside. I know this post has been a bit of mismash of purchases - as much as I love buying as much as I possibly can in Sephora, nothing gets my heart racing like a good bookshop and a pair of swoon-worthy jeans. What can I say, I'm a shopaholic with many interests..!

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Sunday, 30 August 2015

BEAUTY || The Beauty Brands I Couldn't Live Without.

This post has been playing on my mind a lot recently. I think it's because I've been spending so much time around beauty counters and my mind starts to wander... If I absolutely had to, which brands would I use exclusively?
Of course, I would never be able to narrow it down to just one. Puh-leaseee. But when I'm applying my make-up in the morning, it's easy to spot some definite trends, i.e. which brands I repeatedly come back to. Recently, it's been all about NARS and Charlotte Tilbury. However, when I was in the States two weeks ago I picked up a lot of Too Faced products and it's rare to find me not donning a Nails Inc polish of some kind.
I've been in love with all things NARS since the end of 2014. It all started with the Satin Luxembourg lip pencil... now I own two bases, four eyeshadows, two blushes, and a slightly worrying number of lip options. The products I couldn't be without? The All Day Weightless Luminous Foundation (i.e the only full-coverage base I've ever loved) and the Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in 'Sex Machine' - the ultimate dusty pink, everyday lip.

If I could, I would own the entire Charlotte Tilbury range - but my bank balance says otherwise ha. Yes, this brand is pricey - and probably the most I would ever spend on make-up. As much as I love this make-up guru's products, this range just isn't accessible on a student budget so I have my select items that I indulge in.
I gushed about the Filmstar Bronze & Glow at the start of the month and I can honestly say that it's one of my favourite beauty products ever. Yes, ever. Two buttery, rich powders that work together to give you gorgeously defined features and an oh-so-subtle highlight, I'll happily fork over my £49 - well, I'll wince when I do it - but a repurchase of this wonderful duo is inevitable. My heart broke a little when I hit pan on the highlight last week...
 Other wondrous products include Brow Lift and the Matte Revolution lipstick in Miss Kensington - but again, products worth splurging on if you're looking to spend a little more.

Too Faced is a brand I would gravitate towards in my early teens - I think it was to do with the largely pink packaging and tongue-in-cheek names. I see it as Benefit's controversial older sister ha.
The Hangover Primer has been in my daily rotation ever since I bought it as part of my Sephora Haul because my skin just adores it. As a sufferer of spot-prone yet strangely dehydrated and sensitive skin, this primer is the perfect mix to give my complexion a small burst of moisture in the mornings. A few coats of Better Than Sex mascara, a quick swipe of eyeshadow from the Natural Eyes palette (which I stupidly kept closed for this picture - nice one Lydia! - see it here), and a layer of my favourite Melted Lipstick shade and I'm good to go.

You can never too many Nails Inc polishes in my books. In fact, the bright pink shade in the bottom right hand corner arrived as I was taking this photo - I had to reorganise everything to fit it in! Shows how much an addict I am, huh? I have descended into a full-on obsession - but it's justified! The formula is the perfect balance of thickness, the applicator means it applies like a dream, and dries within ten minutes too. Ideal, if you ask me. But yeah, I'll stop rambling now - just take my word for it, as a nail varnish fanatic, these are the best.
As far as High End brands go, these are my tried and trusted favourites! That's not to say I don't use a whole range of products - including plenty of drugstore alternatives - but I would happily use these four brands forevermore. Finding a make-up brand you trust is like finding your perfect pair of jeans - once you've found it, it's hard to shop anywhere else..!

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Friday, 28 August 2015

WRITING || How Private is the Bloggosphere?

I've been sat here for the best part of half an hour trying to start this post but I'm not sure how. I don't want to name names or use specifics so to avoid unnecessary complications that come with writing about your life on the internet. But therein lies the issue - when you write a blog, you allow your life to become a point of discussion. And even though I don't tend to write too many personal posts these days - because who wants to read that? - sometimes I write about issues that are playing on my mind because this is my creative space and I feel like they are also topics that concern my readers. Like the time I wrote about my Long-Distance Friendship, or my 'Bikini Body' post, or even I'm Not Ready For My Other Half musings. They have been some of my favourite posts to write and have got some of the best responses from you guys and I love writing them because I realise that there are other people out there facing the same issues as me - and there's something quite comforting in that, right?

I'll get to the point now. I found out the other day that someone who I used to be very close to had looked out a very personal, almost therapeutic, post I wrote back when I was going through a pretty painful break-up and had a right old laugh at it with their friends. First off, I was angry - I wanted to message them there and then and call them out on it. Then I felt rather violated - I had shown them my blog in confidence back when we were still inseparable and now they had almost turned it into a weapon to use against me. And finally, I just felt downright embarrassed because I had been the one to write that post and publish it on the internet - surely I had no right to be angry at a person for reading it because I had put it out there for anybody to see.
But that's the thing, it's not just anybody who reads this blog - I mean, it can be ha - but my typical readers are other bloggers, other young women like myself who are interested in fashion and beauty and have also experienced what it's like to have your heart broken and were therefore able to emphasise with that post. I remember writing 'Heartbroken... yet Hopeful' like it was yesterday - it had been the Humanities Christmas Ball the night before which was basically an excuse to get all dressed up my uni friends and it's still one of my favourite memories of First Year. But something was weighing me down all night - I couldn't escape the heartbreak and just felt like I needed to write something in order to release those feelings. So I sat in bed on a Tuesday morning and just wrote until I felt I had gotten it all out of my system - if anything, that post was what I had so desperately wanted to say to him at the time but just didn't have the confidence to. I spent a couple of hours on it, hit publish, and moved on. Well, I wish I could say it was that easy - it wasn't like magic - but that post certainly helped a lot. 
I've said it before but after that, I made the conscious decision not to write about my personal life on the blog anymore - it's like I knew it was going to eventually come back and haunt me! Instead, I focus on Beauty and Style these days and throw the occasional Lifestyle post into the mix when I feel like it. In fact, this incident isn't the first time I've looked back at that post and wondered whether I should take it down. When I made the active decision to take LydiaLulu in a new direction, I considered removing it. And then when my blog had its Pipdig makeover, I took down a lot of posts that I didn't feel where relevant anymore. But somehow, this one post has survived thus far.
Reading over it now, I do feel sad - all these memories come flooding back and I feel really sorry for the girl sat behind her laptop on a wintery Tuesday morning just trying to make herself feel better somehow. I'm sure anyone who has been through a break-up will understand that - and no, I didn't hold back and wrote from my point of view as to why that relationship ended. I know that none of this matters anymore - it's ancient history! - but the fact that this post was brought up in an almost public way to people I actually know was totally humiliating. Although it did lead me to wonder why they were looking through such old posts in the first place. My friend told me to see it as a compliment, but to me it felt nothing short of invasive.
The reason I never took it down is because I see it as quite an important post - at least, to me it is. It marks a real turning point in my life - I was hopelessly dependent on a boy who broke my heart, I had only just started university and was yet to meet some of my best friends, and I look back on it and see it as the beginning of my adult life. You only need to read I'm Not Ready For My Other Half to see how far I've come in the past nine months.
Back in December 2014, 'Heartbroken...Yet Hopeful' was very much a post I wrote for my own wellbeing. When I first found out that this person had shown all their mates and laughed at it, I wanted to take it down and curl up into bed, an embarrassed mess. But my wonderful friend, Immy, told me that would be like letting them win and that she'd actually read that post and there was nothing to be ashamed of. So I'm keeping it live indefinitely - for that person to read at their leisure and in the hope that anyone going through a similar experience will stumble upon it and be able to relate or realise that they're not alone in how they're feeling. Because isn't that what blogging is? That, and also getting serious fashion inspiration and beauty tips ha.
A blog isn't a private space - it could never be, we're sharing our thoughts on the internet with people from all over the world. And that's the thing, I never wrote that post to name and shame that person to my readers - I wrote it because it was something I was going through at the time. No, the bloggosphere isn't a private forum - but as long as your heart is in the right place then it's worth sharing.

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