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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Spring Style File.

Well I say a 'Spring Style File' - the only Spring-like thing about my latest purchases is that they've been bought during this season. But I suppose that's okay because it's pouring with rain outside. Yes, the truth is I like my blacks, my greys, and my navys and any colour beyond a muted shade of pink is enough to have running in the opposite direction. I've been a bit spending happy recently (god knows why as it's going to be one long month till my next Student Loan instalment) but I like to think these were all useful, dare I say it, necessary purchases. On the plus side, my little shopping spree means I get to write about it here on LydiaLulu - something I'd love to do more of. Word of warning: this post is Topshop heavy and full of denim...
I'd had my eye on these tops for a good few weeks when I finally gave in picked one up at the Stratford City Westfield on Monday. I've been living in it ever since. For everyday wear and tear, I've been pairing it with skinny jeans and ankle boots (what else?) and a leather jacket thrown over for good measure. It's one of those perfect staple outfits, I wore it shopping with a friend and then for casual drinks on Friday night. Although it is slightly cropped, the top sits comfortably on the waistband of my favourite jeans so it doesn't bare too much. For a slightly dressier look, I teamed it with my new black denim skirt for dinner with a friend - it felt very effortlessly stylish. At just £10, I'm almost certain I'll invest in some of the other colours Topshop has to offer. The baby blue is as cute as it is tempting...

Living in a house with five animals, this skirt doesn't really stand a chance when it comes to tackling cat hair. But it's worth it - it was one of those accidental finds when you're only having a browse round a Topshop concession and stumble across something so perfect that you just have to buy it. To be honest, I know it doesn't look particularly special. A black denim mini skirt, what's the fuss? But it's the most flattering A-Line fit. When I was in the dressing room trying it on, I was going through the entirety of my wardrobe in my mind and this skirt just slotted in. I can't lie, the fact that it has huge, ribbon-lined pockets was a massive selling point for me. Whenever I try and listen to music and keep my phone in my handbag, I get caught up in a mess of headphones. The idea of slipping my phone in my pocket and rushing out the door was more than enough to have me sold. Oh, and it's a really nice skirt too.
I love this jumper. Words can't express how comfy, warm, and snug it is. For now, it'll probably be reserved for indoor slouchiness. It's a bit of an awkward length where you either need a big coat to conceal the bottom or else the jumper comes peaking out of your leather jacket. At the moment it's being worn with jeans while I power through blog posts, but I really like the look of it with the black denim mini skirt and ankle boots - I'm fast adopting a Spring uniform.

Demin A-Line skirts are popping up left, right, and centre at the moment. Not that I'm complaining, anything this comfy and reminiscent of my childhood is a winner in my books. I discovered this Miss. Selfridge number when my 'twin' rocked up to lectures wearing it a few weeks ago - it looked so good on her, I went home and ordered it that day. It's been my go-to skirt ever since. Not only are these skirts super trendy at the moment, they're also wonderfully versatile. It's been worn for everyday uni life with a slouchy cardigan and for nights out paired with a crop top. I can't imagine myself falling out of love with this little number. 
It may be a while before I get to whip this dress out but I couldn't resist. Although it also came in a bleach-blue shade, I went for the black in true Lydia fashion. What can I say? This dress embodies effortless cool. A sundress is a useful addition to any wardrobe and I can see myself donning it on Summer nights out before my First Year comes to an end. Sob. At least the dress will console me. 
A high neck is not something I'm usually all that keen on - something about them just make me feel frumpy. But Topshop tunics have served me well in the past so I thought 'why not?'. Of course I chose grey - otherwise known as my safe colour. Again, this dress looks very chic and 'put together' without requiring much effort. Noticing a trend here? It's light and airy so I can see myself wearing it in the warmer Summer months - but paired with tights and a leather jacket and I can get away with it until then. Sometimes I feel quite restrained by my clothing preferences, I tend to wear the same thing over and over again which is why this High Neck dress was a fun buy. It's good to go outside your fashion comfort zone.
This beautiful leather mini was a birthday present and I couldn't be more obsessed with it if I tried. The leather is so soft which means it moulds to your shape instead of staying rigid and square. Paired with a black crop top and you've got a killer night out outfit sorted. Personally, I'm trying to incorporate it into my everyday wardrobe - it's so gorgeous, I don't want it to be solely reserved for special occasions. I'm thinking it would work well with an oversized jumper or cardigan to 'soften' the look a bit. Obviously, I'd have to get a bit imaginative with coats because my staple black leather jacket teamed with a black leather mini would leave me looking like an extra from Grease... and not in a good way. I'll have to ponder this some more. It's one of those wardrobe additions I can see myself always owning.
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Friday, 27 March 2015

The Beauty Blogger Made Me Buy It.

Since joining the beauty blogosphere about nine months ago now, I like to think I'm pretty immune to 'bloggers hype'. You know, when a new product is released and we all just go mad for it? Instead of buying the {insert brand name here} for what it is, it instead becomes the 'must-have' product - regardless of whether its any good or not. Hand on heart, I was pretty susceptible to it at the beginning (Dior BB Cream, I'm looking at you) but nine months down the line and I know when to hold off. If anything, my addiction to beauty blogs led me to some of my favourite drugstore and high-end make-up additions. Here are my top 'the beauty blogger made me buy it' favourites...

1. Marc JacobsDaisy Dream 

Ah memories. This perfume was released about a month after I began blogging and I got so completely caught up in the hype. It was one of the first beauty reviews I did back in July 2014 (an amusing read if you're in need of a chuckle) and it really was love. Although Tom Ford's 'Velvet Orchid' is now top of my wishist as a result of another beauty blogger recommendation, 'Daisy Dream' has served me well. It's the ideal Spring/Summer scent with a floral, crisp scent. Although I feel like I've slightly outgrown it - just reading my first review reminds me of how much my life has changed since last Summer - I can always see myself owning a bottle of this familiar, sweet scent for old times sake.

2. NARS Dual Intensity Eyeshadow in 'Dolomites'

This was a bit of a 'spur of the moment' purchase when I was feeling spending happy with my student loan. Whoops. I remember panicking about what make-up to do for the Freshers Ball when this little eyeshadow compact was recommended in the ASOS sidebar. I'd seen these beautiful eyeshadows floating round the blogosphere and they'd been sold out in my local Space NK since their release in September. For an eyeshadow dunce like me, this pretty shade of pink and brown are very wearable and easy to apply because of their blend-ability (may have just made up a word...). A true staple in my growing eyeshadow collection.

3. NARS All Day Weightless Luminous Foundation in 'Mont Blanc' 

I've raved about this foundation several times of late. This time last year I was terrified of the stuff - foundation was a complete turn-off for me. But the matte equivalent of the cult classic 'Sheer Glow' has won my heart. Like I wrote in my review at the start of this month, this foundation applies like a dream, leaves the skin glowing, and has the staying power to make me declare it a real 'gamechanger'. I'm serious. Although some beauty bloggers weren't too convinced by it, if I had to pick a favourite this would definitely make the cut.

4. By Terry Ombre Blackstar in 'Misty Rock' 

I cannot rave about this cream eyeshadow enough. Me and every other beauty blogger in the UK, that is. Like I wrote in my review, I'm not that big on eyeshadow from previous disasters. But when I saw Lily Pebbles and Suzie from Hello October wearing it in their videos, I knew it was something I wanted to try. 'Misty Rock' is the perfect metallic pinky/purple shade - it's incredibly easy to apply, one swipe does the job, and its lasting power is seriously impressive. At £29, these shadows are on the pricer side but I honestly wouldn't blog about them if they weren't worth the hefty price tag. 

5. NARS Lip Pencils in 'Sex Machine', 'Never Say Never', 'Cruella', and 'Luxembourg' 

Spotting a trend here? I can't deny it, NARS is my ultimate weakness. And I have the lovely Anna from Vivianna Does Makeup to blame for my obsession with their lip pencils - in fact, I'm pretty sure that was first thing I said to her when I met her and Lily Pebbles at #BeautyChatLIVE last month. To be fair, they're worth all the hype. Before I indulged in 'Luxembourg' over Christmas, I was always wary of a bold lip. Lipstick has a tendency to get very messy and has to be constantly reapplied - high maintenance make-up is my greatest aversion. So naturally, these pencils have opened up a whole new look for me. Words can't do them justice, I tried in my my 'NARS Lip Pencil Love Affair' post. I've had a wandering eye of late and the hot pink, 'Yu',  is next on the wishlist.

6. Bourjois Healthy Balance Powder in 'Vanilla' 

Having depended on powder all through my oily T-Zone teenage years, I've tried my fair share of my bad compact powders. One Body Shop powder turned me an unattractive shade of orange for a good few years. This Bourjois powder was a bit of an accidental discovery - I'd seen it used in countless Youtube tutorials and had a bit of a 'why not' moment in Boots a few weeks ago. I've been kicking myself ever since - why didn't I buy this years ago? It's light, not too cake-y, and perfect for setting foundation. An absolute necessity and a bit of a steal at £8.

7. Nails Inc The New White in 'Lilly Road

Another Vivianna Does MakeUp inspired purchase. Nail polish is my kryptonite, I can't help it - I can never have enough. This colour is very cute and spring-like, the perfect off-white shade. To those not obsessed with nail polish, this will all sound like crazy gibberish but these reasons totally justify my little indulgence. It's my nail polish of the moment, I keep going back to it. Plus, the formula is of such great quality - its resistance to my everyday clumsiness has made 'Lilly Road' a staple in my ever-expanding Nails Inc collection. 

8. MaxFactor Creme Puff Blush in '20 Lavish Mauve' 

Until I can afford the Hourglass 'Ambient Lighting Blush', this MaxFactor dupe will do nicely. Again, this super product started popping up everywhere on the blogosphere and I made a point of picking it up alongside the Bourjois powder. I went for one of the more subtle, softer shades in 'Lavish Maude' and a little really goes a long way. For a drugstore alternative, this beauty blogger find is seriously impressive. It's renewed my love for blusher.

Of course there are always going to be 'must-have', latest releases floating about the blogosphere that are oh-so-tempting. My top tip? Wait for the hype to die down and see what products make the 'favourites' cut - if its still being used in tutorials a few weeks down the line then it's something worth investigating. From one beauty junkie to another...
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Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Dreamiest Eyeshadow of All...


Despite my love of all things beauty, eyeshadow is one product I've never seemed to agree with. Liquid eyeliner? Check. An array of lipsticks? Check. Outrageous colours of blush? Check. But when it comes to eyeshadow... I've always held back. When I was first trying and testing make-up as a pre-teen, I shamelessly owned numerous palettes of electric blue shadow. When I finally came to my senses a couple years later, I was scarred by the experience. I didn't touch the stuff till the 80s Disco Night during Freshers Week and even then it was supposed to be exaggerated and unattractive. Equally, I'd always admired my make-up savvy friends who could pull it off with subtly and sophistication. As I entered twenties this month, I thought now was a better time than ever to give eyeshadow another go.
The 'By Terry Ombre Blackstar' shadows have been popping up all over the blogosphere the past couple of months. Having entered this community a mere nine months ago, one thing I've learnt is to be skeptical of 'blogger's hype'. But when two of my favourite beauty bloggers, Lily Pebbles and Hello October, started singing their praises I knew it was time to take note. For an eyeshadow dunce like me, the 'By Terry Ombre Blackstar' is the perfect starting point. The cream formula makes for fuss-free, effortless application and one swipe is more than enough. Out of the wide range of soft hues, I went for the Lily Pebbles approved 'Misty Rock' and haven't looked back. It's a subtle metallic pink-purple shade and oh-so-easy to pull off. I've had this beauty blogger staple in my possession for about three weeks now and its a product that can be used in a variety of ways. You can build up the colour to a quite intense shade of purple - a look I'd emulate for a night out - or combine it with a liquid eyeliner flick for a touch more glam. Personally, and this is probably my past fear of eyeshadow speaking, I prefer a subtle swipe across the base of the lid to perk up my everyday make-up routine.


Nails: Lily Road

Since indulging in this pricey eyeshadow a few weeks ago (it retails at a pretty hefty £29), I've been debating buying a proper blending brush. When I'm having a more casual, one-swipe kind of day, blending with fingers is absolutely fine. But the few instances I've built up the colour more intensely, the product does have a tendency to get very messy around the top of the lid. I think a blending brush will only enhance this product's capabilities.
The 'By Terry Ombre Blackstar' is one beauty blogger's staple I can absolutely vouch for. The colour is gorgeous without being too loud, the application is easy enough for an eyeshadow sceptic, and the number of compliments I get alone makes this a £29 well spent in my books. I have my eye on 'Frozen Quartz' next...
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Sunday, 22 March 2015

10 Problems All Student Bloggers Will Understand.

Another post, another university term over. My final week of term was seriously busy with deadlines and birthdays and various celebrations taking up all my spare time. The past few days ran away with me and I started feeling so guilty that I hadn't updated the ol' blog since Monday. It got me thinking... some of my favourite bloggers started out when they were students too. It's no secret that running a blog when you're either studying or working a full time job is challenging. Ultimately, you do it because you love it but that doesn't mean it isn't hard sometimes. Since starting university in September, here are some of my recurring issues.


1. BLOG PHOTOS

Don't get me wrong, I love my halls - they're great. But when it comes to taking blog photos, the only white surface in my room is my windowsill. Hence why most photos have had a magazine background or the giveaway fake flower to liven things up a bit the past couple months. Note to self: binge snap photos over the Easter break!

2. ACHIEVING BALANCE

Trying to balance university work, a social life, and a successful blog all at the same time. The struggle is real.

3. AWKWARD INSPIRATION

Inspiration striking you in the middle of a lecture, sneakily making a note on your phone, and dropping it with that ever-so-obvious thud. What is this professor talking about again?

4. THE WRITING PROCESS

The awkward moment when you've spent all day in the library working on an essay, you go to write a blog post and everything you write comes out as illiterate jargon. My foolproof solution? Make a cup of tea, watch an episode of Girls, and let it come naturally.

5. LIGHTING

Getting back from a full day of uni and there being no natural light in your room whatsoever. The 'High Key' setting on my camera has my back.

6. FUNDS FOR BATTERIES/MEMORY CARDS

Your camera spontaneously dying on you and realising that you can't afford posh 'Duracel' batteries.

7. DANGEROUS TEMPTATIONS

Actively avoiding your local beauty department because the new releases are dangerously tempting and fundamentally out of your price range - my willpower was pushed to the limit by the new Chanel 'Rouge Coco' lipsticks. On the bright side, lusting after something for long enough means that if you're good and save up, buyer's guilt diminishes and you appreciate that one special lipstick even more... or is this another way of justifying my expensive beauty habit?

8. ORGANISATION

Queuing blog posts for the next three days, feeling like an organised human being, going out those same three nights in a row, and getting behind again. I never learn, Oceana's Disco Room calls my name.

9. LACKING INSPIRATION

Going through you entire wardrobe and make-up collection to find inspiration because you can't afford anything new - the epitome of a First World Problem if I ever heard it.

10. IS BLOGGING A SECRET?

Feeling torn between telling university friends that you run a blog or keeping it a secret. Do you really want them to know your innermost thoughts? Equally, anything you put on the internet is hardly private. University gals, if you're reading this, feel special.

It's not always easy balancing student life with the demands of the blogosphere. LydiaLulu is fast approaching the one year mark now and I have no regrets. Of course it's challenging at times, when you're feeling uninspired or just in a lazy mood - it happens more than I care to admit! But I love it and all the silly issues it entails.

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Monday, 16 March 2015

A Nails Inc Splurge.


Left: 'Abbey Road', Right: 'Lilly Road'

When it comes to nail polish, I have no self control. It's no secret round these parts. Nail polish is the perfect little indulgence - it's a small enough treat to brighten my day and usually leaves me without the dreaded buyer's guilt. No wonder I have so many, it's a win-win.
So when I stumbled upon actively searched for the Nails Inc counter in my local John Lewis last week, I really didn't stand a chance. The new colours that have just launched in their Spring range are just gorgeous. I easily spent ten minutes just admiring them all before I even started weighing up which ones I actually needed.
The New White range is not something I would normally be all that keen on. This small collection of four slightly off-white hues are very subtle and sophisticated. During my teenage years, where I amassed more than seventy polishes (#sorrynotsorry), I was always drawn to deep, glamourous shades of purples, pinks, and reds. I can't count the number of bottles of Essie's 'Recessionista' I've used up over the years... Who knows, maybe it's my recent transition into my twenties talking or just a change in season, but I saw 'Lily Road' (the pink-white shade) and knew I had to have it. It's a soft, feminine shade of light pink and the application is a dream. If a total klutz like me can paint it on neatly then anyone can. The light hue is perfect for Spring and somehow manages to make my hands look sun-kissed and uber-feminine. Plus, you know it's a good nail polish when you keep catching yourself admiring your manicure in lectures! I spotted 'Lily Road's mint alternative on beauty blogger extraordinaire Vivianna Does Make-Up and it looks just as gorgeous - I'm calling it now when I say it will only be a matter of time before I have to buy them all.


I also couldn't resist the pretty lilac shade, 'Abbey Road'. What can I say, I'm drawn to my girly colours. I love this polish because it strikes the perfect balance between pretty and too in-your-face. No matter what colour I go for, I never like my nails to be too loud or gaudy. 'Abbey Road' immediately had me reminiscing back to my Barry M 'Berry Ice Cream' days. It's very sweet and summery and although I already had this classic Barry M varnish from back in the day, I was eager to test the Nails Inc equivalent. I'm so glad I ended up investing in this colour because it looks plenty different once applied. 'Berry Ice Cream' is your typical sweet and summery light purple. 'Abbey Road', in contrast, is a cooler, more subtle Spring alternative. Once again, the application was dreamy and even managed to lie in the corridor with my mates while painting my nails and escape with zero smudges. This stuff is a godsend. To be totally honest, I wasn't convinced about the whole 'Kale' formula Nails Inc have been pushing. To me, it sounded like a bit of a fad. 'NailKale' claims to 'nourish, protect, and strengthen' the nail - I didn't buy into it at first because nail polish is not exactly the best thing for the wellbeing of your cuticles now, is it? But I've been pleasantly surprised by the results - my nails definitely feel stronger and my manicure had that professional look to it which I put down to the winning formula. 



Just like I wrote back in September when I fell in love with Nails Inc's Alexa Chung collaboration, money invested in a Nails Inc polish is money well spent for the nail varnish fanatic. The wide range of colours means there's literally something for everyone and the formula is faultless. Dare I say it, but Nails Inc may have just tipped my beloved Essie. Just about... only a tiny bit.
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Sunday, 15 March 2015

Mother's Day.


Ever get the feeling that you're slowly but surely turning into your mother? I started noticing our similarities in my early teens - I'd catch myself pulling one of Mum's facial expressions or saying something very Susan-esque. I've grown to love her taste in music (after all, Mum introduced me to John Mayer back in the early noughties) and she is my go-to source of fashion advice. Without reciting every cliché in the book, my Mum is an incredible lady and I can only aspire to be as wonderful as she is. She's always on hand to offer support, to advise me when things get tough, and call me out on my nonsense when I need a reality check.
Everything I've learnt the past twenty years is primarily down to her. Mum taught me that less is more when it comes to make-up - although she bit her tongue during my blue eyeshadow phase, a time when I could have used her help! I've also inherited her shopping habit because 'if you don't buy it now, it'll soon be gone'. Like every experimental teenager, I went through some dark times when it came to my wardrobe. I can't bear to think about some of those outfits - why oh why did I think a dress over jeans was a good idea? Naturally, Mum stood by and let me make my own mistakes in this department. As much as I wish she'd interfered, what was she supposed to do? Now that I've survived my clothing crisis, I can see just how much of an influence my Mum's style has had on me. I gravitate towards timeless pieces, things I can wear again and again.
As a self-confessed push over, Mum has also given me the confidence to stand up for myself and not let people take advantage of me. When I made the decision to leave university last year, my Mum supported me through the whole stressful process. She didn't pressure me into going back to into higher education and was always reminding me that she just wanted me to be happy.
My Mum is the first person I go to when things go wrong and I need advice, and the person I immediately call when something wonderful happens - even if it's something as trivial as winning a free Pumpkin Spice Latté... She's my best friend and role model and I miss her enormously when I'm at uni. For me, there's nothing quite like a hug from Mum when you've had a long day or having a catch up while walking the dogs. I admire my Mum to no end and if the saying rings true then I will happily slowly but surely continue becoming her.
Happy Mother's Day
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Friday, 13 March 2015

Instagram Happenings @ LYDIALULUROSE.

I never used to 'get' Instagram. When I first signed up a couple of years ago, I was unconvinced. In my mind, sharing photos was what Facebook was for. Posting a solitary snap for anyone to see just didn't appeal. Plus, like any social media platform Instagram is plagued with #follow4follow comments and users trying to get ahead of each other. Like the true technophobe I am, it all just seemed a little intimidating and I steered clear for a while.
But when I discovered the beauty blogosphere last June, I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to try again. After all, Instagram can be an extension of a blog - it gives readers a sense of your personality beyond what you choose to write about. Of course my Insta' feed consists primarily of my basic beauty pics, but I love having an excuse to take photos of my many many animals or a quick 'Outfit of the Day' shameless selfie. And an outlet to bond with people over an addiction to Pop Tarts is always welcome!
As always, I was a little late to the party with my love of Instagram. Despite my inital apprehension, I now find myself constantly updating my feed and going on a bit of 'liking' binge. It's safe to say that I'm a pretty solid convert! Although I'm trying my hardest to create regular content here on the ol' blog, some days it's just not possible. Life gets in the way and I try not to beat myself up too much about it. For days when I'm feeling uninspired or simply too busy to write, Instagram keeps me in the loop with what's going on in the blogosphere. And seeing as I'm surgically attached to my phone these days (you know you're an iPhone addict when you have to charge twice daily..), being able to post a quick snap at a moment's notice is a luxury. It makes me feel like I'm still engaging with this crazy online world even when things in my own life are a bit hectic. Instagram, I misjudged you...


Follow me at LydiaLuluRose.

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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

A Magazine Habit.

The day my monthly Vogue arrives in the post always makes me unfathomably happy. I love the start of the month when all the glossies appear on the shelves. I have real issues with some magazines and their sexist 'Get Your Best Bikini Body' and 'How To Please Your Man' type articles. Of course I'm interested in women's issues but these titles always seem to be focusing on society's view of what women should want (i.e. a slim figure and a boyfriend) instead of what women actually want. But this is old news, my post, 'Cosmopolitan and Glamour: Friend or Foe?' was a cathartic write back in September 2014.
I've had a Vogue subscription for four years now and I never fail to read my monthly from cover-to-cover. At the age of sixteen, it all felt a little inaccessible. At the ripe old age of 20, however, I can see how reading the Fashion Bible has affected my own personal style and my shopping habits. I'm always one for investing in quality pieces instead of binge-buying lots of disposable items that will end up in the charity bin a couple months later. Vogue is my monthly solace into the alternate world of high fashion and glamour. Of course I'm not going to be able to afford much of the clothes in there... but that's part of the fun. It's about admiring, not actively wanting. I take inspiration here and there but would never dream of recreating some of those photo-shoot looks. Sitting down with Vogue is like having lunch with your superficial best friend - it's a bit of fun escapism while it lasts and then it's back to reality.
I've only recently got into Elle the past few months. I used to pick and choose what editions I wanted based on their cover star. I know it's bad, you can't judge a book by it's cover after all, but I suppose it's different when it comes to magazines. However, I loved their Feminism issue and their consequent collaboration with Whistles and have been a devout reader ever since. I feel like Elle is Vogue's chilled younger sister. It tends to include more viable high street alternatives to seasonal trends and I love that they include their staff's office style - it gives the magazine a slight personal touch. Plus, Victoria Coren-Mitchell can do no wrong in my eyes. Her monthly column always has me nodding my head in agreement, it's so refreshing for a magazine to have a regular strong female voice. Her column is always the first thing I turn to.
Again, Allure is another recent discovery since entering the beauty blogosphere. It really feels like an extension of the beauty blogging world with its short snappy articles and tutorials. I have a tendency to flip straight to the beauty sections of my favourite glossies anyway so a whole magazine devoted to the latest make-up trends was always going to be right up my street. Because it's an American title, it's harder to get ahold of in the UK but readily available on Apple Newsstand for £2.99 - plus it's way more convenient having it on my iPad because it's always with me.
My favourite monthly glossies seem much more catered for women's interests - or fashion and beauty conscious ladies at least. I love that they're written by women for women, and none of this faddy diet, relationship advice nonsense. If you need me, I'll be tucked up with a cup of tea and the April edition of Vogue...
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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Teenage Life Lessons.



Tuesday 10th March 2015 - it's official, I am no longer a terrible teen. From 7am onwards I'm now what's called a 'Young Adult'. Eek. I can no longer blame any stupid decisions on my age, I can't get away with being grumpy all the time, and I suppose I can't really rebel against anything anymore. Not that even happened in the first place. Twenty - it feels like a big one, way bigger than the minuscule step from eighteen to nineteen. No, this is yet another leap of faith into the big wide world... or my enclosed university environment. But nonetheless it feels like a big deal!
Reflecting on my teenage years is both cringey and time-consuming. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that they've been a crazy six years. I feel like my teenagehood has been an assault course for life - I've learnt a lot of things the hard way. Equally, I know I'm a better person for it. Now that I'm at the ripe old age of twenty, I thought it'd be suitable to share the valuable lessons I learnt as a teen.


DON'T BE AFRAID TO FORGE YOUR OWN PATH.

You don't need to tell me what a cliché this is, trust me I know. But it's one that rings painfully true in many shapes and forms. Leaving university was the scariest and biggest decision I've ever had to make. I was unhappy from pretty much the moment I got there and spent six months not doing anything about it. Mostly because I was too scared to. With any big life decision, dropping out was a big hassle which resulted in a never-ending battle with Student Finance England. Looking back on it, it would have been easier to stay. I could have powered through and got the degree. But I was so unhappy there. I chose the difficult route but it's also been the best decision of my life. It meant I got to move home, decompress, figure out a plan, work in retail, and go back to a university I actually wanted to attend. I'm a strong believer in doing what makes you happy because otherwise, what's the point? It was terrifying dropping out on university and not having a life plan ahead - but there was also something quite liberating about it. For the first time in my life I had control over what happened next and it was my decision to go back to university. One year on and everything has worked out for me, luckily. Strangely enough, leaving university is something I'm incredibly proud of - it was my decision through and through and I know it was the right thing for me. I've learnt not to be afraid of the unknown because it's yours for the taking. 

GOOD FRIENDS WILL ALWAYS BE THERE.  

 I'm so lucky to have some truly wonderful girl friends in my life. They've been there through all the ups and downs and have never failed to be there for me when I've needed it most. And of course, I've offered the same support. Because there's nothing quite like female friendship. Some of my friends who I've known my whole life are like sisters to me. They know me so well and are never afraid to call me up on my nonsense - and that's all you really need, right? Girls that are willing to sit with you through the tears, laugh at the silliness, and gossip over overpriced lattés. These girls are my backbone. 

JUMP INTO NEW ADVENTURES.

This one is still a work in progress for me. I've always been a cautious person, it's just my nature. Sometimes I have to remind myself that hey, I'm young and I should be saying 'yes' to things and branching out. Now that I'm half way through my first year, I've noticed that I'm a lot more comfortable with putting myself out there and turned into a bit of a social butterfly... well compared with my previous university experience where Netflix was my BFF (not that there's anything wrong with some Netflix loving). Although lazy nights in are much needed some times, I generally believe that you're more likely to remember the nights you spent out with friends making memories than the time you fell asleep in front of your laptop - guilty as charged.
I jumped into the big scary blogging world last year and haven't looked back. Although I had a Tumblr for years when I was going through my angsty teen phase, I had wanted to start over for a while. But the internet is a massive, loud, and consuming abyss of voices as it is, I didn't know how I was going to possibly add to that. It's intimidating from an outsider's perspective. But I desperately wanted the creative outlet and plucked up the courage to dive in and I'm so glad I did. Everybody has to start somewhere and looking back on my first posts is extremely cringey/hilarious. But I love watching this space grow and I'm always happiest when I'm blogging. Again, I'm so happy I had the courage to sign up to Blogger last June because LydiaLulu has given me confidence in my writing ability and introduced me to the wonderful online world of beauty bloggers.

BE THE BEST PERSON YOU CAN BE.

Without putting too much pressure on myself, my teenage years taught me to try and be the best person I can. Whether that translates to school work, checking up on that friend who's having a hard time, or texting your Grandma to see how she is. I feel like in the world of social media it's very easy to get wrapped up in ourselves. I've ranted written about Facebook before and I still try to avoid it as much as possible. The unhappiest I've probably ever been is when I became so caught up in my own head, remembering that there is life beyond your issues is what sometimes gets you to see clearly. Generally speaking, I'm happiest when I feel like I'm being the best daughter/sister/friend/student I can possibly be. Of course I'll never be perfect, no one is, but just showing the people that you love how much you care and pushing yourself academically is my recipe for success.

BE CONFIDENT AND KNOW THAT EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT.

Eurgh, if only I could go back in time and tell myself that. I'm a chronic overthinker, always have been, always will be, but in my experience everything does have a way of working itself out. Or at least I have a tendency to adapt to the new circumstances. I wish I could reclaim the hours I spent stressing over exams or, even worse, hating on myself. The teenage years are an awkward time and while the rest of my friends shot up and were waif thin, I was consistently short and retained the childhood puppy fat I didn't lose till I was eighteen. It makes me sad to think back on my painfully low self-esteem and all the time I effectively wasted worrying about my appearance. If I could give my teenage self one piece of it would be to relax a little and be more confident in my abilities - because it's all worked out in the end.

So I'm no longer a teen. I won't lie, I was a little sad when the clock struck midnight. It feels like the end of an era. On the other hand, I couldn't wait to be a 'proper' adult. I'm twenty now, anything feels possible. So long teens, hello twenties...
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Monday, 9 March 2015

My Spring Make-Up Look.

Although Spring hasn't technically sprung until 20th March, there's definitely that wonderful change of season crispness to the air and this weekend's sun was a bit of a giveaway. I love this time of year, when we've not quite reached Summer yet but there's that lovely bit of sunshine and flowers start to bloom. Everything is just prettier in Spring and the same goes for my make-up.
As regular readers of LydiaLulu will already know,  I like to keep my everyday make-up pretty simple... for a beauty blogger that is. I hate feeling caked in foundation and that my face is slathered in products. I like my skin to be able to breathe and I've never been known to resist a pink lip. The majority of the products I've selected for this post are fairly typical. I've written reviews on both the NARS All Day Weightless Luminous Foundation and their Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in 'Sex Machine'. Benefit's 'Erase Paste' is the only concealer I think I've ever used (it's just that good) and I'm a 'They're Real' mascara addict. These are all quintessential Lydia products. But there's a surprising new addition to my foolproof routine which made its appearance this weekend...
Having applied my foolproof base, I always like to add a touch of colour back into my complexion. Benefit's 'Lolli Tint' was released towards the end of Summer 2014 and it was one of those products being reviewed by beauty bloggers everywhere. As a newbie on the scene, I was eager to jump on the bandwagon. How ignorant I was to blogger's hype back then! Having been a 'High Beam' decibel for some years, I was eager to try this bright pink alternative. Although I retired this one for winter, the arrival of Spring has seen me reaching for it once again. I really love this liquid blush. My only criticism of 'Lolli Tint' is that you can't apply it directly on your cheeks without leaving an unattractive streak - the product settles instantaneously which is great when it comes to its longevity but a little undesirable when you're putting it on in the first place. Although the colour is quite alarming when looked at in isolation, it blends really nicely into the skin and is not too 'in your face'. A quality that is non-negotiable for me when it comes to blusher - there's nothing worse than that awful rag-doll red cheek effect. I feel like this colour awakens my skin and looks very sweet and Spring-like.

The latest addition to my make-up routine had to be By Terry's Ombre Black Star in 'Misty Rock'
I simply couldn't resist it any longer. Having watched it pop up on my favourite beauty blogs left, right, and centre throughout February, this product went straight on my birthday list when I was at home this weekend. I'm not normally particularly fond of eyeshadows - I blame traumatic pre-teen experiences with electric blue shades for this one - but seeing how great it looked on a variety of beauty bloggers sent this product soaring to the top of my wishlist. It's the most beautiful purpley pink colour with silver undertones which makes it universally flattering. If I had to summarise this dream of an eyeshadow, I'd say it was feminine, classic, and effortless. The colour is subtle and sweet which makes it the perfect little injection of purple into my more understated everyday look. But that's all on 'Misty Rock' for now, I'm going to subject this product to the wear and tear of everyday life and see how it goes. Expect a review in coming days!
Other than blusher and eyeshadow, my make-up routine is almost otherwise the same. A quick swipe on NARS black eyeliner on the waterline, a few coats of 'They're Real!' mascara, and a layer or so of 'Sex Machine' on the lips. Although I love trying out new make-up looks, why fix something that isn't broken? Spring couldn't have come soon enough.
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Saturday, 7 March 2015

High Street vs. High End: Revlon and NARS


My love of NARS lip pencils is no secret round these parts. Since jumping on the beauty blog bandwagon just before Christmas, I now own four of these cult products and will probably not stop until I own them all. They're just that good.
But as I wrote a couple of days ago, I'm living on a student budget and £19 a lip pencil isn't always viable. If I'm frugal with my food shop, that amount could feed me for over a week. Which is where budget brand Revlon come in. I actually bought one of their 'Colorburst' Balm Stains last Summer - I had been after the shade, 'Honey Douce', for months but they'd flown off shelves and was impossible to track down. Hence my euphoria when I finally found it in a small branch of Boots in Newquay. Our annual trip to Cornwall is always very relaxed and mainly consists of dog walks on the beach so I keep things very simple on the make-up front. This lip stain was perfect for our ultimate lazy holiday.

Revlon Colorbust Lip Stain - 'Honey Douce'

Yet when we got back home, this lip stain fell out of my make-up routine. It's been neglected since last Summer and has just been sitting on my chest of drawers... until this weekend when I remembered what a great little steal this was. Colour-wise, it's very similar to NARS' 'Sex Machine'. It's a pinky-peach tone with a satin finish. On first glance, the bullet itself is quite startling. I remember doing a double take and checking if I'd picked up the right colour. In its packaging the product looks almost burgundy in colour. Not quite what you'd expect from a product named 'Honey Douce'! But because the formula is so low in pigment it comes out a completely different shade. This cool pink/peach is very easy to wear and even easier to apply.
But this is where I get picky. I'm personally not a big fan of its packaging. It feels very cheap and the bottom (which you rotate to build the bullet) makes an annoying rattling noise and often threatens to fall off. The bullet itself is very wide and round which makes it hard not to go over the lip line - the smudged effect is not exactly desirable. The product itself has a slight minty scent which was pretty unexpected and unnecessary if you ask me. When it comes to long-lasting wear, the balm definitely needs topping up throughout the day as the satin formula means its not great for the wear and tear of everyday life. But I love the shade and it does feel very light and balm-like on the lips. 'Honey Douce' is definitely going to be making a return to the make-up routine.

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil - 'Sex Machine'

'Sex Machine' is the latest addition to my over-growing collection of NARS lip pencils. It's the perfect 'your-lips-but-better' shade which may sound stupid to some, but for me it's ideal. I whip this one out for all occasions - but it's mostly become my go-to everyday shade. I love that I can layer this on in the morning and not worry about smudging or uneven fading. It's a dusty pink colour that matches the natural shade of my lips and it's fast become my favourite. Once again, it's a Velvet Matte formula which fails to dry out the lips and just sits comfortably all day. I always forget I'm wearing it which is a sign that a lip product is doing it's job! 
I picked up this lovely liner at #BeautyChatLIVE last month and am fast getting through it. One of the things I love about this pencils is their easy application. I like to keep them nice and sharp so the application is very precise. Plus, this soft hue means you can either do a quick swipe of pink or build up the colour for a slightly bolder look. I would honestly struggle to find fault with these lip pencils. In my eyes, they can do no wrong. They're long-lasting and incredibly effortless. 'Sex Machine' is the perfect subtle babydoll pink. 

'Sex Machine' (L), 'Honey Douce' (R)

In the photos, there's not actually that much difference between the colours. But when it comes to formulas and lasting power, these products are worlds apart. In this instance, High End beats High Street but Revlon Colorburst lip Stain is a solid contender. When making a direct comparison, it takes a wonder of a product to bump NARS lip pencils off their pedestal. But I'd say the Colorbust lip stain is a more relaxed, lazy day kind of product. The kind you'd reach for on holiday or when you're having an otherwise low key day. In contrast, NARS lip pencils constitute my everyday, 'put-together' face. They look like I've made an effort when in reality, they require very little. But at £7.99 instead of a pricey £19, Revlon does win in this respect. As a result, my ideal make-up routine is a mix of budget and slight indulgences just so I can salvage that bank balance a little.
LydiaLulu
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Friday, 6 March 2015

'You Are What You Listen To'.

Misplacing my headphones is like losing a limb to me. Whenever I'm out and about, just chilling in my room, doing my work, or commuting, I will without doubt be tuned in to my musical world... otherwise known as the contents of my iPhone. There's something so comforting about plugging in my headphones and listening to that old favourite song to lift my spirits. Everyone has the playlist that puts a jig in your step. The song that sums up your feelings so perfectly that you wish you'd written it. The album you spent an entire Summer singing along to. Hell, you even have a workout playlist to inspire you to run that little bit further. Music is a powerful form of escapism and I'd be lost without it.
I can judge specific life experiences by what I was listening to at the time. George Ezra's 'Wanted on Voyage' defined my Summer trip to Cornwall in 2014, Michael Buble's 'Crazy Love' was the sound of October 2009, and any of John Mayer's wonderful albums are my soundtrack of the past seven years! I mentioned in my latest Lazy Sunday Listens a few songs of special significance, but I thought it was about time I devoted a entire post to the songs that carry some wonderful memories.



1. Paramore, 'The Only Exception'
2. Michelle Branch, 'Goodbye to You'
3. KT Tunstall, 'Other Side of the World'
5. James Blunt, 'Carry You Home'
6. Crowded House, 'Don't Dream it's Over'
8. Taylor Swift, 'Begin Again'
9. Tom Odell, 'Supposed To Be'
10. Corinne Bailey Rae, 'The Sea'

These selected songs have been the soundtrack of my teenage years and make for nostalgic listening. They've been played throughout the good times and the bad times also. They've been there through many life changes and a simple listen is enough to transport me back to a specific moment in time. It's a comfort and reminds me of just how much I've grown as a person now that I'm about to enter my twenties. These songs will always hold a special resonance with me as they're intwined with so many special memories. After all, as the saying goes, 'you are what you listen to'.

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Thursday, 5 March 2015

Coffee Detox.

Having been at university for six months now, what I've learnt (amongst other things) is that budgeting is really hard. And that I'm no good at it at all. I tend to be very blasé with my spending for the first few weeks after my loan comes in and then blindly panic for the rest of the term. You know something needs to change when it gets to the point where you're too scared to check your bank balance. So when I was reflecting on ways I could save some money here and there, the one thing that jumped to mind was the one I wanted to change the least. My coffee addiction.
To be honest, it's probably a good thing I don't have the disposable income to indulge my habit anymore. Being dependent on caffeine isn't the greatest. It works wonders for waking you up first thing in the morning but that mid-morning crash is lethal... and normally results in me hunting down the nearest café like a madwoman. But there's just something about it, when I have a coffee in hand I feel ready to tackle the day!
When I was at my worst, probably around the time of my Old English exam and I took to revising in my local Starbucks, I would be having a least two of their overpriced coffees a day mixed with my array of tea at home. That's easily around £7 a day, which doesn't sound like much but certainly adds up when you think about. Trying to calculate how much I spend on my coffee habit a year is enough to inspire tears!
To ween myself off the sugary stuff, because Caramel Macchiatos are my go-to coffee of choice, I picked up some substitutes during my last Sainsbury's dash. Because I worked as a Barista in Starbucks for two years when I was studying for A-Levels, I've become a bit of a coffee snob. Okay, a fully-fledged coffee snob. If you ever see me in a Costa then you know that I'm having a bad day. As a result, I normally turn my nose up to instant coffee. After all, it's made with robusta beans which tend to have a very bitter, low quality taste. Espressos made in an authentic coffee stores use Arabica beans are fuller in taste and so much nicer. When you've been indoctrinated to the same extent as me, it's very hard not to notice the difference!
So when I was trailing the coffee and tea aisle, Nescafé's espresso brew which is made with 100% Arabica beans jumped out at me for obvious reasons. I also recognised this brand of syrup from frequent trips to Café Nero with my Mum and indulged in the foolproof Vanilla flavour. I thought having a shot of syrup in my brewed coffee would make me feel like I was having the real thing! So far, so good. It's been a week and I've only bought one 'Tall Skinny Caramel Macchiato'  - and that was in a particularly sleepy interval between lectures. I even Instagrammed it, whoops. It's all about those baby-steps, maybe next term I'll be strong enough to be spend my university days caffeine-sober.
In the meantime, the Nescafé espresso blend is a great substitute. It's smooth and creamy in consistency and almost tricks me into thinking that I've had my Starbucks fix. Who knows, maybe one day it'll be a permanent replacement. It's still early days. I'm getting there and becoming a more frugal student in the process. It's a win-win.
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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Top 5 Spring Shades.

I like to think that my love of all things Essie is just one of my quirks. A loveable quirk of course, but a quirk nonetheless. I didn't mean for this post to become Essie exclusive, it just kind of turned out that way. And if you're not convinced as to the full extent of my obsession, then check out this golden oldie of a post for details.

L to R: 'A List', 'Exotic Liras', 'Splash of Grenadine', 'Meet Me At The Altar', 'Island Hopping'

But I digress. It's not technically Spring until the 20th March but the weather is suggesting otherwise. There's a Spring-like crispness in the air, the days feel longer, the sky is bluer, and everything is generally prettier. And that's including my nails. Just like you update your wardrobe for a change of season, I like to keep my fingertips in check with the changing weather. In all honesty though, does anyone really need an excuse to wear a coral pink on their nails? Not me.
Hear me out. My love of Essie is completely justified. The application is great, the brush sizes vary between colours but you're either landed with a thin or wide applicator. Because I'm just so haphazard when it comes to actually painting my nails, a wide brush suits me better. It takes a mere stroke to cover the nail and you're good to go. Yet, some people are more meticulous when it comes to their manicures and would appreciate a thin brush for precise application. Hence why these few bottles are labelled 'Professional Application' - either way, you win.
At £7.99 a bottle, Essie falls in that middle category between drugstore and high-end prices. As a result, the formula is better than your average run-of-the-mill Barry M bottle but its equally not quite up there with the Chanel counter. Personally, I think it's a great middle ground. Essie is a fun, affordable brand with an incomprehensible range of colours - going near the Essie concession in my local Boots is like approaching a wonderfully wacky rainbow.
Narrowing my Spring shades down to just five bottles was harder than I thought it would be. But in the end, these shades just jumped out of me. 'A List' is a classic, Hollywood-starlet red that's not too OTT. I like my reds to be subtly glamourous, not so in your face - like I wrote in my Formula X Review, 'A List' just fits the bill. Out of my epic collection, this is the one nail polish which probably the most use and definitely the most compliments. 'Exotic Liras' is a funny one. I remember standing at the Essie counter feeling distinctly uninspired (when you spend as much time lusting over Essie as me, it's bound to happen) yet craving a new colour for my collection. I picked up 'Exotic Liras' thinking 'this will do' and wasn't even sure if I liked it very much, such is the intensity of my nail varnish addiction. But when I got home and gave it a trial run, I was pleasantly surprised. I'm not normally one to go for bold colours in the fear that they'll make me look pale. But this shade is the perfect pop of colour, a reddish fuchsia. I guess it just proves that trying something different can often really surprise you. It's fast become a favourite. 'Splash of Grenadine' is equally as fun, it's a bubblegum pink hue with a purpley tone that has the magic power of making my hands look tan. I love this colour because, although it looks bright and intimidating in the photo, it is actually quite an understated pink. Very girly and, again, not too in your face.

Clutching my Nancy's Nails Scented Topcoat - 'Exotic Liras'

My final two shades are slightly more muted in tone. I'd call them my foolproof Spring colours. The previous shades are for crisp afternoon dog walks, picnics, and brunch (any other Spring clichés you can think of?). They're great bold colours but they don't exactly cover the days when it's pouring with rain, it's still a little cold and you can't decide if it's time to retire the winter coat. That's where 'Meet Me At The Altar' and 'Island Hopping' come in. Two soft pinks shades (of course) that cover the not so glamourous side of this season but still leave your nails looking pretty. Because life's not short for neglected nails.
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Monday, 2 March 2015

Review: NARS All Day Weightless Luminous Foundation

When it comes to naming their products, NARS sure do they like their crazy long titles - I don't think you could possibly fit another adjective into this mad choice of name. On first impressions, this foundation makes a hell of a lot of promises. But after three weeks of use, it's certainly lived up to them all.
Until about a year ago, I was terrified of foundations. After a couple of orange-coloured disasters in my early teens, I thought I was done with the stuff for life. Even being colour-matched filled me with dread. For years I was quite happy jogging along with Benefit's cult classic 'Erase Paste' and whatever cheap compact powder I stumbled upon. They were simpler times.
When I started my job in retail last April, I was plagued with a series of bad breakouts. It's as if my skin knew that I needed to look my best and was punishing me for years of neglect. So I bought the BareMinerals introductory kit and dabbled in foundation for the first time since I was fourteen. Except thick foundation powder in the height of Summer isn't such a great combination. As I wrote here, I then moved onto  Benefit's 'The Big Easy' liquid-to-powder CC cream which worked great for a while - it was thick consistency and ideal for 8-hour shifts. But once I got to university, I wanted lighter, natural-looking coverage. I was distinctly underwhelmed by the BareMinerals 'BareSkin' serum foundation and was in the market for a new product when the latest NARS addition was released. Devoted fans of the original 'Sheer Glow' foundation haven't exactly been singing this one's praises, but I never got on with the cult classic when I used to steal it from my Mum's dressing table. An update of the hugely successful foundation with a matte finish? I couldn't resist and indulged when I attended #BeautyChatLIVE last week.

Shade: Mont Blanc

After three weeks of use, I'm seriously impressed. This foundation has withstood full days of lectures and some big nights out. It doesn't budge and looks very natural - it gives the skin a slight glow and is still suitable for oiler complexions. One of my old qualms about foundation is that it has a tendency to sit on the top of your skin and just generally looks 'cakey'. The new NARS formula is so easy to blend that I found using my fingers is more effective than a standard foundation brush. Personally, I don't set the foundation with a powder because it makes me look a little too 'done-up' for my liking but instead carry round my trusty Sephora blotting pads for oily T-Zone emergencies.
It's not the best for covering up break-outs but it does provide a great base for further concealing. My love of 'Erase Paste' is still going strong some seven years later! Although I absolutely love the packaging (even the bottle has a slight 'glow' to it), I do find the lid gets a bit grubby very quickly. I did my best to wipe it down with a make-up remover wipe for the above snap but it was just not having it - on the plus side, I suppose it's testament to this foundation's long-lasting power! Another advantage of this foundation is the pump that's included - sounds obvious but it's a NARS first.
Retailing at £32, NARS' latest addition isn't the cheapest foundation out there but it isn't the most expensive either. I've personally found a match I'm happy with as it combines a sheer, natural glow with the right amount of coverage and a matte finish. I can only sing it's praises. What can I say, it's love.
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Sunday, 1 March 2015

Top February Reads.

From now until forever, I will remember February 2015 as the month I got my blogging mojo back. I was stuck in a bit of a rut - and was crazily distracted by both my personal and university life. Every time I sat down to write a post, I felt distinctly uninspired. Like I had nothing to say anymore, nothing interesting to share with my readers. Wanting to blog and not knowing where to start is scary - hey, it even stops people from diving into this crazy online world, known as the blogosphere, in the first place. You become plagued with insecurity. Why even bother? Who's reading this anyway? The more you start thinking in this negative mindset, the harder it becomes to get writing again.
I love Bloglovin', I can't gush about it enough. The amount of wonderful blogs I've discovered through this platform over the past eight months is crazy to think about. It's such a great tool for connecting with the blogging community. Like most users, I have the little widget in the top right hand corner of Google Chrome which very kindly informs me of how many unread posts I have waiting for me. But when I fell off the bandwagon, every time I opened my internet I felt like that little '99+' Bloglovin' widget was mocking me. I felt like an outsider looking in on some great party that I hadn't been invited to. Except by giving up blogging, I'd uninvited myself. So I took the plunge and began going through my archives, I'd missed something crazy like 3,000 posts. I marked them all as 'read' and began again. Just like that. It took me a while to realise that I was the one excluding myself - I was responsible for making myself feel like I wasn't good enough. Of course writer's block is going to happen every once and a while, but it's how you respond to it that makes you a better blogger.
So like the little blogger addict that I am, here are my favourite inspiring reads from the past month.


1. What Olivia Did | Little Denim Dress

Just like Olivia, I fell head over heels for Alexa Chung's collaboration with AG Jeans. The denim skirt dress stole my heart but alas, I don't have £500 to spare. Although, I'm pretty sure the star wears it in her 'Great British Bake-Off' appearance this week. When Olivia debuted this 'Miss. Selfridge' on her blog this month, I was gutted to see that the dress had sold out online. Typical. But like the true shopaholic that I am, I double-checked the availability in stores and sure enough there was one in stock in my local branch. I couldn't resist. I hopped on the bus to West Quay almost immediately and bought this as a little pre-birthday, I-passed-my-first-term treat. Worth every penny.

2. Vivianna Does Make-Up | My Super Long-Lasting #BeautyChatLIVE Face

One of the highlights of my month was making a quick overnight trip to Brighton for #BeautyChatLIVE. Meeting Anna and Lily in 'real life' and asking their advice on running a blog while studying was one of those 'pinch me' moments. Add a NARS counter and champagne into the mix and you have my dream evening. In this post, Anna outlines her go-to products for the tour. She went for a very natural look for the Brighton event - something I'll be trying to emulate in coming weeks, no doubt.

3. Lily Melrose | Keeping Motivated as a Blogger

Because I spent my blogging hiatus avoiding Bloglovin' like the plague, I missed out on this post when I really could have used it. I don't know what I've been doing the past eight months of my life because I only just stumbled upon llymlrs this month. And I think I've developed a bit of a blogger crush - I love that she posts everyday and no matter how short or sweet, her blog is full of personality. Personally, I think the most successful blogs give you a sense of the person behind the pixelated image. From a girl who's in the blogosphere for the long-run, her tips for keeping motivated are flawless.

'Hello Giggles' was one of the first blogs I followed back in June and its content never fails to amuse me. After all, it was 'Hello Giggles' which made my borderline obsessed with #thedress - there's a day of my life I'll never get back. But this post about long-distance friendships really struck a cord with me. My best friend, a girl I practically consider a sister, moved to Australia at the end of 2013 and I miss her everyday. Although it was definitely the right thing for her to do, and it's amazing to see how well she's doing for herself out there, sometimes all you need is a cuddle from your best friend. The plan is for her to move back someday, but for now we're trying to do the best we can when the geography and time zones are against us!

February raced past and I've got just nine days left of being a reckless, carefree teenager. Eeek. For now, I'm trying my hardest to create daily content that ranges from beauty, to fashion, to lifestyle. Because beauty review after beauty review would just be boring. February also saw me put down a deposit on a new blogger design which I could not be more excited about if I tried. But most importantly, this month saw me fall in love with blogging again,
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