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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

BEAUTY || Disappointing Products.

We all have those beauty products - either sitting on our dressing tables or stashed away under the bed - where hopes were thwarted and things didn't quite work out. Whether it was the 'miracle' moisturiser of the moment or the lipstick that was supposed to last for hours and didn't make it past your first cup of coffee, the far-fetched promises the industry throw at us can't all be true. Hence why we buy into them and are disappointed when the products turn out to be less than useful. But it's okay, we've all been there!

As a disciple of all things Aussie Shampoo, Conditioner, even Shower Gel related, I had high hopes for their newly released dry shampoos. Well, to be honest, I bought this dry shampoo because CoLab isn't stocked in my local Boots at uni. But hey, I figured it was worth a try. At first, I was all over this product. One good thing it's got going is that it smells divine. A sweet, almost tutti frutti scent. However after a few hours, the smell does get really overpowering. But the real clincher here is that this dry shampoo doesn't combat greasy roots... Instead it leaves your hair with that crispy, cheap dry shampoo feeling and you instantly feel the need to jump in the shower and wash it out. Kinda defeats the purpose of the product, right?
The Dior 'NudeTan BB Cream' is a product I've been battling with for almost a year now - it was one of the first products I bought after getting into blogging and it seemed like everyone was raving about this dreamy BB Cream. I remember because I was on my annual holiday to Cornwall at the time and raced to my nearest Debenhams as soon as I got home to pick one up. Oh the disappointment! This cream is the most concentrated shade of orange, it's almost impossible to pull off. I just about blended it to a normal shade in my 'Lazy Sunday Face' post a couple months back, but that took a lot of scrubbing, time, and effort. Nowadays, I just feel self-conscious whenever I wear this because I feel like I'm walking round with a bad fake tan. For ladies with warmer complexions this might be a winner, but from now on I'm all about embracing the pale.
I've seen what seems like hundreds of bloggers swear by the Clinque 'Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm' as part of their daily skincare routine. But for me, there's just not much to say on this one. Yes it just about took my make-up off but that's it. It didn't make any change to my complexion and I actually found it quite greasy despite the claims that it's lightweight product. The Body Shop's 'Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter' is miles better and £10 cheaper - this one is a total no-brainer.
And finally, the L'Oréal 'Elive Nutri-Gloss Crystal Sparkling' Shampoo and Conditioner. I used to love these when they first came out - I must have been about 16 and the idea of glitter in your everyday shampoo and conditioner was too much to handle. I use to race through bottles and was constantly repurchasing them. I think it must have been boredom and discovering the wonders of Aussie haircare that meant this shampoo and conditioner duo was substituted in my routine, but seeing as they were on special offer last month and I'm a broke student - I thought, why not? It's the shampoo that's the greatest disappointment, as no matter how hard I scrub my hair to get rid of the product in the shower, I'm always left with some sticky residue round my roots. It's not great. And the conditioner is kinda underwhelming and watery. Maybe L'Oréal have 'updated' the formula as these companies always do or maybe I wasn't so uptight four years ago, but either way these products have gone straight in the bin once I hit publish on this post!

On the bright side, not everything you purchase is going to be your dream, miracle, must-have product - it's just part of life that you've got to kiss a few frogs along the way!
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Sunday, 28 June 2015

DIARY || What My Week Actually Looked Like.

Ever find yourself sitting down to write one thing and then end up heading in a completely different direction? Yeah, this was one of those posts. Initially, I was going to confess my greatest 'Beauty Sins' - a fun kind of post that's been floating round the bloggersphere of late. But words kept on coming and this Sunday post just turned into something completely different... and I'm actually okay with that. 
As part of the social media generation, I think it's safe to say that we all like to portray our 'ideal' selves online. In lieu with my 'Beauty Sins' idea, I was going to say how this blog is a manifestation of my beauty trials and tribulations - but for the most part, my make-up and style successes. Or at least what I think are successes ha. Because I obviously don't document days like today, for instance, when I'm sitting with my laptop in front of me, donning my comfiest boyfriend jeans, and hair scraped back in a ponytail. Why not? Because it's not all that glam - and thus, not 'blogger' appropriate. As much as I adore the blogging community, it's all very filtered and we only get a very skewed insight into bloggers' lives. Instagrams are heavily edited, witty tweets thought of long in advance, and who knows how many takes that spontaneous selfie actually took? It's not just bloggers that are guilty of it (I'm absolutely not saying I'm exempt either!) but scrolling through Bloglovin' as often as I do means that I find myself comparing my beloved blog to other people's. And through the looking glass, their lives look a hell of a lot more glamorous than mine at times.

Last week I did a Photo Diary of my shopping trip to Kingston because I thought it'd be nice to do more 'lifestyle'-y posts on a Sunday. You know, take a break from all the beauty/style business for the weekend. If you've been following me on Twitter, then you might know that I've been lusting after the Charlotte Tilbury & Norman Parkinson limited edition lipstick, 'Miss Kensington', for FOREVER. So when it launched online yesterday, I managed to convince my oldest friend to come along to the Fenwicks concession so I could finally indulge. I thought our little trip would make a nice Sunday post - two birds with one stone and all that jazz. Well disaster struck when I realised that I'd gotten a little overexcited and hadn't noticed that the Norman Parkinson collection was an online exclusive... 
Not only was I disappointed that I wasn't going to get the lipstick (no worries though - I ordered it online there and then) but I stared to panic about what I'd do for today's post. I couldn't write about the Charlotte Tilbury counter without buying something! It took me longer than I care to reveal how ridiculous I was being - I can write about lifestyle whenever I want regardless of whether it fits the glamorous 'blogger' stereotype. So despite my epic CT fail, I thought I'd do a photo diary of my week nonetheless. Most of these snaps have been taken on my iPhone so they're not brilliant quality but hey, it's what my week has actually looked like.

Yes, I'm a self-confessed Crazy Cat Lady and couldn't resist this picture of Django squeezed into a cardboard box.
Mid-week beauty treats with Mum - expect a Stila liquid lipstick review in coming days...
A casual Elephant in Duke of York square during my lunch break.
So totally in love with my new work shoes - it pays to work in WHISTLES!

Although my Charlotte Tilbury mission failed, my afternoon was salvaged by the most amazing blueberry muffin and latté in Apostrophe in St. Christopher's Place. Oh, and the company of course. Em - if you're reading...!
Lydia in her natural habitat - at the Nails Inc concession, coffee in hand, and lusting after the 'Denim' shade. It'll be my first purchase come pay day.

This week may have been lacking in Instagram-worthy moments, but hey it's what my week really looked like. Although blogging is a great escapism, sometimes it's nice to have a bit of reality shining through.
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Friday, 26 June 2015

STYLE || The Gamechanger.

Whenever I'm lugging a heavy handbag down the street or just trying to squeeze that extra magazine into the depths of my bag, I can't help but get jealous of men. The ordinary bloke doesn't have to worry about packing his bag the night before (unless he's still in school) or think about whether he's got everything he needs for the day. Most men I know can live by the simple checklist 'wallet, phone, keys, and jacket' and be out the door in no time. It just doesn't seem fair! Well... I say all this, but really it is my choice to lug around half my possessions on a daily basis. My camera can be my biggest nemesis - because who knows when the perfect photo opportunity will arise?
I've been meaning to downsize my everyday handbag for quite some time - of course I'll never take the beloved Mulberry Alexa out of rotation but I've been lusting after something a little more lightweight and summery. *Enter the WHISTLES Sale bargain of the century*

This bag has already been featured in two posts (my Kingston Diary and Cluttered Lip Products) on the ol' blog and been spamming up my Instagram feed but I couldn't help it - I'm more than just a little obsessed and felt it deserved its own post here. And yes, this is the second WHISTLES clutch I've bought in the sale. No judgement please, they're just too pretty to resist. Plus, I travelled halfway across London with my friend Naomi to bag it (no pun intended... okay, very much intended ha) but for that story, you'll have to check out my Kingston Photo Diary.
The WHISTLES Rivington bags are rereleased and updated every season because they're an ideal size for both everyday and evening use. Of course, the one I picked up was from SS15 as it was on sale at just £30. But fear not, the beautiful shades of pinks and purples has slotted so perfectly into my wardrobe. I've said it before and despite the more coloured aspects of my blog, my wardrobe is largely very monochrome - she types as sits in bed in her favourite pair of dark blue denim skinny jeans and yet another black camisole. See?
Size-wise, it's much smaller than I'm used to. But that can only be a good thing - after all, I've just started in a new retail job and there's nothing worse than carrying a heavy handbag all the way home after a full day shift. My gorgeous new handbag has forced me to only carry round what I need - and it's not all that different from the male checklist I mentioned earlier. Add in a few lipsticks and it's practically identical! Throw in an iPad Mini for good measure and I'm ready to take on the day - cause a girl needs to check her Bloglovin' feed on her lunch break of course...
What can I say, this gorgeous little handbag has converted me - it's a real gamechanger. If I keep indulging in the WHISTLES sale, I'll literally be the lady who lived in her bags! It's a dangerous place to work...
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Thursday, 25 June 2015

BEAUTY || Revlon Nail Polish Offerings.

For as long as I can remember, nail polish has always been my 'thing'. Of course, as a beauty blogger, I own excessive numbers of lip products (click here for details) and am always impartial to a new tube of mascara - but nothing quite compares to the rush of buying a new nail polish. As readers of LydiaLulu will already know, Nails Inc and Essie are my go-to brands for unique shades and a long-lasting finish. But alas, I can't always afford to spend £14 on a nail polish - as much as I'd love to own every Nails Inc shade - sometimes you just have to look elsewhere.
Olivia Palermo's collaboration with Ciaté has been popping up on some of my favourite beauty blogs the past few weeks and it was the peach shade, 'Nantucket', that really captured my heart. But spending £17 on a nail polish with a socialite's name on it? Not so much, I wasn't convinced. Although, I can't lie... I'm seriously considering picking it up in New York when it'll be half the price. Please don't judge me. 
Anyway, so I was on the hunt for a drugstore dupe when I stumbled upon these Revlon offerings. And it was 2 for £10 - like I could resist. I walked out of Boots feeling pretty chuffed with myself - as if I cheated the system somehow by picking up two polishes for less than a single Ciaté equivalent. I had never tried any polishes from the Revlon Parfumerie before - to be honest, scented nails seem a little bit primary school to me. But I've been pleasantly surprised. As you would expect, 'Apricot Nectar' (the 'Nantucket' doppelgänger) smells subtly of apricots whereas as 'Ginger Melon' has an almost tutti fruity scent. 

Apricot Nectar

The varnishes apply like a dream and two coats leaves you with a pleasant pop of colour - nothing too garish. I'd say that 'Apricot Nectar' isn't quite as gorgeously peachy as Ciaté's 'Nantucket' but it makes a welcome addition to my nail polish stash - I'm a girl of many shades of pinks, reds, and purples. A summery orange just makes things a bit more interesting.
What's really disappointing about this product is the finish - although the application is easy, the varnish takes a lifetime to dry and even longer to set. I tend to paint my nails at around 8pm in the evenings, with a cup of tea and a episode of 'Pretty Little Liars' (yes, I've officially gotten back into my guilty pleasure of 2011) streaming in the background. Then I'm usually in bed by 11:30 - don't laugh! - and by the time I'm up in the mornings, my nails have all the duvet smudges. It's infuriating!

Ginger Melon

Even though 'Ginger Melon' was an after-thought purchase, it's probably my favourite of the two. A quick look on the Boots website and you'll see that it was actually discontinued last year - seems like my local store is trying to shift the last of its stock. But it's a really fun coral, pinky shade that's unlike anything I have in my collection. It's a colour I really enjoy wearing. Again, a pop of colour without being too in-your-face. A winner... you know, that is if it didn't smudge all the time.
It's a shame these polishes are so susceptible to smudging - I may have to invest in a better quality topcoat (my Barry M one suits for most days) to make them more worthwhile. Otherwise, Revlon Parfumerie have a great selection of colours - their range would challenge a lot of high end brands but is still lacking in terms of its formula. It's a shame really, but at least it gives me an excuse to indulge in the Ciaté Olivia Palermo range..!
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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

BEAUTY || The Cluttered Lip Product Post.

If you're following me on Instagram or caught my latest Sunday Post then you'll have seen that I indulged in yet another Whistles bag over the weekend. Reduced from £85 to £30, there was no way I was going to be able to resist that kind of saving. And all the shades of pink! It wasn't a question of wanting, I needed this bag.
Whenever I'm feeling uninspired these days, I look no further than the blogging community for fresh exciting content. There are so many wonderful beauty, fashion, and lifestyle bloggers who produce such original content on a near daily basis. It's mind boggling and means I can easily spend all day scrolling through Bloglovin'. A post that caught my eye about a week or so ago was 'The Lip Products Collecting at the Bottom of my Bag' on one of my favourite blogs, The Only Ones. It's nice to know that I'm not the only girl out there who carries round a ridiculous number of lip balms, glosses, and lipsticks (usually of all more or less the same shade). Although I've downsized from my Mulberry Alexa, just going through my new bag - which I've only had for two days! - I've already accumulated an excessive number of products.
First up is a a handbag regular - I can't remember when I last had this sitting on my chest of drawers at home - the & Other Stories Lip Balm. I've had this beauty staple for about three years now, let's just say the packaging is all worn away and I can't even tell you the shade's name. I love this cute little pot, it's very portable and has spent it's life being chucked from handbag to handbag. Although & Other Stories is fairly upmarket, the beauty range is far more accessible in terms of price and such great quality. However, this definitely isn't a lip balm - it's a dusty pink gloss that gives your lips a nice sheen without being too greasy. From what I can tell from their website, this colour has been discontinued but there are plenty of other - perhaps more on-trend - shades to choose from. But for now, this oldie will take pride of place in my handbag.
Then there's the Benefit 'Dandelion' Lip Gloss. A soft pink pearly lip gloss, it's more or less identical to its & Other Stories counterpart. I have about three tubes of the stuff, where I've lost one and repurchased it only to find the original a couple of days later - it's one of life's cruelties! I very rarely go out without any kind of product on my lips - Dandelion is for days when I want to look natural but also like I've made an effort... if that makes any sense at all.
I raved about EOS lip balms in my Lazy Sunday Face post a couple months back. I can't count how many of these I have lying around, they're such great little products. I love the circular packaging which means you can glide the balm straight onto your lips instead of dipping your finger into the product - not always the most hygienic option. Once you've found a great lip balm, it's hard not to buy them all - the one I carry round with me from day to day is the 'Passionfruit' but I have my eye on the 'Coconut Milk' swirls. Maybe when I'm in New York, eh?
Next, I have my token lipstick of the moment - MAC's 'Mehr' of course. Again, I wrote a post entitled 'The Throwback 90s Lip' which pretty much encapsulates this lipstick. It's a dusty pink/brown shade that goes perfectly with the lipliner, 'Soar'. I love this lipstick because even though it's a matte formula, it doesn't dry out the lips and is pretty long lasting - it doesn't surpass my love of the NARS lip pencil wonders but 'Mehr' does hold its own against a cup of coffee. For a more everyday look, I put one coat of this on just to make me look more 'put together'.
And last but not least, it was always going to be Dr. PAWPAW* - I wrote a rave review of this multi-tasking wonder product just last week. It's been travelling around with me everywhere ever since. If you want a more in detail analysis of this product, then feel free to delve into the archives, but all I can really say about Dr. PAWPAW is that it's a real beauty game-changer. It's works wonderfully as a lip balm and I always make a point of applying it as a primer before my favourite matte lipsticks - 'Mehr' works dreamily with this product. But it's also great as a hand cream and it's completely transformed the dry skin on my knuckles while also providing my cuticles with some much needed nourishment. To be honest, if I had to narrow down my handbag lip products then Dr. PAWPAW would trump them all. But until that day comes, I'll happily continue carting round unnecessary and practically identical shades of lip gloss, because... well... it's just what I do.
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Sunday, 21 June 2015

DIARY || Kingston and St. Christopher's Place.

I thought I'd shake things up a bit for today's Sunday post and do a bit of a vloggy/lifestyle photo diary. Personally, these are some of my favourite posts to read from around the blogosphere so I thought, why not make this a Sunday tradition?
I met up with one of my best university friends on Friday, also known as my 'twin', and embarked on one hell of a shopping date. Starting off in Kingston, we perused the isles of Topshop - both stumbling upon two great Summer wardrobe finds - and strolled around the city centre. Naturally, we stopped off in Whistles and that's when we found the most perfect across-body bag in the sale. Well, I say 'we' but Naomi saw it first and so I had to let her have it - because calling 'dibs' is a real thing! Reduced from £85 down to £30, I wasn't going to give up on the bag of my dreams and asked the sales assistant to see if there were any in the surrounding area. As luck would have it, there were 7 in stock in the flagship store in St. Christopher's Place. Having wandered round the shops some more and grabbed a quick lunch at Bill's on the waterfront (complete with peach bellini's!) - the twin and I decided to make a spontaneous trip into London so I could also snap up the gorgeous sale bag.












St. Christopher's Place is one of prettiest little nooks I've ever come across. With a hidden street entrance, this square is filled with some great shops and coffee finds - and of course, the beauty/fashion/everything hotspot that is Selfridges is only across the street. Having nabbed my bag, Naomi and I had a wander through the kitsch streets of Central London until we found The Good Life Eatery where we paused for coffee and peanut butter cups. Like you can think of a better combination. 






Although choosing to hang around in Central until Rush Hour wasn't our best idea, I had the best day catching up with my English Lit twin and got some pretty lovely purchases out of it... but more on that another time. And if you haven't already been, Kingston is one underrated shopping hotspot.
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Saturday, 20 June 2015

PERSONAL || A Spontaneous Ramble.

Ever find yourself in one of those moods where you just want to write? No? Okay, well maybe it's because I've been listening to some old school John Mayer (link here - be sure to check it out) and come over feeling all nostalgic. If you're not into rambling, life posts then stop reading here - business will resume as usual at 12pm tomorrow!
Today I got offered a job at Whistles for the Summer. If you've been following LydiaLulu since the beginning - and if so, thank you! - then you might be aware that I worked there in my gap year before I started university at Southampton. Equally, you might not. I was very careful to keep some things private here on the blog, to be honest I'm not entirely sure why. Anyway, I'm so excited to get stuck back in - it's a brand I've come to know and adore. Plus, it'll be nice to have a bit of my own money to spend on our upcoming family trip to New York and for just general university life.

      

Blogging has taught me a lot in the past year - it's introduced me to a wonderful online community of people who are all just as passionate about my 'superficial' love of all things beauty and fashion. But most of all, it's taught me a lot about myself. Take this post for instance, I write best when I'm just feeling inspired and when I'm not trying to force words onto the page. It's taught me to have confidence in myself and to pursue things no matter how terrifying they may seem.
Spending what feels like the majority of my free time perusing the internet looking for new blogs to follow has made me think seriously about what I want to do after I graduate. I reapplied for a job at Whistles not only because I love the brand and wanted the income, but because it has the kind of status in the fashion world which looks good on a CV. Of course, I still have two more years of uni (waheeey!) to figure this all out - but I think it's pretty normal by the age of 20 to have an idea of what you want to spend your working life doing. For me, it's always been about writing. In a perfect world where all my dreams come true, I'd have a column in The Guardian while also contributing to Vogue and Elle. But who knows where the land will lie in another two years? It's an exciting time for journalism... and for bloggers. I can't say I don't daydream about being a full-time blogger, LydiaLulu is pretty much my pride and joy.
I've mentioned it before on this platform and I won't delve into much detail again, but I've had a pretty crazy and life-altering past 12 months. I've been in and out of relationships, become close to people and then drifted away, gotten into blogging only to take another break, and now gone back to my old job. I know I'm not alone when I say this but I'm a creature of stability. I'm happiest when I'm more or less following some sort of schedule and in staple relationships - of both the friendly and romantic kind. I used to think that I was pretty savvy when it came to identifying when someone had an unhealthy influence on me. Recent experiences have taught me that I still have a long way to go.
But hey, I'm a firm believer in the tired old saying that 'everything happens for a reason'. I think my recent experiences and my return to Whistles means that it's time to focus on myself and my future. Isn't that what you should be doing at 20 anyway? People will naturally drift in and out of my life, and vice vera, but it's the ones that stick around that are worth holding on to.
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Friday, 19 June 2015

BEAUTY INSPIRATION || Lauren Conrad

It's very easy to underestimate the role other women play in our lives. Whether that be someone we look up to professionally or women who generally inspires us. Bear with me here, but when I was young teen, 'The Hills' was the show everyone was watching. There was just something about it that was so enchanting - the LA setting, the clothes, the glamour - the reality show's stars had everything I aspired for at the age of fourteen. Of course, it was revealed in due course that it was largely fabricated and watching it now, you can totally tell. But it was fun while it lasted.

One thing that has survived the show's legacy is my girl crush on Lauren Conrad. Her style, her makeup, and her life lessons - who can forget 'I want to forgive you and I want to forget you'? - LC is one reality TV star with class. An anomaly, in fact. For any fans that are still mourning the loss of the greatest reality TV show of all time, scrap 'Made in Chelsea', you can still get your daily Lauren Conrad fix from her blog. And if you're a superfan like me then she has two spot-on Style and Beauty guides that teach you how to live an LC-approved lifestyle.
Again, fans of the show will be all too familiar with Lauren's signature look - the girl dons a winged eyeliner come rain or shine. So naturally for four years, that was my go-to 'I'm making an effort with my make-up' look. I've mastered a few more interesting styles since (all thanks to the NAKED 3 Palette and some savvy beauty blog reading). But since MTV has been playing reruns of classic episodes and I clearly have too much time on my hands, I've been inspired all over again by Lauren's signature cat-eye flick.
When I began this post, I tried to take a picture of today's liquid eyeliner flick but my eyes have been suffering since I've been home (who knew hay fever is worse in London?) and they're especially red and swollen today. I can't lie, it's not a good look. So instead of exposing my hay fever-ridden face on the internet, I thought I'd include this snap from a couple nights ago where I'm looking very Lauren Conrad-esque. Look! I've even got the long blonde hair to match - clearly this woman has entered my psyche. One of the things I love about LC is that she has the effortlessly glamorous look down to a tee. She's one of those girls who look like they were born with a cat-eye flick, it's something I'm constantly trying to emulate.
                                             It's been a long, and at times difficult, affair with liquid eyeliners, I've tried my fair few. The beauty bloggers, Lily Pebbles and Lily Melrose, recommend the Soap & Glory Supercat eyeliner which I'm wearing in the above picture. At just £6, it's a pretty good purchase but disappointingly doesn't stand the test of time or fare well against heat. Equally, Benefit's They're Real Push Up Eyeliner had the beauty blogging community buzzing last August. It's a product I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with, sure it stays on all day but the rubber applicator means you usually end up covering your whole lid instead of a elegant thin line that runs along the rim of the lashes. The LydiaLulu-approved Hourglass Calligraphy pen combines the attributes of its two other competitors and lasts all day while providing precise application. It's perfect for days when I'm feeling a bit Lauren Conrad... because every girl feels like that at times! 
I have more than just some solid life advice to thank this star for, LC taught me how to look like a cool Los Angeles chick.
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Thursday, 18 June 2015

BEAUTY || Dr. PAWPAW* Magic.

It's the miracle product that's been floating round the bloggersphere for an age and been tempting me every time I walk into Urban Outfitters. Yes, I've finally got round to testing the beloved Dr. PAWPAW 'multipurpose soothing balm' and I have to say, I'm completely sold.
As a beauty blogger, it's pretty much a given that I own an excessive number of beauty/skincare/haircare/any promising products under the sun. To an extent, it's true - I've collected my fair share of beauty-related goodies in my time, to the detriment of my bank account of course. But having said that, I do enjoy a good ol' 3-in-1 type wonder product. Because even beauty-fanatics can be lazy at times!

Which is where Dr. PAWPAW comes in. Made from fermented pawpaw and intended for lips, skin, hair, and cuticles, this product aims to salvage all your beauty woes - and it totally succeeds. When it first arrived on my doorstep, my immediate thought was to try it out as a lip balm. I was expecting the consistency to be something between that of a moisturiser and a lip balm and was therefore pretty surprised when what came out was a more solidified substance. At first, it is pretty greasy (I'm thinking The Body Shop's Lip Butter here) but as it dissolves, your lips are left feeling nourished and prepped for an array of drying, matte lipsticks. I've been testing this product for a week and applying it to my lips about two to three times a day, and I have to say, I'm really impressed. I've noticed such a change in how products glide on without clinging to any dry patches. Although I can't see myself needing to use this on a daily basis, I'm confident that I'll keep this in rotation to keep my lips in lipstick-ready shape!
What I've been most impressed with is how it's transformed my hands - I've always had dry skin on my knuckles and have never found a product that's really done much to combat it. But Dr. PAWPAW has really helped to heal those areas and I've only needed to massage small amounts into my knuckles every so often to maintain the lovely condition. I've also been using the balm on my cuticles just to soften things up a bit - seeing as I paint my nails around three times a week, I felt like I owed them that much!
There are plenty of other uses you can get out of this balm including using it to smoothen hair or even as a primer before applying makeup. Personally, I already have thick, fine hair so tend to avoid products just so it doesn't get weighed down #thickhairproblems. I'm just waiting for my skin to clear up a little before testing any new products on my face because it's been throwing a bit of a tantrum lately and don't want to rock the boat too much. I have a feeling it would work well on ladies with dryer skin types, whereas I'm more spot-prone and oily-inclined. Sigh.
To be honest, I don't think I can gush Dr. PAWPAW enough. I'm racing through my tube as it is so you'll find me trying to make the difficult decision between the Original, Peach-tinted, and the Red-tinted in my local Urban Outfitters soon. Handily enough, it's also available on ASOS and Harvey Nichols. At just £6.95 a tube, I can't see a reason not to. Looks like I've found my new beauty staple!
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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

STYLE || The Dream WHISTLES Clutch.

Heading into a store in the midst of a mid-season sale under the pretence of a having 'quick browse' was never going to end well for me. My inner-Shophalic just isn't able to resist that kind of temptation, especially when said store is WHISTLES.

As a girl trying to get by on a student budget, this brand is usually way out of my price range. Having worked there for six months during my gap year, I got used to utilising my employee discount on the latest launches. I can't lie, I miss the store a lot. The people, the clothes, the shared love of the brand. I'd put the money I earned straight back into the store pretty much as soon as pay day rolled around! They were simpler times, before I had to think about buying food and paying bills and all that boring stuff. Oh and before I discovered Charlotte Tilbury. On the bright side, I have got some great staple pieces from my time at WHISTLES and the company taught me a lot about the fashion world. I.e don't buy too much into fast fashion and invest in a couple transcendent pieces per season. It's a mantra I try and stick to.

As if I could resist a clutch that matches my nails...
Either way, when the sales roll round they're definitely worth a look. Although there isn't a store in Southampton (otherwise I would have stayed with the company *sob*), the tiny concession in our local John Lewis gave me a taste of this season's offerings. With this clutch, it was love at first sight. As you can tell from a quick glance at my blog, I'm lover of pink. But when it comes to my actual wardrobe? Less so, I'm a big fan of all things monochrome. Which is what makes this clutch so perfect - it's a lovely muted, dusty pink shade. Just bright enough to add a pop of colour to an otherwise understated outfit. I remember seeing this when it first launched but retailing at £40, I shied away. And yet when I popped into my old store over the weekend, it had been reduced to half the price. Fate, no?
Plus, it fits perfectly into my ever-expanding collection of handbags. I'll be honest, I have been previously put off of buying a clutch out of fear that I'd lose anything that wasn't physically attached to me ha. But with something this pretty, I can't see that happening. It's just the right size to fit all my everyday basics - and who knows, maybe it'll force me to stop carrying around so much junk. I can't be the only woman who has hundreds of neglected lipsticks rolling round at the bottom of her handbag..?And if not, then it's just the right size for a make-up bag. Because us beauty bloggers can't have too many of those, right? Oh WHISTLES, you've captured my heart once again!
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Sunday, 14 June 2015

PERSONAL || Goodbye First Year.

The truth is, I've been trying to write this post for over a week now. The reason I've been struggling? Because words can't explain what an amazing year I've had. When writing a 'Lifestyle' post like this, I usually like to come at it from an angle. Give you my take on things. But when it comes to writing about your own life and not just a beauty product or your favourite new skirt, it's actually really hard. Because when it comes to living your life, you have to take everything at face value.
In my pledge for consistency which I published a couple days back, I went into a bit of detail about how LydiaLulu started off as a 'bit of everything' kind of blog. But after six months, I decided to take my blog in a beauty and style direction - effectively vetoing any discussion of my personal life. That said, it's very hard to separate my blog from who I am as a person. Without reciting every cliché in the book, LydiaLulu is very much a part of me. So when I officially finished - and *fingers crossed* passed - my First Year at Southampton, it only felt natural to write something here.

It's been one hell of a year. I had my trials and tribulations, I can't deny. At times, I was tempted to quit... again. Maybe university just isn't for me. But then I'd pick up my favourite book ('Jane Eyre' because Women's Literature is my not-so-guilty pleasure) and be reminded of why I put myself through all the hassle in the first place. If that didn't work (because F.Y.I. Victorian Literature isn't always the most uplifting of reads!), then I'd knock on a friend's door and we'd do the whole clichéd cuddle and cry, paint our nails, watch girly movies, or just mess around until we felt better. As much as I've loved my studies this year (could have done without the Old English, not gonna lie), the people I've met and can now call my closest friends have made my university experience so far. They're a wonderful bunch of weirdos with unique quirks and dish out priceless advice on every subject imaginable. I've only been home a week and I miss them more than I realised!

Again, just rolling out the clichés here but it's also been a year of self-discovery. I thought I had it all sussed out when I left school at 18, I had my anxiety under control and was going out, partying a lot. Stuff a normal 18 year old should be doing. By the time I was 19, I'd dropped out of uni, was working in retail, and wasn't all that confident as to where my life was heading. I knew I wanted to go back to uni but had my heart set on Sussex. Hey, at least LydiaLulu kept me on track. By the time I finally got everything sorted and was loving life in Southampton, I went through a pretty emotionally stressful period which made me question everything again. All I wanted to do was run home and climb under the covers. But you reach a stage in life where you just have to power through - because there really is no other option. I came out the other end a stronger and happier person who was more than ready to throw herself into her friendships, her studies, and all that university has to offer.
But First Year had to end sometime... sadly. As this was my second stab at university, I'm a little more nervous in progressing with my degree. Next year my work actually starts to count for something, eek! But a little part of me is up for the challenge, I'm pretty sick of being told that none of my work matters and I should take it easy instead.

To be totally honest, I haven't got any advice to offer here beyond just being yourself and throwing yourself in the deep end. If I had a penny for every time someone told me that when I was on the brink of university the first time round... seriously, it made me want to bang me head against the wall. But it's true! The reason I left my first university was because I wasn't ready for it all just yet - I returned to higher education after some soul-searching and was raring to go.
So this post is to commemorate one life-changing year and to the wonderful people I've met along the way. I couldn't have done it without them. Oh, and I've read some pretty great books too. And on the bright side, I have some much needed spare time to devote to blogging. I'm sad I'm no longer a carefree Fresher, but in all honesty - when have I ever been carefree? Exactly. I think it's about time to face reality and head on into Second Year. Bring on September...
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Saturday, 13 June 2015

BEAUTY || A Londoner's Beauty Hotspots.

As a student living in Southampton, it's a city I've come to know and love. It's a lot smaller than my hometown of London, yes, but it's got that same historical feel as well as plenty of modern developments. I'm honestly so happy there that I'm quite frightened by how quickly my first year flew by. My only problem? The lack of beauty halls. Of course there's John Lewis in West Quay which houses your expected brands but it doesn't quite get my heart racing like my beloved London hotspots.

Selfridges

This may be an obvious choice but that doesn't make it any less valid! The Selfridges beauty hall is like no other - it's a never-ending haven of brands beloved and obscure. And correct me if I'm wrong, but it's the only place you can buy MAC and Charlotte Tilbury under one roof. Plus, they have a killer Nails Inc concession. There's also something so glam about perusing the isles of this iconic department store. But like any London attraction it requires being able to push and shove your way through with the best of them. If you're a tourist then Selfridges is a must on the itinerary anyway, but if you're into makeup then this beauty hall is Mecca. 

Fenwick Bond Street

Slightly hidden from the madness of Oxford Street (yet also situated next door to the tourist frenzy that is Victoria's Secret), the Fenwick beauty hall is the definition of serenity. No pushy sales assistants, just you and the make-up... and the jewellery, and the shoes. To be honest, I find it really hard not to wander into the departments while I'm there. I slip into a beauty coma. The Charlotte Tilbury counter has recently been given a makeover - I'm not sure what else they could have done, it was already perfect - and I've been meaning to give it a visit. Who knows, maybe it'll trumph Selfridges?

Liberty

One of the first posts I ever wrote on LydiaLulu was my cringeworthy 'Liberty Sale Haul' - I definitely liked to ramble back in the day! Although a hell of a lot has changed in the past year, my love of Liberty prevails. I have a feeling it's going to be a life-long affair. Like Selfridges it hosts some of the more weird and wacky brands alongside my foolproof favourites. I'll never forget testing a Japanese foam foundation and making an embarrassing mess of it in the middle of the beauty hall. I also have a strawberry scented nail topcoat from Nancy's Nails which never fails to remind me of my childhood. Oh and did I mention the wall of Essie nail varnishes? Yeah, a wall of Essie. Enough said.

Space NK

Okay, so this one may be cheating a little bit. There are Space NKs up and down the country but as of yet, none in Southampton. I can't lie, it's bittersweet living within ten minutes of a store - the temptation can sometimes get a bit overwhelming. I've been home for a week and already stocked up on my NARS foundation but that involved making a beeline for the checkout to avoid the Eve Lom products calling my name. Space NK stores are like Fenwick on a smaller, more everyday scale. And that's what makes them dangerous!

Now that I'm home for three months you'll know where to find me...
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Friday, 12 June 2015

PERSONAL || A Blogging Birthday Promise.

So LydiaLulu reached the one year milestone on Wednesday. It seems crazy to me that it was one year ago that I signed up to Blogger out of sheer boredom and then lay in bed and wrote the most waffly, irrelevant post of all time. It's funny to think how much has changed since that day in June 2014. I had just left my first university, had started working in retail for the first time, and was navigating the ups and downs of a long-distance relationship that would blow up in my face only a few months after starting this blog. Flash forward to the present and I've completed my first year studying English Literature at the University of Southampton, have challenged myself in ways I would have only dreamt of last year, and am happily single and surrounded by loving friends. LydiaLulu has witnessed a lot of change in my life over the past twelve months and has also undergone three blog redesigns until I found one I was completely happy with. It was only after six months of blogging that I decided to take LydiaLulu in a beauty/fashion/occasional lifestyle post direction - it's safe to say it took me a little while to find my niche! 

Of course 10th June snuck past without me being able to commemorate the anniversary - LydiaLulu's birthday fell on the same day as my Grandma's 90th so naturally it was devoted to family time. But I thought I'd combine this otherwise soppy, sentimental post with a little announcement. When I was in the midst of final essays last month, I received two of these cute little Personalised Notebooks* courtesy of the lovely folks at Getting Personal. Seeing my blog logo on a notebook was one of those pinch me moments - any other stationery addicts out there? Initial excitement aside, they've inspired me to organise my blogging routine because at the moment... well there is none. Of course I have pages of notes on my iPhone for when inspiration strikes but when it comes to keeping to a schedule, I'm the first to admit that I'm pretty terrible. 
So to commemorate my first year of blogging, I thought it was about time I committed to some set dates and times. I have regular posts planned for this weekend to make up for lost time but from then on I'll be publishing four times a week going live at 12pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. That's the aim. Who knows? I might even end up blogging daily - I always find that the more active I am with posts, the more inspired I feel and the more content I am able to produce.
Although I would say I'm primarily a beauty blogger, I still like to dabble in fashion and some of my more general interests (books, coffee, and cats are the ones that instantly spring to mind!). I have two exciting holidays to Cornwall and New York planned in the coming months which will be meticulously documented on the blog and two new series that will be debuting in coming weeks. Having lived in another city for the past nine months, I'm also planning on making the most of London this Summer and will be including some more lifestyle posts just to spice things up a bit.
Now that I'm home from uni, I have three whole months to devote to my favourite pass-time. Before I sign off on this slightly unusual post, I'd just like to thank any one who has taken the time to read my blog, leave a comment, or followed on any social media platform. It's the best feeling knowing that someone out there is reading. I have a feeling this is going to be a good Summer...
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