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Tuesday, 28 June 2016

BEAUTY || Highlight on Fleek.

When a beauty product starts doing the rounds on the bloggosphere, its hard to resist temptation. This time it was the BECCA X Jaclyn Hill Champagne Collection Face Palette. Now that's a mouthful. Cast your mind back to 12 short months ago when the first BECCA X Jacyln Hill highlighter, 'Champagne Pop', was the must-have beauty buy of Summer 2015. It was almost impossible to get ahold of. In my review at the time, I relayed how I somehow managed to grab one that had just come into stock in Sephora an hour before flying home from the US. In other words, it was pure good luck and a total fluke. 

And trying to get my hands on this limited edition palette this time round was hardly much different. In fact, it was pure luck that I happened to be picking up a nail polish in Space NK a few weeks ago when a woman next to me at the checkout was buying 'Champagne Pop'. It popped into my head then and there to just enquire as to whether they would be stocking any of the new Jaclyn Hill Champagne collection, fully expecting them to say no especially as it had all sold out online at Sephora. To my surprise, my local store was getting just 20 palettes in and so I hastily put mine and my sister's name on the waitlist and found myself there a week later at opening time to pick up my goods. 
Boy oh boy is this palette worth the hype. If any of you reading this loved 'Champagne Pop' then this palette will not disappoint. Like with all BECCA products, each highlighter and blush is so intensely pigmented that I can see this lasting me a long time. Which suits me because at £48, this palette certainly not cheap. However, although on the more expensive side, a single BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfecter retails at around £32 in the UK which does mean that you're getting plenty for your money in this one palette. 

 Moving onto the colours themselves because I'm pretty impressed with the range. Most specifically, I'm reaching for 'Rosé Spritz' (above, top left) on an everyday basis. Its something a little bit different for me because I'm usually very into my neutral pinks if I even wear blusher at all. 'Rosé Spritz' on the other hand is a dusty pink luminous blush with golden undertones, effectively making it a highlighter in itself. Combined with 'Champagne Pop' dusted over the top and you have a very glow-y make-up look all ready to go.
'Prosecco Pop' also deserves a shoutout here as it is effectively 'Champagne Pop''s older sister - inspired by liquid gold, this highlight has serious umph. I personally like mixing the two highlighters together to create a more understated, glow-y look.
(Left to Right) Rosé Spritz, Amaretto, Pamplemousse, Champagne Pop, Prosecco Pop
If I'm being totally honest with myself, I'm not sure how much use I'll get out of the shade, 'Pamplemousse'. Its one serious bright coral that I can't see working quite so well with my extremely pale complexion. With any of this shades, you only need the lightest of hands. The first time I applied 'Rosé Spritz' I got a little excited by the prettiness of the colour and ended up looking like a rag doll. Never again!
Apart from living in constant fear that I'm going to drop it, this palette has been a huge success round these parts. And from what I've gathered, my sister is a pretty big fan too. Although they're few and far between, with any luck BECCA will make these colours part of its core collection. Either way, my highlight is sorted for the foreseeable future! Summer make-up is sorted.

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Sunday, 19 June 2016

STYLE || The Work-Out Wardrobe.

In keeping with my marathon announcement post on Friday, I thought I'd swiftly follow it up with a post all about where I've been investing my money when it comes to activewear. Because you know me, any chance for some shopping and I'm in. I know a lot of people will scoff at the idea but I genuinely find that I'm more motivated to work out when I have a nice pair of leggings to slip on or a pretty top that holds everything in place. Because sometimes the gym can feel like a chore and if investing in a funky pair of leggings helps me get there in the morning then I see no problem!
Since starting this crazy marathon journey back in January, I've come a long way not only in my training but also when it comes to fun and practical places to shop.

My first find was a good 'un. It's actually pretty embarrassing just how much I fan-girl over Anna of the wonderful blog Vivianna Does Makeup - she can recommend just about anything and chances are I'll go out and buy it. Not just because the products are usually stellar and totally worth it anyway but also because we have very similar taste in make-up and clothes. So yes, that's my justification. In the days after I signed up for the marathon, I was perusing the internet for some trendy sportswear which is harder to come by than you'd expect. Anyway, I remembered that Anna does her monthly Fitness Files and thought it'd be a good place to start. Approximately two minutes later, I had found the fab website that is Fashercise - a site that carefully collates the best of fashionable sportswear. To be honest, as beautiful as all the pieces are, they are largely well out of my price range. The perils of being a student and needing to eat. But to my delight, I found an amazing pair of leggings (below, left) that were reduced from £85 to £25. You can only imagine my excitement and I forked out my card details pretty swiftly. As I skimped on delivery, I was also so impressed that my leggings arrived the next day free of charge and came beautifully packaged and with a motivational note from the founders of the website (all documented on my Instagram feed, of course). As they went into sale almost six months ago, my exact pair are no longer available but there are a very similar pair here. These ALALA leggings are such great quality, they hold everything in place as I'm running along, and I love how the mesh detail just makes them a bit more interesting.
Speaking of another Vivianna Does Makeup-inspired purchase, my next pair of leggings are my newest edition (below middle). The tale behind these isn't quite so embarrassing as I've worked on and off for WHISTLES for the past three years so these fab leggings had been on my radar for quite some time. But it was this post that Anna did in collaboration with WHISTLES X FRAME that convinced me that I needed them in my wardrobe. Turns out I'm not the only one who almost instantly buys whatever Anna recommends and soon enough these were sold out online. Dammit, should have bought them when I first saw them. Yet, as fate would have it, when I went into store today to discuss my holiday hours there they were. Better yet, they had gone into sale. I couldn't purchase them quick enough and have been living in them ever since. They are honestly the comfiest thing and the combination of grey and pink means that they'll go with just about everything in my wardrobe. Fan-girl moment over but these have really captured my heart.

Next up is a fairly obvious sportswear destination. LuluLemon has a fairly large cult following amongst gym bunnies so this by no means a discovery store for me. I really like their simple, practical aesthetic and everything I've ever owned from this brand has lasted so well. I have a pair of running leggings (not featured in this post) that have lasted me a good five years and still going strong! So although LuluLemon is absolutely on pricier side, their workout gear is good for investing in if you have the cash to spend. Having said that, I got both these funky pink leggings (above, right) and this pretty pastel top (below, bottom left) on sale for a pretty reasonable price... I forget how much exactly but I usually draw my limit around the £40 mark for any single item.
Next up are workout tops. As a reasonably flat-chested gal, I live in strappy tops with built-in bras - because life is too short to struggle with cripplingly tight sports bras if you don't have to. I have to say that my the black Puma workout top is one of the best things out of all my sportswear - it's so easy and lightweight and goes with everything. I bought it off Amazon on a whim for around £15 and I have certainly got my money's worth as I find it really comfortable and flattering. An absolute winner in my books.
My Nike Dri-FIT Knit also deserves a shout-out here. One of the pricier items on this list, I got this alongside my trainers for my 21st birthday. I'm not sure how much I buy into the technology behind this one because I always end up a sweaty mess whatever I'm wearing - marathon training will do that to you! But its great at keeping me dry and warm when I'm running outside and for that it makes a great addition to my work-out wardrobe.
And now onto my favourite bit: loungewear. Because what could be better than curling up into an oversized hoodie after a tiring session in the gym. Nothing, I tell you, nothing is better than that feeling of total simultaneous exhaustion and comfort. My current favourite sweatshirt is none other than the Urban Outfitters 'Daydream Believer' top that I managed to snag just before they all sold out online (but still available here) - F.Y.I. you can get free next day delivery if you order in store, I was very impressed. The comfiest oversized fit combined with a quotation from the cracking tune by The Monkees means that this item has secured a firm place in my fashion favourites, both in and out of the gym.
There's not much to say about my Budapest Marathon hoodie... it is also grey and oversized and secures me the bragging rights to say that I'm actually training for a marathon. Plus, I look really super cool next to my two best friends who also have the exact same one. Some might think its a bit naff, personally I know that I'll cherish this little momento for years to come. Oh and the bragging rights, all about the bragging rights. 
And to wrap up this very lengthy post (who knew there could be so much to say about a few pairs of leggings?), I thought I should probably touch on my trainers. Seeing as they are single-handedly the most important piece of kit when it comes to training for a marathon. To be honest, this is tricky to advise on because everyone's running style is so different and all I know is that these work wonders for me. I ended up choosing the Nike brand as some of my running friends had their shoes and highly recommended them. I would advise going into store and trying on a variety of styles to see what works best for you - yes it feels ridiculous to be running on a treadmill in the middle of a store but this is what determines what shoes are tailored to your foot. You can tell that my pair (Nike Air Zoom Elite 8) have had a lot of wear since I got them for my 21st back in March. Yes they weren't cheap but this a good pair of trainers is where you should really invest your money - a cheap, rubbishy pair will only do your body a world of damage. The test of a perfect pair of running trainers? It feels like you're walking on clouds when you slip them on. 
So there you go, everything you could ever need to know about my gym-wear preferences. Honestly, I could talk about this till the sun goes down but I'm going to leave it here. As with anything I set my mind to, I have now become an expert with how to shop for it! But like I said earlier, with all this cool garments, I'll never be at a loss for motivation.

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Friday, 17 June 2016

WRITING || Budapest Marathon 2016.

I'm currently experiencing some intense writer's block. You know the kind, where you struggle to start typing, leaving sentences half-finished, and thoughts unexplained. I think its all because I don't even know how to begin explaining the ins and outs of why I've undertaken this huge challenge. All I can say is, that in October, a little under four months time, I'll be running the Budapest Marathon. And breathe.

Towards the end of my first year of university I got a taste for all things charity through volunteering with RAG - our university's 'Raise and Give' Society. As I documented here,  I caught the charity bug and started my next academic year intending to get even more involved. Like I mentioned in my catch-up post last month, one of my best friends at uni was recruiting people to run the Budapest Marathon in aid of The Children's Society. And myself and my other best friend Nancy, being the excellent friends that we are, offered to help hand out flyers around campus and garner interest in the challenge. Little did we expect that by trying to convince complete strangers to take part a marathon, that we'd end up convincing ourselves.
Maybe it was the remaining New Year vibes that swayed me into signing up, all I know is that I'd been wanting to get back into running again for a long time and this was the perfect opportunity to do so.
I always knew it was going to be hard. I would say that in the grand scheme of things I do have a pretty active lifestyle, mainly from dog walking and whizzing round London, but that I've never been particularly sporty. As you would expect, my taking on a marathon took a lot of friends and family by surprise but every banterous scoff made me all the more determined to do it.
As always, I'm a pretty all or nothing type and I so I started hitting the gym hard. So hard that I injured my knee within the first month which was far from ideal. I should have known better but you can't fault my enthusiasm. Since then, I've been running at least three times a week (except for exam season when I had to focus entirely on work - being the all or nothing kind of girl I am) and I've realised that feeling fit feels pretty damn good. Its nice to actually enjoy exercise - not that I love every minute of it all the time, of course - but being able to say that I've shaved 11 minutes off my starting 5K time seems like quite an accomplishment. Plus, I now have a nice new workout uniform of gym gear - largely acquired from the likes of Fashercise and LuluLemon.

The other huge task that comes with running a marathon is the fundraising. And oh did I underestimate how tough raising £1200 could be. But I'm currently on £800 and I'm feeling pretty good about the remaining amount I have left to raise, I still have a few tricks up my sleeve. Above is a photo of me and some uni friends at our Easter themed bake sale earlier this year. I've learnt so far that sometimes the most unsuspecting members of the public can be the most generous and that I'm so lucky to be surrounded by friends and family who are willing to donate to this amazing cause.
Which brings me nicely to be my final point. Because even though completing this marathon will cross one thing off the ol' Bucket List, it was the amazing charity I'd be doing it for which made me want to commit. The Children's Society works to represent underprivileged children living in the UK, specifically those aged between 11-18 who are often overlooked and dismissed by society. In recent years they have worked hard to expose the sexual exploitation of vulnerable people which is allowed to go undetected for years as it is seen as a taboo subject by the media at large.  You can find out more about the amazing work this charity does on their website but I wanted to touch on it a little here just to highlight what a fantastic charity it really is.
I know that I still have a long way to go. Right now, I feel like I can safely run a half marathon. But that 26.2 miles feels like an age away despite the three month mark looming in front of me. The silver lining is that I know that I'll find the strength to complete it in the comfort of the amazing charity I'm raising money for.
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Tuesday, 7 June 2016

BEAUTY || Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick Offerings.

Charlotte Tilbury is a make-up goddess. Fact. No questions asked. And as a lover of all things beauty and a frequent purchaser of lipstick, I find it near impossible to resist her beautiful selection of products. Back in February, I ventured to her flagship store in Covent Garden and things got spendy in the lipstick isle. Surprise, surprise!
You don't have to tell me that these are two very similar shades - trust me, I know. At face value, these are merely two nude lipsticks. Yet to the Charlotte Tilbury lipstick fanatic, they are two very different products. 
'Bitch Perfect'
First up is blogger-cult-classic, 'Bitch Perfect'. In the online beauty community, it seems like everyone and their mother owns this versatile shade. In fact, if it hadn't been so highly recommended by my most trusted YouTubers, I don't think this colour would have even caught my eye. A honey nude with pink undertones, I'd say this is a universally pretty shade that would suit a variety of skin tones whilst also making the lips look fuller which is supposedly down the 'light infusing pigments' and blend of waxes in the formula. To be honest, I'm not sure how much I buy into these claims - they always sound too good to be true. But seeing as each lipstick retails at £23, you really can tell that you're investing in a luxury product from the subtle vanilla scent to its long-lasting formula. As part of the 'K.I.S.S.I.N.G' range, 'Bitch Perfect'  applies smoothy without dragging on the lips and has an almost cream-sheen finish. Give it a couple of hours and the colour is still there but the lipstick has turned matte which doesn't bother me in the slightest because you still get the overall effect without the constant need to touch up.
'Between the Sheets'
Then there has to be 'Between the Sheets'. Unfortunately, this was a limited edition colour released for Valentine's Day - like I said, this trip to the CT store happened way back in February. But I still thought it was worth a mention nonetheless! This is one of Tilbury's 'Matte Revolution' lipsticks and I just can't get enough of them. They apply like an absolute dream. Like the 'K.I.S.S.I.N.G' range, they go on so smoothly and don't drag - something that matte MAC lipsticks are very guilty of. The best thing about them, however, is that they are so hydrating and you don't end up with dry, chapped lips. The square head also makes the lipstick easier to apply more accurately but I personally wouldn't say that makes a huge difference. As much as I love this lipstick and its pretty everyday colour, it does take quite a lot of effort to build up layers and see how lovely this shade actually is. One or two just isn't enough and any more than that and you end up over-applying and getting lipstick all over the place. Its a shame its not more pigmented but for everyday errands it's still my first choice. 
Left - 'Bitch Perfect', Right - 'Between the Sheets'
In the past year of blogging alone, my taste in lipstick has changed dramatically. Last Summer I was all about those orange and purple shades and I've now settled on more neutral, pretty colours. Who knows, maybe I'm becoming less adventurous in my old age? Either way, Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks are definitely an indulgence but oh-so-worth it for their range of colours and lovely, creamy formulas. I'd say they top my list of beauty indulgences that I couldn't bear to part with. My heart will break the day that I use up of all the limited edition 'Between the Sheets' shade, read that as testament to just how fab these lovely lipsticks are! 

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Sunday, 5 June 2016

BEAUTY || The Blonde Hair Saga.

Word of warning, this is going to be one hell of a long waffly post so pull up a seat and grab a cup of tea. You may be here a while... It all began in November of last year when I thought it would be a good idea to have my hair highlighted within an inch of its life. Not only this, but I decided that I wanted to have this done at a salon that was offering 50% off hair colour (should been my first warning sign) that I've never been to before. Queue disaster.
Seven months and three trips to the salon later, I finally have the hair colour I initially wanted. My natural colour is a warm, dirty blonde whereas I was after something a little cooler in tone that would warm up my pale complexion. When I first had my hair coloured that fateful day in November, I came out looking a little something like this...

Now, the photo on the left doesn't look all that bad or different to what my locks are sporting now. Sure the tones were brassier, nothing that some purple shampoo couldn't have fixed, but I wouldn't exactly call it a hair disaster. That is, until I realised that the back of my head and my roots had been left virtually untouched. Looking at the shabby dye job in the right photo still brings back painful memories! What effectively went so wrong is that the stylist had highlighted my hair without foils which was why the blonde was so patchy. On top of that, he also didn't use any toner so the blonde I was left with was brassy and yellow - a look that completely washed me out and resulted in my hiding in my house for 48 hours until I could get it fixed. I know, I know #firstworldproblems but I live in a very student-y area and its rare for me to venture outside my house without bumping into someone I know. If any of you out there have had a bad dye job then I'm sure you'll sympathise, let's just say I worked from home those two days until I found a salon willing to help me out on short notice. I was pretty desperate at this point and avoiding seeing the guy who would then become my boyfriend at all costs. Cringe.

Having had two days to dwell on how much I hated my hair, I rocked up to that salon on a rainy Friday morning with the mentality that I wanted the stylist to get rid of everything that had been done wrong to my hair. I therefore walked out a brunette... she'd had no choice but to dye over the gross blonde and said it would fade back to blonde over the course of the next few weeks. Although this was semi-true, the weird mix of colours meant I was left with a reddish-blonde hue that did nothing for me at all. At the time I was so happy that my hair had been stripped of its yellow-ness but this was very much a temporary fix. Six weeks later and I made an appointment at my local Toni & Guy salon that I've been going to for years effectively begging them to fix it.

I really appreciated the stylists telling it to me straight. This was not something that could be fixed overnight. So in January of this year I had my first session where I showed my trusted hairdresser the 'goal' colour that we were working towards and she tried her best to thoroughly go through my long locks and work her damage control. Because I have such a huge amount of thick hair, this wasn't the easiest task but she successfully managed to erase plenty of the redness (thank god for toner!) and I immediately felt better. A bit more like myself. I went back in March, specifically a week before my 21st birthday, to follow up and finally came out with a colour that I loved through and through. I love how natural it looks because its not too blonde and just makes me feel a bit older and more sophisticated.
Through all the ups and downs my hair has been through the past six months or so, I've been working extra hard in keeping it hydrated and conditioned. I have quite fine hair that gets greasy quickly and can also be on the frizzy side. Basically, my hair just rules my life! Having said all this, you can understand why its so hard to find haircare products that cater for all these quirks. But the OGX range has totally blown me away and I've remained faithful to them throughout my hair drama! The products are so hydrating and lightweight that they clean my hair without leaving it with that artificial squeaky, dried out texture. Right now, I'm loving the Sea Mineral Moisture range because the scent takes me back to my New York holiday last year.
Because of all the time I spent in and out of salons, and because highlighting your hair is possibly the worst thing you can do for it, I also invested in a couple of OGX leave-in conditioners. The Nourishing Coconut Hydrating Oil Mist is perfect for days when my hair is feeling a little dry and frizzy. I also helps to tame any flyaway hairs which is ideal when my hair just doesn't want to behave, i.e. pretty much every day give or take. For days when things are feeling really dry or when I would usually indulge in a hair mask, I apply the Hydrating Macadamia Oil Penetrating Oil (not the catchiest of names granted). This stuff smells amazing and leaves my ends feeling so soft and luscious - seriously, I can't recommend this enough. And this isn't a paid-for advertorial piece, I just adore OGX products that much. 
Last but certainly not least, to wind up this epic haircare post, I thought I'd end with what brushes I've been using. It's not secret on LydiaLulu that I'm a Tangle Teezer kind of girl. In fact, I own three - one for my handbag, one for the shower, and one for more everyday 'my hair is a mess' emergencies. But when I purchased the Anna & Lily Cult Beauty Box last month - as if I would be able to resist - I finally had an excuse to test the much coveted Wet Brush. And boy, did this blow me away. As a result of all the hell my hair has been through the past few months, although its looking lovely and really healthy, it has a tendency to knot so easily in the shower. The kind of knots my Tangle Teezer can't even handle - shocking, right? Queue the heaven that is the Wet Brush, the soft bristles and sturdy handle mean that I can successfully comb my crazy hair in a matter of seconds. Let me repeat that, mere seconds. I know it's not the most exciting product on here but it was absolutely worth a mention, if you have thick, untamed hair like me then you need this in your life. 
So there it is, my quest for blonde hair turned epic saga. I hope this post wasn't too boring but as a beauty blogger I felt like it needed a mention because its a huge part of my everyday beauty routine. Plus, who doesn't love ready about dodgy dye jobs? Just cause I write about make-up on the internet does not mean I'm exempt from making bad beauty decisions... far from it. But we're back on track and I'm feeling pretty damn pleased with my blonde locks.
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Friday, 3 June 2016

BEAUTY || Another NARS Base.

Finding the perfect make-up base is like finding your perfect pair of jeans, once you've found them its hard to go back. Well, when it comes to foundation NARS is my Madewell. I'm not convinced that made much sense. Basically, if you're need of a good foundation (or lipstick for that matter) then NARS is your brand.

Like all beauty lovers, I tried Sheer Glow back in the day but never really understood the hype - it was just too heavy for my oily, adolescent skin. So when NARS released the 'All Day Weightless Luminous Foundation' early last year, my ears really pricked up. You can take a trip down memory lane and read my full thoughts here as this beautiful product functioned as my entry level foundation, the one that really got me hooked on bases. Since then, I've also purchased their equally hyped up tinted moisturiser which is perfect for Summer months but not so great for the Winter when my skin is looking dry and pale. 
Realistically, it was only a matter of time before I bought their newest foundation release - the 'Velvet Matte Skin Tint'. I don't typically go for matte finishes, my combination skin usually means that it works well enough for my oily T-Zone but product tends to cling to the drier areas on my cheeks and round my forehead. Nice.
So I resisted the initial hype and waited for the real honest reviews to start pouring in from around the beauty blogosphere. However, it was a mixed bag - this seems to be a real love/hate product. It was actually my sister's seal of approval that convinced me to go ahead and splurge. I knew if she loved it then I would too. 
And she was right, this is such a nifty base to have in my collection. It has such a radiant finish and covers imperfections without making you feel caked in make-up. I combine it with lashings of the Rimmel 'Match Perfection' Concealer under my eyes to illuminate things a little - but I personally think I could get away without concealer and your skin would still look fresh and luminous from the foundation alone. That's the thing, although this product has been marketed as an oil-free alternative to their first tinted moisturiser, I would absolutely call it a foundation with the lightness of a moisturiser. The thing I love the most about this product is that it evens out my complexion, stops it from looking dull, and combats any redness. It's also so easy to wear as an everyday foundation which is hassle-free and doesn't look 'too much'. I'm student after all and don't like to rock a full-on make-up look for days spent in between lectures, the library, and the gym. I'm wearing it here with concealer, a sweep of blush, and plenty of mascara as always.
I find it applies best when combined with a hydrating base (such as the Too Faced 'Hangover Primer') and a damp Beauty Blender to really buff it into the skin and stop it from clinging to those oh-so-dreaded dry patches. Skin tone wise, I'm at my absolute palest and currently match the shade 'Finland' which is the second lightest in the collection in comparison to 'Groenland' which I wear in the tinted moisturiser form .One of the other bonuses of this product is that it has SPF 30 so I never need to worry about sun burn when I'm wearing it! The only downside to that one is that it really does smell of sun cream when you're applying it but that's not something that personally bothers me. 
So there you have it, yet another NARS success story. Nothing to shocking about that though, I'm a self-confessed #NARSissist and this beauty of a foundation has done nothing to change that.

P.S. The first ever UK NARS boutique has opened in Covent Garden - go have a swatch of this foundation if you're in the area!

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