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Getting Organised

One of my goals for the year was to be more organised, both in life in general and for my career. When you're self-employed you rely heavily on being organised and laying out a schedule, and often planning ahead. If you get sick, it's best having backup work already done so that you don't miss out. Sometimes this can't be prevented and you end up behind with your tasks and it's a bit of a nightmare. To help combat this, for Christmas I was bought the Ban.Do 2018 Agenda to use for both life admin and my self-employed work.

The agenda includes a year overview, day by day view, weekly view and a huge notes section in the back. So far I'm yet to use the two pages of stickers at the front but maybe one day soon I will. It's strange to me combining things like admin, birthdays, events and deadlines all in one place, but only 17 days into 2018 and it's already helping out in such a big way. I mean it's pretty big and it's not something I'll be carrying around with me, but here comes the second addition to my organisational tools for the new year. I got a new phone! I've had my iPhone 6s since March 2016 and I was definitely in need of an upgrade.

Having a larger screen means that typing is easier, and I'm using the notes section when I'm out and then writing out my notes on my pad when I'm home. Another thing I needed to really get organised with was Instagram. Having an iPhone 8 Plus means that the camera is far superior, with modes like Portrait mode giving you an aperture of  1.8 giving you the perfect blurry background when desired. It detects colour really well and I've actually been able to start using it for blog photos which is so new to me since I've always used my Olympus Pen. I'm so happy with it and I'm hoping by Jan 1st 2019, there will have been 365 posts, for the first time ever in one year.

How Blogging Has Changed

It's coming up to my 4 year blog anniversary which seems absolutely mad. I feel that things have changed so much over the time I've been blogging and I've learnt a lot about how to do things and the way things have moved on in the blogging world. When I created my blog as a hobby I never thought that it could turn into what it is now and be going full time with it. I've been thinking back about some of the main things that have changed over the four years I've been blogging.

When I first began taking photos to use in posts I was borrowing a camera and attempting to get the bests shots possible while attempting to learn how to use it. I didn't really plan them out or spend time getting the setup correct, it was more a case of laying the products out and snapping away. I'd take quite a few photos of the products and then just choose my favourites. I did start to edit my photos but to be honest this mostly just meant brightening them a little bit. After nearly two years, I saved up money from my job and bought myself an Olympus Pen. This was a game changer and meant the quality of my photos noticeably improved. For my photos now, I spent a lot more time thinking about what I want them to look like, which props and backdrops to use and making sure I get the best lighting possible.

Working with brands
Getting sent products for review is a great opportunity to try out new products but also to give honest reviews to people who may be thinking about buying them. It first started out with one item whereas now I can find myself getting a new collection to test out. I've also expanded the type of companies I've worked with to include restaurants as well as home and lifestyle-related products. This has meant I've been able to try out places that I may never have thought about before. When I started doing my first paid collaborations they were sponsored posts where I would help companies advertise their products or services. More recently, this has expanded to include sponsored content on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. One thing that hasn't changed is that you still see some companies trying to pay you £10 for a bunch of follow links, and with this, my stance on what's right and wrong hasn't changed and I still refuse them.

Writing and blog style
I remember saying hello to my readers in each post as if it was a video but started to realise this wasn't the style I wanted to go for. There's no correct way of doing it but you need to find what works for you and how you want your posts to come across. I've noticed the style change across other bloggers as I think that there has been a shift towards more of an editorial style as opposed to a diary format. On the visual side of my blog, I began with one of the basic themes that blogger provide. Since then I've switched between a few different ones and now found one that I love and feel that it suits me, my content and what I'm trying to deliver.

Social media and blog community
On Twitter, there used to be a blogger chats pretty much every day the host would ask a series of questions around a particular topic. In more recent times, it has sometimes been used as a way of causing drama between bloggers, whether this is related to buying followers or even just disagreements on a topic. I feel Twitter is the best platform to interact with people and grow your following. Instagram didn't always follow a certain theme that people tried to fit into and there wasn't a worry about the follower to following ratio. The new algorithm introduced has made the feeds not be in chronological order, reduced your visibility and we've become victim to the follow/unfollow game. On the positive side, Insta now has the ability to create stories, slideshows and is a platform used to shout out to other bloggers to recognise their work.

Magnitone London Pedicure Kit Review

Like many other people, I have a skincare routine to keep my face cleansed and have different products to do this. Looking after your face seems to be a normal thing to do but there are other parts of the body that you wouldn't neccessarily think about. Taking care of your feet is more important that you might realise. We use them everyday and can take quite a lot of abuse, from getting squeezed into high heels to sliding into a pair of unsupportive flip flops. 

Magnitone have created a Well Heeled Express Pedicure System to help take care of your feet. Priced at £24.99, I feel that its an affordable and value for money product from a well-known brand. It's designed to sucessfully and gently buff away the rough and hard skin on your feet to keep them nice and smooth. It has two different dome-shaped micro-crystal rollers that give you the choice between a rough and slightly smoother one. The first thing I noticed was how light and compact it is, which makes it much easier to use and means it could be taken away as a travel item. 

It's powered by two AA batteries (included) so you can start using it straight out the box. The rollers spin at an impressive 2000 times per minute to remove dry skin quickly without damaging your feet. I found it easy to clean when you had finished using it as the roller head simply popped off with the push of a button and clicked back in place with the same ease. When using the product, you only need to lightly press into the area you are concentrating on to achieve the desired affect. The shape of the pedicure system allows you to hold it in a natural position which is great as you don't end up with sore wrists after use. I feel that this product is perfect for anyone who would like to take care of their feet and always have them smooth with little effort.

Post contains press samples

3ina Makeup

3INA is a fairly new entry to the beauty scene and is trying to shake up the 'one size fits all' approach to the cosmetics industry. Their products have a functional design with long-wearing formulas while still being an affordable option for many people. The products I've tested are paraben and cruelty free and come from their bestsellers list that are designed to be 'tools for self expression and colour confidence'.

The first item I tried out was The Longwear Liquid Lipstick which comes in 20 shades and is priced at £7.95. It's designed for those who would like to have the colour payoff from a longwear lipstick while still being able to enjoy the application method of a lip gloss. I've got this in the shade colour 500 which dries as a matte cherry red. To apply, you need a generous amount of the product to put one coat over the top of a base of lip liner on clean dry lips. If you start at the Cupid's bow and work your way outwards, you'll get the best application. The gloss will then turn into an opaque matte lipstick that will stay on your lips for hours. When you want to remove the product use their 'The Eyes & Lips Make-Up Remover'. 

If you fancy something to use on your eyes, the 3INA The Cream Eyeshadow (£7.95) is waterproof and available in 18 different colours. It gives you a strong, shimmery magnetic colour that will last all day. I've got this in the number 301 which is a dual-toned coppery bronze metallic shade. To apply, you can use concealer brush to blend outwards towards the outer edge of your eye. To get a sophisticated finish, you can blend a number of shades together. For me it's not an everyday product as I've got oily eyelids, but when I set my eyes with primer it works quite well.

If you want a product that is a 'flashbulb for your skin', this 3INA The Highlighter (£10.95) can illuminate your face. For applying you can use a fan brush or makeup sponge to lightly add the powder to your temple and cheekbones. You can also dust over your eyelids or Cupid's bow using your fingers to light up these areas. Don't think that this product has to be limited to your face as it can add glow and radiance when wearing a strapless top by adding it to your shoulders and collarbones.

Post contains press samples & affiliate links.

La Roche Posay Effaclar Skincare

I've been trying to look after my skin for a few years now and understanding it has been harder than I thought it would have been. I've got combination skin and sometimes the skincare I've used hasn't worked well with my makeup, so naturally, I only ended up favouring the makeup. Finding products that balance out dry patches and oily skin seems to be a mission in itself. La Roche Posay created the Effaclar skincare range that is designed for blemish and acne-prone skin that's naturally oily.

The Effaclar Duo (+) is a spot treatment that corrects and hydrates the skin for clearer skin in just four weeks. It's a dual-action daily gel moisturiser that reduces the appearance of blackheads and spots, controls shine and helps protect the skin from brown and red coloured marks that are often left behind after you've had a spot. It's gentle and is suitable for sensitive skin, and I've found that wearing it for a short while before applying makeup doesn't encourage excess oil by the end of the day which is revolutionary. It contains Niacinamide to reduce the appearance of spots, Lipo Hydroxy acid and Salicylic acid to unclog blocked pore, Zinc to control sebum, Procerad to help reduce the appearance of coloured marks, and finally, Glycerin to keep the skin nourished. I've been using for a while, and after a horrible outbreak of acne in October/November, my skin has improved a lot. Of course I'm still getting spots, but they're nowhere near as bad as they were. I was recommended this product years ago but didn't pick it up, and now I'll be replacing this when I've run out.

The Effaclar Purifying Clay Mask is a dermatological clay mask clinically proven to unclog pores, control shine and cleanse impurities that are caused by pollution. I love clay masks, especially when I feel like they actually do something to your skin. The Effaclar Purifying Clay Mask gently absorbs excess sebum to control shine making the skin feel fresh and reduces the appearance of blackheads overall. The ingredients include Argilla to absorb sebum without over-drying the skin, kaolin to target and remove sebum from deep inside the skin (which mattifies over time), Panthenol B to soothe the skin and Cellubeads to remove impurities for an in-depth cleansing action. La Roche Posay claims that it has a 'magnet-like ability' to absorb the smallest impurities. I've been using this once a week so far along with the Effaclar Duo (+) and my skin is a lot softer and clearer. I still have issues with my pores and occasional excess oil but this can be down to other factors.

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Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink Review & Swatches

Wearing lipstick is something that gives me confidence, but I'm always worried that it will rub off on my chin or get on my teeth. I love liquid lipsticks as they help prevent this, especially matte finishes. The new Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink Lipsticks (£9.99) come in a range of colours in a matte finish for '12 hour wear' with their high-intensity formula.

There's a precise arrow applicator which is larger than I'm used to, but applying your liquid lipstick is much quicker when using this. The pointed tip helps define the bow of the lips too. Maybelline describes the formula as "an intense ink colour concentration" that provides a flawless matte finish. The formula for me is not ultra matte and takes longer than usual to try. It does bleed a little so definitely wear a lip liner with this too. The photo below shows them whilst they're drying and you can see, the thicker you apply it the longer it takes to dry properly. They're really comfortable to wear and they're certainly long lasting, with barely any transfer.

The colours I have, from lightest to darkest, are Heroine (an orange-red), Romantic (a hot pink), Creator (the perfect lilac) and Escapist (a vampy brown-red). From packaging to swatching, there is one colour that doesn't match up, and that is Escapist. On the packaging, it looks like a red wine-purple but when swatched and worn, it's quite a dark brown. Aside from this, the rest of the colours are pretty spot on which is pleasing. At the moment, there is an offer on for buy one, get one half price so it's worth checking out here.

Post contains press samples & affiliate links 

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