January Wishlist

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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.

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.

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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.

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Our Engagement Story

I met Andy back in 2012. We moved into student accommodation, in the same flat, in rooms 3 and 4. We were both completely different back then, I moved in with highlighter pink hair wearing Nirvana tops, disco pants and creepers. Andy had a side fringe and 'lego' hair, wearing only red polos, straight leg jeans and Stan Smiths. On the second day of living with each other, he opened up a little bit more and over the first month we had some funny memories going out. I started trying to cook better meals and he wanted to get on board, so we had dinner together a few nights a week, as friends. He would work in the evenings at Tesco and if he was too tired after a shift and I couldn't be bothered going on a night out, we would stay in and watch The Big Bang Theory. It wasn't until two months in that I referred to him as my best friend, but it was so lovely to have a genuine friendship. Apparently during the Christmas break that semester, he spoke about me a lot to his family, and this was because he admitted later on that he had other feelings for quite a while. It wasn't until I was in the second semester that I realised that there were more feelings involved.

In April of 2013, he took me to the Quayside and asked me if I would be his girlfriend. I didn't think it was 'the thing' to be formally asked when you're in an adult relationship but the gesture was really nice and it meant a lot to me. We were already basically in a relationship, and just a week before he had told his family about me. Once the uni year was over, we both left Newcastle for the summer in our hometowns and met each other's families for the first time. It was quite strange, and his family definitely did not understand me for the first few times I met them due to my scouse accent. I didn't even know Chesterfield existed, so exploring where Andy grew up was cute. We had a rough second year and university with housemates who weren't exactly forthcoming, and after only a month we decided that our final year would be spent in a flat, just us two. We moved in during September of 2014, went on our first real holiday to Paris and celebrated our 21st birthdays together. 

After we graduated we moved back in with my Dad in Liverpool. I got a temporary job for Christmas and Andy moved stores due to his flexible work. We won a trip to Los Angeles which we decided to put all of our savings into and had the most amazing time. By the September, Andy had landed himself a graduate job and shortly after we started saving for our first house. In the past year we've saved just over half of the money needed for a deposit but we also secretly decided to save for something else, the ring. We had no idea what to go for, but we agreed to pay for it together as Andy wanted me to have something that was 'me', and I didn't like the idea of just him paying for it, since I'll be wearing it for the rest of my life.

Nobody knew of course because I was sworn to secrecy. A few people thought we would have been engaged after the trip to LA and when that didn't happen I assume they guessed we weren't ready. By the summer of 2017 we had bought the ring and it had been sitting there for months. In October we headed off to Wales for a joint birthday trip away, but since I had returned from Poland I had contracted a virus that was flaring up my asthma and I was so ill on the trip I asked if we could go home after the first night. We were too far away to come back, so we spent the second night in this cute pod/hut and Andy seemed more at ease. I smiled at him and said to him that I knew he was planning to propose, and he seemed surprised that I had seen through his plan. He has surprised me only two times in our entire relationship as I can read him like a book, so we had a giggle about me guessing. Once we were home I suggested that we should go back up to Newcastle as we hadn't been back since we left in 2015, basically giving him another opportunity. Now I can read him like a book, but he isn't the same with me, and didn't clock on that I had given myself time to get better so that he could still propose this year.

In December we made our way up to Newcastle and boy was it freezing. I know Liverpool isn't the warmest place but I had completely forgotten what the winds were like up there. On the first day there we met with our friend Katie who we hadn't seen in two and a half years and it was lovely to catch up. The next day we spent the morning revisiting the places where we hold the most memories, like all three of the places we used to live, the uni buildings, the park where we used to walk and the nightclubs we frequented. We had lunch and it was funny because Andy had the ring in his coat pocket, which I could see, and he was only the tiniest bit nervous. Once it was dark we went for a hot chocolate overlooking the river and reminisced about so many memories we had in this amazing city. 

See the spot in the photos above where there is a post with a gate across? That's where he asked me to be his girlfriend, at about 4pm in April 2013. It's also the place at about 4pm in December 2017, where he asked me to marry him. There was a little band playing in the background out of pure coincidence, and he put his arm around me to keep me warm and popped the question. It was different to what I expected but so personal to the both of us that made it so special. It felt full circle and now Newcastle holds an extra memory in our hearts. So here we are, engaged and planning a wedding. It was a week before Christmas, and we had a lot of 'in law' cards from family and friends already which made me chuckle. We're so happy and really looking forward to writing about the next chapter in our lives.

January Wishlist 2018

With a new year in place, fashion and beauty retailers have started bringing out their pieces for the upcoming season. I didn't really spend much on myself at Christmas so I'm thinking of treating myself to an item or two in the next few weeks.

Floral Tops
I'm enjoying the winter floral prints, especially on tops that can be paired with jeans. The spotted jacquard comes in black with a mix of colourful floral patterns to give a nice contrast. I'm liking long sleeved tops at the minute so was glad to find one in this style.

Graphic Tees
This crew neck top has an interesting print that's a little different to what I've seen before. The print isn't too over the top and I've started to get a few more t-shirts recently as you can really dress them up or wear them as a statement piece.

Check Skirts
Thanks to tights, skirts are an item that can still be worn during winter time. I love having other options instead of always having to go out in jeans. This mini skirt has an all over Prince of Wales check and a zip down the back. It's a slim fit so with a soft brushed finished that looks nice and smart but can also be dressed down.

Navy Blouses
I'm probably always going to be swayed by anything in navy as it's my favourite colour. This striped blouse has a collared neck and button fastening up the front. The long sleeves and twisted hem mean it should go really well with both skirts and jeans. I feel like this could work as a casual day piece or equally well as an evening option.

Frilly Bodies
I never really wore bright colours a few years ago but have started to add a few items to my collection. This bodysuit comes in a vibrant red hue with ruffle details on the front. Long sleeves, a wrap over style and a v neckline make this a flirty evening top.

Sili Blenders
Beauty blenders have become popular with many people as it makes doing your makeup easier. Personally, I use them all the time. The Silisponge came out last year and looked a bit like a chicken fillet, this alternative is so much more pleasing to the eye. A bonus with this blender is that it doesn't absorb any makeup so you get less wastage.

Striped Dresses
Thie item is something a little bolder with its vertical blue and ivory stripes. It would suit any figure due to its style so can be a versatile piece for many people. I'd wear this dress to an evening event or occasion, such as a dinner date.

Chunky Glitter
Anything glittery will always grab my attention as you can never have too much sparkle. I'd definitely like to pick up all the different types and colours to give multiple options. The glitter is biodegradable, cruelty-free and vegan-friendly.

Black Boots
Chelsea boots have always been a favourite of mine. They can be styled with almost anything, keep your feet warm and you can rely on them to last for years. These boots by Steve Madden have a leather track sole, slip-on design and elasticated inserts. I'd be confident that the quality of these would be worth the price.

Patterned Jumpers
An 80's inspired jumper comes in a boxy and relaxed fit with a crew neck. The pattern is finished with a floral print to give it the retro look. I like the different look this jumper has and it's nice to see another option compared to a lot of the standard ones that are around at the minute.

Copper Hearts
This top combines stripes and rose gold detailing which could be the perfect top for me. It's a classic design with navy and white stripes and foil hearts scattered across the front. Combine this with the round neckline and long sleeves and it makes an all-round fabulous top.

Flirty Bodysuits
I feel like this is a piece that could be styled in a couple of different ways, either to be worn under sheer clothing or as a top tucked into a pair of jeans or a skirt. It has a v-neck, embellished design and a scalloped trim. I don't usually wear pieces like this but 2018 could be the year I branch out more.

Matching Pyjamas
I do love a set of nice PJs and these would be perfect. They have an all-over floral print, round neck and have separate trouser bottoms. The sleeveless top comes in a cropped length to give a different option when picking out pyjamas for the night. I saw them whilst browsing and I just need to buy them!

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