Thursday, 30 March 2017

Favourites Playlist - March

We're here again at the end of another month and I can't help but feel like 2017 is flying by already. The clocks have already changed and I'm planning what easter eggs to buy, it needs to slow the hell down. I didn't manage to write a playlist last month because I really didn't listen to anything new. We sped through February at 100 mph and there was so much going on that it barely felt like I had a minute to breathe, never mind listen to music. March has been different however, so lets get stuck in.

Can we talk about the biggest thing that happened this month? The Steps reunion! Holy hell, I'm so excited and I've already bought my tickets to their Liverpool tour date in September. I couldn't resist. Linkin Park announced a new album that will drop sometime in May and I've been loving their new release. Mallory Knox's album finally came out and it's an absolute masterpiece. They've come so far since Signals and they're definitely one of my favourite bands at the moment. I've also been listening to Twin Atlantic and I'm hoping to get up to TRNSMT Festival to see them in the summer. Also, away from the norm, Robbie Williams' new track is bloody great, well done him. 

As predicted, music in 2017 is bloody fantastic and I can't wait to see what is released later in the year!


TRACKS

Reverend - Kings Of Leon

Fever - Deaf Havana
Heavy - Linkin Park
In The Dark - 3 Doors Down
Scared Of The Dark - Steps
California - Mallory Knox
Mixed Signals - Robbie Williams
Heart and Soul - Twin Atlantic
Ashes, Ashes - Deaf Havana

What music have you been listening to this month? Let me know in the comments!
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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

How To Choose A Cleanser That Is Right For You

Skincare is an absolute minefield, there's no doubt about it and after trying and testing for what seems like a lifetime, I'd like to think that I have my skin regime down to a T. Now, you may have an entire beauty routine or you may just like to sweep a make-up wipe over your face. It's all down to personal preference. Whatever you like to do, we all have one thing in common, the need to wash our faces.

I will hold my hands up and say that in the past, I've been that person who's 'forgotten to wash my face'. Like, how do you forget to do that? But it does happen. It's also the case that sometimes there is just too much choice. Other times, it's down to sheer laziness. Whatever your excuse may be, today I'm going to talk you through five different types of cleansers from brands that I love and how they work for me so you can choose one that's right for you. I should also mention that I'm a combination gal.

1. Foam Wash

I've had a really good experience with foaming cleanser in the past. They often contain no exfoliating qualities so aren't abrasive on your skin and aren't going to aggravate any sensitive patches. For you guys with dry skin, be mindful that they may dry your skin further. This particular wash is one of the new Pure Clay masks from L'Oreal. It contains charcoal so really works to unclog your pores as it's foaming up and helps to remove any trapped dirt. It also does a pretty good job of removing make-up. Bonus.

2. Exfoliating

I think with exfoliating face washes, you either love them or hate them. They can be great for removing dead skin and making your face feel squeaky clean and smooth but they also tend to remove the skins natural oils. Ever noticed your skin is oilier a day after using them? That's why. Your skin will be going into oil-overdrive. That is not a medical term. Seriously though, if you have dry skin, don't stand over the sink scrubbing your face like there's no tomorrow. It. Will. Make. It. Worse. My advice for exfoliating cleansers is to use them maybe once a week, twice if you feel necessary. It will give your skin chance to repair between washes so it's not like having a chemical peel each time. If I'm reaching for an exfoliating cleanser, St Ives gets my vote every time.

3. Gel 

For me personally, this is he kind of cleanser you would use after a no make-up day or after you've had a work out because it's so light. You can remove make up with these if you wish but I'd make sure you repeat twice just to make sure it's all gone. That being said, they are super gentle, don't dry your skin out and quite inexpensive to pick up. I've been testing out this new Garnier Micellar Wash for the past few weeks and it's a good option to go for. 

4. Foaming and Exfoliating

I would definitely have to say this is my most reached for face wash. This is the Visible Skin Balancing Cleanser from Elizabeth Arden and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It's a light exfoliating cleanser and has a more grainy texture but does remove any unwanted dry flakes without being too harsh. If I need a little more abrasion, sometimes I'll use this with a damp flannel. It depends what my skin is feeling. I feel like with a light exfoliating cleanser you get rid of the dirt as required but you're not then stripped of all those natural oils that need preserving. It's the best of both worlds and definitely the one that works best for me.

5. Oil

Last but not least, the newest addition to my bathroom cabinet. The oil cleanser. These work absolute wonders for melting the make up right off your face with minimal effort. They replenish every single ounce of moisture and combat dry skin along the way. If you have oily skin, you may want to use a toner afterwards just to take away the excess. In my experience, oil cleansers definitely give you the 'deepest clean' and actually feel quite luxurious. The one I've been using is the L'Oreal Extraordinary Oil Cleansing Oil. It works like a dream and like our gal pal, Elizabeth Arden, does exactly what it says on the tin. 


I hope you've enjoyed my round up of different types of cleansers. I'd love to know what products you like to use!


Choosing the best cleanser for your skin

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Thursday, 23 March 2017

How To Stay Organised As A Blogger

How To Stay Organised As A Blogger
Ah organisation. Love it or loathe it, we all have to get our things in order every once in a while. Whether it's your handbag or university work pretty much the same over-advised principles apply. Keep everything neat. Don't create clutter. Clear out regularly. The list could go on. Today however, I'm here to talk to you about staying organised as a blogger which is a little different.

Honestly, before I started blogging, not only did I think 'How hard could it be?' but I also thought 'Surely you just open your laptop and go?' Oh I was wrong. I think out there, in the world beyond the Blogosphere, people still think blogging is a very minimal effort, no strings attached just take pretty Instagram photos kind of hobby. If that's you reading this, you're wrong too. 

So, almost getting to the point, hopefully you've clicked on this post for one or two reasons. You're either a blogger who wants some handy hints and tips for staying organised or you're a blog reader who wants to know how we all do it. Whichever category you fall into, I'm happy you're here and lets get to the points. 

1. Keep a notebook. Now, I know what you're thinking, this is the most given tip in blogging community. Yes it is and for good reason. Whether you're using a paper notebook or the notes app on your phone, it's handy to be able to job down topics, phrases or photo ideas so you've got them to refer back to. If you're extra anal about organising like me, you can even add coloured tabs to differentiate between your categories and topics and remove them when the post is published. 

2. A digital folder system. I currently use Google Drive but use whatever works for you. I create folders for all my posts and inside those folders I'll keep any photos, graphics or notes I've made on that post. When I publish them I moved them to the 'Published' folder so I know not to worry about them. As I use Google Drive to back up my phone photos, I also tend to keep a folder for published photos and stock photos so I know which I can use and where. 

3. Schedule your social media. I know some bloggers don't like scheduling their content because it feels impersonal. Whilst I totally get that, I think if you pay attention and schedule well, it can be really effective. For example with Twitter, by paying attention I mean not scheduling the same link to your post 10 times over if you know you won't be tweeting in between. If I know I'll be busy on a particular day, I might only schedule a couple of tweets or none at all just so my followers aren't bombarded. I like to use Buffer for my tweet scheduling.

4. Utilise your phone. I know that pretty much everyone has a phone these days but I think besides Snapchat and Instagram they can be a little under utilised - I don't even remember the last time I made an outgoing call. Back to the point, utilise the calendar, reminder and notes section for your blog planning. You can plan your posts in your calendar and set reminders a few days before so you can make sure they're ready. You could also use the notes section for quickly typing posts or for drawing out what you want your images to look like - I've recently started doing this and it helps a lot.

5. This tip is a little too advanced for me at this point but I did try it for a little while. It's creating an editorial calendar. You can find so many examples on Pinterest and they can contain anything from shooting schedules and planned posts to the social media content to accompany your posts. They're so impressive and inspiring to look at and I envy bloggers who can keep up them. Mine lasted two weeks. 

6. Enjoy yourself. Whilst organisation is great and can help us with head clutter and stress, it's also so important to enjoy what you are doing and not feel like you have to stick to schedules or deadlines just because other bloggers are. Daily bloggers are absolute inspirations but if you want to post once a week or even once a month, that's okay too. 


I'd love to know if you have any organisation tips for fellow bloggers because when I was starting out, these were my most searched for posts!


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Thursday, 16 March 2017

What To Pack For A Weekend In Scotland

What To Pack For A Weekend In Scotland
After reading the title of this post, I know what you're probably thinking (or certainly what I'd be thinking). "What on earth is she doing going to Scotland in March?" Good question indeed. Truth is, when I need to get away for a little break, whether it's to think, surround myself with loved ones or just have a change of scenery, Scotland is my place to go. Over the years I've braved it in all weathers. The torrential rain in autumn, blistery cold days of winter and even the hottest afternoons in July, I've seen it and I love it. So today, I come to you with something a little different (and something I hope to continue if I can). My packing list for my weekend away in Scotland. 

In a nutshell we're driving up tomorrow night, spending all of Saturday there and coming back on Sunday. It's a flying visit but I figure while I have the time, I might as well do it. 


What To Pack For A Weekend In Scotland
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13

As you can see, I've broken my outfits down by rows so lets start with the top. This top row is probably my main 'night out' outfit. I have no idea if we're actually going to be heading to a bar so this seemed like a great casual option in case we decided to pop for a cocktail after dinner perhaps. I've teamed a black satin bardot top with some light blue jeans which can then be worn with either small heels (my feet will thank me later) or these beautiful embroidered flats which will also add some colour to the outfit. Like always, I've thrown a leather jacket with this, just to add that edgy vibe. 

The middle row I've put together for Saturday day time. Now, like Friday I have absolutely no idea what we'll be doing so I thought it best to plan ahead. I've paired a white t-shirt with some loose fitting navy pants and I'll slip my converse on just for added comfort in case we're walking round. There's also the option then to switch the loose pants for jeans if we decide to go out for lunch (seriously, here I am trying to be a lady who lunches lol). I've also been extra prepared and have packed my yellow rain coat which was an absolute hit last season. As we all know, much like Wales, it always rains in Scotland.

Last but not least and definitely the most edgy out of all three is the bottom row. I've kept this super casual but with the right hair and make up, it can go down a storm. I've paired on old Iron Maiden shirt which I managed to cut when I was about seventeen (do you like how I conveyed this with the eraser tool on Paint?) with a pair of ripped skinny jeans and some leather Vans. I love these leather Vans, they're just a little bit different from the usual canvas and after my Topshop dupes fell apart, I knew I had to have them. Again I've teamed this with my leather jacket to pull everything together. 

And you know, that's pretty much it. I'd like to think I'm packing light but I know in the morning I'll add in some extras just for good measure!

I hope you liked this style of post and I'll definitely look to doing more in the future! Goodnight X 
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Sunday, 12 March 2017

Boots Beauty Haul and Review

Boots Beauty Haul and Review
Today I thought I'd do something a little different on my blog and come to you with a Boots beauty haul and review. Contain your excitement. It's a little bit like a fashion or beauty haul and try on but less about first impressions and more about whether the product actually works in the long run. I buy so many beauty products throughout the month and over on my Instagram @itshollieannx - shameless plug - I'm usually telling you what I think but I thought why not put this bundle into a post. 

Let's start at the top with the Sensodyne Pronamel Strong and Bright. Firstly I'll start by saying that I absolutely have to use a sensitive and preferably an enamel restoring toothpaste in order to care for my teeth properly but it's hard to find a product that is brightening as well. Boom. Sensodyne have done it. It's incredibly fresh, doesn't taste horrendous like a lot of sensitive toothpastes and is pronamel. Winner.

Second on my hit list was the Rimmel Fresher Skin. I swatched this a month or so ago and couldn't decide whether I actually liked the consistency or whether it would sit on my skin right. It does, it's brilliant. It's so incredibly thin that it really feels like you're not wearing make up but it gives you that hint of coverage that you need. It's buildable and doesn't go cakey. Also, a massive plus for me, it lasts well throughout the day and doesn't go patchy if and when it comes off. It's like it blends with the moisture as oppose to clinging to dry skin like so many of my foundations do.

From Rimmel I also picked up the Match Perfection Concealer. I've heard so many beauty bloggers and youtubers raving about this, that I couldn't not pick it up. It works like an absolute dream to brighten and conceal under the eyes that of a morning, I actually can't wait to use it. Also on the topic of concealer, I picked up one of my favourites from the Maybelline Fit Me range. I've spoken so many times about how much I love this, it's definitely a make up bag staple.

Moving swiftly onto a big part of this haul. The L'Oreal skincare. I picked up this Pure Clay Detox Wash a few days before this haul and absolutely loved it. It smells amazing, actually removes make-up and I actually saw an improvement in my skin after two or so washes. This was really the trigger for me that made me want to try more from L'Oreal and as a big lover of their make up, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. I picked up their Fine Flowers toner which smells amazing and feels great on the skin and the micellar water in normal to combination which I used every morning to remove 'sleep dirt'. I've noticed with this micellar water my skin doesn't go as red as it did with the last one I was using which is a bonus. Next I spotted the Extraordinary Oil Cleansing Oil and having not used one before was a little skeptical - boy had I been missing out. This gives my skin the ultimate deep clean and feels quite luxurious to use. Finally in terms of L'Oreal skincare, I picked up two of the Triple Active moisturisers, one for day time and one for night time. Yes I'm a diva. I love both of these so much and I don't get the stinging feeling I was getting from my previous moisturisers. They work great under all of the different foundations I use and aren't greasy. 

The last L'Oreal product I picked up was their new Infallible foundation. I'm having a love hate relationship with this at the moment - I think the consistency and the wear is great but I can't seem to achieve the coverage that it's claiming to have in all of the adverts that are around and I don't know why. I've tried applying it with a sponge and building the coverage up, I've tried buffing it into the skin and even stippling it on. I'm sure I'll get there eventually but for now i'll just use it as a medium coverage.

I picked up the Garnier Micellar Wash purely because it was new and on offer. I picked it up at the same time as the Detox Wash from L'Oreal and decided that this was going to be the true test of whether I was going to carry on using Garnier products - I feel a little like I'd gotten all I could from them. I've tried so much of their skincare and while it's all great, it doesn't agree with my skin. Back to this cleanser, I like it and it does a good job but I feel like you have to wash your face twice with it to really benefit from the product. Not something I can be arsed doing when I come in from the pub at midnight. 

Last but not least, I grabbed three nail polishes from Barry M - I don't think I can actually leave Boots without picking up one of these. I got two of the Gelly Hi-Shine shades. One in Pink Lemonade, a favourite and Acai Smoothie which I can't wait to try. I also bagged the Molten Metal shade in Silver Lining as part of the 3 for 2. 

If you've tried any of these products, please let me know what you think of them. Also let me know if you like this format and I'll think about doing it again in the future!
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Monday, 6 March 2017

22 Things I've Learnt In 22 Years



I've seen a couple of these kinds of posts going around the Blogosphere and I couldn't wait to do one in time for my 22nd birthday. Fast forward a month or so and here we are, it's my birthday.

My 21st year really has been a roller-coaster. I traveled to the USA, Greece and to several UK cities in between. I danced at Parklife, Leeds Festival and Slam Dunk and got to see so many of my favourite bands tour up and down the country throughout the months. I spent time with old friends, said goodbye to those moving and made new ones along the way. I made a real effort with my family and I'm so happy at how close we've become. I even put more effort into my blog and bought myself a new camera and I'm so proud of what it is becoming. We welcomed babies Freddie and Faye into the world but sadly said goodbye to an amazing woman, Claire and also my Grandad in recent weeks. 

I don't think I've ever had a year where I've grown up and experienced life as much as this one so I thought I'd not only reflect on that, but share with you 22 things I've learnt in 22 years.

1. Saving money is hard

2. Just because one got away, it doesn't mean they were right for you

3. It's so important to not hold grudges

4. Be there for people everyday and especially when they need you most

5. Materialistic items aren't important

6. In the toughest times, your family will pull together and you'll realise the true meaning of the word

7. Having not been to Australia and Thailand doesn't mean I haven't travelled

8. Its okay that I'm 22 and still don't like cucumber or gin and tonic

9. It's better to do things with your friends than without 

10. Life does not revolve around Facebook and it's okay to unfollow/unfriend those with negative content

11. It doesn't matter that I don't have 46 designer bags and an endless wardrobe

12. Clothes look better if they fit you properly

13. The fact I spend a lot of money on alcohol is a'okay

14. Running a house is hard, who knew milk went off and the carpet didn't hoover itself?

15. I will live by a budget sheet for the rest of my life and truthfully, I'm obsessed with it

16. It pays to think before you speak

17. Don't be angry about things you cannot change

18. We may not 'work to pay bills and die' but working does pay bills and they won't pay themselves

19. Blogging is extremely difficult but incredibly satisfying and it's okay to admit that

20. Peoples lives are not always what they seem - We only show the best versions of ourselves to outsiders

21. It's important to apologise but don't be taken for a mug

22. Make the most of everything, even if it's sitting on your sofa

Peace out from 22 year old me X 
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Thursday, 2 March 2017

Benefit Double The Lip Review

Benefit Double The Lip
Today I thought I'd give you a little run down of some products I've been dying to try for a long time now from a brand I absolutely love. You may of guessed by the above photo that we're going to be talking about the Benefit They're Real Double The Lip lipsticks. Benefit are one of my favourite brands and I love so many of their products that when I received a gift card a few weeks ago, I knew these lipsticks were on my hit list. 

Now, these aren't your average lipsticks, they're actually a lip liner and lipstick combined. Not only does this mean you don't have to worry about matching your liner to your lip colour but it also means that on application, your lips actually look fuller. No bleeding and luscious lips? I'll take that any day.

Because I hadn't had chance to actually try them yet and because I hadn't seen any reviews, I didn't want to rush out and buy every single colour in the full size - plus, I really don't have that kind of money. I decided to go for the Big Sexy Lip Kit which contains four of the smaller sizes in Flame Game, Pink Thrills, Revved-up Red and Lusty Rose. On a side note, if you're looking to try any Benefit products, the kits are a great way to start out!

Benefit Double The Lip
Firstly, the shades in this kit are unbelievably versatile. Flame Game is a beautiful orange colour. Pink Thrills is a deep pink shade. Revved-up Red is a very true red colour as you'd expect and Lusty Rose is a nude, dusty pink and my personal favourite. 

Honestly on first impressions I didn't really know what to think of these. I couldn't quite get the hang of the application and wasn't sure on the consistency as I would say they're different to normal lipsticks. However as the week went on and I started using them more, I began to fall in love. 

Benefit Double The Lip
The consistency of these lipsticks is definitely different to a normal lipstick but only because they're more creamy than drying and not sticky like so many lip products on the market. I've now gotten used to the application and the tapered end glides seamlessly around my lips to both line and create that illusion of depth, something I struggle to do with a normal liner and colour. For me, I think I was mainly surprised by how well the liner blends with the colour. You can see from the photos that there is actually quite a difference in the shade of the lipstick and the liner but alas, they blend flawlessly. Well done Benefit.

I don't have any criticisms for these lipsticks, only tips to give to you. I would firstly recommend moisturising your lips before hand - I know most of you will do that anyway but I found with shades like Flame Game that they can cling ever so slightly to dry skin. Secondly, practice makes perfect. For the application, treat your lips like four quarters and do them individually keeping the tapered end to the lip line. It will feel weird at first but after you've played around a few times you'll be a pro. Lastly, I would say to make sure you're carrying these with you as mine did not see me through chilli con care - not like I expected it to but just in case you're going out to dinner or for drinks, you may need a top up.

So there you have it, my thoughts on the new Benefit Double The Lip lipsticks. I absolutely love these and will definitely be purchasing the full size when mine run out. In case you're wondering, the lipsticks retail for £16.50 each or this Big Sexy Lip Kit is £25.50 which to me is an absolute bargain! All swatches can be found on Benefits website. 

If you try these, please let me know what you think and if not let me know what your favourite lip products are!

* This post is not sponsored.

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