Tuesday 28 March 2017

The Five Best Decisions I've Made As A Blogger

The Five Best Decisions I've Made As A Blogger - 1

I must admit, I hesitated before writing this post. I'm not a big blogger by any stretch of the imagination, and I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm trying to offer advice on how to become one, because I'm in no position to do that. That said, I've been working on my blog for three years now, and although I'm nowhere near where I'd like to be, it only takes a quick look back at where I started to see how far I've come. You don't work hard on something for any length of time without learning a thing or two, and at this point in my blogging career, I can definitely look back on the decisions I've made and pinpoint those that have helped me the most.

So, in the hopes that sharing my experience might prove useful for other bloggers, here are the five best blogging decisions I've made so far.

The Five Best Decisions I've Made As A Blogger - 2
1 - I started my blog - OK, so that might sound overly simplistic! Nevertheless, while the actual act of starting a blog is fairly straightforward, it's also something that's becoming more and more daunting as time goes on. Blogs are increasingly glossy and perfect. Back in the day, you could look at them and think, "I can do that!" Nowadays, you're more likely to think, "I could never do that! And where the heck am I supposed to find my own film crew?!" But the point is, no blogger in the world starts out perfect. It's just that a lot of people have been doing it for a long time. They learned as they went along, and you will too. The only way to get better at something is to practise often, and with blogging, that means writing and publishing blog posts. Don't worry about putting them out there. You will find that the blogging community is really supportive, and the sooner you get started, the sooner you'll improve. Actually jumping in and starting my blog is one of the best decisions I've ever made, so if you're agonising over whether or not you're ready to do it, just do it!

2 - I got a Pipdig template -  While we're on the subject of worrying about how good your blog looks, buying a professionally designed template is a great way to take it up a notch (or five!) with almost no effort whatsoever. I can't recommend Pipdig enough for this. Their templates are beautiful, affordable and easy to install. They'll even install it for you if you're really unsure (I was really unsure!) Once it's set up, you can change your profile photo and play around with the sidebar with no problems.
The Five Best Decisions I've Made As A Blogger - 3
3 - I joined Thirty Plus - After actually starting my blog, this has probably been the best decision I've made so far. The blogging community in general is lovely, but I've gained so much from being part of this particular group. Often, bloggers are introverts by nature - I definitely am - and being a "joiner" doesn't necessarily come naturally, especially when it comes to meeting people "IRL". However, I'm so glad I've pushed myself out of this particular comfort zone. Not only have I met some wonderful, like-minded people, but I've also learned so much about blogging through being part of the group. It's even given me the opportunity to work on a couple of paid projects, which I wouldn't have had otherwise. So, even if you feel shy, find the groups that are right for you and join, join, join!

4 - I decided my worth - When I first started blogging, I thought it was important to take every opportunity I was offered. Even if I wasn't particularly interested in reviewing the product in question, or it felt like I was getting very little out of my "collaboration" with a brand, I felt I would be missing out on valuable exposure if I turned anything down. How wrong was I?! After one too many bad experiences, I decided to stop blogging about things I didn't care about for not so much as a retweet in return. Unfortunately, there are a lot of brands and PR companies out there who seem to think that small blogs are good enough to advertise their product, but not to receive anything in return. Don't let them get away with it. Decide your worth, and assess each offer you get on its own merits. If it feels like you're not going to get anything out of it, turn it down politely. There will be other offers - better ones as you grow and improve.

The Five Best Decisions I've Made As A Blogger - 4

5 - I didn't give up - This one is ongoing. It's easy to be full of enthusiasm when you first start something and blogging is no different. You've built something from scratch and it's a wonderful feeling. Every photo that turns out half decent is a personal triumph; every new follower is a thrill. And then all of a sudden you realise that you've been doing this for quite some time now, and that if you continue to grow at your current rate, you will need to blog for about 75 years before you have even a quarter of the following of the amazing established bloggers who inspired you in the first place. Sound familiar? I know a lot of my fellow bloggers go through phases of wondering whether there's any point continuing, and I do too. But if I had quit when I was feeling miserable about my blog at the end of last year, I would have missed out on the great collaboration opportunity I was offered in January. I decided then that so long as I enjoy creating content for my blog, I won't quit. It might feel like a hard slog at times, but there's only one way to guarantee I'll never get another good opportunity and that's by giving up.
Well, I was going to write about five ways I need to improve as a blogger as well, but it turns out I've had more to say on my good decisions than I thought I would! So I think I'll make that a separate post.

What are the best decisions you've made as a blogger?

Kate x

Monday 20 March 2017

Colour Poppin'

Colourful OOTD featuring embroidery, raw hem jeans and yellow mules - 1

From "all black errthang" to pastel tones to striking brights, everyone has their own approach when it comes to the colours that dominate their wardrobe. My own seems to be "the more the merrier". While there are definitely shades that don't work well on me, I still seem to be attracted to a lot of different ones, and the result is a closet that resembles a rainbow! Perhaps I should streamline things a little, but on the other hand, colour can be a lot of fun at times.

Colourful OOTD featuring embroidery, raw hem jeans and yellow mules - 2

This little red clutch, for instance, immediately stood out to me as the perfect partner to the pretty embroidery on this new Shein top. I've had the clutch for about a decade, but it's such a classic style I don't think I'll ever throw it away, and it's proven so useful over the years.

Colourful OOTD featuring embroidery, raw hem jeans and yellow mules - 3

The yellow mules were a far less obvious choice, but for some reason they just seem to pull the whole look together. I'm pretty happy about that, because I'm still obsessed with these shoes. I picked them up from Topshop last year just before it got too cold to wear them, so I'm thrilled that I can break them out again now spring is here.

Finally, I'm loving the raw hem detail on these River Island jeans. My eye is constantly being drawn to the more exaggerated frayed hems, not to mention full-on embroidered denim (swoon!) but I'm trying to resist, as I feel like I might get sick of those pretty quickly. For the moment, these are fulfilling my current denim desires!

Colourful OOTD featuring embroidery, raw hem jeans and yellow mules - 4

Top* - Shein, Jeans (similar) - River Island, Shoes (similar) - Topshop, Clutch (similar) - Zara

I'd love to know if there are any particular colours that dominate your wardrobe, or do you embrace the rainbow?! Let me know!

Kate x

*Gifted item. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Thursday 16 March 2017

Emma Stone Oscars Inspired Makeup Look

Emma Stone Oscars Inspired Makeup Look - 1

So I know the Oscars was, like, AGES ago, but it's never too late for an Oscars inspired makeup look, don't you think?!

I absolutely loved the film La La Land (did anyone else find themselves sobbing uncontrollably through the Audition song, or was that just me?!) and in my opinion, Emma Stone was on to another winner with her whole look for the awards - doesn't she look amazing?

Emma Stone Oscars Inspired Makeup Look - 2

Now I quite obviously don't look like Emma. My colouring is totally different and my face shape is the polar opposite of hers. There's also a distinct lack of gold floor length gowns in my wardrobe. Nevertheless, as soon as I saw this gorgeous, warm-toned makeup, I knew I wanted to recreate it, or at least come up with my own version.

The full list of products Emma wore is available here if you're interested. I don't actually own any of them, but I was able to create a similar look by rifling through my stash. Here's the finished result.

Emma Stone Oscars Inspired Makeup Look - 3

It's warm, wearable and - my personal favourite - easy to do. Here's how I achieved it.

First up, I applied my base products. At the moment, that's Clarins Extra Comfort Foundation with Clarins Instant Concealer under my eyes, and Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer pretty much everywhere else - to cover blemishes and highlight a little bit too. I defined and filled in my brows using Benefit Brow Zings

For the eyes, I started with a base of Urban Decay Anti-Aging Eyeshadow Primer Potion. Emma's makeup artist used a selection of Nars shadows in warm gold shades, but I found plenty to choose from in my trusty Urban Decay Naked Palette. I used Sidecar all over the lids, with Toasted on the outer two thirds and Darkhorse through the crease. I also took Darkhorse along the outer half of my upper and lower lash line as a soft liner. Emma looks to have a beautiful, softly sparkling gold shadow not only in the inner corners of her eyes but partly along her lower lash line as well, so I tried to recreate this with Half Baked.

Emma Stone Oscars Inspired Makeup Look - 4

Emma Stone Oscars Inspired Makeup Look - 5

Emma Stone Oscars Inspired Makeup Look - 6

Emma isn't wearing any bronzer or contour, but the beautiful blush on her cheeks is Nars Orgasm Liquid Blush, which is apparently only going to be available from the spring. I have the original Nars Orgasm Powder Blush, so I used that in this look. Funnily enough, although I liked this blush before, I wasn't entirely sure what all the fuss was about or why it was such a cult classic. After creating this look, though, I'm in love with it, so I guess I wasn't pairing it with the right products before!

Emma Stone Oscars Inspired Makeup Look - 7

Emma Stone Oscars Inspired Makeup Look - 8

On my lips, I've gone for Mac Mocha. It's not quite the deep brick red that Emma is wearing (Nars Audacious Lipstick in Mona), but it's similar.

Emma Stone Oscars Inspired Makeup Look - 9

So there you have it. Not quite Emma Stone, but a makeup look I love and will be wearing again for sure.

Emma Stone Oscars Inspired Makeup Look - 10

 We could be sisters, right?

Which was your favourite look from the Oscars?

Kate x

Monday 13 March 2017

Joy Bath Oil by Beatitude Products

Review of Joy Bath Oil by Beatitude Products - 1

As you've probably gathered by now, I'm a sucker for bath and body products. When I was approached by Beatitude Products to try one of their luxe aromatherapy bath oils, I said yes straight away. After all, there's only one thing nicer than an aromatherapy bath oil, and that's a luxe aromatherapy bath oil.
I hadn't heard of Beatitude Products, but it's a British brand, created by beauty therapist and aromatherapist Rebecca O'Connor, who uses only 100% natural high quality ingredients to create beautiful aromatherapy products. So far, so up my street! When choosing this kind of product, I almost always go for relaxing blends, as that's what my mind and body tend to crave most, but this time, I went for something a little bit different. Beatitude's Joy* bath oil is created from a blend of essential oils including orange, mandarin, grapefruit, bergamot and pettigrain (nope, I hadn't heard of this one either. Apparently it comes from the leaves and green twigs of the bitter orange tree.) It's designed to uplift and cheer you, and basically fill you with joy. Doesn't that sound lovely? And let's face it, who doesn't need a little cheering up from time to time?

Review of Joy Bath Oil by Beatitude Products - 2 
The packaging is gorgeous. I adored the little gift bag with its silk bow, and the glass bottle inside has an elegant, luxurious feel and would look beautiful on any bathroom shelf or cabinet.

The oil itself is just as impressive. It's very rich, and a few drops added to the bathwater is more than enough to fill the room with fragrance. The citrus element is glorious, but there is a subtle woody warmth to it too. As I laid back in the tub and breathed it in, I really did feel uplifted, and when bath time was over, my skin was beautifully soft.

Review of Joy Bath Oil by Beatitude Products - 3

Following Rebecca's top tips for a really luxurious pamper night, I lit my favourite candle before running my bath and hung my dressing gown over the heated towel rail so it was extra cosy to slip into afterwards. This was such a lovely idea and I really recommend it - if you don't have a towel rail, you could always use a hot water bottle. Finally, Beatitude Products were kind enough to give me a little sample of the matching body oil, which really helped to prolong the life of the scent on my skin.

The Beatitude team call the Joy bath oil "sunshine in a bottle", and I can only wholeheartedly agree with this description. I will definitely be using this product the next time I have a bit of a down day!

Review of Joy Bath Oil by Beatitude Products - 4

Have you tried anything from Beatitude? What's your favourite aromatherapy brand?

Kate x

*Gifted product. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Thursday 9 March 2017

False Lash Heaven

Eylure lashes from falseeyelashes.co.uk - 1

What if I told you there was a website where you could buy just about every variety of false lash in existence, and a whole heap of brow products besides?

Well, there is! It's called falseeyelashes.co.uk, and if you're into your lashes you'll be in heaven browsing through it. I almost never wear lashes myself, but when I was invited to choose a couple of styles from their site, I couldn't resist scrolling through to see if there was anything that caught my interest. Let me tell you, there was plenty! They stock all kinds of different brands including Ardell, Violet Voss, Red Cherry and Morphe, but I decided to go for two products from Eylure.

Eylure lashes from falseeyelashes.co.uk - 2

First up, I chose these Pre-Glued Texture Lashes in 117*. I was very much drawn to the concept of these. The band, as the name would suggest, is pre-glued, so you just stick and go - no fiddling around with lash glue. They come with an additional strip, so that you can get another use out of them, and I particularly like this style as they are so wispy and natural looking. In short, I really wanted to love these, but unfortunately they didn't work for me at all.

Eylure lashes from falseeyelashes.co.uk - 3 - Pre-glued Texture Lashes in 117

Eylure lashes from falseeyelashes.co.uk - 4 - Pre-glued Texture Lashes in 117

I have read several reviews of people who swear by them, so perhaps it's my lack of practice at applying false lashes, or perhaps I have particularly odd shaped eyes or oilier lids than I think I do! Whatever it is, I simply couldn't get these to stick at either the inner or outer corners of my eyes, no matter how much I tried or how hard I pressed them down. I wore out both sticky strips trying!

Eylure lashes from falseeyelashes.co.uk - 5 - Pro-lash individual lashes

Eylure lashes from falseeyelashes.co.uk - 6 - Pro-lash individual lashes

Not to be deterred, however, I moved onto my second choice, the Eylure Pro-Lash Individual Lashes*. My sister wore individual lashes for her wedding (nearly two years ago now - how time flies!) and I remember thinking then how effective and natural they looked. In the box, you get a selection of short, medium and long lashes, lash glue, and lash remover. To apply, you select the lashes you want and sculpt the look yourself, dipping the knot of each individual lash into the glue before sticking it to your own lashes in the position you require. Tweezers help a lot with this process, and it's not as tricky as it sounds. In fact, I actually find these easier to apply than strip lashes.

Eylure lashes from falseeyelashes.co.uk - 7 - Pro-lash individual lashes

The other great thing about individual lashes is that you can add as many or as few as you want, depending on whether you're after a dramatic look for a night out or just a subtle enhancement of your natural assets. I have quite good natural lashes, but they don't fan out at the outer corners as much as I would like, and I've been able to change that here using just a couple of the medium length lashes from the pack. I absolutely love these, and will definitely be using them again in the future.

Eylure lashes from falseeyelashes.co.uk - 8 - Pro-lash individual lashes

Are you a false lash fan? What's your preferred brand and style?

Kate x

*Gifted items. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Monday 6 March 2017

February Favourites

February Favourites 2017 - 1

So, how was everyone's February? Mine felt as if it flew by, and was something of a nondescript month, without anything particularly exciting happening. Still, on the plus side, there were no disasters either, so I guess I should just be grateful for that! This month's favourites is a mixed bag - some new things, and some old faithful products that you are sure to have seen me declaring my love for at least once or twice before! It's mostly beauty this month, plus a book that I think pretty much everyone who blogs will be interested in.

February Favourites 2017 - 2 - L'Oreal False Lash X Fiber Mascara

1. L'Oreal False Lash X Fiber Mascara - First up, something new - this double-ended mascara from L'Oreal. I've seen quite a few mixed reviews about this, but I personally love it and think it gives some serious impact to my lashes. You apply the primer end first, to add volume, and then the end with the fibres for length. Some people claim to have experienced the fibres falling onto their face or into their eyes, but I've experienced neither and have really been enjoying using this. I don't mind the extra time it takes to apply the two different steps and think it's well worth it for the results. I would be interested to know if anyone else has used this and if so, what did you think? 

February Favourites 2017 - 3 - Primark Eyelash Curlers

2. Primark Eyelash Curlers - For the longest time, I've used Shu Uemura eyelash curlers, which cost around £20, but having heard about these pretty Primark ones, I decided to give them a go this month. Apart from not feeling quite as weighty in my hand, the Primark curlers are really no different from the Shu Uemura ones. They curl my lashes just as well, and they only cost £1. No, that's not a typo. They cost £1. Plus, they come with a spare silicone pad, and they're rose gold! Needless to say, I won't be going back.

February Favourites 2017 - 4 - Maybelline Super Stay 7 Days Gel Nail Color

3. Maybelline Super Stay 7 Days Gel Nail Color -  I've featured a couple of these in monthly favourites posts before, and having added a couple more shades to my collection this month (Midnight Red and Divine Wine), I feel it's only right that I give a shoutout to the range as a whole. The colours are beautiful, the formula is a dream to work with and the wide brush makes application quick and easy. I've got my eye on a couple of lighter shades for spring as well - I'll probably end up owning the entire range before long!

February Favourites 2017 - 5 - The Body Shop Spa of the World French Lavender Massage Oil

4. The Body Shop Spa of the World French Lavender Massage Oil - I reviewed a few products from the Spa of the World range here and truth be told, I've been loving all of them this month. I decided to single out the lavender oil, though, as it has made so much difference to the quality of my sleep lately. I don't use this for massage at all, but put a few drops on my chest and wrists before I go to bed and breathe in the relaxing scent as I drift off to sleep. I've been falling asleep quicker and having a much more peaceful night since I started using this, so I'm keeping it on my bedside table for good now!

February Favourites 2017 - 6 - Clarins Extra Comfort Foundation and Zoeva Buffer Brush

5. Clarins Extra Comfort Foundation applied with Zoeva 104 Buffer Brush - This foundation has popped up in my favourites before now, but I've been loving it so much this month that I had to mention it again. I find I enjoy this more whenever my skin feels that little bit drier, and with the cold weather we've had throughout February, that's certainly been the case. It's a full coverage foundation with a lovely dewy finish, and if it only lasted a little bit longer it would probably be my all time number one base product. However, the drier my skin, the longer it lasts, so it's often something I love in the winter. I've also been enjoying this Zoeva brush to apply it with. As someone who's always applied foundation with their fingertips, it's been something of a revelation! The finish is smoother and more flawless with this and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

February Favourites 2017 - 7 - The Million Dollar Blog by Natasha Courtenay-Smith

6. The Million Dollar Blog by Natasha Courtenay-Smith - My final favourite this month is this book on blogging which I stumbled upon by accident when searching for something to read. The Amazon reviews were excellent, so I decided to give it a go.  I'm just over halfway through it and I'm finding it really interesting so far. It's fun to read the stories of established bloggers and how they managed to turn their blogs into successful businesses, but there's also a lot of good tips about how to approach content creation, which I think anyone with a blog would find really useful. If you click on my link you'll find it on Amazon and you can check out the first few pages for free if you're interested.

What have you been loving this past month?

Kate x

Thursday 2 March 2017

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - My Verdict

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - My Verdict - 1

As some of you might remember, back in January, I was one of ten Thirty Plus bloggers selected to try out No7's revamped Lift & Luminate skincare range. I've now been using the products for just over a month, and I'm ready to share the results with you.

I talked about my first impressions of the range, as well as the ingredients and how they're designed to work in this post, but just in case you haven't got time to go rooting through old posts, here's a brief recap.

The range consists of a day cream, night cream, serum and eye cream. Based on the theory that skincare works #BetterTogether, No7 have taken the powerful technology from their Triple Action serum and added it to the other products, resulting in an anti-ageing range that's proven to deliver results against the three most common signs of ageing - by visibly reducing wrinkles, firming skin and producing a more even skin tone.
  No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - My Verdict - 2

So, in addition to the concentrated hit of anti-ageing goodness from the serum - containing, among other things, hyaluronic acid to plump the skin and powerful peptides to smooth wrinkles - you'll boost its effectiveness even further by following up with the day or night cream. As if that wasn't enough, you also get No7's most advanced protection against UV rays in the day cream, with SPF 15 and 5* UVA, while the night cream is designed to work in harmony with skin's night time renewal process to nourish and restore moisture. The eye cream, especially formulated for the delicate skin around the eye area, should soften crow's feet and reduce puffiness and dark circles.

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - My Verdict - 3

As I mentioned, I've now been using the complete range for more than a month, and honestly, I couldn't be happier with the results. As a long time fan of No7's introductory anti-ageing range, Protect & Perfect, I was fairly confident that my now older skin would like Lift & Luminate too, and it certainly does. If you like to see instant results from your skincare, you should definitely check these products out, because just as the claims about the night cream state, my complexion looked plumped and refreshed from the morning after the very first use.

However, it's with continued use over several weeks that the range as a whole really comes into its own. I've been meticulous about applying eye cream, serum and day or night cream every morning and evening, conscious of the fact that I really wanted to test out this #BetterTogether theory. And you know what? I think it works!

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - My Verdict - 4

My skin definitely feels firmer after several weeks of using these products. As for fine lines, you all know by now that I always feel the need to say how difficult I find this to judge, simply because I am always using skincare that claims to soften them! However, I feel that this range does a great job in this regard. They are all still there - it's not a miracle in a jar - but they are all still fairly faint. And here I feel I have to single out the eye cream for special praise, because I have noticed a more dramatic softening of fine lines in the eye area than anywhere else since using Lift & Luminate. Often, I find that eye creams are more disappointing when it comes to softening lines than face products are, so I will be holding onto this one for dear life.

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - My Verdict - 5

However, it's the luminating aspect of this range, and the evening of skin tone, that I'm most impressed with. It contains a lightening complex including Indian gooseberry and Vitamin C and I think this has been something of a revelation for me. I've probably mentioned before that I'm not blessed with naturally clear and luminous skin. No product, no matter how fantastic, is going to transform me into someone who is, but after two to three weeks of using Lift & Luminate, I noticed that my skin was looking generally brighter, healthier and more even in tone. And goodness knows that's not down to my diet, because I have been very lazy on that front since Christmas! When you catch yourself in the mirror without makeup on, and you're pleasantly surprised - that to me is the sign of a skincare range that's doing well for you.

In terms of application, all these products are pleasant to use. They have the faintest hint of a clean, fresh fragrance, and the eye cream is light as a feather and absorbs pretty much instantly. The other products take a little longer, but none of them feel unduly heavy on the skin.

So, my final verdict? Well, if you wanted to try just one product, I'd say go for the eye cream, but the results I've had overall have come from using the range as a whole. So I guess that means I'm firmly in agreement with No7 - skincare really is #BetterTogether!

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - My Verdict - 6

But don't just take my word for it. Everyone's skin is different, and if you're interested in finding out how my fellow Thirty Plus bloggers got on with the range, make sure you check out Hayley, Tracey, Alex, Jane, Louise, Lisa, Fritha, Jo and Sareta to find out their opinions.

And what about you? If you're one of the lucky winners of my giveaway, or if you've tried the products anyway, I'd love to know what you thought. Let me know in the comments! If you haven't tried the range but would like to, you can find the day cream and night cream on sale at Boots for £24.95, the serum for £27.00 and the eye cream for £17.00.

Kate x

*This post was sponsored by No7. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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