Wednesday 26 September 2018

My Post Holiday Skincare Routine

My Post Holiday Skincare Routine

If you saw my What's In My Travel Makeup Bag post the other week, you'll know that I travel (reasonably) light when it comes to the makeup I take away with me on holiday. Well, the same is true for skincare. While I like to make sure I have everything I need to keep my skin cleansed,  moisturised and protected from the sun while I'm away, I tend not to bother with masks, serums, exfoliators or any of the "extras" that form part of my weekly routine when I'm at home. As a result, while I don't return from my holidays with terrible skin, I definitely feel as though it's in need of a bit of a pamper when I do get home.

My recent travels were no exception. With my skin feeling a little congested, dull and dry from my two weeks in the sunshine, I was excited to get back to my stash and give myself a mini facial. I loved the way my skin looked and felt afterwards, so I thought I would share what I used. So here it is - my post holiday skincare routine.

Garnier Micellar Water

What did we do before Micellar Water was a thing? Seriously, how did we ever manage to get our skin clean enough?! Whether I'm at home or away, I'm never without this product, and it's always the first step of my evening routine to make sure I've swept away every last trace of makeup before moving on to actually cleansing my face. My favourite Micellar Water is the original Garnier one. I find it so effective at removing makeup, even waterproof mascara, but it doesn't dry out or irritate my skin in the slightest. I like to soak a large cotton pad or two in the product and gently wipe them over my face until it's completely makeup free.

Step 2: Image Skincare Ormedic Balancing Facial Cleanser*

Image Skincare Ormedic Balancing Facial Cleanser

I have a couple of cleansers on the go at the moment. The one I took with me on holiday was the Jurlique Radiant Skin Foaming Cleanser, so purely in the interests of giving my skin a break, I decided to switch back to the Image Skincare one for my post holiday skincare routine. I wrote in more detail about this product a while back, but essentially it is a gentle yet effective product, leaving my face feeling thoroughly cleansed, yet still soft. Exactly what I wanted for my slightly stressed, post holiday skin!

Step 3: Manuka Doctor 24k Gold & Manuka Honey Facial Peel*

Manuka Doctor 24k Gold & Manuka Honey Facial Peel

With my skin thoroughly cleansed, it was time to start giving it that little bit of TLC it had been missing during my holiday. Just before I went away, I was sent the Manuka Doctor 24k Gold & Manuka Honey facial peel to try, and now seemed like the perfect time. Housed in a very pretty white and gold tube, there is an addictive smell to this product that I can't quite put my finger on - sweet yet fresh. It's also lots of fun to use, applying as a pure golden mask that's perfect for face mask selfies, if those are your thing!

Manuka Doctor 24k Gold & Manuka Honey Facial Peel

Manuka Doctor 24k Gold & Manuka Honey Facial Peel Swatch

The product contains Kaolin Clay to draw impurities out of the skin, Hyaluronic Acid to moisturise, Vitamin E for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, Manuka Honey to boost moisturisation and elastin, and Purified Bee Venom to nurture natural collagen formation and increase skin's elasticity. As per the instructions, I applied a thin layer of the mask and allowed it to dry, and I found that this took a little less time than the 20 minutes indicated.

When I peeled the mask away - again, fun to do! - I was impressed with how much brighter my skin looked, and by how smooth it felt. Having neglected exfoliation during my holiday, it had been a little dull and somewhat rough in texture, and this sorted it out straight away. I love this product and will definitely be incorporating it into my regular routine as a one or twice weekly treat.

Step 4: Antipodes Divine Avocado And Rosehip Face Oil*

Antipodes Divine Avocado And Rosehip Face Oil

Another product I had recently been sent was this luxurious looking face oil from Antipodes. Packed with vitamins and antioxidants, it feels incredibly nourishing on the skin yet still absorbs quickly without leaving any stickiness behind. The Organic Avocado Oil in this can apparently boost collagen production by up to 51%, while also reducing the appearance of fine lines, age spots and scars and nurturing the skin with essential fatty acids and key vitamins. In addition to this, the Rosehip Oil adds moisture and helps to repair parched and damaged skin - definitely what I needed post holiday!

Antipodes Divine Avocado And Rosehip Face Oil

Antipodes Divine Avocado And Rosehip Face Oil Swatch

Having only used this product a handful of times so far, I can't say anything about its long term benefits, but it feels wonderful to use - so much so that I find myself looking forward to getting ready for bed at night just so that I can put this on! My face is lapping this stuff up, and because it's suitable for all complexions, it's not upsetting the balance of my combination skin. Again, a product I've fallen in love with at first use and one which will be incorporated into my routine for the foreseeable future - nightly, in this case.

Step 5: No 7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Eye Cream

No 7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Eye Cream

No night time routine is complete without eye cream! The No 7 Protect & Perfect eye cream is one I always go back to - in fact, you could say the same for the whole range. Eye creams can be tricky as it is the one area where fine lines tend to show the most for a lot of people, and it can be difficult to find an eye cream that really makes a huge difference. This one is no miracle worker, but it does a decent job at keeping my under eye area hydrated and fine lines softened. I don't suffer from puffiness or bad dark circles, but it's designed to target those as well, with its combination of peptides, antioxidants and pro-retinol Retinyl Palmitate.

Step 6: Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask

Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask

Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask

Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin E Mask Swatch

The final step in my post holiday skincare routine was to apply a moisturiser before snuggling up in bed, and I chose an old favourite. I reviewed this Vitamin E mask almost a year ago when I first tried it, and I still love it now. Containing a blend of ingredients designed to both brighten and hydrate, including Vitamin E, Niacinamide and Adenosine, this product always seems to make me look fresh and awake in the morning after applying it the night before. The perfect finishing touch!

Do you keep up your full skincare routine on holiday, or do you opt for a good old pamper session once you get back? Or both?!

Kate x

*Gifted product. Some links may be affiliate links. This poses no extra cost to you, the customer. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Monday 24 September 2018

5 Reasons To Buy Zara's New Season Halter Neck Dress

5 Reasons To Buy Zara's New Season Halter Neck Dress

Here I am again with another post entirely dedicated to my love of a Zara dress. What can I say? They do them so well! Just like the white button down dress I was raving about earlier in the summer,  this beautiful new season emerald green number is priced at an incredibly reasonable £29.99, and so wearable that you are sure to get your money's worth out of it in no time at all. If you're anything like me, that alone is reason enough to add to basket, but this dress has so much more going for it than that. So, just in case you are in the mood to be enabled, here are 5 more reasons to buy this gorgeous Zara halter neck dress.

Green halter neck dress from Zara

AW18 emerald green dress

1. It's An "All Year Rounder"

As you can see from my photos, not to mention my ongoing Instagram spam, I took this dress with me on my recent holiday to Mallorca. Paired with some metallic sandals and a delicate necklace, it was the perfect, easy breezy piece to slip on for those balmy Mediterranean evenings spent dining under the stars. (Aargh, take me back!) Yet the rich colour and sumptuous silky fabric make it more than well suited to the transition into autumn too - it is, after all, part of Zara's new season collection. I can see this working equally well with some sleek stiletto boots and a tailored blazer.

Under £30 dress from Zara

2. It Looks (And Feels) More Expensive Than It Is

At the risk of sounding like an old person, haven't man made fabrics come a long way?! This dress is 100% polyester, which doubtless accounts for its affordability, yet it really does look and feel as though it's been made from silk. Add to that the chic, effortless cut and flattering tie waist and side splits and you have a dress that totally belies its under £30 price tag.

3. It Can Be Worn In A Multitude Of Ways

In addition to working equally well as a summer or autumn piece, this has so much versatility when it comes to styling, too. I find it suits me best with the neck worn open, but you could also button it all the way to the top and wear your hair up for a completely different look. A sleek pair of heels would definitely add some glam, and you could swap the tie belt for something that makes more of a statement. To take it down another route entirely, if you are cool enough (I'm not!), you could add a slouchy sweater over the top and team with trainers, or wear it unbuttoned over jeans.

button down, tie waist midi dress

5 Reasons To Buy Zara's New Season Halter Neck Dress

5 Reasons To Buy Zara's New Season Halter Neck Dress

4. It Has Pockets

I don't know what it is about pockets, but I know I'm not the only one who feels like the cat that got the cream when I discover them on a dress or pair of trousers I love. Pockets are like the icing on the cake! I've omitted to demonstrate them here, but rest assured this dress comes with pockets so that you can pose up a storm for Instagram have somewhere handy to put your handkerchief.

5. There's A Version For Everyone

I fell in love with the emerald green dress, but if it's not your thing, it's also available in two lovely animal prints. The printed versions are a little more expensive but still a very reasonable £39.99. I am sure that they will both prove to be very popular, given the current demand for all things animal print!

5 Reasons To Buy Zara's New Season Halter Neck Dress

Have you been buying anything for the new season yet?

Kate x

Wednesday 19 September 2018

Working With Brands - A Guide For Smaller Bloggers - How To Deal With Brand/PR Emails: Part 2 - Paid Collaborations

Working With Brands - A Guide For Smaller Bloggers - How To Deal With Brand/PR Emails: Part 2 - Paid Collaborations

A while back, I started a little series designed to offer smaller bloggers some help and advice when it comes to working with brands. As I've said before, I don't have a huge following and I don't earn a full time income from this blog, but I have had a fair bit of experience in working with brands on both paid and unpaid collaborations, and I hope that by sharing those experiences, I can benefit others.

One of the things I found very difficult when I first started out was deciphering what exactly brands and PRs wanted from me when they approached me with offers of working together, and what exactly they were offering in return. Over the years, and through a series of experiences both good and bad, I've come to learn what is really meant by most of the emails I get sent. Essentially, brand/PR collaboration emails fall into one of two categories - those offering paid opportunities, and those offering unpaid. I talked about unpaid collaborations in Part 1, and now I'm back to deal with everyone's favourite - the paid variety!

Topshop floral maxi dress

How To Deal With Emails Offering Paid Collaborations

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a super blogger with hundreds of thousands of followers to earn money from your blog - I am living proof of that. Sometimes, brands really do see the value in a well written piece and thoughtful engagement from a genuinely interested audience, even if that audience is small. I am still a small blogger, and definitely won't be funding a designer handbag habit from my paid jobs any time soon, but nevertheless I have had several decent paid campaigns come my way since I started my blog, and hope to attract more of them as I continue to grow!

Many of us are working hard toward a goal of earning money from our blogs, and it can be easy to get over-excited when an email comes in bearing the promise of cash. However, not every offer will be worth your while. As with unpaid collaborations, it's first necessary to figure out what exactly you're being asked before saying yes or no to it. Below, I've listed the types of emails you can expect to receive when brands or PRs want to work with you on a paid collaboration, and how I've learned to deal with them over the years. (As before, this is just a guide based on my own experiences, and how you choose to deal with each request may be different.)

girl on a balcony

1. We'd love for you to be part of our latest campaign. We'll send you products to try/clothing to style and we'd love you to post about it. If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, please let us know your rate.

This is, without a doubt, my favourite type of email to receive! When a brand - especially one you love - wants to offer you paid work, it's such a great feeling. Sometimes, they'll write a very brief email first, just giving you a general idea of the campaign, in order to gauge your interest. In this initial email, there might not be much indication of what exactly they expect from you or whether this is a paid project or not, so it is always worth writing back to ask them for more information. It will very quickly become clear whether they are proposing a real collaboration, in which they pay you for your work, or whether they are trying to wheedle some free promotion out of you - something I talked about in Part 1.

Assuming it is the former, while it can be very tempting to say yes immediately, there are a couple of things to bear in mind. First of all, is the brand in question a good fit for your blog? If it isn't, you're unlikely to receive good engagement on your post and could even risk alienating your audience for the longer term as well. Secondly, are you sure you can deliver what the brand wants, within the deadline? When you are looking at a sponsored post like this, the stakes are that little bit higher, often with a contract to sign, etc. So by all means register your enthusiasm about the project, but make sure you have asked all the questions you may have before finally agreeing.

balcony scene with pine trees

Finally getting a paid project after years of working hard to grow your blog feels wonderful, but it can be slightly scary too! There is a lot more I want to share on this subject, so I will write about it in more depth in another post soon.

2. I represent a well known fashion/beauty brand and they would like to offer you £X for a feature on your blog, but they're not going to send you any products.

At first glance, these can seem slightly dodgy. After all, no blogger who values their audience is going to recommend a brand they haven't tried, and why can't the PRs just tell you from the beginning who this "well known brand" is? 

However, this type of request can be perfectly legitimate, so there is no need to write them off from the start. The first question I will always ask is who the brand is. If it is something that fits with my blog, or one that I already love, then I see no problem with creating a wish list post that includes a product from that brand. For example, if it's Topshop, or something similar, chances are there will be plenty of things I am genuinely lusting after! I will also ask if they are OK with me mentioning other brands in the post, disclosing the collaboration and the use of nofollow links. If they're happy with those conditions, then I will generally say yes.

work from anywhere

Often, with this type of collaboration, a budget is set from the beginning and it's up to you to accept that price or not. Knowing what goes in to putting together a blog post, I find it helps to have in mind a minimum figure that you'd be prepared to do the work for.

3. We would like you to publish this article on your blog. Please let us know how much you would charge for this.

While it might seem like easy money to get paid for publishing someone else's content on your blog, this isn't something I would ever agree to, or recommend. Occasionally featuring guest posts from fellow bloggers is one thing, but publishing advertorial content put together by the brand in question is very different. I have seen some blogs go down this route, and in my opinion, they lose their individuality by doing it. I tend to lose interest in their content as a result, and it wouldn't surprise me if other people feel the same. But each to their own. It could be that some find success with this method - it just isn't for me. However, if it is something you are going to consider, make sure you insist on a nofollow link. No amount of cash in the short term is worth the risk of having your blog shut down for improper practices.

Working With Brands - A Guide For Smaller Bloggers - How To Deal With Brand/PR Emails: Part 2 - Paid Collaborations

4. We would love for you to join our affiliate programme to earn commission every time someone clicks through from your site to buy one of our products.

This is fair enough, and usually is just a case of signing up if you want to, with no obligation to post anything. Personally, I don't feel that smaller bloggers get a lot out of affiliate programmes, as you need a substantial audience to get enough people clicking through in order to earn anything more than a few pennies. That said, I am a member of Shopstyle, which I would recommend checking out as it covers pretty much all the major fashion and beauty brands. Because of this, it isn't really worth my while signing up to many others, but if you are a big fan of a particular brand and feature their products heavily on your blog, you might want to consider this type of invitation.

Working With Brands - A Guide For Smaller Bloggers - How To Deal With Brand/PR Emails: Part 2 - Paid Collaborations

5. Please let us know how much you would charge for putting an ad in your sidebar, and for a sponsored post about our website (even though we aren't going to send you any products).

Typically, brands that send this type of email tend to be obscure clothing websites (often specialising in prom and occasion dresses) and the type of budget they have available is tiny - often in single figures. Even if I was prepared to spend time writing a post for this kind of money, again, there is no way I am going to recommend a brand to my readers that I have no knowledge of. As for the sidebar ads, I have occasionally accepted the tiny offering, as it takes me approximately 20 seconds to do the "work" required. However, I stopped doing this some time ago. No matter how passively, it still felt as though these ads constituted some sort of recommendation from myself to my readers, and I just wasn't comfortable with that. Google ads or those from brands you genuinely love are a different kettle of fish, so now I stick to those.

Have you worked on paid collaborations with brands? If so, have your experiences been mostly good or not so good? And are there any types of email request that you think I've missed?

Kate x

Wednesday 12 September 2018

What's In My Travel Makeup Bag?

What's In My Travel Makeup Bag?

As you read this, my holiday will be almost at an end, so with any luck I am looking bronzed and feeling very chilled out and relaxed right now!

Before I went away, I filmed a What's In My Travel Makeup Bag, and it turned out I was taking a lot more stuff than I thought! Hopefully there are some bits and pieces in here that you will find interesting.

There are a couple of crazy lighting changes at the beginning of this video - it seems my single soft box light isn't quite enough to counteract the effects of the sun going in and out. It does get a lot more stable later on, so hopefully it's not too distracting. YouTube, like blogging in general, is definitely a learning curve!

As always you can watch the video right here or over on my YouTube channel if you prefer. Hope you enjoy!

I'm curious to know - do you travel light or heavy when it comes to makeup?

Kate x

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Beautiful Rose Based Skincare Products From Jurlique

Beautiful Rose Based Skincare Products From Jurlique

Every now and then I get invited to events. It's one of my favourite things about blogging and I always try to go when I can, although as I live a couple of hours away from London it's not always possible. When I was unable to go to a Jurlique event a few weeks back, I was really disappointed. Jurlique is perhaps best known for its rose based skincare products, and anyone who has read my blog for a while will know how much I love those! In fact, Jurlique's Rosewater Balancing Mist is one of my all time favourite products, and I would have loved to go along to the event to discover more from the brand.

So when the lovely PR who invited me offered to send me a few products anyway, you can imagine how thrilled I was! I've been using them for a while now, so it's about time I shared my thoughts with you.

Jurlique Radiant Skin Foaming Cleanser*

Jurlique Radiant Skin Foaming Cleanser

Jurlique Radiant Skin Foaming Cleanser Swatch

Like all Jurlique products, the Radiant Skin Foaming Cleanser is made from pure botanicals grown on the brand's organic farm in the South Australian hills. It contains Birch, Calendula, Spilanthes, Rosemary, Yarrow, Lemon Balm and Licorice to purify the skin and dissolve makeup and impurities, while very fine exfoliating minerals - which I cannot feel in the product at all - gently polish and refine the complexion. It also contains Rose Gallica to hydrate as it cleanses.

The cleanser feels silky on first application and gently foams up as you massage it into damp skin. There is a subtle rose scent to the product, which I love. On rinsing my face, my skin feels squeaky clean, and definitely had a radiance to it after I had been using the cleanser day and night for a few days. My only reservation with this product is that it might be slightly too strong for those with more sensitive skin than mine, but otherwise it is a lovely cleanser and I've really enjoyed using it.

Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist

Jurlique Rosewater Balancing Mist

This is the product I already owned and loved. While any product that smells of roses is immediately a hit with me, there is just something about this one that seems extra delicious, for some reason. The mist refreshes, rebalances and hydrates skin and is wonderful to use at any time of year as an extra little perfecting step in your routine, but especially in hot summer weather.

For a long time, I didn't really see the point of facial mists, but now I love them for their ability to perk up my complexion during a long day, as well as how beautifully refreshing they feel. This one from Jurlique will probably always be my favourite, mostly because of the wonderful scent, that makes me feel like a princess every time I use it. I'm very keen to try some of their other mists too!

Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus Revitalising Gel Lotion*

Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus Revitalising Gel Lotion

Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus Revitalising Gel Lotion

Jurlique Rose Moisture Plus Revitalising Gel Lotion Swatch

The rose fragrance is slightly fainter with this product than with the others, but still there. It's a very light consistency, almost a watery gel, and feels cooling on the skin, so it's been a lovely one to use throughout the warm summer weather. Despite the fact that it's so light, it definitely delivers on hydration, and I've found it suits my combination skin very well. It's also suitable for use morning and night, which makes it great for travelling, so I will probably be taking it on holiday with me in a few days time.

Jurlique Rose Hand Cream Handpicked Limited Edition*

Jurlique Rose Hand Cream Handpicked Limited Edition

Jurlique Rose Hand Cream Handpicked Limited Edition Swatch

I always think of really nice hand creams as being one of life's little luxuries, and this is probably one of the nicest I have ever tried - what a shame it's only limited edition! It's made from an exclusive rose extract, grown on the Jurlique farm and handpicked at first bloom for extra goodness. Again, this has the most beautiful rose fragrance and feels rich and nourishing without being greasy in the slightest, and leaves my hands feeling soft and hydrated. It's a lovely one to throw in your handbag or keep on your bedside table and really does feel like a special little treat whenever you apply it. If you're in the market for a new hand cream, I would definitely recommend this one.

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Have you tried anything from Jurlique?

Kate x

*Gifted product. Some links may be affiliate links. This poses no extra cost to you, the customer. All opinions, as always, are my own.
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