Category Archives: Fashion/Beauty

Everything fashion and beauty in my life

Santorini | Discovering handmade treasures when you travel | Greece

imageSomething I really love about travelling is the shopping – I can never resist a good market or a browse around a boutique filled with delicate handmade crafts. There’s something beautiful about the way so much effort is put into the creation and sourcing of such wonderful products. It’s just so pure when you come from a world of mass-produced fashion where everyone dresses the same and personal style can sometimes lack a bit of soul. I’ve always much preferred something a bit quirky, something not everyone else wears – I love clashing colours, bright prints and vibrancy that reflects my personality. When I traveled in Asia, the markets filled with tie-dye, patterns and colours were made for me, the delicate shall bracelets and coloured anklets were the stuff my dreams were made of and the cheap prices allowed me to reinvent my image every few days.imageWhen I was in Australia, even when things were a touch more expensive, I couldn’t resist the lure of a beautiful handmade jewellery shop in Darwin that has given me one of my favourite pieces of jewellery. Never leaving my ankle, this dainty silver piece was handmade and holds some of my most precious travelling memories close to me wherever I go. It’s amazing really how a well chosen memento can transport you back to a moment in seconds, how it can transform your day with just a glance by reminding you of happier times. Something handmade always seems that much more precious because of the time, effort and heart that has been poured into the creation of it. It just seems so much more special because it is a handcrafted reminder of not only the place, but the people who created it and the history behind it.imageSantorini was surprisingly a hidden gem when it came to shopping after warnings it was an expensive island. I actually found the shops very reasonably priced, especially for the quality of the items on sale. And actually having a suitcase with me instead of a backpack for once – it seemed rude not to indulge! While there didn’t seem to be any markets to browse, there were several shops and lovely little jewellery stalls scattered around Perissa, where we were staying. My favourite item of the holiday was without a doubt my mermaid dish, pictured at the top, it is absolutely beautiful and perfect for holding all my favorite jewellery. I love the shimmering shell and it was a total bargain for something that will fit beautifully with my room at home and make a perfect present for friends. For any other mermaids out there, it’s a perfect reminder of those gorgeous ocean blues when you’ve had a long day at work or the weather is kind of crappy at home.imageEverywhere you go in Greece there are shops selling handmade sandals, wallets and bags, and usually I’m not very interested. But when I stumbled across a little shop full of some of the most beautiful, and quirky, handmade sandals I’ve ever seen – plus a real-life cobbler whipping them up in front of my very eyes – I just couldn’t resist! This shop was amazing and I decided to treat myself to a new pair of sandals which are already the most comfortable shoes I own and I know I’ll have for a very long time. The cobbler was so friendly and even made my mother and I matching bracelets to wear with the shoes. The whole process of watching him create these beautiful shoes from pieces of leather and fabric was just amazing, and it was so lovely to witness as you were buying the shoes. It really gave you a sense of where the shoes came from and made them that much more special.imageFurther along the seafront we discovered a little shop with some of the most beautiful dresses, jumpsuits and jewellery adorning the rails inside. A total mish-mash of creative, colourful trinkets lined the shelves, including some rather odd items such as decorative penises, and a host of gorgeous decorations for your home and even photo albums. I couldn’t resist trying on this beautiful dress, and I found an amazing jumpsuit and dress for my mum, plus I treated her to a cute little bracelet as a reminder of the holiday. The staff were so friendly and put the emphasis on the handmade elements of the clothes and jewellery within the store, that was what really sold the items to us, the fact that they were one-of-a-kind with only one of each in the shop. That’s something you really struggle to find back home where everything is available in every colour and size, so it just means everyone has one.imageIf you’re looking for a handmade gift that is just a little bit more personal, why not try Forever Handmade – they focus on using centuries old techniques to create modern looking accessories. This post was a collaboration with Forever Handmade, but as usual, all views are my own.

What handmade treasures have you discovered while travelling? Which purchases have become treasured possessions?

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Backpacking | My ultimate girl’s packing guide for a long-term trip in Asia & Australia

11873736_10153005033717617_683763527235870508_nI used to love packing for a holiday – the time spent planning my wardrobe, the purchasing of sun lotion and beach towels. Those final moments trying to make everything fit and realising there’s just no way you’ll squeeze in another pair of sandals. I think I used to love it because it only happened once a year so I associated it with the excitement of going away. But now, after an 18 month backpacking trip across Asia and Australia, I think I can safely say, I’m done. When you’ve spent so long living out of a backpack, or trying time and time again to squeeze in your few possessions into your bag with just a few minutes to spare, it gets kinda old real quick. When I was packing for my holiday to Santorini two weeks ago, I thought “oh this will be easy having a whole suitcase to fill!” but how wrong I was – if anything the packing was a lot harder and more stressful. Having all this extra space just paved the way for me to cram more shoes, clothes and rubbish I didn’t need in my suitcase. I actually thought to myself how much easier it was to pack for a long-term trip because you’re less likely to indulge if you have to carry your life on your back.

I’ve started many times to write a packing guide for an extended trip, but have always ended up trailing off to something else. But when Shiply asked me to write about my top packing tips it seemed only right to explain how I managed to cram my life into a 65l rucksack to travel across Asia and Australia for a year and a half. So how do you pack for a long-term trip?11659517_10152807344362396_558828969069746182_n


Choosing a bag

I was lucky and already had a 65l backpack from when I did Duke of Edinburgh a few years ago, it was a good quality rucksack that had been in the sale in an outdoor shop in town. It was strong material, came with lots of useful pockets and had good, thick, supportive straps that would protect my shoulders. If you need to purchase a bag, think carefully when you do, don’t just buy the cheapest or the first one you see. In Asia, you spend a lot of time carrying your bag sometimes great distances, so it needs to be comfortable for your shoulders and it mustn’t be too heavy. If you ask me, 65l is perfect size especially for Asia, but it is also worth seeing if you can find a bag that also has wheels for when you reach Australia. Make sure the bag has strong material – I later had to buy one in Asia and the cheap material ripped very easily. If you’re heading just to Australia, get something on wheels. The whole concept of backpacking is different there and there is no actual backpack needed – you can take a one, but if you prefer you can just use a suitcase or a backpack on wheels which may give you a bit more space.


Shoes

Much like for soldiers in the trenches, as a backpacker, your feet and legs are everything to you. You walk everywhere and in Asia, you definitely don’t want to risk blisters or cuts from bad shoes that could lead to infections. I had a friend who skidded off a motorcycle and scraped the skin of his entire leg – he had a nightmare trying to protect the wound from dust and cleaning it each day. You want to make sure you have comfortable, good quality shoes that will support your feet and will last you. There are three types of shoes you definitely don’t want to leave home without:11751414_10152949592672617_3776395476331486033_n

  1. 1x trainers for walking/hiking and activities. I took Converse with me which lasted beautifully and were really comfortable even when I was hiking mountains and climbing through caves. I later bought some Nike running shoes over there which are my absolute favourite shoes ever.
  2. 1x rubber flip flops for using on the beach, in the showers (trust me) and everywhere else. I took Havianas at first but these broke within a week so I relied on ones from the market which were actually more comfortable and supportive.
  3. 1x sandals – this is where you can take something pretty for the evenings, something a bit smarter for when you hit the bars or want to go somewhere a bit fancier. I’ve found great sandals from Primark/New Look and similar shops that lasted me all around Asia.

Don’t take high heels. You don’t need them, no-one wears them in Asia and I barely saw anyone in them in Australia. They take up space and weigh a lot. Same goes for walking boots – unless you are going specifically just to hike and climb mountains the whole time, trainers will do.


Clothes

Now this is where it gets tricky. Let me start by saying forget all those beautiful boho Instagrams you’ve been stalking – forget the gorgeous floaty white lace items that will be ruined in a day. Keep it simple and keep it practical. If you’re heading to Asia – you want to take as little as possible and just buy clothes out there for a fraction of the price and a lot more traveler style – that’s what I did. I was lucky and already had a lot of summer/festival/traveler style clothes in my wardrobe so I didn’t actually buy much at all. It’s definitely best to use what you have and head to the markets when you arrive, but there are a few key items you want to make sure you remember:11136690_10152722008812617_6311377351277944564_n

Asia:

  • 2x bikinis – one practical for water activities like diving/watersports, and one pretty one for beach parties
  • 2x t-shirt/long-sleeved top to cover up when visiting temples
  • 1x full length skirt/trousers and 1x shorter skirt
  • 1x denim shorts – they go with everything and don’t show dirt!
  • 1x shorts
  • 3x  tops/vests
  • 2x dresses or playsuits (My wardrobe seems to be made up of one or the other, but I think they are the BEST for dressing up or down.)
  • Pants/socks/bras – you decide, but trust me you’ll need a lot less than you think. You’ll be spending most days in bikinis and flip flops, so keep it to a minimum. I took two bras, three pairs of socks and five pairs of pants.
  • 1x leggings and warm top – these are a MUST for when you’re on overnight buses/flights/trains and the air con is on full blast.
  • 1x scarf/pashmina – great for covering up in religious places and warming up if it gets chilly

Everything else you can buy there!11112211_10152889525942617_4295118282751061184_n

Australia:

  • 1x leggings/workout leggings – trust me, these were my most worn items when travelling around or during the winter.
  • 1x big shirt to wear over clothes (my checkered shirt was my fave travelling item and will be the first thing I pack when I go back!)
  • 1x jumper – trust me, Australia gets cold too and you will want a warm sweatshirt!
  • 1x jeans – if you arrive in winter like I did, these are a must!
  • 1x denim shorts, the staple of every travelling girl’s wardrobe
  •  When it comes to underwear you may want a little bit more with you as you’ll use them more in Oz and washing is more expensive.
  • 1x smart dress for job interviews/nights out to fancy clubs if you choose.
  • 5x tops – take a mixture of styles as the weather can vary depending on where you’re going
  • 2x bikinis – one practical for water activities like diving/watersports, and one pretty one for beach parties
  • 2x playsuits/dresses/skirts for nights out

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TOP TIPS:

  1. Always choose patterned and coloured items, white turns grey very quickly when you’re travelling and patterns will hide any unfortunate stains. Also, choose hard-wearing fabrics, don’t go for anything delicate or anything that will crease easily.
  2. If you have to buy clothes in Australia, head to the Op-Shops – they’re amazing and full of vintage/bargains often fresh out of the shops!

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Other practical items

These ones are good ones to remember for any destination:

  • A large padlock for lockers, or even the door to your hut.
  • A small torch
  • A travel towel – takes up half the space and dries much faster
  • Plastic bags – don’t waste money on packing cells when bags will do the same job, just don’t be the person who wakes everyone up rustling in the middle of the night.
  • A sarong for the beaches – don’t bother with a beach towel
  • Jacket/coat/raincoat – look carefully at the weather and time of year you are going. Winter in Australia – you need a jacket. Wet season in Asia – a raincoat is a good idea.
  • A hat – if you burn easily this is important for protection.
  • A smaller carry-on rucksack
  • 2x Adapters so you can charge multiple items

10407945_10153743643145744_3804068750240679927_nSo there you have it – my ultimate girl’s packing guide for a long-term trip. Best thing to always remember is that if you’re starting out in Asia it is a much better idea to buy clothes out there. If you’re spending several months in Asia and have no space to pack for Australia – why not do what I did and send a holdall of clothes back from Asia then either raid charity shops in Australia. Or if you fancy some of your slightly more stylish clothes from back home, get your mum to post out a few of your favourites from home. It’s much cheaper than you think to do this and it can be lovely to get a care package from home with all your favourite goodies, plus it’s always a lovely idea to send a package of gifts for your family. I sent mine a package of jewellery, coconut oil, clothes and Vietnamese coffee – what will you send back from your travels?

If you’re thinking of sending gifts home or want your family to send out packages to you, why not try out Shiply? The courier service will deliver to almost anywhere in the world and will take all manner of items – perfect for travelers all over the globe.

Disclaimer: This was a sponsored post but as usual all opinions are my own.10417584_10152668456562617_4921039091851626771_n

What are your packing essentials for a long-term trip? Which items have been your most worn when travelling?

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Travel | 5 amazing massages you must experience when travelling Asia

imageI may have been living on a budget since arriving in Australia, but travelling through Asia, there was something I never scrimped on. Even when we’ve given up all our worldly possessions in favour of a super-saver life on the road, we all have to admit that there are times when all us backpackers dream of a little luxury. One thing in particular I miss since being down under is massages – back in the UK my mum and I always made sure we had a little spa break booked in to treat ourselves. Both working pretty stressful jobs with constant deadlines, it was so nice to have a full day dedicated to relaxation and pampering every now and again. Even when I couldn’t afford a day at the spa, I’d often have an evening dedicated to facials, manicures and pampering at home. It’s important to look after yourself and to allow yourself the time to really unwind. So when I arrived in Thailand, I was over the moon to realise quite how cheap and incredible the massages were – I’m not gonna lie, at one point I was getting one every day for a week until I realised I was getting addicted. You really notice the difference as a traveller, especially when you’re sleeping on rubbish bunk beds with springs in your back, or when you’re spending all day walking the streets of Bangkok or up all night dancing at a party in the jungle. Trust me, that leaves your with sore feet and a few too many knots in your shoulders, plus, if you’ve just left a stressful job and life behind, it’s nice to treat yourself and not break the bank.

Travelling across Asia, you really start to notice the similarities and some of the differences between the massages you experience – you really become an expert in knowing when you’re getting a good massage or when you’re getting one from someone who has no idea what they’re doing. I actually walked out on two massages because the masseuses clearly had no idea what they were doing and were starting to hurt my feet – but that doesn’t even make a dent in how many incredible massages I had over the five months I spent travelling Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. The further afield you go, the more you get to experience slightly more unusual types of treatment which are often quite an experience in themselves. In this post, I’m going to focus on five main types of massage I experienced while in Asia – I’m sure there are many more but these were the most incredible and the ones I would seriously recommend you try for yourself when you pass through Asia.image

Foot/Neck Street Massage

It wouldn’t be a trip to Thailand without at some point experiencing a massage on the street as you watch the world go by and let the craziness of Bangkok wash over you. I love to people watch and this was a great place to do it after a long day of walking around the city. It was heaven to slip into one of these comfy chairs while a Thai man or woman massaged your feet, or shoulders. At only around 150 baht (around £3) you can’t really go wrong can you?! My favourite place to stop was right next to a little bar that always had live music playing and it was usually the perfect accompaniment to the massage.

Thai Massage

Now this one is an acquired taste – some don’t enjoy this vigorous massage and prefer something more relaxing but Thai massage has a great effect on the body. I always left a Thai massage feeling invigorated and revived, and it is great if your muscles feel tight from lots of activities – a bit like a deep tissue massage. I personally wouldn’t have this one very often because I found that sometimes my muscles ached afterwards because it was quite rough compared to other types of massage, but if you get the right masseuse it can be amazing! This one cost around 400 baht (£4) when I was there.

Full Body Oil Massage

My absolute favourite is the one with coconut oil – this was my special treat every few weeks. I loved the way the oil felt on your skin as you were massaged and it stopped the massage from being as rough as in Thai massage. Plus the smell of the oil was just divine, your skin felt incredible afterwards because it was so soft. My favourite coconut oil massage was the very first one I had where I lay on a platform facing the ocean just after sunset on a tiny Thai island, it was beautiful watching the clouds go all shades of pink and blue as the sun slipped further below the horizon and the waves lapped against the shore. This one cost 5-600 baht (£10-12) depending on where you were.

Four Hands Bliss Massage

This one was a pretty unique experience and one I couldn’t pass up. When I was in Cambodia, I stayed at a yoga retreat where they offered this type of massage and I was urged to give it a try. Two specially trained massage therapists would mirror each other’s movements and rhythm on your body to overload your sensory capacity and send you into deep states of bliss and relaxation. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I’m so glad I tried it, at just $20 USD it was a bargain! Many came out of this massage in a real daze they were so overwhelmed by the sensations, I personally found it very invigorating and was bouncing off the walls!

Blind Shiatsu Massage

Another experience I will never forget was my hour spent with Leab at the Cambodian retreat, he is actually the person who massages Angelina Jolie at a five star hotel not far away when she visits the country, but I got to experience the deep tissue massage for just $15 USD. This was just one week after a bad bus crash left me limping and in serious pain throughout my legs and especially in one knee. I didn’t even tell Leab about this but in seconds he could tell where the pain was and set to work, we barely spoke as his English wasn’t very good, but his hands were an absolute miracle. They made an incredible difference to the pain and stiffness in my legs, I walked out of there not limping for the first time in over a week. The whole experience, just being in his peaceful presence was so healing and I was gutted when it was over! If you ever get a chance to experience type of massage – do it!

imageEven just writing this I’m desperate for a massage – the last eight months of working and partying flag out, plus three months in the bush, haven’t done much for my knotted shoulders and aching back. My mum and I are already planning a mother-daughter spa day for when I return, and I can’t wait for it after working what was probably one of the worst jobs of my life. If you don’t already have a spa day planned or can’t spare the time and money to try these Asian delights – why not put aside some money each week and treat yourself a little closer to home? You could check out Urban Retreat’s Moroccan Hammam experience at Harrods which offers a centuries old full body experience to purify and revitalise the body and soul, including exfoliation. Anyone who’s tempted to book a massage after reading this post should have a look around and definitely consider treating themselves!

Tell me about your favourite spa experiences – were they in the UK or abroad? Have you tried these massages – what did you think? 

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* this post was a collaboration with Harrods

Indulge your inner festival queen with New Look

imageI’m taking a break from the travel posts today to cover one of my favourite topics – festivals! Anyone who knows me will know I’m a bit of a festival queen and that I can never turn down a chance to party on a beach, in the woods or in the beautiful English countryside. I love festivals and everything about them, but it is UK festivals that really hold a special place in my heart. So you can imagine how gutted I am not to be attending any this summer – I know, I know, I’m travelling the world, how can I be gutted about missing a rainy festival? Well trust me, if you’ve ever been to a UK music festival and completely lost yourself in the bizarre, the magic and the music for four days – you’ll understand. Becoming editor of This Festival Feeling gave me an amazing opportunity to attend as many festivals as I wanted, to experience them behind the scenes and to write about and review them. I’m a lucky girl to have this chance and it took me from being a girl who had never been to a festival to one who have been to around 15 in three years. After managing to fit five in last summer (including the amazing Secret Garden Party, BoomTown Fair and We Are FSTVL) you can imagine I feel a bit lost getting all these email updates as announcements are made and knowing I won’t get to see any of this amazing live music, I won’t get to cover myself in glitter and I won’t get to see all of these crazy things this summer.imageBut you guys will get the chance! So as many of you have been doing with my blog over the last four months, I will now be living vicariously through you as you party your way through the UK festival scene. One of the fun things about festivals is the complete freedom to be creative with the way you look and dress – I often find a stray piece of glitter while sitting at work weeks after a festival and find myself longing to be back in the fields covered in sparkles again. I love clothes anyway and am a bit of a shopping addict – don’t ask how heavy my backpack has become – but you’ll notice this is a my first fashion post! I never end up writing about fashion because I don’t really consider myself an authority on it, but New Look thinks otherwise and they have asked me to join their festival fashion campaign by picking out some of my favourite festival outfits from their new collection. In my book, New Look are a great source for affordable and cute outfits for festivals – I always refuse to spend mountains of money because let’s face it, festivals are messy and there’s no guarantee those outfits will still look good by the end. You want fun patterns, cute accessories and lots of glitter!

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So, just to help you guys out, I’ve already checked out the collection and put together two outfits I love so that you guys don’t have to do the legwork and deal with stuffy changing rooms. All of these can be ordered online from the comfort of your sofa, so you don’t even have to get dressed! My first outfit choice is this cute purple Ethnic Print Playsuit (£12.99) – I love playsuits because they’re cute and cover your modesty when you get a bit drunk, plus the pattern would look great with a tan! Team this with the Light Brown Leather Fringed Sandals (£27.99) because a sturdy pair of sandals is a must for me at a festival – I know the weather is supposed to be rubbish in England but out of my 15 festivals it has only rained at two of them. Wellies are hot and sweaty to dance in and even trainers can be a bit much – it gets hot in those tents! So why not embrace the sunshine and get your tootsies out? Do what I do and wear these in the day to let your feet breathe and then don the trainers for nighttime to keep warm. This summery combo would look great with lots of quirky jewellery, maybe a body chain or headband like the ones below – I always prefer the feathered or chain ones to the flowered. Plus plenty of rings – they are my weakness!

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My second choice of outfit is something more for nighttime because quite frankly it gets bloody cold when you move out of the hot sweaty tents and into the winds that whip across the fields in the UK. It’s always good to have a couple of cover ups – a cute jacket or kimonos are my personal favourite because of the flowing material. I love the colours in this White Tile Print Dip Hem Kimono (£19.99) and would definitely team it with some denim shorts and a bandeau crop top, which are both available from the collection. But it would be the Gold Linked Bar Body Chain (£7.99) that added the detail to the outfit along with the Gold Jewelled Drop Tikka Head Chain (£6.99) for some added fabulousness. Both of these outfits only come to around £40, as I’m sure you already have basics like denim shorts, and you could easily wear them after the festival as well which is great – if they survive! Make sure they are both teamed with lots of glitter, a dash of face paint and a hell of a lot of fun. Then load up the car with ciders, grab your mates and get to that festival!

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I’ve been super lovely to you guys and linked all of these pictures to where you can find the clothes on the website so you won’t even have to search for them if you just love them! To check out the rest of the collection, click here head to the New Look website and get that bank card ready.

Have you got any festivals planned this summer? What is your favourite festival fashion combo? Can anyone recommend any music festivals for me to check out in Australia and New Zealand? 

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*This was a sponsored post but all opinions are my own

#bodyUNashamed – A Tribute to Body Confidence

body 5The beautiful, funny and fabulous Penny of Lillies and Love invited me to be a part of her #bodyUNashamed campaign – and when I read all about it, I just couldn’t think of a good reason not to get involved with such a worthy project. It made me feel quite depressed when I suddenly realised how few women I knew that hadn’t made negative comments about their bodies, or felt like they had to cover up at some point in our friendship. Pretty much all of them had talked about their flab, picked at the non-existent rolls hanging over their jeans, had a breakdown before a night out because their clothes didn’t look right or even cried because they hated their skin.

There’s so much negativity out there and so much of it is directed at our bodies and the way we look, so much of this doesn’t take into account the amazing things we can do. Why do we look at stretch marks like they are disgusting when they are the mark of carrying a child and bringing it into the world? Why do we feel sick at the sight of that soft roll on our tummies when it is a sign of enjoying life, of eating birthday cake at parties, drinking cocktails and spending nights snuggling on the sofa instead of at the gym? And why do we cover our skin with lotions, make-up and creams in an attempt to turn back time when every line on our face marks a smile we’ve shared and a memory we treasure?body 3Don’t worry – I’m just as guilty. I love make-up and getting dressed up. I love working out at the gym and have been a bit of an addict in the past, and now I find it hard if I slip and get a bit soft around the edges. I’ve never actually had a breakdown, but I’ve certainly felt depressed if I wake up and my skin looks gross or my love handles feel a bit bigger. We all have, some are worse than others, but we’ve all been there. But now Penny is telling the world that this has to stop and – as she is someone who has suffered major body issues, even having plastic surgery at 20 – I think she has a bloody good point. There are 65 bloggers involved in the project and she wants to get us all talking about body image in a positive way – sharing good vibes and changing the way we all think about our bodies. Her message is:

I’d encourage each and every one of you to be proud of who you are and to embrace the #bodyUNashamed mentality. Be healthy, be happy, but never apologise for the way your body looks. Embrace it and help yourself and others to feel good about themselves!

body 4So I’m going to start by talking about what I hate most about my body and how I cope with it. My skin – while I love having a permanent tan – is really sensitive to products and can flare up with eczema and dry, itchy, sore patches at a moment’s notice. It hurts and takes a while to heal, but when it does, often the top layer of skin is damaged and leaves me with white patches – usually on my arms. After working on a tan all summer, this is pretty horrible for me and I find it looks horrible. I’m sure there are a lot of people who wouldn’t even notice it, but I know it’s there and it upsets me. It’s so frustrating when this happens as often there doesn’t appear to be a cause, all I can do is be careful with products and washing powder, and just ignore it. But I certainly will never let it stand in the way of living my life and being happy, and I don’t cover up my arms for anyone.

becky 1My next task is to pick on another blogger, and I have been assigned Becky of Becky Louise Beauty – lucky me because she gives me plenty to write about! At just 18, you can see from her posts and her gorgeous smile what a zest she has for life and her passion for the products she reviews shines through her posts. I love the way she is a bit of a nail addict, as I’m definitely one for the nail varnishes myself. She is really talented at nail art and gives fantastic tutorials on really cute looking nail designs and I’m going to be trying them out myself. She has such a great outlook on life and this is clear from her Twitter feed, and you can tell she must be a great radio presenter and Youtuber.

body 2My final task is to list three things I love about myself – not an easy task for anyone to do, but as Penny says, it is not about boasting – it is about being truthful. Often the mirror and the media will tell us lies, so it is important to be honest with ourselves. I’ve also used photos throughout this post from times when I remember feeling really confident and happy within myself.

  1. My smile – it is the thing that I am always remembered for and it obviously leaves a lasting impression. I’ve always been very lucky with my teeth, they are straight and white and I have no fillings at 24. Plus I love the way that putting a big smile on your face, even when you are feeling down, genuinely makes you, and others feel better. A smile makes the world go round.
  2. My bum – it is pretty big and jubbly and in a town full of white girls with flat ironed rumps, my booty is something spectacular. Sorry girls, I’d always want Beyonce’s butt over skinny old Miley’s – a heck of a lot more comfortable for sitting on!
  3. My muscle – I’ve worked hard to reach the level of fitness I was at before all the festivals and it makes me feel proud, happy and strong to see that my body is still pretty toned despite all the cider. Although I have a lot of work to do to get back to peak fitness again, I really like knowing that my hard work has paid off and I can see the results.

Now it’s your turn – why not share the part of your body you dislike the most, and the parts you love? Seriously, it really changes your outlook when you realise that for one thing you hate, there are three things you love.

Ab Lucy sign off

What a difference a dye makes and holding on to your hair

imageAnyone who has been reading this summer will understand how busy I’ve been, and so many things have slipped for me including the state of my hair and any kind of beauty/pamper routine. That’s why this weekend has been so lovely, because I haven’t over-planned and had left myself time to really treat myself. I took the time to host a Pamper Party for my girls, treated myself to a face mask and body scrub, and even dyed my hair! Finally! The last time I dyed my hair, a few months ago, I went all out and not only gave it a base colour of Black Cherry – to give it a really nice red colouring in the sunshine, and then added in my own bright red streaks underneath. (I used the Loreal Casting Creme Gloss with the Smart Beauty Highlights kit.) It doesn’t sound like something you should do at home, nor does it sound like it would look that great, but I felt a bit adventurous and actually just did the streaks myself one night. You can’t really see the base colour in the picture below because my room was dark, but you can see the streaks effect and I think they looked rather good for a first time effort on my own hair! I hadn’t really thought they would actually take to my dark hair so well, but was so pleased they did.

photo (10)Unfortunately, after I dyed it at the beginning of June, I then became super busy and had no time to give it  the touch up it needed. It still looked good and still held the colour well, but had obviously faded and although I still had plenty of good hair days where I loved my barnet, I had a fair few days where I wanted to tear it out because I felt it looked scraggy and messy. It’s amazing how much our hair affects us, our confidence and the effort we put into the rest of our appearance. Although my hair never actually made me feel down, it certainly affected how I felt about the way I looked in that time, but I never realised until I actually dyed it again this weekend. I went for my favourite all-over colour Black Cherry again, which  looked great in the sunshine yesterday. And although I also bought some Claret Red dip dye to try on the ends, I think I’m actually going to hold off on that and enjoy the all-over colour for a little while first. It has really made me appreciate my hair and particularly now that this dye seems to have made it look a lot healthier and fuller – it even seems to have hidden how much I really need a trim to tidy it up – so I’m happy!

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My hair has been through a lot of changes in the past few years – I’d always had shoulder-length to longer dark hair throughout school. Then suddenly, right before university, I decided to chop it all off and have a bob, which I loved and really enjoyed. But I soon realised how much effort short hair was after being forced to always do something with it and started to lust after longer hair again. You can see in my photos how my hair grew over the next few years and now I would say it is nearly the longest it has ever been. I loved having short hair, it really gave me a confidence boost and made all my clothes look totally different. I would definitely have short hair again, but not any time soon. In the between stages, I had lots of variations on fringes and long bobs, layered cuts and all the rest. In the end I decided to grow my hair out, mainly for my best friend’s wedding at which I was bridesmaid last summer. Ever since, I have continued to grow it and strangely it hasn’t annoyed me ye! I thought longer hair would get on my nerves but I love having it – particularly because it means washing it a hell of a lot less and that I have given up on brushing it. I also love that my hair has kept it’s natural curl instead of losing it with the extra weight.

Just going back to my comment about how hair affects your confidence, I wrote a feature the other day on a charity called Look Good Feel Better, for which a group of volunteers who give cancer patients makeovers to help them rebuild their confidence by showing them how to use make-up to redefine their faces after losing all of their hair through cancer treatments. It may sound trivial to some, like these people have a lot more to be worrying about, but actually, when you think about it.. so many women and girls are diagnosed with cancer and all of our society are so obsessed with appearance that the loss of your hair, eyelashes and eyebrows is a big thing. It is something that makes us feel vulnerable at a time when we are physically at our weakest, a time when what we really need to feel is strong enough to beat this thing. It is a charity that takes a woman, and helps her make friends who understand what she is going through, a charity that puts a smile on the face of a woman who has terminal cancer. It make others feel confident to stand in front of their families without a wig on for the first time, and makes others fee brave enough to tackle everyday life. Make-up and hair is more than just stuff, it is a shield against the world and when life takes that away from you, you have a right to demand it back. (Read here)

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How attached to your hair are you? How do you think you would feel if suddenly it was taken away from? Any suggestions for what colour I should try next?

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Product junkies let loose at my Body Shop Pamper Party

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Bank holiday weekends are always busy, usually full of rich foods and lots of cocktails and dancing, so sometimes it’s nice to start off with a bit of a chilled one and some time to catch up with some of your girls. I was lucky enough to win a free Body Shop Pamper Party earlier in the week, along with a free bottle of wine and a goodie bag (see above) after I was one of the first to like a post by a local Body Shop at Home consultant – I couldn’t actually believe it as I very rarely win anything. I’m always entering competitions but have only won like twice in my life and have always won rather rubbish prizes. This one was brilliant and a perfect excuse to get some of the girls that I haven’t seen for ages round for a good catch up and a chance to indulge the product junkies inside. I was lucky enough to book the party in for the same Friday and was so glad because otherwise it might have had to wait until well into September, and I managed to pin down three of the girls who weren’t working.

Sophie, the Body Shop consultant, headed to my house with a suitcase full of products in tow and talked us through all of the lovely Body Shop lotions and potions. I’m a big fan of The Body Shop anyway and always have a selection of their products on my shelves – at the moment I’m using their Vitamin E Facial Oil and the Vitamin E Intense Moisture Cream at night which are perfect for rehydrating my skin after festival season. Sophie had a huge range of bath and shower products for us to smell and try out, plus the lovely peppermint foot range – of which I couldn’t help but make a cheeky purchase – along with some of the beautifying oils and scents. It was great to have a good look through the brochures, check out the deals and try out the products because I haven’t had the chance to pop into an actual shop for ages. Sophie had a range of special deals only available at the parties, so I was already getting a better offer than if I had gone into a shop. My peppermint foot collection was £9 cheaper than if I had bought it in a store, and the girls snapped up some great bargains as well.

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We also played a few games which had us all laughing as the girls attempted to come up with a memory of their hostess – most of which involved huge amounts of alcohol and crazy dancing, one even involving a fancy dress wolf’s head on a night out! After this, Sophie also demonstrated on my hands the use of the coconut exfoliator, shower cream and body butter with a lovely hand massage as the other girls practised on each other. It was a really nice treat and a perfect way to spend a Friday night before a big weekend – especially after a hectic few weeks! It was lovely to have a bit of a pamper and to have some chill time with the girls, and to try something a bit different that doesn’t involve any alcohol, as most of us were working the next day. It was even perfect for one of the girls who works at rival brand Lush and was  a bit worried she would spend the night judging the Body Shop’s products, instead she ended up making a few purchases!

It was a really great night and I’m so glad I won! A huge thanks to Sophie for the party and, if you fancy a girls night of your own – head to her Facebook page for more details and to book.

Have you had a Body Shop Pamper Party? What did you think? And what are your favourite products from the range?

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Staying Beautiful At Festivals – What To Pack

sgpI’m trying my hand at something new here – not usually a beauty blogger but I’m always up for a challenge and this post combines beauty with one of my favourite things – festivals! As editor of This Festival Feeling I am always looking for the latest trends in beauty, fashion and music at all the top festivals. We are well into festival season now and with Glastonbury right around the corner, it is the perfect time to dig out those pots of glitter, those fabulous fake eyelashes and all those outrageous lip colours you’re just too scared to wear to work. For those who tend to stick to a bit of foundation, a simple eye-liner flick, and a clear gloss, festivals provide the perfect opportunity to experiment with colours and textures. For those who already love a flamboyant look, this is the time to really unleash the beast within and go all out.

So what are my beauty must-haves for festivals? Well I always have two lists – the essentials and the fun stuff.

Festival Beauty Essentials:

  • Make-up wipes are so necessary after a night of dancing in a sweaty tent, and to scrub all that glitter off your face to start again the next day.
  • Moisturiser with SPF is a great shout, with all the alcohol and (fingers crossed) sunshine, your skin will quickly dry out and if you’re out all day in the sun, it is always helpful to have that extra bit of protection.
  • Under-eye concealer is an absolute life-saver after a long night of dancing and drinking. Let’s be honest, who wants to spend a festival asleep? But that does leave those rather unforgiving shadows to deal with.
  • Sunglasses – yes I know these are a tad more fashion-y, but they do hide a multitude of sins and whether you’re dancing in the sunshine, in a tent with a huge light show, or just suffering a huge hangover, they always come in handy.
  • Nail files are a must for me, I’m such a clutz and always dive in without thinking, which means I always end up breaking my nails. I can’t stand being left with jagged edges so I always carry a file to touch up.
  • A black eye-liner (preferably felt-tip like the one from Collection 2000) these are amazing for doing smooth flicks but also for fancy dress make-up e.g. cat make-up!
  • Compact mirrors are so helpful. If you’ve ever been to a festival and realised how rubbish the ones in portaloos are if they even have them, and quite how bad they smell, you’d realise the importance of taking your own. Although I’m not sure how badly you’ll want to look in it by the final day!
  • Bright lipsticks combined with a great pair of shades really can complete the festival look. When you’ve just surfaced and all you want is a pint and a burger, if you can’t be bothered to slap anything on, grab these two and you’ll be ready to go!

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Fun Beauty Extras for Festivals:

  • GLITTER! Always my favourite, all different colours and plenty of it! Where else can you get away with having glitter all over your face and body? It takes any average make-up look into full festival-mode instantly.
  • Fake eyelashes are a great addition, but only if you go for the extra fabulous ones with gems or feathers – if you go for the plain ones it’s really not worth the hassle and the time of putting them on.
  • Feathers are a fantastic way of jazzing up festival make-up, you can easily attach them around the eyes or hairline with eyelash glue or make-up glue for dramatic effect.
  • Gems and beads also can easily be glued on and will look stunning around the forehead and eyes – why not sit round with the girls and do each others’ before heading into the festival fields?
  • Face-paint can be another great way of splashing festival fun all over the place, neon colours always go down a treat and it is so simple to do designs for your friends.

Whatever happens, unless you have serious cash to spare – don’t be tempted to get a “makeover” or be “glittered” by one of the stalls because that will often knock you back £20 and quite frankly, it is more fun to do it with your friends and save the cash for the bar. Pictured, you’ll see a couple of my own festival beauty looks – I had a lot of fun dressed up as a leopard at Zoo Project Festival and I can’t wait to go back to Secret Garden Party in a month – it really is the home of glitter and all things flamboyant! What about you guys? Are you heading to any festivals this summer? What looks will you be going for? Share your festival make-up ideas below!

Happy Festivalling!

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*This post was originally a guest post – click here to see the original.

The great beard debate

tumblr_mvbsagkhlF1qkkn30o1_500Okay, I admit it. I have a weakness for beards. I know there are  many girls out there who cringe at the thought of a boyfriend with a beard, but for me it is all I have ever known. At 16, my boyfriend had a full beard and I swear it took a while to get used to, but then it reached the point where he shaved it and I was actually freaked out by the sight of his naked face. There’s something that seems just a little strange about seeing someone’s bare face for the first time after it’s been buried under a beard for as long as you have known them. Now we are eight years down the line and I can honestly say I have not seen him completely full shaven for nearly as long – but I prefer it that way.

e1c59865ccfb3b1ca9e19e50c0410fa6Although it took a little getting used to, now I wouldn’t ever let him shave it. Of course it is important to keep a beard well-maintained and trimmed neatly, but I think it is ridiculous to expect men to shave every day. Fair enough there are those bare-faced boys who struggle to grow a few stragglers on their chins, but I’m sorry boys, this is firmly the era of the beard. Something most of us women knew a long time ago is that beards are sexy and they do make a man sexier. Need proof? Which one of these guys do you find the most attractive?

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So let’s weigh up our options. We have the option of spiky chins that leave us with stubble rash and require trimming or shaving every few days to keep up, there’s those soft, baby-faced boys who have never seen a razor or there’s the men who have shaped their beards into a part of their character and who have turned the humble facial hair into a fashion statement. I think that is what I like about beards the most – when I see a guy with a beard, I think to myself he looks quirky and interesting. Don’t get me started on moustaches.

If you, or your fella, are thinking about growing a beard – make sure you are doing it with the right principles in mind. It is important to remember that width isn’t necessarily as good as length, but at the same time you need a good volume to it. You must take care of your beard, moisturise and condition it to keep it looking good otherwise it is no better than the beard of a homeless person. It must be trimmed or shaved down regularly to keep it looking awesome. This next picture is a good guide for when your beard gets too big.

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Where do you stand on the beard debate? Love them or hate them?

 

A beauty of a post – My favourite natural remedies

Ben Sutherland

Ben Sutherland

As someone who has suffered from eczema, bizarre allergic reactions and dry patches on my skin all my life, I thought it was about time that I shared the fantastic remedies I have come across over the years that not only have saved me hundreds of pounds but have actually healed these problems far quicker than prescribed treatments. My mum and I have made a bit of a mission out of finding natural alternatives that will help to solve such problems in a way that won’t upset the natural balance of my body and that won’t cause further problems as a result of the harshness of the treatment.

I have never been one of these girls to spend a fortune on a product unless I know that it will work or it is something I really want to try as a treat – often I will turn to my own kitchen cupboards to find unprocessed products that are less likely to irritate the skin in turn. I particularly enjoy simple products and treatments because it can become complicated to work out which ingredient you are allergic to or simply does not agree with your skin type.

Now, these are a mixture of health-related remedies and beauty remedies that will hopefully help to boost your skin and give you the confidence boost you need, because we all know how devastating it can be to get a spot or a red patch on your face before a big night out!

  1. Olive Oil is my top recommendation for anyone who suffers from dry skin – people always look at me like I’m mad over this one but it is really good for your skin, fairly cheap and accessible and pure – which is the most important thing! I always put it on dry patches before bed (although avoid any oily patches because this may block pores causing spots) and after a few days of doing this there is a huge improvement. It is also great for encouraging growth of eyelashes and eyebrows and for strengthening nails – rub into them before bed and you’ll notice the difference even overnight.
  2. Coconut Oil is another great one but this time for any part of the body. It’s something that is used liberally in Mauritius (where my father is from) and it smells amazing. Great for giving your skin a healthy glow and a great shine for hair but countless other uses.
  3. Tea Tree Oil is fantastic for clearing up spots by drying them out, be wary if you have dry skin because this will dry it out further, but works quicker than any spot treatment I’ve ever used. Also good for fungal toenails (more common than you think!).
  4. Water is no secret to us all, our bodies are mostly made up of water and dry out easily so drinking plenty will help to rehydrate your skin and get rid of those dry patches – alcohol and coffee (and fizzy drinks) all dehydrate your skin. Also, sleep is equally vital – the less sleep you get, the worse your skin looks – Fact.
  5. Red peppers and tomatoes – it took me years to finally realise it, despite saying plenty of times to my mum as a child that “momoes make me itch”, but these are nightshade plants which irritate the skin and many people are actually allergic to them. If you keep getting red patches and eczema flaring up – especially if it is sore, inflamed and red, try cutting these out and see the difference over a few weeks.
  6. Dairy products – excessive amounts of dairy, particularly if you are a big milk drinker, can cause your skin to become unhealthy, looking pale and oily. These changes can cause you to develop more spots. I personally am not big on milk, I even use water in my porridge and don’t drink tea of coffee, but I do love cheese. So I find it easy to cut these out – but if you are suffering from bad breakouts and have a dairy-heavy diet, try cutting back and see if it helps.
  7. Bio-Oil, or Vitamin E Oil is amazing, as many of us already know, for evening skin tone and reducing the appearance of acne scars, stretchmarks or anything at all. Plus it smells amazing and hydrates your skin really well. Freshly squeezed lemon juice or boiled tea bags can also help to lighten marks and scars, or even under eye bags, according to a friend of mine.
  8. Sugar, honey and oats, plus fruit – sounds delicious right? Forget eating it, put it on your face and use as a scrub/face mask – it’s great for freshening up your skin, revitalising it and getting rid of dead skin cells. There are countless combinations of these ingredients but all work well – just use whatever you have in the cupboard!
  9. Aloe Vera (there is a gel available from Holland and Barrett) is great for soothing red or inflamed skin, particularly with eczema when you are afraid to use other products which might make it worse. It is soothing and cooling at the same time.
  10. Nuts such as almonds and egg are both great for glowing skin, I’ve never used egg because it grosses me out but I’m happy to eat both of these! Almonds and almond oil are great for the skin whether you eat them or spread them on your skin. Eggs can be used in a face pack and apparently are great for wrinkles.
  11. Exercise – if you really want glowing skin, work up a sweat and get that healthy, rosy glow from running around outside, fresh air and hard work will do wonders for your complexion.
Chandrika Nair

Chandrika Nair

So there you are, just some of the great natural remedies for dealing with acne, eczema, dry patches, red patches and anything else along the way in your quest for glowing skin. It’s important to remember that everything you put in your body you wear on your skin so if you live on a diet of shit, you’re going to look like shit! Main advice is eat healthy, exercise and be happy – if you feel rubbish then often it shows on your face and affects both your skin and hair. If you are run-down, no amount of make-up can hide that, so why not start from the basics and eat more fruit and veg, drink more water and move more? You’ll be amazed at the results.

Have you got any home remedies that you use to keep looking healthy and glowing? Any that have been passed down through the family?