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Sunday, 31 July 2016

In Retrospect | July 2016

Well, I don't know about you, but July has disappeared before my eyes! That's probably down to being off work; I'd hoped to get lots done before starting my new job but that hasn't really happened... I haven't really done anything exciting this month, to be honest, but let's have a little look at July anyway, if only for the sake of tradition!
Omg. So many empties. To be fair, the mascaras aren't actually empty, they've just reached that point where I'm very conscious that I've had them open waaaay longer than the six-month rule, so I've finally got round to rotating them out to try some new ones before I give myself an eye infection. #BadBeautyBlogger
Will Repurchase: The Body Shop Hemp Body Butter | You'll always find a Body Shop body butter or two in my stash, and the Hemp range is brilliant for my eczema-prone skin. // Swimovate Poolmate Swimmer's Shampoo | I love the coconut scent and this has seemed to work really well to prevent chlorine building up in my hair. Already onto my second bottle! // Carmex Lip Balm | I mentioned this in my post about beauty products I'll never be without, so you won't be surprised to hear I've already repurchased this little number, albeit in the Cherry version! // GOSH Forever Eyeshadow Stick in 'Beige' | I'm so sad to have finished this! It's the perfect cream shadow in a handy stick format, great on its own or as a base. I'll finish some other cream shadows first but will definitely buy again! // Neal's Yard Garden Mint & Bergamot Hand Cream | I loooove NYR hand creams and always pick them up when they're free with magazines! This one smelt lovely.
Might Repurchase: Merumaya Melting Cleansing Balm | I loved the texture of this on my skin and it worked well to dissolve make-up. I'm obsessed with trying new cleansers though so I don't know when I'll buy this again. // Merumaya Mud Marvels Mask | I really liked this mask, it felt like it did a good job of cleansing my skin without being harsh or drying. // Sure Bright Bouquet Anti-Perspirant | I never feel like spray deodorants are as effective as cream/stick ones, I just tend to keep one in my bag to freshen up - this did the job & smells quite nice! // Dr Organic Manuka Honey Conditioner | I'm still not 100% sold on the scent of this, which was very strong, but it did leave my hair feeling soft and well-conditioned.
Won't Repurchase: Superdrug Dry Skin Relief Lotion | I've had this ages, having obviously bought it before I figured out that my eczema hates Mineral Oil. I've used it up for the sake of finishing it. // Blistex Orange & Mango Lip Balm | This was a Poundland buy and whilst it smelt/tasted amazing, it wasn't the most moisturising, so I'd probably skip it in future. // Dove Maximum Protection Anti-Perspirant | I actually didn't mean to buy this (I thought it was the Sure one in very similar packaging) and it didn't work as well for me, so once I've used up the other one (trust me to buy two of the wrong thing!) I won't be buying again. // Tarte Gifted Mascara | Despite the packaging being bloomin' gorgeous, this was distinctly average as far as mascaras go, and it smelt weird. // Dr Organic Aloe Vera Shampoo | This smelt good but doesn't seem very well suited to my super-oily scalp - perfectly nice but not for me! // Maybelline Full N' Soft Mascara | I'm clearly not very loyal to mascara! This was alright, but I don't think it's actually even available in the UK? // Nuxe Rêve de Miel Hand Cream | Unpopular opinion alert; I don't really like the scent of Nuxe products. I just thought it was too strong in this, which isn't ideal when your hands are as sensitive as mine.

Sample Sachets
I've decided to stop doing my 'Six Mini Reviews' posts as they'd started to feel like an obligation rather than something I was writing because I wanted to... But I still want to share the sample sachets I've tried, so you'll be finding a wee round-up in each month's post!
Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24H Foundation | Good coverage but it didn't last brilliantly on my oily skin, so I wouldn't buy the full size (£30/30ml here) // Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Skin Therapy Oil | Well this smells incredible! The sachet got a bit messy but the pump on the full-size sounds ideal - I'm sorely tempted (£10.49/150ml here) // Clarins Multi-Active Day Cream | I think this is intended for skins more mature than my own, although it did smell really nice & left my skin well-prepped for make-up (£42/50ml here) // Dermalogica PreCleanse | I love a good cleansing oil and this worked really well! I'd definitely consider buying a full-size bottle, though it is pricier than I'd like (£34.35/150ml here) // FOREO Night Cleanser | I quite liked the texture of this although I wasn't keen on the scent - I did feel like it cleansed my skin well but probably wouldn't buy again (£30/100ml here) // Garnier Ultimate Blends Weightless Nourisher Balm | This actually made my hair feel so nice! If it weren't for the fact it's silicon-based, I'd definitely buy again (£4.49/300ml here) // Pilaten Black Head Pore Strip | I've tried this before and my views haven't changed; it's great for extracting every hair it touches, but didn't seem to do much for my blackheads. Also, ouch. (£4.10/60g here)

July Goals
You can catch up with the goals I set myself for July if you're interested in the full post... Otherwise, read on to see how I got on!
 Run at least twice a week. This has actually been a lot easier than I expected because I didn't renew my gym membership when it expired, meaning I've had no choice but to run. I've been running 3-4 times per week, usually around 3 miles, but on one occasion 7.5!
See friends at least twice. Yep! One evening walk with a couple of friends and one pub quiz night with a larger group of friends - tick! Even if we did just mostly talk about Pokémon...
Finish the month at least £600 from the bottom of my overdraft. I over-achieved on this by about £100, which I'm pleased about because my car insurance is due in August and I haven't had a proper payday in July! I've paid about £7 less in interest on my overdraft this month, so it's nice to see the hard work saving paying off a little. I won't be setting an overdraft goal for August due to the July payday/car insurance situation, but I'll be picking back up in September with a vengeance!
Carry on clearing out in my bedroom. Oh-ho, I did this good and proper! I've taken about four bin bags full of stuff to the charity shop and thrown out a good load more - all the time off has been put to good use! I've cleared out a whole heap of things I was hoarding and replaced it with a new bookcase which I love. I addressed both the book situation and the top of my wardrobe, which were the two areas I mentioned in my goals post, so I'm happy with this one!
Reach 3k followers on Twitter and 1k on Instagram. I hit my Twitter target around the 12th of July and am actually now well over 3.1k, so I'm pretty pleased with that one. I've had by far my best month in terms of growth on Instagram but fell short of my target, having been hovering around 980 followers for the last few days - so close, and yet so far. I'm hopeful I can hit that milestone in August, though! I've been making a lot more effort with Insta lately and have been really enjoying the platform. [If you want to follow me here, I'll send you virtual cookies!][Update to add: I actually hit 1000 around 10pm, yay!!]

July Loves
Kay Cake Clefairy Inspired Makeup
How cute is Kay's Clefairy-inspired make-up look?! Pokémon Go has really taken over this month and I love her creativity in coming up with this look!
Robowecop The Dangerous Side Of Wellness Blogs
I've been stalking Rhianna over at Robowecop pretty much non-stop lately (can we say "massive girl crush"?!) and basically love everything she writes, but her post about the dangerous side of wellness blogs really stuck a chord with me. Having worked with young people with eating disorders, I totally agree with Rhianna that a lot of the current "clean eating" movement can encourage extremely unhealthy relationships with food, which can be so incredibly destructive and in the worst cases, fatal. Bonus: her post on being relatable as a blogger is also a crackin' read!
17 things that happen when you start playing Pokémon Go
Hannah shared her hilarious summary of 17 things that happen when you start playing Pokémon Go and it was disturbingly accurate!
I loved Charlotte's three-month update post about her gorgeous daughter Daisy Nelle. I've followed Charlotte's blog for years and have read with baited breath through the first six weeks of Daisy's life, spent in hospital; I was so pleased for them all when she was finally able to go home, and it's amazing to hear how well little Daisy is doing now!
Here on The Indigo Hours, favourite posts have included how to set goals (+ achieve them!), a 'Summer Styles' make-up look with the #BeautiesOnFire collab, and my top tips for nailing a graduate job interview. Make sure to check them out if you haven't already!!

July in Summary
It's actually been quite a weird month; I worked a few shifts at the start of the month in my old job, and spent most of the rest of the month waiting for DBS clearance to come through to start my new one. It's finally arrived and I've got a start date of the 1st of August (tomorrow! eek!) so July has been a bit of a limbo really. I meant to get a bit ahead with my blogging and get a few posts scheduled in so I'm not stressing when I do finally start the new job, but, erm, then Pokémon Go happened and I became utterly distracted with trying to catch a Jigglypuff, so we'll just have to see how August goes I guess! Please bear with me if things are here, there and everywhere over the next couple of weeks...
This ended up as a very lengthy post, so thank you for your dedication if you reached the end! How has your July been? I'd love to hear what you've been up to!

[Photo credits to bloggers mentioned & linked. Post contains affiliate links.]

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Introducing | Skintifique Skincare*

Recently, I was introduced to the French/American skincare brand Skintifique, who aim to create products which are suitable for people with dry or sensitive skin, or those with skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Having suffered with eczema my whole life, I'm always keen to try out products which offer to help, and I was really intrigued by the fact that Skintifique claim to use only active ingredients which are proven to be effective, and seek to use as few ingredients as possible in their products.
I was very kindly sent their Hydrating Gel Plus* and Moisturizing Lotion* to try out. Both these products (and, indeed, the whole Skintifique range) are hypoallergenic and free from ingredients including parabens, silicon, mineral oil, EDTA, and fragrance; now the claim 'hypoallergenic' just means 'low allergy', so you are less likely to be allergic to a product, as common allergens are excluded. Still, it is theoretically possible to be allergic to the product, so you'd need to test the product to be sure.
Skintifique Moisturizing Lotion claims to "hydrate and protect from metal irritants such as nickel and chromium", which apparently are common skin irritants - I didn't know that, but it makes sense, and these metals are often found in everyday items such as jewellery and watches, coins and clothing, doorknobs and even our phones - so if you do happen to be sensitive to them, you are likely to struggle with your skin - maybe without even knowing why. Meanwhile, Skintifique Hydrating Gel Plus is designed to provide "long-lasting hydration with 40% moisturisers to hydrate and soothe sensitive or very dry skin". Both products are fragrance-free, and I can't detect any scent at all from either of them.
My skin is, in a word, unpredictable; it can plod along merrily for weeks at a time, and suddenly flare up for no readily apparent reason. This happened a few days ago, on the inside of my left elbow; it was fine, and then suddenly it was inflamed, red, itchy and weeping, and I still have no idea why. Using the Moisturizing Lotion on this area actually worked immediately to stop the itching and calm the skin down, which surprised me, as generally I have to put up with itching for at least a couple of days as the skin recovers. The Skintifique Moisturizing Lotion worked really well to bring my eczema flare-up under control quickly, and it's a product I can see myself adding into my routine. I also love that it comes in a pump bottle, which is super-hygienic and easy to use, and the lotion absorbs quickly, feeling quite light on the skin.
My hands are often dry and I'm an absolute hand cream fiend, you'll never catch me without a tube! They're in my handbags, my car, by my bed, by the basin in the bathroom... Hand cream is an essential for me, and this is how I've been using the Skintifique Hydrating Gel Plus; it immediately makes my hands feel smooth and comfortable, no matter how itchy and tight the skin is. It feels a little tacky on the skin, but only for a minute or so, which is easily manageable.
You can find Skintifique products on Amazon; the Hydrating Gel Plus is £23.90 for 40ml here, whilst the Moisturizing Lotion is £18.90 for 200ml here. I have to say that I probably wouldn't buy the Hydrating Gel Plus again as, for me, it isn't a must-have; my skin fares equally well with other, cheaper hand creams, and I wouldn't be using it on larger areas of my body, though I imagine if you suffer with dry skin or eczema on your face, it would be ideal. The Moisturizing Lotion, however, is a product I'll seriously consider picking up again to use on random flare-ups; a little goes a long way so whilst it is expensive, I think it's good value for money.
Have you ever suffered from eczema or similar skin conditions? Would you try Skintifique products?

[*Product provided for consideration. Post contains affiliate links.]

Thursday, 28 July 2016

#BeautiesOnFire Week Two | Summer Styles

So it's time for week two of the #BeautiesOnFire collab already (if you missed them, you can catch the intro post here, and week one's Classic Beauty theme here!), and this week's theme is summer styles. I think it's quite fitting, given that the UK has suddenly been hit with the Great British Summer over the last fortnight or so; admittedly, it's all-but-over now, but it's been nice to be reminded what sunshine looks like...
I tend to find myself being a little bit more experimental with my make-up in the summer; you can get away with brighter colours and bolder looks when the sun is shining! And of course, if all else fails, you can always hide behind a pair of shades... I've been trying to get into the habit of starting my make-up routine with a layer of lipbalm, and I've just picked up a new pot of Carmex - I went for the Cherry version this time and I looooove it!
When the weather is hot and sticky, you don't want to be wearing a thick, heavy base - I certainly prefer something lighter in the summer months, and at the moment I've been loving Lacura's CC Cream. I love it because it gives a decent coverage without feeling heavy on the skin, with the added bonus of SPF15 to protect from those harmful UV rays.
I'm really loving George at Asda's Super Boost Concealer at the moment (review coming soon!) - I think it's the best I've tried in terms of coverage, as well as not creasing. It seems to be pretty much budge-proof once it's on which is always good! Here I'm wearing the peachy shade from my Topshop 'Up In The Air' Cream Blush duo, blended out, with a little bit of super-budget ChitChat Highlighter on my cheekbones. I'm all for glow in summer, but with my oily skin powder is a must to keep my make-up on my face; Natural Collection's Pressed Powder* has been my most-reached-for lately. I've also gone in (with a really light hand) with a sweep of Natural Collection Bronzer*, just to warm things up, around my temples and the bridge of my nose. For brows, at the moment, I'm loving Benefit's newly relaunched brow range - Goof Proof Brow Pencil to fill them in, and Gimme Brow to add a bit of volume and keep everything in place!
On my eyes, I love a bright pop of colour - this is 'Too Turquoise', a sparkly Models Own eye pencil which has long since been discontinued... But I still love it! Waterproof mascara is always a good idea if you're likely to be sweating, or anywhere near a pool/beach (I wish!) and I'm really liking this Natural Collection Waterproof Mascara* at the moment - nice and black, and it gives good definition to my lashes. Finally, I've popped a bit of Tarte's lipgloss in 'Exquisite' on my lips, although to be honest on a day-to-day basis I don't really wear a lot of lip products.
What do you think of my summery make-up look? What are your must-have products for summer? Don't forget to check out the other looks in the #BeautiesOnFire linkup below, and you can read Elisabeth's intro post for all the details here!

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

How to Set Goals (+ Achieve Them!)

So a few weeks ago, I posted a little update on my 2016 goals, and realised I'm actually doing a lot better with them than I thought, which got me thinking about how I set goals and what I do to try and achieve them! I'm not the world's best goal-setter by a long chalk but I am pretty stubborn, so when I set myself a goal I like to achieve it. Here are a few of the ways I like to make sure I'm workin' on my goals!
Choose Wisely.
By which I mean, set goals that you care about. Set goals that matter to you. The best way to ensure you're motivated to achieve your goals, is to set ones that have value you to you, personally. If you're not bothered about getting a promotion at work or running a marathon, you ain't gonna work for it!
How do you achieve something without knowing what you're aiming for? Instead of "lose weight", why not say "lose x lbs" or "reach x weight" or (if, like me, you're more interested in your body than your actual weight) "fit into x outfit". If you want to save up for a holiday, work out how much you need to save up - £800 is a much easier goal than an indeterminate number!
Make Yourself Accountable.
It might mean telling your Mum or your best friend, or keeping a note in your planner - in my case, I share my monthly goals here on my blog! Having someone who knows what you're aiming for and who is able to check up on your progress, will make you that much more likely to stick with it, in my experience. Telling yourself you don't need to go for a run today is one thing, but try telling your sister who knows you're training for a 10km that you don't fancy it - I don't think so!
Break It Down.
Some goals are bite-sized to start with but other, bigger goals can be a little daunting. If you can break them down into more manageable pieces, it can be far less overwhelming for you! So if you need to save £800 for that holiday, try breaking it down into £50 a week - as well as sounding far less scary, £50 is much easier to visualise than your overall target, so you're more likely to feel positive about it. One of my goals for the year is to get out of my overdraft - but with a £2000 overdraft, I've found that setting myself a smaller goal each month is making it far less terrifying prospect!
Check In Often.
This is one I need to work on more, as I actually hadn't looked back at my goals for the year until I came to write about my progress - which is why I was so surprised at how well I was doing! Ideally, you want to check in on a regular basis so you can see how far you've come and keep yourself on track. If you can see your progress, it's really motivating to keep working at your goals! A weekly weigh-in, running the same route once a month, or tracking your savings each month, can all help you to really visualise your progress and what you've got left to achieve.
Learn From Your Failures.
No-one is perfect, and it's okay to sometimes fall short of your goals! This is something I really struggle with as I can be a real perfectionist, but life is about taking the not-so-good with the good and learning from your experiences. Okay, so you didn't quite reach your target for your 5km run this week - what could you do differently? If there's something you know you should be doing, falling a little short can be a real kick to get you to just bite the bullet and do it. Like me and hilly runs...

What are your goals at the moment? Do you have any pearls of wisdom for keeping on track with your goals and making sure you achieve them?


Sunday, 24 July 2016

Review | Born Pretty Candy-Coloured Brush Set*

A few weeks ago now, I was sent a selection of products to try out from Born Pretty, including this five-piece brush set* which I chose because of the handy case they came in - I thought it would be perfect to keep the brushes clean and safe whilst travelling! But at less than a fiver for the whole set, are they any good?
Born Pretty state that the set consists of a precision flat brush, a precision round brush, a precision angled brush, a precision tapered brush, and a precision flat angled brush. Each brush within the set is a different colour, although the colour of each brush appears to vary depending on which set you get, if that makes sense! (For example, in my set the precision angled brush is blue, but in another set it may be pink.) So, we'll talk about these based on what colour mine are, okay?
The flat brush (black) is supposedly for stippling concealer onto sunspots, blemishes and small imperfections; I also find it ideal for placing eyeshadow precisely into the crease before blending. The round brush (pink) claims to be for applying eyeshadow base or primer to the eyelids; this is the brush I've used the least, as I find the fibres are just a little too short, given how fluffy the brush is, meaning the ferrule catches the skin. The angled brush (blue) is meant to be used to apply product to the sides of the nose and the hollows of the cheeks; I think it's too soft for that, but it is lovely for blending out concealer under my eyes, or for blending out powder eyeshadow, and I've also used it to dust highlighter along the tops of my cheekbones.
The tapered brush (purple) is apparently for applying concealer in hard-to-reach areas such as around the eyes and the lips; I think it makes quite a good lip brush as it's quite firm, meaning it's easy to get a clean line. It's also really good for getting an inner corner highlight right into the corner of the eyes. And finally, the flat angled brush (yellow) is meant for precise concealer application, but in my book it's perfect for brows and eyeliner; it's maybe slightly softer than ideal, but it's worked well for me so far!
Overall, this is quite a nice little set, and I've been using four of the brushes pretty regularly within my makeup routine; they've washed well and I've not had any trouble with them shedding. For the price I think they're a bargain and they'd be perfect for travelling with, as the lightweight metal case will keep them clean and prevent them getting squashed! The Born Pretty 5-Piece Brush Set is priced at £3.47 here, in a choice of pink, purple, black, blue and yellow. Remember you can take 10% off anything on the Born Pretty site with my code 'JESSMK31'! Would you try out budget make-up brushes like these, or do you prefer to invest in more familiar brands?

[*Product provided for consideration. Prices correct at time of writing but may fluctuate with changes in exchange rates.]

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Review | Benefit Gimme Brow

Are we all sick of Benefit brow products yet!? I thought not! Alongside last month's Goof-Proof Brow Pencil and Marie Claire's offering of Ready, Set, Brow! setting gel, you can also pick up a super-cute mini of Gimme Brow, which is described as a "brow-volumising fibre gel" for an absolute snip at £2 with the August 2016 issue of Glamour UK. There's a choice of two shades available with Glamour; I have 05, which is the deeper shade of the two, with the other option being Shade 01. [Check out the rest of this month's magazine freebies!]
In line with the rest of Benefit's newly re-launched brow range, the packaging of Gimme Brow is silver and kind of space-age - I really like it, and the 1g mini size is so cute! The wand is tiny, which makes it easy to get a really precise application to your brows; my favourite way to use Gimme Brow is to gently brush my brows up and out, which really allows me to build the volume, and ensure every brow is coated with product, before brushing back into shape.
Shade 5 is basically my perfect shade and is the one I'd have chosen from the range if I was buying Gimme Brow at a Benefit counter; the tiny wand makes it really easy to use and I think even a complete brow novice could get the hang of this within a go or two. I also really like the formula, which dries firm enough to keep my at-times unruly brows looking neat, but not feeling at all stiff or crispy. It's enough to add fullness and definition, whilst still looking really natural in my brows, which I hope you can see with the before-and-after photos below (sorry the lighting is so different, I don't know what happened!). I've also been pleased to note that I've not had any problems with fibres dropping onto my skin, which can sometimes happen with fibre products like this.
Gimme Brow is priced at £18.50 for the full-sized 3g product, available from Debenhams here; the range consists of three shades - 01 Light, 03 Medium and 05 Deep. There's actually 10% off at the time of writing, making it £16.65, but I'm not sure how long that offer is valid for. Obviously if you're in the UK and like the sound of Gimme Brow, I'd really recommend picking up Glamour magazine this month for just £2!
I have really enjoyed having this product in my collection and, as much as I'm loathe to spend that much, I do see myself buying the full-size; I might try and pick up another sample-size while they're still available! Have you tried any of Benefit's new brow range? Which products do you like the sound of most?

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Friday, 22 July 2016

Ten Everyday Things To Be Grateful For

I've noticed a lot of mentions of gratitude lately, including quite a few people doing various kinds of gratitude journaling - a quick Amazon search brings up over 17,000 results! Gratitude is something I've tried to practice for a few years now, and I try to take a couple of minutes at bedtime each night to be grateful for the things in my life; I really find that taking a moment to appreciate the things I have, can really improve my outlook on life. Some days there are big, obvious things to be grateful for, and on other days we really have to take whatever we can think of... Here are ten everyday things which we can often take for granted, but we still ought to be grateful for.
Friends & Family
My family often drive me to distraction, but I do love them, and I'm lucky to have such supportive people around me. We all have our faults but that's being human isn't it? I do try to let my friends and family know I appreciate them, too.
Food & Water
An obvious one! So many people aren't as lucky as we are and don't have enough to eat, or clean water to drink and wash in, so I always include this in my list. It seems like such a little thing but little things certainly add up.
I know I often complain about living with my parents, but I'm still incredibly lucky that I have somewhere to live, a roof over my head, and a warm bed to sleep in. I hope never to take this for granted.
This one obviously fluctuates and is different for everyone, but I always try to be thankful for the things my body is capable of - whether I've been for a run or to the gym, taken the dog for a walk, or just had a hard shift at work. My body is remarkable and I'm grateful for my health.
Internet Access
Fellow bloggers will know where I'm coming from with this one! It's super frustrating when the internet's down, and having internet access gives us so many opportunities that we wouldn't otherwise have - from keeping in touch with friends and family, to work prospects and hobbies such as blogging.
A photo posted by Jess Smith (@jesssrawr) on

I do love my dog a ridiculous amount, and having a pet who loves you unconditionally is so rewarding. I'm so grateful to have him in my life! No-one else is as consistently happy to see me...
I enjoyed my education and I'm thankful for the opportunities it brings me now. Even something as simple as curling up to enjoy a good book just wouldn't be possible if I hadn't had the chance to go to school as a child - again, I hope I never take this for granted as it's something so many people just don't have the opportunity to do.
My Car
I wrote a whole post about the reasons I love being a driver, but it's mainly the independence that it gives me. I'm lucky that I was able to learn to drive and that I can (just about!) afford to run my car.
My Job
This is popping up less frequently at the moment due to being "between jobs" but in the past, I've made a point of being grateful for my job, not only because it pays, but also because it gives me the opportunity to help people, which is super important to me.
This may or may not be related to a certain time of the month, but I figure anything that helps prevent me from commiting murder has to be worth being thankful for...

What are you grateful for? Is there anything you'd add to my list? Do you practice gratitude journaling or anything similar?

[Post contains affiliate links.]

Thursday, 21 July 2016

#BeautiesOnFire Week One | Classic Beauty

Remember last week when I posted about a new collaboration I'm taking part in, #BeautiesOnFire? Well, it's time for our first posts! The theme chosen for our first "proper" week was Classic Beauty. You can check out Elisabeth's post here for the link-up with all the other #BeautiesOnFire, and read on below to see my take on the theme!
For me, classic beauty means porcelain skin, black eyeliner and the timeless red lip - not a look I wear very often, so I decided to keep things pretty simple! I kept my skin pretty basic with just foundation and concealer, opting to skip blusher and highlighter so that the focus could be on my features. I then whacked a thick layer of lipbalm on to prep my lips.
I've filled in my brows because to me, a strong brow is so important to frame the face. I then went for a slightly winged liner using a dampened angled brush and a black powder eyeshadow, with a tiny bit of kohl blended under my lower lashline too. Plenty of mascara finished off my eyes (Chanel, darling!), and for my lips I tissued off the lipbalm before using a nude lipliner beneath a matte red lipstick.
Overall, I quite like the look I ended up with, but it's not one I see myself wearing on a regular basis. If anything, this has reminded me why I don't wear a statement lip very often - it really emphasises how wonky my lips are! What does "classic beauty" mean to you? Do you wear a "classic" look often? Remember you can find all the details of the #BeautiesOnFire collab in Elisabeth's post here, and check out the other posts on the Classic Beauty theme here!


Beauties on Fire Collab

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Three Facial Mists You Need To Try This Summer!

Until recently, I'd completely avoided even trying facial mists, completely put off by the idea of spraying something over my face. I've acquired a few lately though and have definitely been converted, so I thought I'd share my picks of three you may like to try this summer!
I was lucky enough to win a bottle of Jurlique's Calming Blend Aromatherapy Mist (£17/50ml here), which was my first taste of a facial mist (not literally. Don't drink it!) With a blend of Lavender and Grapefruit essential oils to help unwind and relax, this is my bedside facial mist; it's been particularly lovely the last couple of nights, as summer has properly got going, to cool me down a little. The glass bottle looks quite luxe and the nozzle(?) gives a really nice, fine mist over the skin.
Avène's Eau Thermale* (£10/300ml here or £3.15/50ml here) is by far the most budget-friendly of the three and is unscented, so would be my suggestion if you have sensitive skin or just wish to avoid scented mists. Unlike the other two, this comes in a pressurised can, which I think is why it gives the finest mist. I've been reaching for this through the day lately as it feels so refreshing on the skin, and it doesn't interfere with my make-up at all. This is also supposed to help calm redness and irritation, but I've not really had any problems like that while I've been using it, so I can't comment on that one I'm afraid!
I've reviewed Balance Me's Skin Bright Toning Mist* (available in a 'Toning Trio' set at £33.95 for 30ml here - set also includes Super Toning Body Cream and Super Toning Body Polish) in full here, but in short this feels really nice and hydrating on the skin, and has a lovely rose scent which makes it really pleasant to use. The plastic bottle means it's travel friendly, although the cap isn't as tight-fitting as I'd like, so I'd recommend being careful if you are carrying this one with you. Generally speaking, this is the one I'd reach for in the mornings as part of my skincare routine.
Have you ever used a facial mist? Do you have a favourite? Which of these three would you most like to try?

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Monday, 18 July 2016

Five Ways To Nail Your First Graduate Job!

Having recently (finally!) secured myself a full-time, paid graduate position - almost four years, not to mention one Masters degree, after completing my undergrad - I've certainly had my fair share of interviews. I've genuinely lost count of how many jobs I've applied for over those years, but it is literally hundreds, and at a guess I've been for around 20 interviews in the last three years, before finally getting a job. It isn't easy and I'm by no means an expert, but I think I've learnt a lot along the way, so here are my top five interview tips for graduates!
[Photo Credit: A Prettier Web. Edited by me.]
Make sure it's a job you really want
It sounds obvious, but if you can afford to be picky with what jobs you're applying for - be picky. Interviewers can generally spot a mile off a candidate who's just there to fulfil their Jobcentre criteria or pay the rent; interviewing for a job you really want is a whole different ballgame and, for me at least, a whole lot easier and more rewarding. Generally speaking, an interviewer will want to see passion and enthusiasm - which is hard to muster for a job you're not really bothered about.
Preparation is key! Know the job description inside out; do a bit of research into the company or department; look up any additional information you can find - this might be reviews or inspections, sales or profit reports, leaflets, client testimonials... For example, for me, interviewing for a job in the NHS, this meant looking at things like how the team I'd be working in fits into the wider trust, the results of the most recent CQC inspection, and relevant leaflets about the service for both patients and health professionals. The more background knowledge you have, the more confident you'll be - even if you don't directly mention every fact you've looked up, knowing they're there in the back of your mind if you need them is a real boost.
Then, have a think about what the interviewers might ask - there will always be questions which will take you by surprise, which is fine, but having answers prepared for common questions like, "Tell us about yourself" and, "Why did you apply for this role?" can alleviate a lot of stress! Remember to think of concrete examples you can include in your answers - anyone can say they love working in a team, but providing evidence in the next sentence will set you above other candidates.
Dress to impress
Yes, first impressions count. Make sure your interview outfit is up to scratch, including your hair, make-up, jewellery and shoes; I always err on the more conservative side, which usually means wearing long sleeves to cover up my one visible tattoo, and taking out a few of my piercings. However, I'd always choose an outfit I'm comfortable in - confidence is key! - and I'd never go for heels, because I know that would be an accident waiting to happen. If in doubt, try to find out what people in similar roles within the company wear, and go with something along those lines.
Stand out
Make yourself memorable - preferably for good reasons. Try to think outside the box a little and, if you can, give an unexpected answer or mention any unusual (relevant) hobbies or experience. That doesn't meant you should tell them about your belly-dancing class when they've asked about something else entirely, but if you can relate a skill from said belly-dancing class (maybe motivation, dedication, or a willingness to try new things?) to what they're asking - go for it! I was asked about a piece of writing I was proud of and, whilst the first thing that came to mind was my dissertations, I knew that was what they'd be expecting - so instead, I spoke about some workbooks I'd produced in my voluntary role, gave examples, and mentioned why I was proud of them. The interviewers were really interested and actually asked a few more questions about the kinds of materials I'd prepared, which was lovely. Remember - the interview panel might see five, ten, twenty or even more candidates - give them a reason to choose you over the others!
Think positive
First up, remember that if you weren't capable of the role, you probably wouldn't have got an interview; graduate positions are generally quite competitive, so weaker candidates simply won't get past the application stage. You've got an interview! You're doing great! Then, try to keep this positive attitude, and identify concrete reasons why you'd be brilliant at this particular job. Even if you aren't successful this time, ask for feedback from the interviewers, and try to take it on board - I was regularly told to give more detail in my answers, which is where thinking of specific examples for certain skills really came into its own.

Now - knock 'em dead! I also want to say - I'm by no means an expert, but if you're interested in a job in psychology or a similar area, I'm happy to try and help, so do feel free to drop me an email with any questions you may have.
Do you have any interview tips and wisdom to share? I'd love to hear about your interview experiences! If you're a graduate, how long did it take you to get your first grad position?


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Mix & Mask with Origins & LatestInBeauty

Multi-masking has been all the rage lately, and Latest in Beauty have released a new box in collaboration with BritishBeautyBlogger Jane Cunningham; the Mix & Mask with Origins box contains variously sized samples of nine of Origins's best-selling products, and I was powerless to resist... Alongside a mini-magazine explaining why Jane chose each of the products included, let's have a look at what you get for your dollah!
[I Instagrammed this yesterday and it was quickly brought to my attention that the box has now, in fact, sold out. I was in two minds whether to post this or not but have decided to because (a) I'm hoping they'll re-stock? and (b) I'd already got the post all written out and I'm too excited about it to not post. So, I'm sorry for posting about something you can't currently buy...]
Isn't the graphic floral design just gorgeous?! First out of my box were 10ml single-use pods of three masks including Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask, Drink Up 10 Minute Mask, and Out Of Trouble 10 Minute Mask for Problem Skin - I've already tried and loved the Clear Improvement and Out of Trouble masks, and have wanted to try the ten-minute version of Drink Up for ages! These pods are a fab way to try out a mask, or they would be perfect for travelling with if you already know you love the mask in question.
Also in the box was a 95ml bottle of Maskimiser Skin-Optimizing Mask Primer, which claims to soften your skin and optimise its condition to enhance your face mask experience. This is the full-sized product, worth £18.50, which is nearly the full cost of the box! I'll admit I'm a little dubious about how well this will work, but I'm still keen to give it a try.
Next up, we have a 70ml bottle of By All Greens Foaming Deep Cleansing Mask; again, this is full-sized, with a value of £30. It contains Spirulina and Spinach, and claims to deeply cleanse, refresh and unclog pores without stripping the skin. A 15ml tube of Origins's new GinZing Peel-Off Mask (value around £4.80) claims to refresh and refine the complexion, leaving you with glowing skin. 30ml of the Original Skin Retexturizing Mask (value around £7.20) is a welcome addition, as I've been wanting to try it for a while - mainly because it's pink, let's be honest! 30ml of Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask (value around £12.50) is another one I was pleased to see, as I've almost finished my much-loved tube of this hydrating champion
Finally, it's not technically a mask, but a 50ml tube of VitaZing SPF15 Energy-Boosting Moisturiser with Mangosteen is a very welcome addition for me; I've used this tinted moisturiser in the past and loved it, so I'm glad to have a new tube. This has a value of £29, so again, it's more than the box's price - you really are getting a bargain!
There's also (as if that wasn't enough!) a voucher for £10 off a £30 spend on the Origins website. The Mix & Mask with Origins box is priced at £20 including P+P, currently out of stock here; with a value of over £100 (and that's not even including the pods!), I think it's a fab way to try out a whole selection of Origins's brilliant masks, or stock up on a few old favourites if you've tried them before, so I'd definitely recommend picking it up if they re-stock.
Latest In Beauty BritishBeautyBlogger Mix & Mask with Origins Box
In the meantime, or if you'd prefer to select your own products for a beauty box, you can check out my post on Latest in Beauty's Build-Your-Own Beauty Box, available here from just £8.99. Do you like Origins face masks? Is this the sort of beauty box you'd buy?

[Post contains affiliate links, but I bought the box myself because I do think it's a right bargain!]

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Festival Beauty with Natural Collection*

Purse-friendly high-street make-up brand Natural Collection have the perfect selection of products if you're heading off to a festival this summer! From lip to lashes, right down to your fingertips, they've got you covered... Did you catch my post on how Natural Collection can help you #GetGlowing this summer? That post has some fab basics for any festival look, but here a few more bits which will add to it!
Sure, Tinted Moisturiser is great for evening out your skintone, but when you're short on sleep, drinking one too many, and maybe not eating the most balanced of diets, a touch of concealer can be a godsend! Natural Collection's Cover-Up Stick* (£1.99) has a limited shade range with a choice of only two, but it has a lovely creamy formula and a decent level of coverage - it's perfect for disguising under-eye circles, and the shade 'Fair' is actually a pretty perfect match for me. This is easy enough to apply straight from the bullet and blend out, either with (clean!) fingers or, my preference, a dampened beauty sponge. I think you can see below it brightens up my eye area quite nicely! I then set the whole lot with powder, and add a touch of colour with a combination of blusher and bronzer.
British festivals are well-known for unreliable weather (at best!) so a waterproof mascara is a bit of a no-brainer, really; Natural Collection's Waterguard Mascara* (£1.99) comes in Black or Brown/Black and, whilst it's not the most volumising mascara I've ever used, it does work well to add length and definition to my lashes. The brush is a traditional fibre one rather than any of this new-fangled plastic business, which I find much easier to use. My only concern would be that removal might be a bit tricky at a festival - being waterproof, you really need an oil-based remover to be in with a chance!
Meanwhile, Natural Collection's Tinted Lip Balm* (£1.99) is perfect for hydrating your lips and adding a hint of non-sticky colour; I have the shade 'Caribbean Crush' which is a sheer-but-pretty pink colour, but there are four other options available.
For me, the only thing I'd need to add to make this a completely wearable day-to-day look would be a brow product; thankfully, Natural Collection have recently launched a range of brow products, priced at £1.99 each, so all is not lost! Of course, it wouldn't be a festival make-up look without glitter and/or neon face paint, but when it comes to the basics, Natural Collection have you covered!
And when it comes to your nails... Natural Collection Nail Colour* (£1.99) has 22 shades to offer; this is 'Hibiscus', the perfect neon-pink, which was opaque in two coats and dried super-quickly to a lovely glossy finish. Sadly it chipped really quickly on my nails (within a few hours), although that might be improved with a top coat... But if not, at that price, you'll not be afraid to take it with your for touch-ups!
A photo posted by Jess Smith (@jesssrawr) on
All in all, I think these products would be great choices to take to a festival, mainly because their low price-points mean you wouldn't be too worried about losing them - I for one wouldn't want to take a £30+ foundation to a festival! The Cover-Up Stick in particular works really well for me, and the Waterguard Mascara looks great on my lashes. What are your festival beauty must-haves? Would you be popping any Natural Collection products in your festival make-up bag?

[*Product provided for consideration.]

Friday, 15 July 2016

Review | Benefit Ready, Set, Brow!

If you saw my post on August's magazine freebies, you'll know that there are a couple of Benefit products up for grabs with the glossies this month! Amongst them, Marie Claire comes with a 3.5ml sample of Benefit's Ready, Set, Brow! which is a "24-hour invisible shaping & setting gel for brows". Having recently re-launched their entire brow range with a host of new products, Benefit seem keen to get these products into our make-up bags... but is Ready, Set, Brow! worth picking up?
Benefit Ready, Set, Brow!
The sleek, silver packaging is in keeping with the rest of the newly re-branded brow collection and I quite like it. The plastic tube is moulded rather than being just a plain tube, with the lid screwing on securely and uncapping to reveal a rubbery plastic mascara-like wand, which isn't round but is instead flat, with longer spikes on one side, and shorter ones on the opposite side. I'm not explaining it very well, I know, but hopefully you can kind of see what I mean in the photo below.
I've found that the longer spikes are perfect for running through the brows to arrange all the hairs neatly, whilst the shorter ones are great for the more precise tails of my brows. I find that the wand is well-designed and works well to quickly and easily get my brows into position, coating them evenly with the gel, with no overloading with product.
The gel is, as anticipated, clear in colour, so I've been using it after filling in my brows - below, I've used Benefit's Goof Proof Brow Pencil, which I've been loving! The top photo shows Goof Proof alone, whilst the bottom photo has Ready, Steady, Brow! over the top. Now personally, I can't see any difference - I'd say Benefit are true to their word with the claims of invisibility. I can just about feel the gel when I touch my brows, but they don't feel stiff, uncomfortable, or sticky in any way.
Once the gel has dried, which takes less than a minute for me, my brows are set. If your brows tend a little towards the unruly, whether or not you fill them in, I'd say this is well worth a shot! Indeed, if you don't fill your brows in, the fact that this is invisible means it'd be pretty much perfect for just keeping them looking neat and tidy. The full-sized Ready, Set, Brow! is £18.50 for 7ml, available from Debenhams here; you can pick it up with Marie Claire until the end of the month at just £3.99, though, so I'd definitely suggest doing that if you can! Have you tried any of Benefit's new brow range? Do you like the sound of Ready, Set, Brow!?

[Post contains affiliate links.]
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