Sunday, 29 October 2017

Travelling the World: Things I've Ticked Off My Travel Bucket List

Picture of Dubrovnik scenery Croatia
I was scrolling through my iPhone photos the other day and it got me thinking how lucky I really am that I have been able to just about afford to travel the world and experience so many different countries (thanks to my sister who is an expert at trawling Expedia and pin-pointing some ridiculously cheap deals). For me, travel doesn't have to be extravagant - you don't have to be bungee jumping, sailing around on a yacht or staying in the most expensive hotel, it's about enjoying the atmosphere, your surroundings and simply being in another country. Most of my favourite experiences abroad involve looking at beautiful landscapes and eating way too much food. I wanted to share the highlights of some of my travel adventures with you; I love reading these kind of posts as they give me so much inspiration and I always take something away to add to my own travel bucket list.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Four Steps to Keeping Combination Skin Hydrated with Elemis Skincare

Picture of Elemis Skincare products
Elemis products are by far my favourite when it comes to skincare - not only do they work really well with my skin, it feels to me like a little luxurious spa experience on a daily basis. While it's definitely not a necessity, my personal preference is to spend a little more on a quality, high end brand when I'm purchasing skincare products. There are currently four steps (and one optional extra) in my routine that allow me to keep my combination skin hydrated:

Sunday, 24 September 2017

How To Spend 72 Hours in Stockholm

Picture of a bridge in Djurgården, Stockholm‎
Back in June, I was lucky enough to tick off one of the cities on My Ultimate Travel Wishlist when I took a short trip to Stockholm with my sister and our two friends. The city is absolutely beautiful with a rich history and stunning architecture. On the whole, I have to be honest and say that it wasn't one of my most favourite places in the world - mainly down to the expense and how spread out everything is - but I would still highly recommend taking a trip here; those tiny little negatives didn't stop me thoroughly enjoying myself. Here's my tips on how to spend 72 hours in Stockholm:

Day One: Capture the breathtakingly beautiful views in Riddarholmen
Picture of Riddarholmen in Stockholm
We spent our first day wandering around just familiarising ourselves with the area and accidentally stumbled upon these gorgeous views along the Riddarholmen waterfront. The weather was beautiful and we sat for hours dangling our legs near the water - it was so relaxing and much needed after walking a fair distance. I wouldn't recommend on a cold day (unless you wrap up warm) but if you happen to have good weather it's an absolute must. You can also enjoy the beautiful buildings in this area, especially Riddarholmskyrkan (pictured below) which is one of the oldest buildings in Stockholm.
Picture of Riddarholmskyrkan

Day Two: Spend the day exploring Stockholm Old Town (Gamla Stan)/Royal Palace
Gamla Stan is the medieval hub of Stockholm with the most incredibly well preserved buildings and intricate architecture. You can get lost in your own little world exploring Stockholm's beautiful Old Town - I'd recommend spending the day walking the winding cobbled streets, browsing quaint little shops and eating in cosy little cafés. The area does get pretty busy as it's a prime spot for tourists with souvenir shops on almost every corner so it's best to get there early if you'd rather avoid the large crowds.

The Old Town is also home to the The Royal Palace - you can choose to admire this from the outside or pay to go inside and explore. I'd definitely recommend the latter as it was one of the highlights of my trip and it's reasonably priced (160 SEK). The ticket allows you to view The Royal Apartments and catch a glimpse of the glittering Crown Jewels in the Treasury. I'd try and time it right and catch the changing of the guards too because it's a brilliant spectacle!
Picture of The Old Town in Stockholm

Day 3: Hop over to Djurgården - visit Skansen and the Vasa Museum

Djurgården is a beautiful island in the middle of Stockholm that is easily reached from the city centre via public transport. We hopped on the tram and made the short journey over there with a view to visiting the ABBA Museum (we couldn't get in though because they only take card and no cash). After that little disappointment, we opted for Skansen, the world's oldest open air museum. We were so lucky to experience this during the Midsummer celebrations (a national Swedish holiday) - it was great to be part of the hustle and bustle with traditional music, maypole dancing and stunning Scandinavian houses. There's a zoo inside for all of the animal lovers out there too. We did have to queue for an hour before we could get in but it was definitely worth the wait.

A short walk from Skansen is the Vasa Museum which is where you'll find a 17th century ship that was recovered from the sea floor after 333 years and restored - 95% of the ship is original! I wasn't overly impressed with the museum as it was way too busy and it was a struggle to actually read all of the information to fully grasp the history but the ship itself is absolutely incredible.

Other tips for travelling in Sweden:

1. Buy a travel card - this is by far the cheapest way to get around in Stockholm (as with everything else in Sweden, public transport is pretty expensive). A 72 hour travel card will cost 240 SEK (approx  £20) and you can use the train, bus, tram and certain ferry routes across the city.
2. Plan carefully to maximise your stay - in comparison to every other European country we have visited so far, the city seemed really spread out. We devised a little itinerary so that we could plan our route and ensure that we got to see everything that we wanted to see. This is especially important if you are only staying for a few days and want to ensure that you make the most of it.
3. Budget for alcohol - I nearly fell off my chair when I paid the equivalent of £24 for a Long Island cocktail in our hotel, it's a different level of expensive. I thought I had the genius idea of buying alcohol in the supermarket before going out to make it cheaper but they don't sell wine in the local shops. The government has monopoly on retail sales of alcohol so you'll have to locate a Systembolaget (store licensed to sell stronger alcohol) if you're partial to a glass of wine like me.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other recommendations for travelling in Stockholm!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray Has Had a Sleek New Makeover...

Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray Review
If you told me last year I'd be writing a blog post raving about a setting spray, quite frankly, I would probably have laughed in your face. I've always been sceptical about them and if I'm honest, I've dismissed them as extremely overpriced water. I've tried NYX, MAC Fix+, Maybelline and a couple of other setting sprays here and there and I've just not been overly impressed - they've either been too sticky, too drying or just generally pointless. Recently, I was very kindly gifted the Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray* and this product alone has meant that I've had swallow my pride and backtrack on every mean thing I've ever said about setting sprays.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

How to Grow Your Pinterest By 3000 Followers in 12 Weeks

How to Grow Your Pinterest
As far as social media goes, Pinterest is a relatively new platform that most of us are still trying to navigate and get to grips with. It's taken a little while to get there, but according to Google Analytics, Pinterest is now the second largest driver of traffic to my blog each month. When I first created a Pinterest account, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing - I would crazily pin to one or two boards and couldn't understand why I wasn't able to grow my following.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Things to Do In Belgium: Visiting 3 Cities in 3 Days

City breaks are really my thing at the minute - with work commitments and financial constraints, it's the easiest way to explore the world without breaking the bank. Shorter breaks also mean I can fit more countries in to my tight schedule! I booked a 3 day holiday to Belgium in March with my lovely (picking my descriptors carefully as I know she'll be reading this) sister/travelling companion. We anticipated a quiet, relaxing break, but we couldn't have been more wrong. It was a jam packed few days and we managed to visit 3 cities in 3 days. Here's my recommendations for a city break in Belgium:
1. Take a river cruise in Bruges
Ok, don't laugh....I didn't actually go on the river cruise myself - my sister was really keen to experience it but I saw a curvy woman with a similar body type to me take one unsteady step into the very narrow boat and almost capsize the whole thing. So that put me off the whole boat situation as there was no way I was taking an accidental dip in that freezing cold river. For people who have no fear, however, the river cruises were extremely popular and at approximately £7 they're fairly priced for a 30 minute tour to take in those views of Bruges that you can't see on foot. We did walk a similar route to the canal boat and I can vouch for the fact that the scenery is stunning and well worth the trip.
2.  Take pictures of the colourful buildings in Bruges Market Square (The Markt)
Pastel coloured buildings are the 'in' thing in the blogosphere at the moment, so what's not to love?! The architecture in The Markt is outstanding and one of the main attractions for tourists - it's in the heart of the city where you can hop into a horse & cart for a tour, climb 366 steps up to the top of the Belfry for 360 views of Bruges or drink in the vibrant atmosphere in one of the many restaurants. If you're looking for something to eat on a budget, I'd definitely recommend avoiding the cafes in the market square area - I nearly fell off my chair when I realised it would cost £11 for a very basic cheese toastie. It's the perfect place for a drink and lots of people watching though.

3. Be underwhelmed by the Manneken Pis in Brussels
If you research 'top things to do' in Brussels, the Manneken Pis (peeing boy) statue repeatedly comes up as a must-see. I do love a bit of history and architecture so I always try to catch a glimpse of these type of things when I'm travelling in a new city. So, my sister and I set off on our little adventure on the hunt for this peeing boy and well....we couldn't have been more underwhelmed if we tried. Although it looks as though it's a pretty big and impressive statue, it's actually so small that we walked right past it. The only reason we went back to it is because there was a number of people congregating at a small alcove in the wall and we wanted to see what all of the fuss was about. I mean, I was straining my eyeballs to get a view of one of the most over-hyped statues in the world. It's probably the most famous landmark in Brussels though and this little fella has been around since 1615 so I'd recommend a quick visit just to tick it off your list!              

4. Absorb the beautiful scenery and architecture in Ghent
If you're all about exploring an Old Town and capturing some of the most beautiful views, then Ghent will be the place for you. In my personal opinion, this place is so underrated - I was absolutely blown away by the views over the canal and it was by far one of my highlights of the trip. It's a historical city with lots of hustle and bustle and plenty to see and do. It's only a short journey from Brussels and the public transport is easily accessible. I'd make sure you book out a whole day for this so you can take your time to enjoy the buildings and scenery.

5. Eat way too many Belgian waffles in every city
It's just not possible to visit Belgium without sampling scoffing some freshly cooked Belgian waffles. Now I thought I'd tasted some good waffles in my lifetime until I visited Belgium but I can tell you that no one else can make waffles quiet like the Belgians. As you can see, I treated myself to this Nutella/strawberry combination and it was absolutely delicious. You'll find so many street stalls/quirky little cafes that sell Belgian waffles and there is so much choice when it comes to the toppings. I think I came back from this trip about 3 stone heavier but I have zero regrets.

Let me know in the comments if you have any more Belgium recommendations!

Friday, 12 May 2017

Bobbi Brown Beauty Basics

Bobbi Brown BeautySo, I have a little confession to make - up until early last year, I had never acquainted myself with one of the biggest names in the beauty world, Bobbi Brown. As you can imagine, when my local House of Fraser announced they were opening a Bobbi Brown counter, I was all over it. I picked out some of the recommended classic/versatile beauty basics and I can't help but feel that I've been missing out all these years.
Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even Finish Foundation SPF15 in Warm Ivory £34.00
I have a love/hate relationship with this Bobbi Brown foundation, while there are so many elements that I absolutely love about it, (I almost thought I'd finally found the one), my skin really hates it. It was ticking all of the boxes - the Warm Ivory matched almost perfectly with my pale skin, it blended seamlessly, it was my ideal medium but buildable to full coverage and it stayed it place pretty much all day. The SPF15 included to protect my skin was also an added bonus. However, a short while after application, my skin became really itchy and irritated to the point where I had to remove the foundation. I had noticed prior to application that it was heavily scented with lavender, which surprisingly I didn't mind. After a little further research, I found that lavender oil can be a skin irritant so I'd highly recommend that anyone with acne or problem skin stays away from this product. There's no mention of this ingredient on the Bobbi Brown website and knowing that my sensitive skin wouldn't react well to it, I wouldn't have purchased it in the first place if I had known it contained lavender. If you have dry/normal and non-sensitive skin, you'll probably find that this is an ideal foundation for you, but unfortunately, it really didn't work well for me. I'm really hoping that they bring out a fragrance free version very soon because I'll be all over that.
 Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base £42.00
In comparison to the Long Wear Even Finish Foundation, the Vitamin Enriched Face Base is an entirely different story. There are so many positives about this face base and I've been raving about it to everyone who will listen. Multi-use products are always a winner for me; this is a combined moisturiser/primer and anything that saves me time and effort is a definite yes from me. I usually steer clear of products with a thick consistency, but this product is oil free so works well with my naturally oily skin. The scent is gorgeous - a mixture of floral and citrus but isn't overpowering if you're not one for strong scents. At first, I tried applying this directly to my skin and really struggled to move the product around. I've found the best way to use this is to take a little product and press it between your hands to warm it slightly and then apply by pressing it gently into your face. That way, it's evenly distributed and absorbs into your skin much more quickly. It really plumps my skin and gives  a perfect, even base for your makeup or a radiant glow if you're going bare faced. I urge you to buy this especially if you're new to Bobbi Brown like me! It's on the pricey side but it's worth every single penny.
Bobbi Brown Metallic Eyeshadow in Velvet Plum £18.00 
One swatch of this at the Bobbi Brown beauty counter and it had to be mine. I'm utterly obsessed with browns and neutrals, even more so if they contain a little sparkle. The 'Velvet Plum' shade description is a little misleading - I'm struggling to find the plum colour if I'm completely honest but I'm not complaining in the slightest as this metallic brown with gold shimmer particles is much more suitable for my cool skin tone. The texture of the metallic shadow is buttery smooth; it's highly pigmented and glides onto the lid with ease. It's a versatile product that allows you to create a sophisticated eyeshadow look - you can wear this alone for a subtle effect or you can blend this out with darker tones for a dramatic smoky eye look. The most impressive aspect was the longevity of this shadow, while it faded slightly throughout the day, it still appeared to be pretty intense when it came to removing my makeup and I didn't experience any creasing on my eyelids. The only negative I have with this shadow is the immense amount of fall out during application, I guess this is to be expected from a metallic/shimmer product though so I always apply before foundation but it certainly doesn't take anything away from the high quality product.
Let me know in the comments what your favourite Bobbi Brown beauty products are, I'm keen to expand my collection!


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Antipodes Organic Skincare for Combination Skin

As a skincare fiend, I'm always on the hunt for new brands to try out that work well with my combination skin. This winter has been tough on my skin and I've really suffered with breakouts and severe dry patches - the only good thing to come from this has been that, for once in my lazy life, I've been forced to maintain a consistent skincare routine and my face couldn't be more thankful for it.

Antipodes is a New Zealand based organic skincare brand that combines scientific research and natural ingredients to deliver innovative products to the skincare market. The brand targets women of all ages with varying skin types and highlights the importance of a structured regime to keep your skin looking healthy and flawless. I'm not going to lie, I may have fallen a slightly in love with this brand because one of their anti-ageing ingredients is extracted from the seeds of Sauvignon Blanc grapes and as we all know, I'm partial to the odd glass of Sauvignon on certain occasions (ok, most Fridays).    

Antipodes Juliet Skin-Brightening Gel Cleanser £24.99

The Antipodes Juliet Skin- Brightening Gel Cleanser has been my skin saviour; I have been using this for around 4 months and have seen a noticeable difference to the brightness of my skin and it's really helped to keep blemishes and redness at bay. It's not the most aesthetically pleasing cleanser, I was quite surprised to find that it's a thin brown liquid that could potentially be mistaken for something medicinal. You'll soon forgive this though as the scent of kiwi, Manuka honey and hibiscus flower comes through and excites your senses (it smells absolutely gorgeous!). The gel turns into a foam cleanser as you massage it into your face and neck; I always take care to concentrate on problem areas that need a little bit more attention. Daily use, removed with a warm cloth, has helped to reduce dullness and has left my skin glowing.

Antipodes Certified Organic Light Facial Day Cream £26.99

I'm over the moon that I have discovered the Antipodes Organic Light Facial Day Cream. This is perfect for people with oily skin who really struggle to find a moisturiser that doesn't leave their face looking and feeling greasy. It really is light, allows your skin to breathe and is packed full of natural, organic ingredients. It's lightly scented with sweet almond oil and vanilla pod which is a pretty heavenly combination. On first application, the cream can feel rather thick, however, it absorbs into the skin so quickly and feels almost matte when it's fully dry. It really helps to balance my combination skin so it targets those dry patches but doesn't encourage my skin to overproduce oil as it usually does. A little goes a long way with this as it's so concentrated so be careful not to squeeze too much from the tube - you don't want to be wasting any of this little gem!

I'm more than impressed with what Antipodes has to offer as a brand - I'd seen it floating around the blogosphere for a long while before purchasing and was slightly concerned that it wouldn't live up to its hype. It's very clear that time and effort have been invested into researching and creating this innovative skincare range. You pay high end prices for high quality products and I wouldn't hesitate to repurchase either the Skin-Brightening Gel Cleanser or the Light Facial Day Cream. I'm looking forward to expanding my Antipodes collection in the very near future.

Let me know about your favourite Antipodes products in the comments below!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Wanderlust: My Ultimate Travel Wishlist

Image of Ultimate Travel Wishlist
If you happened to read my 5 Reasons to Visit Abu Dhabi post, you'll know that a couple of years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would get out there and see more of the world. Since then, I've been lucky enough to experience Dublin, New York, Budapest, Abu Dhabi and Dubai; the travel bug now flows through my veins and you'll regularly find me trawling Expedia for the cheapest holiday deals. There are so many places I want to visit but here are my top ten travel destinations:


1. Reykjavik, Iceland - Possibly the most blogger cliché destination ever but I've been desperate to experience Reykjavik for at least the last 3/4 years. I'd love to trek around the Golden Circle to witness the wonderful waterfalls and glaciers, go whale watching and wallow in the warmth of the Blue Lagoon. Seeing the Northern Lights would be an incredible bonus too!

2. Stockholm, Sweden - My sister's friend has recently moved out to Sweden and she keeps sending me screenshots of his Instagram with photos of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen. I'd like to spend a whole day wandering around Stockholm Old Town, cram in as many museums as possible (ABBA museum is clearly top of the list) and eat my way through the Stockholm Food Tour.

3. Sorrento, Italy - Considering I have an Italian name and I can't go a week without someone asking if I have Italian heritage, I'm ashamed to say that I've never stepped foot in this beautiful country. I was browsing destinations the other day and the pictures of Sorrento took my breath away. All I'd want to do is book a luxury hotel with a balcony looking out on to the stunning coastline so I could sit and bask in the sun with a glass of top notch Italian wine in my hand.

4. Santorini, Greece - I've never been to Greece and I can't say I've ever had a huge desire to visit the mainland. I don't have a clue why but it's just not somewhere that has ever appealed to me really. Santorini, however, is a completely different story. It looks cosy with gorgeous boutique hotels and the most insane Instagram worthy views. I'd love to take the hiking trail from Fira to Oia along the winding staircases and watch the sunset over Santorini.

5. Salzburg, Austria - So, this destination was inspired by Becky after reading about her adventures in this post 48 hours in Salzburg.  I need to experience The Sound of Music Tour so I can pretend I'm Maria Von Trapp and intensely annoy my sister by screeching out the tunes at the top of my lungs. Festung Hohensalzburg would also be a must see for me too as I'm a huge history geek and who wouldn't want to visit a fortress on top of a hill?


1. Varadero, Cuba - This place looks like a Caribbean paradise with bright white sand and crystal clear ocean. The stuff of dreams. There isn't much to do here apart from lounging around on the beach and drinking cocktails out of a fresh coconut but quite frankly, I couldn't think of anything better. Get me on that plane.

2. Montreal, Canada - A trip to Montreal would be the perfect opportunity for me to practice my perfectly fluent French language skills (just kidding, I can just about manage "bonjour" and "oui"). As previously mentioned, I'm a history geek and I'd be in my element, there are so many beautiful buildings and the architecture looks so impressive. The Notre Dame Basilica looks particularly up my street. If I was visiting Canada, I'd make sure I booked to go during Winter so I could have an authentic freezing cold Canadian experience!

3. Tokyo, Japan - My Uncle has been to Japan on several occasions for work and keeps telling me that I have to book a trip. I'd love to roam around the Japanese Gardens, visit the sacred temples and just generally experience the busy, fast paced way of life in Japan. Culture is important to me when I'm travelling and I think the cultural aspect would be completely satisfied here.

4. Seattle, USA - When I was on the flight back from New York, I got chatting to a guy who was flying back from Seattle; he spent at least an hour telling me how much he enjoyed his travels and his enthusiasm really sold it for me. Venturing to the top deck of the Space Needle to capture the breath-taking 360 views would be majestic and I'd want to spend another day browsing Pike Place Market and sampling all of the freshly prepared food.

5. Auckland, New Zealand - I couldn't write a wanderlust post without including New Zealand. I've heard so many incredible things about this country; you only have to Google it and I can almost guarantee it'll be added to your own travel wish list. Obviously I'd hop straight on a ferry to Waiheke Island, better known as "the island of wine" (I mean, the island was pretty much made for me!) and enjoy their wine tasting tour. I've also heard on the grapevine that you can bungee jump from Auckland Harbour Bridge just in case I was feeling in a particularly daredevil mood...

Let me know in the comments if you've visited any of these places or if you have any recommendations on where to stay/places I need to visit!


Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Male Bloggers You Need to Know About #2

As part one of Male Bloggers You Need To Know About was one of my most popular posts to date, I thought I'd treat you all to part two. As we move into 2017, I have no doubt that the male blogging industry will continue to grow and pick up the pace as it has in 2016. I'm so pleased it's now seen as the 'norm' for men to also enjoy cleansing, toning, moisturising and makeup! Here's some more handsome fellas you should be following:

The Everyday Man Male Blogger
The Everyday Man is written by John who has firmly established himself as one of the frontrunners within the male blogging industry over the last (nearly) 5 years. If you're a fan of suave suits, bright pink socks (you'll have to check John's Instagram below to know what I'm referring to), health & fitness, music and travel, The Everyday Man most certainly won't disappoint. The travel section is my particular favourite as it satisfies my own wanderlust. I'm not envious in the slightest when he posts his worldwide adventures on Twitter (ha!). John has also worked with some incredible brands throughout his career and I think that's testament to his capabilities as an honest, credible blogger. Definitely one to check out.

A Bloke's Eye View Male Blogger
I've followed Carl over at A Bloke's Eye View for a pretty long time now, in fact, I'm sure he was one of the first male bloggers I discovered when I started blogging myself almost two years ago. I enjoy the three f's on his blog - family, fashion and food. He's got the most amazing shoe collection to go with his dapper suits and also documents his adventures with his gorgeous wife and two beautiful children. Carl's writing style is honest and open which is something I really appreciate; I think it allows his readers to engage with him as a person. I expect there will be more good things to come from Carl's blog in the very near future.

The Middle Aged Man Male Blogger
The Middle Aged Man created by the lovely (middle aged) Robbie is a relatively new blog that has gained rapid popularity within the blogosphere in just 7 months. You'll be hard pushed to find a topic that his blog doesn't cover from lifestyle and travel to fashion and male grooming. The Middle Aged Man does not shy away from open and honest reviews and his post discussing the 'manscaping' debate is one of my personal favourites. I can't wait to see what Robbie's blog has to offer this year, definitely one to watch.
Mr Luke Christian Male Blogger
I've only recently discovered Leeds based blogger Luke, the owner of Mr Luke Christian, but I'm already a big fan. We bonded over a love of the brand Kiehl's, which features heavily in the skincare section of Luke's blog so I've enjoyed reading his opinion on those products. If you're also looking for fashion tips or want to up your game with a smart and edgy style then Luke is definitely your man. I love the outfit he is wearing in the photo above! I'd also highly recommend checking out his YouTube channel too as his outgoing personality is hilarious! One to watch in the blogging community right now.

Let me know in the comments who your favourite male bloggers are...

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Rodial Instaglam Compact Deluxe Contouring Powder

Image of Rodial Instaglam Deluxe Contouring PowderThere seems to be a little bit of a luxury beauty theme going on in the last couple of posts; definitely not intentional but I do like to treat myself when I work hard and get a little extra bonus. Who needs a mortgage anyway, eh?! I've been keen to try out the Rodial makeup range for a while so here's my thoughts on the Rodial Instaglam Compact Deluxe Contouring Powder...
Having pale skin makes it incredibly difficult to find a contour/bronzer that isn't way too dark, harsh and/or overpowering. I've tried and tested countless products that, more often than not, leave me looking like a glittering tangerine. Not really the overall look I'm aiming for if I'm completely honest. Rodial, however, have really delivered with this deluxe contouring powder.
Picture of Rodial Instaglam Deluxe Contouring Powder
The packaging is beautiful as you would expect from a high end brand; a silver, metal case with a soft leather lid really gives the desired luxurious effect. It's definitely a great addition to my dressing table and I always make sure it's on display! It's also got a really handy mirror in the lid too so is ideal for popping in your handbag when you're on the go.
The brand describe this contour powder as a "universal shade to suit all skin tones" but I'm not sure that I would agree with this entirely. The cool tone is incredible for pale skin, it seemed to just adjust to my skin tone and blended to perfection but it is extremely subtle. Although I can't speak for people with darker skin tones than mine, I feel that it would be almost impossible to achieve a contoured look with this ashy shade. Rodial must agree with me as they have recently released a dark shade with red undertones that would be much more suitable for olive-dark skin.
This contour powder is designed with the customer in mind - you really don't have the be a contouring pro to get to grips with it, it's pretty much fool proof and so easy to work with. Besides the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow (another of my favourites), it's one of the only contouring products I've tried that that doesn't leave you with that 'muddy' look. It's a soft brown, matte shade (not even a tiny hint of shimmer) which I absolutely adore and it's buildable so you can opt for a natural shadow or dramatic definition. The longevity is brilliant and I didn't need to reapply once throughout the day. It's expensive at £52.00 but it's impressed me so much that I wouldn't hesitate to repurchase.

Let me know in the comments if you've tried any of the Rodial make up range!

Monday, 9 January 2017

2017 Goals & Why I Don't Like Reflecting

2017 Goals Blogging Lifestyle
Reflection is a strange thing for me. I know it seems natural at this time of year, as the abundance of blog posts would indicate, to look back and reflect on the prior year but, quite frankly, I just don't like it. Maybe it's just me but reflecting, whether it's a positive or negative memory, makes me sad. I openly admit I'm a glass half empty kinda girl so I find myself focusing on things that I didn't make the most of, didn't achieve and the things that I didn't do. 2016 has been and gone and that's that. It's the only way my prone-to-overthinking brain can cope with any sort of underachievement, I guess.     

Although I'm fiercely ambitious, I'm also not really one for setting goals - or should I say setting goals and putting them out there for the world to see. Posting them online means that people will be able to see when I've failed, you see. I don't cope with failure very well (if you hadn't already realised!). I'm very aware, however, that having something to work towards in life is important so these are a few things I've been working on in the last couple of months that I want to continue throughout 2017. If I achieve them, then great but if I don't, that's fine too.

Reach 6K followers on Twitter, 1K on Bloglovin' and 1K on Pinterest I'm still of the opinion that number of followers is not everything; it's much more important that you get enjoyment out of blogging and doing what you do rather than boasting 100K followers that you don't even engage with. However, it's good to have a couple of small goals just to reach your next level. These numbers aren't huge but they'd be a great achievement to me personally.

Increase engagement with bloggers Talking to other like-minded bloggers is one of my favourite aspects of blogging so I'll be making sure I do more of what I love. I want to involve myself in chats, debates, comment on more posts and share more of the posts and blogs that deserve recognition within the blogosphere. Since I started blogging, I have rapidly reduced the amount of time I spend reading other blogs so I'm determined to get back into it.

Work with one brand I love Despite blogging for a year and a half, I have worked with a really limited number of brands to date. This isn't something that bothers me as that's not the reason I blog nor is it something that I expect, however, it would be a real privilege to collaborate with at least one brand this year that I'm really passionate about.

Use my blog as a platform to discuss important issues This is probably the goal I would like to achieve the most this year. I briefly mentioned this here in my Francesca Jayne: Blog Rebrand & New Direction post but I want to use my blog to talk about much more than lipstick; I want to include topical issues too. I'm a firm believer that if we are lucky enough to have the freedom to do so, we should use our voices for the greater good so that's what I'm going to attempt to do.

Complete the elite management programme In early December, after hours of researching & collating facts, figures and data then attending the most intense/nerve wracking interview with the Managing Director, I was accepted on to my company's internal management programme. I was successful along with 12 other candidates out of 6,000 people in the company so I'm absolutely over the moon. I'm hugely grateful for the opportunity but I'm not going to say that I'm lucky to get on it. I've worked my arse off, day in, day out for the last 4 years to get where I want to be and I know I deserve my place. It's a 12 month intensive training course with senior managers and I'll be working from London more frequently. There is quite a history of people dropping out due to the pressure so my aim is to ensure that I see this programme through to completion.

Work less This seems rather contradictory following on from the previous point but I think society as a whole need to learn how to achieve more of a balance between working and living. At the moment, my work load is equivalent to roughly 2.5 jobs, I never take a break throughout the day and I'm always working unpaid out of hours. 2017 will be the year that I will learn to be more selfish with my time. I will focus on getting the most out of my career for me and saying 'no' a lot more to the people who try to add unnecessary pressures to my working life.

Self care As I'm sure most of you will know, working full time and blogging often means that self care is pushed right to the back of the queue. I've been working on this quite a bit recently, taking some me time and keeping a healthy mind. I will immerse myself in as many boiling hot Radox bubble baths, treat my face to numerous face masks (pictures of me wearing said masks will obviously be posted on Twitter), drink more water and allow myself relaxing beauty treatments on a regular basis. I'm going to try and reduce my social media usage and read more books too!

Continue to travel Travelling is my haven - it's the only time I feel that I can truly relax and switch off from the stressful realities of life. I want to explore even more countries and also make the most of the amazing country that we live in. Myself and my sister already have a trip booked to Belgium in March and we're hoping to fit in another couple of countries before the end of the year if we can!

Let me know in the comments what you're hoping to achieve in 2017...

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