Sunday, 22 May 2016

New In Beauty | May 2016

My makeup routine rarely changes from month to month but I have been trying to shake it up a little recently with a few items which have been missing from my beauty collection.

(from left to right clockwise) Stila Perfect Me, Perfect Hue Eye & Cheek Palette in Light / Medium (£28)*, Makeup Geek Eye Brushes (£6.50 each), LA Girl Pro Conceal HD Concealer in Pure Beige (£2.99), Becca Opal Glow on the Go Collection (£20), Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in Black (£7.99)

I'm hopeless at applying eyeshadow despite watching countless YouTube tutorials but I'm working on it. Part of my struggle is that I don't actually have many eyeshadow brushes to work with so I picked up a few basics from Makeup Geek to practice with - the Soft Dome, Pointed Crease and Outer V brushes. All are only £6.50 each from Beauty Bay and are decent quality so are perfect for beginners like me. Stila also recently sent over their newly released Perfect Me, Perfect Hue palette for light and medium skin which comes with a dual ended brush. The palette contains 5 eye shades which cater to my love of neutral eye looks so I'm hoping that when I finally get the hang of applying eyeshadow this palette will see a lot more use. To complete my eye looks I also bought the Maybelline Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner. I've been wearing eyeliner a lot more but I've only ever used liquid or felt tip eyeliners before. I found gel harder to work with at first but the buttery texture glides on easily and dries quickly, staying in place throughout the day. 

Now that it's warmer I've been relying on products to give my skin a sunkissed glow (like my latest makeup look for my YouTube channel here). Key to this look is a great highlighter and I'm in love with the Becca Opal Glow On The Go Collection I picked up from Cult Beauty recently. The collection features two miniature highlighters in liquid and pressed form. A little really does go a long way with both products and give such a gorgeous highlight. I usually use bronzer on my cheeks but I've also been loving the pink and coral shades in the Stila palette for a flush of colour.

My latest buy is the LA Girl Pro Conceal HD Concealer which was only £2.99. I've been meaning to pick up one of these for the longest time but this was something I really wanted to test in-store to get the right shade. I found them at my local Pak Cosmetics and picked up Pure Beige which is slightly lighter than my skintone so I can use it to brighten my under eye area. I love the creamy texture which is easy to blend and conceals well. I'll definitely be grabbing a darker shade soon to contour with.

*sample - read my disclaimer here.
Have you bought any new beauty products?

Lesley x

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Review | MIZANI True Textures

Earlier this Spring salon-exclusive brand MIZANI (a division of L'Oreal) unveiled the new look for their True Textures range targeted at naturally curly, coily and wavy hair. I've tried a few MIZANI products before but mostly when my hair was straighter (relaxed/texlaxed). I recently cut off the last of my chemically-treated hair (see here) and now my hair is au naturel it has been interesting to dip into the wealth of products now available for curly hair. I was sent a few True Textures products, but the Cream Cleansing Conditioner (£13.80/250ml)* and Moisture Replenish Conditioner (£14.30/250ml)* are the ones I've been using most.

Both of the products are paraben-free, have a subtle floral scent and are infused with coconut, olive and marula oils. The Cleansing Conditioner is essentially like co-washing. It's sulphate-free but the formula does foam a little. I've been applying the product throughout my hair before massaging in and then rinsing as per the instructions. I have to admit though whilst it's in your hair it doesn't feel like it's doing anything. In fact, it feels like my hair is quite dry but after rinsing it's a different story entirely and the softness appears out of nowhere. Gentle cleansing is so necessary for my thirsty hair so I rely on co-washing or mild shampoos weekly, I'll continue to use this until it runs out.

Though technically the Cream Cleansing Conditioner is designed to be used alone, I've almost always used it with the Moisture Replenish Conditioner. As much as I've become more comfortable with a one-step washing process lately I still can't escape my impulsive need to do extra conditioning. I find it difficult to proactively moisturise my hair during the week, so the more conditioning I do, the less I tend to need styling product. The Moisture Replenish Conditioner isn't technically a deep conditioner but I've been leaving it in my hair for about 15-30 minutes and the results rival some of my favourite hair masks. The main downside however is I got through the now empty tub in 4 uses even when using sparingly.

Both are great products though a little out of my budget currently. When am able to splurge I'd definitely pick up the Moisture Replenish Conditioner.

The new MIZANI True Textures range is available from MIZANI appointed salons nationwide which you can find through their website www.mizani-uk.com.

*sample - read my disclaimer here.

What hair products have you been using?

Lesley x

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Style | Forever 21 Khaki Jacket

I show very little of my style on my blog but I'm hoping that's about to change. A couple of things have held me back in creating more style posts up until now - very few opportunities to actually shoot outdoors, a lack of space and lighting indoors to take full length shots and I started to scrutinise whether my personal style was actually 'fashionable'. I love blogging but the standard is so high in the blogging community that sometimes I forget that I really shouldn't put so much pressure on something I started for fun.

I've been dressing more casual lately in general and this Forever 21 jacket has been my go-to now it's warmer. I've mostly been wearing it with dainty camis like the one here and converse. I don't like trainers usually but I love a pair of converse sneakers and I've been collecting a few pairs in white as they go with almost everything. I've also finally got over not getting my legs out for two reasons - it has been gorgeously sunny in the UK and I've become almost entirely unbothered about the scarring on my legs which I've kept hidden for the past few years.

I have stretch marks (thanks puberty), dark knees and brown pitted scarring on my lower left leg but I've stopped caring. I'll admit my legs are starting to look more even now and my u-turn on hating my legs is partly due to the fact that I'm wearing tights here. I was sent some Ownbrown Ultrasheer Tights (£9)* way back in March but haven't worn them until the last couple of weeks. I'm wearing Ownbrown's lightest shade Amani which are darker than my skintone but as they're sheer you can barely even tell I'm wearing tights in person.

Top - Topshop | Jacket - Forever 21 | Shorts - River Island | Tights - Ownbrown* | Shoes - Converse | Rings - Pilgrim & Rebecca Gladstone* | Watch - Olivia Burton

Primark has some tights which work great for medium or tanned skin but before I stumbled upon these for years I used to joke that creating a line of nude tights for darker skin was my billion dollar idea. I love that women like Ownbrown founder Nadine Njoko Peisker are finally taking it upon themselves to create products to solve the lack of diversity on the market currently. These Ownbrown tights are so comfortable, not overly shiny and are the right amount of sheer at 20 denier. I was sent a size large (which is a size bigger than I need according to the size guidelines) but they fit perfectly. You only get one pair in a pack which is a shame as I have a tendency to catch my nails on my tights. These have so far surprisingly survived 2 wears and (hand) washing so I'll be grabbing another pair as a back up.

*sample - read my disclaimer here.

What have you been wearing lately? 

Lesley x

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Everyday Glow Makeup [Video]

It’s been a while since I've made an everyday makeup tutorial and as the weather is warmer now I thought I'd combine an updated routine with a few things I've been using to give my skin a summer glow.

The Video:

What's your everyday makeup routine?

Lesley x

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Review | Sara Hill Makeup

Launched in Summer last year, Sara Hill Makeup is the brain-child of Scottish-born makeup Artist turned Magazine Editor Sara Hill. She's an intriguing character and described as a "non-conformist, expert beauty that doesn't patronise, apologise or explain" - definitely my kind of woman. Her makeup brand is inspired by "fashion, club kids, pop culture" and interestingly "chain-smoking aunties". Her collection features a kaleidoscope of glitters, pigments and lip colours as well as foundations and concealers. I am impressed with the quality of both the packaging and the products themselves however they do come with a pretty premium price tag.

Left to right clockwise Luxury Face Primer (£27), Treasure Chest Eyeshadow (£16), Berrywood Lip Pencil (£15), Retro Red Lip Pencil (£15), I-AM Lipstick (£17) and Sadie Doll Lipstick (£17)* 

I created an easy makeup look with a few of the products sent over. I applied the luxury face primer first, underneath my usual foundation which left a nice smooth finish. I then swept a little of the Treasure Chest eyeshadow over my lids which is a neutral taupe brown. I found the eyeshadow quite chalky but the colour really suits my skintone so I'll try more looks using this in future. I then smudged a little black kohl eyeliner around my eyes to give them a bit more dimension.

I'm wearing the Sadie Doll Lipstick in the picture above which is a beautiful bright orange red. It's not a colour I would usually go for but it's a welcome change. I applied the Retro Red Lip pencil underneath which is a different colour to the Sadie Doll lipstick but you can't even see it once the lipstick is applied. The lip products here are my favourites as they're all stunningly pigmented and leave a gorgeous smooth finish.

Overall I really loved these products and it's great to be introduced to a quality brand I was previously unfamiliar with. Sara Hill Makeup is all about bold colour so here I've only really dipped my toe into a small section of what they have to offer. If you love bright bold colours, glitters and are prepared to pay a bit more for quality makeup this may the brand for you. As far as I can tell Sara Hill Makeup is only available online through their website.

What makeup have you been wearing lately?

Lesley x

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

How I fill in my brows [Video]

I’ve changed how I fill in my eyebrows over the past few months so I decided to create an updated video for my YouTube channel. The process is pretty simple but I rely on it daily to give my naturally wonky and sparse brows a little more fullness and shape! See the below video for exactly what I do and if you have any more videos you'd like to see let me know in the comments.

The Video: 

Do you fill in your brows?

Lesley x

Sunday, 1 May 2016

5 Ways to improve blog photography

I'm always looking to improve my blog photography but it has changed leaps and bounds since I first started blogging. Developing your style and way of taking photos takes time. I've changed how I arrange and shoot photos over the past few years (a lot) and being willing to experiment helps. I don't have set rules when it comes to taking photos for my blog. I just like clear, well-lit photos and I think that's key for any blogger. Here's what helped me the most in improving my blog photography.

Lighting is everything. Take pictures in daylight if possible, it's free and just placing your items near a window can create gorgeous soft lighting. No daylight or live in a dull, dimly lit area of the UK like me? I take all of my 'selfies' under artificial light as I can't get close enough or in front of my tiny windows without having to move furniture around. I rely on 'daylight' bulbs which produce a colour which is a close as possible to natural daylight and is much more flattering than typical yellow-cast indoor lighting. You could get softboxes but purchasing daylight bulbs are inexpensive, take up less space and you can use them with lighting you already have available to you. If you're still struggling with lighting take your blogging set-up outside but avoid shooting in direct sunlight which can cause harsh shadows.

Camera & Accessories
Bloggers have differing opinions on what kind of camera you 'need' to take great photos, it really depends on the images you're hoping to produce and your style of blogging. If the lighting is right smartphones or a standard point and shoot camera can produce gorgeous shots and they're far more portable than a heavy DSLR. I rarely blog on the go so I use a DSLR (Canon 700D) and with a huge choice of lenses I am able to achieve the kind of look and image quality I want. My go-to lens is the 'nifty fifty' (see above) which is a cheap lens but it produces stunning images and gives a beautiful blurry background (bokeh). You can elevate your pictures even further at little cost with a few accessories too, especially if like me you take most of your photos yourself. If you can get a wireless remote or selfie stick for your camera this will make taking self-portraits or candid shots much easier and a tripod will allow your images to be as sharp as possible (I use this remote and this tripod).

The devil is in the details and try not to overlook even the smallest ones. Ensure any photos are taken on clean, dust-free surfaces without any litter visible. I also try to take most of my photos when products are still fairly new. It's not always possible but over time the packaging can break and the branding can rub off which can spoil an otherwise beautiful photo. As much as blogging is supposed to be more 'real life' than magazines, blog photo quality is so high now that the look of what you're posting about is almost as important as the post itself. Visually it makes it easier for your reader to get a feel for what the product would look like straight off the shelf too. This is especially important when you're posting about something new or unheard of.

Backgrounds & Props 
Your backgrounds and styling of a photo can make your blog photos more recognisable. I like simplicity so generally rely on a plain wall for any snaps of my hair or makeup. With any product shots I tend to place my products on my desk or carpet (like here and here). I also love using flooring samples for backgrounds, which are perfect for smaller items like lipsticks (see above). I usually set them up somewhere with a decent amount of light and get in really close to take the picture. I've been using this one from B&Q since June last year which was only £2! I eventually ended up buying 4 and slot them together to take pictures of bigger items (see here, here and here for examples). When I first started my blog I used white sheets of paper or poster boards and some wood from an old cabinet which produced good results too, so again it really depends on what you're looking for. Don't be afraid to create your own backgrounds for a more unique result - you can use scrap materials, fabrics, contact or scrapbook paper, rugs or prints. Props can add more dimension to your photos too and can be anything from trays, flowers, magazines, books or decorative homewares. Just get creative and play with various options to find what works for you.

Shoot in RAW format if your camera can as this format captures all of the image data recorded by the camera's sensor. I won't get too technical here but if you shoot in jpeg a lot of the data which is captured by your camera's sensor is compressed, so if a picture is over or under exposed it becomes harder to edit. With RAW images you have a lot more freedom when editing. Ideally I'd love not to have to edit my photos but as my room looks pretty dim even during daylight I brighten most blog photos (like the before and after example below). I use Camera Raw 8.5 which is a plug-in for a range of Adobe photo editing software. I just play around with the sliders until I get the result I desire. If I need to do any further editing I'll use Photoshop Elements 12. I usually adjust the white balance here, crop, rotate, change the perspective (as some camera lenses can distort images) or play with 'actions' to add any effects to a photo, similar to what you can do with Instagram filters. You do not need the same programs as me to edit and there's a whole host of free editing software available like Apple Photo (for Mac users), GIMP and PicMonkey.

I've only included a few tips here as I didn't want this post to be too long but if there are any specific areas you'd like me to go more in depth with let me know in the comments.

What do you like when it comes to blog photography?

Lesley x