UK Beauty, Fashion & Lifestyle Blog

Sunday, 24 June 2018

The Pressure To Look Good In A Bikini & The Little Things I Do To Feel More Confident

It's that time of year again. The weather's getting warmer and lots of us are heading off on our summer holidays, which means it's officially swimwear season! 

The term 'bikini body ready' is a funny one. As much as I hate the pressure from society to look amazing in a bikini and have my body in its best condition, I can't help but put pressure on myself to look good. This comes down to having a lot of body confidence issues over the years (which I explained in a lot of depth in another post here). But in short, my tummy has always been the main thing that's got me down. I'm only 5ft and am very small in the boob area, so every time I look in the mirror all I see is tummy. So as you can imagine, getting used to wearing a bikini again each summer is a little scary for me. 

Since that blog post last year, I have lost around a stone in weight - however whilst my confidence has improved, I'm still not oozing confidence and my current relationship with the gym is not very good, so I feel a little like I'm letting myself down. I feel like I will almost never be satisfied with what I have? It's really sad when I think about it, but I feel like this is something that will gradually improve as I get older. Accepting my body and the way it sometimes changes is definitely something that is hard to grasp, for me anyway. 

However, I'm doing my very best to accept myself for who I am and I am absolutely going to wear a bikini this summer. Who cares if I don't have the flattest stomach in the world? Who cares if I don't have perky boobs and a nice cleavage to fill my bikini? Who cares if I don't have 'dat booty'?! My boyfriend Aaron always reminds me that there are so many people on the beach and around the pool who don't even know me or might not even notice I'm there. So they're definitely not all going to be staring at me and looking at my body in the same way that I am. In reality, they might be thinking the exact same thing about themselves or just be enjoying their holiday instead of looking at people's bodies! Once I start to tell myself this, it usually makes me feel a bit better about myself. 

Whilst I might not feel 100% comfortable in my bikini, there are a few things I like to do before I go on holiday to make myself feel a bit more pampered and confident...

Make my skin silky smooth

It's kind of a running joke within my family that I have 'lizard skin' (lol) - my skin, especially on my legs is just SO DRY. I have to admit, I'm not exactly the best at keeping up the moisturising routine. But before I go on holiday, I make a special effort to keep my skin as smooth as possible. At the moment I've been loving the Baylis and Harding Coconut & Lime Body Butter because it smells amazing and it's really thick and creamy, so it adds a lot of moisture back in to my skin. I also make sure to shave my legs on the reg so I really get that 'wow I'm a dolphin' feeling - hahaha.

Get on my gradual tanning routine

As well as dry skin, I'm also very pale and it takes me a while to build up a natural tan (unlike my Mum and boyfriend who go brown so easily, jealous). I've never actually done this prior a holiday before, but this year I'm gradually fake tanning the week before I go away. Why have I not done this before?! Already I feel so much more confident and am loving my natural sunkissed glow. I've been the St Tropez Gradual Tan Pre Shower Mousse. It builds up so naturally and doesn't go streaky at all. It says to leave it on for one minute before rinsing off in the shower, but I usually leave it on for around 5-10 minutes as I find this gives a much nicer and more noticeable glow, whilst still with the ability to keep building it up over days to come. 

Buy some new swimwear

Sometimes I look through my swimwear drawer and feel completely uninspired. Wearing an old bikini that I don't necessarily love any more definitely doesn't make me feel the best, so investing in one or maybe a few new pieces of swimwear is a great way to boost my confidence. I've bought a couple of new bikinis this year and actually a couple of swimming costumes (from F&F at Tesco would you believe?! Check them out) which I haven't worn since I was probably about 12. But I have to say they look so pretty on and really flatter my figure.

Give my nails some well-deserved attention

Painting my nails can really make me feel like I've got my life together. Looking down and seeing freshly painted nails on both my fingers AND toes is just the best feeling. I just feel more pampered, pretty and put together? I know it's only such a small thing, but it really does make a huge difference. Plus, a summer holiday is a perfect excuse for putting on a gorgeous summery nail polish. I'm going to Ibiza so I might even put some glitter on my nails too!

If you're struggling with body confidence at this time of year especially, I really hope this post is useful and just so you know, you are definitely NOT alone! Lots of love x

How do you feel about the pressure to look good in a bikini? Is there anything you do to make yourself feel more confident and comfortable?  


Sunday, 17 June 2018

Long Distance Relationships Can Work: Celebrating The End of 3 Years Apart

For the past three years, Aaron and I have been in a long distance relationship. He's been at uni 4 and a half hours away on a coach/train whilst I've been at uni here in our hometown. Can it work? Yes it bloody well can, you just have to want to make it work. 

On the day this blog post goes live, 17th June 2018, is also our three year anniversary. So not only are we celebrating three years together in general, we are celebrating the end of three years of long distance. This also means that the majority of our relationship has been spent travelling backwards and forwards to visit each other (apart from the summer/xmas holidays). I honestly cannot tell you how good it feels to finally get what we want, to both be living at home and able to see each other when we please. 

Long distance relationships work for a lot of couples, but for others they just don't work out. It definitely requires a lot of positivity, strength and love from both sides in order to want to make it work. But even when they do work, it can be mentally draining and quite upsetting when you just long to spend time with your partner. 

I have done a blog post about this before, but since people will be going to university soon (and potentially about to start a long distance relationship) and I now have two more years experience and knowledge, I thought I'd do an updated version with my top tips on how to make it work.

Try to visit each other as much as possible 

Aaron and I visited each other every two weeks, which I know might sound like quite a lot for some people, depending how far away you live from one another. Having a visiting schedule does take the edge off slightly, as you can count down to when you next see each other instead of not having a clue how long it's going to be until the next time. It takes a lot of commitment, because we had to make sure we had enough money to visit each other. With me living at home, I was lucky enough to be able to help Aaron out a bit when it came to train fares and coach fares. We would also often split the cost so it was fair.

Plan fun things to do when you see each other

This really is key as it allows you both to have something to look forward to whilst you're apart. I'd also say this is one of few perks to a long distance relationship because it allows you to appreciate each other's time a lot more. Take the time to explore new places in your area to go for a walk or grab something to eat. One of mine and Aaron's favourite hobbies is to find new lunch spots. You'd be surprised how many cool places you'll visit when you're putting more effort into your days out.

FaceTime when you can

A lot of the time, texts just won't cut it. Schedule in FaceTime dates where you can really talk about your day and have a proper face to face conversation with your loved one. In my opinion, this is so important in maintaining effective communication with your partner and makes it a lot more bearable (what would we do without modern technology, eh!). Me and Aaron usually FaceTime late in the evening just before bed. It gives me something to look forward to and definitely means my day ends on a high. 

Spend time with friends and family when you're sad

I often feel really sad and deflated on the day Aaron has left. From being so excited and happy on Friday turns into the complete opposite on Monday when I drop him to the train station. Saying goodbye gets easier over time but is never pain-free, and honestly, you just want nothing more than for them to stay. The best way to combat this sadness is to try and keep yourself busy whilst you adjust to life apart again. Arrange to see your friends and try to spend time with your family instead of sitting alone in your bedroom.

Maintain a good level of trust with your partner

This is usually the reason why a lot of long distance relationships end, because, for example, one is worried about all the new people the other might meet and that they might be forgotten back at home. If you have a strong enough bond and level of trust with your partner, this is easy enough to push past as you know they love you and want to be with you. In the long run, this makes your relationship so much stronger and will definitely set you up for the future. 

Be open with your partner

Because you live further apart and don't see each other face to face, you might realise that certain feelings get bottled up from time to time. It's so important to speak to your partner and let them know when you're down about something. Let them know when you're missing them or when you wish they were there with you. It really makes a difference by helping them to feel loved and realise that you're thinking of them. 

I am SO happy that this era in mine and Aaron's lives is over but I am also so grateful for the memories we made along the way and how strong we are now as a couple. Here's to the future!

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? 


Sunday, 10 June 2018

My Thoughts On Starting My Final Year of Uni & Career Pressure

I can't believe I only have one year left in education. After all the great (and not so great) memories from my school days, making new friends and saying goodbye to old ones, getting used to university life and growing up a heck of a lot, it's fair to say I've nearly made it. 

NB: it's gonna be a long one - sorry! 

It sounds SO cliché, but my life has almost been boiling down to this very moment. Education is every young persons norm, through childhood, teenage years and right through to early adulthood. There's always something next. But this time next year, I would have finished this huge chapter in my life and the world will await - hopefully I'll have secured or be actively searching for a job. 

I've had a whole year off uni (I've been on a placement year - a post to come) so the fact that I've gone without coursework, revision and general 'uni life' for an entire year means I've kind of forgotten what it feels like. I'm a bit frightened of going back and not being able to fully adjust to doing assignments. Let me tell you, a year of coming home in the evening and having my weekends free of work has been BLISS. But hopefully once I've done an assignment or two, I'll be back into the swing of things.

Because I've been on a placement year, some of my uni friends are a year ahead of me because they went straight into final year. It's been great to get a little insight into what to expect and advice on how to 'survive final year' as it were. One of my friends gave me some great advice; he told me to simply make the most of your last 'care-free' (minus the coursework ofc) year and make most of the student life. Work hard, but bloody play hard too. I know it's probably going to be one of the hardest years of my life, but I'm hoping to make it enjoyable as I possibly can be. 

Something that I'm finding it hard to accept is that my blog will probably become more neglected in my final year of university. This is my last year of studying, so I want to give it my all by putting my degree first. I absolutely love blogging and it's the best creative outlet, plus it's an amazing asset to show to future employers. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get some content up, maybe a bit more over on my Instagram compared to here, but we'll just have to wait and see.

A huge bonus is that my boyfriend Aaron is graduating this year, so he'll be living at home and can support me throughout my final year. Knowing that I won't have the stress and upset of a long distance relationship is going to make university a lot more of an enjoyable experience for me. Simply knowing he only lives down the road just feels oh so good. (Aaron I apologise in advance for any coursework and diss related breakdowns that you will probably witness).

I've worked in the real working world this year, but to think that I'll soon be in it for good is so exciting yet a little bit frightening. There's a lot of pressure to find a job, because there's so much competitiveness. And in my opinion, I think there's a lot of pressure to make a life for yourself in the big city, specifically London. I get it, there's a huge range of amazing companies based in London with a vast amount of opportunities, but to be frank, London just is not for me. When I tell people I want to stay at home, some people are just like 'Oh, right.' Like, they don't really know what to say. 

Due to my anxiety (and just general personality/loving where I live), I've always been a home girl and I know that lifestyle would just absolutely ruin me. I know people probably think I'm just turning down great opportunities, but heck there's more to life than London. There's some amazing companies and jobs out there closer to home, and just because I don't live in London does not mean I won't have a successful career. Throughout my placement year at home I've met so many successful and talented people who I feel very privileged to have worked with, which goes to show you can make it anywhere. I just wish some people (definitely not all) would understand that there are opportunities everywhere and certain lifestyles do not suit everyone. Who knows, maybe one day I will work there if Aaron and I both found our dream jobs there, but in reality and for now, we both love it where we are and will go with the flow throughout our careers.

If you've made it to this point, give yourself a pat on the back and thank you so much for staying!

Have you recently graduated or will be graduating soon and if so, how do you feel about it? Do you think there is pressure on young people to work in the big city?


Thursday, 7 June 2018

My Current Favourite Nude Lipsticks

As you're probably aware, I'm a sucker for nude lipsticks, so my favourites seem to switch up all the time. It was very hard to narrow it down, however here's some I am loving right now...

MAC Blankety | Word of warning: most of my favourite lipsticks are MAC; I just love their shade range and formulas! Anyway, Blankety is one of MAC's Amplified Creme lipsticks, so the formula is really creamy and moisturising, however still with a good amount of colour payoff. I absolutely love this shade, it's the perfect nude/beige pink. I love wearing this alone when I just want a more natural look to my lips, but it also looks amazing on top of a lipliner or darker nude to lighten it up and add some more pink tones. It doesn't last as long as a matte would because of it's creamy formula, however when worn on top of a matte lipstick, the colour pay off definitely hangs around for a little longer. All in all, this one is a perfect every day staple!

MAC Mud Wrestler | I'm not sure if this lipstick was limited edition? But I can't seem to find it on the MAC website, which makes me SO sad! Mud Wrestler is a light, beige toned nude with a hint of pink. For me, this shade looks a lot lighter on my lips than it does in the swatch. On it's own, it does wash me out a little. However, this shade is perfect for putting over the top of a darker nude to lighten it up and give the centre of my lips more definition. For example, this lipstick on top of MAC's Stripdown creates the most gorgeous light brown toned nude on my lips, which is a huge win! It has a Matte finish, so lasts a long time and I don't find myself needing to top up regularly. I never want this to run out - someone please let me know if it's limited edition or not?! 

MAC Viva Glam II | This is one of my all time favourite lipsticks. It's just the perfect pinky/mauve nude that suits my skin tone so well. It was one of those lipsticks that I first tried on and thought OMG I'm going to get so much wear out of this. It's a Satin finish, so it lasts a long time but has a little more creaminess than a matte. This goes amazingly with NYX's Mauve lipliner, but I also think this would look great with MAC's Whirl lipliner (which I still haven't tried!). I also love the packaging of the Viva Glam lipsticks, the pop of red just makes it feel more luxurious when I use it. And, the money received when buying this lipstick goes straight to MAC's HIV and AIDs fund, so it's great to know that my money goes towards such a worthwhile cause.

Too Faced Melted Matte Lipstick in Child Star | I was drawn to Child Star because of its beautiful colour; it's a soft dusky pink nude. It applies so smoothly to the lips and dries down to a matte finish within a few minutes, giving a very lightweight and smooth effect without settling into fine lines. I do find applying liquid lipstick slightly difficult, so I make sure to line my lips first so I can achieve a neat and tidy outline. The colour is really opaque within one or two swipes, and once it's on, it stays on for hours and fades away nicely without getting that strange line on your lips where it's started to come off. Even through eating, I find that this shade lasts really well. Also, you actually get a good amount of product with this (7ml) so I feel like this is going to last me a while, considering I don't tend to wear liquid lipsticks every day (just because I do find most of them quite drying). Overall, I'm so glad I picked this up and can't wait to keep wearing it!


(Completely unedited photo) From L-R: MAC Blankety; MAC Mud Wrestler; MAC Viva Glam II; Too Faced Melted Matte in Child Star
I have so many more nude lipsticks which I love, so do let me know if you'd like to see any more of my collection!

Have you tried any of these lipsticks? What's your current favourite nude lipstick?

xo, Hannah


Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Altering Your Foundation Shade The Easy Way with The Body Shop

Gone are the days of buying a different foundation shade for both summer and winter. Now, I've got one easy and quick fix that won't break the bank!

I've been meaning to do this blog post for some time now. I actually bought both of these last summer, but never got round to talking about them! I always struggled with finding an appropriate foundation shade for my skin; from wanting to lighten up a foundation shade that was slightly too dark (due to a lack of fair skin appropriate shades that some brands offer), or wanting to darken a foundation even more because I was wearing fake tan. When I discovered that The Body Shop had some products that would let me do just that, I just had to give them a whirl. And let me tell you, I am so impressed!

First up, it's the Honey Bronze Drops of Sun. The Body Shop do actually sell 'Darkening Drops' which are the complete opposite to the Lightening Drops, however I was definitely more drawn towards the Honey Bronze Drops of Sun. The kind lady in the shop advised that these were a lot better for giving you a more natural 'sunkissed' glow that's perfect for the summer time, which ticked all of my boxes! 

This product can be mixed into foundation or moisturiser, as well as alone on the face, however I don't really tend to do the latter. You can use as many drops as you like depending on how dark you want your skin/makeup to be, using the pipette applicator. The shade of the drops is a beautiful tan with red undertones which makes it a lot more natural and  like a real tan. Products with orange undertones often give that 'fake' orangey toned look, which I try to steer clear of! It's also matte so it doesn't add any unwanted shimmer to your skin or foundation shade, making it very easy to use with a variety of other products. 

It has a thin wet consistency, similar to water, and blends beautifully into foundation to make my foundation a suitable shade to match a real or fake tan. In general, it is very pigmented so I don't need to use much of this at all to alter my foundation shade, which is fab as it will last me a long time. And a big thing to note: these drops do not last like a fake tan would, you can simply wash it all off at the end of the day! The Honey Bronze Drops of Sun are available for £12 for 15ml, and considering how little I need to use on each application, I think it's well worth the money.

Next up, it's the Lightening Drops. These do exactly what they say on the tin, which is so useful for lightening up those pesky foundations that don't match my fair skin (despite being the lightest shade in the range!). These drops are of a slightly thicker texture and are definitely more opaque than the Drops of Sun. With the pipette applicator, I usually add a drop to the foundation on my hand, then add one more if I need to apply any more foundation. 

According to The Body Shop website, 1 drop = 1/2 a foundation shade lighter. I think this is pretty exact if you look at the swatches, which we will get onto below. I love these drops as they definitely help to combat those orangey undertones that some foundations have and helps to create more neutral tones. 

The Lightening Drops are available for £11 for 15ml, and again, are going to last a very long time. So, in my opinion, this is a very worthwhile spend for such an amazing makeup hack!

Onto the swatches...

Top to Bottom, L to R: One drop each unblended; one drop each blended slightly into skin; one drop of foundation vs one drop of foundation with one drop of Honey Bronze; one drop of foundation vs one drop of foundation with Lightening drops.
Purely for the purpose of the photos, I went for a one drop of foundation: one drop of Honey Bronze/Lightening drops ratio. This ratio will of course depend on what shade I want to create on my face and the amount of foundation I use. For example I might use three drops of foundation, but still  use one drop of the Honey Bronze drops (so the foundation shade won't darken as much as in the photo above). The images above are just to show you how quickly the products can change a foundation shade, i.e. they definitely do what they say on the tin.

My only slight dig at these products is sometimes the pipettes can be a bit temperamental and get blocked up, so sometimes I have to squeeze the pipette a few times to unblock it.

But overall, I am so SO impressed with how amazing both of these products work. They make matching my skin tone all year round a very easy task, and I am so pleased that I discovered them! 

Side note: I am so keen to try The Body Shop Body Yogurts... does anyone recommend?

Have you tried the Honey Bronze Drops of Sun or the Lightening Drops? What do you think of this cool makeup hack?
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