A Festive Lip Combo from Nars

Thursday, 16 November 2017

If a year ago you told me I'd be writing a post suggesting that people actually buy a lip gloss, I would've told you that you were insane. I used to hate gloss. But, this shade from Nars has made me fall for it, all with the help of this lip liner...

I honestly used to be that person who never liked lip gloss. I was a matte girl, through and through. However, I read a lot of posts about how great Nars lip glosses were and was slowly but surely getting swayed. When I saw this shade in 'Holly Woodlawn' in TK Maxx for £9.99, I jumped at the chance to finally nap a Nars gloss. 'Holly Woodlawn' was actually a limited edition shade from Nars, but you can still buy it here if it's taken your fancy. Or, if you'd rather get one from Nars' permanent range, the shade Scandal is very similar from what I can tell. Also, it's definitely worth checking out TK Maxx. They so often have higher end make up products in there that were once limited edition or ones that have been discontinued for half the price that they retail for. Quite often, the make up section in TK Maxx looks like a bomb has hit it, but occasionally and with the right amount of determination, you can pick up a complete gem in there.

Nars' lip glosses are unlike any formula I've tried. They are incredibly high shine without being outrageously sticky. They're so comfortable to wear, and incredibly hydrating which is refreshing when you've spent the last four years destroying your lips with matte shades and liquid lipsticks that constantly dry you out. Obviously, the colour isn't especially long lasting but it leaves almost a sheeny stain on your lips with wear that is almost as pretty as when you first put it on, which is amazing. They are also incredibly pigmented, which I really didn't expect from lip gloss. One swipe and you pretty much have opaque finish. In a way, the sheer quality of this gloss does make up for the retail price, which is £20. This lip gloss, on it's own, is such a beautifully vibrant red. It's one of the brightest reds I own and I completely love the shade by itself. However, also in TK Maxx, I found it's soulmate...

Enter Nars 'Salsa'. A nude brown lip liner. I didn't buy these both to go together, but because I bought them at the same time, I wanted to try them out when I got home so I just layered them up on top of each other and OH. MY. GOD. I instantly fell in love with the colour that this gave. It helps the longevity of the gloss but provides the deepest, vampiest red that I've just fallen for. Since buying these two, I've been going overkill with the combination, wearing it all the damn time. And it's made me love gloss. So much so, that I want more glosses. I want all of the glosses. Get me to the gloss.

Salsa is such a pretty colour; it reminds me quite a lot of MAC's Amorous when you actually apply it to the lips. It's got mauve undertones which are extremely flattering but I wouldn't wear this lip-liner by itself as, when applied all over the lips, it can be quite drying. Which is why I popped the gloss over the top. I also get MAC Velvet Teddy vibes from this lip liner because it's quite a classic 90's shade in my opinion. I definitely think for winter, this lip liner is the one and would go with so many other lip products.

 I actually can't find this one online anywhere other than eBay, which I'm not going to link as eBay is infamous for fake products and I don't want to advertise something when I don't know if it's 100% genuine. However, a lip liner with a similar effect is Nars' 'Marnie' which, from looking at online swatches, is such a similar colour to 'Salsa' and therefore would make a fantastic compromise, along with the 'Scandal' lip gloss.

Here is a swatch with the lip products layered, and I honestly think it's stunning. It's a bright pop of red but with those gorgeous mauvey undertones which makes it a perfect lip combination with a subtle hint of gold on the eye and a sharp contour for a Christmas party, or maybe even for Christmas Day. I definitely think I'm gong to be rocking this combo all year round, however. The staying power of the lip liner, as it is very matte, helps prolong the colour lips and even though after eating you'd have to reapply the gloss, you definitely will not have to reapply this lip liner. 

This is my staple lip combo for the season. I'm so happy I got a bargain and a fantastic look out of it. What is your staple lip look going to be for winter? Will you be trying something new? 

4 Ways I'm Saving Money For Christmas

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Last December, Christmas had me in the worst debt I've ever been in. This year, I vowed that this would not happen again. Here are the things I'm doing this festive period to ensure I don't get bogged down in my overdraft again...

Starting Early!

Johnny is a firm believer that you shouldn't even mention Christmas a week before the big day so when I suggested that we went Christmas shopping in September, he was horrified. However, it's November now and I nearly have all my Christmas shopping done and I've spread the cost over three months which means my bank account hasn't taken the huge hit in December that it took last year. The only presents I have left to buy now are for Johnny (they're all in my Amazon basket ready to check-out when my no-spend is over) and something final for my dad. This is the most organised I've ever been for Christmas and I'm very proud of myself. 

Deals, Deals, Deals!

I say this to everyone every Christmas but Boots have absolutely stellar bargains on around this time of year. My friend Lucy swears by the Boots 3 for 2 at Christmas time and she always uses her Boots advantage card points to buy them which I think is a bloody fantastic idea. When she did I last year, I decided I was going to steal that idea and this year it has paid of really well for me. My 'mother-in-law' is getting a huuuge Bayliss & Harding gift set which I managed to pick up for only £12 when the contents is worth £50, so I hope she'll be happy with that because I certainly was! Other family members are getting other bargains from Boots as well, all bought with my advantage card points! 

Spend Within Your Means!

This sounds so obvious, but don't spend money you don't have. Make yourself a clear budget before you start Christmas shopping and try not to spend over it. Allot different budgets to different people, split the costs with your other half and make sure you stick to them. It can be really challenging to stick to budgets; I always want to go over and buy something extra for my mum, or a little something extra for Johnny but I've been so good this year at not doing that and just sticking to what I've allotted and it's made such a difference to my finances. This is something I definitely recommend if you're struggling with money this festive period. 

Save, Save, Save! 

I decided to do most of my shopping in October and September, then save all my earnings up in November and I'm going to do the last little bit of shopping in December. Last Christmas, I didn't really take into account what a terrible hit to my finances Christmas would be and I got into so much debt. If you are in debt, and you do need help then you can click here for more info. This year, following a strict budget (I may or may not have an Excel spreadsheet on my laptop) I have managed to do nearly all of my Christmas shopping a month in advance and I'm not struggling financially, which is just fantastic. It means that December money can be used to buy Quality Street and copious amounts of cheese!

Those are my top tips for saving money this Christmas! Especially as a student, money can be really stressful and I don't want to give my family sub-par presents, so I found these tips have really helped me! What are your tips for money saving this Christmas?

*This post has been sponsored.*

A Glossier Haul

Sunday, 12 November 2017

October was the month that everyone lost their sh*t about Glossier. All I saw on my Twitter feed was Glossier-this and Glossier-that. So, of course, I bought into the hype and made an order. I've had these bits a few weeks and definitely have discovered which work for me and which don't - so here is a little haul & mini-review of each product!

The Quartz Haloscope Highlighter was the item that I was most excited for because I am such a fan of a dewey, wet looking, golden highlighter.  However, for me, it was the biggest disappointment. The first time I tried it, it just took my foundation straight off and looked disgusting and clumpy on my cheeks. I was completely gutted, because it swatches so beautifully (see pictures below) but I can't wear it with foundation because it just doesn't sit right - and I never wear highlighter without foundation so it's a bit useless to me now really. With my Benefit Watts Up, which I have the same kind of issues with) I use that as an eye shadow instead because it's so pigmented. However, with Quartz, it's just not as pigmented so doesn't really show up on my eyes at all. I think it would be completely stunning on my face but unfortunately, it just doesn't work with my foundation. And, I suppose, the idea of Glossier is a brand focused on looking natural so you probably shouldn't pair this with full-coverage foundation and maybe that's why it sits funny. However, I will definitely play around with this some more to attempt to get it to work for me!

As you all know, I'm a big fan of a moisturising primer and this one is no exception. As soon as I put it on my face, I was instantly impressed. It creates such a fantastic, hydrating, plumping base for your make up and sometimes I put this on even if I'm not wearing make up, just because it makes your skin feel so supple and soft - like a baby's bottom. I have really dry and dehydrated skin and so I usually opt for moisturising primers, my favourite being the Laura Geller Spackle Primer. This primer is just as good as that one. Your face doesn't feel sticky or tacky after applying and it sinks in really quickly. When I do my make up in the morning I usually apply this first, then make a cup of tea and some breakfast while it sinks in and does its thing, and then go back to my dresser (with my tea and breakfast) and apply the rest of my make up. It provides such a fantastic base and it's a little cheaper than the Laura Geller one that I love so much, so it's a fantastic alternative. Also, the packaging is so cute. I 100% recommend. 

The Cloud Paints are probably one of the most famous items that Glossier do and they were something that I was honestly sceptical about trying. On a normal day, I don't use a really heavy blush (my everyday blushes are Nars 'Hot Sand' and 'MAC Melba') and I was worried that these were going to be too intense for me. I mean, they're called "Cloud Paints" and paint isn't really a word that suggests light to me. However, these are incredibly sheer but buildable and look honestly gorgeous on the cheek. I do wish I'd gone for a different shade to Puff as I don't often opt for pink blushes and I think Beam would've been a better colour for me for everyday as it's more similar to my favourites. However, I do really adore the formula. It's so easy to blend out to a natural flush on the cheeks with a damp Beauty Blender. I think when I do my next order - cos we all know I have 0 self control - I will pick up Beam and hopefully have a more everyday shade with that one, as Puff is a little intense for me for everyday. I still think it's fantastic, though.

I really struggle with my brows. I can't do 'insta-brows' and I'm way too lazy to carve them out every morning with my ABH Pomade, as much as I'd like to. Benefit Gimme Brow has been one of my staples in my make-up collection for so long and I was about to repurchase, but when Glossier launched in the UK and I realised I could try Boy Brow, I decided to leave my Gimme Brow and try something new. And I'm so glad I did. Boy Brow is so pigmented, with a small brush applicator which makes it incredibly easy to be precise. It takes me approximately 2 minutes to do my brows in the morning now with this pomade. I just quickly brush it through my brows after using a pencil to create a basic shape and then I'm done. It's amazing and I'm so pleased that I picked it up because it's such an easy solution to flawless brows err'day. If you're like me and can't do your eyebrows to save your life then you need this little baby. It's a real winner.

Swatches of Quartz & Puff

If you want to try out some of these babies then you can shop Glossier UK with 10% off using this link! If you use this link, then I will get a little bit of store credit in exchange for you guys getting 10% off. Well worth it in my opinion!

How To Become a Photography Pro

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Since starting my blog back in January of this year, photography has been the biggest learning curve for me. Now, I don't think that I'm a photography pro by any means but before I started blogging, I'd never picked up a DSLR camera and now I not only own one, but also can take a half decent picture on one. Today, I will be sharing my tips with you so you can better improve your photos!

This monstrosity is a photo I took in January on my first ever blog post, which was an Illamasqua haul. As you can see, the background of this photo is pretty dirty. This was taken on a windowsill in my mum's house that the cat often liked to sit on, so no wonder it was a bit ugly. So that's my first tip. Get a clean, bright background. In my photos these days I use a board that I bought from Hobbycraft which was literally about £3. I do have to replace it because it's only foam, so it does wear and tear (and gets lipstick on it quite a lot) but for the price, it works for me so well. If you want something a bit jazzier than plain white (which I am thinking of doing to improve my Christmas content) then you can find loads of patterned contact paper on eBay and Amazon. My favourite flat-lay queens are Gemma of 'Gemma Louise' and Rachael of 'Pale Girl Rambling' and they both use fantastic textures in the background of their stunning photos. Whether you go for plain or patterned, it doesn't matter. So long as it's clean!

Another tip that may seem really obvious to some but really helped improve my photography is using natural light, which is something that new-to-blogging Chloe managed to actually do by taking those photos on a windowsill. Natural light really is the key to making your photos stand out. I take my photos on our bed which sits under a huge window and it is the lightest spot in our house because it's south-facing. However, now the nights are drawing in and finding natural lighting is a bit harder to do, I'm considering investing in a soft-box light. This is in no way a necessity but if you work late and get home when it's dark or live in a cave with no natural lighting then perhaps investing in a soft box is a good idea for you. This one on Amazon is only £26.99, so quite a cheap option.

Another thing that can lift your photography to the next level is props. You don't need to go out and specially buy props for your photography, it can be stuff you've just got lying around the house. For example, I use lots of make-up items and brushes as props in my photos quite often. For example, in the above photo you can see I used a little Nars blush and a lipstick to add a bit of dimension to the photo. I also love using fresh and fake flowers in my photos, which you will know if you read my blog and follow me on Instagram. I mostly use fake flowers because an obvious perk of those is that they don't die. I get all of my fake flowers from Homesense or Hobbycraft and they're only about £2-3 a time, which is really good value when you can style them in so many ways. I also really like using magazines, my laptop, scarves and jewellery in my photos to create dimension and texture, which is so important when taking flat-lays.

Another very important aspect to having beautiful, eye-catching blog photography is the editing. You don't need fancy, expensive photo-editing software to achieve light, bright photos. I just use use the app Colour Story which you can download on the app store for free and use the editing tools on there. Everyone raves about VSCO but I personally couldn't get on with that at all so I chose to try something new and find that Colour Story is so user friendly. I have a post on how I edit my blog photos that you can check out for more in-depth tips, although I have changed the way I edit them ever-so-slightly since then!

Something else which I believe to be a photography hack is trying out different angles. Quite often, I really hate how my photos look from above but swap the angle around and completely love them. If you're feeling like a photo is lacking something, just switch the angle and you might completely fall in love with it. When I do a photo session, I have over 100 shots from all different angles when I'm finally done. Sometimes I choose from above, other times I choose from the side, or from behind. It's really up to you what your preference is. My pro top for getting great flay-lays from above is standing on a chair above your set up. 

Many people believe that in order to take really nice blog photos, you have to have a DSLR camera or the Best CSC Camera. I just don't think this is the case. While I do have a DSLR and do take all my blog photos using it (I have a Sony A350), I believe the way you style and edit your photos is far more important. Plus, iPhones now have such incredible cameras that you really don't need a DSLR. For example, Holly of The Kitty Luxe only uses her iPhone to take blog pictures and her photos are far more beautiful than mine and I own and use a DSLR. While a DSLR does give you the option of different lenses, macro settings etc, I definitely wouldn't invest in one until you've mastered styling your photos, as a fancy camera won't automatically make your photos beautiful. 

As I said, I'm by no means a photography pro but I think my photos have come along a lot since I first started blogging, which was 10 months ago now and I just wanted to show you how much progress can be made in that time! If you have any questions, feel free to DM me on Twitter!

*This post has been sponsored by Panasonic but all thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Foundation: An In Depth Review

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

When a foundation completely breaks the internet, you all know where it's going to end up... on my face. I'd heard so much about this foundation that I couldn't not pick it up. It almost would've been rude not buy it, right?

I've never been a huge Rihanna fan, and yeah, I was one of those people that thought Fenty was a slang word and not her surname. Please don't kill me. Therefore, when she launched Fenty Beauty, I didn't get that excited about it. I kind of assumed it would be like Kylie Cosmetics: overly priced and not really worth the money you spend on it. However, after reading completely rave reviews on the Soft Matte Foundation, I finally caved and picked up the Fenty foundation while in France last month with some Euros I was given for my birthday. I went back and forth on whether I liked this foundation for weeks but I'm firmly on the side of loving it right now. 

Coverage & Finish

This foundation claims to be full-coverage, but from one application I'd say it was more medium. I have quite a distinctive mole on my face and full-coverage foundations always cover that up first time, but it still peeks through with this foundation. Luckily, it's very buildable and can be built up to a flawless full-coverage. The coverage reminds me of the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation which is my holy grail foundation. Coverage-wise, this foundation gives me exactly what I need. It covers imperfections without it looking cakey or heavy. It provides a very natural full coverage which I'm very happy with.

The finish is very matte on me. I've seen a lot of people say that on them it's quite dewey but on me, it gives me just enough blending time and then dries down to a very natural looking matte. I love the finish that it provides because it's a matte foundation that still looks natural and just like a second skin - which is something I've never had before from a foundation. However, on my skin, I feel like I have to wear a moisturising primer under this to achieve the desired finish. 

I recently received a sample size of the Hourglass Hydra Veil primer and I popped this under my Fenty Foundation on a day when I needed my make up to last a long time. However, the foundation looked honestly disgusting over this primer. It clung to all the dry patches that I had under my eyes and around my nose, exaggerated all my pores and honestly just looked terrible. However, if I wear this with a moisturising primer like my Laura Geller Spackle primer, it looks fantastic & provides the desired finish.

Wear Time, Colour & Consistency

I don't have particularly oily skin but after about 8-9 hours of wear, my foundation usually starts to slip around on my nose, which is really my only oily area. This happens with every single foundation I own and have tried in the past. Obviously some are better than others, but I've never had a foundation that prevents the oilyness on my nose for more than that time. Fenty, being a matte foundation, lasts about 9 hours before I have to powder, but stays perfect on my dry and normal areas on my skin all day. As the day goes on, this does sink a little more into my pores and does exaggerate them a little more than I would like. It's not disastrous though and hasn't put me off wearing the foundation. 

The consistency of this foundation is surprisingly very runny. You can't really tell from the below picture but this foundation is incredibly thin. I don't really have an issue with really thin foundations as one of my absolute favourite foundations Nars Luminous All Day Weightless has a very similar consistency to this one and it really works for me. However, if you prefer to apply thicker or more gel-based foundations then I don't think that this foundation would be for you. I think this might be one of the reasons why it sinks into my pores so much. 

As for shade, I think I couldn't have picked a better one. As you can probably tell, 120 is quite a yellow-toned shade. But, as I am Gobi in Nars, yellow-toned foundations really suit me as I have quite yellow skin. I think this is one of my best matched foundations but with over 40 shades in the collection, I really would have been incredibly disappointed if I hadn't found a perfect match for my skin. I think Rihanna has really hit the nail on the head with the sheer amount of shades in this range. I don't struggle to find a colour match when it comes to foundation but I know some people who do struggle, so I hope that the amount of shades in this collection really helps them out.

Overall Thoughts

All in all, I do really like this foundation. I got a bit annoyed with it when it just wouldn't sit right on my skin, but now I've found that moisturising primer is the key! I am not so keen on the way it sinks into my pores either - but that is quite deal-able and won't stop me from wearing it. However, after a month of continuous wear, I have a suspicion that this foundation has been breaking me out. I have been getting the worst spots over the last few weeks and haven't been using anything new apart from this foundation so I will be really gutted if this turns out to be the cause. Let's all say a small prayer that it's hormones! I really went back and forth on whether I liked this foundation but I really do like it. It's buildable, a great colour match for me and provides a really lovely finish so I'm really glad that I picked it up. And, for a high-end foundation, it isn't badly priced at £26 a bottle. It's more similar to MAC prices than YSL or Nars - so it's purse friendly as well as face friendly! You can buy the Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Foundation on Harvey Nichols here!

Have you tried anything from the Fenty Beauty range by Rihanna? What did you think of it? 

Giving Christmas Gifts with Fragrance Direct

Sunday, 5 November 2017

fragrance direct

I find buying presents for Johnny quite hard sometimes. He never tells me what he wants and always just buys himself something whenever he does want it. However, something he never buys himself is fragrance, so when Fragrance Direct got in touch about their recent campaign, I jumped at the chance to help find Johnny the perfect gift...

Buying fragrance through Fragrance Direct is one of the most stress-free experiences I've ever had. I bought Johnny a fragrance from Jean-Paul Gaultier last year for Christmas through Fragrance Direct and it was the easiest thing to do. Not only do they offer high-end fragrances for competitively low prices but they also offer extremely speedy delivery so you don't need to buy these months in advance to ensure they arrive on the same day. For this gift, I took Johnny into the Perfume Shop in Westfield to get him to try out some of the fragrances and pick his favourite. After much debate, we both agreed that Wow! by Joop was the most delicious smelling fragrance and he decided that is what he wanted. It was as easy as that. Because I was asked to blog about this, Johnny has received the fragrance as an early present because he reads my blog (supportive boyfriend goals) and so would've spoiled the surprise!

wow! joop

As soon as he sprayed the fragrance, Johnny knew this was the ~one~. He absolutely loves the smell of bergamot so when we discovered that this was a note in Wow! we really weren't surprised. This fragrance also has notes of vanilla bean, cashmere, violet and fir resin which are what lingers on the skin and create a delightful, musky scent that lasts all day. It's a heavy fragrance without being suffocating and sickening and it wears really nicely. It's quite similar to other fragrances that he has had in the past, like Jean-Paul Gaultier Pour Homme, and Armani Code and it is such a typical 'Johnny fragrance'. 

I too also really enjoy getting fragrances for Christmas. I hardly ever buy them for myself because it's a nice thing to get as a present, I feel. Last year my dad bought me ChloĆ©'s Love Story for Christmas. I'd decided I wanted a new fragrance and so I went into John Lewis and tried out a lot of the perfumes, before deciding which one I wanted. Once I'd decided, my dad asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told him. I find that fragrance can be such a personal thing and it's not worth taking a punt at what you think someone might like because you may end up wasting a lot of money. My advice, for a completely stress-free experience, is to ask someone either exactly what they want or sneakily take them to a shop that stocks fragrance to get an idea of the kind of scents they like - and then just order online from Fragrance Direct.

The fragrance I chose was 'Daisy' by Marc Jacobs. This is a perfume I'd had my eye on for ages as I fell in love with 'Daisy Dream' when I received it as an 18th birthday gift from my mum. It is the most delicious, fresh and radiant scent that just smells utterly divine on the skin. It's definitely my sort of fragrance: not to heavy but extremely long-lasting. I definitely recommend this scent for people who like fresh and floral scents, just like me. I'm so fussy with perfumes, but Fragrance Direct make shopping for fragrance fuss-pots like me with their Christmas Gifting PageThis page makes it incredibly easy to find a gift for your loved one this Christmas.

I think that perfume and aftershave can be the perfect gift to give at Christmas time and it's fantastically easy with Fragrance Direct. Johnny is chuffed with his gift, and I'm happy with the pick that I made. Have you given or received fragrance as a gift?

*This post contains PR samples but all thoughts are my own - or Johnny's!*

Branding Your Blog

Friday, 3 November 2017

Blogging is now more than ever becoming a business and branding is a key essential to building a successful business. When I first started blogging, my branding was a mess. However, I tidied things up and am now looking forward to a huge rebrand in the New Year with the help of LogoJoy. Here are my top tips on branding your blog...

Selecting and Designing a Logo*

When I started my blog, my 'logo' was something I made for myself on PicMonkey. Considering I have literally 0 graphic design skills, you can probably imagine how much of a shambles that was. It was only until recently that I discovered LogoJoy which is the most fantastically easy way to create the swishest, most professional looking logos at a really reasonable price point. They have a really easy-to-use service. All you have to do is enter your blog name, select some existing logos that you like, select a colour palette and select 5 little images that you feel represent your blog and LogoJoy shows you a whole heap of options that you can browse through. Each design is fully customisable too so if you love a design but want to change the colour or the font then it's exceptionally easy. As you can see from the above picture, my logo is very simple and obviously extremely professional. 

Once you've finished your logo and you've perfected it, all you need to do is check out and within minutes you'll have the perfect logo ready to download, with different sizes and variations included in the file, including an option to have a transparent background which is so handy if you want to make business cards and suchlike. LogoJoy is literally a joy to use. It's like consulting a graphic designer without actually speaking to humans which for me, the unsociable creature, is perfect. Also, it's $65 for the premium package, and considering the quality and the ease of this service, I think that is totally reasonable. If you're after a HQ, easy logo service then look no further than LogoJoy!

Deciding On Your Colour Scheme

You're on my blog right now, reading this. Look around you. What can you see? Not a lot, right? Mostly just black and white, lot of clean open space? That was actually a choice, believe it or not. I've always been a fan of minimalism (although if you saw the sheer amount of stuff in my flat you probably wouldn't believe me!) and I decided when I made my blog I wanted a fairly minimalistic look to it, and that's why I went for the theme I went for. I also went for black as the main colour of my logo just because it's a really classic colour combination, but also because it pretty much goes with anything. It's bold; your blog name will always stand out if it's written in black. I definitely recommend bold colours that pack a punch so that when people go on your blog they know immediately the name of it and it sticks in their head.

 It had a lot of white space and I always think white looks really clean and crisp which is also why I use a lot of white in my photography. I have a large, white board which I use to take my images on as I want to make them look as clean and clear as possible. For example, my Christmas photography will mostly be a white background with more green. Going for lots of reds and cosy colours is just not my style at all. Clean, clear and crips are the words I want people to think when they look at my blog and its imagery. While this works so well for so many people and looks fantastic on so many blogs, for me that's just not what I decided on and I'm very glad I went for this theme.

Choosing a name - and sticking with it!

It's really hard to build up a brand if you're constantly changing the name of your blog. People get easily confused so it's best to choose one thing and just stick with it. When I first started my blog, I just went for my own name because then the branding is essentially me. And while I get bored of me from time to time, I have to stick with me because, well, me is all I have. My top tip for choosing a name is go for something simple that's not too long to type into the url bar or search on google. People are lazy and don't want to spend too much time typing in a name or searching for it on the internet so short, snappy names are definitely the way forward. Obviously, you can always rename and rebrand but it's best to do this early on before you have a massive following otherwise you may confuse your audience.

I'd say that naming is one of the most important elements of branding your blog because it's what people will know you as. For example, most of us know 'Zoella' not 'Zoe'. It's also what you'll probably go as on social media and what your post will come addressed to (the people who work at the post office know me as Chloe Alice Lily not Chloe Rennard because that's what my blogger mail comes addressed to!) so you definitely want something that represents you, makes you feel great about referring to yourself as and something snappy, catchy and most importantly, feels like you and something you like.

These are just a few tips on how to brand your blog. Obviously I'm not suggesting you need to do this to be successful, but it does help! I feel so proud of the way I've branded myself and just wanted to share some tips with you guys! What are your top tips for branding yourself?

*This post has been sponsored.*

Tips for a Cosy Night In

Thursday, 2 November 2017

I love being cosy. Johnny often comes to bed and I'm wittering in my sleep about how cosy I am. When we moved out together, I knew I wanted to have many cosy evenings in when the nights start to draw in, and these are a few ways which I make sure that we have the cosiest, snuggliest nights in...


I freaking love candles. Doesn't everyone? Aside from my mum, I don't know one person who's opposed to candles. Not only do they smell delicious and divine, but they also create such a gorgeous glow from the flame which just creates the illusion of cosy, even if you're wearing 5 pairs of socks and you're still freezing. Some of my favourite candles to light around this time of year are the 'Berry Trifle' and 'Bundle Up!' from Yankee. They both smell really different, but I love them both. Berry Trifle is a really sweet, fruity smell that literally smells like someone baking fruity, festive treats in the kitchen. I replace this candle with my Fluffy Towels one in the living room because the smell is so comforting, I can't help but feel cosy when I wear this. Bundle Up honestly just smells like Christmas in a pot. It's piny, fresh and slightly pepperminty, making it the ultimate festive indulgence. Having these on during a movie night just creates such a lovely ambiance.

Fairy Lights

Fairy lights add something so cosy to a home and I am completely obsessed with having them around. I like to tangle some around our TV cabinet so when we have a movie night we can light some candles and turn on the fairy lights and it just creates a really lovely atmosphere, especially if the nights are drawing in and it's lashing rain. Some of my favourite fairy lights are these ones from Amazon and they're an utter bargain at £3.69! I have so many pairs of these just wrapped up everywhere - and they make perfect blog props too! I'm also obsessed with these star shaped fairy lights, also from Amazon which I bought to pin up on my pin board in my uni bedroom, and have moved with me to my second place. Again, these make amazing blog props and they look so cute on our bedroom window sill - it makes going to be even more incredible.

A Good Film*

I miss the days of DVDs and receiving that exciting parcel from LoveFilm every month with a new flick to watch. With the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, LoveFilm went out of business and I was gutted. However, Cinema Paradiso offer a fantastic alternative to LoveFilm which has literally every film you could possibly want and think of at your finger tips, and with free delivery and returns, why not go back in time and have an old-fashioned movie night with a DVD rather than a streaming service. My ultimate cosy picks from Cinema Paradiso are all the Harry Potter flicks (obviously, what is cosier that that?!), La La Land, A Street Cat Named Bob, The Big Sick, Dunkirk (Harry Styles eye-candy for 2 hours? Sign me right up!) and Moonlight - because we have to get some credible Oscar-winners in there somewhere, right? If you want to start your free 14 day trial at Cinema Paradiso which, let's be honest, you'd be a fool not to, then you can click here to do so and start browsing your next film obsessions!


For me, warm = cosy. And, for someone who is perpetually cold, blankets are a necessity so that I can feel cosy. For me, the real winner of the blanket game is Primark. They have such soft throws which can cost as low as £5. Obviously, they're not the thickest, but they're great to add another layer to your bedding during chilly autumn nights and to snuggle under on the sofa when you're watching a film and you don't want anything too thick or warm (maybe you have a fluffy onesie on as well!). HomeSense are the reigning queen of blankets though. They have some really thick ones for really reasonable prices. I highly recommend heading down to your local Homesense and going and checking out their blanket section to bag yourself a bargain.

Snacks & Drinks

When it comes to snacks and drinks I've got a pretty one track mind. Chocolate. For snacks, I suggest treating yourself to a dreamy bar of milk chocolate - perhaps Green & Blacks or Lindt - or indulging in a deliciously moreish back of Malteasers. And for drinks, my suggestion is, of course, hot chocolate. Recently, I have been loving the Caramel Hot Chocolate pods from Nespresso for our machine, although I have spied some Starbucks Salted Caramel Cocoa in Homesense which I am also desperate to try. If you're feeling like hot chocolate doesn't quite hit the spot like you might like it to, then I definitely suggest picking up some of Baileys' new Pumpkin Spice flavour and popping a dash of that in the bottom of a mug and then steeping a Chai Tea Bag in hot milk. When combined, you get the most delicious Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea which is honestly so delightful and I'm shocked that I don't order this more at Starbucks, or experiment and make it for myself when there's a quiet period at work!

So, there we have it. These are my essentials for a cosy movie night which I think are a fantastic way to spend an evening, especially as the nights are drawing in and Jack Frost is now definitely nipping at our noses! What are your movie night essentials?

*This post contains sponsored content but all thoughts are my own.*
*This post contains affiliate links. I will make a small commission if you purchase anything using the links in this post*

3 Red-Toned Eye Palettes

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

I always used to be so afraid of using red-toned eyeshadows on my eye. I feared it would make me look very sick (or very high) with my pale complexion. However, after watching countless tutorials, I finally bought some. Now, most of my palettes have some form of red-tone in them; here are my three favourites.

This was one of the first higher-end red-toned palettes I invested in. I actually bought this through recommendation of a friend a few years ago and today it remains a firm favourite in my make-up collection. One of my all-time favourite eye-shadows lives in this palette and that is the golden shade 'Aura', which is the most pigmented and gorgeous shade not only for your eyes but also for a face highlight. Another shade that I am obsessed with in this palette is Creation, which is a terracotta brown. It looks stunning through the crease with Aura on the lid, or just patted on your eye lid by itself for a really simple, everyday look. The deep red in this palette - Muse - is also stunning when applied this way. 

As for the pigment of these eyeshadows, I can't complain. They are some of the most buttery, pigmented shadows I've ever owned, and some of the most beautiful colours too. I'd say that this is a really great palette for Autumn, but I wear the shades in this palette all year round. And, I know for some this palette is probably quite pricy, but compared to the other palettes in this post, it's a bargain at £28.00. Plus, that makes it £3.50 per eye-shadow, which really isn't bad at all when you think about it. You can pick up the Lime Crime Venus palette on Cult Beauty here.

This is the newest palette of the three in my collection and by far the one I'd been lusting after for the longest. Finally, when we went to Paris a few weeks back, I picked this up in Sephora. I ummed and ahhed about it for ages but finally decided I wanted enough to warrent spending 45€ on it. Immediately, I fell in love with it. While I find that the shadows do kick up quite a bit, they're some of the most pigmented and beautiful eyeshadows I've ever owned, which blend into each other effortlessly and beautifully. One of my favourite looks to do with this palette is a subtle, red smoky eye with 'Antique Bronze' as a transition shade, 'Burnt Orange' and 'Red Ochre' through my crease, 'Love Letter' and 'Primevera' on my lid and 'Cyprus Umber' packed on the outer corner.

The packaging of this palette is also stunning. It reminds me of the original Naked palette, which was my favourite packaging Urban Decay ever did for those palettes, due to it's velvety exterior, decent sized mirror and its sleekness. It's also blush pink, which really appeals to me as pink is my favourite colour. This has definitely shot up to one of the best palettes in my collection and I totally see why everyone hyped it up so much and I will definitely be buying more ABH shadows for myself in the future. You can grab the ABH Modern Renaissance palette from Cult Beauty here.

The Urban Decay Naked Heat Palette || £39.50

I haven't mentioned this palette on my blog since its launch, where I compared it to it's sisters. However, you'll be pleased to know that the Urban Decay Naked Heat palette is still very much a favourite of mine for the autumn. I know that 'Heat' implies summer, but I think these shades are far more suited to the colder weather. The darker shades on the end are especially lovely for the winter months. The pigment in these shadows, as you'd expect, is phenomenal. They apply so beautifully, they kick up far less than the ABH palette does and they blend into each other so smoothly and easily, without turning into a giant muddy mess on my eyelids.

Some of my favourite shades from this palette are 'Cayenne', 'En Fuego' and 'Ashes', which are the three mattes at the very end of the palette. They make a really lovely look together, with 'Sauced' as the perfect transition shade. I love the shimmery shades in this palette too, but for me it's really the matte ones that are unbeatable. They're soft, pigmented and really blendable and you can make a really simple look with these, or a far more extreme one. The palette is diverse and I think would suit most people and it's been my favourite Naked launch from Urban Decay since the original one. I thought they could never top that, but I was wrong. You can buy the Urban Decay Heat Palette on Fabled, with 15% off!

Which palettes do you recommend for those red-toned lovers out there, like me? In my opinion, you can't beat these three but I am very tempted with the Tarte Toasted palette as my next big purchase!

Are Affiliate Programs Scamming Bloggers?

Sunday, 29 October 2017

There's been a lot of debate in the blogging community recently about so-called 'ambassador schemes' that certain companies are running for bloggers and whether or not they are actually worth your time and money investing in, and whether or not bloggers are actually reading the small print on contracts for things such as image ownership, etc. In this post, I want to discuss if some affiliate programmes and ambassador schemes scamming bloggers?

Before we get into the discussion, I just want to make a quick disclaimer. I am a part of some affiliate programmes and obviously not all of them are scams, or not beneficial to bloggers. In the past I have been part of some of the ones I am going to discuss.  If you are a part of schemes like the ones I have described, then this post is in no way shaming you for doing so, it is merely highlighting some of the issues I, and a lot of bloggers, have with this kind of ambassador program. Right, now we've got that out of the way...

When I started blogging and started to follow other bloggers and YouTubers on Twitter & Instagram, it was my ultimate dream to one day get a personalised discount code to share with my readers. Back then, I had no idea about commission and that I might get monetary compensation from this. I just thought it was so cool, and that if I ever had one that I'd have 'made it' as a blogger. So, when I was approached by a certain brand who offered me a 20% off code to share with my readers that would be 'chloealr20', I bit their hand off to say yes. Even though I didn't read the catch, the products I'd be promoting for them I'd have to buy myself (at 50% off). However, at the time I saw it as a fantastic deal because I'd get 25% commission on all products bought using my code.

After a few weeks, my code had made me about £30, but I'd spent more than that on products that I was promoting for this company. In the time I was a 'queen' for this brand, they never once regrammed me, helped promote my blog on Twitter or give me any rewards like were promised in the initial email I'd received from them. So what was I getting from this program? Not money, not exposure. In fact, I was losing money. I decided, a few months later, that the scheme wasn't for me anymore and stopped advertising my code anywhere. There was no benefit for me basically paying that brand to promote their products.

The fact is, we work hard. We have a lot of stuff on our plate. We need to actually feel like we're being properly compensated for our work. It doesn't matter how you feel compensated; it could be money, exposure, PR samples. Whatever it is, you need to feel like your work for a brand is beneficial for both of you. If you don't feel like you're benefitting from a collaboration, then just don't do it. Sometimes, brands like this just like to take advantage of smaller bloggers that are just desperate for their first brand collaboration or - like me - are lured in by the appeal of having your own discount code.

I've seen a lot of people also complain about the brand Sand Cloud, which offer you 35% off their products and a hashtag to use 'for a chance to be featured' on their Instagram, which takes the piss. That doesn't make you a brand ambassador, that just makes you a customer with a bit of a discount code. Companies like this hardly ever look at you or your blog when you apply, they just accept you right away because essentially, for them, it's promo that you're paying for. I personally find this really degrading to bloggers, who work so hard to create an image and content that they're proud of. I got accused on Twitter of 'starting a witch-hunt' when I tweeted a screenshot of an email from a company I had offering this service - I was told that it was unnecessary and that loads of huge companies do it so why should I be calling people out. My response was this: what is unnecessary is that it's nearly 2018 and some brands don't appreciate the work that bloggers do and continue to try and mug us off.

So, all in all, I think that as long as you and the brand are both benefitting equally from an affiliate programme or ambassador scheme, then it's definitely not a scam. However, if you feel in anyway like you're not getting a fair deal then just don't go for it - say no and move on. You'll have plenty of opportunities in the future that are bound to fit you way better.

SophDoesNails x Make Up Revolution: First Impressions

Thursday, 26 October 2017

I'm definitely late to the party with this launch from Make Up Revolution, but every-time I went to go and buy this collaboration between YouTuber SophDoesNails and Make Up Revolution, it had sold out everywhere. Finally it came back in stock on TAM Beauty and so I managed to pick it up!

I had never even heard of Soph of SophDoesNails before this collaboration but the hype around this palette on the internet got me curious and so I went and checked out her channel. She has some really fantastic content so I'm glad that I found her and now am one of her 500,000+ subscribers! As soon as I saw these palettes, I knew I had to have them. I haven't tried any of these shades on my face yet, I've just swatched them (and got very excited while doing it!) but these are my first impressions of both palettes. 

As soon as I saw a picture of this palette, I knew it had to be mine. Soph does a lot of warm looks on her channel and so it makes sense that this palette has mostly warm tones in it which, as you all know, is my preference when it comes to eye looks. You get 24 shades in this palette and they all have lovely, cute names which you don't usually get with MUR shadows, so it was really nice to see that they gave Soph the freedom to name these shades. 10 of these shades are shimmer shades and 14 of them are mattes, and so you have so many looks in one palette when it comes to these. 

When it comes to pigment, some of these shades are extremely pigmented and beautiful. Most of the ones that impressed me in particular when swatched were Copper Coin (bottom row, third shade from the left), Petrol (brown/teal shade on the third row), Cuppa Tea (in the top row, in the very corner), Pumpkin (vibrant orange in the third row) and Mixed Berries (purple shade, second row). Some of the shades were less impressive when swatched but will hopefully look prettier on the eye. For example, Penguin and Pancakes (on the top row) don't really show up very well on my arm, and Pug (cooler brown on the third row) also didn't swatch overly well. I've included some swatches down below which are unedited and one is weirdly zoomed out because I asked Johnny to take these and they're his first swatch pictures - but we forgive him. 

These are the first 12 shades from the palette, and as you can see, the first 5 shades don't really swatch overly well. However, I'm sure they will look really pretty on the eye.
These are the last 12 shades. I love these way more than the top half and feel like they're far more pigmented.

The red shades really impressed me in this palette and look so beautiful when swatched. I definitely prefer the bottom half of the palette but the four matte shades in the top corner of the top half are also really pretty. Something I love about this palette is the volume of transition shades. I often find that palettes never include enough transition shades, but this one had so many which you could use for so many different looks. It's lovely to see matte transition shades in drugstore palettes and so I'm very grateful to Soph for including these in hers. The colour range in this palette is perfect as well - there's literally something for everyone. 

Another thing I have to mention about this eye palette before we move on to the highlighter is the quality of the packaging. It is really fantastic. For the price you pay - £10, if I haven't mentioned that before - it's weighty, the mirror in it is huge and really clear and it has an almost rubberised texture to the outside like Nars packaging which feels super luxurious. However, the pale, beige colour of the palette means that it gets dirty finger prints on it really easily. For example, when I swatched these I then went and picked the palette up to put it back in my drawer and it got my dirty, eye-shadow covered prints all over it and it was not very easy to get them off. 

I wasn't as excited for the highlighter palette as I was for the eyeshadow one, but that's just personal preference. For some people, highlighters are their vice but for me it's eyeshadows (and also foundations, interestingly.) and so obviously I was going to be far more drawn to that one. However, I do love a good highlighter as well so I thought if I'm buying the eyeshadow palette then I might as well pick up this beauty as well. It is a really pretty palette, filled with 8 gorgeous shades. As Soph is quite pale, quite like I am, most of these shades are designed for pale girls which makes me very happy. However, there are some darker shades which in her introduction video she said was designed to suit darker girls. But, before receiving this palette, I was looking at reviews of it and I came across this Reddit thread where some girls with deeper skin were saying that those shades were too light for them, so maybe these would best suit more olive skin tones. 

The shades that I am most excited to try on my face are the lilac shade and also the golden baked shade as I think these swatched the most beautifully and seemed the most creamy. However, they all seem really buttery and really amazing quality considering the price. These highlighters are literally £1 each. I've actually never tried MUR highlighters before even though I always hear about how hyped the are on the internet. I guess, in a way, I was a little bit snobby about them because I just couldn't comprehend that something so cheap could be so good. However, I was sorely mistaken after swatching all of these. They're all fantastic quality; not one is better than the other. I feel like I've missed out on years of MUR highlighters, so now I'm going to buy as many as possible and just roll around in them until I'm shining like the sun!

The bottom row are swatched on the left and the top row on the right!
It is safe to say that I am completely obsessed with this new collaboration from MUR and will be using the Soph eyeshadow palette to death. The shades are so me and I'm so happy that I bought it. Have you been tempted by this launch? 

The Story of Us

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

I mention Johnny a lot on my blog. I mean, he's a very significant part of my life. In fact, I would go as far to say that he is the most important thing in my life. I thought today I'd share with you a little story time about how Johnny and I met and how our relationship started, since it's nearly been two years since that day.

Johnny and I actually met when we were both working at ASDA in our home town. I was 16 when I started working at ASDA and he was 17, so we've technically known each other for 4 years. However, we never really used to work the same shifts or anything and it was only when Johnny started working at ASDA full-time and we were in work together that we finally started to get to know one another. We immediately clicked as friends because we have such a similar sense of humour and I think this is why we get on so well, even now. However, around the time of August 2015, Johnny started to try to move things on to another level - if you know what I mean.  I came back from a family holiday to Cyprus and on my first shift back from work I was relaying the story to Johnny of how I had an unfortunate experiences with some tequila sunrises. At that point, Johnny then said "you look, like, really hot in a bikini though". Even thought it was such a guy thing to say I was charmed because I did really quite fancy him.

And everything kind of picked up from there. Johnny and I exchanged numbers and started texting everyday. He's very blunt over text and I'm just not, so I found it a bit of a struggle to read him at first but we got into the swing of things and definitely fully transitioned into the "talking stage". After a few weeks of constant talking, we had a few random FaceTimes (one time we talked from 12am - 4am and were extremely tired the next day) he finally took me out for coffee, but I don't class this as our first date. Johnny would meet me for coffee during my free periods at school and we'd go to Costa and, like a true gentleman, he'd always offer to pay. On our walk back up to the school gates one day (yes, he'd walk me back too!) Johnny asked me: "what do you think about us, you know, being more than just friends?" Now, it must've taken serious guts from Johnny to do that and so I absolutely hate the way that I responded. It makes me cringe to this day. I said back: "you'll have to wine and dine me first" and then made finger guns at him. WHY DID I DO THAT? He kind of laughed but I walked back to school utterly mortified and regretting that I said that when the answer I should've said was "DUH! TOTALLY! YES!".

The Sunday after that event was the ASDA Christmas Party. It was the 6th of December, I seem to remember. Johnny bought me quite a few drinks and we ended up sitting on a sofa together and cuddling a little bit. He was wearing a really cute green jumper and I had a green top on, so a lot of people said that we were matching which was kind of cute. When it came time to leave the party, Johnny's friend gave me, Johnny and two other people a lift home. I sat in the middle of the back of the car and Johnny sat on my left. I was pretty drunk but I remember thinking 'oh no! The night is almost over and I haven't kissed him yet!' so I just reached over, grabbed his face and kissed him so hard and so passionately. It was amazing. He got out of the car with me when we reached my house and walked me to the door and kissed me again. I stumbled into the house, up to bed and fell asleep. I woke up in the morning to a text from Johnny saying "what are we now?".

We arranged a date for the following Saturday. We went to the Bell & Crown which is a pub in a village called Marnhull which is very near our home town. I had pork belly and Johnny, being the country gent that he is, had pheasant. I remember that Johnny snuck off to pay the bill at the end of our lunch and I felt so guilty that he'd paid for that all by himself. I vowed to get the next one. This happened on the 12th of December, which is what Johnny and I say is our anniversary and the date we celebrate every year. From then on, Johnny and I hung out almost every night after he finished work and met each others' parents for the first time on Boxing Day 2015. Now, 2 years later, we live together in our own little flat in London where we moved for me going to uni and I've never been at a a happier point in my life. We have just become such similar people and I fall in love with him more and more each day.

It's crazy to me how far Johnny and I have come since these OG days of our relationship. If you'd told me in 2 years that I'd be living 100 miles away from my family with my perfect boyfriend then I never would have believed you. Yet, here we are. Let me know in the comments how you met your S.O!

If this post has given you major vom then I am sorry, but it has given you ~major feels~ then you can check out some of these; they're the best dating sites for finding your perfect match. You could date divorced singles, or if you're looking for a partner in a specific area then you can check out this Nottinghamshire dating site - or this dating agency Isle of Man! Or, just check out Fife Dating Site!

*This is sponsored content.*

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