Stop Telling Us To Get Off Our Phones

How many of us will ever be able to recall a time without mobile phones? They’ve become such a scarily integrated part of our lives that I think we’d collectively struggle to go about our daily business without one. My first mobile phone was about the size of a house brick and by a brand I don’t even think still exists; it weighed about as much as a small child and could do little other than make and receive calls to the few people that also had a mobile phone (namely my mum.) When I discovered it could actually send text messages (even though they were only twenty characters long and took about ten minutes to write,) it was a revolution! Within a few years mobiles had evolved, the prices had reduced and Nokia realised there was potential to turn this new gadget into a fashion accessory: I think I spent more money on new fascias than I did outfits back then. Not only could we spend hours playing Snake, but we wasted away our evenings texting our mates about all the things we could’ve probably just waited to chat about the next morning. That was, until we ran out of credit and had to buy a phone card on the way into school.

Back then a mobile phone was seen as a luxury, not a necessity, and you could easily leave it in your bag for the entirety of a day without even glancing at it. Now, it’s slightly different; our phones have become the modern Filofax, hosting everything about our lives we need to manage them effectively (calendars, contact details, emails, banking) alongside every app imaginable to keep us occupied (games, mindfulness, shopping, podcasts.) Chuck in a few social networks into the mix and it’s no wonder we’ll be the first generation to get turkey neck and arthritis in our fingers from overuse of an iPhone. Since they were launched back in the 1980’s, there’s been a total revolution in the way we use our devices. No longer are they a way of maintaining communication, but a way of helping to run our lives; in a modern world smartphones allow us to answer an email on the go or get a head-start on that presentation, as much as they allow us to share what we’re having for dinner. Personally speaking, my phone is my life; as a self-employed businesswoman it allows me to work wherever and whenever I need to, while maintaining essential social connections that (quite simply) stop me from cracking up. So why are we so unfairly judged by others for using one?

Let me tell you a story… A couple of months ago my Nan was about to undergo a much needed hip replacement. My mum lives a few hours away and my aunt is a carer who works long shifts, so it fell to me to ensure she attended her pre-op appointments and got to hospital when she needed to be there. While she was having her bloods taken I was in the waiting room catching up on emails and monitoring my social media accounts, when two other visitors started a rather rude conversation in front of (and obviously directed at) me about the fact that ‘the younger generation’ didn’t know how to talk to people because they were so engrossed in their phones. What I wanted to say, but refrained from doing so, was this: “I’m self employed and I’m currently managing my business from this device. An iPhone is not the devil; it allows me to accompany my grandmother during an anxious time, without having to jeopordise my income. It allows me to be with her over the next week so she’s never alone, continuing to maintain relationships that are essential to my career, but also ensures I can update loved ones as to her condition and progress. Stop judging what you don’t understand, because I don’t judge you for your inability to be open-minded.”

Over the last week or two I’ve seen increasing amounts of conversation from my peers around the judgement they’ve received for being on their phones in public. Danielle Peazer recently tweeted: “Sat waiting for a train and a man literally just interrupted my day to ask ‘why would you do without your phone’ because I was using it.” She went on to say: “Well sir I happen to run 90% of my business from my phone. I may not be wearing a suit or sat at a desk, but I’m working fucking hard.” Kellie from Big Fashionista continued: “I get this on the school run. The LOLLIPOP MAN, was going, You are always on your phone. I replied, I’ve been up since 6am working on this phone and it means I CAN walk my child to school, I’m lucky.” Our smartphones are devices that, yes, can be irritating when your dinner date refuses to stop checking Facebook or snapchatting their coffee, but they are also essential part of a whole generation’s working life.

My phone is my business; if I’m on it I’m either replying to emails, updating my social media accounts, checking my calendar or actually attempting to manage a conversation with loved ones. I’m neither playing Candy Crush, stalking people on Facebook or reading The Lad Bible. (Much anyway.) My income relies on the fact I can work whenever and wherever I need to, and also includes sharing snippets of my life to those of you that are interested; it would be impossible to do that without my phone. So many media stories focus on the damaging effects of smartphone useage (sleep deprivation, back and neck pain, anxiety, hand cramp, concentration issues,) but none of them focus upon the freedom and flexibility they have brought those of us that need to work from them. When sitting on the train or waiting in the Starbucks queue I do feel guilty for being on my phone and am very aware of those eyes looking at me, more so from much older generations than my peers, which makes me anxious about doing so in public. That’s not ok.

Smartphones allow working mothers to put their children to bed before getting back to emails; they allow digital influencers to make a living from creating content and doing what they love; they allow us the freedom to take a few days out of the office without losing track of a big project; they allow us to manage our lives effectively and efficiently while experiencing new things; they allow us to connect with those that are precious to us in an instant, sharing news or just saying hello when that’s needed most. When has that ever been a bad thing? So, dude on the train, in the hospital or Kellie’s lollipop man: don’t judge what you don’t understand and don’t make us feel bad for simply trying to make a living. We’re all just grafting, but in different ways.

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My Teen Beauty Essential Has Had A Modern Makeover: Oil-Blotters Are Making A Comeback

Most of my teenage years were spent attempting to tackle a shiny nose. I may have skipped over the major breakouts and greasy roots, but my one area of concern was an incredibly oily t-zone that never seemed to let out. As I was yet to discover the power of a great primer, my ultimate backpack essential was undoubtedly a pack of blotting papers that could quickly and effectively absorb any excess moisture. Rather embarrassingly, I can vividly recall being fascinated with seeing how much oil could be lifted away and monitoring the residue left on the paper surface; gross, but incredibly practical when your hormones are going into overdrive. Although now I’ve got that oily t-zone mostly under control, my complexion still needs a freshen up in the afternoon when oil starts to mix with makeup and cause a touch of slippage: nothing is worse than your makeup caking or separating on a warm summer’s day. Embracing the power of a primer and layering cosmetics effectively will get you so far, but for many of us there’s always the issue of a little excess lubrication around the nose and chin that we’d rather see the back of.

This summer makeup is definitely going retro, with many brands launching their own modern version of the classic oil-management technique that was blotting papers. For years I can remember struggling to track down a pack at all, but in 2017 there are plenty of innovations on offer to help rid you of an oily t-zone and keep your makeup in check.

THE SIMPLE ONE: Beauty Blender Blotterazzi (£16.00)
For a brand that have made their name from a uniquely shaped sponge, Beauty Blender actually have diversified rather successfully into new areas of beauty – including this ‘Blotterazzi’ that simply blots away any excess shine and ‘re-blends’ makeup to ensure it looks fresh. Made from the same material as the original blender, this comes packaged in a convenient mirror compact and includes two sponges that can be washed and re-used as many times as you like. Although it won’t remove huge amounts of excess oil, it’s great for a faff-free touch-up that’s effective and discrete.

THE CLASSIC ONE: Clarins Pore Perfecting, Matifying Kit (£33.00)
Like a grown up version of those 90’s blotting paper packs, this dual-action kit from Clarins includes oil-blotting papers to mattify skin and remove excess sebum, alongside a translucent powder to provide a soft matte finish. Together they ensure makeup is left looking and feeling refreshed, allowing you to get on with your day and not worry about any slippage. I adore the luxe feel of the compact, which is also incredibly discrete and can be re-filled once you use up the product inside (re-fills are cheaper.) Definitely one for those of us that loved oil-blotters the first time around.

THE CLEVER ONE: Murad MattEffect Blotting Perfector (£32.00)
A rather unusual wet formula, this liquid-to-powder compact contains ‘soft-focus mattifying spheres’ to absorb oil and minimise appearance of pores and imperfections, whilst marshmallow powder provides ‘touchable softness’ – which is a posh way of saying your skin feels smooth again. Proven to keep pore appearance minimised for up to eight hours and absorb excess oil immediately, you need only a little of this to touch up makeup and leave your look refreshed. Although it’s not as practical for on-the-go, it’s a great tool to have in your desk drawer for when you need to perk up your makeup.

Can you remember blotting papers from the first time around? Would you be tempted to re-embrace the trend, or give it a go if you’ve not tried it before?

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Why Sephora Skipping the UK is No Big Deal

Why Sephora Skipping the UK is No Big Deal

They say good things come to those who wait and apparently us Brits have not only been patient but also on our best behaviour, as not one but three long awaited U.S exports will be hitting the shores and shelves of our little cluster of islands in a matter of weeks. With so many of the once hard to come by brands setting up shop on our fair isles, you can somewhat understand why more and more British beauty consumers are non-plussed about Sephora skipping out on our territory.

Perhaps the most exciting and eagerly anticipated news within the beauty world is that Glossier is branching out and into the UK (I imagine it will be a case of ordering online rather than a physical stockist) as announced on the brands Twitter earlier this month. The downside is there is no exact date but I’d imagine it will be sooner rather than later as up until now it has always been a case of “watch this space”. Until the launch date is announced you could bribe a U.S friend or family member to send you products, book flights to New York (like I need an excuse) or if course patiently construct a product wish list.

Why Sephora Skipping the UK is No Big Deal

Buxom is once again back in the U.K via Debenhams and I for one welcome it with open arms. Unlike other UK expansions, Buxom have brought their entire range to the British shores which includes lipstick, eyeshadow, bronzer and more. I’ve mentioned it before but I truly believe that there is no lipstick more comfortable than the Buxom Big & Sexy Bold Gel Lipstick – I personally prefer the matte finish but I can attest that once you purchase one tube there’s no going back. Where said tube of mine happens to be currently residing is anyone’s guess but trust me when I say this is easily one of the most underrated beauty products of all time.

Why Sephora Skipping the UK is No Big Deal

Last but not least, E.L.F is taking another run at the U.K market via Superdrug (and online), from the 3rd of May. You may recall around five years ago E.L.F was the budget beauty brand of choice for many a blogger and for some reason best known to those more curious than I, it was pulled. Last Summer I did hastily purchase a good few items in NYC – mainly because I could – and I will say that on the whole the brand can be a little hit and miss. I find they do cream textures better than they do powders but there is no denying that for budget brushes they are pretty unbeatable and I do think that their new-ish skincare additions could offer luxury ingredients and technology at a low cost.

Sephora who? Am I right? I’m kidding of course but it is great to see more brands expand properly into the U.K. Who do you think will be next? I’m hoping Lorac and maybe the odd Cover Girl collection may be made available here – I realise the latter is a pipe dream given we have Max Factor but I would argue that Cover Girl feels more youthful in message than its sister brand?

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Why Everyone Aged 30+ Should Be Using Retinol

Skincare innovations have a tendency to hit stores quicker than a new Instagram update, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re always to be believed. We may be able to run off a list of ingredients we *should* be looking for in our skincare as we age, but when it comes to fully understanding the purpose of an individual ingredient many of us struggle. Retinol is a so called ‘wonder ingredient’ that’s being touted as one of the most important things in beauty, promising to help create a youthful and radiant glow while minimising the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In my opinion it’s something that every woman (and man) within the 30+ category should be embracing as a way to keep their complexions looking fresh and full for as long as possible. But what is it and why do we need it?

“Retinol signals to your body to produce collagen and new cells for firmer and smoother skin, while also reducing hyperpigmentation and clogged pores,” says New York based dermatologist Anne Chapas. Retinoids first came to market in the early 1970s as an acne-fighting drug, but since then they’ve also been used to treat psoriasis, wrinkles, blotchiness and ageing skin. Simply put, Retinol is another name for vitamin A. It’s an extremely effective cell-communicating ingredient that has the ability to tell almost any skin cell to behave like a healthy, younger version of itself – as well as encouraging the production of new skin cells altogether. This is hugely beneficial for those of us experiencing the first or latter signs of ageing, as Retinol can help reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, increase collagen production (essential for that youthful ‘bouncy’ texture that we lose over time,) improve the texture of skin and help to overcome discolouration caused by sun damage.

Retinol works by prompting surface skin cells to turn over and die rapidly, making way for new cell growth underneath; it does its work by stimulating cellular turnover from the deeper layers up, not in the uppermost layers where AHAs step in to help skin shed unhealthy, dead, built-up skin cells. (Although Retinol may cause flaking and peeling for some, this shouldn’t be mistaken for exfoliation; flaking is a form of irritation.) Although the common misconception is that Retinol can thin the skin, they actually help to hamper the breakdown of collagen and thicken the deeper layer of skin where wrinkles start. Retinol also functions an antioxidant that can interrupt the free-radical damage process that causes wrinkling and other signs of aging – meaning it’s not only great to overcome damage, but to prevent it occurring in the first place.

This super-charged ingredient can be prescribed by a dermatologist, but increasingly Retinol products are available on the high street thanks to brands identifying the desire for such a supportive component within our skincare regimes. Most formulas contain a maximum of 1% concentration of the active ingredient, which over the course of three months should help to provide a smoother, brighter and more youthful complexion. Unlike a lot of skincare that provides results in as little as 2-6 weeks, you do have to be patient to see the results of Retinol – but they’re absolutely worth it. Some of my current favourite products include:

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum (£65.00)
A beautifully light serum that contains three types of Retinol for both short and long term results. A fast-acting retinoid accelerates results, time-released retinol delivers sustained benefits and the retinol booster enhances efficacy; in trials 93% saw a reduction in lines and wrinkles in two weeks, which is definitely unusual for such a product. I love the Murad brand as a whole, so as soon as I found out they were launching a Retinol product I was all over it – and it doesn’t disappoint.

Ren Skincare Bio Retinoid Anti Wrinkle Concentrate Oil (£35.20)
Rather unique in its texture (I don’t think I’ve ever come across another Retinol ‘oil’ before,) this non-greasy concentrate combines potent and 100% naturally derived Vitamin A, Pro Vitamin A and a Retinoid Analogue that together combat the appearance of wrinkles, imperfections and age spots without the usually irritating effects of synthetic Retinol. I like this not only because it can be added to my usual night creams or layered on for a more intense overnight treatment, but because I can easily massage my skin pre-bed to ensure the blood flow is stimulated and my complexion is left radiant. As you only need a few drops, this bottle goes a long way too.

MeruMaya Retinol Resurfacing Treatment (£33.50)
With Retinol used in the maximum permitted dose, this creamy formula also contains Matrixyl 3000: a peptide blend with powerful skin repairing effects that help to restore key proteins that are broken down with ageing. MeruMaya are a brand a trust completely with my skin, particularly as I know how much love goes into producing quality products that perform as best as they possibly can; this is not a fluffy brand. I love applying this before bed as it’s super creamy, so much so I don’t feel like I need another product on top.

The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% (£8.00)
It may be a budget brand, but that doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. This contains two forms of Retinol that together provide a high potency product that also avoids irritation, delivering better visible results against signs of ageing. The Ordinary have revolutionised the way we buy skincare, proving that if you know what to shop for you don’t have to spend a fortune; this is a great starting point for those wanting to gently ease into a Retinol routine, being light enough to use under your usual nighttime skincare or mixed with your favourite cream.

So have I convinced you? If you want to start using Retinol within your daily regime, here are the things you need to be aware of before taking the plunge:
1. Only buy a Retinol treatment if it is packaged in an airtight container; all forms of Vitamin A break down and deteriorate when repeatedly exposed to air and light, so you’ll only be wasting your money on pots of cream that won’t do anything.
2. Start slowly and apply your Retinol product three times a week, or alternatively mix it with a moisturizer or facial oil. This lets your skin gradually acclimate and theoretically should prevent irritation (although many of the new products claim to avoid irritation altogether.)
3. Don’t use Retinol during the day, only at night. Unprotected exposure to sunlight compromises Retinol’s stability, meaning it won’t be as effective or provide the results you’re looking for. Apply it before bed underneath your usual night cream or oil for maximum results.
4. Be patient, because you won’t see immediate results – this is a slow burning skincare gem, so keep with it and you’ll start to see an impact in a few months. I promise you the end result is worth the wait.

Retinol is such a great addition to any regime (the earlier the better in my opinion, within reason!) and it’s great to see so many more affordable and accessible options launch on the high street. It’s a name you’ll be hearing more and more in the coming months, so get on-board with it now and stay ahead of the trend.

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Why Giving Up Make Up For Lent Has Changed Everything

Why Giving Up Make Up For Lent Has Changed Everything

In March, I embarked on a spending ban in aid of raising money for Christian Aid, a few days prior to that I did purchase a lot of make-up with next to no thought to what I was doing – in the moment, I wrote it off as a much needed expense for my job never mind the fact that I already owned half of what I bought in various disguises – basically it was the nude lipstick that broke this camels back. If ever there was a time to reevaluate my shopping habits it was in that moment, and when approached with the idea of giving up make-up for Lent at the aid of a charity the timing couldn’t be more perfect. The idea of letting down those in need would prevent me from ever straying of course and wither I raised 50p or £500 (my page is here) I would be happy in the knowledge that I am at least trying to do something beneficial for others, rather than adding another unused lipgloss to my already groaning pile.

Why Giving Up Make Up For Lent Has Changed Everything

I’d be lying if I said I found the concept of giving up make-up shopping for 40 days (and nights – the nights are when the temptation to online shop seems all the more alluring) was without its challenges – the Bobbi Brown Havana Nights collection has been whispering and now shouting my name for the last few weeks and there is also a few new Too Faced products that I have coveted for quite some time now. Then again, isn’t there always something new to grab your attention and before you’ve as much as dipped an eyeshadow brush into your newly purchased palette, there is something as equally glossy and exciting launched to grab your attention and thus the circle is never ending. For the record it is of no business nor interest of mine how you spend your money but as things goes, the never ending accumulation of quickly disregarded make-up was weighing heavy on my conscience as I began the challenge for Christian Aid.

Why Giving Up Make Up For Lent Has Changed Everything

Over the last 40 days I have learnt that I will forever be enticed and excited by cosmetics – and of course accept that this is part and parcel of my vocation – but will now only purchase products after much deliberation. There are a hundred and ten million (maybe…maybe there’s more) beauty blogs out there, all with their own well formed opinions, I don’t need to be the one that reviews every single beauty product – in fact wouldn’t it be nice if I added a human element to this site, a few tales from beauty insiders and such? I have also began questioning myself, asking if I really need another matte lipstick or if I am suffering from fear of missing out (F.O.M.O) – something in the past that I have let dictate not only beauty purchases but technology and on occasion the odd pair of shoes.

Lent may be over (and to an extent I am relieved) but going forward I will be donating once a month to Christian Aid – even if it just the price of one eyeshadow, every little helps. You can find out more about how you can get involved here – link.



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