Monday, 25 April 2011

Can Blind Dating Actually Work?

This blog came into my mind this morning when I woke up after a very interesting dream I had. I dreamt that a friend had set me up with a guy who I know to be a friend of hers. We met in the pub where I work and... well... the dream date was a success.
I'll admit I was a little shocked when I woke up. Obviously, I enjoy flirting with handsome guys, teasing them. Who doesn't? And yet, I was not aware that I might be ready to start dating again.
My ex and I broke up in September after nearly three years together. This was a big deal, you know. From age 16 to 19 a lot changes, people grow and alter, and sometimes they become very different people than they originally were. That's what happened with us.
I knew as soon as we broke up that I didn't want to be in a relationship for a while if I could help it. At then end of the day, I'm young, have a bunch of great friends who seem to be under the impression that I'm fun to be around, and according to my A-Levels, I'm relatively intelligent too. How about taking a bit of a Man Break and learning who I can be by myself?
So that's what I've been doing since September. Enjoying myself! And I've been loving it like you wouldn't believe. I mean, these are the days of my life... when apart from now will I be able to stay out until 4am with friends? When will I be able to dance 'provocatively' with a hot guy until I decide that I've had enough then leave him alone wondering where he went wrong? When will I be able to spend my money on crazy, frivolous items of no importance just because I feel like I want that new pair of killer heels, or three months in Orlando? Never, that's when. I've never been and may never be again as independent as I am right now, so I've really gone to town making the most of it, and I couldn't be happier.
Perhaps the biggest thing I've learnt is that I'm a lot stronger than I ever gave myself credit for; not being able to call your unconditional support-system boyfriend whenever the slightest mishap occurs has helped me to really put things into perspective, noticing what is and isn't worth shedding tears over and learning how to fix my own problems without wasting time whining about them.
So why am I considering dating again? I seem happy enough, right? Well, as a sociable person I constantly want to be meeting new people, debating, talking, flirting and having fun. And why not? What could I possibly lose from meeting some nice guys, having a few drinks and sharing some good conversation? Nothing, that's what I think.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm still no longer searching for 'The One' (if such a fellow exists that is!) But how will I know when I meet 'The One' if I haven't had 'The Loser', 'The Keeno' and 'The Preener' first? Of course I wont be going on dates with the aforementioned guys deliberately knowing that they will turn out that way, but the point I'm trying to make is (and pardon the cliche) that I wont get my prince unless I kiss a few frogs first.
Where do I plan on finding these 'frogs' then? Well, in order to escape the froggiest of the 'frogs', I am considering getting my friends to set me up... almost like an experiment or something. Each week I could ask a friend to organize me a date with their favorite 'Why-doesn't-he-have-a-girlfriend' guy acquaintances. At least this way I have some chance of avoiding 'The Nudest', 'The Porn King' and 'The Woman-Beater'. Plus, perhaps I will come across a nice enough guy during this non-exclusive dating experiment who might make me rethink this whole Boyfriend Ban... I kind of hope not, but that's all part of the fun of dating I guess, seeing what's on offer and learning what best suits you. You don't buy a dress unless you've tried it on for size first, after all!
So, SOS to all of my nearest and dearest. If you know a nice, tall, dark, handsome, intelligent, funny guy who you don't want and fancies sharing time with a groovy little blogger, hit me up! It can't hurt your own love karma to get yours truly back on that dating horse. In the meantime, I'm starting to put myself out there with guys I see around. Asking someone to join me for a drink might be a little nerve-wracking at first, but I reckon you should do something that scares you each day, so from now on I'm going for it...
Wish me luck and let me know your dating stories! I can't wait to hear them :-)

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Review - Clarins Skin Illusion Foundation in Nude

So before I get stuck in, I have to let everyone know that I am not sponsored by any of the companies I write about, nor do they send me free products in order to sway my reviews. The products I review are either bought and paid for with my hard-earned cash, or freebies available to everyone online, on beauty counters or in magazines. This particular product is one which I found on page 66 in the May issue of Company magazine.
Let's take care of business first. Clarins' new Skin Illusion foundation retails in Debenhams at £24 which kind of justifies the fact that if this sample hadn't been free in my magazine, I wouldn't be able to review it. The shade provided to all is Nude which obviously isn't ideal as it is difficult to judge the effects of a product when it isn't a correct match to your skin-tone... luckily, Nude would have been the color I would have been closest to anyway, so this didn't impede my review. Hooray!
So as soon as I flicked over the page and realized that there was a free sample of a high-end product which I wouldn't able to afford yet would now be able to review, I was so excited to try it! Straight away I tore the top from the sachet and began to decant the product into a little pot which anyone can collect for free from most make-up counters (benefit in particular are happy to fill these with products for you to try when you purchase another item if you ask, then you can clean them out once they are all finished). I thought it would be best to empty it into a pot rather than squirting it directly onto my hand as with it being a new product I wasn't sure how much I might need and didn't want to waste any, plus whatever you don't use often dries up in the sachet and you don't get as good an effect if there is enough to use on multiple days. Yes, I am that stingy that I even try to make free samples last. Thankfully, this was not a problem I was to experience with this product...
When I say a little of this goes a long way, I really mean it! Using my foundation brush, I took a little of the Skin Illusion and began to paint it onto my nose, before extending it across the rest of my face. A very thin liquid formula, the product was very easy to paint on initially with long strokes to ensure full coverage, and then smaller back-and-forth strokes in order to smooth the brush lines.
Let's quickly take a minute to go through the product's claims. The two-page spread advert includes a list of declarative statements, including 'You can't see it, you can't feel it,' 'it moisturizes and protects' and 'The finish is so natural, no one else will know it's there'. Filled with minerals and plant extracts (although most skincare products are really, so nothing spectacular there...) the Skin Illusion foundation didn't quite live up to the promises made by the advert upon this first application.
Now, allow me to explain myself. Although I had washed my face and applied my moisturizer about half an hour earlier, my skin had not been exfoliated for a couple of days which I'm sure was the fault of the few issues I had with the product the first time I tried it on. Basically, I could see it. It looked cakey around my dryer areas (my T-zone) and shiny everywhere else. Also, I could feel it there, although this wasn't necessarily a bad thing... it felt a bit like I had a thick moisturizer on, like the sort that you put on before bed to give your skin a treat. However, I only usually use that kind of treatment before I sleep as the clammy feeling of a filmy lotion on my face really irritates me when I'm awake. Yet, I guess this honors the 'moisturize and protect' statement so one out of three isn't bad. Also, I must concede that this is all based on personal preference. What I would call 'sticky' and 'heavy' others might refer to as 'dewy' and 'rich', so please use this review not as an instruction manual as to whether to purchase the item or not, but rather as an assisting guide helping you to imagine how the product would work for you.
As I say, I hadn't exfoliated and thought, 'perhaps I haven't given Skin Illusion a fair shot', so after removing my make-up that night, I used my day-to-day face scrub The Greatest Scrub of All by Soap and Glory (£8. 17 in Boots) then applied my night-time moisturizing face cream Intense Lotion by Aveeno (not created for use on face, but mine was prescribed especially by my doctor, this product can be purchased in larger pharmacy chains for about £11.) The next morning I used Clean Mary by Soap and Glory (£6.15 on then a bit of my mom's Vital Restore Day Cream by Garnier (£10.20 in Boots) and I tried again. This time, the cakeyness was gone! Success! However, I found Skin Illusion to still appear a little too shiny and ended up topping it with benefit's Hello Flawless (£24.50 in Debenhams) before leaving the house a little later.
If I'd paid for this product, I would have been a little disappointed. What's the point in buying on high-end foundation if you have to use another high-end foundation in order to make it look 'like a second skin' as the advert implies. However, this is a product that will last. In one free sample sachet I reckon I would be able to use this foundation for somewhere between six and eight days, which is more than I can say for most expensive skin-care products. It didn't break my skin out which other foundations have been known to do, so kudos Clarins. Plus, it kind of smells like watermelon which I'm not sure was intentional by the creators but is a welcome perk!
In conclusion, I won't be purchasing Clarins Skin Illusion foundation because it didn't give the matte-flawless finish which I personally look for in a similarly priced product. And yet I'm sure that others out there might love this product for the exact reasons that I didn't, and with ten shades to choose from, I'm sure those people will find a way to make it work for them. I wont buy this product. But I will continue using it, trying to 'get it right' until it has run out, and I will let you know of any new developments as and when they occur.
Let me know if you've had an experience with this, or a similar product and have a Happy Easter!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Why the Hopes and Dreams of Women Should be as Attainable as those of Men...

'Ah, so you want to work as a magazine journalist in London? That sounds fun... But what about one day when you are older and have children? London and a high-pressure career aren't ideal circumstances for raising a family. You'll have to think about that...' That's what people think when I tell them my Life Plan. They think it, but don't say it, because everyone is so scared, tiptoeing around what does and doesn't constitute anything even beginning to resemble political incorrectness. So how can I know what other people are thinking? Well, perhaps it's something to do with the patronizing glint in their eyes before they try really hard to understand or at least appear to have some level of pride in what they might see as naive ambition. Maybe it's because the pressure which women have been put under with the apparent ultimatum imposed by the terms 'Stay-at-Home-Mum' versus 'Career Woman' in the public eye. Or perhaps it's all down to the fact that I think the same.
How can any woman not feel guilt somewhere deep down inside about spending time away from her baby? Especially in search of what comparatively become selfish desires next to time with your child; money, enjoyment, purpose. Even now, years from having my first child (if the Life Plan is honored of course...) this is something which might not massively impact my career decisions, but definitely plays on my mind in my quiet moments. It's only human instinct, right?
So what about those women who have been portrayed as choosing their careers over their children? What are they like? Well, that's just the thing. Do we really know?
It's still a fact that there are many more men in high-powered, higher-earning positions than women, even now in this 21st century. As sickeningly medieval and unfair as this fact is, it stands to reason that most people don't know enough of the lucky elite of females who's talents have been rewarded with a well-deserved justly-earned management position in order to justifiably generalize what 'they' are like.
So we turn to what we watch, hear and read in the media. Surely I don't have to outline the impression that characters such as The Devil Wears Prada's Miranda Priestly, the 'Diva' caricature of famous female celebrities and even J.K. Rowling's Dolores Umbridge give the world of women in powerful career roles. Yes. I compared the three.
All joking aside, you only really hear about powerful women in the factual sense if they have done something wrong. Think about it. Newspaper headlines such as The Guardian's 'Female Boss or Bossy Female', The Daily Mail's 'Why women find it harder working for a Queen Bee rather than a male boss' and the less serious headline of the same publication, 'Hands off our heels! A tottering female boss stamps down on calls for a ban of 'dangerous and demeaning' stilettos in the office' influence the public opinion of what these women are like. Look to the most famous female leader in history, Margaret Thatcher. Are we to believe that nothing she did made a positive impact, and her quintessentially 'formidable' demeanor was the only thing worth remembering? Because that's the way it would appear.
Are all female leaders bossy bitches in comparison to the collective group of unfalteringly lovely male bosses out there? Probably not. And even if they were, could we really blame them? As if doing something for yourself, namely pursuing a career, as a woman is not hard enough not only emotionally in terms of the sacrifices you will make, but also in some cases mentally and physically (surely the exhaustion of constantly hitting the brick wall of 'you're not a man so you will have to work twice as hard to convince us you deserve this' is quite the challenge) we now also have to face and fight the fact that virtually everyone in the world of work will expect us to be vile based solely on what they are fed by the media's attempt at subliminally inducing negative bias towards our sex. I admit, even I would struggle not to expose the chip on my shoulder when an employer resigned oneself to the idea that the job would be best filled by the lucky female candidate.
I know it should be obvious. But I just want to clearly state that not all women wishing to do well in their careers are power-mad bitches. Nor are they selfish mothers. And why on God's Earth do they have to choose the lesser of two evils in order to fit into one negative stereotype or another???
In this day and age I fully believe that a woman can pursue a successful high-powered management career whilst loving and devoting herself to her family. Sure, it's not easy. I know that if one day I decide that I want it all, my life will not be as I want it to be unless I fully learn numerous skills such as time-management, prioritizing and the ability to do everything I will do with 100% enthusiasm, passion and energy. Nobody said it would be easy! What's a good life if you don't have to work hard for it? A crap life, that's what. A life where you don't appreciate the things you have. A life not worth living, I reckon.
Basically what I am saying is that I know my female readers out there are forward-thinking, intelligent, charismatic, lovely women of the future, and they know it. However, I think we need to talk about it more often! Encourage one another that we aren't just imagining our own potential, or being silly in dreaming about strutting confidently through a happy office knowing that all the people around us are working towards one common goal and that we are leading them in it...
So next time a friend tells us what she want's to do in the future, let's not smile sadly and treat the conversation like a 'What-would-you-do-if-you-had-a-million-pounds' hypothetical question game, but push her! Give her advice, introduce her to the right people and let her know that you have faith in whatever she wants to do. Positive Outcomes Only, right?

Friday, 22 April 2011

My First Tentative Steps Towards A Bikini-Fit Body...

It's that time of year where body image becomes quite the Hot Topic. Am I thin enough? Toned enough? Will I be confused with a sea mammal if caught laying on the beach this year? Eeek. The responses? No. No. And perhaps not, but only because I wont let myself lay out in the state I'm in at the moment.
At least I'm not in denial right? Working towards a goal always gives someone a purpose, so what exactly is my goal? Well, in a dream world my double chin would be gone, my upper arms would be toned, my breasts would be more pert and a cup size smaller, my stomach would be flatter with nothing to grope at and it would be toned although not too chiseled, my ass would be firmer, my inner thighs would ideally be none existent and... well, I think that's it. Not a lot to ask right? Wrong. Without going under the knife many of these fantasies will ever happen, and since I'm a student living on a students budget, I can just about afford to accept the fact that this is my body and I'd better get used to it.
However, some of these aims might be within reach, if I work really hard. So, the deadline is the 18th of June. This gives me eight weeks in order the make the best out of a bad situation.
Also, I apologize for being a little overly-critical of myself. I'm by no means a Fat Pig. And yet I'm not happy, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. When we force ourselves to think really rationally, most people know that there is really nothing majorly wrong with them. You know that honesty is the best policy and that's what I always strive for in this blog, so I'm going to go ahead and call us all out on committing one of seven deadly sins... Pride and hence Vanity. We know we are fine. But we don't want people to go about their daily business when we walk past because we are nothing disgusting to point and laugh at. We want them to turn their heads and think, 'Dang it, bitch is HOT.' We want people to be jealous of us. We want it all.
I am fully aware of this. In fact, I embrace it, because it's one of those almost unreachable goals which means that I will forever be working towards it which can only be a good thing. You can never be too healthy.
So what steps am I taking towards getting this 'Turn-Heads-In-The-Street-Envy-Inducing' beach body? Well, let me tell you.
1) I'm going to be giving some things up. These things will include red meat, any white carbs apart from healthily cooked potatoes once a week, drinks which aren't water or pure tea (although I will allow three spirit measures a week and a very weak glass of squash a day just to keep my life worth living), chocolate, non-low fat sauces and dressings (yes, this includes my two biggest weaknesses; ketchup and mayonnaise) and excessive amounts of cheese... a maximum of one small cube per day will be imposed without exception.
2) I will be drinking one mug of Herbalife weight-loss-boosting tea a day. It's really good but tastes like... well, I'm not even going to go there. HINT: it is known as Mingy Tea in my household.
3) A minimum of a half hour high-impact cardiovascular exercise and the same of low-impact will be done a day. I have already been running for half an hour a day for the past five days. Win :-)
4) 500 sit-ups are to be done each day.
5) I must use my Slendertone belt for half an hour twice a day.
6) I will have five mini-meals a day with my first at 10am every two hours until 6pm. If I'm having any basic carbs like bread, rice or pasta then they must be eaten at or before 2pm.
That's all I can think of so far! Oh and I'm going to try to limit my daytime naps to just once a week and a lie in past 10am just once a week too. This should mean my body is more active and hence constantly burning fat. Hopefully that should work wonders for my revision also as I wont be able to take one of my colossal 3hour afternoon sleeps. Everyone's a winner.
The only hitch is that I won't be able to properly start all this until Monday the 2nd when I return to university, as my parents constantly want to feed me up. I feel a bit like perhaps they are trying to fatten me up so there's more of me to go around when cannibalism is made legal... Seriously, all I hear is, 'And the chocolate cake is going out of date so we have to eat it right now', 'Will you cut the bread for with dinner and butter it? Yeah, the chips are ready' and 'Who wants a McFlurry???' Bah. It's not a bad life.
Anyways, if any of you out there have any tips for me or want to share your bikini body plans please let me know. Wish me luck!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

SPRING Clean Time!

There are many of you out there who are not aware of my most recent project and the reasons why I have taken this on... I guess you could call it a secret which I am now ready to reveal, so you heard it here first; I'm moving home to Stoke-On-Trent next year!
No, I'm not dropping out of uni and pursuing my life-long ambition of searching for a wealthy old man to leave me his fortune following a mysterious and unexpected death. I will be commuting! As this will be my final year at the University of Birmingham I have found myself having to actually make life plans... scary stuff, I know! So next year, due to an assortment of reasons including saving for my masters course, many of my friends heading off for years abroad and the fact that I seem to keep taking on too much in Birmingham whereas here I know my dad will keep me in check, I have made the decision to sacrifice my independence for one last year before entering the big, bad world of horror also known as 'Being a Grown-Up'.
Remind me why I'm telling you my life story? Ah yes, my new project. Thanks to my Big Decision (which, by the way, my mother is trying to persuade me against - I never realized her reluctance to have me at home during sixth form so this must be a new thing) I have finally been faced with the first of what I am sure will be a-million-and-one dilemmas. To which am I referring? Dilemma Number 1: The Dilemma of the Box Room, of course.
Now, might I snipe rather bitterly that this is a problem I would not be facing if my parents hadn't handed my spacious double bedroom of 12 years or so over to my younger sister literally as soon as I moved into halls. Nonetheless, I am a proactive girl with a can-do attitude so let's not dwell but move forward. Although they really should have saved my room. All I'm saying.
Bygones-be-bygones blah blah blah. So all this has resulted in me beginning my latest project of turning a box bedroom into a storage-filled, chic, study bedroom. Unlikely right? Well, you can do anything you set your mind to, doncha know? My initial plans have begun, and although they have been met with disdain from my mom, I am absolutely convinced that I can make it happen!
How? Well, it will involve one of those beds which is raised like a bunk-bed which you see often in a child's bedroom, making the most of literally every piece of floor space and hopefully roping my granddad in to build shelves and wardrobes in sizes not offered in stores... but I am adamant I can make it work.
My vision; you will walk into my room and to the right you will see a white set of drawers which I already have... actually they are my parents' but I'm swapping mine with theirs I think. On top of these drawers on the right side there will be stacked, fabric storage drawers similar to these although I'm not sure what color to go for...
On the left hand side of the storage drawers there will be a massive frameless mirror nailed to the wall with all of my perfumes and everyday beauty products on the white drawers in front of it. Above this mirror I will probably need a book shelf to keep all my beauty books and the season's magazines. To the left of the set of drawers there will be a very narrow wardrobe like this;
except mine will have a full-body length mirror on the front and on the inside of the door. I want a mirror on both sides as mirrors make small rooms look bigger and reflect the light in a pretty way. Usually one on the front of the wardrobe would be enough but because my room is so small, if I want to check out my reflection in a new outfit, I would have to stand too close which is just inconvenient and detrimental to the overall effect. This way I can open the wardrobe door (which will cover the window behind it) and stand by the door to check my ass out :-) Success! Moving on...
So now we will be directly opposite my bedroom door which is where you will find the window. The way the sun shines in through the window it should really catch the mirror and make the room look a whole lot lighter. I am leaning towards having thick black and gold patterned curtains a little like these...
This is because I'm liking the idea of a black, white and gold theme, plus because of the side of my house where this bedroom is, it is really difficult to nap during the day with a thin curtain set as the sunlight just streams straight in which is, as you can imagine, very annoying. Plus, I think that color scheme is kind of sophisticated yet warm which is exactly what I am going for!
So after the curtains you will find the side of a tall white book-case which reaches just higher than the top of the bed. I want this book-case like this so that when I am up on the bed I have a shelf within reaching distance where I can put my current magazines, books-for-pleasure, cell-phone and charger and iPod docking station. Also, the bookcase will be perfectly placed so that when I am under the bed in the 'study area' all of my course books are right where I need them. The book shelf will be narrow enough so that it doesn't cover the window or the radiator beneath for safety reasons.
That's enough about the book shelf because right next to it is the head of my bed and hence the ladder! I will sleep with my head nearest the window and the bookshelf with my feet towards the same wall where my door is. I want a white wooden bed stand kind of similar to this one, although this girl obviously has an abundance of space in her room. Ugh, jealous.
I would like the underneath part of my bed as much like this as possible... However, the desk wont be able to come out any further than the side of the bed, and it will need to be shallower, just deep enough to hold my laptop and an A4-sized piece of paper in front of it for in case I need to take notes. Long-ways the desk should be big enough to hold a big open book next to my laptop, a desk lamp, plus a little stationary pot for loose pens and what not. Under the desk will be a shallow drawer where my stationary will be organised. My printer will probably be kept on the floor underneath the desk next to a little waste-paper bin. I will have a little white desk chair and I really love this one as it fits in with the rest of the white wooden furniture but also has wheels on it for when I want to slide across to my mirror to do my make-up in the mornings. Plus it would tuck perfectly under the desk!
Behind the desk chair (and next to the book shelf) I would like a cushioned, comfy-looking sofa-style chair so I can curl up with a book when I need to. I haven't spotted any in particular that I like or think would fit, but something with a black throw and some gold cushions might be nice...
I want gold fairy lights all over my ceiling and in as many places as physically possible and will probably go with a white lamp shade to keep things as light as possible.
Anyway, I'm a long way from that at this stage. But still, I started working towards the dream today by clearing out all of my drawers, getting rid of clothes I no longer need and throwing out all of my old papers and trinkets which just make the place look like a pig sty. Basically making the most of the Spring Clean Cliche. Plus, it seems that my cream carpet should be going down within the next couple of weeks which is great! Following that I'm going to get the walls painted in a kind of just-off-white-nearly-cream color. I know what you're thinking 'White, cream, gold???' In which case I would tell you to open your eyes and check the latest collections on the high street and catwalk. Mixing shades of white was once somewhat taboo, but those days are no more, and hell, how glad am I? This totally works in my favor because my room should look like a regal haven of class and minimalist sophistication. Black, cream, gold and white. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
Let me know what you think...

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Denim Dos and Don'ts for Spring/Summer 2011

I have been compelled to write this blog as a public duty to discourage epic crimes against fashion. Our community is over-run with Denim Amateurs and quite frankly, it makes me sick. Ok, so I'm being melodramatic, but still! Come on people, it's been one of the most commonly worn materials for decades, and yet some people still haven't gotten to grips with the rules, and yes, there are rules, to making this fashion staple work for them, never mind been able to follow the current trends ruling the fashion roost this season. So, here I go... my dos and don'ts for apprehensive denim wearers everywhere!
DO find the right shade for you. Denim is not the sort of thing where you can just say, 'Oh denim doesn't look good on me.' MAN UP. Denim looks good on everyone if you find the right cut and color for you! Topshop alone offer more than 45 different shades in their MOTO range (I went on the website earlier on and counted them myself... yes, I do have too much time on my hands, but I do it all for you :-)) Darker colors on the bottom will slim you down, whilst too light a color up top runs the risk of washing out a pale complexion. The only way you can find your shade is to try a few out, the blues offer everything from turquoise and teal to azure and midnight hues, and with the amount of variety creating healthy competition between the conventional color and this season's pastels in peaches, yellows and lilacs, there really is something for everyone. So you have no excuse.
DON'T touch prints if you're not used to them. If you are a Denim Amateur and also a Print Amateur, please don't take your first foray into both at the same time. There are too many rules that you will have to follow, too much to be aware of all at once... just trust me.
DON'T sport denim with denim if you aren't sure how it looks. I know this might be a bit of a controversial issue as the SS11 runways and ad campaigns by the like of Guess, Marc Jacobs and naturally, Levi display this double-denim trend, but it is really very difficult to pull the double-D off. My top tip for attempting to work this look is to make sure that the colors are contrasting enough that it doesn't look like you were trying to get the same shade, as unless the items are sold in the same place as part of a set, it is unlikely that you will ace it. Try to keep accessories and shoes as feminine as possible, rolling up the sleeves of shirts in order to expose tiny wrists with pretty bracelets, and long fingers with rings. Minimalist lace camisoles look cute under a stone-wash denim shirt untucked with a dark pair of jeggings, gold gladiator sandals, gold bangles, gold rings, gold... well everything else gold. Again, keep make-up as soft as possible in order to take the harsh edge off this risky fashion, but as I said, if in doubt, just DON'T.
DO pick a good cut for you. If you would never bare your legs in a mini cocktail dress, don't do it in denim either! If you are self-conscious about a voluptuous butt, why buy a pair of denim hot-pants in which you'll be uncomfortable all day *cue 'Does-my-butt look-big-in-this' style questions.* Seriously, I can't emphasize enough the importance of trying the items on before you buy them, and try them on with things you would wear them with. Even take a picture in the changing rooms, leave and return at a later date, because denim can be expensive and the last thing you want is to find yourself regretting the calf-baring culottes which cost a week's wages which you bought just because they are 'in at the moment...' I could sit here and write a list of 'Petites suit high-waisted jeans' type tips, but at the end of the day it's all down to what you are comfortable in, so set aside an afternoon and get to grips with all the cuts denim has to offer!
DO wear the right size. This is one of my ultimate Denim-Related Pet-Hates. Hint: If your ass cheeks begin to escape your short shorts and the blood flow can't be felt below your inner-thighs, the shorts are probably too short. If your skinny drain-pipe jeans begin to slide down your ass no longer sculpting it like it deserves, they are probably too big... Thanks for the offer, but I don't do crack. Muffin-tops, love-handles, flabby thighs, cellulite deriere and a none-existent waist can all be remedied by a well-chosen lower-half good-fit denim item. Why would you ever deprive your hot body of its full potential just for the sake of vanity associated with sizes? Get the right one and no-one will ever guess that you swapped your size 10 hip-squishing denim skirt from last summer for a comfier size 12 alternative which hugs all the RIGHT places and skims over the 'wrong'. Actually, strike that. They will notice. Because you'll look about a million times better!
DON'T just stick to jeans. Spring/Summer 2011 is the first time in ages that we can get away with effectively wearing denim knickers whilst claiming that they are part of the trendy 70's hot-pant revival as seen all over the high street. Denim jackets are (and always will be) cute, especially in the shrunken-look style which River Island in particular has embraced for the warmer months. But don't rule out throwing on a light-weight denim shirt over a pretty summer dress, or rocking a cut-off waistcoat with a floral maxi for a bit of boho-chic as a suitable alternative. Playsuits represent another trend which has carried over since last summer (for which my bank balance is eternally thankful...) Try to mix it up a bit with a pretty top underneath with the buttons undone, or a checked shirt with the collar peeping over the top for a preppy-rockabilly mash-up. Even denim-look wedges, brogues and loafers have been cropping up in the likes of Office and Oasis in the past couple of months, so be daring and give them the 'Ole College Try'; you're sure to catch some eyes and gain points for originality, and who knows you might be the one to lead the trend!
DO keep it simple with effects. Cut-off denim shorts and skirts are one thing, but wearing a slashed-up pair of skinnies exposing more flesh than necessary will have people thinking you belong at a Big Fat event rather than in the pages of a glossy mag. Other cheap-looking extreme effects include the insides of pockets showing due to the length of a mini, glitter on any area and studs, chains, decals etcetera are just not cool, particularly for the relaxed feel which dominated the SS11 runways in preparation for this time of year.
So that's really all I can think of right now, and I really hope this has been helpful for those of you out there who aren't really sure how to work the current denim styles... To be honest I wrote this because just today I tried on about five pairs of denim shorts in Topshop before I found that the pair I least expected to work for me (a pair of turquoise-tinted blue hot-pants, just about waist-high with the bottoms rolled up a tad, firmly clutching my butt yet comfy enough to dance in) actually looked and felt awesome! There really is a lot going on with denim at the moment, which can be quite overwhelming for those who've reserved the idea of this material for jeans and nothing else. However, there is so much to be gained from the different pieces out there right now, it would be a shame not to make the most of them purely because of uncertainty as to where to start...
Let me know about your most recent denim finds and any denim-wearing tips which could help me and my readers to rock the look :-)
Speak soon

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

If We Were a Movie... Romance Might Exist.

Just a quickie tonight before I get a few hours of well deserved beauty sleep after my day of being sat on my backside doing nothing of any importance whatsoever... actually perhaps I should attempt to make my evening a bit more productive in order to reduce my guilt (why is is that the closer the deadlines loom, the more I'm in denial about their existence?)
My day of watching US teen dramas including One Tree Hill, 90210, Glee, Gossip Girl and Hellcats (what can I say, it's been a long day...) has made me notice an area where real-life UK - and perhaps worldwide, although I couldn't be sure - youngsters are truly missing out.
'How's your love-life?' What a question. Whether it fills you with dread at the thought of having to post-mortem your most recent romantic failing, or instills selfish excitement at an opportunity to brag about quite how loved-up and sexually active you've been recently, it's likely that you are familiar with the cliche, or words to its effect.
So let me ask you this; tell me something romantic. Ah. Now you are stumped. Don't feel bad, I'm just trying to prove a point. Considering our screens are constantly dominated by rocks on a window pane, acoustic love songs in grimy bars and 'promise' rings, most young people are unlikely to be aware of anything more romantic than a tearful girl being accompanied to the pharmacy by the one-night-stand she pulled towards the end of the night after the condom he'd been carting around in his pocket for only God-knows-how-long didn't quite keep up its end of the bargain.
Don't get me wrong, I know that this doesn't apply to everybody out there, and it's the stories to the contrary that keep the romantic in me hopeful... But is it really too much to ask to meet a cute guy in the library who doesn't actually need five pints of snake-bite rotting his liver before he gets up the courage to ask what you're reading?
Recently, a friend of mine who was looking around a new house with his family couldn't help but notice just how pretty the girl was whose room he might end up moving into. She offered him a cup of tea, and they chatted about uni, smiling and flirting until the parents had satisfied their need to check every nook and cranny for damp etcetera. It was time to leave, so he left. Now, even he (who might well kill me for telling his story) couldn't help but tell me about her, admitting bashfully (which is quite becoming on said young man...) 'I can't get her out of my mind.'
Rather naively I suggested he go, knock on her door and tell her what he told me. Silly me, I seem to have forgotten that we don't live in a Hollywood chick-flick. 'Maybe I can pull her if she's out this weekend' was the response I got. Wow. And I was just about to believe in romance. Silly me indeed.
Then my friend went on to make a very valid point, 'I don't want her to think I'm some rapist-stalker, I couldn't just show up at her house even if I wanted to.' This struck me as so sad. I know that there are people out there who would fold their arms if a stranger approached them in a sober state. Heck, I know people who would do much worse than that, purely because it no longer seems to be the done thing to talk to strangers. Of course I understand being cautious, but one such companion of mine looked at me almost as if I'd come into her house on Christmas morning and urinated on her turkey when I greeted an unknown dog-walker with a kind, 'Hello' during an afternoon stroll. 'Do you know him? Who's he? Why did you say hi?' Once I'd explained that I didn't know or recognize the stranger, and that I was just being polite, the next bout of over-analysis began, 'Why did he say hi back? He must be weird. He'll probably follow us home now!' Oh, I wish I'd never bothered...
Obviously I am no enemy to the way in which technology has impacted communication; if I was, this blog wouldn't exist. However, I can't help but lament the ways in which some people seem to have donned it as a replacement rather than an enhancement to regular face-to-face interaction. The saddest thing is that this, along with the inability of so many to control their loins seems to have etched the message on Romance's tombstone. Romance Is No More.
I'm no prude, and I too can't help but hold a secret smile during a flirty text-fest. But I sometimes wish a guy would slide a note across my work desk, or expertly place a goodnight kiss which gives enough to leave me wanting more but not too much that my face could join my whites in the tumble dryer.
I totally am not trying to belittle those of you out there who love nothing more than assessing the quality of the zip on your PBD (Pulling Black Dress) as Drunken Hottie in a nightclub full of alcohol-fueled, sexually-charged males attempts to peel it off. In fact, at times I am sort of jealous about the fact that that's just not enough for me. Call me old-fashioned but I need a guy to prove he's worthy of my body before he can get his happy ending... and vice-versa.
Naturally, this means making a few sacrifices which would be far to much effort to euphamise in this blog, although I hope my readers are wise enough to understand what I mean. But for now, this kind of works for me...
Before you misunderstand me, I am not looking for a marriage contract, or even necessarily a relationship. Just an experience followed by no regrets and the thought that, 'Well, even if this goes no further, at least he showed some level of interest in me, some amount creativity and some element of not being a 'Would-Have-Settled-For-Anything-With-'Poon'-Toss-Pot' before the hot sex'.
So what's the message, the moral of the rant? Guys, next time you see a hot girl in the library, don't waste your time wondering if she is carrying mace in her colossal handbag. Don't avoid her front door in fear of being issued a restraining order. Don't add her to a list of hundreds of other girls on facebook then ignore her existence. Don't just text 'Hey :)' And before you think about it, don't even try to attempt to satiate your longing for the girl who caught your eye with the less-satisfying, vomit-covered, fake-tan-stained, broken-heeled wreck who no-one else wanted at two AM on your next night out.
Earn her body. Buy the roses. Write the poem. Play her favorite song. Ask what she's reading. I've always found libraries really sexy... who knows, you might get luckier than you ever expected. Plus isn't it a compelling challenge to walk the walk and, ahem, talk the talk without the aids of romance's two most evil slayers, technology and alcohol? Confidence is, after all, one of the greatest aphrodisiacs, so wear it proud.
I'll let you thank me when you're getting laid in the library stacks ;-)
You're welcome...

Monday, 18 April 2011

Review - BarryM Instant Nail Effects in Black Magic (311)

Hey guys,
So a couple of months ago I finally managed to get hold of a little pot of genius courtesy of BarryM during a Boots online haul. I bought this product in preparation for my Moulin Rouge-themed birthday night out in Birmingham, in order to get the 'amazing effects' not usually attainable without shelling out for a professional manicurist, layered over the top of Topshop's Bad Habit blood-red nail color.
The product retails at £3.99 in the UK and I can honestly say that it is worth every penny... even if it does take a little getting used to.
When I initially received this product in the post, I wanted to try it immediately so I unscrewed the top and used the narrow brush to begin painting the black directly onto my bare nails. Now, those of you out there who have made this same mistake will know exactly what I am going to say, so if this means you, I apologize in advance for telling what you already know; this is not how the product works.
In the instructions booklet provided with all Instant Nail Effects products by BarryM, it clearly advises that the user 'Paint nails with chosen colour' before 'Applying a single coat' [of the product] and being sure not to 'overlap'. I, on the other hand, thought incorrectly that I knew better than to read and follow instructions and practically poured two coats of this product onto my naked talons, which resulted in a rather gloopy, matte-black color which did not provide the graffiti effect promised by the photographs attached to the pot. Lesson learned.
On my next nail, I made the effort to use a color beneath this time, in the form of BarryM's Nail Pain in Coral 294 (this color arrived in the same haul although it was not as it appeared on the website... despite its tell-tale name the photograph led me to believe that this was more of a red than an orange... I kept the color nonetheless and have since found it to be perfect for spring!) I used an old clear base coat which I've had knocking around my room for quite some time before painting the coral color onto my nails twice. Next was the moment of truth. I realized that I would have to do my nail in two strips as the brush is so narrow that it wouldn't be able to be simply applied in one swift stroke, so I began the first. This time I noticed quite home quickly the product dried into the Aztec-style print I was initially expecting. Whilst painting on the second strip, I noted the importance that the amount of product you use is in terms of getting the most professional look. Initially I assumed that as with most good nail colors one single dip in the pot would be sufficient for coating a whole nail. However, due to the composition of the formula used in order to make the overall effect possible, the remaining product on the brush after the first strip was painted was not enough. I applied more product to the brush which then ended up being too much, meaning that the effect was not as noticeable and took longer to dry.
So like I said, this product needs a lot of practice, but once its done and you have the technique under control, this item will become a night-out staple!
The best thing is that it looks good over the top of almost any bright color, adding a hint of rock-girl chic to your look in minutes without you having to go the whole hog and wander round with nails which look like they've been dragged down a sooty fireplace before being dunked in a greasy oil slick in the company of a goth-happy Taylor Momsen. People WILL stop you in the club to ask who did your nails. Even the guys couldn't conceal how impressed they were when I explained that I had done them myself! Another fantastic element to Instant Nail Effects is that along with being affordable and a little going a long way, I found that BarryM exceeded my expectations with regards to durability. I washed dishes, cleaned bathrooms and collected glasses for three days before the product even began to look worn. It didn't begin to chip until day five, and when it did I noticed that the color underneath had too stood the test of time, protected by the almost-impenetrable Nail Effects paint. However, I also found that when it was time to be removed, the formula swiped off as easy as... well, I can't even think of a suitable metaphor which would do justice to the way in which this product slipped off with ease leaving not so much of a hint of the color behind, a feat which many a dark nail color strive to achieve yet rarely do.
Of course, there are always areas where a product could do better, so I guess I had better mention them too. When the effect had dried and I had worn it for a day or so, I kind of got bored of the matte-ness. I eventually had to paint on a top coat in order to brighten my nails which resulted in them catching the eyes of even more kind complement-donors! Another problem I found which was only a minor set-back once I had mastered the art of the No Overlap Two Strip Technique (as I now fondly call it). However, I can't help but think it might make things a million times easier for the manufacturers to produce a brush which was wide enough to cover the nail in one stroke... this would also prevent the need to double-dip the brush then deal with the Product Amount Dilemma (it's a little scary how this product has crept into the daily trials and tribulations of my life...)
I'm sure that there are those of you out there who will be aware that BarryM are not the only cosmetic brand out there exploring DIY nail art in the effortless guise of a clever nail polish. OPI's Limited Edition Katy Perry Black Shatter which retails at £10.50 on and Covergirl's Crackle which has recently been discontinued but initially was sold at a similar price boast equal effects but at a higher price, so why the hell bother when BarryM Instant Nail Effects is just as good?
I have spoken. And with a brand new trio of available colors including Pink Fizz, Blue Print and White Frost all £3.99 available at and all good retailers, what more could an unqualified nail-art enthusiast ask for?
Try it out and let me know how it goes
Catch you later

Make It, Don't Fake It, Earn the Benefits, Avoid the Consequences...

I know, I know. I haven't blogged in a while, so sue me. Things have been busy recently, but let me promise you, Dear Reader, not a day goes by that I don't think of you and my beautiful neglected blog, wishing and praying to God that one day I will have enough time on my extremely-full hands to pass on the mini-pearls of wisdom which I stumble across unexpectedly each day.
So am I any less busy than I have been these past few months? No. Have I been overcome by my uncontrollable yearning to tell you about the mundane activities which have mostly filled my time? Again, no. So why on earth have I chosen today, of all days, to relaunch myself into the stratosphere of online media? Well, perhaps I have a message.
I have spent an awful lot of time recently watching vlogs on Youtube, reading blogs on the internet and keeping up with all sorts of characters across the globe via social networks. Well, perhaps not all sorts, but at least those who share similar interests to me; media, fashion, beauty, hard-work, pursuing ones passion etcetera. Anyways, just the other day I was hunting down a tutorial on the mighty Youtube (which by the way I have recently realized offers a wealth of beauty advice if you know how to word your topic in the search bar, but that's a story for another blog...) I wanted simply to find out if there are any alternative ways of using Eye Bright by benefit cosmetics. As it turns out, there are about a million different ways in which this product can be used... really a sensible investment for your make-up train, but again, that's a story for another blog also.
After watching a couple of helpful tutorials, I couldn't help but click on a video whose title caught my eye. Entitled 'Warning - Fake Benefit Cosmetics' this video features the online beauty 'guru' Chyaz Samuel, 20, expressing her disgust upon the receipt of some false benefit cosmetics which were sent to her following a purchase she had made on ebay. The vlogger, who goes by the screen name of punkchyaz, ordered two items, BADgal eyeliner and BADgal mascara, for discounted prices.
It was clear when these items arrived that the products which would usually retail at £14 and £16.50 respectively had not been sold to her, but rather she had received two false and unconvincing duplicates of the genuine products. Naturally, Samuel was not very happy with this transaction and managed to get her money back for both products.
Following this, I clicked through to another vlog which was actually a review by a different 'guru' entitled 'fake benefit thrrrob - ebay!' In this video, the 20 year old vlogger who goes by the screen name 'M3Lchann3l' tells the story of a similar experience where a fake product arrived in the disguise of a poorly-executed rip-off of benefit's statement beautiful packaging. This beauty 'guru' on the other hand actually didn't mind about the fact that she had been sent a fake, but was content with the quality and price of the item which she had been sent. She was merely bemused by the fact that someone out there had taken advantage of not only herself, but also the brand, benefit, in order to make a fast buck.
Samuel's message is clear; beware of ordering beauty products from anyone other than the company themselves, or a reputable vendor. And rightly so, considering the danger which she believes herself to have narrowly avoided; upon receipt she noted that the mascara stank of 'strong chemicals and alcohol', looked 'like paint', was 'dangerous' and 'should not be put near eyes'. Her anger is clear, and the fact that Samuel made the successful effort to claim back her money from the seller is the only somewhat redeemable quality countering the fact that she bought this item in the first place.
So, lesson learned. But what about those who missed Samuel's video and skipped straight to 'M3Lchann3l's video which expresses only the message 'it might not be real, but it works.'
Whilst Samuel was 'disgusted' at the risk these sellers are putting people at, I am disgusted with those who are buying from them too.
Before I continue this rant, let me clear some things up for you. If I don't go into this now, there will be those out there who will presume 'Oh, its OK for her, she probably gets free products, or asks daddy for some money to be able to afford the real products'. This is completely untrue. I work four jobs in order to feed what I refer to as my 'habit' for fashion, beauty, eating-out etcetera. To be able to afford my daily benefit foundation "hello flawless!" I have to work for five hours which is one whole shift. I earn the right to be hacked off at those who help the horrible rip-off merchants out there to continue screwing over my favorite cosmetic brand by purchasing these vile knock-offs.
We have all been there when someone else takes the credit for the hard work which we have put in, haven't we? Now imagine that the evil person behind that betrayal is lazy, uneducated in our field, and taking advantage of the people too innocent to know any better; putting their health at risk, robbing them blind and falsely advertising using our name in order to get ahead against all the odds.
This is sickening.
I wanted to write this blog in order to let everyone know to avoid these vultures as much as possible, and also to exercise your better judgement when confronted with the naivety of those out there who like 'M3Lchann3l' will not fully understand the negative consequences of what is effectively theft until it is too late.
If you cannot afford a product then work for it. If you don't want to work for it, then perhaps you need to reconsider your lifestyle, but please by no means consider handing your money over to these cowboys.
You've been warned...
Ciao for now