APRIL REFLECTION

We're at that time of the month again where I sit and try to remember all the things that have happened so I can tell you about them. You would think that by now I would write down things during the month to make it a little easier for myself, but that's way too sensible and completely unlike me. I may never learn.

I JOINED THE GYM

Something I've been meaning to start doing for ages is going to the gym/start exercising. So I've only gone and got myself a bloody expensive gym membership and I've pretty much every day since (apart from the odd rest day here and there). I have a gym buddy and we're both extremely committed to it, the gym set us a programme and in 4 weeks they'll switch it up so we start seeing the results we want. In a few months, I'll be able to cross exercising off my 20 things to do before I'm 20 list!


WE BOOKED BUDAPEST

Me and my boyfriend finally booked a holiday for June! We're going to Budapest for 10 days and I could not be more excited about it. I've seen loads of photos of there and apparently it's super duper cheap. We'd also like to visit Vienna quickly whilst we're there and of course we'll go to the baths and everything. I can't wait to get photographing everything!


I BOUGHT A NEW CAMERA

If you follow me on TWITTER or INSTAGRAM, you'll know that I very recently bought the Olympus Pen E-PL7 - the camera I've been lusting after for months. I haven't really had the chance to use it outdoors yet, but I'm going to London very very soon so I have no doubts my little Pen will get a good run about whilst I'm there. I'll be posting a review on this little gem very soon so keep an eye out for that! So, as you can tell, my spending ban did not really go very well at all...


I CHOPPED MY HAIR OFF

After mulling over it for weeks and weeks, I took the plunge and chopped a LOT of my hair off. My hair hasn't been this short since I was about 12 so it's super weird. My lovely hairdresser kept asking me if I was okay during the process so I think I must've looked a little uneasy. Keep an eye out for a post about different hairstyles for short hair!

MAY GOALS

In May I'd like to learn how to properly use my new camera, and try to post better content on my blog. It seems like I get one good idea a month and the rest of my content is severely lacking. I just can't seem to find the inspiration anywhere, all my ideas are the generic monthly favourites and that's it. Hopefully being in London will help with that area, I should be able to think of a few different posts from my week down there.


What are your goals for May?

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APRIL FAVOURITES


Another month down! This year seems to be flying by already. I hate starting favourites posts, no matter what you write it just feels cliché and forced. This month I've been trying out some different skincare things, so apologies in advance if this post is very skincare-heavy.

THE ORDINARY ANTI-BLEMISH SOLUTION



I came across The Ordinary whilst trawling through ASOS a while ago, all their products are very professional sounding with percentages and fancy scientific names so it makes you feel like you're using really expensive stuff. In reality, each product is cheaper than £20 (I think, don't quote me on that). I use this first in my skincare routine - morning and night - and it sinks into my skin so easily, it doesn't leave behind a sticky residue or anything like that. It helps to smooth my skin a lot, it does reduce the size of my spots gradually as well. For the price, I can't really fault it.

ROSEHIP OIL



I've heard such good things about Rosehip Oil but it took me months and months to actually get around to picking some up. I got some also from The Ordinary but I ordered some from Amazon as well - both are exactly the same just, obviously, different brands. I put this on every single night, sometimes after all my other products and sometimes just by itself, and the difference in my skin is insane. My makeup looks so much nicer, my skin looks and feels smoother and my redness is visibly reduced. This stuff is insane. If you haven't tried Rosehip Oil already, buy some.

LA GIRL POWDER



I think I featured this in a favourites post at some point in early 2016, but it's popping up again because I've really been using it a lot this past month. I'm kind of lacklustre when it comes to setting powders - I've got my ancient £3 Rimmel one and even though I can see it does nothing, I still use it. I used to bake with the LA Girl powder (bake my face, not sweets and things) but then I realised I don't actually know how to bake my face, so I just stopped using it. Now I just use it as a standard, brush it all over your face powder and it helps massively in controlling the oiliness I've been struggling with since I started wearing makeup.

TOPSHOP HIGHLIGHTER 'MOTHER OF PEARL'



This is hands-down the best highlighter I have ever used in my LIFE. I don't even know if I've put this in a favourites before, I feel like I must have because I'm obsessed with it. I used to swear by Topshop makeup, and then I realised other brands exist and started wearing those instead. This highlighter is the most insanely pretty iridescent pink, and it's SO GLITTERY. I don't know if glittery highlighters are your thing, but they are most definitely mine. It's so pigmented and when it catches the light, it's stupidly pretty.

RIVERDALE & 13 REASONS WHY


I'm gonna lump these two together because I don't usually include TV shows and these are both readily available to stream on Netflix. Riverdale is so gripping and interesting, the pilot episode is one of my favourite first episodes of any TV show - I am obsessed with the Blossom twins. The episodes come out weekly so there is a bit of a wait once you've caught up, but it's so worth it.

I think everyone has probably watched 13 Reasons Why by now and there's been a lot of mixed reviews on it. Personally, I loved it. It really hit me where it hurt and some aspects maybe resonated a bit too much with me, so I watched it very slowly, just as Clay listened to the tapes at a snails pace.

CHOC GEMS

I'm surprised I don't include food products in my favourites posts more because I literally eat all the time. All I've been eating for the past few weeks is McVitie's Choc Gems. I used to have these in primary school and it seemed like they disappeared for a while - BUT then I saw them in Asda and I was so excited I just had to get them. I've been buying them too much recently. I'm pretty sure I'm solely responsible for them being reduced from £1.60 to £1. I'm not even ashamed.


What have you been loving through April?


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BRAND COLLABORATIONS

Working with brands can be a pretty daunting thing, especially if you're a newbie blogger. I was taken advantage of by a number of brands when I first started out, because when you're new on the blogging scene the thought of working with brands is too exciting to ever imagine asking for more from them. I am by no means an expert at working with brands but there are a few things I've picked up over the months.

  1. DONT BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS.

This one is quite important - I always felt like if I asked questions, brands would be less inclined to work with me. Stupid, right? I would just do everything they said and never ask if I could do things my way or slightly differently. Remember, it's YOUR blog and YOUR content - if you don't understand or don't agree, ask.

2. STAND UP FOR YOURSELF.

I feel like this is so important when you begin to work a bit more with brands. It took me a while to get some guts and actually stand up for myself and my blog because I didn't want the brands to back out. I will always be 100% truthful in any review I post, which one brand didn't like. There was a slightly more negative paragraph which they asked me to remove, but I refused because I always want to disclose my entire feelings. It's important for me that my readers can rely on my honest opinion.


3. CONSIDER YOUR WORTH.

It seems that nowadays brands don't want to offer anything more than exposure alongside a brand collaboration. It's really important to consider whether the exposure and free product to review (sometimes) is worth your time and effort - most times it's not. The first brand I worked with offered me exposure and a discount code to purchase their products with, and when I look back on that I think to myself, why the hell did I accept?! They promoted my posts (yes, there were more than 1) once maybe and claimed once they knew they could trust me to give good reviews, then they'd send the products out for free. Even though I was just starting out as a blogger, I was definitely worth more than the nothing they provided me with. Which brings me onto my next point...

4. ASK FOR PAYMENT.

It has only taken me until very recently to start asking for payment when brands approach me. It's really really difficult to actually work up the guts to ask but when it eventually pays off, it'll be worth it. I am yet to be successful but when you begin to realise how much your time and effort is worth, asking wont seem so scary. It's not just writing - it's testing, writing, photographing and promoting, and that is worth more than 'exposure'. I found it hard to know how much to ask for, I didn't want to come across as cheeky but I also don't want to undersell myself. Ellefluence have a little calculator for you to work out how much to ask for based on your stats, which definitely comes in handy!

  5. IF YOU GET A BAD FEELING, SAY NO.

Don't just say yes for the novelty of actually getting to collaborate with brands, more often than not, it's not worth it. If there's spelling mistakes in the email, they don't address me by name or the email is very impersonal/black and white, I'm more inclined to say no. Trust your gut and don't be afraid to say no - not working with brands is better than having a bad experience with them. Just ask anyone, I'm sure they'd agree.

These are probably all points you've considered and you know about, but if this post helps just one person, that's good enough for me! Go get those brand deals, gurl/boy.


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20 THINGS TO DO BEFORE IM 20


My mum has recently challenged me to think of 20 things I would like to do before I turn 20 this year - and obviously, do them. She said they can be as small or as big as I would like, as long as there's 20. So I figured, why not turn it into a blog post? I swear most of my blog post ideas actually come from my mum. I know this is quite a cliche thing to do, but mostly it's '20 things I did before I turned 20' so this is a little different. I'm just doing it early.


  1. Visit the Budapest thermal baths.
  2. Change jobs.
  3. Reach 50,000 blog pageviews.
  4. Get another tattoo.
  5. Get my hair cut short.
  6. Visit London Zoo.
  7. Start regularly exercising (and maintain it).
  8. Finish reading a classic book (Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights).
  9. Watch Hacksaw Ridge.
  10. Save at least £500 (aiming small because I am rubbish at saving money).
  11. Visit the Madame Tussauds in London.
  12.  Visit Vienna.
  13. Buy an Olympus Pen.
  14. Write a lookbook post.
  15. Paint my desk OR buy a new one.
  16. Read the second Miss Peregrine book.
  17. Pin up my photos OR put them into a photo album.
  18. Get another plant.
  19. Get my baby bracelet adjusted to a wearable one.
  20. Buy grey Calvins.


So there's 20 things I'm going to do before I turn 20 in October! Some of these are lame, some are already booked (so I'm cheating a little bit) and some of them will be a bit of a challenge! Here's hoping I actually succeed.

What things would you like to do before your next birthday?


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WINKY LUX PH BALMS

A few of you might remember seeing these floating around in a Facebook video a while back - that's where I first saw them and I loved them but kinda brushed it to the side because things in Facebook videos are either not real or only available in America. BUT - I found these on ASOS! And just in time too, I'm pretty sure they sold out the day after I bought them. They were sitting in my wishlist for about a month so boy, am I glad they didn't sell out before. I could photograph these every day for the rest of my life.

These 3 little flower balms only cost me £25 for all 3, plus a cute little golden makeup bag. Of course, there are still new and shiny and precious therefore I can't bear to remove them from the packaging. I like to just sit and look at them all day, I've only just recently gotten past being too afraid to actually use them.

The little yellow flower is my favourite - it's so dainty and little and fits perfectly in the balm. You can kind of see the pink tint in this photo; these balms react to the PH in your lips and turn your own perfectly tailored shade of pink. One thing I have found is that they don't last very long, but they are a balm and not a lipstick so they restore your lips and also add a little tint.

One thing about these that the blogger in me really hates is the rounded bottom. It was a nightmare trying to get them to stand up for photos - pretty sure you can actually see the blutac I used to get them to stay upright. Although, this isn't a reflection of the actual product. But if you were going to buy these solely to take photos of and never to use, I'd advise against it.

I really like the shade of pink they turn on me - it's nice and natural and not too different from my normal lip colour. You do notice a difference but it's not too drastic, I've always struggled to make pink lipsticks look nice on me so this was a welcome change. They perform well as a lip balm too, I can usually just get away with applying it once and my lips are all set for the rest of the day.


Have you ever tried Winky Lux?

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MUST HAVE PHOTO EDITING APPS


My photos go through a looooot of editing and tweaking and just generally me messing about with them to get them to look even somewhat decent. I know my photos are nowhere near as good as some other bloggers' photos but considering my photography skills are sub-par at best, I think I do okay. I thought I'd share a few of my favourite apps for editing all my photos, some of these have changed the way I edit forever and you should all get to appreciate them as well.

FACETUNE


This is definitely the number one app that has helped with my photo editing. All bloggers want that perfectly white background to match their Instagram aesthetic, but what are you to do when your white blanket has turned slightly very not white with age? Facetune it. The whitening tool is a lifesaver, I use it all the time to whiten the surfaces in my photos and you can also use it to blur backgrounds to create the effect so loved by bloggers worldwide. This is unfortunately not a free app, but if you can swing it, it's definitely worth it. I had an iTunes voucher left over from Christmas and I don't buy songs on iTunes so I used it to buy this, and I've never looked back.


VSCO


This was one of the very first apps I used for photo editing and I still go back to it now, almost a year after starting blogging. I like how when you upload a photo onto VSCO, it stays there until you manually delete it - meaning it's easy to find old photos. I like to use this app to see how much I've progressed in terms of photography; I always think my photos are rubbish so it helps to look at my old photos that really were rubbish.

I like to use the C3 filter (pictured) for outdoors or anything blue - it makes blue look nice. I use A3 for photos with a lot of white, mostly flatlays, and I occasionally use G3 if I feel like being different.

COLORSTORY


Another app quite similar to VSCO - it lets you do the basics such as brighten and add filters. I do prefer VSCO because it keeps all your previous photos but I like the filters available on ColorStory - and each icon is clearly labelled which really helps me because I struggle with just the little icons. I use either Pop or Everyday (pictured) from the Essentials section; I turn down the harshness of the filters quite a lot though so it looks a little more natural. You can also add some cool light effects which maybe aren't so good for those 'clean-cut' blogger photos but they're pretty fun to play around with.


PHONTO


I think the final step in photo editing should be adding the optional text to it. I'm still trying to get the hang of what looks good and what looks like a 7 year old playing with fonts. I only use Phonto occasionally but I think it's really good as a beginners text editing app. And probably an advanved text editing app, if you know how to use it properly. There's a range of different fonts you can use and also some little shapes you can add in - I turn the square into a rectangle to make the words easier to read. Ah, the life of a text novice.


What are your favourite photo editing apps?

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MARCH FAVOURITES


It actually feels like it's been about 3 months since I've written one of these. Did I even do a February favourites? I honestly couldn't tell you. March has felt like such a long month! Really quite glad that it's almost April. April feels like a lot more of a Spring month; I just hope the weather agrees with me and I can be outside and warm and happy.

OFF THE SHOULDER JUMPERS

The first obsession is a BIG one. I have no idea what caused the sudden urge to buy loads of off the shoulder items of clothing but it happened and I am digging it and I cannot stop wearing them. All the things I bought are super affordable - from Primark or Boohoo - and I don't think I could've picked anything better to start transitioning into a Spring wardrobe. The jumper aspect is enough to keep you warm whilst it's not baking hot, but should it warm up, it's easy enough to throw a thin jacket on and it's plenty. 


BOURJOIS HEALTH MIX SERUM

I had been meaning to pick up this foundation for SO long, but only just got around to it earlier this month. It's a lot lighter than most of my other foundations so it actually makes my skin feel like it can breathe and isn't a total nightmare to take off at the end of the day. It's not the usual kind of coverage that I like but when I put concealer on, it actually looks pretty good. It makes my skin look so radiant and doesn't turn cakey at all. I think I may have finally found a drugstore foundation I like! 




VO5 HEAT DEFENCE

I'm not really, really big on haircare but one thing I cannont be without is heat defence spray. I try not to use a lot of heat on my hair, but any heat styling tools are obviously very hot and it just never feels right using it on my hair without something to protect it. I've used a few different sprays, but this VO5 one is right up the top of my favourites. I use this when I've just come out of the shower and my hair is wet, and also directly before using my straighteners or curlers when my hair is dry. I avoid my roots though because my hair is greasy enough without adding anything else. This smells amazing at makes my hair so shiny every day - it actually looks healthy! 


LOOSE WAVES

Following on from the heat defence spray, the hairstyle I've been doing pretty much every day since chopping my hair is loose waves. When my hair was longer, I would use my curlers to do pretty tight curls which were pretty cute, but new hair calls for new styling methods. Just google how to curl your hair with straighteners and that should do it. I did consider buying some larger barrelled curlers but I'm already poor enough without wasting money on more styling tools that I don't need.


QUINOA CHIPS

Would it really be a favourites post if there weren't any food items? For the past month I have been attempting to give up crisps so I was willing to try any alternative out there. I've already exhausted my love of popcorn by having several bags a week so it was time to move on to something else. Some of my friends had quinoa chips so I decided to give them a go. Unfortunately, they also make my skin pretty bad so they're not a good alternative to other crisps, meaning I have to avoid them more often than not. They're so damn good. (And they're vegan.)


What have you been loving throughout March?


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