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Thursday, 24 August 2017

Skinstitut Review

An Australian online beauty store called RY (Recreate Yourself) contacted me a while back and asked if I would like to be sent some skincare to try out. I had never heard of Skinstitut before but as it is an Australian owned brand that doesn't test on animals I was open to giving their products a go. This review is going to be 100% honest and I have no interest in sugar coating anything.
Side note: this is not an ad (lets be real, I've never ever been paid to write about a product but I just feel like I need to be transparent!), I was simply sent the products and was not obliged to produce anything in return. 

What I will say though, is that since being introduced to RY, I've seen they have really good deals so if you're based in Australia then definitely check them out because they stock some great brands. I was lucky enough to be sent five products from Skinstitut and here is how I got on with them...

The L-Lactic Acid Cleanser is the product I was most excited about because I have a cleanser to remove my makeup but I wanted one to use afterwards as I prefer to double cleanse. This leaves my skin feeling so soft so I'm really glad this has been introduced into my skin routine.
I really try to make sure I apply SPF every single day, whether it's sunny or a gloomy day in winter. The Age Defence SPF 50 they sent me hasn't broken me out and it is perfectly nice to apply makeup over so for me that's pretty much all I look for (apart from the obvious sun protection). I really like the Enzymatic Micro Peel because I don't own anything like it. At the moment I have a clay face mask but that's it so I really like this one for brightening and smoothing out my skin. I've been using it 2-3 times a week and I really like it. The texture is quite odd because it's just like applying a moisturiser rather than a mask but you wash off after 15 mins and it works really well. One product that I haven't used quite as much is the Moisture Defence Ultra Dry moisturiser, only because moisturisers can break me out so I'm a little bit wary. I think this one is OK so far but to be honest it just seems like a relatively normal moisturiser (even though it claims to be for extra dry skin). It is quite thick in texture but it sinks in really quickly, after a few minutes it almost seems like I didn't apply anything at all so I'm not sure quite how effective it is. The last product is a facial mist (Multi-Active Mist), it smells zesty and fresh and I really like face mists when I just want a little extra hydration or to freshen up the look of my makeup.

Overall I think the products are really nice and not too expensive (by Aussie standards anyway). However, my one complaint is that the packaging is not the best. It is absolutely fine for the thicker products and for the spray (although it looks a little bit boring - which really doesn't matter but I probably wouldn't have looked at them in store), however the cleanser just pours out the hole a little too easily. There is nothing to keep the product in so you have to be mindful of that. Packaging aside, I think the products are nice and I would definitely purchase the cleanser and enzyme peel. I also like how the products smell really fresh so they're lovely to use in the morning.

The products all usually retail at $45 but are on sale for $30.15 on RY at the moment :)

Monday, 14 August 2017

The French Woman Myth

Vogue.com articles
First things first! The title might suggest I don't think french women exist... I can tell you from experience that french women do actually roam the earth. They are real people! What I actually want to write about today is a media fixation on french women and the whole concept of "how to be more french". There are several reasons why I think this is problematic and why the portrayal of french women as all being the same is also not. the. one.

The first reason is that there is no reason whatsoever why we should all aspire to be like people from somewhere we're not from or people who are entirely different to us. It's not only to do with the beauty aspect of the elusive stereotypical french woman, we need to stop aspiring to a fictional, idyllic type of person. French women don't all smoke, they don't all stay skinny while eating croissants and cheese everyday and they're not all nonchalant women whose beauty routine consists of not brushing their hair and only applying a lick of mascara and voilà! There is also this idea that french women don't think about their appearance or their weight and that they don't exercise. This concept of being cool, natural and effortless is deceptive. Most of us, french or not, make an effort when we want to look good and that's OK. What is wrong with looking like you care?

Probably the most annoying part about this representation of the french woman is that she is pretty much exclusively portrayed as a type of Brigitte Bardot or skinny Parisian brunette smoking a cigarette kind of figure. She is always very natural looking and on the slim side. This completely excludes the millions of women in France who are not a part of that stereotype. What about the many french women of northern african decent for example? In fact what about women from the Basque country? Why does the portrayal of french women only reflect those that fit a very specific mould? France is a multicultural country with an array of women from different cultural backgrounds who come in all different shapes, sizes and skin colours. They're just as french as any of the french movie stars from the 60s and 70s.

What is really strange about how french women are portrayed is that the media is still obsessed with women like Brigitte Bardot (who btw is racist af - chic!) and Françoise Hardy aka women who were in the limelight decades ago. Why do we want to be like women from the 1960s? What's wrong with women from 2017?

There are so many reasons why I find articles and guides on how to be more french or Parisian really problematic and something we should move on from. But I'll leave it here for today!

Lets all just aspire to be the best versions of ourselves #cheeeeese :D

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Top picks: TV Shows On Netflix

Everyone loves a good Netflix binge but sometimes it's hard to choose what to watch when there's so much available (and a lot of crap too). I narrowed down some of my favourite shows that I have watched over the past year. Here are my top picks of TV shows on Netflix:

Peaky Blinders
If you're a lover of Cillian Murphy (like me) then there is no way that you haven't yet heard of or watched Peaky Blinders. Set in post World War I Birmingham, Peaky Blinders delves into the exploits of the Peaky Blinders gang. Cillian Murphy plays the lead role (Thomas Shelby) and is absolutely perfect for the role. There are some really great actors that play alongside him, such as Tom Hardy, Sam Neill and Helen McCrory. It takes a few episodes to really get into and I think each one is around an hour long but after a couple, I was well and truly addicted. There are three seasons out and a fourth season is being filmed at the moment. It also has a killer soundtrack *thumbs up*.

You'll love it if you like: Anything crime and gangs related

Lovesick
I don't know how I have never heard anyone mention this show before, but I watched it on a whim when I had run out of other shows to watch and I thought it was great. It's a British sitcom, in which the main character finds out that he has contracted Chlamydia and so he decides to contact all of his former sexual partners to inform them. It features a lot of flashback scenes which tie his past into his present and it also deals with him and his current friendship group's love and relationship situations. It's a really easy to watch show and I found it really funny.

You'll love it if you like: British comedy and shows like Catastrophe

Broadchurch 
This might be a bit of a bold claim but I think Broadchurch has to be my all-time favourite TV show. I feel like it has everything I want from a crime series (can you tell I love crime?): great acting, suspense, drama, plot twists... ugh I could go on for a wee while. In the first season it follows two detectives who are investigating the murder of a young boy and it unravels the town's secrets as well as the personal, private lives of the two main investigators. David Tennant and Olivia Coleman are two of my favourite actors and I think they make an amazing team. There are three seasons but I haven't managed to find the third season online yet (I live in Australia ya see). It's one of those shows where you just have to keep on watching and nothing was able to distract me (not even Instagram).

You'll love it if you like: British TV and crime shows, like The Fall or The Killing

Master of None
This one is just a bit of fun if you want something light and funny to watch. It's a comedy-drama and it was created by and features Aziz Ansari. It just follows his character, who is a 30 something year old actor who is trying to make it (in his career and personal life) in New York. It's just pretty lighthearted and will get you giggling. There is one season so far and the second one is coming out this month.

You'll love it if you like: American sitcoms like How I Met Your Mother

Top Boy
I recently watched both seasons of Top Boy and I really enjoyed it. It is set in an East London estate and it follows a group of people involved in drug dealing and gang rivalry. I found it to be gripping as well as insightful, as it sheds light on the drug war in London and how people end up getting involved in it. It stars Ashley Walters (Asher D) and Kane Robinson (Kano).

You'll love it if you like: Anything crime and gangs related

Black Mirror
I didn't start watching Black Mirror until way after the second series was released because I had heard it was scary (which it kind of is, but not in a haunted house, spooky kind of way). Black Mirror is stand alone episodes of an alternative reality, set mostly in the present. It showcases an exaggerated view of how our world is or how it could become. It raises questions about the modern world and our use of technology and it's really bloody clever and gripping. Watch it.

You'll love if it you like: Anything science fiction or dystopian  

Other good'uns: Love, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Riverdale, Narcos, Extras, The Crown
Documentaries: How To Make a Murderer, Twinsters, Jumbo Wild

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Review: Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Mascara



I pretty much don't ever repurchase makeup products unless it's foundation or eyebrow products. But once I tried this mascara maybe six months ago or so, there's been no going back so I thought it was about time I wrote a review. I'm talking about the Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir mascara, which is in my opinion fairly expensive for a mascara but it is totally worth it. I believe it was Fleur de Force that I first heard talk about this mascara and usually I go drugstore with mascaras but her description of it completely swayed me.

The brush doesn't look like anything special (as they rarely do) but something about this mascara makes it so easy to quickly achieve thick, long and not-too-clumpy lashes. It doesn't smudge, flake or wear off across the duration of the day and it's super black.

My first tube began to dry out around the six month mark (bear in mind it was the only mascara I had been using, it wasn't on rotation so that's pretty good going) and I thought I would try a cheaper one just to see. I bought a Bourjois mascara and as soon as I tried it I was disappointed. It wasn't as black or volumizing and it took a good while to build it up until it looked just about okay. The next day I walked past a Sephora to be reunited with my one true mascara love. Without a doubt it is the best mascara I have ever tried. Bold statement, I know.

For some reason, the handle on this mascara also makes for a really good application. I find some mascara handles to be a bit slippy and I end up dropping the wand and making a mess. The Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir has a really good grip to it and the packaging is really beautiful.

I am wearing this mascara in all of my photos on Instagram from the last six months, my handle is @annieelizabethm.

You can buy it online from:
Sephora AU - $39 AUD
Sephora USA - $26 USD
John Lewis UK - £22

Saturday, 7 January 2017

How I stay mentally/physically (reasonably) healthy?

I feel like while everyone else is trying to look like they belong on an Instagram fitspo account, I'm just trying to stay sane. Which in itself does involve being active but for me that isn't really so much about looking good (although less wobble would suit me fine), it's more about knowing I can lift shopping bags, run to the bus (or run away from strange strangers) and about feeling good. You know, endorphins and all that.

Meditate
Meditation is very new to me, it's something I only started doing a couple of months back. I started by using the app Headspace and then started using Calm because I can do it without guidance now (but the sound of crackling fire does make it more enjoyable). I started meditating when I was having a bit of a crap time here in Melbourne, my closest friend here had left a few months before, more people were leaving and I just felt a bit confused about what I was doing with my life. Meditation helped in a way that I never thought it could, it really helps you to focus and get on with your day without dwelling on things - which is really helpful for a worrier like me. I like to do it maybe 3x a week, first thing in the morning.

Leave the house everyday
This one is really important to me. I know if I don't leave the house everyday (which is pretty easily done when you're a student) then I will just get really sad. I need to get some fresh air, move my limbs and see other people out and about. So I make sure I leave the flat every single day, even if I have nowhere to go and no one to see.

Exercise
I have gone to the gym on and off for about 9 years and have been running for the same amount of time. I usually run between 5 and 10k (just being honest, I do get bored) but I occasionally do longer runs between 10 and 20k. I genuinely really enjoy exercising so it's not too difficult for me to keep it up, unless I'm on holiday etc. I just enjoy the feeling of having moved my body, it's really not to do with results for me it's more just the ritual of moving. It's also good for your body in the long term in terms of helping with joint mobility etc, so overall it's just something that I enjoy doing.

Walk
I love walking. I am completely obsessed with getting over 10,000 steps a day and I just really enjoy walking around towns, cities, parks, up mountains... I love seeing and noticing what is around me and in my environment. And the same goes for walking as exercise, it just makes me feel good and I also find it good for clearing my head. On more challenging walks, I usually do it with family which is for me just fun family time.


Reading
I studied English Literature in my Undergrad and after that I kind of neglected books. I just started reading again this year and I forgot how relaxing but mind-stimulating it is at the same time. The same goes for drawing or any other relaxing hobbies that you might have, it's worth just taking 10-20 mins (or however long you can) out of your day to make that time do what it is that makes you feel calm.


I do drink fairly regularly, I enjoy a fish burger and I love Maltesers, but I do think I am actually pretty healthy. I try not to go overboard with things and the same goes for exercise and downtime - if you do it all in moderation, that's good enough and all you need.

Something I want to do this year is stop comparing myself to others. I'm quite easily jealous of people with slimmer jaw lines, plumper lips, better eyebrows... as well as people who seemingly have their sh*t together aka a stable job, a partner, a nice apartment. I'm not openly jealous of other people and I am happy for other people's success but I need to learn that their success isn't my failure. Because THAT isn't healthy. I'm just taking my time, and that's fine.

Friday, 14 October 2016

How to go on a social media detox

I'm writing this just after deleting Instagram and Snapchat off my phone. This is something I do fairly regularly for a few days, sometimes a couple of weeks and I've even deactivated my Facebook for a couple of years before needing it back for work or uni. It might seem attention seeking through trying to be elusive (oxymoron?) but having a social media detox from time to time makes me personally feel a lot anxious and a lot less jealous.

There are many reasons why you should go on a social media detox rather than, say, an alcohol detox. As we all know, social media just shows us the best snippets of people's lives and then we take it out of context and think other people's whole lives consist of them drinking colourful cocktails on a beach. Jealousy is very normal but I think it's easier than ever for us to feel jealous of people's lives that are actually not much more (if not less) exciting than our own. Another thing is measuring our worth based on the number of likes we get on a photo we posted, it's pretty exhausting and it is not something we should need to worry about it when lets be frank, we all have bigger fish to fry.

Social media is great for keeping in contact with people, spreading ideas and just generally for interacting with other human beings you would never meet in your everyday life. I think social media is great but it's also addictive and moderation is a good thing.

Everyone might have their own reasons for having a social media detox. Maybe it's because you've been through a break up and you don't want to see what your ex is up to. Maybe you've got an exam coming up and need to concentrate. Or maybe you're just sick of comparing yourself and your life to other people's. Either way, here are some tips on how to go on a social media detox (if you're thinking of going on one).

Set yourself a time frame
You probably won't want to delete all of your social media accounts forever, rather just have an amicable break. Whether you want to have a weekend off of Facebook or a month of all social media platforms, give yourself a realistic time frame and stick to it.

Delete the apps off your phone
Most of us spend more time on our phones than on our laptops so just delete your social media apps. I personally always keep Twitter because I mainly follow news or funny accounts so I actually enjoy it and find it more useful than other platforms. If you delete the apps, you won't spend your time reopening and closing them without even realising that you're doing it. Because that is the biggest waste of time when you're using social media just instinctively and subconsciously.

Do all the things you thought you didn't have time for
A lot of us complain that there aren't enough hours in the day when really we're just not using those hours to be productive or do the things we really enjoy. If you usually waste an hour on Instagram a day - read a book, draw, write... just do something that you've always felt you don't have time for.

Let your friends know
Let your closest friends know that you're not on social media so they know to contact you in another way. We're not limited for choice - I am personally sick of people thinking they can only contact me on Facebook or Snapchat when they have my number. It requires no more effort sending a text than it does a message on Facebook. Although you should maybe tell your closest friends and family, to be honest most people won't care because we're all too caught up in our own lives.

Realise that you are not missing anything
Realistically, in the time that you are away from SM, you will not miss a single thing that will be of any importance to you. Nothing. When you return, everything will be as it was. All the important things you will find out another way. It's really that simple.

React to how you feel
If being off of social media just feels inconvenient, maybe social media detoxing isn't for you. If you feel freed and more relaxed, think about what you can do to keep it that. This might mean limiting your use of social media to certain hours of the day, or limiting how many social media apps you have on your phone. Either way react to how being on a social media ban made you feel.

I by no means think that everyone needs to go on a social media detox, but if you're finding yourself a bit stressed or in a bad state, I think removing yourself from social media can be pretty liberating.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

2016 So Far

I feel like every time I write a blog post I have to explain why I haven't been blogging. And it's pretty much always down to laziness, which is something I have to snap out of because I always enjoyed having a space to write my thoughts and opinions (even though they have in the past been mostly about lipsticks...). I thought what I would do to get back into the swing of things I would update you (if any readers have stuck around?) on what has been going on this year.

I decided in about May of 2015 that I wanted to move to Australia. I had only ever been to Sydney (for one day after a three week trip to New Zealand in 2008) but my dad had told me I would love Melbourne. As he's my dad (and a bloody good one) I trusted his judgment and moved to Melbourne in February of 2016 to do a masters in Media and Coms.

Moving to Melbourne was hard. My mom came with me for the first ten days to help me get settled so at the beginning it just felt like a holiday. When she left, I suddenly felt more lonely than I have ever felt in my whole entire life. I was on the other side of the world, I had the odd acquaintance here but I still felt very much alone and very far away. I really struggled to find somewhere to live and the first month involved a lot of moving from one place to another until I found somewhere. I then started university and have since made a few friends and am friends with a few people I knew back home in the UK.

I went home in June for about five weeks back to New York and as much as I loved being in New York and seeing my family, I actually missed being in Melbourne. Melbourne is unlike anywhere else I have ever been. It has all the aspects of a big city but with less people (and the people are way more friendly), strange looking birds, not-so-crazy prices (relative of course) and just an amazing culture. I love the fact that it's a city but it's also by the beach and I generally just love everything about Melbourne (apart from the unpredictable weather). But that doesn't mean that it hasn't been difficult. I hate not being able to see my closest friends and I hate the time difference from here to the UK and the US. I also feel like while I am studying, everyone else is getting on with their lives and their careers.

My younger sister came to Australia and we spent part of August together. We went to Sydney, she came to Melbourne and then we went to Cairns - where we both did our first skydive. Kind of terrifying, kind of amazing. It was so nice to have her here and it made me appreciate being in Australia a lot more when I had her to enjoy it with. 

I appreciate that I am very fortunate to be in a position to be able to live here for a while and that not everyone gets an opportunity like this. I know that when it is all over I will miss Melbourne terribly, even just thinking about leaving brings a tear to my eye. But I also know that being near my closest friends and my family is more important to me than I thought. At this point I don't know what I will do after I graduate and where I will go. Going back to the UK doesn't seem entirely appealing but being so far away is also quite difficult and I am not sure I could do it long-term.

In November I am off to New Zealand for a week and then I will be going home to New York for a few months which I am really looking forward to.

So that's basically it! I just thought I would get back into the swing of things by updating you all on where I have been and what has been going on. I'll be back... SOON.

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