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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Kylie Cosmetics Lip Kit in Exposed

When Kylie Jenner first released her lip kits I was so desperate to get my hands on one and I rushed online to get one as soon as I knew they were in stock. This happened about three or four times until I gave up because they were selling out in minutes. And you know what they say: 'If at first you don't succeed, give up'. But a few months into the launch of Kylie Cosmetics, I managed to get one three hours after they were back in stock and I got the shade Exposed, which is supposedly Kylie's favourite shade.

At first glance I thought it might be a bit too dark of a nude for me to pull off. The shades seem to be ones that suit her own complexion best as well as darker skin tones. As of yet there aren't many lighter shades. I believe that Exposed and Koko are the two lightest matte liquid lipsticks. When I swatched it on my hand I thought it was way too dark and peachy for my pale skin. However! I actually think it works nicely as a browny almost bronzey darker nude, along the same lines as MAC Velvet Teddy so I am pretty pleased with this shade.

I love the fact that it comes with a matching lip liner because I'm all about that lip liner lifestyle because my lips are kind of small so I like to make them a little bigger. The lipstick takes a few minutes to set so at the beginning I thought it was a bit too tacky and shiny to be classified as matte but it does dry down. I have only tried the Anastasia Liquid Lipsticks so I can't compare it to the Kat Von D, Stila or Tarte ones but I would say this is pretty comfortable to wear but you do need to put on lip balm a while before applying. 

The real selling point with this are the shades and longevity. Although the shades aren't great for paler people, they still look good and look incredible on people with tan and dark skin. When I have worn this lip liner and lipstick, it lasts on me the whole day - no touch ups whatsoever. And I tested it on a day where I was out all day, eating and drinking wine (tbf the wine is most days...)

Also excuse my moody mug but this was the day after the UK referendum results :| 

Monday, 6 June 2016

The beauty industry - no longer fashion’s sidekick?

The aspirational world of beauty has changed over the last few years due to many reasons. Once a sidekick to fashion, the beauty industry is one of the fastest growing industries, and it really goes hand-in-hand with social media. One of the key reformations to shake the beauty world has been the evolution of social media – from personal, to business-minded and then back to personal again.

Five to ten years ago saw the career launch of beauty bloggers along the likes of Tanya Burr, Zoe Sugg, Michelle Phan etc. Their careers began as a hobby, using YouTube as a platform to showcase their latest beauty buys and makeup tutorials. A small percentage of beauty bloggers are professionals, the others are often self-described amateurs.

One of the UK’s most successful beauty bloggers, Zoe Sugg (otherwise known as Zoella), began her career as a hobby, filming in her bedroom. She now has over 7 million subscribers on YouTube, two best-selling books and a beauty range selling in the UK’s best-known drugstores. Sugg successfully turned what was initially just a hobby into a worldwide business.

The 18 months has seen an additional 18 Mecca Cosmetica stores open as well as the first three Australian Sephora stores. Luxury beauty products are more in demand now than ever, and this is largely thanks to the online beauty community. Whenever a top beauty blogger mentions a product, it is guaranteed to be sold out within a day. You don’t have to be a beauty professional to become a beauty expert, with the help of an internet connection and thirst for knowledge (and the latest liquid lipsticks in every available shade of course).

Social media has had a large impact on how we shop for products. It has also changed who the authoritative voices in the beauty industry are and who we turn to for advice. Everyone nowadays can be a “beauty guru”. All you need is a computer, a camera and… a bit of money to keep being able to afford posting hauls and unboxing videos.

The accessibility of all things online has made beauty and all its tricks less of an underground art. This is especially the case because cosmetics create visual effects after all.

Credit: L'Oréal Paris Instagram

Casandra Ramos, Social Media Assistant Manager at L’Oréal Paris in the US, says: “The beauty industry lends itself so well to social media because social media helps make tips and tricks more accessible to everyone. Consumers can share their learned techniques and newfound expertise that were not easily accessible before social media. Because of that there has been an increase in demand for products that otherwise would not have been desired or really known about. Beauty content is visual and inspirational.”

With social media has come a demand for all things beauty to become personal. Customers are no longer content with recommendations from beauty journalists alone. We crave full knowledge of products before we decide to take the plunge. This has been facilitated by the almighty beauty bloggers of the world and the use of social media. Over last few years, social media has seen a shift and the big corporations have had to adapt in order to keep up with what customers want. What this shift in social media has done is that it has made unlikely products from faraway lands become cult items. Or if we’re sticking to the beauty blogger lingo: holy grail products.

As beauty product information becomes more accessible, the want for more unique products has developed. With image-based social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, and video-based platforms such as Youtube, the latest beauty products are at our fingertips before even committing to purchasing. There is an online beauty cult in the shape of bloggers and their monthly favourite products, vloggers and their hauls and Instagrammers and their lipstick swatches. If you have ever delved into this world, you might be able to name the shades of eyeshadows you haven’t seen in real life.

Steven Waldberg, Vice President of Integrated Marketing Communication at Maybelline New York says: “Companies used to sell products based on a promise. Consumers had to take a leap of faith and trust their brands to give them better skin, a beautiful red pout or smoky eye for instance. Image and video-based platforms such as YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat, have given consumers a platform to play in front of an audience and truly put to test the saying ‘seeing is believing’. We’ve gone from a one-way monologue to a conversation involving many, often times millions!”

Waldberg argues that this shift has put the power into the hands of cosnumers. He says: “These platforms have further democratized beauty (and makeup in particular) and made it by the same token more popular with all age groups. Consumers are now empowered to experiment with beauty, sometimes even coming up with amazing ‘hacks’ which perhaps even brands had not thought of. Brands and retailers have reacted and also launched their own apps (like Makeup Genius for L’Oréal Paris) enabling consumers to try on makeup virtually which was a first at mass, when in most countries, consumers don’t have beauty advisors at point of sale to help them navigate shades and textures. In essence, brands cannot only sell products anymore, they have to also provide service and education to add value to the experience and to their consumers.”

Credit: Maybelline New York Instagram
The rise of Snapchat has certainly changed the way in which customers or fans of brands experience products. With the likes of the Kardashian sisters and other high profile celebrities giving a real insight into the products they use and how they achieve their look, beauty is becoming more accessible and in a personal way. Snapchat allows for 10 second long videos, which demands concise communication but it is at its core, visual. The visual aspect of social media is perhaps why this change can be considered so important.

Platforms such as Snapchat also allow for a behind-the-scenes exclusive content, which means that consumers know what kind of beauty looks are going to be hitting the world by storm. As much as editorial, highly produced content is still en vogue, there is a want for more personal, raw content.

Ramos says: “Snapchat allows for behind-the-scenes of fashion shows and events. This offers a glimpse into the exclusivity of events they could not access before. Snapchat can now also be used to filter our looks and optimize our visual content, which works well alongside the beauty industry.”

Although some may view the cosmetic industry as frivolous, it has played a large part in social acceptance and progression. The fascination involving creative makeup and drag has pushed for a wider acceptance of men wearing makeup. It has also sparked debates on what society considers to be beautiful and how it should be defined. As social media platforms allow for discussion and debate, it has allowed for progression to be made in the real world.

A love for cosmetics is also more wallet-friendly than a fashion obsession, as Waldberg says: “When the last recession hit in 2008, a lot of people were no longer spending the same amounts as they had been on clothes. Beauty became more of a thing because, as Anna Wintour once said on David Letterman, if one can’t afford an expensive dress, one can perhaps spend $10 or $20 on a lipstick, which is just as much of a statement and accessory of sorts to express one’s mood. Beauty brands have also widened their offerings creating many new products to address every inch of one’s face and body - bronzers, brow products, highlighters, to name just a few. In other words, the beauty category is more complete and interesting than it’s ever been.”

According to Statista, the country with the largest revenue from the cosmetic market is the United States, with a revenue estimated to exceed $62 billion USD in 2016. As the beauty sector continues to innovate and adapt alongside social media, the real question is: when will there be London, New York, Paris and Milan Beauty Week?

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