Thursday, 19 April 2018

Helpful Apps for Living in London

Did you know I moved to London recently?!?! I don't know if I mentioned it? Anyway, I have absolutely no sense of direction, and my geographical skills leave a lot to be desired so I wanted to share my most useful apps to those who are planning the big move, or are 6 months in and still feeling like an international student... You're welcome!


Such a good app to download once you've settled in and you're ready to start exploring! You just search for a location (Clapham, Shoreditch etc) and the kind of vibe you want and it recommends places to go. Options include things like beer gardens (v.v.v. handy in this weather!) date night (gathering dust on my phone, not gonna lie) new openings, gigs, pop ups, vegan etc etc! It also shows what's on each week, so you're spoilt for choice!

My life saver! Seriously, if you are ever in London, even if you’re just visiting, you need to download citymapper. It’s free, and you simply type in your current location and destination, and it shows you how to get there via tube, train, bus, how long it would take in and Uber or walking. It tells you where to change, which line to get and whether its northbound or southbound, and even notifies you when to get off. Life saver.

If you’re into the theatre, Today Tix is a free app which offers discounted tickets. You can only book for the upcoming month, but the discounts are huge, and the seats are decent too. (Wicked for £18.50!) I’m dying to see the Woman in Black, Lion King, Matilda and Chicago! hint hint)

Movebubble makes it super simple for those wanting to find a rental property. The app allows tenants and agents to chat 24/7, without the need to make loads of calls and send multiple emails. It also means you get responses outside of the usual office hours, (which is so convenient, especially when you want to spend your lunch hour enjoying the sun instead of being on hold to a letting agent for hours.) Simply search the area you're interested in, and it brings up loads of gorgeous furnished and unfurnished properties. The main things I was looking for was a big kitchen/dining room and lots of wardrobe space, and I got it!

You will have seen your fave fitness influencers (me included, duh) checking in at boujee fitness studios around London, but did you know a single class costs £20?! I know. £20 for a 45-minute boxing class. Insane. That’s where Class Pass comes in! They do amaaazing deals for first-timers. I paid £30 for 100 credits (each class varies from 5-14 credits depending on how popular it is) when I signed up, and the current offer is 30 credits FREE! Go go go!

What apps have you downloaded to help you survive in the city?

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The Best Hair Products for Blondes

Being blonde is hard work. If it’s not spending 3 hours getting a full head of highlights (and then having a small meltdown at the bill) it’s scouring beauty reviews online for the latest products, spending the evening with your head wrapped in a Tesco bag to keep your deep conditioning treatment on, or scrubbing purple shampoo off the bathroom walls. (Are you REALLY blonde unless you splatter your neon purple haircare up the walls every time you have a shower though?)

I’m naturally veerrrry dark brown, and as much as I miss having naturally thick, long hair, I love being blonde too much to go back. I’ve had it bleached so much over the last 4/5 years that I once went into a hair salon and the stylist took one look at my hair and asked ‘has it always been that thin?’ Safe to say I was MORTIFIED. And promptly left the salon in absolute shame. (Also, HOW RUDE?!) 

As it’s so damaged, I have had to ramp up my maintenance, which has meant I have tried and tested nearly every product in the book. (I call this ‘market research’ when my mum tries to bollock me for spending all my money on expensive products.) Like with make-up, and with new treatments coming out almost weekly, this is likely to change, but I will keep sharing my favourites as I find them!

Don’t be put off by the colour! It is VERY bright purple. I use this every two weeks or so as a toner to keep my colour looking fresh. It makes it soooooo soft afterwards as well- bonus!

Not had chance to get a salon appointment in a minute? (Or in my case, 6 months). This power couple removes any brassiness and those horrible yellow undertones and gives your colour a boost of freshness. Careful you don’t leave it on for TOO long though (I go with about 5 mins with shampoo, slightly longer with conditioner) or you will end up with lilac hair. Unless you want lilac hair, then leave it on as long as you like!

I have used this forever, and will probably continue to use it forever. I add one of two pumps to towel-dried hair and it brushes through like a dream. It really makes a difference when I don’t use this- it comes with me EVERYWHERE!

I use my GHD’s straighteners or my Cloud Nine Waving Wand on a daily basis, so having something to protect the ends is so important! A tiny bit of this goes a long way.

Amazing for when I cba to put my extensions in! This is perfect for adding body and texture without weighing it down.

Not pictured, but also v. good for blondies are Philip Kingsley Elasticizer (also comes with a delightful Coconut Breeze scent here), John Freida Sheer Blonde Brightening Shampoo and Conditioner, Tangle Teezers (life savers!) and the Dyson hairdryer. (The less heat you put on your hair the better- and this dries it in rapid time!)

What haircare products do you swear by?

Monday, 9 April 2018

Where to Get Lash Extensions in London and How Much Do They Cost?

If there was only ONE beauty product I could wear for the rest of my life, it would be eyelash extensions. Well, eyelash extensions or bronzer. (This bronzer, to be precise.) They just make me feel so much nicer, and my make-up routine takes a fraction of the time it used to. Well, my daytime routine does, I still enjoy trowelling it on at weekends.

I get asked so many times if I’m worried about damaging my natural lashes, how do I find out the best place to get them done, are they safe, am I worried that I’ll get addicted etc etc, so I wanted to share my tips to anyone who’s tempted to invest (and yes, it is an investment!) I’ll start with the easiest question: am I worried I’ll become addicted to them. No I’m not, because I already am. And I’m 100% ok with that! Now on to the rest…

Hybrid lashes- a mix of volume and classics

How do I know they won’t damage my natural eyelashes?
If you go to an accredited technician, they will have been trained to apply the lashes safely and professionally. The 1-1 method means each synthetic lash is bonded to each natural lash, so it will grow out naturally as your own eyelash does. You shouldn’t see or feel ANY clumping and they shouldn’t feel heavy (I can’t even feel mine at all, they’re weightless!) so if you feel any discomfort, get them removed, or go back to the salon to get them sorted. A standard set of classic extensions takes about 60-90 minutes, and volume takes around 90+ (depending on how full you want them) so if your appointment is taking any less time than this, question it.

Where do you get them done?
I get mine done by the lash queen herself, Shareen. (Check out her Instagram here, or Facebook page here.) If you are London local and can travel to Purley, then you need to book in. she’s won multiple awards, lives and breathes lashes, and always creates the exact look I want, so I wouldn’t trust anyone else with my lashes now! When you’re looking for a new tech, check out their work first. If they only have a handful of examples of their work, I would probably look elsewhere, and remember to see if they have an official training certificate and insurance.

How are they such a game-changer?
Where do I start?!?!?! I always get an extra 20 minutes in bed, I look half decent when I’m doing high intensity training in the gym (which is a HUGE benefit, especially in London because everyone is so beautiful and every gym studio is like a cult so I don’t wanna be the ugly newbie), and I don’t have to bother with sticking on false lashes every day like I used to. 

Can you still sleep/shower/wash your face properly?
No, I don’t shower for the whole 3 weeks I have them on until I get them infilled. *eye roll* Honestly, I get asked this so many times it baffles me. Yes, I shower every day, FYI, but I just take more care around my face. Instead of lathering up my wash with cleanser and washing it off with my hands, I use a my Magnitone MicroFibre Cleansing Cloth around my eyes. With regards to sleeping, try not to sleep directly on your face, at least for the first few nights as you will manipulate the lashes and they will look like a squashed spider. The more you get lash extensions, the more your body will adapt to sleeping in a position that won’t crush them.

How much do they cost?
This is completely dependant on your location, and experience of the technician you choose. In London I would say you’re looking at £80-£120 for volume, and £50-£70 up north.

If you could only have one beauty product or treatment for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Friday, 16 March 2018

What is the Perfect Work/Life Balance?

Is a perfect 50/50 work life balance even a thing?! I mean, I can only dream of getting up early, applying perfect make-up and *actually* brushing my hair, getting to work on time, having a productive day in the office, fitting in a gym session, writing my blog, having an active social life, tucking into some rolled oats topped with chia jam and homemade almond butter (or whatever else Instagram tells me I should be eating) cleanse, tone and moisturise, and THEN getting a full 8 hours sleep every night. But let’s face it. That NEVER happens.

Especially working in social media, I find it extremely difficult to switch off. I am ALWAYS on my phone. Scanning through my client social accounts, and my own, alternating between Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Facebook until my brain finally tells me I need to sleep. (But not until I’ve done that thing where you calculate how much sleep you can cram in before your alarm goes off if you fall asleep as soon as you close your eyes.)

This isn’t a post to tell you exactly how to get the perfect work/life balance, but I’m going to share some changes that I am actively going to make, to help me minimise stress (!!!!!!!!!) and enjoy both sides a little bit more.

  1. Switch off. Ok, so I’ve started with the toughest one, but I‘m going to limit checking my work phone to once or twice a day on weekends, and once in the evenings. And I’m going to TRY and limit checking my personal phone at LEAST 25%- see how well (or terribly) I do and try and increase it a little more as I go on. I DO NOT NEED TO CHEK INSTAGRAM RELIGIOUSLY. When I’m watching a film or something on Netflix- why do I need to check people’s stories? Why do I need to scroll through images I saw 5 seconds ago? I feel like I just do it out of habit, which is stupid really, especially because the stupid algorithm means I rarely even see my own friends posts anyway. So in reality I’m spending hours of my precious looking at strangers holiday photos. Brilliant.

  1. Be sensible. Lol at me using the word sensible by the way. I try so hard to limit drinking during the week, which is pretty hard when a lot of my working week social life revolves around going for dinner or drinks. I’m not going to lie- I LOVE a drink, but let’s be honest ‘one drink’ is never one drink. Fast forward 4 hours, it’s 1am, I’m absolutely para, and my alarm is due to go off in 6 hours. By itself it doesn’t sound too bad, but when I’m going to spend the whole day at my desk absolutely hanging and having the productivity level of roadkill, it ain’t good. Plus, it means as soon as the clock hits 5:30 I’m sprinting out the door to spend the evening in bed with a ready meal. Not. Good.

  1. Break away from my desk. Being a blogger, freelancing, and having a desk job means that from 9:30-5:30, I’m pretty much glued to my chair, and it can be pretty stifling especially when I’m a creative. Recently I’ve been using my lunch break to go for a walk (usually to the post office to return something to ASOS or Topshop but w/e) and it has helped massively! My mood, my energy, my creativity, everything. Would definitely recommend!

  1. Work out. Since coming back from Australia I haven’t been to the gym once. I could make up a thousand excuses as to why here, but I would be kidding myself- I’ve just been lazy. It’s one thing dragging yourself to the gym, but do you ever regret a workout? Never. And you always feel SO good afterwards. It also has a knock-on effect with my eating habits too- I always eat better when I’m working out. Ok that’s it I’m joining Monday.

  1. Group Chats. I am part of quite a few group chats with my friends, and 99% of the time they are absolutely going OFF. It’s sooo easy to get caught up in a chat and spend the rest of the day checking it to keep up with the goss/ losing my entire trail of thought. To get over this I don’t open my group chats at ALL. Until I finish work. When I first implemented this rule with myself I checked it at lunchtime and replied to any messaged then, but now I don’t even bother until I’m on my commute home, and I haven’t even missed it! (Soz pals- your chat is fire but gals got stuff to do)

  1. Plan my weekends. I never want to get stuck in the rut of being super sensible all week, and then getting to Sunday night and thinking ‘ugh what a boring weekend.’ So, I aaaaalways make sure I’ve got really good plans for the weekend. Yeah, I still have times where I just fancy a night in, but for me, a good weekend involves my friends, drinks, and usually some form of outrageous behaviour. Usually from me.

  1. Never settle. As you will know from my post about quitting my job, I am not a girl who settles! If you’re unhappy in your job- do something about it! You spend the majority of your time at work, so you have to do something you enjoy. I’m not saying I leap out of bed every morning when my alarm goes off absolutely buzzing to get to the office, but I enjoy my role, I love the industry and I LOVE my colleagues. Plus, you’re never going to get close to a decent work/life balance if you hate your job. 

How do you split your time between work and personal life? Share your tips with me on Twitter here!

Sunday, 11 March 2018

What The Hell Am I Doing With My Life?

I probably ask myself this question at LEAST once a day. And I travelled home solo from Australia on Monday, giving me a whole 28 hours to debate my current life choices and come to about 83289349 conclusions on whether what I was doing was 'right'.

In October I decided to quit my job and leave my home in West Yorkshire to move to London and pursue a career in beauty journalism. Although I felt like I was finally doing something I loved, in a city I loved (despite only visiting 3 times in my whole life) it was s-t-r-e-s-s-f-u-l, and almost every other day I would have the 'should I just move home?' deliberation with myself in my head. I had no money, I was living out of my suitcase, in a different house every 2 weeks, and I had a huge level of uncertainty with my job, but good things never come from comfort zones.

No makeup, no hairbrush, but the BIGGEST smile on my face at Glamour Beauty Fest
It's so easy to compare your life to other people, especially on Instagram. I'm a serial scroller- it's the first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing I do at night. And when my feed is constantly littered with lavish lifestyles and designer handbags, I want the same. (Is it possible to take a photo of your new nails without the Audi rings on the steering wheel behind them anymore?) And if I lived back home, it could be. All my friends are back home, all my family live there, I have my car, I would have so much more disposable income so I could finally buy that Gucci Marmont bag I've had my eye on for a whole year, and I could go on so many more holidays because if I lived with my parents again, I would have no rent to pay.

And it's not even materialistic things, my own friends and family heavily impact my thoughts on whether I'm doing the right thing. They have long-term boyfriends, some are engaged, some have mortgages and live together, and I have non of these things. You know when you can't sleep so you lie there, staring at the ceiling and overthinking everything? Sometimes I get jealous. I want a boyfriend who can be my +1 to events, instead of having to invite a girl friend. I want to go on cute citybreaks and leave a padlock on that bridge in Paris with our initials on. I want to come home from a looooong day to be greeted by a big bear hug from my boyfriend. But then I remind myself that I am not someone who settles. I enjoy dating! I don't want to settle for anyone just for the sake of being in a relationship. I don't want to live in Preston for the rest of my life. Even thought that's where all my family and friends live, I would much rather rent a property in London- a huge, exciting city where there is always something going on, new bars opening, events, people, than the same thing day in day out. I've been here for 3 months and I still feel like an international student but I love exploring it. Yeah of course I miss my friends and family, but they're only a Whatsapp message or a train ride away.

And finally, my career. Sometimes I wish I had an actual profession. Like, I wish I studied Dentistry or Engineering (no way I would study this but you know what I mean) just so I had an actual trade, as opposed to Journalism where there are so many routes in can go down, as opposed to one definite, guaranteed job at the end. But have I enjoyed my career so far? Absolutely. (Well, aside from my last job which you can read about here, but I'm going to erase that from my memory) I'm in an industry which combines networking, content creation, social media, beauty and events. I rarely have a boring day, and I'm ready to work my way up in an industry that suits me down to a tee. It's going to take a bit longer than my friends, but would you rather hate your job and earn an amazing salary, or love your job and not be doing too badly? To me, it's pretty obvious.

I've kind of lost track with this post, but the main thing I wanted to get across was that it's perfectly fine to have a 'wtf am I doing' moment, and completely change up your life plans if they aren't panning out how you expected. Stop comparing your life to others. Everyone has shit days, but my best way to get around this is to put on a hair mask, shave your legs (freshly shaved legs always make me feel like I've got my life together) and scroll through your OWN Instagram to remind yourself how much you are LIVING. And being happy is the most important thing.