Blogger Q+A: Working With PRs

Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Today's post is a little different, it's my first blogger Q&A post! If you haven't seen my tweets, it's a series I'm starting once a month where a group of randomly selected bloggers, who respond to my blogger Q&A tweets will answer questions on a monthly topic. If you want to join in next months Q&A and share your opinions/blog link then look out for my tweets (@ofbeautyand) - I will have a few polls on Twitter each month to choose a topic. The topic we are discussing for August is, working with brands/PRs. 

Question One: What brands/PRs have you loved working with?

Kathryn: Ah there's so many to choose from... I'd have to say the ones that stand out to me were Carex, Jewellery Box and Seventeen. The PRs who contacted me from those three brands were solovely, it made working with them a whole lot easier!

Kenzie: I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing PR agencies and brands a few favorite brands have to be Urban Decay and Boohoo. PR agency wise Imagination PR are a agency I have been lucky enough to work with for about 2 years now on a regular basis and the girls there are so so lovely.

Olivia: I LOVED working with boohoo. They’re a brand I have loved from a far for a long time so to work with them was amazing! Kolcha Gov Barba also invited to London Fashion Week which felt like a dream, their collection was to die for! 

Sarah: I absolutely loved working with Amber from CRR, she relocated PR jobs to a different company and still keeps in touch with new opportunites. Also SEVENTEEN have been amazing to work with- such friendly people and amazing goodies.

Clara: I have worked with a select few, including Sass & Belle, Gemporia and Morse Toad. All of these opportunities I have sought out myself.

Tori: I loved working with Tigi - their PR company were so friendly and quick to answer any questions that I had about the products.

Lottie: There are a number of brands and PR agencies I love working with. So long as they're suggesting products that would be right for my audience and are polite and friendly, I'm happy! 

Lyndsey: I've always loved working with The Body Shop. They've supported my blog from day one and we have had a great relationship since. I also have found since I announced my pregnancy, many parenting PR companies have been in touch and they are SO lovely. They are genuinely excited about my news and about the prospect of working together, which has been a lovely touch. I think for me, the relationship between the blogger and the PR/Brand is everything. 

Sarirah: I've enjoyed working with Kiehl's and Nourish Skincare. They are supportive and engage via social media which is always appreciated. They aren't ones to disregard someone based on the numbers game. One that stands out to me the most is the time I worked with Prestige Flowers. Communication was great and they thanked me for the post I wrote which I wholly appreciated. It's always nice when the effort you put into something is recognised. 

Question Two: Do you think sponsored posts are honest/interesting? Do you like reading them?

Kathryn: This is a tricky question. For me, I don't mind reading sponsored posts - as long as they deliver a blogger's honest opinion then I'm not bothered if a post is sponsored or not. I think you can pretty much see through the posts that are deemed as dishonest though, the enthusiasm is just never there.

Kenzie: I think it depends on the blog you're reading, I would like to hope most bloggers work on the same ethos as me. If it's not relevant or sometime you would normally write about then don't do it as a sponsored post. I think if you do it looses integrity for your blog and the relationship with your readers. If you produce authentic content then sponsored or not it to me wouldn't matter if the content was sponsored.

Olivia: I think some can be honest but a lot of people may lie or make the product sound amazing for the sake of looking good to PR teams. I personally have emailed a PR team and told them I didn’t like a product because I just can’t lie on my blog!

Sarah: Depending on the post, they can be great or boring, just like any other post. All bloggers I’ve spoken to hold honesty as something sacred and always disclaim (but then I guess I wouldn't know if they hadn’t). I love reading them if they’re related to their content already and feel you can really tell when someone’s heart isn’t in a post, sponsored or not.

Clara: I love seeing how creative bloggers can be with sponsored and PR posts, especially when they turn an idea completely on its head to accord with their blog! However, I tend to avoid pre generated posts or regurgitated content, as I feel no personal connection to the writer, it is just an advertisement for me.

Tori: I think we've got to trust bloggers with sponsored posts. There's nothing wrong with bloggers being paid for the time put into posts and I don't have a problem with that as long as it is disclosed. The best sponsored posts are where it's much more than just a rehash of a press release - I can always tell if that's been done and think it's a little lazy.

Lottie: I do enjoy reading sponsored content, so long as it's relevant to the themes of the blog and that it isn't an obvious / simple advert. I prefer it when bloggers tell more of a story and mention products or brands in their own way - I love reading content with personality. 

Lyndsey: I think with honesty, this all depends on the blogger. I believe that 9 times out of 10 a blogger will only write something they truly feel, but I'm sure there are cases where the blogger has just done the post for the money! Usually, you can see straight through these posts, they are pretty obvious! If I like and respect the blogger, I will enjoy their posts whether they are sponsored or not as I've put my trust in them. 

Sarirah: I've never judged a post based on it being sponsored. Content always has the potential to be interesting based on the topic and the spin that the blogger chooses to put on it. Granted, not every sponsored post out there will be genuine (or a good read) but the ones I've read have been enjoyable. If you're being paid to write something, chances are that a lot of effort and research has gone into it.

Question Three: Have you had any negative experiences while working with brands/PRs?

Kathryn: The only negative experience I've had really is a PR hounding me after I'd already replied. They sent me an email that was worded quite rudely so I simply replied asking them not to contact me again. They've since apologised and all's good in the hood!

Kenzie: I think I have been pretty lucky with not having any really negative experiences when writing review posts. When I started out I would review everything I was sent but although not to moan or sound pretentious I can no longer review everything I am sent and since explaining that to companies when they offer to send me products for review, the expectations are that while I will try to review I can't guarantee unless agreed. I think this allows them to make the choice and know where I stand and where they stand meaning the possibility of negativity is lessened by being honest and upfront.

Olivia:   I haven’t at all! All PR teams have been amazing with me and to date I haven’t had one bad experience! *touch wood!* As for a negative review I would also let the brand know first and let them decide if they would like to post to be published.

Sarah: No negative experiences yet, but of course almost every product has bad parts that as a blogger you have to be honest about. I find that even when I do include negative aspects of a product in a sponsored post, the brands/companies are always really pleased with the feedback. It works for them to sell their product and improve on it!

Clara: I have learned to be wary when collaborating for a sponsored post, as there are companies that like to pull tricks to avoid having to pay ie. changing their mind once the post is written, inventing new agreements. Be aware of any red flags or anything that doesn't seem right in communication. Only agree to a collaboration when it makes sense to you and is relevant to your blog and be aware of everything that is going on. 

Tori: I haven't had any negative experiences or not liked a product I've been sent. I think I've probably been lucky there. I'd rather not post at all than post a totally negative review - I would let the brand know that it wasn't suitable for my skin type and therefore I wouldn't be posting a 100% positive review.

Lottie: I do receive products I don't particularly like, and I usually share my feedback with the brand directly, and don't tend to feature them on my blog or social channels. To be honest, I like to read about each product I'm sent before accepting any gifting, as I feel it's pointless receiving products I'm not interested in. In terms of negative collaborations, yes - I've had a handful! This includes not making payments after an agreed sponsored post, or general rude emails! Luckily these are few and far between! 

Lyndsey: I have had a couple of occasions where I feel I need to write a negative review and I will always be honest about this. I've always spoken to the PR first to discuss options as keeping a good relationship with them is key, however honesty and credibility is so important too - it's a tricky balance. 
Usually I try and strike a middle ground, for example if I didn't like a skincare product I'd highlight why it didn't suit me and the downsides, but put a positive spin on it saying it could suit someone else because of x, y and z. 

Question Four: Do you think there is more comptetion to work with brands/PRs? 

Kathryn: I think there will always be competition in blogging, especially when it comes to working with brands. My advice would be to go ahead and contact brands yourself, make yourself known to PRs. Otherwise chances are they may never come across you!

Kenzie: There is huge amounts of bloggers around now than when I started out. I don't think there is any more competition though, if you blog for the right reasons brands will want to work with you. The amount of brands wanting to work with bloggers has grown hugely meaning more opportunities for more people who may not have got them before when blogging was really niche.

Olivia: Definitely!! I sometimes think it can all be about numbers, although I have approached brands myself with the low follow count I have and they still would like to work with me! I think if you put time and effort into your blog brands will appreciate this!

Sarah: I think there’s definitely some competition going on but believe that if you really want to enjoy blogging as a hobby, you can’t let competition/‘winning' be the only reason you’re doing it. Every blogger is different and we’re such a diverse bunch when you get to the nitty gritty so obviously brands approach bloggers for unique reasons, and the strength of the blogging community totally outweighs any competitiveness.

Clara: I think it is difficult to be noticed as a blogger in today's world so never be disheartened if you are rarely approached by brands, you are never alone! You are entirely individual, your blog is a beautiful, rare thing and never let PR opportunities define the worth of your little corner. Instead, take matters in to your own hands! Contact brands that are relevant to your blog and pitch them some of your awesome ideas. Alternatively, there are often forums on various sites where brands are searching for bloggers. 

Tori: I think that blogging becoming bigger has lead to blogging being recognised as a powerful voice in the industry. However, it's harder to get noticed in amongst all the blogs out there. I do find that there are brands out there keen to work with smaller bloggers but obviously brands also want their product to be seen by as big an audience as's a tough one.

Lottie: I think there is definitely more competition to work with brands as the blogosphere is constantly growing. But, each blog and blogger is different - differing topics, audiences and writing styles. I don't feel in competition with other bloggers at all. To be honest, I love the variety of blogs out there and as a whole it's a very friendly and welcoming community that I'm proud to be a part of. It's great being able to help each other out when need be and I love seeing bloggers collaborate together - that's definitely something I'd like to do more of. 

Lyndsey: I guess there must be, but I try not to worry about that or compare myself. I just work on my own little blog and take on my own projects. I'm happy with the amount of collaborations I receive, so I must be doing something right 

Sarirah: In short, yes. But there are also a lot more brands (big and small) who are open to working with bloggers now. With engagement and quality content being recognised (and not just numbers) the competition is definitely tough but the playing field is open to all. 

Kathryn at Chapters of Kat: Twitter - Blog
Kenzie at Lemonade Lies: Twitter - Blog 
Olivia at Olivia Cheryl: Twitter - Blog 
Sarah at Scarlet State: Twitter - Blog
Clara at Ice Cream and Clara: Twitter - Blog
Sarirah at Pretty Not Inc: Twitter - Blog
Tori at 30 Plus and Beautiful: Twitter - Blog
Lottie at Lottie Pearce: Twitter - Blog
Lyndsey at Fizzy Peaches: Twitter - Blog

Make sure you check out of blogs and social media of the lovely bloggers who have taken part in my first blogger Q&A post! If you want to join in next months Q&A post *the topic will be blogging in Autumn I think* then tweet or email me! 

Feel free to answer the questions in the comments below! Do you think this Blogger Q&A series should continue? 

London + Harry Potter Studio Tour

Monday, August 29, 2016
London + Harry Potter Studio Tour
Yesterday we came back from a quite arduous and infuriating two day trip to London and the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour trip with National Holidays; there were SO many problems that we would never go on another National Holidays trip again and all of the other passengers agreed. The coach was overbooked so we had a delay, we only had 90 minutes in London after an 8 hour journey to get there, the air-con broke so we had to be in a coach that was at least 35 degrees celsius for over an hour to the hotel, we weren't booked into the hotel until the last minute and the journey back was about 6 hours *we spent so much more time in service stations than in London!* so it's safe to say that we are exhausted.

We didn't really get to see anything in London because 90 minutes isn't enough time to travel to the major sites, never mind going in anywhere so we spent the time walking around and in Hyde Park. It was SO hot in London, I think I actually melted. Now get ready for so much Harry Potter!
London + Harry Potter Studio Tour
The Great Hall
We hadn't been to the Harry Potter Studio Tour before so we didn't really know what to expect and the first thing to expect, if you've going, is queues. Be prepared to queue for a while and also be prepared to have your bag searched and the detector thing waved around you - I know they have to do this but it does make you feel like they think you might be a criminal...

There's a little cinema style introduction and then the doors to the great hall are revealed, which is such a 'OMG WE ARE IN HOGWARTS' kind of moment. The great hall is amazing, but not as big as I thought it would be and there are costumes of the teachers including Dumbledore *cries*. Then you get into a series of large warehouse style areas with SO many props, costumes, sets and more!
London + Harry Potter Studio Tour
Potions and Hagrid's Hut
All of the sets were amazing, as were the props - they even had one of the prop makers there making items! I loved Hagrid's hut, the dormitory and potions classroom! There's SO much to see everywhere, it's like an Aladins cave of Harry Potter treasures. The tour was three hours long but you could easily spend so much more time there. When I say tour, I mean mini tour as they don't follow you around in a group and explain anything, the tour guides are only there for the very first part.
London + Harry Potter Studio Tour
Platform 9 3?4 and The Hogwarts Express
Then we saw the Hogwarts Express! This was another 'OMG, I want to be a Hogwarts student' moment! You can walk on the train which was amazing and on the other side of the room was a section of train seats where you can sit and you are filmed/photographed which was so funny and a little embarrassing but we did get a photo (it was £14 for one photo...). There is a gift shop here which had a gorgeous cushion in that I wanted but I wanted to wait until the massive gift shop at the end but they didn't have the cushion *cries*.
London + Harry Potter Studio Tour
Chess pieces, Hogwarts bridge and Privet Drive
This tour was full of 'OMG' moments as I've said already and going inside No.4 Privet Drive was another! We actually walked through, it was just downstairs, the staircase and one room with so many Hogwarts letters everywhere but it was really surreal. This is the only part of the tour that was outside; there were chess pieces, the Knight Bus and the Hogwarts bridge outside too which we walked along. There is also the Backlot cafe here too as well as the butterbeer area but we didn't get anything apart from drinks/snacks as it was a little expensive as were all of the shops.
London + Harry Potter Studio Tour
Diagon Alley and Creature Props
When you go back inside you are immediately faced with all of the goblin masks, it's a little shocking and creepy! There are so many animal and creature props, I can't imagine how long it would have taken to make them all. You then proceed to Diagon Alley which is one of my favourite scenes/sets of the films and the tour. It is cobbled so if you have heels or can't walk on uneven ground then it may be a minor issue.
London + Harry Potter Studio Tour
Hogwarts Model
Towards the end of the tour you see this amazing huge model of Hogwarts, it looks so incredible and detailed! We took so many photos on the tour, I ran out of room on my phone and had to delete old photos and videos! Then there's the gift's bloody massive and really bloody expensive on the whole. I bought a chocolate frog which was around £8.95 and a t-shirt which was £21.95 so it's not cheap.

Tips and advice for visiting:

  • Take a power bank or extra batteries with you; I took my power bank as half way through the tour my battery was at 20%!
  • Take your own snacks as the snacks and drinks there can be a little pricey 
  • Be aware that they do search everyones bag so anything you don't want them to see *receipts from two months ago, sticky chocolate bar wrappers, pads/tampons* maybe keep them in your suitcase or hidden
  • Also be prepared to queue and maybe take an umbrella for the outside section 
  • Make sure you have LOTS of memory space on your phone or camera, you'll need it!
  • If you want souvenirs, bring lots of money; the only items that weren't expensive were the sugar lollies and magnets but other jumpers and hoodies were £50-£70...

Overall, I would never go with National Holidays again but I would love to visit London some time soon. The Harry Potter tour was amazing, the props, sets, costumes and everything in between was breathtaking for a Harry Potter fan - even some of the children going to visit had Hogwarts uniforms on *how adorable!*. 

If you were following me on Instagram then you will have seen my videos and photos as I went around the tour. If you have any questions about the tour, National Holidays or anything else, just tweet me (@ofbeautyand). I'll have more photos on my instagram account if you want to check them out. 

Have you been to the Harry Potter London tour? Are you a Harry Potter fan? Have you been on a family trip with National Holidays? 

Book Review: How Not To Disappear

Saturday, August 27, 2016
Book Review: How Not To Disappear

I've been loving reading this year, compared to last year when I only read about 6/7 books and this is my 42nd book; I was very kindly sent *How Not To Disappear by Clare Furniss (£3.38, SALE, paperback) from the lovely people at Simon and Schuster. The book was published last month, it's 416 pages and it's within the YA, young adult, genre. 

I haven't read anything like it before, it is not the kind of book are usually go for but that is one of the reasons why I wanted to try it! The story follows Hattie, her family and friends as well as a long lost relative, who has a lot of secrets! If you like books involving relationships and family mysteries then definitely pick this one up but be warned that it is not a happy book – it is one of the most melancholy and at times upsetting books I've read recently. The book deals with a lot of important but difficult and potentially triggering topics such as rape, domestic abuse, racism, dysfunctional families, adoption, dementia and more so if any of those topics might be upsetting or triggering to you then maybe this isn't the book for you.

I love writing style, it was such an easy and quick read although when I say easy, I mean easy to read as some parts of the book were so upsetting and I can't imagine myself in some of the characters situations. I managed to finish the book quite quickly although I did have to have a break for a few days while travelling to London and the Harry Potter tour which turned out to be a bit of an ordeal – blog post coming soon!

I loved Gloria, she is such a vivid, interesting and entertaining character – she was my favourite character from the book as well as Hattie! I love the relationship between Gloria and Hattie and it was interesting to watch that relationship develop. The journey they take, the stories, secrets told and memories relived are at times funny, melancholy, relatable, upsetting and shocking and it's an emotional journey for the reader as well and it did make me quite upset especially regarding Gloria's memories of her youth but it's a journey I'm glad I was able to take with Gloria and Hattie. My only problems with the book was a couple of the characters were a bit annoying such as Reuben and Kat as well as the mum sometimes. Additionally I think the cover/blurb doesn't explain how triggering the book could potentially be although that would take away some of mystery and shock factor I guess. Lastly I think it was a little repetitive in places but that might be the authors way of making the reader feel as people with dementia, and those who care for them, could feel.

Overall, I think it's a great read that involves a lot of important topics such as mental health, teenage pregnancy, relationships, whether supportive and loving or dysfunction and abusive which I think are not very present or as raw as they are in this book compared to other YA books. I won't be re-reading as I'm not really one for emotional books but I loved the ending and the rays of friendship, love, hope and the endearing spirit of the gloriously fabulous Gloria throughout the book. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

Have you read this book? What are you currently reading? 

Drugstore Lipstick Collection + Swatches #2

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Here is the second part of my drugstore/cheaper lipstick collection - you can check out the first part, here. I never knew I had SO many lipsticks, I may have a problem *don't send help*. Todays post features some niche brands and a few slightly pricier lipsticks. Brands included as Avon, Essence, Duwop, Dainty Doll, Makeup Revolution, Sleek and more. 

My favourite shades: Avon Rose Creme, Kate Moss for Rimmel 19, Makeup Revolution Fusion and Dainty Doll Storm in a Teacup. Most of the shades would be great for spring; I didn't know I had so many pinks! Some of the shades aren't applied as well as I would like but  I did swatch over approx. 60 lipsticks on my lips within two days!

Makeup Revolution make fantastic lipsticks for the price so if you don't know if a colour will suit you then you won't be breaking the bank - they have great shades for fancy dress/halloween too. 

Do you have any of the lipsticks I've swatched? How many lip products do you have?

Dr Botanicals Moroccan Rose Facial Oil

Monday, August 22, 2016
Dr Botanicals Moroccan Rose Facial Oil
Before I started blogging I had no idea about skincare, how important it is and how many products there are! Growing up, I had the cleanser and moisturiser from the Boots own cucumber range which I loved and when I was about fifteen my auntie bought me a Liz Earle set and since then I've been hooked. One lesson blogging has taught me is the important of a consistent skincare routine and how amazing serums and facial oils can be.

I was kindly sent the *Dr Botanicals Moroccan Rose Superfood Facial Oil (£66.72, 30ml) to test out and I'm loving it. Dr Botanicals products are vegan certified and 100% of the ingredients are natural. The facial oil contains Vitamin C, Vitamin A and almond oil.

First up, I just want to say how gorgeous the packaging is! I love the pipette dispenser and the packaging design; the scent of the facial oil is also gorgeous. To me the facial oil smells like rose water and turkish delight; the oil has a pink tint to it as well.

I've tried a few facial oils and I love them, this one is a little different, not just because it's a pink colour which somehow makes it nicer to use but it is also absorbs almost the instant it touches the skin - it makes it a little less pampering to use in my opinion but the oil leaves my skin smooth and moisturised without a greasy residue. I do have sensitive skin and this oil didn't irritate my skin but I don't use it on the most sensitive areas anyway. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4/5.

Have you tried anything from Dr Botanicals? Do you have a favourite facial oil? 

My Experience of Learning to Drive #1

Sunday, August 21, 2016
My Experience of Learning to Drive
Images from Pinterest
I have always hated public transport, especially buses which to me are diseased unsafe boxes, so I've always wanted to learn how to drive so I didn't have to get on any more buses! My parents can both drive and they have always ferried myself and my sister around, they make it look so easy but I didn't understand just how incredibly difficult, stressful and tiring it would be until I started. With hindsight I should have started to learn sooner but it wasn't a main priority while in university.

I started practicing with my dad before christmas and we used to go once a week for about an hour so I'd get 20-30 of driving each time. We went to an open, although small, waste ground that we had permission to use and I started learning to drive with my dad (it was off road with bumps, trash, gravel and more obstacles that probably wasn't great to start learning on). With my dad in his tiny Renaunt Clio, I learnt how to find the biting point, clutch control, hill starts, reversing, parking and more so I did have a fair amount of knowledge before I started lessons although if you practice before lessons then keep in mind that it is quite different on the road and the instructors car will have different controls/biting point. I should probably say by now that I'm learning to drive a manual car which is the norm in the UK. I think the practise I had with my dad was invaluable as it got me used to the basic controls and just HOW to drive as well as some knowledge of the internal workings of the car but it's very different on the road with an instructor.

Driving Theory Test 
I didn't know I had to take my driving theory test before lessons so I had to push back lessons further than I wanted. I booked my driving theory test online for a small test centre near me and as with everything in life, I was so nervous as it is the fear of the unexpected and anticipation that I hate! But I had nothing to worry about, it was such an easy test, I passed first time. It's a multiple choice test on a computer; the video section for hazards was a little more difficult but it's nothing to worry about.

Finding an instructor, prices & options 
I was so nervous even just texting a driving instructor, never mind starting lessons. My friend Yasmin went with a local driving instructor and she said how amazing he was and that he could do a more intensive course for me as he did with her. I had to wait for about 3-4 weeks before I started my lessons as his schedule was full so the sooner you contact an instructor the better as you may have to wait for a while!

I paid a total of £725 for my lessons, including my practical test, which may seem like a LOT of money but it actually worked out pretty well considering the average rate for 35 hours of driving lessons. I chose a more intensive course which included eight days of lessons totalling 35 hours. I think 35-45 is the average number of hours. I'm really glad I chose the instructor that I did, even though it was a risk as I hadn't met him before but one of my best friends recommended him so I took a chance. I think personal recommendations are the best way to find an instructor but that's just my opinion.

Before I started my lessons, I was freaking out and dreading them as I kept thinking: "what if I crash" or "what if I ruined his car" or "what if I can't drive" and worst of all "what if I let the instructor and my dad down". From the first lesson I was almost instantly relieved, my instructor was so nice and they obviously have dual control of the car so you won't crash! One thing I didn't want to do on my first lesson was go around roundabouts but I had to do that about ten times (or more) on my first lesson and I also drove home - about 15/20 minutes away which I didn't expect! I feel as though I was kind of thrown in at the deep end and I don't know if that is just because my course was quite intensive or because he thought I had a relatively good control of the car from the first lesson.

My lessons ranged from 3 hours to 5 1/2 hours and let me tell you, it was so tiring and not just mentally as you do have to focus so much when driving but also physically. I am teeny tiny and even with my chair pushed forward, I still had to push myself into the clutch - thank god for the Mio Liquid Yoga which is amazing for aching muscles. I completely underestimated how physically tiring learning to drive would be but don't let that put you off as it does get easier!

After the first four or five lessons I was feeling so much more comfortable with the car and with driving on the roads although some other road users (especially van drivers) seem to have forgotten how incredibly stressful it is for a learner as they just cut in front of you, driving so close behind you and overtake in dangerous places so be wary of other drivers but as my driving instructor says - look after number one (aka. look after yourself and don't let other drivers bully you into driving dangerously!).

That was part one of my learning to drive posts, I hope it was interesting or useful to some of you!If you want to find out about more regarding booking lessons, tips and more then check out Book Learn Pass.

Can you drive? How was your experience of learning to drive? If you can't drive, do you want to learn? 

Yes Style Korean Beauty Box

Friday, August 19, 2016
Yes Style Korean Beauty Box
I have wanted to try Asian makeup and skincare for so long, especially since the queen of makeup, Lisa Eldridge, always raves about Asian makeup. One brand that always intrigues me is Etude House so when the opportunity came up to test about some Korean makeup and skincare, I was so excited!

I received an adorable box of goodies from the lovely people at Yes Style to review. The box contained four skincare products and six makeup items from brands such as Laneige, Beauty people, Tosowoong, Berrisom, Tony Moly and Etude House, I was super excited about the latter two brands.

The first product I wanted to try is something I haven't used since high school, nose strips! I have the *Tosowoong Black Head Nose Pack (£1.90). The first thing I notice about Asian beauty products, especially compared to western products, is that the packaging is always so cute or colourful. I've tried the strips a couple of times and they do work well but I don't have a big problem with black heads.

There are some Asian beauty products that don't really have a western equivalent such as this next product which is a lip mask...the *Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask (£16.05). My lips are always so dry so a lip mask sounds amazing. It comes in a  gorgeous tub with a spatula; it applies like a thick glossy lip balm and it leaves my lips so smooth, soft and moisturised - love it!
Yes Style Korean Beauty Box
I haven't had a chance to try the last two skincare items yet, including the *Tony Moly Rice Sheet Mask (£2.76) and the *Etude House Collagen Eye Patches (£2.76), both look interesting and I can't wait to try them! Now onto the makeup, I received so many products!

First up, the *Etude House Precious Mineral BB Cream (£9.41, Light Beige) which is nothing like the western BB creams I've tried! This BB cream actually has decent coverage, more like a foundation than a tinted moisturiser, which isn't the case with western BB creams that offer no coverage. It has a skin like finish, light/medium coverage and it doesn't highlight dryness. I LOVE it, it's the best BB cream I've ever tried and the shade match is perfect for my ghostly pale skin.

I have two blush products and even though I don't usually wear blush, I do like these, especially the *MacQueen Cushion Lip and Cheek Tint in No.01 (£5.61) which is a gorgeous blue toned mauve; it is perfect for the summer to autumn transitional season. I prefer it as a blush shade to a lip shade, it blends seamlessly and I adore the packaging. The second blush also has gorgeous packaging and it is the *Berrisom Oops! Tint Cheek Cushion (£8.46, 02 Cream Peach) which has such an unusual but effective applicator - it has a sponge applicator which is so quick and easy to use. The shade is perfect for summer!

The last product I used in my video tutorial below, is the *Beauty People Gel Eyeliner Pencil (£5.90, Diamond Burgundy) which is the perfect autumn/winter shade (I'm very excited about autumn being so close!). The liner is creamy, easy to blend and it doesn't need sharpening.

The two makeup items I didn't use in my video were the *Berrisom My Lip Tint Pack (£4.13, 07 Vivid Scarlet) which is such a beautiful bright red shade but sadly it's so sticky and difficult to apply so I'm going to try it again as the longevity of the tint is amazing. Finally, the *Etude House Color My Brows (£7.90, Light Brown 02) and the only reason I didn't use it is because the shade is comptlely different to my brows - it would be perfect if you have strawberry blonde or ginger hair though.
Overall, I'm so happy with the vast majority of the products I was sent and I can't wait to try more! I adore the lip mask, BB cream, liner, blushers and pore strips! The only product I didn't really like was the My Lip Tint Pack. I'm really grateful to be able to have tried so many amazing products that I probably wouldn't have tried otherwise. Overall rating: ★★★★★, 5/5!

Have you tried any Korean makeup or skincare? Have you bought from Yes Style? 

Confessions of a blogger

Thursday, August 18, 2016
Heather Nixon -
This is a watercolour image made by myself, please don't copy/save!

I have been a blogger since 2012, at the time I didn't know how much it would affect my life, what it would lead to or what it would entail but I am so glad I have stuck with it for over four years and I am so grateful to be part of this amazing, supportive online community. However, among the countless positives to blogging, there are some drawbacks and unusual things related to being a are my blogger confessions. 

1. I don't own a marble table, faux marble table cover or a marble pot...I don't own anything made from genuine marble *hangs head in shame*

2. I can't use any product until I have taken 100 photos of it.

3. Blogger enabled or blog related purchases are not good for my bank balance and happen often. 

4. Comparing my blog to other blogs is torture!

5. Spam emails. So much spam. 

6. Hoarding empty products, keeping products in various boxes to photograph or review and having blog photo props are all 'normal'...

7. Non-bloggers(aka. muggles) who don't understand what blogging is or just how much time/work it takes. Just no. 

8. DA. PA. Bloglovin followers. Twitter analytics. Bounce rate. GFC followers. ALL THE NUMBERS. 

9. The horror of ugly packaging or bad lighting ruining photos! Damn you English weather. 

10. Having ten or more lipsticks which are almost identical but I find reasons to keep them has slight shimmer, one could be good for dupe post, one smells nice and so on. 

11. "You're chatting on Twitter with other people you've met online"...I know it sounds dubious but it's just a blogger chat on twitter - that explanation is usually met with confused looks. 

12. All the neutral eyeshadows palettes shall be mine. My precious. 

13. Going for a day out somewhere just to take pretty OOTD photos. 

14. Wanting to buy all the stationery, homeware from H&M and rose gold everything. "It's for my blog". Justified. 

15. Worrying about someone stealing my photos which has happened once before - my lips were on a sellers listing on Portuguese eBay! 

Leave your 'blogger confessions' in the comments below!

*Discussion: Dreams

Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Discussion: Dreams
Image from Pinterest
Today's post is a little different to my recent posts is it's a mixture of nostalgia, psychology and a discussion on dreams. If you didn't know, I have a First Class BSc Hons degree in psychology from the University of Huddersfield; we didn't go into depth about dreams but I have always found it an interesting topic, both within academia and generally. This is a collaborative post.

Freud developed theories regarding dreams and the unconscious which while in university we did cover because Freud is such an influential and famous figure within psychology but I personally don't agree with most of his theories - how can you take someones theories seriously when they take cocaine for a large part of their life! However, dream interpretation has been such a discussed topic and as we know so little about the brain and how/why dreams are created or needed, there are so many theories and possible explanations.

I personally think that dreams are related to memories, things we've seen and done and thoughts but there are so many ideas out there. I don't dream as much as an adult as I did when I was a child and as a teenager. As a child the dreams I remember the most are the scary or weird ones, I had one reoccurring dream where a witch came into our house while everyone was sleeping and I tried *and succeeded* to get her our of the house with my you do.

Also while I was a teenager in high school and into sixth form I had a reoccurring dream where I was chased through my high school at night by a Jack the ripper type person which was scary. I probably had those dreams because we had to learn about all of the gory details of the Jack the ripper murders in high school or maybe it means I am running away from my responsibilities or fears...

I don't dream as much now and when I do, I usually forget them so quickly and I also have a lot of trouble getting to sleep; it can take me hours to finally get to sleep - whereas my dad on the other hand can fall asleep standing up, I need to get him one of those reclining chairs, he'd love that! I think my inability to get to sleep properly is partly because of all of the technology around me. I constantly want to check my phone at night and I usually watch Youtube or scroll endlessly through social media platforms in bed which isn't a good habit to have.

The #DreamsExplained video is now live!

Do you have reoccurring dreams? Are you a night owl like me and use your phone constantly? 

International Birthday Giveaway

Monday, August 15, 2016
It's my birthday today *cries* and I'm officially the grand old age of 24! Where did the time go, I feel like I should still be in university - I'm not ready to fully adult yet. I've been shopping today in Manchester (and melting in the sun) now I'm all shopped out!

Today's post is a little birthday giveaway including: Suck UK Origiami Notes and the Guerlain Terracotta Bronzer in the shade 03. The giveaway is open internationally and the winner will be announced on the 1st September! To enter just fill in the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rokit Vintage Autumn Wish List

Saturday, August 13, 2016
Rokit Vintage Autumn Wish List
Autumn is nearly here, ok, it starts next month but I'm still so excited! Autumn is my favourite season, here are some of the reasons: pumpkin everything, layering, soft blankets, crisp leaves, halloween, chilly morning air, hot chocolate, candles and the prospect of the cosiness of christmas. I also love buying clothes in Autumn/Winter because I can wear so many layers, soft and cosy jumpers and's not a good time for my bank balance!

Here's my Autumn clothing and accessories wish list featuring items from the amazing vintage store and website, Rokit:

Ralph Lauren Stripy Tee  -  Michael Kors Red Coat  -  Fossil Bag  -  American Sweatshirt  -  Burberry Wool Grey Scarf  -  Blue Check Flannel Shirt  -  Bailey of Hollywood Blue Hat 

I have wanted an American style vintage sweatshirt for SO long and I am really tempted to buy this one! Rokit have an amazing range of vintage clothing, accessories and shoes for men, women and children. They also have an incredible range of designer items from Ralph Lauren, Burberry, Kate Spade, Jaeger, Dior, Coach, Dolce & Gabbana and many more.

What do you think of my wish list? Have you bought anything from Rokit? 

Dill + Garlic Butter Tear + Share Bread ft. Savisto

Friday, August 12, 2016
Dill + Garlic Butter Tear + Share Bread ft. Savisto
I love love love baking, it's such a relaxing and calming thing for me and you get yummy bakes at the end *unless everything goes wrong, which can happen sometimes*. I've published a few baking related posts on both of my blogs, my most recent was my review of some gorgeous pieces from NuCasa which you can check out but I also recently received an amazing value stand mixer from Savisto.

I was so excited when the *Savisto Stand Mixer (£95.99) arrived and I've already used it a few times to make gingerbread biscuits and bread. The mixer comes in red too but the black goes with our kitchen decor more than red. It comes with three attachments - a dough hook which I use for this recipe, a whisk and a beater. The mixer has a 5.5 litre capacity bowl, it has a maximum 1260w motor and six speed settings although I've only gone up to speed 3 so far.

The mixer is plastic so it's relatively light weight especially compared to our KitchenAid mixer, it has a sleek and expensive looking design and it is so quick and easy to use. The attachments are easy to attach which isn't usually the case with the KitchenAid attachments, it's all very easy to hand wash and even though it is a little nosy, it isn't much more so than the KitchenAid. It has suction pads on the base which is really useful to keep the machine in place because when it has to work hard kneading bread dough then it can move a little. I love the mixer, I think it works so well and it's amazing value! My only little problem which it would be the lock to lift the top half of the mixer - it seems to be on a spring and it can just sprung up quickly, if that makes sense so you have to gently hold the top to release it but other than that it's amazing!
Dill + Garlic Butter Tear + Share Bread ft. Savisto
I have used the mixer for gingerbread dough and it worked perfectly, just as well as our cream KitchenAid and I have also used it for bread dough. Today's recipe is for dill and garlic butter tear and share bread which I adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe - you can find the original, here. Here is my version which is suitable for vegetarians and you could make it vegan friendly by using margarine or olive oil/sunflower spread instead of butter.
  • 400g of strong white bread flour 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 7g of dry active yeast
  • 250ml warm water 
  • 1 tablespoon of butter 
  • 3/4 cloves of garlic 
Step One: Add the flour, salt and yeast to your mixing bowl or stand mixer. Make a well in the centre and add a little of the water and mix. I then used the dough hook on my Savisto stand mixer to start to combine the ingredients while I slowly added the water. Mix until it forms a ball of dough and kneed for another five minutes until it is smooth and springy. I used the mixer to do most of the kneading on speed 2, anything more than speed 2 and it will be a bit too much for the dough and mixer. 

Step Two: Place the bowl and dough in a warm place to prove/rise for an hour or until double in size. I put the Savisto bowl into my washing up bowl filled with hot water and a tea towel over the top to help the yeast. 

Step Three: While the dough is rising, lightly coat a oven safe tin with butter or margarine to stop the dough from sticking. I used a square 8 inch by 8 inch tin and I managed to get nine small rolls in it which was perfect. After one hour, place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into approx. 60g balls and place in your tin. 

Step Four: Grate or very finely slice three or four cloves of fresh garlic and combine in a small bowl with approx. one tablespoon of butter - I used the Stork baking butter. You can add salt or lemon rind to your garlic butter if you want, I'd definitely recommend adding a little more salt at this stage. Brush a small amount onto the dough and leave in a warm place to prove/rise again for at least another hour (up to an hour and a half if you have time). 

Step Five: After the second prove, pre-heat your oven to approx. 180 (for fan ovens) and bake in the tin for 30 minutes. Half way through the bake, remove the tin and brush more of the garlic butter onto the bread for a shiny finish. The bread should be a light golden brown after 30 minutes; remove from the oven and top with fresh dill or any other fresh herb of your choice. 

I'm really happy with the way the bread turned out, the tear and share size is perfect and they taste so nice! The dough is fluffy and soft and the garlic butter makes it amazing. Using the stand mixer makes baking so much quicker, easier and there is less mess to clean up too. Next time, I will probably add some garlic power and dried herbs to the actual dough for extra deliciousness! I think the mixer is a great value alternative to a KitchenAid mixer. Overall rating: ★★★★☆, 4.5/5. 

Have you tried making bread? What do you think of this stand mixer? Will you be trying this recipe? 

Drugstore Lipstick Collection + Swatches #1

Thursday, August 11, 2016
Phew, my lips are so sore and stained now! Here are half of the drugstore/cheaper lipsticks I own, the second part should be live soon. I didn't realise how many lipsticks I had...I have lipsticks from Revlon, ELF, Makeup Revolution, Essence, Kiko, Yves Rocher and more! I hope the swatches are useful!

My favourite shades are: Milani Nude Creme, Revlon Lip Butter Pink Truffle, Essence 06 and 07 and the My Little Box lipstick (no shade name). I love the formula of the Revlon, Rimmel, Essence and Kiko lipsticks I've tried and I would definitely recommend them.

For more information on the Makeup Revolution Atomic Lipsticks, click here. You can check out my reviews of the Kiko lipsticks, here.

Do you have any of the lipsticks I've swatched? How many lipsticks do you have?