Illamasqua & The Anti-Fascism Pledge

I’ve recently discovered that Illamasqua have an anti-fascism pledge (you can read it here), so it seems like a great time to a) talk about Illamasqua and write a review of their Demise eyeshadow palette, and b) assert my stance, with them, as firmly anti-fascist and utterly anti-Trump, his supporters, and everything they stand for.

As per Illamasqua’s pledge, I never knowingly or intentionally discriminate against race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation or religion; and I add in the qualifiers “knowingly” and “intentionally” only because of phenomena like internalised misogyny and internalised racism that I am doing my best to unlearn. I recognise the privilege I have as a white woman as far as possible, and I do what I can to educate myself about all of these issues. I’m not perfect – nobody is – but we all have to start somewhere, and I really believe that, especially during this awful Trump-era we’re living in, it’s so important for us to learn how best we can help the many marginalised groups that his rise to power is hurting.

So, with the heavy stuff out of the way, and with renewed respect for a brand I already thought was pretty cool: let’s talk about the Illamasqua Demise eyeshadow palette!

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Illamasqua is 100% cruelty free, and has a wealth of vegan products available, though Demise doesn’t seem to be listed as one of them.

I got this lovely little palette for £10.20 during a massive sale Illamasqua were having in January. At full price it will cost you £34, and it’s worth it for the beautiful, blendable shadows, but it’s also a little more than I could have afforded so soon after Christmas, so I’m glad I managed to scoop it up in the sale.

The shade that first attracted me to the palette, as I’m sure it has so many others, is the red-gold: Wilt. It has much more pink in it than shows up on the photo – it could be described as a more sparkly version of Urban Decay’s Fireball, except for the formula: while the other three shades are powder, Wilt is cream. I actually use the shade a lot less than I thought I would for this reason, as I find the cream quite hard to work with, but where the cream shadow maybe lets the palette down a little, the other three more than pick up the slack.

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Gimp, the dark blue shade, is so pigmented that adding even a tiny smudge to darken a look can go very wrong if you’re not extremely light-handed – trust me, I learned this the hard way! It’s also a retired shade that Illamasqua has brought back, as part of this palette, by popular demand – in the aptly named Extinct collection, to which the palette belongs.

Lost, the light shade, looks like a creamy off-white in the pan, but is actually a beautiful shimmering white gold and an excellent highlighter.

And Interitus, the burgundy, is not dissimilar to Urban Decay’s new single shadow, Relish (which I love), and theBalm’s Matt Kumar, from the Meet Matte Trimony palette – in short, a popular shade at the moment, and just as blendable and as full of pigment as the other two powder shadows in the palette.

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The four shadows are housed in a nice sturdy case, and it’s not much larger than palm-sized, so it’s excellent for travelling with. And although I ultimately decided against taking it to Spain with me when we went last month, that was more to do with my own anxiety about something happening to it than anything else!

I’m glad that I bought this palette, and I look forward to getting good use out of it. I may not have bought it when I did if not for the fact that it was on sale, but I’m pretty confident that it would have sneaked its way into my collection somehow.

And considering the solidarity that Illamasqua is showing with those who need it most, considering the respect that they have earned from me and from many others with this act, not to mention the hope I’m sure they’ve instilled in those minorities who are feeling Trump’s rise to power and its attendant horrors most keenly right now, I hope that many more products do.

Meet My Cat!

This is Juniper, my lovely kitten-who’s-not-a-kitten, the 5 year old rescue cat my boyfriend and I adopted just before Christmas and, true to form, the minute I started typing this she hopped up on to my keyboard and whacked out “pThis is Juniper, my lovely t5rrr9*|£$+++++++1+*1” with those nimble little toe beans.

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It’s a pretty common occurrence.

I’ve wanted a cat for my whole life, and Juniper is everything I could have hoped for. She’s friendly, inquisitive, so affectionate, and when my alarm goes off in the morning, she sprints to my side to jump up on the bed and nuzzle my face, all the while purring like a fluffy little pneumatic drill. It’s just an added bonus that she’s tiny for her age, perpetually kitten-like, and so cute I can hardly bear it.

When I first introduced the idea that we were going to adopt a cat on other platforms, I had some people tell me that I shouldn’t, some concerned about how my mental health would affect my being able to care for a pet, some just downright rude about it; but they were all wrong. My head has been, and continues to be, difficult for me, but having Juniper is an unending source of joy, and one that purrs when I kiss its soft little head.

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She loves being kissed – honest.

Has this just been a little love letter to my cat? Yep. Am I sorry for it? Nope.

My own personal Devil’s Snare

So, I’ve been away for a while. It wasn’t necessarily planned, although in the last post I made before the semi-intentional hiatus I did mention that I might not be available whilst our living situation was unsettled.

We left our flat more than a month ago, and it’s been a tough month. We have a cosy spot in my old bedroom at home, but it’s been difficult to adjust – to adjust to less of our own space, to adjust to living with parents again, to adjust to new routines and new rules and lots of new uncertainty, as our stay here was until recently without an end date.

I have never dealt well with this kind of limbo, in any context. I try to be as open as possible about my mental health, and in the last few weeks it has been rocky, as things like uncertainty and change and disruption are not good bedfellows for anxiety disorders and depression. And this, in addition to some other outside factors, has meant that I’ve been having to grapple quite tumultuously with my head almost every day.

It doesn’t necessarily manifest how you might think it should, if you don’t know much about it (‘it’ I suppose here meaning ‘mental ill-health’ or ‘the single entity arranged inside my head comprised of Generalised Anxiety Disorder, moderate clinical depression, and the various lovechildren they spawn when up against adversity’).

I don’t often sleep well, and mental health disorders are by their nature exhausting besides (think for example of how tired you feel at the end of a day of intensely worrying about something), which has an immediate knock-on effect on everything I do. It’s difficult, on a bad day, to do anything at all, but not in a way that’s tangible, which only makes it worse. You’ll hear things like “just get on with it”, and you’ll feel like you should be able to, but it just… won’t happen. A gulf exists between you and the thing or things you want to do, and saying you should “just get on with it” is advising you to cross it without providing the bridge.

Other garbage advice I’ve received or read includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • “just have fun”. Literally, “just have fun”. Great. Sometimes I don’t have the energy to get out of bed properly for days. Yay! Fun!!
  • “take on responsibilities”. Not likely to be of use given the aforementioned bed situation. Also, the remedy to an anxious mind does not seem to me to be more stress.
  • “avoid activities than involve too many activities”. Okay, to be fair, this one was given regarding eczema, but it’s too good to leave out. Plus, it’s about as irrelevant and nonsensical in this context as in any other.
  • “put a pencil between your teeth and look in the mirror”. Supposedly this simulates smiling, and seeing or feeling yourself smile will help to create a genuine feeling of positivity, despite the smile being false. I have no idea about the credibility of the science behind this one and if you do find that it works then you do you, but for me… no.
  • “do yoga”. I’d challenge any of you to find an individual who’s battled with mental health issues who hasn’t had this thrown their way at one stage or another. I’m sure that it can, and for some people, does work, but like “just get on with it”, it is a chasm missing its bridge. Besides, whenever I’ve had a tentative go at it, I’ve been too wrapped up in worrying about whether or not I’m doing it right and wondering at which point I’ll start not being depressed any more to feel anything other than just plain daft.
  • “go for a walk/jog”. Worse. Again, it most likely does work for some people, and again, it is a ladder presented without its lower rungs.

Well what, you might be asking of me, actually constitutes the bridges and lower-ladder rungs of your inconsistent metaphors?

That, I’m afraid, is not a simple question. Taking “just get on with it” as our example, and assuming that “it” this time is “the day and its myriad monotonous responsibilities”, even in this case, the first step greatly varies. For some, and on some days, the first step is “get out of bed, stretch, and get into the shower”. For some, or perhaps the same people on a different day, the first step is “try not to lie in bed for an hour staring at the walls/your phone before getting up”. It could be “decide not to go back to sleep after waking up for the third time”. And on some days, it could be plain old “go back to sleep and try again tomorrow”.

My point is that advice like “just get on with it” doesn’t work, because you can’t assume that any given person at any given time has the capability to navigate however many steps it may take them to get to getting on with it. And the fact that a “get out of bed, stretch, and get into the shower” day can be immediately followed by a “go back to sleep and try again tomorrow” day makes it even more difficult, because that scenario comes with a side of “but you were fine the day before?” and a dollop of “I must be faking because I Did Some Things yesterday”.

I’ve lapsed into the second person for example’s sake here, but I’ve had all of these first steps and many more in between.

Sometimes it’s other things, things even you yourself might not recognise for what they are. In one bad patch, I found myself totally and crushingly unable to make decisions, however small. It was surreal, as to me, the only conceivable answer to the question or choice with which I was faced was for both or all options to simultaneously happen and not happen. Anything short of that was simply not possible to comprehend. It only lasted maybe a month, but it was incredible, in a very unpleasant way. Particularly as it applied even to things like “do you want a glass of milk” – the answer to which, usually, is a resounding yes.

This time around, I have become much more forgetful than I ever have been before. I’ve left my purse behind at home twice, and left it at work overnight twice, all within the last two months. In the previous hundreds of months of my life up to that point, I believe I had done this maybe once. I forget to take my medication all the time, where before, it never even crossed my mind that I might. I’m late to things more often than I ever was, too, because I’ve always been in the ‘punctual to the point of decidedly early’ camp; very much an “it takes twenty minutes to walk there, so I’ll leave myself half an hour” kind of girl. In my mind, I still do that, and yet, my punctuality is definitely declining.

Sometimes I’m angry or irritable for seemingly no reason. Things that shouldn’t bother me cause unbridled rage. Sometimes I don’t really want to eat, despite being hungry, or I only want to eat a very specific thing but I don’t actually know what it is, so I don’t eat. I’ve managed to get my anxiety nausea mostly under control by carrying mints with me everywhere, which has worked very well, but as soon as I don’t have access to them I will begin to sweat. My anxiety tends not to stray into the social side of my life, and in fact I usually find an evening with friends or family will lift my mood enormously, but sometimes the sound of voices and general activity make my skin vibrate and I need to be alone. I don’t really get “sad” the way people think depressed people do.

It steals your hobbies, as well, in exactly the way all the online symptom-checkers say it does. You love drawing? Really? Why is that? What’s the point of it? Are you going to make a career out of it? Are you really enjoying it, though? What are you going to do with that drawing once it’s finished? I’m not sure you’re really, really enjoying it. What exactly is it about it that you enjoy? It’s just pencil to paper, lines, colour maybe. Why does it matter? Repeat ad infinitum. About everything you like.

I try to bat away those thoughts when they come, but it’s not always possible. You’re always fighting with your brain, and sometimes, it wins. When it does, it’s not rational. Your brain’s an asshole. It doesn’t care that you have a home, a family who loves you, a partner who adores you. It doesn’t care that other people have it worse – if anything, it reminds you of that from time to time, just so you can feel worse about how bad you feel. It loves to nudge you and ask if you’ve considered the fact that you’re making everything up, that you’re just lazy, that you’re ridiculous for not being able to cope with Life when everyone else around you is keeping up just fine. Yes, you say.

You have.

Oh, hey, but there are physical symptoms too! Nausea, tiredness, insomnia, muscle twitches, heart palpitations that you might think are indicative of a heart attack and to which the only remedy is ‘relax’ calling up pleasant memories of that scene in The Philosopher’s Stone where they’re being strangled by the Devil’s Snare; menstrual changes, skin problems of various kinds, even “unexplained aches and pains” (honestly), and these are just the ones I’ve personally experienced. Will that convince you, though, that you’re not faking? Nope. Thinking you must be faking is another symptom! Yay!! Just have fun!

It’s even better (read: worse) when you’re what you might call high-functioning, when you can do your job, and do it well; when you can seem to exist in daily life as a relatively neurotypical person except for the fact that you can’t remember the last time your back muscles untensed, when you can socialise and laugh and be outgoing and seemingly breezy, and then go home to Not Sleep and try to ignore how loud and fast your brain is being.

When I started this blog, I was quite new to being excited by make-up. I’ve always been bookish, and though of course the two are not mutually exclusive, until age sixteen or so I misguidedly thought they were, and from then on I just took a long time to get interested. I was excited to be excited about something, and although the initial novelty has faded a little and I do sometimes get those “why do you like this?” thoughts, I try to just yell “because I do!!!” and keep going.

I haven’t been keeping up with anything to the level I’d like to lately, because of everything I’ve detailed above, but I’m trying to get things straightened up again. We’ll hopefully, finally, be in our flat by the end of the week. That should help me get my head in order a bit, and once I feel more stable, I should be able to work on the rest, including posting more regularly, and a bit more diversely.

I’m not 100% sure what the point of this post was except to try and map out what’s been going on with me, and I suppose a little to share what it’s like to have a mental illness with people who might not know, but if you read this far, then thank you. I hope I’ll be back properly soon.

Eyes Like Angels

I recently got my hands on the Makeup Revolution Eyes Like Angels palette and I’m kind of obsessed.

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A lot of the Makeup Revolution hype has been around the Fortune Favours The Brave palette, and I feel like some of the others have been somewhat neglected as a result – not that that palette isn’t a work of art. Admittedly, I passed over Eyes Like Angels a fair few times without giving it a proper look as the disorganised nature of the colours wasn’t particularly aesthetically pleasing, but once I actually started swatching it, I couldn’t believe how beautiful they all were. I was having a hard day and honestly that little mint green at the bottom left (Green Envy) pulled me right out of it all on its own.

Anyway, here are some of my favourites!

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From the bottom upwards they are: Green Dream (which, confusingly, is a bright royal blue), Sophisticated Pink, Dream (which has more of a pink shift than you can see here), Emerald Night, Purpled!, Pink Frosted, Green Stars, Green Envy (probably my #1 fave with a beautiful pale golden shift!) and Bold Purple.

This palette contains some of the most beautiful and incredibly pigmented shadows I’ve ever come across, and I’m including all my high-end products in that. The shades and colours are incredible, and I couldn’t wait to start doing some bold looks, so I decided I’d finally get round to the pictorial I keep talking about whilst I was at it!

Something I was pretty keen to do was to include all my mistakes, not try to hide any of my stray eyebrow hairs or whatever. I wanted to create something quite real and relatable; not because bloggers and vloggers who present more refined images are not, but because it’s sometimes quite nice to see an interim, if that makes sense – something which looks good (in my opinion), but doesn’t feel unattainable. I’m still learning myself, about how to apply what and where and in what direction, and I didn’t want to hide from that. And also, I absolutely don’t pluck my eyebrows often enough, and I don’t plan to.

So, with all that in mind:

My first step to pretty much all my eye make-up looks is to apply MUA Pro-Base Eye Primer, and then blend it out with this fluffy (and in need of washing) brush.

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Then, more often than not, I’ll use my Real Techniques Base Shadow Brush to apply a generous amount of the shade White Chocolate from Too Faced’s Chocolate Bar palette – an excellent and beautifully fragranced base for any look.

I then blended Salted Caramel, an excellent transition shade, into my crease.

Using my finger, I applied Green Envy (still not shown to its full glory in these photos) to my lid. This is the best way to get the best colour payoff, but it is a little imprecise!

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I cleaned it up and blended it out a bit after.

Again using a finger, I applied Emerald Night to the inner and outer corners of my lid. I blended it out again using a fluffy brush.

With a liner brush, I lined my lower lid with Sophisticated Pink, and blended it out, before realising I wanted it bolder and applying another line over the top (hence the two pictures!).

Liquid eyeliner. The scary part where it could all go wrong. (I use a Rimmel one but it’s running out!)

Doing my eyeliner this way is completely new to me, and I always doubted that it would work, but… it does. I also, as I’ve mentioned before, always used to pull the skin taut before doing my liner, so doing it without that is taking some getting used to! I definitely made some mistakes whilst applying this but I managed to get the end product looking pretty good.

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Now for the brows!

I use a relatively blunt brow pencil to add a little colour and fill in the gaps, then brush and blend it all through with a spoolie brush.

Sorry for the blurriness of that first photo, I have no idea what happened! I use my newest brow discovery, NYX brow pomade, to outline the tail of my eyebrow.

I fill in the rest of the tail, not going far beyond the lines I drew, and then blend it out with a spoolie. A bit of Benefit’s Ready, Set, Brow! over the top and I’m good to go!

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Oh, and of course I added a touch of KIKO Milano multicoloured Glitter Liner in the middle of my lid and under my eyeliner wing, because who can resist a bit of glitter?

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So, I know I haven’t been very active on here, and I can only apologise. I have a lot going on between working and trying to find a new flat, and correspondingly my mental health has taken something of a nosedive. I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to post on here for a little while what with all that and the fact that we’re moving next week, but I should still be relatively active on Twitter and Instagram. Thanks for reading!

Pink Hair & Mermaid Eyes

I finally got round to dying my hair pink!!

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I’ve wanted bubblegum pink hair for a while now, but I just never really got round to it, and then as my roots grew out, I knew I’d have to re-bleach and tone white and all sorts, and I just haven’t had the time. But then, totally on a whim, I picked up a bottle of Bleach London Rosé shampoo and just popped it on – my hair was pretty light after all – and it turned out better than I could have hoped! I’m so pleased with it. It’ll wash out pretty soon I think, but now that I know I like it I can just get round to dying it more permanently!

Anyway, I was headed to a birthday party that night and I wasn’t really sure how to do my make-up; pink hair is a whole new ball game, and I had no idea how to play… so I winged it. I knew I wanted something bright and different (that’s the end of the sports analogy) and I had something vaguely mermaid-y in mind, so I started with bright green.

I didn’t actually mean to. It was an accident. I was distracted, and the colour I had intended to start with was more of a sea green, but in retrospect, I think the bright green was actually a good base.

These are the shades I somehow managed to get confused. Never mind. I just popped some of the sea green shade over the top (I love KIKO but unfortunately this one shadow just isn’t very pigmented…), leaving a pop of the brighter shade in the middle, and then I moved to my Sleek i-Divine palette to continue with the vivid colours.

I wanted some more blue on there, so I added E10 and London Rain (the teal blue shade and the dark blue shade respectively on the photo below) to my inner and outer corners, and swept a mix of the two under my eyes as well; I wanted this to be a big kind of look that wasn’t necessarily contained to my eyelids – or at least, not as much as I can sometimes be guilty of.

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Once I was finished with the blues and greens, I felt like there was still something missing, and I was drawn to the bright purple shade Royal. So, on a whim and hoping it wouldn’t ruin everything, I added a light dusting of it to the area above my eye where the blues blended out to nothing, and then I added a bit more, and thankfully, it was exactly the finishing touch I was after. I added some of Chocolate Bar’s Candied Violet and Urban Decay’s Moondust in Intergalactic over the top – less because it was needed and more because I love those shadows so much that I never pass up a chance to use them – and I was all set to stare at my eyes in the mirror all night. Uh, I mean, finish doing my face and head out to the party.

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A sidenote: I know my liner is a bit wobbly here. But I’ve had to totally relearn my application method after I made the startling discovery that you’re not meant to pull the skin taut to draw the line, and I have very trembly hands thanks to my meds, so I’m doing my best!

I also want to talk about a couple of new things I did in creating this look.

The first is that I used my new Real Techniques Starter Set of eye brushes (which I got for half price at Boots!!), and honestly, I cannot believe their blending power. I’ve heard it said that make-up is 40% what you apply and 60% what you apply it with, but I always thought that was a ridiculous exaggeration until now! These brushes are fantastic and if you’re looking to get some relatively inexpensive, good quality brushes, whether you’re just starting out or not, I definitely recommend them.

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(Bonus photo: my lovely growing collection of brushes in their cute little holder! Not including face brushes…)

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And the second thing is that, on the same occasion I bought my RT brushes, I also picked up a brow pomade from NYX, and I am completely converted. I’ve only ever used pencils or powder, and I just absolutely love the extra sharpness you get from the pomade. I still use a pencil to fill in the gaps a little, but the pomade is the perfect finisher.

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I’m so pleased with this look, and I’m hoping that the brightness of my hair will inspire me to experiment a bit more freely with some really bold looks!

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So, I know a couple of you guys had asked me about doing a pictorial of sorts, and I haven’t forgotten, I promise! I didn’t have time while making this look (believe it or not, seeing as it’s so experimental) but I will get around to it soon!

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My Work Make-Up Staples

I’ve mentioned a few times that I can only wear minimal make-up to work, so I thought I’d make a post about the make-up that I do wear!

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Sorry about the photo quality! My camera is temporarily out of action, so I had to use my phone. But these are the products that I use regardless, as few and as humble as they are.

First up – Benefit’s Gimme Brow and Ready, Set, Brow!

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I’ve mentioned these products before. I got them as freebies in a couple of different magazines, and honestly, I don’t really know how I lived without them now – especially Ready, Set, Brow!.

Gimme Brow adds a bit of thickness and a touch of colour to my brows, and Ready, Set, Brow! keeps all the hairs in place. And it really, really does. I wear a forehead-wandering hairnet and a cap at work, and my brows still look fine when I take the cap off at the end of the day.

Icona Milano Waterproof Mascara

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I received this product in my July Glossybox! I’ve never actually had a waterproof mascara before, but so far, I’ve been really impressed, which is how this has ended up in my staples so soon. I’m on my feet all day at work, rushing around and working with hot ovens, so I didn’t even think it was possible not to have smudgy mascara at the end of it, but I’ve been proven wrong.

Maybelline Matte Maker mattifying powder

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Obviously I’ve had this for a while since it’s not a ‘new’ product any more as it claims on the packaging, but it was buried in my make-up bag for a while and I’ve only recently pulled it back out. As I mentioned, it can get quite sweaty in my job, so I don’t like the idea of putting much on my face, but on days where I feel like I need a little help I reach for this. It’s very light coverage (and also a much lighter shade than it looks in the photo), so it’s perfect to lightly swish over my problem areas. I use it to set my out-of-work make-up too!

Blistex Lip Brilliance tinted lip balm

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This is another one I’ve had for ages, but it’s pretty reliable. It moisturises my lips, it smells lovely, and the very slight tint makes me feel just a tiny bit more made up.

Compact Brush

I bought this very recently to go on holiday, but I can’t remember where from, oops! I added the little stickers myself anyway so it was just a plain little compact brush, mostly likely from Boots or Superdrug.

I had one of these years ago and I loved it, and for some reason I never replaced it when it got broken. The little mirror is great for check-ups (or hurried on-train application of work make-up) and obviously it’s always handy to have a brush on you. The hairnet/cap combo I have to wear is not kind even to my short flicks, so this is a must in my work bag.

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It still looks like a fairly decent amount when the products are pictured together, but on my face it’s nothing! Granted, this photo is from after a day of work, so the powder and lip balm have all but disappeared, but I didn’t touch up my brows or lashes at all before this was taken, and I think they look just fine.

I don’t have a ‘before’ photo handy, but this is really a vast improvement on my completely natural brows. They don’t have much of a tail on their own and they certainly don’t hold this kind of shape through a day’s work!

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An Experiment That Went Right

Have you ever done that thing where you’re going totally beyond what you’d normally do, picking colours out just because they’re in front of you (and because you can’t wear make-up to work and you’ve missed getting to use all your exciting products), and then somehow it all comes together and just works?

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Me too!

Originally, I was following a tutorial I found when browsing Sweet Peach looks (which you can find here, and even though I added my own elements I still think the original looks fab too!). I don’t get a chance to do make-up as often as I’d like lately, so I wanted to choose a look with care, and I knew I wanted to use my favourite palette.

I always feel slight disappointment when I get to the end of doing my make-up, no matter how good it looks, because I just love the process so much, I want to keep going! So, on this occasion, I did. And I definitely must do it more often, because grabbing the products I like looking at and just seeing how I could make them work was so much fun, and it paid off too since I ended up so happy with the look!

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Just a short post from me today I’m afraid; I’ve been feeling so burnt out lately that I just haven’t had it in me. But hopefully I’ll perk up soon and I’ll be back with more in-depth posts, including a pictorial of sorts on my sparkly purple halo eye from last week!

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