Monday, 27 August 2012

A Day at Reading Festival


As I'm not really your average Festival-goer, it was most unlike me to jump at the chance to use my brothers spare ticket for Reading Festival on Sunday (I'm trying to say yes to doing more things i'd normally not do & I'm enjoying it thoroughly - more on that in another blog post). For those of you who may not be aware, Reading is a place, and although you could also look at that and think "Zoe, what kind of a Festival is one where you go to learn about literature", I promise you it was nothing of the sort, it's a weekend long music festival. It was a really fun day, and has possibly cured my small fear of Festivals (mainly due to the unpleasant toilet facilities and overly drunken loons). Consider it my "dip in the festival water". I just wanted to share some snaps with you all, hope you like them!

Wearing: 
American Apparel "disco pants" in black, American Apparel initials t shirt with sleeves rolled up, Goldfish wellington boots (goodness knows where I got these bad boys from), Sunglasses from New Look (mens section - they are smaller than the womens for some odd reason), Earrings from Love, Hearts & Crosses, Lipstick is Topshops "Firecracker".

Company & featured in photos above:
Alfie - @PointlessBlogTv
Joe - @Joe_Sugg
Chai - @Mrchailis
(I'm afraid I don't know the guy holding the sign, so his twitter name will remain a mystery)

Highlights:
Hanging out with and meeting lot's of lovely people
Two Door Cinema Club (they were amazing live)
Foo Fighters
Bumping into one of my good friends 
Learning how to clap properly (essential for a festival)


Friday, 24 August 2012

Messy Bun



Having long hair means that the maintenance spent on it, can add up to quite a considerable amount of time. I love having long hair, don't get me wrong, but there will always be days where I think chopping it off would be so liberating. However, I am far too much of a wuss to even contemplate snipping inches off my long locks. So for days where I think having long hair is a bit of a faff, I'll sling it up in a messy bun. The bun is never the same each time I do it but i'm always happy with how it turns out. I attempted to show you how I do this in a VIDEO on my youtube channel, although explaining it is actually quite difficult. It's all just trial and error. Sling it up, use many hair pins and hair bobbles and voila. It doesn't need to look perfect, and that's why it's one of my favourite go-to hair styles. I also really like that now it's ombred, there are little bits of blonde in the bun (easily amused). 

What's your favourite lazy-girl-quick hairstyle?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Everybody's Free


Sometimes, when life get's a little complicated, it's very easy to loose sight of all the good things and you become soley focused on the negative. This song is sure to bring you round.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Re-Ombred Hair | Salon Edition



If any of you have seen my most recent video, you will notice that I have had my hair re-ombred. It was a bit of a spur of the moment thing, and I just went with it. As most of you will know, I've had my hair ombred twice before (the second time was more of a "top up"). I eventually got bored of my ombre, and had forgotten what it was like to have an all over colour, so I went to my hairdressers, and asked them to cover over the blonde (although by this time, the blonde had pretty much faded away). All of a sudden, I craved having ombre again. I like that it gives the hair a lot more texture, and having such long hair, texture is key to making it appear voluminous rather than lack lustre. I went to my hairdressers (Gemma and Lisa), and asked them to re-do it for me. I'm super happy with how it turned out. They used a few different shades to create the blend and put peroxide on the very ends. A lot of people ask me what to ask for at the hairdressers if you want this affect and to be honest, all you should need to do is show them a picture and they'll know what to do to create it. They may all have slightly different techniques or call it different things (Dip dye, ombre, smudged) but ultimately, if they have a good image to go by, they will recreate it for you. 

If you can't afford to go to a salon to have this done, then check out my DIY ombre hair post, where I explain how I did it myself the first time round. And you can also see how I did my top up (I used a different dye) on this post here.

Super happy to have my blonde ends back, makes me feel a little more exotic haha

If you live in or around Somerset/Wiltshire and want information on the particular salon I went to, feel free to privately email me & I'll give you the details. 

Saturday, 11 August 2012

New Love | Yves Rocher Mascara "Sexy Pulp"


If you read any of my monthly beauty box posts, you may recognise this brand as being something included in the June GlossyBox. I didn't really think too much of it initially, and put it aside. Oh how silly of me. I then stayed a night at a friends house and threw this into my handbag as a quick (and nifty travel sized) mascara option. When I first opened this, I grimaced at the size of the brush head. It does look massive, in length and thickness. It scared me a little, putting this near my eye. I once owned "bad gal lash" by Benefit, and that too had a very large brush on the wand, and I didn't get on with it at all. It was messy, difficult for accuracy and sometimes a little painful (bristles in eye scenario). Now, I believe  I have normal sized eyes, and that although Louise calls me Chumbolina (in reference to Thumbolina), my eyes are of normal size, so if you're thinking "but Zoe, everything looks big compared with you", i'm pretty sure someone else would feel the same way. Once I had gotten over the sheer horror of the size of the brush head, I went to use it on my eyelashes and very surprisingly, had absolutely no problem using it to apply the mascara. The shape of the brush allows you to easily grab each lash with no difficulty what so ever. 

So what makes this mascara so amazing? The first thing I love about it, is the bristles. They are really dense, which means they literally grab every lash, which also means minimum clumping. I am someone who really likes volume in my eyelashes, and this is exactly what "sexy pulp" claims to add, and I really feel that it does. It makes them appear fuller, longer and curlier than that are naturally and I feel like they make a nice impact without going to "false lash" measures. I loved the little sample so much, I immediately went on the Yves Rocher website, and ordered myself 2 in full size. I got one in brown, and one in black, as I do wear a variation of the two shades. When going for something a little more natural I'll opt for brown, and then if i'm going all out i'll go with black. I even stopped using and didn't repurchase, for about the 10th time, my beloved No7 Exquisite Curl mascara which I thought no other mascara could top. 


Here are some scary eye pictures of my mascara in use. I was wearing the black mascara in the images above and only had on 2 coats. If you were really mascara crazy, I think you could carry on with another few coats before it might start clumping. I would highly, highly recommend this mascara to anyone that wants volume, length and curl to their lashes. I had never even heard of this brand before, but that's the joy of beauty boxes, finding absolute gems in them, that you then go on to love and repurchase. Although this mascara is originally priced at £16.90, I was fully intending to spend that much on it because I loved it that much, but was pleasantly surprised to find it was half price on the website, so i'd hurry over and grab one if you were interested as i'm not sure how long that may last for. 

What is your favourite mascara at the moment? Have you tried anything else from Yves Rocher?

Friday, 10 August 2012

50 Years.

 

Although my blog is mainly beauty related, I do like to throw in a few life related posts too. I enjoy capturing special moments on camera, and equally enjoy sharing them with you all. Recently, my Nan and Grandad celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. It was such a lovely day, and it felt really special. 50 years is such a long time to spend with one person, and it's definitely something to crack open the champagne for. I thought you might like to see some of the photographs I took of the day. I especially love the before and after photos of my grandparents together 50 years ago, and today. I honestly don't even think they've changed that much either. I hope one day, I can look back over 50 years of marriage and still be just as happy as they are. 

*Raise a toast to Nan & G-pa*

(as a small side note, I asked my grandparents permission before posting this, and my Grandad added "will I get spotted in the street now?" haha - So if you see my Grandad on your travels, be sure to say hello)

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Caudalie Beauty Elixir | Review


The Caudalie Beauty Elixir is something I picked up a few months ago after watching a video where Lisa Eldridge mentioned this particular product, along with the copious amounts of other fellow beauty enthusiasts. It intrigued me as the thought of spritzing a water filled with lot's of beneficial ingredients to refresh your face or your makeup a very interesting concept. I know there are plenty of hydrating water sprays, but I've never been a fan of those, and have never really noticed much of a difference in my skin when using them unless I had particularly dehydrated skin, so I had quite high expectation of this spray. 

The spray contains grape, orange blossom, rose, organic balm mint and rosemary, which all claim to help smooth features, tighten pores and give your complexion a burst of radiance. This can be sprayed onto the face after cleansing as a sort of "toner", a face of makeup to set, or just during the day for a skin pick me up. I found it quite pleasant to spray on. There were no droplets on my face and no awkward hand fanning to dry. I also felt that the mist was the right density, and covered a good area (as weird as that sounds, I hate sprays that are too dense and leave you looking and feeling very wet). It did feel very refreshing to spray, and I can see how people can become a little addicted to spraying this on their face all day, especially if it is at arms reach or sat on your desk at work. The scent of the Beauty Elixir is very strong. I almost didn't expect it to be as strong as it was. It smells very natural and organic, but also has a huge note of mint and what I can only describe as "uriney-smell" (how professional of me). I know that not everyone will agree with me here, and in fact I'm almost certain most people really liked the scent, but for me it was a little too overpowering. The main question though, is did it do anything to my skin? The answer to that is, no, not really. I didn't notice any benefits from this product at all. I've used almost the whole bottle up now (photo above taken a while ago). In fact I used it constantly a few weeks ago as I was having a hormonal break out, and I'm convinced it made everything worse, as when I stopped using it, everything calmed down a lot quicker. The only thing that I do believe it does very well, is make your skin appear a lot more radiant after applying makeup, or if you are choosing to have a no-makeup and healthy skin day. It does border slightly on "greasy looking" sometimes however, so if you have oily skin, i'm not sure you'd want to use it for that purpose. 

As something that has been hyped up in the beauty blogging world, I felt that I too, would fall in love with the contents of this quaint little glass bottle and that it would do absolute wonders for my skin. I was a little disappointed that it didn't work in the same way it had for others, but that's the risk you take when buying something that has been so hyped up. Products are never going to do the same to one person that it does to another. 

Have you ever tried the Caudalie Beauty Elixir? What experience have you had with it?


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

American Apparel Neon Nails



I wouldn't say i'm much of a nail enthusiast, I don't really get excited by nail polish or painting my nails. I always see it as a chore, and much prefer someone else to do them for me. I'm very good at perfecting the 5-year-old-girl-paints-her-nails look. I'm not one for fancy nail art, or anything spectacular either. I find it fiddly, and have no patience for something so delicate and time consuming. Having said this, I have been a huge fan of "stand-out nail colours" recently. Something that contrasts with the rest of my outfit and is effortless. Neon colours have been a go-to for me this summer. I love the neon trend, but don't feel comfortable enough to rock out some neon trousers or bright neon dresses, so i've injected a teeny bit of neon to my hands instead. I love the AA nail polishes as the quality is really good. They are definitely on the pricey side, but they have such an amazing collection of colours, the packaging is unique and they stay put for a good amount of time with no chipping. I also bought a glitter polish as I just couldn't pass it up. Look at the amount of pretty! The glitter instantly makes the nails a whole lot more interesting without spending ages fiddling about with nail art or glue. The middle nail was 2 coats of glitter, I feel like it spreads out well on the nail too (something I thought it wouldn't do). 

Have you used any of the American Apparel nail polishes? Would you happily spend £9 on a nail polish if you felt it was pretty enough? or am I a bit crazy? 

The colours above are Neon Green, Neon Yellow and the glitter is called Galaxy Glitter. 




Saturday, 4 August 2012

Instagram Diary | Issue #3

Add me on Instagram @ZozeeBo

Galaxy Snack Editing in my car Geek glasses?
Liquid Gold Guinea pig get well card from my mummy New Mac blush in "Supernova"
Funny editing face Photoboothing Popcorn time at the cinema
Blowing bubbles Joe found a thatch roof at Longleat In the mirror maze at Longleat
Snapback posing A lovely little present from Megs Joe eating fruit...
Prizes for my blog and youtube giveaway Vans and Disco Pants Curly hair

I've also started using my Tumblr again. Not sure how long-lived it will be as I feel as though Tumblr and Pinterest are very similar, and I'm ultimately pinning and reblogging very similar things! Although I know that some of you may use one over the other so just thought i'd mention it. :) 

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

How To | Blog Photography


Taking photos, for me, is one of the most important and satisfying parts of writing my blog. I believe that a picture can speak a thousand words. I find blogs without photos so sad to look at. I love everything visual and creative, and sometimes, it's the photographs that really make a blog stand out to me. Sometimes photography doesn't come so naturally to some people, and without knowing too much about what you're doing or how to use a camera, it can all be a bit much to take in. I receive an awful lot of questions and requests based around blog photography. How do I edit? How do you manage to get good shots? I'm not saying i'm the master of photography (I wish I was though), everyone has their unique photography style, but I thought I would share a few pointers with you when it comes to snapping photos for your blog, and if it helps you in any way, then that's just a huge bonus.

The Instrument 
(that's camera to you and me)

It's important to understand, first and foremost, that you don't need a whopping great DSLR that costs you thousands of pounds in order to take a good photograph. When I first started blogging, I used a little digital camera that cost around £70. I then progressed onto a slightly more expensive digital camera (this one to be precise) and for my 21st Birthday I received a Canon EOS 600D (available to buy/snoop at here). I took photography as an A Level in Sixth Form, so I was pretty clued up on slightly more advanced photography and this also meant that even before I started writing a blog, i'd always wanted a DSLR camera. I didn't JUST get it for blogging or filming videos, but because it was one of those things on my wish list for many, many years.

You do not need to feel as though in order to have great photos on your blog, you have to invest in an expensive camera, although it is just that for me, an investment. I would be lying if I said there was no difference between the quality of a standard digital camera and a DSLR, because there are obviously differences, which are reflected in the prices of both. If you were ever thinking of upgrading your digital camera, then I would definitely advise taking a look in your nearest camera/electrical shop and having a little play around with them. It's a lot of money to spend so do your research. Having said that, if you are quite happy with the quality of your digital camera, and you aren't a photography geek like me so getting something larger and more expensive isn't something you're really looking to do, you can still take some amazing photographs, if you do it properly and with a creative eye. If you are choosing to use your smart phone, make sure the quality is good enough so that when your photos are blown up slightly larger, they don't look really pixelated. Nobody likes a pixelated, crappy photograph.


Stock Photos

I know that not everybody will agree with me, but I just find stock photos the lazy way out. I like to see half empty and loved products on blogs as well as excited snaps of new products. It's nice to know that you are really using it, and loving it, and that you do actually own it . It's all very easy to just write about a pretty lipstick, pop up a stock photo and to not even own the product (of course press releases on products not yet launched is a different matter).

These days, I look to blogs for honest reviews, and nothing speaks more honestly than seeing the product sat on someone's dressing table, being used. I also think that stock photos can look a bit messy, as they are often very small files, only meant for small viewing on a website and not to be copied, pasted and enlarged. So when placed on your blog, they can look tiny and a bit lost, or fuzzy once resized. Although saying this I know that many people with great photoshopping skills can pop stock photos from websites into a pretty collage for wish lists etc! It's quite a grey area, some people make it work, some don't. Some have a good mixture, some use nothing but stock photos. Just something to bare in mind.

 Lighting

Once you've established that instead of being a lazy "so and so" you are going to photograph the product yourself, it's important to make sure you have good enough lighting. Lighting is one of the most important factors when taking a photo. Natural light is an absolute god send. It makes a picture clearer, crisper, and reflects it's true colours (especially important if you are showing swatches). All too often it's inconvenient to photograph something in the natural light, maybe you got home from work late, it was  an exceptionally grey or gloomy day, or you think it's easier to just whack the bedside lamp on or use the main light in your house to get a photograph. For times like this, you might want to think about buying a daylight bulb or studio lighting. I own studio lighting, but mainly for the purpose of filming videos. I wouldn't have ever gone out and bought it JUST for blog photos as I think that could be deemed a little extravagant (unless of course you are a complete perfectionist when it comes to clear, bright photographs and you think it could be very useful to you). You can buy daylight bulbs from most places, and they are fairly cheap, just pop it in your lamp and you're good to go. If you tend to take most of your blogging photos at night, you might want to consider this. If, however you LIKE the slightly more orange/yellow tone of a standard light bulb, then you can just carry on as you are. Just for reference, the lights I own are these ones!

Sometimes, I don't like to use a bright white light, if you are opting for a slightly more ambient photograph (say if you were photographing your bedroom with candles or fairy lights etc), then they look much better without a bright light or flash. It sets the mood somewhat. You may also want to consider using a tripod if you are opting for low light shots, as the shutter stays open much longer, and could cause you to have a slight blurry photograph without it being held steady.

You might also want to avoid using your camera's built in flash, as more often than not, it just completely washes out any colour and reflects off the subject you are photographing. I feel as though the camera flash is a bit too harsh at times, so I tend to avoid using it. Instead I will use natural light or the studio lights.

Don't take a photograph INTO the light. This is one of the first things you learn when taking photos or studying photography. I'm sure it looks great if that is the sort of effect you are going for, but on a more everyday scale, it looks a bit pants (see below).

It's just about experimenting really, seeing which methods of light you prefer for different photo shots.



Taking The Photo

Some of you may find it difficult when it comes to actually taking the photo. This is where your creative side needs to step up slightly. Think about angles, composition and product position. Sometimes I like to take my photos on an angle, as I feel it makes the overall viewing experience slightly more interesting. You want to think about whether you want to photograph your product lying down, standing up, with the lid on, off, open or closed. Just experiment with different shots.

This is part of the joy of owning a digital camera, you can take hundreds of shots, and then simply delete the ones that you don't like. Once you have the lighting right, all that's left to do is make sure you like everything in the frame. Is the background simple? Does it distract from the product, or does it make your picture a little more interesting? Is the background colour a good contrast to your product colour, or are the two merging making it more difficult for you to see the product?

It's also important to decide how much of the product you are going to have in the frame. You don't want to take the photo from far away so that your readers see more of the background than the product you are trying to show them. This is where cropping can come in very useful, make sure you have a good balance between product and background. Make the product the focal point, not the rest of your bedroom. If you do very fashion-based blogs, or you want to photograph a picture of yourself without having to hold your camera at arms length, I would strongly urge you to get a tripod. You can buy them for SO cheap. This is the one I own and it only cost me around £10. I use it all the time, makes life much easier.


In Focus?

Are your photos in focus? This is one of the most important things when taking your photos. If you have your camera set on automatic mode (which i'm sure most of us would use), then it shouldn't be too difficult, but I have seen many a blog photo out of focus. It's like reading a blog with your drunk goggles on, and you almost end up thinking you need to book an appointment at your nearest optician. There is also the option of using "Macro". Almost ALL cameras will have a macro option, giving you the choice to get clearer, very up-close photographs. If you are struggling to get a focused photograph of your product up close, try switching your camera to macro and it will make life a lot easier for you. 


Editing

This is the one thing I probably get asked about the most. Editing for some is the bit they like to skip. Who wants to tamper around with photos if that's not something you're really into? Because i'm a photo geek, editing is always my favourite part. I always get asked which program I use to edit. Now i'll be honest with you, I use MANY, MANY programs. I'm always on the look out for new programs to download and play around with. My main editing software is Photoshop, which is quite an advanced program, of which I learnt to use during my A levels. I probably wouldn't recommend downloading this unless you want to edit your photos to an extreme standard (which I very rarely do).

If you simply want to add a filter, crop your photo, lighten it or resize it, something as simple as "iPhoto" for a mac user will cover all this. (please note, I have a mac, so the programs I use may not be available for you if you own a windows computer/laptop). If you are also a Mac user, you can search and download amazing photography apps from the Appstore to your laptop, most of which are free or only very cheap. There are hundreds which offer different filter styles, different editing methods, collages and much more. If you aren't a Mac user, fear not, there is still something for you! If you simply search "online photo editing" in Google, you will be met with a long list of FREE photo editing services online I have used pretty much the first 5 search results, for all my photo editing, and they all offer an easy to use service with everything you'll ever need, just see which you prefer. 

Once you have found your perfect editing program, and you feel comfortable using it and have got to grips with how it works, it's time to decide how you want to edit your photos. I like to use a vintage/lomo filter, but only very lightly, as I don't ever want a filter to change the overall appearance of a product. I tend to enjoy using filters more for personal photos or landscapes, rather than a product shot. I also think it's important to try and avoid filters when it comes to swatches. You want people to see the true colour of the product you are swatching, otherwise there really is no point in photographing it. Filters are not for everybody, if you prefer your photo's to just be true to colour, then leave them at that. Editing is really just a personal preference, see what you like, see what style fits your blog or personality. Experiment and have fun!

I hope that some of you have found this somewhat helpful to read. I have enjoyed writing it, and I hope it inspires you to get your cameras out and start snapping away! Photography, for me, is fun. It's a way for me to channel my creativity. If you struggle with photography or lack inspiration, just play around a bit. Try out things you've never thought to do before and just go with it. Don't take yourself too seriously, or beat yourself up if something isn't going the way you wanted it to, or if you just can't get that perfect shot of a lipstick. Taking photos should be fun and once you've written out your blog post, and added in your photographs, there should be that sense of satisfaction when you hit the publish button. Your photographs DON'T need to look like everybody else's. Please don't think you HAVE to follow my tips or advice, i'm offering my personal opinion to those of you who asked for it. If you're happy with the photographs you take, then carry on doing what you are doing, because as long as you are happy and chuffed with the photographs you produce, that's really all that matters. :)