Thursday, 31 January 2013

Illamasqua I'mperfection Spring Collection

As a huge fan of Illamasqua since they first came on the beauty scene, I like seeing all their new and exciting collections. One thing I love about the brand, is that each collection will be so well thought out, and have so much meaning behind each product and specific "look". I was recently invited along to see the new Illamasqua Spring Collection and I wanted to share my thoughts with you all. 

One cannot simply snap away at new products without a comedy shot of their best friend inside a blusher compact...

The collection is titled "I'mperfection" (get it... I'M PERFECTION = IMPERFECTION) Personally, I think this is one the best collection names i've ever heard. So simply but SO clever. The difference an apostrophe can make! It's all about embracing the things that are typically seen as imperfections and highlighting them instead of hiding them away. 

Alex Box describes the collection as "a stand against the homogenised nature of the beauty industry today, and a celebration of freckles, scars and birthmarks - the things that make us who we are. To borrow a line from Marilyn Monroe, "Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it's better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring". I love that quote! 

The first thing in the collection that caught my eye was this gorgeous blusher duo in "Lover & Hussy*", both gorgeous matte shades. The colour that stood out to me the most was the orange/peach tone, as these shades really compliment my skin in the summer once i've had a bit of sunlight on my face! Illamasqua blushers are my favourite thing about the brand. They are far more pigmented than plenty of others I have tried and the consistency of them is really lovely to use and blend. 

Next up is the lipstick. Lipstick was the first item of makeup I ever bought from Illamasqua as they had such a vast and interesting colour range. They have the best selection of matte lipsticks you will ever find, and the colour payoff is amazing. This shade is called "Immodest*" and it's a gorgeous vibrant, fuchsia pink. The lipsticks are really long lasting and contain vitamin e for nourishment, which is almost a necessity when wearing matte lipsticks as many people stay well away in case of major dry lips. 

Above are swatches of the lipstick "Immodest" and both blush colours from the "Lover and Hussy" duo, as you can see, all three are extremely pigmented.

Next is a brush* which really excited me! Illamasqua have designed this brush for a more chiselled and precise blush technique when applying. This new "brush up" design has an ellipse shaped head designed to tuck directly under the cheekbone. Gone are the days of big rosy round cheeks, it's all about creating more shape and structure to your face (hello fake cheekbones) and the best way of doing that is a more precise way of applying your blusher. I am so excited to start using this on my face, although it definitely sounds a lot easier than it probably is, and could take a few attempts in order to make it look just right. 

Besides the brush, I was also really intrigued by the new nail polishes that Illamasqua had brought out with this collection. Each nail polish is in a pretty pastel shade with a speckled finish inspired by the beauty of a bird's egg. At first I raised an eyebrow at this bizarre concept, thinking it looked a little like sparse glitter, but the more I looked at these, and when I saw them on the nails, I was completely sold. They look SO good! The two shades I have above are "Freckle"* and "Speckle"*. Speckle being my favourite in a gorgeous pastel purple. I can't wait to do my next manicure with this and I also think it would look great on toes!

In keeping with the campaign and collection, they had also designed a speckled effect for the eyes using the precision ink liners in black (Abyss) and white (Scribe). I would have never thought to do anything like it but it looked amazing on the girls, and sounded so easy to do. I also love the other creative ways of using other colours with your eyeliner. Who would have thought white cat-eye liner would look really good with a neutral eyeshadow? Not me, but now I really want to try it. 

The one amazing thing about Illamasqua is that their collections aren't just "pretty" but inspiring, and the campaigns that run alongside new collections are really interesting and make you think outside the box. If there is ever a brand to open your eyes to the creative world of makeup, it's Illamasqua. You don't have to be daring in your makeup choices in order to indulge in any of the products, but keep an open mind and be inspired. Makeup can become a very boring chore in our every day lives, but it's nice to keep everything a bit fresh and exciting, and I always feel like Illamasqua do that. 

Buy items from the new I'mperfection collection here on the Illamasqua website
What are your favourite items from the new collection? Anything you'd love to buy and try for yourself?

Friday, 25 January 2013

Review | Emma Hardie Amazing Face Cleansing Balm

This might not come as much of a surprise to you, that after so many fellow beauty fanatics raved on and on about this cleanser, I had to try it out for myself to see what all the hype was about. I ordered the 'Emma Hardie Amazing Face Natural Lift and Sculpt Professional Cleansing and Exfoliating System' (that's quite the mouthful). It contains the Moringa cleansing balm, aromatherapy infused rosehip exfoliating seeds and the buff and polish cleansing cloth. Being a complete lover and addict of the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish, I considered myself quite brave for stepping out of my comfort zone and steady skincare regime to give this a whirl. Totalling at £33.60 for the whole kit, this cleanser isn't cheap, but I also don't consider that sky high for good quality skincare. After all, we have to spend a decent amount of money on our skin to enable us to have the perfect canvas for makeup.

The cleansing balm itself is contains moringa seed extract, wild sea fennel and vitamin E to minimize the appearance of pores. Orange, Neroli and Mandarin extracts to rejuvenate and revitalise and Jasmine, Cedarwood and Rose to help re-hydrate and re-condition dry or dull skin. It also claims to be very calming on sensitive skin too. I really like the smell of the cleanser, it smells really fresh and natural (none of that strong artificial stuff). I actually prefer the scent of this to my trusty cleanse and polish as it is a lot more subtle. I wasn't sure that I would get to grips with smoothing an oily balm over my face as opposed to a cream but it's pleasantly nice. The balm breaks down all traces of makeup and is safe to use on eyes too (nothing worse than getting cleanser in your eye and hopping around your bathroom in pain splashing water at your face). 

When I first looked at the size of the tub, I was a bit apprehensive about how long it would last me, but a little goes a really long way. I find that a £2 coin sized dollop is enough to do a whole face (bearing in mind I have a pea head) and then a little extra swipe afterwards if my makeup is a bit on the heavy side. I can see this lasting a lot longer than I initially thought. I also really love the cloth that is provided with this. I thought I'd forever be a muslin cloth girl, but the soft, gentle flannel is so much nicer to use on my skin. Saying that, it's not as exfoliating, which is where the rosehip exfoliating seeds come in. You can incorporate these into the balm, and gently scrub your skin with the cleanser to give yourself a pampering treat. I have also enjoyed using these, however I don't use them very regularly as I prefer to just use the cleansing balm on it's own. You can also use the balm as a face treatment when left on for 10 minutes and wiped away. 

Since using the Emma Hardie cleanser, I have noticed a difference in the overall appearance of my skin. As someone with combination skin (oily and dry in places), it has definitely balanced it out, and the dry patches aren't as dry and the oily patches aren't as oily. I also feel as though my skin is a lot more hydrated and looks a lot more healthy. I also just really enjoy using this on my skin, it's a real treat when it's the end of the day and I can use this to remove my makeup, I almost look forward to it. As this cleanser is so gentle and natural, I would say that it is suitable for most, if not all skin types. If you haven't ever tried a balm, or the thought scares you a little, I really advise that you give it a go, like me you might be pleasantly surprised. 

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Hello 2013.

After giving you all a re-cap of my 2012 in my previous post (both good and bad), it's only right now, to start the new year on a positive note. After a turbulent year, I am determined to make 2013 the best ever. I can't say I have ever stuck to resolutions, but I want to make a list of things I'd like to do and achieve, and at the end of this year I want to look back and see which I managed to do. I think it's important to set goals and aims to give you something to look forward to and strive towards. It's also the best feeling once you actually manage to accomplish something.

♥ Don't sweat the small stuff
Being a naturally very worried person (that's anxiety and panic for you), I tend to get very overly stressed about very small and insignificant things. I'm the sort of person that sits biting their nails and the inside of their mouth over the fact they can't park their car perfectly (parallel parking is not my strong point okay...). I need to learn that some things really don't matter and that sometimes I really shouldn't give a F...monkeys. 2013 is going to be the year of minimal stress and maximum enjoyment. 

♥ Think more positive
I would say that in a lot of situations, I am able to see the positive aspects but definitely not often enough. I will more than likely think of all the negatives of something before I even consider a more positive outcome. It's mostly reflected in the mood I am in. If I'm feeling a bit down or anxious, I can be a right negative ninny. I need to stop finding things wrong with everything and start looking for all the great things in sticky situations and remember that it's not the be all and end all if things don't go as planned.

♥ Drink more water
I went through a little phase last year where I became slightly addicted to attempting to finish 2L bottles of water in a day. I remember that it was sometimes quite a struggle but also that it made me feel so much better inside and out. I felt a lot more healthy, a lot more hydrated and my skin was also thankful. It's certainly not an easy thing for me to try and do as I'm naturally not a very thirsty person and being quite petite, it doesn't take a lot of liquid before I feel like i'm going to burst from the inside out or wee myself. haha. I'm going to try and drink a lot more, whether I manage to complete a 2L bottle a day or just come close, it will be a vast improvement from "oh, I forgot to have a drink today...". Oops.

♥ Be more organised
I am useless at keeping track of life events and juggling my days. I've already filled in all my dates etc in my new diary and I'm going to carry it around with me and continue to keep track of what's going on in order to make sure I'm not on top of myself with not knowing what's happening. Days all seem to blur into one nowadays and this doesn't bode well with my messy organisational skills. I feel a lot more at ease when I have things sorted and filed neatly and I know what's happening and when. 

♥ Blog more
Towards the end of the year my blog got left outside on the doorstep for a while. Myself and my blog have always had a very on and off relationship throughout the (almost) 4 years of us being together. It's not that I decide that I don't like it sometimes, it's just that often I find writing it an unenjoyable experience when I feel as though i'm updating it just for the sake of it. I always want to produce posts that I love, and in turn, that I think you'll love too. Because of this, I sometimes step aside for a while, just to get my creative juices back, then I reappear loving it just as much as I did before. In true Ross from Friends style "WE WERE ON A BREAK". I want to spend more time creating blog posts this year, and really learning to love my blog a lot more. Call it lovers therapy...or bloggers therapy...

♥ Be the best version of you
This is one of my favourite quotes. I'm not sure where it comes from but I currently have this quote set as my desktop background (not the one below with me in it, that would be slightly odd...haha). I like that it encourages you to be the very best you can be, surround yourself with people that bring out the best in you and don't be anything but yourself. It's easy to lose who you are or to become a bit lost but this quote will always bring you back round and remind you just to be YOU and sod anyone that doesn't allow you to do that . :)

♥ Travel more
I haven't been on an aeroplane since I was 16. That is a LOOOONG time. I have completely forgotten what it's like to fly and the concept kind of terrifies me, but I'm determined to step on a plane and go somewhere warm this year. I really want to go to Playlist Live and Vidcon, both in America (where I have never been before) so it looks like i'll be dusting off my passport and getting my bikinis out. *dances* 

♥ Choose a healthier option occasionally
That title could have quite easily just been "eat healthy", but I don't want to set myself really unreasonable goals and ban myself from ever ordering a sneaky dominos every once in a while. I simply just need to eat a slightly healthier choice every now and then. My diet is pretty bad. I'll wake up and eat a chocolate bar or make my way through a packet of biscuits for my breakfast. I'll also drink my weight in hot chocolate (with cream and marshmallows) when really I could have a glass of water or a nice fresh smoothie. I also think I need to lay off the pizza a bit, or maybe start making my own :) It's not in order to lose weight (I am already a skinny minny due to my ridiculously fast metabolism) but sometimes I worry that the food I eat is doing no good for my insides and making me feel lethargic and I'd like to feel a little healthier.  

So those are my little personal challenges/goals I have decided to set myself. Some are working well already, my diary is full of goings on and I already feel a lot more organised. I've already written 2 posts this year AND thoroughly enjoyed writing them. I have also picked healthier options, and so far, I've gone a whole 14 days without ordering myself a dominos. HOORAH! I am going to really make the most of this year, and I hope you all do too. "Happily ever after starts here". :)

What sort of challenges and resolutions have you set yourself for 2013?
Are you hoping to look back over them in a year and have completed a good handful if not all of them?

Friday, 4 January 2013

2012 Flashback.

 "The hills are alive with the presence of a complete loon"

2012. Wow, what a year! 
I don't even know where to begin, but here goes...

It's only on reflection of the year, when you really sit down and think about it, that you realise it may have possibly been the worst and best year of your life. I know that is hard to get your head around, "how could it have possibly been the best AND worst?", but it really was, and that's the only way I can describe it. The start of the year is a bit of a blur for me. (I could completely side step the reasons, but I am a normal person, and my life isn't perfect, and you are all my friends). Come August of this year, I came out of a relationship that consumed me and took control over many aspects of my life. My anxiety at this point had spiralled completely out of control and I was a very broken person, pretending to be happy and continuing to smile on the outside. I tried with everything I had in me to make something toxic work, to be perfect for someone who didn't care about me. It's only once you a free from the situation, that you realise how messed up the situation really was, and that's exactly what happened to me. I won't go into mammoth detail, and there are things only a handful of my closest friends and family know, but it was a very hard time for me. All I hope is that if you are unhappy with something in your life, and you are being completely clouded by negativity and loosing sight of who you are because of how someone else treats you, please have a long hard think. We only get one chance at life, and you deserve nothing but happiness and to be surrounded by people who bring out the best in you. From August onwards, this is exactly what I did.

I feel as though I am cheating somewhat by starting my year from August instead of January, but really, that is where my year began, and everything turned around for me, and I became Zoe again (as cheesy as that sounds, I was beginning to get my spark back).  Bad part of the year now out the way, let's get onto the good things that made it the best year ever...

Louise turned 25 again this year, and we celebrated in her hometown with Fleur. It was a night filled with girly chatter, pervy men, big fluttery eyelashes, cake and giggles. Although it was very touch and go about whether I'd be able to go into a crowded club and stay there for longer than 5 minutes without dashing to the door, both girls made me feel okay about the situation, and I actually managed to stay out the whole night without a trace of anxiety. Win.

Joe started making YouTube videos and we both embarked on the YouTube journey together. It's one thing sitting making videos chatting away to yourself, thinking that your family probably think you are a complete nutter, but it's so cool to actually discover that they think what you're doing is amazing, and they are proud of you. I loved that Joe decided to give it a whirl too, and he's doing amazingly! You can go to his YouTube channel HERE. He can't think making videos is uncool if he's doing it too! ;) 

One of my favourite days of the whole year, was when Louise, Tiyana and Darcy came to stay at mine, and we went to Longleat for the day. Longleat is a safari and amusement park here in the South West. The day completely cheered me up and we all has such an amazing time that I forgot what being sad was! 

This year, I feel that although we were already such great friends, our friendship was cemented and Louise and I became the best of friends. You only ever see us larking about in videos together, exchanging banter on twitter and uploading still images on Instagram, but beneath all that, Louise was the one person this year that was there for me no matter what. I never felt alone because I always knew she was just a phone call away at any time, and she was the one who helped me get my spark back, and held my hand through everything. I really don't know what I would have done without her. She knows how much I love her and value her as a friend, and that whenever she needs me i'm there for her too. If I could award a "man of the match" in terms of "best person in 2012", that would certainly go to Louise. *makes award*.

Another thing that I have loved about 2012, is seeing Darcy grow into a little lady. I know she is not my child but I care about her a lot, and I feel hugely privileged that I get to share moments of her life growing up. I love the cute little moments Louise shares with her too (like the one pictured below). Darcy now gets excited when I arrive to stay, sad when I leave and looks for me in the dining room (where i sleep on a sofa bed) when I'm not there. It melts my heart. They are both my two favourite ladies, and never cease to put a huge smile on my face. 

At the end of the year, I decided to say yes to more things. This resulted in me going to YouTube parties and more events (like Summer In The City), meeting other youtubers and viewers and really feeling a huge sense of involvement. Through this I also made friends with so many other people who I value very highly in my life now. You know when you just meet people, and spend a lot of time with them, and you instantly all click because you all have so much in common? That's exactly what happened. I never realised genuine, honest, nice people were so easy to find, and this was so refreshing after the horrid start to the year. I was spending time with people that brought out the best in me and made me feel happy!

I also said "yes" to going to Reading Festival for the day. No accomplishment for a lot of you, but for me it was a big deal. I went with my brother and met up with Alfie (Pointlessblog) and had an amazing day/night. I got to see one my favourite bands Two Door Cinema Club, but most importantly felt a huge sense of accomplishment that i'd managed to go to something like this and not run away in a panic. I stayed, and I enjoyed myself. 

Louise and I took a trip up to Manchester to visit our fellow blogging friend El (AThriftyMrs). I had never ventured that far north in my brum brum before, but the journey up, the day there and the journey back were all so memorable for me. I laughed all day with friends. It's certainly a day that really sticks out for me. El is one of the loveliest people you will ever meet. She is so warm and genuine and such a giggle! (her blog is also one of my all time favourites). Louise and I also had a 2.5 hour singing and bopping session in the car on the way up, where Louise was singing "call me maybe" to fellow lorry drivers as I giggled in the drivers seat. The journey home was also something I will always remember, as we had one of those really deep, meaningful conversations that last 3 hours but feel like you've been talking for 10 minutes. My favourite kind! 

Come September I went to London Fashion Week (on my own - WOAH THERE) and spent the day snapping away at pretty people with amazing hair, faces and clothes. I also met up with my fellow blogging chum Lily (What I Heart Today) where we took London Fashion Week posing to the next level. P.S. Lily's blog has been one of my 2012 favourite reads so do go over and see for yourself.

I bit the bullet and uploaded a video surrounding everything anxiety and panic attack related. I was very nervous to upload this video, as writing feelings down is a lot easier than speaking them out loud, and it made me feel very vulnerable and exposed. I think it's easy for people to forget that underneath videos and blogposts, I am a normal girl with problems just like you, I just don't always talk about them. The response I received from the video was so overwhelming that it actually brought many a tear to my eye.  I would even go as far as saying I feel like it was my biggest achievement of the year, because it meant that I got to help so many of you, and that's what really meant the most to me. I knew that if it helped just one of you, it was 100% worth it. Just turns out that I helped a lot more than one person and you will never understand just how much comfort that brings me :)

Towards the end of the year, we went to the DailyMix launch party. 5 of us all stayed in a hotel in London and really made the most of our night. It was so fun getting to spend the evening surrounded by amazing friends and swanky drinks and canap├ęs. Beauty/YouTube events were something I used to love going to since 2010, but with my recent bad bout of anxiety they almost seemed like a thing of the past so I was excited that I managed to stay out and have a hoot with all my favourite people!

 Photo by Paul Monckton

So there we have it, the best and worst year of my life all rolled into one blog post. Thank you all for joining me on my journey, for leaving me an abundance of amazing comments, messages and emails throughout my entire social networking-dom and for supporting me through the hard times and the good times. I'm so pleased that I get to share the things I get up to with you all, and I wouldn't change that for the world. Massive hugs to those of you who have been here at the beginning in 2009 and to those of you who may have just started watching or reading in 2013 and also everyone in between. I hope you all had an amazing year and that you if you didn't, you learnt from it and 2013 will be a fresh start for you.

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013