Monday 25 May 2015

My Makeup Alternatives

If you've followed me on Snapchat (pollyvdsz) for a while, you may have seen I had a big makeup clear out. This was long overdue, I'd accumulated a nauseating amount of products, many of which I hadn't touched in months. I recognised a pattern of purchasing a product, disliking it and then throwing it to the back of the draw once I'd found a better version. So in this post are a couple of examples which I hope are of interest to you. These aren't all perfect dupes, but they're my preferred alternatives. PS you might want to go make a cup of tea, it's a long'n.

The Body Shop's InstaBlur | Bourjois Happy Light Base Serum Matte | Benefit's Porefessional

First up: primers. A year or so ago I didn't know what a primer was. Forever shiny and grumbling about my foundation sliding off after 5 hours. But after watching a few months worth of YouTube beauty videos it came to my attention nearly all of them used primers. I'd heard a lot of positive comments about Benefit's Porefessional (bottom swatch) so purchased the full size (not pictured as it's grubby af) but hated it. Okay maybe hate is a strong word, but I put it on in bitterness every day. For me, when I rubbed it in, the powdery consistency turned into little bits and I had to sweep them off my face. It didn't seem to create a trust worthy layer over my skin, just an odd greasy feel that moved around when I applied foundation. After a while I let go of how much it cost and decided to look for a new primer.

I didn't pick up the Bourjois "Happy Light Base Serum Matte" *breathes* for any particular reason, I hadn't heard a thing about it but I owned and liked the Healthy Mix foundation, and you know, brand loyalty. Again, I didn't get on with it at all. The liquid formula created a layer which rubbed off into bits as I buffed in my foundation. Primers became a sour topic. I had almost resigned myself to a long life of shiny nose until Velvetgh0st passionately proclaimed her love for Insta Blur by The Body Shop (top swatch). I remember putting this off for a very long time as I'd never tried their makeup products, but my god was it worth it. This is what a primer should be. Easily blended, it creates a (non powdery or sticky) layer between your skin and foundation, leaving your skin smooth and soft. My T zone still gets slightly oily towards the 7 hour mark, but that's probably my issue. I would HIGHLY recommend this product if you're looking to get into primers, or need a new one!

Maybelline 24h Colour Tattoo in On and on Bronze | Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in Birthday Suit

Onto cream eyeshadows. It's not news that the Maybelline 24hr Colour Tattoos are good. This is more of a... "maybe don't bother spending loads on the Benefit version because if anything it wears off quicker and I can't discern any unique traits that justify the greater price." Personally I do prefer warmer tones to cool, so "On and on Bronze" suits me more than "Birthday Suit", but that's only one factor. Another is that the colour tattoo seems to go further. It's a darker colour so can blend out to a light gold and be packed on as a deeper brown. To me, Benefit's cream shadows come in a more wearable range of colours than the colour tattoos, and are still lovely as a product, but if you're going to go for a shimmery golden brown, be thrifty.

Mac Paint Pot in Painterly | Benefit Stay Don't Stray in light/medium

We had face primers, so onto eye primer! Mac's paint pots are well loved by many, and I've seen "Painterly" mentioned a couple of times, always positively. It's good to use a nude base under your eyeshadows so the colours pop, and this shade suits my complexion perfectly. I don't actually think it's designed to be a primer, but that's what I bought it as. With this in mind I found my eyeshadow didn't stay on perfectly all day, so picked up the Stay Don't Stray which you can tell from the name is actually a primer. I love the applicator, the fact the liquid quickly dries to a sturdy, nude matte base, but although it's better than not using one, my eyeshadow still wears off after a while.

So this one is tricky because to me they're both lovely and worth purchasing, but that it's not worth owning both. Personally I prefer putting on the Stay Don't Stray as it's a liquid so doesn't drag my eyelids (anyone else starting to get paranoid about causing prematurely baggy skin around the eyes?!) but does dry matte. It's very rare for me not to wear eyeshadow these days, but if I was opting for mascara only look, I would definitely use the paint pot.

Maybelline Brow Drama in Dark Brown | Benefit Gimmie Brow in Medium/Deep

And finally, another Maybelline vs Benefit face off. Annoyingly enough I purchased my preferred of the two first; the Maybelline Brow Drama. I remember these eyebrow "mascaras" being a bit of a fad last summer, so when I saw one in person for the reasonable price of £4.99 I picked it up. The ball on the end makes it easy to comb through brow hairs and the colour isn't too pigmented so is mostly for taming them caterpillars. I don't know what possessed me to pick up the Gimmie Brow a year later but I did. This product adds more of a colour and again locks your hairs into place all day. The applicator makes it difficult for me to avoid adding on too much dark brown, but I can imagine it being great for brunettes! I agree with comments I had on Instagram a while ago that brow mascaras are best for those with thick eyebrows as they define the hairs and keep them in place. I would recommend the Maybelline version purely because it's an equally great product and MUCH cheaper!


So there they are, my alternatives. Of course this is all based on my experience, face and makeup technique so do let me know if you actually prefer the ones I dismissed and why! Thank you for reading :)

Polly xo


Sunday 10 May 2015

Outfit Photos For Beginners

Today I shot some outfit photos for my gorgeous friend Beth (her post is coming soon) and she kindly offered to do the same for me! These photos were intended for something else I'm working on but after this post idea popped into my head, I couldn't wait.

Cardigan, top and bra - Urban Outfitters | Watch - Daniel Wellington | Macbook Skin - Sighh | Jeans - Topshop | Necklace was a custom gift | Bracelet - American Apparel

I thought I'd start this with a little disclaimer: I'm not pretending to be an expert. I'm simply here as an awkward beginner, comforting other awkward beginners. It's difficult to know where the hell to start, and easy to be put off after an unsuccessful first try. This is me going through what I found hard, and possible solutions.

1) You can't see what you look like. This is a problem. We can all take a good mirror selfie, alone in a changing room, with 20 minutes to lean around in various flattering positions... but blindly positioning yourself for the perfect shot that someone else is taking is a whole other deal. Beth, bless her, was taking a load of photos of me looking like a robot that needed the toilet because I just didn't know how to hold myself. I got too insecure and couldn't make it work (I forgot where my hands naturally fall) so had the idea of flipping up the view finder so I could see myself. This left Beth totally oblivious to what the photo looked like, but I got into a pose I liked and told her when to take the shots. Not all cameras have this feature, but if you do I think it's good for practicing! It got me back into my comfort zone.

2) Good photoshoots need planning. How did Beth's shots turn out so great? Not only does she have the gift of beauty but she knew exactly what she wanted for the photos. Going into a shoot blindly, hoping for the best, is unlikely to result in a blog post's worth of high quality photos. We sourced a nice, clean background, and know a couple of pretty doorways for the future. I think matching a colour in your outfit to something in the background looks incredible, but that can take a lot of foresight. In the beginning it's a good idea to look at how other bloggers take their photos, but having a unique style is the ultimate goal.

3) Communication. As the photographer, it's important to listen to what the subject wants before you begin, and then have the confidence to take over and direct them ("lift your arm up" "look that way, no the other way" "wait for the wind to pass, your hair is attacking you"). I specified I wanted a few landscape, neck to middle thigh photos and some up close of my chest to lips. This makes it easier for them to help you out and direct your posture. However the photographer should keep talking, telling you what part of your body they're focusing on so you can concentrate on that and not worry about your hair blowing over your face etc etc.

4) Body confidence. We don't all have it, I thought I did but it's hard to keep up when you see yourself from unflattering angles! For this you should probably posey pose in front of the mirror at home to learn your best angles, so you don't waste time during the shoot. Notice I haven't taken any full length photos -I don't think you need to! Maybe a shot of my shoes would have tied it together nicer but they were a bit muddy, so let's forgive. Full body shots are for pros who know what they're doing. Maybe one day I'll manage one!

5) Take your time. If you're a beginner, you're probably not going to take your best photos within the first minute. Me & Beth took just over an hour to hang out, experiment with shots and retake until we were happy. I have DOZENS of outtakes and managed to find the above spread throughout them!

So that's what I've struggled with myself, and I hope the post was kinda useful to anyone going through the same, or wanting to. I think I prefer being behind the camera but who doesn't want decent photos of themselves every now and then? Do let me know if it was as hard for you in the beginning & how you got over it!

Polly xo

Saturday 2 May 2015

My Lush Collection

I've just spent an hour of my evening, crouched in a bath tub, photographing this lot. What are your hobbies like?

Today I'll be going through the little Lush collection I've accumulated over the past few months, and discussing how I've found them. I think Lush is a wonderful company from their ethics to their branding and sometimes you need some natural, calming goodness.

Summer is coming, and this year I am going to wear backless tops without feeling self conscious. Want to know why? MASK OF MAGNAMINTY. This is a mask you can apply to your face, chest and back to sooth and clear skin. I don't have acne, and have never been prone to spots except for on my back since I was 15. Shower gels and brutal exfoliating with flannels didn't help so I hid myself under cardigans all summer. Sun does help, a great deal, but sunburn on spots is horrible. After using this two or three times I noticed a massive difference. Being naturally preserving, mine lasted for three months! Definitely worth your money.

Always on the look out for a shower gel who's scent will linger on my skin all day, I opted for a mini version of "It's Raining Men". It smells like honey, but not sickly sweet. You can scent your body and hair with this (it lingers on the hair well!) and I also run it into the bath which creates LOADS of bubbles.

I'm not really a bath bomb addict, preferring a soothing bubble bath or oil over glitter and fizzing, but every couple of weeks I pick one up as a little treat after a long day at work. This "Honey Bee" smells lovely. I also love the "Yuzu and Coca" Bubbleroon as it smells divine, produces lots of bubbles and I get up to four uses out of it.

I've always struggled with a sensitive, flakey scalp and throughout adolescence used anti dandruff shampoo like Head & Shoulders. However after opting for my fake dark roots (NEWS FLASH, I'm a mousey blonde masquerading as a natural brunette with blonde ends) I had to switch to "colour protect" hair products, which flared me up every few weeks. Itching my way into town and scared of more chemicals, I headed for Lush. I was recommended "Super Balm" and now here comes my mixed review...

It works. It definitely calmed down my skin; the itchy irritation vanished right after use and what little flakiness I had, vanished. However, both times I've used this (yes only twice.. for £12) it's left my roots in a ridiculously greasy, thick, hard state. I once used it the evening before work and woke up with hair that weighed a ton and looked matted. It took two rounds of shampoo to make the slightest difference and I was horribly self conscious for the whole day! This is also a preservative free product, and upon opening the tin for a photo I realised it had moulded and had to be chucked out.

The probability is I've been using it wrong. The reviews on the website are incredibly positive, which I can agree with as it's exactly what you need on an irritated scalp... but the side affects suck. If I was to repurchase, as I probably would in an emergency, I'd ask an employee exactly how to prevent greasy hair and keep the tub in the fridge.

After reading Helen's Lush mini haul which included this "Big" shampoo I decided to give it a go. It's salt based, which claims to volumise as well as soften. Like hell does it volumise. Okay, I have extremely flat hair, which may defy the most volumising of volumisers, but I was really hoping this would work. It does however leave my hair the softest it's been in months, and shiny for the fist time EVER which I'm super happy about, so I'm definitely using it up. The formula is packed with salt, which isn't the nicest to step on in the shower, so keep that in mind before you topple over in surprise. 

So that's it from me! I've had and loved other products, but I think this post is long enough without me reminiscing on skin care that once was. What are your favourite Lush products and why? Does anybody know of a scalp soothing, colour protecting shampoo & conditioner? Help a girl out.

Polly xo

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