Rosy Cheeks

By now it’s no secret that I’m completely obsessed with Lush, and one thing that I love is that every time you bring back 5 (clean!) empty black pots into store, they give you a free Fresh Face Mask of your choice.

After storing up my pots, I decided to try something new, rather than opting for my usual BB Seaweed, I thought I would try something new and picked up a pot of Rosy Cheeks.

The day after a party, and on an unpleasantly muggy day, I was eager to try out this soothing mask. Because these are fresh masks, you keep them in the fridge, and the cooling sensation was very welcome feature.

Although Rose Petal Infusion and Rose Oil are amongst the ingredients, the mask has a very light, fresh scent, a relief for someone who isn’t overly keen on floral scents.

Another active ingredient is Calamine Powder. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I distinctly remember my mum smothering calamine lotion on me when ever I caught the sun or had a particularly bad patch of childhood eczema, so I already knew that this was a fantastic ingredient for soothing the skin and calming down redness. I often get patches of redness in my cheeks, particularly on a warm day (or after a couple of drinks), and have found that the mixture of the mask coming straight from the fridge and the Calamine Powder help bring that redness down instantly.

Now if you’re anything like me, you’ll find the drying down of a face mask weirdly satisfying, and you won’t be disappointed! After about 10 minutes this mask has dried down, but not in a flaky way, more of a tacky layer where you can still actually move your face (a bonus in my book).

It only takes a couple of splashes under the tap to remove this, and I would recommend using cool water – after all, you don’t want to undo all that cooling straight away!

After wiping the mask away, my skin feels soothed and refreshed, the redness has left my cheeks and my usually very uneven skin tone is much less blotchy. This mask gives a matte finish, which is something I really enjoy as I tend to have a very oily T zone. It also works in removing leftover makeup residue if you’re as rubbish as removing it as I am!

I’m so glad I stepped outside my comfort zone and tried something new. I can be pretty fussy with face masks, but Rosy Cheeks is definitely going to become a regular in my beauty regime!

Jessica

xXx

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13 Reasons Why: A Conversation with Emily Holyoake

It seems like this has been a long time coming, my sister and I have had numerous conversations about 13 Reasons Why, so we thought we would sit down and record one of our discussions. Spoiler alert: we’re not huge fans.

Why did you watch 13 Reasons Why?

Jess: I’m just obsessed with Netflix, to be honest, and everyone was banging on about it.

Emily: This wasn’t one where people started saying ‘you have to watch this’ and I resisted it, because I usually do – I still haven’t watched Stranger Things, it took me about three years to watch House of Cards. But for some reason, 13 Reasons Why looked like it would be my sort of thing. And I think as well, I saw a lot of people saying ‘it’s so important’, ‘everyone must watch this’, and it looked like it had some sort of nobler purpose to it which I thought was quite interesting. And I definitely- I think I recommended it to you and I asked if you were watching it a lot.

Jess: Yeah, you kept asking me ‘are you watching 13 Reasons Why yet?’ and then I finally watched it in about a day, because there’s only 13 episodes of it. (Obviously).

Emily: So you did what the character doesn’t do, and you binged it all at once. Whereas, I spread it out- not because I couldn’t have binged it- I probably could have watched it all in one sitting if I had had the time to do it.

Jess: Yes, whereas I have no life.

Emily: So apparently in the book, he gets the tapes and he listens to them all at once, and the book takes place all in one night. Whereas for the TV series they decided to do this thing of breaking it up and have him going and confronting people as and when he found stuff out. And everybody else then saying to him ‘well you don’t know the whole story yet’, ‘why haven’t you listened to your- you haven’t even listened to your tape!’ And making the point that everybody else is shouting at the TV – ‘just finish listening to them!’

 

Do you think you’re the target audience for 13 Reasons Why?

Jess: Absolutely not. I’ve said this from the beginning, you know, 16/17 year old Jess would have absolutely loved it and been completely obsessed with it and just been like ‘I love Clay so much’ and ‘everyone’s so misunderstood’ and ‘I’m so misunderstood!’

Emily: Which character would you have liked best when you were 16?

Jess: Clay. Yeah, probably. I’m not sure, I don’t particularly like Hannah and I don’t know if I would have liked Hannah 7/8 years ago either.

Emily: I also really don’t think I’m the target audience for it. Although I don’t know whether Netflix thinks in ‘target audiences’… I think this is a problem with 13 Reasons Why and generally with Netflix – there’s either the kids section or there’s the rest of Netflix. And I think there’s something dangerous about streaming in that it really gets rid of ratings. They didn’t put those content warnings on until it had already been up for a couple of weeks at least.

Jess: Oh! Really?!

Emily: I can’t remember what stage they put them on, because by the time we got to it they were there, but those content warnings weren’t up to start with.

Jess: Oh yeah, I’m just looking here: “Netflix has announced it will add a content warning to its original series “13 Reasons Why” after multiple mental health advocacy groups and parents expressed concerns with its graphic depiction of suicide.” To not even think about that in the first place completely baffles me.

Emily: So these characters are … 16 to start with and then 17. I’m happy with 16/17 year olds watching it. I’m worried that it’s also appealing to teenagers a lot younger than that.

Jess: Yeah and without a parental lock on something, Netflix isn’t going to be like ‘are you sure you want to watch this?!’ It has a content warning at the beginning, but no one really reads those anyway.

Emily: And it’s only on some episodes too.

Jess: It’s definitely on the first episode, because I remember being really impressed that it had a content warning, but I didn’t know it wasn’t on there originally. That’s crap.

 

Why do you think people are saying ‘it’s so important’?

Emily: So I guess people are saying it’s important because it’s opening discussions. It’s definitely one of those series that everybody’s been talking about. People have spoken about the portrayal of depression in it and whether that’s effective or not, they’ve spoken about the representations of rape and whether those are truthful, accurate, helpful. I think it’s got a lot of discussion points in it, and it just about skirts around feeling like a public service announcement to watch- it doesn’t feel like it’s about ‘bullying’ or ‘abuse’ or ‘harassment’- I think it speaks on the same level as its audience. I’m still slightly uncomfortable with how graphic it is, but I don’t know whether that’s because I’m looking at it through a more adult lens. So I think people are saying it’s important because it’s starting conversations. I’m not convinced it’s starting the conversations it intended to.

Jess: Actually what’s been surprising is that it’s starting conversations amongst parents and their kids, which is great if it makes parents more open to talking about things like that.

Emily: It portrays parents very badly though. It portrays adults as not being able to on any level understand teenagers, which is not particularly fair. And it’s also saying to teenagers ‘the adults in your life don’t understand you, and when you ask for help they won’t be capable of giving you that help’. Because everybody that Hannah asks for help, everybody that Clay asks for help, is crap at it. There is no example in that whole series of an adult actually being able to help one of those teenagers. It wouldn’t have taken much to just have one person who didn’t fail. And Keiko Agena’s character? She’s like a communications teacher- she’s awful! How has she got a job?!

Jess: Mrs Bradley.

Emily: I mean, where did she get her qualifications?! I can’t believe that that’s actually a class.

 

Why do you think 13 Reasons Why could potentially be dangerous?

Jess: I have so many issues with this show. Speaking as someone who has had both relationships and friendships with people who have had depression, and as someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression in my own life and still does now, I think it’s incredibly dangerous to have a programme that’s centred on the suicide of a teenage girl and not to touch on the idea that there’s some mental health issues going on as well. It is entirely placing the blame on other people, on external factors, and yes of course all of those people have contributing factors, all of those events did, but it doesn’t touch on the fact that she probably was pre-disposed to a mental health issue that wasn’t address at all. Not once. I don’t know if I’ve completely missed a whole episode where they did that?! But to just kind of gloss over it in the way that they did, and make out that suicide is entirely blamed on people and their individual actions and not have mental health as a contributing factor- I don’t understand why they wouldn’t have touched on it. It’s such a big deal, especially now there’s a huge percentage of young adults who have some kind of mental health issue. To not touch on it… I don’t know why they haven’t done it and I think they’ve missed a trick there. That’s what young people want to see, that kind of thing being addressed.

Emily: Yeah you’re right, they missed the opportunity. It opens discussions about depression externally to itself, but within it, they really do shy away from using any terminology like ‘mental health’, ‘anxiety’, ‘depression’; they really shy away from using the words. I remember one scene that really confused me was that scene where Clay’s parents give him his prescription again, and we’re given the idea that Clay has suffered from some sort of anxiety, but we’re not given any context for it. We’re shown him with a bottle of pills, experiencing some symptoms and this idea that he’s over it and it’s in his past and we don’t have to talk about it again.

Jess: Yeah, ‘he’s taking these pills… DOT DOT DOT’.

Emily: In some ways that’s interesting and subtle story-telling and in some ways that’s being wussy about labelling things.

Jess: It’s laziness.

Emily: I think what you said is right, and that the whole premise of the show is that if you are feeling depressed, if you are feeling sad, if you are having suicidal thoughts then you should look externally to yourself, because it’s other people’s fault. The actions of other people obviously contribute and the stresses in your life can certainly trigger depression and make it worse. And people do need to be more aware of their impact on other people. But considering it’s a show that is entirely narrated by Hannah, I don’t think I really ever got to grips with how Hannah was feeling. For most of it she just seemed like this… vengeful angel.

Jess: It made me not like her.

Emily: One of the big sticking points for me was that she outed the rape of somebody else. That was for Jessica to deal with in the way that she wanted to, and Hannah takes that away from her. Because the show is quite clear that Jessica remembers it and is repressing it, she doesn’t need Justin to tell her what happened, she does know what happened. But Hannah outs her, which… there’s a lot that they do that makes Hannah not particularly sympathetic and identifiable with.

Jess: And they could have done so much with that character, it’s disappointing.

 

Are they any characters you particularly liked?

Jess: Tony.

Emily: I was convinced for most of this series that Tony wasn’t real, and that he was some sort of angel or imaginary figure that Clay had made up.

Jess: And I thought he was dead. Or that Clay was dead. And they were ghosts. Illuminati confirmed.

Emily: Yes, I was disappointed as Tony interacted with other human beings and it became clear that he wasn’t just a figment of Clay’s imagination!

Jess: Even Hannah didn’t seem to have any redeeming qualities that made me like her.

Emily: I have a problem that the male characters were much more active than the female characters –  the whole show is ‘Woman In The Refrigerator’, that trope of a male character being motivated to do something important with his life and make an impact because a woman has died. Considering as well, the stats may be different with teenagers, but in adults the rate of suicide in men is so much higher – it would have been a very different show if it had been a teenage boy at the centre of it who had taken his own life.

 

How do you think the show dealt with self harm?

Jess: I had to watch that bit twice, because I could not believe how much they glossed over… Clay sees Skye’s arms covered in scars and she says ‘it’s what you do instead of killing yourself’.

Emily: And she says something about how that is strength, and what Hannah did was weak. YEAH.

Jess: I was so shocked. ‘It’s what you do instead of killing yourself.’ And then that’s it.

Emily: Skye was such a screaming stereotype.

Jess: She’s this emo, she’s eternally angry, she writes poetry…

Emily: She works in a coffee shop and reads tarot cards-

Both: And she self harms!

Emily: And then of course she turns out to be the girl that Clay should be friends with because she’s also the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’! She’s just a collection of stereotypes.  You have this sort of mishmash of characters. Take Justin, who on the surface is the popular, jock-y, sporty one, very charming, very good with women, and then he goes home to a really shitty home environment and you kind of see that how he is at school is a façade and how he’s clearly a lot more sensitive… there are some characters in there that start off feeling like stereotypes and then get unpicked a little bit.

Jess: There’s these kind of issues-

Emily: Alcoholism…

Jess: -that are addressed in a way that you see them happening, but they’re never actually resolved or dealt with constructively.  So this kid is really hurting in a really relatable way, but we’re not going to deal with it at all.

Emily: Because the moral of 13 Reasons Why is ‘if we could all just be a little bit nicer to each other’… but being a little bit nicer to each other doesn’t actually address alcohol abuse or having a crappy home life where you go home and get beaten up, it doesn’t address the causes of self harm – being a bit nicer to each other. Self harm is not the same thing as suicidal thoughts – one does not necessarily lead to the other. And one is not an alternative to the other.

Jess: Just reading this from The Tab: “Speaking of which – Skye, the one character with scars, tells Clay ‘it’s what you do instead of killing yourself’. Where’s her recovery? What sort of message is this sending to the millions of young adults watching this show? Not everyone who commits suicides shows signs, granted. Almost all suicides are described as ‘shocking’. But is the word ‘depression’ ever uttered once in all 13 episodes?”

 

How do you think the show dealt with rape?

Emily: The thing that I realised recently about the rape scenes and why they piss me off – so I recently watched Three Girls, which is the BBC’s dramatization of the Rochdale child-grooming case, and I think that… it’s not gratuitous at all. The rape scenes in that… there’s one that we actually see on screen. We don’t see any flesh, we see a man taking off a young girl’s jeans, we see her crying, you hear her saying no, and then you see shots of the room. You don’t hear any sex noises… you don’t hear him orgasming. You don’t see any sex. There is no way that you can confuse rape with sex. The actual shots never confuse it. It’s rape. It’s definitely rape.

13 Reasons Why shoots rape scenes from the perspective of the male gaze. And makes them look like sex scenes. Because we see them in soft lighting, we see fingertips under bra straps, we see pants being taken off, the rape of Hannah happens in a hot tub which is traditionally a romantic setting and she’s already in her underwear. We hear sex noises. We see thrusting. And it’s all from the male perspective of it, even though I think it was trying to be the female perspective… But honestly if it was going to do what a girl might see or experience during rape, it could have been a shot looking up, or looking at the side of the hot tub, rather than looking at Hannah’s hands, looking at Hannah’s face, her lips, her bra straps, her shoulders. There are ways that you can film those scenes that make it feel like it’s from the woman’s perspective.

Jess: I don’t think that rape scenes should be censored at all, but it was very much male-orientated.

Emily: Those scenes were shot in a way that feel titillating. And if you took them out of context, it could just be soft porn. It could just be rough sex.

Jess: I think, the one rape scene I have seen depicted on television that has stuck with me for years, and does every time I watch it, is the attempted rape of Buffy by Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That in my mind is the truest, most honest depiction of sexual assault that I have seen in any programme or film.

Emily: Yeah, and you think about the differences. So that scene – it’s bright, harsh light –

Jess: There’s no airy-fairy music in the background, it’s silent in the background. It’s taking place in her own home, her own bathroom.

Emily: Yeah, and it’s clumsy as well, and the camera… you don’t have arty shots of bits of body parts, it doesn’t break it up at all. And the fight that they have is clumsy.

Jess: This is a woman who’s supposed to be essentially a superhero.

Emily: Yeah, so it still addresses that it’s not about who the woman is – anybody can become a victim. It doesn’t make any difference if that man has made the decision to rape. And they use the word over and over again. That’s something to give 13 Reasons Why credit for- they really explicitly call Bryce a rapist. That is actually resolved. It’s funny that that’s resolved and none of the mental health stuff is. The physical actions have consequences, but the internal stuff doesn’t.

 

What are your opinions on the way suicide is depicted?

Emily: Well I didn’t watch it. When it came to that point in that episode, I skipped through it. I got to the point where she took razor blades out of the cupboard and then thought, nope. Too much for me.

Jess: I watched it. I sat through that and watched it. For me it was very triggering… It was incredibly graphic… I still am in two minds about whether it was good that it was shown like that or whether maybe it shouldn’t have been.

Emily: Well why d’you think they did it? In terms of what they were trying to say about suicide?

Jess: I think it was basically a ‘this is how you can kill yourself’ scene. Which with a younger audience is, I think, irresponsible to show that in such detail.

Emily: There’s an instructional kind of aspect here where you see that she’s running a bath, you see that she’s getting an actual packet of razor blades – you see what tools she uses and how she does it.

Jess: It’s all very methodical and kind of normalised in the way that she’s doing it. If that’s the way they’re going to depict it then they also need to address why she’s treating it like it’s normal.

Emily: Yeah, it’s like, we’re not going to into the reasons why a person with depression – which we still have not said that she has – would not express emotions in the way that you would expect them to. She just has this flattened affect without any explanation, so it just seems like it’s normal, she has no reaction to it.

Jess: And it’s like with the rape scenes, the lighting is there, there’s music in the background, it’s all very glamorised. It just doesn’t feel right, it could have been done in a better way. They could still have shown the suicide but in a better way.

Emily: I think the whole show is not really communicating the impact of death. It’s a version of death where you get to still impact on people – we’re given this idea that Hannah is watching them, that Hannah gets to have some sort of active involvement in their lives even after she’s died.

Jess: It makes you feel like she could come back.

Emily: And again, to use a Buffy example, when they show a real human death in that, when Joyce dies, they have an episode that uses no incidental music, that is bright and harsh –

Jess: It’s all one take, you see Buffy vomit, it’s not glamourous.

Emily: It’s dealing with paramedics, it’s trying to give somebody CPR and hearing their ribs break because you’ve done it wrong. Whereas Hannah’s death happens in dim light and the parent rush in and they start crying and then it fades out, and then the ambulance comes and then it fades out again.

Jess: They don’t see it through.

Emily: They do a lot of reporting on what it was like but we don’t hear, see, experience a real death. And considering that it is trying so hard to demonstrate the real impact of suicide, it doesn’t have that effect.

 

Any positives to take away from the show?

Jess: I liked the music. The music was good.

Emily: Let’s hear it for the music.

Jess: I think some of the acting was great. It got people talking as well. I think it was good in theory, but it was poorly executed and there were things that needed to be addressed and resolved that weren’t.

Emily: I think this is what happens when you make a series out of something that is already ten years out of date, because I really think that understanding of and attitudes towards mental health have changed a lot in the last ten years, even in the last five years. I don’t think there’s a lot they could have done to this core story to make it what it needed to be, because if you take away all of the stuff that we had problems with – actually we just have a real problem with the set-up of the plot. We have a real problem with this idea that there are only external reasons for committing suicide. So if that’s what that source material is, why choose that to adapt? Because it’s hopelessly out of date already. It’s not serving its audience.

Feeling Like Me Again

Over the past six months or so, I’ve been battling with the worst self-image issues I’ve encountered in my life. I’ve felt out of shape, unattractive and just generally really crap about myself.

There was a time when I was one of those really annoying girls who could eat whatever she wanted, do no exercise whatsoever and remain a perfect size 8 (I think the fact that I didn’t really hit puberty until I was 17 may have helped with this somewhat). Well, not any more! I have a shape. A shape that has become increasingly hard to maintain and be happy with.

I’ll be the first to admit that my diet could be better. I’m lactose intolerant but often completely ignore it, and then I’m surprised when I feel bloated and lumpy. I know bread is my nemesis, but sometimes I just cant help eating eleven slices of it as a snack. It got to the point in August when I would look in the mirror and feel disgusted. And I laugh and joke about it, but to look in the mirror and actually feel repulsed by your own body is truly devastating.

Around the same time, something wonderful happened. My sister’s fiancé started a personal training course, and I volunteered to be his guinea pig. So in September 2016, I finally started to take ownership of the state I had let my body get into, and do something about it. I train with him twice a week, and try to fit in an extra cardio session or two on my own. We’ve discovered that I’ll do anything to get out of doing a plank, but that I have freakishly strong hamstrings.

When you start training, you always have a ‘problem area’ or two that you really want to focus on. Mine were my upper arms and the old love handles/back fat. My housemate commented to me a couple of weeks ago that my arms had halved in size, and I genuinely could not stop smiling. I dug out a pair of jeans over Christmas that I haven’t been able to wear in over a year, and found that they actually fit again. Plus, there’s the added bonus of my butt. I have a butt. An actual, nicely-shaped, kind of peachy butt. I never had one before!

Now annoyingly, I didn’t take a photo of myself right at the beginning of the process. But here’s a photo of me taken at the end of October next to one taken three weeks later (and half a stone lighter):

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Seriously. My trainer is an actual magician.

I’m still working at it, but this morning after months of telling my sister that I don’t want to shop for Maid of Honour dresses for her wedding until I’m happy with my body, I told her that I wanted to start looking. It might seem small, but that’s a huge fucking deal for me.

I’ll be taking another progress photo and updating you all in a couple of weeks when my soon-to-be brother-in-law’s exam is, to see exactly how far I’ve come while he’s been training to qualify as a PT. But for now, I’m off to stare at my butt in workout pants.

If any of you are interested in a training plan tailored to your lifestyle, or you’re Devon-based and want some one-on-one training sessions with an incredibly patient man, then you can get in touch with Ben Gilbert on Instagram @realbengilbert If he can train me, he can train anyone.

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Brows On Fleek

IMG_5775.JPGSo unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, if you’re into beauty you’ll know that Benefit have finally launched their new brow range last week! It includes some old favourites that have had a bit of a makeover, and some brand new products. All of these are available in more shades than ever, perfect for people like me who struggle to find a perfect brow match.

Now although Benefit are classed as a high street make up brand, their products aren’t exactly cheap, so instead of breaking the bank and buying all 9 products, I settled for 4, 2 of which are already firm favourites in my daily make up routine.

I also bagged myself a lovely free passport cover and two free mini benebalms when I ordered online with Boots!

First up, my all time favourite brow product: Brow Zings (RRP £24.50)

FullSizeRender (1).jpg“Three steps to amazing brows… this pocket-size compact includes everything you need!”

Yes, this product is pretty expensive, but I have to remember that in over a year of daily use, I’ve actually not even come close to using up my old one.

I went for shade 2, which is suitable for people with darker blonde hair. I was debating going for shade 1, because my hair gets a lots lighter in the summer, but I’m so glad I went for this one after seeing the shades in store (1 looks a little too warm for my hair colour!)

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Firstly, I love the packaging. It looks completely different to the old Brow Zings, and I’m all for giving old favourites a little revamp!

Inside you’ll find the much-loved wax and powder, as well as a new and improved mirror, the handy pair of tweezers, and two brushes that fold out and clip together to create a longer handle to give you more control – this attention to detail is what sets Benefit apart from other brands.

Brow Zings is perfect for everyday brows, especially if, like me, your brows are extremely sparse and patchy, left over from the over-plucking phase of the early 2000s (RIP eyebrows).

Next up, Gimme Brow (RRP £18.50)

FullSizeRender (7).jpg“Poof… fuller-looking brows magically appear! This brush-on gel contains tiny microfibres that adhere to skin & hairs, creating natural-looking fullness and definition.”

Another firm favourite of mine, I was recently introduced to Gimme Brow when a Benefit make up artist approached me in my local Boots and asked if she could try a few products out on me. I was so impressed with this fibre gel, not only does it hold your brows in place all day (mine have a habit of being extremely unruly without it!), but it actually has a thickening effect, making it seem like you have hairs where, in my case, there aren’t.

FullSizeRender (8).jpgThere are only 3 shades available in this product, so I apprehensively went for shade 1 thinking it would be a little too light, but actually it’s almost exactly the same as the old light/medium shade I normally use.

You can use this product on it’s own (I tend to do this when I’m going to the gym and don’t want to wear make up, but don’t want to look like an alien with no eyebrows!) or over the top of something like Brow Zings to set your brows in place.

Thirdly, Ka-Brow! (RRP £18.50)

FullSizeRender (3).jpg

“Brush on rich, wearable colour! This cream-gel fills, sculpts & defines brows… and comes with a custom built-in brush.”

A brand new product from Benefit is Ka-Brow! This is a brow cream gel, often referred to as a ‘pomade’. It looks exactly the same as a gel eyeliner, but is a much creamier consistency.

A little of this goes a long way, and it’s great for creating natural brows. You can also build on this for a more bold, dramatic look, perfect for a night out where you want everyone to envy those brows!

FullSizeRender (4).jpgThe brush pulls out the top, and attaches to the lid to create a longer handle, which is again a lovely little detail that makes the product that much more special.

At first I struggled to get any product out, but once you warm it up a little with the brush, it becomes a lot easier to apply and glides onto your brows like a dream.

I went for shade 2 again, and I’m really looking forward to playing around with this product!

Lastly, Goof Proof Brow Pencil (RRP £18.50)

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“Presto… everyone’s an expert with this super easy brow-filling & shaping pencil. Fast, full & natural-looking brows magically appear thanks to the glide-on formula, soft colour and goof-proof tip.

Now in my opinion, almost £20 is absolutely extortionate for what is essentially, an eyebrow pencil. However, this seems to be one of the new favourites amongst Benefit fans, so I thought I would give it a go, as I had some Boots advantage card points to spend, so I added shade 2 to my basket.

I love that on one end is a spoolie brush, because my eyebrows tend to go a bit werewolf-y and need a bit of taming before I apply my brows.

FullSizeRender (6).jpgThe pencil end is a thick, slanted pencil. The pointed end is for definition and the wide, flat side if for filling in your brows. It’s a nice, soft pencil, which was a relief, as a lot of brow pencils are so hard that they’re impossible to get any pigment out of!

First impressions? It’s extremely quick, so fantastic if you’re in a rush or just having a bit of a lazy make up day, but I’m not sure it’s worth £18.50, as I can’t see it lasting a very long time.

I’m completely obsessed with the look of packaging of these products – the theme and designs are unlike any beauty products on the market right now and they really stand out on your dressing table. One thing I would say is that some of them feel a little bit cheap and plasticy, something I wouldn’t expect for such high quality products.

The increase in shades available is something I’ve been most excited for about this range, and they don’t disappoint! There’s even a handy guide on the Benefit website on which shade would suit your hair colour. There’s a shade for everyone from platinum blondes to people with jet black hair. However, I would have liked to have seen an auburn/copper shade – I’m sure there’s a lot of red-headed ladies who will need to test out a couple of shades before they buy these products!

As usual with Benefit, they’ve provided handy guides on how to use each of the products, something which I’ve found extremely useful, especially with Ka-Brow!

Overall, I’m really impressed with the new products, and eventually I’d love to get my hands on the rest of the range!

Let me know what your favourites are from the new Benefit Brows range!

Jessica xXx

 

New Things Are Happening!

The past couple of weeks have been absolutely crazy, so I apologise for my complete silence on this blog! So many things have been happening, so I thought I’d give you a quick update!

IMG_5453 (2).PNGFirstly, and most excitingly, if you hadn’t already guessed from my Twitter and Instagram (or had me bang on about it to you in person) I have a new job! I’m going to be spending my summer working for the University of Exeter in the accommodation office as an Accommodation Office Administrator. It’s a bit of a mouthful, but it’s basically a Student Advisor specialising in accommodation. I’ll still be working part time in the pub (I’ve grown quite attached to it and the spare cash will be nice), but I’m so excited to have a normal Monday-Friday 9-5 job for the first time in my life! XD The only problem is, my wardrobe consists of jeans, trainers and black work shirts, so I’m going to have to get a some ‘office appropriate’ clothes!
13072880_474319639434427_6832856377466583397_oSecondly, I’m in a play! I’m going to be a busy bee this summer! I’ve been cast in Sun and Moon Theatre’s production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona as Lucetta, so all my spare time is currently being used rehearsing and learning lines (one reason I haven’t blogged in a while!) It’s one of Shakespeare’s first plays, and a lesser known one too, but we’ve given it a bit of a modern(ish) twist by setting it at a university in the late 50s/early 60s. I’m absolutely loving the rehearsal process (it’s been a while since I’ve done some theatre!) and I can’t wait to watch it all come together. If you want to come and show your support, we’re showing on:

  • 11th June at 4pm at the Cygnet Theatre (Exeter)
  • 23rd June at 7.30pm at The Queen’s Theatre (Barnstaple)
  • 26th June at 2.45pm at The Queen’s Theatre (Barnstaple)
  • 6th August at 12pm at The RSC Dell Open Air Theatre (Stratford-Upon Avon)
  • 6th August at 3pm at The RSC Dell Open Air Theatre (Stratford-Upon-Avon)

You can also like Sun and Moon’s facebook page to keep up to date with everything!

IMG_5430I spent my weekend in Birmingham with my family. Not only was I celebrating my new job and Ben’s (my sister’s boyfriend) birthday, but most importantly we all went to the opening night of Made Up, the two woman show that my sister is starring in. It’s on at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre until Saturday, and then it’s going on tour until June 11th. I might be biased, but it’s fantastic, and I’m extremely proud. If you fancy seeing my sister looking like an alien, an old woman and many more in the space of 70 minutes, here’s a link where you can find all the dates 🙂

IMG_5302Next I thought I should touch on my Vegan Challenge. A lot of you have been liking my Instagram posts about it, and asking me how it’s going, so I thought I’d answer everyone on here. It’s going amazingly well. It’s been so much easier than I thought it would be! I’m absolutely loving trying out new recipes (I’ve discovered quinoa and it’s changed my life) and I’ve taken much more of an interest in food now that I have to actually think a bit more about what I’m eating. It’s also really helped my lactose intolerance. Before I would often ignore it and eat that bar of chocolate or have that slice of cake even though I knew it wouldn’t be good for me. Now I’m being forced to find alternatives, and it’s really opened my eyes to the dairy-free alternatives out there. As for whether it’s going to be a permanent change? I’m not sure yet. I’m just over halfway through my challenge and I’m yet to make up my mind, but needless to say I’m loving being vegan for now! Alongside being vegan, I’ve also been really getting into the gym. I joined my local Anytime Fitness and I’m (slowly) starting to enjoy exercise again. It’s a good job, since I’ve got my Race for Life 10km in two months!

Phew, that’s all for now! I promise to be better at blogging from now on, and  I’ll have a new beauty-related post up soon!

Jessica xXx

30 Day Vegan Challenge!

Recently I’ve taken a good, long look at myself and my lifestyle, and I’ve identified changes that I want to make to impact my mental and physical wellbeing.

I started off by joining Anytime Fitness, a 24 hour gym that means I can’t use my crazy working hours as an excuse not to go to the gym. Not only am I training for the 10km Race for Life that me and my sister are taking part in in July, but I also want to get toned and healthy. An added bonus are the endorphins released during exercise, which will hopefully make a difference to my mental health, too.

Another change I am making is challenging myself to become a vegan for 30 days, starting on May 2nd. As many of you know, I’m lactose intolerant, so I try to avoid dairy anyway. I also hate eggs, so not eating them is not going to be a problem. I’ve also been on a pescatarian, Palm Oil-free diet for the past three weeks, as I find it easier to be healthy if I cut out as many meat products as possible, and, having been to the Borneon rainforest, I’m passionate about eliminating Palm Oil plantations. So realistically, all I have to do now is cut out fish (and all that cake I eat), and I’ll be a fully fledged vegan! I’ve ordered a free vegan recipe book from Peta, to help me be happy, healthy and safe on my vegan journey, as well as various vegan protein shakes and nutrients from My Protein to make sure I’m able to improve my physical fitness whilst staying healthy.

I also want to use this opportunity to research more into cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics, as I feel it’s completely unnecessary and inhumane to test cosmetics meant for humans on animals.

I’m actually very excited to start this challenge, try out knew recipes and learn more about the vegan way of life, and who knows, maybe it’ll be a permanent change!

I’ll keep you posted on my progress, and if any of you have any ideas in regards to delicious recipes or places to eat, please let me know!

Jessica xXx

March Favourites

If you’re anything like me, you can’t believe it’s already April either! It seems like only a couple of weeks ago I was in front of the fire in a big baggy jumper with my family celebrating Christmas, and now I’m digging out my floral skirts and sandals. Madness.

Recently I’ve been trying out a lot of new products, some which I love and some which I hate, so I thought I would do a quick post about the products I was loving in March!

Make Up Storage

IMG_4824.JPGMy old, clear plastic make up storage was looking a little bit sad and cracked, and I had run out of space to store everything, so I thought I would treat myself to an upgrade! I searched for ages to find something that I liked, but I finally found this on Amazon for £20.99 (the price has since gone up to £22.49 since my purchase). It said it would take around 3 weeks to be delivered, but I actually received mine around ten days after I purchased it which I was really impressed with! It’s absolutely enormous, with 8 compartments and 3 long drawers – plenty of space to store my cosmetics and more! I posted the picture of it on Instagram and not only did it very quickly become my most liked post ever, I also had 6 different people asking where I got it from! If you’re curious, here’s the link!

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer

IMG_4876.JPGThis is the one product that all British Beauty Bloggers/Vloggers rave about, and I finally remembered to pick one up in Boots about a week ago. Straight away, I could see why people love this product! I got mine for £3.99 (RRP £4.19) in the shade 01 Fair – I was a bit worried at first that even though I’m very pale it would be too light for me, but it’s absolutely perfect. I struggle with awful dark circles under my eyes, and I’ve been trying to find something to help for ages and this really does the job. I apply it over my foundation in an upside down triangle shape under my eyes and blend it out with my miracle complexion sponge and it just brightens up those really dark areas amazingly. It’s great for small blemishes too, and it isn’t cakey or drying like a lot of drugstore concealers.

Rimmel London Exaggerate Lip Liner in Eastend Snob

IMG_4869.JPGI’m a big fan of Beauty Blogger/Vlogger Meg Says, and she recently mentioned in a video that this was one of her favourite lip liners, and since we have similar complexions, I thought I would give it a go and I was not disappointed. It glides onto your lips so well and its a beautiful nude-pink colour. It’s great as a base for lipstick, or it looks lovely on it’s own with a bit of lip balm or gloss over the top.

*If you want to check out more from Meg Says, here’s her Youtube and Blog!

Rimmel London Kate Lasting Finish Lipstick in 08 Rossetto

IMG_4874.JPGI am obsessed with this lipstick. Pretty much every time I’ve gone out for the past month, I’ve been wearing this shade. It goes great over the top of the Eastend Snob lip liner, and it’s a stunning nude-pink shade. I’ve never really tried out nude lipsticks, as I tend to like my statement reds, but this has me completely converted! I’ve had so many people complimenting me on this and asking where I got it from, so I had to mention it in this post! I’ve not really been a fan of Rimmel lipsticks in the past as I’ve found them to be quite drying, but this one has a much more creamy formula than the others I’ve tried, and it has really great staying power. I can’t recommend this highly enough!

American Cream Hair Conditioner

IMG_4309Of course I had to mention something from LUSH! I love this stuff! Not only does it smell absolutely amazing, but it always leaves my hair feeling soft, and frizz-free without being weighted down, and it’s perfect for defining and controlling wild curls like mine! If you’re new to LUSH hair products (or just LUSH in general) and you’re a bit unsure of using a solid conditioner or you’ve been put of by the strong smells of some of the products they have on offer, then I would definitely recommend American Cream as a great gentle but effective conditioner to try out, perfect for LUSH newbies (you can always ask for a free sample if you’re not sure and the staff at LUSH are more than happy to give you one!). I wrote a whole blog post on this conditioner at the beginning of March, which you can check out here!

Favourite Bloggers!

There have been two bloggers I’ve been really into the past month. The first is my good friend Reanne Kingdon, who if you follow me on Instagram is one of ‘The 3 Blondes’ 🙂 She has the most wonderful writing style, and you can tell that she’s really passionate about it. Not only is she a great writer, but she’s a photographer too, and her work is absolutely stunning! Her WordPress blog is relatively new, so do pop over and show her some love here 

I thought I would also give a shout out to a blogger whose posts I’ve been loving the past month, and that’s Healthy & Psyched. I’ve been obsessed with her vegan recipes, and she’s given me loads of ideas to help get around having to be dairy-free because of my lactose intolerance (her post about non-dairy milk alternatives was particularly helpful). Her recipes always look absolutely delicious, and I’m psyched (pardon the pun) to give some of her smoothie bowls a go! Even if you’re not a vegan, you can still find inspiration for healthy and delicious meals.  Check her out here 🙂

I can’t wait to see what new things I discover this month, and if you have any products you want me to try out and review or things that you recommend, please do share!

Thanks for reading!

Jessica xXx

Courage, Dear Heart

IMG_4573

I recently posted the above picture on Instagram, with the caption: “My anixety and depression is pretty bad at the moment. Everyone around me seems to have their shit together and I feel like I’m stuck. Sometimes it feels like I’m drowning and I’m constantly beating myself up about it. I need to remind myself to be gentle. Guys, your mental health and wellbeing should always come first. Hopefully I’ll have a new blog about it all soon.

As many of you know, I struggle with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and the depression that often comes along with it. It’s hard, and every morning I wake up wondering if it’s going to be a good day, or a bad day. Recently, I’ve had a lot of bad days. I’ve had what seems like a string of bad luck in my personal and professional life, and I’ve felt incredibly low. I worry about things that are seemingly insignificant, but that build up and up in my head into something enormous and out of my control. Some days I don’t want to get out of bed, and I feel like giving up.

I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to comparing my life to other people’s. I see my friends getting engaged, buying houses, thriving in their dream careers, and it feels like I’m treading water. I have a full time job but I still struggle to make ends meet, I go to auditions where I ‘almost get it’ but never actually do, and I’ve let my diet and exercise plan go out of the window. In all honesty, I feel like I’ve failed a lot of the time. I focus on the things I haven’t got, rather than the things I have got. Even though I constantly encourage people to talk about their feelings when things get tough, I’m the worst for keeping things inside and bottling things up until I can’t stand any more and I break down completely. It’s often really difficult to remind myself that what I’m feeling is temporary, and it will pass.

People are always surprised when I tell them I suffer from a Mental Health Disorder. In public, I’m the clown, the one who’s always joking and trying to make other people happy, so it’s hard to believe that a lot of the time I’m feeling really shitty.

One of my ‘New Year’s Resolutions‘ was to find ways to cope with and ease my anxiety, and I’ll hold my hands up and say that I haven’t been trying as hard as I should. I’ve been making excuses to myself about why I haven’t tried out coping mechanisms, but there’s really no excuse.

So I’m going to breathe, be brave, and be strong. I’m going to invest more time in finding ways to deal with my anxiety. I’m going to take the time to do things that make me happy, and spend time with the people that make me happy. To anyone else feeling low right now, whether you struggle with a mental health disorder or not, please talk to someone about it. Even if they can’t to anything about it, simply saying “I’m not okay” helps. Grab your mental health by the balls and take it seriously. You don’t have to be strong alone.

I’m so lucky to have an incredible support unit, and I want to give a special thank you to the people who have supported and encouraged me this past week. I don’t think those friends realise how much a simple text has meant to me. You know who you are, and I love you.

I didn’t want to write a blog this week. I wasn’t feeling inspired, and I couldn’t find the motivation to do it. But I did, and although it’s a slightly more serious tone this week, it’s something that needed saying and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. Starting this blog has helped me in more ways than I could have imagined, so thank you to everyone for your continued kind words and support with it. When I’m feeling down, I need to remember the real Lovely Little Lighthouse that’s the namesake behind this blog, and the hope it gives me.

Jessica xXx

 

 

People That Inspire Me: Mother’s Day Special

Throughout my life, I’ve been inspired by a lot of different people. Having recently been reminded of the importance and significance of these people, I decided to start a blog mini-series dedicated to those individuals.

IMG_0243In honour of Mother’s Day, it felt only right that this post be dedicated to my mum. She brought up me and my sister (and my dad, too), and still found the time to work part time in primary schools and study for a degree in English Literature with the Open University. I wasn’t the most mild-mannered of teenagers, my ’emo’ phase is still a favourite topic for my friends to bring up at gatherings, and it’s thanks to my mum’s patience, guidance, and lack of shame about constantly embarrassing me in public that made me into someone who grew out of my ‘moody bitch’ phase, and someone who can look back and take the piss out of myself. It’s also thanks to her suggesting I join the school drama club that I overcame my shyness, gained some confidence, and ultimately found the one thing that I’m most passionate about: performing.

11162076_10153241654577438_551891469495242661_nWhen I went off to university, mum decided to pursue her dream of getting a Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL), which is pretty damn badass. It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of revising and a lot of battling with the elements, but she’s doing so well. I don’t think many people can say that their mum can fly a plane, and it gives her ultimate cool points in my book.

10152427_10152491711142438_5716047872095560240_n (2)My mum has pretty much been my counsellor since I first developed Anxiety. Day or night, whenever I’m having an episode, a panic attack or just feeling down, she has this ability to talk complete nonsense to me and bring me out of it every time. I don’t have to explain or justify my feelings to her, she just gets it. I’m completely aware of how lucky I am to have someone like that in my life.

Our family has been through a lot recently, and through it all, my mum has stayed strong, been brave, and still managed to smile through everything. It’s her positivity that holds our family together, and makes us see the funny side in everything.

10168146_10152425703305337_5442420665373584081_nMum raised me and my sister to be strong, independent women, and how to hold our own in this world. She taught us about body confidence, being happy and healthy, and not letting yourself be taken for granted. She gives me the space to be myself, and she accepts me for who I am (ridiculous piercings and dreadful taste in men included), and she is always telling me how proud she is of me. She also spell-checks every one of my blog posts, for which I am eternally grateful.

11114272_10153207273752438_717926147848041789_nShe introduced me to the old movies I love, brought me up listening to Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson, introduced me to the joy that is Neighbours (yes, we’ve been watching for 20+ years, don’t judge) and dragged me to art galleries and museums that I may not have appreciated at the time but am so thankful for now. She keeps me and my sister constantly entertained with our games of ‘pointlessly pointing’, ‘how many jelly mounds are in this room?’ and ‘let’s see how ugly a face we can make’. My mum got me into reading – a difficult task with someone as easily distracted as me – by lending me her copy of Goodnight Mister Tom, which I quickly destroyed because I read it over and over again. She also gave me one of the best presents I’ve ever received: my National Trust membership. You may think I’m joking, but I’m really not. 

12417831_10153918394440337_7887121059056126369_nOn top of all of that, she’s apparently frozen in time, and has the best skin ever. Seriously mum, you look incredible, all my friends think you’re hot and it’s really annoying.

Mum, you’re the best, and I’m not just saying that. My counsellor, my spider-catcher and my best friend.

 

Express Your Selfie

The craze of ‘selfies’ has been growing over the past couple of years (the term ‘selfie’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013), and now in 2016, it’s bigger than ever before. People have different opinions on this trend, some love taking, sharing and viewing selfies, and others don’t. And then there are those who don’t really mind either way.

Now I’m a huge believer of people being entitled to their own opinions, and the world would be a very boring place if everyone felt the same about everything. But what really baffles and upsets me, is when someone bashes another person when they post a picture of themselves. On Instagram in particular (which is an app specifically designed to share photos), I’ve seen some really heartbreaking comments on pictures that people have posted of themselves, comments that are not only targeted at their appearance in a selfie, but personal comments about someone that that ‘troll’ doesn’t even know. It saddens me to think that someone can be okay with insulting someone like that, and get away with it because they’re hiding behind a screen.

In my opinion, being confident and comfortable in yourself is one of the best feelings in the world. It’s something that can take a person years to develop, and something that can take someone else seconds and a few words to completely tear down again. If someone feels confident enough to post a picture of themselves for the world to see, then that’s surely an incredible thing? Who is a stranger to bring a person down for feeling good about themself?

As someone who struggles with mental health problems, and battles daily with self-image, posting a selfie is a big deal for me, as I’m sure it is for the majority of people. There are some days I feel like the ugliest person in the world, and there are other days where I feel absolutely incredible. Everyone has good days and bad days, and I really think the good days should be celebrated, and not destroyed.

As an actor, people judge my appearance every day. My CV has a headshot, so my face is literally the first thing someone sees, before they even read about my qualifications or experience. I’ve grown accustomed to being told ‘you just don’t have the right look’, and it’s something I’ve learnt not to take to heart. As part of my training, I was taught to identify what I thought as ‘flaws’ as a ‘unique selling point’ (USP). For example, my big nose means that my face has ‘character’, and I can play Jewish – hurray! In the same way I can identify something I’m not overly keen about, I can also remind myself of the parts I do love about myself. For example, I might not be the biggest fan of my nose, but I love my eyes!

If you look at my Instagram, I’d say about 40-50 per cent of my photos are selfies, and I have absolutely no problem with that. In the same way I love feeling good about a picture of myself, getting likes and positive comments about it, I also love seeing other people’s selfies, and seeing how good someone else is feeling about themselves. When a friend of mine posts a picture of themselves, it genuinely makes me happy, because in that moment, they’re happy.

As yes, Instagram does provide filters, but so what? That doesn’t make a person any less beautiful in real life. People who wear make up are essentially wearing a ‘filter’ on their faces, but it doesn’t make them vain or narcissistic.

There’s a difference between vanity and self-confidence, and if someone doesn’t like you posting selfies, then that’s their problem and you shouldn’t let it stop you doing it. In fact, you should post even more, because it’s fun to annoy those people.

So, readers, keep posting those selfies. You’re all beautiful, and you deserve to feel like you are.

Jessica xXx