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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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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“Your Hair Looks Like it’s on Fire!”

So last Wednesday, I decided I was completely sick of being blonde and sent a picture of a girl’s hair I had seen on Instagram to my hairdresser, and by Friday, after three hours in the salon, I was a redhead once more.

Whilst at university, my hair was red, brown, black, platinum blonde, green (accidentally), red, orange, red and then blonde. I’ve been that same shade of blonde for three years now, with the exception of a few temporary Bleach London experiments with pinks and purples. And lately I’ve not been feeling myself, and I’ve been remembering a time when I had confidence flowing out of me like nobody’s business. And it’s when I had red hair. Soooo…

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My hairdresser is incredibly talented, and made the experience even more exciting/terrifying by turning me away from any mirrors or reflective surfaces from the moment she rinsed the dye out, so I had no idea what it looked like until she had cut, dried and styled it. And if that wasn’t enough, Bizzaz use completely cruelty-free Paul Mitchell products. Amazing.

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It’s okay to be completely obsessed with my own hair, right? I’ve not felt this good in a long time. I finally feel like me again. Everything is falling into place: I’ve moved into a lovely new home with one of my oldest friends, I’ve just secured an amazing new job at the University of Exeter with an actual salary, I’ve been working on my music, and my hair is ON FIRE. Life is good.

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Aleena at Bizzaz, you are a magician. My hair is stunning and I absolutely love it. If anyone wants to change up your look and have a total hair transformation, go to Bizzaz in Exeter. Even if you don’t live in Devon.

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