Simple Beauty

I am most definitely not a beauty blogger. Nor am I one to give advice on the best products out there at the moment, there are so many to choose from! The sheer number of products you can buy to apply to your face alone boggles my mind, and the way they are marketed makes me give the whole beauty industry the side-eye. I like to keep things simple - as in I can pack everything I need in one travel bag.

I do read beauty blogs however, because I think what some women can do with makeup is amazing! I'm just not one of those women, so I need to keep it limited to the essentials. Here’s what I’ve got that makes up my daily beauty routine:

1. THE MOST IMPORTANT!!! Daily SPF. I think I must have tried about fifty daily sun protection lotions over the years, and La Roche-Posay is the only one I have found that doesn’t feel heavy and greasy. It’s light, a little bit smelly but not too bad, and protects my face like a charm.

2. Dark spots be gone! Guys, I’m not going to lie, my skin is pretty sun damaged. I have never tanned, but freckles and sun spots run in my family and I’ve had a good few sun burns in my lifetime. Sure I have normal freckles, but if you look closely I’m starting to get blotches and it really sucks. Please refer back to point one. SPF!!! But for now this dark spot corrector is my best friend.

3. Eye cream, Midnight Recovery Eye by Kiehl’s. I always find it hard to see results with things like eye cream, but this one feels so wonderful on and does make my face feel over-all more fresh.

4. (not pictured) Kiehl's powerful wrinkle reducing moisturiser. I really believe this stuff works, but not as well as drinking lots of water - which I routinely fail to do.

5. Brow gel by MAC. I’m all over any kind of easy to apply makeup, and this brow accentor is the EASIEST.

6. Mascara by smashbox. What’s important to note is that this mascara is not waterproof, which means it runs off in the shower and doesn’t require any extra product purchases to get it off. Win!

7. Lipstick in electric pink, also by smashbox. All lip products make my lips peel, it’s awful. Most lipsticks are a no-go for me and it makes me really sad, but something about smashbox lipsticks are skin friendly and their colours are amazing. Perhaps my all time favourite makeup product!

8. Again from smashbox, this primer is pretty neat. I’ve been using this sample for a while because a little goes a long way, and I may end up buying a full sized one soon! I don’t put any foundation on top, I just use the primer, and it makes my face look pretty smooth.

9. Blackberry and Bay perfume, it smells gorgeous and lasts such a long time. Jo Malone perfumes in general are really lovely.

Also, the necklace is from Madewell, the bracelet is from Momosan and the watch was my grandmothers – I wear all three mostly every day along with my wedding ring. 

*I always get comments saying how fresh my face looks, which is so wonderful! But just remember that most bloggers use Photoshop – me included. I don’t re-touch my face or my body to hide any bits I don’t like (not even my dark spots), but I like to shoot with a lot of light and sometimes lighten things even more when editing. All this can often blow out any imperfections in the face.

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Five Reasons To Travel

I was brought up to understand travel was a part of life. You didn’t stay in one place, you looked for work overseas, you moved around a lot… that’s what my parents did, that’s what I was going to do! But when I left home at 18 to go to university in a different country, I cried for days. Just because you want travel as a part of your life, doesn’t make it easy to set off on your own.

Traveling to a different country for uni isn’t exactly traveling though, it’s exciting and challenging, but its work. My first experience with real adventure travel was when I dropped out of uni in my first year to travel around Spain and Morocco. It was going against the wishes of my family and financially it was a bit stupid, but I needed to do it to learn how to grow up. And part of what I learned was: the thing with growing up is that it never stops, and travel never stops allowing you to grow and develop in ways that will continue to surprise you!

Having said that, we all know travel changes people. We’ve heard a million times how seeing other cultures and ways of life challenge your own perceptions of the way you think the world works. But I noticed a few big changes in myself since I ran away from uni (obviously I went back otherwise I wouldn’t have my job today), and how those changes have helped me throughout the rest of my life – in further travel, but also in building a career, knowing marriage was right for me, all that big life decision stuff…

1. You learn to be brave – once you book a ticket, this one happens by default. At the end of the day you have a choice to stay where you’re comfortable or launch yourself into the unknown. For most of us it’s a simple as planning a trip, saving up, and getting on that plane. Once you take this first step, everything afterwards doesn’t seem so difficult. You get braver with the countries you visit, braver with interacting with people and making friends, and braver with looking out for yourself.

2. You develop instincts you never knew you needed – this one is especially important when traveling alone. Over the years I’ve learned to grow eyes in the back of my head, and trust that gut feeling that tells me something isn’t quite right. I think its human nature to develop heightened instincts when you’re in unfamiliar surroundings, but the more you put yourself in unfamiliar situations the more developed these instincts become. And being able to listen to your instincts in life is one of the best skills you can have.

3. It makes you more practical – travel is a beautiful experience, but it’s not all selfies on the beach at sunset. You need to make a plan, a schedule, bookings in advance, or you need to be able to think on your feet if you just decide to see where the wind takes you. You can’t blow all your money on a resort if you’re on a backpacking holiday, and a lot of the time you’re going to have to make ‘either-or’ decisions. This one is all about prioritising, making decisions and keeping one foot on the ground (preferably in the sand) while you’re off having fun.

4. It forces you to choose – once you launch yourself into a trip, there’s no staying still. The closest I came to staying still on my travels was when I lived at a hostel for five weeks because I was having too much fun to leave. Most of the time when you’re on the road, you can’t go back to sleep and think “I’ll deal with it next week”. You have to choose where you’re going, with who, how far your budget can take you, when you’re going home, IF you’re going home, and how you’re going to support  yourself.

5. You learn to trust yourself - I suppose this one is all of these points combined. Travel teaches you self-reliance and also it gives you faith in yourself that you are someone to be relied on! As you go along you learn to decide on what’s best for you, what you want out of your experience, and how to get it – if you can trust yourself to make these decisions while adventuring around the world, they’re kind of awesome skills to have when you come back home and apply them to the rest of your life.

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Thoughts on Being a Commitment-Phobe

I think we’re all a little nervous of commitment to some degree or other, sometimes in relationships and sometimes with money. Applying fear of commitment to other life decisions is something I've never really thought about, but coming to terms with my own peculiar brand of commitment-phobia has taught me a lot about myself - it has also brought me an immense amount of relief, and even excitement for my life. Here’s how…

I’m afraid of commitment in pretty much every avenue of my life. The only thing I have never had trouble committing to is people – I’m as loyal as a labrador, and while that is generally considered a good thing, it can be pretty bad for me when I’m faced with having to admit that someone I’ve become loyal to, actually kind of sucks.

But throughout my life I’ve maintained a pretty constant level of anxiety about big and small decisions: wasting a good outfit on a bad day, deciding what to eat for dinner, making life-changing decisions such as what to study at school, uni, and then what to do for a career. Menus baffle me. I’ve kind of given up on clothes shopping altogether. And as I get older the fear has gotten worse! Up until not long ago I had been trying to decide which Smashbox lipstick to purchase since December (2013!). Planning further than two weeks in advance isn’t possible; sometimes Adam has even had trouble getting me to commit to a weekend plan on Saturday morning...

It isn’t as if I pause to think about a situation, and then find myself unable to commit – my whole life I’ve been working on skipping that thought process and jumping straight to “let’s just wait and see!”. Not on purpose of course, that’s just the way I’ve grown, always a little bit afraid. If you stopped me long enough to ask why I just don’t make a decision, I couldn’t tell you – I don’t think about it, it’s just a gut feeling that leads me to hedge my bets.

I guess it’s about not wanting to make the wrong decision. I don’t want to go down an avenue, hate my choice, and be unable to change it. I’m the worst version of myself when I feel trapped. But life doesn’t let you stay stuck in indecision; it forces you to act! When I was younger I put my life decisions in other people’s hands.

These days when pushed to decide, I have become the master of squeezing my eyes tight and saying “f*ck it…” before I leap.

We also don’t accept failure very well, at least not for ourselves. What if we decide we want to dedicate our life to a sport, or a hobby which turns into a career, or a cause – and what if we’re just not that good at it? Failure isn’t really something we talk about, it’s kind of not considered an option, and if it happens we try our best to explain it away or sweep it under the rug. Or some of us just avoid failure altogether by never committing.

And this kind of fear can creep into successes too. Often throughout my life, if I have started to do well at something, I tend to panic and back off - I actually get a nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach. Commitment-phobia can mean a fear of failure and also a fear of success - because what if you are good at something, but not as good as you thought, or not good enough for other's to deem successful? And just because you're good at something, does it mean you have to do it for the rest of your life?

But the problem with going through life without claiming something as your own and being afraid of commitment, just seeing where life takes you,  and just winging it when you have to make a choice – it doesn’t leave you feeling very good about yourself. If you’ve decided you want to live your life that way, and that is what is most comfortable for you, that’s fine but that should be a choice you make – not an option you fall back on because you’re afraid to commit yourself.

It’s healthy to take ownership of something, it helps us grow, learn to feel pride in our actions and compassion for ourselves if our decision doesn't work out. It makes us feel brave, that we are living life on our terms and not just letting it happen to us.

I mentioned I was relieved to realise that I’m afraid of committing to things in life, and this is because too often I have heard the words “lazy”, or “too shy (to put myself out there)”. This confused me for so long because I don’t feel lazy, I have always been a hard worker. I do put off decisions, but I’ve always found it so hard to admit to being “lazy” because when I’m not moving forward on what I should be, I’m usually to be found working on something else. After a while I learned to beat myself up, I failed to identify what was really stopping me from moving forward, and instead got mad at myself for not being good enough. And seeing yourself as not good enough influences everything.

When I realised that I was just afraid, I was so relieved.

To me, being afraid is ok. It's not a character flaw, but instead it’s something I can work on, and it allows me to feel compassion for myself. If someone admitted to being afraid to me, I wouldn't tell them to "suck it up and stop being lazy" - I would offer them support. And I do the same for myself. These days when I get nervous about something like career moves (I have one coming up), I accept that I’m scared and try to move forward anyway but with my eyes wide open. I try to think about what I want from my future, something I never used to do, and see what steps I need to take to make it happen. If it doesn’t work out, I'm conscious of the fact that I will actually be fine. But it's all about claiming my decisions as my own, and moving forward at my own speed, building a life I am proud of.

At the end of the day the most important lesson I have learned with commitment-phobia is to be kind to myself and accepting of who I am. Being self aware, but not critical of what fears I may find lurking inside, leads me to understand what's really going on. And that gives me something to build on! And learning to make commitments has helped me feel more confident, and like a more capable person. I promise, the more you do it the easier it gets.

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Can we talk for a moment?

This blog of mine, it's something I've really become proud of over the years. I haven't expected it to grow so much, and I didn't realise how much it would change my life! The connections I make every day, the people I meet online and offline - through your comments and emails, it's amazing to know there are so many like-minded people out there. This blog really has been a fantastic adventure and I love that I get to share that with you.

In the beginning this blog was public, but I told no one I was writing it - not even friends or family! But long ago it stopped being something I did just for myself, the more I heard from you the more I wanted to write about what interested you. And it's really important to me that I keep it moving in a direction that inspires you. 

So, as I probably couldn't manage to have a chat with all of you (as much as I would love that!), I've come up with another option. If you have a moment to spare, I would really appreciate it if you could fill out the below survey. It's only 10 questions, completely anonymous, and pretty much entirely multiple choice! Thanks guys!

Create your own user feedback survey

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The Story of a Wedding Dress

Ages ago, before our wedding last year and just after we got engaged, I started the process of looking for a wedding dress. There is SO much choice out there, and I really dreaded the whole process because trying on dresses in a shop for me can often feel like playing dress-up. I'm quite little, and putting on a dress off the rails was never going to work for me... or so I thought.

Women who work in bridal shops really know what they're doing. Before I even got a glimpse of myself in the mirror they had pinned a size 12 dress to my size 4/6/8 body and I did not at all look or feel like I was dressing up in my mother's clothing. 

Unfortunately for me I have expensive taste. If you give me a catalog of clothes with no prices I can guarantee you I will pick out the most expensive item. I first fell in love with a £3000 dress and I was not prepared to spend that much on one outfit for one day - no matter how special the day!

 

So a few months later, when I was in India last year, my mum and I set off on an epic mission to have a wedding dress made. Spoiler alert: it didn't work out, not as we planned anyway.

I'm a little sad when I think of all the work we both, but mostly my mum, put into trying to make it happen. The fabric we chose was kind of alright but not exactly, the tailor we chose had good recommendations and the best intentions but had little experience in wedding dresses, and also deadlines in India are negotiable - always. I think we were just a bit unlucky. But we had so much fun in the process, choosing fabric in Delhi and tracking down a tailor in Jaipur.

We didn't end up with a dress for me to get married in, but we did end up with a beautiful reception dress which I will love forever, and it will always remind me of our wedding dress adventures in India. I don't have the best picture of it from the wedding because from the point I changed into it I did not stop dancing, but it's silk and has the pattern of mangoes on it.

Incidentally, I ordered my dress from BHLDN - they do all the sizes!

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