The Monthly Round Up #1

Thursday, 30 April 2015

I never realised how much I like April until recently when I fully took in the fact that the sun was now rising at time I deem acceptable and providing us with longer days full of sunnier, warmer weather that does wonders for my overall mood. I recently realised how much I love reading about what bloggers have been up to over the month (as well as their beauty favourites) when I was reading Dana Fox's from The Wonderforest Bi-Weekly Review and thought I'd try my hand at a monthly one.

After my little hiatus, I've been getting back into the swing of blogging, which I've been really enjoying, if it is a little challenging time-wise. You don't realise just how much productivity and time-management is important until you're trying to figure out where to fit in blog planning, blog writing, social media scheduling, commenting, product research and all that lovely jazz into your day whilst also attending the last of your lectures and revising for your upcoming final exams. So far, my only solution has been to wake up earlier (a lot earlier) to give myself a few extra hours.

I also participated in my first blogger chat, which was quite a milestone for me. I'd always been nervous that I wouldn't have anything to say, my social anxiety transferring from my real-life to my online social interactions, but when Rebecca-Louise from Autumn Leaves was hosting her first Twitter chat, I just had to participate. The experience was fun, informative and a great way to connect with other bloggers, as it's not always easy to keep up with your Twitter feed. I'll definitely be looking for a way to regularly participate in Twitter blog chats.

In the final stretch of my law degree, my life is currently fifty shades of revision. As someone who has always been a chronic 'do everything at the last minute'-er, I wanted a change from the routine panic a week before exams when I realise I underestimated the complexity of my course syllabus, and cramming weeks worth of studying into a couple of caffeine-filled hours. After all, one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the different results. So I've been trying to make sure I get a couple of hours of revision in every day instead, taking it at an easy, steady pace. With my exams starting on the 1st June though, I'm going to stepping up the pace in May, but hopefully avoid any and all panic and frenzy.

This month I've also been making a conscious to add exercise to my daily routine, mainly for the endorphins. I really enjoy doing Yoga With Adrienne when I feel like I need to wind down at the end of the day as well as give my body a lovely, deep stretch, but my wrists unfortunately don't agree with daily downward dogs. I recently discovered Joanna Soh's Youtube videos, and I have fallen in love - so much that they make up the bulk of my work out routine. If you're looking for fun, effective cardio interval-based workouts, then I would highly recommend Joanna.

To supplement this increase in activity, as well as my dairy-free, low-carb diet, I've also been taking the Forza Multivitamins for Dieters I got from this month's Lookfantastic Beauty Box. However much the name irks me, multivitamins are multivitamins. 

Netflix is a very dangerous for a student needing to focus. With the Easter break meaning I wasn't travelling to uni, so didn't have as much need for Spotify, so I swapped it for a Netflix subscription instead. The series which would win Most Binge-Watched Award would have to be Pretty Little Liars. I wasn't expecting to get into it as much as I did, but apparently there's something very intriguing about watching four young women from a small-town being terrorised by the mysterious 'A', who is never, ever who you suspect they'll be. I think the series finale of this show will rank up there with Friends and How I Met Your Mother. 

I am also a big fan of the Netflix Originals. House of Cards is a gritty political drama that had me gripped during the first two seasons, but the last season got a little too gritty for me. Daredevil also surprised me. I had no intention of watching it, but after hearing so many people raving about it, I checked it out and the next thing I knew it was three in the morning. There are perhaps a few too many action scenes for my liking, but it's one of those shows where there's a little something for everyone. 

Oh, and Game of Thrones is back, so that's self-explanatory ;)

It annoys me that when my revision increases my time for reading decreases. I've been re-reading Feel The Fear...And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, which is a great book if you find yourself being held back in life by your fears. I really like it as an overall personal development book, but as I start thinking of what I want to do after university, it's helping me to see past my worries of failure and realise that I hold the tools for success.

I've also been trying to be a lot better with keeping up with my blog reading, though Bloglovin' likes to mockingly inform me there are a thousand odd posts I still haven't read. This month I liked these posts: 

A Little Boat Sailing | An Ode To Soap and Glory
A Little Opulent | The Creative CV
A Beautiful Mess  | Elsie's Home Tour 
Being Erica | Update on dating
Emilade DIY | No Crease Hair Ties

What about you? What have you been up to this month? 

This Month's Beauty Favs | April 2015

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Slowly, but surely, my bathroom shelf is being overtaken by The Body Shop products - not that I mind. I feel like their products are really good when you want to ensure that you're putting quality products on your skin without breaking the bank. (Investing in skincare was a hard lesson to learn, but one that I won't be forgetting any time soon).

First on the list is the Aloe Gentle Facial Wash. I know that amongst the beauty community foaming facial wash is viewed by some with the same distrust as using make up wipes, but I like to have a face wash that I can use in the shower, and sometimes gels can be a little on the heavy side for my skin. This turned out to be exactly what I was looking for: it leaves my skin feeling completely cleansed without drying or breaking out my skin. I highly recommend this if you have oily/combination skin and struggle with finding a balance between cleansing and stripping your skin. 

The next product I've been loving from The Body Shop is the Vitamin C Skin Boost. Applied after your moisturiser, this little gem smooths your skin and gives your skin an undeniable glow. This is perfect for giving your skin a boost on non-makeup days or creating a flawless base for your make up routine. I still prefer to add a primer to this when I'm wearing foundation, but I think if you have less oily skin you could get away with just using the Skin Boost under your make up. 

I know I'm late to the party, but I have only just finally gotten into The Body Shop Body Butters. I picked the Body Butter in Passion Fruit on an offer and fell instantly in love with it. The scent is deliciously strong, instantly lifting my mood and lingering for ages. Unfortunately, it's more suited for normal to dry skin which meant that it didn't leave my skin feeling as moisturised as I like it to be. So I was really happy when I got the Shea Body Butter 50ml as a free gift the last time I was in store. Not only is it much more suited to dry skin, as I finally got to understand why this product is so raved about. The only way to describe the scent of this is "soothingly nutty" and I would recommend if you find The Body Shop's fruit scents a tad too sweet. 

My next favourite is a rediscovery. When I was in secondary school, there was a time when it no longer became cool to use Vaseline - it was all about the Carmex. I recently picked up the Carmex Cherry Tube and remembered why it had been such a raved about product. As well as being intensely moisturising, the menthol and camphor provides this tingling, soothing relief for dry, chapped lips as well as providing UVA/UVB sun protection. Vaseline is multi-purpose, but Carmex is just lush on the lips.

Last but not least, is the Barry M Nail Paint in Berry Ice Cream. It's my go-to spring/summer pastel and love it when the sun comes out and I can paint this on my nails brighter, paler shades, without looking like I'm desperate for the sunnier months. It only takes two coats to get a pretty purple colour, dries really fast for a non-quick-drying nail varnish and lasts for a good five days before chipping (for me at least). For a £2.99 nail polish, what more could you ask? 

What have you been loving this month? 

A Brow Pen Kinda Girl

Sunday, 26 April 2015

The importance of having decent eyebrow game has soared exponentially these past couple of years. I like to blame Cara Delevingne for this, despite knowing that her infamous brows only cemented the importance of brow in a beauty routine that beauty editors and marketing teams were already pushing. Brows were back and the bigger the better. Or at the very least impeccably filled in, for that "your natural brows but way better" look, if you know what I mean.

I have been trying to figure out my brow game for awhile now, and unfortunately they are far from being "on fleek". I have, however, figured out which kinda brow products I like to use. 

My all-time favourite (thus far) remains the Make Up Revolution Brow Dual Ultra Brow Arch & Shape in Darkest. As the name indicates, it has two ends, one similar to felt tip marker, and the other a waxy pencil, which, armed with a spooly brush, is all you need to have the perfect brows. I was gutted when my felt tip dried up, and the crayon end came to an unusable stub. Since I didn't want to pay postage and packaging for one product (Make Up Revolution has yet to make to Belgium shops), I thought I'd venture out, and try something new.

When browsing my local drugstore, I came across the Eyelure Brow Ink in Dark Brown. I was drawn to the felt tip nib, and the fact that it's double-ended, with one thinner end to outline your brow, and a thicker taper end to fill them in quickly. The two ends made it better than the Barry M Liquid Brow Marker Pen, as you have more control over the way you use the Eyelure Brow Ink, but unfortunately, less than two weeks later, the Eyelure Brow Ink has already begun to dry up. Plus the Eyelure Brow Ink does this weird thing where the colour goes on a reddish-brown but then sets to a much darker shade, making it hard to gauge how much product you're actually putting on. 

Even though I doubt I'll be buying the Eyelure Brow Ink again, it did help me realise that the thing I really liked about the Make Up Revolution Ultra Brow is that the waxy end help control the hairs, which using just a felt tip doesn't, resulting in a messier look.

So it turns out that I'm not just any brow pen kinda girl - I'm a waxy brow pen kinda girl. Now that I know this I have my eye on: 

What about you? What kinda brow girl are you? 

Affordable Products for Spring Sun Protection

Thursday, 23 April 2015

As the spring days grow steadily warmer, and the sun makes a more regular appearance, it's that time where we have to start seriously thinking about adding sun protection to our skincare and make up routines (if we haven't already). 

This time last year I learned the hard way that my skin wasn't a fan of the transition from grey, overcast days to sun-filled blue skies. The seasonal transition into summer led to one of the worst breakouts I'd experienced since puberty. Nothing I did seemed to appease it, reacting to even products aimed towards sensitive skin until I added some sunscreen into my routine. The Body Shop Vitamin E SPF15 Moisture Lotion was my saviour. It was light enough not to clog my pores and provide the necessary moisture for my oily skin without making me into a greasy mess, all the while offering a decent SPF. It's my go-to when all else fails, and combined with a Chamomile water as a toner, it will calm most of my break outs. 

This year I decided to try a different moisturiser, still from The Body Shop, but this time from their Vitamin C range. The Vitamin C Daily Moisturiser SPF30 has yet to disappoint. The consistency is quite a bit thicker than the Vitamin E moisturiser, but the SPF index is also higher, and once you get used to giving it a good five minutes to sink in, it's absolutely fine. My skin feels completely moisturised, I know my skin has decent protection from the rays, and after a few weeks of using this I have noticed that my skin looks really glowing and healthy, which is just the look we want as we head into summer. 

As I'm aware that the SPF protection in creams slowly fades throughout the day, I also like to ensure that some of the products in my make up bag contain some sort of sun protection. The Collection 2000 Sheer Loose Powder in 2 Translucent has been my go-to powder for years now (and as you can probably tell, I've had this one for awhile now, and it's very well-loved. At £2.99 it is the very definition of affordable, lasts for absolute ages and contains Vitamin E as well as UVA & UVB sunscreen. This means that you can take it with you and top it up on the go.

The newest addition to my make up bag in the way of sun protection is the e.l.f. Studio Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 in Espresso. I don't generally get on with liquid BB creams so was afraid this tinted moisturiser would make my skin extra oily, but teamed with The Body Shop Instablur, and locked into place with the Collection 2000 Loose Powder (with one or two T-zone touch ups) it's actually not too bad. I think this will also come in really handy for days on the beach so you can top up your SPF regularly without having to sacrifice getting coverage.

There are so many affordable way to work sun protection into your skincare routine, so there's really no excuse not to! 

How do you build sun protection into your skin routine?

Forza Multivitamin for dieters

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Meet Forza Multivitamin for Dieters. I received them in this month's lookfantastic box. I have a multitude of issues with the marketing aspect of these vitamins. They're specifically targeted at dieters, it's specifically tailored towards women, and there is a tad too much pink for me not to be dubious. I don't think the capsules needed to be pink. There's nothing wrong with pink, but I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the overall underlining message. 

My feelings towards the dieting industry aside, these are 30 capsules of multivitamins that are intended to ensure that you have enough nutrients when you're "maintaining a reduced calorie intake, avoiding certain food groups and increasing your level of physical activity". As I'm lactose-intolerant, I eat minimal amounts of dairy (I'm hoping to eventually cut it out), I'm also lowering my carb intake to transition into a Dukan/Paleo-type diet and I've recently started working out 5-6 time a week - so these vitamins actually sound like they'd be good for me. 

I like the fact that they contain 100% of the recommended allowance for biotin, as its the supplement I usually take for my hair and nails. I've also been feeling fatigued lately, so hopefully the 5 B vitamins will help with my energy levels. The supplements also come with a useful little booklet with healthy recipes, exercise tips, motivational quotes and a diet journal template. There's also an interesting FAQ section at the back with questions such as "I really struggle for motivation. What can I do to improve this?" and "I have started exercising regularly, but I'm actually gaining weight?".

I'll be taking these vitamins for the next 30 days and let you know if I notice a difference in the way that I feel. I'm doubtful that they're much different from any decent multivitamin you can pick up, but I will admit that sometimes when you're on a diet or changing your diet, it can help to have products specifically geared for that (or claim to be) just to keep motivated. 

If you like the sound of the vitamins you can get the vitamins from:
UK residents: Forza Supplements Website | £7.49
International: Lookfantastic | €10.41 

Do you take multivitamins?

The LF Beauty Box | April 2015

Saturday, 18 April 2015

It's not hard to understand the appeal of beauty boxes. They're like those surprise goodie bags that you get when you're younger full of sweets and plastic jewellery - beauty boxes just happen to be the adult version for those who love to discover new beauty products. When my best friend pointed out that had their own beauty box, and that they did free worldwide delivery (unfortunately, there aren't an awful lot of beauty boxes available in Belgium), I had to get it.

I got my hands on the April Beauty Box (€20.85) and waited with impatience for it to arrive (I'd pre-ordered it at the end of March). I have mixed feelings about this box. There were some products I'm really looking forward to trying out, and others I'm a little uncertain about.

I was really excited to see the Korres Milk Soap 40g (€7.46 for 125g) in the box. Korres is a brand that I have heard a lot about and have not yet had the chance to try. Though I'm not really a bar soap person, I like the idea of soap for stressed skin. I doubt I'll use it on my face, but as exams approach, I get stress-induced back acne, and this might help. I was equally happy to find a Balance Me product in there in the shape of the Revitalising Hand and Body Wash 100ml (£12.50 for 300ml), as this is also a brand I've seen a lot on the blogosphere. Since this is suitable for the most sensitive skins, at least if the milk soap breaks me out (which is a possibility since I'm lactose intolerant), I can use this instead. 

I haven't worn kohl eyeliner in a long time, but I wasn't unhappy to find an Inika Certified Organic Eye Liner in the shade 05 Black Caviar (€14.08). Not only is it in a shade I can wear, I really like ethical, cruelty-free beauty, though the price tag that can come with these kind of products products is unfortunately not for everyone. Another product I wouldn't normally go for is the Tigi (Mini) Bed Head Manipulator (full size at €13.13). I don't think my hair type mixes with hair putty, but you don't know until you've tried it. 

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about receiving the Forza Multivitamin for Dieters (€10.41) though I can see how they'd be useful as we approach that time of year when the pressure for that "summer body" piles on, and the temptation for crash diets grows higher. I'm not sure I buy into their claim of "13 carefully selected vitamins & minerals", but hey, you can't go wrong with multivitamins whatever they're called, and these ones come with a little 48-page booklet full of advice on diets. It'll be interesting to explore. 

Nor am I too keen on getting the CB12 Mild Mint Menthol Mouthwash 30ml (€13.88 for 250ml). Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but receiving a product meant to fight against bad breath, with apparently a 12 hour effect, it makes it feel like someone might be trying to say something. That said, the sample size would come in very handy if you're a party person and occasionally wake up in the next day, in someone else's house, hungover and with terrible hangover morning breath and not a toothbrush in sight. 

Overall, I thought the box was pretty good. I think the selection of this month's products weren't necessarily all the types of products that excite me personally, and I would have liked something other than the eyeliner and the multivitamins to be full-sized, but I can see myself buying another box purely for the brands. Even if I'm not a fan of all the products, I really liked their selection of brands, and would recommend it for that. 

Have you bought a Look Fantastic box before? What do you think of this month's box?

While I was away... | Blog Planning

Monday, 13 April 2015

In my last post I mentioned that though I have been quiet for the past couple of weeks, it doesn't meant that I haven't been doing any kind of blogging - I've been doing what I call behind-the-scenes blogging (though I'm not entirely sure if that's the appropriate word for it). I've basically been doing a lot of planning. Planning anything, let alone your blog when you're feeling unmotivated and a little lost, can be overwhelming, but luckily I have had Regina of byRegina to guide me through it all (in spirit, through her amazing products). 

I already owned her EpicBlog one-year editorial planner, a beautifully designed A4 paper planner packed packed with everything that you need to meet your editorial planning needs for the year - including pages for your (mini) blog business plan and to record your blog post process and style so it's always to hand. However, since I got it at the beginning of the year, I haven't felt like I used it to its full potential. It was like I had acquired a great tool without really knowing how to use it. 

So I started reading her blog posts in search of a deeper understanding of the different elements that go into blogging, and I found what I was looking for. I realised that blogging - especially when you eventually want to kick it up a notch and turn it into a source of income or a base for a future business - is a mindful enterprise. We can all blog, but to blog well requires you to really think about all the different things that go into the mix like content, images, styles, social media, and so on and so forth. 

Since I'd been feeling so confused and aimless when it came to the content I wanted to produce on my blog, when I came across The Guide to Creating A Stellar Content Plan, it only took me a week of trying to convince myself I didn't really want it to finally hit the buy button. I wasn't entirely sure whether I would enjoy the eBook format, but the instant download meant I could get cracking instantly, as a pdf it looked great on my Surface, and I could easily print of the pages that I wanted (which like everything Regina makes were beautifully designed, with a navy 'stellar' theme). 

I am so glad I bought this book. It was exactly what I needed: a guide to helping me plan what goes into my blog. Though I think I initially wanted a step-by-step detailed guide that I only had to follow blindly to get me to desired results, in the end I prefer the way The Stellar Content Plan Workbook is more of a guideline. It provides you with the backbone of what you need to know, provides you with all the elements you need to have amazing content and then leaves the rest up to you. I found that it really got my creativity flowing again because it forced me to really think and then for all the things I was still stuck on, I could go out and research for myself and find answers to questions to I could have head earlier on if I had known to ask. 

The book covers everything from 'Topics + Categories' (with a fun exercise using note cards to help you figure them out) to how to produce email content when you reach that stage (a stage I am far from reaching). It really helped me get my content figured out, and now I have plan, it's easier to see where I'm headed, and hopefully I'll be less likely to get discouraged. I'm also really liked the way that 'The Guide to Creating a Stellar Content Plan' and the 'EpicBlog Editorial Calendar' are really complementary. Though I guess that makes sense - it's difficult to plan your content when you don't have your content in the first place.

I know that a lot of the time they say that you gain confidence by doing, but I really feel that the past couple of weeks taking time out to just plan have helped my blogging confidence grow so much, and I'm really excited to see how euhnella will turn out as a consequence. 

Do you plan when it comes to your blog or do you prefer to just figure it out as you go along?

So I've Been Away...

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The last post I wrote and published was more than a month ago. Which is a shame, as it wasn't that I didn't have any posts planned. In fact, my editorial calendar was all colour-coded and ready to go. it was just that every time I actually sat down to actually write out the posts...I couldn't. I realised that all the lessons that I had learned in 6 months of blogging, I wasn't actually applying, which was sucking the fun out of blogging faster than I could churn out the next article. The first lesson 'To Thine Own Self Be True' I was ignoring to my detriment. While I really enjoy writing about beaty products, it's not what I want euhnella to be solely about. And so trying to turn it into a beauty blog wasn't working. 

Though I've been quiet, that doesn't mean I haven't been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes blogging. I decided to go back to basics, and sit down and thoroughly plan. I know that planning can be an easy way to end up procrastinating by constantly telling yourself "I'll publish when I have xyz planned..." and in the end never getting round to actually writing, but in my case, I really did need to sit down and figure out the direction I wanted my blog to go in. 

Before you actually start a blog, it's difficult to gauge just how much hard work actually goes into blogging just by other bloggers telling you it's hard work - you actually have to live it. And what has been hardest for me has been finding my voice and figuring what kind of content I want to create and share on a regular basis. I think it has been hard for me because it meant breaking away from the perceived notions I had in my head of the kind of blogger I thought I'd be, and the blogger it turns out I actually want to be. 

Luckily I've been able to power through this block. My word of the year is 'persistence', and I knew that I had to figure out a way to make this blog work, rather than doing what I'd always done previously: calling it quits and starting "fresh" at another time, with a brand new blog. Discovering who you are as a blogger is actually more about trial-and-error, doing things and discovering you do or don't like them, if they do or don't work for you rather than executing everything to perfection the first time you get an idea to do something. 

So what does the future hold for euhnella? That's still to be figured out, but I have decided to share the process with you. I think one of the ways to find your voice in blogging is to aim for honesty and vulnerability, and sharing my struggles with blogging along the way, including the beauty elements (I still want to find a way to integrate beauty into my blog, as well as other topics), is one way that will help me not only grow my blog, but hopefully help others who might be on the same level, now or in the future, and want some inspiration to keep going. 

What about you? Do you ever struggle with blog content and direction?