Little Blog Update ♡

Hey everyone!

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted any reviews or pieces on here and I do have quite a few planned, including two book reviews, but at the moment my current day to day situation is that my main laptop in which I use photoshop to create headers and edit photos for my blog is at my boyfriend’s house so when I’m at my family home I, unfortunately, don’t have access to it and I’d rather wait to make a blog post with better quality photos and a header and such instead of typing up blog posts at home and adding in the rest later in an update!

In general I am enjoying the sunshine and coping with the heatwave we are having in the UK at the moment, so in general, on my off days I am lounging about and basking in the free time I have now University is finished for summer. I recently went to Blackpool Pleasure Beach for a day out and had a really lovely time, as well as discovered some nice cafes around my area, tried new cruelty-free/veggie products I think others may enjoy and just in general trying to be more grateful for the things I get to do in my free time and things I discover and see on a day-to-day basis!

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If you would love to read any particular topics from me in my future summer posts please let me know in the comments! Anything from cruelty-free products, wishlist posts, cafe/food reviews, makeup reviews, book reviews, bullet journal updates/how to go about starting them or anything!

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As a little add on to this post, here are some uplifting/nice news stories I’ve read recently I thought I’d share to cheer people up:

Thanks for reading and enjoy your week!

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How I got the motivation back for reading and writing

Long time, no blog!

Two days ago it was my 22nd birthday! It’s mad to think when I started writing this blog I was only 19 and still in the midst of figuring out if I wanted to go to University or carry on looking for full-time jobs, I remember being in the struggle of being made redundant from a dodgy apprenticeship company and just about finding what I loved to do – which is writing. So much has changed and I have changed a lot since being a teenager but I still sometimes feel like my 19-year-old self. However, I’m glad that writing and reading have become such a big passion in my life now whilst being in my early twenties (what a scary sentence to say!) and I feel it’s something that relaxes me and motivates me.

Obviously going back to University and especially doing a course that revolves around language and literature helped me get back motivation in reading and writing, but I definitely don’t find myself reading non-ficiton and textbooks for fun and I do still dread coursework and essays and procrastinate. But now I find that reading regularly definitely improves my concentration and even my writing skills. Last Winter, I got a wonderful opportunity to write poems for a University exhibition and in one of my modules I had to write so many words of my own contemporary novel – when I took the drafts to my tutor to get the feedback he told me my writing has improved massively since my first year and I definitely think reading has helped without me even realising!

I’d recommend keeping track of what books you have enjoyed and read too so you can look back and remember the stories and how they made you feel. I use a GoodReads account to keep track of the books I’ve read but also love posting them on my Instagram and sharing little reviews of what I thought! I’d also recommend maybe trying beloved classics or new genres to mix it up and surprise yourself! Last year I made a start on Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and ended up falling in love with it and starting my own little Austen collection which I hope to get through this year! I’m currently in the middle of Emma and have a weird adoration for how Austen writes.

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When it comes to writing and studying, I definitely feel setting up your own little study area in your house or keeping your notes colourful and interesting! For a while, I’ve been absolutely obsessed with a theme on Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest called ‘studyspo’ (Study Inspiration). People post their notes, diaries, bullet journals, desk setups and the different techniques they’ve used and it’s just really motivating because I look at them and think ‘Wow I wish I had my stuff all together like theirs!’. You don’t even need to have the high-end stuff they may have, simply getting cheap colourful fine-liners, highlighters, a pen and a cute notebook and you can transform your boring notes to something you have interest in and keeps in your memory. Another tip that goes hand in hand with that is definitely taking notes by hand. It’s been said that writing your notes by hand and paraphrasing them in your own words helps facts and information stick in your brain a lot faster than typing them up. I personally like to try and scribble down all my notes in class or downloading what tutors have put up on the student access site (e.g Blackboard) and making time to carefully rephrase and write them out again in a cute notebook with pretty handwriting so I can spend more time taking it in.

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Finally, I started my own bullet journal this year. I tried a little one last year and decided to take the plunge and get a gorgeous hardback notebook in London which I have made my bullet journal. These are great because you can design them how you want, make the spreads whatever you want and cater it to you and your priorities. In mine so far, as well as typical weekly diary spreads, I have made pages to remind me what books and films I’d like to discover this year, a calendar where I can colour each day in to match my mood so I can keep track of it and even a pretty page for my dungeons and dragons character! So many people have gotten into this and you can get inspiration off youtube, pinterest and instagram!

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I hope you enjoyed this and that it may even give you a bit of inspiration! I may in the future share some of my favourite Instagram handles and Pinterest boards I’ve made that have inspired me and motivated me!

Thank you for reading,

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How cruelty-free is my skincare routine?

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So if you know me, you’ll know I like trying my best to be eco-friendly and cruelty free – a lot of my old blog posts discuss ways and products that are better for nature and better for animals and a year or so on, I thought I’d look at my recent skincare routine and see what items are cruelty-free, eco-friendly and if they are good or not!

I’d reckon my skin type is combination/oily and extremely acne-prone. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have at least one pimple on my face and even if I didn’t I have unfortunate scarring from years of skin picking and breakouts. I’ve also tried to get into a habit of doing a full-blown, some may say high maintenance, skin-care routine each night after watching YouTube videos where people discuss practising the ‘Korean 10-step skincare routine‘, which involves a lot of products but apparently is the secret to getting your face in good condition. However I don’t have the money or motivation to get every part of this 10 step yet, so my routine at the moment is inspired by the routine but not quite!

  1. Cleansing

For cleansing, I am currently using the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. I was extremely lucky to receive a Liz Earle gift set for Christmas from my mum with a full bottle of the highly rated cleanser. The formula is enriched with cocoa butter which helps make my skin super smooth and the chamomile and eucalyptus in it is such a lovely smell and using it right before bed is extremely soothing and comforting. In terms of cruelty-free rating, Liz Earle has recently been given the BUAV seal of approval so it has the ‘cruelty-free’ rabbit attached to it, meaning it has not been tested on animals!

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2. Cleansing Part 2

According to the 10 step routine on SokoGlam, they say it’s important to do a double cleanse to ensure you get rid of all the residue of makeup or built up dirt that the first cleanse might not have got. They recommend a water-based cleanser for this so currently, I am using Botanics by Boot’s All Bright Micellar 3 in 1 Cleansing Solution. I’ve quite enjoyed using this as it leaves my skin feeling quite refreshed and isn’t drying and there isn’t much of a fragrance either so it’s not overwhelming. In terms of cruelty-free, the entire Botanics range is advertised as being mostly organic and natural, however maybe I’m not looking far enough, but there aren’t any definite claims online from the company that they are cruelty-free but a lot of websites saying they are classed as cruelty-free skincare and they are vegetarian friendly but not vegan friendly since some Botanics products contain beeswax!

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3. Exfoliator

I’ve only recently purchased (literally bought it this morning) my facial scrub, but I can definitely confirm I bought it due to it being cruelty-free, microbead free, vegan-friendly and paraben free! The Sukin Revitalising Facial Scrub is from the Australian brand Sukin Organics which aim to be Australia’s number one natural skincare brand. All products are made with ingredients that are naturally derived, vegan-friendly and cruelty-free which is amazing and I am very grateful I came across this scrub in Boots. I’ve only used it once but it was very soothing, not at all harsh or rough on the skin and smelt lovely!

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4. Toner

Another Liz Earle product makes its way in here! (Can you tell I’m a fan?) For toning, I have been using the Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic which also has a gorgeous scent to it, which makes me excited to use it because I feel it leaves my skin feeling fresh, awake and smelling lovely! It contains calendula, chamomile, aloe vera and Vitamin E all to hydrate and refresh your skin. Like I mentioned before, Liz Earle has been given the Cruelty-Free bunny sticker so it’s a great CF addition to my routine! Another little thing I love about it is the lid which has a little opening can be screwed open and close so you don’t find yourself wasting large drops of the liquid when applying it to a cotton pad! Compared to a bottle top that you have to try to be careful with when tipping.

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5. Essence/Serums

Now this is where the routine got confusing to me, a mere lazy girl who spent most of her adolescence with a skincare routine of just splashing hot water on her face before school and using pound shop makeup wipes each night to remove makeup and maybe using a face scrub in the shower if she could be bothered. The SokoGlam website describes an essence as ‘toner/serum hybrid made for hydrating and aiding skin repair’. However I haven’t really got any of these, and the one product I have that says ‘serum’ on it, I’ve been using as a moisturiser! Maybe this is where I’m going wrong! So instead of them, I have been using an oil on my face maybe once or twice a week to try to aid my skin and get rid of my acne scars! The one I have been using is the Yes To: Miracle Oil Evening Primrose Oil. My first few tries with this oil I thought I had made a bad choice since I’d find myself getting it all over my pillow and my hair sticking to my face, but then I chose to spend more time massaging my face with it and doing it a bit earlier each night to let it set in and I can definitely feel in the morning that it has made my skin softer!

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In terms of cruelty-free, the Yes To brand is known for being a brand that is ‘free of nasties and filled with goodies’, with a lot of their skincare products having fruits and essential oils in them to benefit the skin. Their website claims most of their products are vegan (some have beeswax/honey), contain no phthalates and they do not animal test and that they are part of the Leaping Bunny Program which is awesome!

6. Skipping Treatments, Sheet Masks and Eye cream and straight to Moisturiser and SPF!

So like I mentioned before, my skincare routine isn’t completely 10 steps so unfortunately, I have to skip doing treatments, sheet masks and eye cream as I don’t really own any! So my next step is straight to moisturising and during the day SPF cream! For moisturiser, I have been using the Superdrug Calm Skin Hydrating 2-in-1 Serum and Moisturiser.  I bought this mostly because I love any products with chamomile in as they normally smell very soothing and do good for my skin, however I feel like I’m yet to see any major effects of using this product – it claims to improve skin clarity after 4 weeks of use however my skin hasn’t changed much and it doesn’t really reduce any stress or redness. It is lightweight like it says though and smells very nice! Like most Superdrug own products it is also definitely cruelty-free and vegan-friendly!

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For SPF, although I can’t claim to be good at remembering to put on SPF every day, I have been using the Superdrug Solait Anti-Aging Fluid in SPF 50 since I picked it up last summer. I really enjoy this SPF cream as it doesn’t have that overpowering suncream smell and doesn’t leave white streaks if applied minimally. Again this is a Superdrug own product so it is cruelty-free and vegan friendly!

So as you can see, I’m really proud of myself and happy to know most of my skincare is cruelty-free! In the past I have also dabbled with using Soap and Glory’s Vitamin C Facial Wash that although is cruelty-free, actually contains microbeads so I threw it out, I have also used Superdrug’s Vitamin E toner which was cruelty-free and very refreshing to use in the summer but I have also used the Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit scrub which isn’t cruelty-free at all, so don’t worry if one or two of your products right now isn’t cruelty-free because when you have emptied them there is plenty of cruelty-free brands out there to switch too!

What products are you using at the moment? Any cruelty-free recommendations you’d like to share?

Thanks for reading!

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Little Update Regarding Sanitary Donations

Hey guys,

So if you’ve been following my posts, you know a while back I looked into the fact that an increasing number of people in the UK are finding it harder to access sanitary products and that some school children have had to miss days of education or makeshift products just so they can go about their day as they can’t afford or access sanitary products. I also did my own little survey to see what kind of periods people I know go through – how long their cycle is, if they’ve ever had to makeshift or use something that isn’t a sanitary product to clean up/absorb menstruation. Then, from there, I made my own Just Giving page (that is now closed) to raise some money so I could get together lots of products and donate them out to a couple of organisations that I believe are great organisations and causes who are out there trying to get sanitary products, help and comfort to people who cannot access them – especially in this social climate where youth homelessness is on the rise!

So I was going to save this for the big post I was going to make, but I was so grateful that by the end of my Just Giving page closing – we raised £35! I know my target was £100, but anything is so much better than nothing and I can’t thank the people who came forward and donated enough! You are such lovely people.

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So last week, when the money had reached my Paypal, I sat down and split up where the money was going and in the end the four organisations I am giving to is

Monthly Gift MCR

The Booths Centre in Manchester

Every Month MCR

Bloody Good Period

I have linked to their pages, where you can look for yourself in detail about how you can donate and what they do.

So, without spoiling much for the big blog post where I talk about it, I have already gone and sorted out the donations for 3 of these organisations and it was so uplifting sorting it out. Unfortunately, you may have heard about the incident in Manchester the past week. It was absolutely horrible what happened and absolutely heartbreaking to think of the parents who have lost their beautiful children in what happened. It’s been a few days since and I am only now just feeling comfortable about going back into Manchester City Centre and feeling safe – the community of Manchester is definitely what makes you feel safe. Hearing the news about queues at blood banks, queues at tattoo studios for the Manchester tattoo appeal, the amount of donations and money raised, the outcomes for vigils – it’s all so amazing and really shows how close Manchester is and it makes me proud that I was born and raised here.

The last organisation I need to sort out donations for is in Manchester City Centre you see, so I have not yet got the chance or felt up for going into the Arndale and getting all the bits together and taking it to the donation box. Monthly Gift have a lovely pink bin situated in the shop Oklahoma in Northern Quarter and that’s where all the donations will be taken, so because of the fact it’s not something I can do online, that’s the reason for my delay. I know it’s a terrible reason and hopefully this coming week I will be able to go into town.

Once again, I can’t thank everyone enough who donated or shared my Just Giving page – every little helps makes a small difference!

Have a lovely weekend,

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Period Survey Update

Hello guys, sorry it’s been a bit of a delay from my last post where I spoke about looking into the recent reveal of young people not being able to access sanitary products in the UK. In good news I read about how Bodyform are planning to donate 200,000 free sanitary products to people who are unable to access them by 2020. The products will be donated to ‘various charities who support women and girls affected by homelessness, poverty, disabilities, illness and domestic violence’. I read that story not long after I made my post talking about it so it makes me happy to know it is being taken as a serious problem. You can read the article about Bodyform’s plan here!

This’ll be a quick post where I lay out the statistics and data I got from my small survey, which got 62 responses! I’m so happy that people filled it in and wasn’t expecting that many responses so thank you to people who filled it in and took the time.

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So for example the first two questions where I asked how many tampons do people go through in one period and how many pads and I noticed a majority of people in the 62 responses don’t actually use tampons and when it comes to pads, majority use 11+ sanitary pads in one period. But still even in the tampons question a good 22.58% of people use 11+ tampons. I feel this starting data proves why not being able to access sanitary products is a bigger problem for young people than others may think. Most basic packs of sanitary pads have around 14 pads in them, so a lot of people would need at least 1 or 2 packs of pads a month.

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The next question is looking at the average of how long periods last to put it into perspective why people need 11+ tampons or pads in one period. Only 3.23% of 62 people have very short periods. So this starting data is all very basic but if I was to go through with an idea of donating products to a charity or saving up for some it gives everyone a brief idea of how many products each person may want for one period.

Other data we look at is putting into perspective how real the problem is, even when you are luckier than most. Out of 62 people only 1 person has never had the ordeal of having to make shift something to replicate a pad when bleeding. A lot of the open answers discussed having to use toilet paper or making a ‘pad’ out of toilet paper when they couldn’t get a pad or tampon. I feel this data shows us maybe making pads/tampons accessible in toilets, schools and work a lot easier when people are not carrying the products or have the time/money to go and buy some.

Another depressing statistic is that 16.13% of my responses said they have had to skip school because of lack of sanitary products. Majority of respondents felt like their school didn’t do enough to provide sanitary products.

From reading all the respondent’s answers to each question (again, very grateful to everyone who took time out to answer), I feel it opens up the reality of the situation and what it’s like growing up and requiring sanitary products. I’ve been a bit busy the past week but hopefully this week, using this data and having a look at what suitable charities and donation boxes there are in my area I will then type up what my plan is to try and do my own contribution! I’m thinking of maybe setting up a small donation/sponsors page so I can get sponsors if I was to make period packs or buy bulk sanitary products to donate to charities!

Thanks for reading, I’ll keep you updated!

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Small ideas to kick start productivity when you suffer from depression

This could be similar for people suffering with depression or people who have quite normal brain chemistry alike but a lot of days you just don’t have the energy to do anything. To me it makes me feel like my body is ill but there’s no symptoms I just feel drowsy and ready to nod off and you want to avoid everything. Sometimes on worst days, literally everything. Grossly enough, you might even avoid showering and feel content to just staying in pyjamas for a couple of days on end, making excuses not to see friends because you just don’t feel it’ll do you any good. You feel like your body is not up to it for some reason.

Anybody else feel this? It’s a bit of a pants feeling, but I promise you, some very small steps can help you boost your motivation and get you back on track.

  1. Wash your face – This is such a small step I know, but it will refresh you. There’s a good reason why it’s one of the first things you do to wake yourself up in the day. Doesn’t matter if it’s mid afternoon, evening or 2am, go cleanse your face with some water and exfoliate and then splash cool water on it. Your skin will feel clean and awake.
  2. Select a part of your room and clean it – Cleaning your room is a huge drain of energy when you feel like this, I understand. So pick a small part, this could be your desk, your bed, your bookshelf, wardrobe. Give it a good clean, for example your bed area: take your duvet off, sprinkle/spray a bit of essence or your favourite perfume on the sheets, make your bed again and then vacuum around it! Maybe even take it up a notch and budge your bed over if you can and vacuum underneath the bed! I’ll be proud of you even if you just make your bed!
  3. Shower – This speaks for itself. Take a lovely warm shower and use a nice smelling shower gel. If you have to go out and are in reach of a Superdrug you could pick up one of their shower gels for only 99p! Cruelty free and they will lighten up your mood with the delicious scents. The shea butter one will leave a sweet linger that will comfort you and make you smell as sweet as you are.
  4. Get dressed and take a walk – Taking even a small 15 minute walk burns around 60 calories and gives your body a good pump of blood circulation. You get some fresh air as well and if you take a walk in the day which is the best time for this productive walk – you’ll get some vitamin D from the sun which will improve your mood balance. Put on your comfiest, cutest jumper and take your music out with you and enjoy the scenery. Take a few photos of scenery you like for yourself. No need to put them on Instagram or get sad if they’re not good images. This is all for you.

So you’ve done all that? That is incredibly productive and you should feel proud. You should never force yourself to do too many things in a day if you don’t want to. Taking a walk, showering and cleaning is productive enough! I hope these small tasks make you feel a bit more motivated to do other stuff. Maybe invite a friend on your walk, maybe do some small exercises in your room or even clean more of your room!

Is there any small things you do to motivate yourself?

Thanks for reading,

Helena x

Youtube vs. WordPress

Youtube is an extremely popular social media/blogging platform in these recent years and a lot of ‘youtube stars’ can go on to amazing opportunities like appearing on tv shows, radio appearances and invitations to premieres and events. It seems like a dream job for a lot of teenagers to make videos discussing  their favourite things or joking about like stars including Danisnotonfire or having a youtube channel with tons of subscribers watching as you play video games and commentate however it is a massive struggle to get to the place some of these people do. You can hardly just quit your job and depend on running a youtube channel when you only have one or two subscribers.

Lately I’ve pondered working creatively on both my blog and a youtube channel and tried to explore the process of making videos, talking to a camera and video editing and I am on and off about it. Some of the differences I’ve noticed from doing one or two videos is that, personally, I feel it’s a lot less pressure expressing through writing. Maybe that’s based on my personality and comfort zone. I am quite an introverted person but I love expressing my feelings, opinions and talking about stuff, however growing up quiet and shy, talking for long periods of time can end up with me stammering, falling over my words a bit and going off on a tangent.

My latest video I uploaded last night was me talking about my favourite phone apps – something I believe if I had written this piece, maybe I could of gone into more descriptive reviews of each app, however when you are making a video, you feel you’re on a time limit and to captivate and draw in a new audience – nobody ever really wants to listen to someone drawl on unless they’re already along for the ride of a youtuber. Let’s be honest some youtube videos I only watch the whole thing and stay until the end of the video because I like the personality and as someone who is introverted, my personality isn’t going to be fully presented to somebody watching me however through writing is might be. I can’t mispronounce or forget what I had to say as I type and if I feel I have missed an important point, I can go back to it later.

Another difference to youtube expression vs. writing expression is possibly it is easier for a lot of audiences to sit down and read my blog. When you’re commuting, scrolling through a post and skimming it allows people to take more information in than a video where you may have to concentrate and have the volume up. Blogging is also a lot easier process for someone with a busy schedule or impulsive ideas, such as myself. A lot of effort has to be put into a good video where you are discussing a subject. You think of your idea, make notes or even a script for your video, sit down, get the lighting and camera ready, film, put your film on the computer, go through all the editing, rendering and then finally upload/process on youtube. However, say I want to talk about something important or I have a writing idea randomly, I can easily sit down and write about it.

Finally, the one favouring point that draws me towards writing is that I can be a lazy bum behind my laptop, however if I want to make a youtube video I feel very pressured to make sure I look decent and pretty in my videos. I am extensively picky about how I look in photos and videos and after I’ve uploaded my videos, a bad habit of picking out flaws in the way I look or act in my video kind of overcomes me. I do not have that insecurity with my writing which means I feel much more happy, proud and comfortable with it.

So yeah, thought I’d share my feelings about writing and youtube! Feel free to check out my youtube videos if you want, I may upload some more in the future but I definitely feel dedicated to my writing.

Thanks for reading,

Helena x