Wednesday, 28 May 2014

e.l.f Summer Makeup Haul

Hey guys! e.l.f were having a great 50% off sale a few weeks ago so I decided to pick up a few things that I've been wanting for a while. I've never bought anything from the budget makeup brand before, but I've heard good things, so here we go! I was really impressed with the overall quality of everything I bought, especially considering how cheap it all was. 

Friday, 23 May 2014

Bank Holiday Weekend Glamour

With all of the revision and work I've been doing lately, I can't even explain how much I am in need of a night off! Thankfully this weekend is a Bank Holiday in the UK, meaning I have the perfect excuse to head to town for a well deserved dance and few drinks with my friends. I like to get dressed up, and especially on a Saturday when everybody else will be all glam as well, so I decided to put together a makeup look that is glamorous and dressy, yet still summery and bright. 

For this look I am wearing: 

Max Factor Facefinity 3-in-1 Foundation in Light Ivory
Dainty Doll Hot Pour Concealer in Shade 2
L'Occitane Fleur Cherie Blush in Rose Dentelle
Natural Collection Pressed Powder in Translucent
NYC Eye Shadow in Luxury Reborn (As contour and on eyebrows - I use it as just about everything except an eye shadow to be honest!)
MUA Undress Me Too Palatte in shades Lavish, Devotion, Wink, Corrupt and Shy
Miss Sporty Fabulous Lash Mascara in Black
Kate Moss for Rimmel London Lasting Finish Lipstick in 001

I tried to get an eye shadow close up but it didn't pick up the shimmer very well... In real life this is a very shimmery look, with Devotion especially picking up the light beautifully. Some false eyelashes would go well with this I think, especially those with jewels or glitter bits in them. This lipstick is a new one that I picked up a few weeks ago on sale, and I'm quite impressed with it. It's a bright, cherry red that really pops against most skin colours and it lasts fairly well for being so pigmented. I wouldn't mind a highlighter to wear with this look either, but I'm still waiting on one to be delivered! Maybe next time. 

I think I'll recreate this look tomorrow night to wear with a red skirt and red wedges, with a black crop top and tousled curly hair. What do you think of this look? Do you have any nice plans for the bank holiday weekend? Let me know below! 

- Natalie XOX

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Top Tips for Healthy Hair

I think the thing I most get complimented on in terms of my appearance is my hair. It's thick, naturally wavy and I tend to wear it quite long usually, so I do quite like it myself as well. However, i've been dying it various colours since I was 14, so that's 6 years now of damage! It's never been bleached except for the odd streak here and there, so that's something, but it's definitely not very close to my natural colour anymore. So I thought I'd share some of my top tips that I use to keep my hair happy and healthy. 



I never blow dry my hair unless I really, really have to. Like, 'I've woken up late and only have five minutes to get ready' kind of have to. I find it makes it brittle and thin feeling, whereas letting it air dry leaves it softer and more touchable. If my boyfriend didn't use it, my hairdryer would genuinely only be used once every couple of months! I also don't own any straighteners and very rarely use them, and I tend to wear overnight curlers or plaits/rags if I want my hair curlier. I know going completely heat-free isn't for everyone, so I'd say make sure to always use heat protection spray if you absolutely can't avoid it. It really does make all the difference. 



I'm a big believer in getting my hair trimmed every 8-10 weeks or so, especially if I'm trying to grow it. I'm lucky enough to have really fast growing hair, so if I'm trying to keep a side fringe or something it needs trimmed about once a month to keep it under control - I tend to do this myself, as it's easier and cheaper. Get to know your hair and how quickly it grows, and check regularly for split ends. The top left photo above is the longest I've had my hair in a while, it was nearly down to my bum last summer! It was nice, but hard to manage, so now I prefer it a few inches past my shoulders. 



I wash my hair about 3 or 4 times a week, with Tresemme Colour Protect shampoo and conditioner, although sometimes I'll use Head and Shoulders Apple Fresh shampoo instead since Tresemme gives me a bit of build-up when I use it all the time. I'd say my hair is between oily and normal, but I can leave it about two days max between washing before it really starts to look rubbish and i'm reaching for the dry shampoo. I leave my conditioner on for at least five minutes, usually longer, while I shave my legs or something to let it sink in completely. I also like to do deep conditioning treatments about once a month, and I use Vo5 Shine On Serum for days when my hairs looking a bit dull and needs perking up, or for days when I'm losing the battle with my frizzy bits. 



When I was a redhead I pretty much exclusively used Live Colour XXL in either Real Red or Hypnotic Red. They're not too bad, but they do leave my hair feeling a bit weakened and I noticed they would fade quite quickly. Now that i'm back to a darker brunette I use Garnier Nutrisse Creme in Deep Reddish Brown, which is so lovely. It feels like conditioner on your hair and leaves a really nice, long-lasting colour. As I said, I don't bleach but I have before for a dip dye and it left my hair in pretty bad condition. I found that regular (like at least once a fortnight) deep conditioning and shine serum helped a lot though, as did not blow drying it. 



Because my hair is quite thick, I use a paddle brush pretty much exclusively. Any other style feels like it pulls and breaks my hair too much, whereas the big surface area of a paddle brush smooths hair and detangles my wavy mess quite nicely. I also tend to not brush when my hair is very wet, instead I leave it until it's just damp and then go at it. I've never tried a Tangle Teezer or anything, but I think they could be nice to have a go with - I'm not convinced they'd get through my hair enough for my liking though. 

So that's my top tips! Obviously everybody's hair is different and mine isn't in perfect condition, but I do like how it is now and I hope with a lot of care and attention it can stay this way for a while yet. Do you give your hair special attention, or does it tend to fall by the wayside? Do you change your routine for summer as the weather warms up? Let me know below!

- Natalie XOX

Sunday, 18 May 2014

My Weekend + Primark Haul

Hey guys! I just got home about an hour ago so there's no Sewing Sunday post today I'm afraid. Instead I thought I'd share a few things from my weekend with you, including some things I bought in Primark. 

We spent this weekend in Newcastle, mostly for my nana's birthday. The whole family went on a night away together in a lovely hotel in a little Northumberland village called Bamburgh. If you've never been, it's a tiny, gorgeous little place with an amazing castle and a huge beach. Just look at the view we had from our room! We all had a nice meal and a drink together and generally had a really good time. It's not very often all of us manage to get together outside of Christmas, so seeing everybody was a nice treat and the cake was bloody lovely too!

Bonus bathroom selfie of me and my gorgeous little sister. I attempted to contour my makeup, do you think it looks okay?

As well as spending time with the family, I also went to see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 3D, which was very good indeed. I won't spoil it for those of you who haven't seen it, but I'm just going to say it was quite upsetting at one point!! I managed to fit in a cheeky little shopping trip too while we were there. I miss not having a Primark where I live, so I always head there when I'm back home visiting family. Here's what I got:

In case it's not obvious, this tote bag is MASSIVE. I'm not sure how much it cost since my mam bought this one and then gave it to me, but I love it. It was perfect for bringing back all of the little things that wouldn't fit in the backpack on the way back home. This dress was £5 reduced from £10, and I loved the colours and the drapey skirt. 

These cropped jeans were £7, and they're just the kind of style I like. I swear I buy jeans similar to these every year and every year I manage to lose them. Still, for under a tenner you can't really complain. I also picked up these nails - I don't really ever wear false nails, but I loved the bright colours of these and thought since they were only £1 I might give it a go next time i'm going out somewhere nice. 

All in all I've had a great weekend. The weather was amazing and I couldn't have asked for a nicer break from my exam revision, which I'm sadly heading back to first thing tomorrow. What do you think of my purchases? Have you been anywhere nice this weekend? Let me know below!

- Natalie XOX

Thursday, 15 May 2014

New Makeup Brushes

Hey guys! I'm off home this weekend to spend a few days with my family - it's my grandma's 60th Birthday so we're all going up to a hotel for a night and I'm really looking forward to it. I thought I would quickly share my latest beauty purchase with you all first though - I got this super cute set of makeup brushes online for about £9 on sale a few weeks ago, and they arrived today in this lovely purse-style case. 

Inside the folding case there are 12 brushes of varying sizes. They were all individually wrapped inside and some have covers to avoid staining the inside of the case after use. They feel nice and sturdy and not like they might fall apart. 

First some teeny tiny brushes that are quite short and firm, I think best used for gel eyeliner, lipstick and eyebrows. 

Then some slightly larger eye shadow brushes of various sizes, all very soft and fluffy. There is also one which I think will be good for concealer, and a stippling brush for applying certain types of foundation. I've never used one these before and i'm excited to try it out.

And finally the big fluffy brushes. One for liquid foundation, an angled brush for contouring, and a big fluffy brush for powder and powder foundations. I have a kabuki brush already which I like to use for powder, so i'll have to see if I prefer this one. If not, it'll be a good blusher brush I think. 

So what do you think? What makeup brushes do you use? Since this is my first proper set, I'm excited to try them out and see which ones I use and which I don't so if I decide to get more expensive ones in the future I can make an informed decision. Let me know below! 

- Natalie XOX

Monday, 5 May 2014

To Tan or Not To Tan?

As you've probably gathered by now, I am not a bronzed beauty. I would sooner term myself 'pale and interesting', or 'fair and bright', although growing up in a family of olive-skinned people who tan freakishly quickly even in the dim British summer heat, I think 'milk-bottle weirdo' was probably the most frequent descriptor I heard. I have light blue eyes, a whole bunch of freckles that make my doctors very nervous whenever I so much as hint that I sometimes forget to wear sun-cream, and over-exposed photos tend to give me a shocking resemblance to a young Voldemort. With practice, patience and a teeny bit of light bronzer I can just about manage to not glow in the dark most days, but in winter especially, I am more often than not a pretty definitive shade of pinkish white.

Middle photo is from last week, and is forcing me to finally admit that i'm becoming slightly addicted to snapchat. Add me @watchingtherain if you want to chat! :) 

That said, aside from how difficult it is to find foundations to suit well, I actually quite like my skin tone. It suits me well and I know by now what colours will make me washed out and which will make me look awesome. I really hate being sunburned, and I very rarely manage to get a natural tan through my religiously applied factor 30 - it literally takes weeks of near constant sunshine, something quite rare in the extreme north of England. Usually I just go a bit pink, if anything at all.

However, last summer I spent almost 8 straight weeks working mostly outdoors in one of the nicest summers we've ever had, and oh boy. I actually visibly changed colour. For the first time since I was young I actually developed a light tan and I received so many compliments on how much healthier, nicer and all-round better my skin looked. Personally, I also felt like my skin looked a lot healthier. I actually quite liked it, and this summer its got me thinking. Have I been missing out? 

Should probably acknowledge that my version of 'tan' is most other people's version of 'oh my god, pass the bronzer, i'm so pale today'. Also - surprise boyfriend appearance! He goes brown literally as soon as he steps outdoors, from about April to October, so he's no help really. 

Well, I'm still very cautious about skin damage. Skin cancer is all too prevalent in younger people and keeping my skin healthy is my number 1 priority, so you'll definitely not see me on any sunbeds any time soon. But I think this summer, i'm going to tentatively dip my toe into the world of self-tanning of the bottled, 2-for-1 from Boots variety, and see how I fare. I don't fancy being bright orange, but I'm no longer so scared of seeing myself with a little bit of a golden glow to my skin. It's only temporary after all! 

What do you think of tanning? Are you naturally fair-skinned, or do you tan easily? Do you think you look better with a bit of a glow, or would you prefer to be paler? Let me know below! 

- Natalie XOX

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Sewing Sunday: Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed...

Hello all! 

I was hoping to have today's post be a finished dress to show you all, but unfortunately my sewing machine keeps jamming on me and I think it needs either deep cleaned, or repaired, neither of which I can get around to doing until next week at the earliest. 

Still, I can give you an updated on what I'm currently working on! I'm making a 60's inspired shift summer dress. It's sleeveless, with a high neckline and a bit of a flare to the bottom. I'm making it in lightweight white cotton with a teeny tiny strawberry print on it (anybody spot the reference in the blog post title haha?), and i'm following my own pattern. The fabric is from a stall in Leeds Indoor Market, and was on sale for £3.50 per meter. 

Adorable, right?
I'm vaguely following a tutorial from SewPetiteGal who makes wonderful clothes and writes really easy to follow instructions. Honestly, if my sewing machine would just work properly, this would have only taken me an hour or two to finish entirely. The pattern is created by tracing around an existing dress shape. I chose a dress I own from Lipsy, which you can kind of see in this photo. 

I love the fit of this dress which is really important to consider in a DIY project like this, and the neckline is high but sits nicely, making it perfect to use. Would you believe this dress only cost me £3 on ebay? I do love a bargain ;) 

The dress is in three parts, very simple and easy to put together. The front is all one piece, cut on the fold of the fabric, and the back is two matching vertical pieces which I'm going to join with a green exposed zipper. I haven't decided how to finish the arm and neck holes yet, but I'm thinking about a green bias tape maybe, to strengthen them and add some extra flexibility to the fairly thin fabric. Hopefully I can get this finished off quite soon, and I'll be sure to share it on here when I do. Thanks for reading! 

- Natalie XOX

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Spring-Summer Party Dresses

Is it just me, or is anybody else's social calendar filling up very rapidly all of a sudden? Between university graduation, leaving parties, friends getting married, babies getting christened, lots of 21st Birthday's approaching and university work events, I'm starting to wonder whether I actually have enough time in the day to make it to all of these things, let alone enough clothes to wear. So I thought I'd make a few little inspiration boards on my Polyvore for the different types of events I'm going to be attending this Spring/Summer. Hope you enjoy! 

To be honest, living by the beach BBQs are pretty much our standard go-to weekend activity in Summer. But whether you're drinking through a case of Magners with your mates or making small talk with your parents friends over sparkling water and funny tasting salad, a floaty dress and some comfy sandals to match will get you through all of the various BBQ events you can dream of. Keep shoes flat or sturdy wedges to ensure you're comfortable and happy all day, even if you're standing up for long periods. 

I know SO many engaged people right now! Unfortunately I'm not yet one of them ;) but still, wedding season is approaching, and depending on how formal or casual the particular event is going to be, you can really play around with bright prints or classy neutrals. Plus, you know, any excuse to wear a fancy head flower thingy. Fascinator, is that it? Whatever it is, they're very cute indeed. We need to find a lot more reasons to wear those in everyday life.

I've been lucky enough to be nominated for an award by my university regarding the work I do in schools outreach, so I have a fancy award ceremony to attend next week that i'm really looking forward to. Work events can be hard to dress for, because they're generally not super formal, but more so than a night out on the town. My advice is to keep hemlines reasonable and play around with textures and fabrics to create interest whilst still sticking to a relatively calm colour palette. 

My birthday happens to be in July, and although I'm turning 21, I'm unfortunately going to be quite busy that week so i'm not going to be doing too much. Still, i'm going to try and have a good night out with my friends to celebrate. I really like dressy outfits which can go easily straight from a restaurant meal or a cinema date to a bar or nightclub, and I think the outfits above would work for that. Just add a shrug or light jacket and a clutch bag and you're set for the whole night - perfect for when you suspect you might be getting just a tiiiiiiny little bit inebriated. 

I hope you enjoyed these looks! Which ones do you think would suit you best? Do you have upcoming events that you're really looking forward to? Let me know below! 

- Natalie XOX

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Chanel Inspired Spring Makeup with Healthy Glow Fluid

Another makeup look so soon? I know! But I just had to share. I took inspiration from this video by Lisa Elridge for Chanel and tried out a subtle, glowing look with pinks and lilacs for spring. I don't often tend to wear pinks and purples on my eyes and I'm worried about them accentuating my eternal genetic dark circles, but I think it works quite well here. 

I went a little light on the colours, but I think a more heavy handed approach would really work just as well depending on what you want from it, approaching filthy sunset level for those who really aren't afraid of oranges and pinks on their face like I am (Warning: the above link is NSFW due to very, very strong language, but is well worth a watch if you're not of the faint of heart - a wonderful makeup tutorial from one of my favourite controversial drag queens with some actual brilliant advice contained within. I literally learned how to apply false lashes from watching drag queens - nobody does it better.). 

For my base, I used my regular foundation mixed with a little serum and a little of Chanel's Les Beiges All-In-One Healthy Glow Fluid, to create a kind of homemade BB cream with a little extra. It was a little dark for my skin I think (the sample I received was No 30, I think I'm much closer to a No 20 or even a No 10), but I did love the glow from within effect that the Healthy Glow cream created. It was immediately noticeable, and still remained even after setting with powder. If I had a spare £40-50 to spend on makeup I would definitely be tempted.

As a pale girl with a pretty massive forehead and big eyebrows, I've always been a fan of Chanel makeup and the way they choose to present their models because they tend to focus on subtly enhancing the features that are already there as opposed to hiding what isn't wanted, and I love that. Models like Cara Delevingne have shown that features such as strong brows and a baby face can and should be embraced and shown off rather than toned down and hidden, and I just think that's an excellent message, and one I would have been very glad to hear as a younger girl. 

(Idk why the lighting is so weird here by the way, I swear my face is actually all one colour and not half and half like it looks here!)

If you like this pared back Spring look, let me know below!

- Natalie XOX