Saturday, 17 June 2017

Everyday Summer Makeup Staples

Hi guys.... long time no blog! I took a long break from posting (it's an even longer story!) but I'm happy to be back in the swing of things again. I'm writing this on the hottest day of the year so far, so I thought it'd be the perfect chance to chat about my summer makeup routine. These products are what I use virtually every single day in the warmer months and have seen me through some pretty sweaty situations!

The Base

Now, I'd love to be confident enough about my skin to forgo foundation altogether on a hot day, but the only places you'll ever see me totally makeup free are the gym and the beach! I have very oily skin and some acne scarring so I tend to opt for a light layer of something medium coverage and mattifying - the last thing you need on a hot day is an oil slick going on.

Last year I discovered Maybelline's Fit Me Matte & Poreless foundation and I've been using it on and off ever since, for when I'm worried about my skin getting its shine on. It keeps the dreaded sheen at bay for longer than my other products and doesn't feel heavy on the skin or cling to any dry patches.

The Concealer

I've yet to find a girl that doesn't own a Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer, and for good reason. It does the job and it stays put all day! I use the no. 1 shade, which is probably a touch too light for me, but no. 2 is a little orange on my skin. A bit of blending hides that completely though and I feel a lot more confident with scarring and spots covered.

The Contour

When Kat Von D Beauty hit Debenhams last year I was so bloody happy. One of my first purchases was the Shade and Light Contour Palette and I think I must have used it every day since. You can tell by the photos in this post that my favourite shade is the lighter cool tone for daytime wear, but I do head to the darker shades and highlighters in the evenings. I use these as a contour and as a bronzer too to add a bit more of a glow,

The Blush

I've spoken before about how much I love the Soap and Glory blushes. They're pigmented but blendable and 'Rosy Chic' is a beautifully natural looking colour. Admittedly if it's a day as hot as today I'm already so beetroot that blush isn't needed, but most days I'll splash this across my cheeks with a Real Techniques brush to look that bit more awake and alive!

The Brows

I don't wear any eye makeup, so brows are my go-to area when it comes to giving a bit more oomph to my look and looking 'done'. I'm currently crazy about Soap and Glory's brow pencils - you can either get them with a brush at the opposite end or a liquid tint, which is handy! The pencil is fine so that you can add lots of small strokes and get beautifully filled-in brows in no time.

As my eyebrows are quite long and bushy (SO glad that's become trendy by the way!) they can get messed up easily. I go over the shape with Maybelline Brow Drama mascara just to fix the shape in place. I use the Medium Brown shade despite having dark hair because I find the end result is far less harsh.

The Lips

If winter is for matte berry lips, then summer is about muted glosses and going natural. I received an Arrow Boost lip balm in a Birchbox a while back now and I use it all the time. The stick of balm is totally clear but when applied the PH of your lips causes the product to change colour and provide a flush of pink along with some serious moisture. It means that no two users of the product end up with the exact same shade!

What products to you always reach for when it comes to summer makeup? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Rejecting perfection: Why I couldn't care less about having my 'shit' together

I'm someone who has always put a lot of pressure on myself: to have a spotless home, an organised handbag, an endless selection of (largely unused) notebooks and makeup organised meticulously into shiny acrylic display holders. But lately I've become more and more aware of something that was probably inevitable but is still pretty disturbing. Having your shit together has become ridiculously commercialised, and I've really fallen victim to it.

Think about some of your favourite bloggers, YouTubers or famous faces. From lifestyle bloggers to healthy chefs, Instagram yogis and more - all we really see in their social media are images of pure perfection. They make appearing organised, well put together and successful look easy. And their followers, myself included, find this aspirational. We want what they have, and to project a similar image, because it's cool to have your shit together.

From bullet journalling to self help books, influencers have spawned an entire industry dedicated to being organised. Expensive Pinterest-worthy homes paraded on social media have also contributed to this. What 20-something woman doesn't have a set of cute miniature cacti on her bookshelf, or a motivational print hanging above her desk? (I certainly do) A craze for ladylike brunches of avocado on toast has also taken off even though most of us probably find the stuff gross. Working in scandi-chic cafes on marble encased MacBook Pros is all the rage.

But it's made to look so attractive that everyone is doing it. Perfection is the new black. 

Lately I've noticed several hugely well-known influencers complaining that it's not all glamorous outfit photos and exclusive brand dinners, but I find it very hard to be sympathetic towards this. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that most of these figures have worked incredibly hard to get to where they are, and just like every job I'm sure there are downsides. I'm sure they have all kinds of personal struggles behind the scenes just like you and I. But herein lies the crux of the problem. 

The parts of their lives that we are shown are a glorified highlight reel. It's very rare (with the exception of a few big names that regularly engage in #realtalk) that we see anything about these people's lives that humanises them. I'm sure that they, just like me, have been so tired and overworked that they drop a 4 pinter of milk on the kitchen floor and just burst into tears. I'm sure they have relationship problems, health scares, messy bedrooms and career worries the same as anybody else. But they just don't show it. 

And I really wish they did. It would mean so much to so many young women who are struggling with everything from mental health to financial problems, who feel like they could never achieve what these influencers have, to be reminded that really we're all the same and all get lost in the chaos of life sometimes. When all we're confronted with are edited versions of others, we start to believe we're inferior with our messy lives and rented magnolia bedrooms.

Perfectionism is the devil. Obligation and guilt are demons we can all live without

I don't blame big influencers for wanting to seem perfect - the picture of health, style and positivity. It's what makes them so attractive to brands. It's how they make their money. But ultimately, it's just not real. 

Many of these people have agents, managers, accountants, videographers, editors and everything in between helping them take their success to the next level. Product placements and PR events have evolved into huge brand campaigns, book deals and makeup lines. But where is the substance? Where is the realness? The lines are so blurred that audiences just doesn't know anymore.

And I'm not suggesting that influencers should have to share every nitty gritty detail of their lives with us - privacy is a basic human right, and most us are grown-up enough to know that what we see is very much censored. But I do feel is that there is an element of responsibility here, to inject a touch of balance into the squeaky clean videos and images girls as young as 11 or 12 are consuming on Instagram and YouTube daily. 

All I know is this

For too long I've been feeling like I have to be just like these people. To spend every penny on the latest stuff, to spend so long taking photos of my coffee it's gone cold when I finally take a sip, to carefully design a weekly schedule in my bullet journal and never tick any of it off anyway. Comparing my acne-scarred face to a photoshopped version of someone who's used face creams costing hundreds of pounds that I don't have. And I've finally realised that none of it matters.

It's not healthy to put pressure on yourself to always be hyper-organised perfectly dressed and fully in control of your life. Nobody actually has their shit together. It's a disturbing projected image that reminds me a little too much of that 1950s-style Stepford Wives aspirational lifestyle. Be practically perfect in every way or be rejected by society. 

Why are we so afraid of being publicly honest about the struggles of everyday life? Why do we allow advertising and social media to set such high standards, and get disappointed when we don't live up to them? We are we so worried about being our own weird selves and straying from a spotless bleached white and pastel colour palette? Where did our personalities go?

Do what you want

One evening a while back I'd been scrolling Instagram for what seemed like hours (to the point that my hands hurt) and it hit me just how much I'd been sucked into all of this. Many of us preach that comparison is the thief of joy, but we allow other people to shove their supposedly perfect lives under our noses for hours and hours of the day. 

After this moment I stepped back from all things blogging for a few weeks. I turned off push notifications and abandoned Instagram pods, I missed Twitter chats, ignored my YouTube subs and abandoned the blog post schedule I was struggling to keep up with alongside changing jobs. And it did wonders for my mental state.

It felt so bloody good to remember what it was like not to obsess over Instagram themes, monthly pageviews and how many retweets I was getting. I went for dinner and didn't take photos of my food. I didn't feel desperately compelled to place an order for a bunch of 'useful' stationery I'd never use. I posted dark, low quality photos of little moments on the go that made me smile. Who cares if my hair's a mess or my nails are chipped or I didn't use a selfie light to show of my highlight?

Is my engagement worse as a result of it? Yes. Of course it is, because we're all so obsessed with perfection that anything less gets ignored (or worse, unfollowed). But did I enjoy it? Hell yeah. It was liberating. And should I continue to blog and keep up my social media from now on, you can expect less of the stuff I think you'll love and more of what interests me.

Be more real, don't change yourself or buy things just because that's what somebody else has done. Don't agonise over 'having it all'. Just do what makes you happy.


Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Olympus Pen E-PL8 - worth the upgrade?

I've been the proud owner of an Olympus Pen E-PL7 for about 18 months now. I absolutely love it, but like many I found myself wondering if it was worth an upgrade when the shiny new E-PL8 was unveiled. A couple of weeks ago I got the chance to try out the new model at Campkins Cameras in Cambridge. Here's how I got on.

I headed to the Campkins store along with a few other bloggers from the #CambMeetUp Facebook group. They're ladies I've gotten to know at events over the last year or so and a really lovely bunch! A special shout out is in order for the lovely Alice who organised the event. After a couple of minutes spent setting up the cameras with our memory cards and connecting them to the Olympus sharing app, we set out on a photo walk around the city.

It was a beautiful Spring day and despite stopping every hundred metres or so to take a snap, we covered a lot of ground around some of Cambridge's prettiest streets. David, an Olympus specialist, lead the walk and was on hand with his reflector and insider know-how to help us get the most out of the E-PL8. He gave me a tip on how to get the gorgeous starburst effect below in the afternoon light.

In terms of the user interface and software features, there's virtually no difference in capability between the E-PL7 and E-PL8. What I love the most about the Pen series of cameras is that there are functions for all abilities, styles and interests. If you don't know how to go fully manual or you're finding it tricky to get a particular effect, the auto mode has an extensive menu of sliders that allows you to tinker with things like exposure, warmth and background blur to get professional looking images.

The other thing that impresses me so much about these cameras is the clarity. I moved to the E-PL7 from an outdated Fujifilm bridge camera that struggled to focus and ran on 4x AA batteries, and the results are just dreamy. On this particular day we just used the kit lens, but I also own a zoom lens that produces amazing results.

My favourite feature of the Pen range is the Wi-Fi sharing. The app creates its own connection, so you can be in the middle of nowhere with no signal and still be able to quickly import photos from your camera to your phone. You can also use your phone as a remote, with an in-app viewfinder. It's helped me take a few outfit photos in the past when no one's been around to take them!

The E-PL8 hardware is very similar in design to the E-PL7, just slightly sleeker in terms of the hand grip being less bulky. It's such a pretty piece of kit that I strategically and quite deliberately place mine on the bookcase to look at in-between shoots.

There are a couple of possible negatives to consider if you're thinking about investing in either of the Pen cameras. Firstly the weight - being a compact D-SLR the Olympus Pen is much lighter than your usual large Canon or Nikon camera and is perfectly portable in a small handbag. However, don't expect to be vlogging on it for more than a few minutes before your arm goes dead. Luckily, YouTube isn't my bag so that's not an issue for me.

Again, if YouTube and selfies are your bag, you might get a little frustrated with the flip out screen, as on both models the primary direction of the screen flip is down, not out to the side. This has never bothered me and you can also pull the screen up and out so you can get some weird flatlay angles without having to contort your body to see the screen.

And finally, there's the price. I was lucky enough at the time I purchased my E-PL7 to find a 25% discount code online, but these are few and far between. Olympus Pen cameras are gorgeous, good quality and well worth  the investment in my opinion, but be prepared to part with several hundred pounds for the standard kit and an extra lens.

All in all, although the Olympus Pen E-PL8 performed fantastically, it isn't quite different enough from its predecessor for me to make the upgrade just yet. I'd highly recommend getting your hands on either if you're after a camera that's easy to use but allows you to learn more and use high-tech features as you go. As for me...I'll be waiting to see what the E-PL9 has in store!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

How to launch a career in marketing when you don't have a marketing degree

Since entering the blogging world I've noticed that some of us have something in common - an awful lot of bloggers I follow are working in or hoping to work in marketing. I only settled on marketing as my chosen field during my final year of university, and have managed to carve out a career for myself armed with an English Literature degree and buckets of enthusiasm. But when so many employers are on the hunt for candidates with pure marketing degrees and absurdly expensive certifications (I'm looking at you Certified Institute of Marketing), how can you make yourself stand out?

Know what you don't know

The hardest thing to do is sell yourself - I can confidently produce marketing material for just about anything, but when it comes to talking all things 'me' it gets difficult. That's why it's important to find the gaps and weaknesses in your CV before somebody else does and invest some time in filling those holes, adding as much value as you can to your experience and qualifications so far. Whatever you do, don't claim you have extensive knowledge of something if you don't. Marketing is a very broad field and most interviewers will expect you to have specialisms and areas you may not have as much experience of.

Apply your skills

Some of the qualifications best suited to marketing aren't even taught in the business faculty. My degree in English Lit gave me heaps of transferable skills, from the obvious ones like a high standard of written communication and the ability to hit multiple deadlines, to less obvious ones like working in groups and conducting in-depth research. I've met marketers with communications degrees, multimedia degrees, graphic design qualifications, and no higher education at all - the point is they've all learned a range of skills that fit into marketing really well, and are able to make those connections.

Use free resources to learn more

There are organisations out there that will charge you thousands for an additional marketing qualification, but with the internet now a huge 'how to' resource they're actually becoming less common. There are a large number of free courses and articles out there that you can use to help educate yourself further on different aspects of marketing, from social media to SEO, Google Analytics and more. I've completed a few of them myself over the years, and some are more widely known and highly regarded than others. A good set of short online courses to start with could include:

Get a related hobby

If you've got yourself a blog or are always on your own social media accounts, then you've already got some real-life experience of some aspects of marketing. Growing a blog takes a lot of work and its success ultimately relies on how you market it, so treat it like you would a business and you're bound to have learned more than you think. 

You can also volunteer yourself as a marketer for community events, for example I had my first experience of creating and executing a marketing strategy for a charity day at my university, and also got the chance to help market a Winter Fair in my city. Employers are generally quite impressed if you're enthusiastic enough about the field to do something similar in your own free time - your passion will shine through. Just don't be surprised if after you mention it they go and have a little snoop!

So there you have it - you're ready to take your first steps into the world of marketing, hopefully feeling super prepared and raring to go!

This post is something a little different to my normal subject matter, but I'm working hard to make this space both more personal and above all useful to you lovely readers! If you've found my story and suggestions helpful, or have some other tips you'd like to give, please let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

4 reasons to embrace the digital detox

If you're anything like me, when you're finally conscious enough to to turn off the snooze on your morning alarm, you'll spy a little red notification symbol on one of your apps and fall down a social media black hole. You scroll through reams of tweets and Instagram photos, and before you know it it's twenty minutes later and you're gonna be late for work. It's a struggle not to check the likes and on your latest posts as you go about your day, and come evening you fall into a comatose state on the sofa watching cat videos and makeup tutorials on YouTube. If this is the story for you most days, it might be time for a digital detox.

The term itself sounds a bit faddy, and it's a trend that seems to have been created by the very influencers who depend on our technology addiction to make a living, so I have to admit I was a sceptic at first. But I've been paying more and more attention to just how much time I spend consuming digital media, and it's worrying. I've tried to keep count of how many times I check my phone throughout the day and I can't. I have to put my phone and iPad in another room or zip them away in my handbag in order to resist the compulsion to use them. And that just doesn't seem healthy.

So for me, a digital detox is all about breaking these habits and curbing my phone/social media addiction. The anxiety I feel after a day of not checking on the Snapchat stories of those I follow closely just seems wrong. Like many, I use my devices as a form of escapism. Tired? Have a scroll. Bored? Watch a video. Stressed? Read a Buzzfeed article or two. It helps me avoid dealing with the day-to-day crap I'd rather not deal with, but it sucks the life out of me too.

The more I use social media the more addicted I become, but it also makes me jealous of others, negative about my own life not living up to the glamour of others, and sucks up a hell of a lot of my time. That's why I'm ready to embrace the digital detox. The idea is pretty much what it says on the tin. You switch of your notifications (or just turn your devices off altogether), abandon your emails and take a set period of time away from all the online crap in your life.

It's pretty sad that so many of us feel the need to do this, but I'm all for a bit of a change in the digital department having grown a bit too attached to my tech over the last couple of years. How many of us have found it hard to put our phones away for a family meal or seen people walking into things because they can't put their phones down?

Here's why I think the digital detox is a great concept.

You can be alone with your thoughts

Quiet time is good for us, yet we've grown so uncomfortable with it! When my brain isn't being bombarded with white noise and pinging sounds, I can actually get an accurate gauge of what's going on inside my head and be in the moment a little bit more.

You can read actual paper

Given that I've got a literature degree you'd think I'd always have my nose in a book, but since graduating my reading material is more 140 characters than 50 chapters. It's a huge shame that so many of us are in this habit, so if I'm taking time away from electronic screens I'll definitely be indulging in a spot of reading, whether it's with a new book or an actual magazine *gasps*. It's better for your sleep too!

Less time scrolling, more time doing

It goes without saying that if you added up the time you spend each day on your phone over the course of a year the result would be shocking, but think of all the things you can do instead! You could read, learn a crafty skill like calligraphy or jewellery making, play board games with family or head to the pub with friends. And you'll probably enjoy the experience a whole lot more if you're fully present rather than thinking about checking Facebook.

Focus on real interactions

That leads nicely on to my final point. I can't tell you the amount of times I've been in a social situation and suddenly realised absolutely everyone is on their phones. Wouldn't it have been cheaper to just sit at home doing this? What was the point in spending time together? I also regularly get told off for scrolling by the boyfriend when I'm supposed to be watching a film or chilling out with him. If we all made more of an effort to put our devices away we'd remember that real human interaction is far better than commenting on someones Instagram or posting a Snap.

Have you thought about doing a digital detox? Do you think they're necessary?

© kelly anne rist

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