Sunday, 19 March 2017

A Beauty Haul

Back in the good ol' days of blogging, Superdrug/Boots beauty hauls were a regular occurrence around here, and quite often they were some of my most popular posts. I don't actually shop in Superdrug or Boots all that often anymore, so when I do it's quite the "event". So, when I placed a (big for me) Superdrug order a little while ago, I thought I'd share my spoils with you guys!

COLAB Dry Shampoo in ParadiseI picked this up after seeing it on a fair few bloggers' Instagram Stories, and because I was in the market for a new dry shampoo. I'm trying to cut down on washing my hair so much in a bid to make it grow (so far it's not really working, but I'll persevere) and this dry shampoo is honestly so good. I've only used it a few times so far but it smells amaze, works so well at disguising any grease and has blimmin' flamingos on the can. What more could you need?!

Maybelline The Eraser Eye Concealer - Again, another product I was drawn into after seeing several uh-mazing beauty YouTubers using it, I had hoped this concealer would transform my under-eye area and leave it looking bright with no dark circles. Alas, I've only tried it once so far but it didn't do a lot for me - I found it quite greasy which only ended up highlighting my under-eye circles further. I'll keep trying with it though as it looks amazing in all the tutorials I've seen.

Schwarzkopf Got2b Volumizing Powder - I'm obsessed with Toni and Guy's volumising powder, but it's quite difficult to get hold of and not the cheapest, so I saw this was on offer and thought I'd give it a whirl. I've used it a fair few times since it came and honestly? I'm really disappointed. Whereas Toni and Guy's version gives me instant, noticeable results, this doesn't really do anything other than leaving my feeling sticky. Not cool.

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Creme de Nude - I bought this as I've been looking for something to use as a base for my eye shadow when I'm doing going out makeup. I'd originally set my sights on the MAC Paint Pots but I'd seen that Maybelline's matte Color Tattoos were a pretty good dupe, and for the difference in price I felt it was silly not to give this a whirl first. I shall report back once I've tried it!

Batiste Dry Shampoo in Rose Gold and Sweetie - Although I already bought some dry shampoo, I couldn't resist adding a couple of Batiste's newer additions to my basket. Batiste has always been my go-to dry shampoo brand so I knew if I didn't get on with COLAB's offering, I'd have this as back up. The Sweetie scent is definitely my favourite - it smells divine.

Eylure Enchanted After Dark Lashes in The Raven - I'm a bit obsessed with buying lashes at the moment, particularly really big and bold ones. I'd not come across the 'Enchanted' range before but as soon as I saw it I knew I had to try it. These lashes look really long, voluminous yet fluttery, and I'm really excited to see what they look like on.

Nivea Men Sensitive Post-Shave Balm - No, my boyfriend's shopping didn't accidentally work its way into this post... this is actually for me! I know bloggers and YouTubers have been using this for a while now in place of a primer, and whilst I'm a tad late to the party I'm so glad I've given this a go. I usually use Benefit's Porefessional as a primer, but it's over £20 a pop so not exactly budget friendly. This, however, is under a fiver and I think it does a really good job. It leaves my skin feeling matte and soft, and whilst the smell is a big manly, I kind of like it!

L'Oreal Hair Expertise Pure Colour Shampoo and Conditioner - Finally, my hair has been in a right old state of late, so I knew it was probably time to up my shampoo and conditioner game and find something that's a bit kinder on my hair. My sister recommended the L'Oreal Hair Expertise range, particularly the version for dry, coloured hair, as she'd been using it and seen real results. It doesn't contain sulphates so is much gentler on the hair, and I'm hoping it will work wonders for my stressed-out barnet!

What have you been beauty haulin' recently? Let me know!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

8 Ways to Feel More Energetic

Having a lot of energy is something I've always struggled with. I am not a morning person by any means - sadly I've always lacked that 'get up and go' that some people seem to naturally have. Bed is my favourite place to be and most days I think I spend 60% of my time yawning. Recently, however, since discovering Neom's Energy Boost range*, I've been taking measures to try and make myself more energetic and awake, and I've found they've really been working. So, I thought I would share some tips for feeling a bit more energetic in the hope it helps any fellow sleepyheads get a bit more get up and go...

1. Create a playlist
If there's one thing that's guaranteed to wake me up, it's a music playlist full of energy-boosting songs. Spotify has some brilliant playlists to choose from (the cheesy tunes playlist is a particular favourite of mine) or you could put together your own list of dancey, upbeat hits to make you feel energised. At the minute I'm loving the faster tracks on Little Mix and Lady Gaga's latest albums to give me an energy boost.

2. Drink more water 
Being dehydrated = being tired. I'm definitely guilty of not drinking enough water, and I really notice the difference when I do manage to get my eight glasses a day. If you're feeling run-down and tired, I'd recommend upping your water intake - hey, it's an excuse to buy a cute new water bottle, right?!

3. Take a shower
I mean, I'd hope you'd do this every day anyway, but whereas I'm usually an evening shower kinda gal, I do find having a shower first thing in the morning as soon as I get out of bed does wonders for waking me up, making me feel more energetic and motivated. Add some energising shower gel into the mix and you're golden.

4. Get outside
Once showered, a brisk walk out in the fresh country air with my dog Rory in tow never fails to blow the cobwebs away and leaves me feeling awakened and refreshed. I usually like to have my energising playlist bellowing in my ears too for the ultimate energetic start to the day.

5. Have a beauty boost
The whole inspiration for this post, I'm currently obsessed with Neom's Energy Boost range. I have the candle, perfume and hand balm, all of which smell incredible and really do work to awaken the senses and give me the energy boost I need. I love spritzing the perfume on first-thing (it's 100% natural and comes in a seriously stunning copper-lidded bottle) and then use the hand cream throughout the day. If I feel I need a big energy boost (this usually happens around 3pm most days) I'll give the candle a light and it always does the trick at waking me up and giving me the motivation I need.

6. Take some vitamins
For the past few weeks I've been taking vitamin B tablets on a daily basis. B vitamins help the body release energy from food, and often people suffer from vitamin B deficiency. I've definitely noticed a difference since taking them and would recommend giving them a go if you're feeling in need of an energy boost.

7. Exercise
As tiring as the thought of a big workout in the gym might be, I never come away from a workout feeling tired - my body might be, but I always feel full of energy and I'm generally bouncing off the walls after a good gym session. I can't recommend exercise enough for waking you up and just for mental well-being in general - as hard as it might be to get the motivation to start, once it's over you'll feel so much better for it.

8. Get an early night
Whilst it might seem glaringly obvious, in this age we're living in of smartphones, social media and Netflix, getting an early night isn't always quite so easy. Even when I say I'm going to go to bed early, it's inevitable that I'll sit scrolling on my phone for a good hour or so before I actually decide to sleep, or it'll be a case of 'just one more episode' when there's a Netflix show I'm particularly interested in. I think we definitely need to take time away from our phones and TVs and ensure we invest in some self-care and an actual early night, sans smartphones, more often than not. I know for me it makes a huge difference if I go to bed earlier, and so I've been making more of a conscious effort to have more of a bedtime "routine" lately that involves going to sleep before 10.30pm, if I can. It honestly makes me feel so much better the next day.

Do you have any tips for feeling energised? Let me know!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

My Eating Disorder Story

Okay, so I've been sitting here with a blank screen for a good 10 minutes, completely bewildered as to how to start this blog post. When it comes to eating disorders, I have SO much to say that I really don't know where to begin. This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week though, and so I felt like it was the perfect time to open up and help raise awareness about the disorders which can take over, and in some heartbreaking instances, claim, peoples' lives.

I've opened up about my issues with food before on here in my post 'Me and Food' (I can't believe this was almost two years ago now), but I've never really gone in depth to tell you my story. I honestly think I could write an entire memoir on my struggles with eating disorders, and whilst I'm going to try not to do that today, I do want to let you know more about my experience, in the hope it helps even one person suffering.

Growing up I felt like I had a pretty decent relationship with food. I was a healthy-looking kid, full of energy and constantly happy, and never one to turn down a slice of cake (or two). I loved food, that was true, but I didn't feel like it consumed my life. When I got older, around the age of 10 or 11, the weight started to pile on. I went from being the pretty little healthy-looking girl to a 10 year old wearing women's size 16 clothes. I don't think I gorged on chocolate or anything to get that way, but growing up knowing I should never leave food on my plate and having a fondness for helping myself to more than a single serving probably didn't help.

At secondary school, as you can probably imagine, my weight became a talking point and I was bullied for being fat. It was weird - I'd never really been "aware" of my weight until that point - diets and calories weren't vocabulary that had ever entered my repertoire before. Then, suddenly, I was being picked on for being bigger than everyone else, and it felt... weird. It threw me completely. I didn't decide to start dieting then, because that would almost be like letting them win. Instead, my big sister had started to diet and with that, I kind of unknowingly fell into the diet too. Me and my sister were pretty much joint at the hip growing up and so when one person did one thing, the other followed suit. Suddenly my packed lunches were no longer filled with ready salted Walkers crisps and Cadbury chocolate cake bars - instead out came the Go Ahead cereal bars and snacks. I started walking a lot more, too - instead of staying at school and enduring the endless taunts from bullies at lunch time, I'd walk the 15 minutes home and have dinner with my parents.

It didn't take long until people started to notice - I was losing weight. I don't know how long a period of time it happened over - I think by the age of 12 I was starting to lose some, and when 13 came along I was unrecognisable. People complimented me left right and centre - and it was such a bizarre feeling, to have someone tell you you looked good for having lost weight, something so ridiculously unfamiliar to me.

The funny thing was, I thought I'd done it without really trying. I actually went to the doctor with my mum about it, as we were confused as to why I was losing weight so quickly - was it something medical? As a test, to see if something sinister was going on, I was told by the doctor to eat as much as I liked, over the normal calorie allowance, for two weeks, to see if it made a difference. If I still lost weight, they would know something was wrong. Boy did I rise to the challenge. Chocolate bars galore, eating full packs of cakes - I did it all. Then came the day I stepped back on the scales and I was horrified with the results. I'd put on A LOT of weight in that time, and whilst it meant there was nothing physically wrong with me, it terrified me to my very core just how easy it was to gain weight. That was it - something inside my brain clicked and I think it might have been the turning point to the deadly downward spiral I was heading on.

Over the next few months, what had started out as a harmless diet turned into a full-blown obsession. I learnt about calories, and started counting them religiously. I did crunches in my bedroom, and I walked everywhere. The weight fell off me. Soon I started to hide food, to actually dread meal times - something I had always looked forward to. While all this was going on, my OCD was taking a battering. Yes - before my eating disorder, a long time before, I had OCD. While I was starving myself, my OCD was getting much worse, to the point that my parents forced me to go to the GP to get it under control. I was referred to CAMHS, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, but they took one look at me and all notions of trying to get the OCD under control went out of the window. They diagnosed me with Anorexia Nervosa then and there.

Over the next few months my anorexia continued to get worse. Whilst I was banned from doing any physical activity (P.E. and walking to and from school were out of the question) that didn't stop me and my weight got dangerously low. I had stopped having periods, a downy hair had begun to grow all over my body and I was constantly freezing cold. The girls who had previously picked on me for being fat now took pleasure in saying loudly 'God she's SO thin, she looks disgusting. GO EAT A BURGER!' instead. It was like I couldn't win.

I had to be weighed weekly, as well as having weekly sessions with CAMHS. I'd moved into a different friendship group at school, and even had a boyfriend. Despite all this, I was still dangerously ill, and it got so bad that I was threatened with being sent away to a mental health inpatient unit. Even though I was showed round the unit, I didn't believe I'd ever end up there. In my eyes, I wasn't ill enough for that. Then when my sister showed me the bag my mum had packed me, full of stuff to take there, it hit me - this was actually happening. If I didn't sort myself out, that's where I'd end up. Later on I found out that if it hadn't been for my dad giving me one final chance, I'd have had to have gone there.

I improved a little bit from there, mainly because I didn't want to be away from my boyfriend at the time, but things still weren't great. Then said boyfriend broke up with me and boom - something else clicked in my brain. I remember walking home from school, completely distraught, and going into every food shop I could find. I bought chocolate bars, custard creams, basically everything I could get my hands on, and ate it all. Obviously my body couldn't cope with it and I woke up in the middle of the night to throw up violently all over my bed (not deliberately, my tiny stomach literally couldn't cope with all the food) - but that was the start of yet another eating disorder. I walked straight out of Anorexia Nervosa and right into Binge Eating Disorder.

My weight ballooned over the next few months. I took regular trips to the shops to stock up on chocolate, only to have gorged on it before I'd even got home. I didn't throw it up - only on very few occasions - and I think everyone around me was both horrified by how quickly I'd gained weight (honestly - I was unrecognisable), but also incredibly relieved that I was no longer at death's door starving myself. It was a catch 22 situation. The comments started again - I remember one particularly nasty bully, who had previously shouted 'ANOREXIC!' at me saying: 'I thought you were supposed to be anorexic' when he saw me one day. I was a mess - I've always been a person of extremes - very much all or nothing, and so my only way out of anorexia was to go the in the opposite direction. I swapped one eating disorder for another.

Thankfully, despite how unhealthy it was to go from starving to gorging, my weight balanced out, and over time the disrupted eating stopped. I began to feel like a "normal" person again. I was a healthy weight, and for the most part, ate a healthy, balanced diet. At times of stress or upset, I'd still resort to food for comfort, but it was never anything major and generally, these times were few and far between. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that binge eating began to take hold again, and whilst it's never been as bad as it was all those years ago, it's still a big part of my life.

Whilst suffering with anorexia took away my periods, left me at risk of osteoporosis, infertility and, ultimately, death, suffering with binge eating disorder means I'm at risk of obesity, heart problems and diabetes, as well the fact both disorders completely mess up your metabolism. My anorexia hasn't fully left me, either - since suffering with it I am completely unaware of how I look - anorexia warps how you see yourself (you'll look in the mirror and see a fat person staring back at you, when actually you're emaciated) and I still feel like I'm never 100% sure about how my body looks. Ever since becoming anorexic, I've been obsessed with my size, and whilst I hope there will come a day when I don't obsess over my weight or over food in general, I don't think it will ever come. Sadly, once you set foot into the world of eating disorders, those thoughts never really leave you.

My hope is that one day I can go back to at least feeling normal again when it comes to food. My relationship with food will probably always be turbulent, particularly at times of stress or upset, but I want to be able to control it more, instead of letting it control me.

Eating disorders are horrible, torturous diseases that consume peoples' lives. They aren't fads or quick-fix weight loss diets, they're illnesses that require time and treatment - and often never really mean a full recovery. I've seen first-hand the effects eating disorders can have - and the consequences. One of my closest friends fought anorexia for over a decade, but in the end the disease took her life. It breaks my heart every day knowing that I survived yet I couldn't save her.

If you suspect someone you know has an eating disorder, make sure you reach out to them and encourage them to get help. The best resource for getting your head around the complicated world of eating disorders has got to be Beat's website - Beat is the UK's eating disorder charity, who this week are raising awareness of eating disorders. You can head on over and donate to the charity here, and find out more about Eating Disorder Awareness Week here.

Apologies for how long this post was - well done for getting to the end if you did!

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Entering the World of Eye Creams

Eye creams, eye creams, eye creams... they are something I've always had in my skincare drawer, mainly through beauty blogging, but not actually something I've ever made an effort to regularly use. As I've always suffered with really bad acne, wrinkles and crow's feet have never really been that high on my list of priorities.

However, since turning 26 (OMG) I realise that it's probably about time I started thinking about anti-ageing in general, and particularly the delicate eye area. So, with that in mind, I rifled through my skincare drawer and pulled out a few to test.

First up, the Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Eye Gel*. Specifically targeting the first signs of ageing (therefore ideal for us twenty-somethings just venturing into the world of anti-ageing), it contains Ceramides to help fight wrinkles. It also helps to brighten the skin, reducing the appearance of dark circles and puffiness, and soaks into the skin well, drying quickly. It's quite pricey at £35 for just 15ml but it is a lovely product and I've definitely noticed a difference since using.

Next up - the Vichy Idealia Yeux Eyes*. One of my favourites of the bunch, this little beauty is perfect for fighting wrinkles whilst also awakening tired eyes. What's great about Vichy's offering is that it actually helps to illuminate the eye area with little glowy particles - making it ideal (pardon the pun!) if you're opting for minimal makeup but still want to look awake. It definitely makes a big difference to dark circles and isn't a bad price either, at £23.

Moving on to one of my fave skincare brands at the moment - Nip + Fab. I reviewed their Glycolic Fix range agggges ago and that still remains one of my most popular posts, so I had to include the Nip + Fab Bee Sting Fix Eye* in this round-up. As I love the brand, I did have high hopes for this product, and whilst I did see some improvement, it perhaps wasn't in the realms as the previous two products I've mentioned. It definitely helped to hydrate and nourish my eye area, and I did notice a very slight improvement in puffiness, but I'd probably choose the previous creams over it. I think it has been repackaged and now comes in a teensy 10ml tube which is also a big shame - but it is the cheapest of the bunch at £15.

Finally, I couldn't resist popping Benefit's It's Potent! Eye Cream in here, if for nothing else than the awesome packaging. I remember Benefit coming out with a skincare range years back and being so excited by it - mainly because of how adorable the packaging is (like everything Benefit brings out) if I'm honest, but I wanted to include it in this round-up as it's one of the first eye creams I ever tried. It smells insanely fresh, with cooling cucumber, and it does cool and soothe the eye area, but other than that I wasn't blown away. It is quite thick and definitely helps to moisturise and hydrate, but like the Nip + Fab product, there aren't huge results when it comes to getting rid of dark circles/helping against ageing. Not great when it's one of the more costly products, at £25.50.

Overall I'm a big fan of the first two eye creams, but the last two - not so much. I definitely think it proves that spending a bit more money on your skincare is worth it - as long as you opt for products with the right ingredients, as opposed to those that just look good (naming no names... *cough* Benefit *cough*). What is your favourite eye cream? Let me know!
All images and content © Hannah Vickers for Away with the Fairies 2010- unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved.