| Current Lifestyle Favourites |

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You all know by now that talking about all things beauty related is my favourite pastime but I do like to change it up as much as I can, you know  with variety being the spice of life & all that. What better way to bring a little change to Beauty & The Blouse than to let you delve into my current lifestyle favourites. That way you can see exactly what I’m watching, reading & getting up to outside of the blogging world, so without further ado, let’s get started:  

Peaky Blinders: I am so happy that I’ve finally watched this series (well, seasons 1-3 because 4 isn’t on Netflix yet.) A few months ago I had made my other half watch the first episode, but at the time he just complained about how it was ‘yet another gangster series’ – What can I say, I like them (and to be fair to him we had watched a lot of them last year!) But fast forward several months I sneakily put it on again & got him hooked enough so that we could keep watching & it was SO good! In a nutshell, it’s set in Birmingham in the early 1900s & is the story of a family of criminals who run the city & is set around their attempt to take down everyone who tries to get in their way. The acting in this series is unbelievable & although violent at times, the story line is great too. I imagine that a lot of my readers have already or are already watching this series, but if you haven’t add it to your list – it’s a good one!

The Night Of: So I just binge watched this 8 episode series over the course of last week and holy heck is it great! After hearing that it had won an Emmy Award & after reading the description, I knew I would enjoy The Night Of  because any series about murder & I’m sold (as psychopathic as that sounds!) It’s the story of a college guy who meets a girl, they go back to her house & long story short, she ends up dead but you have no idea how it happened & he is charged with murder but denies guilt. Sound like a hell of a story line? It is! I was completely hooked & I’m so disappointed that it’s finished. Seriously, give it a watch. It’s an unbelievably great series that will leave you hooked & dying (excuse the pun) to know what happened.

Old school R&B music: The past few weeks have been so crazy for me & I’ve had an absolute ton of work to get through. I love being busy so I don’t mind having a big to-do list but sometimes you need a little bit of motivation to get you through the mountain. Music is usually the best way to keep me motivated & I really enjoy listening to music while I power through my work. However, my iPod needed a serious update as I’ve been listening to the same music for far too long, so I took to YouTube & rediscovered all of the old R&B music I used to listen to back in the early 2000’s. You can find one of the playlists I’ve been listening to here. I’ve been that chick dancing at her laptop for the past week & boy, it makes working so much easier. Click the link, put your headphones in & go back in time – you’re going to love these tunes!

Eating well & training hard: Back when I wrote my goals for the month of January I had mentioned that I wanted to stick to my training & healthy eating plan. I’m still continuing with this & I’ve been eating well as well as training a lot in the gym & I’m loving it. I feel so much better and I’m starting to see the changes in my body which is making me even more motivated. My stomach is more muscular & doesn’t get bloated & I’m starting to see more shape in my arms & shoulders which I never had before. I said that I would get into my best shape in 2018 & I’m loving doing it (which is surprising from a girl who always loved junk food!)

Movie dates: My boyfriend & I have been going to the movies a lot recently & it has been so wonderful. We’re both big movie lovers so it is such a pleasure getting to spend quality time together on cinema dates. In South Africa they even have a Pizza Hut inside some cinemas so you order your pizza before your movie starts & they bring your pizza to you while you watch the movie. You can imagine how much I’ve been loving eating a big ol’ pepperoni pizza while watching a blockbuster movie. Delightful!

The Book Thief: I’m such a lover of curling up on the sofa with a cup of tea & a great book & just getting lost in the words. But I’ve got to be honest, I’ve been so busy recently that I really haven’t had the time to read much this year. Certainly not as much as I would have liked to at least! So with this in mind, I’ve been trying to make a much more conscious effort to read when I can. Even if it’s just half an hour here & there. I’m currently reading a great book called The Book Thief & while I’m not even a third of the way through this book yet, I already know that it’s going to be a great one. It’s written from the perspective of Death during World War ll & is the story of an albeit naive, young girl who has been sent to live with a German family where she begins to learn what it’s really like to live in Germany under Hitler’s rule. Well, that’s what has happened in the third of the book that I have read. It’s such an unusual read that is really well written & if a book can educate me at the same time, its always going to be a pleasure to read.

What are your current lifestyle favourites? 

 

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| January Empties & Mini Reviews|

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The longest month of the year has finally ended & I can hear the sighs of relief. Holy heck January sucks when it comes to finances! With this new month comes a new empties post but it’s only a little one this time as I seem to take forever to use up products.

Here is my itty bitty selection of products that I finished up in January & what I thought of them:

Dexe Lip Balm in Pineapple
This was a completely random purchase from me but it turned out to be a great one. I love the EOS lip balms but they are so freaking expensive here in South Africa so there was no way I was repurchasing another one. But much to my delight, while on my way to the checkout at Dis-chem, I spotted these lip balms because their packaging is so like that of the EOS lip balms. The difference? These are R14.95 – that’s less than £1 compared to the R200ish for an EOS lip balm! What I love about the Dexe lip balm is that it’s entirely made of natural ingredients in the form of different oils & you know me, I love as much natural as I can get. The pineapple scent of this is delightful & it’s so moisturising on the lips while giving them a pretty sheen. I’ve already purchased another scent in this range & I’m totally converted.

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Extreme Pads
Saying farewell to this product means saying farewell to the last of my Nip + Fab stash from back home. I bought these pads after getting hooked on the Glycolic Fix Daily Cleansing pads when I lived in the UK but to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t blown away by these. At £15 they aren’t the cheapest for only 30 pads & with the more concentrated blend of glycolic acid, I expected more results. I liked to use them as a chemical exfoliation & I did feel that something was working when I used them (in the form of a light sting) & my skin did feel nice afterwards, but I just didn’t see a difference in my skin the next morning. I haven’t given up on glycolic acid yet because it’s benefits are raved about but I just wouldn’t repurchase these as I didn’t see enough of a difference. The hunt continues!

Supersalve Cell Care Oil
Supersalve was a brand that I had never heard of until I wandered into a random little health store & wallah! there it was. Turns out that they have a whole range of products which you can find here. This product is packed full of natural ingredients including avocado oil, calendula oil, lavender oil, grapeseed oil & tea tree oil & claims to do many wonderful things for your skin including:

  • Alleviate dryness, itching & flaking
  • Repair sun-damaged skin
  • Reduce age spots
  • Rejuvenate & regenerate cells
  • Soften & moisturise
  • Reduce stretch marks

That’s a list of pretty damn impressive things if I do say! I orginally bought this little bottle of goodness when I was going through my natural oil skincare phase but as it turns out, my face doesn’t like oils so I had to find another use for it. Turns out it’s a great body oil to lather yourself in at night – my skin felt so moisturised & it completely got rid of my dry, itchy skin. I can’t vouch for it’s age spot & stretch mark reducing properties but I did enjoy using this product. It also smells divine – you know that natural, essential oils smell? Yeah, just like that! Would I repurchase this product? Probably not, because it’s not easy to get your hands on but I would recommend it.

African Extracts Rooibos Pore-Clearing Face Scrub
Being a dry skin girl it is so important that I give my face a good exfoliation about twice a week to get rid of all the dull, dead cells that can turn into a flaky, ugly mess if I’m not careful. When it comes to face scrubs I can be quite fussy. I want them to be really gritty but with natural grit. By that I mean that I refuse to buy any scrub that contains little plastic beads as they go down the drain & kill marine life & I’m not about that life. If you want more information on this you can find it here. This African Extracts scrub doesn’t contain any cruel plastic beads and instead has that gritty, sugary texture which is why it made it into my bathroom cupboard & has been well loved since. I love that this scrub contains vitamin B3 & salicylic acid, is paraben free & is cruelty free & it left my skin feeling so soft & clean. I would absolutely recommend this scrub as it’s great for getting rid of dead skin at the very affordable price of R64.99!

 

| What I’ve learned from living in a developing country |

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So for those of you who may not know I’m originally from Northern Ireland but I moved to South Africa in 2016. It has never been my plan to settle here permanently but I really do love this country & I’ve learnt so much since moving here. 

If you’ve never been to South Africa then please add it to your bucket list of holiday destinations because it is a truly beautiful country with amazing people, delicious food, gorgeous scenery, a rich culture & there’s a hell of a lot to do here. Sadly however, South Africa is still classed as a developing country. While there are so many opportunities to be successful here & it really is an amazing place for business, there is still a high unemployment rate (26.6% of South Africans are unemployed compared to the 4.2% in the U.K) and there is a lot of poverty (30.4 million South Africans currently live in poverty). 

Having been born & raised in a 1st world country I’ve had to learn a lot very quickly since moving to a developing country & this has led to this blog post. I want to talk about the things I’ve learnt since moving here because it might make people who’ve only ever lived in 1st world countries think. This can be a touchy subject for some & I just want to throw a disclaimer out there that I write this blog post with no intention to offend or upset anyone. I am very grateful to come from a 1st world country & I am also very grateful for the opportunity I have been given to live in a developing country. 

Here is what I’ve learned since moving here:

We are so lucky to have our benefit system
As I mentioned South Africa is rife with poverty. 1 in 2 people here live below the poverty line. That poverty line is only R441 per person per month. Do you know how much that equates to in pounds? £26.42 per month! That’s only 88p per day! Can you imagine trying to pay for everything you need with so little?! It breaks my heart that so many people can’t afford what they need. In this country if you’re unemployed for any reason there is no help for you. You’ve got to find your way yourself. Now I know that there are many problems with our benefit system & there are many reasons why it frustrates those of us from the UK, but the long & short of it is that we are so lucky to have it because when we need it most, when there’s no income coming in – it’s there for us.

The NHS is a gift that shouldn’t be taken for granted
A lot of people have a lot of negative things to say about the NHS but unless you’ve lived in another country where they don’t have it, it’s difficult to see why it’s amazing. Here my partner & I pay an absolute fortune a month (about £240) in medical aid (medical insurance) which covers us if we ever need emergency hospital treatment. A lot of the time this only covers some of your medical costs & doesn’t include things like prescriptions, gp visits, dentist appointments, opticians – nothing outside of hospital care. Sometimes medical aid won’t even cover you if you get cancer! It’s insane! Do you know how difficult it is to pay that much money as a ‘just in case something happens to me’?! The NHS is a godsend & in my opinion is one of the best things about the UK. Everyone, including those who live in poverty, will always been seen by a doctor, will always be given emergency medical care & will always get their prescriptions because they’re free. In a developing country many don’t have that luxury.

We are born into a country of wealth & opportunity
Here’s a little story for you to explain what I mean by this: it’s common in South Africa to have a helper, or a cleaner as we’d call them in the UK, who cleans your house for you. We have a helper called Teresa who works for us 4 days a week & she’s a lovely woman who is originally from Malawi in South East Africa. She moved from Malawi to South Africa which meant leaving her daughter behind (she lives with her grandmother) because they had no money in Malawi & she wants to save enough money to take care of her family. She has worked for us for almost a year & during this time she hasn’t been able to see her daughter. Helen was born into a very poor country with little opportunity so she had to leave those she loved the most in order to take care of them. In the UK we are born into a country that can offer us so much & we really take that for granted.

There is so much more that I could say on this but these were the biggest points that I wanted to share. My advice is to travel the world as much as you can, especially if you can’t or don’t want to live in another country for a while. Travelling is one of the most enriching experiences & it will truly make you a better person. Those of us from 1st world countries are really so lucky & blessed compared to so much of the world. Don’t take it for granted! 

| 20 Things You Might Not Know About Me |

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I’ve mentioned a bunch of times on my blog that I love to learn about people, their life & their personality. Call it nosiness if you may but I’m incredibly interested in people & what makes each of us different. That is why I have been absolutely loving the ‘5 random facts tag’ that’s been happening on Instagram recently. If you haven’t seen this yet (I’m not sure where you’ve been!?) but it’s essentially where you post 5 random facts that people may not know about you on your Instagram stories & then tag others to do the same. Simple right?

It was this trend that inspired me to continue this trend & to give you a more in-depth look into what makes me unique by giving you 20 random facts about me that you may not know!

Fact 1
I was born without a thyroid. Crazy right? Thyroids are pretty damn important things & for whatever reason my body decided it wouldn’t make one. It happens to only 1 in every 40,000 babies born in the UK so it makes me pretty unique.

Fact 2
I pride myself on my ability to eat a sh*t tonne of food in one sitting. For someone so slim, I can pack it away.

Fact 3
I’ve been in 2 flipped car crashes. I wasn’t driving when either of these happened but they were pretty hectic. I’ll never forget the sound of the metal crunching & I’ve been such a nervous driver ever since. I like to think I have one heck of a guardian angel watching over me

Fact 4
I am addicted to crisps. I can eat a share bag of crisps in one sitting without any problem at all. I don’t know why they even bother to call them share bags! They are my kryptonite.

Fact 5
I have lived in 3 different countries. I was born in the Northern Ireland then I moved to Scotland at the age of 18 to study. I now currently live in South Africa & have done for a year & a half.

Fact 6
I don’t really like children who aren’t family. (I feel like such a bad person even saying that!) I do want kids of my own someday but I’m just not in any rush to have them because I know how demanding they can be & how much my life will change once I have them.

Fact 7
I have an allergy to face paints. I can’t tell you how much that destroyed me as a kid. (I did still get my face painted now & again but I paid for it in the form of the red, painful skin afterwards)

Fact 8
I am so particular about the way things are organised. My wardrobe is organised by ascending length (e.g. strappy tops followed by short sleeved tops followed by long sleeved tops)

Fact 9
When I was at school I really wanted to go on to study psychology so that I could become a criminal psychologist but my careers teacher talked me out of it. Part of me wishes that reincarnation really does exist so I can follow that career path in my next life. Shame on my old careers teacher for talking young, impressionable people out of their career choice.

Fact 10
I am a feminist. I know that people tend to flinch when they hear that word nowadays because of the negative connotations but I am proud to be a woman & I will continue to do my part to fight the fight for equality.

Fact 11
I am someone of two extremes. I’m so relaxed in my every day life & not much worries me yet I’m such a wimp & I’m scared to do a lot of things. I know how confusing that sounds!

Fact 12
I hate tomatoes yet I love tomato ketchup & pasta dishes with tomato based sauces. To me they taste totally different!

Fact 13
I’m made up of 80% leg. I’m 5 ft 8 & yet I wear a 34″ inside leg jean. My dad is 6 ft tall & wears the same length of jeans as me! It makes jeans/trouser shopping really quite difficult sometimes.

Fact 14
I’m both an introvert & an extrovert. I’m very outgoing & chatty & make friends easily but I also really enjoy time by myself & I feel exhausted if I’m around lots of people for long periods of time. Typical qualities of both personality types.

Fact 15
I am a Harry Potter nerd. I grew up watching it & reading the books & I’m pretty sure I know most of the lines in every movie. I’m dying to go to the Harry Potter Studios in London.

Fact 16
I can’t cook much but I can make a damn good lasagna & I can also bake pretty well. My brownies are what I’m known for.

Fact 17
I grew up with most people thinking I had some form of eating disorder (even though I ate like a tank) & being really nasty towards me because I was always naturally so tiny. I never did have an eating disorder & I never wanted to be so small. It still affects my self-confidence even now but thankfully I’m okay with it most of the time.

Fact 18
I like to think of myself as mildly psychic. When I’m dreaming random scenarios pop up in the middle of my dreams & they come true. It’s not deja vu because I remember them when I’ve woken up & I can remember it happening in my dream when it happens in real life

Fact 19
I love animals so much that I can’t watch animal movies/documentaries because I couldn’t handle seeing an animal left alone or hurt. Animals are such a gift so it breaks my heart seeing them alone or hurt.

Fact 20
I’ve had the same best friend since I was 4. That’s a friendship of 21 years & by today’s standards that longer than most marriages!

I really hope that you all found this post interesting & that it’s helped you to get to know me a little better & also that it didn’t put you to sleep! 

 

 

 

| The Top Tips for Working From Home |

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For those of you who don’t know I’m an entrepreneur & have been for about a year & a half. I don’t talk much about what I do on my blog so I’ll give you a quick, little glimpse into my working life. Essentially I am a brand & marketing consultant which means that I work with small-medium sized companies to help create & build their brand across their website & their social media – I’m the chick behind their marketing strategies & campaigns. I absolutely love what I do & I’m so incredibly passionate about it! 

But being an entrepreneur or working from home isn’t as easy as some may think. You’re one person & you’re in charge of everything! This means that it’s you who has to plan & structure yourself, it’s you who has to set your own goals & it is your responsibility to keep yourself on track & motivated while being a team of people all in one & while doing a million things at once.

With this in mind, I asked over on my Twitter if you beautiful people would like to hear my tips for working at home & 100% of you said yes! So your wish is my command & here is my tips for working from home!

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Tip 1: Buy a diary & plan every single day
This tip is so incredibly important & I just can’t stress it enough. When I started off as an entrepreneur I made the mistake of not using a diary or making lists of what I had to do for the week. Since I’ve stuck to doing this I can’t tell you just how much easier my life has become. I bought a pretty diary (because a gal needs pretty things) & every Sunday I plan for the things that I know I need to do during the week & then every evening I also write down what needs done for the next day. Being able to do this stops you waking up every morning not knowing what to do that day so instead you can enjoy your morning coffee while knowing exactly what you’ll be doing once it’s finished. Also, ticking off your to-do list gives you such a satisfying feeling because you know that you’re being productive & getting things done.

Tip 2: Change up your environment 
Your home is where you eat, sleep, relax & it’s the place where your ‘stuff’ is, so sometimes it can be difficult to get into your rhythm & it’s easy to get distracted by cleaning or playing with your pets or your favourite series on TV. If you’re spending too many days of the week working from home, you can also start going a little stir-crazy & begin to feel uninspired. That’s why it is so important to get out of the house & work somewhere else every now & again, even if it’s just once a week. This can be a coffee shop, a library or a park – it is entirely your choice! I personally love going to coffee shops to work as there are other normally people working or having meetings there so it’s a more motivating environment (and you never know who you’ll bump into that can help to grow you business.) Just get out of the house!

Tip 3: Get dressed 
When you work from home it’s far too easy just to stay in your pyjamas all day but it really helps if you make the effort to get out of them. When you get up, get showered & dressed it makes you feel like you’re getting ready for your work day & can be surprisingly motivating. I normally always put on gym clothes because I go to the gym on most days (and not to mention they’re incredibly comfortable) but you can put on whatever you want. Even sweats! You’ll feel like less of a slob & surprisingly more motivated just by getting out of what you slept in the night before!

Tip 4: Social media is the devil
For most people being on your phone or social media during work hours is a no-no but when you are self-employed you don’t have a big ol’ scary boss looking over your shoulder to tell you off. It’s up to you & you alone to control your time on social media. When you get a Whatsapp message or a notification or you hit a brain-block, it’s very easy to pick up your phone & get absorbed into the world of social media. This wastes time, is counter-productive & quite frankly won’t pay the bills (unless like me you have to spend some time on social media for work.) Limiting your time on social media is so important during work hours so either set up time limits on your internet browser (yes you can do that), block them all together (yes you can do that too) or use good old fashioned willpower. And do not, I repeat, do not download Candy Crush!

Tip 5: Know when to stop
The problem with working from home is that it can be too easy to just keep working & working. We don’t leave the office at 5pm every evening so when you’re absorbed in your work time can pass so easily & before you know it, it’s 9pm & you haven’t moved for 12 hours (perhaps a slight exaggeration, but you get what I mean.) Setting yourself a deadline to get things done is very important & as long as it’s not urgent, it can wait until the next day if it gets too late. Work life balance is incredibly important for your health & well being so working all day & night isn’t going to help matters – it will leave you exhausted, unable to concentrate & can seriously affect the quality of work you produce. Give yourself a lunch break & switch off at a reasonable time to recharge your batteries – your loved ones need some time with you too!

Tip 6: Start your day off well
When you start your day off in a tizzy, stressed or worried it affects the rest of your day & how productive you are. I love to start the day by going to the gym, listening to a motivating podcast or even just having a quiet moment to myself with a cup of coffee. Whatever the best way to start your day is, try to do this as often as you can. It puts you in a good mood for the rest of the day & will make a massive difference to your productivity.

Tip 7: Keep reminding yourself how lucky you are
My last tip is simply this; we are the lucky ones who get to work from home. It can be easy to get bogged down with the list of things you have to do that is as long as your arm. Sometimes you’ll wish that you had a team of people around you even just to talk to. But we need to remember that there are many people out there who would love to have this opportunity but can’t for whatever reason. As entrepreneurs we design our own life – we design our own working patterns & we decide how our day looks from the moment we wake up. Let that empower you & get you pumped because working from home is SUCH a pleasure that we shouldn’t take for granted!

I really hope that these tips helped those of you who, like me, are business owners, entrepreneurs, freelancers or work for a company who allow them to work from home. If you have any other great tips, please feel free to share – after all, sharing is caring!

 

 

 

Review | Celltone Moisturiser & Xtra Hydrating Treatment

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As a dry skin girl I have very high standards when it comes to a moisturiser & I’m not an easy woman to please. When I finished up the last of my moisturiser I fancied trying something new & went on the hunt for a new product I could fall in love with. So while shopping in Dis-chem I came across the brand Celltone.

Being from the UK I’d never heard of this brand before & the reason for that is because they are a South African company who only sell here. Celltone became well known because they use snail gel extract in their products which has been known to soften, smooth & anti-age the skin – all the things I want & need. 

Here’s what I thought of their Daily Moisturiser & Xtra Hydrating Treatment:

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What Celltone claim

‘Celltone Daily Moisturiser contains a medley of oils, Argan, Calendula & Olive. It contains UVA & UVB sunscreen filters. Enriched with Anti-Oxidants and Vitamins A, B3, C & E to soften & moisturise the skin. Snail Extract enriched. Paraben & perfume free.’

What attracted me to this product was the amount of natural oils that are in this moisturiser. I’m a firm believer in using as much of what mother nature gave us as possible so I always love to see products filled with natural products & without parabens. This product also has SPF 15 & protects against both UVA & UVB rays which is so important for keeping our faces fresh & young.
When I first opened the box I was so shocked at how generous Celltone are with the amount of product they give you – there’s a whopping 125ml of product in that bottle! After trying the product I realised why this is the case – it’s a very thin moisturiser & I tend to use a full pump with every application. Which brings me onto my next point, it has a pump! Woohoo! I don’t know what it is about beauty bloggers & pumps but we just love them for how easy they make using a product.
While this moisturiser has a thin consistency it still moisturises my dry skin really well without making it look greasy. In fact, it leaves my skin looking healthy & glowy. It also sinks in super fast which makes it the perfect moisturiser to apply before putting on your makeup!
I also wanted to note that Celltone is against animal testing. It’s so difficult to find companies who don’t test on animals these days & I like to buy as many animal testing free products as I can. Thankfully I’ve found one!
The only negative things I have to say about this product are that I would have loved a higher SPF than 15 and also the scent isn’t my favourite. I love natural scents but I find the rose scent of this moisturiser a little too much as I’m not such a fan of rose scents. I don’t find it offensive, it’s just not my favourite.

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Xtra Hydrating Treatment

What Celltone Claim

‘A superior hydrating treatment cream made for face & body providing an invisible mesh on the skin. The mesh releases hydrating agents bringing moisture to even the driest skin. Soothing BCA Blend (Bisabalol, Calendula & Allantoin) – known for its soothing properties has been added to assist in relieving discomfort of dry skin. Beautifully silky emolients may increase aquaporin synthesis & therefore improve the water channels into the skin’

I don’t know about you but that description sounds like witchcraft!
I bought this moisturiser in addition to the daily moisturiser as I prefer a richer moisturiser in the evening & also on days when my skin is extra dry. This product is of a much thicker consistency which you can (hopefully) see in the photo below:

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Left – Daily Moisturising Lotion. Right – Xtra Hydrating Treatment

While this  product is of a much thicker consistency than the daily moisturiser it still absorbs quickly into the skin & leaves it feeling so hydrated. I really loved how my skin felt after this product & it got rid of any dry patches I had. I was initially worried that such a rich moisturiser would clog my easily clogged pores but thankfully its full of non-comedogenic ingredients that haven’t left me with breakouts. While Celltone call this a treatment rather than a moisturiser it can still be used every day as a moisturiser & it contains SPF 15 so it can be worn during the day on extra dry skin days too.
Like the Daily Moisturiser the Xtra Hydrating Treatment is scented but it has a much more subtle rose scent along with that ‘face cream’ smell so its much less offensive which I prefer.

The Final Verdict

These two products were the first that I ever bought from Celltone & I’m very much enjoying using them in my daily routine. It’s great to have found an affordable brand that’s full of natural ingredients, is paraben free & that is against animal testing. I’ll definitely be trying a few more of their products because I really am impressed!

| January Goals |

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Well here it is, 2018! Can you believe it?! I just can’t believe that people born in 2000 are now turning 18 and are legally allowed to drink. I feel like the years are passing by so fast & I’m getting old a lot quicker than I’d like.

But no one wants to listen to little old lady over here so let’s move swiftly on. With this new year comes new goals for the year. I don’t believe in the whole ‘new year, new me’ thing but I’m still a believer in setting goals. So let’s get right into my goals for the month of January!

Goal 1: Book my first smear test

So in November last year I turned 25 & where I’m from this is the first year that you are requested to go for a smear test. However since I now live in South Africa it is up to me to find a gynaecologist & book my test myself. I won’t deny that I’m nervous to get my first one as I don’t know what to expect & of course I’m worried that it will be painful. But with that being said I do know how important it is that I get one. There are so many stories out there of women who have had lucky escapes only because they religiously go for their regular smear test so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Goal 2: Save where I can 

So you may have seen my tweet (if you’re not following me on Twitter then you can follow me here – I know, shameless self-promotion, right!) that I have booked to go home in April & I’m so excited that I could squeal. By this time I won’t have seen my family in 9 months & I won’t have been home in almost a year & a half so as you can imagine it’s well overdue. With this trip coming up I want to save where I can not just this month but also for the next few as I’ll need plenty of money while I’m there to go on lovely outings. And with the Rand to Pound conversion I’ll need to save as much as I can!

Goal 3: Stick to my training & healthy eating plan

In December my boyfriend & I decided that we wanted to become super healthy & get in the best shape of our lives. We’re both slim people so we’re not doing this to lose weight. Instead we just want to tone up more & to feel even better on a day to day basis. When you eat crappy food it just leaves you feeling bloated, tired & crappy & who really wants to feel that way. So we’ve gone pretty extreme & cut out junk food & instead our plates are now filled with chicken or fish, veggies & rice. We’re also cutting down on red meat (I can tell you I’m already missing steak & lamb chops) while going to gym & doing high intensity workouts 5 days per week. 2018 WILL be the year I get into my best shape but for now January will be able adapting and focusing on sticking to this new lifestyle.

Goal 4: Get better at getting up early 

I don’t know about you but I was always one of those people who had to have 9 hours sleep every night in order to function adequately. The problem (and the blessing) of being an entrepreneur is that you can sleep as long as you like because your working day is how you want it to be. I’ve decided that I want to become a 7am riser so that I can get on with my work earlier & then close my computer earlier so that the rest of my day is my own. I will no doubt be exhausted for the first week of this but like anything else, it just takes a little routine & I’ll soon get used to it. Time to become the early bird!

 

 

| November Empties |

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Another month means another empties post & this one is jam-packed with products. I always find that when you use up products it’s either a feast or a famine – you either use up nothing or use up everything all at once. I even have makeup items in this one which very rarely happens. Looks like I’m going to have to go out & do some shopping to re-stock my bathroom cupboard!

Here’s what I used up in the month of November, what I thought of each product & whether or not I would repurchase it: 

The Body Products

Nivea Rich Moisturising Body Moisturiser
It’s rare to hear of a woman getting into a product because her boyfriend introduced her to it but as rare as that may be, that’s the case with this product. My boyfriend has always used this body moisturiser but I had never tried it until I had ran out of my own moisturiser & instead had to use some of his. Since then this has also become my everyday body moisturiser. Johannesburg has a very dry climate which leaves every inch of my skin feeling dry & in need of some serious moisturisation. This moisturiser does an amazing job at giving my skin a deep moisturisation & keeping it hydrated for the entire day & not to mention it’s also very affordable. I have already repurchased this!

Mitchum Advanced Control Deodorant Invisible Solid in Powder Fresh
I know I know, who really wants to hear about deodorant so I’ll keep this short & sweet. This is the only deodorant I use because it keeps me fresh for the entire day & has a lovely scent. I use the solid version because I don’t have to wait for it to dry. This deodorant also lasts FOREVER. This has already been a repurchase for me.

The Skincare Products

Simple Soothing Facial Toner
I didn’t actually finish this product & ending throwing 1/3rd of the product because toner just doesn’t seem to agree with my skin. I had purposefully bought this alcohol free toner because I’d heard it was best for my skin type but I think it was the product that was causing breakouts for me. Personally, I don’t feel the need for toner in my skincare regime & I’m yet to find one that agrees with my skin. I won’t be repurchasing this.

Nu Skin Moisture Restore Day Protective Lotion for Normal to Dry Skin
I mentioned this product in my previous skincare haul post & I’ve got to say that I enjoyed it. I was surprised by how small the bottle was when it arrived but it lasted about 3 months with daily use. It’s such a lightweight moisturiser but moisturised my dry skin really well without getting greasy or oily through the day. I would repurchase this product.

Nu Skin Rejuvenating Cream
Again this product featured in my skincare haul. I enjoyed this product because it was so lightweight & worked well as a night time moisturiser. I used this product during the winter months & I feel that I could have used a slightly richer cream at this time of year as Jo’burg sucks every bit of moisture out of my skin. During the summer time I think this would have been rich enough but for winter I had to pack this on to keep my skin moisturised through the night.

The Makeup Products

LA Girl Pro Coverage Foundation (Shade Natural)
I raved about this product in my current beauty favourites so I’ll keep this short & sweet. Basically I love this foundation. It’s lightweight while offering high coverage which you all know that I love. It also has a dewy finish which again I love but it’s absolutely essential that you set this foundation otherwise it will be sliding all around your face. I’ve already purchased this foundation & it’s already on the go because it’s found itself into my favourite foundations category.

Vichy Dermablend Foundation (Shade 25 Nude)
Again this is another foundation that I’ve raved about & I am so glad that it’s finally come to South Africa – and just in time too because I’d just finished the last bottle from my UK stash. You know a product is really good when you cut it open to make sure you use it all up! This foundation offers some of the highest coverage I’ve ever experienced from a foundation while being incredibly lightweight & easy to blend. Again this is another foundation that you absolutely have to set but it’s a wonder product that I’ve already repurchased.

Freedom Duo Eyebrow Powder in Medium Brown
Here’s another product that unfortunately I didn’t get to finish because it completely broke on me. I was pretty disappointed because I hadn’t even made much of a dent in it! I absolutely love the Freedom Brow Pomade & initially bought this for my no-makeup makeup days when I wanted my brows to look as natural as possible. It was great for achieving a really natural look for the brows but I just think I’m over using powders for my brows so I didn’t reach for it very much. But for such an affordable product, it’s pigmented & easy to blend! I wouldn’t repurchase this just because I prefer cream eyebrow products.

 

 

| December Goals |

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I think I’m still in shock that we’re in the final month of 2017. I feel like I’ve blinked & this year has almost passed! This month is going to be a strange one for me, really strange. And it is with this realisation that I wanted to talk about my December goals (and also because I haven’t written a goals post in a few months)

Goal 1: Deal with spending Christmas somewhere else
This is my biggest goal for this month & I know that it isn’t going to be easy. For the past 24 years I have never spent a Christmas without my family let alone on the other side of the world. Honestly, I’m already struggling with it. I haven’t been in the Christmas spirit as it’s hot here, there are no Christmas decorations up in the house & I’m not doing my traditional Christmas outings & activities. I’ve been hating seeing everyone (especially family & friends) posting about it on social media. It’s difficult being without your family & friends at this time of year & Christmas in South Africa just isn’t the same. At all.
My goal for this month is to make the most of this. I’m getting to spend Christmas in a new country & I’m getting to spend Christmas with my love which I’m thankful for & I know he’ll do his best to try & make it special for me. Now it’s just up to me to make the most of this situation & to enjoy the festive period as much as I can, no matter how un-christmassy it may feel!

Goal 2: Relax
2017 has been one of the most hectic years of my life & it has also been one of the toughest. In my What I Learnt as a 24 Year Old post I lightly touched on this if you want to take a look. Basically, it was the biggest learning curve & it’s been pretty damn stressful. With the arrival of the festive period & going on a week away, I just want to relax & unwind for a little while. While I’ll have a little work to do here & there I want to limit this a lot so that I can get the break that I’ve earned. I’ve worked a lot this year & I’ve learnt a lot this year so it’s time to give my tired brain & body a rest!

Goal 3: Learn to cook a turkey
So I’m 25 & I’ve never cooked a turkey & the only reason that I’m making the big life decision to do so is because I’m spending Christmas with my boyfriends family who don’t like to eat turkey. So I’ve decided that I’m going to cook my first turkey because I cannot imagine a Christmas without my traditional dinner & if I’m not having Christmas at home, I’ll bring Christmas at home to South Africa. Wish me luck & pray that I don’t burn down the kitchen, I’m going to need it!

Goal 4: Reflect on my year
As mentioned this year has been crazy for me, but it has been a year when I have learnt more than I ever could have imagined I would. I started businesses, failed, got up & tried again. While at times I’ve felt that this year was a complete failure, if I really spend the time to look at what I’ve gone through & where I am now, I really should be proud of what I’ve achieved. I want to spend some time & write in my diary all the things that I’ve faced, overcame & achieved because I want to keep it as a reminder to never give up!

 

| The Best of Real Techniques Makeup Brushes |

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I go on & on about makeup here on Beauty & The Blouse but what good is makeup if you don’t have good brushes to apply it with!

Over the years I’ve tried a bunch of brushes from different brands but I always find myself reaching for my Real Techniques brushes. From the moment I bought my first Real Techniques set I completely fell in love & a long love affair began. They offer so many different brushes, superb quality, affordable prices & not to mention they look cute too. I just can’t fault them!

So lets get into my Real Techniques favourites:

Real Techniques Nic’s Picks Limited Edition Brush Set

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I hate talking about limited addition products in case you guys can’t get a hold of them so I’m sorry that I’m mentioning these but you can still buy them online if you want them! In the Nic’s Picks collection there are 5 brushes but it is only 3 of these that made it into my Ride or Die selection; the Cheek Brush, the Angled Eyeshadow Brush & the Base Shadow Brush.

The Cheek Brush (set exclusive): (1st photo above) This is my absolute go-to blush brush. It’s so dense & picks up a lot of product (so be careful with those super pigmented blushes) & blends out my blush beautifully to give me the understated look that I always go for when it comes to my blush.
The Angled Eyeshadow Brush (set exclusive): (2nd photo above left) Holy moly this brush is so unbelievable soft & fluffy. It’s a very easy brush to work with in that it provides plenty of movement for blending but I would say that for those with smaller eyelids, this may be a little more difficult to work with. I love using this to apply my dark, outer corner shade.
The Base Shadow Brush: (2nd photo above right) This product does exactly what it says on the tin & more. Again like the brush above its so soft & fluffy. It is the perfect shape & size & has the perfect density to apply your base shadow quickly & effortlessly. It’s also great to help you draw out your crease colour & you can then blend it out too. It can be a really versatile brush if you want it to.

 

Real Techniques Sculpting Brush Set

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Yet another set from real techniques that sucked me in was the Sculpting Brush Set. I love a good contour & a set of brushes that was designed to help me contour & sculpt my face was always going to be a winner! In this set there are 3 brushes but there are only 2 of these that I use almost every day; The Setting Brush (above left) & the Sculpting Brush (above right)

The Setting Brush: This brush was of course designed to add powder to the skin whether it be setting powder or highlight. This brush is the perfect size for setting specific areas of the face & I personally use it to set my under-eye concealer on a daily basis.
The Sculpting Brush: This brush is a super dense, wide brush that is perfect for my contour powder. Because of it’s slanted shape it fits into the hollows of my cheeks easily & because of its density it blends out my contour shade effortlessly. The only thing I want to mention is that because of the thickness of the brush you need to concentrate a little if you want a sharp contour to avoid it going above your cheekbones.

 

Real Techniques Core Collection

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These were the first brushes that I ever bought from Real Techniques & were what started my long love affair with the brand. These brushes are marketed as 4 steps to complete coverage & the set includes 4 brushes of which I’ve included 2; the Buffing Brush (above middle) & the Contour Brush (above right)

The Buffing Brush: This brush is great for applying powder because of it’s slightly flattened top & because of the density. I previous used it with my setting powder to set my foundation however I have recently started using it with my bronzer because the density of the brush picks up a lot of product to give me that bronzed look that I love in the summer. It’s also fantastic for blending out my bronzer so that my skin looks naturally sun-kissed.
The Contour Brush: This little domed brush is my go-to for my powder highlighters. It is the right size for the tops of my cheekbones, picks up enough product & blends the highlighting powder perfectly to give me that seamless, popping highlight that I love. It’s also a small enough size to apply highlight down the centre of the nose.

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush (above left)

There’s a reason why this is Real Techniques #1 best-selling brush – it is a dream for foundation. When it comes to foundation brushes I’m incredibly fussy. I want a brush that doesn’t waste too much product, that isn’t too small, that is dense & soft, that effortlessly blends my foundation & that leaves a beautiful streak-free finish (I’m not asking for much am I!) This brush gives me all of those things. It’s perfect for liquid foundations & it’s the right shape & density to make applying my foundation the effortless task I want it to be while giving me a perfectly flawless finish.

What are your favourite Real Techniques brushes?