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Makeup tips

Lockdown Self-Care Kit – Part Two

In part one, I talked about my own self-care kit and how important it is this year to make your own health – both physical and mental – a priority. When we are faced with difficult times ahead as well as dealing with uncertainty and confusion, it is hard to maintain a normal routine like going to work, socialising with friends or visiting family, but even harder to do the things we perhaps took for granted like book a haircut or an eyebrow appointment, visit our favourite hotels or go on holiday.

So the one thing we do have control over right now is ourselves and if we can all learn a bit of self-care and putting ourselves first for a while, it may mean that so many of us come out of the other side of this feeling even better than we did before the pandemic started, or at least a bit more organised and collected in our own lives.

In part one, I let you know about my self-care kit with regards to maintaining energy, so exercise and energising foods and drinks, and also about what I do to relax, so my pamper kit and reading – mostly looking at the physical aspect of my body’s health. In part two, I think about Creativity and Mindfulness and how these things are really important for mental wellbeing, which is so important now especially that everyone is so focused on physical health aspects.

Creativity

Being creative doesn’t necessarily come naturally to some people, and I always find this is used as an excuse to not get creative even when it could be fun, distracting or even productive. I was born with more creative bones in my body than academic, so to speak, so I have always found it quite natural and enjoyable to pick up a pencil and start drawing than to work out a mathematic problem or get stuck in with a science project.

But there are ways to be creative that don’t require so much skill in specific departments and can just be good fun and a way to illuminate the mind and find out what you’re really capable of. Creativity is a great form of self-care and I would always say everyone has at least one creative bone in their body, so it’s time to see exactly what that is.

A Blank Canvas – I love to draw and paint so naturally during lockdown, a blank canvas and some of my finest paints were the first things to come out of hibernation. The problem was, I wasn’t feeling very inspired. My own creativity consisted of me sitting there staring at a blank page for possible hours.

As the year has gone on, I’m finding it easier to draw from experiences – literally – and put pen to paper. Now, this might not work for everyone, and to a lot of people it may not even seem enjoyable. So when it comes to your own self-care kit, it’s a great idea to think about what you can do that is creative, gets the mind’s juices flowing and allows for some you time in a fun way. Writing is always a good example of this, even just for odd thoughts or musings, or perhaps a diary outlet that allows you to get things off your chest in a personal way. I have a notebook and pens/pencils in my bag with me every day for sketches or notes if I want to remember something funny that happened and it really is a great way of managing thoughts while doing something positive.

Decorating or gardening is another way to get creative, and if you have found yourself in a sort of lockdown situation or perhaps working less than usual, what better way to be creative than transform a bedroom, arrange some new plants or upholster some new cushions. It also gives you a good excuse to do some online shopping and in difficult times, who doesn’t love a good delivery of new things.

Being creative isn’t restricted to a blank canvas and paint brush, and any creative outlet should be welcomed (encouraged) to assist with mental wellbeing. By decreasing anxiety, a creative task gives the mind focus and can even be a form of meditation, as well as being a release for intense emotions. If you can’t think of a way to be creative straight away, don’t force it, but if you want to incorporate this in your own self-care kit maybe start by carrying around that notebook and jot things down that inspire you to start on your own creative adventure.

Cooking – Ok so you can’t exactly fit a whole kitchen inside a self-care kit, but you get the idea. Creativity comes in all forms and for me, cooking is one of my most therapeutic methods of self-care. This isn’t the same for everyone, and a lot of people see cooking as an arduous task that is only necessary for them to survive. But stick with me here, I’m not saying you have to become Gordon Ramsey and open a Michelin star restaurant, but if you think about the positives of cooking, it may help you see it as an enjoyable task that you start to feel excited for.

My reasons for cooking being part of my self-care kit are

1. I enjoy food, a lot! So, what better way to feed this passion than learn how to cook amazing meals for myself.

2. It’s cheaper than eating out or ordering takeaway, which at the moment, the purse strings desperately need to avoid.

3. It gives me something to focus on and build a new skill, and then feel immensely proud when I cook for someone else and they enjoy it.

4. It helps me to control what I put into my body, staying physically healthy is as important as staying mentally healthy so knowing what ingredients are in my food and seeking out healthier alternatives is better for me.

5. It’s the perfect excuse for a glass of wine. Cooking is amazing if you make it about you and take the time to enjoy doing it, celebrating your moment in the kitchen with some wine and great aromas around you does wonders for the mind.

Updated Makeup, Skin and Eyelash Care Kit – So this one falls under my creative category because if you look at it, our faces are a blank canvas every day that we have opportunities to makeover in a safe, harmless and non-permanent way (if we don’t want to, anyway). I find that in a lockdown situation, I have not been wearing makeup as I used to as I don’t really go out as much as I used to.

But I always have to think about Zoom meetings and other video chats where the focus is going to be on my face and as I can also see myself, it is easy to get self-conscious, especially not wearing makeup. So, I decided to revamp my makeup kit and start to get a bit more creative with what I was wearing and how I was wearing it.

Side note: If you aren’t a big makeup wearer, then you could look into skin care routines as part of your self-care kit and just always have flawless looking and feeling skin, even without the cover up!

I treated myself to a new rejuvenating moisturiser and under-eye serum to make sure I always look awake, even when I don’t feel it, and invested in some new intensive care lip balms, eyelash serums and eyebrow kits. It is such a good feeling opening up a new bit of makeup or skin care lotion and trying it for the first time, so it was a good outlet for creativity as the time away from the office allowed me to practice styles that I hadn’t before and use different colours on my eyelids and lips. Sometimes there are small victories in making yourself feel made up and ready to go, even when you aren’t able to.

I also love the feeling that when this is all over, I will still feel like me and look like me, but hopefully a bit of a healthier version of me. I’ve been looking after my hair with oil treatments, my eyelashes with healthy eyelash serums that also help them stay strong and grow longer and my skin is having a few more breaks from the daily makeup regimen. But there’s no harm in a little creative practice every now and then, so I look forward to the days when I get made up.

Mindfulness

The purpose of mindfulness is to eradicate stress from your life and see things in a different ways by feeling in the moment and using specific exercises to relax the body and mind. It is a practice that is encouraged over a long period of time in order to ground your feelings and emotions and engage your senses. To people that aren’t fully aware of mindfulness or who have in the past, doubted its capability of working, in times where self-care is needed more than ever, it is a good practice to at least read about and learn about in order to figure out if it is a worthwhile exercise.

When it comes to mindfulness and my own self-care kit, I include it in small everyday ways rather than dedicate long hours to meditation, as time ends to not be on my side, but I also recognise that the little things really help to bring me back to my current self and present thoughts without much effort.

No Distractions – This one is harder than it sounds. No phone, no book, no TV or tablets, just no distractions for 10-15 minutes. It sounds like a short amount of time but when you’re left to your own thoughts for this long, the mind tends to wander. I personally love to use this as part of my self-care routine as it helps me to gain control of my wandering mind.

For mindfulness to truly work, you need to sit comfortably, breath calmly and think about your senses. What can you hear? What can you smell? What can you feel? Just by sitting still, you can really focus on the present and what is going on around you to relax the brain. When I do this and my mind starts to go off to different places, worrying about work or money or phone calls I need to make, it becomes easier over time to rein those thoughts in and regain focus on myself in the current moment. This kind of focus is amazing training for the brain that allows you to recompose during times of stress and formulate solutions by thinking rationally.

My self-care kit includes various books and apps for mindfulness and I find for me, it is a great thing to do last thing at night before I go to bed, but some might find it more beneficial at the start of the day. Either way, it is a great way to work on yourself during a lockdown and keep those negative thoughts at bay, even if it is just for 15 minutes a day!

A Good Playlist – Ok so mindfulness has a specific meaning and there is a lot behind the practice that involve grounding and relaxing while thinking about the present moment. As I said before, I do love to take 15 minutes out of my day for this practice but I’m also a firm believer that music has the ability to make me feel better or amplify my mood.

I don’t know about you, but I have days where I need to let the tears out and sometimes the best way to do that is with a sad film or some music that makes you feel certain emotions. But when so many daily lives are affected by sadness and confusion at the moment, I feel that having a good playlist for self-care should contain music that uplifts and inspires. I set up a 16 hour playlist on my phone so I never actually get through it all at once, but it’s great for days when you forget a certain song and it comes on making me feel energised and happy.

Music acts as a medium for processing emotions and while mine are quite high these days, I couldn’t live without my favourite playlist. If you want to include a music playlist in your self-care kit, don’t feel like you just have to have one, you can have as many as you like for each mood, I just choose one as I love the surprise of what’s coming next with no idea if it will be an upbeat classic, some moody rock, or a singalong from my favourite musical.

Lockdown Self-Care Round Up

Whether the country or the region you live in has been mildly or hugely affected by the pandemic, it is safe to say we have all been troubled by it in some way over the past year. Try to remember that looking after yourself in a positive way is not anything to be ashamed of, as the world needs more positivity at a time like this. Here’s hoping you use your own self-care routines wisely and have fun putting together your own kits.

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Makeup tips

Lockdown Self Care Kits – Part One

As we enter a new phase in the Covid-19 pandemic, times ahead are uncertain for almost all of us which can be distressing and anxiety inducing, and as the warm summer months escape just as fast as they arrived, we are all having trouble knowing what to do, what we can do and what we should do. But amidst all the chaos and the nervousness about what comes next, there is one thing that should always remain a priority, especially now more than ever: self-care.

Whether we enter a new period of lockdown or partial lockdown, the effect this massive change can have on our mental health has the potential to last so it is vital to create environments for ourselves that we can continue to thrive in. There can be more harm done by hiding away and admitting defeat, so we all need to start thinking about how we can make the most out of this time, how we can keep a routine and how we can uplift and inspire others with our positivity.

There are a million ways to do this, and not everyone will have the same method of self-care, but if what you do works for you, it is increasingly essential that you keep it up and perhaps share your positive experience with those around you. I’m sharing my self-care kit with you today. Something that helps with energising when it calls for it and relaxation when it is needed, keeping creative juices flowing and using mindfulness as a tool to get through these tough months.

My own self-care kit isn’t necessarily a physical box of products, but more a routine with organisation and key items that I always keep stocked up, but you can do this however suits you whether that’s a fully decorated box of your go to products, or even a handy reminder list complete with mantras pinned to your wall. The point is self-care, so always do what is right for you.

For Energy

Having the natural desire to get up and go each day is something I can only dream of for the most part. I do love summer though, and seeing the sun shining outside is a natural energy booster for me, but as the winter nights draw in, the distinct lack of Vitamin D is enough to make me crawl into bed early and leave it a lot later the next day, especially during a long bout of working from home.

Our bodies crave an energy boost but can equally submit to lethargy if left without the desire to get up, get dressed and make an impact on the day. So, this is why in my self-care kit, I include the following:

Green Tea – Long ago, coffee was the daily go to energy boost of choice, but I felt it wasn’t doing me any favours. My skin felt dry, I started to wonder if I was ever really awake, I was constantly thinking about my next coffee even when I was still sipping my current cup and I spent a fortune visiting a certain coffee chain just to get my fix.

So, I made the switch to green tea. But I didn’t like it. Probably something to do with years of opposing tea in every form and wanting to stay loyal to my precious cup of the dark stuff. But even with all the recommendations and advice that it was going to be good for me, I still didn’t like it. But, I discovered adding a small spoon of honey or a peppermint leaf completely transformed this cup of tea into something I could stick with and now I fully appreciate this stuff.

I get my caffeine fix, but not in a jittery anxiety ridden way, I feel cleansed in an internal way that you can’t really describe – yes, I understand this is the point of drinking green tea with all of its antioxidant properties – and I realised that sometimes you just need a hot drink in the morning, coffee or not, this stuff really gives you an energy boost that lasts so you don’t crave cup after cup all day. As far as my self-care kit is concerned, green tea will be here to stay.

Berries and Nuts – Self-care is not about making yourself miserable by putting yourself on difficult diets and restricting all the fun things in life, but it is about making sure that you are healthy and have the energy to perform all the tasks expected of you. In my eyes there is nothing wrong with a treat, and I always keep a sneaky bar of chocolate in my cupboard for my own well-being, or at least that’s what I tell myself.

But I realised the importance of giving my body foods and nutrition that provide energy and don’t make me feel like I’ve added a few extra numbers to those scales while slumped on the sofa unable to move or be productive. Berries and nuts are known energy boosters and are included in my self-care routine. Packed to high heaven with nutrients and fatty acids, the benefit of eating them lasts so much longer than a quick fix of something tasty but naughty that you may end up regretting later.

Slow-releasing energy is the key to keeping up with the day and not feeling fatigued by the time the afternoon rolls around, so I always make up a couple of little pots to carry around with me each day, even if that is just to my new home office/sofa. If I’m feeling in need of a bit of change, pumpkin seeds are swapped in for some variety. I’m a habitual snacker, so even if I reach into my pot every 10 seconds I don’t need to worry about the guilt later. Self-care and energy go hand in hand, and that’s why these foods are always in my kit.

Running Shoes – How many times have you wanted to join a gym, created a schedule that you have promised yourself you will stick to and bought new work out gear, ready to start your new fitness regime that will guarantee you six pack abs and a super firm butt, only to drop out of your promised gym sessions while still paying a monthly fee and watch your new work out gear quietly judging you from the hangers. If you have no idea what I’m talking about and your fitness routine never falters, then I salute you!

The gym is one of my favourite places, but I cannot stick it out long-term. Something always gets in the way – a minor injury, overtime for work or just the mentally draining thought of working out when you really don’t have the energy. Unfortunately, we’re in a time where gyms may not be open or fully available to everyone, so it is the perfect excuse for people like me to use as to why I’m not staying active.

This is why I put my running shoes in my self-care kit. In fact, they stay in my kitchen where they are fully visible every time I go to grab a naughty snack. The guilt alone is enough to put them on and get exercising. So many people love the open road as opposed to the treadmill, I much prefer the quiet corner of my gym where I can change my speed settings when it gets too much and hide in the changing rooms when I get covered in sweat and can’t catch my breath. But now the only option is to take to the outdoors, it makes so much sense to expend some energy to gain more energy back.

I don’t even run every day, sometimes it’s just a fast-paced walk and a brief jog back to the house, but the fresh air in my lungs, a change of scenery and the knowledge that I’m doing my body the world of good spurs me on, rain or shine. Any form of exercise is a good energy driver, so for my own self-care it is really important to keep this up every day.

For Relaxation

Switching off can be equally as important, if not more, as feeling energised and ready to go at the day, so when you think of your own self-care kits I would say here is where you really want to reward yourself and be as specific as you can with products and routines that really work for you. I find that relaxation resets the body and the mind, and I make time for it in a different way each day, even if it’s just 30 minutes out of a busy day.

A Good Book – There is nothing better than an enthralling read in my eyes. Escaping the world for a few minutes or hours at a time by diving into a good book is one of my favourite things to do in my downtime.

There are so many negative distractions in the world, especially now. You can’t turn on the TV without seeing some bad news so it’s really important now to find other distractions that don’t involve only seeing the things you don’t want or need to be reminded of constantly. So, switching off by putting down your phone, casting your laptop aside for a few hours and losing yourself in a book is one of the ultimate ways to relax and should become part of any self-care kit, especially during lockdown.

Reading, especially when other alternative methods of self-care become unavailable, is so important right now for our own mental health and sanity. Being confined to four walls for any period of time doesn’t only mean that physically we aren’t stretching ourselves, but mentally we aren’t giving our brains room to grow. This isn’t to say there is a wrong and right with what books you choose to read, just as long as it is stimulating you while your body gets to relax and unwind.

From a historical novel, crime fiction to interesting biographies, expanding our world beyond our four walls is one of the best things you can do for self-care, so get book shopping.

A Pamper Kit – For the ultimate relaxation experience, this one is a must for me. And it is so easy to put one together for yourself. People can spend a whole load of money on their own pamper kits, buying generic ones from stores and generally having a few products in them that they will never use. Think of when you get a box of chocolates and there’s always five or six of one type left at the bottom of the box as you don’t eat that flavour.

This is why I like to make my own and even if it means spending a few pennies, I know I will always squeeze every last drop out of the products in there. It started out as an old shoe box that contained a few items I had collected from Christmas gifts, but then it started to grow and grow and is now a cute medium sized wicker basket that fits perfectly on my shelf next to the bath. With products ranging from sparkly bath bombs that smell of candy floss and fruit berries in summer or warm apple cinnamon in the winter, the ever-important face mask – I love a clay mask and team this up with a soak in the tub and my book while it sets, an oil hair treatment that I use once a week, not only to keep my hair in great condition but in the interests of self-care, and various facial moisturisers, toners and cleansers. I also include a good manicure kit, eyelash and eyebrow serums, lip moisturisers and plenty of clean cotton cloths and a big fluffy towel and robe for relaxing after the pamper session.

Think of the pamper kit as the sort of thing you pull out when the big guns are called for. Not just an everyday use thing, but something you look forward to and can set your time aside to use. When you are uncertain of the future or this crisis is causing stress, giving yourself a little time to treat your body is important, again to switch off and enjoy an hour or two to yourself. When you end up not only feeling good but looking great too, it’s an added bonus.

So, that’s part on of my lockdown self-care kit, stay tuned for part two where I think about creativity and mindfulness and how these can be incorporated into a self-care kit.

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Perfect eyebrow guide

Makeup tips

A Guide for Perfect Eyebrows

You know how some people say that eyebrows should be sisters, not twins? Well, what about if yours are not even distant relatives at this point? You may be wondering if there is anything you can do to get that sisterly bond back and be able to sport a set of eyebrows that are healthy, facially defining and even envy inducing. Ok, so the last one isn’t so important, but if you have found yourself suffering with thinning, uneven or just lack-lustre eyebrows, you will definitely get a kick out of the compliments that fly in once your brows are back to their old selves.

I absolutely love how eyebrows can changes a person’s face. From the way they are groomed to the expressions that they are able to convey. Eyebrows are really important to our own identities and it is easier than we think to get them looking great, so right now, maybe all that is needed is a little guide and a push in the right direction to beat those brows back into shape.

The Purpose of Eyebrows

Why do we even have eyebrows? I mean, granted we might look a bit weird without them, but that’s only because we are so used to them being ever-present on every face. If we took them away though, would it really make much difference physically?

The answer is yes and no, especially in current times, as we tend to mess around with them so much now that they are nowhere near as close to their original purpose as they once were. The eyebrow is actually a barrier for the eyes, similar to eyelashes, preventing water and sweat from dripping into the eyes so we can maintain our sight. The difference with eyelashes is that they are protectors against dust, debris and other particles that try to find their way in.

As humans have evolved, the need for body hair has become less important so we tend not to grow it as much as the first humans did. On the face, the eyebrows and eyelashes have pretty much remained a constant across all of us and are both things we are all born with. These days, we have products and processes that can stop perspiration, towels that can wipe away sweat and umbrellas that can stop rain from entering our eyes. We are quite lucky really to be able to protect our eyes even without eyebrows, so the need for them too, has diminished.

However, there is one more thing that eyebrows can do really well – communicate! Think about how many times you’ve had an eyebrow raising moment at hearing or seeing something shocking. Think about how many times you’ve frowned at something you didn’t like; your eyebrows were the leading force in expressing those emotions and you wouldn’t have been able to convey those same reactions in a non-verbal way if it weren’t for them.

This might not seem important but seeing as up to 95% of all communication is non-verbal, eyebrows really account for a lot of the ways we express our feelings to other people. It isn’t always a blessing though; our eyebrows make hiding our emotions even harder to do and even more difficult to fake. But it’s a small price to pay for having a great set of brows so I’m sure we can all deal with that.

General Eyebrow Health

So, if our eyebrows are destined to be excellent communicators, they might as well look good while they do it. If they are going to hang around, they can at least pay their dues and flatter our faces while remaining healthy and strong.

Well, eyebrows, like a lot of other things on our body such as our lips, hair and skin can tell us a lot about our body’s health. If there is something wrong with these things, they are usually a good indicator that something else might need attention. This could range from a hormonal imbalance to an illness or condition that may need treatment, so it is important to listen to what your features are telling you.

One thing that is usually (unfortunately) occurs in all of us over time, is thinning hair and hair loss. This goes for our eyebrows too, which means as we get older, the follicles stop producing hair like they used to, and it makes it harder for them to grow back or look as full as they once did. But as this is just a slow transition in life it doesn’t usually mean there is a problem to be worried about.

That being said, there are things we should all be doing to slow down this process and to keep our brows firmly in place for as long as possible. Nutrients aren’t just for our bodies; hair needs it too and this includes eyebrows. Deficiencies in minerals, fatty acids and Biotin can be the number one reason that hair starts to thin and fall out so our food intake should account for these things to look after everything in one go.

Aside from eating foods rich in nutrients, we can always apply oils directly to our eyebrows to help stimulate the follicles and to add strength and shine all in one go. Oils such as castor oil, coconut oil or even olive oil are good for adding the vitamins and natural proteins that encourage healthy hair growth. But if you do this, be careful to not over-apply and to wash off with warm water and a soft cloth after about 30 minutes. Even if you don’t see any growth improvement with this, you will be able to see an improvement in colour and vibrancy, which can give the illusion of fuller brows so it’s a great method of eyebrow care.

Eyebrow Conditioner

If applying your favourite food prep oils to your eyebrows doesn’t do it for you, or sound like it will be anything but greasy, there are always other options to get eyebrows back in check. Eyebrow conditioners are a thing now and when you think about it, we wash and condition the hair on our head, why wouldn’t we look after our eyebrows in the same way?!

I suppose the difference is the follicles are more delicate, the growth cycle is shorter and the skin underneath and around the eyebrow hairs have more exposure to daily elements, particles and makeup. There are also not as many of them, which makes each and every eyebrow hair as precious as the next. So, when it comes to keeping them clean and conditioned, we can’t afford to be so forceful about it.

This is where an eyebrow conditioner comes in. It needs to be gentle yet pack a punch as well as being easy and convenient to use. Take Xbrow Eyebrow conditioner as an example, this little number comes in a small tube the size of your favourite mascara, has an easy applicator wand, and enough serum to last with small, daily applications. Rather than coating your brows in olive oil and then having to remove it after half an hour, this stuff can be left on overnight and doesn’t leave a residue behind.

The best thing about an eyebrow conditioner is not only does it make brows look shinier and healthier, but it also actually stimulates and strengthens the follicles to encourage hairs to grow fuller and thicker. I don’t know about you, but I know my brows could do with that kind of boost right about now. As each year rolls by, one more eyebrow hair seems to refuse to grow back as full as it once was and I have to mostly rely on daily makeup to achieve my eyebrow goals, which in turn is probably not helping the cause in the long run. An eyebrow conditioner really can’t do any harm so in the search for great looking eyebrows, this is a fantastic option.

Hair Removal and Grooming

This is where things get a bit tricky again, especially if you’re on a quest to get back your fuller eyebrows. It can be so tempting to pluck away those strays and go back to a shape you have always known, but these days, the “ungroomed groomed” look is so much better than the “barely there” look of days past. The more eyebrow there is, the more there is to work with, and most eyebrow technicians or makeup artists love to have a base to create a great shape with. This becomes a harder task when eyebrows have been tweezed to within a millimetre of their lives.

Sure, rocking a monobrow or super thick and fluffy eyebrows may not be your dream, but it really does leave more options when it comes down to your eyebrow shape. So where possible, leave your hair removal to the experts and only reach for the tweezers to have a tidy up, not reshape your brows entirely, if you are looking for your own perfect eyebrow, then shape has so much more to do with it than you may have first realised.

Eyebrow Shape

There was a time when whatever eyebrows people were born with was what they stuck with for their whole lives. As we mentioned earlier, they served a purpose, and the aesthetic was never part of that purpose. But once makeup became a sign of wealth, intelligence and stature, it was pretty much given that eyebrows would never be the same, nor would they have to.

You only have to look at images from Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and the Romans to see that eyebrows were a treated as a prominent feature and represented different things in a woman’s life. Even the early Hollywood starlets in the 1900’s jumped on the eyebrow trends that made them stand out on both stage and screen. But it is only truly now in the 2000’s that eyebrow shape is being thought of more. Rather than following a passing trend of high arch eyebrows, super-thin eyebrows or straight-as-an-arrow eyebrows, the thing really is matching your brow shape to your face shape for a more flattering all-round look.

So, for someone born with a curvy eyebrow who is used to plucking under the arch to really emphasise it’s height, today might opt for a slightly lower arch and a thicker body to the eyebrow to flatter a long face. Or someone with rounded eyebrows may now be sporting straighter eyebrows to flatter a round face. The shape of your face is not necessarily going to fall into one exact category, but it will always have a matching eyebrow shape that help them both compliment each other.
So even if it means a trip to the salon or a home appointment by your favourite technician, the best way to find out what eyebrow shape will match your face is to have a proper consultation. Never, try to reshape your own eyebrows based on a picture or a celebrity with great eyebrows that you like, it is always worth spending the money to get them right. If you need to fake it with makeup in the meantime, that is always a good way of experimenting with your own shape, different shades and gradients on a less permanent basis. At the end of the day, you can just wash it off (gently) and try something new.

Eyebrows have come a long way over the years, it’s so good to be in a time when they are celebrated in their own way once again, not for stature or wealth but for flattery and making us feel good about ourselves with confidence. You may think the perfect eyebrow doesn’t exist yet, but with a little effort and willingness to try something new, you may be closer to perfect than you think.

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Makeup tips

Eyelash FAQs Answered

Whether you have worn mascara once in your life or have been an avid fan of eyelash extensions for years, there are always questions surrounding eyelashes and how to really take care of them that you may want answered. So, what better way to put these questions together once and for all and have the answers in one place ready for you to refer to when you need it.

You have the questions, and we have the answers. Hopefully, these will solve some of the eyelash mysteries and myths that you have been dying to know.

Why do we have Eyelashes?

Often signified as an emphasis of beauty, it can be hard to think about eyelashes having an actual function. But they are particularly important, even if they don’t seem to have much purpose other than decorating our eyes.

Eyelash hairs actually have two functions. The first, to protect our eyes from debris and dust that may try to fall into them. We have all experienced windy days where it is a natural reaction to purse our eyes to stop dirt, sand or particles from getting to them and our eyelashes act as that addition barrier to catch those particles, leaving our eyes clean and clear.

The second is to act as a warning sign that danger is close. Think about the whiskers on a cat, they are extremely sensitive and alert the body that there is something too close. Eyelashes have the same function and cause an instant reaction of closing the eye so that they are protected from anything coming toward them in a close proximity.

They may be small and great to make up with mascara, but they are essential, so it is important to look after them.

What is the Eyelash Growth Cycle?

The eyelash growth cycle may not be something you think about, but it can be important to know a little bit about it so that if you are having a bad lash day, you can rest assured that it may just be part of your eyelash growth cycle. It can also help you to recognise when it might be time to do something about it.

There are three stages to the eyelash growth cycle and overall, the whole cycle lasts around 5-6 months. The first stage is the ANAGEN phase or growth phase. This lasts anywhere between 30 and 45 days and is where the individual eyelashes are growing into full length within its follicle.

The second stage is the CATAGEN phase or the transition phase and this can last somewhere between 2-3 weeks. The hair has reached its maximum length and the follicle begins to shrink ready to push the hair out. Eyelashes that fall out in this phase will not regrow straight away as this and the next stage of the cycle need to complete their part.

What is a Normal Number of Eyelashes to Lose per Day?

When it comes to learning about the eyelash growth cycle, it is important not to worry too much about losing eyelashes or not losing any at all. Individual eyelashes go through the cycle at different times so there will never be a time where all of your eyelashes are in the telogen phase at the same time.

In fact, losing eyelashes is quite normal and we can lose between 1 and 4 eyelashes per day on average. Of course this isn’t an exact science as it is hard to track from person to person, but it gives a good indication of whether your lashes are in the right zone for loss or whether you may have an underlying problem causing them to fall out more than they should.

What is the Proper Way to Cleanse Your Eyelashes?

Harsh cleansing can be the cause of premature eyelash loss and not cleansing enough can be the reason for infections or unhealthy eyelashes that may not reach their full potential, so it is important to find the balance.

To start with, always clean makeup like mascara and eyeliner daily with a specific makeup remover for the eyes. It is important you aren’t using harsh products near your eyes anyway to prevent irritation but also because the skin around them including your eyelash follicles, are all very delicate and sensitive to a lot of products.

When taking mascara off always use a wet cotton pad or gentle sponge and makeup remover and try not to rub too hard. Rub in the direction of the eyelash growth and away from the eyes to prevent unwanted eyelash loss and so that you don’t end up rubbing makeup residue back into your eyes.

It is also important to clean your whole face with a gentle cleanser after using a makeup remover as that is only designed to get rid of mascara and foundation, but not the dust or dirt particles that may still be clinging on, which is what a cleanser grabs hold of.

Do you need to Moisturise Your Eyelashes?

Quite simply, yes! Every part of your face will need a little hydration from a light moisturiser each day and your eyelashes are no different. Hydration is a massive factor in healthy skin and hair, so in eyelashes it prevents dryness, extra breakage or brittleness and promotes longer lasting health.

The best time to do it is after cleansing and before bed so that your eyelashes get the full benefit of hydration. What better time to look after our eyelashes while you sleep with no extra effort involved. So yes, keeping lashes moisturised is essential.

Is Petroleum Jelly Good for Eyelashes?

This has long been a debate but as the saying goes, “everything in moderation”. Petroleum jelly has hydrating and moisturising properties but it is also very thick and oily so it may not be good for long-term use or for people with already oily skin as petroleum jellies such as Vaseline is hard to apply to eyelashes alone.

Vaseline has so many different uses so it should be no surprise that acting as an eyelash moisturiser is one of those things. As it has hydrating properties and retaining power it can help make eyelashes smoother, stronger and more likely to stick around during the eyelash growth cycle rather than break off. Overall, it can’t really help with eyelash growth, but it can help with eyelash health and strength when used properly.

Should you Use Homemade Solutions for Eyelash Growth?

Again, the jury is still out on this one. While it can’t hurt to use certain homemade remedies for eyelash health, it may not have much benefit, especially in the growth department. There are many old wives’ tales as well as recipes for moisturisers and they can all easily be found at the touch of a button on the internet. But it can be difficult to know which ones work and which don’t as we are all different and what works for someone may not work for others.

Take green tea for example, it has great antioxidant properties to rid the eye area and eyelashes of bad things, germs and potential infections but it can be dehydrating if used too much. But then some people will sewar by using green teabags as a remedy for their eyelash growth. It has a lot to do with keeping eyelashes healthy until they are ready to fall out and if a certain homemade remedy does this for you then you will get the full benefit from that method.

Other remedies include concoctions of olive oil and lemon juice, or castor oil with vitamin E. While they all have properties that can assist with eyelash strength, the fact that there is a daily routine with regards to eyelash health will have more to do with the success rate than the actual product.

What do Eyelash Serums Do?

Eyelash serums are relatively new products that have arisen out of need to look after eyelashes seeing as we put them through their paces daily with makeup, mascara, cleansing, false lash applications and eyelash extensions. Eyelashes were starting to become a neglected part of our faces and their health was starting to become a thing of question.

Second, they can help eyelashes to grow. Now, an eyelash growth serum may sound like it’s too good to be true, but the fact is they have been scientifically designed to get the most out of your eyelashes. Take the Eyelash Serum by Xlash as an example, formulated with natural ingredients, plant extracts and it is oil free so it can be used with eyelash extensions so that the natural lashes have a chance to grow longer and stronger even with the adhesives that are used.

Eyelash growth serums are also really easy and convenient to use. Instead of mixing up a daily concoction of oils and juices, it is as simple as gliding a small wand over the eyelashes each night after cleansing and letting the work happen while you sleep. For that reason alone, eyelash serums are going to be around for a long time, with the added bonuses of great eyelash health and beautifully long lashes.

Are Eyelash Extensions Damaging?

Over a long period of time and with multiple top up, yes, eyelash extensions can have an adverse effect on eyelashes, but in general these days they are applied with such care by professionals that in the short-term they are kept healthy and in a good condition.

What you have to remember is that applying anything foreign on a semi-permanent level to the body will have a negative effect. Think about hair extensions and how they have to be upkept while they are in place. The proud owner has to make sure they are prepared for that dedication and are also prepared for the additional weight being applied to their natural hair. The same goes for eyelashes, although already quite light, the extra weight of adhesive and extensions can start to weigh down natural lashes over time or cause short-term breakage.

Eyelash extensions are a pretty price though and not one that people would be willing to pay if they knew they had to then pay to repair their eyelashes afterward, so they are indeed a good thing for those who have had enough of mascara, want to go on holiday and look fantastic without any fuss or for the people that just love a good long eyelash without having to wait for an eyelash serum to get to work.

Does Mascara Ruin Eyelashes?

As above, any foreign object applied to our eyelashes is going to eventually have a negative effect. But overall, mascara shouldn’t be damaging to eyelashes as long as it is applied and cleansed with care.

Waterproof mascara however is designed to stay put for long periods of time come rain or shine, so it definitely is harder to remove. The act of cleansing the eyelashes alone is enough to damage the eyelashes through rigorous rubbing so it is especially important to save waterproof mascara for those special occasions where it is needed.

The other problem with mascara is when it isn’t removed. And I know we are all guilty of doing this from one time or another, but we never want to admit it. Removing makeup at the end of the day is so important as it will clog those all-important pores and lead to break outs. When mascara is left on overnight it can cause more damage in the long term than you want to even think about. First, it cakes the lashes in a thick substance that prevents hydration and oxygen from getting in and second, when you sleep in mascara you may cause your lashes to bend in a certain way if you slum into your pillow after a hard day. The mascara will soften enough to contort and bend your eyelash in ways you can’t imagine, meaning they are more susceptible to falling out or breaking.

Use mascara wisely and carefully and cleanse each night before bed so that they don’t feel the unwanted damage going forward.

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Battle of the Eyelashes

I don’t know about you but when I have to part with my cash to buy something new I have to weigh up the pros and cons. Gone are my days of flippantly spending money on something that I don’t know will be good for me, I like to know how I will benefit from it first. So, take eyelashes for example, I would love to be able to get extensions without a second thought, but I have all these thoughts going round my head like “what if they don’t look good on me?” or “what if I regret spending the money?” and even “Will they damage my eyelashes?”

A lot of people would say “Well, you won’t know unless you try!” But I decided to look into all of my eyelash options before making a commitment: Eyelash extensions versus false lashes, mascara versus lash lift and natural eyelash growth remedies versus eyelash growth serums. There are so many choices these days that it helps to be clear on exactly what you want, how long you want if for and how much you are willing to pay for it.

Battle One: Eyelash Extensions Vs False Eyelashes

Eyelash extensions are becoming so much more popular these days, its like a miracle cure for those like me who are challenged in the growth and fullness department. The problem is unless you are a regular eyelash extension wearer, it’s hard to know what it involves and if it will work well for you. So, let’s start with the basics – What are eyelash extensions?

Well, they are simply eyelashes that are individually attached to your natural eyelashes with a specific glue adhesive. Because they aren’t clumped together or attached in one strip, they tend to look more natural than false eyelashes and can be applied in a bespoke fashion that has been customised just for you.

How long do they last? Well, if you get a set of eyelash extensions for the first time, you can expect them to last around 6-8 weeks if they have been taken care of properly, or otherwise they tend to just fall out with your natural lashes as part of the eyelash growth cycle. They can be “filled in” by a technician at any interval so in theory, you can always have eyelash extensions, it will just cost you a pretty penny and mean plenty of time in appointments each month.

And the question most people want reassurance on… Will eyelash extensions damage natural eyelashes? The answer is a bit of yes and no, but mostly no. At the end of the day, everything comes with a small amount of risk and eyelash extensions are no different. But over the short term for people who wear them for special occasions or holidays, there tends to be no real damage done to existing eyelashes. But for avid extension wearers, it is thought that it can cause permanent lash loss due to the added weight and pressure put on natural lashes and follicles. But it’s definitely more rare than it is common.

The issue is a lot of people walk into a lash extension appointment without knowing about aftercare, the same with tattoos or even hair appointments. With all of those things we all want to keep that first day freshly done look to our new modification, but we can only have that if we continue to care for them after leaving the salon/tattoo parlour. So, for eyelash extensions it is important that aftercare is taken into account for them to look great and last as long as you would expect. This usually includes not getting them wet for a certain amount of time, not using oil-based cleansers or products and being careful not to pull at or rub the eyelashes and extensions.

A lot of the time mascara isn’t recommended for eyelash extensions either, which I would say isn’t a problem when gaining extra lashes in length and fulness is the aim. But for many people, wearing mascara is so natural to them that even with extensions, the idea of stepping out with naked lashes is enough to turn them off the idea of eyelash extensions.

With the upkeep involved in eyelash extensions and the cost, it could be fair to say they might not win the battle between extensions and false lashes, but at this stage, it is still too early to make my mind up.

Let’s look at false lashes and see how their fair against the fabulous extension. So, false eyelashes have come a long way since the faux looking plastic numbers that we used to be able to buy at the nearest drug store for little money. In fact, as a concept, they can look really natural now and use synthetic fibres that match your natural eyelash colour. But the problem is they have to be applied with such care (and a steady hand) to get the natural effect and to look even on both eyes.

For someone who has only worn false eyelashes in the strip form for fancy events I can gladly admit that I had no idea what I was doing. Sure, you get better over time, but I tend not to wear them too often because of the hassle it involves applying them and remove them. That being said, I love the fact that I don’t need to wear them every day and can just save them for that special occasion when I have plenty of time to get ready and plenty of opportunity to flaunt them once they’re in place.

False eyelash strips are usually applied using tweezers or lash applicators and adhesive after being trimmed to size where needed. For them to look like they fit your eye, they need to actually fit your eye and having that band creep over the corners can really ruin what should be a great look. This is where individual or cluster false lashes come in, they can look really natural as placement can be specified based on where natural lashes are sparse or even just for that little extra dramatic effect.

And of course, we can’t forget about magnetic lashes. They are starting to take the world by storm and don’t really have any negatives apart from that they maybe feel less secure than false lashes and glue. But they are a great option for reusability and obviously their removal is pain free and shouldn’t result in any lash loss.

The glue on false lashes shouldn’t be so harsh that it causes lash loss but it can and does happen, and more often than not in my case, they end up coming a bit loose in one corner, revealing my lash secret to the world.

Extensions Vs False Lashes Round Up

• Cost – False Lashes win this one. But remember if you intend to wear them often, you may end up spending a bit more money and it could be worth going for extensions in the long run.

• Application – Extensions take this one easy. You just have to sit there and relax while your technician does the work. Beats battling the tweezers and getting frustrated applying your own.

• Lash Loss – For now eyelash extensions win this one. But that is based on how they are removed. If they naturally fall out with your eyelash growth cycle then this doesn’t count as unnatural lash loss. Falsies tend to take a few with them every time you remove them.

• Looking Natural – This is probably a close one, but extensions will always look a bit more natural, unless you are going to spend a lot of money and time on individual false lashes and have the steadiest of hands applying them.

Battle One Winner – Eyelash Extensions – Yeah I think I’ve made my mind up on this one. They are definitely worth a try, even just once and knowing that they won’t really do any harm means they should be worth the money once you see the full effect, especially if there is a big wedding, party or holiday coming up where other methods of eyelash growth aren’t immediately possible. For the impatient part of me, eyelash extensions would be the way to go.

Battle Two: Natural Eyelash Growth Remedies Vs Eyelash Growth Serum

Ok, so patience isn’t something we all possess, meaning false eyelashes or eyelash extensions are an easy go-to for immediate long and full lashes. But what about the more patient of us who want naturally long eyelashes and are willing to go the whole way to get them? Longer, thicker and fuller natural eyelashes don’t have to be a mythical rumour anymore as there are options to have them without trips to the salon or spending too much money.

But what is the best way to get them? Eyelash growth serums or natural remedies for eyelash growth? Let’s delve into the world of eyelash growth methods and see which will be the winner of battle two.

Starting with natural remedies, the list can be endless, so for the sake of making things easy I’ve picked a few that have been said to work for eyelash growth. Whether they are old wives’ tales or not is a different story. Plus, you have to always remember that what works for one person, may not necessarily work as well for others based on lifestyle, environment and existing eyelash health.

Thinking about your own eyelashes for a sec, you want to find something that will work for what you need, so for example, if your eyelashes are usually coated in mascara and have started to feel the effects of constant application and makeup removal, they probably need a boost in strength and shine, so fatty acids would be the way forward. If your eyelashes are thinning out through either ageing or illness, you would be looking for something to repair and stimulate the follicles for growth and not so much excess growth at this stage.

Castor oil is one such thing that is said to help in both departments. Ok, so it might not be something you would just have lying around but it could be worth the purchase if you want to go the natural route. Containing Ricinoleic acid it is thought to stimulate growth of the eyelashes and help with potential loss of lashes too. Scientific evidence to back this up is thin to say the least however, but while it contains fatty acids in Omega-6 and Omega-9, it can’t hurt to give your lashes a boost in health, shine and strength, even if growth is not the main thing you would get from it.

Coconut oil is also said to have a positive effect on eyelashes as it can deeply penetrate the hair protein and follicles, which means added strength and shine for existing lashes. This in turn can mean they will break less and see their growth to full potential. As for additional growth? This one is still out for decision. But coconut oil is such a versatile product that adding it to food, using it as a moisturiser or on hair or eyelashes will always make you feel and look better, even if it doesn’t make your eyelashes grow faster.

Ok, so now for eyelash growth serums. How do they fair up against these natural remedies? Well, the difference is that eyelash growth serums have been formulated to target the specific proteins in eyelashes and skin types around the eyes, making them useful for what they are supposed to do.

For example, Biotin is a key ingredient in a lot of eyelash growth serums which is a known source of B Vitamins which help strengthen the lashes and promote keratin, the hair’s natural protein. They can also contain fatty oils, botanical extracts and aloe or olive oils that ensure the skin around the eyes is protected while serums are being used.

The benefit of an eyelash serum is that they usually don’t require too much use, and usually one daily dose after cleansing the eyelashes at night is all your lashes need to feel the boost. They also come in a handy mascara sized tube with a small wand applicator that is easy to use and can fit neatly into your makeup kit, rather than a whole jar of coconut oil that is commonly applied with a small cotton bud – not so convenient.

Also when it comes to eyelash growth serums, they usually come with a timescale or guarantee so you know exactly what you’re aiming toward, all you need is a little patience, but most eyelash serums will promise results within 3-4 weeks.

What people don’t realise though is that even with an eyelash serum, care has to be taken at all times with the eyelashes for it to do its job properly. There is no point applying it if you are prone to leaving eyeliner or mascara on longer than you should and if you don’t have a proper cleansing routine. It is also important not to rub the eyelashes or even wear false eyelashes every day which can inhibit growth or cause premature lash loss. What you can do though, is use eyelash growth serums like The Xlash Eyelash Serum for example, with eyelash extensions. Safe to use with adhesives and works on penetrating the follicle and existing natural lashes while you sport a lengthy pair in waiting for your natural ones to grow longer.

Natural Eyelash Growth Remedies Vs Eyelash Growth Serum Round Up

• Cost – Natural remedies win this one, you don’t have to pay much for coconut oil or castor oil, but you won’t have the specifically targeted ingredients of an eyelash serum.

• Application – Eyelash serum takes this one home, as it is conveniently packaged with a wand explicitly designed for applying to your eyelashes. A cotton bud can be too big and clumpy to aim right into the corners between lashes.

• Lash Loss – They will both fair quite equally here as long as used correctly and you don’t rub your eyelashes or use harsh cleansers. Whether natural or a serum, the aim is lash growth not loss, so this should never be a problem.

• Lash growth – Eyelash serums are designed to make eyelashes grow longer, faster and stronger as well as making existing lashes and follicles healthier so they last for extended periods of time. Results can of course vary, but the eyelash serums we see today have shown great results on real people that make it an exciting thing to try out.

Battle Two Winner – Eyelash Growth Serums – I’ve been on and off the fence with this battle, but it really does come down to wanting better eyelashes and finding a way for them to finally be great without enhancements such as false eyelashes or extensions, and eyelash serums are the way to do that whilst thinking about convenience too. It is really exciting to wait for the results and not only see longer lashes but feel how strong they are too.

The choice is always yours to make, but hopefully with a bit more insight and a few more things to consider, the battle of the eyelashes will always come down to longer lashes always being a winner.

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Lip Care: The Solutions to All of your Problems

Every year the seasons come and go, sometimes gliding by smoothly so that we don’t even see the transition, and other times it’s warm and sunny one day and cold and wintery the next. Whether you’re a summer or a winter person, one thing we all have in common is that our lips feel the change in seasons and don’t take too well to those overnight changes in weather.

Of course, it isn’t just weather that has a negative effect on our lips, there are too many factors to count that cause lips to dry out, chap or feel sore. But the important thing is seeing the signs, knowing what to avoid and what to do to prepare your lips for all situations so that they will always look and feel amazing.

So, think about a time when your lips felt really bad. Were they sore? Did they look like they were peeling or have dead skin? Or perhaps they were off colour? There is more than one way the lips can look and feel bad and each problem has a cause and a solution. Let’s delve into the world of lips and guide you through the problems and solutions and the all-important transformation to amazing lips.

Sore Lips: The Problem

Lips generally go through a lot each day. From talking to eating, makeup applications and cleansing as well as exposure to the elements outside and dry air inside. It is no surprise that they will feel sore from time to time, but when it becomes a recurring issue it can mean there may be underlying health issues or simply a lack of proper lip health care.

Other problems that cause dry and sore lips is licking them. We have all done it, and we all wish we hadn’t! But when they are already feeling a little on the dry side from lack of hydration, the most tempting thing to do can be to lick them. It’s almost a subconscious reaction and our brain tells us that it will provide instant relief, so when we do this we rarely think about how it will actually make them feel later. All this actually does is make them drier and feel much sorer especially if we haven’t got any balm or water to hand.

Dry and sore lips can be very painful and unfortunately quite noticeable. In yourself, you won’t be able to do normal things like eat, drink or talk without feeling uncomfortable, and in others, they may be able to see how chapped or inflamed your lips are. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything about it…

Sore Lips: The Solution

Just like the rest of our bodies when we have had a little too much over exposure to those bad things in life, our lips sometimes need a little TLC to get them feeling like their normal selves again. So, if you have dry and sore lips, don’t worry too much, there is always something you can do.
If your lips are sore from being outside in the cold so much, say during those long winter months where going outside is unavoidable the best cure is really prevention. So, preparing your lips will be the easy way to avoid the discomfort later. Moisturising lip balms are the way to go and they can do a lot more than just make your lips look shiny. But of course, they have to be applied regularly for lips to feel the benefit and not go through periods of inconsistent care.

Another popular choice for lips especially in winter is petroleum jelly or Vaseline as one of the more popular brands. The reason this stuff is so good is that it adds layers of protection while locking moisture in so it can penetrate deep into the skin providing hydration for longer periods of time. This is always a good choice for those who need convenience and great looking lips in one handy little pot.

In summer, exposure to the sun can cause more than just sore lips, did you know they can get sun burn even more easier than the skin on the rest of your body? And the damage can be lasting rather than fleeting unfortunately. Many of us are guilty of neglecting our lips when it comes to sun protection as it seems a weird place to go slapping on sun cream. But the option here is to buy a UV protection balm formulated especially for lips and to keep reapplying it while out on a hot sunny day. Especially after swimming, eating or drinking! This is important to prevent sun burnt lips and the agony that comes along with it later.

But if you do find yourself battling sunburned lips then you need to know what to do to heal them properly or you could end up making the problem worse. When lips have sun damage, they are likely to be swollen and inflamed as well as sore, so the priority is to reduce the swelling and stop them from burning. A cold compress such as a soft flannel and cool water will help immediate sun burn. But just lay it on the lips lightly and change the water as needed. Don’t try to rub the cloth into the skin as this will only irritate them more. Aloe Vera is also another great problems solver when it comes to inflammation. Along with its antioxidant properties it is a great way to soothe sore and sunburned lips. Having a plant or a little pot handy is the best option or go for a lip balm with natural Aloe Vera in it.

Hydration is always the key to repairing dry lips, whether it is from the sun or the cold, wintery winds, water is really one of the best medicines out there. And this doesn’t just mean applying a rich, hydrating balm, this means drinking plenty of the good stuff throughout the day. Not only a thirst quencher, water is the one thing that should pass the lips regularly when they are sore and dry. Avoid caffeine and alcohol and salty foods when you are trying to repair those lovely smackers, as it will just prolong the dryness and make them feel worse for a lot longer before they start to get better.
Having sore lips is annoying but keeping them in a state of dryness is going to be even worse in the long run. So always remember to carry a good balm or petroleum jelly out with you, apply a sun screening balm each day, drink plenty of water and never lick your lips. You will be well on your way to having a great set of lips if you can stick to these basic rules.

Cleansing Lips: The Problem

Like the rest of our face, lips need a good clean too on a regular basis. But the problem is improper cleansing routines can lead to lacklustre lips or even flaky and chapped lips. See, cleansing lips doesn’t just stop at them being clean, it should be a whole routine that allows them to look and feel the best they can at all times.

Lip cleansing problems can include using harsh products to remove makeup that can ruin the outer layers of skin, scrubbing to vigorously leading to sore and raw lips, not cleansing at all… well this will never end well, and not adding moisture back into the lips once they have been cleansed.

This problem is easily solved with a few steps in proper lip care that can take seconds or minutes of your time and new cleansing routines that will help to boost the colour and quality of your lips. This doesn’t mean spending a hefty amount of money on products either, just a little time and patience.

Cleansing Lips: The Solution

So, if you’re reading this then you probably want to know where you are going wrong with your cleansing routine and how to do something about it. If you’re a soap and water gal, you probably notice that your lips feel clean but often quite dry and have no sparkle. If you love wearing lip balm or petroleum jelly, but rarely take the time to cleanse your lips you probably find your lips are quite soft, but you can’t skip an application as they seem to just dry out instantly.

Lips balms are great, don’t get me wrong, but it is not the solution to cleansing, and you shouldn’t have to rely on 50 applications each day just to get by. So, let’s start with the cleaning part. Makeup removal is crucial before you get down to business specially to remove those stubborn bits of lipstick and to start with a clean slate. Then you want to make sure the rest of your face is clean and clear with a water-based cleanser that also removes grime and dirt from the skin around your mouth (yes, this sounds gross, but with all the foods and liquids passing by, the skin will happily collect it all!)

The next step is to exfoliate your lips, which may seem contradicting seeing as you are supposed to be kind and gentle to them, but it is really important to do this once or twice a week – any more than this will be damaging to the skin – and to put lip exfoliation high up on your list of priorities for lip care. The way to do this is easy; use a cotton flannel and some warm water and gently rub in circular motions around the top and bottom lips. This helps to remove dead skin as well as stimulating the blood vessels to promote cell growth and an all-round healthy glow.

Making the lips feel soft is a great thing, but knowing they look soft is such an added bonus. Especially as the cold weather hits, so add exfoliation to your cleansing routine and you’ll soon have lips of envy.

Lip Balms: The Problem

Lip balms generally shouldn’t cause any problems, but this doesn’t mean that all lip balms are good for lips unfortunately. We all know our own bodies better than anyone else so when it comes to things like this I always say to buy it yourself or as recommended from a trusted source. I’m sure many of us have been there where you receive a lovely Christmas or birthday gift with flavoured or scented lip balms that have fancy packaging and smell fantastic!

But the problem is that usually these are the ones that are more for show and less about lip care. So, when you feel tempted to use them, you might find that they aren’t really doing anything for your lips, or that they have a very tempting taste causing you to lick your lips. This is where the problems can start.

The other issue with lip balms is that there are so many of them and it can be hard to know which one to use to do the job you want it to. Hydration and moisture are always the key here, but if you have damaged lips then these types of balms may not be strong enough to help repair them with just everyday use. But as with everything in this world, where there is a problem, there is always a solution…

Lip Balms: The Solution

So, enough with the fancy flavoured lips balms for a bit, lets get down to business and find a good solution for lip repair. A great thing to look for in a lip balm is oil from natural sources such as soybean or coconut that do wonders for repairing damage and soothing the lips.

Hyaluronic acid is also a good ingredient for boosting cell growth and repair which can help to fill in those gaps and wrinkles that may have started to appear from long term dryness and damage. A great product for damage control and treatment should be something you don’t have to apply so many times a day to feel the benefits and one of those is Xlips EGF Intensive Care Lip Balm. This one works quickly and only requires a daily application after cleansing or before bedtime so that your lips get the benefits of it while you are resting, and your lips are not active.

This intensive care lip balm is great for enhanced lips too as it provides hydration while it repairs and isn’t sticky, so you won’t wake up with it all over your pillow. The key thing is it is free or artificial flavours and scents or additives that become tempting to lick or have dehydrating properties.

Lips are wonderful things, and if we just took a little time out each day to look out for them, they will repay us with their beautifully smooth texture, bright hue and shininess in the long run.

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Mystical Makeup Ideas

It’s that time of year again where we need to start thinking about a new costume for Halloween! Or if you are like me, you’ve had it planned out since last November. I always tend to go with the current vibe with my costume and makeup on Halloween. Sometimes, it can be really cold and fresh and there will be an air of spookiness that calls for some scary makeup and costumes; other times you can’t escape the smell of pumpkins and the warmth of a spiced latte, which is where I pull out the cute Halloween dresses, pumpkin boppers and a pair of really warm tights.

This year is a lot different to previous years and for a lot of us, we don’t even know if Halloween is still on! But even though we may not be able to party like we used to, October 31st is always the perfect excuse to get creative with our makeup. So, even if your Halloween consists of you, your closest friend and a bottle of wine this year, if you really want to feel the part, you have to look the part!

Glittery Treats

When you think of mystical makeup, you can’t deny that glitter is always going to be a big part of it. Glitter can be one of the most frustrating makeup accessories – don’t even get me started, months down the line, you will still find it in places you never knew existed – but it will always look brilliant as an addition to any Halloween inspired makeup.

With the mystical theme in mind, when using glitter, I say keep it coming! The greatest thing about modern developments in makeup means that using glitter to accessorise your Halloween makeup is even easier and there are much wider choices today than there were 20 years ago when the only time you would think about using glitter was on a school craft project, much to the distain of your parents!

These days cosmetic glitter is everywhere, you can grab some from your local makeup store or online for a decent price and usually in different colours, sizes and shapes. For a mystical Halloween, try and grab some fine glitter dust in a deep turquoise or bright violet as well as some fine translucent or silver fine glitter and then finish off with some chunky glitter pieces in purples and blues and even a little black thrown in there for good measure.

To apply your glitter, you can use a number of sticky products that will help the glitter stay put on your skin; my personal favourite is petroleum jelly. It holds the glitter in place really well, doesn’t slide down your skin and leaves your skin feeling super soft afterward, so it’s a win-win. The downside is if you get too hot, it can melt and liquify causing your artistic glitter masterpiece to shift.For a downplayed Halloween makeup look, try adding some shimmery glitter to your upper lid to add highlights and then a couple of chunky pieces of purple and silver glitter to the outer corners of your eyes. To turn the mystical look up a few notches, work the shimmer out toward your temples, up to the corners of your hairline and down to the outline of your cheekbones. Add chunky glitter sporadically or create a more contoured vibe with stark shapes and patterns, using light glitter or highlight to emphasise.

Purple Sorcery

There is nothing more mystical than the colour purple. Often associated with magic and sorcery, it is the perfect colour to add to your palette this time of year to add an element of mystery to your makeup.

I love a bold purple eye with plenty of shimmer and just as much deep shadow to create the ultimate smoky effect. For darker eyes, keep colours a touch brighter with highlight toward the inner corners and main body of the upper eyelid, and for lighter eyes, experiment with different purples and silvers to bring out the flecks of blues and greens in the eyes. Finish the eye with dark purple and black shadow to the creases of the eyelid and lift the shape up by sweeping toward the outer corners of the eyebrows, blending carefully so it doesn’t look too blocky. Don’t forget to join a solid line of colour underneath the eye for that smoky eye look. Again, blend this carefully to create the beginnings of a purrfect cat’s eye.

Dazzling Black Eyeliner

Black eyeliner is a classic and a definite staple in anyone’s makeup kit, whether its kohl, gel or liquid, it is a must have for almost all of us. So, how do we make black eyeliner play along with the mystical makeup theme this Halloween? Well, it’s simple really, it just means getting a little bit more playful and creative and adding a touch of dazzling colour to really make those eyes pop.

The classic cat’s eye is the aim here, but with a little more emphasis to for a dazzling take on it. Start by using a liquid pen eyeliner or a steady hand and a gel brush to outline your desired shape over the top eyelid. I prefer to start by drawing on the shorter part of the point from the outer edge of the eye up toward the brow bone. The reason this is better to do first sometimes is that the line you draw here wants to be a continuation of the bottom water line in order to create a fluid cat’s eye that gives the impression that your eyes are longer and more upturned. It also shows you just where you need your top line to finish in order for it all to connect properly.

Once you are happy with where your outer line goes, for the top line, instead of starting from the inner corners or the eyes, start from a few millimetres past the centre of the eyelid and draw your line outward, curving around the edge of the eye and up toward the end of your brow to meet the other line you have already drawn in. This stops your eyeliner from looking too blocky, especially if you have larger or more protruding eyelids.

Fill in the blank space with your eyeliner of choice – for a crisp look I love to use Xlash Carbon Black Pen Eyeliner as it is super sharp, especially pigmented and it lasts all day and night. But for softer looks, kohl is a great choice at it is easily smudgeable for that extra smoky effect.
What you should end up with is a different take on the cat’s eye that compliments your already applied purple eyeshadow and adds a new dimension to your eyes by lifting their shape and adding that all important air of mystery this Halloween.

Exaggerated Eyelashes

No mystical makeup look would be complete without eyelashes. And if you want to be extra this year then false lashes are the way to go, after all when you have put so much effort into the eyes thus far, you might as well go the whole way with big and bold eyelashes. Even if you are understating your Halloween makeup this year, you can always make your eyes the main focus and downplay the rest of your face with a clean foundation look and minimal lipstick.

Now the thing is false eyelashes come in so many different shapes and sizes, it can be hard to know which one will work best for a mystical treat and specially to suit the makeup styles above. The obvious choice would be to go for a set of false eyelashes that have extra outward length and curl to exaggerate the cat eye that you will have created. But, if you do opt for this set, go easy on the curl and look more at the thickness and length of the lashes as layering is a better option and having the lengths look more uneven and even a bit messy will help them look more natural and will flatter the cat eye shape by not leaving it to look too sharp.

I also love full but wispy false eyelashes that have more body to the centre of the eye. Not too much if you are going for the mystical makeup look above, but enough so that it creates the illusion of a bigger eye and looks just a little bit more playful. Think lashes that reach up toward the eyebrow from the centre and not just the outer corners and you’ve got this look down.

Just be extra careful applying them and even more careful removing them at the end of the day, remembering to cleanse the makeup and adhesive off and moisturising your eyelids and eyelashes with an eyelash serum or some coconut oil before going to bed. Your eyelashes will thank you for this, trust me!

Mystical Lipstick

Halloween is not just for eyes, and although it’s easy for them to want to steal the limelight, lips are always in need of a chance to shine at this time of year too! On a normal day, coordinating colours based on what flatters, where you are going and what colours suite you is all that comes into consideration. But this is Halloween, so let all of your normal rules go out the window and show the world your true mystical self.

Where do we start with mystical lipstick? Well, the darker and fuller the better! I tend not to mix too many different textures all it can complicate the fluidity of the overall look. But in keeping with your purple and black eyes, reaching for purple and black lipstick is a good way to go. To go full mystical, line the lips black and fill in with solid black colour, emphasising your cupid’s bow by slightly overlining the lips. Add some coconut oil or petroleum jelly and brush in some glitter – all over for a starry night vibe, or just toward the centre to add volume to smaller lips.

If all over black lipstick is too much, then start with a deep purple and go for a two-tone look by blending black lipstick toward the corners. Contoured lips will help make the lips look fuller and it will hugely compliment the shapes and tones you have created on the eyes. For an even more daring lipstick look that would push your mystical makeup from Halloween daytime to Halloween party time, keep the two-tone thing in mind but go for a gradient. Starting with purple over to the left side of your lips and blending carefully into black on the right-hand side. This one is a bit trickier to get the lip lining and blending right but it will certainly pay off once the look is finished. Add small flecks of glitter to the black side for a heavy contrast and a makeup look that will dazzle the socks off your friends. Voila! Enjoy your mystical Halloween!

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Eyelashes for Beginners


Whether you raided your big sister’s makeup kit at a young age or have only just entered the world of eyelashes, there is always a lot to learn in how to take care of your lashes and make them stand out at the same time.

Eyelashes are something we all take for granted in some way. We don’t really realise they are there or serve a purpose until one of them falls into your eye and you end up ruining your freshly applied eye makeup in a bid to get it out. But why do they fall out? Is it normal? Can we do something to stop it? How fast do they grow back and how should we be taking care of them? Many questions may arise if you are now entering your own eyelash world and want to make the most of them without them just being a nuisance by falling into your eye!
What Purpose do Eyelashes Have?

Let’s take this back to basics and find out why we have eyelashes. They grow in a few small layers over the top of the eye on the eyelid and in a thinner layer of more delicate lashes on the bottom lid. They frame the eyes and they come in different shapes, lengths and colours. But why do we have them? Well, they are there to protect our eyes from debris – which is kind of ironic seeing as they can’t protect our eyes from themselves when they fall into them! But think about them sort of like the whiskers on a cat, their sensitivity alerts a reflex that tells them something is near, like a warning. They also help to divert air flow from the eye, by curling away from the eyeball, a set of eyelashes act as a barrier of protection to stop the eyes from drying out completely. They serve a lot more purpose than most of us would think.

Eyelashes are considered a sign of beauty in many cultures and so it is quite common for them to be made up in some way, especially to lengthen them or make them look darker. In Ancient Egypt it was commonly worn by men as well as women. Darker, made up eyelashes signified wealth and status, but also helped add more protection to the upper row of eyelashes to stop the harmful rays of the hot sun from getting in the eyes.

Throughout the ages, eyelashes have always prevailed as a facial feature and even more so today than ever, we have the ability to change them, grow them, tint them and extend them, so it makes for an easier fix than the rest of our features if we want to enhance them.

WHAT IS THE EYELASH GROWTH CYCLE?

Like every hair on our body, eyelashes have a cycle that starts with the formation of a follicle, the growth of the individual lashserum and the eventual shedding, returning to the start once again. This can change slightly as we get older and follicles become less stable and hair gets thinner, but the eyelash growth cycle will always repeat itself without you even really knowing.

Every person has approximately 150 eyelashes on their upper lids, sometimes 200, and between 75 and 100 on the bottom eyelid. They are never all in the same phase of the growth cycle at one time which means there is a constant flow of growth and you are never without eyelashes at one time. Of course, some may sit in the same part of the cycle at once which is why you may notice from time to time that more fall out at once, but don’t worry, this isn’t a cause for concern, unless you were to notice this all the time in which case it may be due to an underlying medical condition. Hormones, metabolism and diet can also be factors in why your eyelashes don’t grow as fast, shed often or even the opposite! You may notice growth spurts due to positive factors in your life, in which case, take note and keep it up to enjoy longer, fuller eyelashes.

The first stage of the eyelash growth cycle is the Anagen phase. This phase usually lasts between 30 and 45 days and is where the lash is in its most active stage of growth while still attached to the follicle.

The second stage is the Catagen phase which is also known as the transitional phase and it lasts around 2-3 weeks. This is where the eyelash stops growing and the follicle begins to shrink, preparing your eyelash for the next phase. Eyelashes can still fall out in this stage, but the follicle must complete the cycle before the new eyelash can start to grow in.

The third stage is called the Telogen phase or the resting phase. This can last up to 90 days but sometimes less. The follicle has desiccated, and the eyelash is ready to fall out. The new anagen phase is beginning underneath the surface and is ready to produce a new eyelash.

All in all, the eyelash growth cycle can last a couple of months but is always in motion, so you don’t have to worry about losing eyelashes from time to time.

WHAT CAN AFFECT EYELASH GROWTH?

There are many things that can affect how your eyelashes grow, from diet and nutrition to cleansing habits and wearing makeup. Illnesses can inhibit growth or cause eyelashes to fall out too as well as stress but the one thing that causes eyelashes to either not reach their full potential or to fall our prematurely can be a vitamin deficiency.

We’ve all been told to get our vitamin and mineral intake right and I suppose we all assume it is for our bodily health, the last thing you would think of is eyelash health, but it is all affected. Foods that are rich in fatty acids and anti-inflammatory properties are great for eyelashes as they provide the nutrients they need to grow strong and long and eliminate the prospect of early breakage or falling out. Things like Salmon or spinach that help carry oxygen to the hair follicles are great for overall bodily health including eyelashes.

Vitamins are important too, like Vitamin B, which prevents shedding and brittle lashes and Vitamin C which spurs along collagen production and assists with damage repair. So, think of things like peanuts or mushrooms and vegetables or berries that have antioxidant properties.

There are a multitude of variables that can affect eyelash growth, and vitamin intake is just one of them. Things like smoking and eating salty foods or drinking drinks high in sugar can all affect eyelash growth as well as one key element: not drinking enough water. Hydration is crucial when it comes to all health aspects; think about how dry hair can get, or skin and lips. Water is the most important ingredient to keep every part of your body as healthy as possible.

IS MAKEUP BAD FOR EYELASHES?

Yes and no is the answer to that question. Yes, in that it coats the eyelashes for long periods of time in makeup ingredients that can have lasting effects, and No, in that there are so many healthier options available these days, and as long as you remove it properly at the end of each day there shouldn’t be any long-term damage. Think about your own eyelashes and how often you wear mascara; If you are a big fan of makeup and wear it daily to a full extent, you may have noticed your eyelashes aren’t what they used to be. They may be thinner or more brittle or even seem to have less growing at one time. But if you are a ritual cleanser, you may have escaped the damaged eyelash phase and sport a lovely full set.

They say everything is ok in moderation, but how much makeup is ok? I don’t know if anyone has got the balance exactly right without the need for enhancements, but it is possible. If mascara is your enhancement of choice then just be sure to remove it every day before going to sleep and if extensions are your weapon of choice then try to have a break from them when they are not needed so that your natural eyelashes have a good chance to breathe and grow without the weight of extensions pulling them down.

HOW SHOULD WE CLEANSE EYELASHES?

Removing makeup at the end of the day is so important, and so many people don’t realise how much. When it comes to the skin, leaving makeup on can cause excess oils as well as dirt and debris from makeup to clog pores and cause infections or breakouts. It is so important to remove makeup on eyelashes too. Not only can infections or irritation occur but it can start to make the eyelashes look less than desirable or fall out prematurely.

When it comes to cleansing makeup, a lot of people think a cleanser is good enough, but what needs to happen is the makeup being removed first. A makeup remover does just that: takes the makeup away from the skin. But it doesn’t mean the skin is cleansed of all dirt and particles that can cause damage. The same goes for eyelashes to an extent and especially the skin around them.

Remove mascara and eyeliner with a good remover that is kind and gently to your eyes, and then finish off with a water-based facial cleanser to keep the area clean and clear. Micellar water is really good for this as it attracts the particles to the product and away from your face.

When cleansing be sure to move in one direction away from the eyelashes and don’t rely on harsh or abrasive rubbing to do it. If you need to repeat the process, it is better than rubbing the eyelashes over and over as this can cause eyelash loss and damage to the skin around your eyelids.

Cleansing makeup may seem like a chore, but it is definitely better than having to worry about eyelash health over the long-term.

HOW CAN WE ENHANCE OUR EYELASHES?

The one question on many minds is how can we make our eyelashes grow faster? Or how can we make them look longer? The good news is there are many options these days that help everyone out in some way. We have mascara, we have false eyelashes, extensions and lash lifts. Each one suits someone more than the other, due to price, convenience or comfort.

So, let’s start with mascara. You can get a whole range of different mascaras that promise to do different things: Volumize, lengthen, separate, you name it, there is a mascara for it. But they don’t always do what you want them to do depending on what you already have (which is where eyelash health care comes into it to make sure you have the best options). Volumizing mascara can only create volume where there are plenty of eyelashes, otherwise it just clumps and looks unnatural and thick. Lengthening mascara will look good were there are plenty of eyelashes but shorter in length.

A great option is an eyelash growth serum. While it takes a little more patience than mascara, it has lasting effects that are natural and less harmful to your eyelashes. Xlash have a great product (Xlash Eyelash Serum) that can be applied daily to the top row of eyelashes for stimulated growth within 3-4 weeks. The best part about eyelash growth serums is that they enhance your eyelashes naturally and don’t require extra appointments or expenditure trying to keep the new, full and long set of lashes that you desire. As far as eyelash enhancement goes, and eyelash growth serum could be the answer.

Eyelash extensions are of course amazing too. But they do require upkeep and maintenance to ensure they still look natural and full. If you are going on holiday and want to compete with the accompanying heat without lashings of mascara, eyelash extensions may be the way forward.

Lash lifts are relatively new on the eyelash scene and involve a technique similar to a perm for the hair. An eyelash lift lasts around eight weeks and really emphasise the curl and shape of your natural eyelashes, which if they are straighter than you would like but have existing volume, is a really clever option.

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5 Beauty Products You Can’t Live Without

It can be so hard to keep up with new beauty products and what could be just a passing trend and what should be a staple in your life. Afterall, we all have different tastes, opinions and styles. But above all that no two faces are the same in terms of skin, eyelashes or lips, so it can be difficult to navigate the world of cleansers, moisturisers and makeup. What suits one person may not look great on someone else, or it may have a negative effect on their skin.

For some, a simple cleansing water and light moisturiser may be all that is in their beauty kit, for others it could feature an array of creams, hydrating toners, primers on top of makeup and makeup removers. So, wouldn’t it be easy if there were just a few things that you knew you would benefit you in some way so you could build your own kit and expand on it where you see fit. When you find something that changes the way your face feels and looks, you’ll start to wonder how you ever lived without it.

Well, I have been through so many different products in recent years and I’d say there are only a few that really stick out for me. I have combination to oily skin so that requires some serious care, I travel a lot so different changes in climate have a massive effect on my hair, skin and lips and I, like the rest of us, am not getting any younger, so there are products that just don’t cut the mustard like they used to as my skin ages and my eyelashes and eyebrows start to feel the effects of life. It doesn’t mean that these products will be exactly right for you, but they always serve me well and I never leave home (or the country!) without them.

1. Oil-free Moisturiser

I’ve always had a battle between oily and dry skin and have envied those who go about their daily business with nothing more than a fresh sheen to their cheeks, but I’ve got what I’ve got and it’s up to me to manage it. The issue is how to combat the dry areas without adding excess moisture to the oily ones. It was always a balancing act that required patience and a lot of trips to the bathroom to powder my nose.

But these days there are countless options for women like me who produce extra progesterone – usually due to contraception and hormonal imbalances – and have to deal with shining like a light bulb straight after applying a fresh coat of makeup. It’s frustrating, so I’m very thankful that there are products out there for us.

I always thought that having oily skin meant that adding moisturiser to the mix would just make matters worse and I avoided it for a long time. But then age caught up on me and I realised I needed to do something about these pesky little lines that were starting to appear around my eyes and mouth. Like a lot of others with seriously combination skin, I suffer with an oily T-zone and dryness around the mouth, eyebrows and under the eyes. Luckily, information on offer from dermatologists suggested that moisturiser is not only a good idea but imperative for people with oily skin. I was intrigued.

So, how does this work? Adding moisture to moisture doesn’t equal double moisture? Well, what people like me tend not to account for is that due to the excess oil, we tend to cleanse more, which actually rids the skin of beneficial oils and protective barriers around the skin. So, the good moisture disappears and the bad moisture (oil and sebum) jumps right in its place.

I started with a light oil free moisturiser after cleansing and before bed and felt a dewy glow that I was sure was going to make me end up looking like a greasy fry up by the morning. It actually didn’t. My skin felt shiny sure, but very even. After a few weeks of use, the dryness disappeared from those problematic areas and my sheen looked positive and not dirty or sweaty as I always thought previously. These days, I swear by oil-free moisturisers for my combination skin and once it was incorporated with my beauty routine, I didn’t look back. I tend to cleanse with water and a hydrating facial cleanser and leave my face and neck to completely dry before applying moisturiser. Then let it completely soak in before applying any primers or makeup. Definitely can’t live without it now! But just in case, I always carry blotting papers in my bag with me – yes, I know that’s another product I can’t live without, but at least now I’m not too nervous when I do leave the house without them!

2. Colour Correcting Primer

Primer has been a godsend to many over recent years. It has evolved and extended its purpose for so long now, there’s no doubt it’s a product I cannot live without as I expect many others will agree. Where has the good stuff been hiding all my life? Well, truthfully it has been there in many forms, I just haven’t seen it as I was too busy panicking about my oily skin for too long to want to put any more products on it and make the problem worse.

But still so many people don’t worry about primer and see it as an unnecessary addition to their makeup kit. So, how good is it? Well, in so many ways, the small amount of product in a tiny bottle can make all the difference to your skin tone, your makeup application and how long it stays there.

These days you can get your hands on illuminating primer, colour correcting primer, mattifying primer, long-wearing primer and even pore-minimising primer. There are even primers for different parts of your face. Eye primer tends to really give grip to the extra layer and helps makeup stay firmly in place, all while being super gentle to the skin around your eyes. A good skin primer does both sure, but it can help dramatically change the appearance of makeup on your face too.

I do like a mattifying primer for obvious reasons, but sometimes it can really dry out my face in unwanted places and cause makeup to look a bit cakey so I tend to let my oil-free moisturiser take care of my skin texture and use a colour correcting primer to help even out my skin tone. It would be amazing to lie and say that my skin tone is the same across the board, but in reality, no one has the exact same tones across their face. Colour correcting primer goes beyond this though, they have a tint to them that covers discolorations, red patches or dark patches around the eyes. It doesn’t do the same job concealer does, but it definitely passes for looking natural.

I love colour correcting primer and it is one product I can’t live without as it means I can leave the house with the confidence of wearing makeup even when I haven’t bothered to go through the whole rigmarole of applying it.

3. Eyelash Serum

How good is this product! I never knew about eyelash serum until a couple of years ago. After years of abusing my eyelashes with falsies, bottles of mascara and plenty of eyelash curling to boot, my own eyelashes left something to be desired. When I was young I always had really full and long eyelashes, but I guess time and life got in the way and I just took them for granted. Granted, I’m not exactly old, but you definitely do see the difference in the little things after a few years if you look hard enough.

Well, I looked deeply at my eyelashes and decided there I had to do something about them. There were many options of course, eyelash extensions or a lash lift or even just carry on with my lengthening mascara as normal and fake it through life. But I wanted to do some good to them and feel my own original eyelashes as they once were. So, when I looked into and eyelash serum that also doubles up as an eyelash growth serum, I wondered if it was too good to be true. Was it?

Definitely not. As I said, if you pay attention to the little things, you will start to notice a difference, so once I started paying attention to my lashes I then couldn’t get enough of watching them improve. They felt better, they were stronger, and they looked amazing. Now an eyelash growth serum can’t work miracles overnight, but it can do its bit to help your eyelashes grow faster, stronger and longer as long as you do you bit to help too.

This means cleansing your eyelashes every day and making sure all traces of makeup are gone, doing this as gently as possible with a tough but forgiving cleanser, and not overdoing it with adhesives for false eyelashes. I tried out an eyelash serum by Xlash and was so happy with the results after three weeks that it became a normal part of my beauty routine: cleanse, let dry, apply Xlash Eyelash Serum and go to bed. Simple!

The best part is they don’t fall out like they used to before. I’m leaving them alone and letting the eyelash serum do its thing. Even if you are an avid wearer of eyelash extensions, this stuff is really good for the strength of your follicles and natural eyelashes, which in turn should make your extensions last even longer. This is one beauty product I won’t live without now.

4. Trusty Mascara

Ok, so I know I said I was going to give my eyelashes a bit of a break from the hardships of wearing makeup all the time, but mascara is a girl’s best friend in my opinion. When you have dark eyes, eyebrows and hair, it can be difficult to make your eyes pop without a little help. Yes, I realise people may say that having all those dark features may add to the mystery of the person, but personally, I feel very plain without makeup and like to feel the confidence of knowing I’ve made my eyes a prominent feature.

Mascara does this job perfectly, especially for me anyway. I have large almond shaped eyes that can look a bit downturned on certain days but are easy to bring upward with some clever eyeliner, giving them a great cat-eye shape. But doing this every day isn’t the most convenient, especially when I’m travelling all the time and dealing with extreme temperatures. Sometimes you only get five minutes to be up and ready and a girl has to pick her battles. I chose mascara as my weapon most days as it doesn’t take too long to apply, and you get that pop of jet black to really highlight the eyes. I find the darker I go with mascara, the lighter it makes my eyes look which is a huge bonus for me.

But yes, I do take my eyelash care seriously and now that I’m using my eyelash serum and having breaks from things like mascara and false eyelashes from time to time, I really appreciate the stuff when it comes to applying it. We all have our own methods; I usually go for a volumizing mascara to work on their fullness as opposed to length as the serum is already sorting that out for me. I apply one coat and draw the wand outward and upward to create that ever desirable cat eye shape even without eyeliner and hen go back for a second coat before it has completely dried or it ends up looking quite clumpy.

At the end of each day I use my makeup remover to get rid of all the product and sometimes use a bit of coconut oil to finish the job and leave eyelashes feeling smooth. (But we will get onto coconut oil later!) Then its eyelash serum time and I can happily say my lashes have served me well by the end of the day.

5. Coconut Oil

When people go on about the products they love, it can be hard to relate sometimes. Especially if a) your budget doesn’t allow for fancy products and b) your skin-type, routine or preference doesn’t allow for them to become part of your own. But this is why I saved coconut oil until last. It is accessible to almost anyone, works well in different ways for everyone and is not going to cost you a fortune.

I love coconut oil for many reasons, and I’d love to share them with you. First of all, organic coconut oil is the way to go if you are going to commit to this as a beauty product. The whole point of it is that is it natural and isn’t going to harm your skin with various additives and chemicals. Second of all, you don’t have to limit coconut oil to use for just your skin.

I tend to keep a pot with me at all times as it fixes a lot of things when you’re on the go. As I’m constantly moving about it, it is nice to have one constant that keeps me in check. I have very thick, wavy hair that back in the days before styling and straighteners came along, would frizz at the hint of humidity and never played ball when I wanted it to. Then, after straightening my hair to within an inch of its life, came the dryness. I luckily found coconut oil as a solution and nowadays I apply a small amount to the ends when it is damp and leave it to dry naturally for perfect beachy waves all year round. Gone are my straightening irons and gone is my hairdryer; I know what hair type I have and especially during the summer months, coconut oil is the way to control the dreaded frizz. Not only that, but it keeps it shiny and controllable without feeling greasy. Perfect!

But it took a while for me to see it as a benefit for my skin, especially dealing with oiliness on my face. So, I tend to save it for my body, and the only way I can describe it is that it brings the skin back to life. It’s thick, but not too thick, it softens in your hands making it easy to apply to your skin and the shine lasts for hours. It is especially great for freshly shaved legs, keeping the skin soft and legs looking fantastic!

But then I discovered that coconut oil is a fantastic makeup remover and moisturiser. Who knew?! It literally grabs every bit of makeup, especially on the eyes, like mascara or stubborn eyeliner and leaves the skin around your eyes feeling super soft and hydrated. I don’t tend to rub it all over my face, but it is handy when I’m travelling and don’t have instant access to warm water or soap, and it is gentle enough that it doesn’t make your face feel unclean afterward. Coconut oil hits the spot on many ways. You can even use it to clean your eyelashes, so they are ready for some eyelash serum once all the cakey makeup is gone.

There may be more things I cannot live without, but those are my top 5 beauty products. Here’s hoping you find yours!

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A Modern Twist on Iconic Makeup Looks

How many beauty trends have there been over the years… Hundreds? Thousands? It would be too hard to count, but we can all remember the big ones as time has gone by. Even if you aren’t old enough to remember a lot of the celebrity trends of the past, they used to be so iconic that a lot of their inspiration has passed down and will always be a big part of each generation.

Ok, so some trends we might be better of without these days (barely-there eyebrows, I’m talking to you!) but for the most part we can all look to these fantastic icons and grab some of their trends for our own modern take on their inspired looks.

Cleopatra Inspired Makeup

Cleopatra is arguably one of the most famous female rulers in history. While busy ruling Kingdoms of Egypt and raising armies, she managed to become an icon of female empowerment and beauty. Ok, so over the years, Cleopatra’s image has changed somewhat, becoming Hollywood-ised in one of the 1960’s biggest films, and portrayed by Elizabeth Taylor. But always known for her beauty, you can forgive the Hollywood studios for exaggerating Cleopatra’s makeup look as it has become so iconic today.

Without going too “Halloween costume” it is possible to borrow snippets of her makeup style to create a similar iconic look with a modern twist. First of all, you want to focus on the skin, think bronzed and reflective. But to keep it low-key, aim for a light bronzing powder or gel on the cheeks and up to the temples with highlights on the brow and cheek bones and under the eyes. All skin tones can pull this off, it is just about finding the right balance of bronze or swapping it out for a light shimmer in rose gold on fair skin tones.

Next, you want to get to work on the eyebrows. Make them a strong focus of the face with an eyebrow gel that will stay in place, follow the lines of your natural brows but exaggerate and lengthen your arch slightly to really get a Cleopatra vibe to your makeup.

And of course, the look wouldn’t say Cleopatra without drawing attention to the eyes and adding some brass and gold colours to solidify the whole idea. For a day to day wearable makeup ensemble, stick to the upper lids, keeping it thick and brassy and drawing it out to the corners. Add a touch of highlight to the inner corners to widen the eyes and draw attention. Add a touch of contour to the creases of your eyelid in a darker brown or deep gold without blending too much. Cleopatra’s makeup style is very pronounced, and this look is usually carried off well with similar intensity.

Now for the fun stuff: Eyeliner! The Cleopatra makeup look is all about the eyeliner and don’t be afraid to use lots of it. For a daytime look, keep lines thin and sleek, but for the evening, get to work on those lines and practicing with a sharp kohl pencil for full authenticity. The cat-eye is what you want to go for here, with a thick black line starting in a clear point from under your tear duct, along the bottom water line and out toward the end of the brow. Do the same on the upper lid but try switching to a deep black gel eyeliner and with a steady hand keep the line straight to meet the end of the bottom wing. For the really crafty people out there, try to hold back from connecting the two corners and leave some negative space that screams Cleopatra! Finish off with some volumizing jet black mascara and don’t forget to keep your hair straight and sleek for the ultimate look.

Marilyn Monroe Inspired Makeup

When it comes to iconic style, you can never forget about Ms Monroe as her image has transcended generations and is still the epitome of Hollywood glamour. Her sex appeal was undeniable and she was just as famous for her curves as she was for her screen presence, so it is no surprise that a woman of such beauty sent shockwaves the world over and left a lasting legacy for future women. When it came to her makeup style, she was very versatile but in later years cemented her look with clean but edgy lines that oozed sophistication.

So, how do you pull off Marilyn Monroe’s iconic makeup style? Well first you have to start off with the skin. Her face was so pure and clear of imperfection due to her beauty regime involving petroleum jelly instead of moisturiser. But there are other ways to get that dewy and hydrated look to your skin with light moisturisers and a good primer to even out skin tones and dark patches. Marilyn was a big fan on glowing skin so when it comes to applying foundation, keep it fresh with a medium coverage and use concealer to rid the eyes of dark circles. Apply blush to the cheeks in peachy tones to keep in style with her look.

Then onto the eyebrows. Marilyn Monroe had very sleek eyebrows, brushed upward to accentuate her high arch. When it comes to grooming, keep it minimal, just ridding of strays but not trying to make the eyebrows twins. Use a light gel around the same tone as your brows to keep them brushed upward and outward to accentuate your arches. In keeping with the modern approach to Marilyn’s makeup, don’t go overboard with eyebrow contouring or definitive lines, just be sure to have a good eyebrow brush to hand and fix their shape into place so they look natural. Use a light pencil to extend the peak if necessary but be aware of points that can make your eyebrows look a bit too pantomime!

Marilyn’s eye makeup was the definition of sultry. Giving the cats-eye a run for its money with long and low wings extending out way past her upper eyelid. To do this and keep it modern, try copying her eyeliner still with a different coloured eye pencil in brown, red or even deep green. From the top of the tear duct, draw a neat line without peaking at the centre of the eyelid, the idea is to widen the eye but don’t lose that sultry Marilyn vibe.

Her lips were famously red and pouty and is achievable by anyone with a steady hand and an eye for contour. Instead of lining the lips and filling in the colour, try her look with 3 different shades of red and contouring from the corners and highlighting in the centre for an exaggerated pout and that signature Marilyn Monroe style.

Grace Jones Inspired Makeup

Grace Jones was a pop icon of the 1980s and her inspired cubist and futuristic style is still serving us looks to this day. Grace wanted to break the mould and not be constrained by genres and typecasts and she did this with, aherm… grace and elegance all the way through her career.

Her signature style was not even signature at all as she changed it up so much, but she did stay true to her famous cheekbones and drew influences from other artists and eras such as the looks of Bowie and the discos of Studio 54. With androgynous style, Grace Jones was certainly an icon with plenty of inspiration to pass down to future generations.

So, how do we emanate Grace Jones’ style and bring it right into 2020? Well, honestly her use of colour, geometric shapes and fierce eyeliner could all have been lifted straight out of a 2020 editorial or runway, and if you really want to copy her makeup style with a modern twist, your changes only need to be minimal. Think razor sharp cheekbones with plenty of blush, the most piercing eyes and never be afraid to use just a little more purple lipstick!

So, let’s start with her fabulous bone structure. One of the best things to come out of makeup development over the last 20 years is contouring and accessibility to contouring tools and makeup. So even if you don’t have the bone structure of the goddess that is Grace Jones (as many of us don’t!) you can always fake it ‘til you make it. Draw very steep angles under the cheekbones, use plenty of contour around the jawline and cupids bow to accentuate your features and always add a little highlight to the outward architecture of the face to really bring forward those assets. Blend well and apply blush heavily from the temples down the cheeks in the direction of your mouth to achieve her fully perfected facial look. Grace preferred a darker blush or experimented with brighter pinks and purples, remember to stick to colours that compliment your skin tone, but don’t be afraid to try something new that may surprise you.

When it comes to doing your eyes like Grace Jones, you need to put any apprehensions behind you and just go for it. I would suggest to keep things modern, if you are going to go all out on the eyes, maybe keep the colours on the cheeks toned down to avoid clashes. Grace liked a lot of colour on her eyes and to copy her look you want to take the colour all the way up to the brow with heavy highlights at the inner corners of the eyes and on the brow bone. Try out two or even three tones to create different shapes, maybe a light purple underneath the eye, electric blue on the upper lid and night sky blue to the contours and up to the brow to emanate Grace Jones’ typical style.

Eyeliner should be sharp and deep black to get the full look. Just like the Cleopatra look, eyeliner should start underneath the tear ducts, but to take it to Grace’s level, extend it way past the eyes and in an upward angle toward the brow bone.

Grace’s eyebrows were very thin, angular and precise, but to take a modern twist on her iconic style, avoid the tweezers and focus on the grooming and fixing of the eyebrows. Eyebrow lamination would be perfect for this look as it’s sleek, shiny and will hold for a long time. If you are looking for a quicker and cheaper option, use a good eyebrow gel after pencilling in gaps, lengthening your eyebrows for her signature style.

Grace Jones already had the perfect lip outline, so it was easy for her to rock a whole range of lip colours and wearable styles. While darker colours were her favourite, she also loved the classic red in high gloss to finish off her look. For the modern take on her look, compliment your lip colour with your eye palette, remember to contour the outer corners of the lips and ensure your lip colour has staying power. If playing with deep blues and purples, a black lipstick with violet highlights and an overall coverage of gloss will serve her look really well.

Other Iconic Looks

There have been so many women who made waves by presenting a new look to the world through movies or music and each of them have something iconic about them that we all take some inspiration from to this day.

The chameleon that is Madonna has blessed us with so many iconic versions of herself, it would be hard to know where to start. Do you go “Material Girl” Madonna or perhaps “Evita” Madonna? Or what about Audrey Hepburn? It would be impossible to count all of the gorgeous looks this gracious lady served us.

But the thing is, there is always something we can take from them, from Audrey’s full eyebrows and doe-eyed eyeliner, to Madonna’s messy eyebrows and bright eyeshadow. Or how about Debbie Harry’s signature punk hair and dark smoky eyeshadow or Twiggy’s infamous eyelashes?

In order to create your own look by taking inspiration from icons of the past, the key is to use good quality makeup, always prep and prime the face, eyelids and lips before applying and be sure to have a massive sense of adventure. Oh, and don’t forget to take pictures of your own iconic makeup looks!

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