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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

March 31, 2017

Save the Bees

Okay folks, today's lifestyle post is very different to the usual but it's something very dear to my heart and therefore, something I wanted to share on NB because y'all, I'm straight up loving the fact that this lil' blog is becoming a more personal space. So since last week (and particularly over the last couple of days) people have been discussing the awful news that the bombus affinis a.k.a. the rusty patched bumblebee is officially on the endangered species list for the US. Not only are they now on the endangered species list overseas, but their once healthy numbers are rapidly decreasing here in the UK too as now there are only 25 species compared to the 50 native species that were around in the 1950's. Bees are one of my favourite animals/insects and they're so important in our society that it genuinely gets me down that people don't seem to be in more of an uproar about this news. Whilst I understand that a lot individuals fight bees intimidating as they're scared of them or allergic to their sting, they're vital in our survival and guess what? I'm not being one ounce of dramatic when I say that - they genuinely do keep us humans surviving and thriving. As they're such key characters in our existence and because spring has arrived (and the fact that I just bloody love them), I thought I'd put together some information on why these little fellas should be so looked after by us all and what small or big steps you can take to make them feel at home and hopefully get there numbers back up to a healthy amount!

Some Facts and Statistics
I really need to give you some facts about why these wee guys are so vital to us. Bees are our primary pollinators and are economically valued at around 265 billion euros annually worldwide. That means if they died out, we'd have to invest that money from our various country's economies in order to replace the hard work bees do. Just Europe alone would have to pay 14.2 billion euros a year to cover the loss! So even if we were just looking at bees from a commercial point of view, they're invaluable for so many nations. With that in mind, since 2010, 45% of the UK's honeybees have been wiped out. The number of bees we have has almost halved in 7 years - that number should be terrifying especially when we consider that various economies rely so heavily on them. So I know I know, I bet some of you are wondering exactly what it is that bees are producing right? I mean, 265 billion euros is a hell of a lot of money and you know why? It's because one third I repeat, one third of our food production is directly linked to pollinating insects (this includes bumblebees and other wild bees as well flies, wasps, butterflies etc.). So if we didn't have bees - not only would supplies such as honey inevitably dwindle, but we'd also lose out on *a lot* of other produce that we would then have to manually manufacture ourselves and thus, consuming a lot of money, time, effort and resources. The growth of around 4,000 vegetables a year in Europe alone depend of bees pollinating. We could kiss goodbye to naturally and organically grown things such as courgettes/zucchini, coriander, almonds, various fruits... They all rely on the work of our top pollinators. I mean come on, imagine a world without potatoes, watermelon, cherries, nuts, carrots, avocados... Need I go on?!

According to Greenpeace, wild and domestic honey bees are responsible for 80% - eighty percent - of pollination worldwide. So if some of you are sat there thinking "yeah Amy, but we'd still have butterflies and wasps etc. if the bees did die out" we would be in a bit of a shit show actually and would have an awful lot to try and do ourselves. If 70 out of 100 of the most popular food crops are the result of bee pollination, and those 70 make up around 90% of the world's nutrition, surely it's a no brainer that these wee buzzing fellows need a bit of TLC and we need to give them a helping hand to survive?

So, why are they dying?
There's some obvious (and some natural) reasons why bee numbers are decreasing globally and nationally, but there are also some things that are entirely our fault, as the human race, that really needs to stop in order to prevent this major issue from getting any worse. It will be no surprise to any of you that one of the main causes for the decline in bee numbers - particularly wild bees - is the use of of chemicals such as insecticides in industrial agriculture. Of course agriculture is a central part of our human existence as we need to farm in order to live. It is what we have done for thousands of years but doing it naturally and organically is few and far between now and not the "routine" method. Farmers bathe their crops in all sorts of chemically-intensive solutions that are dangerous to many insects including bees in order to grow ripe and bountiful crops (side note: these chemicals can be detrimental to our health also!). However this is exactly what is killing off those workers who product many other crops and nutrition for us, for free.

Studies have shown that exposure to insecticides has a direct correlation with negative health impacts on whole bee colonies. If it is not instantly harming bees, it is harming them in a multitude of physiological and neurological ways. The little buzzers have been shown to be malnourished growing at a slower rate (meaning they take longer to reach adulthood and therefore taking longer to reach their "full potential" as a pollinator) and sometimes deformities are present within the hive. And neurologically? These guys have been successful for all these years because they're damn smart. They learn from each other and their environment incredibly quick. But these pesticides are effecting their cognitive processes so they're struggling to learn from each other in the hive but also learning the wrong way out and about in the big wide world. They're identifying flowers and locations that would actually be incredibly beneficial for the pollinators to visit as being dangerous "stay clear" areas and flora as they may have had one bad experience with that particular plant (as it was covered in chemicals) and therefore run from it instead of harvesting from it.

Other factors are of course, also responsible. Climate change as a whole is having an impact on bee populations but as is bee mites which fester on the little guys just like we can be prone to disease and infection ourselves. These causes are things a little more out of our direct reach in the sense that they're not things we can solve quickly or at all in the essence of naturally occurring bee mites, but another major problem for bees is yep, yet again, something we're doing. Our 25 remaining wild bee species are used to the lovely colourful rolling hills of Britain yet as the years go by, they have smaller and smaller areas to find such lush green land. We are being destructive to our planet and our environment and whilst this isn't something new to us, we're not doing enough to prevent it and it's having more and more of an effect on many species of flora and fauna than ever before. It has been estimated that we have lost around 97% of land rich in flowers since the 1930's and considering flowers are bees main source of food, can we really be surprised to see that all fingers of blame are pointing towards us for their endangerment?

Okay so we're to blame - what can we do to help?
Let me quickly apologise for how negative this post has got - whilst I think we need to take a great deal of responsibility for this ongoing fuck up, there is actually a hell of a lot of work that we could do in order to rectify the mistakes we have made and hopefully help bee populations get back on their feet.

- First off, honey. Where possible, buy your honey organically from local artisan suppliers. I'm not talking about the stuff with the "organic" label slapped on it in the supermarket that suspiciously came from the same place the non-organic stuff came from; I'm talking about the "proper stuff". Not only are bees misused in industrial mass-produced honey making as they're transported in trucks from their native familiar surroundings and land, but all of the natural health benefits of honey are cooked out of the honey before it gets to the shelves. If you can't get artisan stuff because hell let's be honest - it will be expensive and not readily available - look for "non heated/transformed" honey otherwise it won't benefit your health at all. You can also be safe in the knowledge that you're supporting domestic honeybee farming that does not over farm or misuse the bees.
- Eat organic as much as you can. Yes, it's more expensive. Yes, you often get less for your money but it is the easiest way to support bees as you are putting the money in the pockets of those companies and individuals who refuse to make their crops poisonous to pollinators.
- Gardens fit for bees. I'm sure every single one of you have seen a huge bumblebee come buzzing past your back door during the hot summer months, looking for some tasty nectar in order to recharge. So obviously one of the best things you can do is make sure your garden is jam-packed with flowery delights for every visiting bumble. Ideally, a garden will have flowers/plants which will bloom through spring til autumn so no matter what the crazy British weather throws at them, bees will have somewhere to feed come rain or shine. These flowers should be planted in large patches/clusters to make it easy for foraging. As for example, bumblebees like to stick to one particular species of flower as they forage and can often tire themselves out looking for more of the same type. Imagine the only place you could get some Chinese cuisine was in a little China Town in your local city and you had to travel to the next city's China Town to get your next fix - it's exactly like that for these guys. Your flowers will preferably be different shapes also as different species have different tongue lengths and therefore have a preference on where they feed - just like us and our taste buds and appetites!


Favourite flowers for bumblebees:
Lavender, Rosemary, Deadnettle and Oregano (and other flowering plants from the Lamiaceae family) are all main sources of nectar and Clover - particularly red clover, Trefoils, and Runner Beans (and other plants from the Fabaceae family) are the main sources of pollen for bumblebees so they'd really appreciate seeing these in your garden! Other flowering families they tend to like are:
- Asteraceae (Thistle-like flowers, Cardoon, Knapweeds etc.)
- Boraginaceae (Comfrey, Cynoglossum, Cerinthe, etc)
- Dipsacaceae (Teasels, Scabiouses)
- Ericaceae (Blueberries, Strawberry Trees, Heathers)
- Rosaceae (Brambles, Raspberries, Single-flower Roses)
- Scrophulariaceae (Foxgloves, Veronica, Hebe etc)

Not so favourite/down right bad for bumblebees:
- Insecticides of any type - including "organic" ones! (Who even wants to use organic pesticide man?!)
- Most bedding plants - in other words, those plants which are sold in polystyrene strips in garden centres and DIY stores (e.g. Petunias, Begonias, Busy Lizzies, French Marigolds, Pansies etc.)
- "Double" flowers

For a super comprehensive list of flowers/plants that are good for our bee buddies and when they bloom so you can plant a good array is available on the Bug Life website!


- Give them a home! Of course if you're planting flowers for our pollinator pals, you're doing a grand job supporting them as it is. But if you don't mind being around bees, you can provide them with somewhere to thrive in small groups. Something as simple as putting a pile of leaves in a sunny quiet corner of your lawn will provide a welcomed habitat for bumblebees. They also quite like undisturbed compost heaps or quiet hedgerows for building nests. If you want to go a step further, you could buy a bee hotel from many garden centres and online stores or simply make your own! Simply dig out a patch of your grass, place some dry grass or moss at the bottom of it and cover the hole over with a paving slab or a brick leaving only a small entrance for them and voila! an instant home. I've currently got some guys who nest in my wall outside my front door and they seem content there.
- Help track bees. Another great way to help is to track bee activity in a variety of ways. Bumble Bee Conservation have a couple of ways you can help from tracking which species enter your garden with apps, to surveying which flowers are certain bees favourites to visit and use, to being involved in Bee Walks to survey areas if you're into your fitness and getting out in nature - there's something for everyone.
- Make donations. There are a lot of different charities and activists trying to grow and support bee populations through anti-pesticide farming to creating bee keeping sanctuaries to try and grow numbers. You can obviously donate to these causes but also invest in packs like Bee Saver Kit which can tell you everything you need to know about helping our buzzing buddies.
- Educate yourself further. The last recommendation I want to make is actually a documentary by Markus Imhoof. More Than Honey does exactly as it's name suggests; the film delves deeper into the treatment of bees and basically how fucked we'd be without them. Please, watch it if this post has got your interest peaked as it's incredibly insightful.

Wow, that was a long one wasn't it? I commend you if you've made it all the way to the end, but this is a topic that I think is extremely important to discuss and make more people aware of as I often feel, as human beings, we are quite relaxed about things like this until it's too late to change them. If I somehow haven't bored you and you want to find out more about bees in general - not just how you can help them - the Sussex Wildlife Trust have some great articles and videos on there that will hopefully make you love and appreciate bees as much as this gal does.

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March 29, 2017

A Coffee Date with 16 Year Old Me

Hello world it's me, freshly *just turned 26* me and I'm here to have a word with my former self. I'm very much a nostalgic person and I always think about my teen years and they might not have been all singing and all dancing (but come on, who's are? Its such a turbulent period of everyone's life and as cheesy as it sounds - it's a time of self discovery) but I do look back on them fondly - even the bad times! Last year I wrote a post on 25 Things I Learned in 25 Years and it seemed to go down well with you guys and to date, it's been one of my most favourite posts to write because I got to be nostalgic, laugh at some things I'd almost forgotten about and just reflect. So today, I'm another year older and not necessarily another year wiser, but I am going prove that I definitely am compared to my 16 year old self.

Everyone is young and stupid as a teen. Please don't be offended when I say that - I'm not directly calling you stupid if you're that age right now - but I would happily bet all my money on the fact that when you're my age, you'll think of some of the stuff you did, said, thought at 16 and think "what on earth was a doing?!" because it's all a learning curve. Even if you are or were a teen with your head screwed on and were wise beyond your years, you'll never believe that every decision you made was a good one. But like I said, it's all part of growing up and growing and learning as a person and it's not something you should regret or worry about, but it's something you should be able to reflect on and hopefully shake your head in laughter at the worst. So. 16 year old me. What would I say to her if we went for a coffee?

First of all it would be in Starbucks in Newcastle, right by Grey's Monument because that's where I wasted a good 4 hours of every Saturday afternoon with my friends. If I wasn't in there, I'd be in the glorious underground coffee shop/tanning salon hybrid just off Northumberland Street(that I'm sure only the likes of Newcastle would combine) because the hot chocolates there were as big as my head and came with enough sugary snacks that they basically made a meal for weight conscious, skint 16 year old Amyleigh. She'd be sat there, in a pair of skinny jeans that were so tight, you could see the pocket outlines on the front so they looked spray painted onto her legs. Her hair would be backcombed to buggery and ill-fitting hair extensions which had been perfectly straightened or ringlet curled would be hanging down around her face. She would be wearing a mask of the wrong colour foundation, far too much mascara, blusher, and a sticky Britney Spears lip gloss that came free with her beloved Britney Fantasy perfume. She'd have a septum piercing through her nose that doesn't suit her and be wearing her much-loved brown (I know) leather jacket with the anchor pin badge on the collar because she was so hardcore/MySpace and her ballet flats would match whatever vest top and cardigan combo she was wearing that day. She'd have one of her many skull print scarves draped around her neck and one of her Topshop handbags that would match her ballet shoes too. She'd be sat shivering from the cold but god forbid she'd put another layer of clothing on. She'd be extremely sarcastic, closed off, and really, not that different to 26 year old Amyleigh.

There's so much I could say to her - so much I would want to say. I think however I would start with boys because boys were the centre of the universe and the driving force behind everything from how she did her makeup, to what bands she listened to, to how much she got into trouble with mam. I'd tell her:

- Don't shrug off that guy who was dating you to see how far he could get with you. Fight him. Boys and girls can be mean during your teens and they can be after one thing and one thing only. It's fine if you don't "put out". It's fine if you'd rather go to the cinema than stay at home watching a movie because a) you don't want to get awkward about not having sex and b) mam will cut his willy off if she caught you anyway.

- When you're 17, do not let that guy who text his friend "I'm not sure about her teeth" on your first date go anywhere near you. He doesn't even deserve a hug. You might think it's great having a "proper boyfriend" (because apparently after 16 they become "proper") but have a bloody high bar they have to hit. Giving him a chance will mean you'll find out he's also given at least 5 other girls that lovely chance (so generous of him) at the same time. Your teeth are always going to be something you're not happy with but you know what? You're going to get comfortable with them. Heck, you're going to post a full teeth smiling selfie on Instagram and actually think you look nice. I know right? So yeah, that guy? Not worth a dime.

- You didn't meet your soul mate at 15. You'll be alright. You might have been like peas in a pod and you might have basically have been the male and female versions of each other, but it won't last, don't cry and stay off school because of it - get a grip! You'll still wonder about how he is and what he's doing now from time to time because ultimately, he was your best friend, but you weren't destined to be together (though you'll forever be thankful that he stole you a copy of The Hungry Caterpillar from the mobile library for you and he was worth that day of skipping school - and all the trouble you got into as a result. You little no so sly devil, you).

- When you're 26 you'll still be kind of shy about your sexuality at times and you know what? That's okay. You're getting there. Sound the alarm. Being bi wasn't a MySpace kid phase and your girlfriends as a teen are some of your most valid, genuine, and enjoyable relationships so do not let anyone dismiss them. You might keep the whole thing secret from most of the world and from those who matter most at times, but at least you're being true to yourself and there's no shame in that.

- Don't let others hold you back so you can make them happy. You should be your main priority. Doormat is a forehead tattoo you do not want Amyleigh but if you're not careful, that's what you're going to end up with. You have always been a girl who's been more concerned with everyone else (grandma always likes to remind you of the fact that in primary school you were always the last one out at the end of the day because you were zipping everyone's jackets up for them and making sure they hadn't lost their gloves). But guess what? Think about you because trust me, it will take you a good long time to eventually do it more, but loving yourself and putting your needs first is paramount.

- Mam was right, snakebite piercings and 2 Monroe piercings is not a good look for you. Trust me, you'll thank the fact that she was so against piercings when you're older.

- Your social anxiety is going to get worse and worse each year but do your best to fight it. This is something you will work on but also kind of let take hold in life and the balance will work out for you. Don't feel pressured to do social things you don't want to do but also don't turn away opportunities because you're scared. You'll strike a balance and manage to function just fine so hang in there.

- No you won't go to your girlfriends' weddings and be godmother to their kids. Being a teen means you often don't have a lot to focus on so friends are usually prioritised and become the centre of your universe. But guess what? The girls you're friends with at school aren't going to stick around. They're not going to be there for you and you're not going to be there for them. You're allowed to grow apart and it's a natural part of life that actually? You'll be pretty pleased about one day because realistically you don't have a lot in common with them do you?

- You wear too much fucking blusher. Your cheeks don't need to guide planes in to land.

- By 26 you will be a seasoned solo-flyer and actually crave travelling alone. I know you're terrified of flying right now, 16 year old me, but believe it or not - that will go! By time you're 26 you will casually rock up to the airport numerous times a year and board a plane like it's no big deal. You'll do stupid shit like get a hire car with 3 complete strangers and hurtle your way down the A1 to get home during a severe storm and not even blink an eye. You might have this increasing anxiety to deal with when the rest of the world is concerned but you? You're going to get so much stronger so give yourself a pat on the back.

- You might think your eyebrows are great right now but trust me, that shit won't look good til you're 24. Trust me, I've seen all of the photographic evidence. The brows need and thankfully receive many improvements.

- You're intelligent. Use it. Flaunt it. Don't get lazy. Aged 26 you'll still struggle with blowing your own trumpet but hey! You're a clever girl *insert Chris Pratt Jurassic World style voice* and you need to flaunt that some more. Even after university (I know - you get there eventually sister so hold tight) you'll put yourself down but keep the flame of "I'm pretty damn smart" burning at the furthest recesses of your mind just so you don't lose sight of your intelligence.

- You're always going to be a "what if" person and it's a shame. Turns out even at 26, you still won't take the leap a lot of the time and you'll just wonder what could have been or should have been and that's one thing that we need to work on, girl. If I could time travel back and make sure you knew one thing it would be to go with your gut. Whatever you feel in your heart is what you should be doing - do not let Mr Clever Clogs upstairs in flat "Brain" tell you any different.

- All the stupid shit that comes your way; just embrace it. You're going to look back on it all so fondly one day. The sitting in a field at 1am with good friends and a bottle of white rum in the middle of summer - worth the bollocking off mam the next day. The hopping from college to college because you will be unsure about what you're doing with your life - worth it because you'll go to uni to study something you love eventually. The friendships you forge with the least likely characters - worth it and don't question them. You'll realise they're the ones you still want to speak to when you're 26 who mean a huge bunch so make an effort, yeah?

I would apologise for this long waffle of a post but I can't tell actual 16 year old me the good the bad and the ugly so it falls on your guys' shoulders instead. I said it last year and I'll probably say it every single birthday but I'm not worrying about getting older and I don't feel any older, but I do like to use this time to think of all the good and not so good in my life and how it's helped me grow. No doubt this time next year, I will be looking back on things with a totally different spin on it all, the spin of a 27 year old (good lord).

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March 27, 2017

Basic 70s Bitch

This weather needs to sort itself out really doesn't it? I've gone from wearing a scarf and a big coat, to it being too hot for a jacket, to it being bloody chilly cold again in a matter of days. Spring, where you at and/or why you playing silly buggers? As the weather can't decide what it's doing properly, the best way to get around it is to wear something that meets most weather needs at this time of year. As much as I love layering, I like it when I know it's going to be freezing cold. I can't deal with layers when you have you have to constantly remove or add items depending on the temperature so of course I've had to dust off the gilet. I always feel like jeans, a fur gilet, and a fedora is such a standard basic outfit choice but I always think it looks perfect too so I don't care if it's a bit basic bitch. I find fur gilets incredibly warm to wear so as long as the sun is shining, this is a great alternative to a heavy winter coat.

Romwe Blouse (old) | New Look Gilet (similar) | Asos Black Jeans | Oh Hey Girl Store O Ring Belt | Boohoo Fedora with Leopard Scarf | Poor Boy Vintage Saddle Bag via Asos Marketplace (similar) | Office Booties (similar)

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March 24, 2017

Real Talk: Let's Stop Body Shaming

A couple of weeks ago I asked you guys over on Twitter which lifestyle/wellness post you would prefer to see and whilst my post on why you should date yourself won the vote (and got a great response - so thank you?!), a post all against body shaming came a close second and some of you guys asked for both so guess what? You get what you ask for!

So let's jump straight in. Body shaming is fucking disgusting. I'm going to be really opinionated on this topic in this post so if y'all don't want to deal with that, I urge you to not read any further, but I have thoughts on this topic and I damn well want them to be heard. The reason I feel so strongly about body shaming is because it's such a subjective thing that honestly should not happen but I'm not delusional - we'll never live in a world where body shaming isn't a thing and isn't happening. We need to try to move towards collectively, as a society, to preventing body shaming and making people realise just how harmful it can be. It's difficult to point the finger at individuals and say to them "hey you can't say that" when we're almost conditioned to think that way by the media. We're surrounded by judgemental headlines and photos of celebrities on the beach being chastised for wearing a bikini when they're "the size of a beached whale" and then they're celebrated when they inevitably release a weight-loss fitness DVD because they've felt the pressure to look a certain way in our society.

It's such a harming thing that seems to be more and more common as the years go by and in an odd way, don't we just accept it? Sure the majority of us will sit there and complain about it, we will say it shouldn't be happening but does anything really get done about it? It's difficult when its so prevalent in our day to day lives to know how to tackle it but there's definitely some things that I think can help:

1. Every body is a perfectly good and right body. Okay so this might seem pretty self-explanatory, but the best way to tackle body shaming is to accept that everyone's body is different and that is okay. So many times I see women and men tear each other down and say that someone is "too skinny" or "that's not curvy, that's just fat" without giving any thought as to how hurtful or damaging that can be someone. What if you're saying this to someone with an eating disorder? What if you're ridiculing someone with a weight-related illness that means they can't shed the pounds like other people? Body image is not something we can take at face value as it is always linked to the individual's mind inside that body. In an ideal world, we'd all be concerned with ourselves and ourselves only. One can only dream.

2. Support changes. So this next point again, is pretty easy to do, yet we don't seem to do it enough. How many times have you seen someone get ridiculed at the gym because they're a bigger guy or girl who is trying to make a change to benefit them? How many times have you seen someone make an insanely misjudged and outright rude comment about an individual who is sharing their success story of overcoming their inability to put on weight? It seems to happen frequently when during those times the one thing everyone should be doing is supporting that particular individual through their change. If your pal is going to Weight Watchers club and they're super excited to tell you how many pounds they've lost each week - root for them. If they "slip off the wagon" because you've gone to Pizza Hut and they've taken full advantage of the endless supply of ice cream and diet cokes - tell them it doesn't matter. They're allowed to enjoy life but be a support. Let them know how proud you are of what they're doing. Make them aware of the positive change you can see in them. If they're happier because they're going to the gym 6 times a week then be happy for them too. If they're ecstatic because they've finally worked out how to put on some weight then celebrate with them. Just think about how much it sends you positively reeling with ecstasy for that split second when someone compliments you and think about how that will feel to someone who needs encouragement and reassurance that they're doing great and their hard work is not going unnoticed. It will potentially make them feel a million dollars.

3. Don't mirror your beliefs onto others. A lot of the body shaming we see tends to be along the lines of
"I think you've put on weight"
"I think you looked nicer with blonde hair"
"In my opinion plastic surgery is disgusting"
Notice something? It's not about you. This seems to be something that has become more and more of an issue on the likes of Instagram and YouTube where people seem to think it is okay to parade around their beliefs without rhyme or reason. Don't get me wrong, often people on those platforms will put themselves in a position of which they've asked for opinions and are therefore being judged by potentially millions of people, but consider what you are saying. This is something that doesn't just happen on social media but in everyday friendships and conversations with family members too. How many of you have had a family member comment on your appearance? I've got both hands raised here. It can be the smallest comment but it can stay with a person and eat away at them. I'm not saying don't give your opinion when someone asks for it but be kind. Be constructive. If you can see that someone is unsure of a change they've made, think before you speak. You should be making that person feel safe, secure and confident in themselves not tearing them down or making them feel they have to fit a mould.

4. Body image isn't restricted to any gender, size, race, or style. When I think of body image, I think of everything you see on the outside - everything from the person's weight, to their gender (if they wish to show it), to the colour they choose to dye their hair. We get caught up in thinking about weight when "body image" is uttered and I think that's probably because it's what comes under fire the most but as I mentioned earlier, there's lots of things people do to their body to express themselves and to feel comfortable in their own skin and again, it's important we help build that up. I don't care if I'm wearing a lipstick that's "not right for my skin tone" because I want to wear it. I like it. I feel confident in it and I wouldn't like anyone to go out of their way to tell me any different. In our contemporary society, people should be free to identify how they want to both inside and out and feel safe that they can do that without any repercussions. For some people it might be something small - like me - of feeling free to have whatever hair colour they want and feel sort of okay about their acne, for others, it may be feeling safe to walk down the street wearing a dress if you identify as a male, wearing a hijab if you are British born white woman who used to be Christian... All of these outward signs we express are our own unique ways of saying "hey look! I'm me! The one and only!" and why that is not celebrated more I do not know - just *think* how wonderful our species is that we have that much diversity?!

5. Social media is never a true representation. So we might blame the media for our negativity towards diversity in body image and appearance but a major factor in the last 5 years in particular is without a doubt the growth of social media. Sites like Instagram for example have whole accounts dedicated to "fitness babes" or "IG baddies" and it's just full to the brim with beautiful, slim, athletic women which yeah, a lot of them look like that, but we all have to bear in mind the majority don't look like that at the same time. For example, that girl who looks like she's got a teeny tiny waist and a big butt? She has stood in such a way to emphasise that. That girl who's got flawless skin and lovely hair on her "just woke up lol" snap? You didn't see the 63 other photos she took where she didn't look quite so bangin' and you didn't see the 10 minutes she put in to editing the photo. I want to make it clear that I am absolutely not tearing these people down, but those who are comparing themselves to these people need to be aware that real life does not always correlate. The girls on IG that advertise the skinny teas and the hair vitamins etc. whilst actually working out a butt-tonne and actually wearing hair extensions should be honest and celebrate what they are actually (how many times can I say actually) doing to look the way they want. I'm all for modifying yourself to a point that you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin but y'all, be honest about it so it doesn't damage others. I'm looking at you, Kylie Jenner.

I'll be honest, I don't really know where I was going with this post, but I have such a strong feeling towards body image and body positivity that I feel I needed to try and get my thoughts down somewhere. Being body positive is a step that only an individual can make and work towards however think how much of a nicer place it would be if, along that journey, other individuals gave the occasional pat on the back, high five, twit-twoo to keep you going - to reach your goal and ultimate happiness. It's not too much to ask now is it?

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March 22, 2017

Makeup Products Fit for Spring

It's official, google says we entered spring 2017 two days ago therefore we can all start smiling again at the thought of some sunshine and clear skies (maybe, we are talking about the good ol' British weather afterall). As it's spring time, I like to switch up my makeup a little and try out a few different products that I feel are always "spring appropriate". I love wearing peachy/coral blushers, matte bronzers, and the Mary Lou Manizer highlighter, but there's just something about spring that makes me turn to anything and everything with pink tones and bronzers with a bit of shimmer and glow. So here's some of my top picks for spring:

Eye Products
- Beauty UK Pin Up Eyeshadow Palette | £5.49: I've already blogged about this palette in detail so I won't bore you (head over there to see swatches of each shadow), but I really like this palette. The 3 last shimmer shades that are shown in my swatches in that post are absolutely stunning and give the lid such a great metallic, almost wet-look, sheen that I really like all year round but particularly at this time of year. The matte shades in this palette are also super nice and they are very "spring-like" to me as they're generally warm shades and that subtle pink shimmer shade - just perfect for spring!

- The Body Shop Color Crush Eyeshadow in Sunshine Love | £7.OO: When I first spotted this eyeshadow, I knew I had to try it. I love yellow - it's my favourite colour - and I've gotten braver and braver with incorporating it into my wardrobe. I've also gotten braver with including it in my makeup bag and this shadow is my ultimate yellow product. The Body Shop's single shadows are buttery soft and blend extremely well. This particular colour is so bright and vibrant but weirdly, despite being so unique and *out there* in colour, it is really wearable. It reminds me of pollen and daffodils in bloom and if that doesn't say "spring" I don't know what does.

- Rimmel Match Perfection Illuminating Concealer | £5.99: I'm really enjoying using this concealer and it's a gorgeous product for giving your skin a bit of a lift and light. The Rimmel Match Perfection range has a knack for brightening the skin so this is a nice concealer for the undereyes but it also heavy duty enough to hide blemishes. I think the brightening this can do gives the skin such a nice natural dewiness - even for us oily skinned folk.

- Essence Silky/Satin Touch Blush in Satin Coral | £1.OO: Essence are always a super budget go-to brand for me and this blusher is just gorgeous. A peachy yet pinky shade, this blusher has a slight shimmer to it making it a great one for when you're feeling lazy and don't want to highlight or if you prefer a more natural highlight. These blushes blend super seamlessly into the skin and give the skin such a natural flush - a definite winner.

- Rimmel Lasting Finish Mono Blush in Live Pink | £3.99: These wee blushers from Rimmel are some of my all-time faves and I wear the shade "Santa Rose" pretty much daily, but when I do feel like switching it out for a different shade, I love this very girly, very not me but I love it, baby pink. It looks much brighter and much more bubblegum pink in the pan, but on the cheeks it can look very natural and healthy on the skin.

- Makeup Revolution Vivid Baked Bronzer in Golden Days | £4.OO: Another product I have blogged about before, this bronzer is a gorgeous budget product for getting such a great glow on the skin. This bronzer is shimmering but not full of chunky glitter so it still looks flattering on the skin and as a pale girl, I find this shade a really nice match for my skin. It's a creamy powder to blend out and it's colour - despite being a £4 product - lasts well on the skin throughout the day. You also get a large pan of product for your buck so it will see you through all of spring and summer too!

- Essence Soo Glow! Highlighter in 2O Bright Up Your Life | £2.3O: Not usually a cream highlighter girl, I'm as surprised as you are to see this in this post but I really do love these cream to powder highlighters from Essence. Both shades in this range are gorgeous but the pink is particularly nice for spring and is one of the best highlighters for giving a pearlescent sheen to the cheeks and high points of the face.

- The Balm The Manizer Sisters Highlighting Palette | £18.OO: So everyone and their cat is a fan of the Mary-Lou Manizer powder but I also love the not-so-talked-about Cindy-Lou and Betty-Lou Manizers too. Cindy Lou gives the perfect pink highlight with an intense but wearable gold shimmer in it and Betty-Lou has the same gold tones but is a great bronzer. Betty-Lou is a slightly darker, more intense bronze compared to MUR's Vivid Baked Bronzer, so if you've got darker skin than ghostly me or if you like an intense bronze, this is the product for you. I like having the full palette to pick and choose from at this time of year because all of the shades are so great for the slowly in-creeping sunshine.

From left to right: The Body Shop's Eyeshadow, Essence's Silky Touch Blush, Rimmel Lasting Finish Colour Blush, MUR's Vivid Baked Bronzer in Golden Days, Essence's soo glow! Bright Up Your Life, The Balm's Mary-Lou Manizer, Cindy-Lou, and Betty-Lou

Base Products
- Maybelline Fit Me! Powder in Ivory | £5.99: Although I love translucent powder there are a couple of coloured powders that provide a little bit more coverage that I really like. One of those powders is this Fit Me! powder from Maybelline. If you saw last week's disappointing beauty products post, you will know that I am not a fan of the Fit Me! foundations however I do love the concealer and the powder. This powder gives great coverage, keeps my skin looking matte and not cakey, and is also really finely milled so feels velvety to the touch and feather-light on the skin. The best thing about this product though is that I find it quite brightening despite being a matte powder. I like to use it to set my undereye concealer as it brightens the area whilst also keeping it crease-free. This may be due to it's slightly banana/yellow tones but regardless, this is a great all-round powder for any skin types as it doesn't cling to dry patches either.

- The Body Shop All-in-One BB Cream in OO| £12.OO: I haven't been wearing any base products such as foundation since last July but if I ever feel the need to reach for a base I'd actually grab this one. Way back in May when I first purchased this and blogged about it, I wasn't too sure about it because it was so extremely illuminating it seemed more like a liquid highlighter. However now that I have played around with the product more, it is such a gorgeous subtle product for giving your skin a boost. If I want really natural skin and I'm not doing my usual routine where I skip base products completely, I like to use this just to make my skin look healthy and dewy. Teamed with the likes of the Essence cream highlighter and a nice pink blush, this product is incredibly pretty and is extremely comfortable to wear on long days.

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March 20, 2017

Why Hello Spring

Ahhh happy first day of Spring, people! I might be in love with the colder months and layering but I am damn happy to see the longer days creeping in and the daffodils blooming. This past week we have had such crazy weather - one minute I've been freezing in a jumper and a scarf then the next it's been too hot for a coat - madness, I know. As it's the first day of spring, it only seems to kick things off the way I intend to carry on over the next few months which is wearing a hell of a lot of floral embroidery and not giving a hoot if folk don't like it. I bloody love this little Zara dress because it's gorgeous as a dress (especially with bare legs - bare leg wear is creeping closer too ladies woo!) but it looks ace as a long tunic-style top over some ripped denim and some converse. Despite this ensemble being all black, the pops of colour and the floral details keep it looking delicate and perfect for spring. I love this dress so much I'm going to pick up it's creamy white sister on payday because I mean, you can never have too many embroidered dresses right?

Zara Embroidered Dress (similar & similar | Boohoo Fedora | Asos Embroidered Bag (similar) | Boohoo Platform Boots

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March 17, 2017

My Birthday Wishlist

Happy Friday you lovely lot! As it's quickly approaching my birthday, I thought I'd throw together a quick little birthday wishlist of various things that are currently on my (many) Amazon wishlists that have caught my eye over the last couple of months. Even though I did one of these posts last year, I somehow managed to only accumulate one of the products in that post so maybe this year I'll be more successful and actually remember what I wanted to spend my money on instead of getting distracted by just about anything and everything else. So let's see what I desperately want in my life but don't really need:

1. "Perv - The Sexual Deviant in All of Us" Book by Jess Bering | £8.83 - £16.99 - I really really want to read this book and it's been on my wishlist for over a year now and I've somehow still not picked it up. After reading a rave review of it over on my favourite blog, The Dainty Squid, I wanted to read it for myself. It is different to my usual reading material as I tend to reach for fiction (particularly dark crime or fantasy fiction), but I want to read it nonetheless. Bering attempts to explain how we are all sexual deviants in one way or another and introduces the reader to various people with different "deviants" such as a woman in love with the Eiffel Tower and twins who are a bit too affectionate in most people's eyes. The whole thing sounds fascinating and I guess just based on that, I sound like a deviant too. Plus, how great is the cover going to be on my daily commutes to and from work?

2. Physician's Formula Butter Bronzer | approx. £12.OO - This bronzer is on every American beauty guru YouTube channel I watch and they always rant and rave about how good it is and how suitable it is for pale skin so I just desperately need it in my life. At the moment, my favourite product for giving my skin some colour and glow is the Kat Von D Shade & Light palette but even the palest contour shade in there isn't quite right for bronzing too so I'm always on the lookout for a better bronzer. I have a lot of different ones from the high street and the drugstore that I do like and I do use on a regular basis but I have to use a very light hand and sometimes still they are too warm or too terracotta/orange for my skin tone. This bronzer looks like the perfect tone for me and the formula is meant to be amazing too and it's available on Amazon for us UK folk who want in on the action.

3. Pizza Phrenology Head Pin Badge | £8.4O - You guys probably all know by now how much of a pin badge lover I am but my collection always has room for more and more because there's just so many independent small brands out there that are producing amazing stuff that I can't resist. If there's one thing I've always been interested in both academically and aesthetically, its all the amazing wonder of phrenology and palmistry etc. that seems to be popular amongst others when it comes to homeware etc. too. Therefore this pin is definitely something I want to get my hands on and the fact that they've altered it to say "pizza" and "love" means its only even more fitting for me and my jacket.

4. Topshop Montana Western Ankle Boots | £55.OO - I 100% do not need another pair of shoes. Or to be even more specific, I 100% do not need another pair of pointed western style ankle boots with buckles on them but my goodness this pair from Topshop are heaven sent. The shape of them are really nice (some in this kind of style can be too chunky or too slim looking on the feet) and the colour of them?! I can't get enough. I have been having a huge clear out of my footwear lately because I own a lot of shoes and I tend to wear the same pairs over and over again but I can confidently say that these babies would never be off my feet if I got my hands on them.

5. Sugarpill Pressed Eyeshadow in Flamepoint | £9.95 - Sugarpill are a brand I've only tried one product from but I've got to say, I was impressed with their liquid lipstick formula so I imagine their intense eyeshadows would not disappoint either. They have a great range of more "out there" colours in both their lip and eye products and although a lot of them are out of my comfort zone, I am desperate to try this vibrant orange shade. Lately I've been loving wearing mustard yellow eyeshadows and orange/red shades too but this shade seems even better than the oranges I currently own plus, Sugarpill are a cruelty free vegan brand so win win.

6. Nailbiter Graphic Novel | £8.99 - In case I haven't mentioned it enough and/or you missed my post all about them, I really bloody love graphic novels. I have quite a few stocked up on my "to-read" pile at the moment but there's always space for one or a hundred more. Nailbiter is something that was released relatively recently and as you might be able to tell by the cover, is a bit of a gory one and is all about serial killers. Serial killers, in a graphic novel? Need I say more? Well if you're not quite with me yet, the fact that it's described as mixing Twin Peaks with the movie Se7en should surely have you sold. I know I am *sold*.

7. Kingdom Hearts PS4 1.5 and 2.5 Remaster | £34.99 - Right, what do I even need to say about this? I found out this week that Kingdom Hearts was being rereleased but on the PS4 and I literally screamed with excitement. If you read my post all about my favourite video games last year, you will know that I love Kingdom Hearts so having the chance to play through it all again but on a console I actually have readily available to me is amazing. March 31st release date, I see you. I'm coming for you.

8. Free People Babes of Paradise Bodysuit | £118.OO - Ladies and gents, you know when you see an item of clothing and you genuinely feel in your gut that you don't just want to own it, you need it? Well in steps this bodysuit. Free People are one of my favourite clothing brands but let's be real - on my wages I can't always afford it - but when this beauty popped up on the IG feed, I realised I might just have to bite the bullet and invest in it. Just *look* at those sleeves! The colour of it is gorgeous too and I think it would look amazing with jeans, skirts, on it's own on the beach... the possibilities are endless and I mean come on, I would never take it off over summer.

9. Topshop Marigold Embroidery Plaform Sandals | £34.OO - Okay so you know when I said I would never take off those Topshop boots? Well I would - to put these on occasionally. I don't really wear heels anymore since changing jobs but my god these are too *me* to be true. They're black faux velvet/suede, they're embroidered, they've got gold details, and they're covered in my favourite - bees! I love heels that aren't too high and that have a platform so your feet are comfortable for the duration that they're on your feet so these are perfect!

10. Ceramic Skull Planter | £26.88 - I have been after this planter for actual yonks now after seeing it all over Instagram and Pinterest and I am still yet to own it. I love plants and although my flat is small and doesn't have a lot of direct sunlight for plants, I'd still like a couple of cacti and succulents around the place and a cactus would look dapper in this planter.

11. The Moomins Colouring Book | £1O.OO - I might have mentioned it before but I love The Moomins a great deal and I still watch them now regularly when I feel like I need to watch something chilled and happy. When I first saw this colouring book I got really excited and then thought "wait, but aren't Moomins white sooo?" but alas, I still want it. Little My is one of my favourite characters in anything ever and my mam always says she's my spirit character, so I guess that's why I've always had a soft spot for the show/books. I love colouring books and I'm so pleased to see so many pretty ones being released due to their popularity amongst adults once again and this one would be a beautiful one to complete.

Check out my Amazon Birthday Wishlist here for more ideas!

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March 15, 2017

Disappointing Beauty Products

Ahh, makeup. If there's one thing I continuously waste money on and dabble in it's the realm of makeup and beauty in general. I'm a sucker for the latest makeup launches on the high street and those of the high-end variety and I can be easily persuaded by just about anyone on YouTube about what I should be spending my hard earned cash on almost weekly. But, just sometimes, these recommendations are a downfall and rather than revealing an amazing product to me, they've actually been pretty disappointing and not worked for me at all. Somehow, despite this being an occurrence that can happen on the regular for me, I've managed to avoid doing a post about some of these said products therefore I figured today would be as good as any time to start. Some of these products are favourites for many folk but they just didn't agree with me for various reasons so let me tell you why.

L'Oréal True Match Minerals Foundation | £14.99 - A product that seems to be liked by many, the L'Oréal True Match Mineral Foundation is a product I had such high hopes for for a number of reasons. Mineral makeup is so light and breathable on the skin and the likes of Lily Lolo have been mastering the mineral makeup art for years and have been of my favourites since I was around 18. So when I initially saw this L'Oréal offering I was hyped because it was a drugstore option that was going to be a little lighter on the skin, more skin like, and just a new and different formula of foundation that I hadn't tried in a very long time. It retails for around £15 which, for the drugstore, is quite pricey. I put the price aside as you seemed to get a decent amount of product for the price point and the packaging seemed great - it comes with its own buffing brush to apply the product to the skin and despite this being a cheap freebie, it actually works really well. So, why didn't I like it? I picked up the lightest shade as I'm usually the lightest or second lightest shade (depending on the tones as I'm quite yellow toned) and oh my days it's just so dark. Upon application, it first goes on quite well, looked like it might be a good match for me, but once it settles, it oxidises so badly on my skin that my face ends up several shades darker than the rest of my skin. It's such a shame because the actual formula is beautiful so if you aren't a pale princess, check this out as it doesn't settle into the pores and gives your skin a gorgeous healthy, natural yet airbrushed look, but it's just too dark for this friendly ghost.

Bourjois Delice de Poudre Bronzing Powder | £7.99 - I have mentioned this bronzer in a post before so I won't talk about it too much, but this was such a popular product when it was released that I, like everyone else, put it on my "to-buy" list. As you can see from the photos, I did actually really try to like this bronzer - it seemed quite a good shade in the pan (especially for pale skin) as it wasn't too orange and wasn't too dark but it applies so patchy. It's a very muddy bronzer and no matter what base I have tried to use with it, it just never sits right on my skin. I've got to be honest, since ditching foundation I haven't actually picked this bronzer up again so maybe I should try it on my bare skin and see if it applies better then but overall it would not be a bronzer I'd recommend. The one good thing about it is that I've found it doesn't give a lot of kickback when you swirl your brush in it, but weirdly that's not such a good thing too as it seems to make it incredibly difficult to pick up any pigment on the brush? Yeah, either way, this bronzer is a big booger for me.

Estée Lauder Sumptuous Bold Volume Lifting Mascara 8ml | £21.OO - This next product is something I didn't actually buy but I'm so happy I didn't spend any money on it because boy oh boy would I be mega disappointed if I had. Estée Lauder are a brand who often run really great offers in which you'll get a makeup bag full of goodies to try and test out alongside your purchases. This mascara was one of the things I got in one of said freebie bags and it's so awful. I've mentioned many times before that I'm not particularly loyal when it comes to mascara and it's the one product I will continuously switch out and experiment with but drugstore always tends to win it for me and it's products like this that sway my vote. This mascara promises to volumising and lift the lashes but what actually happens is it makes my lashes stick together so I look like I have around 3 - 5 on a good day - and they look extremely thin? I don't know how to describe it but they kind of look like my lashes do when they're wet rather than looking like they've got a fresh coat of mascara on. I have quite good lashes and can often get a good volumised look no matter which mascara I use but this one just made my lashes look worse than they do naturally. The worst thing about it though was that it also irritated my eyes. My eyes are quite sensitive as it is but I noticed that my eyes were watery whenever I tried to work with this mascara so it's definitely a one for the bin!

Topshop Lips in 'Nevada' | £8.OO - Oh lordy, this lipstick - where do I start? When I first purchased this lipstick, I was a little hesitant to try it not only because the bullet snapped in two, but also because I was unsure of the colour. Compared to the shade Topshop's website and the various swatches I had looked at online, Nevada was a much paler shade than I expected but I tried to persevere with it. It all failed though and I can now categorically say I do not like this lipstick. Topshop's lipsticks and their lip bullets are some of my favourite lipsticks out there on the highstreet but this shade is just a bum shade for me. The creamy consistency and moisturising feeling I've come to love the Topshop lipsticks for just doesn't seem to work for Nevada as it makes it almost impossible to apply an even coat of it as it always goes streaky no matter how many coats you apply or if you dab it on, apply it with a brush etc. - nothing works! I've also finally come to terms with my initial suspicions and yep, this shade is just not for me and my skin tone. It is a lippy that generally gets great reviews so it obviously isn't all bad, but I know I'm not one of its fans.

Maybelline Fit Me Foundation | £7.99 and Maybelline Fit Me Matte & Poreless Liquid Foundation | £5.99 - Okay so these next two products I've bundled together because I don't like either of them for the exact same reasons so first off, let's talk about the original Fit Me Foundation. This product was raved about all over the American beauty guru YouTube world so I was thrilled when it hit Boots. I (foolishly) ordered it online and ordered "Classic Ivory 12O" because I tend to be on the yellow side so the slightly darker ivory shades suit me better but my god what a mistake I made there. This shade is far too dark to be counted as a shade of ivory foundation and even after swatching the palest shade in store after this mishap, I can still confirm I would not be able to wear that one either as it too is too dark for me. Shade aside, I just really don't like the formula of this foundation. I absolutely *love* the concealer from the Fit Me range but the foundation is extremely thick-feeling on the face (this is coming from a girl who used to wear Estée Lauder Double Wear then Mac Studio Fix Powder on top!) and manages to make my oily skin even oilier in places yet dry and flaky too! At the same time as purchasing this, I also ordered the Matte & Poreless Liquid Foundation with the intentions of testing how both compared and differed and reviewing them on the blog. So of course, the same shade mishap was made and whilst this one does seem to have an even paler shade available than the original foundation, I still won't try that one out because this foundation made my skin feel gross too. Bearing in mind this foundation is meant to make you look matte and poreless, it actually made my skin feel tacky and sticky and it slips off the skin after 2 hours. Now, all my foundations get eaten up by my oils - even Double Wear - but this is gone after only a couple of hours and due to the horrendous colour range, it's extremely noticeable. So - can you tell I'm not a fan? I'll definitely be sticking to the concealer and pressed powder from this range only!

Rimmel Brow This Way Styling Gel | £3.99 - Before I fell in love with Sleek's Brow Kit, I would dabble in eyebrow products all of the time and after seeing great reviews for this Rimmel eyebrow gel I thought I'd give it a go. On first impressions, I was quite excited to try this gel as the shade of the dark brown option, whilst not actually dark brown in my opinion, looked quite ashy and therefore I figured it would look quite natural on my skin. But do you want to know the one and only reason I can't get on with this product? The spoolie is bloody massive! Naturally my eyebrows are pretty tiny but once I've filled them out with an eyebrow product, they become average and I thought that this gel could be the last step in my brow routine but wow, no thank you. Frida Kahlo may be an inspiration for me artistically but she can keep her brows. As the spoolie is so large, no matter how delicate and careful I am with the application, the gel ends up all over my forehead, in between my brows, sometimes even on my eyelashes! I really wanted to love this product but considering the spoolie is almost the size of a regular eyelash mascara, I just can't get behind it.

Rimmel Apocalips Matte Lip Lacquer in 'Orange-ology' | £6.49 - Rimmel is one of my favourite drugstore brands so it disheartens me to see two of their products in this post but damn, this lipstick and I do not get along. I first bought this when I was on the hunt for a bright vibrant orange lip shade and despite that being a regular shade that's available across many brands, I couldn't for the life of me find an alternative at the time. I had been intrigued to try these lip lacquers so I figured this would be killing two birds with one stone. Much like my other disappointing lip product, I find this Apocalips Lip Lacquer incredibly streaky to apply and I can never seem to get an even coat. I find the formula really thick to apply too so my lips feel uncomfortable with more than one coat. Another huge gripe I have with this product is that once you pull the applicator out of the tube, it seems to splatter product all over your surroundings and everything you love. Every time I tried to make this product work I always had to wipe it off the mirror after it had shat all over it and that's just something I could live without from my lipsticks y'know? That aside I just don't like the formula once on the lips and although it does seem to dry down eventually, it's much too sticky for my liking and reminds me of those cheap glosses we all wore as teens. Not a fan.

So that's just some of the disappointing products I seem to still have in my beauty stash. I love experimenting with makeup so I know I'm always going to come across products that don't quite float my boat but these ones have been huge letdowns for me and left me cursing myself for the wasted money and hope that they'd be great. Have you tried out any products that you really hate that others seem to enjoy using?

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