Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Vixen Thinks: Why Spending Bans Are Not The One

Ah, spending bans. They seem quite popular in the blogging world, particularly with product-obsessed beauty bloggers. I myself have attempted them on numerous occasions, some I've blogged about, some I've kept quiet, one was even successful. However, there's one thing I've recently decided: they're not actually such a good idea.

One thing I've never really spoken about on here is how anti-diet I am. I really don't like diets and I think this could make up a post in itself. My issue with dieting is that it often involves depriving yourself of something you really love, meaning you end up binging on something "forbidden" or it's only temporary, so once you've finished dieting, you end up right back where you started. 

I'm much more supportive of lifestyle changes, permanently adding healthier foods into your diet to create more balance and adding exercise to your routine.

Now, at the moment, I'm skint. Despite having my first full-time, graduate job (read: more money coming into my account than I've ever had), it turns out being a homeowner is pretty damn expensive, particularly when your home is a building site/money pit. As a student, I was pretty well off and didn't really need to scrimp and save as many others did, so this is the first time in my life that I genuinely have to set myself a budget and be really careful about where and how I spend my money.

Thing is, I really, really like shopping. At the moment, it's clothes I want. I want new workout clothes. I want new office clothes. I want new pretty dresses. Previously, I'd just buy them and figure out the logistics later, but obviously, I can't do it now because I've actually got some real responsibilities now. (Yeah, yeah, I've been spoilt until now, well done.)

My first thought was "I know, I'll have a spending ban until the house is finished and then I can use the money that was otherwise going on house-related necessities and go on a craaaazzyyy shopping spree."

And that's when I realised...spending bans are pretty much a restricted diet. 
  1. If I went down the spending ban route, I wasn't going to learn anything, I was just going to go straight back to my old habits once the ban was over, so really, what's the point?
  2. If I restrict myself from something, I am going to end up binging. Who knows how much longer it's going to take to get my house sorted, at some point, I was going to end up hauling before my "ban" was over.
No, my problems (your problems?) couldn't be solved by an outright ban. What I need is a lifestyle change. I've decided to adopt the "everything in moderation" rule in my life. I love shopping, I always will and I doubt that's ever going to change. 

What I need to learn is that I don't need everything I want, I don't need to buy everything at once, I need to remember that spending money on experiences is 99% more likely to be more valuable to me in the long-term than a new dress, I need some time to get used to having a real grown-up salary and the responsibilities that come with living away from home, without a student loan for the first time.

A spending ban was never, ever going to teach me any of this.

This is why I am boycotting spending bans. While they might work for some of you, they're just not for me. I've decided it's much more valuable for me to work out what money has to go on essentials like the mortgage, bills and renovation each month and use what's left to get me a little something nice. I'm still getting what I want, but I'm doing it responsibly. 

What do you think to my new approach to spending bans?

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Instavixen #9: a #100happydays Catch Up

Hello everyone, today I thought I'd update you all on my #100happydays challenge since I rounded up my first 50 a fortnight ago. Currently I'm about 2 days behind, which is silly, because there's plenty that makes me happy at the moment! I'm sure I will have caught up by the end of today though.

Day 51: I got a hair cut and so had to take a selfie to commemorate it!

Day 52: there's always the most beautiful flowers knocking around at my boyfriend's mum's house!

Day 53: cooking in my house makes it feel much more like a home, rather than a building site!

Day 54: the bank sent us a nifty little mortgage gift pack

Day 55: a delicious stir fry for tea

Day 56: me with some main league players and some of the Wiltshire Roller Derby Fresh Meat!

Day 57: I went back to Wakefield last weekend!

Day 58: I've been reunited with some of my possessions again, including one of my favourite jumpers

Day 59: I can fake perfect skin if I need to with new Arbonne CC Cream

Day 60: lamb curry for tea

Day 61: James cooked me some delicious chicken quesadillas after I cut my finger!

Day 62: I did an amazing homemade chicken satay

Day 63: I really enjoyed swapping my trainers for 8 wheels at roller derby

Day 64: went out for drinks with James and his friend Sophie from university, had an amazing night!

So, that's what I've been up to/has been making me feel good this past fortnight, what about you?

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Superdrug Vitamin E Exfoliating Body Scrub [Product Review]

I do love a good body scrub. While I initially became interested in them to see if they would enhance my fake tanning skills, my love for body exfoliators soon took over my fad of being tanned. This Superdrug offering from their Vitamin E collection is one I really liked.

As seems to be the case with most products I review these days, this really does smell so nice. The smell was definitely my favourite part of this product. Normally I use really fruity, sweet smelling shower products so this made an interesting change. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it smells very sophisticated, it's very pleasant and it even lasts on your skin for a bit afterwards.

It also performs very well. Admittedly a tube doesn't last very long as you do need to use a lot of it, but it's dead cheap I don't mind so much. I prefer a body scrub to be a bit grittier than one intended for your face and this was good. Nice and gritty without being too uncomfortable. As for how it left my skin, well, my skin was always so soft after using this, as well as being left feel brand new and ever so fresh. And yes, it helped even out my tan too.

Sadly, although I did initially repurchase a few times, it's one I won't be going back to now. This is because it has parabens in and I'm trying to avoid them.

What do you think of this scrub?

Friday, 11 April 2014

Missguided Haul

So, this is a weird one to be posting. It's now months out of date and was quite obviously filmed in my old house, but considering I put effort into filming and editing this I didn't want it to go to waste. Especially because I know it'll be a while before I can film anything fresh again too.

Before I moved down South, I decided to justify a Missguided haul (and a couple of Boohoo items too...) by claiming I "needed" more work-suitable clothes. The benefit of me posting this so late is that I can actually give proper reviews of each product as I've had chance to actually wear them now.

Black Cigarette Pants
After my list shift at Superdrug I vowed I'd never wear a pair of black trousers again, with the exception of my disco pants of course. However, when I laid eyes the numerous pairs of cigarette pants on the Missguided website, I realised I could probably make black trousers work for me. These ended up being one of my favourite items in the haul. They are flattering and high-waisted, along with being incredibly versatile. An essential part of my wardrobe. My only gripe is the zip on the side is a bit of pain.

Grey Cigarette Pants
These are even comfier than my black cigarette pants and they're a nice work appropriate alternative to wearing black all the time. Couldn't be more pleased with these and they look especially good with my new blazer.

Lace Blazer
When I saw this blazer I knew I had to have it. I have a Missguided dress in the same material and it's one of my favourites. Obviously I won't be wearing the two together though...A blazer is essential part of work wear if you ask me, and the lace on this one is sophisticated and a lovely twist on a plain block colour.

Pink Cigarette Pants
It was definitely the colour that drew me to these, it is absolutely perfect! Sadly they're in Wakefield at the moment so I haven't had much chance to style them yet.

Black and White Swing Vest Tops
Just standard cropped vest tops really, to wear with high-waisted trousers. I really adore these and wouldn't mind ordering some more.

Floral Kimono
OK, this was a bit of a naughty one, I admit. It's one of my favourite pieces now.

Boohoo Peplum Blazer
I wear this all the time. It literally goes with everything and the peplum makes it so flattering

Boohoo Boots
I miss these terribly, yet another item I've stupidly left in Wakefield. I did however wear them for my leaving night out, and I nearly made it all the way home wearing them. Could definitely get used to wearing heels again.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Vixen Thinks: Those Cancer Selfies

So, around the 17th March, all of a sudden, my Facebook newsfeed was suddenly littered with selfies of the various females I've befriended on the social network wearing no makeup. At first, I was confused. I could see no discernible reason why people were suddenly going barefaced. Eventually, I noticed one hashtag referencing cancer and I realised it was yet another Facebook "awareness" campaign.

Sorry, but this caused me to emit a groan.

Just like that ridiculous fad where the women in my life were posting "I'm going to [THIS PLACE]" or vague statuses about where they "like it" - I'm not overly impressed by the latest trend to hit Facebook, allegedly in the name of charity.

Now where do I start? One issue was that I'd seen a good 10 selfies before I saw any mention of a donation to charity alongside a naked face. At the end of the day, awareness is great, but it's cold hard cash for research and patient care which is going to make the difference in the end.

Secondly, I have an issue with the concept of awareness itself. It's 2014. Everyone knows what cancer is now and everyone knows it's bad. In fact, I'm not sure I know anyone who hasn't been affected by cancer in some shape or form. Awareness of the disease itself isn't the issue.

I'm also annoyed at the idea of taking a selfie with no makeup. While I don't doubt it's a big deal for some girls to post a picture of themselves wearing no makeup - hell, I'd die if a picture ended up on the Internet of my face right now in all it's adult acne glory - if we continue to act like girls wearing makeup is the norm and that going naked faced is a big deal, then it will continue to be a big deal. The last thing a supposed charitable campaign should be doing is teaching young girls that their naked face is something to be ashamed of.

On the other hand, are we likening daring to go without makeup to those women who have lost their breasts to breast cancer? I really bloody hope not, because you don't even need a random blogger like me on the Internet to tell you that a mastectomy CANNOT be likened to removing your makeup, however low your self esteem might be.

Look, I'm not slamming you if you took part in this. Good on you for wanting to help and especially well done to those of you who have donated alongside your selfie. But we really need to take a look at HOW we are trying to help.

First of all, we need to make it damn clear that in most cases, it's money that is going to help. Without money, we can't fund the nurses who look after cancer patients. Without money, we can't fund the research that discovers life saving drugs. Can't afford a donation? We've all got old clothing etc we don't want, why not donate that to a charity shop where someone will pay money. Worried about animal testing? There are cancer charities that do not test on animals. Everyone can make a contribution in some shape or form, but sadly, taking a picture of yourself isn't all that helpful - in fact, in a lot of cases it's just narcissism. Not only on the level of "oh look at me, I'm so charitable!" but I also suspect many people were looking for confidence boosting "you're soooo pretty without makeup" type comments.

As for the issue of awareness, like I said, everyone knows what cancer is now. What we need to do is raise awareness of how people can help. I mentioned above that everyone can help in some shape or form. This is what people need to know. They can help and they should be shown how they can help.

We also need to start catching cancer early. It's most treatable when it's caught early so why don't we start teaching people how to check their breasts? Why aren't we campaigning to get the minimum age for a smear test lowered? In fact smear tests in general - as I was living in Wales when I was 20 where they start offering smear tests at this age, I've experienced this and yes, it's uncomfortable but I would so much rather experience that and have the relief of knowing I'm healthy. This is the message that needs to be spread! We need to remove the stigma around men's health. We need to remember that there's more types of cancer just breast cancer and teach people the warning signs for cancer that hits us in other places. This is the awareness we need to be raising.

I'd also like to point out cancer charities (especially breast cancer charities) are not the only charities out there. Breast cancer awareness gets so much publicity that smaller, lesser known charities are often forgotten about. There are charities out there to help sufferers of any number of things, whether it be motor neurone disease to domestic violence victims. I'm not doubting the importance of cancer charities, I just don't like seeing other causes lost in the fray.

I love social media, I really do, but I worry about the effect that it will have on charity. Posting a picture or updating your status in the name of charity is so problematic. We all know it feels really good to help other people, but this false charity is making people feel good for doing nothing. We all want to appear as good people on the Internet, so we join in with these viral campaigns, but in actual fact, how much change are we actually creating? Until people are absolutely clear about what they are raising awareness for, until people are under no illusion that it's cold hard cash that makes the difference, until people start doing real things that cause real difference, I worry that Facebook "charity" is just people trying make themselves look good.

Of course, in the end, this selfie campaign did actually raises millions of pounds, so despite my criticism, I am starting to see some value in the effect the Internet has had on charity. I'd also like to point out that there's a difference between boasting about being "charitable" and promoting yourself to raise money for a good cause, for example, asking people to sponsor your mountain climb. In fact, I imagine you'll be seeing me asking for donations for something quite soon...I want to make it quite clear it's people "raising awareness" in questionable ways such as taking a selfie that I'm criticising, not people who donate and raise money for charity.

Are you doing anything exciting to raise funds for charity? I want to hear about that!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Arbonne Perfecting Liquid Foundation [Product Review]

Arbonne Products are sold entirely through a network of Independent Consultants. I am an Independent Consultant. If this review interests you and you decide to make a purchase, please use my Arbonne ID when asked for your consultant's ID: 441132670. Alternatively, you can use my Arbonne website. Although I am building a business with Arbonne, my opinions of these products are entirely my own and 100% honest. I could never build a business with a company I didn't wholeheartedly believe in. To read more about Arbonne, click here.
Liquid foundations are something I've always been troubled by. My oily skin type means they have a habit of sliding off my skin within an hour, leaving me wondering why I’d bothered in the first place. The better ones would manage to cling to certain parts of my face - again, not exactly flattering. I found those that did stay on were heavy and pore-clogging. Yeah, liquid foundation just wasn’t for me, I thought, and this was only solidified when I discovered my love for mineral powder foundations.

However, when I discovered Arbonne, it goes without saying I had to give the foundation a go, especially after glowing reports I’d heard. Yes, it’ll come as no surprise, I’m sure, if you’ve read any of my previous posts that Arbonne’s Perfecting Liquid Foundation changed my mind.

Granted, I still have issues. When my skin is particularly bad, it will slide off my forehead, while sticking to spots after a few hours wear. However, I’ve realised this is more my skin type than the fault of the foundation.

There are a number of reasons why I like the Arbonne foundation more than any other liquid varieties I have tried. For a start, despite my poor skin thwarting its attempts to stay on my face, it does stay on my face a lot longer than the foundations I’ve tried in the past. When my skin is behaving, I can trust it to stay put all day, with a touch-up only needed if I’m heading from work and going out afterwards.

It is also by far the lightest foundation I’ve ever used, with truly buildable coverage. Like sheer foundations? Go for this one. Like full coverage? Yeah, go for this one. One pump is probably enough for most people, but two or three can really build up coverage if you feel you need it. Even when you do build it up, it still feels so light on the skin and I always forget I’m wearing this - whereas with some other foundations, they can feel a little stifling.

I feel I should also mention here that method of application makes a difference too. A beauty blender-like appliance will give a soft-focus, very light finish, while a brush is better if you want more coverage.

I also like the consistency of this foundation. In particular, I remember the L’oreal Lumi Magique foundation being particularly watery and runny - I didn’t like that at all. On the other hand, there’s B.’s full coverage foundation that although I really liked, it was so thick it broke the pump! Arbonne’s offering sits comfortably in the middle - neither too runny, nor too thick.

The shade range is also impressive. I initially began using the palest shade on offer, because usually, with brands like Rimmel, even this is a tad too dark for my ghostly skin. So, imagine my shock when I decided I’d prefer a shade darker in the future. Of course I can’t comment on it personally, but I believe the foundations also go very dark as well as very light. Working in Superdrug taught me that foundations for dark-skinned ladies are few and far between!

So, my final verdict. This foundation is very good. However, I don’t think liquid foundations are quite right for my own personal skin type. If you’re after a hydrating foundation with customisable coverage and you have normal/dry skin, I think this could be perfect for you.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Style Icon: Electra Heart

all images from
Way back in January when I was still blissfully unaware of how much moving house would disrupt my blogging schedule, I started a new Style Icon feature on the blog. It would seem I enjoy the style of fictional characters, as today's post is nod towards Electra Heart, a character played by Marina of Marina and the Diamonds.

For the uninitiated, Electra Heart is Marina's alter-ego of sorts, a part she created to explore the role of women in society and pop culture. Electra was used to explore some female "archetypes," such as the sex symbol, the bitch, the homewrecker and so on. You can Google it and get a good idea of what I'm on about. A pretty damn good album was created in the process too.

All cleverness aside though, Electra had pretty damn good style. There's pink, there's cream, there's lace, there's fur and there's embellishments. Guess what? This all goes down very well with me! While I actually do have a fair few pieces in my own wardrobe that would not look amiss in this post at all, I'm always wanting to expand this part of my wardrobe.

There's something almost sixties about Electra's style and I really like the well-off housewife look. Writing that down doesn't sound so hot, but if you check the pictures I've included in this post, you'll see what I mean.

It's not just the clothing I like, it's really the entire aesthetic. I love the wide-eyed doll makeup, the fake beauty spot and even the "wear your heart on your cheek" thing too. I of course adore bleach blonde/silver hair and had it not destroyed my hair, it's a look I'd be happy to still be sporting today.

Electra Heart Inspired

To celebrate Marina's/Electra's style, I whipped up this demo outfit on Polyvore. I'd definitely pass on buying the exact pieces in this set, but the Missguided dress is something I'm seriously considering and similar items to the rest would be welcomed into my wardrobe.

Are you a fan of Marina and the Diamonds?

(I am, if that wasn't obvious yet!)