The Vixen Thinks: Why I've Started Reading Ingredients Obsessively

In August, I decided I wanted to be very strict about the ingredients that went into my products. I've known for a while that products containing parabens never really seemed to work too well for me and I also knew that my skin much preferred mineral makeup to your regular standard makeup. For a while though, I ignored the things I'd already figured out and used whatever I felt like and yeah, my skin paid dearly for this. I decided that I was going to start paying a little more attention to what was in my products and hopefully heal my skin in the process. I figured I'd go the whole hog and apply this to my hair care as well as my skin care. I did want to apply it to my makeup as well but I love the stuff too much to completely cut nasty products out so I've settled for using high quality base products instead and hoping the cheap blusher or whatever isn't too much of an issue! Now, before I carry on, I feel like I need to disclaim that I am not even remotely anywhere near an expert on the subject of ingredients in cosmetics at all. I just spoke to other people about what I should maybe be avoiding. I already knew I wanted to avoid parabens but I also decided to avoid mineral oil as well. 

So what difference has it made? Well, my skin has improved loads! I rarely get spots nowadays and when I do, it's alcohol or sleeping in my makeup related. As a result, I'm really happy with my skin as the only thing I'm still struggling to get rid of is my acne scarring. It's not just about the way my skin looks though, it feels absolutely incredible too. It's so soft and it feels much healthier. Combined with using a primer and foundation that are sans-nasties I think it has been really beneficial to start questioning the ingredients that go into my products. However it's my hair that has completely transformed since I stopped using products containing mineral oil in them. At the beginning of this year I tried to dye my hair brown after being very blonde for a very long time and the dye would just not take to my hair. My hair was completely wrecked. I was using every product and treatment under the sun to try and bring it back to life but every visit to the hairdressers had the same result: my hair was just not recovering. Within a week of using hair products full of silicone and mineral oil, my hair started coming back to life and I was finally able to dye my hair back to my natural brown colour. I'm so pleased!

Why has cutting parabens and mineral oil out of my routine worked so well for me then? I'm not so sure about why parabens helps me. The small amount of research I have done has shown me that it's possible there is a link between cancer and parabens however I don't think there's anything that's 100% conclusive on that. I suppose everyone's skin is different and while some people can seem to use anything with no consequences but mine must not like parabens very much. Mineral oil however, I do know why that's so bad and we shouldn't want it in our products. Basically the mineral oil in all the hair masks I had been using had been forming a barrier round my hair and stopping anything good actually getting into my hair and being able to work its magic. On the surface, my hair looked alright but the reality was the mineral oil was just masking the horrid condition my hair was actually in. I took this away and finally, my hair was able to breathe and recover properly. 

My journey into being informed about what goes into my products is only just beginning but now I'm realising how much cosmetic companies can actually get away with I'm wanting to learn more. Do you care about the ingredients in your products? Can you point me in the right direction to learn more about what I should be wary of?

E.L.F Baked Blushers in Pinktastic and Peachy Cheeky [Product Review]

Today I'm reviewing two shades of the E.L.F Baked Blushers: Peachy Cheeky and Pinktastic. I first saw these blushers on DivaMakeupQueen's YouTube channel when they were still a US only release. I knew from the moment I first saw them that I needed wanted these blushers and had to patiently wait for them to become available in the UK. Finally, one day, they arrived and so did a 50% off offer - it was time to make these bad boys mine.

If you've ever read this blog, you know I'm a fan of E.L.F, although I do think some products are of lower quality than others. In what camp do these blushers fall into then? Well...not only do I love them, I'd go as far as to say these are my favourite E.L.F products I have tried so far!

Firstly, Pinktastic. As I had seen this shade on YouTube before I bought it, I knew what to expect. This shade is definitely not a blush shade, it's more of a highlighter. As I knew this I wasn't disappointed, I went in with the expectation that I was going to be getting a gorgeous new highlighter and of course, I received a gorgeous new highlighter. This powder is silky soft and applies to my face beautifully. Although very shimmery, it translates onto the skin as a lovely soft glow. It's slightly more golden than E.L.F Gotta Glow and it's easier to work with as well. Although pigmented, it's easy to get just a small amount on your brush and so hard to go overboard.

Peachy Cheeky is, as it suggests, a nice peachy pink shade and this one doesn't disappoint either. Like Pinktastic, it's lovely and soft and oh so easy to blend. It is a little bit easier to apply too much of this one, but a light, steady hand when applying will soon sort this problem out. Together, with the Pinktastic shade, these two make a beautiful combination on my skin that I will never tire of.

Even the packaging is good - I love how you can see through to the product in side so there's no opening and closing trying to find the right product. I do however, worry about how sturdy the packaging is and I don't think this is a product I'd risk taking on my travels with me.

What do you think of these beauts?

Singing in the Rain

Outfit Details: 
Umbrella: Primark
Cardigan: Primark
Top: Primark
Disco Pants: eBay
Boots: eBay
Watch: everything5pounds
Headbands: Claire's Accessories

Makeup Details:
Face: Arbonne Primer, Arbonne Foundation, Arbonne Concealer, BareMinerals Ready Veil
Cheeks: Arbonne Bronzer, Arbonne Highlighter
Eyes: Youngblood Eyeshadow Quad in Vintage, Rimmel Scandaleyes Eyeliner in Nude, Arbonne It's a Long Story Mascara
Lips: Limecrime Lipstick in Glamour 101

Nails: Barry M Nail Paint in Nude

Red. It's not one I'm known for wearing is it? In fact, as soon as I got this top home, I was a bit like "oops, shouldn't have done that, impulse buying strikes again." It wasn't until my sister saw it and declared she wanted it that I thought I better give it a go. I decided I'd take some outfit photographs wearing it so I could decide once and for all whether it was a good idea or not. So, the verdict? It's a resounding yes, I really, really love this outfit! I love crop tops anyway, particularly ones that are actually cropped on my short 5"2 frame but I think they look wicked with disco pants. Paired with my new favourite cardigan and my old favourite boots, I've stumbled onto a winner. Much to the disappointment of my sister...

However, my most favourite discovery of wearing red is wearing red lipstick to match it. Although I love Lime Crime's Glamour 101 shade, apart from wearing it to a few Christmas parties including the one where I dressed up as a Christmas Pudding (heh, good times), I've always been a bit too scared to wear it. No more! I've decided I really love red lipstick and am now eyeing up a few more to add to my collection. I think the addition of my E.L.F Lip Lock pencil to my routine has really helped because it stops it bleeding. I'm also really pleased with my new eyeshadow palette by a brand called Youngblood. I was lucky enough to win this in a competition, what a year it has been for me giveaway wise!

Oh, I guess you're wondering about the umbrella? As I'm sure you UK folk have noticed, we haven't been getting the nicest weather recently but I really wanted to get these photographs so out came the umbrella with me. Funny story: as I step outside to take this I went skidding everywhere and fell flat on my face. I even caught it on camera but funnily enough, that photograph didn't make the cut. I assure it was more amusing than painful though...just ;)

How do you feel about wearing red?

B. Refined Exfoliating Cleanser [Product Review]

Now firstly, let me explain: since I discovered Arbonne I have found it very difficult to appreciate any other brands of skin care. I've suddenly become very critical of everything and I don't trust anything I can get on the high street. I know I can trust Arbonne and the ingredients in those products so why would I care about anything else? That being said, this is a beauty blog and it would be a shame for all the products I used previously to discovering Arbonne to go to the depths of my mind rather than giving them proper air time on this blog. So, I'm going to try and give this little exfoliator by beauty brand B. a fair review!

Along with the B. Micellar water this is just one of two skincare items by B. that I have tried and to be honest, I wasn't disappointed with this. Initially it was a bit of a shock for me to use. Previously to this I had been using Lush Ocean Salt which is a lot harsher and a lot grittier than this. In comparison, B.'s offering is extremely gentle and not something I would describe as gritty at all although it was still something I could definitely class as an exfoliator. One thing I liked about this cleanser/exfoliating hybrid was its delicate smell; while you couldn't class it as not fragranced, its smell was so soft and nice to me that I doubt anyone anywhere would find it offensive.

As for how well it worked? It didn't have any huge, noticeable benefits and certainly nothing long term but after use my skin would feel a lot less oily and it would always thoroughly cleanse my skin. It would leave my skin looking and feeling fresh and a little bit brighter. For the price I paid, it wasn't half bad.

What do you think of B. skincare?

When Your Outfit Matches Your Blog...

Outfit Details:
Denim Jacket: Topshop
Pastel Sheer Shirt: Cafe Society
Charcoal Disco Pants: eBay
Shoes: Vivienne Westwood via eBay

Makeup Details:
Lipstick: Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in Pink Blush
(can't actually remember the rest, oops.)

E.L.F Mint Green, Barry M Strawberry Ice Cream, Barry M Berry Ice Cream and eBay Nail Glitters

So I've had this top for ages so when I put it on, I didn't think anything of it. I was feeling creative that day so I decided to do my nails to match and have a play with the nail glitters I bought in my last eBay haul. It wasn't until I stepped out of the house that I realised that actually, I had done my outfit and nails to match my blog layout as the colour schemes are so so so similar! I actually really like the idea of matching my outfit to my blog, I feel like a proper brand now. If only I'd gone round handing my business cards out on this day! Ah well :)

I love this sheer shirt. I bought it in my last year of university when I was meant to be looking for something entirely different but I just couldn't resist. Since then I've worn it a lot when it has been warmer but mainly with my pink skinny jeans. It was on a whim that I decided to pair it with my charcoal disco pants but looking back, I think it works. I decided to be pretty minimal with my accessories because I think it works as a very simple outfit. Not to mention I couldn't actually fasten and unfasten the necklace I originally planned with my nails on...

This was worn for one of my regular coffee dates in Leeds. At the moment I feel like I only ever get dressed to do that or go to work. In fact, at the minute, I only feel like I get dressed to go to work. Admittedly I've just had two days off and I've worn a nice outfit each day but I haven't actually gone anywhere...

Bit of a ramble this one wasn't it?! Would you ever dress to match your blog layout?

Lush Herbalism [Product Review]

A few months ago, it would appear that I went completely Lush mad and decided I want to try ALL THE THINGS. As I had positive results with things like Brazened Honey and Ocean Salt, it spurred me on to try more of their skin care. When another blogger commented on one of my reviews saying I might like Herbalism, I decided to give it a go and when I saw it pop up in a blog sale, I just couldn't say no. As it's intended for spotty, oily and troubled skin, I figured this could be a wonder product for me. 

Sadly, I had two main issues with this product which meant it could never make its way onto my favourites list. Firstly, I really, really hate the smell of this cleanser. While I started to get used to it towards the end of the tub, I would never say I found it pleasant which is a problem because I am like a LOT more likely to wash my face if my cleanser smells nice and I don't think I'm alone here. Secondly, I found it seriously hard to work with. I've never used a cleanser that's similar to this and I hope I don't find one again. (Unlikely because I am Arbonne4lyf now...) It's a weird, thick, green concoction that you're meant to run under water first to turn it into a paste but I could just never get the hang of it. 

That being said, I did notice this product doing what it claimed to. My oiliness wasn't such a huge issue while I was using this and it didn't aggravate my skin or make it any worse than it already was. It might even have improved my skin a little while I was using it although not in any miraculous way. If you're looking for a relatively affordable cleanser to keep oily skin at bay, this might just be the product for you. It was also very good at removing the makeup on my face but due to its weirdness I never tried using it on my eyes so I don't know how it would fare with eye makeup. 

Not one I'll be buying again, but I wouldn't call it a bad product and to be honest, I can imagine it working well for other people who can get to grips with it. Have you tried this?

Purple Velvet

Outfit Details:
Headband: Claire's Accessories
Cardi: Primark
Top: Miss Selfridge
Skirt: eBay
Leggings: H+M
Doc Martens: Oxfam
Necklace: gift

Makeup Details:
Face: Arbonne Primer, Arbonne Foundation, Arbonne Concealer, BareMinerals Ready Veil
Cheeks: Arbonne Bronzer, Arbonne Highlighter
Eyes: Urban Decay Eyeshadows in Bordello and Rockstar, Rimmel Scandaleyes Eyeliner in Nude, Arbonne It's a Long Story Mascara
Brows: MUA Matte Eyeshadow in Shade 19, Maybelline Brow Drama in Medium Brown
Lips: E.L.F Matte Lip Colour in Tea Rose

Xtras Nail Polish (shade unknown, sorry!) and Models Own Boogie Nights

The more I take a look at these photographs, the more I like this outfit! What feels like ages ago now, I hopped on a train to Preston to go see my dear friend Orla from university. After not seeing her in forever since I left uni, she has ended up moving only an hour away from me to do her postgrad at UCLAN where my sister is doing her undergrad at the moment too. We had such a good day of catching up on each other's gossip, sitting in the pub, eating distinctly not vegetarian meals (naughty Orla!) and I washed it all down with a few glasses of wine. It was such a good day and I can't wait to do it all again on Friday.

This fluffy black cardigan I bought from Primark has fast become one of my most worn items since I bought it. I absolutely adore it. It's so fluffy and lovely and most importantly at the moment, warm. As it's black it goes with a huge percentage of my wardrobe and its furriness makes it just a little bit more interesting than your standard black cardigan. Both the top and the skirt in this particular outfit are two that really need to get out more. The floral vest top is actually years old now and I wore it to death when I first got it but recently it has been sadly neglected. It is admittedly a little rough around the edges now but I still really like it so I intend to keep it until it really does fall apart. Paired with my purple velvet skirt I think it's a dream as previously I'd just wear it with black. The purple on purple just makes it more interesting if you ask me and I'm pleased with how I pulled the pairing off. I decided to wear my little amethyst necklace my boyfriend brought me back from his European roadtrip this year and it really is the perfect little necklace for this outfit if you ask me. 

I decided to aim for a grungy look as I think the cardigan can definitely be worked this way which is where my spiky Claire's headband comes in and my beloved Doc Martens. I've decided I do actually wear this quite often so this seasons aim for me is to give my pink ones more air time on the blog so watch out for that! My black ones though are absolute classics and work so well with this outfit. When I wear purple, my makeup just has to match so of course out came the purple eyeshadows and lipstick. I opted for the more subtle Tea Rose colour on my lips so I could go all out with my Urban Decay purples. I absolutely adore wearing Bordello and Rockstar together, I think it looks fantastic. If I do this look again though, I reckon I'd add a little flick of black eyeliner too to finish it off.

Overall, I'm pleased with this outfit as a whole. What do you think?

Relocation, Relocation, Relocation!

So yesterday, I decided to have a little look see at my 22 Before 23 list and I got to update some of the items on there, hooray! Perhaps the most exciting thing for me though is the fact that my item about moving out of my mum's home for good is finally becoming a reality. My boyfriend and I have been planning to live together for quite a while now but recently we started seriously thinking about making it a reality. We'd been looking at logistics, like where we would move, how we would afford it, what we wanted and so on and last week we started looking at actual houses. Sadly due to work I haven't been able to attend any of the viewings my boyfriend has been to but I've certainly been stalking Right Move with him. On Friday night, James came down to see me and he was so eager to show me the latest house he'd had a look at. After having a look at it and announcing I loved it, I asked him what the next step was. At this point he broke the news to me: he'd placed an offer on the house and it had been accepted! I was ecstatic!

Of  course, it's a little crazy that I'm planning on moving to a town I've only been to once, and when I say once, I mean I've been to a restaurant there for a few hours and that's it. It's insane that I've agreed to live in a house that I haven't actually seen myself yet but I suppose this all comes with the territory. I am desperate to move out of my family home and I've known for a very long time that I do not want to live in Wakefield forever. One thing I want almost more than anything else is for my long distance relationship to no longer be long distance. It goes without saying I've seen a chance to get exactly what I want and I've gone for it! Yeah, it feels weird I haven't done things the traditional way: picking out an area I want to live in and viewing properties myself but I'm definitely doing things in my way. I've been a perfectionist for too long, trying to control every aspect of my life and trusting my boyfriend to choose us somewhere decent to live has been oddly liberating.

I'm really so excited to see the next chapter of my life unfolding in front of me. University was the best three years of my life, I loved my independence and soon I will have this back. When I move I am hoping to be working full time so I will have the same sort of financial situation I did when I had my student loan, grants and part time wage. This means I will be able to exercise full control over my diet again. I will be able to afford to choose and buy my own food and it means Operation Healthy Lifestyle can well and truly begin. I'm also excited because moving to a totally new area is full of opportunities. When I started university I was incredibly shy and reserved and part of me regrets not diving head first into my new life straight away and fully immersing myself in the university lifestyle. This time I've promised myself to be brave. I'm planning on taking things like yoga classes and really reaching out to my new work mates down there. My life is really on the brink of completely transforming, forever and for the better and I can't wait.

When I think back to the beginning of 2013, I could have never imagined my life would look like it does now. I have worked so hard to bring myself out of a depression that had lingered around me for years and now it's finally paying off not just inside my head, but in a way that other people can see on the outside too. I still struggle with myself and to be honest, it's still on a daily basis, but having results like this, knowing I am finally getting what has been my biggest wish for so long: my own place to live, a new start, just cements the idea in my head that what I am doing is working and my life is what I want.