Upgrading your Camera

A camera is one of my most important tools for blogging. I currently use a Canon 1100d and though it’s a decent camera for a beginner, I’m looking to upgrade it in the next few months as I want to improve my photos and get something a bit smaller in size. 

When I first chose my camera, I had a little look around the internet for the latest reviews. Obviously, buying a digital camera isn’t cheap and when you’re spending £££’s you don’t want to end up with something you’re going to end up regretting. Luckily, my camera has served me well but its not perfect. I think because my needs have changed, I’m now looking for something with a bit extra.
When you’re choosing a camera, I think its best to choose one that you’re going to be able to get a lot of use from. If you’ve been using a regular digital camera, you might want to take a step into the world of dslr’s. These can be expensive, especially if you’re buying lenses too. Lenses can actually be more expensive than the camera body. I’d actually probably recommend looking at a bridge camera first, if you want to get one a little cheaper.

The main setback of a dslr or bridge camera is the bulkiness. If I want to take it out and about, it’s a no-no as it just wont fit in my bag. For my next camera purchase, I’m looking into buying a compact systemcamera. A lot of these are smaller and less bulky so they’re super easy to fit in your handbag. You can still get great pictures with them and film videos too. I’m thinking about filming something soon so this function is pretty important. You can also buy lenses too for compact system cameras so you can get various types of pictures. 

I'll be shopping around before I make a final decision on the camera I want. Do you have any recommendations?

*sponsored content but I am genuinely searching for a new camera!

Dior Star AKA The Foundation of Dreams

I've mentioned Dior Star foundation* briefly in the past but I think its time for a dedicated blog post. Dior Star is a fairly under hyped foundation in the beauty world and I'd go as far as saying its an underrated gem. 

This is my first step into the world of Dior foundation. I'm a fan of Dior beauty in general so I had high hopes for this product and I haven't been disappointed. Housed in a glass bottle with pump, Dior Star has light to medium coverage with a 'my skin but better' finish. I've seen some reviews say that it has a dewy finish and I disagree. I'd say its somewhere middle of the road - it leaves skin looking healthy and radiant. What makes it stand out from the crowd is the texture and finish. I absolutely love that it feels light on the skin and it has good coverage. You do need to use concealer for any blemishes or redness but I find it helps to smooth pores. I use the lightest shade which does look a little dark in the bottle but once blended into the skin, its perfectly fine for my porcelain skin tone. 

This would be my holy grail base if it wasn't for one flaw - the oil control. Having a very oily t-zone, this foundation needs blotting every few hours. If you've got very oily skin, you might want to give it a miss but for normal/slightly dry and combination its perfect. Despite this, I still highly rate it as a brilliant base and if you're searching for a high end foundation then its highly recommended!There currently 20% off at Escentual here

Have you tried any Dior foundations?

5 Steps To Go From Blogger To Freelancer

It's been a year since I made the switch to freelance work. Its possibly the best decision I've made but also a scary/exciting and relatively crazy one. There is no blueprint for exactly how you should make the step into freelance employment. I pretty much jumped straight into the deep end and hoped it would work out. At the time, I was in a place of 'if I don't do this now, I'll never do it'. As its something I've been wanting to do for a while (ever since school, I always dreamt of being self employed and doing my own thing) I decided to take a leap of faith and follow my dreams. I have a post coming up over on Diary of a Freelancer on the lessons I've learnt but for now, I thought I'd give a few pointers that might help you if you're thinking of going into freelance work at some point. 

1. Get experience
A relatively straightforward approach. You don't necessarily need experience writing for different publications as writing on your own blog is putting yourself out there. As blogs generally have an informal tone, I'd recommend writing a few formal articles on your blog that you can add to your portfolio or attach as part of applications. If you're willing to write for companies for free to get experience, have a look on indeed and search for 'blogger' or 'writer' in the search bar as jobs are always popping up on there. You could also ask to guest post on other blogs too. 

2. Write a cover letter/about me 
For many freelance jobs, you may not need to send your CV. To give you an idea, I'm only just putting a CV together after a year of freelancing so at this point you really don't need one to get jobs. However, clients do want to know about what you can do - your skills, experiences, areas of expertise. Its handy to have a cover letter or an about me letter that you can send to clients when applying for jobs. If you're applying via a freelance site or via email, you'll need one. It will sound professional and help you to get that vacancy. I'll be going through this in detail very soon but for now, I'd suggest the following;

Introduce yourself
What you do - for instance, a freelance writer, designer etc
Your key skills - an example, SEO, html, photoshop etc
What you offer - a high standard of creative writing, for example.
An example of your work - link to it if you can or include it with your application.
Sign off.

This is just a very basic template but I will go thorough an example of this on my other blog very soon. 

3. Don't be afraid to use freelancing sites
There are a few freelancing sites on the net - I'd recommend using people per hour and upwork. Granted, there are a few low paid jobs on there and you have to sift through to find the good ones but its possible to get decent jobs on there and earn a decent income. I'd also suggest looking on indeed and other job sites for freelance work as well.

4. Don't set your sights too high
When you're starting out, you don't want to price your services too high as it may end up losing you work. In the beginning, I took lower paid jobs while I built up my portfolio. What you want to earn is obviously up to you but I generally think of it in terms of an hourly wage. Ask yourself how much work you can do in an hour? If say, thats writing 500 words then what you charge for a 500 word article would equal an hourly rate. Once you build up your experience, you'll be able to charge more for your skills.

5. Don't put your eggs in one basket
Sticking to writing in one niche will limit the type of work that you get offered. Try to write content in several areas. For instance, I started out writing in beauty but I'm now working more towards the travel and real estate sectors. Obviously, you don't want to spread yourself to thin. I'd also recommend getting experience in sales writing or marketing if you can as this is where many higher paid jobs are. 

I hope this was somewhat helpful if you're thinking of making the transition to freelance work. Getting started is the hardest part but once you have a few jobs under your belt, its really easy to keep getting regular work providing your offer a good service to clients.

Summer Repurchases

Do you ever find that you always seem to use up products at the same time? I still have a list of products that I need to repurchase but I made the start by picking up these three beauty gems.
I don't mind paying more for a beauty product if its something that really works. Saying that, I am a slight snob when it comes to skincare and I hate to admit that but I just find that the majority of drugstore skincare doesn't work that well on my skin. 

My ultimate favourite face mask is the Antipodes Manuka Honey Mask. This stuff is the bomb for giving your complexion a bit of TLC. Its the perfect treat if your skin is stressed, dull or just in a need of a pick me up. I also find its great for soothing blemishes and redness too. The honey scent is divine which makes it a real pleasure to use. My skin always feels clean, balanced and fresh after use and I'd highly recommend it for the majority of skin types. I got mine from Beauty Bay here as its a little cheaper than elsewhere. 

Now and again, I tend to suffer with dryness around my mouth. I actually think it may have been down to a toothpaste I was using as switching hasn't caused any problems (touch wood) so far. The best product I've found for dealing with extreme dryness is the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. Now, this oily cream doesn't have the most pleasant of scents. However, it is really effective on soothing and restoring dry or sore skin. I've used this on my elbows, feet, nose (its good to use in winter when you have a bad cold!) and its really does work a treat! You can also use it as a lip balm too. I only use this product at night as it does smell quite strong and its one of those oily balms that doesn't absorb well. Despite that, I've been through a few tubes of this stuff and its one I always come back too when I have any dry patches that need sorting. Its fairly cheap to pick up at All Beauty for £12.25 here. 

My hair is pretty fried right now so I've been using the Redken Extreme Anti-snap Treatment to try and strengthen the ends (a hair cut is required stat!). I've had a few bottles of this and it really makes my hair feel stronger and healthier. I'd recommend it for damaged or dry hair that needs a boost. You use this cream on your hair before heat, though I use it on dry hair too. It helps to soften and smooth and it smells incredible too. Its not super cheap but I've yet to find anything that does a similar job in making the ends of my hair look better. You can find it here at Feel Unique.

Next on my repurchase list - Kiehls Avocado Eye Cream and Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer.

Have you tried any of these products?

Soap & Glory Peach Party

I feel like I haven't blogged for ages and in truth, this little space has been neglected over the past month or so. Life has just gotten in the way recently and to be honest, I felt like I needed a break. However, I'm slowly easing myself back into blogging and thought I'd begin with a product I've been using consistently over the past few weeks. 

Soap & Glory doesn't need any introduction. I'm probably more interested in their makeup line than their body and skincare range as there's some real gems in there. Peach Party is officially a blush but I've been using it as a highlighter and its become a real staple in my makeup bag. 

Peach Party has several shimmery segments that resemble neapolitan ice cream. I guess you could use them separately if you have a very small brush, however they work best when swirled together with a fluffy face brush. The result is a shimmery peachy pink shade that would work well on a variety of skin tones. I personally find this too shimmery to be used as a blusher but as a highlighter, its perfect! It lasts a decent amount of time on the skin and creates luminosity wherever you apply it. For £11, its a job well done!

Restoring Damaged Nails

If you’re like me then your nails become damaged fairly quickly. When it comes to caring for my nails, I have a few tricks up my sleeve in order to try and restore my nails back to full health.  
I find things like doing the housework, cleaning or just day to day things cause my nails to become weak. A poor diet or overall heath can also cause damaged nails as can wearing artificial nails. A few products I use to help strengthen my nails include;

Applying a nail hardener
As nail plates often become brittle and thin, using a nail hardener will help to strengthen and condition the nails. I like the Sally Hansen ones as they’re relatively affordable and do a good job of helping to restore the nails. Its best to use a nail hardener sparingly as over using can encourage nails to become too hard and split. Once a week is more than enough.

A hand cream
I like to use a hand cream in the evening to soften my hands and promote healthier nails. I try to use one formulated with vitamin E for best results.

A nail oil
Using a nail oil helps to strengthen your nails and cuticles. You can either apply a nail oil to a cotton pad and swipe over the entire nail or apply to the cuticle area and massage in. I normally massage an oil into my cuticles as a treatment. I do this once or twice a month in combination with other products mentioned in this article.

Nail buffer
If you have ridges on your nails then using a nail buffer is the best way to treat them. Gently buffing over the nail will help to smooth any ridges and make nail polish application look flawless. As I suffer from ridges, I apply a nail ridge filler too as a base coat for nail polish.

Wear gloves
I always wear gloves in winter as the cold weather can really affect your hands and nails. It’s also a good idea to use gloves for household chores too. Water can really be damaging so for chores like washing up, it’s best to keep your hands protected.

Daily vitamin
As I’m not the healthiest person in the world in terms of diet (I’m really trying to stop eating junk food!) I take a daily vitamin to get some essential vitamins and minerals. Even if you have a decent diet, you might still need added vitamins or even a calcium tablet to strengthen your nails.

Avoid smoking
As it happens, I don’t smoke but I know how damaging it can be for your health. Smoking actually causes nails to become dry, damaged and yellow, so avoiding it will definitely encourage you nails to be healthier.

A professional treatment
Sometimes, I prefer to go for a professional manicure as a treat. I don’t paint my nails that often but when I do, having a manicure or just getting my nails painted by a technician is a real bonus. If you fancy a professional nail or beauty treatment then check out bookyourlifestyle for the latest deals.

*posted in collaboration with bookyourlifestyle

Getting Summer Beauty Ready With M & S

Now summer has finally arrived (hello heatwave!) I'm trying to change up my beauty routine to suit the weather. Marks and Spencer recently got in touch to share some of the amazing brands and summer beauty products they stock. I've purchased a few beauty products already from my local store as they stock brands that I struggle to find elsewhere on the high street and I like that the beauty section is bright, clean and well set out. When it comes down to my summer tips, theres a few things I do to get into hot weather mode!

Scrub, scrub, scrub!
I enjoy using a body scrub all year round but when I know that my skin is going to be more exposed then I concentrate on problem areas. Areas that are prone to dry skin need a good scrub. On my knees, elbows and even feet, I like to use a scrub, such as the Rituals Hamman Hot scrub*. This salt scrub is really rich meaning its ideal for really dry areas. It leaves my skin feeling really soft and super smooth after use. 

Get a glow on!
Being as pale as a milk bottle means having a tan isn't the norm for me and when I do, its usually faux. However, that doesn't mean I dont enjoy glowing skin. Nuxe are one of my favourite brands and a great product from them is the Prodigieux Shower Oil*. This oil contains a golden shimmer and has a soft fragrance. It leaves my skin feeling like velvet and is just an all round lovely shower product.

Tone up!
OK, so I'm pretty lazy when it comes to working out - anyone else go through exercise fads? Luckily, theres a few products that can help. The Fat Girl Slim Arm Candy* is designed to provide a smoother and more toned appearance. I've only just started using this but the cream feels firming and I like the massage applicator. 

Rock a bright lip!
Summer is the perfect time to wear bright lipstick. A bright lip is so easy to wear and I love that you can wear it with minimal eye makeup. The Diego Dalla Palma Matt Lipstick* in 198 is a beautiful pink/red that's not overly bright but still packs a punch. The consistency is creamy and leaves a matte finish without feeling drying!

Cool down!
After being exposed to the sun, its a good idea to use products that will help to moisturise the skin. The Ultrasun Overnight Summer Skin Recovery Mask* is a lightweight moisturiser enriched with hyaluronic acid. I've been using this in place of my moisturiser and it feels cooling, soothing and hydrating. Despite being labelled as a summer skin product, you could easily use this all year round as it makes a lovely light moisturiser that's suitable for all skin types due to it absorbing instantly and not leaving any residue. 

Strawberry & Cranberry Smoothie with Kenwood Smoothie 2 Go Maker

I'm forever trying to get healthy. Usually I begin a healthy eating plan and fall at the first hurdle so I've decided to try some baby steps instead. I'm not the greatest cook but even I can put together a few ingredients to make a smoothie, especially with a good blender. Whipping together a few smoothies is so easy with the Kenwood Smoothie 2 Go Maker*. Unlike other blenders I've used, I find the smoothie maker is easy to clean, takes seconds to blend the ingredients together and transforms into a travel mug so you can take your smoothie with you on the go! It also has an ice crushing function too! I'd highly recommend it for anyone new to making smoothies as its easy to use and affordable.

My favourite smoothie to make at the moment is a delicious strawberry and cranberry smoothie. This is one you'll enjoy if you have a sweet tooth like me!

A handful of strawberries
Half a small banana
250ml of cranberry juice

Simply place the ingredients into the mixing jug on your smoothie maker and blend. Pour into a glass and serve. If you're being extra healthy, you could add a few flax seeds or even a little coconut. 

Are you a smoothie fan?

A Change of Name...

I think its around 2 weeks since I last blogged on here, which feels like a lifetime. This is the longest break I've had since starting this space over 3 years ago but its feels good to have taken the time to refresh and have some time off. In reality, I've been working and adjusting to life with a little kitten (she's super cute!). You may have noticed that I've changed my design and blog name too. There was nothing wrong with my old blog name Sweet Electric but I always wanted my name as part of my blog name. Unfortunately I dont have a cool name, so Oh Zoe will have to do. I've got loads to blog about and I'm itching to get started again. I'll also be resuming posting on my other blog Diary of a freelancer too as well as some other things I've got in the pipeline! Stay tuned xxx

The Best Mid-High End Lipstick Formulations

Despite owning a lot of lipsticks, I don't really have many mid to higher end options. However, those that I do have, I tend to wear a lot. The most luxurious packaging award in my collection has to go to the YSL rouge volupte shine lipstick in pink in confidence - you can see a swatch here. I find this lipstick is really hydrating and lightweight. It leaves a glossy shine and is just really easy to wear. If you're looking to splash out on a lipstick, I would definitely recommend trying one from this range.

For a matte formulation, I adore the Clinique long last soft matte lipstick in mandarin - swatched here. This lipstick is basically everything a matte lipstick should be - creamy, pigmented and comfortable to wear. I don't see this lipstick mentioned much but honestly its a great matte formulation and is fairly long wearing too.

For mid range, I really like the Urban Decay revolution lipstick in naked - swatched here. I rate this formula over MAC lipsticks. If you've read this blog for a while, you may have seen me mention that I'm not a massive fan of MAC lipsticks. I love the shade range but I find their formula's to be drying on my lips. The Urban Decay revolution lipsticks are creamy, comfortable and feel luxurious on the lips. Naked is a great nude pink shade and highly wearable. Again, these aren't a lipstick I see mentioned that much anymore, which is a shame as they really are a great lipstick.

I know a lot of people are either a gloss or lipstick girl but I love both. My favourite glosses are the Laura Mercier lip glaces. These are amazing and well worth the price tag. They feel really glossy, hydrating and add a hint of colour. Another gloss that I like are the Clarins instant light natural lip perfectors. I don't really rate Clarins makeup but these are by far the best product I've tried from them. I do think they're slightly overpriced for what they are but they feel comforting, moisturising and add a slight hint of colour. 
A gloss that's surprisingly good is the Lancome lip lover lip gloss. These are a hybrid of a gloss and balm with the colour of a lipstick all in one. I got a mini one in a set at Christmas and I was pretty blown away by how good it is. It's highly pigmented, glossy and moisturising, doing exactly what it says on the tin. Highly recommended. 

Have you tried any of these lip products?

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Amara Amara Rose Quartz Drop Earrings from Jewel Street

Jewel Street is an online marketplace for branded jewellery. You'll find pieces ranging from around £10 up to high end and over 250 independent designers. I recently had the opportunity to try a piece of jewellery and I opted for the gorgeous Amara Amara rose quartz circular drop earrings - you can find them in aqua here.

These earrings are set in 18ct gold vermeil and are perfect for adding a little glamour to an evening outfit. I don't wear a lot of jewellery apart from earrings, so I like to have something that can add a bit of elegance. These drop earrings feel lightweight, which is ideal for someone like me who just cant wear heavy earrings. They arrived in a presentation box, so if you're thinking of gifting someone a piece of jewellery then the Amara Amara collection is perfect. 

What I like about Jewel Street is that they support small designers by taking a smaller percentage of revenue than other retailers. There's also a 30 day money back guarantee on every purchase, so the buyer is covered too. With jewellery designers from all over the globe, theres definitely something for everyone - if you love rose gold, then check out the offerings as there are genuinely some really nice pieces. 

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An Interview with The Bare Faced Chic

As its spring, I've given the blog a little makeover - I think it needed a refresh and I'm pleased with how its turned out. Today, I have an interview with the lovely Michelle from the blog The Bare Faced Chic. Michelle advertised with me last month and I wanted to get to know her a bit better. If you'd like to advertise then check out my page here with all the details. 

Hi Michelle, what made you decide to start a blog?

Being blessed throughout the majority of my life with the ‘Peter Pan’ gene, I've never hesitated to share my age with anyone who showed the slightest bit of interest. My revelation was usually followed by – but you can’t be or, you look much younger! Which, of course, I loved.Then, at the age of 42, I met my other half and we embarked on an amazing, romantic, fun and fizz filled journey from courtship to wedded bliss – also know as eating junk, not exercising, drinking too much and generally riding that heady roller coaster towards ill-health, obesity and all the glorious complications that these two little beauties bestow. Suddenly the compliments dried up. I not only looked my age, but boy did I feel it – and then some! Piling two and a half stone onto my rather small frame not only gave me a chin that Jabba the Hut would have been proud of, but every joint in my body ached, my skin was in a terrible state and my hair was limp and lifeless. 

With my 50th birthday hurtling towards me faster than Usain Bolt I decided to take the bull by the horns, get off my more than generous  backside and try to hit that milestone looking and feeling my best. I wanted to feel good in my own skin again: hence The Barefaced Chic. I also wanted a platform to share my kick-ass attitude to ageing. A lot of women seem to think they will become invisible when they hit 50 and are struggling with the ageing process. If The Barefaced Chic can sweep away a tiny piece of their self-doubt and help them enjoy their lives, no matter how many candles are on their cakes, then I'll be one happy bunny!

What do you love most about the blogging community?

I love the support system that exists within the blogging industry; I felt at home as soon as I'd hit the publish button on my first blog three years ago. There is a definite sense of community - you only have to shout for help via any of the social networks and somebody will come to your rescue. As bloggers, as we learn we tend to pass on our knowledge pretty freely - which is really refreshing in this 'what's in it for me' world we live in.

What are your favourite brands?

I tend to chop and change a lot when it comes to makeup, there's everything in my makeup bag from Chanel to Poundland's Gallery. I do tend to splash out when it comes to foundation, and I mix and match according to my skin condition and the 'look' I'm going for. I am far more choosy when it comes to skincare however. Liz Earle tends to be a staple; you just can't beat their Hot Cloth Cleanser. I'm also working on developing my own products - so watch this space :)

What tips would you give to someone thinking of starting a blog

Hmmmm, I could go on and on here as I have tips coming out of my ears, but I think my top three would be: 
Think really long and hard about why you want to start a blog. Is it purely for personal satisfaction? Are you hoping to make a career out of blogging? Is it simply a tool to aid your existing business? Your answer will determine which blogging platform you use and how much money and time you are willing/able to inject into your blog.
If you're struggling to decide on a genre for your blog, try this exercise - sit down with a pad and pen and write VERY rough, brief outlines for 50 blog posts. Yep, that's not a typo, 50! Sounds a lot? 
Think of it this way; that's less than one blog post a week for a year. Keep the pad open and keep coming back to it through the course of a week. If after this time you're staring at a blank pad, or you can't think of more than 10, maybe it's time to have a rethink.
Try not to get bogged down with all the 'bells and whistles' that come with some blogging platforms. Sure you want your blog to look good and function correctly, but the most important thing is the content. Get your content out there!

Tell us a little more about yourself.

You mean there's more to life than blogging?! I tend to keep myself busy - if variety is the spice of life then mine's a Vindaloo. I love good food and fizz (in moderation, of course), I'm learning to fly and recently flew a Jet Provost, I'm partial to a bit of boating (the motorboat type not the clever stuff with sails), I read a lot, laugh a lot and cram as much life into my days as humanly possible. In my 'real' life I own two companies and am a certified business consultant. Jeez, I'm exhausted just listing what I do. I may now have to go and lie down in a dark room.

Thanks for your answers Michelle - you can find The Bare Faced Chic here.

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Makeup Revolution Iconic Pro Lipsticks & Swatches

Iconic Pro lipsticks are a new launch from Makeup Revolution. There are 20 shades in total and I have five of them to show you. These lipsticks are housed in a black bullet with rose gold detailing for a contemporary feel. I only received these yesterday but I've worn one of the shades this afternoon, so I have an idea of the texture and wear. 

Iconic Pro Lipsticks* have a creamy texture and good pigmentation. I wore the shade absolutely flawless today and it lasted around 3 hours, which I find is pretty average for a lipstick. I wore a little lip balm underneath as I always do as my lips tend to be on the dehydrated side but I didn't find the lipstick itself was particularly drying or clung to dryness. 

game of mystery - peachy nude, very good pigmentation

absolutely flawless - nude beige, really flattering on pale skin

make it in the city - bold pink, slightly on the sheer side so needed a few swipes for swatching

not in love - coral red, good pigmentation

propoganda - dark berry red, slightly on the sheer side

These are a steal at £2.50 each!If you prefer a matte finish, there are matte versions of game of mystery and propoganda. You can find all shades here.

Will you be trying these?

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On the Sidebar April 2015

It's time to share the love with April's blog advertisers and this last month, I've had the pleasure of two amazing bloggers sponsoring Sweet Electric. Here's a little more about the lovely ladies behind the blog - I hope you'll check them out!

If you'd like to advertise on the sidebar, take a look at all the information here. You can book via Passionfruit or via emailing me and each ad can be placed whenever you're ready!

The Barefaced Chic is a quirky, imaginative lifestyle blog that offers a 
slightly wacky sanctuary in a sea of sensibility. Its mission is to 
bring you a frequent dose of beauty, fashion, lifestyle, health, sound 
advice and laughs. And, in this sometimes cookie cutter world, the aim 
of The Barefaced Chic is to be the chocolate, raspberry crème brûlée!

With a no nonsense approach, within the features on the blog, mature 
women are encouraged to celebrate themselves, love their quirks and feel 
happy in their own skin: hence The Barefaced Chic.

Hi there. My names Fran and as the name probably gives away, I blog at http://frannymac.com. Originally a country mouse, I took the plunge and moved to West London. You'll normally find me with either my camera, a cup of tea or a good book in hand. I write about the things I love most, namely makeup, clothes and going on adventures. I love to meet other bloggers, so come say hi!

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3 Essentials For Very Oily Skin

Now that its approaching summer, I'm finding my skin is starting to get oilier. My t-zone in particular becomes very oily. Finding products that don't completely slide off your face by midday isn't easy. I've tried a lot of products over the years and I've found a few that have good staying power.

Face powder is an essential for any oily girls out there. I've used so many powders and I dread to think about how much money I've spent trying to find a decent one. These days I swear by loose powder as an initial setting powder - you can't take it with you on the go but it looks very natural and doesn't cake like a lot of pressed powders do. My current powder is the Ben Nye Translucent Face Powder in fair. I actually meant to buy the neutral set powder and somehow picked the wrong one but its a fairly good product and brilliant value for money. You get a whopping 45 grams of powder in the pot, so it'll last for ages. It does a good job of controlling oil but for me, the Vichy loose powder combined with Revlon's color stay foundation is the ultimate dream team in terms of complete oil control - I can go most of the day without blotting which is normally unheard of for me. I'd probably opt for that one in future but the Ben Nye one is good for slightly oily skin types. 

For my eyelids, a primer is a completely essential product. I used to the like the Urban Decay Primer Potion but I found it left my shadow looking really dry, so now I tend to use a MAC Paint Pot. I have nubile, which was limited edition but I'd say painterly might be similar. I use a shadow or another cream shadow over the top and it stays put really well.

In summer, I like to opt for a powder blush as I find they normally have better staying power (it does depend on the brand though). I love Illamasqua's powder blushes as they're highly pigmented, soft to touch and blend well. I like the shade 'tremble' for spring/summer - its a light peachy pink that's super pretty!

Do you have any essentials for oily skin?

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5 Must Haves Under £10!

The high street (and internet) is an amazing place for finding an abundance of brilliant beauty buys. Most of my favourite products are what I consider to be budget buys. These 5 products have become must haves in my beauty routine and all of them are under £10. 

The ones I've mentioned before are the NYX Blush in taupe. This is a brilliant contour powder for pale skins or a blush for darker skin tones. The powder is really soft and blendable, which is why it works so well for contouring. I swatched it in this retro post here. 
Another product I've mentioned briefly before are the Maybelline Colour Elxir Glosses. These seemed to make a small impact in the beauty blogging world but they're not a product that gets mentioned too much anymore. I think these are a brilliant gloss for £6.99. Not sticky, feel hydrating and add a good pigment of colour. 

Makeup Revolution need no introduction and their Naked Chocolate palette* is one of the best budget shadow palette I've used. At £7.99, its a little pricier than some of their other offerings but the quality of these is better. You also get 14 shadows and 2 highlight powders - I'd highly recommend these shades if you're after a lower priced alternative to the Urban Decay Naked palettes. I'll have swatches of this soon in an upcoming post. 

My hair is pretty frazzled at the moment - I really need a hair cut but whilst I find a good hairdresser, I've been using the Morrocan Oil Intense Hydrating Mask which really does a good job of making my locks feel softer and smoother. This mask comes in a small 75ml tube but as the texture of the mask is really thick, you only need to use once a week at most. You can purchase it in a higher ml but this size is really good if you want to try it out before splashing out on the full size. It's also a good size for taking away on holiday with you, if you want to protect your hair from damage from the sun, sea etc. 

Finally, a mention to a new micellar discovery. I rely on micellar waters to remove my makeup at the end of a long day and I've been using the Soap & Glory Drama Clean 5 in 1 Micellar Cleansing Water* for the past week. I like this one as it removes every last drop of makeup. It's gentle on the eye area and doesn't leave any tacky or sticky feeling after use. The only downside for me is the scent as it well, smells like salad. It's a scent you'll either love or hate, I'd prefer a more fruity smelling water but thats my taste. However, if you're looking for a good micellar water that's affordable (this one is £6) then this is a good bet!

What are your favourite budget products?

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3 Foundations for Pale/Oily Skin Types

I've been using a few new foundations recently - all of which are ideal for pale skintones like me. Finding a good foundation that's light enough for my porcelain skin can sometimes be a challenge but I'm fairly happy with the colour matches of these three.
Everyone has been raving about the new Loreal 24 Hour Mattifying Infallible Foundation and luckily it lives up to its expectations. I've been wearing (porcelain shade 10) a lot lately as it really does hit the mark on several aspects. Despite being labelled as full coverage, I'd say its more medium. You do need extra concealer on noticeable blemishes but it surprisingly feels fairly light on the skin. It blends really well, both with fingers or a brush and lasts fairly well throughout the day. I do need to blot once or twice during the day but I have a really oily t-zone. Packaging wise, this tube is perfect. The nozzle dispenses just enough foundation and the tube ensures you can get the last drops of foundation out. I'm not a fan of products that claim to last 24 hours (lets face it, who wears their makeup that long) but for normal to oily skin types, it is definitely one of the best foundations at the drugstore/highstreet.

At high end level, I've been using Dior Star Foundation*. It looks a little two tone in the bottle above (I forgot to shake the bottle) but it's a decent shade match. I wear shade 010 ivory which is just a touch too dark for me but I can get away with it. Unlike the Loreal mattifying foundation, Dior Star leaves a semi matte finish on the skin (slightly dewy but not overly so). It offers medium coverage and blends well. This foundation has good oil control. Not quite as good as the Loreal offering but definitely better than some others that I've tried. I really like the radiant finish as I find my complexion looks brighter and more healthy. I havent heard too much about Dior Star despite it being a relatively new addition to Dior's lineup. The glass bottle with pump makes it easy to dispense and the foundation itself is one of the better high end products I've tried. I can see this suiting a range of skin types from slightly dry to oily. If you're in the mood for trying a new higher end foundation then this is one to look at. 

Back to a more budget foundation, this one is the new Maybelline Fit Me Matte & Poreless Foundation (not currently available in the UK). I use the shade porcelain which is slightly yellow toned but still a good colour match. Despite being labelled as matte and poreless, it isnt great on that front. However, there is something about this foundation I like. It feels very lightweight on the skin and as its yellow toned, it helps to tone down any redness in my skin. I mainly use this foundation on lazy days when I dont want to wear too much makeup. Oily skins will need to blot with this one but it tends to hold up throughout the day. The packaging is a downside as there's no pump here but foundation itself is decent. I purchased mine from eBay and I'd probably repurchase it if its released here in the UK. 

Have you tried any of these foundations?

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The Ultimate Ebay Makeup Brush List Under £3

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

I've purchased a few makeup brushes from Ebay and I'm always surprised by the quality. I've comprised a little list of some of the best unbranded brushes all under £3. Some of these I've purchased myself, some are on my wishlist and some I've ordered and waiting to arrive.

If you're looking for a cheap liner brush then (1) might be of interest to you. This one is just 99p with free shipping. For face brushes, there are a number of options here. (2) are various base brushes that can be used for foundation, powder, blush, concealer and contouring. (3) is ideal for contouring or concealer due to its tapered shape and is just £1.79 with free postage. I own (4) this four piece brush set and its insanely good for just £1.36. I mainly use these brushes for concealing but they're really soft and wash well too. My recent purchase is this 3d brush (5) which is a sigma dupe. I haven't given it a go yet but I'm interested to see how it works.

This (6) Ecotools dupe bamboo brush set is perfect for travelling as these are mini brushes with a small pouch. Finally, I've just ordered one of these sponges (7) as they're only 99p with free shipping. I don't normally use sponges but these would work well for contouring so I'm keen to give it a go!

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Free Design Resources for Bloggers

Whether you want to improve your blog design or your images, you might be interested in finding some free resources to use. I've had a few people ask how I make my blog images, so I figured I'd cover this in this post. Everything I use is completely free and the good news is that it's really easy to use. Here are some resources that you may find useful as well as the ones I use.

I always use free fonts on my blog images. There are eight here to download - I'd also recommend dafont, fontsquirrel and fontspace.

Free handwritten fonts

If you're looking for handwritten style fonts then you'll love these. These would look great on blog images or on other design projects.

Free laurel wreath graphics

I love these graphics. They would look great on a blog header or wishlist.

Black and gold seamless patterns

These seamless patterns are ideal for using in your blog images or for your blog design.

Free stock photos

I usually use royalty free stock photos for my blog images. I've linked to several sites where you can find them in this post. Once you download the photo you want to use, you can modify it in a free photo editing site. I use picmonkey and just write text over the top. With picmonkey, you can use your own fonts as well as the custom fonts on the site.

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How To Make Extra Money Online

Money making isn't a topic that's regularly discussed on a lot of UK beauty and lifestyle blogs. I'm all for ways to make a bit of extra cash and there are several ways you can make money via the internet (no, I'm not referring to anything dodgy!). It's worth noting that you need to declare any extra income to the tax man. I'm not sure how this works in other countries but in the UK, you have three months to declare your income and you'll need to fill in a tax return between now and the end of the year (until January 31st if you're completing your return online). I'm just about to fill in my first tax return soon, so I'll cover the basics in an upcoming post. For now, here are a few ways to earn some extra cash (global sites are included here too). Click on the bold text to be taken straight to the blog post. 

5 real ways to earn money online

This is my other site which covers everything from freelance work to moneysaving. I'm currently in the middle of rebranding but head over there to check out this post with some links to survey sites and other platforms.

13 places to sell your photos online

If you're a keen photographer then take a look at this post

10 apps to save and earn money

If you have a good internet connection on your phone (and a decent monthly internet allowance) then these apps might be for you. I've only head of a few of these and I think some may be US only but you might want to give them a go - I'll cover some that are UK based very soon.

Do you have great instagram images? Here are two sites you could use to sell those images for extra £££'s

Home businesses you can start with no money

Not all of these are businesses but there are some sites here that you can use to sell things, take surveys, freelance and earn online.

Sites that pay you fast

If you're looking for a quick payout then these sites are for you. I recommend having a paypal account for quick paying sites and platforms.

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7 Bloggers Who Have Shared Their Blog Earnings

Following on from my post on realistic ways to earn money from blogging, here are 7 bloggers who have shared their blog earnings. Personally, I find these posts really interesting and helpful as it gives you a realistic idea of how you can earn money via your blog. It also demonstrates that hard work really does pay off. Obviously, you and I are unlikely to consider monestising our blogs in exactly the same way as these bloggers but its definitely something to think about. 

Making sense of cents

A monthly statement as well as a year in review.

By Regina

Regina's blog is one of my favourites for everything blogging related. This income report is really easy to understand - I like that she goes into specifics about what aspects she has implemented to help with her income. 

A look at how money is earned from a food blog - this post shows traffic numbers and sources too, which is really interesting!

Retired by 40

A blog income report that is easy to understand with stats. I like that Gretchen has included her goals too!

Fitness fashionista

A monthly report with stats - I'd never heard of some of these sources to make income and if you're based in the US, I'd definitely consider some of these options.

Pulling curls

This is a great report if you're starting to monetise your blog. Hilary also includes some aspects that increased her income in a 3 month period.

Market your creativity

If you're thinking of creating a business via your blog then this one might be for you.

What I've learned from reading blog income reports

The majority of bloggers earn their income via many streams - most from adsense, blog networks, youtube, private ads, sponsored content etc.
A lot of bloggers also sell ebooks, blog coaching, online classes, own etsy businesses as a way of upping their revenue. As these blogs show, you dont need to be gaining millions of hits to make money from your blog. I think a lot comes down to trial and error, finding what works for you as well as gaining a loyal readership. Aspects, such as Pinterest, email and finding ways to grab a readers attention also seem to play pretty big parts too.

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