Saturday, 21 February 2015

Dairy and Acne

I've been suffering from breakouts for about two years now, and while they're never too severe, they still make me feel incredibly self conscious about my skin. My acne first flared up when I was about fourteen, and I was prescribed a contraceptive pill to help clear it. The results were amazing, and I enjoyed lovely clear skin right up until my early twenties. While today my pill still keeps the worst of my acne under control, these past few years I've been getting a cluster of pimples around my jawline that don't want to shift! I've no idea what the cause is, but due to them being located at the bottom of my face I'm guessing it's hormone related. Therefore, after reading a dozen articles on the milk and acne relationship, I've decided to go dairy-free for a while to see if it makes a difference.

Now, here's the science-y bit: Cows milk (particularly skimmed/semi-skimmed) contains natural growth hormones that are thought to nourish spots by blocking pores and making skin greasy. It's also packed with androgens such as testosterone which can create an excess of sebum and aggravate acne. Seeing as my pill suppresses testosterone, it makes sense to think that milk and dairy products may be making my skin worse.

I've noticed that I tend to get more spots when I come home from uni. My family are all big tea drinkers, so whenever my parents make themselves a cuppa they make me one, too. I also eat a lot more cheese when I'm at home as it's a regular staple in my family's diet, whereas back in Southampton I only buy it as an occasional treat. When I went home for Christmas the other month I spent almost two weeks grating cheddar over everything and washing down endless cups of tea. A few days post-indulgence I woke up to two juicy whiteheads on my cheek. Lovely.

While it's not been proven that milk causes acne (and I know plenty of porcelain-skinned beauties that drink it regularly) I can't help but make a connection. Therefore, I'm going cold-turkey on all dairy products for now to see if my skin gets any better. I'm replacing my daily dose of cow's milk with almond and coconut, and I'm avoiding cheese, milk chocolate, ice-cream and yoghurt. I know it's going to be super difficult (no more pizza - sob) but I'm quite excited and interested to see if it makes a difference!

I'm going to try not to just waltz down the 'free from' aisle and throw everything in my trolley. Instead, I'm going to be focusing on eating lots of fresh fruit, nuts and leafy greens. I try to eat healthily the majority of the time anyway (note the word 'try'), so hopefully this will give me more motivation knowing how much it might benefit my skin. I may post a few diary-free recipes along the way and will of course report back after some time to notify you all of my results (if any)!

If anyone has ever experimented with a dairy-free diet before and found it helped their skin, I'd be really interested to hear your story! Fingers crossed it will aid my journey toward a clear, blemish-free complexion. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

All You Need Is Love

The original power couple!

Happy belated Valentine's people! Hope you all had a wonderful day, however you spent it :) My boyfriend and I don't hugely celebrate Valentine's but we do like to get each other little gifts and make time to do something nice together - I baked him cupcakes (which I didn't photograph due to my cack-handed attempt at decorating - they tasted good though!) and he surprised me with roses, a tin of Charbonnel & Walker hot chocolate I've been wanting to try and a new mug. Last night we went for a meal at a nearby Italian restaurant (which was delicious) before heading back home and relaxing in front of the TV.

After a bit of a rubbish week it was lovely to have yesterday to look forward to, and I enjoyed pampering myself beforehand. I've been really stressing about Uni work recently so I decided to put some time aside to take a long hot bath (complete with the Lush V-day range), paint my toe nails and fake tan. A bit of TLC combined with an evening spent with my handsome other half (excuse the mushiness) was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday night :)

Did you do anything special for Valentine's?

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

My Must Haves for Longer Lashes

Unfortunately I was not blessed with long, fluttery eyelashes, so I do my best to enhance what I already have. I wear falsies occasionally (usually on nights out) but I find them too fiddly sometimes and they have a tendency to look a bit heavy on me. Therefore, a decent mascara is a must have. I usually swear by L'Oreal, but while browsing Boots last week I noticed Maybelline had an offer on their Lash Sensational so I decided to give it a go. 

I usually have a love-hate relationship with Maybelline mascaras (The Falsies makes my lashes look incredible but god it's so MESSY!) but I've been really enjoying using Lash Sensational. The curved brush is perfect for making sure you coat every single hair while the product itself gives your lashes amazing body and length. It stays put all day and doesn't transfer onto my brow bone or under the eye like I find so many mascaras do. Also, it's super affordable at £5.99 and I love the pretty packaging!

Another product I've been loving recently are my Shu Uemura eyelash curlers. I've wanted to get my hands on these for years and finally decided to treat myself a few days back. These are amazing for really opening up the eye area and making you appear much more fresh and awake. I usually love my shadow palettes and used to spend every morning blending colours and contouring my lids, but recently I've not felt the need to wear as much makeup on my eyes as these curlers do such an incredible job. Although I think they're grossly overpriced, I'm so glad I bought them as I feel they've made such a difference!

Have you tried either of these products before? What are your must haves for gorgeous lashes?

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Dreaming of Spring

Although it's colder than ever in the UK right now and Spring is still a few months away, I can't help but feel excited for my favourite season. The pastels and floral prints that are currently adorning the high street have reminded me how much I love S/S fashion, so I decided to put a little wish list together. Here's what I picked out:

Heeled sandals, £28, Topshop. I know these might not be to everyone's taste, but personally I love them! I'd pair them with skinny jeans, a pretty blouse and a slouchy cardigan. 

Rose gold midi dial bracelet, £85, Olivia Burton. I've never really been a watch person, but I've fallen in love with Olivia Burton's range recently. Her designs are so dainty and feminine. It's my 24th birthday in a few months so I might pop this on my wishlist. 

Floral skirt, £22.99, New Look. I think this may be the year that I embrace the midi skirt! I've always steered clear of them in the past as I'm scared they'll make my legs look short. However I think this one is so pretty, and such a bargain too. I'd pair it with tights and boots for now and a crop top and sandals come summer.

Coat, £89, Topshop. I'm really into tailored coats at the moment as I think they look so stylish. I love the colour of this one - it's perfect for Spring.

Work bag, £39, Accessorize. Don't Accessorize do the most beautiful bags? I think this looks so much more expensive than it is and would go great with any outfit.

Xen-Tan Scent Secure, £14.45. I was browsing Feel Unique a few days back when I spotted this. It's described as an 'oil-free moisturizer which locks out the unpleasant smells associated with fake tan products'. Although I love my fake tan (especially during the warmer months), I can't stand the way it smells - no matter which one I use I'm always left with the same horrible biscuit scent. I've never come across a product like this before - it's currently on sale so I might have to treat myself!

What's on your wishlist currently? Are you excited for Spring?

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Chivalry Isn't Dead

I ordered Love Letters of Great Mena book put together by Ursula Doyle - a few weeks back while browsing Amazon. I have a weakness for pretty covers and thought it would make for some lazy bedtime reading. A pretty self-explanatory title, the book is essentially a collection of love letters written by the likes of Henry VIII, Victor Hugo, Mark Twain and Napoleon Bonaparte. At the beginning of the book, Ursula Doyle addresses the belief that social media/text messaging has killed romance, and that people don't write love letters in this day and age. She then goes on to suggest that, although a quick text doesn't quite hold the same level of meaning as a thoughtfully-worded letter, men don't have to be literary geniuses in order to surprise their loved ones with a romantic gesture. And I completely agree with her. 

I often hear women say that chivalry is dead, and men don't make as much of an effort as they used to. I admit that I've been known to moan at my boyfriend for not being romantic enough, and my friends and I have ranted about how we've not been treated to any homemade, candlelit dinners. I think from a young age girls are often led to believe that a man will show you how much he loves you by surprising you with endless bouquets of red roses and huge romantic gestures. As we get older we of course learn that's not the case, and that the majority of the time it's the little things that really count. 

A few days back my boyfriend and I went out for lunch and when the waitress came to our table, he let me order first. I suddenly realized that he always does this - even if he chose his main ten minutes ago and I'm still pondering over the menu. It's such a small gesture that often goes unnoticed, but still a kind, gentlemanly thing to do. Call me an old woman but I think things like this, as well as having the door opened for you or having your chair pulled out, never go out of fashion and will always be seen as romantic in my book.

I've had boyfriends in the past who have sent flowers to my house, taken me on surprise dates and written soppy messages inside Valentine's/anniversary cards, but have also lied to me constantly or ditched me for their friends. When I look back at such relationships I don't think about these romantic gestures with a smile; I'm just reminded of how miserable I was and how glad I am that these people aren't part of my life anymore.

Some people love being romantic and wearing their heart on their sleeve, and that's great. With others it's not really their thing, and that's fine too. It's not just men either - while I like receiving flowers and soppy comments, I'm sure there's a lot of women out there who don't. Everyone is different. I just think it's important to remember not to measure someone's love by the amount of bouquets they shower you with or kisses they put on the end of a text. If your other half is loyal, respects you, makes you laugh and gets along with your friends/family, he's probably a pretty good egg, even if he hasn't brought you breakfast in bed yet or forgets Valentine's Day.

So, if my boyfriend is reading this, I want him to know that I'm not bitter about the fact he hasn't penned me a love letter. Instead, I feel grateful for all the other ways he has shown me how much I mean to him. While many people are keen to believe chivalry is long gone, I firmly believe it still exists. Although our great men aren't exactly jousting for our affection or writing us sonnets, they've proved that they can still make us swoon - whether it's making the bed while you're in the shower, bringing you a cup of tea or letting you order first in a restaurant.

And for all those who are yet to be convinced, remember that although Henry VIII wrote Anne Boleyn a few love letters, he also charged her with witchcraft and treason before having her arrested and chopping her head off. No one wants to be with a bloke like that, do they?