5 PRODUCTIVE THINGS TO DO ON A LONG DAILY COMMUTE

Boots // Carvela at Kurt Geiger | Jeans // Zara | Coat // New Look (no longer available, but similar here)

I am now in my third year of uni and for the last year I have commuted each day… 3 hours there, 3 hours back. You maths genius’ would’ve worked out that I travel 6 hours a day when I’m scheduled to go into uni. That’s around 3 times a week. So I guess I would consider myself a bit of a pro when it comes to travelling – my journey includes a car journey to the station, a train, a tube and another train to the campus – and during this time, especially now that I’m reaching the most crucial part of my course, I have found a few ways of staying productive on the commute.

If you travel 6 hours a day like me or just 15 minutes, let that time be productive!

  1. Read a book
    This one is something that I’ve always done without even thinking about it, I read for fun – I always have a book to read, I have to finish any book that I start, even if I’m hating it. Weird OCD habit. The train is a great place to read because you can really zone out from all the chaos of rush hour and escape into your own little world.
  2. Meditation
    Staying on the theme of escaping into your “own little world”, I have mastered the art of meditation on public transport. No weird “ohm-ness” going on with my legs crossed or anything like that, but for the past few months I’ve really become a fan of the Calm app. It’s a guided meditation app that’s really easy to follow and just allows your mind to switch off from everything around you. Earphones in, world out.
  3. Brain training
    Something which might not seem entirely productive is brain training. There have been times when I’ve been so tired on my commute that I’ve become a victim of the fall-asleep-head-roll-mouth-open gaze that seems to affect the best of us (only the very best, apparently) and so I’ve found that doing a sudoku or crossword puzzle helps to keep my brain alive and awake, as well as keeping my eyes open. And besides, something that is training your brain and making you think hard that early in the morning can only ever be a good thing, right?
  4. GET WORK DONE!
    I’m not one to sit on the train on my laptop, mainly because I can’t be bothered to lug around my MacBook with me all day, but I do find that if I’ve made notes on something I aim to do when I get home, or if I’ve read a few chapters of a book I’m studying for my dissertation, then I always feel much better and productive once I’m off the train. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you’re on a train with no distractions. Of course, if you really want to work on your laptop on the train then that’s great and totally admirable, I only wish my laptop wasn’t so heavy so I could do the same!
  5. Make a to-do list
    My last point is probably my favourite and most-used. Making a to-do list is so productive for me because it allows me to really plan my time well. Travelling to and from uni every day can take it’s toll on my productivity levels because travelling is so tiring. When I get home I tend to just want to sit around and catch up on Mad Men, but having a list of things that I need to get done helps me to focus. Ticking things off the list is so satisfying that I find that this alone is enough to make me want to reluctantly click away from Netflix and do some work!

Of course there are days when all I want to do on my commute is listen to music, zone out and pretend I’m in a totes-emosh music video whilst gazing out of the window (probably listening to Adele, just to be a total cliché), but I’m trying my best to keep those days to a minimum and try something productive instead.

What do you do on a long commute, I’d love to try some of your ideas – I have another 6 months of commuting ahead of me!

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THE HANDBAG THAT EVERYBODY NEEDS IN THEIR LIFE.

After getting a new job (yay!), being totally stressed out at how much uni work I have to do, as well as keeping on top of things on my blog (which has been a bit lax lately – sorry about that) I decided to make one of those “treat myself” purchases, a new handbag. Now it’s nothing spectacularly expensive, but unnecessary enough for me to feel a bit naughty walking out of the store. It is, of course, from Zara.

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I’d seen this bag in Zara for a good few weeks now, tried it on, put it back. Tried it on, looked in the mirror, changed the length of the chain, put it back etc etc. for the past few weeks now and after a long weekend of working, I decided to to pick it up, try it on, look in the mirror and BUY IT.

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Justifiable-for-purchase features include: Durable, classic and damn beautiful ridging and quilting on the fabric (it isn’t leather, however it really feels like it, such great quality), a sturdy clasp, two interior pockets for the 14 MAC lipsticks that I’m likely to ‘need’ in there, and a double-length chain that you can have long as a cross-body bag, or short as a shoulder bag. I actually prefer it as a shoulder bag with the double chain, I think it tends to work better on me like that as the longer chain reaches almost down to my knee. #shortgirlproblems

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Let’s face it, I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to afford a Chanel, so this is my next best thing. It’s not a complete carbon copy, and well within its own rights in design, however it does have that classic shape, size and stature of a high-class (and high price tag) designer handbag. And at only £39.99 I think it’s a bit of a steal.

STARTING MY THIRD YEAR OF UNI… TIPS TO MYSELF

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Going into my third and final year of my degree is a daunting thought. Now I’m studying Fashion Journalism so I know it’s not as taxing as perhaps studying medicine or criminal psychology would be, however it does come with certain stresses. I still have no idea what kind of job I wish to have at the end of it – or if I’ll even go into paid employment at the end, I might have to intern for free until something paid comes up. There are no guarantees.
But before the employment (or unemployment) prospect comes to light, I wrote down a few tips for myself on dealing with the stresses that come along with my final year at university and I thought I’d share them here for anyone else who is a stress head like me.

  1. Keep a countdown app on your phone.
    Might seem strange to countdown the days until you are no longer reliant upon education, however it makes me feel good in the knowledge that I don’t have long left until I can be free and my life is finally mine.
  2. Make a conscious effort to stay on top of the workload.
    Every time I go back after a break I make a point of aiming to be better at keeping on top of work and not leaving it to the last minute, but I always procrastinate and it just ends up piling up. I’ve never handed anything in late and it’s always done to the best of my ability, but I always wish that I’d just done it EARLIER to save from panic-writing towards the end of a deadline. This year I’m making a real conscious effort to do work within a decent time frame. WORK DONE = LESS STRESS.
  3. Save money.
    Not exactly a fun topic, or one that I’m enjoying typing out now, but saving money really does save stress. With everyone around my making plans for this holiday, that day out, or even that lunch; all I’m thinking about is my dwindling bank account and increased sense of FOMO. Budget, budget, budget and selling unwanted crap on eBay has become my best friend over the summer and I’ve even got money in SAVINGS. Who knew I could be so proactive?
  4. Socialise. 
    I’ve never been much of a party-er. I like the getting ready process, and the drunk bit, but everything around that is just a bit bluh. But I feel that this year I’m going to need a social life in order to keep me sane. Making an effort to make time for friends over the next several months is high up on my list of priorities. We don’t know where we’ll all be by the time we graduate in terms of employment/location so we might as well make the most of the time that we do see each other every day. *sob*
  5. Use every opportunity.
    Every person you meet, every email you send, every Instagram comment – treat them as contacts. Get talking to people on Twitter, you don’t know who they know who could possibly set you up with someone who has a friend who needs an assistant. And that could be you. And if you don’t get a job, or at least an opportunity, then at leafs you made another friend, right?

Starting my third year isn’t exactly filling me with joy, however I can try and make the best it possibly can be. I may moan to my friends and family, but at the end of it, I’ll have a degree. A DEGREE! And that’s something I never thought would happen for me. And if i can make that happen, then I can make this year a decent one.

A BESPOKE FACE

We live in a world where everything is instant, we have everything at our fingertips to make our lives easier, more efficient and tailor-made to suit us perfectly. There are many devices and services specialising in personalisation available to us now, simply ranging from personalised coffee cups in Starbucks, to more quirky devices such as apps that can check that you locked the house before you left for work this morning. This new custom-made lifestyle is about to extend to our faces. We are already well aware of the many cosmetic and surgical procedures available to us in which to create a new face – the invasive needle-jabbing, slicing, dicing, nipping and tucking that all occurs on an operating table. But now there are services available to us that allow for a completely personalised visage without the intrusion, pain, recovery or expense of invasive cosmetic procedures.

Two years ago, Boots announced a service offering a foundation colour-matching service, exclusively associated with their No7 range of products (they have since extended this service to lipsticks). It was a huge phenomenon on the high street at the time it was launched, however this colour-matching device miss-matched many customers, myself included. This particular colour-matching service only matches customers to products readily available in the No7 range (as a free service this is, of course, to be expected) so wouldn’t it be great if such a service was available that custom blended foundation to your skin’s own requirements?

Lucy McRae, a ‘body architect’ from Australia says, “there are no boundaries with technology relating to the human body, the future is completely wide open and unknown”. Right now, there are companies that strive to create the ultimate bespoke makeup experience. A La Carte London, based in Knightsbridge, offer custom-blended products such as lipsticks, foundations and concealers from £250. This service allows you go back and re-order your exact shade for a further £50. A small price to pay for a truly tailor-made experience. Beauty blogger Thea Malone likes the idea of a customized shade of lipstick, “That’s such a good idea, because if you want a red, it’s quite hard to find one that suits your skin tone so if you can have one specially made then you know it’s definitely going to work for you”. Fellow beauty blogger Katie Brooks agrees, “The lipstick is a great idea – especially as brands are now bringing out more limited editions. With this you can be reassured that you’ll be able to have it again. It’s heartbreaking when your old faithful has been discontinued.”

Bite Beauty are another company, based in NYC, that have expanded their makeup brand into customisable lipstick shades, launching the Bite Lip Lab in SoHo. Beauty blogger and vlogger Amelia Liana has tried and tested the service with glowing positivity, writing on her blog: “Coming in at around £22 a lipstick in total I would say it’s definitely an experience to try. Simply awesome.” The Bathory is a company that offer a personalised bathing experience with a concoction of your chosen salt mix and oils. I have personally used The Bathory to create my own bath salts, I chose the “Detox” salt with oils of eucalyptus, grapefruit and ylang ylang which were supposed to make me feel “revived, inspired and sexy”. I’m not quite sure how much I would vouch for any of those qualities, I personally just smelt nice. But I’m always down for a gimmick (or four).

A recent beauty release is Charlotte Tilbury’s Supermodel range of products, boxes with a full face inside that also provides a handy tutorial video that begins playing as the box is opened. With a choice of “supermodel” looks, Tilbury shows us how simple it really is to create a better version of our faces. And who wouldn’t want to look like a supermodel?

With technology evolving faster than some of us can apply mascara on the way to work in the car whilst eating breakfast (it’s true, some of us can do that…), it’s no wonder that revolutionary services in the beauty industry are being brought to our attention. Experts say that in the not-so-distant future we will have fully customised hair care, skin care and makeup regimes. Now if that is not an example of a 21st century face, then I don’t know what is.

IF YOU COULD HAVE A PERMANENT GLOW, WOULD YOU?

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If I had £1 for every time I have stood in front of a mirror and wished there wasn’t such a pale face staring back, or stared at my white, pasty legs in the summer wishing I had nice bronzed limbs, I would be a multi-millionaire. I naturally have very curly hair and always wanted it to be straight. My friends with straight hair say they prefer curly. I used to dream of having a big bust. Those blessed with such often dream of less. It seems to be a case of the grass always being greener in our own minds and in the way we look at ourselves. But if you could permanently change these aspects of your physical self, would you? Changing your body temporarily is one thing, but a permanent change is a much more dramatic and final “improvement”.

When it comes to the colour of your skin, it is generally accepted that a permanent change is dangerous, bad for your health and above all, “vain”. Little is known of the long-term consequences of such products as skin whitening (or bleaching) creams or tanning injections. In September of this year, a controversial cream was released by Dr Organic and is sold in health food chain Holland & Barrett stores nationwide, it’s the Royal Jelly Body Skin Whitening Cream, this questionable product received backlash in the media for “exploiting racism”, with race equality charities campaigning for its removal from the shelves. With such dramatic skin-enhancing properties, these products are deemed as highly dangerous in this country but are still readily available. So why are we striving to be different to how we were originally created?

Having a bronzed “glow” for the summer is, in our part of the world, deemed the desired look. White, pasty legs like mine on the beach are a general no-no. From a glow in a bottle to baking in a tanning bed to getting a professional spray tan, there are many ways in which both men and women achieve this bronzed god/goddess look. But tanning injections are taking this craze to the next level.

“We are warning people not to use this product. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Melanotan offers a shortcut to a safer and more even tan”. That is a statement released by David Carter from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Tanning injections are as medically sinister as they sound, containing the drug Melanotan, a synthetic hormone that works by increasing the levels of melanin, the natural pigment of the skin. Costing around £60 for a month’s supply, this is ultimately a cheaper, albeit dangerous option for an intense tan. So it comes as little surprise that so far, the main market has been teenagers and those looking for a quick fix.

Currently illegal in the UK and most of Europe, these injections can only be bought online and are yet to be officially tested for safety, effectiveness and quality. Some that use them however, generally have positive reviews, despite most experiencing side effects. Olivia Mansson, a fashion student from Sweden says, “I would definitely recommend them if you want a darker skin colour for a longer period of time but not if you don’t like freckles. It took two or three weeks for the best colour to show but before that, I started getting a lot of freckles.”

Freckles aside, the full extent of the side effects caused by the injections are unknown. Users report of experiencing nausea, a loss of appetite and an elevated sex drive at the lower end of the scale, more sinister side effects thought to be linked with the use of the injections include stomach and heart problems as well as blood and eye disorders. Side effects aside, the process also carries major risk of infection due to unhygienic practices and addiction to the drug and its effects have also been reported. Despite such little medical research that has gone into Melanotan as well as the warnings issued by healthcare professionals, Mansson still believes in the product’s efficiency stating, “Obviously injections aren’t good for your skin, so it’s better to not use these products, but if you’re unhappy in your skin then why not try to change it if it makes you happier?” So why not embrace your skin’s natural hue? “I think that I look better in tanned skin, I feel more attractive being tanned. I also think that pale skin is beautiful, it just doesn’t suit me.”

The quest for the “natural glow” is also achieved by some from the other end of the beauty spectrum. Whitening creams have been on the market in Asia for many years with well known European and American brands such as Dior, Olay, No7, Max Factor, Clarins and L’Oreal (to name just a few) creating products for the market targeting skin bleaching. Born and raised in Hong Kong, 43 year-old Kinnie Hung believes white skin reigns supreme, “In my country, we prefer white skin. We have a saying – ‘One white face can hide three ugly faces’”. Niporn Kent from Thailand agrees saying, “I like white skin because I think it looks clean and bright”. Global sales of such whitening products are projected to reach $19.8 billion by 2018 based primarily on the growth in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The highest quality of skin whitening products are produced in Europe, however the ingredients in some of the products are banned from being sold here, such as mercurous chloride and hydroquinone. Hermione Lawson of the British Skin Foundation says, “Unfortunately, many skin-lightening creams contain illegal compounds that can damage your health. The common compounds are high-dose steroids”. With such diverse ideals of beauty across the globe, it is interesting to hear how Kent and Hung view those in the west tanning their skin deliberately, “Actually, I don’t agree to people making their skin darker. I think they have a nice colour of skin already”, says Kent.

The irony in skin tone modification from the tanning injections to the whitening creams is that both are aiming to achieve a “glow”. A white glow, or a bronzed glow – it doesn’t matter how we see it, a glow is something that comes from within. So why does this “faux glow” mean so much to us? Perhaps we need to relax and let our inner glow shine through; after all, a natural glow cannot be bought in a tube, pot, bottle or vial; we are lit from within.

Photo credit: Nicole Jenet

VOGUE SCRAPBOOK

Uni has been absolutely mind-bogglingly crazy these past few weeks and the next few weeks look just as insane. One of my assignments was to create a shopping page in the style of Vogue Scrapbook. I decided to go for the theme of a “dark fairytale” as seen on the catwalks of Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana for Autumn/Winter 2014.

We were then assigned to produce an accompanying photoshoot with the shopping piece and the result is below… I will do another blog post with the full range of photos included, but for now it’s just the one I submitted with my work.

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Text:
DARK enchantment
Ethereal illusions captivate the heart, mind and soul of those willing to be cast under its spell…

Once upon a time in a far away land where denim is all but forbidden, exists a wonderland of all charming dimensions where child’s play is not limited to those in infancy. Dolce and Gabbana led this season’s enchanted offering with Little Red Riding Hood capes all the better to be seen in, along with splendidly embellished creations evoking only the most magical notions. Forest greens, deep-hued ruby reds, blood-curdling blacks and a trickle of gold were all seen on the autumn/winter 14 catwalks by way of Valentino, Erdem and Alice & Olivia who all captivated the enigmatic motif of the classic dark fairytale.

Nature-themed garments decorated with appliquéd butterflies, birds and roses at Valentino nod to Cinderella getting ready for her grand ball, whilst over at Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton provides the darker edge to the fairytale matter with lurid evocations of past lands of make-believe. Fierce feathers provide the evasive charm to an otherworldly selection of garments of a luxurious couture-like quality. Gold accents are presented in all manner of accessories from filigree clutch bags adorned with jewels and chains; to gem-encrusted twinkly shoes by Dsquared² that will no doubt get Prince Charming’s heart racing as you skip off into the sunset. Pair your twinkly toes with equally twinkly fingernails with this season’s offering of ravishing nail lacquers from Dior.

The look comes into its own this winter with the release of Disney’s latest blockbuster Into the Woods starring the glorious Meryl Streep. Seemingly innocent, stemming from a Disney film, the undercurrents of style are of a feral innocence; this look is not for the faint-hearted. Snow White need not apply.

Follow the heart of your inner dark princess this winter party season and you’ll be in for a treat. From head-to-toe ethereal empress, to sparkly eyelids and a smattering of jewels with your LBD, however you don it you will no doubt be alluring; And with a tap of a wand you shall go to the ball, for you are the fairest of them all.

 

P.S. This was my first time using photoshop so please don’t judge me too harshly. I do enough of that to myself!

RUNWAY RAPTURE: SPRING/SUMMER WHITE

White is the colour of Spring and Summer and probably always will be. There’s something so chic, charming, cold, warm, and eternal about white that is so classic and will never date. White for Spring/Summer was prominent on the catwalks back in September; with KTZ‘s layers, A.F. Vandevorst‘s grubby chic, girlish lace at Elie Saab, and otherworldly dimensions at Gareth Pugh.

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Photo credit: Style.com

CINCO DE MAYO & MY DRESSING TABLE

Can you believe it’s already 5 days into May? I was just getting used to the idea of April and then May came along and punched me in the face. Almost half way through the year and I feel older by the second. I moved home from uni this week and after much (and I really mean much) effort in packing two cars full of my belongings, I came back home where I realised nothing had a place in my room anymore. My clothes had nowhere to go, my shoes were lined up around the edge of the room and the makeup…. Ah the makeup. Makeup is my weakness, my guilty pleasure. No matter how many times my mum will try to convince me otherwise, there is always a need for nine shades of red lipstick right? Right?!

Having grossly misjudged my hoarding capabilities, I finally decided to sort out my (life) makeup once and for all, the results of which are shown below. All I can say is, all hail Muji and Home Sense.

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Makeup brush holder is actually a small plant pot from IKEA, brushes are mostly Real Techniques (all are dirty, been putting it off), acrylic drawer set from Muji, glass jar filled with cotton pads from IKEA and metal and glass container for single eyeshadows from Home Sense.

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Mirror from IKEA, glass container for lip liners and lip glosses from Home Sense.

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Muji acrylic drawer set, perfect for storing all of my MAC lipsticks.

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The bottom drawer of the set has a jewellery divider. I swear Muji is the best thing to happen to makeup/jewellery hoarders like myself.

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The glass container that I keep some of my cream and single eyeshadows in, it was something crazy like £5.99 in Home Sense.

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Rather a lot of makeup. I have another set of drawers underneath this unit that hold all my eyeshadow palettes, perfumes, skincare and haircare.