Sunday, 30 August 2015

Skincare Sunday: Battling Blemishes

Blemishes. The majority of us have them, and if you don't then well I officially hate you (not really, but can I have your skin please?). My skin is notoriously bad 110% of the time and after about 6 years of suffering, I am only just finding products that work for my skin and are helping to make so my skin is only bad about 90% of the time. Often when I read about hyped up products on blogs, I often wonder if beauty bloggers are raving about them because they actually love them. Or purely because products were sent to them by PR companies and brands.

Like I said, it has taken me an extremely long time to find products that make a visible difference to my skin. One of the biggest helpers in my fight against spots and blemishes has to be the Soap and Glory Peaches and Clean 3-in-1 Deep Purifying Cleanser. It is a gentle milk cleanser and I like to use it on a morning instead of my beloved Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish. It is great for removing any remnants of makeup although I don't tend to use it on an evening if I have been wearing makeup as I prefer to use my Garnier Micellar Water followed by the Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish. The Soap and Glory cleanser seems to really help clear up my skin when it's suffering. 

When my skin is suffering, I follow up with a soothing toner - preferably with gentle natural ingredients. The Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic hydrates and balances my complexion perfectly. It adds just enough moisture to keep my skin look healthy and fresh, whilst soothing and calming those troublesome spots. One of the main ingredients is glycerin, which is brilliant for those with dryer/dehydrated skin as it adds moisture lost from harsh spot-fighting products. 

One of my latest rediscoveries are the First Aid Beauty (FAB) Facial Radiance Pads. Last summer I put my absolute faith in the SKINCARE GOD that is Caroline Hirons, and spent quite a little bit more than I would have liked on the toning pads. When I first got them, I couldn't really see any visible differences - but after rediscovering them, they have done a whole host of good to my skin. They contain various acids which help stimulate new skin cell renewal, banishing those horrible marks and scars left behind after a blemish has long since healed. 

Another rediscovery I have made recently is Sudocrem! I haven't used Sudocrem as a way of battling blemishes since I was about 14. I seem to remember it working really well, but wasn't a fan of buying it as it wasn't branded as a spot treatment and I felt awkward going out to buy 'nappy cream'. But with the launch of the new Sudocrem Skin Care Cream*, I now deem it socially exceptable to go out and buy some. It is a product aimed at every single skin type you can imagine. Whether you have combination, oily, dry, sensitive skin or everything in-between - it works wonders on blemishes! I like to apply it directly to my blemishes or as an overnight face mask. It can also be used as a moisturiser, but I ended up looking paler than I already am if thats possible, so decided this didn't work for me. The Sudocrem Skin Care Cream is incredible for soothing blemishes and when used overnight, you wake up with the softest and glowiest (is that even a word?) looking skin! Plus at only £2.11 per tube, IT IS AN ABSOLUTE BARGAIN. 

Have you got any skincare saviours that you want to share?
Thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x

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The Sudocrem Skincare Cream was kindly gifted to me by Sudocrem for the purpose of a review. If you have any queries or questions you can read my disclaimer or email me on the email on my contact page. 


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Celebrating 1000 Followers With Bakerdays

UPDATE! The giveaway has now closed!

Hello friends! As I'm sure you may have noticed, in the last week I reached 1000 followers on my blog(!!) and the lovely people at Bakerdays got in touch to see if I'd like to celebrate with one of their lovely letter box cakes! I obviously said YES as who could turn down an opportunity for cake?!

When the cake arrived I was impressed that it actually did fit through the letterbox! I know, it’s a Letterbox Cake, so obviously it will fit through the letterbox, but I was still impressed! When I opened up the little box, the cake was inside a beautiful tin alongside a little note card, balloons, a couple of candles, some balloons and a party blower. I thought this was a lovely touch that made the gift seem a little more personal and worth the money - plus you can use the tin to store the cake in so it doesn't go all dry and stale!
I was excited to see what the cake would look like as I'd not given them any specific design ideas, just telling them to be creative haha! But when I opened it up THEY HAD WRITTEN MY NAME ON IT!! I've never had my name on a cake so it made it even more special! It had an absolutely gorgeous design and I'm so happy with it!
You can choose from six, yes six different flavours of cake - vanilla, chocolate chip, chocolate and vanilla layered, fruit, and theres even gluten and dairy free! My cake was vanilla flavoured, and this is exactly what I would have chosen if I'd have been placing an order! AND OMG IT TASTES FREAKIN' DELICIOUS! The cake itself lasts for around 14 days according to Bakerdays, but if I'm honest mine lasted about an hour before it was demolished. It would have been eaten quicker, but I had to photograph it for the purpose of this blog post!

You can personalise a cake with different messages, your own photos or simply choose one of over 400 pre-made designs with a standard greeting like 'happy birthday' or 'congratulations'. The letterbox cakes start at just £14.99 including delivery (price includes a 7 day delivery, you can pay to have it delivered sooner though). Simply go to their website to choose and create a special gift for someone (or even yourself if you're in the mood!).

Giveaway Terms and Conditions 

Bakerdays are offering the chance for one of my lovely readers to win one of their very own cakes so you can celebrate along with me! It's very simple, all you have to do is follow the instructions mentioned below. The giveaway will close one week from the date of this post (closes at 2pm on 02/09/2015), and a winner will be selected entirely at random by myself. 

1. Follow Bakerday's on their Twitter
2. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
3. Follow my blog on Bloglovin'
4. Consider voting for me as the Best Up and Coming Beauty Blog here
5. And last but not least, leave a comment down below so I can get in touch with you if you are selected as a winner!

Thanks for reading and best of luck!
Love Charlotte x
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P.S! I have been shortlisted for the Best Up and Coming Beauty Award in the #BloggerBlogAwards and I would be absolutely over the moon if you could go over and vote me as winner! Eeeeeeek!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Another Lush Cosmetics Haul

Hi Friends! So after I posted a photo of my many Lush bags on Twitter the other week, a few of you asked if I would do another 'haul' post. Judging from my stats, most of you seemed to really like my last Lush haul! I was trying not to do any shopping due to the fact that I am trying to save up to buy a new phone. But as my sister's birthday was coming up I needed to get her a present and she loves Lush almost as much as I do. And of course, I couldn't help but pick up a few treats for myself too! In the end I came out with 3 of the large bags!

I was actually in Lush for over 45 minutes! Probably the longest time I have ever spent in Lush! And I came out with some colourful new products that I've never tried before. The star of the show has to be The Comforter Shower Cream! I wish I had a photo of my face when I saw it in the shop - I got so excited when I saw it in Leeds rather than on Oxford Street in London where it was exclusively sold! Although I didn't realise how expensive it was till I was checking the price to go in this post! This 500ml bottle apparently set me back £15.95! Although I suppose if you compare it to the bubble bar at £4.75, I suppose it works at quite a bargain! You can buy it in 100ml, 250ml, 500ml and even 1 litre bottles - I didn't see any 1litre bottles but I bought the biggest as the scent is my all time favourite!

Another of the new products I picked up was the Cosmic Warrior Fresh Face Mask. I've never tried any skincare from Lush and many people rave about their facemasks. The past few times I've been in I've browsed their skincare products, but been so overwhelmed I've just left. But this time Inwas determied to make a decision and choose one. I read all the product descriptions and decided to opt for the Cosmetic Warrior as it was the only one that mentioned 'spots'. Something I tend to look for in a facemask. Since buying it I've used it once and my skin really seemed to like it! When I was at the till, one of the assistants mentioned that it was 'too aggressive' for her skin and that 'if I could get past the strong smell of garlic' I might like it. This worried me a lot, but In reality I can hardly smell the garlic - only tea tree oil, which I love the smell of. I'm currently loving it, but it does kind of annoy me that you have to keep it in the fridge as thats not somewhere I tend to keep my beauty products haha!

Like I said, I've never tried anything other than bath and body products from Lush so I thought I'd try some of their gorgeous looking soaps. I purchased the 'Bohemian' soap and the new 'Sea Vegetable' soap as I liked the scent of the two and thought the colours would look nice in my bathroom. The Bohemian' soap (the yellow one) has a subtle lemony scent. I don't really know what else to say about it as how descriptive can you be about a bar of soap? The 'Sea Vegetable' soap is a gorgeous dark green/navy blue colour. I think it smells like ginger and mixed spice although as the name suggests its supposed to smell like sea vegetables. Although having never smelt a sea vegetable (I've eaten seaweed at a chinese restaurant, does that count?)  I cannot comment on this whatsoever.

As I was picking out a few bath bombs and bubble bars for my sister, I decided to treat myself to another 'Floating Island' bath melt after using my last one the night before. I briefly talked about this in my last Lush haul, and although it looks extremely unimpressive, it leaves your skin silky soft and smelling beautiful!

And finally, on an impulse as I was feeling particularly generous that day (I mean come on, I bought 2 bags of Lush for other people), I bought one of the little charity pots at the till. I'm yet to try this but for £1 you can't really complain.

What have you all been buying recently?
Thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Best All-Round Concealers Under £10

Concealer. A basic essential for pretty much every makeup bag. But with so many to choose from nowadays, who even knows where to start? I spent years (and I mean years) looking for the best concealers to cover a multitude of sins, and this year I finally found a good range of them. 

Collection Lasting Perfection Ultimate Wear Concealer - in shade 'Fair (01)' (RRP £4.19)
I remember trying out the Collection (or Collection 2000 as it used to be known) Lasting Perfection Concealer when I was around 14 and I thought it was the worst thing on earth.  But a couple of years ago everyone started raving about the product and I had no idea why after I hated it so much. Reluctantly I repurchased it, and I was actually amazed! I was so surprised after disliking it so much, but now know I couldn't imagine not having a tube in my collection. I have pretty much the palest skinned face in the world and often struggle to find shades to match. And even Collection, with their extremely limited shade range, manage to cater for skin matching that of albinos. Even if it is just slighlt too pale for my skin, the 'Fair' shade (01) is incredibly good at brightened those under-eye dark circles and it covers blemishes with ease! I'd warn against those with dry skin trying this though as it can sometimes emphasise and stick to dry patches, but for everyone else its brilliant! I have stereotypically combination skin and it suits by skin type perfectly!

Soap and Glory Kick Ass Concealer - in shade 'Light' (RRP £10.00)
First of all, I know you are all thinking 'that looks like it is so much more than £10', but it isn't! Now although this is at the top end of the budget at a bargain £10, you certainly get a lot for what you pay for. This sleek Laura Mercier like packaging includes a translucent setting powder and two (yes two!) shades of concealer. One for blemishes, and one for covering up those stubborn under-eye circles. Like the Collection concealer, it has an ridiculously small shade range; consisting of just 3 different shades (light, medium and dark), but what it lacks for in shades it makes up for in camouflage power! It is INCREDIBLE at covering up blemishes. I like to use my fingers to dab it onto blemishes as it helps give a natural finish whilst hiding those horrible spots. Having both concealer and a translucent setting powder, it makes a perfect product for throwing in your handbag or taking on travelling adventures - especially since it has a built in mirror and a little powder puff! 

Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer - in the shade 'Ivory (100)' (RRP £5.49)
This little bargain, is probably one of the best concealers I have ever purchased (and repurchased). And I'd probably never have even considered it till I ran out of concealer and my sister gave me this as a replacement. It is amazing at both covering up and correcting. This is a perfect one stop shop if you are a girl on the go! The formulation makes it perfect for blending out and adding excellent coverage where needed if you don't fancy covering your face in a thick or heavy foundation. Like the foundation from the same range (Wake Me Up Foundation), the concealer has a slight shimmer to it which aids to brighten dark areas. Don't let that put you off though, it doesn't make you look like an extra in Twilight - but it does "wake you up" (ha get it?!). 

If any of you lovely lot have any recommendations for budget concealers, please leave them in the comments - I'm always on the hunt for different ones to try out!

Thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x

Sunday, 16 August 2015

How I Edit My Blog Photos

Hello everyone! I often get asked about how I take and edit my blog post photos. So I thought I'd write this quick post showing you how I ALWAYS edit my product photos. When doing the screenshots for you to see what I do, it reminded me of studying A-Level Photography - having to screenshot every single step of an edit! I used to HATE doing that because I used to forget to screenshot stages and have to go back and do it all again haha! 

When editing my blog post photos I try to keep them as simple as possible.  If I had the time or energy, I could airbrush and completely chop and change my photos - but then you would see an image that made products look completely different. The main goal for me is to make a nice, bright looking image whilst keeping the colours of the products the same as they are in real life. I mean nobody wants to see a lipstick they like, go to buy it and find out that it is a completely different colour to the photo they'd seen. 
I always take my photos on a plain white background as I just prefer the look, and once I have got a few shots I transfer them onto my laptop to see if they look ok blown up rather than on the tiny viewfinder. I then sort through and see which ones have the best composition. Sometimes there is none, sometimes dozens. After I have found a decent shot, I open it up in Adobe Photoshop (CS6 Extended) and crop it down so it looks more interesting. I haven't shown this in a screenshot as I'm sure you all know how to crop a photo! 

After that I use the 'Curves' tool to alter the tones in the image. I use the tool to alter the mid tones which usually means the colours in the background (in this case the white background). By doing this I can achieve the style of photo I love! As you can see I have dragged the line upwards to make it into a curve if that makes sense.  By dragging the line upwards it brightens the tones and if you drag it downwards it has the reverse effect making the tones darker. 
Next to add a bit of contrast to the image I use the 'Levels' tool and simply just slide the bottom slider towards the right. I don't tend to touch the other sliders unless the image is still on the dark side. In this case it wasn't so I just moved the first slider SLIGHTLY to the right. Usually I only need to move it to number 3 or 4, but in this case I had to move it up to number 26! 

And thats it! That is literally all I ever do! So you can see how easy it is to create professional looking photos yourself! I do hoped this proved helpful for those just starting out using Photoshop. This is incredibly simple to do and I bet even my mum could do it if I showed her the steps! 

Thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

How To Gain Blog Followers and Page Views

Hi Friends! First things first, I'd like to apologise for the irrelevant photo (I like flowers ok?), and the slightly misleading title - I'm not going to reel off a list of things that will be a given way to drive up followers. But I am going to give a few suggestions on how you may be able to say hello to a few new (and hopefully returning) faces. 

Get yourself out there
This is a phrase I like to use an awful lot on my blog, and it seems only fitting to include it here. How are you supposed to attract new readers when you don't put yourself out there! Try sending emails to other bloggers asking if you could guest post on their blog. If they agree, it will put your content out to a whole other audience and some of them may really like your style!

Followers are real people too
They want engaging content, fresh ideas and something that makes your blog worth reading. So before you worry about building up the follower count, start focusing on putting out some kick-ass content. Usually, bringing in fresh new content attracts new readers! I recently read somewhere, that blog posts should be at least 300 words long in order to stimulate readers and optimise results on search engines such as Google. 

Create a brand for yourself
Try and make your social media handles the same as your blog title so readers can easily find follow you across multiple platforms. For example my Instagram handle is @charlottesophiaroberts which is clearly the same as the title of my blog. Totally not a plug ;) If only Twitter allowed a couple for characters so my Twitter handle could be the same!!

Be social
If you haven't already, go create yourself an account on pretty much every social media platform you can think of. Every time you publish a new blog post, share a link with an interesting caption instead of the clichĂ© "NEW POST…". Give other bloggers feedback on their posts and interact with your followers. It gives a more personal touch, which a lot of people like! If you really want to make an effort, take part in the various Twitter chats (such as #bbloggers or #bdib) throughout the week. You meet so many likeminded people, and sometimes they even become readers!

Something I have been really trying to work on recently, is using Google Analytics to keep an eye on the interests of my readers. As far as I know it only works on the Blogger platform; but it is able to tell you exactly who reads your blog, what their interests are and how many return regularly. I must stress that occasionally looking at your stats isn't enough, you need to take into account what they tell you! If the majority of your readers want beauty, post more beauty related content! 

Why would people read your blog if you aren't willing to read blogs yourself? Read others' posts and take inspiration! You never know where an idea for a post could come from! As well as simply reading posts, you can show further support for others' blogs by leaving nice comments. As well as making someone's day, you may even get a few page views from other commenters!

Leave your links everywhere! Within reason of course! Don't go around Twitter sending random people your link, but DO make sure you have a link in all of your description boxes. When it comes to your actual blog, make sure to include links at the bottom of each post (I've had a big increase in Bloglovin' followers since I started to do this!) - as well as being dotted around all over your site.

Thats all from me for now, but if you have any tips of your own - make sure you leave them below!
Thanks for reading!

Love Charlotte x


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Nokia Lumia 640: A Trial and Review

Since the age of about 11 I have been a true Apple fanatic. Since then I have owned multiple iPhones, an iPod and a MacBook Pro - absolutely loving all of them. As sad as it sounds, my life completely revolves around my phone and after having some form of iPhone for over seven years, I couldn't imagine not having one. So when Microsoft got in touch offering me the opportunity to take part in their Lumia Voices campaign and trial one of their Lumia phones for two weeks - I jumped at the chance! 

I was offered to trial the Lumia 640, one of the latest releases from Microsoft. I haven't had a Nokia phone (or anything else other than an iPhone for that matter) since I was 12 years old when I had a Nokia N95 so I knew it was going to take some getting used to. The opportunity was perfect timing as my existing phone is on its last legs and I was preparing to go straight ahead and buy an iPhone 6. As a blogger and a student, my phone is essential to my everyday life. It isn't just a phone, it's my personal assistant, my calendar, my alarm clock and my form of communication with the outside world. Apple is renowned for its sleek designs, amazing software and its ever-expanding app store having pretty much every app you could ever think of. So you can see why I couldn't see the point in checking out the competition. 

When the phone arrived on my doorstep, I was shocked at how beautiful it was! The sleek design, the bright orange hardware and the impressive looking interface. I honestly wasn't expecting it to be as good as it is. I didn't want to compare it to my iPhone but, whilst using the Lumia, I couldn't help it! There were so many similar features, some features that Apple do not have and some features that Apple has and the Lumia doesn't. 

Essentials // First lets talk about the most important stuff. It is extremely well designed. The sleek hardware makes it look so much more expensive than it actually is. I was shocked when I looked at the price!! I expected it to be about £300 but it is infact only £129.99 to buy outright/sim free!! It comes in a few different colours (black, white, blue and orange) and has the option to mix and match the different coloured backs which I thought was a nice touch! Alongside the impressive hardware is the brilliantly designed interface/operating system. After hating Windows 8 on my sister's laptop so much, I was really worried that I wouldn't get on with the tiled interface. I thought it would be so complicated to use but infact it was the complete opposite! Even my mum found it simple and she is pretty rubbish with technology (she gets impressed when she manages to attach a document to an email). Another impressive feature on the Lumia 640 is the battery life! My iPhone battery currently lasts 20 minutes (I'm getting a new phone soon thank goodness!!) so pretty much anything could top that at the moment! The specifications mention a 17½ hour battery life, but the most I managed to get out of it (with my normal usage) was 24 hours and 27 minutes! 

Connectivity // Unlike the Apple iPhone, you don't have to worry about planning how much memory you're going to need (16GB, 64 GB, 128 GB. etc), as the phone is only available as 8GB. It has space to slot in a micro SD card (up to 128GB) which are relatively cheap to buy and certainly cheaper than buying the storage already built in. The phone uses a micro-sim and is 4G enabled meaning you can use super fast internet if it is part of your phone tariff. According to the Microsoft website, you can also use the new wireless chargers that are making a scene on the market! You do however have to buy them separately as the phone just comes with a basic wall-USB charger. 

Camera, Video and Audio // This area was one of the biggest let downs to me personally. The phone boasts an 8MP camera and the ability to change the camera settings (ISO, shutter speed, aperture). The video was fine, but I didn't like the camera when it came to taking still photos. Although the quality of the images is pretty good, my real gripe was the fact that it does this strange thing where it takes a short video and clips the best frame to save as your photo. This annoyed me a little as I am so used to tapping the screen to focus and snapping a quick photo. As well as the camera, the audio bugged me a little because the speaker is on the back of the phone (rather than the front or sides), meaning that if you are listening to music or watching a video - you can't hear it if you put the phone down on the table! When holding the phone in your hand, you have to be careful not to cover the speaker with your fingers. As you can see in the second image, the speaker is positioned in the exact place where your hand would sit naturally.

Productivity // Cortana has to be one of the main forms of productivity with the Lumia 640. Similarly to Apple's Siri, Cortana is able to create reminders, set alarms and even open apps ("Cortana, play House of Cards on Netflix"). Microsoft have made sure that Cortana is fully integrated with everything on the phone - unlike Apple where Siri can only perform certain tasks.  Alongside Cortana, there are all the usual smartphone features, including; a calendar, email and an alarm clock. There isn't however a built in stop watch or countdown timer which I use regularly on my iPhone to make sure I down burn my chicken nuggets or my soufflĂ©s.

Overall I have been incredibly impressed with the Lumia 640, but I don't think I'll be swapping my iPhone quite yet! I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would and I'm actually kind of sad to see it sent back to Microsoft now that my trial is over.   

Would you consider buying this phone? Would love to know your thoughts and feelings in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
Love Charlotte x

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