What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Periods

Gang, if you're someone who doesn't like to talk about periods or you think there's a limit to the discussion, today's post will more than likely not be one for you. I've talked about periods briefly only once before on NB; discussing the ways in which I make the whole riding the crimson wave easier and more pleasurable for myself but, I didn't really talk about the taboos and discoveries surrounding menstruation that I've made over the years. There seems to be a menstruation movement in the media in recent years where talking about periods is more widely accepted and encouraged and I could *not* be happier about this. Back when I was a pre-teen to teen, period talk was the bare minimum and the best (and sometimes the only way to find out anything about them) was in teen magazines with those agony aunt sections. Even then, the information presented was often basic, flowery with the language, and never straight to the point. It would cover the fact that you will leak blood for a few days, generalised that every girl and woman would be angry and upset during the whole process, and that was that. Since reading those slightly misguided mags as a 13 year old trying to understand the cycle she would endure for many years to come, I have discovered many more things - some good and some bad - that I just *wish* someone had mentioned to me all those years ago.

Periods are not the same every time. As a teen when I first started my periods, I was honestly led to believe that it would be a "same shit, different month" sort of deal and it absolutely is not. Most of the time my periods are extremely painful and draining for a good 2-3 days, but other times it's 1Ox worse and makes me generally ill - there's no other way to describe it. I also was not aware of the whole irregularity that many women experience and the whole "you will have a period every 28-32 days that will last around 3-5 days" one size fits all claims don't apply to many - including myself. Although I didn't go out of my way to ask if it would be the same each and every time, I feel like it's obvious general knowledge for all women who have experienced it at least a few times so you know, shout it from the rooftops a little more so the younger generation know.

PMS is not the same every time. And it's also not limited to *just* when you're actually *on* your period. Something I was also led to believe as a teen is that PMS would involve being angry, upset and tearful, and "acting crazy" and this was what to expect. When I think of the teen-girl magazines that I got this information from, they should have made more of an effort to explain that everyone is different and each individual might have different experiences from time to time - they certainly should not have fed into the "girls on their periods are crazy" bullshit that a lot of men (and unfortunately women) feel the need to shout into the void. Typically, I get a little bit tearful the week before my period, physically drained and sore/tender in various areas of my body, and my skin acts out and breaks out into extremely painful spots. These are usually "clues" that make me think I might be due soon, but no one prepared me to expect this before the period started. I then feel physically sick, have horrendous cramps and headaches, and generally just feel rough throughout my period so I actually feel pretty damn rotten 2 weeks out of the month. Bliss magazine didn't tell me about that now did they? It's also so important for people to be aware that PMS effects all women completely differently. Some with have physical ailments, some with feel mentally drained, some will be emotionally unavailable - it's such a unique experience for everyone who goes through it and it shouldn't be generalised.

Sometimes you won't have any symptoms and it will be a surprise... sometimes you'll get extra surprises. Once I started to get to grips with the idea that each period could be different each time, I then discovered that sometimes you won't get any warning at all - no PMS, no crying, no nothing. This can happen at the most inconvenient times and it doesn't matter how much you love being a woman and how period positive you can be, you will swear effs and jeffs at your uterus for being such a burden and party pooper. This can happen when you're on public transport, when you're swimming, when you're having sex... Taking it all in your stride is the aim but of course this is easier said than done. If it happens to happen when you're having sex, at least it will tell you a great deal about the character of the person you're sleeping with is all I'm going to say! The other end of it is that you might experience spotting or change in your discharge. Again, not being aware of these things can cause panic and distress but it's completely normal and you can sometimes even experience "mini-periods" where you might have a normal flow for a day then things might resume as normal. Period tracker apps can be a godsend for these surprises as if it something that is happening frequently and it is worrying you, you can view just how frequent it is and speak to someone about it.

You will either shit your guts out and need to do it more than regularly or you will be in a painful constipation coma. This is living, girls.

You will also potentially (probably) become incredibly horny and guess what? Having sex is fab. Periods are always talked about as being some disgusting phase every month that shouldn't be talked about - especially amongst teens I found - so one thing that certainly was never discussed when I was younger was period sex. Having sex on your period might not be for everyone but the important thing here is that it *is* an option and it can be enjoyable. People often curl their nose up at this as they think its gross or messy, but it doesn't have to be. If you're that bothered by it, try it in the shower! But I fully understand that not everyone is okay with the sight of blood, so for those of you who are curious and want to try it, here's a great blog post suggesting some easy ways to prevent period sex replicating *that* scene from The Shining. In all seriousness though, if you're with a partner who thinks its disgusting then I am sorry because your body is doing it's thing, it's going through it's natural process and actually? It's still just you and your body just slightly different for a few days. Period sex can be great as our hormones run high and we can crave sexual activity more than usual (not to mention orgasms can suppress headache pain to boot).

You will stain everything you ever loved. Especially at least a handful of pairs of your "nicest" pants.

There's more to periods than tampons and disposable pads. Fantastically informative period positive bloggers such as Cattitude & Co. and Eco Fluffy Mama are paving the way to educating more of us - young and old - in the ways of period talk and expectations but one area in particular that these two ladies (to name but a few,) are really excelling is raising awareness about disposable products. Disposable products have a shockingly large amount of "bad" ingredients but luckily, more companies and brands are going down an organic and natural route and products such as reusable moon cups and cloth pads are a thing and they're thriving. These options would have been a completely alien concept for me as a teen and I only really recently fully understood what they were, how they work, and the silly stigma surrounding them. There's a lot of different options out there for women to try and feeling confident and comfortable to explore these various options is becoming more accessible and filling us all with more knowledge with is fab.

Your period shouldn't be used against you. When I was younger (and possibly more naive? Who knows), I used to think it was okay for others to blame things on my period. If I was angry, hurt, or upset - oh it's because Amy's got the painters in. Ah, she's just lost her temper - it's because Aunt Flo's visiting. So many jokes are made about women's actions and reactions during "that time of the month" but honestly? I don't find them that funny. This isn't me being a Sensitive Sally here as I strongly believe when so many women can go through such extremely painful, draining, and frankly taxing periods, it's incredibly compassionless and actually demeans a woman's sheer daily strength.

Wanting to cough or sneeze will make you audibly scream "no no no!" every single time.

Day two of having the painters in will always be worse than the day one dread.

Being honest and open about my cycle is much more rewarding and confidence boosting. I would say until the last couple of years, I was actually quite ashamed of my period. I would hide sanitary products on trips to the toilet and certainly wouldn't have a chat about my period with my ex partner beyond the whole "I'm on this week" only to be met with a notification alerting me to the meme about how it was blow job week (I know. Woe is fucking me lads). Nowadays I'm very open about my period in my relationship and various friendships. I work in a predominantly female environment and I'm always so thankful that myself and colleagues tell each other when we're on our periods and when they're particularly causing problems. It makes my work environment more positive and has meant we've shared ideas, tips and tricks for easing cramps and heavy flows. It's also took my relationship to a completely different level because as silly as it may seem, it has created an air of vulnerability on both our behalves as I've been very vocal and Matt has been extremely understanding and eager to further educate himself. It makes the pain of my cycle easier to deal with and also makes instances like having an extremely heavy flow whilst out for date day lunch (sorry jeans, you were destroyed) something to react lightheartedly about by his side instead of apologising and feeling embarrassed.

Leaking is just something that happens and sometimes it just can't be avoided.

I feel like I could waffle on about this for so much longer and there's bound to be things I wanted to say that I'll only remember long after this post went live, but I think openly talking about menstrual cycles and the way they effect us is so important as it can be eye-opening and can produce valuable knowledge for not just women but friends, family, partners, and employers of said women. Some of us have unfortunately had pretty shoddy education on the topic at school, from parents, and from similarly clueless friends at the time it was most vital to learn, but now that it's becoming a wider topic in social discussions and stigma surrounding periods is slowly fizzling away, I hope people can see the great side to them and appreciate that talking about them only makes us more comfortable, accepting, and educated.

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Some Current Fave Face Masks

Happy Hump Day gang! Today I thought I'd share with you some of my current favourite face masks as it's been a long ol' time since I shared a post like this. Recently, my skin has generally been in pretty good condition for me, but I've been fighting some stubborn spots that have been hanging around and not fading, so I've been using some pretty damn good masks to try and fade the current and battle any future spots. I love all these masks I'm going to mention, but I love them all for very different reasons. So let's talk about why I love each one:

Oh K! Sleep Mask | 2Oml | £4.Oo - I've talked about this absolute joy of a mask on NB before, but it's still a favourite and one I use more than a few times weekly. The Oh K! sleep mask is really affordable and contrary to the packaging claims, I have gotten around 15-2O uses out of one 2Oml sachet so they're so good for cost per use. I apply this just as the brand instruct - just before bed to clean and dry skin. It's got a gorgeous smell and smooths over the skin gently cooling the skin briefly and feels extremely hydrating instantly. It takes a little while to sink in and depending on how thick of a layer you apply, the mask can sit on top of the skin but it isn't sticky or uncomfortable. I use this when my skin is looking tired, drained, or if I have any dry areas of skin (particularly after a bad breakout). The next morning, my face always looks plump, so much clearer in terms of blemishes, and has a great deal of deep moisture to it which doesn't make me excessively oily. I will always repurchase this mask but I just *wish* they'd bring out much bigger jars or bottles of it!

Pilgrim 55 Organic Black Charcoal and Liquorice Scrub Mask* | 6Oml-12Oml | £9.99 - £12.99 - Pilgrimm 55 are a skincare brand that are relatively new to me but after reviewing a few of their products last month, I'm happy to say I'm still using and loving the products I reviewed. This charcoal and liquorice mask is great for detoxifying the skin and is my current go-to choice when I'm facing problem/blemished skin but also facing sensitivity as this mask is surprisingly gentle on the skin. I love how natural this mask's ingredients are and the mask is incredibly comfortable to wear as it never dries down properly and doesn't make the skin feel tight or pulled. After using this mask, my skin instantly looks a bit brighter and more awake and then the next morning I also see a positive effect on my oil production and my acne. Although this is described as a "scrub mask", it is very gentle and makes the skin incredibly soft. If you want a mask that is super easy and nice to use and from a brand that are environmentally conscious
and cruelty free, try this one.

The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask | 75ml | £16.Oo - Okay okay guys, I love this mask and have sang it's praises before, but it's still a firm favourite. This mask is my heavy duty option and is the one I reach for when I need instant results and my skin needs a lot of TLC. The charcoal element of this mask totally gets rid of my excess oil and helps minimise my spots almost instantly. It dries down and is quite difficult to wash off but once you've scrubbed it off with a flannel, it buffs the skin to baby softness and makes your skin glow. It is a lovely face mask to use as it feels very luxury considering the reasonable price point and it has never failed to make my skin look more radiant and cared-for than before the application. I use this once a week when I feel I *really* need it and it rejuvenates my skin so I don't look so goddamn tired.

Although I often look for masks that can help with my oily, spot-prone skin, in recent months I've dabbled more and more with ones that promise the glow, nourished skin, and deep moisture. If you have any you'd recommend that you love, help a girl out and hit me up with your recommendations!

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Summer Dress-ing

As you guys are reading this, I'm frantically throwing the rest of my stuff into my suitcase for a glorious week back at home up north to see friends and family. As my current job runs over the school summer holidays, I'm not sharing the delight of the six weeks holidays like fellow teachers, so I'll take a week at home instead. It's my little brother's 16th birthday this week and I just can't believe he will be heading into sixth form in the next few weeks! The time has honestly flew by and I'm so proud to call myself his sister as he's turning into an incredibly witty, intelligent, unconditionally caring, and downright funny young man. I'm looking forward to treating him for his birthday (and also being a horrible big sister and making him do chores around the house that my mam let's him avoid). I'm also super looking forward to seeing my mam and just generally spending some time with my family. Living down south is absolutely grand and I love my job and where I live etc., but the amount I miss home is unreal at times so I just can't wait to be back in the frozen north.

I've purchased a new film camera too so I'm excited to get out and about and get some (hopefully) lovely photographs of the beauty countryside and of course, the stunning architecture, in and around Durham and Newcastle.

Second Hand Summer Dress | Asos Fedora (similar) |
Poor Boy Vintage via Asos Marketplace Saddle Bag (similar) | Truffle via Boohoo Clogs (similar)

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The Art of Being Afraid

Although I'd consider myself a very honest and open person here on NB, there's parts of me and my mind that I've refrained from sharing or that I've outright hidden away and why? I don't know to be honest. Maybe it's a fear of judgement, maybe it's a worry that people will reject me or what I've said or done... It's all negative concerns that make me keep some things to myself despite wanting to come across as a free-spoken woman because I hope everyone builds up the courage to be unreserved with their thoughts and their voice too. But I've realised the only way I can encourage that confidence in other people is if I follow my own wishes and advice and bring down the boundaries I've set for myself and this blog and I'm completely transparent. I know that a lot of my worries and concerns in and about life are consistent with worries of many others, so what better way of feeling better about them then talking about them, right? After reading the wonderful Rebecca from From Roses' blog post about things she's afraid to share, I felt empowered to join in the online conversation of confessions and share what I'm mighty scared of too.

- I'm afraid to rely on anyone except me, myself, and I. I have incredibly supportive relationships in every corner of my life but I find it extremely difficult to entrust things with anyone but myself. These "things" can be *big* things such as something like my finances or wellbeing or the polar opposite and be something as small and frankly insignificant as relying on someone to get the right cranberry juice at the supermarket. I'm very much a person who likes to feel in control of what I'm doing and struggle with letting others be remotely in charge of that. I think this is partly down to my anxiety and always assuming the worst is going to happen so at least when it does, if I'm in charge, I can blame myself easily but pointing blame at others is something I find tough to do also. This means I find it almost impossible to accept help - even when I truly need it - and instead will be stubborn through and through until everything goes a bit tits up because I can't do it by myself and then I'll have a meltdown about it as a result. It takes me a long time to open up in relationships of all kinds and although I am getting better at this, I still find it difficult to trust others even with information about myself let alone decisions or actions that could effect me emotionally, financially, or more.

- I'm afraid of making decisions about pretty much everything. Although I find it hard to enlist others to do anything for me, I also find it super hard to make decisions. It has gotten me into a lot of heated arguments over the years and somehow that has made me even more indecisive in increased fear of *still* making the wrong decision. Obviously I have made some incredibly big decisions in my life thus far - I moved 3Oo+ miles away from home, I went to university, I further studied to become a teacher etc. but day to day I can't do decisions. Everyone laughs at that video from the scene in The Notebook when Ryan Gosling keeps asking "what do you want?" to be met with "I don't know" again and again and people say this is what it's like asking your girlfriend what she wants to eat for dinner, and it's pretty much me in a nutshell. I always answer "plan A or plan B" type questions with "I don't mind - what do you want to do?" and it's partly fear of making the wrong choice and also partly fear of not pleasing others. I'm the sort of person who will go along with someone else's plan, even if I don't like it, if I think it will make them happy. It's not necessarily a bad trait of mine but it can be an extremely frustrating one for both myself and others. As you can imagine, struggling with relying on others yet also finding it difficult to make decisions for myself - both big and small - do not make for a good mix, so this is an area in my life I'm trying to desperately improve - for the sake of everyone's sanity, including my own!

- I'm afraid of dying young. I think many of us share this fear and most of the time I think I'm being overdramatic but there's times when my anxiety and insistent worrying gets the better of me and I really worry about this. Sometimes when I can't go to sleep, I start to worry about why and it all just snowballs from there - what if I go to sleep and I don't wake up? I have a sore stomach and that's why I can't sleep but what if that's actually an illness? What if it's something that's going to kill me?... You see where I'm going with this right? It's completely irrational and it's something I can make myself sick with worry over, but it's still something I do. Thankfully, it's rarely crosses my mind anymore as I'm relatively happy most of the time so the thoughts don't seem to surface as often, but it's still something that's always bubbling away.

- I'm afraid of being too selfish. Okay guys I'll always be honest and tell you I'm an incredibly selfish person. Whilst I do try to always please others (sometimes at my displeasure), overall I am selfish and will always do things to benefit myself. I very rarely show remorse for things like friendships ending or for saying something hurtful and to be honest, I'm quite pleased about that for a number of reasons. As someone who chronically worries about anything and everything, from whether or not people are judging me for wearing a certain colour lipstick or if what I said 4 weeks and 3 days ago to a colleaguge was taken the wrong way, being able to cut people off who don't improve my life and doing what I want a lot of the time without regard for others can sometimes be a blessing. I've cut off a lot of people in the last 5 or so years and it's not because they've necessarily done anything wrong, just that I realised being their friend was a chore rather than a positive aspect in my life or they were just a bit too much of a Negative Nelly about certain things and it ultimately dragged me down. It would be the sort of personalities that brought out the worst parts of myself - the parts I've worked hard to change for the better over the years - that are the sort of personalities I can be selfish against and not care about. Whilst this selfishness is great for the most part as it means the few decisions I do make myself will always have my best interests at the centre of them, I am afraid that this selfishness will leak into more important departments of my life and will someday have a negative effect on someone I care about dearly (which comes back to that whole not relying on anyone point - I guess I'm just a bit of a loner!).

- I'm afraid that I'm damaged goods. Let's be honest - very few people get through life without having at least one rough relationship that had a lasting impact on them but I would go as far as to say all of my relationships have been damaging except my current one. As an incredibly insecure young girl, I grew up seeking validation from others instead of striving for it within myself and that has unfortunately had a lasting effect on me. Every past relationship I have had has either involved cheating, control, violence, or emotional abuse. None of them have been smooth sailing and many of us are in the same boat. However this is not me pointing the finger of blame at everyone else because every time you do that, you have 3 fingers pointing back at you but that's the concern. I'm still scared to this day that negativities from past experiences have effected my personality in a way that makes me unlovable, nasty, or difficult to tolerate but this is something I'm aware that I can only try to grow from.

- I'm afraid I won't get my shit together, ever. Worrying about being self-destructive is one thing, but I also constantly wonder and inevitably worry over not reaching the full potentials I have planned for my life. My focus for a lot of my years growing up has always been creating a happy and stable family for myself. Although I had lots of ambition and plans for careers I was interested in, my ultimate goal was and still is a humble one in that I would like to have a happy marriage and children. As a 16 year old, I thought I'd have it all sorted out by 25. Sitting here at 26 still not married and certainly not with children, it's clear that life doesn't pan out as you expect. I try my best to coin and use the phrase "what will be will be" like some sort of mantra to live by, but realistically I want to give myself a good shake and demand to know *why* I haven't got this shit together yet. I am never a regretful person because I'm a firm believer that regrets only digress your growth, but those "maybe I should have studied this instead" or "maybe this is the wrong job" sort of thoughts slip into my mind now and again so I never feel fully in control of these things. Of course I know that 26 is still young in the grand scheme of things and yes, I know, I can change and improve all areas of my life and reach this goal of having everything "perfect" and the way I want it but, I'm very much a player in the millennial era so I want it all now, instant, on a plate and I'll be damned if I feel content until I get it.

- I'm afraid that I'm a fraud. I feel like in the contemporary world, the fear of being "exposed" is rife in society and I guess a lot of it goes hand in hand with social media and for me in particular, blogging as well. I'm often concerned that I feel like a fraud in certain instances and that at some point, someone will point this out to be true. Impostor Syndrome is very much a real issue for many high-achieving individuals who feel that their accomplishments are fraudulent and whilst I am not someone diagnosed with this, it is still something I feel pops up time and time again for me. If you read my post about switching to being cruelty free with my beauty, I touched on this a little when I said I often feel like I'll be called out for being a hypocrite as I'm a meat eater but I'm fully against animal cruelty. This "fraud" mindset filters into other areas like I often feel undeserving of my First Class degree in Archaeology and feel like a failure as a teacher. I know deep down there's no reasons for this and actually, I worked bloody hard to achieve both of these accomplishments, but there's always a niggling voice that says I either don't deserve these accolades at all or I earned them in a non-ethical/truthful way. Even silly things like discussing the health benefits of yoga on this blog then spending 5 days not doing it, slobbing out eating junk food instead, fills me with an overwhelming feeling of being a failure and an impostor and it's ridiculous as we're always told "we're only human", but it's just an inner monologue battle I have with myself daily.

We all have fears and concerns throughout life, both rational and irrational, that are equally as valid as the next person's. We all have things that eat away at us at times that can be for long or short periods and can be things we live and grow from or things that just change and adapt due to personal developments. Whilst we never fully escape from these fears, I like to try and view them not as a negative thing we need to tackle but actually as a positive. Having fears shows that you're growing. Having fears shows that you're aware of areas in your life that you may not be content with or that you see an opportunity for improvement. These fears shape who we and whilst they should not define us, the fact that we are fighting them and trying to overcome them every day should. That's why I hope you haven't read this post as a completely negative and downer of a post because actually? Owning your fears, being aware of what you are afraid of is a great thing - it makes you stronger, more informed and mindful, and more vulnerable to your own criticism which helps you develop. Far too often in the blogging world it is seen as poorly judged to show your vulnerable, not-so-perfect life, but we're all going through shit and man, does it feel good to get it off your chest! So to wrap this up, here's just a handful more of things I'm afraid of - both rational and completely bat-shit insane (enjoy):

- I'm afraid of getting jealous of what others have whether it's material things or emotional bonds will eat me up.
- I'm afraid of possibly being stung by a bee one day and discovering that I'm actually extremely allergic to one of my favourite animals and will feel betrayed.
- I'm afraid of pushing everyone away and being a bit of a loner will come back to bite me on the butt one day.
- I'm afraid that one day I'll eat a sprout and actually like it.
- I'm constantly afraid that all of my teeth will fall out but I'm also afraid to go to the dentist to ensure that they won't.
- I'm afraid that I will go through my whole life never knowing whether or not I can successfully live on my own as up to this point, I haven't had the chance.
- I'm afraid that my thin hair will be gross when I'm old.
- I'm afraid that one day I'll stop wearing thongs and will opt for larger pants.
- I'm afraid that my blog writing isn't good enough.
- I'm afraid that my blog photography isn't good enough.
- I'm afraid that past experiences were my "one chance" and they've sailed by.
- I'm afraid that despite all of these fears, I'm the happiest I've ever been and I'm scared that *this* is what happiness actually feels like.

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Tanya Burr Cosmetics Lipsticks

It's a been a wee while gang, but NB is long overdue a lipstick post! Since my Colourpop liquid lipstick and matte lippie stix posts, I haven't really been wearing any other lipsticks except those however, I was on the look out recently for some less drying, more care-free formulas that I could throw on for a long day of work and not need to worry too much about my lips drying out because of them.

So in this impossible search, I stumbled across the Tanya Burr Cosmetics lipsticks. Tanya Burr's makeup range isn't a brand I've been especially interested in as I don't really watch her channel and none of the products jumped out to me in store on previous visits. Recently however, I was rummaging around the the Tanya Burr section in Superdrug as I wanted to try out the contour stick (I found it and I can confirm it's pretty ace for us pale princesses, but I digress), but the lipsticks caught my eye because well - I just can't say no to lipstick. I started having a quick look at the selection of shades but came across these two and knew I needed to pick them up. You'll notice a trend when I try a new lipstick formula or brand as I always pick up a red and a nude so I can try the best of both worlds when it comes to my most worn colours. This time was no exception and I'm going to give you the lowdown on both shades, the formula in general, and if I think they're worth the money.

When I first picked these up in store, I was pleasantly surprised with the packaging before I even looked at the actual contents. The gold reflective square style is a nod to higher end brands but I was so shocked at the actual weight of each lipstick too. Typically when it comes to drugstore and budget brand lipsticks, the packaging is cheap light plastic but these have a bit of weight to them that isn't reflected in the low price point so that was a bonus. Upon taking off the cap to look at the shades, I was also happy to see that they have a snug push closure on the bottom of the bullets again, making the lipsticks feel more luxury and more expensive. There are six shades in the Tanya Burr Cosmetics range and all the lipsticks are a creamy, satin style finish. They're not matte and by no means glossy, but they have a muted sheen that wears off throughout the day and leaves behind the pigmented colour. I picked up the shades Pink Cocoa (a pinky nude shade) and Big Kiss (a rich berry red shade) purely because as I said, I like trying out a red and a nude when I first try a new brand or lip product, but also I thought these two shades in particular were a little different to what I already own.

I own a tonne of reds already and quite a few nudes, but I typically go for more peachy orange nudes and more true reds/orange reds whereas these who lipsticks are more on the pink side. Usually pinky-toned shades aren't my favourite, but especially Pink Cocoa looked absolutely beautiful in the bullet and as soon as I opened Big Kiss and saw the deep cherry shade, I was intrigued as they both looked like really wearable shades and also different to what I already own.

Tanya Burr Cosmetics Lipstick in 'Pink Cocoa' | £6.99: So let's talk about the nude shade first and the most wearable and certainly my favourite of the two. This colour is gorgeous and has quickly become a go-to choice for me daily, especially on days when I have work and want to look a bit more put together than a lip balm pulls my makeup. This shade is like a slightly darker more evenly pigmented version of my natural lip colour so it's great for a natural look when I just want a bit more definition to my lips. As I mentioned earlier, the formula is really creamy and easy to glide onto the lips and as it's such a "my lips but better" shade, I can quickly throw this on without much regard for how precise I'm being. As the formula is buttery, it makes the lips look really healthy and plump, doesn't dry them out, and is comfortable to the point I always forget that I've got it on. The one downside to this shade is that it comes off really easily. I find it doesn't transfer *too* bad, but when eating greasy or oily foods or drinking hot drinks, Pink Cocoa will sort of just disappear which, isn't a totally bad thing as it fades evenly so you don't get the dreaded halo effect on the lips, but you definitely need to keep it at hand if you're bothered about touching it up as it does not win the fight against food and drinks.

From left to right: Tanya Burr Cosmetics Lipsticks in shades Big Kiss (cherry red shade) and Pink Cocoa (pinky natural nude)

Tanya Burr Cosmetics Lipstick in 'Big Kiss' | £6.99: Next up is Big Kiss - the cherry red option. At first, I really wanted to pick this up because in the bullet, it looked like a nice deep wine cherry red rather than a bright vibrant one and as I tend to go for the more orangey red shades, this seemed like a great alternative shade. Once swatched, you can see that it isn't as dark or intense as it seems in the bullet, but it's still highly pigmented and has a lovely healthy sheen to it. On the lips, it doesn't apply patchy and it doesn't fall into the fine lip lines which is such a bonus especially when I'm used to wearing a lot of matte lipsticks which do. Just like Pink Cocoa, Big Kiss does have some not so good points but it's longevity is not one of them. Despite its rich colour, it actually holds up pretty well when drinking and eating, although of course you get more of the halo ring effect with this darker shade compared to the nude. It transfers like crazy, but if you blot it and reapply throughout the day, it gives the lips a good stain keeping your lips looking more put together and not trashed even after eating food. My one gripe with *this* shade is actually the slight bleeding you get from the product. When it comes to the darker shades, this lipstick formula is almost too soft and creamy as it actually gets quite difficult to get a nice neat and precise lip line. It's fine if you have the time and patience to work with a lip liner brush, but if not, it definitely needs a lip pencil to hold the product on the lips better as you do get slight feathering around the lips if you wear this shade for more than a few hours.

So all in all, I really approve of these lipsticks as they might not be the longest lasting or the least transfer proof, but their super rich vitamin E formula helps keep the lips nourished and conditioned so they're a great option for wearing on long days or as "break days" in between wearing intense matte formula lipsticks that inevitably dry out anyone and everyone's lips. At £6.99 a piece, they're really reasonably priced and look a lot more expensive than they reatil for and they're a nicer quality than a lot of drugstore lipsticks at the same price. Another added bonus of this particular line compared to many other drugstore rivals as well is that they are cruelty free too. I'm interested in trying out more of the shades (in particular Bear Hug - a nice nude brown - and Sunday Walk - a mauvey autumnal shade - so no doubt I'll be picking those up sometime soon!

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The Maxi to Beat All Maxis

Happy Monday my loves! I hope you all have productive and enjoyable weeks. I'm super looking forward to this week just being over and done with as I'm finally going home to the north east next Monday and although I visited home just four months ago, it feels like an eternity and I just can't wait to get back to see friends and family. I *love* Newcastle and Durham and I think I've mentioned it before here on NB about how much more I appreciate so many different aspects of my home cities now that I don't get to be in them every day. Durham is just magical - especially on a sunny or a crisp snowy winter day as the cathedral, castle, and riverside alone make it look straight out of medieval film (or you know, Harry Potter wink wink), and the architecture, culture, and buzz of everything Newcastle has to offer was always something I overlooked when I was younger but now I see it for all its beauty.

But aside from wishing my life away, I've also made a few further changes to my lifestyle and I suppose this post is as good as time as any to let you all in on one change in particular - my spending habits when it comes to fashion. I talked about saying goodbye to fast fashion and trying to curb my spending back in May and whilst I definitely have and I've managed to get rid of *so* much of my wardrobe, I haven't managed to harness my spending how I wanted to yet. I am still slowly working my way towards a more concise capsule wardrobe which is getting smaller and smaller each month (which I'm super happy about), but I want to also change *how* I source new items. I talked about sustainable fashion in my fast fashion post and explained just a few ways about how many fast fashion high street stores aren't sustainable and are actually harming the environment and therefore I want to look more into ethical, resourceful, and environmentally-friendly brands but also turning to the thrifting life. Thrifting has become a massive trend thanks to the likes of YouTube and I honestly think it's such a good movement and pleased to say it's influenced me positively. I am now only sourcing "new" clothing from second hand stores, vintage and charity shops, eBay and depop, and of course any hand-me-downs or swaps with friends. I thought it was fitting to mention here as this Asos dressed featured here is my last fast fashion purchase and I hope it remains the very last one I ever make.

Asos Ditsy Maxi Dress | Gracie Roberts Vegan Leather Bag |
Matalan Sandals (same available from Boohoo - and in the sale too!)

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July in Review

Gang, can you believe we're in August now already? Can you believe it will be 2O18 in 4 months?! I *know*. This year is sailing by at lightning speed and I can't quite keep up with it. Unlike June, July felt like it went by incredibly quickly and I think it was partly due to a busy time at work and wishing it away.

The Personal
July saw developments in the whole house buying procedure and we're creeping ever closer to owning a place and I'm just ecstatic about it. It's still super terrifying because a lot of financial and emotional investment goes into such a big step, but it feels right and I just can't *wait* to have a space where I get to decide every little detail how it looks and functions. Other than house stuff, other grown up stuff this month i.e. my job was quick moving and seemed to go by pretty damn quick this month. It was the end of the academic year for me so it was all hands on deck to get my students through their exams, get ready for the next academic year, and just feel slightly rested before it all starts all over again. I started to also properly plan my trip home to the beautiful north east in August as I want to make the most of it. Living down south is great and all, but I've mentioned before that I miss Newcastle and the surrounding area more and more each time I head back there, so this time I need to make sure I squeeze as much as I can into the few days I'm there so I (hopefully) won't miss it too much before my next visit at Christmas.

For TV in July, I started re-watching Twin Peaks from the very beginning. Obviously back in May, the new series was released and although I'm desperate to watch it all, I wanted to make sure the whole story was fresh in my mind (despite knowing the ins and outs of it like the back of my hand). Although it's my favourite TV show, I never grow tired or bored of it so re-watching it is never a chore. For those of you who might have missed out on the cult classic, it's a now 3 season TV show created and directed by the every eccentric but equally as wonderful, David Lynch, and centres around the town yep, you guessed it - Twin Peaks. There's a murder at the very start of the show and the plot is focused on working out who committed the murder and why. As you may assume, the show also uncovers lots of other side stories as more characters are revealed and involved in the main story line and Kyle MacLachlan playing Special Agent Dale Cooper (the agent sent to the small town to solve the murder) is one of the best characters in anything ever. The show has a great sense of humour in spots, surrealism, suspense, and a damn good soundtrack.

Another show that I should have re-watched before the new season started just to jog my memory was Game of Thrones. I have been *so* looking forward to it coming back onto our screens as it's getting to the juicy parts i.e. the end and I'm completely guessing as to what route the whole show is going to go down. I don't think I need to discuss was Game of Thrones is here, but if you've somehow missed out on it so far in life, all I can say is if dragons, violence, politics, and boobs won't convince you it's a good show I don't know what will.

July seems to have been a bit of a movie month for me and has mostly been a horror film month at that. I think I must be getting into the Halloween mood a little early as the weather has been so abysmal as quite a few scary and gory ones have graced my screen. The first one I want to mention - simply because I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would - is The Hallow. The story centres around a husband and wife who move to tiny hamlet area in the countryside with their new born baby. A neighbour tries to warn them that it's a bad idea but of course - they don't listen. The reason it's a bad idea is because fairies live in the surrounding woodland area and they can be pretty intent on making fellow humans become fairies and they have a knack for stealing new born babies. Now, my description of it sounds like it'll be the worst thing you'll ever watch but honestly - it's great. It's not a jump scare nor a gore type of horror, but it keeps you on the edge of your seat nonetheless. Although you can tell this is your typical low budget UK based film, it's really good with some great acting going on. I'd highly recommend it.

Two other horrors I watched in July were The Green Inferno and Blair Witch. I've watched The Green Inferno before but if you're after mindless gore, shock horrors, then very few do it better than Eli Roth. The Green Inferno is about some American college kids who want to go and protect a rainforest area in Peru that is being deforested by a timber agency. They end up with a community - the same individuals they're trying to protect - and well, they find out their cannibals in the worst possible way. It's not the goriest horror in the world, but it's an okay watch. I also watched Blair Witch which is a 2O16 version of the cult classic The Blair Witch Project. It is filmed in the same sort of camcorder, vlog/documentary style way, but the story is slightly different. From what I can work out, the main character's sister was the main character of the second Blair Witch Project film so that would make this one the third part in the story (although it could be a standalone - it's not really that clear). It's of course a good jump scare film and focuses on the blair witch folklore and tale but develops it further by the group wanting to find a house in the woods which the blair witch is believed to be linked to. Initially, the film kind of seems to be doing the same old thing from the previous Blair Witch movies, but after a freak death in the story, it makes you quickly sit up and pay attention to the rest of the film. I quite enjoyed it but the original is still obviously the best one.

If horror films aren't your thing, maybe a ridiculous adult comedy about a talking bear can tickle your fancy instead. I quite enjoyed the first Ted film but honestly? Ted 2 might actually be even better. Ted 2 focuses still on Ted, the talking bear who swears a lot, smokes a lot of weed, and seems to get a lot of ladies, but the second movie sees him struggling to be recognised as a living being and not just a thing that is owned by a human. It has great humour throughout, the same familiar great characters, and also a pretty steady storyline for a second film!

There's been many fab releases this month when it comes to music but there's a few in particular I need to talk about right now. First up we've got to talk about the queen of my heart - Lana Del Rey - and her album, Lust for Life. Lana can do no wrong in my eyes but I was so excited for this drop as her last album was my least favourite so I had my fingers and toes crossed that Lust for Life would go back to more of her original sound and it totally has. There's some great songs on the album and some even better collaborations (Stevie Nicks anyone?!). The songs have Lana's typical modern twist on 5Os-7os style and I really love the whole album. Another album I was super stoked for was Tyler, The Creator's Flower Boy. Again, this album is true to the artist and very *Tyler*. I think these are my most favourite Tyler tracks to date because I find the lyrics so relatable and the songs are so easy listening and sound so vulnerable that I can have this album on loop and never get bored yet also dip in and out of it. It's just a fantastic album to be perfectly honest.

Boris are one of my favourite bands and their new release, Dear, is another amazing drop from them. I'm gutted to find out that this may be their last album ever being released, but if that is the case, they've ended their releases on a solid album. Dear sounds much more like "old" Boris as it's a much heavier and slower sounding album compared to their previous ones. I need to give it some more dedicated listening time, but if you like those sort of droning, slightly electronic, slightly gloom albums and/or bands, give Boris' catalogue a listen from start to finish and you won't be disappointed. I've also got to quickly mention a song release here that has got me mega excited for September. My ultimate babe, Chelsea Wolfe, is releasing a new album in September and from that long-awaited album, she released the song "Vex" this July as a bit of an extra taster after the last song release earlier this year. Vex is such a perfect song - it's very Chelsea Wolfe as it's gloomy, droning, yet angelic with her gorgeous voice, but I'm most excited as she seems to be sticking with the heaviness she had going on in her last album.

One last music-related mention I need to make here is the fact that Itch from The King Blues is doing a tour in October for his poetry book launch and release and it took me all of 1O minutes to buy some tickets to see his reading and show in Winchester later this year. The King Blues are a band I've always liked, but I've also always loved Itch's lyrics and him just as a person so I'm mega excited to see him perform in a more intimate setting and in a venue that I spent most of my evenings as a university student.

Video Games
Guys guys guys, I played quite a few video games in July and I've got a few I'd certainly recommend. The PS4 is great for including some ace games in their free games each month and I was stoked to see Until Dawn as part of the freebies this month. Until Dawn in a horror game that is like no other in my opinion. The first thing that ever attracted my attention about this game is the graphics - they have shot the whole thing like a horror film, using actual actors (some well recognisable) as the characters which helps the game have a lot more depth as the characters have such realistic facial expressions (not to mention it makes the graphics pretty damn impressive). The game is centred around a group of young people on a short vacation in the mountains at one of the college students' parents holiday home. Unfortunately, something happens to some of the characters right at the start of the game and then the main game follows the rest of the characters a year later when they revisit the same holiday home. I thoroughly enjoyed this game as it really focuses on the butterfly effect and is the first game I've played where my conversation decisions truly felt like they impacted the outcome of the story. The idea is you need to see how many people survive until dawn and it all rests on your decisions. I blitzed through Until Dawn in 2 days and I can't wait to play it again to see the other outcomes. It has plenty of jump scares just like a horror film and I really like the general story as the horror threat is not what it initially seems to be. There's lots of twists and turns that are unpredictable too which keep you on your toes. Although the game has a bit of a slow start, aspects of it like the functionality of the controller and the whole having to actually stay still when you're hiding (I'm being serious) helps to really submerse you into the story.

As if the TV show wasn't enough, I started (and have almost completed) Telltale's Game of Thrones game. The game follows a family that is not usually mentioned in the show and you play multiple characters from that family. It's in typical Telltale Games style and has 6 episodes you play through in which your conversation decisions impact elements of the story and the outcome of each episode. I've quite enjoyed the game and particularly seeing well-known characters - and the actual actors from the TV show voicing them - pop up but all in all the game is just okay - it's nothing to write home about. I've enjoyed some of the other Telltale Games games like The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead a lot more but it's still a good one to try out if you love Game of Thrones! The final game I'll mention is Everybody's Gone to the Rapture. This game has got to be the most chill game I've ever played and therefore I have to recommend it if the whole almost shitting yourself whilst playing Until Dawn isn't your sort of thing. Everybody's Gone to the Rapture reminds me of those old PC games that require you to click on things, listen, and then put the puzzle pieces together to work out the story. As the name states, you play someone who is wandering around a cute little British countryside village and it appears everyone has went to the rapture except you. There's a reason behind it and you need to find out what happened. It's a bit of a slow burner of a game due to not being able to run on the game (it takes *so* long to get around man), but it's a pretty game to play, interesting, and it has some of the best trophies if you're someone like me who needs to explore every nook and cranny and collect everything.

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2 Scrubs to Get That Glow

When it comes to healthy glowing skin, I used to be pretty against the idea as someone who oily skin the term "glowy" rings alarm bells. But now that I don't wear foundation, I'm finding it more and more desirable to have that "glow from within" look as it helps my skin look alive and fresh with no aid of colour correcting or coverage. So part of pursuing this glow has led me to exfoliation and scrubs. I used to avoid facial scrubs like the plague as I strongly believed they did more harm than good but when used in the right way and used only occasionally, exfoliation for the face can help lift dead skin cells, help skin look buffed and smoothed, and give your face an overall healthy look that your regular face wash might not achieve.

In my trial and error testing to find a great exfoliation scrub that suits me and my skincare needs, I think I've finally found two tip top options from the drugstore that are quite similar in their benefits and results, but vary from the lower end of the price point to the higher end of the drugstore options. Both scrubs work well but certainly have their differences so let's get into it:

Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Scrub | 75ml | £9.95: The first scrub I have to mention is the Glycolic Fix Scrub from Nip+Fab. Nip+Fab are a great drugstore brand that focus on individual skincare needs and really pack a punch in their products. They've recently branched out into makeup (which I'm excited to try out as it no doubt takes into consideration various skin needs) but for now, let's just discuss this gem of a exfoliator. The Nip+Fab brand have a whole Glycolic range but this scrub is the main star to me because it works wonders and only needs to be used occasionally. The scrub itself is jam-packed with with various acids that help get skin to the best condition including salicylic acid which helps with problem skin such as acne and redness and helps refine and brighten skin naturally. It aims to improve skin tone and texture with continued use and suggests using the scrub as often as once a week but no more than that. This scrub is incredibly abrasive on the skin - it's not completely sore to use, but you really do feel like you're properly buffing away any signs of dirt or dry skin. The scrub recommends you use SPF after using the scrub as it basically helps get rid of the top tired layer of skin so you need to protect the fresh but newly exposed skin. I use this once a week (usually on a Wednesday when my skin needs a mid-week pick me up) and it really helps to keep my skin looking and feeling happy.

Superdrug Naturally Radiant Brightening Micro Polish | 75ml | £4.99: As the name suggests, this micro polish scrub has a very fine and small scrub to it which makes it a great product to use throughout each week as it's not as abrasive on the skin as the Nip+Fab option. Despite being a scrub, it is incredibly gentle on the skin and I've raved about this range before and this product in particular is definitely a favourite. I tend to use this (if I haven't used my Nip+Fab one) twice a week - once at the weekend and again on Wednesday if my skin is starting to look tired. It's a great mid week pick-me-up as it helps brighten the skin with its ingredients including kiwi and mulberry extracts and these fruit acids help to even out uneven skin tone whilst also getting rid of those pesky dead skin cells. This whole range has a gorgeous scent to it which means it is a pleasure to use, but it is also great for any of you who have sensitive eyes as I can happily use this and have my eyes open and the product never irritates them. This polish also includes grape seed oil which is a great natural moisturiser so no matter whether you're a dry skin or oily skinned person, this stuff moisturises just the right amount and keeps the skin feeling fresh, smooth yet protected and not stripped. I'd really recommend this polish if you're in the need for a gentle exfoliator that still gets results (especially if you're a vegetarian or vegan as this product is suitable for both!).

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A Seventies Summer

Guys, I'm going to get real *real* with you here... I'm not feeling my blog at the moment. I read so many inspiring and thought-provoking blogs that I guess I'm just finding mine a bit pale in comparison as of late. It's hit me as a sudden wave and although I'm slowly making steps in the right direction with the sort of content I'm producing, I'm still feeling a bit "meh" about it all and I know this is something we all experience from time to time. I've been blogging on and off for just under 1O years. 1O long years of creating the same sort of content, which varying degrees of maturity, then eventually I've burnt myself out and stopped blogging, only to pick it back up again 6 months or a year down the line. NB has been the most "successful" blog since I started doing it in terms of number of readers, enjoyment for myself, and productivity and creativity it has ignited within me to sustain it for so long but I'm just not feeling it lately. That's not to say I will stop blogging because ha, I love it too much to stop, but it just means that I'm stepping back and truly assessing it and working out what I'm most frustrated about it and focusing on changing those particular things. For me at the moment, it's wanting to create content that's just not feasible - for example I'd *love* to do more travel posts or basically "bigger budget" images for my posts and I just can justify either of those things at the moment.

I'm hoping because I'm visiting my beloved north east in a couple of weeks time that I can kind of kickstart a bit of a travel bug for the blog in some way and fingers crossed that soon I can afford a better camera to up my photography as it's something I seriously enjoy but not having the gear does effect your enthusiasm for something (I don't care what anyone says). For the time being, I'm still going to post regularly on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday like usual, but maybe that will be subject to change if I ever get a blog overhaul underway.

Bershka Flared Sleeve Top | Asos Deconstructed Jeans | Asos Fedora (similar) |
Bohemia Design Bag | Office Clog Sandals (similar)

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