Saturday, 24 May 2014

No Shit Skincare Tips for Acne-Prone Skin

I've been dealing with acne pretty much ever since I hit puberty. Rarely does a day go by when I don't have at least one spot, & I still get pretty bad breakouts when I'm stressed or my immune system is low. What I'm trying to say is don't read this expecting some kind of miracle cure - I don't have one - but I do have a range of tips & tricks that help me keep my acne under control, & hopefully they'll help some of you too!

(If you'd prefer to get this information in video form then check out my YouTube channel here).

Tip number one seems obvious, but stick with me: clean your face. I get it, you clean your face, of course you do! So do I... except when I don't. You know: it's late, you're tired, you're drunk, so a quick face wipe will do, or maybe you'll go to bed with your makeup intact, just this once... But if you have acne-prone skin that's a risk you can't really afford to take. Ideally you should be doing a full makeup remover, cleanser, toner routine every night, even if you haven't worn makeup that day. It's also important if you have acne to be really comprehensive with your face cleaning, & make sure you don't end up missing areas as this can lead to breakouts. It's worth spending the extra couple of minutes it takes to get around your hairline, down the sides of your nose, & under your chin - places that can often get forgotten if you're in a hurry.

Once your face is clean you want to make sure that everything that touches your face is clean too. That means trying not to touch your face - particularly if you have open spots, washing your makeup brushes & sponges regularly - at least once a week, & keeping things like towels & pillowcases clean. I'd also suggest avoiding products that directly touch your face, like concealers that come in the lipgloss-style containers, because they can be really hard to sanitise - instead, apply them using a makeup brush which you can clean. Also avoid products that come in pots, unless you're willing to sanitize your hands before using them, because otherwise you risk transferring dirt & germs from your face into the product where they can multiply until the next time you apply the product to your face - not good.

Tip three is this holy grail product which has saved me from more terribly timed breakouts than I can remember. The Witch Blemish Stick uses witch hazel extract - which is anti-bacterial - to stop spots in their tracks & I absolutely swear by it. It's not an everyday product, but it's great for when you can feel a big spot coming up or for major breakouts - I've honestly had spots disappear overnight having used this product & at £2 it's a steal. The only thing I would say is that using this directly on open spots does risk spreading germs, so it's probably worth using a small brush to apply it, which comes with the added bonus that it'll last longer since you'll be able to apply it more precisely.

My fourth tip is to get yourself a good moisturiser. I know a lot of people with oily skin are really reluctant to use moisturisers - particularly rich ones - as it can feel like you're just layering on more oil, but I promise it's important. Often one of the main reasons for your skin producing too much oil is that it's feeling dehydrated & trying to counter that, so by providing it with a deep moisturiser you calm it down, & often you'll find your skin isn't half as naturally oily as you thought. My tip would always be to moisturise for your driest skin & use makeup for your oiliest parts, which for my oily-combo skin means using a deep moisturiser for the dryness I often get around spots & then using mattifying foundations & powders to counter my oiliness. If you're concerned about a rich moisturiser ruining your makeup then simply use a richer one before bed, & a lighter day-time one in the morning. The Olay moisturiser above is by no means perfect, especially considering how much it costs, but I do like how rich it feels while still sinking in quickly.

If you're still struggling with oily skin then this tip is for you: get a clay mask. Clay is great for drawing out dirt & soaking up excess oil from your skin, making clay masks perfect for acne-prone skin. My top tip is to avoid leaving your mask on too long. Instead, when you start to see it changing colour go & wash it off - its work is done & leaving it to dry out fully & flake can leave your skin feeling tight & delicate. A couple of months ago I received the Murad Clarifying Mask in a Glossybox & it is lovely, but the price is obscene. Instead I'd recommend the Seaweed Ionic Clay Mask from the Body Shop, which doubles as a gentle exfoliant when you first apply it.

My final tip is one which took me a while to get the hang of but is invaluable: be mindful of your skin. This means paying attention to what's happening with your skin & rather than writing things off to chance, thinking critically about what could be causing any changes you're experiencing. Often when you have acne it can be hard to notice patterns in your skin because it can feel like you're just all acne all the time, but becoming familiar with what's normal for you can help you identify problem products & areas where your skincare routine needs improving. A good example of this is a few weeks ago when I started to notice small spots appearing on the tops of my ears. This had never happened to me before & for a couple of days I just ignored it hoping they'd go away, but they didn't. So I started to pay more attention to my skincare & makeup routine, & quickly noticed that in my hurry to apply my contour each morning (exams meant I was in a perpetual state of running late) I was accidentally brushing product up & on to my ear. This combined with dirty makeup brushes & lazy face washing, was causing me to break out. Simple really, & easily solved with more careful makeup application & cleansing, but proof that it's worth paying attention to what your skin is telling you.

I hope these tips have helped some of you - I know they've definitely made a big difference to my skin over the years - & let me know in the comments below what your acne-fighting secret or holy grail product is, I'd love to know!

Monday, 19 May 2014

Is ASOS Premier Worth It?

Having just renewed my ASOS Premier subscription for the second time I thought I'd take a look at this VIP service & see if it lives up to the hype.

ASOS Premier is a subscription service offered by the online clothing store ASOS. For £9.95 a year Premier members get a range of benefits from free next day delivery to early access to sales, but is it worth it? I'm going to take a look at each of the perks individually, then discuss my experience of the service overall & hopefully it'll help you decide whether or not it's the right choice for you.

The first perk - & from my perspective, the most appealing - is free next day delivery on all orders. Now ASOS already has free standard delivery, & free next day if you spend over £100, so if you're just a casual shopper then it's maybe not worth it but I shop at ASOS pretty regularly & personally love the thrill of getting my order almost instantly. It's also great if you're looking for a last minute outfit for an event - particularly for plus size women, since high street options can be pretty limited. Next day delivery on orders under £100 is £5.95, so you only need to get two next day deliveries during the year & you've made your money back, which isn't bad, plus I haven't had a single issue with the couriers - they even give you an hour time slot in which your parcel will be delivered, so there's no hanging around all day. 

The second benefit, which is slightly linked to the first is that on top of free delivery you also get free returns collections. This means that rather than having to take any items you want to return to the post office or a Collect+ point you can register for your items to get collected by a courier. I've never personally used this service because I live just down the road from a Scotmid which provides the Collect+ service, but I can definitely see this coming in handy if you live in a rural area or aren't able to travel.

The third perk of the subscription is early access to all of ASOS' big sales. Personally, I think some of ASOS' items - particularly in the plus size section - are overpriced so the sales are a life saver, & getting early access is a pretty sweet deal. What usually happens is, 24 hours before a sale, you'll get sent a link either via email or text which allows you to preview the sale. Normally you can't actually purchase items until the next day, but it does give you a chance to eye up the offerings & add anything you're super keen on to your saved items list for later. There are also occasionally special discounts just for Premier subscribers, normally for a specific collection like Spring dresses, which can be great if you happen to get a code for something you were already looking for, although they can be a bit of a financial black hole if you're easily tempted!

The fourth bonus is the ASOS magazine, which you'll get delivered around 10 times a year. I'm not a huge fan of magazines normally: they're rarely my style, 90% of the clothes aren't available in my size, & usually they're so full of body shaming that rather than making me want to flaunt my style I'm left wanting to curl up in bed &/or burn everything to the ground. That being said, the ASOS magazine is better than most. I like the fact that there are a lot of practical styling tips - like how to wear items multiple ways - & even the editorial looks are still wearable. Yes, it's a bummer that most of the clothes shown are only available in sizes 8-18 & there are almost no plus size models featured - hence why I'll always prefer fellow bloggers for fashion inspiration - but I feel like a lot of the styling ideas are pretty universal & for most of the basic items there are plus size options available in the Curve range. The magazine isn't life-changing but it's a nice bath time read, especially when I'm feeling a bit down on my style.

The final perk is the ASOS Premier Live service. There's almost no information on what this actually is on the website, but as far as I can tell it basically entitles you to discounted tickets for events like music festivals, comedy gigs, sports & theatre. Honestly, this just isn't that appealing to me, especially as the offers seem to be provided through Last Second Tickets, which begs the question why you need the ASOS Premier membership in the first place.

As a plus size woman, ASOS is one of the few website where I can browse a range of stylish & interesting fashion choices, & when your options on the high-street are limited (or you just don't have the spoons to make the trip) having almost instant access to those items is amazing, which is why, even without the early sales access & the free returns collections, I'd still pay my £9.95 a year, because that free next day delivery is just to good to give up.

What do you think? Are you subscribed to ASOS Premier or would you consider subscribing in the future? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

New Beginnings

'Just Start' print, originally from Charm & Gumption on Etsy

I'm starting again. I've deleted all my old content, I've revamped my blog's look, & for the first time in a while I'm really excited about blogging.

It's not necessarily that my old content was bad - although some posts were definitely filler content, driven by guilt rather than inspiration - it's more that this is a pivotal time in my life - I've just finished university, I'm looking for my first graduate job, I'll be moving into my first 'adult' home - & I want my blog to reflect that.

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about wanting this blog to be more personal but also more political, & it felt too hard to make that change with my existing content staring at me from my sidebar.

So, what can you expect from this blog in the future? I'll still be talking about plus size fashion & beauty, but I'll be including more lifestyle content & talking more explicitly about topics like fat body politics & self love.

In the meantime, I've created a new FAQ page covering some of the most common questions I've been asked on this blog & on Tumblr, if you have any questions feel free to hit me up on Twitter, & I'll speak to all soon.
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