Wednesday, October 18, 2017

When To Say No To Blogger Collaborations

I wish I'd had a post like this when I first started out blogging, because I'm not afraid to admit that I pretty much accepted anything and everything 4 years ago. I had nail decals, clothing I had to send back because LOL I didn't think that one through and a liquorice all sorts dress that I accepted because I didn't want to say thanks, but no thanks. I guess you could say it was a learning curve.

The early days of blogger collabs were more about obtaining that holy grail backlink rather than a little mention on Insta. So 4 years back in time I used to get sent a lot of stuff to review. I was in correspondence with my fair share of PRs, I played the field a little. I learnt when not to sell myself too short and when to run at the opportunity with open arms. Most importantly, I've learnt when to say no, and why I should be saying no.

My Blogger Collab Criteria

Is it on brand tho? Now I know where I am and who I want to be, I know whether something is on brand or not. So maybe I did before, but I was desperate back in the day to get sent something for free, because if that didn't make you a proper, profesh blogger what did? 

I'm not even talking about plugging e-cigarettes if you're a fashion blogger, those are the obvious ones that you hopefully won't touch with a barge pole. You need to be asking yourself the following 3 questions before even thinking of going any further;

Do I like the products & their brand?

Will I wear/use the products after the review? (WILL THEY BE ON DEPOP 1 WEEK LATER THO)

Is it something that I would buy?

This is the make or break for me, because if it's not something I would normally buy then why the hell am I doing it. You need to be enthusiastic and excited about it, as this is what is going to show through in your content and photos. So here I am laughing to myself about that bright yellow tracksuit that your nan would have bought you in the 90s and turning up to what I thought was an evening of theatre, which involved 10 other people over the age of 70 and a meal that you'd expect at the school canteen. Then there's nothing worse than that follow up email, 'hey hun, when is your post going live?' - it's this email that still haunts me now. How am I gonna write about an event/product I don't even like. You know the content won't be good, but you feel too bad to say 'sorry, I just don't like it enough to blog about it', so you push bad content out, move on and *hopefully* won't make the same mistake twice.

We have all been there and it's the worst. My love for writing has grown to an existential level over the last few years where I blog because I like it and not for those freebies we all become accustomed too. I will probably only say yes or even reply to 1 out of 5 things I get approached on now. Even if I was being offered dollar dollar bill for something I didn't feel happy about, I'd still probably say no and that's probably the most important thing. 

Payment Terms

I get asked by a lot of non bloggers how collabs work. When products are involved there is always your two classic ways, 1) You're sent the item for free in return for a review (no payment is exchanged) 2) You receive an item for free and are expected to review/post on Insta in return for an agreed payment. You *may* even have to chase said invoice for 4 months, or more, so that's nice.

I do not do any blogger collabs for free, in the sense that I will receive something for any work I do, my time is money. I will not plug products in return for nothing. I used to be bashing blog posts out left right and centre for that potential chance of 'exposure' and being shared across their social channels that only have 70 followers. Nah, you're alright.

It's hard when you're a new blogger, everyone does it, and that's okay. It's about learning and finding what your worth within the blogging world is, and that always is worth something.

I do more 'here's something in return for a review' than 'here's something free and £343647'. It has to be a mutually beneficial partnership in my eyes too, the terms have to be right for both of you. Don't sell yourself short, and always ask for more if you see fit. I work very closely with a few brands that I absolutely LOVE, and It's not like I'll ever say no to a free packet of Chocolate Digestive Biscuits or a jar of Marmite for a blog post, because priorities. Gurl gotta eat something during those Netflix binges.

As soon as you're being asked to write a blog post to be entered into a competition, have the potential to get social exposure and basically receive nothing, that is when you say no. Tbf most of these emails go straight to my junk now, but just a heads up that however small or big your blog is, know that your blog is always worth more than giving some PR a lil freebie.

How To Say No

If you're a bad blogger like me and sometimes go days before you remember to reply to an email, you'll probably not even end up replying. It is courtesy to reply, because these PRs may have potential opportunities for you in the future that could be more suited to you. Plus, it's just rude.

Always email back if you can, or in my case also apologise that it's taken you a month to reply. You'll know what is right to reply, but you can never go wrong with 'I'm really sorry, but I don't have the time to take on any blogger collabs at the moment, thanks for the opportunity though hon'. Or something like, 'Thanks so much for your email, the opportunity sounds great but it's not something that currently fits into my blog content'. Keep it short, simple and to the point. It's better to be honest than accepting and getting your knickers into a twist 2 weeks later about how you're gonna plug waxing strips on your fashion blog. It's not pretty.

So there we go, a tiny insight into blogger collabs, hopefully this also answers when to say yes. If it's Kate Spade, Marmite and any kinda chocolate then yes. It's always a yes from me. Stay true to yourself when you start dipping the toes into paid content, as it will always shine through in your content.
Jumper - Primark
Jeans - Hollister
Bag - Zara
Brogues - Dune London
Flowers - Lidl

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Monday, October 16, 2017

3 of My Spotty Skin Saviours

You know those days when your skin is like, LOL not today hun. This ones for you. I can probably count the actual real days in my life on one hand that I have had clear skin, and it aint pretty. If you read my most recent post about acne, you'll know it's not always been as easy as finding an elusive potion to clear your spots in one go. Getting rid of spots is about as hard as batting off that god damn boy from primary school from landing in your DM's, it's not easy. 

My acne seems like a distant memory now, but I still suffer from troublesome skin and blocked pores. Banning chocolate and pizza from your diet doesn't work either, just FYI. These scaremongering articles do more harm than good I swear. From recommendations and my own discoveries, I've learnt that when it comes to skincare you do have to pay more to get the quality and results. You might not be able to afford to eat for the rest of the month, but HEY I actually have nice skin. These are 3 skincare products that I have been loving recently.

I first dipped my toe into the world of Glamglow when I received a sample size of the above mask in my Look Fantastic Beauty Box, game changer. After wearing SPF, body oil and baking in the sun for a week, I ended up with clogged facial pores and a lot of spots. Yay. Sun is meant to make you skin look better, right? This is THE product for congested skin, I probably use it 3 times a week when my skin is really bad. It gently exfoliates the skin after use, dries it up and makes it feel a lot smoother after the first use.

This stuff is not cheap. I usually get the small tub and only use it when my skin really needs some help. It is so worth the money though, if only for my sanity. NO I'm not getting acne again, but my skin does need a bit of help when I'm reaching for this. I won't use or purchase another clay mask or similar since discovering this.

All hail the only spot cream ever invented that doesn't dry your skin or turn you into 80% scales. I like you a lot. I've repurchased this for the second time now and it's such a blessing in disguise when I get angry spots. It has a slightly sticky consistency that does not dry on your skin. I've found it really effective in reducing the size and colour of my spots. 

When your skin is crying out, the spots need moisture to get better not drying out to the point that you end up with another skin issue entirely. I thank Caroline Hirons for this little tip! The control gel now comes in a plastic tube unlike it's previous metal like tube that ends up cutting your hands to pieces, with the gel oozing out of every orifice it can find. It lasts sooo long too, I don't think I need to sell it to you anymore, just do it.

Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate 30ml - £38.00

I never thought I'd be one of those people that actually bought Kiehls, like who the Frick do I think I am? I only ever end up buying high end skincare bits when I have leftover euros at duty free. Like I'd rather have 2 dominos than actually treat my skin, but trust me on this, this is another product I now cannot do without. 

I only use this product once my skin has started to decongest and is feeling better, because its a bit like adding fuel to the fire else. I use this in the evenings after my normal skincare routine (cleanser if I'm lucky, if not I'm looking at you face wipes) - I use 2 drops of the oil and dab it onto my face. I then put face cream on over the top as I tend to get quite dry skin. I wake up looking like a new woman when I use it, my skin is less dull and looks healthier than it did before. I wouldn't say it helps keep my spots at bay, it is an oil so use sparingly. I love using this after I've been travelling and my skin needs a bit of TLC. Kiehls products are expensive, but worth the money!
Armed with my 3 favs, I know a clear skin day is never too far away. I also use a lot of Simple products too because HEY this girl got a mortgage to pay. But I find they're so perfect for my skin type, no nonsense and simple products that don't upset or overload my skin. It's a bit like buying clothing from Primark I guess, mix your expensive products with cheaper products to nail the perfect skincare routine!

What are your go to boo's for spotty skin?

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What It Really Feels Like To Have Acne

Photography: Viivi N. Media

A few years ago after I ended my summer adventure at Camp America and headed to Finland for my exciting year abroad, I'd made endless memories, drank a little bit too much, barely had any sleep and certainly didn't have time to wash my makeup off or look after my skin properly. WHAT EVEN IS FACE WASH THO? Within 2 months of arriving in Finland I seemed to develop acne overnight. I'd suffered from troublesome skin before, but nothing more than your average spotty teenage skin. The acne took me completely by surprise, and teamed with being far away from home and not knowing many people made me feel incredibly isolated.

The worst thing when you have acne is that even if they're not you feel like EVERYONE is looking at your spots, not you or listening to what you're saying but those new, red and angry eruptions that appeared on your face overnight.

No one understands. Unless you've suffered with acne yourself, there is no way that you can begin to imagine how it feels to live inside a body that has acne. I felt like I looked ill, I felt like people would think I ate really badly. Like LOL she actually does resemble a pizza Margherita. I felt self conscious, I doubted how I looked and it was painful. The face of acne is that it's miserable. You feel so alone, and after trying everything on the counter, and trying one after another of recommendations you see no change. It feels like you're going to look like this for the rest of your life.

Your outlook completely changes. I was once an incredibly confident and 'life and soul' type of person at the party until acne arrived. I didn't want any focus put on me, I cowered away as I was embarrassed for people to see my skin, it was like I was fading away as a person and spiralling into a dark hole that I didn't know if I could return from.

It's strange how a physical problem can affect you mentally, but when something literally makes itself resident in your skin overnight, how could it not? I struggled for 6 months with acne, and when it was at it's worse I just didn't know what I could do or turn to. I was adamant not to seek medical advice, I was also in Finland at the time so this made it very difficult. James sent me various spot treatments and creams in the post that I couldn't get in Finland and I was forever grateful for his support. At the time I struggled to even think how he could find me attractive and want to stay with me. You are the same person, but acne has a hold over you that can make you doubt even your strongest morals.

I wanted to be sucked into a dark hole when friends would be moaning about one spot on their face, like LOL LOOK, I am more spot than face. I went through bottles and bottles of concealer, making every effort to cake my skin and hide the fiery and painful eruptions. Let's not even talk about the treatments that made your entire facial skin shed like a snake. Flaky and spotty, cute. There was no hiding from it. There is no mercy when you have acne. It will continue, and continue and you never know when it's going to get better, or lord forbid it, if it will get worse. The weeks and months just blend into one. You think you'll have it for the rest of your life. 

There was a period of time where I never shared photos of myself, only the people I lived in Finland with knew I had it, with that being bad enough, I don't know how I would have coped bumping into people I had known all my life. I didn't look well and I didn't want anyone to ever look at my face again. Only I have photos of what my skin once was, which I'm not sure I'll ever share. 

Those were dark days. But with time it got better. It didn't happen overnight, it wasn't one of those light at the end of the tunnel moments, but it was working progress. I stopped drinking alcohol, I went back to basics with a very simple skincare regime and I started eating better. The scabs and crusty formations slowly started to heal and fade, I was slowly left with a handful of scars which I think I was lucky to escape with. It's now been 4 years since I had acne and I really hope it's left my life for good. I still panic when I see a few new spots forming, but I always know it will get better. Acne will get better, you just need to give it time, love yourself and remember that acne certainly does not and should not dictate your life. You're more of a person than your acne is.

Have you struggled with acne before? Can you relate to my experience in any way? How did you combat your acne?

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

My Teeth Whitening Transformation - Before & After

Ya gal got white teeth! Finally. There was only so much I could take of having a bottom set of teeth that quite frankly resembled an undercooked piece of corn on the cob. I've wanted white teeth since probably forever, the type you need to wear sunglasses to look at them.

It wasn't cheap. But oh boy, the results. Amazing. I can't believe it's my smile when I look in the mirror now, I thought I would be one of those only people in the world that a whitening treatment wouldn't work on. Like no hun, sweetcorn teeth forever for you. This post is NOT sponsored and I haven't been sent to review this treatment, just in case you were wondering. The results are too good not to share with you, which I'm sure you'll see from the upcoming before and after pictures below. So here's how I did it!
The Treatment 

Okay, so firstly before any whitening treatment the stains on my teeth had to be removed, because else the whitening treatment won't really do anything to your teeth because there's this layer of tea, red wine and other brown stuff it's trying to get past. I have no idea why my bottom teeth have become so prone to staining (blaming it on naked bars) I'd already had this treatment done once before, and again the results are amazing with this alone.

It's a private treatment at my dentist (any dentist) called Air Flow Treatment costing £50. It takes about 20-30 mins and just involves a lot of powder, air, and water. It gives your teeth a good clean, removes the stains and instantly made my teeth about one shade brighter and whiter. I would recommend this to anyone, it's not expensive for the results and it doesn't hurt or make your teeth sensitive.

After Air Flow it was time for the main star of the show. The teeth whitening treatment was £250 in total, worth. every. penny. The expensive part is getting a set of retainers made for your teeth which will be a familiar thing if you've ever had braces. It's essentially taking impressions of your teeth that they then make into retainers for you to use during the at the home treatment. It takes about 10 minutes, and is painless. It took about a week for them to be made before it was time to start the treatment.

The tooth whitening system which is used is called Opalescence which I think is something that is used in dentists nationwide, or something similar at least. You are given 4 syringes which contain the gel which you fill your retainers with each night and then wear for at least 4 hours each night. Or 8-9 hours if you go to sleep at bang on 10pm every night. It's probably a 2 week treatment, but my teeth are small so it's lasted way over 3 weeks for me. My teeth were matched against shades beforehand by my dentist to see what my teeth were currently at, with my side ones being almost 2 shades darker than my front which was no shock to me. I know they're yellow. OK. My dentist expected for them all to get 2 shades whiter by using the treatment. I was showed how to use the treatment effectively and that if there was any sensitivity it's okay to leave it for a couple of nights and start up again. 

One thing to note is that your teeth will NEVER go back to your original shade, although they will fade in time. You can buy top up syringes for only £25 when you want to boost the brightness, as you already have the retainer that's all you would need to do for future whitening.

The Process

I must admit that I was timid at the fact that it was at home treatment. Like am I even doing this right? The trick is to not use a lot of gel as this ends up going onto your gums and causing irritation, and to only focus on covering the front bits on the retainer, not underneath. After I'd had my retainer on the first night, I rushed to check in the mirror ten mins later, like to check if they were white yet. They weren't.

It was probably about 3 days in when I had already started to notice the results. I liked this. No, I loved it. I experienced a slight bit of sensitivity on my front teeth, didn't stop me eating pizza though. So there's that. The sensitivity and pain is what has always put me off doing it before, but it wasn't bad at all. Like I said before if it is bad, leave it off for a couple of nights and start again. Your teeth also start to get used to it after a few days so it really isn't bad at all.

After a week my side teeth started to catch up. The treatment for me has probably lasted 3-4 weeks in total which is double to what I thought it would, but what's a gal gonna do? After the third week I was like, can they even get any whiter though? I subconsciously find myself checking out everyones teeth colour now and asking if my mum can smile in the mirror next to me so I can see how much whiter mine look. Obviously her favourite child for a reason...

The dentist advised me not to drink tea, coffee or eat curry whilst doing the treatment so I of course took this to the extreme and stopped having ketchup, hot chocolates and basically any kind of fruit and vegetables for 4 weeks so that's worked out well for my body for the last week. But really, it's not gonna affect you if you have more of a beige diet anyway, all the cheese, bread and crisps it is.

I had all of my treatment done at Meavy Way Dental Clinic, Plymouth. But most dentists should offer this, and always get teeth whitening done at a dental professional, not some dodgy person that can do it in 10 minutes at your local shopping centre for £60.

The Results

The bit I'm sure you've all only clicked through to come to this post for, I'm sure you'll agree the results are noticeable and I honestly couldn't be any happier with the results. I can now talk to people without worrying about people identifying the 'stains'. Still trying to find the darkest lipstick possible to enhance how white my new teeth are and probably catch myself smiling at myself in the mirror at least 16458 minutes a day, and wot? All these pictures are unedited, shot in natural daylight and not enhanced in any way.

What do you think?! Have you ever had this done or would be interested in it? Comment below or tweet me if you have any other questions about teeth whitening!

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