Thursday, 2 August 2018

Sun, Seafood and Burnt Thighs


This summer has been super busy for me with getting preparations underway to move to Philadelphia, writing my masters dissertation and applying for adult jobs so I thought it was a great time to neglect all my responsibilities and go sit in the sun for a couple of weeks. A few years ago my parents bought a house in Murcia (Spain) which I'm pretty pleased about as flights are cheap, food is great and the sun is hot. Last year I went with some old school friends but this year it became more of a girls thing. As I've now been to a couple universities and obviously attended school, I have a weird mix of friends who never interact as they're all in different places; this year my best friend from school, two friends from university in Kent and a friend from my cheerleading squad in Birmingham all met for the first time.

I flew out with my friend from cheer on the Sunday evening and we were greeted by two huge cockroaches who had somehow made their way up the downstairs bathroom drains and into the spare bedroom. Whilst not the welcome party I expected, we had a couple glasses of wine and devised a plan on how to get them out (which basically involved us using Google Translate to speak to our French neighbours and asking them to come get them out for us).

Second day my good friend from uni came and the day after that my best friend also arrived. We spent the days by the pool, shopping, eating and drinking. Luckily there were no more bugs and we started to settle into the holiday a bit. The girls kept telling me how pale my legs were so all this time I'm making a conscious effort to tan my legs to match the rest of my fake tanned body but unfortunately, and in typical me fashion, I ended up just burning them and turning bright red instead. Then, to take it a step further, I tried to tan the backs of my legs, somehow forgot to suncream my bum and ended up burning it so bad that I couldn't sit down. We watched England lose the semi-final in the World Cup, drank sambuca, found a great seafood restaurant and waited for our other friend to arrive.

She arrived the Thursday to us playing beer pong using inflatable beer pong hats in the middle of the street. We found some different drinking game sets (including battle shots which was my favourite) in Tiger down on the boulevard.


The next day we had all planned on going to the beach together. Sadly my eldest fur baby, George, passed the rainbow bridge that day so I didn't feel like going. I stayed at home, watched a film in the hot tub, had a bath and just chilled by myself. He was old and had a really bad heart murmur so unfortunately his heart just couldn't keep going in the heat wave that we we're having over in the UK. Here are some pictures I took of George just before I left to go away.



On the Saturday night we ended up going to the local nightclub. The house is in a pretty residential area and there aren't too many tourists so there's not a huge selection of bars and clubs unless you go down the local strip, and even then the crowd is usually a lot older than us. I know of one nightclub in the town where the English usually go, but its pretty run down and you don't really go until 3am. We pre-drinked on my patio (one friend didn't even make it out) and ventured our way into town. As per, we were in there until the lights turned on and we got kicked out. It was a really fun night and I definitely paid for it Sunday.

Monday was when my friends from uni flew back to London so it was an odd, mismatched day where we hovered around the pool until it was time for them to get picked up and go back to the airport. As the rest of us flew the next morning we had a chill night on the patio and cleaned the house then packed before bed.

As it's my parents house it feels a bit different than going on a normal holiday - a tad more responsibility and I know the area somewhat so there was little exploring to be done. Luckily everyone got on to an extent and as usually said after a holiday - it just wasn't long enough! I hope to be back to my little home away from home soon and despite it being a bit exhausting and a pain somewhat waiting for people to arrive on all different days, it was a great break from the early-20s responsibilities that keep creeping up on me.

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Monday, 9 July 2018

HIGHLIGHTER SERIES #10: Jeffree Star Skin Frost in Peach Goddess REVIEW

Buy here for £25
(My highlighter series is a series of reviews where I look at the most blogged about highlighters and see if they are worth it or not! I'm trying to find the perfect highlighter by comparing formulas, colours, packaging and more. Make sure you have read from my first post where I reviewed the sleek solstice palette (linked below) to see what the main things I am looking for are. Remember: I post every Monday at 6pm GMT so check back to see if this series has been continued.)

When I reviewed the shade Princess Cut I said I would give Jeffree's highlighters another chance by buying one of his more popular shades. Peach Goddess was a shade that kept jumping out to me and when Beauty Bay offered the deal of buy one Jeffree Star Skin Frost and get his shade Dark Horse for free, I just couldn't resist. This review is going to be solely on Peach Goddess only because the shade Dark Horse is way too dark for my skin tone, although they are the same formula. If you're interested in my opinion on J.Star's packaging or the shades Princess Cut and Regina George please revisit this post as I discuss those in detail.

As mentioned, I bought this without really expecting too much. Yes J'Star's products are really hyped up but I'd had such a bad experience the last time that I thought I was throwing money away again. However I really cannot stress enough how completely different Peach Goddess and Princess Cut are in formula. Princess Cut was stiff, chunky and barely showed up whereas Peach Goddess is a beautiful, blinding, wet-look highlighter that is truly unique in colour. In pan it looks like every other peachy toned highlight but on the skin it transforms into something completely different. Before experiencing this I was a die-hard, ride or die fan of Becca's highlighters (Champagne Pop and Opal being the true stars) but now I believe that Becca has some stiff competition and J.Star is truly still in the game. Whilst Becca's formula is a lot smoother to the touch, J.Stars just effortlessly glides on the cheekbones to create an instantaneous wet-look finish.

Peach Goddess does not highlight many imperfections and lasts a lot longer than Becca's formula. While Becca's is more blinding (by a smidgen) J.Stars is buildable which means I can also wear it in the daytime. A true match made in heaven is Becca's Opal x Peach Goddess.

I am of medium-tan skin tone (NC35) and this is a perfect colour for me and I'm sure would suit darker skin tones too however I think it could potentially be a bit too dark for anyone who's extremely pale. This shade is also on the warmer side so suits skin tones with a lot of yellow/gold tones.

My only issue with this is due to the thin nature of the pans. As the pan is so thin I have found I've worked my way through this (or so it looks like anyway) way quicker than any other highlighter I've ever used. Yes the packaging looks huge (and thus a pain to store) but it isn't as big as you would think. I wish it was regular sized so a) I didn't feel like I was using it up so quick and b) so I could store it easier!

Overall I'm really pleased I picked this up and it's restored my faith in J.Stars brand and, although I'm yet to do so, I'm more than happy to purchase more of his Skin Frosts if they are of this formula. Peach Goddess is currently my favourite go-to highlighter and I use it every day!

View past series:
#1: Sleek Solstice Highlighting Palette
#2: Nars Albatross Highlighting Blush
#3: Laura Geller Gelato Swirl Illuminator Gilded Honey
#4: Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Champagne Pop
#5: Jeffree Star Skin Frosts in Princess Cut and Regina George
#6: Nicole Guerriero x Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit
#7: Too Faced Sweet Peach Glow Palette
#8: CoverFX Custom Enhancer Drops in Sunlight
#9: Makeup Revolution Vivid Baked Highlighters
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Monday, 2 July 2018

HIGHLIGHTER SERIES #9: Makeup Revolution Vivid/Strobe Highlighters REVIEW

(My highlighter series is a series of reviews where I look at the most blogged about highlighters and see if they are worth it or not! I'm trying to find the perfect highlighter by comparing formulas, colours, packaging and more. Make sure you have read from my first post where I reviewed the sleek solstice palette (linked below) to see what the main things I am looking for are. Remember: I post every Monday at 6pm GMT so check back to see if this series has been continued.)

A year or so ago, Khloe Kardashian revealed her love for these £3 highlighters and the beauty world seemed to go a little bit mad. Her makeup artist used a highlighter from the 'vivid' line called Radiant Lights and Khloe wrote "My cheekbones were so sharp they could cut a bitch," in a post. With a glowing review like that, how could you not want to try it out? For the price tag it was a no-brainer and when I was in my local Superdrug I rushed to the revolution isle in hoping to pick one in each shade up.

Unfortunately every time I went every single shade was sold out. In all fairness, at the time I lived in a tiny town called Canterbury and with a huge student population anything cheap and raved about by the Kardashians was bound to sell out instantly. It was a good year until I a) remembered to look and b) found some in stock. I picked up three:

Vivid baked highlighter in Golden Lights
Vivid baked highlighter in Peach Lights
Strobe highlighter in Gold Addict

At a grand total of £9 for all three, even if I only used them once, in my books this was a good purchase. When I got home I realised that the strobe highlighter in Gold Addict was just not for me. Like the name suggests, it isn't as pigmented and blinding like the vivid range. Don't get me wrong, it is pretty but I'm just after something so bright you can see my cheeks from space, you know? I threw this to the back of my drawers and I don't think I've picked it up since.

However, the vivid baked range are surprisingly pigmented. Albeit a little bit chunky, for £3 these highlighters are an absolute steal. Golden lights (shade wise) is an almost double for Nars' Albatross (review linked below). Whilst the wear time on these is unfortunately not the best, a good setting spray will take you a long way. For a night out make up look on a budget? These are perfect! They're pigmented, smooth to the touch and don't accentuate too many pores.

Whilst the packaging leaves something to be desired (and what is up with the questionable design imprinted into the product?) for £3 there really isn't anything I can complain about. Although I'm a little bit spoiled when it comes to high-end highlighters, I have and do reach for these sometimes. No, they're not the prettiest highlighters in the world nor are they of the most inspiring colour family, but they do the job and nobody would ever be able to guess the price tag!

What's your opinion?

View past posts in this series:
#1: Sleek Solstice Highlighting Palette
#2: Nars Albatross Highlighting Blush
#3: Laura Geller Gelato Swirl Illuminator Gilded Honey
#4: Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Champagne Pop
#5: Jeffree Star Skin Frosts in Princess Cut and Regina George
#6: Anastasia Beverly Hills x Nicole Guerrio Glow Kit
#7: Too Faced Sweet Peach Glow Palette
#8: CoverFX Custom Enhancer Drops
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Monday, 25 June 2018

HIGHLIGHTER SERIES #8: CoverFX Custom Enhancer Drops (shade Sunlight) REVIEW

Buy here for £34
(My highlighter series is a series of reviews where I look at the most blogged about highlighters and see if they are worth it or not! I'm trying to find the perfect highlighter by comparing formulas, colours, packaging and more. Make sure you have read from my first post where I reviewed the sleek solstice palette (linked below) to see what the main things I am looking for are. Remember: I post every Monday at 6pm GMT so check back to see if this series has been continued.)

A series about highlighters wouldn't be complete without talking about the CoverFX Custom Enhancer Drops. At £34 a pop, these little babies are one of the most expensive highlighters I own. There is 15ml of product per bottle and as only a tiny amount is needed per application I'm a little worried that these are going to go bad before I even have a chance to use even a fraction of the product. I wish they were half sized and the price reflected that.

In case you've been living under a rock for the past year or so, the CoverFX Custom Enhancer Drops are liquid highlighters that are supposedly going to layer on top of powder and create a 'from within' type of glow. They got a lot of praise on YouTube circa mid 2016-early 2017 but due to the astronomical price tag it took a while for this student to make the plunge. My first purchase was in the shade 'Sunlight' and I will be focusing on that shade today! I feel like this performs slightly different to the others, for whatever reason.

Firstly, the packaging is cute but a nightmare to store. The product is housed in a little glass bottle with a rubber dropper. While the dropper is functional, the product has a tendency to dry up around the top and flake off causing a bit of a mess to form in my drawer. On top of that, so much product is wasted using this method. I wish CoverFX has opted for a pump rather than a squeezey dropper. The bottle is also somewhat inconvenient to store due to the shape. The rose gold box that it comes in, however, has a soft spot in my heart as I love rose gold. I also like that the label of each bottle is a different colour to reflect what colour product is inside - this makes it a lot easier for my tired, half-asleep mornings!

I was very sceptical about buying this despite the phenomenal reviews. I am not a liquid highlighter fan but the claim that it layers well over powder tempted me to try this out. The CoverFX Custom Enhancer Drops are of a watery consistency so can easily be mixed in with a foundation to create an all over glow and can also be dabbed over the top of set makeup to create an intensely pigmented highlighter. While I am not the biggest fan of mixing it in with my foundation as I have a tendency to get a bit carried away to the point where my face just turns into a giant disco ball, dabbing the product lightly over my cheeks after I have finished my face is gorgeous and creates this luminosity that I just haven't been able to replicate with other highlighters. This shade in particular is gorgeous and suits my skin tone perfectly. Every time I wear this I really do feel like I look like I'm glowing from within. Last summer I solely travelled with this highlighter and it was perfect for those hot holiday evenings where you need light make up but still want to look made up. Sun kissed would be a better name - I truly feel like the I'm replicating the glow of a healthy tan when wearing this. Another huge plus is that this dries down completely smudge proof so again is great for hot summer days.

Another great tip with this product is to mix it in with any body lotions you use. If you're of a medium tan (NC30-35) skin tone this will match you perfectly.

I also own shades Celestial and Blossom.

❤ CELESTIAL: is the lightest shade I think CoverFX make. It is an extremely pale silver toned pearl with an almost pinky base under direct light. I found this shade to house the most glitter out of the three and is one I don't reach for all that often. It is the same consistency as Sunlight to touch but does look somewhat chunkier on my skin. Still gorgeous, but Sunlight is just a little bit better in my books. Would be a great alternative if Sunlight was too dark for your skin tone.
❤ BLOSSOM: is one of the newer shades. Blossom is a true pink highlighter. If you like the trend of a colour pop on your cheek then you'll enjoy this shade but for day to day use on me this is a bit too much. However mixing this with Sunlight or Celestial creates a much more wearable and subtle pink glow. For a very warm pink eye look and lip I think this would match great. I did have the intention of mixing this with a liquid blush but I'm yet to actually try it.

Overall, there's nothing like these on the market. The fact that I can layer these over powder yet they do not chunk up and perform as well as they would on bare skin means they get two big fat thumbs up from me. I could never get into liquid highlighters as I have to all over set my skin and I found setting my face meant my highlight often got dulled down. Other than the price these babies are perfect and if you can afford to do so please go out and buy one!

Have you tried these? What did you think?

View past posts in this series:
#1: Sleek Solstice Highlighting Palette
#2: Nars Albatross Highlighting Blush
#3: Laura Geller Gelato Swirl Illuminator Gilded Honey
#4: Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Champagne Pop
#5: Jeffree Star Skin Frosts in Princess Cut and Regina George
#6: Anastasia Beverly Hills x Nicole Guerrio Glow Kit
#7: Too Faced Sweet Peach Glow Palette
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Thursday, 21 June 2018

Blog Update


Hi! I just wanted to jump on here quick and write out my future plans for ALYSPACE. Since I took a bit of hiatus (and by a bit, I mean over a year...oops) my analytics are looking a little sad and I've lost the majority of my old readers. I loved getting interactions on previous posts and I really enjoyed how planned out my blogging week was. This, teamed with my eagerness to implement more lifestyle posts, has led me to want to post twice a week again.

If you didn't know, I used to post every Monday and sometimes Thursday at 6pm GMT. Mondays were a definite and Thursdays were more 'bonus' posts if I had a surplus of blog ideas that month. I've decided that Monday's are going to still be my 'definite' days where I post all things beauty - highlighter series is back in full force! - and Thursday's are going to be dedicated to lifestyle/miscellaneous posts. While I can't guarantee that anything exciting is going to be happening once a week, it'll be good for me to have some direction and a plan back with this whole blogging thing and with my fast approaching move to America from England I'm sure I'll have loads of things to update on soon. I doubt anyone will really be interested but this blog is more for me than anyone else! It'll just be nice to have a place to vent a little bit? Or perhaps be more of an online diary. Who knows - but I'm excited with the direction that ALYSPACE is headed. See you soon!!

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Monday, 18 June 2018

HIGHLIGHTER SERIES #7: Too Faced Sweet Peach Glow Palette REVIEW

Buy here for £34
(My highlighter series is a series of reviews where I look at the most blogged about highlighters and see if they are worth it or not! I'm trying to find the perfect highlighter by comparing formulas, colours, packaging and more. Make sure you have read from my first post where I reviewed the sleek solstice palette (linked below) to see what the main things I am looking for are. Remember: I post every Monday at 6pm GMT so check back to see if this series has been continued.)

As like most of my posts recently, I'm a little late to the game. This palette originally debuted in December of 2016, right in time for the Christmas panic. I must have tweeted about it and it was luckily plopped in one of my Christmas presents that year. I say that but, without going too much into it, the Too Faced Christmas drama of 2016/17 meant that I didn't actually get this palette until well into 2017. I loved the Too Faced sweet peach palette, as most did, and forked out a whopping £50 to get it shipped over from Sephora so I was very excited when they extended the line and I finally could embrace my sweet peach highlighting fantasy.

Well, or I thought I could.

The eyeshadows that were a part of the sweet peach palette were pigmented, pretty, smelt glorious and overall just performed well whereas I'm upset to admit that this glow palette did not meet the same standard. While obviously in the same family, I view this palette more as the black sheep of the family who's always showing up to family gatherings drunk and with a different boyfriend. Disappointing and not something I'd rave about. The pigmentation is lacking, the highlighter is grainy and the bronzer barely shows up on my skin tone.

In my head this palette was a one stop shop for cheeks. Highlight, blush and contour all housed in the same cute pink packaging but unfortunately the only usable shade (in my opinion) is the blush. While pretty and usable, I am upset that my boyfriend paid £34 for the entire palette when he could of just bought the Papa Don't Peach blush (which is very similar) for £25 and received 9g of product. However the blusher is a pretty peach that translates to almost coral on my medium tan skin with hints of gold shimmer running through. A dense style kabuki is the best bet for pigmentation.

I can't really call this a highlighter series post if I don't actually talk about the highlighter. Like I said, my main excitement of this entire palette fell on the highlighter in it. I had peachy dreams of wet-look cheeks and a glistening glow from within but instead I'm left with an extremely sheer formula and a champagne shade that I've seen a billion times before. I have never been so uninspired with a highlighter as I was with this. If you're looking for a gorgeous highlighter in the similar colour family look at Urban Decay's afterglow 8-hour illuminator in Spotlight, Benefit's Dandelion Twinkle or Colourpop's super shock cheek in Highly Waisted. All shades that serve way more pigmentation and wear-time. Temptalia gave this shade an A- but I just can't figure out why. If you loved it though - please share!

As briefly mentioned, the packaging is cute and Too Faced get two thumbs up from me for using tin packaging again (if you've ready previous posts you'll know that tin is my favourite as it's durable). The cute prints on the shades are adorable and the decent mirror is definitely a plus in my book. Too bad that nobody knows how lovely the packaging is when you're actually wearing the make up.

So, overall I give this palette about a 4/10. It's not horrendous and I have used it but the bronzer is useless for my skin tone and the highlighter just isn't up to par with the level of glow I usually wear. However, the peachy blush is unique enough that it gets my stamp of approval.

Did you pick this up? What were your thoughts?

View past series:
#1: Sleek Solstice Highlighting Palette
#2: Nars Albatross Highlighting Blush
#3: Laura Geller Gelato Swirl Illuminator Gilded Honey
#4: Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Champagne Pop
#5: Jeffree Star Skin Frosts in Princess Cut and Regina George
#6: Anastasia Beverly Hills x Nicole Guerrio Glow Kit
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Monday, 11 June 2018

HEALTH UPDATE - My health journey and 5 ESSENTIAL HOSPITAL BAG ITEMS


*Note: I wrote this post around 6 months ago when my health was a bit worse than it is now. I didn't get round to posting this back then but I thought I would just upload it anyway. I really want to get into more lifestyle posts than solely make-up reviews - I hope that is OK!

So if you didn't already know, my health is a bit shit at the minute. I've spent the last 6 months in and out of a hospital ward and the year before that just feeling a bit crappy. This will probably be a long post as a lot as happened but if you're interested it all began the summer before my second year of university (before this blog even existed). I just started to feel a bit rubbish. Headaches, mainly, but a lot of dizziness too. I just ignored it to be honest and did my usual "if I pretend it isn't happening, then it isn't" approach, which in hindsight isn't the healthiest thing to do. In September of 2015 I unexpectedly passed out while I was out shopping alone one day. It wasn't the first time I'd fainted before so I didn't wake up and cry "am I dead?" like I did the first time, but I was still a little worried as I was hydrated, I'd eaten enough and other than a couple headaches here and there I felt OK. I think this was the sign I needed to finally book myself an appointment with my GP who was utterly rubbish, told me she thought I was diabetic purely on the basis that my dad is, and to come back for a blood test. Now, I'm not a hypochondriac. I'm the person who, like I said, ignores the problem hoping it just resolves itself. But this time, for whatever reason (probably the fact that a qualified doctor had explicitly stated that she believed I had this disease) I thought I was diabetic and *slightly* freaked out over it.

Blood test day comes. There were three factors involved in making this a shit day and thus growing my hypochondriac-ness; 1) the nurse who was taking my bloods could not give a f***. 2) I am petrified of needles. 3) I have shit veins, like, you will spend half an hour prodding me with a rubber band tied around my arm and still have to use multiple needles and get a friends opinion before you find blood. So with a nurse who couldn't really be arsed to spend that much time messing around with my veins, and me crying and in hysterics every time the needle comes near me, I was referred to the hospital in hopes that someone there would put up with me instead. The nurse failed to tell me this and told me that because the GP thought I was diabetic I needed to go for further tests. Surprisingly, I wasn't diabetic at all and my blood tests came back absolutely normal a few days later (and, unfortunately, after my major freak out).

Jump to one November evening, I'm at my university house enjoying an evening with my housemates and I start to get one of my usual headaches. Shortly after my vision started to get a bit blurry. Then an hour or so after that my ability to communicate starts to go - my sentences are muddled up and what I'm saying made little sense to anyone but me. Honestly, I can't really remember much of this evening but all I know is that my mum advised me to ring 111 and get an opinion and that they advised me to go down to A&E and they'll make sure I get to see a doctor there. I go down, I get seen, he's worried that it could be meningitis but as the only real way of diagnosing that is to stick a massive needle into my spine he sends me home and says if I get a rash, or the headache gets worse, to ring 999. So I, in a bit of a dazed state, go back to my uni house and go to sleep. And, this makes me laugh now although didn't then, in the middle of the night I wake up with limited vision with limited light and glance down at my shoulder to see huge rashes on both of my arms. I freak out, automatically think I am going to die and run upstairs to where there is a bit of light only to realise that these 'rashes' are in fact just my freckles. Melt down avoided.

After this incident I go back to my GP to try and figure out what actually happened that night, and why I keep getting these headaches. Honestly, I was made to feel crazy and like I was making all of this up. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate doctors so this definitely wasn't the case. She gave me various beta-blockers, told me that it was just migraines and there wasn't much she could do, and then something about having bad circulation (hence the extreme dizziness and now the extreme pins and needles I was experiencing). Throughout my second year of uni, I probably went back to the GP around 8 or 9 times just to be told the exact same. It's a migraine. You'll be fine. Take these tablets even though they're not working. During this period, I had missed exams and classwork and was really behind on my studies. Some days I was so ill that I couldn't lift my head from the pillow. I also had developed nausea and sometimes vomiting, although it wasn't regular enough for me to really notice and I probably only experienced this about once or twice a month.

During the summer, I realised that my vision had gotten quite bad and although I had always wore glasses, my glasses were no longer strong enough so I booked a routine appointment at my local opticians. If you haven't had an eye test before, they scan the back of your eyes to check the optic nerves. I was waiting a suspiciously long time before I was seen, and when I was finally seen I was sent back outside to wait after she checked my file. 3 or 4 doctors were called into my opticians office and I was still sitting outside. Finally, I'm asked to go in and she says that the optic nerves behind my eye (basically the nerves that connect your eye to your brain) were extremely swollen. She asks if I've had any headaches. I said yes and that I was on a medicine called propranolol (the beta-blocker). She asked if I had any nausea and vomiting. I said now that you mention it, yes. She asked if I had any dizziness, pins and needles, if my ability to communicate was in anyway impaired. My answer was yes to everything.

My optician, who was only around the same age as me, looked quite worried and left the room to go speak to her superior. When she came back she advised that I needed to go to the hospital ASAP and request a CT and MRI scan to check for any tumours. Tumours?? I thought I was only going in for an eye test! She explained that my swollen optic nerves could mean one of three things; 1) I had a brain tumour and that the pressure inside my skull from the tumour was causing my optic nerves to swell. 2) I had a disease that meant my brain produced too much CSF and thus my body mimics the symptoms of a tumour without actually having one (basically produces too much fluid that fills your skull and spine) or 3) I was just born that way. So after a billion and one further tests, a load of questions about my GP and my symptoms, I'm allowed to go home.

As soon as I get home I get a call off my optician and she says that after speaking to her colleagues she advises that I go to the hospital sooner rather than later and that it is quite urgent. Luckily, due to private healthcare, I had an appointment for an MRI scan within a day.

I have an MRI (basically you lie in a tiny tube and they take a full body X-ray - not a nice experience and very claustrophobic!!) and luckily, there are no big tumours present!!! Hurrah, the first bit of good news in ages. But that still posed the question am I scenario 2 or 3?

Shortly after, I have an appointment with a doctor at the hospital and he explains that without a lumbar puncture (a needle they stick in-between the vertebrae of your spine to extract CSF (brain fluid), the same test needed to diagnose meningitis that the first doctor wouldn't give me) he couldn't give a definitive answer. I was put on a medicine called diamox and sent on my way.

Now, when I tell you being on diamox was the single worst experience I have ever had I am not exaggerating. This medicine made me vomit 24/7 and when I wasn't vomiting I was crying or in excruciating pain. My skin broke out, my hair fell out and I just felt shit. I lasted around 3 weeks on the lowest dose before going back to the doctor and telling him I couldn't take it anymore. He sympathised and said it was fine if I stopped taking it. So I did. And a few weeks later I went to university to start my final year and forgot all about any health issues.

Until I woke up one morning and was practically blind.

I had some vision in my right eye. I could see somewhat, but it was like looking through of a really small tunnel. I spent my day on the sofa feeling sorry for myself but still refusing to go to the doctor as I was too scared of being told I was faking it again. Knowing there was no tumour present, I thought I was OK.

My housemate bought a couple bottles of wine home to drown my sorrows and we ended up getting a little bit tipsy. I collapsed and although I can't remember this, I was apparently screaming that I was in pain. My housemate promptly, albeit a bit drunkenly, rang 111 again and asked what we should do. Due to it being 4am, they told us that the only option really was a visit to A&E but as I lived in Canterbury at this time and the A&E department at our local hospital had closed, I had to endure a 50 minute car journey to Ashford - the closest hospital that would see me.

So my housemate and I decided to pack a bag incase you know, so we had 'essentials'. We threw yoghurts, a blanket, lip balm and a capri-sun into a backpack and got in a cab. I remember finally getting to A&E and making my entrance known. I screamed to the woman behind the desk that I needed to be seen because, you know, I was blind and everything, and that my optic nerves were 'fluffy' (I'm still unsure why I said that). Luckily, probably due to us being loud and screaming about how clever we were for remembering to pack yoghurts, we were seen promptly and taken to the main A&E ward. I was taken for another MRI and CT scans - all clear - and hooked up to an IV. Well, as I mentioned I have shit veins, an intense phobia of needles and this time the added bonus of intoxication so I should say rather I was hooked up to an IV after I had vomited bright purple sludge (thanks wine) all over my nurses shoes. Our phones were also about to die and we came to the realisation that we had no phone charger, no spoons for the yoghurts, no straw for the capri-sun, no hairbrush, no change of clothes, barely any money and most importantly... no make up remover. We suddenly didn't feel as intelligent as we first thought we were.

Another nurse walked past to take me for some other form of test and my original nurse said "ah, meet Alex. You'll need all the luck you can get" which at the time I thought was hilarious. It now being around 9am and as neither my housemate or I having had any sleep we crashed and the 'excitement' of being on a hospital ward an hour away from anyone we know had faded. Later that evening I was taken to a proper ward (not just the A&E department but the clinical decision unit), one where I could sleep and have my own bed and was greeted by the most unhelpful nurses I've ever met. To top it off, I was now in so much pain that I ended up just pacing the hallway as I was beginning to get restless. My very unhelpful nurse said I was having a panic attack (I wasn't) and made the mental health team come visit me in the morning to discuss. I really was not a happy bunny being woken up to a clip board being shoved in my face with a questionnaire of very invasive questions. Everyone on my ward was old and senile and I spent majority of that day being shouted at by the woman in the bed next to me who thought I'd stole her purse. I also had the pleasure of being placed opposite a woman who kept announcing she'd wet the bed. Great.

In short, I was stuck on this ward for a week. I finally had a lumbar puncture (which was HORRENDOUS - WORST PAIN OF MY LIFE) and diagnosed with scenario 2 (excess fluid) and sent packing. Luckily my mum had driven down from Birmingham by now and was able to help me home. I was given the right medication by this point, I felt less crazy about all the symptoms and my vision had even started to come back. But all I wanted was a nice hot bath. However, obviously, my shit experience did not end there as the hospital had sent me home with an empty box of medication. Brilliant.

I go back to my GP to get the right medication, I finally get a neurologist and get referred to the ophthalmology department at Canterbury hospital. I even got given an emergency number for my hospital so that I didn't have to go through all that palaver of going to Ashford again.

Fast forward to after Christmas and my first week back in Canterbury after the Christmas break. I get a call off my neurologist saying that there is a place for me on the neurology ward and that I needed to come in from a lumbar puncture again as my fluid is getting too high (an LP also drains the fluid, not only testing it, so when medications were failing this was an emergency option). I get rushed back to hospital and spend another week there getting prodded with needles. I was put on another horrible medication, topiramate, where my hair fell out in clumps and my speech got so muddled up I couldn't put a sentence together which I lasted a couple of months on and quit.

From January - June of 2017 I was in and out of hospital constantly. At least once a month I would receive a phone call off my neurologist saying there was a space on my ward and I needed to come in for an LP. It was that frequent that my nurses knew who I was and treated me a bit like a local celebrity. Unfortunately this constant in and out ruined my final year of university and as I had been elected captain of university cheerleading squad, ruined cheerleading for me too.

And now it's present day. I still get headaches and nausea but nowhere near as much and I rarely have to go into hospital anymore. Although LP's are awful they make me feel like I'm being proactive with a disease you can't really control. Unfortunately for me no medications worked and LP's became my only way of treatment. Oh, and because my disease is so rare (1 in 100,000 people get it) every time I get a new doctor they have no clue what I have and thus no way to treat it so it became very annoying very quick explaining to people what I have and what my symptoms are. My biggest symptoms now are fatigue (oh my am I tired! All the time!) and dizziness.

It's also pretty crap having a disease that nobody can see. Majority of the time nobody believes me, heck, my university didn't even believe me even though I had folders and folders full of doctors reports and hospital admissions. I was also supposed to go travelling this summer which I've had to cancel due to health concerns and I think my boyfriend resents me a bit for this - but what can you do!

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Quickly, just to end this extremely long post (and so that nobody ends up in the scenario I was in during my first hospital admission) I've compiled a list of 5 essentials to take to the hospital with you. I, at one point, used to keep a bag of all these things in my car just in case I had to go last minute.

❤ 1) A blanket! Hospitals get cold and majority of the time they only supply thin, scratchy bedding. Once I became a bit of a hospital go-er pro I quickly learned the importance of taking my own fluffy blanket with me.
❤ 2) Cleanser. Now, it is up to you if you choose to take make up or not with you. I sometimes did but shortly realised that all I really would wear was a bit of concealer and perhaps eyebrow pencil. But even if you choose not to take make up with you, cleansing your skin with a luxury and fresh-smelling cleanser makes you feel so much more put together. Some wards have showers but some of the short-stay wards don't, so don't rely on a shower to help you feel fresh.
❤ 3) Noise cancelling headphones. I can't explain the importance of these. Earbuds are not enough to drown out the sounds of the lady next to you crying, or the woman opposite snoring. Sometimes I would just turn the noise cancelling on and not even listen to music. Having a bit of sleep in hospital sends you from going completely insane.
❤ 4) Night eye mask. An eye mask that prevents light getting in is a must. Sometimes there are emergencies on the wards and the lights will come on so that the nurses can help the inflicted and sometimes they just come on randomly. Also, the lights turn on around 5-6am every morning and usually don't turn off until quite late. Like I said, getting some sleep really makes a difference.
❤ 5) Moisturiser. And perhaps an odd one, but hospital air is like airplane air - drying. I'm not sure what it is but I always leave the hospital feeling dehydrated. Taking a nice moisturiser really helps.

I know this was a long post and kudos to everyone who made it to the end!
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Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Highlighter Series #6: Nicole Guerriero x Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit REVIEW

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(My highlighter series is a series of reviews where I look at the most blogged about highlighters and see if they are worth it or not! I'm trying to find the perfect highlighter by comparing formulas, colours, packaging and more. Make sure you have read from my first post where I reviewed the sleek solstice palette (linked below) to see what the main things I am looking for are. Remember: I post every Monday at 6pm GMT so check back to see if this series has been continued.)

So, I know I am super behind with this post! I've had this palette for over a year at this point but as I said in my previous post I have been taking a little break from blogging - but with my masters degree coming to an end, I'm ready to get back into it! I really want to kickstart it with my most successful posts - the highlighter series. I remember being super excited when I bought this so I'm going to put up a post anyway. Ps! I apologise if this post is not up to my usual standard - I have completely forgotten what I used to talk about, my style of writing, my style of photography, the relevant HTML I used to use so I'm trying to pick it all back up as I go.

The highlighters in the Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit by Nicole Guerriero are first of all, extremely pigmented with a really nice array of colours, including a couple unique shades that I had not encountered before. As I had not experienced any of the other glow kits at the point of buying this palette I couldn't comment on how it compared, but since then I have bought multiple glow kits (included the 4 pan palettes) and can contest that the formula of the Nicole Guerriero palette is different with an almost grainy finish. Something that I must make clear is that there is a lot of fallout! My old bedroom in my university house used to have a white desk that I'd do all my make up at, it got to the point that I would have to put a towel over the desk before using this as it would completely cover and was starting to stain the desk. However, now that the palette is over a year old the fallout isn't as bad but it isn't great either - I still end up with glittery fingers and a sparkly lap by the end of application.

The best brush for this palette is the Anastasia Beverly Hills highlight brush, albeit a little scratchy, as it picks up the pigments great, that now being my go-to brush for highlight application.

As I mentioned, the unique colour story of this palette is interesting, and definitely something that appealed to me when I bought it. Kitty-Kat and Forever Young are so-so and can be duped very easily, Daydream is the winner of the palette for me, Forever Lit is a little too intense but great for eye looks and Glo Getter and 143 are slightly too dark for my medium toned NC30-35 skin but somewhat still wearable.

Daydream is a unique bright orange shade with a very metallic sheen. It goes great with Nars Orgasm blush as they are definitely in the same colour family! I was worried that this shade was going to be more like a blush, as it looks like it will be very strong-toned in the pan, but I was pleseantly surprised when the colour was not overbearing and although an interesting shade, still definitely a highlighter and not a blush. I have hit pan in this shade and it works amazingly with my extremely warm toned skin - but I am not sure how great it would look if your skin was primarily pink toned. At the time this shade was revolutionary (in my opinion as I'm obsessed with it!) but has been duped a lot since the release of this palette so you can probably find a cheap dupe in the drugstore.

Nicole Guerriero being one of the first YouTubers in the beauty community that I fell in love with I think was the final tipping point for me in convincing myself to buy this palette and honestly, I am so glad I did. Like I said, a year later I still use this palette often and I'm thankful that it hasn't fell to the back of my drawers and been completely forgotten about. Despite the annoying amount of fallout, it still looks pretty on my skin and Daydream is just sooooooo dreamy on my skin, so very aptly named. The pink palette (although not in a plastic tin like I prefer, thankfully it isn't made out of material that screams cheap! either) is very pretty and I was impressed with the detail that went into the packaging (the holographic backing is gorgeous) although I do wish it had a mirror for the price.

Final thoughts? It is a palette worth investing in. Despite Glo Getter and 143 being slightly too dark I can make them work by mixing them with other shades in the palette, and they do look lovely on holiday when I am slightly darker - especially since my hair change (ps: I'm dark brunette now! Full post with details of my hair journey soon). These highlighters are pigmented and do not accentuate pores, they last a long time and the colours are pretty. If you think you can deal with the fallout then definitely pick it up!


View past series:
#1: Sleek Solstice Highlighting Palette
#2: Nars Albatross Highlighting Blush
#3: Laura Geller Gelato Swirl Illuminator Gilded Honey
#4: Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Champagne Pop
#5: Jeffree Star Skin Frosts in Princess Cut and Regina George
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