Lades Brushes; A Cheaper Alternative!

SUP BISHES?!

So finally, the blogging game is back on here @ infiniteaurora. I would like to apologise now for the huge delay in writing more reviews; postgraduate university life/life in general/getting the flu has just gotten too much in the way, but the flu aint gonna stop me today. I’m FINALLY going to post the review of some gorgeous make up brushes, by LADES, that I bought on Amazon.com whilst I was out in the United States this summer. I will at the end link the product of course, so you guys have read some of the other reviews for yourself.

So if you would like to see what I think of these brushes and find out some more information about them, keep on reading!

PACKAGING

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(I apologise for the blur; I didn’t notice how bad it was!)

So unfortunately, due to jamming these brushes into my suitcase before I returned back to the UK, the box that these brushes came in got a little damaged (to say the least). Reality is, my selfie stick punctured a giant whole in the box, so there was no way that box was appearing on this post. But in a nutshell, the brushes arrived in a beautiful white box and were all individually packaged (as you can see in the picture below), to ensure the bristles were not damaged. To say these were ‘cheap’ brushes; I was surprised! They also came with a silicone sponge and a brush cleaner head. (Not gonna lie, the silicone sponges give me major anxiety so that has stayed nicely in its packaging and will not be touched).

In this set there are 10 brushes, which include a range of face and eye brushes. The brushes are of all sizes and densities, which is just what you want in a range. I am particularly excited about trying out the fan brush; it seems a lot sturdy than other ones I have used, so hopefully it packs more product on and you get a better highlighted finish as a result of it! Overall, I was nicely surprised with how it arrived. The only thing that would have been nice would have been a little case/bag/roll up to put the brushes in, that’s my only critic!

PRICE POINT

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Now the main thing we need to look at is the price point. I bought these brushes whilst working at an American summer camp this summer on Amazon.com. I had received a voucher for the site when I was awarded ‘Counsellor of the week’, and wasn’t sure what to spend it on. I was worried that when I returned back to England, it would be harder for me to use it. So I thought, why not treat myself to some new brushes if they have some within my price range? (Also bought my boyfriend a lovely beanie hat, cos’ I’m so nice). These brushes retailed at $12.99 [for us using the Pound, that’s around £9.69 for 10 brushes]. Let me repeat that; $12.99. How cheap is that?! I was so sceptical about buying them, as were other people from what I read in the reviews, but they honestly do not disappoint. That works out at around $1.29 per brush.

If you look at other brush sets, you don’t get any for anywhere near this price for 10 brushes. If you bought the legit ‘Unicorn Cosmetics’ set, you’re looking at around £50.00 (on beautybay.com). If you bought a 12 piece ‘Sigma Beauty’ kit, you’re looking at £130.00. I am a HUGE Morphe girl so the only brand I would pay good money for brushes is Morphe, and even then, a good size set could be £40.00. So if you were looking for a cheaper alternative that are super pretty, these brushes tick that box.

GENERAL FEEL OF THE PRODUCT

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So now for how they feel when using the brushes. I haven’t tried all of them yet because for some things I just have my go to brushes and I am very stubborn about changing them up, but some of these brushes proved to be fantastic. The contour brush is not as great as I imagined it would be; it does pack the product on the brush, but the actual finish on your face is not great, so this one was a disappointment.  The eyeshadow flat brush seems a great little brush; packs on all the product and gives a nice look on the eyes, a thumbs up in my book! The angled small brush (picture above) is also really good, I found it particularly good for doing eyeshadow on the lower lash line.

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For me personally, the highlight fan brush is where it is at. Although it doesn’t look like it picks up the product, once you brush it along the high plains of your face; oh boy. It packs that product on. The bristles seem so much stronger than other fan brushes that I have used, and easily glides along the face. I currently use a Zoeva fan brush and I find that the bristles seem very frail and they fall out a lot easier, where as this new fan brush I feel will last much longer. It is harder getting used to the thinner handles, but once you have used them a few times it gets much easier.

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So to conclude, if you’re looking for a cheap and pretty alternative to mainstream make up brush sets, this is a good one for you. The brushes by LADES look like the Unicorn brush set, and you can choose from a selection of colours too. The delivery was pretty speedy, and I remind you again they cost me $12.99. They are a pretty alternative to standard make up brushes, and if you pair it with a rose gold clear brush holder, then it’s a nice accessory for your dressing table.

Stay beautiful!

Shannon

xoxo

 

Lades Brushes:
https://www.amazon.com/Makeup-Brush-Unicorn-Design-Brushes/dp/B06XNMK4FQ/ref=sr_1_7_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1513265535&sr=8-7&keywords=makeup%2Bbrushes%2Bunicorn&th=1

Zoeva Brush Holder:  https://www.beautybay.com/accessories/zoeva/rosegoldenbrushholder/

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NYX Lipstick Haul Review

GUESS WHO’S BACK?!  So sorry for the long delay in getting posts out on here, with getting houses/being in America for months the time has just flown by.  But have no fear, we are back!  We decided on doing a joint blog post reviewing a brand that is very popular to us and we really promote this brand, and that is NYX.  It’s super affordable and is such high quality makeup and it really bridges the gap between drugstore and high end makeup.  They have a notably large lip range, so we thought why not dive right in and review/rate their products!  So without further ado, let’s get to it!

Cosmic Metals Lip Cream – £7.00 (Boots.com)

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cosmic swatches

Left to Right: ‘Speed of Light’, ‘Galactic’

So this range is a little different because of the colours/style of the lipsticks.  I am in love with the space and star theme (as many of you know I looooove stars), so this range instantly ticks the box for me!  I love the names and choice of colours; it ranges from vivid pinks, to grey, to different shades of blue and green.   Although not every day colours and they can be intimidating, the range is super fun and different and would really show a different side to anyone!

Application wise it goes on super nice and easy due to its creamy consistency.  It, at first, appears to stay on so well too despite how bold the colours are!  Tina commented on how precise you can be with it during application to create that bold lip look.  In particular, Speed of Light is a favourite of ours due to its rose gold appearance and although bold, it’s still quite a neutral colour!

But, there are unfortunately disadvantages with this range.  The main problem is, as is the usual problem with bold colours, the constant top up situation #firstworldproblems.  It can go everywhere too if you do not have a steady hand and can easily go out of line.  I had an issue with Galactic as there is no lip liner in the range to match it – I searched everywhere for a grey lip liner and ended up buying grey eyeliner.  It works OK but it isn’t the greatest in maintaining that nice lip shape that I aim to create.

Ratings…

TINA: 8/10

SHANNON: 8/10

 

Soft Matte Lip Cream – £6.00 (Boots.com)

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Left to Right: ‘Milan’, ‘Prague’, ‘Monte Carlo’, ‘Seoul’, ‘Transylvania’

This range is a bit of a hit/miss in our opinion.  So I (Shannon) got the miniature versions of these lippies in an advent calendar last Christmas (which btw, was insane value for money!) which included the Soft Matte Lip Creams as well as individual eyeshadows.  Their size is super handy as they are small enough to fit into any size bag/purse and are also great for taking on a short weekend away on holiday!  This is super fitting with the theme of these lip creams, as each one is named after a city in the world which I think is adorable.  The range has such diversity, ranging from bubble-gum pinks to blood reds/purples, but also has a huge variety of nudes so there is a shade for everyone.

However, the good words about these lip creams slowly come to a halt here.  Although the tubes are handy being smaller, they have far less product which makes it harder to achieve a full lip coverage.  I could barely get two uses out of one of these lip creams, which gives off such a bad impression of what could have been a fantastic product.  Although they smell incredible and almost like coconut, they do not give good coverage and are nowhere near as pigmented as the other NYX ranges.  When Tina first used the colours shown above, she described the application as “alright, but messy” and would not pay the £6.00 price mark and that is where I would agree too.  It had such potential to be a great and fun range, with ‘a colour for every city’; however it failed to live up to expectation due to the poor application and pigmentation.  Such a shame!

Ratings:

TINA: 2/10

SHANNON: 4/10

 

Lip Lingerie – £8 (Boots.com)

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Left to Right: ‘Embellishment’, ‘Bedtime Flirt’

OK so this one is the absolute STUFF!  I am COMPLETELY obsessed with this range.  Tina described this range as ‘on par with the Matte lipsticks.’  I have described them as ‘I can’t even.’  Although there isn’t much difference between the shades, the range lies in the neutral tones area, meaning that all the shades are timeless classics.  It’s such good value for money and I’m going to explain exactly why I think that!

It’s such a smooth application with zero mess and not only does it actually dry, but it dries nice.  There is no need to even top this up during a night out, which is super handy when your hands aren’t as steady!  You would pay a fortune to get lipsticks that can stay on for that long, but this one is EIGHT POUNDS!  It’s an absolute steal!  ‘Bedtime Flirt’ is such a gorgeous colour that suits any skin tone and is that sweet neutral pink that everyone needs in their collection.  The real game changer is ‘Embellishment’ – I’m just completely lost for words with this one.  I AM OBSESSED.  It’s my go to lipstick; the colour is so pigmented and so warm and does not crack my lips.

Ratings:

TINA: 9/10

SHANNON: 10/10

 

Matte Lipstick – £7 (NYX.com)

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matte lipstick

Top to bottom: ‘Natural’, ‘Whipped Caviar’

What everyone has been waiting for, a moisturising matte lipstick! It is one of the best matte lipsticks I have come across, it does not dry your lips out which makes it a massive hit! As you can see there isn’t a great deal of difference between the two swatches, the colour is rather similar between the two, however ‘Whipped Caviar’ produces a darker take on the ‘Natural’ colour, adding more of a glamorous touch which is perfect for day and night.

It glides on like a treat, super pigmented and stays on; I don’t know what more you could ask for! Just like most lipsticks if you’re eating or drinking, it will rub off but only with consistent contact and with these neutral pinks when it does rub off it is so subtle no one will notice! Honestly, I would say the consistency is very much a dupe of MAC’s matte lipsticks, so if you’re looking for a cheaper version, this is the one!
Ratings:

TINA – 8/10

SHANNON – 7/10

 

Extra Creamy Makeup Round Lipstick – £4 (NYX.com)

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xtra creamy

Left to Right: ‘Watermelon’, ‘Topaz’

I always believe quality is not defined by price but in this case, this definitely applies. Before I tried these on I was in LOVE, the colours are right up my street. I’m a sucker for a nice subtle glitter lipstick (I have a big love for MAC’s ‘Fabby’) and could not wait to try these on and as soon as I began to apply it, all my love for the product vanished. Although the application was smooth, it was a bit too smooth and I could not apply the product accurately and it ended up here there and everywhere! It did not feel nice on the lips and it would come off with a touch which is not what you want from a lipstick.

The colours are gorgeous, they are not available anymore but we were able to find some similar colours (i.e. B52 = Watermelon & Vitamin = Topaz). Still, I would not recommend buying this product, the colours are gorgeous and would be fab if they were of the Matte lipstick texture but this takes ‘extra creamy’ to another level. We were highly disappointed.

Ratings:

TINA – 2/10

SHANNON – 5/10

 

Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick – £7 (Boots.com)

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liquid suede

Left to Right: ‘Tea & Cookies’, ‘Cherrie Skies’

If we compare this lipstick to the Matte one in terms of price, you are being robbed! This should be priced the same as the ‘Extra Creamy Makeup Round Lipstick’. It was extremely disappointing, it has some beautiful colours, in particular ‘Cherrie Skies’ is BEAUTIFUL, if only it was beautiful on the lips! It is easy to apply but before you have even finished you’ll have painted your teeth in the process. I wore this lipstick for a night out and I was constantly applying it and it smudged all over my face and my teeth, not what you want, the idea is to look as sober as possible!

Another flaw with this lipstick is that it never actually dries, hence how it ends up all over your teeth, I haven’t had this problem since I was 12 and used those free lipsticks you get with a magazine! We both agree the ‘Tea & Cookies’ shade is not a good look; it’s bright bubble-gum pink and makes you look like a Barbie doll. I would not consider wearing this again and save yourself the £7 and go and buy a ‘Cosmetics Metal Lip Cream’ or ‘Matte Lipstick’!

Ratings:

TINA – 0/10

SHANNON – 2/10

So this was our NYX lipstick haul review!  Some got great reviews, others not so much, but we hope it was a good read and has given an insight into the NYX range.  Some of the products we tried are excellent dupes for high end products, and everyone loves an affordable lippie!

Thanks for reading, and stay beautiful!

Shannon & Tina

xoxo

John Mayer ‘The Search for Everything Tour’ – O2 Arena, London, 12th May 2017

So for the people that follow me on social media, you will know how much I love John Mayer.  On Friday 12th May I was in London ready to go and finally see him for the first time, after years and years of waiting.  The word ‘excitement’ didn’t even cover it!  An idol, an inspiration, a song for every emotion and phase in your life; he really is a massive inspiration to me and has had a huge impact on my life.

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[Cheesy photo in the tube station at the O2; ended up on the @allontheboard instagram page!]

The gig itself was, of course, incredible.  The stage setting was more extravagant than the one seen on his ‘Where the Light is’ Live DVD tour, but it was more simplistic than many artists today.  An interactive board behind and an interactive floor (which most of the time was rippled water); this was showing a more ‘out-there’ Mayer that people have not seen before.

Playing to a sold out show, the genius himself mixed old and new songs with a generous balance.  Chapter 1 saw the names of all the band members and who the show was ‘starring’, almost like it was the start of a brand new movie at the premiere.  Then the crowd erupted as he broke out into the classic ‘Waiting on the World to Change.’  Slick transitions, smooth solo guitar playing and silky vocals, it was John making his mark on the stage from the word go.  From classics like this, to newer songs like ‘Moving on and Getting Over’, he really set the bar high for what was to follow in the rest of the show.

Chapter 2 slowed down the night going into an acoustic set, with John standing alone on stage.  The Japanese inspired back drop with pink blossom trees and pagodas, and a lone red bridge crossing ‘water’, created a nice touch and simply beautiful.  This part of the set in particular was my favourite, as whilst he played ‘Neon’ and ‘Stop this Train’, the lesser popular songs were echoed around the arena.  Mayer played my favourite song out of his whole discography, ‘Walt Grace’s Submarine Test, 1967’, with such passion and emotion and told the story like it was a novel which reduced me to tears.  The acoustic setting was truly heart-warming and all the emotion was clear to see in John himself.

Chapter 3 saw the pace picked back up, with the John Mayer Trio making an appearance after a short video explaining why they were back.  Although a short section, the blues oozed from the fantastic trio of Mayer, Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino.  From covering Robert Johnson’s ‘Crossroads’, to playing the electric ‘Vultures’, the trio were sharp and on point, and demonstrated why their reformation was the best decision.  The crowd absolutely loved it and Mayer seemed to too, as his endless talent was clearly shown with his prolonged guitar soloing and jamming with a massive smile on his face.

Chapter 4 saw the revival of the full band and backing singers, and the stage was full once again.  Whilst doing a cover of the late Prince song ‘The Beautiful Ones’, this again was another fantastic section in the show.  Playing a mixture of old, new and lesser known songs, Mayer really brought in all his discography into this section.  The crowd went crazy for the well-known heart wrenching ‘Slow Dancing in a Burning Room’, whilst his latest single ‘Still Feel Like Your Man’ was also a favourite, and even saw the music video’s pandas appear on screen.  This section ended with ‘Dear Marie’, which the crowd seemed to adore.  Mayer described that song as ‘the best thing to come out of a terrible album that the label hated’; a bold statement because personally some of my favourite songs are off that album!  It was slow, it was smooth and it was pitch perfect as always.

After being beckoned to return to the stage for more, Mayer reappeared for his encore and epilogue.  The crowd favourite ‘Gravity’ was played to perfection, with the crisp guitar solos echoing around the room and people stood in sheer awe at his playing.  The tour debut song ‘I Will Be Found (Lost at Sea), although lesser known, received a great reception from the crowd with John’s melodic piano playing.  The rippling water effect on the floor gave the impression that he was out at sea, playing to find his way back.  This led into the final song of the night (unfortunately!), the one that he finished with every night on the tour.  ‘You’re Gonna Live Forever in Me’ was a superb finish to the John Mayer experience; it was calm, relaxing and honestly gave you chills.  His vocals were perfect and the piano playing was captivating and it was so simple, with John sitting alone at a white piano with a white backdrop and floor setting.  It was a great final chapter to the show, and as the lights went off you knew the book was now closed for the night.

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[Photo Credit: Shannon Westwood]

It was hands down the best gig of my life so far, and that’s not me being biased.  The only downside (apart from the fact that the concert finished!) was that ‘Free Fallin’ was never played.  Although it’s a cover, it’s a crowd favourite and I overheard many a conversation when leaving the arena that they were devastated that he did not play it.  However the set list was the best mix of old and new songs, with a few other new covers thrown in and the different genres that John plays in were showcased.  Hands down the best night of my life so far and I still haven’t quite gotten over it!

I know it’s a long gig review, but because it was so important to me I felt I just had to write one!  Comments are welcomed (as I don’t normally do gig reviews, so any advice is appreciated) and I will get writing my next post real soon.

Stay beautiful,

Shannon

Xoxo

Morphe 35T Colour Taupe Palette

New purchase alert!  Sorry for such a long gap from my last blog.  I’ve majorly needed some inspiration to get into blogging again, and after purchasing this beauty it’s just done that.  I know that Morphe is nothing new, and that it’s been around for a while and it’s had its moment, but when I saw this on Beauty bay I HAD to get it.  I’ve wanted a new eye shadow palette for a while and this has just ticked every box that I needed.

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Firstly, I just have to comment on its packaging.  HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?!  My first thought when it arrived was that I was sent a small laptop by mistake.  It’s such a strong case which is good because you know your shadows will not get damaged, but it’s also super lightweight.  This is so important particularly when travelling; when I go on holiday I want to take minimal makeup, but an eye shadow palette is one of my essential items to pack.  Now with this palette I know I can pop it into my suitcase and not feel guilty about the weight of it!  The negative is that there is no mirror on the inside of the lid, which can be a little inconvenient but it honestly did not bother me too much.

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The colours and their pigmentation is something that just stands out on this palette.  CAN WE JUST APPRECIATE HOW PIGMENTED THE GLITTER SHADOWS ARE?!  These swatches literally took one stroke; I’m not kidding.  I was so amazed at how strong the colours were as I was not expecting them to be this good at all.  The colours are so bold which is great because you don’t have to use a lot of product when applying, causing less fallout.  I’m so happy with the more glittery shades; they’re perfect for the summer and add glamour, whether it’s for festivals or holiday’s, but they’re also great for winter to brighten up the darker days and nights.  I wear a lot of gold, neutral and brown shades and there is a great variety of these colours in the palette, which for me is perfect as I know I will get as much use out of it as possible.

 

Unfortunately though, there is a big negative with the colours.  This is that the more matte shades really do lack the same pigmentation that the more shimmer based ones do.  I was quite disappointed with this because after seeing the shimmer shades, I had high expectations for the matte shades.  (SEE BOTTOM TWO SWATCHES).  To even get the swatches alone, it took a lot of strokes to actually get a decent amount of colour, so when applying it to your eye lid it’ll require the same to get a good intensifying look.  However I don’t want this negative to take away the brilliance of this product.  The colours, including the matte shades, are absolutely fantastic and are still pigmented and are great to have in your make up collection!

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Lastly, I want to talk about the quality for price ratio.  I paid £22 for this palette on www.beautybay.com.  That’s 35 shades for £22.  It’s such a small price compared to other palettes on the market, such as the Naked range by Urban Decay, and you get so much more for your money!  I’ve found from researching that it is more expensive to actually buy in the United States (for example, if you were travelling there and wanted to buy it), then buying it on a site like Beauty Bay.  The 35TT palette is perfect for all make up abilities; I’m simply a make-up lover and not the most skilled at make-up, so I love having a palette this large to play around with and improve my skills!  I would highly recommend this palette to anyone who wants to expand their collection or is starting out with make-up.  It’s affordable and great quality; what more could you want?!  I’m currently debating another palette to buy in their range, which includes the 35W Colour Warm, 35U Multi Colour Shimmer, 35S Smokey Eye, and 35K Colour Koffee to name but a few.  I personally think that Morphe needs more credit than what it is given over in the UK; an absolutely fantastic product which should be a part of make-up lovers’ collections everywhere.

 

I hope you liked this product, and if there are any items that you would like to me to review, leave me a comment!

 

Stay beautiful,

 

Shannon

xoxo

 

(PHOTO CREDITS: Major thanks to Robyn Smith for taking these photos of my palette!)

Physician’s Formula ‘Nude Wear Touch of Glow’ Palette

For most girls anywhere, when it comes to makeup, it’s all about the highlighter.  When the light hits those high plains of your face… girlllll it’s a fine moment.  There are so many out there now on the market within a variety of price ranges and household names; Maybelline, Rimmel, Anastasia Beverly Hills and Kat Von D.  One that I found on my travels around the United States this summer however, is a complete game changer.  It is the ‘Nude Wear Touch of Glow’ palette by drug store brand Physician’s Formula.  I bought mine from a local Walmart so it is easily accessible to purchase for my American friends across the pond; for everyone else, it means international shipping but I assure it is totally worth it!  Here are a few reasons why:

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The first reason as to why this is an essential item in your make up kit is because of its cute packaging.  I mean seriously guys; I’m not a girly person, but this pink case and bow is ADORABLE.  It’s cute, it’s pretty; it looks appealing to buy from the offset!  Compared to most palettes it is a lot smaller, meaning you can take it on the go with you.  I’m not saying you can’t take other palettes with you, but who is seriously going to work round with an Anastasia Beverly Hills’ ‘Glow Palette’ in their bag?  Not this girl!  The packaging is sturdy but not heavy, meaning that the product inside is never going to crack or break and spill everywhere.  Result!

Secondly, the application of this product is so easy.  Simply swish your brush over all four areas of the palette or just one if you so desire.  It literally takes 1-2 strokes and you can already see the results.  For me that is a big deal; I can’t stand any of these products that takes a thousand application strokes and THEN the horrid task of obscene blending.  With the ‘Touch of Glow’ palette, it is made much more simple and easier, which just honestly makes a small aspect of our lives much simpler.

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(Apologies for the photo quality; could not find good lighting in my house!)

The final and main reason as to why this product is an essential and is worth the shipping cost is because of its pigmentation.  To say it is a cheaper product in the market at $14.95, it is DIVINE.  The two bronzers shades provide a warm yet natural glow to your face, and paired with the cheeky blusher it makes your cheeks pop a rosy shade of pink.  Most importantly though, in this palette those aspects are not as essential.  For me, the highlighter is what I live for.  I mean seriously… HAVE YOU SEEN HOW PRETTY THIS IS?!

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*pause for a moment* #prayforShannon #thishighlighterthough.   These pictures don’t do it justice.  It’s super pigmented, it gives off the best glow and when the light hits those high plains of your face… my lord it is a beautiful moment.   Even if you didn’t use the other aspects to this palette, at least buy and use it just for this highlighter.  Please.  It’ll change your life.

As I said earlier, for my American friendlings, this product is available at most drug stores and I purchased it from a local Walmart.  For $14.95, you literally cannot argue that it is a bargain; you’re getting two bronzers, a blush and a highlighter for under $15!  For the rest of the world, that’s around £12-13.  Still a bargain nonetheless! I use this palette every day and honestly I can say it has never disappointed me, and it has lasted me since June so it is very durable!  The whole Physician’s Formula range is very practical and affordable and I would highly recommend it for anyone wanting to try a new brand that bridges the gap between high-end and drug store makeup.

http://www.physiciansformula.com/en-us/productdetail/face/bronzers/06399.html

Stay beautiful,

Shannon

xoxo

5 Things that I’ve Learnt from Working at a Summer Camp

I’ve honestly had the most amazing summer working at Camp Iroquois Springs.  I was a camp counselor specialising in Horse Back Riding and I got placed by the amazing USA Summer Camp!  If you’re interested in starting your American adventure, I honestly would recommend going through these guys.  The staff are so helpful every step of the way, and they are just as happy as you are when you get placed at your dream camp! (For more info, visit www.usasummercamp.co.uk)

Camp was such a life changing experience and one that I will never forget.  I’ve met friends for life, with whom I share the most amazing memories with which I could talk endlessly about.  But for now, I’m going to share with you the 5 main and most important things I learnt whilst working at a camp, which I hope are useful to you!

  1. BELIEVING IN YOURSELF – Prior to camp, I tended to struggle in believing in myself and believing in my abilities. But when you are put in a situation where you are in a new country, completely out of your comfort zone with a brand new set of people, you’ve got to have some confidence to get by every day.  During orientation, it’s key to set yourself goals for the summer and what you want to achieve, because once the children arrive it’s game on.  I didn’t honestly think my children would love me, or I thought I would terrible at my job, but you get so much confidence, honesty and motivation from your co-counsellors and general leaders that you start to think ‘you know what, I can do this.’  After my first evaluation with my GL, I never really doubted myself again all summer.  I believed that I was doing a great job, and I believed that I was doing the best for my kids and that they appreciated everything I did for them.  I came away a different person, knowing that I had done the best job that I could have done and others believed that too.

 

  1. WHAT EVEN IS SLEEP?! – Going about day to day activities on 2-3 hours’ sleep is honestly easy as pie after working at a summer camp. I had the Upper Senior Girls, so aged around 13-14, so they were relatively easy to get to sleep.  But it was always the case of once you got off OD or from a night off and you got into your bed, you were wide awake and couldn’t sleep.  Waking up at 7am every day too becomes second nature; a ‘lie-in’ is now a thing of the past!  Long day and a lack of sleep become so normal; you do forget what it’s like to not feel tired! But if you keep pushing through it, it’s honestly so worth it.  Don’t give up!

 

 

  1. GETTING READY IN 15 MINUTES IS A PIECE OF CAKE – As I stated earlier, the girls I had were aged 13-14 and in my bunk there were 18 girls and 4 counsellors including myself… so you can imagine what shower hour was like! It was honestly like being in the army; so regimented and the girls were timed in their showers.  Most of the time, us counsellors were left with 10 minutes to shower and then get ready.  Most evenings this was fine, but when it got to banquet nights it was a nightmare and such a rush.  The positive though, is that we still managed to make ourselves look #onfleek in 10 minutes!  It is honestly a skill you will acquire, and you will only see it as a skill when you return home and you manage to get yourself ready for a dressed up occasion in 15-20 minutes, when previously it would have taken you hours.

 

  1. THE FRIENDS YOU MAKE ARE FRIENDS FOR LIFE – It’s such a cliché but it’s honestly so true. You live together at camp in such a close proximity, and you learn about each other’s lives so quickly it makes you feel like you’ve known them forever.   When you come back from a day off, your friends feel like you’ve been gone for weeks and they want updates on everything that happened that day.  Nights off with your best friends are also made for campfires and songs and long walks by the lakes.  It’s such a reality check when you fly back home to find your camp best friends not there by your side anymore.  It’s taken me so long to adapt to that; I miss them being around all the time! From going to camp, I’ve made such good friends from all over the world who I regularly talk via social media.  I’ve even already booked to go and see some of them abroad!  So in your camp experience you will make friends from everywhere, and I mean everywhere.  From the United States, to New Zealand, to France and even to South Africa; camp seriously has an amazing mix of cultures!

 

  1. LIFE DOESN’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE SERIOUS – This is the main thing that I learnt from camp, which is why I’ve saved the best till last. At camp, you get to act like a child every day.    Yes you have to act like a teacher to the campers, but they want to be your friend too.  But you don’t want to be too strict with them.  There will be activities where you have to be out of your comfort zone and be silly for your kids; so step up and do it!  I did and I would have regretted it if I hadn’t of done it.  In your first year, it’s hard I’m not going to lie, because honestly, you have no idea what you’re doing and how to impress your kids.  But it’s really simple.  The kids love it when you act on their level too; it shows them that you can be relatable, so acting all silly when they do and sitting with them, laughing with them about their boy talk or just general girl chit-chat goes a long way.  Life is too short to always be serious, and before camp I was such a serious person.  Camp has changed me for the better as a result, as now I have way more fun than I did before camp!

 

So these are just my personal 5 reasons as to what I learnt from camp.  There were so many more that I could have listed and I could honestly go on forever about camp.  Your experience will be different than mine, just as mine has been different from somebody else’s.  That doesn’t mean you will learn these things too.  If you’re anxious about embarking on this adventure, take the leap and do it.  It will be one of the best decisions that you will ever make, and I guarantee that you’ll have the best summer of your life.

Happy traveling!

Stay beautiful,

Shannon

xoxo

My Top 10 Tips for Road Tripping Around the USA After Working at a Summer Camp

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(New York skyline.  Photo Credit: Shannon Westwood)

I did my road trip around the USA after an amazing summer working at Camp Iroquois Springs.  I was a camp counselor specialising in Horse Back Riding, and for those wondering, I was placed by USA Summer Camp who were absolutely amazing throughout the process!  For more information on USA Summer Camp, check them out on their website!  www.usasummercamp.co.uk

Camp has been such a life changing experience and I honestly wish I had done it sooner and not held back!  After camp, my friends and I embarked on a road trip around the North-East and honestly it was pretty impressive.  13 states in 15 days; every North-East state bar Maine, and included some interesting places like Salem, the Howe Caverns and Niagara Falls.  We drove throughout the whole trip which I was sceptical of at first, as I had it in my head originally that I would have travelled by bus.  But honestly, driving was the best decision we could have made.  If you’re heading off to a summer camp or just travelling around the US in general, here are my top 10 tips for making your road trip a true all American adventure.

 

  1. SAVE THE MONEY THAT YOU EARN – dollar dollar dollar. I saved most of my wage and was stingy throughout the summer, but it’s totally worth it at the end!  Having that extra money to be able to go that extra mile on your trip and see more destinations was awesome.  Plus if you have leftover dollars, just convert them back!  Win-win situation!
  2. GO IN A GOOD SIZED GROUP – my road trip consisted of 7 and we had two cars (one which was a rental), so maybe a group of 4 is a good size to start with because it’s an even number plus you wouldn’t have to fork out for 2 rental cars and more fuel cost! Having said that, the bigger the group the more personalities and more ideas of cool places to visit that you may not have originally have thought of.
  3. PLAN PLAN PLAN – Plan way before your actual trip the sort of areas you want to go in – it saves you time and stress by mapping out your route weeks before the trip actually starts, and it means you can feel at ease knowing what direction you’re going to be travelling in
  4. CAMPING IS ACTUALLY PRETTY FUN – I hated camping before my road trip, but honestly some of the best nights that we had were in our tent camping in national state parks (some of them even had warning signs for bears, which is always a positive!) But seriously, it saves SO much money and chip in as a group for your tent and whaddaya know, Bob’s your uncle
  5. GET TO CAMPSITES LATE – although driving in the dark in a foreign country is pretty hard, it’s worth it because getting to campsites late means one thing (in most cases)… free entry. State park/campsite offices usually shut around 4-6pm, so arrive 8pm or later and you’re pretty much guaranteed a free night.
  6. MAKE FREQUENT WIFI STOPS – seems like an obvious one, but being on the road for a while and in such close proximity with people will cause tensions to rise. Making frequent wifi stops means you can delve into your own personal world for a while, catch up with home or be up to date with the latest news.  It’s also a good chance to look for accommodation for that night/future nights and you can contact these places if advanced booking is required
  7. BUY A COOLER – it was honestly the best thing we did! We bought milk, orange juice, meat for a BBQ and sandwich fillers, which meant we could have cereal in the morning for breakfast and could also make sandwiches for during the day, which equals saving money on buying food out. I personally tried to buy more fruit and salad stuff, because healthy food in the USA was a lot more expensive than fast food, so I took that chance to try and detox a little whilst travelling
  8. TALK THINGS OUT – tensions will rise on a road trip at some point.   The best thing to do, no matter how bad the situation is, is to talk it out as a group.  Get it out in the open how others in the group are feeling.  It may not resolve the situation, but at least people’s feelings are known, so the situation can hopefully be prevented from reoccurring in the future
  9. COMPROMISE – when travelling you’ll have in your head all the cities and sights you wanna see. C., New York City, Nashville, Chicago, maybe Salem or Pittsburgh… You have to remember the rest of your group will want to see specific places too.  Be sure to all talk together when travelling to a city and talk about the day plan.  Not everyone will want to see historical sights in DC ALL day, and not everyone will want to spend a full day at a campsite.  You just have to give and take, compromise where you can; even in a city split off into two groups and arrange a meeting point and time, and keep in touch with occasional messages via Facebook or What’s App.  It gives the group dynamic a better feeling and honestly, will make your trip more enjoyable.  You never know, you could end up doing something that you used to hate, but because you’re doing it with your best friends you end up coming away absolutely loving it.
  10. MAKE SURE SOMEONE HAS A CREDIT CARD – honestly, people will tell you time and time again. AMERICA IS THE LAND OF CREDIT CARDS.  I didn’t believe it, but honestly having one out there was the best decision I could have made.  You can only get a rental car with a credit card, some toll roads accept credit only (as well as some parking lots).  It’s just that extra bit of security and it gives you something to fall back on should you run out of money.  Make sure to only use it in an emergency though, you don’t want a HUGE credit card bill to come home too!

I would ALWAYS recommend road tripping, if it’s possible, across America rather than taking the Amtrak trains or Greyhound buses.  You see so much more of the country and get a real feel for the sheer size of America’s beautiful landscape.  One thing I’ll never forget from my road trip experience this summer was driving through Vermont; I had never seen anything so beautiful in my entire life, and that is something that I would have never experience from being sat on a train.  It is hard work, I won’t lie to you.  It will be tough, you’ll be tired and you may end up wanting to kill people in your group.  But when you get home and look back on your adventure, or when you get back to the car rental place and pass over those keys, you just stand there and think ‘Jeez, we made it.  We did it.’  You will miss it instantly!  I moaned how tired I was throughout my whole trip because I was the only person that could drive the rental car.  But if someone asked me to do it all again tomorrow, I totally would.  Honestly, the memories you have singing ‘Country Roads’ whilst crossing the West Virginia state border, getting lost in the dark in the middle of a random forest, and driving up the wrong side of the road, (in our case!), are ones you will hold forever.  I could talk for hours about other top tips that I’ve experienced through my road trip across the North East this summer, but I hope these 10 have helped!

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(Randomly driving through New York state. Photo Credit: Shannon Westwood)

Happy road tripping!

Stay beautiful,

Shannon

xoxo