Why I’ve chosen to stop wearing make-up.

There has always been a lot of pressure for women to look a certain way. You can’t escape the websites and social media outlets filled with gorgeous, flawless women with the ‘perfect’ eyebrows and contoured cheekbones. They are beautiful and effortless and I will never be able to recreate their looks. For the longest time I thought the only way I could be feminine enough, that I could be pretty enough was to wear a certain amount of slap. I had convinced myself that I was too masculine without make-up and my skin was too uneven in tone to be seen without a coating of concealer.

In actual fact, I have always been very lucky. I have never suffered with acne, or with spots or pimples of any kind. My pores may be considered large, however they have remained fairly clear of black or whiteheads. My cheeks redden easily, I blush and when I become hot I flame up magnificently. This always caused me a lot of embarrassment and anxiety. I believed coating them in foundation and loose powder would keep them porcelain white.

Generally I am considered youthful looking, and am often mistaken for being several years younger than I actually am. This is something of a compliment as I age, I may look young, but I still look just about old enough to avoid being constantly asked to produce ID. I can live with that. Since ditching the make-up people have told me I look much fresher, and younger.

At the start of the Summer 10×10 challenge I decided to ditch the make-up during the challenge and let the outfits do the talking. During this period I thought a lot about how I felt about myself with a bare face, and how I felt others were perceiving me. I also became much more keenly aware of the other women in my life, and the make-up they chose to wear.

I was pleasantly surprised that during the challenge, no-one commented (or even seemed to notice) that I was no longer wearing concealer, foundations, lose powder, eye-liner, mascara and lipstick which had been my staple face paint every day. My other half noticed, however his response was “I’ve always preferred it when you don’t have make-up on. I think you look beautiful”- which is always nice to hear.

So after the challenge I have not gone back to putting on the make-up every morning and have been thinking about the benefits in order to reinforce the decision (as i’m only human and often question my motives, wanting to run back to the familiarity of hiding behind products that present a carefully created picture of myself). The pros though outweighed this fear:

  • Not having to think about make-up (application, checking, reapplication and removal, along with remembering to buy products and ensuring I take products with me) has freed up a lot of time for doing other things.
  • I save time in the mornings, which either ensures I get to work early, or that I can spend a cheeky extra 10 minutes in bed! It really surprised me how much time applying make-up took, as it really is 10 or 15 minutes every morning that I am saving.
  • Lets my skin breathe and be it’s natural self. The products were clogging my pores (no matter how carefully I removed it at the end of the day) and causing a few more spots than usual. I was also struggling with blocked oil glands and tear ducts around the eyes, which were not being helped by the make-up I wore.
  • Saves me money – make-up is expensive!
  • Less pressure to ensure I am confirming to certain looks or styles, I don’t have to check my make-up hasn’t run and that I am looking ‘perfect’.
  • I can touch my eyes and face without being coated in products or displacing my make-up. I can rub my eye, scratch my nose or wipe my mouth without getting streaks and smears across my skin.

So currently I just wash my face with water (no products, even one’s that are supposedly good for skin or gentle as they are often very drying and harsh), apply a light facial moisturiser with SPF 15 in it such as Boots simply sensitive day moisturiser (it’s important to protect your skin from UV rays and stay hydrated. Something light to not clog the pores too much or leave the skin greasy) and a lip balm to soften the lips (I use Burt’s Bees Coconut and Pear lip balm which is a limited edition, however I love any of the Burt’s Bees balms). I use the Boots essentials cucumber wipes to freshen up on the go, but try not to use these too much, as i don’t want to dry or tighten the face on my skin, which is very sensitive.

All in all the experience has been very liberating. I feel that I have gained confidence from the experience, getting over my fear that people are judging me if I am not doing the adult thing and wearing make-up. People are actually concentrating on what i’m doing or saying, rather than staring at my face, silently mocking me for not being grown-up enough to put a bit of lippy on, or looking like a shiny, red little boy!

But if you did want to stare at my face and think that – this is what the happy, healthy, confident, make-up free me looks like:

Whilst i fully acknowledge that make-up is fantastic, and there are some very, very talented people out there who can do incredible things with a face, that’s just not me. I’m bare, i’m natural, and i’m loving it!

 

*The links in this post are only being used as an illustration of products I use. I have not been asked to promote these products, this post is not sponsored and I received no financial or other gain from providing these links.

 

 

The Summer 10×10 challenge. 

As you will hear from advocates of capsule and minimalist wardrobes the world over – removing the vast number of items you have to choose from on a daily basis actually makes the process of getting dressed easier. I know, it’s crazy – how does removing your choices actually give you more outfits to wear and greater happiness wearing them? For me, it’s simple. I lack both confidence in my ability to know what looks good on me and confidence in my body. Fashion, looking on trend and feeling good, that was for other women. The women with bodies made for this trend or that style.

During my search for a miracle ‘how to’ guide to understanding what suits me and what I feel good in, I stumbled across Caroline Rector’s blog Un-Fancy and Lee Vosburgh’s Style Bee blog these were women who were unapologetic about their smaller wardrobes and simpler style choices – and they looked incredible. I poured over the posts, quickly becoming aware of their seasonal 10×10 challenges. They were taking 10 items of clothing and making 10 outfits over 10 days, and they were asking their followers to do the same.

I jumped straight onto Instagram and searched the hashtags #summer10x10, #fall10x10, #winter10x10 and #spring10x10. Women all around the world were showing off items they felt incredible in, some were experimenting with clothing and combinations they weren’t sure they could pull off, and they were learning what worked and what didn’t. I was sold. The community was supportive and every woman was embracing their individual style – and they all looked amazing!

I was excited as I started looking through my own wardrobe, finding 10 pieces I really loved and enjoyed wearing wasn’t as hard as I first thought – it’s a well known fact that no matter how big or small your wardrobe is, you often end up wearing the same small number of trusted pieces. I ended up with 10 pieces and 2 pairs of shoes (shoes are usually included within the main 10 pieces) – not bad for my first shaky attempt at joining in.  I assembled the items onto my clothing rail, snapped a picture, uploaded it to instagram and with that I was ready to go!


I used the same necklace, earrings, watch and handbag everyday. This isn’t unusual though, as I have a limited number of each that I (infrequently) rotate anyway. I also decided to skip all makeup for the challenge, apart from facial moisturiser and lip balm I consciously stayed away from other products. I feel I had been drawn into the trap of believing I needed them to look ‘pretty’ or ‘like a woman’. Actually funny enough it is all those posts on Instagram of women with incredible makeup that started to put me off. More power to them, and they are incredibly talented, however instead of feeling inspired I started to feel envious. That wasn’t a good feeling, and made me think maybe it was time to go back to liking me as me, not as an airbrushed version of me. It certainly saved me a lot of time in the mornings!

Not included in  the challenge were underwear and tights, workout clothes, weekend clothes (this was strictly a Monday-Friday challenge) and outdoor wear

 

Day one: 

What I wore:

  • Black pencil skirt
  • Multi-coloured blouse
  • Blue cardigan
  • Multi-coloured loafers

How I felt: 

I liked the pencil skirt, it’s the perfect length to wear in the office with bare legs during the summer months. The blouse is fun and brightly coloured, but I wasn’t convinced it worked as well as I was hoping with the skirt, it was a bit loose around the waist – but it was the first time I had ever worn it and i’m confident i’ll get used to the knotted tie waist as I style it in different ways. My loafers are a favourite, comfortable to walk around in all day and bright enough to jazz up a plain outfit.

Day two:

What I wore:

  • Slim fit black trousers
  • Blue blouse
  • Blue cardigan
  • Multi-coloured loafers

How I felt:

These trousers are my new favourite ever! The fit is so comfortable, but the tapered slim leg, and ankle grazing length keeps them stylish and flatters my shape nicely. This blouse is lovely but it’s just starting to look a little worn and faded, which makes me very sad as it looks cute when it’s on. I felt pretty comfortable wearing this outfit all day.

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Day Three:

What I wore:

  • Blue, short sleeved sweater top
  • Black pencil skirt
  • Multi-coloured loafers

How I felt:

These loafers have been great for the challenge. As this is my first challenge, and I wasn’t too confident about what I could mix and match with such a small amount of clothing, I mostly stuck to plain and dark items, so the loafers have really helped to make a statement without me needing too much else.

This sweater top is really comfortable, the slightly ruched shoulders are fun, but the fit overall accentuates the curves and hides the lumps and bumps quite well. Teamed with the pencil skirt I was feeling a really ’50s vibe, and was putting myself slightly out of my comfort zone, by wearing a form fitting outfit without the big baggy cardigan I would usually have thrown over it to hide my body away from people. I was nervous at first, and felt very under-dressed, but after a couple of hours in the office I relaxed and realised no-one was looking at me, judging my body or my choice of outfit.

Day Four:

What I wore: 

  • Purple cardigan
  • Flowery dress
  • Brown slide sandals

How I felt: 

I love this dress! It was such a bargain – £7.99 from H&M last year. At first when I got it I wasn’t sure. The neckline is high (not usually great on a larger chested person) and the sleeveless cut is verging on racer-back. However, after a few wears it really grew on me and now I reach for it regularly – in all seasons – it looks as good paired with boots or loafers and tights as it does with slides and sandals. I rarely go out without an upper layer, i’m very self-conscious and feel I have nowhere to hide myself without a cardigan or cover-up. This cardigan is 3/4 sleeved and a fitted length but it both covered me, and accentuated the outfit. The slide sandals are so comfy and versatile I have them in two colours! (I know that’s breaking the rules of minimalism, but when you find something comfortable and classic it just makes sense…)

Day Five: 

What I wore: 

  • Purple cardigan
  • Blue vest top
  • Blue jeans
  • Brown slide sandals

How I felt:

I can’t believe it’s the half-way point of the challenge, the week has flown by and i’ve enjoyed every outfit so far.

Dress down Fridays at work are always a tricky affair. I was hesitant about including the vest top at first as I feel it’s a bit low cut for the workplace, but a good plain vest is a good staple for layering and an important basic to have, added to the fact most of the team aren’t in and I work reduced hours on a Friday I went for it. I teamed it with a pair of straight leg jeans, with the cuffs rolled up to expose a bit of ankle – which is how I like to wear my jeans. I have very long legs and breaking up the line of the jeans and flashing the ankle is nice and relaxed. I was very conscious of how low the vest was, but otherwise I really enjoyed this look – and once I was out of work I didn’t care about the cut of the top anymore.

Day Six: 

What I wore:

  • Purple cardigan
  • Blue blouse
  • Black pencil skirt
  • Brown slide sandals

How I felt: 

The wash was not kind to my already suffering blouse. I almost considered swapping it out for another blue blouse I have, but I do really love this one and decided to make the challenge another excuse to wear it one last time. I don’t know why it has faded and bobbled the way it has, I’ve taken care of it and it’s not a special material. It was nice to mix up the blue of the blouse with the purple of the cardigan, I usually stick to what is safer – a blue cardigan with this blouse. I think i’ll try mixing colours up a bit more in the future as it can give a different look to an outfit.

Day Seven:

What I wore:

  • Blue, short sleeved sweater top
  • Slim fit black trousers
  • Multi-coloured loafers

How I felt: 

I couldn’t wait to put these trousers on again! And i really wanted to team them with the sweater top, as both were very slimming when worn separately. I felt great wearing them and much less self-conscious about the lack of a cover up top. Both are right up there with some of my favourite items.

Day Eight: 

What I wore:

  • Blue cardigan
  • Blue vest top
  • Black pencil skirt
  • Multi-coloured loafers

How I felt: 

Having been so scared of wearing the vest top to work on a casual Friday I went ahead and pushed myself further out of my comfort zone by wearing it in the middle of the week. I made sure to button up the cardigan so it was more like a blouse, but it didn’t completely hide the lower neckline, so I dithered that morning, wondering if it would be safer to change into one of the blouses. I was worried about the stares or people finding it inappropriate, but again no-one mentioned anything or appeared to notice. It’s not that I think the world revolves around me and everyone should have an opinion on what i’m wearing, but I work with a lot of men and I thought it might make them, or me, uncomfortable, I was pleasantly surprised to discover this was not the case and would consider wearing the buttoned up cardigan / vest top combo again potentially.

Day Nine: 

What I wore:

  • Flowery dress
  • Purple cardigan
  • Brown slide sandals

How I felt:

Having enjoyed the buttoned up cardigan as a blouse trick from the day before I decided to try it with the flowery dress as a sort of top / skirt looking combo. I tried with the blue cardigan I initially planned to wear, but once I got it on I felt it didn’t sit right with the length and cut of the dress. I tried with the purple cardigan and felt much better, although I didn’t feel it looked much like a skirt / top combo! Still very comfortable, if not a little chilly as the temperatures have dropped a couple of degrees over the last couple of days. I would wear this outfit again for sure, and if the weather was like it was on this day, i’d team it with my black tights and tan suede loafers.

Day Ten:

What I wore:

  • Purple cardigan
  • Multi-coloured blouse
  • Blue jeans
  • Brown slide sandals

How I felt:

I was so super comfy in this outfit. I really liked the way the blouse fits with jeans and a fitted cardigan, I much preferred this way of styling it to the way I had the previous week with a more formal skirt.With the cooler temperatures we’ve had at the end of this week this outfit was perfect, although I could have worn the loafers or considered swapping out the sandals for other shoes as it was raining the whole day!

Conclusions: 

I can’t believe the challenge went by so quickly! I really enjoyed myself, and learned a lot more about how clothes work and fit me and what styles i feel most comfortable in. I will definitely be recreating many of these looks, especially days 7, 9 and 10. I even found myself wearing a couple of the pieces at the weekend, which wasn’t even part of the challenge.

I’m already looking forward to the #fall10x10 (or #autumn10x10 if you’re a Brit like me!) as knitwear, woolly clothes and layering are some of my favourite clothing styles. Until then I will continue to work on what I feel the most comfortable in and getting pieces and outfits that flatter my shape.

The most important thing i’ll take away is that I don’t need to be afraid – of what other people think, or of how I feel. I know it’s a cliche but it really does make a difference if you carry yourself with confidence. I want to be confident, and i’m working on fitting into my body in a way that feels natural, but until then i’ll draw inspiration from the stylish, confident, daring, inspirational women (and men!) in the 10×10 world.

‘It Comes at Night’ – a review.

What: Film

Where: Bristol Watershed

When: Monday 10th July 2017, 20:30.

It Comes at Night (15)

Dir. Trey Edward Shults

Run time: 1hr 31mins

It’s been a long time since I have been to a cinema and seen a decent horror movie. The feeling that producers and directors have become lazy with the horror formula has been hard to shake and the endless prequels, sequels and reboots offer nothing new to an already saturated market.

Director Shults’ only other offering – ‘Krisha’ (2015) received mixed, but generally favourable views and also explores unusual family dynamics and one family member’s ability to affect those around them in powerful ways.

With only a very vague teaser and the word of my cinema-buddy, I went into the screen with no illusions, no preconceptions and, rarely for a modern cinema goer, having not seen all the jumpy shockers in the trailer.

‘It Comes at Night’ tells the story of Paul (Joel Edgerton) and Sarah (Carmen Ejogo). A couple barely surviving in an abandoned holiday home in the woods with their teenaged son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) in the aftermath of an unnamed viral event. One of the nice things about the film is that there is no explicit mention of where they are, or how long after the outbreak these events take place, which leaves the audience to form a picture of what has happened based on the interactions of the characters.

The family have fashioned a life for themselves and appear to have protected themselves well from the physical threat, however the mental and emotional strain is just starting to creep in. For Travis especially, the isolation and constant lack of answers are having a profound mental and emotional effect.

As they all struggle to cope with a traumatic event, each in their own way, their security is further threatened by the appearance of another human being, Will (Christopher Abbott). The build up to Will’s appearance is well paced and maintains a level of intensity which is carried right through even after the ‘reveal’. Paul is not afraid to take extreme action to protect his family from any contamination and is happy to leave the intruder gagged and bound outside for several days, in order to satisfy himself there is no threat of infection.

Will has to convince Paul, and the audience, that he means no harm and was simply trying to find water. The interaction between the pair is wonderfully human, and although very little is given away, the audience is able to grasp what is happening in the wider world.

What follows is a scene I feel is not required for the story development and feels a little bit like it has been put in for some obligatory jumpy scares. If i’m feeling generous I would also like to think it had been included to further demonstrate Paul’s state of mind and how willing he is to stay safe from infection at all costs. However it wasn’t really necessary.

With the two families now sharing living conditions, what follows is a demonstration of the newly emerging strain between Paul and Travis, Travis’ longing for a ‘normal’ way of life, and the fact he is not a child any more. His obvious interest in Will’s wife Kim (Riley Keough) is noticed by both Kim herself and Paul. With the two families now forced to co-habit, the dynamic that was previously established has shifted, and Paul is no longer the alpha male, having to share this responsibility with Will, increasingly feeling threatened that Travis is building a rapport with Will. It is eluded to that even before this event occurred, life for Travis and Sarah was probably closely controlled by Paul.

The building tension was both well maintained and realistic, with the scene where Paul and Will share a late night drink causing the audience to question what is truth and what the true motivation behind the uneasy coalition is. Whilst nothing is ever truly revealed, the audience certainly knows that there is something other than the story we have been presented with happening.

Meanwhile an increasingly distressed Travis isn’t sleeping and is being plagued by nightmares. He frequently roams the house, observing the interaction of the others through spying on them from the attic. During one of his late night wanders about the house, he discovers Will and Kim’s child Andrew asleep in another room. After helping him back to bed, Travis continues his patrol, discovering the front door open and hearing noises in the porch.

After frantically alerting the house, Paul and Will discover Stanley, the family dog, and last of Travis’ companions has contracted the virus and is in a bad way, leaving Travis further distraught. As the two families discuss what happened to Stanley, Travis maintains the door was already open and suggests Andrew may have accidentally opened it, as he had sleepwalked into another room. Instantly Paul is convinced Andrew is now sick with the virus and suggests the two families stay apart for a few days.

When it becomes clear that Andrew is likely to be sick, Travis realises his contact with the child has put him in danger. What follows is a shocking showdown and revelation that I will not detail here as I don’t wish to give away too much.

The film is well paced and there are no points where I felt the story went too far off course, although I did struggle a little bit with understanding how Andrew may have contracted the virus – I presume his potential interaction with dog if he managed to open the door whilst sleepwalking.

The lighting is excellent for a film set in dark woodlands, a poorly lit and boarded up house. There is always the risk that much of the action is missed as it is too dark, however the use of halogen camping lamps and rifle sights is inspired. Often there is a reliance on frightening the audience with what they can’t see and this didn’t happen here, with tension and implied threat doing the work.

I thoroughly enjoyed Joel Edgerton’s performance, and found his and Kelvin Harrison Jr’s onscreen relationship natural. I struggled to see the point of Riley Keough’s character, Kim and somehow couldn’t be fully taken in with her relationship with her son Andrew. The focus of the film is firmly on the male dynamic, with the women providing emotional support and I felt Carmen Ejogo provided empathy and loyalty.

I have read other reviews, and even an interview with the director, which make parallels to George A. Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968) and I can definitely see why this comparison would be made, going beyond the obvious race casting. The horror in ‘It Comes at Night’ is much more subtle, but the terror of strangers being cooped up in a house together, fighting an unknown threat runs through both films and a tried and tested way of ramping up tension

I do understand that many people were disappointed as they went to the cinema expecting to see a gory horror, with all the usual scares and gratuitous violence, but for those that like their horror a little more grown-up and closer to home, this eerie, slow burning dissection of what can happen to ‘the good guy’ if put under enough fear and pressure is perfect.

With a cast of 9 (if you count the dog), an atmospheric location and a very complimentary soundtrack, this film shows how to create tension and claustrophobia, without having to pander to preconceived ideals. This gem of a film has rewritten the viral outbreak genre.

And remember kids, there’s nothing to fear, but fear itself…

Characters: 5/5

Storyline: 4/5

Soundtrack: 5/5

Suspense / tension: 4/5

Overall: 4/5

 

 

 

Bristol Minimalist

Hello!

I’m not really sure how you’re supposed to start one of these things. I think i’m supposed to introduce myself, list all of my likes and dislikes and then never post another entry again!

The purpose of this blog is to get me into the habit of regular writing, to share my views on topics such as minimalism, bullet journaling and intentional living along with reviews on books and films. I’m sure i’ll also ramble on about general nonsense and bemoan my skills (or unfortunate lack thereof) in the garden.

My relationship with ‘stuff’ has always been very conflicted. Growing up my room was full of stuff, even as an only child I managed to end up with a phenomenal amount of hand-me-downs, often that weren’t my style or didn’t fit me. My Father is one of a long line of collectors and my Mother has always been extremely materialistic, so there was always a lot of papers, cards and assorted trinkets and novelties cluttering every surface of our house. I was bought up to think items were a way of showing affection, in a house where actual affection wasn’t readily available. I also attached a lot of guilt to getting rid of anything that was gifted to me. When I moved out I took a good deal of things with me, and being in full control of my finances for the first time, I spent a lot of money shopping. A few years ago, I started thinking about moving out of the rented accommodation I had been in for the best part of a decade. I realised that the task would be huge, as I had managed to fill up most spaces in the shared house. I wasn’t even sure what everything was, so it was obvious that they were surplus to requirement. I became obsessed with the idea of being ready to pack up and leave at a moments notice (even though I had no reason to) and began to get rid of everything I could lay my hands on.  Whilst at this stage the process wasn’t intentional or recognised, the feeling of relief as each bag went to charity or in the bin was huge and spurred me on to get rid of even more! Before I knew it, everything I owned fit into my bedroom and I haven’t looked back.

I have since moved into a 3 bedroom house of my own. My possessions would still neatly fit into one of our rooms on their own – I suppose it’s a good thing my partner is decidedly not a minimalist and has enough possessions to fill the rest of the spaces.

Some of the things I want to post about include, how did I decide what to keep and what to get rid of, how did I deal with getting rid of things that had been gifted to me, how do I deal with my Partner’s stuff, what I do own and why plus many more topics.