Wednesday, 27 August 2014

cruelty free haircare to rival aussie

 hask repairing shampoo & conditioner: £4.50 each, available in primark

since giving up aussie shampoo and conditioner last october after choosing to only buy cruelty free cosmetics, finding some decent shampoo and conditioner has been something of a challenge for me. i've tried more expensive offerings from the body shop and cheaper own brand options from morrisons, aldi and superdrug, but nothing seemed to nourish and cleanse my hair like the aussie products did, until i stumbled across these products in primark one time. 

i was drawn in by the argan oil label on the bottle, and upon picking it up and inspecting the bottle i was delighted to read that the products aren't tested on animals, so i quickly popped the conditioner into my basket to try out. after having used the conditioner for a couple of weeks and being impressed, i also picked up the shampoo to try the two products together.

first up, these products smell incredible. they have a very strong citrus scent that reminds me of lemon sherbet sweets, making for a very enjoyable hair washing experience. previous shampoos i've used haven't lathered very well, and altogether it just felt like i was scraping the product through my hair rather than massaging it in, but this shampoo lathers up nicely and glides through your hair and washes out quickly and easily, making for a wash more like the aussie one i used to know and love. as for the conditioner, it's light, easy to work through your hair and just as easy to wash out, meaning there'll be no more awful left over conditioner in my hair for me to deal with! 

when my hair's dried after using these products, it has considerably more body than it did while i was using the body shop products, and it doesn't get as greasy as quickly, which is a blessing in itself. i found that after using the body shop products my hair was quite limp and almost greasy, but these products seem to have combatted that pretty well. if i were to criticise anything about these products, it would probably be that they don't leave my hair feeling quite as soft as aussie products used to. now, i'm not a haircare expert, but i have a suspicious that it could be the no parabens or sulfates that mean that i don't get quite a shiny finish, because apparently shampoos and conditioners containing them thinly coat your hair with plastic?! again, i'm no expert so i don't know how true any of this is, so please do feel free to tell me if i've been completely misled, haha! as always, if you know of any fantastic cruelty free hair care products, do feel free to drop me some suggestions down below!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

jurassic pjs

as a general rule, i steer clear of graphic print and slogan tees – they're mostly tacky and just not me at all – but when i walked past this jurassic park tee it haunted me for the next couple of weeks until i just had to head back to a primark to pick it up. of course i'll never be seen outside of the house in the tee because, let's face it, the neon floral print is hideous, but as huge jurassic park fan i knew that i wanted this tee in my wardrobe. why? i really couldn't tell you, but i had a massive internal itch that meant i just had to buy it. i opted for a very oversized size 16 and throw this on over a pair of pink pyjama shorts that i own for a pair of super comfy, super jurassic park fan pyjamas that satisfy my desire to own and wear the tee without having to embarrass myself by wearing it in the outside world. 

on sunday evening i heard the news that richard attenborough, the creator of jurassic park (well, at least in the films) had sadly passed away, so i'll be wearing these pjs in his memory over the next couple of days to celebrate the ups and downs that were the jurassic park trilogy, and the man in the films who gave us the opportunity to get up close and personal with the dinosaurs in his (mostly problematic) theme park. 

there have been rumours now of a fourth jurassic park for as long as i can remember, but i think that it may be final that the fourth instalment, jurassic world, is finally going to be with us in 2015! it's fair to say that i'll be straight to the cinema to experience the dinosaurs on the big screen, excited to see what the fourth film has to bring us (more cunning velociraptors, i hope!)

Monday, 25 August 2014

the cold shoulder

hat: h&m
chokers: lilac edge
dress: primark
faux leather gilet: primark
belt: asos
t-bar dr martens: ebay

i've dabbled in the cold shoulder dress a few times in the past, however it's never seemed to be a style i could get on with. when i laid eyes on this dress in primark, i knew i had to at least give it a go as it was up for grabs for a measly £8, and surprisingly it sat nicely on my shoulders rather than hanging too low and gaping like previous dresses had done. 

now i don't know if it's the intended length or because i'm a midget, but without a belt this dress sits just above the knee as more of a midi dress, so i decided to belt up and hitch the material up a little for a more flattering fit for my 5'2 self, and i think it looks pretty decent. teamed with my faux leather gilet (that i haven't taken off this summer) and t-bar docs, i think the tie dye and nude colours of the dress work really well with the block blacks of the gilet, shoes and hat. i think the dress itself is pretty versatile in that it could be worn more casually as i chose to this time, or dressed up a little more with some chunky heels and silver accessories. for £8, i think it was a decent little find!

sunday synopsis

a very late post this evening, but it's because i've spent the evening giving my social media accounts a complete overhaul! i started with my blog, moved onto my twitter, have made a start on my portfolio and plan to finish that as well as my tumblr account tomorrow. i'm still a little unsure about how i feel about the new design, but i thought i'd stick with it for a while to see how i adjust to it – sometimes a fresh set of eyes can see a piece of work in a whole new light! regardless of how i may or may not feel tomorrow, i think a redesign was overdue for my online presence to try and create some kind of consistency between my various platforms so it can start to look a little bit more professional. for now my eyes hurt an awful lot, so i'm going to call it a night and give my eyes some well deserved rest! 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

saturday scribbles

so last week's saturday scribbles showed the beginnings of a commission i was working on, and this saturday i'm here to show you the finished designs! i was commissioned again by francesca from thefrancescadiaries to create a new blog header, button and youtube header for her, and although it's very different to my usual work, it was satisfying to come away from that for a little while and work on something a little bit more design based for a change, because, as we all know, i am a terrible designer. 

i had lots of fun drawing the different makeup bits and pieces, and am particularly happy with the patterns that i made using them – they just seemed to slot together so well! overall i'm pretty happy with the work i produced for her, but if i had to choose a favourite i think it'd be the youtube banner because i think the colour scheme works well and the composition ended up working pretty well in the end despite the awkward youtube header dimensions! 

if you'd like to see the designs up and running, you can visit francesca's blog and her youtube

Friday, 22 August 2014

moving into your student house: tips & advice

if you're a regular reader of my blog, you might remember a sunday synopsis post at the beginning of the month where i spoke about how my second year landlord was wanting to deduct £120 of my £200 bond, and within it i said that i'd eventually write up a post regarding the situation and its outcome, and here i am, almost a month after i first received that gut-wrenching email, letting you know that all ended well and i'm here to share a few words in regards to how you as a student could either avoid this situation altogether, or work towards rectifying it if you should find yourself in a similar situation to mine. 

so, to summarise, me and my housemate spent 6 hours cleaning our house thoroughly to then incur charges for a full kitchen and bathroom clean, replacement of the microwave which was already rusted upon our arrival, and, for me, the cherry on the top was a charge for a new mattress for a stain that i was never aware of throughout my tenancy because it was on the reverse side of the mattress, and of course i never had a reason to flip the mattress over to discover it. all of this meant that the landlord was wanting to deduct more than 50% of my bond, which was blatantly unfair as the only thing me and my friend did not do was defrost the freezer or pull all of the furniture out within the house to clean behind it, and because we were being charged for issues that existed previous to our tenancy. 

yesterday, after almost a month of fighting my corner and refusing to back down, i received an email to let me know that the landlord was willing to waver all the unfair fees, leaving me with only a £30 charge. of course that charge still seemed a bit steep considering what we didn't do, but it was a damn sight better than £120 and a clear success on mine and my housemates' behalf for sticking to our guns and knowing our rights, so below i've compiled some of my top tips for dealing with greedy landlords:

  1. upon arrival, document issues with someone from the companywhen you move into your house, there's a chance that you may move in with somebody from the letting agency present to take notes of issues, so do make the most of that. as a naive first time student tenant, i didn't make the most of this and, of course, i regret it badly. check everything together: your mattress, inside of drawers and wardrobes, carpets, state of the walls, and anything else you can think of, and then ensure that the person takes notes of it so there is physical evidence that these issues existed upon your arrival.

  2. photograph everything
    once you know physical notes have been taken, make sure you photograph all of the issues that exist with time and date stamps on them (just in case anything was to then happen to those notes), and if you want to cover your back all the more so, just photograph everything that you think a landlord could try and charge you for unfairly. if you're like i was you'll probably think "oh well of course they won't try to charge me unfairly," but i learnt the hard way that, actually, your landlord might not be a decent, fair human being who won't try to unjustly take your money to more than likely pay for their summer holiday.

  3. document issues physically
    there were a couple of occasions where we either phoned up, went into the office or spoke to a company member while at our house about issues that needed to be resolved, yet when these issues were brought up regarding our bond, they were dismissed because there was no physical evidence that the issues had been reported. my advice for this would be to make your landlord/letting agency aware of any issues by email, because that way not only does the evidence exist physically, but it exists within your email account as well as theirs, thus giving you quick, direct access to the information if you should need it.

  4. know your rights
    my advice here reflects my own situation, however i'm hoping that it could be broad enough to cover a variety of situations. basically, my bond was being held by a deposit scheme, the DPS to be exact, so when issues arose regarding the return of my bond, my first thought was to head straight to the website to read up about how to deal with difficult landlords. very quickly i found this document that basically informed me that the company and landlord were unfairly charging me for a variety of a reasons, so i then had a lot of ammunition to take into argument when discussing why the charges were unfair and i was under no obligation to pay them. if your money is being held in a deposit scheme, i'd recommend that you check out the company's website, and if not, i think the information in the DPS document would still apply to you to use as a representation of your rights as a tenant anyway: the bottom line is that the money is yours, and your landlord does not have the right to take it from you unfairly.

  5. stand your ground
    after many angry phone calls and emails detailing my rights as a tenant, the letting agency finally agreed to get in touch with the landlord to negotiate a lower bond fee. after a week of awaiting the landlord's response, the letting agency got in touch to tell us that he wasn't willing to lower it. within the DPS document it states that tenants have the right to discuss issues directly with their landlord, so from this i then asked for his details to contact him personally, to which the letting agency told me they couldn't give me his details, but said they'd ask him to again compromise. three hours after receiving this email, i then received another to let me know that he'd compromised and lowered our bond fee to £30 – success! it really goes to show that putting up a fight and sticking to your guns when you know your rights pays off; knowledge is power.

it honestly winds me up to know that letting agencies can get away with such disgusting fees because the majority of students will simply roll over and take them, for whatever reasons. as a student, i really couldn't afford to lose that money, and it baffles me to think that others would willing lose it unfairly simply because they may feel dismissed, uninformed, or down right bullied, as i feel the letting agency was trying to do to us at points within the process. it's unacceptable that a company can deal with things so dishonestly and unprofessionally when they themselves should understand that the financial situation of most students isn't fantastic.

so, there we have it, a fight i ended up winning. i do hope that if you're moving into student housing yourself that this has helped you out or at least opened your eyes a little bit to the possibility of a difficult landlord, because i know now that i'd have loved to have read something like this before naively moving into my house happily last september. if you have any other questions regarding this issue, do feel free to comment below or email and i'll get back to you with any help that i can offer!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

b. refined exfoliating cleanser

when i first squeezed this product out of the tube, i must admit i wasn't particularly looking forward to using it; it has something of a smooth, milky consistency with tiny exfoliating beads through it, so after having used my somewhat harsh lush dark angels cleanser for such a long time, i wasn't expecting this cleanser to do all that much for my skin, but boy, was i wrong.

i've been using this cleanser now for around two months, and while it's quite a dramatic change from dark angels, my skin certainly hasn't suffered because of it and behaves pretty much the same as it did before its entrance into my skincare routine, however i think i just might prefer this cleansing option. while dark angels was fairly abrasive and smelt fantastic, it did leave something of a mess in the sink and i'm not a huge fan of the lush tub packaging; it's just a bit of a faff, isn't it? this b cleanser on the other hand is easy to squeeze out and shove back onto your shelf and doesn't leave your sink looking grim, but it doesn't have the aniseed scent that i love so dearly about dark angels. instead, it smells somewhat clinical like a lot of high street moisturisers do, if you have any idea what i mean.

while i thought that the less abrasive texture of this cleanser would put me off it, i've actually quite been enjoying a less abrasive cleanse, especially when it offers the exact same benefits that dark angels did. with this product having a mostly milky consistency with a very gentle exfoliating quality, it means that i can really go to town with scrubbing deep into my pores without doing more harm than good, which is fantastic for me because i love to rub all around my face, particularly my chin, in small circular motions to really try and draw those nasty blackheads out. when washed off, my face then feels really smooth, fresh and plump without feeling tight and dehydrated.

if i were to stand this product off against dark angels, i think this would probably win. it's better value for money (and even more so when there's a 50% off offer on!) and i'm expecting it to last much longer than dark angels (those pesky short use by dates!) so for a product that does just as good a job as dark angels for a more budget friendly price, i think there's one clear winner. the next time i pop into superdrug and catch these at half price, i'll definitely be stocking up!