What I’ve learnt in the last year

This isn’t a post about me learning a language in lockdown, baking a tonne of banana bread or undergoing a major body transformation. On the contrary it’s about the struggle I think we’ve all felt during the last year since lockdown was announced in 2020.

To be honest 2020 started well for me. We’d just moved into our new home in December 2019 and it was in my plans to spend time getting the house exactly as we wanted it, little did I know we would be spending more time at home than usual!

Getting the keys to our house on the 20th December 2019

The first time I remember any mention of a virus was around the end of January and to be honest it sounded like things were so far away from us in the UK it wasn’t going to be a problem here.

How wrong can you be?

I’m incredibly blessed to be healthy and have a home and a family I love. But it doesn’t mean I’ve had an easy ride during this time. Much of the social media posts I read implore us to be kind to one another but often times it seems we forget that each person’s situation is unique. I’m not blind to the fact that many people, including those in my personal circle, have been made redundant, actually had COVID and been suffering with ill health and not been able to get the treatment they needed. And of course not forgetting the lives that have been lost both here in the UK and around the world due to this virus.

Like everybody our family has been through one of the strangest times we have ever and probably will ever experience in our lifetime. So as I mentioned earlier I’m not going to wax lyrical and say I’ve baked banana bread, tie dyed my clothes or had some kind of amazing body transformation. I’ve done nothing of the sort! It’s been bloody hard. Working a full time job and homeschooling a six year old is not something I’ve enjoyed. Splitting my time has never been more demanding and difficult as well as both physically and mentally draining.

Found objects collage became a thing as we’d pick things up on our walks!

Don’t get me wrong Homeschool was incredibly rewarding when we had those ‘a-ha!’ moments with Daniel and he just ‘got it’. But equally frustrating for us both when I had to split myself in two and try to set him off with a task while I got some work done. I know it was difficult for him to understand and it’s the hardest thing about the pandemic for me the guilt I’ve felt at being at not being able to give enough attention during those times. I have always had the greatest admiration for teachers and am so grateful to our school for their support.

The hardest part of it all for me was when I realised I was experiencing burnout. After going through first the lockdown, then a bereavement, caring for our family, a redundancy consultation, psoriasis flare up and homeschool by the time September came around and things started to look a bit brighter I was just exhausted. Keeping all the plates spinning is hard at the best of times but to be honest I just couldn’t wind down. Again I know I am incredibly lucky as I didn’t end up being made redundant and I wasn’t furloughed as many others in my sector were.

So what did I learn during this time? Well, the biggest thing for me was that it’s ok to say NO! It’s ok to ask for help. And it’s ok to feel the way I did. I was trying to push through getting irritable, not sleeping well and never feeling like I’d accomplished anything. But as soon as I started to realise how it was affecting everything around me I knew I had to get some support.

So I did a short counselling workshop over the phone after being referred by my GP. I had reservations- what was this stranger on the phone going to think of me? Would they think I was ungrateful for my blessings , they must have clients with much bigger problems. I shouldn’t waste their time.

The first session I had is one I will never forget. They asked me why I was seeking help and what I wanted to achieve. I blurted out a lot of the things I just mentioned above, apologised as I am sure you’ve got clients much more important than me and said I just wanted to be happier.

The first words I heard were, “you’re going through an awful lot there in one go. It’s not surprising that you are finding things hard right now.”

Just hearing this stranger tell me that it was ok to be overwhelmed and ok to be there getting support was a weight lifted. Over the weeks I worked on various things and put different techniques into practice, something I am still doing, in order to make sure I am happy. Not just for myself but for my family who were the best support system I could’ve asked for. The best advice my counsellor gave me about worrying was this.

Will it matter tomorrow?

I was constantly worrying about every little thing but not focusing in the present. Now I take a step back when that thinking comes forward and give myself some breathing space because most of the time it doesn’t matter. You need to allow yourself to make mistakes, pick yourself back up and carry on.

Ultimately I’m so proud of the way we as a family have handled things. When the going got tough we pulled together and made the best of it. And as we head toward the future and lockdown is lifting slowly I know that if we can get through this we can get through anything.

Lockdown Partying with my boys !

If you are struggling with any of the issues I mentioned please consider seeking support from a healthcare professional you trust like your GP. You can also call the Samaritans who were recommended to me by my counsellor if I ever felt I needed to talk. Call 116 123 for free or visit their website for more information on services they can provide.

Lookfantastic January 2021

Lookfantastic have had a mini makeover with a fresh look to the magazine in the box and packaging. I especially liked that the theme this month was Restoration, as I think after 2020 we could all use some of that! Instead of focusing on a new year, new me angle the focus is on products to make us feel confident, and give a moment of escape from the stresses of the world, and there are lots right now!

So first we have a hand mask! Something a bit different, I’ve tried one of these before from Seoulista and really liked it as it made my skin so soft and this was the same. Basically it’s a set of serum infused gloves that you place your hands in and then fasten the tabs around your wrist to keep in place. You leave it on for about 15 mins and then just massage any remaining serum into your hands. It’s like having a mini spa treatment at home and my hands really needed some tlc after all the cold weather we’ve been having! These are from Starskin and have Shea butter, goji Berry and macadamia nut and olive oil so smell amazing too.

Starskin Nourishing Hand Mask gloves £8.50

Next is a product from SVR which is a french brand. I’d not heard of this brand before but I was interested to try it and see if it’s a good moisturiser. It’s a face moisturiser for very dry and sensitive skin, so far so good! It can be used day and night and is a really nice texture. I’ve used it for a few days and it hasn’t irritated my skin at all and it really does help with any dry patches you might have.

SVR Intense Moisturising Cream £15

I do love a good hair mask and this one from Intelligent Haircare is an overnight one. It’s a deluxe mini size so if you’ve got long hair like me you’d only get one use out of this, shorter styles you’d likely get two maybe three. It’s a vegan formula and also free from parabens, sulphates and silicones- basically all the nasties you don’t want on your hair! Really easy to use, just run it through your hair and scalp and then tie it up. In the morning rinse and shampoo/condition as normal. This is a really lovely formula and my hair felt great afterward, it’s a bit messy and will leave your pillowcase messy but as you’d probably not do this often then I’d say it was worth the trouble.

Deluxe sample size (full size is 200ml and costs £25)

I got a few of these for Christmas and a blending sponge is always a welcome addition in subscription boxes for me. This is an eco friendly makeup sponge. These are great for applying liquid or cream face products and best used damp so it doesn’t absorb all your products.

So Eco Complexion sponge £6

I really like these lipsticks from Sleek and this is the shade Hellacious , a sort of autumnal brown with an orange hint. It’s a matte finish and lasts for ages.

Sleek Matte Me lip cream in shade Hellacious £4.99

Finally we have the Dr Botanicals cleansing bar in avocado and cucumber. I could smell this when I first opened the box and it is so lovely and fresh. You can use it on face and body and it has antibacterial properties to cleanse and purify your skin.

Dr Botanicals Cleansing Bar £19

So altogether this months box has a value of £53.49 !

Lookfantastic have a range of subscriptions available here . I’m currently subscribed on a monthly basis and pay £15 inc postage and packaging for my box. If you got this box what did you think?

For me it’s a great box, I know I will use everything and it’s really nice to get some different items like the hand mask and very fitting for this time of year!

Lookfantastic December 2020

This months theme is of course, Christmas ! With a range of products to give you a lovely glow and bit of glitz this December. I love the gold and black box design it looks so elegant and chic!

First is a Percy and Reed hairspray which has anti-humidity properties but will also keep your hair in place all day. I love Percy and Reed they are fab products and their Wonderbalm is amazing if you have thick dry hair like mine. This is a 50ml size and costs £6.

Percy & Reed Hairspray £6 for 50ml

Next is a Brushwork’s Double ended eyeshadow brush. One end is a shader and the other is an eyeliner brush. This will be perfect for whenever we are allowed to begin travelling again! It feels really nice quality and as always I do like getting brushes in my subscription boxes to build up my collection. This is £3.99 to purchase.

Brushworks double ended eyeshadow brush £3.99

I really love this next product from Jecca Blac , this is their Champagne Glow Drops which is a highlighting primer. I got a different shade of this in a Glossybox and really liked it. This one is perfect for winter time with a subtle gold shimmer. I either wear underneath my foundation or you can also dab on top of your base with a beauty blender for a more noticeable glow. This is £16 if you were to purchase it.

Jecca Blac Glow Drops in the shade Champagne £16

Also in this months box is this cute little The Balm Petal to the Metal cream eyeshadow single. Mine is a really nice bronze shade which is a lovely creamy formula so I think this will blend nicely. I was never a fan of liquid or cream shadows as I wasn’t sure how to use them! Now I’ve had a few and played around with them I really like using them to add some different texture and dimension to my eyeshadow.

Ren is not a brand I have tried before and this product is an Atlantic Kelp body lotion made with sustainably sourced ingredients. It smells amazing and fresh, a nice size to get a decent trial of it too.

Lastly is our sneak peek from last month Avant Pro Radiance Brightening Eye Final Touch. This is a really lovely eye cream , Avant is always a fab one to get in these boxes. I’m really being vigilant in using eye creams now that I’m getting older and trying to keep my skin as good as possible so this is great for me , especially as it says it tries to tackle dark circles.

If you got this box what did you think?

Lookfantastic have a range of subscriptions available here . I’m currently subscribed on a monthly basis and pay £15 inc postage and packaging for my box.

ASOS Winter Glam December 2020

The ASOS December box hasn’t disappointed with 5 fab goodies to get us glammed up for winter! If you’ve not got one of these boxes before, it’s not a subscription. They just appear each month on the ASOS website and you can see the full contents before you purchase. The boxes are normally around £12 but special editions and collaborations are normally £15-18. So I’ll dive in and show you the gorgeous products we got this time.

Winter glam box £12

First is this beautiful Revolution Pro Ultimate Eye look palette called So Jaded. It’s got four shades with green being the main colour, a matte cream and a gold shade. The palette itself is bejewelled and would look amazing sitting out on a dressing table. The shades are really easy to blend and you could create such a nice smoky eye – I’m excited to play around with this and it’s a fab inclusion in the box.

Next is a mini Bare Minerals Lipstick in the shade Courage which is a really nice warm toned red – who doesn’t love a bit of red at Christmas??

Next two lash products to keep those peepers fluttering! First is the Smashbox Superfan mascara. I’ve had this before in a box and it’s a nice mascara, this is a travel size and it lasted quite a while when I had it before.

Next is a set of false eyelashes from Prima Lash to give some extra glam and volume. These look like a nice set of lashes, there’s no glue but that doesn’t bother me as I usually have some kicking around!

Prima Lash Dainty Lashes £7

Last is a Real Techniques Miracle Complexion sponge , I use these a lot to blend out foundation and concealer so this is another win for me!

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge £4.99

So although I can’t really calculate the cost of the mascara and lipstick, with the full size items we can get a cost for they total £21.99 making it really great value.

What do you all think is this a box you’d enjoy? It makes a really great Christmas gift especially if you are in a secret Santa or something similar.

Advent is getting expensive!

So December the first is upon us and it’s time for those advent calendars to start being opened.

Advent is getting more and more luxurious and expensive as it’s not just your basic chocolate advent calendar that’s available. Everything from beauty and makeup to gin, cheese and Lego, you can pretty much get anything you want in an advent calendar!

This year I went for Glossybox , which is the calendar I got last year, and the ASOS Face and Body advent calendars. The main reason I got them is because of the quality of the products and value for money. I saved 20% on my ASOS calendar and with Glossybox you get a subscriber discount and can also use your Glossycredit which is credit you build up on Glossybox for completing monthly surveys.

Day 1 of the Glossybox advent calendar 2020

Did you get an advent calendar this year? If so would love to know what you went for!

ASOS Face and Body advent calendar Day 1

I’ll be unboxing these everyday on my Instagram page @vanessakay84 if you want to follow along!

Glossybox November 2020

Makeup and Magic is the theme this month with glitter, shimmer and magic products to keep us looking glam this November. Even though we are locked down in the UK right now it’s a fab time to play around with new looks and I love when my subscription boxes arrive each month!

Makeup and Magic Glossybox November 2020

First we have a beautiful eyeshadow palette from L.A Splash which fits perfectly with the magic theme right down to the packaging. There are 8 shades in the palette 3 shimmers and 5 mattes. They are a lovely autumnal mix of shades and are really highly pigmented. This is my standout product from the box and one I know I will get a lot of use from. This is a full size and it will be perfect for if we ever get back to travelling as it’s also got a little mirror included.

Paired perfectly with the eyeshadow palette is the Spectrum blender brush. I really love getting nice brushes and I’ve built up a good collection now from these boxes! This is perfect for working shadow into the crease of your eye and matches the colour scheme of the palette with gold and black.

Next up is a Que Bella mask and this one is Moonstone Recharge and Restore Glitter Mask. We had one of these in a box previously but I got a gold one so I’m pleased to get a different one. This one is designed to give you radiant glowing skin and help your skin feel brighter. I love the little bits of shimmer in it too makes it feel so cute!

Que Bella Professional Purple Moonstone Glitter Gel Mask £2.49

The next item is a replacement, it was meant to be a Mudmasky Autumn Mask but instead we have been given Generation Clay Ultra-Violet Brightening Purple Clay Mask, worth £19.50. I know I’ve complained about product changes before but I am not bothered about this one, mainly because it’s a similar product and it’s a relatively similar price. It’s a brightening purple clay mask with Australian Davidson plum (a natural super fruit that gently acts like an exfoliating acid), it will transform your appearance by rejuvenating dull, tired skin, and lightening dark circles and pigmentation. Definitely everything I’d want in a face mask!

Generation Clay Brightening Purple Clay Mask £19.50

Lastly a favourite of mine and a regular in beauty boxes Hask Argan Oil Repairing Deep Conditioner. I really love these masks as my hair has a tendency to get really dry and frizzy. The Argan oil one is a favourite, firstly it smells incredible and secondly it only takes 10 minutes to work which means you can apply in the shower. I usually pick these up on my weekly shop as they are available in most supermarkets and pharmacies.

Hask Argan Oil Deep Conditioner £2

Decembers sneak peek is is an Overnight Eye Serum by Symbiosis, eye serums and creams are always a welcome addition for me and I love to try new ones so I am looking forward to that.

Decembers sneak peek worth £102 !

If you got this months box what did you think? My favourite item is definitely the eyeshadow and brush! I will definitely get use out of everything as I really love my face masks and hair masks!

Total value of this months box is £60.98 which is so great and especially as I know I will get so much use out of everything. I said last months box was my favourite of the year but I think this is a hot contender! I have a yearly subscription to Glossybox which costs 11.75 per month including postage and packaging. There are loads of different options if you wanted to sign up from a monthly rolling subscription to 3, 6 and 12 month plans like the one I do. I do have a referral code if you click here which will get you 20% off your first box.

Lookfantastic November 2020

This month Lookfantastic have a ‘Firecracker’ theme, perfect as the dark nights start to draw in! I love the quote inside the box lid pictured below.

There are 6 products this month and also a little extra treat in the form of a Jimmy Choo perfume sample.

First is a Philip Kingsley Pure Colour Frizz Fighting gloss. I’ve used a couple of Philip Kingsley products before and really like this one. You apply to your hair when towel dried and it acts as a heat protector as well as maintaining your colour.

Next is This Works Perfect Legs Skin Miracle. This is a tinted serum to give you a little glow to your legs or anywhere else on the body you want to add a little hint of colour to. This is probably not one for me as anything tinted like this tends to stick to my psoriasis.

I was so pleased to get this next product as I had run out of my usual micellar water! This one is Polaar Ice Pure with artic cotton and is great at removing mascara! I tend to use micellar as my first cleanse and then follow up with a face wash before applying my skincare.

Naobay Detox Oxygen Light Cream was the sneak peek last month and is a day cream with green tea and aloe Vera to help protect the skin. I think this is a really lovely day cream and sits well under makeup as well.

Next is a Lord and Berry Eye pencil in a bronze shade, I really love the colour and it’s very creamy so blends out nicely. This will be fab for some autumnal bronze eyeshadow looks.

Finally this is my favourite item in the box, Nails Inc. Polish in the shade All Fired Up – Portland Square. It’s a orange toned red and ideal for the box firecracker theme. I really love Nails Inc polish and this colour is definitely one I might have chosen myself so i am really pleased.

All of the items this month seem to be on the smaller size and we didn’t get a price list in the booklet. However I still feel it’s good value for £15 inc postage as each item costs just £2.50. It’s like getting a little beauty pick and mix this month and I am not mad at it! The sneak peek for next month is an Avant eye cream, I love Avant products so I am sure this will be my favourite item in next month last box. Anything that aims to prevent wrinkles is definitely up my street!

If you got this box what did you think? Would you have preferred more full size items and less of the smaller ones?

Lookfantastic have a range of subscriptions available here . I’m currently subscribed on a monthly basis and pay £15 inc postage and packaging for my box.

ASOS Selfcare November 2020 Box

2020 has been a real write off! So ASOS have treated us to the ultimate selfcare box for November with everything needed to treat yourself because as they put it, staying in is the new going out!

ASOS Face and Body Box £12

If you haven’t had an ASOS box before they are released around the 2nd of each month and usually cost £12, plus postage. They are usually 5 products and can be sample / deluxe sample size or sometimes full sized items. They occasionally do collaborations with brands so previously these have included Pixi, Oaui, Deciem/ The Ordinary usually two – three times a year there is a collaboration box. There is no commitment and you just purchase as it becomes available on their website.

First up in the box we have the Sunday Rain Foaming Bubble Bar in Mango and Coconut. This smells incredible and was perfect for relaxing in the bath. I felt like it smells like a really incredible fruity cocktail!

Next is Rituals Jimg Body Scrub which is to calm your mind with the scent as well as being exfoliating for the skin. I really love Rituals products and I hadn’t tried this before so it’s nice to get a different range than I would normally buy.

The next item is one of my favourites for intense moisturising, Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask. This is super hydrating and perfect for the winter when I find my skin is dryer. It’s a thicker moisturiser style mask and my skin always feels so smooth and nourished after I use this.

The last two items are ones to help soothe and sleep, something I think lots of people have struggled with during the pandemic. First is Neom’s Perfect Nights Sleep Oil. You can apply this anywhere on the body and it works to soften your skin as well as helping aid relaxation for sleep. It smells so lovely and is a really soothing scent, like being in a spa.

Last is a product I’ve tried before and really enjoy, This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray. It’s a lavender and camomile spray to help you to ease gently off to sleep and it is something I have found helpful during the lockdowns and throughout in helping me with a better nights sleep.

Lots of deluxe mini sizes this month but still great value for just £12. This month there is a men’s grooming box available too which would be a fab Christmas present. Visit ASOS and search Beauty Box to find any of the boxes that are still available, because they are such great value they do tend to sell out quickly when released.

What do you guys think? Are these products you would enjoy ? Have you tried any of them before?

Code Beautiful

I’m really excited to write up this review about some great new beauty products I’ve just discovered and am loving. Code Beautiful has kindly gifted me four items which are perfect for getting you out the door in the morning and feeling amazing! Everything is cruelty free and vegan, and the whole purpose of their products is simply to enhance your natural beauty.

The Vibrancy Kit

First is the Code LLE (Lid Lift Enhance) , this is a 3 in 1 product which acts as a concealer, primer and eyeshadow. The main aim with this is to give you the ultimate antidote to tired eyes, and if you’re anything like me chasing after a 5 year old and working a full time job along with all of life’s day to day makes me tired!

Staying in the eye area next is the Code VLM (Volumising Lengthening Mascara) I have mentioned a lot over the past year about trying to find a mascara that I really love. One of my favourite things about this one is the formula doesn’t flake or irritate- a major consideration when you wear contact lenses like me! The other thing I love, aside from the fact it makes your lashes look amazing, is that it’s waterproof so no worries about panda eyes after a wet school run! It doesn’t clump and it’s buildable so if you just want a quick coat to add some definition and get out the door you can. But equally for more drama you can layer it up and have a really pretty look for a night out.

Finally we have two lip products both aimed at giving you a gorgeous natural pout. Code SSL (soft Smooth Lipliner) is a total gamechanger for me with lipliner! It is so incredibly soft and creamy, absolutely no dragging here! It is a really lovely nude shade and is infused with plumping ingredients as is the Code LIP Lipgloss. You can either literally just line your lips and use a lipstick or gloss to coordinate or because it’s so creamy you can fill in your whole lip and use like a lipstick. The packaging is great for being able to throw in your bag and it has a built in sharpener, because if you’re anything like me you constantly loose sharpeners.

CODE SSL £18

CODE LIP is an amazing lipgloss which hydrates and plumps lips with that amazing ingredient hyaluronic acid. I’ve used lip plumper lately before and lots of them use ingredients to make your lips swell and they are really irritating. This is so not like that! They recommend you use daily for at least two weeks to see a difference to your lips and it’s highly recommended from me, especially as the weather is getting colder. It is a sheer tinted formula which is a nude Rose and just highlights your natural lip colour. You can also layer over the top of Code SSL to further enhance your pout.

CODE LIP £20

The main thing I love about these products is its 4 steps that can get you out the door and just feeling more put together with a gorgeous natural look. Makeup can be quick and doesn’t always have to involve a million different products.

A finished look with all of the products

To find out more about Code Beautiful visit their website or find them on Instagram. You can check out more looks from me on Instagram too.

Glossybox Enchanted Spirit October 2020

October’s Glossybox is always a fab one and for once 2020 hasn’t disappointed us! 5 items in this gorgeous Enchanted Spirit themed box which I will definitely be keeping!

There were two versions of the box this month, Enchanted Spirit and Midnight Fantasy with little difference between the two apart from some shade and scent variations. Both boxes are designed beautifully to give you all the lotions and potions you need to transform this October, perfect for the spooky Halloween season!

First we have AHC Essential Eye Cream for Face. I was a little confused by the name of this and on reading the card it’s described as, “a face cream with all the benefits of a concentrated eye cream” It makes more sense on reading that which means it can just be used as an eye cream or you can use it all over the face in a thin layer for an extra moisture boost. This is a deluxe mini and worth £8.66. It’s a gel texture which I really like for a nightcream / eye cream and feels really nice on my skin. Will see what the effects are in the coming weeks!

Next is BubbleT with a Stardust foaming bath powder in Lavender. The Midnight Fantasy Box would have the rose scent. I’m so pleased I got the lavender one as I really don’t like strong rose scents ! This bubbles up so nicely in the bath and is a lovely calming scent before bed so definitely a winner! This is a full size worth £5.99.

Luna by Luna lipstick in the shade Pixie is our next product and it’s a really pretty red. I do love a nice red colour for the autumn months and this has a nice pink tone to it. This is full size and worth £15. It feels really nice on the lips and is pretty smooth to apply.

I haven’t tried this next product before and it has rave reviews so I’m excited to try the Illamasqua Hydra Veil Primer. This is a deluxe mini worth £10 and it’s billed as a part hydrator part primer. This feels really nice on the skin and has a clear gel texture, reminds me of the Smashbox Photo Finish primer. This is perfect for the colder weather as it says it works to maintain hydration in your skin.

Next is The Beauty Crop Stargazing blush duo in the shade Orion which has a bronze and a coral shade. I love that there are two shades in the compact, one matte and one with a light shimmer. You can wear them alone or layer the matte with the shimmer for a nice glow, they are really nicely pigmented. I will definitely get a lot of use out of this as I’ve just come to the end of a similar blush. This is a full size and is worth £18.

Last of all we had another little chocolate treat in the form of a Cadbury’s Dark Milk sample. If you’ve not tried Dark Milk before it’s meant to be a mix of dark and milk chocolate and it’s actually a favourite of mine. In my opinion it’s like a richer version of Dairy Milk and a less bitter version of a traditional dark chocolate. I love when we get little extras like this in the box!

Total value of this months box is £57.65 which is really great and especially as I know I will get so much use out of everything. It may well be one of my favourites from Glossybox this year! I have a yearly subscription to Glossybox which costs 11.75 per month. There are loads of different options if you wanted to sign up from a monthly rolling subscription to 3, 6 and 12 month plans like the one I do. I do have a referral code if you click here which will get you 20% off your first box.

The sneak peek for November looks exciting as it’s a eyeshadow palette from LASplash worth £29. It looks like a nice mix of autumn colours and having had a few products of theirs before I know they are really good.

Did you get this months Glossybox ? What did you think of the products this month?