9 Oct 2017

Undoubtedly a brand who have made their mark on the skincare world over the last twelve months, The Ordinary, and their highly-coveted line of products, have achieved cult status for a number of reasons. Their products are effective; simple and ingredient-focused formulas allow prices to remain low, and products aren't clouded with overwhelming marketing gimmicks - honesty and clarity stand at the heart of the brand. 

The Ordinary remain part of umbrella brand Deciem, alongside NIOD and Hylamide. The line is noticeably more affordable than that of sister brands, yet without falling behind on performance. All products are free from parabens and sulfates (preservatives linked to cancers), mineral oils (comedogenic), and animal oils, as well as openly abstaining from animal testing. 

The Ordinary are a breath of fresh air in an overwhelming world of serums and potions. However, the informative labels can seem unfamiliar at first. To point newbies in the right direction, here's a fairly detailed breakdown of my faves from the brand.

Salicyclic Acid 2% Solution

It's a beta-hydroxy acid, a keratolytic, comedolytic and bacteriostatic agent. This essentially means that salicyclic acid causes shedding of the outer-layer of skin - it exfoliates, and it fights blemishes. It's incredibly effective because of its chemical structure: two hydroxy molecules are separated by two carbon atoms, which makes salicyclic acid oil soluble. Oil soluble substances can penetrate the skin easily, and target deeper layers of congestion. 

Use it after you've cleansed and (if you do) toned, but before any heavier creams or oils. You could dot it onto any blemishes for a targeted treatment, or apply a small amount all over for generally improved skin clarity. 

Notes - salicyclic acid can be drying, so avoid applying to the entire face if your skin is already dry or dehydrated. 

Lactic Acid 5% and HA 2%

Lactic acid, the stuff that makes your legs hurt after a run, is p. good for your face. It's an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), so essentially breaks down the sort of 'glue' that holds onto your old, dull skin cells, alongside mildly exfoliating. The Ordinary's solution also contains Tasmanian pepperberry, which works to reduce inflammation and skin sensitivity. Using this product will result in improved skin texture, as well as reduced breakouts. 

You can apply this to your face daily if you're an experienced acid user (!), but if you're new to AHA's, try every other day at first. Use it in the evenings, all over the face, before night-time moisturiser. The Ordinary's website recommends diluting it to begin with. 

Notes - AHA's can increase skin sensitivity to the sun, so apply this in the evening, rather than at the beginning of a day. Always protect your skin with an SPF; try to find a primer or tinted moisturiser that offers some sort of sun-protection. 

AHA 30% and BHA 2% Peeling Solution 

If the name of this one doesn't freak you out, the colour certainly will. A '10-minute exfoliating facial' utilises the following AHA's: glycolic acid, lactic acid, tartaric acid, citric acid. On top of that, salicyclic acid is in there too, 'cos why not? Like we've previously touched on, the salicyclic acid (BHA) in this allows it to penetrate the surface of the skin to provide a slightly deeper exfoliation, this means a brighter and more even skin tone, as well as reduced congestion. It's essentially a [more] powerful mixture of the two products above. 

Not to be messed with, you can use this as a mask, but no more than twice per week - especially if, like me, you incorporate milder acids into your daily skincare routine. Wash an thoroughly dry face, apply a thin layer over the face. After no more than 10 minutes, rinse away with warm water. 

Notes - This is a formula containing very high concentrations of direct acids, don't make this the first thing you try from the brand. It also smells quite weird, btw.

High-Adherence Silicone Primer 

The formula for this super sticky (in a good way) primer uses adaptive silicones that sit on the surface of the skin, creating a smooth surface for makeup to be applied to. It hydrates, it mattifies, and it blurs imperfections. Foundation looks better, and it stays around longer, too.

Use this as the final step in your skincare routine, before makeup application. It can also be worn alone, for naturally enhanced skin and less shine. 

Notes - Silicone has been known to cause breakouts, but that shouldn't be a problem if you cleanse at the end of the day.

100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rosehip Seed Oil

Literally just rosehip seed oil, but it's unrefined, so it's super rich in linoleic acid, linolenic acid (both are hydrating and assist in healing skin), and vitamin A. It works to correct dark spots, it hydrates skin, it reduces irriations, fights against scarring, and helps to prevent fine lines. There's honestly no downside to using rosehip oil, and it's suitable for all skin types. 

Apply it once daily, all over the face, probably after all those acids! My skin can be oily during the day, so I prefer to apply it before bed.

Next on my The Ordinary to-buy list: Glycolic Toning Solution and the Serum Foundation. If only they weren't constantly sold out!


18 Sep 2017

Widely used as a feature of symbolism in literature, the colour red has captivated for years. Its historical fascination transcends popular culture, as well as the natural world, and perhaps the allure relates to the colours dual identity. While it has often been a symbol of fertility, love, and lust (The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood), red is also regularly associated with danger, anger, and sin (The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne). 

Flashback to February of this year, and New York fashion week pronounced red to be the colour of A/W 2017. Seven months later, and the temperature is undeniably dropping - so how will you be wearing the most conspicuous colour of the season?

Hoodie and bra: both Weekday

1. Tonal Blocking

Obviously, red is about being seen, and there's nothing that will smack people in the face like a head-to-toe outfit in one colour. Not for the faint-hearted, committing to this bold look is v. brave. Take advice from Pandora Sykes in this Man Repeller feature, and make sure one item you're wearing doesn't match. It'll break apart the outfit, and you won't look 'like a crayon'. 

2. Denim

Ruby bought this H&M red denim jacket, now she and the jacket have become one and she is slightly closer to her dream (probably) of becoming the SOS emoji. Then, I got this ASOS denim skirt (which I can only describe as spicy), and I now feel incredibly dull if I go out wearing anything but. I think the only thing red denim has taught us here is that it is extremely addictive. 

3. Accessories

If, for some reason, you don't feel like walking around town in a head-to-toe ketchup outfit, there are more subtle ways to wear the trend. Statement red accessories such as a pair of earrings, a red hat (military-chic), or cross-body bag mean that the colour can be incorporated into any wardrobe without being so audacious. 

4. Beauty

An obvious way to introduce a bit of red into your beauty routine would be on nails or lip colour - which is fine. However, red on the eyes is much more interesting. Re-purpose a liquid lipstick such as this Gerard Cosmetics one, and apply a wing using a thin angled eyeliner brush.  Alternately, sweep a gold shimmer over your entire lid, and use a bright red shadow to highlight the inner-third of your lower lashline a la Solange.

Disclaimer: If you're going to opt for the fully red outfit, don't stand next to a post box with your mouth open. 


10 Aug 2017

There's a very fine line between chav and chic, and it's a line I like to walk dangerously close to - much to the disapproving looks from my own mother. I remember being 13, and all I wanted was a pair of chunky gold hoops from Elizabeth Duke at Argos. My mum hated them, and I didn't have the finances. Eight years later,  I think I've got some sort of complex, because statement earrings still make me feel the same kinda way.

A woman at the forefront of this trend; Eastenders' Pat Butcher has been mocked for her courageous jewellery choices. Although earrings have a much longer and more complex history than most people realise, the iconic Pat might be the catalyst to statement earrings being all over SS17 catwalks - and I'm not ready to let go of the trend just yet. 

[Pictured] A small sample of my superfluous collection. The yellow pair were the first I bought which could be categorised as 'statement', and I wear them when I want to feel more like Frida Kahlo. Since then, I've become more partial to a bolder look - hence the green and pink pair being a more recent acquisition.
N.B. Lemon not worn as earring, obvs. 


A statement pair of earrings has the same magical ability as a bold lipstick - creating the illusion you made much more effort than you really did. Pulling your hair into a bun takes two minutes, but adding earrings makes the look night-out-worthy. I honestly can't remember the last time I went out without a pair, so maybe I should give my earlobes a break... probs won't though.


6 Aug 2017

BEST READ - The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

After reading and loving the author-establishing Interpreter of Maladies for my degree, I decided to explore more of Jhumpa Lahiri's writing. The Namesake is her first novel and, just like her debut collection of short stories, is inspired by her Bengali heritage. 

The novel begins with the story of the Ganguli family as they leave behind their life in Calcutta to settle in Massachusetts. When their first son is born, Bengali tradition says Ashima and Ashoke's new baby will be named by Ashima's grandmother, and she will send her choice by post. When no letter arrives, Ashoke settles on Gogol - an ode to the Russian dramatist whose work nursed him through an accident years prior.

Conflicted between his parents' Bengali ideas and traditions and the North-East American world he's growing up in, Gogol Ganguli becomes Nikhil. The story resonates Lahiri's own experiences, teaching otherwise unknowing readers of her own culture and struggles as the daughter of Bengali Indian emigrants. 

Crafted with pleasing language and an unpretentious narrative, The Namesake has deservedly received a plethora of positive reviews and a number of awards. 

UNFINISHED READ - Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

My first encounter with Margaret Atwood was in 2013 when I read The Handmaid's Tale, and have since re-read twice. Atwood's writing was enthralling, and the novel shocked me. The opening book of a three-part series, I intended to feel the same way about Oryx and Crake and its two sequels, yet I gave up 3/4 of the way through only the first novel. 

Surrounded by a post-apocalyptic world, Snowman (previously known as Jimmy) is struggling to survive. He narrates the stories of his life before mankind was consumed by plague, including his infatuation with Oryx, and the death of his best friend Crake. 

For me, the narrative of the life of Oryx (and Snowman's relationship with her) was unusually tragic - it seemed almost ill-fitting. As the novel progresses, the science fiction themes become increasingly prominent, which is maybe what caused me to lose interest. Margaret Atwood's writing is engaging and thought-provoking, but the genre of this book just wasn't for me. 


I've read magazines my entire life, but towards the end of last year I'd fallen out of love with my numerous subscriptions. I wanted to read something inspiring, joyful, and refreshing; then I discovered Oh Comely.

Oh Comely claims to be 'a curious, honest and playful independent magazine'. Each issue is centred around a theme, and it comes together with the submissions of readers all over the country. Their latest issue, 'Touch', is inspired by feeling. It features an interview with Josie Long about our political climate, life models' experiences, and instructions for making origami cranes. It's a bi-monthly magazine that encourages readers to be unapologetic, to create, to learn, to live - and each issue is printed on the back with #onegoodthing to be grateful for. 

Issue 38 is already with subscribers, but will be in shops from August 10th.