You can be plus size....as long as you wear slimming underwear?

ashley graham

I bought January's copy of Cosmopolitan for some lazy Christmas reading, and found myself delving into a story about Ashley Graham. She's an American model, seemingly taking the fashion world by storm. She's a size 18-20 who is pushing the boundaries of the industry in terms of representation and diversity.

And while all of that is well and good, my blog isn't really about Ashley at all. It's about the small gains that are celebrated, while often overshadowing the gulf they are trying to cross. 

The cover of the magazine, along with all of the inside images of Ashely, show her in underwear. They're seemingly trumpeting the acceptance of plus size imagery in mainstream magazines. "Look how diverse we are now".

Yet, they highlight the never ending taboo for all sized women - the only bellies we can see without clothing are flat. Even Ashley, posing in her underwear for all to see, is acceptable for a magazine if she's in belly-hiding (and body slimming underwear).

ashley graham tummy

Women can be any size they like, if they hide their bellies away. We are shielded from what tummies look like, unless they're flat. 

Footner Exfoliating Socks - or how to disgust anyone you live with

footner review

I'm a fan of acids in my skincare products (see why I love hyaluronic acids here), so when I was offered a pair of Footner Exfoliating Socks I was curious to see what alpha-hydroxy acids would do to my feet. We all know that our feet usually seem a little nicer after some hardcore manual exfoliation, but do they really need a chemical peel?

footner sock review

You get a pair of plastic socks, filled with a gel. They retail at £19.99, so it's a little more expensive than the quick face mask you throw on for a weekly treat. The first thing that hits you when you open them up is the smell; they smell pretty strong, almost like nail polish. When you've paid £20 for a one-time-use product, this is strangely reassuring.

You wear the plastic socks underneath regular socks to keep them secure, leaving them on for about an hour. Now, don't say I didn't warn you. The gross bit is coming up.

Why do we get hard skin?
Relentless pressure and friction cause an accumulation of dead skin cells which is very difficult for the body’s natural exfoliation removal process to cope with.  This is when a build up of hard skin occurs and if not treated it can develop into callus and even cracked and bleeding heels which can be extremely painful and unsightly. 
The active AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) in Footner, also used in cosmetic skin peels, soften the hard skin build up and loosen the ‘glue’ that binds dead skin cells together, starting the exfoliation process naturally.  Only the dead skin cells are removed, leaving feet pedi-perfect.

So, I relaxed in bed, wore the socks, and after an hour washed the peel away. I definitely felt something happening whilst wearing them, a little stingy but not unbearable. Again, this isn't really an issue; when you're paying this much money you *want* to feel something so you know it's working.

Nothing happens at first. The first three days things are pretty much how they were before. The skin on the top of your feet starts to become very dry and crack/flake off, and the soles of your feet feel almost plasticky, but nothing's happening really.

Then it does.

footner foot peel

I was having a bath, and my feet felt odd. I took a look and it seemed that the peel had kicked in. I've honestly never seen anything like it. They tell you not to pull the skin away, nor to use moisturiser, so I did my best to just leave it. But blimey, it gets messy.

footner review bath

No matter how much skin you pick and peel off, there always seems to be loads more. It takes about 10 days in total, and you end up with massive chunks of skin everywhere. Largely in bed, but in your socks too. In fact, anywhere you're silly enough to be barefoot. You have to laugh or you'd cry.

footner peel socks

I told you it got gross.

This stuff is intense in ways I didn't expect. It definitely works, and unlike a £2 face mask is more than just a relaxing weekend treat. Your feet will peel.

This product was sent to me to review, but as always, all opinions are my own. You can find out more here -> Footner.

Starting a new job...first day nerves

applying for jobs rockalily

I've been in an odd position over the past few months, in that I've been actively looking for a new job (read more here), as well as recruiting for an executive under me at my current digital agency job, while also recruiting for salon staff at Rockalily Cuts. This has meant that I have been rewriting my own CV and attending interviews, while also sifting through hundreds of other people's CVs. A foot on both sides of the fence if you will.

Starting a new job is usually exciting, and most often a little nerve wracking.  You hope that you'll be capable, and that the job is what you'd imagined it to be. You hope that you make friends, and that you fit in. You hope that your boss is reasonable and understanding.

I start my new job in 2.5 weeks and I excited about its potential, while nervous about the commute that I'm not used to. I'm looking forward to that feeling of a new start; a fresh page.

I'm hoping to fall back in love with my blog again, which got a little neglected when I started working almost 11 months ago. I'm keen to become even more creative, with my blog and at work in 2017, so watch this space!

The secret I've been keeping for 10 months...and why I'm quieter on social media these days.

reeree rockalily blue hair

10 months ago I posted this selfie on Instagram with "Pucker up Monday, I'm coming for you," and what I didn't share at the time was that I was starting a new job. Yup, after being purely self employed for over 5 years, I'd decided to head back to the world of the employed. In secret.

I kept it secret for a couple of reasons. I didn't want people to think the salon wasn't doing well, as it definitely is. I also didn't want to publicly fail; what if I just couldn't hack it anymore?

going from self employed to employed again

I needed a new creative challenge, something to get the brain cogs turning again, and I really really wanted to clear my debts and have a holiday. Starting and running a business often comes with debt, and it can be hard to shift. So I decided to just dive right back in, and give a job a go, it'd certainly been a while!

So, rewind back to Feb 1st 2016, I joined a creative digital agency, and returned to full time work, doing social media and outreach. This was alongside the normal salon management activities, so I honestly wasn't 100% sure how I'd cope, but wanted to give it a shot.

In October I posted this blog - "Achieving two life goals this year" where I shared my joy at clearing all of my debt and going on holiday (Oh hello there Bali). Don't get me wrong, it's been hard work. Working full time and managing my salon certainly puts my time management skills to the test, and my holiday wasn't a full on luxury fest (Bali was cheaper to visit than I'd imagined!), but I did it. 

reeree bali beach

And this week I did something else...handed in my notice ready to start a new job in January. I am ready for the next chapter in this new working life, so watch this space for some of the awesome stuff I'm hopefully going to be up to in the new year; I'll definitely be flexing my creative muscles, and should be able to share a lot of it with you!

A mantra that has featured in my life a lot this year is that you can do anything, but not everything. 2016 had a clear purpose for me, and of course it meant making some sacrifices along the way, but worth every single one. Bring it on 2017, I'm ready for you.

#VuelioBlogAwards

Last weekend I headed to the Vuelio Blog Awards, a swanky formal event to celebrate bloggers who are leading the way in their niche. I've been blogging for perhaps 8 years, and I used to attend blog events pretty regularly. However, I'm less socialable these days, and since the blogging world exploded and became so much busier, I rarely attend them (and of course are invited to less too!). However this invite was for a formal dinner (rare) and pretty local to me, so I decided to come out of my bubble and head on down!

I know a lot of people had to go alone, but I decided to embrace the evening as date night, and took B as a plus 1. We rushed into our race-day outfits, and felt sufficently 'formal' to rush out the door and grab an uber. 

My blogging bubble tends to focus on fashion and beauty blogs, so I found the crowd refreshingly varied. As they were celebrating niches from travel, food, fitness, parenting etc, the attendees were mixed in age and gender. We welcomed a few glasses of prosecco and chatted. I got asked to do a brief interview for some student journalists. I tried to explain my answers would be lame, but I gave in. 

I love my little blog, and I love the opportunities it has provided me. However it isn't something I really champion at the moment, so I don't really want to talk too much about it really. They rather awkwardly asked me if I was up for an award (obvs not) and how many followers I had. It's almost as awkard as asking someone what they earn isn't it? 

Similarly to a wedding table plan, we found our pre-assigned seats (with my pre-arranged vegetarian meal) and joined our table. The food was yummy, and the wine plentiful, which is always a winning combination.

Blogging and the rise of social media seems to still confuse a lot of the marketing world. The shift of reach and influence has forever changed their landscape, and I think they feel a little out of control. However, we know of course it's nothing new really. Word of mouth has always been the most successful type of marketing, the internet has just amplified it to new heights. Personally I love what this means. Sources of information and trust are more varied, and we get to hear more voices than ever before.

We had a great time, and I was fiercely proud of everyone out there creating little businesses and fun hobbies out of writing, documenting, informing and taking photographs of their lives and interests. Bravo.

Beautiful Brows - an updated review

I first bought Beautiful Brows 4 years ago (you can read that old brows blog here) or to save you the click through, here is what I looked like back in 2012 testing my first official Beautiful Brow:

Back then it cost me £35, and I got a large black powder with a brush and 3 stencils. I loved it, and despite the stencils breaking a couple of years ago, I've worn the powder almost every day since (just applied freehand with a brush). Oddly look how much I have left! It seems I still have years left!

old beautiful brows kit.jpg

This is why I was excited and intrigued when I was sent the new Beautiful Brow kit to review. It's a brand I've worn for so long now, but oddly don't hear very much about. I was curious to see if anything had changed.

Firstly, you get more for your buck in 2016. This kit retails at £30 and contains 

  • Eyebrow powder
  • 6 eyebrow shapes
  • Duo applicator brush
  • Eyebrow highlighter
  • Highlighter brush
  • Soft grip tweezers
  • Magnifying mirror

The powder is smaller, but I guess it needed to be, going my 4 year old one still going strong! 

I've used Beautiful Brows for so long because they fill in my brows without fuss. They smudge less than any other powder I've tried, and they definitely last all day. It's funny isnt it, how brows became such a thing, and we look back and gasp at our natural brows from old pictures. I'm not one for a full on ombre-instagram brow, but I definitely don't leave the house without my brows on!

If you love make-up, but lack the skills of an instagram make up star, you may well love Beautiful Brows as much as I have.

5 weeks away from BodyPump....

reeree 5 weeks off gym

Last night was finally the night I returned to the gym after 5 weeks away. I had two week on holiday and 3 weeks were a mixture of sprained ankle and life dramas. I was excited to get back, but a littler nervous too.

Before my 5 weeks off I'd been pretty good at sticking to 4 visits a week, and I'd worked up to lifting a nice chunk of weight during BodyPump. But now I was returning with a pretty sore ankle and 5 weeks of no exercise.

I was a few minutes late leaving work, but I rushed, got changed and made it in time. Phew. It was a brand new instructor, so I took the time to explain my injury, and that I'd adapt any exercises I couldn't do.

The first minute of the warm-up was brilliant. I was so glad to be back, even though I was working with a little less weight. The music in BodyPump really gets you going, and I love how strong it makes me feel. However after a minute or two I felt really shaky and faint. What I'd forgotten was that to go to the gym I need to eat more than my salad and rye bread lunch. Definitely not enough.

So it ended up being a bit of a disaster. I felt so on the edge of fainting for the whole time, and during squats I ended up putting all my weights down and using body weight only. My ego hated it, but fainting would be worse! I also had to leave during another song for water, as I really felt like I could fall down. So silly!

It was all a rather pathetic session, lifting very small weights and fighting fainting. However, I stayed the whole session and am so relieved to be back.