Everything I’ve learnt at 25

So today is my birthday and I officially feel really old! There are certain things about life that just feel very different now. I don’t think in the same way I used to, I don’t act the same way and I don’t want the same things. There is actually so much I’ve learnt, even over this past year and as 25 is a milestone (quarter of a century and all that), as well as a really strange birthday to have at the moment (during a global pandemic), I wanted to reflect on some of these things with you.

The first thing I’ve learnt is about myself. I feel like I’ve been learning so much about myself over the past couple of years and my character has really evolved. There are things I would do years ago that I couldn’t even dream of getting involved in now. The biggest one for me is confrontation and drama. There was a time when I would pride myself in being the type of person who would always say what was on their mind. That type of what you see is what you get person. But what I’ve learnt recently is that not everybody needs to see you. I’m very comfortable with who I am and I have nothing to prove to anybody. Having this mindset has led me to learn that there are a lot of things which are better left unsaid.

Things like gossip. I think there are plenty of us who love a gossip, but I’ve finally excluded myself from this group. In fact, there is nothing I hate more than gossip. I don’t want to hear it, I don’t want to spread it and I don’t want to be involved in it.

When it comes to drama, I try my best to avoid it all costs. But I’ve also learnt that it’s impossible for me to be on damage control the whole time. I can’t ensure that every little inch of my life will fall perfectly into place. Sometimes, things will erupt. It’s just life. There is no calm without chaos. And a lot of the time, there are very valuable lessons to be learnt through chaos. You learn about yourself, you learn about the people around you and I think you learn how to avoid being in the same situations again.

I’ve also learnt a lot about money! The shopaholic in me finds it extremely hard to say no to materialistic purchases. Just a few hours ago I was in Harrods, talking to a sales assistant at YSL about whether I should buy a bag for £1600. My new life motto when it comes to big purchases (or any purchases really), is only buy it if you can buy it twice. In this situation, I applied the rule and I could definitely have checked out and been good. I wouldn’t have had to use any credit to buy the bag but I would have been -£1600 in savings and at least a few months back from being able to buy a house.

At this age, I value my long term goals a lot more than I value my immediate ones. My immediate goal with that bag would be to take it on an evening out, take it out for lunch, take it out shopping (and I know I am talking about the bag like it’s a person but I just love bags, okay?!); but to do all of those things, I would be spending even more money. So really, buying the bag would be costing me more money long term and drawing me further and further away from my long term goals. There will be a time for me to buy a YSL bag without having to think about these things and when the time comes, it will be so much more worth it.

The last thing I’ve learnt is about emotion. I have the tendency to react on emotion and in the past year or so, it’s meant that I’ve made decisions which have diverted me from some of my most important goals. I’m the kind of person who needs to detach from a situation, think about it on my own and work out a plan. I live for plans. There has to be a plan for everything to keep me sane. And maybe to some people that’s unhealthy and maybe by the time I’m 30 I’ll realise that I ditched all of my plans anyway. But for now, the best thing I can do when I’m feeling emotional about anything, is to take a step back, take a deep breath and take as much time as I need to come up with a plan.

Valuing my sanity and my time is something I put above almost anything else in my life. If you know me, you’ll know that my favourite saying is “I don’t have time for…”. Well, this has served me very well. I don’t have copious amounts of time to feel things that will prevent me from moving forward with my life. Whether that’s resentment, heartbreak, embarrassment, fear. I will do whatever I can to keep moving forward in life and this is what keeps me sane. This is what keeps me valuing my time. Most of all, this is what has kept me focused and happy.

I’m beginning to learn that happiness is a choice. I choose to let things go and I choose not to harbour negative emotions because it makes my happier immediately and it makes me happier long term. This is a tough one to learn and it’s taken me a while, but it’s been very worth it. Always forgive. Holding onto grudges is one thing that I can promise will only ever eat you up inside.

So here’s to 25 – I can’t wait to see what else I achieve in the next quarter of the century!

Half up half down on curly hair

Being in lockdown has meant that I’ve had the time to try out some new hairstyles. Space buns are an indoor favourite for me and so easy to do. But, at the end of the day I’m a very boring girl and I like my simple hairstyles. A low bun, ponytail or half up half down are my three go-to hairstyles. So when I realised that my hair was finally long enough when its natural to wear it half up half down, I was chuffed.

If you do this hairstyle straight out of the shower, then you’ll get a lot more definition – see below. But if you wash your hair, tie it back for a couple of days and leave it in a low bun, then your hair will have stretched slightly. The bottom pieces of my hair drop really nicely and then the middle section tends to shrink up a lot. So I find that wearing my hair in a bun for a couple of days really helps to maximise length.

A lot of the time however, I want more definition than length. I find that if this is you too, working with fresh or next day hair is best. A really big tip that I’ve picked up over the past month or two is not just to scrunch your curl products into your hair, but to brush them through as soon as you get out of the shower. This is my biggest moisture mention tip. I found that when I would scrunch products into my hair, it would dry out quicker. Now, when I brush the products through, my hair remains moisturised for 2-3 days after washing. I wash my hair roughly every 3 days, sometimes less.

For this particular hairstyle, I used bobby pinks to secure the hair at the back. Something you have to learn with curly hair is that it is not meant to sit flat. I used to spend hours trying to pull my hair back and get it to sit flat against my head. In reality, my hair is just not made to do this. So when I say I secure it using bobby pins, please note that it might not feel like your hair is secure – but it is. My hair is really thick so a small bobby pin is not going to do the same job as a crab claw clip, for example. However, just simply pinning the hair back it enough to achieve this hairstyle.

And I think it looks really nice overall! It’s a great way to relieve your scalp from the strain of always having your hair tied back and its great to let your hair be free once in a while.

Dismantling myths against “Black Lives Matter”

How to Best Adhere to Social Distancing While Attending BLM ...

Over the past week, I have seen so many people taking to social media to raise awareness for BLM. But with that, comes disagreement and ignorance. If you’ve only just started learning about the everyday horrors of racial injustice, then you might be reading comments online that confuse you. Well, this post is here to dismantle that confusion. I’m going to be taking popular arguments against BLM and dismantling them for you – so that you can fully understand what all of this really means.

“All Lives Matter is racist against white people.”

This is perhaps the most popular one I’ve seen. I firstly want to point out that the protestors of all lives matter only seem to care about “all lives” when they are faced with the option of protecting a disadvantaged group. Supporting an oppressed group is somehow so horrifying to them, that they have to counteract it instead. The fact is that all lives do not matter because black lives do not matter. And that is specifically why we are campaigning for them to. It’s not racist to speak out in support of the oppressed. It’s racist not to.

“The police have killed white people too.”

Indeed they have. Statistically, US police have actually killed more white people than they have killed black people. But the numbers are disproportionate. Based on the overall population and the percentage of black people that make up that population (13%), more black lives are lost to police violence than white lives. You have to actually care about the movement to research and understand these facts, which many people cannot be bothered to do. It takes time to look into individual cases and statistics but it’s important to do so. Have a look at the below, from Washington Post and Statista.

Infographic: U.S. Police Shootings: Blacks Disproportionately Affected | Statista

It’s also really important to understand that we’re not fighting just because they have killed us. The fact that we lose black lives to the police is just the fatal final step of racially motivated police injustice. There is unjust brutality that comes beforehand. So we’re fighting against an amalgamation of factors that have led to black fatalities. We’re fighting because they racially profile and arrest us either for trivial offences or crimes they “thought” we were committing. And when they do arrest us for these crimes, they subdue our right to live until they kill us. They fire several “warning” shots, they chase us and pin us to the ground like animals, they physically beat us. They use unjust force that is breaking the law, they group up on us and have other officers protect them while THEY commit crimes against us. All after arresting us for crimes that they will later admit we did not commit!

So to the all lives matter protestors, tell me, do you really believe that this is happening to all lives?

“Nobody is talking about what these black people were doing in the first place.”

If you had really looked into what many of the black people who have been killed by the police were arrested for, then you would see that the violence is unjust. Using a counterfeit $20 bill should not equal an on-site death sentence. Selling cigarettes without tax stamps, brandishing a toy gun, going for a run in your neighbourhood, visiting a family member, hanging out with your friends on the street. The list goes on and on. You’ll find that in many cases, “these black people” were doing absolutely nothing wrong. As I said earlier, they were racially profiled.

And no, I’m not saying that black people are not criminals. We commit crimes the same as any other race. But the point is, that when we commit the same crime as a white person, we are handled differently. Physically handled differently – because we immediately become victims of police brutality, whilst white people are cuffed humanely within the scope of their human rights. And mentally handled differently – as in the case of the Central Park Five, who were manipulated by police officers into giving testimonies that incriminated them for a crime they did not commit. We need black lives to matter as much as white lives do.

“When a white person is killed, nothing happens.”

The simple answer to this is that when a white person is killed by the police, it’s not based on the colour of their skin.

I also feel that if as a white person, you felt there was a problem with police brutality within your community, then why didn’t you address it? Black people have been addressing this injustice for years, across many sectors where racism is prevalent. Don’t attack us for supporting our own people and fighting for our rights when you have always been at perfect liberty to do the same.

The reason you haven’t had to do this is because you’ve always had rights. We don’t have as much reach or as much influence as you do. We live in a world that has been carefully curated to benefit you, so when we need help, it has to start from our own community. We literally had to create this movement, raise awareness and we are actively making things happen to try and create change.

There hasn’t been a movement against white injustice at the hands of the police because it simply does not exist.

It’s important to understand that we’re not saying Only Black Lives Matter. We have never said that. Arguing that all lives matter is the same as saying “I don’t see colour”. You need to recognise how people’s experiences differ based on their race. If you truly care about all lives, then you simply cannot refuse to acknowledge that not all lives are the same. Black lives are in danger. There is no racial bias within this movement because the very point of it is to fight against that.

Let’s talk about US Police Officers Killing Black People

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Over the past few days, people have been sharing and re-posting anything and everything to do with George Floyd. On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and pretty much every other social media app, George Floyd’s name has reverberated. It’s amazing to see so many people, of all different races, coming together to talk about this. But sadly, George Floyd is not the first black man to be unjustly killed by a US police officer. Heartbreakingly, we know that he will not be the last either.

Racism in America operates on a colossal scale. And I want to talk about racism in America because, right now, America is one of the least safe places in the world for a black person to be. This does not mean that any other country is exempt. Or that, for example, there are no racist police officers in the UK. There are. But this post is going to be about racism in the US and racism as a whole. I’ve never shied away from talking about race on this blog and it’s important to me that I say my piece on this.

So here are some statistics. Black people make up 13% of the US population – just 13%. Yet, they are two and a half times more likely to be killed by the police. California, Texas and Florida have the highest number of killings of black people. In Minnesota, where George Floyd was murdered by a white police officer who knelt on his neck, while another police officer stood watch, until he stopped breathing, black people make up only 5% of the overall state population. Yet, they are nearly four times more likely to be killed by the police.

Racist police brutality is not a 2020 wave, let’s get this straight. This hasn’t just started happening now, it’s been happening for years. In 2012, Treyvon Martin was reported as a ‘suspicious person’ for going to visit his father in Sanford. A white neighbourhood watch officer then shot him. Treyvon was unarmed. He was not suspicious. He was not a threat. He was 17 years old, a black boy and a victim of institutional racism.

Tamir Rice was 12 years old and killed in 2014 by a white police officer for playing with a toy gun.

Eric Garner was choked to death by a police officer the same year, after being arrested for selling cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. He wasn’t, by the way.

Mike Brown was hit by six shots from a white police officer in Missouri, who fired twelve bullets at him as he ran away. He was 18 years old.

Freddie Grey was arrested for being in possession of an illegal switchblade in Baltimore. The blade was not illegal and he fell into a coma in the back of a police van 45 minutes after being arrested.

There are so many more names of black men killed by US police officers that I could mention. But then this post would run on for days and days. For anyone who wants to know more about black men specifically who have been killed by US police officers, then I’ve found this article. It compiles a whole list of them – see for yourself.

99% of police killings from 2014 to 2019 did not result in charges, or consequently convictions, of a crime.

Based on the above, I find it impossible to deny that America is facing a racism crisis. And it’s doing so with very little consequences. It takes mass outrage, protests and retaliation for these police officers to come under investigation. Even then, you’ll find that the correct language is not being used. Reports in the media will tell you that these men died, not that they were murdered. Charges are never severe enough. There are always justifications, which I really do fail to comprehend. Unarmed, unthreatening, innocent black people are being killed in America simply because police officers have the power and the status to do so. We need to change this.

Up until this point I’ve been talking about black men. Black men in America are perceived as violent and dangerous simply for being black. They are the most racially profiled members of the black community. But please do not think that police brutality begins and ends with them. Black women such as Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor, who was shot by police officers in her own home, are victims of institutional racism too.

I don’t think that we have ever expected police officers to protect us. After all, they have a long history of doing the exact opposite. But in this day and age, we have the knowledge and the influence to at least fight for consequences. It’s very difficult to imagine a time when racism will not pervade our identity as black people and the generations of black people that are to come. So, I feel that the least we can do is fight for equal consequences. So that when a black life is lost, accountability does not lessen simply because it was a black life instead of a white one.

What is happening in America right now is opening the door even wider for overt racism. This is why we have cases like Ahmad Arbery’s, who was shot by two white men while he was out jogging. Racists don’t feel like they will face consequences for their actions because even the police officers don’t!

Then there are people like Amy Cooper, who called the police in New York on a black man because he told her to put her dog on a leash. She threatens that she’s going to call the police is “going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”

I’ve even seen a video of a white woman being pulled over on the highway and being told by the police officer not to worry because she’s white. “We only kill black people,” he jokes.

You can find footage like this almost everywhere now. You can find even worse footage, of black people actually being killed, too. The fact that there is video footage of black people being killed by police officers is strangely eye opening for some people. It doesn’t sit well with me. Do you see the same footage of white people being killed? And, at this point, do you really need to see video evidence of somebody being killed to believe that it happened unlawfully? Mutilated black bodies have become a spectacle and I am not okay with that. So the next time you see a video circulating on Twitter or Instagram, please think twice before sharing it. Your words can be powerful too, you should use them.

Racism is a very complex structure of barriers that has been set up to guarantee and maintain the success of white people. It means that there are socio-economic systems that have been set up to make the success of a person of colour harder. As a white person, there are things you will never have to worry about. I’ll give you some examples of things that I face all the time as a black girl, that you don’t.

You never have to worry about seeing people that look like you represented in your dream career. Chances are, the leading figure in your field is white and your dreams seem more achievable because of this.

You’ve never had to explain your achievements to anyone because its not puzzling for you to be smart or well-spoken.

You’ve never had to dilute your appearance to make yourself seem more appealing – for example, at a job interview or at school. It’s well known that black girls’ natural hair has been regulated in the workplace and in schools. You’ve never experienced this.

You’ve never received a backhanded compliment about your race. “You’re so pretty for a black girl.” “You’re light skin so its okay.” “When I was tanned, I was pretty much your colour.”

Your natural features have never been seen as ugly on you but beautiful on someone else that looks completely different to you. We all know about the Marc Jacobs show that used dreadlocks on white models. It’s fashionable on you but as a natural hairstyle on us, it’s messy and unkempt. Or what about lip fillers? Having naturally full lips is unattractive on a black girl but sexualised and appealing on a white girl.

You’ve never gone to a cosmetics store and struggled to find something in your shade. Or been disappointed to find that a big beauty brand has a line of products that they haven’t even made in your shade, even though you and other people that look like you, are a big part of their consumer demographic.

You’ve never walked into a store and realised that the security guard is following you because the colour of your skin makes him think that you’re going to steal something.

Imagine having all of these experiences in your mind everywhere you go. These are things you never forget because they characterise your identity. People always want to celebrate black culture without understanding what the implications of being black are, on your everyday experience of life.

These things don’t leave you. I don’t have the privilege of just ignoring what’s happening in America today. I can’t fathom really, how anyone as a human being could disassociate themselves from the fact that innocent lives are being taken based on race. I really can’t. But that’s white privilege – feeling entitled to dip in and out of a culture as and when it suits you. Being able to say you don’t see colour when it suits you. Being able to say and feel like a racial fight is not your fight, simply because its not your people that are being killed. And exercising silence over situations like these because of that.

To me, that’s the same as saying black lives don’t matter.

So, if you are the kind of person that thinks a person’s life should not be valued by the colour of their skin, then you will have something to say about this. Hopefully, you won’t just take my word for it, but you’ll do your own research, you’ll form your own opinion and you’ll help to fight against racism. Whether that’s going to protests, donating to charities in America that are fighting for black lives, not being afraid to call someone out on their racism, or whatever else you want to do to help.

There are so many things you can do. Lead a life that is anti-racist, not silent – this is perhaps the most important one. But you really can’t sit back and expect an oppressed group of people to fight against their own oppression.

IDRU: March – London Design Week, Olga Polizzi and Rocco Forte Hotels

Interior Design Round Up has been shortened to IDRU.

The highlight of this month was, of course, London Design Week! Although this took place on my doorstep, at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour, I unfortunately wasn’t able to go. Trade dates were 8-10 March and the show opened to the public from 11-13 March. In this post, I’m going to be talking about hotelier Olga Polizzi, who gave a speech at London Design Week that inspired me to go and explore the Rocco Forte Hotels.

Olga Polizzi of Rocco Forte Hotels

I read that Olga Polizzi gave a speech about her process of hotel design. I would love design commercial settings like hotels, bars and restaurants, so this would have been a great talk for me! Hearing this, however, led me to go and explore the Rocco Forte Hotels website. And all I can say is, wow.

The hotels are honestly what dreams are made of! If you’re picturing yourself in a beautiful dress, wandering through the hallways of a very grand and decadent building, then The Balmoral, Edinburgh is perfect. Or, if you see yourself lounging in a king sized bed wearing a silk dressing gown (I often do), then the suites at Brown’s Hotel, London are ideal.

The interior at Brown’s Hotel was designed by Olga herself and effortlessly “harmonises stunning period features with contemporary flair.” As an English graduate, I can’t help but gush over the fact that Brown’s Hotel has its origins in Lord Byron’s history. It was his butler, James Brown, who acquired it in 1837 and expanded it to create Brown’s Hotel in 1838. The literary links continue, as the hotel has had George Orwell, Agatha Christie and Rudyard Kipling, who started The Jungle Book during one of his stays there. Agatha Christie is said to have based At Bertram’s Hotel on Brown’s and Stephen King supposedly started his novel Misery, whilst sat at Kipling’s desk there!

Deluxe Suite at Brown’s Hotel, London
Dover Suite at Brown’s Hotel, London
Dover Suite at Brown’s Hotel, London

The rooms are interesting because they’re a mix of traditional and contemporary design. The cornice and colour scheme in the Dover Suite above feel Georgian, yet the furniture and ornaments are very much contemporary.

Hotel de Russie in Rome, another Rocco Forte Hotel is the perfect luxury getaway. I love the Nijinksy Suite at this hotel. The patterns, fresh, light colour palette and gorgeous Italian views really make it the type of European getaway I picture when I close my eyes.

Nijinksy Suite at Hotel de Russie, Rome
Nikinksy Suite at Hotel de Russie, Rome
Nijinksy Suite at Hotel de Russie, Rome
Nijinksy Suite at Hotel de Russie, Rome

Finally, perhaps the dreamiest of all, is The Westbund Hotel, Shanghai. The luxury, futuristic feel of the hotel’s bars and restaurants is incredible. The rooftop bar sits on the 59th floor and offers panoramic views of the West Bund. There’s also n Italian restaurant, a Chinese restaurant and a British tea room.

The Westbund Hotel, Shanghai
The Westbund Hotel, Shanghai

Plus, the ceiling on this spa would honestly make me feel like I had left reality completely and entered heaven. It’s almost as if this whole room sits amongst the clouds…

The Westbund Hotel Spa, Shanghai
The Westbund Hotel Spa, Shanghai
The Westbund Hotel Suite, Shanghai
The Westbund Hotel Suite, Shanghai

I won’t pretend as if any of the rooms I’ve mentioned in this post aren’t wildly unattainable. All of this superior, considered design comes at a very high cost. The Kipling Suite at Brown’s Hotel starts at £4,200 a night – definitely not pocket change!

Kiping Suite at Brown’s Hotel, London
Kiping Suite at Brown’s Hotel, London

Hair Growth Tips

I thought I would write this post because in the past couple of years, I’ve been treating my hair really differently and I’ve been able to really maximise my hair growth because of it. Although I actually prefer my hair shorter, I know that a lot of black girls struggle with getting their hair to grow. I therefore wanted to write this post to share my experience with you.

On the flip side, I also know that there are so many of us who are wearing our hair natural now – which I love. This means that there are thousands of black girls out there showcasing their gorgeous thick, bouncy, shiny, beautiful, head of long, healthy curls. So, I’m not trying to pioneer myself as having the best hair out there because I definitely see girls with hair that is a lot thicker and longer than mine and trust me, I do envy them! But this is what my hair looks like at the moment and I want to share how I got it to this stage.

The History

So, just under a year ago now, in August 2019, I cut my hair short and levelled it all off. That’s the picture you see on the left. I was tired of my hair growing at different lengths, so I levelled it all off at the healthiest part and cut it into this straight across style. Before that, the longest part of my hair was probably a couple of inches longer and the shorter parts were around the length that I cut it to.

My hair naturally grows in a V shape – annoyingly, it doesn’t all grow at the same rate. So if I want my hair to be all one length, which I do, then I have to cut it all to one length myself. But even as it grows, as you can see from my before and after pictures, it still doesn’t really grow to one length! This is because when I was in my second year of university, I got a little scissor happy trimming my hair and I cut the front parts really short. They were probably up to my chin. Since then, the front parts of my hair have never really recovered. They always grow a lot slower than the bottom parts. Which is why you’ll see me wearing my hair half up half down pretty much all the time if I don’t have it tied back or up in a bun. However, less than a year after cutting my hair up to my collarbone, you can see how many inches it has grown. It’s a lot longer and the most important thing is that it’s healthy.

People have always complimented me on the length and thickness of my hair throughout my life. But what they probably didn’t realise is that it wasn’t healthy at all. I used to straighten my hair almost everyday and I remember that my ex-boyfriend once told me that every strand of hair on my head was a split end. I mean, not the nicest of things to tell your girlfriend but in all fairness, he was actually correct. I had an unbelievable amount of split ends. But what could I do? I thought that I had to wear my straight. And so, every week I would spend about 3 hours straightening it all out and touching it up with straighteners throughout the week too. Trust me, there is no amount of heat defence spray that can prevent the damage that straighteners will do to your hair. Unfortunately, straighteners will damage your hair – that’s just the harsh reality.

I realised this about 2 years ago now. Every time I washed my hair and saw the curls, I had this urge to leave it natural. But I was lost. I honestly didn’t know where to begin with styling or treating my natural hair. And so, every time I washed it, I would fall back into that cycle of straightening it. I was even more anxious about wearing my hair natural in front of my boyfriend at the time. Having my hair straight and having my hair natural are two very different styles. He was used to seeing me with my hair straight and even though he told me that there was no issue, it was something that I had to overcome myself. Because, if I didn’t really like seeing my hair natural, then why would I show it to anybody else?

My university housemates can attest to the fact that whenever I washed my hair, I would lock myself in my room for 3 hours while I blow dried and straightened it. This meant that nobody ever saw what my hair looked like natural. Crazy, right? I was so embarrassed and I hated my natural hair so much that I didn’t want anybody to see it. Which in retrospect is crazy!

My point here is that, if you haven’t gone natural yet, then I understand you. I know how difficult it is. My sister, for example, has the most beautiful head of curly hair and has been natural for way longer than me, yet she still won’t wear her natural hair out. We’re all on our own journeys. But the sooner you embrace your natural hair, the better you will feel overall, I promise.

For the purpose of showing the length difference in my hair, I have uploaded pictures with it straight. When my hair is curly, it shrinks up a lot (as you can see in my previous post here), so it makes it difficult for you to see how much its grown. I would say I wear my hair straight once every few months now, simply because I don’t love it straight anymore. I just find it boring and it doesn’t really feel like me. It also takes so long to straighten and I can feel how hot my hair gets after using the straighteners – a feeling that I really don’t like. The only reason I straighten my hair now is either if I want it straight for a particular event or because I’m trimming it. I haven’t yet learnt how to properly trim my hair when it’s curly, so I prefer to straighten it all out and level it off that way instead.

The Tips

So now that you have my sort of hair history, let’s talk about what I actually do with my hair to keep it as healthy as possible. Since cutting my hair short back in August, I’ve been keeping to some rules to maximise hair health and growth.

The first, is to wash your hair as much as it needs it. When we wear our hair straight, we are so used to trying to maximise the length of time that we can do this for. So, usually we will try not to wash our hair for as long as possible. Back in university days, I used to wash my hair once every two weeks. I know, I’m honestly disgusted thinking about it now. It was full of excess oils and dirt and I would keep straightening on top of that to try and stretch the period of time my hair was straight for. Now, I wash my hair every 3 days maximum. This is what my hair needs. After 3 days, it needs to have the product washed out of it and it needs to be re-conditioned. I use an extra moisture shampoo – either from Shea Moisture, OGX or Pantene. This is what works for me. You will have to figure out how long your hair can go without being washed and find a routine for yourself around that. I have been known to wash my hair everyday, but only on holiday. Washing your hair everyday is actually quite bad and should be avoided as much as possible.

Co-washes are also a great option. Often my hair isn’t dirty, it just needs to be conditioned. So, if I feel like it needs a freshen up, but I also feel that it’s quite close to when I just washed it, I’ll do a conditioner only wash. This is a really good way of replenishing the moisture and curls in your hair without stripping it of its natural oils too often. Just make sure that the next time you shampoo your hair, you shampoo it properly to remove any excess product build-up.

Another thing that I do, is deep condition my hair. I can’t lie, this is not one of my favourite things to do. It makes my wash time take forever! I’ve only recently managed to cut my wash times down drastically. I can wash my hair in 20 minutes and leave for work and be there on time (sort of) now! Whereas before, if somebody told me I’d have to wash my hair before going to work, I’d say that was impossible and that they’re crazy. This is another thing I love about natural hair – it’s so versatile! If you need to wash it and be out of the door, then you can absolutely do so without worrying about having to spend 3 hours blow drying and straightening it before you do. It’s such a freeing feeling. Anyway, the deep conditioner that I use is from Cantu – I’ve linked it here. I’ll part my hair into sections and brush the conditioner through. Then, I either plait it into one plait on each side or twist it up into a bun, put a plastic cap on and leave it there for 30 minutes or more before rinsing out. My hair loves me for it afterwards.

I have a couple of favourite detangles and leave-in conditioners that I use to style my hair throughout the week. These also help massively to keep my hair moisturised instead of dry. Immediately after washing my hair, I use the Cantu curl activator. This one is great for moisturising and curl definition. It has a thick consistency. If you want something a little looser, then I would try this ORS leave-in conditioner. Both products smell amazing and have shea butter in them. I love using shea butter on my hair, it just works so well to keep it moisturised and to keep my curls nice and defined. I also use the Pantene detangling milk – which I think does exactly what it says on the bottle and completely detangles my hair in seconds.

The next tip I can give you, which I always say, is to trim your hair regularly. Please! I trim my hair every 6 weeks and I do it myself. Yes, I have run into a fair few disasters doing this, but I’ve also seen my hair grow and thicken out from doing this. All you need to cut is a quarter of an inch minimum every time you trim it to get rid of those dead and damaged ends. It’s so important and is one of the biggest tips that I can give you.

Following on from your trim, you now need to maintain your healthy hair. Figure out what conditions your hair breaks under and try to prevent them. For example, I know that my hair can get very brittle in warm weather. The sun really dries out my hair so it’s better that I wear it up in buns with my ends tucked away as much as possible during the Summer. I also need to make sure that I’m moisturising my ends. So applying oils to the ends of my hair is a really important step in my hair routine. I like to use olive or jojoba oil. ORS do a good olive oil and Patene have a nice hydrating oil that I use daily – particularly when wearing my hair straight.

Protective styling is key for maximising growth. It’s not really my favourite thing to do but it does work. My favourite protective style is wearing my hair in twists and pulling the twists back into a bun with a scrunchie and some gold clips. Other good protective styles are braids – just one on either side. Or a really simply ballerina bun with all of my ends tucked away. I’m all about the simple styles that take 10 minutes max. Believe it or not, styling my hair is not something I enjoy so I like it to be done as quickly as possible!

Finally, the way that you manipulate your hair is really important. As I said earlier, heat is bad for your hair. For those of you that don’t like to hear that, I’m not sorry to tell you this. Every time I straighten my hair I know that I’m doing something bad to it. It’s unrealistic for me to say that I will never straighten my hair, as I will. Sometimes I just want to wear it straight and other times I want to trim it. But it’s the same as trying to keep a healthy diet. You don’t have to cut out chocolate completely, for example, you just have to limit yourself. And I now limit wearing my hair straight to once every few months.

Manipulation to me isn’t just about heat, however. Things like not brushing your hair too often and being gentle when you do is important. I only brush my hair when I deep condition it. Otherwise, my hair does not really see a brush. I finger detangle conditioner through my hair when I wash it. When I style it, all I use is a spray bottle and my fingers to rake the product through. Having said that, you still need to be gentle when you’re manipulating your hair. Don’t force and tug your fingers or a brush through. Start detangling the ends until your fingers or your brush can glide easily through the hair strands. I’ve really noticed how much less hair I find at the end of wash days because of this.

Pink eyeshadow look using Make Up Revolution products!

Today’s post is all about Make Up Revolution! Make Up Revolution is an affordable drugstore brand of cosmetics that you can find in Boots and Superdrug. In the past couple of years, Make Up Revolution has really made a name for itself. Influencers like Patricia Bright, Rachel Leary and Soph have all collaborated with them to create gorgeous palettes – one of which, I used to create this really simple pink eyeshadow look.

The palette I used is the second Soph x Make Up Revolution palette, in ‘Extra Spice’. I really like this palette. For every eyeshadow look you’ll see on me, I use this palette. It’s £10 but the quality and pigmentation of the shadows is amazing. I am not someone who is highly skilled at make up, so working with shadows like this that have a buildable quality to them makes me feel a lot more comfortable. I wouldn’t go straight in with a Natasha Denona palette for example, because its pricey and I would have no idea how to use it properly! For this look I used the shade ‘Twenty One’ all over the lid and blended out with the remains on the brush towards the edges and under the lash line.

Please excuse the messy quality of my palette – it just shows you how much I use it!

The foundation is a new one that I’m trying out from the Conceal and Define range. The foundation has a thin consistency, is an almost perfect shade match for me and provides a clear full coverage. It blends out really nicely as well – I apply with a wet beauty blender.

Because it’s so full coverage, it would probably look a lot better if I contoured my face to bring some dimension back in. But unfortunately, I don’t know how to contour.

I love the thick applicator that you get with the foundation – it reminds me of the Tarte Shape Tape concealer. Having an applicator like this means that the foundation is quick and less messy to apply. I don’t know about you, but I hate pumping foundations straight onto my face and I also don’t really like pumping them onto the back of my hand either. So this applicator is great.

Yetttt, at the same time, I also do have a problem with it. Having an applicator for your foundations makes them really unhygienic! Each time I use this foundation, the applicator is going to pick up all of the dirt and oils on my face. This is not ideal.

But I do love the way that the foundation looks on the skin. It honestly gives a flawless, smooth and unblemished coverage. Plus it’s only £9.99!

Finally, I used a gorgeous shade of the sheer lip gloss. If you have dark skin… well, you’ll know how difficult it is to find a flattering nude lip gloss. Particularly for a drug store price. Most of my nudes lip products have been bought in the high end section, costing me around £20 per item. In terms of lip glosses, I only have two nudes that work for me at the moment and this is one of them. This one is my favourite because its so shiny, giving you the perfect glossy pout. And it has pink undertones, which not only is my favourite colour (surprise surprise) but it also matches my natural lip colour perfectly. It’s not sticky or thick and it has a great lasting quality to it.

For a more dramatic, evening look, you could easily add lashes and intensify the colour a lot more by building it up. I just really like the look of colourful shadows on the eye with mascara only. But it’s all personal preference and if I was going on a night out, I would absolutely add a pair of falsies to glam this up!

Make Up Revolution Products used:
Make Up Revolution x Soph Extra Spice Palette (I use this for all of my looks)
Make Up Revolution Conceal and Define Full Coverage Foundation (Shade F13)
Make Up Revolution Sheer Brilliant Lip Gloss (Shade 124 Sheer Gone Rouge)

Easy paprika, garlic and red onion lamb meatballs and spaghetti recipe

Yesterday I made these really easy paprika, garlic and red onion lamb meatballs with spaghetti for dinner. They are honestly so tasty, I can’t wait to have the leftovers for dinner today. They’re also really quick and simple to make – so perfect for feeding the family. If you want to know how I made them, then keep reading. Everything is detailed below!

Ingredients:
1 x pack of minced lamb
2 x garlic cloves
1 x red onion
1 x egg
2 x tbsp caster sugar
1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
2 x tbsp paprika
1 x pinch of garlic sea salt
1 x pinch of ground pepper
1 x tsp thyme
1 x tsp mixed herbs
2 x tbp flour (any)
Spaghetti (however much you want!)

Method:

  1. Dice your onion and garlic cloves and put them into a mixing bowl
  2. Add your minced lamb and season to taste. I added lots of paprika, garlic sea salt, pepper and thyme but you can season them however you want. This is just how I think it tastes best
  3. Crack your egg into the bowl and start grinding the mixture together in the bowl, with your hands. This isn’t as messy as it sounds! Make sure that you’re evenly distributing the seasoning so that every bit of lamb is covered and that there are equal chunks of onion and garlic throughout the mixture
  4. Pour your flour into a plate and prepare a plate or dish to put your meatballs in. Then, take even chunks of the seasoned meat mixture and roll them into balls. After rolling each one, roll them into the flour as this will help them to keep their shape
  5. Then, pop them onto your plate or dish and put them in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to chill and soak up all the flavour
  6. Set aside a pot of boiling water for your spaghetti. Also take a large frying pan with a bit of oil (I used olive oil) and wait for it to heat up on a medium-high heat. I put the hob on 5 for this step
  7. Once your pot is boiled, add enough spaghetti. The amount is entirely up to you
  8. Take your meatballs out of the fridge and fry them all until they are golden brown. You can do this in batches if you have lots of them to fry and they don’t all fit
  9. While the meatballs are browning and the spaghetti is cooking, pour your chopped tomatoes into a bowl and add your sugar and mixed herbs
  10. Once the meatballs are brown, add the chopped tomato mixture to the pan and leave it to cook for 8-10 minutes. I turned mine over while they were cooking to make sure each meatball was coated in sauce
  11. Drain your spaghetti and add this directly to the pan with the meatballs and sauce. Serve straight from the pan and enjoy!

Note: 1 pack of minced lamb made 6 meatballs and 3 burger patties for me. You could probably make about 10-12 meatballs with one pack, however.

Techniques to get the most out of your favourite exercises

With most of us quarantined inside our homes, everybody is turning to home workouts. So I thought I would give you some tips to make sure that you’re getting the most out of the exercises you’re doing. I love home workouts and have been doing them for months and months now instead of going to the gym. I find that I work better at home, in my own space. And while a lot of us will be trying to do the same, it’s really important that when you’re completing these exercises at home, you’re still getting the most out of them. There are no machines to help you with your form at home – unless you’re super lucky and have some sort of home gym. So below I have listed just a few of my top tips.

Use a supporting mat.
I find it really important to exercise on a mat. You can pick one up from Amazon or Sports Direct and these will really help to support your body with any exercises that you’re doing. Make sure to get one that’s nice and wide and one that has a good thickness to it to provide padding.

Wear trainers instead of socks.
You might think you don’t need to wear trainers when working out at home but I really like to put mine on if I can be bothered. Firstly, they add that tiny little bit of extra weight to your feet. This is great for any core or ab exercises. Secondly, they provide your feet with the support needed for any bodyweight exercises such as squats.

Press your lower back into the floor.
When you’re doing any core/ab floor exercises, it’s really important that you focus on pressing your lower back into the floor. Improper form with these exercises will cause a gap to form between the floor and your lower back. This makes the exercises ineffective. Focus on tucking your hips under and pressing them to the floor. This is especially important for any lower ab exercises that you do. You’ll definitely notice the difference!

Perform exercises at a controlled pace.
If you’re following a workout video, then you’ll be tempted to try and match the pace of the person you’re watching. This isn’t always going to be possible and often you’ll end up performing your exercises incorrectly because of this. If you’re flailing your arms or not sinking down low enough into your exercises because you’re trying to keep up, then you’re not getting the most out of them. Thus, the workout becomes ineffective. Instead of trying to match anybody else’s pace, work on performing the exercises at a pace that allows you to do them properly. You’ll still be doing them for 40 seconds or a minute. If you do less reps then that’s fine, as long as you have done them properly!

Move slower.
Slowing down your movements builds endurance and actually makes your muscles work harder. This is why pilates movements are often quite challenging and require a lot of concentration. I recommended pilates in my last post for this reason. It teaches you to control your movements and to think about what your muscles are doing. This is a great way to learn how to do certain exercises that you might be struggling with. Just slow them down.

Don’t drink water too regularly throughout the workout.
If you keep drinking water in every rest, then your body is filling up whilst you’re working out and it’s going to become more sluggish. Save your water for a halfway break or the end of the workout. This gives you something to work towards and teaches you to remain disciplined.

Invest in some weights or a resistance band.
Home workouts are great but at some point, you’re going to need to up the stakes so that you keep pushing your body to do more. Invest in some dumbbells, ankle weights or a resistance band so that you can vary your movements. This will help you to keep challenging your body.

What are your tips for working out at home?

Staying active during the Coronavirus pandemic

A fifth of the world’s population is currently on lockdown, attempting to battle the deadly Coronavirus. This is a really crazy time that we are living in. Everything that is a reality right now feels like the sort of thing you learn about in A-Level Sociology or read about in dystopian novels. It’s crazy how quickly things can change and I think that we’ve all realised that over the past few weeks.

Thankfully in the UK, we are still being allowed to leave our houses. This means that we can keep active by going for walks or runs once a day. I know that for a lot of people, me included, this is one of the only things keeping me mentally sane. It hasn’t even been a week since this happened and I’m already going a bit loopy. I hate to be one of those people complaining that they’re bored but there are so many things that I already miss.

There is the mentality that lockdown is going to make us all put on extra weight. Surprise, surprise I don’t think this should be the case! Being aware of what you’re eating is probably even more important now. Eating out of boredom is one of the easiest ways to put on weight and we do need to be mindful of this.

Weight aside, it’s important to keep your body moving! I don’t think that any of us really want to become couch potatoes during this time. We need to keep moving, exercising and staying fit to keep our energy levels up and fuel our minds so that they can be properly stimulated. If you’re thinking of learning something new during this period, then that’s great! Working out is a great way to exercise your mind and your body.

So please, try to do at least 20 minutes of exercise a day. It’s not much but it really will make a difference. Here are my exercise tips:

Pilates has a number of great low impact moves that are perfect to do at home. Pilates focuses on movements that improve your core strength and stability. It’s about controlling your motions and moving at a steady pace through your exercises. So although it can be low impact, it requires a lot of concentration and discipline. It’s therefore a great choice for working out quietly at home.

HIIT workouts have recently become one of my favourites. The exercises are a lot more demanding but this means that you can do shorter workouts and still achieve really good results. HIIT workouts are also a great way to get your cardio in (my least favourite type of training) because the exercises usually incorporate fast repetitions and you can easily include weights like dumbbells.

Upper body workouts on YouTube are also perfect for building up your arms, core and abs. Lots of girls focus only on legs and abs. You ask a girl what day it was at the gym and she almost always replies with “leg day” or “ab day”. As I’ve said before, I like to workout to achieve overall fitness. At the moment, I’m working a lot more on my upper body in order to build strength that can help me to do exercises like press ups and pull ups. It’s not all about lower body training for me anymore. It’s about strengthening the weaker parts of my body so that my overall fitness levels are higher.

What’s your favourite type of quarantine workout?