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There are some blogs that I read and whilst I enjoy immersing myself in their world, it is in fact just that, a totally different world. I’m not denying that I enjoy learning about their latest designer purchases but beyond that I sometimes struggle to relate to them as a reader.

Erika Fox is no such blogger. Her blog is largely focused on affordable, hight street fashion and she does a sterling job at proving that you don’t have to break the bank in order to look a million bucks.

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To my great delight she also has a YouTube channel where she produces a range of videos from vlogs and apartment tours to outfit videos. 

Originally from Ireland she is in fact living proof that if you have a dream, to move to a big city and establish a career in something you’re passionate about, then you can do just that. In fact she has produced several blog posts and Q&A videos on her experience of relocating and is always so willing to provide any information and answer any questions if you’re wanting to do something similar.

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What with her impeccable and sophisticated style and signature red hair, this lovely lady from The Emerald Isle is a shining example of what you can achieve through hard work and determination.

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So, if you’re like me and are always on the look out for a new blog to add to your reading list then I can’t recommend Retro Flame more. What’s more, if at the moment you can only dream, like I can, of moving to The Big Apple, then you can vicariously live through Erika for now.


Everyday Makeup Routine

Now, in an ideal world I would have someone here to help take artsy shots of me doing my makeup and proper close ups. I live alone and only have two hands so alas there will be no fancy shots here, but instead a simple honest breakdown of the products I use and tips I’ve picked up over the years.

I also struggle with extremely poor lighting in my flat, wood panels, parquet floor and brown bathroom tiles are not ideal when trying to achieve good lighting! The before and after pictures were taken in the same light so that the true effect of the makeup can be seen.


Baby wipes

Estée Lauder Double Wear in sand

Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Flawless Wear Concealer in light/medium

No7 Perfect Loose Power in translucent

Real Techniques Powder Brush 1401

The Body Shop Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder 

Estée Lauder brush – part of a gift set

No7 Match Made Powder Blush in peony mist

Estée Lauder Eye Shadow Palette – part of the free gift set that I received years ago so it isn’t actually for sale.

Benefit Gimme Brow Volumising Brow Gel in medium

Benefit They’re Real Mascara  in black

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I always tie my hair up and put a hair band on: This avoids getting makeup in my hair and ensures I blend my foundation right to the edges of my face.

Having applied my moisturiser and primer, onto the back of my hand I squirt roughly three or four pumps of Estée Lauder Doublewear. 

This foundation really does provide flawless coverage, but it is requires a lot of blending in to ensure it is evenly distributed over the skin and there are no dark patches. I also always take it down to the base of my neck too as no one wants the classic jaw bone foundation line.

I then apply concealer to my under eyes and over any patches that need extra coverage. I have quite a few acne scars that need more than just foundation to cover them.

At this point I use a baby wipe to wipe any excess foundation off the back of my hands, from my eyebrows and my lips. Then I wash my hands properly with soap and water as this prevents me from getting foundation over all my makeup products.

To set my foundation I apply loose powder all over my face and then (attempt) to lightly contour my face using bronzer and the Estée Lauder brush. I’ve only recently tried my hand at contouring and as such have yet to buy a suitable brush, but a tip I’ve learned is to push the sides of the brush into a thinner shape (see below) as this simulates the look of a line. After this I apply blush to the balls of my cheeks but make sure to sweep it across the cheeks.

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I then apply a lighter shade of eyeshadow to my lids, two small dots in both corners of my eyes and a little sweep under my bottom lashes to brighten my face up a bit.

All that’s left is to apply my mascara and brow gel. Both of the Benefit products I use on my brows and lashes are incredible. My brows stay in place all day and the mascara is the only one I’ve found that doesn’t drop during the course of the day.

BEFORE                                            AFTER


BEFORE                                                 AFTER

BEFORE                                            AFTER

I hope this was relatively useful, and if not at least you can join me and laugh at the fact that I have voluntarily put pictures of myself in my worst state on the Internet for all to see: No bra, no makeup and baggy pjs!


I’ll be honest, blogging when you’re on a budget is tough.

There was a time when I would idle my money away on the latest trends and beauty fads but reality struck and I was suddenly faced with having to pay rent over spending £60 on the latest moisturiser. In the spirit of this I decided that instead of writing a post based on my non-existent latest purchases I would turn the focus on products that I’ve recently run out of. I seemed to run out of lots of things in a small amount of time over the past few weeks, does that happen to anyone else?!




  1. First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads

This isn’t the first, nor will it be the last time I sing the praises of these exfoliation pads. Gentle but effective, these pads manage to get every last scrap of makeup off my face – even when I think I’ve washed it all off.


2. Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm

In the realm of beauty wonders I feel that this product has fallen at the wayside somewhat. It is barely spoken of today but was all the range two or three years ago. I have stuck with it though as it melts even the toughest foundation, Estée Lauder Double Wear I’m talking about you, straight off your face.


3. Body Shop Aloe Soothing Night Cream

This is another product that I’ve been using for years and years. It isn’t oily or sticky on but gentle and soothing on the skin. Absorbs really well and doesn’t leave you feeling like you don’t want to put your face on your pillow, no one wants that after a long day at the office.


4. Body Shop Seaweed Oil Balancing Toner

The fact that the bottle I have is the old version of this product is testament to just how long it lasts. The minute this hits your skin you can instantly feel its cooling and soothing properties.  I tend to use this first thing in the morning if I don’t wash my face straightaway or after a workout to wipe away droplets of, well, sweat (there’s no pleasant way of saying that).


5. Batiste Dry Shampoo Tropical – Coconut & Exotic

Firstly, the smell of this is d-i-v-i-n-e. I honestly buy this specific type just for the smell alone. There are times when I’ve used this in the morning and forgotten to put perfume on but you wouldn’t know thanks to this.

Smell aside, this product is the ultimate life saver for adding a bit of volume, and removing a bit of grease, from my hair.


6. Benefit Gimme Brow

This will revolutionise any otherwise naked and scant brow. I know some find it on the pricey side for such a small amount of product but it’s just phenomenal. It’s long lasting and as well as giving my brows definition and volume I also find that it sets them in place for the day.


Now to decide which one of these I can’t live without the most and go on a little Boots trip…


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Cupcakes and Cashmere was the first blog I ever religiously followed. It became the highlight of my day and I couldn’t wait to get home after school to read Emily’s latest post. As is only natural, it has changed somewhat since then, she’s got married, had a lovely little girl but I think the fact I’m still reading her blogs five years later is a testament to my admiration for her.

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I was that much of a fan girl that I sent her an email – approaching five years ago – to tell her how much I admired her, cringe! To my absolute delight she replied personally and I still have the email saved somewhere. She’s always been a great source of inspiration and sure it only took me half a decade to get round to starting my own blog but I got there eventually.

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Out of all the blogs I read I find Emily’s style to be the most functional and relatable i.e. I could see myself wearing practically every outfit she puts together. Alongside this, whilst some of the pieces she wears are more high-end, many of the pieces she wears are affordable.

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Her blog is brimming with variety, from homeware to recipes, outfits to skincare, so there’s definitely something for everyone. The posts on her blog are always written so eloquently and feature equally high-resolution images.

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These are some of her most recent posts that I’ve loved reading:

How I’m Learning To Open Up On Social Media

Five Things – this series has always been one my favourites!

How To Motivate Yourself To Workout At Any Time Of Day 

I Wore The Same Thing Every Day For A Week

If you’ve never stumbled across this gem of a blog then you can thank me later ;).


Current Favourite Vloggers

YouTube became a daily part of my life during my year abroad, which part of me is ashamed to admit as the last thing I should have been doing was sitting in my room glued to a screen, but alas, I was lonely and I spent many an hour watching a whole host of different videos.

Unashamedly I now have a video on at many points during the day – when I’m putting my face on first thing in the morning, cooking, washing up etc. It’s my way of escaping the mundane aspects of my life and living vicariously through someone else.

Negin Mirsalehi

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Possibly one of the most beautiful women on the planet, there isn’t one video on Negin’s channel that I haven’t yet watched. Her videos have been made even more addictive with the her addition of her absolutely scrumptious furry friend: Moosey. Watching her videos you can’t help but be infected by her charisma, charming personality and humour.

You can watch my favourite of her videos here.

Ashley Brooke

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A true Southern belle turned city-slicker this lady is living her best life, and my dream life for that matter. A picture-perfect NYC pad, admirable work ethic and a sweet as pie boyfriend; she’s living the dream.

You can watch my favourite of her videos here.

Rhiannon Ashlee

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This young mum has been on my watchlist for years, back when she wasn’t a mum for that matter, but a twenty-something year old like myself. She’s very relatable and down-to-earth and just over a year ago had her little mini-me Delilah, and since then it’s been heartwarming to see the bond they have.

You can watch my favourite of her videos here.


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Bubzvlogz has yet to produce a vlog that hasn’t literally made me laugh out loud, or spit out whatever I may have had in my mouth at the time. Juggling two young kiddies, two (very fluffy) dogs and a husband with a larger than life personality, she does it all, and still manages to see the bright side of every situation.

You can my favourite of her videos here.

If anyone has any other recommendations then please let me know, I’m always looking to expand my repertoire.

Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation

If there was ever a beauty product deserving of every one of its accolades then it’s Estée Lauder Double Wear.

It is only the second foundation I have ever used and I can safely say that it will probably be the only one I will ever use, yes, it’s that revolutionary.


So, what does it claim?

  • 24 hour staying power

Yes, the stuff literally does not budge from your face. I put mine on at 7am and at 9pm it looks like I’ve just had it on for a couple of hours.

  • Flawless all day

I have a fair few patches of pigmentation on my cheeks, however most of the people I see on a regular basis probably have no idea as thanks to this beauty marvel they’re not even visible.

  • Stays fresh and looks natural through heat

This foundation got me through my year abroad in Italy. I may have appeared to struggle in the 32 degree heat, but at least it didn’t show on my face.




There has to be at least one drawback to it though, surely?

Well yes, it’s 24 hour staying power may be considered by some to be a negative aspect about it. Let me elaborate. It’s hard to remove, really hard. It requires at least a double cleanse, ft. your best scrubbing action, and even then I still like to wipe my face with a First Aid Beauty Radiance Pad.

This next point isn’t necessarily a downfall but more of tip for when you’re applying it. Blend, blend, blend. As it quite literally stains the skin, to achieve that flawless finish you have to be so thorough in making sure that you blend it evenly into every part of your face. If you don’t then it can be patchy and appear uneven.

If you thought I was just going to rave about the foundation then think again, the concealer is just as effective. Goodbye dark under-eye circles and hello fresh faced look (even though you’re running on 5 hours sleep and feel like death).

Maybelline Color Show

This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this nail varnish, but since this post I’ve added two more colours to my collection.


From left to right:

Urban Coral

Peach Pie


This nail varnish is long-lasting, affordable and it dries extremely quickly (bit longer than the 60 seconds it claims to take…)







I reach for the peach one when I’m going for a more demure look, the coral colour is perfect for a saturday night or special occasion and the magenta one would no doubt be my holiday nail colour of choice.

If anybody has tried any of their other colours then please let me know – a girl can never have too many nail varnishes after all.