Friday, 31 March 2017

Monthly Makeup | March

It's been a funny old month for my makeup bag. I've had some pretty annoying skin problems which basically derailed a lot of my usual makeup choices and forced me to get a little inventive. I've been wearing less makeup than usual in order to focus on skin care and helping it heal.
I realise I'm being kind of vague about these "skin problems", but there's really no reason for that (look away now if mild skin conditions gross you out). I've had two separate allergic reactions; one to a primer from Clarins (which I was assured in-store was suitable as an eyeshadow primer) and another to a necklace.  I ended up with a horrible contact dermatitis rash on my neck and decolletage, and on my eyelids. MY EYELIDS. Do you know how hard it is to do your makeup when your eyelids are weirdly orange and kind of flaky? The answer is very. 
I actually reacted to the necklace way back in February and was prescribed a steroid cream and some anti-histamines. It was annoyingly itchy and left me with those dry, discoloured patches you get on my neck and chest. I figured cheap metal was officially out for me, but as the first ever allergic reaction I'd had, I thought it wasn't so bad. March rolls around, and while the rash from the necklace is loads better, it just isn't going away entirely, and then my right eyelid starts going the same way. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why - it's not as if I'd been rubbing cheap costume jewellery on my face. I was still using the steroid cream, so I was applying it extremely carefully to my eyelids at night and plastering the stuff on my neck as well. Naturally, this brought back my acne on my neck in a big way, for the first time since I had Roaccutane years ago. 
The doctor's answer was antibiotics, a topical acne treatment and more steroid ointment. She told me that the steroid ointment was aggravating my spots (which I'd already guessed) and to just not apply it to them. When I pointed out that the contact dermatitis and acne were in the same place, so how could I avoid them? She just kind of shrugged and kicked me out. I'm not a fan of that doctor. 
I've taken matters into my own hands. I've been using the steroid ointment on my eyelid very sparingly, and they're pretty much back to normal. I'm also taking the antibiotics, but I'm not convinced they'll do anything. Nothing but Roaccutane worked for my acne previously, so I very much doubt anything will now. I can't stand the topical acne stuff as it wrecks my skin and I'm fairly sure is making my dermatitis worse, while the steroid ointment will aggravate my acne. Instead, I've been applying liberal amounts of the Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Solution that I bought a while ago, and things don't seem to be getting worse, at any rate. I'm not sure where to go from here. I'm going to attempt to return to using the steroid ointment on my neck and try and go around the spots as they've begun to clear up a bit, so I'm hoping I can dodge them. But yeah, it's been a rough month for my skin.
In answer to my skin's cry for help, I've been pretty minimal with this month's makeup. I've been going for a cream eyeshadow because powder on dry, flaky skin is not a good look. The two I've been using most are the NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Yogurt (they spell it like that, not me) and the By Terry Ombre Blackstar in Bronze Moon. Bronze Moon is, predictably, a metallic bronze shade, while Yogurt is a pink-taupe. I've just been smudging these upwards from the lash line over the lid, along with copious amounts of mascara. 
For foundation, I've been all about the BareMinerals Foundation I bought with last month's pay cheque, as I figured my skin could probably do with something a bit lighter at the moment. What with the unseasonally warm weather we've had in Manchester this month, I've also been using my faithful Clinique SPF40 Super City Block. I stocked up last summer, which is just as well as it's been reformulated. When I run out I'll definitely try the new formula, as it's supposed to be translucent, which is fab because currently it's rather too dark for me and I have to blend the crap out of it and just accept that my face probably doesn't match my neck. I've linked the new version above as you can't buy the old one anymore.
I've been all about my lips this month, and it's safe to say that my old favourite MAC Chili has been a prominent feature for March.  It's the perfect orange-red shade that really flatters my skin tone, and the idea was that maybe people would be too distracted by my bright lipstick to notice my flaky eyelid and manky-looking neck. I'm not sure if it worked but it gave me the balls to actually go outside, and that's what matters. If I fancied something nude and less distracted, I of course reached for the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution in Very Victoria, a new favourite of mine. For a pink lip, I've been loving the NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Cannes of late. Both Very Victoria and Cannes are prizes in my one year of blogging giveaway, so if you haven't entered yet, you really should!
Shock, horror, I actually found time to do my nails this month! I am notoriously lazy when it comes to nails, frequently not bothering and only painting my toenails about twice a year. Since I was feeling pretty rubbish about my appearance this month, I decided that I could at least make my hands look pretty. The shades I've worn this month have been Barry M's Dark Side of the 'Shroom, which is an amazing taupe-purple, the pale pink shade that came with the March My Little Box, Smith and Cult's Bitter Buddhist, a lovely sage green that I wear a lot, and the OPI Lucky Lucky Lavender.
And that's your lot! As I said, I haven't worn a huge amount of makeup this month, and I suspect April will be much the same as I pray for my skin to recover. Wish me luck! Oh, the shoes that show up in some of the photos are these beauties from Topshop and I just wanted to use them in the photo. They're completely unrelated to the post but I love them so much that I was just determined to shoehorn (geddit?) them in somewhere. Points to anyone who spots some of the liberally used blu-tack.

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Wednesday, 29 March 2017

One Year On and Giveaway

Astonishingly, I started SpareOom a year ago today. It was born from a deeply unhappy place, providing me with a place to focus my energy and distract myself. My very first blogpost was a rather embarrassing March Favourites, with some particularly poor photography and lots of inane rambling. The rambling is still a feature, but I like to think I've upped my photography game. I don't think my blog has actually changed that much in the year I've been working on it. There have been peaks and troughs of content, both in volume and type. Autumn featured a lot of book reviews and an increase in content generally; Summer had lots of day trips and Boots hauls; and Winter was pretty quiet, as I upped sticks and moved back to Manchester. 

The year I've had SpareOom has been tumultuous, to say the least. A rough break up and months of misery led me to where I am now: happily in a relationship again, this time a healthy one, and in a job I enjoy. Sure, my life isn't perfect; I have less money than I did this time last year, and my plans for the future are far less concrete, but mentally and emotionally I am far richer. 

In the last twelve months I've read some incredible blogs and begun to chat to some amazing people, and while I'm a bit rubbish and lax about things like Twitter chats and interaction in general, I think I'm getting a bit better at the latter. After all, it's all about engagement, or so I'm told. Going forward I really want to try and participate a bit more. I'm working hard at my instagram and attempting to check in more and get involved with Twitter. The only problem I find is that by the time I've stumbled in from work and wolfed something down, all the Twitter chats seem to have ended! I think I need to start scheduling them into my evenings as actual things to do because then I might actually remember to join in.

Smith and Cult BItter Buddhist Swatch, Smith & Cult

SpareOom has provided me with a creative outlet to help alleviate writer's block when working on other projects. It's also served as an emotional dump, enabling me to talk about my feelings openly and without judgement (which surprised me, because the internet is famously unforgiving). SpareOom is still pretty small, which I don't mind at all. Like all of us, I'd love a wider readership, but it's not my focus. So long as I'm enjoying what I'm writing and I'm getting something out of it, SpareOom will continue

Charlotte Tilbury Very Victoria swatch, NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Cannes swatch
NYX Cannes swatched above, Charlotte Tilbury Very Victoria below

To celebrate a year of SpareOom, I'm hosting a giveaway. I decided I wanted to give away some of my absolute favourite products, which is why many of them you may have seen featured over the last year or so. It also made swatching and things much easier as I could just swatch my own and leave the winner's version pristine! It's everything you've seen in the pictures throughout this post, but in more concrete terms that's the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Very Victoria, which is a gorgeous nude tone that I adore; the NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Cannes, which is my failsafe pink lip; Smith and Cult's Nail Lacquer in Bitter Buddhist and a cute little trinket dish from what is possibly my favourite shop in existence, Oliver Bonas. The giveaway is UK only, unfortunately, and will end on the 30th of April. Good luck!

I hope you enjoyed this post and make sure you enter the giveaway below!

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Friday, 24 March 2017

Two Days | March 2017

I realised how little I talk about what I get up to on a daily basis, and on the off-chance that anyone is interested I thought I would rectify that. I quite enjoy reading about the things people get up to day-to-day, because everyone has such different daily routines that seem normal to them but I would never even think of doing. These sorts of things are best in vlog format, and while YouTube is something I would consider further down the line, it's not something I'm interested in pursuing right now. Instead, I snapped a few photographs over the course of two days and thought I'd talk you through the things I got up to, in a slightly more eventful than an average couple of days. Sunday literally just consisted of me going to the doctor and being prescribed loads of stuff for my skin, followed by general wallowing because my skin is mean to me. Fortunately, I was working from home on Friday, and finishing at 3pm, meaning that I actually go up to a fair amount in what ended up being a semi-day off. 


I worked from home all morning as a guy came from my letting agency about my leaky roof, who basically told me there was nothing he could do right now and then went away again. Fat lot of good he was. My fringe was in dire need of a trim, so I packed up my laptop and heading into Manchester city centre, which is about 10 minutes on the tram. I was just wearing some lazy weekend clothes; black jeans, extremely scruffy black boots in need of a clean, a Breton stripe t-shirt and my favourite orange-red coat with my little burgundy fossil bag, and my laptop in a Topshop tote bag over my shoulder. After getting the mop trimmed so that I could actually see again, I settled down in a Caffe Nero to work for a few hours. By work I mean work for half an hour, then get distracted and end up reading my latest purchase: The Curated Closet by Anushka Rees. I've since finished this book and loved it, and now need to win the lottery so that I can go back through it and follow all the steps to sort myself out with a brand new wardrobe.

By the time I had finished work at 3pm I was pretty sick of sitting in Nero, and while I could have just gone home I fancied a bit of a wander. Naturally, I ended up in what is my current favourite shop, Oliver Bonas. There's been a little Oliver Bonas in Piccadilly station for a while now, but they opened a big shop up near Lush and M&S earlier this month. I've always adored their homeware, and it's almost painful every time I go in because I want absolutely everything. I restrained myself this time and bought two little gold cactus print glasses, which are now my favourite thing in my flat. I took several pictures inside because, damn, that shop is gorgeous. I considered buying Cat Bingo for my Mum, but she has banned all cat-related gifts because her house is become a bit saturate with them. I kind of want the cat print for myself, as it reminds me of my cat back home who has no time for anyone's shit. After a brief wander around & Other Stories and Zara, I headed home and basically vegged out for the rest of the day watching the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.


Excuse the knackered selfie, but I find that putting a face to a name helps with personal posts like this. Saturday was a kind of early Mother's Day for me, as my Mum and I had tickets to see Elbow at the Apollo that night. She planned to drive to Manchester with a few bits from home that I needed (an airbed, two dresses, some sandals, a bag of compost, several plant pots, a shower curtain and several jars of Thai Red curry paste). She remembered all of that rather lengthy list, but just as we'd finished unloading the car and were congratulating ourselves on a job well done, she realised that she didn't have her handbag. The handbag with her money, phone and the tickets. While my Mother was kicking herself and I just found it funny, we postponed our plans for a late lunch and jumped back in the car to drive back to my Mum's. Fortunately, it's only about 40 minutes away when the traffic is good, which, astonishingly for a Saturday, it was. I went with her primarily because I wanted to see The Cat and also to actually spend time with my Mum since our time in Manchester was cut short by her impressive memory.

I always find it a bit weird going back to the room I grew up in and seeing it all beige and empty. Sure, there are still shelves filled with my books, but it just doesn't really feel like my room anymore. Clutter and I go hand in hand, and there just isn't any. I liberated several books and brought them back to Manchester with me so my slightly wobbly stack of books in my living room has grown. I got to see The Cat! Her name is technically Willow but I always seem to end up calling her The Cat regardless. She's about five now, but we're not sure since she was a rescue cat and we don't know anything about her background. She was basically a replacement for me when I went to uni so my Mum could feel like she didn't have an empty nest despite my brother still being there. I don't know who should be more offended; me for being replaced by a cat or my brother for being deemed insufficient company and a cat being required to supplement him. 

After making sure we definitely had the tickets this time, we headed back to Manchester for a later meal than planned at V Rev, Manchester's only 100% vegan restaurant. It's basically vegan fast food, and I think my Mum, who only became a vegan late last year, was craving a burger. She'd read rave reviews about how it was the best vegan restaurant going and it's won numerous awards, so it's safe to say our expectations were high. I'm not vegan or veggie, but I'm always open to new food and experiences so this was right up my street as well. Unfortunately we were actually a bit disappointed; V Rev didn't live up to the hype. My pizza fries were good, but my Mum's Vietnamese fries were cold. I had the the Jerry Zinger chkn burger, pictured, which was pretty decent! It didn't taste like chicken, but the hash brown and hot sauce combo was excellent. I just couldn't get past the texture of the actual burger; it wasn't like meat, which I wasn't expecting anyway, but the it made the whole burger a bit too soft and mushy. It needed a bit more variation in textures. My Mum felt the same way about her Return of the Mac Beefy burger, although she said that the sauce was amazing and it really did taste like a Big Mac. V Rev was okay, but I don't think either of us would go again.

After chilling at my flat and drinking tea for an hour or so, we drove over to the Apollo where we met up with a friend of my Mum's who is an absolute babe and always has me in stitches, so I was glad he was joining us as I hadn't seen him in several months. The Apollo is an old building that's quite grand on the inside, but I didn't manage to take any pictures aside from the one above from inside the Circle bar. I was excited to see Elbow again, as I last saw them at T in the Park yonks ago. They were even better live than I remembered, and they played all of my favourites, even the slightly less popular ones. My boyfriend and several of his friends were out for a birthday that night and I considered joining them, but I was that knackered after the day that my Mum just dropped me at home and I went straight to bed like a little old lady! I had an early start for my appointment the next day anyway, and it probably wouldn't have been good form to show up at the Doctor's hung over.

So there you have it! That was two days in my life! If this post goes down well I may do more like it as I actually really enjoyed putting it together. Peace out y'all (I am not American at all, I just like saying that).

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