Ten Years of Meg Says

7 March 2024

Ten years, and for one of the first times in my life, possibly ever, I’m not about to talk about how its gone in “the blink of an eye” or how it feels like “just yesterday” - no, in fact, it feels every inch like a full decade to the day since I started this very blog and my whole online journey (yep, we’re three lines in and the j-word has already made an appearance)...

I'm currently on the train from London to Norwich as I'm heading back for Mother's Day weekend, the train gods have blessed me with a table seat to myself and the capital's skyline is in the rearview as I rattle towards my home and family. I wanted to wait until the actual anniversary to write this, so I can capture exactly how I feel right now. I recently turned thirty so we’re in a new decade, and not even if there was a ‘Mystic’ before my first name could I have predicted how much was going to change; I’ve moved multiple times, gained people, lost people, travelled, struggled, thrived, grown from a girl to a woman and found out just how much more I have to find out.

What would I have been doing in March 2014?

I’d have moved back home to Norfolk from Sheffield after being diagnosed with a debilitating chronic illness and rendered bedbound, on official medical leave from my university degree with a prognosis of ‘you might get better, you might never’, so… ‘good luck’, essentially. Not what I’d expected or hoped for at nineteen years old, but we all play the hand we’re dealt and I coped with this extreme change of health and circumstance in the only way I knew how: by writing.

By the age of seven I’d taught myself to touch-type on the family computer (remember those?) by literally typing out whole books that I’d set up on my mum’s recipe book stand, and I was obsessed with writing. Letters, pretend magazine articles, in my diaries (with 90s sparkly gel pen, most likely) and even my own attempts at books. It’s something that stayed with me throughout my teens, loving English Literature at college, and my twenties too with this whole online job that started initially with blog posts, before YouTube came along and I dove headfirst into creating video content.

I wrote those blog posts whilst bedridden and severely unwell, often unable to type more than a sentence or two at a time, so you can imagine how long it took to get enough ready to actually ‘start a blog’ - but start a blog I did! And there's no way I would've believed you if you'd said I'd one day go full-time with it, or that I'd go into presenting or any of the opportunities that came from taking that leap. The below is an excerpt from the first post that I ever hit publish on, and it’s so interesting to me to read it back a decade later to the day, as my hopes for my blog are evident:

In a way I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that Meg Says reaches literally millions of people, and show her some of the messages she’ll receive from other chronic illness sufferers. I could say that she won’t be stuck in bed forever and will even travel the world with a backpack for almost a whole year… but on the other hand, I’m so glad that she got to grow and discover all of those experiences for herself.

In my introduction in early March 2014, I wrote: “writing my first blog post feels equal parts daunting and exciting” and ten years on, let’s look at those two adjectives and how they pertain to my life and job now:

Daunting, is it still daunting? Of course, especially when you consider that last year I made the huge decision to share a mental illness that I never could’ve imagined I’d have in 2014, which is my struggle with addiction. I’ve always been vulnerable online in talking about my health, but that took ‘sharing’ to another level and it wasn’t lost on me that I’d be opening myself up to judgement, criticism, speculation, the whole roster. So daunting, yes - I know all about that but hey, feel the fear and do it anyway.

Exciting, is it still exciting? That’s one thing it has never stopped being. For example as we speak, my videos are going semi-viral on TikTok, no day is the same! Blogging has taken me to some incredible places, like Tom Daley’s dressing room as I prepared to interview him (alongside the one and only Claudia Winkleman) and making a wee appearance on an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and on ‘pinch me’ press trips with brands that I could only have dreamed of working with once upon a time. 

There have been ups and downs, fast-paced months where I’ve had more sponsored content deadlines than I could shake a stick at and many months where nothing came in at all and I wondered whether it was time to give up on the dream, say “well, it was fun whilst it lasted” and get a ‘normal’ job. The clock never struck on that time and I’ve managed to keep the lights on during the quiet times, and have the adventure of a lifetime during the heyday! 

Throughout it all, you as an audience have been my constant and I say it a lot but probably still not enough, so please know how deeply thankful I am. Whilst my health has improved, it’s still a daily struggle and I’m always conscious that traditional employment would be difficult or even impossible for me, so I am forever grateful for the flexibility that this brings - it quite literally would not be possible without you <3

What started as a lifeline during medical leave, a little side project to keep my mind occupied whilst my body was failing, has ended up being one of the biggest joys of my life and whenever I tell someone how I got started, the phrase ‘silver lining’ often comes up from the other party and that’s exactly what it is. A ray of sunshine during the greyest of days, the first daffodil after the longest winter… all of the analogies that essentially tell you that you, and this, makes me so incredibly happy and I hope that I’m fortunate enough to do it for another ten years, for as long you’ll have me, really.

The Product I'm Dubbing 'My Perfect Foundation'

26 November 2019

Benefit Hello Happy Soft Blur Foundation

Described as
"a smooth, flawless makeup base [with] light to medium coverage"

Meg says...
A foundation drop from one of my favourite beauty brands promising to be my "daily mood boost bottled" along with lightweight coverage? Yes, yes, triple yes. I'm constantly on the lookout for my perfect foundation and whilst I think I've found it in the Yves Saint Laurent Teint Touche Éclat, there's no harm in continuing that good old holy grail makeup base journey - so bring it on, Benefit!

Just downright adorable. Who gave Benefit permission to be this cute? The warm copper rose gold lid and nude base would've been enough on their own, but they've only gone and put an actual smiling face with loveheart eyes on it... it's almost too much. Continuing with the extremely cute theme it's small and dinky, but you get an average 30ml of product and it's the ideal smash and leak-proof bottle for travelling. The nozzle applicator means you can squeeze out just the right amount of product, and I do this directly to my face in little dots.

This has a beautiful soft gel formula that sits bang in the middle between thin and thick, as it won't run down your face but it holds its own! Give the bottle a little shimmy and a little shake before applying to ensure the product hasn't separated.

I couldn't find this more easy to apply and find it blends perfectly with a buffing brush like the Look Good Feel Better Multi-Tasking, something more traditional like the Brushworks Foundation Brush, a sponge like the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge or fingers. All of these techniques work equally well and the coverage is buildable so you can add more where you need it without worrying about caking.

I get a slight clean apricot fragrance from this that disappears once it's on the skin, but I've read quite a few reviews that say they notice no discernible scent.

I use Shade 1 and find it such a perfect match - it's the kind of shade that practically disappears as soon as it touches my skin and I never have to worry about telltale 'tide marks'. This comes in twelve shades altogether however, so not the widest range.

An evened-out complexion that looks fresh and healthy. This covers imperfections like dark circles or blemishes without eclipsing my freckles, making it one of the most natural-looking foundations I've ever tried. Even up close in a magnifying mirror it looks sheer and fairly undetectable and feels just as lightweight and breathable also. The finish is a radiant matte with impressive staying power, and I'd feel confident about applying this without a mirror which is the highest praise for a foundation in my opinion!


The bottom line
L-O-V-E. This is up there with my beloved YSL as a contender for my perfect foundation! I'm always so consistently happy (just like the fella on the packaging) with the way it makes my skin look and for that reason, it'll be in my everyday makeup bag for the foreseeable future.

Photos by Megan Duffield Photography

10 Things You Should Know Before A Campervan Trip

8 November 2019

1. You may as well have ‘TOURIST’ tattooed on your forehead. Nothing says ‘I’m on my gap year!’ more than a converted minivan in a hideous colour combo (Jucy - full review here - I’m looking at you) and you’ll be longing to blend in with the locals in their lovely plain trucks that aren’t neon with a silly slogan like “do you believe in love at first sight, or should I drive by again?” on the side. The only upside maybe is driving past a fellow backpacker in a Wicked camper that has Scooby Doo smoking a joint painted on it and thinking ‘…thank god we’re not in that'.

2. You know how you used to go to the beach and at the end of the day you’re just dying to get home and have a shower? Well, the beach becomes your shower, whether that’s a dip in the ocean or (if you’re lucky) in one of those free outdoor ones. You’ll remember running water that’s actually hot with fondness, have to sweep a ton of sand out of your bed every night and won’t think twice about whipping out your Gillette Venus to shave your legs in front of strangers. 

3. You don’t have to live off instant noodles. I love an instant noodle pot as much as the next person (really I do, I actually have a proper thing for them!) but you essentially have a mini-kitchen in the back of your car and it’s a real shame not to put it to good use. Not only is it the cheapest option (you can get four gas canisters at Cole’s for $5, then just search online for inexpensive one-pot recipes) but it’s really fun, too - my fondest memories of our east-coast road trip in Australia are cooking a hearty meal and then sharing it together.

4. You kinda have to be okay with creepy crawlies. From a giant huntsman spider making its web on your left wing mirror to a huge monitor lizard roaming around your campsite, you’re likely to see a whole host of wildlife on your trip. When you’re sleeping outside things tend to go bump in the night, whether that’s a possum on your roof or a bush turkey (known by locals as “bin chickens”) ripping apart your rubbish bag. Whilst it’s annoying to have mosquitoes and moths all up in your grill, you do eventually stop jumping at every single rustling noise.

5. Making friends requires a little more effort! When you’re staying in hostels meeting people is a given; it happens constantly and you’re bound to find someone that you click with. On a road trip however it’s just you driving from place to place, so you have to create opportunities for new friendships. We met our newfound mates mostly in social settings (in bars, playing pool etc) and also largely in campsites - never be afraid to say “we’re having a fire later if you fancy coming over for a drink”, as in our experience it always led to a really nice time!

6. Living on wheels means thinking about parking constantly. Obviously when you check into campsites (download WikiCamps ASAP) and are in rural areas or small towns then everything’s gravy, but cities can be a nightmare. Bear in mind that parking laws are likely to be different to your home country, too - we once got slapped with a $112 fine for parking front to curb rather than rear to curb. Totally legal spot in a cute little Aussie town centre, just popped into a shop to buy my dad a birthday card… $112 fine! Double check your parking signs, people.

7. You won’t realise how big a country is until you drive the length of it. Some countries are absolutely gorgeous to drive - take New Zealand for example, every corner you turn looks like a screensaver desktop - and others are a heck of a lot of highways and nothingness. Ways to make driving less tedious and actually really enjoyable include: good music (I’m a big fan of the ‘Songs To Sing In The Car’ playlist on Spotify), good conversation (e.g. travel with someone who you get on ridiculously well with) and good podcasts (my current favourites are Table Manners and Jules & Sarah).

8. You’ll become an expert at packing quickly. Overslept and wanted to be on the road by 8am? No problemo - the fiddly camper van bed-to-car routine that you couldn’t work out on Day 1 is now an absolute doddle, and Yesterday You did Future You a favour by washing up the plates and pans from dinner last night, yay! In the beginning it takes you twenty minutes to get the table and camping chairs out for your morning muesli, and by Day 5 you’re whipping breakfast together and having everything all packed up again before you can say “Scooby Doo smoking a joint”.

9. Quarters are close. If you’re travelling solo then please feel free to skip to #10, but if you’re not - I’m here to warn you that things are about to get intimate. I’m sure the person you’re embarking on this road trip with is someone you know well anyway, but prepare to know them in more depth and detail that you ever thought possible. The phrase ’24/7’ springs to mind and it could be make or break in some situations, so make sure you’re ready for that level of closeness.

10. Sometimes it all gets a little too much. Well done if you recognised that Shawn Mendes lyric there, you’re forgiven if not - sometimes camper van life is just a bit much. The weather can be a big factor: sometimes it’s unforgivably hot and you’re a sweaty mess who’s swatting mosquitoes and praying for cooler weather, then a cold snap arrives and you’re wearing so many layers that you look like Joey in that Friends episode where he wears all of Chandler’s clothes, shivering vigorously and praying for warmer weather. If you get sick of it, there’s no shame in booking an Airbnb for a night or two!

I know that reading this prior to your road trip might make it sound like a bit of a bummer, but remember that these are all of the things that I wish someone had told me and it’s therefore mostly stuff I would’ve avoided. What I can also tell you is that I’m happy for you just typing this, as travelling by camper van is such a flexible, convenient and downright amazing way to see a country and you’re about to have an unforgettable trip of a lifetime - bon voyage!

The Amazing-Sounding Cleanser That Left Me Super Underwhelmed

5 November 2019

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Cloud Cleanser

Described as
"a non-stripping, fragrance-free formula that gently removes makeup, excess oil and impurities whilst moisturising skin"

Meg says...
I'm finally trying a Peter Thomas Roth product and boy, am I ready! Most of this eagerness and enthusiasm is fuelled by The Anna Edit and her rave reviews of the Pumpkin Enzyme Mask, plus the sound of this marshmallow-infused cleanser has me all riled up. In an 'incredibly excited about trying some a new skincare brand' way, of course.

I'm such a big fan - it's simple and no-fuss but pretty at the same time. I love the pale blue and there's something about the cloud print that makes me think of Ariana Grande which, let's be honest, is never anything but a positive.

This has a creamy-gel consistency that reminds me a lot of the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, just considerably thicker. They both have the same 'shiny' texture - it's super hard to explain, check Really Ree's review here for a close-up photo - and have quite a liquid soap feel to them.

Under no circumstances should you apply this to dry skin, as the soapy quality has a tendency to 'drag' and is much better suited to damp skin. It's more similar to a gel cleanser than a cream, foams when you massage it in and rinses off with water. I'm not keen on foaming products at all as I usually find them stripping, and unfortunately this is no exception. The description says it can be used to remove makeup but I had an awful 'oww, I'm basically rubbing soap into my eyes and it really stings' experience when I tried and see it as a basic face wash rather than a first/second cleanse or makeup remover.

Another gripe for me, sadly. This is fragrance-free, which will be amazing for sensitive skin types, but has a strong soapy chemical scent that I personally find really unpleasant.

Skin that feels clean, but uncomfortably so - after I've used this my face feels tight and 'squeaky' and I can't apply serum, oil or anything that moisturises to compensate for the tightness quickly enough. Whilst I don't feel like this would be a great option for anyone whose skin leans more oily or more dry, if you're firmly in the 'normal' category then you may really enjoy this as a morning or post-gym wash.


The bottom line
Bad reviews make me a sad reviewer, but honesty is key: I've given this a fair chance but find it doesn't do anything for my skin, and will therefore be passing it on to a friend (who may love it!) It's a shame as the description sounds so up my street - I'm a huge fan of anything with hyaluronic acid and the description that says it has "pure water vapour drawn from the clouds" had me weak at the knees. My skin was left dry and a little irritated and I'm much more inclined to use my trusty Fresh Soy Face Cleanser, but I can't wait to try more from PTR as I have a feeling this is a one-off thing!

Photos by Megan Duffield Photography