New Blog Series: Ten To Try In February

18 February 2018

 I'm having an absolute whale of a time getting back into blogging again, so what better way of celebrating that enthusiasm than with a shiny new blog series? Testing products is definitely one of the best parts of my job; purchasing something I've seen other bloggers rave about or being lucky enough to receive it as a PR sample, using it for the first time, falling in love, raving about it myself and then receiving those "the concealer you recommended has changed my life!" comments from viewers - it's just lovely!

My makeup bag, dressing table and bathroom feature a constant rotation of new items however they don't always feature anywhere online (mainly because I've been totally pants on the uploading front, my bad) and I'm really keen to change that. Sharing my love of beauty products was why I started blogging aged fourteen in the first place, so welcome to 'Ten To Try' - I'll be choosing ten new beauty bits to trial at the start of each month, and I'll check back in with you at the end to let you know how I got on.

For me this goes without saying, but it really means a lot to me so I just want to say it again: all reviews are 100% honest and all thoughts are 100% my own. Honesty and transparency are of the highest importance here on Meg Says (my full disclaimer is here if you wanna know more!) and basically, if I love a product then I'll tell you why it's the bees knees and if it didn't work for me then I'll explain why it isn't my cup of tea. Happy days!

1. Glossier Solution Exfoliating Skin Perfector - I'm a total Glossier fangirl so anything they bring out is going to get me excited, especially when it's also a liquid exfoliant! That being said however, my skincare queen Caroline Hirons isn't a fan of this and I really respect her professional opinion so I'm going to make sure I look past the completely adorable pink shimmery packaging and focus on the actual product within - it has bold claims, so let's put it to the test. P.S. you can get 10% off Glossier here!

2. bareMinerals DIRTY DETOX Skin Glowing & Refining Mud Mask - I was gifted this recently whilst at a breakfast meeting with bareMinerals and meant to use it that evening when I got in from London, but I must've been too cosy in bed watching Riverdale to have a pamper as this has sat in my 'must use soon' pile for a couple of weeks. I find mud masks really effective for minimising pores but am yet to find one that isn't drying (I thought the Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack was holy grail material but then it randomly starting making my skin really red, sad face) so we'll see if Dirty Detox can step up to the plate.

3. Trish McEvoy Liquid Face Colour - come through, cute little clicky pen in the prettiest pink I've ever seen! I love a liquid blush as most formulations simply melt into your skin and look completely seamless, and the PR also tells me that this lasts all day on her so I've got high hopes. My only hesitation is that it contains shimmer and sometimes I prefer just straight-up matte colour so I can add sheen exactly where I want it rather than the glow being focused on the apple of my cheeks as they're naturally very round and moon-like!

4. Dior Addict Lip Maximizer - I was about to start typing 'I've had this for AGES' when I realised that I can tell exactly how long I've had it for as I bought it at a World Duty Free event and filmed a haul... that was September 2016, and it's never been opened. How that ever happened I have no idea, but it just goes to show that this whole Ten To Try thing is much-needed! The lady at Dior completely sold me on this as she described it as a lip plumper that nourishes like a balm and gives a shine like a soft gloss, so a year and a half later I'll find out whether I agree or not!

5. Crabtree & Evelyn Goatmilk & Oat Bath Milk - Crabtree & Evelyn is a brand I've recently discovered after knowing about them for yonks but never actually trying anything from their range. So far I've been really impressed, mainly by the scents of their products which are genuinely some of the nicest fragrances I've ever had the pleasure of sniffing! This was specially developed for sensitive and reactive skin types, and come to think of it I actually used to drink goat's milk for a while when I was a child as someone said it'd help my eczema - so it kind of makes sense to me in a funny roundabout way and I can't wait to have a lovely soak using this.

6. This Works Stress Check Face Oil - my lovely friend Hannah gave me this for Christmas and I loved it on first impressions, so I'll be giving it a proper whirl throughout February. I do love most things I've tried from This Works so far, so expectations are high and I won't lie - the words 'Stress Check' are apt right now as I've been putting myself under a lot of pressure physically and mentally over the past year or so and can visibly see the toll its taken on my skin.

7. Soap & Glory Bright + Pearly Radiance Boosting Cocktail - when it comes to sheeny skin I don't mess about - give me ALL of the products that are going to make me look glowing with health, please and thank you very much! The term 'radiance boosting' definitely intrigues me and I'm interested to see how this performs both on top of moisturiser before I start my makeup as well as mixed into my foundation, which is my personal favourite way to use these kinds of shimmery liquid illuminators.

8. Institut Esthederm Lift & Repair Eye Contour Lift Patches - now, these are pricey little things so I promise to bear that in mind when writing my review at the end of the month, but if the Intensive Hyaluronic Serum from the same brand is anything to go by, they there's a chance that they could actually be worth the dosh. I've been trying the serum for a while and it's a total game-changer (let me know if you'd like a blog post) so it'll be really interesting to see how how well £50 eye patches perform!

9. Mary Kay Gel Semi-Shine Lipstick - trying new lipstick formulations is always fun, and even though it's still the middle of winter and I should probably be reaching for a nice berry red, recently I've found myself craving a pink lip (maybe it's seeing Gemma Collins on Celebs Go Dating with her iconic bubblegum pout, who knows?) and this Mary Kay number in 'Love Me Pink' really caught my eye. The word 'gel' in the name is making me feel as though it's going to be super nourishing and like it'll just glide onto the lips!

10. bareMinerals BAREPRO Performance Wear Liquid Foundation - I've been meaning to test this for a while and honestly have no clue why I haven't as I completely adore bareMinerals and this sounds like it could be amazing: it's a full-coverage, long-wearing foundation that's said to actually improve skin's texture over time. Their Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream is my fave barely-there base, so could this be its big sister?

PHEW. There we have it!

I think the main thing we've established is that I could talk for England - who writes 1,200+ words about products that they haven't even tried yet?! I just expressed to Will that I need to be way more concise otherwise the length of the actual review post might rival the Bible, and he suggested doing separate blog posts for each product at the end of the month - rather good idea actually, what do we think? I guess that way if you weren't interested in reading a review of the bath milk but really want to know what the foundation's like, you wouldn't have to scroll through tons of waffle to find what you're after? I say 'good thinking, Wilbur!' but please let me know your thoughts - so excited to start this!

Last-Minute Valentine's Gifts With Next Day Delivery

13 February 2018

Oh, the panic of having to buy a last-minute gift - whether it's your long-term girlfriend announcing "we're doing more than just cards this year, right?" despite you both JUST DOING CARDS for the past six years, or a new love interest you began seeing at the start of February dropping "I can't wait for you to open your present!" when you've got them precisely nada... we've all been there!

In the case that you're in a similar situation right now (or you simply forgot - don't worry, I won't tell) then you're in luck, as I've compiled a gorgeous guide and ensured that every item is available with next day delivery, along with an Instagram story packed full of extremely cute V-Day cards that you can write sweet nothings in.

£10 and under
Of course you don't have to spend a penny to make someone smile and feel special, but if you would like to get them a nice gift then that doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg either. I'd highly recommend checking out Jayne Tapp Design for personalised keepsakes - this The Day We First Met wooden card is such a sentimental gift that can be cherished forever. These adorable little Map In A Bottle keepsakes are under a tenner and are guaranteed to win you a big 'awww!' when your partner opens it up to see a tiny piece of vintage map that details a memorable location of your relationship.

Being in love does often feel like you and your significant other are in a little gang together, so why not celebrate that friendship with these Awesome People Club trinket dish and socks? If you live together, these marble and copper alphabet coasters with the initials of your names would be the perfect place to put your mugs of coffee when you're curled up on the sofa together watching Breaking Bad. If your wrapping skills need more than a day to nail, Oliver Bonas also offer gift boxes for £5.

If your favourite human is an avid reader and you'd like to give them a more love-focused book, This Modern Love by Will Darbyshire is a number one bestselling compendium of 21st century love and Love Notes by Tyler Knott Gregson is a simple and beautiful paperback of typewritten romantic poetry.

Are they a beauty addict? You won't go far wrong with any of these: Crabtree & Evelyn Rose Hand Therapy for hands you'll want to hold for even longer, Glossier Balm Dot Com in 'Rose' or 'Cherry' for lips you'll want to kiss even more frequently and the Rose Bombshell Bath Bomb from the LUSH Valentines range for... having a bath together, pretty much. Giant version here! On the subject of Glossier (get 10% off here), I have to mention the You fragrance as they have truly blessed us with the most sexy, salty and addictive scent - it's verging on an aphrodisiac and they've just launched a solid version, too.

£30 and under
Personalisation adds such a special touch, and Lisa Angel have such a beautiful range of jewellery - my favourite is either the Sterling Silver Interlocking Circles Necklace or the Beaded Bar Bracelet, both of which you can add your own touch to. Use code 'MEGSAYS15' for 15% off until the 28th February 2018 online or in-store (there are two in Norwich here, definitely give them a visit!)

How amazing would it be if you could see a map of the night sky at the exact pinpoint instant that you and your love met? Look no further - Posterhaste create Personalised Constellation Maps to commemorate a place, date and time along with a message of your choice. You'll need to order an unframed poster to ensure that it arrives in time, so use Valentine's Day Eve to pop into town and get it framed if you can - it'll look gorgeous mounted on the wall, there to remind you both of that fateful moment in time!

Everyone loves a good date night, but if dinner then the cinema is getting a little tired - can't believe I actually just typed that, dinema is the best - then perhaps consider giving the gift of inspiration with these 52 Date Night Cards. These cards feature date night ideas from the adventurous (go for a drive, making only left turns until you reach somewhere interesting) to the naughty-but-nice (pretend to be strangers at a bar) to the cute (go out for dinner and only eat dessert)... simple, and a great way of spending quality time together.

Seeing as lingerie is usually a classic go-to for this particular holiday I didn't feel this post was complete without! The best of the best are Agent Provocateur and Victoria's Secret, however if you're looking for a nice set under £30 then head to Freya Lingerie or Boux Avenue - they're currently running an offer for a free pair of knickers with a matching bra, so you can treat yourselves to this super pretty red Chloe set for just £26.

The Ted Baker Pretty Pearl collection is currently on a 3 for 2 offer at Boots so you can get the Body SoufflĂ©, the Body Spray and the Body Wash and still have some change with a twenty. The Body SoufflĂ© is my personal favourite - it leaves the skin silky soft and smelling like roses! You can find Ted Baker's full Valentine's gift selection (for him, for her and for anyone) right here

£50 and under
I'm a firm believer that you can never go wrong with a candle, and the Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede Home Candle is one of the most deliciously romantic and warm scents out there. Jo Malone also do bespoke gifts which you can find here, and their Valentines selection is here. Another candle that I'm completely in love with at the moment is the Crabtree & Evelyn Home Comforts, it honestly smells so divine and inviting that I can't image anyone who wouldn't love it - Will is obsessed!

Fragrance is another 'always welcome' pressie, and the Guerlain Mon Guerlain Eau De Parfum is a real beauty. Inspired by Angelina Jolie, this floral and oriental scent is beautifully feminine and has all of my favourite notes - jasmine, vanilla, lavender and sandalwood. Escentual also stock the matching shower gel and body lotion, too.

A gift that keeps on giving is the Look Fantastic Beauty Box Subscription, as you can spend as little as £15 for a one-off box or closer to £40 for three months of sell-out beauty must-haves - who else can say that their other half got them a Valentine's Day present that's still arriving in the post weeks and weeks after February 14th? I go through the entire contents of an LF beauty box here if you're interested in reading more.

Last but not least is a Daniel Wellington watch, my personal pick is the Classic Petite Melrose, although they're currently running an offer where you get this super sweet heart charm when you purchase any leather watch - I'd go for the Classic Petite Sheffield.

There we have it! Whatever your budget, I hope this post helps you find the perfect present for the apple of your eye and that you have a wonderful Valentine's Day together. If you're like Will and I and you just do cards, head over to my Instagram and watch my story for lots of seriously cute card options. Peace and love!

Late Night Ramblings Of A Blogger Who's Trying Their Best

9 February 2018

One thing I've learnt about myself in the past year is that I'm a big bottler-upper, and the only way I can think to describe it as is that my mind is like Blue Planet. If anyone watched the latest series, I'm sure I wasn't alone in thinking "holy crap, who knew all of that was going ON down there?!" every episode, and that's kind of what I'm like; I'm still as cool, glacial water to look at but underneath that surface it's pretty chaotic.

I have what feels like ten thousands thoughts a minute (which then get overthought into oblivion in turn, naturally) and yet I keep it all inside and don't say a word, whether that be 'in real life' or online. I spoke in this video about how one of my resolutions for 2018 is to adopt the 'a problem shared is a problem halved' approach, as bottling everything up and dealing with it all on your own is when the bottle goes full throttle, my friends.

So, it's currently 2am - my insomnia is being evil at the moment - and in the spirit of sharing and being more open, I just wanted to have a little chat. I feel as though I've spent the past year or so in a real rut, almost as though I haven't experienced the time fully; I've been a passenger in my own car rather than the driver, who was always waiting for something around the next bend to make me as happy as I 'should' be, but the road just continued as normal and before I knew it that car journey was a year-long trip to nowhere.

Now, I'm probably being a little harsh on myself (nothing new there) but I genuinely think 2017 was one of my worst years. As earlier mentioned I tend to keep myself to myself so I'm not sure if this was palpable at all, but I spent the whole year feeling anxious and incompetent and really unhappy within myself. There were glimpses of sunshine in-between the dark and gloomy clouds - any time I was in Will's presence, sunbathing on a rooftop in the Italian countryside with friends, meeting my cousin's newborn baby boy - but whenever I was by myself I felt very much that; alone.

I won't go into all of the reasons why (it would be so easy to, let me tell you, but I've been in the blogging game long enough to know that you have to tell yourself that even though it feels like you're spilling your heart out to your diary and your diary alone - you're not, it's the internet!) but a substantial one is definitely my health. Having lived with a chronic illness for years I'm sort of used to it, but sort of not. I know it inside out and yet it still shocks me with how relentless and painful and lonely it can be.

Frustration is my current main emotion with regards to my illness, as I can see everything I want to achieve right in front of me but I don't have the energy, and it really is as simple as that. I just don't have the energy. Earlier today I went to send Will a quick WhatsApp about booking in another appointment with the lady who's booking our trip at the weekend, and I physically couldn't get my fingers to work properly as I was so fatigued. I'd already had the usual inner battle that I have with myself every morning where I'm torn between cracking on with my to-do list and putting my already weak body under further strain, and it was one of those moments where I thought "I've given up hope of filming any new videos which breaks my heart, I'm meant to be moving house this week and literally all I've done so far is fold a few clothes from my wardrobe and now I can't even text my boyfriend". Having a disability that controls your life, makes decisions for you and takes away opportunities is so tough and my whole heart goes out to anyone who lives with that, too.

I know I said it before in this video, but I really do feel as though I need to re-find my feet with YouTube and blogging as a whole. You may have noticed that uploads have been really sporadic on my channel (who remembers when I had a twice-weekly upload schedule that lasted all of about five minutes?) and that's mostly because of my physical health and partly because of my mental health. My body beat me up from the inside out and when it infrequently but eventually gave me a little respite, my good old overthinking brain told me that every idea I had was useless, old news, not worth it - and I listened good and hard.

Now it's time to start telling myself good and hard that what I do is meaningful and does have a purpose! Even if it's 'just' an everyday makeup routine that isn't filmed as professionally as a 'proper' beauty guru's and despite the fact that I've watched ten million tutorials I still can't do winged liner, that one heartmeltingly sweet comment from a viewer who tells me that it took their mind off their crappy day for fifteen minutes is what counts.

I've been trying (and succeeding, yay!) in 'retraining' my brain to be kinder to me and get out of the rut I've found myself in, and even just typing away about what's been on my mind in my current sleep-deprived state feels helpful - so if anyone would like some classic chatty Meg-with-a-cup-of-tea videos about picking yourself up and dusting yourself off, holla!

Jeans | Slippers | CushionThrow | Diary | Book
Photos by Megan Duffield Photography