So, the Clarisonic isn't working for me

It's the Easter holidays. I've got a day off work today (which is, by chance, one of the warmest days we've seen this year), and yet I'm slumped in bed with Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque daubed all over my stroppy face. I don't want to get up today. I don't want to have a shower or put make-up on. I was supposed to be going to the pub later, but that plan's gone out of the window because I don't want to see people - or, rather, I don't want people to see me.

My skin's gone to shit.

To be honest, my anguish isn't really directed at the spots. It's more about the fact that they seem to have been caused by a much-hyped, critically acclaimed, frigging expensive facial cleansing brush. Yep, my Clarisonic Mia has made my acne worse. Shocker. I didn't even buy it, but that doesn't hold back the disappointment.

The Clarisonic is supposed to be a wonder product that gives you flawless - and, some even claim, poreless - skin. I've been using it for almost two months now, and I've yet to see anything remotely wondrous besides the initial excitement when I first used it and it cleansed my skin so deeply that it almost glowed. But, broadly speaking, it's just been two months of acne hell. I'm not talking little spots either - I'm talking big, angry spots that lurk under the skin and take ages to come to a head (i.e. it takes a good 4-5 days until you're able to squeeze them into oblivion). They hurt to touch and to look at, and even with endless concealer touch-ups to diminish the redness my skin looks uneven and just... wrong.

I've been using the Clarisonic three evenings a week. I've tried it with different cleansers, but have found I get the best results (in terms of cleansing, rather than improving my skin) with La Roche Posay's Effaclar Foaming Gel Cleanser. Unless I'm super tired/drunk after using it, I clean my brush head after every use. Basically, I'm doing everything I need to do. WHY ISN'T IT WORKING?

The last thing I want to do is continue to use this extra large electric toothbrush on my face, but I'm going to persevere with it anyway because, despite being convinced the Clarisonic Mia is an expensive mistake, I still have glimmers of hope thanks to watching biased YouTube beauty videos. If you have any suggestions on how to save my skin, please help me.


I turned 21 last week. I decided it wouldn't be worth throwing any sort of party as, bar two of them who continue to represent the wonderful northern university scene, my closest friends are now based either at the other end of the country or in various European capital cities. Forever alone. Big groups of people make me anxious, so a party would probably have been nervous-breakdown-central for me anyway. 

Beauty by Design exhibit (Scottish National Portrait Gallery)
My favourite piece, Mito by Javier Palacios Rodriguez, from the BP National Portrait Award 2014 exhibit (Scottish National Portrait Gallery)

My boyfriend and I went to Edinburgh to celebrate the occasion. It was a bit of a whirlwind trip that largely comprised drinking amazing G&Ts and cocktails, hanging out in swanky bars, eating the sort of pretentious cuisine I usually roll my eyes at, and, of course, shopping. George Street, where we were based for two nights, is home to some of the loveliest shops, and when it all got a bit too posh the main high street (featuring a massive Zara, giving me the chance to buy the striped shirt I've been lusting after) was a 2-minute walk away. Overall it was a very glam affair, topped off with a trip to Edinburgh Zoo on the last day because fluffy animals make me happier than clothes ever could. I was really pleased to be able to finally see the BP Portrait Award exhibit at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery; Dan and I spent ages mooching around and gawping at everything in awe... so, so good. It was a long time coming as the exhibition actually came to Sunderland (of all places!) last year – my mum and I wanted to go but work/uni/life got in the way and we never got around to seeing it.

Returning to uni has been depressing to say the least; compared to Edinburgh's rich history and romanticism, Sunderland pales in comparison. However, I finish for the academic year in less than three months. Unclear if a 5+ month summer holiday is a blessing or a curse, but I'm definitely looking forward to lazing about, going to festivals (I'm thinking Latitude and Beacons again but who knows – I'm not a free-spirited kinda gal so don't like buying tickets until I've seen the full line-ups) and not having to live off oven pizza to make up for my otherwise decadent lifestyle choices.

Reflecting on 2014

I really hate talking about myself and my life – hence why this isn't an #ootd #selfie fashion blog – it makes me feel so self-indulgent/vain/embarrassed. However, the year is coming to an end, I'm bored and I feel the need to write some sort of reflective, end-of-the-year post. Also, coming home for Christmas to my parents' freezing cold house means I'm currently living in American Apparel thermals and am not really in the mood for fashion. So I'm going off-topic. Apologies in advance for chewing your ears off.

Last year, for reasons that are still unclear, I rejected an unconditional offer to study fashion journalism at the London College of Fashion and instead went to Manchester Metropolitan University to study fashion buying and merchandising.

In some ways, last year I was probably better 'banter'; I went out too much, remember too little and, er, rinsed my loan and £500 of my overdraft in the first month. But despite the constant socialising and the few 'proper' friends I made, I never felt happy and grew tired of making banal small talk with people I'd never see again once we all stumbled out of the same kebab shop at 5am. Manchester is a great city – it's massive and, for a fashion student, there's a wealth of culture and history to delve into – but it wasn't for me. MMU was too big and I just felt like a faceless statistic rather than a person; I would never have learnt the names of everyone in my lectures, as there were circa 300 of us, and none of the staff knew our names. Trying not to sound too much like a naïve girl from the countryside, the crime level was shocking to me – stories of friends and neighbours being mugged and raped on our street left me scared to go outside for a cigarette in the evening (my accommodation was next to a main road and my front door opened out onto a bus shelter... so beaut) – and when I had my iPhone stolen I had a breakdown of sorts and just wanted to leave. I stuck it out for a few more months, drowned my sorrows over Christmas time and moved out in January, luckily falling straight back into full-time work, and filling out my bloody UCAS form for the third time. At this point I was questioning whether to go back to uni at all as I was enjoying my fancy new job in fashion marketing and thought I wouldn't need to go back to uni. But my boss, who I always knew was a psycho, bullied me relentlessly and threatened to fire me over pathetic things like serving her tea in the wrong mug (for someone from Darlington, she was very fussy about crockery) or being too nice to a customer on the phone (her favoured maxim was 'the customer is always wrong', obvs). After three months of working in what I initially told my friends was "the dream job", I wanted go back to university. 
Three years after finishing my A-Levels, I am finally doing what I want to do at uni. As you may be aware, I'm studying Fashion Journalism at Sunderland University. Admittedly, LCF has always been my 'dream' university for a fashion journalism course – I applied to them twice, got rejected the first time (the UAL interview process is basically the art school equivalent of Oxbridge's, honestly) and received an unconditional offer from them last year, but for various reasons I chose MMU. Now, though, I'm glad I've stayed up in the north, not only for the financial side of things, but it's also nice to know I can just hop in the car and be home within an hour.

So, overall... a strange year, but a good one. I'm trying to be more positive lately as I've realised that a simple change of perspective is sometimes all you need. I'm done with bitchiness and feeling the need to comment on people I don't even know. I came home for the holidays yesterday feeling stressed out about work, but I realised when I got home that I'm actually very blessed (lovely friends, family, boyfriend, home etc) and don't really have the right to whinge about my workload or, indeed, about anyone else. "Work hard and be nice to people" is the best advice I've ever been given. If there's one thing I can't stand it's people who try to put other people down because, fundamentally, they're either jealous or just insecure. Stupid is as stupid does I guess. What Sally says of Susan says more of Susan than of Sally... etc etc. I hate the preconception that, as a woman, in order to be successful you need to be a bitch. From my experience, good manners will get you far further in life than being a gobshite. Just saying. 

This is totally turning into the blog equivalent of a nauseating 'feeling blessed' Facebook update, so I'm going to sign off. Have a lovely Christmas and remember that being nice is cool. xx

Lust list

xmas wishlist

High-neck striped top from Topshop
Stripes are essential. My boyfriend has observed that I "have so many stripey things it's hard to differentiate between them" – impressive, given the amount of time the average heterosexual man pays attention to what women are wearing. I have about 15 striped tops on rotation (as well as various striped dresses, skirts and accessories) but that won't stop me from buying another one. Like, this one has a different neckline and everything! Such a contrast to anything I've ever worn!
Coat from Topshop
As soon as autumn weather arrives, my sartorial fancies disappear and I spend a good half of the year wearing black jeans and mouldy jumpers from my mum. As a skint student, acrylic high-street jumpers are the only alternative to Mummy's wool and cashmere... so, for the sake of avoiding hypothermia, stylish high-street styles are ditched in favour of 'vintage' (i.e. outdated 80s) pieces from Hobbs and M&S. To cover up my lack of style, I rely on nice boots and coats to make me feel better about myself. As long as they're not bright pink or whatever, coats are timeless pieces that should be worn year after year. So it's worth investing in one that won't fall apart. I love this one from Topshop – it's expensive, yes, but oh-so beautiful. And textured!
Burberry scarf
Yesterday, the Sunday Times' Style claimed that the Burberry check "is back again after years in the wilderness". Well, either Londoners are a strange breed or the Sunday Times' writers are completely out of touch with street style. I constantly see people donning Burberry scarves and looking glam, and by 'people' I'm not talking about 15-year-olds sinking white cider after school. The 'chav' scene is over (or perhaps not, but it's at least graduated from Burberry). I happily wear massive gold hoop earrings now – something which would've had me castigated five years ago – so why not a Burberry scarf?
Shrimps coat
Reasons to love faux-fur brand Shrimps: 
1) One of Shrimps' ad campaigns last year featured a model wearing the Pallas coat and holding a fluffy dog
2) The designer, Hannah Weiland, once told Vogue that she came up with the brand name because, being a "small and pink" child, she was given the nickname 'Shrimps'. Cute.
There's something about faux fur that I love – the luxury, the infinitely flexible colour options and, of course, the cosiness – I wanted a Charlotte Simone Popsicle for ages, but real fur is gross.
Black cossack hat from Next
I love these hats. Last year I was unsatisfied with the Matalan cossack I'd been wearing – it just wasn't big or fluffy enough – so I went to Topshop and spent £25 on one from its SNO collection. I wore it to death and adored it. In December I went on my last 'uni' night out in Manchester, lost one of my shoes, came back to my flat, didn't sleep all night, hopped on a train to Leeds in the afternoon, had too much mulled wine at the Christmas Markets, got on a train home for the Christmas holidays... and left my cossack on the train. The shoe I lost on my night out didn't upset me, but losing the hat still upsets me. I want/need to get another one. 
Mondaine watch
It's 99% certain when you open your Instagram account on Christmas Day you'll be inundated with pictures of #my #new #Michael #Kors #watch. Could everyone ask Santa for an understated Mondaine watch instead, please, to make Instagram a chicer experience for everyone?

Thoughts on Hedi Slimane

NB: Going to get back into the swing of blogging as it's kind of a prerequisite for my university course. I don't have the energy to write anything new right now, so here is something I wrote a few months ago that has been sitting in my drafts folder. 

Something I never thought I'd find myself saying: I'm really feeling Saint Laurent's AW14 looks. Instead of just discussing the collection nearly a whole season too late, I thought I'd take a broader (and, admittedly, overdue) look at Hedi Slimane and his rebranding of YSL. 

Slimane is that arsey, apathetic guy in your secondary school maths class who slouched at the back of the classroom and took the piss out of anyone whose cheekbones weren't as sharp as his (read: everyone). In short, he's not really a likeable guy, and there are hundreds of articles online that corroborate this. Since taking the reins at YSL in 2011, Slimane has completely rebranded the iconic fashion house. Although this news still doesn't sit well with the more obstinate of the brand's die-hards, the rebranding has been a commercial success for the brand we now know as Saint Laurent (also known, in some formats, as Saint Laurent Paris and Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane, but the rules about which name to use in different situations are too finely-cut for me to explain). 

It wasn't just the logo that changed, though, as the YSL woman was transformed too – in fact, she became a teenage girl. Some of the big fashion brands, although gawped at by women under 40 on computer screens worldwide, thrive on designing clothes for an older clientele. It sort of makes sense, because the average 25-year-old's salary couldn't dream of accommodating the cost of a Chanel dress, but it consequently alienates a good chunk of the young fashion fans who find most of their labelled goods on eBay. Designer diffusion lines aren't the perfect solution, but they're a reasonable middle ground, providing a high fashion fix – usually with a younger aesthetic as well as a lower price – for rich kids and 20-somethings who are beginning to find their feet financially. Since Slimane started ripping Saint Laurent's 'exclusive' nature to shreds, you would be forgiven for thinking that the mainline clothes are diffusion line clothes. I maintain that his SS13 was simply an artful culmination of scraps from bargain bins in Lipsy, River Island and a fancy dress shop; a lot of the clothes looked like things you see misguided drunk girls wearing in Tiger Tiger, and overall it was very poor form from Slimane.

A lot of people booted off about Raf Simons when he started out at Dior. Being a massive fan of his work, I never understood it. When fashion critics bashed Simons for 'ruining Dior', all he was really doing was stepping back from Galliano's garishness (which, personally, I always hated, but I'm in the minority). When they bashed Slimane, however, for 'ruining YSL', it really did seem like he was ruining the brand. Before the rebranding, YSL catered for moneyed and elegant women, so it was difficult to see how these sophisticated ladies would be able to digest these tacky new pieces draped over doe-eyed, skinny-skinny girls. It wasn't just the existing clientele who Hedi alienated; it would seem that journalists are blacklisted by Saint Laurent (i.e. not allowed to the shows) if they show any inclination to not bow down at Slimane's throne, and runway critics, even if no longer allowed to write anything critical, have been pushed off their front row seats to make room for the designer's celebrity clique. 

Pretentious and stubborn he may be – and there's also the question of how long he can peddle his distinct, grungy 'I'm with the band' look before the concept becomes even more tired than it already is – but, even in the creative industries, it's the turnover that really counts. And Saint Laurent sells well. Although a lot of Slimane's stuff looks like it belongs in Topshop, about 50% of my wardrobe is from Topshop. And the fact that I can imagine someone wearing one of his dresses to a Koosday night, even though they're more likely to be worn to a black tie event, isn't exactly a bad thing; although he seems like the most arrogant personality in an industry full of arrogance, you could never accuse his designs of being pretentious. 

For further reading, I'd highly recommend this article by Cathy Horyn, in which she considers why Slimane, by offering clothes that are commercial rather than conceptual, might have had the right idea all along.


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