Thursday, 21 August 2014

A Levels, GCSE Results, AS Results, My Year 12 Experience and Advice

I’ve been meaning to write this post as soon as Year 12 kicked in almost 12 months ago but instead I decided to wait until the year was fully completed, and for GCSE results day, before sharing my full reflection.

Back in August 2013 I was delighted to find that I'd gained 6 A*s 5 As and 2 Bs (damn you English) in my GCSEs, I couldn't have been happier. Since then, things for me academically fell dramatically downhill.

On results day I signed up for 4 subjects that were not only my strongest but the four subjects I then loved and felt I'd be willing to the extra hours in - 10 subject hours a fortnight - to get the A2 grades I'd be happiest with - Geography, History, Maths and French. The latter, was a decision that ended up being a rushed one amidst the madness of getting my results and one, unlike the other three, that I hadn't properly thought through. Prior to getting my results, my fourth AS was going to be dependent on my French grade and that of Additional science, as at the time Chemistry was a possibility.

Having got a very secure A* in French versus a mid A in Science, I opted for a language at A Level. The biggest challenge I'd faced academically. Without going into too much detail on this, I could write a whole blogpost if you wanted?, I stuck it through Year 12 due to not having a back up subject to swap it for in the first few weeks and undergoing frequent breakdowns and general trauma through studying a language I thought I loved. At the soonest opportunity after trialing A2 French, I dropped French early and was left with Geography, History and Maths and a huge sigh of relief.

On reflection from this, I am still uncertain as to whether I will live to regret this next year however only time will tell.

Prior to A Levels, I was very lucky in that I was able to get through my GCSEs without any major trauma and was rather compalecent with the results I got in August as I was able to leave my revision to the fairly last minute and get through exams without too much trouble, in reflection, as at the time they seemed to be the be-all and end-all.
When A Level students say there is a big step up between GCSE and A-Level, they are not kidding. Don't do what I did and brushed this comment off lightly. You really do need to pull your finger out at this point as leaving revision to the last minute just won't cut it.

The wait between my summer and my results on the 14th August seemed never ending. I expected the worst from my results as I have never been so under-prepared and overwhelmed for the jump between GCSE’s and A Levels and the difference in difficulty with the exams- I was expecting a climb but this was some mountain to trek. 

I won't bore you with the details but by some miracle I managed to pass the majority of my exams but I really need to shape up next year in order to get the grades I'll be proud of and ones that, if I decide to, will get me into Uni.

AS to A2

Over the next 10 months I really need to get my head down as ultimately, these could be the last 10 months of my education and I want to have made all my school years worthwhile. Equally, I hope that throughout Year 13 that I get the balance between free time, work and A Levels sorted to avoid unnecessary stress.


I have found a web article that basically sums up A LEVELS here however I have a few extra pointers for my Year 11 readers who want extra reassurance or a push in the right direction

-Take what you enjoy - Not only will the number of teaching hours increase per subject but the number of hours spent on homework, extra reading and revision will or at least should increase when studying a subject at A Level. Because of this, it is crucial that you read up on what your courses will include and know what you're getting yourself into before you sign the dotted line.

-Pick your strengths - As important as it is to take subjects you enjoy, it is also important to take subjects you think you'll do well in as at the end of the day, your grades are what will matter.

-EPQ/GENERAL STUDIES/CRITICAL THINKING - Note that your teachers will most likely blackmail convince you to take one of the above and where I loved the topic of my 5000 word dissertation for my EPQ ( Are bloggers more Influential than magazines?), the EPQ took far too much time out of my academic calendar meaning that I neglected my other AS Levels which I feel ultimately sacrificed my grades. Although I did manage to get an A* in said essay, on reflection and research into possible universities, many just disregard it so I strongly advise any Year 12 students to research into their future education prospects before committing to an additional qualification, like the Extended Project, before sacrificing their time.

-Take a break - Year 12 hit me hard and if there is one thing I can preach but didn't practise enough is to not to stress too much. Naturally, A Levels are hard but as difficult as it was I wish I took a breather more often and made the most of any free time I had.

-Enjoy Year 12 - Year 11 was by far my favourite year of school and I wish I had made the most of year 12 and enjoyed it more. At the end of the day, these 2 years could be your last 2 years of school and therefore you definitely should at least try to enjoy them!

Thats all for now! I hope that any year 11's getting their results today are pleased and if not, results aren't the end of the world!

If you found this post useful and want me to write more like this please do let me know! 

Beth x 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

TRAVEL BEAUTY: What's in my Summer Make-up Bag?

I've been well overdue a Daily Makeup post so what better time than now to share with you the makeup that made the cut on my recent trip to Mallorca, a what's in my makeup bag, summer holiday edition if you will...

When packing I tried to be very selective with the products I was going to pack in my case with the mindset that this would allow for more outfit and toiletry options. For my base I went for a lightweight option from Philosophy, their Be Your Best BB cream (review). This evened out my skintone and provided me with a light dewy base. For extra blemish coverage, and under my eyes, I used my trusty Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer in the darker shade of Medium 3. I then used a combination of my two favourite face powders; Rimmel Stay Matte and MAC MSF Natural 'Light' to keep me matte and my makeup in place. To add to my summer 'glow', I packed my MAC Soft and Gentle MSF to use as a blusher/bronzer duo and applied this using my RT Contour Brush on the tops of my cheeks.

For my eyes I decided to pack the MUA Undressed Palette in hope that I would experiment with different shades and get more use out of the palette. To keep these shadows in place I also packed my MAC Bare Study Paint Pot which didn't disappoint. I also, because the MUA palette didn't have a matte flesh coloured shadow, packed my Estee Lauder Eyeshadow quad for using on my brow bone and finished my eye look with my current favourite Bourjois 1 Second Mascara.

My lips I kept surprisingly low maintenance while on holiday by just packing my BALMI lip balm in the mint flavour which worked great in the day too due to containing SPF15.

For brushes, again, I was very selective and limited it to my 4 favourites; my Real Techniques Multi Task Brush, Buffing Brush and Contour Brush for my face and my MAC 217 for my eyeshadow.

I am very proud of myself for my capsule makeup bag and found myself reaching for everything that I had packed and not needing anything else!

Are you an overpacker? What do you pack in your holiday makeup bag?

Beth xx

P.S Keep an eye out for more shopping the stash posts as I hope that this series can make a come-back!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Review: Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

You may have seen me ramble on about the infamous Real Techniques brushes, namely their face brushes, however there has now been a now-not-so-new foundation tool in town, the RT Miracle Complexion Sponge and this really is a miracle worker.

Where you thought your foundation looked amazing before, you NEED to try this. When held under running water, and the excess rung out, this sponge expands to over twice its original size and makes your foundation much more flawless yet natural looking.

If you have trouble with a certain foundation caking when you apply it, as I did with the apparently cake free Rimmel Stay Matte, this helps to significantly reduce this while also allowing you to build up the coverage.

The sponge has a wide flat side, a rounded pointed end and and a more precise pointed edge. This combination of the three means that you can apply your foundation in layers, and over a large area, but blend in precise areas of your face, such as under your eyes and around your nose, and at ease.

For £5.99 there is no need to splurge £20ish on the beauty blender as, for me, this does all that I would want the beauty blender to do without the hassle of ordering online and wasting extra cash.

It is also worth saying that this was surpisingly easy to clean versus other foundation sponges I have tried - I run it under the hot jet of my shower and lather clean using baby shampoo and the sponge is returned to its original bright orange coloured glory.

If you want a change from your usual foundation application then I would highly urge you to pop to Boots, or online, and buy this as this multi-tasking beauty is an essential in my opinion. 

Have you tried the RT Miracle Complexion sponge?

Beth xx

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Review: Sleek Contour Kit

I'll admit, MAC MSF in Soft and Gentle shall always have a place in my heart, however,  when I spotted a shiny new Sleek stand in Boots I couldn't say no to this contour kit that has always been on my wish list and much hyped about.

The first thing I noticed about the highlighter, compared to Soft and Gentle, was that it is much more wearable but nevertheless leaves a lovely pink sheen to your cheeks that blends out effortlessly with a combination of my MAC 109 and 168 brushes.

The contour shade is initially equally as impressive. The colour is a perfect suede brown that doesn't look orange on my cheeks and has a great colour pay off but equally, when applied with a light hand, works great if you want to opt for something more natural. That being said, I have found myself neglecting this shade in my collection as unfortunately this has a tendency to look stripy on my cheeks. For me, it is difficult to blend this as the balance between a light hand and actually wanting to have colour pay-off to contour is rather difficult without my cheeks looking muddy and patchy.

At £5.49 is an absolute steal however following the easy break of the compact, the risk of looking like a zebra  and the lasting power being somewhat something to be desired, I won't be repurchasing as for my pasty complexion, this doesn't help me to bronze, nor contour and I shall be glad to use this up.

Have you tried Sleek? 

Beth x

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

BethMayBakes | Strawberry and Dark Chocolate Macaroons Recipe

Yesterday I spent the majority of my day baking and Instagramming (@BethME) my favourite sweet treat, macaroons! Seeing as the recipe we used proved to be extremely successful, and tasty, I thought that I would share this recipe with you all!

(Recipe Source)

170g icing sugar
160g ground almonds
120ml egg whites from about 4 medium eggs, separated into 2 equal batches
160g granulated sugar
½ tsp red food colouring

120g double cream
110g dark chocolate, finely chopped
25g unsalted butter, room temperature
Fresh Strawberries

Place the icing sugar and ground almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 15 times until fully combined. Sieve this mixture into a large bowl, discarding any particles that stay in the sieve. Add the first batch of egg whites to the almond mixture, mix to form a thick paste and set aside.

Tip the second batch of egg whites into a spotlessly clean, heatproof bowl and have an electric whisk at the ready. Place 50ml water and the granulated sugar into a small saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the syrup registers 110C, using a sugar thermometer, at which time start to beat the egg whites on high speed. 

Once the syrup is at 118C pour it slowly down the side of the mixer bowl, avoiding the moving whisk. Continue to whisk on high until the mixture has cooled slightly and you have a shiny peaked meringue mixture – the bowl should no longer be hot to the touch, but still warm. Add the colouring and whisk to combine.

Tip the meringue onto the almond mixture and gently fold together. It is important not to over-mix the batter – it should fall in a thick ribbon from the spatula . The ribbon should also fade back into the batter within about 30 secs – if it doesn’t, fold a few more times.

Heat oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3-4. Line 3 baking sheets with baking parchment. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe rounds about 2.5cm in diameter onto the prepared baking sheets {we printed off templates and placed these under the baking sheets for consistency}. 

Leave to rest for 30 mins out of the fridge, or until the macaroons have developed a skin.

Bake the macaroons for 14 mins (this needs to be precise so you could test a macaroon first). Immediately slide the parchment onto the work surface and cool for a few minutes before gently peeling the macaroons off the paper.

To make the filling, place the cream in a small saucepan and the chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring the cream just to the boil and pour over the chocolate. Leave to stand for a few mins, then stir to combine. Add the butter and stir until smooth, then leave to set until thickened. 

Place the chocolate mix into a clean piping bag with a smaller nozzle and pipe around the edge of half the macaroons. Fill the centre with a finely sliced strawberry {you could also use jam} and sandwich with another macaroon shell.

These are best eaten on the same day, especially as we used fresh strawberries, or kept in a cool dry place outside of the fridge to prevent them from turning soggy!

Have you made Macaroons before?


Disclaimer: This recipe was sourced from BBC GoodFood but tasted too good not to share!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Summer Empties: Beauty Trash - Part 1

It doesn't seem two minutes since I posted my last beauty empties but I've soon managed to rack up a substantial bag of beauty trash to share with you!

Avon Senses Lemon Lime and Ginger Shower Gel 

I was a little underwhelmed by Avon shower gels. You could hardly distinguish the scent and despite producing a rich and foamy lather, I didn't feel clean after using this and couldn't wait to finish a bottle that seemed to last forever. Because of this, I won't be repurchasing.

Dove Summer Glow Fair to Medium

I only had a few last uses in this from where I had frequently used and loved this last year. If you can tolerate the typical biscuity smell of a gradual tanner then this tanner is great for adding a hint of colour to your skin that isn't streaky if your application is careful.
 This particular shade Fair to Medium was perhaps too fair for my incredibly fair skin and I would normally opt for a shade darker so keep that in mind when buying this as otherwise it doesn't make much of a difference to your 'glow'. Full Review Here

Blanx White Shock Toothpaste

This worked to an extent as my teeth did seem whiter after using this, however,  I do think that the light-activated element of this is very gimmicky and unless on offer, this is overpriced for a toothpaste and one that I wouldn't repurchase.

Garnier Micellar Water 

After the disappointment that was the Loreal Micellar Water, I had high hopes for this. Fortunately this outperformed loreals offering and didn't require cotton wool pad after cotton wool pad in order to take off your face and eye makeup. This didn't sting my skin, break me out ( as far as I was aware anyway!) and wasn't scented. A definite repurchase and a product that I will be repurchasing in the near future once I finish out my current alternative.

ReGen Cream 

A £3 Aldi purchase that I unfortunately didn't agree with. I found that it did nothing but sting my skin when using it and the runny cream in a tub very impractical. I much prefer Rosehip oil for scarring and therefore  wouldn't repurchase this.

Aveeno Cream

My sister has always sworn by this for her Eczema however this works equally as well for dry and sensitive skin on your face or body. I would definitely use this again and I would repurchase if I ever ran out of moisturizer.

Ginvera Exfoliating Marvel Gel // Clarins Hydraquench Cream Mask // Anatomicals Puffy the Eye Bag Slayer 

 I always find it difficult to work out whether I like a skincare product based on a sample size however the Anatomicals I am intrigued to try again as despite being a strange concept, the gel patches were refreshing and great at cooling and soothing heavy eyes and dark circles. The marvel gel, however, I didn't have much luck with as it didn't seem to make a difference to the surface of my skin  despite the exfoliating beads. In addition, the Clarins mask, due to the hotter weather more recently, felt far too heavy for my skin and therefore is hard to gauge how 'quenching' the mask really is.

Klorane Mango Butter Shampoo // Garnier Ultimate Blends - The Sleek Restorer // Peter Thomas Roth Mega Rich Shampoo // John Frieda Full Repair Hydrate and Rescue Shampoo // MilkShake Colour Shampoo // 
Herbal Essences Bee Strong Shampoo

If I was to repurchase a single shampoo from those photographed in this months empties then the John Frieda Full Repair Hydrate and Rescue Shampoo would be a clear winner. This did a great job at cleansing my hair without stripping my scalp nor weighing it down and making it greasy. Unfortunately the other shampoos, despite smelling great, were too rich for my hair and left it feeling weighed down and for that reason shall not be purchased in their full sized glory.
Pure BB Cream (Light) // Rimmel Stay Matte  // MAC Face and Body 

From these three foundations there is a clear winner which is my trusty Face and Body. Unfortunately the BB cream was far too dark for me and the Stay Matte far too cakey whereas at risk of sounding like i'm reading a fairy tale, the MAC was just right. It was the right shade for my skin in the summer and lightweight on the skin while providing buildable coverage. I haven't yet gone out to repurchase this foundation as the shade N1 was bordering on too dark at times however I wouldn't rule out a repurchase because of this.

Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer

I love this concealer and no matter how hard I try to buy another concealer, I always cave in at the last minute and repurchase this. This particular shade was Fair 1 however upon trialing this in Medium 3, the results have been equally impressive, either way I don't seem to be straying from this £4 bargain and highly recommend.

MUA Pro Base Fixing Mist // Rimmel Fix and Perfect Pro Primer

For long lasting makeup this is my dream combination. The primer, despite perhaps being the culprit behind my pesky breakouts, provides a smooth base for my makeup and keeps it from caking throughout the day. This combined with the fixing mist ensures maximum lasting power and stops it from sweating off in the heat. Both of these I would repurchase.

YSL Babydoll Mascara - FULL REVIEW HERE

This worked great during the first 3 months of its life but soon after this it started to dry out which for an almost £25 mascara was disappointing. That being said, for the 3 months prior to this, this did a great job at lengthening my lashes and adding curl in the process. It worked well but unfortunately is a little out of my price range to promptly repurchase. 

MAC Naked Lunch Eyeshadow 

 I loved this eyeshadow - the champagne peachy pink was pigmented and great for everyday and evening wear alike. Paired with Mac Bare Study Paint pot, this provided a long lasting light base for my eyeshadow and one that I reached for on a daily basis. I would highly recommend this eyeshadow and if I wasn't to have a drawer full of champagne eyeshadows already, then I'd be straight back to the MAC counter to repurchase.

So that's all of my empties for now! I already have a Part 2 in my drafts so do keep an eye out for that!

What have you finished recently?

Beth xx

P.S I am planning on writing an AS Level Advice Blogpost/Q&A so feel free to leave any questions below or tweet me @CosmticLover! 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Bourjois 1 Second Volume Mascara* Review - (Before and After Pics)

£9.99 / Boots
I'm never really one to get excited over new Mascaras as it takes months for me to get through a tube however  I was intrigued to try Bourjois new addition that claims to give you '1 second' volume after the recent hype in the blog-o-sphere.

For me, the summer allows me to fully test a mascara as I suffer from severe hayfever, runny eyes and persistent sneezing. Because of this, I jumped at the chance to try out Bourjois latest number and share the outcome with you guys as I knew I'd really be able to put it through its paces!
BEFORE - Bare Lashes
AFTER - 2 Coats of Mascara
The mascara is packaged in a silver tube with coral accents of which a very large plastic barrel brush is contained. If you look carefully at the brush there are small plastic balls among the bristles said to 'wrap every lash' and the straight bristles to create clump-free definition.
Where I do feel that 1 second volume is a little optimistic for me without ending up with mascara all over my face, it is very easy and quick to create my desired result (photographed), only requiring 2 coats to fully coat and volumise my lashes and when doing so, doesn't clog or clump my lashes!
 This also looks good after 1 coat however produces a much more natural finish this way so it is totally dependent on the look that you go for. It is also worth mentioning that the results photographed are without eyelash curlers.
My only downfall with this is that the does smudge on the edges of lower lash line, even when only wearing mascara on my top lashes day-to-day, so hasn't passed my hayfever test. That being said, I haven't yet found a mascara to withstand my hayfever symptoms this season so I don't blame the mascara for this. In saying this, I am sure that the waterproof version would be much longer lasting so if you want to prevent this happening, then perhaps try the latter.
This mascara is priced at £9.99 which seems to be the average for high street mascaras nowadays but hasn't yet started to dry out despite trialling for a month or so already. It also is very convenient to remove with my normal removal method, micellar water and coconut oil, and you won't wake up with Panda eyes the next day.
Have you tried Bourjois latest Mascara addition?
Beth x
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