Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Quest for Clearer Skin: 5 Tips for Acne Sufferers

While I could have called this post '5 Tips to Get Rid of Acne', that would have been a little untruthful. In reality, I've only started applying these tips in the past few weeks, and I couldn't say that I'm acne-free by any stretch of the imagination. There is so much confusion about the causes of spotty skin, and no one seems to be able to offer a definitive solution for teens and adults troubled by acne. Clearly, I can't claim that these are fail-proof tips. What I can say is that these are the hints that I have curated from around the internet, and if you too suffer from acne then there's no harm in giving them a go to see if they are effective on your skin.

Hands Off Image and Graphic

In my experience, I've found that if there's one way to aggravate the hell out of your spots, it's to keep touching them. Unfortunately, since secondary school, I've had the horrible habit of picking my spots when I concentrate. It's a difficult habit to break, since it has developed into an automatic action, and I don't realise that I'm doing it until it's too late. It's a major problem: touching those little spots just pushes them to become bigger and redder, while spreading the bacteria to other parts of your face. With this in mind, I'm training myself to keep my fingers away from my face. If I find myself touching my face, I'll literally sit on my hands until the urge passes! Also, asking friends to let you know when your hands are on your face is a great way to help you identify when you're doing it.

Keep a Skin Diary Graphic Dreamscape Notebook from Paperchase

If you're like me and on a serious mission to get rid of your spots, then this is an essential part of the process. Since you'll undoubtably be trying out lots of different creams, medication, and tips, you are going to need to keep track of the progress (or lack thereof) that you are making. You can easily do this by starting a skin diary... 'Yay' for a great excuse to treat yourself to a cute new notebook! By writing down what you've tried on a daily basis, and also describing your spots on that particular day, you'll be able to keep track of what works for you and what doesn't. Along with this physical notebook, you should keep a visual diary too. I have started taking a photograph of my makeup-free face everyday, so I can see any improvements that have been made. For female acne sufferers, this technique is a simple way to figure out if you suffer from hormonal acne, as you will be able to see if your skin flares up at the same part of your cycle every month.

Try Toothpaste Graphic Skin Diary

This is a strange tip, yet I've also found it to be strangely effective. By dabbing your whiteheads or scabby spots with a little bit of toothpaste and leaving it to dry, you can help those spots dry up and bugger off. The best time to try this one is just before you go to bed, on a clean and dry face.

Say 'Goodbye' to Cow's Milk Graphic Alpro Almond Milk and Floral Mug Alpro Almond Milk Pouring into Mug

After years and years of downing a glass of milk a day, I have only recently began hearing that cow's milk isn't necessarily the best thing to be drinking a lot of. Some people find that consuming milk causes severe breakouts. YouTuber Melanie Murphy (who has loads of great videos on dealing with acne) is one of these people, and it's her video that brought this to my attention. While I have yet to figure out if milk is definitely one of my triggers, I have decided to cut-it out of my diet. Now when I'm craving something to drink in the morning to go with my toast, I'm sipping on almond milk instead. I'm not going to lie, I miss ice-cold glasses of good ol' cow's milk. But for now, almond milk is alright as an alternative.

And 'Hello' to Water Graphic Glass of Water

Finally, I've begun drinking at least two litres of water everyday. Rather than opting for sugary drinks during the day, I'll drink glass-upon-glass of water. I have noticed my skin getting slightly clearer since I upped my intake. I'm hoping to notice a more dramatic improvement the longer I keep this habit up.

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So that's what I've been experimenting with recently! Adult acne is frustrating, but it's nice to know that I'm not helpless and that there are some things I can do in my quest for clearer skin. Let me know if you have any tips for dealing with acne, I'm always on the look out for advice!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Happy New (Academic) Year

Back to Uni Style - Full Length
Top: Penneys // Dress: Sugarhill Boutique // Necklace: Charlotte Russe // Ring: New Look // Boots: Sherbert

As I mentioned in my previous post - I'm back at uni this month. And what better way to celebrate than with a long over-due style post? This is the casual and ever-so-comfy outfit that I wore to uni yesterday. Featuring the vintage camera print dress which was so kindly gifted to me by my grandmother.

Camera Dress Detail Back to Uni Style

I'm half way through my first week in the Digital Marketing masters, and I must say that I already love it. Having said that, thus far the lecturers have gone easy on us. In Web Design and Development, for instance, we had a tutorial in setting up a Wordpress blog. Since we'll be expected to create our own app by the end of the course, I reckon there's gonna be a pretty steep learning curve! For now, though, we've been told to brush up on our HTML skills, so I've been playing around with my blog's code. I'm hoping baby steps will take me to my destination...

Back to Uni Style - Collar Back to Uni Style - Boots

Monday, 22 September 2014

Three Simple Self-Improvement Tips

Officially, today is the first day of my Masters in Digital Marketing. I am thrilled to be beginning on a new academic adventure, but also quite scared, since it sounds a million times more intense than my undergrad. Clearly I am in need of a bit of a boost in the form of self-help tips!

DCU campus, also on my Instagram

Friday was orientation, and although I've been to DCU for the last three years, I still found out a some new secrets about campus (like the hidden away, high-tech, digimarketing lab). But more than that, I've also learnt a few life lessons from course head, which will help me with the degree, as well as life in general. Inspired by the first taste of my next year, I've decided to share three self-help pointers here...

Three Simple Self-Improvement Tips:

1. Set Stretch Goals - If a goal is too easy then you'll feel no satisfaction when you achieve it. On the other hand, if you are unrealistic about your ability to achieve a goal you are likely to stress yourself out, chasing a goal that's out of your league. You've got to find the balance. When setting yourself goals, consider your strengths and weaknesses, so you can set yourself a challenging, rewarding but ultimately achievable goal.

2. Be Tigger not Eeyore - Eeyore is drag-everyone-down-with-you sad. Tigger is bounce-off-the-walls, ridiculously upbeat. Who would you rather spend time with? For the Digital Marketing class, this was brought up to stress the importance of a positive attitude in group work, but it is also relevant in everyday life. Of course, there's a time and a place to be an Eeyore, but the more days you choose to be Tigger, the happier you'll be.

3. Be Good at your Weaknesses & Excel at your Strengths - Take time to teach yourself valuable skills that you thought you'd never be able to do. Get good at these. As for your strengths? Well, you're already pretty great at these. Now focus on mastering them.

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I don't think I've ever mentioned my unashamed love for self-help books and speeches (Ted Talk binge, anyone?), but now it's clear. As a self-help fan, I was always going to love the opening presentation to my course, when these valuable life lessons were shared. Hopefully you too will find them useful, whether you apply them to your work life, uni life or life in general!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

DIY: Revamp a Corkboard

Since moving into my new rental with my best friends, I've been taking little steps to revamp my bedroom and inject a little personality between these cream walls. And, in the process, I came up with a fun little DIY that is ridiculously easy and very effective. So if you're interested in revamping a boring corkboard, read on...

1. A corkboard
2. A can of spray paint in a pretty colour
3. Old newspaper
4. Pins
5. Scissors
6. A pen

1. Have a think about what design you'd like to feature on your corkboard. For simplicity's sake, it's best to do something that's going to be easy to cut out and use as a stencil. Think hearts, circles (a polka dot corkboard would be cute), and letters of the alphabet. I chose to do a sort of bunting effect with triangles and also spell out my name. With your final design in mind, you can cut out the shapes from the newspaper, draw them first if you'd rather cut around an outline.

2. Layout the shapes in the design that you would like. Remember that the newspaper is going to block the spray paint, so that what's beneath will remain the brown corkboard colour.

3. Using the pins, fasten the shapes down. Make sure the newspaper is quite taunt so that the paint won't get in behind the paper. The advantage of using the pins to secure your stencil in place is that you'll end up with pins that match the colour of your corkboard perfectly!

4. Now it's time to spray! To get an even cover you should not spray too long in any particular spot. Instead, try to give the corkboard an even coverage while spraying from left to right, starting from the top and continuing to the bottom of the board so that it has all been painted. Make sure to do this outside, as the fumes from spray paint are quite stong.

5. Leave the corkboard to dry overnight. It's completely dry when no part of it is sticky to touch.

6. Remove the newspaper and pins... And, you're done!

I decided to hang my jewellery off it, since my necklaces don't obscure the design too much. It's a bit rough around the edges, but I'm happy with it! I got a bit spray-paint crazy and also coloured my folder, which you can see on the left of the photo. It's all very matchy-matchy, but I don't mind!

Friday, 12 September 2014

High on NY

New York City is undoubtedly an urban jungle... But not necessarily a concrete one. Sure, it's sprouts skyscrapers left, right and centre, but there's also plenty of green spaces in amongst the chaos. The unusal mix of the natural with the man-made is one of the elements of NYC that I loved. Perhaps it's best showcased by the High Line, once a railway track, it is now a park which hosts greenery and pretty plants, all with the city as its backdrop... Which made for some lovely pics.

You can sort of see my reflection in this pic, as I took the photo through the glass. This is the spot where you can sit and watch the traffic drive by. There's something so relaxing about sitting in one spot, as you watch the rest of world scoot by in a hurry.

These are the last of my photographs from my recent visit to NYC. I've been gushing about the city over the course of three posts, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I am planning my next trip to the Big Apple as we speak.

NY, I <3 You.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Enjoying NYC as a Solo Traveller: A Few Tips

My four day mini-break in New York City was one of the highlights of my summer. From squinting to see the Statue of Liberty as my bus drove in, to my last mental snapshot of the city at night from the Brooklyn Bridge, I loved my short stint there. And it's something that I would have missed out on, had I been too afraid to do it alone. Thus, today I've made it my mission share my experience of the Big Apple and to convince you that you can travel alone. So here are my tips for travelling alone in NYC specifically, but many of the tips can be applied to anywhere that you long to visit.

While New York City is a very safe city nowadays, it's natural to feel a tad uneasy when travelling alone. I found that the best way to feel safe when on your own in an unfamiliar location is to act confident. Ideally you should consult your map (physical or the one on your phone), commit to memory the route to take, store it in your bag, and walk... With confidence. Sure, you'll probably need to double check the directions every once in a while - that's fine. Just make sure to stay calm and collected. Fake it if you have to. Faking confidence always leads to real confidence. You'll convince yourself that you're a NYC local in no time... And any nagging worries you had about your personal safety will evaporate. From personal experience, I know that when I acted confident, I felt better travelling alone. The one point on the trip that I did get flustered (I was quite confused about what subway to take back to my hostel) a guy walked by and mocked me. 'I'm so lost', he whined at me. After that incident I knew that I didn't want to appear lost or confused, even when I was those two things exactly! To help me appear on top of things, even when I hadn't a clue, I listened to music, so I had a beat to walk to, and so I could outright ignore anyone who might have otherwise bothered me. Which brings me neatly to my next point...

Since you're destined to spend a lot of time going from place to place on public transport, a great way to beat the boredom is to stick on your headphones and (internally) bop to a few tunes. As well as having some amazing music to add to your adventures in the city, there's the added bonus that when one of these songs pops up on your iPod in the future, you'll be reminded of the fun you had on your trip. For me, the songs below will always remind me the glittering skyscrapers of New York City, as I listened to my playlist whilst admiring the view from the Top of the Rock (the Rockerfeller Centre viewpoint).

I crashed at the HI Hostel on Amsterdam Avenue, and I definitely recommend it as it has a great atmosphere thanks to the lovely employees and the free events they organise. By choosing a good hostel such as this one, you're guaranteed to make new friends. Whether it's the people you laugh next to at the comedy night, the ravers you party with on the pub crawl or your bunk bed buddy in your dorm room, staying at a hostel provides you with many opportunities to meet new people. That's the great thing about travelling by yourself - you're forced out of your comfort zone and pushed to say 'hi' to someone new... And who knows? The new people you meet could become a cherished pen pal, BFF or partner (my mum met my dad while travelling on her own)!

There aren't many chances in this life to be shamelessly selfish... But travelling on your own, with no one else to consider, is the perfect time to treat yourself. Yes, you're in NYC, and there's a myriad of sights to see, but that doesn't mean you necessarily need to spend every second at the various tourist traps. Personally, I used my trip as an excuse to pamper myself with the money I had saved from my two summer jobs. I booked myself into a fancy hair saloon (Suite 303 in NoHo) and got myself a few highlights. Of course, if you are on a budget you might not be able to go all out... But even if you're skint, perhaps you could pass on the cheap instant noodles for once and treat yourself to a fancy lunch at a cute cafe? Just make sure to slow down (all that sightseeing can be tiresome) and remember that when you're back at home you won't be able to be so self-centred! So embrace it while you can! And on that note...

Don't let anyone tell you that you HAVE to go to {blank} or you can't leave without visiting {insert hipster bar here}. Don't get me wrong, I love a good 'must-see in NYC' article as the next curious city-hopper, but make sure you don't take them too seriously. It's better to spend plenty of time at a few places that you love, instead speeding through your favourite museum because there's 1001 other 'must-see' sights you've planned to squeeze into your day. For me, I realised that I was short of time, and would only be able to see a bit of the Met and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) if I attempted to do both in one day. In the end, I opted to spend the whole day at MoMA as I find modern art so inspiring. While I would have loved to see the Met too, I don't regret my decision, as I was able to fully enjoy MoMA without rushing. Besides, it's always a good idea to leave a few places unseen, so you can get excited about planning your next visit!

So those are a few tips for travelling alone in New York City. Hope you enjoyed it! Most of the photos in this post can also be found on my Instagram, so give me a follow if you like them!