You'll have seen the adverts all over your Instagram and Facebook feeds. The magical, influencer-backed Pink Clay masks, hailed as a 'miracle' by bloggers, YouTubers and Feefo reviewers alike. Infused with Australian Pink Clay, a new cult ingredient which draws out toxins and impurities, the masks boast promises of sorting out large pores, banishing acne scarring and making your skin glooowwwww. 

So, what's the catch? Well, the price tag isn't exactly purse-friendly. And with prices averaging between £30-40 for a jar, I must admit that when I first looked it up I had to close the browser with my eyes watering.

After watching the ads coming up on my social media for months on end and a lot of deliberating, I decided that I just had to get my hands on one. Partly because large pores has been a recent skincare struggle for me which I really wanted to sort, acne scars have been issue for a long time, and partly because I just was so intrigued by whether or not the claims on the ads were true!

I did a lot of research into which brand of Pink Clay to go for. In the end I got it down to the two main ones, Sand&Sky or Alya Skin. I went for Alya Skin in the end, based on the fact that it was a good tenner cheaper for more product, and the skincare sets were better value for money. 

I know there are a fair few dupes out there which are much cheaper, but I decided to go for high-end based on the fact that I wanted to see if the social media claims are true! Let me know in the comments if you've ever used a dupe and what you thought!

Giddy wasn't even the word when the parcel arrived! I picked up the Complete Set which contains the mask, a micellar cleanser, an exfoliating scrub and a moisturiser. I haven't tried them all yet though so I'll only be reviewing the mask for now.

I've been using the mask once a week for the last two months or so. I've seen in other reviews that people have used it up to twice a week but I started with once, mostly because I didn't want to use it up too quickly!

The first thing to say is that the Alya Skin mask is really lovely to use. It smells gorgeous, spa-like with just a hint of floral. It's a really lovely texture too, it's quite creamy but smooths onto the skin really nicely and definitely has a luxurious feel to it. 

You use it like any other mask, apply to dry skin (I've been applying with a brush because there's no way I'm wasting even a tiny little bit!), leave to dry for around 10-15 minutes, and rinse off with a face cloth. 

Okay, let's get down to the crunch; the results.

Let's start with the positives. My skin definitely looked more glow-y after using the mask. It felt softer, and as if all of the crap had been brought out of my skin without feeling too harsh like other clay or charcoal masks do. 

The biggest improvement I've noticed as a result of using Alya skin is my skin texture. I've mentioned before that large pores and uneven skin texture is something that I've only really experienced in the last six months or so, and I've not really been sure on how to deal with it. But as soon as I rinse off the Alya Skin mask, my pores look tighter and my skin looks so much more even. I'll be honest, I've been pretty down about my skin in the last few months but using this mask has helped to bring my confidence back!

BUT, I didn't see any difference in my acne scarring, especially not the larger scars. I would have been very surprised if it lived up to the claims of getting rid of acne scars completely but there wasn't really any change at all. 

So, do I think it's worth the money?

If you have the money to spend, fancy a splurge and suffer with large pores - yes. As someone who has tried all sorts of things for uneven skin texture, I would say this is the biggest difference that I've seen as a result of changing one thing in my skincare routine. And for me, paying £30 to get some confidence back when I've felt self-conscious about my large pores is definitely worth it. 

If your main concern is acne scarring, honestly, try something else. Based on the fact that I saw no difference at all, it definitely isn't worth the bold claims around banishing scars that you see in the social media ads.

With that being said, I would definitely repurchase the Alya Skin mask. I really look forward to using it every week, and part of the claims are true! Yes it's expensive, but I'm only around a quarter of a way through the tub as it stands, so a whole tub will probably last me 6 months or so with once-a-week-use. which doesn't sound as bad!

Have you ever tried a pink clay mask? I would love to hear what you thought in the comments!

Sian xo

Facebook has become a social media platform that I love to hate. No matter how often I roll my eyes whilst scrolling through, or mutter under my breath that I should just delete the app from my phone, I can't quite resist having a nosey through my feed every day. 

I find myself having the same thoughts almost every time I open up the Facebook app, so have a look through and see how many you relate to!

1. Okay, let's see what crap I can find to mindlessly scroll through...

2. Aw cute, a friendiversary! Wait... 8 years?! How has it been that long? When did I get so old?!

3. Ooooh, friend request! Let's see... Someone from primary school who I haven't spoken to since year 6! 

4. Still gonna accept though because, y'know, nosey.

5. I love my Facebook memories popping up with nights out from seven years ago, it reminds me of a time when I was fun.

5. Oh look, another engagement announcement. Lovely. 

6. Wait, am I jealous? No, no. Not jealous. Or am I?

7. No, definitely not jealous. I don't even want to get married yet anyway!


9. Wish my nan would stop sending me Candy Crush requests. I thought that died in 2013. 

10. Oh goodie, another chain message from Aunty Sue. No, Aunty Sue, I'm not going to keep the candle going to raise awareness for the protection of donkeys.

11. Not that I have anything against donkeys.

12. Oooh, advert for that face mask I was talking to my friend about the other day. Must. Not. Buy.

13. WAIT. How did Facebook know I was talking about it?!

14. Life is a conspiracy. We must trust no-one.

15. Bloody hell, another baby announcement.

16. How am I already at the age where everyone around me is having kids. OMG am I going to be an old mum?!

17. Just gonna go and order my Zimmerframe now ready for the school run.

18. Oooh, Buzzfeed reckons it can tell me which Disney princess I am based on my star sign and favourite biscuit, GO ON THEN.

19. Aurora?! Disappointing. I'm clearly a Belle.

20. Screw it, I'm going back to Tik Tok.

The thing about lockdown, is that pretty much every routine I had has been changed (or become non-existent!) And that includes my beauty routines.

Don't get me wrong though, I've really embraced a different routine. I've been able to strip everything back, simplify my beauty habits and really look after my skin. It's been lovely not to put loads of make up on my face every day!

Seeing as I'm still going to be mostly at home for the next few weeks, I thought I'd share with you the products that I've been loving since lockdown started. Some I've mentioned before, others are old favourites I've rediscovered. Shall we dive in?

Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue

Complexion Rescue is somewhat of a rediscovery for me! It was a go-to summer base a couple of years ago, I ran out and never got around to replacing it. I purchased it again at the beginning of lockdown and I'm SO glad I did because I've been using it most days ever since. It's perfect for the days where you want a little bit of something on your face but nothing heavy. The formula feels super-hydrating, adds a teensy bit of coverage and a glowy, radiant finish. But at the same time feels like you're wearing nothing on your face at all! I think I'll be using this all summer, not just during lockdown because it's just so lovely and lightweight for the warmer months.
Shop here.

Glossier Cloud Paint Blush

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while will know that I rave about this product A LOT. The Cloud Paints are such a staple in my day-to-day routine and that hasn't changed even through lockdown! For anyone who hasn't heard of Cloud Paint before, it's the dreamiest cream blush, 
and has been the perfect companion for days where I want to put a bit of make-up on but don't want to spend long on my face to sit in my living room! Just pop a couple of dots on, blend with your fingers and done. Perfect, dewy, natural-looking flush of colour.
Shop here.

Mylee Gel Polish

I cannot express to you how much I miss my nail tech. SO much! I tried having bare nails and hated every second. I tried painting my nails with normal polish, but they were chipping after a day (and I hate having chipped nails more than I hate having bare nails!) So in the end I took the plunge and bought some gel polishes. After doing a bit of research, and reading Beth Sandland's post about the Mylee polishes, I decided to give them a go. The starter kit was really affordable, and the polishes themselves are reasonably priced, and are great quality. My manicures are lasting about 10 days - which I think is down to me needing more practice than anything! It isn't the same as going to see my nail tech every three weeks, but it fills a gel-polish shaped gap in my life.
Shop here.

Pixi Rose Tonic

Lockdown has had my skin feeling a bit sensitive, owing to a combination of stress, changes in weather and eating a lot of crap food! I tend to find that when my skin is this way, it's best for me to swap out my usual Pixi Glow Tonic for something a little bit more gentle. Rose Tonic has been a new discovery for me and I've been using it for a couple of weeks. It's lovely. It feels very gentle and soothing on the skin, smells gorgeous and leaves my skin feeling super soft. 
Shop here.

Bare Minerals SkinLongevity Serum

This serum is another lockdown discovery and I can say HANDS DOWN that it's my favourite skincare product right now. Infused with Long Life Herb Extract and California Poppy, this little bottle of magic promises to nourish, promote anti-ageing and give healthy-looking skin. And ohhhh my goodness, does it deliver! The second I apply, my skin looks smoother, uber-glowy and radiant. I'm obsessed. It's a bit pricey, but 100% worth it in my opinion!
Shop here.

St Tropez Self Tan Purity Face Mist

I've recently got back into self-tanning, and I love it! It's amazing how much a little golden glow boosts your confidence. I got a mini face mist in my Latest in Beauty box a few months ago and it's fab! I've been spritzing it over my face as the last step in my evening skincare routine, and wake up in the morning with a nice healthy glow. Super-easy, no streaks or patchy-ness! AND when I'm a little bit tanned I feel like I can forgo the foundation which is a real bonus!
Shop here.

What have been your lockdown beauty heroes?

Sian xo

One of my favourite things about blogging is discovering new brands to try - whether that's through other creators' work or through opportunities that I'm presented with myself. There's just something super exciting about opening up a package from a brand that I've never tried before, testing it out and seeing the results... Oooh I just love it!

I was approached by a company called Good Molecules recently, a brand new US-based skincare brand who asked if I would like to try some of their products out. I sent over my skin type and skin concerns, and they sent over a lovely little parcel of goodies tailored to me!

Good Molecules was founded with a simple ideology: creating products that give real results, without paying over the odds. Good Molecules has been widely compared online to the Ordinary, and you can see why - they have a similar ethos, both no-nonsense, high quality, affordable skincare. The products start from just $6 (that's just under a fiver for us Brits) so definitely won't break the bank.

You can shop the entire Good Molecules range at Beautylish, where you get free shipping to the UK over £35!

I was so excited to try the products because Good Molecules seemed like such an up-and-coming brand. First thing to say is that the packaging is lovely! Really fun designs, but not so fancy that it detracts from telling you exactly what is inside the bottle. I love that on each product, you're told exactly when and how to use it, which makes it super-easy for anyone who is looking to up their skincare game to incorporate the products into their routine.

Shall we dive into the products?

Niacinamide Brightening Toner

I've never used Niacinamide before but I definitely had high hopes for this toner. It is designed to target uneven skin texture and reduce the appearance of pores, revealing a brighter complexion. I've been struggling with large pores and uneven skin for the last six months or so, but I've definitely seen a difference since using the niacinamide toner every day. My skin has appeared brighter and smoother, and while I was a little bit worried that my sensitive skin wouldn't like it, it hasn't been too harsh at all!

Would I repurchase? Yes!
Shop here.

Niacinamide Serum

Just like the toner, this serum has been brilliant at evening out my skin texture and refining pores. It is suitable to be used every day but I tend to use it every other day. I think the formula of the serum felt great on the skin, it was thick but didn't take ages to absorb, and didn't leave it feeling at all sticky. My only criticism is that the dropper doesn't work properly on my bottle! The pipette doesn't actually pick up any product, so I ended up just wiping the dropper onto my palm to get enough serum out of the bottle. Looking at online reviews, I think it may have just been my bottle, but it's such a shame when I really like what the serum does for my skin! I'll put up with it because the product is good, but it may put someone else off entirely.

Would I repurchase? Yes, provided I get a dropper that works!
Shop here.

Ultra-Hydrating Facial Oil

I think there's something a little bit luxurious about using a facial oil at night-time, don't you? I've been using the Ultra-Hydrating Facial Oil in the evenings underneath my moisturiser, and it's lovely. I've suffered with dry skin for a long time, even more so during lockdown when I'm not getting out and about as much, and this has worked a treat. It comes in a dinky bottle, but a little goes a long way and you only need a couple of drops for your entire face. It sinks into the skin so nicely, without leaving it feeling over-oily or greasy and I wake up in the morning with a super-soft face!

Would I repurchase? Yes!
Shop here.

Silicone-Free Priming Moisturiser

As someone with dry skin, the amount that I've loved this moisturiser has really depended on the day. On days where my skin isn't too dry, I think it's fab. I love the pump, it feels lovely and lightweight and does the job of moisturising, plumping and priming ready for make up application. I've been mixing it with my Dermalogica Barrier Defence Booster [gifted] and it's such a dreamy combination. 

BUT, on days where my skin has felt particularly dry, I've had to steer clear of this one, simply because it isn't enough. On these days, my skin feels tight after a couple of hours and I have to go back and put on something else. 

While I'm finding I do keep reaching it at the moment, I think that come the winter months, I'll just have to leave it alone because it won't do enough for when my skin is really dry. However, I do think it's a lovely summer moisturiser and does exactly what it says on the bottle. For my dry-skinned babes, maybe give another moisturiser a go!

Would I repurchase? Potentially, as a summer moisturiser. But I wouldn't be rushing to replenish it.
Shop here.

My overall thoughts? I think I'll definitely be going back at some point to try some other Good Molecules products. Everything did exactly what it said on the bottle, my skin is definitely feeling happier and for the price, you really can't go wrong!

Let me know what you think to these products! Do you think you'll be picking anything up from Good Molecules? If you do, be sure to head over to my socials (@siankathrine on Instagram & Twitter) and let me know how you get on with them!

Sian xo

I remember the days leading up to lockdown, muttering to my colleagues over our 11am cup of tea and biscuits. Muttering over the anxiety that came with still trying to work when everything felt so uncertain, and how we would find it difficult to cope if we had to stay totally at home for any prolonged period of time. My heart was going out to those who had to self-isolate, because I just couldn't see myself doing well with it.

And then, I sat in front of the TV whilst Boris told us all we were to Stay At Home. It wasn't totally unexpected, but I still felt as if there had been a lot of speculation and little actual warning, and our day-to-day lives as we knew them were turned upside down.

After an incredibly anxious morning, I was put onto the furlough scheme, and the next goodness-knows-how-long stretched out in front of me. A vast expanse of time with no clear end date.

When you put someone in that situation who, on one hand, is a workaholic, checks her work emails constantly and lives at 100mph and in the same breath has crippling anxiety when it comes to the unknown and not having control of a situation, you'd assume it'd be a disaster.

After laying on my bed, staring at the ceiling and fretting for an hour, texting my mum in a panic and speculating with the rest of the group chat, I tried to gain a bit of perspective.

Before lockdown, I was having panic attacks every morning about going into work and dealing with the general public. I was obsessively wiping down my desk, washing my hands and picking things up with tissues. I was now to stay at home, safe. Not everyone else had that privilege. I could now try to make this experience as positive as possible, despite all of the awful things that were going on.

I sat down, and as I often do when I'm trying to calm my anxious mind and take control of a situation, I wrote lists. Lists of everything that I could fill my time with over the coming weeks. Walks. Online exercise classes. Declutter. Write. Read. Practice make-up. And everything else in between. I instantly felt calmer. I can get through this.

And got through it I have, so far. Some days have been better than others. Some days I've woken up with a sunny outlook, bouncing out of bed knowing I can spend the whole day working on my blog, the kind of time I've been longing for for months (under better circumstances!) Other days I've felt nothing short of naff, exhausted and wanting to spend the day under my duvet eating Doritos.

One of the biggest things I've learned has been that in such a turbulent situation, you have to let yourself feel how you feel, whilst keeping perspective. Even though I'm very privileged to be able to stay at home, myself and my family are all healthy and my furlough pay is still enough to pay my bills, it's okay to admit that the situation is still pretty shit. I've been worried for my job security, for my loved ones. So, when I feel the need to spend the day in my pyjamas, eating my feelings and watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off for the millionth time, that's exactly what I've been doing.

I'm missing a lot of things about 'normal' life. Seemingly odd things. Like reading a book in a coffee shop, or having my mum text me to see if I'm home for a cuppa, as she almost always does on a Sunday afternoon. I miss walking around central London, listening to the sounds of the city and being surrounded by people. I miss saying 'screw it, I can't be bothered to cook, pub for tea?'

I miss seeing my friend's little ones grin at me when I walk through the front door, the eldest dragging me off to play princesses or handing me an imaginary cup of tea. I miss squeezing my uni friends after not seeing them for a few months and laughing over cocktails.

I'm trying to find comfort in the little things. Little things like how I feel so much lighter after a FaceTime chat with my friends. But also knowing that it's okay to leave my phone in another room for a while if needed.

Little things like getting totally lost in a book and coming round to reality hours later.

Not having a garden or any form of outside space in lockdown has been one of the things I've found the most tough, but instead I've been finding little sun-spots around the house where I can lie on the floor and feel the sun on my face. Yep, like a cat.

I've been relishing having the time to work on my content. Making to-do lists knowing that I can sack it off halfway through the day if I fancy it in favour of watching Disney in my duvet with a share-bag of chocolate buttons to myself. The rest can wait until tomorrow.

Nine weeks in (I think?) and I'm now facing the possibility that I'm going to be back at work in the next week or so. And that comes with its own anxieties and worries, but perhaps that's a conversation for another day.

But for the most part, my worries about coping with staying at home and not being able to live my life as usual weren't necessary. I guess it just goes to show the resilience of people and how quickly we can adapt to a new normal.

Whether we're in lockdown for another week, three weeks or nine weeks, we'll be okay. On the not-so-positive days, I'll just keep in mind how good it's going to be when I can squeeze my little sister again knowing that it's safe to do so. How much I'm going to savour my first pub tea, or taking an extra second or two to breathe in the sea air on my first post-lockdown trip to the coast.

However you're coping with lockdown, whether you find each day a battle or are adapting, I'm proud of you. Whatever your coping mechanisms, keep going with them. We've all just got to do what we have to in order to get through.

Sian xo

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that I worked with Crownbrush on some content way back in 2018. Earlier on this year, the PR got back in touch and asked if I would like to try some more products, and I jumped at the chance, because I still use the brushes they sent me two years ago all the time! (If you want to check out my original post, you can have a read here.)

Before I started using Crownbrush, I was the kind of person who grabbed the cheapest brushes she could find in Primark and thought 'that'll do.' But this brand has taught me the important of a good quality brush and not only how much easier it is to apply make up with something of a better quality, but also how much easier they are to clean and how much longer they last.

But Crownbrush also proves that you don't have to spend a total fortune on decent brushes. All of their products are really affordable too! I'm so thrilled to be working with them again, so let me talk you through the products that I've been testing out recently.


This time around, I picked up three brushes. The C451 Small Round Buffer BrushC405 Angle Contour Brush and C429 Duo Fibre Crease Brush. Crownbrush prides itself on the fact that their brushes are favoured by a lot of professional make up artists and to be honest, I can see why. The brushes themselves are beautiful, they look sleek and professional which I love. 

I've used all of the brushes now for a couple of months, and I've used the buffer brush every time I've worn make up. I've tried it with both liquid and powder foundation and it works really well with both, and although it's denser than a lot of brushes I'm used to, I think it does such a good job of blending out make up flawlessly. 

These brushes really stand the test of time, they wash really well and look as good as new once they've dried, and I already know from the last set of brushes I received from Crownbrush that even after a couple of years they'll be in great condition. (even if you're like me and aren't 100% on top of cleaning your brushes every week!)


As much as I would love to tell you that I adored every single product I was sent, I have to be honest and say that the Glamstick eyeshadow sticks left much to be desired. I'm such a huge fan of eyeshadow sticks in general because they're just so easy and fuss-free to use for days where I'm either in a rush or just can't be bothered to do something elaborate. I picked up the shades Pearly White and Gold Dust, and I was really intrigued to see what they were like because they seemed a real bargain at £1.99 each (on sale from £3.99).

Unfortunately, they just didn't do it for me. It took a lot of work to get any colour pay off at all, and when you did get it, it was a little underwhelming. While I feel like you can't really complain too much for a couple of quid each, I'd sooner spend a little more on others that I know you get much more bang for your buck.

HD Under Eye Primer

I've always had a big problem with dark circles under my eyes, due to a combination of working long hours and relying on caffeine rather than making sure I get enough sleep! I've quickly become obsessed with the HD Under Eye Primer after using it for the last couple of months. It comes out of the tube looking almost iridescent which seems a bit odd at first, but when you apply it sinks into the skin really quickly. It does such a good job of brightening the eye area, and reducing the appearance of dark circles. The eye primer has become a daily staple for me - both for no make up days and for under my concealer to help it go on more smoothly. And I think for £5.99 you can't really go wrong!

Have you ever tried Crownbrush before? 


I loved writing my last Beauty Empties post so much, that I'm back with another!

This one is a little bit skincare-heavy, but that isn't surprising as I've only been wearing make up once a week to go to the supermarket recently! But there's plenty of skincare and haircare bits that I've been loving over the last few months, so let's dive in!

Garnier Ultimate Blends Haircare

Okay so I'll admit, I might have only bought these for the banana scent. But I'm so glad I did! I've just finished the shampoo & hair mask (the conditioner is still hanging in there, why do they never run out at the same time?!) and I'm definitely putting in an order for some more. They smell divine, like foamy banana sweets, and the shampoo does a really good job of thoroughly cleansing even my thick-af hair. I tend to use the mask once or twice a week, and it leaves my hair feeling so nourished (and again, smelling incredible. Not that I'm obsessed or anything!) But as a combination, the products do a really good job of keeping my hair in good nick, despite how much I punish it with a lot of heat.
Shop the shampoo here
Shop the mask here

L'Oreal Professionnel CC Cream - Blonde

A couple of months ago, I decided to switch up my blonde slightly and go for more of an ashy shade. My hairdresser recommended that I use this colour correcting cream once a week, and it's been an absolute game changer in keeping my blonde ashy and looking fresh. I pop it on towel-dried hair, wait 5-10 minutes (usually by having a sing-along session in my bathroom), rinse. Brassy tones are banished, and my blonde looks brighter. It also smells like the salon, so by the time I'm done I feel like I've just stepped out of the hairdresser's, and I really dig that to be honest.
(Word of warning though, it's bright blue. And messy. But it's worth it, promise.)
Shop here

Beauty Pie Japanfusion Cleanser

I've just finished my second bottle of this cleanser, and I loved it as much as the first. I generally use it as my morning cleanse, which I think it's absolutely perfect for because of the light texture and refreshing feel on the skin. I pop it onto dry skin and I feel like it literally melts away any grime that my face might have picked up through the night, and provides the perfect base for the rest of my skincare routine. I'll be honest, if you're wanting a super deep cleanse, this cleanser probably isn't it, but because this is so lightweight, it's perfect for even sensitive skin like mine.
Shop here

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant 

(In the interest of transparency, this item has been gifted to me by the brand previously, however I paid for this particular bottle out of my own money.)
I will never, ever be without this exfoliator again. It's gentle enough to use every day but leaves your skin feeling like new every single time. As a skincare fan, a daily exfoliator is almost unheard of, but the particles are so tiny, almost like a powder, so it doesn't feel abrasive on the skin at all, and has never irritated it at all.
I've been continuously using it for almost two years now, and it's been an absolute revelation as someone who's suffered from dry skin for years. Don't get me wrong, at £51 for a full-sized bottle, the Microfoliant isn't cheap, but in my mind, it is worth it and the full-sized bottle lasts me well over a year with daily use.
Shop here

The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter

If I had to describe this cleanser in one word, it would be dreamy. I've been a die-hard fan of micellar water for removing make up for years but I must say, it's been fully replaced with this cleansing butter. It feels super luxurious on the skin, and takes off every scrap of make up (it's even okay to use to take eye make up off) and leaves my skin feeling really soft. The camomile feels really soothing for when my skin is having a bit of a sensitive episode, which I love. I'm now onto my second tub and I think it's going to be a staple on my bathroom shelf for a long time!
Shop here

Benefit Gimme Brow 

This is possibly one of my most repurchased products ever. And since we've been on lockdown, it's become even more of a staple, because when I do fancy putting on just a touch of make up, I'm all about a bit of Gimme Brow, BB cream, mascara and done. Minimal effort!
I've never found a brow gel that compares to Gimme Brow, it instantly grooms and adds volume to brows, with just a touch of colour which is locked in all day. 
Shop here

Tell me which beauty products you've been loving lately in the comments!

I hope you're all staying safe and well!

Sian xo

Friendship has been something that I've struggled with for a few years now, mostly since leaving uni. In my late teens and very early twenties, I was someone who always had a good group of friends around her, and my friendships came second only to my family. I was so sociable and always had someone to call upon when I needed a night out, a cry or someone to sit in silence and watch trash telly with.

After I moved away and started working, I found my friendships difficult to maintain, and making new friends was even more tricky. Suddenly I was an adult, working full-time, trying to get enough sleep, remembering to clean my house every so often and getting pushed and pulled in so many directions that something had to give. And rightly or wrongly (although in my opinion, wrongly), my friendships were what fell by the wayside.

It's something that I've been working on for a good year or so now. But since coronavirus started wreaking its havoc all over the world, I've noticed a real shift in the dynamic of the friendships I have. And unbeknownst to me, the new way of life we've all had to adapt as a result of a global pandemic has actually helped to strengthen my friendships and put into perspective the behaviours that I want to take with me into the new, post-Corona normality.

Friendships have become easier to focus your time on since lockdown. I'll be honest, in normal life I'm a pretty inconsistent friend. I'm always thinking of the next thing that I need to tick off my to-do list, fretting about how I'm cram everything into my day. I live my life at a hundred miles an hour and this can result in some serious tunnel-vision.

So sometimes, I forget to call my friends, or text to check in. Or I'll ignore my phone ringing, thinking 'I really don't have the time to be sitting on the phone with you for an hour, I've got too much going on.' And it sounds so selfish when I type it out, and I do feel guilty for it. It isn't deliberate selfishness, it's just that when you spend so much time in a rush and trying to spend every minute productively, you can promise yourself that you'll call them back later, and you get caught up in the next thing. But you never do.

But the thing about lockdown is that it forced me to slow down. My to-do list had been slashed, time no longer exists and all of a sudden, a spontaneous hour on FaceTime with a pal doesn't induce guilt that I should have been getting other stuff done during that time. And when I hang up on that call, whether we've talked about how long we had to queue outside the supermarket the other day or making plans for what we're going to do once 'all this is over', I realise how good that catch up has been for me. How I feel lighter, and I've promised myself each and every time that I'm not going to go back to being the inconsistent friend once I'm back to working non-stop and trying to juggle everything.

But at the same time, the pressure has been taken off. While I value my friendships so highly, when the whole world has been turned topsy-turvy, there are days where I just can't cope with being sociable. For me, my feelings around the current situation have come in massive waves, and there are days where I don't feel like talking to anyone, and I'd sooner just keep to myself for a bit. Sometimes people take that as a sign that I'm not coping, but it's actually the opposite. It's recognising what I need to do to cope with what's going on around me on that particular day. Sometimes it's talking it out, sometimes it's spending my day in a blanket and eating crisps and not speaking to anyone all day. Neither is wrong.

Or there's the occasional day where I've already spoken to my family, done a Zoom quiz, had a catch up with colleagues and seemingly spent my entire day on the phone or FaceTime. And then, another call comes in, or a friend messages asking if I'm free for a catch up. But I already feel so exhausted by it all. Like social burn-out. It sounds like such a first-world problem, doesn't it? But one of the biggest lessons I've learned in this pandemic, is that you've sometimes just got to let yourself feel how you feel when you find yourself in such an extraordinary situation. So I will message back, guilt-free, and suggest that maybe we speak tomorrow instead. After spending a bit of a time reading a book, or binge-watching something, or whatever I feel like I need to do for myself, I can then speak to my friend in a much better headspace than if I spoke to them there and then.

The lovely thing is, that rather than worrying about whether or not my pals will think that I'm neglecting them, I know they'll understand. Because we're all going through something which is totally unprecedented and nothing like we've experienced before, and we're all just trying to do what we can to get through. There's less expectation, and I feel like that's made my friendships feel so much stronger.

I think for me, it's been the little things that have meant the most in lockdown. Little things like hand-written postcards, with a few words of love and encouragement that break up the bills and flyers from Farmfoods that are coming through the door. Something wholesome and tangible that I can put on the mantelpiece and smile at when lockdown life threatens to wear me down.

Other little things like sending the odd text to each other, simply saying 'you okay?' or 'how are you coping?' Not sent out of obligation or remembering that you haven't spoken for a while. Not even a real obligation to follow it up with a long chat. But in those few words, you're letting that other person know that you're thinking of them and you're there for them if they need you. And that's enough.

When there's so much sadness, uncertainty and grief in the world, I think it's important to try to find the positives, no matter how small they might be. For me, the biggest thing I'm going to take away from this pandemic and something that I am grateful for every single day is how much I've learned about friendship. I'm so fortunate to have such wonderful friends, who have kept me sane through all of this.

Once we're into our post-Coronavirus normal, whatever that future might look like, I know exactly which behaviours I'd like to leave firmly in the previous version of normal. Putting more time and energy into my friendships is number one on the list.

Sian xo

While I bloody love beauty, I'm no beauty guru. I'm just your average gal, who got into make up and skincare by chance in her early 20s, taught herself the basics. The rest was history. However, because I am no beauty guru, I still come across trends that BAFFLE me.

If you're the same, don't worry. I've got you. I'm taking beauty trends, breaking them down for you, telling you how I do it and recommending products. No jargon, no technical terms, no specialist equipment. Just simple advice, from someone who has watched a lot of YouTube and practiced.

Starting with... *drum roll, please* multi-masking. Ready?

I first came across multi-masking a couple of years ago, when a brand sent me out a multi-masking kit to have a play around with. I remember unwrapping it and thinking 'what the bloody hell am I supposed to do with it, how do I do it right and why are there no instructions?!' Multi-masking was everywhere at the time, and I just didn't get it. At all.

But, it's very simple. You're simply targeting more than one skin concern, simultaneously.

First thing's first though - to start multi-masking (or using face masks effectively at all), you need to understand your skin type and what your 'skin concerns' are. You might have one factor you need to consider, you might have loads. Take some time to really get to know your skin, it might take a few days or even weeks, but it'll be worth it.

Try to notice changes through the day, and focus on particular areas. If you would say you have oily skin, are there particular areas that are affected? Are you oily all day or do your oil levels change as the day goes on? Is it made worse by wearing make up?

If you're blemish-prone, are there particular areas that you notice your breakouts are worse? Is it affected by where you are in your cycle?

Obviously these factors might change! Your skin might vary and feel totally different depending on hormones, your cycle, stress levels... and that's the beauty of multi-masking! It's totally adaptable once you have the right products.

So now you've started to figure out what your skin type is, you need to find the right masks that will help to address your skin concerns.

As an example, I know that my skin is mostly dry, but I tend to get break outs on my chin and forehead. My T-Zone tends to get a little oily and my skin in general can get a bit dull. Oh, and it can be pretty sensitive when it feels like it too. Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? But although multi-masking can help to tackle a few things at once, you don't need to address everything in one go. I tend to use masks 3-4 times a week, and just keep an eye on how my skin is feeling on the day. This will then help me to decide which masks I'm going to use.

Here are some masks that I love for my own skin concerns:

  • The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Mask - perfect for dealing with breakouts, it dries up spots and gets really into the pores, minimising them and helping to prevent future breakouts. I use this on my T-Zone where I am spot-prone. (I do occasionally use it on my entire face, usually around my period when my breakouts are a little more widespread). 
  • The Body Shop Rose Plumping Mask - smells gorgeous, gel-texture, leaves my skin super soft, and adds a little glow for when my skin is looking dull. (The Body Shop masks also come in mini-versions for you to try out before committing to the large pot!)
  • Revolution x Jake Jamie Cocoa & Oat Face Mask - sometimes you find a mask that smells so good, you just want to eat it. This is one of them. It's also very moisturising and leaves your face feeling super nourished.
  • Lush Oatifix Mask - very similar to the Revolution mask, but I find that Lush's offering is a little more soothing, which I prefer when my skin feels a little bit more sensitive. 
  • Pixi Glow Mud Mask - now this is just glow in a tube. I'm obsessed with it. I love to use it in areas where my skin is looking dull, or feeling a bit congested and breakout prone. It's a lovely texture and works quickly for instant glow as soon as you rinse it off.
  • Beauty Pie Japanfusion Moisture Mask - this is my go-to for when my skin is feeling a bit sensitive. It's full of anti-oxidants, really nourishing and feels so soothing when your skin is a little bit angry.
Okay, now all you need to do is take your masks, and pop them on, matching what each mask does to the affected areas. Remember, you're tailoring your masks to specific skin concerns, so use as many as you feel you need to. 

One of my usual combinations is the Himalayan Charcoal mask on my forehead and chin, and the Rose Plumping Mask everywhere else. This then tackles any breakouts, gets rid of any oiliness that has built up through the day, as well as smoothing my skin, adding moisture and making my face look fresh as a daisy, all in one fell swoop.

Other tips for effective masking:
  1. Use a brush - this has been an absolute game-changer for me. Masking brushes are really inexpensive (I use this one from Revolution), and it's so much less messy when you apply, and helps you to get an even layer of product on your skin and it lasts so much longer.
  2. Use lukewarm water to rinse off - I can't tell you how many years I spent assuming I had to use hot water to wash my face but nope. Using hot water dries your skin out and heightens sensitivity, which sucks if you've spent the last 15 minutes trying to deal with dryness! Lukewarm water is best!
  3. Pat skin dry - It's almost a natural reaction to rub at your skin with your towel once your skincare is done, but don't. Patting your skin dry avoids irritation, so try to get in the habit!
And that's it! You're now fully-versed in multi-masking! It's a lot more simple than you thought, right?

I really hope you found this post helpful. I'm hoping to do more of these beauty trend posts, let me know in the comments which topics you'd like to see next! I'm thinking contouring, or eyeshadow looks? What do you think?

Sian xo 

I'd been dreading this day for ages. Probably years. The day I got my first wrinkle. I'd read somewhere that you officially start to age at 26, and I was very conscious of it. Once my 26th birthday had been and gone in January, I found myself keeping an eye on my skin a lot more and perhaps getting a little over-zealous on the eye cream (because your eyes are the first place to show it, so I hear).

The day that I found my first wrinkle was just an ordinary day. I was due to leave the house to pick my boyfriend up from work, and had popped into the bedroom to find a hoodie for the drive. I took a quick look in the mirror - I don't know why, with not a scrap of make up on and unbrushed hair, I knew I looked a bit of a mess but seeing as I was staying in the car it wasn't really relevant.

I don't know how long it had been there. Maybe days, maybe weeks and I had no idea. But I caught sight of it, clear as anything. A singular line across my forehead. Well, shit. My first wrinkle.

I think I must have stood there for a minute, just staring at it. You know how once you see something, like when you notice a friend has lipstick on their teeth or someone wearing socks and sandals, and you just can't unsee it? Same thing. Every time I looked away from the mirror and looked back again, it was the first thing I saw. That bloody line across my forehead.

When I thought previously about what I might feel like when this day came, I assumed I'd be in floods of tears. But do you know what I did? After muttering out various expletives while I stretched the skin on my forehead this way and that in the hope that the line would disappear, I laughed. Really laughed. And I couldn't stop laughing! Even when I jumped straight on Instagram Stories to ask for recommendations for skincare to help prevent any more of the little buggers appearing, I was chuckling away. Perhaps that was to keep myself from crying though, I'm not sure.

You might be reading this post and rolling your eyes at me, thinking 'get a grip girl, it's only a wrinkle!' And do you know what, the rational side of my brain agrees with you. The rational, grown up, cool calm and collected part of me knows that it's only one wrinkle, which is actually only noticeable to me. That it's an inevitable part of life and no amount of lotions and potions will halt the process entirely. Yep, I know all of that.

But if I'm being entirely honest, I am shit-scared of getting older. It's something I've been wrestling with in my head for a year or so now. I hit 25 and all of a sudden I realised that I could never get my time back, I was hurtling towards 30 at an alarming speed and desperately wanted to slam the brakes on. It's dawned on me that this whole life thing is pretty fragile and you don't get any do-overs. 

My biggest fear, is getting it all wrong, and not having any control to do it differently. And that little wrinkle, the one I had to point out to my boyfriend and get all up in his face for him to notice (he laughed, a lot), was the physical proof that nope, I'm not going to be young forever.

I know it all sounds a little bit morbid, and to be honest that wasn't my intention for this post, I was actually hoping for it to be a bit of a giggle. But perhaps it's be a bit cathartic to get some of the things that have been keeping me up at night off my chest. 

So - what happened? I spoke to a friend with excellent skincare knowledge, immediately went online and ordered some anti-ageing products. All while cursing under my breath that I'd been using eye cream since I was 22/23, not even thinking that my forehead might be the first place! I laughed about it a little more, about how it's such a first-world problem. Stifled tears, and then just felt a bit gloomy.

Then I thought of all of the people I know who are a little older than me, but I never think of as 'older' or 'with wrinkles.' I thought of all of the people I knew on Instagram who are absolutely bossing it over 30, or over 40. Are their fine lines the first thing I notice when they post a selfie? Absolutely not. 

I thought of all of the women in my life. Mum, my godmother, friends who might be just nudging 30 or over, a milestone that I am currently terrified of. When I think of those women, do I think of whether or not they've 'aged well' or how many lines they might have? Nope. I think of their sense of humour, their hugs, their personalities. Cheesy, I know. But a very important reminder that in a sense, all of my worrying is superficial. Having a wrinkle or two won't change my character, my passions or make those close to me love me any less.

Okay, I'm still very torn over the whole wrinkle thing. I'm not someone who will be able to immediately 'embrace' the ageing process, and I think it's something I will struggle with for a long time. I will probably buy every anti-ageing product under the sun and always use spf and I'll always worry about whether or not I'm getting 'life' right. But that's okay. I know I'm probably not the only one. 

Do you remember when you discovered your first wrinkle? I want to hear some stories! Funny or otherwise, did anyone else react as badly as I did?!

Sian xo

My friends know that they can come to me for two things: make up and skincare advice, and book recommendations. Don't ask me what to watch on Netflix, because I probably will just tell you to re-watch Friends over and over, but if you need a new read, I'm here for you!

I'm seeing so many people at the moment looking for recommendations on what to read, because they're finding that now we're in lockdown, they've got all this time on their hands to read when they wouldn't usually! I know that I've been flying through books over the last two weeks, because I feel like I can finally sit and read without feeling guilty that I should be doing other things!

I thought I would put together a little list for people who don't usually get the time to read in their 'normal' day-to-day lives, who might be feeling a little bit lost at which books to try. So, here is my must-read list, books you can fly through, books you can really get your teeth into, books I've absolutely loved myself and hope you will too!

Before we get too stuck in, I discovered several of these books through Beth's Book Club, which I joined in the summer. It's wonderful. Beth picks out some incredible books each month and there's a lovely little community of fellow book worms - I can't recommend joining enough!

1. The Flat Share - Beth O'Leary

This is a Beth's Book Club pick, and I only read this myself a couple of weeks ago. I loved it. It's the perfect rom-com. The Flat Share tells the story of Tiffy & Leon, both in dire straits who come up with a very unique living situation where they share a flat, and a bed, but haven't met. Utterly loveable characters, well-written, easy to read and a storyline which will make you feel all warm and fuzzy. This is one that I will always keep a copy of on my bookshelf, because I just KNOW I will read it over and over again.

2. Before I Go To Sleep - SJ Watson

I'm pretty certain that I've mentioned this on my blog before, but I'll never stop raving about it. After a tragic accident, Christine wakes up every morning having forgotten who she is, her memories and everyone she loves. She doesn't know who she can trust - including her husband. Intriguing, no? I was gripped from page 1, I love a thriller and this didn't disappoint because I just thought it was so clever. There's always a danger with these kinds of books having a really predictable ending but I definitely didn't feel that way about this book!

3. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

If you're going to read a classic book, make it this one. Trust me, it's wonderful. Reading a novel which deals with huge issues such as racism, from the perspective of a little girl, is something totally unique and Scout (said little girl) is such a brilliant character. My copy looks battered because it's so well loved!

4. The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah

Set in the Second World War, the Nightingale tells the story of two sisters who fight for survival in war-torn Europe in very different ways. I'll be honest, it took me until about a third of the way into the book to properly get into the story, but once I was in, I was in. Having two such strong lead female characters was amazing to read. The story was heartbreaking and empowering all at the same time, and I finished it bawling my eyes out, so be warned! 

5. The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train is one of my all-time favourite thrillers. Rachel is the 'girl on the train', who gets the same commuter train every day, passes the same row of houses, and in her mind, thinks she knows all about those living there. One day, she notices something different on her commute and it changes everything. It's fast-paced, it's dark and full of twists. I think I must have read it in a matter of days because it kept me so gripped. If you've ever read 'Gone Girl', you need to read this too!

6. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

As well as a thriller, I love a dystopian novel. And the Handmaid's Tale is probably my favourite. I'm a huge fan of Margaret Atwood and her writing style, clever but still easy to read. Set in a future America, where the Gilead Regime has overthrown the Government and turned the social structure upside down, particularly the role of women. I'll be honest, it's pretty startling to read as a woman but it's brilliant. (P.S. if you read this, follow it up with the Testaments which is the sequel. Equally amazing.)

7. Eve of Man - Tom & Giovanna Fletcher

Yes, I might have only read this based off the fact that I am a Tom & Gi super-fan. But I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this! It's aimed at young adults but I wouldn't say it's 'too young' for someone to read in their 20s/30s. It's just a really enjoyable read, exploring a world where a baby girl isn't born for 50 years. So, when Eve is born, it's up to her to ensure the survival of the human race. 

Let me know on social media if you read any of these books and what you thought! Also send me some recommendations too, because I will be flying through books for the duration of quarantine!

Sian xo 

Even as a beauty fanatic, I struggle to find the time for a proper good pamper. Except for when I remember to church a face mask on a Sunday evening.

But in the last week or so, I've (obviously) found I've had a lot more time on my hands, and with that I have been snapping up the opportunity to really look after myself and nail the whole pampering thing. Which has been an absolute god-send when I've felt myself getting anxious over everything that's going on in the world at the moment.

For anyone who doesn't know where to start but wants to treat themselves to some 'you time', here is my ultimate routine to take me from crawling up the walls with cabin fever or with high anxiety levels to zen af. 

Step One: A long shower or bath.
I find that this is the perfect tonic for being stuck in the house when your family/other half/housemates/whoever you live with are driving you crazy. Lock the bathroom door, run some hot water and breathe. Either with music, or in silence if you prefer. Wash away the tension. Take your time. You'll feel so much better.

Step Two: Use matching shampoo & conditioner.
You know that feeling when your bra and knickers match? When you feel totally empowered and like you really have your sh*t together? It's the same when you use matching shampoo and conditioner. Go for a scent that you really love. I'm crazy about the Garnier Ultimate Blends banana range right now. Mostly because it smells like the foamy banana sweets that I used to get as a kid, and the scent lingers on your hair for ages. Divine.
Remember a hair mask for extra levels of luxury!

Step Three: Shave your legs, if you feel like it.
If smooth legs makes you want to prance around your house in shorts like a goddess, do it. If not, that's cool, skip to the next step!

Step Four: Put on fresh PJs and let your hair air dry.
I always feel so satisfied when I've not put my hair through blow-drying. And we all know how wonderful fresh pyjamas are for your mood.

Step Five: Double cleanse.
You'll be amazed how different your skin feels after a double cleanse. I like to start with a balm, something like Beauty Pie's Plantastic Apricot Balm, or The Body Shop Cleansing Butter. Followed up by something light and fresh, Too Faced's Hangover Wash the Day Away cleanser is a current favourite. My advice would be to really take your time with this step to ensure a squeaky-clean feeling. The perfect solution to a day or two (or five) languishing about the house!

Step Six: Exfoliate.
It's so easy when you're busy (or when you're just sitting around at home) to forget about a proper skincare routine. But I find a good exfoliator or peel helps to fix that, by getting right into the pore and dragging out all of the grime and gross stuff.

Step Seven: Face mask time.
It wouldn't be a pamper session without a face mask now, would it?! But BEFORE you go and grab any old mask off your bathroom shelf, I want you to stop for a second. How's your skin been feeling lately? Has it been getting dry with being indoors a lot? (Because bloody hell I know mine has!) Are you breaking out? Is it generally looking a bit tired? Or a combination? Now, go and find a mask that'll tackle your concerns, and don't be afraid to multi-mask! I think we can all be guilty of just using any old product and hoping it does the trick. But take your time! You're pampering! Stick on some music, or read a book and chill. And now that you've chosen a mask that will actually do your skin some good, you'll feel so much more like you once it's done.

Step Eight: Do your nails and brows.
Now I know it's a real first world problem with all that's going on, but now that all salons are shut I'm trying to embrace doing my nails and eyebrows at home. While my first thought is ugh effort, it's not so bad with an episode of Friends on in the background and thoughts of the snack I'm going to have once my nails are dry.

Step Nine: Put your phone away.
Social media and the news can be pretty overwhelming, especially at the moment. Switching off as part of my pamper routine is helping me A LOT.
Put it in another room. Grab a hot drink and put on a film or TV show that makes you smile, or get lost in a book. Switch off from the real world for a bit while you enjoy your fabulous-smelling hair and admire your nails. You'll feel loads better.

What do you like to do as part of your pamper routine?

Sian xo

Everyone needs a strong role model in their life and for me, that's my mum. The lady who raised my brother, my sister and me pretty much single-handedly, all whilst going through a lot of sh*t herself. She's bloody amazing.

A huge amount of what I know about being an adult, my values and general attitude to life, I learned from Mum. She's been such an influence on me, and so in honour of one of my favourite people in the whole world on Mother's Day, here are all the things I learned from Mum.

1. How to cook
I'd have had NO CHANCE once I'd moved out if it wasn't for Mum. The year before I went to uni, she bought me a student cookbook and got me to cook at home once a week. She also got me a slow-cooker, which was an absolute life saver. I'd still be on beans on toast and oven chips if it wasn't for her!

2. How to check my tyre pressure
I didn't even know this was a thing until about six months into owning a car. I was whinging to her that it wasn't driving right. She took one look at me tyres, raised her eyebrow at me (the 'Mum look', when you're know you're in trouble without her even saying anything), and took me straight to Morrison's to show me how to do it. Yes, I was 24 years old at the time. I didn't know, okay!

3. How to make a decent cuppa
The most important life skill of them all.

4. How to talk openly about mental health
When we were growing up, Mum always talked about mental health. It was obviously very simplified and child-friendly, as in 'sometimes people feel sad or cry and they don't really know why, but that's normal and people can help'. And she always encouraged us to talk openly to her about how we're feeling. So when I started to suffer with depression and anxiety when I was 20, I didn't worry at all about telling Mum how I was feeling. And because I could talk about it so openly at home, I can still talk about my ongoing struggle with anxiety now.

5. How to put make-up on
I remember the first time Mum showed me how to put make up on so clearly. I think I was 11 or 12, absolutely bawling my eyes out about having to go to school with an enormous spot on my forehead. (I was clearly very much struggling with puberty at this point!) Mum took her Avon foundation, and showed me how to dab a tiny bit onto the spot and blend it out. Ta-da! I felt so much between, went to school without whinging, and so began a long-standing love affair with all things make up.

6. Family is everything
I definitely get my family-orientated attitude from Mum. Growing up, it was the four of us against the world and we tackled every hurdle, every tough situation together. And we still do. We all know that we'll always have each other no matter what happens, and we always make each other first priority.

7. Never settle!
Mum's such an amazing example of this. She was single for 15 years before meeting my stepdad, and when we used to tease her for being too fussy, she'd just smile and say that there's no point settling for something that isn't 100% right. Which is advice I haven't always taken advantage of in the past! But she's so right.

8. How to talk about... ahem... the 'S' word...
It was always the rule in our household that you could go to Mum with any sex or relationship related questions or worries without judgement. And she genuinely meant that. So while some people wouldn't dare mention the 's' word around their parents, I was very lucky that I could. Mum still laughs now, because I used to speak to her about boys/sex at 14 or 15 and then say 'Okay, this conversation never happened!' and carry on with my day.

9. ... But watching sex scenes in films whilst sat next to her will never not be awkward 
There's some lines you just can't cross

10. You don't need two parents to feel whole

Sian xo

Dear 16 Year Old Sian,

Bloody hell, 10 years has gone by in a flash. Thats the thing with getting older, the time passes more quickly and the years that seemed to stretch out for forever are simply fleeting moments in time. (I sound like I'm about 68 saying that but the principle still stands!)

16 Year Old Sian, I'm writing to you because I remember what it was like. I remember how much you struggled, how lonely you felt. How you lost all of your confidence and spent most of your time wondering how you'd ever make it through to uni.

Well, my girl, I'm here to tell you a few things that I wish I'd known then. And to show you that you make it through all of that crap, and you actually turn out pretty okay.

You're full of ambition right now, and you dream big. Don't lose that. Adulthood has a way of limiting your ambition, under the guise of 'being realistic'. But keep dreaming as much as you want to, because that will give you your purpose.

You work so ridiculously hard, you'll get to the point where you'll wish you had the same work ethic as you do now (trust me, I know). Keep that going. It'll all be worth it.

I know you have your grand life plan, and you're adamant that you know exactly what you want from life and how you'll get there. And that's amazing, because you're so bloody driven. But know that sometimes a grand life plan doesn't always work out the way that you hope. Which I know is your worst nightmare, and I won't lie to you, it's stressful. But try to embrace it. Another door will be opening.

You'll hate it, but Mum's (almost) always right. And while we're on that topic, I know how much you worry about her, but you don't need to. She's going to be just fine.

Try to spend less time worrying about what others think of you. In a few years, when you've left high school behind, your reputation and position in the Sixth Form hierarchy really won't matter any more.

And especially don't waste your time trying to win over the people who you know have whispered behind your back. You'll never win. And give it a few years and you won't even remember their names anyway.

Stop worrying (obsessing) about your weight. Eat the bloody cake. Stop punishing yourself at the gym. Your weight doesn't define your worth, and there is a hell of a lot more to you than the number on the labels in your clothes. It's going to take you some time to realise that, but you'll get there.

Oooh also, you're soon going to get the urge to buy a box hair dye and attempt to go dark brown. DO. NOT. DO. IT. It took me years to fix that mistake.

You're going to get your heart broken. A fair few times, actually. The people who were never supposed to hurt you, sometimes do. Just know that when it does happen, even when it feels like you'll never be happy again, you will. With the help of your friends and a lot of wine.

And it isn't just boyfriends who can break your heart. Family members too. And you'll let them upset you, manipulate you and take advantage of your good nature because you feel like you have to put up with their behaviours, because they're family. Know this - YOU DO NOT OWE A TOXIC PERSON A PLACE IN YOUR LIFE BECAUSE THEY ARE A BLOOD RELATION. I can't tell you how much I wish I'd come to this realisation sooner.

Trust me, Sian, I remember what it was like for you. I remember feeling so isolated and lonely, coming home in tears every evening. Wondering how much longer Sixth Form would last before I could run away, A-Levels in hand, into the sunset and a new life. But hang in there. You're just around the corner from making the best friends of your life, coming out of your shell and finding your confidence again. Don't get me wrong, you'll still have struggles. But you'll be you. 

Oh and Sian, don't worry. You've got this.

26 Year Old Sian xo

That's right, I'm bringing back the old school blog posts!

No, I'm not writing this post because I've run out of ideas. I just thought I'd give you a little insight into my handbag essentials as someone who is always on the go and rarely changes her bags over... so it needs to contain everything I could possibly need.

(Please also bear in mind that my handbag also contains a lot of unwanted receipts and the occasional forgotten-about chocolate bar)

Lip balm
I often forget to put on lipstick, and I nearly always forget to top it up through the day. But I often find that a little bit of lip balm is all I need. I'm obsessed with Glossier's Balm Dotcom at the minute, the birthday flavour is everything!

Hand cream
I've found that my hands have been getting really dry this Winter, so hand cream has been an absolute staple for me. I swear by the Body Shop hand cream, I'm obsessed with the strawberry scent, it makes my hands super-soft and it absorbs really quickly so it's easy to put on, put back in my handbag and then get on with the rest of my day.

Face mist
I definitely do not have the time to be topping up my make up through the day, especially when it's a busy day in the office or I'm out and about. So I always keep a mini face mist in my handbag, I find a quick spritz is perfect to refresh my make up and add a little extra glow to see me through. I love the Body Shop mists, I have one in each of my handbags so I know I always have one with me.

Mini Next perfume
I am obsessed with Next perfume, they're so affordable and smell way more expensive than they are. You can get the little bottles for about £4, they're perfect to pop in your handbag for a quick top-up through the day.

Phone charger
I'm usually in the office for 9-10 hours a day, and I'm a bugger for forgetting to charge my phone. I always keep a charger in my bag (I've noticed that if I keep them in my desk drawer they go walkabouts!) because I can't be doing without my little TikTok scroll while I'm making the 3pm brew. (If you're my boss and you're reading this, I don't actually do that honest...)

Soft mints
I work in a client-facing office and I'm partial to beef Hula Hoops with my Tesco meal deal (don't @ me, everyone knows they're the best flavour) so some form of mints is an absolute essential!

Mini concealer
I know I said I don't have time to top up my make up through the day. And I really don't. But I feel like I always need to be prepared for an emergency where a spot might appear out of the blue or I cry over my stress levels so my make-up is halfway down my face. And this little tiny version of Tarte's Shape Tape concealer is perfect to keep in my bag.

Because you never know when you might need a messy bun!

What are your handbag essentials?

Sian xo