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.

Love,
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.

Brushes

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!)


Glamsticks

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? 

Love,
Sian


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!

Love,
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.

Love,
Sian xo