I can't believe October is pretty much over - where has this past month gone? I feel like it has been quite a while since I sat down and just had a little chat with you guys, and since it's the end of the month I have quite a bit to share. October has been quite an exciting (yet equally tiring) month, and although I've uploaded a lot of things on my social media, I also want my blog readers to get an insight into my life. I've also discovered quite a few new favourites this month that I couldn't wait to share, surprisingly none of which are beauty related for a change! So make sure you keep reading to hear what I've been up to and what I'm loving at the moment!

October has been a super busy month for me, as I’ve really been trying hard to get more involved within my university and the community. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to apply to volunteer at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, who if you don’t know was a Victorian novelist that actually lived in Manchester for 15 years. My induction is next week and I’m really excited to start and get involved in the many things going on, including the tours of the house, tea room and all the extra events and activities that are planned. I’ve also decided to become a peer mentor in my university, which means that I’ll be there to support any first-year students that need help. It’s been a few years since I did any volunteering and so I’m really looking forward to getting back into it, plus these are both exciting and rewarding opportunities to be involved in.

Also in October, I went to watch Jon Bellion at Manchester Academy, which was a really enjoyable evening. He is one of my boyfriend’s favourite artists and I quite enjoy his music too, and the show was honestly so entertaining and enjoyable throughout. Going to gigs has quickly become one of my favourite pastimes and this one was no exception, and I can't wait to book tickets for some others hopefully in the near future!

Aside from these, I’ve honestly been drowning in uni work. Although I’ve spent time with friends and had chill evenings with my housemates, a lot of my time has been dedicated to writing essays, since I have three deadlines coming up that are all within the space of ten days. But I’m slowly powering through, and hopefully, it’ll be over before I know it!

In summer, one of my best friends and I both decided to get our second lobe piercings, and since then I was counting down the days until I could finally take them out and change up the earrings. It's been a few weeks now and I decided to treat myself to some dainty gold hoops to wear in the new holes, and I'm honestly in love with how this looks. I can't wait to play around with so many different earring combinations!

As I mentioned in my last blog post where I discussed how I've been using silicone-free hair products for the last month, I've been absolutely adoring the Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food in Aloe Vera and Coconut, and I genuinely think it has helped to transform my hair. My previously dry and frizzy ends now feel a lot more nourished and cared for, and I've still got tons of this product left to keep my hair in great condition.

In my free time (although I've had very little of it due to the countless essays), I've actually been watching a couple of shows. Season 4 of The Good Place started on Netflix a few weeks ago, which I've been thoroughly enjoying, and I also watched all six episodes of Breaking Fashion after my friend Kate recommended it, which is a really interesting series all about the fast fashion industry. It's also been nice to have a bit of downtime watching these after long and difficult days of studying, and if you have any more recommendations I'd love to hear them.

You know it's officially the festive season when Costa's Christmas menu starts! I went into one the other week and was pleasantly surprised to see all of their festive drinks and treats on sale, and I couldn't help but order the Hazelnut Praline Hot Chocolate, which was my favourite from last year. As expected, it definitely lived up to my memory, and you can bet I'll be having another one sometime soon!

What have your favourites been this October? Make sure to let me know by leaving a comment!

Cutting out silicone from my hair products for a month, has it made a difference

Up until a couple of months ago, I was completely oblivious to what silicones were and how they can damage your hair, so you can tell that I was surprised by this discovery and hearing about their potentially damaging effects. For those of you who don't know, silicones build up around the hair shaft and give the appearance of health and shine, however in excess they weigh down your hair and make it appear greasy and dull. As someone who suffers from greasy roots, I was intrigued to find out more and decided to completely cut out silicones from my hair products over the past month, so keep reading to find out the results.

When deciding to go silicone-free, I opted for the Garnier Ultimate Blends Coconut Water shampoo and conditioner. I wanted something that I'd heard positive reviews of and from a brand that I trusted, yet was still affordable (if eliminating silicones worked out, I didn't want to be paying £50 per bottle!) These silicone-free products aim to help hydrate your hair without weighing it down, which is what I needed as my hair was seemingly dry and dehydrated (especially the ends) yet since it's quite fine it can tend to look flat and limp. The coconut water hydrates the hair and prevents it from breaking, and the aloe vera contains proteolytic enzymes which repairs dead skin cells on the scalp, both of which sounded ideal for my hair.

I also purchased the Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food, again opting for the aloe vera one, after hearing some amazing reviews of it online. This 3-in-1 product can be used as a substitute for your usual conditioner, as a rapid hair mask or in small amounts as a leave-in conditioner. It's 98% natural, has a vegan formula and aims to make the hair look nourished and shinier in a natural way, opposed to containing silicones. This product comes in four different varieties (papaya for damaged hair, banana for dry hair, coconut for frizzy hair, and aloe vera for normal hair) and the incredibly large tub means it'll hopefully last me quite some time.

Cutting out silicone from my hair products for a month, has it made a difference

So... what were the results?

I have to admit, my hair not only looks a lot healthier and shinier but also feels it, and I'm really impressed with how these products have performed after only a month. The dehydrated ends of my hair have been much better and definitely seems more nourished. I have also recently had my hair trimmed and added some highlights, so in combination with this my hair is definitely looking and feeling so much better.

I have to say, I absolutely love the Hair Food mask, and think that it has worked wonders on the ends of my hair. It does everything it claims to do and honestly just leaves my hair looking and feeling so much more nourished and cared for. I tend to concentrate it on the ends of my hair rather than applying it throughout, and it also helps to detangle my hair. I'd definitely be interested in trying the papaya one, as my hair can appear a bit damaged at the ends, but I have to say that I couldn't be happier with this product!

Despite this, I perhaps think that the shampoo isn't quite right for me. My roots are naturally greasy, not because of a build-up of silicones but just because that's the way they are, despite the ends of my hair being dry. I've found that whilst using this shampoo my hair has started to look considerably greasy the day after washing, and I can't last as long as usual in between washes, which is probably due to the shampoo aiming to hydrate hair and reinject moisture. Although this is ideal for the ends of my hair, my roots haven't been coping well with this shampoo, and so I probably won't be repurchasing it. If you have dry or normal hair then I'm confident you will love this product, however if you're like me and prone to greasiness then perhaps other silicone-free shampoos will work better.

So in summary, I really have noticed the difference in cutting out silicones from my hair products, and I don't think I'll be going back anytime soon! If you've opted for silicone-free hair products then I'd love to know your thoughts, so make sure you leave a comment!

If you're currently in university and studying an essay-based subject, you'll know just how much reading is required. I sometimes feel like most of my time is taken up by reading a variety of novels, plays and poems, even though this only skims the surface of what I have to do. Despite studying English literature and therefore having a very reading-heavy degree, I tend to organise it quite well and get through all of my texts, and so I thought I'd answer some of your questions about managing your university reading list and keeping up with it all!

My university reading list is so expensive - are there any more affordable ways of buying the books?
I'm lucky enough to work part-time in Waterstones and therefore have a staff discount, and so twice a year I will head into my store with a list as long as my arm of books that I need. Although this helps to make it a lot more affordable, I understand that not everyone will have this. I highly recommend buying your books secondhand on Amazon, as they are incredibly affordable and still great quality, although you may have to wait a week or so for them to arrive. If your university has a Blackwells on campus then they are also worth checking out, and will often sell bundles of books for each module at a discounted price. It's also worth asking around if you know older students on your course as they may be willing to sell or give away their old texts, and charity shops are also useful if you don't need to have a specific edition.

Alternatively, you can always find the texts in your university library, although they will most likely be limited in copies and you'll only have a short time before needing to return them. There's also the issue of not being able to annotate the texts, so if you're someone who learns by scrawling all over your books then it perhaps isn't the best method for you. I swear by the library for any secondary reading and resources that I perhaps only need a couple of quotations or ideas from, but all of my primary reading I prefer to buy.

Is it necessary to read all of the texts on your reading list?
I'll be honest, it isn't easy getting through all of the books on your reading list, especially when they're the kind of book where you sit down and read for hours only to realise you've only made it through 15 pages. As soon as I receive my reading lists, I go through them and highlight which texts I want to focus on in-depth or feel like I will use for any essays or exams, and that way I can focus more attention and time on reading those. Although I'd recommend reading all of the books, sometimes that isn't possible, and focusing on completing a few with a thorough understanding is better than each one being half-finished. If there are any books you can't complete before the lecture, make sure you read summaries and know what happens in the rest of it, and then you can finish it at a later date.

How can I get through all of my books and make reading manageable?
In terms of making time for reading all the books, it's really just about using every free moment you get to read, even if it's only a couple of pages. Whether that's on a bus journey, your lunch break or before you go to bed, every little bit will make a difference and help you get through the texts. I've had days of reading for probably 8-10 hours with only breaks for meals, and although it's difficult it's sometimes necessary.

It's also important to make reading an enjoyable process, not something that you have to do. Whether that's by getting cosy in bed with your novel or treating yourself to a cup of tea and a slice of cake in a cafe to accompany your reading, make it feel more like a hobby than a chore. At the end of the day, your degree should be something that interests you and so you should try and remember this whilst powering through your reading.

What do you do if a text is incredibly difficult and you can't understand it?
It's inevitable that we will all encounter difficult material at times, especially with subjects like English literature where reading poetry from the 14th century can feel like a completely different language. If you're struggling, I'd recommend doing as much research as possible, as well as reading alongside summaries or translations to help your understanding. If that still doesn't help, there's no shame in asking a tutor for help or someone on your course to explain it to you!

How do you remember what happens in all of your books?
When there are countless texts to read, it can be easy to get confused or to start forgetting details. I'd recommend writing down little notes as you go along to remind you of important plot points, features or details that you might otherwise forget. Also, watching Youtube videos or reading relevant articles can help to jog your memory of any important details.

There is so much going on within each text - how do I know what to focus on when reading?
I completely understand this concern, as there can be many different things happening and it's hard to know where to start and focus your attention. A good way in is to look at the essay questions relating to that book and keep in mind any particular themes or arguments that they discuss when reading it. You may also benefit from asking your tutors what they plan on focusing on in seminars and tailor your reading around these points. If you're reading after the lecture, you can also use those perspectives and arguments to frame your reading.

How do you manage your university reading? Let me know in the comments below!

Sustainability is something that is littered across newspaper headlines and talked about frequently online at the moment, but it's not just a fashion trend to jump on board with or a news story that'll blow over in a few weeks. Our planet is becoming more in danger from an inescapable climate crisis, and like many others, I am incredibly aware of how many of our decisions indirectly harm the environment. Although it's easy for everyone to say that they want to help, it can sometimes seem like an impossible task to do alone and that an individual's actions won't make a difference. However, I thought I'd write this post to share some small changes that you can make in your everyday life to become more sustainable and eco-friendly, all of which are easy to implement and prove how everyone can make a difference.

Drink from a reusable water bottle
A major change that I’ve implemented in my daily routine over the past few years is using a reusable water bottle. I’ll admit, it’s a difficult habit to break simply buying plastic water bottles and using them once, especially if you’re on-the-go and thirsty with no other option. But just think about all the plastic waste caused by this, plus it ends up being a lot more expensive! For probably about 4 years now, I’ve favoured reusable water bottles and you can guarantee that I have mine with me wherever I go - uni, work, dance, you name it!

Say goodbye to makeup wipes
Some people use makeup wipes religiously, but just think about how much waste that generates in a week, let alone a lifetime! Not only are there many claims that they are bad for the skin by only removing the upper-most layer of makeup and dirt, but they aren't biodegradable and so stick around for a long time. Instead, I'd highly recommend investing in a cleansing balm or lotion to use with a flannel, which you can simply pop in the washing machine to use again and again. There is also the added bonus of giving your skin a thorough cleanse, ensuring no dirt will be left behind. This is something I've done for a long time (I've always found that makeup wipes hardly work for me, especially since I usually wear waterproof mascara) and although it requires a bit more effort, it makes a massive difference to both your skin and the environment.

Eat less meat
Many recent studies claim that the biggest change anyone can make to help our planet is to reduce their meat intake. Although the two may seem unrelated at first, you have to consider the greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock industry, as well as land and water used in these operations. Cutting out meat altogether seems like an impossible task (I'll admit, I'd miss the roast dinners and chicken kormas) but instead, having one vegetarian meal a week seems a lot more manageable and makes a huge difference. Since starting university, I've been experimenting with various vegetarian recipes and I've honestly enjoyed going meat-free a few days of the week, and it's a lot easier than you think once you get the hang of it. I might actually write a whole blog post about easy and affordable vegetarian meals for students if that's something you'd be interested in seeing!

Buy clothes secondhand
You honestly won't believe some of the bargains there are to find in charity shops these days! Although the stereotype is that they only contain old, musty jumpers that are 5 sizes too big and aren't in style at all, this really isn't the case. I've been in various charity shops in Manchester and there are actually some lovely items to be had in there, as long as you've got a keen eye. In fact, only a couple of weeks ago I spotted a gorgeous dress from I Saw It First that was originally £20 but was only £3 in the charity shop - and it was my size! A lot of water and chemicals, as well as manual labour and shipping, go into producing clothes, and so it definitely makes a difference to avoid fast fashion and wearing things once and investing in charity shops instead.

Use a menstrual cup
Period products are one of the leading sources of single-use plastics for women, yet they’re something that we all rely on every month. But there are many other options: I made the switch to a menstrual cup about 6 months ago and honestly haven’t looked back since. I decided to give it a go for other reasons aside from sustainability - it's a lot more comfortable and practical for exercise, plus you can get up to 12 hours of use before having to empty it. However, there are lots of environmentally friendly benefits too! The OrganiCup is made from medical-grade silicone, meaning it is vegan and not harmful to the environment. Not only that, but it lasts for years as opposed to using it once and then throwing it away, which reduces waste and also saves a lot of money!

Always have a reusable bag to hand
I'll admit that it's happened to me many times: I'm out shopping for quite a few items, and suddenly I'm at the till without a bag and no choice but to pay 5 pence for a plastic one. And although we all tell ourselves that we'll keep those plastic bags and reuse them, how often do we actually stick to that and take them out for the next shopping trip? That's why I'd highly recommend purchasing a cheap fabric tote bag to chuck all of your items in, as they can easily be compressed and kept in your handbag and will considerably reduce the plastic waste caused by frequently buying new bags. They're also much more durable and less likely to tear, so it's definitely worth the small investment.

I'd love to know some of your sustainable solutions for everyday problems, so make sure you let me know down in the comments!