When I started my degree, I never expected that I'd spend my final year as a virtual student. The pandemic has caused my university to suspend all face-to-face teaching until the end of this year, meaning I probably won't be on campus until after Christmas. Pretty much everyone who I've spoken to has said that they're unhappy about this change and would much rather attend classes in person if the virus wasn't around, but I'm in the small minority of people who actually enjoy and somewhat prefer online teaching! If you're school or university is online this semester and you're struggling with this change, keep reading to hear my advice on making the most of it and staying productive in these strange circumstances.

Make a work schedule, then don't be afraid to break it

I know this sounds contradictory - why would you need to make a schedule if you're going to ignore it - but just hear me out on this one. When you're working from home, it can be easy to lounge around without getting any work done, so a schedule helps to stay on task and give your day some structure. I like to make mine based on an actual day of university, leaving breaks for meals and sticking to the average hours I'd work on a normal day so that it doesn't feel overwhelming. 

Having said that, don't feel as though this timetable is set in stone. Working from home allows you to be flexible and do things at your own pace, so you're free to do a lecture at midnight or have a lie-in if that's what works best for you. Although a schedule is a good framework to get you started, don't be too hard on yourself if you need an afternoon off or want to shuffle a few tasks around, especially when working during the middle of a pandemic.

Have a few different workspaces to switch between

Since all of your work will be done at home, it's important to have a comfortable and clean workspace that you can use without getting distracted. There are no set rules for this - I'm probably my most productive when working from my bed, despite many people advising against this - just go with whatever works for you. It's also helpful to have everything you'll need nearby so you don't feel like you're getting up every 5 minutes.

Another thing I'd highly recommend is having a few different workspaces that you can alternate between. When you think of university or school life, you're constantly moving between different classrooms, lecture theatres, libraries and study spaces, so you don't want to feel confined when working at home. Also, a change of scenery definitely helps to clear your mind and gain a fresh perspective. If this isn't possible within your house, perhaps consider working from a coffee shop or local library if you feel safe doing so.

Try and incorporate some off-screen time into your routine

This is definitely something I still need to work on, as I practically live on my laptop, but staring at a screen for long hours every day really isn't good. It's difficult to avoid it when all classes and assignments are online, but I'd encourage you to take a bit of time out of your day to do something that doesn't require a screen. I've been catching up on university reading during this time so that I'm still being productive, but you can do anything from making hand-written notes, playing with a pet or practicing a hobby.

Make time for exercise and getting some fresh air

Sitting inside all day whilst working can quickly become claustrophobic, so it's important to go outside and get active if possible. Although I wouldn't usually exercise on a normal university day, I've really found myself missing little things like my morning walk to the bus stop where I could get some fresh air and listen to music. I've made a conscious effort over the past few weeks to walk to a local park for a bit of fresh hair, even if it's only a couple of times every week, and I've definitely felt the benefit of doing so. 

Block any social media on your phone

As ruthless as it sounds, sometimes desperate actions need to be taken. If you're the type of person who knows you'll end up scrolling through TikTok all day, don't let yourself be controlled by this. There are lots of apps available that will block you from using your phone for an allotted period of time, my favourite being Flora, and it definitely makes you feel successful when you complete each task.

Although I don't always use apps like this as I'm quite good at getting off my phone and eliminating any distractions, there have definitely been days when I needed to knuckle down and this was a great way to focus without receiving notifications every few minutes. There's also an option to attach your bank account so that you'll have to pay if you check your phone during the allotted time if you'd like to make it more interesting!

Know when it's time to stop

It can be really difficult to find a work-life divide when studying from home, as there's no longer the end-of-the-day feeling where you return home and relax. It's easy to get carried away with working long into the night, but remember to take breaks and give yourself some time for relaxation as well. 

This is definitely something I need to work on more, as I'll quite often work late into the evenings, and working from home has definitely made this harder. If you're like me and struggle to switch off at night, I'd recommend giving yourself a time that you're not allowed to work beyond, or doing something else in the evening that is productive but not study-related (for me this is often writing articles or doing things for my blog).

If your university or school has also continued with online classes this year, I'd love to know what your study tips are, so make sure you leave me a comment!

Writing articles is something that is slowly taking over my life, but honestly, I absolutely love it! I really want to mention my writing and journalism on my blog more often, since this has become a huge part of my life over the past few months and I dedicate a lot of time towards it. So what better way to do so than by starting this new series? Every month, I will be uploading a round-up post of all of my articles so that you can see what I've been writing and give some of them a read if you're interested! Without further ado, let's dive right into it!

The Mancunion

5 unexpected fashion trends to hit the streets of Manchester this autumn

The ever-adapting nature of the fashion industry, from high street to high-end luxury has always had the potential to throw a curveball and strange cut into the fabric fancy and Manchester is no different, particularly in our new socially distanced scenarios. Perhaps its lockdown-induced boredom causing us to be more creative with our outfit choices, or could it be an eagerness to venture out of sweatpants? Either way, there’s no denying that this season is bizarre and filled with unexpected trends, and some of our favourite Manchester-based brands are embracing the wondrous and wild side of the ready-to-wear. Read more...

As most of you already know, I am this year's Fashion Editor of my student newspaper, The Mancunion. This is such an exciting opportunity that I'm honoured to have, and so I wanted to kick off the year with a bang with my first article in this position. I feel as though there are lots of autumn trends posts online and sometimes it can become quite generic and predictable (we get it, berry tones and plaid are in style this season!) I wanted to create something a bit more adventurous and daring, so I decided to look at styles that are unexpected and bizarre, yet have been frequently spotted on catwalks and the streets of Manchester this season. This was a really fun article to create and it also allowed me to feature some of my favourite Manchester boutiques whilst creating it.

The Manc

Manchester's best vintage boutiques and thrift stores that you need to visit

The Northern Quarter may be a hub for vintage aficionados, but there’s actually much more to Manchester’s second-hand scene than meets the eye. Read more...

Although secondhand shopping has gained more popularity recently, a lot of people still struggle with vintage shopping and figuring out where to begin. Manchester has a diverse range of thrift stores, vintage boutiques and secondhand shops, so I decided to create this informative guide to help people discover which ones will be the best for them. It also allowed me to spotlight some amazing Manchester boutiques, which was an added bonus!

Meet the radical Manchester boutique fighting for change through fashion

Not all clothing lines are created just for style. Some have particularly ambitious aspirations. Take Hoyden, for example. This feminist boutique, whose name means 'boisterous girl', sells clothing that turns heads for two reasons. One, it's fashionable. And two, it's rebellious. Read more...

Hoyden is an empowering, radical brand that isn't afraid to speak its mind, so I was eager to find out more about this boisterous boutique. It was very interesting chatting to Olivia about her store, which can be found in Afflecks in the Northern Quarter. I really admire what she's doing and the pro-active messages that she's spreading using her platform, so it was very rewarding being able to showcase her work and give it more attention!

Beloved Manchester vintage store Retro Rehab is closing its doors with a big sale

Retro Rehab, the beloved local vintage store, is ending its 15-year residence in Manchester's Northern Quarter as it begins its transition to online shopping. Read more...

Retro Rehab is one of Manchester's most popular and renowned vintage stores, so to hear that they were closing their doors was a huge shock. It definitely puts into perspective the effects that the pandemic is having on smaller businesses, although it's not all negative as they will still be continuing their vintage journey as an online store. I reported on this for The Manc as it felt like a shocking and momentous event within Manchester's vintage community, but I'm still excited to see their future online!

The best independent clothing stores in Manchester that match style with sustainability

You don't have to choose between being stylish or sustainable anymore. These Manchester-based clothing brands are both saving the planet and your wardrobe. Read more...

Sustainability was a topic that was hot on everyone's lips earlier this year, but it seems to have taken a backseat with the virus. I'm a firm believer that this isn't something that we should be ignoring and so I decided to write this article to bring more attention to eco-friendly fashion options. I wanted to prove that sustainable clothing doesn't have to be bland or stupidly expensive, and you can actually find some really stylish and trendy pieces that are also ethical. There are so many Manchester-based boutiques that create gorgeous pieces that are sustainable and I wanted to showcase these, and hopefully, it's something that more brands will get on board with in the future.

This Stockport clothing boutique is offering a 'mystery bag' of clothes for £20

Susie's Boutique is Stockport's source for the latest styles - but their newest launch offers customers a blind date with a brand-new wardrobe. Read more...

I love the concept of a mystery bag of clothing - I think it's so exciting yet equally nerve-wracking to see what items you can get without choosing them, and it's a great way to try pieces that you wouldn't otherwise pick. I wanted to bring attention to a local business who are offering this, and they're also a really trendy and well-priced shopping destination with new styles being added to their range every week.

The Manchester fashion brand born in lockdown is launching a second collection

Grey Milk, the Manchester-based independent clothing brand born in lockdown, has launched a second collection just in time for autumn. Read more...

I became obsessed with Grey Milk since I first discovered their launch during lockdown and I greatly admire what Gwen has managed to achieve in such a short space of time. Her designing and creation of garments is incredible and deserves so much recognition, and it was really interesting delving behind the scenes of her new collection. This is autumn style reinvented and like you've never seen it before, but all of her pieces are absolutely stunning and I highly urge you to check them out!

I hope you enjoyed getting a sneak peek into all of my articles that were published this month - make sure to let me know which is your favourite!

Let's face it, masks have been an absolute pain for makeup wearers. Don't get me wrong, I think wearing a mask is incredibly important and I use mine all the time (probably more than I need to in all honestly), but they've completely changed how I apply my makeup. The biggest sacrifice in this has been my lip products - I have makeup bags full of gorgeous glosses that aren't getting the attention they deserve. And the real kicker is that, if I ever decide to wear one underneath my mask, the remnants are almost always printed on the fabric rather than on my lips. That was until I used the Flower Beauty Miracle Matte Liquid Lipsticks, however, and now I've finally found the lipstick and mask combo that I can trust. Intrigued? Well, make sure you keep reading to find out more!

I've had these Flower Beauty products in my collection for around a year now and I've adored them since the first try. Almost instantly, I realised that they're not drying like a majority of liquid lipsticks that I've tried, meaning my lips can have an effortless swipe of colour without looking dry and shrivelled (which is especially important as we approach winter).

Normally matte formulas are something that I steer clear from, so you can tell that these are good if I'm raving about them. But the thing is about these liquid lipsticks, opposed to other matte products that I've tried, is that they're comfortable; I don't think I've ever tried another matte lip product that has felt bearable on my lips, let alone luxurious like these do.

They're also not too liquidy (ironic really, since I'm talking about liquid lipsticks), which sounds like a bad thing but is actually perfect. There's no smudging, transferring or getting on your teeth - they lock in place quickly and stay that way for hours. Trust me, there'll be no more lipstick marks on the inside of your mask if you're wearing one of these.

Speaking of wear-time, these liquid lipsticks are impressive. When I test out a lip product I don't shy away from eating and drinking, as I want to give them a thorough test that covers all bases. The Miracle Matte Liquid Lipsticks tick all the boxes: they don't flake away or fade, and I can't say I've noticed the annoying lipstick marks on a glass when wearing them. They're also perfect for us low-maintenance girls who can't be bothered to reapply their lip products every hour.

I own these Flower Beauty products in 4 different shades - the perfect collection that will leave you satisfied for any look:

Bare Honey - a true nude done right, no foundation lips over here! It's a medium-toned shade that isn't too pink or brown like other 'nude' products I've tried and is the perfect everyday shade that I find myself constantly reaching for 

Nude Blush - a wearable, pink-toned nude that is ideal for achieving a rosy lip look. If you're someone who fears pink lipsticks and doesn't want something neon or bright, this is the perfect choice that is natural whilst also adding a subtle pop of colour

Scarlet Letter - every girl needs a trusty pillarbox red lipstick in her collection, and this is my one of choice. It's loud and in charge, so whether you're making a statement or celebrating this festive season you'll be drawing attention

Rosewood - this gorgeous shade is entirely dependent on your skin tone - on darker complexions this would act as a mauve-tinted nude, but on paler skin like my own this shade is a vampy purple tone that I'll be digging out this autumn

Overall, these long-lasting, luxurious lipsticks are an absolute essential in my makeup collection and are also completely mask-proof. I'd highly recommend checking them out as you (and your lips) won't be disappointed.

Many of you may know that journalism is something that I'm passionate about and would love to establish a career in, and so I have been interning as a contributing writer for The Manc's style section over the past few months. Not only has this been an incredible opportunity to gain more experience writing, but it has also given me a glimpse into the professional world of journalism while learning how to work effectively from home. I thought I'd share my top tips for staying productive and inspired during at-home internships for those of you who are also aspiring journalists looking to get started, so I hope that it's helpful!

Plan my week in advance
My week will often be filled with various other things aside from writing for The Manc, so scheduling my time is necessary. Even though my internship is quite relaxed with submission deadlines, I always try to do them as soon as possible and then plan the rest of my week accordingly. Although it only takes 2 minutes to roughly plan out what days of the week I'll be busy and which ones I'm free to work on articles, it'll save me a lot of stress later down the line. It's easy to feel like I'm in work-mode constantly when spending time at home, so I must plan effectively to ensure that I can meet deadlines whilst still being able to relax.

Choose areas of genuine interest and that spark passion to write about
Figuring out what I enjoy and bringing that to my work has made a massive difference for me, and this passion shines through in writing. As I'm not given a brief of what to write about and subsequently allowed a lot of creative control, I can quite often tailor my articles to specific interests and passions of mine. This is a massive help when I'm writing lots of pieces, as it never feels like a chore or burden when I genuinely enjoy the topics that I'm investigating.

Have an ideas bank to fall back on
When I'm pitching article ideas, I always try to think of things that are trending and related to Manchester (as that is what The Manc focuses on). However, it can sometimes be hard to think of various pitches each week, especially if I'm having a mental block, which is why I've created a massive list of ideas and topics that I can fall back on. This could be anything from a random trend that has become popular, a tweet or Instagram post that has inspired me or any random thoughts that could become an article. Not only are these useful to have when I need an extra idea or two, but quite often I find that an idea I wrote down a few months ago will now be much more relevant or have a whole new angle that I can explore. It's also worth hanging onto these, as the ideas I haven't used or The Manc have rejected can always be pitched elsewhere.

Lookout for new ideas and inspiration in my daily life
I'm always thinking about ideas for potential articles, regardless of what I'm doing. Whether I'm scrolling through social media, reading fashion magazines on my phone, going shopping or just observing what people are wearing when I'm out, my mind is creating possible pitches. A lot of my ideas have hit me when I've least expected it, so it's beneficial being alert and ready for any inspiration to come your way. Although I would be a bit cautious if you're reading a lot of magazine and newspaper articles for inspiration, as you don't want to end up copying their ideas by accident.

Divide my accounts
Following on from that, it's still important to know when to switch off. Whilst I'm always subconsciously making observations of trends, sometimes it feels good to step back and not have this at the forefront of my mind while I relax. I've found it helpful to make new social media accounts for journalism where I can follow many different brands, celebrities, magazines etc., that way I can easily flick onto this when I'm looking for ideas but I can also scroll through my personal accounts when I'm trying to relax and wind down. I also highly recommend making the most of Twitter lists, as they're a perfect way to categorise tweets and gain some separation between work and life.

Keep in regular contact with colleagues and team members
If you're doing your internship virtually or working from home like I am, it's really important to stay in touch with people who you are working with. This will help you keep track of any important updates and feedback for your work, plus it also creates a community atmosphere where you can support each other and collaborate on ideas. There's nothing better than the feeling of achievement when you're congratulated for an article that performed well, and likewise, it's great to cheer on your teammates and support their pieces.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and if there's anything you'd like to know about my internship, feel free to let me know in the comments or on my social media!

I've been a beauty blogger since 2014 and have therefore seen many new trends and products come and go. While there have been some that I've jumped on the bandwagon with and loved, there's equally been quite a few that I've never got on board with. Whether this was due to being quite young and not wearing a lot of makeup or down to the fact that I tend to purchase mostly drugstore items, I recently realised that there were quite a few iconic beauty trends, products and techniques that I had missed out on. Today, I thought I'd put them all to the test whilst also creating a makeup look for you all, so I hope you enjoy this post!

Using a beauty sponge to blend foundation
I have been a firm brush user since the day I started wearing makeup, for no reason other than it was what I was used to. I always used a buffing brush and there was nothing wrong with my foundation application, so why fix something that isn't broken, right? It has only been within the past few months that I've started using a beauty blender to apply my foundation and concealer, and honestly I have no idea why I didn't do this sooner! It definitely gives a more natural, sheer finish that is perfect for everyday use, plus it's incredibly quick and easy to blend in my base products. It's a 10 out of 10 from me on this one, I just wish I would've succumbed to the hype sooner!

Using a liquid illuminator
There's something about liquid illuminators that have always intimidated me a bit - I was afraid that I'd look like a disco ball if I applied it as a base under my foundation, but had also heard people struggle to use them over the top of base products. It was only when I was sent one from Flower Beauty that I gave it a go and realised how gorgeous these products are! If you apply it under your foundation, a gorgeous radiance shines through that is dewy without looking sparkly, but my favourite is to tap a little bit onto my cheekbones to create a glowing from within look. This is definitely more natural than a powder highlighter and is perfect for creating an effortless makeup look.

Blusher on the nose
This is a technique that has always baffled me, and I'm still not 100% sure on it if I'm honest! I've always struggled with makeup rubbing off my nose after a couple of hours and leaving it looking red, so why would I want to create this tragic look when I'm trying to avoid it? I decided to give this another go using the Milani Luminoso blusher, which is an iconic product that I've only recently become obsessed with (I bought a paler shade of this when I visited New York a couple of years ago, but this one is simply stunning). I definitely think that less is more with this technique for me, and whilst it can create a cute button nose appearance, I worry that it'll just make me look sunburnt. I applied the tiniest amount and thought that it looked nice, but I'm still not 100% sold on this method!

Highlighting my whole face (not just the cheekbones)
Maybe it's because I often wear more natural makeup rather than opting for full glam daily, or perhaps it's my ingrained fear of looking like I've been attacked by glitter, but I'm always quite minimal when it comes to highlighter. Most days I won't apply any, but when I actually make an effort I'll stick to my cheekbones and inner corners of the eyes. Today, I decided to apply highlighter in other areas as well, including my brow bone, nose and cupids bow, and I have to say that I really like the outcome. This definitely helps to make my nose look more snatched and gives me more confidence in this feature that I usually hate, and overall my face looks very radiant and illuminated without being too over-the-top.

Using Morphe eyeshadow palettes
This isn't exactly a tip or technique but more of a cult product that I've only just started using, but I had to include it in this post. Everyone and their mother is obsessed with Morphe palettes, but I was very late to jump on the bandwagon as I've only owned one since January. My boyfriend bought me the 35V palette for my birthday and I've been obsessed with it ever since - it's now the only eyeshadow palette that I use. Not only are all the eyeshadows incredibly pigmented but they also blend like a dream; I can see why everyone loves them! I decided to go for a more colourful look today rather than my usual neutral tones as I wanted to be a bit more experimental, and I'm really pleased with the outcome!

Wearing false eyelashes
It's only been over the past year or so that I've really become a fan of wearing false eyelashes, and now I don't think there's any looking back! Although I'm not wearing them in these photos as mine are all quite old and crusty now (I desperately need to pick up some new ones), I couldn't live without them when doing a more glam makeup look. My fear was definitely in the application side of things, but after quite a few attempts I've definitely got the hang of them now!

Lining my lips
Lipliner is a step that I typically miss out, simply because I often just apply gloss and call it a day. However, more recently I've started lining my lips and I definitely think it's something I'll continue doing, both for the definition and the longevity of my lip products applied on top. Although I'm not one to overline my lips (I just can't seem to do it without it looking stupid or obviously fake), the little bit of added definition that this provides is definitely a win in my eyes.

What makeup steps or products are you late to the game with? I'd love to know, so make sure you leave a comment down below!

Hello everyone, long time no see! I have been incredibly busy since lockdown has started to ease and I honestly feel like the past month or so has been a whirlwind, but I've finally found a spare moment to write a blog post and catch up with you guys! I've been doing a lot of writing and career-related activities (how exciting, I'm finally starting to feel like I've got my life together) and also some forms of socialising whilst still being cautious in the pandemic, so make sure you keep reading to hear exactly what I've been up to!

Internship at The Manc
It's only been over the past few months that I really discovered my passion for journalism and recognised that it's a potential avenue to explore once I finish university, and so I was eager to get some professional experience in this field. As if by magic (thank you to the law of attraction, I'm crediting you) I was approached by The Manc to be a contributing writer for their fashion section! Let me just tell you, I have absolutely loved every second of this so far! Not only is it really insightful and beneficial gaining experience in pitching ideas and creating articles on a professional level, but the icing on the cake is being able to create content that I'm both passionate about and proud of. I've had a few of my articles published so far, so make sure you keep an eye out on The Manc's style section as I continue creating some exciting content for them!

Fashion Editor of Student Newspaper
Still along the journalism theme, I can officially say that I will be the fashion editor for The Mancunion (my university's student newspaper) for the upcoming academic year! This is honestly a dream come true, as it's something I put my mind to when I started writing articles for them but never envisioned that it would actually happen. I never thought I'd be eager for the summer holidays to end, but I really can't wait for the academic year to begin again so I can dive into this opportunity and work alongside all of the writers to create some amazing pieces for the fashion section!

University Results for 2nd Year
2nd year of university was definitely not the experience I expected - my final in-person class for the year was in mid-February due to a month-long strike followed by the campus closing due to the pandemic. I know people always say that university is all about the independent study but this was really intensified this year, except the lack of libraries and study spaces open made it even more difficult. However, I managed to pull through and came out with a first overall for the year, which I'm over the moon with! Although I really want to get a first in uni once I graduate, I didn't think it would actually be within reach and that I'd be able to get this in 2nd year, especially with the various other commitments that I have. I'm honestly so pleased, but now I just need to knuckle down ready for my final year.

New Hobbies
I'm quite lucky that my lockdown boredom was minimised due to being consumed with university work and essay submissions, but I still had my fair share of sitting in the house with no clue what to do. However, it's really helped me to discover some new hobbies and rekindle my enjoyment of spending time with myself. I've baked an unhealthy amount of cupcakes, continued teaching myself how to sew and also reignited my passion for reading since I can choose what to pick up rather than being restricted to academic texts. It's honestly been so refreshing to have this break and kind of pause from constantly being on-the-go, especially for my headspace and mental health.

Life Returning To Normal
Over the past few weeks especially, I've really enjoyed having some kinds of normality back in my life. Although it's still really difficult not being able to do things like give my grandparents a hug or properly spend time with my friends, it's been lovely reintroducing a few little pleasures back into my life. I've had trips to the pub, spent time in the park with friends, celebrated birthdays and graduations, went on shopping trips, spent time with my boyfriend and tried my hardest to have a little bit of enjoyment whilst still being extremely cautious and careful in the pandemic. I'm definitely still really wary and being precautious, but it's been lovely to feel like life is somewhat normal again.

I'd love to know what you've been up to lately and how the post-lockdown life is treating you, so make sure you let me know in the comments!

Summer is always the time when I begin to question my foundations - I want to wear something that is glowy and hardly feels like I have anything on my skin yet still has enough coverage to make me feel put-together, and it's difficult to find a product that fits these criteria perfectly. Upon my mum's recommendation, I decided to try the No7 Hydraluminous Foundation and I instantly fell in love with its flawless yet natural finish, and I can confidently say that I haven't used anything else on my skin in weeks. I knew straight away that I wanted to review it for you guys since I'm confident that you'll like it as much as I do, so make sure you keep reading to hear all about this amazing foundation.

The No7 Hydraluminous Foundation claims to create a fresh and radiant looking complexion, as well as gradually improving the appearance of your skin over time as it is jam-packed with vitamins and other beneficial ingredients that you'd more often find in a serum or moisturiser. It boasts a light to medium coverage, which is perfect for those summer days when you want a little bit of coverage without looking or feeling like you're wearing too much makeup, and it also contains SPF to ensure your skin stays protected throughout the day.

Although I usually apply foundations with a brush, I much prefer how this one looks when using a damp beauty blender, as it blends out effortlessly and prevents it from looking too heavy or cakey on the skin. One layer gives a natural amount of coverage, although I sometimes find myself reaching for a second layer just to lessen the redness in problematic areas like around my nose. The weightless formula makes it incredibly comfortable on the skin and is reminiscent of a tinted moisturiser or a BB cream, although I have to say that it is considerably more radiant than any of these that I have tried in the past.

I've found that this foundation lasts on my skin for an incredibly long time, and I've definitely put it to a rigorous test with hours spent in the intense sun. I quite often have the problem of makeup wearing off my nose and chin but I haven't really struggled with this, which has been a pleasant surprise for me. Although I haven't felt the need to powder down this foundation, I have used a primer beforehand and setting spray afterwards, which may have influenced its longevity.

Overall, I've really fallen in love with this foundation and it has definitely secured a space in my makeup bag. Although I don't know if I'd trust a makeup product to completely replace steps of my skincare routine, the benefits that this product provides are an added bonus to an otherwise gorgeous, radiant base.

If you've tried the No7 Hydraluminous Foundation then I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, and if not make sure you let me know what your favourite base product is this summer!

The lockdown has proved to be quite an anxious time for many people, but one of the best ways I've found to combat this is by having a relaxing evening of pampering myself. Not only is it really important to invest some time into yourself every now and then, but it'll also help you to feel calm and collected during this current crisis. If a pamper evening sounds up your street but you don't know where to begin, keep reading to see my evening routine for relaxing and feeling less anxious.

Set the scene
The first step to feeling calmer and more relaxed is to create a comfortable and cosy environment. At a time when I'm already prone to getting quite stressed, little things like an unmade bed can have a drastic impact on my mentality, so make sure you take care of things like this straight away. You may want to open a window to let in some fresh air, turn on a lamp to create a dimmer, cosier atmosphere, or light a candle to set the mood for your relaxing evening (which feels like quite a luxury for me now, since I couldn't light candles in my house at university).

Take care of your skin
I find it very calming and restorative to put effort into myself and look after my body, but tasks like painting my nails can be quite time-consuming and applying fake tan leaves me feeling sticky and uncomfortable for hours. Instead, I decided to indulge in my skincare routine, starting by applying a face mask. This is my go-to pamper evening activity as it always leaves my skin feeling nourished and revitalised, and it's an easy way to feel better about yourself. Afterwards, I carried out my usual skincare routine with some of my favourite products from The Ordinary, which I actually wrote a whole blog post about if you'd like to check it out.

Have a relaxing bath
Hand in hand with skincare is looking after your body, and my favourite way of doing this is by getting in a warm bath. Whether you want to go all-out with the bubbles or treat yourself to a luxurious bath bomb, the priority is unwinding and feeling pampered. I decided to use my favourite body products from Sanctuary Spa since they always leave my skin feeling incredibly smooth and smelling gorgeous, and I also relaxed with a glass of Pepsi Max (my drink of choice) and a few Youtube videos to keep me entertained. 

Evening entertainment and chill
It's important to unwind and spend some time in the evening doing something you enjoy. For me, this was watching some Youtube videos and Netflix with a cup of tea and some chocolates by my side, which is my definition of the perfect evening. Especially since I'd spent most of my evenings doing university essays over the past few weeks, it felt incredibly good to enjoy watching something without the looming worry of deadlines.

Meditate or do yoga
One thing which has massively helped my anxiety during the current pandemic has been meditating, which is why I've been making time for it in the evenings. If you feel like your mind is overrun with thoughts then I'd definitely recommend giving it a go, and there are tons of apps and online meditations to guide you and help with specific struggles or worries. I also find that this helps me to feel relaxed and unwind right before going to sleep, rather than staying awake all night with uncontrollable thoughts.

Read before bed
If you're feeling anxious about the current situation then one of the best ways to minimise it is by escaping into a good book where you can put all of your worries and thoughts aside. I always find that reading before bed helps to send me to sleep and it's a much-needed break from scrolling through social media and seeing constant news updates. Now that I've finished university for the summer, I've definitely started making more time to delve into books that I'm eager to read and passionate about, rather than being restricted by a syllabus.

These are all of my pamper evening essentials for relaxing and managing anxiety, but if you have any other tips then I'd love to hear them down in the comments!

There's a huge misconception that classic novels are incredibly difficult, hefty books that seem impossible to start. However, after reading my fair share whilst studying English literature at university, I want to assure you that this isn't the case. Don't get me wrong, there have been some books that have felt absolutely unbeatable and I've had to battle through them (although I won't name and shame), but there have been quite a lot that I've thoroughly enjoyed and that will appeal to people who don't study English. Since we all have a bit too much time on our hands lately, it's the perfect opportunity to delve into a book you might not otherwise commit to, so here are my recommendations for academic books (or books that I've studied in my degree) that are worth picking up. Just note that I've studied a lot of novels over the past 2 years of my degree, so there are definitely many others that I enjoyed, but I've managed to narrow it down to 6 that I think you'll like.

The book - Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The course - Writing, Identity and Nation
I've mentioned this book on my blog before, but it's too good to not include in this post as well! I really enjoy it when my university incorporates some more modern texts onto the syllabus, and this 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction winner definitely earned its place. If you're interested in hearing about the process of radicalisation on the vulnerable and isolated, as well as the conflicts of being a Muslim living in Britain, this book is one that you need to read.

The book - Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
The course - World Literatures
This autobiographical graphic novel is completely unique in its moving, retrospective depiction of a child growing up in Iran. I'll be honest, graphic novels have never really appealed to me, but this one had me completely hooked and I couldn't put it down. It gives you a glance into Iranian culture and Marjane's adolescent experiences in a hilarious yet tear-inducing way, and it won't fail to make you question your own privileges and experiences.

The book - Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The course - Literature and History
This is an extremely clever and detailed dystopian novel that has strong connections to Fordism and the economic crisis of the 30s, making it an incredibly interesting vision of the future whilst also preserving a moment in our past. I found this novel fascinating from cover to cover, and you'll particularly enjoy it if you're interested in ideas of state control, technological advancements and genetic manipulation.

The book - Disappearance by David Dabydeen
The course - Literature and History
I absolutely adored reading this novel and the lyrical impulses of Dabydeen's work, despite it being one of the more lesser-known books on the course. It centres around a Guyanese engineer working on the coast of England whilst staying with an elderly woman, and offers some fantastic images of Englishness and the legacies of empire, as well as the disappearance of past experiences and memories. It isn't very plot-focused but if you're someone who can appreciate beautifully crafted writing like myself then you need to read this.

The book - A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
The course - English Literature Tutorials
Although Virginia Woolf is incredibly famous for her novels, it was this non-fiction text that completely blew me away more than any other piece of her work. After spending a majority of my school life studying male authors and masculinised novels, it was very eye-opening to read Woolf's prose about the erasure of women in history and the social and material conditions required for women to write literature. If you're interested in gender politics then I'd definitely recommend reading this, but I also think it's beneficial for everyone to read as it completely changed my perspective on the intrinsic misogyny within and surrounding literature.

The book - Gifted by Nikita Lalwani
The course - Writing, Identity and Nation
Gifted follows a young maths prodigy who struggles to manage this talent alongside the expectations and restrictions of her family, all whilst trying to grapple with her identity as a British-Indian. Out of all of the novels that I have studied, I have never felt so immersed and embedded in the story, and despite being from a completely different background than Rumi I felt as though I was living through her struggles. It's ultimately a story of endurance and how far someone can or is willing to go, and it's definitely a novel that is worth making time for.

I hope you enjoyed this post and that I've inspired you to pick up a book that you might not have otherwise considered. Like I said, I've studied many more novels in university and could easily compile another post like this one, if that's something you'd like to see!

I don't know about you but I'm absolutely obsessed with finding new makeup hacks. Quite often I'll be lying in bed scrolling through TikTok and I'll see tons of beauty tips and tricks that seem incredibly simple to do yet look gorgeous. I thought it would be a fun idea to try out a few of these and see if they're miracles waiting to be discovered or too good to be true. In particular, I decided to choose 5 hacks that all involve setting spray - it's such a versatile makeup product that can definitely be used beyond fixing your makeup into place. So if you'd like to see the setting spray makeup hacks  that I attempted and whether they were fab or fails, keep on reading!

Makeup Hack #1 - Changing up the order of your base products

There seems to be an unwritten rule that you should apply your base products in a specific order, but what if I told you that this viral TikTok hack encouraged you to mix it up? Rather than following the usual routine of using moisturiser, then primer, followed by foundation and then powdering, you instead powder after using your moisturiser. Afterwards, you spray your face with setting spray, and once it dries you then prime and apply your foundation. When I first heard this, it seemed completely bizarre to me, but I saw countless people trying it online and saying that it revolutionised their skin, so I had to try and achieve the flawless look that everyone else was boasting.

I'm afraid that this one was a no from me! Although it seems to work for a lot of people, I didn't really get along well with this hack. There's something about applying primer after powdering my face that just doesn't sit right with me, and it felt really strange putting it on. I don't think that my base makeup looked that different from usual, except it was perhaps a bit cakier in some areas, which is definitely not what I was trying to achieve. However, this definitely made my makeup stay in place all day, so if that's usually a struggle for you then I'd perhaps give this hack a go.

Makeup Hack #2 - Making a powder blush into a cream

Blush has always been one of my favourite parts of my makeup routine and cream blushers in particular were my go-to for many years, but I don't have any in my collection currently. I found a hack online that made any powder blusher into a cream simply by adding some setting spray, and I knew instantly that this would be right up my street.

As I didn't want to ruin an entire blusher, I decided to get some of the product on my fingers and then squirt some setting spray over the top, before lightly dabbing it onto my cheeks. This hack actually worked really well, as it felt like applying a cream blusher but the setting spray made it stay firmly in place and I didn't have to worry about it budging. It isn't the easiest to blend if you follow this method, so I'd recommend starting with a small amount and building it up. However, I love the look that it created and I'll definitely be doing it again!

Makeup Hack #3 - Intensifying your highlighter

I seem to be a bit late to the game with this one, but a hack that I've seen floating around online for quite some time now is using your highlighter with setting spray to make it appear much more intense. I was definitely excited to try this out, as I have a few gorgeous highlighters that need quite a bit of building up, so this seemed like the answer to these problems.

As expected, this hack worked really well and made my highlighter appear much more intense and glowy. Although the photo doesn't really do it justice, my fairly subtle highlighter became almost blinding after trying this, so I'd highly recommend it if that's what you want. I probably won't be doing this daily as I prefer a more natural glow, but it's perfect for if I'm getting dressed up and going out (although that won't be happening for quite a while!)

Makeup Hack #4 - Getting fluffy eyebrows using soap

I used to do soap brows around a year ago and found that they were very hit and miss - sometimes my eyebrows would look incredibly fluffy and be firmly secured upright, whereas other times they'd drop down almost instantly and look white from using too much soap. I've seen quite a few people do this hack but by using setting spray rather than water and it has been successful for them, so I thought I'd try it out and see how fluffy I could make my eyebrows look.

Honestly, I was quite disappointed by this one and found that it didn't really make a difference to my eyebrows. I know that soap brows can work for me as I've done them before, but for some reason, this hardly made a difference to my eyebrows and they didn't look any fluffier than beforehand. I'd definitely be willing to give this another try as I love the fuller brow look, but I'm disappointed that it didn't work for me. 

Makeup Hack #5 - The fake freckle trick

Fake freckles have become a huge makeup trend and I've been dying to have a go at creating them for quite some time. I love the look of freckles yet I don't have any, so like many other people I have resorted to faking it! Although I've seen a lot of people drawing them on with eyeliner or an eyebrow pencil, this can look a bit fake and over the top if not done correctly. I found a hack on TikTok that is perfect for achieving more natural-looking freckles, where you mix some excess powder from a bronzer or eyeshadow with setting spray and then flick it onto your face using a brush. I knew that I had to give this one a go straight away, as I've been dying to achieve that sunkissed freckled look.

This hack definitely worked, although I'll admit that it probably takes quite a bit of practice and figuring out the proportions (the first time I attempted it I used way too much setting spray and couldn't get any freckles to show up on my face). It isn't the easiest to direct where you're flicking the product, and whilst this means that it can look more random and natural it can very quickly get messy. I found that some of the freckles ended up being tiny and looked more like flecks of dirt, so I'd definitely be wary of this. However, I quite like the look that it created and for a first attempt at creating freckles I don't think it was too bad!

And so that is the finished makeup look! Some of these were definitely successful (particularly the blush and highlighter hacks) whereas others I probably won't be trying again. If you have any makeup hacks that you swear by then make sure you let me know down in the comments!

I don't know about you, but one of my biggest coping mechanisms during the current pandemic has been the various forms of media we have access to. Not only have I filled my spare time by binging TV shows and reading new books, but they've also distracted me and created a sense of escapism. Since I know a lot of people will be in the same position and are perhaps looking for recommendations, I thought I'd share all of the TV shows, books and podcasts that I've currently been obsessing over, and I hope that some of them will be perfect for you!

Currently Watching...
I've just finished watching The Bold Type and I'm feeling a bit lost now that it's over. For those of you who don't know, the series is about three best friends who all work for a Cosmopolitan-esque magazine in New York, following their careers as well as all of the drama in their love life, friendship issues and much more. It's so addictive and I was hooked right from the first episode, and the series further ignited my dreams of working for a magazine one day. I also finished watching Next In Fashion, which is Alexa Chung and Tan France's competition show on Netflix. They are searching for the best new designer through a series of weekly challenges and runway shows, which I found particularly inspiring as I'm currently learning how to sew. It's very interesting to see the behind-the-scenes process of creating each garment, and I guarantee that you'll be able to binge through this series in no time.

Although I much prefer watching a series than a film (my attention span just can't handle anything longer than an hour), I watched The Hustle starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. This crime-meets-comedy film had me laughing the whole way through, and even my boyfriend liked it which is a good sign.

Up next... I'm dying to watch the TV adaptation of Normal People which came out a few days ago, as I fell in love with the book earlier this year and need to see if the series does it justice. I've actually heard a few people say that they prefer it over the Sally Rooney novel, so I definitely have high hopes!

Currently Listening To...

I haven't made many new discoveries on the music front lately, but I've been obsessed with various podcasts instead. A new favourite has been Reply All (particularly the episodes The Case of the Missing Hit and Long Distance) as they are fascinating stories of human experience and technology that will leave you completely floored. I can't say much more without spoiling what happens, but each episode will have you completely engaged for the entire hour.

Another podcast that I've been listening to frequently is Fashion No Filter, which was a recommendation by fellow fashion-obsessed Emilie. This follows two journalists who give a behind-the-scenes glance into the world of fashion, and it's an incredibly eye-opening view into an industry that previously felt quite secretive and exclusive. I've also been listening to According 2 by Megan and Ciera quite a lot since I also watch their Youtube channel, and I've found that their discussions on a variety of different events and aspects of teenage life are perfect to listen to in the background as I'm going about my daily business.

Up next... I've heard nothing but good things about The High Low, which is hosted by Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton, so I think that'll be the next thing I listen to. Also, I really want to get into listening to audiobooks, as I've only used them for university texts but want to expand my horizons, so I'd love to know your recommendations!

Currently Reading...

As I'm still in the middle of my essay season, a lot of my reading has been university texts that I needed to re-read whilst planning my essays. This included Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and A Day Off by Storm Jameson. I enjoyed both of these and found that they compared well with one another, so if you're interested in modernist day-novels set in London then these will be right up your street. I'm also currently reading Gifted by Nikita Lalwani, which was one of the novels I was supposed to study but didn't get the chance to due to the strike action. It follows a young girl who has to balance her strict Indian family with her natural talent as a maths prodigy, and so far it has been incredibly eye-opening.

I've also been reading a lot of magazines lately since I've discovered my passion for journalism and want to explore it as a potential career path. I've been using the Readly app as a place to collect all of these and keep track of my favourite articles, plus it's way less expensive than having physical magazine subscriptions. I'd love to do a blog post in the future sharing some of my favourite articles, so if that's something you'd like to see then make sure you let me know!

Up next... I feel like my TBR list is huge since I've been restricted to reading university books, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to get stuck into some of my own choices once my essays are finished. Although I could write a huge list of books that I want to read, at the top of this is Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky, since I fell in love with The Perks of Being a Wallflower when I was a teenager, and Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman (I can't believe I've not read this yet!)

I'd love to know what you've been watching, reading and listening to while stuck in lockdown, so make sure you let me know down in the comments!