Sunday, 22 April 2018

ACRYLIC NAILS: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW


I've been getting acrylic nails for just over two years now, and I absolutely love them every time. I don't feel right without them; when I went to hospital I had to have them soaked off as preparation for my operation and I felt like I lost a part of me, as lame as that sounds... Plus, my fingers look like super stubby sausages without the lovely length that acrylics give. For those wondering, I have coffin shaped nails (I tried almond shape and they didn't suit me at all!) with acrylic and then a gel overlay, which is cured under a UV lamp.

I'd just like to point out that I'm in no way claiming to be an expert on any kind of beauty treatments, I don't have any qualifications or experience in doing acrylics myself but, having watched my nail technician every three weeks for two years I've picked up a bit of knowledge along the way. 

So here are a few tips as to what to consider when committing to acrylics:

LOOK FOR NAIL INSPIRATION
If you're thinking about having acrylics but you're not sure what style, shape or colour to go for, looking for inspiration is a good place to start. I love Pinterest for this - I have a whole board dedicated to nail ideas here - and much like going to the hairdressers, showing your nail technician a photo of the kind of nails you'd like makes their job a lot easier. It's always good to run any ideas you have by them first. Instagram always has great ideas too.

KNOW YOUR NAILS
The health of your nails is important when it comes to having acrylics. Make sure they're in good condition; as soon as you have primer and acrylic put over the top of your original nails they are going to deteriorate, especially if you're having longer tips glued on first. You should also be aware of how fast your nails grow in order to judge when you should book your next appointment to get in-fills or a fresh new set. Mine grow pretty quickly; I tend to have mine in-filled every three weeks and a fresh set every three or four months, and that seems to be pretty normal for an acrylic's lifespan. Acetone is used in the soak-off process, which doesn't help to improve your nails if they're worn and brittle, so either give your nails a break every once in a while or use a cuticle cream/oil to replenish moisture in the meantime. 

FIND THE RIGHT SALON
Don't just go to anyone. Shop around. Look at examples of their work and reviews if they have an Instagram/Facebook page, compare prices, and see if the staff are friendly and approachable. I know some people can stand to sit opposite someone for an hour or so in complete silence but I can't! I like to have a bit of banter and a gossip with my nail technician. Luckily, I go to a salon in the village where I grew up so everyone knows everyone and it makes for a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. It makes the process a lot more enjoyable as well.

HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WANT BEFORE YOUR APPOINTMENT
This goes back to researching and looking for inspiration, but it makes life a lot easier if you know exactly what you want before you go for your appointment. Think about the length and shape you'd like: are you like me and love a coffin shape? Or are you more of an almond girl? Square? Oval? Squoval?! Or maybe you want to stab a boy in the heart with some sick stiletto nails? The choice is completely yours (but think about practicality, please!) Knowing what you want eliminates the indecisiveness about the whole 'which colour do I fancy today?' debacle. Sometimes it's not as simple as choosing a colour for the next few weeks. If I want to get ombré acrylics I usually ask for them when booking my next appointment because they take longer to do and are usually more expensive - that way, both myself and my nail technician know what's what and we don't have to waste time.

PREPARE TO LEARN NEW WAYS OF DOING SIMPLE TASKS
When you first get acrylics and they're particularly longer than your original nails, everything is difficult to do. You'll find that using your knuckles like a feral beast becomes a good way to combat life's hurdles, especially when it comes to things like pressing buttons! Picking up coins is always a challenge. I consider it a success if I manage to put on the back of an earring or close the clasp of a necklace. I've learned to put in and take my contact lenses out without scratching my eyes; and a butter knife or spoon becomes your best friend when opening a ring-pull can. I can also take food out of the toaster without burning my fingers. And you have all of this to look forward to, my friend...

BREAKING A NAIL HURTS
Okay so this is probably a given, but just prepare yourself by knowing that a broken acrylic hurts way more than you'd think. If it's loose already it's not so bad, but I've slipped and caught my nail in a car door once (typical clumsy me) when it wasn't loose and my finger was bleeding and sore for days. I think it must hurt more because there are more layers to break. Still, it's something to be aware of!

I hope you found this helpful! I love the process of getting my nails done. It's definitely an expense, and purely cosmetic, but it just makes me feel so girly and lovely, and I wouldn't be without it. Do you have acrylics? Feel free to leave any other tips you have in the comments below!
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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

MY FAVOURITE PHOTO EDITING APPS


There are so many photo editing apps on the market nowadays, it can be kind of stifling to know which ones are the best for which specific purpose. I used to do a lot of my editing on Photoshop, even when it came to Instagram photos, but I always found that once they posted on the app the quality was just terrible. I'm not sure if that was my fault by the way I edited, but it wasn't the look I was going for. Now that Instagram is such a huge phenomenon - despite certain algorithm issues, people can still craft an entire career out of it - it's much more difficult to stand out in a crowd. Therefore, I want my photographs to look clear, sharp and all around beautiful.

Believe it or not, the quality of my photographs is actually better when I use my iPhone 7 as opposed to my Canon DSLR. It goes to show that you don't need expensive equipment to take great quality photos! As long as your lighting is nice and natural, and your content is interesting and unique, you're more likely to see the likes rolling in. And, of course, it does help to hashtag (as annoying as that is to some people).

So after you've taken that Instagram-bound photo, what apps should you use to tweak it?

VSCO
VSCO, or VSCO Cam, has got to be my go-to editing app. Sleek, stylish to look at and super easy to use, you upload the desired photo you want to edit to your "studio" (basically a gallery) and from this you can do all sorts. There are preset filters, but I've also bought a few filter packages as well because I use it so much. The variety is great! A few of my favourites are Clarity 4, New Modern 1, Alchemy 5, Clean 1, Clean 3, and B&W Classic 1. You cycle through filters, holding down on the photo to compare it to the original, and can also alter the effects. They include exposure, contrast, crop, sharpen, clarity, saturation and fade - all options that I have used to edit. You can save the new edited photo to your camera roll (in various sizes, too) or you can upload it straight to Instagram from the app.

AFTERLIGHT
This app is a favourite of a lot of bloggers, I've noticed. Again, easy to navigate and quick, Afterlight comes with less preset filters but much more editing options. Adjust the brightness, contrast, saturation, exposure, highlights, shadows, sharpness and clarity. There are also effects you can add on like light leaks, instant film, and dusty overlays. You can flip the image you're editing as well as rotate and crop. Basically, this app provides the user with everything they need in order to make their photo Instagram-ready. 

COLORSTORY
I mainly use Colorstory for their gorgeous filters. There are so many, and you can save them to a favourites box so you're not cycling through every time you edit which is a convenient feature. Again, like all the other apps, you can buy other filter packs to give you more options, but the originals they provide you with are a great starting point. You can also add flare and bokeh effects (remember when everyone was obsessed with those on Instagram?!), crop/frame, adjust curves, blur/sharpen, and a whole bunch of other editing sliders. I don't use this one as much but, having looked through it again while making this post, I might have to give it a proper go!

BOOMERANG AND HYPERLAPSE
Not so much photo editing apps, but if you're looking to use Boomerang in a broader sense (i.e. not in your IG Stories) get the app that's dedicated to it. You can post them as a part of your grid in one step, instead of saving them from your Stories and losing the quality. Hyperlapse is the sister app to Boomerang where you can take a video and speed it up or slow it down. The options are 1x, 2x, 4x, 6x, 8x, 10x, and 12x normal speed; and the good thing about these is that you can see how long the original video is, and then it compares it to how long it would be should you change the speed. I find these are good for time lapses such as speed cleans and yoga flow - which I'm really into at the moment by the way!

INSTAGRAM
And do you know what? If you don't have time to faff about, Instagram itself has some great editing tools. We all know what the interface looks like. I always edit further in the app before posting to the grid - it's kind of like my "final checklist" but I don't go mad. One thing I have never used is the filters. I do, however, like to use the sliders to adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, lux and sometimes the warmth of my photo. I also like how you can save to drafts if you don't want to post that perfect photo just yet. When is the right time to post though?! I don't think there is one anymore - thanks algorithm...

All of these apps are completely free (unless you're buying extra filters in-app) and are available on the app store. 

What are your favourite photo editing apps?
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Sunday, 15 April 2018

WHAT I'VE BEEN WATCHING • ONE


TELEVISION & NETFLIX

RuPaul's Drag Race
I will always always ALWAYS be a fan of RuPaul's Drag Race (and Ru himself) and after tirelessly looking for streams to watch All Stars 3, I was relieved to find out that season 10 was going to be shown on Netflix. I kind of love that they're choosing to air it weekly as opposed to all at once, then it gives me something to look forward to after work on a Friday - how sad! Me and a buddy of mine have Drag Race Fridays where we order a takeaway and watch the main show and then Untucked - it's honestly my favourite thing to do at the moment. Who are your favourites so far? I really like Blair St Clair (I do declare!), Monet X Change and Miz Cracker, and Aquaria is a complete fish on the runway.

Dragula
In the same vein as Drag Race, Dragula has a small cult following with a crowdfunded budget and is a search for the next drag super-monster. It basically marries two of my favourite things: drag and sfx makeup. It's hosted by the Boulet Brothers, who always look incredible (mostly in skintight pvc, that tuck thoooo), and they set challenges for the contestants where they showcase a concept which involves horror, drag, glamour and filth. At the end of each show, two or more of them are up for "extermination" and have to take on a final challenge that usually involves something disgusting - getting buried alive, eating brains, and being pierced with thick needles are just some of the horrid things they have to go through to prove they deserve to stay. Hilariously, the losing contestant is "killed off" in a different way every episode. You can watch every episode (currently 2 seasons) on YouTube.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Broadcast on the BBC, and following on from the wildly successful The People vs OJ Simpson (also recommend the watch), this dramatisation follows the events leading up to the death of Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace, who was murdered outside his home by serial killer Andrew Cunanan in the late 90s. Darren Criss plays the killer (I always think back to his A Very Potter Musical days on Youtube and now look how far he's come as an actor) and I think he's the perfect choice. Honestly, you only need to look at photos of the real Andrew Cunanan to see what I mean, but his portrayal is just so good as well. As the story unfolds - and in most episodes, goes back and forth between 1990 and the 1997-present day - you get a real sense of the charisma, subsequent manipulation and ultimate sadistic tendencies this incredibly disturbing young man goes through. He just wants to be wealthy and famous, but of course he doesn't want to work for it... Oh, and Penelope Cruz plays Donatella Versace and she's amazing in it so I would watch for that alone. And Ricky Martin's in it too?!

How to Get Away With Murder
This is another ongoing one for me. I've only just gotten into it but the first season was honestly insanely good! Season 2 is a little slower so I'm hoping it will pick up a bit soon. The story seems to be getting more and more complicated too so I feel like I can't binge watch it season-by-season like I do with other less taxing shows. I finally get where that meme GIF of Viola Davis rolling her eyes and picking up her handbag comes from now though!

Friday Night Dinner
I feel like this is another cult show but I loved it when it was on channel 4, then All4, and now it's come to Netflix so we can all share the hilarity. It's essentially two grown-up Jewish brothers who go round to their parents' for Shabbat dinner every Friday and basically ridiculous stuff happens. The Dad never wears a shirt. The Mum is constantly trying to fix her sons up and avoid their creepy neighbour, Jim. And the sons (played by Simon Bird from the Inbetweeners and Tom Rosenthal from Plebs) are always playing practical jokes on each other. A fifth series has been confirmed so I'm super excited for it to air sometime this year.

MOVIES

A Quiet Place
John Krasinski (aka Jim Halpert from the Office) writes, directs and stars in this horror/thriller in which a family tries to survive in a post apocalyptic world by living in complete silence in order to evade alien creatures who hunt using sound. I really enjoyed this one; there are a few plot holes and questions to be asked but overall it lived up to the hype. And I love how they cast a deaf actress and the rest of the cast learned sign language for the role. If you go and see this, just make sure you only snack on marshmallows or something, because the cinema was pretty much s i l e n t the entire time. At one point someone dropped an empty cup on the floor during a particularly tense part and everyone lost their shit. If you're not a fan of horror, a buff bearded John Krasinski is definitely worth the watch!

What have you been watching lately? Have you seen any of these and, if so, what did you think? I'd love to know your opinions!

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