Working From Home : 5 Tips To Be Productive

I’ve been working from home for the past 4 years. First I was a remote employee, now I’m doing freelance which is a completely different vibe. However, when working remotely my amazing manager and colleagues have shared their “working from home tips” with me over the years. I was definitely inspired by what I’ve learned on my own, and by what I’ve been advised… Though the first and only rule should be, you do you!

Why an article then you might think? Well because it’s always reassuring to read about productivity tricks because where to start right?

I was basically a Carrie Bradshaw in the making. Or so I thought.

But the actual truth in my opinion is : try things out, find a routine if you can but don’t freak out if days don’t look the same, if you’re not as productive as last week, if sometimes you find it hard to be motivated, if you find the line between personal and professional gets blurry or if you find yourself putting makeup on at 5.30pm because you haven’t left the house. It’ll get easier, and you’ll eventually find what works and what doesn’t work for you.

When I got this job where I’d work remotely, I thought “This is the dream. I can work on my computer from my couch in my pyjamas and have coffee all day long and not have to socialize with colleagues I don’t even find funny and…” I was basically a Carrie Bradshaw in the making. Or so I thought. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years…

  • Working from home is working, period.

This is key. What it means is, no your friends can’t pop around for tea so you have to make things clear for your friends, family etc. Working from home is great and it might look like heaven to those who don’t, but it’s still work. Let’s say you’ve decided to work roughly between 8am and 5pm for example, you’re as unavailable as they are. Why? Because you’re at work. Just so happens that work is located in your home.

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Try to make your office look nice if you care about that sort of stuff because it does help to get in the mood.
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You know how when you have colleagues, you take coffee/tea breaks? Well, take a little break during the day just to quickly reset and get your groove back. I always make sure I have a full pot of coffee ready in the morning to keep me going.
  • Get dressed. Or don’t.

Working in my pyjamas seemed like an absolute luxury and I believe it has to do with the fact that I hate waking up. I’m 29 and still struggling. In a way, keeping your PJ’s on means you don’t have to face the world the same way than when you get dressed, drive or commute to GO to work. You’re up but you’re still in the warm comfort of your own home, drinking coffee out of your own mug, wearing something comfortable.

Well, I hate keeping my PJs to work. Which in a way makes sense when you read this sentence doesn’t it? Would you wear your pyjamas to work? That’s what I thought.

However a friend of mine just loves it, and it does not affect her productivity at all, or only in a good way I reckon. I did try to of course because of this romantic vision I had and to be honest, I still have massive FOMO that I’m not one of those people who enjoy working in loungewear. I like to get dressed, wash my face, sometimes even put makeup on and then I head out to…my work space which is basically my living room. Though I have a proper office in there with a proper chair which is very important to me. It sets my mood and helps me realize that I have to get shit done!

  • Structure your day…

Try to start around the same time everyday, set a time to eat a proper meal for lunch and try to finish work like you’d stop working if you were in an office because everyone’s going home so why stay late if you’ve done what needed to be done. Of course in some jobs, you could always work, always do more, and find it difficult to actually stop. When I started my remote job, I was extremely committed to the mission and wanted to be sure I was working enough. I did not know when to stop and I’d end up at my computer at 8 or 9pm just refreshing my emails, checking projects that we’d be working on, trying to think of groundbreaking ideas… Let me tell you, I did not have one single good idea at 8pm on a friday staring at my computer. Basically, I found it difficult to stop working without feeling guilty so I told my manager. She helped me to set tasks and to structure my day but also, and that’s the main thing I guess, I knew she trusted me to do a good job. The only problem was, I wasn’t trusting myself. That’s a whole different issue BUT to help with that feeling, making lists, creating a routine and try to avoid procrastination really helped. So I started working fro 8am-ish to 6pm with a lunch break in the middle and when my partner would come home, I knew it was time to close all the tabs on my computer and put it away. I also disabled work emails notifications from 6pm so I wouldn’t be tempted to check and eventually answer. It’s a bit more difficult to do that as a freelancer because I only depend on myself but I try to stick to a real routine because it sets you up for success I think. There’s a time to work and a time not to, own it.

  • …but be flexible

If you have a doctor’s appointment, need to catch up with a friend or just suddenly want to get your hair cut you don’t have to take a day off. Enjoy! It’s one of the perks of working from home, you’ll finish work a bit later that day and that’s that. Allow yourself to make the most out of this situation. Also, working from home can get lonely so when there’s an opportunity for me to head out and talk to people, I take it!

  • Don’t forget to eat

I don’t eat breakfast though I really want to make it a new habit, but it means that if I realize at 3pm that I haven’t eaten anything, it’s bad. Set an alarm for your lunch break and stick to it. Don’t eat in front of your computer. Try and think about the meals you’re going to have during the week when you go grocery shopping. I hate cooking lunch for myself, so I tend to either eat something that me and my partner had the night before, or have something like a soup with a bit of cheese and a fruit for example. I’ve also recently discovered mackerel in mustard sauce which is quite nice… Ha, well, I’m sure you’ll do better than that, I’m the worst at finding things to eat in the flat and I don’t really know how to cook from scratch so it’s a work in progress! The main thing is to make time for lunch. People who work in a office take the time and it’s not being more productive in my opinion to eat a sandwich in 5 minutes in front of your computer. Take a step back, refresh your mood and ideas, come back to work.

Hope these first few tips helped and good luck with the working from home thing. Don’t feel guilty by the way if people don’t get that working from home is actual work, it’s getting more and more popular these days, they’ll understand it eventually. You just sit back and enjoy!

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English summer, life discoveries and a well needed reset.

So, I took a break. What do you mean you hadn’t noticed it?

I know. I did not really think about it, I just took it which is good in a way, right? Holidays started with a long week-end around la Loire, followed by family events, then I went to London for about 10 days, came back and was basically in denial that summer was, in fact, going to end. Bring on autumn though, it’s by far my favorite season, but I have to say, I have loved this summer. It’s been crazy hot, I wore dresses every single day which you know was a new thing for me this year, I finished a book and started two new ones, I spent time with friends and family, it’s been NICE.

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To ease myself back into blogging I thought I’d share with you a few things I’ve learned and discovered over the past two months.

  • You’re on proper holidays when you have no idea what day it is. You’ve heard it before, but isn’t it so true? From my mother in law’s garden in the North of France to the crazy busy and hot Northern Line in London to my godmother’s vegetable’s garden in the middle of nowhere (I kind of had a connection with nature this summer, how insufferable of me!), I somehow managed to forget about days and time. It took me a few days of course but It had not happened in a few years, so I’m glad I was able to actually enjoy moments and not project myself in the past or the future. Oh you know what helps? Leave your phone away, don’t bring it everywhere with you, you will be fine.
  • Wine on the Eurostar is perfection. I mean I don’t even have anything else to say. Standard Premier was cheaper than normal tickets for some reason. Therefore, coming back home from London a little drunk because we had some free wine on the Eurostar was simply heaven.
  • Chemical exfoliation is not for me. I got super enthusiastic about being on holidays in London (I lived there for a year, that’s why I can’t shut up about it, I love it), and when in Liberty… bought myself the cult P50 by Biologique Recherche. Now, my skin has reacted quite badly to Liquid Gold by Alpha H in the past, not every time but a few too many, yet I really wanted to give a try to P50, and I could not retain myself when I saw the bottle on a (very lovely because Liberty’s a treasure for your eyes) shelf. Well, I applied it straight away when we came back home, and had an allergic reaction the next morning, that lasted 10 days! So I’ll stay away from chemical exfoliation for now.
  • Downsizing the number of people I follow on Instagram means I don’t have that many people to compare myself to. I took this decision after our holidays where I did not check my Instagram that much at all and consequently felt so much better about myself. I needed a bit of a reset. Of course I tried to find an app that’d help me to unfollow massive amount of people but I could not find anything that actually worked. They don’t make it easy for you, do they? So it did take quite some time but it was definitely worth it. Just be prepared if you’re thinking about it, might take an hour or so! I now only follow people who inspire me, and make me feel good. Easy peasy. I also have a personal Insta account with my friends etc, that I don’t use that much but it does allow me to separate the blog feed and the more personal stuff. I even got an Insta notification last week telling me “You’re all caught up. You’ve seen all new posts from the past 2 days”. Mad.

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  • Cerave hydrating cleanser if the perfect cleanser if you’re on a budget and have extremely sensitive skin. Extremely gentle, I don’t know about the hydrating claim because I leave it on for one minute but it does not strip the skin. I got it in Boots, but also found it in my local french pharmacy. Honestly, so good.
  • Real Techniques mini travel brush duo is cute and brilliant. Perfect size if you’re going away and of course, like all Real Techniques brushes, affordable and effective. Got them in Monoprix in my hometown, but you can get them in Boots of course, and online.
  • I need to start eating breakfast. I’ve never been a “morning person”, I mean, what even is that? (We’ll talk about that in more details in a different piece soon by the way.) I usually never, I mean ne-ver, have breakfast. It’s been like that since I was a kid. While on holidays, in my family and in London, I did have breakfast (i.e bread and butter) almost everyday and it made a big difference to my day to day life. So I’m willing to give it a go, I just don’t seem to find the motivation at 7am in my flat but I will make an effort. Might be life-changing for all I know, and everybody’s been banging on about it for decades so you know, thought It might be time I’ll think about it!
  • Now THAT, is a good show. We have been watching Treme the HBO TV series by David Simon who also is responsible for The Wire, probably my favorite TV show of all time. My friend really sold it to me and she was right : It’s brilliant, revolting, smart, moving, funny, best summer discovery.

That’s all for now! Hope you all had a lovely summer. Do share your highlights if you have any, I’d be interested!

I’ll be back, not in two months, no no, like, this week? This week!

Why Should Our Eyelashes Be Dark And Long And Our Body Hair Non-existent?

The other day, I was having my legs waxed, and because I find it boring and painful, I started a conversation with the beautician, and the subject was, as it often is, the tyranny of hairless legs. She said, “that’s very true, men don’t have to go through it. I wonder why, it’s so unfair. But I have to say it looks prettier and certainly feels cleaner when your legs are waxed.” I raised an eyebrow. I think I get to hear this sentence every single time I go to the beautician. No it’s not cleaner and why would we look better without it? Isn’t it the most natural state of the body? Also, why the fuck should we always smile and be pretty?

Now, I’m not blaming my beautician. I’m not blaming anyone really. It just makes me really angry to think that female body hair are so stigmatized. Also, to be contradictory because hey, I’m human, I wax and shave and epilate. All of these. And I hate it. But I do like how it looks. So you won’t find any definitive statement about body hair here, just a reflexion on this very summery subject, that I’m forced to face, only wanting to wear dresses and skirts because of the heatwave we’ve been having.

My mum doesn’t have any body hair really, and is a little bit proud about it, which really did not help when as a teen, I had to use Jolen cream on my mustache to dye it blond.

Today, I read a great article on Man Repeller written by Haley Nahman, the piece is titled, “4 Women on Loving and Growing Their Body Hair“. It’s a brilliant conversation, and definitely made me think, yet again, about how absurd having to shave/wax/epilate all the hair on our bodies is. One of the women being interviewed said something that stuck with me, “Your hair is who you come from, just like your eyes, lips and teeth. I love that. When I think about my bush, I think of bodies in the wilderness; we grow a natural blanket of protection.

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This really added a new perspective on my morning which I’ve spent exfoliating and shaving because I’m going away this weekend. Truth be told, when I read the article and scrolled down to see the pictures of hairy women, I was like ” hum, that’s a bit intense isn’t it? Oh wow, that’s how some women look with hair on their legs“. Because you know what? I’ve only, once in my lifetime, seen a woman sporting hair on her legs. I was in SF for a work trip, and this lady on the bus had a gorgeous dress and super long dark legs hair. Isn’t it crazy that it was the first time I’d seen hair on a woman’s legs?

My mum doesn’t have any body hair really, and is a little bit proud about it, which really did not help when as a teen, I had to use Jolen cream on my mustache to dye it blond. I was so envious of her and so self-conscious about my body hair. Though to be fair, she did tried her best to help me out you know, with dealing with those unwanted hair. I think I first got my legs waxed at 13 because she did not want me to shave, and told me that if I kept on waxing, I’d have way less hair as an adult. Of course, one summer, tired of having to watch my hair grow enough so I could get them waxed, I got my first razor, and the rest is history.

Boys definitely did not help with the body hair and stache situation. I grew up in the 90’s, I don’t think it got better, and have no idea how kids deal with it nowadays. But back in the days, it was very painful, and it has ruined the “already-not-that-high” self confidence I had. I’m actually so thankful for beauty bloggers who speak out about how they get rid of their body hair, and also thankful for this article on Man Repeller. You do you, for sure. I believe it’s brave in a way to let your hair go au naturel. I certainly don’t feel like I could do it anytime soon. Yet this article really made me think about the endless conversations about body hair with my beautician, my sisters, my friends… And after reading it, and reminiscing all the hair removal questions that I had when I was a kid, and all the shaming there is around body hair, I kept thinking : “Why should our eyelashes be dark and long and our body hair non-existent?

On that topic, I’d recommend you read Haley Nahman’s article, and read Man Repeller all together because it’s a super smart website. Nadine Baggott and Emma Guns did a good video about hair removal if you feel like you need advice in that department, oh and this conversation on, you guessed it, Man Repeller, is super interesting as well.

Anyway, no real answers but a lot of questions, thank me later right? I’d love to know what you think about this topic though!

Little Things #1

I’ve been a bit busy lately, but the good kind of busy. Still, I haven’t been super present on the blogging front, so I’m hopefully making it up to you with today’s blog post. I’m coming back with an article about those little things that make life better, you know? It could be something you read, your new mug purchase (hint hint) or buying yourself some flowers. Little things #1 will be a series because there’s never too much things to be inspired by I think and here’s the first episode. Oh and I’d love it if you shared yours in the comments actually!

1. Glossier Cloud Paints

A friend of mine recently hooked me up on some Glossier goodies which I am SO thankful for! I got boy brow in brown, stretch concealer in light, the Glossier You solid perfume (which I’ll tell you about soon) and two Cloud Paints, one in Puff which I’m almost finished of so I needed (yes I am using that verb, because I truly need this stuff) a new one and I also got the shade Haze, a dark flamboyant pink which I LOVE. The formula is still excellent, and the pigmentation is unreal, you only need the tiniest amount. I also really love the finish on lips with lip balm underneath, glossy and deeply pink.

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3. Old Hoop Earrings

I got these like 10 years ago at a flea market, but I’m falling in love with them again. They’re simple hoop earrings, they’re not gold plated or anything though they seem to last pretty well over years. I love pairing them with a pair of white jeans, sneakers and a boxy t-shirt. Or with a dress if I’m feeling extra fancy. Great and simple style addition if you ask me!

2. Marc Maron WTF Podcast

I’ve written an entire post about my favorite podcasts, but I have to reiterate on this one because it’s so brilliant. Today for instance, I listened to the episode with Jason Alexander (from Seinfeld amongst other things) and it was great. Marc Maron is a great interviewer and though I don’t listen to all the episodes because I don’t know all of his guests, I often just click randomly on the list of shows and am never disappointed. I find that this podcast simply is the best destination for smart and inspiring conversations!

 

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4. Vichy Mineral 89 serum

Now, this serum is so good to my skin it’s the best discovery I’ve made in months. Vichy Mineral 89 is packed with water, 89% of mineral water actually which to be honest made me a tad sceptical at first. Paying 20 euros for water? No no. Still, I wanted to give it a try because I was looking for a good hydrating serum with an affordable price, suitable for my extremely sensitive skin. This one only has 11 ingredients, and a really watery texture. Yet it works on my skin and it might be because it also has hyaluronic acid and glycerin. My skin feels more hydrated and soft (also it never got irritated because the serum is fragrance-free which is a huge plus for me), and I have to say, I feel like it’s giving me glow! I’ve been using it for 5 weeks now every single day, and I highly recommend it!

5. The Office Mug

I mean, do I even have to explain why? I LOVE The Office (US version, need to watch the original UK series) and I miss it from time to time, I need to watch it again actually. In the meantime, I got this mug, and it just makes me so bloody happy it’s insane.

 

Is It Ever Really “Just Hair”?

You know how when you go to the hairdresser, you have this image in your head of the new hairstyle you want, of the new woman you’re going to be when you leave the salon. Right? Especially when you’re in need of change, and just feel like you need to do something quite drastic, but can’t actually think of anything else than, well, changing your hair!

The other day I had an hour to spare because I had dropped off my glasses to get them updated to a new correction. One hour. Not wanting to browse in a bookshop, not feeling like having a coffee (it would have been the 4th one that day so, no-no), not feeling like anything really. Except, maybe, a spontaneous haircut. I walked up to a salon I’d been before ages ago. Googled them in front of the door to check if I needed to book an appointment which obviously was completely unnecessary because, I was in front of the door. Do you do that sometimes? I certainly do when I’m not feeling my best.

I had this idea of a “Baby in Dirty Dancing vibe” you know? You don’t? She has curly hair. I do to. That’s about all we have in common, but it’s enough.

Anyway, I went in, someone was on the phone telling a client they had no spot available that day so I thought, “well, that’s that, spontaneous doesn’t work for me.” Then, I spoke to one of the hairdressers and almost apologized for asking if maybe they might have some free time now, like in, now. The guy was super nice and told me, of course, have a sit. I freaked out. Inside my head. But still, I FREAKED OUT. A minute before I was smoking a cigarette outside the salon, a minute later, I was having my hair washed.

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Obviously, there was a massaging chair, which I just do not like. Let’s be real, It’s NOT a massage. It’s like an annoying moving chair in my opinion. They asked me if I wanted coffee, I wondered, and quickly enough, remembered I was already way too caffeinated at that point. Then the “what do you want then Darling? Fancy a big change?” question popped up. Did I mention I was freaking out?

I had this idea of a “Baby in Dirty Dancing vibe” you know? You don’t? She has curly hair. I do to. That’s about all we have in common, but it’s enough. I also had this vision of Charlotte Rampling’s long layered hair with a grown out fringe. Usually when I go to the hairdresser, I bring pictures which really helps, if you don’t do that already, you should give it a try, it’s life changing. But I did not this time because, it doesn’t really go with trying to be spontaneous I guess.

I had envisioned this new version of myself, with layered but not thinned out hair, a long romantic sort of fringe, a newborn confidence and potentially a new inner strength.

There I am, in the chair, telling the lovely hairdresser that I want to let my hair grow, that I’m letting my curls be but I’d like some structure instead of a long grown out bob, and that a long fringe would look nice, right?

During the process, I’m thinking, “It’s fine. Hair grows. Oh that looks more like a proper fringe… Fine. I’ll have a fringe. It’s not like I can’t put my hair up. Is he still cutting my hair? Don’t look at the floor. Oh I don’t have to, I have hair all over my white jeans. Good. I have no hair left. Fine.” How dramatic!

I had envisioned this new version of myself, with layered but not thinned out hair, a long romantic sort of fringe, a newborn confidence and potentially a new inner strength, all that revealed by the best haircut of all times. I guess in a way, I wanted to walk out and be someone else which is not an easy thing to admit. However, I believe it’s fine to acknowledge it. Don’t we all, sometimes? I feel the need to mention that this is a rhetorical question.

 

 

Fast forward an hour. I walked out with the curliest hair ever and a straight fringe which is not the best look (see the photo, I manage it better myself these days, but not there yet!), tiny little hair all over my face and the immediate feeling of needing to pull my hair back. Got my glasses back and a compliment on the haircut which was lovely. Came back home and felt like I’d been in an actual roller coaster. Started to text my friends, and did not really get the answers I wanted because I was simply not able to formulate the terrible question. Was this a mistake?

Now, I’m not Baby, nor Charlotte Rampling, but even if it’s not exactly the style I had in mind, I feel pretty good about it. It’ll grow out and look better I hope. I do find myself having to sort of straighten the fringe because it’s quite short… Doesn’t this description makes it seem like it looks horrendous? Ha. Though honestly, I like it!

The moral of the story is : I’m not someone else. I’m not necessarily a better version of myself. I have freshly cut hair though. I am a tiny bit more spontaneous that a few days ago. I can now say, “I had a fringe once, it was not necessary per se”. Actually you know what? I am a better version of myself because I tried something new.

You might think, “OMG, what is she on about, it’s just hair!”

But, is it really?

Blogging On A Budget And The Tyranny Of New Releases

The other day I was telling someone  “I don’t know what to write about on Friday. I want it to be a beauty-related post but it’s not that easy to write because I’ve already told the readers about my all time favorite products and my budget doesn’t really allow me to get new stuff constantly“. That’s where I thought, here’s a post idea!

I buy the products I use myself and to be honest, I’ve been really into fashion recently, so my pocket money goes into dresses, jeans, and I’ve been trying for ages to find sandals that actually are comfortable and look good, not an easy task let me tell you! So there’s nothing new for me at the moment, makeup or skincare wise. And guess what? It’s fine. Especially because, I have a few articles all about what I use and love, and maybe you haven’t read them yet…

Buy new stuff turns into new discovery, turns into research online, turns into “oh I did not know that product, oh what’s the brands, oh it sounds like it’s going to change my life”, turns into well, buy new stuff.

Ha! Also, truly, it’s fine because why would we always have to get new stuff you know? I have a friend who’s as fund of makeup and skincare as I am, and we text and talk about it a lot. It’s great, it’s like when I was a kid, playing, it’s SO MUCH fun to get to share this passion. We both get really excited about new releases, new trends, makeup items, skincare discoveries. But I think it’s fair to say how aware we both are of how much of a “vicious circle of consumption” it can be.

That’s how it works for me : Buy new stuff turns into new discovery, turns into research online, turns into “oh I did not know that product, oh what’s the brands, oh it sounds like it’s going to change my life“, turns into well, buy new stuff. That’s one of the reasons why I loved skincare more than makeup when I first started to get into the beauty world. So many products feel like they’re going to make you bloom into a new version of yourself.

I remember back in December, having a couple of weeks where I felt quite down, and all I could think about was buying skincare. (…) I kept ordering stuff that I couldn’t wait to try, but hey, breaking news, I was still depressed, with a little less money in my bank account.

A version with a glow, healthy looking skin, fuller brows, plumped lips, smooth legs and bright under-eyes. I still deeply believe that skincare does actually change the way your skin looks and feels because there’s so many amazing products out there. Still, when you find a routine that works for you, that you sometimes switch up a little but mainly stick to, what’s left to talk about, when in the meantime, the beauty industry releases new products almost every single day? Honestly, I’ve completely screwed up my skin at some point because I was trying everything under the sun so I’m done doing that. Here’s the thing as well, I’m into this new trend thing, that you might have heard about… saving money!

I remember back in December, having a couple of weeks where I felt quite depressed, and all I could think about was buying skincare. I guess in a way I wanted to take care of myself, not just on the outside though. The action of applying skincare products really relaxes me and comforts me. That’s when my skin freaked out in a major way. I kept ordering stuff that I couldn’t wait to try, but hey, breaking news, I was still depressed, with a little less money in my bank account. Sometimes I buy a serum, I research it a lot, take the time to think about whether or not I’m going to buy it and I get really excited about the product, the idea of using it, the action of using it, and usually, I love the result. But when feeling down, it simply doesn’t do the trick. Regarding makeup, it’s a game I LOVE to play, but I simply can’t spend more of what I’m able to on it, and I have to stay wise, you know? Also, I’m quite low-key with makeup. I don’t wear tons, and for example, one eyeshadow palette is all I need. However, blush? It gives me life and I could buy a new one every week.

I just thought I’d share my view on this here because maybe you’re feeling the same or maybe you think this is old news, either way I’d like to know your point on view!So, let’s review the situation here : I don’t need anything at the moment skincare and makeup wise, because I’m all set, got a nice routine at the moment , AND, because I only buy stuff when I finish a product.

Regarding skincare, the last thing I bought was the Clinique Take The Day Off balm because it’s great, doesn’t irritate my skin, it’s basically a safe purchase that I “needed” because I have just finished my Oh My Cream Cleansing Balm. My last makeup purchase is from Glossier, I got the Haze Cloud Paint Blush thanks to a friend who brought it back for me from the US, but I don’t have my hands on it yet. The other stuff I got from Glossier? Well, old favorites. A Milky Jelly Cleanser, Boy Brow in Brown, the Glossier You solid perfume which will be a new discovery, and Cloud Paint in Puff that I already own but have almost finished.

I have a few skincare discoveries in the making but I haven’t been testing them for long enough to tell you about it. Though I do mention what I’m using at the moment on my Insta Stories if you fancy watching that! Do let me know your thoughts on this topic and let’s start a conversation, shall we?

On Buying Yourself Flowers And Feeling Pretty Good About It

Since I’ve decided to sort of re-start the whole blogging thing, meaning to reconsider why and how I was actually blogging, I’ve realized it’s :

1. Way more difficult to give more depth to the articles

2. Way more inspiring

3. What I’ve always wanted to do a.k.a write and share things that inspire me!

You know what I’ve always wanted to do as well? Buy myself some flowers. Now, you may think “it’s super easy to do, not a big deal, what is she on about hey?”

I’ve been buying myself flowers for years. There’s a lovely, very french, market every weekend approximately 5 minutes away from where I live but I suck at buying groceries. Every time I go to this market, I come home with burgers and flowers. I never know which fruits or cheese to get – well that’s a lie… I always know which cheeseS I wanna get -, some vegetables are still a bit of a mystery to me and let’s not talk about meat or fish. Basically going to the market to actually get stuff to cook with stresses me out.

So every time I’d go… “no, not a gift, they’re for me”. At first I was annoyed. But slowly I started to feel empowered by this question.

Yet, I find myself going back to this market, especially during spring/summer because I love the atmosphere : loud, chilled, smells lovely, people take the time to talk to each other… Oh and there’s a florist who sell gorgeous bouquets. I vividly remember the first time I got myself some flowers. I had no idea what the name of the flowers were and felt quite self-conscious about it, especially because in front of me in the queue, people seemed like bloody experts! When it was eventually my turn, I simply showed the ones I wanted to the florist. And then he said the sentence I was going to hear every time I’d ever buy flowers on my own. “Is it a gift?”

 

Non. No you don’t need to wrap them all up. They’ll be fine on their own and they’ll come home to a very nice household even if they’re not a gift per say thank you very much.

So every time I’d go… “no, not a gift, they’re for me”. At first I was annoyed. But slowly I started to feel empowered by this question. Buying flowers wasn’t a statement. I love flowers, and as soon as I moved out of my student flat into a more grown-up flat I thought it’d be nice to have flowers from time to time to lift up my mood and add a bit of color to my living-room. Yet it seemed like buying them for myself really was a statement. You know how for some people it’s not easy to go to the cinema alone? Well for me, it was the whole buying flowers thing. It gets easier though. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older and maybe wiser, if it partly has to do with all the women I follow on Social Media who also buy themselves flowers and “treat themselves”… If it’s because we’re in an era of self-care and self-love, though to be fair I don’t think about it as taking care of myself, but it definitely is a comforting action!

It’s been a few years since my first visit to the market’s florist. Now, he doesn’t ask me anymore. And he gives me advices on how to take care of my bouquets. Also to be fair, it’s logical for him to ask if it is a present or not, because it could be. Next time someones asks me I might say, “Yes, it’s a gift. To myself. Wrap them all up like crazy please.”

In all honesty, if that’s what it takes to grow an audience as a blogger on Social Media, I hate it. 

I’m feeling uninspired because though my blog is only 4 months old, I’ve been stuck in a rut for a few weeks now, because I seem to have lost a battle against myself. Let me explain.

When I started this blog, I really wanted it to be a place where I feature makeup and skincare items and beauty stories that inspire me in a #prettyreal way. Meaning to illustrate my articles, I’d take pictures that would be realistic. If the tone of Le Beauty Journal was going to be honest and authentic, so had to be the pictures. I knew what and how I wanted to write, and this haven’t changed since I started. I also knew that the pictures would be a reflection of the content.

I’d carefully crease my bed cover so the product would look like it’d been placed there in an effortless way and it would look similar to the pictures I’d been seeing online, getting way more likes than mine.

So I told myself, “If my bronzer looks grubby, who cares, it’s real life. If there’s a stain on the side of my lipstick, who cares, it’s real life. If my shirt’s not ironed and there’s a socket plug behind me on that selfie, who cares, it’s real life.” But after only a few weeks of blogging, I felt like I had to up my game and take better pictures. I’ve had a personal account on Instagram for years now, and I’ve always loved shots that look real. Not too edited, spontaneous, raw. Just to be clear, I’m not criticizing people putting out amazingly shot and perfectly edited pictures. I understand it, it takes skills, passion and work, you do you! It’s just not my jam, it’s not the type of content I want to make or see on a day to day basis. Truth of the matter is, when I created @lebeautyjournal’s Instagram account, I sort of lost myself. Quite quickly. I soon decided to only post pictures that I’d taken with my reflex camera. I’d been seeing so many gorgeous, perfect pictures of beauty products, I started to worry mine weren’t professional enough.

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Not clean brushes
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Spontaneous Iphone picture

I thought I should use props like candles and vases and flowers and coffee mugs to make the overall shot look more beautiful. I went to a stationary shop and bought big sheets of paper, in pink, blue, red and black to have a neat, clean, background. I’d carefully crease my bed cover so the product would look like it’d been placed there in an effortless way and it would look similar to the pictures I’d been seeing online, getting way more likes than mine. When a friend got me flowers I thought, “Perfect, I’m going to use it for Sunday’s blog post”. I think I just wanted to fit in and be part of the game. But what game?

And I started to notice a pattern of actions that seem to work for some of these accounts. Comment (genuine please), like (same here but if you do it a lot, it’s better), host giveaways, tag and master social media interaction. I wanted in so I started to do the same.

I discovered when I launched my Instagram account that there are a LOT of beauty content related instagram account. I knew it had been a super trendy topic for years, and that the Beauty Industry was booming. In fact, that’s how my love for beauty became real: thanks to Youtube and Instagram, there was suddenly a new world to discover. Naturally, I’ve been following the biggest “influencers” for years and years. What I did not know is that there are thousands of people with small-ish beauty accounts on Instagram all trying to be creative and seen. I felt stupid to have thought that maybe I’d get people interested in my content. And I started to notice a pattern of actions that seem to work for some of these accounts. Comment (genuine please), like (same here but if you do it a lot, it’s better), host giveaways, tag and master social media interaction. I wanted in so I started to do the same.

I follow around 300 people on my personal account and almost 600 on my blog account. The difference between the two is that my blog’s account became a place where I’d follow beauty content creator to compare myself and keep up to date with beauty content out there, and basically try and get up there with all of them. I would like a picture to get a like in return. I’d post everyday because, well, you have to. I tried to comment on tons of pictures to get noticed. That’s how I started to loose myself.

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Dirty Lipsticks
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Broken blusher

Though before launching the blog, I had a pretty strong idea of what I would and would not do. I decided to launch my blog because I wanted to write in english about beauty because I’ve been SO into it for years, and not a lot of people around me care about this topic. I called it Le Beauty Journal because I’m french and I write in english. I thought the name was quite fitting because I knew I’d eventually start talking about style, books,  films, podcasts, all the things that make life more beautiful. That was it. And it’s been lovely.

To fix that, I questioned myself and decided I should at least try to play the social media game.

Some of you readers are from Russia, Australia, England, France, the USA… it amazes me! But for you to see what I write, I have to exist on social media platforms otherwise my blog is like a dusty book sitting on a shelf that nobody even knows about. What’s ironic is that I knew all of that before I started blogging, because it’s been like this for years, and my favorite Content Creators online who are all pretty honest and real, share their struggle regarding this shift in digital content. Also, I used to work as a journalist, and a Marketing and Community Manager, so I was fully aware of the problematic.

That’s why I thought, I’ll keep my goal in mind, stay #prettyreal, and it’ll be fun and maybe a bit different and voilà! I decided I would grow my audience organically. No robots, just work and consistence, just me trying to do my thing. I did stick to that. The thing is, the space is so saturated that when you start, you might be putting out stuff that’s a bit different or doing the same stuff everyone’s doing, you’re pretty much invisible. To fix that, I questioned myself and decided I should at least try to play the social media game. At first I liked it because I could see more likes and comment and consequently, my goal here, more readers on the blog. BUT, I’d loose the followers the next day, get crappy, fake comments below my pictures, get 50 likes from the same person so I would notice her/him and follow back. Here’s the thing: I like pictures on my feed all the time to support the content I enjoy and actually see it since the algorithm has changed, but I rarely comment. That’s just me, I don’t feel the need to comment, if I do I really have to have something to say. But I started to try to comment more and it was so dull. I never knew what to say, I was forcing myself. I’d also get likes on WordPress from people who would simply like ALL the articles in one go. I’d type in a hashtag in WordPress and Instagram and check out posts and articles with themes I’d be interested in, but after a few pictures and articles, it’d just get boring to try and find content that you relate to just so you can leave a comment in the hope that someone’s going to see it and click on your name and read your blog.

Isn’t it depressing? At the time I thought, “in all honesty, if that’s what it takes to grow an audience as a blogger on Social Media, I hate it.

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No one asked me to play the game this way of course. This weekend, I was at my mum’s house and my little brother told me my blog pictures were looking nicer and nicer. I said “aw thanks“, and thought “is it really what I want though? Shouldn’t my focus be elsewhere?“.

Do I want to create content that ultimately sets unachievable standards? Am I willing to, literally, fake it till I make it?

Over the past few weeks, I have been feeling like I’ve been posting pictures just for the sake it. Just to get more likes, views, comments, clicks. I still want all those things because ultimately, my goal is for the blog to find its audience BUT do I want to participate in creating content that’s polished and quite far away from reality? Do I want to create content that ultimately sets unachievable standards? Am I willing to, literally, fake it till I make it? There’s nothing new here. Everyone knows. But when you experience it, you still find it tough I think. That’s why I think I have my answer.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand why people do it. I did it myself. I’ve tried, I’ve seen what it does to me (makes me feel miserable), and I’m hoping I can find a solution that will make me a happy, true to myself, honest blogger that’s all. I will still use hashtags because it does help me to find new inspiration when I’m scrolling through Instagram, so maybe someone feeling a bit confused by all of that might find some kind of authenticity on my account and blog. I’ll still post pictures that I find beautiful because I’ve always loved taking pictures but I will not obsess over “non-instagramable” details and I’ll shot things the way I want to, I will still try and find topics that are interesting for you and for me. I’ll try my best.

On that note, I strongly recommend you follow Sali Hughes, Caroline Hirons, Ruth Crilly, Joanna SpicerLeandra MedineThe Anna Edit, Lily Pebbles, and there are so many others out there putting out content I truly enjoy and am inspired by. I hope this piece makes sense. It’s spontaneous and not edited, ha! Let me know your thoughts on that, I’d be interested to hear more about what you think!

Have a lovely day,

Elsa

Curly hair, letting go and a new identity in the making

I spent New Year’s Eve in London with my friends. It was after the Christmas madness, trying to see as many people in our respective families as we could. We arrived in London, knackered. But really happy. I always look forward to going back to what once felt like my town.

The first morning, I washed my hair and realized I had forgotten my oh so expensive, but oh so amazing, pocket Mason Pearson’s brush. I thought to myself “Am I really going to borrow a brush from my friend, that’s not going to work like my usual one and then plug my straighteners, but first blowdry my hair, just because I don’t feel confident enough to just let my hair be…?” I decided. Non. So I left my hair do their own thing. Which had not really happened in years. I guess I felt confortable enough to do it, to quit, cold turkey.

When I was 19, my mum kindly got me straighteners because I wanted to give this styling tool a try. Well, I tried, let me tell you.

So we left to have lunch in a pub in Chelsea. It was windy, my hair was wet, but for some reason I felt ok, almost nice actually. It might have had to do with the fact that my friends really encouraged me. Encourage me ? To do what you might think. Well, to me, letting my hair curl, be au naturel, is a new identity. Dry, my hair was actually really, really curly. It had not been this way in almost 10 years.

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When I was 19, my mum kindly got me straighteners because I wanted to give this styling tool a try. Well, I tried, let me tell you. The minute I straightened my first piece of hair, I knew I wanted to look like this forever. It was a new me. The closest I could be to kinda have hair like the actresses, singers, stars I’d grew up watching on TV, or seing in magazines. It made me feel more sophisticated, put together. Also, even though it’s actually harder to control straightened hair over curls, I felt like I was in total control. Paradoxically because I had to hide from the rain, (and it rains a lot where I live), hide from humidity, sleep with my hair tied up sometimes, not to mess up with the shape, and bring my straighteners anytime I’d go away somewhere for more than one night. But I felt good.

At least for the first few years. But as I was getting older, I felt guilty in a way to pretend I had this shinny, soft, frizz-free hair. Don’t get me wrong, I wear makeup and I love it, but I could go out without it. I don’t feel trapped when I put makeup on : it actually makes me deeply happy. It’s like being a kid again. I’m playing with colors, textures, looks. It’s refreshing and lovely.

But straightening my hair was not fun. It would take ages, and damage my hair quite badly. And again, the weather or a forgotten tool would make me feel shitty about myself.

Going out without doing anything to my hair was simply not something I was able to consider. That’s when it started to be an issue. Therefore, I had in mind I would stop that nonsense one day. Weirdly enough… I would always find myself excuses not to. But, when in London…

Back to now. When my hair was dry in London, in the Pub, my friends all noticed a difference, and one of them even said, “you look great and it looks like you’ve put some efforts into this look because of how nice the curls are”. This warmed my heart. And not only because it was very kind of my dear friend to say so. But because, it made me think that I looked pulled together, and sophisticated. See ? Why would I want that anyway ? Isn’t natural good enough ?

As you may be able to see on the pictures above, top left is when I used to straighten my hair. So, since that day, I haven’t blowdried my hair, or used a straightener. And I look more like the two other picures… When I came back from London, it was not that easy. I did not like it, thought I looked weird, different but not in a good way, not put together. But I pushed through these feelings, and I’m ok now.

It might appear frivolous but I would strongly say it is not. Hair can be such a big part of one’s identity. It’s funny how emotions, feelings, hopes can be attached to it.

With straight/put together hair I was armed to be strong, confident, and pretty. Needless to say I did not feel like that, but that’s how tricky it gets. If with pretty, controlled hair I did not feel amazing, how would it be with natural, curly, messy hair ? Who would want to know honestly ? I did not. Until a few weeks ago.

I don’t know why. It just happened. And I’m feeling brave in a way. Detached as well. Because curly hair just do what it wants to do really.

So I have to accept that and frankly ? It is so bloody liberating.

So it begins. I’ll take you on this journey with me ! Next up ? Products for curls !

Podcasts I’m loving right now

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My sunday basically. Face masks, coffee and podcasts.

So everyone and their mother is into podcasts. No news here. And I am too !

I listen to podcasts a few times a week. When I have something boring to do, when I cook, when I struggle to get in the mood or to be creative and actually get shit done, on the train, on the tube, etc. Actually, you’ll see below in which mood these podcasts put me in, it might be useful for you to choose a few to listen to !

Without further a do, here’s a list of the ones I’ve been loving recently and why you might enjoy them as well !

My Dad Wrote A Porno 

What they say about it

“Imagine if your Dad wrote a dirty book. Most people would try to ignore it and pretend it had never happened – but not Jamie Morton. Instead, he’s decided to read it to the world in this brand new comedy podcast. With the help of his friends, James Cooper and Alice Levine, Jamie will be reading a chapter a week and discovering more about his father than he ever bargained for.”

Why I like it

It’s simply hilarious. At first, I was a little bit obsessed by the veracity of the story. Did Jamie’s dad really write a porno ? I don’t care anymore because the story itself is so good in the craziest way, and Alice and James comments so funny that I’m actually hooked ! I sometimes laugh out loud on the street when I’m listening to it which is not my best look  but it’s definitely worth it. This is pure joy. If you’re feeling blue, listen to My Dad Wrote A Porno, you’ll forget why you were in a sad mood in the first place.

Girlboss Radio

What they say about it

“On each episode of the Girlboss Radio, Sophia interviews boundary-pushing women who’ve made their mark—eschewing polite conversation and extracting solid advice from the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Expect hilarious co-hosts and vulnerable, honest conversations you won’t hear anywhere else. Conversations that humanize the known, champion the unknown, and laugh a little at the absurdity of life.”

Why I like it 

What I enjoy about this podcast is that it makes me discover business women who have their shit together but don’t make me feel bad about it. Sophia’s questions are genuine and deep, and the guests’s answers are equally gripping. It’s also interesting business wise, I would not consider myself a very business-orientated person, but I do learn a lot when listening to it. Inspirational and motivating !

At Home With

What they say about it

“Your home says so much about you – where you’ve travelled, who you’ve met, and the kind of person you are. We’ve asked people we admire to open their front doors and talk about their lives, by taking a tour of their homes to discover who they really are. We’ve riffled through their wardrobes, nosed through their fridges and even scrolled through their Sky+ recordings, to shed some light on their fascinating lives. Join us At Home With…”

Why I like it 

First of all, I’ve been reading Anna and Lily‘s blogs and watching their Youtube videos for years. So when I heard they were making a podcast, I was excited to hear more about the idea behind it. I like how enthusiasts they are when going into their guests’s houses, and how their curiosity makes for great conversations. It’s like following them around into great women’s bathroom or living room. I’m extremely curious and this really sealed my thirst. Beauty, lifestyle, home decor, business, inspiration… I just wish it could be longer because it’s that good !

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This, of course, is probably my favorite mug in the world.

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What they say about it

“Alec Baldwin takes listeners into the lives of artists, policy makers and performers. Alec sidesteps the predictable by going inside the dressing rooms, apartments, and offices of people we want to understand better: Ira Glass, Lena Dunham, David Brooks, Roz Chast, Chris Rock and others.”

Why I like it 

Well, Alec Baldwin’s voice in itself is delightful. But of course, the conversations are equally fascinating. I pick the guests I’m interested to know more about, and I’m never disappointed because of how well Alec (yes, I just called him Alec) knows the industry and because of the brilliant guests he’s had on the show… My favorites are Sarah Jessica Parker (absolutely fascinating, not what you might expect), Barbara Streisand, Judd Apatow, Patti Lupone, David Simon & Jerry Seinfeld.

Monocyle with Leandra Medine

What they say about it 

“A ten minute digest from author, humorist and creator of Man Repeller, Leandra Medine. New shows published weekly.”

Why I like it 

I love Leandra Medine. She’s witty, alert and hilarious. This 10 minutes podcast makes me feel like I spent these minutes being her friend and thinking about our lives: where they’re going, who we are, what we want to be. Also, I really appreciate her use of english language which might sound weird, but she’s a fabulous writer so it makes sense : she’s fabulous to listen to.

The Emma Guns Show

What they say about it

“Each week beauty journalist and presenter Emma Gunavardhana chats to a beauty industry insider; from skincare experts, make-up artists, fellow beauty editors, bloggers, beauty junkies – you name it. So if you love beauty you’d better tune in.”

Why I like it 

Beauty, lifestyle, meditation, business, I look forward to Emma’s podcast every sunday. I really appreciate how personal it is, and at the same time how empathic she is with her guests. Also the show still feels artisanal in the best way. It’s very real. She’s a great interviewer, and the subjects are just exactly the type of content that goes along a perfect sunday at tea-time kind of mood.

Oh Boy

What they say about it

“In this first podcast from Man Repeller, Filmmaker Jay Buim sits down with women in the arts, tech and beyond for one on one conversations about their life and work.”

Why I like it 

I haven’t listened to all of them, and it’s actually ended now. But Jay Buim’s conversations are very inspiring. His voice is really soft and I enjoy how he brings his guests to question almost everything. Emily Weiss’s interview is captivating for example. Start with that I’d say, you might find yourself coming back to it.

Voilà !

I also enjoy a few more podcasts, but more on that in an other article ! Do you also listen to podcasts ? Leave your recommandations in the comments, I’d love to discover new ones ! Happy sunday !