Wednesday 25 July 2018

What to do when all your friends are settling down (and you're not)

I've pretty much always been in a relationship. Since high school, I've lived my life with my partner at my side. In fact, I can't really remember being single. And I'm happy with that - I'm one of those lucky, smug people who found their soulmate young.

But when you reach a certain point in your twenties (especially if you're from a small town), you start to get 'the questions'. They'll often pop up at weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, births - any 'do' which involves family, really. And you'll come to expect them; you'll start bracing yourself once you spot Aunt Helen sidling her way up to you while you're stocking up on mushroom vol-au-vents, because you know what'll come next.

It always starts with 'so'.

"So, have you found a house yet?"
"So, when is *** going to propose?"
"So, when am I going to get a grandchild?"

Or it'll be the ominous 'you're next', as if you're about to become the victim of a rampant serial killer making his way through unsuspecting freelance journalists. Whether it's at your cousin's engagement party or your brother's wedding, it's automatically assumed that you'll be next on the list for a relationship milestone because the family member closest in age to you is your nephew, and he's only twelve. Lucky shit.

And I know it's all meant in the nicest of ways (or is it? I'll consider writing about the detrimental effects of pushy family members in another post), and that the uncle you haven't seen in a year really does just want to know how you're getting on. But, what if you don't even know?

There's definitely an unspoken plan that you're expected to follow when you're in a relationship: get a place together, get engaged, married, have kids, try not to get divorced, die. But what if you're not really that fussed about all those things (apart from dying - you can't really get out of that one)? I've never been someone to gush over the thought of a dream wedding with a frothy white dress, or feel an overwhelming tug in my ovaries when I hear a child cry. In fact, I don't like kids. And I'm not really that bothered about getting married.

I've come to a crossroads

I've been thinking about this plan a lot lately, and how differently I picture my future in comparison. But a recent event has made my mind go into overdrive. One of my oldest friends has just got engaged.

Of course, I love her and I'm so happy for her. As much as it may seem from my cynical tone and sarcastic humour, I'm not bitter (I'm just a journalist). I couldn't think of a person anymore deserving of a happy relationship, and I can't wait to see her happier than ever on her wedding day.

However, it has made me think of my own future, and how I'm going to cope when everyone I know embarks on the road to marriage and kids. Everyone has that unmarried, child-free friend who tries to phone up when you're battling through a terrible-twos-tantrum, and gets a little bit more disappointed every time you decline their offer of a vino down the local. Will that be me?

It might seem selfish, but that genuinely worries me. Who wants to be the last one standing when the lights come on, and everyone else has moved on? From what I've read, I'm not the only one who feels this way - although the majority of others in this boat are single. I'm happy where I am in my relationship; my partner is happy, too. I just need a chance to - for lack of a less cliché phrase - find myself.

What next?

My plan is to travel. Travel until there is nowhere else to explore, until I'm experienced enough to know what I want out of life, until I'm ready to embark down that road (or not, as it might turn out). I want to make more friends, with likeminded people who also don't really know what they're doing, and have stories to tell. I want to take photos of amazing things, and learn about cultures that I never knew existed, and eat food that I've never tried before (oh, the food - possibly my largest motivation).

I've thought about travelling for a while now, and now that it's written down, I have to do it. And if anyone I know personally knows a thing or two about it, or wants to come with me - hit me up. It'd be great to have a companion on this next leg of my journey.

Where I've been, and where I want to go

Although the countryside has and always will be my home, I love visiting cities. I'm not really one to laze about on a beach, because I feel like there's so much I'm missing out on. The cities I've visited have always been vibrant, bustling and exciting - apart from Monte Carlo, which really does feel like a billionaire's playground.

Although I would definitely be open to exploring other areas, cities are where I'm best suited, as I feel it's so much easier to get around for a first-time visitor. I'm dying to go to Australia and visit Sydney and Cairns, so I think that'll be first on my list. And there are a few places I want to visit again, like Los Angeles (especially), Paris, Rome and Amsterdam, as these are some of my favourite cities.

Los Angeles
San Francisco
Monte Carlo
New York
Los Angeles (again)
Las Vegas


Friday 6 July 2018 / London, UK

You're doing beachy waves all wrong

Research by Philip Kingsley found that ‘beachy waves’ were the hottest summer look by far, voted for by almost half (48%) of British women. I can see why. This hairstyle has that effortless look about it - even though we know that, most of the time, it wasn't really that effortless to create. I mean, apart from Kate Moss, who really rolls out of bed with perfect hair? 

My hair has calmed down since my days of adolescent frizz, and now I love to wear it with a bit of a wave in it. I stress 'wave' here. Not a curl. Curl's are my winter thing - in summer, any form of heat stying is futile, with curls dropping like flies in the heat. When it comes to beachy waves, I prefer to plait my hair the night before, then seal in the look come morning with some product.

Although Liu Wen (one of my favourite models)
looks amazing with her new choppy bob, I always
thought she worked the beachy waves look so
well with her long hair
However, the products I use are probably the most important part of this style. Because my hair has been processed with chemicals (due to a good few years of bleaching), I have to avoid products which are dehydrating, such as salt sprays, to prevent further damage.

In my time as a beauty journalist, I developed a love of Philip Kingsley products. The packaging is unfussy, but not cheap looking, the formulas smell great, and I see genuine improvements in the look and feel of my hair after using their products. 

Last summer, I relied on their summer solutions to get me through holidays and lazy weekends in the sun. Their Instant Beach spray comprises a salt-free conditioning formula which conditions your hair whilst at the same time giving you soft and natural-looking texturised waves. It's a great alternative to super drying salt sprays for those who don't want to see a gruesome thinning out of their hair by the end of summer.

At £22, it's a little more pricey than your average drugstore beach wave spray, but it'll help you take far better care of your hair. And alongside skincare, I see haircare as an essential investment with endless great returns.

Talking haircare, it's not just styling products which are key to gorgeous beachy waves - it's partly about the preparation, too. One of my all time favourite hair products is Philip Kingsley's Elasticizer. It's their bestseller, for reasons that you can only truly discover if you try this amazing product - but, if you need convincing, read my review!

It's a pre-shampoo treatment, which really gets deep in the follicles and moisturises your hair. Originally created for Audrey Hepburn to help her hair recover from excessive styling between films and shoots, this product has been around for over 40 years - so you know it's good.

Last year, when I got my hair styled at the beautiful Josh Wood Atelier in Notting Hill, I met Anabel Kingsley. She's the daughter of the late Philip Kingsley, and a trichologist at the forefront of the brand. Not only is she a lovely person, but she gave me some really helpful tips about caring for my hair and alleviating the symptoms of my ongoing issue with dry scalp (if you want me to write a blog post about this issue, please leave me a comment!)

Of the Elasticizer, Anabel said, "Time in the sun can decrease the hair’s moisture content – and hair that is dry is less elastic and breaks far more easily than it should. The most effective way to improve elasticity and strength is to use a weekly pre-shampoo conditioning treatment. We make one called Elasticizer that we originally formulated for Audrey Hepburn. You apply it to damp hair at least 20 minutes before shampooing and then shampoo and condition as usual." 

Philip Kingsley has released 'Geranium & Neroli' and 'Coconut Breeze' versions of the original Elasticizer, and this year they're launching one more! This August, say hello to the Pomegranate & Cassis Elasticizer, with its stunning new packaging design and gorgeous-sounding scent. I can't wait to get my hands on this!

Now, personally, a pre-shampoo product like the Elasticizer really does wonders for your haircare routine. But a conditioner is by far the most important product for me. I've used dozens and dozens of different conditioners - honestly, this is no joke. I have been on a quest for years to find the right conditioners for me. So I like to think I know what I'm talking about when it comes to this area of haircare.

If you like to keep your routine all within one brand, then might I suggest Philip Kingsley's Moisture Balancing Conditioner? This is a great product for medium or fine hair, and especially hair that has been chemically processed. If you find that your hair is dull, dry, or tangles easily (argh, those awful tangles), then pop this on your mids and ends for a simple and effective fix.

Anabel says, "During summer, the hair’s protective outer cuticle can become raised and damaged. A raised cuticle does not reflect light well, so the hair can look rather dull. To help close the cuticle, use a post shampoo conditioner formulated for your hair texture every time you wash your hair."

My tip for you is to use this conditioner after washing your hair at your normal preferred temperature, then wash the product off after a couple of minutes with water as cool as you can stand it. This should close the cuticle, lock in moisture and make your hair look shinier. Try it and let me know what you think!

Will you be trying out the beachy waves look this summer?

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