25 April 2017

6 Things No One Tells You About Being Freelance

Things No One Tells You About Being Freelance, how to become freelance, lifestyle bloggers UK, hampshire bloggers

It has been 6 months since I've gone full time freelance - left my 9-5 office job, closed my eyes and fell off the edge of comfortable living and stable income to pursue my dreams. I gave myself 3 months to make it work, and if it didn't I'd go back to doing what I was doing and never moan about a missed opportunity to chase my dreams ever again. Considering I'm way over my 3 months 'freelance probation' period I'd say I'm pretty happy with the way things are going - I'm making it work.

There are many things I have learnt in the past 6 months - about being freelance, about running a business (or two in my case!), about people, about myself. So many of you have supported me on my journey (thank you, thank you, thank you a million times!) and I have received a few emails from some of you asking what it's like being freelance, how did I do it, and if I can help you achieve your own dreams. I love receiving these emails because it makes me happy that many of us are building our own brands, striving for a better quality of life when it comes to work/life balance, pursuing what we always wanted to do - generally being kick ass girl bosses!

Although I try and answer all my emails, I thought I'd share with all of you guys things that no one tells you about being a freelancer - and what to be prepared for if/when you take the plunge into creating your own business.

1. You'll have no idea what you're doing to start with. Unless you're a business genius, you'll feel lost and out of your comfort zone if like me you've come from a structured working background. I mean I was an account manager in a creative agency, so all the admin/budget/reporting side of things was my 'thing', and being creative is my passion so I now got to express this creativity in a way that also helped me pay the bills, not just as a hobby or a 'one off' project. But how do you find clients as a freelancer? How do you earn enough money to pay your rent/bills/Friday Dominoes?? How do you make a business strategy? HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH TAX AND ALL YOUR FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS??! Send help. Now.

2. You will have no money. If you're starting from rock bottom, you can forget making thousands in your first few months. The likely hood is that you will be eating beans on toast (forget the avocado on rye bread) and avoiding nights out like the plague for the first couple of months of working. You know that Dominoes pizza you love so much on a Friday night? Yeah, forget that unless someone else is buying. You'll switch from fancy wine from the top shelf of Tesco to a £3.50 bottle and just put it in a nice looking carafe you bought from IKEA when you could afford to spend £80 on candles. Spotify Premium? Sack that off. When it comes to Netflix, you can just go on a fast for one day a month to save £10 and keep that going because it will keep you sane.
You have to build up a portfolio of clients, and deal with all the points from the above paragraph in order to start making rent from your business, let alone a profit. Disposable income - sorry what's that now?

3. No one becomes an overnight success. I have heard so many stories from business coaches how you can make £30,000 in your first month as a freelancer if you listen to their tips, and you can live the dream in a fancy car and massive house within your first year of working for yourself. Yes, that does happen to 1% of freelancers, but if we're talking about your average person and not a cast member of Rich Kids of Instagram, you're looking at:
- working every day, and probably weekends if needs be
- working late nights and early mornings
- spending your own free time plugging your services at bars, clubs, coffee meet ups, even at grocery shops - just get the word out there!

4. You'll spend countless hours on social media looking at inspiring accounts, bumping up your own Instagram accounts (learn how to do that here), sussing potential clients or 'competition' - although I have to say I hate the word 'competitor' because we're not competing and the thought of other freelancers competing against each other makes me sad. There are so many projects to work on and you have to be the perfect fit for a company to create a truly beautiful projects so please let's not be greedy and instead help each other out?! The world is a much better place when we collaborate, not compete. Through social media you'll also build a community of freelancers just like you, you'll talk about projects and bounce ideas from each other, moan about late client payments and arrange get togethers.

5. You'll be the happiest you've ever been. I can promise you that - I thought money made the world go round, but honestly since I left my peachy pay package and rigid routine behind everyone has commented on how happy and relaxed I am. There's no better feeling that working for yourself, building your dream, creating beautiful work that you want to do and meeting so many amazing people along the way.

6. Things have a way of working out. I cannot tell you how many times I've sat and stressed about financials, new projects, pushing myself out of my comfort zone - but if you love what you do, if you're good at what you do, and if you're PROACTIVE things will work out. Good things come to those who hustle - you must remember that! And also keep a library of motivational quotes on your Pinterest for those days when you need to stick your chest out and march into the next day with a positive can-do attitude.

These are just a few things you can expect from being a freelancer or starting your own business, I hope you have found this useful! Take life with humour, don't stress about things too much and follow your gut - your gut never lies. Having a supportive community of friends and family really helps, and having a community of creatives who 'get it' is even more important because doing things on your own is hard - we're better and stronger together.

Are you thinking of going freelance and have a question you'd like to ask? Or perhaps you would like to share an experience of your own being a freelancer/business owner? Comment in the box below! And remember you can always drop me an email with any questions you may have.
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24 April 2017

Restaurant Review: L'Osteria Opening Night, Southampton

L'Osteria Southampton Review, L'Osteria Southampton, Hampshire bloggers, places to eat Southampton
L'Osteria Southampton Review, L'Osteria Southampton, Hampshire bloggers, places to eat Southampton
L'Osteria Southampton Review, L'Osteria Southampton, Hampshire bloggers, places to eat Southampton

Last week I was invited to join L'Osteria on their opening night of the new Southampton restaurant in the Watermark development of WestQuay. Watermark is an entertaining complex housing a cinema, bowling alley, and numerous new restaurants and food joints - a gem in the middle of Hampshire when it comes to choosing new places to eat. 
L'Osteria is an Italian restaurant serving appetisers, pasta, pizza, salads, and dessert - with a fully stocked bar for post meal cocktails. There are only two restaurants in the UK - one in Bristol and now one in Southampton (London eat your heart out! :P) - the restaurant came to us from mainland Europe with chains across Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.
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19 April 2017

Feed Your Skin

Skin Food by Weleda review, beauty blogs UK, lifestyle bloggers UK, Hampshire bloggers

Seasonal weather changes can affect our skin - as can our routines during these seasons. Diet, stress, hot showers, and direct sunlight can all affect our skin, and sometimes this causes uncomfortable dry patches - and I thought I'd share my little secret with you as I have something that will make dryness disappear and beautiful skin appear!

We all know that I'm a huge fan of Weleda - they started off in Germany all the way back in 1921 with the ethos of being a natural brand, and in 2017 they stand strong in their beliefs. The brand prides themselves on being natural and spiritual, connecting nature and people in harmony. Weleda products are 'more' than organic too - Weleda use raw materials in any way possible by gaining their ingredients from certified wild collection OR bio-dynamic cultivation (a very similar process to how organic materials are sourced). The brand also take pride in being responsible by thinking of the environment, and practicing sustainability, fair trade and protection of species and resources. Weleda promise no synthetic preservatives, fragrances, chemicals - there is nothing synthetic in their products AT ALL! No toxins, additives or raw materials from mineral oils either. Weleda are certified by NATRUE Standards which recognises the authenticity of natural and organic products by awarding natural, natural & organic and organic certification categories.

Skin Food by Weleda review, beauty blogs UK, lifestyle bloggers UK, Hampshire bloggers

So with all the information about the brand sounding too good to be true, Skin Food has proven to be a miracle product and something I have in my skincare collection all the time. This miracle moisturiser can be used ob dry and rough skin all over the body - face, elbows, hands, feet! It has extracts of calendula, chamomile, gentle viola tricolour in a rich base of oil and beeswax - smells delicious and earthy! You only need a little bit of product to spread over skin - and you will immediately feel a soothing and nourishing sensations.

I take Skin Food by Weleda everywhere with me - it's truly a desert island product! And the best thing about it is that even though it's a rich and thick cream, I can use it on my face without irritating my skin due to the calming effects of calendula and chamomile.

SHOP WELEDA:

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18 April 2017

6 Steps To Mastering Instagram


6 steps to mastering Instagram, how to improve my Instagram account, how to get more Instagram followers

Instagram is by far my most favourite social media platform: engaging images, 24hr stories, the space to write you own stories, and the community vibe around the platform. With the predictions for 2017 social focussing more and more on photo and video content, it's no wonder that Instagram has focussed the platform to not only be attractive to individuals but also to businesses and brands. When the platform first came out, a lot of companies didn't see much point of them being on Instagram - now I'm here to tell you that you absolutely must have a presence on Instagram!

As a freelancer, 50% of my work comes in from companies contacting me via Instagram DM and talking about projects. I use the platform to showcase some of my work, engage with my local community, find inspiration, and network - all things which are valuable to any business.
But Instagram isn't as easy as posting a photo and checking back in a week to see how it's done - it's amazing to see that when I spend an hour networking on Instagam I can walk away with 20-30 new followers, and potential work opportunities. But if I ignore my community and leave Instagram for a weekend, I wake up on a Monday morning to lost followers and no engagement. And you have to expect that if you don't put anything out on the platform - you won't get anything back.

So are you ready to experience Instagram and start working on an engaging and attractive profile? Then here are my top tips to share with you on how to master Instagram:

1. Write an interesting bio - use the space to tell people a little bit about yourself, what you do, how you can help them, and remember to include your website! Also, make sure your profile is set to public - otherwise users won't see your photos and are not very likely to follow, and the ones that do decide to give you a follow will have to be manually accepted.

2. Develop a theme and niche - especially as a business. There are so many themes you can decide to focus on - travel, cooking, fashion, beauty, tree surgery, coaching, inspirational, illustration, photography, DIY, blogger... The list is truly endless! But it will help your followers to understand what you are and what you do if it's clear on your profile that you're a photographer, or a restaurant owner. Try and stick to a visual theme too - whether it's light and bright, colourful, black and white; this will help your profile visually stand out and your photos to become recognisable.

3. Take good photos and use editing apps to make them even better! Sounds simple but we see so many photos on Instagram from accounts which have huge potential - but because they're photos are drab and uninspiring, we unfollow or click off their accounts. Instagram is a photo focused platform! I'm not saying you need to post a professional photo every time - smart phone cameras are excellent these days so get to know yours and use it well. Or if you do have a professional camera, mix things up and use the camera to take photos - I have a mixture of phone and camera photos on my account. When you've taken the photo, use editing apps to brighten, bring out colours, blur or sharpen part of the image - keep your eye out for a post on my favourite photo editing apps!

4. Use the hashtags. Please, use the hashtags on Instagram. If a tree falls in the middle of the forest and there was no one who heard or saw it, did it ever really fall? Well think of this when you're not hashtagging your photos on a new or developing account - not many people are going to see them. Instagram allows for up to 30 hashtags per post so utilise them - think of what you're posting about, your niche, your audience, location, and popular Instagram hashtags which will help get you noticed. You can also come up with your own hashtag for an event or cause and get your audience to participate!

5. Tag your location, and tag people/brands you are with - when someone searches that location tag, your photos will come up. This is so valuable for local businesses because now people are searching for area specific shops/restaurants/cafes!

6. Engage with your audience - find accounts you like and follow them, comment on their photos, like their photos and be social. When you're posting a caption on your own photo, ask your audience questions to encourage them to interact with you.

With these 6 steps you will start to see your Instagram account grow - but remember, overnight success is like fairy dust: very hard to find. Social media takes time, commitment and knowledge - but once you've got it you will reap the rewards. Keep at it, keep improving your content and growing your community - and you will hit the targets you set for yourself.

And if you're a business in Hampshire/Wiltshire, then you can always get in touch with me for social media training or management - for full list of services click here.

What are your top tips for mastering Instagram? Have you tried something that got you excellent results? Comment below! 
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13 April 2017

INSTA GIRL - Photo Ready Makeup by Primark

Primark makeup review, UK beauty blog, Hampshire bloggers, Insta Girl Primark makeup

I have been shopping in Primark for many years, usually picking up basics for my wardrobe and fashion pieces which I don't really want to invest in because they will be a passing fad. It's never sad when a piece of clothing from Primark breaks or fluffs up because it never was an investment - you almost expect the pieces to have an average age of a year.
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2 April 2017

Why You Need To Have A Break

Why You Need To Take a Break From Work, lifestyle bloggers, Hampshire blog, Hampshire blogger
Photo by Olivia Grace

We're all very good at ploughing through workloads and deadlines, staying up until late hours of the night to finish projects, reply to emails as soon as they land in our inbox, and intimately driving ourselves insane. But I want to talk about why it's important to take a break - even when you have deadlines and projects looming over you.

Last week I had a crazy busy week - it was the end of the month and I needed to finalise projects, invoice clients, plan the next month, book new projects, and market my businesses. I then looked at my diary and saw that this coming week is also fully booked up - fist bump moment! But I also felt like my creativity was suffering and I wasn't in the right headspace, and that doesn't help anyone in the creative industry or their clients. So I decided that I had two choices - I could either help my workload next week and work over the weekend, or I can take two days completely off, switch off, spend some time on myself and then smash it next week. I decided to go for the latter.

When you get tired and overworked, your brain genuinely stops performing at its best and you can't produce results which you (and ultimately your clients) will be happy with - which is why clever bosses know the importance of giving their staff time off. As I am my own boss, I need to keep an eye not inly on my businesses but also on myself - because I don't have a back up team who can help me if I'm not feeling great (and as a personal stylist, I also need to look good and healthy!).

So I switched off from Friday night and spend the weekend evenings enjoying a couple of glasses of rose wine (OK it was more than a couple but who's counting?!) and caught up with friends and family; I decided to treat myself and boost my mood with a session at Leah's Beauty & Makeup where I got eyelash extensions which I am absolutely in love with (more on them in an upcoming post!); and I cashed in my gift voucher for an at home aromatherapy massage with Desora Mobile Beauty for a truly relaxing end to the weekend. I also spent time outdoors, taking Harvey on long walks and runs; and making a start on my garden - which may as well be a forest with all the overgrown weeds right now!
So as you can see, I totally indulged in down time this weekend. I was even more absent from social media than I usually am - because I really needed a break.

By taking time doing what makes our souls happy, and temporarily switching off our brains, we can come back to work feeling refreshed, happy, confident, and full on new ideas. I genuinely feel happier after taking my weekend break, and I'm excited to get to the studio tomorrow early morning to put this happiness into my projects!

Here are my top tips for taking a break from work, and re-energising:

1. Enjoy your weekends. Try to take at least one day off a week during which you relax and spend your time doing things you love - not working!

2. Arrange to see your friends for dinner - you'll have so much to catch up on your brain will focus on taking in new information, not worrying about work projects.

3. Go for a walk or run in your favourite place outdoors - being in the fresh air will help you relax and focus on fresh, new ideas.

4. Listen to a podcast, watch TV or read a book - it helps to have a story to follow when you want to switch off. My guilty pleasure is binge watching TV dramas or documentaries! Or if you love a podcast my current favourites are: Lore (supernatural), Unexplained (supernatural), and Goal Digger Podcast (girl boss vibes!).

5. Pamper yourself - make yourself feel good with a facial, a massage, getting your nails done. Whatever it is, take some time to treat yourself and look great on Monday!

6. Cooking is my downtime. Genuinely love spending time in my kitchen after a busy day of work - creating new dishes, or following recipes I'm focussed on the food, not any dramas.

7. Exercise - makes you feel good by releasing endorphins and you'll be less stressed and more healthily tired. I love going for a run in the countryside, hiking, yoga, and HiiT training!

8. Practice mindfulness. I get ya, it's hard to focus sometimes but the more you practice the better you become and honestly mindfulness is a brilliant way to take a break from anything. Focus on the present - not the future or past - and just be still in the moment. It's amazing.

I'd love to hear your tips on how you relax and what you do to get the creative juices flowing again! Leave me a comment and let's get the conversation going!
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30 March 2017

How To Become A Personal Stylist

Melissa Murrell Personal Styling Academy, styling academy, how to become a personal stylist, personal styling courses

It's quite daunting when you think about starting a new career, especially in a field where you don't have formal education qualifications in - how do you gain knowledge, how do you set up your business, what training do you need, what about work experience...? But more and more women are setting up their own businesses in a field they are passionate in because they need flexibility around families, or want to be recognised for the effort they put in, or don't want to be constrained by a fixed salary when they know they can do better.

I was first introduced to personal stylist Melissa Murrell last year when we met for lunch to talk about her upcoming styling academy - you can read all about Melissa and our interview here. Well, a year down the line and the Melissa Murrell Personal Styling Academy has had several courses and I attended one of the first courses Melissa hosted.

Melissa Murrell Personal Styling Academy, styling academy, how to become a personal stylist, personal styling courses

The personal styling course is stretched over 3 days and the location changes due to course demand - I spent time learning about style near Marlborough, Wiltshire. The course will offer hands on training during which you will learn everything you need to know about styling real women. This is an important point, because this course isn't about learning how to work in fashion, but rather styling real women with different body shapes, sizes and budgets. It teaches you how to build your clients confidence, disguise any insecurities and provide a personalised styling experience which suits their lifestyle.

As well as learning about the different body shapes and how to best style them, I found the second half of the course which was based around admin and marketing the most useful. I am familiar with style, I know fashion - but what I didn't know is how to set up my styling business and start working. Knowing what to charge, which receipts to keep, and working out petrol charges was mundane but so useful! It's the little things like that which for me made the course stand out - and the fact that course numbers are limited so you get to spend time with Melissa one on one is great because you can ask questions and let her help you with suggestions tailored to you, not a room full of 30 people.

I then also experienced what styling was really like by coming to a styling session with Melissa and her real life clients. It was scary to style the first time, but clients were lovely (and honest about things they liked and didn't like!) and my confidence quickly built. Seeing clients and how a stylist works with them is experience which you need to have in order to feel confident about how you behave with clients.

Melissa Murrell Personal Styling Academy, styling academy, how to become a personal stylist, personal styling courses

Melissa built her business around family life, so she knows that getting the balance between work and life is hard but necessary. And running a styling business gives you exactly that - provided you have an eye for style, and an approachable personality! 

The next styling academy course is being held at the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet in Swindon from 22nd-23rd May - so if you're thinking of dipping your feet into the business of personal styling, this is the perfect opportunity to invest in personalised training. I completed the Styling Academy last summer, and it was a short time after that course I made the move to set up my personal styling business Dalry Rose Styling and soon after was able to leave my 9-5 office job to focus on my own business. 

Melissa Murrell Personal Styling Academy, styling academy, how to become a personal stylist, personal styling courses

Here are my top tips at how to start your own styling business: 

1. Invest in training. Even if you know about fashion and have an eye for style, I gained confidence by learning about body shapes, psychology of a client, admin, finance and most importantly work experience with a professional. I started my business with confidence because I knew I had learnt what I needed. 

2. Create your brand - make sure your brand speaks to you clients and represents you. You can find professionals in your area who help with brand design. You need to think about website, social, printed materials, invoices, admin sheets... 

3. Set up a website. We live in a digital age and presence on digital platforms are so important - how else are people going to find you? You need to build a website anew get onto social media - try Facebook for local reach, Instagram for exposure and outfit inspiration, and Pinterest to drive traffic to your site. 

4. Print flyers, and put those flyers in windows of shops, ask local hairdressers and beauty salons to display them and remember to hand them out to anyone who shows an interest in a personal styling session! 

5. Join local business networking groups - these are brilliant for promoting your services locally and making friends along the way. 

6. Hire an accountant. If you're anything like me, get a professional to run your books and help you with all the legalities of running your own business. 

7. Practice on friends and family - before you start booking clients, get your confidence up by practicing on friends and family, doing wardrobe restyles, personal shopping and whatever else you would like to offer. 

8. Set up an email list - this will keep your customers alert of any promotions you are doing, and keep them coming back for more! 
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29 March 2017

10 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need Social Media

Hampshire social media manager, freelance social media manager, 10 Reasons Why Small Businesses Need Social Media
Photo taken for Feminicity launch campaign

Gone are the days when social media was viewed as a platform for ‘kids’ to share pictures of cats in fancy dress and challenges to provoke a reaction out of each other: over they years, social media has proven results for businesses as a medium to connect with buyers, clients and spread the digital word of mouth. With over 3 billion internet users, 2 billion use social media on a daily basis - the jury rules that social media is no longer optional, but rather necessary for your business to succeed. Why? Here are the top reasons why you should invest time into building your platforms:

1. Help increase brand awareness. By having a presence on social media you give a voice to your brand and make it easy for customers to connect with you. Good content is key as you are representing your brand, and it will help you keep customers connected and interested - studies have shown over 50% of followers are loyal to their brands and will come back time after time 

2. Convert a higher rate of customers. Studies have shown that 75% of companies engaging in selling on social media platforms have increased sales reports over the period of a year. If your customer is undecided about a purchase, but has a consistent presence of the brand and the item they are considering over their daily social media platforms, they are more like to convert the lead into a purchase. 
 
3. Deliver excellent customer service. Most of your customers and clients will be on social media, so if you’re not there, it makes it harder for them to interact with you. Show of hands how many of you have taken it to Twitter to complain about slow broadband or a late delivery? You need to be present and answering to client queries - this will help you grow your customers loyalty and leave them with a positive experience, more likely to come back. 
 
4. Use analytics to research your customers. Social media platforms collect information from personal accounts - and this information will be very useful to a business owner looking to do some research within the demographics. Daily statistics on social media show that there are over 500 million tweets, 4.5 billion ‘Likes’ on Facebook and 95 million photos and videos uploaded to Instagram. If you increase engagement over your platforms and utilise social listening, your business will reap the benefits without annoying customers with email surveys every time you want to do an audit. 
 
5. Utilise targeted ads. There is no doubt you can grow your accounts organically, but when a post is performing really well it will help to give the post a little boost with paid for advertising. You can target your audience by location, demographics, interest, and connections. You can then track the success of the post by checking analytics on the post you have boosted. 
 
6. Increase SEO and traffic to your website. Using social media will help direct customers to your website bringing in more digital ‘footfall’; but the more interesting element of this strategy is that the more shares you receive on social, the higher your search ranking will rise. If your SEO is good, you will come higher in Google search results which means more people will find you! 

7. Push out content quicker and easier. When you have a new product launching, or a new article which has come out, all you have to do is share it on social channels to ensure your customers see it quickly, and can share the exciting news with their friends. 

8. Monitor your competitors. Use social media as a tool to help you keep up to speed with what your competitors are doing: there are tools to help you set up monitoring feeds for keywords, names, and phrases - use these tools to help you make the right business decisions, see where your competitors went wrong, and gain potential leads. 

9. Utilise the ability to tailor your audience. Set your settings to target your messages to people who will purchase from you based on their location, age, interests and gender. Most social networks will have a built in ability to do this, however there are also free and paid for tools which can help you drill down to the core of your audience to ensure your messages aren’t getting lost! 

10. Start conversations to build relationships. Social media is exactly what it says on the tin - social. It’s not a one way dialogue of you pushing messages to your listeners, but to taking the time to know more about them and answering their queries. The ability to have real time conversations with your customers is something traditional advertising cannot offer - which means building your accounts and social presence is invaluable.

There is a lot of work which goes into successful social media accounts and reaping the benefits of social for your business, but there are online tools and professionals available which can help you manage time better and ensure you are making the most out of social media marketing.
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28 March 2017

Pizza Is My Soulmate

Pizza Is My Soulmate t-shirt, fashion bloggers, Dalry Rose blog

If you know me, or have followed my blog, or have seen my Instagram then you will know that I love pizza. Love it. It makes my soul happy, just like a soulmate. I'm quite happy spending a Saturday night with a pizza and a Netflix documentary - give me anything with a psycho killer, or ghost hunts and I can happily spend hours unwinding.

So there was no surprise that when I saw Teesprings 'Pizza Is My Soulmate' I just had to have it in my wardrobe - there is nothing that explains my love for this food more!
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Home Comforts

SheIn loungewear set, fashion bloggers, UK fashion blogs, Dalry Rose blog

As a creature of comfort, I have several go-to outfits which I wear on a weekly basis. These generally consist of leggings, baggy t-shirts, baggy sweaters, and tracksuit bottoms. I am one of those awful people that also wears 'gym wear' when I'm at home - the amount of times I've opened my door to someone and they ask "off to the gym?" Nah, just chilling, watching Netflix, eating a pizza...

I work from home quite often, and although I get up and get dressed in the same routine as I would if I was going to an office, obviously I'm going to choose something comfy to sit in rather than stuffy dresses and trousers - who wouldn't?!
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27 March 2017

5 Minutes to Miracle Skin with Beauty Kitchen

Beauty Kitchen Seahorse Plankton 5 Minute Miracle Mask review, UK beauty blog

Skincare and beauty experts are constantly on the hunt for new ingredients to help our skin glow, look healthy, stay young, and keep clear. Natural ingredients are even better - when you think about eating, you don't really want to eat synthetic food so what's the difference between letting chemicals sink into your skin and enter your body? More beauty and skincare companies are turning to natural ingredients purely because us consumers are making the decision to be more conscious. And even more brands stopped testing on animals because it's just awful and should never be done, but also because consumers have chosen brands which are animal friendly. So don't ever think your purchase won't make a difference when it comes to supporting our furry friends!

Beauty Kitchen Seahorse Plankton 5 Minute Miracle Mask review, UK beauty blog

When I first heard about seahorse plankton, though a press release for the lovely product which I will eventually talk about, I was really intrigued because I have literally never heard of it before. Seahorse Plankton is actually Plankton micro algae which is common in the diet of seahorses - so don't worry, we're not actually deriving anything from the seahorses themselves. Seahorse plankton is packed with Omega fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants which increase collagen production by just under 20% in 24 hours! This makes your skin plumper, firmer, and more radiant with a healthy glow.

Beauty Kitchen is a natural skincare brand which doesn't test on animals - immediately a brand that goes to the top of my skincare list, and I'm sure you will appreciate this too. They did some research and found out all about the magical beauty ingredient, but they also did some research on the natural world around it. Did you know there are around 54 species of seahorse around the world and most of them are considered endangered? So Beauty Kitchen decided that they would help - and are now supporting The Seahorse Trust, and always make sure their ingredients are sustainably sourced.

So with all this magical information in mind, Beauty Kitchen decided to take this beauty miracle ingredient and create a range of products - one of which is a Seahorse Plankton 5 Minute Miracle Mask. This mask is 100% natural and detoxes, stimulates, and plumps your face, neck and décolletage. You're supposed to be left with a healthy, firm skin that has a fresh glow. But does this miracle mask really work?

Beauty Kitchen Seahorse Plankton 5 Minute Miracle Mask review, UK beauty blog

I trialled the Seahorse Plankton 5 Minute Miracle Mask to gather results for you: you apply a thin layer of the mask to your face, neck and décolletage and relax for 5 to 15 minutes. So I guess this product should really be titles the 5-15 Minutes Miracle Mask! I find the results are best if you keep it on for the 15 minutes, it allows the product to really sink into your skin. It smells really nice too, and I love to keep it on my skin whilst I'm relaxing in the bath - a truly pampering experience. You then remove the mask with a cloth or konjac sponge (I used a cloth) and warm water - then finish with your moisturiser or facial oil.

I actually loved how this mask made my skin feel - so soft and super smooth. Even when I applied moisturiser the next day in the morning, it felt really nice and smooth. I use this mask once or twice a week to keep skin glowing and firm and I would happily recommend the product to all of you.

Have you heard of Seahorse Plankton before? Would you give this product a go?
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24 March 2017

Why Bloggers Need To Charge


lifestyle blog, Hampshire bloggers, why bloggers need to charge for posts, Dalry Rose blog, should I charge brands for blog posts

I have been blogging for 5 years now, and my first brand collaboration came about weeks after I set up and starting getting myself 'out there'. I was so excited to work with brands, that someone noticed me and my blog, and liked the work I was producing. I didn't charge the brand and tended to all their requests without question. Hell, I even published posts on my blog written by others and received my 'thank you' in 'exposure'. And after that, a snowball effect of brand collaborations followed which helped me grow my blog, make connections, and create engaging and captivating content.

I stand by my decision not to charge brands as a beginner blogger - I was expanding my skill set, starting out a new venture, and learning on the job. And like with most things there isn't an instant gratification where you step into a new career and everyone immediately recognises you as an expert, and your diary fills with appointments/meetings/projects. You learn and you grow. Blogging is no different from that, but what is different is that there are too many bloggers who don't want this as a profession and too many brands who take advantage of that. Harsh, but true. 

Let's look at the stats: 92% of people trust peer recommendations vs advertising. That is a staggering percentage of people. And only 36% trust ads on social media platforms. To me as an ex agency marketing professional it is no question that bloggers take the lead as key influencers in a decision whether to purchase a product or not - with their honest reviews (yes sometimes these backfire but just make sure your product is good enough to be reviewed publicly), real life imagery, and a reputable recommendation why wouldn't a brand want to place products with bloggers? The thing is - brands do want bloggers. 

A blogger offers the whole package - written digital content, original photography, product review, social media advertising, advertising on their website, and recommendation. Let's not kid around - at the end of the day, it's advertising the product/service/event/restaurant/hotel... the list really does go on with the amount of collaboration opportunities and the types of advertising. The advertising industry is worth £18bn in revenue to the UK media and entertainment industry, making it the second largest sector behind TV. And I have to wonder: with this kind of money sitting in the pockets of big brands, why are bloggers still getting paid in 'exposure'? 

I've lost count of the amount of times I have been approached by brands who want to 'work' with Dalry Rose and when I ask them what their budget is for the campaign the answer is typically 'we don't have one'. Ok, let's work this out: as a blogger, I would want to review the product that I am endorsing to set an accurate expectation for my readers who may want to purchase is; I then use professional equipment and often times when working on a fashion post I will use a photographer; editing photos/videos to suit the blog post and then also social media platforms; the research that goes into the product/brand/venue; the content which takes time and thought to be written; the social media promotion.... Typically all of these things take me anywhere from 4-6hrs. If there is a location photo shoot involved, then longer. That's a days work and the amount of time I usually would spend in an office or now being full time freelance is the time I spend on my client accounts. And not to sound ungrateful and all, but exposure isn't going to cut it when my landlord comes knocking for my rent. And unfortunately neither is a gorgeous new lipstick, as much as I love it. 

What bloggers give to brands is what agencies are paid to do - and paid well, trust me I know. I also know how difficult it can be to convince a brand to put a budget behind blogger outreach - remember guys, I've worked on both sides of this debate. It's fascinating how many brands still don't see the value of blogger collaborations and social media - which is basically the digital 'word of mouth' that is the most effective way of swaying customers into buying your products.
But what makes bloggers different from cold marketing machines is that bloggers tend to build communities around their social sites, especially microbloggers/microinfluencers - but more on that topic another day. These communities are people who really trust in what that blogger is doing and show genuine interest in their reviews. 

Now don't get me wrong, we're not all going to rise up and ask for ££££'s immediately when working with brands, but when you feel confident that the work you're producing is worth something - and I know mine is because of the types of brands I get approached by and also the fact that I am doing work like this as a freelancer for local brands and businesses - that's the time to stop and asses the value of your time. 

This post came about because recently I have been in several situations with brands which I am 'working' with when the demands got uncontrollable, and I've been stressed because I have a huge list of paid work which obviously takes priority over the projects which are unpaid. I have mouths to feed and a roof over my head which needs to be paid for, just like everyone else. But I feel awful about pushing back projects which are unpaid because I don't like to let anyone down - which is why I have started to say to brands that I do charge for placement on my blog. And guess what? Suddenly, the projects got 'dropped' or they 'ran out of stock' or they just didn't have any budget left. And that's OK by me.

Of course I will still carry on accepting samples, reviewing restaurants and styling outfits with brands because I love discovering new companies and items to share with you guys, but because my blog has become my business and source of income I need to make it super clear to everyone that priority is being given to those that pay for my services - which I think is a fair deal. If a brand wants the post to go live by a certain date, have a certain style/amount of photos, include X amount of posts on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Pinterest, review the post and photos before they go live, request changes to the content - your wish is my command, as long as my hours are covered. 

And just to note I am super thankful for all opportunities which come my way and all the brands that approach me and want to work with me - I have made some great contacts! Like I said at the beginning of this post, I stand by my decision not to charge as a beginner blogger and I think doing things for free sometimes get's you where you want to be (think internship anyone?!) but equally there comes a time when you have to think about your skill set and your career.

I'd love to hear from you on this topic - what are your thoughts about brand and blogger collaborations? What are your thoughts on professional blogging? 
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Can You Really Lose Weight Just By Dieting?

LighterLife Fast 5:2 diet review, food blogs, UK lifestyle bloggers

I'll start this article by admitting something to you: you know those annoying people who talk about how they'd love to loose weight  but do nothing about it? And usually they moan about loosing weight whilst eating something like a slice of pizza/doughnut/portion of greasy McDonald's chips? Yeah that's me. Now you know. And with that knowledge in mind, I want to talk to you about how a person like that, one that refuses to go on a controlled diet because they have no self control when there is a pile of carbs in front of their face, can actually loose weight with a dirty diet.
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14 March 2017

Restaurant Review: Afternoon Tea at The Aviator by TAG

The Aviator Guilty Pleasure Afternoon Tea, Hampshire food blog, food bloggers

I'm not really into the whole 50 Shades of Grey book/movie trend, but what I have been enjoying is how creative companies have been getting with the sensual theme inspired by the book - but what intrigued and excited me the most was an invitation to review an afternoon tea inspired by 50 Shades of Grey. I was approached by The Aviator by TAG, a luxury hotel and brasserie based in Farnborough, Hampshire who invited me to try their new Guilty Pleasure Afternoon Tea inspired by the saucy book - an experience guaranteed to shock, stimulate and seduce the taste buds. Now that's an offer I simply couldn't refuse.
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13 March 2017

Celebrating Holi Festival with Kingfisher

Kingfisher beer, Holi festival recipes, food bloggers, food blog

Indian food makes my soul happy - it's so flavoursome, colourful, packs a punch and feeds a whole family on a budget! What's not to love?! So when I was asked to create an Indian feast in celebration of the Holi festival with Kingfisher beer, I jumped at the opportunity to cook up something exciting and new.

Cooking is a down time for me - I relax and my mind wonders away from the stresses of work/personal life, whatever is bothering me that day. I enjoy spending time in my kitchen and cooking up feasts for my friends and family. So I wanted to share some new recipes with you to hopefully encourage you to try and cook this at home - and when more suitable that during the Holi festival?

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9 March 2017

Restaurant Review: Rick Stein, Winchester, Hampshire

Rick Stein Winchester review, Rick Stein restaurant, food bloggers, Hampshire food blogger

I was very excited to be invited to dine at Rick Stein in Winchester, a restaurant which has caught my eye some time ago but I’ve just not had the excuse to go. For years, I have been watching Rick Stein on Saturday Kitchen Live and following his delicious seafood recipes - as someone who loves seafood, I knew when it came to fresh ingredients and tasteful combinations Rick Stein would be the one.
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8 March 2017

How To Wear Boyfriend Jeans

How to wear boyfriend style jeans, fashion bloggers, street style

I used to shy away from anything that wasn't my comfort skinny jean style, before I started to play around with denim styles in the name of personal styling. It's easy to decide on one style which you feel comfortable in, and dismiss anything that looks a little more daring/baggy/colourful. But I realised that when I push my clients at Dalry Rose Styling out of their comfort zones, I actually get them to see themselves in a new light! That means I've done my job as a stylist.
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4 March 2017

Pink Frills

How to wear frills, UK fashion blog, style blog

I'm really excited to share this outfit post with you because I love the dress - it's got frills, it's very feminine, and makes me feel great when I wear it. Yes, it's clingy - but I've learnt that I have lumps and bumps, they make me who I am and this is the way my body has developed. So I'm over crying about how my stomach doesn't resemble an ironing board, and how my thighs could definitely loose an inch or two off them. I'm embracing the curves that make me - me.
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3 March 2017

Ready For The Weekend

Weekend outfit inspiration, UK fashion bloggers, Hampshire bloggers, style bloggers

Cheers to the weekend! Well hasn't this week been super busy guys?! I don't know about you, but I'm beat - and I'm looking forward to seeing my family, enjoying a couple of glasses of wine, and having a pamper night this weekend. I think from a work perspective I've been hit (in the best way possible!) with all sorts of things: photoshoots, events, new client meetings, proposals, invoices, editing, writing, schooling, planning.... And all this whilst staying away from home! Oh yes, this is also very exciting for me as I get to move back to my home this weekend and finally sleep in my own bed!

What are you looking forward to this weekend?
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2 March 2017

The New Sport Luxe

How to style fishnet tights, UK fashion blog, style bloggers

Sport luxe is a trend that's been hanging around for years - when it first appeared on the pages of Vogue I must admit I really wasn't a fan. At all. I couldn't see how sportswear could ever look great - until a couple of years ago when I gave the trend a go, and slowly but steadily my love for sport luxe has been building.
I mean, not only is it trendy, but it's also super comfortable and practical!
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1 March 2017

Restaurant Review: The Diner, Southampton, Hampshire

The Diner Southampton review, UK food bloggers, Hampshire bloggers

Last week I was invited to join a selection of Hampshire based bloggers for an evening of authentic American dining at the newly opened Diner in Southampton's new Watermark developed located next to WestQuay. The Diner comes to Southampton from London where there are 9 locations to enjoy a delicious burger or a bucket of buffalo chicken wings - and now we can get involved without heading to the capital!
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28 February 2017

Style Watch: Denim And Leather

UK fashion blog, fashion bloggers, how to wear boyfriend jeans

Denim and leather: mixed these materials are typically associated with youngsters and rock stars. And then if you throw rips into the mix? Surely that's not an outfit you'd be comfortable wearing as a respectable business woman? You're wrong. 
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27 February 2017

Keep It Healthy At Lunch With Mr Lee's Noodles

Mr Lees Noodles review, Dragon Fire Mushroom, healthy lunch ideas, UK food blogs

It's hard to keep away from quick lunches (and dinners) when you have a busy schedule. We all have the greatest motivation to grab a salad for lunch, or even better MAKE a packed lunch which will be healthy and money saving. But the reality is, it's much easier to grab a sandwich or a pot of noodles to eat on the go - and with the convenience, comes a whole bunch of nasties.
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17 February 2017

Why I Love Working In The Countryside

Hampshire social media, hampshire blogger, lifestyle blog

I work in an industry that thrives within cities - digital media never sleeps, always looking for the next big thing in marketing, needing a stack of Instagram worthy photos from the hippest bars/shops/art displays. The best fashion and street style is displayed on the streets of London, there's no doubt.
I have tried living in a city for years, but it just wasn't for me. I ended up feeling really anxious, overworked, partied out and believe it or not even though I was constantly around people I felt really lonely. So I left all that behind and moved back to a quiet town, with a house just on the edge of the countryside, friendly neighbours and childhood friends just 5 minutes down the road from me. But is the decision to carry on with a career in a) digital marketing, b) fashion realistic when you're happier spending time in fields walking dogs and socialising with farm animals?
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16 February 2017

Ways To Tackle Tired Eyes

How to help tired eyes, soothe tired eyes, uk lifestyle blog

Can I have a show of hands - how many people suffer from sore, tired eyes as a result of our current working life? You know that feeling like you've got an eyelash stuck in your eye? And it hurts to blink? And by the end of the day you just can't cope anymore?
Because we work with technology, and socialise with technology, and generally live our lives in front of the computer screens our eyes get pretty knackered during the day. Not to mention long hours, not enough sleep, early mornings and late nights, makeup (some days the thought of removing my makeup with swiping action is just too much). Tired eyes are a problem - and I've been thinking of ways to overcome it, and keep eyes bright throughout the day.
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15 February 2017

Smart Casual - How To Style The Cape

How to style a cape coat, UK fashion blog, fashion bloggers UK

The cape - an essential styling item for any Fashion Week around the world. Worn during the SS Fashion Weeks as those are displayed during the Winter, getting us ready for seasons ahead. Effortlessly draped over the shoulders of the likes of Anna Wintour, Kate Moss, Olivia Palermo - the list goes on. But how can we translate the picture perfect cape outfits we see on Pinterest into every day wear suitable for your average woman?
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7 February 2017

Girl Boss Reads - Inspiring Books

Motivational books for girl bosses, lifestyle blog, Dalry Rose blog

One thing I have found when working from home a lot, is a sporadic lack of motivation and inspiration. Being surrounded by your own company 9-5 can sometimes be a little daunting when it comes to bouncing ideas off colleagues that usually sit next to you in an office environment. 
I have found several ways to keep creative and inspired whilst building my business from home: podcasts, books, networking, and social media. But today I want to focus on books. 

Motivational books for girl bosses, lifestyle blog, Dalry Rose blog

In particular, 5 books which have been on my home office desk since I started my own business in November 2016 - and the books I reach for when I need a break from staring at the computer screen. Reading stories by women who have been successful in their ventures is one of my favourite things to do - whether it's articles on the internet, or paperback books. I can't cope with books on a Kindle or an e-reader - paperback will never go out of style.

A lot of us entrepreneurs and new business owners have no idea what we're doing when it comes to building a business - we're fab at the 'labour' that we do, or the product that we sell - but what about the business journey? The struggles? What is to be expected when you're building an empire? Reading about the experience of other women, from a variety of backgrounds and industries gives me hope and inspiration. The first book I bought for my 'inspirational women' collection was Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. I actually bought it whilst I was waiting for my interview for my first creative agency - and got hooked. Sheryls journey of smashing through the glass ceiling which many women encounter at the workplace made me proud to be a career-driven female. All at once it is empowering, surprising, and inspiring. Definitely one for the marketeer ladies who are going up against corporates, and who's favourite position is CEO.

My fiancé then bought me the #GirlBoss book - which believe it or not I couldn't even afford at the time. I have spent all my money that month on trying to set up my own vintage and handmade clothing brand. I had big plans for it, and wanted to know all about the journey of Sophia Amoruso, the CEO of Nasty Gal, who started her boss girl journey by selling vintage clothes on eBay - and raking in the cash. Her journey from zero to hero is both inspiring, funny, and you end up rooting for her because at the beginning you can really relate to the girl who sits bored at her desk, in front of a screen, and spends her days on the internet. It's safe to say my clothing brand didn't take off, I realised I wasn't quite ready financially or time wise to meddle in the industry of clothing retail. But, I learnt a lot from the #GirlBoss book.

Motivational books for girl bosses, lifestyle blog, Dalry Rose blog

Mt next inspiring book yet again came from my fiancé - who's been really supportive of my journey, and not once gave me a reason to doubt myself. Even when I graced him with the news that I wanted to leave my stable, well paid job. Find Your Extraordinary was written by Jessica Herrin, the CEO of Stella and Dot, and talks about the journey of building a career you love and are truly passionate about, as well as keeping a good work to life balance. I haven't read much of the book yet as I was finishing another, but I'm really looking forward to reading about the work/life dilemma as I think many of us start our own businesses because we want a better balance. Whether it's because you want to spend more time with your family, travel whilst you work, or had previous troubles with working an office 9-5 due to health problems, in an ideal world we all want a more flexible schedule.

One book that I actually pre-ordered was The Million Dollar Blog by Natasha Courtenay-Smith - I was so excited for this read. This book features interviews by some of the worlds leading bloggers, and shows your the behind the scenes of the blogging world. And it takes the reader on their own journey - from interviews by bloggers who make $$$$$$$$$ to talking about strategies on how to further your small business through blogging, this book is relatable. It's no all about the multi-billion Instagram industry, but down to earth hacks on how to make your blog work for you. For me this is a great read, because it was my blog which helped me set up my own business through incredible opportunities and the people I met on my journey. So I have everything to owe to my little space on the internet.

Finally, Bloom by Estee Lalonde. Because as a blogger, you just have to. I watched Estee when I first started blogging and I loved how down to earth she was. Plus, she always picked the best skincare items! It's been fantastic to see her brand grow up and turn into a successful business - and I really wanted to read her story. This is another book which I haven't read through to the end, but so far it's been a lovely book to read with a cup of tea in hand and ideas of a future you want to build in your head.

These are the 5 books which are essential for me right now to keep my mind inspired, creative and forward thinking. Have you read any of these books? Can you recommend a book that gets you inspired? Comment below!
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6 February 2017

Valentines Day Blooms - Cliche, or a Grand Gesture?

Moonpig Valentines Day Flowers, Valentines Day bouquet, Dalry Rose Blog

With Valentines Day just around the corner, everyone is thinking of grand romantic gestures to present to their other half. From looking at ridiculously expensive restaurants, to rose gold watches, rings from Tiffany's, and chocolates costing the same as a Sierra Leone diamond - what does a grand gesture mean to you?
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25 January 2017

Beauty Boxes are Less Fuss and More Fun

Best beauty boxes UK, Glossybox review, what are beauty boxes, UK beauty blog, Dalry Rose blog

I have been subscribed to a beauty box since 2012 and never questioned it's purpose in my life until recently I started wondering: what does my Glossybox actually bring to my life? I signed up to the monthly beauty box after seeing all of my favourite bloggers talk about the box in their videos and posts - I felt like I had to have it so I would't feel left out. At the time, my blog was practically 90% focussed on beauty review so it seemed like the perfect service for me.
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23 January 2017

How to Get Rid of Dark Circles Under Your Eyes - Fast!

No Dark Shadows concealer review, how to hide dark shadows under eyes, beauty blog UK

We've all had those nights that never seem to end: whether it's working to a deadline on a project and staying late in the office; or going out for 'one' cocktail on Thursday, that turns into The Hangover; or travelling late into the night to be ready for an event in the morning. These late nights cause dark circles under your eyes, but let's be honest even if we got enough ZZZ's through the night there are many more factors which contribute to dark circles under the eyes - for example too much time in front of a computer or your phone, stress, jet lag.
So how can we get rid of dark circles under the eyes - quickly?
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22 January 2017

Why Sheet Masks Are Perfect For Boss Girls (and everyone else!)

Maskorea Instant Glow Mask Review, Maskorea sheet mask review, beauty bloggers UK, UK beauty blog

Sheet face masks have hit the beauty scene pretty hard in the last year - instead of looking like green aliens wondering around the house waiting for our clay masks to harden, we now look like ghosts or murderers chilling in an actual white cloth mask on our faces. But what are the benefits of sheet masks and are they any better than the methods we've been using for years?
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17 January 2017

Restaurant Review: Red Dog Saloon, Southampton

Red Dog Saloon Southampton Review, chicken wings, food blogger Hampshire, UK food blogs, Dalry Rose Blog

I've always dreamt of going on an American road trip with one specific reason - to try out their delicious authentic BBQ joints. I'm a sucker for Buffalo wings, a juicy burger and I love a good rib - all of which make up most of the menu at Southampton's new BBQ restaurant - the Red Dog Saloon
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4 January 2017

Burt's Bees Intense Hydration Facial Water Review

Burt's Bees Intense Hydration Nourishing Facial Water Review, beauty bloggers, Hampshire bloggers, UK beauty blog, Dalry Rose Blog

There are a few steps in my skincare routine - I wish I was one of those people who can get away with washing their face with water and soap and look gorgeous, but unfortunately because my skin is so sensitive and anything gives it an outbreak of spots, I have a regime which needs to be kept up every day. This includes removing makeup with wipes or cleansing milk, moving on to a light scrub or facial cleanser, followed by a toner, and then moisturiser/oils/serums. This helps me keep my skin clear and blemish-free - although sometimes I slip up and forget to remove makeup, which causes me days and days of spots.

Burt's Bees have introduced me to a new element in my routine which can replace the toner - the Intense Hydration Facial Water.
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