It’s been a good few months since I’ve posted a favourites! Four months in fact. Time really does fly when you are in a global pandemic… My last favourites post was for July 2020 – I had just turned twenty-four, had gotten engaged, and was trusting in the media that we would be out of this pandemic by autumn. Well, that hasn’t all gone to plan but I have since booked a wedding venue and am now consumed by the all powerful feeling of ‘oh lord, will I be a pandemic bride in 2022?’ But let’s not dwell on that.
I’ve been finding the current lockdown we are in (Lockdown 2: Electric Boogaloo) to be much tougher than the first; mentally, physically, and in every way really. So, it’s been quite refreshing to look back and notice the little pockets of joy that exist. So with that, let me tell you about my favourites for November 2020!
Beauty & Skincare
This month, I have been really pushing the self-care regime. In the grand scheme of things, it’s kind of like trying to fix a burst dam with a plaster, but it HELPS in the here and now, OKAY? Okay (and breathe). I’ve been a big fan of the three step skincare routine for years, and recently branched out into adding an essence and varying moisturisers. But I fell down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos about Korean skincare routines, and before I knew it, I had popped some new items in my ASOS bag, and they are now a staple of my own skincare routine.
The first change I made was to introduce double cleansing. At first I thought this was just a new way to grab consumers money, but after trying it out, I can genuinely feel the difference. The trick to double cleansing, unsurprisingly, is in the name. You start with an oil based cleanser, to get rid of any make-up, SPF, or daily gunk you’ll have on your face. Then you use a water based cleanser to remove impurities and anything that is left. I start out using my ultimate holy-grail item; The Body Shop’s Chamomile Cleansing Butter (oh how I love you, The Body Shop). Then, in comes the new boy; Cerave’s water-based Hydrating Cleanser. It doesn’t foam, it doesn’t smell of anything, it’s as basic as me pulling out my autumn coat to get the first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season. But it’s wonderful. Adding this product into my routine has perked my skin up, reduced breakouts, and simply makes me and my skin happy.
The second change was to dive into the scary world of The Ordinary products. You are not going to be getting any guidance here, no ‘gently foaming toner’ or ‘for sensitive skin’ written on the packets. This company screams ‘SCIENCE!!’ from the top of its lungs, and counts ‘Hemi-Squalene’ and ‘Niacinaminde 10% + Zinc 1%’ as some of its most popular products. The products look more like science vials than skincare, and I was terrified. But, a lot of research later, I landed on two products. Firstly, I bought The Ordinary’s Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG; sounds like coffee with some added poison, but it’s actually an excellent serum for targeting puffiness and brightening the eyes. The other product is called The Ordinary’s Marine Hyaluronic – I’m still too scared to jump into using an acid on my face so settled for the gentler hyaluronic product to help keep my skin hydrated.
All three of these products were incredibly well-priced for what they do, and I still haven’t run out, despite using them for nearly three months. They’ve really levelled up my skincare routine, and that has become such a positive in my day. Big up to taking care of your skin!
Books & Audiobooks
Sigh. It’s been another slow month on the reading front. My brain is so full of real life stress and work stress and, of course, the stress of living through a pandemic, that I find it so hard to sit down and open a book. I know that when I get reading, I’ll enjoy it and be thankful for the rest, but it’s like exercise; the starting is the hardest bit. The one book I have managed to open has been Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, which is one of those novels that I think of as a hug in book form; not really for its contents per se, but for the memories I associate with reading it. I first read it on a holiday to my partner’s home of Dubai in the UAE, sat by the pool, with a cold drink in my hand. So reading it always conjures up that memory, the scent of sunscreen, and the warmth of the thirty-five degree sun. It also helps that it’s a darn good book.
Whilst my book favourite conjures up memories of relaxing in the sun, my style favourite is all about wrapping up for winter. For a good few years now, I’ve had the same winter coat; a simple revere collar coat in teal, that just about covered my butt, and looked darn cute. However, it suffered a fatal error; it was a fashion coat. It only had one flimsy popper to hold it closed, and in all honesty, it wasn’t designed to be closed. So I always had to layer up and still stayed bloody freezing (in hindsight, not very good for an asthmatic). But then I saw this post from the style goddess that is Helen Anderson, and how blimmin’ fantastic she looked in an ankle swooping coat. It was then I decided, it’s time to level up; goodbye chilly winters, hello looking like a fashionable detective.
I bought this calf length coat coat from New Look (where it was on sale), and it fits like an absolute dream. The double buttons and the belt keep you wrapped up and cinches in the waist, so I don’t feel completely swamped in all that material. Plus, even though the coat has a lovely check running through it, the colour is a perfect neutral so can go with anything I choose to wear (but I’ll be honest, I mainly wear blue, black, or white – once an emo, always an emo).
Realistically, between talking about COVID, lockdown, and how stressed I am, I’ve only been talking about two other topics this month; Strictly Come Dancing, or The Crown.
Strictly has always been a staple in my life, and it’s the only ‘reality’ or ‘competition’ show I care for. There’s something so wholesome about watching complete beginners in dance turn into truly wonderful dancers, especially when they are learning under the world’s best. It’s pure no stress, no worry television, and that’s really what we need right now. Oh, and for you fellow Strictly watchers, I’m gunning for Bill and Oti, and Clara and Alijaz!
And with The Crown, I’ve watched all the seasons as soon as they are out, so made a start on the fourth season this month. But I stopped after three episodes because my fiance said twelve wonderful words to me – “Do you want to watch The Crown from the beginning with me?” So, on our few days we had booked off work, we spent it curled up under the duvet, inhaling snacks, and watching The Crown. We are half-way through the second season and I am happy to say he is loving it.
And now we come to my wildcard favourite; working from home. I’m in a bit of a weird position because the government has ordered my sector, Higher Education, to stay open. As such, I work in the office twice a week, and from home three days a week. As an asthmatic with an anxiety disorder that is triggered by risks to my conditions, I am on edge pretty much the whole time I am in the office. So I am finding I work better at home! I’m actually taking time for lunch, using my breaks for rest, and find myself making time for exercise. Plus, I do enjoy the fact I can take off my bra whenever I get tired of it, (that’s a pretty big plus). I am aware that the ability to work from home, at least some of the week, is a very privileged one and I really do not take it for granted.
So, those are my monthly favourites for the chilly, grey, lockdown heavy month of November. I’ve really enjoyed looking back and finding those happy little moments; it turns out it hasn’t all been bad! Let me know what you’ve been loving this month in the comments, and I hope you and yours are staying well in these tricky times.