Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Photography / Instagram

I've been missing in action for some time. That seems to be a running theme here, I apologise!
Life is hectic at the moment and doesn't seem to be settling anytime soon. 
I have a few posts in draft form and its a matter of finishing photographing and 
writing up posts. I don't know how you bloggers with full time jobs, families AND
social lives manage to keep up with regularly posting, you guys are goals!

However I did recently join instagram and I'm enjoying sharing more of my photography 
efforts. It's so much more easier to reach out and have an instant connection via instagram, 
please feel free to follow for updates and content over there!

 I haven't found a style yet and that makes me kind of nervous. Just a little bit.
You have people with pink themes, certain photography styles, stylish OOTD shoots etc. 
Maybe I shouldn't care so much and just carry on being my simple old self?

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Beauty / My Skincare Essentials

There is some hesitancy in writing up a beauty/skincare post as I'm
not a beauty expert and I'm certainly not certified to talk about skincare on
a qualified level. But I do have skin, which has problems and these are
problems I know very well. So really I'm sharing what has helped me 
combat these problems and achieve skin which I am (finally) comfortable with.
Just a prior warning, this is a very long post. Skincare and I are old friends, 
so of course this was going to be a long post.

I've dealt with problem skin since I was 12 years old and it's been nothing short 
of an obsession trying to find something that would just work on my skin.
My routine consists of effective products which work well together. Maybe
you'll relate to my skin issues and try something out. My friends, sisters
and I are always discussing skincare and new finds. It helps to know
someone who might have come across something which could be perfect for you.
Please bare in mind though, that what works for me, may not work for you. 

I have dry, blemish prone skin. When the weather is warm I tend to have an 
oily t-zone and in the winter months my face can get extremely dry. 
From a very young age I've been prone to spots which would leave a lot of scarring.
I don't break out as often anymore, but have noticed the moment I start neglecting 
my skincare routine I do break out gradually. My skin can also get very congested,
small bumps usually form on the sides of my face, jawline and down to my neck.
Good skin for me is for it to be smooth, hydrated, healthy looking and slightly blemished. 
I've come to accept that blemishes and dark circles will never leave me and it's okay. 
It goes without saying lack of sleep, water intake and your diet can be massive factors in the overall 
appearance of skin. I'm no stranger to this, I don't sleep well, I love greasy food and water isn't
my best mate. 

Perhaps the most miraculous product for me in this entire list is my cleanser. 
It has a long name, brace yourselves; Salicylic Acid Anti-Blemish
Bengali name going by the amount of words. That is literally the only fault I 
have found with this product. This wonder product does everything it says on the tin.

The salicylic acid works to get rid of blemishes and the Vitamin B3/Niacin deep cleans to 
decrease congestion, which can build up from make-up residue and daily impurities.
The formula is gel-like which feels refreshing and cool when it comes into contact with the skin.
The elderflower extract is a pleasant fragrance, which goes away after a few minutes.
I've found this cleanser to be so gentle, that using it even twice a day wouldn't be 
a problem. I use it once either in the morning or night with my Clarisonic Mia 2, with
a deep cleansing brush head. This is definitely worth trying if you are striving for 
clearer and smooth skin. It's been a total game changer, personally.

Every few days it's possible my skin will start looking dull or feeling rough to touch, 
which usually means it's in need of exfoliating/deep cleanse. My go to facial scrub for 
years now has been the cult favourite St. Ives Apricot Scrub which is specifically made to
battle blemishes and pores (hello salicylic acid once again). The formula has a grittiness
which lifts away dead skin cells and impurities, leaving the skin feeling soft and clean. 
Also I love the smell, its subtle. Anything over-powering or lingering would be a no from me.
Again, I usually use this with my Clarisonic at night time following up by toning and moisturising.
Using the Clarisonic is a must for me, as I can't really achieve thoroughly cleansed skin
without it. It's gentle, but the bristles work effectively to remove dirt and make-up. 

(Thanks to my sister Bips for the Clarisonic! You cant have it back if you change your mind btw.)

So the next step after cleansing in the morning for me is to tone and moisturise. I like to 
tone using the Boots Tea Tree and Witch Hazel Cleansing and Toning Lotion.
This is a staple in my routine. Using a cotton pad, it helps lift away the last bits of
inconspicuous dirt and make-up. The witch hazel calms inflammation and removes excess 
oil from the face which prevents appearance of spots. Tea tree is a great anti-bacterial 
property that helps combat existing/incoming spots.
The tingling sensation when you apply this is what I look forward to most. 
I swear you can feel your whole face feeling tighter as it happens. 
There is always the risk that a toner like this could strip your face of moisture and 
make it more dry but this leaves the skin feeling balanced and clean.

The Ordinary happened, guys, need I say more? I decided if I'm going to purchase anything
it should be a serum. After being confused by the scientific names and their properties,
watching a few youtube reviews and being even more confused I decided to take the plunge
claims to tackle congested and blemished skin....look yeh, I have a major gripe 
with my blemishes. It also claims to brighten the skin and I do like the idea of my skin looking brighter. 
As for results, the juries still out on whether this serum is reducing 
my blemishes. I do like the feel of it once applied, my skin feels matte and smooth.
 I have also noticed my skin is not as congested as it used to be.
 I detect it being a little brighter, which could be down to being used with my moisturiser. 

So moisturisers, probably one of the most difficult products to find according to your skin type.
This is my absolute favourite moisturiser of all time. It is the only one that has given me 
everything I've wanted. And you know what the brand did? They discontinued this bad boy.
Why, Simple, why? Of course I'm still using it (for a while I couldn't) because I've 
managed to track it down on Amazon, but in the UK it is not sold in Boots or Superdrug
anymore and I can't think why. I'd used Simple moisturisers for a very long time and 
had finally settled on the Radiance Brightening Moisturiser. It boasts vitamins B3, C and E,
which help restore, smooth, brighten and reduce appearance of scarring on the face. 
Big claims for a small yellow tube, but it actually packs a punch. I find it extremely hydrating 
and moisturising for my skin, thanks to the bisabol. It sinks in beautifully and is a great base for foundation. 
An added bonus is the SPF10, it saves having to use an extra product
as protecting your skin from the sun, yes even in sunless Britain, is vital. 
Using this for weeks has improved the condition of my skin so much that though it's
 annoying having to buy it on Amazon (for a different price every time) I cannot do without it. 

Whilst I'm sure I could get away with using the above products twice a day, my skin needed
an intervention when a few months ago it broke out like crazy, leaving it scarred. 
I've mentioned this in a previous post and it honestly has been a life saver. 
The Body Shop Tea Tree Night Lotion is formulated to work on reducing scarring 
and blemishes throughout the night. I have used other products from this range and found 
them to break my skin out even more so was wary when I first used this. 
But this lotion has proved to be a monumental addition to my routine and I am forever going to remain loyal to it. 
Within a week I noticed less scarring and recently have seen very dark blemishes virtually disappearing. 
It would have taken twice as longer to achieve this had I stuck to
 my original night cream. 

When I think of using oils on my face I am transported back in time to when I tried olive oil
and it wasn't pretty. I broke out and swore to never go near a face oil again. 
Well I did, I used sweet almond oil for a while which didn't do anything in all honesty.
I have mentioned however I can get extremely dry skin in the winter and that usually means
my moisturiser isn't enough to soothe rough, dry patches on my face. My sister 
recommended using the Botanics Facial Oil with nourishing rosehip oil. 
I was very sceptical about using this, remembering the horror of olive oil. But
hello game changer no. 2! The bottle tells you to apply this day and night after cleansing 
which personally for me is a no as it leads to blocked pores, so I opt to use a few drops
in the middle of the day after carrying out ablution. On days when I need extra 
moisture I like to use this before applying moisturiser. Also if you like 
the dewy look, this is beautiful mixed with foundation. It sinks in quickly, softening 
and nourishing the skin. All in all this is a very affordable facial oil on the market today, 
it will give you glowing and healthy looking skin (providing you don't have allergies
 to any of the natural extracts). I am also 99% sure that this has helped thicken my brows!

The other oil I turn to when I have friends  spots move on to my face is The Body Shop
Tea Tree oil. It's already diluted so you can treat big spots directly using a cotton pad. 
The oil dries up and reduces inflammation significantly. A must have for those fat
ones that appear out of no where. It's your junk food diet, Aisha. 

Are you still with me? Well done for making it this far, you must really like me
or have questionable skin issues. So on to some extra bits and bobs, which are totally optional.
I'm not a mask person but one day walking into The Body Shop I noticed they'd
launched a new range of masks that same day and this one caught my eye. 
You've probably seen this everywhere by now, I know I have. Of course it's the
much raved about Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask. I was intrigued by the
ingredients (bamboo charcoal, tea tree oil and green tea) and claims of being paraben 
and mineral oil free. This mask is raved about for a reason; it actually works. 
The cool tingling sensation alone when you apply this is enough to warrant a try. 
The first time I tried this I asked my husband to feel my skin and his exact reaction
 was genuine surprise at how soft it felt. It really draws out the impurities 
and gives the face a bright and healthy glow. I can't recommend this enough. 

Last not but least, Charcoal Nose Pore Strips by Newtons Labs. If like me you get
blackheads on your nose and a deep cleanse doesn't quite cut it, try these. They
are inexpensive and so effective. the charcoal really gets in there and works to pull out pores 
and blackheads. One of the most satisfying things in life is ripping off a nose pore strip,
fight me if you think I'm wrong. 

I hope this post has been some help for any of you who deal with the same skin issues I
have. I highly recommend every product I've talked about and would have never in a 
million years wrote this up if I didn't feel happy with what I use. I understand the difficulty
of finding the right products for your skin and how distressing it can be to heal problem skin.
Let me know if you use/have tried/will try any of these, I'm intrigued to learn 
more about others skincare!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Musings / Everyone Needs a Sophie

The only thing I'm going to miss about summer this year, is the ample amount of daylight
we were blessed with. Not that I took advantage of it. You know what they say; 
you don't know what you got until it's gone. I'm looking forward to cold nights, warm duvets,
and layering clothes. Also, can we petition for Costa to bring their winter hot spiced apple
tea back, please!

In the meantime, I'm still seeking little moments of escape from the daily grind.
The other day I got my husband to take me and Little One to a dessert place
because I just wanted cake. I had two delicious desserts and don't regret either one of them.
I think until the rest of the family get back from their holiday, I'm
going to carry on feeling a bit lost. Or maybe I'm just using that as an excuse to
hide from the imminent 'your child is growing up, what are you planning on
doing with your life now' conversation, that everyone is so keen on starting with me
all the time.

Well I want to take a twelve month holiday, Abdul. How do you feel about that?

Jokes aside, I had a long talk with my best friend which gave me clarity.
 Sometimes all it takes is a conversation with a loved one to feel re-charged and optimistic. 
I can openly speak of my fears, confusion and ideas with her and she always gets it. 
Our conversation is usually one says something and the other replies, 'OMG ME TOO!' 
or 'OMG DO IT!' or 'ARE YOU DUMB?'. We use 'OMG' too much, I know. 
Theres no room for faux niceties in our friendship. It's always refreshing to hear her 
thoughts on my musings. If you're reading this, Soph, everyone should have 
someone like you in their life. You're a pillar in my life and I'm grateful for it.

Okay this post got too deep. I need some tea. 

p.s yes I ate all those chocolates. I needed the wrappers. It was for aesthetic purposes.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Musings / Now If Time Was A Turtle...

You know when you plan things, but they don't always work out? Well that's exactly
what this summer has turned out to be for me. With half of my family abroad for the 
holidays, I thought it would give me much needed time to create, make and blog.
However with a house to look after and construction work pending, there just 
hasn't been enough hours in a day. But it's okay, I'm optimistic for the remainder of this month. 
So, what have I been doing in any given free time? Mostly I've been trying spend moments with my daughter.
She's becoming very independent as a toddler and speaking clearly. Conversations
with her are a mixture of delight and surprise at the new words she's learning everyday. 

A surprising hobby to add to the list; horticulture. I've been enjoying looking after the houseplants
in my Mother-in-law's absence and also taken to keeping chilli plants.
My Dad has the best chilli plant collection and I seem to have caught the bug.
For ages we were all baffled as to why Dad had grown a collection 40+ plants, but I
totally get it now. My aloe vera plant is ever growing and I love that it was my Dad
who gave it to me. Every time I look at it, I remember him and miss him more. 

The great dressmaking journey has come to a halt at the moment, but it will be back. 
In the meantime I've been sketching things to make, sourcing fabric, learning about colours, 
fabrics and construction. This Pantone book is my current obsession. 
It's been an interesting read on the origins of colours and the images are wonderful to look at. 

My room is a perpetual mess but I still try to do little things here and there to add character.
The latest addition is a bonsai tree. A firm favourite is still the little camel, a souvenir from Dubai. 
When I haven't been standing in front of the mirror and overanalysing the latest breakout 
on my face, I've cleared out both mine and my daughters wardrobes. It's healthy to
consider giving away items every few months, especially ones which haven't seen the light of day!

To treat my breakout I went back to the Tea Tree Night Lotion by The Body Shop.
I used this years ago for a similar breakout which left a lot of scarring and it didn't disappoint 
once again. I've also been directly treating big spots and blemishes with their Tea Tree oil 
and it's done wonders.

Ah, tea and coffee. And I hate that I do it, but it's become a comfort to make a cup and sip at leisure.
When I'm bored; coffee. Feeling down; a cup of tea with biscuits. Getting overwhelmed; coffee
I see or hear someone else drinking tea or coffee; I have to make one too. It's only fair.

I haven't ventured out much this summer, which is largely due to construction work taking place in our garden. 
Husband and I have been taking romantic trips to Asda and Lidl, does that count? We 
also attended a wedding a few days ago. It was a nice distraction from the mundane routine we've 
dug ourself into. Blogging wise, I mostly open the laptop and sit with my planner. Only to 
end up buying random things online and then deciding I hate myself for being unproductive.
However in the midst of writing this post, I've grown slightly amused at the fact that I have
been productive. Just not in the way I wanted to have been. What have you
been doing this summer? Please say you've had a more fulfilling July/August than I have!

For the seven of you reading this, I will start posting regularly. 
Don't abandon me just yet. 

Saturday, 8 July 2017

What I Wore / Modest Wedding Guest Attire

Over the weekend I attended the wedding of one of my oldest friends. 
We go way back to the tender age of seven. I thought she was a snob at first
and I'm not sure what she thought of me, but we made it in the end anyway!
She was a big part of my life during college and university. We both started 
wearing the hijab around the same time during uni. Prior to that we would have hours 
and hours of conversation just about wearing the hijab. I've seen her grow into a 
wonderful, classy young woman and she has the best modest fashion sense to boot.
I can't believe she's married now! I wish her and her husband lots of happiness 
and goodness in their marriage. 

It was fitting to channel some of my friend's elegant style in my outfit as a guest to her wedding.
I wore this beautiful dusty pink lace gown from Inayah, with one of their modal 
hijabs. In keeping with a simplistic vibe I accessorised with just a silver teardrops necklace,
finished with heels from Zara and a clutch from Monsoon. The fit was perfect, I'm a 56" in abayas,
so I bought this in 58" to wear heels with it. It was so nice to feel free and comfortable
 as opposed to wearing something ornate and feeling restricted. Usually with a saree or salwar kameez 
I would spend ages trying to match a hijab and making the outfit as modest as possible.
 I love that with this dress I literally threw it on and tied my hijab and was good to go. 

The Inayah modal hijabs are some of my favourites as they are maxi size and you can't 
see a thing through them! Also a sign that Inayah are doing an amazing job being one 
of the leading modest fashion brands out there? So many sisters knew straight away where 
my dress was from by just looking at it. That's what you call making a mark in fashion design. 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Places / Dubai Miracle Garden

Abaya - Souk Naif, Dubai / Bag - Kate Spade 

A belated Eid Mubaruk to those of you who celebrated. 
I'm sure many will agree Ramadan this year was an extremely testing 
time. So many tragedies unfolded in the UK with innocent people dying/being hurt
because of hate and bigotry. Even as I write this I'm following reports
on Twitter, of acid attacks upon innocent Muslims. In all honesty I could have blogged, 
but decided against it over the past few weeks because I couldn't see past the 
dark cloud that hangs over us. But how long do we put off doing things we enjoy
because we feel guilty, or fearful? All the more reason to live...right? 

So I think back to a happy time. The past few days have been hectic, which is expected post Eid.
Basically I could do with a holiday. Or two. No, Bangladesh doesn't count. 
Last year in April we took a 9 month old Little One away for her first holiday. 
Although, I am unsure of what our intentions really were; I'm inclined to believe that 
the holiday was more for us than taking LO on her first holiday!

One of the places on my list of 'must see' was the Dubai Miracle Garden.
I'm convinced the guys behind this brainchild created this place to bring to life
every Asians' dream. And that is to have endless opportunities to take pictures next to 
flowers/sitting on a flowerbed/posing next to a plant etc. If you're Asian and you know it,
clap your hands. We were advised by other guests at the hotel we stayed in, to
visit the gardens in the morning or later in the afternoon when the temperature was a little low.
We managed to get there around lunchtime and it was scorching. With a baby in tow it was
difficult to be up and ready for a morning visit. 

This place is a gigantic piece of land brimming with larger than life flower installations. 
Each one crazier than the last. If those flower clad houses were real I would live there. 
Absolutely, show me the dotted line. We tried to get a sneaky pic standing next to
one and I got yelled at by the security guard to stay off the grass. 

My only one regret was not getting a picture in front of the infamous red hearts.
Husband already flat out rejected any aspirations of taking a couple shot near them. 
The red hearts are that popular, there was an actual queue. 
Its okay I'm sure he still likes me, it's fine really. Who needs a photo next to red heart flower
installation anyway? I'll make one in my living room. No I won't.

There is a small area to sit and eat under floating umbrellas, no less. A few kiosks 
are open nearby selling food, cold drinks and ice creams. Take a few snacks and enjoy 
an ice cream whilst there, or better yet grab some food before you go. 
You may be disappointed with what's on offer depending on the day you visit; 
many kiosks were closed when we visited. The prices are also a little on the high side 
for whats on offer. Then again is it really a holiday in Dubai, if you haven't got 
money seeping through your fingers even when you're sleeping?

I highly, highly recommend visiting. A short walk away is the Dubai Butterfly Garden
(which I'll cover in a later post) and it's a great day out. Especially if you want a breather
from the shopping and high buildings. Don't forget your camera. 
I've got a massive stack of photos to show Little One when she's older!!