My Five Favourite Skincare Products

I am obsessed with skincare, in my opinion, it is one of the most important forms of self-care that there is.

I have tried so many different skincare products over the years, ranging from high-street to high-end. I have found that far too many just have not worked for me, and slowly, over the past seven years or so, I have built a collection of core products that I absolutely swear by. As an ex-sufferer with acne, my self-confidence still massively depends on the state of my skin, therefore this is one category of beauty product that I will always invest in.

So, here you have it, here are five of my favourite beauty products.

1. Clarins Hydra-Essentiel Silky Cream

This moisturiser is so lusciously rich and indulgent. I have combination, sensitive skin, as a result of a course of Isotretinoin a couple of years ago, and wow my skin craves this moisturiser. I apply this very liberally, both morning and night, after a serum or oil. It's divine.

2. Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment

I have used this product for years, nearly as long as I have been using eye cream. It is particularly perfect if, like me, you are in your early twenties or late teens, and don't feel as though you need anti-aging products yet. It moisturises and brightens the eye area perfectly, whilst not irritating the sensitive eye. If you are wanting to introduce an eye cream into your skincare regime- then I would strongly recommend trying this one!

3. Caudalie Beauty Elixir 

This is a mist which dreams are made of. It is soothing, brightening and hydrating. On a hot summer's day, there is nothing more heavenly than spritzing this over your whole face. It is also perfect used before and after applying makeup for a seamless look.

4. Elemis Superfood Facial Oil 

If you are just beginning to venture into the world of facial oils, this is a great product to start with. I've found that, for many people, Elemis products are a trusted staple, and the Superfood collection is no different! The skin is the largest organ, and it needs feeding and hydrating with goodness.This does so exquisitely will, with the natural combination of broccoli seed oil, flaxseed oil and daikon radish. This product is a must!

5. Nuxe RĂªve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm 

This is my favourite lip balm of all time. It is indulgent, softening and effortlessly melts into the lips, with the luxurious bonus ingredient of honey. It is superbly hydrating and is particularly essential during the colder winter months.


Musings on a New Decade

The beginning of the decade is one that has excited me for, what feels like, most of the previous one.

I am not always a fan of the 'new year, new me' rhetoric. Usually, I find that it makes me feel under pressure and de-motivated, rather than the opposite, and I eventually came to the conclusion that self-improvement and inevitable growth should never be a pressure.

Instead, I have drawn a line.

There were the 2010s, and there is now. The nine-year-old girl that celebrated the incoming year of 2010 is now merely a part of my history. Rather, in ten years time, I can't yet imagine what my life will look like in ten years, which is how it should be.
The only thing that I know is that I want to have lived and to have had an adventurous and exciting story to tell.

The 2010s were my decade of growing up, the 2020s are going to be my decade of thriving.

That is my mindset for the new decade, I want to thrive, I want to feel, I want to live in the best ways I possibly can.

I have learnt to embrace to thrill of the unknown, the thrill of the possible, the thrill of being able to create my life,  in whichever way and however, I want to. I want to see where the strange workings of life take me because those are the best stories, the ones that are different, unexpected and unintended.

I no longer value orthodoxy or stability in the same way.

I want more of the unorthodox, and to strive for the unplanned moments of happiness. This is my goal, and should always be my goal, for the next decade of my life.

I hope that this decade is a good one for you, and I hope that you are unafraid to take risks, unafraid to challenge norms, and, most importantly of all, unafraid to live your life for yourself.

This is your decade, grab it.


Gap Year Diaries One: Planning and Manifesting

I am now three weeks into summer, which I find both stressful and enjoyable. I adore summer, especially being able to travel, but equally waiting upon exam results is terrifying, especially when I no longer know what I want to do with my life.

However, the inevitable fear aside, I am feeling excited about my life again. There is something truly liberating about having a blank slate for the foreseeable future and being able to create my own plan based upon goals that I have had on my list for years.

Therefore, I have decided that I want to begin a series of 'Gap Year Diaries', not only so that I can document my year for myself, but also share ideas and inspiration with all of you. I can feel that this is going to be a formative year of immense self-growth, a year which I really believe is going to shape the way that the next few years of my life develop.

For this first post, I thought that I would share some of my ideas and methods for planning. The process of planning a gap year is very much one of consequence, in the sense that often getting or organising one thing can affect whether I can do another. Frankly, this is probably the most stressful part, having to leave most things up to fate. However, there are numerous things which I would like to do which I'll talk through now.

My initial brainstorming consisted of writing everything that I wanted to do down and then categorising them based upon the type of activity, which I then researched and costed. As such, this now means that I have a bank of goals for the year, which I can pick and choose for a time that fits:

1) Internships and Work Experience
I'm really lucky that I have parents with connections to different institutions whereby I have access to internships. My first tip would be to really make the most of any connections that you or your family may have because that can often be your way in. I've secured an internship for September, which is based in London and I'm really excited about. However, I'll speak more about these once I've done them. Of course, internships and work experience are going to be different for everyone, in terms of what interests them or what is accessible. Therefore, my biggest tip would be to get in early, and if you have the benefit of a gap year, try to avoid University or School holidays when students will be fighting for internships! Lastly, don't be afraid of emailing companies directly, offering work experience is great for a company so it is worth their time to cooperate!

2) Part Time or Temporary Paid Work
I would say that one of the main reasons that people tend to take a year out is to work, either to fund University or to travel. During my six months off last year, I held a Christmas job working at Debenhams, and whilst at the time I found it exhausting and quite difficult, due to the fact that it interfered with festivities, I would actually really consider looking for another Christmas job. For me, this worked really well, because although I'm a hard worker, I struggle to work for or at something which I find boring- even if it pays! Therefore, I found it really helpful that I knew that it was only for two months, which meant that I could take lots of over-time and not feel like all I was doing was working. As such, I would really recommend looking at Christmas jobs if you're wanting to work, because it is perfect if all you need is an injection of cash to get your plans off the ground, and having full-flexibility will place you above students.

3) Language Learning
I have been desperate to seriously learn a language for years. I 'learnt' French throughout school, even achieving a GCSE qualification. However, frankly, the British education system simply isn't set up for serious language learning. Once I joined college, I met people who were taking language A-Levels, and after hearing the content of the course, I realised that I'd missed it and that it would have been something which I'd have enjoyed. Therefore, since then, I knew that if I ever took a prolonged period of time out of education, that I would try my best to learn a language (even just to a basic conversational level). As such, I've been looking at two different options, private language tuition where I live, and a language immersion course in France. It would be my absolute dream to be able to sit one of the beginner levels of the DELF exam next summer, but I'll have to see how and if this works out- I'll keep you posted on this one!

4) Travel
Alongside working, I would say that travelling is one of the main reasons that people tend to take a year out, and I'm no different. I completely thrive off of travelling, and I think that if you're that way inclined, then you naturally reach a point in life where you need to travel, it's like a hunger in your soul, and that's how I feel. I'm really fortunate to be pretty well travelled within Europe, however, I've never visited anywhere outside of Europe (unless Western Russia counts?). Yet, I actually have family who lives in Canada, my parents visited numerous times before I was born, but we've never been together as a family. Therefore, my main plan (so far) for next year is to go to Canada for a month or so, and travel around. My Aunt lives in Vancouver, so I'll be based from there, and I'll see where the world takes me. Other than Canada, I'm actually heading to Barcelona tomorrow (as this blog post is published) and there are many other places that I would like to visit next year within Europe- so we'll see what happens.

5) International Voluntary Work
Since the age of sixteen, I've loved volunteering and have done so within numerous charities and organisations. As I've grown, I've become increasingly passionate about human rights and humanitarian aid, therefore, I would love to volunteer and help out at a refugee camp. My mum is an academic within this sphere, so I'm really hoping that she can help me find a charity to volunteer within. I think that the key with volunteering abroad is to find an ethical organisation that actually helps ordinary people, rather than for a company which you have to pay for, which unfortunately often only perpetuates social issues. If you're interested in spending most of your gap year volunteering, then a really great way to do this is through a government-led scheme, in the UK that is the International Citizen Service.

As a part of this series, I'm going to list my definite plans at the time of publication, this will be a really interesting way to see how my gap year maps out and changes, needless to say, I'm excited!

Current Plans:

Barcelona, Spain
Driving Theory Test
Family Holiday in the UK

A-Level Results Day (agh)
Bank Holiday Weekend in London with Family

Two-Week Long Internship in London


One Year On

I'm feeling strange today, pensive and changeable. I'm conscious of the fact that one chapter is finally ending, yet I don't have a clue as to what the next one is. My last A-Level exam is tomorrow, and I've finally reached the conclusion to this chapter of my life, however, it's anti-climatic and unsatisfying, and I feel far more unsettled than I do content.

It's funny that how, when we have a traumatic experience in our life (especially one which sets in motion a chain of life-altering events as a consequence) how our sense of time pivots to where everything revolves around that experience, almost like time never quite moves past it.
That is how my life has felt this last year, and although the memories of that time itself are now merely faint flickers of painful memories, I still find that I am struggling to pick up the consequences and move on.

There was my life before, and there is my life now, and I feel as though there is a distinct line between the two. I feel like an entirely different person, to the extent where my old hopes, dreams and ambitions now feel as though they once belonged to a different person.

Despite it being a year on, I have far from moved on, and I think that this is worsened by the fact that I have had to re-live many of the same experiences. Whilst many of my old friends have settled into entirely new lives and made entirely new friends, I've had to return to a place which I once loved, without any of those people or classes which made it so great in the first place.

It's been like returning to a ghost town, plagued with memories of a life which no longer exists.

I had a few, select friends in college, friends that I considered my closest friends. Yet, we're barely in touch anymore, and I completely understand that they've moved on, they're a year into a new life, and you know what, I'm really happy that they're happy.

However, for me, it really stings, because I haven't had the opportunity to build a new life yet. It reached a point when I realised that I was always the one making the effort to get in contact, and even then, maintaining a conversation would be difficult, it often just felt like they weren't interested.

I've reached a point now where I struggle to go on my personal Instagram, because when I do, and I see all of these pictures of people I once considered my closest friends, in entirely new lives, with entirely new people, looking happy, and like they're living the sort of life that a nineteen-year-old should be, and it really hurts, because it makes me feel so alone.

All of the excitement, colour and vitality that the world used to hold for me, it doesn't anymore. The world seems grey, miserable and uninviting, and I have reached a point where I prefer solitude, I've been hardened.

I don't have a clue what's coming next.

I'm taking a proper year out, a 'gap year'. I need it, I need to reset my life and figure out what the next steps should be. I want a degree, more than anything, but I genuinely fear that my exam results will not be as good as they should be, due to how unpredictable my mental state has been. I don't know what interests me, or whether I even want to move away from home for University anymore.

I feel as though I need to rediscover myself, and I really hope that taking a year to remember that the world has so much to offer, beyond academics and careers, will be crucial and healthy for me.

However, that is not to say that I am comfortable with this decision, in fact, it's terrifying. I am aware that I may end up at a University I wouldn't have been entirely happy with, purely because I don't have a grade safety net to rely on anymore, this is it, the grades that I receive in August are the final, real deal. I will also, by September 2020, be completely detached from my own year group, and I will no longer have any sense of that shared, collective goal of getting to University.

I really hope that this won't disadvantage me.

I'm sure that everything will work out in the end, I know that I'm resilient, and I am proud of myself, I think that it is important to acknowledge this for myself. Although there have been many wobbles, I have got through the last year, I have sat most of my exams (the last one is tomorrow) and no matter what grades I get, I have developed something even more important, tenacity.

As I figure out what the next year will consist of, I'll be sure to write about it on here, as I love sharing my story with you, no matter how tangled and complicated it has been and will continue to be.

However, the one thing that I know for sure, and the one thing that I remind myself of, is that the places that I've ended up have always been the right ones, and I need to trust in that, trust in fate, trust in the fact that everything, always, works itself out eventually.


Coping with Change

I have always known when I am approaching a crossroads in my life.

I think that many people are unaware that vast change is about to occur in their lives, and I believe that this often actually makes it easier to deal with, however, I've always been so in tune with my myself, that I can sense it in the waters, I can feel it in my gut, and I find it terrifying.

It's peculiar how I find it so empowering to embrace some forms of change. I'm naturally a very restless person, I always want more and I'm never satisfied with what I do have, which is both a blessing and a curse. If you gave me a few months rent and told me to pack my bags and move to Paris for a year, I would be on a flight quicker than you could tell me to go. I can completely and entirely embrace short bursts of change, but I need the stability of my everyday life to fall back on.

Yet, I find permanent change much more difficult to stomach. I am nearly nineteen years old, and the thought of not living under the same roof as my parents absolutely terrifies me. This isn't because I'm not independent, I've always been fiercely independent, but because they're like my best friends. Their existence is completely parallel to mine, and I know that once this change occurs, I will never live in the same way again, and then one day they will no longer be around anymore.

I suppose I find it hard to let go. I've always joked with my mama that my childhood has been far too idyllic, and that's why I find change difficult, but in reality, it's because the future petrifies me. I crave the quietude and comfort of my childhood, and I want to feel that way for as long as I possibly can, even if that makes me unconventional. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that I am probably going to have my bedroom in my childhood home for as long as they let me.

However, I think it is even harder to let go and move forward when we have no idea what we're letting go and moving forward to.

Everything that I always planned for, and thought I wanted has changed. I've changed. I look back on my life, the dreams and aspirations, that I had a year ago, and I don't recognise myself. It is like I am staring straight into the soul of another human being, not myself, therefore I know that this past year has been one of incredible growth, but also incredible disruption. My entire sense of identity has been disrupted, and when I try to explain this to people I can almost see their eyes roll, and this is partly why I think that I am simply more in tune with myself than most, but the fact that most people don't seem to understand how I feel simply makes me feel that I am slowly going crazy.

It is ironic how this intrinsic change is inevitable, as our experiences shape us, yet changing our environment and how our life moves is a difficult, conscious decision.

I crave answers. My entire being wants some omnipotent force to tell me what I need to do, what is going to get me where I want to be. I can see the end result, but I can't see the path. I know that this isn't the way that life works, I know that we only get clarity when we look backwards, but this doesn't help me in making these huge life decisions.

All I know is that I don't want people to look back at my life as it being conventional and the same as everyone else's, I want my journey to be different, I want my life to matter. I need the disruption and I need the change, I just don't yet know how to embrace it, but I need to learn quickly.
Amelia Hope © . Design by FCD.