Monday, August 22, 2016

Lip Six is back!

lipstick swatches

Update-I'm such an idiot!  I realised today I posted this lip six back in July but hadn't deleted the pictures off my 'still to blog about folder'.


Fun fact!  Even though I haven't written a blog post in like 4 weeks I still photograph my lips every morning!

So I now have a backlog of lipstick swatches so I thought a lip six post would be an easy way to break back into beauty blogging-they're so easy to do and take me literally 5 minutes #LazyBlogging

Here are my (probably 4 weeks ago) last six lip picks!

Top row (L) Marc Jacobs Love Marc matte lip gel in 136 Shout (R) NARS Audacious lipstick in Fanny (review!)

Middle row (L) YSL Rouge Volupte Shine in 13 Pink in Paris (R) Clinique Plum Pop lipstick (review!)

Bottom row (L) Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G lipstick in Velvet Underground (review!) (R) MAC matte lipstick in Pink Plaid

Don't forget you can see my daily lip pick on snapchat >> username Stadybelle

Which is your favourite?

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Life updates, how it feels to go through early menopause and the future

Whilst I understand this is not the usual make up review post you might be here for, and that my story is probably highly irrelevant to most of you reading, I've been AWOL for a little while and I wanted to explain why.  I am currently going through early menopause and it has been such a nightmare that I wanted to share some of my thoughts and feelings about what has happened to me in the hope that someone, feeling the same worry and stresses I have felt in the last few weeks might one day find this post and feel they're not alone.

OK so back story (I apologise if you've been following me a long time and know all this already).

Two years ago I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and my treatment was major surgery-removing my cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes, plus part of my vagina and lots of lymph nodes.  For ethical reasons, and because the cancer was not present in either ovary, my surgeon preserved them and pinned them to my abdominal wall to keep them out of harms way from chemo and radiotherapy.  I recovered well and went into remission but there were a lot of continuous side effects that I have never really spoken about.  Firstly, for the last two years I have been in pain almost daily from lympocheles which is a collection of lymphatic fluid that gathers and forms a large cyst-however the pain was mostly very manageable and I was monitored regularly.  My last CT scan was in February this year and showed the lymphocele present but shrinking.  Secondly, my complexion became horrendous-blemish after blemish, nothing helped and I suffered from very sore, cystic spots constantly.  I saw several doctors but nothing helped.  Finally, my ovaries became polycystic and one of the main side effects I had was growth of hair on my face-I had not had this before and it was such a confidence destroyer.  However, there was an easy fix and I started to shave my face twice a week (using eyebrow razors) and this kept the problem at bay. 

About 12 weeks ago I started suffering with horrendous abdominal pain-it started during a meeting with my boss Raj and he was so concerned that he wanted me to go to the doctors immediately.  I refused; I had had similar pains before and knew in a few hours they would dissipate.  But they didn't and the next day I was worse-my assistant Chloe and Raj forced me to take an emergency doctors appointment and I was seen by another gynecologist at my usual hospital.  She did a scan immediately and saw two new masses around my ovary that were not present on my scan in February.  She actually took a picture of the scan on the monitor using her mobile phone and went to see another doctor immediately.  I was given pain relief and asked to come back for another scan in the morning with a radiologist.

The third day I was in agony.  I don't know how I got to work as I could barely walk.  I went for my appointment at 10am and I cried the whole way through, begging the doctor (who I knew quite well) to tell me what was wrong and to help me.  I couldn't talk to my mum and dad as they were on a cruise but I feared something was really wrong.  The doctor told me he would write his report and send it to my surgeon Dr Rajesh but within 10 minutes of leaving the hospital, Dr Rajesh was on the phone to me, telling me he had arranged an emergency MRI scan which I had two days later.  To cut a long story short, I needed surgery and on the 23rd May I had another major operation to remove the two new masses and unfortunately Dr Rajesh also had to remove my right ovary.  Even though I knew I couldn't have children following my first diagnosis and surgery, it felt like that was just reiterated 1000 times again.  My mum flew out to help me and after 2 days in hospital I was allowed home to recover.  And I felt fine, I didn't feel emotional and I recovered much quicker than my first operation.  I couldn't have done it without my mum and she made the process of getting better so much easier.  Four weeks later I was well enough to return to work.

I only had to work 8 days before I had a weeks holiday booked in the UK for my friends wedding but I was so so worried about flying home.  I was worried about the long flight and just 'being' in the UK.  I hadn't been for six months and in that time I had split up with my fiance of 13 years and had major surgery.  About 3 days before I flew I started to get these weird weird feelings-it would start at the bottom of my back and feel like a wave rising up my back into my head-I would feel extremely hot (but not sweat) and I would have a weird 'sicky' feeling at the back of my throat-it also felt a bit like I was claustrophobic.  It would only last a minute or so and then go.  I thought maybe it was anxiety about my trip.  And then they started coming more and more.  I also felt very unsettled and teary.

I went to the UK, had a good time but the second I got on the flight I was uncontrollably crying.  I couldn't even say why or control myself.  Ever since my first operation I have been quite emotional, especially at work and feel like now I am known as the girl that cries!  When I got home to my apartment in Dubai I was still crying and just couldn't stop.  Driving to pick my cats up, tears streaming down my face I thought 'how can I get through work tomorrow like this'? and I called my doctor for an emergency appointment.  I walked into her room and burst into tears again.  I felt utterly utterly out of control.  I felt like my body was controlling me rather than me controlling it.  This anxious crying person was not me.  There was no discernible reason why I would feel like that.  My doctor referred me back to the gynecologist who saw me the same afternoon and they ran a blood test to test my FSH level.  Anything under 21 is 'normal', mine was 79.9.  I was going through the menopause.  My doctor told me my body thought it had been hit by an earthquake.  I'm 36 years old.  I shouldn't go through the menopause for another 15 years. 

Part of me felt relieved to be able to put a label on this feeling.  I knew I wasn't right, even in London I had been completely disinterested in shopping and just wanted to hide out at Danielles and anyone who knows me knows that I am a total shopaholic.  I found Selfridges chaotic and overwhelming-I know it is crazy busy in there but that kind of thing does not bother the normal me.  I feel like even now, I am still a bit disinterested, maybe disengaged is a better word and feel like I am a difficult friend at the moment.  I've not been great at keeping in touch and I am sure my friends are confused at my inability to engage in conversation yet at the same time be present on, for example snapchat. My blog was of no interest to me and my tolerance levels of most people were very low.  And I was so paranoid, going over and over in my head any comment that felt negative or any situation where I felt I didn't know where I stood.  In short, I felt more lost than ever before.

Immediately I was put onto HRT tablets but initially told just to take the estrogen ones and to  disregard the combined estrogen/progesterone tablets you normal take for half of the month.  I was told because I have no cervix that the primary purpose of taking the progesterone is to protect the cervix against endometrial cancer and so therefore I didn't need it.  A second doctor then told me I should take progesterone because it has other benefits to me and the 'no cervix, no progesterone' line of thinking is old fashioned.  I was also warned there are big risks taking HRT-breast cancer and cardiovascular disease being the main two and I now have to have a breast scan every 3 months.  But if I don't take it I have been told I will have osteoporosis in my 40's.

The medication issue has been extremely confusing and is ongoing-both doctors would prefer for me to take a transdermal estrogen (usually a patch) because then the body doesn't use the liver to metabolise it which is better for me-but it's not available in Dubai.  I've engaged BUPA for a second opinion on the medication and am waiting for their final report but my case worker, a GP from the UK is utterly lovely and keeps checking up on me given I spent an hour on the phone to her in tears during our first consultation a few weeks ago.  She has also suggested to me there may be an element of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to my condition given what I have been through the past two years.  Sometimes, part of me sees signs there may be but honestly mostly I just think it's part of life.   And I am huge believer now in everything happening for a reason.  When you live for a long time with someone who is mentally ill as I did, freedom from that is an unbelievably precious gift.  That relationship had ground me down to a point where I was just surviving, whatever public perception I portrayed.  You never know what goes on behind closed doors as the saying goes.  Now I actually feel like I am living. 

But the HRT medication took a while to kick in-I cried at work during my last monthly 1:1 with Raj for absolutely no reason just after I started taking them-it had been a great month and I think Raj was startled when I started to cry. I tried to explain, through gritted teeth, embarrassment and sheer frustration that this wasn't me-that it was my hormones and I just couldn't control it.  Don't get me wrong, at the time it felt like this situation was never going to end but now, a few weeks later I am feeling 'normal' again.  The tablets have stopped the mood swings and hot flushes.  I feel more sociable even if I feel vulnerable.

I found this article written by a girl the same age as me about her experience of early menopause and so much of it resonated with me.   She talks about feeling like she didn't want to be noticed and how she felt isolated from her 'normal' friends who were all settling down, getting married and having babies in their 30's.  I don't resent any of my friends happiness at all, I just can't identify with it anymore.  I have no interest in relationships or dating and I do feel insufficient.  Maybe that will change in time but who knows?

I guess I am a work in progress at the moment-I am hoping to get my medication sorted soon and I am glad I sought help early on.  I don't feel any longer that my body is controlling me and that's a huge relief.

What's next?  I don't really know.  This year so far has been a big year of change.  Since splitting up with Mike I have more or less redesigned the whole apartment.  I've just bought a new car, I felt like I needed to cut all ties and associations to him especially given the way we broke up (a long, complicated and traumatic story.)  I needed a fresh start.  I needed to feel free.  And I think these changes are making me feel better.  I've lost some weight but want to lose a ton more.  I've joined a gym.  I'm still happy in Dubai and in my job and I'm good at it-I'm probably due a change but equally I'm a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to moving outside my comfort zone.  Blogging hasn't been of interest, neither has make up shopping even though I still 100% love make up.  Sometimes I feel blogging has had it's day-I watch far more youtube videos than read blog posts.  If I don't read as many blog posts how can I expect someone to read mine?  I wonder how relevant I am in a sea of glossy, beautiful bloggers with innovative content.  It's not a world I fit into.  But yet a lot of my good friends come from blogging and I don't really want to let it go completely.

Despite all this, there are moments when I do actually quite like myself, feel proud of being a single and independent woman standing on my own two feet 3500 miles from home.  I only had surgery 12 weeks ago and yet I am back at work, feeling pain free and I've done six flights already since the operation and did my 7th today.  I've made difficult decisions this year and fully faced up to the consequences and nothing has fazed me.  I felt like I had taken everything in my stride but when the menopause hit I suddenly felt like everything was crumbling around me.  Yet  I know there are things I do easily that other people maybe don't find so easy-I march through airports confidently, get on more flights per year than some people take in a lifetime and I'm a very confident driver in a city notorious for being intimidating to drive in.  There were several times when the menopause hit and my hormones were spiralling out of control without me knowing, where I told myself 'you're a bloody cancer survivor Stacey, what the fuck is wrong with you' in an attempt to 'motivate' myself out of the state of mind I was in

So bear with me whilst I find my feet.  I'm writing up and scheduling posts today so maybe it's about getting into a routine again.  I'm a terrible terrible overthinker/ overanalyser and however much I try to remind myself not to, it's a huge weakness of mine.  Maybe blogging will allow me to channel the energy I waste over thinking every situation into something more positive.

I know this post has been super long and rambly and if I still have your attention then thank you.  I've always been massively grateful for the love and support I receive through this blog even when I am undeserving of it xx

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Recent empties

When I say recent, these are actually my May empties.  What can I say, I've been busy.

There's some really good stuff in here though so lets crack on.

Omorovicza Cleansing Foam

Not my fave-talked about it a lot more here, but I found this quite basic for the price and I wouldn't repurchase.  It definitely sits in the 'morning' cleanse category for me and although it was nice, nice doesn't justify the price v results.

Niod Photography Fluid

Still my all time fave primer, I adore this stuff and have converted as many people as I possibly can onto it!  Already repurchased (plus a back up), I have written a full review on this magical primer/instagram filter for face here.

Niod Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex*

If you have dry skin this stuff is an absolute godsend.  The first time I used this 'as light as water' serum, my skin was suffering from the extremely drying effects of some medication I had been prescribed by my doctor.  My foundation wouldn't sit on my skin without peeling and flaking and it was just gross.  One application of this serum overnight sorted the problem totally out.  I genuinely couldn't believe the effect it had.  When I used this I genuinely didn't need to use a moisturisor before applying make up.  I've written a full review here
*PR sample

Kiehls Creme De Corps

One of my all time fave body moisturisers,  It's a cult classic and I love everything about it.  The yellow lotion absorbs almost immediately and it doesn't irritate my skin (a lot of body moisturisers make my skin break out in a rash, especially on my legs).  It's also super soothing and cooling when you apply it.  I adore it!

Bumble and Bumble Hair Powder

I go through stages of hating this and then loving it.  My hair is very fine and gets greasy very easily and every single day I either use a dry shampoo or texturising spray.  This is one of those sprays that really does make your hair feel a bit matted though so if you don't like that slightly stiff, matte texture to your hair, don't buy this.  I would also not recommend this for very thick hair.  The powder also contains colour so you definitely need to wash your hands after you apply it.  I probably wouldn't repurchase-I prefer the Charles Worthington texturising spray or just good old Batiste.

First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser

Technically only sample size but I really loved this wash off cream cleanser.  It's very basic and reminds me of the Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser and it is great for sensitive and acne prone skins.  I usually cleanse with an oil or balm and then once I have rinsed that off go straight in with this onto wet skin for a thorough cleanse.  Good stuff.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Brush On Glow BB highlighter

This is one of those 'YSL Touche Eclat' pen style concealer/highlighters and I would rate it as just ok.  I used it all but I wouldn't repurchase, I prefer these days to use a corrector and then concealer rather than a concealer and then a highlighter.  One good thing about this range is it comes in a wide range of shades and it's very similar to the Touche Eclat in formula.

Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash

I'm so picky about mascaras and this one is really good!  It really separates, lengthens and volumises, doesn't flake or smudge and is really black.

NARS Sheer Glow foundation

I had a real love/hate relationship with this throughout the time I used it.   Firstly I hate that it doesn't come with a pump and I have to buy one separately.  Double Wear is the same and it just drives me nuts.  I've used this before and remember really loving it but this time, initially I felt like it wasn't giving enough coverage.  So I started using it as a light base and then buffing in the Make Up Forever HD foundation (the stick version) over the top and I liked it much more.  Then one day I forgot to add the extra layer and I really liked the way this foundation wore throughout the day-it just seemed to look better the more my natural oils mixed with it.  It works really well with the Nivea aftershave balm as a primer under it but you won't get more than medium coverage.

Belif The Truth Cream

Included this little sample pot because I really loved this light, gel based moisturiser.  It was super hydrating without leaving me as an oil slick and make up sat really nicely over it.  I don't know if you can buy this in the UK-mine came from Sephora in the US.  Similar in texture to the Dr Dennis Gross in that it's gel based rather than cream based but I actually preferred the Belif-I felt like it never broke me out whereas I was never sure with the Dr Dennis Gross.

MAC Omega eyeshadow

My Holy grail powder for eyebrows-have repurchased over and over and I prefer it over anything else I own for brows!  Also works well as a contour for pale skin and a matte transition shade-a total all rounder.  If they ever discontinue it, there'll be trouble!

Nuxe Huile Prodiguise

I've had this little sample pot of the cult Nuxe oil for ages and I am sure I have used it before and not been overly wowed.  But for some reason I tried it recently and I was absolutely wowed-I just loved how soft my skin was after using it and how it absorbed so easily-I was literally slathering it on.  I've since been and bought the full size one and I just love it so much-also adore the packaging and the size I have has a spray pump so it is totally hassle free to use.

Dr Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Moisture Cushion

I have tried really hard to like Dr Dennis Gross products but nothing has really impressed me.  I gave away the Ferulic and Retinol serum because it wasn't doing anything for me, the Alpha Beta peel pads seem really harsh on my skin and this moisturiser was just ok-as I said above I was never 100% sure this wasn't breaking me out.

The formula contains Hyaluronic Acid which keeps moisture locked into skin, Glycolic Acid to improve tone and texture, Aloe to soothe and Collagen to plump and firm.  I do think I prefer the Origins Ginzing which is very similar and I wouldn't repurchase this particular product.

So that's all my empties from May, I now need to go and start working on my June empties post!

Have you used any of these products?

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Huda Beauty Lip Contours-review and swatches

Huda Beauty Lip Contours-review and swatches

Huda Beauty Lip Contours-review and swatches

So there was a bit of hype when these launched in Dubai.  By 'a bit' I mean there was a massive line snaking around Sephora in Dubai Mall when they initially went on sale and they sold out within hours.  I managed to grab only one in another Sephora and I practically snatched it out of the sales assistants hand as she was heading over with it to show a group of teenagers.  Snooze you lose kids.

I then picked up 4 more in a Sephora US haul (post here if you fancy a nosy) and have finally gotten round to posting about them.  It's going to be a short post because there is only so much you can say about lip liner.  I believe these are about to be restocked so grab one whilst you can because I really do like the formula.

The formula is waxy and very easy to use.  The point can snap quite easily though but that could be because Dubai has such a warm climate and they possibly soften during the day when I don't have my air con on.  I liken the formula to the Marc Jacobs liners, the Charlotte Tilbury liners and some of the MAC Pro Longwear liners.  They don't drag on the lips or move about-once they're on, they're on.

Liners are drying, it's a fact-I have never come across a 'hydrating' liner but luckily these aren't hideously drying.  I also find that if I line and fill my lips with one of these and then put lipstick over, the wear time increases dramatically.  At least doubles.

So I am a fan.  I find myself using Gossip Gurl and Bombshell the most but all of them are wearable and could be used as a lipstick.  As you can see from my 'lined and filled in' lips below, the finish is quite a luminous matte.

Huda Beauty Lip Contours-review and swatches

Huda Beauty Lip Contours-review and swatches

Have you tried any of the Huda Beauty Lip Contours?  Are any on your wishlist?
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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Cancer diagnosis-2 years on

I had really planned to write an update/reflection post for today, the second anniversary of my cancer diagnosis.  But the truth is I've been going through quite a difficult time recently and right now I don't think I can put into words (or subject you to!) the tangled web of emotions I am feeling.  If you follow me on Snapchat (Stadybelle) then you will have seen some of the rawness of the situation over the past couple of weeks.  But I am genuinely fine-it's just been all just very bad timing.

I had to have more surgery about 6 weeks ago when I grew two new masses around my right ovary and they, along with my ovary were removed by my surgeon, Dr Rajesh Devassy here in Dubai.  Over the past two weeks my body has been subjecting me to an absolute nightmare and it's now been confirmed I am going through the menopause at 36.  It's a lot to take in, understand and comprehend and admittedly there are times I feel overwhelmed at the moment with everything.  I never imagined that I would ever feel so bad and like I had absolutely no control over my own body.

One of my doctors said my FSH levels (which detects whether the body is in menopause) were one of the highest she had ever seen when I got the results of my blood tests on Sunday and that my body is currently feeling like it has been hit by an earthquake-especially given I have been through so much in the past two years and that I am going through the menopause 15-20 years earlier than expected.  That pretty much explains everything I have been feeling recently.

But clearly, I am not one to give up.  I'm seeking treatment, being as kind to myself as I can and seeing this as a very temporary blip in the road.

This year has not been easy at all so far for various reasons, but on the plus side I am now pain free for the first time in 2 years following the operation 6 weeks ago, I am back at work and once I get my medication sorted for the menopause I think everything is going to be a-ok.

I'm so grateful to my family and the friends that have stuck by me through thick and thin, my amazing boss and the company I work for, for their support and understanding and of course my team of doctors here in Dubai for being there from day 1, 731 days ago.

I had cervical cancer-if you would like to read and understand more I have posted about my diagnosis and all my subsequent cancer posts can be found under this link.

Thank you for reading x

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