Like many other 21 year olds across the country, I had my graduation this week. If you haven't had yours yet, this post will be about beauty and fashion, as well as how to best enjoy one of the biggest days of your life!
I'd say 70% of good skin is unfortunately hormones and genetics. But the other 30% you have control over! Drink lots of water in the week leading up to your graduation to keep skin hydrated. Obviously it's always good to eat less processed foods but with all the socialising and meals out for the end of year, this is easier said than done! (I didn't manage it anyway...) The main thing to do is to make sure you remove your makeup meticulously and keep your pores clear. Personally I exfoliate twice a week with my Clinique Scrub and my lips (especially if I'm wearing a lipstick) with my e.l.f. exfoliator and on a daily basis I use baby wipes to get as much makeup off as possible (they're really gentle). I then cleanse with my Vichy cleanser, to get any last scraps off, go over my eyes with my Bioderma water and finally tone with my La Roche-Posay toner. It's good to use a night cream too, but the main thing is to get the makeup off properly. It sounds like a lot but in reality I do it in under 5 minutes, so it's no more drawn out than brushing my teeth!
Graduation day is not the time to be trying out new looks; stick to tried and tested classic looks that won't feel dated when you look back. And by 'classic' I mean classic for you; the looks you know you can do to perfection and you know photograph well. Also, it can be a long day, so use a primer (I used my Smashbox one) and/or a setting spray (I used my one by e.l.f.). For me 'a classic look' meant starting with my trusty Studio Fix Fluid. I then used my Benefit Boi-ing concealer under my eyes (I did not get a good night's sleep and had to be up so early!) and on any small blemishes (I didn't have many of these as I was really good with my skin leading up to the day). I powdered my face with my lifesaving Rimmel Stay Matte Powder before apply a product I've barely put down since I bought it; my Makeup Revolution Blush Lacquer. Finally I finished my face by highlighting and contouring (making this as natural as possible) with my Sleek Face Form kit.
I filled in my eyebrows with my favourite Sleek Brow Kit before sealing it in with my e.l.f. brow gel. I then primed my eyes with my sheer e.l.f. eyelid primer. I gave that a moment to sink in before doing a natural eye look with my Benefit World Famous Neutrals: Most Glamorous Nudes Ever. I did my eyeliner with my Benefit They're Real Push Up Liner, before finishing with the They're Real Mascara.
Last of all I just applied some Vaseline to my lips, allowed that to sink in and finished with the dusky pink-purple Twig, by MAC. I actually didn't do my nails until I got there! But when I did I used my old favourite, Dress Me Up by China Glaze.
There isn't a huge amount I can do with my hair at the best of times, so due to time constraints and the fact I'd have to put a hat on top of it, I just wore it loose but volumised. I blow dried my hair using the Moroccanoil treatment. Don't put your hair up, as you'll just have to take it down again. If you want to do something pretty then try and just put in some loose curls. I always finish with L'Oreal Elnett as it holds your hair in place without making it stiff or sticky, and you can just brush it right out!
For my university we were advised to wear a white shirt and black skirt, but any formal dress was permitted. I was just completely against the idea, not least because I don't even own clothes like that, so if I was going to get something new it was going to be a dress! At first I wanted to go for summer florals, but knowing most people on my course were complying with the advised dresscode, I went for something in the middle and settled on this New Look white lace shift dress. I wasn't expecting much; I'd ordered a few dresses through ASOS, but whilst this looked good online, I wasn't sure if it would look cheap in real life. I loved it in the end; it's something I'd re-wear and it's summery but not loud. I think classic styles which won't age are really the way to go, as well as something you can wear without your gown (if you're going for drinks or a meal after). I paired it with a lace clutch (past season, New Look), my Links of London bracelet, Pandora bracelet and silver earrings (past season, River Island). I wore my 'comfty' patent peep-toe shoes (past season, Next). However I was on my feet from 8am to 7pm so by then they weren't quite so comfy! Definitely invest in some gel pads if you're going for heels.
You should have a good idea of how long things take you. I was really rushed as my ceremony was at 10:30, so if you have an afternoon ceremony take advantage! It's so much nicer casually getting ready over the entire afternoon than rushing in an hour. Bear in mind you'll want to arrive in plenty of time to collect your gown and tickets, get your professional photos take and snap some of your own. I'd say don't get there any later than an hour and a half in advance.
The ceremony itself is unbelievably dull. It's sort of anticlimactic until you all go out at the end to the music and get your photos taken! You've been warned...
Food and Family
It's really nice to go for a meal after your ceremony and have a drink to celebrate. For me, if your family have come from across the country for you (some of them also only getting to watch it on a screen because of ticket availability), you should focus on them. It's great to see your friends, and you should definitely catch up with everyone, but everyone is there with their families so don't feel your being anti-social for spending time with yours!
It sounds cheesy but I think the main thing is to enjoy yourself! It's easy to get bogged down with the stresses and practicalities of getting to that moment and being nagged at or bickering, but it's your big day. All your family have come for you and it may be the last time you see some of your coursemates so make the most of it.