- Advertisement information: this post discusses items gifted to me with no obligation to share them (marked *). In addition I have / have had a brand relationship with Cult Beauty, Vichy, La Roche-Posay, KIKO, Revolution Makeup, Fresh Beauty, Deciem / the Ordinary (gifting), Glossier (affiliate programme - not linked to in this post) and Super Facialist (paid content). My blog has Skimlinks and RewardStyle installed to automatically monetise purchases of products I link on my blog, therefore this post may contain affiliate links. All opinions remain my own and please refer to my Disclosure Page for further detail -
My blog is officially now 5 years old - which is kind of nuts because that's my entire post-university adult life! I thought it would be kind of fun to do a post looking back on each year in turn - what sort of makeup looks did I go for? What were my favourite brands? Where was I at in life? What was the blogging / YouTube world like back then? Let's take a bit of a walk down memory lane...
In terms of my makeup style - the first thing I noticed looking back at pictures was how thin my eyebrows were! I actually have a scar on my eyebrow from bumping my head as a child (explains a lot...) and for years I felt like I had to get my eyebrows shaped around it. Now I just prefer a thicker brow look and if that means the scar is there, then so be it! My hair really hasn't changed much over the years, so not much to report there. In terms of makeup - I really didn't use highlighter or bronzer at this stage and I'm pretty sure this was still the point where the only foundation worth having to me was the MAC Studio Fix Fluid* (NC38 or 40) | £26 | a throwback review.
As far as brands go - I was definitely a drugstore girl and regularly got sucked in with 3 for 2 offers at the Maybelline and Revlon counters. I bought pretty much any palette Sleek had on offer and even hunted down the ones I couldn't find in-store on Amazon. It's also the year I discovered Revolution Makeup (or Makeup Revolution, as it was back there) and if there was a dupe palette - I was buying it! I did still invest in a small number of high-end products though. I specifically remember agonising for ages before taking the plunge and purchasing the 'universally flattering', 'certified best blusher ever' Nars Orgasm Blush | £25 | a throwback review. Although I really don't reach for this product any more, I did use this to death at the time and truly loved it. As far as skincare goes - I'd always just used a Superdrug own brand exfoliator and cleanser and I think that was about it! I did dip my toe into more 'expensive' products for me, taking advantage of offers on at the Body Shop. This was also around the time the French Pharmacy brands started trickling into places like Boots so I think I got a few Vichy and La Roche-Posay products for my birthday (because spending so much myself seemed inconceivable!)
This was also back in the day when YouTube wasn't as big and the icons of our world were Lily, Anna and Zoe. It weirdly feels like a more innocent time of Lush and Primark hauls! I actually discovered blogs because the blusher I always bought had run out and I wanted to Google reviews of alternatives. I was inadvertently sucked into the world of beauty blogging and as I became more interested, I decided to set up my own platform. Obviously it was a total mess at the start! My photos had zero composition and were posted entirely unedited, I was spewing out posts every single day of questionable quality and very few people were reading them! As I got involved in Twitter chats (which were huge back in the day) people started to visit and comment, which was amazing! I even had my first PR enquiries very early on - I hadn't even realised that was a thing unless you were Zoella-level! One of the first brands of note to ever send me anything was Soap and Glory after I tweeted a picture wearing their eyeliner. I had pretty much zero following so it was kind of nuts that a household name would ever take a chance on me like that and I was seriously flattering after years of buying their products as a big treat!
- 2015 -
This was the year I felt like my blog started to gain a little bit of traction and I actually got a proper camera for Christmas in 2014 so that inspired me to start working on my photography more in general and to improve the professionalism of my blog. This was a really fun time of experimenting for me - I bought lots of props and played around with different backgrounds. It was definitely trial and error but I guess the learning curve is always most fun when you're first getting to grips with a new skill! And I think it really worked - for me this was around the time blogging and also my blog really hit a peak. Whilst it lasted a little longer; this was the first time I felt like a lot of people were interacting with my content. I'd massively scaled back the amount I was posting after getting my first 'proper' job but really focused on quality. I'd also started working pretty regularly with brands, though I was definitely a little bit naive in this respect. I don't think I really understood the value of having this platform; I felt like I needed to reply to every single generic email I received and post about every product I was sent because I was amazed people were even reaching out to me!
I think my makeup style also found its way during this time - I guess initially I was experimenting a lot with different looks and colours to figure out what suited me (with varying results...) Now a good year or so into my love affair with beauty products, I'd figured out what I felt suited me. I was all about the matte nude lip - think Velvet Teddy! I was also so into my mauve blushers and lip colours - again these were usually my MAC Lipsticks | my collection | and Mehr and Twig were two more favourites. I'd actually never used bronzer before 2015 and a limited edition number from KIKO changed everything - these days I don't do my makeup without one. I also discovered Space NK in 2015... (and did an entire post on the experience here!) I was working but living at home, so I guess I just had a lot of disposable income but I was immediately hooked and I think it was my first proper introduction into luxury beauty. Looking back at my skincare favourites from 2015, I really did discover some of my now-staples during that year, such as Pixi Glow Tonic*, rosehip oil, cleansing balms, the Nuxe Reve de Miel Lipbalm and Super Facialist Salicylic Clay Mask*.
- 2016 -
2016 is definitely a year I look back on fondly! Personally - I just had such a great summer with amazing holidays to New York for my birthday, Spain with the girls and an incredible city break in Florence. It was also such a great year for blogging - it's crazy to think how much engagement everyone's content seems to get. Posts sharing blogging tips and tricks were super popular on platforms like Bloglovin. It was pretty standard to see 50-100 comments on a post and Instagram was great - back in the good old chronological feed days! I also feel like I landed on a photography style during this year - although it's developed since then - I still think it's very similar to what it became during this time. I think this was around the time that I actually got some sponsorships too, which I'd never really thought was a possibility for a platform of my modest size! I think there was a really strong sense of support and community during this time too.
Looking back at my beauty favourites, there's one product that stands out immediately - the Becca x Jaclyn Champagne Face Collection (discontinued) | throwback review. I absolutely loved that palette and used it almost every single day and whenever I travelled that palette came with me. I was also obsessed with my custom eyeshadows from brands like Makeup Geek, Anastasia Beverly Hills and MAC. I hit pan on some of those shades in just a year and did an overview of my big palette here. I don't use them as much these days and I definitely went a bit nuts purchasing shades online that maybe weren't exactly my thing once they arrived, however I still really like a lot of them. It was also the year of the liquid lipstick and I definitely had a few too many of those! Whilst I still use a couple of formulas, I reach more for my traditional lipsticks these days. My absolute favourites were from ColourPop (their Ultra Satin formula) and Gerard Cosmetics (still love these!) and you can check out an old post I did of my Top 7 here. I think I had a pretty stable skincare routine throughout 2016 and didn't really stray from the favourites I established the year before and I don't feel like I was trying as much new stuff as I started to later on.
- 2017 -
2017 was still a really great year for blogging, though I definitely noticed community activities like Twitter chats become less popular whilst many of the bloggers I know had switched to just focusing on Instagram. I think there were definitely two camps in the community at this time and maybe there still kind of are! There were the influencers doing the Instagram brows, the very matte full-coverage base, the heavy contour and the overlined lips, then there was the backlash to that - the 'I'm barely wearing makeup and have amazing skin' influencers who focused on skincare and maybe popped on a bit of lip and cheek tint. I have always felt somewhere in the middle but I do think this was a time when I think I started moving towards sharing more skincare content and trying more products. Retrospectively, I think it was a bit much for my skin to keep trying new things and changing my routine - these days I am very particular in terms of what skincare PR I'll accept and if I try something and it isn't for me; I'll just pass it on and move back to my usual routine instead of feeling like I needed to fully test and review every single product I received.
I definitely got swept into the 'minimal makeup' world for everyday wear in 2017. I didn't really feel the need to wear my signature winged liner every day and I discovered Glossier! ( check out some reviews here) I even got asked to be a rep for the brand, which was super exciting, even though it was short-lived as they decided they were unable to support UK-based reps. I really enjoyed the fresh-faced look and had finally accepted I could wear 'dewy' makeup and I still feel like I prefer light coverage during the day. It was definitely the year of getting into easy, fresh makeup for me. 2017 was also the year the Ordinary launched, which felt like such an exciting time as it made amazing skincare ingredients so much more accessible so I did regular reviews of their products (take a look here).
- 2018 -
2018 was the year I really did notice that the blogging world was in decline, which is definitely something that makes me kind of sad - between the decline in engagement on my blog itself and the Instagram algorithm leading to a big drop in interaction on that platform, it was a strange time for me. Although people were still viewing my blog, for whatever reason they weren't interacting with the content and I wasn't sure people were even seeing my Instagram posts! It was all a bit disheartening... However I asked myself if I still enjoyed it and I absolutely still felt passionate about blogging so decided to continue. Instagram is something I'm still ambivalent of - I appreciate a presence there is needed but creating original content for it is incredibly time-consuming and people either don't see it or don't want to engage with it. But that's probably a discussion best kept for another day!
In terms of beauty products - I decided I wanted to take my blog in a clear direction, meaning fewer hauls and collective reviews and more focus on individual products I felt people would be interested in. This was kind of as a response to the crazy levels of consumerism I was seeing on YouTube and I just felt like I wanted to take a more measured approach to things - I discussed my feelings in some depth in this post. I definitely got more into skincare, though I obviously still love makeup! I guess I just embraced that I don't necessarily need to fit into a very narrow, defined aesthetic and that I was happy sharing what I enjoyed - whether that was a colourful eyeshadow palette from an indie makeup brand or a minimalist skincare range I found on Instagram. I used my Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Glam Eyeshadow Palette* | full review | to death and still do love it! Looking at my favourites for 2018 (take a look here) - I have everything from a blinding Ofra highlighter to Fresh Beauty skincare and I think that just feels very authentically 'me'.
- 2019: TODAY -
So, what does the future hold...? Well, I still love creating my blog content but Instagram is proving to be difficult. I just have so much going on in my life at the moment with friends, family, a relationship, a new job I'm setting into, a book I'm trying to write... something has to give! At the end of the day - I love to write and even if the blogging world is a sinking ship; I will keep doing it as long as I enjoy it. I've never been some amazing product photographer and creating Instagram content is so time-consuming for the little I'm getting out of it in terms of engagement but also enjoyment.