Max vs Min Makeup Challenge Using the Same Products

Hey guys! So I’ve seen this max vs. min makeup challenge going around when you do a makeup look that’s very minimalist and then one that very… maximalist? Basically, a simple look and a ‘more is more’ look. To challenge myself I wanted to use the same makeup products to show that you can do a lot using the same products.

So for my maximum look, I decided to use one of my products of the month, the Alamar Cosmetics Reina Del Caribe Vol.1 Eyeshadow Palette. I did a colourful makeup look using the yellow, orange and green shade. I did a big wing and put on a big lash.

On my base, I used a full coverage foundation. I applied a lot of blush and highlight. And I also applied some faux freckles because more is more haha.

I finished off the look with a bright orange-red lip. I used my favourite NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment in the shade Light My Fire. This shade is bright and just screams over the top.

Products I used for both looks

For my minimalist look, I used less of everything. On the eyes, I only used a bit of the yellow shade in the Alamar Cosmetics palette. Then I applied a healthy amount of my Lancome Monsieur Big mascara.

For my base, I applied less of my powder, which was the Hourglass Transculent Veil Setting Powder. This allows my natural glow to shine through. I did apply a good amount of my Alamar Cosmetics Blush because I find blush makes me look healthy.

Finally, I used the same NARS lipstick. I just used a little bit to create this sheer lip tint! I love that this lipstick is versatile enough that I can create two different looks using the same lipstick.

Let me know in the comments which of the two looks are your favourite! I typically wear the minimalist on a daily basis but there is just something about full glam that makes me happy!

xoxo

Lea

I tried Tik Tok Beauty Hacks

Hey guys! Like everyone else these days I am obsessed with Tik Tok. So I decided to try three different hacks/tutorials from the app. It’s fine to try new things, and maybe some of these will  work!

1. Foundation Hack

The first hack is from the user Ridaaamat. I have seen a bunch of people use her sound and had a friend ask me to try this out (so Maddie this is for you!). The trick is to powder your face and set it with setting spray before going in with primer and foundation. The trick is supposed to make makeup last longer and not crease.

When I first did this I was skeptical. My makeup didn’t look at that different, and in certain areas it looked like it was sitting on top of my skin. Now I used a dewy primer, so I am curious if a pore filling primer would make a difference. But overall I don’t think it make my foundation look at great.

BUT I am so impressed but how long it makes my foundation last. I used the Bite Beauty Changemaker foundation, which in my review I mentioned that I don’t find it very long lasting. Well this has done wonders. After six hours my makeup still looks great. My bronzer and blush are still there and my highlight it still popping.

I decided to try this technique again to see if using a different primer and foundation would make a difference. The same thing happened where my makeup was sitting on top of my skin. I think it’s because the powder makes a layer on the skin. It helps it last longer but also looks cakey in the process.

So would I do this hack again? Maybe. I will not be using everyday because I don’t love the way to makes my foundation look up close. But if I need my makeup to last all day then maybe I would use this technique.

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Here is the Foxy Eyes and the first time I tried the foundation hack.

3. Foxy Eyes

Now this trend is not only on Tik Tok. But I saw Ruzanna Smbatyan posted a tutorial that I was thought was straightforward enough for me to follow. The look involves having a straight brow and then a wing with a pointed inner corner. There is a gap between the inner corner and outer wing. Now I have a lot of mixed feeling about this look.

First, I didn’t do straight brows. I like my brow shape and I’m not about to shave off my tails to be able to change them for this look. But I think that the way my eyebrows and eyes are shape make this look a little weird. My eyebrow tail and wing are very close together, which doesn’t create the full effect. So while I do like the look, I think I would like the look better if my eyebrows were shaped different.

Doing wings on hooded every is always difficult. I either use liquid for a bold wing or shadow for a baby wing. So it was somewhat difficult for me to do the wing. But I love the inner corner triangle. I think it added drama to my eyes and made them look more almond shaped.

I also liked not having a line in the middle on my lid. Because of my hooded eyes, sometimes liner can take up the whole lid. Without it, I was able to just add mascara and still have a dramatic look.

Overall I do like the look and my mom even complimented me on it! I think in the future I would use a darker shade that matches my hair colour for a more cohesive look.

Photo 2020-04-10, 11 29 31 AM
Here is my hair an hour after taking out the curls and my second time trying the foundation hack

3. No heat curled hair

I have seen multiple videos of people using a bathrobe to curl their hair. The idea is to wrap your hair around the bath robe belt and leave it over night. It is supposed to create beautiful, heatless curls.

Now I have naturally wavy/curly hair that is also pretty thick. I tried this hack on second day hair to see if it could revive my curls. So I wrapped my hair and went to sleep. While it wasn’t necessarily uncomfortable to sleep in, but neck did hurt the next day haha.

So I unwrapped my hair and it worked on one side but not the other. I guess I didn’t wrap it tight enough on the one side. But almost three hours later the curls were gone.

Now I think this hack isn’t bad, but isn’t meant for my hair type. My hair curls okay naturally (I’m working on that!) and holds a curl from heat well. When I braid my hair it doesn’t do hold after though.

I’m saying this hack is a fail for my hair type but it might work for others. I rather just wear my hair natural or curl it myself than do this hack again haha.

And those are some hacks tested! Let me know if there are any other hacks you think I should try, I had so much fun doing this! Also check out my Tik Tik (@leeleexoxoxo) to see some videos of these hacks!

xoxo

Lea

5-Minute Makeup Routine

Hey guys! Today I am sharing my 5-minute makeup routine. Before quarantine, I sometimes would snooze my alarm to the last minute before class. I needed to do my makeup fast to get to class on time. So I perfected my fast makeup routine. Well nowadays sometimes I want to look put together for video conference calls, but I don’t want to spend all that much time doing it. Enter my 5-minute makeup routine again! I also filmed a TikTok tutorial if you want to see some visuals (I will also post the video to my Instagram). A lot of these products are drugstore as well!

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First I go in with primer. Using a dewy primer like the Dr. Brandt Pores No More Luminizer Primer. This helps me look fresh-faced and wake. I apply like liberally all over my face.

Next, I go in with concealer. I skip foundation and apply more to my cheeks because that’s where I had some redness. I also make sure to blend it over my eyelids because I don’t have time for eyeshadow. Recently I have been using the Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define concealer. For a more in-depth review, you can check out my testing drugstore concealers post.

Apply applying cremes it’s time to set the face. I find it’s faster to use a pressed powder when I’m in a hurry. The Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless is still creamy enough that I don’t look too flat or cakey. But it helps my makeup stay on my face and lasts longer.

After putting on my powder it’s time to put on my only eye product – mascara. The Covergirl Exhibitionist Mascara gives me thick and voluminous lashes so I don’t feel like I’m missing eyeshadow. I also make sure to take the extra seconds to curl my lashes to make them look extra long.

Next is brows. I am obviously using my ride-or-die eyebrow pencil, the ABH Brow Wiz. I have naturally thick brows, so I can do them pretty quickly. I have a scar that cuts into my left eyebrow, so that’s the only spot I have to fill in. I also find having my brows done helps cut down on the amount of time it takes to do my brows. My brow lady does a really good job of shaping them, so I don’t have to do as much work. My brows have grown out since going into quarantine, so it does take a little longer. But no one can tell over Zoom anyways.

Now I move back to my face. I skip bronzer and use a healthy amount of blush. I have been loving the Milani Powder Blush in Tea Rose. It was my product of the month in February and I think it gives such a nice flush. I also make sure to apply some to my nose to make it look more natural again.

Next, I apply highlight. The Maybelline Master Chrome in Molten Rose Gold matches the blush well. I also apply some to my inner corner. It helps me look more awake and bring attention to my eyes.

I spray a healthy amount of the NYX Dewy Finish Setting Spray. This helps melts the powders into my face. It also helps my makeup last longer. I usually fan my face or take my sponge and press it into my face to help set everything in.

Finally, it’s time to add a lip. I change my lip depending on what I’m wearing or how I’m feeling. In my video, I applied the Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk lipstick. It’s similar to my natural lip shade. It also matches the blush really well.

And that is my full face! It might seem like a lot, but if I’m not distracted I can definitely do this in five minutes. And if you don’t think you can do it that fast, practice! Being at home is a great time to play with makeup. Practice now when you have more time means you’ll be able to do it quickly when you don’t.

Also, let me know in the comments what you include or do in your five-minute routine!

xoxo

Lea

14 things to do inside during the pandemic

Hey guys! Today I am sharing a list of things you can do while quarantined/social distancing! My school has now been moved online, my work is closed for the next three weeks and my yoga studio is closed. So since I will not be leaving my house for the foreseeable future. I am sure many of you are either in quarantine or social distancing, but might have more free time than me (I still have assignments to do 😢). I have created a list of fun things you can do indoors.

1. Clean

  • Now is a great time to clean out your closet, fridge, pantry, etc. Get a head start on that spring cleaning.
  • Make sure to also clean surfaces that are used frequently, especially if you are living with other people

2. Bake

  • Baking can be very therapeutic. It often involves ingredients that you already have in your pantry like flour, sugar, baking powder, etc.
  • Try making breads. They can be very time-consuming, so it can be a good way to spend an afternoon.

3. Read

  • Now is a great time to read that has been sitting on your self.
  • Reading allows you to escape what is going on while also using your brain!

4. Watch Netflix

  • This one is pretty obvious. If you are like me, you might have a long list of shows that you have been wanting to watch. Now is a great time to get through that list.
  • Try watching a movie from a different genre every night! Or try a documentary so you can learn something new.

5. Do some art

  • Art is a great way to relax and de-stress. You don’t even need to get art supplies if you don’t own any, just using a pencil or pen can work.
  • Try following along to a Bob Ross video. His voice is so soothing.

6. Do a puzzle

  • Puzzles are a great way to stimulate the mind and keep you focused one task.
  • Sudoku is my favourite, but there are also jigsaw puzzles, word searches or logic games.

7. Board game night

  • If you live with people, break out the board games! A simple game of Monopoly can take up almost four hours.
  • If you play Uno, keep track of the scores. Whoever loses has to do something like make dinner that night.

8. Have a self-care spa sessions

  • Take a bath, do a face mask, paint your toes. Whatever relaxes you.

9. Play some video games

  • I have been plays Sims the past couple of days, it’s my favourite video game.
  • Play with others if you can! Do a Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros tournament.

10. Do an at home workout

  • There are so many different workouts available on Youtube. I am currently doing the Blogilates 14 Quarantine challenge.
  • Working out with give you a rush of endorphins and help cheer you up.

11. Go on a walk in nature

  • Going on a walk outside will help you feel like stuck and the sunshine can help boost your mood.
  • Walking in nature can help reduce the odds of seeing someone else. Bring your dog if you have one!

12. Pick up a new skill or hobby

  • Now is a great time to try or practice a new skill or hobby. It could be learning a new language or a new instrument.
  • Practising for an hour each day could really help you improve that skill!

13. Try something on Pinterest

  • Whether it’s a recipe or diy project, it can be fun to do something with your hands.
  • Share the results. Whether it was a success or failure, it will be helpful for others to see the results!

14. Call your friends and family

  • This is a very stressful time for everyone. Reach out to people can chat with them 💖

Let me know in the comments what you guys are doing during this time! Stay safe my friends!

xoxo

Lea

Easy Holiday Glam

Hey guys! Today I have a super easy tutorial to create an easy holiday look. This look requires NO FALSE LASHES and is only six easy steps. I think this look is perfect for family gatherings because it has a little sparkle but it’s not too over the top. This look is simple enough that I think anyone could do it! I used my palette of the month, the Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Glam, to create this look but any neutral palette would do.

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The first step after prepping the eyes is to apply a light brown all across the crease. I used the shade Burnt Orange to do this.

Photo 2019-12-05, 11 05 37 PM

Next I deepen the crease by using a slight darker shade. I used the shade Rustic to do this. I concentrated this in the outer half of my eye.

Photo 2019-12-05, 11 07 02 PM

Now to brighten the eye up, I applied Tempera all over the lid. This shade has some light shimmer to it, but a matte shade would also work. I used concealer underneath and did a half-cut crease to make it look really bright, but just applying the shade over top of the other shades works as well.

Photo 2019-12-05, 11 07 59 PM

Next is the sparkle. I added Fairy, or any light gold shade, all over my inner corner. I brought this shade really high up to really brighten my eyes. I added a little gold glitter on top to really make it pop, but this is just extra. I used the Appeal Cosmetics Gold Liquid Eyeshadow.

Photo 2019-12-05, 11 29 58 PM

To finish off the eyes, I applied Cyprus Umber along my lash line. Then I applied a ton of mascara. I also applied just a little Burnt Orange under the eyes as well.

Photo 2019-12-05, 11 28 10 PM

Then I finished my face makeup and applied a red lip – because it isn’t an holiday look without a red lip 😉 I used the MAC matte lipstick in the shade Russian Red.

And that is my easy holiday glam! The red lip can be switched out for a nude to make it a more regular glam look as well. Let me know if you want to see a part two, maybe for New Years Eve?

xoxo

Lea

Easy Halloween Makeup Looks

Hey guys! So today I am sharing two simple Halloween makeup looks. I have a third one planned but it didn’t turn out how I wanted it too. But hey that’s life sometimes! Both of these looks I did with regular makeup, so it is easy to replicate! I also included some step-by-step pictures to help you guys out a bit.

First is a scarecow! I think this is a great last minute costume, because all that is needed is some plaid and jeans along with the makeup to create the look.

  1. So first step is to do the eyes. I used Colourpop’s Orange You Glad palette, but any orange shadow or even a blush would do the job.
  2. Next time I did my base makeup, applied bronzer and highlight, and did my brows.
  3. Then I added a bunch of faux freckles all over my face. Both eyeshadow or brow pomade can work for doing faux freckles. I used ABH Dipbrow Gel.
  4. After applying the freckles, it’s time to turn this into a scarecrow! I applied orange shadow onto the apples of my cheeks and on my nose.
  5. I outlined the orange on my nose and added some lines to make it look like a batch. I also drew a line from the corner of my mouth to my hairline.
  6. To finish the look off, I had crosshatches along the mouth line and added a lip!

The second look I did is a sugar-plum fairy. It is possible to change the colour palette and make it into a different type of fairy.

  1. First is to start with the base already one, since the shadow is being elongated. I applied a purple shadow in my crease and smoked it out a lot to create a dramatic effect. I used the Huda Beauty Amethyst Obsessions palette to do this.
  2. Next I applied a glittery shadow all over the lid.
  3. I applied the same purple to the lower lashline, and then a sparkly blue in the inner colour. I finished off with adding black along my lash line for my false lashes.
  4. I finished the eyes by applying false lashes. I put white in my waterline. If I had white mascara I would have used this on my lower lashes, but I just used white liquid liner and it did a similar effect.
  5. To finish off the look I went crazy on glitter. I applied it liberally to my face. I also applied faux freckles with white eyeliner. I finish the look with a super pale nude lip to not detract from the eyes, but a colourful lip would also be fun.

And those are my two Halloween makeup ideas! Let me know if you guys like this format of doing instructional posts, and if you would like to see more! Also let me know what you’re being for Halloween in the comments down below 🙂

xoxo

Lea

Hair Care Routine + Products

Hey guys! Today’s post is inspired by the fact that when I told my friends I use blue shampoo, none of them knew what that was! So I will be sharing all the products I use on my hair on a regular basis. I just want to preface by giving you guys a little hair story. I have pretty thick hair and it’s naturally curly. My curls have slowly died over the years, probably through a combination of excessive chlorine and dyeing it. I started dyeing my hair only three years ago. I am currently dyeing it slightly darker than my natural hair colour. And finally it is really susceptible to getting dry/damaged looking.

hair care 2019

My favourite shampoo and conditioner brand is Tresemme. I find it to be a step up than other drugstore brands, but still cheaper than high end brands. When I have my hair freshly coloured I used their Keratin Smooth Colour line, but I have used many of their other lines before. I really like that they have bigger bottles because I go through a lot of shampoo and conditioner since I have a lot of hair.

Now when I recently went darker, I asked my hairdresser how to keep my hair from going brassy. It’s not just blondes that suffer from brassiness. When my colour starts to fade, I find that there is an orange quality that peeps through my hair. My hairdresser recommended to try blue shampoo and conditioner. Blondes use purple to cancel yellowness, but brunettes can use blue to cancel our orange. I use the Joico Colour Balance Blue Shampoo and Conditioner. I use this about one a week and I notice such a huge difference in my hair colour. It really does help cancel out the brassiness and makes my hair colour look fresh again.

One more shampoo recommendation is the Paul Mitchell Shampoo Three. If you swim in chlorine water, you need this shampoo. If you guys didn’t know, I work as a lifeguard. When I was in high school I was in the pool around five times a week. The chlorine absolutely killed my hair, so I looked for a solution and found this shampoo. It does such an amazing job and getting all of the chlorine out of my hair. I will use this shampoo and a deep conditioning mask to save my hair. I don’t go in the pool as often anymore, but I keep this product around for when I do.

I like to deep condition my hair around once a week as well. I will put the mask in my hair and let it sit for 5 minutes at least, I usually shave my legs while I wait. The mask I am currently using is the L’Oreal Dream Lengths Saviour Mask. It’s a pretty good mask, definitely leaves my hair feeling softer and shinier after. Another good drugstore brand for hair masks is Garnier.

After I wash my hair and towel it off I like to apply a hair serum, focusing on the ends of my hair. I find that the ends are definitely where my hair gets the most dry, so adding an oil helps keep them strong and healthy. I am currently using the L’Oreal Total Repair 5 Cica Creme, which is meant for breakage and split ends. It’s less of an oil and more like a creamy liquid, but it still does a good job.

Finally I apply a hair mousse to helps give my curls shape and then leave my hair to air dry. People are always shocked when I tell them I don’t blow dry my hair. But blow drying my hair gets rid of my curls, plus my hair is damaged enough I don’t need to add heat damage on top of it haha! I am still on the hunt for the best hair mousse. A good drugstore one is the Tresemme Flawless Curls Mousse. I am currently using the Amika The Perfect Body Whipped Mousse, which I think they changed or reformulated or got rid of I’m not sure. On the website they have the Plus Size Perfect Body Mousse. This one is pretty good, but I think a mousse specifically designed for curls would be better. If you guys have any mousse recommendations for curly hair please let me know!

And that is my everyday hair care routine. I do sometimes curl or straighten my hair, but this is what I do on a more average basis! Hope you guys found this useful 🙂

xoxo

Lea

 

I Went on a Contiki Trip! ~ European Encounter 2019

Hey guys! So today I am talking about my trip to Europe. I have mentioned before that I went to Europe for two and a half weeks in May, but I don’t think that I explained that I actually did a Contiki trip! In my post I’m going to explain everything about Contiki and my trip. And the end I will also give some general tips about travelling in Europe.

What is Contiki?

Contiki is a travel tour group designed for 18-35 year olds. They first started in Europe but now run tours all around the world. The tours vary in length, from 10 days to a month or more. They have more that 140 trips in Europe, so you basically just pick where you want to go and they organize everything for you. You travel with around 30-40 other people on a coach bus. They organize all the hotels and around half of the meals for you. On top of that, there are some included activities along with a bunch of add-on activities that you can do (which I will break down below).

Contiki, along with other travel groups for young people, have a reputation as being a party-bus. They are known as just being 18-22 year-old, mainly Australians, just getting drunk the whole time. Contiki is also known for being high-pace, with barely any time in the locations you are going to. Also some of the accommodations are not the greatest. I learned all of this through reading reviews on the website and also reading other blog posts.

So why did I choose Contiki? I was travelling by myself. All my friends were either still in school, too broke to travel or travelling other places. I decided that I didn’t want to wait all my life to travel, so now was the time. Of course my parents were extremely worried about me travelling by myself, so we settled on me doing a group travel trip. I choose Contiki because despite its reputation and a few bad reviews, the majority of the reviews were amazing. I also liked the trips they had compared to their competitor, Topdeck.

My Trip

I did European Encounter in May 2019. I went to ‘ten’ (really nine because we only drove through Belgium) countries in 17 days. I was abroad for 18 days because I stayed another day in London after.

My trip was: start in London, Amsterdam for two days, Berlin for two days, Prague for two days, Salzburg for one day, Venice for one day, Rome for two days, Florence for one day, Cinque Terre for one day, Luzern for one day, Paris for two days and then back to Paris. I had the most amazing time in Europe, it was one of the best experiences of my life.

I really liked the route and the layout of my trip. Obviously there are still some places I would like to see, but I felt that I was able to see a lot of Europe. The three cities I felt that I didn’t have enough time in were London, Paris and Rome. T be fair these are some of the biggest cities in the world so it’s hard to see everything in two days. I think the trip was also good at picking out which cities we should days to spend one day in versus two days. For example, Venice is so small that I think if we had spent two days there I would have been bored.

Now to address the ‘reputation’ of Contiki. For some reason, there are a lot of Australians and New Zealanders who go on Contiki trips, and my trip was no exception. But there was a nice mixture. There was six other Canadians, six Americans, a couple from South Africa, and a girl from India. So I would say only half our of group was Aussies and Kiwis. The other thing was the average age of people on our trip was older than others. A few people on my trip had done Contiki before, and they said that our trip was older and more tame compared to the other trips they had done. I would say the average age was probably 23 or 24. There were a few 19-20 years olds and a few 30 year olds, but most people on this trip were around my age or older. There was also a lot of couples on this trip, six to be exact! Almost half the people on my trip were in relationships, which I think helped tame things down. We all liked to party and have fun, but it was not an every night type of thing. I think that the length of the trip and the destinations we were going to, along with the time of year, drew in a older group. All of this was fine by me because I wanted to have fun, but I didn’t want to be hung over every day.

I think the people were really the stand out part of Contiki. I liked the majority of the people on my trip. It was so cool to talk to people from all over the world. Not only was I learning about Europe on the trip, but also all the places people were from. I am so surprised with how close I got with some of the people on the trip, I am definitely planning to visit some of them soon!

The other great people on the trip were my trip manager and driver. A trip manager can really make or break a trip, and we got lucky with an amazing trip manager. The nice thing about doing a tour group besides solo travelling is that you have someone there on the trip whose job is to give you recommendations and make sure you are having a good time. My trip manager was amazing at giving good recommendations, and was very quick to solve any issues we were having.

Hotels

Contiki has options to stay either in hotels, hostels or camping. Call me a princess, but I personally wanted to stay in hotels. I know hostels are cheaper and some of them are really nice, but since I didn’t have a say where we were staying I thought that the hotel option would be better. I noticed that some of the reviews were quite negative about accommodations, so I was a little worried going into it.

Overall I would say that I was pleasantly surprised. I would say everywhere but Italy – with the exception of Rome – we stayed in pretty decent places. I noticed that generally the nicer the places, the further away from the city centre we were. For example, my favourite hotels were in Amsterdam and Rome which were super far from the city centre. But in some cities, like Berlin and Prague, we were closer to the centre so it really varied city to city. The hotels in Italy were generally the worst, but they weren’t awful. They were only bad because they were really outdated.

The worst hotel was the one in Florence. We stayed in the Albergo Auto Park, and honestly don’t ever go there. When I first walked into the room it smelled so strongly of cigarette smoke, it was disgusting. I went down to the front desk and mentioned it, and they basically said just open the windows. Then as I was trying to take pictures of my room, I heard through the super thin walls that some had found bed bugs. We were all staying on the same floor, so every on the trip immediately panicked and looked for bed bugs. Luckily no one else found any, and the hotel was good enough to switch the guys who found bed bugs to a different room. The rooms were tiny, and everything was outdated except for the bathroom. The bathroom was redone, but they had done a pretty crappy job. Overall, I think you could find better places in Florence then this place.

A final note on hotels/accommodations. I had paid extra to get a single room, since I was travelling by myself I wanted my own space. But if you were travelling with other people they were really good about it. They had friends room together, and all the couples were able to get rooms together. The only funny thing was that I often got better rooms than the couples. For example, in Europe it’s cheaper to have two single beds pushed together than an actual double bed. So I would often have a double bed while the couples had two singles. But overall it wasn’t a huge difference in quality of the rooms.

Below I have a slideshow of all the pictures of the rooms that we stayed at. I have included the names of the hotels and also just my thoughts, in case you are looking for places to stay.

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Activities

As a part of Contiki, there are some included experiences along with a list of ‘free-time add ons’. These free-time activities are not free though, you do have to pay. Some of our included experiences were a number of dinners, which you would get free food but would have to pay for any drinks. The quality of these dinners would vary, but overall pretty good. Some of the other included activities were a bike ride in Edam (small town outside of Amsterdam) and in Prague, a bunch of free walking tours, a leather demonstration, a Swiss watch demonstration and a perfumery tour.

The free-time add ons basically feel into three categories: dinners, tours or others. There were six dinners, and I did half of them. I didn’t do all the dinners because I had heard mixed reviews online and they were expensive. The nice thing about the dinners is that the alcohol is included and endless, so you can really get your money’s worth if you drink a lot. The food at the dinners were generally above average but not the best I’ve ever had. The nice thing is that they always feed you a lot, I never left those dinners hungry. For choosing what dinners to go to, I would recommend picking the ones that you think you would like the food the best. I did both of the Italian ones but passed on the Dutch, Czech and Austrian ones.

The tours are generally ones that are above your average walking tour. Some of them had food included, like in Berlin and in Venice. In Rome, to go into the Vatican and Colosseum we had to pay, but the nice thing is that we got to skip the lines. As a history person I would definitely recommend these tours, because I got to learn so much from them.

The final type of add ons were the ones that were unique to the cities but super cool experiences. In Amsterdam there was a canal cruise, in Venice a gondola ride and in Switzerland a lake cruise and a ride up to the top of a mountain. These were some of the best experiences I had on my whole trip. They are not things you can do anywhere else in the world, and so it was so cool to do it. The canal cruise in Amsterdam was such an amazing way to see the city, and we also had an open bar! Going to the top of a mountain in Switzerland was super fun to do, because for a lot of my friends it was their first time seeing snow!

The final thing I liked about these add-ons is that the fact that you are doing them with your group. Yes it’s possible to find your own restaurants or book some of these tours yourself, but it can be hard to do with a big group. The nice thing is that you are with all the new friends you have made. When trying to decided what activities to do, I would just pick what interests you. I would say the majority of the add-ons were worth it, and I enjoyed them.

Overall Thoughts and Recommendations on Contiki

I friggin loved Contiki, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. Contiki is definitely meant for extroverted people. Yes it’s possible to leave the group and do your own thing, but you are still spending many hours on a bus or at dinners together with these people. Most of the time you get about an hour in the hotel sometime during the day to freshen up, and then whatever time at night before you go to bed by yourself. You are with people 24/7, so if that’s not your thing, then Contiki can be very draining.

Contiki is also very fast-paced. We stayed a max of two days in a city before moving onto the next one. It can be very tiring to constantly be moving. While I was sad that my trip was over, I was definitely started to get burnt out by the end. If on your holiday you want to spend more time in one place, then Contiki isn’t the way to go.

I think I should also mention that on Contiki you do spend a fair amount of time on a bus. There are some large distances between places that can take a time to cross. I personally didn’t mind the busing. My cottage is 7 hours away, so I have no problem sitting in a car all day. I also spend most of the time talking to my friends or playing games – one of my friends brought a card game and we would play multiple games a day. I also watched a few movies. My trip manager was also great at using this time to talk to us about the places we were going to. You can also nap on the bus as well. I would just recommend bringing some ways to keep yourself entertained on the bus and also some stuff for motion sickness if you are prone to that.

Something I didn’t do, but a lot of my friends did was add time in a city before or after their trip. I would definitely recommend this. People either came a few days before and toured London, or stayed after in Paris or London. Because we didn’t really stay much in London, this is the only way to really see the city. It can also be nice to actually stay put somewhere after moving around for so long. I would personally recommend doing this after the trip, because then you can hang out with the people on your trip if they happen to be doing the same thing. Some of my friends were stayed in London after, so I was able to hang out with them the one extra day I add.

General Europe Travel Trips

In North America, it is way more popular to use cards to pay for everything but that is not the case in Europe. Definitely bring cash and use it. Especially for paying meals, it’s way easier to use cash because they don’t split the bill. What happened is that usually either everyone would pay cash, or one person would pay the full bill with their card and everyone would pay them back. This happened quite often with Ubers and cabs as well.

Try and get a good data plan. While in North America there is wifi almost everywhere, wifi isn’t that great in Europe. Even in hotels it can be crappy. It is way easier to have data to be able to get Ubers, look up directions, look up places to eat, etc.

My two favourite places were Berlin and Prague. I liked Berlin because there is so much history but there is also such a fun party scene as well. All of the Holocaust/WW2/Cold War museums are free, so it is really easy to learn about their history. In Berlin, I highly recommend going to karaoke because it was so much fun. I really liked Prague because it was pretty and cheap. Prague has a very cohesive look to it, so it feels like you are back in time. Prague is also really cheap, so you can go out and eat well while you are there.

If you want to do shopping, Prague is a pretty good place to go because it’s so cheap. If you are looking to get makeup, I would definitely recommend France especially French brands because they are way cheaper than back home.

I don’t have a ton of restaurant recommendations, but I would recommend Lokal in Prague, Ristorante Wanted in Rome (right near the Colosseum) and Carluccios in London for brunch.

But ya that was my trip! This was honestly the trip of a life time, and I definitely have caught the travel bug now! Can’t wait to go somewhere else! If you guys have any questions about any of the places that I went to just let me know and I have answer them/offer some suggestions 🙂

Lea

What I Packed on my 2+ Week Trip to Europe during Spring

Hey guys! So this next week I will be sharing what I packed on my two and a half week trip to Europe! The next two posts on my blog are going to be all about my trip. On Friday I will be sharing what I packed in my makeup and toiletries bag, and then next Tuesday I will be about my actual trip!

I decided to write this post because I personally researched online what to bring with me, but I struggled to find a spring specific post. I was gone during May and was in both the North and South of Europe, so I had to pack for different climates. I was also pretty unlucky that it was unseasonably cold in a few places, so if I could have changed anything I would have brought more long sleeves and less t-shirts!

So just to let you know, I am going to explain everything I bought, and give some suggestions/things I would change. At the end of my post I will have a list of everything I bought, so you can always just scroll down and check that if you want!

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First, I wanted to mention that I found my suitcase at Winners for only $100! If you are looking for suitcases, I highly would recommend going there. I really liked the one I got because it was a front open instead of opening in half, so it took up less space in my room. I also liked this one because the print made it stand out compared to all the black suitcases. This suitcase also matched the size restrictions I had. Beside this suitcase, I also brought a backpack and a backpack purse. Also when I was coming home I brought a tote bag on the plane.

There was a bunch of stuff I bought for my trip, because I have never travelled abroad to Europe before. I bought a power adapter in order to charge my electronics. I got a sleeping mask that also came with ear plugs. I didn’t use it but it was pretty inexpensive and I had a friend borrow it anyways. Next I bought some bed bug stuff because I had read a few negative reviews online about the places we were staying, and I thought it was better to be safe than sorry. I did use the bed bug trap in one hotel, but I never used the pillow.

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Next up I bought travel locks and I would highly recommend getting some. I used them on both my suitcase and my backpack purse. If a hotel didn’t have a safe in the room I would always lock my suitcase before leaving. It was also much safer in busy crowds to have the lock on my backpack purse.

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I brought with me a microfiber hair towel along with full body microfiber/Sham-Wow-esque towel. I got the microfiber hair towel at Walmart in the spa section and I used it a ton. A lot of the hotel didn’t have a good sized hair towel, so it was useful to just have my own. I only used my full size towel once, most of the hotels had nice towels. I also brought it to go swimming, but it wasn’t warm enough so I didn’t use it for that. I got my towel awhile ago from a swimming store. I would recommend bringing microfiber towels because they are smaller than normal ones but are very useful. I also brought a face towel (not shown) because sometimes I feel guilty getting makeup all over the hotel’s white towels, but I’m fine with getting my own personal towel dirty.

I definitely recommend getting luggage tags. I got these cute Canada ones from Winners. If you have plain suitcase they can help make your suitcase stand out. I got a two pack of Cottenelle wipes just in case, but I didn’t use them at all. I wish that I had brought wet wipes instead of these, especially since they were so bulky and took up a lot of room in my suitcase. I also brought two travel blankets with me. I probably should have just brought one, but I am really happy that I brought it. I used it at night if the duvet cover looked gross, but also on the bus to take naps.

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I brought a ton of candy and snacks with me, and ended up buying a ton more there. I brought some Fuzzy Peaches and M&Ms because those are my favourite. I brought a ton of gum because I am susceptible to motion sickness and I find gum helps with it. I also got these maple syrup flavoured candies. It was fun to share a piece of home with my new friends. Finally a bought a few granola and protein bars, which were useful for when I didn’t have time for breakfast.

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I definitely recommend getting some packing cubes and vacuum seal bags! I organized my clothes into categories and had a packing cube for each category; so one for shirts, one for pants, etc. The vacuum seal bags were ones that you didn’t need a machine/blow dryer for. They were pretty good at squishing down bulky items such as sweaters. I also rolled all my clothes within the packing cubes in order to fit more into each cube.

I brought with me six pairs of shoes, which was a lot. I had my Vans, a pair of Nike running shoes, a pair of rain boots, a pair of Adidas slides, my Birkenstocks and a nice pair of mules. Most days I wore either my Vans or my running shoes. I wore my slides all the time in my hotel rooms, and once in a gross shower. I didn’t wear my Birkenstocks once, but that’s because we got unlucky with bad weather. I think if you are going during early spring then pack rainboots, but by late May you should be fine and pack sandals instead of rainboots.

Besides my backpack purse I brought along this Aldo fanny pack. This fanny pack was amazing. It is both a fanny pack and a cross body bag. I would wear it as a fanny pack during the day and then as a cross body at night. It also comes with a cute little card holder!

For coats I brought three, all of which got a ton of use. I brought a raincoat, a jean jacket and a light puffer jacket. The puffer jacket was good because we had some colder days, as well being something warmer to wear at night when it cooled down. I also brought an umbrella with me as well.

Besides that, I had a few things in my backpack. I had my iPad and all of my charging cables. I brought a notebook, a travel journal and my pencil case. I had a little mini pharmacy bag which included: Tylenol, Gravol, muscle pain meds, diarrhea meds, Benadryl, medicine for yeast infections, band aids and a thermometer. I brought a bunch of stuff because I heard it can be hard to get over the counter medicine in Europe. I also brought a Brita water bottle, which was an amazing purchase. I saved so much money by not having to buy water all the time. Finally, I brought my Polaroid camera with me, which was fun but I honestly didn’t use too much and took up a ton of room in my bag.

So my ultimate Europe during Spring Packing List is:

  • packing cubes
  • seven pairs of bottoms
    • three pairs of jeans
    • three pairs of leggings
    • one pair of sweatpants
    • one skirt
  • three dresses
    • two casual, one fancy
  • two sweatshirts, one sweater, one cardigan
  • two long sleeves
  • five t-shirts, three tank tops
  • underwear, socks and bras
  • five pairs of pjs
  • six pairs of shoes
    • Vans and running shoes
    • Rain boots
    • slides and Birkenstocks
    • fancy shoes (high heels or flats)
  • three coats
    • rain jacket, jean jacket and puffer jacket
  • two purses
    • backpack and fanny pack/cross body
  • bed bugs supplies
  • bag locks
  • towels
    • hair, face and body
  • travel blankets
  • toiletries + makeup + pharmacy/medication
  • food/candy
  • adapters and charging cables
  • notebooks + pencil cases
  • travel documents

Yes, I realize that I definitely over-packed (fun fact my suitcase was overweight oops). But honestly I have just come to terms with the fact that I am an over-packer. You can take my list and adjust it to your own personal needs. Anyways, stayed tuned for Friday for my toiletries and makeup bag!

xoxo

Lea

How I Create My Blog Posts

Hello friends! Today’s post is a little different – I am sharing with you how I create my blog posts from start to finish. I thought this would be super helpful for anyone who is thinking of starting to blog, or anyone interested in the behind-the-scenes stuff of blogging. This post is actually for a class project, so that is why this post is not going up on Friday! Also a little life update: my school exams are starting this week, so I might not be posting regularly the next couple weeks. I always update when I am posting on my Instagram (@xoxoxoleelee), so make sure you check it out to keep up to date! Anyways, here are the six steps I take to create a blog post.

1. Research

I do a ton of research for this blog. I am constantly watching Youtube videos and scrolling through my Instagram feed looking for ideas. This includes looking for different products to try or different types of post to write. If you guys are interested, I could maybe write a post or just share on Instagram stories some of my favourite influencers.

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A look into my subscription feed on Youtube.

Along with Youtube and Instagram, I also read other people’s blogs as well. I am actually planning to completely re-vamp my blog this summer, so I am constantly looking at other blogs for inspiration on what I would like to change/add to my blog.

On average, I probably spend an hour or two every single day watching/reading/scrolling through social media. Now to be fair, I do thoroughly enjoy beauty and makeup content, so a lot of this is for entertainment as well.

2. Brainstorm

While I have a pretty good memory, I can’t remember all my ideas. So I create lists! I am an avid list maker, one of the many reasons why I enjoy having a bullet journal. I wrote a post last year about my bujo, but let me know if you want an updated post about this!

So I have two lists going on related to my blog. One is makeup/beauty products that I am interested in purchasing. Products generally make it onto this list after I have heard multiple good reviews about it OR it’s brand new and I am super intrigued. Whenever I go to purchase makeup, I always consult this list.

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My list for March

The second list is my blog idea list. Every month I will create a new list, moving any ideas from previous months that I have not written about yet. Whenever I get an idea, I add it to my list. Sometimes if I don’t have any ideas, I will sit down and look at my makeup collection to think of possible ideas. Another way I brainstorm is to look back at my past posts and see if there is anything I can update. For example, I try to do empties posts about once a season. So if it’s been a few months since I have done one, I will add it to my list.

3. Plan

Planning is a huge part of blogging. I don’t want to post two hauls in a row, that would be too repetitive. So I usually plan for a few weeks to a month ahead. My Boxycharm review always goes up on the last Friday of the month, which means that I have 3-4 other Fridays to plan beauty and makeup content for. Since I am still working my way up to posting twice a week, I only post on Tuesday sporadically or if I didn’t get the chance to post on Friday.

When planning I have to keep certain things in mind. First is what is going on in my personal life. For example, when I go away on vacation I try to have posts pre-written and scheduled. If I have exams I usually just take a break since I don’t have time to pre-write. I also like to look what time of the year it is. I like doing fun looks for different holidays, and I always do a Favourite Products of the Year post at the end of the year. I take all of these aspect into account when planning my content.

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A weekly plan from Feburary.

Finally, for each week I have a plan for my Instagram posts. I like to line up a post on Friday or Saturday to promote my post for that week. I will schedule the rest of my week around that post. For example, I don’t like to post two selfies in a row. So if I have two selfies that I want to post in a week, I create another post to put in between. Since I like to post between 2-4pm, I also have to keep in mind that some days I might not be able to post during that time. For example, on Tuesdays I have class till 4:30, so I don’t often have a chance to post that day.

Having a schedule/plan is helpful to make sure that I post consistently. I used to not plan and I would post all over the place. I would definitely recommend planning to anyone who wants to post more often.

4. Create Content

Now that I have an idea of what I want to post, I have to create the content for it. If I want to review products, I will make a conscious effort to try the products. If I am writing a first impressions post I will only take a day or two to test a product. If I am doing a full haul or review, I will give myself two weeks to try out products. If I don’t have to leave the house I don’t wear makeup, so it takes me a little longer sometimes to test products.

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My desk/vanity situation feat. Netflix

I often like to include a makeup look with my reviews, especially if I am testing out eye products. I don’t wear full glam every day, so I usually have to set aside an hour or two to do a look. I usually will do this in the evening, after I am finished doing homework for the night. I have my laptop with me and will watch either Youtube or Netflix as I do my makeup. After I am done I will take about a million photos haha. I personally feel like my photos can improve, but I will still share what I do for now. I turn the lights on my makeup mirror to act like a ring light. I generally take a combination of photos using both the front-facing and back-facing camera. The back-facing camera is definitely better quality, so I use that for close ups. I prefer using the front-facing camera for photos of my full face because I can more easily look at the camera, which I think makes the photos look more natural. The trick is to just take a bunch and then go through them at another time.

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Flatlay for my upcoming April Boxycharm post

The other type of photos I use are product flat lays. A flat lay is when a product is shot from directly above. This is the way I prefer to do product posts or swatches. I do all my flat lays on a bristol board that I covered with marble contact paper. I like the look of marble and it matches my blog banner. This past summer I used the marble table at my parents place, so to keep my feed looking clean and cohesive I made the backdrop.

For all my product shots I always shoot in natural day light. I haven’t figured out how to use fancy lighting, so this is just easier. Because my room doesn’t ever get direct sunlight, I can shoot at any time of the day really. I just make sure it’s not too overcast otherwise the photos look very cool toned.

I honestly don’t have a system for arranging my flat lays. I will generally stagger my products instead of having them perfectly straight, but that’s just personal preference. Sometimes it can be hard to shoot rounded items on a flat surface, so a little tip for you: I put a little bit of tissue down to help the products not move around! Then I take a bunch of photos, moving my camera around slightly or the products slight. Also to note: I shoot all my content on my iPhone 7. I don’t own a fancy camera, but I find that the back facing camera does a pretty good job!

Finally, before I post any photos or add them to my blog I edit them. For my selfies I do use Facetune, but not that much. I find that my selfies always turn out pretty yellow/warm toned, so I will go in and whiten my photos. If I have a really bad pimple or texture I will smooth it out, but that’s it for face editing. Then I go into Instagram and will edit the photos manually. Now it depends on the photo, but I generally increase brightness, turn down warmth, increase saturation, and change the highlights and shadows. Some people like to always use the same filter, but I find that editing my photos manually has the same effect.

Now that I have all my photos and ideas, it is time to write!

5. Write

Depending on the subject of the blog, I may or may not write a plan beforehand. Generally any of my blog posts that have numbered items, like this one, I will write a plan for. For my Boxycharm posts or any other product reviews I generally just follow from the photo I am attaching with the post.

My writing style has somewhat involved over the years, but I generally pretend that I am speaking to a friend as I write. This helps keep my tone conversational, since I am used to writing academically. A little funny story – so when write for school, I generally have to get rid of all contractions (like it’s and don’t) to sound more formal. I have gotten into the habit of not writing contractions when typing on my laptop, so whenever I write blog posts I often don’t use contractions. But since I want to sound conversational, I will literally go back and add conjunctions into my blog post hahaha!

Pretending that I’m speaking to a friend also helps me know what level of jargon to use. The beauty community, like any other community, has a ton of jargon that can be quite confusing. I try to stick to using basic jargon, and explaining/breaking down anything more complicated. I have actual thought of maybe doing a post breaking down a bunch of makeup/beauty community jargon – let me know if this is something you guys would be interested in!

I generally like to write posts quickly in one sitting, since I mainly use this blog as a way to practice my writing for future jobs. But I always make sure to edit my posts after. While I do like to use a conversational tone, I want my posts to make sense. It helps that I have a few friends who read my blog, so if a mistake does slip past me they usually let me know.

6. Post and Promote

After I have editing my post and adding my photos, it is time to schedule my posts. As you guys know, the majority of my posts go up on Friday at 3pm. Since I don’t have class on Fridays, I generally will write my posts in the morning and then schedule them for the afternoon. If I do have something going on that day, I will try and write the post the night before.

I also make sure to put tags on all my posts. Something I definitely want to add to my blog update is a way for people to search my posts using these tags. But for now, these tags help my content be searchable through search engines.

After my post goes live, I generally head over to Instagram and promote it there. I will do this by posting a photo on my feed and posting a story.

Finally, over the weekend I check back to reply to any comments. I will also look at the stats of my post to help me figure out if you guys liked the post or not. Stats helped me figure out Fridays were a good time to post! It is important to check these stats just in case things change.

And that is how I create a blog post from start to finish! I find it funny that I struggle to write 2000 words for a school essay but writing a 2000 word blog post was so easy haha! Thank you if you read through the whole post. I know this is a little different compared to my regular content, but let me know if you guys want to read about more behind-the-scenes stuff!

xoxo

Lea