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The Persephone Complex

DISCLAIMER

All photos are taken by me unless otherwise stated. Please don't use any photos or text from this blog without my permission. All rights reserved. Gifted items will be marked with an asterisk (*) All reviews are completely honest and all opinions are my own.



INTERVIEWS I'VE CONDUCTED

Ruby Elliot
Vilte F
Patricia Alvarado
Caitlin Skaalrud
Forsyth Harmon
Valerie Phillips

PAST ENTRIES

An Evening With Ruth Crilly And COLAB Hair
Origins Drink-Up Intensive Overnight Mask
A Real Woman: Femininity, Shame, and Power
Life Update (And A House of Fraser Giveaway!)
How I Take My Blog Photos
What's In My Make-Up Bag (On-The-Go Edition)
I Got Myself A (Essie) Sugar Daddy
The Ted Baker Perfectly Polished Gift Set
I Jumped On The Real Techniques Bandwagon
GOALDIGGER: How To Achieve More

ELSEWHERE

TABOO Magazine
Style Vulture
Hello Margaret!
SCREENQUEENS
PopCulturePuke



Layout by Swoon for the Moon. Copywright of Holly Cassell and The Persephone Complex 2014.

An Evening With Ruth Crilly And COLAB Hair

ruth crilly colab hair event

ruth crilly colab hair event

There are blogger perks, and then there are blogger perks. On the scale of blogger perks, going to an event for COLAB Hair to test out their products, drink free champagne, get your hair done by a pro session stylist, and discuss the logistics of Wagamama versus Yo Sushi with Ruth Crilly of A Model Recommends has to be right up there.

Last Thursday, after an intense catch-up dinner at TGIFridays, Little Bones and I headed to the Superdrug Beauty Studio in Cardiff's St David's, which was by now completely closed off to the public, and surrounded by a whole troop of security guards. Having given our names, we were ushered on in to the comfortably familiar venue, given a glass of champagne and instructed to enjoy ourselves. We spotted Ruth almost immediately and rushed over to congratulate her on her baby bump, and were so pleased to learn what a sweet, genuine person she is in real life. We talked about baby names and pregnancy hassles as Ruth sipped her non-alcoholic glass of Shloer, while a photographer took some snaps of us chatting.

ruth crilly colab hair event

ruth crilly colab hair event
ruth crilly colab hair event

After getting to know everybody we were gathered round for a demonstration of the new Extreme Volume Dry Shampoo, and shown all the different ways it can be used besides refreshing a greasy fringe; even Ruth got a beehive, and Little Bones got a Dita Von Teese retro demi-wave. After getting our makeovers, and our own sample to take home and play with, obviously it was time for selfies. By this point I'd had quite a bit of the free champagne, so naturally some of the photos will never see the light of day. But I had a blast, and that's what counts. 

ruth crilly colab hair event

Origins Drink-Up Intensive Overnight Mask

origins drink up intensive overnight mask


I don't know if I've ever told you guys this but...my skin is dry as hell. It's so dry that in the winter my lips, nose and forehead start to flake, and I can scrape off fingernails-full of dead skin. Gross, I know. Exfoliation is a must, and I also need to moisturise. Deeply, deeply moisturise, like my whole body is a scar I'm trying to heal. If I don't do these things, my make-up starts to look cakey and terrible, which sort of defuses the whole point of wearing make-up... 

One thing that has been helping my skin get through the winter months is the Origins Drink-Up Intensive Overnight Mask. I love Origins; their masks in particular, are outstanding. I own three of them (I'm sure I'll do another review at some point) but this one is by far my winter favourite. It smells like apricots or peaches or something like that, but isn't perfume-y at all. It smells natural and fresh and isn't overbearing when you cover your face in it. I leave it on overnight, because my skin needs it, but you can leave it on for just a few hours if you want. After using it for the first time I did notice that those little etches on my forehead that I had taken to be my first wrinkles were now completely gone. Turns out I wasn't getting old before my time, my skin was just thirsty.

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A Real Woman: Femininity, Shame, and Power

how to feel like a real woman



how to feel like a real woman
A few months ago, I was having horrible nightmares. In a grey, blurry hospital ward, I would look down at my chest and see bloodied bandages, wrapped tight around my torso, barely holding me together. I would scream in pain, and grief, and anger as I realised what had been done to me, against my will. In some versions, my breasts were completely gone; in others, they had been crudely implanted with silicone, leaving me terrified to move in case the stitches ripped. I have always been fascinated by dreams, and what they mean. It didn't take me long before I figured it out, and the dreams stopped coming.

It is a loaded issue, this "real woman" stuff. It is so intertwined with other fraught, complex concepts. Gender, and the gender-binary. Sexuality. Relationships. Love. Shame. Rejection. Body-image. Sexism. Beauty. Confidence. Self-worth. Let me define what I'm talking about here as a feeling of belonging in one's own body; of being more than enough. It is a fragile thing, and is easily taken from us. Perhaps our lovers treat us badly, or comparison has beaten us down. It can be ripped away in one fell-swoop by some cataclysmic event, or in a subtle but relentless everyday drip. However this sensation strikes, as it does to all at some point in life, it will feel as if your sexual organs have been scooped out with an ice-cream scoop and fed to the proverbial wolves. Libido disappears. Appetite dwindles. You struggle to look at your own body in the mirror, and so wrap yourself in a rudimentary cocoon of pyjamas, cardigan, blanket and duvet, so that you don't have to. It is a cold, numb, isolated time. People who approach you in this state will receive the sharp lash of your tongue, or your total indifference. The logic at work in your mind is this: I believed I was enough once, and look where that got me. Never again.

how to feel like a real woman
how to feel like a real woman

Our past selves begin to haunt us. We feel as though we have lost permission to be sexual, beautiful, or feminine, and having lost permission, shame begins to claw its icy fingers across our emotional landscape. This happens because we give away too much power. We are all quick to light up for our partners, or the hot guy who makes our coffee, yet feel somehow foolish doing it for ourselves. We love receiving sexy gifts, and feel ridiculous buying them solo. This is a dangerous mentality. With a gift there is always an element of "this is how I see you" or "this is the woman I want you to be" - even when done well, with encouragement and love. If we never do it for ourselves, we lose all input into what is essentially, our own creation as women. It has taken me a long time to realise that my femininity belongs to me, and nobody else. It isn't given to me in miniature, perishable doses every time somebody calls me princess. You have to create, nurture, and protect it, all by yourself. People will try to mould it to suit their tastes, and you must not let them. Falling in love with yourself - when it feels like you are the most unlovable creature alive - is what will save you.

That is what I had to learn for the dreams to stop coming. If I hadn't figured it out, I feel sure that I really would have woken up some day, looked down at myself, and seen a woman pieced together by someone else's desires, butchered by her own acquiescence. If there is sculpture to be made of us, let it be done with our own, patient, tender hands.

how to feel like a real woman



Life Update (And A House of Fraser Giveaway!)

house of fraser giveaway


My word, life has been getting cray. I don't think I've ever been so busy in my entire life! Admittedly, most of it is self-inflicted, so I'm not complaining. I had an amazing trip to London over the weekend, and the fabulous whirlwind of #crazybloggers keeping me busy. So far in the chat we've covered some incredible topics; adult content, blogging fame, and the "big YouTubers"; envy and inspiration, and what it's like to run a blog when you're below the breadline. It's truly a wonderful privilege to speak about these things with you each week, and I am so, SO excited to see what 2015 has in store for the chat. The kind of honesty we encourage is certainly not for everyone - and that's as it should be. Open discussion of things like fake followers is bound to ruffle a few feathers, but we think it's important to keep talking, and create a space for bloggers where the aim is not to get lots of faves or sound impressive. If you haven't joined in yet, please do - everyone is welcome. You can read more about the ethos here, but why not pop along and see for yourself? Every Thursday at 7-8pm GMT.

As the icing on the freaking cake, I was interviewed by the truly awesome Katie Oldham, aka Scarphelia, as part of her incredible post, Rise Of The Cyber Sisterhood. I can't even describe how flattered I am to be included in such a kickass bunch of humans, as one of her bloggers-to-watch in 2015. Go read it.

Right, now on to the bit you've been waiting for! I'm delighted to announce I'm hosting a little surprise giveaway with House of Fraser! Just for the hell of it, because you are such lovely followers. One lucky winner is going to get a gorgeous Linea Elderflower And Lime Luxury Gift Set. The only requirements are that you follow me on Bloglovin, and have a UK/Ireland posting address. Good luck to everyone who enters, and thank you for being the very best followers a girl could ask for.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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How I Take My Blog Photos

I've had a few recommendations for a post like this recently, and thought it would be a good time to show you how I take my blog pictures. I'm not really qualified to tell anyone how to take blog their photos, so I thought I'd just walk you through my creative process, and show you how I like to do it. I shoot all my pictures with a Canon 60D, for anyone who's wondering!

how to take blog photos


I Shoot On Manual: If you own a DSLR, shooting on manual is the best way to learn about your camera. Just by messing around on it regularly, you'll learn a lot about aperture, shutter priority, white balance, and everything else. Avoid leaving it on auto and hoping for the best, and get to know your camera instead. It's not that scary, trust me!

I Use Natural Light: I don't own any kind of lighting equipment, and almost never use flash. If I'm taking a close-up product shot, for example, I'll place the item on a bright/interesting surface (a windowsill, a magazine, even a piece of blank paper will do) and under even light, usually right by a window. If you own a point-and-shoot and can't control the pop-up flash, I used to put a sock over it, to diffuse the light! It really works. I sometimes use this tripod in dim light, as then I can take a longer exposure. When I had a compact, I used to place my camera on a stack of books!

I Flag Pictures With Sharp Focus: Focus is the first thing I look for when I'm starting to choose blog photos. Trawling through hundreds of almost-identical pictures of a mascara in order to find the ones with the sharpest focus - that will still look good once blown up to 775px wide on my blog - is a time-consuming and mind-numbingly boring activity, but I do it anyway. Call me crazy. My eyes aren't what they used to be either, which means I end up hunched over my laptop like I'm welcoming someone to Dracula's castle.

I Use PixlrPixlr is an amazing, free, online editing tool. It can do most things that Photoshop can, and won't cost you a penny. I first upload pictures to Pixlr Express, and do some quick, basic editing, such as retouching a background. Sometimes I add a filter, but dial it down so it's very opaque. After the photo is polished to perfection I'll upload it to Pixlr Editor, the more professional programme, resize it to just over my post width, and save it as a PNG file, as JPEGS lose quality once uploaded to BloggerI almost never do any major editing of my photos, although I love to mess around with light and colour.

And that's how I get the shiz done. Let me know in the comments if you'd like me to give more photography tips on my blog! 

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What's In My Make-Up Bag (On-The-Go Edition)

what's in my make-up bag

First things first, check out my make-up bag. It's from Superdry, and I'm pretty much in love. Isn't it cute?! It's girly and kawaii, without being too saccarine, if that makes sense? The combination of the hot neon red colour (MY FAVOURITE COLOUR!!), love-heart detail, and the Manga/Anime inspired design with the Japanese print on it makes it absolutely perfect in my eyes. If my personality could ever be encapsulated in a make-up bag, it'd be this one right here. It's very tiny and doesn't hold much, so this post is the highly edited version of stuff I carry around!

Okay, so, where to start? For foundation, I love the Rimmel Match Perfection, in Light Porcelain. I always have my trusty Collection concealer with me for my dark circles, which are considerable. At the moment I only have two brushes in this bag; my buffing brush from Real Techniques, and also their duo fibre face brush, that I use for both powder and blush. I am ever-faithful to Mac's Ruby Woo, and like to keep a lip scrub handy as well, as it's really nice to use after you've been wearing matte lipstick all day! This one from Lush is delicious and I'd say I eat it rather than apply it. 

For blush, I've been using the Sleek Pink Lemonade palette loads, and a little single I got from Benefit a long time ago, called Pinch Me I'm Dreaming; it's the most gorgeous, matte pastel pink that looks amazing on pale skin. I think they've discontinued it, which is real shame. If I'm on the go I never usually carry eye make-up with me - too damn fiddly. But I do take a mascara just in case, and most of the time it's this one from Maybelline. Sometimes I also have a random matte brown eyeshadow for my brows, and my latest lip-balm.

And that's pretty much it! What do you carry around with you when you're on the go?

I Got Myself A (Essie) Sugar Daddy

essie sugar daddy review


The first Essie nail polish I ever had was Ballet Slippers. I got it when I was very young; a ballet-obsessed teenager with far too much pocket money in the Selfridge's beauty hall. Even though I loved it to death, after it ran out, I didn't buy another Essie polish for about ten years. There just always seemed to be so many other things to do, or to save for.

I'd been wanting Sugar Daddy and Limo-Scene for a long time before I finally go my mitts on them recently. Sugar Daddy is a sheer, light pink; insanely wearable, and like all Essie polishes, somehow expensive-looking. When people ask me what it's called I always smile saying the name, which is one of the best things about make-up - it often gives you the opportunity to drop an eyebrow-raising phrase innocently into the conversation. "Orgasm". "Stripped". "Deep Throat"*. Cocktails can do the same thing. I've ordered a Virgin Sex On The Beach many a time just because it sounds like the most awkward thing ever, if you think about it, and by all rights should be a total disappointment of a drink, and yet isn't. Where was I? Oh right. Limo-Scene, similarly, is a sheer, classic nude, and has fast become my favourite EVER nail polish. Strong statement, I know, but I'm sticking to it. 

*Yes, those are all real product names. Can you guess them all?

The Ted Baker Perfectly Polished Gift Set

ted baker nails
ted baker nails

Some people would say it was weird to review all your Christmas presents on your blog, but I'm not one of those people. I hope you aren't too, or you're going to be getting very angry with me this month. My friend Little Bones Blog got me this super-pretty nail art set from Ted Baker as just one of my many Christmas pressies (she spoiled me rotten this year, but I'll tag her back on her birthday) and I'd be a very irresponsible blogger not to say anything about it, really.

It includes three polishes, nail wraps with the classic TB London street print on them, and a white nail art pen (which actually isn't in this photo...whoops! Sorry about that, haha). I haven't used the wraps yet, as I'm saving them for a special occasion, but my favourite colour is definitely the dark, gunmetal silver. It's a perfect wintry metallic, and I think it will see me through January. The white nail art pen is also great quality, and perfect for me as I always seem to love nail designs with at least a bit of white in them. It's double-ended, with a dotting tool on one side and a liner on the other, so you can do pretty much anything with it. I used it for my seasonal Christmas nails that I posted on Instagram, and was really pleased with the results. I'm can't wait to start thinking up spring designs to do with it!

I think after this, it's fair to say I've caught the Ted Baker bug. I have my eye on a toiletry bag next...

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