Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Chit-Chat: My views on blogging & a hiatus

Hello ladies,
I've been thinking a lot about blogging lately and this post from Živa - Nothin' Fancy Really on her Facebook page gave me the final push I needed to share a few things that have been on my mind with you.

I'm sure you've noticed that I've been posting a lot less regularly for the past year or so, and went from posting three times a week, to posting maybe once a week with a week of silence in between or something similar like that.

The truth is that the whole blogging thing changed a lot in these past years. The community changed, the relationships between bloggers changed, the relationships between bloggers and companies changed, I've changed. And honestly, I'm not the biggest fan of the majority of these changes. 

You see, blogging has always been a hobby for me, something to do for fun, a creative outlet if you will. And it was never my intention to turn it into something more. But the majority of the blogging community seems to not agree with my point of view. There has been so much talk recently about getting paid for writing blog posts, how to get more followers, how to get more ''free'' products, actually attacking companies for not being invited to their events/not getting their products, how to make a brand out of your blog, how to get more views, buying likes or followers, tips on how to improve your photos which most times than not turns into a bunch of bloggers having pretty much the same photos. And I think it's getting a bit out of hand. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to throw shade at anyone or claim that my point of view is the right one. I'm just trying to share my opinion about the whole situation. I actually had the next part saved in my drafts for more than a year now, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to post it or not. I really hope no one gets offended by this, keep in mind that this is just my opinion/my observations, and even if you recognise yourself in some things, please don't take it personally, because I'm not targeting anyone.

I've noticed that a lot of bloggers are asking themselves ''Where is this even going?'' and I'm asking myself ''Why does it have to even go somewhere?''.
Personally, I don't have a purpose for all of this. I don't have a final destination or a goal I want to reach when it comes to blogging. All I know that it makes/made me happy and it allows me to express myself about the things that I like or don't like.

I definitely love seeing my little place grow, and even after all this time I still get extremely excited with every single comment, view and gained follower, like everyone else I would assume. I love seeing myself getting better at taking photos, expressing my opinion, getting involved in social media, working with new companies and all that. I love that all of this has given me the opportunity to work with different brands and companies, some that I've loved for years & years, and as you all know I do get send products for reviewing purposes, but that's where things end for me. Even though I put more & more effort and time into it, and even though blogging sometimes occupies as much time as a full time job, I don't want to make money out of it. I know it wouldn't bring me as much happiness as it does now, cause it would probably start to feel more like an obligation (not saying that you should agree with me on that).

You see, even if all of this was taken from me, if I never got a chance to work with a brand again, if everyone stopped reading my blog and if I lost all of my followers, I would most likely still be writing it. This place, Sparkle with Laughter, has started out as a hobby, as something that I was sure would only get read by a few of my friends & I, it still is a hobby, and will continue to be a hobby. This is a place for me to look back on, a place to see what I thought about certain products a year ago and if they're still worth repurchasing now. A place for me to look back on and see what 10 things made me happy last November, or how my answers to some tag would've changed. And I'm fine with it being ''just'' that. Because I'm doing this for ME.

In these years I saw quite a lot of blogs that I used to enjoy reading turn into something I can't possibly connect to. Yes, we all enjoy looking at nice photos, but how am I supposed to relate to someone who for example has a photographer to take photos for them, has their photos extremely edited or airbrushed, includes only one ''staged'' photo, when all I want to do is see how a product looks on someone, that for example has a similar skin tone to mine.

You see for me, blogs have been a way of knowing which products are worth buying and which are not, a way to learn about new things, a way to admire fantastic make-up looks from talented people, a way to find new recipes to try out, a way to see the places I would want to visit one day,... And honestly, I just don't get that from five completely perfect white photos with a bunch of products that aren't even related to (let's say) a brush you're trying to review and a couple of sentences from which I can only gather that you liked the product. That's the reason I found myself reading less and less blogs, mainly from bloggers that are the actual real deal for me - those who include swatches, those who aren't so bothered that their photos have the most perfect white/marble backgrounds, those who don't have the need to include the majority of their make-up collection/everything they own on a photo, those who actually share something personal with their readers, and most importantly, those who actually tell me all the details I would ever want to know about the product /topic they're talking about. 

And don't even get me started on the whole 'only one photo of the beauty product at the begging of the post' trend. We cannot get a lot of products here in Slovenia, which means online shopping is our best friend. And there's nothing worse than seeing a review on a product that I really want/am planning on purchasing, from a blogger that I trust and there are no swatches or no close ups of that product. Yes, you managed to get a gorgeous photo that could easily be featured in a magazine, but that doesn't help me as a potential buyer of that product in the slightest. 

If I wanted that, I would just buy a beauty magazine. But what I actually wanted/was searching for, was an honest & detailed opinion from a fellow beauty lover. Truth be told, I would rather read a detailed post that has a lot of ''bad'' or unedited photos, than a post that has one photo that checks all the ''right'' boxes (white background, composition, brightness, a bunch of other ''props'' etc). 

I didn't want to turn this into a rant and I don't really know where I'm going with it. Maybe I just wanted to tell you that I think that it's alright if you don't know where you're going with your blog/have an end goal, if you're getting a bit lost in this ''right way to blog'' trend, or if your blog isn't doing as well as you think it should compared to other bloggers, or if you're not getting invited to events or get the same PR packages as the others do, as long as it brings you joy. 

Sometimes a hobby just needs to stay a hobby. And it should be enough for you if that's what you really want. Don't feel pressured to take it to ''a next level''/change it just because everyone else seems to be doing so. There will always be someone ''better'' than you and someone ''worse'' than you, you just have to stay true to yourself and the things you believe in. And if you really feel like blogging is something you want to pursue as a career more than anything else, than screw all of what I just said, go for it and kick ass while doing it.

It wasn't really my intention to write about all of these things, I only wanted to let you know that I decided to take a bit of a break from blogging, but once I started typing everything, I couldn't really stop.

I have so many other things going on right now, and I just can't keep up with everything anymore. I'm the type of person that wants to do everything at once, starts feeling very overwhelmed and then burns out. I always dedicated a lot of time & love to the whole blogging process, it was something that brought me a lot of joy, something that relaxed me. And if I try to do that now, I feel guilty because it means that I'm most likely neglecting something more important and due to lack of time, I do everything in a hurry & without my heart really being in it. It went from being something that I did for me, to something that I felt obligated to do because of all the things I buy and get.

And if I'm not blogging, it means that I'm not only letting down myself cause I don't get to carry out all of these ideas I have written down in my notebook, but I'm also letting down companies that send me their products in hopes I'll talk about them, companies that trust me & want to hear my opinion, and I once again feel guilty - probably even more. I had to turn down quite a lot of events recently, which once again made me feel guilty, cause it means that I turned down opportunities to network, chat & get to know brands even more and also catch up with my fellow Slovenian bloggers.

I've been lucky enough to receive so many amazing products from even more amazing companies since I started blogging and I do feel like I'm letting everyone down with taking this break, since I'm already so behind with my posts. I'm really sorry about that and the last thing I want, is to come off looking like I'm being ungrateful, because I truly am extremely grateful & excited about every single package that I get, just like I was when I got my first one. And I can promise you that I'll find a way and time to talk about the products that I had the privilege to get send. Just not right now.

As I said, blogging has always been ''only'' my hobby and I intend to keep it this way, and unfortunately it can't be on top of my priority list as of now. I just need to have some time to finish off some other things (like exams) and to turn blogging from something that makes me feel guilty, back to something that makes me excited and brings me joy.

I know some of you might find this ''rant'' and update completely unnecessary, especially since I'm not even sure how long this hiatus will last (who knows, I might be back in a week or two) and I'll mostly likely still be active on all of my other social platforms, but I'm not the kind of person who just leaves without explaining herself. 

And once again, I hope no one gets offended by reading my views on the ''current'' situation in the blogging community, as I said, it wasn't target toward anyone specifically.

Thank you for reading this lengthy chit-chat and thank you for always leaving me lovely comments. 

Talk to you soon, 
Sanja ♥
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Friday, 10 June 2016

Review*: Oriflame Giordani Gold Jewel Lipsticks & Luminous Cream Eye Shadow

Hello ladies, 
awhile back I got the chance to try out two Oriflame products from their Giordani Gold line. I already owned one lipstick from this range. so I decided to include it in this review as well.

Giordani Gold is Oriflames more luxurious line of products which definitely shines through the elegant and sophisticated look of Giordani Gold products. In this line you will find everything from make-up products to perfumes.

 If you been reading my blog for awhile or if you know me in person, you already know what I'm going to say about the Giordani Gold Jewel Lipstick packaging - it's utterly stunning!
I always have a few lipsticks on display and I probably don't need to point out that the two Jewel Lipsticks have a secure spot there. I just tend to instantly gravitate toward gold & shiny packaging, so this is like a dream come true for me. I mean, just look at those embellishment that kinda makes this elegant lipstick look a bit edgy. They really thought about everything when they were designing it, including engraving the two G's on the top. 
Other than its beautiful appearance, the lipstick bullet is also really well made and actually kinda heavy compared to other lipsticks. It's also an instant eye catcher whenever I pull it out of my handbag.
They claim to be soft as cashmere, moisturising with high pigmentation and medium coverage that lasts for hours. You get 4g of product, they retail for 14,90€ and you can choose from 10 different shades (more here).

 Giordani Gold Jewel Lipstick in Cerise Pink is the shade I bought myself quite a long time ago.
It has an extremely creamy, smooth and soft texture, which means that it glides on effortlessly. Due to its creaminess and decent pigmentation (above you can see how it looks layered and how with only one swipe), you do have to be a bit careful with the application or use a lip liner with it, since you can quickly go over your lip line. Unless you tend to overdraw your lips, then just go crazy with it.
It has a slight floral scent and a glossy finish that feels very moisturising and comfortable to wear on the lips - I actually always forget that I'm wearing a proper lipstick, since it feels more like a lip balm.

 Cerise Pink is a warm, quite bright berry-rose shade that I like to wear year-round. It definitely makes a statement and makes you look more awake and put together even if the rest of your make-up is very minimal.
Although it's so creamy and glossy, it actually survives eating and drinking, leaving you with a lovely stain, as you can see on the photo above. Sometimes I actually like to dab it off with a tissue when I apply it, and just wear it like a stain. It does look a tad more natural.
Another thing that I really like about these lipsticks, is that they don't cling to dry patches or move around/bleed. Because of that they're my first choice whenever my lips are feeling/looking a bit dry.

 Oriflame was kind enough to ask me which shades I wanted to get, so when it came to the Jewel Lipsticks, I opted for the shade Dusky Nude* cause a girl can never have too many nude lipsticks.
This one almost has an identical texture as the Cerise Pink, although it's a tiny bit less creamy, less pigmented and less glossy. It's still very soft, smooth, moisturising, comfortable to wear and even easier to apply - I don't actually need a mirror to apply this one - a big plus for all the lazy girls out there.

 Dusky Pink* is a light peachy nude shade that is semi similar to my natural lip colour. It's very natural looking so it's great for every day wear, for those no-makeup make-up days and even for a dark smoky eye. 
Due to being a lighter and a bit less pigmented shade, I like to apply 2 to 3 layers to get it look as pigmented as I like. It semi-survives drinking, leaving a stain that you can see on the photo above, but it doesn't survive eating. It does wear off very evenly and it's also very fuss free when it comes to re-applying it, so this is not something that bothers me at all. 

And lastly the Giordani Gold Luminous Cream Eye Shadow in the shade Gold Sparkles*. 
This one comes in a glass pot with a black lid & gold engraved G's. It also comes with the tiniest flat brush ever that is honestly, pretty much useless. 
Oriflame claims that this is a long-wearing cream eye shadow with buildable coverage, smooth blendability and crease resistancy. You get 4,5g of product in the pot, they retail for 13,90€ and are available in 5 different shimmery shades. 
Now this one has a drier & thicker consistency from my other cream eyeshadows, it's definitely not the creamiest or the most pigmented one. Because of that I prefer applying it with my fingers, or with a flat synthetic brush like the ones from Urban Decay palettes. I also noticed that it looks the most pigmented when I lightly press it on with my fingers and then slightly blend it out with a brush like the MAC 217.
Although it's not extremely pigmented, it definitely is buildable and also very easy to blend. Depending on how I want it to look, I tend to layer it up 2-3 times (on the photo above it's only one layer, so you can see how it looks). I definitely think that the name ''luminous'' is spot on, cause if you only apply one layer, it looks very soft, like you're wearing some luminous gold sparkles on your eyes.
Due to it's light golden champagne shade, Gold Sparkles* works well in many different options: as a single wash of colour all over the lid, as a base for something even more shimmery or just as a ''topper'' over other shadows that will help enhance your eyes and make them pop. I tend to always reach for it on lazy days/early mornings, since the application is so quick, it doesn't require much blending and it works well on its own.
My only complain about it, is that I've noticed that it performs different with different primers. With the NYX Proof it! waterproof eye shadow primer it doesn't budge or fade all days long (meaning 12+ hours), with the Avon Eyeshadow primer I can push it up to 7 hours with slight fading and creasing, but it really doesn't get along with the Catrice Prime and Fine eyeshadow base (or maybe it's because of my eyelids, who knows). Every time I've used it with the Catrice base, I've noticed that it didn't go on as smoothly as otherwise. It also started cracking, gathering and flaking off after 5-6 hours, which definitely isn't a good look. 

All in all, I think that Giordani Gold line is definitely worth being on your beauty radar. If I had to tell you which one of these three products you should get, I would definitely tell you to skip the Luminous Cream Eye Shadow since it's quite pricey and there are better ones out there (even if this one isn't all that bad), and go with the Jewel Lipsticks. Not only are they one of the prettiest lipsticks out there, but they also come in a nice variety of shades and have a great formula (unless you're a hardcore matte lipstick fan that is).

What is your favourite product from Oriflame?

Sanja ♥

*The products marked with * were given to me by companies. I didn't buy them with my money. But that didn't and won't ever affect my opinion about the products in any way. The review is based on my personal experience with the product.*
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Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Beauty Buys Of The Month #15

Hello my ladies, 
I hope you're still sticking around with me and my irregular blogging. I have another instalment of beauty buys of the month for you today, including the goodies I bought in Sweden.

 I'm definitely becoming more & more restrained when it comes to buying new make-up. It's probably mainly because I'm so overwhelmed with the products that I have and want to talk about on here, but just don't find the time to. Well, my credit card definitely isn't complaining. 

 I ran out of my previous Aussie dry shampoo, wanted to purchase the Schauma one before I went to Sweden, but they didn't have it in my local DM, so I saw this Aussie Beach Mate dry shampoo and decided to pick it up. And I have to say that I like it a lot more than their Aussume volume one. This one truly is almost invisible, has a great scent as well, but doesn't make your hair so crunchy and dry. I also think it does a better job at soaking up the oils and making my hair look more fresh & clean.
Mateja mentioned on her Instagram that Balea is discontinuing their Reinigungs Öl (cleansing oil) and since pretty much every Slovenian blogger has been raving about it, I decided to pick up a bottle to see what the fuss is all about. I still haven't tried it, cause I have a few cleansers that I want to finish up first and I also don't want to get hooked on this since it's being discontinued.
Another Mateja inspired purchase was the Neutrogena T/Gel total anti-dandruff shampoo. Every time I'm stressed, my scalp freaks out and I've been having a big mess on there recently. But this sorted it out with two uses, although I need to start using it once again, since my exams brought back a flaky scalp. Otherwise it has a more rich consistency and it straight up stinks, but since it really works, I'm prepared to ignore the scent. 

 And now onto the goodies I bought in Sweden. I was actually really shocked that they have make-up & beauty things in fashion stores like H&M, Lindex, etc and also in groceries stores. Which is actually pretty genius since you can buy your beauty stuff & clothes in the same store. I usually go all out on make-up & beauty products when I'm travelling, but this time it was really more of a relaxing holiday and I didn't even visit that many stores or felt like shopping. But you know, I couldn't leave without a few goodies.
It was my birthday on the 28th and we decided to go to Stockholm where they also have a Sephora. I was kinda let down by it though, cause it's quite small, the testers were very gross-looking and it was so crowded that you couldn't really properly see the products & mainly with some high-school girls that came in, put on some make-up and left. A few things that I wanted were also sold out.
I was looking around the Too Faced counter since I don't have any of their products yet and of course I wanted to get a blush, but then I spotted this Love Flush Long lasting 16-hour blush wardrobe limited edition palette that has all of their Love Flush blusher shades and it was only a few € more expensive than one full sized one. Score!
As I mentioned you get all six of their 16-hours wear Love Flush blushes (each 2 g) and I actually really like all of the shades although you can probably guess which one is my favourite (I didn't expect to like the third, orangey one called I will always love you). The blushes itself are nicely pigmented, very smooth, blendable and truly, very long-lasting. They survive a 12-hour working day without any fading whatsoever. Also, the Real Techniques cheek brush fits into the pan without a problem. Definitely one of my favourite purchases so far.
I wanted to try the Elizabeth Arden Eight hour cream lip protectant ever since I've tried the Nuxe Reve de miel to see how they compare and I like the Elizabeth Arden Eight hour cream lip protectant so much more! It has a really lovely, herbal scent and what's more important - an amazing, thin yet still very rich consistency that feels very lightweight & comfortable on the lips, gives them a nice glossy look, but will still heal any dry patches or chapped lips overnight. 
They also have NYX in Sweden so I had to pick up a few things, one of them being their Wonder Stick highlight and contour in what was supposed to be WSO1 light/medium (as it says on the box), but turned out to be WS02 medium/tan (in the box). When I was swatching the product in the store, I opted of the first one, because the contour side was more ashy brown although I knew I probably won't be able to pull of the highlight side which was too yellow for me. I'm kinda glad that this mistake happened now, cause the highlight side on the medium/tan one is a lot more pink toned and looks very brightening on, and although the contour side is more warm brown, it still works when I blend it out. I only tried it once, but my first impressions are that both sides are very creamy, pigmented, easy to blend and even easier to use. They also look very natural on yet give your cheeks a lot of definition. 

 I also got two NYX lip products. Their Lingerie liquid lipstick in Lace detail that I wanted to order from Boots the other time but they were all sold out, and their Intense butter gloss in Tres Leches. 
Both have a completely flat rectangular doe-foot applicators that I really like and both are very pigmented. The Lingerie liquid lipstick has a more subtle, perfumey scent, while the Intense butter gloss has a very strong, sweet one. Lace detail is a great pale nude for my skin tone, anything lighter would make me look dead. It goes on very smoothly and needs a bit of time to dry down to a completely matte finish. It's not uncomfortable to wear, but it's also not one of the most comfortable matte liquid lipsticks out there. I'm still decided weather or not I really like it, cause I've been noticing that it tends to crack & gather on the inside of my lips sometimes. Will keep you posted.
I do really like the Intense butter gloss though, the shade is right up my alley, and they weren't kidding when they put ''intense'' in the name. This is crazily pigmented and has a very thick consistency that it ever so slightly sticky. It's also really smooth, so it glides on like a dream and last for quite awhile actually.
Since it was my birthday and I've been having a quarter life crisis and since I was in Sephora and there was 20% off on all the perfumes, I decided to treat myself with the Dior Pure Poison eau de perfume. This perfume has been on my wishlist for many, many, many (Police Academy reference) years and I was like ''if I don't treat myself to it now, I'll never do it''. So I did and I'm obsessed with it. I wish I could make it into my signature scent, but it's too expensive for that (although I have to say that the Refan replica that I had, smelled identical to this). It's such a strong, deep, warm, elegant yet sexy, sophisticated scent that literally lasts a lifetime on me. Here are the notes although it definitely smells more sweet than floral or citrusy on me. 
 While me & my friend were grocery shopping, I spotted a Wet'n' wild display and immediately grabbed their MegaLast lip colour in Bare it all that's supposedly quite similar to MAC's Velvet teddy. I was so surprised to see how much creamier and non-drying this one is compared to their Sugar plum fairy shade, I absolutely love it. The shade is also gorgeous and doesn't come off looking too peachy on me, which is always appreciated. 
Last make-up purchase from Sweden is a fresh new NARS Radiant creamy concealer in Light 2 Vanilla. I'm running out of my first one and since this is my favourite concealer ever, I just decided to repurchase it.

And now onto the products I was sent.
The first one being this Mirati Face wash* that is actually made in Slovenia and I took part in their contest for a Mirati ambassador with it. I'm going to mention it in my favourites, so I won't talk much about it now, but I've been using it daily and I love how it makes my skin feel very refreshed and clean, but not dried out.
Avon also sent me their Glow bronzing pearls in Pink bronze* that I'm almost certain will become my staple in the next few months. They give your cheeks such a lovely, peachy-pink glow that makes you look like you just came home from a Caribbean getaway. I also really like the idea they had with their Outstanding eyes dual-ended kohl eyeliner*, combining a nude tonned & a black eyeliner in one, but I'm kinda torn about it. Both sides are very creamy and they glide on easily, but the nude shade is way too light for me - I just can't make it show on my waterline, not matter how many times I apply it. The black side is a complete opposite, nicely pigmented and long-lasting. I also haven't experienced any smudging with it.
Oriflame came out with their new The One Lip Sensation matte mousse* and we all went crazy for them. I chose the shade Satin Rose and although I expected it to be a bit more neutral, I still love how bright it looks on me. I think it'll look even better once I catch a bit of a tan. Still need to properly test its longevity, but I love the moussey consistency. It also has the same doe-foot applicator as the NYX products, a lovely scent and very good pigmentation.

The lovely Astrid sent me an amazing birthday package and these were the beauty goodies in it: The Body Shop Strawberry body polish that smells like I should eat it, The Body Shop Mango hand cream that I already know I'll like, cause she got me hooked on TBS hand creams, HEMA Soft matt lipbalm in 02 that I already tried & love its pigmentation, creaminess, fruity scent, longevity and the shade itself, and HEMA Warm honey mask. 

And here are the swatches:
From 1 to 6 is the Too Faced Love Flush Long lasting 16-hour blush wardrobe (from R to L in the palette)
1 Your love is kind 2 Justify my love 3 How deep is your love 4 I will always love you 5 Baby love Love hangover
NARS Radiant creamy concealer in Light 2 Vanilla.
NYX Intense butter gloss in Tres Leches.
Wet'n' wild MegaLast lip colour in Bare it all
10 NYX  Lingerie liquid lipstick in Lace detail 
11 NYX  Wonder Stick highlight and contour WS02 medium/tan
12 HEMA Soft matt lipbalm in 02 
13 Avon Glow bronzing pearls in Pink bronze *
14 Avon Outstanding eyes dual-ended kohl eyeliner*
15 Oriflame  The One Lip Sensation matte mousse Satin Rose*

Have you tried any of these products yet? Have a nice evening.

Sanja ♥

*The products marked with * were given to me by companies. I didn't buy them with my money. But that didn't and won't ever affect my opinion about the products in any way. The review is based on my personal experience with the product.*
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