I wanted to spend this blog asking a question… why do we ask questions? I mean, the obvious answer is to learn, and gather opinion and information, but we’re not all on the same page when it comes to what is an appropriate question, when to ask them, and how much detail is required from our reply. So, are you ready to jump in?

I went on a date recently with someone I met online. We’d done the whole ask questions back and forth over text before we met up, which were all very basic get to know you questions like ‘what’s your favourite colour’ or ‘do you have any pets’. One or two got a bit deeper, like ‘what would be the perfect day for you’, but none of the questions really demanded any soul-bearing information. Me describing how I’d like to wake up to fresh coffee and smashed avocado toast, then go into town to see an art exhibit, walk around trendy bookshops, do some painting in the backyard and have a glass of wine before a bowl of cheesy pasta does give some good information about a) how to impress me, and b) some of my likes, but I’m not offering any trust to the recipient by saying so. Side note, this isn’t a complaint! Just an observation. So we went out to dinner as our first date, and it was lovely. The thing about dinner, though, is that it’s a talk-heavy outing. What else is there to do? Our questions got more and more intense as we made it through each course, and then he asked me some really intense questions.

The first that caught me off guard was whether or not I thought I was capable of murder in any circumstance. Could I kill a stranger to protect a friend? Would I kill an abusive partner if I felt it was my only escape? Would I go full John Wick and go after the person who killed my dog? How would I feel about testifying against someone in court that would almost definitely get the death penalty as a result of my involvement? Honestly, my immediate reaction was to say of course I would to protect someone I loved, maybe not in vengeance, but it just felt like such a strange thing to say to someone I barely knew. ‘Yeah, I could probably commit murder’ doesn’t usually lend itself to a second date. But I indulged him, and he answered for himself so I wasn’t the only one playing along. The next question somehow shocked me more, how has your mental health been recently, and how do you keep yourself feeling and thinking healthily? I sat there, stuck as to whether I should let him know all about my therapy sessions, and the various traumatic events that led to it being a necessity. Because man, that it really opening yourself up. I was going to keep my various instabilities under wraps until there was a good chance of a serious relationship forming! He realised that I might not have a simple answer, and went first. I realised, as he was speaking, that he was telling me a lot of personal information. I was so worried about opening myself up to ridicule, as he was opening himself up to me! So I have mixed feelings about this Q+A session, but we’re going on a second date so it can’t be all bad.

I can’t leave without asking you a question, so do you have any questions that you’ve been asked that made you panic? Weird ones, intimate ones, or just came from out of the blue? And how did you respond? I would love to know!

A niggling concern

I’ve talked about skincare before, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever mentioned a related topic which I can’t make up my mind on… brand loyalty. It seems to me that the rise of big names in cosmetics and skincare has brought with it a particular air of elitism, devisiveness, and personal marketing. Self-branding, if you would. It’s no secret that as humans, we use our interests, and our appearannce, to build the vision of ‘self’ that we unostadwnine and want to work to embody. But gone are the days that that can solely be derived from wearing black and having a lot of piercings to look more goth, or stocking up on tassels and coloured beads if you identified yourself in the ‘hippie’ sphere, or at least their core ideals.

I suppose this isn’t a new thing in the clothing market, with designer brands signalling wealth and affluence, or if you had a full tracksuit maybe you cared the most about sport and athleticism. Perhaps none of this is new, it’s just finally gotten around to us. Thank you, Instagram.

When our personal branding went online, the options for building your branding followed us into our houses, and through the doors to our bedrooms and bathrooms. Who knew we would colour code our bathroom cabinets to appear mentally stable and rich enough to have the time to order them. Some brands were prepared, brands like the ordinary, others lost out, and some others were ready to adapt to this changing world. If anything comes to mind, it’s Drunk Elephant with their bright, bold colours, consistent packaging, and branded mini fridges. Not to mention, the fans. Somehow, I don’t know because I don’t remember the walk into madness, this brand made customers go so crazy, they set up fan accounts. We don’t know that the first couple weren’t employees, but there are certainly too many now to make that claim. Rewarded (with more product) or not, these people spend time and money cultivating these hubs of obsession.

For those who steered away from the colourful ones, crisp and minimalist packaging arrived. Decked with a certain element of science to help their followers look and feel educated and intelligent. Theres a product for every mood, vibe, and filter.

The thing I’m wary about, is that this doesn’t give any space for critical review, and people start to merit ‘shelf-appeal’ over efficacy. Brands that have always been more focused on their formulas are suffering by refusing to buy into jazzy packaging, rather being tagged as ‘medical’ or only for people who need to use it,

Because let’s be real, you should buy skincare for how well it works on your skin. That is literally the point. It should be accessible (everyone has skin), and never hide underdeveloped formulas or trendy ingredients that don’t do much, under flashy looking cardboard. So, it looks like I’m not really on the fence.

My census maps.. the name explained

So a lot of you have read my bio but are left wondering… Why is this blog called my census maps? I like to talk about interesting topics but it doesn’t quite match up.

So here it is, and bear with because it’s a little cheesy.

I was lost one day, trying to get to a new friend’s house. I’d driven a few hours by this point, and realised along the way that the charging point for my phone in my car wasn’t working. So I was haemorrhaging battery. I had pulled over just before realising so there wasn’t time to find and sit in some roadside cafe charging my phone.

So I did what any self-respecting adult would do, I pulled out my outdated road map from the glove compartment and decided I could do this on my own. It went… okay. I had to pull over quite a few times to flip pages and look closer at the roads, but it was without incident.

I was meeting a friend who I had met in an online writing class, we made partners for a group project and had hit it off, quickly deciding to put together an anthology together of various stories we had written to a theme. I was thinking on the way over, about the theme, and decided census could be a good one. All about different people, our similarities, congregations, documenting every last experience. I was so excited that at a few red lights I started writing my ideas about it straight onto the map in sharpie. Arrived at my friend’s door in one piece and BAM my census maps in hand.

That’s where I got the idea!

What’s your opinion on scuba diving?

I now that at this point in 2020, such things are probably not remotely near your mind unless you actually live on the coast and own a boat and can go out on your own and not interact with anyone all day. But setting aside the state of the world’s pandemic… Would you scuba dive?

I went once when I was younger, with my extended family, to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. We went out on this boat that had no back, so you could jump right off into the water, about twenty or thirty of us (I can’t remember!), dressed up in our gear. Honestly, maybe what I said was misleading. I didn’t scuba dive. I went snorkelling. But, and this is a serious but, the environmental impacts don’t differ too much in my mind. In fact, I think those of us who didn’t scuba dive did more harm. So maybe my question should have been ‘What’s your opinion on snorkelling?’. That’s just my messy mind, although you’re used to that by now!

The thing about snorkelling is though, you’re so close to the coral. Those are the spots the tour leaders took up to, so we could stay shallow but still be within arms reach of the colourful coral. Because the Great Barrier Reef is absolutely gorgeous. No question. I even saw a shark! A little one, granted, but how often can someone boast they swum by a shark in Australia and survived unscathed? This gal can. But what I’m really trying to get at here, is the environmental impact we have on coral bleaching. I was doing my best to avoid touching anything, but I pulled my knee down to help kick so I could swim back to the boat, and bam. I kneed a clump of lovely red coral… And had to watch it bleach. I remember it clear as day.

And I was really trying to avoid it. There were people on my tour who wanted to take a piece of coral back home with them. Who were taking underwater photos of each other holding pieces, reaching out for fish, pretending to casually lean on the mounds. Imagine the damage just one group did… and then think about how many groups go out into the reef daily, let alone yearly.

I know that there are plenty of things harvested from the ocean that I wouldn’t want to give up, which is why I’m thinking maybe only seasoned and trained professionals should be allowed to go out. And maybe photographers, who understand that a picture is worth far more than a piece of the set. Seaweed, for example. How do people get seaweed to make vegetable collagen for collagen cream? Do they go out into the ocean, or do they have seaweed farms? Can you sew seaweed seeds? Wow, have I just created a new tongue twister? Can Sweet Susan Simply Sew Seaweed Seeds Seasonally? Say that five times fast!

Ready, Set, Makeup!

It used to be inevitable; no matter how much care you put into not disturbing your make up throughout the day, it would still find a way to fade, smudge, or disappear completely.

Well, if you hadn’t already clued into the sensation, I’m here to arrest your fears. Setting Spray exists.

The spray sets your makeup perfectly in place for the day ahead, giving your face a healthy glow, whether it be mascara, eye shadow, a light bb cream, or the works.  You won’t find yourself ducking into the bathroom to reapply or sneaking looks in mirrors to make sure you’re still looking good; the spray will give you that ‘just applied’ look, whatever the hour. You’ll stop checking out your make-up, and start checking out yourself.

            Let’s talk about the cream of the crop. Lunar Glow’s Moisture Setting Spray. This spray doesn’t just hold everything in place, oh no, it goes above and beyond to make you look simply gorgeous. Before you apply, throughout the day, and well after.

We’ll start as is natural, the before. This setting spray doubles as a primer, to moisturise your skin and even it out for makeup application. Worried about your pores? This formula is light and natural, and you’ll be getting all the benefits of a moisturiser.

Then comes the makeup. Once everything has dried and settled, a few sprays across your face in a circular motion is all you need to hold it in place. I usually like to let it sit with my eyes closed for a minute, just to make sure I’m not smudging any eyeshadow or mascara. It’s so quick and easy, in a hurry I’ve used it walking straight out the door or in the car on my way to work, it’s almost a crime not to have it! And if you don’t agree with me now, you will in a few hours. 😉

Fast forward to the end of the day, and you’ve absolutely rocked that look from dawn to dusk, it’s time to clean your face. And whilst everything you can see washes away, some key setting spray ingredients remain.

Sweet almond oil. Known for its soothing benefits, your skin is going to stay soft, calm and glowing. Say goodbye and good riddance to puffy evening skin. Almond oil is also rich in Vitamin E, which helps protect against and repair sun damage. England may be known as the land of grey skies, but the sun does still exist, and it can damage your skin even behind clouds.

Natural glycerin. Glycerin is a humectant, which is a substance that prevents moisture loss. It’s the wonder-ingredient that makes you look like a glowing goddess all day long.

            Sunflower seed oil. As well as being rich in our friend vitamin E, we’re gifted with A, C and D as well! And what does that alphabetical delight combine to fight? Acne. Farewell that idea that pimples are an unfortunate side effect of wearing makeup, why not wear makeup that actively fights against it?

            And one more thing, we’re steering clear of mineral oil, parabens, fragrance, alcohol and animal cruelty.

            So if I’ve been lucky enough to gift you the good news, or put your suspicions to rest, let’s do something beautiful for our skin and use setting spray next time we apply makeup, or just want that gorgeous glow.

Brush Your Beard. Please.

Do you really need to brush your beard? As a woman I can tell you that the answer is yes you should. Now that could be seen as just my personal preference and I will concede that to be the case initially. So to give my opinion a leg to stand on why don’t we discuss exactly why guys should brush and/or comb their beard.

Brushing your beard once a day is really good for it. So the understanding that it should only be done once a day is important for this discussion. You only need to do it once a day otherwise it’s a little too much stimulation for your beard. You’ll get split ends on your beard if you brush it more than once a day and that might sound like something we worry about know that we don’t fret over it for no reason. Split ends suck and they can hurt too when you try to fix them and even if you do end up fixing them the damage has already been done. Split ends can damage not only the portion of the hair that’s involved but also the cuticle and the core which means that it won’t grow as healthily as it did before. Don’t freak out about the split ends by the way although they are bad the damage can recover over time and they will unavoidably happen but brushing your beard can minimize the number of incidents. A good beard oil should be thrown into the mix and from what I’ve heard from the guys that I know this is the beard brush they’ve used.

It’s not too much work guys it’s just brushing it once in the morning. Think of it as part of a daily routine like styling your hair that shouldn’t be too hard to add right? It’ll help your beard grow in properly and help you style it when it’s fully grown. A healthy well styled beard makes you look good and charismatic but if it’s unruly and wiry you might as well be wearing a sign around your neck saying “I don’t care how I look”. That sort of thing might have been “cool” when we were young but come on now it’s not about attractiveness or anything shallow like that it’s about showing that you are a responsible and reliable person who cares for themselves and therefore others.

This Is Actually Pretty Fun!

Ever since I started writing these I’ve been feeling super great overall. There’s just something relaxing about getting to write out your thoughts. Hopefully it’s relaxing to read the stuff I write too. From what I can tell you all seem to like it so since that’s the case and I really enjoy I’ll be keeping at it with another article real soon!

How Social Media is changing the makeup and beauty industry

If you’ve never heard of social media I’d be very confused as to why you’re here and also how you’re here while circumnavigating the internet and haven’t glimpsed any social media websites. Social media is one of the greatest influences in the modern world as we know it today. It’s a place for people come together, talk, share, and form communities. It’s a wonderful age but social media also has another facet that’s developed fantastically over the years alongside the platform as a whole.

The reach of these platforms has had a drastic effect on the makeup industry as a whole. Though not the only place where social media has had its effects makeup is one of the industries where the growth has been most felt. There’s the obvious fact that makeup channels and pages let creators show their makeup and beauty regimes that they personally use. Of course companies are eager to jump on those opportunities to sell you the perfect makeup primer for you. In a lot of cases these popular beauty gurus are approached by makeup companies in order to use their products and advertise their effectiveness in order to of course reach their demographic. There’s also the instances where these creators might decide to try and make their own brand and break into the industry. Or someone from their communities might see the success of the industry and decide that it’s an industry worth entering themselves.

The expansion of the industry fosters an increase in the quality of products that go around the industry as well. The fact that so many people have decided to invest within the makeup industry means that there’s fiercer competition to get your product recognized so it needs to be of amazing quality in order to get that recognition. The proper use of social media, the right product, and the marketing know-how to actually sell your product are the things proving absolutely necessary to keep up in the modern makeup industry.

Gaining some momentum

Hey again.

It seems like the previous post was well received (well most of it at least), and I received some encouraging words from friends that was really great to hear.

I’ve decided to keep pushing and work on bringing another new post as soon as possible. Watch this space…

3 tips for a better shave

Today I want briefly focus on skincare, specifically men’s skincare. This is often a subject that is easily overlooked. A lot of men nowadays have great big bushy beards, and the skin underneath them is literally out of sight and out of mind.

For those that don’t have facial hair, the shavers out there, taking good care of your skin is much more important. Not only is it visible but it isn’t subject to the natural oils that facial hair brings.

Wet shave also means your skin is much more likely to become irritated and cut. All of this means taking care of it is vitally important. In this post I’ll be laying out my 3 key steps to ensuring that you have as good a shave as possible in terms of your skin.

The first step is key – good preparation. If you’ve got the time you’ll want to fill your sink with hot water and give your face a good splash. Doing this will help open up your pores making the shave quite a bit smoother. Alternatively you could run a hot shower and rinse your face. Either is fine.

Shaving Cream

Next gently dab your face with a soft towel. The next and possibly most crucial step is ensuring you are using the best shaver and cream.

In terms of wet shavers, you can’t go wrong by selecting anything from Gillette. Really great creams on the other hand are a bit harder to come by.

It’s important to find one that lathers really well (this way you won’t have to use so much), and has a great scent (so you keep the ladies happy).

Having wet shaved for around 20 years now, I can confidently say that I’ve probably tried well over 50 different creams over the years. My recent favourite I discovered only a few months ago. It’s called Percy Nobleman’s shaving cream and it smells incredible.

Once you’ve found your ideal razor and cream, it’s time for the shave. The method of exactly how you shave is incredibly important. It’s vital you go with the grain, and avoid snagging and persistent hairs. Doing this can lead to bleeding and skin damage.

There you have it. Follow these steps and a great shave will be the end result!