What’s What!

Hello my loves!

Guess who’s back?! Back again, ‘gain, ‘gain…

It has been SO long since I sat down and wrote to you all and I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed you guys and my blog. It’s actually exactly one month today since I posted saying I’d be taking some time away which is unintentional, but it feels right to bring my blog back now. Things are going to look a little different around here, but I am officially back in the blogging world and I’m so excited. I hope you’re all well and have had a fabulous month since we last spoke! Grab a cup of tea and settle in, in true www.gillianfinn.com style, we’ve got a long old post… 🙂

We love an awkward car selfie 🙂

What things are going to be looking like on the blog:
I took a break from blogging for several reasons; 1) I just needed a little time to adapt to our ‘new normal’ as things were opening back up again, 2) I felt like I was taking so much time up with taking photos, planning content, writing etc that it was not  becoming enjoyable and 3) I really wanted to just relax a little more as I’d been feeling anxious and overwhelmed. I still don’t feel 100%, but I do feel much better than I did at the end of July. 

I really love my blog and I’m so freaking proud of it! I knew I was only going to take a short break, but having that time away has made me realise that I don’t want to stress myself out about getting 2 – 3 posts up per week. I work full time, I am trying to get back into a social life (thank you, ‘Rona) and I need to make sure I prioritise my self care time too. I’m going to be uploading once per week for now, although as and when I can I’m really hoping to upload ‘bonus’ posts!

What I’m loving:
As you may have noticed from the photo above, I got my hair dyed this month! My roots look a little darker in that photo than they are now as this was taken the day after I got it dyed, they’ve lightened up just a tad after I’ve washed it 🙂 I had a not-so-great salon experience in July and was desperate to get it fixed. Going to a new salon is always scary! I can’t believe how much better I feel since I got my hair done, I really feel like a new person and I’m just so happy with it. I’ve not been this blonde for years and I kinda feel like I’m wearing a wig – LOL! – but it’s just so fun to try something new. Also, I already have a few things, but if you have any must-have products you use to keep your blonde hair healthy and happy, please let me know!

What I’m buying:
Well… Matt and I accidentally fell into Homesense the other day and their Autumn candles are already out! I was very reserved and only picked up two, but really I could have bought twelve. How flipping cute is that lid?! I had a huge wardrobe clear out a couple weeks ago so I’m really excited to see the A/W clothing slowly filter through into stores websites. I don’t really buy many clothes and I try to #shopsecondhand as much as I can, but there’s a couple of gaps I need to fill in my wardrobe ahead of the colder weather coming. I really need some new basic sweaters that I can dress up or down, and I’d love to grab a couple pretty shirts/blouses to wear for evenings out. I’d also love one or two more midi dresses as I wear the few I have all the time and it would be nice to switch things up a little!

What I’m watching:
All the shows! Matt and I have finally gotten back into a routine of watching shows almost every evening and I’m so happy about it. It’s so nice to unwind and relax after work. I’m still working from home for the foreseeable future so making sure to disconnect from work whilst in the same space is something I think is really important. I binge watched season three of Selling Sunset – it fills a void since the Laguna Beach & The Hills days! – and I already can’t wait for season four. Chrishell is just my favourite, I love her! We’re watching The Office (duh) and Friends reruns, we flew through Down To Earth with Zac Efron and now we’re watching season three of World’s Toughest Prisons. We really enjoy this show and watched the first two seasons around a year ago – some of the things that happen in these places is literally mind-blowing! 

This photo was taken at Eden Locke Hotel in Edinburgh at the start of August. I wish I’d had lighter hair then!

What I’m reading:
I just started a new book this past weekend; Hello Again by Isabelle Broom. So far I’m really enjoying it, I’m 24% of the way through and I’m already obsessed with the characters and making assumptions on what will happen next. I haven’t been reading as much recently just because I haven’t been making the time for it but since lockdown began back in March I’ve read tons of books. My stand out favourite was by far The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. Friends, this was my favorite book I’ve read ALL YEAR! I had no idea what to expect; almost every time I guessed what the next part of the story would be I was so wrong. I laughed, I cried, I just loved it. I highly recommend!

What I’m excited about:
For me, August bank holiday marks the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn. I can’t really explain it but I feel like September 1st is a fresh start in the way most people see January 1st! I’m taking my mum out for a treat, Matt and I have dinner plans with our friends, the most exciting/scary/nerve-wracking appointment of our lives and we’re hiking Thrunton Woods too. I might just record a Weekend In My Life because it’s going to be FUN! I know technically we have warm (ish) weather in September and sometimes through to mid-October, but I cannot wait for all things cold weather. I am so excited for pumpkin spice drinks, layering clothes, wearings scarves, coats & boots, dark gel nails… the list goes on! 

What skincare product I’m obsessed with:
I am SO happy with my skincare routine I’ve used religiously for a few months, but wearing a mask just here and there throughout the week is making my cheeks/jaw break out. Maskne is real, people. I realise so many people have to wear masks for literally 12 hours per day (you’re all amazing and I truly don’t know how you do it!) but just literally a couple hours per week means I’ve had to really focus on products that prevent breakouts and acne. I’m super acne prone so this isn’t really shocking, honestly. The one treatment I’ve been using per week has helped so. freaking. much. I’m talking about The Ordinary AHA 30% BHA 2% Peeling Solution, this works so well! This past Sunday my mum, Matt and I all enjoyed a little facial (courtesy of me, obvs!) and they really love the effects too. I’m going to be talking about how/when I use this in next week’s post, but if you pick this up please read full instructions on how to use the product and introduce it slowly; this is a chemical peel and if you use it like many people show on TikTok you’re at risk of chemical burns!

What I’m planning:
It’s Matt and I’s third anniversary in September and we’re really hoping to squeeze in a weekend away to celebrate! We would love to go to a spa hotel with a good area to hike/explore around there, but we’re a little reluctant to book somewhere until a little closer to the time as local lockdowns can happen with no notice. We are also looking for the best deal possible, too! It seems our Covid cases are creeping back up again so I’m not sure we want to travel very far, if we’ll even be able to. We’re leaning towards The Lake District or Yorkshire, so if you have any hotel/cabin recommendations please let me know!

What I’m burning:
Before I take a deep dive into my Autumn candles, Matt and I have been burning Somewhere Far Away by Our Lovely Goods this past week. I think the packaging is just so minimalistic and beautiful, I love how it looks sitting on my vanity table whether it’s lit or not. The amber glass jars are just so pretty and unique! All their candles burn so evenly which is really important to me, it bugs me so much when candles tunnel down the middle and you’re left with tons of wasted wax at the end. I also have word from the lovely couple behind OLG that they are launching Autumn scents on September 1st, I cannot wait to pick ten one up! Supporting small businesses is so important – now more than ever. I wrote this post a couple of months ago sharing how you can help if you’re wanting to do more.

What else is new:
Honestly, not much! At the beginning of August Matt and I had a little staycation in Scotland, we stayed in South Queensferry for one night and then spent one night in Edinburgh; we had the most amazing time. We just love everything about Edinburgh, it’s my favourite city ever and I’m so grateful we live close enough that we can visit often. I think I mentioned this a little while ago but I’m having really random stomach issues (that may be gluten related – I really hope not) so fingers crossed I can get that figured out soon. Other than that, I am so happy we’re able to go out to eat again! We’ve got two double dates scheduled in for next week with some amazing friends and we’re going on a date night just the two of us – we never eat out three times in a week but we’re making the most of it while we can and I can’t wait. I’m also really excited that our beauty services are back up and running in the UK, I absolutely love having gel nails again. They make me feel so happy and it’s the best self care treat to myself every couple weeks. I can’t recommend my lovely friend Emma enough; if you’re in the southern Northumberland area go check her out!

Well…. I told you it was a long ‘un! How are you all?! I hope you’ve had a great Summer so far, even though this is hands down the weirdest year we’ve ever experienced. It really teaches you to make the most of the little things, right? See you next week my friends! 🙂 

-G x

My Morning Skincare Routine

Happy Monday, my loves! It’s finally time to share my morning skincare routine with you and I’m so excited about it. I know I’ve been talking about this for a while and took a long time to post but I promise it’s worth it, there’s so many good products that I truly love! 

Lots of you will know I struggle with my skin A LOT – if not, you can read about my acne experience here – but right now I’m truly so happy with my routines and my skin. I haven’t had an active pimple in over a month, even when I got my period last week! I genuinely haven’t had skin like this since I started getting acne at around 19/20 years old so you can imagine how happy I am.

I think a huge part of my skin being happy recently has been due to the fact I’m only wearing makeup a couple times per week (gotta love that WFH life) and a solid skincare routine morning and night. I used to love switching products out, trying new things all the time and just messing around with my routine, but now I really don’t have a desire to do that. I’ve finally found a bunch of products that I LOVE and I’m so excited to share them with you all!

For reference, my skin is combination, acne-prone and pretty sensitive. I have a little texture that I’m working on clearing up but other than that I’m super happy with how my face looks right now. I do still have acne scarring and hyperpigmentation but no skincare product will ever change that, I’d need to have laser surgery to fix it. I like that my routine consists of products that are budget friendly (except one!) and even those that seem a little more money are great when I consider how long they last and how many uses I get out of them.

La Roche Posay Effaclar H Cleansing Cream
I love this cleanser so much it actually motivates me to jump out of bed and wash my face in the morning. That’s how good it is. I am generally an evening shower person so I like a cleanser that wakes me up and this really does! It’s so gentle, doesn’t irritate my eyes, doesn’t strip my face and is the perfect thing to take off my evening skincare and prepare my face for the day ahead. It’s super creamy and leaves my face so soft! My favourite thing about this is that it doesn’t leave a film or residue behind which is something I really dislike about a lot of ‘cheaper’ cleansers. It doesn’t make my face feel tight or uncomfortable, it’s just such a nice no-frills product that gets the job done, but feels a little bit luxurious.

Sunday Riley Auto Correct Eye Cream
I’m aware this is the most ridiculously priced, bougie eye cream. I know. BUT, it’s amazing! I would have never purchased this full price but the deal in the Caroline Hirons Kit was incredible and I’m so grateful to have this eye cream, even just for a little while! It’s a pretty big size considering I use the teeniest amount of eye cream, but after realizing how much I love this product I’ve started to ‘save’ it. On my WFH no makeup days I’ve been opting for my trusty CeraVe eye cream (which is ONE FIFTH of the price of the Sunday Riley!!) as I really don’t want to waste the good stuff. But, on the Sunday Riley one; I can see why people who can afford to spend a boat load on skincare buy this. It truly is beautiful! It is very de-puffing – which is great if you’re not the best sleeper, like me! – and it looks almost iridescent when applied; my whole under eye looks brighter immediately, and I do think it helps my concealer to look better too. I often find my concealer under my eyes can look a little dried out by the middle of the day but when I use this I definitely don’t notice that!

La Roche Posay Ultra 8 Mist
I adore this facial spray! I mist my face before and after I use a Hyaluronic Acid serum as I find it absorbs better into damp skin. I’m pretty sure I learned this from a YouTube video a very long time ago. This mist is very hydrating and helps to keep my skin moisturised, it’s really refreshing and I especially feel the benefit from using it on super hot days. I also spray this mist throughout the day; back in the days I used to go into an office (remember them!?) I would keep a bottle on my desk to re-hydrate my face through the day. It doesn’t bother your makeup at all! As I’m home all day working I still pop up to my vanity able and spritz my face once or twice per day! The spray would be great for travel too as it’s pretty much hydration in a bottle. I’ve recently been trying out this Rosewater and Glycerin spray from The Heritage Store which does pretty much the same thing, except it’s half the price of LRP. I need to use it a little more to pick a favourite but I really enjoy using them both.

The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Serum / NIOD Multi Molecular Hyaluronic Complex
I noticed the biggest difference in my skin around two years ago when I first introduced a Hyaluronic Acid serum. My skin is dehydrated, and although it gets worse during super dry or super cold weather, it’s a problem all year round. Using a HA helps to combat this a lot; it helps my skin to stay moisturised and soft. I typically alternate between HA’s from The Inkey List and NIOD because I love them both.I like a lot of other brands too, but these are the two best I’ve tried. Having said that they are very different ends of the pricing scale; I actually would say I prefer The Inkey List over NIOD if I had to choose. Hyaluronic Acid retains moisture in the skin and works to reduce the visibility of fine lines, I’m starting to see a few under my eyes so I always make sure to take it up to that area.

REN EverCalm Global Protection Day Cream
It took me a very long time to find a holy grail moisturiser to use during the day but it was so worth the wait, this stuff is incredible! As my skin is combination, sensitive and acne-prone I have to be careful when it comes to products that stay on the face for long periods of time (like serums or moisturisers). Moisturisers are often too heavy for me to wear all day/night and result in me breaking out and experiencing clogged pores. I truly adore everything I’ve tried from REN’s EverCalm range and none of their products have ever made me break out. This moisturiser is so lightweight but super hydrating; I use less than a full pump each morning and it melts into my skin beautifully. It doesn’t make me any more oily in my T Zone which I love, yet it keeps the rest of my face moisturised and hydrated. I also love how this looks under makeup; it’s the perfect base (along with SPF during the day) that helps my makeup to stay in place. I’m NEVER feeling – or more importantly, looking – shiny at the end of the day any more, that is literally magic!

The Body Shop Skin Defence SPF 50
I am going to write a whole post specifically about SPF in the next few weeks so I’ll try to keep this kinda brief! I wear SPF every single day which I think is so important, it’s not just for those hot, sunny days and I don’t think enough people know this. I have tried a ton of SPF’s and although I like others, this is my go-to and the one I’ve most used/repurchased. The formula was recently changed but I still really like it; a little goes a long way and I find it helps my makeup to look good too! I buy the 60ml size and a tube lasts me around six months (I do sometimes switch out to a different SPF but very rarely) and it’s got very high SPF 50 coverage. As the SPF is so high it does leave a little bit of a white cast but it sinks in quickly and goes away, it helps your skin to look glowy and fresh before and even after makeup application. I find lots of SPF’s I’ve tried are greasy and leave a weird residue on the skin but this doesn’t at all, I do try to leave at least 20 minutes between using this to applying my makeup so maybe give that a try if you struggle with SPF!

I’ll be sharing my evening skincare routine with you soon, but that’s everything I use on a typical morning! Have you tried any of these products? Do you love them as much as I do?! If you’re looking for any new skincare products I 100% recommend all of these, except maybe the Sunday Riley eye cream which is just the craziest price. What are your go-to morning skincare products? I’d love to hear your favourites, too! 

-G x

Beauty Spotlight: CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion

Hi, loves! Today’s post is a little short but a lot sweet, I just couldn’t wait to get this up for you guys 🙂 I shared my first beauty spotlight post a little while ago featuring this Garnier hair mask; in this series I talk about a specific product that I truly love. These are products that deserve a whole post dedicated to them because they’re just that good!

I very recently started using prescription treatment for my skin (thanks to this incredible offer from Dermatica and Caroline Hirons) so right now I’m using the most paired back, back-to-basics skincare routine. I’m using a very minimal amount of products – well, for me anyway – and I actually don’t think I’ll ever go back to using as many products as I used to. 

I have seen a lot of hype around the brand CeraVe over the past year or so, and honestly I’d never been drawn in to try it. I really think this was because the packaging is nothing to write home about, I hadn’t realised how much packaging influences me… stick something in a pretty bottle and I’ll probably buy it. I’m a marketer’s dream! The pretty packaging that looks nice by my bathroom sink or in blog photos is what I have always gravitated towards, but that didn’t mean those products worked best for my skin. I fell in love with Caroline Hirons and everything she teaches a good few years back, and ever since I’ve become more and more interested in skincare; from the ingredients to the story of the brand and everything in-between.

Let’s get one thing straight right now… this is a basic, no-frills moisturiser. And it’s also the best moisturiser I’ve ever used…

I’ve talked about this a few times on my blog, but my skin was VERY oily a few years back. I’ve struggled with acne since my late teens/early twenties, and over the past six months or so my skin seems to have finally evened out. My skin is combination and still (unfortunately) acne prone, but thankfully I definitely get a lot less cystic acne than I used to. I still get those horrible under the skin bumps on my chin/jaw line, especially around the time of my period each month – you’ve just gotta love being a girl don’t you?! – but overall my skin is the best it’s been in a long time. I whole heartedly believe my paired back routine, and in particular this product, has had a huge impact on that.

CeraVe is an American brand that was developed by dermatologists to be easily accessible and affordable. I’m not exactly sure when it made it’s way across the pond but I’m so grateful that we can get it so easily here in the UK! The CeraVe Facial Moisturising Lotion is specifically recommend for use in the evenings – which is when I personally use it – but I’d also happily use this during the day. I’ve tried it a few times after my friend said she used it both morning and night and it is such a great base for makeup, and super hydrating throughout the day. Next time Matt and I travel (whenever that will be…) I’ll definitely just take this to use day and night. 

I’m pretty sure the reason it’s marketed for evening use only is because they sell the same lotion formulated with SPF, for use during the day. I’ve tried that one too and although I used it up I wouldn’t re-purchase as I really love my La Roche Posay Toleraine Ultra, and I personally like to use a separate SPF after my moisturiser instead of using a two-in-one product. 

The lotion is not at all greasy, sinks into my skin so nicely and it’s never once caused me irritation. My skin is very sensitive and so many moisturisers can turn it red and ‘hot’. I just thought that was something that would happen no matter what I used, but now that I’m using gentle products on my skin I’ve realised how many harsh products I was using before. This lotion is super lightweight (which is why it also works great under makeup) and does not pill or feel thick on my face. I hate products that leave a ‘greasy film’ on my face and most moisturisers do this; it’s like my skin tries to overcompensate for the moisture levels or something!

I only use two pumps of this to cover all of my face and neck, so although the packaging is quite small one tube lasts me a really long time. The tube retails for £13 so its extremely affordable and a great option for good quality skincare on a budget.

I think the reason this lotion has been so great for my skin is because of the ingredients. It’s formulated with hyaluronic acid which is great for retaining moisture in your skin and restoring/supporting your skin barrier. Niacinamide is another very important ingredient in the formula; this is formulated in my Dermatica prescription too and it has so many perks. The main things I want niacnimaide to do for my skin is to improve uneven skin tone and scarring (caused by previous acne) and minimize large pores on my nose. I seen a difference within a few weeks from first using this moisturiser, way before I got my prescription.

There’s only one con I can think of… it’s so good my boyfriend steals it. I’ve finally pulled Matthew away from the cheap crap (in quality, not pricing) he was using and now he likes to share my favourite products too. It’s my own fault guys! If I had one tip… maybe buy one for you and one for your partner?

Have you tried this moisturiser? Do you love it as much as I do? I definitely recommend this next time you’re looking for a new no-frills moisturiser, it’s so amazing and it’s so affordable 🙂 also, do you have any other CeraVe recommendations for me? I use (and love) the hydrating cleanser and eye cream, but I’d love to try more! 

-G x