Hey guys 🙂
Well, here it is! I’m so sorry for the delay(s!) in posting this. My op made me feel rougher than anticipated and I’m still building up my stamina now, after 6 long (and boring) weeks in bed. I can get out and about now but a day (or even a few hours) out doing not very much can make me feel whacked for two or three days.
Anyway, FINALLY here’s the blog I started but couldn’t finish while I was recuperating! Thank you all so much for bearing with me. xx
As I’ve mentioned in my short Facebook updates recently, I’ve just had surgery and am recovering in bed at the moment. I’ve not felt up to doing very much at all since the op and today is the first day I’ve set myself any goals which were to watch a movie and to start to write this post [edit: I didn’t get far with this at the time!!], so here I am. 🙂 I’ll start with a little health update (it’s been a while) and then get into the calendar review. I’ll include headings so you can skip the health bit if you prefer.
I’ve not blogged much since my diagnosis early last year. I finally found out, after years of pain, frustration and misdiagnosis, that I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It’s an inherited connective tissue disease which affects collagen and therefore has an effect on muscles (tick), tendons (tick), joints (tick), organs (tick) and pretty much every structure in the body. When I look back with the benefit of hindsight there are clear EDS indicators right back to my childhood but we just didn’t know what to look for.
I had heard of EDS before but only because Cherylee Houston, Coronation Street’s first disabled actress, has it and there have been a couple of storylines around it. I knew very little about it though. It’s relatively rare which is the inspiration behind the EDS community’s adoption of the zebra as its mascot. Apparently medical students are advised during training: “When you hear hoof-beats, think horses not zebras.” In other words, think of the most common explanation for any given symptom or combination of symptoms and treat on that basis.
The problem is, zebras DO exist and a failure to acknowledge and properly consider rarer explanations can lead to delay in diagnosis, a lack of knowledge and support and misinformation.
EDS symptoms also mimic other conditions and patients are often misdiagnosed for many years, even decades. It’s a condition you’re born with so I’ve had it for 40 years but I really only had 4 years of acute symptoms prior to my diagnosis, so (although it didn’t feel that way at the time) I was one of the lucky ones.
So yes, we refer to ourselves as zebras and I have to say that I’ve found the community on the whole to be supportive and a fantastic source of information.
When (pre-diagnosis) I read an article on EDS, I (a) cried and (b) went straight online and bought myself a Pandora charm. I knew that what I’d read explained everything the past 4 years’ diagnoses had failed to explain. I knew this was the answer I’d been lacking and I wanted something tangible to commemorate what I felt was a significant milestone. My Pandora charm was just that. I chose the design closest to a DNA string I could find! I sent the article to my GP and asked her to refer me to a specialist. My GP is great and has been almost as frustrated as me about the lack of an adequate explanation for my symptoms these last few years. She referred me straightaway. When I eventually saw the specialist he said there was “no doubt about it” and I cried again. It is such a relief to know what the issue is, to finally understand how my body works and how and why things go wrong. I also felt vindicated in refusing to accept diagnoses which just didn’t sit right with me. None of them explained all my symptoms and I knew there would come a day when something would. There were times I was encouraged to give up, sometimes by those in the medical profession and sometimes those close to me. They told me that whatever the latest diagnosis was (whether it was dystonia, fibromyalgia or one of the others) was “all” I had. (“All” certainly requires inverted commas because each of these conditions has a significant effect on a person’s quality of life. They are both extremely painful, chronic and distressing conditions and I certainly don’t want to minimise that.) However, for me I knew there was more to it. There were too many symptoms which lacked explanation and didn’t quite fit with any given diagnosis. Although there were times I was tempted to give up searching for answers, when I eventually found out about EDS, it ALL fell into place.
Despite the relief and vindication, EDS is a difficult diagnosis to receive. There is no cure and it isn’t going to go away. It’s simply a question of managing symptoms. I had always hoped that when I finally found out what was wrong, it could be cured and I could have my previously healthy life back. The impossibility of that hit me harder than expected and affected me in ways I wasn’t prepared for. But anyway, enough of that, let’s move on to brighter things!
Advent calendar – overall impressions
As predictable as Christmas itself, I opted for the Look Fantastic calendar again! I’ve found it unbeatable in terms of value for money and as this year I’m only reviewing one, I wanted to make it a goodie. I expect there will be some repeats but I’m alright with that.
The calendar design this year is my favourite yet. It’s ENORMOUS, really heavy and is made up of 4 pull out drawers literally crammed full of goodies. Inside, there’s a box for every day and each box contains a beauty treat wrapped in tissue paper. It’s like opening a Christmas prezzy every day.
Once I’ve finished, I’ll keep the box. I plan to fasten the decorated doors to the sides and use the drawers for little dressing table bits and pieces. It’s a great idea to present the calendar in a reusable form like this as having it on my dressing table for 12 months will hopefully remind me to order my next one. Great marketing!
I opened the first 4 doors a while back. I was planning/hoping to get ahead of myself even so far back as November but that didn’t happen, so here we are.
I’m also going to include a little caveat before we get into it and say that as I’m recovering I may not blog every day and the posts are likely to be shorter than usual (and certainly shorter than this one!) The first 4 may be a little longer than the rest as I’ve had the benefit of being able to use those products a few times. After that, you may find the posts get shorter (hooray, I hear you cry!)
I also may sometimes use stock images rather than my own, as this will mean I can blog from my phone when I’m having a bad day.
Day 1 – Illamasqua Lava Lips Marbled Lipstick
In box number 1 we hit the ground running with a 3.6g Illamasqua lipstick in shade Vixen (3770) which appears to have been a shade exclusive to Look Fantastic although it can now be found on third party retail sites such as Amazon and eBay.
The Lava Lips product description refers to a 4g product whereas this is 3.6g. However, 4g may be the rounded up figure so I can’t confirm whether or not this is truly full sized. A full sized Illamasqua Lava Lips retails for £20, so either way, this is a fantastic value treat to kick off with.
The gorgeous marbled effect is so pretty it’s almost a shame to use it!
It’s a very creamy lipstick to apply but goes on almost matte, so make sure your lips are in good condition before you apply it. I can’t recommend Lush’s lip scrubs highly enough – my personal favourite is Honey. If you don’t have a scrub and don’t fancy making your own, you can always use a soft, dry toothbrush instead. Once you’ve done that, apply a good quality lip balm. Again, my fave is unsurprisingly from Lush! It’s called Honey Trap. If you scrub your lips and apply balm in the evening before bed, they’ll be in perfect condition for your lippy in the morning.
I LOVE the colour of this lipstick. It’s gorgeous. It makes teeth look whiter and would probably suit most skin tones.
I had no other makeup on so these photos aren’t great. The second is particularly awful but it shows how white it made my teeth look!
Illamasqua is a higher end brand so I expected good things in terms of wear. However, I was disappointed. After drinking my morning coffee, a lot of it had already gone. Although I was left with that (usually particularly unflattering) thick lipliner look, it didn’t look too bad in this shade. Had it been darker it would have been more noticeable.
I didn’t eat or drink anything then until lunchtime. Although a tiny bit still wore off before I had my lunch, it wasn’t too bad. After lunch, it had all gone. Completely. This certainly isn’t a match for my favourite Lord & Berry Lipstick Crayons in terms of wear and low maintenance.
So, overall it’s a lovely colour and finish but it’s high maintenance and you’d probably have to reapply every hour or so. I don’t do high-maintenance. If I have to keep reapplying lippy, I just give up. This won’t be making an appearance in my handbag anytime soon. That said, I know I’m probably in the lazy minority and if you don’t mind frequently reapplying, this might just be the lippy for you.
Either way, it’s a great value item to get us started.
6/10 (which includes an extra half point for value!)