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Makeup Review: Kiko, NYX, Australis

Hi everyone,

I am finally doing makeup review! It’s been way too long since I’ve done one so I have a lot of things I could potentially talk about, but I knew I had to start with these.

Especially this:

Kiko Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 06 Golden Brown

Kiko Long Lasting Stick Eyeshadow in 06 Golden Brown

I’ve owned this for over a year now, and I use it constantly. It is one of my two go-to items for eye makeup for work. I tend to use it as a liner and for shading in the outer corner and crease. This eyeshadow stick sets really quickly and is difficult to blend once it’s set however. When I use it as eyeshadow I have to move fast and blend with my fingers. Having said that, I have absolutely no dramas with unwanted transfers! The packaging does not lie!

I adore the colour of this, and despite the general advice of not wearing too much glitter if you have hooded and/or heavy eyes, I find that this product is an exception to the rule for me.

One more thing—I have about an inch of the product left in the stick, despite it being one of my two go-to products for over a year. “A little goes a long way” is an absolute understatement! It has such a saturated colour to it that one swipe is all I need, especially when I’m using it as liner. It has a really creamy texture, but the glitter is very fine, so it glides on smoothly. It is very easy to do a variety of gorgeous makeup looks; I know Google Images has my back on this!

Animal status: Kiko state on their website that they are animal friendly and they choose not to be leaping bunny certified because of the fees and registration required with private entities. I’m skeptical though. I don’t think these products are normally able to be purchased in/from Australia (I received this as a souvenir from a family member’s overseas travels), so I’m not too concerned at the moment. When the product starts to run out, I’ll think about it some more.

 

My family member also gave me one Kiko’s Colour Sphere eyeshadows:

Kiko Colour Sphere Eyeshadow in 06 Forest Green Melange

Kiko Colour Sphere Eyeshadow in 06 Forest Green Melange

I haven’t been wearing this one as much because I’ve only just started learning how to apply eyeshadow for hooded/heavy eyes been in a big eyeliner phase, but I adore the colours in this eyeshadow! When my family member gave these to me, they said that they saw these colours and thought of me instantly. They couldn’t have been more correct! This eyeshadow also matches well with the eyeshadow stick.

I get a bit of fallout when I apply this eyeshadow, but not a lot. It does have some glitter to it but not a lot. It has a great colour saturation and it blends well. The powder is really fine, which makes applying it evenly a real dream. I love mixing it in with my neutrals, but I wouldn’t recommend this shade in particular to anyone who has a cool-toned complexion.

Animal status: as above.

 

I decided to grab an eye primer a while ago. I didn’t know what to grab but I decided on this:

NYX Eyeshadow Base in Skin Tone

NYX Eyeshadow Base in Skin Tone

It’s a risk that came with reward, for me! Again, despite the hooded/heavy eyes it does the job. The colour of the product is ever so slightly too yellow, but it’s not entirely noticeable, especially in the warmer months when my skin is more tanned. For the days when it stands out more, I apply neutral eyeshadow or skin-toned powder over the top before applying other eyeshadows. This primer also helps to brighten up the inner corners of my eyes, and hide eye veins. The colour is really opaque and the texture is very creamy, which makes blending it into my skin quite easy.

I’ve found that this primer does extend my eye makeup—particularly eyeshadows—for a few extra hours. It does for some eyeliners as well, but other eyeliners have just been a lost cause, and their insistence on transferring and smudging is not something I fault the base for. In summary, it does its job really well, but it’s not Superman. Definitely worth what I paid for, however!

Animal status: NYX is owned by L’Oreal, and it has “Made in P.R.C” (People’s Republic of China?) written on my tub of primer. But PETA published this earlier in year, and NYX have the bunny logo on this product as well. Ultimately, If it’s good enough for PETA, it’s good enough for me!

 

Lastly, I just had to mention this:

Australis Mix It Up Foundation in Nude

Australis Mix It Up Foundation in Nude

It’s been a while since I bought a foundation that isn’t a powder, but I was feeling a need for heavier coverage, and the powder alone wasn’t cutting it. I went back to Australis because I used to use some of their foundation as well, but they no longer sold that particular type. Instead, they were selling this. It was on sale. I decided to try it and it’s been a huge success!

This foundation can withstand a sunny day with temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius, even without setting powder. Not all foundations can do that! I grabbed this foundation in its Nude shade, and it’s still working for me despite the changing seasons—I bought this in the spring, and it’s so far carried me into the summer without the shade varying too differently from my skin. It’s colour-correcting aspect is effective; the only spots it doesn’t cover are spots that would take a mountain of concealer to hide in the first place. I look brighter, more awake, and my skin tone more even.

I tend to apply this foundation with my hands, dabbing dots near the center of my face, my chin and on my forehead (to a lesser extent), and blend it out by making a tapping motion—the same way one would use a sponge. I find my hands work better than using a sponge, however, as the heat of my hands helps it blend in more. I do usually set my foundation with powder, and when I do it lasts all day (a solid 8 hours at least). I do find myself needing to use a fair bit of this product, but for the results I get, it’s worth it. This foundation also has SPF 25 in it, which is great.

Animal status: Friendly, and this particular product is also vegan!

 

That’s it for this time, but I have plenty of other things to talk about once I do a bit more road testing! They’re not products and/or brands I usually get, and I know it will be great to talk about something different. Until next time, take care!

Veggies

Quitting Sugar: Part 3

It’s now been more than eight weeks since I began the ‘I Quit Sugar’ (IQS) experiment! The changes that I’ve noticed are still changes that I’m getting used to. I’ve talked about them a little in my last post, but I’m going to go into more detail about it.

Before I do though, I want to highlight that my eight week sugar-free challenge was far from perfect. I messed up a good handful of times, especially at the end when I caught myself starting to “relax” a little. There were consequences to that; I discovered I sometimes need to make these mistakes to learn the hard way. It helped me break these long-standing habits of mine. I wouldn’t recommend doing it this way at all, but I’m a bit of a dope, frankly, and this has helped me change my habits quickly!

So, on to the things I’ve noticed. Most importantly, my upper threshold for added sugar seems set at 13 grams sugar per 100 grams of food—the level of the Lindt 85%. I’ve been very slowly testing other things to find my limit and it’s had definite results, including:

  • Most of foods taste different to me now. I tried eating a mint chocolate cookie ice cream, and at 26g sugar/100g food, it upsets my digestive system just as bad—if not worse—as wheat, rye and barley used to.My tolerances for these grains have risen, but not enough for me to feel comfortable leaving a gluten-free diet. My tolerance for chilli has risen enormously, and some fruits taste a lot more acidic than they used to. I now get a bad case of the munchies after drinking.
  • I need to tweak recipes a lot so I can enjoy them again. I made a secret butter chicken recipe of my dad’s, and I did it without paying attention to the total sugar that was going in there. Bad move. Neither my boyfriend and I could stomach it too well, and the flavours tasted entirely different. Hopefully I can go a long time before he finds out (I dread that conversation because I don’t want to upset him), but I definitely need to invent a minimal-sugar version.
  • I need to tweak IQS recipes a lot as well. As much as it was the thing that kept that snap decision in check, their recipes vary significantly in quality, from weekly staples to complete failures. The lack of consistency in their quality puts me off trying other recipes or investing further. This is ok though; it means I’ll be looking at other sites for inspiration, and learning more about cooking by having to experiment a lot more.
  • I have no significant weight loss. Having said that, I’m a mega couch potato. I think that combined with exercise, people could very well lose weight. After all, it is essentially cutting out the vast majority of junk food and just eating goodness. Well, good food most of the time, anyway.
  • I need to work on peer pressure. Some people I know just don’t understand why I did this experiment and what this experiment means for me, so they are concerned for my health (which I appreciate, but not being able to eat junk food is better than being able to scoff it like I used to!). So on a couple of occasions I’ve had food that I’d normally avoid so I don’t end up being that person. People react poorly enough when they learn I have low tolerances for wheat, rye and barley. Sometimes I don’t have the strength to explain sugar as well. I’m actively working on addressing the problems with recipes and cementing the limits in my brain so when these days do come up, I’m much less likely to relapse.

I know this list sounds mostly negative, but I’m proud of how I’ve done. Now, whether I like it or not, I’m no longer a slave to junk food and junk food cravings. Most of the time I can ignore the cravings, but when I can’t, I indulge in them and fully own the sickness that comes afterwards, so I really know not to do it again. Being conscious of how sick I feel afterwards has helped keep me on track more than anything else (but if you don’t feel yourself needing to eat it, then don’t. That’s even better).

One thing I’d like to note: My doctor gave me the ok for trying all of this. Please do check with your doctor about doing IQS, or any other massive diet change. I know it might seem like a pain, but it’s honestly worth it. If you check in with your doctor before starting, they can more effectively help you if you start experiencing bad side effects.

Veggies

Quitting Sugar: Part 2

A few weeks have passed since I wrote the first entry. There hasn’t been a lot to say, and any changes that I have noticed and talked about are changes that most people don’t really believe. I’ve completed week 5 of the challenge now. Week 4 was supposed to be the hard week, but I didn’t find it so difficult. This is partly because I already eat gluten-free food almost all the time, and partly because I’m still misbehaving. The changes I’ve noticed even with my misbehaviour, however, have still been amazing. The changes included:

  • My ability to tolerate alcohol dramatically lessening. I noticed this the most on week 2, when I had only one glass of wine and felt tipsy. In the subsequent weeks I have admittedly consumed way more alcohol than the challenge recommends. I know that is something I need to work on changing.
  • 85% dark chocolate tasting sweet now. Well more like good chocolately goodness with a weirdly sweet aftertaste. Lindt 90% has been ok for us, however. The Lindt 90% only has 6 grams of sugar per 100g of chocolate (which is still slightly more than recommended but I was having one of those days), but the 85% has 13 grams of sugar per 100 grams of chocolate. It doesn’t sound like much difference, but it is definitely noticeable.
  • Not judging people who voluntarily eat restricted diets anymore. I’ve harbored a secret frustration towards people who eat gluten-free even though they don’t experience damaging side effects from eating it. That stopped recently because my boyfriend and I discovered a great burger place (I know we’re not really supposed to be discovering new burger places, but it happened). The burgers were amazing, but the regular burger bun looked like it was glazed, while the gluten-free bun wasn’t. I can’t blame my boyfriend for ordering the gluten-free bun from now on. In the spirit of not being a hypocrite, I let that attitude extend outward and got over my frustrations.
  • Cool Ridge water tasting weirdly sweet. Something else my boyfriend pointed out. I didn’t believe him at first but then I tried some myself, and he was right. We give the plants a water then just refill the bottles with tap water and it’s fine. We haven’t noticed any other brands of bottled water that are like this.
  • Not being able to eat the junk food that I used to. I broke a couple of days ago, and bought a gluten-free triple choc cookie. The amount of sugar it had in it made me sick for hours. The only reason I don’t regret it because remembering how sick I felt will help me keep off it in the future.
This just looks like sickness to me now.

This just looks like sickness to me now.

Replacing the habits that I’ve made with sugary food have been the most important thing. Sometimes they’ve been replaced with alcohol and chips, which is not great. Most of our rituals actually died a while ago, however, and it’s starting to feel ok without them. The hardest thing is giving it time to feel ok. It’s hard to imagine life without these things and it takes effort to replace the associations that just seem to come so naturally sometimes.

I’m up to the week where we’re allowed to introduce fruit again, which I think will help me make healthier choices as well. I’m very interested in seeing how well I will be able to handle eating it, and what sort of effects it will have.

Veggies

Quitting Sugar: Part 1

Yep, I’m up to crazy things again. It wasn’t really my idea, though. Sure, I’d given up drinking cola, but other sodas ever so slowly crept back into my diet. My personal record for days going without chocolate is ten; the smell of the chocolate became so strong in those days I went without it that I lost willpower. I found myself eating chocolate and not really liking it until I was hooked again, and enjoying/”enjoying” it. So why am I trying to give it up all at once?

“I want to stop eating sugar.” This simple but strong statement came from my boyfriend’s mouth last weekend, out of nowhere. We weren’t even in conversation. I remember feeling surprised and a bit excited. I agreed to try with him, and we started searching all over the internet for helpful suggestions. The one thing that came up over and over was Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar. I instantly went into skeptic mode, which my addicted self noticed and tried to take advantage of. “You don’t really want to do this, do you?” It asked me. “Limit yourself further and become someone people are even more frustrated with?” (The wheat sensitivity is a bit of a buzz–kill sometimes. Honestly, as much as the freedom would be nice, it just goes to show how mindlessly we like to consume.) Thankfully, an image of what I could potentially look like with the lost weight flashed through my brain and it killed the thought. Guard up, I started wading through Wilson’s world.

I knew that not everything presented in her work was 100% solid, but the purported silliness of it wasn’t there. Some of these rumors Wilson has made sure to squash herself, like a foreverban on fruit that I remembered hearing about. Not all sugars are avoided, but added sugars are, and all forms of fructose are for six weeks—her eight–week program is essentially a detox. So if you’re not addicted to sugar, then congratulations! This program probably isn’t necessary for you. I, however, was a massive junkie and had been probably since the womb (and definitely since I was a toddler). I’m just a week into this, however, but there has already been massive changes.

Week one of the program recommends cutting out as much sugar as you possibly can, so the shock isn’t as great when going into full–detox mode in week two. While we haven’t been golden–star children this week, what we have achieved has been greatly encouraging. The changes we’ve both noticed include:

  • Better moods. Both of our moods have greatly improved already. My boyfriend in particular has really noticed the improvements in this regard. I’m finding I can handle things better—my mind already feels a little clearer and my focus has improved slightly.
    • Interestingly enough we both noticed good changes while experiencing bad side effects from coming off sugar as well. The side effects I experienced included headaches, mood swings, a persistent dizzy spell, and found it hard to fall asleep. By day five these side effects had significantly lessened. It took much longer for the withdrawal symptoms to kick in for my boyfriend, however, and they seemed to hit him a lot harder.
  • Cravings have changed. Both of us have already struggled with cravings. However, the subconscious cravings* have mostly passed and really sweet things are already starting to taste gross. An example of this I noticed was a couple of nights ago when I ate a leftover museli bar when the meal we had made turned out to be a bit of a fail. I didn’t really like it but I ate it anyway, hoping the fuel would be enough. It wasn’t. I mentioned it briefly, but when my boyfriend noticed he was also hungry he had one too. He ate less than half of a bar and couldn’t tolerate the taste. We used to eat these muesli bars regularly. Food is also starting to smell different—some things we can already smell the sweetness in as soon as we open the packet, which we couldn’t notice before.
    • *Many years of my life I’ve spent just sitting about and then suddenly feeling like chocolate or cola or ice cream just out of nowhere. I’m already at the point where I usually don’t just feel like it anymore, but cravings still come quite strongly from external stimuli or concretely thinking about it. I’m hoping this will lessen as I go along. I started craving chocolate out of nowhere on day seven, but I know this will pass too.
Seriously, even finding this image was a tough exercise for me.

Seriously, even finding this image was a tough exercise for me.

  • We have a meal plan back. We used to have one, and it disappeared underneath work schedules. This detox forced us to sit down and really figure out a compatible, more bullet-proof plan. Cooking everything in one day (or as few days as possible) has been admittedly taxing, but I know it’s going to come in handy for the rest of the week because we know we’ve got food already waiting at home for us.
    • Shopping online has been a bit of a lifesaver. While we haven’t been able to get everything we need, it’s helped us avoid falling into the trap of getting take–away or an unhealthy snack. You can’t get lazy when you’re not surrounded by restaurants!
  • The ability to accurately listen to our bodies is becoming stronger. Now that we’re giving it a break, our bodies have finally been able to speak up about what they want in regards to sugar and nutrition. This kind of thing has happened to me once before. Initially I thought it was a curse, but it hasn’t been—it’s just been my body demanding I listen to it, rather than just eating whatever. I’m still tripped out at how much I now enjoy eating baby spinach and leafy greens though! I can also taste the sugar in things like sun–dried tomatoes now, which is also odd but also good.
  • Talking to a good doctor about any diet change is important. Again, I tried this once before and it ultimately wasn’t too helpful because this doctor didn’t really care. He had no reason to; we had no working relationship at all. This time, however, things are different. My boyfriend and I have been seeing one particular doctor for a while now, who we both have a really established working relationship with. He’s aware of our full medical history. My boyfriend was the one who proved this was important to me—he decided to bring up the changes with him (I’d decided not to), and the doctor suggested some alterations based on our current conditions. The suggestions have been very helpful, and I’m glad he said something.
  • Improved sleep patterns. I’m not sure if it’s coincidence, but I’ve noticed my sleep pattern shifting to something more “normal.” Staying up until midnight is already a struggle, and not the norm. I’m starting to get up earlier, as well.
  • Weight loss. Perhaps it’s a tad early to call it, but my waist and hip measurements have already lessened. My scale batteries died and I only just replaced them this afternoon, so I’ll be able to get a numerical figure tomorrow morning.

I’d like to think that it just gets easier from here, but I know there will probably be a few bumps. I’ve been having fun discovering better ways to eat and what ways no longer work. If I listen to my body and ignore old habits, I’ll get through this eight weeks and be a healthier being once I’m done. I’ve done it before on a smaller scale, and this time I have a partner.

Full_face_cpap_mask

How to Breathe, Part 6 (The End!?)

Hi everyone! In my last post in this series, I hit brick walls with my progress, visited a few different specialists, and learned a lot more about my body and how it works. In this post, I’ll do my best to cover everything that’s been happening since then—this includes the osteopath/chiropractor treatments, better retainer options, and (finally) jumping ship on my dentist!

The chiropractor treatments have been amazing. I knew the business operated holistically (using a blend of eastern and western approaches), but it was incredible to see it in action. The chiropractor I see primarily operates using Kinesiology. I know it’s something many seem to consider dubious, but it was working really well for my boyfriend, who is a bigger skeptic than I am when it comes to alternative medicine. He had quickly become a champion for the place, so I wasn’t too concerned. When treatment began for me, I found no new reason to worry. Treatment started with an initial assessment and receiving the results a couple of days later; something which may have overwhelmed me had I not seen my boyfriend go through the process first. He had told me the outcome of his tests and I expected similar results in some areas (I wasn’t disappointed). The body was then to be treated according to four different categories: Structural, Hormonal, Emotional and Nutritional. The structural involves things like bone and muscle, the type of treatment that people assume they’ll receive when they see a chiropractor. Hormonal involves everything hormones related, emotions involve treating the physiological effects of emotions on the body, and nutritional involves all things related to nutrition. For me, all four were a mess, so no category really significantly stood out as needing priority to begin with. The most intensive phase of treatment began the week after I received my results.

I’m halfway through the second phase of treatment, which means I don’t have to make appointments as often. The structural things fixed the easiest, and the nutritional things have been the most stubborn. Knowing my genetics, I’m not surprised in the slightest. I’m very happy that the structural things have fixed up easily because posture was a big part of what I was struggling to correct with the speech pathologist, and now it’s noticeably improved. Of course, I am also happy that everything else is in the process of healing as well; my overall health and wellbeing has improved greatly.

While these appointments were happening, I was also due for an appointment with my dentist. It was an appointment that was long overdue. I was apparently fine to stop wearing the Myobrace months ago, but since I didn’t feel confident about going to bed without something to protect my teeth, I had still worn it. I wasn’t happy at all about hearing this, but there was not much I could have done to make it into the dentist sooner, as our availabilities hadn’t matched up for a long time. From here, I had two options: to have a thick hard plastic retainer made, or to get braces on my top jaw to widen my teeth. He recommended the braces because permanently widening the jaw would significantly further my ability to breathe, whereas the retainer would protect my teeth and ease the pain, but nothing else. I didn’t quite like either option, and not just because they were expensive. I was desperate to escape the pain from the Myobrace and still be able to protect my teeth, however, so I chose to have a retainer made for me.

I ended up regretting choosing that option, however, because the retainer hadn’t helped relieve the jaw pain at all. I also knew my boyfriend had nifty little jaw splints—two special little retainers that only sat over the back three molars on the bottom jaw which helped alleviate jaw pain and protect the teeth—and they had worked wonderfully for him. The pain quickly grew to the point where it was truly unbearable. Every day I was in agony, and all the various things I tried only alleviated the pain a little, and very temporarily. I cursed my misplaced loyalty and wasted money, and booked into the same dentist clinic my boyfriend visited.

It was absolutely wonderful to be treated at this clinic. They also work holistically to a degree, but most of the work performed focused on the typical aspects of dentistry. I had just booked in for a consultation/second opinion, but I ended up having splints made straight away, which I was very happy with. This too was a costly process, but this time it was worth it. My jaw pain is back to tolerable levels because the splints take the pressure off it at night. I still find myself taping my mouth shut most nights because I find I sleep even better when I do. The difference was noticeable for me within the first week.

My breathing still isn’t fully there yet. There are many reasons for that, including my body not being 100% structurally corrected (although now much better than before), and my windpipe is actually considered to be tiny—hearing this filled me with fear and anger because I had been previously told it was OK by my surgeon, and I didn’t want to doubt the surgery I had received. My dentist sympathised with the braces process and doesn’t want to “make [me] go through it a second time,” but depending on how things go with my other specialists, I may need to anyway.

The plan is to go through treatment with my chiropractor, and when that’s finished or he otherwise gives approval, to go back to my breathing specialist for a breathing course. After that, if necessary, I will go back to the speech pathologist as well. I’m essentially working backwards through the specialists now. At the same time I’m still going to my new dentist. He works closely with my chiropractor due to their similar approaches, and they often meet to discuss mutual patients. It’s been quite a process, but I am confident that this—and so many other things I thought I’d just have to put up with for forever!—will eventually be fixed. From an evolutionary standpoint I definitely was not designed to survive, and I am so grateful that I can get access to these services that will greatly extend my lifespan. I had somehow known that my life would be shorter than average for many years, but that’s a feeling that isn’t as strong anymore.

I very much look forward to coming out the other side of all of this, ready to take on the world in ways that I couldn’t before. This simple inquiry into teeth grinding expanded into this massive treatment for every aspect of my body. Not only has my breathing improved, but my posture has dramatically changed, my anxiety and depression has been concretely explained on physiological grounds and is in the process of being treated, and I learned I may not have to live with this gluten intolerance forever. It’s been an amazing journey, and it’s still continuing. I have no idea what will happen next, or when I can write about breathing again. I do, however, highly recommend anyone to investigate any niggling, chronic health issues they may have—it may feel like opening a can of worms, but sorting the can of worms out is one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done, and I believe that the result will be similar for anyone else who chooses to do the same.

Tattooing

My First Tattoo Experience

A month ago I traveled back to my hometown to visit my family. During that time, I had decided, I was going to get a tattoo. I spent most of my time feeling really excited, and not that nervous. The tattoo was successful, and although it could do with a slight touch-up, it still looks great. I wanted to share my experience to add to the good accounts I found on the internet whilst looking for advice (the reason why I was mostly calm!).

I had been contemplating getting a tattoo for quite some time now, but I had never found anything that I loved enough to want to etch into my skin. In hindsight, I realised I had approached it wrong – I knew it was generally a good idea to pick something with “meaning,” but in knowing that, I was trying to find things that represented aspects of who I am. This failed for me, because I was changing as a person, and I still am today. So this sort of “meaningful” tattoo was never going to work. What I did decide on, however, was a symbol that really summed up my entire life to that point (and probably won’t date for quite a while, either). It covers everything, from the absolute darkest points of my life, to the brightest and happiest, and thus is a symbol of testimony for how God has always looked out for me. It’s not a symbol that is outright associated with Christianity, but it has a similar effect – if it was on display, people would probably ask why and I could tell them the answer, using the opportunity to preach it. It isn’t often visible due to placement, but I know that if it ever is, it could be used as a wonderful story of faith.

Other important things to know about the tattoo is that it’s about palm-sized, it has some colour but is mostly black, and the inks that this particular studio used were plant-based inks, so I didn’t have to fret about skin reactions as much. I still did fret a bit, however, because my experience with piercings is a bit unusual. It all turned out to be 100% fine, even the red colouring, which is the one that people are most likely to react to, due to chemical makeup.

I hadn’t always intended on getting ink while I was visiting my family, but I didn’t know of any good artists that are local to me now, so I am relieved that it worked out the way it did. I also took my dad with me. He was wonderful company, and was chattier than I was, which helped break the ice with the artist. The artist was wonderfully friendly. The studio was clean and had awesome art on display, at least some of which included art created by the artists who worked at the studio. The artist made a stencil from the artwork I had provided using Photoshop, and then printed it out on a transfer once the size was confirmed as good. I showed him where I wanted it, he shaved the area at large, lined it up more specifically, and then we started. Lining it up was a tad trickier than I expected it to be because I am knock-kneed, but because I’d had some amazing chiropractor work done recently, my legs were behaving enough so I could properly straighten them out for long enough to get the image straight.

As for the tattoo itself, I didn’t find it unbearably painful. For me, it felt like a cat scratch in slow mode and injections in fast mode were happening at the same time. It was a little hard to take to begin with, and I did need to stop a little bit, but it wasn’t intolerable, and it did get easier as it progressed.

As for healing, I followed the instructions I was given. I used a product called Tat2 Butt’r (similar to the Holey Butt’r I use for my stretched piercings), and it’s been amazing stuff. I still have quite a bit left over now, even though the container is small. A little goes a long way with it, and it is really handy to bring when traveling. My skin started significantly flaking off five days after, and the butter helped it not feel so abrasive. It was also incredibly moisturising without having to pack it on densely to get an effect.

In a nutshell, here are some tips:

  • If you have any family that are tattooed, ask them about their experience. Pain tolerances, allergies etc are (arguably) genetic things, so you will be able to more accurately gauge how you will go. The more immediate the family member the better.
    • If you’re still not sure about your tolerances, pick a small design.
  • Bring along a soda or something sugary with you. I bought a (non-alcoholic!!) ginger beer and a pack of lifesavers, and they made the tattooing process so much easier, as they helped to counter the adrenaline. Keeping your adrenaline in check is one of the most important things when it comes to tattooing, as it affects how much pain you may feel.
    • My pain tolerances and healing abilities are similar to my Dad. He absolutely stressed that I needed to grab a drink before going in there, and that was because when he got his done, his palms became really sweaty, and a drink helped his body to calm down. My body did exactly the same thing. My feet also became sweaty near the end, but the sugar made it much more bearable.
  • Research your artist! The artist I picked was not only someone who had been doing it for a while, but his major style was something quite similar to what my design was. Another artist I was contemplating was also very skilled, but her major art style was a lot different, so I didn’t end up choosing her. I also recommend picking someone who has a bit more experience if you are a larger person. This is because the skin needs to be taut as it is being tattooed, and the larger you are, the harder it is to make the skin taut. An apprentice may find this more difficult (and let’s be real, while I’m all for enabling people to gain experience, I’m not that noble).
    • Also make sure you’re comfortable with the person – again, being at ease is super important. If you don’t feel comfortable asking the artist questions, you may not feel comfortable asking for a break when you need one.
  • Be patient with your tattoo as it heals! It is itchy because it is healing. It is flaking because it is healing. Picking and scratching only messes up the ink underneath. Sometimes I found myself picking at the flakes subconsciously, and I’d make myself stop. When it was really unbearable, I’d rub the area, as if super lightly massaging it. I’ve had minimal colour loss as a result.
    • Disclaimer: The areas that I’m concerned about potentially needing touch-ups are areas that I remember the artist going back for a little bit the first time, and they would have been harder to tell whether enough ink had been injected into the area (as opposed to the areas that are totally fine in regards to colour). I’m also a larger person!
  • If you’re in a position like I am and you weren’t given/sold specific products to use for healing your tattoo, make sure you pick an ointment that isn’t too oily or dense. The Tat2 Butt’r I used was lovely and lightweight, but I was also recommended Bepanthen. Bepanthen isn’t something unanimously recommended however; I can only speak for what I used, and it was awesome.
    • The reason why you have to be careful with ointments is the same reason many people will tell you not to go to the beach or submerge your tattoo otherwise – the tattoo being dunked in water (especially saltwater), or smothered in ointment can risk extra ink being driven from the tattoo, resulting in the need to get it touched up sooner rather than later.
  • Don’t take anything with Ibuprofen before, during or right after the tattoo as it thins the blood. Same with getting drunk or high, for more obvious reasons. If you are on blood thinners or need to have blood regularly taken, thoroughly consult your doctor(s) and artist(s) about you have in mind before getting ink.

That’s about all the advice I have on tattooing, and that’s my story. I regard my tattoo as well done – I’m not bothered by the fact it isn’t perfect, I’m still in love with it now, and I’m sure I’ll love it for many years to come. I hope this post was beneficial to those contemplating; I wish you luck. Thank you for reading!

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On Bill Cosby and Victim Blaming

There are probably many of these articles floating around on the internet right now, with ranging opinions, so I wasn’t sure about what voice I had to offer. I’m not even that familiar with Bill Cosby either, to be honest. The things that he is most famous for were before my time, and I never felt much of a need to go back and find out what I had missed (Having said that, I do have vague memories of “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”). That may well be why when these most recent allegations of sexual assault arose, I didn’t feel all that shattered. For a while, I didn’t actually care—well honestly, it was more like I just didn’t have the energy (Something I regard as a downside of the style of social justice movements that have been springing up a lot in recent years, and I may very well expand on in another post.).

But then more stories started to appear. Even I started feeling the hurt, knowing that someone so famous, who seemed so loved that generations had enjoyed his entertainment, had hurt people in this way. I am writing about it now because of this beautiful article by Deborah King on the Huffington Post, which not only talks about the current situation with Bill Cosby, but expands out to discuss the hardship of rape in general. Please read it, and come back.

 

The space of time between my own experience and the creation of this article was only 9 months (and just 3 months after realisation and acknowledgement). Even then I remember wondering about the wisdom of it, and whether I was being too hasty. Had I even healed enough? The answer was perhaps— my advice today still doesn’t really change, although at that point I still had quite a long way to go – but this is besides the point. Despite these questions, I already had a burning desire to release this pain safely, to have it acknowledged, and to help others after just 3-9 months. I remember how crippling the pain of trying to keep it to myself felt. It was so heavy, I felt dull and yet it stung; the pain was strong. And yet these women have held onto this for decades.

Decades.

It blows my mind and churns my insides just trying to imagine being in that pain for so long. That pain of having everything taken away from you, and having to fight like mad to get it back. And it really does feel like everything. Your autonomy, your voice. Your rights. Any chance for respect from others and yourself. Your ability to trust. Friends. Family. These are just some of the things are at risk of being lost, if they haven’t already been taken, and the reason they are at risk is because of the painful dialogue that swirls around survivors. At a time when a survivor’s trust has been violated to the worst degree, this is when they needed to be trusted the most. I remember the wounds I received from people who were unable to respond properly. As I’ve said before, the gravity of sexual assault is not the easiest thing to be able to empathise with, but responses that are gross and offensive usually involve asking for more information, making assumptions, and displaying distrust. What constitutes a helpful response, however, depends on the individual. They may voice certain needs, they may be the type of person who needs a (gentle!) push to get help, they may be more independent but need support in social situations.

One particular section in King’s article really struck me:

“If they are being honest, their only crime was trusting in someone who claimed to want to serve as a mentor or father figure to them. What kind of message does it send when we treat them as if they’ve done something wrong when they come forward to report a particularly violent incident?”

Most survivors are people who have been assaulted by people they personally know and trust. And for those who are not part of that ‘most,’ an attack from a stranger could completely eradicate faith in humanity. I know it’s a phrase thrown around a lot today, but I encourage you to sit with that for a moment, and imagine being able to trust absolutely nobody. Meditating on this for a even a little while really brings to light the true bravery and strength of every survivor who is able to come forward and share their experience, especially when it in arenas where it could lead to legal consequences for the abuser as well. These women coming forward in regards to Cosby are most certainly no exception.

I encourage everyone to revel in this bravery, and if applicable, continue to provide support. “Victim” is not a label that survivors can afford to have as a defining them; some even hate the term “survivor” . To be defined by a tragedy is to live in it. Instead, I encourage support to enable people to grieve effectively, and come out the other side having experienced much healing.

 

Note: I understand that there are some disgusting people out there who think crying ‘wolf’ over being raped is ok, and that can make it harder to trust. All I ask is that you could consider giving a survivor a benefit of a doubt at the very least, and if it turns out that they are crying wolf, it is not rape trauma that they need help with, but something else entirely different. These people are a really small minority.