June Favourites 2018

And just like that Summer has arrived... I can't believe how quick it's come! The weather has been absolutely glorious here in the UK too, so I've been in a fabulous mood. But, let's get into the things I've been loving this month!

My first favourite has got to be the Superdrug Vitamin C Nourishing Gel Moisturiser. I got this on a whim one day, and I've used it every morning since. Its gel-like consistency is great for oily skin because it soaks in quickly and doesn't feel thick on the skin. My skin has improved over the last month from a combination of this moisturiser and having as many make-up free days as possible.

I've also been loving the Elf Poreless Face Primer, which works extremely well at minimising the look of open pores and mattifying the skin. It's particularly good for oily skin, but if you have dry-sensitive skin you could try the hydrating version of it. It helps my foundation blend a little nicer I think too, which is always a plus!

The last makeup favourite is the Sleek Ultra Mattes Eyeshadow Palette, which is filled with bright and wonderful colours. I used this palette to create a rainbow/pride look which you might have seen on my Instagram, and I've enjoyed playing with the colours ever since.

My next favourite is kind of an experience as well as the item itself. I went to Pots & Pancakes in North Shields with the lovely ladies from The In Colourful Company for a get-together. We hand painted some wonderful designs on pottery, and while mine was nowhere near as creative as the others... I still think it's super cute! I think pottery painting is a brilliant idea for date night, or as an activity with friends, and I really loved doing it!

A clothing piece that I've been non-stop wearing is this cropped, boxy rainbow jumper from Primark. It's bloody adorable, looks ace with a pair of girlfriend jeans and was only £7! It's a total bargain and I think it's pretty flattering too.

The last thing I've loved this month is a game/app. If you watched my vlogs, you've probably already guessed it... it's Pokemon Go. I had Pokemon Go when it first came out and ended up deleting the app because my phone battery kept dying. I redownloaded it a while back after seeing the new Pokemon Let's Go trailer for the Nintendo Switch and jumped right back on that hype train. I've genuinely been using it every day, and it's great for getting you up and out walking since so much of the game depends on walking distance and going places. So if you loved Pokemon as a kid and need an incentive to get walking, maybe give it a try!

Is anyone else back on the Pokemon Go hype or is that just me?! Let me know what you've been enjoying, I'm always looking for new products or things to try!

1 Year Later… What Blogging Has Given Me.

On the 26th June 2017, I wrote and uploaded my first blog post to Becx Blogs, and it’s been exactly a year since then. It just so happens that this is also my 100th blog post as well, which is a very happy coincidence! I started blogging last year as a hobby to try and fill in the time, as I had just quit my job, and it’s been one of the best choices I ever made.

I’m so proud of the things I’ve achieved and the opportunities I’ve been given due to becoming a ‘blogger’, and I really wanted to document my progress so far. What better way to do it than with a blog post talking about it!

In my year of blogging, I’ve somehow managed to rack up 38,000 page-views?! Now, I don’t know what’s good or not in terms of views (I tend to not compare), but to me, that seems insane, to think my blog has been viewed almost 40,000 times in a year. My blog also manages to hit between 3 and 4,000 views a month, which I’m also extremely proud of.

I’m also incredibly proud that my blog has worldwide readers, including the UK, USA, Canada, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, France and Hungary! The thought that people around the world are reading my blog, means so much, I can’t even begin to say how grateful I am.  

I started to use my blog to do something good and try to raise awareness for my illness, which isn’t very well known. So, my Ulcerative Colitis posts have fast become my most popular posts, and I love being able to post about something so important.

Since I started blogging, I’ve had some fabulous opportunities to work with some great companies, to attend fun and interesting events (Intu Metrocentre and The Body Shop to name a couple), and I’ve even been able to be a panellist on a blogger panel at an Influencer event! It’s something that I’m extremely grateful for, and if it wasn’t for the people who have supported my blog, read each post and helped me over the last year I might not have had those opportunities.

Probably the most important thing to come from blogging the past year has been getting to know (and meeting) the brilliant people that have come into my life. I’ve made some amazing friends both online and in real life, people I talk to most days and I’m happy to call my friends. I’ve gain skills like photo and video editing (something I knew nothing about a year ago), as well as refining my photography and writing skills. I’ve even grown more confident in myself and it’s improved my anxiety. A year ago I would never have attended an event on my own, and now I’m always excited what for what the next event might be rather than dreading it! It’s most definitely shaped me as a person.

Don’t get me wrong, blogging comes with its share of struggles, from running out of ideas to battling with Google domain authority, and trying to get over the social media algorithms. In the end, it’s all been worth it for me, and I hope to continue with a hobby that has become a huge part of my everyday life.

I’ve worked so hard on my blog, and I’m proud of how far my little space on the internet has come. I held a giveaway over the last month as a thank you to everyone who’s read and supported my blog and I’ll email the winner of this by the end of today. SO a great big thank you to everyone who has helped me, offered advice, shared or retweeted my posts, and continued to come back and read my blog – I hope this post shows how grateful I am for how much you’ve helped me achieve!

Lots of love, Becca ❤

My Ulcerative Colitis Journey: Medications and Side Effects (PART TWO)

Following on from part one of the series (if you haven’t read it click here), I now want to talk about the types of medication used to treat Ulcerative Colitis and my experience of them so far. Now I’ve had my colitis diagnosis for almost 2 years, so I’ve trialled various concoctions of meds and have had ups and downs along the way. I’m in no way a medical professional, and what has or hasn’t worked for me might be completely different for other people, so this is just my own personal experience and how my body reacted with these medications. Just a quick disclaimer, you should always follow your medical professional’s advice, and this blog post is just to share my experience and is not advice in any way!

When I was first diagnosed I was given Prednisolone foam enemas to take every night before bed. Prednisolone is a type of corticosteroid used to treat inflammation by dampening down the immune response, so preventing the immune system to cause colitis. Usually, steroids would be prescribed in oral tablet form, but because my colitis was affecting the lower end of my colon, my consultant thought enemas would be more effective in treating the inflammation because it would get to the area directly. These enemas were SO bliddy painful to administer since it was basically squirting foam up my backside where I was very inflamed and bleeding. I did find they worked in reducing the inflammation and after a few weeks the bleeding did get slightly better but didn’t go away.

A month or so later, I was prescribed the Prednisolone in suppository form, which is a dissolvable tablet that goes into your bottom. On top of this I was also prescribed Mesalazine foam enemas (Pentasa). Mesalazine is a type of Aminosalicylate (5-ASA) medication which is anti-inflammatory. I had a lot of trouble with the Pentasa enemas because they caused a lot of abdominal pain, so I was then moved onto the Mesalazine suppositories. Again, I had trouble with the Mesalazine suppositories because my body wasn’t properly absorbing them due to the inflammation and swelling, and I often found they leaked, as gross as that sounds! They decided to put me onto the oral form of Pentasa, which my god, they are the size of horse tablets! Because I was on a high dose, I was given the larger tablets and they were such a chore to take since they were so hard to swallow. I continued the Prednisolone suppositories and the Pentasa tablets for quite a while.

For a short while I tried Sulphasalazine, which is another type of 5-ASA to aid my IBD associated joint pain but it made no difference, so I wasn’t on them very long. My Colitis fluctuated a lot for the best part of a year, with periods of no symptoms and lots of lapses back into a lot of pain, diarrhoea and bleeding. Every time I lapsed I was given a short course of Prednisolone oral tablets to push the colitis back.

Since the medication wasn’t pushing my colitis into remission, and it kept coming back, my consultant decided to put me on Budesonide oral tablets every day. Budesonide is another type of corticosteroid, which is fairly new in treating IBD, and is thought to have fewer side effects. Because I had been on steroids for so long, I gained 3 stone and was struggling with chronic fatigue, joint issues and generally feeling unwell, even when my colitis wasn’t playing up. Every time my steroid dose dropped, to try and slowly wean off them when my colitis was OK, it would flare straight back up. It turned out I had become steroid dependent, and my body was symptom-free only when on a high dose of steroids, and as soon as I tried to come off them, the inflammation would come straight back.

Being on steroids long term is never ideal, because the side effects range from insomnia, moon face, acne, susceptibility to infections and illnesses, weight gain, osteoporosis and more. Ideally, I need to come off the steroids, so the next step for me was to start on a medication called Azathioprine. Azathioprine is a type of immunosuppressant drug which has only been used for IBD since the 60’s. Because Azathioprine is such a strong immunosuppressive, I had to have a course of vaccines before starting it to make sure my body had some antibodies to protect itself while being on the medication, since I’ll be at much more risk of sickness, flu, pneumonia, suppression of bone marrow function, liver inflammation and pancreatitis. I’ve been on this medication for a short while now and have to have weekly blood tests to ensure it’s not causing damage to my liver. So far I’ve struggled with nausea, vomiting and terrible fatigue. They hope to start reducing my steroid dose after around 6 months of being on this medication, then keeping me on the Azathioprine long term to maintain remission.

If I’m unable to maintain remission with the Azathioprine or it causes damage to my liver and pancreas, I’ll have to go to the next step of treatment. The next step would be biological drugs which resemble chemotherapy. These drugs are things like Infliximab and Vedolizumab which are transfusions through a drip in the arm, or Adalimumab and Golimumab which are injections given into the thigh or stomach (kind of like an epi-pen).

There is a pyramid of medication starting with the ones which have the least side effects which are the first port of call so to speak, but this depends on how severe the inflammation is. Moving up the pyramid we try different medications to find what works in maintaining remission, and if the flare is moderate or severe, treatment may start higher up. The last port of call is surgery. If medication fails at improving the disease, people with Colitis may have parts of the diseased bowel removed, and then have a bag on the outside of their body. Sometimes if the flare is very severe, they may go in for emergency surgery. I’m extremely lucky my Colitis hasn’t went past moderate and mild. I’m hopeful that the Azathioprine will help me, but if it doesn’t I’ll have to continue up the pyramid and try something else.

Photo from -http://www.ibdclinic.ca/treatment/

If you have IBD, please remember your consultant really does know best, and they will help find the right treatment for you. If you don’t have IBD, I hope this blog was helpful and informative! 

Summer Lovin' Makeup Look

This is a makeup look that I've been obsessed with wearing recently (you might have seen it pop up on my Instagram quite a lot), and I thought I would make a post about what cruelty-free products I used to achieve it! Everything is affordable and drugstore as always, since I'm always looking for awesome bargains and buys!

My base is pretty simple. I use this Elf Poreless Face Primer since I have oily skin and quite open pores. I'm also wearing some fake tan, so I use a mix of two foundations to get the right shade for me. I'm using the Sleek Lifeproof Foundation and the Elf Foundation. For concealer, I'm using the new Revolution Conceal and Define in the shade C4. 

My contour and bronzer are from this Sleek Contour Palette, and I love how shimmering the bronzer is, it's perfect for summer. For blush I'm wearing the Soap & Glory Peach Party blush because again, it's very bronzed peach and shimmery. My highlight is gorgeous and it's from this Revolution Strobe Lighting Palette, which I actually got for free on the Superdrug website because I spent over £12 on makeup. So keep your eyes peeled for offers like that! I finish my face off with the Sleek Professional Finishing Powder, to set it in place.

The eyeshadow palette I used is the Revolution #RevoholicEyes Matte Edit, but I don't believe this is on sale at the moment... I got it from the Christmas Palette Vault. But any pigmented red and yellow eyeshadow will do. I use the red in the outer corners, and along the crease of my eye, as well as under my lower lashline. I then use the yellow all over the lid and blend them together. It creates a lovely sunset look. I'm using the new Revolution Renaissance Flick Eyeliner to create a wing and my gosh, this liner is incredible! My mascara is the Nyx Worth The Hype and my brows are the Nyx Microbrow Pencil. I finish the entire look with a classic nude lipstick, this is the Revolution lipstick in the shade Chauffeur, and I spray my whole face with the Revolution Pro Fix Setting Spray.

If you recreate this look;, be sure to tag me on Instgram with @Becxo or use the hashtag #BecxBlogsBeauty. I'd love to see all your summery makeup looks!

Does CBD Oil work for pain relief – The Fay Farm Review

It’s been a while since I did a good old product review, and I was very kindly sent these products from The Fay Farm, to review as part of the Chronic Illness Blogger Network. I’m happy to say these products are handmade, cruelty-free and not tested on animals.

I was sent the Rejuvenation Lotion and the Warming Muscle Rub. As someone who suffers from joint pain and muscle pain as one of the symptoms of my Ulcerative Colitis, I was hoping these products would help me.

Both the lotion and the muscle rub contain organic industrial hemp oil, otherwise known as CBD oil. I’ve seen the use of CBD oil floating around the internet for some time but had never tried it myself until recently. Hemp oil is known for it’s healing and medicinal benefits. I’ve read that it works by targeting the Endocannabinoid System and increases the function of it, which helps to control sleep regulation, pain and the immune system. This is something I find so interesting, despite the fact I can’t say I fully understand it!

The lotion also contains other ingredients renowned for their uses. Jojoba Oil is amazingly moisturising and particularly useful for dry skin conditions. As a beautician, I would often recommend Jojoba Oil for Eczema and Psoriasis. Turmeric is another brilliant ingredient which is anti-inflammatory (so useful for arthritis and joint inflammation), as well as being an anti-oxidant. The lotion is particularly pleasant to apply because it smells so much like liquorice. Funnily enough, I spotted liquorice on the ingredients! It’s very cooling and really soothes my ankles and wrists when I experienced discomfort.

The muscle rub contains shea butter which is the moisturising component of the rub. But it also contains Arnica. I actually used to use Arnica for my dog for his joint pain, so it wasn’t a surprise to see it in a human product. It’s anti-inflammatory and helps with bruising, swelling, and pain. The rub also uses cayenne pepper, peppermint and ginger which I assume creates the warming effect when it’s applied. I have to say the scent of the rub reminds me so much of the Vaporub my Grandmother used to apply on my chest at night when I was a child to help with congestion, so it’s a very nostalgic smell! It has undertones of aniseed too. The rub most definitely has a warming effect as soon as you start to rub it into the skin, and I find it very helpful when my pain is particularly bad. It then cools down and feels very soothing!

I’m actually very impressed with these products, they do work well for what I need with my symptoms. To top it off they’re cruelty-free and organic. In fact, they told me these use these products on for healing purposes on their own farm animals, which I think is great. It’s always good to support a smaller business that produces these lovely handmade products so if you’re looking for some topical pain relief these could be the lotions for you.