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The process of applying to University

With results day looming University is the main thing on our minds, with concerns regarding whether we will get in or not being the forefront of it all. Having just finished our A-Levels, the last year has consisted of our University application process, something that was really daunting and confusing for us given that we are the first in our family to go down the University pathway after A-Levels. Luckily we had a really supportive sixth form and had friends who could help who had brothers/sisters in the position of applying to Uni which helped us get through, but we thought that it would be nice to compile some advice in a post to help anyone applying this year, in the hope that it will help some of you. 

Unifrog - UniFrog is a great tool which allows you to create University shortlists, view loads of information about courses and provide personal statement advice, making the whole application process much easier. The reason that I have mentioned this at the start of the post is because it helps you with everything, and really is perfect for your application, but it is something that your school/college needs to be on board with. Unfortunately, to access it your teachers need to provide a log in for you to use, but, if you do have access to it, use it, as it makes the whole process so much easier. And if not, mention it to your teachers as you never know, they may want to get on board too!

Choosing your course:
Both of us will be studying Biomedical Science in September (hopefully!), and we're in really fortunate positions where we knew exactly what we wanted to do and what we were really passionate about, so this wasn't too difficult for us personally. I know that a lot of people struggle with knowing what to study though, as, understandably, needing to know what you want your whole future to consist of at just 17/18 is really scary. In this situation, I would recommend the website WhatUni, as here there is a tool where you can type in your A-Level subjects and the predicted grades for all of them, making a list of your options appear. This is a really useful tool, especially if you aren't certain about your options and if they match your A-Level subjects. Access it here. 

Compile a list of potential Universities:
Once you know your course, gathering a list of Universities that you are interested in is the next key step. The most obvious way to do this is using the UCAS search tool, but other important things to consider include the place in the University League tables for that specific course. The main League table is the Guardian, where you can see the ranking of the student satisfaction and other important features of that University. You of course also need to consider the location of the University and the grades that they ask for; for example, we had our hearts set on not wanting to move away from home, so looked only at Unis that were close enough to commute to. This will narrow down the options and make it easy for you to chose open days to attend. When we were looking at Universities open days were really tricky for us, as most occur on Saturdays, when we work, or on Weekdays, when we were at school. We managed to get time off work and school for them in the end, but I cannot stress the importance of attending the open days to you enough! There may be a University that you had your heart set on and then decide you hate after visiting, as this definitely happened to me. In fact, the University that is now my firm was never an option until booking a last minute open day, so definitely make sure you look around before applying! 

The personal statement:
This is a 4000 character (including spaces and punctuation) statement in which you have the opportunity to sell yourself to the university, as it is what they base their decisions on who to accept on. The most obvious thing to say about these is to avoid cliches...admissions tutors will be reading hundreds of statements from all over the country, and if you all start with "ever since I was a child I have been passionate about...." or "I've always wanted to do...." will be really boring and you will not stand out from the crowd. Your opening needs to be unique and impressive, showing off that you generally really love the subject you are applying to and are serious about studying it for however many years. For example, mine opened with information about what is occurring currently in the science world, showing that I had a genuine interest in the subject and that I had actually looked it up in my spare time. This will make a University interested in you and want to take you on, as you are genuinely interested in what you are going there to do. 

I would also really highly recommend FutureLearn courses, which are free courses made by top Unis or companies which you can do and put on your personal statement to help you stand out. For example, I did ones on genome sequencing and targeted cancer treatments, which showed that I was growing an understanding of the subject in my spare time. To a University, this makes you stand out as an ideal candidate, and I genuinely did enjoy doing the courses too. I honestly recommend that you all do this, as it will make you look like the perfect candidate, and I genuinely believe that this is probably a big reason as to why I was accepted. 

I would finally end your personal statement talking about what you want to do with your degree; that way, the University knows that you are serious and aren't just going there for the 'Uni Life'. I would also recommend trying to get your statement done quickly too, as the quicker you apply the better. That way, it will be off your mind and you can really get into studying for your A-Levels, without the burden of writing your personal statement.

I really hope this has helped any one applying to University this year as I know it is a really daunting process. Good luck!

Natasha & Emily x 

Our nightmare holiday experience | Malaga 2018

I generally pride myself in the fact that I think I am quite a nice, understanding person, but, when someone angers me, I can truly be a really sassy little bitch. Which is the side of me you're going to see today. 

On Sunday we, meaning both me and Emily, my parents, and two children which we foster, had a flight booked at 6 am from Liverpool, intending to fly to Malaga in Spain. Malaga is a frequently visited area in Europe for us, and we have been enjoying holidays there since about 2007, so, after not going for a couple of years, this really was a holiday that we were looking forward to, especially as we had family members waiting there for us that we don't see very often. As you can imagine, this was a much anticipated and exciting trip for us all, especially the kids who had never traveled on a plane before. 

However, when we arrived at the airport after driving for 2 hours, since Liverpool airport is quite far from where we live, we were informed that our flight, which, by the way, was through EasyJet, had been cancelled. So, off we went to the customer service desk, where they re-booked us on a flight departing from Manchester on the Tuesday morning at 6:20am. Here we received no apology from customer service staff members, despite being forced to miss two days of our 7 day holiday, but, as they managed to rearrange, we pushed this aside and understood the situation. At the end of the day, these things happen and there was nothing we could do.

That was until we arrived at Manchester, ready to catch the rescheduled flight on Tuesday. Again, we were told that the flight had been cancelled, which they blamed on "adverse weather conditions in Europe". I don't know about you, but as far as I am aware the majority of Europe is currently experiencing a heatwave, with Spain and Portugal reaching 48 celsius, so I am well aware that this is just a bullshit story to cover their backs. At this point, again after driving a long way to get the the airport, the customer service staff (which this time were actually a bit more helpful and understanding at least; credit where it is due) informed us that the next flight was Wednesday at 4pm from Gatwick, meaning we would arrive at Malaga for 6pm and have only a Thursday-Saturday holiday. I don't know about you, but that doesn't quite seem worth it in my books. 

A picture from my holiday in May with an airline that can actually show up; thanks Jet2, you got our backs. 

As far as expenses are concerned, we have filed a claim and obviously hope for a refund, but, looking at twitter, this doesn't seem hopeful. I even saw one tweet of a lady who had a flight cancelled through EasyJet on the 6th April who still hadn't been refunded, which is quite frankly appalling. 

Sorry this post has been a little different and a bit depressing, but I just wanted to warn you to avoid this airline. A lot of their flights are being cancelled at the moment and their 
customer services seems to be failing us all. Of course, we understand that there are worse things that could happen and that this isn't the end of the world, but are of course disappointed, especially after travelling for a total of about 8 hours on the road at 1 am for no reason.

So, thanks to EasyJet cancelling both flights, our holiday is no longer going ahead and I am sat here, writing this post with a load of Euros I can't spend and a new GoPro with no snorkeling pictures, trying to avoid all social medias so that I don't see all my friends having fun on their abroad holidays, which their clearly better airlines managed to get them too.

Do you have any flying horror stories? Feel free to share them with us to make us feel better :)

July Birchbox Product Reviews 2018

I am fairly certain that every blogger in history has a Birchbox subscription and I see so many unboxing posts crop up on our Bloglovin, so, having never subscribed to this before, we decided to do so this month. If you haven't heard of the brand, Birchbox is a subscription based company that charge you ten pounds a month to send out a variation of products at a cheaper price to try, often from less well known brand to test them and see if you like them. An amazing idea, if you ask me! As we ordered our box mid July we didn't feel that it was appropriate to post an unboxing, since everyone had already done one, so instead we decided to give the products all a go individually and then review them once we had given them a fair testing. I think this will probably become a regular thing for us too...testing the products every month and letting you know our thoughts and if we would repurchase. That way, I feel that we will have given the products a fair test and that it is the best way to share smaller brands. 

This month, we received the Balance Me Congested Skin Serum, the What's in it for me shower scrub, the Klorane dry shampoo with oat milk, the Joliderm nose patches and the Manna Kadar Long-Wear Powder in Trifecta. Other than Balance Me, I hadn't heard of any of these brands before, so the box really is a perfect opportunity to discover new brands. 

This product claims to diminish blemishes and calm inflammation, and is a gel serum that you apply directly onto spots or blemishes to reduce the appearance of them. Fortunately, neither of us are really very spotty, of course other than occasional breakouts, so, to give this a test, we applied some onto our Mum who had a few blemishes at the time. Genuinely, the product really did reduce the appearance of the blemishes and you could definitely tell that she had used a product on them. She was really impressed, which takes a lot as she isn't really a skin care person at all. The only thing I would say is that I didn't love the smell as it is quite medicinal, but this doesn't ruin the product at all, especially since all the ingredients are natural and therefore no manufactured, dangerous products are being applied to the skin. Overall, I would purchase this again if I was going through a particularly spotty period, especially as it is quite affordable for an effective spot treatment. Even though full size is only 15ml, you use such a small amount on your blemishes too that it would last you a while, so it is worth investing! 

This contains 'Walnut shell to naturally exfoliate, sweet almond oil to rejuvenate the skin, plus orange and jasmine flower extracts for an uplifting floral fragrance', and is a typical shower gel style scrub. When using this, I really was pleasantly surprised as it did lather like a shower gel; often, scrubs have the intent of purely smoothing the skin and can be quite rough, yet this also felt like it was making me clean too, and almost felt like a two in one scrub and shower gel, which I love. My skin definitely did feel really smooth and conditioned after too, probably because of the almond oil which is a nice touch. Emily even said that she noticed the dead skin come off when she dried herself, meaning that it actually worked (sorry if TMI). Again, I loved this and probably would repurchase! It was the first thing to go into my holiday travel toiletry bag as it is a perfect travel size too. 

Klorane is a French brand that I'd never heard of before, so was excited to try. As I hate greasy hair and literally wash my hair everyday due to having an oily scalp, a dry shampoo is definitely a staple for me. I honestly have 4 bottles on the go at a time haha. I must say, this didn't disappoint. The product didn't give me any of that dreaded white residue and even made my hair feel really soft, which I didn't expect from a dry shampoo but I actually really loved. Again, loved this. 

The back of this product suggests that it is 3-in-1 and that it can be used on the brows, eyes, and cheeks, which is great for travel and lazy people like me. I must say though, I have used on both the eyes and cheeks but personally wouldn't use on the brows as it is too warm toned for me. However, as a bronzer and crease colour I did really like this, and I will definitely take away with me along with the scrub. In all honestly though, I probably wouldn't have purchased this alone had it not been in the box. It is a great product, but isn't anything I couldn't find from more affordable brands; in other words, I do think that fifteen pounds is a lot for what it is. I am glad that I have tried it and that it was in the box though, and this doesn't put me off trying other Manna Kada products as I am intrigued to find out more about the brand. 

In all honesty, we haven't tried these yet as we are not really suffering from black heads currently, and would rather save it for when one of us is. With this in mind, it obviously wouldn't be fair to give thoughts on this, but the product does definitely sound interesting and will be incredible if they work out!

Are you subscribed to Birchbox or any other boxes? Have you tried any of these? Let us know! 

Natasha & Emily x

Drugstore vs High end Eye Glitters | Stila & Barry M

My absolute go to eye an the moment consists of a glitter, which, until recently, was the Stila Magnificent Metals in 'Bronzed Bell'. When these were released they sent the beauty side of the internet crazy, which is what made me actually spend the money and splurge on it, as this isn't something I do often as poor student. The Stila product comes in at £23, which I appreciate isn't a crazy amount of money and isn't the most high end product out there, but to me it certainly is a little steep. Therefore, when I was watching This Morning the other day and saw the makeup artist on there use the Barry M glitter bomb as an alternative, I had to grab one and test the difference. If I can find a Stila alternative for £18 less I am SOLD.

The Barry M version has a typical doe foot applicator, yet Stila's is more flat on both sides. The difference here doesn't bother me though, since I just tap the product onto my eye lid and blend with my fingers anyway. 

(Excuse my left lazy eye...I don't even notice I have it until the camera comes out and voila, it is noticeable. For this reason, it is usually Emily in eye pictures haha. I don't know how we can have the same genes and such different eyes...I guess I was just struck with the bad luck lol.)

On the eyes the two products look so insanely similar, other than the Stila version being noticeably more sparkly than the Barry M one. We actually posted a poll on instagram with swatches of the two recently and the majority correctly guessed, presumably because the Stila product is more glittery. In my opinion though, this does actually make the Barry M option a better everyday alternative, as, even though I love all the sparkle, it is sometimes too much. 

To make the pictures fair, both eyes have the same products aside from the glitters themselves. On each eye I have used the Urban Decay Naked Heat for the crease and base, with the Soph x Makeup Revolution highlighter palette as inner corner highlight. The lashes are Benefit Bad Gal Bang and the brows are the E.L.F eye brow kit in 'medium', featuring my unplucked monobrow. 

The shades I used were 'Low Blow', 'Cayenne' and 'Scorched'. 
Regards to how the two products last, they, in my opinion are both as long lasting as each other and last me a full sweaty 8 hour day at work, which says something. The only reason I would purchase the Stila product instead of the Barry M is for the more blinding glitter aspect, meaning that it is better for special occasions. Of course, I am glad that I did buy the Stila as it is my go to makeup baby, but from an outside perspective the difference isn't really worth the extra £18. 

Have you tried the Stila or Barry M glitters? Let me know your thoughts x

Natasha & Emily x

Collaboration with Statement Made Jewellery

'Statement Made Jewellery'  is an independent company which specialise in beautiful personalised jewellery pieces, from bracelets, to necklaces, anklets and engraved pieces, which all make the perfect gifts. The company have very kindly sent me one of their necklaces to share with you, which comes in this really cute pouch along with an information card which adds a nice personal connection with the company.

This unicorn necklace is one of many of the lovely pieces from the website, which can be personalised with the recipient's initials to give the gift a personal touch. What is also so great about the website is that the affordable prices, where nothing seems to be over around £20, means that the gifts could also be used for younger girls, whilst also having collections for adults. They also offer free UK shipping, which I live for! 

The wide range of collections means that there is something for everyone, and, after browsing the site myself, I personally really love the Zodiac and Constellation range, and  any of the pieces from this section would make beautiful, personal gifts.

Regarding the necklace itself the quality feels really great, and the way that it comes in a gorgeous felt pouch does make it appear more expensive than it is. The company have provided care instructions too, which means that the long lifespan of the pieces can be maintained. With their social media platforms the brand also seems really connected to their customers, which I love, as there are so many easy ways to get in touch with them. 

Overall, Statement Made Jewellery is a gorgeous brand with some really great pieces, which are also so affordable. I will definitely be purchasing from them myself in the future, as the pieces suit everyone and would make perfect Christmas or Birthday gifts.

Shop their website here | Visit the Statement Made Jewellery Blog here.

Thanks for reading,
Natasha x

Zoella's new 'Splash Botanics' Range

I always love Zoe's new launches and get so excited when a new range is released. This one in particular caught my eye, with beautiful botanical packaging making me swoon. Every time she releases a new line I wonder how the packaging can get any better, but it always does! With this in mind, I popped down to my local Superdrug yesterday and picked up a few pieces from the range, making use of the 3 for 2 offer that we all love. 

With regards to the scent of this range, we gave the body mist a miss this time, purely because the fresh scent of the range isn't one that I would usually use as a spray. That being said, it is a gorgeous scent for bath and shower time, especially in the summer months, but isn't really our thing as a daily fragrance. The scent is gorgeous and refreshing, though I must say that I personally have preferred some of the other fragrances and that this isn't my favourite. 

Drench Me Bath soak - £6.95

Let's face it, the milk carton packaging of this product is one of the most gorgeous things I've ever seen. According to the packaging, this has 'refreshing aquatic notes' with 'extracts of hydrating coconut water and radiance boosting lychee', giving it a lovely fresh scent that is actually quite unisex, comparatively to Zoe's other ranges. Only a small amount of product is needed to create a generous amount of bubbles, so, even though this probably is a little more expensive for a bath soak (well, it is for me as a student) it will last a while and a little luxury never did anyone any harm! Overall, this one gets a 10/10.

Quench me body sorbet - £7

This is by far my favourite of the range that I have tried. I am generally very lazy with moisturising as I hate feeling sticky, but this sinks in so beautifully and quickly that it is actually pleasant to use! I would even go as far as to say that this is my favourite of any Zoella range, and the scent lasts on the skin for hours which is a massive bonus. 

Zoella Make a Splash body wash - £6

Though this body wash moisturises the skin and does feel gorgeous to use, I personally prefer something that lathers more than this. When using it I would probably also use a generic body wash to feel fully clean, then use this after wards as a moisturiser. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of combining a body wash and moisturiser, as, like I said, I am very lazy, but this personally I would have to use another body wash that lathers a bit better with this. 

Lagoon Love Bath Milk - £3

Zoe brought out a similar concept last year with her Gelato range and at Christmas with her bath tea gifting set, and I personally really like it. When you pop this powder into the bath it makes the water really soft and gorgeous, doing the same to the skin. There is probably enough in a sachet to use twice too, which I love. Again, this one is a win win for me, and it quite unique to Zoe's brand. 

Zoella beauty can be purchased on 'Superdrug' and 'Feel Unique'. 

Have you tried any of the 'Splash Botanics' range? What did you think? Let us know. 

Natasha & Emily x

Life update and how we are spending our summer so far || FloralsAndCoralsx

Last month was a bit of a crazy one for us; after coming home from Gran Canaria at the start of the month we were thrown straight into our A-Level exams which have to be the hardest things we've ever done. Thankfully these are now done though, and we have a three month break a head of us before heading to University in September (hopefully, if we get the grades haha). I suppose this explains the lack of blog posts for two years...looking back after our previous post on the Soph Extra spice palette you'll notice that we haven't posted since 2016, which makes us poor excuses of 'bloggers'. The truth is, during our GCSE summer break we were free and highly blog motivated, producing posts and really managing to build an audience. This all changed when our A-Levels started, as of course the work load from this took over the blogging work load, and eventually our blog posts just diminished. But, alas, here we are trying again, attempting to be less of a pair of blogging embarrassments! With a fresh blogging start we have revamped our site's design, making it more professional and sophisticated than it was before. We now love our new design, and hope you do to! 

Of course, now we have finished our A-Levels we have a lot of time on our hands, and so we thought it would be nice to share with you today a few of the things that we are doing to make the most of it.

The sixth form ball
To celebrate the end of an era the wonderful head girl at our sixth form put together the sixth form ball in a stunning venue, which was a time for us to bid a farewell to all our teachers and fellow students so that we can all go our separate ways. This genuinely was an incredible night, as well as a perfect excuse to be fully extra with our makeup and outfits. 

Before our break started I was under the illusion that I would be grabbing LOADS of extra shifts at work, rolling in the dollar, where as actually all I am doing is going out, spending the dollar. Typical me hehe. But I have managed to pick up some beautiful pieces including.... 
Wilko's have just bought out another stationery range, and every time I think it is the best yet, they throw another beautiful line our way. So far I've purchased the stationery set, which costs £1.50 for cute miniatures that will be perfect for my uni bag, as well as a gorge pencil case and daily planner. Turns out I couldn't even go a week from sixth form without stationery.

Even though I already have one of these cute stationery sets from a previous Wilko range, I bought another...justified by the idea of "Oh, I can have one in my bag and one in my room".. Logical? Maybe not. 

Links: Pencil pouch - £3 , Stationery set - £1.50 , Daily planner - £3

I've also bought two tops in the past couple of weeks, using the excuse of my holidays approaching. 

Primark crop top - £5 

Floral tied crop top from George Asda - £6 in the sale

Oh my goodness, being able to read something that isn't a text book or revision guide is such a novelty! Being such eager book worms one of the things I've missed not doing the most is grabbing a good book to read, but since finished we are flying through them. Of course, the warm weather helps; a YA novel and sun...yes please! My favourite of the month has to be either 'Everything, Everything' by Nicola Yoon or 'Holding up The Universe' by Jennifer Niven, author of 'All the Bright Places'. Both are touching love stories (I mean, what else would I be reading?) which had me hooked and I finished in just days. Emily has also enjoyed 'Apple & Rain' by Sarah Crossan, though 'Everything, Everything' was definitely a stand out to her too. We've also loved 'Noah Can't Even' by Simon James Green, which is a cute, hilarious easy read.

And of course, we've been spending lots of time with our beautiful doggos which we love dearly. <3

Poppy proud to make her feature

If you're at school or college, when is your summer break and how are you spending it? Also, do you like these types of posts or would you prefer us to stick to the makeup posts? Let us know, we'd love to have a chat. 

Thanks for reading,
Natasha & Emily xx