Posts By: Kim Lawler

My Skincare Routine

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Since turning 30 I’ve been paying my skin a bit more attention than before. I’ve become a total Caroline Hirons fangirl, and have really started giving my skin to love and attention it needs. I love reading about what other people use for their skincare routines, and I posted on Instagram last week that I might do a post about my own, lots of you wanted to hear about what I was using so here goes!

My skin is 30 years old, is prone to a little redness and a few large pores just around the nose. I have hormonal zits on my chin sometimes, and the starts of a few fine lines around my eyes. It’s neither greasy or dry, and isn’t too sensitive (I can handle new products pretty well).

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Cleansing

Hi, my name’s Kim, and I’m a reformed facewiper.

I used to use and abuse those dirt-pushy-roundy environmentally unfriendly squares of scented trash, and think it was a job well done if I remembered to use one each morning and night. How wrong I was! And how, looking back, my skin suffered. Breakouts, uneven skin tone, large pores, you name it.

Now, I’m a one flannel a day double cleanser. I have a whole bunch of white flannels that I keep in a small crate by my sink. I use the same one for my morning and evening wash, and then it goes in the laundry. Damp flannels are a breeding ground for bacteria, bacteria that you end up smearing on your face and causes you to breakout.

For my morning cleanse I choose my cleanser depending on how my skin looks, and the products that I’ve used the night before. Usually, I’ll use something light such as the REN gel cleanser or REN cleansing milk, there’s not much to wash away in the morning so a single cleanse is fine. If I want something a bit more nourishing I might use a hot cloth cleanser, I’m currently using Soap and Glory’s Ultimelt which is lovely (and kind on the old wallet.. it has a nice herbal scent, something I like a lot with skincare products). I’ll make sure to give a good massage with whatever cleanser I’m using, getting the cleanser right into the pores and waking my skin up.

For my evening cleanse I’ll start with a pre-cleanser, this is mainly to remove makeup or SPF. My favourites are the Body Shop’s camomile cleansing butter and Una Brennan’s Superfacialist Rose Miracle Makeover Oil (the scent of this has my heart forever, it’s beautiful, and very much like the expensive Liz Earle facial concentrate oil). Once that’s been taken off with a hand-hot flannel, I’ll get down to the actual skin cleansing with a superior cleanser such as Emma Hardie’s Moringa Balm (I was dubious about the smell of this when I bought it, but it’s such a lovely cleanser!) or a hot-cloth cleanser such as REN Rosa Centifolia.

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Exfoliating

I don’t use a physical exfoliator anymore,  I get a pretty good level of exfoliation from my cleansing flannel, however I do use some low level AHAs for a brightening & replenishing boost. Every other morning I’ll give my skin a wipe of the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance pads, I could probably get away with using these every day if I wanted, but I’m still a bit scared to throw too much at my skin! Every other night (or, when I remember, more like) I’ll use 5 drops of REN resurfacing AHA concentrate.

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Treatments

I’ve recently started using m”My First Retinol”, which is a bit scary because “NEVER GO IN THE SUN AGAIN” etc. However, I’m already an SPF addict, so it’s not too bad. The retinol I use is La Roche-Posay Redermic [R], and I think I can attribute my smaller pores and the decrease in my (not too bad anyway) fine lines to this product. I don’t use it everyday, but I probably could/should as I continue to wither get older. I’ve had no reactions to it, which is good, and I’ve just ordered the eye version.

I’m just getting into the world of serums & oils, and I have two that I use regularly. The first is REN Vita Mineral Omega 3 Optimum Skin Oil, which I adore. I occasionally use this in the morning if I need a bit of a boost, and I sometimes use it without a moisturiser and it’s really moisturising in its own right. The second I use is a budget hero, Body Shop’s Vitimin E Serum in Oil. It’s actually really nice, and sinks into the skin really easily. I tend to only use this one in an evening.

One day I’ll get a Sunday Riley oil, one day.

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Eyes

I’m not big on eye creams. Oops. I probably should be. I use a little Emu Oil Well (when I remember), and a couple of other samples from Liz Earle and REN that I’ve picked up. I’ve just ordered the Redermic [R] retinol eyecream, though, so things might change!

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Moisturiser

I’m pretty much a moisturise-and-go kinda gal. My morning moisturiser is currently shared between Bare Minerals SPF 20 moisturiser, REN evercalm global protection day cream, and REN Vita Mineral daily supplement moisturising cream (I love REN moisturisers, they sink into the skin really nicely, and have unobtrusive scents – I’m looking at you Liz Earle, wtf is with your janky moisturiser scents?!).

I get lazy with my evening moisturiser sometimes, the two oil/serums I use are pretty moisturising in their own right so I sometimes skip another layer. I have, however, just bought the Soap and Glory night and flight moisturiser to try (it smells good, kinda like apricot).

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SPF

Thou shalt never forget thine SPF. I do one of a few things depending on my day, I either user my bare minerals SPF 20 moisturiser if I’m not going to be outside too much/the UV rays aren’t too bad, or, I use my La Roche-Posay 50+ SPF on top of a non-SPF moisturiser, OR, if I’m wearing makeup, I’ll rely on a 20+ SPF BB/Tint cream.

The La Roche-Posay stuff is great for a facial SPF, it’s not too heavy, doesn’t cause breakouts (just be sure to double cleanse at night), and sinks in really quickly.

Just whatever you do, wear a fucking SPF.

There, is over 1000 words on how I wash my face enough? I hope so! What are your favourite products? Any recommendations? Want any more info on the products I’ve mentioned above? Write it in the comments below!

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Clean your list

clean-your-list

You’ve got a mailing list for your business, right? You should have, anyway. It’s a great way of collecting customer and client leads, and yourself on their radar. Mailing lists have been around forever, unlike twitter/instagram/facebook/periscope. They’re not going anywhere fast.

I’ve been working on building the mailing lists for my two businesses for the past few years. They’ve got a fair number of subscribers, and I send out occasional newsletters about sales, blog updates, new products etc. I get a fair level of engagement, and a low unsubscribe rate.

My lists are on Mailchimp, I looooove Mailchimp and have been a long time fan. You might have yours on Aweber, Mad Mimi, or any of the other mailing list providers out there. Chances are you pay a certain amount each month, or per send, for your mailing list. It’s usually dependent on the number of subscribers you have and can sometimes come to quite a hefty business expense.

So here’s what I did last week…

I removed around 25% of the subscribers from each of my lists.

Whhhaatttt? From the lists I’ve been building for years? Isn’t that like, a whole year’s worth of subscribers?! Pretty close, actually. But here’s the thing…

I removed subscribers who hadn’t opened, let alone clicked through from, the last 5 email campaigns they’d received. 

Considering the frequency I send out emails that’s around 6 months worth of no engagement. I was paying hard earned money to send emails to these addresses that either:

  • Deleted the email without opening
  • Had it disappearing into spam
  • No longer used that account

What a waste!

(NB: open rate tracking can be a little unreliable, but it’s a good starting point with clearing out your list)

Here’s what’s awesome about having a list clear out

Clearing out your list this way means that the stats from your remaining subscribers should be much improved (your open rate, click through rate, and overall enagement percentages will increase), which is AWESOME if you have a business that relies more on engagement than subscriber numbers (and let’s be honest here, it’s the engagement that counts).

It also means that you’re not gonna be invading the inbox of someone who obviously doesn’t want you there anymore (Bye, Felicia!). They might come across you again at some point, and it’d be better for them to think “oh! I thought I was subscribed to that list, I better sign-up again” than “Ugh, there’s that annoying brand that I keep trashing in gmail”.

You’re list is less likely to be flagged as spam. Chances are, if someone’s trashing your newsletter without engagement, it won’t be long before they report your emails as spam. Erk.

And of course, they amount you spend on your list each month will decrease until you get your list back up to the same numbers.

My Challenge for you!

Go take a hard look at your lists. What’s your engagement like? How many people didn’t open any of your last 5 emails? What about the last 10?

Mailchimp has some really great segmenting tools to allow you to create groups based on the engagement of your subscribers, which is even more powerful than open-rate. You can read more about how that works here.

You could also try and run a campaign to re-engage those subscribers who haven’t been very active lately, maybe offering a discount, or a special reward for opening the email.

Either way, I want you to give your list a good hard clean. Dust off those cobwebs, make your list even more powerful for your business, and engage with the subscribers who really want to get your emails!

This post isn’t sponsored by Mailchimp by the way, I just really, really like their service! The links to mailchimp throughout the article are affiliate links, though, so clicking them and signing up for Mailchimp could yield an affiliate bonus for me. 

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Standing Still

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I’ve just got back from a brilliant weekend in London where I got to hang with friends and attend the wonderful Blogtacular weekend.

It was the first time in the past few months that I’ve really had chance to breathe. I’ve been working non-stop, which is always better than the alternative when you’re a one-woman-shop, but it also means that you don’t  always get chance to stand back and look at the big picture.

I posted about it on Instagram earlier today and wanted to follow up to that with a bit more about where I feel I’m at right now. There’s a lot of navel gazing here, you’ve been warned.

My business is strong, I have lots of work coming in, excellent projects for exceptional people. There aren’t enough superlatives to explain how awesome my clients are. I love working with them, helping them build their businesses, and even just being a small part of that process is very rewarding. I’m under no illusions that I’m very lucky* to do what I do.

However…

Working on other people’s businesses means that I’ve been neglecting my own. I don’t mean that I’ve just been sat around doing nothing, I’ve been tweaking my processes, keeping up with enquiries, and booking new work. But I feel like I’ve been stood still on my own path.

When you have a successful** business, it’s hard to see where to make changes. Should you aim for more money? more holidays? better equipment? bigger clients? more renown? press? When I started out on my own almost 4 years ago, my aim was to make sure my business could support my lifestyle, and it does, with abundance. I wanted to be happy with what I did, and I am, in the main. And I wanted flexibility, which my lengthy gym sessions and day-time baths illustrate nicely.

I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve.

So where do I go from here? 

It’s taken me a little soul searching to see what I need to do, and I think it all goes back to creating & experimenting with my own businesses again. I just don’t feel as excited with my own shit at the moment and something needs to change.

Things need shaking up, untested ground needs stamping on, and new opportunities need exploring.

I’m not going to stop what I’m already doing, but I’m going to make space for the new by getting really picky with the old.

I’m going to question whether every move I make, project I take on, or interview I do will take me further down the path to my ultimate goal. I haven’t quite figured out what the ultimate goal is yet (does anyone really ever know? It shifts all the time), but it’s definitely not going to be found by keeping things exactly the same.

And I’m going to keep coming back to this post and remembering my promise to myself: keep moving forward.

* Well, not “lucky”, I’ve worked damn hard to get here.
** However you measure success.

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What I’m Reading: April/May 2015

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Well this has been a while coming, huh? Just a littttle late. May got away from me with a week long holiday and then catching up with work after, so I’ve lumped these two months into one post.

The Understudy by David Nicholls

Very easy reading, and a good prosaic book for winding down with. The story isn’t the strongest, and the characters aren’t likeable. I still think One Day has been Nicholls’ best book to date (I haven’t read Starter for Ten yet). This would make a good holiday read, but overall it’s a bit meh.

The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross

I totally devoured the first book in The Laundry Files, The Atrocity Archives, and had similar expectations from this one. Alas, it didn’t quite grab me in the same way. I found it quite hard to read, and in fact I’d read about a third of it a few months ago before shelving it for later. I won’t give up on the series, though, as I love the whole storyline (science fiction with a lovecraftian twist? I’m sold!), I’m hoping it was just me and this particular book that didn’t get on well.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

You must’ve heard of this one, right? It’s been a best seller for a while now, and for good reason. I really enjoyed reading this one, which, while a pretty easy read, leaves you wrecked with emotion. I read this more as a story/experience of dementia, rather than a mystery (because you can figure that out yourself very early in the book). I think if you’re going to read this expecting a “darkly riveting mystery” as the cover suggests, then you’ll be sorely disappointed.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

I read Never Let Me Go a few years ago, and thought it was high time to read some other books by the same author. I didn’t know what to expect from The Remains of the Day, I’ve never seen the film, but I really did enjoy the story. It’s written so wonderfully from the narrators point of view that you could almost be fooled into thinking it was an autobiography. It’s one of those books that might not instantly shake you, but will stay with you for years to come.

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

What an epic read! An odyssey spanning the lives of three generations of cattle station owners in the Australian Outback. I bought this as a kindle daily deal way-back-when, and thought I’d get around to reading it one day. It was a long read, and with so much going on I was finding myself only able to manage 5% in one sitting, I pretty much spent the whole of May reading this one book. I was glad I did, though, the story (while drawn out) was pretty gripping. McCullough has a tendency for the over description, and while I’m all for detail, 2 pages describing the flowers at the front of a house takes it a little bit far. If you’re wanting a story of love, loss, hardship, family and Australia, this is the book for you.

Title links above contain affiliate links. See my disclosure for more info

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Hadrian’s Wall Walk, Part 3: The Journey Days 4-6

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Day 4 (Steel Rigg to Banks/Lanercost, around 13.5-14 miles with the walking from Once Brewed to Lanercost) started with a sausage butty from the camp site cafe, then we were up on the hills again and at the highest point of our walk. It was all downhill from there!

We started with more of the crazy ups and downs and awesome views, before settling into more of a farmland setting. The one thing that struck me about this day was the lack of places for food. A few of the places we’d banked on were either shut or no longer serving food. Luckily, we happened across House of Meg in Gilsland where we went for the default jacket potato with beans & cheese, and grabbed some tuna baguettes for later.

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A late end to the day saw us rolling into our posh (and slightly weird) B&B in Lanercost after 7pm. I’d paid extra for a room with a bath, and the queen size bed with plush feather pillows made for a wonderful night’s sleep.

Day 4 had some amazing parts of the wall, but was pretty much the last we’d see of Actual Wall. Sad times.

Day 5 (Lanercost to Beaumont, around 15 miles walking but a 19 mile distance) was the day that things went a bit wrong. It started well, with a nice cooked full-english breakfast at the B&B, and making good headway after an early-ish start.

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My parents had come to Carlisle for a couple of nights, ready to pick us up in Bowness-on-Solway when we finished. We planned to meet them for lunch and give them some of our kit (tent, inflatable mats) to lighten the load, after a bit of a google error on my part (giving them an incorrect postcode) they ended up 30 miles in the wrong direction and took longer to get to us than hoped! Also, on discovering that Adam had accidentally made our day into a 19 miler (thanks to accommodation distance confusion), we opted to have a lift into Carlisle city centre from Crosby-on-Eden (great pub there, by the way, The Stag.. totally dog friendly and good beer). This was around 4 miles but meant that we’d get to our accommodation at a reasonable hour and wouldn’t kill our already fatigued selves.

These things happen, and it was the suburbs of Carlisle so not amazing walking anyway. We’re not counting this as not completing the walk or anything, we certainly made up the distance elsewhere on the trip.  That night we stayed in a wigwam hut, it was warm, comfortable, and definitely something I’d stay in again. We ate cheese, bread, crisps and salami, and washed it down with beer.

Day 6. The last day. Beaumont to Bowness-on-Solway, 9 short miles. Today was very flat, which was very welcome. Day 6 leg fatigue is no joke. We ate chocolate with abandon, procured from honesty boxes en route. We got chased across a field by cows and suffered some of the muddiest parts of the trail (the kind of mud where you almost leave your boot behind).

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It rained in the morning but cleared up in the afternoon. We met the guys who were maintaining the trail and had a chat with them, then we had our photo taken by a man in a hut, and crossed the finish line to cheers from my parents.

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And that was that. We went to the pub, had two pints, and went home after having crossed the country on foot.

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