Saturday, 2 August 2014

Remember Me?

Just in case you forgot, I'm Rachael, I'm 17 and I'm technically the owner and not-so-regular poster of A Is For Ayla. I'll be honest and come out and say it, for a while I've sort of avoided my blog, I'm not sure whether It's because I feel out of the circle, or it's because I dread logging on and being faced with a list of 280 posts I feel just aren't 'me' anymore. Either way, occasionally I have thought about logging back on and having a browse about, I love seeing how lots of my old friends and followers are doing, and how their lives have changed. I can tell you now, my life has changed a fair amount. 
I won't promise I'll post regular beauty posts from now on, because the reality is I just don't *care* about it as much as I used to. However moving away from one interest only means moving closer towards another. I'm lucky enough to be coming in to that part in life where I have access to some pretty nice sums of money, but don't have the restraints of a full time job to content with. As a result, I've found myself travelling around a lot. I'd love to share all the things I'm doing, and all the places I'm travelling to, but only if you'd like to read it! 
I guess more than anything this was a post to let you all know I am still alive, just in case you ever remembered my blog as I remembered a lot of yours! 

Monday, 2 June 2014

A Is For Ayla: Another Blog Birthday!

I appreciate I haven't exactly been the most active blogger in the past year, partly down to exams, work, moving schools and whatever else the average 17 year old has going on. I even feel the need to address the fact that yes, I am 17 now, just in case you didn't know (let's be honest you probably didn't I've been so absent). It almost makes me feel guilty writing this post as the point in posting to day is it thank all my lovely readers, followers, guest posters, PR amigos of the past year for being so fabulous. Today is actually A Is For Ayla's 3rd birthday. Quite odd to think that if my blog were a baby (pretty sure I used this analogy last year ...and the year before) It'd now be a toddler.
A huge thank you to everyone I've worked with over the past year. Everyday I receive so many lovely emails from new bloggers seeking advice, old bloggers I haven't spoke to in a while and an ever increasing number of PR fairies. Despite not posting, I have been responding to the majority of emails relating AIFA, don't think I forgot about you altogether! Thanks to everyone that joined the AIFA familia this year, hopefully I'll still be back to post this time next year.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Clarins Water Comfort One-Step Cleanser

Aswell as being the winner of 'The Most Difficult Product To Photograph' in my own personal blog awards, the Clarins one-step cleasner was also hailed the 'Best Cleanser' from 'In Style' 2007 Best Beauty Buys. Since then it's recieved rave reviews so I figured I'd give it a go because unlike many hype skincare product this comes in at £19. It has a peachy scent to go with the coloured liquid, probably not one for those with a sensitive nose as it is quite strong. It's a nice soft cleanser to be used without water, but is extremley poor at removing eye makeup or liquid foundation. I think this is a cleanser for those who don't wear makeup on a daily basis really and so, as a beauty blogger this really wasn't worth the money. I can recommend this for those who wear very little makeup or want a simple cleanser for mornings. For those who wear much more makeup or have sensitive skin I would not recommend.

Have you ever tried this, or any other Clarin's skincare?

MAC 'Angel' Lipstick


You may recognise this lipstick from my 'What I Got For Christmas Haul'. It is was a staple in my everyday makeup look because its a gorgeous mid-pink that adds a hint of colour to the face, perfect for a dreary Winter day. It's of the 'Frost' formulation, ideally I wouldn't pick this formula but the shade was too pretty not to buy. The thing about 'frosts' are that they have a small amount of sheeny-glitter, as apposed to a glossy or a matte finish. It does feel slightly grainy on the lips and can settle in the crevices of the lips if you don't blend it out (not necessarily with a brush, fingers work well too) straight after applying. In the bullet it is a little harder and drier than your typical lipstick, but it's really not much of a problem. I know I've said a couple of negative things about this lipstick, however it is a good, easy everyday shade that stays on the lips for ages and smells pretty good too! Not sure if it's worth the £14 price tag so I'm currently looking out for a dupe to compare it to for all those who want the shade without the price. Annoyingly I lost this lipstick at school however I will undoubtedly repurchase, probably for the novelty really!

Have you tried Angel?

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Trips to Oxford, England

While the weathers terrible, I figured it might be nice to share some of my trip to the South. The weather in there is always 10x better than up here in the North, can you believe it didn't rain once in the entire week I was there?! We traveled around quite a bit, we managed to cover Oxford, Windsor, Eton, Warwick and some other smaller places. Probably the most momentous occasion was when I VISITED BICESTER VILLAGE, yes, I had my first experience of discount Vivienne Westwood. I have to say, I didn't actually buy a lot as the stock is generally pretty bad in outlets, but I did get a few bits and bobs. 
Between all of the photos above (of which some are disastrous in quality, sorry, I was too busy being a tourist to check them) we've pretty much covered both city Oxford and University Oxford. Call me a massive nerd but there's something about the Bodleian Library that makes the language student within me want to cry like a fan girl. Writing this post is particularly exciting for me as I'm rekindling my love affair with the South in a few weeks. I'll be going down to Oxford and Cambridge in a few weeks for University trips. Provided this more lifestyle-y type of post goes down swimmingly with you guys, I may treat you to Part 2 - Eton & Windsor, and perhaps Part 3 - Uni trips soon!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

SEO Tips For Bloggers PART 1: Title & Description Tips

I'm forever getting emails from new or slightly less experienced bloggers looking for tips on increasing their traffic or getting their name out there. I'm all for giving back some of the support I've gained over the years, and so I created a mini-series of Blog Tips and Tricks. It's been a while since I've posted any recently, so I'm kicking it all back off with some core tips on searching techniques. 
Sometimes on blogs their choice of words, titles or paragraph structure may seem a little odd to read. Theres two main possible reasons for this - either writing isn't their biggest strength, or their using SEO. 
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. To break it down further, its a method used by website owners to make their site (or blog in this case) more search friendly. Whether this be with Google, BING or any other search engine, a series of steps can make your blog much more likeable and therefore increase your traffic by leaps and bounds.
I know SEO is very controversial with bloggers as some people feel it gets out of control and their blogs become method written. Personally, I use a small amount of SEO as I'm not really interested in making money from my blog but still want to get the most out of blogging. I think for an independent, personal blog too much SEO can really ruin it. Of course, for those who blog for a living, I'd say its just a way of earning more money, and there's nothing wrong with that. How much SEO you use on your blog is completely up to you. For a while I was quite anti it, as I was with sponsoring and money making in general. Times change and now that I know how, I can fully control how much SEO (and indeed "sponsoring") I use. Below I've listed the methods I use and later on I briefly mention a few methods used by other blogs and websites.
The biggest and best form of SEO in my eyes is the way you title your work. The first obvious title is your blog name. There are two ways you can go - come up with an original, personal name you really like and use SEO in other ways (like I did), or you can use SEO in your blog name. For example, if your blog is a nail themed blog written by and for teenagers, a blog title such a 'Teenage Nail Art Blog' will do you pretty well in terms of SEO. That way, you've opened yourself up to many different types of searches including those for teen blogs, nail blogs and nail art tutorials, all of which are common searches. 
If you use an image header like me (i.e you upload the image of the writing, rather than use the pre-set Blogger headers) then you can cheat slightly. My header at the top of this page only says 'A Is For Ayla' however, if you're a follower of mine you'll notice that on the reading list my blog shows up as 'A Is For Ayla: A British Teen Beauty Blog' - linking back to the whole 'opening yourself up to different types of searches'. I'll admit personally that ever since I changed my blog title I've seen an enormous rise is traffic from 'teen blog' or 'uk beauty blog' searches. Its worth thinking about if you find that your lovely, unique blog title isn't getting you noticed by search engines.
As well as your blog title, you need to think about your actual post titles. This is particularly difficult for fashion bloggers, not so much for beauty, lifestyle or cookery blogs. For beauty blogs, really think about what the key words for that particular post is. E.g 'Fridays FOTN' will not stand a chance against 'Night Makeup: Black Smoky Eye Using Drugstore Cosmetics'. Again its all about using the exact (or similar) words that searchers of Google ect. will use to find your post. Generally the longer the title the better, fit in as many key words as you can without being silly with it. This is one of the most noticeable types of SEO and it can annoy readers if you go too far. Scrolling down my reading list its very easy for me to see who uses SEO by reading their post titles. 
There's a lot more I could say on the matter, and time permitting I will. Half of you have probably switched off by now so I'll come back soon and do a Part 2 and possibly further ones. I hope this post was helpful, let me know if there's anything else specific you'd like to know! To read more from the Blogger Tips and Tricks series, simply use the search box to the right of this post!
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Saturday, 12 April 2014

L'Occitane Immortelle Divine Cream | Review

My family are probably some of the biggest L'Occitane users out there. Between us, we've probably got every item in the store covered. There's just something about the formulas, packaging, marketing and even the staff in their lovely stores (ladies at Leeds you are wonderful!) that makes the whole L'Occitane experience so amazing. This is all the more exciting as I'm pretty sure this will be one of the most expensive beauty items ever featured on AIFA!

Immortelle, their anti-ageing line, has received masses of rave reviews and for many people, it has been hailed at a 'miracle' solution to ageing skin. Personally, I wasn't jumping out of my seat to try this for obvious reasons - I'm still a teenager. I left the testing to the older women in my family. I'm not the most observant person in the world so usually I would barely notice changes brought on my anti-ageing creams however, this product is so so different from the rest. You can noticeably see the difference within quite a short period of time. The thing I love the most about it is the 'glow' you get, it's really like no other I've seen from a product!

The Immortelle Divine Cream claims to lighten dark spots, refine facial contours and lift features amongst many others. I noticed such an improvement in their skin that I have started to use this every now and then. To see the best results, it's advised you apply morning and night to the face and neck area, avoiding the eyes. An intriguing part of the Immortelle line is their research conducted, some of the results were so surprising! You can read some of the testing results here

Aaaaand now on to the price and availability section. I've been dreading this for the past 10 minutes! I won't lie and say its affordable for the average person. I wouldn't say it was a product worth having just to use a few times a month either. I'd advise it for those who are becoming serious about caring for their skin and 'reversing' the signs of ageing. I'm glad to see L'Occitane stores popping up all over the place recently. In the North West, I know of boutique stores in Leeds, Manchester Trafford and York. You can also find them as a concession in many stores and smaller, independent boutiques apothecaries. 
L'Occitane Immortelle Divine Cream £69 / 50ml

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Friday, 14 March 2014

My Holy Grail Beauty Products


Hello all you lovely readers of A is for Ayla, 

As you may have noticed, tis not Rachael here today, so let’s get acquainted shall we? I’m Chloe and I blog over at blog is primarily a beauty blog, with hints of lifestyle and fashion here and there, so if that’s the sort of thing that takes your fancy, pop over and say hello! As you may know, a few weeks back Rachael tweeted asking if any bloggers would be interested in writing a guest post for her lovely blog, and that’s where I stepped in! After a couple of emails back and forth, here I am. Today I’m going to be sharing with you my ‘Holy Grail’ beauty products (a.k.a the beauty products I just couldn't possibly live without). It’s a bit of a mix match of different products, a few makeup, a few skincare and so on. 

Lush Ultrabland Cleanser 
Is it possible to fall in love with a cleanser? This little beauty has been in my procession for a good few months and I just love it. The lovely people at Lush have popped lots of natural goodness into this product, such as almond oil, rose oil, beeswax and honey, to name a few. I just pop it all over my face at the end of the day and use some of the amazing Lush Tea Tree Toner Water (the Simple Kind to Skin Soothing Facial Toner is a cheaper alternative if you’re short on pennies) on a cotton pad to remove it, taking all traces of makeup and dirt with it. One of the most attractive things about this product is it’s super super gentle on the skin, in particular around the eye area, which is fab if (like me) you’re prone to accidentally getting little bits of your products in your eyes. It leaves your skin feeling super soft and overall just lovely and clean. I really recommend giving this product a try if you have blemish-prone skin as it’s worked wonders on clearing up my skin.

Benefit “They’re Real” Mascara 
This has to be one of the most talked about mascaras in the blogging world. It produces such a stunning false-lash look and it defines my eyes so much more than any other mascara I've tried in the past. I have found, however, that this product can go a little bit clumpy if you apply a couple of layers but to solve this little issue, I simply gently wipe the wand over a cotton wool pad before I apply it, to wipe of any excess product, so I can achieve a lovely clump-less look. 

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Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse Foundation 
I was a little late to the party with this product but now I’m here, I absolutely love it. Initially, the idea of a mousse foundation sort of terrified me as I was more of a liquid foundation kind of girl, but this product has converted me. As the "mousse" element of this product suggests, it's very soft and lightweight on the skin, and I find this foundation to be very buildable, which is so good if you're looking for something that provides a good coverage. I apply it using my Real Techniques Expert Face Brush and my Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge and it lasts good 6 or so hours before you even need to consider a little touch up. 

I did a full review of this product back on my blog a few weeks ago, which you can find here if you’re interested in having a read. 

Lush “Grease Lightning” Spot Treatment 
The final of my Holy Grail products is this magical spot treatment. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a necessity for any makeup bag and it’s my all-time favourite spot treatment.  It’s lovely and gentle on the skin yet extremely powerful and it feels very calming and cool when applied. If you pop a tiny bit on any appearing spots at night, by morning they are no more and it does a fab job of reducing redness and size of spots that have already made an appearanceI could blabble on about how much I love this product for forever and a day but, to be quite honest, the sentence that sums it up best is: magic in a bottle. 

So those are my Holy Grail items. If you've done any posts similar to this one recently, let me know so I can have a bit of a nosey, I always love reading posts like this. 
I want to finish by saying a huge huge thank you to the lovely Rachael for giving me the opportunity to post on her lovely blog, I've had a whale of a time. 


Monday, 13 January 2014

Life Update: A Levels, University and Work

Lets pretend I haven't been missing for several months and cut straight to it. The last time I did one of these life updates, I was studying for my AS Levels in French, Spanish, Politics and Economics (and a few added extras we don't need to discuss). Fast forward to the present, I've got a few so-so grades under by belt. Don't get me wrong they weren't tragic, but they weren't half as good as they could have been. This year I've been extra motivated to study more (she says writing a blog post midday on a Thursday sat at home watching Narnia) especially for my current mocks.
I know a lot of my followers are going through the same UCAS applications as me at the moment, so I'll talk a little bit about what I'm up to in terms of University applications, I know I get really curious about what everyone else is doing! If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I went through the whole Oxford and Cambridge open days hassle experience. Although I loved Oxford, I didn't apply, partially because my grades were sightly doubtful (although still enough to get an interview) and because I've found what I would consider to be the perfect course for me elsewhere. I've mentioned it before, but I'm hoping to study something along the lines of Mandarin Chinese with International Relations, with a year abroad in China. I sent my application off in November, and at the moment I've got an offer from Nottingham (my first/only realistic choice), Leeds and Newcastle, as well as an interview at Manchester which I'm considering rejecting. I'm also still waiting for a response from Edinburgh. I'd love to here everybody elses UCAS success stories, or alternatively anybodies advice on university life!
Work wise, although a quit my job at NEXT last September, I've managed to find myself working at another store closer to home. I have to say I do quite enjoy it, I can think of a thousand jobs more torturous!
I hope this post will at least justify my recent absence. Hows everyone else doing?

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Lifestyle: The 13 Best Moments Of 2013!

1. My 16th Birthday
I finally turned 16 on the 22nd January! I planned on having a party and everything but in the end I opted for a quieter birthday. So quiet that I don't have a detailed picture of what I did! I just did some shopping, spent time with family and friends and had a bit of a party!
2. A Friends Party
This is a really random one but this party in particular really stands out for me. I'd had one of the worst days ever and yet one of the best nights ever. I was really at my happiest despite not all of my friends being there. Weird, but I'll remember it forever!
3. My Blogs 2nd Birthday!
Back on the 2nd June my blog turned 2! I was really happy to have made it this far and really thankful for everyone who was still sticking with me.
4. Last Exam - Finishing School!
On the 17th June I had my last exam - geography, a subject I actually like! Only 3 of my friends were actually in on the day so I didn't necessarily spend the day celebrating. It was weird wearing my uniform for the last time and walking over 'the bridge' for the final time as a student!
5. Prom!
I did have a whine and complain about my Prom back on the 28th June but it is a date I'll always remember. It was good to see all of my teachers and my friends I was leaving behind on a more formal goodbye! The after prom was an amazing night too, you don't feel the need to hold back on anything when you know you wont see 90% of the people again!
6. Starting My New Job!
Most people probably dread this but I was really happy to start work at a fashion retail chain. I work as a sales assistant and love every minute of it!
7. Results Day!
Results day was the last time I saw a lot of people. It was great to finally let all the work I did at high school go! In the end I came out with 2A* 8A and 2B.

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