Mac Lipstick Review: Twig

There are some shades of lipstick that you can reach for with complete confidence, knowing that it will work with your skin tone and with a variety of makeup looks. For me, Mac’s Twig  is one such lipstick. 

Mac describes the shade as ‘soft muted brownish-pink’. This shade comes in a Satin finish, which is a nice change from the matte formulas we all seem to have become obsessed with in recent years. It works well with Mac’s lipliners in Soar, Whirl or Dervish depending on your preference. Layering this lipstick over lips that are completely filled-in with one of these liners will really increase wear time. I feel that this shade has a bit of a 90s vibe going on but is easier to wear that some of the darker Browns that were all the range then.

As you can see, I’m very fair-skinned so while Twig is a relatively deep looking shade on me, it would make a lovely nude shade for ladies (or indeed gentleman) with dark skin. I actually can’t think of a skin tone this shade wouldn’t look pretty against. Along with Brave & Mehr, this is a shade I can always count on to help me look put together, even when I’m in a lot of pain and trying to mask it by wearing my shades…which is most of the time to be honest!

There are drugstore alternatives to this colour, but personally I’d rather buy one Mac lipstick than a couple of cheaper ones. They apply so smoothly and smell delicious.

If you’re relatively new to Mac products, I highly recommend checking out this shade. Regardless of current makeup trends, this is a lipstick you can always depend on to look lovely all year around.

Do you have a favourite Mac lipstick?

Wishing you good luck and happy days,

Kindra x

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Note: this is not a sponsored post. All products discussed were purchased with my own money.

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What My Migraine Was Hiding

{As ever with the Chronic Life series, I must point out that I’m not a doctor or medical expert, just a patient like any other. My thoughts and feelings are just that; medical advice should be sought from your specialist.}

Getting new additional diagnoses when you’ve lived with Migraine for most of your life is a strange and disorienting thing. Finding myself dealing with Neurosurgeons and having a hole drilled in my head to assess the pressure in there (see my ICP Monitoring post here) has been a dizzying experience both literally and figuratively.

Since the MRI I had back in January 2016, I’ve had to get to grips with two diagnoses that were completely new to me. The MRI itself showed that I have a Chiari Malformation Type 1 (click here for a brief explanation of what this type of Chiari is). I had no clue what that meant so had to spend some time finding reliable sources of information to educate myself before meeting with my Neurosurgeon…it’s now September and I feel like I’ve been to the surgeon’s clinic, the surgical ward and MRI department so often that the particular part of West London has become a familiar stamping ground for me & my husband. Fortunately it’s quite a pretty square so we’ve managed to do a little outdoors coffee drinking, in a busy part of London yet surrounded by trees, before/after appointments; you’ve got to take your little relaxing moments wherever you can find them when living  this Chronic Life! 

The next step was meeting with my Neurosurgeon. He recommended that I have ICP Monitoring rather than going straight for the decompression surgery that is the treatment (but sadly not a  cure) for Chiari. He wanted to know what the pressure inside my head was like.

As it turns out this was a good call on his part, as the pressure is high. Having analysed the readings from the monitoring procedure, the Neurosurgical team believe that what they’re seeing on my results is high pressure that isn’t being caused by the Chiari but is a problem in it’s own right. This raised pressure (the term they’re using for it is Benign Intracranial Hypertension or IIH) needs to be addressed, as the team have advised me that leaving it as it is would pose a risk to my sight, memory and cognitive function. They expect that addressing the pressure will be of benefit in terms of the daily pain, but how much remains to be seen. It will also cut down some of the risk involved in the decompression surgery in the future, should I decide to have it.

Here’s the part that’s a little scary for me – they have strongly recommended that I have a shunt placed in my brain to drain the excess CSF fluid down to my tummy. The hospital I’m seen at it is well known for excellent standards of Neurosurgical care and I know that my surgeon does far more complicated surgeries than this but still, I’m a little anxious at the prospect of brain surgery (I was proud of myself for getting through the ICP monitoring!). The shunt procedure has risks attached and is something I’ll live with for the rest of my life, so I’m learning as much about it as I can while I’m on the waiting list.


(Me with the pressure bolt monitoring thing attached)

But lurking behind all this in my mind are other questions – how long have the Chiari and IIH been there? If I didn’t have a history of Chronic Migraine in my own life and in the family, would these disorders have been picked up sooner? SHOULD they have been picked up sooner, despite my Migraine? 

I realise that it would probably be wise to put these questions aside, as definitive answers to them are very unlikely to be forthcoming! But still, I think they are entitled to exist and talking them out with my family and blogging about them may help me to process them. I can’t prove anything in relation to these questions, but here’s what I think/feel: I think that my long standing Migraine diagnosis caused the people treating me to attribute ALL neurological symptoms to Migraine. The specialist I had for over a decade was well-respected with good cause and often went beyond the call of duty to support me and my family, so I don’t feel angry that these conditions weren’t picked up – indeed, I believe that the Chiari may have been less of a problem at that time as my condition has deteriorated since the birth of my daughter (her delivery was hard and I suspect worsened the Chiari, though I can’t prove it). As for the pressure – was my pressure high 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago? Does the steady and devastating increase in debilitating daily pain & symptoms over recent years mean that my pressure has been climbing during  time period? 

These questions have the potential to be the kind that circle around in your head at night but never really get answered. One thing I do firmly believe is this – it is well worth discussing with your specialist such tests as an MRI and if need be an LP to check for neurological abnormalities or pressure problems, if you’re living with Migraine that fails to respond to treatment or worsens compared to what you’re used to. Of course most of the time the outcome will be results that are all clear, but I feel that my newer diagnoses were masked by the Migraine. My specialists and I have no doubt that I personally do in fact have Migraine that I’ve inherited genetically but it is not unheard of for people with Chiari, for example, to be misdiagnosed as having Migraine and/or Fibromyalgia (check out the Mayfield Clinic Website for more details on Chiari symptoms). Of course, there may well be many others out there who, like me, have Migraine AND another neurological condition. I’m left feeling that I should have asked for tests back when my condition first deteriorated to the point where I had to stop teaching and became largely housebound (as I still am). 

Having gotten all that off my chest, it’s time to go back to my research on what to expect from life with a VP shunt.

Wishing you good luck and happy days,

Kindra x

Follow me on Instagram.

Tweet me @chroniccockney

Posts you might enjoy:

Everybody’s An Expert On Migraine.

Migraine and Coping With Hospital Stays.

Making Medical Appointments Work For You.

Birthday Beauty Haul Pt 2

If you’ve read my last post, you’ll know that I get super excited for my birthday in August and super excited again at Christmas; they are the times of year I tend to get beauty gifts and gift cards from the lovely people close to me. The Chronic Life I’m living right now means that I really wouldn’t feel right spending money on higher end beauty hauls while I’m too sick to work. But twice a year I get to indulge myself guilt-free and I don’t mind admitting that I really enjoy it. If you haven’t checked out my Birthday Beauty Haul Pt 1  post yet, you should (it includes my first ever purchases from Anastasia Beverly Hills😍).


As you can tell, part 2 of my birthday haul is made up of 4 products from Tarte. I’ve wanted to try out the brand for a long time but couldn’t justify the increased total spend when postage to the UK & taxes were factored in. When I saw the Blush Book 2, I decided that this birthday was the time to get my Tarte on!

In addition to the Blush Book 2, I ordered the animal print eyeshadow palette (empty like a Z Palette), the Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Airbrush Foundation in the shade Honey and the Airbuki Brush that’s designed to be used with the foundation.

I haven’t tested these products yet (the daily pain limits the amount of time I am well enough to sit up & apply makeup…oh how I miss working and putting my face on every day!) but as ever I couldn’t wait any longer to show you what I’ll be reviewing in upcoming posts.

It will of course get a separate post but here’s a peek inside the Blush Book 2….just look at that blushy goodness😍.

I’ll be back soon with reviews of these products and the ones from part 1 of my birthday haul. I’m so excited to try them all!

Have you hauled anything that you’re really excited about lately? 

Wishing you good luck and happy days,

Kindra x

Follow me on Instagram.

Tweet me – @chroniccockney

Note: this is not a sponsored post. All products discussed were purchased with my own money.

Birthday Beauty Haul Pt 1

I don’t often get the chance to buy multiple beauty products in one go; it’s a sad fact that being chronically ill does bad things to your disposable income! But on my birthday and at Christmas I tend to get beauty gifts and gift cards from the people close to me so I’m able to indulge in some beauty hauling. 

I’m still waiting for some goodies from Tarte but in the meantime I thought I’d share some pics of the products that have arrived and cheered up my Chronic Life. I’ll be reviewing everything individually but if there’s a shade of eyeshadow you need to know the name of right now, feel free to ask in the comments 😊.

From Makeup Geek I ordered 5 shadows to go in my palette, one of which is a foiled formula, as well as two blushes. From Clinique I repurchased a Quickliner for Eyes in Brown Black.

From Too Faced I opted for (after much deliberation & with advice from my spoonie beauty blogger buddies) the Natural Eyes palette and from Spectrum brushes I got a fan brush to use with highlight.

From Anastasia Beverly Hills I very excitedly went for the Moon Child Glow Kit and also threw in my first ABH liquid lipstick in Dusty Rose.

I’m just started to play with these products now but I couldn’t wait another minute to share these pics – swatches and full reviews coming soon!

What product have you hauled lately that you absolutely love? 

Wishing you good luck & happy days,

Kindra x

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Catch me on Twitter.

Note: this is not a sponsored post. All products discussed were purchased with my own money.


Mac Lucky Trolls Beauty Powder

I recently went into hospital to have a hole drilled in my skull and a tiny monitor put inside to assess the pressure around my brain. It was not fun 😬. While I was there, I decided I deserved a little treat, so I ordered myself a beauty powder from Mac’s Lucky Troll collection to meet me when I arrived home.

Beauty powders often appear in Mac limited edition collections. They can be used in a variety of ways – on the cheeks as blush, as highlight, on the entire face or even on your eyes depending on the shade and your preference.

The powder I went for is called Play It Proper. Mac describes it as ‘a soft pastel pink with sparkles.’ 

This product isn’t particularly pigmented but as I wanted to use it as an everyday highlight, it doesn’t need to be. I’ve found myself reaching for this compact every time I’ve applied makeup recently. My skin is very fair (approx NW10 right now) and it can be difficult to find a light pinkish highlight; the majority of the the highlights on the market seem to be in the gold/bronze area and such shades generally don’t work for me. This powder turned out to be an ideal shade for my skin and suitable for use as a highlight without being so over-the-top shimmery that I feel self conscious wearing it in the daytime.

The packaging is delightful. It might feel too childish for serious beauty gurus but personally I love it; it appeals to the 90s 14 year old in me! I suspect this packaging is the kind that you’ll either love it or hate it. It makes me happy every time I see it! The little troll outline in the product itself is also adorable, to the extent that I’ll be a little sad when it’s worn away.

I’m really happy with this product and can see myself getting a lot of use out of it. I’d recommend keeping an eye out for other beauty powders in limit edition collections – there may be one that’s ideal for you. Of course the downside is that you have to be quick with limited edition products as the best products tend to sell out fast. I’ve noticed that shades like this do turn up in collections now and then, so I’ll be on the look out for a replacement before this product runs out.

Have you found any gems in limited edition collections?

Wishing you good luck and happy days,

Kindra x 

Follow me on Instagram.

Tweet me – @chroniccockney

Note: this is not a sponsored post. All products discussed were purchased with my own money.

theBalm Liquid Lipstick

The liquid lipstick trend has largely passed me by. I think this is because I remember the earlier versions that were on the market 10-15 years ago. As much as I liked the finish, the formulas left a lot to be desired; touching them up during the day was neigh on impossible to do without ending up with a crumbling, flaking mess.

I finally decided to see how far liquid lipsticks have come by ordering myself one from the Meet Matt(e) Hughes range by theBalm. While it is technically a drugstore product (available at Superdrug in the UK as well as ASOS and a wider selection at Feel Unique online and Debenhams), it is at the pricier end of the drugstore price range at £13.50, just a couple of pounds short of the price of a standard Mac lipstick. I opted for the shade Charming.

I was surprised to find that I absolutely love this lipstick! The formula is excellent. It applies smoothly and it’s easy to achieve an opaque finish. It dries down within a couple of minutes. Once it has dried down, beyond a barely perceptible tacky feeling if you deliberately press your lips together, there is no sticky feeling to put me off. You can certainly talk and eat freely without feeling like your lips are getting stuck to each other.

The fragrance of this lipstick deserves a special mention – it smells like mint chocolate chip ice cream 😋 It smells delicious to me but if you’re not a big fan of the scent it shouldn’t be too big a deal as it fades away once the lipstick has dried. There is a subtle cooling sensation on application but it’s barely noticeable.

The thing I love the most about this formula is that it is both genuinely long wearing AND if you want to do a minor touch up, it applies over itself perfectly – no crumbling yuckiness! Once dry it is also the most transfer-proof lip product that I’ve ever used. My 5 year old has named it my ‘magic lipstick’ because I can kiss her without leaving a lipstick print on her cheek 😊. 

I’m loving the shade itself. The brown has enough mauve in it to create a rich, gorgeous colour and it feels just 90s enough on me without looking dated. Against my fair skin it obviously is less of an actual nude shade but I think it’s one of those lipsticks that would look good on anyone. I’ve found myself reaching for it every time I’ve been well enough to wear makeup of late and it makes my makeup look far more ‘finished’ than it actually is behind the shades I have to wear anytime I’m out and about. 

Whether you’re a committed lover of liquid lipstick or haven’t really been on board with this trend, I highly recommend this product. Finally, a lipstick that actually does last through a meal without needed touching up (unless like me you do it anyway out of sheer force of habit!).

What your favourite liquid lipstick?

Wishing you good luck and happy days,

Kindra x 

Follow me on Instagram.

Tweet /follow me – @chroniccockney

Note: this is not a sponsored post. All products discussed were purchased with my own money.

Migraine and Coping with Hospital Stays

A stay in hospital can be a uniquely stressful and unsettling experience. As is the case with most experiences, how we feel about it and how we cope with it varies widely from person to person; indeed, some people may not find it stressful or unsettling at all! For those of us who are living with Chronic Migraine, there are certain aspects of the hospital environment that cause anxiety, physical pain and worsening of our ludicrously wide range of symptoms. 


I recently had to spend some time in hospital for ICP pressure monitoring (also known as a pressure bolt monitor). This involved having a little hole drilled in skull and a monitoring thing (device? chip?) inserted. It was then connected via a wire to a laptop that recorded pressure readings over a period of time. Yes, it was exactly as much fun as it sounds and probably deserves a post of it’s own.

There were a few things I was able to do to make the whole experience more manageable in terms of my Migraine and the general ickiness of being in hospital, so I thought I’d share them in case they’re helpful to others in the future:

Hospitals are loud, bright and they smell weird, all of which can be problematic for a person living with Chronic Migraine. Don’t neglect the obvious – make sure that you pack earplugs and an eye mask (or some dark light material to fold and cover your eyes with) to help you block out light and sound when needed. I also bring a 4head stick as it cools the forehead in a comforting way, much like a wet cloth but without the need for water. I haven’t really found an effective way to deal with weird hospital smells but a favourite hand/body lotion or essential oil can be distracting.

Fasting before surgery can trigger a Migraine attack – I once fasted before a minor surgery and was in the midst of such a severe Migraine attack by the time I was wheeled into theatre that the medical staff refused put me under general anaesthetic (presumably because they were concerned about vomiting). So this time around I voiced my concern in advance and had a IV drip attached to avoid dehydration while I fasted. I also made sure that the medical staff were OK with me taking my rescue meds whilst fasting if I needed to…of course, I did need to.

Don’t expect hospital staff to fully grasp the severity of Migraine pain – sadly, some won’t grasp how much pain you’re feeling or the extent of other debilitating symptoms unless you spell it out for them. Even in a Neurology hospital, I found that certain members of staff saw me crying and assumed that I was scared of surgery (I wonder if the ’emotional woman’ stereotype flitted through their minds..?) when in fact the tears are just what happens when pain reaches a certain high level for me. I don’t mind saying that if I’m crying, that means the pain is causing me to panic and is VERY high indeed. Next time I go into hospital, I’ll make a point of telling my day/night named nurse how my Migraine tends to operate and what my painscale is like, so when the next full blown Migraine attack hits, we’ll already have a plan in place.

Even the most efficient wards might not have a ready supply of your meds so I recommend taking with you a supply of every medication you use, enough to cover your entire hospital stay if you already know how long it will be. Of course wards can generally get hold of what you need but it can take time and if it’s an abortive or rescue medication, you might need it urgently with little warning. 

Migraine friendly snacks – if you need to eat something to help keep your meds down during an attack, it’s really useful to have your own little supply in your bedside locker. For me that tends to be cereal bars and cheesy cracker type snacks as they don’t require a fridge and help with the evil nausea that can be caused both by medication and the Migraine attack itself. 

Migraine can make processing a chunk of information in one go difficult. The ‘brain fog’ that goes with Migraine and other conditions such as Fibromyalgia means that we’re not always able to absorb information as quickly or well as we’d like. I recommend having a pen and little note book handy to jot down the names of medical staff and what they say. It’s also completely ok to ask for information to be repeated, either just for you or in front of your next of kin.

A couple of points that apply to all patients whether they live with Migraine or not…

Being in hospital can be stressful so consider in advance what might be soothing for you. Your favourite books or games on your tablet, colouring books or some meditation podcasts to listen to on headphones might help. Have a chat with your friends and family about who should visit and when, to help you stay upbeat and provide you with emotional support or in the case of my husband and best friend, a healthy dose of mockery.

You are a patient, not a prisoner. The feeling of being stranded and out of control while in hospital can cause real anxiety and upset. Sometimes when you arrive on the ward, the person greeting you may launch into a big list of rules including serious emphasis on visiting hours…don’t let this freak you out. The last ward I stayed on had limited visiting hours (2pm-7pm). I was going to be having surgery in the morning and while I appreciated that the rules were there to keep things quiet for patients who were all having some kind of Neuro or spinal surgery, I wanted to see my husband before going to have my skull drilled! This was arranged by my telling the nursing staff that I wanted this and by my husband turning up and asking politely. I also made it clear that I’d happily leave the ward and go to the hospital coffee shop with my husband if he wasn’t allowed in to see me before surgery. I had no problem sticking to visiting hours at all other times during my stay and I genuinely wouldn’t have objected to the rules being stretched for another patient if they were feeling anxious or upset pre or post surgery.

Keeping in touch with the outside world can be really comforting for anybody in hospital. Personally I found texts and Facebook messages/updates to be a real lifeline – hospitals seem to have their own time stream and a day can feel like a long time. So make sure your phone and charger are fully functioning and within arm’s reach!

Do you have any tips for surviving a hospital stay when you live with Migraine or any other chronic illness?

Wishing you good luck and happy days,

Kindra x

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Maybelline The Blushed Nudes Palette: 1st Impressions 

If you’ve read my recent posts, you’ll know that I’ve decided that at the age of 34, it’s time to finally learn how to apply eyeshadow properly. I recently purchased my first palette from Tarte (the collaboration with Grav3yardgirl of YouTube fame, see post here) and am browsing posts on Too Faced and Urban Decay palettes to help me decide which one I need in my life. I’ve also purchased my first 3 shadows from Makeup Geek and am looking forward to gradually filling my Z Palette with shades that hopefully work wth my very fair skin.

When I spotted the Maybelline Blushed Nudes palette on sale at ASOS, I thought I might as well grab it and see what this drugstore offering is like.


The shades themselves are neutral and pretty. If you’re an established eyeshadow lover, you doubtless already own similar shades, probably in higher-end palettes. But if you’re a beginner, either because you’re just late to the party like me or because you’re young, these kind of shades strike me as a good place to start.

I noticed on swatching these shadows that they are noticeably more powdery than the Tarte palette or handful of Mac shadows I own, which I guess is to be expected when you consider the huge difference in price! There was also quite a bit of fall out when using a brush to get product from pan to the eyelid.

Having swatched and had an initial play with the shadows in this palette, I think the amount of use I’ll get out of them varies a lot from shade to shade. The lighter colours apply nicely over primer; I used the Urban Decay Primer Potion. Some of the darker ones swatched well but ended up looking lacklustre and a little muddy when applied, even when factoring in that my eyeshadow application game needs work. 

I’m not disgarding this palette by any means but to be honest it doesn’t make me want to order more Maybelline eyeshadows. I’m sure there are some great quality shadows in the drugstore price range but this particular palette hasn’t especially impressed me so far. That said, if with further use I warm to it, I’ll return to this post and add an update. In the meantime I think I’ll buy a couple of Makeup Geek shades at a time & add them to my Z Palette rather than buying more drugstore palettes randomly because they’re on sale.

What is your favourite drugstore brand for eyeshadows? 

Wishing you good luck and happy days,

Kindra x

Tweet/follow me – @chroniccockney

Follow me on Instagram.

Also on Bloglovin.

Note: this is not a sponsored post. All products discussed were purchased with my own money.

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