BLOG | How I stage my blog backgrounds

I don’t blog about blogging very much. I have lots of opinions about blogging, but they tend to go on my Twitter and never make it to fully-formed blog posts. (The real ruthless ones get saved for my little Twitter.)

One of the things I have opinions about is how blog photos are staged. I’ve gone through various phases of how I like to take photos of beauty products (and of myself). I use a purely white setup if I’m lazy, and I like using coloured paper, but paper gets ratty and picks up makeup marks easily, and is also Murphy’s favourite thing to shred.

I tend not to stage photos in the classic ~flatlay~—it’s just not me. Occasionally I’ll put a candle or something in a photo but truthfully, I feel like beautifully staged flatlays imply that I have a beautifully staged house full of adorable trinkets. The reality is more like a house full of crap that I shovel out of the way to clear the minimum amount of space I can take a good photo in.

I can never get excited about interiors ‘inspiration’ and minimalist design, as much as I’d like to, because it stresses me out wondering where everyone’s stuff is. Where are the car keys, the cables, the scissors, the cat toys, the bobby pins, the D&D dice, the spare batteries, the letter you have to remember to post, the washing that needs folding, the button that needs sewing back on, the pictures that need hanging on the wall still? (These are all things I can see from where I’m sitting.)

Writing for xoVain, we had to provide all our own images and no plain white backgrounds were allowed. That’s when I learned how handy fabric was as a photography background. All the Youtubers do it now, of course, with acres of sequined fabrics hung slightly out of focus behind them. My strategy is much more low budget!

SKIN | Why doesn’t all skincare come in pump bottles?

In my last few posts I’ve been threatening to write an ode to pump bottles, so it was only a matter of time.

Beauty products, skincare in particular, come in all sorts of stupid delivery methods. The worst is bottles with droppers, but jars suck (exposing product to air and grubby fingers) and I can even find things to complain about with screw-lid squeeze tubes (let me pop the cap open with one hand, damnit!)

LIFE | Beauty brands are taking us for a ride

After I’ve paid my rent, bills, taken the cat to the vet (he’s fine, thanks for asking!) and whatever other expenses come up, I spend a lot of my spare income on beauty products. I love expensive perfumes and am prepared to drop cash on skincare, whether I’m testing something that’s trending or want to treat myself.

Most of the time, though, beauty products don’t need to cost much, and when things are expensive, you’re paying for the brand, the concept and the feeling of expensiveness rather than something that’s of a truly higher quality.

We’re all being taken for a ride. There’s no other way about it—brands don’t care about helping you get a bargain, or “empowering women” or whatever marketing fluff they’re selling you this week. They exist to make money. They cannot exist without you purchasing their products and making a profit off the products they’re selling you.

I learned this more than anything while I worked at Clinique. The ‘cost’ of a product to the store, or to the brand, is less than half what you pay retail. We should all know this anyway, but when you see the numbers written down it really brings it home. And the cost is even more inflated when the product itself doesn’t contain expensive ingredients or benefit from extensive innovative research.

So with all that said, what beauty products are you wasting your money on?

LIFE | Kmart Petone is open

Kmart Petone is open and has a bunch of affordable beauty buys, like the ELF Foundation Blurring Brush and brow razors.
Kmart opened in Petone (my neighbourhood) two weeks ago and I’ve already been twice! I haven’t bought anything special—someone asked what I’d bought and I struggled to remember, because it was mostly impulse buys of cheap shit (more on that in a moment) but there are a few useful things I picked up.

LIFE | No gift guides


I hate gift guides.

The closest I’ve come this year is writing about the Body Shop’s Christmas releases, which I guess is a gift-guide of sorts as it suggests giving them as Christmas presents, but that’s all you’re getting.

This time of year they’re the only things any blogger is publishing. (This isn’t directed at anyone specific, by the way, and if you don’t find humour in exaggeration, you can leave). Gift guides for you, for your mother, for your boyfriend, luxury gift guides, affordable gift guides, who fucking cares.

The contents of these gift guides tend to fall into a couple of categories.

LIFE | Goodbye wisdom teeth & let’s talk about depression

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I had my wisdom teeth removed on Wednesday. All four of the fuckers, all impacted. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to go to hospital for anything, and the first time I had general anaesthetic. To say I was nervous is an understatement of stupid proportions. It went fine, of course, because modern medicine is incredible (seriously, anaesthetic is fascinating! They can literally turn your body off for half an hour and then you wake up FINE how does it work)

LIFE | Goodbye, Clinique

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2015 was a weird year of change and discovery for me. I left a job to study makeup artistry at Weltec in the first half of the year, and after gaining my qualification I became Assistant Counter Manager for Clinique at Farmers Lambton Quay. In December I handed in my resignation after working for Clinique for six months.

LIFE | I’m still writing, I promise!

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I haven’t written a lot here over the past few months, for a bunch of reasons. One of them, I’ll be honest, is because if I’m deciding between whether to write something for my own blog or for xoVain (where I get paid), I’ll pick the latter. At the moment my income is pretty inadequate and my partner is looking for work, so every little bit helps.

Related to that, I guess, is that I haven’t had as much money to spend on products for myself, and I don’t want to fall back on writing exclusively about PR samples. With that in mind, the next few posts on Hyacinth Girl will be good old-fashioned product reviews, of things I’ve bought and am into and want to rave about. While you wait for those, however, I’d suggest having a read of xoVain ????

LIFE | How to make going to the gym a little less unpleasant

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I’ve started going to the gym regularly again, but don’t worry – there’s no chance of Hyacinth Girl becoming a fitness blog. It’s still a slog getting my shit together and actually making it to the gym, and my endorphins aren’t winning out over my preference for sitting down or getting an extra hour’s sleep. That being said, there are a few things that have definitely helped make going to the gym slightly less miserable.