INDEPENDENT WOMEN'S MAGAZINES WORTH READING

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It's no secret that I'm a magazine hoarder/endorser/obsessive. Whatever your interests may be, there's probably a magazine out there that covers it. (If not, why not make your own?)

You've probably heard of Kinfolk, Oh Comely et al. Putting those aside, here is a (far from exhaustive) list of my favourite women's indie magazines. They all happen to be British-based, too.

 

THE GENTLEWOMAN has gained a large following in recent years and it's not difficult to see why. The magazine prides itself as offering a "fresh and intelligent perspective" on personal style, and showcasing inspirational women from all walks of life. thegentlewoman.co.uk @thegentlewoman

LADYBEARD is a relatively new venture that explores a different theme each issue. The first was sex, issue two is 'the mind'. They "platform the voices you don't usually hear ... people who live any deviation from the straight, white, cis, able-bodied 'ideal'". ladybeardmagazine.co.uk @ladybeardmag

RIPOSTE profiles "bold and fascinating women whose achievements speak for themselves". This is further emphasised as the main interviewee's photo is placed on the back cover, rather than the front. Each issue features five ideas, four meetings, three features, two essays and one icon, covering a broad range of topics. ripostemagazine.com @RiposteMagazine

BEAUTY PAPERS is a refreshing alternative to just a few, product-led beauty pages in a magazine. Like Ladybeard, each issue has a theme: the most recent being 'plastic'. I swooned about it at length herebeautypapers.com @beautypapersmag

AN ODE TO BEAUTY PAPERS

Stunning photography interspersed with notes on nutrition, skin, skinheads, an insight to product ingredients, a think piece about the consequences of beauty; Bella Freud on her infamous fragrances. And that's just the first thirty pages.

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Beauty Papers is a new biannual magazine that explores the culture of beauty. As the editors, Maxine Leonard and Valerie Wickes best describe it:

SKIN by Nichola Joss. Photographer Claire Brand

SKIN by Nichola Joss. Photographer Claire Brand

"The world is full of relentless imagery of pseudo glamour masquerading as beauty.

In reality this has nothing to do with "beauty", it is about conformity, brand and formula. ...

Without character and emotion, there is no beauty and it is too oppressive to present one ideal to women or men.

Punk said, "screw the formula." ...

There is nothing more inspiring than beauty when the chains are taken off."

And I couldn't agree more.

When indulging in fashion and beauty editorial, it's hard not to appreciate the creative process, the team behind the camera, the time taken to execute the beautiful shots. It is a craft. But, post-production. My issue isn't with colour correction, but the masking of 'imperfections', resulting in the flawless complexion only a child could possibly possess. And they're not the ones buying in to it.

In Beauty Papers - and it feels weird to have to type this - you can see the models' pores, blemishes, very slight veins. They don't detract from the focus of image at all; in my opinion, it enhances it. It's refreshing and it's real. Human over mannequin. It's beauty.

The prose in Beauty Papers is also well written, and relatable. The concisely named essay "White" exploring the evolving perspective of pale skin throughout history is a very well researched and interesting read. As a pale woman myself, it is an unfamiliar yet welcome change to the S/S faux tanning articles I usually flick past. The reader isn't patronised. Nor being pushed products.

There's still a place on my shelves for fashion and beauty magazines but Beauty Papers epitomises, perhaps, the more experimental side to beauty. Hopefully someday those values will too, become mainstream. A must read.

Issue 0 of Beauty Papers is available with six covers to choose from. Available at these stockists and online. I bought mine at MagazineBrighton.

MAGAZINEBRIGHTON + INDIE SHOP GUIDE: BRIGHTON

Brighton is home to many independent shops. Here's a (far from exhaustive) list of some favourites:

+ MAGAZINEBRIGHTON   22 TRAFALGER ST, BN1 4EQ

Having followed their Instagram since before their recent opening, I couldn't leave without seeking out the independent magazine seller. They sell over 200 magazines at one time, but somehow I managed to restrain myself to picking up just Beautypapers, The Gentlewoman and Glamcult. If you have an affinity for magazines or just beautiful design, MagazineBrighton is a must.

https://instagram.com/magazinebrighton/

+ BISON BEER CRAFTHOUSE   7 EAST ST, BN1 1HP

Situated right near the seafront, we were lured in by the illustrated shopfront and interior. And of course, craft beer. They also stock their own home brew, Beast Street IPA.

http://bisonbeer.co.uk/

Further reading: Top 10 craft beer pubs in Brighton

+ BRIGHTON'S BIG SCREEN   EAST OF BRIGHTON PIER

It's not a shop but it's a one off: the beachfront cinema shows during the summer season. Daytime viewings (2-5pm) are free, and evening viewings (5pm onwards) are just £3 for general admission. It costs a little more for a shaded covered seat and bar access. 

http://brightonsbigscreen.com/

 

RELATED: Indie Shop Guide: BathThings To Do: London

INDIE SHOP GUIDE: BATH

A recent trip to the ever picturesque Bath was, of course, an opportunity to try the renowned spa, seek out good English pub food, and revel in its abundance of independent shops. 

Our favourites:

+ INDEPENDENT SPIRIT   TERRACE WALK, BA1 1LN 

Due to my boyfriend's love of beer (and beer labels), if there's ever an independent retailer or microbrewery in the vicinity, consider us interested. Independent Spirit stocks a wide range of beers, wines, spirits, champagnes and cocktail equipment packed in to a compact store across two floors. Not to mention the beautiful calligraphic logo adorning the windows.

independentspiritofbath.co.uk

+ STAG   NORTH PARADE, BA1 1LF

An indie that's more Pinterest worthy, than floor to ceiling Cath Kidston. Ran by two friends, they stock most items from Robert Frederick (next door), while sourcing other brands elsewhere. I picked up two letterpress cards from the Archivist Press.

@BathStagShop

+ FOUND   ARGYLE ST, BA2 4BQ

After reading Tamira's post, we kept an eye out for Found boutique, but it was closed on both days we were visiting. Nevertheless, from the photos and their website, I'd guess it's still worth a peek; find her post here: The Guilty Girl: Found, Bath.

foundbath.co.uk

+ THERMAE BATH SPA   THE HETLING PUMP ROOM, HOT BATH ST, BA1 1SJ

Not an independent, but if you're looking to treat yourself - a must-do. An open-air rooftop pool overlooking the city. Aroma steam rooms. Need I say more? NB: the gift shop was a bit hit and miss, unless you're looking to indulge in Aromatherapy Associates.

thermaebathspa.com

Further reading: Cereal's Bath City Guide

 

Found boutique photo credit: foundbath.co.uk

 

WHY I BLOG

The question, 'why do you blog?' has been posed regularly in recent months. At first, I didn't have nor feel the need to have an eloquent answer. Yet, on reflection - this is why I blog.

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In the face of independent bookshops and libraries closing nationwide, it's interesting to see the recently launched The Man Booker Prize and book vloggers collaboration come to light. Collaboration aside, the vloggers that are participating in the build up to the literary prize* articulate their thoughts (and not just about books), in the way all the best chatty videos do: like a (albeit one-sided) conversation with a friend. 

It's not often I turn to 'BookTube'. In all honesty, I feel that the book community - amongst others - can go unnoticed in a seeming shift to video effects and 'look at me' YT, framed by all the ads.

I can name just two book-related vloggers on my subscription list. When those faces aren't popping up repeatedly in every pre-video ad, sadly, they can be easily overlooked.

To name one of the Man Booker vloggers: Leena aka justkissmyfrog, and notably, just one of her thought-provoking videos, What makes a 'strong woman'?. I could try to type a response to this video, and perhaps I will at a later date; it could take a few drafts. In short, I legitimately spent a few hours watching her channel. Straight. Other vloggers include Jen, Jean, Lauren and Ariel.* I'm steadily making my way through their playlists, too.

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Such content reminds me why I read blogs, and starting blogging. To me, it's about sharing opinions and perspectives. To just create even if no one reads; to potential readers, or within a community. Divulging in niches I don't yet have a grasp of, or have the first clue about. At a 1543-unread-posts-ready-to-devour rate.

*Jen / Jenvcampbell, Jean / Bookishthoughts, Lauren / Reads and Daydreams, Ariel / Ariel Bissett

HERO PRODUCT: EPSOM BATH SALTS

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Epsom salts have been well documented for use as a natural remedy for a number of ailments. The 'salt' is in fact not a salt, but a naturally occurring mineral compound of magnesium and sulphate, which are both readily absorbed by the skin. Together they can reduce inflammation, flush toxins, and help ease aching muscles, strains, congestion and headaches.

All that from just bathing in it? Prior to trying it myself, I was a bit skeptical. Therapie's near £40 tub seemed a bit extravagant, too. 

For a more budget-friendly option: Westlab Pure Epsom Salt are less than a quarter of the price, in 500g, 1kg, 2kg, 5kg and even 25kg bags.

A handful of salts added to a usual bubble bath equates to a heavenly soak. Whether it's the heat or salts or scent of the bubbles - probably a mix of all three - I can guarantee to feel relaxed and have a good night's sleep afterwards.

Consider that another bandwagon jumped.

AGE: WHAT'S THE OBSESSION?

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I'm writing this as a soon-to-be twenty-three-year old. I still get asked for ID. I have the seemingly ingrained, Gen Y subconscious fear of not being "where I should be" at [insert age]. I also have the annoyance with myself and others to think that such a timescale even matters. Usually the latter wins. I suppose we're conditioned to think it does, as we're measured by our age so often it's become central to our identity. Our culture is obsessed with time. Cognitive dissonance and being human at its finest. 

 

A typical 'article': photo of Gisele at 19, alongside photo of Gisele at 40, with the strapline, "Gisele hasn't aged at all". Gisele, the supermodel, basically a good genetic anomaly. 'Clean', money and stress-free living and a trainer helps, too. What's with the fetishisation with those that appear younger than they are, then making an article of it? Clickbait? Lazy journalism? 

Even someone that's racked up numerous acting accolades and been honoured by the Queen can't escape our obsession with age. Dame Helen Mirren's response on today's This Morning*, to interviewers commenting that she looked really good for 70 was, "it's all a lot of make up and nice hair ... I do look my age!", lightly adding, "your editor told you to say that didn't they!?". I have to admit I agreed with her, she looks my preconceived idea of 70. I also agree with TM, she looks great. However this emphasises the you-look-great-for comments and probably what viewers were thinking, too: the ironically outdated idea of how I or we think a "stereotypical" 70 year old looks. 

The adage 'you're only as old as you feel' comes to mind. 'You still feel the same at fifty as you did at twenty'. Besides the typical going grey, and muscles aching that you didn't know you had per se. However there's a whole host of people that defy and take it in their stride, too. 

 

At the ripe age of twenty-two and coincidentally not being famous, thankfully, no one is scrutinising my every move or pore. (There are old social media posts to highlight that.) However I think I've figured some things out (don't quote me). Things like, the family and friendships I value; when to stand my ground; a skincare routine... I jest. Sort of. But as I am told on the occasions when I have a mini meltdown about the aforementioned 'timescale': you never stop learning, so no, you won't ever have it all figured out. You may be getting older, but you run your own race.

What else do I know? I'd like to have Helen Mirren's frank pride at seventy.

 

*A quick Google for this interview lists articles mainly titled, "Mirren shocks presenters by swearing on live TV". The TL;DR? It was 9am and she said "pissed down with rain"... Hold your horses, Ofcom.

HERO PRODUCT: CLARINS GENTLE EXFOLIATOR BRIGHTENING TONER

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The Clarins Gentle Exfoliating Brightening Toner is a product that I've featured a few times on this blog since first purchase. Fast forward eighteen months: in short, it has become the one skincare product I would (and have) wholeheartedly recommend to others.

(I even traipsed around every Clarins counter in Birmingham to find a sample for a friend...)

Despite the relatively lengthy name, it summarises the product's results pretty succinctly. It contains glycolic, salycilic and tartaric acids; the AHA/BHAs derived from fruit extracts, that together work a treat on exfoliating dead skin, and in small concentrations, are suitable for all skin types. (However as with any product, test with caution on your own skin type.)

After washing my face in the evening, I apply a near 20p sized amount to a cotton pad, sweep all over the face (avoiding close around the eyes, just preference) and décolletage. The toner applies silkily and always feels refreshing. I don't use this every evening, but usually at least twice a week, if not more, depending on my skin.

Come morning, and even if my face is having a breakout, my skin always appears clearer and brighter. Mind you, I do crave a morning cleanse quick to rid the left over residue. But that's just me.

I would perhaps go as far to attribute this toner (combined with 2x cleanse a day and an overall improved diet) as the reason my skin has improved tenfold in the past year. By improved I mean, I still get the odd hormonal breakout as these usually can't be helped, or as a result of indulging in wine/cheese/you know the drill - but a generally clearer complexion.

Clarins have sneakily increased the price, however I purchased my most recent bottle from allbeauty.com, for £6 less than the current RRP.