The Ultimate Finals Study Guide

Ultimate Finals Study Guide Pinterest 1-16-16
Hi lovelies! Finals season is here, which means I finally get to share some of the best tips for acing finals that I’ve come across.

I strongly believe that the best thing you can do is prepare. As such, most of this guide is based on knowing yourself—your strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, and potential distractions—so you can take proactive steps to maximize your strengths and avoid falling into traps.

First things first:


There’s a reason that every college organization blog will tell you to keep your syllabus handy: sometimes, your prof will tell you what’s testable and what’s not. Oftentimes the syllabus will tell you if the final is cumulative or not, or if there are lectures or chapters that are not testable.

To get more detailed information, consider going to your professor’s office hours. While it’s often intimidating (what do you even talk to your prof about??), going in and chatting about the class, your prof’s research, or the upcoming exam will likely net you a few subtle exam hints. Hearing what’s testable from the prof herself is also so much more reliable than rumours you get from a friend of a friend of a friend over Facebook. Just be sure to book only your fair share of office hours, since your classmates will likely be desperate for help, too.

One of the questions that I hear a lot in class is “Are the readings on the exam?” And while this differs for every class and every professor, sometimes, it’s not explicitly stated. Since I was in science for freshman and sophomore year, most of my classes’ textbooks were really just another way of saying the same thing as in class, which meant that the only time I cracked open a science textbook was if I didn’t understand something said in class.

My roommate has political science readings that are radically different than lecture material, so he actually has to do them. Like I’ve said, it depends wholly on your professor and course—if you’re unsure, ask! Sometimes, readings take more time than they’re worth, so make sure you know if they’ll benefit you in case you’re running short on study time.


After you know what you need to study, gather everything! Make sure you have all the notes you need, including from classes you missed (or may have dozed off in…I’m looking at you, 8AM calculus). Ask friends, but there are two cautions here: 1) make sure the friend you ask actually makes good notes, and 2) don’t let this become a habit. Note-sharing (and sharing of other resources like study sheets and such) goes both ways. Don’t be the person who’s always asking for notes, because people will realize and eventually, their goodwill might run out.

I love rewriting my notes into one big course note. Sure, it ends up being fifty pages long, but it’s so nice to have everything in one place, all formatted and organized the same way.

If you’re super short on time, or even just want some notes to compare with your own, use OneClass. If you upload your own notes, you get credits that can be used to download other notes for whatever class you like (specific to each school and course). The best way to maximize value on OneClass is to look for comprehensive, consolidated notes, which again cover the entire course in one document. They cost more in credits, but they’re so much more worth it. Again, please don’t let yourself rely solely on OneClass as a note resource! It should be a supplement or a contingency, but not your primary source of notes!

After you’ve got your notes all together, it’s time to understand yourself a little bit.


Planning ahead will allow you to take care of yourself properly, avoid getting distracted, and avoid burnout/loss of motivation.

Every article will tell you to get rid of distractions, but there are a lot of distractions that you might not recognize in advance. The obvious distraction is the internet. Leave your phone at home. Bring a watch instead. Use the SelfControl plugin, or leave your computer at home, or disable internet access. Whatever you have to do, do it.

Study alone, or with people who will actually focus and call you out on it if you’ve been on Pinterest for more than ten minutes. Find a few different places you can be productive in, and alternate those for a balance between a change of scenery and a consistent psychological association with studying. To be honest, I hate studying in libraries. Everyone is always so anxious when finals come around; people start sleeping between bookshelves or having breakdowns from stress. I get second-hand anxiety in the library. It freaks me out even more and saps my mental energy. I’m more of a casual coffee shop studier.

Some of the less-obvious distractions are hunger and health, which kind of go hand in hand anyway. Go grocery shopping before you get really busy with studying. Buy a bunch of things that will last for a fairly long time but are actually healthy. Prepare meals (freezer meals are a godsend) and snacks in advance. One of my friends constantly has a bag of veggie straws going. She pre-portions them into little snack-size bags so they’re quick and convenient, but it also makes sure she doesn’t eat the whole bag in one sitting. Genius.

You’d be surprised how much money you can spend on takeout during exams, and how gross you feel afterwards. I have to prep snacks and meals ahead for exam season, otherwise I can’t do my best work because I’m either starving from not eating at all, or greasy from fast food. When we get busy, we tend to neglect our health, and then we can’t work effectively. Prep ahead and save yourself from that vicious cycle!


It’s easy to think that cramming and pulling an all-nighter will land you a better grade. Here’s the thing: often, sleep will serve you better than cramming. If you don’t sleep, you’ll just be exhausted trying to write that sucker tomorrow morning. In first year, a girl I knew tried to pull an all-nighter and actually ended up falling asleep and missing her exam! Go to bed at a reasonable time, otherwise you might not remember any of the material—or worse.

Work in short chunks of time; for example, work for an hour, then take a 10 minute break. Go outside and take a walk. Daydream a little bit about the holidays. Reward yourself for completing decent amounts of work: paint your nails, spend 5-10 minutes on Instagram, watch a Ted Talk, or have a mini dance party. De-stress with rewards that aren’t food, because that’s how exam pudge happens. Taking breaks helps your stress levels and avoids burnout. Planning small rewards helps you get over the “I don’t feel like it” mentality.

Another tip for getting started it to plan out your time. Make a study schedule with realistic goals, like what time you’re going to wake up and how much you can get done. The easiest way to prioritize is to set two or three main goals each day, like “Finish Chapters 1, 2, and 3”. Make them realistic, but not so small that you don’t actually get anything done. When you actually go through your day, you can write what you actually did and at what times beside it. This lets you see where your time is actually going, so you can see if you need to get rid of one more distraction or allocate your time better.


Again, figure out what will be tested. If your test is likely to be straight memorization, try rewriting notes over and over and using mnemonics. If your exam will likely be about implications, make diagrams, connections, and ask what would happen if you changed something. This works well for chemistry, history, or cell biology.

Understand your learning style and adapt. Do you learn best by drawing diagrams and colour-coding? Do that! Are you an auditory learner? My roommate, who is in health science/anatomy, has a 4.0GPA. She knows she’s an auditory learner, so she studies by reading out loud, and trying to explain her notes and memorize out loud. Genius. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, act things out. Remember the bone song from Hannah Montana? Use it! Point to your femur or whatever. You do you!

Talk to other people. Discuss things. If you can explain things and discuss with others, you’ll remember it so much better. It helps if you do this all the way throughout the semester—just talking about the material covered in class that day can help spark your memory later.

Going through and rereading notes periodically throughout the semester (I like every weekend) will help you be able to study less come finals season, too!

Using these tips, you should be all set for exam day!

Comment below to tell me your best exam studying tips!
With love,

Skin-Saving Drugstore Faves: St. Ives Scrubs!

Hi lovelies!

Today I want to share with you a few little products I absolutely love. St. Ives scrubs are amazing overall for soft, smooth, hydrated skin, but I have three favourite products in particular:

From left to right: 1.) St Ives Oatmeal and Shea Butter Hydrating Body Wash, 2.) St Ives Even & Bright Pink Lemon and Mandarin Orange Scrub, and 3.) St Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub.

1.) First and foremost, the Oatmeal & Shea Butter body wash is sooo smooth and, well, buttery! It moisturizes beautifully and leaves a gentle, subtle, fresh shea scent. It’s not overpowering at all. I love this body wash because it’s gentle on my skin, very well-priced (I can sometimes even find it at the dollar store for $3 or so), and isn’t heavy, so it lets my skin actually breathe. 🙂

2.) The Pink Lemon and Mandarin Orange scrub works wonders for my blackheads. It’s very gentle, so I use this every other day or so to gently exfoliate my face. It evens my skin wonderfully and wakes me up in the morning because it smells so great! One precaution, though: I often get some into my hairline and in my eyelashes/eyebrows, which is sometimes hard to rinse off completely, and when it dries it looks like white specs in my eyelashes which is super weird looking! So I use this in the shower so I can rinse it off more thoroughly.

I have tried many of the other facial scrubs (including the famous apricot one and the green tea scrub) and while I find that they all work well, the pink lemon & mandarin orange is my favourite because of how it evens my skin tone, is gentle, and the energizing scent!

3.) The Apricot scrub’s directions actually say to use it on your face, but I find it’s too rough for that. I use it on the rest of my body, especially my arms and legs. I have these weird little bumps on the outside of my upper arms, and my arms and legs tend to get very dry, and this scrub has worked wonders. It almost feels like a mini massage! I have also used this for blackheads on my back and it’s helped a little bit there as well. I also use the scrub wherever I shave, because exfoliating beforehand allows for a smoother, longer lasting shave! This is the best body scrub I’ve tried. Also: the 300mL tub is significantly cheaper per volume than the 150mL tube thing, and they’re exactly the same product. I think it was $1 more for double the volume (the 150mL was $5, and this was $6 if I can recall correctly).

All in all, I absolutely love these St Ives scrubs. They make my skin soft, smooth, and moisturized. My arms and legs look so smooth and healthy thanks to the oatmeal body wash and apricot scrub, and my face is so even and my blackheads are reduced thanks to the pink lemon and mandarin scrub.

Have you tried these scrubs before? Let me know what you think!

Love always,

Semester Goals: Fall 2015

Hi lovelies!

Last year I basically had an existential crisis because I was in a major that I hated and could not see myself having a career in. I had a long-time friendship become very one-sided and emotionally manipulative. My grades suffered, my mood suffered, and suddenly I hated everything and just wanted to quit and hide under a blanket for all of eternity.

This summer, I realized that by allowing all of that drama/nonsense to continue, I was hurting myself, and by association, I was negatively affecting my friends and family. At some point, it hit me that trying to always push through, ignore my own feelings, and take the high road wasn’t sustainable. Eventually, I would burn out and break down. Why was I doing things that didn’t make me happy?

My philosophy is this: If it’s not adding value to your life, then why are you doing it?

Since then, I’ve been on a constant journey towards self-improvement. I switched majors into something I actually enjoy. I’ve distanced myself from people around whom I feel guilty or sad more often than happy or grateful. I’ve pinpointed ways to improve in every aspect of my life, and I’m actively making a plan to get there.

One of those ways is goal setting, an endeavor that, admittedly, hasn’t worked well for me in the past.

I used to set yearly goals, like New Year’s Resolutions, and I’d write them into my phone’s notes and rarely look at them throughout the year. I never actually stuck to them. I’d accomplish the easy ones that I’d probably do anyway, but I’d never even start to work on the more challenging goals, which kinds of defeats the purpose, don’t you think?

This summer I stumbled across a post from Dani at Dani Dearest in which she hadoutlined her goals for the semester—”15 goals for 15 weeks”. She mentioned how much more likely we are to accomplish goals if we share them with others. It’s a system of accountability, and it works.

I truly believe that the key to accomplishing your goals are making them challenging, but manageable and measureable. This is why you’ll see numbers in most of my goals. It provides me with an actual benchmark against which I can measure progress. I’ve started small as a way to encourage myself to continue setting goals next semester as well.

So, here are my goals for the semester:

  • Work out at least once a week: working out is entirely new to me since I’ve always played soccer and/or waterpolo year round, which usually provided me with enough exercise. But university is different. I have yet to discover what works best for me (home workouts vs the gym vs gym classes), so this goal is super ambiguous and small for now.
  • Create a budget and stick to it: Again, a newer concept for me, but I’m really trying to manage my money better to start out on the right foot after I graduate.
  • Get at least a 75% in all my courses: My grades suffered a lot last year, and there was a huge disparity in my grades between classes. I’d like to make sure I’m putting the appropriate amount of work into ALL of my courses.
  • Get a 80% average overall: I just really want to get back onto the Dean’s Honour List. Losing that was a huge blow for someone who has been on the honour roll every year since kindergarten 😛
  • Run 5km in under 30min: I used to play soccer, so I could do this with no trouble. Now? Not so much.
  • Reach 1000 pageviews on Hope and Mascara: I’m incredibly excited to grow this blog!
  • Use my planner consistently: Because working on these goals, school, blogging, exercise, volunteering, clubs, and social commitments is a lot to remember!
  • Join 2 clubs that I actually enjoy and GO TO THE MEETINGS: In line with my motto above, I’m a firm believer that you’ll only go to club meetings if you actually enjoy the club. As such, I’m straying away from the pre-med, pre-law, pre-etc, investment club type things that I don’t really enjoy, and instead focusing on my hobbies.
  • Find a volunteer position: I’d really like to find a continuous volunteer position, rather than just events every so often, which are harder for me to schedule other commitments around.
  • Keep up with schoolwork: Again, something that really screwed me over last year, and I’d like to work on improving at.
  • Write at least 10 times on Hope and Mascara: Part of my action plan to grow this blog!

So those are my goals for now. I will update with progress later on in the semester!

What are your goals for the semester or year? Have you tried goal-setting before, and how has it worked out for you? Comment below!

With love,


Monday Makeup Haul—Neutrals and Cult Favourites!! :)

Hi all!

I’ve really been wanting to try out some new makeup products lately, especially some of the cult favourites. Soooo I finally treated myself to my first actual Sephora purchase ever (what?? Crazy, I know), and scooped up the Naked 2 Basics palette, Benefit They’re Real trial size mascara and the companion Push-Up Liner, both in black.

I also finally found the Real Techniques brush starter kit at Walmart! I’ve been searching for these for literally ever! 🙂

Additionally, I took a gander at Rexall because I read somewhere that they sell nyx products. I fell in love so hard with nyx when our local Target opened, but then Target pulled out of Canada and I panicked and hoarded as much nyx as I could during the closing sale but didn’t do proper research to know what faves I really should have picked up. So then I kept seeing “Top nyx products” pins on pinterest and felt so much FOMO. It was bad. Needless to say, I got really excited when I found the nyx aisle in Rexall. I bought the new dark circle concealer/corrector, the skinny black liner, and the jumbo lip pencil in Pecan, which is basically nude on me. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

ALSO The Body Shop went nuts and had one of their crazy sales again (woohoo!), so I was able to pick up their mineral powder foundation for $3. All they had were three tins of the one shade left. I took a gamble on it and GUESS WHAT KIDS, THAT’S MY SHADE. I basically died from sheer happiness.

Takeaway: I’m fairly easy to please.

Here’s a fun little instagram pic I arranged, because we all love those and I wanted to feel like one of those cool famous beauty bloggers:

Feelin’ fancy.

Anyway, down to the first impressions:

Real Techniques buffer brush: it’s super soft, even more so than my Sonia ones that I occasionally rave about to friends. The other brushes in the kit are the same in that sense. I often see these brushes in celebrity beauty bloggers’ instagrams or vlogs so I’m really looking forward to using these. I tried this with my Body Shop mineral powder foundation today and it looked almost airbrushed!! I’m super excited to try the rest of the brushes!

nyx Jumbo Lip Pencil in #719 Pecan: This lip pencil is so soft and buttery! I love the colour (it’s basically my nude lip colour to be honest). I love it with bold brows and minimal eye makeup. Very excited to use this in looks, coming soon 🙂

nyx Dark Circle Concealer/Correcter: This concealer is super orangey, which is supposed to cancel out the blue shadows under your eyes. I’ve tried it twice now and it’s done a bit for my ever-present hereditary dark circles, but it didn’t conceal them entirely. I think I might need a more yellow shade instead!

nyx Skinny Black Liner: This isn’t the most colour-intense liner I’ve seen, but it’s definitely smooth and easy to apply. I do like the skinny liner because it makes for a natural, barely-there, or buildable line. It’s perfect for tightlining. I’m looking forward to testing its staying power!

The Body Shop Mineral Powder Foundation: This isn’t really a first impression since I’ve been using this almost every day for about a year and a half, but hey: this is my absolute favourite sheer powder. It provides sheer, even coverage that smooths over blemishes. Combined with the Real Techniques brush, it looks almost airbrushed!! I love it!! The first time I bought it, it was on sale for $5, and I fell in love right away (I actually think this product might have been the kickstart to my love affair with the brand itself!). One tin has lasted me a year and a half now and I still have a bit left.

Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics eyeshadow palette: six soft, buttery, colour-rich, matte neutral shades? Count me in. I’ve been longing for this palette for a while!! I’m not as into the shimmer shades that come with the full size palette, and the price tag is a little large ($62 here!) so the basics with just the mattes for $34 was perfect for me. I love the colours and I’m very excited to try the looks I’ve been pinning for so long!

Benefit They’re Real trial-size mascara, black: The wand looks similar to the Flower by Drew Barrymore 3-in-1 mascara wand when it’s straight, which I love and use every day. Since buying this about a week ago, I’ve used it every day, and it’s honestly my new favourite! My lashes stay soft, curled, and not clumpy at all!

Benefit They’re Real Push-Up Liner, black: This was suchhhh an impulse buy (I honestly probably have like twelve different black liners already), but I did want to try it out. So far it seems smooth, intense, and it doesn’t seem to move around, which is definitely a plus!

All in all: I feel very good about this neutral-themed haul and can’t wait to show you some looks created with these products. Stay tuned!

With love,

Sonia Kashuk Brushes Review: My New Favourite!

Hi everyone!

So my sisters bought me this set of double-ended brushes from Sonia Kashuk for my birthday a while ago, and I’ve been recommending them to friends ever since. I figured it’s probably time I told the rest of the world too! 🙂

The set I have is called the Sonia Kashuk Double Duty Brush Set, which is currently retailing at $23.79 on the Target US website. They look like this (pic taken from the website as well):

The first brush has a blush end (top) and a stippling brush (bottom). The second one has a foundation end on top and a concealer end on the bottom. The third brush has an eyeshadow crease end at the top, and the bottom end is an eyeshadow blending brush. The fourth brush has an eyebrow comb on top and an angled liner brush on the bottom end. The set also includes a case.

I actually love these brushes. They are so soft! They apply everything so smoothly and they hold makeup fairly well so doing your makeup isn’t messy. I also just love the look of them—they look so classy and expensive to me!!

My favourites are definitely the stippling brush, concealer end, and angled liner brush. I use the stippling brush every day to apply my favourite mineral foundation (The Body Shop). While I was fairly happy before using my e.l.f. all-over face brush for this, the Sonia Kashuk brush just blends everything so flawlessly. You literally can’t even tell that I’m wearing makeup when I use the SK brush.

The concealer brush is another fave because it holds product so well. You only really need a tiny bit because the brush controls it really well. It makes it really easy to blend and pat concealer well for a flawless finish!

The angled liner brush is amazing for when you want a softer eyeliner look. I often get this brush a little damp (not wet!) and then stick it in some black eyeshadow and draw a line that way. It’s softer than pencil or liquid liner and significantly easier to blend, but you can get a really precise line using this brush too!

The only bad thing I have to say about them is that I don’t know how to store them properly. Because they are double ended, they don’t work with the rest of my brushes, which I store standing up in a glass jar on my dresser (so pretty!). I can’t do that with these because I don’t want to ruin the ends, so I just have them in a drawer, which sucks because they’re so classy looking and I’d love to showcase them on my dresser. 🙁

All in all, I love these brushes so so so much. They’re amazing for everything from application to precise lines to blending. They truly give a flawless finish and they will really upgrade your makeup game!

Also: shoutout to my sisters for their awesome find and introducing me to this brand! I love having sisters that love makeup as much as I do! <3

With love,

Tip: How to Find the Best Cheap Brushes!

Hi all,

Today’s tip focuses on brushes! Brushes are essential to proper makeup application, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune at Sephora (even though I wish I could!). It’s very possible—and quite easy—to find quality brushes for super low prices!

I do like my e.l.f. brushes. They’re fairly decent quality and ridiculously cheap. I can usually find some at the dollar store (I find that Dollarama always has them for $1-3), and they also have craft/paint brushes, which have always worked fairly well for me.

I freaking love Target because they carry a wide variety of e.l.f. products, which are so hard to find in Canada, and I’m sketchy about ordering online because I find that e.l.f. is so iffy…usually it’s awesome, but sometimes the pigment sucks or it’s broken, so I like being able to see the product before I buy it. Target is slightly more expensive than the dollar store (e.l.f. brushes are $4 each here), yes, but there’s a lot more variety for sure.

Forever21 can actually be quite good for makeup tools. I picked up a 5 pack of brushes a while ago for $4.80, and they’re pretty nice!! Mine are a lot stiffer than the ones I have from e.l.f. though, so I generally like to use the Forever21 ones for application and the e.l.f. ones for blending. Love love love it.

So to recap:
1. Dollar stores for craft brushes and potentially e.l.f. stuff
2. Target for e.l.f. brushes
3. Forever21, H&M, and the likes

Shoot me an email or comment below to tell us where you find cheap, good quality brushes!

With love,

DIY: How to Make Bioré Pore Strips More Effective

I love love love the idea of pore strips, and ripping all the gunk out from my nose. When I first bought a pack of Bioré pore strips, I eagerly followed the instructions on the package and kept touching my nose and feeling the strip harden. I was so so so excited. I waited the full fifteen minutes (which was not easy!), and then ran to the mirror to peel it off and…

I could see a total of maybe three blackheads on the strip, and another three billion still on my nose.

K. Thanks, Bioré.

I was not impressed.

As with all products, I tried to not form an opinion on a single use, so I tried again, and again, and again. I went through almost the entire package in a week. Still nothing. What the heck?

With one strip left in the package, I found myself on a Pinterest witchhunt for anything that could make these dang strips live up to their reputation…..and I found it. Woohoo!

As it turns out, a quick baking soda soak (called a disincrustant solution) before you use the pore strip loosens all the grossness from your pores, so the strip adhesive can grab it and stick better. I originally found this method on YouTube via MichelleReneeBeauty.

I’ll give you the SparkNotes though: get about half a cup of very warm water (in between warm and hot…be careful, don’t use water that is hot enough to burn you!) in a small bowl and add some baking soda. Keep adding baking soda until it just stops dissolving when you stir it. That’s usually about half a tablespoon for me. Stir until it’s as dissolved as possible, then stick a cotton round pad in the solution. Squeeze excess solution out of the pad so that it’s still wet but not dripping. Stick it on your nose and leave it there for ten minutes or so. Resoak the cotton pad if it dries out.

After the ten minutes are up, take the pad off of your nose. Wet your nose with some more of the solution, then use the pore strip as directed.

If your face is like mine, the pore strip will be like a little forest when you take it off…so gross, but so satisfying! Once, my boyfriend found me in my room with a pore strip on, and I begged him to let me try one on his nose (his was worse than mine! Gotta love teenage acne that doesn’t go away). Now he’s hooked too.

I have heard that steaming your face before using a pore strip works as well, but I have not tried it myself. Additionally, the slower you take the strip off, the better—if you take it off too quickly, the glue adhesive stuff can stick to your face, not the strip, so no blackheads come out. 🙁

As always, please be careful with any new procedure, and ask a professional first. Best of luck!

With love,

Welcome to Hope & Mascara!

Hi! I’m Holly, the creator of Hope & Mascara. This page is intended to provide helpful tips and tricks, tutorials, reviews, articles, and more about makeup, skincare, baking, and life in general. As a disclaimer, please note that all material is intended for informational purposes only; please consult a physician or other medical professional before trying anything new. 🙂
I’m obsessed with natural-looking makeup. I believe in enhancing the good stuff rather than just covering up with a mask. I also enjoy tutorials on the basics of makeup and the things that nobody tells you, as it were. Efficiency and DIYs are my passion, so I love mixing together facials and other fun stuff from things I already have in the pantry, as well as finding multi-purpose products and beauty shortcuts. You’ll see a lot of that coming very, very soon!
I’m also a chronic stress-baker, and I love the science behind baking! Over the past year or so I’ve really gotten into it and really learned the proper way to bake as well as some awesome baking hacks. Making cookies can be incredibly therapeutic. However, beauty & baking aren’t my only addictions—I’m a sucker for good books, amazing music, and home decor hacks, so I’ll likely throw a bit of that in as well. And get ready for a boatload of life chats, too, because I know what it’s like to feel lost or frustrated or sad, and I know what has helped me find my way thus far. Prepare yourselves for posts on topics such as how to stop procrastinating, how to find motivation, and how to organize everything.
So here we are. In terms of hair and beauty, I’ll be focusing mainly on easy, light, natural makeup tutorials, what products work best and worst, debunking beauty (and product!) myths, basic beauty how-tos that nobody ever told us, how to enhance products you probably already own, and DIYs I’ve picked up along the way.
I’m looking forward to hearing all of your thoughts, ideas, and opinions! Feel free to comment below or email me at I’m always looking for ideas or extra tips to share, so let me know if you have any post topic requests!
With love,