Orange crush

Brighter weather mens brighter colours. I'm never going to be a bright clothes kind of girl (*black/navy uniform all year*) but I love bright lipsticks & accessories for spring. My one big love apart from red lipstick has always been orange/coral lipsticks. My mum's best friend is tan with brown eyes & blonde hair - orange has always been her signature lipstick colour. I've found four orange lipsticks too suit all budgets & skin tones. I adore all of them!

This lipstick is a great foray into the world of orange lipsticks. This is a more pink toned coral and like all Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks, it's a great texture. It's really easy to wear - from work to a few drinks in the sun, Coachella Coral is a great colour for all skin tones. 

This is one of my all time favourite lipsticks and it's certainly not for the faint hearted. A true orange, this is my ultimate holiday lipstick. I love nothing more than a tan, a cocktail in my hand and this lippy. This is the perfect shade for darker skin tones. 

A recent discovery, Hype is an orange with red undertones. As this is a matte lipstick, I find it takes a few more coats to male the colour really strong but it means you can wear less during the day & build it up for night. I think this lipstick definitely needs a lipliner to help it last. However, this is a great & very flattering colour for all skin tones. 

Another new discovery, this red/orange shade is similar to Morange. A creamy texture, this formula is easy to apply and is great for paler skin tones for that English rose look. I can't wait to rock this all summer long.

Let me know your favourite summer shade over on Twitter: @GemmaLEBond

Love with hindsight

Friendship is the most amazing thing in the world. It's incredible to meet someone and develop such a bond with them. I have friends I've known for over 20 years and friends who I've met last year but, I love them all the same. 

I think friendship is much like a romantic relationship - sometimes you just have this amazing spark from outset and you know it's BFFs from here on in. Friendship is fantastic- find someone amazing & you will always feel loved, uplifted and supported. Friendship can be so intimate and heart-wrenching, to the point you feel the other's pain just by looking in their eyes. 

The side of friendship that no one talks about however is the loss. When you've been to such high heights of an amazing friendship, when things go pear shaped it's hard to figure out where things go to. Where does the love, the adoration, the laughs and most of all, the memories go to? This is something I've really struggled with over the past year. 

When a friendship has been so full of great times, when things turn sour there's no way to deal with it in a graceful manner. Believe me, I've tried. Unlike breaking up with a significant other, it feels completely different. In my experience, friendship breakups don't have the same bitterness as romantic ones - just sheer heartache. 

I've broken up with friends I never thought I would for senseless reasons and with hindsight, probably the friendship breakups could have been preventable if communication was better. 

Not every friend I've broken up with makes me feel like my heart has been torn out. I'm grateful for what I learned from some friendships. Some I just grew apart from and moved in a different direction and some, quite frankly I was glad to be rid of - that toxic kind that you never quite knew how to say goodbye to. 

The kind of friendship breakup I'm talking about in this post is the kind that still sometimes makes you sad. I genuinely would say I've had to grieve for friendships - loosing a piece of your life that was always there is no mean feat. Sometimes I see ex-friends on Facebook or hear through other friends about their life and I feel sad that I'm not part of that anymore. If you loved someone so deeply, I don't know if that ever goes away. It's that horrendous feeling of bumping into an ex-friend. I've done it - passed myself with lots of smiles & "my life is great" but you know the other person knows you are lying because they've seen the real you. The same encounters have usually ended in a tear stained car journey home. 

I don't think that love ever truly disappears. It's other worldly. But loving an ex-friend with hindsight is a big hurdle to get over. In the end, the breakup doesn't matter - if you still look at someone and wish them the best & want all the success in the world for them, then some love remains there. Even though the friendship might be long gone, it's a great feeling to know you were part of someone's journey and them of yours.

Holiday beauty prep

I love the ritual of getting ready for a holiday as much as I love an actual holiday. From beauty treatments to buying new summer pieces, I've been preparing for months for an upcoming week in sunny Dubai. Below is what I've been up to over the past few weeks in preparation! 

I have naturally dehydrated skin so my skin needs lots of love and moisture. I have been using the Bioderma Hydrabio Moisturising Concentrate to try and add some extra moisture before I head to the sun. I have also been using my favourite exfoliator, The Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion in order to boost glow and make sure my skin is in tip top condition! I also have used the brand new Charlotte Tilbury Dry Sheet Mask to add hydration. I'm going to buy another one & use it on the plane there - what a treat!

My hair is so dry at the minute - what can I say, my hair hates the cold! I am heading to get my colour and Olaplex treatment with Shannon at Paula McCourt Hairdressing before I go. Olaplex is perfect to help to smooth curly hair like mine - I need to return to my weekly Olaplex blowdries to make my hair grow again!

I tried nail free life and it wasn't for me. I talk with my hands so without nails I look ridiculous! My girls at The Dolly Rooms have been doing my nails for years & I can't wait to get my chrome nails for Dubai! 

I let my brows grow for a few months and had them tinted at threaded at the new Benito Brow Bar in Topshop Victoria Square. They did a fab job of them and the tint has lasted really well. The shape is really great & my threader made sure to keep them really thick but with a good shape which I love. I definitely will go back - it was really quick (their tint takes in 3 minutes!) and painless!. 

Hair removal 
I am a huge advocate of the amazing clinic Beyond Skin. The owners Jennie & Gillian are two amazing girl bosses who started their own business last year. I've been working with them since they opened for skincare treatments and since Christmas, we started laser hair removal. I have had 2 sessions so far on my bikini line and the hair is barely growing back! It's much faster than waxing & after 6 sessions I should hopefully be hair free for good! It's an absolute dream come true to not have to worry about waxing or shaving - I think I'm totally converted! Plus, bikini line laser only costs £55 per treatment and you have 6 weeks between treatments. I think there is a huge misconception about laser being expensive but I think that is so manageable (and cheaper than waxing every month for a whole year!). 

I always wear factor 50 on my face. Since I was a little girl I have always kept my face out of the sun - in fact, I have absolutely no sun damage on my face when I've been assessed under a UV lamp! I love the suncream brand Ultrasun. My bestie got my hooked on it a few years back. It's pricey but it gives you amazing protection whilst still allowing you to get a great tan. For my body I use UltraSun Sport Gel SPF 20 and I use UltraSun SPF 50 for face

Writing this post has made me even more excited for my holiday - make sure to follow me on Instagram @thatbelfastgirl to see what I get up to!

Words from a big girl

Picture by Photography by Astrid
I'm a self professed big girl. I'd be the first to call myself a 'big girl' - I'd rather get in there before someone else had a chance. I've always been bigger than my peers growing up. In primary school I was always much taller than everyone else and now at almost 5 foot 10, I tend to tower over many of my petite friends. 

Being a big girl has never bothered me. Along with physically being a big girl, I also have a big girl attitude. This is the greatest part of being Northern Irish in my eyes. A big girl attitude is a sense of 'I can do anything' and confidence that makes people think you're doing alright in life.

The fact of the matter is, I struggle with my weight and I struggle with my confidence. I feel at a crossroads in my life. Do I go flat out at the gym, eat really clean and get down to a size 10 because I think it will give me more confidence? In reality, I think my confidence crossroads has been spurned on by men who do or don't find me attractive. I've questioned so often lately do boys like a big girl? I really don't know. I've heard men, even male friends of mine, make some horrendous comments about women & their weight. This is especially rich when it comes from a man who isn't exactly Mr World himself. 

Why is our society obsessed with weight? I've been bigger all my life and I've never felt it was a problem until others pointed it out. My confidence has rocked more because of comments across a lunch table or passing remarks from men intended as a joke. Women's magazines at this time of year particularly drive me nutty with their features on getting 'your beach body for the summer'. How about a feature on feeling fabulous in the body you are in?

Whether I'm a size 8 or size 18, I think confidence is constant variable. I have been much thinner and much more miserable. Even at a size 10, I was still a big girl. There's no right or wrong answer but as women, we need to stop tearing strips off each other. I hate nothing more than a woman calling another woman fat. It breaks my heart. You might just look at someone at see their weight but they might be super confident & feel gorgeous. My mind has been so changed over the past number of years as I've started to meet friends who struggle to both put on & loose weight. There's people I look at and I think they have the perfect figure - and they are still miserable. 

There's no right or wrong size but there is a hugely wrong, destructive attitude that is making weight a bigger problem than it needs to be. My goal for 2017 is to be so happy AND healthy. Health and thinness aren't always on the same spectrum. This big girl is trying to change her attitude to believe I'm fabulous at whatever size - just like the version of me in the picture above who doesn't give two hoots. 

24 Hours in Glasgow with Stena Line

*This post was sponsored by Stena Line. All views are my own.

When Stena Line contacted me & asked would I like to do a whirlwind trip to Glasgow, I jumped at the chance. I had never been to Glasgow nor had I ever driven my car on to a boat! I was partnered with Glasgow based blogger Charlotte from Colours & Carousels - she came to Belfast for 24 hours and I went to her hometown! She gave me lots of recommendations of things to see & do when I was in the city.

Myself and my friend Jayne boarded the lunchtime sailing from Belfast to Cairyan. I am lucky as my house is only about 10 minutes away from the docks! I was a bit nervous about driving on to the boat but it was so simple & all of the Stena Line check in staff were so lovely. We boarded the boat and made our way to the luxurious Stena Plus lounge. This area is quieter than the main boat plus has free magazines, papers, drinks & snacks. They also have table service so you can relax on your journey with a delicious breakfast or lunch! We also had a Superfast Suite & access to the Nordic Spa on our journey. The Superfast Suites are a fantastic idea - they essentially a little hotel room on the water! I highly suggest trying one out especially if you are travelling with little ones or have a big forward journey on the other side. The spa is located next to the Superfast Suites - we managed to fit in a little dip in the jacuzzi followed by a mini snooze in our suite! The spa also offers treatments from manicures to back massages.

The drive from Cairyan to Glasgow takes just under two hours. I'm used to driving long distances so this was a pleasant drive - the first hour is nearly almost coast road (we had to stop on the way back to enjoy the view!). Once we arrived in Glasgow I was glad to have Jayne with me for navigation purposes! Glasgow is a big city with lots of cool buildings and history. The city is much more hilly than I imagined so be sure to pack your trainers! 

We stayed in a hotel at the bottom of the city that provided easy access to all areas of the city. On our arrival we got changed & headed out. It was a Friday night and much like our own good city, it was busy. Glasgow has a huge food culture- in fact when I asked for recommendations of things to do in the city, most of these were food themed! We headed to Pizza Punks for some prosecco & pizza - my chocolate pulled pork pizza was a delight, as was my Salted Caramel & Banana Pudding ice-cream! After dinner we took a little wander around the city & stumbled upon The Corinthian Club. This old bank (much like our own Merchant Hotel!) is now a beautiful restaurant, bar and casino. We enjoyed some cocktails and the atmosphere.

The next day we got up bright & early and headed to the much recommended Kelvingrove Museum & Art Gallery. I've never been to a museum like this before - the exhibits ranged from shoes to elephants and Salvador Dali artwork. I could have spent all day here - it's worth a visit just for the iconic floating heads!

After working up an appetite wandering around the museum, we headed to The Willow Team Rooms for afternoon tea. This Renee Macintosh inspired experience was a delight! Full of sugar & tea, we proceed to head for some shopping. The shopping in Glasgow is fantastic - in particular Princes Square (where I went a little bit wild in COS!) and the original House of Fraser which is in the most amazing building. 

Our whirlwind tour of Glasgow was short but sweet. My advice? Jump on the Stena with a group of friends and go for a long weekend. The food, nightlife and shops are fantastic - I only wish we had an extra night! 

For more information on travelling with Stena Line please visit: