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How to summer proof your makeup


Every year around this time I get multiple emails from blog readers asking the same thing - how do I keep my makeup sliding off my face? The weather has started to get a little warmer and often the days seem clammy rather than warm. It's hard to keep a full face on all day at work, never mind if you are off partying in Ibiza! I have three top products I've been using for long-lasting makeup that you can rock all summer long. 

I've tried loads of makeup sprays over the years but Smashbox remains my favourite. Silicone, alcohol and oil free, I love to spritz this both before and after makeup application to set my makeup. It feels so light-weight and doesn't create a film on your face like some other sprays. I highly recommend this for warm holidays - it refreshes your makeup like nothing else! 

Laura Geller is a fantastic brand (those highlighters!) and I'm delighted that it's now available in Debenhams Belfast. The brand is well known for their Spackle range of primers - ranging from hydrating to neutralising. This variation is the mattifying version and is perfect for any of my oily readers. I tried this out on a warm day and my T-Zone remained oil free. Use this under your regular makeup for extra lasting power as well as a lovely smooth base for an airbrushed finish. 

I didn't powder my face for years. Apart from the odd night of heaving partying, I never felt the need. However, as I've gotten older I feel like my T-Zone needs a little bit more help. I searched for a powder that would be easy to apply and feel light - I didn't want it to add cake to my face. This powder is a huge industry favourite and I can understand why. It's so finally milled that you can barely feel it on your face. I adore using this powder and it was the definite reason my makeup didn't budge in the dry heat of Dubai. A little goes a long way with this product making it a very wise investment. 

*PR Sample. All views my own.

21st century burger



*Many thanks to McDonald's for sponsoring this post


McDonald's was a huge part of my childhood. Every Saturday, I went into Belfast with my grandparents and most weeks, my moaning for a Happy Meal & whatever toy was inside usually landed us in the Donegal Place store. It was cheeseburger Happy Meal for me & 2 x Fillet O Fish for granny and granda. 

As an adult, I still adore a McDonald's. There's something so comforting to know that for the past 20 years, their products are still the same. What isn't the same however, is how their stores look and operate. McDonald's kindly invited me down to the Sprucefield Centre branch to experience their new look store. Not only does the store look fabulous but they've stepped up their game in terms of technology! 

I learned 4 main things (and also lots of little surprising things!) during my hour behind the scenes at McDonald's:

It's a big operation
The Sprucefield Centre McDonald's is the busiest franchised drive-thru in the UK! Over 1000 cars visit every day and they have over 120 members of staff. I never realised this because the kitchen is segmented for all of the different operations (drive-thru, drinks & desserts, cooking etc) so you often don't see all of the team behind the scenes!

Team work is everything
It takes a production line to make a burger. I was so impressed at the accuracy and speed at which the team carefully create everything from a Big Mac to a McChicken sandwich. It's a carefully constructed operation and the kitchen is incredible. Everything has a place & things turn around so quickly! Full time McDonald's staff take 8 months to train & they learn all parts of the business making them fully equipped to make a delicious burger or to deliver excellent customer service at the drive-thru window. 

They are forward thinking
McDonald's Sprucefield is one of the many new Experience of the Future stores. This means you can step into the store, order your food easily on a screen (a bit like a giant iPad), pay with your contactless card and take a seat - YES THEY HAVE TABLE SERVICE! This begged the question about staffing - did it reduce staff numbers? In fact, quite the opposite. Becoming a Experience of the Future store actually requires more staff both on the floor to ensure customer satisfaction & in the kitchen to cook everything from fresh. 

The possibilities are endless
With the new screens in store, it's even easier to customise your order. The screens also help you to track the calories in your food as well as explore many more new options - who knew they did Toffee Lattes or Fish Finger Happy Meals? 

It was truly an eye-opener to make my own burger & really appreciate something that seems often so instant! Many thanks to Rita & the team at McDonald's Sprucefield for a fun experience! 

Why Galgorm is my special place







I am partied out. We just spent a fortnight celebrating my mum turning 50. It was a long awaited day and I feel so lucky to have my mum turn this age as I've started to see friend's loose their parents before they were ready to go.

To celebrate her birthday (and also to relax post all the party craziness), we decided to visit Galgorm Resort & Spa. I've been many times before but I feel like every time I go, I discover something new.  It's my special place for making me feel calmer! On arrival, we were whisked into their beautiful conservatory that overlooks the river. We visited on a Sunday afternoon & it was perfect weather.

I had heard good reports about the afternoon tea which comes in a variety of different options with a champagne afternoon tea  and an amazing gin afternoon tea that I definitely will be returning to try out! The Galgorm afternoon tea is unique in that it comes in two courses. Firstly a slab appears with all your savouries - from a delicious gammon wrap to a baby soup! It was the perfect amount of food and I really enjoyed it as afternoon teas can be overwhelmingly sweet so this was much welcomed! The cake stand of sweet treats arrived and they were stunning. From warm banana bred & scones to a coconut & rosewater macaron, it was all divine. I had an amazing mint & lemon tea whilst mum opted for coffee. She's a coffee snob yet managed to clear two pots of their tasty blend! I'd say this is the best afternoon tea I've had in Northern Ireland. It's great value for money and it's a really beautiful treat. I want to take my friends & my wee grandma back soon!

After our afternoon tea, we retreated to the spa. I've blogged about the spa many times but on this occasion I was trying a brand new treatment. Galgorm are the first spa in Ireland to offer the amazing Quartz Bed treatment. This amazing modern take on hot sand therapy allows you to be enveloped in heated quartz (over a blanket - don't worry, you don't get all sandy!) and massaged head to toe for ultimate relaxation. I have a really bad back and it loved the heat of this treatment. It also helps to improve circulation, lymphatic system and immune system. It's unlike any other treatment I've ever had done and I felt completely rebalanced afterwards. If like me, you have joint or back problems or if like me, you find it hard to relax, this treatment is really worth a try. 

On the other hand, my mum had her first ever facial. My treatment lasted 90 minutes (I recommend getting it for that alone - probably the longest I have been conscious & quiet!) so I found my mum afterwards hiding (actually snoring!) in the relaxation room. She never tried a spa or a treatment before and honestly never understood the joy I got from them. After she had her facial, she's converted! She absolutely loved it and wants to go back with all of her friends. Plus, her skin looked fab afterwards. 

Overall, we are two rested girls after a very busy month. Thanks to the Galgorm team for looking after us so well. 

*Our afternoon tea and treatments were provided to us by the team at the Galgorm FOC however all opinions are my own. 

The truth about laser hair removal



I've been shaving since I was 11 years old. Seriously - that's 14 years of shaving, shaving products, nicks, cuts and ingrown hairs (the worst!). In that time I've tried waxing and hair removal creams - both with varied success. Although my hair is almost black on my head, the hair on the rest of my body is thankfully not as dark or thick! However, like most women, it's something I have felt self conscious about over the years.

My friends at Beyond Skin Clinic, located on College Street (close to City Hall), had spoken to me about hair removal for ages as I popped in and out for skin treatments. I think my perception of laser like many women was really bad. I had read horror stories and the cost always seemed so high. However, Beyond Skin Clinic dispelled all of this for me. Jennie & Gillian who own Beyond Skin told me to get my patch test done & go for it at my next skin appointment. We talked about where to laser & they said my bikini line would only take 15 minutes - again dispelling the myth I had in my head that I'd be there for hours! I had my patch test done and 6 weeks later returned for my first session. 

Is it sore?
If you are used to waxing your bikini, laser probably won't bother you. The laser is sorer where the hair is much more dense meaning there are little patches that pinch more than others. Overall though, it's only 15 minutes! I have had Hollywood waxes that have taken over 3 times that length! I also feel it's much more 'graceful' than waxing - paper pants but no weird bending or knee to chest positions required!

Is it expensive?
No! This is the thing that shocked me the most. The Beyond Skin girls have an amazing laser that works on lots of different hair & skin types which costs a bomb in other laser clinics. Bikini starts at £55 per session (increases depending how much you want off) and you only go once every 6 weeks making it so affordable. I used to pay around £30 a month for a Hollywood wax so this works out as cost effective. Beyond Skin recommend 6 sessions for the hair to be completely gone making laser a worthwhile investment that will last. I'm three sessions into my 6 & I have to say that the hair is already gone! They do a fabulous deal for £1999 for unlimited laser for a year - if you are really serious and want to be head to toe hair free, I think that's a great deal. One of my friends is doing this at the moment & she is so impressed. She had paid the same amount to just get her legs done somewhere else plus, the hair came back! 

Laser vs waxing? 
I am so glad Jennie & Gillian encouraged me to get laser - it was fab going on holiday recently & not having to panic about 'down there' in my bikini! However, the biggest thing for me has been not having ingrown hairs. I seemed to be getting them more & more frequently with shaving & waxing. I haven't had one since I had my laser. I'm definitely a convert & want to do under my arms next!

Fancy being hair free for your summer holidays? Book in with the girls at Beyond Skin. You won't be disappointed!

*My laser treatments were provided for free at Beyond Skin but all opinions are my own. 

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