4 Brushes You MUST Have

If there is one thing I am repeatedly asked about, it's makeup brushes. I constantly shout at my friends who put their makeup on with their hands. A huge part of a flawless face is your tools. I think a good brush can take your makeup from nice to WOW! If I was only left with 4 brushes in the world, I'd ask for these 4! 

MAC 263 (Angled Brush)
This brush is an essential for any brow obsessed girls. I've had this for about 5 years and it's still going strong. MAC brushes can seem pricey at the time but they are amazing quality and last for ages. Use this brush with powder to fill in your brows, apply gel eyeliner and to bring your eyeshadow under your eye. A real all rounder!

MAC 217 (Blending Brush)
I think the 217 is the first MAC brush I ever bought. I've had it a LONG time (and it still washes super white!). Use this to get the most out of your eye shadow. Use it to buff your cease, soften lines and create the most fabulous of eye looks. Many people also use the 217 as a great alternative for a concealer brush again making it as multi-purpose as the 263. 

Real Techniques Buffing Brush
The holy grail of foundation brushes! I have found that since I've started using this brush that a little product seems to go a very long way. Squirt a little foundation on the back on your hand and buff over your face using this brush for a flawless finish. Perfect!

Real Techniques Blush Brush
I have used this brush for everything possible- blush, highlighter, contour. It's the perfect size for all of the aforementioned. The slightly tapered edges allow for great contouring on the go.

G x

The "At Home" Mani

Over the past few weeks, I've been giving myself a little manicure every Monday. I have very long nail beds and I'm really lazy and never look after them. I suppose I realised I could have nice nails if I bothered my backside....! Make sure to check out my Instagram (@gemmalebond) for #MondayMani updates.

Here is my easy home manicure in 4 simple steps. 

This step is pretty logical- remove any existing polish that you may be wearing. I try to give my nails a 1 or 2 day a week polish break. It really does make a difference. I've been using the Cien Nail Polish Remover from Lidl (of all places!). It was about £2 and I love it because it comes in a little salon style pump so it lasts for AGES! This is the acetone version which smells of almonds and there is a non-acetone pink formula for all you gel and acrylic lovers. Fabulous bargain find! 

I've only recently started using the Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover. I put a small amount at the cuticle then go back with the orange stick and push down my cuticles and remove the remainder with a cotton pad. I feel like my nails have totally changed shape because of it. I then file my nails using a Young Nails 150 file. I like the 150 variety because they are very coarse. I like to keep my nails in quite a short, square shape which looks chic and stylish when painted. I also buff my nails but probably only about once a month as it can be damaging if done too frequently. Things such as the files and orange sticks can be purchased in bulk from beauty supple stores. 

I seriously think this is the reason my nail polish lasts longer. It's a tip that any good manicurist will give you. In order to get the longest out of your manicure you need to have a dehydrated nail so using another cotton pad, I swipe over a small drop of pure acetone (again available from beauty supply stores) to remove all oils from the nail. This will give you a perfect base for your polish. 

Finally, I use a base coat which can be just left on natural nails or as an under layer to coloured polish. I am currently using Miracle Growth by Sally Hansen which works really well and helps polish stick whilst also being nurturing to the nail. 

I will then either leave my nails or paint then, finishing with a helping of cuticle oil and hand cream. I am loving the Dove Indulgent Nourishment hand cream (pictured above) as it sinks in really quickly. I haven't included cuticle oil in my manicure routine as I actually keep it on my beside table and apply it every night with my face cream. I use Avoplex by OPI and it last for ages.

I hope this has been helpful and makes you get your nails in tip top shape!

G x

Tropic Sculpting Palette

I stated recently in a post that Kim Kardashian (the Queen of Contouring) is one of my all time beauty icons so when I was sent the Tropic Sculpting Palette to try, I was in my element. The palette contains 3 powders: a contour colour, a bronzer and a highlighter. The palette is lightweight and has a huge mirror for on the go. It also has a great description on the back of the box for anyone a bit unsure of what to do with the 3 different elements. 

I like the palette as it's a great thing to throw in your handbag to amp up a day look. The contour is a great colour as it's not too deep and has the right amount of "ashy" tone to blend it in. The real stand out in this palette is the highlighter. It's super pigmented and is so iridescent on the skin. I've been using it below my brow bone, on the tops of my cheeks, down my nose and above my cupid's bow. I would recommend this palette for women that have a "medium" skin tone as I feel the bronzer may be too dark on someone very fair. 

A look using the Tropics Palette!

A great thing about the whole Tropic range is that it's vegan, natural and cruelty free. I love this aspect of the product and as I get a bit older, these are definitely things I look for more in the products I purchase. I'm sure that this palette is going to feature in many an up-coming makeup look!

The Tropic Sculpting Palette is £24 and available from

G x

Learning to dress for my shape

I'm never going to be skinny. Even if I starved myself, it isn't going to happen. I'm 5ft10 and a size 14, or as my granny told me at a very young age "You're just big boned love, we all are". Sometimes I can get into a 12. Sometimes I'm a 16. It depends on he shop and the shape and fit of each item. I've never been super thin. In my early teenage years I used to be much fitter and used to enjoy dance classes and running until a 6 year long lasting injury put a stop to basically all exercise. After a surgery to fix this injury when I was 19, I realised that my body had completely changed. Maybe it was more of a mental thing than anything else, but I felt completely different and slightly at a loss of how to dress. The combination of strong medication and lack of exercise had made me put weight on in "problem" areas. Now I'm almost 2 years down the line and I can FINALLY see the weight coming off me. I am doing light exercise and feeling much better. I've always ate the same food and really regard myself as an "all in moderation" type of person. One of my very petite friends always laughs as I eat less than her yet she is half my size. Go figure? Metabolisms are a pain.

However, in the past few months I've felt a physical and mental change in myself and I feel like I've started dressing more appropriately for my body type. I've never gone out in booty shorts but at the same time, what I've been wearing hasn't helped matters.  My shape is somewhere between a pear and an hourglass. I don't think it's made it's mind up yet. I have big boobs, a smaller waist, a tummy, hips and a backside to rival any one of the Kardashian family. I hope that in time with exercise and hard work that I can turn into the perfect hourglass figure but for now, I've just got to be happy with what I've got.

I realised that for many years I had been hiding behind my clothes and to an extent, probably still do. However, I've stopped buying clothes that are too big for me. I had a real habit of buying "oversized" things which just made me look like a big rectangle. I have long legs but I also have a long torso so I have learned that high waisted things can work to my advantage. I recently bought jeans which are high waisted but without pockets so they do not draw attention the tummy area. I have recently discovered the world of draped fabrics. I have always admired Vivienne Westwood clothes which involve a lot of draped fabrics and have fans such as Nigella Lawson and Helena Bonham Carter. I can now see why they are fans of the shapes- the draped nature skims across the bust and flatters women with boobs but with a slight tummy (see the 1st and last pictures above!). I've learned to work with hiding the areas I don't feel comfortable with (boobs) and work with the area I feel most comfortable with (legs). The middle picture above, is a dress from the Kardashian Kollection which I have had for a while and I've teamed it with a blazer from Dunnes and Primark shoes. I feel like it cuts me off a good point and makes my legs look longer! Another leg "tip" has been fake tan! I haven't been tanning the top of my body but just tanning my legs! I'm sure this is about to change as the winter is coming.

For the winter, I think I'll be living in leggings, riding boots and draped tops. I'm trying to buy less clothes and instead, buy more, good quality/flattering clothes. I feel like this is a complete new learning process with clothes for me but I hope that you'll come on this little journey with me!

G x

Culture Tech Derry/Londonderry

I spent a lovely, sunny Saturday in 2013's City of Culture, Derry/Londonderry. For the past week "Culture Tech" has been running and we were lucky enough to attend some of the events while were in the city. Myself, Laurina from One Year of Fashion Fasting and Caroline from The Red Dutchess had so much fun looking around. Caroline is a Derry gal so she knew where to take us! This was my 2nd time in Londonderry and I really love it. I feel like I would love to come up for a weekend and stay over to explore more. I traveled on the Trankslink service from Mossley West to Londonderry which takes a very relaxing 2 hours. The views are just beautiful and I would recommend everyone visit the City just for the journey alone!

We were also kindly given vouchers for Foyleside to get outfits with. I received £100 and was able to get a jumpsuit from Topshop, jumper from H&M, sunglasses from H&M, heels & shoes from H&M. The jumpsuit is backless so the heels make it dressy for night and the boots make it more casual for day. Unfortunately, I had a bit of a sore back so the high shoes were left at home for the day in favour of my new Nike Blazers. 

Watch: Fossil
Bag: Zara

We had a beautiful lunch in The Exchange. We sat in "The Library" which was lovely as we had it to ourselves! Highly recommend it for food. We also nipped into Primrose Cafe later in the day for some refreshments. We sat in the "secret garden" which was very cute.

I had a great day and Culture Tech seemed like such a great event... we saw lots of very enthusiastic boys playing video games!

Thanks to Nikki for arranging it for us, Translink for the transport and Foyleside for my lovely new clothes!

Below are some pictures and my very first vlog. Enjoy! 

Culture Tech class on how to use your mobile phone camera effectively
Laurina's amazing photo, taken with her iPhone
Beautiful Caroline
Lovely Laurina
What a blogger shot!
The Library in The Exchange 

Laurina bought her sister a Niall from 1D cut out- he was our mascot for the day!
Loved this French vintage shop. Some great pieces

Great wall art

Yummy snack in Primrose Cafe
Peace Bridge

Grass covered house!

G x

Bloggers Fashion Challenge with Foyleside Shopping Centre for Culture Tech #1

I love being set a challenge. I'm super competitive. When I was contacted about taking part in a little fashion challenge in Foyleside Shopping Centre in the fantastic City of Cultre 2013, Derry/Londonderry to pick an outfit for Culture Tech week I was thrilled. What is Culture Tech I hear you ask? It's an festival of digital technology, media, music and art featuring over 150 events, 100+ speakers and over 100+ acts taking place in the City of Culture from the 9th-15th September. Make sure to check out for events! 

I'm Folyside rich!

Myself and my two fashion challengers, Laurina from One Year of Fashion Fasting and Caroline from The Red Dutchess will be attending events in the city of the 14th September and were asked by Foyleside Shopping Centre to pick something fabulous to wear for the day... but with one catch. One of us would get £50, one of us would get £100 and one of us would get £150. I'll not reveal what the other girls got but I managed to pick the £100 voucher which meant I was suitably sorted! I traveled up to Londonderry for the first time ever on the Translink train service from Mossley West to the City last week to pick my outfit. I even brought my Mum and Grandma who have also never experienced Derry/Londonderry. Foyleside Shopping Centre has amazing shops including a Topshop, H&M (fabulously organised), River Island, Next, Dorothy Perkins, Debenhams, Dunnes Stores....the list goes on!  I managed to pick my outfit in about an hour!

Orange, black... black & orange. PROBLEMS! 
But typical me... I managed to make 2 looks for the price of one.... a day outfit which transforms for night! I will reveal my full outfit after my day at Culture Tech but above are some of the things I tried on while in Foyleside Shopping Centre. Try and guess what I picked (orange and black are clearly my signature colours, along with posing like a tea-pot!). 

Stay tuned for part 2 and my return to the City of Culture!

G x

House of Fraser Belfast A/W Press Day

I love autumn/winter clothes more than anything. I love layering, glitter, boots.. it must be engrained in me as I'm used to the rainy days in Belfast! I was delighted to attend to the press morning in one of my favourite department stores, House of Fraser in Victoria Square Belfast. The press day took place in The Ivory which is the restaurant of the House of Fraser. This season sees a return to strong berry colours, lots of embellishment with the classic furs and chunky knits also being key pieces. I am a really big fan of the Mary Portas range as it caters amazingly for tall women. I also was really excited by the new range from Day Birger et Mikkelsen which incorporates classic shapes with fabulous textures and graphic prints. There were LOTS of new accessories. I took a particular liking to a Longchamp bag and spotted an amazing Ralph Lauren bag that I think will be on my Santa list!

Make sure to look out for all the new releases- some are already in store, and some will roll out over the next six weeks.

Below are some of my favourite pieces. So many clothes, so little time!

Beautiful autumn flowers by The Flower Room
Dickins and Jones
Dickins and Jones
Mary Portas
Mary Portas
Mary Portas
Mary Portas
Linea. I absolutely loved this- so Mary Berry! 

Amazing LK Bennett wellies! Can imagine these on Kate Middleton!

LK Bennett 

Versatile Therapy jacket
Adored this laser cut Lashes dress. Really cool brand.
Beautiful detailing
Loved this little Longchamp! 

Gorgeous Pied a Terre dress. Reminded me of the Givenchy dress Beyonce wore to the Met Gala
Day Birger et Mikkelsen
Serious bling love for Folli Follie

We then had a lovely breakfast and a good girly gossip! It's great to hang out with fellow blogger friends. Thanks to Avril's hubby Brian for taking pictures of us.

With Avril from School Gate Style
With Avril and Bex from Faeriwood 

Thanks to Mark and the whole House of Fraser team for a great morning.

G x