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That Belfast Girl Graduates.... AGAIN!

 
This week marked the end of what has been a very long year. I have referred to my post graduate studies in the odd post and on Thursday night, we had our ceremony. I spent another year at Queen's University doing my Post Graduate Certificate in Education so essentially for the past year I have been teaching the children of Belfast! I obviously didn't want to write this on my blog for safety reasons but now it is over, I'm happy to share. I always wanted to be a teacher- it was always my childhood ambition. I feel like my PGCE taught me so much about myself and I now value my own life as well as the amazing education I received so much more. Teaching is not an easy job but I wouldn't change the past year for anything. I'm now going on to do a Master's in a different field but I'm really excited for yet another challenge! I know I will be in my 60s and still taking college courses- I love to learn!

I thought I'd share my outfit from my graduation. We didn't wear gowns as it is not a full degree so instead a chose a simple but chic outfit. My jumpsuit was £5 in the TK Maxx sale. It is by the brand Amphora which seems to do many great basic pieces. I have been loving TK Maxx after many years of learning how to actually look for the bargains! My blazer was £23 in the Marks and Spencer sale. It's an off white colour and I know I'll get lots of wear out of it- the collarless shape looks much better on me as I am a bit busty. My bag is my favourite little one from H&M and my shoes are from Heaton's. I did quite glam makeup using Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation, Michael Kors Bronzer in Flush, Ardell Demi-Wispie lashes, the Comfort Zone palette from Wet n Wild on my eyes and a soon to be released NYC Lip Lacquer in 300 Madison Square Mauve mixed with a little bit of Asia Lipstick by Rimmel. (they are released on the 14th Sept- full post coming soon on how fab they are!).

I hope you all had an amazing week and great weekend. 

I'm famous but nobody knows it!

Photos at Carrickfergus Marnia
I saw this t-shirt in Zara and had to buy it. I had an crazy week last week- one of the days consisted of my grandmother introducing me to someone new with my blog name which made me laugh! I love wearing all white but I need to make sure I don't spill my food! My jeans are 1969 straight jeans from Gap. I picked them up in the sale ages ago. They are a strange length but I just roll them up to make them even more relaxed fit. My sandals were a gift from Boden. They are pony skin and I've been wearing them constantly. Finally, my bag is a good old faithful (and very Chanel inspired) from H&M.

But yes, the main purpose of this post.... I cut my hair off! I have been thinking about it for some time. My mission for this year was to grow it and I was doing really well. However, I really didn't like the shape. If my hair is going to be long I want no layers. So my hair has been chopped off inspired by stylish Kylie Jenner. I was invited to the newly refurbished Jason Shankey salon on the Lisburn Road which now does both men's and women's hairdressing. The salon has a real urban feel to it which is appealing to both sexes. Caroline was my stylist and she couldn't have been nicer. She was so chatty, friendly and really interested in what I wanted to achieve with my hair. She even Googled Kylie Jenner on her tablet to get a feel for the blunt edge I wanted! My hair was cut up to the shortest layer meaning my hair is now all one length and healthy. I had previously coloured my own hair with a dark brown as I wanted to go back to being almost black. Caroline also did a lovely Joico conditioning treatment on my hair which left it smooth and shiny. I was so impressed with the care Caroline took- I always think it can be a real challenge to find a hairdresser that is good at cutting thick hair. She talked me through every step and gave me lots of hair blowdrying tips which I will pass on to you all in a post soon! The Lisburn Road has late night openings on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday which is great for all those busy mum's out there! Thank you so much to Caroline and Brenda for a lovely experience. 

If you want to book in at the new look salon, telephone: 90 681291. I highly recommend it!

The best of blush


I am a  recent blusher convert. I have to admit that bronzer is my one true love but on my super tired days, blusher makes me look awake and put together. Today I've picked four of my favourite blushes which range from super cheap to "Christmas list" expensive. All have a great colour and formula- let me know below or by tweeting me @GemmaLEBond, what your favourite blusher is.

Ok so this one might be slightly cheating. This is a hybrid bronzer/blusher powder but I like it best used on my cheeks. With a small brush I use this as a contonour which looks amazing and subtle with my skin tone. The packaging of the Michael Kors cosmetics is utterly stunning. I use this everyday for the mirror alone!

Initially when I first tried this product, I really wasn't sure about it. But as time has gone on, I've really incorporated it into my routine. Fine One One is a cream stick formula which offers a blush, highlight and contour shade. This is the ideal pick for girls who love simple, quick makeup. I find this looks amazing with a light BB cream and lots of mascara for the perfect "no makeup' look.

Wet n Wild Heather Silk
I have so much love for lots of the Wet n Wild range (particularly the eye shadows!) and I have been using this blusher recently. The Heather Silk shade is very vibrant and would be great for anyone with a dark skin tone. The powder texture is very smooth and it applies easily. 

Another bargain product which is a great drugstore alternative to the Benefit Fine One One s the NYC BB Creme Blush. This is a great 'girl on the go' product as you simply swipe it on your cheeks, blend with your fingers and go. And the best bit? It's only £2.99!

If you have any blusher recommendations for me, leave a comment below or tweet me @GemmaLEBond.

The perfect eyeliners for girls who aren't good at liner!



In my teenage years, I wanted to be Amy Winehouse. She was my absolute idol. I had the jet black hair and thought that loads of eyeliner would help me look more like her! I have very almond shaped eyes meaning that eyeliner has to be drawn on in a very specific way otherwise my eyes can look very small. Over the past few months, I've been loving lots of mascara and a thin line of liner along the top lashes to enhance how thick my lashes are.

I'm always in a rush and I'm also not very good at eye-liner. I've found two liners which have really helped me recently in achieving my perfect big eyed look. Firstly, the Eyeko's Skinny Liquid Eyeliner in Black is easily the best felt tip on the market. The product distributes evenly, dries quickly and gives a nice thin line. This would be my top pick for anyone who likes to wear eyeliner to enhance their eyes rather than to do a feline flick.

If the 60s eye is what you are after, Maybelline's Black Shock eyeliner is perfect for you. This was released BEFORE the Benefit Bad Gal Eyeliner and has exactly the same concept- but at half the price point. It's a gel formal in a wind up pen with a silicone nib. The liner itself is very jet black in colour but it takes a few goes to get it right. A little bit of product goes a long way! The effect is a super clean intense liner look- perfect to team with a smoky eye.

Let me know what your favourite liners are below or by tweeting me @GemmaLEBond. 

My new favourite BB cream


It's rare that I love something on the first use but I am utterly in love with Bioderma Sensibio AR BB Cream*. I had heard it raved about from celebrity makeup artist Lisa Eldridge. My skin has really improved and I'm currently in a routine of working slowly but surely on my acne scars. Daily, I much prefer to wear a BB cream with concealer as I feel like they don't clog my pores like many foundations do. I have always loved the Dr. Jart Water Fuse BB Cream but the Bioderma BB Cream far exceeds the formula of Dr. Jart. The Bioderma BB Cream is very thick- almost like a night cream. I have the colour "Light". I am about a MAC NW20 so I wouldn't describe myself as exactly pale and this BB is the perfect colour for me. It has medium coverage and it's easily blended in with your fingers. It also has a SPF of 30 meaning it's perfect for daily skin protection. The cream is designed to be anti-redness and although I don't have rosaca, the formula perfectly covers any of my inflamed bits of skin. 

This combined with Maybelline Eraser Concealer gave this effect which seemed to be a big hit on Instagram!  

I can see me repurchasing this for years to come and at under £15, it won't break the bank.

*PR Sample

Glove Your Body- the newest tanning mitt on the block


Oh I do love getting post. It's the one aspect of blogging that will never tire me. I was sent a "Glove Your Body" tanning mitt from the lovely people at Gordon's Chemists last week. They've recently started stocking the mitt which currently retails for £14.99. Apparently it was a big hit with the girls at Gordon's Chemist so they wanted to find out my opinion. 

The mitt almost looks like a really fancy oven glove which I approve of because normal tanning mitts are a bit unsightly! The glove is made of a light furry fabric which covers both sides of the mitt. The inside is fully lined and it also has holes which you can put your fingers into. My only complaint is that I wish the mitt came down a little bit further on my arm but that just may be a problem of me being 5ft10! The mitt also comes in a little reusable plastic case which would be great for storing it or using it when abroad. The mitt can also be easily thrown into the washing machine and I'm happy to say it didn't turn green after leaving tan on it!

I tried out the mitt over the weekend using my Vita Liberata Extra Rich Lotion in Medium. I do have a preference for lotion tans as I have dry skin which makes mouse tans look patchy on me. I usually use a mitt from any pharmacy- the standard foamy kind! I did my tan prior to going to bed. I put a few squirts of tan on the mitt and I was able to do my whole body in about 5 minutes! As the mitt is made from very thick fabric, the tan sits on top of it rather than sinking in. The tan almost buffs into your skin rather than being dragged around the skin as so many mitts frequently do. I woke up with a really even tan which looked very natural. 

I would highly recommend this mitt to any girl who is tanning obsessed- it makes your life so much easier! It would be a great gift for the girl who thinks she has everything. I know I'll be dishing these out to my girls come Christmas time! 

Hair Update #2


It's growing. It's actually growing! My hair challenge for 2014 to have my dram long locks by Christmas is going well. This is the longest time I've gone without having a major change to my hair- no mad colour changes or big chops. Instead, I've been maintaining my hair in the best possible health with a hair trim every other colour. I have been getting my hair colour topped up every 6 weeks and at my most recent colour, had a colour gloss which has left my hair looking shiny and healthy. A colour gloss can be added to any service at Peter Mark for £15. They are also supposed to be great for patching in the greys as a temporary fix between colours. I may try this at the 4 week mark next time to prolong the permanent colour process. 

I've been loving Joico's K-PAK Colour Therapy Restorative Styling Oil* which I have been using before blow-drying and to tame any of my fly-away hairs post blow-dry. I have returned to using  my  Bumble and Bumble Curl Conscious Shampoo and Conditioner* as my Alpaparf Lisse Design Keratin Maintenance Shampoo and Conditioner ran out. I had my Lisse Design treatment 7 weeks ago. My hair is still more manageable and smooth but I can see in my underneath layers where it is starting to grow out. I've been really impressed with it and I would definitely get the treatment again. It has been great for the warmer weather which often makes my curly hair a nightmare. 

Here is hoping I will update you in another two months with some significant growth. My hair is growing about an inch a month so by Christmas, hopefully I will look like a mermaid!!

*PR Sample

How I hide my greys


Don't dare read this post and think "What greys!? You're young!". I have been unlucky enough to be going grey since I was about 14. My natural hair is almost jet black so not only is it a huge annoyance, it also is hugely noticeable! I have to get my hair colour touched up every 4-6 weeks which is both a pain and hugely expensive. I am so proud of my hair and how much it has grown in the past year but at the 3-4 week mark, my silver glitter starts to grow. My hairdresser estimated that I am 20% grey (*sob*) and this tends to show in my parting rather than around my hair line. Apart from wearing my hair up when I need a visit to the hairdressers, I have found that Bumble & Bumble Black Hair Powder has been a miracle. When I want to wear my hair down but the greys are all I can look at, I spray a light layer of this on my parting. This powder is hugely pigmented so be careful where you spray it! I like to seal it in with a layer of hairspray so I'm not left with black fingernails if I forget and touch my hair! 

Overall, this is the best thing I have found to cover my greys. Let me know how you like to cover your greys in the comments below or on Twitter @GemmaLEBond. 

Skincare: The Basics


I am so obsessive about looking after my skin. I want to make sure that when I'm old that I can't blame my wrinkles on not looking after myself! These have been the products which I have been using on a daily basis to try to keep my skin in tip-top condition. I have sensitive, combination skin and I have found these products have not brought me out in a rash or spots. I use this routine everyday (apart from the serum which I only use at bedtime) and I've seen my skin stay in good condition.

Remove
If you use wipes, bin them!! Removing your makeup with a micellar water on a cotton pad is the easiest method of removal. I love the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water. It's cheap, removes all my makeup and doesn't leave my skin feeling tight. To take off my eye makeup, the only remover I like is the Nivea Daily Essentials Eye Makeup Remover. This is constantly on offer for about £2. It is a bi-phase remover akin to Clairns famous remover allowing it to remove even the toughest of waterproof mascara. Give it a good shake, put it on cotton pads and remove. This remover does not make my eyes sting nor does it require pulling to take my mascara off. On the subject of cotton pads- I love the round cottons from Lidl! They are so soft and cheap- which is important at the rate I go through them! 


Cleanse
I have tried many cleansers over the past number of months. Along with them I've also tried many toners. I have discovered two things- gel cleansers make my skin feel tight and toners make my skin feel dry. Maybe it's just my sensitive skin but I cannot tolerate toners. I've tried so many variants but they have really irritated my skin. I have opted to just cleanse on a daily basis and use a treatment every few days to exfoliate rather than daily acid tone- it's too much for my skin! The cleanser I have been loving is the Yon-Ka Lait Nettoyant Cleansing Milk*. After my beautiful Yon-Ka facial experience, I was really impressed by the products. The milk smells amazing as well as feels beautiful. I simply wash my face with a damp facecloth, apply a small amount of the milk all over my face and eyes (another great aspect!) and the product turns white and thick. I then remove this with my face-cloth. At night my face-cloth goes in the wash basket as it has a full days of grime on it!! I usually pick up big stacks of white facecloths in Primark or Asda for next to nothing. My skin feels so clean and smooth since using the Yon-Ka milk- it's pricey but I will definitely repurchase! 


Moisturise
Following my cleanse in the morning, I apply my moisturiser and lip balm. I have been using the A-Derma Cream for Damaged and Sensitive Skin. This comes out in a very serum like texture and reminds me a lot of a thinner Embryolisse. This also looks great under my makeup. I also apply lip balm- my favourite is Blistex MedPlus which I actually picked up in Poundland! It has a menthol scent and I feel like it plumps my lips, as well as moisturising them.


The night-time serum
Before applying my moisturiser and lip balm at night, I apply Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate*. The serum contains lots of natural ingredients and my skin just seems to drink it up! The pipette allows you to apply what is required. I roughly use one pipette on my face and neck. My bottle is about half full and I've been doing this for about 2 months so it feels like good value for money. My skin looks brighter and more even in the morning. I would suffer from the odd dry patch on my cheeks and find this has really helped.

Let me know what your skincare basics are and your skin type. I'd love to hear from fellow sensitive skin readers!

*PR Sample

TOO FACED BONJOUR BRONZING PALETTE


I need bronzer. I'm Irish and pale. I've recently fallen deeply in love with the Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer so when the stunning Bonjour Soleil Limited Edition Palette* landed on my doorstep, I was over-joyed. If like me you love bronzer, this bronzer wardrobe is ideal for you. With three shades of Too Faced product to try, you are spoilt for choice. The aforementioned Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer makes a great all over bronzer and suits a variety of skin tones. The matte finish allows you to look bronzed rather than a glitter ball. The middle Sunny Bronzer shade provides a subtle shimmer which looks stunning on cheeks, d├ęcolletage and legs. The third variant in the palette comes in the form of the Snow Bunny Luminous Bronzer. This makes a stunning highlighter which is akin to a shimming MAC Skinfinish. The little brush which comes with the kit is super soft and very handy. The palette also has a mirror in the lid meaning that this is perfect for all of those weekends and holidays away. 

However, be quick! It's limited edition. Grab it while you can!

*PR Sample

Katy Perry Royal Revolution


The first scent I ever bought with my own money was Glow by J-Lo. I'm sure a lot of girls of my age will have fond memories of their favourite celebrity fragrance as a teenager. Katy Perry has launched into the fragrance world and her 3rd scent, Royal Revolution, is a lovely departure from the overly sweet teenager targeted fragrances from yester year. 

Firstly, the bottle of Royal Revolution is stunning. Somewhat akin to  my favourite Flowerbomb by Viktor and Rolf, the diamond shaped bottle looks stunning on my dresser. All of Katy Perry's perfumes come in the same bottle which is made from different coloured glass to match with the theme of the scent. The fragrance itself is very grown-up. The top notes of pink freesia and pomegranate fuse well with the sandalwood, musk and vanilla undertones. Black Thorn is used in the fragrance- this was historically used in spells and potions and provides the mystical element to the scent. The fragrance dries to a very wearable smell which would be suitable for day or night. The marketing campaign plays on the "strong female" character and it's easy to see why. The fragrance is perfect for ladies who love a powerful scent which will get you noticed. I can imagine my mum wearing this as she is a fan of many different vanilla and musk perfumes from brands such as Jo Malone and Chloe.

Don't disregard celeb fragrances- this one has truly surprised me.

Katy Perry Royal Revolution is available in stores now.