The best products of 2014

Best lipstick Rimmel Kate 03
I am a sucker for a nude lip and this remains the best colour, even over very expensive alternatives. It's the perfect Bardot nude that suits everyone without looking like concealer on the lips. Teamed with a nice liner, I manage to look like I've had lip fillers and feel like the sexy 60s siren I was born to be!

Best mascara Too Faced Better Than Sex
Love the name, love the formula. I am converted to high end mascara after finding this holy grail product. This gives me long, glossy lashes without clumping. It's also great for bottom lashes and it doesn't smudge. I can't see myself giving this up anytime soon.

Best eyeshadow Too Faced Chocolate Bar
Ok so I'm technically cheating but eyeshadow palettes have been all the rage this year. Chocolate Bar is easily the most complimentary palette on the market and easily transition from day to night. The colours are all neutral, easy to mix and match and super easy to blend. Plus, they are made with real cocoa powder and smell divine.

Best eyeliner Eyeko Skinny Liquid Liner
2014 was the year I fell back in love with liner but I am incredibly bad at doing it! The Eyeko Skinny liner makes it so much easier. The felt tip pen disperses the formula evenly without putting too much pressure on the eye. The line comes out really thin and can be easily built upon. This is the perfect liner for anyone that loves flicked or winged liner- so much control!

I adore my beloved Laura Mercier Silk Creme but it is pricey. No7 Superlight has been an absolute gem this year. I love dewy, flawless skin and the light formula is buildable and works into the skin so beautifully. The luminous qualities also save on a primer meaning I can get out of the door much faster in the morning! 

Best powder product Michael Kors Bronzer in Flush
Michael Kors says this is a bronzer but in reality, it's a wee bit of everything. Part blush, part bronzer with a little bit of shimmer. I use this all over my face but it's been a great product to both lift and sculpt the cheeks. It also looks really fab and the mirror is huge making it a handbag essential.

Best perfume Lyn Harris Rose
Sadly now discontinued from Marks and Spencer, my scent of the year has been the musky tones of Rose by Lyn Harris. Co-owner of Miller Harris, her M&S difussion range was small but fabulous. I've been wearing Rose for a few years and love it even more now I know it's no longer available. It's a very unique scent and although very distinctly Rose, it doesn't smell too old or over-powering. A good alternative is Dahlia Noir by Givenchy- the two layered are my absolute fave! 

Best skincare Yon-Ka Lait Nettoyant
I have very sensitive skin that breaks out so easily if it does not like a product (especially heavy essential oils). However, I have fallen in love with Yon-Ka and their facials. The Lait Nettoyant is a cleansing milk that I use morning and night. It leaves my skin clean but without feeling tight or stripped. I know I am going to use this for years to come- again another holy grail product.

Let me know your best products of 2014 by commenting below or by tweeting me @GemmaLEBond.

The NYE Glam

I am very particular about my festive makeup. For me, Christmas is all about matte red lips and bold eyeliner but New Year's Eve is another story. I want "other level" glitter. It's the only time of the year I will let myself look completely over-done and feel fabulous about it.

It's all about the eyes and the old school Barry M Dazzle Dust never goes a miss. I love the gold shade and use a flat eyeshadow brush to really pack it on rather than using it as a shadow. You will need a good primer for it to stick to or cover the eye with a cream shadow stick such as the Gosh Forever Eyeshadow stick in Light Copper. This gives a good amount of colour underneath and provides a fantastic sticky surface for the dust- just be sure to move quickly before it sets!! The Gosh stick also doubles as a great liner colour under the eyes. To complement a bold eyeshadow, I love Ardell Wispies as they are very full but natural. They are also very easy to apply and are super light.

For a glow on the cheeks, I love Makeup Revolution's Highlighter in Golden Lights. This costs a bargain £3 and it rivals many of the expensive highlighters I have tried.  A little bit of this across the top of the cheekbones and in the cupid's bow will give you the perfect Kardashian-esque glow.

Finally, we can't forget about the nails. Using Glitter Bomb by Rimmel to top your existing Christmas mani or simply using it on its own, can help create a simply gorgeous sparkly nail.

I hope you all have a great New Year's Eve! If you use any of these products, tweet me a picture to @GemmaLEBond. I'd love to see your makeup looks!

What I've learned in 2014

Some years shake you more than others. 2014 was one of those years. I think when you are a blogger, everything can seem very rosey as you only see the fabulous, glamorous parts but I assure you that I have ups and downs like the rest of the world. Here are three things that 2014 has taught me. What a year it has been- roll on 2015. 

1. Don't be afraid to be honest
I am known as being a really forthright person but when it comes to confrontation, I can back away and hide. However, 2014 has been the year that I voiced that I feel annoyed or hurt rather than just huffing about it. I've found that this has been really helpful in my relationships. In many ways, it makes your relationships stronger as you can discuss honestly issues that might be bothering you and the other person may know something about you they didn't know before. 

2. Friends are the family you choose for yourself
In the past year, I've lost friendships but the ones that remain are people that fell more like family. I've know my best friend for 12 years and we've weathered more storms than I care to recall. Through some very hard stuff this year, friends have stayed and friends have left. I'm blessed to have amazing people to turn to. 

3. Follow your heart
I had to make a big decision this year about what I was doing with my life. I trained as a teacher last year- something I dreamed of being for my entire life. However, my heart had been stolen by the world of media and PR after the success of my blog. So I had a choice to make- go and make good money teaching or spend a few thousand pounds to follow my heart? My heart won and I'm happily doing my Master's in Communication, PR and Advertising and it's the first time in my academic life that I feel very secure, settled and knowledgable. Maybe I'm a slow learner but I hope this will lead to a long and happy career. 

I hope you have all had a good 2014 and are ready for 2015!

My Christmas Present from Argento

Argento are a local jewellers that everyone I know seem to has a piece from. The company stock many great brands including Pandora and Michal Kors along with their own brands Dirty Ruby and Karma. 

Argento kindly offered to send me a little Christmas gift and as I'm a rose girl girl, I picked the gorgeous August Woods Rose Gold Alligator Necklace, £20. I wanted a really classic, timeless rose gold piece that looked as amazing with a plain white tee as it does with an evening dress. I love this piece because it lies really flat on the neck so it makes quite the statement. A matching beautiful bracelet, £12, also is available and I think I'll be purchasing it to have the full set.

Argento sent my jewellery to me via their delivery service. I was really impressed with it so ordered some more stuff for gifts for Christmas. They have some great bargains on the website and I was impressed with the fast delivery.

Thank you Argento for my beautiful gift- I know I'll be wearing this for many years to come.

Kildare Village #StepIntoTheStory

I was delighted to be invited back down to Kildare Village during the week to start my Christmas shopping. This was my second visit to the village as I had previously had a fantastic trip during the summer months (Read all about it here). The Christmas campaign #StepIntoTheStory is so fun and the numerous reindeer around the village were so cute. My friend came with me and it was her first visit. It's always interesting to get other people's views on something. She enjoyed that the stores were genuinely close together so that there was not lots of walking about to do! This also proved great as I was a crisp day when we were there so we never managed to feel cold with all of the shop dodging!

Like my previous visit, I went with shopping goals in mind. I wanted a white shirt and some new flat shoes. I feel like it is good to go down with goals because it's very easy to get carried away once you see the bargains. Since my last visit, two new stores have opened. Kate Spade is a very all-American company that sells beautiful brightly coloured handbags and costume jewels. I was impressed by what was on offer in the store and I'd definitely come back to the village with a view to buy a handbag. Kurt Geiger Boutique had just opened the weekend before we went to the village. Unlike the normal KG stores, this store only stocks high end brand that are greatly reduced such as Isabel Marant (yes they had the trainers!), Charlotte Olympia and Carvela. 

My favourite shops on this visit were All Saints and Lulu Guinness- I probably neglected them a bit last time because I was a bit overwhelmed by the selection. The reductions in Lulu Guinness were fantastic with makeup bags and wallets being well reduced and making great Christmas presents. I also took a shine to a Lulu Guinness suitcase that was really heavily reduced. All Saints is a store that I sometimes love and sometimes hate but Kildare Village's offering was amazing. I picked up a gorgeous top that had an additional 20% off it on that day. My friend had never been to All Saints before and she too was impressed their selection. 

I did manage to get my white shirt in Ralph Lauren and my shoes from Hobbs- both really well reduced and I was really pleased with the quality of both. My friend picked up bits from Links of London (which she tells me is SO much cheaper), Molton Brown, Furla (I had major handbag envy!) and Jack Wills. I definitely will be back to Kildare Village next year. January sales anyone?

Diesel boots
Kate Spade
Lulu Guinness
Amazing chocolate hamper in Lily O'Briens
The centre felt so festive!
New shoes from Hobb's
And what was the boot like on the way home? See below! Two very happy ladies!

Thank you to Kildare Village for having us!

DV8 Bloggers Evening

Fur collar- School Gate Style
Coat and bag- H&M
Jumper- Gap
Jeans- Primark
Shoes- Dune
Oh yes, that's me feeling the festive vibes above. This week I released my inner Christmas diva (mostly down to unleashing my curly locks!) to attend the DV8 Christmas Evening. DV8 is a shop that I often pass or call into in my local shopping centre but I often dander pass the flagship store in Belfast. 

On my visit, I discovered they stock lots of brands I like such as Vero Moda, New Balance and AX Paris. The array of products they have is fanastic. I took a real shine to the white PU Leather skirt  (below) as it really reminded me of a Kim K type item. They also had lots of amazing crop tops which would look fab paired with it. The Frozen Christmas jumper made me laugh and would be sure to brighten up anyone's festive celebrations. There was also a wide array of long dresses, party dresses and jumpsuits for the Christmas party season. And can I just talk about the fabulous black and white fur coat? Cruella in the best of ways!

The DV8 website also offers some great options- I've picked a few of my favourites below:

Love this Balmain inspired dress

Fun iced pink fur gilet

Great classic monochrome sweater

Great colour combo on these trainers to wear with jeans

I have to admit that I misjudged DV8 and I'm pleasantly surprised by what they have on offer. I'll definitely look there in future for something different especially in terms of a "party item".

Thanks to DV8 and CMPR for the kind invite.

Christmas Gift Guides: Electrical Beauty Tools

Every Christmas, I always seem to have an electrical beauty item on my wishlist. I'm keeping it a secret as to what I've asked for this year, but below are my top four picks that I think you should be buying your loved ones this season.

If you are someone like me that has a complete melt down if you get hard skin, the MicroPedi is a fantastic buy. It gently buffs away dead skin and can be used daily. It's easy to use and the Christmas gift set would make the perfect present for any gal or guy that spends a lot of time at work on their feet. The gift set also includes all the other necessary components for a perfect at home pedicure. 

From the same company, comes a similar concept only for the nails. If you are like me and suffer with nails that split or always have nail polish peeling off, the MicroNail is a fantastic tool. A mechanical buffer that allows nails to becomes super shiny and smooth, the MicroNail is easy to use and like the MicroPedi, helps with at home maintenance. 

If you have super long hair or have hair extensions, the Instyler is the tool of your dreams. The rotating iron allows you to create the big, bouncy hair you've always dreamed of without having to go to the salon. The polishing cylinder allows you to have maximum hair shine and the variable temperatures allows you to save your hair from damage. Truly the best gift for girls who love their big hair.

I adore my curling wand. For a curly haired girl like me it has become an absolute staple. I can leave my natural hair to dry then curl random sections to make it look more put together. The conical shape of the want means it allows you to create different styles of curl from corkscrew to beach waves. It heats quickly and costs around the £20 mark- what's not to love?

Let me know your beauty tool of choice this Christmas by commenting below or tweeting me @GemmaLEBond.