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Going warmer for summer with Rogue Hair Belfast





I'm very lucky that I come from a family with genetically great hair. My grandma is almost 77 and has the thickest hair ever. My mother is exactly the same. I wouldn't change my thick hair as I love to change my hair so much. It has definitely taken a battering over the last year with bleach, colour, hair extensions, being grown then being chopped off! I'm lucky that I get to experience lots of different hair styles because of the amazing hair stylists that approach me. My latest new style is courtesy of Rogue Hair Belfast. Rogue is a salon I've passed many times. Located a few doors up from the iconic Lavery's pub, the salon is handy to both the city centre and Queen's University. In fact, I parked on Botanic Avenue and walked round to the salon. There is also on street parking outside the salon (2 hours max so great if you are getting a cut/blow dry etc). 


The salon is lovely and non-fuss. It's bright and modern without being pretentious. Owned by husband and wife team Karen & Jody, the salon are multiple award winners. In 2009 they won the L'OReal Colour Trophy and Karen is presently one of only two L'OReal ID artists in Northern Ireland. This means she's ahead of the trend and an expert in her field. Karen did my hair at the salon. Firstly, she completely put me at ease because she's such a lovely person. She is really chatty and made my visit very enjoyable. Karen noticed that my hair has become very matte and flat because of my fondness of home colours (my grey comes through after 3 weeks) so she opted to lift my colour. We cleansed my hair which lifted all of the darkness out of it. If you have ever had your hair cleansed you will know that it leaves your hair multiple colours but gives you a lighter base to work with. Karen then coloured my roots to a chocolate brown colour and matched this in with a more copper toned colour through the ends. This gave some natural tone and warmth to my hair that is really was lacking. 


I absolutely LOVE my colour and Karen gave me one of the best blowdries ever. It was big and sexy. It proceeded to get better and lasted 4 days. Karen used lots of great L'Oreal products and gifted me with Techni Art Full Volume Extra Mousse that she used in my hair. I love anything that gives root volume and this is the KING of mousse. Applied straight into the root, it gives hair grit and hold at the root. This product is key for anyone that loves big sexy hair and definitely helped to keep my blow-dry perfect.


Thank you so much Rogue Hair for my lovely new 'do! To find out more about Rogue, visit their website: www.roguehair.com

Glam workwear with Onjenu



Leopard is a neutral, isn't it? I was recently contacted by brand Onjenu. It's a brand I wasn't familiar with but on looking at their website, I loved what they had on offer. They offer high quality dresses and stunning jumpsuits that are multi-function. The dress I chose is great for work but would be equally good for a wedding or night out. My Lotte Leo in green retails for £88 and is worth every penny. Firstly, the colour combo intrigued me. A nude/pink background with green leopard doesn't seem appealing on paper but in real life, it's a very complimentary colour palette. It also dispels the "tacky" status that leopard often gets. Secondly, it's made of the most flattering fabric. It skims over the body, hiding my big lunches that I tend to like!

I picked my dress in a 16 (as I'm always very concerned about the length of dresses) but I'm happy to report it's very fair fitting. A 14 (my usual dress size) would have been fine and still given me enough length.

The Onjenu range remind me very much of Diana Von Furstenburg who is famous for her printed wrap dresses. Definitely one to check out if you love DVF but don't love the price tag!

See the whole range at www.onjenu.com 

Sharing secrets


This picture always makes me laugh- trying to get shoes on me in Topshop 14 days after my hip replacement!

When I started blogging, I started it for myself and myself alone. My first blog, Champagne Lifestyle Student Budget (of which I know I had a loyal readership, many of whom are still here!) as a way to distract myself. I was about to go into my second year of my politics degree at Queen's, it was the summer, I was bored and waiting for a hip replacement. Yes, you read that correctly. I suppose I feel this has been a big secret I've been keeping for many years and it was something I wasn't ready to share until now. I am almost 4 years over my hip replacement and my life has improved dramatically. Although I still suffer with a bad back that requires some hospital attention, my hip replacement gave me a new lease of life. 

I was 19 when I had the replacement and from the age of 14, I was plagued with orthopaedic problems after I had a SUFE (Google it to understand) pinned. This essentially was the wrong thing to do as my hip was so badly slipped. For the next 5 years of my life, my hip head died and I lost 4cms of length in my left leg, leaving me with a prominent limp. This obviously made school an utter joy and at some points, I did have a concerning amount of time off (but it has engrained a strong work ethic in me!). 

I always thought I was very resilient through it all but now sitting here, almost 10 years on from when it started, I realise that I had to grow up quickly. From doctors to hospitals to tablets, my teenage years weren't exactly what you would describe as normal. There was no snogging random boys at discos or having sneaky cigarettes. I turned into an adult at a time when most people were exploring what it meant to be a teenager. However, I never realised that through doing this, I would meet some of the most phenomenal people in my life. Many of my friends are in their 40s and 50s. I feel like they get me more than half the people my own age. 

You probably wonder why I am wittering on about my hip replacement and why am I telling you this now. Well it's for one big reason. I realised that my blog has truly changed my life. My blog was an experiment to get me through a rough time in my life and it has turned into the reason that I am now sitting at 23 years old with my dream job. 

I wanted to write this post to encourage you if you are walking through darkness right now. My five long years of pain felt like they would never end. And it gets to the point where that pain becomes a normal way of life. But it's not normal. And you deserve to be happy and fulfilled. But you are the key to that. Everything in life has divine timing. I know I was meant to start my blog for a reason. My blog has been a friend to me, a comfort and a welcome distraction. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, or in my case, a blog at the end of the computer.

To those of you who continuously read and support That Belfast Girl, thank you will never be enough. I hope you all now realise what this adventure has meant to me. It's not been all happy behind the scenes but you have allowed me to share my happy times as a document to look back
on. I'm forever grateful.

I promise you that your life can be anything that you make it. Just keep the faith. 

All my love,

That Belfast Girl
xxx

Summer is around the corner



I have a real love for anything in white. To be honest, if I could live my life in head to toe white I would. It's so clean and fresh looking. I was delighted when Heatons sent me their Tassle Blouse (£15) from their new Summer collection. Heatons is a store I am always pleasantly surprised by. A lot of their stuff is very similar to Dunnes Stores and I've picked up some real gems over the years. This tassle blouse is one such gem. Perfect with jeans for during the day, shorts for a festival or over a bikini for a beach holiday, it's a great multi-tasker top that looks far more expensive than the £15 price tag.

Many thanks Heatons for a lovely new addition to my summer wardrobe!

Modern Tribes from Kiko



Kiko is a brand I fell in love with after Christmas. When I was on a trip to London, I called into their flagship store on Regent Street. I had read a lot about the Italian brand including that it is loved by makeup artists. Although we don't have a stock list in Northern Ireland, the website is fantastic and easy to order through. I love their Daring Look Eye Marker- the felt tip eyeliner has a long nib making it easy to use for the perfect cat eye. The brand is very affordable and the products are high quality- two pluses for any makeup lover! 

I was recently sent some bits from the new Modern Tribes collection. It feels very 70s inspired. The wooden encased Tri-bal Soul Baked Blush in 03 Wild Mauve* delivers great colour with a hint of shimmer. It reminds me of MAC's MSF's that leave the skin with a healthy glow. The formula of this product is great but it's definitely not a 'handbag' product because of the wooden packaging. However, it looks stunning on my dresser and would make a lovely gift for someone. The lid also has a fabulous mirror in it. 

A great two for one product in the range is the Free Spirit lips and cheeks pencil*. Akin to a Chubby Skin, the formula feels lovely on both lips and cheeks without looking too chalky or glossy. This is a great holiday multi-use product. It also comes with a pencil sharpener- a huge PLUS for me (as I look sharpeners like they are going out of style). 

Lastly, a product I didn't think I would like but ended up loving. Coloured eyeliners largely remind me of my early teenage years and blue liner from No17 at Boots *shivers*, but the Kiko Graphic Ritual Kajal Eyeliner* is grown up and fun. I was sent colour 02 Brave Green Nile. This looks great with my hazel eyes along the bottom lashes. It also comes in gold, navy and violet for £5.90. This product is probably my favourite in the range as it can so easily and cheaply transform a look into summer glam. I know I'll be wearing green liner, lots of lashes and bronzer this summer- retro 70s!

*PR Samples

The stunning new Pandora Rose collection

I've been a fan of rose gold for years. In fact, it's almost exclusively all I wear. I was thrilled when jewellery giant Pandora announced they were launching a rose gold collection. Not only does the line contain stunning rose gold charms (which would look so cool stacked with other colours for some mixed metal chic) but stunning rings, earrings and necklaces. I fell in love with the feather collection (as did many of you after my Instagram picture of the ring!) and I was delighted to be gifted the feather necklace. The necklace hangs extremely long giving it a boho vibe but the chain can be reduced allowing for it to be brought up to different lengths. The bow ring is also stunning- very delicate and sweet, making for a great stacking piece.

The line launches on Monday 15th June, exclusively in Pandora stores. Be sure to check it out. It's definitely very unique and it would make the perfect gift for an upcoming graduation. 

The Style Retreat in Lisburn Square














Lisburn isn't a place that I have visited often. I knew the shopping centre and the great Menary's inside but I was unaware that there were so many other great shops in the town. From a fab H&M, Primark and New Look in Bow Street Mall to Next and new boutique, The Style Retreat in Lisburn Square. I was invited to see what The Style Retreat had to offer by its owner Danielle. I have known Danielle for a number of years as she is also a blogger at The Yellowest Diamonds. Her boutique in Lisburn Square opened last year and sells a wide variety of brands from local company Ariana to a favourite of mine, Lavish Alice. The store has lots of amazing going out dresses and outfits that would be perfect for weddings. I also tried on a few numbers that were great for day to day wear including a fab yellow jacket and black Ariana top (that Danielle kindly gifted me).

I'm so glad to see the rise of boutique stores in Northern Ireland and I hope The Style Retreat goes from strength to strength in the next year.

My basic hair products & brushes



I have spoken about my shampoos and conditioners of choice here but today I'm talking about the post wash routine. Following washing, I put some oil in my hair. This is great to tame frizz and prime the hair for blowdrying. I've tried lots of different oils- natural, expensive and cheap but my favourite is the Schwarzkopf Essence Ultimate Diamond Colour Oil. It's nourishing, not too heavy and a real bargain product. If I am blow-drying my hair I will use different products to hold the blow-dry but this will always be used in the ends of my hair before drying and often, after blow-drying to add more shine. It's also a great product to use on 2nd/3rd day hair to add some smoothness so I don't have to add heat to my hair again. 

If I am curling or straightening my hair, I will spray on Wella Thermal Image* when my hair is dry. This is a great product to protect hair from the heat and also makes the hair so sleek. It smells like melons and is very light.  

If my hair is looking a little bit dirty or flat, I spray Co-Lab Dry Shampoo in my roots. For many years I was a Batiste girl but it left a horrible white cast on my dark hair. I love Co-Lab because it's invisible! It makes a fab styling product because of this and doesn't make the hair feel gritty. I don't love the Extreme version of Co-Lab as it feels too heavy for my hair but I love the original as it's cheap as chips and smells great. 

As for brushes, I have recently been loving the Denman Tangle Tamer Ultra* for brushing my hair when it is wet. Unlike many other detangling brushes, the handle makes it very easy to go through the hair. I have also used this to blow-dry my hair and it was great. The brush is huge so if you have long or thick hair, this is a must buy!

For blow-drying and adding volume, I could not recommend the GHD Size 2 Brush more. These are the most amazing brushes- they heat up so well, add volume and don't cost the earth. I was sceptical of how effective they were but they have improved my blowdrying skills and make my blow-dry much longer. 

Let me know your favourite hair products by commenting below or tweeting me @GemmaLEBond

*PR Sample

My shampoos and conditioners of choice



One thing I talk about regularly on my blog is my hair. I have been genetically gifted with great hair but I'm also completely nuts about constantly changing it. From blonde to extensions to my usual mid-length brunette locks, my hair takes a battering. I have always been very good at looking after my hair, only washing and blowdrying it twice a week. I have naturally curly hair so my hairdryer is my best friend (more on this soon!) but I think the key to slick hair, is a great shampoo and condition. I don't have oily hair but products that are too heavy can make it look limp. Below are my favourite shampoo and conditioner products to keep my hair bouncy and easy to manage.

My twice a week wash
I recently started using the Mane and Tail Herbal Essentials Shampoo and I love it. The blue formula suds up well and leaves hair squeaky clean. It also doesn't strip my colour like many other shampoos. I always do a double shampoo as I only wash my hair twice a week. I also think this adds to having to wash it less! Recently I have been using the Ojon Rare Blend Moisture Therapy Conditioner. This is a heavy conditioner that is perfect for curly or thick haired girls like me. This almost feels like a salon treatment and creates a beautiful shine on the hair, ready for blowdrying. The blend of 7 oils is left on for 2 minutes, making it faster than many masks but with great results. 

For natural hair days
I don't often leave my hair to dry naturally (unless it's really sunny/I'm on holiday) but when I do the Bumble & bumble Curl Conscious Shampoo is great to revitalise my curls. I have tried many curling shampoos in my life and this is the best one I have ever tried. Although it's a bit pricey, the bottle lasts for months as very little is required to wash hair. It also smells great and don't bother my sensitive scalp. 

When my hair is looking dry
Because of the aforementioned colouring, blowdrying and extensions, my hair (like my skin) can get dehydrated. I have found a mask is the best way to combat this. I try to leave this on for a few hours and on occasion, have slept with it on. I use the Kerastase Masquintense. Like most Kerastase products, this is really concentrated meaning it is super effective but not for daily use. I would tend to use this about once a month as I know that if I use it too much, it can weigh my hair down. When I do use it, my hair is bouncy and soft- like I've just walked out of the salon! If you have damaged hair I could not recommend this enough- it truly will transform your hair. 

I will have another post coming up about my blow-drying routine and products I like to use so stay tuned!

May Things


May was a busy month- between university, two trips away and countless press products to try out, I think it was the busiest That Belfast Girl month on record! Below are three things I really loved this month that I think you should check out. 

I am very lucky that I get to see many of the plays that come to The MAC. I am a huge supporter of what they offer- local theatre with local actors. Crazy is a comedic play based on unlucky in love Ruby, who has an unhealthy obsession with Patsy Cline. The story follows Ruby, her house-mate (who wants to be more than her housemate!) and her lazy cousin, all who have some cracking one liners. I laughed the whole way through. Crazy is perfect for a girl's night out or for a mum-daughter date. It runs until the 14th June and I would highly recommend the show (plus Canteen at the MAC is pretty good for a nice meal!). Click here to book tickets

I have been trying out the Environ range for the past few weeks. I will do a more in-depth post about my experience soon but I have absolutely been loving it. Created by a South African doctor, the range is designed to not only topically clear the skin but to help the skin from the inside with the use of Skin Acumax vitamins. The AVST range I have been using aims to renew the skin and I can already see improvement in some scarring I had. This range can be used on anything from good skin to severe acne so it's a range that is worth looking at if you are troubled with spots. Utopia Holistic Beauty in East Belfast stock the range as well as doing the facials, as does Haven at Harty's if you are based in Hillsborough area. 

Jason Shankey Hairdressers on the Lisburn Road (where I get my hair cut by the amazing Caroline) now does a wide range of beauty treatments including HD Brows. I think brows can change your face and they provide the treatment for both men and women. I love HD Brows as they leave such a clean line meaning your brows truly are on fleek! When I had my brows done at Jason Shankey, I was kindly gifted with a HD Brows Palette in Vamp (£25). I used this palette years ago and had forgotten how amazing it is. Truly, my favourite palette that I won't be veering from anytime soon! The powders are a great consistency, the wax isn't too heavy and all of the colours also make for a simple smoky eye! Book to have your HD Brows done at Jason Shankey here.

How will June top May? We'll have to wait and see!