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Exploring ahead of ABC Style Week















*In association with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council*

I'm so excited to be a part of ABC Style Week! I will be holding a workshop in Portadown Town Hall on Wednesday 11th October at 7pm. My workshop is called 'Get Styled, Get Body Confident'. Tickets are only£5 and can be purchased from: https://getstyledgetbodyconfident.eventbrite.co.uk/ 

Ahead of my workshop, I visited Lurgan and Portadown to check out what they had to offer in terms of fashion. I knew Lurgan quite well after a visit many years ago & numerous return visits to Alana Interiors (it's seriously worth the drive!).

We started out in Lurgan at Perfect Day - a bridal store. My mum recently got engaged so I am going to a bridesmaid next year. I tried on some styles to see what she might like - I absolutely loved the fit of the navy style I tried on. They have lots of great formal wear as well as bridal choices. We headed on up the town to The Curiosity Tea Room - they also sell cute scarves and bags. I loved the designer inspired fringe number! We also called into new beauty salon Pin Up - I spotted someone getting their nails done and they looked great. Their wall murals are perfect for selfies! Elegance Boutique also had amazing items - I wanted to bring the green sparkly bomber jacket home with me! We of course had to pop up to my favourite, Alana Interiors for a Mars Bar scone and a nosey around their clothes & gift section. I adore the brand Kate Loxton - they have gorgeous candles and clutch bags with cute sayings, making them perfect for presents! We also nipped to the gorgeous Chantilly Lace for more bridal goodness - I spotted the sweetest little flower girl dress. We also went to Jack in the Box which was so nostalgic for me as my grandmother was an avid knitter when I was a little girl. 

We then drove over to Portadown. I love the girls from The Bottom Drawer - a lovely sister duo with a great eye for gorgeous things. They sell great brands in terms of clothes and have lovely gift options. In the same street as them, Sitara Morgan has stunning shoes from brands such as Moda in Pelle and Marian (a fab Spanish brand). I took a shine to a pair of pony skin leopard heels! Not leaving out the men in our lives, Statement Menswear has fab gift options for the Christmas season as well as some of the nicest suits I've ever seen - definitely one to consider if you are getting married!

I cannot wait for my event in Portadown - I hope to see some of you there!

Why the Aviva Community Fund 2017 can make a difference






In association with Aviva Community Fund 2017

I love the ethos of community. It one of the very reasons I stared my blog - I love the people of Belfast and how we support one and another. Given this, I was delighted to go and see a group that benefited from the Aviva Community Fund last year. I visited the team at Girl Guiding Ulster at their home in Lorne Estate in County Down. The estate is magnificent - with walking trails, archery, abseiling and accommodation, it’s a little hidden gem just off the main Belfast to Bangor carriageway. I met their managing executive, Claire at the estate to hear why Girl Guiding Ulster decided to submit for funding and hear how small things can make a big difference to local community groups.


The team at Girl Guiding Ulster benefited hugely from receiving £5,000 in funding which enabled them to buy Resusci Anne dolls  dolls to teach both adults and children much needed CPR skills. This is an investment that not only will help the girls to reach their first aid badge but give them skills for life that could save someone when they are extremely poorly. 

I am delighted to be partnering with the Aviva Community Fund to encourage local groups here in Northern Ireland to apply for funding. Whether you are a local football team, mental health charity or a school that needs a new library, the Aviva Fund is open to all sorts of projects to. 

Aviva is offering four funding levels, from up to £1,000 to up to £25,000 To apply for funding, just tell Aviva how your project will make a positive change in one of these categories: 
• Health and wellbeing 
• Skills for life 
• Community support 
• Inclusivity 

You need votes to get your project to the finals, so start rallying friends, family and neighbours now! 

However, Aviva knows how much work it can take for volunteers in smaller projects to pull their entries together and rally voters. 

Most smaller projects ask for funding up to £1,000, so to recognise all their hard work, Aviva will automatically give the first 200 projects to reach 1,000 votes in this funding level the funding they ask for. If you’re one of the lucky 200 projects, Aviva will let you know. If you’re not one of those 200 projects, you’re still in with a chance of winning your funding. See terms and conditions to find out more. 

To get involved, submit a project or vote visit http://www.aviva.co.uk/community-fund. Entries opened on 12th September, closing dates for entries on 10th October 2017.

My beauty philosophy


Photo by Emer Davidson 

2017 is the year I've really learned to like myself. It's probably the most time I've spent on my own as an adult, trying to figure out what makes me happy and what I appreciate in myself. My blog focuses a lot on products you put on your face but also the beauty inside you. I've written my new beauty philosophy rules below. I hope these will be things I remember as I grow older (and hopefully wiser!).

1. Skincare is key
I will sound like a broken record but skin care is everything. If you are a fan of my live streams, you'll know I invest a lot of time in my skincare routine - from cleansers to masques, I love everything skin! I find my skin has started to improve the more I look after it - especially when I take my fish oil tablets every day (they make a huge difference - such a good investment!). I am also a fan of regular treatments - whether that be a facial or a peel. Take care of your skin - you only get one face!

2. Water baby
Like skincare, this is the oldest trick in the book. I find it takes 2-3 litres of water a day to keep my skin looking its best. Water combined with skin is my best combo to have me feeling my prettiest. 

3. Less is more but more is fun too
As I've grown up, I find myself wearing less makeup. At the weekend I love a bare face with loads of moisturiser. I have even been known to turn up to work minus my face after a facial or a peel. I think as I've learned to accept myself, I don't want to hide my face away behind very heavy makeup. That said, I do now really appreciate doing my makeup for a night out. I love a glitter eye and over-lined lip but to me, this makeup is fun & a bit theatrical. If I wore it everyday, I don't think I'd enjoy doing it so much. 

4. Your heart is your beauty
As a teenager, I was so insecure and thought I wasn't pretty. I was bullied in school and defined my worth off what I was physically judged on. I have realised my worth is actually my goodness and my patience - not my face or my makeup style. This has been the thing that has changed my beauty philosophy forever - if you can appreciate that your beauty comes from within, you're already a little bit winning at life.

What's your beauty philosophy? Tweet me at @GemmaLEBond to let me know!

Flower power




Photos by Emer Davidson

It might almost be autumn but I am clinging on the summer with vengeance (Did we even get a summer this year!?). I've noticed that this autumn that bright colours are really popular - bright reds, pinks and oranges. H&M's knitwear is my absolute favourite this season - this pink jumper can easily take you from day with jeans to night with a little leather skirt. 

The real focus of this outfit is the shoes - a recent find from Peacocks! I recently met with the Peacocks team and you will be so WOWed by their stuff for Autumn/Winter. From amazing coats to a velvet suit I can't wait to get my hands on, they are truly upping their game in terms of fashion. 

Is it time to buy my winter coat yet? Autumn my favourite time of year so I can't wait to buy more knits and boots! 

Rediscovering Dermalogica with Urban Beauty & Skincare Centre


Dermalogica is one of those brands I tried as a teen, had a bad experience and it put me off - until now. One of my big beauty aims of 2017 was to try and discover (or rediscover) brands I either didn't know much about or had fallen out of love with. It's really easy to be put off a brand if you are misinformed about it. In my case, as a teen I had been given a product from Dermalogica that was not suited to my skin type. I felt I needed re-educated in the brand as it has so many products that are super active and effective for different concerns. 

With this in mind, I was delighted to be invited by Helen, the owner of Urban Beauty and Skincare Centre in Dundonald to try out a BioSurface Peel. This was in celebration of her winning Belfast's Beauty Salon of the Year at the Northern Ireland Hair & Beauty Awards - what an accolade! Urban Beauty & Skincare Centre do both Dermalogica and Elemis treatments (I'm a HUGE Elemis fan and as a brand they are extremely particular about the salons & spas they go into so the fact Urban had it was a big draw for me).

The salon itself is unimposing - it's a little beauty haven set amongst an ordinary shop row at your drive into Dundonald. I was lucky enough to have Helen do my treatment - it provided a great opportunity to discuss her salon and skincare ethos with me. It turns out she's probably one of the most lovely businesswomen I've ever met - friendly, caring and great craic. She opened the salon when she was 20 and almost a decade & a half on, she remains hugely passionate about her craft. Her huge passion is skin and she has devoted her upstairs rooms for this purpose. The treatment room was so big, peaceful & calm - I felt like I was at a spa!

I explained to Helen my experience with the brand before and she ensured me that I would be wowed by the results of a BioActive Peel. This is one of the most interesting treatments in the Dermalogica family and is delivered by only experts like Helen as the peel can be customised to suit your skin needs. Mine were hydration and my little hormonal break outs on my chin area. The 5 step peel was unlike peels I had before. Peels can often be quite warm on the skin but I found this was not painful or uncomfortable like others I had tried. It's important to note that this is a skin treatment to ensure you looking your most radiant - it's not a relaxing facial. It's practical skincare that really works and the results were something else! Helen finished my treatment with extractions of my blackheads (something I had never hd before!) and application of mosituriser and SPF. The only real redness was from my extractions. I headed for lunch afterwards with my friends who commented I looked really fresh. 

As part of this treatment you receive an After Care Kit which is fantastic - it's a great way to try the products. I have fallen in love with the Multivitamin Theramafoliant - such a simple product to use twice weekly to give you the perfect glow as it buffs away any dead skin. 

My skin has been fantastic since this treatment. I feel my overall appearance is much more even & that it helped some scars I had that bothered me. This treatment is recommended as a course and I know I will certainly return to get another treatment. My face felt so clean after and in a way, I feel like I had the type of glow you get when you come home from holidays. I'm really happy to say this treatment certainly changed my perception of the Dermalogica brand and I want to learn more about it moving forward.

The biggest recommendation I can give you when I try out companies to review is that I would certainly return here as a paying customer - specifically to Helen as I just loved her personality and attitude. Urban Beauty & Skin Care gets a huge thumbs up from me - as does Dermalogica! 

Book with Urban Beauty & Skincare by calling 028 90 484202 or by visiting www.urbanskincare.co.uk

*My treatment was provided for free by Urban Skincare. All views are my own. 

My Autumn Beauty Essentials






Autumn means new beauty drops! It also means my skin gets a little bit drier as the temperatures start to drop. My autumn beauty products are hydrating and refreshing to make me look the brightest and best before the serious cold of winter comes!

I have long been a fan of sheet masks and I find the best value packets of masks are from TK Maxx. I have been loving these Vitamin C sheet masks - I think they were £4.99 for 5! I usually do a sheet mask every Sunday night to add some hydration before a long week of 9-6 work makeup! If you fancy a sheet mask, look for versions with vitamin c to add glow to the skin!

Wet n Wild Megaglo Highlighter in Precious Petals
Like the rest of the beauty world, I'm obsessed with highlighters. I like the highlight to be really golden and natural - I'm not into the ones that look really metallic and wet. This highlighter is less than £5 and far out-performs many of its high end counterparts. The colour is great on cheeks and eyes. I love it so much that I'm going to stock up! 
(I buy Wet n Wild in Medicare Nortcott Tesco. It is also available in Medicare, Kings Square in East Belfast)

I've been a fan of drug store brand Sleek for a while & the Au Natural palette has amazing shades for autumn. Full of browns and neutrals (with a little bit of sparkle in some!), the buttery shadows apply like a dream. Plus the palette is only £8.99!

I have recently been trying some of the Urban Decay skincare range which has been a surprising delight. My favourite so far has been Lip Love, designed to give your lips a hug from wearing lots of matte and liquid lipsticks! With coconut, shea butter and mint as ingredients, I use this both at night before bed and when doing my makeup to ensure my pout is lipstick ready. 

This is hands down the best primer I have tried in my life. I've reviewed Laura Geller before but as the brands gets more distribution, I seem to find more and more products that are fantastic. At £25, this product is definitely an investment but a worthwhile one. It makes my makeup apply like a dream but more than that, the hydrating ingredients have definitely made my skin look better than ever. 

I always keep a perfume in my handbag & this is my go to at the moment. This is an extremely different scent for DKNY and a stark contrast from their Be Delicious apples. The bottle is super cute and scent is full of mandarin, grapefruit, vanilla, musk and (unsurprisingly!), nectarine! It's a little task of summer that's still autumn friendly enough with the musk and vanilla notes. Fans of sweet scents will adore this. 

I love vintage makeup and the Joan Collins Timeless Beauty range is true Hollywood glamour. The products are sold in M&S and come in some of the most beautiful packaging ever. If you are a fan of brands like Chanel and Charlotte Tilbury, you need to try this brand, This lipstick & powder compact is so cute and perfect for a night out. The lipstick is creamy and the powder is good for an oily t-zone. It also makes a wonderful gift for a glam lady of any age plus it only costs £16!

Let me know your autumn beauty essentials by tweeting me @GemmaLEBond. 

Get Off My Back



Bag - House of Fraser | Jumper - H&M 

Photos by Emer Davidson 

The past few weeks have been unique. It was a weird morning to wake up and see my face, or rather my body, all over the internet. I never thought a picture of me in a swimsuit would cause such a stir online. My blog followers were such a confidence boost and it was such a pleasure to know I'd helped people in their own confidence journey. Being in other publications, despite not giving them permission to use my images or my words, was not such a delight. It was utterly bizarre to see people comment on my height, weight and looks. Often the mean comments would come from people around my mother's age - that shocked me the most. I can't imagine how someone who might have a daughter or niece my age would take the time to fat shame someone on the internet. I have to admit I did shed a few tears over the bad comments and it was at that point I decided not to read anymore of them and turn off my phone. I am forever grateful for the lovely comments and have turned my back to negative comments. The experience has toughed me up and humbled me. 

My new 'Get Off My Back' attitude meant this jumper from H&M was perfect! I had to pick it up when I saw it. It's very tongue in cheek which is my humour. My Friday Forever clutch from House of Fraser is also a new favourite - reminding me why 6pm on a Friday is forever a glorious feeling!

I can't believe it's September & sweater season again - bring it on! I love autumn! 

The new beauty concession your bank balance needs


I basically live in House of Fraser's beauty hall. I could spend hours swatching products and buying ANOTHER nude lipstick I don't need! House of Fraser Belfast now has a fun counter called Beauty Spotlight. The marble and rose gold counter features products from some of the hottest emerging brands on the market including the must coveted The Ordinary skincare line. The best bit about it is that Spotlight helps feed your beauty addiction without breaking the bank balance! Products starts from around £4! House of Fraser kindly sent me over some of the Spotlight top products to try - I've picked out my favourites below!

Starskin
There's an array of face masks at the Spotlight counter. From new brand Nugg to Tony Moly, there's a mask for everyone. I adore the Starskin range as it feels super luxurious. They have everything from lip masks to my favourite sheet masks to try. I find all of the Starskin products super hydrating. Their red carpet ready mask is perfect before that special night out so you look extra flawless. 

NIOD
NIOD is the big sister of The Ordinary skincare range. More concentrated and a little more pricey, the range contains lots of products that specifically target skin concerns. As hydration is always my main concern, I tried out the Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex. I applied this serum to my face each night to clean skin before bed, something before moisturiser and sometimes simply by itself. After 4 weeks my skin looked clearer, more plumped and glowy than ever before. I really recommend this product, especially for coming into the winter months when skin needs a moisture boost. 

Spectrum
These brushes quickly replaced Real Techniques brushes as my most favourite brushes of all time! Firstly, my set (pictured) look AMAZING. They are super chic but more than that, they are great value for money. A 10 piece set comes in at £40. They wash really easily, apply makeup like a dream and are very sturdy. A great brand for all ages but especially for younger girls looking to start out their brush collection. 

Pixi
Pixi is a brand I've long advocated on my blog. It's a great cruelty free brand as well as having some fab products including the iconic Glow Tonic. I tried out the Glow Tonic to Go pads which were really handy for holidays. I'm also a huge fan of Pixi's brow products as well as their plumping lipgloss. 

Tangle Teezer
If you have thick and curly hair like me, you NEED a Tangle Teezer in your life. I've owned one for a few years and I was delighted to see Beauty Spotlight stock them. They are the easiest way to keep your hair knot free. I also love to use mine in the shower to brush through my conditioner or mask! These make a great stocking filler or little birthday gift. 

I can't wait to see where Beauty Spotlight goes from here - it's great fun discovering all of the little gems it has!

*Products are PR samples. All views my own.

Unexpected gems #1




Sometimes there are products you seem to write off before you even try them. Whether the marketing has targeted a different demographic to the one you are part of or the packaging isn't speaking to you, I know there are so many products I wouldn't naturally gravitate towards. However, being a beauty blogger has its perks. I get sent products to try that makes me open my eyes to new brands. I hope to bring some of these products (plus products I've picked up randomly!) in the Unexpected Gems series. 

Time Bomb is a range I knew largely from my mother's childhood QVC addiction and the link they have with the legend that is Lulu. I had always assumed the range was targeted a little older than my demographic but I'm happy to say I was wrong. If you love Liz Earle's Cleanse & Polish, you'll love this even more. It removes makeup easily and thanks to the microdermabrasion crystals, it gently buffs away dead skin cells leaving skin glowing! This is a great product for all ages - in fact I let my mum use it too and she adored it! 

I'd read so much about this scent online and it's likeness to many high end designer fragrances *cough cough Tom Ford*. This unisex scent is very unique - musky, sexy and fruity all combined. As it is an Eau De Cologne, this differs from the perfumes we are used to. Colognes like this one are a real mix of citrus oils. 4711 is the original cologne created in 1799 and the scent is what is worn by the central character in Breakfast at Tiffany's! The best bit about it is that is smells so expensive yet costs next to nothing - 100ml is less than £20! The bottle is super traditional so I love having it sitting out and it also comes in a spray version if this splash style bottle isn't for you. 

*PR Sample

Acceptance


I have posted on this blog so many times about being happy, confidence and body issues. I'd say 2017 was were I personally really hit a wall with my own confidence. After turning 25 last November, I really started to look at my life. I'm a clever girl with a good job but I don't have a significant other or a baby - 2 things that many of my friends seem to have and that I assumed I would have by 25. 

I started to blame myself, or rather, my own physicality for the lack of these. I had convinced myself no man wanted me because I wasn't a size 10. Even typing it seems insane. I have friends of varying sizes with & without partners. I didn't really have any concrete evidence of my lack of partner based on how I look but my stupid brain had convinced me this was the case. 

I'm so hard on myself - in any situation I will always blame myself no matter how big or small. I realised this is a really bad habit to have and that it was feeding my confidence issues. I was constantly making myself the problem or apologising rather than being proud to be independent, curvy or different from the crowd. 

However, this week when on holiday and after a good bit of soul searching, I realised my own hang ups are normal. All women worry about the size of their tummy, boobs, back fat... whether they are a size 6 or a size 16. I decided to post a picture of me in my swimsuit that proceeded to go viral with so many women praising my confidence - little did they know I've spent so much time this year crying in fitting rooms, crying at the gym and generally feeling awful! 

I feel like there have been a few things that have helped me this year to grow in confidence... I hope my tips help you to grown and to #RockYourBody, no matter what size or shape you are. 

Go easy on yourself
I'm a girl's girl. I will always tell my friends (or random girls in nightclubs when I've drank too many gins) that they/their makeup/their outfit is fleeky. I'm a strong believer in telling people they look fabulous - especially my friends who I know have their own body confidence struggles. I was not extending this rule to myself, frequently putting myself down before going on nights. I'm making a conscious effort to try to be more positive about myself. If you are quick to criticise yourself, others will be too. 

Surround yourself with body positivity
Around my birthday last year I moved jobs and with that came new work friends. One of these has turned out to be a ride or die friend - the type I know that will be clapping for me the day I get married. I've never met someone with such a fantastic outlook on life. She encourages me no end - the best thing she ever told me was that I'm such a prize and that I shouldn't need to convince myself of this. Her values on life align with me so it has been the most amazing thing to have someone who encourages you to be the best version of yourself. Find someone who does this for you, whether it be a work friend, partner or parent - it has made a huge difference to my life! 

Treat yourself
A huge part of me feeling awful about myself was the lack of 'chill time' I had. I was running around from blog events to work to other commitments. I had very little time at home to get a shower, do a face mask and do my tan - simple things that make me feel like the best version of myself. I am trying to get into better habits of having a daily time to look after myself - whether that be an hour in the gym or a 10 minute mask before bed!

I am so aware in writing this post that many women struggle unendlessly with their confidence. I've been on such a journey this year with mine - with very anxious periods and down periods where I have felt pretty worthless. Improving my confidence has started with myself being honest about why I struggle & being positive in my outlook about myself. I'm not encouraging everyone to post a swimsuit picture but the largest thing I took from doing that was that women are mostly kind & clap for other women. Over 200 women commented on the post and said I looked great or they wished they had my confidence. No one talked about my back fat, but rather my smile, contentment and confidence they felt was coming from the picture. Confidence, like happiness, has ebbs and flows but I'm glad I have a healthier outlook on myself moving forward. 

The battle of the House of Fraser Facials


House of Fraser Belfast has really upped its beauty game in the past year. With more hot brands on the floor than ever, the department store now rivals a lot of the big players across the water. One of the best parts of the revamp has been the introduction of new beauty rooms - 2 are home to Clarins and 1 is home to Estee Lauder.  They are located at the back of the store beside Nails Inc meaning the rooms are very peaceful! I have been spoiled and was able to try out a facial from both brands - which one came out on top?

Estee Lauder
I've really grown up with Estee Lauder as my mother is a huge fan. The House of Fraser team are absolutely lovely & 2 of the staff are now trained in the Re-Nutriv facial. 

The Re-Nutriv Estee Lauder room is only the third in the UK & Ireland (the other two are in Harrods & Brown Thomas!). This exclusive experience is an utterly luxurious way to immerse yourself in the Re-Nutriv range. The room is super sleek & glamorous, just like the skincare range. This range is designed to target ageing and the products are some of the most active on the market. Containing ingredients ranging from Black Diamond Truffle to 24K Gold, it's easy to see why this service is only available in the best of the best stores. The facial lasts just over an hour and is one of the most rich experiences I've ever had. The products are all magnificent & this is truly the best way to showcase them (I've been testing out the Eye Creme since the facial & I'm obsessed). The facial involves a unique technique that re-models the face using lymphatic pressure massage to remove any puffiness. My Re-Nutriv experience was fantastic & I felt like I learned so much about the brand. Overall, I would suggest this experience for those aged 35 + as the products are super rich and targeted towards those who are worried about the ageing process. My mum has just turned 50 and I definitely want to book her in as a treat. 

Cost: £50 booking fee which is redeemable off any product in the Re-Nutriv range (making it essentially free!)
Best for: First signs of ageing, exploring a new product range, Estee Lauder addicts, a post holiday treat 

Clarins
Clarins is a brand that I've grown to love over the past few years. The room is different to the Estee Lauder one - it's a bit more comfy & homely. The facial started with me getting under a heated duvet. As someone who is the coldest person on earth, I was in heaven. I had a facial that would help with my breakouts and dehydration. Their facials are customised using their Boosters that are added to products to target specific problems. During the facial I also had a neck, shoulders and arm massage which was divine. This can be added to your facial taking your treatment time from 1 hr 25 mins to 1 hour 45 minutes!  I have to admit I was a bit sceptical about the Clarins experience as it's a little more expensive than Estee Lauder but it is far better than many facials I've had in actual spas. I booked mine for a Saturday morning, came in my sweat pants & actually fell asleep during my facial! Overall, a fantastic experience for any age!

Cost: Facials start at £70 and increase to £85 if you add a 20 minute massage
Best for: Targeting skin issues, existing Clarins fans, a mini spa experience in the city

The winner.....
It's hard to weigh the two facials up as they are very different brands and experiences. I definitely will return to Clarins again but whilst I'm there I'll send mum to Estee Lauder! I like to get regular facials so I think Clarins caters better to this as Estee Lauder is definitely much more of a 'treat' experience, especially as you get £50 off a Re-Nutriv product of your choice. Both are utterly fabulous with talented staff - take your pick based on your age, skin needs and product loves!

Visit both counters to book your appointments - tell them I sent you! 

*I was kindly gifted with an appointment for both facials. All opinions are my own. 


Timeless style

*This post was created in collaboration with Marks & Spencer.






M&S is a national institution and a huge part of my growing up. M&S is so reliable and consistent plus their Autograph line is one of my favourite ranges on the market.

M&S challenged me to pick an OOTD from their new collections after attending one of their amazing instore Sparks events. My life is very busy on the work front at the moment so I love to buy things that I can wear from the office and then on out for a few drinks. Plus, inspired by the timeless nature of M&S, I wanted to create an outfit you can wear aged 25 or aged 60! This shirt dress is a great length, beautiful fabric and really flattering. I am pictured here at the Belfast Photo Festival at the Ulster Museum. This dress kept me cool but still looked really dressy. I teamed my dress with gold block heel sandals  from Marks & Spencer (they also come in red!) which were SO comfy - I could imagine wearing these on holiday or on a night out to prevent sore feet the next day! My designer inspired pearl bag is so beautifully made - the chain is so sturdy! I can't wait to use this more over the summer months.

M&S is more than just clothes and Percy Pigs. In fact, my tan and nail polish in these pictures is also from M&S! I've long been an advocate of their tan. The Autograph Tinted Mousse is not only fantastic value but applies so easily. The colour is just enough to give a bit of a lift. My nail colour is Autograph All in One Nail Polish in Chilli. Again, the formula is an absolute winner and looks like gel!

Are you an M&S fan? Tell me what you love about M&S on Twitter @GemmaLEBond 

10 things I can't live without



In the midst of purchasing my second pair of the same trainers (Because I'd battered the first pair to death), I realised there's a list of things (beyond makeup!), that I seem to constantly either repurchase or use everyday. I thought I would share my ultimate 'Can't Live Without' list. I hope it inspires you for some new purchases that you know will be used time & time again!

Let's start with the reason I decided to write this post - my favourite trainers. I purchased a pair of Adidas Superstar trainers over 2 years ago and they were my constant weekend go to trainers. They are trainers that still manage to look dressy. I had the original black & white version but now have gone for the rose gold (as I can wear them with the ridiculous amount of navy clothes I own!). I remember owning these trainers as a kid so it's quite funny that I love them so much again. Team them with jeans & jumper or a leather jacket & culottes for the perfect off duty cool look. 

I'd say I'm into triple figures of how many of these I've gone through in life thus far. I have expensive mascaras and  other drug store mascaras but in all honestly, this is my go to. The formula is great but it's really the brush that makes this mascara. If you have thick lashes that need some length, this is the ideal formula for you. It's also great for doing bottom lashes plus it's a favourite of Kim Kardashian! For £10.99, it doesn't break the bank (I tend to stock pile them when they are on 3 for 2!). 

3. iPhone 7+ 
I upgraded to the iPhone 7+ recently. I constantly laughed at people with giant phones and didn't get the fuss. ... until I got one! If you are a photography enthusiast or a blogger like me, the iPhone 7+ is a must! The portrait mode on the camera is a game changer plus I never have to worry about storage. Plus, it's great for watching YouTube & Netflix on the go. 

Oh yes, Victoria's Secret Body Spray's aren't reserved for teenagers. In fact, my whole family use them including my 78 year old grandmother! I use them everyday before I get dressed as a little sweet spritz plus I stockpile them in our work bathroom. They are great for the gym or just to keep in your bag/car for on the go. My favourite's are Flirt from the VS Pink range and Aqua Kiss. 

5. Philips Sonicare Toothbrush
Over Christmas I had a really bad flu and felt sorry for myself as I didn't have the strength to do my usual post Christmas sales mad dash. So instead, I treated myself to a ridiculously expensive rose gold toothbrush (I blame the flu meds). It was reduced in the sales but it was still expensive. I had heard so much about Sonic toothbrushes and how good they are not only for your teeth but for your gums. Nothing else I've ever used has removed plaque the way this toothbrush does - the hygienist was forever shouting at me about my back teeth when I was doing my best to clean them. I truly couldn't live without this toothbrush now!

6. Sulphate Free Shampoo
I have really curly hair which I tend to hide through constantly blowdrying it out. The only thing that seems to keep the curls from turning to frizz is sulphate free shampoo. It keeps my hair cleaner for longer (hello twice a week washing) plus it makes it more manageable. I use an array of brands but I keep returning to Palmer's Shea Formula shampoo - affordable, leaves hair shiny and lasts for ages! 

7. GHD Brush
Again with the hair! I need a good brush to dry my hair and the GHD Brush in size 3 is the only thing that makes me have a salon perfect blow dry. The brushes are so easy to grip, heat up nicely and glide through your hair.

8. Real Techniques makeup brushes
I have countless different makeup brush brands but my Real Techniques brushes are by far my most used, most washed and most loved. The brushes are so affordable and last for ages. I recently just replaced one I had for over 3 years! I particularly love their new Multi-Tech range

9. Mulberry Lily Handbag
This is the most expensive purchase on the list but a worthwhile one. I wanted a bag I could use at the weekends that wouldn't be heavy but still carry loads as well as working for day & night. My medium navy Lily has been on many an adventure with me and they age so beautifully. A very worthwhile investment that will hopefully see my through the next 20 years!

10. Duster coats
It all started with a black linen coat from All Saints. In our climate, I feel like you always need a jacket on hand and duster coats are the perfect option - throw them on top of your work clothes or with jeans at the weekend. I have countless varieties - I've picked up great dusters in M&S and TK Maxx.

Let me know what you can't live without - tweet me @GemmaLEBond 

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.