28 September 2017

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 Entries opened on 12th September, closing dates for entries on 10th October 2017.
26 September 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!
10 September 2017

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! 
09 September 2017

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

*My treatment was provided for free by Urban Skincare. All views are my own. 
03 September 2017

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.