Bring on the Shorts!

Saturday, 4 July 2015

It's rare that the shorts make an appearance during an Irish summer but this week has been a real corker and I wore them for three days straight. I got these shorts from the Avenue 57 pre-loved page on Facebook a few weeks back....for a bargain price of about £8. They're from TU at Sainsburys and are called 'Boyfriend' shorts which means they're nice and loose...just the way I like my shorts as I'm not a huge fan of getting the legs out.
Here I am on Wednesday on a walk along the coastal path at Holywood, the girls on their rollerblades and me running/walking behind them. We were just in time to see a few of the Tall Ships coming into Belfast Lough ahead of the festival which started the next day.
Top - F&F at Tesco
Avarca Sandals - Palmairas
Cross Body Bag - Fat Face (past season)

I love the Tesco top so much, I actually bought another one today. Has anyone else ever done that? I had tried the yellow colour way but the colour didn't like me so I went to change it and just decided to get the cream one again. My justification is that cream tops discolour over time and I've good form in ruining them in the wash....but the girl at the customer service desk was amused by the fact that I was wearing the same top that I was buying.

On Thursday, I had to return something to M&S which reminded me that I had a voucher from my birthday that was unspent. That's old age for you! This is what I wore..
Lace Cropped Oversized Top - TK Maxx from years back
White Vest - Gap
Sandals/Shorts - as before
Necklace - new stock for the shop...available soon!

I was looking for a couple of tops that weren't white or cream but were loose and cool for this lovely weather. This cotton top comes in two colour ways...
I opted for the coral on the 6 year old's recommendation. She's good at these things. I also tried on this denim midi skirt but it was too tight in the 12's in stock sadly or I would have picked it up too. It's not online for me to link to but it's from the Limited Edition range if you're in-store.
The third top I tried, I ended up buying and wearing on Friday...
Feather Print Peplum Top - M&S
Avarca Sandals - Palmairas (sold out but new stock arrives on the Facebook page)
Cross Body Bag - Boden (past season)
Necklace - Next (can't find online but it is current stock)

Thought it was high time I washed the shorts after all that so today I'm back in the Tesco top with some distressed jeans I bought pre-loved from Anneli's Tictail shop for a trip down into Belfast for the Tall Ships.
Top - as before
Jeans - Vero Moda (past season)
Slip-on Trainers - Zara (now in the sale!)

About to put my feet up after all the walking this morning and a busy afternoon cooking and cleaning...I hope you're doing the same. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


Home Colour Rescue at Rogue Belfast

Friday, 3 July 2015

A couple of weeks ago, with my greys at a serious stage and a few night's out planned, I thought I'd save myself some time and money and home dye my roots. Big mistake. I ended up with black roots....I don't know why as the colour I bought was medium brown but that's the thing with home colours, you have no idea how they will turn out. I have had reasonable success with another brand of all-over colour but had never used the root touch up before...and won't again!

In any case, the hair gods were listening to me as a few days afterwards, I was asked if I'd like to try the colour service at Rogue Hair Belfast, which boasts not one but three of the very few L'Oreal Colour Specialists in Northern Ireland. This elite team of experts are qualified to degree level and guaranteed to be amongst the first to  use the latest techniques and products...and to be able to fix any colour disaster that comes their way. You can read more about what a Colour ID artist actually is on this link.
Last week, Karen took me under her wing, starting with a gentle cleanse. Now I was concerned about having a cleanse as I've had one before and found it very hard on my hair. Karen assured me that this cleanse is without peroxide so is the most gentle way to strip back unwanted colour. Here I am post cleanse... hair is back to pre-home colour levels at this stage and I'd happily have worked with that but no - Karen was planning to work some magic in the colour department - giving it a bit more depth and tone and warming it up a well as properly covering up the greys.
At this stage, I could really tell how passionate Karen is about colour and how much she knows about it - testament to all the extra training and time that goes into being a Colour ID specialist. On top of this, the salon is multi-award winning and holds the accolade of being the first Irish winners of the L'Oreal Professional Colour Trophy in 2009.

With the colour sorted, the cut was next and as I was looking for a structured bob, Karen got her husband Jody to cut my hair - he's the short/structured hair expert and I knew I was in equally good hands here....though I think he wasn't expecting such a heavy mop of hair so early in the morning! I am delighted with the greatly thinned out sharp bob he gave me - exactly what I'd asked for.

For me, key in any hair salon - the banter was good. It felt relaxed and un-pretentious...the sort of place I could speak up and say no to what was being suggested or ask them to hurry up if I was running late. Very down to earth and very much up my street. Karen and Jody are a similar age to me, parents of 4 boys with one already in the grammar school my son will start in in September so it was great to hear about their experience as first time parents at that school. They really felt like good friends by the end of my session.
I can honestly and happily recommend Rogue Hair Belfast as a great option if you have been looking (as I was) for a salon that's got gifted hairdressers who are experts at their craft but who are utterly down to earth and genuinely interested in earning your return business. Which they have. Since Uber closed last month, I've been a bit lost - but not any more!

You can read more about Rogue Hair Belfast on their Facebook page on this link and there's a lovely article about Karen and Jody on the Belfast Telegraph website on this link.
Disclosure - my cut and colour was complimentary but I was not obliged to blog about my experience nor was I paid to do so. All views are my own - but you knew that :) Thank you for supporting the brands that support me.

5 Best Facial SPF Creams - Tried & Tested!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

A quick post for you as I've had a few friends asking me about this. I'm as fanatical about SPF as I am about chemicals in skincare and it's a difficult balance to strike at this time of year because many sun creams are loaded with chemicals - so much so, there's a line of thought that says the chemicals in the long term are worse for you than the sun exposure. I personally think it's a bit like comparing apples and pears. They're both dangerous - in different ways.

I look for 2 things in a facial SPF cream - it has to have a low level of chemical ingredients - the ideal would be no chemicals at all but that does mean the price goes up - and it has to work under make-up because I want to wear it every day in the summer months, not just the hot sunny days...I want it essentially to work like a daily moisturiser so that it's not a chore to put on every day and I'm not layering more than two products on my face (moisturiser and foundation).

Here are the ones I've personally tried and tested. All good in their own way but some better from an ingredients point of view and some better from a daily wear under make-up point of view. 
Taking the image left to right..
  1. Antipodes Immortal  SPF 15 - made in New Zealand, this natural product was my autumn/winter cream of choice after finding it in my local natural food store at half price. SPF15 is perfect for the winter months and this cream has completely natural ingredients, is fragrance free and gives a great base for make-up. Easy to absorb and no white face. The only thing that would stop me buying again is the price...but I'll definitely snap it up again if I find it reduced.
  2. SunSense Face Anti-Ageing SPF5 50 - my blogging friend Nic from Strawberry Blonde Beauty Blog gave me this last summer and it's another great option for under make-up as it soaks in quite quickly and doesn't make the face all white. It's not as chemical free as I would like so I alternate this with other creams but I use this on very hot days where I know I'll be in the sun all day as it's rock solid from a protection point of view.
  3. La Roche Posay Anthelios SPF 30 - I discovered LRP a few years back and was attracted by the fact that the products are low in chemicals but still offer superior protection. LRP are renowned for their extremely gentle skincare - suitable for the most sensitive of skins, so as a consequence, this cream is ideal for anyone who gets heat rash from suncreams. I mostly use this on on the kids' faces as it doesn't make their eyes sting. From a grown-up perspective, LRP gets top marks for not making the face too white and the lotion soaks in well, allowing make-up to be applied immediately afterwards. Comes in a range of formulations for acne prone skin/normal skin etc and also comes in an SPF 50 which I've found works just the same as the 30. I prefer the lotion texture that comes in this shaped bottle but you can also get a richer cream texture in a tube. 
  4. Balance Me Natural Protection Moisturiser SPF25 - in terms of ingredients, this is a brilliant option. This chemical free formulation in a high SPF is great but the price you pay is that it does make the skin white on application and takes a while to soak in. I also find this a little greasy for my skin for daily use but it would be great for drier skins. It's also a real hit with the kids as it smells so lovely and doesn't irritate the eyes.
  5. Epionce Ultra Shield Lotion SPF 50 - and this is the creme de la creme...and proof that you get what you pay for. If you can afford this lotion (note that mine is just a sample!), I can't recommend it enough. It's a joy to use, beautiful texture, provides a lovely base for make-up, no white face and it's free of parabens and fragrance. Once I've worked my way though my LRP and SunSense, I'm going to invest in this. I got my sample from the Destination Skin concession in House of Fraser Belfast - there are Destination Skin salons all over the UK so if you have one near you, it's worth going to ask for a sample of this amazing cream. Incidentally, the Dermaquest range is also very impressive and if you have sun damage to your skin already, definitely go check out their antioxidant VitC serum - it's a miracle worker!
I know there are loads more great facial SPF's with natural ingredients out there but I wanted this piece to be about recommending what I know and use daily rather than products I've never tried myself. So please do share in the comments what works for you - it would be great to get more recommendations.


Let the holidays begin.....

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

....sadly not the sun/sea/sand type - just the 9 week school summer holidays. It was an emotional few days as my eldest finished primary school so there were lots of goodbyes and hugs at the school gate yesterday (after the leavers' ceremony) and today when the gates closed for the holidays.
This week has been emotional on another level too as it is exactly one year since our holiday in England ended with me coming home in a wheelchair. I spent about 6 weeks off my feet on multiple pain meds so I feel thankful that this year, I'm stronger and can actually enjoy the time-off with the kids. My back will never be 100% (and in fact today, it's been quite sore) but I've learned so much in the past year about caring for it. It will always be my weak spot but with plenty of TLC/pilates/gym, it will hopefully never deteriorate like it did back then.

So, what have we been up to over the past few days?


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