Summer Wardrobe

12 Aug 2017

Postcards from Pula

A few weeks' back now, I flew out to Croatia with family for a much-needed break in the sunshine. I say much-needed lightly; it's been a hectic year and moving out in less than a month now (very exciting times), it doesn't seem like it's going to slow down anytime soon, so a break to re-charge was sweet relief, if just for a week. Croatia is somewhere I've been before and hold many happy and silly memories; island hopping around the Dalmatian Coast is something I couldn't recommend more to let loose and relax that's just on the doorstep from the UK. Going back was just as lovely - perhaps a slightly different vibe and a lot more slow-paced (for instance, staying in the same place for more than three nights was a welcome change). It was also an opportunity to see the country from a different perspective - more wandering and less marching with backpacks - and it really is a beautiful country. History, food and photogenic cobbled streets, what more could you want out of a summer break.

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In the north of Croatia, bordering Slovenia and Italy, Pula reminds me of a lot of places I've been before. The ampitheatre resembling a (much smaller) Roman colluseum, piazzas from it's European neighbours, habours like Portugal and an old town district that reminded me of Alfama, Lisbon (if only for it's gradiant and inescapable steps reaching further parts of the town). I came here about four years ago, staying in a hostel while at Outlook festival, and there's something nostalgic in me that gets a kick out of going back to places I've been before. The down-scaled ampitheater is definitely the place to visit first, with not only shorter queues than you'll find in Rome, but also a lot more going on inside. While I was there, Sting and Tom Jones were performing (separate) intimate concerts, whilst there was a Gladiators-style thing going on during other nights. There's a shopping district (which I wouldn't particularly rate and it was uncomfortably busy whilst I was there), an Old Town (which I most certainly would) and monuments dotted around to look at. 

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The Forum (named after it's Roman origins) is a bustling piazza, the idyllic spot to get an (iced) caffeine fix, take in the surroundings and people-watch. Yes, its a little touristy (show me somewhere in Europe that isn't, now), but has a local feel that's refreshing, authentic and very chilled. There's history to take in if you want it - old churches, Roman ruins and the like - or if you prefer to simply wander, it's pretty good for that, too. Oh, and there's a lot of unbelievable sweet shops (the smell alone will get you), as well as spices, olive oil and lavender, so if you've got a sweet-tooth then make sure you have hold luggage... 

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Dress | ASOS
Sunglasses | RayBan
Shoes | Topshop (similar here and in the sale!)
Straw Hat | ASOS (similar here)


All photos taken by myself.




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3 Aug 2017

Hydration Three Ways

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Whether you travel light (let's face it, money is better spent in Zara than on hold-luggage), or take on the low-maintenance beauty mantra whilst you're away, there's all the more reason to cherry-pick the hardest workers when it comes to hydration, meaning that you're spending more time by the pool, rather than in front of the mirror, en vacances. It's difficult to know what takes the hardest hit when it comes to hot temperatures; our skin being dehydrated by the humidity or hair, in a likewise condition (think Monica on holiday and you've got me in foreign countries, but blonde), so covering all basis', you really only need a couple or so double duty heroes to get you through. Hydration is the season's buzzword in beauty, year after year, so how do you know what's going to work the hardest? 

DAY
Always the first thing to start showing signs of deterioration is skin. Whether it's an early start to catch a flight (this is always me, and I always regret it), or a prolonged duration in a moisture-lacking flight cabin, this translated onto your complexion is less than desirable. Quick fix? Flash Hydro-Boost is an emulsion charged with water, packed with active ingredients to visibly plump skin. 

NIGHT
Letting your skincare work through the night seems like the solution to (temporarily) letting the beauty routine become a little lax while you're on holiday; because lounging by the pool takes priority over just about anything. Decleor's White Petal Mask is formulated to refine, hydrate and essentially give you that dewy glow (skincare cliche, yes, but what else are you meant to call it..). 

HAIR
So you're skin is back to it's usual radiance, but what happens to your hair when it's being dried up day-in day-out by the sun, chlorine and whatever else. Things to go are usually the texture, colour and shine, so a serum that can boost all three at once is something that's worthy of a place in your hand luggage. Davines' MINU Hair Serum does just that, enhancing where you want it but it's so lightweight in texture that you can barely feel it.

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All photos were taken by myself.
     

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31 Jul 2017

Sun Creams That Do More Than Protect

We know that skincare has upped it's metaphorical game in terms of what it can actually do for your skin in the recent years. Double-duty is a trend in itself, and more and more products are on the market that don't just do one thing, they give you numerous benefits in one application, thus reducing the amount of things you're putting on your skin day-to-day (which can only be a good thing). So, it's natural that sun creams, make-up and body care has followed suit. We're not just looking for UVA protection anymore, it's the other benefits that really turns our heads, differentiating from the others. Anti-ageing, cell protection and tan enhancing technology are just some of the buzzwords you'll see gracing the bottles of our suncare right now. And not to forget, these aren't just for your summer getaway, SPF should be well-ingrained in your morning routine (yes, we do get some sun in the UK occasionally). So, with everyone doing it, which one do you go for? 

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Pushing the power of the plant, Susanne Kaufmann's Cell Protection SPF 25  is a game changer in terms of sun care ingredients. Including the likes of tomato extract, brocoli seed oil (!), echium and jojoba oil, the formula is packed with active, skin-loving ingredients that have the effect of anti-oxidants. So it sounds amazing, but what does all this really do? Protects against free-radical damage, repairs damaged skin cells and intensely nourishes your skin on application, to name a few. If you get into this SPF, the After Sun Gel counterpart (see here) is similarly as nourishing and all I want to apply after being in the sun for hours on end (definitely keep it in the fridge to instantly soothe). 

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Good for: a city break
Small enough to take in your handbag, or strong enough to last you a day of exploring, there's a lot more to this little tube than just a sun cream. Packed with effective, high performance active ingredients (vitamin E, camellia oil, shea and mango butter, just to name a few), it's not just going to protect your skin, it's formulated to promote anti-ageing, nourish skin and strengthen's the skin's natural barrier, as well as the obvious. Yes, it's expensive, but it's essentially a multitude of products in one and won't leave you looking like a ghost for the forseeable future (the suncreams that still give you a white cast on your skin take me right back to being seven and smothered in it). Bonus points, it's suitable for those with really sensitive skin, or very fair (prone to sun damage).


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Good for: a tan
Optimised cell protection is something I never knew I needed until I started using higher-end sunscreens. It applies like silk, absorbs instantly and has a sheen (a slight shimmer) that actually amps up skin that's been dried out from the sun but does not make you look like a disco-ball (I promise). To me, it's got that sun cream-but-nicer scent that immediately puts you in holiday-mode, and has the texture of a body moisturiser, rather than a typically-thick and clogging sun lotion. The patented ingredient (Adaptasun) is formulated to stimulate the production of melanin, thus accelerating the pace at which your skin browns. It also makes it last longer, too. This range doesn't go by SPF rating, but instead you choose what you need from your skin type and the kind of sun you're going to be in; e.g. for European sun, you'd want moderate to strong. Pretty clever if you ask me and this is probably the first holiday I've been on where I haven't burnt on day one, and I think this is why. 


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Good for: a budget
Piz Buin Allergy Sun Sensitive Skin Lotion SPF 50+
Piz Buin suncreams contains the patented Feverfew extract, an anti-oxidant ingredient that has been proven to be even more effective than other active ingredients including sage, green tea and Vitamin E at anti-oxidant boosting activity within the skin. Working to relieve redness, repair skin cells that have been damaged by UV rays and strengthen the skin's natural resilience to the sun (researched by Johnson and Johnson, the brand's parent company), it does more than protect against UVA and UVB rays. The Allergy range is ideal for those with sensitive skin, containing Calmanelle also, which is an anti-irritant that's been proven to strengthen the skin's resilience to the sun. Being a fraction of the price of the premium brand's offerings, this is a good one to pick up at the airport if suncream slips your mind when it comes to packing madly the night before... 

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What sun protection do you recommend?

All photos taken by myself.

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10 Jul 2017

Skin Saviours

Slowly deteriorating to it's pre-teen state as of late (there have been a few days where it has become scarily close to resembling the complexion of a hormonal fourteen year-old), my skin has become significantly more blemished, congested and indecisive as to whether it's oily, dry or somewhere in between recently. The lingering of a sun tan has been the only saving grace in ensuring my skin doesn't look constantly irritated and red; I've come to a bit of a stand-still. Typically, this kind of situation happens before a highly-photographed occasion or much-anticipated party, but as luck would have it, it was timed it with a long weekend off from work so I became fully devoted to the cause and pulled out the big guns to come to the rescue. 

  
The 'less is more' approach; minimal make-up (if any), a cleanse-tone-moisturise routine and upping intake of water is my first port of call. Times like these, I cut out anything that seems to over-do it, like AHA masks, toners containing acids and just about anything you wouldn't class as 'simple'. The frustrating thing is always that it's incredibly hard to pin down why our skin can suddenly turn on you, from erratic hormones to using a different kind of water if you've travelled even just a couple of hours up the country (the hard water/soft water conundrum perplexes me), but usually outbreaks do tend to settle down over time regardless of what you're doing (and if not, GP's are probably the next step). I've never thought of myself as having sensitive skin, but this phase would suggest otherwise, and sensitivity isn't something you're born with and can often develop over time, so, I'm adapting. 


Dermal Clay Cleanser*
Clay cleansers have been recommended for my skin in the past, as they're really effective for those prone to breakouts. This one contains oil-absorbing Kaolin and green clays which helps to reduce problematic excess oil on the surface of skin. It also contains Menthol which smells (and feels) is really refreshing; particularly great in the morning when you need extra help in waking up (the less dramatic version of a cold shower). Clay cleansers also double up as masks if you leave them on for 10-15 minutes about once a week. 

Pestle and Mortar Erase and Renew Double Cleansing System*
Given that this is the year of 'realizing things' (ref. Kylie Jennier, 2017), one of mine has been just how important cleansing your skin, twice a day, actually is. Not only does it prevent a multitude of repercussions caused by dirty skin (premature ageing, blemishes, dullness, need I go on...), it also enhances the efficacy of the products you use after you've cleansed. So, not only does this duo thoroughly clean your skin, it's also a prepping tool for what's to come afterwards. The balm and lightweight gel in Pestle and Mortar's cleansing duo leave skin visibly brighter, feeling silkier and it's very effective in removing all traces of make-up. Since I've been using these, the texture of my skin feels considerably smoother (which is a godsend). 

Prime and Protect SPF 30
You can spend as much time on your skincare regime as you have in the day, but if you're slathering on a sun cream that has no concern for skin (aside from letting the sun damage it) come the summer, then you're probably counteracting the goodness you've worked hard for. Chemical sunscreens can cause irritation, whilst mineral ones can sit on the skin's surface and clog your pores, so naturally the industry has responded by offering SPF's that won't cause your skin to react in such a way. Lightweight, quickly absorbing and one to use underneath make-up (so it slots into your morning routine seamlessly), Emma Hardie's Prime and Protect is a failsafe way of making sure your skin's protected from the sun but won't break you out. 

Hydra Floral White Petal Perfecting Hydrating Sleeping Mask*
If you haven't got the hours in the day to sit around with a face mask on, overnight masks are your new best friend. Working their magic while you sleep, light in texture, orange-scented and formulated to leave your skin dewy, this Decleor sleeping mask is gradually helping to refine the texture of my skin, given it's current state. Containing active ingredients like camomile, sweet orange essential oil and pea extract (which encourages an even skin tone; something I look for in products that sit on your skin), there's a lot of power in this little bottle to make a considerable difference to skin's overall appearance.

Flash Hydro-Boost
Incessant bouts of dry skin not only looks dull and undesirable, it also makes the texture of your skin increasingly difficult to apply any form of make-up on, without emphasizing the problem. The vicious cycle of wanting to apply make-up to conceal but in the long term, making the condition worse, is a real nemesis of mine. Hydro-Boost visibly plumps out the appearance of skin, so it's a quick-fix for times when your skin is drier than usual or dehydrated (which it usually is, after a big, summer weekend so this is especially good on a Monday morning). The emulsion is activated with water, and the results are instant. It's one of those products that once you start using it, you never want to be without it. 


What products do you reach for when your skin takes a turn for the worst?
         

All photos are my own.

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2 Jul 2017

Creating Waves

Having just come out of 'that awkward length' hair phase which inevitably happens after a 'just one more inch is fiiine' haircut, I can finally relax the styling (straightening, curling operation) and with that comes a more natural wavey-ness that I can get on board with. That said, I'm still not one of those who can roll out of bed looking like they've just stepped out of a salon, and I unfortunately rely on the top-knot more than I care to admit (let's pretend it's still fashionable). So, a helping hand or two in the haircare realm shouldn't be passed up if it helps creating the 'un-done' effect.

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1. MASK 
Numero uno, dry ends do not equate to the locks you'll find on the shores of Bondi beach; hydration is easier said than done in UK temperatures (albiet this is occasional), let alone further afield. Bumble and Bumble's new Balm-To-Oil Pre-Shampoo Masque* brings a new realm to replenishing moisture. Velvety in texture, the balm liquefies into your palm and you apply pre-shampooing once a week. It is the Sustainable Palm Oil Blend that creates the balm-to-oil consistency; a mix of oils sourced responsibly from Honduras and Brazil. It leaves hair noticeably glossier, and more separated. 


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2. SHAMPOO
Another oil-enriched formulation, the Bouclรจme Hydrating Hair Cleanser*, is the next step in achieving naturally toussled waves. More than just a shampoo, this works to both cleanse the scalp and hair itself to improve overall hair health, nourishing from the root upwards and protecting from environmental damage (yep, hair is affected by pollution, too..). It's also got vitamin C, E, amino acids and Omega 7 which repair (sun) damaged hair. There's a lot of goodness in this bottle. Oh, and it smells very dreamy; sort of a mix between holidays and sweets..


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3. CONDITIONER
Any blonde, either natural or honourary, knows that maintaining a colour that doesn't resemble brass is bordering on a full-time job. Now I'm getting my hair coloured quite regularly, I opt for colour-protecting conditioners and aim to use them at least once a week. Rahua's new Colour Full duo* uses a plant-derived colour complex to enhance colour (and source their ingredients from the Amazonian rainforest, no less) and give you a long-lasting vibrancy. 

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4. OILS
To lock in moisture, use Liz Earle's Botanical Shine Nourishing Hair Oil* mostly towards the ends and massage into palms before applying. Containing active ingredients like Kalahari melon seed oil and coconut oil, this is a finisher step in creating that nourished, effortless texture. Also, applying on damp hair speeds up blow-drying time, which to me is an almighty tick (impatient by nature). It's also great at giving life to dry ends and you need the smallest amount to do so. 


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All photos taken by myself.
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27 Jun 2017

Postcards from Santa Eulalia

Choosing the region that we stayed in Ibiza was a shot in the dark so to speak, and going by the hotel reviews was really the only reason behind the decision, not having visited before (see more of Sol Beach House Ibiza). As luck would have it, not only was the hotel amazing, Santa Eulalia had everything we wanted. Calm, non-hassled walks on the promenade at sundown overlooking the ocean, lined with restaurants that literally housed every cuisine you could be after on holiday. San Martino was our favourite restaurant, offering authentic and absolutely delicious Italian food, wine and ambiance (not particularly being one for tapas). The baked aubergine for starter and wild mushroom with truffle oil risotto for main were ordered more times than I care to admit, and considering it is on the sea-front, the prices were more than reasonable. Visiting in May seemed to be the perfect time, as there were enough people around to create an atmosphere, but it was far from busy by any stretch. Too pretty not to share, here's some of my pictures from Santa Eulalia... 


Staying in a wellness hotel, of course Sol Beach House Ibiza (see here) was joined to a hiking trail leading up, essentially, from the pool itself. Complete with beautiful, panoramic coastal views, it's more than worth waking up an hour earlier to do the walk (or run, if you're brave) before breakfast.


All photos used are my own.
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