Summer Wardrobe

27 May 2017

Harnessing The Sea

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Our lives are increasingly becoming cycles of relentless exhaustion (that we disguise with ample caffeine and under-eye concealer), and whether what gets you is deadlines, commutes or, more enviably, relentless social lives, the tiredness occasionally needs to be addressed with a little more vigour than getting your seven hours shut-eye. Sources of seaweed, like kelp, and magnesium have long been harnessed into what we eat and what we put on our skin to counteract the effects of this, having been proven to make a significant difference. Working to balance your cortisol levels (cortisol is known as the 'stress hormone', and it regulates the bodies response to stress), energizing skin itself, as well as naturally-relieving fatigue (so you can put the glass of wine down for one night), these super-ingredients are everything you'd want to come back to after a long day. 

That moment of peace to re-balance in between the chaos is made incomparably more enjoyable with this invigorating trio of goodness from REN Skincare, who have formulated a bodycare range around both kelp and magnesium, using their properties to promote anti-fatigue, naturally replenished energy levels and cellular renewal. Without claiming to know the ins and outs of cellular renewal, we can be sure that letting cells detox every so often can only be a good thing. Magnesium and anti-oxidants, (like those found in kelp), stimulate this process to occur, and that's what makes your skin appear and feel more refreshed after a prolonged period of time (because, technically, it is "new" skin that's been given what it wants). These ingredients encourage cells to release their toxins and consequently regain the energy to function healthily. For me, the three heroes of the range are the bath oil, exfoliating body scrub and body wash...

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Atlantic Kelp and Micro-Algae Anti-Fatigue Bath Oil
For those that are into baths all year round (personally, I find them one of the most quick-fix ways to relax), this oil is more suited to the summer months, when indulgent, steaming baths aren't really what you're after, but revitalizing, refreshing ones are. One to two cap-fulls is enough; the scent lingers afterwards and it's the scent that works at calming the mind. I don't know what it is about bath oils, or oils in general, but the luxurious nature of them quickly turns a quick dip into a experience (only complete with candles), and knowing this one is just as good for your skin as it is your mind, bath-time doesn't get much better.

Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium Anti-Fatigue Body Wash
Although exercise is invigorating and in the long run, should work to increase your energy levels through the day, there's no denying that straight afterwards, your body can feel a little zonked from having worked so hard. The presence of magnesium within this wash, over time, works to promote healthier cells and thus has a positive effect on your energy levels. If you're not one for the gym, it works just as well at waking you up in the morning (anything with 'anti-fatigue' in the name has got to be a morning go-to, especially on weekdays). 

Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium Salt Anti-Fatigue Exfoliating Body Scrub
As important as it is to detox your skin's cells, it's just as necessary to get rid of the dead ones for a smooth, even texture; this is particularly vital if you're looking for a sunkissed glow over summer (real or fake). For me, putting a light, even layer of the scrub all-over before getting in the bath or shower allows time for the product to start absorbing into my skin (rather than just being washed away), promoting hydration and softer skin. After Ibiza, and sadly going a little rouge from too much soleil, I haven't wanted to over-do-it with scrubs in the fear of losing a few additional layers from my skin, but this one is gentle enough to remove the unwanted but still keep everything in tact. It can also double up as a soak if you layer it on pre-bath. Oh, and the smell is absolutely to die for; a signature sea-scent if ever I've smelt one. 

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REN Skincare Atlantic Kelp and Magnesium body range launches exclusively at renskincare.com and on counters in Space NK on May 30th. 



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22 May 2017

Bikini by Day

I can't deny being an introvert when it comes to swimwear, reaching for the classic, black triangle bikini when opportunity hits and discarding anything with colour (let alone pattern). The fine line between 'fashionable' swimwear and being loudly garish is one of those things that's a difficult art to master, and as much as I'd love to be able to rock a strappy, criss-cross cut-out mish-mash one-piece (perhaps more festival-goer than cast-away), my lazy-girl beach etiquette makes it slightly too high-maintenance and who can be dealing with those tan lines anyway. Swimwear is one of my favourite things to shop for pre-holiday, but each year I find it increasingly hard to feel satisfied with the high-street offerings in contrast to the likes of Net-A-Porter (namely Zimmerman and Mara Hoffman who continuously torture me). Alas, the bank account firmly disallows any sort of purchase from there right now, so high-street it was pre-Ibiza. 
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18 May 2017

Postcards From Ibiza Old Town


We didn't have the time to visit the desert-island destination of Formentera, where stripped-back, white-sand beaches have made the place a must-do day trip when in Ibiza (far from the hedonistic nightlife of San Antonio), but we did set a morning aside to see the island's Old Town. Just under an hours ferry away from where we were staying, Santa Eualia, it was a notoriously rocky ride negotiating the windy conditions of the Balerics in May - so be prepared if you're prone to sea sickness. The boat ride itself is an experience, with beautiful views of the cliffs, open-top ferry sunbathing opportunities and a chance to watch the sunset over the horizon if you time it right. The ferries are pretty regular, about twenty euros return for adults and due to the time of year, not that busy (but I can imagine the queues get a bit out of control during July-August time). 
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15 May 2017

Three Holiday Skincare Essentials

Gone are the times when we solely rely on slapping an SPF-50 all over our body and face, calling it 'holiday' skin maintenance. Nowadays, there's every lotion and potion for all types of scenarios that one might encounter either in transit or whilst away sunning ourselves, from protecting against free-radical damage through the day to after-suns that claim to do everything under the, well, sun. It's hard to know where to start when packing for a trip when it comes to beauty, negotiating the amount of products that you're actually going to use, whilst desperately trying to stay under the baggage allowance is frankly stress-inducing in itself. Whilst in Ibiza last week, there were three products that were constantly on-rotation to protect, soothe and brighten my skin after hours of sunshine (and unfortunately, sunburn but that's another story...).

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Something that I'm increasingly starting to use both home and away is pollution-fighting sprays. The tangible reality of the grime and dirt of the city is ageing our skin and becoming something that we are all alert to; ideally wanting to avoid wearing the pollution on our faces in ten years time. To our dismay, harmful pollution exists not just in the realm of cities, but pretty much everywhere we go nowadays, so this really has got to become a staple in any skin routine, regardless of where you are in the world. It goes without saying that something like this is essential pre and post-flight (or any public transport) to protect your skin. An Anti-Pollution Mist is not just useful as a shield against free-radicals, but doubles up as a cooling mist for by the pool (and it smells amazing). I used this pretty much every half an hour while sunning, and I can't express how refreshing it is; don't underestimate how good this feels in the heat.

Another double-duty product that's a saviour when you're playing by the hand-luggage rules comes as a skincare and make-up hybrid. As BB cream is renowned for being the answer to reluctantly wearing any form of make-up whilst on holiday, but still wanting that slight coverage, especially at first. So, a Satin-Finish BB Cream complete with an SPF is even better, and something that I used constantly for above reasons whilst in Spain. This one not only has UVA protection, but also UVB, which is less common in SPF products but equally as important in maintaining skin's healthy appearance (UVB rays burn the superficial layers of skin and the cause of reddening, whilst UVA rays penetrate the deeper layers of skin). The formula adjusts to light to medium skin-tones using adaptive technology, so if you're fair skinned, it's still going to colour-match when you catch the sun. 

Something else you don't want to be doing whilst on holiday is spending too long on your skincare routine (let's face it, who wants to be cleansing and masking when there is sunbathing to be done and sun-downers to be drunk...). If you're like me, you don't take too many treatment products away with you, but there are times when I want to give sun-dried and dehydrated skin an extra boost to fully make the most of that holiday glow. A One-Minute Facial (can't really get more efficient than that..) is my product of choice, and works using water-activated vitamin-C to brighten, smooth your skin's surface and get that luminosity that we all want. 

One of the best things about these products is that they are full-size, but small enough to put in your hand luggage being under 100ml (if you're a stinge like me and refuse to pay the extortinate luggage fees). As most hotels supply all the necessities like shampoo, conditioner, wash etc. now, you can sacrifice them in your liquids for things more skin-type specific or treatment orientated.

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9 May 2017

Six Books To Take On Holiday

Whether you're the organised type whose books are packed a week in advance, or you pick up whatever catches your eye on the shelves in the airport (more than likely for last-minuters), if you're anything like me then holiday reading is an intrinsic part of your getaway and getting through paperbacks is a pool-side past-time like no other for relaxing the mind. Lengthy commutes this year have meant I've been reading a lot more (a bittersweet reality), and in turn, I've got a lot to recommend to those like-minded bookworms, if you're out there. I go through phases with genres, having spent a lot of time loyally scouring through the likes of Linwood Barclay or Jo Nesbo (scandi crime-thrillers are hard to tear me away from), but I've ventured out of my comfort zone recently and plan to continue the trend (throwing in a couple of classics, obviously). Some of these I've already read and reviewed, others I'm currently reading (as this will go live while I'm in Ibiza and no doubt sun-worshipping, horizontal).




Sweetbitter - Stephanie Danler 
First up is an intoxicating, charged and delectable story that's unlike anything I've read before. A coming of age novel of Tess who lives through the well-trodden cliche of moving to New York to be somebody and do something with her 'boring' life, there's more to this one that meets the eye. A glamourisation of a twenty-somethings wild and reckless lifestyle amidst a new city, with a new job and new friends, the story is full of adrenaline, painfully relatable to anyone who has ever started out somewhere or doing something new, and given the subject matter (the ins and outs of a NYC restaurant), it's strangely alluring. It will make you want to eat fine foods, drink fine wine (Tess spends a lot of the novel somewhat inebriated), but at the same time, cleanse, detox, purify and all of the above over and over. It's destructive yet beautiful, and something that I already want to read again (pretty good sign if you ask me). I was always taught at school that you read the first time for plot, and the second for meaning. And I haven't quite gotten under the skin of this one yet. 
Find Sweetbitter here.

Fates and Furies
An example of marmite in the realm of fiction, this book has conjured polarised opinions since its publication; some find it overly pretentious and utterly unrealistic, while others are mesmerised (my stance is more toward the latter). A story of love at first sight between two, unsuspecting adolescents, Lotto a wealthy lothario and aspiring actor, and Mathidle a mysterious, lonesome girl whos beauty is otherworldly, the novel unravels from their marriage at 22. The prose is lyrical (thus deemed somewhat pretentious in comparison to Groff's other novels), and the story's craft plays on your perception of the characters. Split into two sections, Fates and Furies, the novel really got going for me from the second half onwards, when all the dark secrets come spilling out that were lurking beneath their surface-deep, seemingly fairytale marriage. Full review to come soon!
Find Fates and Furies here.

The Handmaid's Tale - Maragret Atwood 
After the first few pages, this modern classic turned into, quite literally, something I couldn't put down, stimulated my thoughts and had me thinking why I hadn't come across it sooner. An infatuating parallel to Orwell's 1984, coined as the 'feminist version', told from the perspecive of Offred (literally, Of-Fred; the name of her Commander), who's role in society is now a handmaid within a totalitarian state that has replaced what once was modern America. It's provoking depiction of a society that's poignant now especially, given the time we are living in, noting the political situation in America and it's potential repercussions. So, it's no wonder that The Handmaid's Tale (and 1984) have undergone a huge resurgence in popularity recently. I'm recommending this book left, right and centre, and everyone that's followed suit has felt the same way. You can read my full review here
Find The Handmaid's Tale here.

This Must Be The Place - Maggie O'Farrell
Another one that's been everywhere recently, Maggie O'Farrell's latest novel is bound to be a fail-safe summer read. A high-flying ex-film star, Claudette Wells, gave up her career at it's peak and now living in Ireland with her family, whom she is fiercely protective of (so much so that she's willing to pull a shotgun out to anyone that pulls up the driveway). Her husband Daniel, a New Yorker at heart, is faced with a discovery of a woman he hasn't seen for twenty years, and it's a discovery that sends him off track from his family. A portrayal of the intricacies of marriage, differing perspective and (as you can guess from the map-design front cover) weaving in and out of different places that have significant, changing meanings. I'm yet to read an O'Farrell book but based on their track-record and cliff-hanger synopsis thus far, I'm keen to get started. Find This Must Be The Place here.

Affinity - Sarah Waters
A list of book recommendations wouldn't be complete without a neo-Victorian work of fiction thrown into the mix. Undoubtedly my favourite genre, deception, darkness and sinister happenings grace the pages of books like these; being simultaneously intoxicating and repelling, and something you wont be able to put down. Affinity infiltrates the life of Maragret Prior, and the relationship she builds with one of the inmates, Selina Dawes, whom she meets at the local prison; one who is known as a spirit medium and without knowing her, interests Margaret overwhelmingly. If you're anything like me when reading this, you find yourself questioning things you've always believed don't exist, which is pretty powerful in itself. Also, one of Water's most famous novels, Fingersmith, has just been made into a Japanese adaptation (and in some independent cinemas right now), which is one of my favourites and the novel that got me hooked on this author. 
Find Affinity here.


The Trouble With Goats and Sheep - Joanna Cannon
Another, literal, example of that overused but underplayed turn of phrase, don't judge a book by its cover, or title in this instance. I've had many a comment; why are you reading a book on goats (granted, most were dad jokes), but unless you've been hiding under a rock, you'll have seen this just about everywhere recently, equipped with rave reviews. Told from the perspective of a ten year-old during the famously hot summer of 1976 (a classically sweltering drought really sets the scene of a who-done-it), the narrative's charming, childlike tone is refreshingly light upon the really quite sinister goings on of the novel (it also makes this an 'easy' read in my opinion; precisely what you want whilst lounging on a sunbed). There's something about books set within a neighbourhood, with behind-closed-doors suspicions, based on seemingly 'ordinary' people, that can be far more gripping than far-fetched plots. It reminds me of one of my favourite books, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, a similarly disturbing tale set in everyday suburbia (but minus the punctuation). I haven't finished this one yet so review to follow.
Find The Trouble With Goats and Sheep here.

Let me know your summer reading recommendations!
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