Wednesday, 29 June 2016

beauty: No7 lovely lips lip balm

As summer arrives (here's to hoping!), protecting your lips from the sun is as important as protecting the rest of your body. Unlike your skin, your lips contain almost no melanin so they really do need that extra care and attention to keep them healthy.

SPF lip care is essential and No7 is on hand with its newest lip product: the new Lovely Lips Lip Balm with SPF15 which will nourish and condition lips all day, as well as protecting them against harmful UV rays.

You can also wear it under one of the four new gorgeous shades of the No7 Lovely Lips Lip Balms. All of these moisturising balms are enriched with mineral oil, beeswax and vitamin E for extra condition and care.

The sheer, buildable colour helps you perfect that natural look - which is great, if, like me, you're not a huge fan of full-on lipstick. Using the SPF lip balm underneath the colour definitely tones down the shade.

I was kindly sent three of the new shades to try out:

I was really impressed with just how moisturising these balms are - I've thrown the SPF lip balm into my hospital bag for when our baby arrives! And I'll be using the coloured shades to add a pop of colour when I'm tired and pale after the baby arrives!

No7 Lovely Lips Lip Balms in Poppy Petal, Parisian Pink, Deep Raspberry and Coral Blossom and the No7 Lovely Lips Lip Balm SPF15 are available in Boots stores now for £9 - and remember, they're currently offering their £3 off No7 make-up vouchers, so you can get one for just £6 right now. Plus, it's buy one, get one free - so you can get the SPF balm and a colour for just over a tenner!

Monday, 27 June 2016

beauty: SEVENTEEN brow's that! brow kit

Eyebrows are big right now. That's both in size and popularity. I have had a few emails in my inbox recently about how eyebrow products are set to rival mascaras.

Last week, in my first ever make-up tutorial video, I showed how to use the No7 Beautiful Eyebrow Kit. Today, it's the turn of the SEVENTEEN Brow's that! Brow Kit. The SEVENTEEN version is less than half the price - and with the addition of the eyebrow pencil, it offers a bit more. My only preference from the No7 kit is that the powder comes in two shades and it has a double ended brush, as well as a mascara style wand to neaten brows. But for less than £6, the SEVENTEEN kit is ideal.

You'll see from my before photo that as a teenager, I got my hands on my mum's tweezers and totally wrecked my brows - they are nearly non-existent by the ends! They barely show up in photos and I'm always a bit embarrassed about that. But this kit makes them a lot stronger.

The kit comes with an instruction card - always useful, particularly if you're unsure.

  1. Start with the brow pencil and using small strokes, fill in any gaps. You can also use the pencil to create the shape you want. I like to fill in my tadpoles so that the inner corner isn't so pronounced. 
  2. Next, use the wax on your brush to set your lashes. I'll be honest, I have a brow brush (like this one by Real Techniques) that I used for the wax and to get my actual brow hairs in line.
  3. Then use the brown powder to add a little more colour and definition. Finally, you can use the highlighter right under the brows.


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

style: blake lively maternity style inspiration

Loving this maternity look by Blake Lively. Totally what I'm living in right now - maxi dress teamed with a denim jacket. A denim jacket is a great piece to use from your pre-maternity wardrobe.

Friday, 17 June 2016

maternity leave: painting nails

I've been so tired - or sick - for most of my pregnancy that one of my favourite things to do very quickly fell by the way: painting my nails. Before I was pregnant, my nails were very very rarely bare. In fact, I'd often paint them twice a week. Since last autumn, I've maybe worn nail polish twice.

But now that I'm a lady of leisure, I have cracked out my (extensive) collection of polishes. I have also added to them.

The two shades above are from Boots No7's latest summer collection: Candy Apples and Beach Blues.  No7 nail polish is always spot on - the shades are always on trend and the consistency is always easy to apply and long lasting. These two new shades deliver on all fronts.

And below is the battle of the classic reds. Trafalgar is a slightly pinky red, while Pandore is maybe more of a true red. I'm rocking Trafalgar right now!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

review: emma jane next generation maternity/nursing bra

I don't often feel compelled to write a review about underwear - least of all comfortable and practical maternity underwear. But I've been wearing the Emma Jane Next Generation Maternity/Nursing Bra for the past few days now and I don't want to wear anything else. I wish I'd found these bras months ago!

The Emma Jane Next Generation Maternity/Nursing Bra is seamfree and offers an extra soft and comfortable fit.

I've been wearing sports bras throughout most of my pregnancy and this bra has all of the comfort of a sports' bra with the added bonus of the nursing feature.

The bra is available from lots of places online. I bought it on and it was a bargainous £12 (plus, if you're signed up for the Boots Parenting Club, you'll get extra points when you buy it!).

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

3 things: to do on maternity leave

things to do on maternity leave

Or 5 things! I wrote last week that I was finishing at work and beginning my maternity leave. It's been a little weird not going into work every day. I've felt a little lost.

I had really mixed feelings last week as I approached my last day in the office until next year. Since I graduated a decade ago, I have worked continuously. I began to worry what it would mean for my career and the job I love to have this break. Your job tends to define you, and for the next half a year, or so, I won't have that. I was worried about the effect the break would have on my career prospects as before I found out I was pregnant, I had been looking for my next step and that had to be put on hold when we discovered we would be having a baby! I'm really lucky that my husband is really supportive and understands my apprehension about the next phase of our lives. He is also going to share my maternity leave with me, so that I can go back to work a bit earlier and enjoy a couple of months, without worrying about childcare, to get back into the swing of it.

Back to maternity leave. I've been trying to ensure that I have something specific, either to do at home, or someone that I'm seeing each day, so that I don't get too despondent as I await the arrival of our baby.

  1. I have been watching a fair amount of TV. Love Island has become a bit of an obsession - trash TV is always good when you're exhausted. Plus, it doesn't matter if I fall asleep halfway through!
  2. I've been trying to make some batch meals for the freezer. I'll admit, so far, I've managed to make a huge portion of bolognese and made some of it into lasagne. And that is it. But we have a couple of meals in the freezer at least.
  3. Obviously I've been doing some blogging - and catching up on all of the blogs I've missed recently.
  4. Yesterday, my first official day of maternity leave (after a couple of days of annual leave last week), I treated myself to breakfast in bed - such a luxury! Sometimes, you've got to treat yourself.
  5. Finally, I've been packing my hospital bag. As this is my first baby, I have no idea what I need really. I've found a few lists online and used these to help me pack our bags. I've packed three bags - is that excessive? It feels it! One for me during labour, one for me and baby after labour and one for my husband! I'll share the contents soon.

Any tips on how to stay sane during this waiting period before the baby arrives?

Friday, 10 June 2016

style: full term and maternity leave

On Monday I was officially full term - 37 weeks. Yesterday I started my maternity leave. I'm not going to lie, this heat is the worst when you're pregnant. My feet are like balloons - I don't have ankles anymore! Sleep - which is not easy during pregnancy anyway - it now completely elusive. So I am glad to have finished work and am able to nap during the day now. But apart from napping, what else am I meant to be doing while I'm on maternity leave and before the baby arrives? Everyone keeps telling me to enjoy this time. But apart from enjoying it - how should I go about doing that? Any suggestions welcomes!

This is dress is from New Look. I bought it for a wedding we went to a few weeks ago. I searched high and low for something to wear that I would feel comfortable in and that wouldn't cost the earth (you might remember this post?). I found a fair few that ticked the first box but were very pricey. This dress was really well priced and wasn't so dressy that I couldn't wear it again over the last remaining weeks of my pregnancy and really get my money's worth. Maxi dresses are all I'm living in right now.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

pregnancy post: the final countdown

On Monday I was officially full term - 37 weeks. It feels quite momentous to get to this point. But now the waiting really begins.

I finish work today. This makes me happy because the recent warm weather has left me struggling to cope with 8+ hours in the office. And sitting at a desk for long stretches has also left my lower back in pain too. But I'm also apprehensive about how I'll spend my time between now and when the baby arrives.

I'm not very good when it comes to surprises and not knowing. So the concept of waiting for the baby to arrive when it's ready is quite difficult for me to get my head around. It really could arrive anytime now, in the next five weeks!

I am determined not to sit around the house, waiting for labour. But at the same time, I'm tired and uncomfortable. Anyone got any tips for keeping busy without exhausting myself while on maternity leave?

Monday, 6 June 2016

pregnancy beauty: clarins mum to be spa treatment

Two weeks ago was my birthday. My husband very kindly treated me to a day out in Birmingham. He told me he'd booked me a surprise for the morning and that we'd then go for lunch.

My surprise treat was a mum-to-be spa treatment at Clarins based in Selfridges. It was heavenly and exactly what I needed.

I have been to Clarins spas before and have always found them to be the nicest, cleanest and offer the best service.

The mum-to-be treatment included: a back massage, a facial, a shoulder and neck massage, arm and hand massage, leg and foot massage and an oil rub on the bump to help stop stretch marks.

For the back massage, you are on a stool, leaning over a pile of pillows on the treatment bed. For the rest of the treatments you're on the bed, at an angle (similar to the angle my midwife usually has me at at my antenatal appointments).

The products that Clarins use always smell divine.

It can feel a little intimidating to strip off at 35 weeks pregnant but they offer you the space to get ready and provide a robe (to wear backwards over your bump) for the back massage and then cover you with multiple towels for the other treatments and just expose the necessary parts. They will also ask you if you're comfortable with each treatment before they start. So if you're not so keen on someone rubbing your bump, you can pass on that.

The beautician who did my treatments told me that they offer the package to anyone, right up to the end of the pregnancy. I have to admit that if it wasn't nearly an hour from home, I'd be very tempted to go back for another one once I start maternity leave later this week.

Have you tried any mum-to-be packages?