Bow Sleeves

OOTD feautring Shein top, H&M skirt and Zara OTK boots 1

I don't know about you, but I'm loving the trend for crazy sleeves right now. Whether they're ruffled, bell shaped, ribbon adorned, or, as in the case of this little Shein number, cut out and ribbon adorned, I am all over them. This black top is essentially like a cosy sweater, but then has these really interesting sleeve details. It would look cool with jeans and beat up trainers, but I also love it dressed up a little bit like this.

I found the skirt in H&M after a fairly lengthy search. I was looking for something to team with my new over the knee boots - more on these later as I'm obsessed, obsessed I tell you! - and nothing I had seemed to be quite right. Proper mini skirts just looked a bit too short and, well, a bit tarty with the boots. At the same time I wanted something that was still short enough to show them off. This one fit the bill perfectly and I think looks a lot pricier than H&M. It's a nice, thick twill material so it's perfect for winter. My only issue is there's not a huge amount of give around the waist, so it's perhaps not the best thing to wear out for a huge meal (which is precisely what I've worn it for.)

OOTD feautring Shein top, H&M skirt and Zara OTK boots 2 
The boots are from Zara and I can't speak highly enough about them. They were around £55, which I think is brilliant for a pair of Zara boots. I'm guessing the fact that they're a sock boot style makes them that little bit more affordable, and if you're like me and have regular sized feet but skinny little calves, sock boots are the best style to go for in terms of fit anyway, so it's a win win! I feel like high street boots in general have been absolutely brilliant this season and these are definitely no exception. They're a great shape with a really nice block heel and they're comfortable to walk in too. Nice one Zara!

OOTD feautring Shein top, H&M skirt and Zara OTK boots 3

OOTD feautring Shein top, H&M skirt and Zara OTK boots 4

Top* - Shein, Skirt (similar) - H&M, Boots (similar), Bag (similar) - Zara

Are you embracing the crazy sleeve trend?

Kate x

*Gifted item. All opinions, as always, are my own.

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - First Impressions and Giveaway

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - First Impressions and Giveaway 1

I'm really excited about today's post. First of all, it features the re-vamped No7 Lift & Luminate skincare range, which sounds absolutely fantastic for mature skin. Secondly, there's a giveaway involved, and that's always good news, right?! 

I've been a fan of No7 for many years. Their philosophy that beauty is not just about looking good, but about feeling ready to take on the world, is one that I can wholeheartedly get behind, and in fact, their Protect and Perfect line was my first ever introduction to anti-ageing skincare. To this day, it's still my go-to if I'm ever stuck for what to buy. I've never tried Lift & Luminate before, but having read the press release about the recent improvements to this range, I can't wait to give it a go.

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - First Impressions and Giveaway 2

No7 have recently revolutionised the entire Lift & Luminate line, so there's no better time to test it out. Taking the powerful technology from their TRIPLE ACTION serum - the UK's number one serum brand - they've added it to their entire skincare range of day cream, night cream and eye cream. No7 believes that skincare works #BetterTogether, and the new and improved Lift & Luminate range is now the hardest working in their entire arsenal, proven to deliver results against the three most common signs of ageing by visibly reducing wrinkles, firming skin and producing a more even skin tone.

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - First Impressions and Giveaway 3

The technology in question comprises the following key ingredients:

Matrixyl 3000 PLUS - A powerful peptide blend which smoothes wrinkles to restore more youthful looking skin

Hyaluronic Acid - Provides skin firming benefits through its water retaining abilities

Hibiscus Extract - Rich in peptides and amino acids, helps support collagen production for smoother, firmer skin

Lightening Complex - Contains Emblica (Indian gooseberry) and Vitamin C, to even skin tone and fade pigmentation

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - First Impressions and Giveaway 4

In addition to this potent blend, the day cream contains SPF 15 and 5* UVA, offering No7's most advanced protection against damaging - and ageing - UV rays. No7 claims that use of the day cream will reveal younger looking skin in just two weeks, and will protect your skin for the future with regular use.

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - First Impressions and Giveaway 5

The night cream, which works in harmony with skin's night time renewal process to nourish and restore moisture, is supposed to offer immediately visible effects from the morning after the first use, reduced wrinkles and firmer skin after two weeks, and a more rested and radiant looking complexion after four weeks.

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - First Impressions and Giveaway 6

The eye cream is especially formulated for the delicate skin in this area, and, it's claimed, will reveal brighter looking eyes in just two weeks. With continued use, you should see crow's feet softened and dark circles and puffiness reduced.

In trials, 88% of women saw even better results from using the new day cream together with the serum, which would seem to suggest that No7 are onto something with their #BetterTogether theory. And now that the new range is available to buy in stores, they've decided to offer a group of Thirty Plus bloggers - and some of our readers - the opportunity to see for themselves. I only received the range a couple of days ago, so I'm going to give you my first impressions now. If you want to know how it works on my skin over the next few weeks, make sure you pop back at the beginning of February to find out, as I'll be posting all about it then.

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - First Impressions and Giveaway 7

I usually love the packaging of No7 skincare and this range is definitely no exception. It's neat, elegant and very easy to see which product is which thanks to the simple colour coding. The eye cream and serum have fine nozzles, making it a cinch to dispense the small amount of product you need without any waste. The day and night cream are housed in clear plastic jars. I know a lot of people worry about hygiene when you're constantly dipping your fingers into the product, but so long as your hands are clean there shouldn't really be a problem, and it certainly makes for ease of use.

My immediate impressions of these products are that they are all light to apply and quick to absorb. Fragrance is minimal, but what little is there is fresh and clean. If anything, the day cream feels slightly thicker than the night cream, but neither of them are at all heavy on the skin. I think I'm really going to enjoy using these products, and I can't wait to let you all know the results in a few weeks' time!

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - First Impressions and Giveaway 8

Left - Serum, Right - Eye Cream

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - First Impressions and Giveaway 9

Left - Night Cream, Right - Day Cream 

So, in the spirit of #BetterTogether, what could be more fitting than to try out these products alongside some of you? No7 are very kindly offering a full set to five of my UK based readers, so if you're interested in testing them out, make sure you enter the giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
As I mentioned, these products are available now, so if you don't win you can always head over to your local Boots (or!) to pick them up. The day cream and night cream retail for £24.95, the eye cream for £17.00 and the 30 ml serum for £27.00. (They are also currently on 3 for 2, so now would be the perfect time to get your hands on them.)

No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Range - First Impressions and Giveaway 10

Oh, and if you're interested in seeing what some other bloggers think of this range, then make sure you check out HayleyTraceyAlexJaneLouiseLisaFrithaJo and Sareta who are also taking part in this trial.

Are you a fan of No7 skincare? Have you tried the Lift & Luminate range, and are you as intrigued by the re-vamp as I am? And do you believe that skincare is better together, or do you prefer to mix and match your products? I would love to know!

Finally, don't forget to check back here at the beginning of February to find out how I get on!

Kate x

This post was sponsored by No7. All opinions, as always, are my own.

How to Hide Greys When You're Allergic to Hair Dye - My Experience With Goldwell Elumen

If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll probably know that I'm allergic to hair dye, or more specifically, to PPD, the active ingredient in hair dye. I don't want to waffle on and on about the ins and outs of hair dye allergy in this post (although if you're interested in that, I waffled on and on about it here!) Instead, I want to share a recent experience with you - one that could be helpful to anyone who's looking to disguise grey hairs, especially if you happen to be allergic to dye, like me.

Goldwell Elumen Review 1

The fact that I couldn't dye my hair was never really an issue for me until I started to develop greys. I wasn't interested in going all the colours of the rainbow, but when the greys came along, I wanted them gone quick sharp. Remember that L'Oreal advert where Julianna Margulies says, "I will ALWAYS be too young to be grey"? Yep, that. I'm sure plenty of people can relate!

So what do you do when you have grey hairs but can't colour over them? Well, as a matter of fact, for anyone with greys, it's always going to be more effective to get highlights rather than trying to dye them. As a hairdresser once explained to me, grey hairs are funny little buggers, completely different in texture to pigmented hair, and even strong, permanent dyes have a tendency to wash out of them within just a few weeks. Of course you can keep re-dyeing them if you want to, but it's high maintenance.

Highlights, on the other hand, create depth and dimension within the hair, and as soon as you get that mix of shades, the greys just seem to blend away. With nothing to wash out of them, you're basically sorted until the roots grow through. You can lighten hair with bleach - a completely different chemical process to dyeing and one which I am happily not allergic to. So for a good few years now, I've used bleach only highlights to disguise my grey hairs.

At first, this was fine, but there were always a few little niggles at the back of my mind. For one thing, most people who have highlights don't have them with just bleach, and there are very good reasons for that. Bleach will lift your natural colour, but not usually to a shade you want to be. With "normal" non-allergic clients, hairdressers use toners or dyes over the top of bleach to achieve the desired shade, and some won't even want to touch your hair if they have to work with bleach alone. I was very fortunate that I found a talented and experienced colourist who would, and that bleach - at least in his expert hands - seemed to lift my hair to quite a nice shade without the help of toners or other colourants. However, not having any sort of choice over your own hair colour is still not ideal.

The second problem, which is potentially a lot worse, is what happens if things start getting a bit too blond? Most people can just add some lowlights or even dye the whole lot back to their natural colour, but if you have a PPD allergy, you can't do this. My first colourist, Shane, understood this issue, and was always careful to give me just enough highlights to disguise my greys. This is what my hair used to look like when he was in charge of my colour, and I was always very happy with it.

Goldwell Elumen Review 3

Then Shane left. Left the salon, left town, left the bloody country. Walked out of my life and abandoned me to deal with my hair issues on my own.

Damn you Shane!

My next colourist, unfortunately, was not in the same league. She freaked out about not being able to use toners on me, and decided that the only way to keep my hair from being brassy (a common complaint when you lift with bleach alone) was to make it as light as possible. She did this by leaving the bleach on a lot longer than Shane had done, and was also not very careful about only doing my roots. I, stupidly perhaps, did nothing to stop her, and I ended up looking like this.

Goldwell Elumen Review 4

Now I'm aware that a lot of people might actually prefer this colour. It's cooler toned than what I had before, which is always infinitely more fashionable. I, however, hated it. I felt it looked harsh on me, and I really missed my warm, caramel tones. It was also a lot more damaging to my hair, impossible to manage, and the worst thing was it got blonder and more damaged with every appointment, because she just wasn't careful enough with where she was putting the bleach. Also, just look at those roots!

I was now in my nightmare situation, with hair that was too light, and unable to do anything about it. 

But then, I heard about Goldwell Elumen. (Just to be clear, I heard about it from my own research and paid for my appointment with my own money - this is not a sponsored post.) Elumen is a kind of dye that colours hair physically instead of chemically (don't ask me how this works, but it does! If you're interested, you can read all about Goldwell Elumen and the science behind it here.) Because it uses different technology, there's no nasty active PPD contained within it, and as a patch test confirmed, I'm not allergic to it! Yay!

Goldwell Elumen Review 6

Image Source

Goldwell Elumen is usually used to create rainbow colours, so if you're into mermaid/unicorn hair, it's well worth checking out. However, they also have a range of regular shades, including warm honey blondes. I found a salon near me that worked with it, and explained my situation to my new colourist, Lauren. She chose two shades - one to act as a low light to break up the excessive lightness throughout my hair, and the other slightly lighter to use as a toner on the rest. The finished result looked like this, and I couldn't be happier with it.

While Goldwell Elumen is apparently not the best at covering greys, it holds on to bleached hair beautifully, so it's perfect for me to use as a toner. A completely unexpected bonus is that my hair is also a lot softer and shinier after using this, and it seems to be lasting really well too.

I'm definitely going to keep on using Goldwell Elumen, and would recommend that anyone who's allergic to PPD or is just looking for a gentler hair colourant gives it a try.

Do you colour your hair? What's your preferred brand?

Kate x

How to set attainable goals for the new year

How to set attainable goals for the new year 1 - Shein Dress OOTD

Happy 2017 everyone! Did you have a good Christmas? Mine was lovely, apart from the fact that the entire family seemed to take turns getting sick. All plans for New Year's Eve celebrations quickly disappeared by the wayside, and I ended up watching the London fireworks on TV in my pyjamas, drinking lemsip. But in the interests of starting the new year on a positive note, I won't go on about it!

How to set attainable goals for the new year 2 - Shein Dress OOTD

How to set attainable goals for the new year 3 - Shein Dress OOTD

The start of a new year always gets me excited. It's the perfect time to take stock and reflect on the achievements of the past twelve months and to set new goals for the year to come. I don't tend to make the typical health or fitness related resolutions - I've been around long enough by now to know that I just won't stick to them, and that "everything in moderation" is the approach that works best for me when it comes to diet and exercise, throughout the year.

How to set attainable goals for the new year 4 - Shein Dress OOTD

I do, however, love setting goals in other areas, not least this blog. One thing I'm determined to do this year is make sure those goals are attainable. I've always been ambitious, and I see that as a good thing, but in the past I've had a tendency to challenge myself with wildly unrealistic targets. This is counter productive, as all it does is set me up for failure and disappointment. There simply aren't enough hours in the day to start five new hobbies, excel at work, be a domestic goddess and spend more time pampering myself. As for turning into Rosie Huntington-Whitely, it's time to accept that's never going to happen.

It was my husband who first introduced me to the concept of SMART goals. Just in case you haven't heard of it, it's usually used in business but can be applied to anything. The meaning behind the acronym can vary slightly, but in essence it stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-bound. Apply those criteria to any goal you wish to achieve, and you've set yourself nicely on the path to success.

How to set attainable goals for the new year 5 - Shein Dress OOTD

Let's say, for example, that I wanted to set myself a target with my Instagram account this year. When it comes to Instagram, we all dream of having a large following, so it's tempting to set a goal along the lines of getting a certain number of followers by the end of the year. However, ultimately, that's not something I have any control over. No matter what I do, or how hard I work on my Instagram account, I can't force people to follow me (unless, of course, I buy those followers, but that's cheating, and we don't condone cheating, now do we?!) This is a good example of a non-action-oriented goal - There is no action I can take that will directly result in more followers, although of course this is what we all hope for if we create a pretty enough feed.

How to set attainable goals for the new year 6 - Shein Dress OOTD

Instead, it's better to set a goal that's more focused on building my profile and improving the quality of my images, such as getting into a regular weekly posting schedule. To apply the SMART principle to this goal, I would first need to make it Specific - that is, decide exactly what I want to post and when. It then becomes Measurable, because each week I will know whether I have met my target or not. Crucially, unlike the follower-based goal, it's Action-oriented, meaning that my own action (of posting photos) determines my success or failure. Keeping things Realistic is important - for example, one to two pictures per day is probably doable for me, but if I try for much more I risk setting myself up to fail. Finally, I need to make it a Time-bound goal, so I know exactly when I'm going to post each picture, and can make sure I have set aside the time I need.

How to set attainable goals for the new year 7  - Shein Dress OOTD

Dress* - Shein, Blazer - Zara (similar), Bag - Zara (Similar), Shoes - Topshop (Similar), Tights - H&M

By doing this, I set myself a target that I'm actually capable of meeting, which leads to feelings of positivity and, as a result, should spur me on to achieve even more. By contrast, feeling that you've failed to achieve something often leads to negativity and a slump in energy, so what on earth is the point of setting unrealistic targets? Hopefully, by approaching my Instagram goals in this new way, I should end up with a feed I can be proud of and the followers will... well, follow!

You can apply the SMART principle to any goal you want to achieve, whether that's something personal, blog related, career related - anything. I'm definitely going to use it to set new goals for my blog this year.

Have you set any goals for 2017?

Kate x

P.S. If you're based in the UK and fancy winning a Wonderbra, you can still enter my giveaway here.

*Gifted item

Giveaway - Win A Wonderbra

Lingerie Giveaway with Debenhams - Win a Wonderbra 1

This may not be the most Christmassy of posts, but I'm back with another bra review courtesy of Debenhams, and I have to say, I think this one might be the best yet! As always, my UK readers will have the opportunity to win the bra in a giveaway at the end of this post. If that's not a great start to the new year, I don't know what is!

As most of you probably know by now, I'm working with Debenhams on their #knowyoursize campaign, which aims to spread the word about the importance of going for regular bra fittings. It's amazing what a huge impact the right size bra can have on your figure, and as a result, on your confidence. A staggering 8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size bra, so if you haven't been measured for a while, I highly recommend it! If you're based in the UK, you can't go far wrong by popping into your local Debenhams and heading straight to their lingerie department. The service is free and their fitters are well trained and friendly. I personally had a great experience at their flagship store on Oxford Street, which you can read about here if you like.

Lingerie Giveaway with Debenhams - Win a Wonderbra 2

So, onto the latest bra they've sent me for review - the Wonderbra Ultimate Deep Plunge Multiway Bra.* Well known for providing a fantastic "boost" to your assets, I've always found Wonderbra to produce attractive underwear and this is definitely no exception to the rule. Not only is this bra incredibly sleek looking, with its smooth lines and minimal satin trim, it's also pure genius. Completely seamless and cut breathtakingly low at the back as well as the front, this is the bra your plunging dresses and wrap around blouses have been crying out for.

Lingerie Giveaway with Debenhams - Win a Wonderbra 3

Lingerie Giveaway with Debenhams - Win a Wonderbra 4

Debenhams says:

"Unique patented technology offers unrivalled support and the famous Wonderbra cleavage. A must-have bra for deep and plunging necklines. Experience an endless irresistible cleavage and the sexiest effect you have ever had.”

As if that wasn't enough, the multiway straps allow you to wear this as a regular bra, strapless or crossed over at the back. Basically, no matter how challenging that new party dress you've bought, this bra is equal to it.

Lingerie Giveaway with Debenhams - Win a Wonderbra 5

Lingerie Giveaway with Debenhams - Win a Wonderbra 6

I've worn this out on a couple of occasions now and it feels comfortable, but reassuringly firm. It features boning in the centre and at the sides, so although the band sits quite low, the cups mold themselves to your cleavage and hold you in place. This is definitely the most useful addition to my collection for a while and I know it's going to come in handy for a long time to come.

Fancy winning one? Here's what you need to know!
  • This giveaway is UK only
  • The prize is for the Wonderbra Ultimate Deep Plunge Multiway Bra only
  • The bra is available in sizes 32-36A, 32-38 B-D, 30-38DD-F and is worth £35 - the winner will have a choice of black or nude, but, as always, the prize is subject to availability
  • The prize is non-transferable, non-refundable and non-negotiable. No cash alternative is available
  • Debenhams Retail PLC will not be liable for any prizes which are lost, delayed or damaged in the post for reasons beyond their control
Enter here, and best of luck!

Lingerie Giveaway with Debenhams - Win a Wonderbra 7

Are you a Wonderbra fan?

Kate x

 *Item gifted for review. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Christmas Gift Guide - The Huge Homeware Edit

Today I have one last Christmas gift guide for you, just in case any of you still have shopping to do. (I still have and I'm trying not to panic!) I've decided to dedicate this one to homeware. Some of you might remember that I moved house this year, so I have decorating on the brain! I've picked a real mixture of things from some of my favourite homeware stores, so hopefully there's something here that takes your fancy, whether you're still shopping for presents or maybe looking to treat yourself.

Christmas Gift Guide - The Huge Homeware Edit 2016

1. Zara Bathroom Accessories Set - How chic are these?! 
2. Zara Glass Jar - I'd store cotton wool pads in this and keep it on a bathroom shelf.
3. Zara Dish - Perfect for jewellery, trinkets or keys.
7. Zara Mother of Pearl Photo Frame - Zara Home photo frames are my favourite! 
8. Zara Lantern - How beautiful would this look next to a fireplace with a big candle burning inside? 
9. Zara Jug 10. Zara Mirror
11. Next Glasses - I actually own these, and they're gorgeous.
12. H&M Tray 13. Zara Lamp - The perfect bedside lamp.
14. The White Company Hand & Nail Gift Set 15. H&M Salad Servers
16. The White Company Pomegranate Candle - Almost too pretty to burn.
17. The White Company Mirror
18. The White Company Faux Fur Throw - Possibly more luxurious than the Zara one. Definitely more expensive!
19. H&M Cushion 20. The White Company Oven Dish
21. The White Company Bed Linen - Fit for a swanky hotel, or your bedroom. 22. H&M Candle
23. Next Tea Towels -  Cute as a stocking filler. 24. Zara Mug
25. Next Bed Linen - Two sets in a pack, both reversible. 26. Homebase Wall Clock
27. Dunelm Mirror - I have this as well! Love it. 28. The White Company Rug
29. H&M Carafe - Looks way more expensive than it really is.
30. Zara Photo Frame - Did I mention I love Zara photo frames?!

Well, that wraps up my final gift guide of 2016. Will you be giving anyone any homeware themed gifts this Christmas, or hoping to receive any yourself?

Kate x

Christmas Gift Guide - One for the Boys

A couple of weeks ago, I published my Beauty Lovers' Christmas Gift Guide. Since I think most girls aged 15 to 150 would find something they like there, I've decided to dedicate this next one to all the gorgeous men in our lives. After all, men are notoriously harder to shop for, right? I've put a mixed bag together here, so hopefully there's some nice ideas that would work for anyone's partner/dad/brother etc. There's also a mix of price points and brands, although I do feel I should apologise for the amount of Hugo Boss stuff I've included - it's a favourite of my husband's, and, apparently, of mine!

Men's Christmas Gift Guide 2016

1. Howick Jumper - I love buying knitwear for Mike at Christmas, as it's something he doesn't often buy for himself. This style is so classic I think it would suit most guys, and it's available in grey as well if you're not crazy about the blue. A "goes with everything" winner.

2. Sony Headphones - If he commutes to work and hates it, these could help. They're noise cancelling, wireless and have an impressive battery life. I think they're quite stylish too, and reasonably priced compared to some other brands.

3. Clinique For Men Gift Set - This set has a face scrub, soothing aloe shave gel, a face wash and a moisturiser with SPF, all wrapped up in this smart toilet bag. Very handy for travelling. 

4. Skate Hut New Era beanie hat - You can't go wrong with a beanie hat. Classic, warm and cosy and definitely a necessity throughout the winter months! I really like the colour of this one, and the flecked detail.

5. Linea Scarf - To go with the hat!

6. Ray Ban Sunglasses - I know I would love to receive sunglasses as a gift, so I'm sure guys would too! Ray Ban is always a surefire people pleaser, whoever you're shopping for. 

7. Hugo Boss Kimono Robe - There's something a little bit James Bond about this dressing gown, no?!

8. Hugo Boss Gloves - Real leather gloves always make a nice little luxurious gift at Christmas time. These are wool lined and I like the cuff detail - perfect for keeping his wrists warm.

9. Professor Puzzle Tangram - No, I didn't know what a tangram was either. Apparently it's a brain teaser, where you take all these wooden shapes out of a frame and then attempt to fit them all back in again. I think puzzles make a nice change as a gift, and they can come in handy on Christmas Day when people get bored!

10. Hugo Boss Watch - A slightly swankier gift, yet this is still reasonably priced considering how nice it is. I really love the simplicity of this style and think a lot of guys would love it.

11. Hugo Boss Holdall - This is expensive, but would last a lifetime. My husband has something similar to this and loves using it for weekends away. (I, on the other hand, need a full size suitcase and a massive tote bag.)

12. Hugo Boss Socks - Always useful, always smart. The perfect stocking filler.

Are the men in your life difficult to buy for? What will you be getting them this Christmas?

Kate x

*This post is in collaboration with Skate Hut. All opinions, as always, are my own.
Previous PostOlder Posts