Sunday, 22 April 2018

PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver: An Affordable Way To Maintain Your Ash Blonde Hair

PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver Shampoo and Conditioner Review

Let me take you back to last summer when I first took the plunge and finally went full ash blonde with my hair.  Since my hair is naturally a fairly light warm blonde, achieving the ash tone I wanted involved a long trip to top Sunderland hair dressers, Frances Marshall and a fresh supply of toning haircare products to maintain the look back home.

Back then, I opted for the PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver range which is the UK's No.1 purple shampoo that can brighten your blonde hair in just one wash!  I've been using it on and off for many years now as an affordable way to maintain the desired tone of my blonde hair, from when I first started to get a full head of highlights to last summer when I went all ash blonde.  Now I've tried out all of these products here and used the last drops so I thought I'd share with you what I thought about them and how I maintained my cool toned look.

The salon visit full head of pre-lightener with protecting Smartbond followed by an ash blonde L'Oréal Professionnel colour and then a toner to neutralise the warmth and a second toner to tone the hair ash and I was ready to leave the salon with the cool toned locks I'd always dreamed of... but that wasn't going to be the end of my ash blonde hair care.

Despite being a natural blonde with relatively fair hair, the ash blonde is classed as a high maintenance colour for me because my hair kicks out so much warmth.  Those warm tones need to be neutralised and usually, or so I found, that meant a return trip to the salon for a second colour and tone as often it could wash up after the first salon visit.  This is to be expected when you're dealing with hair thats been bleached as the cuticles are dramatically raised, making the hair more porous so it doesn't retain the colour that's then applied on top very effectively.  Since the second colour is completed without any bleach, the hair usually grabs onto the colour with much better results.


UK Blogger WhatLauraLoves promoting the TSB Pride Of Britain Awards 2017 in Newcastle in a Mini Cooper
My hair when I first had a full head of pre-lightener and ash blonde from my post with TSB and Pride of Britain
Maintaining the ash blonde tone doesn't stop with a second salon visit as a full aftercare routine is needed at home to keep the brassy, warm tones at bay which is essential when you've spent so long getting your hair to that hair colour.

There are countless products on the market for toning the hair while cleansing and conditioning it and PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver is one of the more well known brands at the affordable end of the spectrum.  I've been using their products on my hair for years, quite possibly longer than I've actually been blogging, as even when I only had highlights, I still loved my hair to be a cooler tone.

I bought my first ever bottle of Touch Of Silver from Boots on the recommendation of countless friends and my hairdresser at the time.  Over the years they've expanded their range which is great to see and while I've tried out other brands, they're definitely one that I'm happy to go back to, especially if I'm feeling the pinch and looking for more affordable hair care.


PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver Shampoo and Conditioner Review

The Touch of Silver range can be used on blonde, platinum, white or grey hair to keep it looking bright and salon fresh.  A lot of products that you'll find that neutralise the yellow or brassy tones in hair are purple in colour and Touch Of Silver is no different.  That's because it works with the colour wheel and since violent tones are on the opposite side of the spectrum to the yellow, brassy colours, they neutralise them.

While I'm very familiar with the shampoos and conditioners this time around I used the PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver Pre-Toning Primer which is designed for very dry, damaged or bleached hair.  While I do always have L'Oreal Smartbond applied when I have my colour done, if you're having bleach applied to your hair, its going to encounter some damage that's for sure so even if it looks healthy, it wont be as healthy as hair that hasn't been chemically treated.

The Pre-Toning Primer is designed to be used as part of a three step routine with the PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver Brightening Shampoo and the Intensive Conditioner of which it is the first initial step.  Application is simple, just spritz through the hair before shampooing.

It is designed to prepare the hair for the toning treatment that the shampoo and conditioner provides by smoothing the cuticles of the hair.  I do find that the other products work just as well without this step so if you don't want to go to the extra expense then I think that you can skip this product but it does have other uses.

The Pre-Toning Primer can also be used as a leave in conditioner as the last step in your in-shower hair care routine because it has a moisturising and strengthening formula that detangles, protects and locks in intense shine.  It also helps to protect against the formation of split ends from the first use.  I personally see the benefit of this much more as a leave-in conditioner than as a pre-toning treatment.  So my suggestion would be to try it and do whatever works for you!

The PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver Brightening Shampoo and Touch Of Silver Intensive Conditioner however do exactly what they say on the bottle.  The shampoo contains violet pigments that do an incredible job at neutralising brassy yellow tones in the hair and literally work from the very first wash.  I would apply this as I would do any shampoo but I'd leave it on my hair for a few minutes, perhaps while doing a body scrub, before washing it out.

The bottle does say that you can leave it on for up to 5 minutes which I have tried before and the effect was a lot more intense and I had some gorgeous silver tones in my hair afterwards but the look that I usually go for is a less silvery grey and more ash blonde.  While the bottle suggests 2 times a week use, this was too much for me and I'd use it on every third wash which is more like once a week or just over for me and that was more than enough to maintain my colour.

The PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver Intensive Conditioner is a great follow up to the brightening shampoo because it contains restorative proteins that target dry, damaged and colour treated hair to leave it smoother and more nourished.  It has a nourishing blend of anti-ageing properties, optical brighteners and a keratin complex that aims to rebuild the hair and protect its structure to make it healthier and shinier.  I would leave this conditioner on for far longer than the shampoo, say for 5 to 8 minutes while I shave, and it would leave my hair soft but not weighed down once I'd washed it out.  It isn't a conditioner that is intense enough for me to use alone, I still need to use a hair mask once a week and my Smartbond treatment but it is a great every wash conditioner.

Together, these two would leave my hair looking bright, shiny and super ash blonde!

PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver Shampoo and Conditioner Review
For the days when you're not using the other shampoo and conditioner, the brand have developed the daily use PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver Colour Care Shampoo to cleanse and care and the Colour Care Conditioner to moisturise and shine.

The shampoo is designed to gently cleanse the hair to keep the colour looking bright and to prevent dulling and colour build-up, ultimately protecting the look achieved with the other shampoo.  It contains anti-oxidants and optical brighteners that boost shine and the formula works to safeguard your hair colour by protecting it against environmental pollution.  The result is clean hair that feels renewed without any stripping feeling whatsoever.

UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves with ash blonde hair from Sunderland salon Frances Marshall
My ash blonde hair after the second colour and tone in an image from a Yours Clothing outfit post
The PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver Colour Care Conditioner is the perfect accompaniment to the shampoo as it moisturises the hair right to the tips which helps with damage by smoothing the texture and leaving it with a silky finish.  This product also contains optical brighteners to boost the shine and vibrancy of the hair colour, further preventing dulling.  After I use this conditioner, my hair feels soft and looks in great condition.

I would use the two together once a week say on every second wash, with the intense shampoo and conditioner on every third and then on the other wash and condition in my rotation, I'd use a really nourishing shampoo and my Smartbond treatment or hair mask.  The cycle of one wash and condition to nourish and treat  for healthy locks, one to remove the brassy tones and give me the colour I love and one to maintain that colour seems to really work for me.

PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver Intensive Keratin Treatment Shots

While I'm very well accustomed to the shampoo and conditioner from Touch Of Silver, last summer was my first time trying out something new that I hadn't used from them before; the PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver Intensive Keratin Treatment Shots.

They come in a pack of three and can be used either as a one-off pick me up or as part of a regular hair routine.  I intended to use these once a week but I found that they didn't work well with my hair so stopped using them after the first shot.

The Intensive Keratin Treatment Shots are designed as an intensive rescue to repair damaged hair leaving it softer, smoother, straighter and easier to style.  However I found that this product did the opposite to my hair and it left it feeling dry and a little brittle which wasn't easier to style.  I find that dryness is indicative of a lot of Keratin treatments so whether they just don't work for me, I don't know but I wouldn't recommend the shots on the back of this.  Plus using the shots is a bit of a faff on as you have to mix the solution with warm water, whereas I do prefer products that are already mixed and ready to go.  However I do think that the shampoos and conditioners are great for toning ash blonde hair on a budget.

If you want to keep your locks more of a cool, ash tone then you really do need a purple/violet/silver (or whatever you want to call it!) shampoo and conditioner and if you're on a budget or not wanting to spend a lot of money on your haircare, especially as salon visits are usually so pricey, then the PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver range is a great option to go for.

If you're looking to compare purple/silver shampoos and want to check out some of my other reviews, then let me point you in the direction of the following:


If the PRO:VOKE Touch Of Silver range takes your fancy then you can shop it online and instore at Superdrug and Boots.

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What are your favourite haircare products?  Do you maintain the tone of your hair at home? I'd love to know what you use!
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Friday, 20 April 2018

Feeling Overwhelmed? Here's What To Do When It All Gets Too Much

Casual Outfit Post featuring CurveWOW and Yours Clothing with tips on what to do when feeling overwhelmed by UK Plus Size Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Mental health, stress, worry; it affects all of us in one way or another.  It is as important to look after our mind as it is our body, perhaps even more so because how we think and feel about ourselves and our lives can have a direct impact on how we treat our own body.

After battling with my own mental health over the years, I've become very in tune with my feelings to know what I need and when I need it.  I know that I'm an anxious person whose mind is constantly going and while I can put on a bloody good front on the outside, on the inside, I'm often bubbling away until suddenly I become so overwhelmed that I feel as though I could burst with emotion.  When I feel like this, everyday seems as though its groundhog day and negative thoughts and experiences easily overshadow the positive.

Casual Outfit Post featuring CurveWOW and Yours Clothing with tips on what to do when feeling overwhelmed by UK Plus Size Blogger WhatLauraLoves

You can have what seems like the most perfect life in the world filled with so many amazing things but that doesn't mean that you're living your best life at your happiest with a healthy, positive mindset.

I'm sure so many of us have felt like this from time to time and the important thing is being able to acknowledge when you're feeling that way early on, work out what it is that you need to make yourself feel better and having the courage to pull yourself out of it.

Please always remember: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

I've felt like this at so many points in my life but its this year that I am determined to combat these feelings and now that we're into the fourth month, I feel as though I'm starting to get a handle on it and I'm ready to talk about what works for me... or at least what is working for me so far.

My top tips for what to do when it all gets too much...

Casual Outfit Post featuring CurveWOW and Yours Clothing with tips on what to do when feeling overwhelmed by UK Plus Size Blogger WhatLauraLoves

ITS OK NOT TO BE OK
Firstly, you need to realise that its ok not to be ok.  If you need help, you need help, its as simple as that.  Nothing is too trivial, if it matters to you then it is significant.  There is no shame in acknowledging that things are getting on top of you and that you are reaching out for help.

THINK POSITIVELY
As hard as it may seem, look to the good in each situation and when you're faced with a mammoth task, visualise how awesome you'll feel when you've accomplished it.  There's a lot that can be said for positive thinking and while it also requires positive action, keeping out of a negative mindset will steer you on the right track.

TAKE A BREAK
When everything's getting on top of you and you can't see a way out of all of the stuff that you have to do or worry about, my first bit of advice is to take a break.

It doesn't have to be for very long, even just grabbing a fifteen minute breather can help.  Get outside, walk around and clear your head.  Walk mindfully, take in your surroundings, focus on your breath and appreciate what's around you.  Taking time out of your day when you have so much on may seem like a waste of time but its a great way to divert your attention from what needs to be done, to calm you down and chill you out so that you can start thinking more clearly.

Sometimes taking a break can mean something a little longer.  It might be that you could really do with a spa day, weekend away or a two week holiday in the Costa Del Sol.  Whatever it is, listen to your body and mind and if you're able to, make it happen.  Sometimes I'd give anything to be locked in the house with a power cut just to have a break haha!

Casual Outfit Post featuring CurveWOW and Yours Clothing with tips on what to do when feeling overwhelmed by UK Plus Size Blogger WhatLauraLoves

TALK TO A FRIEND
When the going gets tough, that's when you really need your friends.  In the last year, I've really learnt who my real friends are and there's been a few who have become the most amazing confidents.

I have one friend in particular who is a total go-getter.  She's packed full of positivity, is so motivated and really good at focusing on what needs to be done.  She's the one I can call up crying when everything's getting on top of me and she'll help me to prioritise, focus and will often come over to help me.  I couldn't be more grateful for having such a positive, proactive force in my life.

It really is true that a problem shared is a problem halved so if you're feeling mega stressed out and as though everything is getting too much for you, then talk to someone.  Tell them whats bothering you, let them know you're struggling and ask for help if you need it.  There may be something that they can do to help you; don't be afraid to delegate.  If you're the kind of friend who would help them out in their time of need then they're not going to be mad at you when you need them.

Whoever you turn to, friend, family member, stranger or samaritan, just know that they're there to help you.  Its ok for you to cry on their shoulders and scream out in frustration and its certainly ok for you to accept help from them too.

Casual Outfit Post featuring CurveWOW and Yours Clothing with tips on what to do when feeling overwhelmed by UK Plus Size Blogger WhatLauraLoves

MEDITATE
Meditation may not sound like your kinda thing; I'll admit, it wasn't mine until recent years when I downloaded the Calm App and had mindfulness classes to help with my anxiety and panic attacks.  Meditating, even for a five minutes can calm you right down and focus your mind.  Its a real skill that you need to learn and develop but once you've cracked it, the art of meditation could really help you when you feel as though everything is getting on top of you.

Often its difficult to focus on the present when we're feeling overwhelmed by a hectic lifestyle which is why meditating is so essential as not only is it very good at reducing stress levels but its great for getting you to focus on the here and now as well.

Casual Outfit Post featuring CurveWOW and Yours Clothing with tips on what to do when feeling overwhelmed by UK Plus Size Blogger WhatLauraLoves

TAKE A NAP & GET AN EARLY NIGHT
I'm a firm believer that a lot of good can be achieved from a nap and a good nights sleep.  When I had an accident several years ago, I really struggled mentally as well as physically.  I used to be someone who could keep all the plates spinning at once but suddenly I'd become someone who found everything so overwhelming and I'd be that stressed out and worried that I couldn't seem to get anything done let alone one thing.

When the day isn't working out, when you're feeling sad, exhausted or stressed out, there's no shame in taking yourself off to bed for a half an hour power nap.  I sometimes do this and play the celestial beams track from the Calm App while I'm dozing off.  I lie there and focus on the music and breathing deeply, along the same lines as meditation but if I feel myself drifting off then I allow myself to.  When I wake back up, I see it as a fresh start, a clean slate and I start to work my way down my to-do list.

While its not always convenient to go for a nap, what is essential is having an early night with plenty of rest.  Generally if you're feeling overwhelmed and as though you can't cope, the chances are you'll also be exhausted at the same time and its so much easier to feel as though you can't cope when you're shattered.  Even if you have a mountain of work to do, get an early night, rest up and your mind, soul and body will thank you for it in the morning.  She says typing this at 4am!

Casual Outfit Post featuring CurveWOW and Yours Clothing with tips on what to do when feeling overwhelmed by UK Plus Size Blogger WhatLauraLoves

TRACK YOUR FEELINGS
When you feel overwhelmed with stress and you're working on improving your life and situation, its important to acknowledge the little milestones, the quick wins and the things that make you feel successful.  Track your feelings be it in the notes section of your phone or written down on paper in a notebook.

When you're tracking how you're feeling, its easier to see when your mood is starting to improve and its easier to notice triggers for low mood, poor self care and low productivity too, particularly if you've recorded the amount of hours that you've slept for as this often goes hand in hand.  This article on Buzzfeed has logs of great examples of how to track feelings and emotions.

Casual Outfit Post featuring CurveWOW and Yours Clothing with tips on what to do when feeling overwhelmed by UK Plus Size Blogger WhatLauraLoves

LIST, PRIORITISE, DELEGATE & IGNORE
If it feels as though you physically haven't got enough hours in the day to get everything done that you need to make a list of the things that you need to do.  Prioritising tasks, delegating efficiently and ignoring unnecessary tasks are a must here.

List the top three things that you must get done and write them in order of priority.  If it helps, list next to those the mini tasks that you need to do in order to complete them.  Be brutal when you're prioritising and try not to let your decision be clouded by emotion as far too often we make decisions based on our heart rather than our head especially if we're tired.  Its best to focus on the things that we MUST get done before looking at the things that would be nice if we were to complete them.  Its easy to end up procrastinating with these things.

Delegate tasks to your friends and family that don't need to be done by you so that you can focus on the things that you must complete.  For example, if you're stressing out about having to go get food shopping and post parcels as well as finishing a report for work, you focus on the report and kindly ask your friend if they could swing by the supermarket for you.  What, out of the things that you have to do, do you not actually need to do?  These tasks need to be ignored; you've got more important things to focus on.

Casual Outfit Post featuring CurveWOW and Yours Clothing with tips on what to do when feeling overwhelmed by UK Plus Size Blogger WhatLauraLoves

STREAMLINE YOUR AVENUES & WORK SMARTER
One of my big focuses this year is on streamlining what I'm doing work wise and my goal is to achieve the work/life balance that I've longed for over the years.

Last summer my life changed dramatically and suddenly I was on this track where I just had to keep going and going.  I couldn't stop because there was so much uncertainty in my life.  I said yes to work projects outside of my blog that I didn't really want to do but I took them on because I felt as though I had to and soon enough, I was living like a hamster on a wheel, just going round and round, unable to get off.

There's more about this in another post coming up but my best advice to you all is to know when to say no, streamline your work and work smarter.  When you're feeling overwhelmed because you have so many different things to do, if you're able to get rid of some and put more time, effort and focus on a smaller amount, you can often be far more successful.  I mostly find that this is the case because your mind isn't having to focus on so many different things!

Casual Outfit Post featuring CurveWOW and Yours Clothing with tips on what to do when feeling overwhelmed by UK Plus Size Blogger WhatLauraLoves

SAY NO
The greatest lesson to be learned here though is when to say no.  Looking after yourself has to be your main priority so when things are getting too much, don't feel obliged to take on anything extra, go to that party that you don't really want to go to or get involved in that extra work or university project.

Saying no is really powerful because it gives you control over your life... try it!


Casual Outfit Post featuring CurveWOW and Yours Clothing with tips on what to do when feeling overwhelmed by UK Plus Size Blogger WhatLauraLoves


SHOP MY OUTFIT


If you love the outfit that I'm wearing in this post then you can shop it on the links above.  Its cool, casual and perfect for a spring day whether you're running errands, going to the park with the kids or shopping with friends.

The top that I'm wearing is from CurveWOW and they're offering my readers 10% OFF when they use the discount code WhatLauraLoves10. I'm sure you'll have seen these designer inspired t shirts everywhere, they look gorgeous whether you're dressing them up or down!  This one is a really soft, stretchy and generous fit so I'd keep that in mind when ordering.  I got mine in a 22 but I think I could have easily ordered a 16 or 18.

What do you do when it all gets too much?  What advice would you give to someone else?
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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

5 Steps To Enjoy A Spring Morning

How To Enjoy A Spring Morning, Plus Size Fashion, WhatLauraLoves, Yours Clothing at The Alnwick Garden

Finally, the clocks have gone forward and the lighter mornings are here to stay... for now!

There's something about the spring and summer AM that has me waking up with more energy and an even greater zest for life.

I am by no means a morning person but when the sun is in the sky and I'm not rushing around, I certainly have a far more relaxed, enjoyable morning before I have to head out the door to work and you can too with these 5 steps to enjoy a spring morning...

How To Enjoy A Spring Morning, Plus Size Fashion, WhatLauraLoves, Yours Clothing at The Alnwick Garden

1. WAKE UP EARLY

All great mornings start the night before with an early night, after prepping your bag and clothes for the morning, doing your skincare and setting an alarm.

I like to use my Lumie Bodyclock because it gradually gets lighter half an hour before my alarm is due to go off which helps to wake me up much more naturally.

In the dead of winter, I'm rarely up early but in the warmer months, I love to seize the day and get up a good hour or two before I actually need to leave the house.  This means that I can get what I need to done and I'm not rushing around, especially if I'm going to work as I find that if I start my morning more relaxed then I'm more prepared for work by the time that I get there.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+ SPF 30 and Unifant Tinted Moisturiser

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+ SPF 30 and Unifant Tinted Moisturiser

2.  GET REFRESHED

I enjoy my mornings  most when I have time for a refreshing shower and a little pamper.  I tie my hair up, jump in and use a minty or citrus shower gel to start to pull me around into reality.  After using my mintiest toothpaste to really wake me up, I move onto my skincare.

Setting aside time to do my skincare is one of my favourite ways to start my day.  Pampering my skin is so enjoyable; I cleanse (currently using this Elemental Herbology cleanser), tone, apply my serum and then moisturise.

Right now, its a choice between two lightweight bases and they're both from La Roche-Posay.

First up, theres the daytime moisturiser that I go when I'm going to be wearing make up for the day and that's the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+ SPF 30 which is great for correcting imperfections while giving you some sun protection too.  If you're wanting to correct skin imperfections then you need to be concerned about the sun too as daily UV exposure can lead to hyper pigmentation and premature skin ageing!

This moisturiser is ideal for oily skin like mine or for those who have blemish prone skin as it helps to clear blocked pores to reduce blackheads.  It feels really lightweight on the skin, doesn't clog the pores and it is free from parabens.  There's Niacinamide in the formula which purifies the skin, an LHA solution that exfoliates and Salicylic Acid which helps to draw out impurities and repair damaged cells on the surface of the skin.  I like to wear this moisturiser on days when I'm going to be wearing makeup because it leaves my skin looking and feeling soft, shine free and makeup sits really nicely on top of it.


How To Enjoy A Spring Morning, Plus Size Fashion, WhatLauraLoves, Yours Clothing at The Alnwick Garden

On days when I'm not wanting to wear makeup, which is A LOT of the time, then I like to wear the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo+ Unifant Tinted Moisturiser which is available in light and medium of which I use the latter when I've got a little bit of a tan.  I wish they'd bring out a dark shade for the darker skinned beauties out there as I'm sure so many girls would love it!

Essentially, its a tinted version of the other one that I use but without the SPF in it so I make sure to layer it up with a separate one.  Think of it as treatment for the skin with coverage.  Of course you can layer it up with foundation and the rest of your daily makeup but the beauty of using this one is that I don't need to.  It leaves my skin with a hint of tint and perfecting coverage which is all I need for no makeup days, especially when my brows are already tinted and shaped and I've got my Essential Beauty lash extensions on.

It makes the perfect lightweight base, leaves my skin looking perfected and hydrated and doesn't clog my pores.  I couldn't ask for more!

How To Enjoy A Spring Morning, Plus Size Fashion, WhatLauraLoves, Yours Clothing at The Alnwick Garden

3. BREAKFAST

The third step to enjoying a spring morning is without a doubt, found in the tummy.  Whether you go out for breakfast or dine in, enjoying a tasty meal washed down with a good ol' cup of coffee like Organo Gold is certainly a great way to start the day.

I have a balcony on my apartment so when the days are sunny and the weathers warm, I like to cook up a toasted bagel, bacon and smashed avocado and head out to sit on there in my dressing gown because no, I really don't care what other people think!  

How To Enjoy A Spring Morning, Plus Size Fashion, WhatLauraLoves, Yours Clothing at The Alnwick Garden

How To Enjoy A Spring Morning, Plus Size Fashion, WhatLauraLoves, Yours Clothing at The Alnwick Garden

4. SPEED SPRING CLEANING

This might come as a bit of a surprise to you but my next step to enjoying a spring morning is with a spot of cleaning.  I'm not suggesting getting the marigolds out and bleaching the house from top to bottom but if you've been up early and have time before you need to leave the house, then pick up some of the things you've had lying around and tidy them away.

I pop on some music and tend to challenge myself to tidy up while one or two songs are on.  I always feel so much better about my space when its tidier and having done a little bit of speed cleaning, I feel as though I've already got my day off to a productive start.  This does wonders for my positivity and the productive approach tends to filter through my day too!

How To Enjoy A Spring Morning, Plus Size Fashion, WhatLauraLoves, Yours Clothing at The Alnwick Garden

5. GO OUTDOORS

The last step to enjoying a spring morning is to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine.  Whether its taking a stroll on the treehouse bridges at The Alnwick Garden like I am here wearing my Yours Clothing casual wear or power walking along the coast, get outside, get your heart pumping and enjoy the world around you.  Even if you're on your way to work, maybe take a different route, go a little earlier and walk around near to wear your office is or take a change of clothes with you and find one of those outdoor gyms.

Whatever you do, its all about getting your blood pumping, clearing your mind and enjoying the start to your day!

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What are your steps to enjoy a spring morning?  What skincare do you like to use?  Whats your favourite brekkie?
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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Mental Health Matters: It's #TimeToInvest With The Prince's Trust


Have you ever felt pressured, stressed, lost or hopeless?


Throughout my life, I have struggled with my mental health.  For all I can put a brave face on it in on social media, the reality has, at times, been far from rosy.  I feel like I've battled with my emotions for a lot of my life, I've felt pressure coming at me from all angles and the stress and worry has been unbearable at times.  Whether its about school or my career, family, friendships, health or relationships, I've worried and stressed about it all.

As I've grown up, I've learnt techniques to help me to cope but its not been easy and it still isn't now.  I find that its often hard to access adequate support but it is even harder to decipher what support is needed in the first place.



One of the biggest worries in my life that I'm sure many of you can relate to has been my career.  From tests at school to choosing and studying for A Levels and my degree to going for interviews, getting a job and progressing in my career, the whole lot signals pressure, stress, unease and worry for me.  My confidence has often held me back as at times, I've known what I was doing and how to do something but I've not had the confidence to do it which has held me back from reaching for the next step and going for interviews to progress.

I found it especially hard in my adult life when I had an accident that really affected me physically and mentally which really knocked my confidence in my own ability.  Its taken me a long time to get to where I am today and I haven't felt adequately supported; at times, I've been so lost that I thought I'd never get through things that have happened to me.  Overcoming obstacles has built my self esteem and given me more confidence in my ability and I want to inspire others to feel that way too which is one of the reasons why I'm so passionate about being a Digital Ambassador for The Prince's Trust.

The Prince's Trust have launched the second phase of their Youth Index report which explores the views of 16 to 25 year olds in the UK.  It found that the happiness of young people was being affected because they weren't confident in what the future would hold for them.

The results paint a worrying picture of a pressured generation who feel their ability to shape their future is slipping away from them and I can certainly empathise with how they feel and have experienced many of the findings myself as I have grown up.

Over 2000 young people across the UK were surveyed and the results are worrying but as someone who isn't too far away from that age bracket, not entirely unpredictable.

WHAT ARE THE KEY FINDINGS?
  • 61% of young people regularly feel stressed
  • More than 25% of young people say they regularly feel hopeless
  • Young people’s happiness and confidence in their emotional health have dropped to the lowest levels ever recorded
  • 25% of working young people feel trapped in a cycle of jobs they don’t want
  • 59% of working young people feel they need opportunities to develop their skills before they can think about career options
  • 54% of all young people believe a lack of self-confidence holds them back

In light of the findings, The Prince's Trust are going to call on the government and employers to promote positive mental wellbeing and support young people into fulfilling, sustainable careers.

Not only that, but they have so many of their own programmes that support young people with their confidence, wellbeing, life and work skills to help give them a brighter future.

The programmes really are fantastic; I got to sit in on an Enterprise course at the new The Prince's Trust Cheryl's Trust Centre in Newcastle and I loved the straightforward, helpful and nurturing environment.  It really is a place where everyone can thrive no matter their ability.  I'm a firm believer that no matter the socio-economic background, everyone should have access to resources and support to help them to achieve their goals and succeed in life and that's exactly what The Prince's Trust are providing.


Do you know a young person aged between 11 and 30 years old in the UK who could benefit from one of the Princes Trust programmes?

Perhaps you're struggling with your own mental health, struggling to get back into work or education following a hard time or just generally in need of some assistance, then The Prince's Trust FREE programmes can support you.  Theres a range of online and in person courses that can help to build skills, confidence and self esteem so check them out on their website.

You can find out all about how The Prince's Trust are helping young people everyday on their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages and if you use and search the hashtag #TimeToInvest you'll be able to join in the chat!

What do you think about the statistics?
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Sunday, 8 April 2018

My Journey To Plus Size Bikini Body Confidence

Bikini Body Confidence Simply Be Plus Size Bikini WhatLauraLoves Blogger

Since launching the #TakeThePledge campaign and posting plus size bikini photos from my trip to Costa Rica, I have been overwhelmed by the number of women who have contacted me to say that they've felt inspired to buy a bikini to wear on holiday for the first time.

I wanted to write this post to let you all know that I've been there too, girls!  My road to wearing a bikini and feeling body confident has been a long and rocky one but also realistic and I want to share it with you.  I'd love to say that I came singing and dancing out of the womb wearing a two piece but thats just not the case and while I'm so confident in a bikini now, I haven't always felt this way.

I hope that my words come across in the way that I intend them to, with no offence or upset intended; this is simply my journey, how I've felt along the way, what I've learned and how I feel now.

It took me until the age of 28 before I ever wore a bikini and while I don't like to live life with regrets, I wish I'd worn one sooner.  I've discovered that bikinis fit me far better than any swimwear ever has because I'm so long in the body, thanks to my low hanging tummy.  Plus, I'm far more cool around the pool when I wear one and I get the most awesome tan.  Its a win-win situation all round!


Bikini Body Confidence Simply Be Plus Size Bikini WhatLauraLoves Blogger

I had my first experience of wearing a bikini last January when I was taking a much needed social media break in the Maldives.  I was staying in a water bungalow facing out to the Indian Ocean and I was determined to return uber relaxed and with the most incredible tan.

When holiday shopping around Christmas 2016, I decided to take the plunge and order a bikini.  Generally speaking, I buy the vast majority of my swimwear from Simply Be; they have the best range of plus size swimwear in a multitude of sizes, styles and designs and over the years, I've always been able to find something for myself on there.  When it came to ordering my first ever bikini, Simply Be was naturally my first point of call.

Trying on my first proper bikini was an exhilarating experience; I'd never worn one before, not even as a child, and I'd always thought that I wasn't the right shape for a bikini and that I would find more confidence wearing a swimsuit around the pool.  Feeling restricted to swimsuits didn't stop me from enjoying my holidays.  I'd just find one that I loved the pattern, colours or style of and that covered my tummy and then I'd head on out and have an awesome time.

I've never been someone who felt like they had to keep their clothes on around the pool because I've always been able to appear outwardly confident which has meant that I've always been quite happy to lie around in a swimming costume  catching the rays and loving life.  My size has never stopped me from enjoying a holiday in that way.  I liked how my swimming costumes looked and I was confident that they were the best fit that I was ever going to get from what was available to me online.

However now I know that there isn't a "right shape" for a bikini or any garment for that matter, its all about finding something that you love and feel great in, then that item is right for you.

When my bikinis arrived from Simply Be, I popped them on and stood looking at myself amazed in the mirror.  I'd chosen styles, colours and patterns that I felt would suit me and ordered several different sizes in each piece to give me the best chance of getting an accurate fit, in just the same way as I have done in the past with swimming costumes and tankinis and low and behold, they did suit me.  In fact, they were a better fit!  Not only that but I felt absolutely incredible  in them and I remember dancing around my bedroom feeling absolutely elated!

While away on holiday, I chose to wear my new bikinis over my swimming costumes around 80% of the time and I felt so fantastic for it.  I was able to chill out and relax in the sun, get an awesome tan (safely thanks to my favourite Clarins SPF) and keep cooler than I would in a swimming costume.  

Such a great experience gave me the confidence to try bikinis on future holidays and believe it or not, IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE.  I know, shock horror!

Bikini Body Confidence Simply Be Plus Size Bikini WhatLauraLoves Blogger

When I ventured to Bali that summer to stay at the incredible Bliss Sanctuary For Women and then to Crete on a much needed girly holiday, I looked at the bikinis I had, what I loved and didn't like about each one and then I sought to improve my choices for those trips to enable me to feel even more bikini confident.

In Bali, I was at a retreat with a small number of women and I was wearing the most fabulous sarongs over the top of my bikini while I was walking around.  One day, I got up off the sun lounger, thought oh to hell with it, and walked to my room without putting the sarong on and do you know what happened? NOTHING.  Not a single bloody thing.

By the time I got to Crete with my friend I was strutting around the pool as happy as an orca released from Sea World without a care in the world and finally I thought, I'm living.


Bikini Body Confidence Simply Be Plus Size Bikini WhatLauraLoves Blogger


I'd suddenly got over myself and realised that people were far too busy enjoying their own holidays around the pool to pay any attention to what I was wearing and if there was anyone out there that was bothered about what I looked like in anything I was wearing, around the pool or on social media for that matter, then they really needed to focus on improving their own happiness rather than trying to destroy mine.

It wasn't a realisation about wearing a bikini, it was about wearing anything be it a swimsuit, bikini, polo neck, jumpsuit, mini skirt or whatever.  I should wear whatever I choose to wear as long as I feel good in it and others should feel free to do the same.  There is no right or wrong way to look in your body or the clothes that you choose to dress it in.

By the time I went to Lanzarote last November and Costa Rica in January, I was hooked.  I placed an order online for more bikinis and low and behold, I felt fabulous in them, just like this black one from the Beach to Beach range at Simply Be.

Bikini Body Confidence Simply Be Plus Size Bikini WhatLauraLoves Blogger

Choosing the right swimwear is all about selecting pieces that you love the look of and love how they make you feel when you wear them. No one has the right to tell you what that should and shouldn’t be. There’s so many places to draw inspiration from and you can take that inspo and adapt it to work for you.

For me, black is a classic colour and therefore a fail safe swimwear option as it looks so stylish whether I'm tanned or pale.  This particular range from Simply Be has plenty of options so you can try it whether you're a bikini, tankini or swimsuit gal!

I'm a bikini girl now and the bottoms I'm wearing here are the Beach to Beach Bikini Short in Black.  They're comfortable, fit nicely and I can mix and match them with so many different tops.  Plus the sizing is spot on which makes shopping online so much easier.

I love high waisted styles for bikini bottoms simply because I feel as though they look the best on my body and that gives me an added confidence boost.  I'm really long in the body and my tummy tends to pull everything down so if I opt for more of a brief style, the chances are they'll either sit under my tummy or roll down which tends to make me feel more self conscious so high waisted is the best way forward for me.


However it is the Beach to Beach Bikini Top that I love the most from this pairing.  It is cut beautifully; I find that it enhances my chest which I love as I’m actually quite small busted for my body size, and it sits high under the arms so it keeps me in place!  While I'm not adverse to showing the flabby bit underneath my arms (hey, its a part of me and I love it just as much as the rest!), if I can smooth it over then that's my preference and this bikini does that perfectly.  Its all about what makes you feel confident and beautiful on the inside and out!

Its hard to believe that in the space of a year, I went from feeling restricted in my swimwear to feeling body confident and able to wear whatever I want (and rightly so!).

I'm living proof that EVERYONE has a bikini body.  I love my body in a bikini and its ok for you to love your body in yours too.

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How confident do you feel in your swimwear?  What do you love to wear around the pool?
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