Saturday, 30 June 2018

Mane 'n Tail The Original Shampoo and Conditioner Review

Mane 'n Tail Shampoo and Conditioner Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves

From the moment I saw the branding of Mane 'n Tail, I knew that I needed to give their shampoo and conditioner a go.

They're the original horse to human hair cross over haircare company with promises of fuller, stronger, longer and healthier looking hair.  As someone with fine, thin hair that sits at my shoulders, I'd love hair as long as a horses mane that I could swish swish bish!

The Mane 'n Tail Original Shampoo and Body has a micro protein enriched formula thats designed to give down to the scalp cleansing action while being fortified with moisturisers and emollients to provide body, shine and manageability.  The Mane 'n Tail Original Conditioner has a renewed formula that aims to prevent breakage and split ends.

So how did it work for me...


Mane 'n Tail Shampoo and Conditioner Review by UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves

The Mane 'n Tail Original Shampoo and Body definitely made my hair look more full and volumised.  There was a noticeable difference between my hair when I used my regular shampoo and my hair when I used this one.  However I found that this shampoo REALLY dried my hair out and my scalp felt too squeaky clean after I had used it.  I did like not having to wash my hair quite so frequently but the dry appearance of my hair didn't look healthy or feel comfortable at all.  If I didn't condition, my hair would feel very dry, especially on the ends, and knotted which is so unusual for my fine, thin hair.  Although as I understand it, a lot of protein shampoos can have this coarse effect on the hair.

The Original Conditioner however does do a good job at counteracting the dry feeling created by the shampoo.  It can be used as a regular conditioner or as a leave in conditioner and I found that using it as a treatment, somewhere in between the two, worked the best for my hair.  After shampooing, I'll apply it all over my hair and really work it in however unlike other conditioners that I'll concentrate on the mid lengths and ends, I'll take this one all the way up to the root.

The shampoo alone doesn't work for me but together with the conditioner, I do like the effect.  The conditioner makes my hair far more manageable after using this shampoo and it does add a softness and light shine to my hair without getting rid of the body created by the shampoo.

Its not a due I could see myself purchasing in the future but I'll certainly continue using them up until they're all gone.

So, do I think this duo have made my hair longer and healthier? No and it certainly has not grown any longer than it would have naturally on its own.  However does it feel full and strong?  Yes it certainly does!

With such a mixed bag of reviews online, some raving, some hating and with retailing for such a bargain price for the pair, I think its worth a try if you think they sound as though they would be good for your hair!

Mane 'n Tail are available individually from Look Fantastic and as a duo here.

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Have you tried Mane 'n Tail?  What are your favourite shampoo and conditioner duos?
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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

A Guide To Improving Your Credit Score

A Guide To Improving Your Credit Score

In a post earlier this month, I talked about how I have been making my rented apartment a home while saving to buy my first property.  I've started up a savings account and I put away as much as I can each month to help me towards my goal.  Although it isn't a lot, every month I get one step closer to achieving that goal and one step further away from where I am now.  Progress not perfection.

Even though I'm a long way off buying a property, its important to me that the place I'm living in now feels like home because its going to be my home for the foreseeable future while I save and I absolutely love it here.  I just wish I could buy it!  It's also important to me that I get my finances in order now so that by the time I do save up enough money to buy, I'm good to go.

There's three main things that I'm doing to help myself for the future:
  • SAVING: I don't just mean saving money into an account for my house deposit but saving money on my day to day spending by cutting back on bills, shopping, lifestyle expenses, etc.  Reducing my outgoings will help me when I go for my first time buyer mortgage.
  • EARNING: Working not harder because in all honesty, I give everything my all and rarely stop but more importantly, I'm working smarter
  • FINANCES: Keeping a close eye on the running of my bank accounts, paying off debts and strengthening my credit file to put me in the best position to secure a mortgage
While I know a little bit about credit scores as I worked in banking for quite a few years, however I don't profess to be an expert by any means and I'm certainly not qualified to give advice but I thought I'd share some thoughts and what I'm doing to help myself in this post.

Money, finances, credit scores, they're all things that people from all walks of life worry about from time to time, or all of the time, which is completely understandable.  The trouble is, when you're at school, you learn about the Tudors and Pythagoras Theorem yet you don't learn about how to run a bank account, the difference between a standing order and a direct debit or how to fill out a tax return.  Maybe kids do now, I don't know but they certainly didn't teach those things when I was in school.  It goes without saying though, all of these things are very important.

Your credit score basically paints a picture of how creditworthy you are.  Lenders will use it to determine what kind of a borrower you are and how likely you are to pay back your repayments when they're due.  Generally, the higher the credit score, the lower the deemed risk however some lenders will also look at profitability for them.  For example Person A has £1000 on a credit card and always makes the minimum payment each month vs. Person B who spends £1000 on their credit card each month but clears the balance in full.  Different lenders have different criteria but what is for certain is that having a good credit score or rating, enables you to access more financial products and services such as credit cards, loans, mortgages and even mobile phone contracts, all of which can have a huge impact on your lifestyle.

The information on your credit file also helps to determine not only whether you are able to borrow money but also how much you can borrow and the amount of interest you pay.  While you might not be looking to take out any kind of financial services at the moment, you never know what the future may hold so its a good idea to always be looking to maintain or improve your credit score.  I'm focusing on improving mine because I want to be in the strongest possible position when it comes to securing a mortgage in the future not to mention that'll I'll probably need to buy a sofa on a 0% finance deal at some point when I've bought my house so again, strengthening my credit file is the best possible way to help me with that.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways that I can improve my credit score and without giving advice, there are plenty of ways that you can to which can help to put yourself in a good position so that you will be looked on favourably when the time comes to borrow money.  Even if you're someone that doesn't like borrowing money, you never know what the future might hold so in today's post, I though I'd list some of the ways that you can improve your credit score.


CHECK YOUR SCORE
It's impossible to know where the improvements that need to be made are if you haven't seen your credit file so the first thing that you need to do is to check your credit rating.  In the UK, you can check it for free through one of the three main credit referencing agencies; Equifax, Experian and Callcredit.  Different lenders use different a different credit reference agency but your credit report should say the same thing there or there abouts.  Be careful though as some of these free credit checks are only free for the first 30 days, after which you'll be charged a fee so make sure you cancel before the end of that period.

I am actually signed up to a lesser known company called Noddle which does have some payment options but on the whole, a credit report with them is free for life.    I actually signed up to them back in 2015 and I've been with them ever since.  They email you each month to say that you file has been updated and I find that its a great way to keep a check on your credit file.  Once you have yours, check your score monthly if you're looking to improve it and at least every six months if you're wanting to maintain your rating as this will also enable you to understand your current situation in more depth and potentially spot any inaccuracies and fraudulent activity.


UNDERSTAND THE REPORT
When you have your credit file, its important that you actually understand what it is telling you.  I've found that over the years, these websites have become much more user friendly with far less jargon but if in doubt, there's always good old Google.

Each credit reference agency will have some different information on your file, but generally they will include your name, address, date of birth, credit applications, financial links to others, late/missed payments, how much you owe to lenders, CCJs, information on if you have been declared bankrupt and things like that.  Many will also tell you which financial services you would be likely to be accepted for based on your rating should you apply, for example a loan with X company or a credit card with X.

The site will also tell you where you rank on a scale of poor to fair to good.  For example, a good credit score with Callcredit is 4 out of 5, over 420 is considered good with Equifax and over 880 with Experian.

As I've done my research over the years, I've picked up tips on what you could do to improve the rating further and some of these credit reference agents actually give tips on their site, linked to your credit file too.


CHECK FOR MISTAKES
Something thats really important to do is to check to see if there are any mistakes on your credit file.  This could be if a missed payment that was the fault of the company and they haven't corrected your file, or it could be a loan you had that has now been finished and fully paid but is still showing as being open or it could be if you have experienced fraudulent activity that you may not have known about.  The open credit lines on your file plus the search footprints will show which companies you have financial products with and who have searched your file and left a footprint.  If you don't recognise something, you must immediately flag it as it could be fraud.

Sometimes there might be a mistake on your file that's due to a small inaccuracy perhaps from years ago but it can have a huge impact on your credit score and your future chances of securing a mortgage so these issues do need to be rectified as soon as possible.


GET ON THE ELECTORAL ROLL
One of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your rating is to register on the electoral roll, which you can do easily either online (by registering to vote) or by post.

You may find it difficult to get credit if you are not registered, so do this one as soon as possible. This is because credit reference agencies will easily be able to verify your identity and where you live which can make you appear more stable to potential lenders.


PAY BILLS ON TIME
It goes without saying, that paying your bills on time every month helps your credit file massively.  You need to show that you are good with your money and capable of paying it back on time, so always pay your bills on time, and the sooner, the better.

If you're experiencing financial difficulty, that's a different matter entirely but if you do have enough money to cover your outgoings each money but you're just not doing it due to poor money management then that's something that you can solve.

You need to find what works for you but if it helps, I'll explain how I run my current accounts.

I have two current accounts with debit cards and on my online banking, I have one labelled as Bills and the other Spends.  Every month when I get paid, I transfer the money over into my spending account and then move the exact amount of money that I need for my bills over to my bills account.  Although I don't use it, the bills account is the one that I have my overdraft facility on so that if ever there was an emergency, something comes out on a date I'm not expecting, I have fraud on my account, a payment comes to me late, etc I would still be able to cover my bills for the month as a short term solution.

I only spend the money that is in my spends account so if I haven't got it, I can't spend it.  I leave the bank card for my bills account hidden away somewhere that I can't touch it and I forget that I even have it!

Another thing that really helped me was setting up all of my payments to come out on a direct debit or a standing order, that way I'm not worrying about whether or not I'll remember to pay my rent and since I have them all scheduled to go out after I've been paid, I know quite early on how much money I have to play with for the month.  Its not quite as straight forward as that with me being self employed and waiting on invoices etc but generally speaking, that's how I run my two main accounts.  Dividing my finances really helped me loads, its something that I've done since my early twenties and really felt the benefit.


USE A CREDIT CARD LITTLE & OFTEN
Now this is a funny one because I know so many people who are against credit cards but when used responsibly, they can be absolutely fantastic because they offer higher levels of fraud protection than a debit card, cheque or cash, they often come with benefits such as air miles or cash back and if you get a good deal, they can be used to spread the cost of higher priced items if your credit limit allows.

However a credit card can also be a way to build up your credit score because, if used responsibly, it can make you appear more attractive to lenders as it shows that you are reliable and capable of paying back what you owe. Therefore, if you make small, regular purchases with your credit card and pay it off every month, this can help you to increase your credit rating.

Never ever treat a credit card as free money, don't spend on it what you know you can't afford to pay back and if you can't pay it off in full at the end of the month, don't use it on anything that's unnecessary otherwise those shoes that seem like a great bargain in the sale will end up costing you far more than they're worth by the time you've finished paying it off!

When I can, I like to pay for things on my credit card as I get cash back and then I go straight onto my online banking and transfer the exact amount over onto my credit card so I'm never owing any money at the end of the month but I'm still helping to build my credit.


KEEP CREDIT UTILISATION LOW
Following on from this, I've always been told that its a good idea to avoid using too much of the credit that's available to you so that you can show that you are capable of managing your credit. A good rule of thumb is to avoid using more than 30% of your limit.


ELIMINATE DEBT BEFORE APPLYING
Before applying for any type of new credit, it is a smart move to eliminate any pre-existing debt if possible. A lender may hesitate to lend money if you already owe money elsewhere, plus other debt may reduce your affordability, so do what you can to reduce or eliminate debt before making an application, especially if its for something like a mortgage or loan.

There is a difference between the way that banks will assess your affordability for a short term borrowing product such as a loan or credit card compared with a long term loan like a mortgage or a secured loan which is generally over a far longer time period and usually secured against a property however your affordability and how much you have going out vs coming in will always be looked at.  It is down to the bank as a responsible lender to make sure that you can pay back the money that you owe and that by giving you the lending product, they're not putting you into financial difficulty.

CLOSE DOWN UNUSED CREDIT LINES
Another idea to help to boost your credit rating could be to close down unused credit lines, such as catalogues, store cards and credit cards, if you're no longer using them and don't intend on using them again.  This is because although they might have a 0 balance, you still have an approved credit limit on them and therefore access to that extra money should you need it and if another company were to give you more credit, in the future it could put you into financial difficulty if you then decided to use all of these previously unused sources of credit.


A Guide To Improving Your Credit Score

SPACE OUT CREDIT APPLICATIONS
Where possible, if you do make any new applications for credit, try to space them out.  If you were to make lots of credit applications within a short space of time, it can show that you are desperate for credit and not in a good financial state which can negatively impact your credit score.

Since I'm wanting to go for a mortgage in the not too distant future, I'm trying to keep my credit applications to an absolute minimum.


NO CREDIT LOAN
Financial institutions in some countries offer a no credit loan as an option to those looking to increase their credit score, in a similar way to how a credit card can help to build your rating.  They could have a positive impact on your borrowing future if you are able to pay it back in full and on time but missing payments can just as quickly negatively impact it.

No credit loans are designed for those that have a poor credit history as they enable you to borrow money while also helping to rebuild your credit rating by proving yourself to be a reliable borrower.  You can read this blog post I found online as it enables you to learn more about no credit loans and how they could be helpful for those trying to improve their credit score.



REMOVE NEGATIVE LINKS
Many people have joint accounts with spouses, housemates or friends. While this can be helpful in many areas of life, such as paying bills, it could have a negative impact on your own credit rating if the person(s) has a poor score themselves.  This can be avoided by closing down any accounts that you have linking you to this person.


BE WARY OF DEBT CLEARING SCHEMES
Finally, I thI see so many adverts online from companies claiming that they can write off your debt but often these companies are preying on vulnerable people.  These schemes often involve bankruptcy which should never be considered lightly.  Bankruptcy and County Court Judgements (CCJs) stay on your credit file for six years and can have a huge impact on your access to all credit facilities, even down to a debit card and a mobile phone contract.  Ideally, they should be avoided at all costs unless absolutely necessary.

If you find yourself falling into financial difficulty, talk to your creditors first, consult the Citizens Advice Bureau or a debt management charity for help as these are the people more likely to be able to help you without it impacting your credit file negatively.

Having a good credit score is, understandably, incredibly important as it could determine if you are able to borrow money as well as how much.  If you're wanting to apply for a mortgage like I am then its vital that you have your credit file in check before trying to make an application but you can always book in to see an independent mortgage advisor for advice.

Many people shy away from checking their score but it is best to check on a regular basis and take steps to build a good score, even if you're not planning on making a credit application anytime soon, as your rating can have a huge impact on your entire life.  From what I've researched, there are a number of ways to help you to improve your credit rating and a combination of steps can give your rating a boost and increase your chances of borrowing in the future.

Now I just need a small lottery win and I'll have my deposit...

Do you check your credit file on a regular basis?  What steps are you taking to improve your credit score?
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Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Hollister Festival Vibes Fragrance Review

Hollister Festival Vibes Fragrance Review by UK Perfume Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Hollister are bringing the festival vibes this season, quite literally with their latest fragrance release.

Festival Vibes is the ultimate summer summer fragrance but there's not just one, there's two; one for him and one for her both inspired by the atmosphere of weekend festival goers in stereotypical, but lush all the same, blue and pink packaging.  They're fun, energetic and have the cool vibe that you'd expect from a Hollister fragrance.

I had the pleasure of trying out the scent For Her a couple of weeks early and if anything has got me feeling excited for the summer months, its this perfume.


Hollister Festival Vibes Fragrance Review by UK Perfume Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Imagine the scene; you arrive at a festival that's playing your favourite music.  Flower crown in your hair and bright, mirrored sunglasses shielding your eyes from the sun, you're beyond happy and ready to have fun.  Fully present in the moment, you're feeling more energised than ever as you enjoy dancing like no ones watching, snappy selfies and sharing so many laughs with your girls around you.  That's what Festival Vibes For Her is all about.

Created by IFF Senior perfumer, Steven DeMercado, said that Hollister's latest release is 'inspired by the world of the Hollister girl... having fun, hanging out with friends, playing music and really enjoying the moment.'  This fragrance captures this entirely, blending vibrant fruits and feminine florals with a soft touch of musk to create a fragrance that celebrates all of the fun loving moments in a Hollister girls life.


Hollister Festival Vibes Fragrance Review by UK Perfume Blogger WhatLauraLoves

If you love fruity, floral fragrances then this is definitely going to be one for you to try.  It's a lively and bright scent, opening with sparkling Italian bergamot, fresh quince and goji berries.  A heart of pink peony, delicate osmanthus, vanilla orchid and coral hibiscus give the scent a lush, floral layer, drying down to a base of cashmere woods, creamy tonka and soft musk.  There's a freshness to this perfume with a surprisingly long lasting dry down, making this the ideal spritz and go day time perfume for the warmer months.

The packaging is young and girly which suits the scent perfectly.  Shaped like a chic, reusable water bottle, the sparkling glass packaging has a tie-dye, soft-touch silicone sleeve 


Hollister Festival Vibes Fragrance Review by UK Perfume Blogger WhatLauraLoves

There's three bottle sizes 30, 50 and 100ml.  The former of which I think would be awesome if you're going on holiday and want a new perfume to take with you to connect your lovely holiday or festival memories with a beautiful scent.

While I've never been to a festival before, I've been to many concerts.  Earlier this month, I wore this scent when I went to see Ed Sheeran at Newcastle United football ground.  Seeing Ed live was something that I'd wanted to do ever since I'd heard his first single and it was an EPIC night.  I wore Hollister Festival Vibes that night and now whenever I smell it, it takes me right back to that awesome time.


Hollister Festival Vibes Fragrance Review by UK Perfume Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Festival Vibes launched EXCLUSIVELY into Superdrug stores this month and you'll be able to pick it up in store and online nationwide from 16th July. If you're a fan of Ralph Lauren fragrances then you'll definitely like this perfume.

Hollister's new fragrance will keep the good vibes going long after the festival season and summer months have ended!

Let me know what you're up to this summer in comments!

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*Images by Michael Charnley & WhatLauraLoves
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Monday, 25 June 2018

What Online Hate Actually Means & Why I'll Never Let Anyone Dull My Sparkle

Simply Be Bikini on UK Plus Size Blogger WhatLauraLoves Laura Ferry

On a recent trip to Riverdale Hall Hotel in Northumberland, I really felt as though I was chanelling my inner Minnie Mouse in this gorgeous Beach To Beach Twist Front Bikini Top and High Waist Twist Briefs, what do you think?

You might have spotted it already on my Instagram as I'm really focusing on my content over there right now.  Its been amazing to hear from so many of you saying that you've bought a bikini to wear on holiday thanks to my posts.  It makes me SO HAPPY to think that I've helped someone else in some little way.

However there are downsides to Instagram and one of them is the haters.  I must admit that I don't get too many of them and thanks to this thick skin I've developed, I'm able to just delete, block and carry on slaying my day but that's not the case for everyone.

The reason I hate the haters is because of the impact that they can have on other people reading my post.  What someone thinks about me doesn't bother me in the slightest.  Honey, if I am wearing something its because I think that I look and feel good and that's the only opinion that matters but what upsets me is that other women who are still in the early stages of their body confidence journey may see the nasty, ignorant and quite honestly, pathetic comments that some people leave on my or others Instagram accounts and take their comments to heart as a reflection onto them.

Its important that everyone out there understands that these negative comments say far more about the person leaving them than they could ever say about me or anyone else reading them.

On Instagram recently, someone left a trying-to-be-mean comment on one of my bikini photos saying something along the lines of ‘why’d you put a tent in the water?’ to which I eye rolled and deleted before posting this to protect her privacy despite not being entirely sure whether someone casting out such hate willy nilly should be afforded such kindness.

WhatLauraLoves UK Plus Size Blogger wearing Simply Be Bikini

At the time, my first thought was *crying laughing face* thats bitchy AF but then I headed over to her Instagram, saw the words she’d written in her bio and realised that this person must be hurting;

 ‘Nothing causes more heartache than those who constantly wear a mask, have it shatter from the pain they’ve been hiding from the world.’ 

While I would usually simply delete the comment and not respond, I instead chose to send her a message saying how I felt;

‘I wish you good luck. Life is a battle and I hope you are able to be happier in it. People who leave comments like yours on others Instagrams aren’t happy in their lives. I hope one day you’re as happy as I am and I wish you all the best xxx’

While I rarely get hate online, when I do it doesn’t hurt me like it used to. I look at the people who do it and feel wholeheartedly sorry for them because if they were as happy as I am, they wouldn't have space in their heart to try to be mean to someone else.  I've found that a lot with people in life; when they're being nasty about someone else theres usually unhappiness, jealousy, envy or fear projecting from them in some way and this is something that I would encourage others out there to see if anyone is awful to them from time to time.  It is usually coming from a much deeper place and most certainly a reflection on them, not you.

You may never know what a hater or a bully is going through in life but they sure as hell cant be content and happy if they’re leaving comments trying to be nasty on others images.  Especially on one like mine here where the caption is about loving yourself and how confident I feel. It takes a really sad kind of unhappiness to try to bring down someone who is spreading love and light to help others.

Rather than feel sad or angry towards someone who has been awful to you, wish them well and let it go.  I know its hard but you cannot let that negativity consume you.  You've only got one life and you deserve to live it feeling happy and fulfilled.  That's why I’ll never let anyone dull my sparkle.  Don't let them dull yours either!

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Sunday, 24 June 2018

Feeling Confident In The Sun With Simply Be Swimwear and Clarins SPF

Simply Be Simply Yours Swimwear on UK Plus Size Fashion Blogger WhatLauraLoves

No matter where you're off to on your beach holiday, there's two things that you need to be confident in and that's your swimwear and your SPF.

When I was in Costa Rica earlier this year, I was rocking my gorgeous summer blue poolside outfit from Simply Be.  Combining coordination items from the Simply Yours range with the Sarong Skirt with the plus size Bandeau Bikini Top and High Waisted Bottoms, I felt every inch the bronzed goddess; comfortable, confident and stylish.  Walking along the beach and lazing by the pool sipping on a cocktail from the swim up bar, I didn't have a care in the world, not least because I knew my body was so well protected with the sun care I had taken with me.

When it comes to SPF, you simply can't beat Clarins.  Tried and tested countless times, I've bought more bottles of their sun care than I care to imagine!

The Clarins sun care range is very much a hybrid between skincare and sun protection with a comprehensive range of products specifically designed to protect the face and body separately.

Clarins SPF 50+ Review By UK Beauty Blogger WhatLauraLoves
I took this photograph when I was at the Bliss Sanctuary For Women in Bali- the most amazing place for a truly life changing experience!

Two of my favourites are the Clarins Sun Care Milk Lotion Spray in SPF 50+ and the Clarins Sun Wrinkle Control Cream For Face, again in SPF 50+.  I like my SPF to always be in the highest factor that I can get; skin cancer doesn't like to mess around and neither do I.

Protection is EVERYTHING and it's important to dispel the myth that higher factors prevent you from tanning; they absolutely do not.

High factor SPFs simply offer you a higher level of protection so that you can stay out in the sun for longer without burning.  The higher factor also cuts down on the amount of reapplications, aside from if you've been swimming, excessively sweating and alike.

Simply Be Simply Yours Swimwear on UK Plus Size Fashion Blogger WhatLauraLoves

You'll notice that I have separate products for the face and body; that's because products designed to be used on the body are formulated with different ingredients to those designed for the face.

Whenever I used a body SPF on my face in the past, I would break out as my pores would get clogged, so ever since I discovered facial SPF's, I haven't deviated away from them.

My favourite SPF for the face is undoubtedly this one from Clarins.  I've tried lots on the market and while there's some that I do really enjoy using, this one is my absolute favourite.  The Sun Wrinkle Control Cream For Face offers multi-cellular protection as well as having plenty skincare benefits too.

Squeezed out of the tube, a little goes a long way and once applied, you're left with skin thats highly moisturised, hydrated and well protected; I've never once burnt when wearing this SPF whether that be at home or on holiday in exotic places like the Costa Rice where I took these photographs of my Simply Be Bikini.  I'm loving their swimwear range this year; they're the one plus size brand that I see killing it with their swimwear all year round which I really appreciate as I'm someone that loves to go on holiday during the winter time when its cold and rainy here!

Simply Be Simply Yours Swimwear on UK Plus Size Fashion Blogger WhatLauraLoves

The Clarins Face SPF has plenty of anti-ageing ingredients such as soothing aloe, kiwi, olive tree and baobab which is very nourishing on the skin.  It helps to prevent sun-induced age spots too but still enables you to achieve a gorgeous golden glow.  I'm sure plenty of people want that bronzed tan when they've been on holiday but it's important to achieve that without burning and increasing your chances of skin cancer and premature ageing caused by the sun.

My favourite thing about this SPF however is that it doesn't clog my pores and cause me to get spots, it doesn't strip or dry out my skin and my eyes don't sting if I get any in my eye when sweating on a hot day.  I can use it alone or under makeup, at home or away which makes it perfect for me!

For those who prefer a lower factor, SPF 15 and 30 is available which is by no means low but if the 50+ is available when you're at a Clarins counter, that's always going to be the one that I recommend!

Simply Be Simply Yours Swimwear on UK Plus Size Fashion Blogger WhatLauraLoves

For the body, I love the Clarins SPF 50+ Sun Care Milk Lotion Spray which is light, hydrating and doesn't leave the skin feeling sticky or clogged.

Quick and easy to apply, simply spray on, glide your hands over your skin and you're good to go.  It absorbs fast so you can spend less time faffing on in the room and more time outside enjoying all that the summer has to offer.

If you've used a Clarins body lotion before then I would liken the after effects to a light one of those, except with the added sun protection benefits and again, I've NEVER burnt while using this suntan lotion.


Simply Be Simply Yours Swimwear on UK Plus Size Fashion Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Clarins suncare products are available in countless department stores such as DebenhamsHouse of Fraser and from Boots pharmacy on the highstreet and online.  I've linked some of my most trusted and well used retailers below.

Always look out for the gift with purchase deals that Clarins do as their sample sizes are incredibly generous and will also see you through your holiday.  In my opinion, they're without a doubt the best skincare brand for samples and even if there isn't a deal on, ask for some product samples at the counter.  I have tried SO many products out that way and have subsequently bought so many as a result.  Its great to try something out at home to see how it works for you before committing to the full size.  Trust the advice and recommendations of the Clarins counter staff too; I've never been given a bad piece of skincare advice from them yet!  They really know their stuff as a result of extensive training and an in-depth product knowledge.

If you're passing through World Duty Free this summer then I would highly recommend picking your Clarins products up from there as you'll be able to bag them at a discount.  That's what I do with all of my old faithful products like the SPF.  You cannot put a price on your sun protection that's for sure but if you can get your favourite products with a little bit of money off then that's a saving you're going to want to make!

Simply Be Simply Yours Swimwear on UK Plus Size Fashion Blogger WhatLauraLoves

I've written extensively about my love for Clarins products on my blog so if you're looking for SPF recommendations, you've come to the right place.

Check out my post all about my favourite Clarins SPF heremy review of their aftersun here and thoughts on their Instant Smooth Self Tanning here.

SHOP CLARINS SPF


SHOP MY OUTFIT
Use the discount code WLV10 for discount on the Simply Be website, excluding the sale and outlet items

Where are you going on holiday this year?  What is your favourite Clarins product?  How confident do you feel in your swimwear?
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Thursday, 21 June 2018

How Exercise Helped Me To Become Relaxed, Stronger & Fitter

How Exercise Helped Me To Become Relaxed, Stronger & Fitter by UK Lifestyle Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Exercise has helped me to become more relaxed, stronger and fitter after an accident several years ago that left me in a lot of pain and gave me nerve damage.  I have regained my sense of self and changed my life in the last couple of years and becoming more active has certainly helped with that.  In today's post, I'm going to give you a little insight as to how.

I'd lost all of my strength and couldn't left things that are relatively light such as a pan of water or the kettle, plus my grip was affected which mean that lifting these things could be dangerous too.

However the impact wasn't just physical as my mental health was affected badly which is something that I still really struggle to speak out about.  For a long time following the accident, I felt as though I had completely lost who I was and although I feel like I'm more me now than I have ever been, I'm definitely a different me.  I've come to realise that your experiences in life shape the person you become.

Years of being on medication for the physical pain had a negative impact on my mental health because the tablets made me feel exhausted.  The more tired I felt, the less I felt as though I could cope which exacerbated the mental health issues and made everything worse.  It was time for change.

I saved up and hired a personal trainer to help me to gain the knowledge and techniques needed to lift weights to help me to rebuild my strength.  I was living on my own most of the time and needed to be able to do everyday things like lifting something heavy, turning to talk to someone without setting my neck off in pain and ultimately get a bit of confidence in myself back.

After keeping up with it consistently for months and realising the benefits not only to my strength but to my well being by having an hour long social media break twice a week, I decided to join the gym.

I was nervous at first but quickly found my feet and started to love it.  Being active helped me to raise my fitness levels, give me some of my strength back and confidence in my own abilities. It also gave me vital time away from the online world and a much needed break from my phone.  When you work online, it can feel as though you're working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and you never get a break from it.  Going to the gym or for a swim and having my phone off for that time gives me a chance to switch off, relax and focus on the present; each stroke, each step, each lift.  I love it!

The same goes for being more active in general really.  I absolutely love going for walks around where I live and, as daft as it sounds at 29, I use the Pokemon Go app for extra encouragement.  I park further away from places now, walk into town and walk to the swimming pool.  My life is more active now than it has ever been in my adult life and the positive impact it has had on my outlook, fitness and most importantly, wellbeing has been amazing but none of it would have happened if I'd let me size get in the way of me going.  Sure it was daunting but the more I went the more confident I became and the positive impact on my life was definitely worth it!


How Exercise Helped Me To Become Relaxed, Stronger & Fitter by UK Lifestyle Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Now that I've felt the happiness that becoming more active has brought to my life, I want to share this message with others in case it could help them too.  Don't let your size hold you back from benefiting from exercise, especially the mental health benefits.  You don't need any fancy pants gear to go to the gym, just some trainers, leggings, a sports bra and a long top will do to get you started.  Same with swimming, just grab yourself some cheap plus size swimwear and you'll be good to go.  It's not about what you're wearing, so long as you're feeling comfortable, confident and supported in it.

The outfit that I'm wearing in this post is my Scarlett Two Piece Lounge Set in grey from CurveWow (If you use the discount code whatlauraloves10, you'll save some money on the site too).  I often wear this tracksuit when I'm on my way to go swimming.

When my boyfriend finishes work, he often comes to mine and we walk down to the pool, go for a 30-40 minute continuous swim and then relax in the sauna and steam room for 10-20 minutes. Then I have a shower but take my time to pamper and look after myself too with shampoo and conditioner, a hydrating body wash followed with a condensed version of my skincare routine and a body moisturiser, all from small sample sizes that I've saved from goodie bags and freebies at beauty counters.  My trip to the gym or swimming is a relatively short amount of time out of my day but does me the world of good and I feel so chilled afterwards.

What is your favourite way to exercise?  I'd love to know how it has helped you in your life!
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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Are you BBQ Ready This Summer?

WhatLauraLoves UK Plus Size Lifestyle Blogger

Summer is here – at last! Which means that the smell of BBQ’s is in the air and one thing is for sure, it’s certainly contagious! Having a BBQ means getting all your friends and family together, eating and drinking the long, summery evenings away and enjoying the sunshine with those you love most.  However if you're the one cooking and hosting it can also mean lots of preparation and hard work…

With the World Cup being on as well as Father's Day, we had a BBQ over at my Dad's house last weekend (you can check out what I wore above- everything is linked at the end of the post).  My dad is a self professed King Of The BBQ with king prawn and shrimp skewers and ribs from Antony Worrall Thompson's barbecue book to name but two dishes.  There's always so much work that goes into one of my dad's BBQs but he has it down to a fine art now from the food and cooking to the garden decoration and seating.

To kick start your dining al fresco this summer, I'm going to share some helpful tips and ideas of how you can get your garden BBQ ready this summer.



LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING
You want your guests to stay as long as possible, right?  Well, just because it gets dark at the end of the evening doesn’t mean you all have to say goodbye. Some well placed garden lights will show your guests that they don't need to leave early.  LED garden lights are really popular right now as they create a great atmosphere as well as save you a fortune on your lighting bills. You can check them out here.

You can also use garden path lights to light up walkways around your garden.  This could be to direct guests to the seating area, BBQ station or even to the outdoor pool or hot tub if you're one of those lucky few who have one! 

Make sure you have adequate lighting on your tables and around your seating areas too. Got some empty jars and a few tea lights? Why not make your own lanterns by painting the jars in different colours.  Candle light is always great for setting a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere – ideal after a busy afternoon in the sun, drinking, eating and having fun.  Whatever holder you choose, I'd really recommend citronella candles because they deter flies and other bugs which can be so annoying when you're sat outside trying to enjoy yourself!  I've got some for my balconies from Home Bargains.

For the darker areas of your garden you could also try some solar powered garden stakes or fairy lights.  These will look great on summer nights as they will illuminate the plants and garden paths.

ADD SOME COLOUR
If you’re planning your BBQ in your yard or your garden is just a little boring then adding a splash of colour can make a huge difference.  Think brightly coloured planters and plant pots; you could paint these yourself or head to your local garden centre or discount home store as you'll always find something to pick up there.  You could even up cycle your existing garden furniture and paint it a bright, summery colour to make a really positive first impression and a great focal point in your outdoor space.

TAKE A SEAT!
If your garden furniture has seen better days then you could invest in a new set, especially if you're going to be out in your garden a lot this summer as you'll definitely get your use out of it.  There's loads of options available on the high street, online and on retail parks so check out your local discount home stores and supermarkets to see what you can find before you splash out.  Making sure your guests are comfortable is important so ensure theres plenty of seating and provide picnic blankets to sit on too.  I always find that lots of outdoor cushions go down a treat too, as will providing blankets and shawls to cover up with, should the evening become cool.

CLEAN & MAINTAIN YOUR GRILL
Check your BBQ the day BEFORE your guests arrive and make sure it’s clean and useable. Many of us are in the habit of opting to clean the BBQ the next time we use it… which sometimes means a year later!  Plan your BBQ menu and try to take note of everyone’s preferences – especially those with allergies like myself who can't have dairy. Now all you need is to put your drinks on ice and wait for your guests to arrive.

Happy BBQ-ing beauties!

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Monday, 18 June 2018

Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe

Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

The statement jacket is vital to any wardrobe.  It can completely transform your look, taking it from great to fabulous in an instant.

When you're heading out of the front door, your jacket may be the last thing that you pull on but its one of the first things that other people see making it a make or break piece when creating a first impression.

Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

When you're curating your wardrobe and putting together your outfits for the day, don't leave your jacket until last; it should be as integral to your outfit as anything else that you're wearing, often even more important than other pieces.

Someone once told me that when you go for an interview, wear a brightly coloured, well fitting jacket to make a lasting first impression so that once you've slayed your interview, you'll standout and be memorable against even the toughest competition who also slayed theirs!


Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

For me, while patterns and prints have been all the rage in previous years, this summer its all about the bold, blocks of colour when it comes to statement jackets.

For me, the Simply Be Double Breasted Jacket with Gold Button Detail is the ultimate colour blocking piece for summer.  It's oversized, bold and a piece that gets people talking for the right reasons.


Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

The striking green colour adds a statement to any outfit and those gold buttons are the most gorgeous pop of metallic colour, complimenting the green hue perfectly.

Green is one of my favourite colours as an adult, despite the fact that I never actually liked the colour at all as a child.  It's funny how your tastes change as you grow up isn't it?


Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

One things for sure, a double-breasted blazer will NEVER go out of fashion.  The shape is a total classic, oversized or otherwise and that makes it an investment piece for your wardrobe that you'll be able to pull out year after year.

The quality as you'd expect from Simply Be is great and I find the fit perfect too.  This jacket can be worn buttoned up which feels too restrictive for me, open which is usually my preference and also over the shoulders which I'm actually swaying more towards... there's a couple of jackets that I've started to wear in this way in the last month or so which is causing me to believe that my tastes maybe changing.  I usually would leave that look to the Fashion Week attendees but maybe I can rock it up in Newcastle too?



What makes this stunning jacket all the more wonderful is that 30% of the purchase price is donated to Breast Cancer Now so if the popping shade doesn't lift your spirits, the feel good charity donation certainly will!

When wearing a jacket as statement as this, I think its best to keep the rest of the colour palette fairly neutral with your outfit.  For me that means monochrome but that black and white doesn't need to be boring.

The Simply Be Sleeveless Ruffle Top for starters is a great twist on a plain black top.  It's pretty, girly and perfect for summer.  Effortlessly pop it on with jeans, denim shorts, printed culottes or work trousers or tuck it into a skirt and you've instantly given your everyday look a fun twist.


Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Then theres the Simply Be Chloe Distressed Skinny Jeans which are quite simply, a dream come true.  I've been wanting to wear a pair of ripped jeans for years now but I could never find any that fit me well enough; I'm so much larger around my tummy than on my legs that to be able to find jeans to fit my tummy means that I end up with the look of wide leg pants regardless of what leg style I choose.  However these Chloe jeans have totally changed the game for me as they're actually proper skinny jeans and fit more snuggly on the leg all the way down to the ankle than any other skin jeans I've had.

They're super soft and really stretchy so they feel as though they moulded to my body and they're so comfortable, I feel like I'm not even wearing them.  So they're mega comfy, actually skinny... what else?  They're ripped to perfection in all the right places; nothing revealing or silly and they look awesome when they're on.  Then there's the fact that they're white.  Oh man do I LOVE white jeans, they look so lush on, especially in summer and even more so when I'm tanned.  Just check out this WhatLauraLoves Instagram photo as evidence!


Why Every Woman Needs A Statement Jacket In Her Wardrobe by Plus Size Body Confident Blogger WhatLauraLoves

Put all these pieces together with the addition of my fave espadrilles of the summer from River Island and you've got one killer outfit.  The green statement jacket makes everything POP dontcha think?

SHOP THE POST- use code WLV10 for discount on all Simply Be orders except sale & outlet.

Simply Be Double Breasted Jacket with Gold Button Detail // Simply Be Black Sleeveless Ruffle Top // Simply Be Chloe Distressed Skinny Jeans- Regular Length // River Island Espadrilles // Gold Fever Hair Extensions fitted by HJ Extensions


Do you have a statement jacket in your wardrobe?  What colour would you love?  How often do you wear green?

*Thank you to Mark at My Digital Life for taking these photos, you absolute legend.
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