Nobody would choose to spend a morning in the doctor's surgery letting a stranger look at your nether regions, but those few minutes of embarrasment are totally worth it if they could potentially save a life. Smear tests are worryingly on the decrease, even though we're more educated and aware about their importance than ever; as we step towards the tenth anniversary of reality star Jade Goody's premature death from cervical cancer, the results of her awareness building are starting to wane. Although 75% of cases can be prevented by cervical screening and up to 90% of pre-cancer cases can be picked up and treated with very little inconvenience, one in four women aren't attending their appointments. So why may that be? There's no doubt that one of the biggest barriers to attending these all important appointments is the fear around discomfort and pain.
I think I must be harbouring a secret desire to be a cowgirl, because my love affair with gingham prints is just getting stronger. I adore the delicate black and white check that never seems to go out of style (and is perfectly suited to the summer months,) simply because it's so effortless; gingham is almost a 'neutral' that you can dress up or down with any colour combination you can think of. What started as a dabble a few years ago has evolved into a full on obsession with anything checked I can get my hands on, but the gingham dress will always be my first love. Did you know that the fabric was originally (and still is in many fashion houses) used as a 'test fabric' to ensure the cut of a new design worked well, without having to waste valuable supplies? It's come a long way since then, now used in its own right as one of the hottest and most sought after styles of the season.
When I was in my twenties my skincare regime consisted of a bottle of Simple cleanser and some eye makeup remover to help rid me of the Sunday morning hangover. Although I neglected my skin and thought moisturisers were only for super dry complexions, I was lucky enough to get away with it; I've never been one to massively suffer with breakouts or congestion, so I guess there was never really a huge issue for me to tackle. My interest in skincare only really peaked when I started blogging, having spent my early career working in the hair and makeup fields, and I had access to a huge number of experts alongside great products to try. Something finally clicked and I was consciously starting to take care of my own complexion alongside helping readers to make the most of theirs; over the years I've spent a huge amount of time researching, learning and getting to know ingredients so I can tweak my regime and ensure my face looks as good as it can for as long as it can - and I'm aware my regime is more complex than most!
Some brands are just effortlessly chic; they know how to tap into our inner desires and demand a high price point simply for the privilege of having their bottles on your bathroom shelf. Pretty much everything they touch turns to gold and they generate more buzz online with the launch of a new addition than other brands could only but dream of. Whether you own a piece or not, the fundamental desire is there to have it all and feel like an absolute queen while using it; Jo Malone London (JML) are undoubtedly one of those names. I was probably introduced to the brand about a decade ago and immediately adored the iconic black and cream packaging, so much that over the years I've been lucky enough to continuously add to my collection of perfumes, bath oils and candles so my flat almost pays homage to their creations. They offer the perfect combination of scent and style.
Sunshine may bring with it bigger smiles, boosted moods and wardrobes filled with cute summer dresses, but one of the downsides is undoubtedly the discomfort sweaty bodies can generate. Although I've been somewhat blessed in the curves department, come the warmer months those curves can cause all number of issues - namely the chub rub that pretty much anyone without a thigh gap will experience at some point during their lives. Despite what we're lead to believe by the media, thigh gaps aren't the norm; they're actually a rarity and reserved for lasses on Love Island and models on the Victoria's Secret runway (and a handful of other beaut ladies I'm not at all jealous of.) The majority of us have thighs that touch (no matter our body type) and in the heat the accompanying sweat can lead them to rub, chafe and generally become a little bit sore.
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My childhood was a simpler time, when a packet of sweets or a ride on my bike made everything in the world seem so much better; I spent hours hanging out in the park, toasting marshmallows over a fire and talking about Sister Sister, wondering what life would be like when I finally became 'a grown up'. My sister and I sung songs from The Little Mermaid and Joseph And The Technicolour Dreamcoat on repeat, and played Barbies sprawled across a blanket in the back garden; while she would swing on the swing and see how high she could get, I'd be preening their hair and dressing them in the best combo of 90's fashion I could find. I reminisce with hugely fond memories and sometimes that's all I need to remove myself from the stresses and strains of adult life; the reason I still love Disney movies, collect Harry Potter memorabilia and had a Delorean at my wedding is because those childhood memories and associations make me incredibly happy and thankful.
Much has been written about the joys that being a full time blogger brings: flexibility, autonomy, control, diversity and generally an increased work-life balance. The lifestyle has become a dream of so many young men and women, who wish to emulate the success and so-seen 'super cool' day job of their favourite stars, and a real possibility to a whole generation of creatives. With the increase of the so-called 'slashies' (those that have more than one career path at any given time,) we're free to pursue whatever heights we've set our sights on and often need little more than a WiFi connection to get started. I genuinely applaud anyone who goes at it alone and undertakes a relatively risky path, because it's seriously hard work; yes you reap the benefits self employment brings, but in all honesty I've never worked as hard in my life as I have right now. It doesn't matter if you're a blogger, digital creative, artist, musician or anything inbetween - what's often percieved on the outside is the gloriously regal swan gliding along the river, when the reality of peddling like you've run out of time is happening right beneath the surface.
Every day I open my wardrobe I'm overwhelmed with choice; not only do I have so many amazing summery dresses to choose from, but the appropriate weather to match! Now that's a turn up for the books. Not only have I been able to wear some of my fave looks on holiday, but they've all been making an appearance on UK shores too - and that's something I'm super happy about. (Is there anything more frustrating than getting to summer and still being stuck in jeans and a tee?) One of my current favourite 'going out out' dresses has to be this beaut number from Joanie, which is fast becoming a go-to brand for wardrobe staples with a little bit of added sass, because it's just so effortlessly elegant.
I adore the new textures, colours and scents that come with the onset of the summer season; the beauty industry certainly doesn't disappoint at this time of year, offering up a plethora of highly covetable products that we just can't wait to get our hands on. Although there are some beautiful makeup treats that aim to give you that super natural sunkissed glow, there are also so many others designed to keep you looking and feeling fabulous from head to toe. If you're in need of some beauty inspo, want something to fawn over or simply need an item or two to add to your payday wishlist, I've got you covered: here are nine of the best beauty products for summer, to suit all budgets, that I just know you're going to want to try.
What sums up the scent of summer for you? Maybe it's the fragrance of sun tan lotion and pina coladas, or freshly cut grass and the heat of sun on your skin; it could be a cold glass of wine or the lingering scent of a BBQ, or perhaps mosquito spray and the perfume of salty sea water. The transition into a new season holds so much emotion and the surrounding scents only enhance that, but what about the perfume you choose to spritz on every morning - what does that say about summer to you? Long gone are the days when the majority of us stick with a signature scent all year round, instead preferring to change things up with a new season or special occasion, and the summer months provide a perfect excuse to add a fragrance or two into our olfactory wardrobes. With so many new perfumes to choose from this season, where do you start? I've picked out three I think you'll love (alongside some top tips to help them last from dawn until dusk with ease,) and will effortlessly complement any existing fragrance wardrobe. You're welcome.