Get ready for Summer and National Bikini Day!

I was recently contacted by the lovely ladies at Swimwear 365 asking if I would like to work with them again (see my review of the bikini they sent me here!), this time with their campaign counting down to National Bikini Day. Of course I said yes and have been reading their blog and their National Bikini Day page on their main website for tips and tricks to get ready for the summer. I thought this was the perfect excuse to put together a blog post here on itsneecola with all my tips and tricks for getting summer-ready, whether you are going abroad or staying at home!

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First things first: Beach Body.
At this time of year so much focus is put on getting the 'perfect' beach body through exercise and healthy eating, which is great but I would like to focus on working with the bodies we already have and focus on things like fake tan and fashion rather than toning and sculpting. I used to tan naturally in the sun but, due to my Crohn's disease and medication I have to be extra careful in the sun nowadays as I'm at a higher risk of getting skin cancer. (I'm not entirely sure why, I will learn more about it in the future, but for now my nurses have been very stern with me when it comes to what SPF I should use!) This means that I've been perfecting my fake-tan routine as I love having a tan, especially in the summer months. This involves exfoliating (less often than I should really!), shaving (or waxing, if you prefer), moisturising (again, less frequently than I should) and finally tanning about once a week, or every other day if I'm using a gradual tanner. I'm trialling a new chemical-free fake tan at the moment so might do a review on that soon if you're interested?

Secondly: Summer Skin.
By this I mean yo beautiful face. I tend not to fake tan my face as I'm too scared I will look like I've fallen headfirst in a muddy puddle, so I stick to the bronzer and a fluffly brush. My skin preparation for the summer goes something like this: cleansing and moisturising daily, morning and night. Exfoliation about once a week, as with my body to remove all the dead skin (ew) and give me a fresh, smooth base for my makeup. When I exfoliate I also give my lips a quick scrub too to keep them smooth. I tend to keep my makeup very light and fresh in the summer months and I might do a 'Get The Look' post surrounding summer makeup...

Thirdly: Hands and Feet.
Again, exfoliate! Well, this applies more to feet than hands really. If you're getting your feet out this summer by the pool, the beach or at the park in your flip-flops then you're gonna want to exfoliate those babies after a long winter of being hidden. As for polish, I will be doing a separate post about my favourite polishes for summer, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Last but not least: Inside Out.
I may not be the best role model when it comes to healthy eating and exercise (although I have my moments where I really commit to it, and I am determined to get into a health and fitness routine when I've moved house and settled in!) but I do do pretty well when it comes to drinking water. When I drink plenty of water I notice a difference in how I feel within myself and how my body and skin looks...I look and feel properly hydrated again!

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You can follow Swimwear365's countdown to National Bikini Day, which is on the 5th July, on twitter using the hashtags #LoveNBD and #NationalBikiniDay. Also, check out their NBD section on their website for giveaways and tips, along with their blog for National Bikini Day blog posts.

How do you get ready for summer? Please share any tips in the comments below or tweet me @itsneecola!

or email nicnaknoko2@gmail.com / nicola.sharp13@hotmail.co.uk


What's in my coach bag?

You may or may not be aware that during my gap year I have been spending a heck of a lot of time to-ing and fro-ing to London on the coach to visit my boyfriend Josh. This has meant that I have got into a pretty good routine when it comes to coach journeys (if you need to know how to get a seat to yourself and keep it that way, just ask!) and have narrowed my coach bag contents down to a useful few items that won't break your back.

Obviously I take my suitcase too, but that goes under the coach. This post is all about the things I take in my hand luggage as it were - my on-board coach bag.

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After taking these photos I realised Josh was calling me via FaceTime haha, oops!

Overall summary of contents:
Scarf - obviously only on colder days! From my experience, coaches are either freezing cold or baking hot, so layers are a must.
Purse - does this need explaining?
Book - whatever book I'm currently reading will make it to my coach journey for entertainment purposes.
Notepad and pen - for drafting blog posts and ideas, writing notes etc.
Coach card and ticket - this is kindof essential... If you make a lot of coach journeys during the year I would recommend getting a coach card to save you some money on each journey.
iPod - this gets me through the seemingly endless hours...
Phone - for communicating with people outside the coach.
Charger - most National Express coaches have sockets on and on some of those coaches, the sockets actually work! So my charger comes with me just in case I'm lucky enough to be able to charge my phone/iPod if necessary.
Hand cream - because nobody wants dry hands now do they?
Emergency bits bag - see below for contents.
Sunglasses - for sunny days/hiding behind.
Makeup bagsee below for contents.
Water bottle - to keep hydrated. Tip - don't drink the full contents unless you fancy visiting the on-board loo. This happened to me once...never again.

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Pic 2: makeup bag:
Perfume - this little So...? perfume is always in my mini makeup bag and is much-needed after sweltering coach journeys.
Compact mirror - I'm pretty sure I bought this from Wilkos or Poundland or something so it was super cheap but does the job nicely!
Mascara - for touch-ups during the day.
Lip balm (and lipstick/gloss of choice) - to keep my lips nice and soft and pwetty!
Concealer and brush - also for touch-ups during the day...again, much-needed after sweltering coach journeys.

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Pic 3: emergency bits bag:
STs - sorry if this makes you cringe, but lets be real! These are a must for any female emergencies.

Tissues - yep.
Hand gel - antibac hand gel is a must for me. I have zero immune system thanks to my medication so am constantly using this to keep germs at bay, especially when I'm out in public.
Comb - for bad hair days.
Nail file - because there isn't much worse than when you break a nail and can't sort it out straight away.
Bobby pins - I'm sure I'm not the only girl who isn't eternally grateful for the inventor of bobby pins?! They can fix most things.
Bobble - I usually shove my hair up in a bun before the coach journey is over due to the heat/stickyness, so if there isn't a bobble on my wrist I know I will always have this as a back up.
Plasters - these come in handy.

Not pictured: food! My coach journeys often overlap lunch or dinner time so I do take some munchies with me.

Do you do much travelling? What would be your coach-bag essentials?

or email nicnaknoko2@gmail.com / nicola.sharp13@hotmail.co.uk


Mini Space NK Haul

You can imagine my excitement when I saw a tweet from Beth telling me I was lucky enough to win her giveaway of a £40 Space NK voucher - eee!! I've never been to Space NK before but have spent many hours browsing their site, wishing I was rich. I went into the Leeds store on Thursday with Georgina and Charlotte - fellow bloggers were definitely needed for this task. What to choose?! I wanted to buy things that I would never usually spend that much money on and ended up spending just £7.50 for two beautiful high-end products.

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I was sure one of the items I would leave with would be a Nars lip pencil as I'd been eyeing them up online. I tried an orange-toned one on but it just didn't feel right - while I wanted to buy something special I also wanted to be able to wear it on a daily basis and I just knew I wouldn't reach for this particular Nars product every day as it was a bit too vibrant and in-your-face (although I was impressed with the quality and would love to own a Nars lip pencil one day!). I explained these thoughts to the assistant and she very helpfully suggested other options within a similar price range to the Nars pencils until I settled on this Laura Mercier lipstick in the shade 'Rose'. For me, its a my-lips-but-better colour which is perfect for everyday wear while also being a bit special as it is a high-end product and the only Laura Mercier product I own!

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The second product I treated myself to was the By Terry Ombre Blackstar cream eyeshadow in the shade Misty Rock. Oh my. Firstly, the packaging. I feel like royalty with this in my make-up stash, it is beautiful! Secondly, the pigmentation. This eyeshadow is so pigmented but easy to blend and can be washed over the eye for a stunning shimmery one-colour look or built up to a smoky effect. The staying power of this eyeshadow is also brilliant, but at £28 it should be! There is a beautiful range of shades available and I'd definitely add a couple to your wishlist if I were you! I've just bought Mac's Woodwinked (blog post here!) so wanted to go for a different colour altogether as I have so many brown/gold shades in my collection already.

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Thank you so much to Beth for my vouchers - it was so lovely being able to treat myself to two gorgeous high-end products from a store I never thought I'd be able to shop in!

Do you own either of these products? What's on your Space NK wishlist?

or email nicnaknoko2@gmail.com / nicola.sharp13@hotmail.co.uk


Mac Woodwinked

A few weeks ago I blogged about a beauty event I went to at Harvey Nichols and one of the things on my wishlist before the event was Mac's Woodwinked eyeshadow, so I was very chuffed when I was able to try it on the night, loved it and brought it home with me. 

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Since then I have worn Woodwinked almost every day, sometimes paired with other colours (such as a matte brown in the crease) but mostly just on its own following a Tanya Burr tutorial in which she pats the colour all over the lid and then blends it out into the crease. When blended, Woodwinked turns into a slightly more rusty tone so you end up with two different tones on the lids, which looks like you've put more effort into your eye makeup than you actually have (always a bonus on those lazy days!) I then run Woodwinked underneath my eyes and blend it slightly on the outer edge to balance out the look. I find that this look really compliments my blue eyes and I might do a separate post on the best eyeshadows for making blue eyes pop.

Woodwinked if one of the few Mac eyeshadows that I own but so far I would say that they are great quality, very pigmented and come in an amazing range of shades. I also have my eye on All That Glitters, however I do think Mac eyeshadows are pretty pricey so you won't see a full palette in my collection any time soon (although I know they are at the cheaper end as far as high-end products go!)

Do you own many Mac eyeshadows - what's your favourite? Is Woodwinked in your collection?

or email nicnaknoko2@gmail.com / nicola.sharp13@hotmail.co.uk


Oaks Boutique Chapel Allerton

A few months ago I went to a blogger event hosted by the fabulous ladies at Oaks Boutique at their Roundhay store (which I blogged about here!) and I fell in love. I fell in love with the store, the layout, the clothes, the accessories... So when I was in Chapel Allerton the other week I had to pop into the Oaks Boutique store there and browse the sale rails.

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These were to items that really stood out to me and made me wish I wasn't restricted with my spending at the moment! Isn't the blue blazer just amazing? And those shorts...with a tan...and some wedges...yes please.

The Chapel Allerton store has a lot of stock from the previous season at discounted prices, so it is great if you are looking for a bargain! On the sale rail I found a black cape for a tenner - I'd been looking for one last winter and couldn't find a reasonably-priced one so even though it is totally weather-inappropriate at the moment I still picked it up ready for the winter.

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If you live up north you should definitely visit one of the Oaks Boutique stores. The staff are always so friendly and they have an amazing range of clothes, shoes and accessories in each of their stores at purse-friendly prices. You're sure to leave with a unique bargain in your bag and a smile on your face!

Have you been to any of the Oaks Boutique stores? Or do you have a similar boutique near you?

or email nicnaknoko2@gmail.com / nicola.sharp13@hotmail.co.uk
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