Structure by JOICO

JOICO is a leader in professional haircare, with over 50 products there is something to suit everyone. Their tag line is one to stick in your mind, "the JOI of healthy hair!" with this in mind I was excited to see what Joico has on offer. From coloured hair to styling products, JOICO has a product for every hair concern there is out there. I was kindly gifted their re-vamped Structure range which I can't wait to tell you all about. As someone who is constantly changing the colour of their hair and likes to keep it in good condition, it can be a struggle to find products which won't damage your hair further. 

SMOOTHSHOCK Nourishing foaming oil:
In the last year, I've made an attempt to use less heat on my hair. I've gone from straightening my hair every day without fail to going weeks without doing it. I only tend to use heat in the format of my hairdryer, but even then I only use it to get the excess water out as my hair is thick! Before I dry my hair I've been adding a small amount of the nourishing foaming oil and each time I've used it, I've noticed a huge difference when it comes to brushing my hair. My ends can feel quite dry from using a lot of colour so being able to revive my hair so easily with the foaming oil is a win. One of my favourite products from the range for sure.   

GLAMTEX Backcomb effect spray:
Backcombing takes me back to being 14 years old and using a tail comb and pushing my hair up and ragging the comb up and down to give my hair volume, I cringe at the thought of it. With a lot of products claiming they can do things such as giving you volume, I am often dubious. When I used the spray on my hair I did need to use a lot to see the effect but I am putting this down to my thick hair. Then I asked Will if I could test this on his hair and even after a couple of sprays he ran his hands through his hair and it had a ton of volume which was next to no effort. I think he may have claimed this from me now. 

Structure by JOICO
STYLEMAKER Dry [RE]shaping spray:
As soon as I read the words reshaping I knew I'd found something which would be of great benefit to my hair. I have a full fringe and anybody else who has bangs will know the pain of them flicking out, not going the way you want and for me, it's worse as I have a cowlick in the middle of my fringe so it never stays the way I want it. The reshaping spray is an absolute godsend for keeping my fringe in place. Using this on my fringe on the first day or two after washing it does amazing things and actually makes my fringe stay in place! It actually allows my fringe to be able to be restyled too which I was impressed with, as I do usually have to wash it after it goes flicky (I am such as a restless sleeper.) If you are styling your fringe I'd recommend curling it more when you first do it as it will last longer. 

BEACH Texture spray:
Ever since I was allowed to choose which hairdressers I went to as a teen, I picked Toni&Guy as they were one of the only decent ones in my town. On my first trip, they sprayed some amazing sea salt spray over it once it was done. Once I stopped going to Toni&Guy, I was never able to find anything which smelt even remotely similar or gave my hair the same 'I woke up like this' windswept look which made my hair feel so much better as it had more volume. Unless being actually being windswept counts? However, much to my surprise the BEACH texture spray does all that and more, the spray smells amazing and allows me to give my curls extra volume when I do them as mine always seem to drop really quickly thick hair prerogative. 

Thickening Spray: 
Sadly this isn't a product I was able to put to the test myself as I seem to have the worlds thickest hair anyway. I did ask Will to test this for me and after a few days of using it, he did say he noticed his hair was sitting better at the front, possibly due to the product giving his hair that extra full feel.

Structure by JOICO

*Thanks to JOICO for sending me these products out to try and although these were gifted items, my opinion is 100% honest as always.  I love the range and would love to know in the comments if you've tried anything from JOICO before.

Why is mental illness still a taboo topic?

2019: the year of the pig, the year in which Tic Tacs turn 50 and 10 years since Avatar first hit our screens. 2019 is also the year in which mental illness still remains hidden away by most. If it is invisible, it doesn't exist, right? Wrong. Suicide still accounts for the highest number of deaths in the UK for men between the ages of 20-49. More of us are recognising there is a problem, but for most, the problem isn't enough to cause a major concern. Each time we click on the news and see another death in a celebrity not known to have any health problems, it has become what seems to be normality to assume what the cause has been, especially within males. The truth may be that we ourselves don't even see we are struggling and if we do, we feel too proud to admit it and for those who do reach out, can often be knocked back or made to feel guilty for reaching out in the first place. Those struggling can often be called an attention seeker for speaking out about their struggles. To me, this seems alien. 

Whether we choose to admit it or not, there is still a huge amount of stigma which comes alongside the term 'mental illness', most people are then deemed as unfit, unable to cope and some would even go as far as to say they're insane. Living in the 21st century often feels like there is no escape from people with most of the world connected via a click of a button. We put ourselves online for those to see as this is what we are trained to do, but when something goes wrong, everything can change in an instant and you feel so alone. Long goes the days where to insult someone you had to go find them in person and tell them. The internet allows the world to constantly engulf us and not let us escape. Logging into social media can often feel like quicksand, you take a quick look at suddenly your drowning and can't get out. 

With us all expected to keep within these standards set out by society about how we should live, act and be as people, no wonder we fall below par. We are often made to feel like our illnesses aren't important and that we could have it worse. I mean if you can't see it, that means it's not real? We as people need to do better, we need to start understanding it is real and a lot of us do suffer. If we are struggling at work, we need to be able to take the steps like any other illness to say you need some time off. With mental health problems contributing to 12.7% of illness in the workplace, we need to get better at figuring out how to deal with it. We need to be able to discuss medication and take the steps to be able to get medication for our conditions. We need to be able to go to our GP and ask for help without the fear of it being on our record and others seeing it. 

Too many people are afraid to reach out and we really don't know what is going on in someone's head without them telling us. We can pick up the warning signs but when somebody doesn't want to talk about the way they're feeling, they won't. We need to start opening up the conversation, we need to ask each other more, are you ok? Then we need to believe it is ok to say no and tell others how we are feeling. As too many of us say I'm good, I'm fine, I'm great but how many of us are really telling the truth. With fear of rejection from the people, we are reaching out to, a lot of people sugar coat their feelings. After all, what upsets one person might seem stupid to another. 

We all promise to do better every time we click on the news and see another tragedy in front of our eyes, but how many of us actually take the time to do better? This is a vicious cycle and nothing ever changes. If we all made an attempt to reach out more, this world would be a better place. Mental illness doesn't discriminate but those around us do. With the right support and in some cases medication our conditions can be managed. This doesn't mean we are going to be OK 100% of the time, but it is a start. Having that safety net around you when you feel like you're falling is one of the best feelings, knowing you'll be able to pick yourself back up and carry on is an amazing sense of determination which some of us are able to feel. For those who don't have that net, the fear of falling never actually disappears. Our brains are our biggest critic and we already have that between our ears without needing to hear the negative comments of others, for most there isn't really anything you can say that they don't already feel about themselves. One day, I hope to see change, but for the future, I'm not too sure how likely any sort of big change is. 

Reach out to your loved ones, send them a message, go see them. Keep people close and make everyone aware, you can ask for help and it doesn't make you any less of a strong person. We all have our issues and shouldn't be judged for them, no matter who we are. How much money we have or what our social status is, we all function the same way and we sometimes just need a little love and an ear willing to listen to us. You can be the change, we don't need to wait until another person decides to end their life, we need to act fast and begin working towards the change. 

Shop My Style: Quiz Edition.

*This post is in collaboration with Quiz* 

Does anybody else feel like they're currently in mid-July, I was convinced we were in the middle of Summer yesterday and it's actually only April. The UK is weird with its weather so I'm always prepared for pretty much every occasion the weather wants to throw at me. I've recently been looking at adding more summer staples to my wardrobe and my favourite way to showcase this is via a mood board. The brand I am creating a shop my style on this week is Quiz.   

Quiz is a brand I didn't give a second look into until I found out they now stock a plus size collection. With everything from plus sized tops to occasionwear perfect for those summer weddings. I decided to create some wishlist styled mood boards on items I love from Quiz which I'd love in my wardrobe. All of these items are currently in stock on the Quiz site, so if you do want to purchase any of them, now is your chance. I recently did a version of this with JD Williams clothes and you guys seemed to love it so here I am again bringing you another shop my style. I find these posts fun to create as it shows my style growing and changing throughout the years. I'd love to know in the comments which retailer you'd like to see next.  

Bumble Bff: Success or fail?

Bumble Bff

It's true when they say there is an app for pretty much everything these days from food to jobs, dating to holidays and one I've discovered most recently is an app for friends called Bumble BFF. I remember using Bumble briefly for dating when I was single, but I never found it as enjoyable as the other apps I was using. Although it was amazing to stop guys spamming with pics if you didn't want to talk to them first. As females have to talk first on the app. My friend Bec advised me that she had found a friend using the site, so I decided to give it a go myself. Similar time limits apply to on the BFF version, however, once a match is made either person has 24 hours to message, after this time the match expires. The time limit thing can be a bit annoying as if you are anything like me, you'll forget to check it for days and then go back to loads of missed matches. I guess this is how Bumble entices people into paying for premium.

I have been using Bumble BFF over a month now and I am still checking the app (when I remember oops) so I decided to share my findings with you guys. If you've not yet got the app, I'd totally recommend it. I live in a pretty small town and even I've been able to locate people nearby. When you're making a profile you can decide how far you want your account to reach, I did it to around 40km as I live within 30 minutes (or less on the train) of 3 different cities. So I decided to make sure my radius reached all of those areas. With that, I was on to swiping. I felt like I was on Tinder somewhat with the swiping but for me, the friendship shouldn't be based on looks so I am always looking for interesting bios/experiences and what pets they have because my priorities are in the right order. With Bumble it offers you a variety of questions to ask your match which I find is quite cool as it allows you to get to know a person quite quickly.

With apps such as Bumble BFF, I do always try to put a lot of effort in at first when talking to someone, but when I get a bunch of one-word answers or really dull conversations like "hi, how are you" over and over I tend to give up the conversation. Although on occasion it does pay off, I was able to meet a friend called Emily. We've even met up in real life and had lunch and coffee. We are super similar as people and we now talk almost every day. I didn't imagine when I joined Bumble BFF that I'd actually make a friend but I am ecstatic that I have.

As Bec was the one who told me about the app in the first place, I wanted to hear what she had to say about her experiences.

"Before Christmas, I downloaded Bumble BFF after hearing other North East Bloggers had used it and I was looking to make friends in my area anyway. I got talking to a lovely girl who was moving up to Newcastle from the other end of the country and we had a lot in common! We met up for a double date with her boyfriend and mine and we got along really well (so did our boyfriends)! I ended up planning a night out on the town with her and we had a lot of fun. We plan to go out more and I’d certainly say I’ve made a friend from Bumble. I would recommend others to give it a try if you’re wanting to meet new friends. I wasn’t expecting anything to come of it, but I’m very happy I plucked up the courage to do it!"

Hearing that Bec had such a positive experience made me happy to know that the app can result in success. I also spoke to Ellie from NinkComPoop who had met Bec through the app and I asked her for her thoughts on the app.

"Well... I used BFF because I was recommended it by a few people who knew I was moving away from home. As somebody who had instant success with Tinder a couple of years ago, I was really keen on the idea. I really needed to open myself up to new friendships as I was going to be hundreds of miles away from home. I feel like I'm quite good at understanding people's sense of character quite quickly, so I got on with a few people almost straight away. I would 100% recommend it to people who are up for building new friendships or want to explore a new area with somebody. I was lucky in that I was able to become friends with somebody who knew the area quite well so could show me the ropes of a new place and invite me to fun events also."

Ellie also offers the advice of:
Also... for so long, myself and others were always saying "why isn't there a Tinder for friendships!". I hear people saying it ALL the time! Not enough people know about BFF, so I was so excited haha! I also think it's a good idea to make it clear on your bio what exactly you are looking for; a night-out buddy, a travel friend, a fellow mummy friend, a takeaway & horror movie buddy, etc. I feel like you'll find people on your level that way :)

With this I totally agree there are so many people the app, some are after the same things you may be after and others you may not be suited to, just like friends in real life. Not everybody will get on with everyone but there is a huge variety of people on the app and that's what makes it great!

Thanks to Bec and Ellie for taking the time to be a part of this post and I'd love to know in the comments your experiences on Bumble BFF.

Tips for shopping on Ali Express

It's 2019 and I begrudge paying over the top prices for things I know I can get cheaper online. I love sites like eBay and Ali Express as they allow you to purchase things at a fraction of the price. There is one catch with these seemingly too cheap items, they're from China so can take a little time to arrive. Oh, and by a little, I mean a few months. I've had some items arrive in a matter of weeks and others take 2 months or longer. But with that said for all the things I purchase from Ali Express, I don't really mind how long they take to arrive. I tend to buy phone cases, figures and some stationery. With phone cases costing as little as £0.99, even those which are stocked in stores for £10 or more, it's madness to be able to buy them for such a cheap price. So here are my top tips from an avid Ali Express user for over 3 years now.

Price compare: 
If you want to purchase an item, it is worth giving it a quick Google just to make sure that the price is as good as it looks. It is possible the item is a dupe or a copy of the original which would explain the price difference in most cases. However, it's a great way to bag bargains. I've always bought the film for my Instax on Ali Express as you can get them massively reduced in price. The last time I purchased I got 40 sheets for the price of 10, that's how good it is!

Postage is dirt cheap:
Although you can pay for quick postage (it is really expensive) if you can wait for your item, the postage costs under £1 normally which is crazy. Dependant on the item will vary the postage, but you can get really reasonable postage for most items on site.

You can buy almost anything on Ali Express:
If you're not looking for anything in particular but fancy a browse you may end down a rabbit hole, with millions of items on the site from underwear to gift boxes, Ali Express has you covered.

Be vigilant: 
Similar to eBay you have to be wary of who you buy from, like eBay it is easy enough to be refunded if your item doesn't turn up. But reaching out to the seller in most cases will get the issue resolved quickly.

Learn what to search for: 
Once you know how to find things which are hidden on the site you are able to find some real gems, finding keywords from other listings of similar items can allow you to narrow it down to find the best sellers. 

Purchase cheap items only: 
For electronics, car parts and expensive jewellery it doesn't seem worth the risk to me, so I only tend to buy smaller items in case something does end up being wrong with the item or worse it not turning up.

Would you shop on Ali Express?