Top Gay Bloggers & Influencers

Top Gay Bloggers & Influencers

June is pride month and although the dreaded Rona (Covid-19) came along and rained on this year’s parade, it certainly has not and will not dull the colour and spirit of the LGBTQ+ community. For me, pride is about the immense gratitude towards all the people who have fought for our  rights to love and express who we are and also it’s a celebration of those who continue to make an impact. In the world of social media, there are lots of LGBTQ+ bloggers and influencers who have made an impact on me. I thought I would list my favourites gay influencers  who continue to inspire me with their dedication to their craft and the positive impact they have.

1. @thetravellinggays

This handsome pair are an inspiration with their constant travelling around the world  and showcasing the best gay destinations on offer. With their incredible wedding photos (you have to take a look) and their romantically gushing  posts ( No, you’re jealous! Lol), Doug and Sanjay provide such a positive Insta-space full of happiness, acceptance and love.

Photo from @thetravellinggays

 

2. @omgbartomgbart.com

Based between NYC and Connecticut, this male beauty blogger has previously worked in PR and social media for beauty and fashion companies. With a cosmetic cabinet the size of a luxury boutique, there is nothing he hasn’t tried and tested. His blog covers a multitude of beauty brands spanning all budgets for all sexes and his expert reviews are honest, informative and witty.

Photo from @omgbart

 

3. @darrenkennedyofficialdarrenkennedy.co.uk

Darren Kennedy is a TV Presenter, Fashion Columnist and one of the UK and Ireland’s top lifestyle influencers. I recently featured an interview with him on my Blu Blazer Guy Chats section and it was fantastic to find out about him and his career. I am a huge fan of his social media which is a concoction of positivity, style and charm and there are lots of good fashion tips thrown in there for good measure.

From @darrenkennedyofficial

 

4. @mistercarringtonmrcarrington.co.uk

Mr Carrington is a London based blogger covering lifestyle, Travel and Fashion. Separately on @mrcarringtonhome he blogs about home interiors which defiantly kept me going through lockdown, its amazing what you can do with old peanut butter pots! He is prolific on YouTube and his videos are always fun, informative and down to earth. I love his Instagram page as it has a very laid back, honest and  with lots of great quality shots, he oozes that relaxed vibe.

Photo from @mistercarrington

 

5. @manforhimselfmanforhimself.com

Robert James is a Scottish digital creator based in London and is the king of all things grooming and lifestyle. His social media and website are sleek, well presented and cover a multitude of brands and subjects. As a fragrance fanatic, I find his fragrance videos highly addictive and you can always count on him to know what current the in-vogue scent is. His witty nature brings a humour in his accompanying stories, which give a great personal insight into his daily life.

Photo from @manforhimself

 

6. @james_s_welsh

James is a popular beauty blogger with a YouTube Channel of over 800k followers and he definitely knows his stuff. With an array of videos covering reviews, product hauls and skincare routines, his videos are fun and full of useful information. There isn’t a product that he hasn’t covered and I can’t help by binge watch his videos, especially when there are some very interesting collaborations on there as well.

Photo from @james_s_welsh

 

7. @nomadicboysNomadicboys.com

I have been following Stefan and Sebastien for years now. This sweet gay couple specialise in gay travel and through their blog and social media, you truly feel like you get to know them on a more personal level. Their blog covers the best travel destinations for the gay community, gay travel resources and lots of hints and tips of where they have visited around the world. They are huge advocates for the LGBTQ+ community and it’s not difficult to fall in love with them as their relationship is so cute. I often tell my fiancé that I wish he’d look at me the way Sebi looks at Stefan.  

Photo from @nomadicboys

 

8. @brightbazaarbrightbazaarblog.com

Will Taylor is a British born NYC based blogger and Interior design author. I have been following his blog since way back in 2011. His blog covers an array of subjects including design, style and travel. What I like the most is his hashtag MakeYouSmileStyle and that’s certainly what happens when you open up his colourful social media, blog or books. His photos are full of my favourite colour (blue) but also pops of colour from every hue of the rainbow. Will’s uplifting and friendly nature has ensured that bright bazaar is a positive and inspiring space full of interesting topics.

Photo from @brightbazaar

 

9. @ahouselikethisahouselikethis.com

A House Like This is an interior design  inspired page by couple Ky and James, not forgetting their cute little dog called Ezra. They take us through each room of their home whilst they redecorate and renovate. Being a huge interior design fan, their grid is one of my favourite Instagram pages to follow. Not only that, they now have their very own home fragrance brand  AHLT,  where they sell a range of 100% natural soy wax candles with the most amazing scents and have even expanded to include hand wash and lotion for hard-working hands. These guys are doing so well and I wish them so much success.

From @ahouselikethis

 

10. @m.rbeautymarkrogersbeauty.com

If you are looking for a great selection of beauty tips then look no further than expert Mark Rogers aka m.rbeauty. After working in the beauty industry for over 11 years, he has the best tips for applying makeup, tan and anything else that enhances your natural beauty. His reviews on different products are informative with a huge slice of fun.

From @m.rbeauty

There are so many successful LGBTQ+ bloggers and influencer out there, this selection is just a tip of the iceberg and I haven’t been able to include all my favourites. What are your favourite LGBTQ+ influencers and why?

Highland Escape

Highland Escape

Although it looks like we will be unable to grab our passports and fly off to a sunny destination anytime soon, I look forward to the day where we can travel in our very own country. The popularity of staycations looks likely to soar this year as soon as restrictions and guidelines allow and perhaps we can really take this opportunity to explore the beauty that lies on our very own doorstep. 

Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands is an area of stunning beauty and is notably known for its apparent monstrous inhabitant, Nessie. In 1924 a man named Robert Kenneth looked across the water from the drawing-room of a lochside property and it’s here where the famous photo of the alleged monster was taken. Today this property is known as Highland Escape, a stunning six-bedroom private hire house that has been meticulously restored to celebrate Scottish art, culture and history.

As soon as the property appeared on the market, founder Mathew Meredith, who works in the music business in London couldn’t wait to get his hands on it. Due to its stunning location and infamous history, it was his ultimate goal to restore the property to its former glory, adding a few contemporary touches whilst remaining sensitive to its past.

I was recently invited to stay for the weekend (pre-covid) and I couldn’t wait to experience this historic building and all the bespoke services that are on offer. After a glorious drive through Scotland’s renowned scenery, I arrived to the glimmering water of Loch Ness and as if out of a fairytale the house appeared majestically on the horizon. Its exterior slowly comes into view and as soon as I stepped out of the car I couldn’t help but look at it in awe.

The Old Manse as the building is also known, exudes a typical Victorian exterior with turreted roof, sash windows and impressive stonework. Alongside The Old Manse is Bona Church, a quant and spacious addition to the house which can cater for intimate weddings and ceremonies.

Bona Church

I was met by the passionate Highland Escape Director, Magda Meredith who kindly provided me with a welcoming glass of champagne and encouraged me to explore the property, which of course I couldn’t wait to do. On entering the house I was completely taken aback by its stunning elegance, its large entrance hall setting the tone of what you can expect throughout the rest of the property.

Antique furniture that has been locally sourced from the Highlands stands sophisticatedly against the mellow hues of the wall as if they have been there forever and a sweeping staircase entices you in to explore the rest of this eloquent building.

The living room is a large and inviting space where no money has been spared and its roaring open fire conjures up images of relaxed evenings and a warming glass of whisky, of which I certainly did later that night. Specially selected antique furniture enhance the room, however it is the addition of small details that really make this place special. An elaborate and extremely comfortable sofa from British company Tetrad adds a sumptuous and luxurious touch and the addition of a large Harris Tweed footstool brings in a further traditional Scottish element. The artwork that hangs splendidly in each room tells the history of the Jacobite uprising and local prints that pepper the walls are from the famous Leakey’s bookshop in Inverness.

Adjoining the living room is ‘the snug’ which again benefits from an open fire, antique furniture, artwork and beautiful hints of luxury such as the bespoke handmade blinds from Mulberry. I especially loved this room in the evening watching one of the many movies on offer whilst the roaring fire crackled away in the background.

The Snug

The country kitchen is both spacious and light and is equipped with everything guests could possibly need. As well the traditional elements they have included many contemporary appliances including large fridge/freezer with wine cooler, double-sized cooker, dishwasher and wash machine.

Adjoining the kitchen and leading to the backdoor, is the fantastic addition of a boot room, providing guests with wellington boots, jackets and raincoats.

The Boot Room

Next to the kitchen is the impressive dining room which seats up to twelve people. This palatial yet comfortable room takes in the impressive views of Loch Ness and is where the famous photograph of the mysterious monster was taken.

The Dining Room

The property has six bedrooms over two floors which allows up to 12 guests to enjoy this lavish escape. Each of the bedrooms have their own distinct personalities yet manage to seamlessly blend together with the rest of the property. There are two super king four poster beds, two super king sleigh beds and two king sized beds each embellished with lamb’s wool throws and windows that take advantage of the surrounding views.

On the second floor, each of the rooms benefits from en-suite ‘Jack & Jill’ bathrooms which are generous in size and have the most exquisite interior design each containing a selection of premium towels and toiletries.

All of the rooms benefit from their very own tea and coffee stations, branded dressing gowns and slippers, meaning guests can relax in true highland comfort. I settled for one of the bedrooms in the upper floor that looked upon the surrounding hills, it was extremely relaxing and the huge comfortable bed insured I had one of the best sleeps ever.

What sets this private hire accommodation above the rest is when guests book directly with Highland Escape they can completely tailor your trip to make it as relaxing or as adventurous as possible. Highland Escape provides numerous bespoke packages which truly allow guests to get to know the area and enjoy this house to its fullest.

Me & Tony (Tour Guide at Tour Highlands)

I was treated to a privately escorted tour by Tour Highlands which included my very own knowledgable driver, luxury vehicle and customised itinerary.

Learning about Loch Ness

This individually designed tour really allowed me to delve into the history, culture and heritage of the region. This was one of the highlights of my stay and Tony our guide was extremely informative, humorous and friendly.

Whisky tasting at Glen Ord Distillery

As well as the above Highland Escape also have their very own luxury golf tours along with a concierge service, clay pigeon shooting and exclusive access to fishing areas in the Highlands with top guides, which I can’t wait to experience when I go back.

For guests who don’t wish to cook whilst on vacation then Highland Escape have the perfect answer. They provide guests with their very own chefs who can cook a bespoke restaurant-quality meal in the privacy of the home. Prior to my stay I pre-selected my food from an extensive menu of high quality local produce. As soon as I arrived back from my day trip around Loch Ness, the chef duo Steven and Veronika were already hard at work creating their culinary works of art.

Chefs Steven & Veronika

It was fantastic to sit back in the dining room with a glass of wine by the flickering fire and be served some spectacular dishes. This is just one of the services available which makes your experience at Highland Escapes both outstanding and remarkable.

Highland Escape provides a unique and memorable stay in a stunning area of Scotland. It shines not only due to the exceptional property but also because of the added bespoke benefits which truly makes a trip here unforgettable.

They have cleverly managed to combine the relaxation of a self-catering vacation with the added benefits of luxurious hotel service. If you are looking for a exuberant getaway at an affordable price in a remarkable location, then look no further than the immaculately presented Highland Escape.

Take a video tour on my IGTV.

Opening July 15th 2020. Book direct at highland-escape.com

Fathers Day Gift Guide 2020

Fathers Day Gift Guide 2020

I don’t know about you but when it comes to Father’s Day I find it very difficult to get my dad the perfect gift. I have come across some amazing products and I thought I would share them with you to make choosing your Father’s Day gift that little bit easier. Whether it be for your father or a special father figure, I am sure you will find the perfect item.

Mens Grooming

Horace

I first discovered this brand whilst in France and I couldn’t wait to share it on the blog. Horace is a men’s grooming range that uses ingredients that are a minimum of 95% natural ingredients. This simple yet effective range of products are very affordable and each one is formulated with ingredients that are proven to work. The range covers an array of grooming needs from haircare, fragrance and even oral care. Here are my favourites in the range;

Mesoa Skincare

What first caught my eye with this brand is their focus on male mental health. Not only does a percentage of their profits go towards male suicide and mental health charities, but they also have an online community on their website where men can share their own stories and chat to each other. Of course, the products are fantastic too and their simple packaging and informative website make it easy to understand what each of the products does by explaining their key benefits clearly. Here are my favourites;

Acqua di Parma Haircare

I am a huge fan of Acqua Di Parma fragrances and their Barbiere range is the perfect addition to this quintessential Italian range. Each of the products includes the stunning original cologne fragrance which is both uplifting and masculine.

Aurezzi

If you want to buy your father something unique then why not opt for this range of 24k gold pated oral health range from Aurezzi. Swedish designed with Swiss quality and backed by 168 years of dentistry this range exudes quality and style whilst being practical at the same time. The toothbrush has an exceptional density of bristles which not only helps clean the teeth thoroughly but also helps the brush retain its shape over time. It also comes with a stunning stand that you can proudly display the brush in. The toothpaste also includes gold particles and hydroxyapatite to clean and whiten the teeth.

Drinks

Flavair

I recently discovered this fine spirit membership club and I was very impressed. The club offers a number of benefits which will keep any spirit connoisseur happy. Each quarter, members receive a full-size bottle along with a themed tasting box that includes three 50ml samples, tasting notes and a Flaviar concrete coaster. It’s the perfect gift for someone who likes to experience spirits that are not always available in shops.

Feragaia

If he doesn’t drink alcohol but still wants to experience a tipple then why not treat him to Scotland’s first premium alcohol-free spirit. Feragaia contains 14 responsibly sourced botanicals from both land and sea that have been combined to create a delicious drink full of flavour, depth and body. With zero sugar and all-natural flavour, it makes a healthy alternative to alcohol.

Fragrances 

D.S. & Durga

Based in New York, this perfume house creates a fantastic range of fragrances that translates musical and literary pieces into scent. There are so many to choose from that I could recommend however I opted for Italian Citrus in the end. This spicy and citrusy scent reminds me of a traditional cologne however it has so much more depth and longevity. Its immediate fresh citrus blast provides an uplifting feeling of positivity and throughout the day the fragrance rises from the skin flirting between citrus, spicy, sweet and floral.

Stories Parfums

Created by Tonya Kidd-Beggs in the perfume capital of the world, Grasse, Stories is a perfume house that encapsulates the finest raw materials using traditional methods of perfumery. As soon as you spray them on you can tell that they were made with passion and they exude so much soul and life. Their complex notes interweave to create the most beautiful scents that float from the skin throughout the day. I couldn’t choose between the both of them as they both have such beautiful and individual personalities.

Rook Perfumes

After a complete re-brand and re-launch of Rook Perfumes in February 2020, I was immediately captivated by the new contemporary look and range of luxury fragrances. At the core of the brand is the simple yet impactful triangle not only representing the top, middle and base notes of a fragrance but also the balance of Nadeem’s career in performing, perfumery and medicine. All of the fragrances are fantastic but I recommend Forest, a fresh and uplifting scent that will transport the wearer to nature. Check my previous blog to find out more about this fragrance house.

For other fragrances check out my recommendations here.

Elemis Superfood Home Facial

Elemis Superfood Home Facial

I don’t know about you but I have been looking for an array of things to help me take my mind of everything that is going on at the moment and self-care has been one thing that I has kept me going. There is nothing I miss more than a relaxing facial treatment and I am missing my visits to Soprano Ice’s Facial Spa located in the south of Edinburgh. They recently came to the rescue and very kindly supplied me with a range of vegan and plant-based products from the Elemis superfood range.

The first thing you obviously need in order to carry out the facial is the products. Luckily Elemis Superfood products are an affordable range and are available on many online stores. They are vegan and plant-based and full of prebiotics that helps calm, hydrate and smoothes the skin. What’s even better is that it’s suitable for all ages so if you wish you can get the whole household to join in.

I thought I would use the range to do a nurturing facial at home that you guys could incorporate into your routine to help boost your skin’s health whilst helping you relax and unwind. So find a quiet place in the house, light up your favourite candle, put on some relaxing music and let me show you how to carry out your very own facial at home.

Step One – Double cleanse 

Double cleansing the skin helps remove makeup, SPF and any impurities that may have built upon the skin throughout the day. It also prepares the skin in order for it to fully absorb all the products that will be used in the facial.

First Cleanse

The first cleanser is the Superfood Facial Wash, this gel has a really thick and hydrating texture. It is filled with prebiotics to help balance the skin and includes an array of nutritious super greens such as kale, wheatgrass and broccoli.

Superfood Facial Wash

Directions – Apply the cleanser to dry skin, massage and take a moment to absorb the lovely fresh and uplifting scent (which reminds me of a really nutritious green smoothie). Using a warm damp face cloth, gently remove the cleanser from the face.

Breath in those lovely aromas

Second Cleanse 

Cleanse your face again but this time uses the Superfood Cica Calm Foam Cleanser. This cleanser provides antioxidant protection from fermented green tea seed oil. It also includes olive, mango and rice water which keeps the skin hydrated and provides the skin with nutrients.

Superfood Cica Calm Cleansing Foam

Directions – Apply a few pumps into the hand and massage onto a wet face and then with a dampened cloth, delicately remove the product from the skin.

Step Two – Tone

After cleansing its time to tone the skin with the Superfood Keri Tea Mist Spray. It includes rooibos tea which is a rich antioxidant and also has aloe Vera and coconut water which again provides extra nourishment. This can be used at the toning stage but it also throughout the day to give an added boost to the skin.

Superfood Kefir-Tea Mist

Directions – Close your eyes, spray over the skin and allow to absorb.

Step Three – Exfoliate

The next step of the facial is exfoliation and this is done using the fantastic Superfood Blackcurrant Jelly Exfoliator. Not only does this product smell amazing it also contains small blackcurrant particles to exfoliate and remove any build-up of dead skin cells. The addition of glycerin leaves the skin feeling smooth and soft.

Superfood Blackcurrant Jelly Exfoliator

Directions – Apply a thin layer to the skin and leave on like a mask and whilst those nutritional ingredients absorb fully it’s time to do a facial steam. You can purchase facial steamers online but this can easily be done by using simple items in the home. Fill a large bowl with hot water and place a your head above the steam. In order to capture the steam further place a towel overhead. For an added spa-like experience, add some essential oils to the water and breath in those lovely aromas. Do this for around ten minutes.

Before removing you can really take the opportunity to sculpt the face and use massage techniques in order to encourage lymphatic drainage. This helps depuff the face and release toxins. Ria from Soprano Ice has some tips below:

Afterwards, massage the skin fully so that the blackcurrant particles exfoliate further and then remove with a damp cloth.

Step Four – Face Mask 

It is time to treat the skin using the Superfood Vital Veggie Mask. This particularly helps with dull skin as its full of brightening and nourishing ingredients. As well as being packed full of super greens it also has passion fruit acid in there which hydrates the skin. The mask doesn’t use clay which can often dry out the skin.

Superfood Vital Veggie Mask

Directions – Apply a thin layer to the skin and allow those nourishing ingredients to get to work. Now is a great time to sip on a lovely green tea, listen to some tranquil music, lay back and relax. After 10-15 minutes, rinse the mask off using a warm dampened cloth.

Step Five – Calm, Hydrate and Moisturise

The last step really depends on the condition of your skin. Lately, mines has been very dehydrated, so I am going to use a combination of products to help with this condition.

The Superfood Cica Calm Hydration Juice is a really light gel moisturiser designed to help cool and calm the skin. It includes aloe Vera and cucumber, so really good if you have any sensitivity issues. It has a light uplifting scent and leaves the skin refreshed.

Superfood Cica Calm Hydration Juice

Directions – Apply a small amount to the fingers and massage into the skin and allow the product to fully absorb.

Using an oil not only helps seal in those previous products but also adds a further boost of hydration to the skin. Superfood Facial Oil is filled with rich omegas from broccoli, flaxseed and rosehip oil and has a really fresh and uplifting fragrance.

Superfood Facial Oil

Directions – Apply a few drops to the hand, warm into the palms and press into the skin on the face. Although the oil has a thick consistency it is easily absorbed and leaves your skin looking dewy and refreshed.

To final step of the facial is to apply the Superfood Moisturiser which comes in both a day and night format. Although they are both filled with vitamin-enriched super greens the night cream has a richer consistency and has the inclusion of lavender and ylang-ylang oil.

Superfood Cream

Directions – Apply a few pumps of the product in the hand, warm it between the fingers and massage into the skin.

Glowing skin

I was very impressed with this range of products and even though I don’t normally gravitate towards vegan skincare, using this range really surprised me. My skin was left glowing, supple and healthy-looking which is what everyone wants from a facial right? I know its not the same as going out for a treatment but trust me, after using these products it will not only give a boost to the complexion it will give you a moment to help you escape the anxieties and stresses of what’s going on around us. I can’t wait to get out again and visit The Facial Spa, but until then this easy to follow facial will help rescue me from my lockdown skin issues.

Head to my IGTV video to see the facial in action.

Carthusia

Carthusia

I first discovered Carthusia when I was in Liberty of London where I was suddenly enthralled by their fragrances and was overjoyed when I received a bottle of their 2007 fragrance, Numero Uno. It’s exhilarating blend immediately captivated me and I couldn’t wait to find out about this fragrance house which is based on the renowned Italian Island of Capri. In 2019 I visited the island and was lucky enough to meet with Francesca Vuotto from Carthusia who showed me around their beautiful store and gave me a sneak peek of what goes on behind the scenes of their small perfume laboratory.

Walking the meandering streets of Capri I immediately knew I was approaching Carthusia. There was an enchanting fragrance that scented the air as I raced towards its entrance. Its storefront was as traditional and quant as I had hoped for, covered in green foliage, colourful flowers and a trickling water feature.

Its historic symbol created by painter Mario Laboccetta was proudly displayed above its entrance, portraying a “flower siren” a character representing the surreal and mythological landscapes of Capri’s heritage.

Carthusia’s creation has a wonderful historical story that really connects it to the Island of Capri. Legend has it that in 1380,  after hearing that Queen Joan of Anjou was visiting Capri, the father-prior of the Carthusian Monastery of St. James, picked a bouquet of the finest flowers from the island. These remained in the same water for three days and, as he went to discard them, he noticed that it had developed a mysterious and captivating fragrance. So he turned to the friar who specialised in alchemy, who then created the first perfume in Capri called “Garofilium Silvestre Caprese”. In 1948 the Prior of the Charterhouse found the old perfume formula and with the permission of the Pope, revealed them to a chemist from Piemonte in the north of Italy,  thus created the smallest perfume laboratory in the world, calling it “Carthusia,” i.e., “charter house”.

Gardens of Augustus

The Carthusia perfumery sits on an elevated position perfectly located near the scenic Gardens of Augustus and looking out onto the azure waters below. Walking into the store I was completely taken by surprise to how beautiful it was. The interior transported you back in time with its dark wooden counters and shelves lined with several fragrances and jars of dried flowers.

Hand-painted motifs on the walls echoed the flowers and herbs used in the fragrances  and a small spiral staircase added to its old-style character.

Tucked away behind the storefront was the surprisingly small factory where all the magic takes place. I was shocked to see how small the room was considering that the fragrances are distributed all over the world. This just goes to show how dedicated Carthusia is to share these beautiful fragrances all over the globe whilst still managing to retain its original roots.

Large metallic vessels holding each of the blended fragrances line the walls of the laboratory, ready to be decanted. Craftsmen in pristine white coats work passionately to create each fragrance, filling and labelling each bottle by hand.

My favourite fragrance is Numero Uno and not surprisingly I previously featured it in a video review which you can view here. I especially love this scent due to its citrusy and woody notes, but there are many more beautiful unisex fragrances to discover such as the lovely Io Capri, Corallanium and Meditteraneo which I also gravitate towards. 

So, when you visit Southern Italy and wander around the streets of the Amalfi coast, you will no doubt come across a delicate array of fragrances that scent the air. Follow your nose as you are probably within walking distance of the nearest Carthusia store. Carthusia has managed to capture the true essence of Capri in every bottle, therefore  when your return home to the grey skies, with just one spray, you will be transported back to the stunning sun-drenched Italian Island.  

Surviving social distancing and working from home.

Surviving social distancing and working from home.

I don’t know about you but working from home and social distancing has been a huge adjustment for me. Although I am thankful I am safe, spending so many hours in the house can take its toll on your mental and physical wellbeing. I thought I would share some hints, tips and products that I have been using to help keep my body and mind in tip-top condition.

Stick to your usual routine

If you are working from home, try and stick to your normal daily routine. Get up at a normal time, have a relaxing shower and change into some nice clothes. It’s very tempting to just stay in your pj’s but this is not very motivating! Trick your mind into thinking that it’s leaving the house.

Washing your hands

Washing your hands is paramount but using alcohol gel and washing all the time can dry out your skin. I’ve been using This lovely Black Tulip scented hand-wash from Shay & Blue which is both delicate and conditioning. Along with the nourishing hand lotion, it helps keep my hands silky smooth and hydrated. All their products are handcrafted in England with real flowers, fruits and spices.

Skincare

Your usual skincare regime can sometimes slip when you’re in the house all the time but it’s important to take care of your skin and also treat yourself at the same time. I highly recommend MODM Vitamin Repair face oil from The Method in Edinburgh. It’s full of high-quality cold-pressed oils that really nurture the skin. I use their MODM Gua Sha Facial Tool to massage the oil in and this depuffs, sculpts and releases tension in the face.

Self Tan

Isn’t it funny how a little bit of colour on the skin makes you feel and look healthier. For a while, I’ve been on the lookout for tanning products that look natural and are easy to apply. I recently released a blog post on my favourite James Read Self tanning products, head to blublazerguy.com to find out more here.

Skin Protection

If you are working from home and your desk is situated near a window it’s still very important to protect your skin against any UV rays which penetrate the glass. I recommend House of London Face Repair Cream which not only protects you from UV but also Infrared. Their products are organic and aim to feed, correct and protect the skin naturally.

Fragrance

Just because you aren’t going anywhere special doesn’t mean you should skimp on a fragrance. Pick a scent that ignites memories of positive times or one that lifts your spirits. My favourite just now is Italian Citrus by D.S. & DURGA as it’s uplifting, energetic and full of sunshine inspired ingredients.

Home Fragrance

Candles can add an immediate relaxing ambience to any room and coupled with a lovely scent can help calm and soothe the mind. I’ve just started burning this Buongiorno candle from Italian brand Acqua Di Parma. It’s refreshing aromas of freshly cut grass and sun-dried linen transport me to a summers day.

Another great candle is the Oceana candle from Essence of Harris. Oceana washes away worries with the cleansing aromas of samphire & sea minerals. These candles are hand-poured in the Isle of Harris in Scotland. The team are so lovely and have been helping their local community throughout this tough time.

Aromatherapy

Incense is also a great way to lace the air with relaxing aromas. I recently purchased these Azoth – Lavender and Marjoram stick from Lifestory lifestyle store in Edinburgh. The comforting essential oils immediately make me feel at ease. If you are looking for a contemporary incense stick holder, check out Concrete Goods who sell a fantastic range of styles and colours.

A Shakti Mat

This may not be for everyone but I absolutely love it and have been using it daily ever since I got it. The Shakti Mat is based on the Indian bed of nails concept. The mat has thousands of sharp spikes which apply pressure to the skin. The first contact with the mat can be overwhelming but once you get used to it you soon slip into this indescribable state of relaxation, so much so that I sometimes fall asleep on it. The Shakti mats are handmade in the holy city of Varanasi by 72 woman which not only helps the individuals but their family and their community.

Exercise

Working at home can be a challenge both mentally and physically. One of the things that have been helping me is moving my body more. Setting my Alexa alarm hourly reminds me to get up and stretch, lift weights or carry out some cardio. I also make sure I adhere to the government guidelines and get out once a day for a long run and fresh air whilst keeping my distance from other people.

Sleep

I’ve been finding it very difficult to sleep as of late but I found this amazing pillow spray from Drowsy Sleep Co. This spray contains 7 natural oils which help stimulate sensors in the brain to help aid sleep naturally. The fragrance is beautiful and it’s a fantastic additional tool to calm the mind so you can drift off into a deep sleep.

Hydration

Indoor heating and poor hydration can dehydrate your body and your skin so it’s very important to remember to hydrate both inside and out. Fill a water bottle and make sure you take sips frequently and avoid too much coffee, tea and alcohol. For your skin, I’ve found that hyaluronic acids applied before your moisturiser provides a fantastic additional boost of hydration. I recommend Hylamide SubQ skin, Niod Multi-molecular hyaluronic complex and Image total pure hyaluronic filler.

Nutritional Supplements

If you are eating healthy then you should be getting all the nutrition you need from your diet. However, If you require additional supplementation, I’ve recently been trying a new product from getting Nourished which I have been very impressed by. All you have to do is complete a simple questionnaire on their website and they will determine what supplements you need. The vitamins are then 3D printed into one convenient gummy stack which is vegan, sugar-free and tastes absolutely delicious. It’s a really unique and convenient way of taking your daily vitamins and nutrients.

Talk

Last but not least is to make sure you talk and communicate with friends and family on a regular basis. In a world that had become so disconnected, it’s amazing how technology is now helping us to stay as connected as possible with the likes of face time and social media. So when you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, reach out as we are all in this together.

I hope you enjoyed this little guide of things that are truly helping me get through each day at home. Let’s keep adhering to government guidelines and protecting each other by staying home. For information always look at official government websites for the most up to date and accurate advice. We will get through this testing time together and I send all my followers and readers lots of positive vibes. #stayhome #savelives #protectthenhs

Blu Blazer Guy Chats With James Read

Blu Blazer Guy Chats With James Read

After 18 years in the beauty business, tanning expert James Read has become a worldwide name in the tanning industry. Working with an abundance of celebrities, photographers and designers, his underlying dream was always to create his very own brand. Utilising all the knowledge he had gained over the years,  not only did he create his own brand, but he also managed to infuse his tanning products with the benefits of luxury skincare. With a copiousness amount of prestigious awards and a following from all around the world (me being one of them) it is no wonder this brand keeps going from strength to strength. I caught up with James to find out more about him and his successful company.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what lead you to become one of the world’s leading tanning experts?

I have worked in the industry for 18 Years and was the first self-tan expect to start the trend for layering your tan and making self-tan not just a spray tan but an experience. I previously worked with eight self-tan brands before starting mine, which helped me gain the experience and knowledge to launch my own brand.

What inspired you to create your very own self-tanning range?

Ever Since I was at school I wanted to be known for something. I remember watching The September Issue back in 2009 while working for St Tropez and there was a part where Anna Wintour’s dad asked her at 15 years old what she wanted to do when she was older, she said she wanted to be editor of American Vogue and now look at where she is. This inspired me to start my own brand, to create a brand that was both skincare and self-tan and to make a difference in the self-tan world. Years later I was at a launch for Net a porter and told by the beauty director of American Vogue that I had a whole page in the April issue for my sleep mask tan, I cried after she left as it was a dream come true.

Your Sleep Tan Mask (which is one of my favourite products) became world-renowned due to its combination of self-tanning and luxury skincare ingredients, what inspired you to combine the two? 

I used to use overnight hydrating masks and one day it clicked that no one has ever created a self-tan that combines both self-tan and skincare but also one that is an overnight self-tan, this is when the sleep mask tan was born. Eight years on and it won over 35 beauty awards.

James Read products are formulated with tantone technology, which promises its users the perfect golden glow, how does this technology work?

To me, Tantone creates a tan that looks natural and glowing but also takes the worry out of self-tanning. I wanted to create a perfect range of products where the tan works as a background colour and compliments your whole look but never overpowers it, which I believe I have successfully done.

What are your top tips for a flawless self-tan application?

Never over-apply your self-tan and always apply your self-tan in stages leaving your hands and feet till last. With the hands and feet always work the leftover self-tan over these areas so it looks more natural. In order to prolong your tan moisturise daily and exfoliate three days after to help your tan fade more evenly.

You have a few products geared towards men, is there a difference between the self-tan products for men and women?

The men’s self-tan for the face is more about calming the skin after shaving. The great thing about my brand is there is a product for everyone as the products are so natural.

Have you noticed an increase in men using self-tanning products?

Yes for sure, men are using more skincare as well as self-tan, they are also more conscious of what they put on their skin.  The fake orange look is so far away, today it’s about looking healthy but also golden.

One of your missions was to change the world’s perception of tanning, which I believe you have done, do you have any new product innovations or ideas coming to fruition in the near future? 

I have some amazing new stuff launching this year that will again change how people see self-tan, my lips are sealed but trust me you will be one of the first to know. To me it’s about being a leader, not a follower, never look to the left or right but look straight ahead, that way you never lose your direction.

This is completely off the subject of tanning, but as a fragrance lover, I ask this question to everyone, what is your favourite fragrance?

Byredo Bal d’Afrique, I love it so much!

Thank you James for taking the time out to answer these questions. Keep your eyes on James Reid Tan social for all up to date information.

Head to my blog post here to find out what my top favourite James Read products are.

James Read Tan – Self Tanning

James Read Tan – Self Tanning

Let’s face it we all love a good tan, it makes us feel and look healthy. After years of burning my skin in the name of vanity and with all the recent evidence of how bad sunbeds and sunbathing is, I decided enough is enough. I am now an avid user of self-tanning products and after trailing through different brands that never really provided the results I wanted, I finally came across James Read Tan who combines self-tanning with luxury skincare. Here are my top favourite products;

Sleep Mask Face Retinol

The first product I fell in love with and one that has taken the world by storm is the gradual tanner sleep mask. When using tanning products on my face I always thought I was missing out on my normal skincare and other self-tanners left my face dry and tight. James Read has cleverly included key skincare ingredients in this product including encapsulated Retinol, hyaluronic acid. Along with other skin-loving ingredients, this combination helps with the reduction in the signs of fatigue, dark circles and a dull complexion, so your skin isn’t missing out on anything at all.

The texture of this product is more serum-like and it absorbs easily into my skin. As with all tanning products, I exfoliate my face prior to applying this face mask so that it goes on evenly. As it is a gradual tanner, I can control the amount I use throughout the week to get the desired level of colour I want.

H20 Tan Drops

If you are not a fan of using retinol products and again you don’t want to skip your usual skincare routine then this product is fantastic. I apply this in the evenings when I don’t use the sleep mask and it is so convenient to use. All I do is add a few drops (this varies depending on the level of colour I want) into my normal moisturiser and it’s as simple as that.

The ingredients do not interact with your moisturiser in any way, so you can relax in the knowledge that you will be getting a great tan while still benefiting from your usual skincare.

The Glow 1 hour Face & Body

When I am in a hurry or life has been so busy that I have forgotten to tan throughout the week, this is the perfect last-minute product. Formulated with aloe vera, hyaluronic acid and jojoba seed oil, you are yet again getting the benefits of luxury ingredients whilst obtaining a tan. All you do is apply using a mitt and within 30 minutes you can start to see the glow appearing.

As I have pale skin I only need to keep this product on for around 45 minutes before washing it off and afterwards, I am left with a healthy golden glow. This is convenient to use before a night out or an event and doesn’t give off that undesirable fake tan aroma.

Hydra Tan Mist – for Men

Even though James Read products are unisex this Hydra Tan Mist with its chic black packaging and fresh fig and ginger fragrance has been tailored towards men. This mist is perfect for the man who is on the go as it is quick to use and very fast-drying. As it is colourless it also takes out the worry of any colour appearing on your fresh new shirt. It also calms and hydrates after shaving which is an added bonus. As with all the other products it features Tantone Technology which ensures the most natural result for your skin tone.

I sometimes spray this over my normal moisturiser throughout the day for an extra boost of hydration, knowing that I will also get a hint of colour at the same time. This is a multi-tasking and convenient product and one that should be in every guy’s toiletry case.

If you want to know more about the man behind the tan, head to my ‘chats with’ section where I chat to James Read about his life, career and his renowned self-tanning brand.

Float Philosophy

Float Philosophy

This time of the year is all about recalibrating the body and mind and I am always on the lookout for new ways of doing this. I recently came across Float Philosophy, a fantastic place that provides floatation therapy. I had heard about floatation therapy from a few friends and had been wanting to try it out for a while. I must admit I was a tad nervous as I really didn’t know what to expect, however as I arrived at the stunning countryside setting those anxious feelings had begun to dissipate.

The owner Nick has beautifully converted a previous farm barn on the outskirts of Edinburgh into a tranquil space. The relaxation room is where visitors can relax and unwind before and after their treatment. It is a calming blend white walls, artwork displaying positive quotes and comfortable contemporary furniture which is set off by a beautiful large window that frames the surrounding countryside views.

For those of you that don’t already know, floatation therapy involves lying in a bath of water combined with large amounts of Epsom salts (which allows the body to float) in a specially constructed pod. The pod is then closed and you are completely shut off from the outside world allowing you to truly disconnect and enter a zone of peace and tranquillity. Many countries around the world already use this therapy and in some places its prescribed by their doctor for a number of ailments. Due to stressful lives, sensory overload and the inability to switch off, there have been many studies into the psychological benefits of this therapy including:

·         Deep relaxation and Stress Relief

·         Promotes Wellbeing

·         Disconnection

·         Improves Sleep

As well as benefits to mental health it can also help with a number of physical conditions including;

·         Chronic Pain Management (such as muscle tension, Fibromyalgia and Arthritis)

·         Sports Recovery

Each pod is located in its very own room with a shower, including toiletries and towels, so you really don’t need to worry about bringing anything but yourself. When I first thought of lying in a pod in complete darkness, the fear of feeling claustrophobic did cross my mind but as soon as I saw the pod, I was pleasantly surprised. The state of the art pods are very spacious as they were originally built for athletes, so much so that they are in fact the size of a small car.

Before entering the pod you are asked to take a shower, ensuring you are clean and free of any skin products. As you are showering the pod automatically fills with the water and Epsom salt solution, then the soothing lights and music starts to play. After inserting earplugs (which are also provided) it was time to lay back, close the pod and experience floatation therapy.

As soon as my body entered the water and started to float I honestly felt an immediate relief from all my body pain (due to recently starting the gym and sitting at a desk all day) so much so that I let out a huge sigh! The water itself is continuously heated to body temperature so you tend to forget that it’s there and it feels almost if you are laying on a cloud. For ten minutes the soft light and music played and then slowly phased out leaving complete darkness. It is here where the true test lies as every one of your senses is cut off (sensory deprivation) and you are left with your own thoughts. At first, I became a tad restless and started to think about normal everyday thoughts but after around ten minutes I began to drift off into a state that is quite difficult to describe. My body became so relaxed that it would drift around in circles (that’s how big the pod is) and my mind became very silent and still.

My worry prior to the therapy was that I would fall asleep and drown or have some sort of accident. However this is literally impossible because soon as your body begins to turn on its side, it automatically goes on its back again. The whole session lasts around an hour and I was completely surprised when the lights and music gently came back on, it honestly felt like I was in there for no more than twenty minutes. As soon as I got out and had a shower I felt so relaxed as if coming out of massage treatment or a really nice nap.

After getting changed there is also a separate vanity room where hairdryers and mirrors are provided, yet again taking the worry out of having to bring lots of things with you. You then have the opportunity to sit in the relaxation room and enjoy a warming cup of herbal tea and read one of the many books on offer. What I especially loved was that you don’t feel rushed and the whole experience is truly geared towards making you feel as comfortable and chilled out as possible. I had dabbled before in meditation and mindfulness but was never able to fully focus. This however allowed me to truly switch off and not reach for my phone (well except once for blog reasons 😉 After a hectic year and busy festive period, I was looking for something help me to completely disconnect and this was the perfect solution. I can only imagine that continued use of floatation therapy would definitely benefit individuals who suffer from the ailments above and each time falling into that zen state would get easier. Float Philosophy is definitely a place I would return to.  When I left I felt as if I was on cloud nine and that night I had the best sleep ever.

Float Philosophy
6 Roddinglaw Business Park
Roddinglaw Road
Edinburgh
EH12 9DB

email: info@floatphilosophy.com
Telephone: 0131 285 8770

 

Nick Ede – Philanthropist and PR Guru

Nick Ede – Philanthropist and PR Guru

In 2020 I continue my search for inspirational people and share them with you through my “Blu Blazer Guy Chats with” blog posts. Over the past few years due to the ever-growing power of social media, I have been closely following the work of renowned philanthropist Nick Ede. With an unstoppable spirit and unlimited amount of energy, he pours his life and soul into working with charities and is now founder of his own; Style for Stroke. His work also includes organising numerous prestigious events which have become renowned the world over and help to raise funds for several charities. In addition, he is also CEO of East of Eden London which creates brand experience campaigns for clients not only in the charity sector but also consumer, lifestyle and fashion. If that wasn’t enough, his career has also allowed him to delve into the world of TV where he has judged and presented on numerous shows. I caught up with Nick to find out about his admirable work and illustrious career.

Nick Ede

First of all Nick, I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. You are a widely recognised philanthropist and have dedicated your life to numerous charities, with a specific emphasis on stroke charities, Can you tell me where it all started and what drove you towards this?

Thank you so much for inviting me onto your platform. From a young age, I’ve always been interested in altruism and wanted to make a difference, but I really started to want to do more when my mother sadly passed away with a stroke when I was 23. She died on the same day that Princess Diana died and so the world was a very sad place. I had no idea what a stroke was and it really angered and frustrated me that I didn’t know, so I decided to contact the stroke association and see if I could do more to help by either fundraising or volunteering. I decided to put on a night called ‘A night with Nick’ and I invited all my friends to buy tickets. At the time I had not famous contacts, So I wrote to numerous agents and asked if the clients would like to come. It was 1998 and all before Instagram and Twitter, so most communicating was done via fax or very slow modem-based emails. I remember having to fax Mark Moody who was the social editor for OK! Magazine to ask if he would feature my event and to my surprise, I received a reply saying yes. This fax really did change my life and I still have this fax to this day. On my first event, Jamie Oliver attended along with the cast of Eastenders and numerous soap starts. The next day the event was in the papers and the following week it graced the pages of OK! Magazine. This spurred on my interest both in PR, events and ultimately fundraising. I have now hosted an annual ‘A night with Nick’ for over 18 years and it has grown so big we have now attracted stars such as Luke Evans, Kelly Osbourne, Kelly Rowland and Naomi Harris who all attend and support.

As CEO of PR company East of Eden, you get to work with some of the world’s largest brands, clients and celebrities as well as continue your work in charity. What has been the highlight of your career and are there any goals, dreams or aspirations that you still wish to achieve?

I have so many highlights that I find it difficult to pinpoint a particular one. We launched Spanx in the UK, Hosted the VIP area for The V Festival and launched the cast of Geordie Shore, we have always been able to be at the right place at the right time with what we do. Part of this is down to my past and present teams, many of them have gone on to set up their own wonderful agencies and it’s great to see them doing so well. I have many aspirations to achieve greater things with the agency and we are looking to not only expand but work smarter too. I love that we have a really diverse client list who all compliment each other really well, it makes every day different and exciting, which is always a good thing.

After its success in 2018, you joined forces with Alexandra Burke to organise The Fall Ball which took place at Café de Paris in London this year. For those who don’t already know, can you describe what The Fall Ball is and how it contributes so greatly to the awareness of the charities involved?

Alex and I have been good friends for a while now and I asked if she would star in a campaign we did for BBC Children in Need, where she appeared for one night only in Les Miserables. We hit it off and stayed in touch and when her mother sadly passed away 2 years ago from a stroke, we decided to do something together to celebrate our mothers. Alexandra has the Melissa Bell Foundation that gives grants to Sylvia Young Students who are unable to afford a scholar scholarship and my foundation supports Interact Stroke and The Stroke Association. The Fall Ball is a fabulous event full of love, hope, inspiration and wonderful live music. In 2020 we will have our third ball and we are also looking at hosting one in either LA or New York.

Alexandra Burke & Nick Ede

You seem a very grounded individual, especially in the way you approach your work and how you engage with people. How important is it for you to remain authentic in a somewhat unauthentic world?

I am not phased by anything or anyone and to be honest one of the main things I remember my mother saying to me was to be true to yourself. If this all stopped tomorrow then I can honestly say I have done everything I wanted to do, apart from writing a book that is!

Working on TV and being in the spotlight seems to come very natural to you. Where does this talent come from and have you always desired to be on TV?

My mother had been a musical theatre actress and I was always in the school plays and although quite shy at times, I loved performing. I studied drama at Bretton Hall University in Leeds and I loved it so much as it really helped me with confidence and communication skills which I now use every day. When I was 30 I was deeply unhappy in my work and also unhappy that I was making more of a difference with the stroke work that I had been doing. A friend of mine worked for a TV production company and I convinced her to give me a contract to be a researcher, I left my well-paid job and started at Shine. I loved every moment of it and I learned so much from being there but in the end, I was told there was no work for me. I felt so despondent and I didn’t know what to do. The next day as I was packing up all my things, I was called to the office and asked if I would like to have a hosting role on a new day time talk show. The show was called The Russell Grant Show and I would be his sidekick ‘, Starstruck Nick’. I literally went from fetching diet cokes for people to be being on daily TV, interviewing celebrities and have my own clothing allowance. It was scary and exciting but ultimately led me to future jobs working on shows such as Taste on Sky One, Lorraine and Market Kitchen to name but a few.

You seem to have quite a busy lifestyle with numerous positions, events and activities. What is a typical day in the life of Nick Ede and how does he relax?

A typical day for me is getting up around 6:30 am and taking Beverly (our new Cavapoochon) out for a walk which I find really relaxes me. I then go to the gym before arriving at the office for 9 AM, Luckily I only live 5 minutes away. My day at the office involves planning with the team, numerous meetings and in the evening I will go to an event. If I have some filming to do then I will work around the team and make sure they know where I am or where to reach me. As well as walking the dog, cooking and going to the cinema and theatre really relaxes me. Now and again I also love visiting The Body Camp in Ibiza which is the perfect way to detox the mind, body and soul.

In 2015 you were awarded the Fashion Philanthropist Award for your ‘Famous Last Words’ fashion collaboration in aid of The Stroke Association and you also were a judge on TV reality show Project Runway. Where does your interest in fashion come from?

I have always loved fashion, design and Print. I went to Glasgow School of Art and did a foundation course there and this sparked an interest that has never left me. I really enjoy looking at the use of fabric and how garments are created and realised. We make judgements on what people are wearing and their personalities before they even speak and I find this so interesting. I am working on two fashion projects at the moment which is really making my creative juices glow. One is a new brand that I am collaborating on with a US manufacturer and the other is an experience, I cannot wait to share them in 2020.

On a more personal note, a few years back you married your lovely partner Andrew with a double ceremony in both London and L.A. As a member of the LGBT+ community, for me, marriage is something that is very important and was one thing I thought I would never be able to do. How important was it for you to get married and also can you tell us about that momentous occasion?

Getting married was such an important thing for us both to do. It cements our commitment together and being a traditionalist at heart, it meant a lot that we were and are able to be married. It should be legalised everywhere! The weddings were both amazing and both so memorable. London was in Dalston at our favourite restaurant called Jones and Sons and Los Angeles was The House of Elyx in Hollywood. I couldn’t have wanted more and I think that they both demonstrated our personalities and our love of friendship and glamour perfectly.

Nick Ede and husband Andrew Naylor.

You are a fellow Scot and were born and bred in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. Since leaving for London, is there anything that you miss about Scotland (except the weather of course)?

I love Edinburgh and any excuse to back and I am there. My brother still lives there, so I visit as much as I can. I miss the friendliness of Scottish people and their sense of humour and I miss a good fish supper the most.

You have accomplished so much in your lifetime, something tells me there is much more to see. So please do tell us, what is next for Nick Ede?

I have a lot of things I want to accomplish and fulfil and I am looking forward to some exciting things happening in 2020. I am mostly looking forward to Style for Stroke making more an impact internationally, East of Eden creating some exciting campaigns and the projects I have been silently working on coming to fruition for people to enjoy. I will sleep when I am dead, so until then there is no chance of me slowing down.

Thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions Nick. You can keep up with all things Nick Ede on his instagram page.

*photography provided by Nick Ede.