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.

Blu Blazer Guy Chats With Adam Ellis – Jo Loves

Blu Blazer Guy Chats With Adam Ellis – Jo Loves

Currently we’re all going through a time where venturing outdoors and travelling has dramatically reduced. As a result, fragrances have become an important vessel in transporting us from lockdown to our favourite places. There is no better ‘fragrance maverick’ that manages to merge scents and memories together than Jo Malone CBE. Her fantastic business Jo Loves is an innovative new scent, bath, body and candle collection that is inspired by special memories and moments of travel.

Meeting Jo Malone CBE

As a lover of fragrance, candles and a huge fan of Jo Loves products I had the privilege catching up with this months ‘Chats With’ guest, Adam Ellis. Adam is the head of education and customer service experience at Jo Loves. I first bumped into Adam at ’An Evening with Jo Malone’ at Space NK Edinburgh and then again in the 42 Elizabeth Street Store in London, where his passion and dedication for the brand was so profoundly evident. His creative background in the arts allows him to tell each story of the fragrance range perfectly. Due to his close working relationship with Jo Malone and his continued dedication to the brand, I thought I would catch up with him to find out more about his career and this renowned brand.

Adam Ellis

Hi Adam, thank you so much for answering my questions today. Firstly, can I ask what your background is and how you ended up working for Jo Loves?

I’m from Swansea, South Wales and trained at Laine Theatre Arts on the 3-year Professional Musical Theatre course from 2000-2003. I was lucky enough to have a great, varied career within the entertainment industry for 13 years. Some of my highlights included Starlight Express, Chicago, Hair, Spamalot.

As I got a bit older I decided that I wanted to try something else that was a bit more stable and I actually took a job at Jo Loves as a Christmas Temp. I’ve always loved fragrances and perfumes. I love that each scent will evoke a totally different emotion or memory in everyone. I worked really hard to learn as much as I could and fast forward nearly 5 years and here I am! I’m so glad I took the leap and gave it a go.

As head of education and customer service experience you must be extremely proud to work for such an esteemed brand, what is it that you love about Jo Loves?

I am incredibly proud of the role I play within Jo Loves and don’t ever take for granted the faith that Jo has in me and my ability to tell her story and launch the brand around the world. I love that Jo Loves is pushing the boundaries with innovation. It’s not scared to be different. I also love that the brand is totally authentic and a true reflection of Jo.

At the 42 Elizabeth Street store in London Jo Loves has turned fragrance into an immersive experience through Fragrance Tapas and a Candle Shot Studio, can you describe what each experience involves and what was the inspiration behind these ideas?

Jo created Fragrance Tapas to be an immersive introduction to the brand. Jo has always loved Tapas restaurants and was inspired to create an experience that served bite-sized pieces of the brand to our consumer. It’s a complimentary experience, you get to come and sit at our bar and be taken through all of our fragrances and the story’s behind each iconic scent. It’s really fun and a real must for any fragrance lover!

The shot candle experience is so fantastic. You step inside our beautiful candle studio and create your very own bespoke candle that combines two fragrances of your choice. We are the only brand in the world who offers this experience and product. It also has a worldwide patent. Both these experiences can be booked in advance by calling the shop or dropping them an email.

42 Elizabeth Street, photo by Jo Loves

It may not be easy but if you had to choose what would be your favourite scent from Jo Loves and why? 

Such a tough one! I’d have to say Green Orange and Coriander. It’s a real soulful citrus fragrance but it also got a beautiful warmth to it. For Jo, it’s an autumn day in New York, having Sunday brunch next to a roaring log fire with a large, full-bodied red wine in hand. I cover myself in it all year round though and always have compliments when I wear it.

I met the wonderful Jo Malone CBE (and you) a few years back and heard Jo’s story behind the brand and was completely hypnotised by her creativity and tenacity, how is it working so closely with her in your job role?

Jo is incredibly hands-on with the brand which I love. We work very closely together and are often travelling to launch the brand in new territories. We have such a giggle on the road together. We work very hard when we are away but we will always reward ourselves with an in cold white wine to end the day. It’s so important to celebrate even small achievements.

I noticed that within your job role you get to travel quite a lot and Jo Loves fragrances are very much inspired by memories of travel. Where is your favourite place to visit in the world and why? 

Travel is always something I’ve enjoyed. In my acting career, I was very lucky to get to travel the world and that hasn’t changed with Jo Loves luckily. I have seen some amazing places with work, including Shanghai, NYC and all over America and the Caribbean.

Last year my husband turned 40 and we travelled to Borneo on a real adventure holiday. It was a once in a lifetime trip and seeing the wildlife where its meant to be in its natural habitat was really breath-taking, especially the Orangutan. We don’t always have such adventurous holidays but we will always spend our money on travel whenever we can.

Jo loves weaves its beautiful fragrances through a number of other items such as candles, bath and body products. Why do you think the world of fragrance is so popular and what makes Jo Loves products stand out from the crowd? 

I think fragrance is part of self-expression. It’s part of how we want the world to see us. It’s so personal and many fragrances will smell totally unique on each person.

I think Jo Loves products stand out because they have been created from a very authentic place. Each one inspired by Jo’s memories or experiences. When people hear their stories it’s hard not to relate to them.

The red dot is synonymous with Jo Loves packaging, is there any significance to this?

Jo is severely dyslexic and throughout her career has always given her seal of approval to something by Red Dotting it instead of signing it off. When Jo Loves went through a period of rebranding, Jo wanted it to have its own identity for the consumer with a recognisable logo. Jo was travelling to Shanghai as a member of the great campaign and a friend sent her a bottle of shanghai Red nail polish. She dipped a pencil into the nail polish and let a droplet fall onto the white labels in front of her – EUREKA moment the Jo Loves logo was created. Jo wants our consumer to know that every product with the Red Dot has been created by her.

Jo Loves was the first to introduce the world to The Fragrance Paintbrush concept. Being such an innovative fragrance brand, can we expect any new creative and exciting products in the future?

Jo is always working hard to push the boundaries within the fragrance world so hopefully, there will be many more exciting innovations to come! Watch this space!

Fragrance Paintbrush, photo by Jo Malone

This is more for my benefit 🙂 but when will a Jo Loves Store be opening up in Edinburgh? 🙂

Well, you can currently purchase a selection of Jo Loves from SpaceNK of George Street. We are a growing brand so hopefully, it won’t be too long until more Jo Loves boutiques start popping up around the UK and beyond.

Exciting stuff! You can read more about Jo Loves and there products on their website joloves.com

Nourished

Nourished

There has never been a more important time to look after yourself, keeping your body and mind healthy. I don’t know about you but the first few weeks of isolation, being home alone, consisted of a copious amount of unhealthy snacks and a few extra units of alcohol. Of course this was stress-induced and I quickly realised that this was not sustainable in the long run. Pre-Corona, I had been successfully working out at the gym however wasn’t looking after my overall nutrition and I felt like my present nutritional supplements weren’t helping. I usually avoid multi-vitamins because they simply provide more than my body requires, so I would buy individual vitamins according to what I felt my body lacked. This, of course, was expensive and I would often forget to take them. 

Luckily I came across Nourished; an ingenious UK based company who launched late last year. Nourished uses revolutionary new 3D printing methods and patented vegan encapsulation formulae to combine seven ingredients into a personalised chewable vitamin stack tailored specifically to your individual nutritional needs. The idea was created and designed by serial entrepreneur Melissa Snover, who piloted the concept on the renowned TV show Dragons Den. It was then Nourished was born and the worlds first truly customisable and personalised 3D printed nutritional product was launched.

Founder Mellisa Snover

After completing a simple consultation questionnaire online, Nourished did all the hard work and created a perfect combination of vitamin and supplements tailored to my needs. This combination was then 3D printed into my very own vegan and sugar-free vitamin stack. A month’s supply was shipped directly to my door in plastic-free, home compostable packaging. These can be bought as a one-off purchase or in a subscription format. 

Additionally, if you wish to choose your own vitamins and supplements then you can request these online. You can also choose specific Nourished life stacks carefully formulated to promote key benefits, these stacks include:

  • Inner Defence (to support the immune system)
  • Inner Vitality (+ 55) (to support those over the age of 55) 
  • Inner Peace (to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve sleep)
  • Plant-based Power (plant-based nutrition stack)
  • High Flyer (to support those who have a hectic lifestyle)
  • Prenatal (a blend for expectant and pregnant woman)
  • Inner Beauty (for nails, hair and ageing)
  • Party Proofed (for those who like to burn the candles at both ends)
  • Packed & Stacked (to enhance performance, boost energy and aid muscle recovery)
  • Menopure (to help support those going through menopause)

Blu Blazer Guy thoughts:

For the past few months I have been trying my own personalised blend and have been really impressed with the overall experience. The online consultation was relatively quick and easy, and within only a few days I had my own personalised box of vitamins. Because of my previous experience with other chewable vitamins, I thought these vitamin stacks were going to taste terrible, but in fact they are delicious and sweet which genuinely makes taking them so much more satisfying. 

I have also been trying the Nourished Inner / Outer Defence Life Stack which is particularly apt due to the current pandemic that we are going through. This immune-boosting stack includes 7 cleverly combined ingredients to support normal immune function, support gut health and digestion, reduce inflammation and protect against free radicals and foreign toxins. Included in the pack is the ‘outer defence’ hand sanitiser which we currently is in such demand just now. These two go hand in hand to protect from the inside and out. 

These stacks, along with regular exercise are giving me extra confidence knowing that I am supporting my body to best of my ability, both physically and nutritionally. Nourished are not only innovative but also contain well researched ingredients that are of high quality and optimum absorption, which gives me the assurance that I am supplying my body with the best supplements that it needs.

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I can’t say that my recent boost in energy and mood are directly connected to these vitamin stacks but I do believe that they are definitely contributing to my overall health and wellbeing and that can only be good right?

Almond & Lemon cake

Almond & Lemon cake

It appears that for many people this lockdown has unleashed their inner Mary Berry and that includes me. This week let me transport you directly to Italy with my version of a Torta Caprese Al Limone (an almond and lemon cake).

I first experienced this cake whilst visiting the Amalfi Coast and its delicate citrusy flavour and light texture had me hooked immediately. Usual recipes include the addition of cream and butter but this version is light, airy and might I dare even say “healthier”.

Ingredients:

5 medium eggs

2 tbsp of fresh lemon zest

100g of granulated Sugar

150g Ground Almonds

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp white vinegar

Pinch of Salt

Icing sugar for dusting

Method:

1. Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees Celsius and pre-grease a 9-10” cake tin.

2. Add ground almonds, baking powder and ground cardamom to one bowl and whisk together.

3. Add egg yolks, 50g of the granulated sugar and lemon zest to another bowl and beat until smooth.

4. Add the egg yolk mixture into the dry mixture and beat with a wooden spoon into a thick paste.

5. Add some lemon juice for extra flavour.

6. In another bowl whisk the egg whites until bubbles appear. Add the salt and vinegar and continue to whisk.

7. Once the mixture continues to rise, add the rest of the sugar a small amount at a time.

8. Once the mixture is silky smooth and forms stiff peeks the eggs whites are ready.

9. Add a third of the egg white mixture to the egg yolk mixture and slowly fold in with a wooden spoon.

10. Continue adding the egg white mixture one spoonful at a time.

11. Don’t forget to enjoy some Prosecco whilst preparing the cake 🙂

12. Pour the mixture into the pre-greased tin and place in the oven for thirty minutes until golden brown.

13. Dust with icing sugar or get creative and add your very own toppings.

This is such a simple and easy recipe that even I can do it! Sit back with a strong espresso, a slice of this citrusy cake and feel like your under the wonderful Italian sunshine. Head to my IGTV to check out my full baking video and keep your eyes peeled for more Italian inspired posts throughout the week.

#BluBlazerGuyBakes

Rook Perfumes

Rook Perfumes

It comes as no surprise that fragrance plays a huge part in my life. I discovered Rook Perfumes in 2018 and I immediately gravitated towards their fragrances due to their unusual scents and intriguing notes. For me, fragrances mark moments in life thus with only one spray, they have the power to transport you back to that very moment. When Perfumer for Rook Perfumes Nadeem Crowe (pictured below) said “People go on holiday and fall in love with a place, they buy a fridge magnet to remember the trip, I buy a fragrance” I immediately resonated with him. On each vacation I drive my partner crazy, perusing the perfumeries and trying to find the exact scent that will remind me of our time in that destination.

Image by Rankin Photography Ltd

Nadeem Crowe, the man behind these impressive and unique scents also has a career in emergency medicine and acting. These two careers have contributed to the production of these fragrances due to their scientific and theatrical backgrounds. After a complete re-brand and re-launch of Rook Perfumes in February 2020, I was once again 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.

 

Forest

The first of the fragrances I am going to talk about is my absolute favourite called Forest. I am a nature guy at heart so this is what initially attracted me to this scent. However as soon as I spritzed it upon my skin, it immediately transported me to a moment in my childhood. Each year I would visit the Scottish highlands with my family, going for long walks and playing in the forests. With just one spray it felt as if I was standing there looking up at the towering trees and inhaling the fresh pine-scented air. It’s a beautiful green, woody notes are both uplifting and comforting, transporting me directly into nature. This is much needed due to our current situation.

 

Forest – Image by Rankin Photography Ltd.

Notes:

Top – Cypress & Pine,

Middle – Black Pepper, incense and green notes

Base – Patchouli, Cedar and white musk

Blu Blazer Guy Rating: 4.5/5

 

Undergrowth

Undergrowth again exudes a stunning range of natural and uplifting notes that at first glance I didn’t think I would like, but it completely took me by surprise. On the initial spray, you get a hit of refreshing garden mint and grass. It somehow reminds me of a lush green garden after the rain, where the sun slowly warming the soil and the aroma scents the air.  As the mint dies down the rich woodiness of the vetiver and earthiness of orris really comes through, which settles beautifully on the skin. Again, if you need a hit of nature, I would definitely recommend this as I can imagine it being a refreshing scent in the summer months.

 

Undergrowth – Image by Rankin Photography Ltd.

Notes:

Top – Soil, Garden Mint, Grass

Middle – Green notes, mandarin, orris

Base – Vetiver, patchouli and white musk

Blu Blazer Guy Rating: 4/5

 

Rook

This scent wasn’t my favourite fragrance in the group, however I understand completely why others would like it. For me, It’s quite a daring combination and I am usually quite safe with my fragrance choices so it’s all down to personal choice. Rook is impactful from the first spray and is described as “strong and phenolic with a big puff of smokey firewood and birch tar”. Even though these notes are not my personal choice, this fragrance makes a good evening scent with great longevity due to its unique ingredients. I find it too overwhelming for my liking and prefer a fresher scent but if you’re an adventurous individual who’s looking to turn heads then this is definitely for you.

 

Rook – Image by Rankin Photography Ltd.

Notes:

Top – Birch tar, tobacco

Middle – Castoreum, cardamom, ginger, civet, agarwood

Base– Incense, ambrette, ambergris, guaiac wood and musk

Blu Blazer Guy Rating: 3/5

What I truly love about this fragrance house is all the scents are unique and interesting. I am so thankful that due to the power of social media I was able to connect with this forward thinking brand. Like all small businesses and perfume houses it is a very difficult time at the moment, therefore it is very important to support them in any way we can. So why not play your part and treat yourself to a luxury fragrance from Rook Perfumes. In addition, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr Nadeem Crowe and all his NHS colleagues for everything that they are doing at this time.

 

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.