I don’t have the best track record when it comes to packing my suitcase in preparation for a holiday. I have been known to arrive abroad with two pairs of underwear, 14 skirts and one rather flimsy top to my name, courtesy of yours truly – as a result of ‘panic packing’. My mum on the other hand, is an expert packer – planning outfits right down to the paired jewellery, so it is for this reason (I think you’ll agree) that I have asked my mum to pack my suitcase this year for our two week trip to Cyprus to visit family.
However – lo and behold, toiletries and accessories are indeed my forte. I might not have a full outfit, but I will have a selection of blister plasters, an assortment of suncreams and around twelve different types of ‘hair mending’ hair sprays. So, when Ann Summers invited me to participate in their very exciting ‘Fashion Packs A Punch’ campaign, very generously giving us £100 to spend on bits we would pack, in addition to an absolutely gorgeous bikini – I stuck to what I knew. And excelled. Introducing, the essentials:
I tend to find that summer is the only real time that I am able to read a book, in full, so I spend the year stocking up on those I quite fancy reading. In the mix so far is Richard Branson’s Like A Virgin, the secrets they won’t teach you at business school. It’s slightly different than the normal chic flick I normally opt for, but it comes highly recommended and I think it’s always interesting to read something motivational and inspiring to drive you onwards.
I also purchased ‘Confessions of A Chelsea Boy’ by Spencer Matthews, thinking it was an all round novel on the secrets of Made In Chelsea rather than a biography of SW1’s most notorious lothario, nevertheless, I’m excited to read it. I also bought two of Diane Chamberlain’s books, as she writes beautifully and always tackles really interesting subjects. Secret Lives is about an actress who abandons a life of Hollywood glamour to return to her hometown and find out what really happened to her mother, who mysteriously died when she was young. Summer’s Child is about an 11 year old girl, Daria, who finds an abandoned baby on the beach. Unable to leave her, Daria’s family adopt the child but the question of her birth haunts the local community. Twenty years later the closely guarded secrets start to unravel and the mystery of the child is about to be exposed, but it will completely shock the community.
I always struggle finding beauty products to take abroad, as you never quite know how they are going to react to hot weather. I’ve had a moisturiser that quite literally dries up if you take it outside the room temperature and similarly – a bronzer that has melted. However, I managed to find a selection I think everyone will agree is ideal for holiday packing.
First up is Boots’ Sun Swim and Gym Protection Masque for Normal Hair, which is vital if you colour your hair and don’t want the highlighted parts to go even lighter – or frazzle up in the heat of the sun. It’s basically factor 50 for your hair and is applied as a cream whilst you’re sunbathing. At £3 a tub, it’s definitely worth investing in if you feel your hair might be in danger.
Suncream is obviously high on everyone’s agenda – so I opted for a Soltan family pack (Boots are offering it for £13 at the moment, which is a massive saving) featuring SPF15, SPF30, SPF50 and Aftersun. I have fairly olive toned skin and don’t wear a really high factor (usually a SPF15 on my face and SPF8 on my body) but I tend to peel quite quickly, which is rather annoying since it takes a full two weeks to get a great tan, so I’m going to try out the higher factors and see if this prolongs the tan a little further. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I’ve also bought an absolutely AMAZING aftersun, in the form of Hawaiian Tropic After Sun Body Butter. If you are familiar with the brand, you’ll know that their products smell absolutely incredible. If you’re not on an exotic beach somewhere when using them, you’ll feel like it anyway by simply opening the tub. Well, almost. Coconutty and creamy, this is honestly THE best aftersun body butter on the planet. It’s £10.50 in most Boots stores, but if you head into Asda – it’s a steal at £5!
I’ve also re-invested in Simple’s skincare range, which is ideal for travelling as it’s compact and light – but perfect for sensitive skin, especially when it needs extra care after being exposed to the sun. My favourite products are the Kind to Skin In Shower Moisturiser and the Skin Smoothing Facial Scrub – and luckily, they’re on 3 for 2 at the moment, so I’ve stocked up!
Also on the list was a vanilla bean body spray from the Boots extracts range, which at £4.50 isn’t the cheapest option, but it’s definitely the most incredible smelling. Perfect for spritzing before you head to the pool or the beach, it’s light – sweet (but not sickly) yet not too heavy that it will draw too much attention.
Talking of smelling sweet, Boots have an online offer at the moment for their Vera Wang Floral Rush 30ml bottles – as they’re down from £35 to £19.95. An offer like this is one I simply cannot refuse. Vera Wang always manages to create the most feminine, yet sophisticated and classy perfumes in the world (honestly) and hers are the first I am drawn to when trialling out new potentials.
Also in the basket appeared a stunning new Lancome Star Bronzer, which in ‘Intense’ is quite a dark product – but with shimmery particles and a silky smooth texture, it is ideal for creating that warm, natural glow that all holidays require. Once this was added to my list, it then occurred to me that another purchase would mean I would be eligible for their free gift – a Lancome Jenny Packham Blue Gift Bag with an assortment of mini Lancome essentials. After much deliberation, I finally decided on a new nail polish from the Lancome Vernis in Love Bridal Collection, a gorgeous milky, neutral brown – ideal for summer weddings, or a relaxed holiday look.
Also featured of course, is my stunning new Ann Summers bikini from the swimwear section, in the ‘cuba’ style. It fits like an absolute glove and is oh so flattering. What I love about Ann Summers bikinis is that they are tailored towards the wearer, rather than the one ‘imagined’ wearer with a large bust yet tiny figure or a small bust and gazillions of metres of padding. The Cuba is a lovely, halter neck snakeskin style design, with comfort in mind.
And if all this talk of holidays has got your craving a sunny seven nights abroad, Ann Summers have teamed up with Teletext Holidays to offer one lucky person a luxury trip to Sharm El-Sheikh (flights, accommodation and meals) at a gorgeous five star resort. The competition closes on the 18th June 2014 and you can read all the full details here. Instagram your summer inspired pictures and tag #hotsummers in addition to following @officialannsummers on Instagram or @Ann_Summers on Twitter.