Thursday, 29 January 2015

Brand Overview: IsaDora

In a new series, I'm going to start reviewing brands as a whole, taking several products from them and giving you a better idea of what to expect and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Today I'm talking IsaDora, a Swedish drugstore beauty brand. The price-range is the higher end of drugstore products but the quality is impressive, the packaging is neat and unfussy and the brand as a whole has a grown-up feel to it. The formulations are targeted towards sensitive skin and an extra bonus is that they don't test on animals - always a good thing!

On a personal note, some of the first make-up I ever used was from IsaDora. I still use a neutral eyeshadow quad my mother bought for me before a disco or a party or something when I was fifteen! That I'm reaching for it after all these years has to say something (not to mention how little I actually wear make-up).

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Basically, I had enough of a range of their products to do a whole face (almost) exclusively with items from the brand. I did forget about eyebrows so I used the eyeliner really, really lightly to fill in the gaps in my brows just a little.

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I was perhaps most impressed with their Moisturizing Lip Gloss. I normally never wear gloss as I cannot bear the consistency but this applies and dries almost matte, leaving a shine to the lip but not slickness. The shade I got was 21 Red Carpet which is a gorgeous classic true red. I also liked that it felt nice on the lips, like that Jojoba oil was actually doing something and leaving my lips feeling moisturised rather than stripped and tired. On several occasions now, it's been the first product I've reached for - even over my Coco Rouge Shine.

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Admittedly, this blush scared me a little at first. It looks normal enough above but in person it looks like a dark, old-fashioned peachy-purple shade. However, the colour (22 Frosty Bordeaux) applies rather sheer with just a nice, pretty pink glow and a touch of sparkle. The applicator brush in the pack is okay but probably could have just been left out in favour of more of the product. I can't say I can rave about this item as much but that's more to do with my lacking in knowledge on blush. Again, however, it is currently the first blush I reach for so that has to say something.

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Similarly with the Perfect Shade Eyeliner (in 01 Soft Black), it's not that I have an issue with the product per se but I tend to use felt eyeliners and am now bad at using pencils. However, this is nice and soft on the eyes which is really important to me. It doesn't drag and, while it can be blended, it doesn't smudge the second you go anywhere near it if you want a cleaner line. It's also a lovely rich black shade.

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The BB Cream (in 01 Fair) is another stand-out product for me. The packaging reminds me of Asian beauty brands (which can only be a good thing). But the best thing about it is that it's BB cream coverage. I find that many BB creams have very high coverage, closer to foundations, and I'm just not into that. It's why I'm not choosing a foundation in the first place. I just want a light layer to pat on my skin. This one applies really smoothly, doesn't catch on dry patches overly and was really true to shade for me.

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I already was a fan of their shadows but this little trio (in the shade 84 Forest) made me squeal with joy when I saw it. I'm a neutrals gal (I know, I know - so obvious and expected) true and true so the two outer shades (a sandy copper and a metallic chocolatey brown) are pretty normal ones for me but the middle shade is reminiscent of a gorgeous green Chanel had in a quad a few seasons back. Except it's richer and with slightly better colour pay-off. Admittedly, you have to work the brown a bit to get the same richness on the lid that the shadow makes you expect but it's well worth it. These shades are stunning.

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Lastly, we have the Mineral Compact Powder in 21 Light Opal. It's a pretty basic compact powder and ticks all the boxes. It's not messy, it has a workable applicator included and a handy mirror inside - which is a surprise because it looks like a clear plastic lid with the applicator visible through it at first glance. For me, personally, it offers slightly too heavy coverage but it still feels nice on the skin.

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Packaging: 8/10
Prettiness of Shades: 9/10
Application: 8/10
Durability: 7/10
Value for Money: 8/10

Cruelty Free
Good for sensitive skin

Have you guys tried anything by the brand? What did you think?

***

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Monday, 26 January 2015

Little Gem: Castle & Drury

Much as I desperately love Dublin, it sometimes feels like an overstuffed closet - full of things you like but don't love. The high street dominates leaving little room for anything else. Or that was the case until recent years. The Recession gave more and more people the impetus to try make their dreams come true - if there's no guarantees, you may as well take risks. This meant shops opened that might not have during the Celtic Tiger. 

Only opened in the past few months is menswear store Castle & Drury - one of several cool, independent menswear stores that have popped up as of late. Based at the corner of Castle Market and Drury Street, it's poised in the part of city centre that's a wee bit more off the beaten track and far enough away from Grafton Street to do more interesting things. They stock labels like Han Kjobenhavn, Libertine-Libertine, Mads Norgaard, Bleu de Paname, Wood Wood, YMC and more. 

You should expect to pay more than you would at Topman or Zara but a glance at how the clothes are made or a feel of the fabrics show the investment in quality. There's a serious streetstyle vibe and a bit of the Scandinavian takeover that's been steadily sweeping over the city with more Scandi brands being carried in SS15. And it's just a bit of a breath of fresh air to shop in. From the perfect decor to the enviable flattering lighting in the dressing room to the gorgeous bright space upstairs that's flooded with natural light.

A must for any fashion-conscious man in the city, really. 

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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Seriously Super Smoothie

So, today I'm, again, doing something a little different on the blog. I've done a recipe just once before as part of a DIY with visually underwhelming but satisfactorily tasty results. That was more of a "give it a go" post but this is a "I know this is good" post. And it's my own invention. It's my matcha smoothie that's tasty, healthy and a serious energy-boost for the start of your day.

Here's what you'll need.

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1 Banana
1 tbsp of Chia Seeds
1 glass of Orange Juice (Not from Concentrate is best)
2-3 tbsp of Natural Yoghurt
2-3 handfuls of berries
A teeny, tiny amount of Sweet Matcha

1. Chuck the juice in the blender first followed by the yoghurt.

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2. Peel, break up and throw in the banana. Add the berries and Chia seeds (AN: Full of nutrients, antioxidants, protein, fibre and other good stuff).

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3. The next thing is what makes this smoothie special. Matcha was all over the place recently in its traditional form served in a matcha bowl at sixty degrees for immediate consumption and as a tea latte or teapuccino for a more pleasurable experience. While I love and utterly believe in the boost in energy that matcha (a powered green tea from Japan) can give (i.e. it's how I pleasantly survived a day in work after finishing my thesis and only getting two hours sleep), I just don't enjoy it. I don't think I ever will. However, thrown into this smoothie, you get all the benefits without the overpowering flavour. I chose to use sweet matcha as its flavour is less intense than the regular variety but, be warned, it's not actually very sweet. The rest of the ingredients here pull together so that you don't even notice the matcha. You need the tiniest amount, a matcha spoonful or a thin layer of a teaspoon. Don't heap loads in!

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Also, it will go everywhere. There is no avoiding this with matcha.

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5. You can probably tell that my fruit is frozen from the picture above. I like to do this to preserve the fruit for longer for use but also so the smoothie is chilled without the need to add ice. It does mean you have to blend the crap out of it to make sure everything is liquefied but it's worth it!


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And then you get this delicious beast! A great breakfast - filling, tasty, relatively good for you and with a caffeine kick!

What do you think? Up for giving it a try?

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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Clothing Chats: Marc Jacobs fails to impress my brother...

Instead of doing a regular show review, I decided to start a new series where I record a discussion between myself and someone less knowledgeable about fashion or less interested in it or someone who isn't part of the target audience. Basically people with fresh, less biased opinions. 

Today, I begin with me and my little brother discussing Marc Jacobs AW15-16 Mens.

***

Me: So, I'll show you through the looks and see what you make of it...what about the first look?


Le Bro: It looks like a woman from the 1920s.

The 1920s? Do you not think the hair and styling is more nineties?

Wait...is that a woman or a man?

A man.

Oh, it looks like a woman cross-dressing in the 1920s.

So...you're saying the clothes are like something from the 20s but the hair is throwing you off?

Yeah...heh...

Okay...what about this one?


He just looks like he doesn't give a shit.

(Scrolls)



Okay, so, it's a bit of a jump there. Throwing in an animal print.

Oh, that's interesting.

Would you wear animal print?

No. And it looks like he does't want to wear it either. He looks pretty disgusted with it, to be honest.

....


Okay, the styling is a bit funny because...y'know...fashion. But look at the entirety of the look.

I don't approve of the hat. Even if he was wearing it right. It's just an ugly, ugly hat.

Oh-ho-ho-kay. There you go, Mr Jacobs!


Em...so that's a bit more normal.

What about the hem-length? That's where they're changing it up a bit.

Is that the shirt? (Points to end of shirt at the back, peeking out from under the jumper)

Yeah.

Oh. I don't like that the back is longer than the front.

'cause that's something that's been a thing in women's clothes for quite some time now.

It looks very rigid. It looks like he's wearing cardboard. And the shoes are very clunky looking.

Em, I think everything's just been pressed to look very sharp and stylised.

...


He looks like a Death Eater or something. His handbag is certainly interesting. His coat's nice though. I'd probably wear that. Again, I wouldn't wear the hat...that one's not ugly, I just don't like that sort of hat. The other one was just plain ugly. I don't know what he was thinking with a white hat...Fucking manky...

(Muffled laughter) White hat... (Laughs again)


Oh, I'd wear that. Not with that shirt but...


Just no. It looks like a mix between a bathrobe and an Aran jumper.

Well, I think it is going for an Aran jumper and I think the whole collection - what I'm getting from it - is trying...

Is it Irish?

Maybe not Irish but kind of fifties, sixities, classic pieces. So, this is like the way men used to dress. But the styling is a bit more nineties.


...they seem to all be kind of a similar theme...

Well, yeah, that's what they do with collections. They try to make them cohesive as if they've all been inspired by the same things. So, this is the print you liked before in the suit.

I like that coat.

Yeah, it's a good classic trench with a twist.


No, I don't like that.

What about it?

Anything. I don't like the mix. I don't like the colours. I don't like how it all looks together. I don't like the leather jacket.

Yeah, I'm not sure about it either.

I'm very picky when it comes to leather jackets.

I just don't think the cut of it is very nice. It's kinda cheap-looking.

That pocket looks stupid. Actually, it makes him look fat too.

I think that might be the stance.


Okay, now he's just trying to be a pimp.

(Laughing)

Em...no. It'd be too warm. I know there'd be an awful smell. The boots are kind of nice.

Well, I'm assuming it's probably faux.

Yeah, well, even if it's faux you're just asking for smell-collecting in that.


(Laughs) He looks like a bird.

Again, this is something that's been around in women's clothes...that kind of fuzzy fabric.

Oh...it's kind of like...what was I watching? Charlie Haughey's (Former Irish Prime Minister) mistress used to wear a coat kind of like that. I can see a French woman wearing that, to be honest.

A French woman...I see.


Oh good lord! It's like a massive scarf.

...yeah, that's what it is.

Looks like he's a thumb.

He looks like a thumb?!

(Both laugh)

Huge scarves are coming in next AW - why can't capes come in? - They were already in for women this AW. Capes? Capes are kind of always in when they're done right.

No, I mean cloaks that go around here (points to neck and shoulders) and is a big wintery one (stands and gestures wildly) that goes down to here (points to floor).

Em. Well, that's a hard look to pull off, I have to say.


That's kinda cool.

Yeah, I like that.

That looks like something Joey Ramone would have worn.

Who? 

Joey Ramone. 

Oh. Eh, maybe too much colour for him though.


Ehhh...not a fan of any of that really. The scarf's okay but the rest looks like he went into a vintage shop and picked out the least fashionable stuff possible...No, not least fashionable but looks like he picked out the smelliest stuff possible. 

Smelliest? (Laughs)


Poorly styled lecturer.

(Laughs)


That's slightly better. I still don't like it though.


That's a funky coat. He seems to be wearing the same trousers in everything.


(Leans forward and squints) What kind of cardigan is that?...I think there's too much going on there, to be honest. It looks like he's wearing a zoot suit with a cardigan from the sixties.


He looks like something from an anime. I like that. 

It's very streamlined.

I don't like double-breasted jackets though.

I don't normally either. I'm not sure about the colour as well but I like the whole look.


Now he looks like a PHD student who's trying to be a lecturer but knows he shouldn't dress exactly like him but he's failing in every respect.

Wow.


That's probably the worst thing I've seen so far. White jacket? I'm sorry but that's just not something anyone can pull off. 

I have a white jacket.

Sorry but no.

Ooookayyy.


I like that. I like the blazer.


That just looks like it doesn't fit right to me. 

The whole thing looks like - you know those little boys that would be forced to dress up for dinner in the early 20th century?

Only with shorts.

Yeah. It looks really uncomfortable and like "Ohhh, bring me hooome."

It's just...it's open too high.

You shouldn't be able to see his shirt.

Yeah, the button should be lower. 

He looks like he hates it.

So, overall, what are you taking away from Marc Jacobs AW15?

Em, is this high fashion?

It's Ready-to-Wear. Couture isn't really a thing for men.

Well, I was thinking if it was high fashion, it was really low-key. It doesn't seem too bold except for that weird scarf thing.

So pretty safe?

Everything seems like a re-hash of things that have been going around for 300 years.

Well, that's kind of fashion. It's just whether you can put the right new spin on it.

None of it's new.

Well, few of us have truly original ideas.

Still, I was expecting a dress or a half-dress or a silk handkerchief or something.

So, what you expect from a fashion show is that they put a man in a dress? To innovate?

No, just something new

***

Quite a harsh review of Marc Jacobs AW15-16 from Le Little Bro but entertaining and interesting to get the opinions of someone outside of fashion at length. I might not agree with much of what he said but I think it's good to be pulled back from the unquestioning enthusiasm show reivews can sometimes lull me into. It's good to be aware, to think more deeply, examine our reactions.

What did you think?

(Images via vogue.co,uk)


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