Tuesday, 3 May 2016

What Is Actually In My Make-Up Bag? - What A Beauty Blogger Actually Uses.

I review new products all the time for the blog and I often really enjoy them but there is a difference between a perfectly fine product and something that gets a firm place in your regular rotation. If you've been eyeing up a specific product, my single-product or whole line reviews might be helpful, but if you're looking for recommendations, then this post is the one for you.

On a daily basis, I don't really wear make-up but I do bring a little pouch of essentials in my bag at all times, just in case my plans suddenly change and I need to dress myself up a little - a not uncommon occurrence. This pouch is home to my Holy Grail Products, my basic necessities and newbies that have completely stolen my heart.

First of all, my make-up pouch is rather small so the items inside need to be essentials, or travel-sized, in order to make the cut. The only exception is my Missha BB cushion, which floats around on its own as it takes up too much room otherwise.

Secondly, brows, lips and skin are the main areas that I focus on for essentials because if these three are looking alright, I have very little else to worry about. I don't like to wear a lot of make-up anyway but smooth skin, tamed brows and a pop of colour on the lips is all you need to look more alive and put together. Therefore, the most important items are my BB cushion (additionally, Benefit's Porefessional Primer is a good base, but not essential), my tweezers (from Topshop), my Billion Dollar Brows clear Brow Gel (for verrry minimal make-up) and my beloved Brow Tamer Tinted Brow Gel from Urban Decay.

The Brow Tamer is probably my ultimate go-to brow product as it manages to hold my very, very stubborn brow hairs in place (a first) and fills the brows in enough that I don't need to mess around with pencils or powders. The Missha BB is one of my all-time favourite bases and gives me that dewy, glowy skin I want. It also has decent coverage on its own but still looks like skin. I also don't really need to powder as whatever magic is in the formulation means that I always seem to stay dewy, and not greasy, with it on. For a little more glow, Benefit's High Beam is perfect in this little travel size, and the applicator is great for tracing a neat line along the nose and cupid's bow, as well as for making those cheekbones pop. For more coverage, my old battered Collection concealer is always along for the ride, though I might be slightly too fair for the Cool Medium shade that I have (the only one left in pale, pale Irish Boots).

I recently discovered and fell in love with Uriage's lip balm, which is apparently the best-selling lip balm in South Korea at the moment and, as they know their shit when it comes to skincare, I had to have it. I'm very tough on my lips, I pull at and bite them when I'm nervous or thinking or bored, so I need a balm that delivers results. This one has had them consistently soft and happy since I started using it. For colour, I'm most partial to a "petal" look that is made up of a Missha x Line Friends tint in this pinky-red shade on the inner two-thirds of my lips and Benefit's berry-toned Benetint on the inner third for a gradiated, pretty look. If my lips feel too dry for the tints, I'll go for a quick swipe of this Tony Moly Petite Bunny Gloss Bar in the Cherry shade (C4, I think - it's so worn, it's hard to tell), which is a pretty pinky-red and is like a very moisturising lipstick/balm combo.

Finally, I carry around my favourite Jo Malone perfume in the Wood Sage and Sea Salt scent, Urban Decay's Perversion mascara (perfect for fluttery, defined but natural-looking lashes) this pretty rose-coloured travel-size blush from Too Faced (in the shade Love Hangover) and an Etude House Look At My Eyes Cafe pink single eyeshadow (in the shade PK005) for when I want to do a more complete make-up look. Why all the pink? Well, it's subtle and pretty, easily blended with my fingers, meaning I don't have to pack brushes, plus, I'm super obsessed with pink atm.

And these are the things that this beauty blogger really reaches for on a regular basis - as you can probably tell from the bashed, imperfect nature of them. But this isn't about picture-perfect, carefully posed reviews rather a reflection of the things I love and use to death.

















(The Urban Decay and Billion Dollar Brow products were press samples but I have not been paid to review them and all opinions are my own)


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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

REVIEW: Viviscal - Gorgeous Growth Densifiying Range

As much as I am a beauty-lover, I am also a skeptic. I make annoyed sounds when skincare products claim to reduce the size of pores (they can't, nothing can, they can only reduce the appearance of the size), I have a flat-out rule that I won't review skincare unless I have tested it for at least two months and juice cleanses and "beauty teas" make me angry. I don't like people being duped out of money, I hate when it happens to me and I abhor the idea of it happening to any of my readers so I take reviews seriously and I always test things thoroughly.

Sometimes, however, products really do provide the miraculous results that they claim to offer. Viviscal is one such brand for me. 

Of course, I am always going on my own personal experiences and others may have an entirely different encounter with a product but I can honestly say that Viviscal changed my hair forever. In fact, the clearest indication of this is the fact that after I took a 6 month course of the Viviscal supplements and hair growth serum, I happened to start going back to the hairdresser in my hometown where I had had my hair cut for years and they noticed that I had gone from having rather fine hair to healthy, thick hair. It really was transformed.

So, when I found out they were launching some new products, I had to pop along! These new items - shampoo (RRP €11.95),  conditioner (RRP €11.95), elixir (RRP €24.95) and repackaged (and easier applied) volumising hair fibers (RRP €24.95) - are a new "densifying" range and the perfect accompaniment to the supplements. The idea being that the supplements strengthen your hair from the inside and the haircare products from the outside. And while the supplements are fantastic, you really need to wait around three months before there is a noticeable difference, whereas, the haircare products are said to make a difference within a week.

As I was between haircuts and in dire need of freshening up when I began using the haircare products, I did notice that it gave a bit of volume and oomph back to my rather lifeless hair. I love how they all smell - kind of spicy but in a good way - and my hair is incredibly silky and well-behaved. I haven't had to deal with fly-aways or frizz since I began using them. And, since I finally got my hair cut, the combination of the fresh style and the products is seriously slick. I need to do very little other than wash and dry my hair, popping in a little of the elixir before I dry it, to have a really good hair day.

If I were to recommend just one product from this new line, I'd have to pick out the elixir, it really is the star of the show. It's small and portable but a little goes a long way. Just a couple pumps onto the hands and run through the lengths and on top of my head (where flyaway action happens normally) before I dry it and I'm good to go with perfectly shiny, smooth hair the next day.

The best endorsement for the brand, however, has to be the fact that Debbie Harry (of Blondie) is a big fan. If a woman who has been iconically bleaching her hair for four decades backs haircare, you gotta listen!








(These items were given to me as press samples, however, I was not paid for this reivew and all opinions are my own)


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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

REVIEW: Sing Street

Most of us were hugely affected by music as teenagers and it is a depressing fact that psychologically and physically, it never shakes us the same way again.

We find our identities, our people through music. It helps us survive tragedy, heartbreak, struggles, anger and celebrate the joys, big and small. Particular songs or bands have the power to immediately transport us to another place and version of ourselves in a way that nothing else does.

The Ramones - I'm fifteen and rollerblading around my house as they blare from the speakers of Mammy's car. For three months. Just the Ramones.

Placebo - I'm in a car with my siblings and mother as we wile away lazy summer days, sun dazzling me through the windscreen and wind moving past me, back into the hot car. We're all singing along as it is the only band I like that they don't despise and I'm a pretentious seventeen year-old making everyone listen to my music constantly.

Even today, I am rarely not listening to music whether I'm walking, working, sleeping, eating - it's always there. My closest group of friends were formed through a music society I ran in university.

But, as a teenager, music made me feel connected to something bigger, like I wasn't so strange, even if I didn't feel like I fit in in the small town I lived in. The ridicule and torment I received from peers rolled off my back more readily because they simply "didn't get it". I put safety pins through my ears and wore heavy combat boots with my uniform, in defiance of the fact I was told I couldn't wear them (but my boyfriend of the time was allowed to wear his...). It solidified my independent spirit, emboldened my feminist tendencies and, in a lot of ways, made me who I am today. Yes, I was pretentious, blissfully clueless to real life and quite judgemental but foetus-Colette was an okay kid, she just had a lot yet to learn.

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Sing Street captures that period in your life so magically and perfectly; the innocence being infringed upon by adulthood, the earnestness, the endless possibilities, the dizziness (and cringeyness) of first love and the power of music. It shows how universal these experiences are as though it is set in the 80s - decades before I was a teen - I had my heart in my throat for the whole film. It all felt so viscerally familiar. It is a heady, joyous film that celebrates the music, city and decade, as well as that period in our lives, but doesn't flinch away from the less sunny patches.

The movie tells the tale of Conor, who is transferred from a fancy fee-paying school to a rougher school run by the Christian Brothers, his difficulty in fitting in and the struggles of his family - their finances, his parents' marital problems, his elder brother's stagnated pause after dropping out of college. It is in the midst of all this that he meets a girl, Raphina, and tells her he's in a band...a band which he promptly has to set up in order to impress her. At its heart, it is a very simple story we've heard countless times in countless ways but its indescribable skill in capturing this period of time, of a person's life and all the feelings that go along with it, is exceptional. There is a wonderful balance of both the ludicrousness, joy and simplicity and of the pain and difficulties of this moment in time. You cringe when you recognise things you said and did and wore and thought, you remember the sad realisations about life and difficult decisions, that appeared as if from nowhere, as well as the giddy freedom, simple joys and feckless, free-wheeling way you went about loving and living.

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The cast is made up of Irish heavy-weights and spectacular newcomers alike; from Aiden Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy as Conor's struggling parents and increasingly rising star Jack Reynor, to the brilliant and impressive emotional depth of (actually teenaged) Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and (at least believably teenaged) Lucy Boynton as the young lovers. The members of the band, meanwhile, do an excellent job as an amiably boisterous and humorous supporting cast.

Visually, the film captures the colours and tone of Dublin and the eighties well but presents them in an Instagram-like edit that makes them at once real but curated to appear, perhaps, more glamourous than either could claim to be. Basically, my lovely Dublin looks well. And, I think, for Irish people, there is always a thrill in seeing Ireland on the big screen in a way we are used to being presented America, the UK and further off, more exotic places. There's something a little magic and surreal about streets you walk past every day playing host to carefully choreographed scenes.

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Costume plays a big part both visually and plot-wise in the movie as the teenagers take on the guise of various genres, bands and trends in an attempt to find their sound and themselves. It works perfectly as comic relief throughout the movie as we are presented with 80s trends that seem ridiculous to us but, meaningfully, just seem new and cool to the kids of the tale. The unerring belief in something - that you later cringe and laugh at - being cool is a highly relatable phenomenon of your teens and no other decade is so readily and perfectly set up to be lampooned for this.

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Similarly, the music of the movie shows this exploration and discovery that is so formative in our teens. For the viewer, we are presented with a wonderful patchwork of the best the decade had to offer sonically and the band presents catchy, and sometimes utterly beautiful, tracks inspired by the chart-toppers of the time. In fact, the original songs, though a little silly on the surface at times, are actually really rather good - enough to have me still listening to them a few weeks later. And, of course, I appreciate that personal favourites of my own teens are in there as well - The Cure, The Clash, The Jam and A-HA among them.

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While I found some aspects of the tale dubious and worrying as an adult, I have not been so thoroughly charmed and taken in by a movie in a rather long time. This is one I can see myself rewatching periodically and reminiscing about the ups and downs of my own teens. I highly recommend it to anyone who adores music, Dublin or sweet movies that aren't overly challenging.


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Sunday, 17 April 2016

Little Gem: Launch of 2nd Space

Om Diva is one of Dublin's fashion institutions. It was always foremost on the list of places to go when Dublin was a place I only visited on summer days or weekends with friends. When it moved outside George's Arcade to its slightly larger location and added the wonderful Atelier 27 to the upstairs, mixing Irish design with its vintage offerings, it only bolstered its position as a Dublin store that was doing cooler, fresher, more innovative things. Then, before Christmas, their newest venture was announced: 2nd Space.

Located around the corner on Upper Stephen's Street, the store was established by Om Diva founder Ruth Ni Loinsigh to sell the same eclectic mix of cute accessories and vintage garments that the brand found its success in and to promote the talent of undergraduate designers in Ireland. This is a unique concept and platform for up-and-coming designers and, if the stock I spotted at the launch during the week is anything to go by, they are more than ready for the challenge. These designers will also benefit from mentoring and support from established industry leaders and get the platform to sell their designs and the exposure the store can offer. Furthermore, the space will also be used to host events and talks from said leaders. This symbiotic relationship between the young designers and the established seems like an interesting way to foster creativity and support the increasingly bright future of design in our beautiful little isle.

Two particular designers whose work caught my eye and I might recommend checking out are Jack Roche, who offers a SS16 collection that seems utilitarian or normcore-ish at first but is more complex, pretty and rich than that, and Isbel Gray, who offers cute accessories that are just the right amount of sassy and rough-and-ready.

Between floaty vintage nighties, adorable kitschy earrings, prim and proper bags and exciting and bold youthful design ventures, there is a lot to see in this small but lovingly curated and arranged space. If you're a fan of the Om Diva brand or Irish design or are simply looking for something other than the high street that is still affordable, check 2nd Space out.
















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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

REVIEW: Artistry Exact Fit Longwearing Foundation SPF15

When a press release for a foundation has words like "flawless" and "natural" together, I'm always intrigued. Artistry is a brand that I had only heard of last year but their skincare blew me away - I've never been so into a toner before in my life - and the packaging makes it immediately apparent that the brand actively targets an Asian market, which is bound to make me curious as Japan and South Korea, in particular, are a discerning lot when it comes to cosmetics. I was keen to see if their make-up lived up to their skincare.

The Artistry Exact Fit Longwearing Foundation (RRP €48.95) is a mattifying, medium coverage with SPF15 that claims to offer 24 hour coverage (not that anyone would ever want/need such a thing), to mimic the appearance of skin perfectly and to contain ingredients that "are time-and-climate controlled to constantly know their place, and stay there, even in high temperatures or humidity".

I definitely can back the claim that it is long-lasting and wears well. It isn't perfect after a few hours on the skin but fades gracefully so that you don't have to worry about it or go in with touch-ups.

It is also true that the finish is very natural and skin-like. While it was slightly heavier coverage than I normally choose, I loved how it looked on the skin - and I am very discerning about the look and texture of applied foundation.

However, I would add a small caveat to save you time and effort, should you be interested in trying this one out for yourself: there is something odd about the formulation. Not necessarily bad, per se, but it doesn't take to being messed with or manipulated. I normally mix foundations with moisturiser or the Urban Decay B6 prep spray but the Exact Fit Foundation separates and applies poorly if you try this.

It is best applied on a moisturised and prepped face, over a silicon-based primer and in small dabs all over the face, which can then be blended out. If you apply a larger quantity to the centre of your face and go in to blend it outwards, it won't spread well and stay largely on the area it began. This will cause the foundation to look thick and unnatural. If you take my advice and apply small amounts of a single pump all over the face and then blend out with your hands, the result will be silky, flawless and really, really pretty.

Additionally, everything about this foundation looks and feels very luxe. It reminds me a little bit of something Armani would produce but at a lower price bracket. The bottle itself is really pretty and would look damn classy on a night stand but is also practical in that it has a pump dispenser (wayyy more hygienic) and the pump can be locked and cap snapped into place to prevent unfortunate disasters in a make-up bag/handbag/suitcase.

If you are looking for a really natural-looking foundation with decent coverage that is feels more premium than it costs, this might be one to try out!








Barely visible on the skin (Admittedly, this is truer for the smooth, perfect skin of the back of my hand. Over blemishes and dry patches on my face, it is less utterly flawless)


On my actual face you can see that some blemishes on my chin (damn hormones) show through a little but the overall result is pretty, natural and smoothes out the skin tone.


(This item has been sent to me as a press sample but I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.)

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