Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The September Roundup Post

I know I say this every month, but September absolutely flew. I mean it went by seriously quickly. I feel like I was counting down towards the wedding I had in the middle of the month for most of the summer, so the fact that it has been and gone is almost mind boggling! Christmas will be on us before we know it! Onto my month in review!

What I've been watching

Still persevering with X Factor even though I am getting very very sick of every second shot is on Cheryl pulling some sort of a face. She's kind of ruining the show for me this year so can't wait to get back to the live shows. I was delighted to see that Netflix have uploaded a ton of new material for our viewing pleasure too.

I was delighted to be able to tune into the season premieres of two of my favourite shows again- Grey's Anatomy and Nashville- and I'm looking forward to the rest of my preferred TV series kicking off again- incl. The Vampire Diaries, The Originals and The Good Wife.

What I've been listening to

I haven't had much new music on the radar this month and have been listening to the same stuff over and over. I haven't bought new music or come across anything new really so it's been a quiet music month.

What I’ve been doing

There were quite a few blogger events on the calendar this month and I tried to get to as many of them as I could. Obviously, the day job is always my priority so I couldn't make it to some but I did very much enjoy the ones that I was able to make.

#wordofmouth party to welcome Hello Products to Ireland.
MICROnail launch in Residence- an absolute nail innovation, I have been obsessed.
#beutifibbloggersbrunch got me out of bed on a Saturday morning but it was absolutely insightful and I learned loads about a new service which I will be blogging about later this week.

Anita's meetup- it's always lovely when bloggers get together to chat all things beauty and it had been a while since our last meetup in Dublin. Anita did a great job organising the whole affair and I was delighted to finally meet Peter from Ziaja Skincare.

Trip to Poland- one of my friends and work colleagues was getting hitched to her Irish fiancé in Poland, and about 15 of us headed over from the office to support her on her big day. Everything was organised amazingly well, it was a beautiful service in Polish and English, we were fed with about ten courses and all the vodka you could manage and the band played Polish Europop, traditional Irish and classic Queen music. It was my first time in Poland and I would not hesitate to go back.

Weekend back in the homeland for puppy snuggles and spot of shopping/ bite to eat in Cork city centre.

What I've bought

Though I tried to stay away, I succumbed to the Charlotte Tilbury voices in my head and picked up four items over the month. OMFG they are amazing! Picked up some bits from Estee Lauder, Christian Dior and MAC over the month also. Was a spendy makeup month!

Also couldn't resist the iPhone 6 buzz and picked myself up a slinky grey version! Still waiting for it to arrive and barely able to contain my excitement! It will be tough adjusting to a new phone and part of me is very very sad.

What I’ve blogged about
What I've loved

Cheese. Craving cheese everything at the moment. All the cheese.

The drop in temperature and weather outside. Almost time to pull out the woollies. I'm also loving that the evenings are now beginning to smell autumnal and every morning I wade through conkers getting to the Luas!

New Look winter boots selection- absolute winners!

What I’ve rolled my eyes at

All these protests against water charges. No consent no charge nonsense. If you want the water service, you will just have to pay for it like the rest of us. Yes- I know we got it for free long enough.

Apple iPhone 6 launch and the backlash against U2. Also #bendgate.

What made me happy

Passing my final ever set of law exams after ten long hard years of study, work and constant exams and scrutiny. You cannot begin to imagine the relief I experienced.

My car passed the NCT despite the fact it had not seen the inside of a garage! Lots of exciting blogger mail this month and new brands and products to try.

A little bit more Christmas sneaking into stores.

Going to the checkout in Debenhams and being informed that there was €15 on my Rewards Card to spend #kaching

Bringing little Squidge for a drive in the car and seeing how excited he gets. As soon as he hears the jingle of car keys, he goes bonkers. He's good as gold in the car.

No longer having to cram my handbag into my hand luggage- the Ryanair gods have finally shone mercy on us!

Hitting a blog milestone during #irishbloghour!

What made me sad

Going to The Loop collection point in Terminal 1 and my order that I made a month previous had gone missing.

My beloved orchid is now as bare as a newborn baby's bottom. I think I drowned it.

My puppy broodiness- just dying for a little stunbun of my own.

What made me angry

Meteor customer service and the absolute apparent lack of communication between staff in Meteor HQ and the staff in stores on the frontline. I couldn't get any information from staff in two different Meteor stores as to when the iPhone 6 would be available to purchase. Called into a Meteor store the day after it was released and staff member told me not to order the phone online because it would take weeks to come. Meteor website said it would take three working days max. Sort yourselves out people!

Coming home from a lovely wedding extravaganza in Poland only to discover that the water supply to my apartment had been broken and I could not flush toilet/shower/brush teeth. I wanted to jump straight back on the plane!

The traffic situation in Newlands Cross makes me not want to go home to Cork anymore. Two hours I was stuck there on a Sunday evening. Such a waste of my life!

People who post images of acts of animal cruelty on Twitter subjecting those of us who would rather not see images of maimed dogs to those same images. Traumatised is not the word- swift unfollow essential.

On the agenda for October

My birthday is coming up on 7th October and I'm really beginning to dread these birthdays now because I am getting closer and closer to the big 3-0. I think I will be officially in my late twenties next Tuesday- or at least that's what I'll keep telling myself.

I'm off to the Pro Beauty Show this weekend in the RDS to pick up some of my favourite bits and pieces again. I'll try to get there early because it gets a bit vicious later on in the day.

I'm in a bit of a hair rut at the moment and feel like getting my hair done. Absolutely consumed with anxiety at the thought of it however. I've had a bad year in the hair stakes.

So that summarised the main points of my September and I'm only thrilled that October is upon us. October is probably my favourite month of the year!

Hopefully manfriend will make it back off the boat before Hallowe'en this year- not sure how likely that is looking- but after only having his company for a mere six weeks over the summer- two of which were devoted to exams- I think I am well overdue some attention!

Something else? 

Did you know that I am on Twitter? Pop over and say hello (@totalmakeupadd) and tell me what the highlight of your September was or what you're looking forward to most in October!


Monday, 29 September 2014

Hello Products- Mouthwash and Breath Spray

Last week, speculation was rife amongst Irish beauty bloggers when we were invited to a secret "#wordofmouth" party. We were told nothing us and being the curious and speculative bunch that we are, the suggestions varied from launch of a new lipstick range to a new haircare range and everything in between. I pride myself of being a bit of a Nancy Drew in my spare time and my mother has called me Columbo since I was about 4 years old, and I had a hunch early that morning that #wordofmouth had something to do with dental hygiene. It turns out I was right, and it was soon revealed upon arrival at the venue that we had turned out in force to welcome new, innovative dental hygiene brand hello to Irish waters. 

 Dental hygiene and dental care is not one of those glamorous hot topics that every beauty blogger loves talking about- I don't I have ever spoken about it much on my blog save for listing my favourite toothpaste. This new range of products however, is bringing the cool back into dental hygiene, and I'm not just talking about the minty freshness you will experience. The whole hello range has been spearheaded by none other than Mr Craig Dubitsky, creator of those iconic EOS lip balm spheres that I'm sure we have all seen. Craif was present on the night and he took great pleasure in telling us that his philosophy in creating the brand was to offer an alternative, sexier, cooler, friendlier alternative to the plethora of dental hygiene products that just talk about killing and fighting bacteria- to bring a more friendly side towards oral care. In order to achieve this friendlier side, Craig perfected uniquely designed, funky colourful packaging and he has avoid branding any of the products with dental combat analogies. Their slogan- You can't buy friends, but you can buy friendlier products. Sure why not? 

There are currently two products available in the Irish market- the Mouthwash and the Breath Spray, and there are three flavours available- Supermint (blue), Mojito Mint (green) and Pink Grapefruit Mint (pink). There is also a toothpaste and toothbrush in the range in the States and these will be making their way over to Ireland over the coming months. All the products are cruelty free and contain no alcohol or dyes. As I alluded to already above, the packaging of these products is what really sets them apart from their counterparts in pharmacies- colourful, sleek, aesthetic- all designed with friendliness in mind. I absolutely love the packaging in these, I would absolutely have no qualms about whipping out the little dinky breath spray in restaurants, in the office or on the Luas for a quick pop of minty freshness. If it's good enough for the current queen of cool Miss Kylie Jenner, then why not? 

I had the privilege of tasting all of the mouthwashes on the night and trying out all of the breath sprays, and I have to say my favourite by a mile was the Pink Grapefruit Mint- I could literally get addicted to the stuff it tastes so good. It reminds me of my favourite Citrus Mint toothpaste that I could only ever find when I was in France. I think I was the only #irishbblogger on the night that favoured the pink range- the Mojito Mint/ green range went down incredibly well with the cocktail loving ladies and for those less adventurous who wanted a slice of the friendly hello pie, the blue range is the more traditional but super refreshing Supermint flavour. 

The price point on these is also very competitive and you can pick up a bottle of the mouthwash for €7.50 and the breath spray for €4.75 in your nearest McCabe's Pharmacy or Sam McCauleys Chemist. For local stockist information, hit up the distributors responsible for bringing the product to Ireland- the kind crew at National Beauty and I'm sure they will be able to give you the deets you need.

These are going to be permanent, friendly fixtures in my dental hygiene line-up, and I'm making it my business to get my hands on one of those Pink Grapefruit Mint breath sprays asap! Absoutely perfect for a minty hit on the go! Many thanks again to the National Beauty crew, Mr Craig Dubitsky for flying in especially, the lovely Publicity Loft ladies and the staff at the Trinity City Hotel for hosting the launch and sharing the friendliness.

What do you think about friendly dental care? Do any of these products appeal to you? 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Stippling/Duo Fibre Brush Battle- MAC 187 v Sigma F50 v Nima Large Duo Fibre

Makeup brushes are a real soft spot of mine, and despite the fact that I am not a working MUA, I have hundreds of the damn things. I am always advocating that you do not need to spend a fortune to have some great quality brushes in your collection. Today I am comparing three stippling brushes at three different price points to demonstrate that you do not need to fork out big bucks for decent quality tools. The three brushes I am comparing are the much revered MAC 187, the Sigma F50 and the Nima Brush large duo fibre brush. 

I've only actually be conscientiously using stippling brushes to apply powder products for the last year or so. I generally prefer angled kabukis, but found the overall effect was not as airbrushed as I would have liked. I remember watching an MUA applying highlighter with a stippling brush at a makeup demonstration and I was struck by how flawless the application was. I personally don't use stippling brushes for cream products- for the most part because I just simply don't use cream blushes or highlighters and I prefer a kabuki brush to apply my foundation. I think duo fibre/ stippling brushes are probably the most versatile brush that you could have in your kit.

The first brush that I will talk about is the Large Duo Fibre Brush from NIMA Brush which is available from the Nima Brush website and costs €18. This brush has been created using a blend of natural and synthetic hair and can be used with both liquid or powder. This brush is a dream to apply product with and a dream to use. The brush hairs are not too tightly packed which helps with blending and not too flimsy which help with product placement. The hairs are incredibly soft and this brush is easy to wash with some shampoo and airdries within hours. Through the last year. this brush has been on constant rotation and I have very much been enjoying using it. It has also kept its shape remarkably well despite dozens of deep cleans.

The Sigma F50 Duo Fibre can be purchased here on the Cloud 10 Beauty website for €21.95. This brush is less dense than the Nima and MAC brushes, and I am not so fond of this- I find a little bit of density and weight in the brush just gives a nicer, more buffed and polished finish. Sigma is one of the most respected dupe providers for MAC brushes at this stage, and I was expecting this brush to be very similar to the MAC 187 but they are not terribly similar. I've never had a shedding problem or anything with this brush thankfully- but it's not a brush I reach for all that often. This brush does dry quite quickly after washing it- again, because the bristles are not too dense, and the head of the F50 is floppier than the other two. The brush has natural and synthetic bristles.

In my mind, the MAC 187 duo fibre brush is about as iconic as the MAC 217, and when I first started getting into makeup in a big way years and years ago, I thought it was necessary to invest in MAC brushes so that they would last the test of time. Now, last the test of time it has, but it would want to, because as far as I can recall, this brush is the most expensive of the brushes on the blog today and rings through the tills in Brown Thomas for €46.50. Steep I know, and to justify the price, I would expect this brush to do things that no other brush can do. A mixture of white synethic hairs and black goat hair, this brush is quite densely packed but not too densely packed. The white hairs in particular do a great job of picking up the product and the black hairs make blending incredibly easy, and leaves a lovely light, airbrushed finish. I've used this to apply my foundation on a few occasions but as I mentioned already, I am more of a fan of using duo fibre brushes for applying powder products- I think it is a foolproof way of blending powders on your face.  I like the 187 and even though it was expensive, it has lasted well through the years.

Which brings me on to the real question- if I lost all three of these brushes in the morning (which can happen!), which one would I repurchase first? The answer for me is quite simple- I would definitely pick up the Nima duo fibre before the other two. Whilst I do use and enjoy the other two, I think for €18, the Nima brush does everything I ask of it and more, and I also think it's just darling with its white handle and rose gold detail. The length of the handle, the density of the fibres and the value for money win for me. 

If you have shunned the stipplers like I did for such a long time, I'd recommend trying one out for your cheek, highlighter, bronzer application- you might be pleasantly impressed! I've said it before and I'll say it again, with Irish brush companies like Nima Brush and Blank Canvas Cosmetics constantly churning out top of the range, affordable makeup brushes, I don't see why we have to look any further to satisfy our brush needs. 

Have you a favourite duo-fibre/ stippling brush? Have you tried any of the brushes above?

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Chic Treat Club- September Unboxing

I remember thinking to myself last week that hasn't the month flown, another Chic Treat Club box is just around the corner. However, yesterday and today did not fly because I have been super uber excited about getting my mitts on the latest Chic Treat instalment. Because I was almost as excited as a child on Christmas Eve, the day before #chictreatday has now become #chictreateve. So as you may have been able to tell- I'm pretty excited about this box.

That little yellow box we all know and love arrived at my desk at work this afternoon and I wasted no time in peeling off the cardboard packaging to expose the lovely sunshine yellow goodness contained within. Upon opening the box, I immediately scanned under the yellow fluff to see what was inside before delving in. I was impressed with the slate grey paper and hand tied ribbon and surprised to see some yellow fluff instead of pink fluff this month.

The first product I picked out was Balmi Moisturising Lip Balm and I got the shade Strawberry. This is a size product and retails for €5.95. I love this brand and I love this product but between my car, desk at work and bedside locker, I definitely have at least three on the go already.

Secondly, a Sleek Pout Paint in was also included. This is a full size product but I am not sure of it's retail price because this is not listed in the Chic Muse booklet but I can only guess it wouldn't be more than a fiver. This also happened to me in August- I received products that were not listed in the accompanying magazine.* I quite like the shade- a vibrant orangey red called 'Lava'.

Next item that I fished out of the yellow fluff was the Cuticura Anti-Bacterial Hand Gel- which again, as far as I can tell, is a full size product and retails for €1.99. Again, this product was not listed in the Chic Muse- instead a new Cuticura Hand Serum was advertised.* I guess hand sanitizers are always handy to have, but nothing about this excites me. Might be handy with cold/germ season just around the corner!

Next up was a Sleek Kohl Kajal in Odyssey Purple which is a full size product and retails for €5.99. I've never used a Sleek Kohl Kajal before- don't normally wear purple eyeliner, but definitely willing to give it a try. If I don't like it, I have a funky 15 year old makeup loving sister who will gladly take this off my hands.

Lastly, the final product was a 3.7ml size of CND Solaroil. This is definitely an interesting product and I look forward to trying it out and reporting back. This sample has a retail value of €3.15.

Now, in my time on this planet, what I have found with subscription boxes is that they can't be amazing all the time, and of course depending on product selection and personal preference, people's opinions of boxes can change from one box to the next. Whilst I have loved previous boxes, I know that I can't and won't love them all. I didn't subscribe under this illusion that I would love every single product. This does not just apply to Chic Treat Club, but is the case with lots of mystery subscription boxes- it's the name of the game. Unless you are incredibly easily pleased or not genuine, I don't think you can say you adored and cherished every product every month. I don't hold the fact that I didn't love the product selection this month against the Chic Treat crew, and I of course still have the utmost respect for them for getting boxes to us every month, being the only consistent Irish player in the market, providing excellent customer service via Twitter and bringing lots of brand launches and supporting Irish products in the midst of it all- not to mention the fact that the vast majority of the products that we receive are full size products and not just samples! If anything, I think us subscribers have been too spoilt by previous boxes and the standard of them has been so high that it must surely not be humanly possible to produce the same quality every single month.

Overall, and trust me it truly pains me to say, I'm not impressed with the September Chic Treat Club box, and it's probably just because I was not hugely keen on the product selection or I already have the product (or multiples thereof!). I don't have anything more to say about this box really other than I found it to be genuinely disappointing. I still have faith that the Chic Treat Crew will produce an amazing box next month, but I know in all honestly, I certainly wouldn't be tempted to subscribe to this service based on this month's box. Two months in a row now, I have received products that were not listed in the Chic Muse booklet- this month, there were two such products included in my box.* I just don't feel like I got great value for my €17 this month and I'm disappointed. The combined value of the items in the box is about €21. Much as I would love to, out of respect for the Chic Treat team, I can't pretend I was happy with the contents of this box- and I have to be honest. I'm not sure if I will be eagerly anticipating the arrival of the October box yet but more than likely by the time the weeks fly by I will probably be stalking the post room again.. I'm not going to think about unsubscribing yet because I am still high on the fumes of happiness from previous boxes so I am going to continue with my subscription, and I certainly don't want this post and my opinion of this particular box to dissuade you from subscribing to a unique Irish service.

*EDIT 24/09/14: Since posting this unboxing, the Chic Treat Crew were very quick to address the issue of the non-corresponding products in Chic Muse and the products in the boxes via email and on their Twitter page. They thanked me and some fellow bloggers for drawing it to their attention to it and it appears it was all just a misunderstanding between the printing and packing stages. I'll tell you something- I would be willing to bet that the products in next month's box will correspond exactly with the Chic Muse booklet. I felt like it was necessary to clarify this on the post in the interests of fairness. This is my blog, and I will always be honest about my perception of products, and I will always be truthful about what I think, but I would also like to be fair to an Irish company that has impressed me on several occasions after the last few months. I do a CTC Unboxing post every month on Chic Treat Day and will continue to do so- and I didn't want to not post about it this month simply because I didn't love all the products.


Monday, 22 September 2014

NEW! Essence Colour & Go in The Matt, The Satin and The Suede finishes- Review and Pics

I'm a HUGE fan of Essence Colour & Go Nail Polishes, particularly since they improved the formula and packaging of the nail polishes two years ago. I don't not think you could do any better than these nail polishes for €1.79, and these most definitely outperform some of their higher end counterparts in terms of opacity, colour payoff, colour selection and lasting power. I must own dozens of them by now. On a recent trip to Penneys, I noticed that the good peeps at Essence have launched three new varieties of nail polish finish on top of their regular polishes and their sparkle sand polishes- namely The Suede, The Matt and The Satin. I picked up all the ones that I could find (which were sadly only four!) and I've been trying them out and putting them through their paces.

The new formulas of the nail polishes are clearly labelled by their new finish so it's easy to tell what's what. 

The Suede shade that I picked up and indeed the only one that I could see at the display was the shade I heart my blue jeans which is a gorgeous navy blue. I've often searched for a navy nail polish and this one just screams Yves Saint Laurent to me. I don't know if it's particularly suedey- it's quite a thick texture and even though one coat should provide enough colour, the colour is a bit patchy because the formula is a little dryer than the other Essence polishes. It really takes two coats of this for full effect and you have to give up about 20 mins of hand usage time because this one takes ages to dry and will smudge like a mofo because it's so thick.

The Matt shade that I picked up is called Candy Crush and is a vivid bright coral red polish. Like The Suede polish, it takes two coats of this to build up opacity but the formula is not as thick as it is with The Suede finish polish. In terms of matte-ness however, I'm not convinced. Whilst this is a gorgeous shade and the colour is very striking, it's definitely not the most matte nail polish I own- that accolade has to go to the NYX matte polishes which are incredibly matte.

The Satin polishes are my favourites out of the new formulas and I absolutely love them. They are absolutely satiny on my nails and one coat delivers amazing colour opacity. The formula is not too thick and my reservations regarding these (bearing in mind that I despise frosty polishes on my nails ESP frosty pink) were unfounded because these do not look like frosty polishes when applied. I have the shades Dare to Kiss (the pinky shade) and New York City Call (an ivory shade). These last about 3 days without chipping for me which is good- especially bearing in mind that I did not top the polishes with Seche Vite which usually prolongs the wear of these polishes.

I would definitely pick up more satin shades in the morning if they became available but I'm not yet convinced about the suede/matt versions. Even though they did not impress me hugely, they are still not terrible products by any means.

Are you interested in trying these out? Do you love Essence nail products as much as I do? :)


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Collective Haul September 2014- MAC, Estee Lauder, Urban Decay, Giorgio Armani and Christian Dior

I've been accumulating a bit of makeup over the last two weeks and I said I would do a little show and tell before unpacking everything away into my collection. I picked up some new bits and pieces and some repurchases of items that I have tried and loved already. I was lucky enough to win a €50 Debenhams voucher at Anita's meetup 2 weeks ago and as you may know already from my Twitter feed, I was in Poland during the week for a wedding and I picked up a few pieces at the airport. 

The first two items are foundation repurchases for me- I've tried and loved both of these and my stocks were running low. I got the Estée Lauder Double Wear foundation in my shade Cool Bone in Debenhams and I believe this is €37. There is just no other foundation that provides the level of coverage that this foundation does in my eyes, and my skin has been having a hissy fit for the last few weeks so I've needed to cover up more redness than usual. I also picked up a back up of my Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk foundation in the shade 4 because I absolutely love it and it's €10 cheaper in Dublin Airport than it is in Brown Thomas. 

I've been dying to try the Estée Lauder Pure Color Envy Sculpting lipsticks for ages but at €29 a piece, I wanted to get great colours, and I found it quite difficult to track down the two colours I'd been searching for. The first on the left is the shade Dynamic and I picked this up in Debenhams Cork with my voucher. I was so so impressed with this that I picked up another at the airport on Wednesday- this time the shade Insolent Plum- and I think the airport price was €24.65 so it's over €4 cheaper than the high street. Everything about these- the formula, the colour, the longevity, comfort on the lips and the packaging- just divine. I will most definitely be adding more to my collection.

What would a trip through Dublin Airport be without picking up a few MAC lipsticks eh? I got the shade Captive which is a gorgeous dusty pink, slightly mauvier than MAC Craving which is one of my fave MAC lipsticks and an Amplified Formula. Captive is a Satin formula and usually I am not the biggest fans of satins but because I think this colour is just darling for the office, I am hoping that the relative ease applying and maintaining a Satin finish lipstick will be a winner! I also repurchased one of my favourite reds- MAC Ruby Woo. I'm not sure what happened to my first Ruby Woo but I went out one night with it in my handbag and I never saw it again afterwards. I actually wore this on the day of the wedding in Poland over MAC Cherry lipliner and it lasted the entire night through the millions of courses and vodka shots of a Polish wedding. 

Whilst in Szczecin Airport, I decided to blow the rest of my Zloty on a repurchase of one of my favourite mascaras of all time- the Diorshow Iconic Mascara. No matter how many other mascaras I try, I think this will always have the number 1 place in my heart. I might even dedicate a whole blog post detailing why I love it so much in the not too distant future if that's something you would be interested in. 

Lastly, I picked up the new Urban Decay Perversion Mascara which came with a very generous free sample size of the Subversion Primer in Debenhams. I've used it a couple of times and I am still forming my thoughts so I won't tell you what I think of it just yet. If you've been considering buying both, I believe the set is €21 in Debenhams as an introductory offer so spring on that before they vanish! 

So that was my little haul- feels like it's been a while since I've done a random haul post on the blog. Is there anything that I've picked up that you've been dying to try or anything you're in a hurry to see a detailed review of? Let me know in the commentos! 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Lee Stafford TREaTMENT for HAiR that neVer GRowS past a CERTAIN LeNGTH

I've been on a hair lengthening journey for about a year now and I'm not really getting far. I've stopped getting my full head highlights done once a month and turned to the dark side. I've gotten a 16 week blowdry in the hopes of cutting down styling time. I've gotten my regular trims to help condition and foregone heat styling my hair as much as possible all in the quest of longer locks. Not dramatically longer but just a few more inches to play with. In spite of all the sacrifices I have made, my hair has never grown past the length it has been for the last 12 months. 

Now, I never really thought you could buy hair growth, but I've heard of the Lee Stafford TREaTMENT for HAiR that neVer GRowS past a CERTAIN LeNGTH (what an annoying typeface) and I thought to myself- what do I have to lose? I picked up three pots, I'm two and a half pots into the experiment, and I thought I would let y'all know how I've been getting on with this stuff. 

First up, I think the first thing I should tell you is that this is not a conditioning mask or conditioning treatment, you use it after shampoo but before conditioning and you have to apply a good fistful of it to your roots and work it in before rinsing off and conditioning. The first time I applied this, I didn't read the instructions and I applied it straight to the lengths and ends of my hair, thinking that it was to help with preserving the condition and cutting down on split ends. I was oh-so-spectacularly wrong. This is basically fertilizer for your roots and the magic happens when you stimulate your roots with this stuff. Now my roots get pretty oily pretty quickly and I would definitely not put any conditioner near my roots so the thought alone filled me with dread- however, I can happily report back that this did not leave my roots lank or greasy in the slightest- it rinsed out thoroughly with warm water. 

I applied a good fistful of this to my hair and leave it work its magic for a couple of minutes whilst I tend to one of my other showerly duties (the glamour). This does not cause any interruption with the natural balance of my scalp- no excess oil or dryness. I'm not in love with the smell- in fact, I actually really dislike it, but it doesn't linger in my hair so as soon as my shower is over, it is just a distant memory. I don't use it after every shower but I have been using it maybe 2-3 times a week. I have thick, dry hair so I can get away with using this quite a bit but if your hair is finer, I probably wouldn't use so much so often. 

So what you all want to know- does it work? Strangely enough, I am going to say that I have noticed a difference in my hair growth rate, and I'm almost certain it is more than just wishful thinking. In fact, a fellow blogger friend said to me at a recent meetup that my hair had gotten so long since she saw me last (which would have been a few months previous). My hair does feel generally stronger and in better condition than previous. I think I'll pick up another three pots the next time I see it on offer in Boots (FYI this is usually €10.99 a pot but Boots often have it on special offer at €15 for 3 pots which is quite the saving). As sceptical and all as I was, I feel like I need a slice of humble pie- because whatever this stuff is doing, I'm really liking it. 

Have you tried this yet? Does it sound like something that might float your boat?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Rimmel Wonder'full mascara- nothing wonderful about it!

I cannot deny that I am incredibly picky when it comes to mascaras. I have quite liked a few Rimmel mascaras in my day but I'm not really loyal to any mascara in particular. At any given time, I probably have about four on the go, no remorse shown. Mascara is such an essential part of any eye makeup look that I simply will always be on the hunt for the next HG. I heard a bit of hypes surrounding the launch of Rimmel's latest lash offering and I found myself succumbing and purchasing. This mascara is enriched with argan oil  (everything is argan nowadays, riding on the crest of a wave much!) which is meant to nourish and protect lashes and encourage lash growth. All great news, should be delighted. In truth this is, at best, a very mediocre mascara. 

This mascara does nothing for my lashes other than coat them in black stuff. No particular lengthening, volumising or curling powers- just black stuff on what I already have. The actual formula of the mascara is incredibly thin and doesn't particularly coat well. I'm not overly keen on the shape of the wand, it's nothing special and definitely not Wonder'full.  

One coat of this mascara is barely noticeable on my lashes and on your second coat, you have to fight against the wind to avoid boarding the direct train to Clumpsville. It's not very buildable, and you definitely won't be graced with gorgeous Bambi or dolly lashes using this. This gives me nothing near the volume I expect from a mascara- drugstore or otherwise.

Not to dwell of the negatives, I have to say give some positives. I quite like the outer packaging of this mascara and the simple coppery tube with black font. This mascara lasts pretty well on the lashes, does not really smudge under the eyes and is removed easily enough at the end of the day with an oil cleanser- without causing any irritation I might add. 

This mascara is €9.99 and available in stores now should you wish to purchase. It's not awful, but it's not great and I wouldn't repurchase. Sorry Rimmel but this was not a hit for me!

Have you tried this mascara yet or even been curious about it? Does anybody else think mascara shopping is the hardest task EVER in the world?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Oriflame 'The One' Collection

Way back when in the start of July, the kind folks at Oriflame invited some bloggers to the Gresham for a demonstration by Gary Cockerill of the products in the new 'THE ONE' range from Oriflame. I'm not hugely familiar with the brand and I'm not really a fan of ordering products from catalogues or even online without having tried them or seen them in the flesh, it always just seemed like more hassle than it was worth. Nobody I knew spoke about Oriflame or the products, and I was never particularly curious to be honest. This could be down to the fact that Oriflame is a very successful brand modelled on direct selling only- and because I never came across any Oriflame sellers, I've never been able to get my hands on the goodies (all that has changed but we'll come to that in a while!).

Oriflame put on quite an event in celebration of their new 'THE ONE' collection and there were many treats for us to nibble on, but the biggest treat (NOT to nibble on) was Gary Cockerill who had recently been announced as a brand ambassador for Oriflame's 'THE ONE' collection. I have only known Gary as one of Katie Price/ Jordan's besties, and I saw the episode of 'Four Weddings' where himself and his partner competed with three other couples who were getting hitched to throw the best wedding. Gary was very enthusiastic about the 'THE ONE' collection and talked through some of the products and did some demos on lovely members of the audience on the day using a variety of Oriflame products. 

THE ONE collection encompasses three different ranges within- Everyday Beauty, High Impact and Longwear High Performance. The collection is absolutely massive and spans foundations, concealers, setting powders, mascara, lipsticks, cream and powder eyeshadows, eyeliners, blushes, nail polishes, lip glosses and more. We were given a selection of Oriflame products from THE ONE collection to take away with us that day, and I've been using them over the last few weeks so now I can report back on them.

The first product I tried was the 'THE ONE Volume Blast Mascara' and I had high hopes for this one after I saw how Gary applied this to Rachel's eyelashes- the volumising effect was instant. This is a great mascara for your top and bottom lashes because the wand is thin enough to really get into the roots of your top lashes and fan them out whilst coating them with lovely product, and also thin enough to get those pesky little bottom lashes without covering your whole undereye area with black gunk. In two coats, this mascara provides awesome volume and curl to the lashes, and it's a nice dark black. I also like to use this mascara for blending my own lashes with falsies when I have them applied. This is a seriously impressive mascara and I would strongly urge you to pick one of these up if you're placing an Oriflame order because you might just be surprised. I think this is about €12 full price but is currently on offer for just €6.15- well worth it!

The next product I have to show you is the 'THE ONE Colour Unlimited Lipstick' in Fuchsia Excess. This is a gorgeous colour and a nice formula but I am not at all keen on the simplistic, basic plastic packaging. The packaging is quite long and thin and it doesn't fit nicely into my lipstick drawer so it's getting a slap on the wrist from me for that! Aesthetics aside, this is actually a really nice lipstick formula- it's quite comfortable on the lips, not too drying, not too heavily scented but not waxy. The lasting power is quite impressive and I found that this stained my lips a bit which made the wearing off process more manageable. I also really like the colour of this lipstick- a blue toned fuchsia is close to my heart! This lipstick is currently selling for €13.75.

I was happy to get a 'THE ONE IlluSkin Blush' in Luminous Pink which is a gorgeous peachy pink colour and a peach/gold toned highlighter adding some luminosity. This compact is tiny so it's perfect for travel and you could even use the highlight side on its own for your browbone/inner corner/upper cheek highlight. I quite like the shade of pink and it reminds me somewhat of Deep Throat by NARS which is my all time favourite blush. This blush would set you back €12.45.

I also have been trying out the 'THE ONE Eyeliner Stylo' in black and it is a nice product if you are into black felt tip marker type eyeliners. The shade of black was good and dark and there was no obvious transfer onto my brow bone/ under my eyes over the course of wear.

The last product I have to show you today is the gorgeous 'THE ONE Nail Polish' in Ruby Rouge, and as I alluded to earlier, I love this so much that I have another pair of polishes on order plus some nail care goodies on the way from THE ONE range also. I adore the formula of these polishes- one coat is enough for completely opaque nails, and the formula is so glossy that it looks like gel nail polish. Now whatever about the colour and ease of application, what I absolutely LOVE about these polishes is the longevity. I don't think there is any other polish that I can get five full days wear from- genuinely I was stumped by these. I neither have the time or the energy to be faffing about with nail polishes during the week so this is a perfect solution for me plus the colour is absolutely gorgeous- some sort of plum/red/purple hybrid. At €9.45 a pop, I think these are great value and I'll probably keep adding to the collection until I own them all!

If you are interested in trying out some Oriflame products for yourself, fellow Irish blogger Anita is now an Oriflame consultant and you can find her on Twitter (@anitasoriflame) or contact her via email at (anitasoriflame@gmail.com) if you are interested in getting a catalogue or placing an order. Here is the link to her Oriflame site, her mobile number is 085-2424109 and I'm sure she will answer any questions you have.

Have you tried anything from Oriflame yet?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Skinny Tan: The 7-Day Tanner

A few weeks back, just before the onslaught of exams, I was invited to a smashing lunch in House on Leeson Street with the Skinny Tan team, the lovely ladies from the Publicity Loft, the crew from Beacon Pharma and Healthzest.ie and some lovely fellow bloggers. I had heard about Skinny Tan long before this lunch- as you may or may not know, I am obsessed with Dragons' Den, and I clearly remembered the jazzy presentation in the Den in front of the Dragons- it definitely stood out. I was very excited to get to chat to the girls behind the brand, find out what really happened on Dragons' Den and hear about how they were planning world domination.

For those of you that might have missed the Dragons' Den presentation or not heard of the brand before, Skinny Tan encompasses their natural tanning agent with a smoothing, cellulite busting smoother containing guarana, and whilst it makes you browner, it's meant to reduce the appearance of cellulite also so it will make you look like you have a better body. There are a few products available in Ireland- the 7 day tanner which is what I am reviewing today, the 24 hour bronzer (Kelly Hoppen MBE's favourite if you don't mind!- review will be coming on this shortly), and the Gradual Tanner, along with mitts. There is a wider variety of products available in Australia where the brand is based including Pre-tan Primers, After-Glow Glosses and, Skinny Legs. Products are available in Ireland via the HealthZest website, from the Boots website or from McCabes Pharmacies. If you are not near a McCabes, I definitely recommend you check out HealthZest because their pricing is far fairer and more competitive than Boots (the tan I am talking about today would cost you €25.99 with HealthZest as opposed to €34.99 with Boots- quite a difference eh?). When Kate Cotton and Louise Ferguson, the brains behind the brand, reached the Den, all five Dragons sought to invest in the company (think they got about 9 offers in the end from various combinations of Dragons), and in the end, the ladies went with Piers Linney and Kelly Hoppen MBE. Kate and Louise were absolutely delightful to chat to, and Louise in particular is so dedicated to the tan that she goes around wearing the tan on one leg only to showcase what a difference the Skinny Tan can make to the appearance of your skin. If that's not dedication to the cause, I don't know what is.

Anyways, onto the goods, and in particular, the 7 Day Tanner. Now as self confessed tanphobe, the odds are always stacked against any fake tan that comes in my path. I'm still absolutely traumatised from my run in with L'Oreal Sublime a few years back that I don't think I will ever feel good about a fake tan until I have tried it and loved it. I've tried so many stinky tans and I've looked so embarrassingly orange in the past in spite of my best efforts to avoid the tango-ed look. I've applied Skinny Tan about five times now, and I've just gotten to the end of my first tube, and I feel fully versed and competent to let you know what I think. In a nutshell, love the stuff. I will justify and elaborate on that.

The Application: Fairly foolproof. The actual product is a thickish, tinted cream so you have a colour guide on application. I applied mine with a mitt and it was completely painfree. It absorbed into the skin quickly, didn't feel sticky or greasy. It is recommended that you let this work ze magic for at least seven hours but preferably overnight. I've never left it on overnight and I've always loved the colour result that I have gotten from it.

The Smell: I can confirm that Skinny Tan 7 Day Tanner does not have a hideous smell- it has quite a nice, tropical/coconutty smell that reminds me of Malibu sun protection products, a smell that does not get worse over time, is not offensive to manfolk (the *ultimate* test) AND disappears completely when you shower off the product after leaving it work its magic on your skin for a few hours. If you find the smell of some fake tans to be offensive, definitely consider getting this one.

The Colour: Not a hint or even vaguely distinctive orange tone. The eco-certified natural tanning active in this tan just pulled the most gorgeous golden hue from my pale, grey skin. Not only was the colour amazing on day 1, it lasted well, faded gradually and not in patches. I was also shocked that this applied absolutely amazingly around my hands, elbows and knees- those three areas that let me down time and time again- and it lasted well on my hands too in spite of the million times a day that I wash them. I've never naturally tanned, but I imagine if I did that the colour would look something like what the 7 Day Tanner offers me. I've never left this on for more than 7 hours at a time and I've always gotten a lovely colour from it- needless to say, I'm sure if you wanted a deeper colour, it would be easier to let the tan develop for longer or to build up layers.

The Claim: I am half of the opinion that any fake tan reduces the appearance of cellulite, so I'm not 100% convinced that this tan makes me look skinnier. That said, I do think my skin looks fabulous and uniform when I have this product on. Though I have not been swayed yet on the cellulite claims, I'm not dismissing or refuting them.

The Price: Again, €26 for five/six applications is quite generous, and whilst I do not apply false tan all the time, I don't find the price to be prohibitive.

The Bottom Line: I love this product and I will have no qualms in forking out for this. For the quality of the colour and the longevity and lasting power, I think this is well worth it.

Have you heard of Skinny Tan or tried it out yet? Does this sound like something you would like to try?

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Ebay Makeup Haul - US Drugstore Edit

I love turning to eBay for makeup that I cannot source here in Ireland. Whilst I am loathe to pick up any high end makeup from eBay, I have no problem with picking up drugstore makeup from reputable sellers with good feedback ratings. The reason I took to eBay was because of the lovely Orla from Makeup Over Mind, one of my fave Irish Youtubers and bloggers, and she has never done me wrong so far with her recommendations- she knows her stuff. I actually had a couple of things on my wishlist anyway so I just committed to purchase after watching her amazing US makeup haul vid

The first thing I took to eBay to purchase was strictly on Orla's recommendation- the Maybelline Full 'N Soft Waterproof Mascara which I picked up in the shade 'Very Black'. My first impressions of this mascara are very favourable indeed and not for the usual reasons I love mascara. I got this mascara from this seller and the total including postage was little over €10 which is about standard for most Maybelline foundations that you can pick up in Boots.

The next few items I purchased from the same seller, and I have used this seller on many occasions before. Not only do they have excellent feedback (and I can personally recommend them following my own favourable experience), these guys also often very reasonable combined postage AND offer a 20% discount on all orders over $25. You would be best to go onto the American eBay site (.com) and adding items to your cart where you can see discounts applied and deductions made for combined shipping. Just for your reference, these 5 items cost about €40 including postage after all the discounts and currency conversion which I think is pretty reasonable! 

I also picked up the new Maybelline Dream Wonder Fluid Touch Foundation and I got the shade '20 Classic Ivory'. I have to admit I did not realise when ordering that this foundation comes in a 20ml bottle as opposed to the usual and standard 30ml. This has a little plastic applicator and you are meant to apply the foundation to your fingertip and then blend on your face. I'm not really a fan of using my fingertips to apply foundation however so I'll have to see how I get on with that!

I purchased the L'Oreal Color Infallible Eyeshadow in Amber Rush- I've wanted this for absolutely AGES- I love the L'Oreal Color Infallible eyeshadows but this one in Amber Rush was not available in Ireland to purchase. This is absolutely gorgeous and if you have blue eyes, this would be a sound purchase. 

I added two more 24H Color Tattoos to my repertoire- and these are in the relatively new leather range. I got Creamy Beige and Chocolate Suede and if I get even a tenth as much use out of these as I have done with my On and On Bronze, I will be very happy indeed.

Lastly, I picked up another of the Maybelline Color Elixirs because it was only €4 to add on including postage and I picked Raspberry Rhapsody which is just my dream colour- a purple leaning fuchsia. 

So there is my little eBay beauty haul of some US drugstore products that we cannot get here yet (or maybe ever :( !) 

Is there any makeup you like to pick up on eBay? Would you think of trying eBay for cosmetics that cannot be bought in your country?


Friday, 12 September 2014

L'Oreal Skin Perfection Miracle Cleansing Oil

I know when I repurchase a product three times in a row that it must be a good'un and I have surely gone out of my way and shunned my high-end cleansing oils and balms in favour of this bad boy. This L'Oreal Miracle Cleansing Oil was my first dalliance in the oil cleansing market and it's the only one that ticked all my boxes. This L'Oreal Skin Perfection range always seems to be on offer in Boots and in supermarkets- so not only can you pick it up easily, you can also pick it up at knockdown prices.

What I love about this cleanser is that it is just the business for quickly removing the vast bulk of your makeup. I always do a double cleanse, I find no matter how thoroughly I cleanse my skin the first time there is always some residue. When I get in from work in the evenings, four pumps of this into the palm of my hand, rub my hands together, rub is all over my face including my eyelids, and it just melts and dissolves all the makeup I have on my face- even waterproof mascaras. I use a nice warm fluffy facecloth to just wipe away the oil and makeup residue and it works a treat. 

What I like the most about the oil is that it's not greasy and sticky the way I expected oil cleansers to be, and unlike the Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm which I do like, it's quite lightweight and not heavy on my skin. When I wipe it off with a facecloth, my skin actually feels quite fresh and smooth and there is no greasy, oily residue remaining. A couple of swipes (and it's important to differentiate these from rubbing motions) and almost every trace of makeup is gone. It doesn't have a strong or offensive smell- it smells kind of fruity- but I don't mind it and I don't really pay any attention to it to be honest.

This oil does not cause any tightness, redness and any other discomfort when I apply it to my face, and my sensitive eyes are holding up perfectly fine to this being applied in my eyelids to remove eye makeup. Now, it does contain mineral oil which I know will be a dealbreaker for many, but it's not doing any harm by me. 

Don't forget that Shu Uemera is part of the L'Oreal umbrella so if you were interested in trying out the SU cleansing oils without coughing up the bobs, try this one instead for a more budget friendly alternative. At full price, this is around €12 for 150ml but I always pick it up for around €6/7 mark and it's often on a special offer of some sort from Boots.

Have you tried out this cleanser yet? How do you rate oil/balm cleansers in general?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Giorgio Armani Eye and Brow Maestro

Back in the middle of July, I was invited to discover the Giorgio Armani Eye and Brow Maestro with International Face Designer Eoin Whelan. I learned about the innovation of the product, the science behind it, and those all elusive application techniques. Now, those of you who know me well might be wondering why I, the girl who never really bothers with brows, went to an event to learn about what is primarily a brow product. Well friends, the answer is simple. I quite like my brows, they give me no trouble, but I do feel that since I went from blonde to brunette that they are a bit lost on my face, and sometimes I would like them to just pop out a bit more. I'm happy with the shape of them, and I dare not get them tinted in case they turn out black or I decide I want to turn to the blonde side of life again. If you're in a similar boat to me, or you are an old hand at filling in your brows, keep reading to hear about a pretty neat product.

The new Armani Eye and Brow Maestro is a multifunctional cream product that works as a brow gel, gel eyeliner, eye shadow base, cream eyeshadow and Victoria Beckham even rocked one as a contour on the cover of Vogue (as you do). There are nine shades available- 6 in the regular line and three one shots, and there is one China Blue colour which is available in the States that is not available in Europe. 

 The actual shades themselves come in tones that match to the natural hair colour and are not completely matte (so your brows would not look completely flat) and have a bit of a lustre. There is also a newly released double ended brush to assist with perfect application.

Now, if what you are hearing all sounds pretty standard for eyebrow colour from a pot, then just keep reading. Unlike most brow powders that can leave your brows looking stencilled on and flat, the unique gel formula of the Eye and Brow Maestro will flatter your own brows, define individual hairs but still leave your brows looking solid.

To achieve the best effect, Eoin demonstrated how starting from the arch, working back into the inner corner and up and out into the brow would help create the perfect brow shape. Eoin also demonstrated how to create an ombre eyebrow effect using the colour that suits your natural colour the most and then the next colour offering up. This provided a gorgeous, subtle but striking ombre brow effect. Eoin also showed us how applying the gold shade where the light catches the brow can provide a 3D effect and how a little black can make the brow look more defined. 

I was shade matched to the colour Almond, which I never would have picked out for myself in a million years, but it is a gorgeous colour and does exactly what I ask of it. You can see from these pictures- before and after, the effect that it has. 

If you are interested in these, pop along to your nearest Armani counter and get shade matched, or if you are more confident of your shade selection abilities than I am, you can also order online from Brown Thomas. The Eye and Brow Maestro is €31 and the dual-ended applicator with spoolie is €24.

Does this sound like something that might appeal to you? Do you also suffer with brow woes?
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