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Monday 23 February 2015

Herbal Essences Clearly Naked | Review

A while back I was sent the new Clearly Naked range from Herbal Essences to try out and since then I've been using the shampoo, conditioner and sheer shine mist. All of the products contain 0% parbens and colorants while the shampoo also has 0% silicone. The fragrance throughout is white tea and mint, which smells beautifully fresh and clean. The idea with these is that they provide moisture in lightweight formulas and because they contain no baddie ingredients, they won't strip your hair either.
Here's my thoughts:

Herbal Essences Clearly Naked

Shine Shampoo
If you have dry, rough hair this is the one for you. Since I last coloured my hair a couple of weeks ago, it's been brittle, hay-like and super dry. My hair feels so soft since I started using this, it's shinier and, it's clean. Like, squeaky clean. It actually squeaks. Because it's a lighter shampoo, it leaves no residue behind and it isn't weighed down by product. You can find it in Boots for €2.99 for 200ml.

Shine Conditioner
This is a very light conditioner that replenishes moisture from root to tip and leaves a natural looking shine behind. If you prefer a heavier conditioner for your locks, then avoid this. When I say it's light, it almost feels like a gel-cream but because of that, it spreads easily and evenly throughout the hair. Again, my hair is really soft from using this, I can't actually stop touching it. I'm surprised I like this so much because I normally prefer a thicker conditioner but this has been working really well for me so far. Again, this is €2.99 for 200mls in Boots at the minute.

Sheer Shine Mist.
Yes, I've lost the lid for this. It happens to every bottle/container that enters my house. Anyway, this is a shine-boosting formula that lightly conditions to revitalise your hair. This can be sprayed on wet or dry hair to add extra shine. I've tried it both ways. I use it every time I wash my hair; onto towel dried hair, pre-drying. I find I need to spray this fairly liberally to get the desired effect but when I do, my hair is noticeably shinier, which is no mean feat for a blonde. It also makes my hair easier to comb through when wet. I've used it dry for those Monica style crazy hair days too. I find that it doesn't last as long when I use it that way but that may be just my hair being weird. Overall though I really like it.

So it's two thumbs up for the new Clearly Naked Shine range. 
You can also get these in Volume and Moisture Rich options and there's a dry shampoo I'm interested in trying too. 

Are you a Herbal Essences fan?
Any of these tickling your pickle?

Thursday 19 February 2015

Mascaras! Make Up Forever Smoky Extravagant, NYC Big Bold Angel Lash & Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes.

I've been trialing these three out quietly away to myself for a while and have come to some conclusions.

Make up bag from Pamela Barker 

First up is Tarte's Lights, Camera, Lashes. This is a "4-in-1 mascara with a high performance formula, proven to increase lash volume by 330 percent". That 4-in-1 is lengthening, curling, conditioning and protecting by the way. 

I like this one, as I do most things Tarte. The packaging sets it apart from most other mascaras on the market and it gives a natural look that's ideal for daytime. I get no clumping with it, each individual lash gets coated and although it doesn't dry out quickly, it can occasionally leave some flaking, especially after wearing throughout a long day. This is $20, available online HERE.

One coat only in both photos.

Next up is Make Up Forever's Smoky Extravagant mascara*. I only have a sample size of this but have been getting surprisingly good mileage out of it. This is a "precision mascara, using 4D technology to coat the surface of the lashes in ultrablack pigment with a cone shaped brush to separate lashes and create extravagant volume". Phew! That's a lot of fancy cosmetics talk.

I've been using this for events or nights out as a couple of coats gives a more dramatic look than how I'd wear it for work. This has a slightly sticky feel to it when you touch your lashes (even when dry) but I feel like it's that that prevents any flaking- even after a 13 hour shift in work. Two thumbs up for this one. Available in their flagship store on Camden St, Dublin 2.

One coat only in both photos.

Finally, there's this bargainous offering from NYC, Big Bold Angel Lash*:

This is designed to give you "big bold but featherlight volume that visibly adds 11x more volume in two coats". I also really liked this one, it actually looks really similar to the effect of the MUFE, except much cheaper, obviously. In fact I wore one on each eye one day and they really looked the exact same. Available in Penneys and Dunnes stores nationwide.

One coat. The actual state of my eyebrows, I'm growing them atm. Bleurgh.

If I had to buy any of them right now I'd get a full size of the MUFE but that's not to say I wouldn't purchase the others when they run out too.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these?

*Press sample, gratefully received. All opinions my own, as always.

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Parknasilla Resort & Spa

A few months ago now we took a trip to Kerry to stay in the luxury Parknasilla Resort and Spa. Situated close to local beauty spots like the Ring of Kerry, Valentia Island, Cahersiveen, the Wild Atlantic Way, Sneem and Kenmare, there's plenty to see in the area if relaxing in a fancy hotel is not for you. 
We've done all of those places before so although we went for a couple of scenic drives, we primarily spent our break in the hotel itself. There are beautiful walks on the grounds, big cosy sitting rooms with lit fires and a rather lovely spa with an outdoor hot tub to take in the local beauty. 

For big and little kids there's a fairy trail with loads of these cute little houses to spot.
Outdoor hot tub, y'all!!

Food wise, lunches and dinners were excellent. Breakfast was a buffet, which was somewhat unexpected for a luxury hotel but good nonetheless. The building dates back to 1692 and the communal rooms are fittingly decorated to suit a hotel of that heritage. Unfortunately, our bedroom was slightly disappointing; perfectly serviceable but again, not what we expected under the term "luxury". It appeared to have last been decorated in the 90's and was looking a bit shabby, particularly the bathroom. Not so bad as to complain but something to bear in mind if you are staying there yourself. 

That aside, there is a stunning array of artwork throughout the house, making a trip from bedroom to spa a treat for the eyes. The spa itself is modern and spacious, with an 18m swimming pool, two outdoor jacuzzis, a variety of steam rooms/saunas/experience showers, heated loungers and a gym. We didn't avail of any treatments but they use Elemis products and there's plenty on offer I'd be happy to try if we went back. 

We went on a seasonal offer, which is now last season so check out this page to see what's available now if you too want a relaxing break in the heart of the stunning Kerry countryside.

Have you been to Parknasilla? Did you enjoy your stay as much as we did?

Monday 16 February 2015

Berry Lipsticks I'm Loving

Although I'm still longing for Spring and the fairer weather it brings, unfortunately it is for the most part still bitterly cold in Dublin so I'm making the most of red and berry toned lipsticks. Here's what I'm currently loving;

Clockwise from top left; Dior Sterling Red, Sleek Cherry, Revlon Cherries In The Snow, Seventeen Stay Pout Date Night and Revlon Black Cherry

First up and the priciest of the five is that strawberry-jam red from Dior, Sterling Red. If you're slightly afraid of reds this is a good jumping off point, it's not too in your face but still adds a lovely slick of colour. It's glossy and very pretty on. Full on love for this one.

Next up is a dark cherry red from Sleek. This is a more bargainous option and still packs a proper punch in the pigmentation stakes. 

This is an absolute beauty of a raspberry from Revlon, I wore it all over Christmas. It's bright but warm and super flattering. Love it.

Date Night from Seventeen Stay Pout* is a limited edition but is actually still available in this and another shade for only €5.69. This is surprisingly pigmented and at a really good price, if you want a bit of berry for less. I love this, it reminds me of a Bourjois lip crayon (Plum Russian) that I loved last year and also of a lighter wash of my favourite MAC lipstick, Rebel.

And lastly, my most recent favourite. I went into Boots a couple of weeks ago for vitamins and came out with this dark toned stunner from Revlon, Black Cherry. I saw it and couldn't leave without it. It's a perfect darker toned lipstick and looks surprisingly right on me. I generally don't wear it quite as goth as  it is in the photo but still enough for an impact.

Dior, Sleek, Seventeen, Revlon Cherries in the Snow, Revlon Black Cherry. 

And swatches..

What's your ultimate berry toned lippy? Any of these make your cut?

*Press sample, gratefully received. All opinions my own, as always.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Recently Read: December & January

Not particularly recent, granted but here it is nonetheless. I actually read very little over Christmas due to general festive business and of course, work but I made up for it somewhat in January.
I read 72 books last year and completed a lot of personal reading challenges so I'll be doing something similar this year too, if and when I find the time!

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
I'm a big fan of Sarah Waters and was greatly anticipating the release of her latest historical fiction, The Paying Guests. The story focuses on spinster Frances and her mother, trying to maintain a large house after the death of the male members of the family in WW1. In order to make ends meet they do the unthinkable for women of their social standing and rent rooms in the house to lodgers, Leonard and Lillian Barber. The Barbers are not their "type" of people but Frances
ultimately falls into a dangerous intimacy with one of them that has terrible consequences. I did enjoy this book, as always it was well written with carefully developed characters that were realistic, with the flaws and idiosyncrasies we all have.
Parts of this were hard to read; when something untoward happened I could often find myself giving out to the characters for acting foolishly and I also found that the incredibly narrowed choices available to women at the time were described well in the book. A word of warning though if you're getting this on audio, there's a few explicit scenes throughout the book that left me a little red-faced whilst walking down the street! Otherwise, a good but somewhat drawn out read.

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
This was touted as one of the biggest thrillers of last year so I was eager to give it a try. Apple Tree Yard is about Yvonne, a very successful scientist, happily married with two grown up children. In spite of this and against her best judgement, Yvonne begins a passionate affair with a man she knows little about, other than a hint that he works for the secret service. It sounds implausible but as it's told from Yvonne's perspective it's more about her thoughts so makes sense somehow. It moves along fairly slowly until a major catalyst about halfway through the book that I was completely unprepared for and to be honest, found quite disturbing.
So, *SPOILER ALERT* but there is a graphic rape scene in this novel that I wish I'd known about beforehand as I may not have picked it up otherwise. From there on out I felt queasy reading the rest of the book, as it was about rape and it's aftermath, told by a rape victim, basically. And told very well at that; the reason why it was so hard to read was how believable it was. I completely empathised with her character and wanted her to get out of danger but it just kept getting worse.
This isn't a pleasant read and it's something I could have done without but having said that, it is undoubtedly well written and certainly a captivating thriller and it touches on aspects of feminism that I found interesting.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Right, cards on the table. I didn't actually finish this. I tried, God knows I tried but I've been through far too much at this stage of my life to put myself through anything else, willingly at least. I previously read and really enjoyed two of Rowell's YA books; Fangirl and Eleanor and Park so I was expecting good things from this non-YA novel. My first mistake was buying it on audio because somehow that made it far, far worse. Although, as it transpired, my first mistake was buying this at all. 
This is the story of Georgie and Neal, a somewhat unhappily married couple with two young children. Georgie works as a comedy writer for a popular sitcom while Neal does most of the child-rearing. Her job increasingly keeps her away from home until she misses Christmas with her family. Neal takes the kids away to his parents for the holidays and while they're away, Georgie discovers that she can contact the Neal she first met from ten years ago via the old telephone in her bedroom in her mother's house. Now, that concept I can get on board with. However, Georgie is an incredibly boring character. For a comedy writer, she's zero craic. Neal is similarly dull; he's sullen and irritating most times and for the life of me I can't see what anyone would see in him. The book is comprised of pointless conversations between the two of them that seem to add to the storyline in NO WAY WHATSOEVER. When she manages to remember that she has children and gives them a call on a normal phone, we're treated (repeatedly) to this conversation with one of her kids, who I should point out, is able to speak without any difficulty, just chooses to say "Miaow" on the phone:

Georgie: "Hi Numi (seriously)".
Numi: "Miaow, Mommy"
Georgie: "What kind of cereal are you eating?"
Numi: "Miaow Miaow, Mommy".

And not just once, oh no. That particular style of conversation is feckin' peppered throughout the book. It's as if her editor rang her up and was all "Rainbow, you're short about 200 words. Can you throw in some more mindless garbage to fill the space?" 
Sweet Suffering Jesus. I almost threw my phone into the canal more than once. 
Do not read this book. 
Save yisserselves.

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
I got this in the kindle sale after Christmas and was delighted with myself as it's been on my to-read list for a while now. Laura Bates runs the Everyday Sexism site and has collated thousands of comments from women all over the world of the abuse, harassment, assault and everyday sexism they have faced as a direct result of their gender and reproduced them in this book. If it sounds like grim reading, then it is and I could only read this in 10% bursts at a time. That said, it is also an excellent read. The anecdotal evidence from women is mixed nicely with statistics and research so you get a full picture of the problem that many would rather ignore. The book is divided into chapters highlighting a particular issue; gender and politics, domestic violence, sexism and how it affects men, double discrimination (ethnicity, sexual orientation), eating disorders etc. I generally think I''m quite aware of how prevalent sexism is, based on everything I read about it on a daily basis, but I found myself slack-jawed at times reading some of these women's experiences and shaking my head sadly at some of the statistics. For the most part it is extremely depressing to think what an almost insurmountable obstacle lays ahead for feminists to overcome but the last chapter discusses inroads that have already been made and left me feeling a lot lighter, I have to admit. Well worth a read, especially for anyone who has ever exclaimed "but do we really need feminism anymore?". The answer is YES by the way, in case you were wondering. You big eejit.

A Nightingale Christmas Wish by Donna Douglas
Lookit, I know, these books are never going to win the Booker prize but they're fun and my brain can switch off when I'm reading them so I don't care. Ok?! This is the most recent of the Nightingale books and takes us up to the beginning of WW2. We meet new students and are reintroduced to old favourites and overall it's just a nice pleasant, retro read. It's also the least Christmassy book ever. Christmas and New Years probably cover about two chapters and that's it. I think the next one is out this year, which I'm already looking forward too, sad sap that I am. 

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9, issues 1&2.
As I mentioned already, I was given this whole series plus the start of season 10 for Christmas so I've been getting stuck in since then. The first episode sees the gang coping with the after effects of Buffy ridding the world of magic (Willow in particular is suffering), which has altered how vampires become creatures of the night. Buffy is living in San Francisco, working in a coffee shop and trying to be normal with new flatmates while also still being a slayer. There is an excellent storyline where she faces  *SPOILER ALERT* a crisis pregnancy and has to weigh up her options that felt quite realistic in a very unrealistic world. The second episode carries on that storyline but takes it somewhere ridiculous that ruined it somewhat for me. I was all "FOR REAL?!" etc. Anyway, that aside so far I'm loving this season; wonderful drawings, great monsters, all the Buffy wit and SPIKE!! Huzzah!

What have you been reading lately?