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Thursday 30 April 2015

Duty Free Purchases!

I escaped Ireland recently for a week and popped into the Loop on my way and then the Duty Free on the way back. There was nothing I actually needed but sure you know yourself, like a kid in a sweet shop and all that. 

Victoria's secret beauty

First up was a visit to Victoria's Secret for a body spray. I thought this would be handy for work as it's a lightweight bottle and although it's not super long lasting, it's also only €12, so I'm not going to feel guilty for coating myself in it several times a day. I went with Aqua Kiss, which contains "rain-kissed freesia and daisy". It's a lovely fresh scent, summery but not sickly sweet. I liked it so much that I picked up the matching body and hand lotion on the way back. I actually prefer this to the spray as the scent lasts longer on the skin. The next time I'm in the airport I'll be stocking up on more of these. 
Love it.
Lastly, on the way back I also picked up a Pink body spray in Sun Kissed. This is pure coconut and vanilla goodness, like Summer in a spray. Nom.

OPI base and top coat

I needed both a new base and top coat so this 3-in-1 from one of my favourite nail brands, OPI, seemed ideal. It's also a nail strengthener, which is great for the likes of me with my weak nails and so far I'm really liking it. This was around the 14/15 euro mark.

Clarins instant light natural lip perfectors

I also spotted this set of two full size Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfectors in the original pink and peach shades for a measly €22. One of these on their own is €18.50 so I did pretty well there. I recently ran out of the pink one and have never tried the peach so it's all coming up Millhouse. 

And that's my lot! I was as always tempted by the perfume, MAC and alcohol (although my sister in law kindly took care of the latter for me. Brandy cream for the win!) but I talked myself down! 

Are you an airport shopper too or do get too overwhelmed by all the many brands?


Friday 24 April 2015

BarryM Sunset Daylight Curing Polish

Being an absolute sucker for a gimmick of any sort, I had to buy the new Daylight Curing polish from BarryM to see if it was any good. There were five shades available in the Boots I was in and I was tempted by the navy blue and a classic red but I went for Like A Nude instead, a creamy matte shade. Regardless of the shade of polish you opt for, you'll need a bottle of the Daylight Curing topcoat. This is a clear topcoat that uses "natural daylight curing to create long lasting hi gloss nails". So it's designed to replace your trip to the nail bar and it's a cost effective way of getting shellac in your own home. But does it work?!

BarryM Sunset Daylight Curing

Recommended use is to paint a thin coat of your nail paint (it has to be from the Sunset range, regular polish won't work apparently) and allow to dry. Then apply a second thin coat. I found this part tricky enough and I think that may have been my own fault for applying a base coat- it doesn't say not to on the instructions and I always do to protect my nails but I think it made the application a bit harder. The brush definitely dragged a little bit, which it probably wouldn't have otherwise. My advice would be to go without if you can, although that may be harder with the darker polishes where you'll risk staining the nail bed.

BarryM Sunset Daylight Curing

When the nail paint is dry, you apply a thin coat of the Sunset topcoat (again, it has to be this, other topcoats won't work). Your nails are then supposed to cure naturally in daylight. The topcoat itself applied smoothly, like any normal topcoat really. Overall it probably took longer to dry than an average nail polish but I ended up applying some of the coats too thickly so once again, that may have been user error. 

BarryM Sunset Daylight Curing
Of course, I cleaned up around the nail, after the photos were taken. Best. Blogger. Ever.
BarryM Sunset Daylight Curing

I think they look very pretty, that nude is a gorgeous shade and would be perfect for work, an interview or a wedding. I didn't have anywhere to wear it to but enjoyed looking like a lady nonetheless!
Longevity wise, it definitely lasted longer than a regular nail polish. 
Unlike Shellac though, there's no way you'd get a full two weeks out of this without chipping. I got to day 2-3 before minor chips appeared and by day 5 each finger had at least a small chip, while some were definitely the worse for wear. Observe:

BarryM Sunset Daylight Curing

It's hard to tell from that photo but there are actually chips on every nail, not just the more obvious middle finger. Because it's less obvious that they're there though, it means you could get away with it for a bit longer if you could get over that middle nail, which I personally couldn't. Five days was definitely the limit for me for the daylight curing. 

My final verdict is; these polishes are ideal for a weekend away or an event like a wedding but they don't have the same longevity as a salon professional polish, like shellac and if you're expecting that then you'll be disappointed. However, they are only €7.49 (Boots have a buy one, get one half price on them at the moment too) and they do last a bit longer than a regular pharmacy brand polish would, for the same price so for that I think they're worth giving a try. I know I'll be trying out another shade from the range fairly soon!

Thoughts? Is this too gimmicky for you? Would you rather just get a professional job rather than faff around yourself or does the bargain price lure you too much?!
To the comments!

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Pastel Blue Coat: Splurge or Save?! (Save, Obviously)

I've been after this beautiful pale blue coat from Oasis for a good while but kept going online to look at it and then clicking out again- the price was putting me off. I've no problem with spending a bit more on a classic wool Winter coat but a light jacket in a seasonal trend (in this case, pastel) felt like an unnecessary expenditure. Step forward reasonably priced fashion bastions, Penneys, or Primark to those across the Irish Sea.

The Penneys number on the left is made from scuba material and so doesn't wrinkle or crumple- ideal for throwing in the back of the car for a weekend away or a wedding AND it's machine washable! It zips up with a heavy gold zip, which is also featured on the sleeves. It's those little details that makes it look pricier than it actually is.

On that note, this was €35 (although my sister informs me that it's now reduced to €15!!), while the Oasis coat comes in at €106.00. Granted there may well be some difference in quality but it looks stylish and dresses any outfit up, plus it's the perfect Spring colour. Both are still available at the moment if you're after a blue coat of your own. Oh and Dunnes brand Savida has a woolier version available at the moment also. 

*Thanks again to my super stylish sister for buying this first and therefore alerting me to its existence. We can be like twins now! Yaaaay!

Monday 20 April 2015

The Best Of Sleek Plus A Giveaway!

I've been a big fan of Sleek for some time now, stocking up either on Cloud10 Beauty or any time I've been in the UK. Although we've been able to test out the products at limited stands here for a while now, the brand have just last week officially launched in Ireland so we now have access to the full range of Sleek products! Huzzah! 
This is good news for a few reasons. Sleek are just an excellent drugstore brand; they're reasonably priced so you can splash out on a full new face of make up without feeling guilty (prices range from €5.49 to €12.99) but you also know that you're getting good quality for your money. In further good news, they cater for fair to dark skin tones and they do not test on animals so you can add those to your "Sleek are awesome" list. 
I've collected below some of my favourite bits and pieces from the brand and at the end there's a giveaway so you can experience the brand for yourselves!

Sleek make up

Eyeshadow Palettes
This is one that Sleek are actually renowned for. I only own three, which in beauty blogging terms is somewhat embarrassing but for normal people, that's fine! Anyway, the ones that I have cover the main eye looks I go for; smokey nudes and a dark smokey eye. First up is the Au Naturel palette. Twelve shadows in a mixture of mattes and shimmers, this has everything you need for both natural day time looks and more interesting night time looks. 

Sleek Au Naturel palette

The Vintage Romance palette however, definitely lends itself more to an evening look and more colourful smokey looks, if you're bored of the same old dark shadows. 

Sleek Vintage Romance Palette

Lastly and this is a relatively new find for me, are these i-Quad kits, that you guessed it, come with 4 shades- in this case, three eyeshadows and a liner. Everything you need (except mascara obviously) all in one handy little kit…clever, eh?

Sleek i-Quad palette

Blush and Contour Palettes
While I have individual blushes from the brand (including the much loved Rose Gold), it's the Lace Blush by 3 palette that I return to the most. Chantilly is a coral toned matte orange, Guipure is a shimmery rose gold and Crochet is a light matte orange. They look scary in the pan and you do need a light hand with these because they are so very pigmented but they are also very flattering on and can be layered together to create new looks. 

Sleek Blush by 3 Lace
left to right: Chantilly, Guipure and Crochet.
Sleek Contour Kit Light

I have the contour kit in light. You can read a full review of that and the Lace palette HERE.

This is about my third or fourth of these dinky little eyebrow kits and it's easy to see why- they contain everything you need for a perfectly groomed brow. Powder (with no hint of redness in there- not that easy to find in a brow product for blondes) and a setting wax to prevent any loose hairs from flying about the place. There's also two brushes and the world's cutest tweezers. 

Sleek brow kit

I mentioned this gorgeous lipstick in THIS post of my favourite berry shades (this is Cherrybut there are plenty of different lip options from the brand, including the new Matt Me liquid lipsticks, which I'll be writing about once I've had a decent try of it! 

Sleek Cherry lipstick

Sleek is available in pharmacies nationwide and on the Sleek website, HERE.
And now for the giveaway! The very lovely PR folks working with Sleek provided me with some gorgeous products to try and as I have already blogged about most of those (being a big Sleek fangirl) I've decided to share the love! 

You could win:
Blush by 3 Palette in Lace
Brow Perfector in Dark Brown
i-Quad Eyeshadow & Liner in Moroccan Myrrh
i-Quad Eyeshadow & Eyeliner in Midnight Blues (limited edition)

sleek giveaway

The giveaway is only open for Ireland and will run for two weeks from Monday the 20th of April until Monday the 4th of May. You must be over 18 to enter. You will need consent from a parent or guardian to enter if you're under 18 (as I'll need your address). I'm using Rafflecopter, so just enter your details below, it's that easy! If you want to be extra lick-arsey, you can pop over to my blog Facebook page (HERE), follow me there and like and share the post too. 
Best of luck one and all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Recently Read: February & March

I've been away from the blog for a little while due to personal reasons and so I've accumulated quite the collection of books to be reviewed. Here's what I read throughout February and March:

Only Ever Yours by Louise O' Neill
Set in a not-too-distant future where women are genetically engineered to be as close to perfection as possible (not quite perfect as there is "always room for improvement"), girls are raised as "Eves" and are there for one purpose only; to please men. They live in a school where they learn how to be a "Companion" to the males who will one day be in charge when they too are old enough. Not everyone can be a Companion however, some will be Concubines (prostitutes, basically) while others will be Chastities and confined to educating Eves for the rest of their lives. Women are designed to produce sons and once they are over the age of thirty five are removed from circulation as they can no longer procreate and therefore, are no longer useful to society. For the Eves, especially the two main characters, freida and isabel (female names all appear with a lower case in the book, highlighting their insignificance), they face all of the pressures you'd imagine including body dysmorphia, eating disorders, jealousy, self hate and a constant desire to be the best. The entire book is geared around the idea that women are not just the lesser sex, they are inferior to men in every possible way and are of importance only for the few ways men can use them. This is some bleak stuff right here and like the best comedy, I think that's because of how close to reality it is. Sure, our society isn't at the stage it is in this book (yet) but there's huge similarities in how our media views women and in turn, how men and women then view and treat women also. It's a disturbing plot which at times seems to have taken inspiration from the similarly terrifying Handmaids Tale. I feel like this is an important read for both women and men as it introduces feminist concepts in a subtle way- you could be forgiven for thinking this is fiction only but at its heart is a chilling message for the future.

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
Billed as this years big thriller and touted by many to be the new "Gone Girl" (it's not), the girl in the title is Rachel, a rather pitiful character with a drinking problem that gets the same train every day to work, which passes the same house and a couple therein that Rachel has built a mental fantasy about. She's decided their names are Jess and Jason and that they lead perfect lives, far removed from her own sad, solitary existence. Of course, reality can be very different to what we see on the outside and when "Jess" goes missing (real name Megan), Rachel has to piece together what happened to her from what she's seen and work out what her own involvement was from her hazy, drunken memories. Told from the perspective of three fairly unreliable narrators; Rachel, Megan/Jess and Rachel's ex-husband's new wife, this is a decent thriller that kept me captivated until the disappointing Scooby-Doo style ending. It is very bleak- Rachel is a full on alcoholic with bouts of amnesia following blackouts and I spent most of the book going "ah no, don't do that!". If you're looking for something light and fluffy, this isn't it but it's not a bad thriller if that's your thing.

Goose by Dawn O' Porter
Goose is the sequel to Dawn O' Porter's first novel, Paper Aeroplanes and follows the two main characters, Flo and Renee into their final year of school where they are faced with making plans for the future. The girls live on Guernsey, are best friends and have enough emotional problems between the two of them to keep Dr Phil busy for quite some time. These are YA books but the first in the series was well written and quite captivating. I didn't feel like that when I read Goose though. It lacked something and overall fell a bit flat for me. I would be interested in reading more form Dawn in the future but I may leave this series after this one. 

Revival by Stephen King
Ah, Stephen. You lured me with this one, that's for sure. Billed as a "supernatural thriller", I was expecting to be thrilled, supernaturally, rather than horrified. Oh how wrong I was. This is the story of two men that meet when one is a boy (Jamie Morton) and one is a minister of a small American town (Charles Jacobs). Jacobs has an unhealthy interest in the power of electricity and uses it to apparently cure Jamie's brothers mutism. Jamie grows to love Jacobs and his wife until a terrible accident causes the minister to renounce God and disappear out of his life. We then follow Jamie as he grows up- this is some real Stephen King stuff right here; the man loves an epic struggle worthy of song. Long story short, he grows up, goes off the rails and incredibly, meets Jacobs again who is now a travelling "healer", using his "secret electricity" to cure illnesses, both physical and mental with mostly positive results. Unfortunately, those who Jacobs has "cured" start acting very strangely and Jamie is forced to try and derail his old friend from causing any further harm. I won't say anymore because I don't want to give away the TERRIFYINGLY HORRIFIC ENDING but I will say it involves the grimmest vision of the afterlife ever, GIANT ANT LEGS COMING OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF CORPSES and me retching in my sitting room as I read it. So yeah. Good luck with that.

Blue Eyeshadow by Paul WS Bowler
I had previously read and loved Irish author Paul WS Bowler's short story The Bucket (review HERE) and so I was really looking forward to his first (and self published) novel, Blue Eyeshadow. The story unfolds over the space of a week but is told in a non-linear, non-chronological fashion so if you're the sort of person that's normally desperate to get to the end of a book and find out what happens, this will be a challenge for you! The prologue is a brief look at the life and death of a teenage boy, forced to commit suicide after a campaign of abuse by school bullies. The body of the book occurs after his tragic death and follows Aaron, an American teenager who has been attending the same school as his bullied predecessor since his family moved to a religious and highly judgemental small town. Aaron expresses himself through his hairstyle, piercings and make up, something that is not tolerated by his homophobic tormentors and their abuse is in turn, ignored by the school guardians. I have to say, I was desperate to find out what would become of Aaron and I felt the author did an excellent job of building that suspense. I also really appreciated the way Aaron's sister's character was written; multi-faceted, non-stereotypical female characters are a genuine joy to behold in a book for me so I was really interested in her too. With primary themes of homophobia, religious intolerance, bullying and suicide, this isn't a light read but it's sensitively written with well developed characters and a gripping plot. 

Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming
I love actor Alan Cumming and was intrigued by the premise of his memoir. After being approached by the BBC to appear on "Who do you think you are" in 2010, Alan (I can call him that, we're friends in my head) readily agreed, hoping it would shed some light on a family mystery regarding his maternal grandfather's death in the far East before he was even born. Little did he know it would reveal upsetting secrets about not just his grandfather but also his own dad, destroying relationships in the process. I bought this on Audible as I do with any autobiography read by the author as I think it adds something extra to the telling of the story. I was particularly pleased I did so with this book as Alan has a wonderfully rich voice that added warmth, humour, emotion and greater insight to the story. As a warning; his brutal childhood at the hands of his father is discussed in detail so if you'd rather avoid reading about the physical and emotional abuse of a child, you should probably leave this one. If you can get through that though, this is well worth a read. I actually found the different stories that were woven together in the one book to be fascinating and overall this is very different from your average celebrity memoir- there's proper substance here that will keep you captivated until the end. 

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes
Sali Hughes is a beauty columnist with a lifetime of experience in all things cosmetics, skincare and beauty. She's now compiled that knowledge in her first book, Pretty Honest, a "straight talking beauty companion". 
I've previously read pieces from Sali in The Guardian and enjoy her own particular brand of no-nonsense beauty talk with a feminist leaning, which is exactly what you'll get in this book. I would've loved this when I was a teenager and again when I was a bride and also when I was unwell (there's a section for everything!) and I know I'll go back to it again as get older. Lots of great advice in there for all ages and skin types. 

Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham
I'm still not sure how to feel about this book. I quite like the TV show Girls (which Dunham writes and stars in) and find her to be an intriguing person so I wanted to find out just what exactly she has "learned". To that, I think, not a huge amount. At times, I found myself completely agreeing with some of her words of wisdom and she's certainly experienced plenty of unpleasant situations but…she almost seems to relish those experiences, as if she's aware of how they make her more interesting by proxy and they give her a story to tell, rather than honestly wanting to impart what she's learned from them. She is without a doubt, one of a kind. However, with that, at several times throughout the book I found myself rolling my eyes at how obnoxiously pretentious she is but then, immediately smiling because of how self aware she is! It's a pickle really. If you are going to read it, skip the entire chapter about her calorie counting. It is literally just this:
cherries 30 calories
crackers 100 calories
I thought she was trolling us all for that chapter but then realised that in her mind it was probably the book equivalent of an art installation piece. 
This book was on one hand, exactly what I expected and on another, completely different. I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone but at the same time, I don't actively dislike her after finishing, that's kind of breaking even I guess?

Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi
This is the story of Australian actress Portia De Rossi's journey from ambitious schoolgirl to Hollywood star via Ally Mc Beal, her hidden homosexuality and an eating disorder. She's brutally honest in this memoir about her experiences, including the depths she plummeted to maintain her tiny 82 lb weight. This was at times a difficult read as Portia details the extremes her illness drove her to, which ironically left me feeling somewhat nauseated. While it was without doubt an interesting read, I found it slightly odd that so much of the book was devoted to the illness itself, with only about the last 10% of the book discussing her recovery. It almost read like a "how-to", which could be dangerous in the wrong hands.

That's my lot! I'm on to a whole new slew of books now but let me know in the comments what you're currently reading and what I should pick up next!