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Friday 20 May 2016

Great Lengths Hair Extensions: Two Weeks In.

It's a full two weeks since I got myself some hair confidence and so I wanted to do an introductory post about my extensions; why I got them, how the application went and how I feel about them now that I've had two weeks to get used to them!

My hair history
I've never had Samson-esque hair, it naturally veers on the straight, thin and weak side but when I became quite ill in my mid-twenties, my hair, skin and nails all took a bit of a battering.
Three years on and as I'm still on life-maintaining medication, my hair is also still in a heap. My skin is better than ever and my nails are somewhat improved but my hair, particularly at the back remains a disaster. I've tried every product on the market but if you have weak hair there's not a huge amount you can do.
I hummed and hawed about getting extensions and read all of the advice on them but eventually just decided to go for it. Sure look, it's only hair and money at the end of the day and if it helps me to feel even slightly better about my currently negative body image then, why not.


Choosing a salon
On the advice of my massive friend Eilo (she'll appreciate that), I went in to Cowboys and Angels on South William St. I've previously been in before for colour and cuts but my research and my Eilo told me this was the place for extensions. Valerie Patterson is renowned in Dublin for being an extension wizard and so she set to work on my limp locks (the previous Saturday she had re-pinkified and lightly snipped my hair too). She created a 50 piece blend of blonde, pink and orange tones to perfectly match the rose-goldy blonde I was currently rocking.

The application process
The process itself took a couple of hours. The extensions are bonded to your own hair using heat and a protein polymer, rather than glue, and are then trimmed to sit naturally with your own hair. For me, it was all about volume- I didn't particularly want hair down to my waist, just more body. Which I got!
My before and after shots don't really do it justice to be honest but my Snapchat selfies (below) probably will show you how very happy I am with my new hair!
I also really liked my experience in Cowboys and Angels. I'll say at this stage that I was not paid to write this and I did pay in full for my extensions!
Valerie only advised me to buy the Great Extensions brush, which allows you to brush your hair through from root to tip, without pulling on or damaging the bonds. When I asked about special shampoos etc, she told me not to waste my money and to use what I have, just to make sure the conditioner went nowhere near the bonds. As it happens, I'm already using a sulphate free set from Kevin Murphy that is safe for use with extensions but I really appreciated Valerie's honesty. She saved me a good bit of cash there!

Extensions, pre-application. And, eh..ignore the many caffeinated beverages in the second photo (bit hungover that day) but that's the beginnings of them in, pre-cutting!

So, my thoughts so far:
  • It does take a little getting used to. The first few days my scalp was tender but it's back to normal now and there's no extra weight there or discomfort.
  • Styling my hair also takes longer than usual; not a huge amount more but I have to factor in longer drying time and then straightening/curling also.
  • It's a small thing but I need a bobbin on hand to plait my hair nightly; doing so eases the pressure on the bonds from your hair being pulled as you move around in your sleep.
  • I can't just throw my hair up into a messy bun anymore- although I now have the hair to make the messy bun look good, I also have the bonds there so there has to be a lot more tactical hair arranging. 
  • It's definitely worth spending the money on the Great Lengths brush, which makes life just a bit easier.
  • I was worried you'd be able to see the bonds but honestly, they're not particularly noticeable (see photo)
I've exposed the bonds in the first photo to show you what they look like, while the second one is my own hair back in place over the bonds.

  • I definitely feel more confident and feel better about my appearance in general. I've had people say they didn't notice the extensions and that's exactly what I wanted- they're not incredibly obvious to the naked eye. They sit perfectly with my own hair but I just have more of it now! It looks natural but enhanced at the same time, if that makes sense!
You know you're already obsessed when you start taking Snapchat selfies, immediately.

Would I recommend GL extensions?
Yes, most definitely. The hair that's used is real hair and is ethically sourced. It's very good quality and easy to style and it's given me a bit more pep in my step! I also love the freedom I have now- we have a lot of weddings etc this year and it's nice to know that when we're away somewhere, I'll be able to do my own hair and not have to try and find a hairdresser in the middle of nowhere. 

From the side and the back. Keep it in mind that it's very tousled here, hairdresser stylee ;)

Price wise, it's different for everyone depending on how much hair you want. I went for one of the less expensive options as I got only 50 strands. You can get as many as you want which will obviously then impact how much you spend. Because my hair is light anyway, more than 50 might look a bit too much on me but if you have normal hair but want some more length, 75-100 strands might be more appropriate for you. 
Hopefully, I should get 5-6 months out of my extensions, if they're well looked after and if my hair continues to grow characteristically slowly. For me, that's another bonus as I don't enjoy going to the hairdressers and 5-6 months of hairdresser-free time is kind of glorious. 

Again, keep in mind both the hangover here and that I have had to filter said hangover from the photo. The hair, however, is unfiltered!

Have you been thinking about getting extensions? What's stopping you?
Or, have you had them and haven't gone back?
To the comments and let me know what you think!

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Accessory Picks For Summer From Penneys!

Summer is at last upon us and so an accessories shopping spree in Penneys was obviously on the cards. Most of these were bought with a gift voucher I had and there's a present in there too. I also picked up some t-shirts, leggings, sports bras and socks but I didn't think ye'd be overly interested in all of that jazz so here we are instead with the fun stuff!

We have a trip to Barcelona/South of France coming up so I wanted to get a pair of comfortable but cute tan sandals and these fit the bill nicely. These are partly made from real leather so that ticks the comfy box while the tassels and beading add a nice on-trend touch. These were €16.

Gin is my tipple of choice and so I couldn't resist a Gin Cooler flavoured lip balm, which actually smells mostly of Elderflower, one of my favourite accompaniments for the liquor itself. For €1.50, you're not going to be getting the greatest lip balm of all time; it's mostly just flavoured Vaseline to be honest but still quite nice!

That dreamy Coachella-vibey Snapchat filter that's doing the rounds obviously gave me ideas because I spotted these floral crowns and thought for €6, I may as well give it a go! I'll probably mostly wear this on holiday with a casual maxi dress and the afore-mentioned gin and elderflower in my hand! Can't. Wait.

I have a serious grĂ¡ for a pastel-hued, pointy-toed heel, so these minty loves had to come home with me. I've lost the receipt for these but I think they were €12

This gorgeous bunny/cat make up bag was a gift and I love it! Although it's not technically a Summer specific item, there's something about bright white and pink that feels appropriate for this time of year!

This Missoni-esque clutch was around the €8 mark, if I recall correctly and has already become a firm favourite of mine. It folds out to reveal a much longer bag than you'd expect with lots of room inside and a zipped compartment too! I love the colours in this, it makes me want to put on tan and sunglasses and sip lemonade on my (non-existent) porch.

Terribly, I also don't remember how much this tan belt was but I remember not paying over a tenner for it, if that helps at all? Anyway, this is perfect for pairing with floaty Summer dresses that need a little pulling in at the waist and those low hanging boyfriend jeans that show off just a smidge too much pasty ass-crack. I'm not speaking from experience here by the way. Ahem.

Lastly then is this frankly ridiculous, lemon bag. I debated fiercely with myself in the store over this one. In fact, I spent waaay longer in there than was necessary or for that matter, enjoyable, just so I could assure myself I was making the right decision. For €11 or so, I think I made the right choice. I greatly enjoy a novelty bag and I really love both the colour yellow and lemons themselves. Also, this is a bit of fun to liven up a dull outfit. I'll no doubt only get to use it a few times this Summer but like the floral crown, buying fleeting trend pieces like these for a good bit cheaper is definitely the way to go. You could no doubt buy similar in Topshop and spend a small fortune but sure, this works just as well!

Have you found any fab Summer buys in Penneys or anywhere else for that matter?
To the comments!

Monday 9 May 2016

Recently Read: March & April

I've slowed down a bit on my reading goal for the year, which currently stands at 15/80. A meagre 19% in. I just don't have the time if I'm honest and as long as I'm getting to read as many books that I can, it's all good. Anyway, for now, here's my most recent reads. Again, some are advanced reader copies, others are audio books, book club reads etc. 

Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent
I somehow have not read Unravelling Oliver, Nugent's first novel, which was highly acclaimed on its release in 2014. I very happily received an ARC of Lying In Wait though, which is due for release on the 7th of July of this year. The first paragraph of this had me absolutely hooked, although the first line alone played a big part in that: 
"My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle but the lying tramp deserved it". 
The husband in question is a well respected judge, living in Dublin with his wife and son in their period property that isn't quite as grand as they'd have people believe. We briefly meet Annie Doyle, a young woman from a working class background with a sad past. Although her murder wasn't planned, Lydia will now go to any length to hide her and her husband's dark secret and protect their young son. Unfortunately, as Lawrence grows up, he becomes increasingly more obsessed with the dead girl and her family, leading Lydia to take drastic action. This is one of the best thrillers I've read in a long time and I had it finished in a couple of days, such was my need to find out what would happen! I will say that the ending is possibly one of the most bleak that I've ever read but don't let that put you off, it's well worth it. Lydia is a brilliantly written character; an absolute psychopath whose actions kept shocking me. Definitely one to pick up in a couple of months time and I'll be getting myself a copy of Unravelling Oliver, pronto. 

Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran
As I've previously mentioned, I am a big fan of Caitlin. I loved How To Be A Woman and enjoyed How To Build A Girl. I laughed wholeheartedly when my sister and I went to see her in Vicar St a few years ago where she got us all to stand on our wobbly stools and shout "I AM A FEMINIST" and I love her newspaper articles, although they're usually behind a paywall on The Times, and I'm a cheapskate. Moranifesto then, was the ideal book for me; a collection of previously unpublished articles and some of her most loved pieces (including that famous pre-posthumous letter to her daughter) and her random thoughts on everything from how extremely addictive Daft Punk's Get Lucky was for that entire Summer, to politics (that's where the Moranifesto part comes in), to how great the British opening ceremony of the Olympic games was, with plenty of time spent on feminism and how the patriarchy ruins everything for the rest of us. That's a very brief description of what's a surprisingly long book. I got this on audio and although she unfortunately doesn't narrate it herself, I had her thoughts in my head for a whole month. And I loved it. I loved every little bit of it and if you really liked How To Be A Woman but were less enthralled with How To Build A Girl (which was fiction and somewhat autobiographical), then this a real return to form and you'll love it too. 

Maestra by L.S. Hilton
Oh here, where to start with this one. Apparently hailed as the "most shocking thriller you'll read this year"(I can only assume by L.S. Hilton herself), this is not so much shocking as it is muddled. Judith is a tough young woman working for a prominent auction house in London. She's determined to succeed and when she finds out she can't do so the old fashioned way (hard work and putting the time in), she basically decides to just start killing her way around Europe. Oh and having lots of very graphic sex too. I'm not being reductionist here, that's the actual plot, of which I lost towards the end when she gets to Paris. I've also heard this compared to 50 Shades Of Gray but to be fair to Maestra, it's nowhere near as badly written as that but still, not quite well-written either. 
Save yisserselves. 

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
I had seen so many reviews of this from people who loved it that I had to give it a go. This is a really mind-twisty thriller that starts with the fatal hit and run of a five year old boy and takes us on a a very disturbing look at a relationship dominated by domestic violence.  There's also a whodunit side to it from the perspective of the police investigation and an absolutely massive twist about halfway through that had me completely floored. I have to say, I found the storyline moved incredibly slowly for the first 50%; I struggled with it a bit if I'm honest but after that I couldn't put it down. Definitely one worth reading if you're a thriller fan but just be aware that you'll need to stick with it and that the abuse element is very hard to read- overall, it may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Rebel Sisters by Marita Conlon-McKenna
Right. This was our book club read for March and what with the Easter Rising Centenary celebrations and all, it was most appropriate. 
You might remember Marita Conlon McKenna from such childhood books as; Under The Hawthorn Tree and The Blue Horse. I loved her growing up, as did the other gals in my book club so we were all looking forward to this one. You're sensing a 'but' here, aren't you?
Well, truth be told, this just wasn't very good.
The storyline follows the Gifford sisters (Grace, Muriel and Nellie) from their childhood in the leafy suburbs of Ranelagh up to the Rising itself, which they are all involved with to some degree. Unfortunately, I felt too much of the book was spent in trying to establish each woman's own traits and characteristics, and even that wasn't hugely successful. It seemed like the reader only got to know these bright, intelligent, kind, loyal and creative women towards the end of the book which felt like a failure in my eyes. The Rising itself and the immediate time preceding and following it and their involvement were what really interested me and it seemed like we only got to that part in the last 20 or so percent. I also found the writing to be a bit stilted and forced at times.
Quite disappointing.

High-Rise by J.G Ballard
I got this on Audible because it was pointed out to me that sexy Tom Hiddleston (who also stars in the film version) narrates it and I really can't resist that smooth voice. The main character is Robert Lang, a doctor who lectures in a nearby college and has just moved in to the high rise; a lavishly designed block of apartments. What floor you live on indicates your social standing both inside and outside the building; those at the top are the richest and include the architect who designed it. In general the residents are all middle to upper class professionals but slowly, a change comes over them all and they regress to an animalistic state. Over the course of the book, all of the high rise dwellers begin to debase themselves and others; they viciously attack each other in an apparent bid to take over/reach the top of the high rise, now heavily guarded by its upper echelon members. Dr Lang is one of the social climbers so we sometimes see the brutality through his eyes and often, it's via the other residents. Overall, this was a bizarre and at times, deeply unpleasant book but it was also gripping and a different kind of dystopia to what I'm used to.
Avoid if you have a weak stomach and/or really love dogs. Seriously.

And that's the lot!
What are you reading right now?
To the comments!

Tuesday 3 May 2016

An "It's Almost Summer" Haul

There was a strong hint of Summer there one of the days recently and as I sweltered in my Winter coat and sunglasses (cause you can never be too well-prepared in Ireland), I was lured into a Boots by an offer of buy-one-get-one-half-price on every make-up brand and sure you can imagine what happened next. 
(I bought all of this stuff, is what happened next.)

First up is this very pretty bronzer/blusher from Maybelline in 09, Sun Tropics. Dream Sun features two matte products in one to provide your skin with a nice warm glow. So far I'm really loving the bronzing part- it's subtle enough that you won't look like you've been tangoed but can be built up for extra contouring. I love that it's shimmer-free cause I do prefer a more natural looking glow. That pinky/coral is a very pretty design but the colour pay-off isn't fantastic. You definitely need to really work your brush in there to get a good result but either way, I quite like this one and I do think it's handy for travel etc. 

Maybelline Dream Sun

Bourjois recently brought out City Radiance; a foundation with SPF30, radiance boosting pigments and an anti-polution screen. This is actually my second tube! I haven't even finished the first one but I love it so much I said I'd get it, plus it worked out nicely with the offer that was on (the concealer, below!). I'll do a proper review on this soon cause I need more space to rave about it but for now, if you have somewhat dry skin, need a light daytime foundation that makes you look really well, then, look no further!

Bourjois City Radiance

The offer on Barry M could only for me, be used on their nail polishes, which I love and tend to stock up on every Summer, thanks to their fab range of pastels, neons and nudes, all of which look great with a tan! 
So, these two are both new; Coconut infusion contains a blend of Coconut water and oils to hydrate and nourish nails, as well as leave a glossy finish. I got the shade Flamingo, because I couldn't not get a shade that tropical with that name! I've so far only worn this on my toe nails and it's holding up well there. The colour is a lovely smooth, creamy pastel and is indeed nicely shiny. 
Mani Mask is a major favourite though. I've again, only worn this once but it held up well on my fingernails and leaves such a gorgeous finish; semi-matte that takes care of your nails and makes them look super healthy and classy too! Two of my friends that saw my nails immediately wanted to buy a bottle for themselves! I got the shade Birthday Suit, which is a nude but there's also Bashful; a baby pink that I may need to pick up too...

Barry M Coconut Infusion Mani Mask

I was actually originally just looking for this newbie from Bourjois; Radiance Reveal Concealer and then of course, I bought ALL the things. This is really good. It's designed to correct, illuminate and provide 24hour hydration so from that you can decipher that it's ideal for under the eye. It's a similar product to the Nars Creamy Radiant Concealer except that this is much lighter. If you liked the Nars but felt it settled in fine lines, this may be a good alternative for you. You may find yourself compromising slightly on coverage (I think nothing really beats the Nars) but this is a very good alternative and well worth trying- I really like it so far.

Bourjois Radiance Reveal Concealer

The Maybelline Instant Anti-Age Eraser Eye is a repurchase. I'm just finished one of these bad boys and would recommend buying the light one whenever you see it as they tend to sell out pretty quickly! I will do a proper review on this one too because it's really excellent for concealing under-eye dark circles. 

Maybelline Instant Anti-Age Eraser Eye

Have you tried any of these? 
Anything catching your eye?