Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Clarins Joli Rouge Gradation photos, swatches, review!

Someday I'll start off a blog post on Clarins Joli Rouge Lipsticks saying something other than they're one of my favourite formulas when it comes to lipsticks.  Today is not that day.  I know.  For those who are fed up with matte lips, then you're going to want to check out the Clarins Joli Rouge Gradation lipsticks on counters now.

There are three in the collection, Plum Gradation, Red Gradation and Coral Gradation and can you see the stripes in the bullets?  They're lighter shades to help sculpt and colour the lips in one step.  I've seen lipsticks from other brands that have different shades at one end of the bullet, not in the middle of it, so I was very intrigued altogether.

And as always, Clarins have my dry lips looked after thanks to the combination of organic march samphire and mango oil which provide lots of moisture.

Are you able for the shine?  Swatched on the back of my hand, the difference in colour is obvious, and as Carrie Bradshaw would say, I couldn't help but wonder how they'd look on my lips.

Now, I'm going to show them to you in the order of how I love them, and you might be surprised!  Or you might not care.  Either way, let's get stuck in!

Plum Gradation is just STUNNING on and it's my favourite of the three.  I thought the red stripe would be way too obvious when applied, but I found that with all of them, once I pressed my lips together, which I always do with lipsticks, it evened out the stripe and blended it into the darker shade.  The hint of red at the inner part of my top lip is almost imperceptible, but out of the three shades, it's the most obvious and definitely gives the illusion of having a slightly fuller bottom lip.

Red Gradation looks almost pink on me and the lighter shade in it pretty much disappears when I press my lips together.  It's definitely a more wearable shade for me than if it was a true red and for those who like their pinky reds, it's worth checking out.

Can you believe that Coral Gradation is at the bottom of the trio?  And maybe it would be different if it was summer and I'd be mad for the brighter lips, but in terms of formula, this felt slightly thicker and heavier than the other two.  It's a shade I'd definitely be more comfortable wearing with a lip liner as I found it harder to get a precise edge around my lips, but colour wise, it's gorgeous and would've been brought to Spain if it was summer!

Because of the glossy finish, these are so comfy to wear, but longevity is a couple of hours max, less if you're eating or drinking.  But that's never an issue for me when it comes to lipsticks as I prefer comfort over anything.  Scaldy dry lips are never a good look on me and I don't have to worry about that with these!

The Clarins Autumn Collection is on counters now and the lipsticks are €24 each.  My advice?  Get the Plum Gradation one and thank me later.  It's beautiful!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Alex Steinherr X Primark Skincare Collection #AlexSXPrimark

Today, the Alex Steinherr X Primark Skincare Collection launches!  And last week, I went over to London to meet the lady herself and to get a preview of the products.

For those of you who are new to the beauty world, Alex Steinherr is a beauty editor, social media influencer with 178k followers on Instagram and is a skincare queen!  I love watching her live videos on Instagram, usually when she's hotfooting it around London and she knows her stuff when it comes to all things beauty and skincare.

Alex says one of her most frequently asked questions is to recommend affordable skincare products, so for the last two years, she's been working with Primark to launch her own range which is certified cruelty free and suitable for vegans.

Rather than creating products for skin types, Alex has focused on skin needs, so there are five categories in the collection.  You can mix and match the products and customise your skincare routine depending on what your skin is lacking or crying out for and with prices ranging from €4 to €6,  and with skincare actives including Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide and Squalane, there's something for everyone.

I picked out some of the products that I felt my skin would like and need, and when I've given them a proper go, I'll report back.  But this post is an introductory one, to help you see what's coming out and what you might like to try out when it launches.  As I mentioned earlier, the launch is today but expect the products to roll out in selected Penneys stores this week, so be patient!

None of the products are fragranced as Alex was conscious that fragrance in skincare can potentially irritate the skin and by having no scent, it makes the products gender neutral too.  So there might be a bit of sharing if your other half gets their hands on your products!

The Sleep Spa range has four products that work while you sleep.  I'm all for that, the sleeping part while the skincare does the work for me.  There's the One-Step Night Cleanse (€6), the Sleeping Face Mask (€6), the Every Night Eye Mask (€5) and the Overnight Lip Mask (€5).  The Overnight Lip Masks is tinted so I'll be wearing that during the day and first impressions are really good.  I'm particular about lip balms and masks, so I'll report back on that along with the other products in the range.

The Pore Balance range gently purifies and calms the skin, leaving it smooth and hydrated.   The range contains the Low-pH Sulphate Free Cleanser (€5), the Super Detox Clay Mousse Mask (€6), the Anti-Blackhead Stick (€6) and the Blemish Rescue Stickers (€4).  I'm so intrigued at the Blemish Rescue Stickers and half of me wants a break out so I can try them.  I totally just jinxed myself.  Ok bye.

Pollution is still something that a lot of brands are focusing on and something I've learned this year is that pollution can happen inside the home too, not just if you're out galavanting in the city.  Think candles, those plug in air fresheners, that kind of thing.  The Pollution Solution range contains the Oil Free Gel Hydrator (€6) and the Daily Skin Start (€6) and soon they'll be joined by the Dual Texture Exfoliating Pads (€6) and the City Mask (€4).

The Plump & Glow range was the one that intrigued me the most as I like my skin to have both of those attributes thank you very much!  There are four products in this range, the Serum-In-Cream Moisturiser (€6), The Power Mask (€4), the Plumping Lip Gloss (€6) and the Facial in a Stick (€6).

If your skin needs a hit of moisture, the Maximum Moisture range is one to check out.  It includes the Micellar Cleansing Gel (€6), the Moisture-Locking Everyday Moisturiser (€6), the Supreme Sheet Mask (€4) and the Hydration On-The-Go (€5).

I can't wait to try out all of the bits I got and report back in a couple of weeks!  And one of the things I love about affordable skincare like this, is that when I run out of a product (usually a micellar cleanser), I don't have to wait until payday to restock.  In saying that, I know 100% I'll go in to Penneys for that one item that costs €6 as I'm on a budget, and come out having spent over €50 because Penneys... Gets me every time!

Will you be trying any of the products from Alex's range?  Let me know!


Monday, October 1, 2018

Flormar Colour Up Lip Crayons review, photos, swatches!

Lip crayons are great for throwing in your handbag, ready to be whipped out at a moment's notice.  Unless you're like me and have way too many lip products sitting in the bottom of your handbag, at which point you need to take a cold hard look at yourself and cop on!  So now I only keep the good stuff in my handbag and these Colour Up Lip Crayons from Flormar have taken up residence.  Well a couple of them have anyway!

They come in 7 shades and there's pretty much a bit of something for everyone.  I think they could've done with having a bright bubblegum pink or a fuschia pink to round out the collection, but that being said, they're totally not my shades at all and they'd be wasted!

Each of the shades here are rich and creamy and apply to the lips easily without any pulling or tugging.  They have a twist up mechanism which means you don't have to worry about sharpening them, but I think the more I use them and the more the tip flattens, I'd have to use a lip liner to get full precision.  Especially with the darker shades.  More about that in a second.  But out of the seven, there are a couple that I've been wearing and loving!

Time to see them on the mush!

Nude Pink is verdy pale altogether and on its own, gives me concealer lips and enhanced dry patches.  But used over one of the darker shades, patted into the middle of the bottom lip, gave the illusion of plumper lips and that's how I've been using it since.

Salmon is the most wearable of all seven shades for me.  It's a warm peachy caramel shade (I'm not a fan of fish as lip shade names!) that works with my complexion and has been in rotation in my handbag since they sent it to me.

Lovely Pink was a surprise because you know me, I'm not usually a fan of pinks, but this is muted, wearable and is the closest to a nude pink that I'll ever get.  It's gorgeous.  Perfect for spring.

Caramel is autumn in a lip shade and this is one of my favourites.  It's opaque, doesn't bleed and again, is one that's in the handbag all the time now.  It's really rich in pigment and reminds me of conkers it's that deep.  I love it!

Cranberry is out of my comfort zone being a pinky toned red and I think around Christmas it would be fab.  But it makes me nervous being so bright and pigmented!

Mauve was the one that I thought I was going to love but it disappointed me the post.  I found it patchy and I couldn't get a clean edge around the lip line, so it's one I'd have to use with a lip liner.  I tried to apply a second layer which just moved the first layer and ended up losing the rag with it!

Red Velvet is a gorgeous bright red that's so bright it makes me nervous and because I applied these in number order, I applied it right after Mauve and worried that it would be hard to get a defined line, but it applied much better than Mauve.  But I think to be on the safe side, I'd use it with a lip liner, otherwise I know me, and I'd end up like The Joker in no time!

These crayons are €5.95 each which is a bargain and my picks?  Salmon and Caramel!  I know, I'm a nude lip fan and love what I love!  There's not a huge amount of longevity with these because of their glossy finish, but it's because of said finish that makes them so comfortable to wear, so I don't mind at all about needing to reapply.

Flormar is in selected Penneys nationwide and you can find your local Flormar stockist on their website.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It's my blogging anniversary! 8 things I've learned in 8 years of blogging

It's all mad that 8 years ago, I started up my blog as a bit of craic, to distract me a bit from what was going on in my life and as cheesy as it sounds, it has literally changed my life.  Because of it and because of everyone who reads the blog and follows my Instagram account (and Snapchat too, aw RIP Snapchat), I was able to leave my full time job at the start of the year and give this freelance content creation malarkey a go full time.  It's crazy!  And while it has been one of the most stressful years of my life, it's been one of the most rewarding too.

By no means do I claim to know everything when it comes to blogging, but the fact that I'm still here all these years later, that I write my own posts, take my own photos and still kick ass, I'm proud of what I've achieved and for fellow bloggers out there who might be looking for some tips or insight into blogging, maybe this post might help!

So behold 8 things I've learned in 8 years of blogging but to be honest, I've learned so much more, so if you want more tips, I've got 'em!

1. The blog isn't about me.

This has always been the case.  Each post I write has you, the reader, in mind.  I try to give as much information on the products as possible so you can make an informed decision on whether to buy something or not.  I'm not here to influence you.  It's up to you to make up your own mind whether you want to buy something, but I always encourage you to read more reviews than just mine, because what works for me might not work for you and as a reader of blogs and consumer of content, I like to get a feel for products by reading a few reviews or watching a few videos.  Whether you're a hobby blogger or this is a job for you, it's our responsibility as bloggers to serve our readers in an honest, trustworthy, authentic way.  Using ring lights or filters to make ourselves look lovely isn't helpful for that person who has €20 to treat themselves to a bit of makeup with.  It's about the readers, not us.

2. I found my tribe.

I've had blogging friends come and go over the last 8 years, but now I have a core group of gals who are the best and are from both inside and outside of the blogging world.  None of them have an agenda.  They don't want any PR contacts, they don't pump me for information and then go radio silent when I give them what they were looking for until the next time they need something else!  The gang I have now is deadly and we encourage each other, we bounce ideas off each other, we support each other and we get each other.  So my advice is to ditch the leeches and find yourself some new pals.  It's the best!

3. I know my worth.

This has been such a learning curve and it still is to this day.  I'm a people pleaser and have said yes to things I regretted shortly after, have been taken advantage of and have learned all the lessons.  I make great content.  When it comes to collaborations, and even my regular content, I pour my guts into it.  I owe it to the readers and to those who follow me on Instagram and I've shown behind the scenes on how I go about taking photos and creating content.  I also owe it to the brands to create the best content possible.  While I can make it look easy, you don't see the times where I'm just sitting looking at the products for ages, hoping inspiration will hit!

It's heartening when a brand approaches and wants to work with me and I always take time to see if it's going to be a good fit for me, for the brand and for the audience.  On the other hand, it's incredibly disheartening when I'm approached by brands who want me to "collaborate" with them and I use inverted commas because mostly, they want me to create content for them, for their social platforms, for nothing.   I know how long it takes me to create deadly content and I've stopped apologising for wanting to be paid.  My free time is worth more than that.  I've said yes to a lot more things this year, but I've also said no, and I'll explain more in one of the points below.

4. I've stayed true to myself.

I know it's such a cliche to say when you're starting a blog, to stay true to who you are, but it's one of the most important things ever.  It can be easy to do what others are doing if you see the success they're having, but if it's not you and not what you're about, it'll show.  It'll show in your face, in your guts and your audience will spot it a mile away.  So keep your own voice, try your own things and you do you!

If a brand approaches and asks to do a collaboration, and you haven't tried the products yet, ask to try them first.  Don't be someone who will do anything for a few bob.  I can spot it a mile away, and you may as well change your name to Mi Wadi because you're diluting what you're about and if I can spot it, so can your readers.  Being selective and talking about things that fit with your blog and what you're about will pay off in the long term because your audience will know you won't sell out and they'll be able to trust you.   Don't sell out lads.  It's not worth it.

5. I never stop learning.

I'm sure someone will tell me how self indulgent this sounds, but I'm going there!  Everything I've learned about blogging, photography, filming etc has been self taught.  I know I'm not a great writer and have so much to learn when it comes to cameras, programs and apps, I could go on, but I love learning new techniques and experimenting.  One thing that made my day recently was someone seeing a photo I'd taken for a brand and knowing it was mine!  I have a list of things I want to learn more about and I'll be googling and searching on YouTube for how to do them.  Every day I listen to podcasts and most of the time they're on social media, digital media, that kind of thing and I just love the behind the scenes of this industry.  All I need to do now is learn what ISO and aperture means and I'll be grand!

6. I keep stepping outside of comfort zone and trying new things.

It took me ages to build up the courage to show my face on the blog, to start doing YouTube, to start Snapchat and Instastories and to speak at events.  And I take every single opportunity as a learning experience.  Either it works out and I learn from it, or it doesn't work out and I learn from it.  But the most important thing is I'm trying new things, I'm trying to stand out in a saturated market, I'm trying to be different and I'm trying to be one step ahead when it comes to content.  There's something I want to tick off my list before the year is over and the thought of it gives me pains in my stomach, so hopefully I won't die of nerves!  I get questions every week from new bloggers who are nervous about putting themselves out there, and I get it.  When I started, there were no online forums (that I knew about anyway), no Facebook groups and it wasn't the massive industry it is now.  There was a lot less judgement, publicly anyway, and it was an easier place to navigate, but the way I see it, stepping outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens.  Experiment with new types of content.  Try different angles when filming videos.  Up your game, try new bits and see what happens!

7. It's ok to take a break.

This has been huge for me over the last couple of years.  Blogging burnout is real and it was only up until a couple of years ago that I let myself take time off.  I felt self imposed pressure too post a certain number of times a week, to have the chats on Instastories every day and reply to every single comment all day every day.  But then I realised that I don't get paid to do all blog posts or Instagram posts (in my last 30 blog posts, 1 has been an ad and in the last 100 instagram posts, 3 have been ads.  That's 97 unpaid Instagram posts and 29 blog posts that I've done in my own time, so while I might call it a job, it's more like I'm volunteering! )  So taking days off and time off social media is totally allowed and needed and I've stopped apologising for that.  Now when I'm having dinner, I keep my phone upstairs so I'm not tempted to get sucked in to replying to comments.  I don't reply to emails after 6pm, I try to take one day off a week from social media and it's helped my mental health so much.  I took time off when I was in France during the summer, switching my comments off for the five days and I'm so glad I did.  This could be a 24/7 thing if I let it, so my advice is to have limits, boundaries, whatever you need to not let it give you brain mush.

8. I'm not going to be able please everyone.

I think this is something I've learned just over the last 3 years or so and Snapchat and Instastories has a lot to do with it.  I've had people tell me all I do is talk about the products I've been sent.  I've had people giving out to me for buying products myself as I'm sent so much.  I've had people give out about posting affiliate links and I've had people asking me to go find them links for products (not affiliate links obvs!).  There are people who want me to go and buy a product myself, photograph it, test it out, write about it, talk about it online, and report back with a link to the product that is not an affiliate link because they don't like them.  So while I won't be able to keep everyone happy all the time, I do my best by respecting the readers, by not trying to take advantage of them and again, by staying true to myself.  With brands, I've been saying no a lot more this year as they want more and more for less and less.  I have to keep myself happy and in turn, that makes it easier to keep as many of you happy as I can!

And those are my words of wisdom as a geriatric blogger in both senses of the word!  I'm an aul one compared to all the young and up and coming bloggers, and I've been doing this long enough to see bloggers come and go.  And I still love it so much!

I have so many plans for the next year, but rather than tell you about them, I'm going to show you.  Thank you to everyone who has been reading the blog for years and thank you to the new bridies who have joined the tribe along the way.  You have all made this possible for me and I won't let you down.  Yizzer only massive lads!


Monday, September 24, 2018

Charlotte Tilbury Stars In Your Eyes palette review, photos, swatches!

Darling!  I can't read any product description on the Charlotte Tilbury website without reading it in her voice!  On Friday, I had one of those pinch me moments where I got the chance to meet Charlotte again and lads, she's exactly the same in person as she is online.  Gas, flamboyant and just a gorgeous bridie altogether!

She was over with her team showing us the new launches and after I posted one of the press shots of the Stars In Your Eyes Palette on my Instastories last week and asked should I get it, it was a resounding yes from everyone!  As funds are low at the moment, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to wangle it, but the universe was listening and Team Tilbury gave it to us on Friday and I've been playing with it since.

The Stars In Your Eyes Palette has four magical, mood-enhancing eye looks to inspire love, power, happiness and confidence.  Part of me wants to see if I'd have the best day of my whole entire life if I put a bit of every shade on one day and let all of the moods take over!

If you go visit a Charlotte Tilbury counter, you'll see that it's laid out in such a way that makes life much easier, well, makeup application life anyway!  They have looks gathered together in one place, matching lip pencils with lipsticks and glosses and that concept has been brought into the Stars In Your Eyes Palette with the four different sections.  But don't worry, you can go wild and mix and match the shades across the palette.  Charlotte won't mind darling!  

The palette has a mix of mattes and shimmers that work together beautifully, and if you're a fan of warm shades, then you're going to want to keep reading.  Let's look at the shades up close and personal shall we?

The Love Eyes section is described as having "three rose-quartz inspired shades, with sweet, soft pink hues to reflect the stone of unconditional love".  In the pan, the shades definitely look pink toned, but on me, they lean more peachy.  And that suits me just grand.  I'd wear this trio every day easily.  The colour payoff is fabulous, with the mattes being silky soft, pigmented and blendable.  And with all of the shimmers, this applied best with my finger or with a wet brush.  

Of the four looks, the shades in Power Eyes disappointed me the most.  The shade on the left and the centre shade needed a good few swipes to get a decent colour payoff, but definitely work better with a wet brush.  The shade on the right is pure bronze-y perfection and I can see that being used up fast.  Word on the street is I can be a star in the boardroom if I wear these, so maybe I need to lash them on and take Lovely Girlie Bits to the next level!

Where do I even begin with Happy Eyes... If Charlotte brought out a trio with these shades, I'd buy backups because they are just beautiful!  The shimmery shade just pops and the two mattes are a warm shadow lover's dream.  This trio is me in eyeshadow form!  I found the mattes incredibly easy to blend and I was able to build them up too when needed.  

I've been lacking in confidence recently, and so if the Confident Eyes section of the palette helps empower me the way Charlotte wants, then I will wear it every day I tell ya!  With this trio, the shimmers definitely worked better wet than dry and I found that the matte applied opaquely, but blended away the more I buffed it over my lids.  So I learned with it that the best way was to place the colour, buff it out and then place a second layer with minimal blending.  It's not ideal, but the shade is a beautiful burgundy that's perfect for this time of the year.

For the looks below, I used each trio on one eye, but like with all palettes, you can use as many or as few shades as you like, so feel free to mix and match because that's what Charlotte would want you to do.  You know I'm right.  She'd say "Oh Darling, lash on all the shades like a good thing".  Ok she totally wouldn't have said that but I confused you mixing her accent with my words didn't I!

In the photos above, on the left we have the Love Eyes, on the right is the Power Eyes.  This half of the palette is more for daytime wear and brings light to my eyes.  I'd have preferred if the Power Eyes trio had a matte shade for my crease because shimmers don't really suit me in the socket, but I have plenty of mattes to play with in the rest of the palette.

In the photos above, Happy Eyes is on the left and Power Eyes on the right.  I love this half of the palette so much and as we all know, I'm a fan of a smokey eye or two, especially as the nights get longer.

And that's the Stars In Your Eyes Palette!  It's now my grown up palette for fancy nights out, but I really should start using my good makeup for every day wear shouldn't I?  On Friday they told us it was going to be on sale on the Brown Thomas website for 24 hours on Thursday 27th of September and I think the Irish price is €75, but my advice is to order from the UK website.  It's cheaper at £60 and you can pick your own samples too.  That's where I bought last year's palette and shipping was quick enough.

Will you be picking it up?  I'm thinking it would be a gorgeous Christmas present!  Either for yourself or for a lucky loved one!

**Post contains affiliate links**


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Benefit Brow Contour Pro, before & after photos!

I have scaldy brows.  There.  I said it.  Not that I had to say it because one look at them would show you exactly that.  And so I've been making it my mission to try out all the brow products on the market because I'm good like that you know.  The latest offering from Benefit, The Brow Contour Pro, launched recently and I've been getting to grips with it!  Ps I've a demo video at the bottom of this post, so have a read and then have a watch!

First of all, the packaging is fierce retro.  Ok it's retro if you're a bridie of a certain age, shurrup yew.  

It has four tabs that you press down one by one allowing you to define, contour and highlight your brows.

After pressing down a tab, you twist the top half of the tube to release some product.  Don't release too much or it'll be all over the shop and you won't have as much control.

In terms of the formula, this definitely feels more like a cream than a pencil to me and when I first swatched it, I thought it was going to be hard to work with, just because I'm a micro pencil lover through and through.  The swatches below show Blonde Light on the left and Brown Medium on the right and you can see that what they've done is match the brow shades with skin tones shades.  I'd love to swatch the rest of the pencils to see if all skin colours and hair colours are being accommodated.  I've been using the Blonde Light pencil as I'm a taupe brow lover.

The idea is that you use the lighter shade from the inner part of the brow to the arch, then the deeper shade goes from the arch to the outer tip of the brow.  The definer shade goes above and below the brow before using the highlighter under the arch.  It took me a few uses to get used to not having a spoolie at the end of the pencil, but I'm grand now.

In the before and after photo below, I'm not wearing any foundation so the outline of the definer shade is more obvious.  There's an accompanying Brow Blender that has a spoolie on one end and a sponge on the other end to blend the definer and highlighter shades out properly.

Below shows the brows done and dusted, everything blended out and me wearing foundation.   My brows stay in place all day and it's mad, I've been able to achieve really defined brows with this, more defined than my usual brow pencils which I wasn't expecting at all to be honest.  I'll let you know how long it lasts and at least the two brow shades are similar enough that I'll be able to get away with wearing one over the whole brow if the other is used up quicker.

The Brow Contour Pro is €35 and is on counters now.  Are you tempted?!

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