Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Season's Must-Have Accessories: A Cheap And Easy Way To Update Your Style

There's something a little different about this AW. Bright colours abound, styling is edgy and cool but preppy pieces are back in a big way thanks to Gucci...It's just a lot of fun ideas. A little like a season for playing dress-up.

A downside, however, is my burning desire for new clothes so I can play along with these cool trends and ideas. I always have to curb my need for new pieces but it's particularly bad right now. And I'm not the only one, it seems. Several friends have admitted that their normal budget and allowances for new clothes have gone right out the window. 

Fear not, though. I've come up with a pretty useful solution: accessories. 

I know, I know. That's not a new idea. Accessories are always a great way to update your look in a more cost-efficient and eco-friendly way but this season, in particular, there are some key items that can completely change and upgrade your wardrobe.

Here are my picks of AW17's must-have accessories.

1. Brooches

A little while ago, I found a couple of brooches that I had gotten in press bags from different jewellery brands. They'd been put away in those same bags for years at this point and I took them out with the intention to give them away, tired of having things I didn't want or wasn't using just lying around and taking up space. 

The truth is, I thought them old-fashioned and fussy until recently and then I realised that I was merely approaching wearing them in an outdated way. Brooches in of themselves aren't old-fashioned. They are actually invaluable this season (particularly pearly ones for that Gucci vibe) and perfect worn on an over-sized mannish blazer to bring a touch of prettiness to it; on a military-style beret to make it softer and more interesting; or pinned to the front of my simple sporty black bum bag when I wear it slung across my chest for a look that's a combination that's a little more compelling and unexpected. Brooches, used correctly, make for modern styling and can make items you already own look more expensive and on trend.

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2.  Pearls

I don't need to say much here. And I know I need to stop talking about Gucci so many times in this one post but, srsly, they've kind of defined the aesthetic that we're seeing everywhere this season and they made pearls happen again. But cooler pearls. More modern pearls. Think pearls where you weren't expecting them - on shoes, pinned to berets etc. - and pearls set in simpler, geometric jewellery, particularly earrings. 

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3. Earrings

I don't buy a lot of jewellery because I simply don't wear it often enough and I have too much as it is. However, I'm having a hard time walking past earring displays atm. There are so many good options; geometric, minimalist, gaudy and gothy, mismatched etc.

Just get some statement earrings and it will totally elevate an otherwise simple outfit; without your having to try too hard. An especially good combo is loosely tied back hair, an over-sized comfy knit, skinnies, ankle boots and a hard-working earring. Mango and Primark, in particular, have some great options at the moment.

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4. Glasses chains on sunglasses

It's already a thing but it's going to be a mainstream thing soon, I certain of it!

Tapping into the re-imagining and restyling of vintage items and trends that we're seeing a lot of, this is something I'm really into and it looks super cool. An easy way to look hipper than you are, without having to do very much.

Pop into any optician and pick up a chain and then add it to some sunglasses, preferably ones with coloured lenses. 

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5. Neckties

Channel your inner Gossip Girl (and Gucci - again, I know!) and invest in a necktie. It works that preppy trend, sure, but paired with clashing prints, it looks really fresh and cool and a lot more expensive than your outfit might actually be. I got this one on ASOS and I'm obsessed. 

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A lot of what is in style this season is a re-imagining of things and can be easily replicated with pieces you probably own already. Just pick up some accessories that are multi-functional, transformative and adaptable like these guys and you won't have to spend an arm and a leg to tap into the coolest things going on in the industry right now!


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Monday, 2 October 2017

Love Letters To Dublin: The National Gallery

There are too many posts that I need and want to write and, yet, here I am. Going off topic. Once again. However, there is a good reason. This is something I've been wanting to do for ages. I wanted to start writing about this city that I adore so much - about her eateries and views and places and people - but I was afraid of going off topic. Of ignoring my "brand".

Well, fuck it. I'm not a brand. I'm a person. And this is my blog.

I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned how much I love Dublin before. I've lived here for eight years now and I fall more deeply in love every time I look at it. But, then, that's the type of lover and person I am. The more I know - good and bad - the more I love. I love the bones of this city. I love its beautiful sides and ugly sides. I love it all: the streets, the trees, the parks, that special soft light that seems unique to it, the magic winter sunsets, the cawing seagulls, the culture and manageable hustle and bustle, the people, the buildings...

I could go on and on but the point is, this series needed to happen. I felt like I was going crazy, waxing lyrical about this place in my mind ad nauseum but keeping it largely inside. Because, the thing is, many of my peers have a complicated relationship with Dublin and my blind devotion can feel alienating. She has her flaws, that I will admit, and it can feel as though I am choking on a lack of opportunities, at times, and, yet. Yet, I still adore her and I felt the need to share the many reasons why. And as I always sound better on paper than in bumbling person, I thought it might be the way to convince those around me to look again, a little closer or better.

Which brings us to the National Gallery. I feel a special kind of ownership of and bond with the gallery, probably more than the average citizen on the street. As I studied Art History at Trinity College, it was not unusual for me to have classes in the actual gallery. We were neighbours and close ones, at that. The kind that take care of your pets when you go abroad. That close. And, then, at the tail end of my Masters, I began working as a guide at the gallery. I had extra access and spent even more time there: at least one day a week. I came to know many of the staff members, with whom I still chat when I visit now, and the works, on a rather personal level. Some became my favourites and I chose runts of the litter to champion and highlight on my tours. Working there made me a better speaker, more professional and confident. It changed me and I loved it all the more for doing so.

The National Gallery of Ireland is one of the most visited galleries in the world and is stuffed with a collection far richer than such a small country might normally boast. Through fascinating incident after happenstance, we came to have an extraordinarily beautiful building and amazing selection of works. As such, the gallery is also crammed full of anecdotes and charming stories. Like the lost Caravaggio (one of the finest works by his hand) that was discovered in Dublin after disappearing for centuries and donated on permanent loan to the gallery, the Vermeer that is just one of 35 in existence and was stolen twice, and Burton's Meeting On The Turret Stairs (a work I once got to have a ten minute one-on-one stare-off with), which has inspired tears and proposals.

Entrance remains free to the public (though this may need to be reconsidered at some point), it has great opening hours (generally 9.15am to 5.30pm but until 8.30 on Thursday and from 11am to 5.30pm on Sunday) and is housed in a recently reopened and refurbished stunning purpose-built 19th century building (with many later additions, including the lovely modern Millennium Wing). Excellent temporary exhibitions are regularly held that further bolster the incredible collection of the gallery and this year alone there have been major showcases of works by Caravaggio and Vermeer. Other events are held constantly to engage, educate, entertain and involve the public from free tours and talks to drawing classes for kids.

However, the best thing about the gallery has to be the atmosphere. The bright, beautiful spaces are a joy to walk through and it is incredibly wonderful to see how interested the public are; especially since the historic wings reopened this year. In fact, I visited the day that it reopened and couldn't get over how people working in the surrounding area all flooded in after they finished for the day. Everyone was so excited about it. And though I hate crowds, the way the rooms are arranged and the mood the space puts people in makes for the least annoying crowds I have ever seen. It's like there is a concentration of good cheer and good manners in the building. The attendants who walk the rooms are a big part of the experience and add to this atmosphere. They love their jobs (by and large), they love the gallery and the works and they are always happy to share information with tourists or strike up conversations with locals. It truly is a space that inspires good will.

When the historic wing reopened and I visited, I nearly cried. I was so overwhelmed by how good a job had been done and how worth the wait it had been. I was overjoyed that it seemed like others had missed it as much as me and that a space that had been part of what made me the woman I am was so full of life and happiness. I felt thankful that I got to grow up there and it felt like I was being reunited with a childhood friend who had grown up had never really changed. It felt like coming home.

If you are visiting Dublin, the National Gallery is a must-see and, without doubt, one of my favourite places in this truly beautiful city.

National Gallery of Ireland
Merrion Square W, Dublin 2
https://www.nationalgallery.ie/
(01) 661 5133

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Sunday, 24 September 2017

AW17 Hair Trends with Viviscal

I've raved about Viviscal a lot in the past. Like, A LOT. I credit it for my naturally fine and thin hair suddenly being labelled as thicc by hairdressers as of a couple years ago. Shortly after this blog became a fashion and beauty blog, Viviscal was one of the first beauty brands I started working with. I began a round of their supplements and (now discontinued) serum and my hair was changed forever.

Viviscal quickly became my favourite haircare brand and I work with them frequently. Recently, I came away from an event with more supplements and they went into my samples pile for later perusal. When a good friend told me that she was having trouble with her hair due to stress caused by a very bad work situation, I immediately offered the supplements to her and she, too, came to swear by the brand. And, so, when I was told I could bring a plus one to their latest event, I instantly asked Kim along. It was a fashion showcase of hairstyles taken from AW17 runway shows and one of the best organised and most elegant events that I've been to in a while. 

We arrived at the beautiful event space upstairs in the Cliff Town House, which was flooded with late evening light streaming through the big Georgian windows and grabbed some very pretty pink gin concoctions. Arriving with someone was a nice change for me as I don't mind flying solo at events (I often do or only pop in and out to fit them into my schedule) but can sometimes spend the whole thing watching the door and waiting for someone I know to arrive, while I stand in a corner, stuffing my face. This time I had a partner in stuffing my face!

Then came the actual show, done by the team at Brown Sugar and lead by their founder, Mark O'Keeffe. It featured looks from the AW17 shows of the likes of Chanel, Balmain, Paul & Joe, Jeremy Scott, Versace, Balenciaga and Prada. All of the looks themselves were actually fairly simplistic. However, the health and shine of the hair, however, were more important and the key to their success. There could be no better brand to present them, therefore, than Viviscal.

One of my personal favourites was the Regal Pony, as had been showcased at JW Anderson and Alexander McQueen. A long, sleek and exceptionally equestrian pony that must be neatly slicked back, the Viviscal Densifying Elixir proves to be an essential in its construction as it is perfect for taming fly-aways and smoothing the hair. Another look that caught my eye was a loose mid-length waves hairstyle, that reflected what was seen at Balenciaga, Prada and Céline, among others. Pretty but casual, it is a look that is all about an easy-breezy appeal that is anything but easy achieve for me but probably not so hard for others - heated tools and I don't hang out very often so I'm not very good with them. But, if you have been using or are going to use heat on your hair, Viviscal supplements and products are really useful for maintaining the strength and health of it. Natural hairstyles dominated runways and the best way to have naturally beautiful hair, is to take care of it. 

I often like products but I rarely swear by them, however, I readily swear by Viviscal. It really, really works and while trends come and go, healthy hair is always stylish. Check out the pictures below for AW17 hairstyle inspiration but check out Viviscal's range of products for better hair x

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Thursday, 7 September 2017

Meeting the Designers Behind Cult Fashion Brand RIXO London At Brown Thomas

RIXO London is a young brand that has managed to already develop a fevered following and seems to have a knack for quickly capturing new fans with a single garment. So much so, in fact, that when Irish stylist Courtney Smith posted a photograph of herself wearing one of their dresses on Instagram it almost instantaneously sold out.

That was my personal introduction to the brand and I recall thinking that it was a beautiful dress but not something that suited tomboyish types like myself. I thought, "I sometimes wish I was that girl." But it turns out I was wrong. I am that girl, if I want to be, because RIXO have the everywoman in mind. They are all about creating cool, vintage-inspired clothes that flatter and work for all sorts of different women. Garments can be worn different ways and combined with other pieces in your wardrobe to make them very much your own; a wrap dress, for example, can be worn solo with daring slits, or open as a wafting robe, or over jeans for a cool layered look. RIXO's woman is not one single target demographic but, rather, all sorts of gals of different ages, shapes and lifestyles. While you will see the brand touted by the coolest It Girls of Instagram, they, alone, are not the only ones who can enjoy the brand.

RIXO was founded in 2015 by London College of Fashion alumni Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McClosky who, at the time, were buyers for ASOS. The two met while they were in college and quickly bonded over a shared love of vintage clothing. They found themselves spending most weekends together, trawling through vintage sales around the UK and unearthing gems. Others professed a love for their finds and they began reselling clothes online. When they found customers despairing that everything was a once-off and gone when it was gone, they got the idea to start their own vintage-inspired label.

Since its beginnings two years ago, the brand has seen a meteoric rise and is now stocked in Net-a-Porter and many boutiques around the world, including our very own Brown Thomas; which is where I got to see them discuss their label, its origins, rise and motivations, a couple of weeks ago. Irish-born McClosky, in particular, professed to have been touched to see her own clothes stocked in the Irish fashion powerhouse and informed us that they even made a limited print that is only available in BT.

A love of pattern is key to the brand and the two designers often create their own prints, reimagining their popular silhouettes - including the Moss Blouse, Camellia Dress & Orlagh Blouse - season after season by reproducing them in different prints. Another core value that they stressed is the use of high-quality fabrics and the wonderful construction of the clothes. While these are not actually vintage pieces, they are made to ape the quality of old: they are made to last. And though the price point is a good deal higher than your standard high street pieces, it is not unattainable, providing investment pieces that will never truly go out of style. The pair really do consider how women dress and shop and how to make pieces that will be true assets to a wardrobe.

It's hard to balance cool, sexy and timeless in a brand but, somehow, RIXO are doing it and doing it well. I'm pretty excited about their attitudes to design and consumption and the garments themselves and really can't wait to see what they do next. And it really seems that the sky's the limit with further forays into accessories already in the pipeline.

Thanks to Irish Tatler for the wonderful morning of lovely clothes and people x

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Monday, 28 August 2017

Brunch With Kilkenny And New Irish Design For AW17

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to brunch at Residence with Kilkenny to view their AW17 collections. As I love brunch and have fond childhood memories of Kilkenny, I was pretty excited. When I realised I was sitting with editors from some of my favourite Irish magazines and a blogger I had interacted with before but had never met IRL, I was even more excited. Our table was completed with one of the brand's buyers who explained all about their choices and ideas during the show, which was excellent, giving us a really insight into where Kilkenny is going.

Kilkenny is known for their occasionwear and has been a stalwart provider of outfits for stylish Irish women in a slightly older age bracket. Moving forward, they are aiming to keep these loyal, and discerning, customers happy, while also targeting a younger audience and more day-to-day needs. Two new casual brands Beaumont and 10 Feet (available in Galway and Swords only) have been introduced and while Kilkenny showed picks from Fossil and Guess, they reaffirmed their constant commitment to Irish design with pieces from the likes of Fee G and Caroline Kilkenny.

When it comes to the actual look that Kilkenny are all about this season, there's good news: it;s cute and cosy. Seventies florals and bold colours from hot pink to bottle green to maroon abounded and layering with stylish jackets, casually tossed scarves and light knits was key. For special events, there was a nice sprinkle of some structured, interesting alternatives to the standard dresses that were also shown, such as the maroon belted jumpsuit that everyone was swooning over. With pieces to appeal to all sorts of age groups, styles and lifestyles, there really is something for everyone now. Would I have liked some slightly bolder and more surprising aesthetic choices thrown in there? Sure. But, for now, Kilkenny is striding into the future in a way that I can totally get behind.

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Monday, 21 August 2017

Why you NEED to visit the Voya Seaweed Baths & Spa in Standhill!

A while ago, maybe a year or so, I got invited to a Voya press day at their Seaweed Baths & Spa in Strandhill, Sligo. As it was on a random Wednesday evening and I don't drive, there was no way to the other coast of Ireland and back in a day. I had to miss it, which seriously bummed me out. Strandhill is where the brand was born, as a seaweed bath, long before it was a line of cosmetics, and, as a fan of the brand, I've always wanted to visit.

Seaweed Baths were once a common fixture of Irish seaside towns and, in the early 20th century, there were 9 in the small town of Strandhill in County Sligo alone. However, during the 50s and 60s, these fell out of vogue and, eventually, closed down. Then, in 1996, the Voya (then Celtic) Seaweed Baths was opened under the Walton family, reviving local tradition and combining it with a love for organic treatments. Since then, Voya expanded into production as well as treatments and has grown as a brand with a cult following. Its line of skincare products are stocked in stores and spas all around the globe and the baths are now a popular tourist attraction and spa that attracts 40,000 people to the area each year.

Fresh seaweed is harvested every day to be used at the spa for traditional seaweed baths and this remains one of their most popular treatments. While you can get all sorts of massages and facials and treatments, I really wanted to see what all the fuss about these baths was. I'm a massive fan of the Voya line of products and have always seen a visible difference in my skin when using them. I was curious to see what effect a treatment using pure seaweed would have, given that all of their products use it as a base. Seaweed baths are said to remove toxins from the body and accelerate the healing process and as I'm a clumsy individual with dry skin prone to hormonal breakouts (and I was in the midst of a bad one), that sounded good to me.

My college bestie and I decided to make the trip over to Strandhill but couldn't find a place to stay in the village (between the surf schools and spa, it's a popular spot), so we stayed in nearby Sligo Town. On the Saturday, we cycled the 10km to Strandhill, grabbed brunch on the seafront and then went for our seaweed baths. Let me just tell you, if you're looking to relax, cycling around Sligo, fresh sea air and good food and company is the perfect recipe.

We were already happy and full going into the treatment but when we got to our double room and got into the process of climbing gingerly into our tubs, we got giddy. The seaweed is even slimier than you are imagining, as it is in a small, controlled body of water and getting the temperature right for your own tastes involves a lot of squealing, laughing and dipping toes in and out. However, once we'd gotten into the water and used to the texture (and pretended to be swamp monsters by putting seaweed on our heads), the giddiness eventually dissipated and all that was left was being toasty and cosy.

I will say, however, that if you're like me and cannot stand having a warm head, the process can be a little uncomfortable at times and I wasn't able to completely relax. But, if you're one of those people who can sleep fully underneath covers, you'll be in heaven.

After we got out and got dressed (forgoing showers to let those good seaweed juices to soak into our hair and skin), we both felt soft and happy but it wasn't until days later that I really saw the effects of the bath. I've been having excellent hair days for over a week (despite several days where I couldn't brush it properly due to having given myself a minor head injury) and my skin is glowing. Those breakouts I was bitching about? They are well on the way to being completely healed. And my overall skintone is more even and happy. This may also have something to do with the fact that I bought a Voya moisturiser while I was at the spa and have been using it every day since but, either way, the proof is in the pudding (or smooth skin): seaweed is freaking magical. Seriously. I think I'm sticking with my Voya moisturiser this time because I had missed it - the occupational hazard of being a beauty blogger and testing new shit all the time is limited loyalty to products, I guess, but there is a reason I still think of this guy and mentally cheat on other moisturisers...

Anyhoo...if you find yourself out West and are looking to relax and try out a traditional beauty experience, I can't recommend this highly enough! It's only a pity that spas that offer seaweed baths in Dublin absolutely rip you off (whereas we paid 27 quid each), or I'd do it on the reg.

P.S. Sligo is more gorgeous every time I'm there...

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Note: This post is not sponsored in any way, shape or form and all opinions are my own.


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Thursday, 10 August 2017

Wading Through The Bullshit: Talking Silly Trends, Excellent Tips and Essential Basics With A Skincare Expert

You've probably all heard of "revenge body" before but, as I don't enjoy sweating or being out of breath, that was never going to be an option for me. When I first had my heart broken a few years ago, I decided I'd show everyone with "revenge face" and, in the following months, countless family members, friends and acquaintances noted that I was glowing. This was when my skincare routine was born and I've never looked back. In fact, today, I'm a bit of a skincare fanatic.

Previous to these events, my skincare routine involved washing my face at night (maybe), slapping on some moisturiser (very rarely) and using acne creams (during manic bouts of trying to obtain "perfect skin"). Horrifying as this may seem to me now, I don't think that I was much of an anomaly for a young Irish women. I think many of us on this island, in fact, don't take care of our skin unless we suffer from incredibly bad acne or are starting to worry about aging.

But that's changing. As beauty influencers continue to sweep the internet, the culture of filters and Instagram distorts our view on beauty standards further and skincare becomes trendier and sexier, people are paying more attention. Skincare routines are becoming something less for celebrities, beauty editors and the organised and more something that everyone is adopting in one form or another.

Yay, right?

Well, not so much, as, because of that trendiness, there are infinite opinions, sources and products out there. Beginning is overwhelming and, even if you already have a routine, you're likely to hear about fads, solutions and problems with your skin that you didn't even realise you had!

How to wade through the bullshit then?

This bit is tricky. It can be hard to know who or what to believe as the whole industry has an agenda, I mean it is an industry: the point is to make money.

However, as someone who reads about the industry a lot and gets a lot of press releases, I feel like my bullshit radar is pretty well-honed. When I started getting press releases from Anne McDevitt - a skincare and beauty clinic that has been an Irish industry-leader for decades - I noticed a distinct lack of nonsense between the lines. In fact, I can't put my finger on just why but, for some reason, I felt like this was a company that I could believe. So, I contacted them and finally found a skincare specialist to sit down and answer all of my (and some of your) burning questions.

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Manager Jenny Philpott agreed to chat with me about skincare concerns, basics, cosmetic procedures and where to start with an industry so oversaturated in information and claims to solve all of your woes...

The first thing I wanted to know was if there were any beauty trends that she saw lately which bothered or worried her and she was quick to answer: "Overdoing it on lip-fillers. We have a doctor who has been coming to us for sixteen years now and, from the get-go, he has always been 'less is more'. Suddenly that trend started to creep in of 'more and more and more' but he refuses to do that." That there are less conscientious doctors out there (including the one giving an acquaintance's 17 year-old cousin top-ups on fillers every couple of months), is concerning. While you might be tempted to go all out with cosmetic procedures and should always have the freedom to do as you please with your own body (*ahem**Irish government**ahem*), you should also ensure that your doctor isn't just taking money without putting your well-being first.

Jenny's biggest pet peeve when it comes to skincare is simpler, however: "Not taking off makeup! Or just using makeup wipes. Or, if you want to get technical about it, people who don't take advantage of exfoliating their skin. You can be religious about cleansing, toning and moisturising your skin but if you're not getting those antioxidants on there, you just won't get that 'wow' skin. You need to do all your steps - they're there for a reason!...But the makeup thing is a big one."

When I bemoan my own personal struggle to get others to abandon wipes, she has a simple solution: "Cotton wool. Throw the cleanser on, on the couch, as you're watching television, massage it in and wipe it off with cotton wool. The Ph of wipes is damaging to your skin and leaves it dehydrated, which means you're going to get lines and wrinkles that much more easily. If you're prone to acne, they can make you break out more. Irish skin, as well, is typically sensitive so wipes are really just not for us in any way."

If you're already throwing away the wipes and promising yourself to turn over a new leaf as you read this (I wouldn't blame you after that), you may wonder what a routine should consist of. Well, I'm not going to lie and Jenny wasn't either, there are multiple steps and for a reason. A routine should consist of cleansing, toning, an antioxidant serum, moisturising, eye cream and SPF during the day. If you don't have time for all that, at least get the SPF on. And the factor? "At least a 30! Makeup brands got into the trend of 15 but we're all about the 30 here." But how to top up with sun protection? Because, if you have makeup on or simply don't have a moment to pull out the cream and reapply, that's the awkward thing. "It is an awkward thing. Eminence have an SPF 30 mineral powder that can be reapplied throughout the day to top up your protection," which is pure genius and a really handy solution. Remember that SPF only last ten times its number - for example, SPF 30 is good for 300 minutes - so, be sure to top up somehow through the day!

Speaking of routine essentials, here's a question people always ask me: What even is toner and why is it so important? Can't you just skip it? As I never manage to form a convincing response on the spot, Jenny has a simple explanation: "It is to balance the Ph in the skin after cleansing. However, it also is great for getting rid of residue [dirt, makeup etc] that may be left on the skin and it preps the skin for the next steps of a routine."

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When it comes to more complex routines, we discussed the concept of visiting a skincare clinic regularly. I've always been intrigued by this but, in Ireland at least, it seems the territory of only the wealthy or those with very problematic skin. In other countries, getting regular treatments and facials is somewhat common-place but I think the cost and lack of culture of it here puts people off. I ask if there is a way to do this that might match normal budgets or if you merely have to suck it up and shoulder a heavy cost for such a thing? Jenny was quick to emphasise that at Anne McDevitt they will do their very best to accommodate people. "We'll do treatment plans and do our best for clients. If someone comes in and says, 'I've three months until my wedding, what can I do?' we'll make an ideal-world plan but, if that doesn't work because of budget or something, we'll find a way to work around it. It might be using stronger products at home as a substitute or coming in every three weeks instead of every two weeks. We always customise everything. So, even if you're just coming in for a facial, you'll get a different facial every time."

On the topic of facials, I'm happy to hear that they do extractions because I've, literally, never had a facial in Ireland where they've done extractions. "Pretty much, for everyone's skin, no matter how clear, we'll have to do extractions. A lot of places don't do them as part of facials, or they do them wrong. You need to lift the skin, lift the pores - you don't pierce them or break into them. We open them with ingredients and steam, as an add-on." When I mention that I remember my sister saying she'd never have a facial again after breaking out and how I explained that facials bring stuff to the surface quicker and shouldn't be had before big events, Jenny nods in agreement: "You want a facial to change your skin but it might not change it for the better, at first...but if you get regular treatments, you don't have to go through that downtime as badly because we're maintaining it."

If you do have a breakout (particularly because of pesky hormones), though, what should you do immediately to help? "If you can feel it but can't see it yet, it's going to go one of two ways - it's going to come to a head or it's going to linger as a little red bump. The best thing to do is to get a fruit acid on it like a poultice and pull it out as quick as possible. When you get a head, it's an infection at the surface and it is great if you can extract it out but if you don't do it right, it's going to cause it to spread or to cause damage to the skin. You could also just leave it to heal naturally and just cover it up in the meantime."

Just leaving things is sometimes the way to go and, certainly, some things are best left to experts. "You can go too far with skincare. People come in for glycolic peels - and they can be great - but if you start getting them every week, you can wreck your skin. Home versions terrify me and there's going to be an epidemic, in years to come, of pigmentation and damage done."

Speaking of protection and later issues with your skin, I personally wanted to know about anti-aging, especially after a beauty rep recently scared the crap out of me about it. Jenny assures me that, at 25, I can calm down and should only worry, "really, once you hit your thirties. It's different person to person but that's a general rule." To begin, you should be wearing SPF always throughout your life and this will help slow the aging process "but, once you get to your thirties, you need to start looking at ingredients. Acai berries, for example, are really hydrating and full of antioxidants to help slow down the aging process, not to target it yet. You want to encourage collagen production and keep your elasticity stimulated."

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It was at this point in our conversation that I became aware that some people might still be lost and that we'd just thrown a pile of information at them. Having researched the clinic in advance, I had seen that one of their services was a consultation and Jenny explains that this isn't just for those starting a course of treatments, they can help you design a routine that is right for your and your own concerns. Best of all, she assures me, "We won't just sell everything. We can go through products you already own and tell you what's what. We have a brand and we'll recommend products from it but we won't push products in people." My Spidey senses, it turns out, were right. "We don't lie. If someone comes in for a consultation with bad pigmentation, for example, I'm not going to lie and say I can get rid of it unless I'm a hundred percent convinced I can really make a visible improvement on it."

And if you just were to start doing things at home to help your skin right now? If you can't afford treatments or to greatly update your routine? Firstly, that whole water thing: "Increase of water intake. We used to typically say 2 litres but I read about increasing it to 3-4 and did it myself and it made a big difference!" Other than that? "Spend an extra minute massaging products in," and Jenny's golden tip: "Exfoliation."

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If you're interested in talking to Jenny or any of the specialists at Anne McDevitt, for yourself, just check out their website here. Thanks to Jenny for making time for me!

Note: This post is not sponsored in any way, shape or form and all opinions are my own.


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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Create 2017 At Brown Thomas

Create is an annual showcase of Irish designers and Irish design that takes place in Dublin's leading luxury department store, Brown Thomas. In its seventh year, Create has always presented wonderful designers, both upcoming and established, in a beautiful setting but the display this year is particularly lovely; black and white palm leaf wallpaper, sprawling greenery (how trendy), neon signs (how very trendy) and white looping geometric rails.

Showcasing the work of 22 designers this year across ready-to-wear, accessories, scarves, jewellery, millinery and interiors, the display is curated by Brown Thomas Fashion Director Shelly Corkery and features beloved established Irish designers such as Mariad Whisker, Helen Cody and Úna Burke, as well as newcomers such as the recent NCAD grads Colin Burke and Laoise Carey.

My own personal highlights, however, have to be Domino Whisker's cute and tongue-in-cheek embroidered collars, badges and framed images and the beautifully crisp, modernised tradition of 31 Chapel Lane's linen clothing.

The showcase remains on display on the first floor of the Grafton Street store until the 13th of August 2017 and it is well-worth popping in to check it out.

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Monday, 17 July 2017

Ireland's First Standalone Urban Decay Store and Must-Have Products

A couple weeks ago I was invited to come check out the new Urban Decay store on Grafton Street and to attend a masterclass with MUA Danielle Roberts. As I am a big fan of the brand (and the fact that it is one of the few, readily available cruelty free high-end makeup brands in Ireland), I was delighted to see Ireland's first standalone store and some of the new launches and in-store exclusives.

I was less enthused about being the guinea pig for the demonstration as I'm potentially the most awkward blogger in the country (no official confirmation yet but fingers crossed), but felt it would be rude to decline and it was good to see the products first-hand and on my own face.

First thing's first (I'm the realest), the store is everything I wanted it to be and more. There's a bathroom (that's just handy), there is LOADS of natural light (why is this not a thing in all purveyors of makeup?), it's pretty and there is a second floor that can be reserved for parties and events, which is just genius. I knew they'd do a good job but there are lots of little touches that really make sense and make the place better: eg. the makeup stations downstairs have outlets to charge your phone, there are reflective surfaces everywhere, mirrors have ring lights, etc. It all just makes for a pleasant shopping experience.

On the day in question, we were in the upstairs section of the store and experienced what it's like to have a private function. It kind of is an ideal spot for the likes of a bachelorette party: perfectly located to toddle on to the next venue once made up; compact but well-laid out so everyone could have enough room, but still be able to interact; and a dream destination for makeup lovers.

As I sat in front of my gathered peers and tried to remember my posture, the lovely Danielle took us through an easy-breezy look using some new launches, personal favourites and in-store exclusive. I was heading back to the office after so I was glad to hear she was doing a light, natural look and I really liked a lot of the products that Danielle used. After using the B6 prep spray, she mixed the Naked Skin foundation with Liquid Aura, a new product that is on my must-have list - it's a serious babe. Liquid Aura is a little like the Custom FX Enhancer Drops but a lot more natural, leaving you glowy and dewy and fresh, rather than Tin Man glam. It can be mixed in with your foundation for a glowy finish, added on top to boost the dew or used as a subtle, natural-looking highlight. Basically, if you want to look like you always drink enough water and get enough sleep, this is the product for you.

Next, Danielle went in and boosted the glow a little more with the Naked Illuminated highlight in a new shade called Fireball, a pretty peachy-toned highlight shade from the popular range. Then it was on to lips and Danielle prepped them with Lip Love, the new balm from Urban that she personally swears by and another item for my own shopping list. Another new product was one of the Vice Special Effects lip toppers that was added to a classic red liquid lip to mix it up and make something new. This is part of a line of twelve new products that feature different glitters and shimmers and can be worn alone or used on top of other lip products to create some different, and rather incredible, looks. Finally, to finish, Danielle spritzed my face with the Chill Cooling And Hydrating Makeup Setting Spray, locking everything in place but keeping that dewy, fresh look.

Having seen everything in action, I have to say that the Liquid Aura was my own star product of the day as it suits the kind of makeup I normally like to do (if I bother at all) but I am definitely intrigued by the Special Effects line and would love to play around with them some more. Maybe I'll pop in store some day and do just that. Because we can now, now that we have our very own standalone store in Dublin - yay!

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