Wednesday, 27 April 2016

REVIEW: Viviscal - Gorgeous Growth Densifiying Range

As much as I am a beauty-lover, I am also a skeptic. I make annoyed sounds when skincare products claim to reduce the size of pores (they can't, nothing can, they can only reduce the appearance of the size), I have a flat-out rule that I won't review skincare unless I have tested it for at least two months and juice cleanses and "beauty teas" make me angry. I don't like people being duped out of money, I hate when it happens to me and I abhor the idea of it happening to any of my readers so I take reviews seriously and I always test things thoroughly.

Sometimes, however, products really do provide the miraculous results that they claim to offer. Viviscal is one such brand for me. 

Of course, I am always going on my own personal experiences and others may have an entirely different encounter with a product but I can honestly say that Viviscal changed my hair forever. In fact, the clearest indication of this is the fact that after I took a 6 month course of the Viviscal supplements and hair growth serum, I happened to start going back to the hairdresser in my hometown where I had had my hair cut for years and they noticed that I had gone from having rather fine hair to healthy, thick hair. It really was transformed.

So, when I found out they were launching some new products, I had to pop along! These new items - shampoo (RRP €11.95),  conditioner (RRP €11.95), elixir (RRP €24.95) and repackaged (and easier applied) volumising hair fibers (RRP €24.95) - are a new "densifying" range and the perfect accompaniment to the supplements. The idea being that the supplements strengthen your hair from the inside and the haircare products from the outside. And while the supplements are fantastic, you really need to wait around three months before there is a noticeable difference, whereas, the haircare products are said to make a difference within a week.

As I was between haircuts and in dire need of freshening up when I began using the haircare products, I did notice that it gave a bit of volume and oomph back to my rather lifeless hair. I love how they all smell - kind of spicy but in a good way - and my hair is incredibly silky and well-behaved. I haven't had to deal with fly-aways or frizz since I began using them. And, since I finally got my hair cut, the combination of the fresh style and the products is seriously slick. I need to do very little other than wash and dry my hair, popping in a little of the elixir before I dry it, to have a really good hair day.

If I were to recommend just one product from this new line, I'd have to pick out the elixir, it really is the star of the show. It's small and portable but a little goes a long way. Just a couple pumps onto the hands and run through the lengths and on top of my head (where flyaway action happens normally) before I dry it and I'm good to go with perfectly shiny, smooth hair the next day.

The best endorsement for the brand, however, has to be the fact that Debbie Harry (of Blondie) is a big fan. If a woman who has been iconically bleaching her hair for four decades backs haircare, you gotta listen!

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(These items were given to me as press samples, however, I was not paid for this reivew and all opinions are my own)


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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

REVIEW: Sing Street

Most of us were hugely affected by music as teenagers and it is a depressing fact that psychologically and physically, it never shakes us the same way again.

We find our identities, our people through music. It helps us survive tragedy, heartbreak, struggles, anger and celebrate the joys, big and small. Particular songs or bands have the power to immediately transport us to another place and version of ourselves in a way that nothing else does.

The Ramones - I'm fifteen and rollerblading around my house as they blare from the speakers of Mammy's car. For three months. Just the Ramones.

Placebo - I'm in a car with my siblings and mother as we wile away lazy summer days, sun dazzling me through the windscreen and wind moving past me, back into the hot car. We're all singing along as it is the only band I like that they don't despise and I'm a pretentious seventeen year-old making everyone listen to my music constantly.

Even today, I am rarely not listening to music whether I'm walking, working, sleeping, eating - it's always there. My closest group of friends were formed through a music society I ran in university.

But, as a teenager, music made me feel connected to something bigger, like I wasn't so strange, even if I didn't feel like I fit in in the small town I lived in. The ridicule and torment I received from peers rolled off my back more readily because they simply "didn't get it". I put safety pins through my ears and wore heavy combat boots with my uniform, in defiance of the fact I was told I couldn't wear them (but my boyfriend of the time was allowed to wear his...). It solidified my independent spirit, emboldened my feminist tendencies and, in a lot of ways, made me who I am today. Yes, I was pretentious, blissfully clueless to real life and quite judgemental but foetus-Colette was an okay kid, she just had a lot yet to learn.

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Sing Street captures that period in your life so magically and perfectly; the innocence being infringed upon by adulthood, the earnestness, the endless possibilities, the dizziness (and cringeyness) of first love and the power of music. It shows how universal these experiences are as though it is set in the 80s - decades before I was a teen - I had my heart in my throat for the whole film. It all felt so viscerally familiar. It is a heady, joyous film that celebrates the music, city and decade, as well as that period in our lives, but doesn't flinch away from the less sunny patches.

The movie tells the tale of Conor, who is transferred from a fancy fee-paying school to a rougher school run by the Christian Brothers, his difficulty in fitting in and the struggles of his family - their finances, his parents' marital problems, his elder brother's stagnated pause after dropping out of college. It is in the midst of all this that he meets a girl, Raphina, and tells her he's in a band...a band which he promptly has to set up in order to impress her. At its heart, it is a very simple story we've heard countless times in countless ways but its indescribable skill in capturing this period of time, of a person's life and all the feelings that go along with it, is exceptional. There is a wonderful balance of both the ludicrousness, joy and simplicity and of the pain and difficulties of this moment in time. You cringe when you recognise things you said and did and wore and thought, you remember the sad realisations about life and difficult decisions, that appeared as if from nowhere, as well as the giddy freedom, simple joys and feckless, free-wheeling way you went about loving and living.

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The cast is made up of Irish heavy-weights and spectacular newcomers alike; from Aiden Gillen and Maria Doyle Kennedy as Conor's struggling parents and increasingly rising star Jack Reynor, to the brilliant and impressive emotional depth of (actually teenaged) Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and (at least believably teenaged) Lucy Boynton as the young lovers. The members of the band, meanwhile, do an excellent job as an amiably boisterous and humorous supporting cast.

Visually, the film captures the colours and tone of Dublin and the eighties well but presents them in an Instagram-like edit that makes them at once real but curated to appear, perhaps, more glamourous than either could claim to be. Basically, my lovely Dublin looks well. And, I think, for Irish people, there is always a thrill in seeing Ireland on the big screen in a way we are used to being presented America, the UK and further off, more exotic places. There's something a little magic and surreal about streets you walk past every day playing host to carefully choreographed scenes.

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Costume plays a big part both visually and plot-wise in the movie as the teenagers take on the guise of various genres, bands and trends in an attempt to find their sound and themselves. It works perfectly as comic relief throughout the movie as we are presented with 80s trends that seem ridiculous to us but, meaningfully, just seem new and cool to the kids of the tale. The unerring belief in something - that you later cringe and laugh at - being cool is a highly relatable phenomenon of your teens and no other decade is so readily and perfectly set up to be lampooned for this.

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Similarly, the music of the movie shows this exploration and discovery that is so formative in our teens. For the viewer, we are presented with a wonderful patchwork of the best the decade had to offer sonically and the band presents catchy, and sometimes utterly beautiful, tracks inspired by the chart-toppers of the time. In fact, the original songs, though a little silly on the surface at times, are actually really rather good - enough to have me still listening to them a few weeks later. And, of course, I appreciate that personal favourites of my own teens are in there as well - The Cure, The Clash, The Jam and A-HA among them.

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While I found some aspects of the tale dubious and worrying as an adult, I have not been so thoroughly charmed and taken in by a movie in a rather long time. This is one I can see myself rewatching periodically and reminiscing about the ups and downs of my own teens. I highly recommend it to anyone who adores music, Dublin or sweet movies that aren't overly challenging.




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Sunday, 17 April 2016

Little Gem: Launch of 2nd Space

Om Diva is one of Dublin's fashion institutions. It was always foremost on the list of places to go when Dublin was a place I only visited on summer days or weekends with friends. When it moved outside George's Arcade to its slightly larger location and added the wonderful Atelier 27 to the upstairs, mixing Irish design with its vintage offerings, it only bolstered its position as a Dublin store that was doing cooler, fresher, more innovative things. Then, before Christmas, their newest venture was announced: 2nd Space.

Located around the corner on Upper Stephen's Street, the store was established by Om Diva founder Ruth Ni Loinsigh to sell the same eclectic mix of cute accessories and vintage garments that the brand found its success in and to promote the talent of undergraduate designers in Ireland. This is a unique concept and platform for up-and-coming designers and, if the stock I spotted at the launch during the week is anything to go by, they are more than ready for the challenge. These designers will also benefit from mentoring and support from established industry leaders and get the platform to sell their designs and the exposure the store can offer. Furthermore, the space will also be used to host events and talks from said leaders. This symbiotic relationship between the young designers and the established seems like an interesting way to foster creativity and support the increasingly bright future of design in our beautiful little isle.

Two particular designers whose work caught my eye and I might recommend checking out are Jack Roche, who offers a SS16 collection that seems utilitarian or normcore-ish at first but is more complex, pretty and rich than that, and Isbel Gray, who offers cute accessories that are just the right amount of sassy and rough-and-ready.

Between floaty vintage nighties, adorable kitschy earrings, prim and proper bags and exciting and bold youthful design ventures, there is a lot to see in this small but lovingly curated and arranged space. If you're a fan of the Om Diva brand or Irish design or are simply looking for something other than the high street that is still affordable, check 2nd Space out.

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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

REVIEW: Artistry Exact Fit Longwearing Foundation SPF15

When a press release for a foundation has words like "flawless" and "natural" together, I'm always intrigued. Artistry is a brand that I had only heard of last year but their skincare blew me away - I've never been so into a toner before in my life - and the packaging makes it immediately apparent that the brand actively targets an Asian market, which is bound to make me curious as Japan and South Korea, in particular, are a discerning lot when it comes to cosmetics. I was keen to see if their make-up lived up to their skincare.

The Artistry Exact Fit Longwearing Foundation (RRP €48.95) is a mattifying, medium coverage with SPF15 that claims to offer 24 hour coverage (not that anyone would ever want/need such a thing), to mimic the appearance of skin perfectly and to contain ingredients that "are time-and-climate controlled to constantly know their place, and stay there, even in high temperatures or humidity".

I definitely can back the claim that it is long-lasting and wears well. It isn't perfect after a few hours on the skin but fades gracefully so that you don't have to worry about it or go in with touch-ups.

It is also true that the finish is very natural and skin-like. While it was slightly heavier coverage than I normally choose, I loved how it looked on the skin - and I am very discerning about the look and texture of applied foundation.

However, I would add a small caveat to save you time and effort, should you be interested in trying this one out for yourself: there is something odd about the formulation. Not necessarily bad, per se, but it doesn't take to being messed with or manipulated. I normally mix foundations with moisturiser or the Urban Decay B6 prep spray but the Exact Fit Foundation separates and applies poorly if you try this.

It is best applied on a moisturised and prepped face, over a silicon-based primer and in small dabs all over the face, which can then be blended out. If you apply a larger quantity to the centre of your face and go in to blend it outwards, it won't spread well and stay largely on the area it began. This will cause the foundation to look thick and unnatural. If you take my advice and apply small amounts of a single pump all over the face and then blend out with your hands, the result will be silky, flawless and really, really pretty.

Additionally, everything about this foundation looks and feels very luxe. It reminds me a little bit of something Armani would produce but at a lower price bracket. The bottle itself is really pretty and would look damn classy on a night stand but is also practical in that it has a pump dispenser (wayyy more hygienic) and the pump can be locked and cap snapped into place to prevent unfortunate disasters in a make-up bag/handbag/suitcase.

If you are looking for a really natural-looking foundation with decent coverage that is feels more premium than it costs, this might be one to try out!

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Barely visible on the skin (Admittedly, this is truer for the smooth, perfect skin of the back of my hand. Over blemishes and dry patches on my face, it is less utterly flawless)

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On my actual face you can see that some blemishes on my chin (damn hormones) show through a little but the overall result is pretty, natural and smoothes out the skin tone.

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(This item has been sent to me as a press sample but I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.)

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Saturday, 9 April 2016

COS AW16

I spent my lunch on Tuesday hanging out with the wonderful teams from COS and Baluba for the COS AW16 press day. Not only was the setting gorgeous (a dream home on Camden Street over three floors with big windows, a large terrace and perfect kitchen, which had just been renovated) and the food from Cocu Kitchen nutritious and delicious, the collection was one of the best I've seen from them in a while.

This isn't a collection that immediately wows but, rather, is slow-burning, leaving a deeper and longer lasting impression. The rich shades - navy, intense blue, ochre, burgundy, forest green - though common for AW are deeper incarnations that remind of the colours espoused in the Victorian era and perfectly evoke one of the two main trends that run throughout; Everyday Decadence and Rethought Functionality.

Everyday Decadence is expressed through classic forms, which are reworked and reimagined, - a white shirt with many guises, an a-symmetric blazer, half-draped - which combine textures and fabrics for a richer result - unexpected, happy collisions of silk bonded with wool, sheer panels and crisp pleated tailoring - and which sport exaggerated silhouettes - high turtlenecks, extra-long sleeves, a-symmetry, volume, oversizing. Rethought Functionality sees straps, seatbelts and zips reappropriated and used to make it possible to wear garments in multiple ways; layering; durable pieces and, yet, with a slick overall look.

For menswear, there are decadent and layered looks that combine utilitarian and sporty elements; rich colour, textures and prints and updated and pared back classic tailoring. The rich tones of the womenswear are carried over but you also get oatmeal shades and lilacs - softer, prettier notes.

The two wardrobes are mixed and blurred; masculine tailoring is made sensual for womenswear while menswear is made sensuous and given slightly more feminine notes.

Throughout, there are plenty of durable and investment pieces; suits, coats, blazers etc. - cool twists on items that will never be outdated and which are built to last.

In fact, the idea of lasting and sustainability is and underlining theme. Recycled elements are used (such as the seatbelts), garments are made to withstand the years, right down to the press information, which is no longer printed and all put on a USB stick instead.

Personal favourites from the day have to be the accessories, - mittens that look like mini parkas for your hands, detached turtleneck chokers - the silk and wool co-ord with sheer panels, the trouser jumpsuit that looks like a pair of men's trouser extending from chest to toe, the draped forest green suit and the menswear Donegal Tweed coat.

If you're looking for some clothes for life that majorly pay their way or pieces that are elegant without shouting about it, COS AW16 has got you covered.

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(All images my own except the lookbook images which are used courtesy of COS)

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