Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm | Review

I've tried a lot of cleansers in my time (serious auld one vibes here) and at various times I thought the Eve Lom Balm Cleanser, the Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser, the Pixi Double Cleanse or the Oskia Cleansing Gel were my favourite (they are all winners, in fairness) but for me, the Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm blows them all out of the water. It's been around for years now so this post is fairly late in the general scheme of things but sometimes a product is so good, it's still worth shouting about, years after its first release. 

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm

I tried this initially when I got a mini pot in my Marks & Spencer advent calendar two years ago. I got another one last Christmas. Both pots were used up until there wasn't even a microscopic fragment of balm left and I eventually treated myself to a full size. I say 'treated' because this fella is pricey. I got the 100ml size from Cult Beauty, which set me back £47, or about €53 (I got a deal though, so it's OK!!). 

Let me tell you why it's worth it though. 

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm

  • Firstly you only need the tiniest amount to clean your whole face, so you'll have your 100ml pot for ages.
  • It's super comforting; it's packed with wild sea fennel, rose oil and vitamin E that beautifully cleanse your skin while leaving it soft and radiant. It feels like a treat to use. 
  • The smell lads. I can't. I'm not far off standing up in a circle and saying "Hello, my name is Chloe and I'm an addict. I can't stop inhaling Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm". So there's a few essential oils in there and that's apparently what's causing my olfactory overload. Extracts of jasmine, bergamot, orange and sweet almond oil combine together to give the most heavenly home facial, but every night! It's glorious!
  • It's easy to use; massage onto dry skin, it turns into an oil that breaks down make-up, dirt and all the other crap that's attached to your face throughout the day, then cleans off easily with a warm, damp muslin cloth. You don't even need to do a double cleanse with this fella, but you can if you want to, of course.
  • The brand also suggest using this as a face mask for 10 minutes while you take a relaxing bath, which I hadn't considered doing but am now totally on board with.
And that's your lot. I'm looking forward to using my brand new pot tonight, that's if I can stop myself from eating it all first.
Have you tried Emma Hardie's Cleansing Balm?
If not, why not?!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

The Best of March

Mostly so far this month I've heard a lot of "I can't believe it's April already, where's the year gone?!" and in fairness, it has flown by!
March was a good month. We had our trip away to Galway in the midst of Snowmaggedon, lots more great beauty products tried out and more great food, great books and great podcasts.

Glenlo Abbey & Dinner on the Orient Express (kinda)
We headed off to Galway to celebrate a big anniversary as soon as the roads were drivable during the big snow storm. We try and make a trip to the West once a year as we love it here. Glenlo Abbey is a fantastic hotel; the rooms are beautifully decorated, the staff are helpful and friendly and the food is delicious. Speaking of which, there's a carriage from the original Orient Express on the grounds of the hotel and we had one of our meals here. As Agatha Christie fans, we both loved this!

Clarins Eye Mask & Lip Balm
I've been dealing with undereye bags and very dry lips lately so these couldn't have come at a better time. Review HERE.

Afternoon Tea in The Merrion Hotel
I spent a lovely afternoon here recently with my female in-laws, sipping prosecco and eating dainty sandwiches. Always such a treat.

Cheese & Wine Festival @ Eatyard
Eatyard in Portobello reopened recently and have been running themed festivals at the weekends. I went with friends for the wine and cheese festival, which was excellent. A tenner in gets you €10 worth of tokens (I got myself a full Irish cheese board) and a free glass of wine, although I went back to one of the independent sellers for another glass later. They just did a gin festival, which I missed but I'll be keeping my eyes open for more of the same.

Meeting Louise O'Neill and Marian Keyes (again..I love her) with my book club
Tatler hosts excellent events every so often with authors like the above in conversation with each other. Previously I attended one with Lindy West, which was also brilliant. For your €35 ticket, you get a glass of champagne, nibbles, a goody bag, a chance to meet and chat with the authors and in this case, a signed copy of Louise's new book, Almost Love. I went with some of my book club, and we loved chatting with Marian and Louise (we're all on first name terms now, obviously). A great evening and we read Almost Love for the club this month!

Grief Is The Thing With Feathers
This is the Enda Walsh adapted play, starring the ludicrously talented Cilian Murphy. We managed to get very last minute seats and in spite of not sitting next to each other and me barely being able to breathe with a dose of sinusitis, we enjoyed it in the end! The acting performances were outstanding, as were the set pieces. It's a brilliant play, albeit quite grim and surreal. More of an experience than anything.

The Backlash Against the Result in the Belfast Rape Trial
The only possible good thing that could come out of the absolute horror show that was this very high profile trial was the resulting outcry from women and some men online to the jury's decision of not guilty. I won't go into that further here, but it was somewhat comforting to see so many #IBelieveHer posts on Instagram and Twitter. And I still do believe her. I hope she's recovering with her family and knows how supported she is.

Hush: A Buffy Podcast
I feel like I've mentioned this way too much on my Instagram stories but I started listening to a new Buffy The Vampire Slayer podcast; Hush is created by a married couple living in Ireland. Both are of course big fans of the Buffster (they even named their daughter Willow, which is really cute) and are going through each episode in detail-it's a nice trip down memory lane. I haven't watched the full first series in years so I'm enjoying it.

And those are just some of the highlights form the last month. 
Are any of yours on here?

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Clarins Hydra Essentiel Eye Mask & Lip Balm | First Impressions

As a long-time haver of dry skin, I'm already a big fan of the Clarins Hydra-Essentiel range, in particular their moisturisers. You can only imagine how happy I was to see that they've added an eye mask and a lip balm, two areas I tend to struggle to keep from drying out completely. 

Moisturising Reviving Eye Mask*

There's a discrepancy in opinions on the benefit of eye creams/gels etc but personally I like a nice light under-eye moisturiser, prone as I am to dark circles and generally looking exhausted at all times (I'm not sure any eye cream can help with dark circles thanks to them usually being caused by genetics and/or dehydration. I do like to help out the dry skin from the outside where I can though). This is a cooling, melting cream that feels like a gel. You can use it in two ways; as a mask that you leave on over night (my preference) or for a quick 10 minute boost (you take the cream off afterwards. I think this is a waste so I leave it on, even when I use it in the morning. And yes, I put my make-up on over it but it's a moisturiser so it all works out well for me). I've been using this pretty religiously twice a day for about two weeks now and I'm loving it. I've noticed a definite plumping to my under eye skin and even better, it's noticeably softer. This is a lovely treatment; it's comforting, cooling, moisturising and sinks in almost immediately. 

Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm*

If like me, you find yourself permanently battling dry lips, you need this fella. My ultimate lip balm, Nuxe Reve de Miel usually sits on my bedside table and I wear it as a lip mask every night. I finished my last pot of that sometime last year however so I've been in need of a new, hard working lip balm and this is the one! What sets it apart is the addition of blue lotus wax to nourish and cocoa extract to stimulate the production of hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump the lips. There's also a shot of rosy pink in there for a flattering, natural glow. I've been using this as part of my nighttime skincare routine and occasionally during the day too. It's a really good balm; moisturises, comforts and is non-sticky, non-slippy and almost mattifying, so there's very little chance of your hair getting stuck to your lips. Hurrah! 

Price wise, the eye mask is €33 and the lip balm is €21. I know that sound like a lot, and trust me I balked a bit when I saw the prices first myself but having used them, I cam see why they are the cost they are. They're full of good quality ingredients with all of Clarins' skincare knowledge and innovation packed into each tube. I've noticed a definite change with both and that's often hard to tell with skincare products. Both are available on counter form April the 16th.
Will you be checking these out?

*indicates these products were provided for review. This post was not sponsored or paid for and as always all opinions are my own 

Monday, 26 March 2018

Recently Read: February

Oh, I read some great books last month! You can follow me along on my goal to read 70 books this year, HERE on Goodreads. Let me know if you've read any of these and of course, what you're currently reading yourself!

Still Me by JoJo Moyes
I was one of those people that absolutely loved Me Before You; the story of Louisa Clarke, a young woman who's lost her way a bit and takes a job looking after Will, a former finance manager left paraplegic after a road traffic accident. SPOILER ALERT but they fall in love and Will eventually makes the heartbreaking decision to opt for euthanisation, in spite of the happiness Louisa brought to his life. I raced through it, fell a bit in love with Louisa and Will myself, and cried my eyes out at the end. The sequel to that, Me After You is about Louisa trying to pick up the pieces of her life after this tragedy and it, perhaps understandably, didn't live up to its predecessor. Still Me sees Louisa finally taking the jump Will would have wanted her to- she moves to New York, takes a job working for a wealthy family and tries to find herself again. This was a real return to form for this character- new friends, new romantic prospects, new career opportunities, new adventures with the same great personality she had in the first book. I really enjoyed this, it was nice walking in Louisa's shoes again and the story flowed along so well. I almost hope she doesn't write another one though, it's a good ending to a trilogy.

Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
I love Roxanne Gay's writing. I read Difficult Women last year and decided on the spot that she was now one of my favourite authors- searing, shocking, insightful, beautiful prose that stayed with me for a long time afterwards. Bad Feminist is a collection of essays organised under different headings; Gender and Sexuality, Race and Entertainment, and Politics, Gender and Race. Although it was only written a few years ago, parts of it feel a bit outdated already; mentions of Bill Cosby and not in a "he's a rapist" kind of way, for instance. Having said that, I thought it was really interesting and found myself wanting to keep reading on to the next essay. 

The Dry by Jane Harper
The Dry is a thriller set in the Australian countryside- think depressing, practically empty small-town, rather than community-friendly Home and Away. Aaron Falk is now a federal agent but he has to return home after his childhood friend Luke has been found dead, apparently by his own hands, along with his wife and two children. When they were teenagers, Luke gave Aaron an alibi after their friend was found dead but the townsfolk never believed it and so Aaron finds himself facing a lot of hostility on his return. He refuses to believe that Luke would have hurt his family, however and sets about finding their killer. This was a really good thriller. Yes, I guessed one of the bigger twists but getting to that point was still exciting and I loved the setting of the story- most thrillers out at the minute are set in America or the UK so this was refreshingly different. 

About Face- The Smart Woman's Guide To Beauty: Your Essential Skincare and Make-Up Bible for the Changing face of Beauty by Aisling McDermott and Laura Kennedy
When original Irish beauty blogger and all round ledge Aisling McDermott passed away recently, I felt it would be a fitting tribute to her to read the beauty bible she co-wrote with journalist Laura Kennedy. I took my time flicking through this one, there's separate sections for skincare (and subgroups within that), and then make-up broken down into foundations, eye make up etc etc. I mostly skipped the parts that weren't relevant to me; oily skin, mature skin, teenage skin etc. This is a lovely book for beauty lovers; full of gorgeous product photos and lots of great tips and product suggestions. 

The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown*
Set in Essex, England in 1645, Alice returns to her her childhood home widowed, pregnant and alone with no prospects and forced to live with her stern brother, Matthew. In her time away he's become wealthy and powerful and uses that influence to elevate himself to the position of chief witch hunter. Thanks to a lack of education and a fear and suspicion amongst the townspeople, Matthew becomes all-powerful and can torture and abuse any woman he decides is a witch, with complete immunity. Worse still, knowing how precarious her position is, he forces Alice to help him but she has other ideas and vows to escape his clutches. Can she stop him before he destroys them both and kills more and more women? I really enjoyed this book, it's so atmospheric and although it's disturbing at times, it's so well written, you'll be completely absorbed by it. Plus it's based on real people and real events and I personally find that time in history fascinating, especially after visiting Salem a couple of years ago. Oh and that ending! My jaw dropped! 

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
This was our book club choice this month but I flew through it in February in early nerdy preparation! Set in Nigeria in the 1980's, this was for sure a very different setting than books I've read previously. Yejide and Akin are happily married and have been in love since they met in college. Unlike other couples in their community, Yejide has her own business and a car, even though Akin has a good job in the bank. Also unlike other couples, Yejide is the only wife in their marriage, that is until it is decided by their families that Akin will marry another woman in the hopes that she can provide him with a child, something Yejide has not been able to do so far. This is a devastating blow for Yejide and she goes to desperate measures to keep Akin all to herself. This was a really interesting book and an insightful look into the way things were in Nigeria at that time. It also spoke to me (and my all female book club) about the expectations placed on women and the presumption of what their place in society is. It touched on so many topics; infertility, tradition, chronic illness, motherhood, love and family amongst many others. 

Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates*
This has been billed as one of the bigger thrillers for 2018 and to an extent, it didn't let me down. The book opens with a shocking scene- a young teenage girl tied to a tree, bloodied and broken, two of her male friends nearby, one holding the weapon used to torture her. Twenty something years later, their lives have changed more than they could ever have imagined. The three meet again in New York, with devastating consequences. I think while the book started out incredibly strongly, and I was really intrigued by what their futures would hold, I felt it waned slightly with a lot of talk of food blogging (which I mostly enjoyed...nom!) and the origin of a cement factory, which went on a bit longer than I would have liked. I really appreciated that we got to hear from more than one of the characters in flashback form, telling their version of the story years later and then also the conversations between the characters. It felt like we got a well rounded view of the events depicted in the book. All of those points of view converge later on but it wasn't the dramatic ending I expected. Personally, I had a very different idea of how the book was going; I thought the character of Hannah was doing an Amazing Amy on us at one point and honestly, I was totally there for that! In spite of all of the "read this if you love Gone Girl" book recommendations over the last few years, it really felt well-suited to this book because it had a similar Gilian Flynn vibe. That's probably my own fault for going off on a mental tangent though! Overall, it's slow paced but simmers with tension. I loved Hannah's character and would gladly have read more from her. 

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Susan Ryland is an editor sitting down to read bestselling author Alan Conway's latest manuscript. She's worked with Conway for years and is fond of his reoccurring character, Atticus Pünd, a German detective post-war, finding himself solving murder mysteries in a sleepy English village. Susan states with a certain amount of doom that this book will change her life irrevocably, and then we get to read the book for ourselves, stopping just before the big reveal and bringing us back to the real world, where Susan is. She stops because the last chapter is missing and begins to suspect that the disturbing murder depicted in the book has a link to a real life crime. She then sets about solving the mystery herself. I'm a big Agatha Christie fan, so I really enjoyed the Atticus Pünd book and was actually a bit put out when I didn't get the solution to the mystery when I was expecting it! I also really enjoyed following Susan around on her quest for the truth. In general, this was a really good read; if you like murder mysteries, thrillers and whodunnits then this is for you!

Paper Girls Vol 3 by Brian K. Vaughan
This is obviously the third in this series- a beautifully drawn, super vibrant graphic novel series about four kick-ass teenage girls in 1980's America, battling against giant monsters, time travel and various past and future versions of themselves. It's very cool. 

And that's the lot for now! I'm currently reading some really good thrillers, I'll be back with more reviews soon!

* indicates books that were provided for review. This is not a paid for or sponsored post. All opinions are my own, as always!

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Top Recommended US Drugstore Beauty Products- Reviewed!

I find shopping in Sephora and US Drug stores confusing, if I'm honest. Even when I've prepared myself and made a list of things I want, I always find myself feeling a bit overwhelmed; there's just too much beauty stuff.
The gap between what we can't get here and what you can only get in the states has definitely narrowed, but there's still the few items that most Irish gals will be on the lookout for when beauty shopping in America. The last time we were over (November 2017), I knew exactly what I wanted from Sephora but hadn't thought a huge amount about budget beauty so I found myself scrolling through "the top ten drugstore beauty products you need" articles online in our hotel room one night and sure enough, I made my way to a CVS the next day.
These were all recommended by various magazines, I haven't tried them all yet but they didn't cost the earth so I thought they'd be worth a go! (there was also many more products recommended, that either didn't suit me, wrong hair or skin type etc or else products that I already have/have tried).

E.L.F Hydrating Face Primer
This is part of a series of face primers from the budget beauty brand E.L.F (Eyes. Lips, Face). I have dry skin so this seemed a no-brainer and every online magazine raved about this one in particular. If memory serves me correctly, it cost less than $6. It has no fragrance to speak of but I do notice a slightly chemically scent that does wear off as you wear it. It's clear and looks a bit like Vaseline when you pump it out. I've only used this once because I just didn't love it. It is somewhat softening and provides a base in the same way a silicone-heavy primer would. On me, it felt a bit greasy and unpleasant. I'll give it another go but for the moment, I'm not a big fan. I would save your $6 and put it towards this one instead.

Aveeno Positively Radiant 60 Second In-Shower Facial
This was hailed as a new miracle product and one that I sense will take me a good long time to finish. This idea with this is you pop it on your wet face while you're in the shower, leave it on for 60 seconds and gently massage in a circular motion, then wash off. I like to do this while my conditioner is doing its thing. It has a little bit of grit in there (gentle grit, there's no plastic beads in here) but it's mostly the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that does the exfoliating. I've used this a few times now and have noticed my skin is nicely smooth afterwards and my make-up applies well after using it. I've since found out that Aveeno test on animals so I won't be buying from them again but for now, I'll use this up. It's good.

Almay Healthy Glow Makeup + Gradual Self Tan
This is a medium coverage foundation that supposedly perfects your skin while you wear it; when you take off your make up, you have a natural glow. This has a pump function and two separate chambers that combines the self tan and the make up together when you press down. I got the shade light, which was the lightest there was. There's also an SPF 20 in there, which is good. I've only tried lip products from Almay, which I liked and again, there was great excitement online over this fella. This is a reasonably good colour match for me, if not slightly darker than my own skin tone. It does have that fake tan scent to it, which is never nice but goes fairly fast once it's absorbed. I also quite like the coverage of this; it's buildable but looks natural. So far, I like!

Carmex Daly Care Moisturising Lip Balm 
I love Carmex and didn't need any encouragement to get this three pack of lip balms. I usually use either the tubes or pots of Carmex but I haven't tried the stick version, plus this was only a few dollars. There's a cherry (my fave), strawberry and wintergreen and they all have an spf15.

Covergirl Outlast All-Day Concealer
This is a concealer with a soft-tip applicator, designed to erase the appearance of dark circles and blemishes. It's oil-free and doesn't clog the pores. I got the shade fair. I think this is Covergirl's version of Maybeline's under eye eraser concealer yoke (that I also love and also featured in every top drugstore beauty product article out there). I wouldn't say this is as good as the Maybelline. It's quite a light formula but feels a bit drying. I also don't think it covers my particular dark circles as well as other concealers do. 

CoverGirl Ink It! All-Day Eye Pencil
This is a twist up pencil that glides on like an ink but with the crease and fade-resistance of a kohl pencil. It's also waterproof. I got the shade Charcoal Ink cause I wanted a liquid eyeliner effect. When I opened it I didn't think I'd like it based on how the top of the pencil was packaged but actually, it applies really nicely. I would say; it's not the blackest of the black liners but I can get over that. It's not a super messy liner but you can smudge it if that's your thing (it is mine). Overall, I like!

CoverGirl Ink It! All-Day Eye Pencil

Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Oil
I love Burt's Bees so of course, I had to get this. These are supposed to be moisturising and comforting on the lips while providing a shot of natural looking colour. I wanted a more nude shade but they were all sold out, so I got Crimson Breeze instead. I LOVE this and I need more shades!! I was surprised by how much I like this shade too, I was worried it would be too dark but it's more of a flattering pink plus it feels so lovely on! The only flaw I can see is that it wears of fast but I find that happens with all oil-based lip products. But I like that it's a light gloss and the oil means that it's softening on the lips. So good!

Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Oil. CoverGirl Melting Pout Gel Liquid Lipstick

CoverGirl Melting Pout Gel Liquid Lipstick
Pretty sure these are a rip off of the Too Faced ones but at a fraction of the price. I got this in the shades Don't be Gelly and Evan-Gel-Ical (I can't find that one to take the photo, it's more than likely in the bottom of a bag somewhere). This has a soft tip for application. The formula of these are nice but the quality of the overall shade application varies according to each colour. I like these but having not tried the Too Faced ones, I can't make a proper comparison. 

That's my take on the top recommended drugstore beauty products. Have you tried any of these?