Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Makeup Minimalist's Brush Collection


As I have said many times before, I am a makeup minimalist. I am a makeup hoarder and covet all things high end, but, despite my longing for a full blown set of Zoeva brushes, I am happy to stick to humble collection of 4 brushes. If I am entirely honest, I find my fingers do a splendid job of blending everything from concealer to eyeshadow, although I do find brushes to come in handy every so often. My makeup stash may say otherwise, but I like to keep things very minimal when it comes to covering up my skin.

The four brushes I’m going to talk about today do the job of ‘making me up’ extremely well. I own two eye brushes and two face brushes, of which two are high end and the other half are drugstore. I’m no expert at anything makeup, so am actually clueless when it comes to using brushes for the right things. But, as true as this is, here are the 4 makeup brushes that work brilliantly for my every need, whether I’m using it for it’s purpose or not.

I’ll start with the two drugstore brushes that make up half of my collection. I own two brushes from Real Techniques, a brand created by makeup artist professionals and YouTube personalities Sam and Nic Chapman. Find their personal YouTube channel here, their brand channel here and their website here. My first brush of theirs is the Expert Face Brush. Ready for my very embarrassing reveal? Until recently, I was using this foundation brush as a blush/bronzer brush. I know, terrible! Seeing as I don’t wear foundation or any base at all, I’ll only use this the odd time I put on concealer. But, nevertheless, it is a soft, firm brush that I recommend for base application, be that concealer or foundation ( worked pretty well for blush!)  My second Real Techniques brush is a very recent purchase: the award winning Blush Brush. This works wonders when dusting on bronzer or applying blush delicately. The brush is massive, soft and fluffy, and since it doesn’t pick up a ton of product, it’s impossible to go overboard. I’ve had it less than a week and I’m smitten!

Finally, for my two high end eye brushes. These next two brushes are classic MAC eye brush favourites - or so I’ve heard. After having one of the lovely ladies working in MAC help me out with some eye techniques, I have been recommended these next brushes. For me, as I don’t wear any eyeliner, these two tools fulfil every job perfectly. My first eye brush is the MAC 239 Eye Shader Brush. This is a beautiful brush that picks up so much product and applies it like a dream. It is possible to blend with this, although I wouldn’t say that it’s best quality - but not to worry, that isn’t it’s purpose. However, were I to choose one eye brush to conquer all, it would be my second MAC eye brush; the 217 Blending Brush. This is probably no surprise to most, as this multi purpose brush is fantastic and completes almost every job beautifully. It can pick up lots of product on the flat side and is perfect for blending into the crease. It is soft and simple - a big win for a beginner like me. For a little more on both of these brushes, check out this post here.

So there you have it; my minimalist brush collection that consists of a humble 4 brushes. No, I am not crazy, these 4 tools are all a beginner needs to master the basics. What are your favourite brushes and what do you recommend?

Niamh x
Tuesday, 23 February 2016

10 Favourite YouTubers


Oh, YouTube, what a beautiful creation. I doubt I am the only one who binge watches videos on YouTube religiously...right? There’s just so much to watch, so much to learn, so much to discover! Seeing as I spend so much of my time watching video after video (so much so that I’m scared my eyes might go square soon…), it only felt appropriate to share my favourite YouTubers/YouTube channels at the moment. Because there are so many out there, I am constantly discovering and loving new YouTubers. I love all the vloggers in the list below for many reasons, but you’ll have to find out why when you check out their channels! All the channels are linked to each name, so just click on one to discover one of my YouTube favourites.

But, enough of my ridiculous rambling. Let’s get started!

1. Zoella

These last two are not necessarily YouTubers, but more brand based YouTube channels. Nevertheless, I love to watch the videos of all the YouTuber channels mentioned. (Just a heads up for you Alexa Chung fans: she’s brilliant in her series on British Vogue!) Who are your favourite YouTubers? Let me know so I can check them out!

Niamh x
Sunday, 21 February 2016

Productive, Fun Ways To Spend Free Time


Long time, no see! Hope you’re all doing great. Today’s post is something that I would find very useful myself, because as much as I like to learn new things, I often waste time. I don’t know whether it’s my tendency to procrastinate or I actually don’t have anything to get done, but I often find myself with lots of free time on my hands. I sometimes feel really bored, and as if on autopilot, I will tend to head straight for the TV. Even though I do sit down and turn on the telly, I know I don’t really want to watch crap TV when I could be doing something productive. However, being productive can often have a connotation with work, and by work I mean school work. Never fear! Today I’ll be giving you some ideas as to how to spend your free time productively, but while having fun, too! So, here’s a list of 20 things that you can get up to whenever you have a moment or two to spare. Enjoy!

1. Bake/cook something new

2. Learn a new skill (ie. sewing)

3. Meditate

4. De-clutter a space (ie. bedside table)

5. Learn a language (try Duolingo)

6. Workout (see here)

7. Organize your desk

8. Try a new makeup technique

9. Catch up with a friend

10. Plan a weekend away

11. Pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read

12. Sort old clothes into a charity box

13. Clean out your inbox

14. Write a blog post

15. Journal

16. Go for a walk

17. Plan ahead (organize your upcoming week)

18. Plant some flowers

19. Switch up your room layout

20. Become an expert on something new

I have to admit, although I have done many of these things most are still on my to-do list (ironic, isn’t it?). Before I head off - to hopefully do something productive - I just want to apologise for being absent on the blog recently. But, next week is a new week so I’ll see you soon with some more exciting posts!

How do you like to spend your free time?

Niamh x
Friday, 19 February 2016

The Hand Creams to Nourish Winter Skin


Winter is prime time for dry hands. As I walk to school, I spend the coldest part of the morning outside with bare hands (always forgetting those damn gloves!), so my hand are often cracked and dry by 9:00am and in desperate need of hydrating. On top of that, my nails have been quite soft lately and have been breaking really easily for the past few months, so I’ve had to find a hand cream that suits all my needs. Some people, the lucky ones, don’t look for hydration in a hand cream, but more of a soft, silky to touch finish. I have everyone covered here, though! Here, I have three hand creams that each have their strong point, and am going to give you the rundown of the best uses for each. The three hand creams I’ll be rambling on about are as follows: Dove Derma Spa Goodness Hand Treatment, L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream & Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream. Enjoy!

Best for hydration: L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream

This isn’t a hard decision: it’s the L’Occitane hand cream. This hand cream is meant for dry hands especially, and leaves the skin feeling nourished and hydrated after one quick application. It actually contains 20% shea butter, so it immediately helps rehydrate dry skin. The texture feels so soothing to apply, a thick cream that you really have to work into your hands. However, I find that for at least a few minutes after I apply this generously, my hands seem a bit slippery. It may take a while to sink it properly, but it solves my dry hands problem almost instantly and stays for a very long time (depending on the amount used). It really combats harsh winter weather and makes dry, rough hands as good as new with only one dollop.

Best for ‘protect & repair’: Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream

I find the Clarins hand cream great for repairing and protecting tired, broken skin. It is a much lighter texture than the L’Occitane hand cream and sinks in much faster, although does not have the same hydrating effect. It does hydrate very well, just not as much. The real benefit of this hand cream is its ability to make my skin feel stronger and less worse for wear. It really is a treatment for the hands and nails, acting like a barrier from any tough winter conditions. It also makes my hands incredibly soft without being slippery, as my hands absorb the hydration and protection almost immediately.

Best for soft hands: Dove Derma Spa Goodness Hand Treatment

The hand cream I find best for soft hands is the cheapest of all 3: the Dove hand cream. If I’m entirely honest, this is not a great hydrating hand cream at all. But, saying that, I do find it gives the softest, silkiest finish, and my hands feel so luxurious once applied. The effect don’t last extremely long, but doesn’t go away quickly either. If you have rough, dry hands, this is not one to opt for as it won’t solve those problems. However, this is great if you already have healthy hands, but you’re looking for that luxurious, silky texture.

Overall, my favourite is probably a tie between the L’Occitane and the Clarins hand cream. The Dove hand cream could score higher on my list, but my hands are so worn from winter conditions that it didn’t quite make the cut this time. Maybe come spring…?

What’s your favourite hand cream?

Niamh x
Friday, 12 February 2016

Ultimate Girls Night In Movies


I don’t know about you, but for me Valentine’s Day is the ideal opportunity to get together with some (single) girlfriends and binge watch your favourite chick-flicks. One of my all time favourite Friday night activities is getting comfy with a cuppa and some chocolate (always, always chocolate) and laugh my way through the best of rom-coms. Sometimes, though, I can be a bit stumped as to what to watch. I’ve seen so many that it’s either a case of I want to watch something new but can’t find anything that looks good, or, I can’t decide between these 20 movies in front of me. To make your life a little easier, I thought I’d put together a list of my most recommended girls night in movies. My favourite genre is rom-com, so most of these (if not all) will be along those lines, hence ‘girls night in’. I love a movie that will make me laugh and go ‘ahhhh’ over the dreamy love stories (sounding like the blurb of a wedding movie/musical yet?) In no particular order of favourites...Enjoy!

1. Bridesmaids

2. Mean Girls

3. Ten Things I Hate About You

4. Clueless

5. What To Expect When You’re Expecting

6. Mamma Mia

7. Grease

8. 27 Dresses

9. Sunshine On Leith

10. Bride Wars

11. Bridget Jones’ Diary

12. About Time

13. Life As We Know It

14. Dirty Dancing

15. Footloose

16. The Notebook

17. Pitch Perfect

18. Chalet Girl

19. The Devil Wears Prada

20. Legally Blonde

21. Confessions Of A Shopaholic

22. Definitely, Maybe

Whether these movies make me laugh out loud of go googly eyed over perfect happy endings, I love getting together with friends to watch these. What are your favourite chick flicks?

Niamh x
Thursday, 11 February 2016

Favourite Food Blogs


Like I have said time and time again (see here for proof), I am a healthy eating fanatic. As hard as I find it to resist a piece of chocolate (and trust me, I do), I enjoy eating well, getting creative with classic ingredients like fruit and veg. But, because I’m generally not the most innovative chef, I like to find my inspiration while flicking through cookbooks or scrolling through blogs. Actually, if I'm honest, I never actually cook (unless toast counts), but nevertheless I still love to scroll through endless photos of delicious meals. Even doing this is perfect to motivate me to be as healthy as I can be. Seeing as I have talked about almost too many times, I thought I would share with you all my favourite food blogs I use to gather inspiration (or drool over the amazing photos). In no particular order…

This was one of my first foodie blog discoveries and is one I love to explore when in need of inspiration (not that I'll end up cooking), or even when I’m feeling bored. Ella has everything on this blog and even has two cookbooks out (see here & here). She posts recipes for snacks, salads, desserts; practically anything you’re in the mood for. Brilliant inspiration to motivate you to eat healthy! All her recipes are gluten-dairy free, too.

This is one for the more creative, exciting cook who has time to kill in the kitchen. These recipes are pretty out there, but all incredibly healthy. On their blog you will find every single category of food known to man, there is nothing that won’t suit a certain event or TV-dinner. The authors, sisters Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley, have two cookbooks out (here & here), which are very, very inspirational.

Madeline Shaw creates amazing recipes on her blog and in her books (buy them here & here). Madeline’s philosophy is all about eating food that makes you feel happy both inside and out, using the best, organic produce. This includes making her recipes simple, affordable and delicious, so perfect for any beginner. She even has an app that you can use as well as her recipes.

This is my newest foodie blog discovery. Angela, the author, runs this plant-based, meat and dairy free food blog where she has over 500 healthy, vegan recipes. The pictures are amazing and make me want to drool over my keyboard. Not only that, but she also has a cookbook out, so there is no end to your foodspiration!

There you have it, my 4 favourite foodie blogs for the health fanatics out there. Just remember - never deprive yourself of the oh-so-holy chocolate we need to survive! Where do you find your foodspiration?

Niamh x
Monday, 8 February 2016

Perks of Healthy Eating


I am a huge advocate of a healthy lifestyle; healthy eating, exercise and plenty of sleep. People who are workout fanatics often forget that there is a whole other side to a healthy, balanced lifestyle; the food you eat. This doesn’t mean crazy diets that don’t live up to expectations or have no long-term effects, this means changing your daily food routine. You can cut down on portion size as much as you want, but if you don’t change what you eat, what’s the point?

I consider myself a very healthy person. I stay away from overdoses of anything sugary or abundant in gluten (this is just a personal choice) and like to focus on classic fruit and veg. I always make sure I have a source of protein in each meal, as well as plants (ie. veggies/fruit) and good fats (ie. avocados). On my blog, I try to keep my recipes very healthy (don’t worry - everything will have been tried and tested by myself beforehand and given the thumbs up). To assure you that the grass is definitely greener on my side of the plate (grass doesn’t grow on plates...whatever), here are a few, of the many, perks of healthy eating.

1. You feel amazing. You know that feeling you get when you eat a ton of crap (ie. crisps, chips, chocolate, etc.) and just lie around questioning whatever made you do it in the first place? Yeah, I hate it, too. How do you avoid it? Simple! Don’t eat it. Replace unhealthy snacks with fruit or nuts and feels the benefits of it. You won’t feel like crashing on your bed watching your stomach bloat, you’ll feel like going outside to cartwheel in the grass (OK, exaggeration, but you get the point).

2. It’s creative, fun cooking. If you have ever read a healthy cooking blogs or flick through cookbooks, then you know that healthy eating means way more than just salad after salad. There are no limitations as to what you can make, and in fact, by throwing whatever leftovers you have in the fridge, you could probably make something delicious. (Wait for an upcoming post with my favourite healthy blogs/cookbooks!)

3. Weight-loss. This is not at all the reason I eat the way I do, but I know that this is some people’s motivation. By cutting out the crap in your diet and instead eating food that is kind to your body, you will actually lose quite a bit of weight. Because diets only last a certain amount of time, it’s easy to gain back the weight you lost. However, by changing your eating lifestyle altogether, you feel the long term benefits.

4. It’s delicious. The main thing I’ve learnt since eating healthy is that just because it looks disgusting doesn’t mean it won’t taste delicious. This is a piece of advice to swear by. Recipes can go wrong all the time, and the finished product might just look like a pile of sick, but for all you know it could taste amazing. And, most of the time, it does! You’re feeding yourself the foods that your body will love, so you’re tastebuds will love them, too.

5. Endless inspiration. Like I said, there are so many blogs and cookbooks to explore to gather inspiration for your next experiment. Google is one of the best ways to discover recipes, whether you search ingredients or names of bloggers/cooks. There’s always something new to try because this style of eating has no limitations, and experimental recipes are welcome!

6. Self-esteem booster. In a way, this ties to weight-loss. Once I started eating the way I do, I felt so much better, both inside and out. Inside, because I rarely felt tired or lazy and was always energized and feeling ready to face the day. I felt great outside as well, because I rarely had a bloated stomach and, paired with enough exercise, achieved a body I am proud of. I felt amazing and my body felt amazing.

Do you enjoy eating healthy?

Niamh x
Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Exercising Without The Gym


I have a love-hate relationship with exercise. I love the feeling I get once I’ve done it, but depending on the sport/workout I’m doing, I might just hate it while I’m doing it. As much as that is the case, the worst thing is feeling like a slob because I haven’t done any sport at all. And, let’s be honest, is this not most of the time? I never go to the gym, it feels like such a chore and people can be put off of working out altogether. This isn’t me, but some feel self-conscious working out around those confident athletes with bodies to die for. I say this, but exercising can be fun, you just have to find a way to do it that suits your workout style.
To help you with your fitness motivation, here are a few ways you can work out/exercise however you want.

1. Yoga is a great way to exercise that requires zero fitness. Yoga at home is as simple as setting up your phone propped up in front of you and grabbing some workout clothes. You don’t even need a yoga mat - before I got one my carpet worked a treat. I find this is perfect for reducing stress and working your muscles slowly. The FitStar Yoga app is my go-to as it has different routines specific to what you’re in the mood for. You can push yourself with the positions, but if you’re a beginner this is also a great way to get some muscle stretching in.

2. Running feels amazing. OK, maybe not while I’m doing it, but I feel so proud of myself and renewed once it’s over. Running on a treadmill can be so mind-numbingly boring, so get outside into nature and go for a jog around the park. I actually don’t run with music as it can mess up my rhythm and leave me in stitches (literally - I get a stitch), so I prefer running to the sound of nature’s poetic. Running is a brilliant tailored-to-you way of working out, as only you can choose how fast to go, for what distance and for how long. Start slow, and once you’ve got into a routine, set yourself goals. When I go running, I always use the Nike+ Running app, as it tracks my speed, route and distance.

3. Insanity is a killer workout - emphasis on the killer. I’m sure you can find some videos of workouts on YouTube, but for the most part I think you have to order DVDs. Nevertheless, if you’re planning on going hardcore and getting some serious muscles, this is for you. Stick a workout on in your living room and get going, there’s no one watching you. Sean T, the trainer who created these workouts, does everything for you; choosing the exercises, keeps a timer, he even yells at you! All you need to do is throw on some workout clothes and bring a litre of water with you - you’ll need it.

4. Workout apps are basically gyms on-the-go. Wherever you are, as long as you have your phone with you, you can workout. My favourite workout app is the Nike Training Club. This is an app for all fitness levels and targets any muscle you’d like or some intense cardio action, and it even tracks how many calories you’ve burned. These workouts range from short, around 5+ minutes, to over 40 minutes, so you can find a time that works with your schedule. Whether you’re a complete beginner or workout every day of the week, this app has something to push you to your limits.

5. Blogilates is a great step up from yoga. Blogilates videos, which you can find on YouTube, are short, intense workouts focused on a specific area, like abs, legs, arms or bum. 15 minutes is plenty of time to work any muscle if you put in the effort. The trainer, Cassey, can sometimes get on my nerves a little with her everlasting enthusiasm, but she’s great at designing workouts that fit into any schedule you might have. Just like with yoga, all you need is some workout clothes and if you like, a yoga mat. When I do these workouts, I’ll do a few consecutive short workouts that really hit the spot. Feel the burn!

What are your favourite ways to exercise?

Niamh x
Tuesday, 2 February 2016

4 Favourite Mascaras


I believe that of all the makeup I own, mascara definitely makes the biggest impact when applied. Whether I’m wearing minimal makeup or dolling up for a night out, mascara is always a staple in my routine. I haven’t exactly tried many, but of those that I have tried, I have been very impressed. Since mascara is an obvious part of almost everyone’s makeup routine, I thought I’d pull together my favourite ones together and tell you all a little bit about each one. Trust me, these mascaras deliver big-time!

Benefit Cosmetics Roller Lash: I saw this mascara in many of the 2015 best of beauty posts coming into the new year, and I have to agree, this is a fantastic mascara. The website claims that the brush grabs, separates, lifts and curls each individual lash, holding them for 12 hours. Apparently, according to Benefit, there is no need for a lash curler and the formula contains ‘lash-conditioning benefits’. Bold claims, right? I thought so, too. But, according to the reviews and the panel it was tested on, this mascara held its own pretty damn well. When I got this in September of last year, I too was smitten. This mascara doesn’t clump, so leaves the lashes beautiful and fluttery, and the rumors are true; it does curl them magnificently. The formula isn’t too thick and dries relatively quickly. My lashes are naturally long and slightly curled, so I only use this if I need a high-impact mascara for a night out, but trust me, it delivers (see here for more)!

MAC Mineralize Multi-Effect Lash: I have talked about this mascara quite a few times before (see here & here), and like I’ve said a number of times, I love it! It has quite a basic looking brush but I think the results are great. This leaves my lashes separated and natural look, although still plumping them, adding volume and length. I only really like mascaras that have a fluttery finish, and this definitely ticks that box. It isn’t as wow as the Roller Lash (in fact, it isn’t even on the Roller Lash’s level yet), but I think the formula is good and the finish is lovely, perfect for an au naturel day.

The Body Shop Super Volume Mascara: OK, OK...I have to admit, the actual finish of this mascara doesn’t quite live up to it’s name. It gives volume, just maybe not super volume. But, in it’s defense, I find this is a perfect every-day mascara for someone with naturally curled, long lashes and who doesn’t want an over the top look. Again, this mascara gives a fluttery, separated finish, but there is actually very little curl (but it doesn’t claim it should). For me, this is perfect, in fact exactly what I reach for most days when I want toned down but defined lashes, but probably not a fan amongst those with stubborn, straight lashes. Am I being harsh? I still love it. It doesn’t clump at all and gives a decent amount of volume, so scores high in my mascara criteria.

Benefit Cosmetics They’re Real! Lengthening Mascara: I doubt I am alone when I say this is a top-notch (did I just say top-notch?) mascara. It must be; it’s even won awards, and multiple at that. Again, Benefit have made some pretty bold claims, that this ‘lengthens, curls, lifts and separates’ and it won’t ‘smudge or dry out’. But, just like with the Roller Lash, these were proved correct, with the panel statistics coming out amazing. My take on this was pretty much the same as the Roller Lash. This does a fantastic job at lifting and lengthening the lashes - especially lengthening - and in my experience does not smudge. This doesn’t cling to each individual lash like the Roller Lash does, therefore not giving the same fluttery effect, but it does separate them nicely. Sometimes a few lashes clump together, but nevertheless the effect is still fantastic and defining. Overall, this is a massive winner in my books.

What are your favourite mascaras?

Niamh x
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