Synthetic VS Natural: Which To Use?

Synthetic VS Natural: Which To Use?

Since I started learning about SFX make-up, I only ever looked at the products and skincare. However, I’ve neglected something really important – brushes. For any make-up look, whether it’s beauty or costume, how your make-up looks and stays depends on not only your products but your brushes too.

Before I read up on it, I didn’t have a clue about brushes. I used what I thought were the best ones – I judged brushes on shape, how many bristles they have, that kind of thing. I knew the type of bristles mattered, whether they were real or synthetic hair, but never knew which were better for what products.

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I’ll start off with real hair brushes first and their benefits. These type of brushes are best for powder make-up, such as eyeshadows, bronzers and everything in between. They are great for powder because they are loaded with texture and so hold the product better. Natural hair bristles move freely which help pick up a lot of product in one swipe but it will also blend beautifully. The brush hair is extremely durable and actually get better the more you use them.

However, I believe we should all buy cruelty-free make-up brushes. If you’re shopping online or in store, be sure to check what the brushes are made of and why they are produced. Most real hair bristles are from certified animal farms where animals are shaved or trimmed, like how sheep are for cosy jumpers. But there are some brands who don’t offer as much love and care towards animals, so watch out. For instance, it’s illegal in the European Union to test on animal so you can trust that products produced within the EU are cruelty-free. I love my natural make-up brushes from Zoeva – but you need to read up on any natural brushes to truly buy cruelty free.

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Moving on to synthetic brushes, you can trust most are cruelty-free and the majority are vegan friendly. Unlike natural brushes, synthetic make-up brushes don’t have a cuticle which makes them great for liquid or cream products. I would use these for cream contours, liquid foundation, gel liners and other similar products. Synthetic products tend to gravitate towards each other, making them best for precision applications – so for the perfect winged liner, go synthetic.

For manmade bristles, I particularly love Eco Tools and Inglot brushes but I’m also a huge fan of Joanne Larby’s Fairy Wands – they’re so easy to use, clean and an Irish brand. I also have to give a mention towards Too Faced’s make-up brushes which are synthetic and terribly adorable.

Honestly, I love using synthetic brushes, even for eyeshadow. They’re safe to use and with the advancements in make-up, many synthetic brushes are on par with natural bristles. I love Eco Tools‘ eye brushes because, even though they are synthetic, they pick up product really well and blend really well.

Worth The Fuss? Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser

Worth The Fuss? Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser

I’m a sucker for being influenced – YouTubers, bloggers, Snapchat stars, you name it. However, there are so many people that I don’t believe, who are pushing products to make themselves a bit of cash. When I saw one of the Geordie Shore stars talking about Bondi Sands’ new Self Tan Eraser, I thought “Jog on, that’s a gimmick.” But then I saw a YouTuber who I follow and trust talk about it, which of course changed my mind. I hadn’t seen anyone use it yet, so I picked up a bottle of the Self Tan Eraser from Boots for €19.49 and hoped I wasn’t wasting money on something that didn’t work.

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I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that it actually WORKED. I couldn’t believe it, I had tried everything under the sun to remove tan – exfoliators, lemon juice, oil, you name it I’ve tried it. Most of my home tricks did remove a slight bit of tan, but Bondi Sands Self Tan Eraser removed 99% of my tan.

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Before

My Bellamianta tan was about five days old. Fortunately with Bellamianta, you don’t have to worry about it fading in patches. But me being the cleanliness freak that I am, the tan had completely come off my hands leaving them their natural shade of shocking white. Luckily this was a good guide to go by for how well the Tan Eraser worked.

The application and removal was so easy. I just shook the bottle up, pumped out generous amounts of foam into my hand and rubbed it all over my old tan. It was quite tacky on my sign while I waited for it to dry. But after a ten minutes (they say you only needed to wait five but I don’t take chances) I jumped into the shower. With a face cloth, I rubbed off the eraser and with it came off my tan. Seriously – it just went. Gone. POOF.

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After

It had all completely come off and my freckles are now more visible than they have been in years. I was not expecting this to work and to work so well. I had some really stubborn tan on my elbows that came off with ease. They say for those kind of patches to use their exfoliator but all I did was just give them a good rub with the cloth.

So is it worth the fuss? Definitely!

Token: Dublin’s First Barcade

Token: Dublin’s First Barcade

In Dublin, we are lucky to have so many different bars, clubs and restaurants to keep us entertained. One of my favourite spots in the city is P Macs which has an amazing selection of board games to keep me and my pals entertained. However, I adore playing video games – my sister knows how competitive I can be at Mario Kart. So when I heard that Dublin was getting it’s first arcade bar, or barcade as they’re known, I had to find out more.

I sat down with Token’s Senior Community Development Officer Brandon a few weeks ago to find out more for Dublin City FM’s Good Morning Dublin (listen back here.) My co-host Megan and I both agreed that it sounded like the ultimate date spot and were excited to check it out. So when Brandon messaged me to invite me to be one of the first people to check it out, I couldn’t say no.

Token is just a stone’s throw away from the Smithfield LUAS stop on Queen Street. And don’t worry, you won’t miss it. The outside is sleek and elegant but the lit up sign saying TOKEN is hard to miss. It fits in perfectly with a few of the older pubs around the area because of it’s simple look but it certainly stands out.

When you first enter Token you’re greeted by Big George, and he’s a bit of a dude. He’s got a beaming smile but like his name suggests, he’s BIG – I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side. For every person that comes to Token, you’re given a small silver Token to pop into their ball machine. There are five different colour balls and each has a reward – from a free drink, another go at the machine and one ball even gives you a free meal, free game token AND a free drink. I think that’s such a nice touch – instantly you’re playing a game and you don’t even realise it!

Of course, as you would in a bar, the first thing to do was grab a drink. The prices for pints is fantastic. Pints of Guinness and Heineken are just a fiver and Orchard Thieves a tasty €6. You can also taste some gorgeous craft beers served on tap but also in bottles and cans. There is something for everyone’s taste. When I first checked it out, there was no cocktail bar open yet, but as I’m a sucker for a gin and tonic you can bet I’ll be the first one there when it does open.

I was lucky enough to bring a plus one on the night, and thank God I did. I was mostly excited to try the food at Token, and with my friend Andy in tow, we tried as much food as we possibly could. First off, the names are gas – Basic Bitch, Side Chick, Haute Damn, Quick Juan, you need to just check it out for yourselves. We tackled the Side Chick chicken burger, the Chihuahua hot dog, the short rib fries AND fries with herb aioli. And let me just say one thing – you DON’T need that much food, our eyes were bigger than out stomach.

With every burger and hot dog, you are served two mini versions along with a handful of chips. I’m a big eater, I could easily win a hot dog eating contest, bu I couldn’t finish my food they were so generous. The hot dog was wonderfully spicy and loaded with pulled pork chilli, as was the short rib fries. Delicious! However, the clear winner has to be the Side Chick burgers – they were so succulent with just a hint of spice and the veg was delightfully fresh. I was so full that I wasn’t able try their dessert. It made me kind of sad because the churros looked (and smelt) divine! Fortunately, I’m heading back later this month and you can bet I’ll be devouring all the churros they have.

But it was a good thing we were so full of food because when we finally waddled over to the games, we went hardcore. What I loved the most was that each section was dedicated to certain games – Mario Kart had its own wall, the retro games were bundled together in front of the main bar, the fight games were in an ACTUAL wrestling ring and the pin ball machines were downstairs where conveniently there was a second bar (though it was still being built when I was there.) But the best touch? There were DRINK holders and tables beside every game. Another nice touch was that there were hand sanitizers dotted around the place.

Speaking of games, I have to talk about the tokens themselves. In the middle of the ground floor you can rock up and buy your tokens – and each token purchase comes with an adorable canvas bag! Just look how cute they are? And the tokens, oh lads, the tokens at Token. The front have the bar’s logo but the back has a picture of J.R.R. Tolkien – Token, Tolkien, I think that’s pretty funny.

It’s these little touches that I love the most when I visit places and Token is full of them. In some of the long tables, you can see action figures in one with comics in another. At the bar, a huge sign below the taps has the most suitable quote from Zelda and there’s a little scrap robot on one of the bar shelves looking down on us – like a little tin ninja. There are far more little details that I loved but I encourage you to go and see what you can find yourself.

And last but not least, the staff. I use the term “dude” a lot to describe people that I think are chill and lovely, but the Token staff are the dudiest of dudes. They’re all so helpful and smiley, they checked up on their customers and made sure everything was going smoothly. Some were throwing coasters under pints left, right and centre, which I, as someone who worked in a bar before, really appreciates.

If you haven’t checked out Token yet, I seriously recommend you do. Dublin is such a diverse and exciting city that it’s hard to find something that really stands out – but Token is exactly that. Token is a bar that is a great spot for a first date, a cool hang out joint for you and friends or even a place you can kill time in. But be sure to book in because this places is going to be jammers all summer long.

I nicked all the photos from Token’s Facebook page, which were shot by the talented Hazel Coonagh – check out her website here.

Why You Need Vitamin A In Your Skincare Routine

Why You Need Vitamin A In Your Skincare Routine

I’m pretty skin obsessed. I strive to have smooth, spot-free skin but that’s not always the case. Now more than ever, even more than when I was a teen, spots keep cropping up on my skin. I’ve also noticed something that’s I though only happened to older people, not me, a young spring chicken at 24 – wrinkles. While no one else can really see my little creases, I can see them and I can see them growing. It’s tough to get totally rid of wrinkles without the help of a doctor and a needle, but it’s not that hard to prevent any severe lines showing up with the help of retinol, or vitamin A.

Retinol when broken down into retinoic acid can communicate with your skin cells and tell a skin cell how to behave and look. It can make your skin appear more normal, healthier and younger – something which I’m striving to hold on to!

When using retinol in your skincare routine, you can expect a lot of results from it. It can help a variety of skin issues including wrinkles, loss of firmness and signs of ageing to uneven skin tone and other signs of sun damage. It also helps to promote the skin’s natural moisturising factor, giving you a radiant glow – you might even get ID’d with your revitalised youthful radiance.

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There are a host of products you can use which contain retinol – and don’t worry, they won’t break the bank. At the moment I’m using This Works’ No Wrinkles Night Repair Serum. I’m using a night serum because even though you can use retinol products during the day (despite the myth that you shouldn’t) retinol does breakdown in sunlight and is so less effective. It’s advised by various skincare professionals to use products with retinol in them at night.

If you’re interested in adding retinol to your nighttime routine, there is one other ingredient that we’re told not use with it – glycolic acid. The mixture of the two can cause irritation and redness in the skin, making it tender to touch. In fact, they say you shouldn’t use any alpha hydroxy acids with retinol. Why? Ranella Hirsch, a dermatologist in Boston, said to Allure Magazine in 2014, “This duo is a recipe for redness and irritation.” However, it’s not easy to find retinol products without alpha hydroxy acids. So if you do happen to have a product with retinol and glycolic acid, you can take an anti-inflammatory, like ibuprofen, to help calm the skin and smoothing on hydrocortisone cream, like HC45.

My Favourite SFX Make-Up Tool

My Favourite SFX Make-Up Tool

When creating any sort of look, whether it’s for cosplay or for a night on the town, it’s vital you have the right tools. However, the tools you need for a creative look compared to your standard beauty look are very different. While it’s important to have an almost endless supply of brushes to perfect that smokey eye, you want to avoid using brushes when using liquid latex – you will ruin your brushes no matter how much isopropyl myristrate you use.

For my creative looks, I use a host of random tools – sponges, cotton buds, cotton balls, toothpicks, spatulas, spoons and almost anything that’s just in sight. But there is one tool I constantly use, my steel make-up palette.

I mix a lot of colours together and have started mixing liquid latex with colour as well to enhance looks. So instead of ruining my plates or spending cash on paper cups, a steel make-up palette is essential. Like I said, you can mix different materials together but you can also squeeze out different products out so that you don’t end up with twenty different colours on the back of your hand. I even use my palette for my beauty looks – eyelash glue, mixing foundation, glitter mixes and more. It’s so handy.

The palette I use I bought off Amazon for cheap as chips, just under £5 (about €6). It came with a double-ended spatula as well, which is another tool I can’t live without. It’s the best way to mix together liquid products without wasting any!

So if you’re loving SFX make-up or are a beauty fanatic that’s looking for a new tool, a steel make-up palette is very handy to have.

Quality Over Quantity: How To Shop

Quality Over Quantity: How To Shop

One of my favourite pick-me-ups is buying myself a little treat – if it’s a candle from Dunnes Stores or a new Lipstick from MAC, that something new brightens my day and my mood. However, there are some things that you really need to consider before splurging on a new coat or pair of shoes.

When thinking about a luxury piece, such as a designer good or high-price item, you really need to ask yourself, “Is this luxury necessary?” In world when influencers are promoting everything from pens to penthouses, we are constantly bombarded with things nearly every hour of the day. Personally, I screenshot clothes or household pieces at least three times in a day from Instagram alone – I always think that I’ll find somewhere for it in my growing collection of shite. But more often than not I don’t actually go out and even sample anything unless a strong review is posted, especially when it comes to beauty products.

Having worked in luxury retail, I’m a bit more cautious about what I buy because I’m familiar with almost every reason to buy something and every reason why not to buy something. When shopping, I ask myself a variety of questions but there are three that I always ask myself before buying – I call them the trusty three.

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1. Can I afford this? Most people have budgets – you have to factor in your basics (food, fake tan if you’re me) and then a few little bits that you may need (make-up, hair spray, tampons apparently). At the end of the week’s budget, you might see that you’ve a bit of extra cash left over. For me, I either spend this on a tasty spicebag or save for a future splurge I haven’t yet planned, like a holiday or something designer. So when I find a delicious top in the Last Chance To Shop rail, high street or luxury, I stop and think, “First of all, do I have the cash to spare?” If I do, I try it on and see how it looks.

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2. Can I see myself wearing this again? This is something that really makes or breaks a purchase for me. Sure, the dress may make you look fab in the fitting room mirror and it goes great with your casual look – but can you wear it on a night out? Is it versatile? And most importantly of all, does it suit more than at least two outfits? If your answers are yes, then you need to think about the really important question…

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3. Do I really need this? When I first started working and didn’t have any worries about rent, bills or savings, I would literally shop until I dropped (tight shoes are not making for shopping.) Because of this, I’ve had to give so many unworn pieces to charity shops and some I sold on Depop – the amount that still had tags on them shock me, how wasteful! Now, I’ve learned my lesson. I’m a sucker for a black tank top and generally stock up when in Penneys because I use them so much – but when I have four in my wardrobe already and they’re available all year, do I really need to buy another four? Truth be told, I do end up buying one (they’re €2.50, can’t go wrong) but it’s a totally different story when I’m buying luxury items. While scouting the higher-priced goods, like a winter coat or a leather wallet, this is when this question really matters. Like most women, I have a thing for bags – so when I’m faced with a Marc Jacobs bag that’s the exact same as another bag I have, I almost always say to myself, “You don’t need this.” And just like that, I can afford 35 spicebags.

Can Laptop Light Can Damage Your Skin?

Can Laptop Light Can Damage Your Skin?

When I started working in an office and faced a laptop and desktops a lot more, I noticed my skin had become a little grey. Now that I’ve gone back to retail and spring is coming, I’m upping my skincare routine. However, I’ve really noticed how dull my face has become – it’s definitely not as fresh and bright as it was last spring. Because of this, I’ve been trying various face masks and tricks to add more life to my skin. However, I remembered that when I was younger my mother warned me of playing The Sims for too long, and not because of going “square eyed” but because how it can damage my skin.

As soon as I remembered this, I jumped on my laptop to research how the bright lights from computer screens can damage skin. It turns out that a laptop’s light was quite bad for your skin – but now it’s not as bad.

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Marie Claire beauty editor Lauren Valenti wrote a pretty interesting article on how “computer face” can come about. The light from a computer screen can cause premature ageing because they emit UV radiation – so crows feet and frown lines can occur quicker. The good news is that if you have bought a laptop in the last decade, this won’t be a massive problem for your skin because most screens are either LED or LCD, which do not emit harmful rays. But if you work in front of a desktop or own a laptop from the 2000s or even the 1990s (well done if you actually still work on a laptop or desktop from the Zac Morris decade), then it can cause problems.

As it is 2017, it’s more than likely that you do own a laptop from the last decade but if you work in front of a desktop at work or in college, then you need to be careful because some can emit UV radiation. Even small amounts of daily radiation will not only make a light-sensitive condition worse, but also speed up skin-ageing.

So how do we prevent this? Simply invest in an anti-glare screen cover for your computer to block the harmful rays. Or work from a laptop from at least 2011.

Something else that you need to do everyday, desktop or not, is to wear a sunscreen daily. I know in Ireland we’re pretty relaxed about this but if you’re not going to wear a sunscreen on your face during the winter, do invest in a foundation or daily moisturiser with SPF. For foundation, I love Bobbi Brown’s Moisture Rich Foundation with SPF 15. I also like using Rimmel London’s Lasting Finish for day-to-day make-up.