Monday, 7 July 2014

LA, San Francisco and Las Vegas

I've been quiet on the blog recently but if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen a few of my holiday snaps from my recent trip to the US. I've travelled the east-coast of the states fairly extensively so a trip to the sunny west-coast was long overdue.

We started off our trip flying to Los Angeles and stayed for five nights in the Hilton Universal City hotel. As the name would suggest the hotel is situated just minutes from Universal Studios Hollywood, ideal for anybody with a hired car as it's slightly outside Hollywood, however there are numerous shuttle buses that run between the hotel and the city centre every few minutes. We were extremely impressed with the hotel; not only was the service 5 star, the bedrooms were beautiful and extremely clean, the pool area was fantastic and the 24 hour gym was a blessing in disguise (especially after all that American food).

Visiting the Hollywood sign

Being in LA, we did a tour of Hollywood and Beverley Hills, we spent a lot of time on Hollywood Boulevard which incorporates the "walk of fame", Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre. Whilst in LA we also took a trip to Venice Beach which I absolutely loved, unfortunately the day we were there it was too windy to lie out but just walking/rollerblading around was great fun, if you're into fitness like me definitely pay a visit to Muscle Beach in Venice and also the famous Gold's Gym, both are well worth checking out. We shopped on Rodeo Drive and Melrose Avenue mostly, as well as the Beverley Mall, which is one of the biggest shopping malls in Los Angeles. On our last day we went to Universal Studios which was amazing, and in my opinion much better than Universal Studios in Florida and we then went to the Los Angeles Farmer's Market, which is definitely more exciting than it sounds. Not only is it a farmer's market, it's also a shopping village full of all the major high street retailers. There's also a Whole Foods store across the way, where I spotted Bradley Cooper buying a smoothie!

 True America

 My favourite tanning products by Hawaiian Tropic, these smell amazing. I'll do a separate post about them very soon!

My favourite Obey snapback, purchased in Urban Outfitters menswear section

 Cocktails and sun in the Hilton Universal City

 River Island aviators and bikini

Hotdogs or legs?

From LA we drove the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco, the drive itself is long (about seven hours total) but it's a great way to see more of California. I have to admit, I had a pre-conception of San Francisco...I thought I'd hate it. I don't know why, it just always looked "nothing special" to me. Boy was I proven wrong! When we got to San Francisco it was night time and the city looks amazing in the dark, especially the Golden Gate Bridge. We stayed in the Marriott Marquis, another beautiful hotel that couldn't have been more central, we were a five minute walk from Union Square. The hotel itself is huge and has a bar and restaurant on the 39th floor which boasts panoramic view of the whole of San Francisco.

The Bridge, San Fran

We didn't have enough time in San Francisco for my liking but we made the most of our day there. We did a bus tour of the city which covered all the main attractions as well as the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street and Fisherman's Wharf. We spent some time in Pier 39 and also in Chinatown and we spent our last night in The View Bar in the Marriott celebrating my exam results (I passed everything in case you were wondering, yay!).

Exam celebration cocktails in The View Lounge, Marriott Marquis

Alcatraz, we didn't get to go as the tours were booked out :(

After San Francisco we drove back to LA to complete the final leg of our holiday and the part we were all looking forward to the most-Vegas. None of us had ever been before and we were so excited. We flew from LAX to Las Vegas and I remember the minute I got off the plane and seeing slot machines everywhere, it really is another world.

Las Vegas, by the way I've no idea who that guy in the photo is!

In Las Vegas we stayed in the Bellagio Hotel and Casino  which is one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed in in my life. Luxurious is an understatement because the Bellagio has everything, from a nightclub, to shops, to a spa, to wedding chapels...literally everything. We spent a lot of our time in Vegas dining, shopping, sipping cocktails, sunbathing, partying and gambling within the Bellagio but of course we checked out some of the other hotels and casinos along the strip too. The hotels that impressed me most were of course Caesar's Palace, Paris, The Venetian and The Wynn. We also took a trip to the Las Vegas outlets which were brilliant, I picked up some great bargains in the Nike, Adidas and Kenneth Cole stores.

 Caesar's Palace at night

Paris Hotel and Casino, loved that place!

Coming home was nothing short of depressing. Leaving the 40 degree heat in Las Vegas to meet tepid drizzly Dublin was a kick in the teeth. We also had a miserable ten hour British Airways flight from Las Vegas to London, it turbulent for most of the flight which clearly was beyond anybody's control, but in general the plane was extremely uncomfortable, the food was barely edible, the bathroom was filthy and the in-flight entertainment was very poor. I'll never fly long-haul with BA again and I was surprised with how bad it was as I generally fly domestic with them. This flight was worse than anything I'd ever experienced, even with Ryanair!

But to end on a happier note I'm visiting Stockholm, Sweden this weekend and I'm very excited. I'll have a post up with loads of photos as soon as I'm back. Apologies for the lack of photos in this post, I forgot to bring my camera!

Until next time!

Orla
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Monday, 19 May 2014

Review: Lush Shampoo Bars

As part of my Hair Growth Challenge I've been trying out loads of new hair products recently and after watching this video by my favourite YouTuber and beauty blogger, Farah Dhukai, I decided to try out shampoo bars. The brand of shampoo bar which Farah recommends is unavailable in Ireland but luckily, one of my favourite beauty meccas, Lush, stock a huge range of shampoo bars to suit all hair types.

Why use a shampoo bar?

First off, shampoo bars are more economical. Lush shampoo bars are priced at an average of €7.90 for a 55g shampoo bar and they last for approximately 80 washes. So, for example if you wash your hair an average of 3 times weekly your shampoo bar will last you roughly 6 months-excellent value for money. Secondly, they contain none of the preservatives that liquid shampoos do and no damaging silicones! Lastly, they're more environmentally friendly, no plastic packaging.

How do you use them?

Just like a regular shampoo you dampen your hair first, then you can either apply the shampoo bar directly to your hair and scalp and gently rub or you can lather the bar in your hands and apply the lather to your hair. Then simply rinse and no need to condition!

As I'm new to shampoo bars I chose to purchase two-Trichomania and New.

Trichomania:


A solid shampoo designed to combat dry hair. It's main ingredients is creamed coconut to soften and nourish the hair, as well as provide shine.

What I thought of it?

This is shaped differently to the rest of Lush's shampoo bars, so it's slightly more awkward to use due to it's jagged edges. However, it's pleasant to use. It has a lovely, light coconut fragrance which lingers on your hair for an hour or two after you wash it. You get a surprising amount of lather from the bar and it rinses clear easily. My reason for choosing Trichomania was my slightly dry ends-I'm badly in need of a hair cut-but unfortunately it didn't seem to make my hair any less dry and I still felt the need to use a light conditioner after use. In it's favour I loved how shiny, voluminous and how just plain healthy it made my hair both look and feel. I will definitely re-purchase this product.

Rating: 7.5/10

New:


I thought New would be an ideal product to review for my Hair Growth Challenge as it's a stimulating shampoo bar which can increase hair growth! Containing cinnamon, clove and peppermint oils, New promotes healthy hair and stimulates the scalp. It also contains rosemary essential oil for shine.

What I thought of it?

The smell is the first thing that hits you with this product. It's got a very strong spicy scent, if you don't like cinnamon you'll hate this shampoo bar. Personally, I like the smell and find it invigorating and an excellent morning product. But unfortunately this product just didn't wow me. I found it made my hair too squeaky clean for my liking, making it tangled and knotty after washing. As for hair growth, in the six weeks I've been using it for I haven't noticed any more length than usual. I won't be re-purchasing this shampoo bar.

Rating: 5/5

One Final Comment:

I'm definitely interested in trying more of Lush's shampoo bars but I'm going to hunt for shampoo bars which contain no SLS (Sodium Laurel Sulfate) which is a soaping agent present in all of Lush's shampoo bars which can dry out your hair.If you guys know of any great ones please let me know in the comments section below! This is in no way meant to bash Lush's shampoo bars, which I highly recommend you all try, but a personal preference.

Orla
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Sunday, 4 May 2014

Update.


Hey everyone :)

Over the past few days I've received some e-mails and tweets from my readers asking me if I've given up on blogging and the answer is no! The last few months I've been crazy busy both at home, freelance writing work and even more so, in college. So rather than post a load of half-hearted articles, I chose to take a step back from blogging for a little while and focus on the tasks at hand. This week is exam week so my main focus is on study and after that I'll be back blogging as usual and I'm looking forward to it!

So see you all very soon,

Orla
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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Review: L'Oreal Elvive Fibrology Range #HairGrowthChallenge


This is the first installment in my Hair Growth Challenge series (find out more here). As promised I'm reviewing L'Oreals new Elvive Fibrology range, which promises to increase your hair's natural thickness, provide body and bounce. The range contains five products (I couldn't get hold of the serum as it was out of stock everywhere I looked but I'll try to get my hands on it soon) a shampoo and conditioner, a thickness masque, a thickness booster and a double serum which also acts as a leave-in conditioner. 

A product which claims to actually thicken your hair from within sounds ridiculous, surely such outlandish claims cannot be true? Well, L'Oreal have developed a new breakthrough ingredient called Filloxane after 17 years of research. Filloxane can physically penetrate the hair shaft, once inside it expands and thickens the fibre and remains inside for a long lasting effect, the more you use the Fibrology products, the more Filloxane can fill your hair fibres, resulting in thicker, fuller hair.

I don't have fine hair, which is what this product is predominantly aimed at however I do love thick hair-the thicker the better in my opinion. As I'm trying to grow my hair long I'll take all the help I can get. I started using Fibrology almost 3 weeks ago. I used the shampoo and conditioner each time I washed my hair (which is about 2-3 times a week). I used the masque 1-2 times per week. The thickness booster is an odd product which you mix in with the conditioner, it's consistency is water-like and it melts into conditioner when combined, I used this each wash as well. The products are surprisingly light-weight and easily rinsed out. The masque is a thick, rich, almost sticky consistency but like the rest of the range, it's easily rinsed out. Notably, each time after use my hair looked fuller and bouncier. I'm not sure if you'd say they've made my hair thicker, it's too early to tell but certainly so far, so good!

What it's supposed to do:
  • Increase hair's thickness over time
  • Provide long lasting fullness and bounce
Does it do it?
  • It's early days yet (I've been using the range for 3 weeks) but certainly my hair is looking fuller and healthy
Pros:
  • Inexpensive
  • Light-weight products
  • Leaves hair feeling and looking fuller
Cons:
  • There's not enough Thickness Booster for the amount that you need, so it wouldn't last very long
Price:The range starts for €3.99-€8.99 and is currently on special offer in Dunnes Stores


Have you tried the Fibrology range yet?

Orla
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Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Hair Growth Challenge

I want super long hair and I will stop at nothing to get it. For the last two or so years I've been extremely careful with my hair, using very little to no heat, using the most natural products I could source, oiling my hair regularly and most importantly limiting colouring. It was a slow process bringing my hair back to full health after years of abuse from highlights, bleach, continuously colouring it and hair extensions (you can view my hair story here) but right now my hair is the healthiest, shiniest and thickest it's ever been. One mission complete.

But now that I've gained thickness, shine and health I want more, I want length. Not just regular length, I want super long, thick hair. You might wonder why I don't just fork out and get extensions? Well asides from "been there, done that" I absolutely hate hair extensions, I don't care if they're Great Lengths and cost +€1,000 or if they're any other brand, they just don't look natural. I can always tell when somebody's wearing bonded extensions, even the expensive ones. Natural hair doesn't blend well with extension hair, it leaves a segregated look to the hair. Nobody with naturally long hair has that extreme volume right to the tip. Aside from the obvious (cheeky pun!) hair extensions, no matter what they claim, are terrible for your hair. Never mind the glue and the removal, it's the fact that your hair literally is being smothered by hair that's not yours and being pulled at the roots by an artificial attachment...no matter what they say it's not good for you.

I've recently started watching Game of Thrones and I'm obsessed with Daenerys' hair even though it's a wig. However, long, thick hair is possible-just look at Felice Fawn (though she recently chopped her hair into a bob) and Canadian beauty blogger and YouTuber Farah Dhukai, her hair is my dream. I've posted my inspiration pics below...

 Daenerys from Game of Thrones

 Blogger and model Felice Fawn

Beauty blogger Farah Dhukai

Fashion blogger Vera from Yucky Duck Fashion who's hair is completely natural, she even won Herbal Essences #SherzingHair competition...hairspiration or what?!

Currently my hair is just below my boobs, which is quite long. I had my hair trimmed in early January so it's in good nick. Time to bring out the big guns. What I plan on doing is this:


  • Use only the best hair products, this doesn't necessarily mean expensive. In my case I'll be looking for the natural (preferably silicone and sulfate free) options.
  • Do a hair oil treatment with a natural hair oil such as coconut, mustard, almond or olive oil twice weekly.
  • No backcombing whatsoever.
  • Very limited heat and only when absolutely necessary.
  • No GHD!!!
  • Limit colour to once every 8-10 weeks. Personally I don't need colour more than that. The only reason I colour my hair is because I'm going from a very dark black-brown to my natural dark brown and this is causing a very obvious sort of backwards ombre effect, so colour helps the transition.
  • Getting trims as required. I personally don't agree that trimming your hair every 6-8 weeks makes hair grow faster, how could it? But if you're prone to split ends, regular trims will keep your hair healthy and strong. I'm lucky that I don't really ever get split ends, however my ends have a tendency to look a bit "ratty" if I leave to long between hair cuts.
  • Indulge in regular head massages. Even DIY ones. This stimulates the blood flow and hence stimulates growth. 
  • Increasing protein intake. I already have a relatively high protein diet but I'll be keeping it that way and looking to include more eggs and fish in my diet. Protein makes keratin which is what your hair is made up of.
  • Supplementing fish oils/omegas. As previously mentioned fish is a great source of protein but fish oils themselves are full of omega oils which are the best thing for stimulating hair growth and  keeping hair hydrated.
  • Water and lots of it. Admittedly I'm dreadful at drinking water, I often go days without drinking any. This has got to change and I'll be ensuring I'm drinking at least 2 litres a day. 
My hair right now...

The challenge:

By the end of 2014 I want really long thick hair. So I'll be following all of the above and tracking my progress. I'll be sharing my progress here on my blog, on twitter and on instagram using the hashtag #HairGrowthChallenege. It would be great if you guys who are looking to gain a little length got involved as well! If you are thinking of it then comment below with your details and we can all support each other and share progress, tips etc.

My first update in the Hair Growth Challenge will be my review of L'Oreal's new Fibrology range, which will be up later this week!

Who's up for it?

Orla
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Monday, 3 February 2014

Review: Estee Lauder Double Wear


Do you ever reach a stage where you're sick and tired of your usual make up? Well, two weeks ago I got to the end of my usual MAC Studio Fix Fluid foundation which I've been using almost religiously since I was twenty. I do like SFF but I wanted to try something new, so I posed to Twitter, "What's the best med-full coverage foundation that really lasts?" The response was almost all in favour of Estee Lauder Double Wear so I decided to try it.

I went into Debenhams and got my colour matched to the frightfully light level 2 shade "2C3 Fresco" (two years ago I was colour matched to an Estee Lauder level 4!) I'm about a MAC NC20/25 right now and Fresco melted into my skintone, it actually matches better than MAC, which I was impressed with. As always I moisturised and went about applying Double Wear with my MAC 187 stippling brush but found that the brush seemed to be absorbing all the product rather than spreading it. The only solution I could find to this was using my fingers (personally I hate sponges), this warmed up the foundation and helped it spread. This is a thick formulation, there's no escaping it and as a result it does feel heavy on your skin. The coverage is great but I found it was easy to apply too much, equalling a cakey face. Another thing I noticed was that as the day goes on it looks quite chalky in texture. At first I thought this was down to using powder over it so the next day I just left it bare but I was left with the same chalk-like look. Although in it's favour, everynight when I washed my make up off, Double Wear was still intact, I never had to touch up or powder my T-Zone during the day.

One notable difference I did see was how dehydrated it was making my skin. It's tough to remove so each night I had to double cleanse before applying a moisturiser before bed. I have oily skin and dehydration is not something I'm accustomed to. Each time I used it I had a sufficient amount of my moisturiser underneath and still dehydration prevailed. Unfortunately it didn't stop at dehydration and I also noticed blackheads around my nose and chin that definitely weren't there (or at least as noticeable) before using Double Wear.

However, I wouldn't call it a bad product my any means. I would use it again just not on a continuous basis. It's an ideal product if you know you need long-lasting coverage, but at risk of upsetting my skin I won't be using it daily.

A selfie wearing Estee Lauder Double Wear in 2C3 Fresco...

What it's supposed to do:
  • Long-lasting (15 hour staying-power) foundation
  • Flawless appearance
  • Light-weight
  • Oil-free
  • Won't change colour or fade as the day goes on
  • Semi-matte, medium-heavy coverage
Does it do it?
  • I definitely wouldn't describe this product as light-weight but besides that claim it does what it promises.
Pros:
  • Doesn't wear off
  • For me the colour match was spot on
  • Very long lasting with no need to touch up ever!
  • Reasonably priced at €36.50
Cons:
  • Glass bottle equals the fear of smashing!
  • Feels heavy on your skin
  • I found it made my skin dehydrated and clogged my pores
  • A little too matte, it looks a bit chalky as the day goes on
Have you tried Estee Lauder Double Wear and if so, are you a fan?

Orla
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Sunday, 2 February 2014

SS14 Trend Report Part 4

Firstly just want to say a big thank you to those of you who tuned into Griff FM this afternoon, I was asked to come on and talk about SS14 fashion trends. It was my first time on radio so I was pretty nervous! For those of you who didn't catch it I should have audio in the next week or so, which I'll be posting!

This is the final part of my SS14 Trend Report. I hope you've found them a useful breakdown of the season's biggest trends. If you missed any of the previous parts you can find them by clicking the following links- part 1, part 2 & part 3.

Monochrome Magic

We normally reserve monochrome for the colder months however monochrome is sticking around this season. Taking on a 60s twist, you can expect to see a lot of pattern play-stripes, zebra print, polka dots and geometric prints were everywhere at Fashion Week. This is a great trend for those who aren't big trend-followers but want to look stylish. Monochrome is always on point.

 Sportmax

 Fendi

 Marc by Marc Jacobs

 Ralph Lauren Collection

 Rodarte

Saint Laurent

Globe Trotter

Taking inspiration from lands afar, this ethnic infused trend combines a mixture of subtle textures, exotic designs and desert tones. Designers took inspiration from everywhere from Indian saris to Japanese kimonos to tribal fashion. 

 Givenchy

 Dries Van Noten

 Etro

 Hermes

 Donna Karan

Chloe

Pastel Perfection

In my opinion I've saved the best 'til last. Pastel is my favourite trend this season and it's one of the most wearable. Particularly great for paler skinned girls, pastels are easy to infuse into your wardrobe. Whether you wear a key pastel piece or head-to-toe pastel, this is the biggest trend of the season and it has manifested itself onto the high street too, thankfully!

 Burberry Prorsum

 Christopher Kane

 Christian Dior

 Miu Miu

Versace

Marchesa

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Spring/Summer 2014 trends!

Orla
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Friday, 31 January 2014

Beauty Wishlist

Isn't it mad how all of your make up products always run out at once? I'm at that stage at the minute, but instead of looking back at my "old reliables" I'm curious to try some new products. The start of a new season is an exciting time as it's also new collection time and personally I always prefer Spring-Summer make up, it's fresher, brighter and lighter. Right now I'm itching to try some products from Hourglass, Michael Kors, Tanya Burr, Charlotte Tilbury and Burberry to name but a few!



Beauty Wishlist





If any of you have tried any of the above I'd love to hear your feedback!

Orla 
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