Friday, August 28, 2015

Clear Skin Tips: How to Prevent Cystic Breakouts

I'm sure many of you have experienced the wrath from the demons that are CYSTIC SPOTS! You know... the ones that are unpoppable (sorry!) and instead form hard, painful lumps under the skin and leave the surrounding area red and swollen. These little demons last for weeks, don't respond to topical spot treatments and then when they do go they leave behind dark pigmentation marks. 

What causes Cystic Breakouts?
I have researched this and there is no definite answer. Many Dermatologists believe that cystic spots are caused by hormones and an over production of sebum that leads to blocked pores. 

What is a Cystic Spot?
A Cystic Spot is a hard nodule beneath the skin that never reaches the skin's surface. When the oil gland becomes permeated in sebum, it swells and hardens. The gland then bursts which causes a cyst to form underneath the skin's surface.

I am definitely not a skin expert but I have been getting cystic cpots every few weeks for a number of years. As a result of a few simple changes I have not had a cystic breakout now in a few months which is unusual so I thought I would share with you what I have found to be helpful. I cannot give any advice when it comes to acne, however, the stunning Model, Makeup Artist and Blogger Tara O Farrell (Tara Makeup) has written an in depth blog post about her personal experience which you can read here.

Below is a list of things that have helped keep cystic spots at bay over the last few months!

1. Water, Water and more Water!
This one won't come as a shock to you. I've heard this countless times over the last few years and I'm only beginning to implement it now! Water flushes out all those nasty toxins that lead to ill effects on the body. Upping your H20 intake helps keep your skin looking hydrated, plump and glowing! Research has suggested that dehydration can affect the type of oil and sebum your skin produces which in turn leads to breakouts. If you're not convinced, aim to drink at least 1-2 litres of water a day for a few weeks and note the difference in your skin.

2. Ditch the Face Wipes
I used to swear by using Face Wipes to take my makeup off. Cheap and convenient however, they don't actually clean your face and instead push the makeup back into your pores. I know... it's quite disgusting when you think about it. Your love of face wipes is clogging your pores and leading to breakouts which doesn't actually make any sense when you think about it!? So, if you take one thing from this post then PLEASE DITCH THE FACE WIPES!

3. Double Cleanse in the morning AND single cleanse at night
Double cleansing ensures that your face is as makeup free as possible which means your pores are less likely to become clogged and you're less likely to have a breakout. It seems so disgusting now but I used to only cleanse at night and now realize it is essential to cleanse away the sweat and dead skin cells that accumulate as you sleep! In the evening the first cleanse acts as a makeup remover (pretty obvious I know) and it's best to use an oil, butter or micellar water to melt away your makeup. The second cleanse is to literally cleanse and nourish the skin once the make up is removed. Does it make more sense now? Caroline Hirons aka the Queen of Skincare talks about Double Cleansing here. If your budget doesn't stretch that far you can just the same cleanser for BOTH CLEANSES. In the morning you only have to cleanse once as there is no makeup on your face and you can use the first cleanser (oil, facial butter, micellar water).

4. Spot Clean your makeup brushes at least once a week
I'm not afraid to admit that I was slack when it came to washing my makeup brushes. They are a breeding ground for bacteria and it's disgusting to think that you're then wiping that ickiness all over your face on a daily basis *shivers*. Makeup brush cleaning always felt like such a time consuming task and my brushes took AGES to dry which was so off putting. However, the P.S Love Makeup Brush Cleaner from Penneys, €2.50, is so quick and handy to use every few days to give your brushes a quick spot clean if you don't have time to give them a deep cleanse with Johnson's Baby Shampoo and Water. Quickly spray them with the P.S Love Brush Cleaner, wipe them on an old towel until all the excess makeup is removed and you're good to go. Practically zero drying time so it's pretty AMAZING!

5. Vitamin C
Anyone who has experience with cystic breakouts will know that the post inflammatory pigmentation marks (purple/red marks that are left behind from the spots) take FOREVER to clear up. Topical creams and products containing Vitamin C will help lighten the pigmentation marks so that they don't linger on the skin as long as usual! The Body Shop do a fantastic and affordable Vitamin C range and if you love a bargain as much as I do then it is a third of the price on

I really hope this post was helpful and I didn't ramble too much! If you have any tips please share them in the comments.
Rachael O ♥
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wet N Wild Lipstick Swatches

What are your favourite lipstick shades from Wet N Wild? 
Rachael O ♥
Friday, August 14, 2015

OOTD: Casual Key Pieces

If you follow my Facebook Page you will know that I have recently returned to work. Therefore, my items of choice these days are comfy, basics styled with key pieces!

I styled an otherwise simple black tee & ripped jeans with an oversized scarf, gold hoop earrings and white cut-out boots to keep things looking on trend and cool.

Jeans- Miss Selfridge
Top- H&M 
Boots- Missguided
Scarf- Market Stall

Converse are a casual staple for me and I usually style them with an oversized jumper and leggings. As the Irish weather was nice (for a change!) I decided to pair my converse with a high waisted acid wash skirt and a tie dye effect tank top.

Top- Penneys
Sunglasses- Penneys
Skirt- Miss Selfridge
Trainers- Converse

What are your Casual Key Pieces?
Rachael O 
Wednesday, August 5, 2015

OCD and Me

I have contemplated writing a post about living with OCD for a long time but I have never been able to. Not only it is a very personal issue but one that is extremely complex; I want to educate those who don't have a proper understanding of it and reach out to fellow sufferers. For those of you who aren't familiar with OCD, it is an abbreviated term that stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The most common misconception about OCD is that it is a mental health issue that solely revolves around germs and contamination. However, OCD takes many forms and manifests itself in many ways. For some it is a need to preform rituals a certain amount of times to cancel out intrusive thoughts and for others it is a way of thinking i.e having obsessive and intrusive thoughts. For me, it is both.

My first encounter with OCD was when I was nine, shortly after the death of my baby brother. Kian battled cancer for several months before tragically passing away in December 2001 when he was only 15 months old. Even though I was only a child, I was devastated by his death and couldn't understand why God couldn't just take his cancer away and leave him with us instead. Death is traumatic. It is difficult to cope with at any age and OCD was my coping mechanism; my mind's way of trying to process the grief. I remember feeling so anxious and filled with panic the first time OCD told me touch my desk ten times or "something bad would happen to my family." This was a common theme throughout my childhood and I was so terrified of losing my mum, dad or brother that I carried out these actions/compulsions to make they would be safe and everything would be OK. And it was, which meant I was convinced that listening to OCD and obeying it's commands would keep everyone safe and I wouldn't have to deal with grief again. I was caught in a vicious cycle of being overcome with extreme anxiety which was only relieved when I carried out the actions/compulsions it told me to.

People who suffer from OCD treat it like an unwelcome guest. There is no way of ignoring it's existence or it just becomes more vocal and aggressive. OCD compulsions and intrusive thoughts become a normal part of everyday life and you learn to live with it and try to hide it from others so they don't think you're a "freak". This was certainly the case for me until the end of my second year of University when life became a bit tumultuous and I struggled to cope. Stress was definitely a trigger. There was always an assignment due or a class test; I struggled to juggle dancing classes with University deadlines; I had a lot of financial pressure and things became tense with my house mates. I was struggling to keep afloat and yet the only help I thought to ask for was an extension for my coursework deadlines and not treatment for OCD.

During my final year of Uni, OCD manifested itself into something much more sinister that I could no longer control. I felt stressed, I couldn't sleep properly which meant that I was in a constant state of exhaustion and I masked it all up and pretended I was coping. I couldn't keep on top of my Uni work and deadlines and the result was more stress. I was having thoughts that made me feel physically sick, scared, upset, wrought with guilt. I honestly thought I was insane and was too afraid to tell anyone in case they locked me up in a straight jacket. When things became too unbearable to cope with I went in search of answers and came across something called Harm OCD. The only way I can explain it is to imagine that you are in a horror film but instead of being the victim, you are the killer. You can picture yourself causing harm to the people you care about on a loop in your mind and it tortures you. No matter how often you try to convince yourself that you would never do such horrific acts because you're a good person, the fear of losing control and carrying out these actions is terrifying. You obsess over these thoughts, try and make sense out of them, fight with them and that's what OCD wants. In addition, you become consumed by your illness. You feel the need to constantly read psychology based articles for reassurance and validation and to make sure you're not really a psychopath. You get caught in a vicious cycle; you have intrusive thoughts, try and rationalize them and do some more research just to be sure you're not insane. 

I had never heard of Harm OCD before and it didn't occur to me that OCD could manifest itself in such catastrophic ways; if I did then I have would sought out help sooner. I was probably at rock bottom around the time of my 21st birthday but if you looked at photos of me from that night I look "normal" and happy. That's the driving force behind this post; I want to share my personal experience with others and help them understand. It's possible to look OK on the outside and be fighting what feels like a losing battle on the inside. The aim of this blog post is to try and help just one person struggling with OCD get the help they need to move forward. You're not alone, you don't need to be embarrassed, you're not insane and you don't have to suffer in silence any longer. The first person I told was my Boyfriend who was a huge support and didn't once judge me. I was so anxious about telling him that I even printed out a multitude of documents explaining Harm OCD so he would't think I was crazy. However, he was only interested in helping me get better so I could regain my sense of "normality". I eventually got the courage to email the Counsellor at my University and explained how I felt and we arranged an appointment. I was extremely nervous about meeting with a stranger to talk about my personal issues but instantly felt unburdened. She helped me try and make sense of what was going on in my mind and we talked about the possibility of seeing a doctor and taking medication.

If I told you it was all plain sailing from here on in I would be lying. People are very ignorant when it comes to mental illness, even doctors. However, in a warped and weird way I'm glad that some people don't understand OCD and mental illness because it means they haven't had to endure it; I would't wish this struggle on anyone. The doctor I first went to see asked me if I had diagnosed myself and had no clue what I was talking about. Luckily he did some research before our next appointment and had acquired some basic knowledge on the condition. He wrote me a prescription for Fluoxetine or Prozac as it's more widely known. It's usually given to those who suffer from depression and when you have an anxiety disorder like OCD, the two often go hand in hand.
Medication is only half a solution though; it can help lessen the extreme anxiety and depression that often results from OCD but it doesn't get to the root of the cause. You also have to take into account the long list of side effects and the adjustment period that come with taking the medication. I chose to take the medication to help lesson the depression and continued to talk with Sarah to try and keep my anxiety at bay and regain my sense of self. Many things contributed to my recovery and I am so grateful for the help I received. However, I realized one vital thing during this time: I was the only one who could rebuild myself. I read a book called Breaking Free from OCD and it really helped me understand the thought process in our minds. It explained how people who don't suffer from OCD just let strange thoughts come and go whereas we who suffer from OCD obsess over these same thoughts and allow them to torture us over and over again.

I briefly mentioned above how I was prescribed Fluoxetine for Depression and feel as though I should explain this a bit further. When my OCD was at it's most destructive during my final year of Uni I became depressed. It came to the point where I felt as if OCD was in control of my life and I was a slave to it. During my recovery I spent many days in bed and I lost interest in doing things that I enjoyed. I stopped attending lectures and classes and I honestly didn't even care if I finished my degree or not.* There were times when I was hypersensitive to everything and couldn't stop crying and other times I felt devoid of any kind of emotion. I didn't feel suicidal but I felt that if someone had have told me it was my last day on Earth I wouldn't have cared, in fact it would have been a relief. Depression was just as hard to cope with as OCD. Depression likes to cast a dark cloud over everything and make you feel suffocated. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle on the inside and I was scared I would eventually give up. Thankfully, I was able to overcome Depression as a result of my OCD treatment.
*(A few months later I was allowed to submit coursework, my dissertation and sit my final exams. I now have a Degree in English and French).

The purpose of sharing my experience is not for attention, it is to give an honest account of OCD. I want to help remove the sigma attached to OCD and mental health, to educate those who are ignorant and possibly help others who are suffering. Naturally I still have "down days" and I feel scared that I might relapse and some days I obsess over an intrusive thought however, those days are few and far between. You just have to keep pushing forward and try not to dwell on the negatives. There will also be those who will say "I'm stressed too", "others have it worse than you"or "you just have to get on with it" and the only thing to do is let their ignorance and insensitivity go over your head. When I was at my lowest I craved reassurance from someone who had been in a similar position. If you are reading this and feel overwhelmed and defeated as a result of mental illness I can honestly tell you that EVERTHING WILL BE OK.  I bet you thought that I seemed "normal"? Well, just remember this: normality lives in the same mythical land as "perfectionism"; neither exist.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Rimmel 9 in 1 BB Cream

It terms of BB Cream, Garnier is my go to brand when I want a nice sheer, breathable coverage. However, I have just finished the last of it and instead of repurchasing it for the fourth time I wanted to try something new. I have just gone back to work and the air-con/ central heating is wreaking havoc on my skin! Anything too heavy just leaves my skin looking dull and caked so BB Cream is definitely the best thing for a light even coverage. I swatched a few different BB Creams from Maybelline and L'Oréal in Boots and the Rimmel 9 in 1 BB Cream just felt like the most moisturising one with the best coverage.

Rimmel 9 in 1 is quite thick in texture in comparison to other BB Creams which is something that I like as it gives a better lasting coverage. The finish is Semi- Matte which is exactly what I want need for daytime; I like to pair it with the No.7 Instant Radiance Cream Highlight and the Maybelline Eraser Concealer to give a dewy and glowy look.

It claims to: prime, moisturise, minimize pores, conceal, cover, smooth, mattify, brighten and help protect. I definitely didn't pick this up as a multi-purpose product and if I did I would have to say that it doesn't tick all nine boxes. I needed to use separate products to prime, highlight and conceal  as this product doesn't do that, It is moisturising, has a medium coverage, feels lightweight on the skin and has an SPF of 25 which is all that I look for in a BB Cream so it is a thumbs up for me! 

If you have any BB Cream recommendations please let me know below!
Rachael O