Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Grow your hair & keep it healthy

When I was 12 I had my first set of highlights so it's safe to say that I've had my fair share of hair disasters over the last 10+ years...
Everything from brassy yellow toned blonde to dodgy fringes and spiky layers and the biggest disaster: my hair falling out! I thought I would share my experiences with you to prevent you from making the same mistakes along with a few tips I've found that have made my hair grow back healthier and longer than ever.

My hair is naturally poker straight and has always been long and silky. That all changed when I was 16 and my hair started falling out in clumps until I was left with a handful of extremely damaged, broken hair. It was completely frazzled and I was DISTRAUGHT. As a self-conscious 16 year old, I felt like my world was ending; hilarious to look back on now and the definition of a "first world problem"- although I definitely would not want to go through that experience ever again! As someone who always had long hair, it was kinda my security blanket and I used it to compensate for my insecurities regarding my crooked and overcrowded pre- train tracked teeth.

My hair started falling out because every few weeks when I went back to get my roots touched up, the hairdresser I used to go to would bring the colour out to the ends which is NOT something that should be done. This should only be done every second or third time you get your highlights done and only if your hair needs it and the brassiness can't be counteracted with a toner. I switched hair dressers and thought something could be done to keep my hair long but that wasn't an option. I'll never forget the hairdresser in the new salon telling me that the breakage in my hair was so bad that she didn't even need scissors to cut it because it was snapping off as by itself. I had no choice but to get it cut short, tone the colour down and hope for the best... Luckily this was 2008 and Victoria Beckham had made the blonde bob the new "Rachel" (thanks Vicki B) and I tried my best to pull it off  like the other 90% of the female population. My hair was WAY too short for extensions (I couldn't even tie it up anymore) so that wasn't an option. I remember looking in the mirror when I first had it cut and feeling SO nervous about going into school the next day. I know this sounds so frivolous in comparison to some of the current events happening in the world (again, epitome of first world problems) but as a women your hair can either be the root of you confidence (pun intended!) or one of your biggest insecurities. If you're going through something similar and don't have €600+ at your disposal to get bonded or beaded extensions then hopefully these tips will help you out!

If you want me to say I took those magic gummy bears and I had rapunzel-esque hair within  6 months, I can't. It grew back at a snails pace for the first year or so. Then  within two and a half years it had grown from being too short to tie up to growing back down to my waist again- which was the longest it had been since I was about 14 and it has been like that for the last 7 or 8 years. I've learned a few things that have definitely sped up the growing process and have helped keep my hair in good condition; and I thought sharinbg them might help anyone who is having a hair dilemma or wants to keep their hair healthy.

1. Only use heat when you have to
If you can let your hair dry naturally or if you can leave it so that you only have to partly blowdry it then do that.
If you can get away with styling it after you wash it and then leaving it like that for a day or two, then leave it. I have naturally straight hair and I remember straightening it everyday just because everyone else did even though my hair didn't need it!? When my GHDs broke I never replaced them...
If you don't have a heat spray you can get one for less than a tenner in boots. I only spray this through my hair when it's damp so the bottle will last for ages.

2. Get ALL the dead ends chopped off
I just don't understand why people pay to get their hair coloured and then refuse to get the ends cut because they're trying to let it grow. I don't know where the science comes into this but in my personal experience getting the ends cut always helps my hair grow faster (as long as you're looking after it).
Looking back, I think having to get a bob was the best thing that happened because it allowed my hair to grow back fuller and healthier than before (and faster).

3. Hair oil is your BFF
This is only something I've been religiously using in the last 3-4 years and the L'Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Oil is my absolute favourite and I go through bottles upon bottles of this (it even has heat protection included in it). I apply a few drops to my hair when its wet and brush it through and then when it's dry I apply a tiny bit more. I use it most days and especially when I feel like my hair needs it. I don't find that this makes my hair greasy but everyone is different so maybe use it sparingly to start with to see how it works for your hair.

4.Buy a Tangle Teezer
I've been using one of these for years and I would never use anything else now. Unlike normal hairbrushes these don't pull or snap your hair when you brush it so it helps prevent hair from splitting and breaking.

5.Get regular trims
Following on from point number 3 I get my hair cut EVERY time I get highlights which is every 8-10 weeks. Every few months I get 2-3 inches cut off, sometimes more, and it ALWAYS grows back. This is key in helping your hair grow and keeping it looking healthy and fresh!

If your hair is brown and you want it to be white blonde in 1-2 sittings it isn't gonna happen and trust me it's not worth ruining it in the process. I know that there is an olaplex treatment to help with this process but it's not a miracle worker. We all know how long it can take for hair to grow back so I'm sure you don't want it to be frazzled and then have to go through the whole trying to let it grow process.

7.Enquire about Revoplex & Olapex treatments at your salon
I have silvery white blonde hair and I used the olaplex treatment when I wanted to get rid of my ombre and go back to an all over blonde. I'd built the silvery blonde colour in the ends of my hair over time and didn't think I would be able to get an all over match so soon- without going through the brassy stage. However,  the olaplex treatment allowed me to be able to match the root colour to the same silvery blonde as my ends with ZERO damage.

8.Find a hairdresser that you trust 
If you go to a different salon everytime you get your hair done, it's gonna be hard for each hairdresser to know exactly what you want. I know that my hairdresser will give me the best advice and advise me against something if she knows it won't work or will ruin my hair. I always trust her to cut as much off the ends as I need and I always leave the salon knowing my hair is healthy and feeling happy with the outcome. It's important that you feel comfortable and trust them because you're leaving your hair (literally!) in their hands.

Please enjoy these dodgy AF photos from back in the day up until now.. CRINGE!
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

L'Oreal Paris Pure Clay Detox Face Mask

I thought I would do a quick  review of the L'Oreal Pure Clay Detox Mask as this range has featured quite heavily in my social media feed over the last few months. I actually received this as part of a Christmas skincare hamper but because I travel so much and haven't really been home, I only got around to trying it out last week.

There are three masks available in the Pure Clay range and each of them contain 3 pure clays + 1 specialised ingredient (red algae, eucalyptus or charcoal).

What masks are available in this range?
Glow mask: brightens + exfoliates.
Purity mask: purifies + mattifies.
Detox mask: detoxifies + clarfies,

What are the benefits of using a clay mask on your skin?
Kaolin + Charcoal (2 of the ingredients in the Detox Mask) are mineral rich and work together to gently absorb impurities to balance and purify your skin.
The clay gently exfoliates and your skin should feel purer and clearer and more luminous after use.

How do you apply it and does it work?
The product comes in a glass jar with a screw top and plastic seal over the clay itself. I would suggest keeping it and not discarding it, otherwise the clay might leak from the jar. It's quite messy and I would recommend applying a thin layer with a flat foundation brush to minimise mess. I left this on for 10-15 mins and washed the product off with warm water.

Would you recommend this product?
If you're looking for a nice budget friendly mask to add to your weekly skincare routine I think this would make a good addition. It didn't have any groundbreaking results for me but my skin did feel nice, refreshed and more luminous after using this.

The L'Oreal Clay Mask range retails at £7.99 and is currently on offer for £5.29 in Superdrug.

 Have you tired any of the masks from this range?
Rachael O ♥

Thursday, June 30, 2016

New in Beauty Review: Urban Decay, Mac, Benefit, The Body Shop

I LOVE trying out new products and I always look to other bloggers for their honest reviews and opinions before I go and buy them myself. I bought a few makeup and skincare items recently and have been putting them to the test over the last few weeks. I feel that I  have given them a proper test run and can give a more honest review of them now.

This haul is a mish mash of new products and repurchases such as Benefit's Hoola, POREfessional and the Eyelure Lashes. 

I have definitely found some new favourites within this bunch and was  most impressed with the Camomile Cleansing Butter from The Body Shop and the Dragon's Blood Fix Daily Cleansing Pads by Nip+Fab. .

Camomile Cleansing Butter, The Body Shop, £13
Camomile is known for it's soothing and purifying properties and this cleanser is suitable for all skin types. It takes off eye makeup without the stinging or dragging effect and leaves skin feeling hydrated instead of dry and tight. I will definitely repurchase this again.

Exaggerate Eyelashes in no.140 & 141, Eyelure London, £5.45 ea
If you have hooded eyes like me and want a full, dramatic lash for evening time, both of these lashes are perfect! The 140s are fuller and give a graduated effect whereas the 141s are more of a wispy style with the inner, middle, end lashes all being the same length. I always cut off a small section of the inner corner of the lashes as I find that they are too wide and end up dragging my eye down at the outer corners if I don't. Both styles are longtime favourites of mines and I always find myself gravitating back towards them. 

Hoola Mini 4g, Benefit, £9.95
I haven't used this bronzer in years but I know that it is a cult favourite. I recently ran out of my Smashbox contour and wanted to try something different. After hearing so many great reviews about Hoola I decided to try it again. I didn't want to commit to buying the full size in case I didn't like it so the mini travel size was perfect and because I travel alot it made sense to get a smaller size anyway. It's very pigmented, easy to blend and is a lovely ashy, cool tone that gives a very natural contour.

The POREfessional Mini 8ml, £9.95
This is definitely my holy grail primer and know it is a favourite for many others too. It just does exactly what it is supposed to do - minimise pores and create an even base for foundation. If I have any dry patches it glides over them and doesn't flake anywhere which gets a huge thumbs up from me. I've tired other primers both high end and cheaper alternatives but I always gravitate back to this product. 

Mac Cosmetics Matte Lipstick in Stone, £15.50
This is one that I have always admired on others but never thought I'd be brave enough to try this myself. It is a very grey toned brown but it is surprisingly wearable and does not leave teeth looking yellow. It is a matte texture so it stays well but can get very drying after a while.

Urban Decay B6 Vitamin-Infused Complexion Prep Spray 30ml, £10
This is a very refreshing spray that can be in the same way as Mac Fix+ - before you apply your base or if your makeup is starting to appear cakey after a few hours wear. This is a nice product to have but it's not a holy grail for me and I have found other products to have the same effect on my skin such as a thermal water spray that is a third of the price. (You can get the Avéne Eau Thermale spray in Boots for £3).

So that concludes my mini beauty haul! Have you tried anything recently that is a new favourite? Please let me know!
Rachael O ♥
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Body Shop Vit E Duo

First of all before I get into why these two products are my holy grail of skincare, I need to apologize for being MIA. Dancing became my full time job in October and things became so hectic I just didn't have the time to post anything worthwhile; and then of course, the longer you leave it the harder it is to come back... (I'm not even sure if I know what I'm doing.)

If things do become a bit quiet on here again, you can follow what I'm upto by adding me below!
IG: @rachaelomc
Snapchat: @rachaeloblog

Anyway, now that that's out of the way I can get back to what this post is really about!

I started using the Vitamin E Overnight Serum-in-Oil along with the Vitamin E Intensive Moisture Cream more than a year ago. My skin type is dry-normal but usually more on the dry side. When it is going through a rough patch it is literally that. Rough patches EVERYWHERE. 

So I began searching reviews online of affordable products targeted towards dry skin. When I saw that Skincare Queen +Caroline Hirons approved of the Vitamin E Overnight Serum-in-Oil I knew I had to try it. 

The Vitamin E Overnight Serum-in-Oil is £15 and the Vitamin E Intensive Moisture Cream is £13; however, The Body Shop also sell these in a set for £20 which is much better value and the one I keep repurchasing.

According to +The Body Shop Ireland :
  • Skin feels recharged, replenished and softer
  • Non-greasy, fast absorbing formula
  • Skin looks fresher, rested and more radiant
I have to agree with their claims as the thing I love most about this oil is that it really absorbs into the skin. You can feel it working and doesn't sit on top leaving a greasy film behind like many other products I've tried over the years.

I apply a few drops of the oil at night, leave it to absorb for a few minutes and the apply the Vitamin E Intensive Moisture Cream on top.
If my skin is feeling quite dry before I put makeup on, I will apply a drop or two before I use my day time moisturiser.

If you have dry-normal skin and it feels a bit on the dry side or is looking quite lacklustre in general, definitely try this Vit E duo. You'll be as hooked as I am!

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, June 6, 2015

Mac Fix+ Dupe: Nivea Refreshing Toner

If there is one product that I see Makeup Artists continuously use in tutorials it's Fix+ by Mac: "Helps create an even surface for a smooth makeup application." I've always been intrigued to see if it would make a difference to the finish of my makeup and when I found a dupe for it on Pinterest I had to give it a try. I picked up a bottle of the Nivea Refreshing Toner and also bought a travel sized spray bottle from Superdrug to transfer it into. 

Mac Fix+ and the Nivea Refreshing Toner are both water based products with similar ingredients such as glycerin and hydrogenated caster oil.
As I suffer from dry/dehydrated skin I find this so refreshing and hydrating to apply before makeup and after I set it so that it appears less "powdery."

Skin Refresher/ Finishing Mist NOT a setting spray. 
Spritz onto beauty blender before applying foundation for a more natural finish.
Spritz onto eyeshadow brush before applying baked/shimmer eyeshadows to give a more vibrant effect.
Spray after setting with powder so the powder sets into your skin and the finish is less "cakey".
Use with gel liner that has hardened in the pot to break up the product so that it will glide on easily.

The Nivea Refreshing Toner retails for €4.79 for 200ml in comparison to Mac Fix+ which costs around €18.50 for only 100ml.

If you have any makeup or skincare dupes I would love to hear them!
Rachael O