Shine Your Light

**Update**

I've found a willing volunteer to trial it for a couple of weeks and we'll track the results! 

Yes it's a little scary looking (appropriate with Halloween around the corner) but the Neutrogena Clear Light mask is lightweight  and surprisingly comfortable.  

Am I wearing it right now watching Veep & drinking Chablis here at Seafield Hotel? Absolutely. Will you see a photo of that? Absolutely not. 

But here's a quick pic of me trying it out!  

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I'll be interested to see if it works on my sporadic adult acne. I'll do a full post soon and let you know how it works! 

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Anyone else tried it? It's intriguing everyone over on facebook...

Monday night me-time

Somehow, even with a cheeky energetic one year old, I've buckets of free time since I started my new job! Might be those 5 pm finishes (I really don't know myself these days!) and the dream baby who goes to bed at 7 pm.  

Ideal time for some pampering as the darker evenings roll in. 

* Not an ad folks; just some favourites. And PLEASE excuse the grainy photos. My Nikon is finally fixed so the photos are about to improve drastically. *

Ever since I got some sneaky hair extensions (shhh it's a secret...!) I've been going through shampoo and conditioner at a rate of knots. Pun very much intended.

Mane'n'Tale has been my hero product these last few weeks. I'm slathering on the conditioner in particular and it's the only one I've tried that binds all of the cuticles and really makes the extensions shine.

My fabulously coiffed friend (who needs no extensions because she's got hair like a show pony) used to live with me and I'll admit I robbed her stash of Mane 'n'Tail on occasion. I loved that shine!

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I'm a big believer in sheet masks and retinol so any combination has to be a winner. Shiseido has been a revelation for me recently. It's a classic brand that's been unfairly overlooked lately. even with all of the buzz around Asian beauty brands.

These retinol infused smoothing masks can't eliminate deep wrinkles...but they work a treat for a brightening tightening ten minute treatment while you're doing other things and fine lines are definitely minimised after one application. I love them on a Sunday night so I look well rested for work (that is, as well rested as anyone could be with a teething toddler who wakes at 3 am on the button for a snuggle). 

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The This Works sleep spray is a freebie....my mum gave it to me. She hated it!

Different strokes I suppose. I love it and it's quickly become part of my bedtime routine. A spritz or two on my silk pillowcase (a MUST if you have extensions or just notions about yourself!) and I'm out like a light listening to Ira Glass' dulcet storytelling. I'm working my way through the back catalogue of This American Life in case you're wondering. 

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The extensions mean that my 'do takes longer than the 5 minutes I used to dedicate to it. (But it's worth it!)

When I've a little more time in the shower I use the Tangle Teezer to brush my Mane 'n' Tale conditioner through from roots to tip. It's a miracle worker. I baulked at paying about 15 quid for a hairbrush (it doesn't even have a handle...) but they're worth the hype. Using the Tangle Teezer also adds to the oddly comforting feeling that I'm grooming a pony when I brush out my lovely long locks!  

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NeoStrata was recommended to me by a dermatologist year ago and I credit it as a large part of my treatment for adult acne. While not ideal for sensitive skin (it doesn't sting but prolonged use could irritate) it's cleared up congested patches on my face and held any recurring acne at bay. And it noticeably reduces fine lines too. I've converted a few people to the glycolic life by raving about this foam.

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I'm undecided about these whitening strips but I'm only a week or so into my trial. They're not cheap (although I got these at a 25% discount when Roches Pharmacy were running a promotion online). Anyone else finding them a little uncomfortable? To put this in context, I needed Nurofen Plus before using dentist strength peroxide during my bridal prep a few years ago. So perhaps my teeth are super sensitive. These hurt less...but they they still hurt. 

I'll persevere in the pursuit of pearly whites! And of course, I'll report back. 

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Gritting my teeth and sticking on a whitening strip. Wish me luck! Anyone else tried them?

 

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How to Get Rid of Adult Acne

The lovely Navi from Denthusiast.com invited me to guest post about my experience of beating adult acne.

It's over here... 

Enjoy and feel free to get in touch with any specific questions.

** U P D A T E **

I've been asked about the nameless glycolic wash.

 

It's is Neostrata; Navi omitted this because it's not widely available where she's based. It is, however, a miracle worker. I've linked to Roches Pharmacy because they stock it, they deliver and they often have site-wide discounts or promotions on. (Not an affiliate link btw).

Best fake tan for pale skin

**In the spirit of my day job, here's an executive summary (for readers in a rush!): 

❤️️ Spray tan is the way to go if you've the time and the cash. Samantha at King Hair & Beauty is a spray tan ninja. She delivered a beautiful even tan, using Bellamianta, in no time. You decide the depth of colour by choosing when to shower. 

❤️️ In between sprays, I've been converted to gradual tan lotion. But the ONLY one that works for me is... La Mer. Tough on my bank balance-incredible on my skin! ** 

Holidays! The first holiday where I've maintained a tan 🙌🏻  

Holidays! The first holiday where I've maintained a tan 🙌🏻  

 

If you follow etainliving.com on Instagram (@etainlivingdotcom and more recently Snapchat too @graceiebaby) then you'll know that I was a born-again spray tan virgin. 

I say born-again because my previous spray (a disaster in Dublin 6) was a year ago and the one before that was 15 years ago, back in the dark ages when they didn't actually spray you (at least not in Wicklow anyway) they just rubbed you with the lotion and charged you for the privilege. 

Nevertheless it was back in Wicklow that I discovered the joys of a good spray tan in the hands of an expert. 

If you follow on Instagram, you'll know that my husband didn't immediately notice the tan. He just said I looked great and "Summery" 😂 Ah, men.  

If you follow on Instagram, you'll know that my husband didn't immediately notice the tan. He just said I looked great and "Summery" 😂 Ah, men.  

 Samantha is an inspiration. She gave up a career in the legal arena to pursue her dreams of beautifying others and now she has her own salon - King Hair & Beauty - in Wicklow. She uses Bellamianta, an Irish brand, which you may know I wasn't too impressed with based on their gradual tan offering. But this was totally different, due in no small part to Samantha's artistry. The tan develops quickly and you determine the depth of colour by choosing when to shower. Just over two and a half hours was enough for me. I'm never sure if you're supposed to scrub off the base colour (which I now know is just a guide for the person spraying so that nowhere is missed) but Samantha's face when I asked her, suggested not! You just stand under the shower until the water runs clear. Then moisturise. Voila. You're tanned. It's like magic. My Mum even thought it looked good. High praise considering this is how I looked when I came back from the salon: 

In desperate need of a wash! 

In desperate need of a wash! 

My tan lasted well for about a week with some TLC on my part (minimal scrubbing but much moisturising). This helped it fade beautifully. There's nothing worse than grubby skin and tell-tale knees and ankles. 

King Hair & Beauty also specialises in high-end hair extensions, henna brows (which I didn't even know were a thing!) and lashes, including the much vaunted LVL lash lift. That's next on my wish list! 😍

The Bellamianta spray tan is only €20 for the month of June but Samantha books up FAST! Yes you can get Belliamianta at lots of salons but you're paying for her expertise and perfectionism. That tan will be flawless or she's not letting you out! 

If you want to know more, she's on Facebook @kinghairandbeauty and prolific on Snapchat! @candhhblog (Samantha is also the gal behind well known blog Champagne and High Heels - endless talents!) 

I'd add that Samantha is lovely! Made me feel so comfortable and was a wealth of knowledge on all things beauty. 

Tell her I sent you! Might even see you there...I'm eyeing up a lash upgrade!  

 

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And so to La Mer...

The consensus on this was that it had better be fantastic given the toe curlingly expensive price tag. Almost €100. Eep. 

Thankfully it is!  

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Firstly, it smells reassuringly expensive. Like a fancy men's cologne or a musky candle in a high-end hotel loo. Secondly, forgetting the tan for a moment, it glides on and delivers an immediate luxurious sheen. 

I've been applying it at night (with a mitt) and waking up to the softest, shiniest legs ever. AND they're tanned!! It's like an added bonus! 

I bared my lightly (and evenly) tanned legs on a boat trip today despite lashing it on last night after a bottle of Cava 🙌🏻  It's fool-proof. 

This is a keeper for me. It's natural looking on my face and arms (my freckles add a certain authenticity 😂 ) and it's the first at home tan that's developed without any patchiness on my legs. 

One application gives a light but luxe glow to my deathly pale skin. That's perfect for me at home or in work etc. Two days in a row was a proper tan... a good holiday option. 

So I'm going out on a silky smooth tanned limb here...it's well worth €100. I've already had three full body applications and there are at least another three or four left. 

I'd love to hear about any other tans you think might rival La Mer? 

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Glowy Skin...naturally

The glossy posse never go out of style.

You might flirt with high coverage or matte foundations but the current love for layering powered highlighters over them proves the point.

Google 'highlighter' and you'll find countless tutorial videos and blogs showing you how to strobe and contour to your heart's content but what if you want to achieve the look with minimal make-up?

I'm trying to wear less coverage on my skin; I'm focusing on camouflaging where required and having a natural-looking glow. Obviously there are hundreds of products claiming to achieve the perfect glow. I'm trying out natural skincare at the moment (more on which in other posts) and these two products are both natural glow-getters.

Weleda Skin Food €9 for 30 mls

Bryt Boost Serum is about €28.50 for 30 mls

Weleda Skin Food is controversial.

Weleda is a long-standing natural brand but although this product has sunflower seed oil and extracts of chamomile and calendula, it also contains alcohol which of course dries out the skin. 

I'd caveat this by saying that I don't use Weleda as a moisturiser* so the alcohol content doesn't concern me. Instead I'm getting a subtle sheen when I use it as a highlighter around my cheeks and eyes either on a bare face or over makeup. You could also mix it with a pigmented highlighter (Catrice's powder highlighter is considered to be as good as more expensive versions) to amplify the effect. 

Feelunique.com features this review of from Red Magazine's Beauty Director, Sophie Forte:

“When I kept seeing this on makeup artists’ tables backstage at the shows and on shoots, I was intrigued to try it. Now I see why. Sure, it’s generally too much to use all over the face (unless I’m on a plane, in which case it’s a brilliantly occlusive barrier to dehydration), but its richly nourishing texture lends itself wonderfully to adding sheen to cheekbones and lips instead of using a pearl highlighter product and is an instant panacea to skin that’s remotely red or rough.”

So what is Bryt? I hadn't heard of it until I saw a display of the products in Roches Pharmacy when I was in buying my Shiseido face masks. It's a British made "high-tech natural botanical" skincare brand (according to its website). Its natural credentials mean it never use parabens, sulphates, petrochemicals, phthalates, silicones, palm-oil or GM ingredients and it's vegan and cruelty free. It claim to harness the power of naturally derived botanical anti-oxidants but if we're honest...I'm only here for the glow. 

I've been slathering on the Boost Serum (one of a range of serums) at night and when I'm pottering around at home.  It's packed with hyaluronic acid, essential oils and aloe-vera. Given that I get my targeted skincare from retinoids, I don't need my serum or moisturiser to work miracles. This delivers a silky moisture boost and soaks in quickly. My hyaluronic acid from The Ordinary has run out and this is proving to be an all-natural, luxurious replacement.

I'm definitely seeing better and 'glowier' skin lately but I'm sure it's a team effort from my Shiseido masks, the Bryt Boost Serum and a touch of glycolic cleanser. 

The Bryt Boost Serum was runnier than I expected. To save wasting any, cup your palm when you pump it. It'll run off the back of your hand otherwise. I wouldn't use this under make-up. It's best before bed (or applied throughout the day while you're chasing an 11 month old and you're trying to take advantage of the last month or so of being at home). 

So for my purposes, these products are not interchangeable. The Bryt is a use-at-home-pamper-myself-build the glow from within sort of product and the Weleda is a dab on highlighter for creating a glow before going out.  Both well worth a try, especially if you're becoming more conscious about what exactly you're putting on your skin...

*You might have seen on my Snapchat (you didn't?!....I'm graceiebaby over there so come say hi!) that I came across this when I was reading about unlikely cult beauty products and a makeup artist said it's often used as a sheen for cheeks and eyes.  

I bought the Weleda in Nourish although it's widely available in pharmacies and health shops and I received the Bryt to try from Roches Pharmacy in Rathmines (the one I'm always raving about!) 

Human+Kind

**DISCOUNT CODE BELOW** 

So I've been using some products from an Irish brand called Human+Kind. They're hugely popular in the Middle East & US but despite being mostly made in Mayo (yay for supporting Irish!) they're just getting launched here. They're available in Avoca and other lifestyle shops but I've a handy discount code below until the end of May. If you miss it, check their website anyway as they're running great introductory offers on their most popular products. 

I heard the brand's MD speak at an event recently* and I was impressed with the their commitment to being an Irish brand and their vegan approach. All products are vegan except a lip balm containing beeswax. No parabens either...I'm starting to wake up to their potential dangers so this is important to me especially for products I use on the baby. The brand has a highly rated multi-purpose family cream so I'm going to give that a go for post bath massages for P. 

The cleanser is fab (gentle but thorough - it leaves a fresh minty sort of tingle which I love) and the oil is very luxe after a shower or as a hair treatment. It was lovely on my face too but it took a while to soak in there. The oil says to avoid contact with your eyes but it's actually a lovely eye makeup remover (like most oils) and didn't sting me. 

If you want to try them, have 50% off on me! Usecode 'BLOGGER' and pop 'etainliving.com' in the order information box.

I'm buying the body scrub now and maybe even treating myself to the body soufflé. Plus I'm loving my soft hands, feet and elbows which came with a donation to Trocaire! 

Part of the purchase price of this hand, foot and elbow cream go to Trocaire.

Part of the purchase price of this hand, foot and elbow cream go to Trocaire.

*If you were there you may remember me. I was the one with the baby who latched on to my glass while I wasn't looking and drank my bubbly!

A very happy ending

The holy grail of massages is in Ranelagh. It's in a small Thai massage centre above Hobarts' Coffee on the main street. I have no pictures to post; this is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you don't go there for the interiors. They're pretty basic.  Secondly there is barely space to snap a selfie let alone a series of photos. It's teeny tiny. 

But if you want an amazing 90 minutes of deep pressure hot oil muscular relief for €75 then this is the place.

If you have had a Thai massage before then you'll know what to expect. I last had one on honeymoon at the Pangkor Laut resort in Malaysia. The husband and I were in a shared treatment room and we did not know that a Thai massage involved knees, elbows and heels in every crevice of your back. At one point he looked over at me and telepathically asked if those were her knees in his shoulder blades. I nodded. They were. 

So in Ranelagh, I wasn't surprised to see a metal pole hung horizontally across the ceiling. My masseuse would use this for balance while she literally walked all over me. At times I wasn't sure if it was her heel, elbow or thumb circling my achy muscles but I didn't care. The relief was immediate. I melted on the table. The 90 minutes included a full body massage (back and front) a head and shoulder massage and specific foot and hand massage techniques. (It involves toe wiggling and individual toe pulling. Not for the ticklish of toes). She also stretched out my arms behind my head in a way I can't seem to replicate at home but which produced a pop in each arm which was in equal parts satisfying and worrying.

The facial massage was brief but worked wonders. I immediately looked less paunchy and my cheekbones were visible, prominent even! Lastly she massaged the remnants of the oil into my scalp and hair. I floated downstairs and into Butler's Coffee where I caught sight of myself in their mirrored wall panels. My hair was piled high and matted from the oil and I was wearing a huge mens grey hoodie and leggings. But I GLOWED! 

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The Ordinary

The Ordinary is the bloggers’ darling du jour. I’ve been using some of their products since early December 2016, when my Mum asked me to look them up and order anything I thought she’d like. She does all of her online shopping by proxy through me!

I had heard that the prices were reasonable but they’re shockingly cheap. The star of the show is the Advanced Retinoid 2% Emulsion and it’s only €9.80. Plus, a little goes a long way. The bottle is small but the potent emulsion is easily spreadable over your face (avoid lips and eyes). This isn’t some watered-down dupe of a retinol derivative. It tingles, especially if you’re not used to retinol products. Crucially, it works.

I’ve been using this every couple of days in the evenings (and wearing sunscreen every day too; this is vital if you’re using retinoids). The difference in my skin is noticeable. It’s almost as good as prescription retinol. My skin is more even-toned, there are less visible fine lines and it’s smoother. Less occasional acne too. And, I got the ultimate compliment. Someone close accused me of having botox! That’s a great result in my book.

The Ordinary is part of the Deciem umbrella of brands. Deciem focuses on advanced functional beauty.  Their mission is to communicate with integrity and bring to market effective, more familiar technologies at reasonable prices. They’re tired of dishonesty in the beauty market, where they claim that commonplace technologies are referred to as groundbreaking. They also believe that ridiculous pricing strategies confuse the audience, in a bid to disguise relatively basic technologies as advanced when it’s just pretty packaging and marketing accounting for the jumped up price.


Impressed reviewers of The Ordinary have run the gamut from beauty journalists amazed at its effectiveness, to lay reviewers who claim to have abandoned half-full pots of La Prairie in favour of it.

My scientist sister was recently explaining the risks associated with parabens to me so I was particularly glad to see that Deciem products (across all of their brands) are free of parabens, sulphates and mineral oil, among other things. They also reject animal testing and decided not to sell in China because it requires animal testing before a beauty product can be marketed there.

But back to the products.

I also tried the 23% Vitamin C Suspension.

I didn’t love this although I can see that it works, albeit temporarily (but at €5.80 I can’t really complain). The formulation is a powder suspension so it’s gritty and tacky on application. It dries in but I’d disagree with The Ordinary’s suggestion that you wear it morning and evening. (I also saw that their website now suggests that it’s more suited to bedtime application so maybe they’ve heard this back). This lotion definitely affected my makeup when I put a little on in the mornings.

Used in the evening for a couple of days however, it seriously brightened my skin and seemed to even out scars from old blemishes. It’s a temporary effect but very welcome when you want to go make-up free or just wear less.

They’ve an interesting guide to using Vitamin C here and they agree that their formulation isn’t ideal but the upside is that it’s more effective than other brands’ versions which use a heavy silicone base (meaning they’re more pleasant to apply).

My one gripe was the grittiness but the product does what it claimed to. I’m ambivalent about it but I’m still using it every few nights. For that price and the brightening effect I’ll probably buy it again.

The last product I tried was their 2% Hyaluronic Acid Formula which costs €6.80. The supposed benefit is that hyaluronic acid can attract up to 1000 times its own weight in water and keep your skin more hydrated than moisturiser alone.

This gave the least noticeable improvement to my skin but it’s essentially just a booster for whatever moisturiser you already use so I suppose that’s why. I’ll admit that my skin has felt particularly hydrated and plump lately. But that could be down to more frequent and generous application of moisturiser or my using this booster before I apply my moisturiser. It’s hard to tell.

If you’re tempted to try a hyaluronic acid or to buy a new product claiming to be packed with it, then keep in mind The Ordinary’s warning that many brands use a form of hyaluronic acid which simply sits on your skin (because the molecules are too large to penetrate the skin) and actually draws out moisture, giving you a short term feeling of hydration but actually draining your skin of moisture in the process.

This product apparently doesn’t have the same problem because it uses three forms of hyaluronic acid each with different molecular weights so it claims to plump without drawing out water from your skin. I can’t vouch for the science but my skin hasn’t been dry since using this. Again, is that because I’m using more moisturiser? I don’t know. But it’s €6.80 which is the cost of a fancy juice so you can’t go wrong trying it for yourself.

If you're interested to hear more about how and why the prices are so low without compromising on the efficacy of the products beauty guru Caroline Hirons has a short but telling interview with their maker here.

This advanced anti-aging serum is next on the list to try.

It’s by Hylamide which is the next step up in terms of Deciem brands so it’s pricier than The Ordinary but has rave reviews. I’ll report back!