Beauty

    Why I Will Never Go Blonde Again

    I remember the first time I dyed my hair. I was 16, it was the day I had finished my GCSEs, the first day of summer and boy, did I create a monster. 

    My best friend at the time and I thought now would be the perfect time to embrace the infamous dip dye trend. I went for pink. She went for purple. It was infamous for a reason. 

    We both had naturally very dark hair, my friend’s verging on jet black. Now obviously adding any colour to dark hair isn’t going to work without bleaching it first. Our solution? Cheap, shitty, drug store bleach. Of course. That’s exactly how you should treat your hair…

    It stank. It stung our eyes and it seriously destroyed those 2-4 inches of our hair. 

    I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think I wasn’t the coolest 16 year old at the time. Of course I did. But by the time August came around the cheap pink dye had turned a delightful (read: horrific) shade of peachy, orange with unwanted, unintended hints of green. 

    Off to the hairdressers. Time for chop. 

    After a summer of bedraggled curls with a texture I can only compare to straw and colour that looked like a Halloween costume gone wrong, did I learn anything about looking after my hair? Nope. Big. Fat. Nope. 

    Six months later I was back at the hairdressers. This time I had graduated from dip dye and was buying into the ombre trend all while desperately trying to convince anyone who would listen that this was a great idea. It was not. 

    This continued up until I was about 19 or 20. So really only within the last year or so. I went for ombre then balayage then highlights - all of which are pretty much variations of each other. Every single time I went back, I asked for more. I was stuck in a cycle of constantly getting bored of my hair. At this point it was clear I wouldn’t be happy until I was totally blonde. 

    It was February 2016 when I finally took the plunge. I walked in just about still brunette and walked out a full on blonde. My poor hairdresser dedicated the majority of her day to transforming my mass amount of hair (that was quickly thinning) into Barbie’s twin. 

    The drive home was an interesting one as I kept catching my reflection in the mirror and not recognising myself. The weeks that followed were equally as interesting as I bumped into people and dealt with mixed reactions.

    My mum hated it.

    Some of my friends liked it.

    Others, not so much.

    Backhanded compliments became the norm from those who didn’t know what to say about my new look. 

    I was just so excited by such a big change that i wasn’t able to register whether or not I actually liked this new hair.

    I had to adjust my makeup and wardrobe. Looks that once really complimented my dark features suddenly washed out the new blonde me. Every time I looked in the mirror, it felt like something was missing. I tried for weeks to get used to the new look, telling myself that any day now it wouldn’t feel like such a ‘new look’, it would just feel like me. Finally, I admitted defeat. 

    Four months later I was back in the hot seat. Four months. That’s all I lasted. I was ready to go back to my roots (pun intended) and was practically begging to be accepted back into my beloved brunette club. 

    Confession: I changed hairdressers for my big brunette comeback. (Shout out to Bill Harris Hairdressing.) I just didn’t have the heart to go back to the same place where they had slaved over making my blonde dreams a reality. 

    Once the appointment was made, the day honestly couldn’t come any quicker. The second it was over with I couldn’t have been more relieved to see my old, slightly glossier, brunette self staring back at me. 

    I knew I was in for a long road of hair recovery with regular appointments to touch up the colour and a lot of bad hair days while my poor curls recovered but it was worth every moment but it's been worth every second. 

    Now 18 months later my hair finally feels healthy again. I’ve found that the products that work best for me and I’ve honestly never appreciated my natural curls and colour more.

    Lesson learned. Never will I ever go blonde again. And PLEASE quote me on that. 

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    Niamh ♥

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    Curly Hair Survival Guide: The Best Products To Tame Your Curls

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    Topshop Unique, Alexander Wang and Diane Von Furstenberg were just a few of the designers that made curls cool again this season. It’s refreshing to see that fashion is embracing natural hair and to see models walking the catwalk in a look other than being polished to within an inch of their life. Hair had become a little boring for a while. Every magazine you opened, campaign lookbook you flicked through, it was the same straight hair, centre parting, unrealistically perfect hair.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad curly hair is back but let’s be honest, naturally curly hair can be a pain. If like me, you have naturally curly hair you'll know it's not as easy as it seems and some days it takes a little more work than others to try and tame the mane.

    If I had a pound for every time someone has said “oh my god I wish I had curly hair”, I can safely say that I would have enough money to support the curly blow dry addiction I've developed. Hey - somedays there’s just no alternative but to admit defeat with the frizz. In fact when discussing curly hair in work recently, one of my colleagues was talking about how she actually has a blow dry fund that allows her to get a blow dry once a week. To some this may seem totally ludicrous but if you’re a curly hair gal like us, you’ll understand that this is an entirely justifiable fund.

    One thing I've learned with curly hair is that products are everything. It’s a little sad but I get a bit of a thrill when I go into the Boots hair care section to be greeted with endless options of curly hair products. Even better - there’s almost always a new product (or 5) to try. That being said they aren't all suited to every curly haired gal so it's key to find what works for you. Between me, my mum and my little sister we’ve managed to suss out what does and doesn’t work for us fairly well. The best thing about the 3 of us having curly hair is that someone always has a new trick or tip to try out. Honestly, although a lot of the time you find yourself frustrated with your curls, there's a lot of fun to be had with naturally curly hair. Read on to find out more about my favourite products and how to use them.

    1.Paul Mitchell - Flexible Style Super Sculpt Styling Glaze, £10.50

    Paul miTCHELL fLEXIBLE sTYLE sUPER sCULT sTYLING gLAZE (250ML), £10.50 at lookfantastic.com

    This is my current favourite hair product. It’s a tip handed down from my mum and having been using the product for the last 6 months, I have no idea how I coped without it. It’s great for quick styling in the morning and is one of the few products that don’t make your hair frizzy when you add a blast from the hair dryer.

    With this product I use quite a lot and it's one of the products where the more you use, the better it is so don’t be shy with this one. I usually pour enough to fill the palm of my hand. I then rub the products between my hands, flip my hair upside down and scrunch it through. The next step is to grab your nearest hair clamp/clip and divide your hair into sections. Then, using your fingers, simply twirl your hair into tight ringlets, section by section. Usually I leave my hair to air dry and after and hour or so, I shake out the tight ringlets for much looser curls. If you don’t have time to leave your hair to dry a quick blast of the hair dryer using the diffuser attachment and flipping your hair upside down works just as well. I go for about 20-30 seconds on each second and then shake out the curls as I mentioned before. Feel free to add a little bit of hair spray and you’re ready to go.

    2. Bumble and Bumble BB Curl Pre-Style/Re-style Primer, £20.50 

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    This product is a life saver for second day hair. Before I discovered this product, second hair curls were a lost cause for me and ended up tied on top of my head in a frizzy top knot. (Yes, it was as disastrous as it sounded.) My only issue with this product and it’s very, very slight but the scent of the product is very perfumed and a little too sweet. Other than that, you’ll struggle to find any faults in the product itself. All you have to do is spritz it all over and scrunch your curls up a little and just like that what once looked like limp, day old hair comes back to life in all of its curly glory. Thank me later.

    3. John Frieda Frizz-Ease Secret Agent Touch-Up Crème 100ml, £5.99

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    The secret weapon every curly hair gal needs in her handbag. I don’t go anywhere without this product. This is the product I would turn to on the bad hair day, top knot days I mentioned above and boy, did they do some serious frizz fixing. You only need a pea sized amount for this one, a little really does go a long way. Simply put a small amount of the product on your hand, rub together, smooth onto your hair and watch the product work it’s magic. Don’t worry about reapplying through out the day, thankfully the product doesn’t leave your hair feeling greasy so reapply until your heart is content.

    Bonus: SMELLS AMAZING.

    Trust me on this one, you need to try at least one of these products. I love finding new products to experiment with and would love to hear your recommendations in the comments below.

    Photos by Kellie Scott

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    Niamh ♥

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    3 Ways to Incorporate Red Lipstick into your Everyday Style

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    As I was sorting through my collection of red lipsticks to shoot for this post it was only then that I realised the true extent of my red lipstick obsession. I counted about 13 different red lipsticks, all different shades, textures and brands and because of that it was a real struggle to pick out my favourite shade to feature in this post. In the end I went for good ol’ Ruby Woo with a Topshop red linerTo really showcase the red lipstick I kept my outfit simple with my favourite white t-shirt and jeans, both Topshop, Missguided Camel Duster Coat and simple silver hoop earrings.

    If I could wear red lipstick every day, I honestly would and one of my favourite things about red lipstick is that there are so many different shades out there that you probably could wear a different one every day. There’s nothing like a slick of lipstick to make you feel one hundred times better and on your worst days, the brighter the better is my rule of thumb.

    At this time of year it’s hard to avoid wearing a red lip because of the festive associations with the colour red. People feel braver with reds during the festive period because it’s the norm but red lipstick deserves to be flaunted all year round, no matter the occasion.

    Red lipstick is one way to make a serious statement with your look for the day (or night). Included below are a few of my favourite ways to style a red lip. Give them a go and make switching to red lipstick your power move for the New Year.

    1. Keep it casual

    Wearing a red lip with a casual outfit is one of my favourite ways to incorporate red lipstick into my everyday life. It’s an easy way to make what otherwise might be a very simple outfit really stand out and make a subtle statement. A lot of people assume that red lipstick should be reserved for glamorous nights out but with so many gorgeous shades out there why would you want to keep them hidden away only to brought out in the dark of night?! 

    If you’re already comfortable with wearing a red lip go for brighter shades like I have and keep the outfit simple with jeans, trainers, a slick black blazer and a mini cross body bag. If you’re new to the red lipstick game burgundy shades are a safe bet to keep your daytime look cosy and looks amazing with camel tones.

    2. Dress it up

    As I mentioned above, we traditionally associate red lipstick with a night on the town so paint the town (and your lips) red with a red gloss, that killer LBD you keep hidden in the back of your wardrobe and sky high stilettos. I’m not much of a dress kind of girl but I love pairing my black leather trousers with a red lip. I always think the secret with red lipstick is to leave your lips to do all of the talking and keep the rest of your outfit simple but chic. The same goes for the rest of your make up. One of my favourite make up looks to pair with a red lip is a simple winged liner and bold brows.

    3. To the Office

    Red lipstick is a game changer, particularly in the office. In this kind of atmosphere I would stick to more muted red shades which seems an ironic statement to make but it is possible. You might think wearing red lipstick to the office is a bit of a risky move and to be honest it may not be entirely appropriate depending on your work place but in most cases you’ll be amazed at the effects that it will have on your confidence in the work place. While Ruby Woo and other blue based reds might be a bit too bold, brick reds are much more office appropriate. Forget the power suit, it’s all about the statement lip.

    Topshop, Lips in Don't Cry For Me, £8

    Topshop, Lips in Temptation, £8

    Mac, Ruby Woo, £15.50

    Mac, Lady Danger, £15.50

    Mac, Viva Glam I, £15.50

    Photos by Kellie Scott

     

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    Niamh ♥

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    Gift Guide: Top Picks For The Make-Up Mavens

    When I go shopping, clothes are always my priority regardless of the length of my make up wishlist. I very rarely go out and treat myself to a new eye shadow palette or expensive face cream which is why I love getting make up for Christmas. Christmas is also a great opportunity to bulk out your make up tool kit, stock up on brushes and upgrade your make up bag. So whether you’re reading this in the hope that you’ll find some inspiration for the make up addict girl in your life or if you’re looking for make up products to start heavily hinting about in the run up to Christmas, hopefully this gift guide will provide you with a few answers.

    Don’t forget a new gift guide is published every Wednesday in the run up to Christmas so check back next week for the next instalment.

    1. FOUNDATION

    There’s a huge market for high-end foundation and it’s an easy way to treat someone to a “designer” item. However, if you’re brave enough to buy foundation as a gift for someone, make sure you find out what shade they wear in advance. Just try not to get caught rifling through their make up bag, it could raise a few awkward questions.

    I can personally vouch for the Nars Sheer Glow and Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation, both of which I love. The Nars Sheer Glow foundation is, as the name explains, a much more sheer finish so is perfect for everyday use when you don’t want anything too heavy.

    On the other hand, Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation is much heavier and I usually keep it for winter make up looks when you need bit more coverage. The Charlotte Tilbury make up artists are incredibly helpful so if it’s your first time don’t be afraid to ask them to match your skin to the right shade. They matched mine so accurately that I found it better to go up one shade for a bit of colour in my complexion when using the foundation.

    As for the others, they all have a permanent fixture on my make up wishlist and some day I’ll get round to treating myself and giving them a go. I constantly hear bloggers on snapchat and social media raving about the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation and any association with silk and make up is a winner for me.

    In terms of Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat, I’ve lusted after this product ever since I got my hands on the Touche Eclat concealer a few years ago. Similar to the concealer, the foundation is lightweight and designed to create a dewy and glowy finish on the skin, keeping to a more natural look. Available in 19 shades with medium coverage, there’s something to suit almost every skin tone.

    Urban Decay is a brand that you can’t go wrong with. Renowned for their NAKED eyeshadow palettes, the NAKED Foundations and Concealers had big boots to fill and they’ve really pulled it off. The All Nighter Foundation is full coverage with a matte finish but without leaving your make up looking flat while the Naked Skin Foundation is designed to be more of weightless, ultra definition, liquid foundation. A little goes a long way so at £27, it’s worth it.

    2. Contour Kits

    Ah, the good old contouring kits. They’ve taken the beauty world by storm, mostly thanks to a certain Kardashian crew. Every high end and drugstore make up brand have bought into the trend and released their own contour palettes so whether its cream or powder finish you’re after, there’s something out there for everyone.

    Queen of the Contour Palettes, Anastasia Beverly Hills brings us the best of contouring in her cream and powder contouring palettes. I own both of these and have been known to use them both at the same time. I like to use the cream contour kit primarily and then set my contouring with the powder kit. Make your beauty-loving friend’s dreams come true with these ABH goodies this Christmas.

    Top Irish blogger and series beauty guru Suzanne Jackson’s contour kit was released earlier this year and every time I try to get it seems to be sold out which must be a good sign. If owning this kit will help me look more like the gorgeous Suzanne then I’m in. To get your hands on the  SOSU by Suzanne Jackson Complete Contour kit head to Gordons Chemist or the SOSU website.

    Currently, I swear by the Sleek Cream Contour Palette. I bought it about 2 weeks ago and there’s not a day that has gone by since that I haven’t used it. For most people contouring isn’t a part of their everyday make up but with this in my make up bag I just can’t resist. Totally affordable at only £10.99, this is the perfect stocking filler for anyone who is into beauty.

    Then there’s the Iconic London Contour Palette which is only known to me because of instagram posts from Made In Chelsea’s Louise Thompson. Similar to the SOSU palette, it it means this will help me look like Louise Thompson then I want it.

    3. Eyeshadow palettes

    The reign of the smokey eye doesn’t look like it will be coming to an end anytime soon. It’s yet to go out of fashion and it’s a pretty safe bet for an easy classic look. Over the years I’ve definitely become more interested in make up and obviously the more that I practice with eye make up, the easier it gets. That being said I could never go to a make up stand or shop and trust myself to pick out the perfect eye shadow combinations which is why I love make up palettes. You’ve got everything you need in one palette and even better, when they’re all gathered like that in a collection it’s much easier to look up tutorials to achieve different looks with said palette.

    There’s constantly new must-have eye shadow palettes on the market so they make an easy present that will go a long way in terms of the appreciation you’ll receive for gifting it to someone. Worst case scenario, if you’re entirely clueless, sticking to the classics such as Bobbi Brown or Naked Eye palettes are a safe bet. They’re classic products that will never go out of style and ones that never leave most girls’ make up wishlists.

    Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow palettes are the perfect make up gifts. Once you get sucked into buying one Urban Decay Naked Palette it all becomes a bit of a black hole that you get sucked into, a glorious, sparkly, pigmented black hole. I now own 3 of the palettes which could very easily turn into owning all 7 of them if I wasn’t careful. The most recent addition to the Urban Decay Naked Palettes is the Ultimate Basics Palette. With the rose gold and silver explosion splashed across the packaging, the palette proves to be beautiful both inside and out. Complete with a mirror and synthetic duo-fibre brush, the palette is perfect for girls on the go while also doubling as a dressing table accessory thanks to its stunning packaging.

    To me, all Charlotte Tilbury make up just screams luxury. Before now I was only ever able to get my hands on the make up if I was in London or Manchester (I prefer to buy make up in store rather than online) so I couldn’t be more excited that the brand have finally landed in Belfast’s House of Fraser. The gorgeous coppery, brown and gold shades included in the Dolce Vita palette make for the perfect festive eye makeup look. The rich shades also double as the perfect combination for a casual everyday look and the compact design make it easy to slip into your make up bag without taking up too much room.

    Last Christmas I bought the Bobbi Brown Chocolate Eye Palette for my mum and it went down a treat. My mum has her make up routine down to a tee and other than her classic eyeliner look she doesn’t tend to stray too far from said makeup routine. However, as part of her job she attends a lot of events and so likes to get dolled up every so often. She was looking for something simple that she could master herself and something easy that she could slip into her bag. The Bobbi Brown eyeshadow palettes are both compact and classic and each shade is easily buildable so is the perfect all-rounder product that can take you from an off duty casual eye make up look during the day to a sultry smokey eye for a night on the town.

    Pippa O'Connor is part of the same crew as Irish boss babe Suzanne Jackson, taking over the blogosphere, beauty and fashion world one killer product at a time. Bloggers are constantly using and recommending the Pippa Palette that she did in collaboration with another Irish business, Blank Canvas. Another all rounder face and eye palette with 6 matte eye shadows and 3 powders (highlighter, bronzer and blusher) for your face and by buying the palette you're supporting a local, Irish business.

     

    3. Beauty Package offers

    If you feel like choosing a makeup product for someone else is too risky, a pamper session is always a safe bet. It means that they can use it whenever it suits them, perhaps save it up for a special occasion especially with school formals coming up this year and they get to personalise the experience to them. When I heard about the Jason Shankey deal in House of Fraser Belfast I was instantly intrigued and almost wished I had a formal to go to just so that I had an excuse to book myself in. For £40, whilst stocks last, you get to choose two Urban Decay products to the value of £30 and receive a full urban Decay facial make-up application followed by a visit to the new Jason Shankey braid bar in House of Fraser and get your hair braided.

    Hopefully this gift guide has given you some inspiration for the beauty obsessed girl in your life. Gift guides are posted weekly on Niamh Serena so if you’re still struggling with gifts to buy for those important people in your life check back next week. Alternatively check out my gift guide edit of the best personalised gifts here.

    Niamh ♥

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