Bottles of Alterna shampoo and conditioner

Brand: Alterna My Hair My Canvas
Product: Me Time Everyday Shampoo and Conditioner
Category: Haircare
Price: £££
Rating: 9/10

Haircare might not be on my 2022 vision board but it is something I'd like to improve on this year. In the lead up to Christmas, I had quite a few rounds with various questionable bottles of shampoo and conditioner. In fact, it all started to go wrong sometime in August when my beloved bottles of Percy & Reed Shampoo and Conditioner ran out. Since then, it’s been a downward hill. But it’s okay, I’ve found an even more expensive solution.

The Alterna Me Time Everyday Shampoo and Conditioner set was a Christmas gift from my mum who was also on her own downward spiral and thought we both needed to embark on a hair journey. The products can be bought separately (shampoo £26.49, conditioner £26.49) or together in a set.

They are a little on the pricey side but a little goes a long way with this product. For best results, I’d definitely recommend double cleansing. A couple of pumps to remove the grease and oil buildup and a couple more to clean the scalp properly. I use the same amount of pumps to condition my hair — to help keep the bottle levels equal (and because my hair is quite long). At first, my hair did feel a little dry even with leaving the conditioner in for a couple of minutes but that could be a winter thing as it feels a lot more softer and hydrated recently matched with the slightly warmer we're seeing.

I have quite an oily scalp and some shampoos can accentuate that. However, I’ve not noticed this one does the opposite and I’m pretty sure with consistent use, I could make it a full 48 hours without the excessive greasiness darkening my roots. I currently wash my hair every other day but this shampoo is designed for everyday use if you wanted to use it more often.

Final Thoughts

Overall, my hair does feel a lot healthier than it has been. The Alterna Me Time Everyday shampoo and conditioner has not significantly reduced hair breakage but it has improved it a lot- remember it's normal to shed hair! My hair feels a lot lighter and softer which is a great feeling. I'd also pair it with a bi-weekly hair mask to give it an added boost of moisture.

The only thing holding me back is the price. It is quite expensive especially as almost a month later, I'm almost halfway through so it's not a sustainable purchase for a lot of people, including myself. If I had the funds, I'd probably repurchase it. I'm holding out hope that there's a cheaper alternative out there, but having a clean scalp that feels clean all day is a feeling that's hard to come by.

Love, Aoife xo

Image of white roses in front of a Vogue magazine cover

We’ve all read the Glamour, Marie Claire, Vogue, and Refinery29 articles on the best products for self care and top tips on how to love yourself. I’ve read them all and to be honest, the older I get, the more some of feel like they're all just repeating each other. There are so many different ways and opinions on how someone can practice self care. So, with that, what does self care mean to you, and how do you know which works best for you?

A couple of years ago, I was really fascinated by love languages and looked into what mine were. I took a quiz and found my primary love language is acts of service and my second is physical touch. This year, another year of being gloriously single, got me thinking about ways we can practice self love based on our love language. After all, what better way to practice self care when it's perfectly suited to our love language...

Ways to practice self care based on your love language

One // Acts of Service | I LOVE to cook and I love those occasions when you have a relaxing evening and can take your time with making a delicious meal. The other night, I decided to make homemade pasta, with homemade pesto and lightly fried tender stem broccoli with warm ciabatta and olive oil on the side. I shared it over on my Instagram (@aoifecaitrionaxo) and it was a heavenly meal, made even better knowing I had taken the time to make it.

Two // Receiving Gifts | Regardless of whether you have someone there to give you a gift or not, buy yourself something. That thing you’ve been eyeing up for a while? It’s Valentine’s Day, you deserve it. Treat yourself to some flowers or sexy lingerie or a new bag, or even a sauté pan. Trust me, it doesn’t even have to be what mainstream considers “sexy”, a Le Creuset cast iron casserole dish has my heart pounding. You can tell I really like cooking!

Image of a rose and a bra with lace detailing

Three // Quality Time | Apple has either upgraded it’s do not disturb feature or I have been blind to the settings on my phone, but you can now customise the names of do not disturb. Why not create another setting dedicated to 'Me time', 'Mindfulness' or 'Alone time'. This Valentine’s, why not spend some quality time for yourself. You could run a bath, read a book, or watch that series or film that’s been on your list for ages but you’ve never had the time to sit down.

Four // Physical touch | If physical touch is your love language, how can you express and receive it without someone else? There is the obvious sexual touch that can release endorphins (feel-good) hormones. But —and partly linked— is the feel element to touch. How does your skin feel? I love a full-on a 'detox' shower. Mine consists of a hair mask, shaving and exfoliating until my skin is super smooth. Then applying a body oil or moisturiser with a heavenly scent; all to get me feeling sexier.

Five // Words of affirmation | This usually requires a third party to help build you up. If that’s not an option, why not create your own affirmations. I used them a lot at university to help motivate me and get keep me going when I was having skin issues. I'd have notes stuck around my mirror and above my desk. You can journal them too, which is a great way to express your feelings and thought processes. Alternatively, there’s a podcast (Affirmation Babe, Habits of a Goddess- there are tons!) that whisper affirmations in your ear. Stand in front of your mirror and repeat after me: I am beautiful. I am smart. I am sexy. I attract what I desire.

Love, Aoife

Three things in my shower, Alterna shampoo and Conditioner, Rituals foaming shower gel and exfoliator

Are you a morning or an evening person when it comes to showers? Or, are you both? I'm a morning person through and through. There is no greater way to wake up and get ready for the day than standing in the shower and feeling the water rain down on you. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the odd shower in the evening but it's a rare occasion. The only times I tend to shower in the evening is after the gym (as I go to evening classes), I'm feeling sweaty, or I just feel like having one.

I can see the attraction of evening showers. There is something nice about slipping between the sheets freshly washed but there is no way I'm washing my hair in the evening. Firstly, it'll take forever to dry; secondly, when I wake up I'll have a very flat patch on one side of my head from where I've slept; and thirdly, I have a fringe. And that's reason enough; they're hard work!

With that said, here are some of my favourite shower products lately...

ONE // Alterna Every Day shampoo & conditioner. 

One of my New Years resolutions is to rescue my hair. It’s been looking a little sad as of late, a little limp, especially as it’s getting longer and the weight is pulling it down. I also have quite an oily scalp which means by about 36 hours later I look like I've poured oil on my roots - and not a good kind of oil. Or as my Mum likes to refer to it as, chip fat. I’ve been using this duo for a little while now and I’ve been enjoying the fresh salon feel my hair has. I don't use that phrase lightly. I double cleanse my scalp and gently massage my head, which is kind of difficult to do yourself. My hair feels a lot cleaner, lighter and importantly, healthier.

TWO // Dehlicious Black Tea body scrub.

I’ve used a lot of body scrubs over the years but I don’t think I’ve ever come across one that makes my skin feel like an actual baby’s. For some reason, rubbing dried black tea all over my body is the perfect level of exfoliation and doesn’t feel like I aggressively tried to shed a five layers of skin.  It smooths the skin around my elbows and my knees that can get a little bumpy. The only downside is it does leave my shower in a complete mess. There are brown bits of dried tea everywhere, EVERYWHERE!, so use with caution. Occasionally, I use the Santuary Spa scrub which is nice but is a little harsh on my skin.

THREE // Rituals Foaming Shower Gel.

Who says you can’t have fun in the shower? I love this foaming shower gel. It comes out as a gel that foams up within seconds and you can watch it grow in your hand. The first time I used the gel I felt like a kid having bath time. Fun aside, it smells divine. I love all the Rituals scents and there’s something so refreshing about them too. It’s surprisingly quite hydrating too which often with such fragranced products can be a second thought.

Love, Aoife xo

Alterna shampoo and conditioner and Rituals foaming shower gel on a shower shelf

V&A Faberge in London: Romance to Revolution banner image

Peter Carl Fabergé is renowned for his collection of Imperial Easter Eggs. A collection of 50 stunning eggs made with incredible craftsmanship that can fetch an eye wateringly obscene amount when sold. But there’s more to the goldsmith than his collection of egg-shaped gifts made for Russian royalty. 

The Victoria and Albert museum (V&A) are currently running Fabergé in London: Romance to Revolution, an exhibition exploring the man behind the internally recognised brand symbolising luxury, elegance and fine Russian craftsmanship. It focuses mainly on the relationship the brand had with London, when it opened (I believe) the only store outside of Russia in 1903.

I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of Fabergé, far from it, but I have been intrigued as to why a simple statue could fetch a cool £3 million at an auction. If you’re looking for an artistic review of Fabergé, this is probably the wrong place but I will give you my honest review of the exhibition and my thoughts around the firm.

Inside the exhibition

V&A Faberge in London: Romance to Revolution banner image

The exhibition itself was very interesting. It told the story and history of the man himself and the about the brand. It explained the relationship it had with London and it’s very royal customer base. You weren’t allowed to take any photographs in the exhibit but that makes sense with how valuable the items were. 

And there were A LOT of them! It gave you a good feel of the firm and the type of pieces they created.
Items made by Fabergé combined fiercely expensive jewels and stones with less expensive materials such as enamel (a technique fusing metal and glass). 

Fabergé was a brand clearly designed and catering for the wealthiest who could afford the simplest of items but had plenty of money to afford an extravagant version. A lot of his clientele were royalty in some form- you’d have to be to afford the price in that era. A crystal Coronation vase was purchased for £430 which is worth about £4.8 million today. Similarly, a collection of silver bowls indented with a design cost the owner £250 but it now worth about £3.8 million today. 

With that said that, the exhibition displayed an equal amounts of purely decorative extravagance alongside utilitarian items including a boot lace hook that had been used so many times, the firm had to re-enamel the handle. There were many cigarette cases that looked somewhat ‘average’ but was made from enamel and had a thin stream of delicate tiny demands flowing through.

Fabergé also made a lot of animal figurines for the royal family. The placard explained some of them had been made purely for its artistic value than anything else. While I’m not entirely sure I can appreciate the value of a French bulldog made from Bowenite with diamond eyes, the level of detail was impeccable. You could pick out every hair and wrinkle on the dog, something that is not easy to do when you're carving stone. My favourite figurine on display was a snail. It was smaller than my fingernail but my oh my was the level of detail outstanding.

I made reference to the Imperial Easter eggs at the beginning and it wouldn’t be a good exhibition if they didn’t exhibit any. Right at the end, you can see some of the eggs from the most popular and memorable Fabergé collection up close. These can fetch a staggering amount at an auction  one estimated to be worth $33 million — but the story behind the one-of-a-kind collection is a sweet romantic tale.

In 1885, Russian Emperor Alexander III asked Fabergé to make an Imperial Easter egg for his wife Empress Maria Feodorvna. A unique egg was then gifted every year marking an occasion in the family. Their son Nicolas II carried on the tradition following his father’s death. 

I don’t think a picture could ever do the Egg justice. It’s something you have to see in person to fully understand what makes them so precious and more than a one of a kind item. To see the individual brick markings on the Moscow Kremlin Egg or the fragility of the hundreds of minuscule diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires on the Mosaic Egg could not be captured in a photograph.

Final Thoughts

The exhibition was fascinating. It was very informative but on a subject I think you’d need to have known a little about and have an interest in. I made use of my V&A Under 26 membership so it was free for me. At £20 a ticket, I feel you’re going to a bit bored if you’re not intrigued by who Fabergé was or if you don’t have an interest in jewelled items.

Love, Aoife xo

What do your beauty products say about you? I know we’re a couple of weeks into the new year but I thought it would be fun to break down the last year into beauty products, highlighting which beauty products defined the months for me. To be honest, it was a bit of a tough one trying to remember some of the highlights of the 2021. A year is a long time! 

I suffer with persistent acne so I started the year on antibiotics and prescription cream. I managed to have relatively clear skin up until August when it came back, only worse. By October, I was feeling really self conscious, my mental health was deteriorating rapidly and I went back on antibiotics which is where I am now. Back to square one. I have a dermatology referral in the summer (annoying but going private could turn out to be really expensive). I wrote an acne update back in 2020 but I think another one is due soon!

So, after spending an embarrassing amount of time trying to remember my year, here is a breakdown of my 2021 in beauty products:

My year in beauty products: 2021

January, Epiduo // New year, new set of skin care issues. I had a really bad acne flareup January and had to go back on medication again. I tend to phone my doctor when it gets to the point I can't manage it at home and it's affecting my mental health. Alongside the antibiotics I was on, the doctor also prescribed me EpiDuo, a benzoyl peroxide and adapeline cream. My skin doesn't agree with Benzoyl Peroxide and so my start to the year didn't quite go off with a bang. You can read about my experience with acne so far, here

February, Avène Cicalfate // Back to basics and barrier repair for me. Cicalfate contains calming ingredients which help to soothe the skin and reduce redness. I was still using the EpiDuo cream in February which made my skin quite red so I gravitated towards calming skincare products.

March, Bondi Sands SPF50 // This sunscreen absorbs like an absolute babe. No, seriously, it absorbs very well into the skin without a white cast. The only issue I have is that it can sting your eyes if it gets too close. 

April, Cerave SA Smoothing Cleanser // My acne isn't just contained on my face. I also suffer with body acne  which had flared up at the same time as my face. I wasn't applying the EpiDuo cream to my chest as I was not about to risk my pyjamas having the same fate as half the towels in my house covered in bleach marks. Per some recommendations on Instagram, I decided to try out the SA smoothing cleanser by Cerave. I still use it today, applying it in the shower with about 30-60 seconds contact time before I wash it off. I also apply iD care Barrier Cream to my chest after when I've dried off. This combination helped to clear my chest and back acne something I need to get back into now I'm going to the gym.

May, Garnier Anti dark spots and anti pollution super UV SPF50 // Summer time arrived, well it popped up to say hi, and I picked up this suncream from Garnier which is perfect for wearing under makeup. It dries matte so your makeup can sit perfectly on top. I use this sunscreen exclusively for when I wear any form of coverage. I also picked up its sister SPF spray for suncream top ups.

Flatlay of Bondi Sands face suncream, Avene Cicalfate, Altruist SPF

June, GOW Alpha Arbutin 2% & Kojic Acid 1% Serum // My friend bought this to me for my birthday as it had been on my beauty Wish List for a little while. Kojic acid is meant to be really good for reducing hyperpigmentation and lighten skin discolouration. The product also comes highly recommended by my favourite skincare Twitter accounts. Check out them out here!

July, Chanel Vitalumíere Aqua foundation // For my graduation ceremony, I decided to treat myself to a little bit of luxury and splurge on a Chanel foundation. I prefer water-based foundations as it allows my skin to breathe and is so much easier to apply. You can check out my full review here!

August, Altruist SPF50 // If it isn't broke, don't fix it. Yeah, I didn't listen to that. My beloved Bondi Sands ran out and since it's such a pain to find in store, I switched to Altruist which my friend gifted me back in June. I have very strong mixed views on this SPF. Let me break it down for you: Pro’s: contains Zinc, doesn’t sting my eyes, high SPF. Cons: absolutely useless when applied to slightly damp skin, mostly absorbs (but wouldn't recommend to anyone with a darker skin tone), beads up and transfers onto everyone's clothing. 

September, Nivea Irresistible Smooth Dry Skin body lotion // I love the smell of Nivea products! The smell reminds me of my first ever skincare routine which was made up of their cleanser, toner and moisturiser. I used to love their primer but I think that was discontinued. Anyway, I picked up the body lotion for typical body lotion purposes. 

Garden of Wisdom Alpha Arbutin 2% & Kojic Acid 1% Serum

October, Eucerin Urea repair (with 5% Urea and ceramides) // This is my favourite ever intense moisturiser for super dry skin. The Urea repair normally comes with 5% urea which isn't quite as rich as the one with ceramides. It makes a wonderful night moisturiser too.

November, Differin // Following a severe acne flare up in August, I reached out to my doctor again to try and get some medication. My mental health was suffering really bad and my skin was the worst it had ever been. I asked for Differin cream instead of EpiDuo to avoid causing my skin further irritation.

December, Rituals foaming shower gel // It’s like magic! I have so much fun in the shower using this foaming gel. I love the way it comes out as a gel and you can watch it foam up. It’s really gentle and hydrating on the skin. I even picked up a couple of bottles for my friends and now I have lots of free samples of the stuff!

And that's my year in beauty products.

Love, Aoife xo

Happy new year! For the first time ever, I decided to set myself some goals. This new year for me is all about creating healthy habits and setting boundaries both personally and professionally. I’ve never set myself goals or created a vision board before but having a physical copy of all the things I’d like to manifest this year seems like a great thing to do.

2022 vision board

I wouldn’t say I’ve been reluctant to set myself goals or create a mood board before. I just never felt like I was in a place in my life where I needed to. I was kind of drifting through life, looking to get through my education and build up work experience. However, now I’m in a position where I want more from my life. I’m very grateful to have a job and doing the things I’ve dreamt about but I don’t want to be defined by it. I’ve always been a creative person and a go getter type person, and I don’t want to lose myself in my nine to five.

The goals I’ve set myself are based around things that make my happy and what I aspire from my life. A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post on all the things I’m leaving behind in the previous year (Over it) but this year, I wanted to get off to a positive start and all the things I want to look forward to.

I know that some people like to split their goals into different categories such as Personal, Health, Finances, Career and Lifestyle etc. I didn't approach my goals following that structure but I think they naturally fall into at least one of those categories anyway. I went for ones that are easy to achieve and are focused on doing things that make me happy.

What's on my vision board:

2022 vision board ft travelling, fashion, money

01 // Create more aka blog regularly

I say this every year but this time it’ll stick. What has me so confident? Well, blogging has always been an outlet for me. And, now that I’m working in an industry that can be very dry, blogging has also become a place of refuge of positivity, creativity and more importantly, colour! It’s a place for me to immersive myself and stay connected to a world I’d like to professionally jump back in to when the time’s right. I'd also like to experiment with different mediums and use video more.

02 // Work on building a career & increase my income 

One of the things I'd like to focus on this year is my career. I want to work out where I see myself this time next year and in five years time, think about my goal and my end game. Do I want to continue in the job and the industry I'm in or do I want to take on a new career path? I know that I'm happy in the industry I work in but not so happy in the area I'm in. Another factor that ties into that is finances. I’d like to increase my income this year and end the year on a higher salary with potentially another income stream. 

03 // Become a Pilates pro & be brave enough to use the rest of the gym 

After the endless promises I've made about blogging regularly last year, which I sort of kept but also not really, I'm aware of jumping the gun with some things. However, I feel like I've already completed half of my goal. I joined the gym last summer and have been attending the Pilates class twice a week religiously ever since. I really enjoy it and can already notice a difference in where I hold tension and my posture. Now, I just need to venture past the studio and use the actual gym bit.

04 // Travel more 

I know travelling is a little harder these days what with a pandemic and endless testing but I really miss going abroad, exploring new places and experiencing life. I know I could easily book a flight, get the right tests and checks so I can fly but it all seems like a lot of hassle. Plus, I don’t want to risk catching the virus or passing it on to someone. I did a couple UK-based vacations last year, but I'd like to make it past the borders at some point and ideally somewhere warm like Milan, Venice or revisit Nice.

05 // Have more confidence in myself and go on more solo outings

One of the things I’d like to focus more on this year is taking myself out on dates and adventures alone instead of waiting for a friend to be free to come with me. If I think of all the things I put off because I didn’t want to go alone and all my friends were busy, I have missed out on so many incredible things. I always say this but London is such a great place with so many things to do that you could never tire of, and if I don't go because I'm not confident enough to do it alone, how can I make the most of life?

What's on your vision board for this year?

Love, Aoife xo