31 January 2011

Soap and Glory Wonderfill Review: “I feel so weak, on a losing streak”*

I am sad to report that, lovely new lipstick aside, lately I have been on a bit of a losing streak when it comes to beauty products. And I am even sadder to report that it’s all my own fault. As my grandmother, and doubtless, yours too, used to say: patience is a virtue. And I would do well to remember that little nugget of wisdom the next time I am let loose on Grafton Street.

Having read all sorts of wonderfulness about the new magic wand from Clarins, Instant Smooth Line Correcting Concentrate, I was determined to make it mine. While I don’t have too many lines and wrinkles yet (says she, feverishly pawing any wooden objects in the vicinity) I do have some crepe-ing at the corners of my eyes along with a quite definite and pronounced line under each eye.  So when I was in Brown Thomas recently I asked about the price, a reasonable sounding €26, tried some on the back of my hand and decided to take the plunge. To my great disappointment, they were all sold out.

Being in a wrinklefilling frame of mind, it’s perhaps no wonder that Soap and Glory's Wonderfill practically leapt off the shelves in Boots and into my needy little hands.

It made the same sort of claims as the Clarins product I’d been after and, at €13 and change, was almost half the price.

And so, instead of waiting patiently for the product I really wanted to come back into stock, or even checking other Clarins counters to see if it was available elsewhere, I ended up buying an alternative product that I’d done little or no research into and so had absolutely no idea if it really worked.

So here’s what Soap and Glory have to say about Wonderfill (via the Boots website, because I can’t actually find the product on their own site):

 What is Soap & Glory Wonderfill™?
  • A silky smooth wrinkle-filling cream with SUPERBLUR™ line-hiding spheres and COLLAGEN BOOSTERS built in.
  • What does Soap & Glory Wonderfill™ do?
  • Helps fill wrinkles immediately
  • Smoothes fine lines and wrinkles (long-term)
  • LIGHT-ACTIVATED for a luminous and youthful effect
What makes this line filler so Wonderfill?
  • An infusion of a scientifically proven level of LINE FIGHTING SUPERPEPTIDES™
  • Exclusive light-activated SUPERBLUR™ line-disguising spheres
  • A wrinkle plumping moisture matrix
Suitable for all skin types
  • Especially for wrinkle prone skin
  • Those looking for a silky smooth finish and a more youthful complexion
How to Use
  • Lightly pat on a daub of Wonderfill, then watch as it (the line) gets less apparent.
  • Use morning and night.
  • Reapply as needed throughout the day
  • Can be used under make-up for a smooth line free complexion
I’ve been following the instructions and you can probably see where I’m going with this. It does nothing for me. I can see no difference. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Applied under make up or alone, there is no discernable difference in the appearance of those irritating under-eye wrinkles. My wrinkles are not filled, they are not blurred, they are not less apparent. Not so wonderfill at all, then.

In fact, I probably have a few new frown lines, as a result.

I’m still using it in the vain hopes that I'll reap some of those long term benefits. If I do, you’ll be the first to know. 
If you do want to buy this stuff, you can pick it up at Boots or from the asos website. As for me, I'll be sticking my name down at the Clarins counter...

*Post title: Lyric from Buffalo Tom, Taillights fade

28 January 2011

Review of YSL Rouge Volupte Lipstick in #12, Forbidden Burgundy

I have a lot to be grateful to lovely L’Onglex for. Not only do they make my favourite nailpolish remover (which made my top 10 of 2010), and keep me amused with their archly entertaining beauty blog, but they’ve only gone and selected fluff and fripperies as this week’s blog of the week.
And as if that wasn’t enough, they did a little interview with me in which they asked, amongst all sorts of other make-up related questions, about my current beauty wishlist.
So it’s indirectly down to them -- and to my beautiful and big-hearted friend Eleanor, who read the post -- that I’m now the very proud owner of my first YSL Rouge Volupte lipstick.

And this stuff is lush! No wonder it’s the favoured lipstick of Kirstie from beaut.ie (check out her stash!). I have it in #12, Forbidden Burgundy -- although to my mind, it’s more of a deep, dark pink.  It feels really light, silky and moisturising on the lips and, while I don’t expect the colour to last, that just gives me an excuse to whip out and wave around the luxe golden tube.

Thanks L’Onglex, thanks Elle, and thanks YSL!
Picture credit: These shots are, once again, thanks to my amazingly talented colleague, Bonnie. When she’s not taking pictures of my make up she’s busy snapping all sorts of fabulous shots which you can check out at her flickr account.

27 January 2011

Review of Peter Mullan’s ‘Neds’ (now showing at The Screen, Dublin).

Set in Glasgow in the 1970s, Neds tells the story of John McGill, a clever, studious, working class boy who becomes inevitably mired in the gang culture that surrounds him. It is, after all, what everyone expects of him.
The older John is brilliantly played by newcomer Conor McCarron, who gives a compelling performance, by turn achingly vulnerable or chillingly psychopathic.
Mullan has described Neds as “personal but not autobiographical” and puts in a menacing performance himself as John’s abusive, alcoholic father -- apparently based on his own.  
The film is moving, but disturbing…and disturbingly familiar for anyone who, like me, grew up on the west coast of Scotland.  The bell bottoms, leather trench coats and boots of the film have given way to tracksuits, trainers and hoodies but little else seems to have changed amongst Glasgow’s ‘non educated delinquents’.
At 124 minutes I found Neds a touch too long - my attention wandered a little during the last twenty minutes or so and I wasn’t wholly convinced by the ending. But the first 100 minutes more than made up for it: Neds is a tense, violent, and energetic film punctuated by the odd fantasy sequence and moments of sheer black comic gold.
The film would, I think, have been braver if John was your typical ned – rather than portrayed as an intelligent, sensitive young man who is driven into the ned subculture by the misery of his home life, along with a healthy dose of class prejudice (“You want a ned? I’ll gie ye a fuckin’ ned” being one of the more memorable lines). John is just not representative  -- but we probably wouldn’t like or care about him or the film if he was.
Some might find Neds a difficult film. The accents, the patter, the violence, the swearing … it could all add up to incomprehension for a non-Scottish audience.  But I hope not, because for all its ugliness and brutality, Neds is a powerful, moving story with big, universal themes of class and society, violence and alienation, religion, redemption and hope.
Oh, and a cracking soundtrack, too.

Picture credit: This image of the film's poster comes from the Screen Cinema's excellent blog.  This D'olier street cinema is probably my favourite in Dublin, and not just because you can buy wine to take into the theatre. It's also where we went to see Neds.

26 January 2011

Robots, spiders, bubbles...whoever said Chanel's not fun?!

I first found this little gem on Nowness, a new site featuring daily content from 'the most respected and innovative creatives working today'. The jury's out on that one, but this quirky little short by Peter Philip's, Chanel’s Global Creative Director of Makeup, is completely unexpected and really made me smile. While I love the brand, I've always considered Chanel to be quite serious and grown-up so it's fantastic to see them coming out with something so mischievous and fun. I watched it three times in a row. 

Hope you enjoy!

21 January 2011

Rockport SS11 Collection: Audry Woven Sandal

Because of the threat of snow today (which, thankfully, seems to have been somewhat over-stated), I am back in my trusty Rockport Anna boots. But looking out at the bright blue skies over Dublin's IFSC has awakened a little spark of hope in my heart that spring is on its way. And so I thought I'd share with you a couple of images from Rockport's SS11 look book which they emailed to me this week. These feature the Audry woven sandal in biscotti (€130), but lots more images of what's on offer from this brand -- who really excite me with their twin promise of style and comfort -- can be found on the fluff and fripperies facebook page. They'll all be landing in Clerys soon.

20 January 2011

Clarins Pro Palette Eyebrow Kit Review (and pictures: spot the difference!)

I wrote briefly about my new Clarins Pro Palette Eyebrow Kit in a previous post and said I’d come back and do a little review. I’ve used this kit every single day since I got it: with a mini tweezers, brow brush and powder/shadow applicator, along with a pinkish eyeshadow, brow wax and 3 eyebrow shades, this slim mirrored case has everything you need to indulge and appease even a full blown brow obsession like my own.
There are 3 eyebrow powder colours – black, brown and blonde – and my only issue with this kit is that I will never use the lightest shade, which strikes me as being a tad wasteful. It’s a larger size than brow kits I’ve owned in the past, but not so large that I can’t carry it around with me in my handbag for daily use. There’s a decent sized mirror on the inside lid (and the outside case is so reflective that I sometimes use this to apply the rest of my make up on the bus).
When I reviewed the Clarins Wonder Perfect mascara recently, Karen over at lovelygirliebits asked about photos. Thanks to my very patient and accommodating colleague Bonnie, here’s a before and after shot for you.

And after!
This was literally a one-minute-eye - I just used the darkest brow shade in the Clarins Pro Palette Eyebrow kit, one coat of Clarins Wonder Perfect mascara (top lashes only) and a touch of both the lightest and darkest shade from my Catrice eyeshadow quad, in 090 Chocolate Temptation.

17 January 2011

Clarins Wonder Perfect Mascara Review: “She was a wide eyed girl”*

I love Clarins, but in the past I have tended to overlook the brand’s make-up offerings in favour of their skincare. I am a big fan of their exfoliator, hand cream, bath products and, until recently, I was getting along very well with their HydraQuench moisturiser

For my cosmetic needs though, Clarins wouldn’t necessarily have been my first choice.  But a couple of well-chosen Christmas presents have changed my outlook completely. I was lucky enough to receive an All About Eyes gift set, a brow kit and the gorgeous Barocco eye colour trio, all of which I absolutely love.

The gift set, which was retailing here for about €24, contained a mini version of Instant Eye Make-up Remover (30ml) and a teeny 3ml of Eye Revive Beauty Flash along with the star of the show, a full-sized (7ml) version of Clarins Wonder Perfect Mascara.

Now, I confess to never having heard of this particular product before, which saddens me as I’d have been saved the time and heartache involved in my ongoing quest for the perfect mascara. As its name suggests, Wonder Perfect Mascara is quite wonderfully perfect.

I’ve been using Boots No 7 Exceptional Definition mascara which is a really lovely product, delivering great definition, separation and length. But, as I lamented in my initial review, it doesn’t give me the ‘fat lashes’  -- or volume -- that I’d ideally like.

Clarins’ sleek silver tube of wonderful perfection really delivers, not only on volume, but on length and curl, too.  

The product makes the following claims:
  • Incredibly thick, volumized lashes, perfectly separated, no clumping.
  • Infinitely long lashes, highlighted along their base by a superb eyeliner effect.
  • Lashes with a spectacular curl that always remain supple.

Sounds amazing, right? But the really amazing thing is that the product actually lives up to these promises. The only thing I’d question is the supposed eyeliner effect, which I really like the idea of but can’t spot in reality. But it tickes the boxes in all other areas.

Apparently, natural plant waxes lend ‘thickening power’ to the texture, while the formula contains both an inbuilt lash conditioner and provitamin B5 as a lash perfector, too.

Now, I am finding it ever-so-slightly smudgy on application, but it dries quickly and doesn’t flake or smudge throughout the day. And because it’s really thick, an intense colour and I’ve been lashing it on (no pun intended), I’m taking a two-handed approach to removing it, using the Clarins eye make-up remover with cotton wool first before  my trusty Liz Earle cleanser.

It’s available in black, brown or blue (I have the black) and if, like me, you expect miracles from your mascara and want a product that really does it all, then rejoice: your search is over.

Edit: For before and after shots, see here :)

*Post title: Lyric from Eurythmics, 'Wide Eyed Girl'

11 January 2011

Arnotts Spring Summer 2011: “Here Comes The Summer”*

Now that my Christmas holidays are officially over, I desperately need something to look forward to. And what better to ease me through the dark and dreary winter days than the prospect of a crisp, fresh spring and summer wardrobe. (Look, I can dream...) 
At the Arnotts Spring Summer 2011 preview in December it seemed like designers had been influenced by every decade from the 40s to the 90s so, no matter what your favourite era might be, it looks like there really will be something to please everyone this coming season.
Fans of the current Mad Men trend will be happy to see it carry through with pretty structured dresses from labels including Coast, Hobbs and newcomer Heidi Higgins who, after a stint working with Louise Kennedy, introduced her own label to the Irish market in May 09.
Heidi Higgins 'Megan' dress, €310
New to Arnotts for SS11, London fashion house Ghost channelled the 70s with their signature crepe and satin flowing maxis but also gave a nod to the 90s with more unexpected pieces like this grown up grunge number below, which would pair well with the label’s silky take on the parka. 
Ghost 'Jewel' dress, €125
The 70s trend continues with Gerard Darel who, beloved of Mammy’s everywhere, seems to have had a bit of a makeover. Check out the safari dress below and this gorgeous little drapey number…hard to imagine the mother of the bride rocking up in either of these.
Gerard Darel safari dress, €215

Gerard Darel black & nude dress, €225
For more of what you can expect from Arnotts this Spring/Summer, check out the fluff and fripperies facebook page for photo albums of ladies fashion, menswear and accessories.
All images by Marc O'Sullivan and courtesy of Arnotts
*Post title: Lyric from The Undertones, ‘Here Comes The Summer’

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10 January 2011

Review of Browns Bar and Cafe, Brown Thomas, Dublin

As I sit here with soup at my desk on my first day back in work, I'm consoling myself by thinking back to lunch last week with my friend Joanne, in the considerably snazzier environs of Browns Bar & Café in Brown Thomas, Dublin. Recently opened on the lower ground floor, we kicked off our last hurrah of the festive holidays here on Friday surrounded by the odd impeccably groomed couple, a well-known Irish designer (we think) and other ladies who lunch.

Browns Bar & Café is run by the Kemp sisters, who also operate the third-floor restaurant at BT’s alongside itsabagel, itsa4 and itsa @ IMMA. At first we were a little disappointed with the look and feel of the place, but we’d initially been seated at a little table on the fringes of things, and once we were moved to a larger spot in the centre of the room, we were more taken with the atmosphere and the general surrounds.

The menu was a different matter: we took to that right away. It’s small but carefully selected, with a variety of sandwiches, tarts and salads as well as a tempting array of pastries, cakes and coffees. I was initially veering towards the warm croque monsieur but in the end Joanne and I opted for exactly the same dishes: an open crab sandwich on brown bread, followed by the lemon pot with biscotti and washed down with a glass of prosecco and a couple of coffees.

Strangely enough, our waiter elected to bring over our desserts at the same time as our main course, a practice which may contribute to the fast turnaround rate for tables; when we arrived, he told us that “they move fast, here”.  When enquiring as to how we were enjoying our meal, about 3 seconds after it had arrived, he also took the opportunity to ask if we wanted a tea or coffee yet. No wonder they move fast, we thought, but this oddity aside, service was grand and pleasant, and certainly quick.

More importantly though, the food was gorgeous. The open crab sandwich was light and tasty and served with a simple rocket salad and a wedge of lemon. The lemon pot was heaven in an espresso cup, mouth-wateringly tangy and a lovely custardy consistency. And needless to say, the prosecco went down a treat, too.

The bill came in at just under €50 which we reckoned wasn’t bad for what we’d had, considering the prosecco was €8 a glass, and we’d had two courses and a coffee each.

We were happy and we’ll be back, was the consensus, but we’d really, really like it if they ditched those fake roses and had a fresh flower on the table for the next time.

*Image courtesy of Joanne and her trusty BlackBerry!

06 January 2011

Top 10 of 2010: “Come on baby, you're my greatest hit”*

Being a curious creature (ok, make that plain old nosy), I really enjoy all those top 10 round-ups and lists you get towards the end of the year. I may be a week or two late with this, but here are my greatest beauty hits of 2010. That’s not to say the products were released last year, as many of them have been around for a while, but these were my personal favourites. And while I’m tempted to stick in a lot of the great beauty gifts I was lucky enough to receive this Christmas, I’ll hold off as their rightful place is on next year’s top 10 round up.

So in no particular order, here we go:

Serum de Rouge
1. Favourite Lip Product: Dior Serum de Rouge Luminous Colour Lip Treatment
This is absolutely luscious. With its silky, ultra moisturising texture, Serum de Rouge falls somewhere between cosmetic and skincare and contains 10 times more concentrated skincare ingredients than your average lipstick. Looks and feels divine. I can’t say enough good things about this little tube of loveliness (although I tried, here).

Chanel moisturiser
2. Favourite Moisturiser: Chanel Beauté Initiale Energizing Multi-Protection Cream
This is, quite simply, a fantastic product: a thick, pale pink cream which is easily absorbed, delicately fragranced and beautifully packaged in a square glass jar. It has an immediate effect on my skin – as soon as it’s applied my face is brighter and my skin looks plumped up and hydrated. With blue ginger, vitamins, minerals and SPF 15, too. Love, love, love. Love. LOVE.

3. Favourite Nail Polish Remover: L’Onglex
I first encountered this lovely Irish brand when they sponsored the Ladies Tea Party before last year’s Irish Blog Awards, in the penthouse of the uber luxe G Hotel in Galway, no less. I love the pretty, quirky packaging, I love the way they interact with people on Twitter and through their blog, but most of all, I love that this is the most effective nail polish remover I have ever used. Both the original pink variety and the milder, acetone- free purple bottle whip off even the most stubborn glitters in a flash and are packed full of moisturising and nourishing goodies like essential oils, vitamin E and aloe vera, to boot. 

4. Favourite Nail Polish: Dior Vernis in Pepite Gold Nugget (708)
Dior Vernis Gold Nugget
I love this polish so much I can’t believe I haven’t given it it’s own post. It holds the record for being the only polish I have completely used up and then repurchased. The combination of the bronzey, olive hued colour, sparkly gold shimmer, easy application and long lasting formula means I reach for this time and time again. I plan to add Dior’s Christmas ’10 releases, Timeless Gold and Or Tsarine Czarina Gold, to my collection in the very near future.

5. Favourite Cleanser: Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser
I toy with other cleansers from time to time but I keep coming back to Liz Earle’s gorgeous two step system because it works wonders for my skin. With rosemary, chamomile, eucalyptus and cocoa butter, the cleanser smells divine and leaves my face soft, smooth and very, very clean. The muslin cloths polish and naturally exfoliate my skin. Buying from this company is a real treat, too: everything is carefully and individually packaged and they always throw in a couple of little surprises with your order.

6. Favourite Eye Make Up Remover: Lancome Bi-Facil
Lancome Bi-Facil
Bi-Facil delivers on every promise it makes, gently and effectively removing even the smokiest eye make-up with minimum effort and without the oily residue you get with some other products. Leaves eyes feeling thoroughly cleansed and refreshed. Lovely.

7. Favourite Multiple Use Product: Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant
In the past year I’ve used this product to add gloss to my eyelids, sheen to my cheekbones, soothe sunburnt toes, nourish dry cuticles and elbows, hold eyebrows in place and, most regularly, as a turbo charged lip balm or overnight lip treatment. A handbag essential.

8. Favourite Dry Shampoo: Umberto Giannini Glam Hair Morning After Dry Shampoo

Umberto Giannini Dry Shampoo
2010 was the year I discovered the wonders of dry shampoo -- a product I love, not for its hair cleaning properties, but for its volumising effects. Like other dry shampoos, you spray this onto the roots, leave for a few minutes and then rub through with your fingers. Unlike other dry shampoos, it doesn’t leave a white residue or lend a decidedly grey hue to my dark locks. It gives lift and volume without drying out my hair or looking too obviously like I’m wearing half a can of dry shampoo.

9. Favourite Facial Astringent/Toner: Clinique Clarifying Lotion #2 
For whatever reason, I don’t tend to use a lot of Clinique products but I like to have a bottle of this on hand. I’m not entirely sure whether this is a toner, an exfoliator, a ‘facial astringent’ or any of the above, but they call it ‘the difference maker’ and they’re right. If my skin is playing up I add this into my beauty routine and it helps clear up any breakouts, quick sharp.

10. Favourite Bronzer/Highlighter: Benefit 10

Last but not least, this pretty highlighter/bronzer duo has found its way into my everyday routine. Ditching the brush it came with, I use a fluffy powder brush to contour my cheeks with the bronzer and sweep the pale pink highlighter powder on my cheekbones and temples. I finish with a pop of bright pink cream blusher on the apples of my cheeks and feel considerably more polished as a result.

So there you have it, my top ten of twenty-ten. What do you reckon, have you tried any of these products and did you love ‘em as much as I did?

*Post title: Lyric from Annie, ‘Greatest Hit’. Here, give it a whirl:

05 January 2011

2010, my year in beauty: “Looking back, over my shoulder”*

2010 saw a few changes in my beauty habits, preferences and regime. As I’ve already written about my personal resolutions, of sorts, I thought I’d use my very first post of the new year to reflect on some of the changes ushered in by the old one.  But before I get to that, I want to say a big thank you to everyone who took the time to read and comment on my blog last year and to wish you every good thing for the year ahead.

Before I get all soppy on you, here are the main things I did differently last year. 

Just browsing…

Janet Leigh's wonderful eyebrows as Marion Crane, Psycho
In 2010 I became increasingly obsessed with my eyebrows. I had a growing suspicion that I was guilty of that cardinal beauty sin, over-plucking, and became hyper aware of other people’s lush, full brows. At Pscyho Live in the National Concert Hall I found it hard to concentrate on anything other than the lovely thick eyebrows of the leading ladies. I’m unable to distinguish whether I genuinely love Fade Street or am just addicted to Louise’s excellent eyebrows. And my guilty pleasure was watching Cher Lloyd on X Factor and feeling secretly smug that my brows were, at least, significantly better than hers were.

good brows

bad brows

And now, thanks to this fabulous little Clarins kit I got for Christmas (thanks Mum), I can indulge my obsession to my heart’s content and spend hours fashioning bolder, fuller eyebrows that properly frame my face. I’ll do a little review of it soon.

Read my lips…

2010 was also the year I moved away from gloopy, girlish lipgloss and back towards proper, grown up lipstick, which I’d stopped wearing some time around the mid 1990’s. I vividly recall the joy I felt on receiving my first ever tubes of lipstick one Christmas, Rimmel’s coffee and heather shimmers, unprecedented (the joy, not the lipsticks!) until I found Tom Ford’s Private Blend Lip Colour in Cherry Lush under the tree this year.  

This gorgeous tasting, creamy and super-pigmented lipstick is everything I’d hoped for, but is definitely on the pricy side at around €45. On the more affordable side of the spectrum I also fell for theBalm’s Read My Lips lipstick in Classified (a sheer beige nude) and Wanted (a sheer deep red) which are packed full of nourishing, hydrating ingredients and go on more like a tinted balm than a full-on lip colour. (And theBalm has now definitely landed at A-Wear on Grafton Street.)

Lightening up…

I also developed a bit of an obsession with various radiance boosting lotions and potions which I hoped would give me back my 16-year-old skin. They didn’t, you’ll be shocked to hear, but some of them did make a difference…though not enough to justify the extra time and money they required. The search continues…

Shopping around…

Last year I set off on a number of missions to find my HG products. (That’s Holy Grail, to save you, like me, having to google what on earth those letters mean on the beauty blogs). There was the hunt for the perfect mascara and my ongoing searches for the perfect hair oil/serum and foundation. I shopped around, did my research, asked for samples and personal recommendations, and was generally much better informed before I parted with my hard-earned cash money. That’s definitely something I plan to keep up in 2011 and, of course, I plan to blog all about my experiences and the products and services that do and don’t tick my boxes.

Here’s to 2011 -- a new year, new start and new make-up!

* Post title: Lyric from Mike & The Mechanics, ‘Over My Shoulder’