26 May 2011

Talking Tooth and Nail: 5 minutes with Dana Caruso, Sally Hansen's Global Beauty Expert

The glamorous Ms Caruso herself
Last week I wrote about Sally Hansen’s Complete Salon Manicure and promised to tell you what I learned from chatting to Sally’s Global Beauty Expert, Dana Caruso, at the launch. 
Available from June, this manicure-in-a-bottle combines base and top-coat, strengthening and growth treatment and one of 36 gorgeous shades, all in one stylish, square-bottomed bottle.
It almost sounds too good to be true, so I asked Dana, who founded the Long Island Nail & Skin Care Institute and has been working with Sally Hansen for the last 12 years, what sets this range apart. In her opinion it’s a combination of three things: ease of application, thanks to the extra wide, tapered brush and the fact that you don’t need a separate base or topcoat; high quality ingredients, including coral calcium, sea mineral complex, pearl protein and marine kelp; and fashioned inspired colours – all combining to deliver as close to a salon-perfect manicure as you’re likely to achieve at home.
Dana has been involved in the nails industry since 1987, and has seen a radical shift in that time. When she started out, 70% of the market in the US was artificial nails: that figure has fallen to 10-12%, and the demand now is for a natural, healthy nail that still looks great, and doesn't require a professional to create. Enter Complete Salon Manicure.
Being that long in the industry, Dana knows all sorts of interesting little nuggets…like the fact that the nail industry is actually derived from the dental industry! Some bright spark observed the process of using acrylics to make false teeth and veneers, wondered if it would work on nails and hey presto, the manicure industry was born. Testament to this fact is the history of OPI –it stands for Odontorium Products Inc. and originally sold dentures and lab equipment. I kid you not.
Dana also confirmed what I’d suspected for a while: that when it comes to our nails, in Ireland we’re ahead of the curve. She predicted that globally, topcoats are going to be huge – glitters, crackles and other textures – essentially, what we’ve all been going mad for here over the past couple of years.
But the real hot trend, she thinks, is individuality: using mixing and matching, nail art and designer colours to create your own unique style. The most unusual look she’s seen recently was in Canada, where the half-moon was left entirely natural and the rest of the nail coated in a sheer jelly.
And her favourite colour in the new Sally Hansen line? That would be the same as mine, actually: Commander In Chic, a gorgeous purplish taupe that I’m actually just about to stick on my own nails.  I really want to try the range out properly before I share my thoughts, so watch this space…

25 May 2011

Brow Know-How: Threading at Elysian Brows

Elysian Brows on Dawson Street, Dublin
When the reality of the recession started to bite, I - like a lot of other women I know - started to experiment with DIY. Nothing to do with paintbrushes or power tools (heaven forfend!), but DIY of the beauty kind. I’ve attempted a range of home treatment alternatives to expensive salon visits, from home dye kits to facials to manicures, but a recent visit to Elysian Brows has persuaded me that there are some things that are best left to the professionals.

Located at 21 Dawson Street, just a few doors up from the Mansion House, Elysian Brows boasts a gorgeously feminine interior that feels seriously luxe, complete with chandeliers, sparkly tiles and pretty throw cushions. Owner Libby Ryan trained with Beverly Hills brow expert Anastasia Soare, who has shaped the brows of a host of Hollywood celebs from Jennifer Lopez to Kim Kardashian and The Hills’ Kristin Cavallari - -- and Elysian Brows is the sole Irish stockist of Anastasia’s brow care range.
Libby’s philosophy is that all eyebrows look best when kept natural and as full as possible and that, when shaped correctly, brows can dramatically enhance our appearance. My consultation confirmed what I’d suspected: my brows are thin and over-plucked, and I haven’t been filling them in to the optimum shape for my face.  Libby pointed out the differences in my brows - one is naturally fuller, while the other has a better natural shape – and stressed that brows shouldn’t be identical but sisters, not twins.
Though they also offer tweezing, Elysian Brows recommend threading for perfectly sculpted eyebrows. I’ve had this done before so I was anticipating the unusual prickly and ticklish sensation. The experience was quick and relatively painless – there was a little bit of discomfort, but this was mostly due to the very bright light shining in my face throughout; a necessary evil. Libby finished by filling out my brows with a pencil and conditioning gel and explained that while powder gives a softer finish, pencil works better on bare skin.  
And the results? I looked instantly more groomed with fuller, defined but natural looking eyebrows. In work the next day I was complimented separately on my tan and my new haircut and asked had I been away, when my eyebrows were the only thing I’d changed. 
Threading at Elysian Brows costs €30 with an initial consultation and €20 thereafter.  Most people will need a touch up every 4-6 weeks, so this strikes me as pretty good value for the service provided and results achieved.
Libby has kindly promised to share her considerable brow know-how and I’ll shortly be posting her top ten tips for beautiful brows. For now, I'll leave you with this slightly scary before and after picture...
Goes without saying really but the before pic is on top; excuse the redness in the after shot, it went away after a few minutes!

20 May 2011

Fluffy little pick of the week: Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure

Ok, so, I know I’ve missed a week or two but this week’s pick is a little beauty and makes up for any temporary lapse in fluffy POTW services. As someone who adores a flash of colour on her nails but hates the whole process of getting it on there and never gets even close to a professional salon finish at home, I was SUPER excited to hear about the launch of this new Sally Hansen product. The new Complete Salon Manicure is hailed as a technological breakthrough in nail colour and care and combines – wait for it, now – a base and top-coat, strengthening and growth treatment and salon-inspired colour, all in one, generous sized, 14.7 ml bottle. How fantastic does that sound?! No more faffing around with separate base and top coats, no more misjudging the drying time and ending up with pesky little air bubbles (surely that’s not just me?!) and no more stained nails when you try to cut corners and skip out the base coat stage. And the best part is that the range, which promises advanced wear, care and shine for up to 10 days, is to my eyes an absolute bargain in Ireland at only €8.95 as it’s packed full of pricey ingredients with a patented, cutting-edge formula. I love, love, love it and will be back to tell you all about how it wears on my nails -- and what I learned from expert manicurist Dana Carusso, who’s in Ireland to tell people all about the product.

There are a whopping 36 salon-inspired shades in the range and I’ll tell you more about them later, too, but below we have 2 of the best sellers, and my personal favourites, Kook-a-Mango and Commander in Chic, along with the very on-trend Yellow Kitty.
What do you think, do you like the sound of it so far?

19 May 2011

A certain vintage: a hen night with a difference at Ashby Hair Lounge, Belfast

My friend Lola is one seriously classy broad.  Her fondness for flagons of cider aside, this girl is effortlessly chic, with her own individual taste and style.  She’s also kind and warm and funny as hell, and she knows how to show a gal a good time. So we were expecting big things from her hen party in Belfast last weekend - and Lola’s gorgeous sisters did her proud, with not an L-plate in sight. Instead, we enjoyed a glamorous vintage-themed day packed full of fun events like a cupcake party, spa treatments and dinner at Berts Jazz Evening in the Merchant Hotel.

The cute surrounds of the Ashby Hair Lounge with owner & vintage style queen, Kelly. Photo by http://www.ryanwilsonphoto.com/
The icing on the cake, of course, was the fabulous vintage makeover session at Ashby Hair Lounge. The girls were fresh from an appearance on the telly where they worked their magic at the Balmoral Show in the King’s Hall. These ladies really know their stuff and they work together on different editorial shoots, TV appearances and, of course, vintage styled weddings and hen parties. From my own wedding a couple of years ago I know there’s a definite gap in the market for elegant, affordable hen options in Dublin but the good news is, they’re prepared to travel. For a seriously stylish wedding or hen party, get in touch through the Facebook page or drop them a line at thevintagebride@hotmail.co.uk.

Style through the decades: clockwise from top left, Elle as a 1920s belle, the blushing bride in full on 1940s glamour, Jean as a 50s fox and me in 60s style.
Lola - I’m counting the days till the wedding!

18 May 2011

Ding ding round two, the dot conf's back...

If you like events, free stuff and the interwebs, then you need to be at National College of Ireland on June 2nd for the dot conf. The speakers were announced yesterday for this one day event, aimed at Ireland’s internet community and taking place at the college’s IFSC campus in Dublin. Before I go on I’m declaring a vested interest in this event so perhaps I’m a little biased, but I think it’s gonna ROCK. And did I mention it’s completely free?
The speakers’ line-up was announced through this all-singing, all-dancing Lego video on YouTube, and the full running order is up now on the event blog. This is not your average conference: the dot conf has a creative community vibe and showcases local innovators in the web and digital fields. Learn to embrace failure, unleash your creative potential and hear great stories from some of Ireland's most interesting online players.
The keynote speaker is Limerick man John Collison who in 2008, aged 17, sold the company he founded with his brother Patrick (Auctomatic) for $5 million. The Collison brothers recently announced details of their new payments startup Stripe, which has received backing from PayPal founders Peter Thiel and Elon Musk and is already valued at more than $20 million.
Also featuring in the video and the day will be the fierce and fabulous Rosemary Mac Cabe; veteran web designer and blogger Sabrina Dent; Lisa Domican, creator of Grace app for autism; journalist and recovering archaeologist Jane Ruffino and Donal McGuinness, CEO of Zapa Technology. Other speakers include Odhran Ginnity, COO of Distilled Media, whose brands include Daft.ie, Boards.ie and TheJournal.ie; Colm Lyon, CEO of Realex Payments; Philip Nolan, partner at Irish business law firm Mason Hayes+Curran; John Kennedy, Editor of Silicon Republic and Paul Rellis, MD of Microsoft Ireland.
Sunday Business Post technology writer Adrian Weckler will chair a panel discussion on the future of technology in Ireland, and Hugh Linehan, online editor of The Irish Times, will be Master of Ceremonies for the day.
Book your free place online through the event blog, or follow the dot conf on twitter or Facebook for updates. But be quick, now: when they're gone, they're gone.

13 May 2011

GOSH Light’N Shine Lip Glaze Review and Giveaway

Though I’m more of a lipstick girl these days, there will always be room in my heart and my handbag for a lovely tube of gloss – especially as we head into summer and, hopefully, holiday season! Along with suncream, tinted moisturiser and waterproof mascara, a nice sparkly gloss has always been a staple of my holiday kit so I was chuffed to receive a recent package with not one, not two but three gorgeous GOSH glosses from their lovely PR folks – and I’m sharing the love.  I’ve reviewed shade 04, Rosa, and read on to win either shade no 1, White,  a clear glaze with fine iridescent glitter,  or 03, Soft Rosa, which is a sparkly peachy pink.

Clockwise from top left: PR shot of the range - White is the first gloss pictured and Soft Rosa the third; shade 04, Rosa, in its packaging - peel off that sticker to reveal the handy little mirror; here's the light and mirror in all their glory; swatches and a close up of the brush applicator. Click on the image to enlarge.
Rosa is a pretty pink gloss with tiny little glitter particles, mostly purple and pink. It’s a high shine product with good staying power for a gloss, and despite being packed full of sparkle and shine it doesn’t feel sticky or gritty on the lips. There’s a pleasant, vanilla taste and scent and a nice brush applicator - but what really sets it apart is the clever packaging. An inbuilt light and mirror make this a very handy little gloss indeed, and perfect for popping (or in my case, jamming) into a clutch before a night on the tiles.

The light-up lid invites obvious comparisons with the Liparazzi glosses. I haven’t tried these, but they’re currently €18.37 on asos so, at about €12.99 in
Ireland, the GOSH lip glazes seem like a better value proposition. There are 6 shades which you can pick up at Superdrug or A-wear or, of course, you can enter my little giveaway to win one of the two shades described above. Just leave a comment below to say which one you’d prefer, and sign up to get fluff and fripperies by email (there’s a little box up there on the right hand side of the blog). Easy peasy! Now what are you waiting for?

Check out GOSH on Facebook for giveaways, product news and more.  And sure while you’re at it, fluff and fripperies is on Facebook an’ all ;)

07 May 2011

Review of Kiehl’s Lip Balm with SPF 15 in Hue No. 30G

I'm sure you can work this out but just in case: product shot on the left; blobbed and sheered out on my hand on the right!
A while back I showed you the box of Kiehl’s goodies I got from my wonderful friend Joanne, and promised you some reviews.  Because my lips were feeling incredibly dry, the product I reached for first was this tinted lip balm with SPF.

You get 15ml of petroleum-based balm in a little white tube, which is actually a fair amount of product. You can apply directly from the tube to your lips using the slanted applicator, but I generally squeeze a wee blob onto my fingers first.

This is a product that’s pleasant to use, with a lovely sweet scent and taste - although, strangely, I do think the taste changes once it’s been on your lips for a while, and becomes more  ‘medicinal’ … I’d be interested to know if anyone else found this or if I’m completely imagining things.

Despite my best intentions of saving this for my holiday in about a month’s time, I’ve been reaching for it on an almost daily basis. I stash it in my jacket pocket or handbag and find it lovely and moisturising, with a very subtle colour – it looks red in the tube, but just gives a barely-there gleam to the lips, with no stickiness.

It leaves my lips feeling soft and protected and instantly relieves my chapped lips. And with SPF 15, this would be a great beach or poolside pick – a theory I’m planning to test, if I can just leave it alone until then!

05 May 2011

Review of Clairol Perfect 10 Nice 'n Easy Hair Colour

The shade I used, Light Golden Brown
It’s been a long, long time since I used a home dye kit on my hair. Scarred by memories of stained sinks, baths, towels, floor tiles and various body parts, I’ve steered clear since I got my own place and actually cared about the state of the bathroom. But dire economic straits and an increasingly greying barnett have forced me to reconsider and, this weekend, I picked up a box of Clairol Perfect 10 Nice ‘n Easy.

I was lured in by promises of rich, high gloss hair colour in just 10 minutes – and the price-tag, a mere €9.25 from Boots in the Jervis Centre, served to seal the deal.

The process was actually something of a revelation. Home colour has come on in leaps and bounds since the last time I experimented, and for me, this was a quick and painless experience. I say for me, because my glamorous assistant, let’s call him Mr. Fluff, may beg to differ. Perhaps he had to put up with some overenthusiastic ‘directing’ on my part, but we can’t blame the product for that. And it behaved impeccably – no drips, no staining, no nasty smells, and it was all refreshingly quick and easy.

Pack contents

Application wise, you mix up the colour and whack it on using the comb shaped applicator. Leave for 10 minutes, then rinse and use the conditioner provided. You get enough applications of this to use once a week for 6 weeks. I was left with soft, glossy, medium brown hair (it turned out about a shade darker than I expected) but, sadly, it didn’t cover all my greys. It got most of ‘em, but some of those stubborn bad boys are hanging on in there. My hairdresser told me before that hair can become resistant to dye, so I’m reluctant to blame the product. I plan on repurchasing and only covering my roots the next time, so I’ll let you know how I get on then.  

04 May 2011

The best argument EVER to reach for the bleach: Emilia Clarke in new series, Game of Thrones

Not since Ms Monroe herself has a woman rocked the platinum blonde look so hard. I predict big things for relative unknown Emilia Clarke who is shining bright in new HBO series, Game of Thrones – thanks, largely, to her blindingly white-blonde tresses. Emilia’s transformation from pretty girl next door to breath-taking, ethereal beauty Daenerys Targaryen (look, it's medieval fantasy, what did you expect?!)– via half a gallon of peroxide – is stunning and the best argument I’ve ever seen to reach for the bleach.


...and after. Maybe blondes DO have more fun!

Game of Thrones is showing now on Sky Atlantic.

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03 May 2011

Launch of The Body Shop Honey Bronze collection


Just when I thought I couldn’t love Karim Sattar, The Body Shop's International Make Up Artist, any more, he goes and brings out the big guns: his mother. The adorable German make up maestro was in town last week to launch the Body Shop’s Summer Trend collection, Honey Bronze, and he brought his mum along for the ride.

Karim put the new collection through its paces by demonstrating the products on both his lovely mother and on 20-something model, Lucy, and gave us a few pearls of wisdom as he went along – like the recipe for his own natural facemask, a simple mixture of honey, lemon and yogurt that Karim uses weekly.

L-R Shimmering Dry Oil (€25.95), Brilliance Powder (€25.95), Bronzing Gel for Face (€18), Lip Nectar in Honeycomb, a shimmering caramel-nude, and Honey Bunch, an on-trend coral (€14.50 each) and Bronzing Powder (€20.50), available in 4 shades.
The Honey Bronze collection comprises five moisturising pieces with bee-friendly, Community Fair Trade honey and beeswax.  The products also contain other natural moisturisers like Fair Trade marula and brazil nut oils, which Karim explained helped the products to go on smoothly with no patchiness – even when combining powders and creams.

Now generally speaking I’m a little wary of bronzer because it’s so easy to go over-the-top, so I was delighted that the looks Karim created were all about very natural, sun-kissed beauty.

He started and finished each look with a spritz of the Body Shop’s Vitamin E face mist, before applying the Honey Bronze products with a lovely light touch. The range includes Honey Bronze Shimmering Dry Oil, Brilliance Powder, Bronzing Gel For Face, Lip Nectar and Bronzing Powder - all pictured above.

Crowd shot from the launch event
I was interested to see him apply both the dry oil and the facial gel with a brush, which I didn’t expect, and in the way he applied the Body Shop’s lip stain to the inner rims of the lips before gloss.  Other tips included using the shimmery Honey Bronze Brilliance Powder over the hair for subtle sparkle, while the matte Bronzing Powder was suggested to mask a graying hairline.

We were given a lovely goody bag to take away and I’ve had a lot of fun trying out the products. The Bronzing Powder has been getting daily use to shade and contour (I got shade #4, the darkest), and I’m building up the courage to slap on a bit of the gorgeous looking Dry Oil in the very near future. 

Photos courtesy of The Body Shop