30 December 2011

Decisions, decisions...

The approach of New Year’s Eve always heralds some difficult decisions. No, I’m not talking about resolutions, but about something much more important: which sparkly nail polish will be worn to ring in the bells! I’m deliberating between my five favourite party polishes for the perfect New Year’s nails -- let me know if you have a favourite! From left to right we have:

ONE I’ve already sung the praises of China Glaze Ruby Pumps in this post and it’s pretty much the perfect festive sparkly red glitter. Just stunning. 

TWO Catrice I Wear My Sunglasses At Night is a too-cool-for-school black creme with tiny sparkly flecks in aqua and fuchsia that just peep through the dark base. The polish is a little on the thick side, but I love it anyway.
THREE I’m mad about Dior’s Gold Nugget: this shimmery goldy/bronzey/olivey colour changes with the light and is so easy to work with. Perfect opacity in two coats
FOUR Violetta Sparkle is one of four fab polishes from Avon’s Holiday Sequins and Shine collection and is a beautiful deep purple with coppery gold flakes. I love this colour combination and for a glitter polish, think this manages to be surprisingly elegant.

FIVE A rockstar of a nail polish, Revlon Facets of Fuchsia combines a dark and moody base colour with a flash of bright twinkling purple glitter. You can see it on my nails in this Nail Of The Day post.
Thoughts? And what will you be rocking to ring in the bells this year?

29 December 2011

Review of Liz Earle Deep Cleansing Mask

I don't know about you, but my skin is not at its best around the festive season. Late nights and excessive...well, excessive everything, can leave it feeling decidedly out of sorts. Luckily I've got a secret weapon with this deep cleansing mask from Liz Earle. Ok, so it doesn't look pretty -- himself calls me the creature from the black lagoon -- but this highly concentrated mask with  green-and-white clay, honey and aloe vera works wonders to soothe and clear my skin. Draws out impurities -- so don't use just before a big night out -- while toning and balancing.  The product comes with two handy little sponges that make removal a doddle. Sadly I've just used the last of mine (sob!) but, at €15 for 75 ml I'll be re-ordering after my January payday!

Buy Liz Earle online or from Wilde & Green in Milltown, Dublin 6.

28 December 2011

Review of Emma Hardie Amazing Face Professional Cleansing System

I've heard great things about Emma Hardie's range of products, so back in October I was delighted to win the Amazing Face Professional Cleansing System from Karen at Lovely Girlie Bits.  The set is comprised of a thick, luxurious cleansing balm that has been compared to Eve Lom's acclaimed cleanser, a dual sided micro fibre cloth and a small tub of exfoliating rosehip seeds.  

Some cleansers -- especially the ones you use with cotton wool -- can feel like a chore but the Moringa Cleansing Balm is one of those products that's just a treat to use. It smells and feels wonderful with its mix of moringa seeds, wild sea fennel, vitamin E and a blend of orange, neroli, mandarin, jasmine and rose. I use it in the evenings to remove my makeup: I scoop out some product, warm it in my hands, add a drop of water to emulsify and apply to the face. The damp microfibre cloth is used to remove the balm -- along with every shred of makeup. The cloth feels rougher on my skin than the Liz Earle muslins I'm used to, but I like it a lot -- it makes me feel like it's doing a really thorough job of cleaning out my pores and polishing my skin. And once a week I supplement that by adding a pinch of rosehip seeds to the balm, to exfoliate.

I have to say, it all seems to be doing the trick. At this time of the year I normally have a few dry patches but those are conspicuous by their absence. My skin feels soft and supple and hydrated, although the congestion around my chin doesn't seem to be going anywhere fast.

The packaging is the only part I'm not mad about. I loved the classy little pot to start off with, but it doesn't travel well; after coming to Scotland in my suitcase, it ended up with a cracked lid and with product trapped inside the outer casing. And I like to keep my exfoliating scrubs in the shower, but this little pot is too footery to use that way. But these are minor quibbles and the packaging doesn't really matter when what's inside it is so very, very good.

The Emma Hardie Professional Cleansing System comes in at €49.99 and includes 100 ml of the Moringa Balm, 10 g of the Rosehip Exfoliating Seeds and a dual sided micro fibre cloth. The balm alone is €39.99. A scrub (€59) and body butter (€54) have recently been added to the range; they're currently exclusive to Arnotts and will be available in Space NK, Dundrum, from January.

27 December 2011

Beauty Booty!

I've been very lucky this Christmas. Being a beauty obsessive, my lovely friends and family have gifted me with some gorgeous makeup related items. If you're reading this blog, you probably share my obsession so I thought you might like to take a look!

In the top right corner, that stunning floral palette is the NARS Hanamichi eyeshadow palette, part of the brand's Modern Kabuki Holiday 2011 collection. It comes with that lovely fluffy brush you see pictured. It's almost too pretty to use, but I'll manage!

I also love this set of three make up bags from Fossil, in the Kilkenny Design Centre. That bird pattern is just adorable, and I'm always in need of storage solutions for my ever expanding collection!

As a massive fan of eyeliner felt tip pens, I'm so excited about using this YSL Eyeliner Automatique Effet Faux Cils. Sali Hughes, beauty writer for The Guardian, tipped it as her number one pick in a recent column.

And last but not least, I could not have been happier to open up my Kris Kindle gift this year (I do this annually with a group of friends) to find my favourite MAC eyeshadow, Sumptuous Olive. Gorgeous!

Did Santa bring you any beauty booty this year? What was your favourite makeup or skincare related gift? Share it in the comments!

26 December 2011

More! Magazine's Triple Tested Feature: Volumising Hair Powders

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas day and are continuing on with the festivities! I doubt many of you will be venturing out today but if you do come across a copy of More! magazine, do me a favour and check out the Triple Tested feature, would ya? As part of the mag's Hot 100 beauty panel I was asked to put three volumising hair powders through their paces. All going to plan, the piece should feature in the issue out today.   

Here's what I had to say:
ONE Lee Stafford Matt Fat Hair Powder: I immediately fell for the name, the hot pink packaging and the ‘salt-shaker’ type dispenser. Sadly, that’s where the love affair ended. The product didn’t absorb into my roots as intended, but sat quite visibly on top -- giving an unfortunate dandruff effect.  No change in volume or texture, either. Disappointing.

TWO TRESemmé Sky High Plumping Powder: Excessive cardboard packaging, but of the three products this delivered the best results on my hair in terms of volume, body and texture. This also absorbed excess oil, like a dry shampoo. Thumbs up from me.

THREE Aveda Pure Abundance Hair Potion: Billed as a powder-to-liquid formula, perhaps there’s a knack to this product that I didn’t quite get. My roots felt sticky, like they’d been doused in hairspray, and instead of refreshed or volumised, my hair just looked messy. This could be a result of using too much product, but I found it hard to control the amount dispensed.

My overall verdict is that none of these powders performed as well as a plain old dry shampoo. I'll use the TRESemmé powder till it's done, but after that it's back to Batiste for me!

Have you tried any of these hair powders and what was your verdict?

23 December 2011

An early Christmas present: the best Christmas song in the world, ever!

I’m heading home for Christmas today, but here’s my early Christmas present to you all: the best Christmas song in the world ever,  it's The Ramones with Merry Christmas (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight). The video is a bit dodgy, but it was 1989, and will hopefully make you smile. Enjoy! 

22 December 2011

Eyeshadow Primers: Benefit Stay Don't Stray, Essence I Love Stage and Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion

Primers are a product I have only really started to experiment with in the past year. Eyeshadow primers in particular are a step I often skip as, unless you have really oily eyelids, which I don't, I don't consider them an essential. But recently I've picked up this trio of products so I thought I'd put them to the test and report back on how I got on.

To kick things off, I wore Essence I Love Stage on one eye, and Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion on the other. The Essence one is the latest primer on the block, and is cheap as chips at just €2.99. The Urban Decay primer is a much lauded cult classic -- I've got a mini version that came with the Naked Palette, but the full sized version is around €20.

I applied one to each eye at around 7am and applied my makeup as usual. Repeated checks throughout the day told me that both products were doing a good job at keeping my eyeshadow in place without creasing. By the time I removed my makeup that evening, there was no discernible difference to either eye.

I repeated this the next day but this time, headed out straight after work. This time, when I went to remove my makeup at around 11pm, I saw that my eyeshadow had creased on the Essence eye. This was after around 16 hours wear though, so I can't complain too much. However, the Urban Decay eye was still flawless. 

I tried the same experiment with Essence on one eye and Benefit Stay Don't Stray on the other. At €27, this is the most expensive product of the three. I was surprised then to see that, at around 8pm that evening, the Essence eye remained intact and creaseless, while the Benefit eye displayed slight creasing.

What all this taught me was that, with primers, as with so many beauty products, price is  no indicator of quality. In a normal day, the Essence product was just as effective as the market leading Urban Decay, and performed better on me than the Benefit product at around ten times the price. Where Urban Decay came into its own was in keeping my eyeshadow in place for a very, very long time. I will continue to use the Essence product day-to-day and use Urban Decay for when I know I'll be heading out straight from work.

None of the three impacted on the colour pay-off or vibrancy of my eyeshadow but this could be because I used them with matte, neutral shades. I will experiment with these products under brighter, bolder shades and let you know how I fare.

Do you use an eyeshadow primer and what products do you rate?

21 December 2011

Treatment Tales: Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Laser Skin Rejuvenation Treatment at The Hospital Group

Taken the following day, these images show you the after effect of the treatment on my freckles and pigmentation; that's my sun spot in the top right shot, which has now faded considerably!

Yesterday I showed you the results of my Fire and Ice treatment at The Hospital Group, and today I want to tell you about my experiences with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). Creams, lotions and potions can only do so much and laser treatments are increasingly popular, targetting a host of skin complaints from loss of texture and tightness to fine lines and wrinkles, pore size, redness and other signs of aging. I was most concerned about skin pigmentation/discolouration, particularly a large sun spot, and I also hoped to tackle the perma-congestion around my chin.

IPL works by heating the cells to stimulate production of collagen within the skin and while a series of treatments is advised to build up maximum impact, I achieved noticeable and impressive results with just one treatment. But I won’t lie: when I was offered the chance to try this treatment, I thought long and hard about it. I’d heard IPL can be painful, and worried about how my skin would react. These worries weren’t helped by the fact that I developed a slight (probably unrelated) rash after the first patch test, so my very patient laser practitioner, Jenny, administered a second one just to be sure. Everything was fine, and we forged ahead.

The procedure itself wasn’t painful, but involved intense bursts of heat and light that made me flinch a little around my nose and lip. It was slightly uncomfortable, but tolerable. The sensation has been compared to a rubber band being snapped repeatedly against your face. It’s quick, though, and my entire face was treated in around 10 minutes.

Immediately afterwards, my face felt warm, tight and a little irritated. Jenny smoothed on some aloe vera gel which gave me instant relief, but my skin continued to feel tight for a few hours. Straight away, my freckles started to darken quite dramatically: while this is a good sign, meaning the treatment worked on my pigmentation, it looked terrible, like a rash or bad acne. I was glad I’d had it administered on a Saturday, which gave me a day to hide out while the marks faded.

The following morning -- a miracle! The congestion on one side of my chin had mysteriously vanished, although a couple of small pimples had appeared on the other side. My freckles looked less angry and red, and more like very dark brown marks (see pics, above).

By Monday, I was able to cover up with La Roche Posay’s excellent compact for sensitive skin and the marks were barely noticeable; by the end of that week, they had faded entirely. And, so had my sun spot! Well, almost: it's gone from being very obvious and dark in colour to being barely noticeable at all. You will see it if you’re looking for it, but I am much less conscious of it being there and my confidence has increased as a result. The treatment has also fixed the congestion around my chin but, strangely, only on one side -- there are still a few lumps and bumps on the other. I have no doubt that further treatments would be of great benefit and, if it wasn’t for the expense of Christmas, I’d already have booked myself in.

An IPL Laser Skin Rejuvenation Treatment costs from €90 per session at The Hospital Group; typically a course of 4-6 treatments is advised, although this will be worked out as part of your initial consultation. Check out the website or call 1850 20 40 90 to book an appointment at your nearest clinic.

20 December 2011

Treatment Tales: Fire and Ice Treatment at The Hospital Group

Excuse scary 'no makeup' images!

I was recently invited to try an Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment at The Hospital Group and, before this session, a Fire and Ice facial was recommended to prepare my skin. I was hugely impressed with the results and thought the most effective way of describing it would be showing you these before and after pictures, taken in the Kildare Street Clinic in Dublin. The group also has clinics in Cork, Galway and Belfast as well as a network of 20 clinics across the UK and more than 10 in Spain.

Using iS Clinical products, an American, results-oriented cosmeceuticals brand, the Fire and Ice facial is reportedly popular with Hollywood stars including Halle Berry and Gwyneth Paltrow, and is known in LA as the 'Red Carpet Treatment'.  While described as a facial, it's worlds away from whatever relaxing spa treatment that name might conjure up. The experience feels more like a medical procedure, as befits an intensive clinical treatment that's designed to resurface the skin, reduce fine lines and wrinkles and encourage cellular renewal. It's said to bridge the gap between salon facials and chemical peels, providing immediate and impressive results with no down-time.
This is a two phase facial: after cleansing, the Fire treatment is applied. This is basically a mild glycolic peel that resurfaces the skin: as well as glycolic acid, it contains retinol, citric acid, vitamin B3 and antioxidants. True to the name, it feels warm on the skin and tingles as it's left on for about 5 minutes. To me, it smells like cinnamon.

It's followed by the 'Ice', a rejuvenating masque that cools, soothes and hydrates. The main ingredients are hyaluronic acid, aloe vera gel and extracts of  Japanese green tea, licorice grape seed and rosemary.  This tingles too, and smells like mint. 
This treatment had the most dramatic, immediate results I've ever seen. The whole procedure takes about 20 minutes and afterwards, I saw an instant improvement in my skin. It felt plumped up and was noticably softer and smoother than before. I definitely felt I looked younger and fresher, and gratifyingly, I got a lot of compliments in the few days after the treatment.

There were no downsides -- I didn't experience any redness or flaking, just instant results that last for around 4-5 days, during which time I can't stop stroking my face! I'd highly recommend this for a big event or special occasion and, judging by these results, the iS Clinical skincare range definitely merits further investigation too.

The Fire and Ice Facial is usually priced at €120 but is currently being offered at a 50% discount (a total of €60). I wish I'd known that before Mr Fluff picked up my Christmas pressie! Check out the website or call 1850 20 40 90 to book an appointment at your nearest clinic.

19 December 2011

Hession Hairdressing: Review and Pictures

Hession Hairdressing celebrate their 40th anniversary this year. Founded in 1971, this Irish family business has become something of a Dublin institution and now has two salons, in Drumcondra and Clontarf. Hession's work is regularly featured in magazines and on TV so I was thrilled to be invited along to experience the flagship salon in Drumcondra.

Hession offers all of the latest hair treatments; one of their newest offerings is the deluxe infusion blow dry by Collexia*, which treats hair while drying it in almost half the standard time. Kate Middleton is said to be a fan of the treatment, which is infused with Keratin, silk proteins and multivitamins to leave hair shiny, nourished and restored.

I didn't try the deluxe infusion blow dry on this occasion but went for a cut and an all-over colour to tidy up my tresses for the Christmas holiday. I was looked after by Yvonne for both, a lovely and talented Galwegian sporting a super chic auburn bob that gave me a serious case of hair envy!

The Hession experience is lovely. All the usual touches are provided, from the much welcome cappucino to the selection of up-to-date Irish and international magazines, along with a few that aren't so usual - like the vibrating massage chairs at the basins.

Yvonne spent a lot of time chatting to me to find out exactly what I was looking for from my colour, and I was delighted with the results. My hair had been looking very flat and dull but is now shiny and healthy. The colour is natural but much more multi dimensional.

You'll find Hession Hairdressing at 108 Upper Drumcondra Road, Drumcondra, Dublin 9 (tel 01 8376265) and at 4 Vernon Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin 3 (tel 01 8330110). You can also book online at www.hessionhairdressing.ie.

*The Deluxe Infusion Blow Dry is €35 at Hession Hairdressing.

16 December 2011

Christmas with Clinique

In the last of my Christmas gift idea posts, I wanted to show you some of the adorable gift sets on offer from Clinique. The brand have really outdone themselves this festive season with a massive range of great value, prettily packaged gifts that include beauty, fragrance, and skincare. Today I’m focusing on makeup, and here are my favourite picks:

Introduced this spring, Clinique's Chubby Sticks were an instant hit and this Chubby Colour and Shine set (above, €40) includes four mini versions of their bestsellers, Woppin' Watermelon, Mega Melon, Super Strawberry and Whole Lotta Honey, in a silver makeup pouch.

Gloss fans will love this Long Last Shine (€25) set featuring four mini longlasting glosses (the brand reckons you’ll get up to 8 hours wear), each with SPF 15. Includes Cabana Crush, Kissyfit, Air Kiss and Fireberry, in a silver makeup bag.

Not sure if your lucky recipient is a gloss, balm or lipstick girl? Have it all with this Mix it up Kisses (€25) gift set, including two 4ml Superbalm Moisturising Glosses in Lilac and Grapefruit, two Mini Different Lipsticks in Raspberry Glaze and Glazed Berry, and two Long Last Glosswear SPF15 in Whisper and Juicy Apple. Comes in a pink makeup bag with a limited edition 'C' Charm Keyring.

Last but not least this High Impact Lashes set (€32) comes with everything you need for party peepers: High Impact Mascara in Black, Cream Shaper For Eyes in Black Diamond and All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage, all housed in a pink makeup bag.

All sets are available at Clinique counters nationwide or from the Clinique website - place your order before 12pm on Tuesday 20th December to ensure it gets there for Christmas!

15 December 2011

Avon Ultra Colour Rich Colordisiac Lipstick in Ravishing Red: Pictures, Review and Swatches!

I really love red lipstick and I own some great varieties, ranging from Tom Ford to Rimmel and lots in between. But much as I love them I'm never entirely comfortable wearing them for a full day or evening: they're all high maintenance, and I fret about them fading irregularly, looking patchy, yellowing/smudging on my teeth or drying out my lips.

Since this little lovely was sent to me, those worries are a thing of the past. I've written about this range before and I find them so easy and comfortable to wear: the formulation is creamy and moisturising and the colours are highly pigmented, so they stick around for a long time and when they do eventually fade, they do so evenly and leave a nice stain. They're just a really nice product. 

This particular shade will suit most colouring -- it's the one Reese is wearing in the campaign imagery, and is a lovely deep red that's as easy and appropriate to wear to the office as it is on a big night out. I'm so pleased I've found it; at last, a low maintenance, reliable red! 

Avon Colordisiac lipsticks come in at €12.75 and are available exclusively through independent sales representatives; you can find yours here.

Do you like red lippie and what's your go-to, tried and trusted product?

14 December 2011

NOTD: China Glaze Ruby Pumps, Review + Swatches

I mentioned this nail polish as part of my guest post on beaut.ie this week. If you haven't read that post you can check it out here -- let me know where you stand on the great glitter debate!

Quite simply, Ruby Pumps by China Glaze is Christmas in a bottle. It's a beautiful sparkly red that dances in the light, evoking all the magic and wonder of Dorothy's slippers. It's much, much prettier on the nail than in the bottle, or in these photos.  

Two coats are all you need and, for a glitter polish, it goes on really smoothly and doesn't feel the least bit gritty. (Getting it off is a different matter, but with glitter, that's par for the course.) I wore this to my Chrismas party last week: festive, flirty and fun; what's not to love?!?

Well, just this: it's kinda hard to come by on Irish shores. You can pick up China Glaze in Sally Hair & Beauty Supplies (there's one on Drury Street in Dublin), but this particular polish is from The Wizard of Ooh Ahz Collection and isn't always available  -- it was first released in 2001 and re-released in 2009 due to popular demand. All's not lost though: you should be able to find it pretty easily online, and Amazon.co.uk are currently selling it for £5.95. If you know where else you can find it, let me know in the comments!

Are you partial to some seasonal sparkle?

13 December 2011

Have yourself a merry Liz Earle Christmas...

Liz Earle just gets things right. Buying from them is so easy and so pleasant that other companies really should take lessons. When you place an order it arrives quickly, beautifully wrapped and invariably with a couple of little surprises popped in for you to try. And their products are just lovely, with the company ethos focusing on high performing, naturally active ingredients.

A couple of days ago Liz's Christmas letter popped into my inbox - it was warm and friendly and informative (and got me excited all over again about what might be in pipeline for Liz Earle Colour next year). But it also spurred me into action by telling me that the last order date for delivery before Christmas is this Thursday, December 15th.  

I won't tell you what I ordered or for whom, just in case they happen to read this post. But I will share a few lovely things that caught my eye, that might help you with your own Christmas purchases.  

First up, this Cleanse and Colour Duo (above) is the perfect combination: the much loved Cleanse & Polish, my favourite cleanser ever, is coupled with this year's smash hit, Liz's Sheer Skin Tint. The latter comes in fair, medium or dark so it should be simple to select a shade, but just in case, samples of each shade will be included to let the wearer try them all before opening full size product. This comes in at €39.25.

This set of Beauty Editors' favourites is intriguing. Recommended by the UK's leading Beauty Editors it contains 7 products to cleanse, tone, moisturise and exfoliate, as well as 2 eyecare products, a headband and 2 of Liz's excellent muslin cloths. At €86.25 this is one for someone very special...

Men can be tricky to buy for, but this set (€43.75) should appeal to most. With two shaving essentials, naturally active Face and Body Wash and a 50ml tube of Hand Repair to protect and moisturise. Comes in Liz Earle for Men’s signature aubergine gift box, gift-wrapped and ready to pop under the tree.

Remember I said it's a pleasure to buy from this company? Here's a little example: spend €80 or more, and they'll pop this in for yourself. Worth over  €31, it includes Cleanse & Polish 30ml, Instant Boost Skin Tonic 50ml, Skin Repair (Dry/Sensitive) 15ml, Superbalm 5g, and Superskin Concentrate 2ml.

Buy Liz Earle online before Thursday 15th December, to arrive for Christmas.

12 December 2011

Just Lashes by Ja'Maal Buster: Review + Pictures

Fluttery lashes courtesy of 'Sold Out Show' Just Lashes by Ja'Maal Buster!

I've only worn false eyelashes a handful of times in my life, and on each occasion they've been applied by a professional. I'm always amazed by the difference they make and have resolved to experiment with them myself for big nights out. So I was both excited and a little bit apprehensive to be sent a few pairs of Just Lashes by Ja’Maal Buster, just in time to try out for my Christmas party.

If you haven't heard of Ja’Maal Buster, he's known as 'the eyelash guru to the stars': when he opened his salon in Dallas, Texas, it was the first dedicated to lash artistry in America and is still, according to Vogue USA, the "country’s best lash salon". He works regularly with Rihanna, and Beyonce reportedly loves his lashes so much that they're the only ones she'll wear. 

The full range of Just Lashes by Ja'Maal Buster

His falsie line is available in five styles with each one retailing at a reasonable €6.95. I say reasonable because they're high quality and can be reused several times -- although not with the glue supplied. The tube comes with a snap-off lid instead of a twisty, reusable applicator and so, despite it being a brilliant product and there being more than enough provided for several applications, I had to bin mine immediately after the first use.

That wee niggle aside, I got on great with these. I wore Sold Out Show to my Christmas party -- this set has fine, fanned out hairs and gives a really dramatic look that at the same time, somehow manages to look quite natural. I stuck them on at my desk and despite being a total klutz and a complete beginner, I managed to get 'em on at my first go. They were comfortable to wear, lasted the night (through rain and gale force winds!) and I absolutely loved the way they looked. I didn't want to take them off!

Just Lashes by Ja’Maal Buster are €6.95 and available from Sam McCauleys, selected chemists and salons countrywide and at www.jamaalbuster.co.uk.  I highly recommend!

Edit: Irish online store Beauty Emporium are currently selling these lashes at just €5 per set, so make sure you check them out!

09 December 2011

Fluffy little Christmas gift ideas: €25 - €35 price bracket

For the last month or so I've been taking careful note of Christmas gift offerings from the beauty brands, to bring you this little list of loveliness. Everything here is in the €25 - €35 price range so should suit most pockets; if you're on a stricter budget or looking for stocking stuffers or secret santa ideas,  make sure you check out this post on fab finds for (mostly) under a fiver.  So from top left, here's what I'm loving:

  • Lancôme do the most fabulous mascaras and this Hypnose Mascara Gift Set also contains a 30 ml bottle of the excellent Bi-Facil eye-makeup remover and a mini Lancôme kohl pencil in black. Choose from the Hypnose Doll Eyes, Hypnose, Hypnose Drama or Hypnose Precious Cells. €25.50, nationwide.
  • Origins skincare has never let me down and this mask duo set, available exclusively from Boots, has everything you need to purify and hydrate partied-out skin. Includes Clear Improvement Active charcoal mask to clear pores and the wonderful Drink Up Intensive Overnight mask, to quench skin’s thirst. €34 (save €7.63), from Boots.
  • LUSH have often come to my rescue at Christmas with their vast array of gorgeous gift-wrapped boxes, at every price point. With so much choice it's hard to pick a favourite but you can't go wrong with Baby, It's Cold Outside, which includes Jilted Elf shower jelly, Snowglobe soap, Australian igloo sugar scrub, Sparkle toothy tabs and Glogg shower gel -- all at a very reasonable €23.75.
  • Liz Earle still have me swooning for their heavenly handwash and this Christmas you can spread that loving feeling by gifting someone their Hard Working Hands Set. Contains Orange Flower Hand Wash along with Hand Repair handcream, which soothes and smoothes with natural source vitamin E. €33.50, online or from Wilde and Greene, in Milltown, Dublin 6.
  • Roger&Gallet is the number one perfume brand in French pharmacies and their Huile Sublime, a perfumed dry oil for use on the body, hair and face, is fragranced with the brand's best selling Bois d'Orange. This Christmas it comes as part of a lovely set which also includes a 35g scented candle, for €25.00. Or opt for a full-sized limited edition candle with 6o hours burn time, in Fleur d’Osmanthus (mandarin, orange zest, osmanthus and sandalwood) or Sublime Bois d’Orange (orange blossom, jasmine and Atlas cedar), for €22.50.
  • Not into gift sets? Lovers of luxe, high-end beauty products will love you too if you present them with any one of the following: a stunningly gorgeous YSL Rouge Volupte lipstick, or one of the new Rouge Pur Couture Golden Lustre lippies (both €31); any of the Chanel Illusion D'ombre long-wear luminous eyeshadows (€28 each), or a stunningly packaged bottle of Tom Ford Nail Lacquer,(€30), possibly the hottest new beauty product on the block right now. 
Like anything you see here? Or have any great gift ideas you'd like to share? To the comments!

08 December 2011

Launch Parties for Oasis Styling Service - We're All Invited!

Back in October I told you about a brilliant opportunity offered by Oasis and Ireland AM, who teamed up to search for four budding fashion stylists. After going head-to-head on Ireland AM for six weeks, the winners have landed personal styling jobs in four Oasis stores: Stephen’s Green in Dublin, Dundrum Town Centre, Patrick Street in Cork, and Donegal Place in Belfast. These outlets will provide a new in-store styling service offering advice, personal consultations and one-to-one customer service. And best of all, it's completely free!

To launch the new personal styling service, and to celebrate the achievements of the new stylists, Oasis are hosting a glitzy launch party in Dublin tonight (St. Stephen’s Green) and in Cork tomorrow, at the Patrick Street store. Both events take place between 6 and 9pm with a host of celebrity guests, along with 20% discounts, live music, complimentary drinks and snacks and free hair and makeup stations. If you pop along you’ll also be in with a chance to win limited edition Oasis Christmas Collection pieces, and vouchers for up to €250.

Make sure you book your free personal style session while you’re there: the stylists are available for one-to-one consultations to help you sort out any wardrobe worries -- perfect timing for the party season!

In-store events like this can be great craic; I thoroughly enjoyed the ones I recently attended in Karen Millen and Fitzpatricks Shoes. Will you be dropping in to enjoy the hospitality?

07 December 2011

NOTD: Revlon Facets of Fuchsia

You're probably all familiar with today's Nail Of The Day; a dupe for Deborah Lipmann's Bad Romance, it was the star product from Revlon's Expressionist collection this autumn. I love the depth and darkness of the near-black jelly base and how this contrasts with the vivid purple glitter. 

Along with the glitter flecks there are also larger, hexagonal glitter pieces in the same colour. Facets of Fuchsia is €9 and, given that it never fails to make me smile, I consider that €9 well spent.

06 December 2011

Fab finds for (mostly) under a fiver

Christmas is an expensive time of year but you don't need to blow the budget to find the perfect beauty gift. There are some brilliant budget buys which you can mix and match,   add to a more expensive product or use as stocking fillers for your friends and family. Here are some fab finds  -- most of which come in at under a fiver -- that I reckon any makeup loving friend would be happy to open up on Christmas morning.

ONE Winners of Best Beauty Gadget in the Beaut.ie Awards, these exfoliating 'scrubby gloves' from Penneys cost a mere €1.50 and are a cheap and effective way to buff off dead skin cells, improve skin tone and circulation and leave skin soft and smooth. Kim Cattrall is said to be a fan.

TWO Maybelline New York's trend-led sister brand, MNY, arrived here in October and offers 14 fun and fashionable shades, from cremes to shimmers and everything in between. Can be picked up at your local chemist for €4.49. 

Some of the fab colours in the MNY range

THREE Angelica polishes are gathering legions of fans for their gorgeous glitters,  and at just €2.75 a bottle, it's easy to see why. Pick a couple up in Penneys while you're queuing to pay for those scrubby gloves!

FOUR  I read about these Essence French Manicure Tip Guides in Aisling McDermott's excellent Gorgeous To Go and snapped them up at a couple of euro to create a DIY NewFrench Manicure. You'll find Essence in Dunnes, Penneys and selected chemists.

FIVE I love this Collection 2000 lip cream and I'm in good company - top makeup artist Lisa Eldridge also raves about the stuff.  These are €3.55 from Superdrug and come in four available shades -- I love the pale nude colour with a smoky eye.

SIX This NYC High Definition mascara is now my favourite budget mascara and the one I reach for on a day-to-day basis. It delivers similar results to Boots No 7 Exceptional Definition, but for about a third of the price. Like all NYC products this comes in at under a fiver.

SEVEN I've bought three of these Catrice Made To Stay cream eyeshadows and I love them all. For €3.99 you get a gorgeous, longlasting, on-trend, high-impact eye that couldn't be easier to create. Just smudge on with your fingers and you're good to go. There are 6 available shades and you can find them in Dunnes, Penneys or your local chemist.

EIGHT These eye CANDY lashes are new to Dunnes Stores and can be found at 30 of their shops nationwide. At just €4.99 for a range of styles including Volumise, Dramatise or Naturalise, you can afford to experiment for the party season. Lash adhesive is included. I tried these out on my friend Eleanor this weekend, and they looked fab.

NINE imPRESS nails: these press-on manicure sets from Broadway are a massive hit stateside where Nicole Scherzinger is the face of the brand. Quick and easy, just peel off the backing, stick to your nails and you're done! They retail at €7.99 for the block colours and €9.99 for the patterns and are widely available from chemists, Penneys and Dunnes. These are the only product here that will set you back more than  a fiver but for a fun, fast fashion fix, I think they're worth it. 

What are your own budget faves and will any of these be stuffing your stockings this year?!

05 December 2011

Lancôme Spring 2012: Roseraie des Délices

On a wet and windy morning last week Lancôme literally brightened up my day by unveiling their delicately pretty Spring collection,  Roseraie des Délices. Inspired by rose gardens and macaroons, the collection is fresh and feminine in shades of peach, pistachio and pink. Following on from the popular Maison Lancôme and Golden Hat blush palettes, the star of the show here is the gorgeous La Roseraie compact, but there's lots to love: from the sugar almond hued Le Vernis nail colours to the Colour Fever Glosses in Green Petal, Tangerine Petal and Rose Petal -- the green imparts a shimmery, frosted effect and can be worn alone or over your favourite lippie. And speaking of lipstick, there are three to choose from here -- a zesty orange, vibrant fuchsia or that lovely bubblegum pink in the picture above. Two eyeshadow palettes complete the collection, in Vert Tendresse (pictured, pistachio and mint) and Rose Romance (pale pinks and fuchsia).

On counter from January 1st, this will set you back €45 for the blush and eyeshadow palettes, €30 for the lipstick and €25 for the gloss. Green Petal is definitely calling my name -- is there anything calling yours?

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(Thanks to Sarah Lanagan for taking these photos at the launch, when I foolishly forgot my camera!)


02 December 2011

My Favourite Autumn Winter Trend

Beauty trends are seasonal and one trend I’m always delighted to welcome back each Autumn/Winter is the return of heavy eyeliner. Liquid, pencil, gel or cream, I love them all -- although for ease of use, my absolute favourite has to be the felt tip pen. For years I was never without a trademark flick and though I’ve toned it down these days, especially for work, winged liner is still pretty much my favourite look (as evidenced in these pictures here).

Here’s most of my collection spilled out in all its well-loved, erm, glory. Those two little stumps of pencils are L’oreal and Lancome, and both have served me well. There’s also a chubby little Karen Millen glitter liner that was a much appreciated gift, and one or two Rimmel kohl liners, about which I have only good things to say.

Sadly, the same can’t be said for Essence -- I’ve got some coloured pencils and a black mania eyeliner pen, and I’m sorry to report that I’m not impressed with any of them -- they’re the only items that have let me down from the brand so far. Happily, big sister Catrice has delivered and I like all three of their products in my collection: a gel liner, liquid liner and felt tip pen. Other misses include the Max Factor High Definition felt tip liner, which I found gave me quite a patchy line of colour, and unfortunately the eye definers from The Body Shop didn’t do it for me either -- they’re too hard for my liking, but I did get them free with a magazine…

Luckily for every miss there are about 20 hits out there on the market with some high performing products at every price range. I mentioned Rimmel, L’Oreal and Catrice earlier and I’ve also been impressed by NYC’s cheap-as-chips glitter liners, which I got my hands on after I’d taken these pictures.  

And here are my 5 current favourites: YSL Eyeliner Effet Faux Cils in Bronze Black; Bourjois Liner Feutre Felt Tip Eyeliner in Ultra Black; YSL Dessin Du Regard Long Lasting Eyeliner in Shimmering Burgundy; Chanel Le Crayon Yeux in Gris Scintillant and Avon Mega Impact Gel Eyeliner in Black Flash. The Chanel one is a really smudgy shimmery grey, the YSL ones wear brilliantly and are amazing colours but still dark enough to properly define the eyes, the Bourjois one not only performs well but is fantastic value for money, and the Avon one gives the most intense colour I’ve found in a pencil.

So those are my favourites -- I’d love to know yours! Tell me in the comments…

01 December 2011

NOTD: Ciate Paint Pot in Cream Tea

This is the second polish I was sent from Ciate’s Heritage Collection (you can take a look at Fit For A Queen here), and I’m impressed. Cream Tea is a sophisticated beige with grey undertones and a silver shimmer, which differentiates it from several other taupes/nudes in my collection. Like Fit For A Queen, this took 3 thin coats to achieve full opacity and lasted 3-4 days on my nails. It’s a pretty and elegant alternative to autumn’s deeper, richer shades, and one I’ll be rocking from now until Spring. Très chic!


You can pick this up here for €10.50 if you're so inclined. Have you tried any of the Ciate paint pots, and what did you think? What colours are you liking right now?