|The entire AYU range|
|Detailers - double-ended eyeliner/brow spoolie, flat liner brush, lip brush and brow brush.|
|The eyeshadow brushes have become some of my favourites to use|
What's your favourite brand of beauty brush?
My usual tactics are to bring at least 10 variations on the same shade of lipstick (Think I'm kidding? Check out the damning evidence here!). But there is only so much that will fit into one of those annoying plastic security bags - so thank God for mini products, is all I can say! Thanks to space saving teeny tiny toiletries I was able to cram in pretty much everything I needed or wanted for the three days I was away (in Aberdeen in Scotland, thank you for asking!).
So here's what came with me in my hand luggage:
SKIN: Serum and moisturiser samples from the Elizabeth Arden Prevage range; mini cleanser from Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference range and 8 Hour Cream sample tube; shower gel, eye cream and 3-in-1 cleansing emulsion from Korres Party Survival Kit (currently reduced in the ASOS sale!); tiny 10g tub of Sudocrem.
FACE: Small bottle of Teint Visionnaire, Lancôme's latest foundation, and full sized Amazing Cosmetics concealer - both of which I've been trialling. Mini Watt's Up highlighter from Benefit. A Clarins lip balm and three lipsticks: Rimmel lipstick in 107, and Hot Plum and Shocking Coral from new Maybelline Colour Sensational Vivids Collection (launching Feb.) Three eyeliners too: Estee Lauder felt tip pen liner, Isadora gold pencil, mini Urban Decay pencil in brown (shade Demolition). Kevyn Aucoin mascara.
SCENT: Very handily, this 30ml bottle of Roger & Gallet fragrance arrived shortly before my trip. The scent, Ginger, is my latest obsession - it's soft, warm and spicy, without being overpowering in the least. The smaller size is ideal for travelling and the smaller pricetag, €17.50, is easier on the pocket, too.
NON-LIQUIDS: Lancôme eye and brow kit, Inglot gold pigment powder, Deborah Milano blusher, Clarins bronzer,
|Excuse their grubby appearance - they're well loved pieces of kit!|
|Here's what it looked like on my face!|
I dropped in ahead of an event filled weekend to try out their two week manicure and spray tan, using the Irish natural and organic brand, Karora. This was only my second ever spray tan so I was a little nervous but the lovely Fiona put me quickly at ease. She talked me through everything, put my fears at rest and displayed the most meticulous attention to detail that confirmed I was in completely expert hands.
I walked out completely transformed - groomed, bronzed and feeling considerably more glamorous than when I'd arrived. Sadly I also walked out into the bucketing Irish rain but, in a final flourish of exceptional customer service, the lovely receptionist had nipped out to grab me a cab.
After 30 years living the dream, she realised that actually, she wasn’t. An entrepreneurial streak runs in the family – her Dad always wanted to go out on his own, but never quite got there. Though if he had, he knew what he’d call his brand: Merumaya combines the first two letters of every family member’s name, so by using it, that particular dream has also come to life.
|Manual Cleansing Brush|
And then there’s the colour itself, which is for me the perfect warm toned pinkish nude – no concealer lips here, just a flattering neutral hue. This looks just as good paired with the more vibrant shades we’re seeing for lips and eyes this season, as it does with spring’s more traditional candy colours and pastel pinks and blues.
*This is a partnered post, but as always all opinions are 100% my own*
I had some initial reservations though, especially around using this to contour. The creamy coral that’s included as a contour shade seems much more suited as a blush. But we already have that in the middle colour –described as watermelon, but more of a medium pink. They’re topped by a pale pink shimmer which is definitely fit for purpose as a highlighter.
Except, for some reason, I find it hard to apply evenly from the stick, and the lightest shade doesn’t really transfer to my face. Instead I get two strips of colour: the coral and the pink. Blended together, the result is a pretty - but very sheer - peachy shade, that gives my cheeks a nice but subtle glow. Unfortunately, it won’t show up on skintones darker than medium, but for paler types it will be ideal. Then I use a brush or my fingers to dab some of the highlight shade along my cheekbones, or the top of my cupids bow. (You can also use the product on your lips, but I much prefer it on my cheeks.)
So, somewhat surprisingly, and despite my initial reservations, I do like this a lot. Currently I’m wearing less slap on a daily basis – think BB cream, neutral eyeshadow, tinted balm – and this works perfectly with my current mood. It’s convenient to apply, the consistency is good, and it doesn’t look or feel greasy, or melt away the makeup that’s already applied, like some sticks of cream blushers can. It looks even, and lasts all day. Just don’t expect it to be any great shakes as a contour!
There have been a few mixed reviews for this around the web so if you’ve tried this or plan to, I'd love to know what you think! It’s €34 – though this one was a PR sample - and it’s out next month.
What are your favourite cheek products?
|The hotel is a wonderful blend of ancient and contemporary; dinner in the Botanical restaurant was superb; the heated outdoor pool was the highlight of my trip|
Blissed out and glowing, it was just a short float down from the treatment area to the Water Mint Thermal Suite. And there, what joys await! Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy everything this area has to offer: the sauna, aroma steam room, laconium, reflexology foot baths and, our favourite, the amethyst salt grotto (a salty, steamy delight that works wonders on the respiratory system, promotes calm and is said to banish feelings of anger, guilt and fear. And it banishes hangovers, too! Er, or so I’m told). Oh, and word to the wise? Do not miss the snail shower - the peppermint mist is one of the most refreshing things you will ever experience.
But people, that’s not all! I haven’t even got to my very favourite part: the indoor/outdoor infinity pool. Floating in the open air, looking up at the deep violet sky and the night’s first stars, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude at being granted that experience. I would strongly encourage you to go and try it for yourself.
As for me, I’m already planning my return. In the words of the old family motto: I am ready!
Essie's most recent collection is a good 'un. The beauty world went crazy for Leading Lady, a glittering red, and Beyond Cozy, a platinum glitter, but my favourites are the two blues: Where's My Chauffer, the turquoise I showed you here, and this beauty - Butler Please - that I wore in yesterday's post.
From top left: Butler Please, She's Pampered, Snap Happy, Where’s My Chauffeur, Beyond Cozy, Leading Lady
This one was a PR sample, but you can find Essie for €9.99 from Boots and other pharmacies.
It feels creamy, cooling and refreshing, and can be used as often as your skin requires- for me that's nightly, but for others it could be used as a weekly treat. With shea and mango butters it's emollient rich, and has a good dollop of hyaluronic acid to lock in all that lovely moisture. Ingredients like algae and caffeine also work to fight redness and calm irritated skin.
|Now I've found you, I'm never letting go!|
I have big mad love for all manner of accessories but I go through definite phases - in my early teenage years I was all about the Pat Butcher ear-rings, and the bigger the better. In my grunge days I layered on the necklaces - well, chokers, crosses and beads - like nobodies business and I went through a phase of piling on so many bangles it was kinda tricky trying to lift my arms.
|Pearl and black cocktail ring c/o Les Jumelles, yellow crystal cocktail ring from Oasis, all others from Penneys!|
|Generally 2-3 per hand is as far as I go!|
Do you go through phases with accessories, too? What's your current fave?
Some of my current favourites are these Pure Colour Stay-On Shadow Paints from Estee Lauder. Nine of these babies are on counter from this month but you'll want to be quick, because they're here for a limited time only. They're priced at €23, which is justifiable - they can be used on their own, as a primer, to intensify a powder product or to line your eyes.
The colours look quite flat in the pot but once you work with them, the light reflective qualities become more apparent
Feeling a little frazzled after the festive season? Treat yourself to some TLC with this round-up of the best products to soothe and balance stressed out hair and skin.
|L-R: Me yesterday; my trusty Chanel sunnies in Cannes; the case has seen better days!|
Made in Italy, these tortoiseshell Persol shades have stylish tortoiseshell frames and grey/green lenses – these would be a very safe choice for me as they're one of my favourite styles.
And finally, the jewel detail in the earpiece sets these Gucci sunglasses apart, along with the delicate frame colour – just divine.