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I Try Before You Buy: Shower Creams, Gels and Washes

13 Mar

Soothing your dry winter skin starts in the shower as does your daily fragrance. Depending upon your desire for suds — lots, or little — all of the below will get your pelt through the winter and may endow you with fragrance, too. Or not! Whatever you prefer! I am extremely fussy about scent in the shower and really feel that it can make or break my day…

DOVE Silk Glow Body Wash {€2.99}
*****
The proof isn’t always in the price point: this is extremely good value for 250mls, and it really does make my skin feel silky and glowy after use. It also has that glorious Dove scent and also! The tiniest squeeze of product produces loads of foam. Great price point!

LUSH Dreamwash Shower Smoothie {€13.65}
***
Gorgeous texture — like you are icing yourself like a cake — meets lovely and soothing scent… but also unfortunately meets one the famous black pots that are fiddly to deal with in the shower. Also, if suds are your thing, the way they are my thing, then this won’t bubble up to your usual standard.

ROGER & GALLET Fleur de Figuier Gentle Shower Cream {€12}
***
This is soap-free and sulfate-free, and yet you get a nice crop of bubbles with which to scrub yourself. I found the scent to be slightly too sweet, but R&G have such a great range of fragrances, I’m sure I’ll find something that suits.
Shower stuff
L’OCCITANE Fouette Whipped Shower Foam {€17.50}
***
Shake it up, and it’s like mousse for your body when you dispense it. I love being able to layer with the Fouette Body Cream {€22}, but again, I like a nice froth of soapy goodness in the course of my morning ablutions — and I didn’t get the amount I prefer.

NIVEA Water Lily & Oil Shower Gel {€10.99}
****
Ooh, love an oil, and this is luxurious bargain considering you get 250mls. It doesn’t smell all that flowery, which is great if you’re me and hate too much fragrance, and not great is you did want to smell like a delicate flower. Otherwise, lots of lather for a little bitta gel, and you’ll feel silky, too.

CLINIQUE Deep Comfort Body Wash {€21}
****
This is terrific, if kind of expensive. It suds up like nobody’s business, which is something of a learning curve: I used up way too much product early on because I didn’t realize that I didn’t need that much. Paired with Deep Comfort Body Butter (€34, 200ml), your skin will in fact be comforted deeply.

***

Synaesthesia Treatment at Lush Spa, Chelsea

9 Mar

Life can be hard, and so can London. I’ve never lived there, but I’ve visited often, and even after one day — one happy, varied day wandering around, breakfasting on eggs royale, getting some makeup put on my face at the Charlotte Tilbury counter at Selfridges; taking the Tube; looking for WiFi… even after less than eight hours of it, London was wearing me out. By the time I got to the LUSH Spa in the King’s Road, Chelsea, I was shocked there wasn’t line of people streaming out the door, queuing for pampering.

The level of busyness reminds me of New York, which I mention because I got confused about the way the numbers run on streets. In Manhattan, it’s across, so 19 may be on the left, and 20 on the right. Here, and in Dublin too, the odds are all on one side, the evens all on the other — so when I got to where I thought 123 was, I was surprised at the lack of LUSH branding… and at the thought that it was in a some class of shopping centre. I did that thing where I wandered up and down, undecided, and then decided to wander along the road a bit longer — ah. There was the storefront. That made much more sense.
LUSH Kings Road Spa front

Despite the length and breadth of the city, the Tube makes you get places faster and I was half an hour early. My stupid injury leg was acting up too, but there was nowhere for me to wait, so I went next door to the Starbucks and had a big auld Chai Latte with a helping of some previously elusive WiFi. I almost had my nose removed by an impatient, not-watching-whose-space-she-was-invading, skinny-latte-to-go person who just reached right across me to grab some sugar — GRAB THE SUGAR BEFORE IT ALL GOES AWAY LONDON PERSON! Janie Mac. I am increasingly sounding like auld dear, but you’d want to try that in Dublin!

This is all to say that I really needed my 80 minutes of massagey goodness by the time I was lead down to the spa, in the lower ground floor of the shop.
Kitchen Table
The waiting space is small, and the essence of the LUSH treatments are so personal, that I saw why you wouldn’t want anyone hanging round while you were being taken through your preparation. I was to receive the Synaesthesia, the brand’s first, and signature, treatment.  
Massage bars in kitchen
The event is organised around a word that one chooses from the phrase written on the wall, and the bottle chosen {very Alice in Wonderland} from a nearby shelf. I chose my word and my bottle, and was talked through the use of the music, a bespoke symphony that mirrors a day from dawn to dusk in the Dorset countryside. I was advised that it would be played at sound level, which is: not as a subliminal element. There were moments when the transitions between movements were jarring, but in general, it was lovely, and was an unusually big part of the experience.
Synaesthesia
I was greeted at the door of the room with a dry-iced infusion of the scent I had chosen: it was theatrical, but fragrant. The room actually had a chair for me to sit on when I disrobed, and I can’t stress enough how much sense this makes, and how few rooms actually supply this basic piece of furniture. Particularly when you’ve got a stupid injury leg and don’t need to be hopping all over the place trying to get your knicks off.

{You have the choice of hot stones, as shown, or an abdominal massage. I went for the belly rub despite being dead ticklish.}

The massage was thorough, from face to toes. I had been invited to remove my make up beforehand, and there was some confusion as to what was going to happen. I had other stuff to do following and didn’t really want to cleanse. I was assured this was okay, but it really wasn’t, as the treatment kicked off with a face massage. Now, I have long longed for the face to be included in many a full-body massage I’ve enjoyed; I was somewhat distracted by the use of product on my face over my foundation and wished I’d asked what was specifically going to happen. I think that the LUSH ethos comes down so heavily on the side of ‘whatever suits you’ — which is normally great — but in this case, it would have been preferable to have cleansed.

It took some time to cop, but the movements of the massage flowed with the movements of the music. The breaks in the score were timed with the breaks in the massage, and the whole thing felt like the perfect gestalt of sound, touch, and scent. I didn’t find myself as floaty as I might get during a treatment, due to the sound level of the toons, but otherwise, I felt utterly relaxed.

A lovely cup of tea awaited, as well as a massage bar emblazoned with my word, and bath bar that unlike many of LUSH’s offerings, is reusable — just hold underneath the flowing water and let dry when you feel your bath is properly bubble-fied.

I left, to the easy-going goodbyes of the staff and a decision to give the number 11 bus a go. I just couldn’t face the Underground and the stressy crowds. The journey from King’s Road to the East End took basically forever, and the conductor was a fussy young fella who was unhappy with the way the side doors were closing and made a big production out of his feeling — I called him ‘Stan Shunpike’ in my head to preserve my good mood. Otherwise, the bus was the perfect tour of the sights, from the fancy window displays in Chelsea, through Trafalgar Square, past St Paul’s, and I did ultimately reach my destination.

Any my stupid injury leg? All the better for the attention to it, and to my entire body. As ever, I resolve to have more massage in my life, for both physical and mental wellbeing — we’ll see how that goes…

***

In the mood to splash out? This is super splashy: £125 for 80 minutes, plus your complimentary products.

***

LUSH Spa
123 King’s Road, London SW3 4PL, United Kingdom
+44 20 7376 8348

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I {Almost} Used It All Up: Kiehl’s Magic Elixir

3 Feb

Gahhhhhhhh!

IUIAAU KIEHL'S

It’s not that I wanted to be done with this, because I love ittttt — but that’s not much of a dose, is it?

A couple of years ago, scalps were the new black, and it makes sense: scalps are skin, and even if you shampoo, you’re still not really taking specific care of that specific part of your body.

Now, many may holler, ‘This is ridic! Is there not a square inch of ourselves that goes without its own special product?!’ Me, I don’t care, I love product {obvs}, so was happy enough to take yet another step onboard.

I loved this on days when I had the time to drench my roots and leave it. Nothing like a good hair treatment to make one feel virtuous. And such treatments are pretty low maintenance: just lash it on and forget about it until it’s time to shower.

After using this truly Magic Elixir, my hair was silky, and my highlights looked like they’d gotten top up. What’s not to like?

That little tiny bit in the bottle, that’s what’s not to like…

***

€28.50/£25/$20

***

Plus! Avocado oils! So good for us internally and here, externally!

***

Festive ’14: Emma So Natural and Glove Your Body

19 Dec

Support your local artisan/provider!
EMMA SO NATURAL
Handmade in Ireland, Emma’s So Natural line incorporates wax tart melts and small travel candles in tins, but for me, it’s alllll about the tumbler candles.

Made from soy wax as opposed to paraffin, these last longer as they burn more slowly, and they are cleaner and greener, too. Essential oils provide the scent, and you can choose from seven. There are also seasonal choices, including Wonderland, a mix of pine, eucalyptus and benzoin.

Last shipping day by courier is the 22nd!

GLOVE
Gotta use a glove to apply the fake tan — I do know that many prefer the bare hands, but: no. Glove Your Body’s offering looks more like a plush toy than a tanning mitt, and its many features — you’d be surprised that a self-tan accessory would have more than one feature — makes it easier to spread the product around, ensuring that your tan is more even and natural-looking.

Feature One: the obviously plush surface, which helps contain the tan. Whenever I use a sponge mitt, I find that the liquid can roll all over the surface, making it hard to manage. Definitely not a problem here.
Feature Two: Inside, there are finger-holders, like in a baseball mitt, meaning that it’s not going to slip and slide all over the place.
GLOVE YOUR BODY inside
Feature Three: An opposable thumb! I had no idea that it would come in so handy! Why? I just feel like I’ve got better control of the whole process because my thumb is free.
Feature Four: Machine washable!

All in all, if you are a serial tanner, this is the Pro Mitt. And it feel really nice, too.

***

Emma’s So Natural tumbler candles, €18.50; 2-pack, €35; emmas.ie

Glove Your Body, €19.99; http://www.gloveyourbody.com

***

Festive ’14: LUSH

17 Dec

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMASI’m going to be honest: I’m keeping Lush’s 12 Days Of Christmas for my very own self. It is full of the brand’s top seasonal offerings, and everything in there will last well into next year.

There are so so many stunningly packaged parcels on hand at your local Lush, quite literally something for everyone, all along the spectrum of price. It’s like the Beauty Division of Santa’s Workshop all up in there.

LUSH assortment

Amazing! I gotta say, though, that I am the ultimate fan I know of the Lush line, of their bath additives specifically — I wrote ‘addictives’ three times! — and I’ll put these to good use. If you know someone like me, then you will not go wrong with this one.

The box itself is gorge, and is shaped like a storybook. Here’s what’s inside.

LUSH 12 DAYS inside

Faves: top left, the Snow Angel Bath Melt; second row, all the way right, Hot Toddy Shower Gel; third row left, Golden Wonder Bath Bomb; third row all the way right, Lord Of Misrule Bath Bomb; bottom right, Karma Soap.

I am willing to be beguiled by the others, which include Holly Golighty Bubble Bar (top right) and… all the rest.

Here’s to fragrant bathing in 2015!

***

€64/£49.95/$99.95 << There are a few substitutions in the American box, FYI

***

Festive ’14: Bulldog

16 Dec

I HEART THINGS IN TINS.
BULLDOG
I think dudes like tins, too? And you will A) like the Bulldog price point, which is a snip for all these full-sized samples; and B) love the results when your dude uses these.

I also heart the design of these tubes, as they are not black and silver. Now, there’s plenty of men’s products that come in black and silver that I adore {or: j’adore, as Chanel Allure Sport falls into the category}, but these are refreshingly white and clean, and won’t make your bath look like a James Bond film has exploded.

This is pretty much a clean, manly face in a bucket: serum, face wash, shave balm and moisturiser. The only thing wanting is the exfoliant, which is terrific — I know because I used it myself when the brand first landed on Irish shores.

There are other gifts to choose from, but this one is the best!

***

Bulldog Limited Edition Expert Skincare Set, €25.50

***

Festive ’14: Benefit

15 Dec

Love the look of this year’s gifts from Benefit, who do such a good line in same. BENEFIT
Clockwise from left: Fun-size Flirts, with handbag portions of the brand’s most-loved, best-selling cosmetics; Sweet Tintations, two pairs of the tint paris of lip balm and stain; and Cheeky Sweet Spot, for the gal who who can’t get enough of Benefit’s blushers, they are all here in one place.COMPLEXIONS GIFT SET

They’ve also got their b.right skincare all in one clever tin. Complexion Confections contains a POREfessional mini, an Instant Comeback Facial Serum mini, Triple Performing Facial Emulsion and It’s Potent Eye Cream. This particular set makes the best use of the tin it comes in, as some of the other sets don’t fill them as nicely as this one does. Love the tin just for itself, nothing like a good tin.

And here’s the full effect of all the gifts in one place, thanks to Debenhams.
BENE GIFTS
***

Fun-size Flirts €43/£29.50
Sweet Tintations €29.50/£19.50
Cheeky Sweet Spot €43/£29.50
Complexion Confections €43/£39.50

***

Festive ’14: A Boots Miscellany

12 Dec

‘Miscellany’ sounds so… miscellaneous, but I mean it in the best possible sense, because where else can you go to find a whole bunch of stuff that is beautifully packaged and priced for every level of necessity?
SOAP MOLTON L'OREAL

From left: Soap & Glory Kiss Much, €6.50, a lovely lip balm that comes in a bauble; speaking of baubles, Molton Brown’s offering is filled with Black Pepper soap, €12; and L’Oreal Professional’s Christmas Cracker Absolut Repair Lipidium, €8.49 has healthy sized samples of the hair treats inside.

I could have gone on and on — there is so much in Boots, including their own No 7 line, I could wander all daydreamy amidst their aisles for hours. Shopping for others, of course! {Uh huh.}

***

Festive ’14: The Body Shop

8 Dec

BODY SHOP
Love the packaging and equally love the contents: The Body Shop have put together an assortment of vanilla brulée scented goodies, including the trend-setting body butter. This is Joy; you could equally choose Love (frosted cranberry) or Peace (glazed apple).

And what’s with the schoolbook vibe?

Bring harmony to the world with this inspiring Schoolbook of Joy. Proudly made by our Community Fair Trade supplier in Nepal, and full of some of the world’s finest ethically sourced ingredients, this gift has been hand-crafted in book-shaped packaging in honour of our Children in Education initiative with War Child.

I love the gifts that give and give!

***

€23: includes body butter 50ml; shower gel 60ml; lip balm 20ml; heart soap 25g

***

Festive ’14: Here We Go!

28 Nov

What few standards I have, I stick with, one being: no mention of The Christmas until after Thanksgiving. So Happy Black Friday, everyone: let the gift shopping begin.

FESTIVE 14!Let’s try that again: let the gift shopping begin!

I’ve got a load of ideas for lady-beauty prezzies, and even some stuff for dudes, that won’t tax your pocket or your brain. In the best possible sense, of course.

Gift packages have improved enormously over the past few years, and many of my favourite products are being presented beautifully this season. I’ve been shooting {‘shooting’} them this morning, and in a fit of meta-tasticness, above please find the pre-shoot non-styling.

I’ll have offerings from The Body Shop, Lush, Bulldog, Roger & Gallet and more, including some Guaranteed Irish products. Stay tuned!

***

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