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The No7 Advent Calendar {Deal With It}

20 Oct

Ooh, this is super fantastically gorgeous:


The 25 Days of Beauty Wonder Calendar {so not Advent, strictly speaking}: 25 days, 19 minis, six full-sized products, €49.50 — which is insane as the total value is €193. You can expect nail varnish, skin care, body care, make-up, and some of the brand’s heroes like the No7 Instant Illusions Airbrush Away Primer and the No7 Stay Perfect Amazing Eyes Pencil.

Get on the waiting list here!


Look, it’s almost Hallowe’en, okay?!?


{Insert Hand Pun Here}*: LUSH Salted Coconut Hand Scrub

12 Oct

Back on beauty duty! I’ve been editing my ‘horse book’, which required not only fingers on the keyboard, but also mind off everything but it. Stay tuned here and here for news as to its future as a published/virtual reading object. Or book, even.

I’m not so handsy, as in, always reapplying hand creams or worrying about manual moisture. A manicurist once told me that my hands were LUSH salted coconutnaturally hydrated, which explained why a dose of hand cream never really seemed to make a difference. Exfoliating/scrubbing, though? I’m always up for a good scrub.

Enter Salted Coconut Hand Scrub by LUSH. I am quite addicted: the scrub is gentle if you dampen your hands first, or slightly rougher if you use it on dry paws. The latter is my preferred application. Post-rinsing with water, it’s like you’ve gotten your baby hands back — so soft! The sea salt gets in there and dispenses with dead skin, while the coconut oil makes sure that the skin that’s been uncovered does not dry out.

LUSH hand scrub inside
It’s not the prettiest looking petal on the product flower, but it’s terrifically effective. I’m following the same exfoliation rules with this as I would with any other scrubby stuff, and use it three times a week max, but am not sure whether or not that matters. YMMV, and if you have very sensitive skin, I’d suggest going to a local LUSH shop and trying it out before you commit.

Also, it smells exactly like Play-Doh, which could go either way for people. I love it!




*Did that on purpose


Bank Holiday Spa Staycation: All the Stuff I Never Have Time To Do

4 Aug

BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND… or rather, some of the stuff I never have time to do. It’s mainly those oils that get short shrift in the regime, which is a pity because I loooove oils and I love the deep moisturising kind of thing that they produce.

Let’s start from the left, though, just to keep everything organised.

The Clinique Sonic {which I pronounce in my head as ‘Sonique’, surely a missed opportunity for the marketing heads} has launched a Massage Treatment Applicator {€25} to go with their new Sculptwear Contouring Massage Cream Mask {€48} and I think it is just terrific. This new applicator, which is metal and was developed by dermatologists, feels like it is doing the work of those sorts of facials that inject serum into the skin. This wouldn’t have exactly that function, but using the Sonic to make sure that you’re getting the fullest benefit of the mask is a no-brainer: it gets the product deeper into your skin than your fingers can do.

The scent is gorgeous  and my skin looked fresh and vibrant, but the 50ml tub feels a little tiny, as I felt I used a little more product than I would under normal, non-vibrating-applicator circumstances, but that’s my only criticism < which, in fairness, isn’t negligible, but given the result, I think I can cope.

I am sucker for a cult product, and La Roche-Posay’s Serozinc {€10} certainly qualifies, with the number of women who have had to stock up on this whilst abroad can attest. I don’t suffer from blemish-prone skin, but I do like the odd pore-tightening {TWSS} and this toner promises to do just that. I found myself giving myself the odd spray every time I passed, and the refreshment was of the highest order. I’ve never really gotten into the ‘spray spring water on your face’ thing that has been made famous by other French spas — and the weather certainly hasn’t been roasting enough to encourage that practice — but I am so lazy with toning that I’m hoping I get into the habit with this. Dat price, tho: best value for a toner of any stripe.

I loved the results I got from label.m‘s Brightening Blonde range, and I have to say it may be replaced in my affections by their Honey & Oat line. The shampoo {€14.97} and conditioner {€18.64} are the bomb, although I do find that the conditioner doesn’t do the best job of making my tangle-y tresses easier to untangle. Luckily, the Treatment Mask does a better job, and I did a good job using it — I left it on for a good long while in the shower, and my hair felt like silk when I dried it. LABEL M HAIRLooked like it too, without any styling: just a good blast dry and brushing, and my highlights look rejuvenated as well. I’ll have to be using more of the conditioner than I’d like, perhaps, but I am very happy with this trio. And smelling like a delicious autumnal bowl of porridge is no bad thing, either.

Onto the oils! There’s nothing like applying a scented oil to a damp bod, but who has time for this in the normal run of a week? Not me, so I took advantage of allll the time at my disposal and lashed on Neom‘s new 3-in-1 Face, Body & Hair Oil {€43 RRP}. I tried the Daily Boost version, that comes infused with Wild Mint & Mandarin: On wet skin, a little goes a long way, and two days later, my pelt still feels nice and silky. I am wary of things that say they can go all over you, and haven’t been brave enough to try it on the hair, or the face, TBH.

I was more than happy to use No7‘s Youthful Replenishing Oil on my visage, obvs, and put this on fresh out of the shower as well. Loaded with rosehip and jojoba, and Vitamins C, E and A, I put some on before bed too, which I am sure is something that a beauty expert might caution against — one may get too much of a good thing, mightn’t one? — but I didn’t care. My face didn’t fall off, so.

Vichy Laboratoires have revamped their Pureté Thermale range, and I liked the look of the One Step Cleanser {€14.99} — although, again, not sure that using it to remove eye make up, the third element in the 3 in 1, would be something that I’d attempt. I hate creamy cleaners on my eyes. Otherwise, I found this very effective, even though I only used it once at the beginning of this whole process. It’s kind of scary how, even when you think you’ve done everything to cleanse your skin, there’s still pesky bits of foundation stuck in your pores. This did a good job of getting the leftovers off, and I’ll be bringing it into my usual schedule.

But now, it is the dreaded post-Bank Holiday Tuesday… once more into the breach, my friends!


You can find label.m on or on




Hello, Shiny! You Are Lover-ly: Lancôme Paris Shine Lover

15 May

This is the sort of shine you’d expect from a gloss, but Lancôme Paris have managed to produce this with a lipstick. As boundaries shift and experimentation starts to pay off, the days of heavy, drying lippy may be behind us — plus, there’s no need to sacrifice pigment for comfort.

This is French Sourire, which is the precursor perhaps to the kiss of the same adjective. It’s labelled as 340, if you’re keen on it yourself. One thing that frustrates about this brand is the numbering but not naming of shades; if you are a compulsive Googler makes no odds, but if you’re trying to get posting as soon as poss, it’s one step that feels unnecessary.

Nevertheless, this is a winner: it feels light and moisturising, it looks strong and shiny, and the hues cover the usual range from nude to mulberry-ish. This lasted longer than your average gloss, as well. Lots to love!




It’s a Pot Party! LUSH and One Million Trees in One Day

23 Mar

Not that kind of pot party! It’s a Lush Charity Pot Party to benefit the charity, One Million Trees in One Day, a three-day event in each of Ireland’s LUSH shops in which allll the money made from the sales of their Charity Pot, minus VAT, will go towards funding the reforestation of Ireland.

The Charity Pot is the cornerstone of Lush’s policy of lending a helping hand to charities and grassroots organisations that seek to do good in our communities. One Million Trees in One Day is a cross-border initiative whose goal is to plant that number of young, native trees in both the Republic and the North, to give our ecosystem a boost and help us increase our natural resources.

So head over to a Lush near you and grab a pot. The initiative runs from Friday the 27th to Sunday the 29th, and the addresses of the five shops are below, following a re-post of an interview I did with Gabbi Loedoff last year.


‘Our hope is that we can create a model that shows a different way to do business,’ says Gabbi Loedolff, a buyer for the SLush Fund initiative. Having started working for the brand as a sales advisor and then manager of Lush‘s busiest London shop, she moved over to working on Lush’s wish list of projects — and somehow found the time to study Anthropology.

She describes her current role as ‘a bit of a dream job: working closely with different communities around the world to understand their needs and potential and help them create truly environmentally, socially and economically sustainable projects.”
Now with a new self-preserving formula, the little pot is still doing a lot of good: minus the VAT that goes to the government, the rest of the money made on the hand and body lotion goes to help grassroots causes whose focus is making the world better for people, animals and the environment. Over £7 million has been raised since 2007. In a word: wow. Gabbi spoke to us about how what she does contributes to the Charity Pot and about how one person can in fact make a difference.

Gabbi, can we get some background on you, and your previous work?
I grew up in South Africa and I started working for LUSH in 2001, whilst on a gap year before starting a new university degree. My initial plan was to travel around Europe, but as often happens, I ran out of money and decided to get a temporary job to save some additional funds. I applied to an advert in a newspaper, which led to a job at LUSH and, well, here we are in 2014!

It was during this time that I got the amazing opportunity to manage our charitable SELF-PRESERVED CHARITY POTgiving and launch the Charity Pot in its initial form, so this is a project that is very, very close to my heart. After doing our charitable giving, I did more retail projects before moving into the buying team in 2011. This was near the start of the SLush Fund (Sustainable Lush Fund) and I was fortunate enough to be involved from the early days: creating application procedures, choosing projects to support and actually visiting the groups on the ground.

I remember cornering Mark Constantine, the founder, back in my early days with LUSH to quiz him as to how we were supporting the actual producers of our ingredients, on the ground, and here I am, working on this very same question on a daily basis!

Which SLush Fund ingredient are you the buyer for, and what projects you call your own?
At the moment, I buy all cocoa and product packaging for LUSH, but have been involved with various other materials over the last few years. The way the SLush Fund is set up, I get to be involved with all the projects even if I do not directly buy the material at the end.

One of the projects I am most closely involved with is the cocoa butter from Comunidad de Paz San Jose de Apartado, a Colombian Peace community. We first came across the Peace community through our colleague Paulo Mellet, the man behind the SLush Fund. He told us about this amazing group, working to live a self-sufficient life of peace in an area riddled with conflict, and the challenges they faced.

It just so happened that they grow cocoa, which they struggle to sell on the local market, and we use 100s of tonnes of cocoa butter a year. We had been talking for a while about how to ensure full traceability on our cocoa and this seemed the perfect opportunity to not only support an amazing group of people but also explore a new way of buying cocoa. What better way to support people, as a cosmetics company, than trade based on truly fair prices? We agreed to buy a 25 tonne shipment, which we had sent to Europe to be processed into cocoa butter and cocoa powder.

The relationship with the Peace community has continued to grow and thrive and to date we have bought about 7 shipments of beans from them.

How do you find new vendors?
Most of our partnerships to date have been people that have come recommended to us through the networks we work with. Some of the SLush funding has been to existing suppliers, like the Ojoba Collective that produce our shea butter, while others are completely new relationships.

When we are exploring supporting a new project, we have an application process which includes a detailed but straightforward application form. This application covers the aims, the proposed environmental, social and economic outcomes of the project, the background of the people behind it and we do reference checks too. The budgets need to be quite detailed — we have a limited amount of money and like to ensure that it is being used as efficiently as possible.

Can you talk about a day-in-the-life of someone who is producing a product you’re working with?
The Ojoba Collective in the Bongo Soe region of Ghana consists of around 400 women. It’s a very, very dry region and work is scarce. Before starting the cooperative, many of the women had to leave their families to travel south to try to find work. When we first started working with the group, they had about 40 members. Now, more than 400 women are part of the collective.

The women will finish their chores at home before coming to the processing site. Here they wash the shea nuts before laying them in the sun to dry. The nuts are roasted and ground before the real work begins: they beat the shea liquid, from the nuts that have been ground, until a creamy butter separates from the liquids. This butter is then filtered and boxed up ready to ship out.

The profits are shared equally amongst all the women — even those who have been unable to contribute during a period due to poor health or those that have become too old to work.

They attend literacy classes and have just started a shea tree nursery with support from the SLush Fund. By creating their own shea nursery, they are securing a source of Shea nuts for the future.

How do you see this sort of initiative growing over the next few years?
Our hope is that the projects we have already started will all become financially independent — generating enough income to run themselves without further support — and that we can continue to start new projects around the world. The absolute ideal for us would be to end up in a situation where all our materials are not only sustainable, but regenerative too. Our North American team have started their own SLush project, which is very exciting. For the projects themselves, my feeling is that they will continue to grow and that the amount of people benefiting from the work they do will increase.

It can often feel that, as one person, it can’t be possible to make a difference in the world — can you share some inspiring thoughts or a story that would encourage folks to keep the faith?
I am regularly amazed by just how much of a difference one person can make, and how wide their reach can be. One example is our friend Paulo Mellet, who sadly recently passed away. A dedicated activist and believer in permaculture, it was his inspiration and vision that brought about the SLush Fund. As a company, we were already working hard on sustainable and transparent supply chains, but under his guidance and through his vision, we have taken this so much further.

Another great example is a gentleman called Paul Yeboah from Ghana. He started the Ghana Permaculture Institute demonstration site on a small piece of degraded land. He now has a thriving site that offers permaculture training, grows mushrooms, processes moringa seeds into oil and also very visually illustrates to the local community how you can regenerate soil without using pesticides or fertilisers. They offer a micro financing scheme to women to enable them to start their own businesses.


Lush Charity Pot: €16.85/£12.95/$22.95 (240g)


Lush Cork – 96 Oliver Plunkett St, Cork 

Lush Henry Street – 33 Henry Street, Dublin 1, Ireland

Lush Grafton Street – 116 Grafton Street, Dublin 2, Ireland

Lush Belfast – 12-14 Castle Lane, Town Centre, Belfast, BT1 5DA

Lush Newry – Unit 20, The Quays Shopping Centre, Albert Basin, Newry BT35 8QS


FOTYesterday + The Hair

10 Mar

FOTD 09 03Highlights — not just on The Hair — include:

> essence Long-lasting Lipstick {€2.89} in Come Naturally: really emollient, loving the dark nude, feels like a balm.

> Foundation via Elizabeth Arden Flawless Finish Perfectly Satin {€38}, which has not let me down in the month or so that I’ve been trialing it. It’s matte, but not so matte that you look like you should be displayed in Madame Tussaud’s — a lovely, natural glow is allowed to illuminate your skin without your face ever looking greasy.

> Sadly a function of the iPhone, the No7 eyeshadow is not showing up as well as it ought. This Mini Palette {€14.25} is fabbbbbbilis, the shadows are light in weight, but deep in pigment. It felt so light, even on the brush, that I loaded it up too much the first time out, and have since pulled back a little.

> Gave The Hair a little treat before shampooing: BC Oil Miracle Barbary Fig Oil {€27} from Schwarzkopf Professional. Soaked it into the lengths and ends and left it for… well over an hour I’m sure, since I was hard at work doing keyboardy stuff. Washed it out with the matching Fig Oil & Keratin Restorative Shampoo. Silky!


Banishing Winter, One Nail at a Time

20 Jan

I am done with this cold weather malarkey. I banish you, winter! Away!

Right, so, whatevs: let’s show winter we mean business.

Hello, pretty. On our left is No7 Coral Crush, on our right is Sweet Lilac. Both are from the Gel Look line of nail varnishes on offer, which promise one stroke of durable, shiny goodness.

My nails as usual are in rag order — although I must blog about my NYC New Year’s Eve mani/pedi experience, it was boss — so I won’t subject you to their nastiness.

Just meditate on this lovely image, and do pick some up and give them a try.

I saw many a Boots stand in a variety of drugstores in Manhattan, go have a look and see if they are there!


No7 Gel Crush Nail Varnish, €9


The Thing About Samples: Sisley Paris All Day All Year

19 Jan

The thing is, samples can make you want something.

Want this:

I am not a comprehensive Sisley fan. That Black Rose Cream Mask is beast, but I found the Global Perfect Pore Minimizer to be no use a’tall. I’ve had more time for their makeup, in fact — Phyto-Ombre Glow Luminous Eyeshadow, and Mascara So Intense, yes and yes — and generally tend to choose between either skincare or face paint when I’m thinking about a brand. {Do I? Will have to give that a serious think.}

I had a facial ages ago in the Brown Thomas beauty rooms, and of course the products show to their best effect when used by a pro. I got some wee samples, hence the above, and they’ve been languishing in one of my organisational units. I went on my usual New Year Clearing Out Tear, and it was either pitch it or give it a go, so I reckoned, just use it — why let even .13 ounces of something really expensive got to waste.

Well, this stuff is terrific. Which is bad news because: spendy — ruinously so. At €250 for 50 mls, I guess I have about €3 worth of this stuff in that wee pack. The thing is, my skin felt both tightened and moisturised simultaneously, which sounds impossible, but in practice, feels exactly correct and what you want out of an anti-aging product. I felt like I was fighting dryness and gravity — and! my foundation looked amazing even after a full day out and about. This promises that after 28 days of use, you’ll look more youthful, and I gotta say, I’d love to give that a try…

Is it worth €250/£236/$410? Will I wait for your answer until you pick yourself up off the floor?


It may be worth cruising by your local Sisley counter to see will they give you a little sample of this extreme goodness…


Wind-ter Getting You Down? Moisturise at Night!

12 Jan

I don’t know about you, but the gale force winds are wrecking my head, espesh with being out on the horses in it. I haven’t minded the noise at night, though, and I’m doing my best work in the dreamtime to keep my skin from getting wrecked, never mind my head.

Lashings of cream at night is my only man these blowy days. I’m a big fan of sleeping through the hard stuff, and by deeply moisturising at least three times a week, at bedtime, I feel that I’m keeping my complexion in good nick.

Here are three of my favourites.

Yeah, I know it says ‘daily’ on it, but GREEN ANGEL Seaweed Daily Moisture Face Cream with Jasmine, Neroli & Vitamin E {€24.95} is well able for double duty at night. Anything with seaweed in it is going to be alright by me — add in those oils, and this is bliss in a jar.

NUXE have a new addition in their Merveillance Expert Rich Correcting Cream {€40}, and it’s a good one. I’m happy to use this as directed in the morning, but have been finding it to be great at night, too. Actually? Rather better, as the consistency of the cream is rich and thick. While it does absorb nicely, I’m finding its thickness and richness to be better at the end of the day as opposed to the beginning of it.

Oh, hello, darling. I love, love, love ORIGINS High Potency Night-A-Mins Renewal Cream {€45}, and wish they would make a version that was for the entire body. I hoard this, TBH, because it is like a miraculous new-face-in-a-jar. It never fails to make my skin glow the morning after the night before; the only thing I’ll say against it is that it smells so good, sometimes I keeping myself awake breathing it in. Just me…?


I had long wondered about the day cream v night cream debate — as in, what’s the difference? — and posted about it here


Thinking About Packing: Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush

2 Dec

Only mumble mumble weeks ’til The Christmas, and I am already thinking about packing up the big bag on wheels. Unsurprisingly, I always end up taking loads of stuff, as per here, and yet find the whole grooming-situation-away-from-home to be unsatisfying. My skin almost hardly ever feels as shiny and clean as it does when I have all my stuff to choose from. I like having options, and in the interest of leaving space in the big bag for the fruits of two+ weeks in America, I try not to load up on too much product.

CLINIQUE SONICHowever! I think my skincare dreams have come true thanks to this cute little number.

Here is Clinique’s new Purifying Cleansing Brush. It powers itself up via USB, which is great for me as a standard Irish/UK plug wouldn’t suit me for travelling, and the little holder it sits in while it charges is no size a’tall. The thing itself is of no size a’tall as well, and yet it is as good a cleanse as any of the larger, heavier brushes I’ve tried in the past. Its slimline design makes it a much more attractive proposition to take along on the road — although I do wish there was some class of equally lightweight carry case. It’ll end up wrapped in a baggie, tucked into a pair of socks and then stuffed in a boot — I really am thinking about packing — but I wish it had something a little more protective to keep it in.

See! Just the right size, both for the hand and the bag. It does take some getting used to for sensitive skin, so it is advised to start with a quick but thorough 30 second cleanse, and building up from there. The white bristles take care of the cheeks, while the green ones are designed to do the business on the pesky T-zone. The cap has many big holes in it, allowing the brush to dry whilst keeping it safe from getting smashed. FOAMING SONIC SOAP

This has been on-counter for an age; I was waiting to write until I got me paws on the Foaming Sonic Facial Soap. This is a a cream, not a liquid, but thicker than your usual cream cleanser. It is hard to squeeze out of the tube, and the first time I used it, I erred on the side of more rather than less. It was an err for sure: you need less than a pea-sized amount to get the best out of it — maybe half a pea, or two-thirds. It is rich, and applies easily all over a damp face, and then it foams like a boss. I feel like I could use anything with the brush and it would be grand, but I like this best.

I keep pronouncing it ‘Clinque Sonique’ to myself. #lulz


€89 for the brush, €22 for the soap!




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