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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.

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‘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.”
GABBI
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.

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

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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

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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}
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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}
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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}
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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}
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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}
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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.

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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…

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

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

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Snap! Judgement: E45 Intense Recovery Lotion

15 Aug

E45 LOTIONI gotta say. My immediate reaction to this was, ‘Oof, that is ug.” I mean, seriously. That label looks like it was designed in Word. It is so unappealing.

Well, let that be a lesson to me: what is inside is pretty darn spectacular.

So, I guess this is a one-two Snap! Judgement, because the second I started massaging this into my skin I was all, ‘Ooh! This feels amazing!’

E45 was developed by a Boots chemist back in the 50s — this is running contrary to the usual S!J, which are more like smash and grabs, just because I knew nothing about this brand — and it was only used in hospitals until the 80s.

We had some toasty weather this summer, and I do feel that I’m drier than usual. I’ll be using this, so, and I’ll never speak badly about its label again. (But srsly…)

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€4.99

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Update: Okay, this is not much of an S!J a’tall, but this stuff is great. I’ve been using it all week and my bod has been delighted. The fragrance-free part is really working for me, as it the texture and coverage — and it lasts! That silky feeling one gets upon immediately moisturising really, really lasts. Heart this.

Relief from Itchy Mozzie Bites: Australian Bodycare Any Time Balm with Tea Tree Oil

24 Jul

Yes, yes, yes: tea tree oil = antiseptic. Well, duh. I generally am displeased by the scent, but desperate times often call for scents I desperately dislike.

I had the itchiest, worst mosquito bite, and it was driving me demented. A quick jaunt around the internet disclosed the fact that the oil of tea tree was a good way to get rid of it, and my eye fell on the little tub that had been sitting on my desk for the last while.
AUSTRALIAN BODY CARE BALM
I’ve tried a number of the Australian Bodycare products — the best so far having been an excellent full leg/bikini wax I got from Bespoke Beauty in Donnybrook. I wasn’t as mad about the shampoo/conditioner, again because: the smell. I was RW&A to give this stuff a go, though, as I usually like the texture of a balm, and its cooling quailities.

In a word: perfect.

> It absorbs quickly and lightly, it took away the itch on contact, and it really is rather pleasantly resinous. Well, I would say that now, given that it did such a great job.

> The texture is a little bit grainy, and needs a nice warm-up between the fingers to get the best out of it.

> I still needed it the next day — this was one massive mozzie — but today I only lashed some on as I’ve easily gotten into the habit.

Would I use it for anything else? I might possibly try it on my cuticles or on my heels — basically, the further away from my nose the better — but this is now and always my go-to itchbuster.

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€14.95/£12.84

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Laisson Entrer Le Soleil: Suncream, A Theme

9 Jul

I got a truck load — or a lorry load, depending on which national lexicon I am writing with — of sunscreen this year, and it is actually even more necessary than ever to have been testing it out. I’ve only had time to write about my faves because we’re having a rainy patch — a brief rainy patch before the sun starts splitting the stones once more — which it has been, off and on all day, but my weather app is looking a bit ominous towards the end of the week.

I found, in the course of my investigations that I had a penchant, if you will, for French brands. Alors: mes pensées.

NUXE PARIS Sun: Milky Spray for Face and Body 20SPF {€19.95} and Delicious Cream for Face {€19.95} smells abso spectac, feels like super posh product, won’t break the bank, and works. Did I say it smells good? It smells great, floral without being too heady, and completely like you are on holiday, even if you are only walking down the seafront, or hanging out in the park. The milky spray is really milky, but the spray is focused, so it doesn’t make a mess. Well, not unless you’re trying to spray yourself from all sides.

I adore the convenience of a sunstick, especially when — wait for it — I am out on the horses, but find that many of them are so hard in texture (the sticks, not the horses) that what they are imparting in protection from wrinkles from the sun, they are causing in pulling my skin all over the place. PAYOT‘s Sun Sensi Protective Anti-aging Stick, SPF 50 {€24.20} goes on like butter, and absorbs like… like something super absorbent. This is terrific for lashing on to your face at the last minute, and also for quick touch-ups, espesh on the nose.

LES SUNCREAMS 2014

 

GARNIER Ambre Solaire Dry Mist Medium SPF 20 Ultra-Light Dry Protection Mist {€24.20} is a true mist. It actually lands on your skin and soaks right up, so you can skip the middle-hand and just let it dry. Of course, in the beginning, I was so used to having to rub it in that I did, and it wasn’t necessary at all. This is perfect for when you’re out-of-doors and just want to get the application over with, or whilst indoors, when you just want to get the application over with. You could even, ahem, spray this on in your front room because you almost forgot, and it won’t ruin your furniture.

This falls into the make up category for me — it says BB on the tube, and it’s actually an excellent hybrid. VICHY LABORATOIRES V Capital Soleil SPF 50 BB Tinted Dry Touch Face Fluid {€16.50} is instantly tanning + SPFing, so if you’re lounging by the pool drinking cocktails, this will make you look amazing with zero effort. I find it too shiny for the office, if that makes any sense to you. I only wear it when I’m going to be mainly outside, reflecting the sun, looking stupidly healthy. It isn’t all that fluid — it really feels exactly like a BB, which is grand — but I love it anyway.

Here’s to having more reason to use them!

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Next up: my go-to sporty sunscreen…

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Mother’s Day 2014: Things That Spritz and Things That… Fits

24 Mar

Gift guides demonstrate the breadth of options one has when coming up to a big day like Mother’s Day {does anyone still call it Mothering Sunday, which sounds a little bit creepy?} or, they are prejudiced to the writer’s own preferences. This is a little bit of both. I like perfume, and I like things that are contained in other things, espesh when the container is ultimately useful in the future. I like all of these, and your mum may, too.

JO MALONE Rain & Angelica {€100} JO MALONEThis is one of four in the limited London Rain edition, hence the extra few bob in the price. The first hit of this is spectacular, truly infused with the freshness of rain. I pick up a little bit of pepper too, but that may just be my screwy nose (don’t ask me to talk about wine; I can tell if it’s red or white, that’s about the extent of it.) I just kept spraying it and spraying it on myself, because I kept missing the dry down — when I did get it, I was delighted for the wee blast of vetiver. This is lovely, but I will say it doesn’t have the staying power of some the classic JM scents.

Other scents in the collection include Wisteria & Violet, White Jasmine & Mint, and Black Cedarwood & Juniper, the last of which appeals as juniper = gin; also, the press materials claim that it has a ‘carnal touch of cumin’ in it, which — the mind reels.

LACOSTELACOSTE Eau de Lacoste Sensuelle {€60} This brand has always seemed preppy to me, which is mainly what they’re going for — that’s all in the way to say that sensual and little alligators haven’t exactly matched up in my mind. This is here to change yours: it’s got some amber notes in it, to darken things down a bit, and the bottle, as you can see, it designed to reflect the new tone.

It’s still sweet and yummy, though, and this dries down to a nougatine, vamilla-y vibe, so not too shocking a change. It’s definitely a touch more sophisticated — as in, less sporty — than the the original Eau de Lacoste for Women — but it doesn’t get completely down and dirty.

MUM'S DAY LUSH
LUSH Mum {€37.95} Talk about ‘what is says on the tin’! This container — yes, made of tin — is chock full of fun Lush stuff. Well, five seems like a ‘chock’ to me. There’s Dream Cream hand and body lotion, which is fab, and a trial-sized Gorgeous mosituriser for the face, along with four delicious bath additives, including a personal fave, the Secret Garden Bath Bomb. The tin is useful after mum uses everything up!

L'OCCITANE
L’OCCITANE The Exquisite Boudoir Collection {€17. with €40 purchase} I myself love a good coffret, and L’Occitane have packed this adorable, yet elegant box with five travel-sized products, including their glorious new scent, Neroli & Orchidee, in Eau de Toilette and body milk form. And you could even spend the €40 on mum — or on somebody else, ahem. You can now shop online at loccitane.ie, using the code VELVET, if you haven’t a boutique in your locality.

MUM'S DAY THE BODY SHOP
THE BODY SHOP Spritz & Moisture Basket {€22.95} Ah! A wee beach bag! Available in three ‘flavours’ — Satsuma, Shea, or Moringa — this contains a shower gel, an Eau de Toilette, and a sample of the brand’s famous body butter. Pictured is Satsuma, which I find to be refreshing and sexy, but the other two are equally good, depending on mum’s preference. Perfect to bring along on the big summer holidays.

FIT FLOPSFIT FLOPS The Skinny {€90} These also come in white, and look fab in either colour, I think it’s thanks to the cork-wraparound on the sole. White might go better with the above beach bag, but the red is so sporty and, I don’t know, yacht-y? Which may match nicely with the Lacoste perfume? If mum is an FF enthusiast, you won’t go wrong.

ROISIN CHOCOLATES ALDI
RÓISÍN’S Luxury Irish Chocolates {€9.99} From Aldi, these are delicious, and I can personally vouch for that, because I would never, ever recommend something without having tried it. Ever. So selfless! Anyway, this ‘fits’ because chocolates always work, for chocolate-loving mums, anyway.

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Lots of Love from LUSH: Literally

10 Feb

Yay! A cute box with things inside! LUSH are a prime purveyor of such containers, and as V Day looms, this goes both ways {ha, ha}: you can share the contents, or use them in anticipation of sharing their benefits, or encourage someone significant and otherly to purchase this for you, or you can treat your gorgeous self, as the case may be. Either way, you’ll come up smelling like a rose, with overtones of jasmine.

Bright, and beautyfull!
01 LOL BOX

Knot is knotty.
02 KNOTTY!
Thank God I wasn’t videoing this reveal, it took me ages to get that thing undone. The ribbon seems rather robust, for use in whatever way you may wish after all the bathing.

Is it me, or has it gotten smutty in here?

Time to clean things up!
03 LOTS INDEED
Now: these samples are excellently sized, which does matter. You’re going to want all the mileage you can get out of the Tender is the Night Massage Bar, which is the yellow thing with the pink flower on. The brand have improved the manufacture of their massage bars: in the past, it used to take about an eternity to get them to soften up. Aeration has made these more malleable from the off, and the scent is a blend of ylang ylang oil, Fair Trade vanilla absolute, and jasmine absolute.

Going counterclockwise, just for the craic:
> Neon Love Soap, made from soya yoghurt, is infused with the fragrance of fresh figs and passionfruit juice

> The invigorating scent of Prince Charming Shower Gel is down to its blend of grapefruit, sandalwood and geranium oils.

>I can vouch very highly for the Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner. It’s an in-shower body lotion, made with argan oil and rose oil > from damask roses, which are really sexy. It’s not rosy, like, you’re eligible-for-your-bus-pass rosy. The resulting super soft skin has to be felt to be believed.

> Sex Bomb Bath Ballistic! Jasmine blends with ylang ylang and clary sage to make your bath a sexy fizz-fest! Look how pretty!

Do with this information what you will. ‘Susan’ is a lovely name, meaning graceful lily, should you be debating same, down the road. Just sayin’.

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€32.50/£26.50/$52.95

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Tried & Tested @ The Herald: Groom-o-rama

9 Jan

This is a piece about some serious grooming tools to spruce you up for 2014.

The intro, however, applies to a splurge-o-rama piece I wrote, in conjunction with a best value column, and neither seem to have made an appearance on t’internet. Ah, well. My weekly reviews appear on Tuesdays, if you want to be all analogue about it.

Below please find the foot-care extravaganza that is the Emjoi MICRO Pedi 12 Piece Gift Set.
EMJOI GROOMING
I hate feet, but love this. Just goes to show: keep an open mind, and you too can wear shoes with an open toe.

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Soz, still jet lagging and a bit bonkers with it.

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Lucky Thirteen of 2013: The Year of Disposable Knickers

8 Jan

I was extremely fortunate last year, and enjoyed spa experiences up and down the country. I think the only corners I didn’t get to visit were down in Kerry and up in Donegal. Well, okay, and the very bottom in Cork, and maybe there is someplace in up in Antrim that would like my kind attention to their matters of mind, body, and spirit.

Not bein’ smart: it really is beneficial to all three to go and get some class of treatment somewhere. I wrote this in a burst of gratitude and guilt, and it still holds true. Self-care is important, and under the below circumstances, it ain’t cheap. The thing that is good though is that those local to such places might like to join the mailing lists of such posh spas — you never know what sort of deals are going down. That will cost you nothing…

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REVAS SPA fitzpatricks
I went to REVAS SPA in Fitzpatrick’s Woodlands Hotel in Adare, Co Limerick, less than a month after I’d arrived back home after my dad passed away. Since his mum was from Limerick City, I am not discounting his hand in this gig, and indeed in all the spa treats I got this year. This came up somewhat last minute; lots of internet organisation ensued, as I was going to have to get the bus to the train to the bus to a taxi to get there. Would it all be worth it in the end?

It would, even with the usual but-the-website-said unreliability of information on our wee rock. I had expected to leg it off the train for the bus, because that’s-what-the-website-said {is Bus Eireann’s the worst website in the world? I think so!}, but yeah, no. I did have enough time, though, to go light a candle for my dad in his mother’s parish church, which, given time, space, generations, and an ocean, was kind of like a miracle.

My treatment at Fitzpatrick’s was kind of like a miracle, too, mainly when it was over: I got tucked into a daybed, wrapped in fleece, given fruit and a healthy beverage, and left to lay there. I would still be lying there if I had my way. It felt as relaxing and decadent as anything I’d ever done, swathed in warmth and feeling entirely relaxed. I had the Essence of Fiji treatment, which involved full body exfoliation, massage, and a facial. Prior to that, I enjoyed the freedom of the Thermal Suite, which, to my mind, is as important as anything that is to transpire in the treatment rooms.

I felt that their suite, while well-appointed, was a little down-at-heel and in need some sprucing up — and then I found the mahoosive outdoor hot tub, and much was forgiven.

I will also say that the spa is a significant distance from the main body of the hotel, which is something of a buzz kill. Otherwise, everything else was fab, from the room to the food to the service. Also, having been able to drop the name of a dear pal in Dublin who is originally from the locality — well, that didn’t hurt. Heart U Éire!

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SPA SALVEO knockranny
Speaking of my ancestry. My great-gran on my dad’s side is from the Ballyhaunis area, and the invitation to spend a couple of days at Knockranny House Hotel in Westport, to avail of their Wellness and Radiance Ritual also seemed eerily apt. All I remember is that they use Kerstin Florian products, that the massage got down into the marrow of my bones, and that I saw God {She’s gorgeous.}

Well, okay, that’s not all: SPA SALVEO has garnered many awards lo these many years, and it’s easy to see why. The thermal suite is compact but complete; the pool is a decent length for getting your laps in; there’s a jacuzzi type set-up in a corner of the pool that is seriously strong and feels great; the staff and practitioners are welcoming and well able to deliver an unforgettable experience.

The hotel itself is enormous. When I was heading to my room, it felt a bit like The Shining, with its seemingly endless hallways. The room itself had more furniture in it than I would sit on in a week, much less two days, and the bathroom was stunning. I love a good bathroom.

As well, the food and service was spectacular. This was a large gathering of beauty journos, and it was utterly the craic. The train back to Dublin was a hungover post-party conveyance, with the majority of carriages filled with sore-headed folk returning after a weekend of debauchery in da Wesht. Couldn’t have asked for a better crowd with which to travel.

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MUCKROSS PARK cloisters
When I was designer for lady magazines, I would routinely do layouts for spa awards, and inevitably would be working with the photo above, and would inevitably yearn to be there. CLOISTERS SPA in Muckross Park Hotel in Killarney is another one of those multi-award winning venues, and I wrote in full about it here. I just transported myself back, through time and space, to their outdoor hot tub. *Sigh*

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SPIRIT ONE radisson
I interviewed Emer Gillen of Elemis here, about the tenth anniversary of Pro-Collagen Marine Cream’s launch, and about various other skincare related matters. There, too, find my review of the Elemis Pro-Collagen Quartz Lift Facial in SPIRIT ONE SPA in the Radisson Blu Galway, which also involved the massage of shoulders, hands, and feet – which is genius, because I always find myself yearning for a facial when I get a massage, and a massage when I get a facial…

This was another big beauty journo bash and once again the craic was had. Did I mention that on many of these jaunts, I am able to bring a pal? A pal was brought along on this one, and we got breakfast brought to the room, and sat around and chatted for ages — for so many ages that the front desk actually rang to see if we realised we had to check out.

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FRANCE le petit dejeuner
Oh, bon jour! This was a big trip, to the South of France grace á EAU THERMALE d’AVÈNE, to the town of Avène-les-Bains, to avail of their therapeutic bath treatment and learn more about the spa, and the products in which the water figures largely.

I had met Bao-Tan Pham, head marketer for the spa’s brand, and have a Q&A with her here. She accompanied us on the junket that incorporated not only the benefits of the spa, but the indisputable delights of cold champagne on hot Mediterranean nights, chats, and gorgeous, delicious food.

The treatment itself is shown to greatly reduce the severity of skin conditions like psoriasis, and is beneficial to burn victims, too. I was the de facto translator, and I did très bien, thanks very much. The bath itself was only twenty minutes long, but oh! what a comprehensive twenty minutes it was. It was followed by a shower that sprayed at us with varying degrees of strength, and then we all got to lay down and sigh in room full of loungers that overlooked a typically Southern French landscape. Le bliss! My skin was so clean and clear that I felt the Avène products that I used, when we were done, were working even more effectively than I had known them to work previously.

One night, we went out to eat by the sea, and the man set fire to the fish:
FRANCE le grande motte

And on the last day, we sat and moaned on the rooftop terrace of a truly stylish and fabulous Montpellier boutique hotel:
FRANCE montpellier roof top pool

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I zipped down to Kilkenny, a town I adore, for an overnighter in the Lyrath Estate Hotel, to give OASIS SPA a look in. I was to try their Ginger Renewal, an 85 minute treatment incorporating {ha} scrubbing, rubbing, and wrapping.

Service was a little funky, as the hotel is in receivership, but the place itself is being kept in great nick. Below, as perfect an autumnal view out of a hotel window that it is possible to gaze upon:
LYRATH grounds
Now, back in my days of designing spa awards pages, I downloaded many a photo of hot stone massage, which looked like a stupid and useless treatment, because the stones were laid down the spine, and what, left there til they cooled?

Uh, the therapist actually rubs the hot stones all over your body? Am I the only person in the world not to know that? I was too zoned out to laugh at myself, at that stage, although I am sure I made a noise. I suppose they are used to it, but I’ll take this opportunity to apologise to all the aestheticians at whom I grunted and gurgled in 2013.

Anyway, look at this.
LYRATH outdoor jacuz
I clearly have a fetish for containers of water placed in the out-of-doors, because here’s another hot tub that opens out into the wild. This is maybe the best one because you don’t have to entirely leave the building, so less feeling vulnerable in your togs. It’s more like a pool than a tub, too, and you can drape yourself over the edge and ponder the shrubbery as bubbly water massages your bod, and cool air wafts over your face.

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So, fingers crossed for 2014, but also: do investigate deals and such, especially of the day spa variety. Leaving is always a buzz kill, but most of the relaxation areas were worth their weight in gold — espesh at Revas, and at Cloisters — and even when you have to drive away after, you’ll have given yourself a really fantastic treat.

Also: brides! Ask for this on your registry!

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