WWASD? Post-Christmas Gift Guide

WHAT WOULD AUNTIE SUE DO? I was late, as usual, getting my gift guide together. Gathering images, deciding to take some pictures and do some Photoshop, making sure I’ve got prices and shopping info — it all takes (probably more) time (than it should). I’d gotten as far as the images and the photoshoppery — and then my family experienced an untimely and shocking loss: my beloved godmother and aunt, whose namesake I am, was struck down by a car two weeks before Christmas and killed. It’s as raw as that sentence, just the worst effing thing ever and I extend my compassion and empathy to anyone who has experienced something similar.

So, blogging and all it entailed was obviously shunted to the side; I also felt bad about not following through with my plans as my posting year had shifted largely to Instagram and I wanted to start back working here.

I couldn’t settle to what to do. Should I skip it? Should I reframe it? It seemed ridic to worry when there was so much more going on than the state of my wee blog. And then I thought:  what would Auntie Sue do?

She’d go shopping.

A longtime QVC devotee and coat-and-handbag enthusiast, she’d feel her feelings and hit the mall — or like most of us, do that simultaneously. I’m not sure I’m even half the woman she was, so I’ll just leave this here for those who got vouchers or gift tokens from Santa, or who are happy to spend cash the big fat man in the red suit might have left in their stockings. While I’m not certain that Jo Malone may even have any Christmas stock left, I do know that Lush do a big reduction on their Christmas gifts. In any event, I’ve honoured my intentions because that was Auntie Sue’s style.

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lush-set-1

Speaking of Lush: I don’t know how big the reductions are, but they do cut prices, and even ten percent off this collection is good value. Inside this stunning box resides a personal fave, Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner, The Comforter Bubble Bar and Shower Cream, Rub Rub Rub Body Scrub and a sample of Gorgeous, their truly excellent facial moisturiser. It’s not like you can shop in advance for next Christmas — Lush is not for hoarding — but early 2017 birthdays might benefit from the sales.

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burts-bees-lip-collection
Ideal for anyone who likes a range of lip colour choices that also involve lip care, I can’t recommend anything more highly. From the top, the famous Burt’s Bee tinted lip balm; in the middle, the legendary lip shimmer; and last but absolutely not least, the brand’s new lip crayon. I’ve been using the guts outta Redwood Forest: it’s a rich purplish red that works really well with a no-make up face, and is easy-peasy to reapply all day long.

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trilogy-radiance-set
If you haven’t tried the New Zealand’s brand uh-maaazing CoQ10 Booster Oil, here’s a great excuse to give it a go, along with samples from Trilogy’s Age Proof line. I’d say treat yo’self even if all these sets have sold out: I had my tester propped up precariously on its head, in an attempt to get every drop of goodness out of the bottle.

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too-faced-merry-macarons
I have been all about Two Faced in recent times: their Melted Matte Liquified Long Wear Matte Lipstick is the bomb, the best matte I’ve tried thus far, and their Better Than Sex mascara is legendary. The Christmas In New York Merry Macarons palette was a pleasant surprise, not only due to the delicious vanilla scent of the pans; while I didn’t find it the best to put on — the colours seemed to drag rather flow smoothly onto the lid — once I got it on, it stayed on and stayed fresh. This is/was a limited edition, but be inspired to check out their many eyeshadow palette options.

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jo-malone-candle-cutout
Speaking of LEs, this year Jo Malone‘s signature scent was Orange Bitters, and it was gorgeous. It was a perfect pairing with their new Basil & Neroli scent, so if you can’t get the former anymore, do check out the latter, which has already appeared in these, er, pages (screens? posts…) I also highly recommend dropping your spondoolicks on any of the three Dry Body Oils: Oud & Begamot, Dark Amber & Ginger Lily or Velvet Rose & Oud. They are great on the skin and make a terrific base for fragrance layering. Don’t like oils? (you heathen!) You can get these delicious intense sets in their signature body crème as well.

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dermalogica-body-and-face
Head-to-toe premium care, these are great when you’re heading off somewhere for a longer-than-usual period of time and don’t want to let your regime go by the wayside. I especially like the masques for travelling, as each one targets a specific experience: post-flight Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque is great to use inflight; Skin Hydrating Masque is perfect for post-sun exposure; and Charcoal Recovery Masque comes in handy if you’re on a city break and need to deep clean. The body care set comes with an Ultimate Buffing Cloth which is long enough to wrap around yourself and give your backside a good going over.

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body-shop-mask-duo
Clear impurities and plump up your skin simultaneously. Multi-masking may have seemed like a flash in the pan, but it’s really not, and this set gives you the option of Himalayan Charcoal for deep cleaning and British Rose for feeling fresh and hydrated. Both are 100% vegan and as per The Body Shop’s ethos, are never tested on animals. This Christmas, They donated funds from select gift sets to aid their Bio-Bridge initiative, which helps restore one square metre of rainforest per purchase. If you want to feel beautiful inside and out, this is the go-to brand.

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spa-magic-organics
Hey, let’s all just relax. I have several go-to I-can’t-sleep remedies, and I can say with confidence that Spa Magick is truly, well, magic. My stupid water heater takes ages and many euros to make a decent bath, so I’ll have to really be struggling before I’ll avail of the lavender salts; the oil, however, is the ideal bedside companion for application all over before the pursuit of snoozes. The six oils include lavender, rose-hip and vitamin E, so good for your skin and your restfulness. Apply to your pulse points in addition to your face, scalp or cuticles, and then breath deeply and zzzzzzzzzz.

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glitter-face
Does it have to be Christmas to glitter and glow? Eh, no: there’s nothing I like more than a little bit of highlight going a long way. And with New Year’s Eve imminent, this group makes a seamless transition from holiday to partay. Clockwise from left: Too Faced Snow Bunny Luminous Bronzer will do your face a good turn in the summertime, too; Paese Cosmetics Sun Of Egypt Powder is also a warming touch of sun and perfect if you prefer working with a loose mineral powder; L’Oréal True Match Liquid Highlight is a buildable wonder; Sleek MakeUP Diamonds In The Rough i-Lust Palette is a champagne-inspired eyeshadow palette; Jane Iredale 24-Karat Gold Dust is just dying to be stroked over your collarbones and décolletage; and finally my two faves from the Essie WInter Collection inspired by Swinging Sixties London:  Getting Groovy and Party On A Platform.

 

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You’re on your own with the prices, lads. 

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Launch Love: Dermalogica’s Phyto Replenish Oil

I reckon the biggest disappointment people experience in their day-to-day beauty dermalogica-phyo-replenishquest is immediate effect. Or in other words, magic. Makeup can be magic, but skincare takes more effort, and if doesn’t get better right away, we can be quick to bin the offending product, or skip whatever part of the regime it is that is letting us down.

Time, eh? Who asked it to be so slow?

Except when we start detecting signs of ageing, that is. Time suddenly turns into a speed-freak, running away on us, leaving fine lines and gaping pores behind. I flip the bird at you, Time — and not merely symbolically, either: DERMALOGICA’s new Phyto Replenish Oil is here to help us put You in your place.

I’m already a fan of their Overnight Repair Serum, so having been allowed to trial something equally as good for the daytime has been nothing but a joy, particularly as it works so well.

One of those nasty things that Time does is to reduce our ability to restore our lipids, those oils that create a protective layer against the environment and keep our skin supple and dewy. Phyto Replenish Oil is basically dewiness-in-a-bottle, thanks to a combination of plant-based active ingredients that makes us shine — in the good way — and helps shore up our depleted lipids.

There’s hyaluronic acid, chia seed oil {especially good for skin that is itchy and needs soothing}, orchid flower extract {which helps lock in moisture} and rice bran oil {provides UV ray and free radical protection}. The texture of Phyto Replenish is light it smells clean with a hint of floral freshness, and despite absorbing like a shot, it doesn’t leave the kind of dry squinch that many quick-absorbing products can: your skin will still feel plump and hydrated and gorgeous.

Add to your SPF or your moisturiser or primer, or use it straight up: six to seven drops will do you, and do right by you. It won’t leave your skin greasy-looking, either, and in fact imparts the kind of glow you took for granted, once upon a Time.

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Available now worldwide! €62/£79.45/$75

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I Used It All Up: Clinique Moisture Surge Melting Mask Balm

CLINIQUE Moisture Surge Melting Mask Balm

Hello, phone — meant to do that.

At €32 for 15ml, it doesn’t seem to be much of an investment, but I am so tempted to scrape out that little bit that’s left. CLINIQUE’s Moisture Surge Melting Mask Balm is a limited edition, and I liked it so much, I limited my application of this edition — counter-intuitive, I know, because shouldn’t you be using something you like? — but rationing it out made it last for almost six months.

Naturally, I have no before image. It looks like a tin of Vaseline, only richer and whiter, and the smallest scrape of a fingernail yielded enough to cover the face and a bit of neck, once warmed up in the palms. I never used it during the day, although one can, on one’s rough patches, and the directions suggested tissue-ing off any excess after ten minutes if using before bed — not me, I went for the full overnight intensive experience, and loved it.

That small size made it extremely easy to take along on trips, which = duh, but I have a whole slew of minis that are designated for travel, so I never think to bring along anything that I consider to be part of my serious regime. That’ll learn me!

Also: this feels clean, if you know what I mean: not sticky, not heavy, and I woke without feeling like I needed to scrape it off my skin. I highly recommend this little beauty!

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€32/£26/$Not finding it in the States?$

Beauty For a Snip! Cien at Lidl

Despite being rebranded, I have long admired the cotton pads for sale in Lidl. Iseree, Cien? Eh, just don’t take away my love, dudes.

Beauty products come and go in the global discount supermarket chain, but Cien‘s new line that’s taking up permanent residence from now on.
CIEN makeup launch
I’ve given the lippy a good going over, as well as the lip gloss, and both are excellent. I esepcially love the Rich Magenta (fourth from left) because it is just the right amount of pink without being too hot or too rosy.

Equally welcome is the new haircare range:
CIEN haircare launch
You can get the full whack for less than a sevener, and it is really stands up to anything that you’d buy in the €15-20 range, particularly for a keratin-infused concoction. In this case, the Intensive Repair Mask is my fave, as I love little better than a good hair mask; take this one for a spin if you are a fan of co-washing, it is so good.

For those of us who like to impulsively fling a new lippy into the trolley, you {we!} can now do this with abandon…

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{Co-washing, you say? It’s using conditioner only, without shampoo, something that those with fine and super curly hair swear by. My version is more like condition, shampoo, condition, and it’s worked a treat. I also find that this gets the best out of those good-for-you, but hard-to-use sulfate-free shampoo/conditioner duos. I find them pesky because of the low-lather, which makes my fine hair explode like bamboo shoots tossed into a wok. As ever, YMMV.}

The Nose Knows: Some Things That Smell Good

I love a good summertime scent – it’s the fragrant version of the summertime song {for me, this year it’s Christine and the Queens’ Tilted} {listening right now: j’adore!}

NUXE BODYIn terms of perfume, why have one fave if you can have several, including one that’s a body cream — and one that’ll transition you into autumn? I ask you.

This is pure perfection if you feel like spritzing even the lightest EDT is too much. NUXE BODY Relaxing Fragrant Water {€30} is a typically delicious offering from the French brand. It relies on notes like Coconut Sorbet, White Flowers and Wild Vanilla, but to me it smells very much akin to their beloved Huile Prodigieuse. That has a host of natural ingredients as well, with the Sweet Almond leading the way. Gorgeous and light, you can spray your whole self without fear of overwhelming yourself or anyone else; the bottle is quite heavy so I doubt you’ll be carting it round for top ups, sadly.

Did I say almond? ULITMATE BLENDS delicate oatI clearly have a grá for it. GARNIER‘s Ultimate Blends Body line is, well, in line with its haircare regime, so fragrance-layering lovers will be delirious with the possibilities. Delicate Oat is comprised of oat milk and white almond cream, and the 250ml version of the Soothing Hydrating Lotion will only set you back €4.14 at Boots. The feel is total luxury, I-spent-a-bomb-on-body-lotion-am-I-crazy, and the scent lasts most of the day. If it’s that hot out, I do tend to skimp on the lotioning as it feels icky, but luckily we live in Ireland so it is not often that much of an issue. There’s an amazingly rich Multi-purpose Soothing Balm in the same flavour that I’ll be hitting up in the winter.

The line also features Honey Treasures, Mythic Olive and Marvellous Oils {Argan & Camellia} if you’re not an almond enthusiast.

MICHAEL KORS coralJust looking at this makes me feel like I’m about to go fora swan along the Riviera. MICHAEL KORS Coral {€109/100mls} presents all light and fruity and festive, with just enough musk on the base to keep me interested. I don’t go crazy for girly-girly scents usually, but the grapefruit note has just enough bite, and it complements a sexy sandalwood dry down. I adore the bottle, which is kind of masculine, all square and formidable, and I keep it out on my dresser, which I almost never do. I just love looking at it. Staying power is only okay and this size isn’t exactly portable, either; I’d go for the handbag-friendly 30 ml for €55, tbh.

JML Basil & Neroli Campaign Shoot 1
Nothing like a JO MALONE launch to get the heart racing. There’s so much going on with the new Basil & Neroli, yet is so beautifully blended you’ll come away from it merely thinking ‘lovvvvvve’. The basil, of course, reminds us of the iconic Lime Basil & Mandarin, but whereas that is pure springtime joy, this is a more complicated light/dark concoction that lends itself to be ambiseasonal {I coined that at the launch and immediately tweeted that shiz}. It is also pansexual — not just for gals/gal indentifiers. It is glorious for everyone, with the neroli adding its signature bitter oranginess, and some vetiver in the base to give it heft.

The campaign is a nostalgic 60s black and white affair, but the scent is anything but. Plus! There’s a body creme and a candle, your whole life can be layered in this gorgeousness. The prices are as usual, 30ml is €54, 100ml is €109, Body Crème goes for €65 and the Home Candle is €52. The scent launches in September — too late for summer, you cry? Eh, not so much, given we’ll be getting a last blast of heat about mid-month {fingers crossed!}

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Undergoing Renovation

…and not sure about that Cersei-esque holding image but hey — let’s go with it for a wee while. { Also not sure about the way it’s looking on mobile… I’m due new photos soon, so we’ll see what happens. }

BRB with new posts, additional themes, and more photos up my nose as I re-enter life post-Equine Assisted Therapy and Learning Diploma. Yay!

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Time Out of Time: Lusty Beg Island

Take time out, they say. It’ll be grand, they say. Truth: there is nothing like a nice weekend away, much less one that involves pampering. I’m honoured to have been hosted at spa hotels all over the country, but the sensation of being on an island almost exactly in the middle of this island added even more of that special feeling of ‘being away’ than I’ve experienced so far.

Lusty Beg Island sits in Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh. The drive from Dublin to Enniskillen was a manageable 90 minutes-ish on the bus, and travelling from the depot to the island took about half an hour. When we crossed a bridge onto Boa Island, I was a tiny bit bummed and said to the driver, ‘Oh, so… this is like Achill? You can just drive on?’ He said, ‘You’ll see,’ and in moments, I did: after going up a boreen (okay, it wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t a dual carriageway), we came to a dock, and zipped onto a tidy little two-car ferry.

It was a journey of less than five minutes, if that, but once we disembarked, everything changed.

Lusty Beg Exterior (11)

Lusty Beg accommodation — one of the many options

From the Irish for ‘small lodge’, Lusty Beg was once home to monks, and within moments, I felt like I was stepping in their contemplative footsteps. Even with all the accommodation — 40 rooms, and an assortment of chalets, lodges, cabins and apartments — I felt like I had the place to myself. Even after having a lovely lunch in the bar, and seeing actual other people in the place, once I left to get my treatment, I had an uncanny sensation that I had the whole island to myself.

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THE SEAWEED BATH

Deep bath + VOYA seaweed = bliss!

I am masso fan of Lazy Days Seaweed Bath from VOYA, as I have described here; in fact, this was one of the very first products I ever blogged about. I haven’t had one in ages, so the chance to enjoy one, practically at the source, wasn’t something I was going to pass up. I’d already had a facial in the Island Spa that used VOYA products, and as such was pretttttty relaxed, but the soak in the seaweed-infused water finished me off, in the best possible sense.

There wasn’t a toxin left in me by the time the 30 minutes was up — and I didn’t actually make it for the full time. The tub, straight out of a sexy, renovated TV-decorating show bathroom, was long enough for me to stretch out in, and I added a bit of hot and cold water as necessary… but the drinking water from the pitcher that was set tub-side ended up going over my head to cool me down, as much as it went into me. I crawled out to take a break, and just as I was about to go back in for more, the knock on the door landed. As much as I wished it could have gone on forever, half an hour was in fact exactly enough.

I made my way to my self-catering log cabin (the kitchen was nicer than the one in my apartment), didn’t bother unpacking, and sat myself down on the couch, because:

THE VIEW

Utterly relaxing, rain…

And the next day, I spent a good few hours there again, because:

THE VIEW2

…and shine

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It’s not all seaweed baths and contemplation: there are numerous activities to avail of as well, of the casual adventure-type — although, having said that, the off-roading probably gets pretty hairy; from my own experience in the speedboat, don’t eat before embarking, because even if the lake’s not rough, which is was when I was taken for a spin, then the speed may make you want to vom.

THE BOAT

Yeah, okay, it looks as smooth as glass — it was not

Or you can try archery for the first time ever in your life and MAYBE HIT THE BULLSEYE.

BULLSEYE!

BOOM

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I adore a good illustrated map.

LUSTY BEG MAP

I literally didn’t even get to explore anything but the long skinny part #GottaGoBack

I can’t recommend the place more highly: it’s perfect for families, couples, solo travellers, you name it. Don’t bother thinking you can have your wedding there anytime in the new few years though, someone told me they’re booked out ’til 2018 — and I can’t imagine a better, low-key, fun, beautiful place to get hitched. See here for all the ins and outs and special offers, but honestly rain, shine or hail (I am pretty sure we got a little dose of that at some stage), this is one of the better breaks I’ve ever had — and I think it shows:

GLOWING!

Relaxed and glowy

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