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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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.}

Gift Guide 2015: Happy Holiday Gift Sets I

Welcome to 2015’s gift guide! 

Gift sets have come a long way since the days of buying your mum a dusting powder duo from the chemists. Here’s a few of my stylish faves.

GIFTS I

DERMALOGICA
Super Rich Repair + Two Gifts! €79.70
I adore this treatment cream, and this gift also come with Skin Resurfacing Cleanser and an exfoliating mitt. That mitt! I don’t know, I’d say any old skin cells will takeo ne look at it and give themselves up without a fight! When they say ‘super rich’, they mean it: this is a heavy cream that is well-suited for this time of year, when weather conditions are primed to wreck your face. The cream alone is the same price as the gift {it’s full-size} and the travel-size of the cleanser is big enough to get a good intro to it. That mitt, though — that’s the real bonus in this little beaut.

BURT’S BEES
Love From Nature €16.95
Sadly, we lost Burt this year, but his legacy lives on. As a devotee of lip balm, it doesn’t get any better than this — you get full-sized samples of their legendary Beeswax Lip Balm with Vitamin E & Peppermint, a Honey Lip Balm and Almond and Milk Hand Cream. As a devotee of gift boxes that you can use to put stuff in, this is one of the best I’ve seen so far this season.

L’OCCITANE
Hand Cream Collection RRP €32
I am not a fan of hand cream, but I adores those produced by the Provencal brand. This a lovely variety of scent, from clean {Dry Skin Hand Cream} to floral {Roses et Reines}, to fruity-flowery {Fleurs de Censier} to citrusy {Vervaine}. I received this sample from The Loop, the shopping centre in Dublin Airport, so if you’re stuck for a last minute gift and don’t want it to look you were stuck, then I’d say grab this up before you head for your gate.

ORIGINS
Ginger Pleasures €60
ORIGINS ginger
I love this range, and the scent is not so gingery that you smell like a little baked cookie man: there’s lemon, lime and bergamot in there, too. The brand have redesigned the packaging so that it’s got cool 60s Saul Bass-designed-movie-titles vibe {too graphic designer insidery?} and the samples in the set are really generous: 200mls of Ginger Souffle body cream, 100mls of Ginger Burst body wash, 100mls of Ginger body scrub, along with a mini Ginger Essence fragrance and a bottle of Ginger Gloss body oil — and a body puff!. This version is available at Arnotts, and if you like to layer, this is fragrant set does the business.

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Gift Guide 2015: Sally Hansen and Make A Wish

Here’s a great way to get the holiday giving underway. Sally Hansen and Make-A-Wish Ireland have teamed up this year to give someone on your list, and a child aged 3 to 17 years, lovely treat. Buy the specially-branded Miracle Gel Duo and the charity will receive €0.50 for each sold.
SALLY H MAKE A WISH
The duo is priced at €14.95, which is a fiver of a saving for you, and the monies raised for the charity go towards making wishes come true for terminally ill kids. You can find this thoughtful deal at all good pharmacies nationwide. {Don’t ever shop at a bad pharmacy.}

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The tree ornament came with my press sample and isn’t part of the deal, which is a pity because it is pretty cute.

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The No7 Advent Calendar {Deal With It}

Ooh, this is super fantastically gorgeous:

No7 ADVENT CALENDAR

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!

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Look, it’s almost Hallowe’en, okay?!?

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

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!

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€10.95/£7.95/$15.95

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*Did that on purpose

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Dr Rescue to the… Rescue

I make no secret of the fact that my nails are manky: my nail beds are shallow, my cuticles grow like weeds, and now that splitting has entered to repertoire, they are simply hopeless. Can this new line of nail product from Maybelline make a difference?
DR RESCUE balm
I love the idea of a ‘lip’ balm for my cuticles and SOS Balm Nail + Cuticle Care is new one on me, and the promise to moisture brittle nails is one that I’m going to hold it to.
DR RESCUE the balm
The actual application is slightly awkward given the flat surface, which doesn’t glide as well as it ought. Applying some to a finger and transferring it to another finger is a fair enough solution, if slightly messy. After one round, though, my cuticles were shiny with health, so that makes up for the awk.
DR RESCUE all in one
There is a separate Gel Effect Base Coat which provides the look of lacquer and a CC Top Coat which helps to whiten and brighten the nails, but if I can do something All-In-One, that is always going to be my choice. This is a base, top and treatment and it’s the way I’m going to go.

At €5.99 for each, you can DIY your manicure for about the same price as you would in salon, if not cheaper. We’ll see how my manky nails and I get on!

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