Lucky Thirteen of 2013: The Year of Disposable Knickers

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…


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!


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.


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*


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.


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


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.


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!


Lucky Thirteen of 2013: The Selfie Apologist

Simply because mine are routinely daft and unflattering. Selfies have become such an object of derision, that I felt I had to chime in on their defense.

In fairness, this is a blog about beauty and make up and other products and services, and many of the former involve my face, so… there you go. A picture = 1000 words.

Freshman year in art college, my drawing teacher said that what he liked about my self portraits — actual, charcoal-on-paper selfies — was that I wasn’t vain about the way I portrayed myself. Which may in fact be a left-handed compliment, because he was kinda like that, but clearly it made an impression on me, and I took the good from the comment.

Because srsly:
The BLISS fabulous skin-reviving rubberizing mask didn’t peel off in one piece as hoped.


photo 2
Mud mask selfies: run of the mill. This ORIGINS Clear Improvement™ Active Charcoal Mask is not, however. I really got great results from using this. Squeaky clean!



Had to post both of these again: my first ‘blind’ selfies. Cotton pads courtesy of CLARINS PARIS Skin Smoothing Eye Mask treatment.

CLARINS eye mask fail


Hello. The PEARLYS Teeth Brightening Treatment in action.


Lucky Thirteen of 2013: The Love/Hate Beauty Treatment of the Year

Not that Love/Hate, as I’m sure it would involve some class of blunt object.

This love/hate: the amazing look of eyelash extensions, and their less savoury aspects. Search the eyelash extension tag for the saga in its entirety; they look stupid fabulous, but amongst the things that I found dislikable were A} the time one of these bad girls got stuck in my eye, and B} the feeling that I never quite got eyeshadow or eyeliner — or any of the make up around my eyes — completely cleaned off.

The pictures tell the tale; every time I see this shot, I feel like doing it all over again.
EYELASHES the Original

And this one, which was taken during week five, in which I supplemented them with mascara, which I was expressly told not to do. I look like Bambi, or some other class of cartoon doe:
EYELASHES week five

And just for compare-and-contrast purposes, this is the way my eyes look on an average, unextended day:
Like Dreyer’s Saint Joan, with fewer Inquisitors.

I’ve had many, many treatments this year, and this was the one that was the most noticeable. After the first post, the amount of people squinting at my face was rivalled only by the curiosity when I got The Botox that time. There were also so many scary stories about lashes never growing back, which luckily didn’t happen. Would I do it again? Well, as long as I don’t look at those pictures, the answer is always No way…


Lucky Thirteen of 2013: Iseree Cotton Pads, The Unsung Hero

ISEREE cotton pads €.79These are 79¢. For 120 pads.

I was happy enough to leave it at that and post. I mean, even for Lidl, that is so cheap. Also: cotton is compostable/recyclable. You can do allll your face stuff — cleanse, tone, micellar water, pore minimiser — willy nilly, safe in the knowledge that you are being thrifty and green.

I’ve also found that these are the same all the time, which is not always the case with value brands. You buy a thing, and get used to the way it is, and then somebody takes a notion to either make it ‘better’, or more likely, try to make it even more cheaply, and the quality is destroyed — not the case here, which is great.

120 ÷ 3/day = 40 days of cottony goodness. I mean, approximately. Then there are the days when you have to use a million of them to remove the sparkly nail varnish whose base is apparently super glue, the days when you go a bit mad with the smokey eye, the days when your skin just feels… dusty, or something, and you’ve just got to use that cleansing water yet again.

Heart u Iseree Cotton Pads! Don’t ever change. And I mean that.


That’s .79 euro-style cents, peeps.


Lucky Thirteen of 2013: Smartest Make Up of the Year

LANCÔME’s Teint Visionnaire is so, so smart.
Perfectly matched concealer in the cap! I ask you.

See here for a stupid dewy lookin’ selfie, and you may note its appearance here, bottom right.

When I was packing for The Christmas, I realised that I couldn’t do without this; I swathed it in bubble wrap and wrapped it a T shirt and tucked it in a boot. It’s that good.


Lucky Thirteen of 2013: Best Headline Meets Best Relaunch?

I think so.

DDML+ livin large

As seen in The Loop, T2, Dublin Airport

Is this the best display of a product ever? Oh, yeah.

The Internets were quite vocal about the relaunch of the beloved Dramatically Different Mositurising Lotion with the new +, with many complaining about the change in texture.

Me, I had grown up using this, and in my new life as a beauty journo, I had so many other things to try that this fell by the wayside.

I personally found that this felt richer than it had, and therefore believed that the primary innovation, that of strengthening the skin’s own moisture barrier, seems entirely plausible.

All I know is, it feels terrific to me, and I’m happy that the auld big yellow bottle is back in my skincare line up.


Lucky Thirteen of 2013: Best Haiku Review of the Year

Art imitates life: the poem is only going to be as good as the product. Neal’s Yard Organic Beauty Sleep was one of the year’s best new launches, and it inspired me to flights of fancy.

I have had hit-or-miss experiences with the brand, but this is a hit that goes through the roof. The original post is here; I look forward to the day that I can link to the glorious scent. Surely that is on track somewhere in software development land? Too weird?


Lucky Thirteen of 2013: Cheekiest Q in a Q&A


Magnet! Oh!

Also: this was one of the top traffic-generating posts of the year as well. This B&B! Q&A with the creator of the LadyCare Magnet made a change from my usual run of querying, and apparently Derek thought Q#2 was pretty funny.

Not funny: hot flashes! Night sweats! This little genius knocks ’em right out. Can’t recommend it more highly.

I used magnets to great effect when treated The Horseriding Injury, the story of which I am sure is linked in the above link. I tend to forget to keep using them, even though I should, as the the tendons continue perilously easy to induce enflarement upon. <Wow, what? In the same way, I suppose I should wear this all the time, but I don’t think I need it everyday. When I feel the surges about to descend again I just slap in on my undies — and trust me young wans, this shit is unmistakable, even as, like me, you won’t have experienced it before. It’s all ahead of you! Bwahahahahaha!