Gift Guide 2015: Happy Holiday Gift Sets II

Make your giftee clean and bright…

LUSH
Selection of gift sets ranging from €11.95 to €220
LUSH gifts
Any Lush outlet takes on the atmosphere of Aladdin’s Cave at this time of year, and they’ve truly cornered the market on thoughtful, beautifully presented gifts. From the smaller boxes that contain two well-matched, full-sized products, to the massive collections like Wow! that comes with 36 samples from across their Christmas range — or the Winter Wonderland {117.50}, for the serial bath-taker in your life: 20 bath additives of the bomb, melt and bubble variety are sure to make someone happy for months.

LUSH winter wonderland

Here’s that magical box, and at right: the barest tip of the festive bathing iceberg. I know that people have widely diverging opinions related to the scent of Lush stuff — I heart it big time, personally. The best part of this particular gift set? The artwork on the box was created by ARTHOUSE Meath, a collective of art instructors who work with people who suffer from severe epilepsy, and those with learning and physical difficulties. This is just another indication of Lush’s commitment to outreach, and to involving local artists and artisans in their process. That’s the true spirit of the season, right there.

BENEFIT
Party Poppers €46 Get Your Party On and You’re So Party €56
BENEFIT GIFTS
This brand get it right year after year, and they’ve surpassed themselves in 2015. These two are my faves: Party Poppers is designed along the lines of an Advent Calendar, but celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas — along with a song that belts out when you open it… or even walk past it with too much vigour. It’s full of minis of Benefit’s greatest hits, and it’s well worth the fright you get when you hear someone singing and you don’t know where it’s coming from.

As far as collectible tins go, both Get Your Party On and You’re So Party are the proverbial gifts that keep on giving — I can’t even imagine how much stuff you could stash in these tins, once you gleefully decant the prizes inside. As regards the former, your amazed love one will find They’re Real Mascara and Hoola Bronzing Powder as well as a bottle of High Beam, and Gimme Brow in mediUm/deep. The latter will discover full-size They’re Real Mascara and Hoola Bronzing Powder, and mini POREfessional and Ultra Plush Lip Gloss Mini In Hoola. Like Lush, there are many choices to make based on your budget — it couldn’t be easier to shop.

ELIZABETH ARDEN
Original Eight Hour Set €30, available @theloopdublin in Dublin Airport
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Original Set €30.00
It’s unheard of for a brand to have a product that retains its cult status — for 85 years! — but that’s exactly what Elizabeth Arden have in their Eight Hour Cream. Originally developed by Miss Arden herself to doctor her thoroughbreds, it was the very first product to be released under the now classic name. For an astonishing price, you get Face Cream, Skin Protectant — which literally is useful from top to toe, for shaping brows to soothing rough heels — and a lip balm. A great introduction to a versatile product — and seriously, that price!

AVOCA
Medley Of Soaps €17.50, also at The Loop
Avoca Medley of Soaps €17.50
Everything about this is exquisite, which is one of my favourite words. The packaging, the variety of scents, and the price all combine to make this an terrific Irish gift for someone with excellent taste and fancy spare loo. Oh, forget that! Encourage your giftee to treat themselves and use them everyday! Just because something’s exquistie doens’t mean that it can’t be quotidian.

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Festive ’14: Benefit

Love the look of this year’s gifts from Benefit, who do such a good line in same. BENEFIT
Clockwise from left: Fun-size Flirts, with handbag portions of the brand’s most-loved, best-selling cosmetics; Sweet Tintations, two pairs of the tint paris of lip balm and stain; and Cheeky Sweet Spot, for the gal who who can’t get enough of Benefit’s blushers, they are all here in one place.COMPLEXIONS GIFT SET

They’ve also got their b.right skincare all in one clever tin. Complexion Confections contains a POREfessional mini, an Instant Comeback Facial Serum mini, Triple Performing Facial Emulsion and It’s Potent Eye Cream. This particular set makes the best use of the tin it comes in, as some of the other sets don’t fill them as nicely as this one does. Love the tin just for itself, nothing like a good tin.

And here’s the full effect of all the gifts in one place, thanks to Debenhams.
BENE GIFTS
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Fun-size Flirts €43/£29.50
Sweet Tintations €29.50/£19.50
Cheeky Sweet Spot €43/£29.50
Complexion Confections €43/£39.50

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Is A Perfectly Made Up Face Your Goooooooallllllllll?

I have been utterly and completely distracted by the World Cup. I’ve got a backlog of about a million things I’ve been working on, but the minute the clock hits a certain hour, I am gone, totally focused on the matches of the day. In fact, I’ve got all of ten minutes before the latest round of the last group matches begins!

Do you give not a monkeys about footie? Here’s something for your face:

BENEFIT SCORE!Clever Benefit, very clever! Not only the wisdom to package something for the summer that is in it, but also because this is a perfect combination of travel sizes. I hate not being able to do my usual face when I go on hols — or perhaps to the final of a major soccer tournament* — so to have all these bits in miniature is a real treat.

As ever, can’t say enough good things about PoreFessional, and the BeneTint doubles as a lippy, too. The sample size of They’re Real is also a genius addition.

Gotta go! Chat soon about other stuff, once the first round is done!

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Beauty Score! is €39.50, available at Debenhams, Benefit Boutiques and online at benefitcosmetics.co.uk.

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*I have entered every competition to win a trip to the final that I could find. Wish me luck!

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Roll Up, Roll Up: Benefit Big Easy Multi-Balancing Complexion Perfector and Gimme Brows

Ah sure, how hard could that be?
BENEFIT BALANCE
Pretty hard, I am guessing.

How easy is it to have to perfect skin? Eh, that depends. Benefit are making a new contribution to the flawless face-stakes with Big Easy Multi-Balancing Complexion Perfector, a liquid-to-powder that is balancing {see what they did there?}, self-adjusting and perfecting. Below, please see Mark Dixon, Irish BeneFit ambassador, making that last point:

BENEFIT Mark

Also: mini-burgers and delicious, delicious chips

I’ve given it a go, under a variety of circumstances, and I find that even though it is not technically a foundation — because the coverage is light-to-medium — when I treat it like a foundation, it works better. That means a good going over the face with PoreFessional and application with a brush.

I am not one hundred per cent sure that this product is meant to merit the full welly, but it got it anyway, because it did indeed feel light, yet comprehensively covering. When I used it on its own, I wasn’t as happy with the result. I mean, you can build it and build it, but that seems to run counter to claims that you’re done in one — coat, that is.

I did find the result to be as impressive as our featured acrobatettes, though: a healthy look with just the correct amount of glow, not shine; and even with the primer, it didn’t feel like I had anything on my face.

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At the same launch, I was introduced to something that I fell in love with instantly. I am always on the lookout for new brow-defining products, and am stupid impressed with Gimme Brow:
GIMME BROW 1
A vast improvement on their Speed Brow, they took its sensible feature — a wand with a brush that is like a mascara brush — made it smaller, and infused the product with volumizing fibres. There’s pigment, too, either light/medium or medium/deep; this is the light version, which I never would have chosen, always going for the Academy Awards calibre Anne Hathaway brow, but seriously, those fibres fill things out, and even extend, naturally:
GIMME BROW 2
This last is dead handy, and as I am having to re-grow the lengths of my brows {what a life! I know, I know…}, this is helping get the look back without looking like something out of a Fellini film.

Speaking of, once more, with feeling:
BENEFIT Fit!

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Big Easy Multi-Balancing Complexion Perfector: €37/£32.50/$38

Gimme Brow: €24/£17.50/$22

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A Miscellany of Brushes: My Top Ten

MY BRUSHESMake up brushes had always seemed an indulgence to me, and were also an extra bunch of fiddly things that couldn’t stand up on their own — which meant I’d have to find a place to keep them, and in most of the places I’ve lived in the last… yikes, fifteen-point-six years, there’s been minimal bathroom-room.

There was also a thing where I was keeping the sets inviolate? Which is like, what? I got over that. And I was, okay, maybe a tiny bit intimidated by make up brushes — got over that, and haven’t looked back. They really are good for you, and your face.

Got well over that, found a jar to hold ’em, and got down to putting together, no matter their provenance, my own personal collection of brushes. There are others, for sure, and someday perhaps they will move into the rotation. In fact, I’ve made some changes to this lot already, and I only took this photo a month ago.

From the left!

> The BENEFIT Foundation Brush is the best one I’ve tried. I prefer my fingers, no matter the truth that every MUA routinely lays down — that truth being that you get better coverage with less product. I get annoyed because: one more thing to clean!

> I don’t even know that JO MALONE make brushes anymore, but this big, puff ball of goodness is genius for applying loose powder, and pressed powder that I don’t want to be too matte.

> ISADORA‘s ginormous Kabuki is perfect for bronzer, and blush if I use just the very middle chunk of bristles. Which it is entirely possible to do.

> TRISH McEVOY‘s eyelash comb. I found the metal scary near my eye the first time I used it, but now I am fearless. Should probs clean that too, oops.

> Hmm, where did that come from… MARKS & SPENCER, I think? The eyelash comb, as you can see, did not travel well, and is toothless — but the little wedgey brush at the bottom is flawless when it comes to applying dark pigment at the lash lines.

> BOBBI BROWN is my only woman for smudging. {At the moment, anyway… I’ve just gotten me paws on a SMASHBOX Blending Brush, and it may join the crowd.}

> The SISLEY PARIS brush is okay, and it may lose its spot in the Top Ten. In fact, it already has because:

> The DR HAUSCHKA Dear Eyes Limited Edition brushes are fab. That’s the Definer pictured, and the Blender is fantastic, too, and will be shifting the Sisley out of the way.

> Have no idea where that wee Kabuki came from, but it travels exceptionally well, and is a staple in my daily going-out make up bag.

I’ve also got a REAL TECHNIQUES blush brush, and a BODY SHOP blush brush near to hand, but I notice that I rarely wear blush {Should I?!?}, and one-a them fan-shaped deals, via SMASHBOX, with which to apply that fabulous white stiff, the Photoset Finishing Powder, which I need to post about.

So many brushes, so little time!

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A swipe of brushes? Thinking their might be a better collective noun…

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Lucky Thirteen of 2013: Lippy, and the View From Below My Nose

WARNING: clicking through these links may result in PTND*.

I was into lipstick this year! I say that like it is news, like I haven’t posted this picture:
ALL THE LIPPYs
These were just the ones that were by the place where I keep my going-out-the-door stuff: my purse, the thingie with my Leap Card in it, my sunglasses.

Lots of lippys — thirteen, in fact — lots of pictures of my nose from an… interesting angle.

I reviewed eight shades of lipp-ay here, which alerted me to the proboscis problem — and then I clearly just chose to ignore it because: here I went again, and again, and… yeah. Um, and this one. And then also.

Sheesh.

The main issue I see is that I have not been wearing nearly enough purple/mauve lipstick.

There’s my new year’s resolution sorted!

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*Post Traumatic Nostril Disorder

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OMChristmas 2013: Gift Sets That Are Fab {And Mainly Come in Tins}

…and are not lame, which I used to think gift sets were — back when dinosaurs walked the earth. As the human race has evolved, so has the ways in which brands present their ‘best of’ in attractive packages for the festive season.

^^^That’s all code for: this is a simple and easy way to gift, but you wont look scabby because all of this stuff is nice.

DrHauschka Daily Face Care Kit
DR HAUSCHKA Skin Care Essentials {€27.95} is terrific way in which to introduce your natural-cosmetic-loving loved one to the brand. I am a sucker for a tin or a box, and oh! the uses this container would get put to!

LRP
I love LA ROCHE-POSAY‘s Lipikar line, having had great enjoyment out of their shower oil. If you buy two or more LRP products from your local chemists, you’ll receive this gift box plus 100mls Lipikar Cleansing Oil. I can’t imagine a better value gift, and if you’re needing to spread the love a little, you can surely give the two products away in your office Secret Santy, and the gift box to a loved one. In any event, you will get so much love in return, as this is truly an excellent brand.

PAYOT design lift regard
I’ve not had much opportunity try PAYOT; their Design Lift Regard Coffret {€85} comes in a pretty little zippered case, and contains a healthy sample of Design Lift Visage face cream and sample sizes of eye cream, masque, Elixir Jeunesse, and Design Lift Visage, which is a skin-tightening serum. The sizes are perfect for travel, and like all high quality brands, you’ll get good mileage out of the the samples — less is more.

BENEFIT groovy kinda love
OMG, here’s another tin just waiting to be used to hold things! A Groovy Kind-a Love {€39.50} is full of fabulousness, including the now-iconic Porefessional and They’re Real mascara. BENEFIT have done it again in the gift-set department. And again:
BestOfBenefit
Best of Benefit {€29.50} is truly the best of the brand, and if your loved one is a heathen and not enamoured of tins, then this box will do nicely. The sample sizes are eminently portable, and will go a long, long way. You’ll get particularly excellent mileage out of the Boi-ing and the BeneTint. I mean, your giftee will. Yeah, the person for whom you bought this. Right.

Marine algae Gift Set €12.99
ZIAJA Marine Algae Spa Gift Set {€12.99} is a terrific introduction to the value brand. There are seemingly limitless lines, from grapeseed to shea butter, but I am a fan of this one, myself. Throw in a bottle of the Enzyme Peeling Treatment {€4.99} and for less than €20, you’ve given someone pampering treat.

BODY SHOP butter snowman
I consider THE BODY SHOP to have been one of the first to conceive of this form of gifting, and in having been in the vanguard, I find it can be easy to forget about them. Well, if you go for a browse in your local shop, you’ll be amazed that anyone could: the level of design and presentation continues to improve every year, as does the quality of the product. I literally went ‘Ooh!’ when I opened the Shea Scrub & Soften Gift Set {€29.95}. A 100ml body butter is paired with 50mls of scrub. This tin has festive potential for years to come…

SANCTUARY SPA @ BOOTS
Oh, Boots, how are we supposed to keep up! There are so many bargains to be had, I almost didn’t know how to choose amongst them, but I do love the SANCTUARY SPA brand. Here is their Top to Toe Glow Pamper Tin Gift Set {a tin, how surprising!}, and it is stuffed full of self-care goodness. Oh, I gotta list ’em all: 250mls of Body Wash and Body Lotion; Spa Skin Body Polisher; Radiance Exfoliator {100ml}; Fresh Faced Purifying Wash {140ml}; Spa Facial Headband; Pumice Foot Scrub {50ml}; Moisture Rich Foot Butter {50ml}; Spa Pedicure Foot File. Whew! It’s £19, and with the best will in the world, I tried to get the € price. I’ll convert, but don’t quote me on this: €22. Sure, with all the 3 for 2 deals that are going at the moment, whatever the upward difference may be is easily made up at the till.

R&G FIGROGER & GALLET 100ml Fragrance Coffrets {€39.75} in which you get matching 50mls of Shower Gel and Body Lotion. Choose from one of their four most popular scents: Bois d’Orange, Fleur d’Osmanthus; Fleur de Figieur or Rose Imaginaire. Sadly, not contained in a tin, but that box is super pretty — no wrapping required! Your new year of fragrance layering starts here.

MICRO Pedi gift set and components
Give a beloved foot enthusiast the gift that keeps on giving. At a special introductory price of €49.95, you cannot beat EMJOI‘s MicroPedi Gift Set. Look at all that! And look how cute the little heart is on the cover of the box, it’s like two little feet… As someone who is grossed out by feet, even I am adoring this.

Go forth and shop!

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