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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


I Try Before You Buy: Lipgloss

If you want the light texture of a gloss with the deep pigment of a lipstick, then have I got a bunch of reviews for you.

REVLON ColorBurst Lacquer Balm in Demure {€10.99}
These pigments are so intense, they seemed too bold to be balms. They are super hydrating, though, and so they remain. Go for a lighter hue like Demure (pictured below), a mauvy pink, if you can’t be bothered with high maintenance. You’ll get good coverage without too much fuss.

MAC COSMETICS Mineralise Glass Lip Gloss in Vibrant Vibe {€22}
I had always wanted to love the brand’s Lip Glasses, but they were sticky, and thick, and you’d never want to find yourself lobbing the gob unexpectedly when wearing it. This new version is basically perfect: light and shiny and full of pigment — snog away!


YVES SAINT LAURENT Gloss Volupté in Prune Organdi {€25}
Well, you’re not going to be putting this on with your eyes closed (this shade is dark), but the innovation as regards the applicator is genius. The doe-foot pad at the end of the wand is bent just enough to perfectly follow the mouth’s contour when your lips are closed over it. It’s made to fit the way we use it. The melon-y scent is lovely, and the texture is weightless.

SMASHBOX Be Legendary Long-wear Lip Lacquer in Legendary {€24}
Holy moly! This is like pure lipstick in liquid form, meaning it has the punchy pigment of a lippy, but it glides on like a gloss. You’ll need a steady hand with this one, which is red as red gets. Maybe lay in a lipliner just in case you need help. It’s light as a feather, and is as long-wearing as promised in the name. However, it is the highest of maintenance — you’re really going to have to want this.

BURT’S BEES Lipgloss in Starry Night {€11.95}
I have been going-to this for well over a month, so much so that I’ve just about worn off all the copy printed on the tube. This is lush and dark, and yet I’ve managed the tricky business of touching this up with no mirror to hand — but then I cheat and check up in the nearest reflective surface, so I don’t know who I’m fooling. It fades down to a darkish pink, which is okay, but I’d prefer it to stay strong.


Love This: Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Gloss + Rimmel Mascara


This is Ruby Moon: it’s a gloss with all the pigmentation of a lippy. It is light as a feather and it sparkles. Need I say more? Oh, it’s a tenner.

Also: dem lashes? Rimmel Extra 3D Lash Mascara, less than a tenner {€6.49}.

Just had to share.


Edit: A rogue ‘This’ thanks to the not-terribly-good quick post function. Anyone else not in love with it?


Thanks for Making My Life Easier: Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm

And yet, more difficult at the same time, given this, for example. Now I gotta decide what are the circs under which to utilise this little beauty.

This is Blush Orchid, one of four new additions to Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm range. Best of both worlds, as far I can tell: a little bit of tint, a whole lot of balm. I like the clever tube in which it comes — I wonder if this is less packaging, or more? It’s certainly superior to the sort in which a tube is encased in plastic and glued to cardboard. Does anyone read all this stuff, though?
There’s even more text on the pink part of the barrel.

Whatevs! Really love it: it is emollient without being slippery, and the tint is just exactly right.

I forgot I had it on, and even though one of the pleasures in life, as far as I am concerned, is the ritual re-application of lip balm, I didn’t obsessively top this up… which probably means that my obsessive topping up derives from necessity, which means I do the thing I love to do because the product I adore is inferior?

Oh, dear, I feel an existential crisis coming on!


Petunia, Sweet Violet, and Caramel Daisy join Blush Orchid as 2013’s new hues.


€7.95; available from The Health Store, Nourish, Avoca and selected independent health stores and pharmacies nationwide.


Lip Balms That I Have {And Have Loved}

I’ve been upfront about my lip balm affection before, but the balms featured in that post? Gone, daddy, gone. There was also the one about the boots, which when I scrolled down to it, I was like Wha’? and then it made sense.

And then my pal Karen over at Lovely Girlie Bits posted about her sincere affection for the balm of lips, and gave us o’er here an auld mention. So, go have a look at alllll the balms that I had hanging about, under my desk, in a box.

I’m not ashamed! Because — because I actually need lip balms in my life!

When I was a child, my lips were so dry that I used to lick them all the time; this happened mostly in the winter, so I’d go out into the freezing cold {because I had to walk miles to school in the snow}{not really} and then they would get all chapped — so I would lick them some more, etc, etc. It was painful, and also not very lovely to look at. Poor wee Susan!

So, you see, my inner child is behind all this. I am healing my inner child. And by ‘all this’, I mean not only the thirteen lip treatments underneath my desk in the box, but also:

BALM on the desk

The three on the top of my desk…

BALM by the couch

The two that sit by my couch…

And most importantly…

BALM sue's bees

The one with my name on it!

I’ve enjoyed Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm in the past, and I find this particular potion, made from vitamin E and peppermint, to be especially ameliorative. Plus: tingly! In fact: I’ve got a wee tin of this by my bed, and it is my go-to good-night lip balm.

So I am happy to celebrate the 21st birthday of this balm, which sells one tube every two seconds, somewhere in the world.

Happily, at this festive time, there is even more good news: Burt’s Bees lip gloss wands are coming soon!


Next: what balm suits which mood!


Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm is available in all good health stores, and retails for €3.95


Burt’s Bees and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Yes, that makes sense, because whenever I see something like this…

… in my head, I exclaim ‘It’s cuuuuddddddddde!’.

It gets better!

Those are perfectly sized samples of all you’d need to be well-cleansed and moisturised all over your travellin’ bod.

From left:
>Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream
>Hand Salve
>Naturally Nourishing Milk & Honey Body Lotion
>Beeswax Lip Balm
>Coconut Foot Cream

I can’t imagine a better way to treat yourself when you’re treating yourself to a holiday; this kit has got it all, and it’s utterly packable.

I think I’ll spend this dreary day dreaming about what I’ll pack in this wee case when next I hit the road. A sunny road, a road that leads to a beach and a lounge chair and cocktail. A frosty, fruity cocktail, that is on sale, three for the price of two…

Essential Burt’s Bees Kit is €16.95; case not included {sorrrreee ladiezzz!}

Mum’s Day: The Woman Herself

Well, I can’t get my head round this ‘holiday’ — not that mums don’t deserve one, inverted commas or not! — but where I come from, Mother’s Day is in May or something, and my mum isn’t here {in Ireland, I mean, she’s still here here.} Ambivalence reigns.

Although I have lovely friends, both here and in Amurraka, that are mums!

I’ll quit while I’m ahead.

Look at the wee collage I made in Photoshop! I had to stop tweaking because I was spending way too much time on it. It’s okay. Oh, shoot, there’s just one thing I could —

Enough! Clockwise, from left:

I love the look of this wee thing, and if your mum is in any way gadgety — that sounds wrong… — the Logitech Mini Boom Box (€79.99; available from Harvey Norman) is a useful and fun addition to her handbag. It’s not only a mobile speaker that pairs via Bluetooth with whatever other gadgety thing she’s got, but it is also a speakerphone, so when she wants to tell a story to a bunch of people, and you’re not there, she can put you on speaker. You know what I’m talking about.

Then there’s the VOYA Me Time Anti-ageing Moisturiser (€57). Now, do you feel the hair on the back of your neck rising at the notion of handing mum anti-ageing anything? Don’t be afraid! You just say that you heard this product is great (it is: it’s guaranteed Irish and made from sustainably harvested seaweed right off our own shores) and that it’s never too early to start fending off the signs of ageing. This implies that there’s no wrinkles a’tall, yeah? Did I do that right?

Okay, I don’t know, but I think if I handed my mother a box of Viviscal Maximum Strength Hair Nourishment (€49.95 for 60 tablets), she’d squint down at the box, raise her eyebrows just so, and say, ‘Oh! Okay.’ I am laugh-quivering at myself right this second. Seriously, though? Nothing breaks my heart like female pattern-baldness, and I’m kinda giving these consideration myself. I don’t know how to present this, but if your mum has gorgeous hair, why shouldn’t she be able to keep it? Two tablets a day help to nourish the follicles from the inside out, and there’s also shampoo and conditioner to back it up. Easy peasy.

The chicken-hearted among us, who nevertheless have exquisite taste, may like to grab up one of these Grace Handbags (€35) from beautycouture… sorry, got lost surfing all those adorable bags, and made a side trip into the clutches. Beautycouture.ie is another Irish business that deserves your support, and frankly, at those prices, I think mum-and-daughter matching malas is a terrific idea.

Finally, a gift box is a glorious thing, and Burt’s Bees Head to Toe Kit (€16.95) is completely brilliant. You’ve got mum covered from, uh, head to toe, from Mr Bee’s excellent Coconut Foot Cream, through the Fabulously Fresh Peppermint & Rosemary Body Wash, the Naturally Nourishing Milk & Honey Body Lotion, the Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream, to the Hand Salve and Beeswax Lip Balm. Every extremity accounted for!