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!


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

Gift Guide 2015: Happy Holiday Face

Here’s some lovely make up to get you in the festive spirit — I mean, to get your gift recipient in the festive spirit. {One for you, one for me…}

Colour Pop €25; Defining Moments €25
FUSCHIA gift sets
These are just two of the 12 gift boxes from the Irish brand, perfect for fans of mineral makeup and ideal for stocking fillers. I love the little lippys! They’re perfect for slipping into a pocket, and also, who uses up a lipstick all the way to the end? These sizes are ideal as far as I’m concerned. The glam lashes kit is also perfect for the party girl in your world. They’ve also got a number of palettes available, also at €25 — I’m a fan of the Nudes Limited Edition. I find that mineral eyeshadow really lasts, as it promises: if you’ve got someone who likes to look natural with a touch of enhancement, this will fill the bill.


Deluxe Gift Set €40
I was lucky enough to have met Sam and Nic Chapman at a spectacularly fancy lunch several weeks ago: they were warm and lovely, and we all had great chats about makeup, and ghosts {you had to be there.} This five brush set includes their heroes: the Multi Task, Tapered Foundation, Angled Highlighter, Base Shadow and Fine Liner, plus a gorge wee clutch that will contain them with style. This is a hot item — failing this, I’d recommend the Travel Essential Kit for €28.95.


Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette €46
It’s basically been the year of the palette, and despite competition from the brand’s Naked Smoky {without an ‘e’} offering, I think this is the one that pan-fans are gonna be happiest unwrapping. A combination of new colours personally developed by Gwen along with some UD perennial faves, each name has resonance with the singer-songwriter, and the balance of hues is such that you can go from a daytime nude to a nighttime colour blast all in one place. Heart this loads: I took it for a spin the other night and my pals couldn’t believe that I’d done my eyes myself, it looked that professional. That’s compliment, right…?


High on Lashes €22.50
Clinique do a great line in gifts, and you can get exceptional use out of their sample sizes. The Skinny Stick is new launch, this one in Slimming Black — and they’ve snuck a little bit of skincare thanks to their All About Eyes cream. I’d recommend the Lash Building Primer as well {€17} if you really want your friend/sister/mum to have gorgeous peepers in 2016. Also! I am saving some products for an end-of-year, finally-getting-round-to-reviewing posts, but I have to say, I love love love the Pretty Easy Liquid Eyelining Pen {€22.50}: it is easy and it is pretty, and it lasts and lasts — even through a long day at the desk and then on to horseriding. I’ve been using it for ages, and the tip hasn’t dried out, as do many liquid liners I’ve tested; it doesn’t get all gunked up even when I touch up over eyeshadow; and even after months of fairly regular use — let’s say three times a week — I still don’t feel like I’m seeing the end of it. Eh, guess that covers it, I’ll have to find something to replace this in my big plan!


I Try Before You Buy: Oil-based Skincare {+One Of These Things is Not Like the Others}

There’s mixed intel as to whether or not facial oils are good for oily skin: logic would say, ‘Eh, no they’re not,’ but I’ve read various articles and reviews that claim that oily skin is working overtime to make oil, so if you use an oil, it lets your complexion off the hook and it can relax. I’d love to hear if anyone has personal experience of this notion — good or not so good!

Me, I ♥♥♥ oils to the moon and back, so speaking of outer space, there are a lot of stars this week.

01 CLINIQUECLINIQUE Smart Treatment Oil, €44 {30ml}
I couldn’t get enough of the brand’s Turnaround oil, so when I used it all up, I was happy that this one was waiting in the wings. I love it just as much, and find it ‘dry’ enough to use in the day, which is not always the case. This is a triple anti-oxidant blend that’s fragrance-free, and it’s gentle enough for those who suffer from roseacea. I keep this by the bedside and put on lashings of it before bed, and awake with a new face.

03 DARPHINDARPHIN PARIS 8-Flower Nectar Oil Cream, €91.65 {15ml}
Eep! That is pricey, but the cream is so rich, you won’t need or want to use too much. It would be like bingeing on fudge, or something. Every time I’ve used this, I have slept the sleep of the just, that is: I fell asleep immediately and stayed that way all through the night, and woke feeling like I’d been to some 04 LE MARAclass of dreamtime spa. Oh, and my skin looked radiant, a certain combination of the unbroken rest and the 280 petals from those 8 flowers that provide the aromatic essence.

LÉ MARA IRISH ORGANIC SEAWEED Miracle Facial Oil, €4.99 {150ml}
Here’s the opposite end of the spectrum: can anything that’s less than a fiver be any good? It is when it’s packed full of all sorts of goodness — from vitamin E to oat oil to primrose oil and bunch of anti-oxidants. The pump-action dispenser is pure genius, although it is better to spray in the palms than directly in the face {learned the hard way so you don’t have to.} This too is a mid-day, staying-in kind of treat, and it leaves behind a glorious glow. Bargain of the week — maybe of the year!

No7 Youthful Replenishing Facial Oil, €30.50 {30ml}05 No7
This seems almost too oily at first. I put that down to my own dispensing technique, which = using tonnes of product. Less is very much more here, and while I’m still not convinced that this is a good idea for me to apply in the a.m., I love it in the middle of a day in which I am hunkering down, not going anywhere, and ready for treat.06 TRILOGY

TRILOGY CoQ10 Booster Oil, €40 {20ml}
This is like a luxurious spa facial treatment right in your own home. It is far too heavy for use in the day, IMHO, but at nighttime, it is like the angels have wrung elixir from their wings for you to apply to your skin. Awake with a glow that wouldn’t look out of place whilst shepherds guard their flocks by night. Seriously, though: this is created to bust glycation, which causes collagen and elastin to become rigid, robbing skin of its plumpness and elasticity. The co-enzyme Q10 is an anti-oxidant, protecting the skin from ill-natured molecules.

VITA COCO Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, €12.99 {500ml}
I hesitated to Google ‘extra virgin’ because that just seemed like it was asking for a variety of pRon-y sites to pop up in my face, but this basically 07 VITA COCOmeans that it is processed in a way that is even better than ‘refined’. That is some price point, it has to be said, for such a versatile product: apply it head to toe, use it inside and out — it’s hard to imagine a better all-rounder when it comes to health and skincare. I had a difficult time using this for cooking, and yet when I used this on the bod, I felt like I should pop myself into the oven… Once I got over the mental blocks, I found I liked this best for my cuticles and for split ends {still too scared to use it as a hair mask, but I will get there as I suspect it will be amazing.}

And if all this oiliness doesn’t not appeal in the least:
KIEHL’S Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream, €27.50 {50ml}
02 KIEHLSI’d say this definitely falls more on the side of a gel than a cream, but I’m not interested in semantics here: this is fab. I usually find gel-based moisturisers to absorb too quickly and dry tacky, but not this one — maybe there is something to the ‘cream’ in its name after all. Refreshing and soothing, this is terrific for skin that’s suffering from a surfeit of the elements, be they cold winter winds or hot summer suns. If you need a pick-you-up in the dark mornings, this will zing you to life and help with fine lines at the same time.


I Try Before You Buy: Fragrances from Jo Malone, Clinique, GHOST girl, The Body Shop and 007 for Women,

Tricky! Although we do have FR.ed, the virtual fragrance editor, who might help us choose a new scent for another based that others’ current preferences, I don’t know how much faith I’d have in myself as regards choosing a new EDP for a pal. Here are some scents for your consideration, and for dropping hints…

JO MALONE Mimosa & Cardamom
€52 {30ml} ****
This is a ‘floriental’, a word that I wish I’d made up myself: sweet but mysterious, as a good combination of a floral and an oriental should be. As with all of the new ‘flavours’ coming of Jo Malone in the last few years, I love this for layering, for using on top of one of the anchor fragrances — like Lime Basil & Mandarin. The combo of new with classic in this instance is perfection, a multitude of notes that blend beautifully into a symphony of deliciousness. I am inspired to flight of fancy, clearly. On its own, it needs a frequent top up, if you’re me and tend to use a lotta scent and want to smell it all day long.

CLINIQUE Aromatics in White
€70 {50ml} ****
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, an essential part of the Clinique Bonus Days offering was a purse-sized sample of their Aromatics EDP. I wasn’t mad for it: it felt that bit too heavy, and old-lady-ish. The majority of its ingredients — patchouli, ylang ylang, sage — are actual favourites of mine, so that just added to the disappointment. However! This new blend is absolutely delighful, fresh and light. It’s still got a hint of the darker, chypre notes, like that patchouli, but is now lightened up by orange blossom and enriched with vanilla. I find its staying power to be only medium, but otherwise, I love it.

€34.50 {30ml} ***
I think it’s time to start thinking about the teens and tweens on your Christmas lists {soz!} and I can’t imagine anything more appropriate than this. The classic fragrance brand are adding a youthful scent to their line, and this is as young as it gets: it’s got a sharp, bright, fruity initial tone that only reluctantly deepens into something richer. The dry down is like watching an adolescent who has been told to go upstairs to do her homework take… each… step… one… at… a… time. This is entirely appropriate for a youthful fragrance. My inner teen thinks she’d probably wear this, so it’s all good. Tiny bit pricey for girls on a budget, though.FRAGRANCE 25 08

THE BODY SHOP Italian Summer Fig
€29.95 {50ml} ***
This is yummy with a bit of a bite. The first time I used it I felt like it was too much, that I couldn’t not smell it. That may have been because I was chained to my desk that day, and didn’t move around much, out in the world. When I did wear it under less housebound conditions, I felt like I couldn’t smell it at all. This surely lies somewhere in the middle. I reckon that if you add in the Italian Summer Fig Body Cream {or the lotion, shower gel or mist!} you’ll get a longer-lasting run for your money. Also, this is woody and musky enough for a dude, although the faceted glass bottle is pretty girly.

€36 {50ml} ***
This is a pure oriental, akin {according to Fr.ed} to Chanel Noir. Funnily enough, I am not mad about that member of the Chanel fam, but I do like this Lady Bond scent. This is quite fierce, in a good way: it comes on strong and stays fairly strong-ish. It’s vanilla-y with some florals in there somewhere, which didn’t really strike me as holding their own. I heart the bottle design loads, which appeals to my inner lady-who-sits-at-a-vanity-table: had I actually a vanity table, this would add a bit of dark sexiness to it.


I Try Before You Buy: Oils, From Top to Toe

Almost didn’t get the toes in — and it’s a bit of a push — but ‘top to middle’ just wasn’t doing it for me.

MATRIX Oil Wonders: Micro-Oil Shampoo & Conditioner, €12.50/each
I wasn’t sure that this was working for me, blonde {‘blonde’} that I am, and when I initially tried these, as argan oil always dulls down my fresh highlights. As my hair has evened out, however, this combo is perfect: for less than €30, you get salon-shiny hair and extreme manageability. Since my keratin treatment has run out, I am all about any S&C that can calm down the flyaways and the half-arsed waving that my hair does. Love these, but won’t be using them on newly ‘did’ hair, because of that pesky but beneficial argan oil.

SHU UEMURA Art of Hair Cleansing Oil Shampoo, €40
It took me a while to get used to the non-sudsy element involved in using this class of oil, but oh boy, this is good. I’ve used the Gentle Balancing Cleanser, and can’t see that this will any less effective: for those who suffer from dry hair and scalp, this promises to bring balance, and the right kind of moisture, to your locks. It’s infused with Neroli essential oil, which is such a useful and versatile oil and is the key ingredient that’s going to get to work on your scalp. One star off because a conditioner would be a nice accompaniment — IDK, my hair is just too tangly to do without one, despite this line making for such silky tresses…

CLINIQUE Turnaround Revitalizing Treatment Oil, €39
I’m using this at nighttime, and finding it to be terrific, brightening my complexion and adding loads of hydration — which is exactly what it promises to do. It absorbs quickly, so my pillow cases are safe, and I feel better every morning after the night before I used this: looking in the mirror first thing is actually quite fun as I notice improvement every time.


No7 Youthful Replenishing Facial Oil, €30.50
This is a little bit too oily for daytime, if you’re me and never give yourself enough minutes in the morning to allow something to fully absorb. So: good news in that this is so rich that it does take time to sink in, but bad news if you need to hit the ground running. I’ll use this at night, or on lazy days — oh, and a little bit truly goes a long way, half a drop does the business. Great value!

L’OCCITANE Immortelle Oil Make-up Remover, €26
Love a good oil as a makeup remover — there really is nothing like it. This has a gorgeous scent and it is very effective in its job. I find I prefer to use it in the morning, to wake up my skin and to remove the foundation that inevitably did not come off despite my relentless cleansing campaign. Would that be a thing of the past if I used this at night? Not so much: there’s nothing like the spray of the shower and good going over with my Clinique Sonic to do the job properly. Again, a little of this goes a long way, so it’s well worth the price tag.

LACURA Suncare Oil Spray, €3.99
This is where I got the toes in, which is a push because I don’t think my toes have seen the sun for about six years. Aldi’s spray has only got 15 SPF/UVB, which seems so 90s, but the texture of it perfect: silky, not sticky, just like it says on the bottle. There’s a top-note of alcohol (the rubbing kind, sadly) but it dries down to a delicious, tropical coconutty fragrance. Sure, at that price you can reapply with abandon, and might only need two for your hols, if you’re lucky with the weather.

JO MALONE Velvet Rose & Oud Dry Body Oil, €62
The scent is gorgeous: not too rosey, not too masculine, but the combination of the oud and the rose is rich and sexy. The spray bottle is unwieldy, and as many ways as I tried to get the most out of an application — whether by spraying all over myself without rubbing it in until I was done, or spraying into one hand and applying as I went along —  slippy hands made it hard work. The staying power makes it worth the struggle. #FirstWorldProblems.


I Try Before You Buy: Comb v Brush Mascara

The battle is on. In my own head, at least. I remember being afraid of the first spiky-ended mascara applicator I encountered, fearing putting said spikes anywhere near my eye balls. Now? They are my favourite mascara-conveying device.

On the other hand, there were a couple of new, and new-to-me mascaras that I wanted to try, but came with brushes at the business end. Would they sway me back to the old fashioned mode of application.

Em: no.

SPIKY applicators
MAYBELLINE NEW YORK Lash Sensation Lash Multiplying Mascara {€12.99} is my fave at ***** and it is to this I turn when I want super spiky, perfectly defined lashes. Everybody asks me if I’ve had extensions when I wear this. Use a primer beneath and just knock it out of the park.

CLINIQUE High Lengths Mascara {€21.50} and RIMMEL LONDON Scandaleyes XX-Treme {€8.99} both get ****. The Clinique applicator has a helpful curve, and low-level spikes for those who still have the fear. I find that I need to get as much on in the first round as possible, because the second round gets very, very clumpy. The Rimmel is a close second the Maybelline, but I’m not finding it to be as dependable. It’s the bargain of the lot, though, and if Boots are having a 3-for-1 Rimmel sale (not that I know of, just pondering) then go for it.

BRUSHY applicators
All of these are **, sad to report. CHARLOTTE TILBURY Full Fat Lashes 5 Star Mascara {€29} disappointed me in the extreme because I actually bought it with my own money (gasp!) The counter woman, who applied it over my existing mascara, very generously gave me a flicky eyeliner treatment as well; I suspect this was cover up the fact that the mascara got allll over my eyelids, even though it was professionally applied. Same goes for the ELIZABETH ARDEN Beautiful Color Maximum Volume Mascara {€26} and the YVES SAINT LAURENT Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils {€31}: no matter how slowly I went, nor how far back I tipped my head (really far), the mascara made a mess of my lids.

I will be sticking with the comb, thanks!


I Try Before You Buy: Shower Creams, Gels and Washes

Soothing your dry winter skin starts in the shower as does your daily fragrance. Depending upon your desire for suds — lots, or little — all of the below will get your pelt through the winter and may endow you with fragrance, too. Or not! Whatever you prefer! I am extremely fussy about scent in the shower and really feel that it can make or break my day…

DOVE Silk Glow Body Wash {€2.99}
The proof isn’t always in the price point: this is extremely good value for 250mls, and it really does make my skin feel silky and glowy after use. It also has that glorious Dove scent and also! The tiniest squeeze of product produces loads of foam. Great price point!

LUSH Dreamwash Shower Smoothie {€13.65}
Gorgeous texture — like you are icing yourself like a cake — meets lovely and soothing scent… but also unfortunately meets one the famous black pots that are fiddly to deal with in the shower. Also, if suds are your thing, the way they are my thing, then this won’t bubble up to your usual standard.

ROGER & GALLET Fleur de Figuier Gentle Shower Cream {€12}
This is soap-free and sulfate-free, and yet you get a nice crop of bubbles with which to scrub yourself. I found the scent to be slightly too sweet, but R&G have such a great range of fragrances, I’m sure I’ll find something that suits.
Shower stuff
L’OCCITANE Fouette Whipped Shower Foam {€17.50}
Shake it up, and it’s like mousse for your body when you dispense it. I love being able to layer with the Fouette Body Cream {€22}, but again, I like a nice froth of soapy goodness in the course of my morning ablutions — and I didn’t get the amount I prefer.

NIVEA Water Lily & Oil Shower Gel {€10.99}
Ooh, love an oil, and this is luxurious bargain considering you get 250mls. It doesn’t smell all that flowery, which is great if you’re me and hate too much fragrance, and not great is you did want to smell like a delicate flower. Otherwise, lots of lather for a little bitta gel, and you’ll feel silky, too.

CLINIQUE Deep Comfort Body Wash {€21}
This is terrific, if kind of expensive. It suds up like nobody’s business, which is something of a learning curve: I used up way too much product early on because I didn’t realize that I didn’t need that much. Paired with Deep Comfort Body Butter (€34, 200ml), your skin will in fact be comforted deeply.