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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Launch Love: Dermalogica’s Phyto Replenish Oil

I reckon the biggest disappointment people experience in their day-to-day beauty dermalogica-phyo-replenishquest is immediate effect. Or in other words, magic. Makeup can be magic, but skincare takes more effort, and if doesn’t get better right away, we can be quick to bin the offending product, or skip whatever part of the regime it is that is letting us down.

Time, eh? Who asked it to be so slow?

Except when we start detecting signs of ageing, that is. Time suddenly turns into a speed-freak, running away on us, leaving fine lines and gaping pores behind. I flip the bird at you, Time — and not merely symbolically, either: DERMALOGICA’s new Phyto Replenish Oil is here to help us put You in your place.

I’m already a fan of their Overnight Repair Serum, so having been allowed to trial something equally as good for the daytime has been nothing but a joy, particularly as it works so well.

One of those nasty things that Time does is to reduce our ability to restore our lipids, those oils that create a protective layer against the environment and keep our skin supple and dewy. Phyto Replenish Oil is basically dewiness-in-a-bottle, thanks to a combination of plant-based active ingredients that makes us shine — in the good way — and helps shore up our depleted lipids.

There’s hyaluronic acid, chia seed oil {especially good for skin that is itchy and needs soothing}, orchid flower extract {which helps lock in moisture} and rice bran oil {provides UV ray and free radical protection}. The texture of Phyto Replenish is light it smells clean with a hint of floral freshness, and despite absorbing like a shot, it doesn’t leave the kind of dry squinch that many quick-absorbing products can: your skin will still feel plump and hydrated and gorgeous.

Add to your SPF or your moisturiser or primer, or use it straight up: six to seven drops will do you, and do right by you. It won’t leave your skin greasy-looking, either, and in fact imparts the kind of glow you took for granted, once upon a Time.

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Available now worldwide! €62/£79.45/$75

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Gift Guide 2015: Happy Holiday Skincare

If you’ve someone near and dear who doesn’t indulge in luxury products, give them a helping hand this holiday…

DERMALOGICA
OMG look at all those gift sets €17.15-79.70
DERMALOGICA group
This literally puts the truth in the phrase ‘there’s something for everyone’ — and something for every budget, too. The Clean Start is perfect for the tween/teen on your list — and not just the girls, my nephews are huge fans of the Soothing Clearing Booster and would use this stuff in a shot. Skin that is mature, dry, normal oily, frequent travellers who want to keep their body care routine on fleek, those love a good facial exfoliation, those who just love the brand and its best sellers — that’s all catered for here. The packaging is also refreshingly non-festivity specific, so those who don’t celebrate via the fat man in the red suit won’t be alienated.

 

CLARINS PARIS
Double Serum And Super Restorative Collection €69.50
CLARINS Double Serum gift
Here’s one of the many offerings from this brand, and all of them targeted to a variety of concerns, but this has to be my pick, thanks to the Double Serum. I went through that stuff for a shortcut and still think of it fondly. The addition of the Super Restorative Day, Night, and Eye cream only adds to the attraction. Plus! It all comes in an elegantly iridescent gold clutch — I adore that detail on the zip tab.

 

CAUDALÍE PARIS
Huile Divine/Divine Oil €8.70 Eau de Beauté/Beauty Elixir €12.60
CAUDALIE BAUBLES
May be the best beauty baubles ever: both are a terrific introduction to the natural, paraben-free French brand, they look adorbz, and they are really well-priced. This is Secret Santa sorted. The Divine Oil is suitable from top to toe and smells delicious; the Beauty Elixir works as a toner, a makeup setting lotion, and a general pick-you-up.

 

CLINIQUE
Clean Skin, Great Skin €89
CLINIQUE Clean Skin Great Skin
Bit of a splurge, but I am such a fan of the Sonic that I urge you to splash out on someone special. It’s not enough that you get their terrific skin-cleansing brush — you get a carry case too! I will not travel anywhere without this little beauty, and a case like that surely beats the pair of socks I’ve been using to protect in as we journey forth. The samples of the soap, DDM+ and Clarifying Lotion pretty much set your dearly beloved up for a kickin’ start to the new year.

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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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I Used It — Them! — All Up: A Head-to-Toe Miscellany from Lancôme, Dermalogica, Pixy Natural, and Merumaya

I turfed through loads of stuff this week — and it took me long enough. It is with some sadness that I present what I have used all up, because I was hoarding all of these. It had to be done, though, and all came in especially useful in recent times.

Trust me, this one is all used up, barring jabbing the top of it open with an awl, or something:
LANCOME BI-FACIL
I mean, that’s not even one eye’s worth of make up remover. Au revoir, LANCÔME Non Oily Instant Cleanser for Sensitive Eyes {€28.50} — je t’aime pour toujours. This removes the smokiest of the smoky eye, and doesn’t make my vision all vaseline-y up, like some equally effective but oil-based removers can do.

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DERMALOGICA MINERAL SALTS
I had been hoarding this stuff forever. Initially, I found the scent of DERMALOGICA’S hydro-active mineral salts {€31.50} to be a bit pong-y, and who knows, it may have been my own sense of smell that needed adjusting. Or I just got used to it. I don’t know! But I needed it bad these past few weeks, first as I was recovering from an injury sustained from horseriding, and then I needed the even badder to recover from going back horseriding.

This sea salt concoction is stuffed full of relaxing essential oils, including lavender, clary sage, and cinnamon, amongst many. Bonus: my skin felt like silk, in addition to my muscles being completely soothed.

SRSLY, all gone…
DERMALOGICA EMPTY

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Speaking of lavender, here’s PIXY NATURAL’s Lavender Bath Bomb {€3.45}. Well, duh, it got used all up, you may be thinking. No, not so ‘duh’, as I have tried bombs in the past that fizzled out juuust before having totally dissolved, leaving me with a freaky moonrock lookin’ thing that, funnily enough, disintegrated when I let it dry out, to try to use it a second time.

PIXY LAVENDER BATH BOMB

This fizzes all the pieces, in the best possible sense. It’s got little bits of actual lavender in it, and I turned to this relaxing little thing when I’d used up the Dermalogica salts, and I wasn’t sorry.

One thing, though.
PIXY PACKAGING
There’s the plastic wrap this comes in, and then another round of wrap, which I didn’t discover until I was in the bath, ready to drop the bomb, as it were, and had to fumble with wet fingers to liberate it. Just so ya know.

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Goodbye, Merumaya Intergrative Effective Skincare, in more ways than one…
MERUMAYA
This was another thing for which the scent was an acquired taste, but once I got into it, I loved it. The brand have an extensive line, and this, their Iconic Youth Serum {£34.50}, was like rubbing velvet and angel feathers all over my face. I found this to be notably effective when used at night, as I awoke radiant.

Sadly, the brand are no longer available in Arnotts — you’ll have to buy online at merumaya.com. As a way towards easing our pain, shipping fees will be dropped to match those of the UK, from a tenner to £3.95, or freeeeeee if you spend over £40.

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Here’s a Q&A I did with Merumaya founder Maleka Dattu, just as a matter of interest!

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I Used It All Up: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

Or did I? O.o

Reaching for anything whilst in the shower is an exercise in trust: I’m expecting the thing I’m reaching for to be usable, because replacing something that is not usable, when water is rushing down and I’m in the nip? Circumstances are not at their optimum.

So when I uncapped {decapped?} my container of Daily Microfoliant, and gently shook it, to dispense the minuscule amount that I require, and nothing happened? Gahhhhhh.

The thing is, the Dermalogica packaging is extremely high end, and the opaqueness and heft of the cylinder makes it pretty hard to tell when you’ve used it all up. I held it up to the light in the bath, and couldn’t see through it. I shook it and shook it, and had to give up, because it was clear that it was all gone.

Post-shower, I took the container to my desk, where I keep my cutting implements, fully prepared to slice off the top, because I simply did not believe that there wasn’t any left.

Well!

MICROFOLIANTI rapped the container against my desk — whappp! — and there’s loads left! And the backlit effect of the sun coming in the window over my desk negated the need to chop off the top to see what was in it.

Since one needs such a tiny bit every use, I’d say this is gonna last me another three months at least!

Desperate times, desperate measures…

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What is it about Daily Microfoliant, blades, and me?

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