Gift Guide 2015: Happy Holiday Gift Sets II

Make your giftee clean and bright…

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.

Party Poppers €46 Get Your Party On and You’re So Party €56
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.

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!

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.


Elizabeth Arden Oxygen Blast Facial is Amazers

I know I say this every time I go to Arnott’s but: there is nothing like the buzz of a beauty hall. I adore the sounds of happy people mooching around looking at lipstick and the sight of all that product. Can’t help it, just love it.

That buzziness, though, is not perfectly ideal for a treatment — or it hasn’t been, until now. The Oxygen Blast Facial from Elizabeth Arden errs on the side of fast rather than pan-pipey zone-out, which is great, because it’s designed to get you in and out of the chair and on your glowy way in 20 minutes or less.

I got one the other day and it was fab. Having gone in barefaced, I nevertheless got a double cleanse, a tone, the blast of the mineral and seaweed extracts that serve to get deep into my cellular layers, and then the follow-up blast of oxygen. The latter two elements were applied with an airbrush, and my aesthetician Lauren made sure that every pore got a good dose of both.
Apparently you can get this done over your existing make-up if you’re heading out on the town after work and want to look as though you’ve been lying around at your leisure all day. I kind of get it: after all, we’ve been told for years to use pressurised spa water to set our make-up. Lauren says it totally works, and I believe her.
Prevage Serum Quotidian and Anti-aging Triple Defense Shield Sunscreen SPF50 were applied after the treatment; I was only sorry I didn’t need to do my face, because my skin felt like new, and like it would be the best make up application ever. My pores felt nice and tight, and the overall glow was impressive indeed.

This is ideal for last-minute revitalising is you’re all made up, and perfect for the day before — even the day of! — a big occasion.


Elizabeth Arden’s Oxygen Blast Treatment is priced at €20 for approximately 15 minutes, redeemable against any Elizabeth Arden purchase. This is exclusive to Arnotts, and an appointment is necessary. Ring 01 805 0400.


Those Three Little Words: Gift With Purchase (Thanks, Elizabeth Arden!)

Even now, after all these years of beauty journalism/blogging, I never tire of hearing that magical, magical phrase. This one is particularly good.

EA giveawayThe bag! So pretttttty! The content! So impressive! These sample sizes would surely last me an entire Christmas visit back to the States, and would mitigate the usual overloading-of-the-make-up/skincare-bag.

There’s a Beautiful Color Lipstick, the anti-aging Treatment Boosting Cleanser {which is the bomb}, Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Serum which are also the bomb, two more serums, a moisture cream and a lifting cream.

So, heavy on the serum, which suits me down to the ground — can never get enough serum. I love that the lippy is there, but may have liked a targeted nighttime cream. Whatevs! It is pretty darned perfect, and is yours with purchase of two or more products.

The bag is the work of British designers Preen, and you’d almost be tempted to use it as a clutch, much less as a Product Conveyance Device For Travelling.

Get yours while you can, exclusively at Debenhams, from 21 May to 13 June — while supplies last, naturally.



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!


FOTYesterday + The Hair

FOTD 09 03Highlights — not just on The Hair — include:

> essence Long-lasting Lipstick {€2.89} in Come Naturally: really emollient, loving the dark nude, feels like a balm.

> Foundation via Elizabeth Arden Flawless Finish Perfectly Satin {€38}, which has not let me down in the month or so that I’ve been trialing it. It’s matte, but not so matte that you look like you should be displayed in Madame Tussaud’s — a lovely, natural glow is allowed to illuminate your skin without your face ever looking greasy.

> Sadly a function of the iPhone, the No7 eyeshadow is not showing up as well as it ought. This Mini Palette {€14.25} is fabbbbbbilis, the shadows are light in weight, but deep in pigment. It felt so light, even on the brush, that I loaded it up too much the first time out, and have since pulled back a little.

> Gave The Hair a little treat before shampooing: BC Oil Miracle Barbary Fig Oil {€27} from Schwarzkopf Professional. Soaked it into the lengths and ends and left it for… well over an hour I’m sure, since I was hard at work doing keyboardy stuff. Washed it out with the matching Fig Oil & Keratin Restorative Shampoo. Silky!


OML*: Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Gloss!

*Oh My Lips!

The latest addition to my stable of lip balms is one that Eight Hour Cream fans are going to die for.

‘Stable’ is not merely a canny way to allude to my other blog: the original Ms Arden did in fact base her miracle cream on a treatment that was used routinely on her horses.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Lip Protectant Gloss is a sort of a cross-breeding between lip balm and lip gloss, with emphasis on the latter. It is shiny, which is the cause of much joy in B&B! HQ, but with balm-like qualities, so that one ends up being both attractive and virtuous. Even better: it’s the first make up product in the Eight Hour line, so one will be beautiful, virtuous, and cutting edge.

And, magpie that I am, I loved the equally shiny packaging.

Is the eight hour aspect merely a connection to the brand’s most famous element, or is this meant to last eight hours? Not in my world, it won’t: between talking, eating, talking, drinking, and talking and talking, there’s no way. Most importantly, the habit of applying, which may indeed be the root of my lip balm addiction? It’s too ingrained, and automatic. Go eight hours without reapplying? You must be joking.

How will I use this? I’d count the ways, but I think this is a going-out kind of jawn, the sort that I use on top of my long-lasting but slightly-drying new fave lippys, and then as the evening wears on and I get tired of touching up, I’ll just apply this and leave it. So, great companion to The Smoky Eye, as well.

It feels light, and has a light, citrus-y scent, which is unexpected? It’s fine with me — it doesn’t taste like oranges or anything, which may be a disappointment to some, perhaps.

This is too fancy to use when just sitting around, catching up on Homeland. It’s part of a limited collection that includes Skin Protectant and Moisturzing Hand Treatment. Those look good, but for me, as ever, it is all about the balm — and so far, so good.



Best Make Up Brush Ever?!? Blank Canvas Cosmetics Flat Top Kabuki Brush

Well, I wouldn’t come out and say it if I didn’t think so.

No, but really: I think it is.

It is very late for me to be pitching up to the make up brush party, but better late than never. I have always had so much stuff all over the place, that the thought of having to figure out how to keep brushes nice, and of having the numerous brushes needed to put all that stuff on my face — blush, foundation, lips, brows, and the eight million varieties of eye shadow brush! I ask you! — it was all very overwhelming

I’d been lazy, I admit, and have always just gotten by with what is provided by the manufacturer. Then I started working for U magazine back in the mid 00s, and I remember somebody, if not all of the bodies, yelling at me because I didn’t have any make up brushes. So, duly chastened, I started collecting them, and finding them to be… eh, only okay.

Cut to 2012, and I’ve got a couple of lovely looking, illuminating pressed powders, one from Elizabeth Arden {Pure Finish Highlighter in Rose Illumination} and 10 from Benefit. The former comes sans brush, and the latter with a teeny flat one that looks like miniature version of a dandy brush. I use that one for both, and then go through my collection of brushes for the face, and decide that the products are rubbish. They are making no impression whatsoever.

And then I used Blank Canvas Cosmetics’ Flat Top Kabuki Brush, and it as though night became day. BCC is an online Irish cosmetics brand, and the brushes have been developed by Úna Tynan. Drawing on her skills as a professional MUA, there’s a whole range of synthetic brushes to choose from, as well as gorgeous, colourful palettes of eye colour and blush…

Sorry, got a bit distracted. Anyway: this brush is brilliant. It really picks up the product and holds it fast until you actually get it onto your face. It’s my new go-to, and I wish there was a version that I could slip into my handbag? A teeny one, for touch-ups? Sure, I’m only wondering…

Since the tan is fading, I’m going to give this a go with foundation very soon. My hopes are high, and I have every expectation of them being happily fulfilled.


The Blank Canvas Cosmetics Flat Top Kabuki Brush is €14, see for more info. They ship pretty much everywhere, apparently!