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. 


AOTD: Tanned, Glowing and Manicured {Partially}


AOTDAll it seems to take is that first swipe of self tan, and I am a goner. I did the legs, and then got some sun from horseriding, and then decided it was the arms’ turn.

Behold, one of said limbs, adorned with Xen-Tan Weekly Self-Tan with Moroccanoil {€30}. I was actually quite alarmed when I dispensed some on my tanning mitt. It was dark! Even more taken aback when I applied it to my arms. It was really dark! I mean, there’s fake and then there’s fake. Luckily, I slept on it, having showered post-horse, and had enough for it to dry before I retired for sleepytime.

Next morning, the sheets were free of skidmarks, but I did get some water on my arms from washing up, and things went a tad streaky. I’d say this needs the full monty, in order to stop it developing. Maybe? I’m not sure now that I should have gone to sleep with this on? Ah, sure, it’s grand. It looks like I’ve been on a cruise in the Aegean. It’s the kind of brown that I struggled to achieve in high school. This is my inner teenager’s dream tan.

It’s grander still, with the application of Pixy Glowing Body Butter {€12.99}. The tin, she is small, at just 100gs, but the glow, she is large. I wouldn’t expect to use this all over the bod, perhaps only on highlight points like arms and legs and collarbones, so that’s no big. It smells gorge, too.

And, finally, may I present the ESSIE MORE MERRIERWorld Famous Supermodel Thumbnail™, proudly displaying one of essie’s new summer nail varnish colours, the more the merrier {€9.99}. Oh, yeah! And this is after a few hours spent in horseriding gloves, and with no top coat to speak of. Impressive!

And, honestly, that really is the colour of the arm, maybe even a little darker. Photoshop and I decided that there was to be no fakery because it looked true, even for an iPhoto.

Well, that’s me, bronzed for the duration. At least as long as the sun is shining…


Xen-Tan is available at Debenhams, and/or on debenhams.ie.


This is the Only Way It is Okay to Fake It

Hey! It looks as if I have had a French Manicure! Except, it is not!

As ever, ignore my poor application method, the backbone of which system is: just get it over with.

Why this is so exciting:

> My nails have never, ever been this healthy.
> Since they are so healthy, the white parts are really clean and, er, white.
> Because the white parts are so white, when I brushed on Ballet Slipper by Essie, a magical thing happened.
> Magical thing: one coat of polish/varnish, and it looked like I got a French manicure!

Yeah, well, so?
> So! If I don’t have the patience to do even one coat of colour for a manicure, forget doing all the malarkey required for a French one.

Why are they called French manicures? Nobody knows! Big disputes! Do they have anything to do with France at all, or did some American dude called Jeff Pink make them up in the 70s — or was it Max Factor {an actual man, not just a name brand} in the 30s? All that conjecture is via here, there’s links if you are interested.

I’m not. I want nothing more than to gaze upon the photo of my amazing nails. I have since pared them all down to match Auld Schplitty and am confident that they will soon be ready for another foray into the now satisfying world of fingernail painting. There’s this bottle of AVON Nailwear Pro+ in Tweed that I am gasping to try…


Colourful Claws: Essie Nail Varnish

What a difference healthy nails make. Nail varnish, once relegated to be reviewed on my toes, because my fingernails were so, so manky, is now one of my favourite things in life.

Essie probably won’t thank me for posting a picture of a less-than perfect finish, but sistuhs: this is day four. Day. Four.

Here’s what my nails went through in four days:
> Horseriding
> Dishwashing x3/day, without gloves
> 3 showers
> Lots of keyboard work {I had a big gig in the last week} which I am only realising as I am now typing, does indeed have an effect

That’s high stress stuff! And yet: four days! And only a wee bit of chippage! I don’t know, I’m sure other people do better, simply because they are better at applying it, but me, I am dead impressed.

{What’s she talkin’ ’bout, horseriding? The gloves play utter havoc upon a manicure, of course.}

Clockwise from left: Beach Bum Blue, Smokin’ Hot, No Place like Chrome, and Really Red. I also got the very classic neutral, Ballet Slippers, and my abso fave, Nothing Else Metals, a lavender-y metallic wee bottle of gorgeousness.

I am going to remove this now {*sob*} and do up all the nails in Ballet Slipper, methinks. I’ve cut my splitty nail all the way down, which is why it’s covered up. But thanks to — I know, I know, it’s all I talk about — Dr Lewinn’s Renunail Nail Strengthener, I have faith that it will grow back stronger than ever before. Because I wouldn’t even be bothering to paint my manky nails {not so manky now!} without its amazing benefits.



Manky Nails: Hmmm

Having all this nail care stuff right at my, ha ha, fingertips on my desk is working out really well.

I’ve got Nail Envy on my right hand, and on my left, just for the craic, I applied essie fill the gap!, a ridge-filling base coat. Looking at the nails on my left hand right now, I see that they look pretty good.

Really good, actually: somewhat shiny, and smooth. I expect I need one of those white blocky things that manicurists use — I’ll have to look into that.

I’ve only had it on for day, but yeah, they look the way that I perceive nice, normal nails to look.

I’m going to give it some time — when I’m off horseriding for the holidays [sob!] and give some varnish a go.

€13.99/£10.95 /$10.00

I don’t have time to take a snap of the product itself, but you may find many pictures here