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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Support Your Local 600 Year Old Business: Rathbornes 1488 Premium Scented Candles

When I went to Wiki to ask ‘what was the world like in 1488’, I didn’t expect to find the very thing I was Googling around about: ‘Rathbornes Candles established in Dublin; the company will still be trading into the 21st century.’ Sure, Michelangelo started his apprenticeship in Florence, and Anne of Brittany became Duchess of Brittany at age 11, but it seems amazing that a purveyor of something as mundane as candles rates a mention.

Or not, if you think about it. In a world lit only by fire, a candle was essential to people’s daily lives — if they could even afford them. The company’s history doesn’t say much about who was buying their wares {I’m guessing lords and clergy}, so I asked the oracle ‘were candles expensive in the middle ages’, and yup: priests and rich folk availed of beeswax tapers, while the general populace had to make do with smelly, animal-based tallow. After going out of fashion in the mid 19th century thanks to the invention of the light bulb, a candle-burning renaissance of sorts flared up in the mid 1980s, and has been going from strength to strength ever since.
1 wick rose

I do try not to use the ‘C’ word this early in October, but spare a thought for Rathbornes 1488 luxury line, Beyond The Pale as you begin to think about prezzies. The candles are still handcrafted, almost 600 years later, and the scents evoke the Irish landscape, with additional notes to round out the fragrances. Like, Dublin Tea Rose is totally on point, but I don’t know how much Oud or Patchouli can be found in the wild {unless you consider ‘the wild’ to be South William Street — I reckon you’d find enough of those hipster scents wafting about in that case.}

Whatever: these are stunning. When I opened the box containing the Cedar, Cloves & Ambergris candle I went ‘Oh, my God!’ It is gorgeous — and this is the travel-sized version, which I think is a pretty healthy size, considering.

RATHBORNES travel size
If you or someone you know loves the light of a candle — and the fragrance — look no further, and join in with centuries of folks who lived their lives by the light of Rathbornes. Ooh, just got a shiver!

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Prices vary: €19 for 20-hour burning travel-size; €36 for 50-hour burning Classic; €54 for 60-hour burning Luxury.
Available in Brown Thomas nationwide, and at amara.com

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See candles.org for more candle lore.

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Beautyfull News: Clarins Paris, L’Occitane, Aldi, Rimmel London, Nuxe Paris

CLARINS PARIS Joli Rouge Moisturizing, Long-Wearing LipstickCLARINS joli rouge
€22 Paired with their range of new, neutral Lipliner Pencils {€17.50}, this collection of 25 revamped hues is bound to be an autumnal go-to. Because I’m a divil for deleting photos on my phone and can’t be arsed to connect to the cloud or whatever, here’s a screenshot of the Insta I took on the day I wore Delicious Pink, which lives up to its name. The lipliners come in Nude Fair/Beige/Rose/Mocha, to suit the range of skin tones from fair to dark. I went for the lightest to go with the pink; it was fine, and frankly, it was nicer on its own. I imagine they’ll come in handy the further you head towards the dark end of the spectrum. I found the lipstick to be lovely: light, long-wearing, and in the case of this particular colour, as shiny as it looks in the photo. Perfect for people who’d prefer to wear their lippy, rather than have it wearing them.

L'OCCITANE hermeL’OCCITANE Pierre Hermé Limited Edition Fragrance Collections
€10-56 Speaking of delicious! Monsieur Hermé is a pastry chef, and has collaborated with the Provençal brand to create two new ‘flavourfull’ fragrances. There’s Jasmin-Immortelle-Neroli, a flowery bend for those who wouldn’t normally go for something sweet. I find you can never go wrong with Neroli, it’s really gives one’s spirits a lift. For those who like something zestier, there’s the Pamplemousse-Rhubarbe which I also like: it’s as crisp as can be, and with its cedar and vetiver notes, can shared with your fella. The range ranges from lipgloss at a tenner to €56 for the EDTs. The packaging is delightful, and the gift sets at €72 are perfect for holiday gift giving sans an in-your-face-this-is-a-Christmas-gift vibe.

ALDI Lacura Expert RangeALDI expert eye gel
€5.99 That’s the price for all the products in the line — pretty good! There’s an Expert Wrinkle Smoother, an Expert Beautifying Serum, and an Expert Double Effect Eye Gel, and all are infused with Mimox®X, an active complex that helps encourage the skin to regenerate its own collagen and elastin fibres. NGL, I don’t know how that actually happens, but hyaluronic acid is implicated, which is still all the buzz as far as anti-ageing is concerned. I have given them all a go, and am pleased with the eye gel especially: it’s cooling and soothing, and it’s also a bit of a pick-me-up of a sleepy morning. I am also impressed by the serum, which gives great coverage and absorbs like a shot.

RIMMEL LONDON Match Perfection FoundationRIMMEL match perfection
€10.29 I prefer the coverage of the 24hr version of Rimmel’s foundation range. This promises invisible coverage to create invisible pores; my skin is in excellent nick, and I feel like this didn’t really do it justice. If you have skin like a newborn baby and want to look even more perfect, then this might suit. So basically: younger skins may get loads of joy out of this; less young, maybe not so much. I also found that I feel somewhere between the two lightest hues, with neither of them being… a perfect match.

NUXE PARIS Splendieuse Radiance-Activating, Anti-Dark Spot Range
€30-38 I suspect that the word ‘splendieuse’ is along the lines ‘fabilicious’ in English; it is, in fact, a combination of ‘splendid’ and ‘radiant’. I say go for it, Nuxe: make up all the words you like, as long as you keep expanding your lines of skincare. This targets dark spots, and boosts the radiance of the complexion, all the while smelling gorgeous and feeling luxurious — far more luxurious than you might think you’d get at that price. There’s a fluid for normal skin, a cream for dry skin, a serum, and the pièce de résistance, which is the Anti-Dark Spot Perfecting Mask, an actual mask that you lay one your face and gently press against the skin. One got passed around at the launch and it felt rich with product — in fact, it’s infused with what amounts to almost the entire bottle of 30mls of serum; even holding the box, you can feel how heavy they are. As ever, all of these take their effectiveness from natural ingredients and there are no animal-origins ingredients involved. Check back here for an in-depth review of that mask! {Look at the drawing at the bottom left — I die!} CLARINS perfecting mask

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Right, FR.ed: Let’s See What You Said

Hey, this is fun! Thanks to The Perfume Society {www.perfumesociety.org}, you can use their clever fragrance editor, or FR.ed, for short, to figure out how to expand your vocabulary or scent — or possibly replace something long and lamentably gone.

It’s easy: Just type in your responses to the internet’s easiest form. I had a blast from the past and remembered how much I had loved Jil Sander from the 90s. It was, I thought, the only Jil Sander fragrance in the world, but no: there was a much longer list than I suspected possible. A quick Google, and I found that the EDP that I’m thinking of is No. 4. This perhaps points up the limitations in scent in duty free more than anything else, and also what’s available in Ireland.

FR.ed simple quiz

And I’m also presuming that anyone anywhere in the world still carries this particular perfume. Anyway! Let’s go.

FR.ed Jil results

Hmmm. I actually had some Boucheron and remember it to be much sweeter than I remember the Sander to be. Also, Lancôme’s La Vie Est Belle seems a sweeter match than I would have thought… it doesn’t help, I suppose that I haven’t smelled the Sander in donkey’s.

I’m almost out of Coco by Chanel, which I haven’t worn in years. I noticed that it was almost gone and reckoned I may as well Use It All Up, and fell in love with it all over again. Here’s the results from this edit:
FR.ed Coco results

Cinnabar? Helllllloooo 1970s, hang on a sec, I’ve got some perfume that wants to talk to you. I’m interested in the Penhaligons simply because I haven’t ever tried anything from them — are they pricey? {Uh, whoops!} Eh. I can still buy the Coco, so no big deal.

Well, that was fun. I may try to see if I can actually get the original somewhere*, but if not, I think a visit to Macy’s ground floor goes on the holiday to-do list…

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Play with FR.ed here.

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* Hey hey! Sold! Heart you/hate you, internet!

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B&B! Q&A: Debbie Wild, Jo Malone London

Debbie Wild is Lifestyle Director 957 JMV 04G DV Jo_Malone_Debbie_Wild_284 RGB_1MB for Jo Malone London. Now, if I had to choose any lifestyle that I would like to fully embrace, it would be that of the Jo Malone brand. The range of scents have grown over the years, and with the addition of scented sachets and clothes hangers, as well as an expansion of the range of candles, it is a distinct, if spendy, possibility.

Me, I find it money well spent, as fragrance in general, and perfume in particular, is a big part of my lifestyle already. I asked Debbie to talk about the brand’s trademark Fragrance Combining ethos, some hints about how to set the perfect Jo Malone stage in your home, and the new ‘flavour’ that’s launching this year.

What’s your own personal fragrance preference, Debbie?
As far back as I can remember, I have always preferred more masculine and spicy scents.  For me, the most special scent from Jo Malone London is the clean freshness of Amber & Lavender as it reminds me of home. Topped with the warm notes of Nutmeg & Ginger, it is the perfect combination to wear every day.

Can you tell us a bit about Fragrance Combining™?
The idea of Fragrance Combining™ was introduced by Jo Malone London and has become renowned within the world of modern fragrance. It was originally born from the idea that your favourite fragrance can be tailored to embrace a mood or occasion, or as a simple expression of your individuality, by layering with another scent.

Can you give us an example of how Fragrance Combining™ might work?
We find interesting ways to layer scents playing with textures and ingredients, across our cologne, body and bath ranges. First, you could shower with a Body & Hand Wash from our fruity family, followed by lathering on a warm and spicy Body Crème. The moisturizing combination of products and scents layered on your skin creates a scented base for your favourite fragrance.

Each fragrance has been designed to be worn alone or combined with other fragrances and we use only the finest and purist ingredients to ensure that any two fragrances can be combined to dependent on your own individual preference. The choice is completely yours.

Peony & Blush Suede100mlWhat is an example of the unexpected ways in which one can layer — as in, what two fragrances might seem to the customer to be an odd couple, but once you put them together, it’s total Wow?
My latest discovery is Peony & Blush Suede topped with hints of Saffron from the Cologne Intense collection. It may seem an unlikely pairing but the result is superb: deep and voluptuous, a mingling of an opulent floral with a vivid spice. The more unusual the better!

As ever, when I get the chance to talk to fragrance experts, I mention my interest in the psychology of scent, and in its potentially emotional impact. How do perfumers take this into consideration?
You will find some scents are personal to you, that they will evoke memories and trigger emotional responses. The way you choose to wear your fragrance contributes to any first lasting memory and impression any you wish to create.

Christine Nagel, Master Perfumer for Jo Malone, remembers growing up in a house where her mother used an Italian powder called Borotalco on herself and her brother, creating a childhood memory with a lasting olfactive impression.

Amongst Christine’s creations for the brand is the new Peony & Blush Suede, which she believes captures the connection between the craft of fragrance and couture fashion. The scent evokes charm of the English ballroom in the mid-20th century. The heady glamour of the Cecil Beaton era. Women elegant in couture, with peonies brought in from the great country estates. It is a fragrance that embraces both the floral notes and atmospheric texture of this time in history.

As someone who loves Lime Basil & Mandarin and Pomegranate Noir, what would you recommend as complementary scents to bring throughout my environment?
Fragrance translates into our lifestyle in every way. A beautifully scented home not only makes you feel good, but will also influence how your guests feel when they enter your home. A Pomegranate Noir Scent Surround™ Diffuser will perk-up your entertaining spaces. By lighting a Peony & Blush Suede Home Candle in your entrance hall, the two fragrances — one peppery, the other floral with the contrast of suede — will heighten the mood and play on the senses. Through Scent Surround™ the ambience of your home can be as inviting as the fragrance on your skin.

TW_JoMalone-Peony_SHOT1v9_CMYK300_LG_1MB

My new lifestyle: bedecked and lounging round the mantlepiece.

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The full Peony & Blush Suede collection will be launching Monday 2nd September 2013 and will include:

>Cologne 30ml: €48/£39
>Cologne 100ml: €96/£78
>Body & Hand Wash 250ml: €42/£32
>Body Crème 175ml: €62/£50
>Home Candle: €50/£39

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Always worth a linkback: my paean to the body crème.

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B&B! Q&A: Karine Dubreuil, Perfumer for L’Occitane

‘Emotions very often play an important part in my creative process,’ says Karine Dubreuil. ‘It is the biggest accomplishment to create something that triggers a real reaction.’ Born and raised in Grasse, in Provence, Karine studied at the Roure Bertrand Dupont Perfumery School, Grasse, which was founded by Jean Carles, the creator of the legendary Miss Dior.

She has developed a tribute to her homeplace with La Collection de Grasse, four unique combinations of scents from the region, wedded with exotic ingredients from afar. Each fragrance tells a story: Jasmine & Bergamote, Magnolia & Mûre, Vanille & Narcisse {my personal fave} and Thé Vert & Bigarade < which is a nice one for the fellas. Each one of them is a refreshing new addition to the line that has come to epitomise the South of France, and Karine took some time to answer a few questions.

When did you realise you had a nose? Do you come from a family of noses — has this gift been passed down through the generations?
A close family friend of ours was a perfumer working in Grasse and I often visited her in the labs and got to smell the creations she was working on, so was aware of this skilful profession from a very young age. Growing up in Grasse, you are surrounded by perfumery and scents so I think I always knew this was what I wanted to do.

karinedubreuilportrait2

What’s the first thing you remember smelling, that made you wonder about scent and fragrance, that teased your imagination?
I remember the Eau de Cologne that my mother used to splash onto my hair after my bath when I was a very little girl. I love the smell of the flowers that I grew up with in our garden – mimosa, orange blossom, jasmine and spices my mother always cooked with like star anise, cinnamon and pink pepper.

I find that certain scents are incredibly robust, on an emotional level. How does that work in the brain?
Unlike our other senses, smelling is directly linked to our limbic system, which is an important memory centre in the brain that triggers instincts and emotions. It is a very primal sense that we possess – animals use it to guide most of their movements and decisions, and although we humans have evolved to rely on it less often it still has the power to trigger those powerful emotional reactions in us.

When you were creating the stories of the Grasse scents, how big a part did emotion play?
For this collection especially, I really had to rely on my childhood memories of Grasse, which are so happy and idyllic. Rather than simply trying to replicate what certain flowers or trees smell like, I wanted to capture the way they make you feel on a typical sunny Provencal day.

I find these fragrances to be very creative, marrying two primary notes that seem unexpected. Was this a big risk?
It wasn’t so much a risk but a challenge that I really enjoyed – the first part of the challenge was to find the right quality ingredients, as for L’Occitane only the finest natural ingredients will do. So finding a supplier to create a natural blackberry infusion that would work in perfumery or working with a farmer to plant a field of narcissus flowers felt like huge achievements.

Four EDTs on watercolour

I love layering, and am delighted that there are body lotions that go with these — I wonder if one could wear a different body lotion with a different scent? Or is that a terrible idea?
No, I think it’s a great idea to experiment with fragrance! Mixing and matching different scents can be a nice way to create your own ideal fragrance and give you a sense of creativity and individuality. You can use this method to transition from day to evening – for instance, wear the body lotion of The Jasmin & Bergamot during the day, then spray on some of the Vanille & Narcisse to warm it up for the evening. Or the opposite — spray on Thé Vert & Bigarade to “freshen things up” a bit and give you a boost of energy.

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Each line includes the following: Eau de Toilette 75ml/€55; Body Milk 175ml/€18; Shower Gel 175ml/€13; Perfumed Soap 125g/€8.50

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DID YOU KNOW? That the ampersand, which figures largely in the branding of this line, was considered the 27th character in the Occitan alphabet? It is a ligature of of the letters in ‘et’ — the word for ‘and’!
/typenerd

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Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse

I keep losing track of — hang on — right, okay, this is number 3 of 10, and it is all I can do, on a daily basis, to not lash a bottle of this in my handbag so that I can re-apply it with the same regularity as I do with lip balm. This is delicious, and also so great for me pelt. And I absolutely can spell prodigieuse without looking.

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I am sensing a trend.

I really like things that smell nice.

Here’s another extraordinarily lovely-smelling thing, and it is also a thing that comes in another version with sparkle in it. Can it be more perfect?

I love it so much, I can actually spell Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse without looking it up.

NUXE-06This is a multi-use dry oil, which means it is not greasy, which means you can use it all over your entire self without worry> Hmm, yes, well. I used it once in my hair because there was a Nuxe shampoo that didn’t have an accompanying conditioner; it was recommended that I use this, and the result was not happy. I may try it again as an intensive scalp treatment yokie bob, because what else do I have to do with my time — but I also like to give things their fair dues.

Otherwise, using this everywhere else is highly recommended. The scent is delicious, and I suppose it is the result of the perfect alchemy of its ingredients: Borage, St Johnswort, Sweet Almond, Camellia, Hazelnut, Macadamia Plant Oils. Now, I wouldn’t know what borage smelled like if it crawled up my nose, but I do know the smell of almond as used in product, and suspect that the Huile errs on the side of this natural element.

Does it? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. This stuff is great first thing in the morning, as applied on damp, shower-fresh skin and massaged in deeply; all the way to last thing at night after you’ve cleansed and toned.

As if that’s not enough, there’s a Huile Prodigieuse Or that is a summertime essential. This is the one that brings the golden sparkle; I’ve decided not to wait for June, and will be dousing myself in this, liberally, to beat the January* blues.

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For 100mls: €30/£33/$45

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*Or the March blues, as apparently yees are up to your oxters in the horrible, cold white stuff.

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