Haiku Review: Phyt’s Radiance Facial

Oh my God! Oh, my!
God! Nothing like a facial
To soothe your whole self.

Phyt’s is a French brand, and first came to Ireland in 2007. It’s chemical-free, paraben-free, not tested on animals, and the packaging is 100% recyclable. I’ve had a few of the products cross my desk over the last few years, and wasn’t terribly interested in them. More recently, I got a sample of the Ativ’ Peel, a facial exfoliant, and that, I liked loads: it foams up nicely, which allows the granules to distribute gently but thoroughly, and it has a lovely lemon-y scent. So when news of the Virginie Claire Beauty Centre’s Bastille Day special, running from 9-14 July came in the email, and a voucher for the 60 minute Radiance Facial came in the post, I duly followed through.

Oh, sure, I said to myself, ‘Radiance’ Facial, uh huh. I think I cultivate my cynicism because I am perversely delighted to be proven wrong. After all these years, I tell myself that I am inured to the all the bells and whistles that accompany beauty marketing — I suppose I am, superficially, but deep down, I am ready and willing to be shocked and awed.

I was entirely all of the latter following my treatment. Is this an outcome specific to the quality of Phyt’s products? Is it the wholly down to the prowess of Virginie Claire, the proprietress herself? Or, is it my willingness to give myself over to the process?

It’s probably all three, and that last one interests me, because it is in direct contradiction to the whole cynicism thing. So maybe I am not really cynical.

Long story short: at the end of the facial, I sat up and looked at my face in the mirror and laughed because it was like I was standing centre stage in Carnegie Hall under a spotlight, my face looked that clear and bright and lit up. In a word… radiant.


There really is nothing like wrapping up in a terry-cloth tube-top and lying down on a massage table. Every synapse in my brain takes this as a cue to to just relaaaaax, and my whole body follows suit. It’s amazing how much of the tension we feel ends up in our faces. As Virginie began the treatment with a comprehensive cleanse, tone, and exfoliation, I could feel the boulders that had been collecting in my jaw begin to disintegrate. As a result, the clenching in my forehead released — and I felt that release all the way down to my neck. Wild.

Next came a real highpoint: application of Serum Capyl-Rose, massage-style. This was perfection, and Virginie paid particular attention to the area around the eyes. I’m not entirely sure what happened next, because then I got a shoulder/arm/upper back massage, and I went away to my happy place.

Highest highpoint? The Aqua Peel-Off Mask, which is it bit pongy with rosemary, but otherwise feels like it is coolly and soothingly getting right down to the bottom of your pores and cleaning them out. And: oh! The sensation when it is peeled off your face, in one piece! So satisfying! Unfortunately, kids, you can’t try this one at home; I asked as soon as I was able to form thoughts again, and Virginie said it’s too messy — she tried it herself and even she, a professional, found it too fiddly to do on one’s own.

In other details: the salon is super quiet for a day-spa-type place, certainly the quietest I have encountered yet; Virginie is supremely well-informed and up-front about things, as well as being knowledgeable and personable and adept; I took the 16 bus from Camden Street as was at the centre in ten minutes.

Did you realise that both American and French Independence days are in the summer? We had a laugh about that: if either revolution had failed, at least they could have fecked off to the beach.

Is that cynical? Nah, just practical, right? Anyway: yet another failure to be disenchanted! Success!


Special offer Radiance Facial: €45; good until 14 July.

Virginie Claire is located at 255 Harold’s Cross Road, Dublin 6;  01 4978833

Haiku Review: Moroccanoil Hydrating Styling Cream

Nope, no way in hell.
Putting cream on my dry hair!?
No way will it — oh.

Gotta love my open mind. Oh, yeah. Show me a product and my immediate reaction is, ‘Hey, that is great! I can’t wait to experiment with this thing that you are telling me is going to work a treat!’

Not so much — at least not where my hair is concerned. We all know by now that the hair {or, better, The Hair} is of primary importance, and a bad hair day is enough for me to hide under the bed, or even crazier, jump back in the shower and start over.

Last Sunday week, I attended a Moroccanoil fashion show. Again, as this fashion-y business is new business to me, so I was wondering how they do a hair fashion show? They do it like this:

Models model clothes and hair, and then stylists make changes to the hair using the sponsor’s products.

Now, Moroccanoil are the original creators of argan oil-based products, and continue to innovate. Their signature treatment can be perceived to be ‘the’ oil, the one that opened up the whole ‘let’s use oil on our hair’ market.

I love the way it smells, and using the oil as a pre-blow dry styling product is like weaving silk into the very core of each individual hair on your head.

But when the talk turned to the Hydrating Styling Cream, I was like to close my ears entirely.

That is a cream. And you’re telling me to put it on my dried hair? My hair that I have just put oil in, and let me tell you, how much risk was involved in that!

I even saw it in action, on the lovely tresses of representatives of the brand, and still I did not believe.

But I wanted to. Why? Who knows, except that anything that I can discover that gives me silky, lovely hair is to be sought. So I pumped out a dab, such a wee dab that it should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for Smallest Amount of Hair Product Ever Dispensed, and I smoothed it onto the ends.

Ooh. It was nice. It didn’t feel greasy, it didn’t weigh the hair down, and it smelled gorgeous.

Okay. Since I was just sitting around, and I wasn’t going anywhere that evening, I pumped up some more, and like a wild woman, applied it about halfway down the hair shaft and combed it through.

Oh, wow. Now, my hair on that day was second-day, unstyled, no dry shampoo — nothing special, not going-out-into-public hair, and I have to say, the cream gave it such a lift. I would never show you pictures of my hair in that state, so forget it. The thing is though, I felt like it revitalised the locks that had been going limp, and if pushed, I might have made a run to the corner shop for some buns, if I had to. I don’t think I can say any better than that.

You can of course use this on damp hair as well, and I’ll do that next. And see the can the model is holding, in the picture? That’s Moroccanoil Luminous Hairspray, and WAIT until I tell you about THAT.

€28.45/£22.85/$31; available in select salons.

Haiku Review: REN Guérande Salt Exfoliating Body Balm

I applied this dry.
I dislike dry salt scrubbing.
Or do I?!? Let’s see…

I’m a featured columnist in the upcoming issue of Irish Tatler, and when asked for my latest beauty secret, I wrote: ‘Read the directions!’ Because I hardly ever do, and it has lead to some near misses. like thinking that the hair exfoliant was a styling product, for example, and wondering why it was so gritty. Luckily, I am not so thick as to have put, I don’t know, hemorrhoid cream on my toothbrush, but I tend to take products at label-value. If it says something about hair on it, and it’s in a tube, well, it’s styling product, right? Right?!?!

It’s a first world problem to do with mouse type. I swear, doing this job has ruined my eyesight, because of all the four point type I’ve had to read over the years. Since I didn’t bother with me specs when I decided to test REN’s Guérande Salt Exfoliating Body Balm, I squinted and saw that the recommended application was to a dry body avant le douche.

I prepared to do so, grumbling, because stupid salt scrubs are always so crumbly, and half of it goes down the drain, or is all over the floor, because I can’t get into the shower and then turn on the water, because the first blast is always frickin’ ice cold, and ugh what a drag… But the result was totally worth it, and the salt-ness of it is actually contained in a balm, which goes on smoothly, and not a grain is wasted. Huh.

I suppose I should amend my exhortation: read the directions completely. And maybe the label.

One day I actually read the label in its entirety— because I was wearing my glasses — and saw that you could also use this on a damp bod, if you wanted a gentler exfoliating experience. And so I did, and you know what? I prefer the dry brush effect! Not that this wasn’t as effective when wet, but I do prefer a bit of rough when it comes to exfoliation {…} and you get a double-scrub effect: you scrub it on dry, you scrub it off wet — it feels remarkably thorough for a home treatment, and the result is really soft, sweet smelling skin.

Yeah, so, I would have known better, and saved myself some gurning, but there you go. Happy enough to use it as it is intended after all.

€24 (available on cloud10beauty.com)/£20

Haiku Review: Carino Professional Miracle Oil from Aldi

Shake, shake, shake — doo doo
Doo doo DOO doo! Shake, shake, shake!
Shake your bottle. Shake

YOUR BOTTTTLE! It’s official: this is the world’s worst haiku! And I don’t even care, because it is making me laugh.

This is a glass bottle. I am thrilled by its glassness. It feels like the kind of bottle into which an old-fashioned apothecary might have poured a distillation of some healthful tincture. Or a snake-oil salesmen would have filled it with water and a splash of peppermint, claiming the mixture to be a cure all for everything from persistent cough to impotency.

Excuse me, I seem to be having a past life flashback. Or two.

The oil in this bottle has nothing to do with snakes, of course. It’s another in an ever expanding category of ‘things with argan oil in them.’ And as argan oil is so ‘now’, it can get pricey. At €3.99 it would really be good if this was good.

It’s good. And the thing is, I believe much of its goodness is down to the bottle. It’s not so easy to shake out, which ensured that I didn’t use too much. I hate having bad hair days, down to not knowing what was the optimum amount of a new styling product. I’ve had to figure out how to pump a half-pump of product, or how to drizzle jussst the right amount out of a container. This one was perfect from the go, because after a few shakes, you think Ah, sure, this is enough, and it is. And as it was teeny, tiny amount, I expect this to last me long enough to carry over into my next lifetime. Talk about excellent value!

Haiku Review: L’Oréal Nude Magique BB Cream

Gray, yet shiny cream
With an odd gritty texture?
Strange but true magique.

NO, SERIOUSLY. This BB cream stuff, how is this not merely tinted moisturiser*? I could google that, and I will, but for now, I would just like to say that this latest product from L’Oréal is actually magique.

Nude Magique BB Cream (€14/£9.99) doesn’t much look like it, though.

Yeesh. I don’t know, I thought it might look at least a little bit like a skin colour — a skin colour that was alive. The pearlescence gave me hope, though: it looked pretty, and I figured, well, some highlight-y primers have that kind of sheen. If worse came to worse, I could just put some foundation over top of it.

And it felt weird too, a little bit sandy, or something? The slightest bit of grit, not like a facial exfoliant, but there was definitely some sort of textural thing going on that I didn’t expect. These would be the Smart Pigment Capsules, which are the things that make the magic that occurs upon…

Application! I watched with wonder as the shiny, pearly cream turned into my skin tone, only better. I took some pictures, which I don’t know, are these at all helpful? I didn’t mess around in pshop {maybe I should have; brush your hair, Conley!}, so you can see how strangely unlike my skin the cream is, and then how well it blends to become a light and bright version of the colour of my face.

Eh, I don’t think this is as convincing as it should be, because this is a pretty incredible product. Please visit Lovely Girlie Bits for clearly superior photographic evidence of the efficacy of this jawn. This is perfect for those days when you absolutely cannot be bothered to do your full routine, but don’t want to go out there, well, nude.

I have gotten into the habit – a habit of a whole entire week — of lashing this on before horseriding, because of the SPF. It is great, because I get protection and perfection without looking like I some eejit putting on make up to go horseriding. I put some on yesterday, in fact, when I went showjumping and won my first rosette!

Was the Nude Magique my lucky charm?!?! Hmm, won’t go that far {and believe me, I could} but I will say that this will take up a permanent place in my notoriously fickle make up bag.

* Because, depending upon the brand, you get anti-aging, high SPF, even skin tone, moisturizing, sebum control from the BB, which you don’t get from the tinted moisturiser. So it’s like a treatment thing and a make up thing in one. Right, got it.

Haiku Review: Ógra 100% Peat Face and Body Mask

Deep black in the jar,
But not as thick as I wished.
{That’s What She Said; LOL.}

My thoughts are ordering themselves as bullet points:

>Excellent heft to the jar; the majority of Irish brands seem to cheap out on good packaging. Ógra lead the minority in making good choices re: design.

>Was surprised to reveal a liquidy kind of product. I guess I expected something more… muddy.

>I may have used more than someone else would, since I wanted my face to just be covered in peat, no skin showing.

>Eh, achieved that to a degree. Sat down, despite lack of glasses, and finished yesterday’s post, complete with skeereee photo of self with peat mask.

>Whilst proofing said post, the mask began to do its thing: its delicious, tingly thing, that as it dried, got just the right amount of tight — not so much that all the moisture was going to be sucked out of my skin, but just enough to feel like it is an active mask.

>It felt so good, that I wondered if I might keep it on for 2,500 years after all.

>Was strangely captivated by the way it dried: all crackly. Look how weird: one of my eyes totally looks bigger than the other.

I could probably look at my edit timeline to see how long I’ve had this working away, couldn’t be more than ten minutes at this stage — and I should really read the directions, should I remove this now? — and ooooh, baby, the tingles continue. It feels goooooood.

Also to hand, and what really ought to be the perfect follow up, is Ógra’s Nourishing Facial Moisturiser (€30). I took the unique route of  taking a bath to remove the mask — well, not just to remove the mask, I also needed to relax — and so I cannot report as to how much of a mess this may make in your sink*. As a rule, I give myself masks in the a.m. and then shower them off, ‘cos I hate the splash and mess otherwise.

I basically sweat this off. It felt a little grainy when I was washing away the hard-core hangers on, you know, the bits that are by your hairline? Just me? Otherwise, as far as I could feel, it wiped off easily.

The website pointed out that your skin may appear to be pinker than usual, and this down to an ion exchange {? Googled it; too sciencey} which draws the blood up to the surface of the skin. Given that there was a steamy bath involved, I may look dewier than I ought. Also, the lighting isn’t the greatest, but:

I wonder why I did that with my mouth. But: dewy! I let the, er, dew dry and then applied the moisturiser, which is a pleasing coffee ice cream-colour. It smells powdery, which I like, and it feels like the perfect complement to my newly de-peated complexion. I will quibble that it absorbed a smidge too quickly {that’s fancy beauty journo talk} but frankly, I was happy enough to apply another round.

What can I try next?! There’s a body exfoliator, which is a favourite category of mine, but really, I think next time I’ll do the whole bod and see how that works. Fewer pictures though — after all, this is a family blog.

Once again, the online store can be found here.

*I can report that it left some residue in the tub. Eh, no big, because my skin still feels great.

Haiku Review: L’Oréal Superliner Perfect Slim

Oh, The Smokey Eye:
The unicorn of beauty.
How do I catch it?!?!

Yeah, ’cause that whole ‘virgin-sitting-under-a-tree-in-the forest’ ship has sailed.

L’Oréal Paris are, in my humble opinion, one of the best over-the-counter cosmetic lines going. Yesterday, I received the following:
>False Lash Telescopic Mascara (€16.99/£10.49)
>SuperLiner Gel Intenza Eyeliner (€14.99/£8.99)
>SuperLiner Perfect Slim (€10.49/£6.49)

Now, for me, TSE is all about the liner. I know the eyeshadow enters into it, duh, but if you don’t have the lining of the lid down pat, you can use all the black shadow in the world and it won’t make a blind bit of difference.

Now, also for me, liner is like… it’s like an algebra test. I’ve studied, I really have, but wow, the mark I get is just never as good as I thought it would be. I don’t blame the maths — at least, not in this analogy. I know it’s all down to me.

I am giving the Gel Intenza Eyeliner the hairy eye ball because the brush part, I can’t even, it scares me. I expect this is also down to failure to have the proper tools, and really ought to invest in a proper, stand up make up mirror, one that has a magnifying side. I know: I don’t have one! I wonder if I should even be allowed to write about make up!

Until that happy day {which may be tomorrow, I am so mortified right now} I am going to keep attempting TSE with liners. And I must say, that the SuperLiner Perfect Slim is pretty darn effective. The tip is an extended, tapered brush, and applies in a consistent line, of whatever thickness you desire. Since I’ve still got the stabilisers/training wheels on, I did a thinnish line. Because of the precision of the tip, I managed to do it right!

With the addition of the False Lash Telescopic Mascara, I really had a good thing going on. This mascara says it will create a false eyelash effect, and it does. Unlike many chemists/drugstore brands, this was ready to rock on first application. I don’t know, I’ve used other brands which often require warming up or something? Like, you have to have the wand hit the oxygen several times before it seems to work properly {Only me? Sheesh.}

I wanted to try this immediately, and did so, even though it was Tuesday, and I was going horseriding that night. Tuesday is not a Make Up Day generally, because I don’t want to sweat and smear and all that nasty stuff, and have to take the bus home looking like a panda. Can I say? Only the slightest, tiniest bit of the liner got smudgy, on the outside of my eyes. So, seriously, if this can withstand an hour of pretty intense physical exertion — including the jumping of fences! — then you can take this craic clubbing, and beyond…

Haiku Review: Human+Kind Anti-Ageing Cream

Oh, my God! Oh, wow!
Nature’s Botox how are ya!
Firmness on contact!

There was already a lot to like as far as Human+Kind were concerned:
> They are an Irish brand
> They are deeply interested in making multi-tasking products so that people don’t have to spend a lot of time taking care of their skin
> They have really beautiful packaging
> And last but not least, their products are made from highly concentrated active, natural ingredients.

Me, I don’t care so much that I have a rather complex beauty regime, but I am beginning to give some of the stuff I’ve got a bit of the side eye. What exactly is it made of? What exactly am I putting on my face and hands and body? And is it really working, or just making me smell nice?

At a meeting with the H+K fellas — co-directors and founders Rene van Willigen and Jeroen Proos, and scientist John O’Sullivan — I was impressed by their passion for their product. I mean, you know when someone’s just sellin’ ya something, and when some others are fully invested in their gig. These guys are definitely the latter. The vibe overall was enough to make me interested, especially when I tested wee samples of the various products. Everything felt good, but most importantly, they smelled good. I’d use more all-natural products if they didn’t smell so weird, like the interior of a health food store. You know? That oat-y smell. It’s so unappealing.

I was tidying up today, and since I’m so behind, I was going to put the sample of the  Anti-Ageing Cream in the queue, and get to it whenever; instead, I decided to put some on my face, because I was just standing there, and my face was not otherwise employed, so why not? A pump or two, and I moved to go make some more coffee, and I swear to God, maybe three seconds had passed, and I felt instantaneous — instantaneous — tightening and firming everywhere I had applied the stuff. I think I actually stood stock still for a second? In disbelief? Or, as if my moving around had affected, what, rate of absorption?

The secret ingredient is achmella oleracea, which would have made a killer second line to my poem had it been just one syllable shorter. The flowering herb is found in South America and it’s known as ‘nature’s botox’. Now, I’ve never had Botox, and I’m feeling confident that with stuff like this available, I won’t be lead astray by my vanity to the Botox office, or wherever you get it.

It’s all I can do to not just sit here all day slapping this stuff all over my face.

Then there’s the multitasking aspect, meaning you can use this as an eye cream, a moisturiser, an anti-wrinkle cream and a night cream. Because I’m in the process of testing a couple of other face things, I’m going to concentrate on using this on my neck and decolletage — I’ll let you know how I get on.

As far as the science-y bits go, I’ll get back to that later as well. H+K have a great blog, full of info on their all-natural approach. Why not get it straight from the horse’s mouth?

So, Human+Kind: it looks nice, smells nice, and works considerably more than nicely. Can’t want to try the rest of the line!


Haiku Review: Avon ANEW Clinical Resurfacing Expert Smoothing Fluid

A more perfect haiku word
Has never been known.

Oh, words: I love words, and one of my favourite words is ‘slough’. Oh wow, I am saying it over and over to myself and it is just the most amazing feeling. Slough slough slough. It’s the owwwwwwww part, and the visual of the silent ‘gh’ that gets me. {This is turning out to be a week of strange posts…}

Oh, but it is so satisfying. Other faves include: waft, bedizen, and smooch.

I’ve been researching microdermabrasion, and that’s how I came across slough, as in: sloughing off dead skin cells. I went a’googlin’ because I got some Avon ANEW Clinical Resurfacing Expert Smoothing Fluid {whew! What a mouthful!} yesterday and was immediately taken by the notion of being able to self-treat my complexion in a microdermabrasional kind of way.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a clinical treatment — surely I’d remember? It involves machines, which is both scary and thrilling; one can go so far as to buy oneself a machine for at-home use. I have worked professionally as a gadget reviewer, and I am a techno-magpie: I use stuff for a while, and then I get bored, so I can’t imagine that a machine would do me any good in the long run. So in Avon’s offering we’ve got a little bit ‘o’ complexion transformation in a bottle, which seems as simple as could be.

Too simple?  The whole point of microdermabrasion {I am getting tired of typing that word} is to SLOUGH off those dead skin cells, in turn reducing the appearance of fine lines, increasing the softness of your skin, and eradicating acne. Can a mere lotion deliver the same benefit?

We’ll see, because I would very much like this to work. According to one of the Avon R&D bods, the product ‘mimic[s] the physical action of microdermabrasion treatments, with less irritation.’ Or, to hark back to my favourite word, less owwwwww.

Will keep you posted.


Haiku Review: Beauty Trimmer

Let’s face it, ladies:
As we age, the hair does grow,
Not just from the scalp.

It all started on the chin, I think. Or maybe it was the upper lip. As I mentioned here, I had hit the waxing scene rather early, so unwieldy facial hair has always been a thing. Once it started to look like I was going to give those dudes from ZZ Top some serious competition, I started to look for some equally serious epilatory solutions.

Okay, so it wasn’t as bad as all that. And the hair itself was and mostly continues to be light blonde. This is great because one learns not to sit in the windows of cafés in direct sunlight, for example, and one therefore can stretch out the time between the employment of epilatory techniques. It is not great when one is a beauty journo/blogger, with many opportunities to review laser hair removal, only to be told that one’s hair is too light for it to work.

Grrrrrr. <A sound appropriate to my hirsuteness.

There were several approaches to solve this problem: I got the lip and chin waxed. I got the at-home waxing strips. I quite like this, from Boots, only it takes planning. Do not even suggest putting a tweezer anywhere near my lip, my eyes have just started watering.

When the neck hair got really out of control, I bit the bullet and started using the Braun Silk Epil 7. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! It took some seasoning of the skin, but once I became inured to all the little spinning razors yanking the hair out, I wouldn’t be without it. Some of the finer hairs haven’t grown back!

But there was no. way. in. hell I was going to run that over my lip. Of all the whiskers, I dislike these the most. So when the Beauty Trimmer landed on my desk, and purported to be more than able to deal with hairs other than my brows (for which I had requested this, initially), I though, ah, sure why not?

I liked its sleekness, right off the bat. It’s something that you could easily slip into your make up bag, as easily as a pair {set?} of tweezers. There’s only one setting — gentle buzz — and to be honest, it didn’t feel like it was doing anything as I stroked it over my lip, until I realised I was stroking it over a clean, hairless lip. ! It’s also fairly good on the goatee, but it really is all about the lip area for me.

Painless, quick, easy… the longer hairs around the edges of my mouth tend to grow in darker, where they didn’t before, but bright side! I can go get those zapped now.

The pink thing in the picture is a thing to put on the end to use on your brows? I haven’t gone there yet, mainly because I haven’t figured out in my head how it could possibly work. Combing? There’s a video, but I don’t feel enlightened. And oh yes she did at :53.

€11.99/£9.99, via jmldirect.com