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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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 Try Before You Buy: Lipgloss

If you want the light texture of a gloss with the deep pigment of a lipstick, then have I got a bunch of reviews for you.

REVLON ColorBurst Lacquer Balm in Demure {€10.99}
****
These pigments are so intense, they seemed too bold to be balms. They are super hydrating, though, and so they remain. Go for a lighter hue like Demure (pictured below), a mauvy pink, if you can’t be bothered with high maintenance. You’ll get good coverage without too much fuss.

MAC COSMETICS Mineralise Glass Lip Gloss in Vibrant Vibe {€22}
*****
I had always wanted to love the brand’s Lip Glasses, but they were sticky, and thick, and you’d never want to find yourself lobbing the gob unexpectedly when wearing it. This new version is basically perfect: light and shiny and full of pigment — snog away!

LIPGLOSSES

YVES SAINT LAURENT Gloss Volupté in Prune Organdi {€25}
****
Well, you’re not going to be putting this on with your eyes closed (this shade is dark), but the innovation as regards the applicator is genius. The doe-foot pad at the end of the wand is bent just enough to perfectly follow the mouth’s contour when your lips are closed over it. It’s made to fit the way we use it. The melon-y scent is lovely, and the texture is weightless.

SMASHBOX Be Legendary Long-wear Lip Lacquer in Legendary {€24}
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Holy moly! This is like pure lipstick in liquid form, meaning it has the punchy pigment of a lippy, but it glides on like a gloss. You’ll need a steady hand with this one, which is red as red gets. Maybe lay in a lipliner just in case you need help. It’s light as a feather, and is as long-wearing as promised in the name. However, it is the highest of maintenance — you’re really going to have to want this.

BURT’S BEES Lipgloss in Starry Night {€11.95}
****
I have been going-to this for well over a month, so much so that I’ve just about worn off all the copy printed on the tube. This is lush and dark, and yet I’ve managed the tricky business of touching this up with no mirror to hand — but then I cheat and check up in the nearest reflective surface, so I don’t know who I’m fooling. It fades down to a darkish pink, which is okay, but I’d prefer it to stay strong.

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Festive ’14: The Body Shop

BODY SHOP
Love the packaging and equally love the contents: The Body Shop have put together an assortment of vanilla brulée scented goodies, including the trend-setting body butter. This is Joy; you could equally choose Love (frosted cranberry) or Peace (glazed apple).

And what’s with the schoolbook vibe?

Bring harmony to the world with this inspiring Schoolbook of Joy. Proudly made by our Community Fair Trade supplier in Nepal, and full of some of the world’s finest ethically sourced ingredients, this gift has been hand-crafted in book-shaped packaging in honour of our Children in Education initiative with War Child.

I love the gifts that give and give!

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€23: includes body butter 50ml; shower gel 60ml; lip balm 20ml; heart soap 25g

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I Used It All Up: Lush Lip Service

The reformulated versions of Lush‘s lip balms came out in March. I started using this, before bed, every night, since… let’s say 1 April.

LUSH LIP SERVICE

Eight months? That’s pretty good! If you only apply it once*, though. Still: even if you used it twice a day, four months out of this wee 8g, 100% recyclable tin — that’s pretty impressive.

I’m also impressed by the brand’s constant revisitation of formulae, as I’ve said before. The last version I used of this was really hard to coax out of the tin — the scraping required! The initial scratchy moments of application until the balm warmed! Not nice. This is much softer, more aerated, and it stayed completely fresh over those eight months, too.

Next up: Honey Trap

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€7.20/£5.75/$7.25

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*Who applies lip balm only once a day?!?!

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Bee Nice to Your Bod: The Body Shop’s Honeymania Line

My favourite term of endearment is ‘honey’. I don’t know why, it just is! And it’s not something I ever gave much thought to, until I was lucky enough to avail of allll the bits of the Honeymania line, that The Body Shop have recently laid on.

Made from Fair Trade honey sourced in the Ethiopian rainforest, this honey has a social conscience, and also exhibits the benefits of the natural moisturiser, without being sticky and unwieldy. Here are the products, in descending order of love.

Honeymania Body Butter
Many have raved about the brand’s body butters, but this is the Body Butter {€18.95} that has convinced me. It has just the correct amount of honey fragrance, so you smell inviting, much like the original blossom to the original bee, but you won’t be walking around making people wonder if they’d not like a nice cup of herbal tea. Fantastic coverage and day-long softness — this claims to impart 24hr hydration, and it’s one of the few that I’ve tried and tested that comes close!

Homeymania Bubble Bath Melt
This should have probs come before the Butter, in the interest of fragrance layering, but the Bubble Bath Melt {€13.95} isn’t something I’d avail of every day. Just writing about it now, when there is manky raining pouring down, makes me want to fire up the immersion and run myself a tub. This is as near a dammit to the texture of edible honey; it froths up fantastically under running water, and the bubbles last for ages. Heart this deeply.

Honeymania Beeswax soap The Soap {€3.95} is great for the fragrance layer-ers amongst us, and this too bubbles up nicely on your exfoliating mitts or your shower puff. Again, not so overwhelmingly honey-scented — just the correct amount. It has the added bonus of being glycerin-like, so when it dries, it doesn’t leave much residue, which doesn’t leave one with a sense of waste and mess. I have three soaps on the go at the moment, and I keep reaching for this one. I will use this until it is the very sliver of its former self.

Honeymania Lip Butter
We all now about my issues with baume pour les levres, so no one is more surprised than I that I am not completely mad about this Lip Balm {€7.50}. It is good, once applied, but I am having an issue with the texture — slightly gritty — and the scent — it is a bit much in this incarnation. Once it gets where it is meant to go, it feels soft and lovely, and will probably pay dividends under the mistletoe this holiday season. Is your Honey a sweet-aholic? They will be very happy. {The restraint I have exhibited just there!}

Honeymania Scrub
My least fave: I found the Body Scrub {€18.95} to lack enough scrubby bits in it, and its texture was far too slippery, under circumstances that were slippery enough already. If your skin is so, so sensitive to a common-or-garden scrub, I think you may find this to be gentle enough.

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See thebodyshop.co.uk or thebodyshop-usa.com for prices in £ and $.

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Okay, Okay, I Absolutely Have a Problem When It Comes to Lip Cosmetics

ALL THE LIPPYs
Okay???! I get it. A normal human female probably wouldn’t have — oh, God, must I count them? — eighteen varieties of cosmetics-for-the-lips, on the go, right? This is not counting the ones that are lurking in pockets and rolling around in my handbags. Gah.

But, but, but — okay. Since I routinely take two of these along with me on a given day, because the whole day could change and require a different hue or texture, then it’s like there’s really nine. Nine lip combinations.

{…}

I don’t buy that either. Although I will argue that giving yourself the option to change up during the day makes total sense. Like, the Pür Minerals or the No7 — or the Benefit Ultra Plush Lip Gloss? Theses are perfect for sitting-at-the-desk wear, but you might like to give your look a wee pop in the evening, with the Smashbox Limitless Lip Stain, or the Clinique Chubby. Or that Essence red, in between the Chubby and the Pür? It is the perfect summer red I’ve yet to come across.

So, you know, options.

Nevertheless, I felt a cull was in order:

FEWER LIPPYsOnly because I need to make room for more…

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Sorry, they just look so ronrey.

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