Gift Guide 2015: Happy Holiday Scents

I know that shopping for scent for someone else is tricky, but I think these are the best bets if you’ve got a fragrance junkie on your list.

MICHAEL KORS
White Luminous Gold, Radiant Gold, Brilliant Gold 30 ml, €55 / 50 ml, €79 / 100 ml, €109
MICHAEL KORS
When I first received these to test, I immediately chose the the spicy, musky, deep floral Rose Radiant Gold, and wrote off the the other two. And then I thought, ah, sure, in the interest of fairness, give the White Luminous Gold a go — and it’s lovely, with a really sexy jasmine/amber dry down. And then when I was taking the photo, I gave the 24K Brilliant Gold a spritz — I like it toooooo: this one smells the most ‘expensive’, like the limo is going to pulling up at the door as I swing on my fabulously expensive car coat and slip elegantly into the back. Or whatever. The packaging is pure contemporary luxe, and the variety in the scents on offer is sure to suit someone you want to splurge on.

JO MALONE
Candle €52, Diffuser €74, Limited Edition Pomegranate Noir €105
JO MALONE
I sigh. The range has changed and expanded, but the essence of the Jo Malone brand remains the same: delicious combinations of scents that you’d never imagine would work as well as they do. I’ve got a candle on the go at the moment, and it’s been going and going, with a fragrance that lingers delightfully long after the flame has been extinguished. I’ve also got a diffuser that I’m hoarding until I come back from hols, but expect to get a good six months out of it {74 ÷ 6 = 12.33/month! Cheap as chips!} And what can I say about Pomegranate Noir except that it is legendary, and this year’s LE bottle is just beautiful. If I had to choose a scent for the candle, I’d go with the White Jasmine & Mint; for the home diffuser, I’d be thinking ahead to spring and suggest the Lime Basil & Mandarin. I am totally dreaming of a fragrant Christmas…

NEOM ORGANICS LONDON
Limited Edition Christmas Wishes Scented Candle €42/One Wick Christmas Wish Home Collection €54
NEOM candle and gift setGlorious scented with mandarin, cinnamon & tonka bean, NEOM’s Christmas Wish candle makes the home smell like the inside of a holiday bakery, without any of the fuss or mess {hate baking, me}. If you’d prefer something zingy, then the Perfect Peace candle will do the trick as it is loaded with pine, myrrh and lime peel. I’m new to this brand, and it’s been one of my highlights of the year: I enjoyed a Happiness Wellbeing Treatment at Akina Beauty and Laser Clinic in their new premises in Leeson Street, and it was spectac, and of course used products from the line — more about that later! I’ve also had help Zzzz-catching with Perfect Night’s Sleep Pillow Mist, a blend of English lavender, sweet basil and jasmine {27.45}. The box on the left is a generous gift of a candle and a bottle of Home Mist, not only because of the quality of the products, but also because you’ll be introducing someone to an excellent brand.

L’OCCITANE
Pierre Hermé Paris Limited Edition: Jasmin-Immortelle-Neroli €68
LOCCITANE NEROLI box
I’ve been keeping this in mind since the press launch way back before we all started wondering where we could find an ark-building course. With a value of €89, this blend of jasmine, the essence of the immortelle flower and the ever-popular orangey neroli results in a girly yet sexy scent. The set includes a 75ml Eau de Toilette, 250ml Body Milk, 50ml Shower Gel and 50g Scented Soap — perfect for the lady who likes to layer her fragrance. There’s also a Pamplemousse Rhubarbe collection, which is more towards the cedary, vetiver-y end of the spectrum.

GHOST GirlGhost_Girl
Eau de Toillette €34.50 / 30ml
I flagged this back in the summer and I still can’t imagine anything more appropriate for a teen or tween on your list than this little number. The classic fragrance brand have added this youthful scent to their line, and this is as young as it gets: it’s got a sharp, bright, fruity initial tone that only reluctantly deepens into something richer. The dry down is like watching an adolescent who has been told to go upstairs to do her homework take… each… step… one… at… a… time. This is entirely appropriate for such a youthful fragrance. My inner teen thinks she’d probably wear this, so it’s all good. Tiny bit pricey for girls on a budget, though, so be a good grown up and treat a niece/babysister/young cousin.

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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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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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I Try Before You Buy: Shower Creams, Gels and Washes

Soothing your dry winter skin starts in the shower as does your daily fragrance. Depending upon your desire for suds — lots, or little — all of the below will get your pelt through the winter and may endow you with fragrance, too. Or not! Whatever you prefer! I am extremely fussy about scent in the shower and really feel that it can make or break my day…

DOVE Silk Glow Body Wash {€2.99}
*****
The proof isn’t always in the price point: this is extremely good value for 250mls, and it really does make my skin feel silky and glowy after use. It also has that glorious Dove scent and also! The tiniest squeeze of product produces loads of foam. Great price point!

LUSH Dreamwash Shower Smoothie {€13.65}
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Gorgeous texture — like you are icing yourself like a cake — meets lovely and soothing scent… but also unfortunately meets one the famous black pots that are fiddly to deal with in the shower. Also, if suds are your thing, the way they are my thing, then this won’t bubble up to your usual standard.

ROGER & GALLET Fleur de Figuier Gentle Shower Cream {€12}
***
This is soap-free and sulfate-free, and yet you get a nice crop of bubbles with which to scrub yourself. I found the scent to be slightly too sweet, but R&G have such a great range of fragrances, I’m sure I’ll find something that suits.
Shower stuff
L’OCCITANE Fouette Whipped Shower Foam {€17.50}
***
Shake it up, and it’s like mousse for your body when you dispense it. I love being able to layer with the Fouette Body Cream {€22}, but again, I like a nice froth of soapy goodness in the course of my morning ablutions — and I didn’t get the amount I prefer.

NIVEA Water Lily & Oil Shower Gel {€10.99}
****
Ooh, love an oil, and this is luxurious bargain considering you get 250mls. It doesn’t smell all that flowery, which is great if you’re me and hate too much fragrance, and not great is you did want to smell like a delicate flower. Otherwise, lots of lather for a little bitta gel, and you’ll feel silky, too.

CLINIQUE Deep Comfort Body Wash {€21}
****
This is terrific, if kind of expensive. It suds up like nobody’s business, which is something of a learning curve: I used up way too much product early on because I didn’t realize that I didn’t need that much. Paired with Deep Comfort Body Butter (€34, 200ml), your skin will in fact be comforted deeply.

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Snap! Judgement: L’Occitane Fouette Hand and Body Cream

I am totes not fou about hand creams, and really, really not a fan of shea butter.

But, this:
L'OCCITANE FOUETTE hand‘Fouette’ means ‘whipped’ French, and that’s just a great word. It actually sounds whippy — in French, anyway.

As I’m not a fan, I admit I approach hand creams with a sort resigned ‘whatever’ attitude. Well, I loved this on contact. It is so light that I didn’t feel like my hands got all slimy or that it was going to takes ages to absorb. It didn’t! It sank right in, and hang on, I’ve got to put on some more —

When you squeeze to dispense, it makes a sound like whipped cream out of a can, too! < That may be an American thing, not sure. You do have to move fairly quickly to get every inch of your hands covered, but I am happy with that. Done and dusted — or mositurised — in seconds.

Can’t wait to get stuck in with this, then!*
L'OCCITANE FOUETTE body

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Hand Cream: €10.50; Body Cream: €22

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*I totally cheated and tried it and didn’t write about it immediately, which mitigates the whole snap judgement thing, but I really like it. It, too, has a crackly sort of sound that it makes when you scoop it out of the tin, and it smells fresh and soapy in the cleanest possible sense. Tiny tin, though…

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Mother’s Day 2014: Things That Spritz and Things That… Fits

Gift guides demonstrate the breadth of options one has when coming up to a big day like Mother’s Day {does anyone still call it Mothering Sunday, which sounds a little bit creepy?} or, they are prejudiced to the writer’s own preferences. This is a little bit of both. I like perfume, and I like things that are contained in other things, espesh when the container is ultimately useful in the future. I like all of these, and your mum may, too.

JO MALONE Rain & Angelica {€100} JO MALONEThis is one of four in the limited London Rain edition, hence the extra few bob in the price. The first hit of this is spectacular, truly infused with the freshness of rain. I pick up a little bit of pepper too, but that may just be my screwy nose (don’t ask me to talk about wine; I can tell if it’s red or white, that’s about the extent of it.) I just kept spraying it and spraying it on myself, because I kept missing the dry down — when I did get it, I was delighted for the wee blast of vetiver. This is lovely, but I will say it doesn’t have the staying power of some the classic JM scents.

Other scents in the collection include Wisteria & Violet, White Jasmine & Mint, and Black Cedarwood & Juniper, the last of which appeals as juniper = gin; also, the press materials claim that it has a ‘carnal touch of cumin’ in it, which — the mind reels.

LACOSTELACOSTE Eau de Lacoste Sensuelle {€60} This brand has always seemed preppy to me, which is mainly what they’re going for — that’s all in the way to say that sensual and little alligators haven’t exactly matched up in my mind. This is here to change yours: it’s got some amber notes in it, to darken things down a bit, and the bottle, as you can see, it designed to reflect the new tone.

It’s still sweet and yummy, though, and this dries down to a nougatine, vamilla-y vibe, so not too shocking a change. It’s definitely a touch more sophisticated — as in, less sporty — than the the original Eau de Lacoste for Women — but it doesn’t get completely down and dirty.

MUM'S DAY LUSH
LUSH Mum {€37.95} Talk about ‘what is says on the tin’! This container — yes, made of tin — is chock full of fun Lush stuff. Well, five seems like a ‘chock’ to me. There’s Dream Cream hand and body lotion, which is fab, and a trial-sized Gorgeous mosituriser for the face, along with four delicious bath additives, including a personal fave, the Secret Garden Bath Bomb. The tin is useful after mum uses everything up!

L'OCCITANE
L’OCCITANE The Exquisite Boudoir Collection {€17. with €40 purchase} I myself love a good coffret, and L’Occitane have packed this adorable, yet elegant box with five travel-sized products, including their glorious new scent, Neroli & Orchidee, in Eau de Toilette and body milk form. And you could even spend the €40 on mum — or on somebody else, ahem. You can now shop online at loccitane.ie, using the code VELVET, if you haven’t a boutique in your locality.

MUM'S DAY THE BODY SHOP
THE BODY SHOP Spritz & Moisture Basket {€22.95} Ah! A wee beach bag! Available in three ‘flavours’ — Satsuma, Shea, or Moringa — this contains a shower gel, an Eau de Toilette, and a sample of the brand’s famous body butter. Pictured is Satsuma, which I find to be refreshing and sexy, but the other two are equally good, depending on mum’s preference. Perfect to bring along on the big summer holidays.

FIT FLOPSFIT FLOPS The Skinny {€90} These also come in white, and look fab in either colour, I think it’s thanks to the cork-wraparound on the sole. White might go better with the above beach bag, but the red is so sporty and, I don’t know, yacht-y? Which may match nicely with the Lacoste perfume? If mum is an FF enthusiast, you won’t go wrong.

ROISIN CHOCOLATES ALDI
RÓISÍN’S Luxury Irish Chocolates {€9.99} From Aldi, these are delicious, and I can personally vouch for that, because I would never, ever recommend something without having tried it. Ever. So selfless! Anyway, this ‘fits’ because chocolates always work, for chocolate-loving mums, anyway.

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OMChristmas: Dudes

I guess guys must think we think they smell bad, given that’s the majority of what we give them at Christmas … nah, just joking. Nothing like a fragranced male to keep the yuletide bright! Herewith are several gift sets for yer fella, a list which betrays my own personal bias towards the snuffle factor, and some skincare bits that are fairly burstin’ with testosterone.

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‘Snuffle factor’ being an actual industry term, which is a measure of the degree to which a lady wants to rub her nose on a man’s post-cologned neck. I could get a PHD in this, I am such an excellent calibrator of snuffle-ocity.
Zegna Uomo Classic Set High Res

ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA Z Zegna Uomo Classic Set {€55} contains Z Zegna 50ml EDT and a 100mls of  Hair & Body Wash. The scent dries down to yummy vetiver, patchouli and musk. I don’t know when we started calling cologne Eau de Toilette? Are they different things, or what? No idea, but I do know that causing your man to smell like a sexy Italian is no bad thing. If your man is already a sexy Italian, does he have a brother?

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NIVEA MEN REGIME
NIVEA MEN Regime {€12.99} is a great way to get your man into skincare without making it come over all girly. This set includes Deep Cleansing Wash 100ml; Moisturising Shave Gel 200ml; Rehydrating Moisturiser 75ml. It looks suitably masculine and as with all Nivea products, smells fresh and clean, so he will, too.

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L'OCCITANE CEDRE & ORANGEL’OCCITANE have a gorgeous box of South of France goodness in the form of their Cèdre & Oranger range for men {€73}. Included in this Star Gift Set is 75ml Cèdre & Oranger Eau de Toilette; 175ml Cèdre & Oranger Shower Gel and 75ml Cèdre & Oranger After Shave Balm.

I, er, made the mistake of cracking into it, and I really like it for myself — so if you, like, mistakenly use the shower gel, say, it won’t be that terrible of a mistake.

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ZIAJA €7.99The macho-looking ZIAJA‘s Men Set {€7.99} is a full-sized wonder for a travel-sized price. The cream absorbs superfast, and dries matte, so there’ll be no sign of the pampering that has just ensued. The rest of the line is as competitively priced as the lady stuff, so you could throw a few more products in, and if you spend €20, I’d be surprised.

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HUGO BOSS FRAGRANCE SETI would buy this for a grown-up nephew, or a brother or brother-in-law. The BOSS Bottled Gift Set {€60} is a modern, fresh, masculine combo of 50mls of Eau de Toilette and 100mls of shower cream. It is sexy, but not in a way that ‘s going to annoy your sister because you are giving it to her husband, or freak out your bro.

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007 FRAGRANCE SETThis is perfect for a medium-grown nephew, as I have heard that 11-year-olds are now giving themselves a splash of cologne before getting on the school bus. The JAMES BOND 007 Quantum Gift Set {€38} contains 75mls of EDT and Refreshing Shower Gel. The cap is a nifty twisty thing that adds interest, and the size is just right for those fickle tweensters, who will no doubt go about robbing their dad’s cologne (above.)

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Yon-Ka Men GiftSauce for goose meets gander: YON KA PARIS for the ladies is sublime, so surely it is the same for the mens? This For Men Gift Set {€40} come with Anti-oxidant and Energising Nutri-Moist creme and a travel-sized Lotion YK Aftershave in a fancy toiletry bag. I mean, a manly toiletry bag.

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