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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


I Try Before You Buy: Maybelline New York, Bourjois, Garnier, Skinceuticals, Origins

Rather a mixed bag this week! It’s all very face-y, though, so there is something of a defining principle.

MAYBELLINE NEW YORK The Nudes Eyeshadow Palette, €14.99
This is seriously amazing. The range covers everything from day to night, and is organised so that you can easily pair them {use a top hue with the one directly beneath it, and 01 MAYBELLINEthere’s your duo} or even quad them. I decided to give it a try as I was going to be out all day working in an office, and when I got home, it was as if no time had passed. this is like Back To The Future for your eyelids… or something time-travelly like that. From matte to shimmer, this has got you covered, and I was so seriously impressed by its staying power — without eyelid primer! — that I can’t recommend this enough. This is also perfect for those among us who fear attempting the black smokey eye at home. You can get as sexy a result with shades of brown!

BOURJOIS PARIS 12hr Aqua Blush, €12.49
The less powder on the face during a heatwave the better, but do you really need a blusher when rosiness in the cheeks is reaching critical 04 BOURJOISmass? I’m loving this addition to the Bourjois line, and yes, it’s nice to add a pop of colour, especially this lightweight wash — there’s a big difference between a heat flush and blush! Dispensing it is tricky as a full pump is enough for three faces; I’ve fine-tuned an action to a 1/4 of a pump that manages to release the tiniest dab, which still gives good coverage. Wait until your foundation is fully set, though, otherwise this tends to melt it a bit and move it around. Comes in Ingenude, CocoRicorial, Pink Twice and Berry Nice {self-explanatory, I would think.}

GARNIER PureActive Matte Control Anti-Shine03 GARNIER Anti-Blemish Moisturiser, €14.99
I wasn’t really sure what this was trying to be: is just a moisturiser, or is it a primer, too? That anti-shine element felt like it applied to the latter, but my first usage felt like it was falling down on the side of moisturising — that is, I used way too much. This too is a great thing for the days of heat, if you can call them to mind at all: a little bit goes a long way under a BB cream, allowing for some blurred lines but not blocked pores, and for your BB to stay in place. Still, I wasn’t overly wowed, due to its neither-here-nor-there texture.

A restorative concentrate for damaged/ageing lips, this is a creme, which created a moment of cognitive dissonance; it is also a pump, which created a moment of ‘How much of this product am I going to waste?’ I’ve tried lip creams in the past, and the texture has always given me the shivers; here, though, it absorbs at just the correct speed, so it’s not like there’s this gross layer of goop on your mouth. I am not cray about the pump, and I don’t think this will make it into my handbag, but I’ve got it to hand at the keyboard, and I’ve been going to it for the last week. In fact, I’ve just popped some on because I was trying out a lippy that was so drying it was all I could do to actually get it off my mouth. This is replenishing much needed moisture, even as I type. This is perfect for an intensive treatment that’s a treat!

ORIGINS Original Skin Re05 ORIGINStexturizing Mask with Rose Clay, €35
Clay? Yay! I love a good clay mask! This is practically an express mask, it dries so quickly — and yet, it does not dry out the skin. When removing, the addition of water turns it into a gentle exfoliation experience. I was worried about the beads that were so clearly acting as the exfoliating agent, but upon research have discovered that they are jojoba beads and are biodegradable, which I take to mean that they will disintegrate naturally and not poison our planet. This now shares room in my heart with their Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask — oh, and their Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask! I am in love with Origin masks, clearly.


Wind-ter Getting You Down? Moisturise at Night!

I don’t know about you, but the gale force winds are wrecking my head, espesh with being out on the horses in it. I haven’t minded the noise at night, though, and I’m doing my best work in the dreamtime to keep my skin from getting wrecked, never mind my head.

Lashings of cream at night is my only man these blowy days. I’m a big fan of sleeping through the hard stuff, and by deeply moisturising at least three times a week, at bedtime, I feel that I’m keeping my complexion in good nick.

Here are three of my favourites.

Yeah, I know it says ‘daily’ on it, but GREEN ANGEL Seaweed Daily Moisture Face Cream with Jasmine, Neroli & Vitamin E {€24.95} is well able for double duty at night. Anything with seaweed in it is going to be alright by me — add in those oils, and this is bliss in a jar.

NUXE have a new addition in their Merveillance Expert Rich Correcting Cream {€40}, and it’s a good one. I’m happy to use this as directed in the morning, but have been finding it to be great at night, too. Actually? Rather better, as the consistency of the cream is rich and thick. While it does absorb nicely, I’m finding its thickness and richness to be better at the end of the day as opposed to the beginning of it.

Oh, hello, darling. I love, love, love ORIGINS High Potency Night-A-Mins Renewal Cream {€45}, and wish they would make a version that was for the entire body. I hoard this, TBH, because it is like a miraculous new-face-in-a-jar. It never fails to make my skin glow the morning after the night before; the only thing I’ll say against it is that it smells so good, sometimes I keeping myself awake breathing it in. Just me…?


I had long wondered about the day cream v night cream debate — as in, what’s the difference? — and posted about it here


Lucky Thirteen of 2013: The Selfie Apologist

Simply because mine are routinely daft and unflattering. Selfies have become such an object of derision, that I felt I had to chime in on their defense.

In fairness, this is a blog about beauty and make up and other products and services, and many of the former involve my face, so… there you go. A picture = 1000 words.

Freshman year in art college, my drawing teacher said that what he liked about my self portraits — actual, charcoal-on-paper selfies — was that I wasn’t vain about the way I portrayed myself. Which may in fact be a left-handed compliment, because he was kinda like that, but clearly it made an impression on me, and I took the good from the comment.

Because srsly:
The BLISS fabulous skin-reviving rubberizing mask didn’t peel off in one piece as hoped.


photo 2
Mud mask selfies: run of the mill. This ORIGINS Clear Improvement™ Active Charcoal Mask is not, however. I really got great results from using this. Squeaky clean!



Had to post both of these again: my first ‘blind’ selfies. Cotton pads courtesy of CLARINS PARIS Skin Smoothing Eye Mask treatment.

CLARINS eye mask fail


Hello. The PEARLYS Teeth Brightening Treatment in action.


More Crazy Face: Origins Clear Improvement™ Active Charcoal Mask To Clear Pores

I am allll about minimising my pores these days, and photo 3I’ve been gasping to try Origins Clear Improvement™ Active Charcoal Mask for ages. It’s been sitting there on my sink for said ages, patiently awaiting its employment. Such was my yearning that I left it there, unusual because even though my own employment has a siginificant amount to do with products that need to be tested under bathroom conditions, I hate to have the sink all cluttered up. This stayed fast, and finally I got around to giving it a go.

The thing is, hot water is an issue in my gaff. Now, the Americans reading this are gonna be all like, ‘WTF?’ It’s not that I don’t have access to hot water, it’s just that it is a pain/very expensive to fire up the immersion {The what, howl the Yanks}, and this mask requires the use of a cloth dunked in hot water and then applied to the face — to open the pores, ya see. My power shower runs off its own heating element, and it took me ages to realise that I could run the shower, wet the cloth, and then proceed. Must be the American in me that continued to equate hot water with the faucet {The taps, shout my Irish readers.}

Got there in the end!
photo 2

I once tried a charcoal mask, I think it was from Sanctuary Spa, that warmed up on your face, on contact, and it was amazeballs. This is texturally much better than that one, but even with the hot cloth — or perhaps because of it — it didn’t get all that warm, which was a disappointment.

I was very, very happy with the way it — I was going to say ‘dried’ but in fact I am happy because it didn’t dry, it was more like it ‘set’. I do like a nice, tight, squinchy mask {TWSS} but this gave the squinch without the drying feeling. It was pretty perfect, to be honest. This is it, almost dry:
photo 1

Srlsy, that still has some shine on it, which I take to mean it is not going to dry out yer gob.

How did my pores feel? Shrunken, in the best possible sense. The minimisation project has been going well, and I’ve been noticing a real improvement in texture and general glowiness. I’ve got a few other products that I’ll be talking about soon, but this mask is a great place to start, should you like to join me on my pore-shrinking adventure…


100mls: €29/£22/$24


From the Archives: Origins Drink Up™ Intensive Overnight Mask

I am really feeling the winter on my face! I think it is to do with it being unnaturally cold here for this time of year. Seriously, I remember my first Thanksgiving in Ireland — not an oxymoron — and walking to my host’s place with only a bulky jumper for outerwear. I have to wear The Fat Coat® to the horses already! This is wrong, wrong, wrong.

So one must do the right, right, right thing and make sure that one’s face is not going to get all chapped and worn out, and when it feels tired and dry, I can’t recommend Origins Drink Up™ Intensive Overnight Mask more highly.

When I first used this, I was like, Great, this is going to get all over the pillowcases. Well, it does not! It absorbs quickly and yet — and yet! — is utterly and completely moisturising.

Even when, If you are me, and you haven’t used it in a while, and you forget that you don’t need tonnes of the stuff, and you dispense so much that when you put it on, you look like Charlie Chaplin. Even that much product absorbed well in time to snooze out.

Now, mind you, I was catching up on allll the programmes last night, and charged through two Downton Abbeys {yes, let’s all just play cricket, shall we? The patriarch can still get away with lying to the peelers, jolly good, eh?} two Revenges {Oh, gosh, I was getting bored. Whither the bandage dresses, Victoria?} and one Homeland {That scene between Brody and Carrie! Will watch again!} I applied before Homeland, and so it did take at least half an episode to sink in, but sink it did, and I felt refreshed upon waking.

By ‘archive’ I mean ‘the hanging shelf thingie, behind my bathroom door’. As exhaustively catalogued as the National Library, that.


€30.60/£20/$23 << I am giving that euro price point the side eye…

Origins Global ReLeaf: A Correction

So that wee 50ml tube is actually not for sale, it was a promotional thing. But don’t let that stop you availing of this great thing, which again: a tree is planted in your name by Origins whenever you buy something from their A Perfect World franchise.

And remember, either a full-sized tub of A Perfect World Age-defense moisturiser with White Tea (worth €45.00/£32.00) or Starting Over Age-erasing Moisturiser with Mimosa (€50.00/£36.00) can be yours when you bring in an empty thingie of any other skin cream, from your local Origins counter, from 15-28 April! That is a genius treat!

I Fully Support This Initiative: Origins Global ReLeaf

I think Earth Day is in April. Think? I can know that in a quick second — yes, that would be 22 April. Life without Google is simply not worth contemplating.

Origin are going one better, or 29 better, and have declared April 2012 to be Earth Month. I am digging this, and so will they: when you buy anything from their Perfect World™ line, the company will plant a tree on your behalf as part of their Global ReLeaf initiative.

That is excellent! I would very much like to have a dogwood planted on my behalf. One of the gardens in my new road has one, and it is gorgeous. Or maybe something majestic like an oak. Maybe I will just have to buy two products.

{I am quite sure that you can’t control the brand of tree they choose, so enough of that fanciful flight!}

I’ve been using the Antioxidant Moisturiser with White Tea* and have been liking it bunches. The thing with these lil’ tubes of Origin is that you think, Hmm, that tube is lil’, but you don’t need much to get excellently moisturising coverage. They sent me the new Origins A Perfect World™ BB SPF15 Age-defense Tinted Moisturizer with White Tea (€35.50/£27.00) which I am still in the process of forming an opinion about, and which is launching next week.

Opinion is fully formed re: planting trees. More of that, please.

Oh, also! Origin are holding a Trade-In Day in 21st April. If you bring in any empty skincare product (from any brand) you can trade it in for a complimentary full size of either Starting Over™ Age-erasing Moisturizer or A Perfect World™ SPF25 Age-Defense Moisturizer. Good deal!

*Will edit for prices when I get them. This may not have been launched yet, either.

♥Day: More Lip Service

Well, this is a likely line up! Naturally, all of the above are perfect for every day use, but there’s lots ‘o’ smooching on ♥Day, so, get in shape, ladiez!

Whilst not the most romantic looking package in the family, I have to say that I am unconditionally in love with DERMALOGICA’s AGE smart renewal lip complex (€30/£22.50/$26). It’s hard to show its special feature in a crappy picture that I would take myself, so I gave up, but the top of the applicator is like a tiny collander: you spin the dial at the base, and the lip complex comes out of little holes. You don’t need much — I got great results with a half a turn — and it feels clean and neat. And so will your lips.

I liked the minty tingle I got from YES TO CARROTS’ C Me Blush Lip Tint in Cotton Candy (€8/£5.99/$10). This is a very light tint, i.e. barely there, but there’s just enough of a bit of glitter to pick up the light. It’s pretty and low key, a perfect combination of treatment and light make up, and purely excellent when you want to be able to reapply without looking in a mirror.

ORIGINS Lip Remedy (€17/£13/12.50) is a great go-to balm if your lips are in rag order. Chapped, cracked and peeling lips will find relief in the menthol/camphor based product, along with a whole bunch of other good things like French Thyme and Oil of Wintergreen. This feels like the perfect ski bum balm? I don’t know, I haven’t skied in years, but if I went, I’d have this in a pocket.

Okay, this is kind of a drag, but I’m going to go ahead anyway: because I saw ‘House of Fraser’ in the press release, and we have an HoF in Dundrum, I was all over this gig, a charity product by our friends from Clinique. This darling little pouch is the centrepiece of the Kiss It Better appeal, in aid of the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity in London. It’s not available in Ireland, which is a bust, but you can purchase it for £25 on the Clinique website. From left, the treats are: Superbalm Moisturizing Gloss in Raspberry; Vitamin C Lip Smoothie Antioxidant Lip Colour in Pink Me Up; Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm in Woppin’ Watermelon; and Long Last Glosswear SPF15 in Mystic. I totally ♥ the little silvery bag…