Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Clinique Clarifying Lotion

NUMBER 1!!!!11! Hope you enjoyed this. When I started the blog, I just about killed myself writing these things. Unlike my work in The Herald, these posts seemed sooooo looooong, but now I’m in the swing. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for new reviews and features this week!


When I was in my 20s, my godmother recommended that I start a proper skin care regimen. The gist of her argument was that just because I looked amazing and youthful right then didn’t mean that I could I take it for granted, and if I wanted to extend my years of amazingness and youthiness, I had better get cracking right away.

Clinique Clarifying tonerI chose Clinique. I can’t remember why, except that their fresh and spare ad campaigns made them, in my mind, modern and suited to my youthful amazingness. I got the 3-step thingie — the soap, the yellow moisturiser, and the Clarifying Lotion 2. I had to google the yellow stuff just now (Dramatically Different!) because I stopped using it ages ago, and the soap is distant, misty memory, but I have not yet found anything that is as effective as the Clarifying Lotion in terms of cleaning and toning my skin.

Despite its slightly astringent tingle, it doesn’t dry out my face. I just don’t feel like I’ve cleaned off the day if I don’t feel that blast of icy freshness. And who can argue with the power of Clinique Bonus Days! I ask you! Even after all these years of beauty largesse, the sight of a wee collection of cunningly assembled samples in some class of clever case sends a thrill racing through my veins. I’ve still got the mini bottle from that one Bonus that one Time, that had held Clarifying Toner — I continue to decant into it when traveling, and wouldn’t be without it.

Yes, indeed: many, many years on, it’s still a go-to/must have,/unassailable element of my beauty regimen. If you must know how many years it has been, well, I remember when all this product came in glass bottles. I think the years have been pretty kind to me, so clearly Clinique has done its job well. Many thanks to them, and to Auntie Sue, too!




Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: bliss vanilla + bergamot

The first time I posted this, I upper-cased the b, the v, and the other b, even though it is not the style of the brand. This lower-case-ness is all well and good on a shelf — not so much in a post or in anything editorial. I think it looks weird. It’s weird, right?

I forgive it, though, as I love this line entirely. Number 2 in the series; at this writing I continue to long for something for The Hair that smells of this lovely, lovely scent…


I’ll always remember the first time I got a whiff of Bliss’ cunning combination of vanilla and bergamot: I was working as the art director of a super cool female’s magazine, and one of my colleagues pretty much thrust an open tub of the Body Buff under my nose. ‘Oh, my God!’ I sighed. ‘It smells like the beach!’*

V+BIf ever there was a hoard-worthy product line, it is this one. I couldn’t bear to not have it around, just in case — and ‘just in case’ = the possibility of sharing my fragrant, beachy, perfectly exfoliated skin with a… ‘friend’. As it is, this scent almost exists almost entirely in my memory, because I allow myself to use it so rarely. (Which either says sad things about the state of my… ‘friendships’, or implies that I choose my ‘friends’ with extreme care. Let’s agree on the latter, shall we?)

Oh, but when I do decide to break out the V+B, I do it thoroughly and completely. The Body Buff is truly superb, and one of the top five I have ever used. The Soapy Suds come next, naturally, and of course it is all capped off with the wonderfully rich Body Butter. I only wish there was a shampoo and conditioner. And a perfume. And a — a hat, or something. I wish there were clothes that smelled like this.

You think I’m kidding, don’t you? I am so not. The smell of the seashore is hardwired into the pleasure centre of my brain, so that, like a rat in a Skinner box, once I get a whiff of beachy goodness all I want is more. Some of the best times of my life were spent oceanside, and a tonne of unencumbered joy is triggered by the glorious scent of the auld V+B. I am a great believer in aromatherapy, and the days in which I walk around, wafting the joyful fragrance of undiluted joy and optimism, I have a very joyful and optimistic day. It is totally true.


Body Buff £28/€39/$36, Body Butter £20/€25/$28, Soapy Suds £16/€22/$18


*I have absolutely no idea why the combination of vanilla + bergamot smells like the beach, but it does.


I have a line on a scent that will complement this perfectly, but is not Of The Brand. Can you guess what it is?!?


Manky Nails: 2012…

…is looking much like 2011. And every year before that.

I rarely get homesick for Amerikay, but when I do, it’s for family, friends, and manicures. $10 manicures on my lunch hour. $30 mani-pedi Mon-Weds. I just heaved a massive sigh.

I used to get a manicure a week. Once. A. Week. I can’t even imagine. I certainly don’t bother here — and before you get all INP on me, I’ve gotten manis in Dublin, Paris and London and they have all sucked. NYC baybee — and Manhattan in particular, because even the Brooklyn manicures are rubbish.

I am still applying the Mavala Cuticle Oil, and it peels them off like a mofo. I can’t understand why it doesn’t even seem to end, though. I mean, I know that there will always be skin around my nails, but this seems ridic, like I get one day of smooth and then it’s all crap again.

I have been remiss as regards the OPI Nail Envy Nail Strengthener, and I know that’s on me. I’m even sitting here this very second, as I type, looking at it but not picking it up and using it. Hopeless.

One thing I have been procrastinating about is trying out the Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips. I had taken a set out of the packaging and looked at them before Christmas, even held one up against a thumbnail, and then decided to bring them with on my hols… and then I figured, I’ll just get a real manicure, so they never even made it out of my case. And I didn’t get a real mani either.

I do believe I am entirely apathetic about the state of my fingernails.

Despite having come to this conclusion, I decided to give these a go.

At left, the carnage.

You get a wee nail file, an orange stick, and two packs of nail strips, all sized to fit the variety of your fingers. I took up a thumbnail strip, peeled off the protective plastic and stuck it to my nail… but it didn’t stay stuck… so I tried another… no joy. WTF?

Then I figured that using the strips that had been sitting around in the open air since before Christmas was a bust. I reckon this is like leaving the cap off your nail varnish bottle for almost two months and expecting everything to be a-ok?

Into the untouched pack, and eureka, it works! Well, it sticks to the nail, anyway. I Had a whole bunch of excess hanging over my nail bed, that I kind of poked at until it peeled off. You are directed to file away the extra bits at the top, which totally did not work, so I cut most of it off, and then wrapped some of said extra over the top of my nail.

Yeah? Okay. Less muss, a bit more fuss, but that looks pretty good, except you can’t see the raggedy edge on the right side of my nail. LOVE the pattern, and I’m keen to see if this makes it through horseriding tonight — hmm, this maybe why I have relegated nail care to the basement of my House of Beauty. The gloves make a mess of everything but shellac. Once, I tried to preserve a Verrrrry Expensive mani I got in Harrods, and rode without gloves one lesson, and the varnish still chipped anyway.

You know, I am such a lazy bones I may not even finish this hand? Because then I’d have to do the other hand. Like, one nail is kind of funky, but only five out of ten fingers? I don’t know if I can pull that off.

I’ve done a swing around the ‘net, and everybody is better at this nail thing than me. Go here for evidence of how someone who is not crap at their nails does a nice job with these. SAD FACE.


From the Archives: Stylin’ Hair

I admit, I feel somewhat lost without another ♥Day post to write. And also: relieved. Sheesh, that was crazy, remind me not to do that next year.

I’m in the process of winnowing, and faced with my multitude of hair styling products, I thought the best thing to do would be to consult my own archive, and lo, here is a linkety link to an Evening Herald Tried & Tested column.

Hmmm. Only two of these are still in rotation, which makes me feel hopeful about my ability to streamline. After you read the reviews, can you guess which two? I was surprised, myself…

Vitamin See: Jan Marini C-ESTA® Rejuvenating Eye Treatment

Oh, the world of punny, eye-related headlines is vast, but this one is a natural, as is the treatment itself.

There is nothing, if you’re me, and maybe if you’re you as well! like walking into a spa. Everything about a good spa is designed and organising to the n-th degree of relaxation and rejuvenation: muted, clean colours, the burning of aromatherapy candles, the mellow yet friendly demeanour of the staff, the light chatter of women who are taking some time out for their self-care.

Based in Baggot Street, essentials Beauty & Skincare have all that in spades. They’ve also got several floors of an elegantly appointed building and unlike many days spas in which I have been treated, they saw to the soundproofing and be extension, to the comfort of their clients. Seriously, there is nothing more annoying then one’s mellow harshed by continually closing doors, chatter in the hallways, and one time, the sound of a fellow bliss-seeker taking a shower. There was no singing involved, but still.

Anyway! None of that nonsense at essentials. Additionally, the introduced me to a product line that I’d yet to come across, that of Jan Marini. Loads of celebs use her products — Cher, who I adore, is a big fan — and so I reckoned that the products hail from the West Coast. I was right! I love being right. When I was offered the chance to review the C-ESTA® Rejuvenating Eye Treatment, I happily accepted, keen to learn about a whole new bunch of products. When I was told it was only 30 minutes, I thought, ‘Feh, what’s the use of that?’

In this case, I am more than happy to be wrong.

The C-ESTA® line takes vitamin C as its main ingredient. Also involved is DMAE, which is short for Dimethylethanolamine,’a potent anti-oxidant, cellular mediator and product penetration enhancer.’ To parse: anti-oxidants wipe out free radicals, which inspire chemical reactions that are not beneficial, in this case, to the skin; cellular mediator, OMG, don’t even go down that WIki rabbit hole {scarred for life}, but let’s logic it and say that it gets the product to the cells that need, and doesn’t it waste its time with those that don’t?; and the last, well, this makes sure the product really gets down under the surface of the skin.

I said I was going to make more of an effort with this science-y stuff, so there you go.

The pleasure upon entering the warm, lowly-lit, and utterly relaxing treatment room needs not be parsed. Yay, for the warm towels; yay, for the terry-cloth boob-tubey thing I wore beneath the towels; yay, for the pleasant, lute-y music that played.

And yay hurray for the treatment itself, which, as delivered by Martha, was comprehensive, soothing, and did all the rejuvenating as promised. My skin was cleansed with C-ESTA® Cleansing Gel, followed by a ten minute micro mask for the eyes. While the mask did its thing, I got a massage to aid lymphatic drainage with C-ESTA® Cream; this was follwoed by applications of Eye Repair Concentrate and Intervention Eye Cream, respectively. Lastly, Antioxidant Face Protectant was swept on, and the interlude was at an end.

At some stage, there was a shoulder and upper back massage. Sigh.

Now, when I was in the States for the holidays, I saw endless commercials for this product that makes your eyes bigger? It’s like tape that you put on your eyelids? Whoa. As someone who has a very thin lid, I could understand the motivation behind this product, but: tape on your eyelids?!?! After this treatment, I looked like I had had an eye lift, the same sort of look the eyelid tape was producing. That is pretty amazing.

I will say that I felt some serious tingling during part of the process, and if you have sensitive skin, I would make sure that I got a patch test or something. The thing is, my skin can take just about anything, and if I felt an intense tingle, than those of you with more delicate complexions might like to ask a few questions first.

I was dewy and bright-eyed for days. I also felt like my skin didn’t need anything else doing to it for at least three of those days, so that is pretty impressive.

If you’d like to brighten your outlook on life, I recommend this, and the whole essentials day spa experience.

The Jan Marini CESTA Rejuvenating Eye Treatment is priced at €45 for one 30 min treatment with a recommended package of six treatments to be carried out over 6 weeks, usually priced at €270 but on special offer at €225

For further information on Jan Marini treatment and products, please contact essentials Beauty & Skincare Clinic, 7 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4, (01) 6683036 / info@essentials.ie

Manky Nails: Hmmm

Having all this nail care stuff right at my, ha ha, fingertips on my desk is working out really well.

I’ve got Nail Envy on my right hand, and on my left, just for the craic, I applied essie fill the gap!, a ridge-filling base coat. Looking at the nails on my left hand right now, I see that they look pretty good.

Really good, actually: somewhat shiny, and smooth. I expect I need one of those white blocky things that manicurists use — I’ll have to look into that.

I’ve only had it on for day, but yeah, they look the way that I perceive nice, normal nails to look.

I’m going to give it some time — when I’m off horseriding for the holidays [sob!] and give some varnish a go.

€13.99/£10.95 /$10.00

I don’t have time to take a snap of the product itself, but you may find many pictures here