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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



You’re on your own with the prices, lads. 


Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Lancôme Visionnaire

Number 9 in the remainder of my original Sweet Sixteen is a product that I left sitting on a shelf the past while — until I picked up Lancôme’s Teint Visionnaire, and fell in love all over again. How good will my skin look if I use that magical molecule day and night?!? Be sure that I will let you know…


I don’t believe in Santa. I don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy. And I don’t believe in products that claim to make your skin younger and radiant. I simply don’t. I believe that if you start on a regimen early enough, you can tend to your skin in such a way as allows it to age gracefully, but this whole thing about ‘making’ your skin look younger? Feh.

{We’ll get into peels at some later stage, because they do the business, but for now, let’s sit up here on the high horse, ‘kay?}

I mean, the skin is deep and complex, and I’m no scientist, but a topical that makes a measurable difference? Yeah, right; and next you’ll be telling me that boob creams work.

MAGIC?At the launch of Visionnaire, back in whenever this year, there was a presentation {waah} that was really quite learned and informative. The journalist doing the Q&A with the Science Lady was actually a scientist in a former life, and had an excellent grasp of the whole thing, until it got so sciencey that we all started shuffing around {I saw you, people, don’t deny it!}, checking for texts — texts that demanded we run out of the Morrison Hotel to save a child from a fire — and wondering if the chicken-on-sticks things were going to make another round.

Then we all got our samples and went home.

Dubious, I began to use it. I began to see a difference. People began commenting one how well I looked. One wee pump of product covered my roundy face perfectly, and my skin actually felt taut and supple, which seems like an oxymoron.

Now I wanted to know how it worked, because it was working.

The whole sciencey bit at the launch was about a molecule called LR 2412, the key element in the serum. There’s a video on the Lancome website that weds phrases like ‘designed to fuse with the skin’, ‘penetrating through skin layers’ in a ‘cascading series of micro-transformations’ ‘based on in-vitro testing’ — with fancy visuals that look like PSP for the derma.

Geez, I must have totally daydreamed my way through biology because I didn’t even know what a molecule was: ‘A group of atoms bonded together, representing the smallest fundamental unit of a chemical compound that can take part in a chemical reaction.’

That’s biology, right?

Still with me? Fair play to you. The whole point of this product is that is it meant to do the stuff that Botox and other overt chemical interventions do. If, as according to the video, the LR 2412 molecule zips around setting off lightning-like transformations deep in the skin, via a cream, then it’s nothing short of a Santa-esque miracle.

I would have been happy enough to have gotten a stocking filled exclusively with this stuff.* It wasn’t like my wrinkles disappeared overnight; rather, Visionnaire has evened out my skin tone, which it says it will do, and it also looks like some incipient dark patches have been minimized if not completely disappeared.

Do I believe that they will disappear entirely? I am afraid to say a definitive yes because I am cynical, but I am cautiously optimistic in a thrilled sort of way. Meaning, I guess, that I want to believe, and am willing, deep down, to be convinced.



*But didn’t, so nope, don’t believe in Santa. Maybe the Easter Bunny can take up the slack?

Beauty Meets Gadgety: Sisley Eau Efficace

One of my intentions on this site is to talk about gadgety things, because that is another arrow in my quiver, as it were. A long time Gadget Gal for the Evening Herald, I’ve been put in abeyance, and do miss writing about things technical.

Imagine my delight when I clapped eyes on Sisley’s Eau Efficace, which is French for Gentle Eye Make-up Remover, Face and Eyes. There is it, looking fairly innocent if sophisticatedly so, in the classic and streamlined Sisley fashion. I tend to like a little more oomph in my packaging {TWSS} — but I did a big clear out at the weekend, and my white bathroom is purely gleaming, so this bottle and its look fit right in.

So what’s the big deal, you ask? Let’s pop the top, shall we?

This is an excellent way to dispense product. So: take your cotton pad, cover the top of this yoke with it, and press. The make-up remover comes up through the white dot thing {left}. It’s silhouette is shown to better effect at right.

Easy does it, and you get just the correct amount on the pad. Me, I tend to have a heavy hand, with this make-up remover, and whisky, so I had somewhat of a learning curve.

I have only been using this as a face make-up remover at the moment — I have been letting the brows lead the way for as long as the dye lasts — and I have to say, this is as refreshing as tonic. I feel slightly dubious about its ‘efficace’ as regards the full monty of mascara and eyeliner, much less eyeshadow, but we’ll give it a go. I have to be out in public tomorrow, so I’ll fill you in.

Thing is, you’re not going to go shopping for Sisley in the bargain bin, are you? For €81.50 a go, you’re going to want to get every last drop. I’ll keep track of this one, because another one of my best arrows is the Dart of Rationalisation: if this lasts for six months and does an excellent job of cleaning yer gob, then that’s only €13 a month on make-up removal. Is that good value? It may be, if you also feel like this fulfills the remit of a toner. Then that’s two products for the price of one. Right? Right?!?


Sisley is available at Brown Thomas.