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?!?


Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Elemis Frangipani Monoi Moisture Melt

The criteria for choosing the ten out of sixteen all-time faves was: do I wish I had it on me, right this second, away from home? Number 5 fits that guideline like a glove — a deliciously fragrant and indulgent and luxurious glove…


Here is my recipe for the perfect home-spa experience: Elemis Frangipani Monoi Moisture Melt.

That’s it. That’s all you need.

I’m delighted to be able to make this recommendation in typed-out words, because confidence in my articulation abilities takes a terrible dip when I try to speak the word ‘frangipani’; ‘monoi’ is not so bad, but following hard on the heels of the preceding fail, it just makes the whole situation worse that it needs to be.

mmm elemis{I say fraangeepannee, as opposed to the more American way, which because of the longer, fancy ‘a’ sounds, would be frahhhhngeepahhhhhnee. Both sound equally awkward to me, in my actual voice.}

Linguistics aside, this stuff is the stuff of dreams. Fill your bathroom sink with hot water. Set the bottle — the lovely smoked glass bottle — in the water so that the solid material within softens into a luscious oil. Run a bath. You could even run the bath and meltify the Melt in the tub! Whatever: at some stage, shake in a few {million} drops. Enter; recline; relax.

Dunk your head under the water, then proceed to shake a few {million} drops of the Fraheheheheh on your head. Massage into your scalp. Sigh with pleasure.

Language, and pronunciation therefore, will cease to be an issue.

Get out of the bath before you, yourself melt. Shake the previously recommended number of drops of oil on your wet skin, massage. Pat yourself dry with a towel. Maybe rinse your hair out if you’re going out that evening — although why you would is utterly beyond my comprehension. You’ve just given yourself an amazingly self-nurturing treat! Stay home! Put your feet up! Get someone to make you your tea!

The only caution I have is that I’ve heard from pals who are as in the know as I, that the Fraheheheheh yokie can tend to discolour white toweling robes. Not that you’re not going to wrap yourself up in one regardless, but know that you may have to give it a spin in the washing machine sometime after your Melt event. Or you may close your eyes to this, because your robe is going to smell gorgeous — almost as gorgeous as you do.




Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Yes to Carrots Exfoliating and Soothing Mud Mask

Number 8 is a classic for all the right reasons: it is a mud that gets your face just the correct degree of squinchy, and yet it doesn’t get all cake-y and gross. Sadly Princess Marcella Borghese did not take the hint re: her Fango, so whateverrrrr, Your Highness!


I can be a real snob when it comes to product. Growing up, I read too many magazines, and started to get a bit sniffy about cheapy cosmetics at an early age.

I couldn’t afford to be as posh as I wanted, but it didn’t stop me from dropping some serious dough whilst in art college: I had found a special something at a fancy Manhattan shop, on the Upper East Side {which is saying something, since I went to Pratt in Brooklyn} and — holy cow! early onset is pre-empted as I just remembered the name of it. I was struggling to remember what it was called and I couldn’t bring it up for the life of me until I started writing. The special something was a mud mask by Princess Marchella Borghese, who is still around. I would welcome any samples of her Fango: Active Mud for Face & Body for a future review, just to see if it is still as good as I remember it to be. The container was similar to what it is now, a luxuriously heavy glass jar; the mud was scented to just the correct degree, and it was my first experience of true self-care indulgence.

Whoops, down the rabbit hole! The point of the above was that having been exposed to a serious mud mask, anything else wouldn’t do. I like to keep an open mind, and have found several non-muddy masks to be effective, but to me, there is nothing like having my face squinched. I am sure there are anti-ageing arguments against this experience, but feck ‘em. I love a good squinch {TWSS} and in these modern times, I have found something that satisfies this need entirely.

yes-to-carrots-c-the-difference-exfoliating-and-soothing-mud-maskThe Yes To line has branched out to include Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Blueberries, but to me, Carrots will always be the cornerstone of the brand. These all-natural, crap-free products care for every part of you, and in general, they work as well as crap-laden products — and come on, let’s be honest, in general, most natural products simply don’t work. The cleansers don’t cleanse, the moisturisers don’t moisturise, or else they require so much more product to effect change that it’s not cost effective.

Or maybe our standards have become too laden with crap, and they work just fine, and we have only to adjust our expectations.

Expectations need not be adjusted when it comes to YTC’s C the Difference: Exfoliating and Soothing Mud Mask. It’s made from Dead Sea mud, and it’s rich and thick, yet applies smoothly — it’s not like you’ll be trowelling this on. Fragrance-wise, it is pleasant without being too perfume-y, and in this regard is one up on the Borghese, as far as memory serves < and it serves pretty darn well, considering. I tend to leave it on for way longer than the 5 minutes prescribed, but that’s me, the squinch-lovin’ beauty blogger, so take that with a pinch of Dead Sea salt.

Ooh, I’d love a dose of this right about now: I’ve just woken up and my face feels like it’s flaking off. The post-mask Carrots skin feels shiny and clean and new, and I’d love that right now. I’d also love to run around the house scaring my nephews with my crazy mud face. Ah, well, there’s always next time.




Make Your Own Bath Ballistic

How much fun does this look like???

My answer: LOTS.

As a life-long fan of Lush Bath Ballistics, I am delighted to announce the some of the brand’s crack compounders, are comin’ to town to help you craft you own wee fizzy bath thing. In the olde dayes, we used to call them ‘bombs’ but I think for humanitarian reasons, they changed the name — this is nothing less than you’d expect from the all-natural brand.

You have three choices:

Blackberry Bath Bomb to lift you up with bergamot and frankincense; Think Pink with reassuring tonka and vanilla; and Space Girl, an intergalactic, glittery bath ballistic scented with grapefruit and bergamot oil and filled with popping candy that is truly out of this world.

I am definitely going to make the Blackberry one. Oh, but, I love vanilla, so Think Pink, maybe? Clearly, Space Girl suits me down to the ground…

The compounders are in residence at the Henry Street shop from 1 to 5 pm this Saturday, 5 May, and in the Grafton Street premises on Sunday, 6 May. That’s this weekend, bath enthusiasts! It is free to do this thing, to learn how to make your own ballistic and then take it home! Don’t miss out!

For more info and to book, ring the Henry Street shop on 01 873 5735 or the Grafton Street Shop on 01 677 0392.

♥Day: If I Was Your Pal, I Would Be Quite Happy to Receive This Gift Set

Okay, so The Handmade Soap Co.‘s Valentine’s Offering is labelled ‘A Box of Sensual Delights’, so you could argue that this is skewed to a partner-type creature, but I like the idea that my friends think:

A} That I would have use for a box of sensual delights

B} That, you know, they think I’m pretty or whatever.

Don’t we want our friends to think and want the best for us? This gift is a total vote of confidence! And it’ll get you sorted entirely as it contains Body Butter, Body Oil {for massaging or putting in the bath — or for putting in the bath and then also using for a massage}, Grapefruit scented soap and a candle, which is made of Soya and all-natural.

Bonus! The company is guaranteed Irish. Apparently, the hand cream is a cult object, but I haven’t come across any so far…


See www.thehandmadesoapcompany.iefor more info, and to enjoy their fab site.