I Used It All Up: Julien Farel Vitamin Restore

I finally used up the last of this lil’ beaut: Julien Farel Vitamin Restore. It’s the first low shampoo I ever tried, and liking it so much I hoarded it for-basically-ever. It’s got hyaluronic acid in, as well as echinacea stem cells, and vitamins B, C and E, and triples as a cleanse, treat and condition formula.

Everything about it is neutral in the best sense: zero fragrance, no lather, and yet its effect is shiny, healthy, bouncy hair.

I wondered: exactly how many years has this been perched on the lip of the tub, waiting for an outing? How long had I kept in reserves for those days when I wanted a guaranteed Good Hair Day™ or I was simply not arsed to do the whole shampoo/shampoo/condition thang?

I thought about doing a search on my hard drive and went: Nah. Cannot be arsed to do that, either.

I did want to find more of it, so I googled it, and lo and behold. It is alive! My past self was there all this time, hidden in The Herald website, which deigned not to give me credit, but does at least still keep a record of my tried and tested days.

Upshot: I hoarded this stuff for three years. Is that nothing or is that mad? I am not that impressed, tbqh. Maybe next time I’ll do better.

(Just fell down the Julien Farel rabbit-hole: a haircut with the man himself is $1000. FYI.) (Buying this internationally may be a ‘no’; I think I’ll pick some up in NYC at Christmas.)


As regards the rest of that link: I quickly fell out of love with the Dermalogica‘s Ultimate Buffing Cloth. The length got on my nerves. I fondly recall both the Vaseline Spray and Go Body Moisturiser and Garnier‘s BB Cream + Blur — might be time for a run to the chemists…


Platitudinous Truisms {Even So…}

I begin this post by copping, absolutely, to the fact that I have been really fortunate to work my way into my beauty duties. I’m grateful for all the stuff I’ve had a chance to try, and all the procedures and treatments I’ve been lucky enough to avail of, for review. And despite all that, I still can be lax about self-care.

Self-care, as a term, makes my cringe a bit: a hackneyed catch-all covering everything from footbaths to talk therapy. I am fairly positive I’ve pitched and written more than one feature story in more than one newspaper or magazine, under this very umbrella. The reason I’m not one hundred per cent positive is that they all tend to blur after a while, and whilst suggesting that someone nip off to a spa to pamper herself is, at its core, reasonable advice, the notion of cost + time adding up to something manageable — well, it often isn’t.

We don’t really know what we’re walking around with, what we’re holding in our muscles and tissues, because we get used to it so quickly. And we get used to it so quickly because we have to. We have to get on, we have to keep going, we have to manage all the aspects of our lives, keeping all the plates spinning.

And then we read an article exhorting us to take care of ourselves, and it’s easy to come over all cynical and roll our eyes. So, despite my own eye-rolling even as I write this — jayz, we really need to mind ourselves!

It’s hard to do! Even organising a home spa day for oneself may require the kicking-out-of-the-house of many beloved relations, and even then, in the quiet, it’s maybe not so amazing because it is your own house, and your own bath, and you had to clean prior to and will have to clean following your gloriously indulgent scented bath. {I highly recommend this, as ever.}

I suppose you could swap with a pal? Like, clean your own bath, and she cleans hers, and then you go to the other person’s house and she comes to yours… and then if you are lucky enough to have kids, make them clean it? Lucky enough to have kids who would not tell you to go get stuffed?

Or maybe you do set your sights on a weekend in a spa hotel — maybe do a crowdfunding thing? Not, like, for some random weekend in October, but for a birthday. Get the whole family to send you happily on your self-caring way. Maybe?

I think it is worth every penny to be able to have an amazing treatment under professional, luxurious circumstances, but I completely get that it’s not always viable. Hell, I can barely remember to set aside a few quid to get a ten-minute chair massage done — which are generally always great, and as soon as I get one I think, Ah, yeah, must keep this up — and then don’t.

Consistency is an issue, atmosphere is important, and the opportunity to simply lie down and switch off… surrounded by rose petals and scented candles, with fresh fruit kabobs and sparkling water within reach, all the while gazing upon some bucolic view that includes copious amounts of blue sky, or a mountain, or both.

It is true that a change is as good as a rest, and a change that involves rest has to be off the self-care scale. It’s also irritating and frustrating when you want to do something, and you find yourself constrained.

One small thing a day, though… like, going to visit the cygnets in Stephen’s Green. Now, that just happened, I didn’t even know why there were all those people clustered around the side of the pond furthest from me, and then I saw the little grey furries swimming around with their mum and dad. Ah! It was such a pleasure, and so delightful to be with everyone else who thought they were great, and the kids who just couldn’t even believe what they were looking at. I suppose there are all manner of ways to restore oneself, and nature is as good as a facial.






Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Voya Lazy Days

Wish I had one of these on me right now. Still the best, most relaxing bath I have ever enjoyed. This is Sweet Sixteen Minus Six, number 6.


I have always loved seaweed products. I used a powdered version for the bath {Seavite? I think so} that really required a strong drive to use, as it made a complete and utter mess of the bath after it was done. I mean, like, total ring-around-the-tub mess, and talk about a buzzkill, having to clean it up almost immediately after having sent all your tension down the drain. [Or else you have an argument with your live-in-fella-at-the-time because you let the mess go for a day or two, also a buzzkill.]

VOYA Lazy Days Seaweed BathI wasn’t sure about this when I got the box. I mean, it’s a box. How’s seaweed supposed to fit in a box? I knew the Voya line very well, and have even had their seaweed baths, based in Strandhill, Co Sligo, on my to-do list almost since I moved to Ireland. I knew that the entire product line was organic, and that the seaweed itself is harvested by hand. I didn’t know that you could get it freeze-dried into a roughly rectangular bundle.

Well, it is possible. The hunk of seaweed has been helpfully inserted into a mesh bag; there is, in addition, a wee bag of dead sea salt. <I wasn’t sure whether to captilise that or not, but Voya haven’t. Is ‘dead sea salt’ a thing that is separate now from the Dead Sea? Anyway: as instructed, I ran the bath full of hot, hot water and dropped the brick of weed in. I left the room to let it sit — I had to, because almost immediately the pure, salty scent of the seaweed began to waft around the bath. As I didn’t want to lose a layer or two of skin, which I would have done had I immersed myself, I went and did some email.

When I could bear it no longer, I went back and ran the water cold, sprinkled in some salt, and got in. Now, I love a good bath, and I go the full whack, with candles and a glass of wine, or when the circumstances demand, a short glass of Laphroaig, and appropriate musical accompaniment. Even then, I tend to get bored long before the water begins to cool. Not this time: I kept topping up the bath with as much hot water as it could handle without overflowing. I squeezed the now-football shaped net of weed to release even more of the gel that had infused the water. I was in there for almost 45 minutes.

If you take good care of it — I put mine in a large mixing bowl and covered the top with cling film — you can get another bath out of the ball. It’s not as transcendent as the first, but it is still pretty boss.

The re-hydrated bag of seaweed was pretty impressive, and also pretty: it bore no resemblance to the stuff that washes up on a beachy strand, and looked as if each… frond?… had been groomed to reveal its jagged beauty. I felt as relaxed as if I had visited the Strandhill baths themselves. This is a sublime treat for body and mind. Bonus: a cursory swipe of the bath the next morning was as hard as I had to work to clean up. In my book, there is no higher praise.


Voya Lazy Days €16/£15.50/$32


How to be the Best Child in the History of Children: sansanaSPA and Mother’s Day

Even though I am a fancy beauty reviewing lady, I don’t get to go to spas, like, every week. Much less every month! I am a lucky, fancy beauty reviewing lady in that I do get the occasional treatment, and every time I do get one, I’m all I should really {get a facial/a massage/a full-body exfoliation} more often!

And funnily enough, I never do!

After having spent hours in the sansanaSPA in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, my first thought wasn’t about me, for once. I immediately thought of all the mums, and all the daughters looking for gifts for them for Mother’s Day. Ladies — and any gentleman who may be reading — here’s the best thing you could ever give your mum, ever, ever.

I enjoyed a 90 minute Shirodhara treatment just last week, and I’m still sighing.

Because I am a fancy beauty reviewing lady, I have set foot, and body-on-plinth, in many a day spa. This is, hands down, the quietest one I’ve ever been in. Not that it wasn’t busy, because it was — but the soundproofing is sublime, and added to the rest of the solicitous attention I was receiving, the restful silence was the cherry on the ‘I am a special snowflake’ sundae.

I’ve been in treatment rooms that, for the level of noise that never seemed to abate, may as well have been in a lay-by on the M50. I have had my mellow harshed by endless opening and slamming doors, and have been irritated beyond belief by loud talking from the relaxation rooms that has not been adequately shushed by staff. The sansanaSPA staff are assiduous in maintaining the kind of atmosphere you’d expect in a retreat spa in the middle of the country.

So there’s that already, supplying your mum with an atmosphere that is geared to treat her like a queen, and she hasn’t even gotten into her plush robe yet!

Sansana Spa Treatment

I love pictures of treatment rooms. And look at the Thermal Suite!


At the far end of the aisle? That’s a bowl of crushed ice, which you spread upon your body, um… because you are insane? No! Because it’s a thing you do after {before?} the steam or the sauna. Or something. I don’t like cold, so I didn’t go near it.

Use of the the Thermal Suite is included in the session. There are also Experience Showers {!}, a room with floaty-mattress beds upon which to lie, a Mud Room, and my fave: the Heated Marble Beds. Just the perfect temperature, not too-too hot, and not some wimpy lukewaryish excuse for heat, either. These beds — ah! Even as relaxed as I was after the Shirodhara, I went and reclined for another twenty minutes. Well, you can never be too stress-free, can you?


In the background: the marble beds. <3 u, marble beds!

I also enjoyed a 30 minute swim in the Royal Marine’s pool. *Sigh*

Onto the treatment: the name Shirodhara comes from the Sanskrit for ‘head’ and ‘flow’, respectively. Based on the principles of Ayurveda, it involves the pouring of liquids, in this case warmed oil, over the third eye.

Right. I immediately thought of some scary, Homeland-y kind of water torture jawn, and wasn’t sure about this part. The other parts, grand: a rose foot bath, a full body massage, the regular application of eucalyptus-infused hot towels, and a facial cleanse/massage — super, no worries, bring it on.

But the oil-on-forehead thing was all set to freak me out.

It is so not freaky.

It is so… decadent. Sensuous. Relaxing. Indulgent. The warm, scented oil flows and flows, and runs down your crown, nourishing your scalp, and you — me — your mum would ever want it to end.

This is literally a top-to-toe extravaganza of a chill out.

My aesthetician recommended that I leave the oil in overnight, which I did. She had also recommended sleeping with my head wrapped in a towel, which I did not do, which was a poor choice. I’ve ruined that pillow slip, and I’ve tried washing the oil stain out twice. So do what the lady says, is the moral of that story.

Don’t plan anything — I mean, make sure your mum doesn’t have anything on after this, because the bliss, it should be embraced for the rest of the day.

The treatment costs €99, and is worth every single little penny.

And if you’re feeling super-generous, you can get a sibling in on the gig, sharing the Best Child status, and also the cost.

I’ve just sighed again. It really was fantastic. You could even go have a nice tea up in the Hotel beforehand, and then toddle off — I mean, send mum down to the spa.

Okay, I have to stop writing about this now.



The Shirodhara treatment is 90 minutes, at a special introductory offer of €99. Ring 01 271 2563 or email sansanaSPA@royalmarine, for more information.


THAW and Nioxin: Scalps are the New Black

Did you know? Scalps are totally the New Black. I’ve been trying out a whole buncha products that target the roots of the hair, and I must say, The Hair has been, overall, pretty happy about it.

THAWTHAW = Thinning Hair Awareness Week, and Nioxin and the Institute of Trichologists have teamed up to expand our awareness of this issue. Now, okay, you may look at my head and wonder What’s she care? but in this, I am all about prevention — as opposed to my coming very late to the eye cream party, for example. I got my hair from my dad’s side of the family, which is the way it works, I think? While he hasn’t gone  bald, his hair has thinned. Sure it’s a by-product of aging, but if I start now, I could possibly add on another decade of thick, healthy hair.

^^That’s my wishful thinking, anyway. Who knows? In twenty years, Science may have figured out a way to non-invasively recreate the hair we had when we were twenty. Or is that what is more commonly known as a ‘wig’?

Anyway: when I went to get my colour done — no, not done, created — with Andrew at Mane Salon, he was already talking to me about scalps. He recommended that I try Nioxin’s Scalp Renew Dermabrasion Treatment, an in-salon facial for yer head. I was happily given that opportunity last month, and let me tell you, it puts the ‘treat’ into ‘treatment’.

I got did at Wella Professional in D8. Clarie Doyle, the Field Technical Trainer for the studio, took care of me before, during, and after the treatment. CLAIRE IMAGEWith thirteen years of experience in haircare and styling, including long-term gigs with Dylan Bradshaw and Foundations, I couldn’t have been in better hands.

Claire hopes that THAW, as an event, will ‘give people who suffer with thinning hair, or scalp concerns, the confidence to take the steps they need to get help for fragile hair and problem scalps. Many solutions currently on the market are either drug-based, or look to camouflage the issue. Nioxin aims to take a skin-care inspired approach to create thicker, fuller looking hair.’

I had been given a sample of the 3 Part System. ‘The Cleanser removes follicle- clogging sebum and residues from the scalp and hair,’ Claire explains. ‘The Scalp Revitaliser is a lightweight conditioner that provides resilience and controls moisture balance, and the Scalp treatment, which contains antioxidants to provide a refreshed scalp environment,’

The last is a spray, and I was certain that it was going to weigh down my hair — after all, that’s where my hair gets greasiest, right? I duly tried it out, and found it to be only okay. Then I got my scalp dermabrased my Claire, and everything changed.

The treatment is applied by your salon professional: it feels cool on your head, but if you hold your hand close to it, it feels warm. Weird! Claire massaged it in, and left it for about ten, fifteen minutes. I got rinsed and shampooed, and blow dried, and honestly, my hair has never looked healthier — and my scalp has probably not been in such a pristine state since the day I was born.

In the following days, I went back to the 3 Part System, and the difference was noticeable in the extreme, soft-focus iPhonage notwithstanding.


That’s with nothing but the scalp spray — no styling oil or gel or mousse or anything. As well as sprucing up my cranial skin, the treatment also gave my hair colour a new lease of life.

I am very conscious of my scalp, now, which is the point, and I’m hoping to feel the good effects of this for as long as I can. It’s been about a month now, at least, and I would dearly love to get another blast of dermabrasion sooner rather than later.


Nioxin 3 Part System kits have an RRP of €33.99.

See nioxin.co.uk for stockists.


There’s an excellent online diagnostic here — figure out which one of the six systems suits you.


When Worlds Collide: Mane ‘n Tail Hoofmaker Hand & Nail Therapy

Ah, lads. Seriously? All this package is lacking is my name on it.

MANE N TAIL hoofmakerHave I not got manky nails? Have I not got a love of horses, and horseriding, and all things horsey in general? < Except for the DNA thing about the burgers?

Have I also not got a lazy streak a mile wide that means even when I find a miracle fingernail cure the like of Dr Lewinn’s, and even though I keep it right there next to my computer, I still manage to forget to use it? Is there any way in the world to keep me using something that is good for me?

Yup — just slap a picture of a horse on it.

I don’t remember how The Original Mane ‘n Tail Shampoo & Conditioner got back on my radar. I used to it to good effect many years ago when I was still living in the States, following an ill-advised bob. The hairstyle just didn’t suit me, and I was keen {desperate} to get my long hair back. This was before my conversion to all things equine, and whilst I certainly wasn’t responding back then to the picture of the horses on the containers, I snapped up it up anyway — it said it was going to grow my hair back.

Actually, it didn’t promise that, but nevertheless! My hair grew back really quickly, and with body. And shine! And I remember thinking, My scalp feels really healthy.

Ah! Now I know why this brand came to mind: Scalps are the New Black. Products targeted for scalp health are on the ascendant — and next week I’ll be talking about the fantastic Nioxin Scalp Renew Dermabrasion Treatment — so some little connection in my neural map referring to The Hair must have snapped a synapse or something.

I got some S&C samples to review, and, long story long, the Hoofmaker was included, too.

What happened was, this was originally developed to treat cracked hoofs, but the horse owners noticed that their own hands were improving from the use of it. Here are the bullet points:

> Moisturizes dry and cracked nails
> Protects against nail damage
> Maintains strong and flexible nails
> Softens and conditions callused, rough areas
> Restores vial nutrients

The last one is not an issue for me, which is why I never bother with hand creams that say they help your nails too. My hands are vitally nutriented, and never get dry. But my feet! My manky feet! I can use this on my own hooves!

I’m gonna be Mane ‘n Tail from head to toe!


The Original Mane ‘n Tail Hoofmaker has an RRP of €7.95/£7.99/$2.99


Other pony mad people make like to visit here.


Watchoo Lookin’ At? Post-Sisley Facial Face on the 46A

Just evidence that I do ‘naked’ face too, sometimes. Especially after I’ve had a treatment.

Dude to the left was like WTF and I was all WTF right back.

And the lovely Gabriella from Sisley, who administered an amazing facial in the Beauty Rooms in Brown Thomas, was subtly WTF when I said no thanks to a bitta make up post-treatment.

I like to let the pores breathe, you know?

Did you know about the Beauty Rooms in Brown Thomas? I didn’t! They are tucked away on the ground floor, right off the main beauty hall, and the major brands offer treatments on a rotating basis. The facial is €50 against product, so if you don’t want to buy anything, you just stump up the nifty.

Now, day spa environments are generally noisy, and whilst tucked away from the buzz of BT, you’re not all that tucked. There is soothing spa tunes playing in the room, but you can absolutely hear what’s going on in the outside world. This did not bother me, which is amazing because it is exactly the sort of thing I would complain about. There was something about hearing all that activity beyond the beauty room door that I found thrilling, in a cinematic way. It was the urban soundtrack to my fancy facial.

And Sisley is fancy! The French brand uses botanical active ingredients and essential oils in its concoctions — I must admit to having an unfortunate olfactory reaction to a tinted moisturiser I had to test last year. I actually brought it to the counter because I’d thought it had gone off.

No such worries with any of the myriad products that Gabriella used in my facial. She used twelve products, from cleanser to pore minimiser, and since it was the end of the day, she also gave me a layer of Supremÿa At Night, which felt like an instant face lift, and ought to as it retails for €508.

If anyone has used this over a course of time, do get in touch and let us know if it was worth it?

The highlight of the treatment was the exfoliation with the Creme Gommante, priced at a less breathtaking €54. Gently, gently, Gabriella applied the buffing cream, and gently, gently, did she brush it off. We talked about it afterwards, as I wondered how did one try this at home? By trial and error, basically. It’s going to be messy until you get the hang of it. I appreciated her frankness.

I got a bunch of samples:

Including two of the scorned foundation, which I am actually gasping to try now.

The women of Sisley in BTs are lovely, go along and ask some questions, and tell them Sue sent you. You may not have the dosh to invest in that night cream, but it’s always worth checking out a few samples of things. And the holidays are imminent…!


Check at the Sisley counter for upcoming Beauty Room appointments.

Loving the Lovingly Light Foam from Percy & Reed

Yes! It has been ages since we’ve had an update from the back of the 46A bus.

I got a lovely haircut in Hair Creations in Blackrock Shopping Centre. Ask for Anna, espesh if you have long hair and are sick of arguing with stylists about how they want to cut it all off. Okay, bit of an exadge, but you know what? I take good care of The Hair, and sure, the ends get raggedy, but the heart of it is perfectly healthy, so no, you don’t have to go chop-chop-chop. Anna didn’t even suggest it, and I kept my length — just new, improved, and tidy.

Also: I got Percy & Reed Lovingly Light Foaming Treatment Mask, and it is … does ‘miraculous’ sound implausible? Hyperbolic? There’s only so much I can do, in the back of the 46A bus, to demonstrate this, but I stand behind the following statements. When I use this:

>My hair is really, really — really soft.
>Is so shiny.
>I get astonishingly excellent second day hair.
>My highlights? Higlighty-er! Seriously: massive boost to reflective quality.

What is it like to use? Well, here’s the thing. The directions say to get a wide-toothed comb, dispense some product into your palm, and then draw the comb through the product and onto your hair.

I stand behind these statements as well:
>Working the canister is fiddly. The dispenser is somewhere in between being too sensitive and not sensitive enough, so you’ll have a bit of a learning curve figuring out how much pressure to exert.
>It’s mousse, basically, and fizzles out faster than you’d like, when you’re trying to get it onto the comb.
>I don’t know about your hair, but my hair is like a tangle of vicious weeds after I wash it. Combing in the product is not a goer. I lost a lot down the drain…

…Until I devised my foolproof method: I combed out my hair, and then put this foam in, directly, not via any auld wide-toothed comb.

Leave it in, 3 to 5 minutes, whatever that means, or until washing it out is the last thing you do before you turn the water off.

I stand by ‘miraculous’, even though I had to adapt the application process. Maybe even because I had to, since it worked terrifically anyway. I am being miserly with this, as it’s a guranteed good hair day in a pressurised container.


£20 via johnlewis.com; anyone with euro information, please advise.

Colourful Claws: The Wild, as Seen in the Wild


I am so delighted with the health of my nails, thanks to Dr Lewinn’s Nail Strengthener and despite Auld Schplitty. They have never looked better, and perhaps, I will now learn enough patience so that I don’t do such a sloppy job as regards the application of  nail varnish.

I like this LA Splash glitter nail lacquer. It feels very sturdy on the nails, but it certainly does not look that way! It is totally disco, in the best possible sense.

I so want this in black.

I must say, though, as dreading the removal of this — when I was taking off the other colours, this remained disturbingly unmoved by my present nail polish remover. We’ll see how we get on…


LA Splash Nail Lacquer is €5.99, and available online only: http://www.creativestudio.ie.

Dr Lewinn’s Renunail Update: Magic Isn’t Magic

But results can be magical.

‘Kay, here’s the thing: even though I’ve got the bottles of Nail Strengthener and Nourishing Oil right there, on my desk, to the left of my computer, I got a little lazy with my Dr Lewinn regimen.

Frankly, once you pile them on, the layers of Strengthener start to look pretty cruddy. I’m also having another healing crisis on my right hand: the cuticles look like I’ve got some sort rare skin disease that I contracted in the depths of the primeval forest.

So, counter-intuitively, I stop using the product. I know! Where is the sense in that?

See the thing is, magic isn’t magic. You can’t just wave a wand — or a brush — and say a magic word {me, I’d be partial to avada kedavra for my loathsome cuticles} and then it all goes away. Sad to say, this is news to me.

Only joking. Sort of. My fingernails need to be tended, and they are so terribly manky that I need to keep this up, or keep them cut down to the very nub.

But even though magic isn’t magic, the results I’ve gotten from this regimen are magical. Once I started over, the whites on the tips of my nails got brighter and cleaner, they were once again strong enough to file, and even though it’s going to take as much time as it takes, that nail that split is slowly growing out — but with a difference. It’s growing out with the support of the Strengthener.

This is a life long project, if you will. I spend a lot of time contemplating my fingers, as I sit here, hands at rest on the keyboard, wondering what I’m going to write next. If nothing else, I can’t bear them to be all gross and splitty and peeling, for my own peace of mind. And I really cannot wait to paint them up nice — so I won’t! Grotty cuticles notwithstanding!

My bank holiday project will be to give myself an amazing manicure.

I know, my life, it is much excite.


Ha ha ha – google Dr Lewinn’s Nail, and my fingers are the top images! I’m faaaaamous!