MAKE UP FOREVER? HELL YEAH!

Towards the end of last year, multi-award-winning Irish artist Paddy McGurgan celebrated being awarded the UK franchise of iconic French make up brand MAKE UP FOREVER. I was so personally pleased for Paddy, because quite a few years ago, just before he started his Belfast make up studio and retail adventure, I travelled to Paris with him to meet with the MAKE UP FOREVER people at their amazing HQ in the centre of Paris. I was both his translator and guide as well as just a buddy on a #roadtrip and we had some nice times there.  Paddy has come a long way since – with many accolades under his belt as well as, I’m sure, volumes of stories from his make up journey. Having just worked with Paddy again last week under Charlotte Tilbury for Max Mara and again next week as Paddy’s team joins us backstage at FASHIONWEEK for KARAJA, I am delighted to be collaborating with such a talented guy.

But for now, back to the launch, where I was invited into the MAKE UP PRO store to have my make up done with a selection of the MAKE UP FOREVER products, and I finally made it in at the beginning of February, when I had my make up done for a magazine and blog shoot in my office.

Here’s the scoop:

Any good make up artist worth his or her salt will always start with a primer, and Ellen (Belfast - Head Artist at Make Up Pro Store)  gave me THREE!. She kicked off with a Smoothing Primer by MAKE UP FOREVER (£25.50) which can be applied with your fingers but she used Make up Pro Store Duo Fibre Brush No.1 (£15.00) because it optimises the product application and helps to smooth out any open pores, taking away fine lines, and giving the wearer a smooth base. Then Ellen applied Base Eclat by MAKE UP ATELIER (£22.50), which is an amazing product applied under foundation to give a kind of a glow from within; this is ideal for anyone who finds their skin dry and dull and would like to inject some dew and life back into their skin again, without the designer price tag.  Next up was the MAKE UP ATELIER HD Airbrush Blush in the shade Naked (£14.00). It is a more intense primer to what the Base Eclat is, so they are more or less the same but really brighten up certain areas such as the top of the cheekbones giving them a radiant shine. So finally, after 3 layers of primer (am I really that bad?!!) she went in with the MAKE UP FOREVER Lift Concealer in the shade Number One (£19.95)  which is amazing for brightening underneath the eyes. It lifts and brightens underneath, and is especially good for anyone who is conscious of fine lines or wrinkles under the eye , as it is a lightweight liquid product so does not sit any fine lines or porous areas.

The foundation used was natural beige MAKE UP STUDIO in Face it Light (£24.50) which gives a really full coverage, especially if you want something nice and soft. Then the MAKE UP STUDIO Contour Palette (£37.50)  gave some shape before the powders.

To set the make up underneath the eyes, Ellen used the super matte loose powder by MAKE UP FOREVER powder(£32.50)  because even though we were going for a dewy look, we still needed to make sure that under the eyes don’t crease. This was applied by using a large powder brush and pressing the loose powder to set the foundation, then, very lightly, using the top of the brush buff the powder onto the skin in light circular motions, so to allow the skin to appear flawless.  

For the smoky eye effect  Ellen  started with a transition colour MAKE UP FOREVER Eyeshadow Refill M-720 Apricot £14.50)  just to find out where she wanted to go with my shape. The transition colour is what takes the eye from my natural skin colour into heavier, smokier lid. It’s the base colour; and the colours recommended to me for my eye colour and for the occasion (a blog shoot at my office) were warm brown or cream eyeshadow colours. Then, some dark brown or black was added to the base of the lid to give it that real smoky effect, blending upwards with medium browns, to finally the lighter colours on the lid.  It takes a lot of blending and careful wrist twisting to get the look just right – I was on the make up seat for a good hour on this occasion (she was definitely perfecting her look!!) When I asked Ellen what brushes she recommended or that she used on me, she said her go-to brushes had to be a mixture of Zoeva Eyeshadow Set £75.00 and a few Make up Pro Store No.19 brush (£11.50)  

Finally, for the nude lip, we went with a dark lip liner, MAKE UP FOREVER Aqua Lip Liner in shade 5C (£18.50) which I loved. This is a real handbag must-have as it is waterproof, lasts longer and can withstand an all day wear!  I usually wear dark brown or a dark pink (Oak OR Stone by MAC are among my faves) and follow it up with a nice light gloss. The gloss we used on this occasion was the MAKE UP FOREVER Plexi Gloss (£19.50) because it’s got really strong pigmentation which makes the nude stand out.

SPRING INTO SPA AT HASTINGS

There’s little haste at Hastings Culloden Spa – and rightly so, it was a total den of zen for me recently as I tried out their new Spring Spa Experience which has been carefully tailored to ease the face and body out of “hibernation” and refresh and revive skin in preparation for summer.

The package, which is also available at Hastings Slieve Donard Spa in Newcastle, includes a grapefruit and cypress ESPA full body scrub using salt and oil, followed by a revitalising ESPA facial, plus an uplifting scalp massage as well as full use of the spa facilities and a light lunch served in the Zest Juice Bar. The total treatment lasts 1 hour 20 minutes and costs £105 or £135 on Saturdays and Sundays. I was super self-indulgent and upgraded my experience to include a full body massage – and boy was it worth it! I almost floated out of the spa and had the most relaxing, deep sleep that night as well as fresh skin the next morning.

Here’s my step by step:

The treatment begins with ESPA’s ‘detoxifing salt scrub’, a stimulating ritual for renewed radiance.  Its refining natural sea salt and oils gently sweeps away dull cells while invigorating grapefruit, cypress and eucalyptus stimulate circulation and help eliminate toxins.

This is the exfoliation of the ancients and it’s the least pleasant part of the treatment, truth be told, but probably the most beneficial, as it removes dead skin cells and really pumps blood to the surface of the skin, boosting circulation and overall bloodflow to give super powered skin texture and tone.

Detoxifying salt scrub- £37

Detoxifying salt scrub- £37

After a refreshing shower to wash away the salt scrub (this is a DIY bit by the way!) Ilay back down for a revitalising ESPA facial using the ESPA skincare range, and mytherapist tailored my facial to my own skin’s needs.  My therapist Nicole used the following ESPA products on my skin during my facial:

While my facemask melted into the skin and worked its magic, I had an uplifting oriental scalp massage using the award-winning ‘pink hair and scalp mud’ containing apricot kernel oil and red clay to nourish, strengthen and promote healthy, manageable hair.

Pink hair and scalp mud £33

Pink hair and scalp mud £33

Then I upgraded my treatment to include a luxurious full body massage using ESPA aromatherapy body oils to either sooth the mind and body.

ESPA aromatherapy body oil- £33

ESPA aromatherapy body oil- £33

To recap: the Spring Awakening Experience includes:

– Grapefruit and Cypress ESPA Full Body Scrub

– Revitalising ESPA Facial

– Uplifting Scalp Massage

– Plus use of robe, slippers and towels, a delicious light lunch in the Juice Bar and full use of the Spa facilities (pool, sauna, jacuzzi)

Total Treatment duration 1 hour 20 minutes

Spa at Culloden..................... £105 Monday–Friday

Spa at Slieve Donard.......... £115 Monday–Friday

Oh, Go On... Spoil Yourself!

Upgrade to include a Full Body Massage (an extra 55 minutes) for only £70 more

OR

Upgrade to include a Back Massage (an extra 25 minutes) for only £35 more

OR

Extend the luxury with an overnight stay...

B&B from £105 pps at Culloden Estate and Spa

B&B from £75 pps at Slieve Donard Resort and Spa

£30 supplement applies for Saturdays & Sundays at both Spas.

For Reservations

The Spa at Culloden on 028 9042 1135

The Spa at Slieve Donard on 028 4372 6166

hastingshotels.com

hastingshotels.com/spa

FACE | Biotulin versus Botox

I had Botox in 2009 and then again in 2012 after having Valentina (one of my friends gifted it to me as a baby shower present, can you believe that!?) but when that wore off I took a break for a while (because I got an age-defying/wrinkle-hiding fringe cut into my hair) until late last year when I decided I needed a little help to hide the fine wrinkles I had developed on my forehead… Not that there were many to be fair, I am so very thankfully blessed with my mum’s good skin genes, but my age was starting to show a wee bit having recently joined the fab forties; and I wholeheartedly admit that I wanted to keep the battered leather handbag effect at bay until at least 80.

That little blast of Botox has worn off now, (typically the effects last for 3-4 months), so I am pondering going again, but I am afraid of becoming reliant on it or liking it so much I can’t do without it. Is that wrong? Or is that silly? Of course the opposite of the aforementioned old leather handbag face effect is the Bride of Lichtenstein effect - and no one wants to look that overdone. I mean, what did she NOT have for crying out loud?!  So my theory is that when making Botox your  stop clock (or face freezer) of choice, make sure to choose an honest, well qualified practitioner who will not allow you to get overdone and who will responsibly look after your needs.

I highly recommend two practitioners who both come from a medical background - namely Martina Collins on the Lisburn Road in Belfast & the Rejuvenate mobile clinic by Dr McNally who works out of several clinics across NI. Martina has been featured on this blog before with all of her amazing superfacials and wünder treatments that I have trialled and reviewed, (you can find her via www.martinacollins.com) and as a dentist, she knows and understands the anatomy of the face inside out. Literally. When it comes to Botox and fillers, she is known for conservative and careful changes which don’t veer too dramatically from the natural ‘you’. Dr McNally’s website is at www.rejuvenateni.com and has loads of relevant information on all available products and treatments as well as a list of all host clinics across NI. New clients can also call 07701062597 if they prefer to book by phone.

The science behind Botox is that it is a natural, purified protein which reduces the activity of the muscles which cause lines to form over time.  It works by temporarily reducing the contractions of these muscles which cause permanent lines, thereby creating a smoother, rejuvenated appearance. Anti-wrinkle injections are mainly used for the face; most commonly in the forehead, the "11” lines between the eyebrows and the crows’ feet around the eyes. Botox is also offered for treating Hyperhidrosis (excess sweatingof the underarms.) 

Prices for Botox vary depending on practitioners, but small areas can be treated from as little as £120. Some points to note regarding pricing (at most clinics):

  • Both sides of eyes are counted as one area.
  • Forehead is one area
  • Between eye brows is 1 area

And you can have as many or as few areas as you like treated in one session.

For both Martina and Dr McNally, the treatments are carried out in a clinical environment with pre-testing and full consultations plus consent as pre-requisite.

In summary, I would say to go for it if you feel you need a lift. I personally don’t know of any horror stories, but I know there are some out there, and that’s why choosing an expert is key. It is pretty non-invasive as a treatment and the results are anything from good to great - but I think it is important to take a good look at your own face before your consultation and understand what you (think you) want. A good facial doctor will advise and suggest the correct bespoke treatment for you.

If you’re scared on needles, don’t stop reading(!) - this week I started trialling Biotulin - a fantastic bio-organic alternative to injectable Botox  - and the results have been great. It’s no wonder that often-photographed faces including Kate Middleton (I can’t get used to calling her Princess Catherine!) and Michelle Obama are fans. In fact, according to one Hollywood story, it was Kate Middleton who introduced the outgoing FLOTUS to the handy alternative to Botox.

In an interview with Celebrities Style Magazine, Carl Ray, make-up artist to Michelle Obama, revealed that she uses a bio Botox gel to combat wrinkles saying: “….On the recommendation of Kate Middleton, the First Lady uses this bio Botox gel on a regular basis. The effect is unbelievable. One of the constituents of this gel is Spilanthol, a biological local anesthetic extracted from the plant Acmella Oleracea (paracress). Biotulin, as this gel is called, smooths out wrinkles within just one hour.”  

So what exactly is Biotulin? Biotulin is a transparent gel. It smooths out wrinkles – the first results can be seen within just one hour. The result produced by the active ingredient Biotulin® is comparable to that achieved using Botox, yet it is much easier to use as it is applied directly onto the skin instead of being injected. It is available to buy online and costs €49.99 without the special roller and €59.99 with it…  I found this was great for a quick fix, but the effects don’t last more than an eight hour day or an evening out, you have to reapply to get the results each time. And that’s no bad thing, in fact it’s the perfect pre-going-out pick me up ever!

FACE | CLARINS CALLING

This month French beauty house Clarins brings out its limited edition Contouring Perfection Palette (£36) which comes with a specially shaped curve brush to give the ultimate contour to faces, whatever their shape.  This first contouring palette for the beauty giants will help to create flattering angles which will enhance features for a complexion that is luminous with defined contours and sculpted cheekbones.

The sleekly designed gold box contains three shades perfectly tailored to suit all skin tones. The formula is enriched with plant extracts to nourish the skin, whilst Clarins exclusive Anti-Pollution Complex protects from external aggressors.

Demo’s and trials are available on-counter at Clarins counters nationwide, but, in short, the way to achieve contouring perfection in three easy steps is, I’m told,  by using the matte beige to highlight and illuminate, bronze to add depth and contour and rose to add a pop of colour. And not a Kardashian face in sight.  Simple!

The full downlow is that the highlighting shade creates volume, brightens areas to be highlighted and illuminates the face. This shade should be applied to the arch of the eyebrow, under the eyes, and as a light touch on the upper and lower lip. The contouring shade allows you to hollow, sculpt and reshape your face through an optical effect. It is applied evenly to the forehead, moving down over the temples, beneath the cheekbones, the jawline, along the bridge of the nose and on the chin. The blush shade adds a healthy glow as a finishing touch to the apples of the cheeks. The palette includes a beautifully curved make-up brush which will hug facial contours - and allow for easy application too. Boom!

Also new from Clarins is the Instant Eye Reviver, Multi-Active Eye (15ml, £35 - available from February 2017). This fab new eye care product is inspired by the latest technological advances in plant power, and is aimed at  counteracting the effects of a stressful lifestyle. Late nights, trouble sleeping, hectic days… You know the drill. The ‘science bit’ of it can be explained by understanding that a hectic lifestyle and lack of sleep can lead to an overproduction of free radicals which attack and wear down the fibroblast, the cell responsible for a youthful eye contour, as well as damaging blood capillaries. When a fibroblast becomes worn out, it no longer plays its part in maintaining the skin’s youthfulness, leading to fine lines and a loss of radiance whilst damage to the blood capillaries can make them become more porous, leading to excessive leakage of blood pigments, causing visible damage to the eye contour (that’s when we say hola! to dark circles and puffiness).

The eye contour area is 3-5 times finer than the rest of the face, meaning that it is usually the first to show visible signs of ageing.  Clarins research has shown that the main concern of women in their 30’s & 40s, when it comes to their face, is the eye area, so the refreshing cream-gel texture infused with illuminating pigments, will even out and optically blur the look of fine lines to give an immediate smoothing effect. The cryo-metal tip instantly lightens and brightens the eye area, but users are advised to utilise the pads of the fingers first, applying the cream-gel, pressing lightly for a draining effect from the inner to the outer corner of the eye. Then the cryo-metal tip should be applied in the same way to provide a cooling, de-puffing effect, pressing lightly from the inner to the outer corner of the eye.

At the heart of this product lies teasel extract which is used in two innovative ways. Beneath its prickly exterior, teasel extract helps to revitalise and protect tired, stressed skin by encouraging the production of the energising molecule Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP) that helps fight free radicals. And then there’s the encapsulated teasel extract. It’s complex to explain, but Clarins laboratories have used cutting edge technology to develop the Cell Targeting System in which teasel extract is encapsulated for the first time. Once protected from the harmful effects of a stressful lifestyle, the fibroblast is able to stay at full capacity to promote a youthful looking eye area. The encapsulation of the teasel means it directly targets and penetrates the fibroblast where it will release revitalizing teasel, making it 40% more effective in targeting and repairing the fibroblast than if it was not encapsulated.

The fatigue-fighting properties of teasel extract also limit the porosity of blood capillaries helping to fight dark circles and puffiness.

Can I order for life please?!

And just because I spent my late teens and most of my twenties using only Clarins, I thought a little recap from the ‘Multi-Active’ family was timely.

Multi-Active Range Multi-Active Day Cream for All Skin Types

Clarins’ age-defying plant extracts go beyond prevention, helping to visibly correct the appearance of early lines and wrinkles. A perfect formula for neutralising the harmful effects of fatigue, stress, pollution and UV damage — so your skin stays smooth and protected. 50ml jar...£42.00

Multi-Active Day Cream for Dry Skin A rich, moisturising texture, the Multi-Active Day Cream for Dry Skin will nourish and soothe skin whilst fighting the effects of fatigue and stress on the skin. 50ml jar...£42.00

Multi-Active Day Cream SPF20 A silky-smooth cream that will lock in moisture and help to fight the first signs of ageing. Containing SPF 20 skin will stay nourished and protected throughout the day. 50ml jar...£42.00

Multi-Active Lotion SPF15 A light weight lotion to help prevent new wrinkles from forming with SPF 15 protection. A perfect formula for neutralising the harmful effects of fatigue and stress—so your skin stays smooth and protected. 50ml pump bottle...£42.00

Multi-Active Night Cream for Normal to Combination Skin Think of this as eight hours of sleep in a jar. Clarins’ moisture-rich, anti-stress treatment works the nightshift, when skin is most receptive to renewal. Enriched with California Poppy, a flower that closes its petals at night and regenerates itself, you will wake feeling refreshed and revived. 50ml jar...£44.00

Multi-Active Night Cream for Normal to Dry Skin A rich textured cream that works the nightshift, when skin is most receptive to renewal. Enriched with California Poppy, a flower that closes its petals at night and regenerates itself, you will wake feeling refreshed and revived. 50ml jar...£44.00

FACE | INGLOT | Glisten & Gleam

The magic and sparkle of Christmas is most definitely done and dusted, but for many who work during December, their Christmas parties and annual celebrations are just happening now, in January. So it is with those poor souls in mind that I write this week’s Glisten & Gleam blog. (Mind you, I like to think of these guys as lucky souls - I mean, they grab restaurant reservations without waiting lists, get into clubs without queues, and avoid ten-deep masses at the bar for a cocktail…)

Anyway, I digress…. This week I am reviewing the INGLOT ‘The Star in You’ collection, which will send anyone with a Glitter addiction into overdrive. From gilded golds to stunning silvers, this collection is the perfect topping to your party season Glam, even if it is in January. And let’s face it, who wants to give upthe glam anyway, January is just so DULL?!

This collection of treasures boasts 6 brand new shades of AMC Pure Pigment Eyeshadow, 5 brand new shades of Body Sparkles and 4 brand new Nail Enamels.

AMC Pure Pigment Eyeshadow €15

Each Eyeshadow is Dazzlingly Sparkly with super pigmentation and staying power! Use dry to create a subtle wash of sparkle or pair with Inglot’s Duraline €12 for an intense effect.

Body Sparkles €15

Accentuate your eyes with these diamond like sparkles to add the finishing touch to any Glam party look. The Uber sparkly Body Sparkles will be your best friend this dull winter season as you dazzle right through until spring!

Nail Enamel €10

This collection has 4 chrome effect Nail Enamels to complete your look. My fave = the silver one but the pink is super cute too.

Available in INGLOT CastleCourt and Online at www.inglot.ie

FACE | Urban Escape at Belfast Met

New Year, New You? But what if you’ve spent all your money on the Christmas you? And now you’ve nothing left to invest in all the resolutions you made to get your summer body kick started this cold winter?

Well, one thing you can do is cut down on hair and beauty charges by heading along to Urban Escape at Belfast Met – a fully functioning hair and beauty salon which is run by experts and manned by stylists and therapists in training.

It is open every Friday for appointments from 9am-12 midday and the range of treatments serves most beauty purposes – everything from dry flotation tank therapy to massages, waxes, manicures, pedicures and facial treatments as well as a full range of hair treatments and services.

I popped along last month for a fab Dermalogica facial, plus a full body massage AND a blow dry (which turned into a trim) and I loved the treatments and the prices.

I also met some lovely people too – from the older 80-something gentleman who chatted charmingly with me before we both went in for our massages, to my therapists Emma and Georgia plus my hairdresser Michael Keogh who came to Belfast from Dublin a decade ago and hasn’t looked back.

The only downside, if you’re funny like that, is that the beauty therapists work in one large room, with the beauty beds separated by curtains, but this didn’t put me off whatsoever and in fact I heard my older pal chatting away about his joints on another bed nearby – and that brought me a wee smile. The therapists may still be in training but the service I received from Georgia and Emma was amazing – they took direction well when I asked about pressure during massage and later when I (probably very annoyingly) asked Emma what each product was as she worked through the steps of the facial. It’s important to note that most of the staff working on clients here are already out in the beauty industry and not complete rookies going crazy on your skin and hair!

My hairdresser Michael, who works in George salon in Church Lane,  complimented my hair (it is almost as long as Rapunzel’s) but we agreed to chop a bit off to take a few dead ends away. Looking at his photo now I wish he’d actually taken more off – but again, I was very pleased with his work.

All in all I loved the treatments and felt revived and refreshed afterwards. I definitely recommend a trip down – your purse will thank you for it! As will your feet – there is ample car parking underneath the building too.

For further details or to book an appointment contact Sandra on 028 9026 5000 ext. 3299 or email sjohnston@belfastmet.ac.uk 

My product of the week this week is the Skinician Hand Cream:  It’s so important to ensure you protect your hands from the winter elements this season using local product Skinician Luxe Hand Lotion (£15.00 from Skinician.com). The skin on our hands is much thinner than on the rest of our body and therefore much more prone to drying out quickly – particularly when they are regularly exposed at this time of year.  Your hands are also a tell-tale sign of age so be sure to keep yours looking, and feeling, soft and youthful this winter using Skinician’s nourishing combination of soothing Aloe Vera and deeply hydrating Cocoa butter, Shea butter and the ever-reliable Vitamin E.

FACE | LUSH CHRISTMAS GIFTS

Christmas Gifts That Go Down A BOMB!

What is a bath without a bomb?  This week I took a trip into LUSH in Belfast city centre and was BLOWN AWAY by these fantastic bath bombs which make perfect sticking fillers for guys and girls of any age. I mean, how could you not love a LUSH bath bomb?!

Check out these new releases available now…

Never mind the ballistics…  Watch the sunset has you relax in the tub with this red and yellow coloured bath bomb which meshes together to form a beautiful sunset orange colour.  The cocao butter will soften your skin give it that wonderfulsun-kissed glow.

Mistletoes!  You’ll feel like your skin has been kissed when this bath bomb melts in the water - it will give you a truly sensual experience, with its romantic fragrances and deep purple colour. Oh-er!

Father Christmas Bath Bomb Feel ho-ho-wholly relaxed when you drop this Christmas spirited bath bomb in to the tub.  With the red and green colours fizzing in the tub you’ll get a warm, fuzzy Christmas feeling instantly.

Luxury Pud  Lavish yourself with this Christmas dessert treat has you drift away to the rich smell of lavender and comfortingfoam.

These pretty white star bombs will look just as cool on your bathside as they will whizzing around the tub working their magic! Feel ultimate relaxation as this star bath bomb melts into dust, the gorgeous scent of vanilla and rose wood, before the citrus kicks in and awakens your mind and body giving you a boost of energy. You will leave the tub glowing like a star.

Shoot for the Night Stars Soak in a pool of midnight blue as the shimmering coca butter and olive oil stars dissolve into your skin, and enjoy the sweet orange and bergamot oils aroma … you will feel like you are floating amongst the stars.

Northern Lights Watch in amazement as your bathtub magically explodes with colour and popping candy creating a night sky covered in an array of dazzling stars, you will feel as though you are floating with the stars as you breathe in the scents of floral jasmine and ylang ylang.

Butterbear Brrrrr.. its cold outside and this is the perfect bath bomb to beat the winter blues, warm and relaxing coca butter and sweet vanilla and yang you will feel cosy in the tub and your skin will feelgorgeously soft and hydrated.

Ruby red slippers Step into Christmas with this gorgeous ruby red glittering bubble bar with spiced clove oil and floral carnations.

Snowie ‘Bowie’ bubble bar This alternative bubble bar is inspired by David Bowie with the coloured flashes and eyes. The scents of grapefruit, uplifting neroli and floral rose will hit you as you lye in the tub.

Santasaurus Bubble Bar  

This Christmas themed Santa-saurus bubble bar is perfect for young children and will bring some excitement to bath time.  Ivy green with comforting honey, refreshing orange and fruity bergamot will create a wonderful scent in the bath your child will be roaring to get into.

Cinnamon Stick…. Enjoy the festive feeling with a wave of this cinnamon stick watch as bubbles appear as if by magic   with cinnamon leaf and Fair Trade organic clove refreshes your skin and gives you that ready for Christmas feeling.

Princess Wand Fabulously pretty and pink this wand will create a cotton candy like pool of bubbles you will be enchanted by as the sweet vanilla scent sends you into a drifting daydream.

Christmas Penguin Let it snow with this small cute blue penguin will bring a white winter feeling to the bathtub with a beautifulblend of lemon oils, floral and citrus aromas refreshing you as you lie in the winter wonderland.

Snow Angel: Relax in a warm blanket of snow with mounds of white foam; the shimmering gold will leave you with an angelic glow. The Sweet marzipan scent and cocoa butter softening your skin you will feel as though you have been touched by an angel.

This creamy Snow Castle soap will make you feel like the queen of the castle as you treat yourself with the luxurious coconut oil and almond – which leaves you with silky smooth skin.

Santa’s post box – love this cute soap! You won’t be disappointed with this delivery with the citrus fragrance and sweet orange flower with bergamot oils.

Reindeer Rock It would be RUDE-OLPH not to try this cool reindeer pebble soap with a rich aroma of roses and lingonberries you skin will feel beautifully comforted and cleansed.

Papa Noel Shower Jelly… Lather and massage gently over the skin to cleanse and gently exfoliate. The citrus blends will leave your skin feeling rejuvenated with the refreshing trio of lemon, lime and tangerine.

Santa’s Belly Shower Jelly This jolly, jelly belly gel soap is back for 2016 with a new and improved shape. Red wine, star anise, and refreshing apple fragrance this belly of jelly is ready to burst with an infusion of fragrances.

Snowman Shower Jelly This is one snowman you’ll not worry about melting this winter as the citrus infusion of Sicilian lemon and bergamot oils melts onto your skin and your skin is left nourished and hydratedfrom the carrageenan powder.

So there you have it… Stocking fillers? Sorted!

Merry Christmas everyone!

FACE | COSMEDIX AT THE MERCHANT

So all this Christmas gift-giving and drinks quaffing got me thinking about a nice gift-to-self… Between parties and social occasions, I was craving some me-time, just getting away from it all and cleansing my skin between indulgent dinners and drinks. So where better than the calm sanctuary of the spa at The Merchant Hotel for my treat? And what better range of products than the newly arrived Cosmedix range for a clinical clean with all the luxury of a 5 star spa?!  

On arrival my therapist Eithne greeted me and reminded me that she had treated me previously in another spa a few years ago. It was lovely of her to remember – and even lovelier of her to be so gracious when I didn’t remember at first! We got straight down to business and kick started with not just one, but THREE cleansing steps! We began with a deep cleanse using the Purity Solution Oil Cleanser to remove any make up and surface debris. It turns out I had quite a bit! This was followed by the Benefit Cleanser to clean and condition the skin and lastly, the Purity Clean to deep clean and gently exfoliate the skin. In this treatment the thorough cleanse will ensure the active ingredients in the later exfoliator and Blueberry Smoothie treatment can easily penetrate the skin for best results.  After the three stage cleansing, we took a deep look at my skin with a 7-point skin analysis using the Woods UV lamp which shows up any sun damage, dehydration, oiliness, sensitivity/broken capillaries, scarring and congestion. The results of this analysis often determine the next steps in the treatment, but luckily my sun damage and dehydration wasn’t too bad, so I was able to have the lovely Blueberry infusion. (Which really does smell of blueberries!)

Purity Clean 150ml - £39.95

The exfoliator came in the form of the Pure Enzymes Exfoliating Mask. This product contains cranberry fruit enzymes and L-lactic acid to gently eat away at the inter-cellular bonds gluing  dead skin to the face. As Eithne told me this I was imagining those tiny little fish used in some pedicure places who eat away at dead skin. Thankfully though, no fish were used in this facial!

Rescue +Hydrating Balm & Mask - £54.70

Following on from the mask, the Blueberry Smoothie Infusion was applied. This treatment infusion is a gentle but deep exfoliating treatment using blueberry, blue corn meal and again L-lactic acid which softens and smooths the skin revealing a more even, glowing complex.

Right about here, Eithne gave me a really fantastic head, scalp and neck massage which immediately opened up my sinuses and allowed me to breathe clearly for the first time in days. And with the deeper breathing came a sense of sleepiness, and I always sleep better at night after facials, they just seem to relax the soul and relax the mind – so it’s no surprise that I was in bed by 9pm that night!

We finished with some Affirm Serum which is an antioxidant serum used to fight free radical damage. Eithne mixed this with some Rescue + Balm to protect and deeply hydrate my skin after such a deep cleansing treatment. On my eyes she added some Opti Crystals Eye Cream and some Reflect SPF 30 right across the face to protect my skin from UV damage.

On the whole I would say this treatment is a perfect winter pick-me-up, or indeed something to book for new year when all the Christmas parties are done and dusted and you’re in the mood for renewing and rejuvenation. It costs: £85 and lasts 60 minutes.

FACE | SCENTS OF CHRISTMAS

Christmas quite often means a new perfume or aftershave for many. This week I look at some of the fab new scents on the market which would make ideal gifts for the ones you love this festive season…

DKNY Be tempted

Give in to temptation and indulge yourself with the new shinier, redder apple of DKNY. This perfume will reel you in with the gorgeous scents of Black Currant Bud, Devil Liquorice Accord, Red Fruit Accord, and Lemon. The sweet scent of Rose Oil Essential, Violet, and Orange Flower will keep you enticed and Patchouli Oil Indonesia, Vanilla, Myhrr giving that warm homely scent.  The deep red forbidden fruit style, snake embellishment packaging will catch your eye and the feminity, passion and mysterious scent will entice and seduce you into purchasing the perfume.  Truly Tempting!

-Eau de Parfum, 30ml: £33.30 (Boots) / £37.00 (House of Fraser).
-Eau de Parfum, 50ml: £50.00 (The Perfume Shop).


The girl

The girl of the moment Gigi Hadid is the global brand ambassador of Tommy Hilfiger and the inspiration for ‘The Girl’ this scent channels her optimistic, confidence and effortlessly cool personality. The girl is crisp and fresh to reflect how free- spirited and magnetic she is. Your senses will be awoken with a burst of green pear, green fig and violet leaf followed by the soft feminine scent of jasmine petals and silky mugue and Cedarwood and cashmerman brings a strong scent which channels confidence and individuality.

-EDT, 30ml: £25.00 (Tommy Hilfiger) / £18.00 (Boots) / £18.00 (Superdrug).
-EDT, 100ml: £35.00 (The Perfume Shop).

Michael Kors Wanderlust

You’ll be lusting after this new Michael Kors with the fragrance of adventure, romance and discovery. The model Lily Aldridge is the face of the campaign for this captivating, romantic scent.  Blossoms and spices almond milk and woods this fragrance is wonderfully enchanting. The bottle is curved with a glam gold top relating to the romantic, feminine scent that lye’s inside.

Eau de Parfum, 30ml: £38.70, 50ml: £55.80, 100ml: £67.50

Michael Kors Amber
This luxurious, metallic gold gift set with a warm amber set looks glamourous and will warm your heart this winter. The set includes Michael Kors Sexy Amber Eau de Parfum Spray 100 ml, Ultimate Body Lotion 150ml Sexy Amber Eau de Parfum & Lip Luster Dual-ended Rollerball 5 ml and a fabulous Michael Kors Cosmetic Bag which brilliantly compacts into the drawer of the Michael Kors box.

Eau de Parfum, 100ml gift set (as pictured): £87.50 (The Fragrance Shop) / £88.00 (Debenhams).

Michael Kors Jasmine

MK Jasmin box and contents contains a feminine floral fragrance with a glam rose gold packaging. This glamourous set includes Michael Kors Sexy Amber Eau de Parfum Spray, Ultimate Body Lotion,  Sexy Amber Eau de Parfum & Lip Lustre Dual-ended Rollerball l and Michael Kors Cosmetic Bag to keep all your fabulous cosmetics in.

Eau de Parfum, 50ml gift set: £60.00 (Harrods) / £60.00 (House of Fraser).

 

AND FOR THE BOYS...

 

Aramis aftershave

Only the best for your man this Christmas with this suave, sleek brief case design and selection of aftershave, anti persprient , lotion and fragrance these warm, hearty scents is a heart-warming gift    to give to your loved one this Christmas.

-EDT, 100ml: £62.00 + engraving option (The Perfume Shop) / EDT, 110ml: £21.95 SPECIAL OFFER (allbeauty.com).

-EDT, 7ml mini gift set: £25.00 (Boots).

Lab series gifts

Max LS

Max LS products Deluxe set includes amazing age defying productsDaily Renewing Cleanser , MAX LS Instant Eye Lift,  MAX LS Age-Less Power V Lifting Cream 1.7, MAX LS Power V Lifting Serum Deluxe Sample.

MAX LS Skincare gift set (as pictured): £79.00 (Lab Series) / £79.00 (House of Fraser).

Red
Two power products All-In-One Face Treatment 100ml and a freeMulti Action Face Wash 100ml the only two products your man needs for daily cleansing.

Red High Performance Duo Skincare Giftset (as pictured), 100ml x 2: £34.00 (Lab Series) / £34.00 (House of Fraser).

Blue

4 of lab series most wanted in one package it’s a perfect way to introduce your man to the Lab series brand this Christmas.  The starter series includes Multi Action Face Wash, Maximum Comfort Shave Cream, Age Rescue and Face Lotion and Pro LS All-In-One Shower Gel and everyday skincare is made easy.

Starter Series (as pictured): £15.00 (House of Fraser).

FACE | September 2016

After a summer of grief and heartache, (my adorable mum passed away and my heart got broken) coupled with too much sun and not enough taking care of myself, I needed a boost from within to get my myself back on track.

I started, as always, with bringing my eating back into line - getting fresh, healthy and mostly veggie ingredients and preparing meals and snacks from scratch (with the lack of oompf this summer I had allowed my eating habits to slump as much as my melancholic mood). Food is so vital in determining mood and emotions, plus it has a massive effect on the outer shell of our bodies – and that includes hair, skin and nails among others. Next up, I got back into yoga with my amazing yoga teacher Kim Constable who teaches me daily about the importance of an holistic attitude to our bodies and care from within. My final adjustment was to start taking the Lumity supplement which is recommended by model and mum Yasmin Le Bon.

These supplements come in a chic box with supplies for 30 days. There is one capsule bottle for daytime and another filled with tablets for night time. Mine came from Lisburn Road’s Rejouir skin clinic and Pamela, who runs the clinic, gave me an almost prescriptive consultation before I kicked off with the programme for the month of September. She explained that our bodies have different needs at different times of the day in terms of what minerals and vitamins it can (and should) absorb; plus, the body is more efficient at digesting and processing certain things at certain times too. And that all made perfect sense, so, armed with that info, I left the clinic and went home taking the first set of supplements before bedtime and a new trio of tablets the next morning – and so that continued for 30 days.

As I slept that night (and every night that month) I also treated my skin to a night time application of a new favourite product - the VivDerma perfecting facial oil. (£65 - available nationwide).    This ultra-fine facial oil is a veritable elixir which nourishes, moisturises and hydrates instantly by penetrating into each layer of the skin to maintain moisture for a brighter and more radiant complexion. It combines rich Moroccan Argan Oil with Rosehip Oil to help improve pH balance, skin tone, luminosity and texture. I’m totally hooked.

On my body I smothered myself in the Elemis Frangipani Monoi body oil for a scent of the exotic and a rich hydration and sheen on my skin. The massage itself also smoothed away some of my grief and it helped bring back many memories of another lovely mum - not mine, but my French exchange student Sophie’s mum, as she swore by Tahitian monoi oil for her hair and body way back as far as 1989 when I was a young teen and I remember thinking this amazing new smell was one of the most exotic and lovely scents I had ever experienced. The Elemis oil is perfect for the bath also – and where better to lie dreaming of happy times than in a good old fashioned tub?

On my hair I used a collection of affordable products by CIEN at LIDL and found the conditioner (£1.49) and repair mask (£1.79) to be amazingly restorative. I’m still using these products now and love their travel pack sizes for holidays too.

To bring sexy back for daytime (because it was still warm enough to go bare legged), I added some colour to my legs, arms and shoulders (the style was still all about the peep shoulder in September) with Skinny Tan’s new Tan & Tone oil which also comes in a travel sized container at just 100ml, so I was able to bring the bottle to London for FASHION WEEK and not have to decant for my hand luggage! Thankfully, I don’t have cellulite worth speaking of, so I can’t comment on the product’s claim to tackle the dreaded orange peel, but it certainly brought some lustre back to my skin anyway and I loved how it was pretty much fool proof and impossible to streak with its lightly oily texture which allows for a super even texture.

And finally, in terms of make up, I used the Liz Earle Sheer Skin Tint SPF15 (a totally AMAZING product which looks summery but which is designed to be worn all year round for totally dewy skin). It is the perfect bridge between Liz Earle’s iconic botanical skincare and their innovative colour range. It has a rich and creamy formula, yet it is so lightweight that it blends effortlessly into the skin. This award-winning complexion perfector, available in three shades, is enriched with a carefully selected blend of avocado and British borage oils. At £24.50, this is a little tube of youth and happiness for every skin type. I topped this off with the Liz Earle Bronzing powder compact, which, again is perfect for travelling (who else has opened a loose powder bronzer after travelling and spilt it EVERYWHERE?).

A lovely alternative to the Liz Earle compact bronzer is the amazing Make Up Forever bronzer (now available at Paddy McGurgan’s Make Up Pro store - eeek!) for its depth of colour and pigmentation. I learnt a whole new level in strobing with the products from PUR cosmetics (available at M&S); and their Moonlit strobing palette in particular was a special summer find. Highly recommended!

By the end of the month I was almost back to me again. I had luscious hair again and skin that glowed instead of looking matt and arid. I still felt the awful hole in my life from a recent bereavement (and the loss continues to hurt) but the immediate and physical after-effects of grief were slowly passing and I am thankful to Lumity and Kim for helping me to kick start that part of my healing from within.

Sometimes, critics bemoan beauty and all its pampering and preening, but even the ancients found a certain spiritual healing and self awareness when indulging in a little bit of self love, albeit that they wont have called it ‘me time’ like we do these days.