People sometimes think of beauty products as superficial and trivial. But whether it’s hair dye or a new lipstick, small pleasures can give us a lift and so are very welcome. Here are a few beauty things that we found really cheering while we were at home in strange times, the roads empty outside and family far away, including two tanning ranges that will see you through summer and beyond …
1 A new candle from Cloon Keen’s Galway atelier is always good news, and Étain, a gorgeous soft summery jasmine blend is no exception. With the family and dog tramping in and out, work calls, teen tantrums and burnt toast filling the house, who hasn’t needed something calming and beautiful? And, in the most exciting shopping news we’ve heard all year, Cloon Keen are set to open their first Dublin store this autumn, so you can browse the loveliness at your leisure … we can’t wait. €40, www.cloonkeen.com.
2 Neom’s Uplifting Hand Balm. Does what it says on the tube. Even people who’ve never used hand cream have adopted it this year, to help after all the handwashing, and Neom’s smells gorgeous, with mint and mandarin, plus natural seed oils and butters, plus it isn’t sticky or too thick. Small but lovely. €12, at Seagreen Dublin and www.neomorganics.com.
3 I’ve never been a big self-tanner, but in recent years have become partial to a bit of Isle of Paradise – mainly due to meeting founder Jules Von Hep when he came to Dublin a few years ago and believing in both his tanning skills and body positive message. The range is vegan, cruelty-free and organic, and it works. The ones I’ve tried are easy and foolproof, whether you just add a few drops into moisturiser to warm up your skin, or go for the new Ultra Dark Instant Tan (€25.95). Isle of Paradise is newly available at Arnotts (as well as at www.Boots.ie), from €18.95. If you don’t follow the lovely Von Hep on Instagram, by the way, I’d recommend it. His joie de vivre is contagious, and it’s one of the few accounts that cuts through the nonsense with honesty and humour.
For top-level luxury tan, I rate Amanda Harrington, too. The application brushes cost from €39 and are not essential, but definitely help to buff in the colour smoothly both on the face and body. The range does include a primer (a blend of aloe vera extract and shea butter), but you can just moisturise and then use the lightweight face mist (€31), or body mousse (€40), both containing cooling aloe vera, for excellent natural-looking (and expensive-looking) colour. The range – including new Glycolic Facial Pads to exfoliate skin before tanning – has just landed at both Brown Thomas and Arnotts online.
4 I’ve always found that perfume provides a little hit of pleasure each day, and never more so than recent months. When everything is odd and upside down, an interesting scent can provide a lasting moment of beauty, as well as evoking another place or time. On my desk is Roger & Gallet’s uplifting and sunny Bois D’Orange, a designer fragrance (by a master perfumer) at a pharmacy price; it makes me think of sunny holidays. But my find of the season has been Erin Quinn’s EQ Factory scents, available direct from her online (www.eqfactories.com). A tiny little operation, Quinn’s perfumes are spot on beautiful, limited edition, unisex, more affordable than others of this quality (€35; trial bottles €6) and no one else will be wearing them. Rose Petals on Suede is better than many rose perfumes priced three times as highly.
5 For a little hit of luxury each morning, I’ve been using Sunday Riley’s Ice Ceramide Moisturising Cream. You might know the brand behind the best-selling Luna Sleeping Night Oil, a gorgeously blue face oil, which offers a gentle introduction to retinol. The Ice cream is not a cheap moisturiser (€69, at www.cultbeauty.co.uk), but it is a rather lush one, with high levels of red algae extract plus squalane, an excellent anti-inflammatory moisturising ingredient. Sometimes, I mix in a few drops of Vanderohe face serum (£88stg, www.vanderohe.com), a gorgeously fragrant blend of (mostly organic) oils, and the combination is like wearing silk and cashmere at once –probably overkill, but it’s nice to have a bit of indulgence occasionally, and better for you than wine.
A word if your skin is feeling dry, though: I was speaking to skin expert Nuala Woulfe recently, and she advised me that if skin is feeling dry, piling on a thick moisturiser isn’t necessarily the answer. “You want a product to do more than offer hydration. Use anything overly heavy and your skin can get lazy. Think of it from the inside out: drink plenty of water and take up to 1,000mg of fish oil a day. I also recommend Skinade, a collagen peptide supplement, with vitamins A and D. In many cases I encourage people with drier skin to decrease moisturiser and work with serums and lighter textures, and consider their diet, for better hydration.” Skinade, €60, at www.nualawoulfe.ie.
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