Because money spent in duty free doesn’t count.


Good afternoon errybody! I’m back from my travels, with a bit of a tan and lovely big bag full of new cosmetic goodies to share and review! My holiday was based around three main aims: to spend time with my sister (who’s been living in Spain since June), to luxuriate by the pool, and to scoop up as much Duty Free and Kiko shopping as possible. And, safe to say, I met each of these objectives head-on.

While I’ll delve into my Kiko haul another time, I think it’s only appropriate to share the contents of my shopping bag from The Loop at Dublin Airport. Duty Free shopping in Dublin is fantastic; you can pick up bits and bobs from a whole range of brands, such as Smashbox, MAC, Bobbi Brown, Clarins, YSL, Armani, L’Occitane, Jo Malone, and dozens more. And, of course, the prices tend to be far more reasonable than they would be in a regular store or online. I had saved up for my holiday in the weeks preceding it, partially with the intention of treating myself to some products from my beauty wishlist before the poverty of college life became a reality once again.

My first stop was MAC, where I got stuck in swatching various powders and lipsticks. I’d had my eye on the MAC Mineralise Skinfinish Natural face powder for some time, owing to its reputed complexion-refining powers. I chose the shade Light Plus as I was rocking a ‘base tan’ already, and Light would probably be more suitable for me in the depths of winter.

The Mineralise Skinfinish powders appear to have been repackaged, and I love the new matte, almost retro compacts. Is it just me or do they feel that bit more expensive?

ight Plus (€25.50) is a lovely warm-toned powder that doesn’t hint at orange or pink. I definitely think it’ll become a base essential.

Following in the same vein, I picked up the MAC Mineralise Skinfinish face powder in Lightscapade (€25.50).

ightscapade is just stunning; a ‘candlelit’ beige with blue, peach and champagne veining. I was torn between this and Soft and Gentle, which is also gorgeous, but I felt that Lightscapade would be a more versatile highlighter whether my skin is tanned, pale or in that awkward in-between phase. Review definitely pending on this little beauty.

Then I took a trip to Smashbox and repurchased my Smashbox Photofinish Foundaton Primer Light.
We’ve had a love-hate relationship in the past, but nothing preps my skin for foundation like this little miracle worker. It can cost anywhere up to €40 usually, but I always stock up at the airport because it practically sells itself at €26. And I’m not complaining at all!

Then I took a wander over to Bobbi Brown and her Rich Lip Colour lipstick in Plum Rose caught my eye (€22.10).

While the above photograph, doesn’t really do Plum Rose justice, it’s one of those shades that’s far more than a deep nude, but more subtle than an in-your-face plum. This is a lipstick that I can predict will work beautifully in wintertime.

And lastly, I detoured into Boots and found the Soap & Glory make-up stand. The struggle to find a decent liquid eyeliner is very real, but I’m willing to take a punt on the Soap & Glory Supercat Eyeliner Pen, €8.
‘ve high hopes for this one. I’ll keep you posted.

Are you a Duty Free addict like me, or are you more of a ‘dash to the gate, clutching your purse in fear’ kind of girl?


Em X


La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat


Finding a moisturiser that hydrates my skin sufficiently without (a) leaving my face looking like an oil slick or (b) breaking me out is a challenge in itself. Most moisturisers I’ve tried have either been far too rich for my skin, or have left me with tiny dry patches and an all-round feeling of roughness in my skin.  The balance is a seriously tricky one to maintain, but occasionally I discover something that keeps my skin happy. And, yes, La Roche-Posay Effaclar Mat is one of those little gems.


Generally speaking, La Roche-Posay has a happy relationship with my skin. While I don’t think that any skincare routine can fully eradicate my spots, my La Roche-Posay products help to keep things calm and balanced without drawing out every last drop of moisture. I had heard great things about the moisturisers in the Effaclar range, so when I began to run low on moisturiser last month, I picked up Effaclar Mat for £9.66 during Escentual’s most recent French Pharmacy sale. And that is pretty great value considering it can cost up to €19 in pharmacies at home.

The tube packaging is perfectly functional and hygienic, and it’s quite portable too. The moisturiser itself has a lightweight gel-like consistency, and smells faintly like the rest of the Effaclar range without being overly scented. I love that it absorbs quickly into the skin and feels really cooling too. It provides a smooth, matte finish that could easily be used as a base for foundation, although I prefer to use a primer too. No precaution spared, and all that.

Effaclar Mat makes a lot of bold claims, some of which go over my head so I really don’t know if they are actually fulfilled! The basic functions of Effaclar Mat are anti-shine and anti-enlarged pores, both of which it carries out quite well. My skin stays matte, or at least the right side of dewy, for a good 4-5 hours before I need to blot or powder, and that’s in the summertime. And those pesky enlarged pores either side of my nose are certainly reduced, giving my skin a more perfected appearance. Effaclar Mat contains Sebulyse, which apparently ‘inhibits sebum at its source’, and the oil-regulating is done via absorbent microspheres and perlite (nope, me either).

This is a great moisturiser for anyone who is in need of a good dose of hydration without the inevitable shiny back-of-a-spoon face. My skin’s texture is improving slightly too, and it never appears parched anymore. I definitely recommend looking out for Effaclar Mat during the sales, to get the best value for money. But even at full price, it’s a great little daytime moisturiser for us oily gals!

Em X

P.S. Today I had my eyebrows waxed for the first time. How I managed until this point, I’ll never know.

My Holiday Make-Up Bag!


This time next week, I’ll be sunning myself in glorious Spain – hopefully with a cocktail in hand and a decent book at my fingertips! As I’m flying out next Tuesday, I decided I’d better get my game face on and sort out my packing! When I’m on holidays in sunnier climes, I tend to keep my make-up to a bare minimum, if I wear any at all – there’s something about a suntan and being in a foreign country that makes me less inclined to trowel on the slap when it’s 30° outside. However, I wouldn’t feel right bringing no make-up whatsoever, so I’ll be packing lightweight and mattifying products to create simple but low-maintenance looks. And needless to say, the brow kit and the mattifying powder will be packed too!


Base-wise, I’ll be starting things off with my Smashbox Photofinish Foundation Primer in Light. I know I’ve mentioned that this seems to break me out, but my skin is in tatters at the moment (don’t ask me why, I gave up trying to figure it out), and I can’t see this making things any worse. Also, my foundation gets eaten by my pores in hot weather, and this is the only product I have that can prevent it!

My foundation  of choice will be my Chanel Perfection Lumière Velvet in B10. The shade B10 is the tiniest bit warm on my skin at the moment, so I think I’ll get away with it for most of the holiday until my tan is completely developed. The coverage isn’t as full as I’d like these days, but a heavy base just ain’t happening in the Spanish heat!

For cheeks and contouring, I’ll be bringing my trusty Benefit duo; CORALista and Hoola. CORALista gives a stunning  peachy glow to the skin, which is perfect with a tan. And, of course, no holiday look is complete without the bronze factor, so Hoola will be hopping in there too. I can’t fault the quality of either product, although I do wish I had travel-sized versions to take with me rather than the bulky boxes.


My usual concealers will be coming with me; my Collection Lasting Perfection and L’Oréal Lumi Magique Highlighter. Lasting Perfection is an excellent option for concealing blemishes for hours on end, while the Lumi Magique both highlights and conceals the under eye are without creasing – ideal for covering up the aftermath of too many cosmos and not enough sleep!

For my eyes, I’m keeping things really simple; my MAC Powerpoint Eye Pencil in Engraved simply does not budge, which is perfect in hot weather. For a little more definition, I’ll be using my e.l.f. Jumbo Eyeshadow Stick in Turkish Coffee; I love this for adding colour to the waterline or as a smokey wash of colour on the lid. Sure, it’s no By Terry Ombre Blackstar, but it does the job, and is long lasting too! Then I’ll finish things off with a coat of waterproof mascara – in this case, my Lancôme Hypnôse Doll Eyes. After all, nobody wants melting mascara and ensuing panda eyes.

If I fancy jazzing things up a little in the lips department, I’ll pack my new Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick in As You Want Victoria. The highly-pigmented punchy pink-red will look gorgeous with a tan, and the moisturising formula is super comfortable to wear. After all, the last thing I’m bothered about on holidays is touching up my lipstick! And of course, my trusty NUXE Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm will always be on hand to soothe dried out lips after a day dipping in the sea.


Of course, sun protection is probably the most important thing to throw into my toiletry bag. I’ve picked up a couple of bottles of Aldi’s Lacura Moisturising Sun Lotion in Factor 30, as well as their Aftersun Spray with aloe vera. And, to avoid a greasy visage and extra pimples, I’ll be bringing my new La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF30 Matte Fluid. Ordinary suncream wreaks havoc on my face, but now I can give my skin the protection it needs without the spots it definitely doesn’t need!

Lastly, instead of nail polish, I’ll be sporting these adorable false nails from Penneys!

I’ve already planned to wear those adorable pineapples on the way over then, when they eventually give up the ghost, the neon aztec prints will complement my tan perfectly!


What are your holiday beauty essentials?

Em X

e.l.f. Baked Eyeshadow Palette in California – So, so close!


I think we all know that a girl can never have too many eyeshadow palettes. While the cost of high end palettes can be prohibitive to a lot of us (*raises hand*), there are some really decent drugstore options out there too. Sure, they might not all have the same buttery texture as their Urban Decay counterparts, but that doesn’t mean they ought to be written off altogether. As part of my recent e.l.f. haul – from which I’m still getting some serious blogging mileage – I bought the £10 Baked Eyeshadow Palette in the California colourway. There are three other colourways available, but I could see myself getting the most use out of the bronzes, golds and browns in California.



The shade variation is pretty impressive; the top row includes a pale champagne, an orange-bronze, a white gold, a rose gold and a light brown. The bottom row includes a medium grey, a taupe, a moss brown, a medium brown and a purple. All of the shades can be mixed and matched, with a substantial amount of shimmer which I really like, but others might not be so keen. I find shimmers easier to work with, and it’s easier to create a striking look with them – but of course, we’re all different! The packaging is, as one might expect, extremely basic, but the large mirror in the lid does compensate somewhat. No brush is included, but, unless it’s Urban Decay, I probably won’t be using it anyway.

I had never tried baked eyeshadows before, but I knew from reading reviews of various baked formulas not to expect intense pigmentation. And, when I got to swatch this palette, I couldn’t get more than a few shimmer particles out of the shadows without wetting the brush first. Not everyone will want to go to that effort but, if you do, the results are surprisingly worth it.

I really struggled to find good light to take the swatch photographs with but, once I swatched them wet, they were really vibrant and shimmery, with plenty of differentiation between the shades.



So far, so good. In particular, I love the purple, silver and rose gold shades as they’re very unlike anything else I have in my collection.

Applying the Baked Eyeshadows was a doddle with a wet fluffy brush. The texture was softer than I expected, and really blendable too. I’d imagine that that’s down to the jojoba, rose, sunflower, apricot and grape in the formula, which work to prevent dryness. Because you’ve got to really swirl the brush in the shadows, you end up with loads of fall-out in the pan but, surprisingly, none on your cheeks. The shadows aren’t extremely pigmented but I actually see this as a good thing because you can build up the colour as much or as little as you please. Sometimes, a sheer wash of colour can be perfect for daytime!

For yesterday, I used the white gold all over the lid, the light brown to define the crease, and a dot of the pale champagne to highlight the inner corners:


I must point out that I had had to make a dash for a bus earlier that morning – a very humid, sticky morning. The eyeshadows didn’t budge, even though every other product on my face did (buh-bye, foundation). And several hours later, there wasn’t so much as a crease in sight. Honestly, I was so pleased; for a £10 palette, the staying power was unlike anything I’d used before. Seeing as I have oily skin, and the palette itself is so pretty, I could deal with the bit of effort involved in application.

All sounds great, right? Then, the rash broke out.

Mostly, it broke out on the arms where I swatched the eyeshadows. I had tiny red bumps all over my inner forearm; completely painless and itch-free, but there nonetheless. I thought it might have been some kind of weird insect bite, until I found a similar bump on my eyelid that night; it was only then that I put two-and-two together. Typical.

So, had that rash not come up, I’d have given the palette a solid 8/10, and continued to use it regularly. But a multitude of teeny bumps is not what one wants to sport on one’s eyes. They’ve lasted two days on my arms and counting – not ideal. I’m pretty disappointed, but at least I didn’t spend a fortune on the palette. I’d still definitely recommend it, but do tread carefully all the same!

Em X

The Body Shop Obsession Lives On…


The discovery of The Body Shop products in Sam McCauley chemists in Carlow has led to more than a little stocking up being done on my part! I really like The Body Shop; I feel like their products just work without being exceedingly expensive. Although the full range of products isn’t available in Carlow, I’ve still managed to find a few little things to keep myself ticking over!

Firstly, I’ve had my eye on the Tea Tree Skin Clearing Toner for a little while now; I’ve been using the La Roche-Posay Effaclar toner for some time now but I felt like making a change to something less astringent, but still suitable for spotty skin. The Tea Tree Skin Clearing Toner was €8.95 for 250ml, which is pretty cheap really. The Body Shop claims that it will purify blemish-prone skin of make-up and impurities and also mattify the complexion. It contains Community Fair Trade Organic Tea Tree Oil and is also infused with tamanu oil. Alcohol is pretty high up on that ingredients list though, so do be wary of that.


The bottle needs to be shaken first, to dissolve what I presume is the tamanu oil which condenses at the bottom of the bottle. However, this toner isn’t at all greasy and it doesn’t congest my pores. Initially, I noticed a teeny burning sensation after I applied the toner, which faded after 30 seconds or so. It doesn’t happen anymore – perhaps my skin has adjusted to the concentration of tea tree oil – but it is worth noting if you have sensitive skin. The toner helps to keep my complexion from descending into an oil slick in the summer warmth, and it really helps to soothe breakouts. I still get spots (when will that ever change?!), but this toner really aids the healing process. It’s also really refreshing to use during the day on the odd occasion I don’t wear make-up.

With change from a tenner, this toner has seriously impressed me!

I wrote recently about The Body Shop Coconut Shower Cream, which I’m still using everytime I shower – even if only for the coconutty scent! It therefore made complete sense to expand the collection and purchase the Coconut Milk Body Lotion, to keep that delicious smell going!


This, I believe, cost €12.95, which is significantly cheaper than the almost-€20 Body Butters. I don’t particularly like to use heavy body moisturisers; it’s a struggle to remember to use anything in the line of body moisturisers at all, so I’m really not inclined to bother with something that takes forever to sink in. Ain’t nobody got time for hanging around in their underwear waiting for a body butter to absorb. The Coconut Body Milk is a much lighter, thinner formula that is dispensed through a nozzle and absorbs within minutes. In fact, the application is much like that of suncream, without the day-long stickiness! True,  it’s not as rich as one might like, but it’s making a nice difference to the condition of my skin on my arms and legs, and the coconut scent lingers for a few hours. Which, as we all know, is my main reason for buying it! Using the Coconut Body Milk isn’t a huge chore, and in return I get softer skin. Perfect.

Now, somebody hide my purse before I do any more damage.

Em X