Allergic to the gym? What if I told you that there are many activities we can do that will give us the same feel-good endorphin kick without setting foot in one? Hear me out.
The other day as I was getting ready to go out, my eyes fell upon my black liquid liner languishing in the corner of my makeup drawer, lonely and neglected. I couldn’t remember the last time I used it. Life in the time of the pandemic had not required such things as black liquid eyeliner. Recently, it’s been too hot for liquid liner. Life was sweaty enough in masks before a heatwave came along, throw in 23-degree weather and makeup feels like a somewhat futile exercise.
Sustainability has become such a buzzword lately, but what does it really mean to be sustainable? If you take it at face value, the word ‘sustain’ means to keep something going without using it all up. This is important when it comes to the beauty industry. From water use to packaging and ingredients, the manufacturing and selling of beauty products can potentially consume vast amounts of resources.
My husband recently asked me how much I thought the collection of skincare products I have in our bathroom is worth. As a lifelong beauty-product obsessive, I buy lots of things because I want to try them, and as part of this job I also get sent things to try. It took me a while to work out the answer to my husband’s question. It was well into the thousands.
Recently, I had my first experience of the bizarre behaviour of a certain element online. A video I made went mini-viral, and while the response was largely positive, some people didn’t like it. Most of them fairly critiqued and debated what I said in the comments, but others were a little less reasonable. Shortly after that post, comments began to appear on another post of mine. They appeared in bursts of four or five, over the course of a week or so, and they were all about my eyebrows.
I must admit, I rolled my eyes when I read the news that Scarlett Johansson was launching a beauty line. Another one, I thought. There have been a lot of celebrity beauty launches of late. I’m not against them in principle, but I’m bored of seeing big names who’ve never expressed any real interest in makeup or skincare suddenly talking about their passion for the area.
‘You can’t wait until life isn’t hard any more, before you decide to be happy.” Nightbirde, aka Jane Marczewski, the breakout star of this year’s America’s Got Talent, said this when discussing her song It’s Okay, about her cancer journey — she’s had it three times and she’s only 30. Her positivity reminded me how sometimes we need to hear something like this to be grateful for what we have. July always makes me feel happy — the kids are off school, the weather is hot and it’s my birthday month — but it’s a little bittersweet as it’s also my father’s anniversary. Today, actually, is his 20th anniversary. But, “It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok/If you’re lost/We’re all a little lost and it’s alright/Oh, it’s alright to be lost sometimes”. I find the sentiment behind these lyrics really reassuring; it makes me feel as if I’m not alone, which helps me to stay focused on positive things. And two great things spring to mind right now. My sister Laura gave birth to her son, Archie, just a few weeks ago and my youngest sister, Anna, is expecting her first in November! As I think of my sisters and their new arrivals, all I’m reminded of is how I can always see Dad in each new niece or nephew that joins our family. This makes me feel excited and a little less lost, which is more than OK.
Recently, a TikTok made me rethink something. That’s been happening a lot actually. I downloaded the app at the start of the pandemic and it has been a true companion throughout. It’s influenced what I cook, the hairstyles I choose, fashion choices and, yes, the way I think about various issues. This particular TikTok was from a black content creator begging us to stop calling pale-coloured lipsticks ‘nude’. Because they’re not actually nude for a lot of people, and it really wouldn’t be hard to call them what they are — soft pink, peach and beige tones.
With a summer season of the great outdoors upon us, there’s no better time to re-evaluate our skincare products. Hands up who’s guilty of using the same products day in, day out, no matter the time of year? Well, now is the time to stop. We’ve come a long way from the cold-cream cleansers of the 1990s, but did you know we should be switching up our skin routines much more regularly? Yep, not every few years, but every season. Much like how our wardrobes change from spring to winter, so should what we wear on our face. The days are getting warmer, which means the skin’s oil production can change. This, then, can have an effect on the moisturiser we loved in winter. So choose something lighter and think about an SPF increase. You’ve heard me bang on about the importance of that plenty of times. Finding a lighter, less oily, moisturiser should be on all of our to-do lists. Also essential for summer is an antioxidant that will support the skin’s natural production of collagen. The most sought-after antioxidant products are usually serums packed with vitamin C. A good one to add to our morning routines before we spend the summer months eating and drinking all around ourselves while hanging out in the sunshine. Enjoy!
I follow a lot of makeup people on Instagram. There is little I enjoy more than watching someone apply their makeup, whether it’s on the bus or on the internet, and watching a makeup artist do it is peak relaxation. Recently, MUA content has changed from self-application all the time, to detailing the prep they have to do as professionals to apply makeup to other people’s faces. It’s fascinating how they organise their products so they can have maximum choice to hand at any given location, and the care they take to ensure hygiene is a priority.
Reunited, and it feels so good/Reunited ’cause we understood... Whenever I see anything about the Bennifer — that’s J-Lo and Ben Affleck — reunion, this is the song going round in my head. Even if you’re too young to remember the Peaches & Herb classic, it’s totally understandable why this feels so good. I just love love, and, as I always say, never give up on love — no matter what age you are. We say we get wiser with age and, for most of us, that usually means kissing a few frogs before we meet a prince or princess. We also know that going back to an ex can be tough, seeing as friends probably know all the details of the first break-up, which can be awks. But Ben isn’t exactly a frog. I met him many years ago at the premiere of his movie The Town, and he is hot, hot, HOT! I’m sure you’ve seen the meme of Blanche Devereaux in The Golden Girls and J-Lo — who is now the same age as the classic character — showing just how much 50 has changed over the past three decades or so. And, on that note, see The Talk, right, for tips on how to look your best in your golden-glow years.
I regularly hear from people on Instagram who say they don’t know the first thing about makeup. They don’t know what to buy, and they definitely don’t know what to do with it. Whatever course their life has taken, they just never really got involved in the makeup game. That’s fine, of course, if the person is happy with that choice. However, the people who contact me generally aren’t. They say things like, “I wish I had your skills” or “I could never do that”. They don’t have the experience, they say, but in my opinion, what it comes down to is confidence.
If, like me, you love make-up, fashion, design and art — especially from 1970s New York — and you haven’t watched the Netflix miniseries Halston yet, prepare to inhale it. Ewan McGregor plays legendary designer Roy Halston Frowick. He was famous for dressing Jackie Kennedy — her pillbox hat was a Halston — as well as Bianca Jagger. Remember the pics of her on the white horse in Studio 54? Of course, she was wearing Halston. French actor Rebecca Dayan plays Halston’s friend, jewellery designer Elsa Peretti, who sadly died in March of this year — but not before leaving her mark. She started designing jewellery for Tiffany & Co in 1974 and continued right until the end of her life. The first piece of really special jewellery that I bought for myself was an Elsa Peretti coffee-bean necklace. I was 23 and had just become a fashion buyer. I bought it at my first London Fashion Week. Ah, memories.Peretti collaborated with Halston, designing his iconic perfume bottle. The fragrance became one of America’s best-sellers at the time. Apparently it was inspired by Halston’s love of orchids and, ahem, his lover’s jockstrap, and was deemed too naughty to wear to work. You can still buy it, although now it comes in a plastic bottle — ugh. However according to chatter online, the original bottle may be making a comeback.
Now that the sun has finally decided to grace us with its presence and we’re allowed to travel to any Irish coast that takes our fancy, we’re all thinking about sun cream. Well, all of us except those men who insist they’ll be grand every single year, only to get burned to a crisp within an hour of seeing the sun and then moan about their sunburn for days on end.
I’ll admit that I’m completely biased, but I think west Cork is the best place EVER, especially during the summer. Between the beaches and bars, with the scenery and the food, the region really comes into its own from now until the end of September. Most of my childhood memories involve sunshine-filled days in Schull or at the beach in Barleycove, and now Mini and Maxi, my children, are the same — learning to swim down at the pier and going for fish and chips afterwards at the Townhouse O’Ds. As all of the lockdown sea-swimming tribe know, the benefits of swimming in the ocean — both mentally and physically — are endless. You can’t beat ‘vitamin sea’, as we say. Something I’ve noticed when I’ve been swimming in the sea a lot is how clear and spot-free my skin becomes. Salt water is awash with magnesium, potassium and calcium, which is great news for the skin. Sea water is also mildly antiseptic, so it’s great for helping to heal damaged skin. If you’re not near the sea — or if submerging yourself in cold water is just not your cup of, ahem, sea — you can recreate the effect at home by soaking a towel in warm, salted water and placing it on your face, chest and back to clarify the skin.
It seems that a year and a bit of staring at ourselves during Zoom calls has had an impact on our self-esteem, because the appetite for injectables has never been stronger. Everyone I meet seems to be talking about what “tweakments” they’re going for, and even the somewhat jarring appearance of the men from Friends in the imagery for their reunion hasn’t put people off. Whether it’s anti-wrinkle injections or a bit of filler, what was once taboo seems to be widely accepted now.
Thanks to the pandemic, there have been lots of brides who, on their wedding day, took a deep breath and started doing their own makeup. The restrictions on beauty professionals was difficult for many people who didn’t feel confident putting on a full face of makeup, or who felt they simply couldn’t be their most beautiful without the skills of a professional.
Because I’m deaf in one ear, I was often told I’d never be able to work in TV or radio. But look at me go! I’m on Ireland AM on Fridays and I also occasionally pop on the Today with Claire Byrne show on RTÉ Radio 1. Accessibility has advanced so much in the last year, including on social media. Instagram has upped its game when it comes to captioning Instagram stories — great for hard-of-hearing people like me, but also handy for parents who fancy a scroll without waking up a sleeping baby — I’m thinking of my sisters Anna and Laura, who are both preggers. Recently, on a Zoom press launch for the new MAC Cruella collection, they had a sign-language interpreter and my mind was blown! As for Cork twins Donnacha and Calum Geary, who appeared on The Late Late Show with their dad recently — I blubbed my way through the whole thing. Anyhoo, Calum is deaf, and Oscar-winning Hollywood star and deaf activist Marlee Matlin had a simple message for him via video link. “I’m telling you you can be whatever you want to be, anything you want,” Marlee said. I could hardly see the screen, the tears were flowing so much! So that’s my message today. I just don’t listen to people who tell me I can’t do television or radio — on purpose!
The other day, I was quickly applying some makeup before I went to an appointment, when I got an awful shock. Having completed my ‘feel better in five minutes’ face, I caught myself in the mirror and realised that I was, in fact, wearing ‘no makeup makeup’. What have I become?
Between that awful term ‘beach body’ and the rise of TikTok beauty hacks, the summer months were hardly going to arrive without some controversy, were they? The latest, errr, burning question centres around the correct application of SPF. Last year, a TikTok post on ‘sunscreen contouring’ by a young model called Eli Withrow went viral, and sparked an unhealthy trend. She used a higher-factor SPF solely under her eyes and on her cheekbones. And, based on a recent video she shared of her beauty routine, it looks like Gwyneth Paltrow might be a fan of this beauty hack, too. But don’t try this at home, folks! Eli and Gwynnie have received enough backlash to leave them more than a little red in the face. Slacking on SPF is not a smart move. To quote the Baz Luhrmann hit, “if I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.” Young or old, the sun doesn’t discriminate and we all need to stay protected. And, newsflash — you don’t have to buy a separate bottle just for kids. Shop smart and you’re sure to find a sunscreen to suit the whole family. Or go the completely safe route, stay out of the sun and hit the bottle — of tan, that is. I am looking forward to some al fresco drinks, though — and call me old-fashioned, but I’m not so sure about using fake tan on the kids!
I’m not great at packing for going on holidays. I find it hard to imagine what I’m going to want to wear at any given time over the course of the trip, and the idea of paring my makeup down to what will fit in a makeup bag (even if it is enormous) breaks me out in hives. What if I want to cover my face in glitter? What if a bold yellow eye suddenly seems like the best look for a given outfit? How can I choose only one foundation to bring? I always overpack.
Were you a White Musk girl? I wasn’t, but oh, how I wanted to be. All the hot girls wore White Musk. When I was 14, nothing spoke louder than White Musk, and here’s what it said: “I am a girl, but I know how to play at being a woman; my hair is the kind that flicks, and falls back into place perfectly every time; I have more than two outfits; I wear a bikini and know how to apply eyeliner; if a guy tries to talk to me, I look him up and down and take a minute before answering; the weekend is coming up, and I have ‘plans’.”
During the great beauty appointment making frenzy of 2021, one of my busiest Whatsapp groups was quiet. “The hairdresser frenzy is very much not my vibe at the moment,” one of my friends texted later that evening. Another friend agreed. “I’m just not ready for normal things.”
‘It’s OK to age’ is my mantra. I’m 47 and I would never dream of hiding my age. I say it loud and proud. So I’m ageing — we all are — but one thing I’d like to change is the outdated marketing term ‘anti-ageing’ — it drives me nuts when I see or hear it being used. I much prefer the term ‘age management’, which is all about working with what you’ve got, rather than fighting it. Now, while watching my face mature is not the most gratifying spectator sport, I am happy in my own skin (literally), and some of the most glamorous people I know are the older women in my life. These women are completely au fait with beauty treatments, products and trends and, on top of it all, know what suits them. I’m more excited to see pictures of actor Julianne Moore, who is 60, or recent Life cover star Sharon Stone, who’s 63, on the front of a magazine than a younger model — because let’s, eh, face it, everyone looks good in their 20s. Of course I have days when I glance in the mirror and I look like my older sister! Well, I don’t have an older sister... but on those days, I just think, “Feck it, I’m so lucky to be alive,” and what we all need is more self-acceptance and self-confidence.
In between the grey days and rainy spells, we’re starting to see bursts of sun, as we inch closer to summer. If you’re looking at the old bottles of suncream on the shelf and considering an upgrade, there are a few key points to keep in mind.
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