West coast cool… The ultimate guide to Galway's amazing homegrown beauty offerings
Lots of us who were not lucky to be born in the West of Ireland have a soft spot for Galway and its surrounds. Most of us have very fond memories of teenage summers spent attempting to learn Irish - and steal a first póg! - in the Gaeltacht. And as grown-ups, there have been cultural experiences at the colourful Arts Festival, or profitable excursions to Race Week, where so many of us go clad in our finery each year for Ladies' Day. And, of course, the Oyster Festival is one of the many foodie events that are also a staple of Galway's jam-packed summer schedule.
But Galway is fast making a name for itself in a completely new area: the county is home to a plethora of beauty brands that are creating a buzz in the cosmetics industry. With a concentration on high-quality and natural ingredients - many making good use of the fantastic, nutrient-rich Atlantic seaweed found in abundance on the West coast - Galway's beauty lines are garnering attention both at home and abroad.
For instance, Kinvara Skincare has just won 'best skincare product of 2016 ' for its Absolute Cleansing Oil at the annual Skin Matters awards in London. Kinvara was also awarded a bronze medal in the 'best brand' category at the awards, which celebrate manufacturers who create products that exclude allergens, chemicals, fragrances and artificial additives.
Kinvara is my long-standing favourite natural skincare line, but my top new discovery is the organic and ethical White Witch range from Clarinbridge. They are just two of the six Galway brands that feature in this week's top product recommendations (below). Perhaps with their help, we can all look as good as a Galway girl!
Beautiful Spiddal girl Silé Seoige (pictured) is a yoga instructor, TV and radio presenter who's never afraid to post something naughty. Follow her on Twitter @SileSeoige
Gorgeous Galway girl
This 18-year-old model hails from Galway, but is currently strutting the catwalks of Milan and London for major fashion brands Gucci and Armani. One to watch
Treat vs cheat
YSL Volupte Shine Lipstick in No22, €33, (available from Brown Thomas nationwide).
This gorgeous-tasting, neutral lippy is a beautiful rose/nude tone but a bit punchy in price.
Try instead this more wallet-friendly option - Flormar Cashmere Style Lipstick in Natural Beige, €5.95, (available pharmacies nationwide).
Galway Skincare Goodies…
Made in Connemara from sustainably-collected Atlantic seaweed, this is the neatest, cleanest way to get the benefits from a seaweed bath - minus the slimy mess! Seaweed baths have long proven to improve the appearance of acne, psoriasis, eczema and cellulite. Mungo Murphy's Seaweed Co Sea-Bag, €5.95, mungomurphyseaweed.com
This artisan perfumery, based in Galway, is making waves in the beauty industry as a world-class perfume house. Cloon Keen Atelier is now stocked in Brown Thomas. Check out their amazingly-scented, hand-poured Minted Candle, €40, and their Castana Perfume, €80. Available in Brown Thomas and cloonkeen atelier.com
Galway doctor Joanne Riley combines the healing power of plants with her scientific know-how in this natural skincare line. Kinvara is one of my favourite brands - its Absolute Cleansing Oil has just won best overall product in the Skin Matters annual Free From Awards in London. Check out Kinvara's Capsule Collection includes Absolute Cleansing Oil, 24-Hour Rosehip Face Serum, Active Rosehip Day Cream and Eye Wow! Eye Serum, €105, kinvaraskincare.com
This 100pc natural, PH-balanced, seaweed-based body cream is deeply nourishing for dry skin and is especially brilliant for hard-working hands. Made in Spiddal, this is a little gem of a natural beauty balm. Rí na Mara Toning Body Cream for dry skin, €14.95, available at chemists and health food shops and rinamara.com
Galway-based family the Mulrooneys have been combining nutrient-rich seaweed and science (both sisters are qualified dermatologists) for decades now, resulting in one of Galway's most respected homegrown skincare lines. Try their Supernutrient Radiance Serum, €57.50, under your moisturiser. Available from health food stores nationwide and seavite.ie
This very small line of handmade, bespoke, organic skincare is made with a lot of love and effort - every item is made from wholly wild ingredients. The collection is made by a collective of doctors and artists in Connemara. Their very strong ethical, sustainable ethos means no plastic is used in their packaging, so their sandalwood skin conditioner hero product comes in a glass bottle with a cork stopper. Gorgeous! White Witch Sandalwood, Orange and Coconut Skin Conditioner, €19.50 whitewitch.ie