TOP 5 . . . NO, REALLY . . .

You know what it’s like someimes when you read the beauty section of your favourite magazine. There’s always new products brusting from the page with enticing promises and blurbs that hype you up into believing that if you don’t get this product today that you may blame yourself for being the only wrinkly, lack-lustre, tired, saggy chick left on the block.

You know what it’s like someimes when you read the beauty section of your favourite magazine. There’s always new products brusting from the page with enticing promises and blurbs that hype you up into believing that if you don’t get this product today that you may blame yourself for being the only wrinkly, lack-lustre, tired, saggy chick left on the block.

Now if you’re desired product is affordable then you don’t mind giving it a spin but if you splash one hundred euro on a moisturiser you do more than cross your fingers that it will live up to the hype…

The trouble is…like most things… what suits one person may not rock your world. And, sometimes, all the science and rattle just doesn’t translate onto your face. But…sometimes, you actually find a gem that works!

As my favourite moisturiser has been discontinued (why?!! – there were at least three of us using it!) I dreaded looking for a new brand that wouldn’t flare up my sensitive skin. I’ve even resorted to using the body lotion in the same range until I pluck up the courage to try something else! You could say I’m doing some research first.

I was relaying my worries to my friend Orla in Health Express in MacDonagh Junction, and we were both fantasising at how it would be fabulous if each shopjust did a “TOP 5”. You know, the 5 that actually work…we know, because we’ve actually tried them ourselves products..

Rather than some smooth eighteen year old tripping off how the new anti-aging cream changed her life, just once,I’d like to hear someone say…”Well, it’s okay but… have you seen this…it really works!”. We both had a giggle about it.

The girls in Health Express have always been more than tolerant of me as I have traipsed many groups of students through the store so they could try on products first hand rather than take my word for it. I passed through a few days later and Orla had a lovely package for me. “Karen”, she says,”here’s our top five, let me know if they do what they say on the tin”.

Seriously! OMG – I didn’t know what to say…no pressure then! She didn’t even try to sway me with the usual pr blurb…she definitely had taken my suggestion literally!

Slightly chuffed, I brought my parcel home and looked at it on the kitchen table. As the rest of the crew came home my perfect sellophaned parcel was pulled apart. “What’s that…that’s mine…I’ll take that”, I wasn’t left with much! They were told that they were on a mission, and had to report back on each product. My little fella took the task in hand very seriously as he followed me to the bathroom.

One of the fab five was ‘Moo Goo Cleansing Oil’. Now, I have had my eye on this range for weeks and was waiting until I heard some feedback before plunging. It is designed by an Australian company and with it’s quirky (but,no-nonsense) packaging and blurb – I was definitely curious. It is aimed at those who like natural products (no parabens etc.) and has a fantastic range for acne, ecqema, psoriasis etc. As I wondered did I need the grief of a breakout my liitle guy was already smathering it all over his face. What the heck, I gave it a go. It actually couldn’t be easier to use.A few drops massaged gently onto the face (even over make-up) and a damp warm facecloth to take off. Boy…did this work!

I was actually gobsmacked at how well it cleansed all my eye makeup off first wipe and it felt good on my dry skin but didn’t leave any residue. Also,my irritable itchy skin didn’t even flinch. Even though it had some lovely smelly essential oils in it that would usually be a red flag to me.

I was so impressed with this that I have since bought the moisturiser and can say I’m genuinely hooked. We’ll definitely have to explore the full range in the future.

Next on my list was the Roger and Gallet brand that I have heard of before. This range of sophisticated bath oils, gels, lotions,candles etc. is all about luxury and fragrance. It is exactly what you would expect from this Parisian company.

I had some gorgeous Ginger, Orange and Honey products that we all tried out. After locating them in my daughter’s room that is! They are, as expected, really gorgeous products. They would be the perfect gift for someone instead of all those nasty lavender soaps and washes packs that we all cringe when we get. I would definitely buy myself the candles and room deodorisers as the scents are pure and unfussy and basically nothing offensive going on. If you want to smell like you stepped from a luxury French parlour then this is one to try. And, at surprisingly good prices.

Sticking on the smelly theme, there was a great big jar of Kneipp’s Mineral Bath Salt. Now, I havn’t had a bath in ages so this was the perfect excuse…for research purposes of course! I decided to not look up any of the blurb and try first, read later. Three large capfuls went into a large warm bath – “Kids, Mammy is working… I’ll be out in an hour”.

The bath was a murky colour,which in itself is a good thing,it hides a multitude. The scent was fabulous, it was definitley a natural product.Red Poppy and Hemp,it had to be good for me! After a healthy twenty minute soak (and a few snores) I was super chilled. “Sorry kids..Mammy has to go to bed now!”.

With other products in the range for soothing muscles, bath oils, and skin products I could see how this range was so popular. This is defintiely one for the guys too, and I especially loved it’s masculine packaging. There’s a genuinely great back story to the range too. Check it out on Google.

At this stage,I was beginning to feel a bit like Mel Gibson that movie “What Women Want”. Trying everything out with enthusiasm and an open mind.

As I carefully read the instructions for the Sally Hansen Salon Effects Polish Strips my savvy daughter pushed in and showed me how it was done….em…on her nails that is! “Mom, seriously,I will test them better than you will!”. She was right! These girls of a certain age are all about the nails at the moment. I watched in awe as deftly slipped on each one. She even allowed me to try one on. They were a gorgeous gold sparkle but without the bumps. I can definitely see the appeal of these, as it’s a foolproof way to have sleek salon perfect nails without the grief. They lasted absolutely ages, with no chips. We’ve tried some of the very cheap brands and they just can’t compare. A no-brainer and we’ve bought some more since.

Number four and a half is the new range of nail polishes from OPI by Nicki Minag. All I’ll say to you is this, if you don’t know who she is then this is not for you. It’s fabulous neon, popcorn pink and sparkle shades are super trendy but with the intense quality that is expected from OPI. Less coats, less waste. The girls lurved these…

With all our purses on the tight side (strangled, more likely!) a perfume is pure indulgence. My heart gave a little leap when I glimpsed the new Escada perfume at the back of my package. It’s pretty pink packaging scared me a little at first though. Was it going to be sickly sweet? The big test is always will my hubby like it. Anything overpowering or acidic gets him sneezing but he even complimented this one. It definitley has rose notes but has a warmth to it that takes the floral edge off. Perfect for a feminine with undertones type of girl. I know… that’s probably not what they marketed it as, but that’s just my take on it. My little super hero also gave it the thumbs up as I spotted him using the lid as an X-Men badge on his belt later on….

What Orla didn’t know is that I had found a few of my own top hits in Health Express earlier that week and also had a sneaky check on the prices of my new lust items. I had decided to treat myself to the new Andrew Barton shampoo and conditioner. Well, it was the same price as Pantene so why not. I’m hooked for sure. First time I used it I slathered on the usual palmfull of shampoo but it was way too much – this lathers really easily and so you don’t need as much – even better for the pocket. It might have been my imagination but,I thought my locks looked luscious and smelt exotic too. Luxe without the credit card, I will be including this in all my girlfriends birthday gifts in future.

I also invested a whole tenner in a ‘Tangle Teaser”comb. All I can say,to my daughter especially, is that I am so sorry for pulling at your hair for all these years.This was amazing! I kid you not, I have bought another one since…just in case! If you don’t have long thick tresses then you can’t imagine the dread of combing wet tangled hair. My hairdresser need physio after each ‘do’!

I completely rate this product, especially for children who hate having their hair done.

I have been converted to some of these porducts and they’ll be on my shopping list from now on.Thankfully, the most expensive product was the perfume and everything else was in the price range of five euro to twenty five euro. Phew, I can manage that….high maintenance on a shoestring….