Simone Gannon: Three brilliant beauty products for a January pick-me-up

The new Irish Times beauty columnist opens her bathroom cabinet to reveal an assortment of excellent Irish brands, and high and low-end skincare

January is an auspicious time to start writing for The Irish Times; there is nothing quite as exciting as the blank slate of a brand new year, especially when it comes to beauty. It’s an opportunity to make small changes to morning and evening routines, to try interesting new products that don’t cost the earth, and to look after ourselves better. Rather than a “new year, new me” mindset, it’s about new intentions.

Before we delve into products I’m enjoying at the dawn of a new year, let me introduce myself. My name is Simone. I’m 39 and from Galway, but I live in Dublin, and 2024 marks my 14th year writing about beauty, which has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

I have a memory of sitting on my grandmother’s bed when I was about nine years of age, watching her partake in her evening skincare routine – a giant tub of Ponds Cold Cream, applied carefully to her face, neck and chest. A moment for herself, to look good, to feel good.

That’s what beauty is all about. It’s about choosing yourself, on good days, on bad days. It’s the lipstick you reach for when going into battle, the moisturiser you love for soothing stressed skin, and the treatment you book before a special event. And it’s the people you look to for tips and advice to help you feel your best.

That’s what you can expect to find in this column every week. Expert tips, in-depth reviews of the latest products, treatments and experiences, and interviews with the people who create them so you can make the best choices when it comes to beauty.

Those choices don’t always have to be expensive, either. The key is knowing where to spend and where to save and, hopefully, this column will help you do that, no matter your age, product preferences or budget. Some of the treatments I plan to write about are pricey, but others are not. The same goes for products. Some of the best I’ve tried can be found on the shelf of your local pharmacy and cost less than €20.

Which leads me to a mini round-up of some brilliant products I’m currently using that I think you will love. They’re a pretty good example of my preferences when it comes to beauty, too. Open my bathroom cabinet and you’ll find an assortment of excellent Irish brands and high and low-end skincare, along with some old favourites I can’t live without.

I hope you enjoy reading.

The Ordinary Glycolipid Cream Cleanser

€13.40 from cloud10beauty.com

There are excellent affordable cleansers, and then there is Glycolipid Cream Cleanser from The Ordinary.

One of my most-used skincare products last year, this is a cleanser that requires little thought (or spend – it’s less than €14), and yet it delivers in spades.

Formulated with plant-derived glycolipids, this PH-balancing superstar gently and effectively sweeps away make-up and impurities while leaving your skin feeling like it’s wrapped in a calm, hydrating hug. The pleasing gel-cream texture is a joy, too. Light and gentle on the skin, it almost feels like a lotion – with no lathering. Fragrance, alcohol and oil-free, this is a must-try if you have sensitive or reactive skin.

Nars Sheer Glow Foundation

Available in 40 shades. €50 from Brown Thomas

A recent (and admittedly accidental) rediscovery, Nars Sheer Glow is a foundation that has fallen off the radar somewhat, thanks to a deluge of skin-first formulas hitting the market. One of those formulas, and my base of choice for the past two years, is also from Nars: Light Reflecting Foundation. When buying another bottle last month, I realised on my return home that I had actually bought Sheer Glow.

With no time to exchange, I decided to reacquaint myself. Within seconds of application, I was reminded why it hooked all and sundry when launched in 2009. The silky smooth formula delivers soft-focus skin, beautiful medium coverage and an undeniable glow – and it does it effortlessly. What’s more, it stays in place – longevity is something many of the new offerings lack.

Sheer Glow still excels. A classic base option that should never be forgotten.

POCO Beauty Universal Glow Treatment SPF30

€30 from pocobeauty.com

A new launch from Pippa O’Connor Ormond, POCO Beauty is a line that promises “meaningful beauty and intelligent products”. When I heard Lisa Shannon – one of Ireland’s best make-up artists – was at the helm as creative director, I knew it would be good. And it is.

The first product out of the gate is Universal Glow Treatment SPF30, a “radiance boosting skincare infused primer”. This is an impressive formula that manages to do several things at once: provide a buttery smooth base for foundation, add that lit-from-within glow we crave, and act as a beautiful champagne-hued highlight over your foundation of choice. It’s a truly lovely product that elicits an “ooh” on first use (and has been so popular on release that it’s currently out of stock on their website - O’Connor Ormond confirmed on Friday that it will be back on sale on March 1st).

At €30 a tube, it’s affordable, but comparable to formulas from established and significantly more expensive brands. If POCO Beauty continues to launch products of this ilk, the brand has the potential to be one of the most noteworthy to come out of Ireland.

This week I’m visiting... Prada Beauty at Brown Thomas

Encompassing make-up and accessories, skincare, and men’s and women’s fragrances, Prada Beauty has opened a new beauty counter at Brown Thomas on Grafton Street. A range of appealingly named “beauty discovery” appointments are available, including Triangle of Youth, a skin diagnosis and introduction to the brand’s skincare line; Triangle of Light, a colour-matching service for Prada’s Skin Optimizing Foundation; and several more. Discovery appointments are free and booking is available in-store or on brownthomas.com.

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