Louise McSharry: Rediscover the joy of the beauty counter browse

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When I was a teenager, there was nothing I loved more than a leisurely stroll around the beauty counters. Whether it was a fancy and ambitious place like Brown Thomas or more accessible like the local chemist, I loved being around the beautiful products and wondering if this would be the day I discovered something I really loved. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I love beauty so much. Ever-changing trends and constant innovation mean there’s always something new and exciting around the corner.

At the time we were somewhat limited in what we could access here in Ireland so international wandering was a real dream. Several hours of my vacation were spent at Sephora, Walgreens or a random French pharmacy. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, we can access almost everything in Ireland. The downside is that a lot of my beauty browsing is done online these days.

Last week I visited the new Brown Thomas store in Dundrum town center and was quickly reminded that browsing online isn’t as efficient as doing it in person. The store’s beauty section, called Planet Beauty, is a sailor’s dream. Much less formal than shops in Dublin, Galway and Cork city centre, the counters are open and low to facilitate customers wanting to get their hands on the products. Staff are more casually dressed, and while high-end brands are present (Hourglass, Charlotte Tilbury, Chanel), there are also more affordable brands like Morphe and Kylie Cosmetics.

In my opinion, the most exciting brands for the browser are the brands that have only been available online until now. the Vieve booth will be busy I would say. Beauty influencer Jamie Geneviève’s brand has caused a stir on the internet.

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Vieve Eye Wands, €27, brownthomas.com

Vieve Eye Wands, €27, brownthomas.com

Beauty lovers really appreciate eye wands (27€ via brownthomas.com), creamy shadow sticks that work well on their own or as a base for other eye shadows, and skin dew (25€ through brownthomas.com), a shiny highlighter.

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Vieve Skin Dew, €25, brownthomas.com


Vieve Skin Dew, €25, brownthomas.com

Vieve Skin Dew, €25, brownthomas.com

The luxury brand of makeup artist Gucci Westman Westmann workshop has its own physical stand for the first time in Ireland which is ideal for those who want to feel the products in their hands and get matching colors for Vital Skin Foundation Stick (72€ through brownthomas.com).

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Vital Skin Stick Foundation, €72, brownthomas.com


Vital Skin Stick Foundation, €72, brownthomas.com

Vital Skin Stick Foundation, €72, brownthomas.com

Or see what shade of Baby Cheeks Blush Stick (52€ through brownthomas.com) is best for them.

Video of the day

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Baby Cheeks blush stick, €52, brownthomas.com


Baby Cheeks blush stick, €52, brownthomas.com

Baby Cheeks blush stick, €52, brownthomas.com

When products are this expensive, buying them online is a gamble, so it’s great that Irish customers can now physically access them.

Of course, beauty shopping doesn’t have to be high-end. As well as a walk to the pharmacist which is a pleasant activity for a beauty lover, you can also discover new brands that you may have missed when arriving on our shores. Once upon a time Milanoincluding baked eye shadows (€12.49 via boots.fr) are excellent, were only available online but now can be found in stores.

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Milani blush, €12.49, boots.ie


Milani blush, €12.49, boots.ie

Milani blush, €12.49, boots.ie

Physicians Formula Buttery Bronzers (€16.99 via boots.fr) had been on my international shopping list for a long time, but I was able to get my hands on it last week in Dublin.

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Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer, £16.99, boots.ie


Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer, £16.99, boots.ie

Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer, £16.99, boots.ie

If, like me, it’s been a while since you’ve been to a beauty salon, I highly recommend it. Get involved, sample a few products on your hand, request a few samples (yes, you can request samples). The pandemic has robbed us of a lot, and while physical shopping was only a minor part of it, it was still a waste if it’s something you love. Get out of here and bring him back.

Buy Irish

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Finca Skin Organics Rosacea Serum, fincaskinorganics.com


Finca Skin Organics Rosacea Serum, fincaskinorganics.com

Finca Skin Organics Rosacea Serum, fincaskinorganics.com

Finola Fegan, the founder of Finca Skin Organics, started creating products when she was struggling to find something to ease the discomfort of her rosacea. Fiona’s products, tested by Harley Street dermatologists, are all-natural and plant-based with minimal ingredients, and therefore minimal potential for skin aggravation. The range includes two serums, Soothing Serum 1 (33€) and Soothing Serum 2 (30 €), as well as a Moisturizing Balm (36€), Anti-Redness Base (32€) and a SPF 30 Tinted Moisturizer (30€), fincaskinorganics.com.

Something old…

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Too Face Better Than Sex Volumizing Mascara, €28, boots.ie


Too Face Better Than Sex Volumizing Mascara, €28, boots.ie

Too Face Better Than Sex Volumizing Mascara, €28, boots.ie

Too Face Better Than Sex Volumizing Mascara (28€ via boots.fr) is a classic of the genre. It was launched almost ten years ago and immediately developed a cult following. Aside from the name, which is a bit squeaky if you ask me, it’s a solid volumizing mascara that layers well. If you love old school bristle brushes, this might be the one for you. The brush was designed with the shape of Marilyn Monroe in mind, which again I find a bit creaky, but it works. It distributes the product evenly, grabbing every lash. A tube of it is sold every seven seconds around the world – it’s hard to argue with that!

… Something new

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MACStack mascaras, €28.50 each, arnotts.ie


MACStack mascaras, €28.50 each, arnotts.ie

MACStack mascaras, €28.50 each, arnotts.ie

I’m not a “natural look” girl when it comes to my lashes. I want them to be long and thick and black, which isn’t always easy to achieve because a lot of mascaras start clumping after one or two coats. This cannot be said for the new MAC Mac Stack Mascara (€28.50 through arnotts.ie), which prides itself on its ability to “stack” or be layered. It builds quickly without clumping for defined, high-impact lashes and is available in two brush sizes, mega and micro. I would have liked an even smaller micro brush to get into the lash line and lower lashes, but this is still my new favorite mascara.

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