What are the beauty products that mean the most to Irish women?

Eight Irish women – from Marian Keyes to Ailbhe Smyth – share what is special to them

Marian Keyes, author
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair (from €67 at arnotts.ie)

My mother has used it for about 35 years (and her skin is amazing). In the 1980s, when she didn’t have much spare cash, Dad had to go to the US occasionally for work. He’d buy it for her there because it was much cheaper and he’d always get given a little free gift with samples in it. And the excitement of it all when he’d return! The entire family was interested – and we were bamboozled by the notion of getting something for free. Since then, over the years, my sisters and I have used it. My head is always turned by something new in skincare but I always return to Advanced Night Repair. I trust it, I suppose, to mind my skin, but I also have a sentimental attachment to it.

Louise McSharry, broadcaster and writer
Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Rose (€44 at Brown Thomas)

I bought myself one of these last year when I was trying to replace a limited edition pink blush which had a bit of shimmer in it. I hadn’t owned one since I was around 18 and it was the ultimate makeup status symbol among the girls in school. I love the product itself – it gives you a lovely rosy blush with a glowy sheen, but it also serves as a reminder of how far I’ve come. Now I own the product out of choice and because I love it, not because I’m trying to impress the cool girls in school. These days I don’t really try to impress anyone, and that feels good.


Emma Dabiri, researcher, presenter and author
Rimmel Glam'Eyes Liquid Eyeliner (€7.29 at Boots)

I’ve worn black liquid eyeliner almost every day since I was 14, although my application skills are a lot better now than they were at that age. Most of my makeup tends to be from MAC, but when it comes to eyeliner it’s Rimmel Glam’Eyes all the way – it has a much better applicator than others, even the pricier ones. My mum sold vintage clothes and I had always been into the way 1950s makeup looked, so maybe [my love of liner] came from that, it also just happens to suit the shape of my eyes. Maybe I was just experimenting and though “Ooh that works!”

Samantha Barry, editor-in-chief of Glamour
Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm (€59 for 110g at Marks & Spencer)

I discovered this Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm about eight years ago, and I use it every night to take off my makeup. I also love Charlotte Tilbury’s eye shadows. She knows how to make colours with sparkle and oomph that work on redheads – I’m also a firm believer in regular facials.

Emer Mc Lysaght, writer and co-author of Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling
YonKa Paris Lait Nettoyant Cleansing Milk (€30.50 at millies.ie)

I’m notorious for getting swizzed out of cash for beauty products (take a bow “eye gloss”, which was just Vaseline in a notions pot). I presumed I was being swizzed when a beautician coaxed me into my first ever bottle of YonKa cleanser about 10 years ago but I’ve never looked back. It smells like rich ladies and shiny haired pharmacists and if that doesn’t scream “radiant skin” then I don’t know what does.

Sarah Breen, writer and co-author of Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling
Chanel Vitalumière Foundation (€47 at Brown Thomas)

I was 15 when I saw an ad for Chanel Pro Lumière foundation in a glossy magazine and something in my head clicked. I had to have it, which was extreme notions for a girl growing up in rural Carlow. I dutifully scraped together my shekels and the next time I was in Dublin, marched straight into Brown Thomas and purchased a bottle. Twenty years later I’m still wearing it – actually Pro Lumière was discontinued in 2011 but today’s equivalent, Vitalumière, is close enough). It offers medium coverage with a dewy finish and my loyalty to it knows no bounds. I’ve flirted with other foundations (hi Armani Luminous Silk!) but I think me an Vitalumière, or whatever the next iteration will be called, are for life.

Aoife Martin, writer
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation (€40 at arnotts.ie)

I'm transgender and came to makeup late in the day, so it was very much trial and error. My overriding concern initially was finding a product that would cover beard shadow and not look like it had been put on with a trowel. I used to use Vichy Dermablend, which gives great coverage. Now that I'm post laser treatment, I no longer use Dermablend – nowadays my product of choice is Magic Foundation from Charlotte Tilbury. It's light, covers easily and gives my skin a nice natural glow. It's great for day-to-day wear and that, combined with Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk lipstick, sets me up for the day and gives me the confidence I need to face the world.

Ailbhe Smyth, activist, co-director of Together for Yes Campaign and Convenor of the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment
Cocowel Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (€7.99 for 500ml at Tesco)

My everyday and always beauty saviour is coconut oil. It goes on hair, eyebrows, heels, elbow, hands – anywhere that needs a little tender care and softening up. It’s a gorgeous lip balm – tastes just like a Mikado biscuit. You can put it in a little pot and bring it with you anywhere. And it never fails to do the trick. It’s cheap, you can buy it in the supermarket – and you can cook with it!