Buying Irish gifts – and a competition!

Every year I decide I am going to buy Irish, and most years I end up frantically running around British chain stores and just buying things because they are there and I know they’ll “do”.

This year, for two reasons – more time at home with the small chap and less time in the city near actual bricks and mortar shops – I am buying a lot online, but there are great Irish options where you know you’re supporting a small business. The way things have gone this year internationally, and given what we know about large corporations and tax, I figure the extra effort is a small price to pay to ensure some bit of fairness.

It means buying vouchers for local businesses – so far so easy – but also sourcing things like books, electronics and beauty products from Irish vendors. With books and beauty products (though sadly not electronics) it’s reasonably easy to find good options that are actually made in Ireland by Irish companies.

Earlier in the year when I made the switch to more natural products (yes, that’s a very broad term, but bear with me), I found there was a brilliant selection of Irish made skincare products, and now that I’ve started exploring, I’ve kept on finding them. Brands like Voya, Bia Beauty and Human & Kind are pretty well known but new small brands are popping up all over the place and it can be hard to keep up!

In my previous life as a local newspaper editor, I used to get boxes and boxes of stuff sent in from all sorts of beauty companies. I had more salon grade shampoo than you could shake a stick at (I never noticed much of a difference, to be honest), and makeup in every colour of the rainbow… except ones that would suit typical Irish skin.

When I moved into radio, I found that while I missed the near-daily thrill of getting a package (doesn’t everyone love getting packages?), I really enjoyed going back to finding stuff for myself and wearing things I liked and that worked for me, not just those I was going to write about.

But when the ‘beauty box’ phenomenon started, I wondered should I relive the thrill and sign up for one. I didn’t – mainly because most were too expensive for the tiny samples in them – but one has come along that seems to be much better value for money, and ticks all my boxes  in terms of being Irish and fairly low on pharmaceuticals.

Geraldine O’Connor set up in June 2016 to showcase Irish beauty products. It’s a bi-monthly service and costs €29.99 per box, with a total value per box of approximately €100. The products are full sized and each box contains four to five products.

Ger sent me the September box and it arrived about three days after my son was born. This is a good thing – I needed some kind of emergency rescue for my skin when I was getting about two hours sleep a night – but also a bad thing, because it’s taken me until now to blog about it!

I was thrilled to see Karora in there, because I’ve used their products for years, on the rare occasions I do wear fake tan (fellow Irish brand Cocoa Brown has better marketing, but I think they’re equally good), and I really loved the Bia Beauty moisturiser, but the highlight of this box for me was the Blumain Organics geranium and orange facial oil.

After a sleepless night and when you’ve no time to shower (hello baby!), smoothing this on and removing it with a warm facecloth is nearly as good (copious amounts of deodorant and dry shampoo also advisable). I’ve been using it religiously every day since I got it, and I just ordered more direct from Blumain Organics, which I was delighted to find out is a Cork company.


Ger has put some lovely Irish brands together and I wish her great success with the box – it’s a lovely treat and a subscription to this would be a brilliant Christmas gift for the skincare fanatic in your life!

I have a December box to give away to one lucky subscriber… to enter, please ‘like’ my Facebook page Deshocks, the Facebook page, and subscribe to this blog by entering your email address on the top right hand corner of the homepage! I will contact the winner by email to notify them on Monday 19 December so subscribing to the blog is a crucial part of your entry!



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