Discovering Arbonne

As much as I love trying new products from my already favourite brands, it’s always a little more exciting to discover a brand that’s completely new to me. I was contacted by a friend of mine, who works as an Independent Consultant with Arbonne International in the UK. You may have heard of this brand, as it has been around for over 30 years, but for me, it was my first introduction to it. The name Arbonne comes from a village in Switzerland and has become to mean ‘beautiful tree’. While it is already hugely popular in Australia, the UK, the USA and Australia. it’s already on the cusp of being discovered by the rest of the world.

Arbonne has a skincare range as well as a cosmetics line and nutrition range – all of which are vegan certified, botanically based, gluten free, hypo-allergenic and adhere to strict Swiss guidelines. Plus, it’s animal-friendly too. When talking to my friend, she convinced me to try the brand after telling me that for years she had searched for natural beauty products that really made a difference to her, and finally she had. With this first hand advice, it didn’t take long to persuade me to give them a go!

This recommendation in itself is proof that the brand doesn’t live by the usual cosmetic brand rules – it isn’t sold in shops or salons but relies its growth entirely on word of mouth and is sold online or through the brand’s Independent Consultants worldwide. This way, Arbonne manages to keep its high-quality products at reasonable prices so everyone can enjoy them. So after trying out some of their products myself, I’m staying true to its ethos and sharing my experience with you too. Which, I must admit, has been a really positive one…


Sample sizes of FC5

Sample sizes of FC5


FC5 – Normal/Dry Skincare Range

I’m always a little nervous trying new skincare products as even though I have quite normal skin, it can be sensitive and often resists a change of skincare brands. On this occasion however, Arbonne surprised me (and my skin) in a good way. I always want to try a new product for a certain amount of time before I review it on the blog but with these sample sizes, I managed to try it for two weeks and so got a good feel for the products. My skin reacted quite well to the products and I honestly felt – and saw – the effects almost immediately, with my skin looking dewy and moisturised, something that lasted throughout the day. The nurturing day lotion comes with SPF 20, which is great as it saves you putting a layer of SPF under your moisturiser. The day lotion leaves no oily residue on the skin and sinks into the face just minutes after applying. What I found great about this moisturiser was that I didn’t feel the need for a primer before applying make-up. My make up looked dewy and fresh when applied over this moisturiser and it lasted longer throughout the day too. The lotion feels really soft when applied and has a really fresh, fruity fragrance.

The range also includes a hydrating eye cream that I applied along with the day cream every morning, and a hydrating cleanser and freshener which I used to remove my make-up in the evening. This one was great, I love a cleanser that works well with warm water and my skin didn’t feel the usual tightness it often would after cleansing. My skin felt so fresh following this product and I wish I hadn’t finished the sample so soon! Finally this skincare line also includes a moisturising night cream. Again the scent from this cream was so gorgeous and it was quite a relaxing one which was perfect for night time. Although quite thick when it first is applied to the skin, the cream is actually quite a light-weight formula which soaked right up and somehow manages to ensure your skin is still soft and moisturised in the morning.

I love a skincare line that works well with your make up and skin and I would really consider investing in full sizes of these products as I felt my sin reacted well to this new brand and I felt my skin looked healthier even in just the couple of weeks I tried them out.

The FC5 range also features an ultra-hydrating hand cream, which has a firm place in my hand bag at the moment! The cream has fresh kiwi cell extracts and smells and feels gorgeously soft and refreshing. Unlike most hand creams, once it dries in, it’s dry. There’s no room for oily residue which is handy when you type for a living!

Sally kindly sent me over some samples from Arbonne’s RE9 skincare line, which focuses more on anti-ageing which my mum is busy trying out at the moment! I’ll be posting a review from her soon so keep an eye out for that!


Featuring all the important factors from its skincare lines, Arbonne also has a cosmetics line which I had the pleasure of sampling too. This includes everything from perfecting liquid foundation (with SPF 15) and make-up primers to lip polish and tinted moisturiser. The primer I loved, although I wish I could have tried it out for a little longer! With just a sample to try, I decided to give it the ultimate test – a day in the office – and, after applying it over my Arbonne moisturiser and under both my usual foundation, and my Arbonne sample, I was really impressed by its staying power. The primer has a really calming scent and glides on so easily, making the skin the perfect base for applying make-up. Although my skin still managed to look dewy throughout the day, it didn’t fall and I got a lot longer out of my make-up than I would on a normal no-primer day at the office.

The liquid foundation comes in a range of colours, with one bound to suit all skin shades, and although I liked the tinted moisturiser (which also features SPF 15), the foundation won out for me, especially when used with the primer.

I had a few samples of the lip polishes to try, each easily applied with a lip brush and my two favourites were by far Posh/Chic (love the name!) and the Nude shade, which is really on trend at the moment.



Arbonne Get The Look: Smoky Eye Palette

Arbonne Get The Look: Smoky Eye Palette

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Arbonne also features eye shadow palettes as part of its cosmetics line and I was lucky enough to try and test their Smoky Eye Set. This includes a gorgeous lengthening mascara (ideal for a dramatic lash effect), an eyeshadow duo in chocolate and suede shades, as well as a gentle, non-stinging eye make-up remover. One sweep of this with some cotton wool across the eye and the make-up glided off. The dream! This eye make-up remover was a favourite of mine as I loved the moisturised feeling left on the skin after cleansing – ideal for delicate skin!

The eye shadow duo also went down really well. These colours were just my style – I have a bit of an obsession with browns and creams and although I normally need to apply quite a lot of colour when creating a smoky eye on myself, these shades were really heavily pigmented which meant less went a lot further. The eyeshadows are mineral infused, they’re really easy to blend and, most importantly, they’re long wearing.

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For more information on Arbonne products, or to check out their extensive product range, visit


Depop Discovery

So I have discovered a lovely little app that I have become a little bit obsessed with. It’s called Depop and it’s full of gorgeous treasures! I’m there and I’m selling my pre-loved and unworn wardrobe staples along with some brand new beauty bargains. Please follow me and say hi too so I can find you and follow 🙂

Search: @blushbanter on Depop. 💜✌️ Natalie x

Q&A session: With Primavera Beauty


Throughout this week, I’ve been chatting a lot about Bielenda, a new skincare range to be introduced to Ireland.

Primavera Beauty, the official and exclusive distributor of the range in Ireland, celebrated its first birthday just a few weeks ago and until now, has been offering only professional beauty products. But they reckon it’s the perfect time to introduce their retail product range here too and so to round up my recent blog posts, I stole five minutes of Sylwia Chlebowska’s time to talk about her beauty regime, the importance of anti-ageing products and how much water we should be drinking daily!


What’s your anti-ageing mantra?

I believe the secret is in the combination of balanced diet, proper sleep, exercise, right daily skincare regime supported by professional treatments at recommended beauty salons.

I know that’s not an easy one to achieve when you work full-time, have kids, a home to look after and the day is only 24 hours long, but it’s well worth the effort as the results will be amazing.

At this point of my life treatments and skincare products containing Mandelic Acid as well as micro-needling work best for me and it’s my biggest discovery in the recent years.

Once a year, during Autumn, I get a series of treatments that involve both the Mandelic Peel and Micro-needle – it gives fantastic comprehensive, instant and long term results. The difference in tone and pigmentation after being treated is amazing, break-outs are reduced and pores less visible – that’s how chemical peels work. The micro-needling will lift your skin and smooth fine lines and wrinkles, acne scars are getting less visible. Maybe the treatment is little bit painful but no pain no gain ladies, we know that well don’t we?

What does your daily skincare regime involve?

My skin wouldn’t be the easiest to deal with since I have combination skin with occasional break outs, spider veins and as I’ve passed the magic 30 J also first mimic wrinkles.

As you can see it’s quite a busy list but thanks to the modern skincare products that help me to keep the skin in relatively good shape.

In the mornings it’s usually (due to time constraintsJ ) just a quick use of cleansing foaming gel, toner and light moisturising face cream with hyaluronic acid and SPF15. During sunny days I use face cream with SPF50.

The evening skincare regime starts with eye make-up remover and cleansing foaming gel, then I apply toner, serum and face cream that contain Mandelic Acid.

Once a week I do what my husband calls a “Beauty Day”, it’s not exactly a day, but about three hours when I apply face and body scrubs, masks and give myself a manicure – in general it’s time for me to relax and spoil myself a little bit.

We hear conflicting views on how much water we should drink regularly, how much is enough for our skin’s needs?

I think it all depends on what lifestyle you have and what weather conditions you are living in. For example if you are very active and do a lot exercise or when it’s hot then you need more liquids, preferably water.

Six glasses which is 1.5l of liquids per day is the minimum but that can be water, green tea, coffee. On top of that we are also getting water from food we eat. Remember that when you feel thirsty your body is begging for water and you should avoid getting to that point.

If you don’t provide the required level of liquids to your body, your skin will reflect that. It will get very dry, flaky and the fine lines will be more visible.


What age should we start thinking about using anti-ageing products on our skin?

My personal view is the earlier the better. People often don’t understand what anti-ageing is all about and what it means at each stage of our life.

When you are in your twenties anti-ageing means using a good moisturising creams with protecting filters against UVA and UVB rays. I know that at this stage of your life, when wrinkles seem like an absurd concern, that’s exactly the time when you decide through the right skincare how your skin will look like in the future. The sun damage that you make when you are young will be visible after 10 years and that’s something you won’t be able to fix.

Then when you start seeing the first mimic wrinkles, you should start introducing some active ingredients like Hyaluronic, Mandelic, Glycolic and Lactobionic Acid, Collagen and others- all of them will help you delay the deep wrinkles. Also, you can’t forget about the sun protecting products, you can pick from a big range of creams and foundations that contain protecting filters.

For mature skin with deep wrinkles, anti-ageing will mean using skincare products with ingredients like Retinols, Colloidal Gold, Caviar, Diamond and Pearl. They will help you out to rejuvenate, bright up and lift your skin as well as smooth the wrinkles.

What are the most important ingredients to consider when choosing the right skincare?

I would say that we should look for active ingredients and how much of them you can find in a Product you are looking at. The active ingredients are the ones that can work for your skin in the way it’s needed. For example retinol would be something you are looking for mature skin but if there is only 0.1% of retinol in the face cream you are looking at, will that product meet your expectation? I don’t think so.

I also think it’s worth mentioning what ingredients we should avoid. For example a high %age  of Alcohol in Skincare products is NO. There is this perception that skincare products for acne prone skin should be based on alcohol – it’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make and by using them you are just one step away from the disaster.

Everyone has different skin types. For those of us who are unsure what skin type we are, how do we find out what type of skin we have?

It’s a very good question, that’s exactly where you start with your skincare and once you find your skin type you are half way to having beautiful skin.

You need to remember that there is a small percentage of people that have only dry, normal, oily or combination skin. Usually it’s a mix of different types which make things that little bit more complicated but not impossible to manage. Also, women’s skin can change during the month due to hormones and perhaps change from normal to oily.

It’s crucial that you observe your skin and see what triggers the changes: like hormones, weather, food, (Did you know that milk is one of the main causes for acne?), stress etc. Once you have that knowledge you can start finding out the actual type of skin you have. There is a lot of on-line self-assessment questioners that you could use but I would recommend to go to qualified beautician and ask for skin mapping. Usually you can get it for free with a beauty treatment. You will be asked couple of questions (your observations will be needed here) and then the beautician will remove your make-up and have a proper look at your skin under a special lamp. The mapping will identify what type/types of skin you have and what treatments and products you should be using. We have a list of beauty salons that do free skin mapping and we can assist with some recommendations.

What are the latest trends in Beauty industry?

Definitely the biggest trend of the last decade is for the retail skincare products to move towards the products that are used in beauty salons. High concentrations of the active ingredients and DIY Beauty Treatment Kits is the combination that allows us to perform effective Beauty Treatments at home. Using them in conjunction with regular visits to your beauty salons will ensure spectacular and long term results.


For more information, see

So where can we buy the products?

Sylvia says,The project is still quite new and you are one of the first to know about the Brand presence in Ireland.

The first Products are now available in our Ebay Store and more are being added as we speak. In the middle of September all the products will be also available in our on-line Store and we are hoping that by the end of this year, you will see the products in pharmacies nationwide.”

In the meantime, see Bielenda Skincare Ireland on Facebook.

New: MAC nail lacquers get a make-over!



MAC is infamous for its make-up but what it has always offered, albeit on a bit of a quieter note, is its nail lacquers. Come September, this will all change for the better. MAC are reformulating their nail lacquers and have given them some major TLC and will launch their new collection next month.

The lacquers will have a gel-like consistency, more flexibility and a denser pigment, which means that just one layer of the lacquer will give plenty of wearable colour to your nails.

The lacquers will also feature a flatter brush, making application an easier process and according to MAC experts, the less layers you wear, the more long lasting the colour will be.

There will be a total of 90 colours in the new nail lacquer range, and all 90 will be available before the end of the year.

So where has the inspiration behind this sudden makeover come from? MAC has teamed up with celebrity nail technician Marian Newman, a woman who is more often than not located behind the scenes at the biggest fashion shows putting finishing touches to the catwalk’s nails. She will have four nail colours in the new MAC AW14 collection.

And the best part? MAC is reducing the price of its lacquers, meaning we can pick up a brand new bottle come September for just €10. Well worth a purchase to see what all the fuss is about I reckon!


MAC nail colours

MAC Nail Lacquers as we know them now!

We’re on Facebook!

I say we, and I mean me. Blush and Banter is up on Facebook – purely so that I can let people who want to read the blog know when there is a new blog post up and I don’t have to annoy people who have no interest in fashion and beauty and reading my ramblings! 

For updates, please follow Blush and Banter on Facebook here.

Thanks guys,

N x

Jessica Nails: In Bloom

JESSICA Nails In Bloom Summer Collection 2014

I’ve been working hard to bring my own nails back to good health in recent months, following a few years on a bender with gel nails, which unfortunately were preceded by a long stint of acrylic nails. A bit prehistoric I know, but even since then, it has seriously taken my nails years to recover.

I also dabbled a bit in shellac, which I still love, but with my nails naturally being quite weak and brittle, I’ve discovered that the best thing for my own nails is to make the most of them just as they are.

Having brittle nails means that nail colours chip much sooner than they should and being able to do a DIY job at home is crucial. That’s why I love when I find a nail colour that I love and can count on.

Enter Jessica Nails.

I’ve only used Jessica Nails when getting manicures in salons, but I tried two colours from Jessica Nails’ most recent summer collection recently and already want to build my Jessica collection at home.

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Jessica Vartoughian is the master behind Jessica Nails, and when I found out that she was the first person to ever open a ‘nails only salon’ in the world, as well as being the woman responsible for inventing the French Manicure in 1979 (thanks for that, by the way), I discovered an even bigger fondness for the brand.

It’s already loved by tons of celebs and used in the majority of nail salons the world over, and Jessica Nails just launched its ‘In Bloom’ collection for Summer 2014.

The collection is made up of six garden-inspired colours, ranging from soft blues and lilacs to a subtle mint green.

I first tried the bold blue called ‘Longing’, and loved the deep shade. Dark colours are great for making shorter nails appear longer while waiting for them to grow, and this particular blue was perfect for making a statement.

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I fell in love with this particular shade; ‘Loving’, a warm pink colour that is perfect for adding a touch of elegance and femininity without being too ‘pink’. It’s the type of colour that you could wear all year round and ideal for taking a more subtle approach to a special occasion.

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The next colour on my must-try list is the ‘Whispering’ Mint Green. Let me know if you decide to try and what you think!

Each colour in the collection is priced at just €12.95 and is available to buy at salons nationwide, or online at

Keep an eye out for my tips for strengthening nails later this week!




Ode to Juicy


Gabby Solis rocked the Juicy look on Wisteria Lane


It’s the end of a velour-tracksuit era and after news broke earlier this week that Juicy Couture could be closing its designer doors, former teens the world over have started mourning their cloth tracksuit days. Chances are we wouldn’t be caught dead in one nowadays anyway, but it’s the idea that these iconic loungies will be no more that has got us all whinging. In fact, if you haven’t parted with your Juicy tracksuit bottoms just yet, hold on to them as they’re bound to be worth a few bob in a few years when they’re considered ‘vintage’ and extinct.

While it wasn’t always an authentic Juicy tracksuit that made the cut on the streets in Ireland, the brand certainly set a trend during the noughties that is hard to forget. I reckon the photographic evidence will haunt us all some time in the future.

So with a nod towards Gabrielle Solis and her Desperate Housewives wardrobe, I thought I’d take a few minutes to remember the tracksuit and a throwback to its not-so-trendy days on the Irish fashion scene.

You were Irish and rocking a Juicy tracksuit if…

1. At any stage you accessorised with a) a classy pair of hoop earrings, or b) a pair of Ugg boots.

2. You wore this tracksuit for anything but exercise. It was deemed acceptable for a trip to a shopping centre, a walk with your friends after school or your chosen outfit for non-uniform day.

3. You could only afford the fake Juicy tracksuit. In fact it was rare that the rhinestones adorned across the velour-bum were genuine.

4. If that fake Juicy tracksuit was paired with a pair of fake Uggs (aka fuggs).

5. If that fake Juicy tracksuit was paired with a pair of fuggs that started bending in on the inner heel. What was with that?

6. If your Juicy tracksuit bottoms were too long, dragged along the ground and had multiple holes in them.

7. If you wore the tracksuit top two sizes too small, so that your midriff would show. I have reason to believe the introduction of the ‘muffin top’ phrase coincided with our velour  tracksuit obsession.

8. If you still have that trusty tracksuit buried at the back of your wardrobe “just in case”.

Tesco Summer Shots

If you liked yesterday’s post on the gorgeous F&F summer collection, you’ll like it even more after you take a peek at these pics. They are a little more professional than my amateur Instagram-style shots, and I love some of the styling. Check them out!


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6 ways to get that summer feeling!

I’ve decided that I quite like April. The evenings are finally stretching that bit longer meaning that we can actually still have a bit of a life after the long, hard day’s slog; people are dusting off the lawn mowers and resurrecting their summer wardrobes; and almost everyone is in good form. The vitamin-D inspired endorphins don’t always last very long, so we’ll make the most of them while we can. While we wait for the sun to come and stay for keeps, there are plenty of ways to get that summer feeling!

1. Get your nails done at Tropical Popical. It’s affordable, quirky and the mani’s are great. Not to mention that it’s summer all the time here. Tropical Popical also feature a Disco Bar at weekends, where you can get disco-ready with their dry bar and make-up artist. And best of all, you can sip on a coconut full of lilt while you wait!

Check it out: Tropical Popical, 28 South William Street.


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2. Go on a picnic.
My other half doesn’t know it yet but the next sunny day that doesn’t involve either of us having to work will be my first 
picnic of the season. He bought me a picnic basket for Christmas and I’ve yet to use it! It’s pink, comes with its own cutlery (and wine glasses) and it’s made from wicker. I know, it’s the real deal. How cute will I be? Just need a matching blanket now. And maybe some singing birds in the background, if it’s not too much to ask for. 

3. Start wearing your sunglasses everywhere. Outdoors and in. On the bus or just cruising around. Even if tomorrow is a dull day, summer is all about choosing fashion over rationality. In fact, go and buy yourself a new pair! You deserve it. 🙂

4. Invest in a totally new shade of lipstick. My sights are set on a bright orange. It might seem like a scary shade and applied carelessly there’s a chance it could look like you’ve drank too much orange soda, but with the help of a pretty coral lip liner, it can turn out fabulously! I have it sitting patiently on my must buy list. My eye is on the Make Up For Ever (no surprise there) coral aqua lip liner and orange lipstick…

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5. Choose your favourite summer smells and start indulging in them. Sun lotion, freshly cut grass and happiness. Apply some sun lotion even if you’re not heading away – it’s good for you to apply SPF daily anyway, plus it smells like the beach. It’s a win win situation!

6. Get a 99. I say that in all selflessness as I’m not a fan of ice cream but I know an Irish summer wouldn’t exist without the classic cone. If you’re an oddball, like me, pick up a loop the loop instead.

Hang on in there, summer’s a comin’!