Recently I had a weeklong work trip to Cork, Ireland. Besides being an amazing opportunity to see a new place, try some new food, and get a sense of another culture, I figured it would also be an opportunity to check out some Irish and UK-based beauty brands. I had a little bit of knowledge of some indie brands from the UK, but I wasn’t sure what kinds of brands might be based in Ireland, so I started searching on YouTube and I found a makeup artist from Cork, Christine O’Connor, and watched a couple of her videos and then stalked her down on her Instagram. I promise you, I was less lurky and creepy than I’m making it sound. I DMed her, and she wrote back with three specific Irish brands that she recommended: Fuschia Makeup, Luna by Lisa Jordan, and Blank Canvas Cosmetics.
I got into Cork on Saturday evening, so I got settled in the hotel and left my shopping adventures for the next day. I decided to start my adventures in Debenhams, a UK-based department store.
When I started looking around in Debehams, things were feeling really…familiar. They had an extensive beauty area, located right at the front of the store, but it was pretty much all US brands that you find in Sephora or Ulta: Too Faced, Kat Von D, Lancome, etc. I’m not sure if this is true, but I heard before I left that Debenhams is going to be closing all of their stores in Ireland – not sure if that’s true, but sad news for lovers of US makeup brands in Ireland! I bought a couple of discontinued products that were on discount at the Kat Von D counter (I love that Lock-It Brightening Powder!), and I asked the woman working if they carried any Irish brands. She said that for those, you mostly have to check out neighborhood pharmacies; since Debenhams is headquartered in the UK, it’s harder for smaller, indie brands to break in. With that, my tour of Irish pharmacies began!
I’m not sure why, but there are a lot of pharmacies in Ireland. Like, a lot. And with the exception of a big UK chain like Boots, they all carry different things. I looked up the Stockist information for both Fuschia Makeup and Luna by Lisa Jordan on their websites, and started plotting out trips.
Luna by Lisa Jordan was the easiest to find, and I tracked it down at the Blackpool late night pharmacy (“late night” apparently means 9:30, compared to the usual closing time of 6 or 7 for most pharmacies during the week). There was a face palette that was almost 50 Euro that was pretty basic, and I wasn’t really that interested, but I did get two of her lip kits.
The more nude, mauve kind of shade is called Morganite and the bright, orangey red is called Ruby Flame. Each kit comes with a bullet lipstick and a matching lipliner. The formula is creamy and opaque and it felt really nice when I put it on my lips. The liners are basic wood liners, nothing really special, but the color is nice and they are a good match to the lipsticks. There were only 4 shade options that I could find for these kits, and they tend to be pretty neutral, but I like the formula and wouldn’t definitely be willing to pick more up if I saw them in an expanded range of colors.
L to R: Ruby Flame lipstick and liner, Morganite lipstick and liner
I didn’t know anything about Lisa Jordan before picking these up, but when I mentioned it to the woman at the Kat Von D counter, she said that she’s “a real brain melter” but had heard that the makeup was good. She’s apparently a makeup and fashion blogger and a makeup artist, operates the website Just Jordan. I poked around a little on her site and it wasn’t anything I was terribly interested in, but she seems to have a fairly big following. If I find anything that melts my brain, I’ll be sure to post an update!
Now for my trek to find Fuschia Makeup.
Apparently, when you’re talking about Cork, Ireland, there are two different things you might be referring to: Cork, the city proper, and county Cork, which also includes a number of smaller villages. As I was trying to use the map on the Fuschia website to find pharmacies that carried the products, I kept finding locations that had names that sounded like something in the city of Cork, but then the taxi would take me there and they wouldn’t have anything. Looking into it further, it turned out that it was a location with a similar name, but in a different village in county Cork. This happened quite a few times, and I had almost given up when I struck up a conversation about a pharmacy in Kinsale (after he had taken me to a different pharmacy in Cork that happened to be located on Kinsale Road). He mentioned that it was a lovely town along the coast with lots of sights and shops, and since I had given myself a “free day” before flying back, I decided to check it out. Finally, after many false starts, I found the Kinsale Pharmacy in Kinsale, where they stocked Fuschia Makeup…sort of.
When I walked in, I was so excited to see that there was a small table that had the Fuschia logo on it…and a totally different brand sitting on top! I looked around the whole store, and I couldn’t see any of the products. I hadn’t come all of that way to accept defeat easily, so I asked the clerk who told me that they were actually phasing it out; she still had some stock, but it was all in drawers in the display table. For a couple of awkward minutes, she rummaged through drawers of testers and some unopened stock in plastic bags; I had been hoping to find the Erotic palette, a 7-pan palette with a sort of purple/berry/blue color story, but the only palette she had that wasn’t a tester was one called the Nudes:
Now, we all know how I feel about basic nude and neutral palettes. But I had come halfway across the world, dammit, and I was coming home with a palette! I figured I could try out the formula, and if I liked it I could place an order for the Erotic palette on the website later. I also picked up a bullet lipstick in the shade Raspberry Freeze, a nice deep berry shimmer lipstick, but I didn’t swatch it for this post. If you want to see it, let me know in the comments below, and maybe it will show up in a video in the future!
I followed my usual swatching process: the left swatch is a finger swatch with a brush swatch on the right, and they are done over the OMFG face primer. The top photo is studio lighting with no flash, and the bottom photo is the same lighting with a flash. Here are the swatches:
L to R: Barely There, Sandstone, Sandpiper, Goldilocks, Nu Beige, Chinchilla, Toffee
I liked that the palette was magnetic; I’m planning to keep mine intact for now, but as it is sort of an odd size/shape, it’s nice to know that I can easily pop the shades out and move them to an empty palette of my choosing. However, when I was testing out how easy it would be to pop them out, I randomly popped out the shade labeled Nu Beige, but the sticker on the bottom of the shade actually said Brazilian Bronze. I’m not sure if it’s a shade they recycled for this palette, or if the wrong shade got put in, but I thought that was a little odd. I decided to pop out the other shades to see if they matched and found that Barely There was labeled as Sand-N-Surf, Sandstone was labeled as Sugar Cane, and Sandpiper was labeled as Bisque. Goldilocks, Chinchilla, and Toffee had the same names labeled on the bottom as was shown on the palette. I’m not sure what happened and I may reach out to the brand for clarification, but the palette was pretty clearly untouched in the pharmacy, so I was comfortable that it wasn’t something that had been messed with after being shipped out to the retailer (unless they were meticulously careful!). When discussing the swatches, I’ll use the names printed on the palette.
Anyway, Barely There is a bone colored matte shadow, probably my least favorite. It was fairly dry and a little chalky, but you could build it up decently. It was the least performing of the matte shades, but it wasn’t terrible. Sandstone is a beige with silver glitter, a little bit messy when applying but generally nice coverage. Sandpiper is a bright creamy champagne shimmer, a little thin with the brush, but would probably pack on nicely over a tackier primer or with a wet brush as the finger swatch had much more depth. Goldilocks and Nu Beige are both brazzy bronze/golds, and I would have preferred a different shade for one of them; they both perform the same in terms of quality and opacity, and Goldilocks is just a touch darker in tone than Nu Beige. Chinchilla is a matte, cool-toned coca brown, good pigment and blends easily. Toffee is a nice enough chocolate brown, a little boring, and it did tend to grip the primer more than I would like, but I’m sure I can make this work with a little effort.
I’m definitely thinking about placing an order with the brand’s website; most of my gripes with this palette are about the shade selection and they have a couple of palettes that are a bit more colorful that I would like to try. I definitely want to know what is up with those shade names though…
Finally, I had checked out the Blank Canvas Cosmetics site and mostly given up on finding anything to bring back with me. They are mostly a brush company, and the makeup they do carry tends to be very neutral…and more expensive than I’m willing to pay for a palette of neutrals! There were no stockists listed on their website, so I also thought they might be an online online brand until I took a wrong turn in Kinsale and ended up at the O’Connor’s Pharmacy (ironic, since it was Christine O’Connor who told me about the brand in the first place!) and they happened to have a small display of some of their brushes!
I picked up two natural hair brushes, the E20 fluffy crease brush and the E23/E24 dual ended brush with a pencil brush on one side and flat packer brush on the other. I love, love, love a natural hair bristle brush, and they are getting harder to find as companies keep trying to release synthetic “alternatives.” I’m sorry, cruelty free supporters, but they are just not the same!
They also had the Master Series eyeshadow palette, but at 35 Euro…much too neutral for my taste!
So that’s what I picked up from the three brands that were recommended to me by Irish makeup artist Christine O’Connor! If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know that this isn’t even close to all that I picked up on my trip – I discovered lots of other great brands from the UK and Ireland, and I’ll be sharing some of those with you in future posts! For now, this will have to be your first little taste of the Emerald Isle!
So what do you think? Does these brands look like they’ve been blessed with the Luck of the Irish, or has the pot of gold gone missing? Have you tried any of these brands before? What did you think? And let us know what your favorite non-US makeup brands are so we can keep our reviews going international, baby! Sound off in the comments!