From nail varnish to body lotions, Rachel Marie Walsh puts the latest beauty products to the test 

10-free nail polish

Zoya Professional Nail Lacquer in ‘Darby’

€11.39 at


The number of ingredients that nail brands are proud to exclude has doubled since 2015, when ‘5-free’ polishes emerged. Nails’ fibrous texture was once thought to protect the body from potentially toxic chemicals but the little things are porous and the surrounding skin is vulnerable. The ‘5-free’ nasties are formaldehyde (a nail hardener and carcinogen), formaldehyde resin (a film-forming agent that can irritate eyes and skin), toluene (which can impair breathing and has been linked to birth defects), camphor (a shine-booster that’s been linked to liver damage when ingested) and dibutyl phthalate (a polish smoother and endocrine disruptor). Zoya’s ‘Thrive’ collection has summer shades to suit every taste, from nudes to glitters to vibrant fruits. The 10-free formula is not especially long-wearing but provides rich, consistent colour and shine.

BEST BUY: CND Vinylux Weekly Polish in ‘Offbeat’

€11.95, see for nearest salon stockist


Vinylux is a toughie. The brand promises a week’s wear but two coats and a top-coat lasts my long nails a fortnight with no fading on the tips. It has the shine and colour intensity of a gel polish without the thick texture. Added keratin, jojoba and Vitamin E make it a great choice for weak or brittle nails.

Smith and Cult Nail Lacquer in ‘The Bee Side’

€21.50 at SpaceNK


Makeup shades often have unusual names but Smith and Cult christen them like reality stars naming children. I don’t know who ’Psycho Candy,’ ‘Wife No.2,’ ‘Bitter Buddhist,’ etc., are but the brand’s founders share brief back-stories. ‘The Bee Side’ began with a friend’s warning to “think of men like albums, always listen to the ‘B’ side.” The reference may be totally lost on millennials but inspired a buttery yellow sure to brighten anyone’s day. The polish is gorgeous: long-wearing and infused with a pro-look shine that lets you go topcoat-less.

Christian Louboutin Loubiflash Nail Colour in ‘Crosta Meteor

€30 at Brown Thomas


Christian Louboutin entered the beauty market through nail polish, the cosmetic closest to his world-famous shoes. Those shoes are expensive, sure, but the natural reaction to his Rouge Louboutin Nail Colou , €50, was “who prices nail varnish this way?” For comparison, Saint Laurent’s pumps cost roughly the same as Louboutins but a YSL La Laque Couture polish will set you back €25. For deeper comparison, while the polish itself is excellent (and 10-free) the ingredients are extremely common to this product category. The Loubiflash limited-edition collection is more accessibly priced.

[h2]Vegan Body LotionsBEST BUY The Beauty Kitchen Free-From All-Over Body Lotion€9.04 at*****

The ‘wellness’ trend has a lot of skincare companies suddenly patting themselves on the back for being vegan to distinguish little difference, as competitors generally aren’t using animal products or byproducts anyway. In some cases it doesn’t hurt to remove ambiguity, however, such as where a cosmetic ingredient for which there are both animal and synthetic versions (e.g. collagen, squalane) could put off eagle-eyed vegans, so until the whole industry goes staunchly ‘V’ they can clap away. I would recommend this lotion regardless, it is fantastic.Kenmare Soap and Beauty Decadent Chocolate and Coconut Body Butter, €16 at KenmareSoap.comThis luxurious body butter combines cocoa and shea butters with jojoba, coconut and olive. The blend is super-comforting to dry skin and a dash of Vitamin E helps to reduce inflammation. Kenmare Soap and Beauty produces vegan-friendly skincare in small batches using minimal packaging, so you get more of these great natural ingredients for your money.Kind Natured Moisturising Coconut & Monoi Body Lotion€7.99 at***
This sulphate and paraben-free lotion feels thinner than you would hope of a dry skin formula. Coconut and monoi oils help protect against free radicals and it’s high in essential fatty acids but it does not feels like there is as much in the tube as you’d hope of eponymous ingredients. The rest of the ingredients list includes plant waxes, which help seal in moisture, almond oil and some soothing allantoin. Sensitive types may want give this very noticeably-scented product a miss.Fushi Bringer of Peace Herbal Body Lotion€18 at*****
Fushi packs an extensive list of antioxidants into this little bottle. Some herbaceous extracts are potential skin irritants (e.g. basil, coriander and sage), but still used to fragrance skincare products and I am pleased to see Fushi excludes all of them. Soothing herbs include lemon balm, Indian babul and passion flower, all of which are pre-steeped in coconut oil. The moisturisers are the real hero ingredients. High concentrations of babassu oil, shea butter and linseed keep skin soft and comfortable.

Waterproof mascaras

Clarins Double Fix’ Mascara Waterproof Topcoat and Eyebrow Groomer



This new colourless sealant gets your favourite mascara summer-ready. It is undeniably waterproof, non-irritating and easy to remove with an oil or waterproof-specific cleanser. The triangle-cut brush is easily angled into corners. You could also wear it as clear mascara, as it makes lashes glossy and holds a curl. However, with so many waterproof versions of popular mascaras available and the same three-month expiry date on this topcoat as any of them, it will seem a superfluous buy to many women.

Dior Diorshow Pump ’N’ Volume Waterproof Mascara



Pump and Volume is the best of Dior’s lot, with or without waterproofing. It makes a dramatic difference to lash-length and volume with a single swipe. It also holds a curl very well which, as Legally Blonde taught us, is not a water-compatible exercise. The waterproof formula is just as va-va-voom and pressing the tube’s middle loads loads the brush, pumping up lash volume. It is indeed smudge and smear-proof, so rocking it rain or shine is both desirable and possible.

Maybelline Total Temptation Waterproof Mascara



Maybelline knows how to sweep together a best-selling mascara. From Great Lash to The Rocket and The Colossal, there’s usually no stopping them, so Total Temptation’s flaws are especially glaring. The finish is tacky, and I found that the formula clumps. It contains conditioning coconut.

BEST BUY: TheBalm Scuba Water Resistant Black Mascara

€18.95 at


This is an effective lengthening mascara in strong, glossy black. The brush separates lashes well and the perfume and paraben-free formula stays put all day without flaking or smearing. It is also easily removed with an oil-based cleanser.

More in this Section

Gone to pot: Leading psychiatrist on the cannabis debate

Why London is the perfect hunting ground for antique lovers this month

School run: It’s good to be outside with the kids for a few minutes every day

Stereolab: The right band at the wrong time

Latest Showbiz

Camila Cabello pleads with fans not to send ‘hateful’ messages

Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis 'absolutely chuffed' as event begins

Madonna calls on fans to demand gun control

Sam Fender pulls out of Glastonbury slot citing illness

More From The Irish Examiner