Lyndar the Merciless

a personal beauty + lifestyle blog

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Dining Room Table Makeover, Part I: From Orange to Oooooooh

Thursday, March 24, 2016   |   1 comments

We are spending some of my maternity leave at home in Ireland (I had a baby! She's adorable! I'm so tired all the time!) and the house that we're renting here is a monster compared to the weeny one or one-and-a-quarter-bed flats we're used to in London.

We mostly huddled in one corner of the kitchen when we moved in, like agoraphobic bunnies freshly sprung from a cage, but now we've spread out and are slowly colonising the whole place and drying our underwear on the radiators, and slowly it's starting to feel a bit more like home. I'm taking advantage of the fact that we have a separate dining room (!!!) to makeover this new-to-us mega-orange pine farmhouse dining table that I picked up on DoneDeal for €70.

Fun fact: I also bought my dream Jenny Packham wedding dress on DoneDeal! True story.

Anyway, this beast of a table was obviously in need of a hefty dose of TLC but I reckoned it had good bones - just look at those sexy AF turned legs! - and to be perfectly honest I was in desperate need of A Not-Baby-Related Project.

The first item on the agenda was to sort out that varnished orange tone, and that was where I made my first mistake. I should have used a chemical stripper like the trusty Nitromoors I usually turn to for any paint removing work, but with a babóg in the house I decided against using anything fume-y and got sander-happy instead. I think I still have carpenter's lung as a result.

To add insult to respiratory injury, I managed to dig a couple of divots into the table lid in my power-tooled enthusiasm to get shot of some particularly pernicious orange patches, but when my sanding frenzy was done I showed the affected areas some love with a handheld sanding block and they were barely noticeable.

Having eventually achieved this paler tone to the wood and cooing over it like it was an especially cute new Pomeranian puppy, I initially thought that the next step would simply be to lacquer it to protect from stains and water damage and the like. However. A quick Google informed me that due to the peculiarities of pine, it will apparently always tend to orange. So over time that hard won lighter finish would invariably revert to the colour of my fake tan circa 2003. As the bambino would say, WAAAAAH.

One Google later and I had the solution: this video, complete with almost unbearable background buzz, from a crew called Finney's Wood Finishes. I mixed up a semi-translucent stain using white wood dye, acrylic lacquer, and some water as instructed, and buffed it into the wood using a soft cloth. Ok, ok: using a pair of decommissioned knickers. (What the hell else can you repurpose old knickers for? Seriously. And they are perfect for jobs like these.)

The idea is that this whitewash will act like a long-term real life Instagram filter (Hudson, maybe?) counteracting those pesky orange tones as they start to reappear.

The next step in the table's rehabilitation will be to paint the apron and legs grey and then wax/lacquer the whole thing, all of which I hope to get done in the course of the long Easter weekend. After turning my nose up at Annie Sloan chalk paint like a total elitist DIY snob for the last several years, having extraordinarily limited time to dedicate to furniture do-overs means that I suddenly find a paint that needs no major prep work very appealing indeed. 

I've got a shiny tin of Paris Grey all ready to go - teething permitting...

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The dynamic duo: How I keep my cuticles in check

Thursday, August 27, 2015   |   0 comments

Someone with a fortnightly Shellac habit which includes exhaustive cuticle work should have a pretty good shot at decent looking cuticles, right? Alas, dear reader, not even a bimonthly going over by the most pernickety professional I know (i.e. me) is enough to keep my ragged nail beds in check.

My cuticles grow like weeds, which is ironic given that I have a black thumb and plants do not do well in my care (see: the bamboo and the bay tree that are currently faltering valiantly at the front door, or the cute Flaming Katy that I bought for my desk in work and only started to flourish once it was forcibly removed from my custody.)


There are a pair of profesh-grade products that I keep on hand (sorry, sorry) to help improve the look of my cuticles between my DIY appointments. I'm far too hard on my hands and nails to ever have truly immaculate cuticles, but when I use this dynamic duo regularly they look presentable, as opposed to a cause for toe-curling embarrassment when someone asks to take a closer look at the nail art or polish I’m wearing on any given day.

1 // CND Cuticle Eraser, £10.95 

This conditioning micro-exfoliating cream is a blend of naturally occurring alpha-hydroxy acids together with moisturisers, so it prevents cuticle build up while keeping the skin hydrated and improving elasticity to prevent painful hangnails. 

A weeny dot massaged into each nail bed is all that’s needed, and I try (try!) to use mine on the daily for best results.

2 // CND Solar Oil, £11.95 
I have to admit that I've been struggling to use this every day lately, mostly because I keep misplacing it, but it still delivers results even when I only manage to daub it on haphazardly a couple of times a week. 

It is, quite honestly, the only cuticle oil you'll ever need.  

In addition to keeping crappy-looking cuticles at bay, this award-winning, easily absorbed blend of jojoba oil, sweet almond oil and vitamin E will also help prevent nails from flaking, peeling and splitting. 

Pro tip: For optimum results, use both products together. Massage in Cuticle Eraser (think of it as a cleansing shampoo for cuticles) before applying Solar Oil (think of it as conditioner) to create a super hydrating moisture pack for dramatically improved skin and nails. 

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What I Wore On My Summer Vacation

Tuesday, June 02, 2015   |   3 comments

We're just back from a week in Santorini which was glorious, but packing for a sun holiday with a 6½ month bump did present a couple of challenges to my wardrobe!

After digging through and trying on all of my usual failsafe summer bits, I had to eventually admit defeat and get some pre-holiday maternity shopping in.

As usual, I panic-bought and ended up with a few truly awful yokes that didn’t suit me and that I wouldn’t wear in a blue fit, but thankfully I did also manage to select some gems that saw me through the week in some semblance of style (and which I reckon I’ll be able to wear right through to September and post-maternity, too.)

For the benefit of any other pregnant ladies who are similarly despairing of their holiday wardrobe, here's the quartet of new bits I packed in the end:

All were super comfortable and easy to wear, and they mixed and matched brilliantly with my Valentino-alike flip flops from Miss Selfridge, white Cons, and the basic back maternity vest and leggings that I'm pretty much living in now. 

Good work, me!

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Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm review

Tuesday, February 10, 2015   |   7 comments

I am slowly - sooooo slooowly - approaching the bottom of my jar of Clinique Take The Day Off (TTDO) cleansing balm, and I cannot tell you how glad I’ll be to see the back of it.

Since featuring on lovely Caroline Hirons’ blog a time or three and being inducted to the Hirons Hall of Fame, TTDO has picked up something of a cult following and is regularly sold out on Clinique counters across the UK and Ireland.

And I can see its appeal, I really can. I mean, obviously I can; sure didn’t I buy a tub of it meself? Suitable for all skin types, TTDO is a bland, very inoffensive cleansing balm, free from mineral oil as well as potential irritants like essential oils and fragrance, that dissolves a day’s worth of make-up, including waterproof eye make-up and sunscreen, with ease. 

It’s a waxy solid in the jar, softens on the fingertips, and then melts silkily across skin, providing plenty of massage-friendly slip on the face. I use a facecloth wrung out in warm water to remove it, and have not once had an issue with any rogue post-cleanse residue clinging to skin.

TTDO does exactly what it says on the jar - and for a very reasonable price, too, especially considering that you need only use a teeny amount at a time and that it lasts for bleedin' ages. I bought mine at the very beginning of October, have used it every day since, and am still not quite finished it.

With all of that going for it, why am I so down on the stuff? Why am I counting down the days until it’s gone?

Well, my big - and, to be fair, only - problem with TTDO is that it is so. deadly. dull.

It turns out that cleansers not having a fragrance is a real turn off for me. I like cleansing to feel a bit special, a bit indulgent, and it seems I equate that with cleansers having a lovely smell. A fragrance-free product, even one as efficacious as TTDO, takes cleansing from fancy to perfunctory and, for me, means that cleansing feels more like a chore than I think it ought.

Still, if you don’t much care for smellz in your skincare, have skin of a sensitive disposition, or are just looking for a really good, back-to-basics balm cleanser, I’d say this is definitely worth a punt!

Ingredients: Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Sorbeth-30 Tetraoleate, Polyethylene, PEG-5 Glyceryl Triisostearate, Water, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol

Clinique Take The Day Off cleansing balm, £22 / €29 for 125ml. Bought with my very own spondoolix.

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Red hair, do care: Batiste Vibrant & Red Instant Hair Refresh review

Thursday, January 22, 2015   |   0 comments

Of all the colours that I’ve inflicted on my hair over the years, the red that I'm currently revisiting has been far and away the most striking, the most comment-provoking, and the biggest pain in the arse to maintain.

One reason for this is that washing - especially with hot water - really does a number on red hair, contributing massively to colour fade. Which is grand if you're actually looking to tone down a too-bright cherry red, as I was a few weeks ago, but more often than not for artificial redheads it's a spectacularly undesirable side effect of basic barnet hygiene.

Happily, my go-to Batiste dry shampoo is available in a red variant - I had no idea! - which basically means that redheads can go wash-free for a couple of days to get a lie-in preserve their colour for longer or without anyone getting wise to their scuzzbucketry. 

Like all "hint of colour" Batiste products, the one for redsers is a tinted spray powder. Shake the can, direct the nozzle at your greasy limp roots and spray. BANG and the grease is gone!

A couple of caveats: if you're not careful in your application, you should fully expect to get a red forehead and parting and I'll have no sympathy for you. It's tinted, so don't be an eejit, you know? Also, there is a decidedly bright ginge tinge to this product, and I've found that it takes a bit more working through with fingertips and a brush than the other shades I've used to ensure an even distribution and avoid looking like you've been doing headstands in the Arizona desert.

That said, in the last couple of months I've been strawberry blonde, burgundy (I'm Ron Burgundy?), cherry red, ginger, auburn, bright copper, and sort of rose gold, mostly by accident rather than design, so it's fair to say that I've tried this red batiste on a couple of shades. And I'm happy to report that simply tweaking the amount I use and the distance from which I spray it on has meant that it's worked perfectly right across the spectrum of my changeable red hair. Bonus: it also disguises regrowth.

Must. Have.

Batiste Vibrant & Red dry shampoo, €4.99 / £3.99 for 200ml. Bought with my very own spondoolix.

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Fantastically fancy: Ikea Frasera drinking glasses

Tuesday, November 18, 2014   |   1 comments

We are right on the threshold of moving house, which means that there is mostly a moratorium on bringing new stuff into our current place while I try to jettison some of the existing clothes, shoes, furniture and miscellaneous accumulated detritus that I don’t want to cart to the new gaff.


I couldn’t resist picking up these cut glass, Mad Men-stylee Frasera tumblers on our most recent trip to Ikea.

Their purchase was completely justifiable, even with the admittedly lax ban on goods inwards in place: they would succeed the mismatched collection of jam jars (hipster by necessity rather than design), Nutella jars (not even joking) and lonely last-surviving-member-of-the-set glasses that we had been drinking out of.

These glasses have a lovely, surprisingly weighty heft in the hand and at just £1.50 a pop, they’re faceted, fancy-looking and frugal!

Really, they could only be better if I had thought to get a couple of spares as replacements for the inevitable breakages that living with Himself moving brings.

These five pairs of fabulous flats are anything but lowbrow

Friday, October 10, 2014   |   5 comments

So much has happened since my last post, which was - somehow! - almost eight months ago. In that time, Himself and I finally got around to organising our wedding and getting hitched, and then just as we were getting settled back at home after our honeymoon, Boris passed away.

That properly knocked us sideways, and has kept me sad for a very long time.

But this post isn't about any of those things.

This post is about me trying to regain my blogging mojo through the medium of walkable-innable shoes.

Flats are enjoying a full-on revival in fashion circles at the moment. I mean, when even heel honchos Manolo Blahnik and Victoria Beckham have deigned to get in on the flat act, you know it's serious.

This is wonderful news for the flats lovers amongst us who choose them for reasons of either comfort (I've a freakishly high pain threshold but just cannot be arsed with discomfort) or stability (I feel worringly unsteady in heels) because suddenly this season, gorgeous versions are EVERYWHERE.

My credit card is quaking in its (flat, obvs) boots.

Winklepicker style toes are on point for a chic workwear look (and running for the bus without snotting yourself) while luxe slipper style loafers are an edgier alternative to ballet pumps, which now feel woefully out of date.

Here are five pairs that I wouldn't kick out of my wardrobe for eating crisps...

ONE // Russell & Bromley "Tantrum" dress flats, £225

TWO // Carvela "Lyric" nude flat slippers, £49

THREE // Carvela "Lavish" gold glitter ballerinas, £69

FOUR // Primark glitter accented tassel loafers, £14 (terrible stock photography from Primark - I have these and they are beaut in real life!)

FIVE // Charlotte Olympia Kitty embroidered velvet slippers, £365

Psst - I'll be updating this dedicated Pinterest board with ALL OF THE FLATS as I find them. Be sure to follow along!

New interiors obsession: Decorative logs in fireplaces

Monday, February 17, 2014   |   0 comments

You'll be not at all surprised to hear that I'm still wrangling with our big-ass fireplace. Instead of wondering what to put on top of it, though, I'm now pondering what to put in it.


Cheapy brass gas inserts ain't really my bag, so I'm trying to come up with a way of disguising the landlord's delightful choice of hearth heater with something a little more attractive.

Like some fake logs, for example...

images via Swoonworthy // Brume // The Hunted Interior // Vogue Australia on Joyfolie // decor8 // House To Home // Dottie Angel

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Black and white and geo all over

Thursday, February 13, 2014   |   2 comments

Ah, black and white. A perennially chic combination made cool and current with the addition of some can't-get-enough-of-it geometric detailing. I was so sad when these started to wear at the tips!

I painted all my nails white to begin, then used a striping brush to fill in the black to try and keep my edges as neat as possible.

Much as I loved this monochrome design, I have to admit that I've found myself craving brighter, sunnier colours in the last couple of days. What can I say; there's a grand stretch in the evenings!

Products used
Essie Fill The Gap
Essie Blanc
Nubar black nail art striper
Seche Vite top coat

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It takes a lot of time to look this half awake: My morning routine on Frillseeker

Thursday, January 30, 2014   |   2 comments

Like to take a looksee at my current everyday beauty routine? I contributed to a piece on the very brilliant a little while ago in which I reveal exactly why it takes me at least 25 minutes to get ready in the mornings.

Hint: I spend way too long perfecting my foundation and primping my eyelashes.

You can read the article in full and get all the deets here - thanks to Kirstie for asking me to partake!


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