In my beauty bag: Noelle McCarthy

16:00, Jan 08 2014
NOELLE'S TOP TIPS: She loves a bright lip, likes to keep skincare simple and always slaps on SPF.

Noelle McCarthy, 35, is a broadcaster and columnist. Born in Ireland, Noelle first came to NZ on an O.E 10 years ago, and she loves our country so much she keeps coming back!

"I move between the two countries, but I call New Zealand home.

I wear makeup for special occasions, when it adds something to my outfit, when I feel like it... if I feel like a pop of colour, then lipstick is great for that.

I was one of those people who was way too parsimonious ever to splash out on expensive skincare. My mum uses the same moisturiser she has used since she was 17 - 'Astral Cream'. While I never like the lanolin smell of that I internalised that philosophy of not spending a lot of money on skincare.

This year there was a long, wet winter and I needed a pick-me-up so I decided to get a facial. Road to Damascus moment! Amazing. I won't say it changed my life, but it changed my face.

I have Dermalogica facials at Bare in Grey Lynn and a magnificent woman call Sifa looks after me there... I have sensitive skin and she stops the outbreaks of redness and flakiness that make you feel like a leper. She makes me laugh and we have a good time, and now I understand why French women are so religious about skincare. It's not too hardcore - wash your face before you go to bed, put on some moisturiser in the morning, but it makes you feel good. Also, I feel like a grownup: I have a skincare regime!


I like to run first thing in the morning because I think there is nothing better than that flush that you get from exercise... and then jump in a relatively cold shower and have a good scrub. I have a Ren rose-scented body scrub, because otherwise the skin builds up and you become sort of lizardy - I like to just shed my skin. 

Then I use a Sans Goji berry body cleanser - you rub it all over yourself and rinse it off, it smells divine and it makes me feel marvellous; and then Palmers cocoa butter. Good enough to eat ... it smells like chocolate. I've been using it for years and I love it. I then put on sunscreen because I am Irish and my skin is really pale and the New Zealand sun is merciless.

For facial moisturiser I use Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream - I use their Precleanse cleanser in the shower, too. Ease is very important to me, I don't like to have to faff around with too many products.

Makeup-wise, on a daily basis I just use a tinted moisturiser from Nars. I also love Nars 'The Multiple' - it's like a highlighter and blusher - a beautiful, very subtle shimmer: copacabana is my shade.

I'm not very good at doing makeup. I can do a lip 'cause it's quite hard to miss them, but I can't do eyeliner - all of that is a closed book to me. So when I want or need to do makeup I let the professionals handle it for me - I go and see Georgina or Abbey at Mecca in Ponsonby Road. They help me when I am buying makeup, too.

I love to buy makeup...I know a lot of women who are like me. We love the packaging, we love the shiny things - it's the magpie gene, but I don't know what to do with it, so that's where Mecca comes in.

We are emotionally attached to the cosmetics we use. My Mum still uses the same lipstick colour she used when she was 21 because she's attached to it... I find myself doing that, too.

I like a bright lip - M.A.C Lady Danger and Ruby Woo. I also love YSL lipsticks - I love the ones that smell like geranium with a little mirror in the top. I think part of the love of cosmetics is the love of artifact - beautiful little pieces of decoration. It's a very simple passing pleasure.

Because it's summer I'm wearing brighter and lighter lipcolours. I've just bought a Nars lipcolour called Barbarella which is really lovely and I wear M.A.C 'Hug Me', as well.

Sifa at Bare waxes and plucks my eyebrows once a month... I do have Benefit Brow Zings but it can look a little bit scary - with me and makeup a little goes a long way, I can veer into the transvestite territory very easily so I have to be discerning. 

I never wear mascara - sheer laziness. Love false eyelashes, can't put them on to save my life.

My mother would paint her nails and I would watch her as a child and I thought it was the most glamorous thing. I use Shellac - I go to a salon in K Road; Jennifer there has been doing nails for 22 years in Vietnam. She did these [rose with charcoal tips] without any tools except for a brush.

I wear OPI 'Lincoln Park after Dark' or 'Cajun Shrimp' on my toes. I never do my own toes now - I had a hardback copy of Jane Eyre that I kept specifically to do my pedicures on but when I lost the book, I lost the enthusiasm. 

I have had the same hairdresser for 10 years - Lauren Gunn at Stephen Marr. One of the best things about coming back to New Zealand was coming back to Lauren. She's so inspirational in terms of her look and her style - she lives her style. Couldn't speak more highly of her. She cut my hair short three years ago and I've never regretted it, not least because I have zero maintenance now. I'm in absolute awe of women who can handle a hair straightener; even an updo I think is amazing. Well done, it's an achievement!

I wear Comme des Garcons Patchouli. It's an incredibly pungent perfume, it's addictive. If I run out of that I use patchouli oil which has mixed results: a colleague said 'it reminds me of the squat I used to live in in Sydney" - not the effect I am looking for!

I think cosmetics and beauty treatments are fab. Anything you can do or engage in to add a little bit of joy to your day or a bit of zing to your step is a marvellous thing. That said, there are many days when I just can't be bothered and on those days a headscarf is my friend." 

- As told to Julie Roulston