Thursday, May 30, 2013

Styling | Alice + Olivia Shannon Maxi skirt

Whilst going through my current fashion wishlist and trying to justify the need to purchase one item in particular — I'd let you know that my talents include professional list maker and unnecessary purchase "justify-er" — I thought about the different ways I could style the aforementioned item.

Maxi skirts: so elegant, yet so comfortable. I'm currently swooning over this little number by Alice + Olivia. The Shannon pleated chiffon maxi skirt is partially lined and has the perfect cut to allow some movement while you walk. It sits in the waist and creates a figure flattering A-line shape. The weightless feel and the bright coral shade make the ideal statement piece for summer.
I'll make the effort to try to find a more budget friendly option. Meanwhile, here are the various combinations it allows would allow.

Combined with a casual top that has an embroidered neckline (Diane von Furstenberg Acedia embellished crepe top), neutral and/or metallic flat sandals (Saint Laurent leather and metal sandals), a nude "everyday" bag (Zara shopper with braided handles) and a pop of colour on the lips (Rouge Dior lipstick).

For a dressy dinner or a special event, stylize the waist with a clean, neutral belt (Jil Sander wide leather waist belt), a flattering crop top (Zara Studio cropped sleeveless top), a special pair of heels (Jimmy Choo Viper patent-leather pumps) and a statement clutch (Alexander McQueen Long Knuckle patent-leather box clutch). With a matte lipstick, of course — Guerlain Rouge G L'Extrait is fab.

An edgy leather top with a clean and structured cut (Jason Wu leather and lace peplum top), that balances the feminine quality of the skirt, paired with metallic features in the jewelry (Lanvin Dedale silver-tone crystal necklace), bag (Christian Louboutin Marquise spiked leather clutch) and shoes (Alexander McQueen woven leather and chain sandals). Complete with a long lasting lip colour, like Hourglass Opaque Rouge liquid lipstick.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Review | Benefit Stay Don't Stray

You may or may not be familiar with the regular version of Stay Don't Stray by Benefit. If you are, you'll know that there were some major improvements in the packaging department — namely the handy doe foot applicator, instead of a pump that dispensed too much product at a time. But I was mostly intrigued with the release of a Medium/Deep version of this primer, which means no more ashy shadows in sight, especially if you have (really) dark circles.

Let me be clear about this. The Medium/Deep shade isn't quite as dark as it sounds. Considering that this isn't just a primer for the lid area, but also primes the under eye area before concealer application, this shade should be defined as "Medium". And perhaps a release of a darker tone, that would be named "Deep". But let's not get greedy, my friend!

Now, here's the lowdown. I have to say, this is the best eye primer I've tried so far.
Let's consider the skin in a 360º mode: oily lids, dry skin under the eyes and the occasional bit of eczema in the inner corners. This doesn't cling onto dry patches, like some primers do — especially tinted ones — and has an amazing staying power on the lids. Quite impressive, really. Plus, it neutralizes the lid colour, making it ideal to wear on it's own, or to make eyeshadows pop.
What really sold me, was the fact that because it's tinted, you need a lesser amount of concealer — which, together with the priming action, means less creasing. I rarely set it with powder anymore. And I could (and have) totally rock this on it's own, for a no make-up day.
Besides lasting quite well throughout the day, it also doesn't dry out on the skin, due to the sodium hyaluronate in the formula.

I find that the best way to apply this product is with light tapping motions, using your ring finger (as per usual). Start on the under eye area and apply the remaining product onto the lids — this is the part where I say "a little bit goes a long way". You can immediately notice the brightening effect upon application. Definitely a keeper!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sort it out | The 5 minute make-up routine

We all try to be there in time. To work, to school or to meet a friend. Sometimes, I get up earlier and think "oh, I can take my time to get ready today". But somehow, I end up being late. Again.
I always have a "Plan B" for those days when I gasp, whilst staring at the watch unbelievably. "What? Argh!" Don't panic. Just cross those non-essential steps off the list, to get you out the door as quickly as possible.

I usually style my hair at night, so that's sorted — I just need to comb it through, which takes about 5 seconds. I also lay out my outfit and accessories. But, when it comes to make-up, there's not much you can do, besides making sure that the usual suspects are easily accessible.

What you can do, is choosing foolproof products. Opt for the ones that don't require a lot of blending or layering. Cut out all of those steps that aren't really necessary to look presentable to the world, like curling lashes or contouring. Oh, and this selection should include items that you absolutely trust. New products are fun to try, when you have the time.

Considering that these products should fit in the category "pop on and go", opt for a tinted moisturizer or a BB/CC cream that's easily and quickly blended with your fingers. I personally think this is the best way to apply these kind of products, anyway. I'd go for the Estée Lauder Daywear B.B Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Creme, which offers a bit more coverage than your standard BB cream.

If you're having a good skin day and just need some brightening in the inner corner of the eyes, opt for a pen highlighter, like the Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat. They're precise and don't require a separate brush to apply.
On the other hand, if you have dark circles and/or blemishes, pick a good pigmented concealer, to avoid wasting time layering until you get the right coverage. Obviously the ideal choice for this is the Urban Decay 24/7 Concealer Pencil. So easy!

For a little something something on your cheeks, go for a powder blusher if you have oily skin — nothing too pigmented though, let's not take any unnecessary risks, people! Burberry Light Glow blushers are ideal to use when time is of the essence. If you have normal to dry skin, opt for a cream formula instead — perhaps the Too Faced Full Bloom Cheek & Lip Colour, since it can be used on the lips as well.

If you like to rock a bright colour on the lips, don't even bother with lip liners or matte lipsticks and a brush. A tinted balm stick like Clinique Chubby Stick Intense will be your new obsession. Such a brilliant product!

To all the fans of defined eyes out there, put aside that gel liner and bring on your Rimmel Scandaleyes Stick. It is ridiculously easy to use and sets in place. Apply close to the lashes, just in the outer corners and leave it as is, or smudge quickly before it sets. Of course, you can just opt for a few lashings of mascara. Choose a formula that provides both volume and curl. Join the Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara club. It's fab!

One last advice, if you get shiny on the T-zone: always keep a compact powder and blotting paper in your make-up bag, to touch up during the day. So, there you have it: an edited make-up wardrobe, to transform your face in under five minutes! Now, go!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The chosen ones | Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm

I'm starting out a new category today, featuring staple products — the kind that will be in a part of my life at all times. BPFs?

On this very first post on the matter, I'll talk about how much I adore the Emma Hardie Amazing Face Natural Lift and Sculpt Moringa Cleansing Balm — that's a long name, if I ever saw one. I'm sure you must've heard about it somewhere in the blogosphere. It's that amazing cleansing balm that smells oh-so-good and doesn't dry out the skin.

Just in case you're still using face wipes to cleanse your face at night, this is how you use a cleansing balm:
1. Make sure you have clean hands to start with.
2. Scoop out a little amount from the tub and warm it up between your hands, until it turns into an oil.
3. Apply it gently on your face, starting with the eye area. Warning: You'll get panda eyes! Hah!
4. After massaging it using circular motions, on your face and neck, remove the product with a face cloth — soak it in warm water and squeeze. I use these.
If you're wearing a lot of make-up or a sunscreen, cleanse twice. Pat dry your face and follow with a toner, before moisturizing. Ta-da! You did it! That wasn't hard, was it? If this is your first time, please take a moment to admire the difference in your skin. You can throw away those wipes now. To quote Sadie Saxton, "you're welcome".

I've noticed that the effect of the product on the skin, combined with the scent, provide a very calming result. You'll find that the skin remains completely clean and nourished, without losing it's elasticity.
This cleansing balm can be doubled up as a rescue balm, for dry areas like elbows or lips, but also as a calming face mask, ideal when your skin is feeling more tight. Just leave it on for ten minutes before removing. And by the way, this will remove E-V-E-R-Y bit of make-up. Trust me, I like to experiment a lot.

The formula contains Moringa seed extract (of course), Wild Sea Fennel and Vitamin E to balance, purify and help to minimise the appearance of open pores; Orange, Neroli and Mandarin extracts to rejuvenate and revitalise the skin; and Jasmine, Cedarwood and Rose to recondition dull, dry, dehydrated and mature skins.
I think I'm becoming a fan of Moringa, it's the main ingredient in another "chosen one", that will be popping up soon. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review | Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Extreme

Background story time. So, despite being very strong, my hair has always been very, very dry. It has a lot of natural texture and I have a lot of it. To tame it, I need two weapons: softening products and heat styling. Yes, yes, heat styling is very damaging, but I need to look minimally presentable. Without some sort of heat, I look like a mad lion. I like a messy-grungy look as much as the next person, but this is a whole other level of messy. Trust me.

A few years back, I had perfect curls — big and bouncy ones —, so I could easily get away with some styling products and no heat. That's not the case anymore. Let's just say that my hair is in a quest to find it's natural shape. It's very confused at the moment and needs some sort of direction — that's when the flat iron comes to the rescue!

Anyway, between being dry, frizzy, untamable and with all that heat styling and colouring, it needs some extra TLC.
After a few clicks on the feelunique website, I stumble upon Philip Kingsley's Elasticizer Extreme — there's a regular Elasticizer version, as well. Considering that Kingsley "is the world's most respected authority on hair and scalp health" and all of those awards, the choice was more than obvious.

This is one of those pre-shampoo treatments that you apply directly onto key sections of damp hair, work it in and leave for 10 to 20 minutes. I usually like to apply a face mask and watch a YouTube video, during this time. Then, rinse it and just wash and condition as usual. You're supposed to proceed with a scalp toner afterwards, but I don't use one.

Now, you should use this regularly, but I have to admit that I do forget sometimes. Nevertheless, I did notice some amazing results: my hair has a softer feel, it's easier to style and there's a definite improvement on nourishment. Before, I had to apply a bit of oil one or two times per day, or else my hair would look very dry and lackluster. Now, I apply it just after washing it and it looks fine — I guess this is due to the Castor and Olive oils in the treatment's formula. Very, very pleased with the results.
Oh, and an important note: you're not supposed to use it three days before or after chemical processing. That is all.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What's in my bag?

A sneak peek inside my bag today. This is a large mint bowling bag that I got from Topshop, last Summer.

Starting of, the basics: keys, purse, train pass, phone and tablet — mostly to read on the train. Currently addicted to some Sherlock Holmes.
I usually have some random rings from ASOS to pop on, after moisturizing my hands. Speaking of, my hand cream is the Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream, which has a gorgeous scent. And I also carry around a mini Beauty Elixir.

Now, the make-up bag. It's mostly full of lip products, because I like to change during the day and I need options. To touch up the face, I have a Japonesque Blotting Paper Pouch, a Chanel Poudre Universelle Compact (in 30 Naturel), the ever so practical Urban Decay 24/7 Concealer Pencil in DOD and a Guerlain Terracota Touch highlighter in 02 Brunettes.
In the lippy category, I have a shameful amount of Clinique Chubby Sticks, 2 regular ones (in Two Ton Tomato and Mega Melon) and 2 Intense versions (in Heftiest Hibiscus and Roomiest Rose), and if you think that's a lot, let me tell you, I've carried more. To prime the lips, especially for some matte versions ahead, I use the Guerlain KissKiss Liplift. From Chanel, I usually pack a lip balm (Rouge Coco Baume), a nude option (Rouge Coco in 05 Mademoiselle) and a matte burgundy or a bright shade, depending on the season (currently opting for the Rouge Allure Velvet in 43 La Favorite). Some other favourites that usually hang around in my make-up bag are Burberry Lip Velvet in Pink Azalea No.308 and Dior Addict Lipstick in 437 Charmante, from the Cherie Bow Spring Look. *Breathes*
For the eyes, I always have this Yves Saint Laurent Long-Lasting Eye Pencil (in 01 Velvet Black) and my favourite mascara of the moment, Diorshow Iconic Overcurl mascara in 090 Over Black. In my black Travalo I have some Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne right now. Oh, and my precious Model Mirror, a lighted compact double-sided mirror, with eight battery-powered LEDs, that has a regular side and a magnifying one. That's about it!

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Tag | 7 beauty sins

So, my first tag type post. I've been searching through a few and this one seemed... better? Some of them had really odd questions and some were far too long, and frankly, boring. Anyway, on with the questions:

What is your most inexpensive beauty item? What is your most expensive?

My most inexpensive beauty items are from Rimmel. They have great budget buys, like the Wake Me Up Foundation or the Scandaleyes Waterproof Khol Kajal Eye Liners. I'm not sure what is my most expensive beauty item, besides fragrance, but I think it's the Chanel Beauté Initiale Eye gel.

What beauty products do you have a love/hate relationship with? What product has been the hardest to get?

I've had a love/hate relationship with the Clinique High Impact Extreme Volume mascara. I loved it during the first couple of months, and after that period of time, I didn't like it as much. It became really gloopy — which isn't ideal for such tiny bristles — and had that weird smell that mascaras do, when they go bad. The product I had to haunt after, from shop to shop, was the Urban Decay Naked Palette, when it first came out. It was always sold out!

What are your most delicious beauty products?

I don't really like fruity or sweet scents in my beauty bits, but I really love rose scented products. So my answer is Dior Crème de Rose lip balm, since it's a lip product. 

What beauty product do you neglect, due to laziness?

Sometimes, when I'm in a hurry I forget to apply eye primer. And I usually don't curl my lashes — but they're not straight, so no worries!

What beauty product gives you the most self confidence?
At first, I thought about mascara or lipstick, but no. It's concealer, of course! I couldn't step out the door without it, ever, so it definitely gives me the most self confidence.

What attributes do you find most attractive in the opposite sex?
There's always that little odd question, isn't there? Well, I guess nice teeth. And brows.

What items would you most like to receive as a gift?

Oh, I'd love to get a whole lot of Rodial or Alpha-H products. Or all of the Burberry lip products.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Wishlist #3 | Recently added products

That's right, I've added even more products to my wishlist. It's only a meter long, so obviously needs more items... The real danger of having a wishlist, especially one that is so large, is that everywhere you go you see something you think you need. So you end up buying it... Trust me, I can justify anything.

First up: Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder, as the name says, it's a compact powder that provides a natural healthy glow. I won't even talk about the super chic cream and black compact or the half-moon brush, but I'll say this: I'm always on the hunt for a natural looking powder and Chanel makes my favourite one. So, obviously I'm intrigued. Still, when I saw the ad for the first time I thought "I just got a compact powder from Chanel and I really like it, why do I need another one?". My excuse? This one gives a healthy glow, so I really, really need it! Also, Lisa Eldridge's video was really convincing. You can choose your regular shade, or, a shade darker if you want a bronzed look. Oh, and did I mention that this antioxidant powder protects the skin from environmental stress and sunlight? 

The second item is this Clarins Pro Palette Eyebrow Kit, which surprisingly I haven't seen much around in the blogosphere. The usual Clarins-style gold case carries three eyeshadows to shape and fill-in brows, a wax to hold them in place, a luminous shadow to highlight the brow bone, a little double-sided brush, a small spooly and mini tweezers. And a huge mirror. How amazing is that?

Finally, a very important skincare bit: Alpha-H Liquid Gold Rejuvenating Cream. This is like one of those things that I needed before it existed, you know? Basically this nourishing moisturizer takes care of dull, uneven or dehydrated skins, by stimulating cell turnover, courtesy of my favourite exfoliant, Glycolic Acid, of course. Antioxidant-rich Argan stem cells and Vitamin C, help the skin to repair itself and protect from free radicals, whilst Lipo-peptide Matrixyl-6 stimulate the production of Hyaluronic Acid, for a plumping effect. More suppleness and less redness, wrinkles, dark spots and pores. Well, they appear smaller. FYI, this product is on top of my list.