Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review | ghd IV Styler hair straightener

Heat styling... If there's one major addiction I can't live without, it's a hair straightener. I know, I know, it's very unhealthy and brings high levels of damage to your locks, but I truly dislike my hair without any sort of heat styling.

Now, if you're familiar with my previous posts, you might have learnt that my hair is very frizzy and unruly. And there's a lot of it! I don't really mind the shape itself — straight, curly, wavy, it's all good — but the texture bothers me. The shaft is quite thick and unmanageable, so I find that a little heat application makes it look softer and healthier, actually.

For those who have a lot of hair, you know how great it is to be able to control the volume. I like it on the roots, not on the lengths. Triangle mane, anyone?
Of course, I do my best to protect it and to prevent any future damage, especially since I'd rather keep my locks on the longer side. Always use heat protecting products that are especially conceived to use with high temperatures. There's a few good ones, but I found myself really hooked to the ghd's own Heat Protect Spray. Also, do treat your hair to a weekly (or twice-weekly) intense nourishing treatment. This will actually help to repair some of the damage and provide further protection.

Until 2012, I've had multiple models of BaByliss heat tools, but having read such good recommendations, I caved and got a ghd IV Styler. From what I understand, the temperature in this particular tool is 210º C, which made me a bit skeptical in terms of results — I was used to the very high 230º C temperature! But, let me tell you, even with a lower heat it didn't disappoint! If it's possible to achieve the same sleek, straight and long lasting results with fewer degrees, why not? Plus, the appliance has rounded edges that allow you to create impeccable curls.
Of course, I was intrigued when, after a few months, ghd released a new model, Eclipse, featuring an even lower temperature (185º C) and promising to "deliver the best and fastest results yet". Does it actually deliver? I'll stick to my IV Styler, for now, but I am curious to try it...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer faves | Beauty, fashion and random

This post is long overdue. I had started a draft for about a month or two, but somehow forgot to finish it! Okay, here we go, my absolute favourites for summer 2013 — the crème de la crème of beauty, fashion and some random bits:


Base  | Estée Lauder Daywear B.B Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Cream in Medium
Lipstick  |  Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet in 43 La Favorite
Nail varnish  |  Bourjois So Laque Ultra Shine in Bleu Model
Perfume  |  Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne Eau de Parfum, which is getting really close to its last spritz


Shoes  |  Zara Spiked Ballerina (These are from last season. Alternatives here and here.)
Bag  |  Miss Sixty (Alternative from Guess, here.)
Sunglasses  |  Diesel wayferer style
Clothing  |  Ted Baker Playsuit With Bow Detail


Food  |  Besides watermelon or the occasional Calippo, spinach and mushroom quiche, with a wholemeal crust
Drink  |  Chilled green tea with lemon
TV show  |  True Blood, of course
Books  |  George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, on my tablet
Activities  |  Going to music festivals!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Top picks | Net-A-Porter summer sale

Take a look at my favourites from the Net-A-Porter sale. Bare in mind that your size might not be available — a common misfortune during sale periods — and a particular item could be sold out by the time you click on the link. Sorry 'bout that! Nothing new if you have purchased anything discounted in the past.
Some garments are not reminiscent of summer, exactly, but I always like to think ahead and start adding to my autumn/winter wardrobe. Okay, let's scroll down to find my top picks:


Markus Lupfer sequined merino wool dress £75  |  Catherine Malandrino feather-trimmed stretch-satin jersey and chiffon dress £190  |  Isabel Marant Dreamy studded stretch-leather mini dress £762  |  Christopher Kane cracked leather dress £598.50

Between wool, sequins, feathers, leather and studs, I think there's something for everyone's taste. Red leather might not be your cup of tea, but don't worry, there are plenty of options to choose from. Funnily enough, the length remains identical.


Theory Yaisa leather-sleeved ponte blazer £318.50  |  R13 moto leather gilet £390  |  Proenza Schouler basketweave tweed jacket £655  |  Etro satin-trimmed cotton-blend tweed jacket £250.50

chic khaki blazer with leather sleeves looks great paired with a loose shirt, leather trousers and a statement necklace. Plus, two combination jackets that really make a simple outfit more interesting, and a leather gilet thrown in the mix. Why not?


DAY Birger et Mikkelsen Day Liquid slub-twill tapered pants £80  |  Joseph matt stretch-leather skinny pants £556.50  |  Isabel Marant Devin embellished stretch-leather shorts £276  |  T by Alexander Wang leather shorts £278.60

At the moment, I'm really into these relaxed-fit trousers for summer. Honestly, skinny leather pants are my thing, so had to include those. Since there weren't many offerings in the pants department, I decided to included a couple of shorts as well: neutral colours, studs and leather, of course.


Balmain striped stretch-denim mini skirt £634  |  Alexander McQueen fluted crepe mini skirt £232  |  DAY Birger et Mikkelsen leather and suede mini skirt £60  |  Rag & bone Renard woven-striped leather skirt £370

Black and white stripes and zips as part of the same garment? Had to include it, obviously. In addition, you'll find a nude skirt with some movement on the bottom — a crown pleaser, I'm sure — as well as a combination skirt and a pleated leather one.


Four choices, each one with a particular texture and visual effect. Usually not a Missoni fan, but I really liked the print on this top. The second offering is a more interesting version of a blouse I already own — collar and all — and the other two are just my usual go to pieces, really.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review | b.right! Radiant Skincare by Benefit intro kit

First of all, how cute and retro-looking is Benefit's packaging? And in dinky little mini bottles? Anything that comes in a miniature version is adorable, isn't it?
This limited edition 6-piece intro kit from Benefit's b.right! skincare range, contains a cleanser, an exfoliator, a toner, a facial emulsion, a face cream and an eye cream. Oh, and the scent... Aah! A very fresh and clean cucumber fragrance.

I'll start with the first step, the cleanser: Foamingly Clean Facial Wash. The word "Foamingly" in the name put me off, because I never tried a foaming cleanser that I liked. The thing is, I like my face to be perfectly clean, but I don't enjoy that tight feeling that these types of cleansers provide — a.k.a. squeaky clean. I'll stick with my balm and cream cleansers, instead.

I usually prefer chemical exfoliants to physical ones, with Glycolic and Salicylic acids, but I do try some once in a while — like Korres Wild Rose Exfoliating Cleanser, which is really delicate and does an amazing job at cleansing the skin.
b.right! Refined Finish Facial Polish has quite a grainy texture. In fact, I feel that the grains could be smaller, so that the product would work in a gentler manner. Having said that, this product does take care of dull skin, improves dry patches and provides an overall radiant finish. With natural clay and seaweed extract as a part of the ingredients list, this formula does the job when it comes to purifying the skin. I like to massage it in, very gently, and then leave it on for a couple of minutes before rinsing, enhancing the final result.

I love hydrating toners, they're so soothing and relaxing, especially when they carry a gorgeous scent like b.right! Moisture Prep Toning Lotion. The consistency is just perfect: not too watery nor too thick. Just right. Smoothes the skin and works as a primer before moisturizer, helping to improve its benefits. Benefit's benefits. Sorry, had to say it.
Anyway, having a look at this product's ingredients, I realized that most of them really do belong in the moisturizing and soothing categories: glycerin, oat extract, aloe leaf extract... Oh, and I should mention that this is the kind that you pour in a cotton pad and sweep all over the face, instead of spritzing, in case that's a deal breaker for you.

Triple Performing Facial Emulsion is an oil-free facial sunscreen lotion, with broad spectrum SPF 15. A good one to apply in the mornings, if you're on the look for something lightweight, soothing and ideal for dehydrated skins. Works well under make-up and did I mention, has a lovely smell? The sun protection might be enough during winter and if you work indoors, though I wear a base with SPF on top.

b.right Total Moisture Facial Cream is a heavy-duty, concentrated face cream, ideal to use when your skin is feeling tight, dull or uncomfortable. I like to use this at nighttime or properly taking advantage of its hydrating formula after pamper sessions. During application, your skin feels immediately quenched, soothed and spoiled, really. With an exclusive tri-radiance complex, that aids in the process of developing the skin's own reserves of water and reinforcing the skin's moisture barrier. If you have trouble with a particular foundation that doesn't sit well on those irritating dry patches, use this as a primer. Works perfectly.

I saved the best for last. A proper eye cream for dry skins: It's Potent! Eye Cream. Aah, the eyes... The real problem area for me. Not only I have to deal with concealing and brightening (seriously) dark circles, but my skin gets really dry. The eyes really do show everything, whether you're sick, tired, upset... So, before considering the proper camouflage, think about prepping the area with a nice, potent cream. The peptide complex in the blend helps to rebuild skin's elasticity and a mixture of hydrating botanical extracts protect the skin from free radical damage. Amazing during winter months or to prevent dryness caused by air conditioned areas. I'm getting my hands on a full-sized pot of this!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The beauty bag | Summer heat update

Current location? Lisbon, Portugal. Temperature? Very warm. So, naturally, the contents of my beauty bag have changed.

First of all, I've decided to edit and simplify this group of products. Meaning, I'm not carrying around 10 lippies anymore. Whether you're going to a festival or just commuting in a crowded bus with broken air conditioner (lovely), you'll want to make an effort so that your make-up don't melt off your face.

The key to choosing the right products is testing their longevity. Usually, spotting the expression waterproof or long lasting on the label is a good sign. Some ranges I really like, especially for this type of hot and humid weather, are Urban Decay 24/7 and Make Up For Ever Aqua. They stay in place all day (and night), so you can just apply them in the morning and forget you have make-up on.

The current face division consists of Urban Decay 24/7 Concealer Pencil in NSA, to conceal dark circles and redness around the nose, and Chanel Natural Finish Pressed Powder in 30 Naturel, to mattify the T-zone. If I feel like wearing any sort of base, I'll go for MAC Face and Body Foundation in C5 — entitled as the perfect base for warmer months, thanks to its water-resistant quality. A teeny tiny dab of Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Cream Blush (in the shade 4 Walk of Shame) on the cheeks, provides a healthy glow. It doesn't contain shimmer, but gives a soft-focus effect.

To frame the face, I apply a bit of M.U.F.E. Aqua Brow in 25 Ash, using a slanted tip brush (like MAC 208). It is unbelievably good at filling in sparse areas or even drawing in full brows, when they fit in the very fair category or, even when they are virtually non-existent. Naturally, an essential part of my kit.

In the eye department, a swipe of Rimmel Scandaleyes Stick in Bad Girl Bronze on the lid, blended in with fingers or a fluffy brush, makes a good base. To define the lashline, a quick application of Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes does the trick. The shade Pearly Brown 2L gives a softer look, but you can just go for Matte Black 0L to intensely define the eye. For mascara, choose a formula that doesn't smudge on you. Usually, I don't have an issue with this, so I rarely wear waterproof formulas. Having said that, I really like Make Up For Ever Aqua Smoky Lash.

To finish off the look, a long-lasting lipstick does the job. My most reached for have been Burberry Lip Velvet in Rose Azalea No. 308 (love that shade) and Aqua Rouge liquid lipstick (in 2 Rosewood).
On dry lip occasions, I reach for Clinique Chubby Stick (in Two Ton Tomato), of course.

Some other essentials that jumped into my beauty bag are Caudalie Beauty Elixir (gotta have a refreshing mist on hand), Japonesque Blotting Paper Pouch (does what it says on the tin), Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream and a mini perfume atomizer or rollerball, in this case, Burberry Body.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Empties #4 | Hair care edition

Another empties edition, this time featuring solely hair care products.
Starting with the most basic — washing — let me introduce a scalp saviour that I discovered last summer: Redken Scalp Relief Soothing Balance Shampoo. The Scalp Relief range offers different solutions for specific scalp concerns, like excess oil production, dandruff or sensitivity. The latter was a condition I had to deal with ASAP.
Often during summer months, my skin (including scalp) becomes more sensitive. So, I carefully choose delicate formulas to wash and condition, avoiding strong fragrances. This gentle shampoo cleanses effectively, while soothing and relaxing the scalp. The creamy blend of eucalyptus and liquorice extracts has a soft and relaxing scent.

I haven't used TIGI S-Factor Smoothing Conditioner for a while, and forgot how great it was. The texture is incredibly creamy and thick. In fact, it is so thick that if you have the regular 250ml pumpless bottle, you know how hard it is to push the product out near the end.
What I really appreciate in the S-Factor range, compared to Bed Head, is the use of more grown-up and delicate fragrances. They're not subtle by any means, just more refined. In this case, it's supposed to have an asian pear and papaya aroma, but it reminds me of strawberry sweets, for some reason. The result is instantly conditioned and smoothed down locks, with increased shine levels. It's very effective in calming frizzy hair, like mine, and helps to reduce fly-aways. The formula with avocado and jojoba oils nourishes hair and provides manageability.

Again from TIGI S-Factor, I used up these Health Factor Extreme Moisture Therapy 10ml bottles. I believe this product is discontinued now, but I managed to find it here and here. It was a gift with purchase with another S-Factor item, so I didn't know what to expect.
Haven't used it long enough to notice long term benefits, though I did notice that it helped increasing hydration levels, making it a good primer for other conditioning products.
The quantity applied depends on the texture, density and length of hair. I used half a bootle at a time, on towel-dried hair, and combed it through. This leave-in spray treatment repairs and nourishes damaged hair, while improving it's elasticity and protecting hair from future damage.

Obviously, I finished another bottle of hair oil. I believe this was the second bottle of L'Oréal Professionnel Mythic Oil I've used up. A lightweight formula that absorbs quickly and it's suited for all hair types, making it ideal to use on dry hair.
I apply a few pumps starting from the ends — where I want the most product — and work it through the lengths as well. This formula with avocado and grape seed oils provides a shiny and softer result, adding a healthy look. Depending on your hair type and density, you can apply a few pumps before and after blow-drying and whenever your locks are feeling a bit lackluster.

Finally, a product that you can't neglect, especially if you're addicted to heat styling. If you are, welcome to the club. We have tea on Thursdays.
Last December, when I purchased my first ghd straighteners, I thought I'd give ghd Heat Protect Spray a go. And I'm really glad I did.
The packaging is sleek and beautiful — I can't hide the fact that I do fall for packaging — and it sprays such a fine, light mist that feels like you have absolutely nothing on your hair. Doesn't weigh down or leave any sort of residue or build-up. Perfect. Smells really good, too. Not a strong, lingering scent, which is ideal in my eyes, since at that stage in my routine I already applied a cocktail of different products with distinct fragrances.
This spray protects against the heat from dryers, curling wands and straighteners and can be used in damp or dry hair. Do comb it through afterwards, to distribute the product evenly. I miss having this spray, but I really need to finish two other thermal protectors before repurchasing this. I'm really trying to resist...