Friday, March 19, 2010

Nautical glamour for S/S 2010

The nautical trend has always been one of my favorites for spring and summer season. I'm not sure what it is exactly that makes me adore it so much: maybe the 60's inspirations, the fresh and universally flattering clash of white, red and navy with a touch of gold, slightly French feel, stripes, ropes and anchors, or simply memories of seaside walks on the pier? Whatever it is, I'm loving it, and lately I've been drawing my fashion inspiration from these beautiful outfits:

What do you think of the 'sailor' look? What's you favorite trend for this season? I'd love to hear your thoughts! xxx

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Top 3 Spring Blushes

Spring has finally come to our frosty, snow covered, wind lashed corner of Europe! This year's winter was particularly bad, as it started in October and lasted... well, until now. Enough of greyish slush and freezing toes!

I was craving spring weather so much that I hauled some bright colored blushers. Even swatching them for you on my hand today made me feel a little warmer inside (it's not only me, is it?).

So here are my picks for the season, from the least intense but most shimmery to the most pigmented with satin finish:

1. Milani Luminous
Beautiful, light peachy coral with golden shimmer (no glitter!). It's reknown for being a very affordable dupe for Nars Orgasm; I can't compare because I don't have the latter in my collection, but this shade certainly satisfies my sparkly peach cravings. It looks very subtle on my palest of pale skin tone, so I feel it might work more like a highlighter if you're darker. The texture is very smooth and applies very evenly.

2. Benefit Coralista
As this year's spring/summer trends haven't changed that much since last year, I caved in and got this beautiful coral blusher with fine silverish glimmer. It's a deeper, warmer shade than Luminous and would look amazing on tanned skin, but it's also very pretty on lighter skin tones like mine at the moment. It gives the illusion of healthy, glowing skin and the color is bright enough to perk the whole face up. It has already become my everyday staple!

3. Bourjois Rouge Corail no. 51
I have to admit I don't even know if Bourjois still carries this shade since I snatched it from my mum a looong time ago. It's a warm pink (looks orange in the swatch, but it's not!) with a satin finish, and because it's such a bright, highly pigmented shade, you only need the tiniest bit on your brush. It works great with my pinkish skintone, when blended out looks very similar to how I blush naturally, plus it's the most long lasting of the three. It has this sort of vintage, powdery smell which I happen to like, and comes with a dinky brush and a mirror in the lid for touch-ups.

What are your favorite spring/summer cheek products?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Skin trouble: pH level

It's common knowledge that human skin has a pH level of 5.5, I've known that ever since I was a little kid watching Johnson&Johnson soap commercials on TV. What I didn't know until very recently though, is why this exact number seems to be so important for keeping my skin healthy. So what's behind the pH buzz?

Indeed, healthy skin's pH level should be somewhere between 4.5 - 5.5, which means that the skin is able to maintain a protective lipid layer against dirt, pollution and bacteria. This acidic layer also helps to keep the skin hydrated and allows it to heal faster. Now for the tricky part: this protective mantle is VERY easily damaged, usually through using something as basic and harmless looking as soap.

Soaps are highly alkaline and therefore damaging to the skin's protective layer. There's no such thing as an acidic soap, but there are cleansing substances called syndets with pH levels closer to that of human skin. It's a tough matter to establish the pH level of your cleanser as in most cases companies avoid putting it on the packaging; if that rings a bell, you can be pretty sure your product is not pH 5.5. Check out the pH levels of common cleansers here, it's really astounding.

Why did all this spark my interest? Lately, I've been suffering from a massive spot attack (this is why you haven't seen any FOTD from me for some time now). I felt as if my anti-acne ingredient of choice, salicylic acid, stopped working. I read on the topic and found out that acids used in skincare only work in the acidic environment of 3.0 -4.0. So, if skin's pH is raised closer to 7.0, the acids' effectiveness is greately weakened. Plus, more alkaline environment causes the bacteria to multiply much faster.

All this caused me to ditch my Deep Cleansing Face Wash from The Body Shop immediately and buy Sebamed Cleansing Bar with pH 5.5. I only got it 2 days ago and it takes between 14 to 17 days for damaged acid mantle to repair, but I can already say the Sebamed bar is less drying and irritating. It has a very distinct, sort of herbal, male scent, which I actually like, and foams very nicely, leaving the skin refreshed and soft to the touch. It's also very affordable, I got it on sale for the equivalent of 3 pounds.

Fingers crossed this is going to work, because it definitely makes sense to me on paper. If you're interested, you can read more about skin's pH level and acne here. Hope some of you might find this helpful. xxx

Friday, March 12, 2010

Project 5 Pan is finally over!

Woohoo, I've used up all 5 of my make-up products designated for the Project! Here are my 5 cents about the experience:

1. Getting your money's worth out of products. I've paid for all of them with my own money and if there's one thing I really HATE, it's wasting things. It has actually made me realize how many nearly finished products I have and now I'm a bit obessed with using everything up, be it make-up, skincare or bath products.
2. Getting rid of some blah products so once finished, you can replace them with some better options (ekhem ekhem, Miss Sporty Mini Me eyeliner in Grizzly for Annabelle's Smudgeliner in Rich Chocolate, an absolutely amazing eye pencil!)
3. Clearing out your make-up stash for Spring. Finally, less clutter!
4. Because of the spending ban, trying to really shop your stash. For me it was both discovering hidden gems as well as recalling how much I didn't like certain products. Which, in turn, made me try to swap some unloved make-up on MUA, not without success (details coming soon)!
5. Creating new wishlists more carefully - no spur-of-the-moment decisions to get another unnecessary lipstick!
6. Limiting your make-up spending for some time at least.
7. Exercising your strong will.

1. It WILL take longer than you assumed in the beginning! I noticed that what seemed to be 3-5 uses left, ended up being more like 7-10.
2. Using the same products over and over again. I wanted to use up my brown eyeliner so badly that I wore the same eye look for a week! Boooring.
3. Using up products you didn't really like in the first place can be quite frustrating (yes, Coastal Scents Eye Poxy primer, I'm talking to you!)
4. Missing out on some great collections or bargain finds.

All in all, I think it was a good idea for me to join in. I might repeat the experience some time in the future, but for now I'll just try not to buy items that are easily dupable by something that I already have in my collection, as well as sometimes splurge a bit more on better quality products so that it's fun, not pain, to use them. Hooray for sticking to the Project till the end! And... yes, there's a small haul coming, so watch this space! xxx

Sunday, March 7, 2010

DIY Spot Treatment

Regularly, I suffer from a particularly nasty spot that takes weeks to heal. I've tried tons of different spot treatments, including those containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, as well as more natural alternatives such as tea tree oil. Honestly, none of them made a huge difference and DEFINITELY they didn't make my blemishes vanish overnight. Let's face it: there is no product on the face of the earth that could do that. Cosmetics are mostly a mix of chemical substances, not a magic potion.

Anyway, I'm rambling... Recently I was affected by an especially dramatic outburst, and instead of tearing my hair in despair I decided to try dabbing some aspirin on it. The logic behind it is that aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid or ASA) and salicylic acid (or willow bark extract) are both beta-hydroxy acids (BHA) which can penetrate and clear out a clogged pore. They're both oil soluble, so they work best for treating acne, whereas AHAs such as glycolic acid are water soluble and work better for healing scars and diminishing dark spots or wrinkles. I used aspirin as an exfoliator before, but found the granules too harsh for my sensitive skin.

Here's what I did:
1. First, I put half a tablet into a lid and poured 2 drops of tonic (I used Garnier for sensitive skin, but you could also use water or a facial spray) on it and left it to dissolve.

2. I smashed the now soft tablet and added some Burt's Bees Hand Salve; you could use any thick cream that doesn't break you out. The Burt's Bees salve is a universal cure for me, despite the name, it works best on my lips, and is a 100% natural product containing vitamin E, rosemary oil & leaf extract, eucalyptus oil and other great ingredients.

3. I mixed everything together using a clean knife. The amount I got will be enough for at least 10 uses. I put the lid back on the pot it belonged to so that the cream doesn't dry.

The pros of using this aspirin treatment instead of water-based cream is that it stays put on your face and, I think, doesn't dry the skin out as much. I've noticed that my DIY solution brings all the nastiness to the surface and helps clear out those poor clogged pores. It also brings the inflammation down and speeds up the healing process. The downside is that I look like a madwoman when I have it on... Oh well.

Hope it helped some of you, my lovelies, and have a relaxing Sunday evening :) xxx