Showing posts with label Tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tips. Show all posts

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bedside Beauty Edit

It's a sign of a true beauty junkie to have a specific collection of products just for the bedside pampering, always within reach when you're all snuggled up in bed and ready to doze off. I'm pretty nosey and love to know what beauty products people keep at their nighstands, so I thought you lovely people may also be interested in what I use every day before bed.
First off - gotta take care of that dry and scaly bod'. I know it's probably more effective to moisturize your body right after you get out of the shower, while your skin is still damp; but truth is, I already spend way too much time in the bathroom on different ablutions, so I've moved that part of the routine to my bedside. I've been using The Body Shop Brazil Nut Body Butter ($20 for 6.9 oz) for the past couple months and I really, really like it - smells like fresh nutty donuts. I also find it very moisturizing, but it absorbs quite easily, and doesn't get all over my sheets.
I don't slather my whole body in The Body Shop butter every night, so when I'm feeling lazy (most days), I just do my hands, knees and elbows using The Body Shop Almond Hand & Nail Cream ($20 for 100ml/ 3.3 fl oz). It's a pretty lightweight lotion that sinks in quickly, so when eczema strikes, I bring out the big guns - Neosalus Cream. It's a prescription moisturizer/ barrier cream that feels very tacky at first, but then absorbs fully into the skin, forming an invisible layer to seal in all the moisture. I realize that talking of Rx creams may not be super helpful to everyone, but I also know many of you struggle with extremely dry, itchy skin conditions, so maybe ask your dermatologist about it next time you're in for a visit - if you'd rather go the OTC route, I also recommend the CeraVe lotion.
For my dry, peeling cuticles, I like reaching for the Badger Organic Cuticle Care ($5.99 for 0.75 oz). It's a solid balm in the tin (by the way, how cute is that packaging?!) that melts into an oil on your skin, and smells absolutely amazing: like mandarin oranges, lemongrass & ginger. It does feel quite oily on the skin and doesn't sink in immediately, so I try to use it as the very last step before going to sleep. On my lips, I always use Osmia Organics Honey-Myrrh Lip Repair ($22 for 0.28 oz); you can read my detailed review and comparison to Nuxe Reve de Miel over here.
Lastly, two sleep potions: a pillow spray and an oil rollerball. When I feel a bit anxious and have some trouble winding down from the day, I like to spray the Bath & Body Works Aromatherapy Sleep Lavender Vanilla Pillow Mist ($10 for 5.3 oz) on our bedsheets. It's a sweet, comforting, almost creamy lavender, not too overbearing but the scent does linger on the linens for about an hour to two hours; I'd say it's a good alternative to more expensive pillow sprays, especially when you're not quite decided yet if it's a product you'll get a lot of use out of. For a more natural, essential oil option, I use the 21 Drops in 18 - Sleep ($29 for 8 ml/ 0.27 fl oz). It's a blend of sandalwood, ylang ylang, palmarosa and vetiver essential oils that you can roll onto your wrists, temples and sides of your neck to help with a racing mind and restlessness. I do think aromatherapy and scents in general can help evoke different emotional states, and breathing in this slightly spicy, sensual woodsy concoction aids in letting go of stressful, worried thoughts before hitting the hay.

Do you have your own little stash of products you like to use before drifting off? What are your favorites for a bedside pamper session?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Anti Make-up Phase

I confess: so far, I haven't bought any make-up this year. To be specific, I've only bought one beauty product thus far (Murad's Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum, mentioned here), so this post should probably be called 'The Anti Beauty Product Phase' - but well, that just didn't sound right and I'm all about catchy titles that actually reveal nothing of the forthcoming content (sometimes, anyway).
And this post isn't even about a make-up no-buy, which I'm NOT doing, by the way (so don't worry, I'll continue to blog about various beauty product discoveries!). In fact, it's about beauty products I've realized I don't need. Don't need, because I never use them, and have been able to satisfyingly cross out from all my beauty shopping lists. So, here are some categories of products I've eliminated, or I'm in the process of eliminating, from my beauty stash:
Foundation primers. I religiously reach for my NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base every time I wear eye make-up, but foundation primers are just so... meh. It might be that I just haven't found a game changer yet, but most of the time I just can't be bothered. You can see in the photo that I have a nice variety of samples to play with when I want to experiment, though I can't see myself actually purchasing a foundation primer for a very, very long time indeed.
Highlighters. I own two full-sized ones and some deluxe samples, and, uhm... almost never reach for them. The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Luminous Light (reviewed here) is definitely the best one I've ever tried and I like to apply a tiny bit here and there, but overall, I think I could really do without them; if need be, they could be easily replaced by a bit of highlighting eyeshadow, me thinks. I guess I'm lucky to have enough of my natural glow (shine, ekhem, ekhem...) to cover most of my highlighting needs.

Also a controversial omission from my make-up routine: eyelash curlers. I do own a great pair from Shiseido (raved about here) but I've come to realize I don't actually need them - my lashes have a natural curl to them! Adding the extra step of curling just makes them look strangely crimped, causes mascara transfer on my browbone, and makes them more brittle over time. So eyelash curlers... maybe not for everyone after all?

Lip liners. Fussy, drying, superfluous. I don't know you guys, I haven't actually noticed my lipstick ever bleeding outside my lip lines, and when I want a defined, long-lasting lip, I just carefully apply my lipstick with a brush, blot, apply again. I just can't be bothered to match a lip liner to all of my favorite bold lipsticks, and I can't be bothered with the extra step. So there.

And on the topic of lips - lip scrubs. I mean... just why exactly do we buy them? You can do all your lip exfoliating with a soft toothbrush, or a Q-tip dipped in some lip balm, or your regular face scrub, or like me, a damp towel. Or hey, you could even make your own scrub with some sugar and base oil. Why do we feel convinced that we need to add a lip scrub to our already lengthy beauty routines?
Self tanners. I know more of you are in the same boat with me - I embrace my pale skin. Gosh darn it, not even a full bottle of self tanner is going to turn me into a bronze goddess anyway; not with my coloring! I like bronzers for adding a subtle warmth to my face, and even with diligent applications of sunscreen, my body usually manages to get some sun in the warm months, and I think that's enough for me. The only time I feel like I could use some gradual self tanner is when I expose my white shins to the world for the first couple times in the spring - but these two samples you see here, mixed in with some body lotion, should be enough to last me the upcoming season at least.

Speaking of body care, I also don't use shaving cream - I actually don't have any to show you, because I don't remember the last time I bought one. I just find it's such an easy product to substitute: you could use a moisturizing soap/shower gel for shaving, or a body lotion, or a hair conditioner, or something like coconut oil. Why multiply the already numerous bottles in the shower? Multitask your products is what I say.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my stash reducing thought process! Are there any products you have succesfully eliminated from your beauty routine? Also, check out Beauty Reductionista's take on things she doesn't buy or need!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

What's In My Travel Make-up Bag

Every December, me and my husband fly out to Poland to spend Christmas with our families. It's just such a magical time of the year and there's no way we could miss being with the loved ones, with our heaps of delicious Polish food, Christmas carols, crackling logs in the fireplace, and of course, mountains of presents under the Christmas tree.
This year I'm actually flying home quite early, and as you're reading this post, I'm in the midst of packing my suitcase and counting the time until the departure for JFK airport. I usually dread flying, but since we moved to the East Coast, Warsaw is so much closer than before - just one 8-hour flight away! But anyway, while I'm packing I thought I'd show you what's in the make-up bag I' bringing with me (you can also check out the contents of my last year's carry-on pouch here). Shall we take a peek inside?
I recently got this 'Beauty on the fly' bag from Sephora so that I could stop using those ridiculous ziplock baggies; I'm not planning on packing my make-up in my carry-on, but I wanted to show you the design and how roomy the bag actually is. First off, let's start with base: I like to travel with smaller and/or more compact make-up products, so I chose the small bottle of Face Atelier Ultra Foundation, Bobbi Brown Corrector for under eyes and Becca Compact Concealer for blemishes. I was thinking for the longest time about taking a mineral foundation as well for days when I don't need as much make-up, but decided against - in the case my skin will be behaving particularly well (which it never does during the Holidays), I could try to sheer the foundation out with some moisturizer. I also packed a travel size of Stila Convertible Color in Lillium, my natural warmer blush option and an Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused to set everything.

For my eyes, I decided to overpack my eyeshadows a bit; I feel like I haven't played with eye make-up enough recently and hopefully with some holiday downtime, I'll have more time to experiment while I'm away. I filled my small Z Palette with a lot of shimmery neutral Fyrinnae shadows, Rouge Bunny Rouge Unforgettable Oriole and Eclipse Eagle, one cool matte brown from Inglot to blend out edges, and a La Femme blush in Flamingo Pink for the more vibrant, cool-toned blush option.
I also REALLY want to take my bareMinerals The Finer Things palette although I realize it's probably a bit of eyeshadow overkill. We'll see if I have enough space to squeeze it in! I'm also taking a NARS eye primer, a Laura Mercier Caviar stick in Grey Pearl for lazy days, some eyeliners (fun colors from Sephora and a boring black from GOSH), and a sample size of black mascara. I forgot to include my brow pencil in the photos, but that obviously has to come as well.

Lastly, for lips I've managed to be quite restrained and only pack three products: a Guerlain Rouge Automatique in Shalimar for a cool bold pink, a MAC Viva Glam V for a pinky neutral, and a Fresh Sugar Treatment lip balm in Passion for a sheerer juicy red. I might also pack a neutral lipgloss like Clarins Lip Perfector in Rose Shimmer in my carry-on for shine and hydration on the go.

And that's it! Well, ok, I realize it's actually quite a lot of make-up - but I'll be gone for about three weeks and also need to be prepared for Holiday parties, family gatherings, theatre outings and similar special occasions. As you can see, I like to still have options when I travel, especially for my eye make-up, but otherwise I try not to take colors that are very similar or that I know I don't like wearing often. I'll focus on making an effort to take lots of photos while I'm in Poland and I'll be posting them on my Instagram, or maybe I'll even eke out enough time to write an actual blog post - well, apart from regular blog programming I have scheduled for you when I'm gone.

Do you pack light or are you a make-up overpacker? What is your system for packing cosmetics and skincare? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, April 26, 2013

(Com)Pressing Fyrinnae Eyeshadows

Yet again, I've succumbed to the lure of Fyrinnae loose eyeshadow minis (remember that one order I already had planned back in March?); I looove the ultimate appeal of their sparkliciousness. I hate however how inefficient these little pots can be - so while I was a rather absent blogger for the first two weeks of April, I was a very dilligent (com)presser.
Pressing loose eyeshadows really is a rather satisfying experience. Look at all the space saved! All these empty pots consolidated into one perfectly slim palette! Oh, and the simplicity of just dipping your brush into the tiny pan, no spillage, no fall out! I will admit that I have become quite an ardent enthusiast of squeezing sparkly goo into tiny metal receptacles and I'm certainly enjoying the fruits of my (messy) labor.
In terms of the process itself, I largely followed Kate's instructions on pressing her Fyrinnae minis, with some minor adjustments. First off, I purchased my supplies at TKB Trading, including the 15mm tin pans (which, although prone to rusting if exposed to water, have the advantage of magnetizing to my Z palette, as opposed to the aluminium pans), as well as their little pressing kit, pressing ribbon and their own mixing medium, which I used instead of glycerin suggested by Kate. In terms of the process itself, I found that in order to get the just right consistency of the mixture, I had to add the mixing medium immediately followed by isopropyl alcohol; it simply refused to ball together otherwise. Lastly, I was not able to press right after filling up the tin pans because there was too much of the mixture oozing out the sides - so I waited a couple hours for the alcohol to evaporate before using the ribbon and my little stamp to press the eyeshadows down.
Here's a look at all of my pressed old & new Fyrinnae minis together in a Z Palette - oh, and an extra Barry M Dazzle Dust in Mushroom I couldn't stop myself from pressing too. Some of you are probably thinking a) at least half of these shades look exactly the same b) why even go to all this trouble? To that, I can only answer that I am slightly addicted to neutrals in general, taupes in particular, and that I really enjoy my Fyrinnae shadows. I find their shade selection interesting, the complexity of the shadows unique, and the price point more than tempting. So there. Oh, and their lab is within an hour drive from where I live - buy local!
 All of the shadows together, left to right, top to bottom: Electric Stardust Arcane Magic, Newcastle, Snow Leopard, Herbivore, London Mod, Nijiro, Witchy Woodland Creatures, Feisty Fennec Fox, Barry M Dazzle Dust in Mushroom, When I Grow Up, (shades I owned previously:) Moon Child, Kurisumasu!, Envy Me, Steampunk Arcane Magic, Madame & Eve's Arcane Magic, (new) Enchanting Otters, Crimson Ghost, Sacred, Damn Paladins (renamed Work Safe Blue), Evocation, Purgatory, (new) Dapper Mr Shark.
Swatches of the newly acquired shades after pressing, neutrals first, on bare arm (no primer): Nijiro, Witchy Woodland Creatures, Newcastle, Feisty Fennec Fox, Snow Leopard.
And the brights: Electric Stardust Arcane Magic, Herbivore, When I Grow Up, London Mod, Dapper Mr Shark, Enchanting Otters (look at the multicolor sparkle! look look!)

So far, my new favorites are definitely Witchy Woodland Creatures, Electric Stardust AM, When I Grow Up, Dapper Mr Shark and Enchanting Otters. I haven't experimented with all of these shades yet but I do have a couple looks already that I'm intending to post some time soon, so keep your peepers peeled. Also, I haven't noticed my pressed shadows performing any differently to their loose forms and the biggest upside to the whole endevour is that I now reach for my Fyrinnae pretties almost every day.

Have you ever tried pressing loose pigments or eyeshadows? What shadows have you (re)discovered recently?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

3 Extra Ways to Condition Your Hair

I'm sure that you've all noticed that as our skin gets drier in the colder months, so does our hair. As we're getting towards the end of winter here, I think our tresses deserve a little TLC to prep it for the spring and so I've decided to share my 3 favorite ways to add extra moisture and nourishment to my hair.
Before I start, I just have to include a little disclaimer: I am by no means a hair expert or even a hair person. But, as some of you may know, I've been working at a salon/beauty supply for about a year now and have picked up some nifty tricks here and there. It also seems that somehow hair products are not the most talked about in the blogosphere and since I get to try quite a few by way of work, I might as well share, right? Right.
1. Hair Mask + Extra Boost: Goldwell Rich Repair 60sec Treatment ($17.95 for 200ml/ 6.7 fl.oz.)+ Enjoy Intensive Reconstructing Spray (~$22 for 300ml/10.1 fl.oz.). I'm sure many of you already use a mask in your haircare routines, and the Goldwell Rich Repair is my favorite; it has hydrolyzed keratin and silk very high up the ingredients list, smells like cherry vanilla and can be just used in place of your regular conditioner - because it's a 60 seconds mask, you don't need to go through the whole 'leave for 15 minutes under a plastic cap' ordeal. It moisturizes and smoothes the hair nicely, and with the addition of Enjoy Intesive Reconstructing Spray (I have the old packaging to show you here; it looks more like the Conditioning Spray bottle below these days) beforehand it provides a lot of protein to rebuild my color-treated hair. The Enjoy I.R.S. is mostly a keratin amino acid spray, which in practical lingo means 'protein that won't overproteinize your hair'. Some forms of protein, like animal protein, has a tendency to push out water molecules out of a hair shaft, leaving it dry and brittle; but the Enjoy spray can be used every time you reach for a hair mask, or even in conjunction with a moisturizing conditioner.

2. Leave-in conditioner/detangler: Enjoy Conditioning Spray ($19 for 300ml/ 10.1 fl.oz). If you now think 'gosh, she really likes those Enjoy products' - yep, I do; I also use their shampoo and conditioner, but that's for another post. Anyway, I like this spray detangler for its unparalleled smoothing properties without weighting down the hair; although on my fine hair, it does need to be used quite sparingly. As with any conditioner, I always recommend applying only from ears down; on chin-length hair, that's basically just your ends. Another nifty thing about this one is that it can be used as a leave-in or rinse-out.
3. Serum/oil: MoroccanOil Treatment ($43 for 100ml/ 3.4 fl.oz). You've probably all heard about this one already but it is worth the hype; it conditions with the antioxidant-rich argan oil and the blend of silicones protects the hair against heat damage, frizz, humidity and even static and can also be applied on both damp and dry hair. A small tip before you buy: take a sniff first, some people can't stand the signature orange blossom scent of this line. For a similar effect from other brands, try the Enjoy Smooth & Shine or better yet, Loma Organics Fortifying Repairative Tonic (formerly Loma Pearatin Fortifying Repairative Serum).

Depending on how dry and damaged your hair is, you could try incorporating just one or all of the above steps to your routine to give it an extra conditioning boost. I usually just go for one of these on the days I wash my hair to keep it healthy and shiny and I want to say my hair is the best it's been in a long time. What do you use to condition your hair? Any products worth checking out?

Disclaimer: The article above features a mixture of products I purchased myself and samples I received as part of my employment. All opinions are 100% honest and my own. Thank you for reading!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My In-Flight Beauty Essentials

As you might know from my previous post, I was spending the Christmas holiday with my family at home - and home is Warsaw, Poland, at least15 hours of flight and exactly 9 hours time difference away from here. I'm sure anyone who has ever spent more than 2 hours on a plane knows how devastating the cabin air can be for one's skin and overall well-being - so imagine what I usually feel like by the time I reach our Warsaw Frederic Chopin airport. Which is why I've decided to put together a little S.O.S onboard beauty kit this time to take with me, and here's what's in it:
My in-flight routine is very much inspired by this video posted by Lisa Eldridge. I start by removing any face make-up I might be wearing to look more human at the airport, first by using a make-up removing wipe (a sample packet of Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes - I'm not a huge fan of wipes in general but they'll do in a pinch) and then by massaging a cream cleanser to get the last bits off; here I was using a sample of Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser and really liked how it made my skin feel. I leave my eyes alone - I was just wearing mascara at the time and wanted to avoid the hassle of getting it all off and then reapplying.
I then generally spritz my face with a toner; depicted is an Arcona toner but I was actually using some decanted Allafia toner in a little spray bottle. I am now all ready to apply my hydrating mask; here, as per Lisa's recommendation, I had a sample of Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Masque, which is pretty much invisible on the skin. Unfortunately, it's hydrating effect was also pretty invisible, as my skin was very tight and peeling badly by the time I reached Warsaw. I also keep a little tube of moisturizer for when I'm done with my mask, which I remove with my wipes again, as well as some hand cream and lip balm for added moisture.
I love that L'Occitane shea butter hand cream and this tiny tube is probably the cutest thing I've ever seen!
Just before landing, I apply some make-up to look a bit less tired. This time, I took with me a powder foundation (Physicians Formula Healthy Wear), a concealer I could use under my eyes and on blemishes (Becca Compact Concealer) and a tinted lip balm (Fresh Sugar in Passion).

Overall, I was pretty happy with what I packed in my little beauty kit but next time I would probably try to find a more effective face mask or even just use a good hydrating serum instead. The whole routine made me feel a lot more relaxed and I think I was looking a bit more fresh-faced at the end of our journey.

On a different note, I hope you guys are all well and happy in the new year and I'm sorry for my prolonged absence; I had big plans for blogging when I was away but family quality time had to take priority. I have however a lot of things planned out for you, starting with some personal and blogging New Years resolutions. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Rocaille Redes: How to Shop for Clothes

Browsing through my closet recently, I've realized that I made a lot of clothing purchases this year - firstly, I had some more money than previous years and secondly, I needed a lot more work-appropriate options. However, looking back at the clothes and accessories I acquired, I came to the conclusion that only a portion of my buys were necessities and out of these, also not all are the things I love and wear regularly. Since going through a big closet clear-out these past two days and thinking through my clothing buying habits, I've decided to establish and enforce some 'clothes shopping rules' to spend my pennies more wisely and enjoy my purchases more. This is maybe a little different for my blog but it's something that's been on my mind a lot lately, so I figured I'd share and maybe get some more tips from you guys in exchange; how does that sound?
 1. Be yourself. Take a good look at what you have and think about the things you like to wear the most - allow yourself to be you and enjoy your favorite things, no matter what other people are buying; follow only the trends that you like. For me, I've always preferred more fitted t-shirts to the larger boxy designs that are all the rage right now and also, I'm on my feet a lot so heels can only be a special occasion shoe for me, even though I love how glamorous they look on others and how much they elongate the legs.

2. Don't hesitate to buy things with a very specific purpose if you need them. I'd put off buying rain boots for 3 years even though I live in the Seattle area and I have one old battered swimming suit that doesn't fit because 'Oh, I don't really need it all that often'. This is just plain ridiculous.

3. Splurge on staples and classic wardrobe pieces. Why do I still use a $2 fraying pleather belt with my dress pants? It's alright to spend more on things you wear regularly and which don't go out of style for a long time, like a timeless white oxford shirt (that I personally still don't have), black slacks, good quality camis, opaque black tights.

4. Only settle for the best when shopping for your staples. Trendy little pieces can come and go but don't buy the basic building blocks of your closet because 'they're ok, I guess'. They need to be perfect (in your respective price range, of course!).

5. Before going out to shop, take a last good look at your closet; pay attention to colors, fits, lenghts, textures and patterns of the pieces you own. It will help you avoid buying very similar things to what you already have as well as allow you to visualize possible pairings and outfit ideas. Also, keep a running wishlist that reflects what your wardrobe might be currently lacking; try to shop more for necessities rather than immediate likes.
6. Only buy if a piece fits (almost) perfectly and feels comfortable on (that means trying things on, and occasionally returning an item, peeps). Remember how your favorite clothes and shoes are the ones that fit like a glove! This year alone I've bought two pairs of ballet flats that simply don't fit my very narrow feet, what a waste :(

7. Every once in a while, identify a group of items that you're banned from purchasing; i.e. things that you already have a lot of. It's fine to have more of the things you wear regularly, like tank tops or scarves for me, but realistically, how many do you actually need? Going through my drawers, I officially don't need any more long-sleeved tops or Victoria's Secret bras - so I'm giving up buying these items until I decide to downsize what I already have.

This is it for now - I'm sure I'm forgetting something but it's a start. I'm thinking of posting similar shopping 'rules and regulations' for make-up, as well as a separate guide on downsizing your stash and making the most of your collection; I have more deep thoughts, people! Let me know if that is something you'd be interested in reading, and don't forget to share your best shopping tips in the comments :)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dehydrated Skin 101

For the longest time, I'd been convinced my skin was definitely oily; I always have to blot at least once throughout the day, my pores are enlarged and I'm very acne-prone - that points to oily, right? But then, a friendly esthetician at 'Quality' Perfumery in Warsaw suggested my skin was definitely severely dehydrated and out-of-balance, which is why I was mostly getting breakouts on my cheeks. The diagnosis was then confirmed by my dermatologist here in WA, so I started a hunt for new skincare products to cater to my newly discovered skin condition.

If you'd like to learn more about the difference between dry and dehydrated skin and see whether your skin might be dehydrated too, I highly recommend you take a peek at Beauty Mouth's blog, which explains everything far better than I could even attempt to. And don't forget to take part in her Clinics on Thursdays if you have any questions!

The first product I've tried to combat dehydration was Reviva Labs Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($22 for 1 0z./30ml). Hyaluronic acid has long been a favorite of many skincare brands, but I was interested in how this magic ingredient actually works. In fact, HA is the intercellular gel we humans all have in our skin that acts like a molecular sponge: it absorbs water from liquids we drink and then feeds the moisture to our cells. Applying HA topically helps the top layers of skin retain more moisture from the liquids we drink, not from moisture in the atmosphere, so it doesn't matter what climate you live in - it works anyway. Fascinating, huh? The Reviva Labs Hyaluronic Acid Serum is a light clear gel that soaks into the skin instantly, leaving it refreshed, hydrated and glowing. What I like most about this product apart from its effectiveness, is that the serum feels like nothing on the skin; it doesn't leave any residue at all. For someone who constantly suffers from oilies, this is a major plus! The serum is both great on its own, layered under a moisturizer or an oil (read below) as well as under make-up.

I then turned to Caudalie Vinosource Quenching Sorbet-Creme for Dehydrated and Sensitive Skin ($40 for 1.3 oz/40ml) as my hydrating moisturizer of choice. The Caudalie cream claims to 'restart internal hydrating mechanisms and restore water reserves' with grape seed polyphenols, organic grape water and fortifying and moisturizing Vinolevure. The product has a light, liquidy cream texture that absorbs quickly, but leaves a bit of a shiny/sticky residue on the skin. It's also very heavily perfumed, which is a bit counterproductive for a product aimed at sensitive skin. My biggest gripe with this Sorbet-Creme however is that I don't really think it provides any lasting hydration to the skin - so I wouldn't really recommend this one to be honest, despite many rave reviews around the blogosphere.

My last purchase was the Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil for Dehydrated Skin ($50 for 1 oz./30ml), following a glowing recommendation from Beauty Mouth herself. I will admit that I was very skeptical; I've tried using face oils before with no noticeable results, and then I didn't exactly have the best experience with Clarins products in the past. This little bottle of golden goodness has me converted though. It's a lovely, light oil with 100% natural plant extracts and a mostly patchouli scent - patchouli oil is actually the second ingredient! Speaking of ingredients, the list here is short and sweet: hazel seed oil, patchouli oil, fragrance, sunflower seed oil, tocopheryl acetate, blue orchid extract and fragrance compounds from the essential oils. It comes with a handy dropper that lets you dispense the exact amount of the product, which is just 2 drops for my whole face and neck. I love applying it at nighttime: I warm it a bit in my hands and lightly press into the skin to wake up with a hydrated, soft skin in the morning. It gives a very spa-like feel and I've been enjoying using it as a part of my 'unwind' routine in the evening. Highly recommended!

Other than the products discussed above, my other tips would be to find a really good, non-drying creamy cleanser (not foaming! Look out for the review of the cleanser I picked up recently), drink a lot of water and supplement with fish oil or flax oil/evening primrose oil. The supplements take about 3 months to kick in, so don't be discouraged! I also found that using a room humidifier at night helps a lot too, and my husband's allergies have definitely benefited from it as well. Similarly to the humidifier, spritzing your face once in a while with a moisturizing water (I use Mario Badescu's Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater) helps to relieve dehydration too.

I hope this post was helpful to some of you battling dehydrated skin, or at least you've had a little sneak peek into my skincare routine. Have you ever suffered from dehydrated skin? What are your favorite products for hydration?

Disclaimer: The Reviva Labs Hyaluronic Acid Serum was provided to me for review consideration by Reviva Labs. I am not compensated to feature it on my blog nor am I affiliated with the brand. All other products featured were purchased by me with my own money. All opinions are my own and 100% honest, as always!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dermatologic Treatment: My Experience and Tips

Remember how I asked whether you wanted to hear about my experience at a dermatologist? It seems that you were generally interested, and on top of that, I've been getting a lot of wonderful comments asking about my skincare and the foundation I'm using, so I've felt it's only appropriate to try and explain what's been going on with my skin recently. Fetch yourselves a cup of tea (non-caffeinated, of course!), it's going to be a long and rambly one.

I visited my dermatologist's office in mid-January, following more and more serious flare-ups of eczema on my hands (btw, I'm not going to mention the names of my doctor or the specific medications I was prescribed; but if you're local, shoot me an email and I'd be happy to recommend her practice). I was treated for the same problem before but my condition worsened a lot this year, so I was looking for some advice and also thought I could just ask about the acne on my face; at least I'd be able to hear another point of view. In this post, I'm going to discuss the treatment I was prescribed for acne, but if you still want to hear about how I'm dealing with eczema, I can write a separate post about that too :)

To give you more background information, my current doctor is the third dermatologist that has treated me for acne. When I was a teenager, my aunt who is a dermatologist prescribed me different things over the course of a couple years that generally did not work and that I wouldn't touch with a pole right now. Then as a student, I visited another doctor and that treatment didn't do a whole lot of good for me either: I was put on oral antibiotic (tetracycline) that didn't work and had a bunch of topical creams that left me red, peeling and with the same breakouts as before. At this point, I vowed never to go back to a dermatologist again and try to get a handle on my acne on my own; but to be honest, that wasn't working either. Ok, back to the story!

First of all, my dermatologist's office feels very inviting: all the front desk staff and nurses are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful, and the space has a nice vibe to it as well. The doctor herself is efficient, energetic and all her suggestions seem thought-out and reasonable. When I asked about the acne on my face, her first reaction was: 'Oh really, but your acne is so mild!'. She wasn't dismissing my problem, that was her honest evaluation; it made me really happy to hear that, because I had often felt in the past that I was exaggerating the problem in my head. Following that, she decided on putting me on a very low dose of a different oral antibiotic (minocycline) that she said could also help with my eczema. She also gave me two topical creams: a combination antibiotic (clindamycin) and tretinoin (form of vit. A, a retinoid) for the evening and an antibacterial cream containing dapsone for the morning. The nurse gave me little samples of all the medication to start me on the treatment right away, as well as an acne information sheet and a lot of coupons to take with me to the pharmacy.

In all honesty, boy I'm glad she gave me those coupons - I had no idea prescription medication could be so expensive! I have a pretty good insurance, but let's just say that if I didn't have neither the insurance nor the coupons, one of the topical creams would have cost me $500. What?! Even the pharmacist commented they gave me really expensive stuff.

I started using my medications right away and... I noticed IMMEDIATE results. I was trying not to expect much, but the effect was just miraculous! I stopped breaking out instantly and the breakouts I had started to heal very fast. The first two weeks, I used the gel with tretinoin every three nights, then every two nights, and then every night - I had very bad experiences with tretinoin before so I wanted to make sure I gave my skin some time to get used to it. This time, I only experienced very minimal peeling around my nose and on my chin, and that was it.

I'm over 6 weeks into the treatment and MY. SKIN. IS. CLEAR. I cannot believe it myself! I'm still dealing with hyperpigmentation and scarring, and as of right now, I have ONE small red bump on my chin that's disappearing already. The texture of my skin is a lot better too - I only have very few tiny bumps/clogged pores left and my pores are tighter/cleaner overall. I'm jumping for joy, ladies! I haven't had such good skin since I was 13 - I've had to deal with acne half of my life! I went in for a check-up 4 weeks into the treatment (more for eczema than acne, but obviously they still had a look at my face) and the doctor was very happy with the results too.

You might be thinking 'Yeah, Monika, I'm happy for you, but how does all of this help my skin?'. Well, here's a couple things I've learnt through my acne struggle and treatment that you may want to know if you're considering giving a dermatologic treatment a try.

1. The first treatment plan may not work. I've tried a fair share of prescription acne medication before having a lot of success with the current ones - so it might take time before you find medication that's effective for YOU. It's important to have a doctor who's willing to experiment and change the treatment according to your body's response. The cheat sheet I was given stated: 'There's a lot of different acne medications on the market so it might be a while before we try something that works for you but we will find it and your acne WILL get better! Don't give up hope!'. I think it's a very important message that none of my previous doctors thought of conveying to me. Practically, it means that after initial 12 weeks of treatment, you should go for a follow-up visit, and if your medication is not working, the doctor should suggest a new course of treatment.

2. If you're prescribed a retinoid, start small. The concentration of tretinoin in my medication is 0.025% - a miniscule amount! But it works, and it works without making my skin angry, red and flaky. Also, start by using it only couple times a week; remember to use a very small amount, just a dab whenever you need and spread evenly. I was also told to wait 10-15 minutes before the application and after I cleanse my face to avoid irritation and not to use the cream for about a week if I plan on having my brows waxed or a laser treatment, as it could simply rip the skin. Retinoids work as exfoliating agents, so make sure you're not overexfoliating, for example by using your Clarisonic/PMD/physical scrubs too often on top of the medication. If you're still peeling badly, ask the doctor about switching to a lower concentration.

3. Wear sunscreen! Both retinoids and oral antibiotics increase your skin's photosensitivity, so don't even think about going out without a layer of sun protection! Also, sun rays make hyperpigmentation marks even worse, so really, you'd be shooting yourself in the foot.

4. Hydrate your skin. Both antibiotics and retinoids can dehydrate your skin pretty badly - and mine was dehydrated to start with. Drink a lot of water, use hydrating skincare products, maybe even invest in an air humidifier; I'll be writing a separate post on how I combat dehydration, so stay tuned.

5. Supplement your diet. One of the drawbacks of oral antibiotics is that they often kill the good bacteria as well as the bad bacteria, so supplement with probiotics pills - or eat a lot of yoghurt, or even drink kombucha! Also, try to get into the habit of taking fish oil/ evening primrose oil capsules, as they help the skin from the inside a lot as well.

Pfff, I think that's it for now! I hope this post has been at least somewhat helpful - please leave your experiences and any questions you might have in the comments below, I'd love to know what you think!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Rocaille Redes: Daytime Smokey for Almond Eyes with MAC

After my last little photo tutorial, I've had a lot of requests for more tips on how to make up almond-shaped eyes; this step-by step guide is quite similar to the previous one, but easier (hence I hesitated about even posting it) and might also be useful to those with hooded eyes or eyes that don't have a visible crease (monolids).

1. Start with a primed eye to prolong the wear of your eye make-up. If your lids are quite oily like mine, I find that sweeping a thin layer of face powder before smoothing on an eye base extends the wear by another couple hours. Pat MAC eyeshadow in Patina all over the eye, starting at the base of the lashes and blending up slightly above the socket, so that the color is still visible when you look straight ahead.

2. Push MAC eyeshadow in Charcoal Brown into the lash line, concentrating on the outer corner and blending upwards.

3. Add a little Charcoal Brown eyeshadow to the lower lashline, going about 1/3 to 1/2 way in. I find that going all the way in with a darker shade on upper and/or lower lashline makes my eyes appear smaller.

4. Dab a bit of a highlighting shade, such as MAC Ricepaper, in the inner corner of the eye.

5. Apply a very thin line of dark brown eyeliner (Annabelle Smudgeliner in Chocolate Brown) on the upper lashline, going about 2/3 in. I usually tend to do a tiny wing at the end of my lashline that remains mostly hidden behind my lashes when my eyes are open, but it does still elongate the shape of eye even further. Curl your lashes, apply a good coat of mascara (I actually never wear more than one coat, two coats just look way too clumpy on me!) and you're good to go!

Also, Happy Valentine's Day, my glamorous readers! If I was up to anything Valentine's-related today, I'd probably still go for a make-up look similar to this one, but we haven't got anything special planned - I'm thinking cuddling under the blanket, chai tea latte and a romantic movie. Please let me know your plans (or movie recommendations) in the comments, I'd love to know!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Shopping My Stash, Pretty Boxes and a Tea Party

I cannot believe it; the sun actually came out today for an hour or two and I had the unique opportunity to take some blog photos without digging out my light box! So now for something completely different... I just wanted to quickly show you how I've been trying to shop my make-up stash recently, maybe that'll be somewhat inspiring? If not, there are pretty boxes to look at further down and also some Valentine's Day info for local readers :)

After coming back home from our Christmas trip, I decided my vanity table needed a little reorganizing; yes, that's also when I realized just how much unused make-up I have. So in an attempt to rotate my stuff regularly, I purchased this little basket ($.3.99 from Cost Plus World Market) and have been putting my everyday products in it ever since. I don't really change my face products out a whole lot (because I'm desparate to use them up!), but I try to pick out a different eyeshadow palette and blush every week, and I also rotate my lip products even more often. Here's what's in this week's basket:

This way I not only feel that I get much more use out of my products, but it also pushes me to try some new looks once in a while. The result can be seen below - I did a one-eyeshadow smokey eye using a beautiful blue/grey from Sleek's Oh So Special palette. To be honest, I still can't quite decide whether it brings out my eye color more or I just look like someone punched me in the face, but it is fun to shake things up a bit sometimes.

I also purchased two more pretty boxes at Marshall's. I use the black wooden box with an 'M' initial (yep, my real name is not actually Rocaille... sorry to disappoint) at my bed-side table for all my medicines, because I don't really like looking at them. I still haven't found a purpose for the Paris photo/shoe box, but having spare boxes never hurt anyone, right?

Lastly, for all my local readers looking for fun girly things to do over the Valentine's Day weekend, there's an awesome trunk show coming up on February 11 (Sat) at Sweet Anthem Handmade Perfumes atelier in West Seattle. From 12-4pm, you'll find flowers, perfumes and candles by Meredith Smith of Sweet Anthem and Nikki Sherritt of Gabriel's Aunt/Rebel & Mercury, as well as chocolates and truffles by Anne Dowell of Garden Bon Bons and Lydia Love of Chakralat. There'll be tea, gifts with purchase and an opportunity to chat with local artisans. Perfume and sweets? Sign me up, please! Learn more and RSVP at the event's FB page here.

Have you found any new storage solutions for your make-up area? What are your plans for Valentine's Day? Please let me know in the comments!