Friday, June 25, 2010

New hair!

Hello sweethearts, just a quick post to show you My! New! Hair!

I haven't dyed my hair, it's forever changing the color in different lights.

Ok, it's not that revolutionary, but the hairdresser hacked off at least 10 cm for some layers and much more for the others, so it feels very different - certainly much lighter! I don't know if I like it yet, I'll have to wear it for a couple more days to see how it behaves. I'm thinking it might be a bit too short for my liking; but it'll grow back soon with my rate of hair growth. Speaking of hair, I decided that I don't really like trips to the hairdresser's; despite my love for all things beautiful and vain, these places make me feel out of place and uncomfortable. How about you?

On a different note, I'm leaving Warsaw tomorrow at 6.45 am and after a VERY long journey will finally arrive in Seattle. I'm in the midst of frantically packing my belongings and worrying about everything. I didn't envisage feeling so stressed out; in my mind, I imagined myself calm and anticipating the move, but it's none of that. I guess I've realized that I am in fact turning over a new leaf.

Have a wonderful Friday evening and next time I'll be posting for you from the other side of the pond! How does that sound? xxx

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Beauty is Made of: Base Oils

Ok, I admit it: I'm addicted to reading labels. Be it clothing, food or cosmetics in particular, I can't help it; I passionately decypher the ingredients' list and pretend to be all the wiser. I'm sure at least some of you share this obsession with me, but how often do we actually know what the ingredients that make up our cosmetics really are? Most of the time, I don't. Do you?

I've been thinking about this recently while browsing natural skincare lines. I've noticed that I'm much more drawn to the products which the producer supplied with not only an ingredients' list, but also a detailed description of what each ingredient is supposed to do for my skin. Maybe it's just me, but I love knowing what it is that I'm putting on my face and how it is supposed to work to my skin's benefit.

Pursuing that train of thought, I decided to start a new series 'What Beauty is Made of', in which I'll try to break down the most common (or the coolest :) skincare ingredients for you, explaining what they are and what they do. Sounds interesting? Keep reading; if not, come back later.

So today we're going to devote ourselves to the study of base oils, which are also called carrier oils, fixed oils or vegetable oils (do I sound like a teacher? That's probably because I am one). Base oils are commonly used in natural skincare to dilute and carry essential oils into the skin. They differ from essential oils in that they usually have a delicate scent, aren't volatile and are derived from the fatty portion of a plant (seeds, kernels, nuts) and not from leaves or flowers as in the case of essential oils. Similarly to essential oils, base oils have many benefits; they contain vitamins, minerals and Essential Fatty Acids which are indispensable for our skin. To preserve all these fragile nutritients, base oils should be produced using cold-pressing, cold expeller pressing or maceration method.

Let's take a closer look at some of my favorite base oils:

Olive (Olea europaea) oil - The most readily available and universally beneficial oil. It's quite heavy and has a distinct scent, but works miracles on the skin: it's a great moisturizer (it's rich in omega-9 fatty acids and antioxidants), works a treat as a cleansing oil, can be used in a bath or combined with sugar for a great natural exfoliator. Try Spa Goddess's DIY lavender honey salt scrub recipe - it's good enough to eat!

Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) oil
- This oil is produced from a beautiful flower which blooms at the sunset, hence the name (how romantic!). Rich in omega-6 and other acids, it has an anti-inflammatory effect and helps to reduce swelling and irritation. It's beneficial in the treatment of various skin conditions including acne, eczema and psoriasis. Softens and hydrates the skin.

Jojoba (Simmondsia chinesis) oil - In fact, it's a wax produced from leathery leaves of a desert shrub of jojoba. Its composition is similar to that of skin's natural oils, which makes it a perfect treatment for oilier skin types: it mimicks the sebum so that your skin doesn't have to produce that much of it. It has anti-inflammatory properties as well and a very long shelf life.

Rose Hip (Rosa mosqueta) oil
- This expensive oil hydrates the skin and retards the appearance of skin-aging signs, photo-aging included. It also reduces scars, helps strengthen broken capillaries and can be used to treat damaged, brittle hair or sunburns.

Meadowfoam (Limnathes alba) oil
- Rich in Vitamin E, which helps to combat the signs of aging. It moisturizes the skin, protects it from sunrays and adds shine to lifeless hair. It's very stable and soaks in easily without leaving a greasy residue.

Have you tried any of these oils? What are your favorites? I hope you enjoyed this post and the concept of the series and stay tuned for a new chapter next week: we're going to experiment with hydrosols.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rocaille of the Day: Golden Touch

It may have been the hottest day of the year so far and I had a) an exam to pass b) two classes to teach c) an appointment at the doctor's, with the extensive use of public transport in between. Yes, I felt sweaty and sticky, but with my favorite skirt on, a teeny tiny bit prettified.

Light grey t-shirt: C&A
Skirt: Camaieu
Gold sandals: Spring
Necklace: Reserved
Leather bag: Quiosque

Hair was put up in a bun and slept on; it looked pretty in the morning, but fell a great deal throughout the day. On the lips: Sleek Pout Polish in Perfect Plum. Interestingly, it didn't melt in the pot, so I reckon you can even take this one with you to the beach.

I'm so glad you liked the last one, lovelies, and I hope you enjoy this outfit as well! I picked up a very nice pair of flowery summer pants and new sunglasses yesterday and I'm planning to feature them quite soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that! Have a fabulous Sunday evening! xxx

Friday, June 11, 2010

Review: La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo

LRP Effaclar Duo is a "corrective and unclogging anti-imperfection care" and the newest addition to the brand's Effaclar range aimed at oily acne-prone skin. I picked it up back in February after my skin started acting really strange even for its standards and I desperately needed something to calm it down. It comes in a 40 ml tube and retails for about £12.00.

The product claims to be revolutionary in fighting acne and, as with all skincare of this type, to purify pores, reduce imperfections, clear and smooth the skin as well as help it regain its balance. It contains 4 active ingredients:

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3): has potent anti-inflammatory properties and regulates sebaceous lipid. It also has anti-aging effects and decreases hyperpigmentation. Pretty much a miracle worker, no?

Piroctone olamine: this compound is often used in anti-dandruff shampoos, but apart from that, is an anti-oxidant with antibacterial properties. It has a soothing effect on inflamed skin.

Linoleic acid (LHA): is a derivative of salicylic acid (BHA) which has been proven to be a gentler but as effective alternative to its cousin. They're both oil-soluble unlike AHAs and therefore more efficient in treating acne. It stimulates cell renewal for faster skin regeneration.

Salicylic acid (BHA): softens, loosens and sheds dead skin cells on the skin's surface and therefore helps to deal with acne and but also with aging skin (it's often used in chemical peels).

- gel-like consistency which absorbs fast into the skin. I used it mostly at night all over, but also on problem areas during the day: I applied the gel, waited for it to act, and applied moisturizer on top. Most people don't know that acid treatments are only effective for the first 20 minutes and can be followed with any other cream as needed. In fact, they should be followed with an SPF, as using acids can lead to hyperpigmentation marks.
- non-drying: it isn't really moisturizing, but it doesn't make your skin feel Sahara dry either as most acne treatments can
- handy and sanitary packaging
- in comparison to Effaclar K from the same range, I do feel this is more effective and gentler on my sensitive skin
- paraben-free
- the tube will probably last me up to 10 months

- producer's selective information strategy: La Roche Posay drum their product as innovative for containing LHA, but in fact, there's more salicylic than linoleic acid in it, the fact which isn't mentioned anywhere in the product information. This is quite misleading to say the least.
- no revolutionary effects: no, ladies, this product did not save my skin. It works ok for controlling minor blemishes, but it won't make them or your blackheads disappear overnight. Also, it won't heal your cystic pimples, but will help in calming them down.
- scent: not unpleasant, but quite chemically citrusy
- quite contrary to what the producer claims, it doesn't mattify my skin at all

Will I repurchase? Maybe at some point in the future. It's an all right product but nothing miraculous; I do like however that it doesn't dry out my skin completely which is a rare quality in anti-acne skincare. If you have oily, acne-prone skin like me and you're looking for an everyday acid treatment, this does a very decent job.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rocaille of the Day: Back to school

I've profited from the occasion that I was alone at the house today and took a couple of photos in the garden to show you my 'back to school' outfit. By 'back to school' I don't mean that school year in Poland starts in June (that'd be silly even for Poland), but rather that I am back at high school, and this time - as a teacher. I'm having my English teaching internship now and today was the first day that I actually taught a class of 17 year olds. I was trying to make myself look 'mature', but let's face it: I look like I was 17 myself.

Striped tee: Reserved
Red skirt: H&M
Belt: Reserved
Sequined flats: Deichmann
Coral earrings and shell bracelet: presents from Mum
Watch: Fossil

I'm confined to wearing glasses right now because of the allergy to grass pollen; normally I never wear them. Do you girls also prefer contact lenses? They're much more comfortable in my opinion!

I opted for neutral eyes with a splash of color on the lips; sorry if it's worn off a bit, it was a long and very hot day! I've got a bit of Covergirl Tapestry Taupe shadow on the lid with MAC Satin Taupe blended in the crease and Prestige Powerful Purple liner smudged into the lashline, which is one of my favorite everyday looks. On the lips: MAC Jest lipstick.

Let me know if you enjoy this kind of posts, lovelies, and have a great week! xxx

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Share the love, spread the word

Hi lovelies, I hope your Saturday was as good as mine: breakfast on the terrace, sunbathing in the garden, reading magazines and eating strawberries! Anyway, the purpose of this post is not really to brag about how nice my weekend's been so far, but to let you know about some beautiful blogs I've discovered recently. I'm sure you'll find an interesting read among these!

9to5 Chic - a fashion blog full of amazing outfit of the day posts, fashion lemmings and inspiring pieces. Anh has a style to die for, I wish I was even half as glam as she is! She has also got an enviable collection of Chanel purses and I love how beautifully she combines high end with high street clothes.

A Certain Vintage - a new blog featuring a lovely mix of everything girly: vintage beauty tips, vintage photoshoots, product reviews and quite a few red lip looks, which I'm always partial to. A must-read if you like that pin-up feel.

Beauty Mouth - beautiful reading from a third generation beauty industry insider. I just love her witty style of writing about brands, products, treatments and facials. She sets her standards very high so if she recommends something, you can rest assured it's the very best. Perfect source for insider tips and interviews with inspirational MUAs.

Musing on Beauty - glamorous home to reviews (with a pechant for foundations), favorites, hauls and faces of the day posts. I trust her opinion on products, especially that her taste seems to be similar to mine :) I'm also loving her courage to wear orange lips so stylishly, she created many a lemming in this unrepentant beauty addict!

The Beauty Bite - OMG, this girl is simply stunning. On her face, every product looks like a must-have, so no, I wouldn't recommend heading over there if you want to limit your make-up spending. I could kill for her skin. Beautifully illustrated reviews and product comparisons.

So, there you have it! Which new or not-so-new blogs would you, girls, recommend? xxx

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Natural vs organic skincare

The proper summer weather with lots of sunshine and warm, lazy days always encourages me to turn to a healthier lifestyle: drinking more water, eating veggies and fruit, long walks and, of course, cleaner cosmetics. I've always been reading ingredients lists obssesively and for some time now I have gradually been trying to eliminate as many chemicals from my skincare as I can - and my skin has been thankful for that!

Photo source:

In my research regarding healthier skincare options, I've come across an interesting distinction between natural and organic products. Isn't this just marketing, you may ask? It turns out the difference is actually crucial.

Any company can label any of their products as natural, and I've found examples of 'natural' Cheetos crisps or Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Between 2007 and 2008, the U.S. natural food market grew by 10 percent to $12.9 billion. Many consumers believe that 'natural' products are greener than 'organic', an adjective which to them sounds like a fancy way of saying 'expensive', according to an article published in the Chicago Tribune.

Certified organic, on the other hand, means that a product contains no silicone derivatives, artificial aromas, preservatives or fillers. These products have to meet strict requirements of a certifying body and are toxin-free and safe for your body. If you choose to buy organic cosmetics, always check the packaging for Organic Certification and read the ingredients list. If you can't recognize the words, it probably means the product contains synthetic chemicals. Also, if one of the first ingredients on the list is water, it may be that you're buying mainly water with a few drops of organic essential oils.

I'm not going to lie to you, 'all natural' product claims have got me in the past as well. There are many cosmetic companies on the market that we associate with natural or organic products while in fact, they still use synthetic ingredients. Think The Body Shop, Liz Earle or Lush. Don't get me wrong, buying organic or non-organic products is purely up to a consumer, not all skincare companies have to go organic at once; but I wish their marketing was more transparent.

Speaking of healthier cosmetics, in my quest for finding the perfect tinted moisturizer, I've come across 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20. While the company makes no claims of being organic (no certification? but I appreciate the honesty), the ingredients list reveals some delicious pigments, extracts and oils; and no water, which also means no preservatives! I've decided that instead of getting something cheaper but definitely less healthy, I'm going to save up and get this little beauty together with one of their gorgeous Lip & Cheek Tints. Rarely does a product make me so excited!

What's your take on natural and organic skincare? Have you ever felt tricked by some dishonest marketing?