Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Air Travel Essentials

With Christmas drawing closer and closer and many of us hitting the road for family get-togethers, I thought I'd share my air travel essentials with you, my lovely blogettes. Now, I'm no expert, but I've had a fair share of transatlantic flights in my twenty and some years of life, with even more to come in the future. For me, preparing for a 15-hour plane trip requires a bit of strategic planning: what to do the night before, what to wear, what to take with you, what to do during the flight, how to unwind afterwards. Most of you won't probably need to know all that if you're just hopping between cities (within the US or Canada) or countries (within Europe), but I hope you'll find some of the tips helpful.

Before the flight:
1. Make sure to thoroughly hydrate your body and moisturize the skin. It will prevent you from feeling absolutely crappy after the journey and also minimize the effects of a jetlag.
2. Dress in layers. In my experience, the air conditioning in the cabin is usually cranked up so high that I shiver even underneath the fleece blanket. I find that a warm wide scarf can be a lifesaver: you can use it as a wrap or make a bundle to use as a pillow.
3. Make a packing list to ensure you've taken all the important stuff like passport, medicine, mobile phone charger and so on.
4. If you're a contact lens wearer, wear your glasses this time. Dozing off in your lenses is not the best idea, plus your eyes will feel so dry from the air in the cabin that it's best to put up with your eyeglasses just this once.

What to pack in your carry-on:
1. A water bottle. I know that flight attendants are supposed to bring you water every time you ask them, but sometimes it's too much of a bother, like when everyone's asleep and you don't want to disturb. You can empty your water bottle before the search and then fill it again before boarding or even ask a flight attendant on the plane to fill it for you. I absolutely love my Camelback for kids!
2. A travel pillow. A must-have for those long overnight flights if you don't want to end up with a cramp in your neck. The one in the photo is from a Seattle-based company called Bucky and has a super soft, bamboo fabric, millet hull filling and a strap to attach it to your bag.
3. Warm fuzzy socks! Take your shoes off once you're on board and put warm, soft socks on instead. It makes a huge difference!
4. A good book (or two). No explanation necessary.
5. An mp3 player. I do need to take my music with me... I might even have a Christmas playlist on my iPod to put me in the holiday spirit.
6. A good lip balm. Absolutely indispensable and can be used on other parts of your body too. My favorite is still the Badger Creamy Cocoa Organic lip balm.
7. Moist towelettes and a toner in a small spray bottle. These two together get rid of the yucky feeling that settles in towards the end of the journey. You won't feel like something the cat just dragged in as your family gives you a warm welcome at the airport.
8. Dispensable tooth brush with a paste bead (e.g. Colgate Wisp). They don't require water or rinsing, so they're perfect on the go.
9. No matter if you're carring your toiletteries in the carry-on or check-in luggage, transfer your everyday necessities into smaller pots and bottles. Also, I collect different samples and travel sizes with this purpose in mind, like the Angel Face Botanicals Jasmine moisturizer, Clinique All About Eyes eyecream or the deluxe sample of Marc Jacobs Daisy perfume (however, check if you're not allergic to these products beforehand!) I'd also recommend taking the body stuff in a solid form if possible, like Lush soap bars or Massage Bars as body moisturizer; they won't spill all over your luggage!

After the flight:
1. Again, drink lots of water to rehydrate your organism.
2. Take a nice, not-too-long bubble bath and put a moisturizing mask on.
3. For the big differences in time zones, try to adapt to the new time zone from the first day. If you arrive in the middle of the day but it's nighttime where you're travelling from, don't go to sleep right away if you don't absolutely have to. Persevere and believe me, the jetlag won't last nearly as long.

Here you go, just a couple of quick tips from me for all of you world travellers! Let me know your air travel essentials, tips and experiences in the comments. x

Friday, December 17, 2010

Rocaille Redes: Retro Curls without Heat

Credit has to be given to the lovely YouTuber who originally came up with this idea, Maria from The Lipstick Diaries. I strongly recommend you watch her tutorial for the step by step how to on this no-heat technique, but here's the result I achieved:

left: my hair in the evening, right: the end result in the morning

A couple of tips:
1. I used a bit of light hair mousse (TRESemme Naturals Lightweight Mousse) in my hair from ears down for a bit more volume and hold.
2. Even on my long hair, the whole process took about 10 minutes. Super quick and easy!
3. The headband won't slide off your head at night, no worries. It's also reasonably comfortable provided you find a good, not too tight headband.
4. Those curls, as you can see in the photo, aren't perfect, but they're bouncy and voluminous and take the least time from all the methods I've tried so far. And most importantly, this technique won't damage your hair!

Do check out Maria's channel and I hope this was helpful for those of you looking for easy Holiday hair style ideas! What's your inspiration for the perfect Christmas party hairdo?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review: Clinique High Definition Lashes Mascara

I picked up a sample of this product during the recent online bonus offer and decided to use it during my holiday travels. According to Clinique, the High Definition Lashes Brush then Comb mascara, retailing for $14, "transforms each and every lash with extreme length and definition": first, you're supposed to use the brush side of the wand to "coat with dramatic color", and then the comb side to "separate to perfection".

Here's the effect on my otherwise bare eyes: the first photo shows 1 coat using only the brush side, the second 2 coats after using the comb side and then combing through with a spoolie.

What I like:
- 1 coat of the brush side gives very natural, separated long lashes; 2 coats of the brush side give a bit more drama, but still very much day-time appropriate
- the shade is sufficiently black
- the mini size is perfect for traveling and lasts a long time
- the product didn't irritate my eyes

Comb side: Welcome to Clumptown, plus my top lashes are sticking to the bottom ones!

What I dislike:
- the wand picks up too much product and the excess has to be wiped off on the neck of the tube
- the wand is quite difficult to use without smudging the mascara on the skin
- the comb side is a total mess: heavily coated with product, clumps the lashes together and even a vigourous combing with a spoolie can't fix it
- lashes are coated unevenly, wiggling the wand at the roots gives no effect and most of the mascara ends up at the ends of my lashes
- the mascara flakes off within minutes of application and transfers on the lids

Will I repurchase? No. Initially, I thought the idea was very nifty and after using lengthening mascaras with a comb wand such as L'Oreal Telescopic, I had high hopes for this. I find it ironic that the brush side gives much more definition that the comb side. If the wand was just a regular brush, it would be an okay product, but the addition of the comb totally ruins it for me.

I hope this was helpful! Let me know your experience with Clinique mascaras in the comments. Stay warm, my lovelies! x

Friday, December 10, 2010

Holiday Gift Ideas: Beauty Edition

From stocking stuffers to gift sets... Some ideas for Holiday presents a beauty addict would love to find under the tree!

1. Chloe Eau de Parfum Spray, with notes of pink peony, freesia, lychee, magnolia flower, lilly of the valley, rose, cedarwood, amber and honey, $25 - $110
2. Z Palette, a free form storage miracle for pressed make-up pans, $14 (small) or $20 (large)
3. Urban Decay 24/7 Jackpot, an eyeliner set perfect for both beginners and pros (read my review here), $39
4. NYX 10 Color Eyeshadow Palette, my favorite sets are Champagne & Caviar and Versus, $9.75
5. Lush Snow Fairy shower gel, a candy cane, fruity classic, $8.95 - $24.95
6. EcoTools Mineral Brush set, 4 amazingly soft, sustainable, vegan brushes for both powder and cream make-up, $12.99
7. China Glaze 'Tis the Season to be Naughty and Nice' Holiday 2010 nail polishes, my favorite is definitely Mrs. Claus (read my review here), $3.50 - $.4.50, also available in gift sets, $10
8. Lush wrapped gift sets, great bath products in price ranges accessible to everyone's wallet, $10.95 - $199.95
9. John Varvatos Vintage Eau de Toilette Spray (for men), which smells like 'good, expensive alcohol' to my husband, $58 - $78

I hope this gave you some inspiration for your Holiday shopping! Please share your gift ideas in the comments. Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Seattle's Urban Craft Uprising 2010

This past weekend, Seattle Center Exhibition Hall hosted another edition of Urban Craft Uprising, an indie craft show featuring lots of Etsy shops and other small businesses selling handmade items. It was a perfect opportunity to pick up great unique gifts for the upcoming Holiday season, so the hall was bustling with busy shoppers and enthusiastic sellers. Just take a look!

photo credit: Mr

I really liked The Victory Garden's Christmas tree ornaments and creative neckwear designs!

MeMe's 'Lush-like stuff', as Mr was eager to observe...

These Devout Dolls' two-headed dolls and little deer toys are absolutely amazing, if a tinsy bit creepy :)

Can you spot two busy beauty bloggers talking jewellery?

I picked up a pair of garnet earrings from ElisabethSpace for mum-in-law, an eyeglass case for my little sister-in-law, and this keyring for myself, both from Maluhia Designs. Magic mushrooms are the best! The little pocket mirror was a bonus, how cute?

Will you be gifting any handmade presents this Holiday season? When I was a teenager, I used to make all of my Christmas gifts, including stamping my own wrapping paper! This year however I'll stick to the above-pictured items, and maybe make some bead necklaces for both mums... How about you?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review: Urban Decay 24/7 Jackpot set

What's a better time to review this Urban Decay Holiday 2010 offering than the beginning of December? It's been out for a while now and I snatched it at the Sephora Friends & Family sale, but I think it would make an amazing Holiday gift for both a beauty beginner and a make-up junkie. Read on to find out why!

This 24/7 Glide-on eyeliner set comes with 9 colorful mini pencils and 1 full size black pencil, and it's priced at $39. The mini pencils are 0.5 g/ 0.02 US oz, and the full size pencil is 1.2 g/ 0.04 US oz, so they mini one is approximately half of the regular pencil. Here's a size comparison for you:

The Jackpot set includes the following shades:

- Eldorado, a yellow gold with silver shimmer
- Whiskey, a creamy matte red-based brown
- Stash, a golden olive with golden shimmer
- Mildew, a pearly forest green
- Electric, a light turquoise with silver shimmer
- Ranson, a pearly blue-based purple
- Binge, a pearly navy blue
- Rockstar, a pearly dark eggplant
- Gunmetal, a silver grey with silver shimmer
- Zero, a creamy matte black

The set comes in a plastic see-through packaging, which is impossible to use if you plan on storing your pencils in there. Basically, as soon as I started to play with these liners, I got myself a different storage solution: I put all of the mini pencils in a glass votive candle holder, like this:

What I like:
- Urban Decay liners rightfully deserve their cult status. Yes, they're creamy and soft, glide on like a dream, can be smudged for a smokier look, but once set, they do not budge. Not exactly waterproof, but quite water-resistant and longwearing. Amazing quality pencils!
- The shades in the set are thoughtfully selected: there are matte, pearl and shimmery finishes, more toned down colors as well as some funky ones like gold or turquoise. Versatile and easy to use for both everyday and dramatic eye looks.
- At $39 dollars, which is $5 more than a price of two full-sized pencils ($17 apiece), I think it's great value
- Those cute mini pencils are perfect for travelling or carrying in your bag
- The set allows you to try a variety of shades before committing to a full size product

What I dislike:
- The plastic outer packaging of the set is a bit flimsy and difficult to use
- I imagine that after 3 or more sharpenings of the mini pencils, they will become rather impossible to use due to their length
- The transparent plastic lids on mini pencils feel quite cheap and can chop off some of your pencil when you're putting them on (yes, it did happen to me)

Will I repurchase? Given that this is a limited edition product, probably not :) But once I use up my pencils, I will be on the lookout for some other eyeliner sets from Urban Decay that come out from time to time, as I think they're good value for a high quality product and some shades that are quite difficult to dupe otherwise (my favorites being Stash, Ranson and Gunmetal!). I also believe the Jackpot set would make a beautiful and universal present this Holiday season. Get it while you can!

To finish off, here are 4 of the shades in action:

What is your favorite 24/7 eyeliner shade? Which set(s) have you got or will be getting from Holiday 2010 collections?