Monday, February 28, 2011

February Favorites

I'm not very diligent in posting my favorites regularly, the reason being that it's not that often that something really takes my fancy, and when it does, I tend to stick to it, thus making these posts a rarer occurence here on the blog. On the plus side, once you see something here, it really does bear my personal seal of approval.

Right, let's jump straight to the good stuff!

1. Neutrogena Hand Cream - not only a classic, but also an absolute winter must-have. I've been diagnosed with eczema on my hands last month and have been trying various lotions and potions since to soothe the Sahara-dry patches resulting from a steroid cream. This is the only one that provides the instant feeling of hydration which then lasts until the next hand wash.
2. Mario Badescu Drying Cream - quite on the contrary, I've been needing something drying to take care of the little bumps and spots on my face. As you can see in the photo, I only have a tiny sample, but I reckon it will last me a good couple months until it runs out, you only need a tiny amount. On my fair skin, it really conceals breakouts, and gradually takes off redness and dries them out. I love that I can just dab a tiny amount of this on any spots and look half-decent with no slap on!
3. Sugababes 'Touch' EDT 100ml - when I won it in the giveaway organized by the fabulous Charlotte, I was a bit skeptical whether I'd like it or not. The perfume includes notes of cranberry and lychee, followed by violet and rose and ending with patchouli and musk. Scent description aside, to me this smells like... magic markers. You know, the ones that came with a transparent marker that changed the colors of other markers. Strangely, I love it. It just reminds of my childhood... and something magical. The only downside is that the perfume doesn't last very long at all.
4. Essie nail polishes in 'Demure Vixen' (Summer 2010) and 'Hot Coco' (Winter 2010), see it on the nails here - these two are my first Essie polishes and like them both. I purchased them from this website for half of the original price and I really like the shades, application and finish. I'll surely be back for more!
5. NYX Mega Shine lipgloss in 'Beige' - not beige at all, but a gorgeous nudey pink for everyday that doesn't wash me out. I'll be posting a review with swatches of the shades I have soon, the formula of these is simply fantastic for the price!
6. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil in 'Eldorado' - a yellow gold infused with silver glitter which looks amazing in the inner corners and on the waterline (although due to the glitter content, I'm sure you're not supposed to wear them there). A much more interesting alternative to the skin-toned/white pencils. See the review with swatches here.
7. MAC Frost eyeshadow in 'Ricepaper' - I knew this shade to be a 'perfect' highlight shade for darker skintones, but you know what... I think it's beautiful on pale skin as well. Granted, it's more yellow based than my standard highlighting color, but I just love the subtle sheen and pigmentation of this one.
8. Milani 'Luminous' blusher - a well-known dupe for NARS 'Orgasm', a beautiful peach with lots of warm gold shimmer. Once buffed out on the cheek, it doesn't seem too frosty and imparts a beautiful glow to the cheekbones. See the swatches here and worn on the cheeks here.

You can definitely detect a theme to this month's look with all the golden shimmer, peaches and pinks. I'm getting fed up with the cold weather and cool-toned shades and starting to yearn for a more natural, warm bronzed face. What's been your favorite make-up look this month? x

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rocaille of the Day: Parisienne

What more can I say, I was feeling very French that day... To avoid confusion among the newer readers, I am NOT French - just aspiring to be, and in this great country, being European is often close enough. But I'm joking, of course.

Can you tell which fashion icon inspired my new haircut?

Body suit: vintage
Full high-waisted skirt: H&M
Black tights: ?
Patent leather shoes: Ryłko (which is a Polish company with amazing designs)
Pearl earrings: Bijou Brigitte
Dogeared 'Pearls of Wisdom' necklace
Pandora bracelet

I like this outfit. Again, it features some of my favorite wardrobe pieces: the skirt I had to have the moment I laid my eyes on it in the store, and the shoes were just too quirky to pass up.

Eyes: L'Oreal HIP 'Midnight Blue' cream eyeliner
Cheeks: Milani 'Luminous' blusher
Lips: NYX Mega Shine lipgloss in 'Dolly Pink'
Nails: Essie Holiday 2010 'Hot Coco' nail polish

Have an amazing weekend, my lovelies! We'll be probably hitting the slopes again, I've heard there's fresh snow... and maybe, just maybe, there could be a hint of sunshine? x

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rocaille Raves: The Z Palette

Finally, I've laid my greedy mits on this sleek black beauty... Ladies and gents, let me introduce you to my newest obsession, the Z Palette.

I'm sure by now everyone and their grandmother has heard about it and I might be the last person in the whole wide beauty blogging world to get it, but it doesn't negate the fact that it's an awesome product. The Z Palette is a free-form palette, meaning that it comes equipped with a large magnetized sheet at the bottom which allows you to store eyeshadows of all sizes and shapes. It's made of sturdy cardboard with a strong magnetic closure and features a transparent window so that you can see all the eyeshadow/ blusher pans inside. So far, 2 sizes and 4 colors are available, with the large palette retailing for $20 and the small one for $14 (but you can watch out for discount coupons, I got mine for about $17 with shipping!). As you can see in the photo, the palette allows you to streamline your collection of various singles, duos and trios and makes reaching for these often abandonded shadows much easier.

Eyeshadows stored in the palete: Wet'n'Wild trios in Sweet as Candy, Silent Treatment, Walking on Eggshells, Covergirl single eyeshadow in Tapestry Taupe, 3 single Inglot eyeshadows, NYX single eyeshadow in White Pearl, a very old Inglot eyeshadow trio

My palette arrived on Valentine's Day and while my husband wasn't too impressed that I immediately sat down to depot eyeshadows into it, at least he snapped some shots.

I decided on the no-heat method for depotting my shadows, using alcohol to dissolve the glue that holds the pan in its plastic packaging. I've found that some shadows were more difficult to depot than others, and also that the pans themselves seem to be made of different metals as some of them would not stick to the magnetized bottom of the palette! This was especially true for my Wet'n'Wild eyeshadow trios.

All in all, I'm more than happy with my Z Palette and I'm already thinking of buying the smaller size for travel. I love how much space it saves in my vanity drawers and how easy it's become to do eye looks with all my miscellaneous shadows. What is your favorite make-up palette?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: Maybelline Full 'N Soft Mascara

Another one in the quest for the Holy Grail of mascaras... I present you the Maybelline Full 'N Soft Washable mascara in Very Black. I believe this is not available in Europe (sorry, ladies!), and retails for around $6.

- Indeed, it washes off quite easily with warm water and cream cleanser. I have to say however that compared to other non-waterproof formulas I've tried, it's nothing special and not worth to be made into a Unique Sellling Point.
- It doesn't clump and coats lashes evenly from root to tip.
- It wears well throughout the day with minimal flaking.
- It is sufficiently black.
- It provides a very natural, defined look.

- It's neither particularly lengthening nor volumizing, which is my main gripe with this mascara. It's just not enough oomph, I almost look like I have nothing on. It's also quite difficult to build up; you can see one layer in the photo, but two layers look pretty much the same, if a bit more clumpy.
- My lashes feel neither soft nor full after using the product. If anything, they feel quite dry to the touch and the brush seems a bit scratchy.
- The tip of the brush gets coated with a big blob of product which then has to be wiped off on the neck of the tube.
- Somehow I always manage to smear it on my upper lid, no matter how hard I try. I'm not sure if it's the size of the brush... or maybe my lids are too hooded?

Will I repurchase? No. It's another of these decent, nothing special mascaras I seem to be drawn to recently (cough cough, Covergirl Lash Blast Length). If you're looking for a quick, daytime product, it might be perfect for you; for me though it's simply not enough volume... or even length.

Have you tried this Maybelline mascara? What were your thoughts? Also, please share your drugstore mascara recommendations in the comments - I'm undecided as to which one I should try next...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rocaille of the Day: The Great 1970's

As a teen, I absolutely loved the hippie style and rocked it without hesitation: long hair, head scarves, turquoise bell bottoms, flowery tops, strings upon strings of beads... I embraced the whole package. While nowadays I'm a bit more weary of fluorescent clothing and excessive accessorizing, I still like to incorporate elements of the 70's style into my outfits.

Flowy top: C&A
Wooden beads: Orsay
Dark wash skinny jeans: Abercrombie&Fitch 'Erin' Skinnies
Purse: vintage (my mum used it as a school bag in her university days)
Bracelets: vintage (again, nipped from my mum) & Pandora
Boots: Forever 21

On a different note, my hair started getting in my eyes so much that I had it cut again last week. Do you want to see how it looks now? I'll be posting some spring trends inspired looks soon, so watch out for that. Hope you're having a lovely start of the week, my dears! x

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Eyebrow Essentials

Having naturally strong brows, I'd never felt a need to fill them until 2 years ago when I first started blogging. However, once I started playing with my brows, I became quite addicted and began to look for the best way to accentuate and even them out.

Here's the result of my search, from the fastest to the most elaborate method:

1. Eyebrow gel/ clear mascara (Covergirl Professional Natural Lash Mascara, $5.49) . I tend to reach for a clear gel when I'm most pressed for time or I'm looking for a very natural way of grooming the brows. I brush the gel lightly upwards at the bridge of my nose and then pull the hairs sideways at the arch. It straightens out any kinky bits and sets the brows for the day.
2. Eyebrow pencil (Wet'n'Wild Khol for Eyes and Brows in Taupe, $0.99). Oh, how much I love thee: it's the single most used eyebrow product in my collection, full stop. I just fill the brows in with small strokes and brush them slightly with a groomer (pictured below) at the end to soften the effect. If you haven't tried this Wet'n'Wild pencil, I urge you to check it out!
3. Eyebrow pencil and wax (Wet'n'Wild Arch Envy Color & Set in Medium Ash, $2.99). Great for a bit more brow oomph. The pencil end is a darker color than the Khol pencil, but a bit harder formula, so the result is not too strong. I really like the wax too, it really keeps even the stubborn hairs in place without any residue.
4. Powder eyeshadow (Annabelle So Foxy, $5). This method allows me to create a slightly different shape, and I can also vary the color intensity by adding a lighter brown shade or a matte dark grey; it is, however, the most time consuming. I use a slanted brush to fill in any gaps, brush through with a groomer and, if I feel like it, set with a gel or a wax.

My favorite eyebrow tools:
I pretty much use the EcoTools brow groomer every day, and Mr is known for stealing it occasionally as well. The hairs are soft but sturdy, while the comb side is perfect for brushing out mascara clumps. The slanted eyeliner/eyebrow brush was my first purchase from EcoTools, and I still love it: it's precise but firm, just enough to define the hairs. And, last but not least, the slanted tweezers from Tweezerman: costly but well worth it, and Mr-approved. Also, irreplaceable for pulling out splinters.

I hope it helped some of you looking for the best way to accentuate the eyebrows. Let me know what is your preferred technique and products in the comments below! x

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

FOTD: Valentine's Day

Well, it's not Valentine's Day yet and it's probably not something I'm going to be wearing on the day, given that the Valentine's weekend I'll be snowboarding in Tahoe with smudges of mascara under my eyes and in desperate need of a lipbalm, BUT... This is something I'd like to be wearing and it might give you some inspiration for your look.

BTW, I totally went grocery shopping in this look.

Products used:
MAC Studio Finish concealer in NW20
MAC Blotting Powder in Medium
Inglot Face Blush no. 72
Benefit F.Y.eye primer
Annabelle Vanilla Chilla eyeshadow (MAC equivalent would be Vanilla)
Annabelle So Foxy eyeshadow (MAC equivalent: Charcoal Brown)
Wet'n'Wild black gel eyeliner
NYX silver glitter eyeliner
Maybelline Full'n'Soft mascara
ES Clear Liner V Black false eyelashes*
Annabelle So Foxy + Inglot matte dark grey eyeshadows for brows
Sleek Makeup True Color lipstick in Cherry
NYX Mega Shine lipgloss in Garnet

I think my favorite part of this look is the lip combo, it just photographs beautifully. However, for a dinner out, I would probably opt for the lipstick alone to increase the longevity and prevent the product from getting on my teeth. I also find that these subtle false eyelashes add just the right amount of drama without overpowering the classic look, and my husband wasn't even able to tell I had falsies on.

I hope you enjoyed the make-up, I had a lot of fun putting it together and playing with some new lighting. Let me know in the comments what look you'll be wearing this Valentine's Day! x

Disclaimer: Product marked (*) sent for review consideration. Honest opinion as always.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

February Challenge: No Moisturizer

As an utter skincare addict, I'm simply unable to leave my skin on the same regimen for too long; there's always something left to be done, right? Well, this month I've decided to roadtest one of the most controversial claims in the skincare world; namely, that not everybody needs a moisturizer.

Shock horror, no moisturizer?! That cannot be! Basically, the proponents of this approach differentiate between moisturizing and hydrating, and if you want to know more about the subject, I refer you to the very informative video by Kathy, which you can watch here.

I think I qualify as a perfect example of someone who might not need moisturizing, as my skin is very oily but mostly hydrated ever since I stopped using harsh cleansers. For the month of February, I vow not to use any moisturizer on my face except for eye cream. I will cleanse with my Alaffia's Shea Butter & Rooibos Facial Cleanser, rinse with water, tone and apply acne treatments as needed. For daytime, I'm going to add a fine layer of sunscreen, some exfoliation/mask twice a week, and voila!

Of course, the challenge is not about strictly eliminating all moisturizing ingredients from my skincare routine, which would be rather impossible since most cleansers, toners, sunscreens or even acne treatments have some sort of moisturizing properties. It's more about establishing whether oily skin needs that extra boost by using a moisturizer per se, or whether its lipid barrier is strong enough to deal on its own. What I'm hoping to see is an improvement in the oiliness of the skin throughout the day without any dry patches and hopefully an increase in the clarity (less clogged pores).

I'm quite excited by this challenge and can't wait to see the results! I'll update you in the beginning of March on my experience. What do you think? Would you like to take the challenge with me?