March 27, 2012

Unwrapping a world of fragrances - Introduction to Jo Malone

Last week I randomly found myself near a very exclusive perfume store that I already had visited last year, and decided on an impulse to go hunt for a new fragrance, with one idea in mind: find out what is so special about Jo Malone fragrances, as that store has the only counter of the country.

I had a fantastic customer experience, as the ladies holding the counter were extremely knowledgeable and also very friendly. They told me about the high quality ingredients used in Jo Malone colognes, and explained how you can mix and layer them to obtain a fragrance that is unique to you (not that you can't wear them on their own, of course). 

I told them about the notes I usually enjoy or don't like and they made a small selections of colognes that I would probably like. We smelled them (with pauses in-between thanks to coffee beans), discussed them, mixed them and then I made my choice. I was actually quite surprised that, after 20 mins of breathing all these fragrances, I was not feeling the slightest sign of headache (which is my big issue with lots of perfumes). I took that as a good sign and decided to get a little treat for myself.

You can actually get the colognes in 2 sizes: 30ml, which are nice travel spray bottles, and 100ml. I decided to get 2 different notes in the small size so I could enjoy some variety, and so I left the boutique with this lovely package.

Let's unwrap it together, shall we? The box was actually wrapped itself in black paper that had been sprayed with the fragrances I chose.

I picked 2 very different notes so I could enjoy some variety : 

  • Blue Agava & Cacao, which, on me, quickly turns into a warm slightly spicy smell. I don't get the fresh lime or grapefruit leads very much (which is good, they're not my taste), it's cosy, it's a bit row, it's a bit sexy - that was love at first sniff.
  • Vanilla & Anise - this one sounds like it would be closer to my comfort zone, but this one is actually very fresh and with a slightly green note, which is not what I usually go for but I thought it would be a refreshing way to wear my beloved Vanilla during the Summer. And obviously, I can add a touch of the Blue Agava & Cacao if I want to deepen it some more.

I am absolutely thrilled with the whole experience and with the colognes I brought back home. I will definitely be going back to the Jo Malone counter for more in the future especially as I was gifted a voucher for a hand and arm massage, which I am really looking forward to enjoying!

Are you familiar with Jo Malone? What are your favorite colognes?

March 26, 2012

Flash Test : Garner Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream

A loooong time ago I saw a Facebook ad inviting people in my area to sign up for a free sample of the new Garnier BB cream and a 2€ coupon for your first purchase.
I thought it would be a great opportunity to try a product before buying, for once, and signed up.

Now I very well know how complicated the organization of such direct mailings can be, and that you need to have a certain amount of letters to send to decrease the cost, but seriously, I wasn't expecting to wait for TWO WHOLE MONTHS to get this.

I was also not expecting to get only one little bag for a single product use. The wait had been so long that the envelope and its tiny content felt a bit disappointing.

But anyway. I decided to try this on Saturday for a quick and easy look.

Wearing Garnier BB cream 
The texture is thicker than the one of a tinted moisturizer, and it did feel similar to the BB creams I tried in the past, but at the same time it was very easy to apply, and felt very fresh on the skin.

The coverage, while being superior to what tinted moisturizer would give, wasn't heavy. I would describe it as giving a "soft-focus/blurred" effect without covering everything. So I did add concealer on some areas.

The color is too dark for me (NC15) even though I got the light version. You need to be at least NC/NW20-25 for this to be a good match, in my opinion. Too bad, because for once, this BB cream wasn't looking greyish like most Asian ones do. Don't buy into the "will adapt to your skin color" talk, that never works.

The smell is what killed it for me. It's very nice and fruity but quite strong. When first applying, I did enjoy it. But then it just lingered around and stayed with me, and what was meant to happen, happened: I started to get a headache and after one hour of wearing this, had to remove my whole face of makeup to get rid of that smell. (And, no kidding, the cloth I used was still smelly hours later, too).

All in all, I can't tell you how this would last through a day. It looked nice when I applied but because of that heavy fragrance, and of the color which is too dark (but that could have been solved with fake tan), this product is just a no-no for me.
Bottom line: stay away if you're fair and/or sensitive to fragrances.

March 23, 2012

Melvita Aloe Vera Soft - Moisturizing Balm

This is an article that could be part of a series called "from the bottom of the drawer" because actually, I bought this product 6 months ago. Then it was not the miracle moisturizer I was waiting for, and I put it aside, until earlier this week.

What this is, as described by the brand.
Aloe Vera Soft contains 60% Aloe Vera to intensely hydrate and cool the skin. Blended with Shea Butter and Jojoba, to act as emollients, sealing in moisture, this balm is suitable for all skin types and ideal for those with sensitive or dehydrated skin. This unique light balm is blended with anti-oxidant Prickly Pear to invigorate skin and leave a fresh, clean feeling.
Aloe Vera Soft is particularly recommended for delicate, dry, dehydrated skin. Its creamy texture and fresh fragrance also make it a very comfortable after-shave balm.

I should say here that Melvita is a certified organic brand, not that I'm all crazy about organic products, but when you get an Aloe Vera based product, it's better if the plant they used is of high quality.
The deal on this particular product is:
  • 99.40% of the total ingredients from natural origin
  • 67.00% of the total ingredients from Organic Farming
My experience with the product.

This comes in a big generous 100ml tube, so you get plenty. The texture is halfway between a lotion and a cream and feels very lightweight. There's a very fresh scent that reminds me of cologne.
Once you apply, it sets pretty quickly.

This didn't do much for my Winter skin but now that Spring is here and that my cheeks still haven't returned to their normal self, showing signs of dehydration, I wanted something to put on them under makeup, and this is an excellent product for that purpose. It makes a great smooth base, you don't have to wait long for it to sink in, and it doesn't budge all day.

However, I'm concerned with the fact that this claims to be for dehydrated and dry skin, yet it contains ether and alcohol, and these are quite high in the ingredients list. I do find you smell it, too, when using the product. I'm no specialist, but I'm thinking that might be why this didn't do anything for me in Winter time.

Bottom Line.

A nice lightweight moisturizer and makeup base if you aren't scared of the ingredients and are interested in a 99% natural ingredients product.
It's also reasonably priced at about 18€ for 100ml, and you can buy it online from all over the world.
Not a miracle product, though.

Ingredient list for the science nerds:
Aloe Barbadensis Extract [Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract]*, Dicaprylyl Ether, Octyldodecanol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Alcohol*, Sorbitol, Aqua [Water], Glycerin, Simmondsia Chinensis Oil [Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil]*, Hydrogenated Lecithin, C12-16 Alcohols, Parfum [Fragrance], Butyrospermum Parkii Butter [Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Oil]*, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil [Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil]*, Xanthan Gum, Palmitic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Glyceryl Dibehenate, PCA Ethyl Cocoyl Arginate, Tribehenin, Limonene**, Tocopherol, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Glyceryl Behenate, Linalool**, Citronellol**, Citral**, Citric Acid, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Fruit Extract*, Geraniol**.
*Ingredients from Organic Farming.
**Natural components of fragrance. 

March 20, 2012

Soft Tonal FOTD

What can I say? You cannot look like Lana Del Ray every day!
Monday saw me wearing a much more toned down look with earthly shades.

It was, as often, inspired by a video tutorial from Lisa Eldridge.

No, I don't look like Clemence Poesy at all, but I can recognize a good look when I see one, and I absolutely love those warm soft shades.

The base for this look is 2 layers of Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua on top of Becca Hydrating Primer.
I wanted to hide the redness on my cheeks without using a full coverage foundation, so I just layered some more foundation where I needed coverage. A bit of concealing was done using Estee Lauder Double Wear concealer in #1.

This was also another attempt, probably the last, at making the Clarins coral liquid blush work for me. I think I'm giving up. Yes, you do see something on the cheeks, but it took me THREE layers of it, applied with patting motions, for it to show up. I tend to say taht when a product requires so much work to do its job, you do need another product. 

The eyes were created using Burberry eyeshadow in #4, which is a gorgeous warm sandy beige, and Becca Chino which is the dark brown on the Lost Week-End palette. I tightlined with Mac Teddy eyekhol. Mascara is YSL Faux Cils in black.

I would have added a peach lipstick, my choice being within the new Dior Addict Intense range (teasing for a future look!) but I had a dentist's appointment, so it was only lipbalm for me.

March 18, 2012

Rainy Sunday Video Link Love

I thought I'd share with you my recent YouTube findings, which might not be very famous (yet) but are certainly worth watching!

Let's start with two makeup artists I'm currently obsessed with:

Glitterdollz7 - she does fantastic tutorials and she also blogs at Beautysauce.

SharonMakeupArtist - finally a very pale skinned makeup artist to get inspiration from!

Then, meet Essiebutton, queen of über long videos but oh so funny, and so pretty, too!

On another note, Lisa Eldridge shares her favorites skincare products from French pharmacies. I couldn't agree more with everything she said, so I thought I'd share!

The beautiful Ruth Crilly aka Amodelrecommends did a similar video a few months ago, but featured different products, so it's interesting too.

Happy Sunday watching!

March 17, 2012

FOTD - Born To Die/Lana Del Ray inspired

I recently developped a little obsession for this song and for Lana Del Ray's iconography in general. Her sullen/bored 50's baby doll look is absolutely my cup of tea, so I've been wanting to recreate the cherry lip and liner look from Born To Die since I first saw it.
I was, however, missing a key element: the right lipstick color. A quick consultation on a makeup forum taught me that the best dupe for this color would be Revlon Cherries In The Snow, which I didn't own - that was solved by a little eBay shopping.

And so here I am, recreating this very dramatic look on a Saturday morning!
I tried to take pics with similar expressions but apparently, I can't do moody and pretty at the same time.

The über dramatic liner and the false lashes are obviously key to this look, as well as the lipstick.

Product Breakdown:

Chanel Perfection Lumiere B20, applied with Real Techniques angled foundation brush
Estee Lauder Double Wear concealer in Light
Rouge Bunny Rouge Starina blush
Mac Vanilla - UD Buck on the eyes
Blacktrack Fluidline liner
Lashes - Makeup For Ever, and a little coat of Bare Escentuals Magic Wand (perfect to combine your real lashes with the falsies)
Lips: Revlon Cherries in the Snow

I think I'm going to do this look again for my next night out with the girlfriends!

March 15, 2012

Illamasqua Human Fundamentalism

Two fantastic things are happening these days: the beginning of Spring, and the launch of the new Illamasqua collection, called Human Fundamentalism.

Whereas previous collections always had a very dark side to them, this one is bright and colorful, everything I am longing for after months of gloomy weather. Vivid colors everywhere, right up to the tip of the nails.
The mix of cream and powder products on the face and eyes also contributes to create luminosity and contrast.

The collection celebrates individuality, freedom of self-expression, creative artistry, and not conforming to society's expectations of make-up and beauty. It also focuses on being able to see beauty in things that are not perfect.  In this video you'll see Illamasqua brand creators giving their insight on this collection.

But if you haven't seen it yet, the fantastic Brand Film already explained Human Fundamentalism and why it is so important for the brand. I never get tired of watching it.

The collection is available starting today on the Illamasqua website.
I'm quite tempted by the nail products myself (I actually already own a lot of the face products) - what will you be getting?

March 14, 2012

Foundation Review #34: Maybelline Fit Me

Fit Me was recently launched here, and I had seen a couple of TV ads for this new foundation, then I stumbled upon a huge Fit Me display at the supermarket while I was grocery shopping, and impulse bought it - as you do.
The shade I picked is 120, even though I had a feeling 115 would have been more accurate, but it wasn't in stock.

What I had liked in the ads is the fact that they described this as a gel based foundation that would look like real skin. It didn't specify anything in terms of skintype, just that this was supposed to look natural on anybody and that the range offered a wide range of shades. Now, I find it very sad that a foundation's main claim would be that there's a match for anyone - shouldn't that be the price of entry? But well, I wanted to give it a go.

My experience with the product.
A drugstore foundation coming in a glass bottle with a pump is something I didn't expect but can very much appreciate. (NB: I think there's no pump in the US).
The product itself is very liquidy and runny, that surprised me a bit because of the gel-base claim, I was expecting something thicker.
This is very easy to apply with your hands and leaves a soft, velvelty texture to the skin, not tacky at all, not drying and really pleasant. It has a slight smell that doesn't linger on so that didn't bother me at all.

Now the one thing I have to say is that, for me, the product didn't actually do much on its own, mainly because the coverage is so so sheer.
I took a few pictures to demonstrate.

Pic 1: this is me with nothing on. I actually didn't know yet that I'd be sick as hell the next day, but seeing the picture, it does show!  I have clear skin but the worse dark circles ever, and that odd little guy on the edge of my lip that turned out to be a painful cystic zit.

Now on these two pics above, I am wearing the foundation on its own. It did even out my skin tone a little bit, but in my opinion, that's only because it's a tad bit dark for me. I don't think the right match would have done anything at all.
As I said, the finish is very nice and looking natural, with a slight sheen that doesn't look greasy, but you can still see my dark circles and also the discolorations around my nose and mouth, which are normally covered by any foundation - I was expecting that at least to be covered.

On the last pic, I have added concealer (and well, those pre-sickness dark circles would have required corrector as well!) and powder. I'm starting to look better.

My conclusion.
I think this is a good product if you want to step up from tinted moisturizer or from using nothing at all. And actually I have tinted moisturizers that give more coverage than Fit Me.
The finish is nice and natural, not cakey at all, and it lasted ok on me but I wouldn't swear it would be fine on oilier skins, as I've read on lots of reviews that this tends to transfer a lot.

For me, if I have to add concealer to a lot of areas and powder to get coverage, it's too much work. I prefer a product that will give me more coverage and save me some steps.

I need to say, though, that even if this doesn't suit my personal needs, it's a surprisingly good drugstore foundation after the recent Bourjois fiascos I went through, and if you're looking for a very light and undetectable foundation on a budget, I would recommend this.
This sells for about €11.50

March 12, 2012

Current Skincare Routine

My skincare routine has recently changed, since we're now close to Spring, so I thought I'd update you on it. Look at that happy family!

I know, it kind of looks like I am heavily sponsored by one brand, but I'm not: I paid for everything with my well-earned money!
Let me talk you through my routine in detail.

As you probably know, I never use moisturizer in the morning, only serum then foundation.
Esthederm Eau Cellulaire is the nice pshiiit I like to spritz to wake me up.
REN Radiance Perfecting Serum dries very quickly, leaving a nice glow on the skin,
and forming a perfect base for makeup.
REN Active 7 Eye gel is fresh and feels so nice, it helps fighting puffiness and is also
perfect under makeup, as it sinks it very fast.

REN Bio Retinoid Anti-Ageing Concentrate is an oily serum. It contains natural retinoid that is supposed to be better tolerated by the skin than chemical retinoid (although I don't have issues with that).
If you want, you can add another serum on top of it, but I currently don't.
REN Lipovector Smoothing Eye Contour Cream is a richer formula than the gel I use in the morning.
It's not too greasy, sinks in, fast, and works as an anti-ageing, anti-wrinkle product.
Estee Lauder Daywear Cream is a daycream, I know, but I have yet to find something that my skin likes better for night time, so I stick with it for now.

Once or twice a week, I replace my night face products by Avène Clenance K, which contains
AHA-BHA and chemically exfoliates the skin.
Once a week in the morning (often on Sundays), I use the REN F10 Smooth and Renew Mask that leaves my skin glowing and feeling plump. Full review here.

Day & Night: the hardcore cleansing duo!
I forgot about these in the group pic, yet they are at the core of a good skincare routine!
Bioderma Crealine H20 is what I use in the morning for the face and at night to remove eye makeup.
Shu Uemura Skin Purifier cleansing oil for dry skin is my night cleanser as it removes my makeup.
I don't use anything else before or after as this just removes everything.

In case of emergency!
Avène Diacneal (glycolic acid) on blemishes and La Roche Posay Effaclar AI on clogged pores.
La Roche Posay Cicaplast to soothe chapped skin, and as a makeup primer on dry patches.

Let me know if you have any questions!

March 8, 2012

Rock Red on March Eighth!

I always say that having an International Women's day is nothing to celebrate: it's a shame that we still need to have one day to talk about women's issues, be it various forms violence or the fact they still don't have equal professional opportunities and salaries with men, or anything else that makes a woman's life more difficult.
However, things being what they are, this day is still a necessity as it raises awareness on those issues.

So I found it interesting when this Facebook Group called Rock The Lips launched this initiative to raise awareness about Women's Day and why it exists.
The principle is easy: wear red lips on March 8th, and use their icon on your Facebook profile. And so I thought I'd join!

Wearing Illamasqua Maneater here. No pun intended in this choice - it's just one of my favorite reds ever.

PS : sorry for being MIA lately, I caught some Wintery virus at the end of last week and was feeling sick and poor, not well enough to put makeup on or even take pics of products. Normal activity will resume from now on.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

March 3, 2012

Foundation Review #33 : Clarins Ever Matte (and powder, as a bonus)

So this Spring Clarins is launching their new Ever Matte foundation, an oil-free formula with SPF 15 that promises a long lasting matte finish and, well, quite a lot of other things, too :
An anti-shine, skin-balancing formula, ideal for women looking for a matte appearance in all circumstances. The plant-based "Skin Detox" complex helps regulate oil production and tighten pores. Its lightweight texture blends easily and allows skin to breathe without drying. The complexion appears more beautiful thanks to an invisible, long-lasting matte "veil" that evens skin tone and keeps skin shinefree from morning to evening.Unrivalled radiance: Clarins exclusive "Light-Optimizing+" complex captures, diffuses and magnifies light. Fine lines and small imperfections are visibly minimized. The complexion appears more even and radiant.SPF 15. Matte finish - Medium coverage - For all skin types. Anti-pollution protection. Oil-free. Noncomedogenic.Dermatologist tested.

Along with this, Clarins is launching the Ever Matte Mineral Powder Compact, wich is a finishing powder available in 4 shades.
Keep shine at bay with the Clarins Ever Matte Mineral Powder Compact, a silky smooth powder that helps skin to stay fresh and flawless all day long.
Clarins Ever Matte Compact uses an innovative complex of minerals and plant extracts provide all day protection from shine and oiliness, including the exclusive 'Skin Detox' with Tanaka Powder.
Due to its fine consistency and transparent colour, the Clarins Ever Matte Mineral Powder can be reapplied frequently without the risk of unsightly build up. Use in harmony with the Clarins Ever Matte Foundation for a truly mattified and controlled look with unrivalled.

My experience with the powder.
Let's get this out of the way, since it's quite easier to review: this is an excellent mattifying powder. I got it to put in my bag for touch ups, and it does its job perfectly. The compact is sturdy enough not to break, slim enough not to take up too much room or be to heavy, there's a mirror in it, so it's perfect on the go. The powder is very fine, doesn't look cakey, is really mattifying and long-lasting. I got this in the shade 01 and it works very well for me (that would be the shade equivalent of Mac MSFN LIght-Medium, I would say).
Bonus: no smell. I don't like how some powders have that 'old-lady" scent.

My experience with the foundation.

Here's a not-exactly-flattering picture of me wearing nothing but Ever Matte - no concealer, no powder, nothing underneath, nada.

I had to get this in the color 108, as 107 was very orange on me, but I would say that this is a bit darker then I'd like. In Ever Lasting, I wore 108 as a Summer color while 103 was my normal shade, but of course, 103 isn't available in my country for Ever Matte. That means that unless you're NC20, there won't be a true match for you. *sad face*.
The packaging is a lightweight plastic bottle/tube with a dispenser neck, it's quite foolproof and hard to break, which is always a good thing in my book.

As you can see, the coverage is medium-full as it did cancel out most of the redness in my skin with just one layer. The texture, though, is still quite fluid and rather easy to blend. The product smells exactly like Ever Lasting, to the point that I wondered if that wasn't just a repackaged, slightly twisted, version of the same thing. But the final result is different, so I don't think it is.
The finish is definitely matte and I would not use powder on top of this as this would be, in my opinion, looking and feeling horribly dry.

I thought my natural oils on the T-zone would start showing after a few hours, but they didn't. Not even after a not-too-intense 45 min workout.

I posted this look last week, but just in case you haven't seen it, here's me wearing this and a full face of makeup.
The slight glow on the cheeks come from a liquid highlighting product.
My conclusion.

Does Ever Matte do what it says? Definitely. Excepted for the "unrivalled radiance" because quite frankly, I see no radiance there.

Do I recommend it? Yes, if you need good coverage and are really oily and/or looking for a very matte finish. I don't think this is, as Clarins said, suitable for any skintype as I don't see how someone with dry skin would enjoy this. But that's true of any matte foundation, I guess.

Do I like it? Well, no. I just think this finish is not flattering on me. Correction, I don't think it's flattering on most people, I saw other bloggers posting pics of them wearing this the last few days, and I didn't like it more on them than I did on me. I know matte skin is trendy again, but I can't help finding that this is aging because of the lack of luminosity. Now, to each their own thing, if matte is yours, then this is a product to get.
Why did I ever get this, then? Because I had issues with my T-Zone being oilier than usual, and I did freak out a bit. I just thought this wouldn't be THAT matte. And you know me and new foundations)

The powder, though, is the thing I'd recommend to anyone. You can matte down your T-zone when wearing a dewy base or touch up after a long day and this will do a very good job.

Clarins Ever Matte Foundation - 30ml: €32
Clarins Ever Matte Mineral Powder: €35 (no idea why the powder is more expensive)

March 1, 2012

February Favorites

I am so happy that March is here! It means more daylight, higher temperatures, I can hear the birds singing in the morning which means that Spring is coming! *\o/*

Anyway here are a few products that I used a lot in February - it's weird to make this list because the first 2 weeks of February saw polar temperatures here, and then the rest of the month was much warmer, especially in comparison. Which means I had to change up my products a bit with the weather. But here goes.

REN F10 smooth and renew mask.
I have been doing this mask once a week and my skin loves it. It makes it feel plump and smooth and radiant and it's very respectful of my currently sensitive skin. I'm actually waiting for more REN products to enter my life and can't wait to try them!
La Roche Posay Cicaplst Balm B5
I gave you all the details about this one already, but I had to mention it since it did so much for my poor hands this month!

Blue eyeshadow, including Nars Outremer.
I don't know where that comes from, but my love of blue has came back with a vengeance lately, and I'm doing all kind of blue smokeys and mixes of bright blues and browns. I guess blues make a nice transition from Winter to Spring by bringing back color into the game.

Edward Bess Quad Royale.
Review here - I have been using those a lot and really liking them. They just work, what can I say.

Chanel Rouge Allure Flamboyante.
This lipstick was a limited edition from Spring 2011 and I absolutely adore it right now. It is just the perfect bright pink with blue based berry tones, vivid enough to replace a red with a winged liner, but can also combine perfectly with heavier eyes.

What were your February favorites?