May 30, 2013

& Other Stories beauty haul

I took those pictures a while ago and then forgot to post about them. Right when &Other Stories launched their website, I decided to order and try a few products. They do deliver internationally, and the delivery was really fast, 2 days for me if I remember correctly.

This is the lovely box my order came in:

Inside were those 2 envelopes, the large one containing all my products.

The small one contained my invoice, and a nice large sample of Body Lotion. Lovely treat.

And here are the goodies! 

Here are the swatches: on top, Eyebrow Pencil in Worcester Taupe (8€). 
Bottom: blusher in Cire Red (12€), metallic eyeshadow in Linen Beige Naquet , matte eyeshadow in Tiretaine blush (9€ each). The brush you see in the top picture is the Artist brush (9€) which is a fluffy blending brush.

The pencil brow is the same color as Mac Omega. It's not hard but not really waxy either, and it's good quality. But I found it quite short, well shorter than I expected. On the other hand it's much cheaper than the high-end brow pencils.

The blush is extremely pigmented and not chalky at all despite being matte. I am absolutely in love with the packaging and the engraved Shakespeare quote. I had a hard time choosing among all their colors as I wanted to get a shade I didn't already have (this is getting harder and harder) but if the others are the same quality, then they're definitely worth a look!

The champagne eyeshadow is really pretty, although very glittery as it's a metal finish. But it' a lovely all over shade in a very nice packaging.
The matte one I got for a friend because I thought that it might be a dupe for Nars Sex Appeal blush (which is discontinued), sadly it wasn't. I swatched it before sending it to her but I didn't try it as an eyeshadow so can't comment on that.

All in all the I think the quality isn't bad for the price and the delivery was fast and efficient. I would say it's even more worth if you can go in store, check, and get the products without having to pay for the delivery. From the reviews I read online the body products are really nice too, but I hope I gave you a nice little insight into the makeup.

May 25, 2013

Hair Dilemma Story: Dyes and Allergies.

me and... my hair, ca 2011

I am often asked what I do to keep my skin looking so young. The truth is: I mostly owe it to my good genes - both my parents aged without many wrinkles.
When it comes to hair, I have to give credit for my situation to my genes as well: both my parents went grey in their 30's. My dad had loads and loads of hair (if there is such thing as too much hair, he had it), while my mom had fine hair and few of it, with a tendency to hair loss due to various factor, one being hair dyes so she eventually had to stop coloring her hair.
As a result I used to have tons of fine hair, did suffer from hair loss as well for various reasons but still have a normal amount of it, but at the ripe age of 36 *gasp*  a good 30% of my hair has gone white already. My 32 years old brother is already 50% grey and balding so in comparison I guess I can't complain...

I started dying my hair in my early 20's just for the fun. Then in my late 20's I got tired of it and decided to grow out my natural hair, and that's when I discovered that I already had quite a few grays and so I kept dying it to hide them. I even learned how to do it myself at home with professional products so that it wouldn't take me more than one randome hour on a Sunday afternoon once every 6 to 8 weeks. Not big deal. And the opportunity to change up once in a while.

That was until last January.
I told you my mother would lose her hair because of hair dyes, and you would think that, just like makeup, hair dyes have changed a lot since the 80's and 90's. The truth is they mostly haven't. While the industry has found ways to remove ammonia and its smell (by using an ammonia derivate, anyway) or to add nourishing oil, the chemicals in hair dyes are still pretty much the same that were used decades and decades ago. And the specific ingredients that cause the most allergic issues (with 50% of the population being potentially allergic to them to various degrees) are still present in all semi-permanent and permanent dyes.

One ingredient, in particular, is known to cause a lot of allergies. It's called PPD and it is used in all semi-permanent or permanent dyes because it's the ingredient that opens the cuticle of the hair so that tue dye will penetrate it and hence cover all the hair including the grays.
The problem with PPD and its derivate is that it can cause all kinds of allergic reactions - it was voted  "Allergen of the Year" in 2006 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. It can cause rash, dermatitis, eczema, asthma, swelling and, in more extreme cases, death

I'm not even going to talk about the fact that chemicals in hair dyes might cause cancer or other diseases, I don't know enough to have an opinion on that. But allergies can affect everyone, even if you have never had a reaction before and have been coloring your hair for years.
In January I had my hair done at the salon with the L'Oreal Inoa, and after that I my scalp felt itchy and burning for... 3 weeks. I didn't know it back then but Inoa contains much more PPD than the color I was using previously (L'Oreal Richesse) but Inoa is promoted as better because it doesn't have ammonia - while in fact ammonia doesn't cause the reactions that PPD does. 

Knowing what I know about hair dye allergies, and having had this reaction, can I really keep on coloring my hair and playing russian roulette? It looks like despite the risks, the industry isn't interested in finding an alternate solution to cover grey hair, even though some chemical companies have developed new ingredients. The industry isn't interested in removing PPD from our dyes.
Also, I have the impression that after 4 months without dye, I am not losing as much hair as I usually do. Since some people claim that dyes can cause hair thinning, and given the fact my mother definitely had this issue every time she would dye her hair, I'm tempted to believe that there is a link there.

4 months of re-growth, greys starting to show
So no dye. OK. But what about the grey hair? It's starting to really show, and I'm starting to feel bad about it. My top line only has a few but my temples and fringe are really, really white.
See, I'm not paranoid about aging, I think aging is a privilege that not everybody gets and even if it's natural to try and delay the signs of aging, I am fine with the fact that you cannot hide it all.
But on the other hand, I find the grey hair really aging, and I am not comfortable with the idea of looking much older than I am. This is especially true because as most women cover their grays until they're fully white (which is a gorgeous look in my opinion) we now really associate grey hair with age. I envy the women who find it empowering to embrace the grey at a young age, but I don't, and I feel bad about my hair.

So I am currently exploring the possibilities. I know there is henna but I do want to keep that as my last option because: it doesn't cover all the grays, it's only ok for reddish shades, you have to keep it on your head for HOURS, and henna treated hair cannot have anything else done to it - not even a few bleached highlights or ombré (no PPD in bleach so that is still ok to do, even though it damages the hair for other reasons).
Some brands like Goldwell have developed alternative products, but they're not available where I live, they're complicated to apply if you haven't had a proper training, they can require a pre-bleach... not very DIY friendly.
I went to organic stores and most of the products that claim to be organic or natural still have PPD or its derivate in them because otherwise, they won't last long or cover grey hair properly. Still a no-no.
And so, so far, I haven't found a solution. I need some help here.

So I would love it if we could talk about this together in the comments. Are you dying your hair? Have you experienced any issue? Were you aware of the risks? If you've gone for a chemical free solution, what is it and how is it working for you?

May 21, 2013

Nuxe Creme Fraiche de Beauté Serum

The lovely Gemsmaquillage mentioned in this video, saying that she had purchased the Nuxe Creme Fraiche mask following a recommendation I made to her a long time ago.

I actually need to credit Laura from BuynowBloglater and this post for my interest in the the Creme Fraiche range. I have loved Nuxe for a long time but I really can't say I've tried everything from their very large range. 

I am, however, a huge fan of the Creme Fraiche Serum that I've been using for a couple of months now, and  I realize I didn't tell you about it! So let's make up for that right away.

What the brand says:
This product is an ultra-concentrated serum, a real source of beauty, that helps to moisturize and soothe the skin continuously over 24 hours. This product has a texture that melts instantly upon application, leaving the skin fresh and replumped. 
  • Helps to reinforce skin's moisture levels.
  • Soothes skin and reduces discomfort and irritations.
  • 94.1% of the total ingredients come from natural origin.
  • Formula is paraben free and non-comedogenic.
  • Can be used by all skin types including sensitive.

My experience with the product:

I use this serum in the morning (at night I use the Estee Lauder Advanced Nice Repair) under a bit of light moisturizer and then makeup. You can, however, use this twice a day including around the eyes.
It feels absolutely lovely on the skin with its lightweight, almost lotion-like texture, and it does smell of flowers but the smell doesn't linger for too long (which you know I hate because it's migraine inducing for me). 
It does absorb quite fast and leaves the skin with a pretty glow, the kind that comes from hydration and not grease. 
It is an excellent base under my makeup and doesn't make my base slide off or my face look shiny. It also does its hydrating job very well.
All in all, I find this to do a better job than the Avene Soothing Hydrating serum, which is heavier in texture but not at all more efficient.

Now that I am hooked on the serum I will definitely the other Creme Fraiche products a try.

Ingredient list for the science nerds:

Aqua/Water, Glycerin, Macadamia Integrifolia Seed Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Hull Powder, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Xylitylglucoside, Anhydroxylitol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Propylheptyl Caprylate, Benzyl Alcohol, Capryloyl Glycine, Tocopherol, Sodium Hydroxide, Citric Acid, Xylitol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Parfum/Fragrance, Phenyl Trimethicone, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Allantoin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tetrasodium Edta, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Isostearate, Dehydroacetic Acid, Safflower Oil/Palm Oil Aminopropanediol Esters, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Sclerotium Gum, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Extract, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Flower Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Lupinus Albus Seed Extract, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Pisum Sativum (Pea) Extract, Disodium Edta, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Fruit Extract, Robinia Pseudacacia Flower Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract, Linalool [N2502/A].

Nuxe Creme Fraiche de Beauté Serum - 30ml - US$44 - €29 (buy in France if you can!)

May 18, 2013

FOTD with Illamasqua favorites

Sometimes it feels right to gather a few old (ish) favorites and fall back on a look you know you will love.

This look features:
- Illamasqua Empower palette - cream shadow as a base with the pressed pigment on top, the beige in the crease and the pink in the inner corners. A look I never get tired of.
- Illamasqua Naked Rose blush, which is probably the one blusher I'd save from a fire if I could only pick one: it just goes with everything and I never fet tired of it.

The base is also an old favorite: Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua, with a touch of Estee Lauder Double Wear concealer and a bit of Becca Loose Powder in Sesame on the T zone.

This works as well for Spring as it did for Fall!

What are your all favorites you like to go back to?

May 17, 2013

Guerlain Gel Top Coat and nails of the day

Picture worth a thousand words: have you seen that shine?
Everyone I know who compared this top coat with the Dior Gel Top Coat agreed that the Guerlain is better, so I went straight away for it.

Nailpolish: L'Oreal Color Riche in 211 Opulent Pink (I put on 2 coats).

Guerlain Gel Top Coat, 10ml, €24 - but worth every penny.

May 12, 2013

FOTD - Bronze Summer look with Becca

With Spring finally settling in, we have even had a few really warm days with about 20°C, and I was really tired of rain and grey sky so I decided to pretend it was Summer already with a very bronzed up look.

For the skin, I used Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua, but then I added some Illamasqua Skin Base in Au (a bronze color infused with gold) to bronze the face, jawline and neck.

For the eyes and cheeks, I dig up my Becca Halcyon Days palette that I hadn't used in a really long time. The Bougainville lip & cheek creme is really nice on a warmer skin, with its orange peachy tones.

On the eyes I used Shiseido shimmering cream eyeshadow in Leather as a base, because the Becca eyeshadows aren't that pigmented. Then I used the 3 eyeshadows, keeping the shimmery one (Golden Peach) to highlight the center of the lid, on top of the darker shadows. Then I lined the eyes with Nars Larger than Life liner in Via Appia, a gorgeous bronze that will not budge.

The lipgloss is an old mac lipglass in Gold Mode, which was a limited edition. It gives my lips a slightly peachy goldy tone that went well with the rest of the look.

Have you switched to more summery looks yet? What are you liking right now?

May 4, 2013

Will ZZ creams work better for me?

BB creams. They've been in the market for years and years, long before our Western brands started launching their own versions. They were once an Asian hype that beauty lovers all around the world would get on eBay or from Hong Kong based stockists.

I tried a lot of them, but I never was really convinced. I must say, though, that the Asian ones often have very pale colors, sometimes greyish, and aren't suitable for all the Western skintones.
When the Western BB creams got launched, I did understand from the reviews I read that they were more of a new kind of tinted moisturizer than an equivalent for the Asian products. So I gave some of them a try.

Unfortunately, they did not work for me either. In all honesty, I find them thick, hard to blend (that is probably because of the SPF in them but then regular sun lotions are so much lighter, why can't that be achieved in BB creams?) and where the Asian ones were too light, most Western BB creams are too dark and/or orange even though they usually come in several shades.

Last one I tried (after I got a sample - I wouldn't have purchased it without trying) was the Dior Nude one. To say things simply: this just enhanced everything I don't like in my skin. Dry patches looked dryer, texture looked less smooth, and slightly oilier areas looked like a greasy mess. It could not have been more wrong. That's probably when I decided that I would give up on BB creams for ever.

Then came CC creams. CC as in Color Correcting. They're supposed to be a different thing, and I heard fellow BB detractors swear that CC were a completely different business.

The first one I tried was the L'Oreal Nude Magique CC cream, the one meant to correct redness. I got it in full size in a beauty box so it was a perfect occasion to try it. I actually did not hate this one. The texture is very light and easy to blend, it's much more like a serum and not at all thick or hard to blend. 
But I don't have any redness issue, really, so it wasn't really meant for my skin. Also, it was unfortunately a bit too dark again once blended. And given this doesn't have enough coverage to be used without makeup on top, I don't really see how I could blend my pale foundation on top of a darker CC cream. Hence I gifted it to a friend who has redness issues and a darker skintone than me, I hope she likes it. 

After this better experience, I thought maybe another CC cream with a more suited shade might be a good solution for me and I was given a sample of the Clinique Moisture Surge one in the lightest shade.

Now yes, this is a bit easier to spread and blend than a BB cream. But it's still rather thick. It did not make my skin much more even, nor prettier. Actually I thought I looked less good with it on than I looked with no makeup - which is really counter-productive. It also feels to heavy on the skin, in my opinion, to wear another layer of foundation on top so I'd rather skip it. And finally, after a few hours, it made my pores look more visible, my skin texture less even, and my t-zone completely oily.

I hear that the first DD cream will be launching this Summer, released by Julep. DD will stand for "dynamic do-all". I will probably not be trying it. If these things are the next generation of tinted moisturizer, I'm going to be stubborn and stick with the old stuff. I found it hard enough to find TM's that I like already.

If things keep improving at this rate, maybe ZZ creams will be better for me?

May 2, 2013

April Favorites

Finally, it looks like Spring is here! We have even had a few very warm days, and it is nice to be able to finally use some lighter skincare and more Springtime appropriate makeup!

Oral B 3D White toothpaste
I know, this is random, but I have to tell you that in terms of whitening toothpaste, this is the most efficient I have purchased in years.
Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream
Absolutely loving this for night time, this cream is so moisturizing without being oily or clogging pores, it leaves the skin plump, fresh and smooth.
It will probably be a bit too rich in a month when it gets really warm, but for now it is just perfect.

Laura Mercier Radiance Primer
I haven't purchased this but I was given a huge sample on which I'm still living, given I don't wear primer on a daily basis. This is a really weird product, it feels a bit like a sticky moisturizer with a weird tint, and I wouldn't even say it's that radiant... BUT, it makes my makeup wear like iron. So if I have a long day, a special occasion, and I need my makeup to not budge but know I won't be able to touch up (or won't be bothered) this is just perfect and I will most definitely buy a full size product.

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua.
Now that I don't suffer form Winter dehydration anymore, and alcohol in foundations doesn't aggravate my skin anymore, I am finally reunited with my favorite foundation. It just looks so fresh, smooth and natural and I haven't found anything that beats it so far.

Laura Mercier Secret Finish
I reviewed this product here and all the good things I had to say are still very much true, I am completely in love with this weird finishing cream which makes worn makeup look fresh and glowy again. A must have in your bag, in my opinion.

Chanel Les Beiges
Lovely finishing powder in a very luxurious packaging, this is perfect for touch ups on the go and I love keeping this in my bag as it is also so pretty to look at! I reviewed it here.
Givenchy Le Rouge in Fuchsia Irresistible.
I completely blame Pixiwoo for this purchase. It wasn't about the brand (that I love anyway), nor even the leather pacakging, but this color is just so fantastic and I can't resist a fuchsia! 
The formula is rather matte and it can be a bit drying if you don't prep your lips properly, although it's not as drying as some Mac or Illamasqua mattes. If you wear lipbalm underneath, let it sink then apply the lipstick, it will stay on for hours and fade to a beautiful stain. It is very pricy, above 30€, and I'm sad it doesn't have the same nice smell that the Givenchy Rouge Interdit have - but it's definitely a nice purchase.

May 1, 2013

May, and why beauty products matter

Happy 1st of May! Where I live, we offer Lily of the Valley to our loved ones on May 1st  to bring them luck.
It also finally looks like Spring is here and I can stop wearing a Winter coat, which is very nice.

I will post my April favorites tomorrow, but for today, I wanted to share something else with you.
A fellow beauty blogger, whom is member of a makeup forum I go to, and who currently lives in Cambodia, wrote a beautiful piece on why it is ok to write about beauty when you live surrounded by poverty.
I completely agree with what she wrote, and so I though I'd share, her blog is called Srey Siem Reap and the article is here.
Please have a read and let me know what you thought about her point of view, which I share.