Friday, January 31, 2014

The Runny Nose Recovery Staples

I'm never really 'sick,' and haven't been for the past couple of years. Unfortunately, this means I can't quite convince myself to stay at home for the day, passed out under my duvet. But it's inevitable; no matter how many Green Ryders (Whole Foods' juice bar obsessives, are you with me?) I glug or how often I attempt to get a full eight hours of sleep, we all end up a little under the weather around this time of year--especially when a contaminant enters my ballet class in the depths of her cough. You better guess I glared....

Ultimately, it seems like there's a theme to work on a more cosmetic level when it comes to knocking sickness--slap on some extra under-eye concealer, smooth on some highlighter, etc. But my 'who cares' prerogative suggests I could care less about how others view me when I'm feeling groggy; I just want to feel as perky as a freshly washed kitten.

Anything with the title of 'peppermint' does exactly that. A few drops of peppermint essential oil (I have the Aura Cacia Peppermint Oil) rubbed under my nose lifts my nasal passages so I will actually be able to breath. Also, a few drops in the tub feels as good as ice on a popsicle-dripping day.
The Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap in Peppermint also mends my grudge, and the formula transformation  suggests that this bottle is more made for a body wash or shampoo evoking the same heart-lifting sensation.

Working from the inside out is always wise when your insides are dripping out, and staying hydrated is the way to go. Your mom was actually precise when she shoved chicken soup your way--luckily, mine still does--but tea has the same effect. Of course, now is the time to dig out my favorite: the Tazo Zen Tea, but, beyond the peppermint and green tea flavor, the catechins give my system an extra boost and the steam opens up the stuff in my nose (better than a pack of tissues).
But, around this time, I'm also an advocate for juice; okay, okay--I love the stuff all the time. But, pack a shedload of nutrients into a sixteen-ounce bottle and I can't help but feel a little giddy.

But, there's something I'm missing in my address for kicking the winter blues to the curb: hydration. My lips are the first to go, and, although I've averted some sentiment to another tube, the Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm wins tops when it comes to the most hydrating pucker.
And for the skin, I slap on some über moisturizing oil during the day--endorsed by the gorgeous Josie Maran herself--in the form of the Josie Maran 100 Percent Pure Argan Oil, but it also works double multiple duty for a hair mender (because no one has time to fuss with conditioner), a hand souper, or a dry patch buster. And then, while I (attempt) to catch some sheep in the form of some 'z's' I'll be rocking the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask.

That's the beauty and nutrition level sorted, but I'm still feeling void. Now, that only my mom can fix.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish | Review

A brief glance at this homepage or a sound of my voice and you'll realize that I'm a denizen of the US. But, unlike my fellow complacent peers, I'm willing to stretch to the wit's end of my wallet to snatch a good import. Whether the packaging preaches in français or I satisfyingly glance at the 'Made in the UK' notion after each pump, I'm willing to forget I live in the big ole red, white, and blue (except it seems like every other country seems to have the same colors) even if it's just for a moment.

But, don't get my wrong, I'm certainly not shunning this 'land of opportunity.' And especially as of late because the beauty connections have been put to sterling practice because, ladies and gents, Liz Earle has arrived across the pond in the US.

Being the tester I am, I started my Earle venture with the classic: Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser. The philosophy with this potion is to 'cleanse' by rubbing the creamy cleanser into the skin, then 'polish' with the adjoining muslin cloth.
I've been a fan of muslins for a while, but I'm just now realizing that they're such a faff--some too big and hang in your (nasty) sink, others too small and only cover your eye. So I guess I'm not the best tester when it comes to the Liz Earle cleansing philosophy.

Nevertheless, I've been using this cleanser for my morning cleanse and nightly makeup removal step. The blend of beeswax, eucalyptus oil, glycerin, vitamin B5, cocoa butter, rosemary extract, and chamomile boast an honorable conscience, but the formula isn't completely clean for die-hard naturalists.
As I judge this potion based on it's performance, it takes off makeup nicely (only leaving a slight tell-tale black smudge of waterproof mascara in the morning) and cleanses the skin leaving no film, residue, nor oily or stripped sensation.

I have to disagree with the experts here, though, because Cleanse and Polish is the only cleanser that Earle's line contains, making it 'suitable for all skin types.' And the reason I beg to differ is because my skin hasn't gotten along with this cleanser very well. It's caused a few stubborn whiteheads and pesky under-the-skin bumps along my jawline.
At first, I put down the gradual disagreement to another product, but after switching this cleanser's job to Cetaphil (probably even worse for my skin...) the little lumps have gradually dissipated.

So, I think Liz Earle has a mighty solid cleanser here, but, I must admit, my skin isn't quite the fan. I'll go back to my American ways.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Body Care Staples

I wouldn't consider myself the most excessive purchaser of products. Although my best friend disagrees, she can't quite fault me for it because her similar beauty obsessiveness means she completely understands. Nevertheless, I follow the theme of buying what I need and only that--except this is a renewed dogma that didn't coincide with 2013's makeup spree.

But take a peek into my shower or bathroom cabinet and you'll begin to see that I follow the rule in pristine fashion. Yet, this also means that the items that line my wire caddy don't have a neutral title, they're staples--staples of the body cleansing, scrubbing, moisturizing, and preening variety.

Over the past couple of months, I've been experimenting with dry brushing, a technique that encourages toxin removal, increases circulation, and helps to bust cellulite. I'll be honest, the toxin ridding powers are immeasurable without beakers and salts and I really don't think that any beauty product can bust a case of the lumps, but I'll tell you why I've been loving it.
Long strokes towards the heart really make me skin feel zingy and dish a slight bit of exfoliation in the perfect allotted time it takes for my water to heat up. I'm not the most diligent of testers, but the fact that you could pick up a body brush for around a tenner means it won't break the bank but feels lovely. So, it's not necessary, but the ecotools Bamboo Bristle Bath Brush has certainly become a staple.

Perhaps the most important is the washer: the Korres Vanilla Cinnamon Shower Gel. I've ranted (in the most positive of ways) about Korres Shower Gels previously, but here comes another. Although their ingredient list doesn't have me swooning, their scents certainly do because of their pungent yet not overpowering whiff.
And on special days--notably Sundays--I whip out a scrub after I've washed my limbs and tum. The concoction perching in the red-lidded jar is my own, 'Parisian To Be' formula of coconut and olive oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. There was truly no method to my madness when I whipped this baby up, but my chai-spiced goal was achieved quite well and it also scrubs without leaving an irritated and harsh-texture evoked mess afterwards.

If I'm continuing the pamper theme, I'll douse my body in more coconut oil because who doesn't want to smell like coconut and wake up with softened and smoothed skin? That's what I thought. But, on an everyday basis, I'll rub some of the Desert Essence Sweet Almond Hand and Body Lotion all over. It's formula is Fair Trade, organic, and it also boasts a clean conscience along with an ingredients list containing aloe vera juice, sweet almond extract, shea butter, coconut and jojoba oil, and honeysuckle extract. It absorbs into the skin really quickly, leaving it balanced yet nourished and also leaves you covered in a non-lingering marzipan scent--so you can spritz perfume to your desire.

As much as I wish my bathroom resembled an apothecary, I'm not that kind of high-maintenance gal...okay, that's a lie. But I won't be spending excess cash on body care when I could be spending it on skincare; that's the truth.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Beauty, Blogging, and Books

For the past couple of years, reading has transformed from pleasure to task. I've never been a book worm, but a complex plot, intricate literary talent, and sneaky surprises along the way always have me on my toes. But, now, I'm reading pages upon pages on the Mexican American War, great lengths of Vergil's Aeneid, and flimsy pages about entropy that jolt my snooze button more than cliffhanger attitude.

I hear that voice in your head--because it's in mine, too: boring. But, I've been determined to make more time for pleasure reading--the like that doesn't include a highlighter in hand (except I've become such a nerd, I feel naked without one).
Nevertheless, one of my un-beauty-related goals was to read more. And I can now righteously pat myself on the back because I've been doing just that, delving into books on my two favorite topics: blogging and beauty.

The former binding is Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community by Joy Deangdeelert Cho, revealing a true behind-the-scenes peek in blogging with precision and laughs. Consider her your mom, leading the way through the world and teaching you valuable lessons along the way. From basic (like debriefing the types of blogs) to 'finding a blog/life balance,' Cho's creation has become an indispensable resource--for now and certainly for the future as this blog grows.
She has enlightened me on The Pomodoro Technique (which has cut my homework time in half), how to overcome 'blogger's block,' how to create a media kit, protecting your work, and how to write a compelling bio; and I'm sure she'll give you the push to create your own virtual niche or disclose the secrets to turning your hobby into a full time job. Nevertheless, Cho doesn't hesitate to remind the reader how blogging is mostly about passion; everyone has 'something unique to say...'

On the most science-y end of the spectrum is The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Sceince of Smell by Luca Turin. Turin, first, reveals the savvy behind perfume: controversiality on how the nose actually works, the career stepping stones of a perfumer, a peek inside the Institut Supérieur International du Parfum, de la Cosmétique et de l'Aromatique Alimentaire (or 'Perfume School'), and scintillating descriptions of the world's best scents.
The book is separated into two parts: the prose and the science. The first half had me enamored--who doesn't want to hear the scandals of the perfume industry--but, indeed, the rest gets educational and turns from romantic to chemistry really fast. Reading about hydroxide and ester bonds isn't exactly how I'd like to spend my evenings before I hit the snooze button (especially after already mentally taxing homework). But, any perfume fiends or intellectual seekers, plunge in.

My current read and delve is No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics by Siobhan O'Conner and Alexandra Spunt. This journalist duo reveals the nasty side to your cosmetics whilst boasting enough ethos to spur a stash overhaul. Yet, they in no way shun you're current conventional standings and delineate the gradual path to a completely clean routine.
Indeed, the ingredient breakdown and compound complications are revealed, but are seemingly juxtaposed with what that actually means for your body, the 'ugly factor,' and the level of harm. Also, these girls understand the mind of a beauty blogger; at the end of each chapter (each devoted to a beauty category--i.e. hair, skin, makeup, etc.) there remains a tale of product recommendations, and then, in the epilogue, a list of their favorite beauty destinations and brands.

So, I've finally rediscovered the power and placidity of a cracking opus (best enjoyed under a fluffy, cloud-like duvet and a warm, seeping cup of green tea). Just don't tell my YouTube feed I've been cheating on it....

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Sigma Eye Brush Overhaul

I'll admit: I'm an eyeshadow slacker (especially for a blogger of my kind). And I accredit three reasons for such a confession. One, I'm lacking dreamy shades of pigment itself. Two, my OCD takes control of wanting to perfect every square millimeter of skin--and, ten minutes later, I've just finished concealer. And, last, I'm not fully equipped to exercise the eye-enhancing task to the best of my ability.

One of the three I just can't control, but the other was seemingly fixed when my fairy grandmother showed at my door (and I totted with a MAC palette as a result). But, the latter was a mission to be assigned.
So, in CIA fashion, I stalked websites, conducted research, and carefully mended outcome by outcome in my head. MAC brushes? Too damn pricey. Zoeva? Can I just move to Europe already? Sigma? Hmm...now that requires contemplation.

But don't envision chin-scratching motions for too long, because, before I knew it my fairy postmother (who happens to be a man...) appeared at my door with packages in tow.
The Sigma E40 Tapered Blending and Sigma E70 Medium Angled Shading were soon unwrapped and eyeshadow was swept (what else?).

The blending counterpart wins Google prize for 'MAC 224 dupe.' Although, I don't have both to compare, I can deliver on it's washing abilities.
For natural, 'barely there' eye-adornment fiends (like myself) this brush is what your imagined countenance is made of. Choose a champagne, bronze, or taupe, and this baby will seamlessly blend color across your lids in a matter of seconds. 'Are you really wearing eyeshadow?' Now that's what I like to hear.

Then, the shading variety lives up to it's promises--and then some. Its stiff bristles pack on color and shimmer, but a clean tip also blends. It's angled nature makes it sizable for crease work, but, I must gush, it doesn't quite live up to that title as well as the MAC 217.
Considering I'm rarely the heavy pigment wearer, this set of bristles doesn't get as much use as it's fluffy correlative. But, as you've probably been able to realize since the first sentence, I can't speak for daily smoky eye execution.

As I now stare at these two black handles, I realize, 'these babies really need some more love.' Yet, I also can't help but sigh that the E70 wasn't exactly the most necessary of purchases. Oh well. I guess I'm a buyer of brushes in true princess fashion, but I still couldn't justify the gorgeous copper handled variety.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Nutrition and Skin

I dare you to find a magazine that doesn't reveal some new fad on how to lose weight or the newest superfood (because I have yet to encounter one myself). And because of this sad fact, the whole of the diet and nutrition world can be so confusing.

But we all know how to fix our diets: swap the flour for grains, choose dark, leafy greens, chow on lean protein, and consume enough nuts to be a squirrel. But I believe that there is more drive to eating healthy than wanting to lose weight or developing a nicer looking bod.

Food is fuel. Fuel to get you through your Calculus test, fuel to repair your body during your cardio sesh, and, most of all, for me, to fuel me for the hours I spend en pointe.
Nevertheless, this fuel has more capacity and prowess than one might think. Check your Netflix queue because there, between the raunchy comedies, lay movies that reveal the cures that food boasts for the most common diseases and maladies--namely Hungry for Change and Forks Over Knives.

But, I'm also a beauty blogger and (not to mention) skincare obsessive. So when I shove something in my mouth, I consider two things: the effect this will have on my body and the effect this will have on my skin. My skin, it's the last place on your body to receive nutrients. Feeding my dermis has been the reason I've cut out dairy, went vegan, incorporated algae, etc. Yet, soon enough, eating for my skin and for my body became an obsession and today (and for the last few years), I've been battling the preoccupation.

But, never fear, because I'm conquering a more stable head one forkful at a time, and I am going to demystify the misconceptions about fuel.
Do you really need to take supplements? I thought coconut oil was bad for you because it has so much saturated fat. Is 'juicing' as good for you as the hype suggests? Are carbs really the problem?

Now, I'm not a nutritionist or medically certified, but, because of my condition, I've learned preached nutrition information. So, leave your recommendations, questions, comments, and possible concerns below. So, I'll be waiting, but excuse-moi while I go grab some cashews and green tea, because, darn, those things are good.

Monday, January 20, 2014

RMS Living Luminizer | Review

The assumption that everyone likes chocolate is ignorant, because I know many who don't. But assuming that everyone likes highlighter is a different story. Although I'm sure there is someone out there who doesn't (and, if you know them, they deserve a slap on the bum), any pot of glimmery stuff should perch in your makeup bag (or collection or full-on vault).

For makeup newbies, you may be wondering what this 'h' word is, really. Well, non, it's not (in any way) related to the yellow, neon pens lounging at the bottom of your backpack. But consider them in the same family. Why do you highlight? Well, I'm partial to saying because my professor tells me to, but, in retrospect, the purpose is to intensify whatever is being outlined by the eye-catching ink.

Well the makeup form does essentially the same thing, drawing light to various focal points of your face. They come in universally flattering undertones, intensities, glitter, shimmer, sheen, and aura. And although they claim the alias 'universal,' I beg to differ.
Once upon a time, a bronzy glow-giver enhanced my complexion. And it wasn't as pretty as I had imagined. Then, I had the same result with a too-pink counterpart. But, nevertheless, there is one pot that really should be within your grasp: the RMS Living Luminizer.

Unlike the previously mentioned, this pearly, white cream will not alter your skin tone in any unflattering manner--in neither spray tan nor disco ball fashion. Although it seems quite stark, it's not, and this formula is one of the most subtle I've ever seen (and that's a compliment).
We owe this subtlety to the ingredients: castor oil, coconut oil, beeswax, rosemary extract, and pigment. C'est tout.

No glitter. No shimmer. Just sheen. But, judging from the former list, there's no reason to run at the sight of the oily content. Although I vouch the sheen to the oils, no one shalt judge for an oil-slick on your brow bone, cheek bone, cupid's bow, and inner corner. And if they do, slap them on the bum, too.

The only glint of negative traits I have for this is the lasting power--normally around four hours. But I wouldn't let that scare you. After that amount of time, the oils start to kick in on my combination skin--not in an oily way, but a little bit of 'glow' peeks under. So, truth be told, I don't need the additional sheen.
If you boast a drier complexion, this may pose a peril. But the no-brush-needed quality means you can throw the pot in your handbag and rush to the lou to tap some on again. In fact, it's so easy to tap and press because of its melty manner (translated into the fact that it mends to the skin perfectly in a 'no-makeup' makeup way).

So, last time, the must-have product was Advanced Night Repair, but, this round, it's this pot of organic sheen. But really--add some breath and life to your complexion, because simply giving someone a box of chocolate won't induce as happy a reaction as you may think.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Beauty Empties | Trois

Despite how many times I dip my brush into a pan of eyeshadow or blush, or how many times I pump out a foundation, they never seem to come to an end. Well, I now know that there's hope--optimism that, one day, I'll be able to buy even more makeup because I now require replacements. The mind of a beauty blogger, I tell you.

What are the exact complexion enhancers and pigmented potions that I'm talking about? Three makeup products. The first being the Dior Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum--a white mascara primer that oomphs up the lashes for a more dramatic face. Truth be told it's both maximizing and plumping, but I tended to notice the most jolting drama on the volume front (but it could just be that my already ridiculously long eyelashes don't need the added plump). I haven't used this in ages, so the sensible part of me initiated a toss into the hoarder-status empty beauty products bin. As I finally part without it, I'll tell that you really don't need this; but we also don't need doughnuts, yet we eat them anyway (because they're good).

Also for emphasizing the 'windows to the soul' is the Urban Decay Primer Potion. You could say this purple genie bottle was a winner for diminishing the oil-production on my lids, keeping my pigment in place, and abolishing creases. A repurchase was on the cards, until I realized that this was the perfect excuse to try the NARS primer I've been swooning after. I told you I'm sane.
My summer makeup staple was this tube: theBalm Stainiac in Beauty Queen. I applied this pigmented pink and rosy gel onto my cheeks for a natural flush. The best part about this? The doe-foot applicator and gel like consistency--both characteristics that are usually non-existent in other cheek tints. Yet, although this is gorgeous, I'll have to hide my wallet, because I certainly don't need anymore cheek tints (either powder, cream, or gel).

On a surprising note, I've only used up one skincare product: the Aura Cacia Rose Hip Seed Oil. Darn, this stuff was amazing. It's relatively neutral pH made it a perfect accompaniment for those exfoliating toners and I can't apprehend from gushing that it helped fade my spot-induced scars much more quickly. I'm currently testing the Pai (pricey) version, but if you have a spare tenner and are looking for some rosehip seed oil, snatch this one.

For hair, I've come to the end of the Sebastian Shaper Fierce. Despite the clever and intriguing name, this is simply a high-hold hairspray that smells strongly of alcohol and chemicals. Did it impel my ballerina-bun hard-as-a-rock hold? Yes, which is exactly why a normal person shouldn't use this.
A tin of the Burt's Bees Hand Salve has also joined the ranks. This thick balm melts on contact with hands, yet still remains emollient, and coats the hands in a moisturizing layer. Yet, in spite of its incredibly thick feel, I don't find this as moisturizing as you may think.
I was also disappointed when it came to the moisturizing properties of the Soap & Glory Hand Food. It's a win that it sinks into the hands quickly, yet consistent and too few between applications queued that this lotion wasn't as moisturizing as I wished. Also, the scent: basically identical to Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, but a bit too strong for the likes of my nose.

Last, we're amidst the depths of winter (but still no snow where I am...) and I've been slapping on all kinds of body hydrators--the first being the Trader Joe's Coconut Body Butter. This is my second tub of the island-scented balm, but I don't think I'll be grabbing another--mostly because it's seasonal (and I don't think they stock it this time of year), but also because it's not as natural as the packaging claims.
On the other hand, the truly dreamy oil known as the Fresh Sugar Body Oil had me a little sob-induced as I threw away the pretty glass bottle. A gift from my birthday two years back, I made this thing last--and I'm glad I did. I'm here to say that this is the best body oil I've ever tried.

The beauty empties band-wagon has commenced for 2014. More empty tubes and containers, more hoarding trash in the depths of my bathroom cabinet. Shhh....

Friday, January 17, 2014

The French Girl Hair Routine

The bold lippie doesn't suit my visage, so (at my disdain), the Parisian red lip and makeup-free face is a no go. At that, I'll just have to indulge in countless cappuccinos, croissants, and macarons--but I'm forgetting something, non? French girl hair.
Us Americans have either the city sleek look or preppy, artificial curl demeanor pinned; those Brits have the messy appearance nailed; and then, those French lads, have the artfully placed, effortless stylée.

So, despite the fact that my brother often mutters that my hair looks frizzy, I don't give a damn, because it's French (and it's not like he knows the meaning of frizz, anyway).

Beginning under the tap, I wash my hair with the Phyto Cream Shampoo*. Agreed, the brand coheres with the theme, but that's not all. The balancing and herbal remedy cures those flaky scalps without a too moisturizing nor too drying finish. When it's over, you'll have shiny locks that reflect like the sun and a hint of tasteful volume.
Since I can't manage to find my conditioner love, I apply my moisture menders outside the running water: oils. Whether it be a dose of coconut, argan, or, if I'm feeling über luxe, the Caudalie Divine Oil, little is needed, yet those roots won't be weighed down, but your ends will be looking nourished and healthy--nevertheless, we both know the last time you got your hair cut.

Then, brossez les cheveux and tie in a hair tie and go to bed; but not any ordinary crease-ridding hair tie--only the Twistbands. Why? Forgot any sleep inducing cowlicks or general mish mosh. When that alarm sounds, your roots will be kept well groomed and your ends will maintain a hint of volume and texture.
But, don't reach for the brush--enhance your 'just rolled out of bed' texture (that's what it's supposed to look like, anyway). If your locks are too messy, though, comb through with fingers.

Style as you wish: all down and a'flow, a princess crown tie-back, or chignon. If you're hoping for a bit more styling help, choose some texturizing and volume spray. For pure volume, spritz the Bumble and bumble Thickening Dry Spun Finish* on roots, ends, or everywhere. But, if you're into the more French riviera, à la plage look, then I (hands down) recommend the Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray. Wave inducing? Oui. Shine enhancing? Oui--we don't want unhealthy locks, do we? Yet, it also imparts a hint of volume, as well.

So, I've just discussed my two favorite topics: beauty and anything French. How many more days until I can move to dreamland Paris--away from the 'frizzy' hair comments?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bases With a Natural Finish

Somewhere along the path of writing this blog, I discovered that the words on the screen (or, on my part, the ones I type) were not as metaphorical to product recommendations from your best friend. I write posts like I would an explication and am normally late for school because I can't not browse the articles from 'Into the Gloss' with my warm, exothermic cup of joe in hand And this is also when I decided that delving into the video making realm wasn't for me--a decision which I praise, for my adolescent appearance and six-year old voice aren't quite ready for the big screen, yet (at least I'll be thanking the traits when I'm fifty).

But I also discovered 'Into the Gloss' motion: a chic and utterly addictive concoction of interviews, tutorials, product adorations, and smashing tunes strumming in the background. My favorite motion reel? Museum-Inspired Makeup: Learning from the Masters: an account of (parisienne) Violette and Marie's trek to the MET and a chronicle portraying the vision of Renaissance and Neoclassical art-clad walls.
While I would consider a trip of the like as one to be made for my grandmother's giddiness, Violette adverts to another spectrum to squeeze into my personal cup of tea: the 'texture, color, and purity' of the complexion. 'The makeup is not static--like a mask. It will breath with you. Between light and shadows, between glow and matte.'

Glow and matte? After the pomp, I dug through my drawers and realized that achieving such a complexion wasn't as difficult as I had imagined--as a threesome of 'natural' bases had been nestled in my Glossybox storage system.

So I've been applying these bases with a natural finish for the past couple of weeks, penning my thoughts, and, in retrospect, this moisturizer, tinted moisturizer, and foundation boast more than your usual base. With a combination of matte, yet dewy charisma, I've assembled an edit of my own.

First, the Origins Vitazing Moisturizer. By the likes of the name, it is a moisturizer (so it's more skincare than makeup). Yet, it holds a bit of a tint that evens the skin and provides a slightly bronzy, skin-evening finish. And--the best part--throughout the day, my combination skin isn't in need of any powder, as it remains shine and oil-free from nine to five (and then some). Because of its extremely light coverage, I always top it up with a hefty bit of concealer.
In these winter months, I find I need a bit more hydration than this lotion offers, but, in summer, it's pretty fantastic; but it's also ideal for pressed mornings when no one has the time for two minute plus makeup.

In a slightly more covering bottle is the Jouer Matte Moisture TintOui, it's a tinted moisturizer, but don't be fooled. In comparison to the Laura Mercier, it holds a higher standing coverage. In juxtaposition to the Clinique CC Cream, the textures are quite similar, although this Jouer formula has a far more satin-inducing and easy-to-blend aura.

Then, the most full-coverage formula: the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk FoundationOoo la la--is this stuff good--yet full of surprises, as well. First, you may be wondering why I vouch it the 'natural finish' alias when the name boasts 'luminous.' Truth be told, I'm still pondering the same predicament. Either way, a pump of this blended in with the Real Techniques Buffing Brush reveals a matte, yet somewhat dewy complexion, but a whole lot of coverage.
Coverage: the occurrence and sight I feared once upon a time. Yet, fear no longer because, for bad skin days, this foundation works a treat for evening out the tone of my skin (to the point where concealer is barely needed).

So, watch the reel, or visit the MET. And if you're feeling really luxurious, film a makeup tutorial along the steps (which seemingly seems identical to Blair and Serena territory). And whilst my peers will be toting a flat complexion, I'll have a counterpart beautiful enough to make an art professor grin--I can only hope.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Korres Shower Gels

While I  continue the search for completely natural, organic, and clean cosmetics, I can't apprehend from admitting that I have found some duds and also some loves. On the makeup-front, I've found some real gems that shine because of their natural content (literally), but, when I consider skincare, some horror has been wrecked by the likes of these aspirations.
Yet, when we consider body care, there is no going wrong. Perhaps the aroma may smell a little too much like dirt for your liking, or the rich essential oils leave your skin a bit too dry; yet, for me, body care is where the experimentation begins.

But maybe you're not at this stage and would like to hold onto your skin coating hydrators and surfacent foaming washes for as long as possible--I don't blame you.

Whether you're at one extreme or the other, Korres can compromise. Their formulas are free of parabens, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs, and triclosan, yet they yield to contain sulfates, fragrance and some other chemicals. Nevertheless, it's difficult for my organic-yearning self to gush that these foaming body cleansers are bad. Because they're darn amazing.

Although they continue to contain those harsh and drying sulfates, they're not stripping at the least and manage to keep the moisture levels of my skin at a rather reasonable scale (but I do find I need to top up with a body butter in this arctic breeze).
Amidst these negative terms, they boast some rich goodness such as aloe leaf juice, lactic acid (for gentle exfoliation), and coco glucoside. Coco-what? I hear you out: derived from the dried pulp of coconuts, it's a gentle cleanser that's non-toxic, residue free, and compatible with most skins.

With the nitty gritty out of the way, the shining glory of these gels are their scents. They may exist because of added fragrance, but they are glorious and transform my late night, dreary eyed, vital showers into a luxurious experience.
On the far left is Vanilla Cinnamon. Although the name brings forth pink clad, teen showers, it's subtle and musky (translated to 'even more chic'). Chic just like Europeans; thus, this scent is part of the Korres line from across the pond; who doesn't love a good import?
Then, there's Guava. From the likes of the photo, I've used this bottle to the last drop. It's fruity, but has a definite earthy undertone that makes it irresistible.
The latest addition is Fig. As it seems, nearly every beauty blogger is going crazy for the aroma of this dewdrop-shaped fruit. Well, I am too--because this one has easily won my heart (and my brother's, too, it seems).
If only these scents came in perfume form....

So I may not be able to compromise on many things, but these blissful treats have my middle ground enamored. I just won't look at the ingredients while I'm basking in their glory.

Friday, January 10, 2014

RMS Beauty

As it turns out, nearly everything poses peril to our health, these days. Whether you think the claim is a hoax or a wee bit bold, perhaps it's not that hard to make better and more natural choices.
And you'll be surprised to hear this: Sephora has been ousted as my favorite store--I know, it's shocking--and it has been replaced by Whole Foods. Although I'm partial to their salad bar and plethora of nut butters and chocolate (the nine dollar, ninety percent cacao bars....) their beauty section is also to. die. for. Their selection of oils, natural body scrubs, and overpriced goji berries have my heart smitten; and so does RMS Beauty.

Where I live, it's difficult to locate, but, despite the fact that everything I've purchased has been only virtually seen, I haven't been disappointed. The range was created by makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift (hence the acronym 'RMS'), and the fact that she's constantly glowing and gorgeous means the range must be, too.

Their motto? 'Created by nature, untainted by man.' And all there products maintain the philosophy. To say their concoctions of oils, plant pigments, powders, and formulas are natural would be an insult--because they're raw and made with organic and food-grade ingredients.
I wouldn't suggest eating the stuff, but, if you're interested, the integrals are also gluten free, GMO free, nano free, soy free, and animal testing-free.

With the nitty gritty in tip-top condition, aesthetic, hold, and grip is just as pleasing. Creamy, blendable, and simply gorgeous (just like their founder) is their nature. With a website hosting elegant Lip2Cheek tints, a highlighter by the name of the Living Luminizer, a beauty oil, coconut cream, 'Un' Powder, Lip Shines, eye shadows, 'Un' Cover-Up, and my current lust--the Buriti Bronzer--either hide your wallet or block the URL.

Because I'm a design and organizational fanatic, it's not a review without mention of the carrying case: the packaging. The frosted glass pot lidded with a white and pink, purple and blue encrusted lid can't be described as anything but chic. But then there's more; underneath the charming facet is a biodegradable make up with recyclable and reusable glass and air tight aluminum lid.

So, if you haven't guess, we may have a new brand love amongst the ranks. Rose-Marie Swift Beauty blusters impeccable formulas, sustainable packaging everything, and a dewy facet. Your other cosmetics may be hiding....

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bumble and bumble Thickening Dry Spun Finish | Review

High school: a dynamic of mean girls, jocks, artsy fellows, and stress. Similarly, it's also the time when girls start wearing makeup. I smudged liner, coated mascara, and tapped blush onto my complexion, hoping that it wouldn't look over the top, yet I aspired that I'd fit in with the rest. Well, truth be told, no matter if I brushed mascara from an empty tube or barely hit the brush to the pan, I still felt like it was too much. So, what did I do? I'd wet my hands and smear all over my face, ridding of all the tedious turmoil I just went through. Once it was all gone, that's when I felt comfortable.

Flash forward a few years and I've become far more complacent with mascara wearing and complexion enhancing. Yet, the one area that I still want to appear untouched is my hair. Perhaps it's the fact that I'm after the Parisian aesthetic, where slept in locks are as beautiful as things can get, but my no heat prerogative means I keep my routine to a minimum. Nevertheless, my genes aren't as French as I would hope and my thin, more-than-straight locks don't mend as seamlessly with my hoped presence as I would desire.

So I threw all caution to the wind and searched for the most thickening and volumizing product I could seek; and I think I've found it: the Bumble and bumble Thickening Dry Spun Finish*.

I'll admit, it's taken me quite a while to get to grips with this one. But it's ability to make my hair look thicker than I could ever imagine has granted it the daily reach from Lillian's hand.
The silk powder, wheat protein, and sunflower extract constituents sound promising for a spray that will whip your follicles into an airy silhouette. Yet, there's more that makes this concoction promising.

First, and most importantly, it's translucent. I apologize to dry shampoo manufacturers, but I don't think you understand that I would like to keep my young, brunette hair as grey-free for as long as possible, thank you. Secondly, this stuff smells nice, but not too overpowering at all--so you won't have to worry about clashing your perfume. Last, it works--and chicly at that. You won't get that voluminous perm hair, but ridiculously thicker, natural looking hair. And it also doesn't hurt that your natural shine (not oil) will still stand, so you'll be looking as radiant as usual.

My only grumble? The volume doesn't seem to last all day--maybe only two to three hours, but, I don't care, because if I get get my natural hair looking good for one minute, that's a feat in itself.
When I'm ready to inject some thickness, I just brush my hair first (you could definitely do it without brushing, but I find it looks slightly too messy that way), then lift up pieces and spray.

Boom--Parisian hair; it looks like I'm one step closer to my goal.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Skincare Additions

It's the new year, and what better way to reign it in then with some new skincare additions. Of course, my highly apprehensive money-spending mind needs more of a justification than that. A few empty bottles? We're getting there. A New Year's resolution that includes an overhaul? Aha; but I'm still slightly apprehensive.

But what else is Christmas for besides asking for beauty products you're not willing to spend your own money on? I admit, I'm not that vain and I adore spending time with my family around the fire (not to mention it's the only day of the year where my brother and I don't fight), but it's certainly an excuse.

I hit the last drop of the budget variety, so a bottle of the Pai Rosehip Bioregenerate Fruit and Seed Oil Blend was at the top of my wishlist (thanks, Mom). In contrast to the usual pressing process, this oil is extracted using carbon dioxide, which delivers the exhaustive properties of the seed. And, because of this, this orange potion contains high doses of Trans-Retinoic Acid--a metabolite of vitamin A (otherwise known as retinol).
So far, it's too soon to notice the real bam, but, with first application, the appearance of my scars had faded. Yet, it has also been the source of a nasty breakout. The only thing I can think of is that the high levels of acid are a bit too high for my current routine, thus disrupting my acid mantle (nerd alert). I'll keep you posted....

But, you will be monitoring me on my number one resolution: no more spot picking. To soften the habit, I searched for a drying spot treatment that will suck out all that gunk (that my fingernails would otherwise be prodding). Although it doesn't coincide with my fresh natural beauty predilection, if the Malin + Goetz Acne Treatment Nighttime stops the prodding, I'm all in. The bi-phase concoction contains a white powder of salicylic acid, sulfur, zinc oxide, and camphor to suck the life out of those spots.

But, on the opposite end of the spectrum, is a bottle of Castor Oil--one ingredient and no frills. And, as it seems, it's rather multipurpose. I can vouch for it's extreme blackhead ridding properties when used in a technique known as the oil cleanse; ooooh, fancy. Despite it's oily name, it can actually be quite drying when overused.
But there's something else that this oil holds: increasing hair growth. My fellow blogger Meg journaled the effects of lash application; and the product was seemingly thicker, more fluttery lashes. Unfortunately, my not-so-diligent and utterly forgetful ways means that I haven't been oiling my lashes as consistently as I would hope. But, nevertheless, do I see some thicker bottom lashes?

Three new skincare products, a new year, and a renewed dogma. It seems like its the game of firsts. First time to sleep with makeup? You'd never catch me.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

This Week's Most Loved Trio | Six

We've made it through the first week of 2014. We didn't hit the end of the world (oh, Hollywood...). And while reigning in the new year--homebody stylée--I began to note my beauty resolutions. Yet, it's a week later and I'm still adding another to the list: more lifestyle posting.

Is there any denying the fact that there has been a great influx in beauty products in my life? Non, so to peter the crème de la crème to trois would be infeasible. Instead, I've penned and narrowed down a lonesome three items for this week's most loved notes.

I've often been called a 'fish' on account of my water guzzling prowess--and often get annoyed looks from waiters as the return ten a few times to refill my glass. But, baby, it's cold outside, and I've swapped my usual aqua downing for green tea; my current steep being the Trader Joe's Organic Green Tea. Although it boasts a multitude of catechins (or antioxidants), let's state the obvious: it tastes amazing. So, even if it had no benefits at all, I'd still be sucking it down.
Yet, perhaps not as often if it weren't for this red mug. Although I turned it around in the picture--dumb move, Lillian--it showcases a single 'L' in blue print that compliments the red floral print. And it's also massive; massive enough to hold those gallons of hot tea.

Despite the current exceeding jars of wicks ready to be lit in my living quarters, I just had to add another. I was in Anthropologie (who sells the most amazing candles, by the way) and staggered around--as you do when you're executing the task of 'Christmas shopping.' I stumbled upon the Boulangerie candles, the brand of which boasts my single 'burn to the bottom' light: the Whipped Cream and Pear candle. Their holiday scents were on sale, and do you really think I could resist that? I parted with their Gingersnap Candle; it's warm, spicy, and slightly sweet. Boulangerie's candles tend to be more sugary to say the least, but they're never over the top and smell lovely.

And when it's time to blow the candle out and to roll up the covers (four layers worth, in my situation), I've been spritzing the This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray on my pillow before I begin counting sheep. The blend of lavender, chamomile, and vetivert is calming and a subtle sniff is inhaled with each breath. Luckily, the blend is made with one hundred percent pure essential oils, so you won't be nosing any artificial perfumes. Also, This Works conducted a study, testing the value of their calming spray, and the participants fell asleep faster, had a deeper sleep, felt less tired in the morning, and felt less anxious when their heads hit the pillow. Just remind me not to get too spritz happy when I have an early wakeup call.

Unfortunately, tomorrow's another monday, but, on the contrary, my room will be smelling nicer, I'll get a better night's rest, and I'll have all those extra antioxidants amassed in my system; these are essentials, I tell you.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Best of the Ciaté Mini Mani Month

An apple a day will keep the doctor away. A nail polish a day will keep the shopping away. Phew--I wish. Yet, I can't help but gush that swapping my normal countdown cardboard container from chocolate to nail polish was definitely an upgrade.

Christmas was quite some time ago--can you believe?--but the perks of the Ciaté Mini Mani Month keep on rolling. The result? Twenty four new polishes that have supplemented my stocks (and I had to have a nail polish reorganization session because of it).
Oh boy, were there good benefits. But, nevertheless, some bottles will be passed to my mom--a process in which we now refer to the victims as 'the duds.' So, I'm now here to adulate the winning and most beautiful bunch from the Christmas Eve countdown.

First, in the way way back left, is Fit for a Queen--a silver glitter, but still in a liquidy base for easy accent nail and supplementary talon frills.
Then, there's Amazing Gracie. If you can't tell from the photo, it's a milky pink that is slightly more opaque and white than my other polished rose shades. So far, it's acquired the most worn of the calendar title (quelle surprise).
One bottle that I will be designating for party use is Starlet. Is it black? Is it green? Blue? Purple? The answer is, it's all of them. It's duo quadruple chrome appearance is eye catching yet not over the top; well, maybe just a little (but in a good way).
Chinchilla masters a cloudy baby blue. The added grey undertones make it more neutral that striking; and the same quality goes for Tweed and Tails. This army green has the same grey undertones, yet also has a bit of a khaki feel for a not-too-vibrant, olive approach.

Pillow Fight is a purple (with more grey undertones--I'm certainly not complaining) to execute a more muted finish.
And then, there's Boudoir--a striking red. Classic with no frills; no orange, pink, grey or other additions. It's my next nail adorning casualty....
Last is another glitter: Snow Globe. Cute name, even more romancing appearance. The white tinsel-esque glitter is subtle, but definitely buildable--especially good for an ombré sparkle finish.

So, now that we've summed up the best pigments, it's time to discuss the countdown addition. Is it worth it? Well, in truth, I'm still uncertain. I'd be a nonsense beauty blogger if I told you that opening up a new nail polish in an astonishing shade each day was horrible (and I can't help but admit that Ciaté's graphic/label designer is good). Yet, this is no ninety nine cent advent buy. It's pricy, and some of the shades I'll never wear. Who knows, hopefully I will be able to decide the verdict come twelve months.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Beauty Resolutions

Chances are last night was a late night, you came home a little tipsy, and you're just too ill feeling to do anything. Hey--that's why we have New Year's Day off.
So, even though I reigned in the new year with my best mate (and you better bet we slapped on face masks, sipped hot cocoa, and watched Gossip Girl from the beginning--until the vital minute when the ball begins to drop, of course), I'm going to apprehend from preaching the importance of not using foaming cleansers and other rambles and save you from my general gibberish. I'll keep today's post light and airy--whipped cream-like--with my 2014 beauty resolutions.

NO MORE SPOT PICKING. I've read it far too many times, but it's just so tempting--I've now exposed you to my nasty habits. Yet, this article has me rethinking: there actually is a way to rid of the white puffy head without going in with your fingernails. The answer is a drying spot treatment, and if keeping this resolution means that I have an excuse for a shopping trip, then I'm in.

NO SKINCARE VARYING. Back in July and August, my skin was pristine. No spots, no scars, and no woes; I thought I had figured everything out. Then, the bottles and tubes ran down and I ended up purchasing different products. Well, I deserve a slap on the wrist because my skin hasn't been very good since. So, when my current standings hit the bin, I'll be resorting back to my summer skincare routine for a shopping list and then I will vary no longer.

DISCOVER MORE BUDGET OPTIONS. A peek inside my beauty stash and you'll notice one theme: quality, not quantity. Although I continue to have more makeup and skincare potions than the average joe, I'm assigning it my task to unveil more wallet-friendly options.

TRANSITION INTO CLEAN AND NATURAL BEAUTY. Ever since I discovered RMS Beauty and admitted a whole day watching 'Cloudy Apples' videos, I've been itching to make the switch; and I hope to do so this year. On the body front, I've delved slightly. Yet, when I consider switching my skincare options, it seems to go against the previous determination, and when I acknowledge the makeup category, the options are far pricier and I don't know if I'll be able to part without my beloved Dr. Jart base.

GET RID OF STUFF I NO LONGER USE.  Some people have fierce attachments to their cats (I don't blame them), but I have a strange attachment to my products. Non, it's not the kind of Gatsby tale it seems, but there are more unloved products lurking around my living cube then I know what to do with. So, if you have any parting tips, share the love; because I need some aid.

Because beauty only occupies a small bit of my life (okay, maybe just a little more...), I can't apprehend from including some other goals as well: laugh more, drink more coffee, enjoy more time with friends and family, be more confident in myself, and be more accepting in who I am.

(Around) five resolutions and twelve months. Unfortunately, this documentation means that three hundred and ninety four of you (at the moment) are holding me accountable. So, cheers, to reigning in 2014, watching the Rose Parade--an American thing for those of you worldly denizens--and getting over that hangover. Me? I just had a little too much hot chocolate.

And a shout out goes to my new 2014 organization and planning station: a 2014 Pocket Monthly Planner in Shell  from an Etsy seller called Dozi; my OCD is teeming with joy.
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