Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Favorites

April holds a special place in my heart. It's the month where I'm demanded to sign loads of birthday cards (Why does everyone's birthday seem to be in April?), it's the busiest month, and, this time, in particular, rather beauty packed. I've been testing new products, rediscovering old flames, solidified my skincare routine, and slapped on little makeup--quelle surprise. Nevertheless, I've been loving some absolutely amazing products. Introducing, the April favorites....

Now, I mentioned in the above paragraph that I've "solidified my skincare routine;" now, I know you're intrigued. I've just figured it out: I've been relatively spot free--except for a few blunders in my diet, but they're rather inevitable, and my skin has remained in a balanced state. Although it's early days with the Indeed Labs Pepta-Bright Serum, I'm rather impressed with it's glow-giving powers and ability to not disrupt my skin. I do think it has marginally helped with some scars, too, but I'll keep you posted. Perhaps the best pro about it, though, is that it costs nearly half the price of Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair--my previous serum love. With moisturizer, I've discovered the gravity of including a humectant in my routine, thanks to a comment by Ellen, and the difference is stunning. I've been using the Kiehl's Skin Rescuer at night to draw moisture to my skin (the humectant stage) and The Organic Pharmacy Manuka Face Cream in the mornings to seal in moisture (as the emollient stage) and for oil control. Then, when it comes to lip care, I've discovered that using petroleum-based products induces some spots around my mouth. In other words, I'll keep those products as far away from my face as possible. But such a discovery, has curated my love for the Kari Gran Tinted Lip Whip: a rather natural product that is whipped to divine perfection, with a hint of tint--which certainly comes in handy for day--and a moisturizing formula for the evenings.

Putting skincare aside (I'm obviously in that mood.) I've also been shocked by beauty products, tending other parts of my body. I've rekindled the Bumble and bumble Sunday Shampoo, deep cleansing my scalp and ridding of any clogging and weighing debris. After a suds with this, my hair feels clean (for lack of a better word). Although it sometimes goes a little flat, it's certainly worth the lack of volume, because my hair glimmers like platinum. Makeup-wise, I've also revived my admiration for the L'Orèal Telescopic Shocking Extensions Waterproof Mascara by purchasing a new tube. Although it's only slightly oomphing in the volume category, it's nothing a hint of liner can't fix--I prefer the way it looks that way, anyway--and the induced, absolutely stunning length and curl-holding ability is worth it. P.S. No, my eyelashes are not fake. And as this post rounds to a close, I've also been loving the This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray. Previously, I thought this spritz was a bit of a faff, but it remarkably makes me feel calmer and is a little luxury that makes bedtime more genial.

What have you been loving this month?

Monday, April 28, 2014

L'Orèal Telescopic Shocking Extensions Mascara

"What beauty products would you bring with you on a desert island?" It's a classic question. For me, mascara would be among the antiseptic ointment and water purifier. Mascara was my first foray into makeup, and I'm proud to admit that I'm a lot wiser when it comes to spoolies coated in black pigment now than I was. In previous years, I'd slyly wiggle a tidbit from a nearly empty mascara tube onto my outer lashes. Now, I still prefer the outer lash weighted look, but I go a bit heavier handed. I've tried different assortments, and some loyal few of you may remember when I noted that my favorite mascara was the Maybelline Full 'N Soft Waterproof Mascara. But notice how I said "was," and the reason for such a passé remark is because there is a new staple on the block: the L'Orèal Telescopic Shocking Extensions Waterproof Mascara.

A skinny, thin edged but thick faced brush with plastic bristles doesn't seem like it would really be that amazing. But, this industrial, science-fiction appearing tube offers serious extensions. In fact, it's so lengthening that, for day time use, I have to make sure that I go light handed when I reach the tips. Admittedly, I do have rather long eyelashes, but, when special occasions roll around, my friends all think I'm wearing falsies--the most natural and stunning look pair ever. But my previous mascara love had one thing going for it: volume. Although I still have a fettish with this characteristic and this formula isn't as oomphing, a good dose of volume is still feasible and I even prefer using liner to satisfy my craving. So, the L'Orèal formula rocks when it comes to length, but in curl holding powers, too. As a lover of lashes that looks princess-y, maintaining a curl is essential. Although the lift does fall after about five hours, that's good enough for me--after said amount of time, it's not like my appearance is even salvagable, anyway. Last, this mascara says waterproof, and it's seriously waterproof; I have to use coconut oil to take it off at night. But it's worth the aesthetic.

Luckily, I've had a makeup evolution over the course of five years (thank god). And from here on out, my eyelashes are always going to be mesmerizing.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hidden Beauty Gems

Many things these days are manmade. In other words, you won't find plastic lying on the side of the road--unless someone recognized it as the nearest trashcan, of course. That's what makes a gem so beautiful: nature's beauty in the purest form. But the key component of such a luxury is its mandate of scouting. That's what a beauty gems are: kick ass, gorgeous products that, unfortunately, take a little hunt to have in possession. But, once they're tangible, it's worth the mission.

When it comes to real beauty gems, international products that are void within your denizen shelves epitomize the meaning. Homeoplasmine*, the cult, French, all-purpose balm, seems to follow the trend. Formulated to cure anything--mildly antiseptic, matte, soothing, and smoothing--even if you have a full beauty stash like me, you'll still find a use for this product. Slapping it on cuticles, cuts, burns, and eczema is how I've made such a dent in the tube, but this French babe has an Australian sister: Lucas' Papaw Ointment*. Acting in the same manner as Homeoplasmine, it has a slightly more exotic characteristic. Fermented from papaya, it doesn't have the petroleum base of its French relative, but, instead, is non-carcinogenic and antiseptic, making it my choice out of the two for lip care. But neither can beat the unbeatable tint of the Clark's Botanicals Ultra Rich Lip Tint in Alexandria Rose*. It's completely natural--let's just say its ingredients list doesn't send me reaching for my cosmetic's ingredients dictionary--and can we talk about the tint? As the name suggests, it's a rose pigment, but with a splash of orange and yellow, leaning more on the side of coral. It's sheeny, sheer, and also looks rather fantastic on the cheeks. 

But there's a bronzing and contouring stud on the block: the RMS Buriti Bronzer*. This brown, slightly plum-tinged beauty adds both sculpt and a healthy dose of color to the skin, with RMS Beauty's signature dewy sheen thrown in; it's fair to say that all things RMS are amazing. When it comes to faux glowing the body, though, it's another game and skin prep is essential. Natural brand, Weleda, does a host of body oils, scrubs, creams, and cleansers to keep your dermis in a clean, smoothed, and moisturized state. The Weleda Birch Body Scrub* has an über creamy base, with just a few scrubbing particles thrown in. If you're looking for a harsh scrub to rid of mishaps, this isn't it; instead, consider it like a moisturizing cleanser, that just happens to buff, too. For a dosage of vitamins and minerals, the Ahava Liquid Dead Sea Salt* brings the beneficial qualities of sea water to your shower or bath, the liquified version enhancing the skin's moisture retention and toned levels as it detoxes and rejuvenates.

Face care is just as important as body care. Immigrating to your bathroom shelf from Sweden, the Lanolin-Agg-Tval Eggwhite Facial Care Soap* delivers a gentle cleanse with antibacterial and moisturizing properties. Egg whites are notoriously known for their glow-giving and cleansing powers, sans a hint of inching dryness. With a rosy scent and calming formula, normal to dryer skin types will get along with this soap, as well as international lovers--unfortunately, I didn't, though.  On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Yarok Feed Your Roots Mousse*. It's vegan, free of nasties, and cruelty free, as well as being volumizing. Although don't confuse this with drying or sticky mousses; this one adds volume without any residue and a hint of moisture with the help of coconut oil.

Now that I've taunted you with the booty, I'll tell you where to find them: New London Pharmacy. Stocking beauty gems is an integral part of their mantra, and t's the only place I've seen any of these brands in shop and the only place I've even seen some of these products. The best part, though? Unlike mining gems, there is no manual labor required--you'll just need a full wallet.

All products are provided courtesy of New London Pharmacy, but my opinions are my own and not swayed in any way on account of this factor; I also had say in the products provided. Read my full disclaimer here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Bronzing and Contouring

English rose? Snow white? Pale? Whatever you call it, let's not soften the blow and just admit that I'm pasty. Obviously, I don't care enough to change it. Summer ballet programs mandate that I didn't even throw on a bathing suit once last summer. And that bottle of Jergens Natural Glow sitting in my bathroom cupboard? I'm not going to go down disaster road again, like I did last year. As a pale chick, bronzing and contouring is hard. Unfortunately, most shades are made for the more medium-toned among the population. Most of all, though, I think people need to learn how to embrace their natural skin tones. But we all want a little sculpting and glow here and there. And that's why I bronze and contour; it's not because I want to look orange.

Both bronzers and contour powders work for sculpting, but they both have specialized boosts. For an all over glow, the Clarins Instant Smooth Self Tanning is what I slap on. It's a primer that happens to smooth skin to baby-esque perfection and, although it looks awfully Oompa Loompa-y in the pot, it's sheer formula offers more glow than tan development. Over the course of the day, though, a slight, natural looking tan will develop, but still don't catch the orange-toned fear; you'll just look like you spent a few hours in the sun--with out the ramifications of that devil's talent. In a more concentrated form, the NARS Laguna Bronzer offers up bronzing with a hint of glow in the form of shimmer. (Trust me when I say it's not glittery in the slightest.) Using a fluffy brush to blend and mosh the pigment under the cheek bones, as well as on top, on the temples, nose bridge, and on the neck imparts a both intentions. Although, it looks so natural that you will probably be the only one who knows you're wearing bronzer.

A step down from bronzing is the contouring route. The ultimate, chiseling product is the Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder: a majorly grey-toned powder that also peeks a bit of brown, with no orange or red in sight, to seriously perform like plastic surgery--or a model-quality evolution. I use the MAC 129 brush, a small, rounded, fluffy set of bristles, to inch this in the hollows of my cheeks, making sure not to go past the apples of my cheeks, but also on my temples, and under my chin. But, if you want a slight dose of both glow and sculpt (like me), because one is never enough, the RMS Buriti Bronzer* is your product. With the typical coconut oil laden formula of other RMS products, a healthy glow is part of the package. A slightly plum, yet brown undertone, sans orange, makes it perfect for either job. With my finger, I pat a bit of this under my cheekbones, as well as on top, and basically...everywhere, then blend in with the Real Techniques Stippling Brush for the complete package.

Although my research is largely geared towards the pale skinned control group, bronzing and contouring can suit all complexions. Here's the new rule: fake it until you make it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nail Care Necessities

As is the trend with most things, I'm lazy. Sadly, it makes me perhaps the most un-cliched beauty blogger ever. Now, I'm all for diversity, but, unfortunately, I take it to another level--and it's up for you to decide whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. Above all, I can't apprehend from revealing that I rarely wear nail polish. But don't be mistaken: I still have over twenty bottles--thank you, Ciaté Mini Mani Month. Nevertheless, nail care over color is my mantra. I'm too much of a perfectionist to let my ragged tips and nail beds let loose. So, in the essence of keeping things polished and absolutely as no-nonsense as possible, here are the nail care necessities.

The basics of nail care always start with nail clippers and a nail file; even my brother and dad use them. I'm never finnicky about clippers, but files are another story. Ever since I was an adolescent, I've always hated nail files, the sawing motions and sound sending chills up my spine. Luckily, I've surpassed the fear...slightly, and use motions in one direction to smooth out any sharp points. The Butter London Nail File is also fantastic in being sturdy and not too cringe worthy--and, funny story, I stole one of these thinking they were free; it turns out they aren't. When cuticle troubles induce, unfortunately, I have another complex in which I feel the need to pick at them, sometimes even making them bleed. But the key to ridding of them all together is hydration. For overall hand health, I slap on the Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream: a light formula that smells slightly sweet and sour, and sinks in quickly to make it the perfect day option. During the winter, though, my hands need some serious, heavy-duty moisture. The Burt's Bees Hand Salve is a mix of shea butter, olive oil, and plant extracts for a concoction that seals in moisture and sends flakiness on its way.

But, sometimes, that's not enough moisture; it's crazy, je sais. For exclusive cuticle hydration, I massage the Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream into my nail beds and any signs those sprouting or even those that are obviously evident are gone. This is even my second pot, and it's a true miracle worker. Another cuticle option that may be a less exclusive offering is Homeoplasmine*. It's obviously French and a makeup artist, cult favorite, so it must be amazing; it turns out, it succeeds in the title. Cuticles, hands, even lips, toes, and cuts, this tube will satisfy all your needs. And, when it's time to clip away the cuticle corpses, cuticle trimmers are the only civilized manner to do so (this is no finger nail picking territory). But, sometimes, I go wild and choose to paint my nails, because an occasional paint job aligns with my nail polish philosophy. But in an effort to save time, I forget base coat, go straight in with color, and seal the shade in with the Seche Vite Top Coat. This may come with a warnings list the length of my arm, but I don't care--it's darn awesome. I certainly don't have time to wait yonks for my hands to dry.

But let's not get too radical, as most of the time, I stick to the bear bare necessities; now, I need to stop alluding to The Jungle Book.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Three Minute Makeup

I'm normally prompt. But I said "normally," not always. Most of these exceptions come in the mornings. I guess I love everything about the sunrise period: a fresh Bloglovin' feed, breakfast, lounging in bed with coffee in hand, and slapping on my makeup. Although, in an effort to shave off time and get out the door more quickly, I've experimented with makeup. As the five minute version of the daily slap floats around, I was all for a try. But I like to be different--I am the only ballet dancer in my school class of one hundred and twenty--and I'm delivering the three minute makeup. I'll admit that I've practiced, and it also helps if you lay your products out before hand rather than rummaging around in your makeup stocks. And, in the essence of time: ready, set, go.

To start, I rub the Dr. Jart Waterfuse BB Cream all over my face. With a self-adjusting shade that camouflages redness, more than anything, and, massaged with fingers, imparts an ever-so-glowy, natural finish, it earns an "A+" in making my complexion more perfect and the thin, slightly moussy, but not silicon-y texture blends really easily to save time, too. Since I'm human, I use the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla, blended with the Real Techniques Buffing Brush, on any spots and other areas of redness or imperfections. If you've tried this concealer, you know how amazing it is. Then, I quickly brush a hint of the By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder over my forehead and chin because I've been a little spotty this week, and this finely milled, powder of gold--referring to the price...eeek--smooths over the skin and hinders and tell tale signs of "I'm breaking out." Moving onto color, I quickly run a bit of NARS Laguna Bronzer under my cheekbones and on my temples, nose, and neck with an über fluffy brush to look healthier and dab a bit of the NARS Blush in Douceur on my apples and up to my temples; the shade adds a bit more sculpt and a hint of pink-tinged glow, which is rather ironic considering it's a matte formula--it's magical. And, then, as always, the rest of my makeup is super simple. I brush through my eyebrows with a spoolie, and that's it. Then, I curl my eyelashes with the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curlers and apply the L'Orèal Telescopic Shocking Extensions Waterproof Mascara, wiggling up from my roots to tips and focusing the pigment on my outer lashes (it's the most flattering for elongated eye shapes).

Three minutes, and makeup is done. Although, there is a slight problem: I've performed this makeup everyday this week and have been later than normal. Perhaps it's reverse psychology and I'm, in turn, spending too much time on my computer to compromise. Oh shoot, I'm supposed to be leaving now (note: I'm still in my pajamas and haven't done anything to my complexion--even cleanser). One minute makeup?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Starting Out With Skincare

It's quite evident how the media and general public define "beauty. Perfect skin is one of these characteristics. As much as I try to defy these ideals, they continue to loom over heads, and sometimes send us out the door looking like a lion; when will I learn that my hair will never be voluminous. But, luckily, achieving a nice complexion is manageable. And, as it turns out, every person now has a skincare routine, in search of the Holy Grail--a smooth, baby-like complexion. Two years ago, I was one of those people. But there are many things I wish people had told me when I started out with skincare.

Before I turn to numbering the constituents, I wanted to hand over a few tips. First, keep it simple and consistent. If you chock and change your products around everyday, your skin is going to go mad; miracles don't happen overnight. And sticking to a minimal routine will not only save you money, but also time as you ache over your horrible skin--I'm guilty. Second, learn the map of your skin. I don't only mean Face Mapping (Rebecca and Suzie both did amazing posts on the topic), but also learn your skin's blueprint. Mine is combination, leaning on the slightly oily side with a touch of dehydration. Truly grabbing the ropes will come as you experiment, but choose your products with intention, not just because someone else says it's "good." And, last, figure out what you're actually putting on your skin. Either learn how to read ingredients list (A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients and No More Dirty Looks are both stellar sources) or take the natural or organic route. Either way, it can be difficult, so I've helped you out with a comprehensive list of staples for creating a skincare stash.

Cleanser: They come in varying textures. Stereotypically, dryer skins go for balms and milks, while oilier complexions opt for gels, while both work well with oils. Either way, make sure you invest in a gentle cleanser--even if your skin is an acneic mess, as using a harsh product will only make it worse. Always double cleanse, especially if you're wearing makeup; you can use a separate cleanser for this, but you don't have to.
Budget: Herbivore Botanicals Clay Soaps (all skin types), coconut oil (for dry skin or eye makeup removal)
Higher end: Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish (normal to dry), REN ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser (acneic, either oily or dry)

Exfoliator: Exfoliation is key, especially if you're a lover of glow like me. You can achieve this with either a manual exfoliator--normally in the form of beads or grains--or chemical, using acids (if you choose this method, select which acid---AHA's or BHA's--work best for your skin type with a little research). Of course, there also also combination of both. Depending on your skin, determine how often you should exfoliate. Twice weekly is a good place to start, and then you can increase or decrease from there.
Suggestions: Aveda Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant, Joanna Vargas Exfoliating Mask, REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, Clarins Gentle Exfoliating Brightening Toner, Alpha H Liquid Gold (intense), REN Micro Polish Cleanser

Serum and oils: Like shots of high-potency ingredients, serums and oils can target your main skin concern and prep your skin for the rest of your routine. Often, they make your moisturizer more hydrating and your skin better on the whole. Dry and oily skins alike can opt for either, it's just worth a play.
Budget: Aura Cacia Skincare Oils (I've tried the rosehip and it's really good), Indeed Labs Pepta-Bright
High end: Pai Rosehip Bioregenerate Fruit and Seed Oil Blend (like a souped up, über packed version of the Aura Cacia one), Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair (not just for aging complexions)

Moisturizer: For some reason, everyone seems to screw up moisturizer, whether it's my Sahara Desert complexion-ed friend who uses mineral oil or my oily-skinned acquaintance who doesn't even use a drop. No matter what type of skin you have, you must moisturize. You can use separate moisturizers for day and night, or the same one. And stay away from mineral oil unless it's really working for you because it restricts penetration of other ingredients.
Suggestions: Kiehl's Skin Rescuer (sensitive, dehydrated, normal, combination, or dry), Origins Vitazing (normal to oily), The Organic Pharmacy Manuka Face Cream (oily and acne prone), Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins (made in an oil-free and regular version)

SPF: Magazine editors gush that sunscreen is the secret to anti-aging. Well, I hope that's the case, because it's far cheaper than any anti-aging cream. Slap some on in the morning after your moisturizer (apprehend from buying a cream with SPF in it; then you can't use the cream day and night and there are plenty of good budget SPFs, but not many good budget moisturizers).
Suggestions: Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock, MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Shield SPF 28

Masks: Masks, like serums or oils, give you an extra boost, but can act in ways the other categories can't. Clay masks are perfect for drying out spots or alleving congestion, as are exfoliating formulas (see the "Exfoliator" category). They can also add another dose of moisture when needed--always a necessity come winter.
Budget: Aztec Clay (was too drying on my skin, but it's worth a try)
Expensive: Aesop Parsley Seed Deep Cleansing Mask, Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask, Origins Clear Improvements Active Charcoal Mask (oily), Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask (normal to dry, dehydrated)
See "Exfoliator" category for scrubbing options.

It's a good thing it's Sunday; I think I know where you'll be the rest of the day.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Everyday Makeup Staples

Based upon the plentiful amount of makeup posts on Parisian To Be, it's no doubt that I'm a makeup floozy, constantly chopping and changing my daily slap from product to product. It may mean that writing monthly favorites posts is slightly difficult--which base do I choose when I put a different one on everyday?--and I still may look the same everyday, but there are is a collection of a fair few that are really kick a%$ products, oomping up my complexion and making me look flawless (okay, that may be a bit of a stretch...) daily.

With a slightly less than perfect complexion, concealer is always a must. I've tried different formulas, in mousse, cream, and liquid forms, "twenty-four hour" formulas, waterproof concoctions, and other varying types. But my favorite that I've ever tried (bold statement coming) is the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. I'm not much a under eye concealer lover, but I imagine that its creamy formula would cover in a non-creasing fashion. Nevertheless, it's stardom shines when it comes to blemishes, not only covering them with an opaque finish, but the mousse-y texture covers the lump (and, more often than not, bulbs) completely and smooths them, as well. Another smoothing product is the NARS Pro Prime Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base, creating the quintessential canvas for pending lid pigment. I featured this in my "Disappointing Products" post, so it's slightly ironic that it appears here. I do continue to think that it's a little overhyped, but it is perfect for keeping the oil on my lids at bay all day long. Right beneath the lids are the eyelashes. After curling, I apply the L'Orèal Telescopic Shocking Extensions Waterproof Mascara--a repurchase after parting from this grey tube. I've missed its extremely lengthening and curl holding power, also providing a tidbit of volume, as well. Nevertheless, I sometimes need a little bit of volume aid, so, I smudge the Rimmel Scandal Eyes Kohl Kajal in Brown right in between my lashes for that "I naturally have Cinderella lashes" look--i.e. barely detectable. It's smooth and comes out without a hitch, also impeding of any panda eye moments and, if needed, smudges well, too.

When it comes to brows, the fact that my pair haven't been sorted by a professional for two years and my hack-handed-ness ways suggest that they always need a little bit of aid. I use the Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil in Dark Brunette to fill in any slightly sparse spots and to extend the edges, then use the spoolie to comb them through, even on days they aren't accompanied by pigment. Last is lip balm; a true necessity, especially since my lips always feel so strange after brushing my teeth. The Kari Gran Tinted Lip Whip in Peppermint is my most recent find. At first, I thought it was lacking in the moisture department, but now that we're nearly into spring, I find it's rather suitable. And the pigment, especially, is gorgeous--a light pink, ever so slightly paler than my natural shade--and the enhanced shine and thick yet thin texture (just don't ask) also makes it amazing.

So, now you know exactly what I'll be slapping on today, tomorrow, and probably the day after. All I have to say is if I go a day without the NARS concealer, send me to therapy, stat.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bumble and bumble

Many females my age look to their moms for skincare advice, makeup know-how, and general tips and tricks. For some, it's the reason they pat serum into their skin rather than rub. Perhaps it's why they started using eyeliner. Well, like many things, my mom is different--thank goodness all our mothers aren't the same. But my blonde predecessor and creator didn't have a solid skincare routine until maybe a year ago when I vehemently urged her to get one (right after she told me she used to sleep in her makeup...eeek). As for makeup, other than some eyeliner and a swipe of mascara, she was done. Somehow, she still managed to look gorgeous, and happens to receive more "you're so pretty" compliments that I, but there is one facet where she has stayed sturdy: haircare. With highlights, cuts, coloring, shampoo bottles, and many mornings of waking up to the roaring of her blow dryer, it's fair to say that she is the most influential when it comes to haircare. And there was always one dominating brand in her drawers: Bumble and bumble.

Luckily, this plentiful array has allowed me to steal some Bb loot for my own joy. But once my allowance started rolling in at a Barbie Doll exceeding rate, I bought some own booty for myself. And, once, my mom even treated me to a cut at one of their salons. With the first one opening in 1977 in NYC, Bumble and bumble began a race with a new philosophy. Exuding creativity to elevate their craft, revering authenticity, and creating editorial-quality products, they soon grabbed the attention of haircare lovers alike. It's the latter statement that truly set them apart, though. Their first product, Brilliantine, was revealed in 1990, designed to be used editorially, a new facet that many products didn't tap. And after that single launch, many others followed--and many now perch in my stash.

Although I don't possess Brilliantine (it's pending on my wishlist...), I have other treasure to enjoy. Their shampoos and conditioners serve a variety of hair types. Specifically, their Sunday Shampoo works wonders for cleaning out a clogged scalp, and the expansion of their Surf line with a shampoo and conditioner duo imparts beachy, texturized, and appealingly gritty hair that's model-worthy. Their famous Surf Spray is a favorite of mine, urging extreme texture and naturally beautiful locks with hold for other styles. They also recently expanded their Thickening line, previously just consisting of the Thickening Hairspray, which is a perfect compliment for blow dryers, and a shampoo and conditioner, with the Thickening Dry Spun Finish*--an aerosol spray the bursts fibers to whip hair into an airy delight. They also cover moisture with offerings of masks and creams, such as the Quenching Complex which always succeeds in making hair look healthy and polished. And, for more texture, their Texture Hair (Un) Dressing Creme works wonders for achieving the stereotypical British do. 

Establishing a new trend in 1977, Bumble and bumble have achieved in forming a new path of haircare, covering all needs and hair types. I wonder how long it will be until my mom's next Bumble order?

Monday, April 14, 2014

NARS Blushes

I don't often repurchase items, nor do I buy loads of the same type. I'll admit that I'm not exactly the most clingy, anyway (except when it comes to almond butter) but beauty is definitely the category I always flint with. Heck, I even named a particular base the best of last year and am currently slapping it on everyday, but I still don't think I'll repurchase; my point exactly. Nevertheless, an exception discreetly snuck into my stash.

This exception is NARS blushes--beautiful, squared pots of pigment housed in nearly silky, black compacts that happen to attract dirt just as much as they attract my love. I have three of them drifting within my possession, but each pigment reveals another facet. Why? Well, in my typical philosophical pensions, I've decided that it's the ridiculously amazing range of colors that NARS boasts in pigments that has me oblivious to my consistent black compact buying habits. Plums, burgundies, even neon pinks that I wouldn't ever dare to dip my own brush into. For a brand who vehemently showcases blue eyeshadow-encrusted models in their ads, I'd say it's rather interesting that I have such a penchant for a brand so makeup-y (as in the antonym of "no makeup, makeup," my mantra). And I prefer my dose in the form of blush.

The oldest blush in my possession is Deep Throat, a neutral and slightly golden toned pure pink with a hint of shimmer. But being "old" has a negative connotation. What if I told my makeup ignorance three years back chose this shade, minus knowledge of hype and NARS blush hysteria? Then it would be a keeper. As a bearer of a naturally pink complexion, though, it's rather ironic that I'm praising a further tomato inducing shade. Nevertheless, the buttery and pigmented formulas make for easy application, especially when accompanied with another magical power of never looking too over the top. Although obscene in name, Deep Throat was the pretty blush for the beginner Lillian, and also the (recently) most worn for a mind about to explode with makeup knowledge. On a warmer front is Luster. It's orange and nearly as warm as blush gets. And, when I first applied it, I just begged that I wouldn't look like an Oompa Loompa; but the shade in the pan shouldn't scare you. I don't get much use out of it in these cold--although slightly exothermic--days, but it looks absolutely stunning in the summer, paired with bronzer, and a slightly bronzed (or, if you're like me, faux bronzed) complexion. And there's also the trademark hit of shimmer--and don't be weaned away; trust me when I say I'm a glitter-phobe. Last is a dusky, pink, slightly brown-tinged, earthy pigment known as Douceur. Some praise it as their contour of choice, but its slightly rosy glow in its matte formula adds grace to your face with an edge and barely-there feel thanks to the sublime grey and brown. Yes, it's sculpting, but it's also perfect for no makeup days where you really want to wear makeup (i.e. me everyday....) and for moments when it's time for another feature to shine, whether it's red packed lips or a burnished lid.

I like to stick to my word, but obviously François Nars has me a changed woman. Their shades are gorgeous, and the easy formulas don't hurt, either. Unfortunately, François may have me hypnotized; blue blush, here I come.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blog Photography

Photography is the vain of my existence. I'm a perfectionist by nature, so if I'm not completely satisfied with a photo, it means that I will retake it. Sounds rather innocent, non? Well, I'd say it's rather compulsive, and retaking a photo six times and still not being satisfied isn't exactly...civilized--if I may say so myself. Nevertheless, in the months that I've run Parisian To Be, I've picked up a few hints and tips on blog photography; but, I think my OCD has only gotten worse.

I don't necessary take my photos in "bulk," per say, but I do take multiple at a time. When I'm planning out my week, I'll make a list of photos I need to take, and take them all on one day. I prefer to take my photos around ten o'clock in the morning, as I've found that this time presents the best balance of both warm and cool light. When it comes to "setting the scene"--as I like to call it--I always prefer a white background; I mean, just look at all my photos. Then, I decide if I want to include junk (notebooks, jewelry, fabric, etc.). Incorporating different items is always nice, as it seems to make for a more complete photo and conveys its own story. I choose items related to a photo, for example, if I'm doing a photo on "makeup for spring," I may include a flower--although flowers look nice in all photos, but you get the jist. This leads me to another point: all photos looking the same. Organically, a blogger develops her/his own style, so, when the reader flips through their Bloglovin' feed, they immediately know which photo is yours, even without seeing who has written it. Nevertheless, all photos looking the exact same--from the same angle, on the same background, laid out in the same pattern, etc--seems to make the visual content a little boring. The photo, after all, is often what leads a person to your post.

Taking the photo
Once you've set up, it's time to take your photo, but you must adjust your settings first. I won't go too in depth about the nitty gritty of your camera, because there are so many tutorials online to help you (and they will help you a lot more than I ever could), but here are the basics:
ISO, aperture, and shutter speed all play a balancing act to control the light in your photo. Your camera has different modes where you can control one aspect and it will set the rest to create an even balance of light. I normally shoot in aperture priority mode, since I only ever shoot beauty products, and I choose a smaller f-stop (the index of numbers pertaining to aperture) if I want to focus on one object and blur the background, or if I want a lot of objects in focus, I choose a higher f-stop, but you won't let in as much light this way. Similarly, if you're taking a photo of a moving object, then increase your shutter speed (the number is represented in photos per second), and your object will appear sharp, even though it's moving. If you still need to let more light into your photo, bump your ISO up to increase your camera's sensitivity to light. I try not to go higher than 800 ISO unless I really have to, because this loss in quality makes the photo more "grainy."
Once you've organized and set your buttons, it's time to finally take your photo. Move the camera around--obviously not while you press the shutter button, of course--to catch the frame at all different angles. I normally take around fifteen to twenty photos per post, so I can choose the best of the best.

Oh, editing--the second vain of my existence. I used to have this ever-so complex system of editing, but I don't even want to remember those days. If I want to edit on my iPad, I use the Snapseed app, but to upload photos from a SD card to your tablet, you have to buy this lightening (c'mon, Apple). Normally, though, I edit using Photoshop. It's a complex program, and I've only nipped the iceberg on it, but it's worth learning. After selecting my favorite two, three, or four photos, I upload them to the shop, adjust the brightness, adjust the curves, then occasionally mess with the vibrance, color balance, or add a filter if needed. Then, I choose my favorite one and save. Sometimes, though, if I can't decide between two, I'll upload them both to a post and "Preview," and choose my favorite from there; you'd be amazed at that power. I save my photos using dashes in between words (ex. my-photo.jpg) because it makes it easier for search engines to recognize that your photo matches the search terms. Once you've uploaded, you're done.

P.S. If you use Blogger as your blog host, change your Google + settings to turn off "auto-enhance images;" it caused my photos to look much darker than they actually were.

The ancient Chinese secret to blog photography has been revealed. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Organic Pharmacy Manuka Face Cream

Skincare, as it exists, is already annoying. Actually, let me rephrase that: my skin, itself, is very annoying. It's a true puzzle, in which the pieces are consistently changing, and, chances are, one piece that once fit no longer does. In practicality, my skin is a combination, dehydrated, acne prone, easily scarred racket. To cure the mess, I somehow sorted that slapping on thick creams to cure my moisture-seeking dermis was the best bet, but I'll admit that it didn't do much to normalize my combination skin. In fact, I ignorantly thought that my skin was rather "normal," until I found this moisturizer.

The Organic Pharmacy Manuka Face Cream is a "balancing light moisturizer," formulated for "blemished and congested skin," but also calming, antiseptic, normalizing, and flake reducing. Within the first sentence of the packaging, this cream was already out of my comfort zone. But the lovely Abby Fazio insisted that I give it a try. So, I did, slowly pushing its seventy-six dollar price tag over to the cashier. And when I was within two steps of a sink, I washed my faee, then slapped this on. Although, this isn't the jar you shove your fingers in to dish out the product. What do you think the tiny, white spatula is for? And this was the first plus; all potted moisturizers should come with these germ saviors. Perhaps the most surprising effect, though, was when I woke up the following morning, spots diminished (if not gone) and chin congestion subsided. The drawback, though, was that my face felt rather tight--a desperate cry for moisture, perhaps. My cheeks were a little redder, as well (in their true Rudolph fashion), but, I went through the day and realized that I was willing to make those sacrifices, for an excess oil-free day had officially been inaugurated.

With aloe, honey, marigold, rosehip, tea tree, jojoba, and, notably, manuka (the antiseptic), this moisturizer is a true wonder for oily, combination, or acne prone skin. But I still haven't released the true profundity that this moisturizer holds. I was wrong. I failed in my skin assessment, piling on those thick creams--sometimes even balms--to aid my complexion in its journey to a better place. In reality, I don't think I even came to this assessment until last week (a good fourteen days after the first application of this moisturizer) when I slapped on hydrating masks to send my skin to a less awkward-feeling state--to subside the redness and tightness. What happened? Spots, spots, and more spots, and these were the painful, under the skin ones, too; it hurt to even move my mouth. Nonetheless, I slapped myself in the face and used just this moisturizer and a cleanser to mend my complexion once more. And, within eight hours, my spots had diminished again, and, this time, there was, luckily, no Rudolph side effect and it hasn't risen since, either.

I hate being wrong, but sometimes it's essential on the road to better skin. I'd rather have the latter, anyway. And especially because I think I've found my new holy grail moisturizer; you don't hear that phrase coming from me, often.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Noteworthy Natural Beauty Brands

In my opinion, natural beauty has a bad reputation. Hippies? Yogis? Kale munchers? Eh, you're not too far off; I'm one of them, at least, satisfying every stereotype above. But, there's so much more. In fact, I even have my mom--in her rhinestone loving, Jo Malone obsessing, and pedicure addiction ways--slightly hooked to products that have a guilt-free conscience. If you're a newbie or expertise on the subject, here are some natural beauty brands to note. They're guilt-free like ninety percent cacao, goji berry pumped chocolate, I tell you.

Australian at heart, this plant-based and laboratory-made, ingredient chocked brand isn't organic, or boastful of other nano-free claims. Nonetheless, who cares? It's obvious that simplicity of nature is at it's heart; just look at one of their ingredients lists. Notably, Aesop expands from the cosmetic level of other skincare brands: "we advocate the use of our formulations as part of a balanced life that includes a healthy diet, sensible exercise, a moderate intake of red wine, and a regular dose of stimulating literature." Now, that's what I like to hear.
Try the Aesop Parsley Seed Deep Cleansing Mask

Based in New Zealand, Antipodes ticks all the right boxes: certified organic, a light carbon foot print, and eighty percent of their products are sourced from New Zealand, with effective products in nutrient-sustaining packaging. It's also a plus that their formulations smell stunning, chock-full of extra boosts for your complexion and nasal cavities.
Try the Aura Manuka Honey Mask

Burt's Bees
I like to think of Burt's Bees as the brand that got this whole "natural beauty" ball rolling. Now stocked in grocery stores and drugstores alike, it's more than widely accessible. Although their products may not be organic, it's clearly stated slap bang on the casing how "natural" the content inside really is. If that still doesn't do it for you, take a look at their ingredients list; it's minimalism in tubes and tubs.
Try the Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream

Herbivore Botanicals
Mineral and plant based Etsy shop Herbivore Botanicals was my first foray into natural skincare. And I'll be honest in that it was their gorgeous packaging that, with first sight, had me smitten. All their products are hand-crafted in Seattle, Washington by owners Julia and Alex, themselves. On a more profound depth, their potions are natural, organic, and vegan and their oil-based (although not oily in the slightest) soaps are made using the cold-press method, sustaining all the completely untouched oil has to load my skin with.
Try the Blue Clay Soap

Joanna Vargas Skincare
New York City facialist Joanna Vargas--not to mention alumni of University of Chicago--mended her way into the beauty industry, working with day spas and company Jurlique. In a mission, she launched her own spa and now has her own skincare line which caters to her partiality to natural and organic ingredients.
Try the Exfoliating Mask

John Masters Organics
I like to consider John Masters Organics the "NARS" of the natural world, eclectic, well-known, and stunning in its own foray. As the name suggests, this organic brand boasts a conscience apparent on the outside, but also impressive on the inside; all their ingredients are either cold-pressed, steam distilled, or wild-harvested. It's even more impressive that their products are amazing, too.
Try the Sea Mist

Josie Maran
Perhaps you didn't quite think of Josie Maran as a natural brand, posing with the ethos and aesthetics of a model (like Josie Maran herself, per say) aside your conventional wonders; it does line the walls of Sephora, after all. Nevertheless, often utilizing plant extracts and crafted with an identic base of argan oil (pressed by women's co-ops in Morocco), Maran's potions also rock a near clean ingredients list, with constituents shamelessly notated as "natural" or "organic."
Try the 100% Pure Argan Oil (the classic...duh)

MyChelle Dermaceuticals
For skincare newbies, or even natural beauty newbies, MyChelle Dermaceuticals is the shelf to look towards. The best part is that the white and soft color clad tubes and pots may line the shelves of your local Whole Foods, but they're also easily found online and don't break the bank. With products organized by skin type, it's as easy is "1, 2, 3" to craft your skincare routine from scratch.
Try the Sun Shield SPF 28

Recently, Pai has become the talk of the beauty blogosphere, bringing in effectivity and remarkable principles. Creator Sarah Brown missioned her brand with sensitive skin in mind, but that doesn't mean her line's constituents lack a punch. With its own lab and manufacturing facility, there's also minimal chance of inadvertent additives and political drama...because you have to worry about these things when it comes to skincare.
Try the Rosehip Bioregenerate Fruit and Seed Oil Blend

REN Clean Skincare
I'll keep this one simple, considering I've talked on and on about REN's products for as long as I can remember. "Clean" is the most fitting adjective, really, to describe this brand, free of....the list is too long to notate. Nevertheless, their products are truly stunning, really wacking my complexion back into shape when I've had separation from these clear, minimalist bottles.
Try the ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser

RMS Beauty
Like REN, RMS can past the "free of" test and stump the inquisitor. Free of mineral oils? Oui. Free of nanos (whatever those are)? Yes, and their stunning pigments blend to skin seamlessly with the help of coconut oil and rosemary extract. Following the motto, "created by nature, untainted by man," RMS withholds these principles with raw and organic formulas. You could eat them if you wanted.
Try the Living Luminizer

The Organic Pharmacy
Created by a homeopathic pharmacist, British brand, The Organic Pharmacy, mixes cosmetic level problem solving with a philosophy of "from the inside, out" beauty. Her range of creams, cleansers, and serums, along with supplements and powders truly embodies the doctrine, and I like someone who sticks to their word.
Try the Manuka Face Cream

Now, it's time to grab a pad of paper and note away. And, FYI: using these products will not turn you into a kale-massaging freak like me.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The (Quinoa) Breakfast of Champions

I'm lucky that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, because it's also the most important. I've always been a breakfast eater, scarfing down pancakes, toast, granola, and coffee--lots and lots of coffee. But breakfast can also be the hardest meal to juggle. What do you do if you wake up late? Even if you rise at the first chime of your alarm, no one wants to stand in front of a stove to concoct a full English breakfast. And some people can't even stomach anything when the sun rises (just force yourself, I tell you). As I've mentioned before, I regularly see a nutritionist to sort out the little brain game I have going on in my head, and this is the breakfast that we've concocted together: Breakfast Quinoa. In the nitty gritty, it's a ticking balance of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and fruit to create a real kick ass meal that will keep you going. But beyond that, it's also been the breakfast that I chow down each morning--since September; it's that delicious. It's easy to change around the flavors to whatever scorching mood you may need, and it's also simple to prepare. In lazy Sunday, habitual action, I brew a big pot of quinoa on the weekends, then add the following to make it into a masterpiece.

Breakfast Quinoa

1 cup of cooked quinoa
1 cup of soy milk
1 teaspoon of coconut sugar
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
A dash of cinnamon
A dash of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of coconut oil
1 cup of fruit (I prefer banana or apple)
1 tablespoon of nut butter
Toppings of your liking

Combine the quinoa and milk in a bowl. Then, add the coconut sugar, chia seeds, cinnamon, and nutmeg and blend. Add the coconut oil. Microwave the mixture for 50 seconds in the microwave on the high power setting.

Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir. Add the fruit. (If you would like your fruit to be heated, microwave after its addition for a consecutive 40 seconds; I recommend doing this with harder fruits such as apple.) Affix the nut butter (almond, maple almond, and coconut peanut all earn top scores from me), then, add your preferred toppings: raisins, flaked coconut, macadamia nuts, walnuts, a drizzle of maple syrup, etc.

Bon appétit with a large mug of coffee and a side of your Bloglovin' feed.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Beauty Empties | Cinq

Normally, when beauty products come to an end, I release a slight squeal of joy. But, just look at the amount of product martyrs. It's a lot, and most of them are products that I can't quite live without. (Toothpaste? Without it, I'd have rising dental bills, far superior to the expense of one tube.) It seems as though I'll have to crack out my wallet and restock. And Phyto, Oribe, Burt's Bees, and friends, rest in peace

In the haircare department, my calming acquaintance, the Phyto Cream Shampoo* is no longer salvageable. That being said, this is the moment I realize what a pain aluminum packaging is; I nearly slash my hands each time I squeeze out the last drop. Although calming, this shampoo proves to be a little too pricey for my everyday habit and, despite mending my itchy scalp, doesn't seem to add much in the volume department--my pending craving. Nevertheless, to mend the volume, I rely on some styling saviors. The Bumble and bumble Thickening Dry Spun Finish* spurts fibers to, as the name promises, spin styles into a high volume air. Well, it does just that, but my one apprehension is that the height falls after an hour, max. So, then, I turned to my beloved category: sea salt sprays. Surprisingly, though, the Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray doesn't contain even the slightest hint of a salt variation (thank you, AP Chemistry, for helping me read product labels). Albeit, a hefty dose of shine, beach-esque texture, and volume made spritzes of this a near daily occurrence. The scent, like all Oribe products, is gorgeous, but it's pleasurable to my nose for a reason--the price. I think I'll venture into more salty territory, next time, but for a chick keen on more volume and shine than grit, and a few extra tens pennies to dish, this is your can.

Without humidity, the cold and dry winter air has taken a toll on my skin. Thus, I've made my way through three tubes of body lotion. The Desert Essence Sweet Almond Hand and Body Lotion is a light concoction that hydrates the skin without the slightest residue or stickiness. Although, hydrating, it wasn't quite as nourishing as I would have wished, especially in the depths of winter. But there is one hydrator that should be coined magic: the Malin + Goetz Mojito Lip Balm. This clear gel hydrates and leaves lips balanced and nourished. And the scent is also a plus; not that I've ever drunk a mojito.... Two travel body moisturizers have also been tossed into my garbage can. Both the Burt's Bees Milk and Honey Body Lotion and the Love & Toast Body Lotion in Clementine Crush are nice and nourishing, and perform like your stereotypical body hydrator; that's all I'm craving.

Concerning my visage, I've used up the Perricone MD Face Finishing Moisturizer. This little pot contained a certain goodness that was lightweight, hydrating, glow inducing, and surprisingly spot reducing, though a little too hydrating for my combination complexion. Attention, moisturizer searchers, try this one out. When it comes to teeth, I'm not nearly as fussy as I am about my skincare. But, after switching to a natural toothpaste, I can't help but admit that it was the cause of my "A" plus (plus, plus) dental checkup; it's not like I changed anything else. I was using the Jason Power Smile Toothpaste, and I'm now currently using one of their gel and fluoride pumped variety, and the results are still fab.

That is my recent trash can, emptied. Now, I think I need a chocolate bar; a cocoa coma is the only way I'll be able to restock and empty my wallet.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Another New London Pharmacy Visit | Deux

I'm not one for repeats. But, New London Pharmacy is an exception. Abby Fazio, the president of New London Pharmacy, gave me a tour of the beauty mecca and a personal skincare consultation; and I learned enough to exhibit my own renaissance. New London Pharmacy is based on the theme of your typical European pharmacy. With a makeup artist, fragrance expert, skincare consultant, nutritionist, and pharmacist always on staff, you no longer have to venture into any other city block. Read part one of the journey here.

Abby and I (along with my mom, although I was so stunned I forgot she was staggering behind) continued around the shop and moved to haircare. Like Tiffany windows, before me glowed golden cans of L'Orèal Elnett Hairspray--but this isn't the same stuff from Walgreens. Abby ships these bottles from Europe because the FDA banned an ingredient in the aerosol cans which hairstylists adore; and it's why they flock to New London to stock up. Below the sparkling cans was a neat helping of John Masters Organics haircare (their skincare lineup appeared on "the skincare wall"), including the genre for pets. On the next aisle was another haircare dollop, consisting of Yarok, Aveda, and, notably, Rahua. Abby is a fan because the brand "gives back to the rainforest...and when we can give back, we should." Then, we talked body care. Abby admired J&E Atkinsons I Coloniali body care, opening a subdued orange tub of moisturizer that "nourishes as it exfoliates" and, after a sniff, described the scent as "unmatched." Then, there was Foucaud--a brand started by a Frenchman who shipped his products to soldiers during the World War to clean themselves. And, then, there was Kneipp, homeopathic remedies in bath products to cure a cold, relax muscles, or rattle away the cobwebs with a reviving aroma come morning. The brand description was comparable to that of Aromatherapy Associates: the British brand that Abby uses to convince people to take baths--a necessary ritual, in her terms.

Then came the skin consultation. Abby directed my mom back to Sepai for her aging complexion while I listened intently. But, then, it was my turn. After expressing my need for a new moisturizer, I drew her attention to the bumps on my chin--not red like spots, but just raised flesh. "Exfoliation," she muttered. But I further explained my daily use of "exfoliating toners," currently the Derma E Glycolic liquid. "Then it's not doing anything," she continued, revealing a reflection that had never crossed my mind. So she directed me to the Joanna Vargas Exfoliating Mask--a manual and enzyme exfoliator hybrid that I should use twice weekly to aid my complexion. Then, onto my moisturizer needs; with a glance, Abby read my skin from top sight to deep dermis: combination and acne prone. Following her goddess-like lead, she offered two pots. The first was another potion from Joanna Vargas, but I was keen on trying a pot from The Organic Pharmacy; and that's where the next option came from. The Organic Pharmacy Manuka Face Cream was carefully placed in my New London shopping bag.

After checkout, Abby and I said our goodbyes. It was a sad but inevitable event. As I stood on the Subway on our way back to the hotel, I ran my mom's ear off about how excited I was, stating that I "[couldn't] wait to wash my face." Now, forget buying beauty products--I'm saving for a plane ticket back to NYC.

Thank you, Abby, for showing me around New London Pharmacy. It will be an event I will never forget.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Another New London Pharmacy Visit | Un

I'm not one for repeats. I've never read a book twice, rarely visit a restaurant more than once (besides those in my hometown--but only because my brother dictates so), and only rent movies. Why not discover what the rest of the world has to offer? Although, there are two exceptions to the rule: beauty repurchases (but I have strict standards) and New London Pharmacy. I wrote an initial ode here, and I'm doing another post on it? Now, it must be magnifique. I love the place, clad in dreamy, hard-to-find, and cult brands, a cozy atmosphere, and a helpful staff. So helpful, in fact, that I think I've learned more in a two hour period in those aisles than I have in all of AP Chemistry--don't tell my mom. Such an renaissance is thanks to Abby Fazio: the president of New London Pharmacy. When I mentioned that I would be stopping by, she accepting my notion of a meeting and she gave me a run down of the aisles, brands, and a personal skin consultation.

New London Pharmacy exudes an air of your typical European pharmacy. Originating from Greece, Abby knows how things function across the pond. On the continent of chic, people don't just come into pharmacies for Sharpie Pens or their prescription refill. They go for homeopathic remedies, skincare advice, or nutrition help; there is a reason Europeans stereotypically have good skin and US has the highest obesity rate of any country. With a makeup artist, fragrance expert, skincare consultant, nutritionist, and pharmacist always on staff, you no longer have to venture into any other city block.

After the introduction, we headed to makeup, as Abby disclosed that she's selective about the brands she stocks. Before my eyes lied Kevyn Aucoin (he was a "Chelsea boy," after all), Becca (popular among makeup artists), RMS Beauty, and Jane Iredale. The latter two boast a completely natural conscience and Abby always recommends Jane Iredale makeup to acneic complexions, because "skincare isn't the only think aggravating your skin," she suggested. Perhaps the most astonishing array of stocks, though, was skincare. Behind the makeup counter was a whole wall lined with Homeoplasmine, Bioderma, Nuxe, Julisis, The Organic Pharmacy, Embryolisse, Caudalie, Dr. Dennis Gross, and accompaniments. And behind my back was the next stop on the tour and Abby's most recent conquer: Sepai Skincare. "The ingredients are very pharmaceutical," Abby gushed, after previously boasting about how amazing and effective the brand is. She further explained that Sepai has introduced a new key in the realm of skincare, changing the way the cell works not just now, but ten years in the future. Also, Sepai has concocted stunning and customizable formulas; the shopper can create their very own potion with the addition of shots. Purchasing a shot will boost the effectivity of the product to perform how you want it to. 

Next on the skincare journey was a stop on another continent: Asia. Asian skincare is the best for brightening, since they're all about "white skin," said Abby. And she discussed how brand Amarte was no exception. Then, we stopped at Brazil. Brazilians work on beauty from the inside out, Abby said, pointing to stacked boxes of vibrant paper boxes lining the shelves. They were beauty "pills," for nearly any need imaginable, notably the ones concocted for a dose before a day in the sun to aid in tanning. We staggered further, and I was learning a host of information, including that La Roche-Posay's Mela-D Serum is "the best" for dark spots. 

Before things get too lengthy, consider this your New London Pharmacy documentary intermission...until tomorrow when the second half premieres, corroborating as the tour proceeds to haircare, body care, and my skincare overhaul.
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