Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Foundations I'm trying to use up and the would-I-repurchase test

Even when I've find a foundation that I like, I'll keep on trying out others. And as I'm incapable of waiting to buy until I've finished what I'm currently using, I end up with - dare I say it - too many. The good thing about this is that I can compare products side by side.

My favourite foundations are MAC's Studio Sculpt in NC25-30, mineralize compact in NC30 and Face and Body in C4. But they are the darker end of the spectrum for me. So in the winter months I have been using (and trying to get rid of!) the 'older' products that also happen to be lighter in colour. These are:

1. Laura Mercier's oil-free tinted moisturizer in Nude

When I first got this, I was really impressed that my t-zone didn't shine as much or as quickly. I was using her powder to set it, which I don't anymore, and I'm using a different moisturizer under the foundation so the effect isn't quite as wow now. I don't find the coverage to be too low or sheer; I think the name 'tinted moisturizer' is misleading.

Would I repurchase? Yes, in another colour, perhaps. But I still have a back-up that I got when I was really into Laura Mercier...

2. Bobbi Brown's Moisture Rich foundation in Beige 

I like that it comes with a pump but I don't like the way the cap gets dirty. That's a minor complaint that has nothing to do with the product itself, which is fine. I use so little - half a squirt - that I get quite sheer coverage (similar to Laura M's tinted moisturiser). The glass bottle is fine for using at home but obviously not for travelling.

Would I repurchase? No.

3. Bobbi Brown's Luminous foundation in Warm Sand 

I was given this (tester) and this is too light for me so I'm not using it at all (I thought I'd mention it, though). There's also the risk of pouring out too much product. But the coverage is better, if that's what you're looking for, and more moisturising, with anti-ageing properties. I do like the creamy formulation and overall finish.

Would I (re)purchase? In theory, yes, but probably never will.

4. Shu Uemura's Face Architect in 764 

Another glass bottle. It comes with a pump (good) and the cap is much bigger and doesn't fit so snugly onto the pump so it stays clean - not a smudge of old, crusty foundation anywhere. Nice creamy formulation with good coverage.

Would I repurchase? Yes. And I would prefer to get this than Bobbi's Luminous but in a different shade (sometimes I think it looks too rosy).

Swatches of the above four foundations.

Laura Mercier, BB Moisture Rich, BB Luminous, Shu Uemura

5. Foundation sticks from Bobbi Brown (beige, warm beige) and Chantecaille (Camomile) 

I just don't like foundation sticks. I never re-apply foundation during the day (especially when I'm out) so I don't need it in solid form. Some people might find them useful for applying around the nose when you have a cold and need to blow your nose all the time. Anyway, looking at the swatch of Warm Beige, I think it's too pink. Camomile is too light for me. I should put this together with my concealers so I'll remember to use it.

In the swatch photo - look how they emphasise my pores! Ugh.

Would I repurchase? Never.

Foundation sticks in Beige, Warm Beige, Camomile

6. Bobbi Brown's Smooth Skin fondation in Beige 
Another tester that I was given. I've never used it. I used to hear such negative reviews about this product that I'm quite honestly scared to use it. I know that it doesn't sell well, either, so I'm not surprised it's being discontinued - isn't it? It says 'last chance' on their website.

Would I (re)purchase? Never.

I completely forgot to swatch this foundation when I was doing the others - it goes to show how unloved this is by me - so on its own:

When I look at all of these swatches, they colours look so different that I'm rather horrified - how could I never have gotten strange remarks?!

Do you try and finish products, even if they are no longer right? 

Monday, March 29, 2010

My yoga ritual

Yoga is something I want to enjoy and look forward to doing.... with a little help from these friends.

1. Brew some tea. 
It's always good to drink and I never drink enough. So I make a pot of Aveda's comforting tea.

If you make it right, it can taste really sweet, even though there's no sugar in it. It's still a matter of trial and error for me but it has to do with using the right amount of tea leaves - the more the sweeter. But it's quite an expensive tea so you don't want to use too much. Trying to get the right balance is not easy. Also, infuse for longer and it becomes sweeter.

2. Keep a scented room spray within reach.
I have another product from Aveda.

There are different scented sprays for each of the chakras. I only liked the smell of chakra 2.

There's so much breathing through the nose in Kundalini yoga that it's nice to spray it in the room. I do find that I have to re-spray it every now and then because the scent is quite light and doesn't linger.

3. Have a blanket ready.
I love the fleece blankets from Ikea. Even if you only do the short warm-up sequence, you should relax afterwards - lie on your back in Corpse Pose with eyes closed. My body cools down so I stay warm with a blanket.

4. Music.
Only if I'm not doing a full session (one whole DVD), I like to have my yoga music playlist ready for the relaxation part. It really helps me relax, unwind and not get bored. As Maya Fiennes says in her book, "(relaxation) is when the body processes the information it has received, rests and absorbs the changes and the healing."

All we have to do is make time... maybe that should be number one on this list.

Got it: Chanel Rouge Coco in Mademoiselle

I had the impression that #5 in Mademoiselle was one of the, if not the most popular colour from the new Chanel Rouge Coco lipstick line. Vanessa Paradis does such a convincing job of selling the je ne sais quoi with this that even I had to get my hands on it.

Generally, I'm more into playing up the eyes and going lighter on the lips, so I was worried that Mademoiselle might be too strong a colour. It can be, if you apply several layers - see the swatch on the right - which can be handy for day-to-night transitions. But just one quick swipe or smacking the lips together when applied to the upper lip will give you a healthy-looking stain.

As with any lipstick, you can change the colour and effect with lip gloss. Out of curiosity, I swatched Mademoiselle first on its own (very left), then applied four different MAC lip glosses.

L to R: Chanel #5 Mademoiselle, MAC Lustreglass Love Nectar, Cremesheen Glass Partial to Pink, Dazzleglass Goldyrocks, Dazzleglass Moth to Flame 

I like it best with Love Nectar, which isn't a surprise because it's my favourite gloss. It gives it some shine and deepens the colour a bit but otherwise stays relatively true to the lipstick colour. Partial to Pink is a pink gloss so unsurprisingly it takes Mademoiselle into a girlier category. The last two are just extremely glittery and don't appeal to me. In fact, I don't like the Dazzleglasses anymore, they are too shiny and way too sticky.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wishlist: Dior summer collection 2010

It has been over 10 years since I last bought a Dior eyeshadow. Can you believe it? I still remember, it was a palette of five green eyeshadows. I had only just started dabbling in make-up and the interest was absolutely there but the know-how was absolutely not. I'm sure I looked like a clown, trying to put all five colours on my eyelids (but where...?), and I think that put me off Dior make-up (unfair, yes).

Now that I'm older and wiser, I am ready to face Dior again. An eyeshadow palette from their summer collection has caught my eye.

Crush glow eyeshadow palette. But 649 or 659? I can't make up my mind but I have a slight preference for 649 (with the dark eyeshadow in the middle).

See pictures here:

What do you think?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yawners in yoga class

I have been going to a Kundalini yoga class. I wouldn't say that these classes are much better than Maya Fiennes' DVDs - not at all. In fact, I think I prefer doing yoga by myself.

One of the reasons why I prefer to do it at home is because there is usually someone in the class who is annoying. Often it is a loud breather. Yes, the breathing is an integral part of yoga, but some people exaggerate so much that you can't even hear your own breathing. How is anyone else supposed to be able to concentrate on their own breathing (and go at their own pace) when there is someone practically snoring in the same room?

Luckily, the loud breather stopped attending this class after the first session.

But the yawner is still there.

I can understand why anyone would yawn. Some of the exercises are so relaxing that you just want to fall asleep. But there is an acceptable way of yawning - quietly - and an unacceptable way.

She yawns in every class. And she does it so loudly that I can hear her when she's sitting two rows behind me. It is incredibly irritating!

Please, if you are one of these people, be considerate and tone it down.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quote: The best mummy

My son's going through a lovely phase of telling us parents how great we are.

"You're the best mummy in the world. I love you so much."
"You're the best daddy in the world. I love you so much."

I am trying to soak up the compliments as much as I can.

It's pure happiness but sometimes I'm also haunted by guilt and sadness because I think I could be so much better. Do we put too much pressure on ourselves?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

There's nothing like sunshine to make us happy

It's finally spring, it's finally warm. I've put away my winter boots and taken out my strappy sandals in eager anticipation.

I'm sitting outside and soaking up the sun. There is really no better cure for the winter blues!

Finally finished: Bobbi Brown corrector

This is Bobbi Brown's corrector in Light Peach that I have finally finished. Hooray - because this happens so rarely :-) I got it two years ago and I've been using it on and off (I have several other concealers).

Do I like it? Well, I bought this to use under concealer but ended up using it alone. It's ok but I found that it wore off after a few hours so the shadows under my eyes were visible again, even when fixed with powder.

Would I repurchase? Probably not. At least not in the near future. I'm too keen to try other products - I'm eyeing Laura Mercier's camouflage.

I like the packaging, though, so I've put Chanel Rouge Allure lipstick samples in there.

Mythic, Adorable, Orientale, Fatale

Do you recycle nice containers, too? 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chanel Rouge Allure lipstick in #7 Genius

Chanel recently launched a new line of lipsticks: the Rouge Coco. This is why I'm reviewing a lipstick from their Rouge Allure line. Hm, that doesn't make sense, does it?

Ok, so all the publicity got me wondering about their lipsticks again. I own several Chanel lipsticks already so I pulled out the most wearable nude (for some reason, all of the others are shades of red). It's a Hydrabase, which is being replaced by the new Rouge Coco line.

I looked at the swatches of the newly launched lipsticks and made a mental note of Mademoiselle, which is what Vanessa Paradis is wearing in the ad. When I finally decided to buy it, it was sold out in two stores that I went to. Looks like I wasn't the only one fooled by the marketing.

But I couldn't simply walk away empty-handed. Whilst contemplating which colour to get, the packaging of the Rouge Allure lipsticks caught my eye. Yes, the packaging. It looks like this.

Here is how to open the lipstick. You have to push one end and then it pops out.

I got Rouge Allure 07 Genius.

It's a pretty coral colour, nice for spring. But it can get quite intensive if you apply too much (see photo below, swatched once lightly on the left and several times on the right).

What bothers me is that it doesn't feel that hydrating. For the first hour or so, it's comfortable but then my lips start to want lip balm. My old Hydrabase lipstick is more hydrating than this. But I'll just wear some lip balm or gloss over it - this will also tone down the colour a bit - and it'll be fine.

Even though I like the chic packaging and the fact that it's Chanel, I'm not convinced I would buy another Rouge Allure. What I do love is the Rouge Allure Laque, which is like liquid lipstick. And of course I'll give the Rouge Coco a try...

Friday, March 19, 2010

iPhone app: Sleep Cycle

Sleep Cycle is one of the best selling iPhone apps at the moment. You put it on your mattress at night and it will record your sleep patterns.

I am aware that it is not completely accurate (apparently) but I am still fascinated with it. I use it every night and the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning, even when I'm still groggy, is check my sleep chart!

Here are some examples (you can email these sleep charts).

And on this night I seem to have slept better:

It monitors your movement in bed (apparently we move differently according to the sleep phase we are in). It has an alarm function that will wake you up in your lightest sleep phase within a half hour time frame (so if you need to be up by 7:15, it will go off anytime between 6:45-7:15).

The alarm sounds are soothing - no more hideous beeps - but it doesn't have a snooze function (yet?) so I need to set a second alarm if I must get up at a certain time. I also wish it would give a weekly summary.

If anything, it records how much sleep you get. And going by these charts, I know why I'm so tired. I usually need 8 hours of sleep and I'm not even getting 7. You know, this app could do with a 'go to bed now!' alarm...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I recommend Usborne's See Inside books: How Things Work

For kids who can't yet read, pictures are everything. And to make that even more interesting, there are picture books with flaps. Usborne does some very good ones.

There's one in their See Inside series called How Things Work.

It is packed with explanations on how musical instruments or household appliances (hair dryer, toilet) work. It introduces new vocabulary (also perfect for me because I never really learned what parts of a crane or helicopter are called!). It's probably too complicated for four-year olds to really understand but there's no harm in introducing such topics. This will be a useful reference book for years to come.

These books are educational but so well done that they definitely belong in a kid's library. They would make great gifts, as well.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Quote: Shall we swap?

Dinnertime with kids can be tricky.

We all want them to eat well so I've often resorted to hiding vegetables in sauces. It works.

Sometimes, though, my son's just not in the mood to eat what I've cooked so he complains that I've given him too big a portion.

So I ask: "Shall we swap, then?"

And he looks at my plate and the bigger portion... He grins and says, "No, thank you."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chakra 1: Courage (Kundalini Yoga with Maya Fiennes)

I'm moving onto the next Kundalini Yoga DVD by Maya Fiennes. It doesn't mean I'm going to abandon the Detox and De-stress one. But I'm eager to learn more, and well, doing the same DVD every day threatens to become boring.

It is the first part ("Courage") in a series called "A Journey through the Chakras".

The explanation given sounds really promising. Apparently the first chakra is found at the base of the spine and is the centre of our regeneration, stimulating all the cells of the body. It addresses addictive behaviour (!), survival, security and courage. By survival, it means we need to work the first chakra in order to eliminate toxins (from pollution and chemicals).

Did that make sense?

To be honest, I'm still struggling with it because I'm not used to thinking of yoga as medicine (from the Universe) for our body - but that's what Maya says in this DVD. (What and where exactly is the Universe and how do we get life force from it?!)  

As for the exercises: the warm-up is exactly the same as in the Detox and De-stress DVD. Which I like, so I don't mind at all.

But the rest of the DVD is much more physical. There's a lot of alternating between lying down on your back and sitting up and bending over to touch your toes. And there's no mistaking the meditation for relaxation here, as this part is also all about bending over to touch the toes and twisting your torso (which is unbelievably hard!).

There's hardly a moment of rest after you get past the warm-up so I'm already not so keen on doing this every day...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Damages is good for marriage

For me, TV series can become a serious addiction. I usually watch them on DVDs and find it incredibly difficult to turn off the DVD player, when I think I could squeeze in just one more episode...

Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives... all such great series, yet I have to watch them alone. As in, my husband refuses to watch them with me.

But now we have something that's far from girlie: Damages!

This is an exciting and intelligent legal thriller that my husband is also hooked on and now we can spend our evenings together in front of the TV!

Seriously, if you aren't familiar with Damages, go for it. There are so many twists and turns in the plot that it will keep you on your toes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Wishlist: Chanel Rouge Coco in #5 Mademoiselle

I'm not even particularly a fan of Vanessa Paradis but after seeing her newest ads, I am feeling the urge to own the new Chanel Rouge Coco in her colour, Mademoiselle...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Favourite hand creams

I have only recently become interested in higher end hand creams. At least, I never used to fuss over them. I used Neutrogena a lot and mainly stuck to the cheaper products. Not anymore.

1. My current favourite is by L'Occitane. I like the small tubes (30ml) and keep them in my handbag. It doesn't take up much space and it's really light; but what's better is that with use, it flattens out and takes up even less space. (Some tubes are one-size only and keep their shape, even when there's nothing left inside. They then become too bulky and I get rid of them as soon as possible.)

I suppose if I had to find something I didn't like about these, it would have to be the screw-on caps. They are so small that I often drop them and that can be annoying.

L'Occitane often does limited edition hand creams so look out for those.

2. Another favourite is the Mani Pedi by Estée Lauder. This is to use at home because you get quite a lot (200ml) for your money. The packaging is nowhere near as nice and the product itself is not as creamy as the L'Occitane stuff so it doesn't feel ultra moisturising. But it's fine for during the day, when you're going to be washing your hands soon afterwards again anyway. I prefer that to having greasy hands. It's also scent free.

3. Another good one that I've tried is Dior's HydrAction hand creme. It comes in a sleek packaging (75ml) that's good for keeping in the handbag and whipping out in front of others (it's Dior, after all). I remember it had a nice fragrance and it was moisturising but not greasy. The thing I mentioned before about certain tubes not shrinking... well, this is an example of that. The Dior packaging stays as it is all the way through to the end. But I would repurchase. In fact, I like it better than EL's Mani Pedi; only the cost factor, in comparison, is a slight issue.


Estée Lauder's Re-Nutriv Intensive Lifting hand cream - this is way too pricey. It's supposed to work magic, like reduce dark spots, but seeing as I don't have any yet, it's a waste of money.

Biotherm - you can also get this in a travel-friendly size. I would say that it's good and smells nice. But it wasn't anything special. I won't be getting this again.

Molton Brown - I'm not counting this as a favourite, I only wanted to mention it because I've use it. You can get a matching hand wash (for your guest bathroom), which is a nice touch. But the hand cream is only so-so. It's definitely not greasy but it could be creamier, for my liking. Make sure you get the one you like the smell of because it can be overpowering.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Quote: Vultures

We explained to our son that vultures eat dead animals. (I don't know who taught him the word dead - it certainly wasn't me - but now that he knows, I guess it can be useful. No more sleepy excuses.)

He thought about it.

Then he asked, "Do vultures eat dead kids, too?"


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Second review (4 weeks): Detox and de-stress with Maya Fiennes DVD

Roughly four weeks since I started this: I'm thinking this DVD is not as easy as I first thought. Strange!

Maybe I've just improved my 'technique' somewhat and I'm doing the exercises properly?

What I like most about this DVD is the warm-up. There are five sets of exercises - to do sitting down - that take about 20 minutes. It's gentle but the stretching is quite effective. It eases the tension in my lower back and I can feel some of the pain in my shoulder muscles go away.


I have to admit that I'm not as keen on the rest of the exercises, especially the heavy breathing bits (breath of fire, canon breath etc) that make my throat go all dry. But if you manage to get through this, the meditation - or is it just called relaxation? - at the end is great. I usually find myself drifting off and don't want to get up.

There isn't too much chanting, which is a relief for me because it still makes me feel rather awkward. (It's not so bad if you're alone but I definitely can't get through the chants without giggling if I think my family can hear). There's a bit at the beginning of the warm-up (Ong namo) and another bit (Sat nam) at the end.

Fab news: Maya Fiennes mentions in her book (see related post) that the warm-up exercises are "a simple but effective daily exercise set". So it's better to do just the 20-minute warm-up every day than nothing at all... This keeps the whole integrating-yoga-into-daily-life thing realistic and it's especially handy for weekends (family time, in my case) and holidays.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Friendship divorce"

A recent article called Friendship Divorce on Gwyneth Paltrow's website, goop.com, got me thinking.

Friends come and go. To quote one of the contributors to that article: "Most friendships are situational." I agree. I have come to believe that this is an inevitable fact of life.

I have had good but different friends for all stages of my life so far. I grew apart from childhood friends when we moved house. School friends turned out to be just that for when I switched schools, they eventually disappeared from my radar and vice versa. At university, a year away from each other (as part of the degree) was enough for me and my best friend to change and not get on anymore.

It's easy to accept that that was part of growing up but it actually continues.

When you become a mother, you're thrown into a new social circle again. Your new friends are other mothers. There's such a sense of security in being with them. After all, most first-time mothers are in pretty much the same situation and haven't a clue what to do. They can become really close friends. But after a while, you might realise that apart from kids, you have nothing in common with these people. And if there's nothing else to talk about, it's got to happen at some point.

Another split. Or if you are aware of the changes taking place, should it be more of a drift - eg better to do it tactfully?

Whichever, the truth is that it can hurt so it was comforting to read the opinions in the article.

Read the article here.

Goop: Friendship Divorce

Friday, March 5, 2010

Yoga for Real Life by Maya Fiennes: First thoughts

I finally have my copy of Maya Fiennes' new book, Yoga for Real Life. Yay!

It seems to be packed with tips on meditation, Kundalini yoga exercises and how to cope with life. Also included are several recipes for energy-enhancing smoothies. There are plenty of photos and colourful images, which make it pretty to look at and have lying around on a table (this is important!).

I've only read as far as the introduction and she's written something that made me feel better instantly:

"You don't need to understand it all to get the full benefit. You don't have to believe it at all."

What a relief - because I admit I don't understand it yet! But I want to.

This is what it looks like inside.


I'm sure it will enhance the basic understanding that I now have from watching her detox and de-stress DVD. I'll be back with a proper review!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ray-Bans for mother and son

I just couldn't resist the idea of a / my four-year old owning some classic eyewear: the Ray-Bans... for juniors!

He's always trying on my big sunglasses (that cover most of his face) so I thought it was about time he had his own pair. And for the PR - to convince him how cool it is to have Ray-Bans - I got myself a pair. After all, he's still at that age where he looks up to us parents.

Now let the sun shine so we can go hand in hand, Ray-Bans perched on both of our noses.

If he likes these, we can expand his collection by getting some junior aviators... And no doubt he'll insist on my getting a pair.

Next step: I'll need to get my husband some Ray-Bans, too.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Benefit's Sugarbomb blush for a subtle sheen

I am not such a Benefit fan so I was surprised with myself when I felt I had to have Benefit's newest blush, Sugarbomb. I'm not so keen on their packaging (bulky and cardboard) but I instantly liked the colours in this blush.

When you apply it - all colours together - I think it gives a fantastic glow to the cheeks. It's not heavily pigmented so it's easy to apply (you really can't go wrong with it) - and hardly visible when swatched!

It's not as shimmery as MAC's mineralize blushes so the effect is really natural. I always thought Dainty was a light pink so I was surprised to see how much more pigmented it is than Sugarbomb.

Benefit's Sugarbomb, MAC's Dainty

I actually prefer this to MAC's Blush Ombre in Ripe Peach (see review). This is good news for me... because the Sugarbomb is not limited edition! So I won't have to be so stingy about using it :-)

Monday, March 1, 2010

A dark eyeshadow, a dark base

I was in the mood for some dramatic eye make-up the other day. I decided on MAC's Prussian, a colour described as a "deep sea blue" on their website.

I also pulled out MAC's paint pot (a cream shadow) in Blackground (black).

And out of curiosity, I swatched Prussian on my arm, with and without the dark base.

What a huge difference. Of course, it depends on the look you're going for but the real colour and depth of Prussian only comes out when applied over a dark base (which doesn't have to be black, by the way).

If you have eyeshadows that you're not happy with - maybe the colour or pigmentation is not quite what you'd imagined - experiment. If I hadn't known about using this black cream shadow, I might have tossed out Prussian...