Friday, April 30, 2010

Stunning mineral illuminating powders with pearl powder and diamonds...

This post is actually part two of the Haul.

I wasn't planning on getting Laura Mercier's mineral illuminating powders - I didn't even know about them, to be honest - but once I'd tried them, I had to get them. There are two colours to choose from and I first got Starlight. Then I went back and got Candlelight, too. I adore these!

Starlight (L) and Candlelight (R)

Starlight is the lighter shade and it's described as a 'golden nude' on their website. It has a beautiful, soft shimmer that's supposed to give a natural, healthy glow. The ingredients are really glam: pearl powder, diamonds, emeralds and other precious / semi-precious stones!

It's definitely not for using all over the face but it's pretty as a highlighter. If you look at the swatches below, you'll see that Starlight is the most subtle because it blends in better with my skintone. MAC pigment Naked is rather pink and Vanilla is very white with a strong and visible sheen.

(from L to R) Starlight, MAC pigment Naked, MAC pigment Vanilla

In daylight (no direct sunlight)

In sunlight - sparkles are visible

In artificial light - also sparkly

Candlelight is more of a pink tone. It would add a nice bit of colour and shimmer to a beauty powder or light blush on the cheeks. It might even work as a blush on its own but I haven't tried that yet. Or as eyeshadow, actually. These powders are basically like MAC's pigments.

I swatched Candlelight alongside some random colours on a different day in different lighting (still outside). Candlelight ended up in the middle. Naked pigment is on the left and Soft and Gentle Mineralize Skinfinish on the right.

L to R: MAC pigment Naked, Candlelight, Soft and Gentle MSF

The one last thing that I got is the new Secret Finish - Mattifying. It comes in a small tube and the consistency is slightly strange; it's described as a liquid-gel that instantly absorbs excess oil and removes shine for hours. It's primarily for touch-ups.

I've only used this once so far but noticed that you have to be careful with the application. Don't try to rub the product in because that will 'push' the make-up around and possibly 'dilute' it. Better to spread it out on the back of your hand first, then just tap it into the skin. 

Whew. I think that's enough Laura Mercier for a while. Coming soon is MAC - the new collections that I wrote about in my wishlist. Yay! 

Haul: Aveda, Laura Mercier, OPI

My husband didn't change his mind, of course, so I had to return his shirts today. Got that money back - and headed straight for the beauty department. Here is what I got - and I'm keeping everything.

I got bath salts called Soothing Aqua Therapy. It's supposed to refresh, hydrate and relax. I've never tried any bath products from Aveda before so this will be interesting. I also got samples (yay!) of their smooth infusion shampoo and conditioner. 

I got their nail and cuticle replenishing oil. I've been using this on and off for years. Apply to cuticles at night before you go to bed and you will wake up with nicer looking nails. Mine look absolutely terrible at the moment. 

Laura Mercier
I think Laura Mercier does great powders so I picked up a couple of those and a brow definer. 

First, the brow definer. It is a wax/gel in a pot, applied with a brush, that keeps hairs in place. It comes in three colours and I got it in Fair, the lightest colour.

It's not as dark as it looks in the first photo. Here's another pic, taken outside. 

Now for the swatch.  
After taking the picture on the left (below), I thought I was done so I started to rub it off. Then I noticed that I couldn't get it off. It had virtually stained my skin and it only came off with soap. Great for summer. 

The secret brightening powder is a very light powder made specifically to set concealer. This is an incredible powder, it's light, doesn't crease and is supposed to lighten the eye area with its tiny flecks of shimmer. In her book "Make-up Masterclass" (review coming soon) make-up artist Jemma Kidd lists her favourite loose powder as being this one.

It comes in two colours and I actually use #2, an off-white. But I wasn't concentrating (too busy looking at other products) and ended up with #1, which is very white. I can still use this so I won't bother returning it but don't you hate it when that happens? 

Anyway, the white one reminds me of MAC's Prep and Prime transparent finishing powder, except the MAC one is matte and Laura Mercier's is not. 

Secret brightening powder 2 and 1

What else... I got two mineral finishing powders. I won't go into that now. I tested it and wrote about it here.

There will be a separate post on the mineral illuminating powders because they are so amazing. 

Have you tried any of these products? 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

When a Chanel goes missing

There's some bad news... but first always the good news. (Or do you usually prefer to hear the bad news first?)

It was a beautiful, sunny day for sitting outside and sipping a Bellini, my favourite cocktail. I always order a bottle of sparkling water, too. Perrier used to be my mineral water of choice but now I prefer San Pellegrino - the bubbles are 'softer'.

I had a risotto with white asparagus and Parmesan. Hm, *** out of five, I would say. I had to add a bit of salt and pepper. The best risotto I've ever had was in some tiny Italian village which I can't remember the name of. I went there two nights in a row.

I took my wallet out of my bag. I also looked and looked for my coin purse but could not find it anywhere. (It's not at home, either.) Coin purse - yeah, who cares, at least it wasn't the wallet that I lost, right? Well, not when that coin purse was a CHANEL coin purse! I haven't shed any tears yet but I am a teeny weeny bit... ok, gutted. It was a limited edition thing that matches a handbag (that I still have) so I can't replace it. I probably left it in a supermarket so the odds of finding it are zero-nil-minus.


Then! I went to buy my husband a 'present' (some shirts). I got the extra boring plain white shirt and the boring plain blue shirt. I got a bit excited (can you imagine? in the men's shirt department) when I spotted something slightly different: shirts with subtle blue stitching on the collar. I thought they would make a nice change. Because it must get so boring wearing the same 'look' every day - suit, shirt, tie.

But you know what? My husband does not like them at all. OMG how B-O-R-I-N-G! How ungrateful! I am never, ever buying him anything anymore (even when it's with his money).

I have to return them. But tell me - are they really that bad? 

Travel-friendly massage ball

It's such a pain when flights gets delayed. But once in a while it can be an opportunity in disguise. I was walking around the airport shops, bored, when suddenly I spotted one of these little reflexology balls. It's simply a ball with spikes, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

Unlike a lot of other massage props I've tried, this one is relatively hard and doesn't give way too much when you press on it. So the massage is effective, if you want it to be.

I liked it so much that I rushed back to get some more before my flight - another back-up for me and one for my mother.

Do you have any favourite massage products?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Exotic Kit Kat - Did you know?

I had absolutely no idea that Kit Kat (or Nestlé, I suppose) was so creative!

What got me started were these two "different" Japanese Kit Kats: potato of some sort and green tea. You would never think it but the potato one tastes better, I think.

I did some research and checked out their various international websites. Um that was interesting, sometimes just randomly clicking on the links in the hope of finding pictures.

Here it is, a map of regional Kit Kats around Japan! Can you find (my) potato Kit Kat?


Some other flavours around the world include:

cookies and cream
hazelnut cream
peanut butter 
white (strawberry)

How many of these Kit Kats have you tried?

My favourite for smooth skin: Origins body scrub

As the summer season approaches and we want our skin to look its best, here is a body exfoliator that I would like to recommend.

Origins Calm to Your Senses 
Lavender and Vanilla Body Smoother

It contains white and brown sugars to exfoliate and best of all, it also contains oils to moisturise so your skin doesn't dry out. Even after you get out of the bath/shower and towel off, your skin will be incredibly smooth. You will feel the difference! 

I tested it on my arm for photo purposes. The sugar doesn't dissolve too quickly so you get a really good scrub. It feels fantastic and can you see how my skin is shining in the photo below? That's the oil and it smells absolutely gorgeous.

The only downside is that it can leave your bathtub a bit oily. If you use it in the shower it's not noticeable.

I just bought another one - my third repeat purchase! - and I've also given it to friends and they've loved it.

The scrubs are available in other scents - like ginger, mint/rosemary - or if you like the Lavender and Vanilla they have a bath bar, a body cleanser and bath/body oil in the series. 

Have you ever tried these Origin scrubs? Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

MAC lip conditioners

When I did my post on favourite lip balms, I didn't include these ones. The MAC lip conditioners that I have are all tinted so for me, they're in the make-up category.

I have four, of which three came out with recent collections and are limited edition (or pro).

Dim, Feelin' good, Close for comfort, Fuchsia fix

Dim is technically a "lip erase lip balm" and not a lip conditioner. It's like a concealer for lips. I liked the idea and got it but to be honest, I forget to use it.

Feelin' good is a really pale pink that can look too blue and unattractive on some people. I use it at home, or when I'm feeling lazy, or to create low maintenance nude lips.

Close for comfort looks darker in the pot than it really is. The colour is more flattering than Feelin' good. It is a hint of coral-brown.

Fuchsia fix is permanent. This certainly has the strongest colour but when applied lightly, it just gives your lips a healthy glow.

They're definitely worth trying out.

Quote: A mouse tickling my bottom

My four-year old cannot sit still. On the one hand, I think it's great that he has so much energy. On the other hand, it's bloody annoying sometimes, having to repeat, "Sit still!", "Don't fidget!", "Calm down!"

So we're having dinner one night and he's fidgeting as usual. He flies the fork in the air like a plane and stands on his Stokke Tripp Trapp chair to make it fly higher.

"Sit down! On your bottom," I have to specify.

And out of nowhere, he gives me an excuse:

"But there was a mouse tickling my bottom!"

Sigh. Ok, at least he has a vivid imagination, I'll give him that much.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Update on t-zone oiliness: Laura Mercier powders

I'm trying to say good-bye to a shiny forehead so I've been testing two Laura Mercier powders that I got at the beginning of the month: the mineral finishing powder 1 and the loose setting powder in translucent.

I've tested two skincare+makeup combinations:

Estée Lauder's Resilience Lift Extreme for dry skin
MAC's Studio Sculpt foundation
Laura Mercier's mineral finishing powder

Clinique's dramatically different moisturising gel only on the t-zone 
Resilience cream applied to rest of the face
MAC's Studio Sculpt foundation 
Laura Mercier's loose setting powder 

The results have been similar. And very positive. With #1 the shine on the forehead at lunchtime (4-5 hours after initial application) is controlled, I would say. It's definitely not matte, the way I like to have it, but it looks fine. Therefore if I used the oil-free gel and this mineral powder, I would get even better results.

One sunny day last week I was busy all day - doctor's appointment, lunch appointment, shopping - and didn't bother with touch-ups. Eight hours after first applying everything as per #2, I just used an oil-absorbing sheet on my forehead... and didn't even (need to) re-apply powder.

Basically, if I'm going to use a rich face cream all over, I need the mineral finishing powder because this controls sebum production. 

If I use two different skincare products - an oil-free product on the t-zone and a richer cream on the cheeks - then I can stick to the loose setting powder... but the mineral powder will be even more effective.

I like both powders but am undecided as to which one I should get a back-up of (!). You get a lot more for your money with the loose setting powder (29g vs 12g for the mineral powder!) so I am tempted to stick to this one. But the mineral finishing powder is so incredibly silky and fine, it's a dream!

Have you tried either of these powders?

Who knows Yogalosophy?

I read recently that Jennifer Aniston and Victoria Beckham keep in shape with Yogalosophy. As far as I understand, it's sort of yoga (not taken seriously) + toning exercises.

It sounds interesting but the DVD gets mixed reviews... like there's too much talking, there's no flow, the workouts are not diverse enough.

Is it worth getting? Has anyone tried it out yet?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

When pills aren't enough

The anti-allergy tablets that I've been taking don't seem to be helping.

I had so much trouble breathing last night that I thought I was going to die in my sleep. (I can't die yet! I want my car first!)

A blocked nose forced me to breathe through my mouth but that didn't go too well, either. I felt like I was being strangled. My throat was so tight that I was quite desperate for something like an inhaler.

Now for the multiple choice question.
a. Is the pollen count just extremely and horribly high this year? or
b. Do I blame it on my cleaning lady for not getting rid of the house dust properly? or
c. Are bored and deranged spirits trying to tell me something?

A Mini Cooper: Yes it will be mine

When my husband and I got engaged - or just before he got the ring, to be precise - I explained solemnly that the diamond engagement ring would be the most expensive gift he would ever buy me (and that's why he shouldn't be stingy!).

Now, there's going to be a bigger purchase and it was his idea! Obviously because it's a car and not some useless jewellery.

I'm so excited to be getting a Mini Cooper!

We went to the showroom and talked to a very friendly guy there. Yes, he was good; not pushy at all. So good, in fact, that at the beginning of our conversation I confidently said I wanted the car in "chili red"...

... and left wanting something completely different, something I had totally ignored in earlier visits to the showroom. The Mini 50 Camden, a special edition created especially for Mini's 50th birthday.

It's different because it's offered in the special colour "white silver metallic" (basically a pearl white), with black and white as a general theme for the interior and (optional) stripes on the mirror caps (and a lot more, obviously). Overall, more elegant.

In comparison the chili red suddenly looked very aggressive. And didn't match my outfit of the day.

The good thing is that this edition includes a lot of 'extras' (that I would have wanted to order anyway). What's not included and I must have... (slightly embarrassed look) is the park distance control ;-) yeah even with a tiny car like the Mini!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring would be my favourite season, if...

... if it weren't for hay fever. I get it badly and it is really the worst time of the year for me.

The sneezing itself, even if I manage about seven in a row each time, is not so bad. But itchy eyes are uncomfortable. Usually, I never ever rub my eyes because of all the make-up I wear but I just had to make an exception the other day. Yes, I had to take off my make-up in the middle of the day so I could rub until my eyes were red and swollen. Attractive. First thing I did the next morning was to run to the chemist and plead for anything that would help.

The problem with the nose - either completely blocked or totally runny - is also annoying. Thank goodness for tissues (what did they do before tissues were invented? wash handkerchiefs each and every time - in dirty, smelly water, no less?) but the skin on my nose has just had it, with all the blowing I've been doing.

Wait... maybe I won't have to use tissues anymore?

I've been given something very curious. I've never seen or heard of these things (from Japan) - stoppers that you put up your nose to (1) catch the nasty stuff coming out and to (2) prevent pollen and dust from coming in.

I'm not sure what to make of these. It must be uncomfortable, having them up your nose all day. Has anyone tried them? 

My LiLash experience

Wow! Lilash is amazing.

I applied a thin line on my lashline every night. It took eight weeks of applying it daily before I saw any results. Then bang! They were suddenly SO long that everyone was commenting on them. "Are they your real lashes?" "Are you wearing false lashes?"

Interestingly, using mascara has become a completely different experience. It is so much easier to apply mascara, with my extended lashes somehow smoother and all curling in the same direction (even though without mascara the lashes can look rather tangled). Mascaras that I had liked before, such as Diorshow Blackout, suddenly added too much volume, can you believe it?!

I do not need my eyelash curlers anymore at all. My lashes - with mascara - are up to my eyebrows! And they have such a beautiful natural curl. It's amazing.

Another spectacular change is the growth of the bottom lashes. They were practically non-existent before. Wow!

I had a little two-week 'break' after the 14 week mark, when I started using it every other day instead of every day. It was probably only my imagination and paranoia that I thought I could see changes after a week and a half (I'd lost some lashes and there were fewer re-growing to take their place). But it was enough to get me back to using Lilash every day again.

There has never been any stinging or redness. It feels like I'm applying water.

I suppose there is one tiny drawback. The facial hairs under the lower outer corners of the eyes (above the cheekbones) have become darker or at least more pronounced. It is not pretty so I pluck them and it is very painful! (and I have a high pain threshold when it comes to plucking facial hairs!) But vanity rules: this is something I am very willing to do for wonderful eyelashes :-)

One tube lasted me 36 weeks. That's about 8 months!

I would definitely repurchase. But before I do, I want to try out a couple of other things... including cheaper alternatives. If they don't work, I can always go back to Lilash - and knowing this gives me a huge sense of security!

Up in the air again... finally

Apparently the authorities have re-opened European airspace and planes are allowed to fly again.

What a mess. It's a pain for everyone who couldn't get home. But I hate to think how difficult this would particularly have been for parents with small children - imagine running out of nappies or baby food.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

MAC Liberty of London haul

Another haul: MAC this time. My decision to reserve the following products was based solely on product photos (not even swatches) I'd seen online (because I was going to be away for the launch). And I must say, even if I had seen the testers beforehand, I would have bought exactly the same products.

Eyeshadows: Birds & Berries, Bough Grey
Beauty powder: Shell Pearl
Lipstick: Coral Hip
Nail lacquer: Blue India

My favourite is the beauty powder (partly just because I love the colour and partly because I love the different packaging). I use it as blush and it gives a beautiful light pink sheen on the cheeks, much lighter (less pigmented, less sheen) than a mineralize blush. I am so tempted to get a back-up...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

L'Occitane haul

Having children around means that you have to be a good role model. This is an extensive topic... but here I just want to limit it to... washing hands :-)

I went to L'Occitane and found some lovely hand soap. The two on the right were on my shopping list: liquid soap in verbena and lavender. These will look good in the guest bathroom. But the white bottle was unexpected. This acacia flower-scented 'hand and body cleansing mousse' smells yummy and is a foam soap that comes out of the pump light and fluffy. I got three of these!

I had to get some tubes of hand cream as well. I love these.

And I was given some samples: shampoo, conditioner, face cream, body cream and eau de toilette. Oh how I love getting samples - it's almost half the fun of going shopping for cosmetics.

I was particularly happy to get this sample: a small tube of hand cream!

It's very boring that MAC doesn't have any samples whatsoever, don't you think?

Wishlist: MAC's May 2010 collections

I managed to get a sneak peek at two forthcoming MAC collections and put in my order straight away! I love that coral is so in because it's my favourite colour for lips and cheeks.

To the Beach
I was stunned by how beautiful the highlight powder in Marine Life is. It has a seahorse embossed on the surface and the colours are vibrant. This is an absolute must! I've ordered two of these, one to actually use and one to keep untouched :-)

The powder blushes come in green packaging with a starfish on the lid. They were pretty colours, especially the coral called Hipness (should I get two?). I ordered both and the nail lacquer called Scorcher, a coral red. The cream bronzer had an amazing texture, it felt very silky once applied to the skin. I didn't order it, though.

Contrary to what the ad suggests, the packaging for this collection is not cream, it is just normal black. Hm, this makes me think that I should order more from the beach collection and cancel some of these below...

Instant Chic is a coral blush yet again and Dressmaker, Dressmaker is a coral lipstick to match that. Coral Crepe paint pot is a must and Tissueweight is a really pretty pale eyeshadow. Light over Dark is a mineralize blush that reminds me of Cheek & Cheerful; it would also work well on the eyelids (would be a darker version of Love Connection). And I was immediately convinced when I saw Originality nail lacquer - a fantastic, rich bronze that reminded me of the Style Warrior.