Friday, 31 January 2014

January favourites & fails

Ah, January. The month where the festivities of Christmas have ended, leaving behind only aching purse strings, and the realisation that winter still has a few dark and frigid months to go. The saving grace for me is that it's my birthday month, though the closer I eek towards 30, the less of an upside this seems to be!

Aside from my recent naughty purchase of the NARS NARSissist eyeshadow palette, I've put a hault on makeup buys this month. These favourites are things that have been hanging around a while but recently made a mark (you know, shopping your stash and all that).


Favourites

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation in shade Deauville - I've had this hanging around for a few years now, which probably violates some beauty blogger rule, but let's be real. I'm human. When I first got this I was a bit meh. My skin was considerably more oily back then and the supposed 'glow' veered a bit too much towards shiny for my liking. So in my collection it sat. Well, I recently ran out of my Dior Diorskin Nude Healthy Glowing Makeup (which I love) and decided to give this another go. The formula is more pigmented than most foundations that claim to be dewy (which is nice) - the coverage is medium, and can be applied with fingers or brush. The finish definitely has dimension (it's not matte/flat) and it is glowy, but it's not what I would describe as dewy, tacky, slippery, etc. I do powder it though, and it lasts well on my skin without feeling heavy. I won't say I prefer it over my more recent acquisition - the YSL Youth Liberator Serum Foundation that I featured in my Top 13 of 2013, but the shade range is definitely more extensive, and overall I'm enjoying it. I added a pump to my recent NARS order to get free shipping and this little makeover really seals the deal.

YSL Touche Eclat Radiant Touch - another one I wasn't particularly smitten with when I first got it. To be honest, I really didn't get the hype. But I whipped this out recently to try to 'use it up' and have been surprisingly impressed. I use this over concealer as an undereye highlighter and it does work to brighten. I do need to make sure my eye area is well hydrated or it can look a bit crepey and separated throughout the day. nice. I think this is why I was initially unimpressed. But, as long as you're working with well prepped skin it is really quite nice. I'm usually not a fan of click pen packaging because they can get quite messy or clogged up. This is an exception - the packing is excellent which is really a selling point for me over cheaper alternatives.

NARS Eyeshadow Duo in Charade - A dusty mauve on the left and a muted plum on the right - both completely matte. This is something I would have never chosen on my own but it came strongly recommended by Ingrid from missglamorazzi a few years ago. I  put the mauve on my lid and the plum through my crease and I find it compliments my blue eyes perfectly. I usually find it really difficult to pull off pink-toned shadows because they can make my eyes look bloodshot but this problem is nowhere in sight with this duo. Both shadows are perfectly silky - they apply smoothly and even and almost blend themselves. I seem to re-fall in love with this duo each winter.

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil in Empire - A dark matte blue/grey toned purple (e.g. not a violet/red undertone)  - it almost reminds me a bit of MAC's smut eyeshadow in a pencil formula that stays put. I smudge this along my lower lashline - it's not as harsh as black but still well-defined and can be easily smoked out. Looks great with Charade, too.

Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow in #30 Wheat - I use a colour like this every day on my eyes to blend out the crease and give some warmth to my eye look. Lately I've rediscovered this one in particular and I'm really enjoying it. This shadow is totally matte, looks cool in the pan but applies slightly warmer (but not orangey) and has a silky smooth texture. All my mac shadows are in palettes and it's been really nice having a single that I can use despite what other shadows or palettes I reach for.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo and Effaclar H - My skin has been acting up a little lately near my jaw line (lovely) and these two products have been my go-to to deal with it. Effaclar duo is more of a spot treatment - for me it's been fine to use over large areas as well but I know they've just released the Effaclar Duo+ which is more targeted for this purpose. This isn't a miracle worker but it does make a noticeable difference to the healing time of spots. The Effaclar H is a moisturizer in the same range which is specifically aimed at oily skin that is dehydrated from harsh skincare treatments. When I'm using the Effaclear Duo I put this on top and it's a perfect no-nonsense, non-irritating, but nourishing moisturizer. Skin sorted.

My final favourite is this ginormous houndstooth scarf from Zara, which could double as at throw blanket it's so damn big. It makes me look slightly crazy and I love it.

Fail

Fig+Yarrow Cardamom + Coffee Body Scrub - OK. So I feel a bit harsh calling this a fail. I love to see smaller and independent brands do well and the line really does look beautiful. But, this product really just hasn't worked for me. I initially saw Estee from essiebutton talking about this. I'm a coffee connoisseur (Melbourne, peeps - it's in our blood) so this sounded extremely, over the top amazing to me. So, what's the deal?

First, let's start with the pot. I love the look of the branding, but the product is housed in a very large glass jar. It's not make or break for me if I like the product but it really isn't practical for a tiled shower. Next, the smell. Yes - this smells strongly of coffee, or more accurately, used and slightly stale coffee grinds. It smells like the bad dishwater 'americano' coffee that you find in diners stateside. Not very luxury. To be fair, when you're actually using it in the shower the generic coffee smell is enjoyable. My main gripe though is the scrub itself - it smells like coffee because it is coffee - this means it's not too harsh, slightly abrasive, but for the most part fairly gentle - good. But, the texture is sooo weird! On the one hand it's crumbly - like they haven't added enough of a carrier oil like shea butter, etc. It's hard to take out and apply because it doesn't stick to itself. But, once you get it on and scrub away it has the opposite problem - it doesn't wash off! The oils in this do not rinse away easily. Not too dissimilar to some of the moisturizing films that are left behind by some other scrubs. Except sugar and salt both dissolve in water. Coffee doesn't. So you end up with coffee grinds stuck on your skin, that don't rinse off with water. Both times I've used this I've had to wash it off with a separate shower gel to get it off, which totally defeats the purpose, removes any nourishing residue, and overwhelms the scent. And I've missed spots so I get out of the shower with coffee patches that look like dirt on my skin. Sexy. Oh, and it stained my shower curtain. Rant over. Phew. 

I love the idea of this but it falls flat on the execution. I've just noticed Cult Beauty has stopped selling this line, so perhaps the intense warning is redundant anyway!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Fashion spotlight: Monochrome graphic/print/text

I tend to wear solid neutrals and rely on texture, cut, layering, and accessories for interest. Something's got into me though, and for the past few months I've been gravitating toward T's and sweatshirts (another thing I've been disproportionately drawn to this season) adorned with either graphic or text.

In keeping with my style I've stuck with black and white and have been somewhat judicious about which 'messages' make the cut. Not new, but new to me, and a look I'm loving at the moment. These are a few of my favourites:

The 'create and destroy' t-shirt and the 'Eau Yeah' sweatshirt are both from Zoe Karssen. I love the distressed print of the T and fell in love with the saying on the sweatshirt. I have a soft spot for lighthearted plays on words and this definitely fits the bill. I chuckle to myself every time I put it on (it's the small things). Sizing runs tight, so def size up if you're going for a loose fit. The stencil, paint by numbers take on Markus Lupfer's lip motif was a more minimal alternative to the usually bold graphic, so after um-ing and ah-ing online, I picked this up from Selfridges on a weekend trip to London. The material is rather stiff, and the cut is very boxy. The neck is cut high and it's fairly short at the waist. If I'm honest it's not particularly flattering on it's own unless I roll the sleeves (a must), tuck it into a skirt, or layer under an open oversized cardigan. This bad boy is currently 50% off on the ML website. A more refined version of the same monochrome tendency is this black and white Equipment star print blouse, which I've been loving paired with waxed black leather-look skinnies and a red lip.

What are your thoughts on the B&W (semi-) adult take on graphic tops? What looks have you been loving lately?

Monday, 27 January 2014

Sleepytime saviours

I'm not usually one who needs sleep aides, but a post-holiday foray into Breaking Bad which resulted in watching all five seasons within three weeks made going to bed at 3am a routine of sorts. Unfortunately, re-instating a more humane bedtime has been somewhat of challenge. Enter my sleepytime saviours.


As I'm winding down at night, either doing some work or more likely, being sucked into the depths of the internet, I've swapped out my usual tea for Clean & Lean Serenity, which admittedly, I picked up impulsively from Space NK with a voucher. It claims to be "an all natural chocolate shake, with calming calcium, chamomile and hops to help promote a relaxing and restful sleep" and contains a whole host of herbs and nutrients. I drink it warm with steamed milk, as you would a cappuccino, and it's actually really delicious. It's sweet enough to double as dessert, but the chamomile, hops and other herbs definitely elevate it from a straight hot chocolate. The price is mindbogglingly steep, but I would consider re-purchasing.

For those lucky enough to have a bath at home I would highly highly recommend the Therapie Himalayan Detox Salts which will literally knock you out. Unfortunately for me, I'm dealing with a tiny but typical Danish shower-only bathroom, so can only indulge in these on weekends away.

Once I'm ready for bed, I slick on a good dose of By Terry Baume de Rose - hands down the best lip balm I've ever tried. It's luxurious in every way, with a formula that is superbly moisturising and lasts until morning. It is pricey, but reserved for bedtime this pot has lasted me absolute ages. I follow up with Biotherm Biomains age-delaying hand & nail treatment - an excellent water resistant hand cream that is comfortably moisturising but with a completely non-greasy formula (so much so my boyfriend even has his own tube and has repurchased it on his own accord). I don't like sleeping with anything that's going to be too heavy or greasy for fear that it will end up on my face or pillow and cause me to breakout. A few spritzes of the This Works deep sleep pillow spray lends a relaxing scent of lavender and vetiver, which is an enjoyable, if cheeky, treat.

Last but not least, I do my best to put my phone aside and read instead. The book currently gracing my bedside table is called 'Let's explore diabetes with owls, essays, etc.', the most recent release by my favourite essayist David Sedaris. He has an uncanny ability to pick up and write about everyday, sometimes mundane situations and relationships in ways that are hilarious, at times heartwarming, and totally identifiable. I would highly highly recommend this or any of his other collections (and if you want a serious chuckle you should listen to his recorded readings of his own essays). The essays are self-contained, reasonably short, easy reading and literally make me laugh out loud. Perfect for letting go of the day and going to sleep with smile.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

The resolutions #1: cleanliness is next to...

So - it's the end of January which is right about the time most people start flailing with their resolutions. I'm not one who finds the need to commit to big life changes, but just like a new notebook can be a motivational kick in the butt, so too can a new year. Here is my curated list of (self-consciously cliche) resolutions that I share to keep myself on track and maybe inspire you with a tidbit of wisdom here and there.


Resolution #1. This may not be everyone's cup of tea. And I'm pretty sure it makes me look crazier than I am. But, both my boyfriend and I have the flexibility to work from home when we so desire, and I was finding the more time at home the messier things were getting. But the messier things were getting, the less time we wanted to spend at home. I really find I feel better, think more clearly and am more relaxed when my environment is clean and tidy, so one of my new years resolutions was to get better at cleaning through manageable but regular tasks.

Enter the "cleaning schedule" - a little chart I made for daily and weekly tasks, that for the most part only take a few minutes each, and which I promise is less militant than it looks. It's really more of a reminder and motivator, rather than checklist. The result is that the apartment is tidy at all times - everything has a place and any clutter gets dealt with immediately. Cleaning is regular and easy to tackle, rather than accumulating, getting put off or requiring a devoted day to get things under control. It also means we're free to invite friends back, host drinks or brunch on a whim without any last minute scramble.

This probably all sounds very common sensical, but after years of my boyfriend being the 'neat' one and taking on a disproportionate amount of the domestic work, I've finally seen the light of dealing with things on a continuous basis and it's been surprisingly easy and to incorporate into my routine. A very small price for the satisfaction and peace of mind of having a beautiful home (Rewarding myself by burning a Diptyque candle for most waking hours is just the cherry on top).

Friday, 24 January 2014

Review: NARS NARSissist eyeshadow palette

I'm pretty sure I squealed upon seeing the first photo of this on instagram. The purchase of my Chanel eye palette during Christmas was meant to be my last... for a while. I have enough eyeshadow to last me a lifetime (maybe even 2). The thought of the accumulation and waste had finally knocked some sense into me and I was planning to be particularly responsible during the launch of Spring collections. So it's fair to say that this palette caught me off guard. But, c'mon. seriously. Look at her.

L-R: All About Eve I, Madrague II, Fez, Bali, Coconut Grove, Madrague I, Nepal, Ashes to Ashes, Brousee II, Mekong, Belissima I, Lhasa, Bad Behaviour, Dogon II, Pandora II

The new NARS NARSissist eyeshadow palette houses 15 shadows, most of which are available as either singles or within duos in the permanent range. I had a few already in my collection but I find my individual shadows tend to go neglected precisely because it's usually easier to grab a palette to create a full look. But let's be honest, this purchase wasn't about necessity.

This palette was particularly appealing to me because of the mix of textures, warm and cool shades, and the full spectrum of light to dark. I especially appreciate the inclusion of both warm and cool satin/matte shades that can be used to blend out the crease - something I often find lacking in other palettes. I also never expected NARS to put out a 15-pan palette, let alone one that so cutely fits in your palm.

So, was it worth it? I completely concur with Temptalia that the shadows in this palette are harder than some of their single counterparts. I find the quality of nars shadows somewhat inconsistent to begin with - some are buttery while others are very hard, patchy and sometimes chalky. This palette is no exception - some shadows (fez, nepal, ashes to ashes, lhasa, bad behaviour etc.) applied smoothly, while others (especially those on the more matte side) were hard and applied patchy - as you can see in the swatches (I hope). That said, all the shadows appear to be well pigmented and I think if applied over a primer will not pose any problems for creating looks on the eyes. So if you're looking for shadows textured like the Urban Decay Naked Palettes, you won't find them here. But, I have an increasing appreciation for less metallic palettes that contain a good range of wearable satin and matte shades and I think this palette is balanced in all the right ways.

*Update: I've now used this palette every day since I've had it and can confirm that none of the shadows pose problems upon application on the eyes. I've fallen head over heals for this one!*

The palette sold out almost immediately, but I managed to snatch one up for 49 from NARS EU. I threw in a foundation pump for an extra few euros and got free shipping on the lot. The palette is supposed to launch into other retailers around Feb 1st so if you're vigilant you should be able to find one if you fancy. What are your thoughts on this palette? Do you think it's worth the hype?

Top 5: Winter fragrances

When it comes to perfume I'm not one for subtlety. When I find a fragrance I love, I'm fairly happy to douse myself in the stuff. A colleague recently told me it's nice when I work from our shared office because it makes the (giant) room smells nice. I chose to take her compliment without surveying the opinion of the guy who sits directly behind me. Sorry, mate.


1. Byredo Parfums Gypsy Water EDP - This is probably my favourite perfume of all time. Warm, sophisticated, but also somehow casual. This is one I wear totally selfishly, I just can't get enough. Top notes include juniper and bergamot (hello negroni!), and base notes include my 2 favs - amber and sandalwood. I think this is a scent I will buy over and over again. I'm also tremendously curious about some of the other fragrances from this under-the-radar brand. Next up to try is 1996.

2. Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir - My first time at a Jo Malone counter, as I excitedly tested all the colognes, this is the one that immediately took my fancy. It has since done the rounds in the beautysphere, but it's a cult fragrance for a reason. Deep fruits, spice, wood. My JM collection has since grown but this is still the standout for me.

3. Escada Cherry in the Air EDT - I know, I know. This one surprises me, too. My boyfriend smelled this at duty free and while admittedly out of character, liked it. I trust his nose more than mine - I've been known to buy perfumes I think I like in the store and be underwhelmed when I get them home. He has never (ever!) made this error. So, when he takes notice so do I. He bought me the huge 100ml bottle which I thought was overkill at the time. But this has, despite all odds, turned out to be seriously, addictively good. The fruitiness of sour cherry and sweetness of marshmallow are grounded with a warm basenote of sandalwood. I suspect the woodiness is what keeps it within my realm of enjoyment.

4. Tom Ford White Patchouli EDP - I had intended to buy TF Black Orchid but fell in love with this instead. This is potent, even for me, and for that reason tends to be more appropriate for night time. It's a warm, spicy floral that even leans a bit masculine, and is super sexy.

5. Burberry Body Intense EDP - I had smelled the original a few times and wasn't impressed. Only after picking this up, second guessing my initial impression, buying it and using it for a while did I even notice I had bought the intense version. This is probably the most feminine of the bunch, but it's certainly not delicate. A heady floral with woody notes, and dare I say a fair dose of powdery-ness on me. I think this may be a love it or hate it perfume, but for me it works.

Five warm and woody fragrances that manage to satisfy my every mood through the long Copenhagen winter. What scents have you been sporting?

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Fashion spotlight: Rag & Bone Harrow Boots


Today's post is all about bowing down to a cult classic. Rag & Bone know how to do boots. The chunky heel, padded insole, and superb craftsmanship of the Harrow booties make these a total staple in my wardrobe. As a rule I don't wear heels during the day. My job doesn't demand it, and I walk. A lot. It has taken me a while to come to terms with this, rather than shelling out money time and time again on beautiful heels that end up neglected. These boots are an exception. They are comfy enough to wear for a whole day, and versatile enough to wear day or night. I've had these since mid-2012 and they still look great. I know there are cheaper alternatives out there but the mix of style, quality and comfort make the original a winner for me.

A note on sizing - I find Rag & Bone sizing to be inconsistent across models. I'm usually a 37 but I have these in a 37.5 and they're perfect.

Next on my wish list are the Newbury boots in black leather...

Monday, 20 January 2014

My morning skincare routine

For a long time my skincare stash was like a revolving door - the curiosity of trying new things outweighed my loyalty to any product in particular. Times are changing. I've found a few products I love, that have been or will be repurchased, and my skin is thanking me for it.


Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser - A thin, clay-based cleanser that does what it promises. I use this in the shower and it leaves my skin clean but not stripped, and after consistent use my pores are less noticeable. As a bonus it removes any mascara residue from the night before without stinging my eyes.

Pixi Glow Tonic - Basically impossible to get your hands on if you're not in London. I picked this up from the Carnaby Street store on a weekend stint and I'm glad I did. A daily toner with a light chemical exfoliant, that is lasting me absolute ages. And good news - it's now available online!

Rodial Dragon's Blood Sculpting Gel - A semi-opaque gel textured serum with wrinkle smoothing properties. I'm on my second jar and I have another in my reserves. I noticed an improvement in my skin almost immediately after using this - smoother, clearer and brighter. And dare I say those late-20s early fine lines are being kept at bay.

Omorovicza Balancing Moisturizer - My newest addition, and an immediate hit. This keeps my skin moisturized but not greasy, and makeup sits comfortably on top. It's balancing as it claims, but a bit early to tell whether this it's worth the small fortune.

REN Active 7 Radiant Eye Gel - I got this in a holiday gift with purchase and thought I'd give it a go. I was worried as a gel it wouldn't be moisturizing enough but surprisingly, it does a descent job. Though I haven't seen any other benefits. If I can stomach the price tag I think I'll be returning to my beloved Zelens Triple Action Advanced Eye Cream which is the only eye product that has ever improved my dark circles.

So there we have it. A lengthy roundup of all of the potions I use in the AM before facing the world.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Top 13 of 2013

New year, new blog. What better way to start than re-capping the year that just was? An edit of products that were new to me in 2013 and have managed to come out tops.


Face/Base

When my skin is looking good the rest just falls into place. The Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser does its job without stripping, removes pesky mascara without burning my eyes, rinses clean, and visibly improves the size of my pores. It's not cheap but a little goes a long way. The YSL Youth Liberator Serum Foundation is a latecomer to the party but is worth all the recent hype - a long lasting, non-cakey, well-covering satin finish foundation that looks neither oily nor drying by the end of a long work day. A few brands stepped up their game with powders this year - most notable for me was the Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder, which manages to set and mattify makeup without ever looking flat, built-up or cakey. The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders (I have Diffused Light and the LE Holiday Palette) impart a perfectly flattering blurring effect to the skin.

Almost too good to be true...

My new favourite eyeshadow palette, the Chanel Ombres Matelassees in Charming for Holiday 2013 is gorgeous in form, colour and texture. I literally can't fault it and am so happy I decided to splurge. A shockingly expensive remedy to my fine, flat hair - the Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray is unfortunately, worth a re-purchase. The Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick in Icon finally took the anxiety out of sporting a dark vampy red lip. A liquid lacquer that won't budge, bleed or transfer in a comfortable matte finish. The Escada Cherry in the Air EDT is an unlikely favourite for me but I just can't get enough of this warm fruity/sweet scent - the sandalwood base brings it down to earth and it's addictively good. The Diptyque Écorce de Pin (Pine Bark) LE Christmas Candle filled the void of not having a real Christmas tree and then some. This burnt all festive season, has a serious scent throw and has earned the status of a Christmas tradition from this point forward. Just wish I didn't have to wait until next year...

Summer Lovin'

Thinking of summer is akin to self-inflicted torture when the reality is January in Copenhagen. Nonetheless, I exercised my memory to round out these yearly favourites. I'm pale and for the most part I've learned to embrace it. Travel to a Mediterranean island for holiday though, and it only human to want to avoid blinding the other beach-goers. My first foray into self tanning products since a full-on disaster at age 12, I found the Clarins Liquid Bronze Self Tanning for Face natural-looking, non-streaky, and foolproof to apply. It did not break me out and can be used over other skincare. Easy. The summer-cream blush pairing has never made sense to my combo/oily skin. Until the release of Dior's Diorblush Cheek Cremes. The bolder colours were a bit patchy and hard to blend, but Capri, a yellow-toned light pink lent a stay-all-day brightening flush with no signs of greasiness or tackiness. Another staple was Dior's Diorskin Rosy Glow Blush - a cool toned light pink powder blush that I wore either on its own or over Capri almost all summer long. Last but not least, Maison Martin Margiela REPLICA: Beach Walk was my go-to fragrance. It captures all the typical scents reminiscent of a beach holiday without being too overwhelming or in-your-face to wear on a day out in the city.

2013 was a crazy year which began with a move from Melbourne to Copenhagen! 2014 is already off to a rocking start, sure to be filled with some fun finds and a new blog to boot. Follow my blog with Bloglovin