31 January 2013

Valentine's Day Guide to Men's Fragrances

With Valentine's around the corner, it's time to start thinking about gifts (unless you're Ben and I in which case we're just shelling out for a posh meal somewhere - go foodies!) for your other half. In the past 4 years I've noticed that Ben has been on a cycle of the same perfumes (with a small interval of JOOP! in our first year at uni), so I thought I'd get him to order his favourites and let you guys know - perhaps narrow the spectrum if you will, of the male perfumes we fail to sniff when we're too busy with our Burberrys, MJs and Muglers.. oops.

5. Bvlgari Aqva for Men
The first perfume I ever got him, I'm quite disappointed it's only ranked 5th! I joke. For me, this is both marine fresh and sophisticated, and I think it has a clean edge to it without being zesty or like cleaning products. A perfect choice for the younger professional men, but appropriate for any situation for any one. Ben concurs.

4. Ralph Lauren The Big Pony Collection 3
Definitely the most casual scent out of Ben's lot, this maintains a sporty edge to an otherwise quite classy scent. Ben says he wears it more for social occasions than work which I can whole-heartedly agree as the right choice. Appropriate for anyone up to their 40's in my opinion!

3. Paco Rabanne Black XS
The Black XS has, in comparison to the rest, more of a muskier tone. It's quite manly, buff and edgy and more suited for the 'lads' - or rather, younger men in their 20's and early 30's in my opinion. Ben wears it for all occasions, but I personally would class it as a night time scent!

2. Chanel Bleu de Chanel
This is my second favourite of the lot after Bvlgari, but one of the priciest! This is a classy man-smell at its best, and while I would still say it's in the fresh category, it's much more nuanced - it has a delicate edge because of its citrusy notes, and a deepness from the woody tones it leave behind. I'd say it's appropriate for most ages! 

1. Acqua di Parma Colonia

Ben's most recent acquisition (from yours truly!), the Acqua di Parma Colonia is top notch sophistication - it has a very soapy base scent, with hints of bergamot and other herby tones. This is one for any man who wants to be seen as composed and mature, and is truly indiscriminate as to age!

So there you have it - Ben's top 5 fragrances! I know some people think gifting perfumes can be a bit generic, but I think it can also be extremely personal if there's a reason you choose that particular scent! If any of these sound like your guy's cuppa tea, Ben can highly recommend them - and so can I! After all, you'll end up smelling it quite a lot yourself ;) My personal favourite though? Bvlgari ;)

What scent does your other half usually use?
What's your favourite men's scent?


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27 January 2013

Au Naturel(ish) Lips

Ask me a year ago today when the last time I'd worn a lipgloss was, and I probably wouldn't have even bothered to think - "too long ago to remember" would be the jist you could expect! But things suddenly flipped over a few months ago, and I've just been loving that fresh, youthful and natural look, amongst other things like not having to apply lip balm, because the products were constantly nourishing my lips. My lips have never been in better condition in this blistering cold!

The four products I've been loving in particular are the ones you see above - Dior Addict Lipstick in Miss Dior 343, Shu Uemura x Karl Lagerfeld Rouge Unlimited in Parisienne Pink, L'Oreal Glamshine (Miss Candy) lipgloss in Pink Treat*, and Chanel Levres Scintillante in Coral Love 146. Out of the four, I've reached most for the latter two.

The two lipglosses have earnt their place in my bag because despite being lipglosses, they both have a nice level of pigmentation - something I think is difficult to find in lipglosses! The L'Oreal gives me a nice tinge of peachy pink, and the Chanel gives me a nice apricot tone to my lips.

As lovely as the L'Oreal Glamshines are, Chanel puts it into a sharp contrast of how 'drugstore' Glamshines are. L'Oreal glitter is kinda chunky and noticeable on the lips, and it has no apparent benefits to your lips - but I use it because of the pigmentation and lovely formula.

Chanel, on the other hand, is a great consistency which isn't so watery that it's sliding everywhere and gone in a second, but not so gloopy that it's hard to open your mouth. It's firm enough to last a long time, and what's more, my lips are never chapped when I use this even when it's gone (in my tummy - yuck). I'm pretty convinced it has some sort of skincare benefits in there somewhere! The glitters are small enough to not be felt, but seen - it really brightens up your lips! Definitely eyeing up another shade from Chanel!

The Dior lipstick has always been a favourite, because it's basically a heavily tinted lip balm. It actually deposits colour and gives me a nice peach lip without looking too fake and in yo' face. It's conditioning and lovely, and super easy to use.

The Shu lippy is a relatively new addition, and one that is more oil-based and equally as nourishing as the Dior and Chanel. It's more of a baby pink which is nice for everyday. Both have the great quality of getting rid of chapped lips in the long run, and as a result, I haven't really reached for lip balm outside the house this year!

You can probably see in the swatches below why I love these for that au naturel look. They are all various levels of glossy, but have enough pigment to have an effect on my rather pigmented lips. They also work really well with each other, and I can create loads of different looks with just these 4 products :)

Dior, Chanel, Shu Uemura x Karl Lagerfeld, L'Oreal 

Dior, Chanel, Shu Uemura x Karl Lagerfeld, L'Oreal 
My make up bag has been a second home to all four lip products, and while others come and go, these four have been in there for a while now! They are moisturising and conditioning for my lips, and they deliver that youthful, fresh and juicy look that I'm absolutely loving! :)

Are you a gloss girl or a lipstick girl?
Or perhaps in between?
What have you been loving on your lips?


*The L'Oreal Glamshine was received for consideration.
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24 January 2013

The Dermo Dilemma

Skincare is a mystery to many of us - we're not quite sure how it works, we think we know what our skin needs, but really, we're going off the bits and bobs we hear from our friends, family and from the media like blogs and magazines. Everyone is blessed with something, but for many of us including myself, skin is not one of them.

As you may have guessed from previous posts, my major concern about my skin is my adult acne - hormonal acne, it's sometimes called. And no matter how much reading I do, I can never really grasp what products will work and what I really need to do. I used to have concerns about being incredibly oily or my acne scars lingering for a very long time, but those are things I've since then overcome through choosing the right skincare products.

2 summers ago, I put my foot down regarding the ongoing eruptions of volcanoes acne on my chin - I was 20 and these spots were going nowhere. So my mom took me to the dermatologist in Japan, and the doctor gave me Vitamin B tablets and some ointments. The ointments did nothing, but the tablets did okay. To be honest with you, I still think cod liver oil does a better job. And so my faith in dermatologists really kind of plummeted.

But there's always a part of me that wonders if I was just unlucky. There are always dentists and doctors that just don't work for you or are no good, and perhaps it's the same with dermatologists. But then there's another side of me that's like - if you overcame your oiliness and acne scars by yourself through research and learning about products, then maybe soon, you'll come across a solution for your scars (and I have to say, the Murad Time Release Acne Cleanser may be the one!). Or, you'll just stop getting them - I'm 22 for goodness sake, they have to stop SOME time don't they?!

Another option I've wondered about are those chain dermatologists, like sk:n. When you hear things like the hard sell that leads to boob-jobs gone wrong and massive law suits against cosmetic surgeons, you wonder if seeing a dermatologist that treats other kinds of rare, and more serious skin diseases is the same as seeing a dermatologist that is focused on beauty and anti-aging, which let's face it, isn't as serious as it gets. Or would somewhere like sk:n give you more time and attention for non-grievous skin conditions than someone that has graver problems to worry about (you know, the ones that might roll your eyes at you - rightly so - because his poor previous patient had been permanently scarred from a fire perhaps.. but then again, acne has been linked to low self confidence, and I can vouch for that!), and who isn't necessarily a specialist in spots/anti-aging/whatever?

I'd like to think so - I mean, sk:n is a massive company, I adore their Aloe Vera Gel, and an acne treatment at sk:n does not come cheap at a consultation coming free (but we've all heard about the hard sell/improper disclosure of risks etc., at cosmetic surgeons right?), but one treatment being £105 and 6 treatments at £450 on sale. If the results were guaranteed, and I'd had friends with success stories, I'd be less inquisitive. But I haven't personally met anyone whose had these things done.

For me, I want a treatment plan that when I get it done, it works and that's it - I don't have to worry about it again. That's my problem with cod liver oil and cleansers - I have to keep taking it everyday, and if I stop, BOOM. Acne central. So it's not REALLY fixing the problem, is it? If I get these treatments and keep taking pills, but one day I know I'll have to go back to square one to solve the root problem - what's the point of shelling out? Why shouldn't I just keep spending money on trying different skincare products? Is a traditional dermatologist the way to go?

Enough of me and my rambling, what are your thoughts?
Have you thought about seeing a dermatologist, and if so, what kind?
In fact, have you ever seen a dermatologist and how did it go?

*Sponsored post.
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17 January 2013

Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation

"No make up make up" or "no foundation foundation" - many girls, including myself, have the aspiration to just look like you've rolled out of bed looking shit hot. But let's face it, most of us want something on there anyway to fake it ;) Perricone MD formulated a foundation for just that, and I had a chance to give it a whirl - the Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation.

So some basic facts first. This product only comes in one shade (alarm bells? Mine too) as it has shade adaptation technology, and it's meant to add a glow to your skin to make you look naturally lovely and healthy. In theory, that's great because that's what we want right? But as it always seems to come down to with products like this on the market - you've got to have the basics to make these things work.

What I mean by that is that you have to already have pretty damn good skin - which we all know, I don't. I have acne scarring, and more so now that my cheeks which had never seen a spot in their lives, have decided to break out as well. If you have freckles you like to cover (God knows why, they're so cute!), or said acne scars the No Foundation Foundation will do absolutely 0. Below a tinted moisturiser, it's more like Germolene - you see the pink, but once you rub it in, it's not that pink anymore.. sad times.

What the No Foundation Foundation definitely does do though, is add glow. I'm not quite sure how it does it, but it adds a healthy tinge of warmth and a strange sort of pearlescent glow which you may or may not be able to see in the swatch above - it's just not completely flat and has that kind of light reflecting property without being glittery. It's also good for minor minor discolourations (i.e. just to even out your skin a little bit) and it also has the great properties of being paraben-free and with SPF30. On areas where I have no problems i.e. tops of my cheeks - this product is fab. 

But it seems me and NFF were not meant to be. Afterall, I do have horrible acne scarring and this foundation does have the texture for a dry skinned gal (although the brand website says it's suitable for all skintypes, I'm quite skeptical!) - it feels like it has a bit of oil in it that leaves you with a dewy finish, and while I'm sure it will nourish the parched my skin is oiled up as it is.

At £47, it's not my kinda thing. For a person with a scarred up face, I do like my share of low coverage and do embrace my skin from time to time - but this is just a step too dangerous for the poor people who would have to look upon me that day! The Perricone MD No Founation Foundation is something I'd recommend to someone with near perfect skin, or people who want a tint in their SPF and usually don't wear foundation. I would also recommend giving it a sniff and a shade check before you purchase - the smell is slightly odd.. For girls, like myself, who are far from the finish line in terms of our skin woes - it's probably best to wait until you run through that ribbon!

What low coverage base do you enjoy?

*Received for consideration.
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14 January 2013

Karmin G3 Salon Pro Hair Straightener

Perhaps until I was about 19, straighteners were the way to go. Call me retro, but sometimes I do think the sleek look of stick-straight hair is really quite pretty - perhaps "bold" is the better term! And we all know by now that actually, a straightener can also curl and wave!

Anyway, I was thrown back into my teenage years when I had the chance to try these straighteners (although on a mission to make the straight look suit me at 22!) - the Karmin G3 Salon Pro Hair Straightener. Having limited myself in the past to an incredibly crappy Revlon pair during high school, and a good pair of Babyliss straighteners until now, I was pretty excited to try these snazzy salon-quality straighteners.

In terms of what you get, the specs seem to be top notch. Firstly, you can choose between black, pink and white. It comes in a zip-up case which has a velcro attachment of a heat mat. The plates are 100% pure tourmaline ceramic plates (which I'm assuming is a good thing..?), it has ion field technology which seals in the natural oils in your hair, it has negative ions and infrared heat which means it removes static, the cord is a swivel model, and you can control the temperature with a dial up too 400 degrees farenheit. The product switches off automatically after one hour, it has drop safe technology and you also get a 3 year guarantee - all of which I think is brilliant. The only thing I noticed with this product that was slightly unfortunate was that the plug is not a British plug - but a simple converter will do the trick as it has worldwide voltage of 100-240V. You can see more of the details here.

So what are the effects? See for yourself..



The thing that I noticed about using the Karmin G3 was the fact that it was incredibly easy. The swivel cord is a godsend, and the buttons are all placed so that none of them are accidentally pressed during use. The plates are very smooth, and even when curling my hair, nothing ever got caught in the edges of the plates. The tips are cool enough so that you can hold on to it, and the product is incredibly lightweight and relatively small, so it's easy to maneuver around your hair. The one thing that I would've liked is some sort of indication that the straightener had heated to the temperature you had set it to. So sometimes, I would start using it too soon and found my hair to not become as straight as quickly as I'd like it to. Generally though, I didn't find the heat as hot or as fast as a ghd.

I suppose that's the big question - how do they compare to ghds? Although I have never owned a pair of ghds, I've used them a fair few times and from what I've experienced, I felt ghd's heat up quicker and are easier and faster for this sleek, straight look. But correct me if I'm wrong, but don't ghds not have temperature control? Which is probably why I was worried about making mistakes, or my hair looking TOO straight when I didn't want them to - Karmin is probably better if you want that range of options. I also felt like ghds were heavier. In terms of price, the Karmin G3 is cheaper at £99.95 with free delivery to anywhere in the world (I think ghds if with the pouch etc., is usually around £135), and it comes with a 3 years guarantee as opposed to 2 years with ghds.

There's no question that these straighteners do their job, whether that be curling or straightening and I also noticed that my hair stayed that straight for the whole day without hair spray which I was very impressed by (you guys know I hate extra hair products!). Something else I noticed was that they made your hair very very smooth. I've really been liking these to straighten out kinks and add a bit of a curl at the ends of my hair after stumbling out of bed! And although I usually don't wear my hair stick straight, I quite like the sleek look for perhaps fancy dinners and ponytails.

Can I recommend the Karmin G3? I certainly can. They're fab straighteners that have all the useful features of a straighteners, like temperature control, auto switch-off, swivel cords, drop safe technology, and they are lightweight and super easy to use. More than anything, they do the job! (and they're pretty to look at..)

Do you straighten your hair, or are you more of a curls girl?
If so, do you curl with straighteners of a curling iron?


*Received for consideration.
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10 January 2013

My Most Worn Blushes of 2012

Unlike most other categories of make-up, blush is something I stick to and wear the same shade of every single day for a long period of time until I get bored. During that time, I often can't bring myself to wear anything else - I just feel like I look wrong if I do! So blush is a bit of a funny thing for me, and I treat it very differently to other categories of make up.

Obviously, as a bit of a blush fiend, I did dabble around for a week or two inbetween them, perhaps most notably in NARS Sin, MUA Cream Blush in Blossom and currently, NARS Douceur. But there were four which I wore for the majority of the year.. and they may be quite predictable with my Blush Crush posts, but nonetheless, here is a round up of my most worn blushes of 2012 :) (Swatches at the end!)

MAC Blush in Style
(The Fall blush)

Although the oldest blush in my collection (circa 2009 - eep!) Style stayed completely untouched for a very long time as I began blogging and trying lots of other things. My biggest issue with it was that I felt like the golden frost overpowered the not-so-pigmented peach. Cue me starting to use the MAC 109 for blusher (which picks up and lays down a lot more colour), and after a few months it clicked, and Style made a massive comeback around fall of 2012 when I couldn't wear anything else. It brightens, warms up and livens up your skin. The frost is perfect for the fall when everything's starting to look a bit dull! I'm not a massive fan of MAC blush formulas in general, but this is the only one that blends and lasts to my satisfaction! As you can see, it has gone back to being very very loved after a very long time!

Clarins Illuminating Cheek Colour in Miami Pink 03
(The Winter blush)

I went through a huge Clarins phase at the end of 2011 and this blusher was one of my first purchases of 2012 and the main blusher I wore around this time last year. I didn't really have a pink blusher at the time, and this warm pink looked perfect. It comes with two shades - something slightly lighter with tiny shimmers, and a completely matte and darker pink. You can use these separately, but I tend to swirl them together for a youthful warm pink which doesn't look powdery at all despite the matte finish - and perfect for the "just got in from the cold!" blush. Having warm-toned skin, a pink blusher can pull blue and look unnatural (edgy and cool, but not natural) but this seems to be the right shade! I find the blush well pigmented and soft to blend - I've had my eyes on another shade from this range for a while, it shows I love the formula as much as the colour :)

Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Blissful
(The Spring blush)

I literally could not get enough of this during the spring! For me, Blissful is the perfect cocktail with the right amount of pink with a shot of peach added in for good measure. Although it's a matte texture, it doesn't look powdery and it's just the right brightness to light up your face but not look OTT. It lifts your face and adds crazy glow and dimension, and it looks great with very neutral and understated eyeshadow. Although I don't think it lasts as long as the name claims (24hrs I think?!), it lasts a working day and it definitely doesn't wear away patchy. It also blends easily onto your cheeks and you can't beat value for money - mine looks untouched!

NARS Blush in Torrid
(The Summer blush)

Another shade that sat unloved for about a year before I fell head over heels for it! This shade is a red/orange based coral that again - brightens up your cheeks and adds a glow to your face. I wore this quite a lot in the summer as it has that coral tinge that works well with the warmth (I use "warmth" in a very relative and liberal sense here - I am in London after all!), but it's not SO bright that it looks clown-like. The summer that I first got it, I had such a tan that my skin was quite pink-toned and that's when I didn't like it so I would recommend this more for the warm-toned ladies out there. As for formula - in my opinion, you can't go wrong with a NARS blush. I absolutely love them - they're blendable, long-lasting, just the right amount of pigmentation (crazy pigmentation drives me mad as I find it so hard to use!) and I think I've acquired about 6 now.. oops. 

L to R: MAC Style, Clarins Miami Pink, Tarte Blissful, NARS Torrid

Now that I look back on them, you probably wont believe I used them so much as they all look practically new (except Style, haha)! They are on the expensive side of blushers but as you can see, you get bang for your buck.

I did hop from one to another over the year obviously, and I think that's probably because I was adjusting my blush with how my skintone changed from warmer to cooler, from lighter to darker. For me, these all lifted my complexion, added a healthy colour to my cheeks and added a glow to my face that I couldn't get enough of! There's no doubt at all that these were the four most lovingly used blushers for me in 2012! :)

What were your most worn blushers last year?

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6 January 2013

My Favourite Foundations of 2012

If there's one item of make-up I can never get enough of, it's foundation - and it's no secret! I think I've read enough reviews on most high end foundations that I can tell you a bit about each of them!

My nerdiness aside, it seems that in 2012, some of my most popular videos and blog posts were my reviews of foundation. So it was only natural that I wriggled uncomfortably in my seat as my mouse hovered over the "Publish" button of what I had forcefully declared as my top 3 products of the year. It felt wrong, forced and unreflective of my 2012. Instead of stubbornly sticking to tradition, I decided to scrap it and do only what I felt I could honestly declare - my favourite foundations of 2012! There's no better feeling than doing what you really want to do, ey?! ;) So in no particular order, here they are..

Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Eclat
I fell in love with this foundation back in September when my skin decided to go through a drought. It was the only foundation that smoothed over my dry patches and brought a glow to my face. I haven't been able to justify purchasing this in full size yet, but it'll undoubtedly be the next one on the list!

MAC Studio Fix Fluid
A saviour when my skin erupts (yes my skin has all kinds of natural disasters going on), this foundation provides the flawless base I need yet maintains that semi-matte finish I want. I wrote a post on how I apply this to do that - it's definitely not the masky foundation many people say it is!

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua
I think this was the foundation I used the most this year. When it says, "skin-perfecting foundation" it really means just that. It has a natural level of coverage and just seems to add that oomph to your skin to make it look glowy, perfected, polished but you :) It's by no means drying but it's great for the summer when I don't want any more hydration than I already do on my face. Click here for a full review and a video application.

Maybelline FIT Me Foundation
I wrote about the dream team this foundation makes with the famous Real Techniques Buffing Brush here. This has a very similar finish to YSL but with more oil control, despite being slightly more hydrating and with a bit more coverage. It's fab for the autumn for me!

Lunasol Skin Modelling Water Cream Foundation
The newest in my foundation collection, and one of the hottest foundations in Japan at the moment, this is something between a gel and a cream. The blendability of this product will blow you out of the water - I never knew such a texture was possible! It has a nice amount of coverage and leaves a nice dewy finish and a glow. Very similar to the YSL in many ways, but I think this has a bit more coverage and hydration, which will come in extremely handy in these winter months!

L to R: YSL, MAC, Chanel, Maybelline, Lunasol.

As you can see, 2012 for me was all about the skin-like finish with the appropriate hydration for my skin and the right amount of coverage for that time of year. The YSL and Lunasol are perfect for when my skin is dry, as they both hydrate and somehow turn dry, dull skin into glowing skin. The Chanel is great for the summer, when I don't need hydration. The Maybelline is an essential for the autumn when my skin needs that balanced amount of hydration. And all four give skin-like finishes that is natural, smooth and glowy with varied amounts of coverage - all falling into the low to medium category. And the MAC will always be there for those pesty acne and their scars!

2012 was the year of bases. I tried so so many - The Body Shop, CoverFX, Estee Lauder, Dr. Jart+, BareMinerals.. too many to count! But these 5 were definitely the stars. Some, I feel, have even joined the ranks of the Diorskin Forever which used to be my one and only favourite! But as needs and tastes change throughout the year (I definitely got more normal skin this year!), it's always difficult to figure out which ones I'll still be on about in a year's time.. I suppose we'll have to see! But until then, I can fully and honestly recommend the 5 I've spoken about today :)

Were any of these your favourites this year too?
What were your favourite bases this year?


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