1. 6. Grayburn: October 2008 7.


Retro Lush & Breakups

Lush and I had a fallout a while back but it was mainly my fault. I gave it too much attention and I was at the point of down right infat- uation and obsession. Not healthy at all!

If you have followed Lush's products over time, you know that they have stopped producing some of their gush-worthy items and others that were rumored to have existed but very few of us ever got to experience (you can see some of them here). The Retro Lush items were my drug but more specifically, the drug went by the name of Aqua Mirablis Underwater (the Retro version, pictured above).

My first dab into Lush was a refrigerated tub of their fresh Cupcake facial mask which instantly had my senses tingling with glee and skin bouncing with vitality. And then I met the aforementioned drug which we'll now just call AMU. AMU was a little bar of powdered solid body butter topped with marigold petals. It really was what soft smooth skin's made of. With sandalwood oil, rose absolute and gardenia extract, it was a scent made for dreary days.

I used to have a bathing ritual using AMU. First, I filled my bathtub with warm water. Then I rubbed AMU all over wet skin, as the ground almond shells exfoliated away all unflattering flakes. AMU had a spell over me and made the usually unglamorous job of exfoliation feel luxurious. Final step - I would sit in the warm water until the water started to cool. Heaven I tell you! The combination of exfoliation, heat, water and cocoa butter transformed my skin every time.

When I heard rumors that they were discontinuing production of AMU in that format, I became an addict that feared not having her substance. I began to hoard and bought all displayed bars of AMU at one time, and, even sent friends overseas to collect more for me. I was so frightened of what a disappointment the new Aqua Mirablis was going to be.

As you all know that Lush' products are natural based, they have only a certain amount of shelf-life. Well, my bars of AMU began to turn rancid (after about a year though). It got to the point that I actually had to unwillingly dispose of them. What a horror that was! After that point I never wanted to step into Lush again in fear of experiencing heart-break like that again.

It has been 3 years since then and I finally stepped into a Lush store the other day with BFOG by my side. As I stood inside the store, it all felt somehow familiar but different. I walked by the the hall of the soaps and when I reached the body butters where the new AMU now sits (it used to be in the bath melt section), I only 'eyed' the new AMU (pictured above).

BFOG and I walked out of the store with a bag of goodies and big grins on our faces. With my renewed happy and healthier attitude with Lush, I am happy to say that I will be sharing my thoughts on a few of their products with you shortly.

Any Lush fans out there? Want to share your thoughts on your Lush favs or boos? Please do!
Oh and Happy Halloween!

Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use), lush.com


Beauty Adventure - Madara ecoface

I love to tread in unfamiliar beauty territory. If there is ever the chance to discover something new and beauty-related, I'm there! It wouldn't matter if I had to oar my way across a river just to sample a rare youth serum or bargain with a man in a foreign language (with the common phrases section of the Lonely Planet guide open in my hand).

I was in Latvia and although strolling around in a shopping center is nothing overly adventurous, there were quite some unfamiliar beauty brands that lined the shelves. I felt my pupils dilate as I rubbed my hands together in greed when I entered the main floor of the shopping center which was covered almost entirely by the beauty department.

What I noticed was the sheer volume of 'natural' products on offer. One of the brands that stood out from the rest was a locally produced company called Madara. The company believes that the skin "has the inherent wisdom and ability to use the necessary active substances from each plant. High levels of active ingredients – such as extracts and oils – from plants harvested in the Baltic regionare included in all products.". I was completely drawn by their simple yet hygienic packaging, and the fact that none of their products contain synthetic preservatives, artificial fragrances or colors. According to their labels, some of the medicinal plants and herbs are even harvested following the lunar phases (I respect that!).

I eagerly tested all their products and narrowed my purchase down to the Madara ecoface Regenerating Cream, which is a night cream designed for all skin types. Bare with me as I copy information about the cream from their website and paste it below :

"Nourishes the skin and revives its radiance and beauty during sleep.
Natural plant and flower anti-oxidants prevent the aging process and the formation of wrinkles. Created with love using jojoba and avocado base oils, cocoa butter, extracts of barley sprouts, tomatoes, hop, algae, plantain, camomile, calendula and sea buckthorn oil, all harvested in the Baltic region, as well as gentle natural enzymes.

Tomato – contains carotenoids, including the red pigment lycopene - one of the most potent anti-oxidants. Carotenoids protect skin from free radicals, slowing down aging processes. Neutralizes UV ray damage of the previous day. Lycopene also has anti-cancer activity. Decreases allergic reactions.
Barley sprout – One of the richest sources of natural vitamins, minerals and amino acids, all of which exhibit powerful antioxidant properties. Destroys toxins harmful to skin and neutralizes free radicals. Has anti-inflammatory and anti-mutagenic properties. Stimulates the healing process, softens skin.
Hop – Delays aging processes thanks to a gentle estragenic activity. Softens and strengthens skin, prevents inflammations.
Sea Buckthorn – rich source of vitamins, especially vitamin E anti-oxidant. Palmitic acid is a natural component of skin, thus softening and enriching skin cells with the necessary substances, promoting skin’s regeneration. A natural UV filter.
Seaweed – Creates skin protective complex and improves skin elasticity. Improves cell metabolism and excess water elimination from body tissues, decreasing swelling.
Plantain – stimulates collagen synthesis. Renews damaged skin cells, creates a protective and moisturizing layer on skin. Aids in eliminating excess water from body tissue, decreasing swelling.
Chamomile – stimulates collagen synthesis. Has anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, calming and cell regenerating properties.
Marigold – has antiseptic properties, treats various skin problems. Destroys free radicals.
Avocado oil – able to deeply penetrate the skin transporting the necessary anti-oxidants and other active substances. Has moisturizing, healing, anti-bacterial, anti-wrinkle properties. Stimulates collagen synthesis, thus delaying aging signs and visibly softening skin. Creates a velvety feel of the skin.

INCI / ingredients:
Aqua, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil1, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil1, Glycerin (Vegetable)2, Saccharide Isomerate2, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley Germ) Extract, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn Berry) Extract, Lycopersicum Esculentum (Tomato) Extract, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter, Algae Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hop) Extract, Cetearyl Alcohol, Plantago Major (Plantain Leaf) Extract, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula Flower) Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Camomile Flower) Extract, Glucose, Cetearyl Glucoside, Allantoin2, Glucose Oxidase3, Lactoperoxidase3, Stearic Acid, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Aroma4, Limonene4, Linalool4
1 Certified organic
2 Natural moisturising agents
3 Natural enzymes
4 Ingredients of natural essential oils

I mean, have you ever seen such a huge list of natural ingredients combined in such an interesting way? Reading this information was already a skincare lesson in itself. You see why I had to get this!

Did it deliver? Well, yes and no. It feels nourishing and proofs itself to be a great moisture-izer to the skin. The hygienic pump bottle delivers a dose of its peach-tint cream enough to cover the entire face and neck. However, I have yet to find out its anti-aging properties as I admittedly have yet to used the cream continuously for more than 3 nights in a row. Why? I blame my keen sense of smell. Every time I apply this cream expecting the usual 'herbal' scent of any common natural product, I get instead a whiff of tomato paste. Call me a spoiled sport if you will but I think I am going to have to let this cream do its magic only on my neck!

Any natural products you want to rave about or share your thoughts on? Please leave them in comments!

Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use), madara.lt


Haute Parfumerie - Feerie

It was dark outside. We walked by the perfumery. I glanced over at the shimmering display and my eyes fixated on this bottle.

Van Cleef & Arpels Haute Parfumerie Feerie
Top notes black currant buds, Italian mandarin and violet leaves.
Heart notes violet, Bulgarian rose and Egyptian jasmine.
Dry down notes Haitian vetiver and Florentine orris butter.

I instantly succumbed to its mystical and dreamy powers. As if I was staring into the crystal water where the Lady of the Lake lies.

I made sure BFOG heard my cries for this midnight bottle.

Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use), Van Cleef & Arpels

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize!

If there is one thing we must do for our lips, it is to take care of them to ensure that they stay plump for as long as possible. What to do? Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!

The thing I love most about Silk Naturals' lip products is that they are petrochemicals-free. In our lifetime of wearing lipsticks and balms, we will consume an average of about 4-6 pounds of lip products. So if that is going to happen, we might as well be eating Silk Naturals' lippies since theirs are made of ingredients such as avocado oil and shea butter.

SN's line of lip products include the liquid lip gloss (applied with a doe-foot applicator), solid lip gloss (twist-up and organic), lip sticks (twist-up and organic) and Kiss Bliss demi gloss (pigment of a lipstick but with shine of a gloss). My collection currently contains 4 solid lip glosses and 1 limited edition (Color For a Cure) solid lip gloss. What I have noticed with these glosses is that the colors are extremely wearable no matter which one it is. The comfort level of wearing these pigmented lip colors is extreme and these babies condition my lips better than anything I have tried. As much as I would love to slather on the ultimate lip product that is La Mer's "The Lip Balm", being able to SPEND on things other than lip balm seems more justifiable. Now SN's lippies are packaged in a skinny tube (see 1st photo) with printed sticker labels (perhaps not the fanciest), but they retail for only 4.25 usd each. They are so good that I even wear them to bed at night.

Read on for color description of my current lineup of SN lippies (which is expecting to grow substansially in the near future):

Sweet Nothing - Similar to Skinny Dip below but slightly darker. No shimmer. I wear this on my top lip.

Skinny Dip - Natural, daytime mauve that seems to just enhance my pigmented lips ever so slightly. Satin finish. I wear this on my bottom lip.

Rhonda - Described as a shimmery lavender but does not apply 'old money' as I had imagined it might. This one surprised me. It looks great paired with purple-y eyes.

Birthday Suit - SN calls this the "Ultimate Nude Lippie". The color looks like it belongs on my olive/golden skin tone. I normally prefer a paler nude lipstick (my heart belongs to MAC's 3N lipstick) but I favor this for times when I want some color.

Monarch (LE) - Contains the luxuriousness of 23k gold edible leaf, apricot kernel wax, cranberry seed oil, passionfruit oil, camellia oil. Touted as the most luxurious lippie collection so far by SN. The color is a warm gold and very wearable by different skin tones for night time.

My male readers should not fret. Silk Naturals also make a clear balm to make sure your lips stay kissable as well.

Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use), silknaturals.com


Mark Your Calendar- Comme des Garcons @ H&M

In stores November 13th. Comme des Garcons has collaborated with H&M to make their fashion concepts accessible to those of us who normally cannot afford the pleasure of their pieces. Don't expect current trends as you fight your way into the H&M store come the 13th. Comme des Garcons has a unique flare all of their own. The mix of their signature pieces, different fabric and pocket placements, polka dots and intelligent tailoring will make this collection one of the most saught after @ H&M.

I am especially psyched about the polka dots pieces, their men's collection and am immensely curious about their perfume.

Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use), hm.com


Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre

I learn so much when I hear others gush about their beauty favorites. Going on the advice of the fabulous lady at Make Do & Mend, I went for the biggest tube of Embryolisse I could find when I was in Paris. I had a feeling this one would not disappoint seeing that it has achieved cult status amongst makeup artists and been on the must-have list in many beauty magazines.

Embryolisse is a French creation. Ok, the company's name implies and brings to mind something perhaps a little odd. But the brand itself having been around for nearly 60 years, and, has been recommended for use by doctors because of its simple yet effective formulation. After having sold more than 10 000 000 tubes by 2007, the company launched their saught after limited 'vintage edition' of their ever famous Lait-Creme Concentre.

The tube holds a milky cream fluid that has a versatile texture which just sinks and settle into the skin well. It promises 24-hrs of hydration and it has not yet broken that promise (I have been using it for nearly 2 months). Whilst the milky cream has a soft floral scent, even the more sensitive skin types seem to do well with it. I have seen it work well on those with normal, oily, dry, or scaly skin and the creamy fluid makes a fantastic moist prep for makeup, protection against chap, and as a nurturing layer at night to seal moisture in the skin. The product is also capable of aiding in shaving and cleansing facial skin.

Perhaps I would try those other uses for the milky cream if I had more of it. But with only 1 tube at my disposal, I am reserving it for emergency use only.

The Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre is sold in many parts of the world (including US & Canada). I found my giant tube in a pharmacy in Montparnasse in Paris for around 10 euros. Surprised at the humble price tag? That is why I will be hoarding tubes of this my next visit to France and I will be searching high and low for the limited edition vintage tubes.

Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use)


Sing & Get Glowing - Agyness Deyn And The Five O'Clock Heroes

This song is getting under my skin.

I am devotee of cranking up the volume on my laptop and playing sing along. When my mood is good and I am happy, the glow seems to return to my skin. For this particular song, I deliberately sing Agyness's part higher pitched than her. It is a lot of fun!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Credit: (Terms of Use), youtube.com


Playing Dress-Up

This decorative mask is homemade and a wonderful craft project waiting to happen. Not only is it easy on the wallet as it uses scraps of fabric from old outfits/jeans waiting to be donated, the addition of an eye mask on top of a painted face adds even more drama for Halloween. Embellish the mask with buttons and costume jewelry as you like and according to the look you are going for.

I will sport the mask this year but in autumn hues using an old pair of deep ruby velvet pants and pairing that with a pair of smoking hot ruby lips. Smoky green liner will be dragged around the outlines of my eyes to finish the look.

Instead of attempting to sew the pieces together like this article calls for, I will use fabric glue. The thought of pulling out my dusty sewing machine and trying to remember how to thread it isn't personally a pleasant one. But if you are already up on your sewing skills, then it may be the better option since it produces a softer mask.

Credit: Grayburn
(Terms of Use), Craft Magazine


Beauty Salon Dimensions, Make-Up Studio

I visited the Beauty Salon Dimensions, a trade show for those in the beauty and cosmetics industry a few weeks back. The show was held in Utrecht, a charming part of the Netherlands known for the restaurants that line the edges of the city's main canal.

The show itself saw an enormous number of visitors and I was bowled over by the amount of exhibitors there. I saw heavy traffic especially in Make-Up Studio and Opi's show areas. All exhibitors at the show offered some sort of discounts and most offered products at almost bulk purchase prices. I should have known that I would come back with my hands full and should have brought my luggage with me to hold all the goodies I purchased.

The Make-Up Studio is a line of makeup designed for professional makeup artists by a small group of makeup artists. Their products are priced very competitvely and sold at almost half the price as MAC. Their wide variety of eye, lip and face colors as well as the huge line of brushes allow professionals to let loose and get creative with colors. The eye shadows come in vivid color choices and in very fine, blendable textures. They also come in a variety of textures such as matte, lumiere, frost, shiny, aqua, and glimmer.

If I had to mention all the products they offer to fill our makeup and skincare kits, I would run out of breath. So instead, here are pictures to demonstrate what I purchased.

20-pan Empty makeup palette, Eyeshadow refill pans, Cream Foundation Professional (in the center). I concentrated on colors that are not commonly found in drugstores and department stores. I wanted to add more matte colors to my current eyeshadow collection as well.

20 Empty makeup palette filled with eyeshadow refill pans. The purple one (the furthest on the right, second row from the top) is an Aqua shadow that is activated by water and not dry swatchable. The tropical water color in the center of the four shadows is a luminous shadow that reminds me of mineralized shadows from MAC. Its shape doesn't allow it to fit inside this flat compact but another that allows the shadow's domed shape.

A list of Make-Up Studio's international distributors can be found at: http://www.make-upstudio.nl/distributors1.html
Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use)
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Shopping For The Holidays - All Ready?

At the cost of fifteen pounds for a set of 3 separate palettes for the eyes, lips and cheeks, E.L.F. has put together an encyclopedia of universally-flattering neutral colors for the grab-and-go girl. This Beauty Encyclopedia would make a great holiday gift for our nieces or those just starting to use makeup. I imagine that this would look fun inside a school locker and handy for gym class as it has its own large mirror and even instructions on how to use each product.

Kit includes:
6 powder eyeshadows, 2 cream eyeshadows, 1 eyeliner pencil, 1 duo sided eyeshadow brush and smudge brush, 8 lip colors, 1 lip Pencil, 1 lip brush, 2 blush colors, 1 face highlighter, 1 bronzer, 1 blush brush and mirror.

Have you seen this, or have tried it? Please share your thoughts in comments.

Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use), eyeslipsface.co.uk
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Donna Karen Fall '08

Does a man or a woman better understand how to design for the woman's form? It is a debate with no end in sight.

However, one thing that I am sure of is that Donna Karen has a complete understanding of how to dress a women with curves. I am in love with the way the fabrics seem to river & flirt with our eyes. There is a sense of understated confidence that doesn't sacrifice femininity.

The key to dressing "DK" ~

Boudoir Dressing
Something seductive that slips on and may slip off easily! Glides around with us wherever we go and takes the form of our body.

Tapestry Top Layer
A dressy top that has all the drama we need so that we can keep the rest easy.

Venetian Drama
Enter a room with drama and the richness of jewel tones.

Exotic Evening
Exotic looking fabrics dresses us up all the time.

Noir Nights
Yes, black is back again but DK takes it to reflective heights!

Urban Upulance
Soft shimmery suits that takes us day to night.

Wardrobe Foundation
A simple yet sassy layer which can be revealed when the layers come off.

Luxe Cashmere Tweed
Structure built into cashmere that takes off the heaviness but makes for interesting illusion.

Credit: Grayburn
(Terms of Use), donnakaren.com
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Love Its Glide

Something I discovered on my last trip to Paris and is arguably my Top Find there (previous post here). Not only is the store a wonderful treasure trove as I mentioned in the post, Paris berlin's own makeup line is well formulated and of professional grade (also obvious by all the pro makeup artists I saw shopping there).

I had to grab myself their Le Teint Hightech as soon as I felt its consistency. To me, this foundation has a unique texture. It is a liquidized cream given great slip that glide over the complexion. With such consistency, one would assume heavy coverage. Nope, not really. To the human eye, the coverage looks naturally flawless and provides medium coverage. On camera, the coverage is extremely skin-like and does not set off unattractive reflective glare.

Did I mention the glide? The glide is incredible.

This is how the company describes the foundation:

"light liquid foundation is an oil free light and moisturising liquid foundation extremely confortable with a greeat sliding power.
Long Lasting, Its long lasting formula daily controls the excess of oil. High fidelity and stability of the colors.
Natual Mat Finish, no powder needed . Absolutely mat.
Effet Soft Focus, The microspheres with soft focus effect diminishes optically the small skin imperfections
UV Filters SPF 12
Antifree Radicals vitamine E

Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use) parisberlin.com
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Parlez-Vous Long Nails?

I can barely type right now. I was asked to model in a photo shoot yesterday and they had me all done up from my fingertips to my head. It was absolutely fun and glamorous. However, I am now sporting the longest nails I have ever had. Typing this post, letter by letter, is limiting and testing my patience.

All the fancy work achieved on these nails was done with OPI's lacquer and most of them came from their new LA COLLECTION DE FRANCE FALL/WINTER 2008. The first picture features the polish called "Bastille My Heart" and the second "Parlez-Vous OPI?" and "Louvre Me Louvre Me Not".

So what I am wondering is if you have got any tips for me on how to deal with really long finger nails? Doing simple daily tasks (e.g. picking up my tweezers) has got me baffled and BFOG screams every time I accidentally injure him with them. Although, I have noticed that they make excellent itch scratchers and act as a big tooth comb for combing conditioner through hair!

I admire the intricate work performed and the time spent on them but I am starting to lose it. If all goes well, they can stay on for as long as 2 weeks. Will I be able to bear it? Or should I just go ahead and have them removed? Do you like them?

Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use)
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Baby Soft Skin. The Scent. The Texture. The Result.

French adults have reported that a whiff of this (above) brings back fond childhood memories for them. Those who grew up being bathed by Mustela's bebe Lait de toilette (Cleansing milk) remembers it by its unique scent and the soft cleansing texture. Those of us who never had bathtime with rubber ducky and Mustela can still use it today as a makeup remover or a soothing bath soak.

The Scent: There is definitely a baby-soft powdery scent to the lotion. However, it finishes with more florals than the baby powder smell that we are familiar with. It is not over powering but is enough to send my mind drifting off to a comfortable zone.

The Texture: The white liquid has the consistency of a runny whipping cream. It does not lather at all and I find that I need quite a lot if used in the shower.

Result: It does not irritate any dry patches of skin I might have on my face or my body. Skin feels soft but cleansed but I would not use it as an eye makeup remover as it did irritate mine. It is quite an amazing soother in the bath and it is easily one of my favorite soak products around.

I purchased mine in a pharmacy in Paris but Mustela is available at beauty centers and baby supplies stores in Asia, Europe, USA & Canada. I may just have to stock up on this and many other Mustela products (such as the Hydra-Stick with cold cream and the Massage oil) my next trip to Paris.

Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use)
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