1. 6. Grayburn: skincare 7.
Showing posts with label skincare. Show all posts
Showing posts with label skincare. Show all posts

Thursday

A Relaunch. Hurry!

OH NO,  HURRY!

It is currently fashionable to look back to the 'good ole days'.  The 80s to be exact.

In line with that thinking, The Body Shop has relaunched for a limited time only a few or their popular products from that time.  The new versions are now more responsible in that they are made with fair trade ingredients and the containers are made with 100% recycled materials.  Plus they almost match their prices in 80s!


I visited the store today and what a trip down memory lane that was.  A sniff of that Banana shampoo + conditioner, the Carrot Moisture Cream and the Cucumber Cleansing Milk was pure nostalgia.  I was a kid again and my mom was buying me my first skin and hair care products.

The range on offer now:

Banana Shampoo 250ml
Banana Conditioner 250ml
Carrot Moisture Cream 50ml
Cucumber Cleansing Milk 250ml
Cucumber Water 250ml
Bath & Shower Gel in 3 different scents - Dewberry, Fuzzy Peach or Green Apple
Ice Blue Shampoo 250ml
Passion Fruit  Cleansing Gel 250ml

Word is that there's a chance some of these products may stay for good if they get enough votes from the public.  So vote for yours (and mine) please!

Vote for yours or request relaunches on http://www.thebodyshop.com/_en/_ww/beauty-lounge/originals/originals.aspx




Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use), http://trc1.emv2.com/HM?a=A9X7Cq2dpC3F8X_jba35DMPjhg, youtube.com

Tuesday

Things To Do After A Tiring Day

Feeling tired is not only a physical state but one that is truly tied in with how we feel mentally.  I am amazed at how quickly I can feel revived if I just spend a little time on other and on myself that my outlook is instantly lifted; not to mention my complexion.  And everything good will just follow.

A few suggestions on how I go about getting my groove back:

1.  Trigger fantastic sensations.
We have powerful senses.  Often times they are so over stimulated than it might just need a reset.  I like to do so by awakening one that is not often used.

One method:  Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask
This mask contains alot of ingredients to brighten the complexion and to fight off free radicals.  But the best thing about it is that it is a mini version of Bliss' signature Triple Oxygen facials at their salons.  The fluidO2 infusion turns into a bubbling and fizzing foam upon contact with wet skin.  The sensation it creates on my skin feels fantastic that I literally feel my brain releasing happy hormones.  Works just like those scalp massagers that you see.  The citrusy scent is uplifting as well!

2.  Center-ing.
Perhaps the all important key to life and healthy living.  Feeling centered and all over balanced is an important aspect to remembering inner strength.

One method:  Bergamot essensial oil
Rather than being a stimulating essensial oil, bergamot is categorized as an uplifting one.  What it does is that it makes one feel better in a more relaxed way.  It is often used in aromatherapy for people with anxious, tense or depressed symptoms.  Just one smell and you will know what I mean.  Blend bergamont with other oils such as lavender or geranium (if you want even more relaxation) and infuse your bath water, body lotion/oil or your home frangrance system to surround yourself with positivity.

3.  Get a glow on. 
If you don't have the time or the needed manpower to give yourself or receive a massage (face and or body), there are other instant methods.
One method:  Make Up For Ever Professional Compact Shine On Iridescent Compact Powder
I have the compact in #3 and #5.  They are both fine, glowy pressed powders that give an ethereal finish.  #3 is a shell shade and #5 is peachier and both are universally flattering.  I use the lighter #3 to highlight and the slightly deeper #5 shade to round off and give dimension to the glow.  

4.  Give treats.
At times when we are tired, the last thing we wanna do is to think about others.  But when you are tired, it helps to give treats to those around you.  Paying attention to someone else for a change takes the focus off of your own tiredness/malais and being surrounded by happier, more relaxed people just makes better atmosphere and things easier.  Not to mention the fact that the act of giving stimulates happy hormones. Think small and meaningful....chocolates, tea, manicure (not a gift certificate to one!), or even a smile.

5.  Drink up.
I don't mean alcohol.  All it takes is 5 minutes to give yourself that little break.  Drinks containing nutmeg or clove, or foods containing rosemary, thyme, basil, or marjoram feeds the body in the sense that they help us to come back from fatigue.  Add to your latte, tea, or pasta.  Take a few deep breaths in to oxygenate your body along with them and surely you will feel revitalised again!

....and of course you know I'm not a doctor.  These are a few things that I do that help me.  Let your family doctor know if you feel severe fatigue or malheureux.


Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use)

Monday

Aloha And Sun Protection

Aloha! I am loving Hawaii and even more now that jet lag seems like a distant memory. It is sunny here and when it rains, it only seems to last for 10 minutes. And oh boy is sunscreen a necessity but makeup no longer one.

I have 4 different bottles of sunscreen on hand and when used appropriately, they seem to be keeping me well protected. For example, my tiny liquidy bottle of La Roche Posay Spf 30 is managing to withstand 12-o'clock sunshine and sweat without that greesy feeling. Unfortunately, it somehow messes with my mineral foundation. The Sofina Lucent Spf 50+ is a liiiiight protector which doubles as an Excellent liquid or powder foundation primer. The thing about these two sunscreens is that you must remove them completely or they could lead to clogged pores. I discovered the Banana Boat sunscreens here in Hawaii and have fallen in love with their Ultra Defense line. This stuff applies very light and is absorbed by the skin in no time. And for sun protection touch-ups on the go, I love those mists from Neutrogena's Fresh Cooling line.

Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use), picture of the beautiful Waikiki Beach from waikikibeachoutreach.com

Wednesday

The Sweetest

The sweetest item to sit in my purse lately is an Oilily lip balm. Granted it isn't the only lipcare product in my purse but it is the one that gets the ooohs and ahhhs whenever it makes an appearance out of the purse. It is all because of its waxed paper encasing printed with the designs from their "Flowers" collection.

The strawberry scented balm feels good on the lips too and doesn't get mucky or dry out around the edges of my lips after hours of wearing like some balms can get. The texture is smooth and since the balm is colorless, it makes a great base/primer for whatever lipstick to come!

...and incase you were wondering, this is not a fake. This tube came from one of the gift bags I got at the Oilily show when I attended the AIFW in January.


Website: oilily-world.com
Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use)

Thursday

Cozy Nights

The good thing about having rotten cold weather (even if Spring is already upon us) is that it feels incredibly cozy indoors. Rather than complaining about the weather like I have been doing, I thought I should just make the best of it and take advantage while we've still got it!

Trying to find a scent that both me and BFOG find likable is an incredibly difficult task. His taste for scents waver from day to day and even depend on the way it is presented to him. As for me, I can love either sweet, spicy, fruity or citrus but the one group of scents that make me absolutely nauseous are 'oceanic' or 'breezy' ones.

So we set off to Lush for something that can agree with both of our noses and that embraces the cozy spirit of the cold weather that we are still having in March.

We had a light lunch and were good to visit the loo beforehand. We were all set to embark on the "Massage Bars" section of the store. To give you an idea, massage bars are these little wonderful massage oil-in-a-bar solid slices that double as body moisturizers. Since all of them are rich in different nourishing butters, they are particularly good for chapped/dry skins. There are over 15 different massage bars to choose from on Lush's website but at the store where we were, there were about 10. We sniffed through the flowery, the chocolatey, and the fruity and used every inch of our arms to swatch. And we repeated the process. After about the third round and twenty buttered-up fingers later, we finally picked our winner! Behold, the Lush Mange Too Massage Bar!

Now this huge bar of white chocolate scented cocoa butter bar laced with honey, mango butter and peppermint isn't for the timid. I mean you can smell it from far away and believe me that once you have used it, you will smell like it the next day as well. A quick sniff and observation of it you'll immediately notice the lingering sweet scent of honey and the adorable honey comb design on top of the bar. Upon further inspection, you might pick up some chocolate or the mint that kind of suggest After Eight mints (I find the dash of mint works well to keep the chocolate and honey 'fresh'). Take that a slight bit further and a few more deep breaths in and you might realize that there is still that extra something you are picking up with your nose. That is indeed the mango butter, that tiny 'kick' in the melange.

Instructions on using a Lush Massage Bar:

Having played with the bar on a cold night I can say that this one is less ready to melt upon contact than the other bars I have tried. Because of what must be a higher content of butters and its thick consistency, it also creates less of a greasy mess than the other bars. Rather than having that yucky greased out feeling, you get instead a well nourished and protected feeling on your skin.

Tip: Keeping your bar safe - the Lush Mange Too will not fit into the Lush tins. If you have any empty The Body Shop body butter containers lying around, the Mange Too fits perfectly in there!

I am curious to find out how you create a cozy feeling on a cold wintry evening?


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

Growing Pains - One Story On Lashes

All the craze happening at the moment with lash growth serums has me going too. But being quite wary of risks and an unwillingness to part with a big sum had me scavenging around for alternatives. As you might know, I have issues with the lashes I was born with. The numerous times I have talked about different mascaras and my SSS (short, straight, sparse) lashes hopefully did not drive you insane.

A less intimidating option that I have found is from Japan and it is called Avancé Lash Serum EX (pictured above). This little blue glass bottle containing 7ml of clear liquid - a concoction that promises to help repair weak lashes and to encourage lashes to grow stronger and longer. This medicated version is supposedly more potent than the original, which is already a well-received lash serum in both Japan and Taiwan.

Unscrewing the cap on the bottle you will find inside a mascara wand in the clear liquid that is neither thick or thin in consistency. Noticing a slight bit of fragrance, applying the product is easy and never gave me blurred vision. The method I use to apply the product is such: 1. hold wand horizontally to lashes and wiggle the product into lashes, staying close to the roots but never in the eye. 2. hold wand vertically and apply product directly to the root using the tip of the wand. 3. ensure that all lashes (upper and lower) are well saturated but don't get any in the eye.

Result: my last 2 months using this serum is finally paying off. An accident with my metal lash curler which had ripped off a few of my lashes (an incident too traumatic to be told) made a noticeable gap on my upper lashline. However, I noticed stronger and thicker lashes (than before) grow back at 3 weeks after the incident. Now at exactly 2 months after my first application, my lashes are thicker and ever so slightly longer. My lashes feel well conditioned and I am even leaving my volumising mascara behind for the first time in my life!


Websites: Avance-cosme.co.jp
Adambeauty.com (Apprx. 18 USD/13 EUR)

Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use)

A Fruit Obsession


I am addicted to anything that smells, tastes or remotely looks like pineapples. Why, don't we all have a fruit that we just can't get enough of?

The pineapple has long been used as an aid for intestinal problems. It contains the enzyme bromelain which is good at breaking down proteins. In skincare, pineapples are valued also for bromelain because it gently yet effectively sloughs off dead skin cells and smooths what I refer to as 'beginner' lines. Pineapple's high levels of Vitamins A & C furthers this action and boosts skin's radiance and also feeds the skin with nutrients. The addition of allantoin in the facial mask helps to smooth the skin by increasing extracellular water content while providing wound-healing and anti-irritation properties.

I have been all over my tube of Natura Bisse Ananas Finishing Mask (Mascarilla Revitalizante) for the past few months. If you can imagine a kind of calming pineapple smell, rather than the sensory stimulating kind, this one has it! The mask dries rather quickly, and with a matte finish, but applies creamy. I always feel happier after having pampered myself with it. My mood is brightened and my skin feels refined and softened. I think the mask is well worthwhile for those looking for a weekly treat which helps to gently brighten the complexion and mood.

What is your fruit obsession?

Website: naturabisse.es
Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use), wikipedia.org

Tuesday

I Whisper In Shame

Yes, I have been known to pick at a spot here and there, from time to time. Admitting that I do is still hard, so out of shame, I will switch over to my whispering voice.

Now that we have that point covered, I want to let you in on how I manage the situation and still have pretty decent skin to show for it. Here it comes: Avene Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream (as known in N. American) or Avene Cicalfate Antibacterial Repair Cream (as known in Europe).

The cream itself is thick, emollient and feels very soothing. It applies white but turns transparent and thin after a few moments of warming on the skin. Since it contains copper (a germicide), zinc (speeds up the healing process and aids in healing skin rashes) and sucralfate (has an inhibitory effect on burns), skin that has been damaged can heal faster.

I apply this rich cream on clean skin whenever I have gone too far with squeezing at a spot. Being nurtured back to health in a clean and restorative environment, my skin has the chance to return to health; and I notice that the scarring isn't as severe those times I don't use the cream.

Those who are familiar with one other product called Neosporin (available in N. America) might understand how such a cream can be so beneficial. Both are antibacterial creams made for cuts and scrapes but personally, I prefer Avene's version as it just feels more nourishing and calming (also especially useful for after a chemical peel). Although, those who are prone to breakouts should know that the richness of the cream may pose to be a problem. However, the cream is still valuable to have for cuts and scrapes on the rest of the body.

Description from Avene's site:
Anti-bacterial and healing properties in one unique formulation
A technologically advanced skin restorative cream clinically proven to help speed the recovery process with anti-bacterial and healing properties. A unique cream with anti-bacterial and healing properties.

Indication

  • Cuts, scrapes, scratches
  • Burns
  • Cracked skin
  • Stitches
  • Hair removal
  • Diaper rash
  • Post-treatment

Benefits

  • Helps speed the skin recovery process
  • Provides a healthy skin environment to minimize a potential infection
  • Prevents signs of scarring
  • Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal
  • Fragrance-free, preservative-free, colorant-free
  • Avène Thermal spring water to soothe and soften the skin
  • Hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic
Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use), aveneusa.com

Wednesday

Skin Cancer Linked To Moisturizer?

A recent study by a group of scientists at the Rutgers State University of New Jersey established a possible link between the application of some widely available topical skin creams with some ingredients in common (i.e. Dermabase, Dermovan, Eucerin or Vanicream) to mice' skin (pre-treated with UVB to increase their risk for skin cancer) leads to an increase of cancer formation in the skin.

Dr Yao-Ping Lu and his team pre-treated the group of 30 mice with UVB twice weekly for a duration of 20 weeks and then applied the said skin creams on the UVB-inflicted mice for 17 consecutive weeks thereafter (1x/day, 5 days per week). The conclusion of the study was that although not more numbers of mice in the treated group had tumours compared to those in the control group, the rate of formation of tumors and the number of tumors was significantly greater.

While I personally find this type of testing which involves animals (who are unable to speak for themselves) cruel and unnecessary, here are some of the issues a number of experts have raised in regards to the study and its findings:

- manufacturers of Eucerin and Vanicream have raised concerns with regards to the design of the study as well as how the findings can be relevant to humans.

- the size of the test group (30) too small for such conclusions.

- mice skin not the best replacement for conducting tests for human skin.

As noted by many other experts in the field, while the conclusions may be dubious, further tests that address the above issues are needed.

What is your take on the study? Do you think we need to be alarmed by these findings?


The article describing the study can be found in the Aug. 14 issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology
Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use), www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com, style.com

Monday

Bye-bye Products

The best thing about having a guest in the house is that the house finally gets a deep cleaning. We had plenty of time to tidy up so I rumbled through my box of beauty rejects. While going through the items, I realized that some of these are in fact well loved products by most but for one reason or another, I never managed to get them to work for me.

The picture above illustrated my feelings exactly as I went through the items in my 'on the way out' box. In fact Kate, the author and artist of her own illustrations from Soy Sauce Carnival writes fun haiku that seem to capture how a lot of us feel at times. A great mood-booster to read and look through at times when a pick-me-up is necessary.

Chanel Correcteur Eclat quick cover
Has a soft silicon texture that feels as if it should be easy to work with. My first time with this, it did not blend as easily as I thought a silicon-based product should. But I finally threw in the towel when it had slipped down my face by the end of the day. Disappointing especially since it is from one of my favorite brands.

L'Oreal Double Extension Beauty Tubes Mascara
I thought I found the solution to purchasing my favorite mascara when I saw this. My favorite mascara is also a 'tubing' mascara that provide great length and is elements-proof. L'Oreal's is a two-ended masscara wand that has a side with a white mascara base and another with a black mascara. Similar to other mascara bases I have tried from L'Oreal, the formula is thick and does not seem to hold a curl for me. Unlike my favorite mascara, this one never gave me the desired length, nor did it ever remove with ease (instruction says to place a warm pad with warm water for at least 30 seconds versus simply splashing with warm water with my favorite mascara).

Maybelline Volum' Express Lift-Up Mascara
I never say No to a freebie, especially if it came in a goodie bag from Fashion week. Even with its deep black pigmentation, this mascara never was smooth going on my lashes and became an irritating flake by the end of a day of running errands. Even if I do love its curvy brush, I'll have to say No Thanks.

Avene Soothing hydrating serum (Serum apaisant hydratant)
This was something that I wanted to work for me as it is a serum that boasts hydrating/soothing properties, and can be easily purchased at a local pharmacy. I have had plenty of success with products from Avene so I skipped the part where I obsess over the list of ingredients. Unlucky for me, I completely missed out the fact that this serum contains alcohol. Lastly, it is a rather thick gel that applies with a tacky texture.

Catrice Allround Concealer
An hour to spare at a local drugstore had me intrigued by a German cosmetics brand, Catrice. I was lured into this multicolored concealer palette containing 3 skin tone shades, 1 peach and a green. Its silky texture was alluring but the concealer just floats on top of the skin when applied, unfortunately concealing nothing.


Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use), soysaucecarnival.blogspot.com

Saturday

Favorite Things 2008 - The Finalists

As a girl who loves a neutral palette, 2008 took me by a complete surprise. Where I might have thought it best to leave runway trends well, at the runway, I found myself in awe of the vividly painted faces at John Galliano and the enchanted silk prints at Prada.

2008 was a year when many memorable mascaras debuted on an already cramped market. So it was no easy feat that these newcomers managed to stand out amongst the well-tested veterans. Do you remember in the beginning of the year when drugstore brands took us by a storm and said "the bigger the better" when it came to the mascara brush? And what about the innovative designs (brushes with motion) from the department store counterparts?

On the fashion front, Spring was bursting with light and fantastic fabrics, in flowing proportions. But near the end of the year, a blackout of materials and structural shapes took over. During the year, we even saw the comeback of ruffles and lace in every way and, the one-piece jumpsuit. And remember all the floral prints and tartan?

For me, the highlight of 2008 was finally being able to attend the Amsterdam International Fashion Week!

I think 2008 was even more challenging than Favorite Things 2007 in having so many products to choose from. But here it goes; my personal Favorite Things of 2008!

Category - Blusher

Center: Pure Luxe, then left & clockwise: H & M, MAC Sweetness, Everyday Minerals, MAC Stark Naked

Cheek blush by H & M in Apricot
The combination of brown, apricot and pink swirls together in a youthful shade that is natural and warm. I never fear that I am 'wearing too much blush' when I have this one on. Previous post here

Pure Luxe Cosmetics blush in Berry Sexy
This cool, grape-y shade looks as if it doesn't belong on the cheeks but it does! On medium skintones, it turns into an incredibly sophisticated and unique shade of berry. It is a hybrid of MAC Emote blush and Stark Naked. This blush seems to melt into the skin.


MAC Beauty Powder Blush in Sweetness
I almost fainted back when MAC released an entire collection of Beauty Powder Blush. In Amsterdam, the collection was shown alongside Fafi, whose blushers pale next to these. The one that caught my eye was Sweetness because of its hot fuchsia color. But the sheerness and smoothness (read: very blendable) texture of the blush keeps it from looking clownish. Instead, it is a sweet but grown-up pink. Previous post here

MAC Beauty Powder Blush in Stark Naked
Another LE Beauty Powder Blush from MAC in 2008. This one just makes one look naturally flushed without any hint of peach. The raspberry/mauve color is warmed up with fine specks of gold shimmer which disappears into the skin leaving a candlelight glow.

Everyday Minerals blush in Nick Nack
I do love mineral blushers but because of their loose powdery nature, it can be tough to find a color that goes on lightly. This comes in a no-brainer-hard-to-over-do-it shade of matte cool medium pink. I can even run out of the door while brushing this on because it is such an easy color to wear. But when I have more time, a whisper of this over the temples does miracles at brightening the complexion. Previous post here

Peter Thomas Roth
Un-wrinkle Peel Pads
These pads are heads above their Complexion Correction Pads because these ones are softer and, you can feel and see results quicker. Even though the Un-wrinkle Peel Pads are designed for daily use, I only use these twice a week. One or two swipes with a pad at night over my face, neck and the back of the hands prepare my skin for what's to follow. The 'un-wrinkle' solution (made up of 20% complex alpha, beta, gamma exfoliators & amino acids, vitamins A, C, D, E & F, chamomile, green tea extracts) feels slightly tacky and looks shiny on they skin. But after 2-5 minutes of leaving it to work, the treatment can be deactivated with a simple splash of water.

Pure Luxe Eraser powder
As a mineral foundation advocate, foundation primers are an absolute daily necessity. I searched high and low for one in 2008 and found it finally in this powder form. I love that I can apply this with a powder brush (not a brush for liquids that I have to wash daily or fingers). It smooths out imperfections without emphasizing dryness and it provides the perfect canvas for long-lasting foundation application. But use it sparingly!

Terax Crema
As this is not available where I live, I took a chance and bought a salon pump size when I was visiting Toronto. The risk of not being able to return it if I did not like it didn't matter because I heard both Naomi Campbell and Kate Beckingsale adore this. I must agree with the two beauties because I too am in love with this conditioner. It tames frizzies and puts the shine back with only 2 pumps for my long hair.

Nars Makeup Your Mind
I received this as a gift for Christmas and it is the most useful and beautiful makeup book that I have come across. This book illustrates with a transparent sheet over a before-and-after photo of a model's face, the products used and where to apply them. It will turn anyone into a Nars addict if you aren't already one!

Silk Naturals Lip Gloss - organic
I vow never to be without this one. The talented owner of this brand (which started her business online but has opened a pilot store in 2008) creates magic when she sits down to hand-make these slim sticks. The result is the most moisturizing yet comfortable lip products I have ever experienced. Since a majority of the colors are built from a sheer brownish base, they are extremely flattering and easy to wear. I still have many to sample but my favorite so far of the bunch is in Skinny Dip (previous article here).

Zelens Intensive Triple Action Eye cream
If only you splurge on one eye cream this year, it should be this one! The packed ingredients list is too large to repeat here but just to mention a few: Acetyl Tyrosine (amino acid which aids in color distribution in skin), allantoin (aids in healing), carnosine (potent anti-oxidant), coenzyme Q10 (controls oxidative DNA damage to cells), hyaluronic acid (restores vitality/hydration to skin), rosehip (powerful anti-oxidant). I find the application elegant and I use a spatula to scoop out the product every time I use it. The cream resembles apple compote but applies without a spec of grease. I feel simply spoiled every time I use it because of the packaging and, I hear that models fight over this backstage!

MAC lipstick in 3N
I found the perfect nude shade of lipstick for me in MAC's N Collection. This is the shade which had me hoarding tubes at both MAC stores in Amsterdam and bidding away on ebay. This was also the shade all over the runways, and if worn with gloss, it is perfect with dramatic eyes. More on MAC N Collection here

Weleda Cold Cream (Europe)/Everon Face Balm (North America)
When retinols and wintry dry air has me down with flakies and irritated patches, this is the cream that comes to my rescue. I have since replaced my Creme de La Mer when I found this sucker for 12 euros at a local health food store. This cream has the soothing, sleep-inducing scent of geranium and has a short list of ingredients which means it works for times when our skin just cannot tolerate a longer list. Note that the same product has different names depending on where it is purchased!

L'Oreal Elnett Hairspray
I finally bought into the hype in 2008 over this slim bottle of fine misting hairspray. Even though the smell is noticeably "hairspray", the hold is brushable. Of all the different versions, I like the flexible hold the best. Btw, did any of you see the piece written in Allure magazine about this?

Redken Velvet Gelatine (part of Redken's Urban Experiment line)
I was introduced to this during Fashion Week in July and am so glad that we met. Its soft, gel-silicon texture tames hair and softly styles it to hold it in place. The finish is slightly 'velvety' as the name implies which I find particularly modern and low-key.
Avene Micellar Lotion
You might have read my story about how I wished for this when I was in Cuba (here). This makes a great finishing toner after cleansing and before the application of skin creams. Its greaseless texture (read: feels refreshing), and cleansing power means this doubles as a light-makeup remover; sans blurry vision.

Paris Berlin Le Teint HighTech
For days when I know I will need long-lasting waterproof coverage, and that I might need to appear in flash photos, I use this instead of my mineral foundation. I discovered this fantastic foundation in Paris (More on that fantastic makeup store here and on the foundation here) and will always return for more when I am in town.

Make-up Studio Professional Make-Up
A great find for me in 2008. The company was formed by a local group of professional makeup artists and is a line which rivals that of MAC for me. Since it is from the Netherlands, their prices are slightly less than MAC. I have purchased items from the line since I first discovered them but you can see some of the items I have played with this year here.

MAC Paintpot in Soft Ocre
A basic that I never want to be without. Any eyeshadow will stick to this for the duration of the entire day. The creamy texture applies like slightly melted chocolate. It is medium skin hue with more yellow in it than pink or peach. More on MAC N Collection here

Bourjois Ombre Stretch Courleur ultra stretchable colour in brun nylon
Such a big name for a small shadow! I reach for this one quite a lot since red and orange toned eyeshadows are difficult to use on me. The cool taupe hue forms the base for a nude yet shimmery eye. The product is pigmented and has a velvety blend (never chalky) that doesn't crumble under the dip of the brush. The packaging of the shadows in this collection all come in a rectangular box that encases a medium-sized natural hair shadow brush and a wide mirror. One of few best eyeshadow picks from June 2008

I want to thank everyone who took part in Favorite Things 2008. Please take a moment and drop a hello to all these wonderful Bloggers to see what their favorite picks of 2008 are. I also want to thank Annie of Blogdorf Goodman for Favorite Things 2007. She's written an amazing piece on her favorite things of 2008 which you can find here. So please excuse me while I go ogle over everyone's lists ...


Beautiful Makeup Search

Beauty 411

Beauty Talk

Beauty Tyrant

Binary Star

'*:.blu3.:*'

For The Love of Beauty

Grayburn

Life Of A Ladybug

lily loves mac

Make Do Style

Miss Whoever You Are

Perfume Shrine

Platinum Blonde Life

Searching the Inner Me

Slap Of The Day

The Beauty Alchemist

The non-blonde

Urbane Girl



Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use)

Wednesday

FAVORITE THINGS 2008!


It is that time of the year again when we think back to all the fortunate and beautiful things a year of blogging has brought us. The team at Grayburn (with a modest number of members of 1!) is working around the clock, searching high and low in drawers and goodie bags to bring you Issue 2008 of FAVORITE THINGS! The issue will be published here on the 10th of January, 2009 and will contain a list of Grayburn's Favorite Things of 2008. This is what Issue 2007 looked like if you are eager to get warmed up for the upcoming issue on the 10th!


I would like to extend an invitation to all Bloggers of any genre, who happened upon this, to join in on the fun of reflecting upon year 2008. Please let me know if you would like to participate!


Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use), Dior from Vogue magazine issue Dec 2008

Tuesday

Travel & Skincare

Looking at my stash of skincare products, I realized that most of the items are from Japanese or French companies. It is not that I discriminate because I do equally enjoy products from Burt's Bees (started 1984 in Maine), MAC (1985 in Ontario), Neutrogena (1930 in Los Angeles, not in Norway!), and many more. But since Japanese skincare products tend to be light and hydrating, and, French ones tend to be rich and nourishing, it is simple to address different needs of my skin during different times of the year.

I love to take a moment to relax on the couch or lay down for a moment with a facial treatment. I know that I look silly when I do this twice weekly (BFOG tells me so), but I treasure this time to unwind and feel happy that I am feeding my facial skin.

When I get the chance to travel, I opt to bring products that have smart packaging (spillproof, one-time use and not bulky). For my visit in Switzerland, I packed my bags with these hydrating eye patches from Biore. They are very handy because a box comes with 6 packets each containing a pair of patches. They peel back to reveal a sticky gelatine-like side and the patches are shaped to fit the contour of the eyes as well.

Once placed around the eyes the gel patches feel cooling and refreshing on the undereye area. I believe that the patches are even suitable to be worn overnight. I have tested both leaving the patches on for about 20 minutes, and overnight; both yielded the same results. There is no detectable scent to the patches and once removed, they left the undereye area smoother and softer; though the result did not last. Now I have tried many eye patch treatments from different companies. While I do like them for travelling, I generally prefer creamy treatments at home because I feel that the ingredients penetrate better. To sum up, these are pretty good. They are cheaper than others I have tried (such as Chanel or Clinique) and, are equally good.

A Review of Another Biore Product

The Beauty Bowl 2008


Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use)

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

Friday

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

Sunday

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)

Wednesday

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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Monday

A Gift For You

There is a first time for everything.

This blog celebrates its 1-year anniversary today. In this time, I have come to realize that blogging has been an incredible journey for me. I am so glad that I got to share my experiences with all of you. And I have each of you to thank because it is you who have allowed and encouraged me to continue on this path. My love for blogging is still strong. If anything, it just seems to get stronger with each post.

The occasion has also got me thinking about the future of this blog. Since it is easy for me to have a ramble fest when it comes to beauty products, I can easily get carried away. So I think it might be more useful if you comment on the topics or specifics of what you would like to see tackled here. For example, do you like Giveaways? Please feel free to leave suggestions.

To mark this occasion, I would also like to host a Giveaway! It is my first so I feel over the moon about it.

The Prize:
A skincare set containing a Y.E.S Anti-aging Serum & their Rejuvenating Moisture Cream. Information about this set can be found at this link. The set has a value of 98 USD so I encourage all of you to enter your ballots!

Rules: Only open to residents of US & Canada. Email your answer for the following questions, along with a valid email address to grayburn{@}mail{dot}org. Please include "Y.E.S. Giveaway" in the subject of your email. The winner will have answered all the questions correctly and be notified by an email from me where I will ask for your shipping details. Giveaway ends next week Monday (October 6th, 2008). Good Luck!

Questions:

1. What is the name of the mascara (my HG) that has been mentioned the most (as many as in 12 different posts!) on this blog?
2. What is the name of the fashion event I attended twice this year (January & July)?
3. Name a post from this blog you have read and found interesting :)



ANNOUNCEMENT

Thanks to all of you who participated. The turnout took me by complete surprise and I am sorry that there is only 1 set of the skincare to giveaway. I wish I had a set for everyone that came to play!

The winner for this first ever giveaway goes by the initials R.M.

I have already emailed the winner to let her know she had won!



Credit: Grayburn
(Terms of Use), vintagevinylrevival.com, yesskincare.com
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Thursday

Do You Do E-Shopping?

You might find this information from the ShopSmart Magazine (Consumer Reports) handy. It is the result and summary of the screening they had conducted to compare some of the e-tailers out there.

Do any of you shop at these sites? Would you recommend any of these to your friends or to me (do any of them have international shipping)?


Best Overall Selection
: Beauty.com

Shipping Free if you spend $49 or more.

Return policy 30 days on unopened products or, for certain items, if you don’t like the color. Returns cost $4.99 unless a product is damaged or incorrect or the color is wrong.

Great for Hard-to-Find Products: Beautyhabit.com

Shipping Free on orders of $100 or more; otherwise $5.95.

Return policy 14 days on most items. No returns on opened or used products.

Great for Trendy Brands: Beautyofasite.com

Shipping Free on orders over $75; otherwise $5.95 to $8.95.

Return policy 30 days. You pay for return shipping unless the product was damaged. All returns are for exchange or store credit only. There are no refunds or returns on color cosmetics.

Best Prices: Buymebeauty.com

Shipping Free on orders of $35 or more; $4.95 on orders of less than $35.

Return policy 30 days. Products must be unused and unopened, unless they are defective. You have to call or e-mail before returning products; you will also have to pay the costs of return shipping.

Great Return Policy: Cosmeticmall.com

Shipping $5.95 plus 93 cents per pound.

Return policy 30 days. You can return most products for any reason, even after they’re opened.

Great Drugstore Makeup Section: Drugstore.com

Shipping Free on your first nonprescription order of $25 or more; free on orders of $49 or more after that.

Return policy 30 days. Returns are free if a product is damaged, defective, or incorrect. Returns are free on certain products if you don’t like the color. Otherwise, products must be unopened and unused.

Great for Freebies: Sephora.com

Shipping Free on orders over $50; otherwise $5.95.

Return policy 60 days. Free return shipping. Store credit after 60 days.

Great for Organic Products: Skinbotanica.com

Shipping Free on orders over $49; otherwise $5.95.

Return policy 60 days.

Best Shipping Deal: Skin-One.com

Shipping Free.

Return policy 30 days. Product must be at least 75 percent full. You have to pay return shipping fees, and no returns are allowed of an opened product if you received a sample of it with your order.

Best Online Version of a Walk-In Store: Walgreens.com

Shipping Many items qualify for free shipping of purchases of $50 or more; otherwise $5.49 for 10 pounds or less.

Return policy 30 days.

Sad Site: BeautyDepot.com

This site didn’t have a wide selection of products. You have to buy $99 worth of stuff to get free shipping; otherwise you could end up paying $7.95 or more for UPS ground. Cosmetics (and many other products) were not returnable, and there’s no toll-free customer-service number.


Credit: Grayburn (Terms of Use), ShopSmart November 2008 issue
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Sunday

Which Category Do You Fit Into?

Just a heads-up on The Body Shop's new line of body products that aim to take care of our inner and outer selves. I have been to their store and tested most of the products myself. Granted, the wellness approach is nothing new, but I think they have done a convincing job at creating some lemming-worthy items to treat our body and soul.

The line is divided into four categories (see image above) and is driven by ingredients that do double duties in terms of provoking a state of mind via scent and active properties. I think I am going to have to get something from each category since I suffer from each one of them at different times. For example, I could really use some of that Total Energy Exhilarating body wash (state #1) during that one time of the month when I can use a kick of energy at that time. Or, I could hand over that bottle of Divine Calm Relaxing Massage oil (state #2) to BFOG when life is stressing me out. And when I feel like getting some detox action, I would probably give the Rejuvenating Bath Soak (state #4) that contains wasabi (!) a try.

As soon as I get my hands on these, I will let you in on the scoop!


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