Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Evening skincare routine

Following on from my morning skincare routine post, here is my current evening skincare routine plus my current weekly face mask treats!  I make no apologies for this being a bit long and ramble-y, I like talking about skincare!!


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Current am skincare routine

If there is one area of the beauty world I love, its skincare. I love reading about it, learning about it and most of all trying it!

Here's what products I am currently using in my morning routine-for the record I am 34 (eek) with fair, combination skin.  My main concerns are open pores round my noise, the very occasional cystic spot and holding back the aging process as much as possible!!

Friday, April 25, 2014

MAC By Request 2014

Meet Pink Poodle and Glam, the 86th and 87th addition to my monstrous MAC lipstick collection!

'By Request' is a brilliant little marketing scheme from MAC where fans of their facebook page can vote for their favourite discontinued lipstick, lipglass and eyeshadow shades to make a one time re-appearance before disappearing forever.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bobbi Brown Art Sticks review-and the beauty bloggers who NEED these in their lives

I seem to have stumbled on the perfect chunky lip pencil.  I say stumbled because the only review I have seen of these so far is from Laura at  Buy Now Blog Later and as far as I know, these haven't actually launched in the UK yet.  Dubai launching something before the UK??? Unheard of usually.

I am a big fan of chunky lip pencils-I must be seeing as I have a whole muji drawer dedicated to housing them!  My previous favourites were the Nars Velvet Matte formula and the Tarte Lipsurgence matte-but these have now been swept aside.  Yes fellow beauty lovers, there's a new girl in town and her name is Bobbi Brown.

The formula: Ridiculously easy to apply to the lips because of the 'reminiscent of childhood' crayon shape.  Remember to stay inside the lines kids.  And the formula is nothing short of immense...really.

The problem with pencil formulas is that they can be drier than the Dubai desert.  Not these chunksters.  The shea butter packed pencils glide on without being too slippery and leave a semi matte finish on the lips.  And once on, the formula stays really comfortable on the lips and feels weightless.  My lips didn't feel dry all day and when topping up my lip colour I didn't need to add a slick of lip balm to rehydrate before re-applying.  There was no pesky flaking off of the colour nor any bleeding-two pet lip related hates of mine!  Definitely more hydrating than the Nars Velvet Matte pencils.

Pigmentation: I chose three pretty punchy shades (there are only 8 in the range but 4 are relatively neutral-ish) and I am bowled over by the pigmentation.  Top marks.

Lasting power: Pretty decent.  I got 3 to 4 hours out of mine with an even fade.

It's fair to say these shades are going to be a staple over the summer and I got to thinking which of my beauty blogger friends would also like these.

Sunset Orange has got beautiful Sarah from And Beauty Or Something whose blog I adore and lovely Laura (whose complexion is like the perfect English rose) from Laurzrah's name all over it!!  Both of them love a bold lip and this punchy 'Lady Danger'-esque shade is going to be right up their street I am sure.  One blonde (like very blonde) and one brunette but both of them will look stunning wearing this shade.

No one pulls off a pink lip as well as my gorgeous friend Antonia from Mac and Cheese.  I remember her frantic search for the limited edition Mac Embrace Me bold pink lipstick last year.  I love the combination of blonde hair and pink lips and I know Antonia would wear this night and day.  This was easily the longest lasting of the three and the prettiest whether it was 'just applied bold' or 'what was left on my lips after eating a whole tub of yoghurt'!

Finally the adorable and hilarious Kate from Pretty Little Us would rock the socks of this bright fuchsia.  This shade, whilst still being matte has a lovely sheen to it.  If you missed out on Mac's Flat Out Fabulous retro matte lipstick from last year this is a great dupe for it.  But the Retro Matte formula is painfully drying on me and I would pick this Bobbi Brown formula any of the Mac matte offerings any day.

These sticks will be permanent (yey) and are currently on sale in the US and in Dubai.  I will try and find out a UK release date.  I definitely recommend you hot foot it down to your nearest Bobbi Brown counter and pick up one.  Or two.  Or three....


Sunday, April 20, 2014

By Terry Cellularose Blush Glacé

When I did my huge haul post earlier this month, these were the items people wanted to see reviewed most of all.

I really wanted to love these.

I saw Laura from Buy Now Blog Later wearing them here and I think she looks just incredible.

They looked like a total winner.  Well despite the ridiculous £38 price tag.

I couldn't have logged onto Space NK and pressed 'click to buy' any faster.

When I opened them I gasped.....

They are quite possibly the most beautiful colours I have ever seen.  Especially the orange 'Flower Sorbet'.

They smell delicious-like summer if that is possible.

The texture is like nothing I have tried before.  It's not a gel, nor a cream, nor a mousse.

They swatch beautifully-I was so excited!

But I have tried everything and I cannot get these to even show up on my skin (inserts very sad faced emoji)

I have tapped in with my fingers,  I have rubbed in with my fingers. I have tried to apply with my fingers with no blending or rubbing to let it just 'sit' on my skin.  I have tried my stippling brush.  I have tried my beauty blender.  I have used a lot of product hoping the colour would eventually build up.  Nada.  Nothing.  The product just disappears into my skin not even leaving barely a hint of colour.

Here I have literally a ton of Flower Sorbet on and as you can see, there's nothing there.

And the Frozen Petal shade doesn't fair much better-again a ton of product here but just a tiny flush of colour.

I am literally distraught because I absolutely love the colours and I want them to show on my cheeks!  I am pale (NW15 in Mac foundation) so I thought these might be acid bright and need some careful blending but there's literally nothing to see here folks.

I have had a little look around the internet and they seem to fair better on olive skinned girls.  I hope they do because the texture and colour in the little glass jar is beyond beautiful.

PS if you do want a neon orange blush then Jen at Vibrant, Vivacious, Veracious has the one for you.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Dior Fluid Sticks review

Dior Fluid Sticks review

As soon as I saw the first images of these (pretty sure it was Sara at Color Me Loud who caused the enablement) I wanted one.  No I didn't, I wanted five!

I actually ended up with six after the SA in Sephora gave me Mona Lisette instead of Wonderland so I ended up buying Wonderland as well!

Dior Fluid Sticks review

Dior Fluid Sticks review

There are going to be about a million reviews of these popping up all over the place over the next couple of weeks so I'll keep it brief with my personal pro's and cons

  • Glossy, pigmented colour that doesn't bleed (except for Wonderland which did on me)
  • Long lasting-I got 5-6 hours out of mine which is impressive
  • Fades evenly, no nasty rings left behind or patchiness
  • Non drying
  • Teardrop shaped application wand makes it super easy to apply to the bottom lip 
  • Lips look plumped and juicy!
  • Easy to top up if needed throughout the day
  • No glitter or sparkle in the shades
  • There is a distinct tingle when you apply-something I am personally not a fan of
  • The shape of the application wand makes it quite tricky to apply to the top lip and get an even line-especially the brighter colours
  • The formula applies quite thickly so you need to ensure you smooth it out evenly with the wand-you can see where the colour has pooled on my bottom lip in the Wonderland and Mona Lisette swatches
  • They are tacky-for at least half an hour after application-not nastily so but you definitely know you are wearing something on your lips
  • They have a tendency when first applied to get on your teeth-however a quick 'finger in the mouth' trick removes the excess and stops it happening again
Dior Fluid Sticks review

Dior Fluid Sticks review tiny pink

Dior Fluid Sticks review wonderland

Dior Fluid Sticks review rieuse

Dior Fluid Sticks review vertigo

Dior Fluid Sticks review magique

Dior Fluid Sticks review Mona Lisette

The initial very 'wet look' lacquer finish doesn't last and the formula does dry down to a very wearable but still glossy long lasting stain.

In summary, they're a kind of easy to use, wetter than lipstick but thicker than gloss, super shiny lip product!  I like them, I don't utterly adore them but I will get a lot of use out of them-I have particularly been loving Tiny Pink and wearing it non stop the past few days.  If you like the YSL glossy stains you will love these.

Are you tempted by these new launches?


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Currently Loving

This last week has been tough!  Mike collapsed and was taken to hospital with chest pains on Wednesday last week so he is going back to hospital tomorrow for a few more tests and to see the cardiologist again.  I am just not feeling right.  Nothing specific or genuinely ill but a feeling of general 'run down-ness', tiredness and just not feeling myself.  But the show must go on as they say!!

I think over the next few weeks we will be considering some all round lifestyle changes to get us a bit healthier as we admittedly lead quite an unhealthy lifestyle-especially me, two of my three meals a day are generally ordered in and eaten at my desk in the office!  And I am a raging chocoholic!

In the meantime, I have been reflecting on what products I am currently loving.

First up is the cleanser I am using in the morning, the much hyped Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip.  I was on a waiting list for this for ages on the Space NK website but I finally got my hands on it!

OK so the claims are pretty steep and after using this for about 4 weeks now I don't think I have 'flawless skin' or 'miniscule pores' but I still really like it.  It has a light gel texture which doesn't overly foam and no distinct smell.  I apply it in the morning to damp hands then massage into my face before washing off under the shower.  My skin isn't left feeling tight or dry or tingly.  The only downside is I think you need to use about 4-5 pumps to wash your face thoroughly.  Having said that, four weeks in and I still have over half left.  I personally wouldn't use it to remove make up but it would be a good second cleanser and contains a real cocktail of skin pleasing ingredients-French green clay to draw out impurities and Vitamin C to reduce discolouration and stimulate collagen production.  Sandalwood combats sensitivity, black pepper promotes circulation and jasmine soothes.

Repurchase?  Yes please!

Next up is a Nars duo I have had for ages and don't give enough love to!  It contains an almost foil like bronze which doesn't run particularly warm nor cold so will look fab on everyone and a plummy taupe with a satin finish.  They blend effortlessly and last all day long.  I pledge to show Kalahari much more love.

Two lip products make the cut next-first up the Burts Bees rejuvenating lip balm with Acai Berry.  Although I have one in my handbag at the moment I am not that much of a fan of the original Burts Bees formula-I find it drags on the lips a bit, I don't like the smell or the tingle and isn't terribly moisturising, but the Acai Berry version is so much better!  It imparts no colour to the lips and glides on, moisturising and smoothing as it goes.  It smells so much nicer than the original and is the perfect base for lipstick.  I think I'll be throwing out the original version in my handbag and replacing it with this.

My second lip favourite is the new YSL Gloss Volupte.  I own 5 of these now and I just love the glossy, non sticky, glass like shine they impart along with the hint of colour.  The one you see below is 204 Corail Trapeze and is the perfect spring/summer lip.  You can see it in action here.  And the packaging-inserts 10 heart shaped eye emojis

Next up is a product I probably wouldn't have spoken about on my blog if it wasn't for the fact Sephora is now shipping to the UK as it was available in the US only (and I feel mean to my UK readers) but now I am telling you to all go out and buy the Josie Maran Coconut Water Cheek Gelee in Poppy Paradise.

I absolutely love the formula, it feels like jelly in the pot without being messy and squishy.  The colour is to die for-a pink toned, almost neon coral but without being at all in your face.  I prefer to dip a stippling brush in the pot (hence all the brush marks), tap the excess on the back of my hand and lightly buff into the skin.  I can't get enough of it!  It's easily buildable and the lasting power is incredible.  I highly recommend.

And the perfect brush to stipple the Josie Maran blush onto my face?  I have been loving the Mac 130 Short Duo Fibre brush.  It has tightly packed bristles making controlling the application a doddle.  It doesn't swallow up too much product (I hate brushes that do that) and is brilliant with all types of cream blusher.  I think I bought it originally as a foundation brush but I find the head a bit small for all over application.  Am very tempted to buy a back up-you never know when a cat is going to nab off with it and stash it in their magical hiding place where the tops off everything seem to go.  I saw Fizzy sniffing around it this morning....

What are you currently loving?


Saturday, April 12, 2014

What's in my handbag-the weekend edit.

It's the weekend which I always feel calls for a less 'everything but the kitchen sink' approach to my handbag.

Here's the minimal basics I carry around at the weekend.

First up I am loving my Louis Vuitton Speedy 35 in their classic monogram which was a birthday gift from Mike.  It's actually the first time I have taken it out of the dust bag today and it still has the creases in from where Louis Vuitton fold the bag flat!

The 35 is the perfect size for chucking everything in and fits perfectly in the crook of the arm.

My Prada saffiano leather purse was a present from my best friend Danielle for my 30th.  Four years on (ahem) it still looks good and the colour and size is just perfect.

I don't go anywhere without my iphone 5 for essential twitter/instagram updates through the day.  The battery is horrific so I generally always have a charger with me as well.  The screen saver is my super cute nieces.

Minimal but essential make up-a lip balm-the Eve Lom Kiss Mix was the closest to hand this morning and is a minty fresh, slightly tingling balm but kind of messy for touch ups during the day.  It's a great overnight balm though.

I've been carrying around the Chanel Les Beiges for a while for touch ups to my shiny t-zone throughout the day.  This is one compact that actually comes with a half decent brush.  I don't adore it but it blots shine for an hour or so and of course it looks pretty swanky.

Today's lip choice (and it is actually amazing there was only one in my handbag) is the Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Lohdi-a super bright coral colour.

I love the Nars Satin Lip pencil formula and here's why
  • They glide on the lips effortlessly and feel weightless on the lips
  • They pack a pigmentation punch and they fade really evenly
  • They're not drying at all and you'll get no bleeding or settling into a nasty ring around the lips
  • They're easy to re-apply during the day
  • They sharpen easily

I don't go anywhere without sunglasses in Dubai-the harsh UVA/UVB rays are constant and I try to limit wrinkles by always protecting my eyes.

These sunglasses are from Tiffany and have a cat eye shape and Tiffany blue trim and a Tiffany heart on the arm.

A few people have asked me which sunglasses these are and you can find them here but I got mine from House of Fraser in Westfield last year.

As some of you know Mike has been unwell the last few days and is still undergoing tests.

We've been trying to take it easy this weekend but felt a bit couped up whilst the sun shone outside so we went out for lunch today and some fresh air (well as fresh as you can get in Dubai).  It was 34 degrees today and definitely the last few weeks before it's too hot to do anything outside!

What do you carry around at the weekends in your handbag?  You can see my 'everything but the kitchen sink' normal handbag post here


Friday, April 11, 2014

Amazing Elemis Facials and Elemis Therapist Of The Year Middle East 2014


Elemis is one of my all time favourite brands and I was utterly delighted when they contacted me and asked if I would like to be on their panel to select the 'Therapist Of The Year' for 2014.

After nearly falling off my chair in delight I obviously said of course I would!

I was judging the 'facial therapist of the year' category and underwent 5 facials at different salons in the UAE

There were 2 different facials I could have-the Visible Brilliance and the Pro Collagen Quartz Lift Facial-both 75 minute treatments.

I had two of each facial and at my final facial I requested the Visible Brilliance because it was just SO good.

The standard across the board was so high and the level of training Elemis give their therapists must be so in depth.  Each facial started with a detailed consultation about my skin and my concerns and included a 'mirror analysis' where the therapist divided the face into 3 parts and each area was discussed.  You can also ask the therapist to tailor the treatment to any preferences you have, for example I asked them to avoid lavender based products and anything with cocoa butter in it.

Each facial started with a double cleanse and tone-using the Pro Radiance Cream Cleanser in the Pro Collagen Quartz Lift facial and a cleanser suitable for my skin type in the Visible Brilliance-all the therapists used the Rehydrating Rosepetal cleanser which I absolutely loved and it smells amazing.

They then toned the skin using either the Soothing Apricot Toner or the Rehydrating Ginzing Toner and then got to work with a combination of masks, peels and facial massage.

The Visible Brilliance started with the Papaya Enzyme Peel mask-a ten minute non granular exfoliating cream that uses the natural fruit enzyme actions of papaya and pineapple to smooth, brighten and clarify.  This is actually a product I own and use myself and absolutely love.  It's gentle enough for sensitive skins too.

Whilst that was on I was treated by each therapist to a lovely neck and shoulder massage-I felt myself nodding off on more than one occasion!

After the first mask was removed a second mask went on (and the same mask was used in all of the facials) and it is what I can only describe as some kind of miracle mask that I wish you could buy but unfortunately it's for salon use only (*sad face*)

The mask was mixed up by the therapist-as I lay there with a soothing compress over my eyes I could hear them mixing, mixing, mixing the powder with warm water.  The therapist then literally paints the mask onto your face and neck.  It feels like a thick, cold gel and it sets quickly.  It's left on for 10 minutes whilst you receive a scalp massage and then the therapist literally peels the mask off in one fell swoop.  I just had to feel my skin immediately and it feels so so soft and plumped.  I loved this mask!

In two of the facials I was offered extraction on my face where the therapist used steam to open pores and then had a go at extracting any blackheads and milia.  It wasn't standard across all the facials and it wasn't offered in the hotel based facials.

The therapists then applied toner again and then a serum to the skin-in the Pro Collagen Quartz Lift facial the Pro Collagen Quartz Lift Serum was used and in the Visible Brilliance the Visible Brilliance serum was applied.  The serum was used also to lubricate the skin for a really lovely facial massage.

The next mask was then applied-in the Pro Collagen Quartz Lift facial the Pro Collagen Quartz Lift mask was used which was another cream based mask containing uplifting ingredients such as Moringa and Argan Tree Oil.

In the Visible Brilliance I had the Exotic Cream Moisturising Mask which I purchased afterwards because I loved it so much.  This mask is perfect for people with dry or dehydrated skin or for those who spend a lot of time in air conditioning or flying (tick, tick) and contains amino acid rich honey, immune boosting sea rocket, echinacea, mandarin and bergamot.  No wonder my senses were in heaven! This mask can even be left on overnight and will definitely be used by me as a weekly hydrating treat.

Whilst that mask was on I received a hand and arm massage-these treatments really are utterly blissful.   I also had a serum for the eyes applied to cotton pads and placed under the eyes.

It's worth noting that none of the masks used in the treatments tingled, stung or felt tight on my skin at all.

Finally the mask was removed with a hot flannel (as were all the cleansers and masks apart from the peel off mask) and the serum was applied again, an eye cream and then finally a layer of moisturiser.  The Pro Collagen marine cream seemed to be a popular choice and is one of Elemis' best sellers.

I have to say after every treatment my skin felt plumped and my skin really glowed.  After the first Visible Brilliance facial I honestly couldn't stop looking at my face in the mirror my skin looked that nice!!  I also found that my under eye area looked really smooth and hydrated.

The therapists I visited were:

Lydia at Essa Beauty in Jumeriah Lake Towers in Dubai
Suwanna at The Anantara Spa at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi (this was without doubt the most luxurious and beautiful spa I have ever been to)
Natalie at The Haven Spa in Layan Community in Dubai
Nareerat at Sensasia in the Village Mall in Dubai and
Sunaree at the Heavenly Spa in the Westin Hotel in Dubai

The actual room I had my treatment in at Emirates Palace hotel-utterly incredible!  Photo credit

Sensasia spa The Village Mall Dubai-photo credit
My role was to go and have the facial (compliments of Elemis Middle East-thank you again so much!) as a mystery shopper and then to complete an extensive questionnaire about the experience and give feedback.  Whilst all the facials were incredible I preferred the standalone salons to the hotel ones.  I think because in the hotel ones they are so used to seeing tourists for one time only whereas at the standalone salons it's in their interest to take a long term interest in your skin and it's condition as you're more likely to go back as a regular client.

Of the 5 facials, two really stood out to me.  Natalie at the Haven was so passionate about her job and about the Elemis brand.  She was incredibly personable and had a really good understanding of skincare and ingredients that are suitable for each skin type.  She was incredibly professional and I am sure I will return for more treatments with her.  I was delighted when Natalie won the award for the Elemis Facial Therapist of the Year at the prestigious awards ceremony that I attended on Monday evening.

Natalie (second from right) from the Haven Spa-Elemis Facial Therapist of the Year 2014.  Photo credit Spa Resources International
The whole experience I had with Lydia from Essa Beauty was just beyond what I could have ever have hoped to find in a therapist in Dubai.  In the 9 years I have lived here I have never come across anyone who is more knowledgeable about skin types and skin conditions, who was so passionate  about educating her clients and was a fountain of professionalism, passion and skill.  Lydia is also incredible at extraction and really helped my skin get rid of some tiny stubborn milia without leaving any scarring.  It was everything I wanted in a facial-she took time to really understand my skin type and conditions, she educated me about ph levels in the skin during the facial, her technique was utterly professional and I was very relaxed.  She recommended products she used herself, fitting them into my existing (very varied routine) rather than advocating an 'all Elemis' routine.

The salon is bright and beautiful with white and purple accents and is a world of tranquility in the heart of busy JLT.  The staff were all absolutely lovely and I can see why Lydia is often booked up weeks in advance.

I was equally delighted when Lydia won the overall Therapist of the Year-I feel it is a title which is thoroughly deserved considering the way I, and my skin felt when I walked out of her salon.

Lydia Espin from Essa Beauty, Elemis Therapist of the Year 2014.  Photo credit Spa Resources International

The Essa Beauty team-Rachell, Aimee, Lydia, Jess and Kristine.  Photo credit Spa Resources International
If you live in Dubai and want to go to a really excellent and knowledge facialist who will understand and help to treat your skincare concerns I would highly highly recommend Lydia or Natalie.

The awards ceremony was held at the very swanky Raffles Hotel in Dubai.  Congratulations to all of the other winners

The Elemis Middle East team-all looking super glam!  Photo credit Spa Resources International

Congratulations Janine Wagner-Spa Manager of the Year.  Photo credit Spa Resources International

Congratulations Sensasia Urban Spa for winning the Elemis Best Practice Award.  Photo credit Spa Resources International
Congratulations Sujaree from Anahata Spa for winning Body Therapist of the Year.  Photo credit Spa Resources International

Name in lights :)))

Thank you to Jay from Hairworks Dubai for doing my hair before the event-Jay is absolutely incredible and this is the second up do I have had from there-she has an incredible knack of making me look like I have far more hair than I actually do!

And thank you again to Spa Resources International for organising the treatments and the awards ceremony.
I have to say I am now hooked on facials!  Alongside my already pretty extensive skincare routine I will definitely be making time for a monthly Visible Brilliance facial!

Elemis products can be bought at all of the above salons in Dubai and in the UK you can buy the products directly from Time To Spa.  I did treat myself to a few things during my treatments-my picks would be the Soothing Apricot Toner, the Papaya Enzyme Peel  and the Exotic Cream Moisturising Mask.

What are your favourite Elemis products?

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