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31 Mar 2013

Saving Face

Note to self: never be without a face oil again. And specifically the one featured below.

Aesop has been getting a lot of positive coverage on blogs and whenever a brand gets a round of raves I tend to adopt a cynical hat. Intense coverage often smacks of PR samples and I always think that if you are sent something to review it's really hard to slag it off. It's a slightly unfair stance to take but I have to admit that it's always my first thought.

At the same time Aesop was featured by bloggers I viewed as credible sources and there was just something about this brand that I thought must be good.  I generally love brands that blend science and nature - the best of both worlds - so I bought two products from them - the Parsley Seed mask and the Fabulous Face Oil.

Now the mask is very nice, smooths out skin texture nicely and is a great weekly addition to the routine but I wouldn't say it was outstandingly unique. The Fabulous Face Oil however, probably is.

This stuff, applied nightly, has been a God send. My dehydrated skin has been massaged with 3-5 drops of oil at night and then put to bed. When woken in the morning everything feels soft, nourished and evenly textured with no greasy residue sitting on top. It also works excellently to calm irritated or intensely dry skin - I  apply this on my neck as I tend to get eczema in a specific area and that patch now feels smooth.

Other things that might be useful to know:

* You can put this on in the morning - either on it's own or mixed into a cream. Unlike some oils its absorbed quickly and so won't interfere too much with your makeup - just leave it 5 minutes to sink in.
* The packaging is both a blessing and a curse. Whilst the brown glass stops the product degrading from exposure to UV rays it's not ideal for travelling nor tiled floors...I am constantly terrified of dropping it.
* It costs just under £40 but the stopper prevents you from wasting product and I reckon this will last a minimum of 6-9 months.

So yes, it's very very lovely! And now I want more Aesop - oops!

To balance the argument out a bit though the reaction I have had to this one probably mirrors how I felt about The Sanctuary's oil (well priced and from Boots) and also Sarah Chapman's (more expensive from Space NK). There is just something comforting about an intense treatment that keeps your skin balanced in either very hot or very cold weather. So it's a big thumbs up to facial oils - irrespective of where they come from! :)

Aesop Fabulous Face Oil can be bought from Selfridges for £39 - Link! or Barney's if you are based in the USA/elsewhere - Link!

Have you ever tried this?

What's your "treatment" skin product that you rely on to make the signs of a busy day disappear?
29 Mar 2013

The Helmut Lang Skirt

This is all a bit "Single White Female" because I saw my friend Teresa wear Helmut Lang skirts and decided that I would copy.

Harvey Nichols had this black style on offer - complete with dramatic exposed split - and after trying it on I knew I had to have it. 

There is just something about the cut that works better than the skirts I have got from other stores (namely Brandy Melville). It's so flattering and easy to wear. The fact that it is also double lined for half the skirt length helps a lot - no sunlight-illuminating-the-privates scenarios round here....and yes, I have experienced that before and have been suitably mortified.

I wore it out today for a lazy lunch in old Jumeirah and to keep things relaxed, retrieved an old American Eagle top from my wardrobe. I do like a bit of American Eagle and its worth popping in every now and then to see what tops and denim they have on offer. They are well priced and of a good quality.

It's starting to get very hot in Dubai again so having flowing light fabrics felt right. 

Skirt: Helmut by Helmut Lang - Link!
Top: American Eagle
Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti - scored from thoutnet.com for next to nothing.
Sunglasses: Celine
Neclace: Tiffany and Co and River Island (from last year)
Bag: Alexander Wang - Link!

I hope you have had a great week. I can't believe it's Easter! I need to buy a bag of mini eggs and demolish them in order to get into the spirit...not that chocolate is what it's all about but you know what I mean... 

See you tomorrow!

(Insert non-essential picture of Roger :) 

23 Mar 2013

STRANGEBEAUTIFUL nail polish haul

I am always a bit concerned when ordering online. It's not the process that worries me but more the fact that packages tend to go walkies in Dubai and either never turn up or turn up very late - *cough cough* ASOS. 

So I was a bit nervous about this beauty haul. It was my first order with Cult Beauty, a site I had seen other bloggers talk about, and I did go a bit mad so thank God, it arrived on time and in tact. 

In my parcel was some Aesop skincare (love...and it's so nice to be using a face oil again), Ellis Faas eye pen (incredible) and a weird perfume (also love) but the star of the show has to be the STRANGEBEAUTIFUL "library of colour". 

The name of this "library" is Inept Laundress, so called as the creator wanted to mimic the effect of a white wash gone wrong. So what you have is a spectrum of creamy off-white hues that look absolutely beautiful together.

I like every single colour - even the slightly murky/bogey green one.

I applied a colour on each nail 4 days ago. I didn't bother with base coat (not intentional - I actually forgot) but I did apply an Essie topcoat. As of right now there are a couple of tiny chips but the staying power is impressive.

What I also noticed, when applying, was the pigmentation. Almost all of them were opaque in one coat. This was a bit of a relief as I know we have all struggled with bitchy sheer colours that refuse to play nice. I have since read that STRANGEBEAUTIFUL  have higher pigment levels than most brands (40-60% more) which would explain the perfect, un-Essie like rich finish. What you see in the bottle is what you get on your nails.

The only things I don't like are the fact that the colours themselves do not have a name. This makes me sad as I am a huge fan of cutesy/stupid polish names.

The biggest downer though is the brush. I am not a great nail polish applier and because my nails are short at the moment (welcome to Gelish rehab) I did find it difficult to work with a long brush. I prefer something shorter and fatter but that may be a personal thing.

Would I recommend it? Yes. It's a great gift for nail polish addicts. It's not "cheap" but this is how I justified it in my head: Each bottle has the same quantity (thereabouts) as Essie + And you get 10 of them + Which makes it about £6 a bottle + And that doesn't sound too bad = girly maths

You can get it here - Link!
16 Mar 2013

The Reiss Maxi Skirt

I hope you are all having a lovely weekend!

It's been a while since I wore a maxi skirt but when I went into Reiss and saw this one, with it's gradient colouring, I gravitated towards it immediately.

I did try it on - something I never normally do (living on the edge people!) - because I was concerned that I would end up sweeping Dubai's floors with all the fabric but the length is actually perfect. It does hit the floor in flats but it doesn't drag around. I think the high-waist-to-floor length also make me look a little bit taller and I am all about that!

In the ideal world I would wear this with a white/pearl coloured silk top. I don't own one of those yet so I played it safe with my white Zara shirt. It sort of works.

Skirt: Reiss (not yet online but in stores)
Shirt: Zara
Bag: Phillip Lim Pashli in Ink - Link!
Sunglasses: House of Harlow "Chelsea"

After I picked up this skirt I went into Harvey Nichols for a little browse. One thing led to another and I decided to get my face matched at the MAC counter. I haven't tanned for months and the fake tan has been scrubbed off for a couple of weeks so I was interested to see what shade they thought my skin was. I was only wearing concealer (Armani Maestro - AMAZING) so now was as good a time as any.

And the result? Apparently I am an NC20 - with a possibility to also sport NC15. NC15!

The make up artist applied the NC20 on my face and she was right - it did sort of work....the rest of the makeup she applied afterwards? Not so much....

I do have an annoying skin tone that changes constantly - a weekend in the sun and this won't work at all - but for now it's good to have a head and body that match! Hurray! :) 
12 Mar 2013

Business up top, party down below

I was working from home today and rule number one in such instances is: "Get dressed"

I have done the whole slobbing around in pyjamas thing and what I learned about that was that "not getting dressed makes me depressed". So I get up, put my face and clothes on and make a vat of coffee. Only then do I feel ready for the day.

At the same time I don't want to go all out and wear anything too exciting - and so we end up with something like the below. Don't worry, I didn't march around my house wearing my blazer - that was purposefully added for the Starbucks run and to provide a bit of comfort around the arse area as with shorts this short I fear over-exposure.

The only thing new here is the blouse - a little number from ASOS. I think I got this (and a few other items) because it reminded me of something that Mollie from The Saturdays would wear. To say I am now obsessed with her/them after being glued to Chasing the Saturdays would be an understatement. Their makeup, their hair, their clothes - that show is one big style perve.

Onto the photos!

Shorts: Zara (TRF)
Blouse: ASOS - Link!
Blazer: Zara
Necklace: my favourite piece from H&M!
Bag: Alexander Wang - Link!
Sunglasses: House of Harlow

Before I leave you tonight I wanted to add in a hair product recommendation. I have been meaning to mention this for a while but my bottle looked too used/manky so I waited until bottle number 2 was purchased!

This is by Phyto and is officially called Phytovolume actif. It is a volumising spray designed for fine hair and I think it's fantastic. If you apply liberally on damp hair, blast completely dry with a hairdryer you will then notice an increase in hair density. You hair feels full without any residue in the root.

Most Phyto products have a herbal smell and this is no different but it's not unpleasant and once you have obliterated it with the hairdry you can neither feel nor smell it. I still use dry shampoo to amp up the volume on occasion but for those of us with fine hair that can be easily weighed down with product, this is a must have first step in the styling routine!

You can buy Phyto in Boots (Dubai) and also on sites like Lookfantastic or Space NK - it costs around £15 (and will last about 4 months).

NB. My bottle is the old packaging - they have recently revamped their brand and the new style is a brushed metallic finish.

Hope you are having a great week! 
10 Mar 2013

The Clean Textured White Dress

I got the white dress from Topshop. I mentioned it in a post a while back, saw it in the branch in Dubai Mall and snatched it from the rail.

I love this dress. The material feel durable and thick - you could even be daring and wear black underwear with this and not even give it a second thought - the sleeves have a nice volume to them and the shape is straight. It's a little sack-esque when worn because it doesn't cling to the body but this hasn't been done in a hideously unflattering way. It just makes it comfortable.

I wore this yesterday with big glasses, my new bag and flats.

I aways feel guilty about wearing flats for some reason - I almost feel an obligation to vamp it up in heels for photo purposes but that's just not my daily life. So here's to feeling stumpy, embracing the flat shoe and keeping it real!

Dress: Topshop - Link!
Sunglasses: House of Harlow - Link! Probably my favourite sunglasses ever! Even though they dwarf my pinhead I still adore them!
Bag: 3.1 Philip Lim Pashli in Ink - Link! (Barney's Global seem to the only ones with a decent stock selection at the moment)

Confession time!

Now let's discuss the Pashli. I have admired this bag for some time and when the Shopbop sale was announced I decided that 20% off would be the incentive needed to commit. I swear to God this is the last time I will buy a bag this year.

It arrived in 2 days and my initial reactions were as follows:

1) Blimey, it's big
2) I love the durability of the textured leather
3) The shoulder strap is stupidly long and the bag looks ridiculous worn on my shoulder.
4) The closure is nice and easy to open but damn hard to close
5) The fact that there is no external branding is a huge plus
6) There are nice details on the bag that make it stand out and get attention

The most important reaction though was the overall impression - and that was "I love it".

This is the perfect bag - modern but classic. I have worn it to work (it holds a laptop with ease and with acres of space to spare) and worn it casually. Like the Celine Mini Luggage, it suits every occasion. It's fashionable but not trendy and price wise it rests in expensive but not ridiculous (ie, Hermes/Chanel/Celine). I really hope Philip Lim doesn't raise the price this year.

If you are in the market for a new bag and a high-end one at that I would definitely put the Pashli forward!

PS. Book-wise I have just finished reading White Girl Problems - Link! It was an taxing as you would expect but a seriously fun read. I may have LOL'd at parts whilst reading this in bed.

Now I am onto The Fault in our Stars by John Green - Link! - as recommended by a reader of this blog. I predict laughter and many tears by the time I am through.

PPS. Happy Mother's Day, Mary :) xxx
8 Mar 2013

An afternoon at sea with Reiss

I do like a bit of Reiss. It all started Spring/Summer '08. There was a dress and I had to have it . It's still in my wardrobe and one of my very favourite items.

I would describe Reiss as a premium high street brand that tastefully positions itself halfway between trend-led and classic. If you only shopped at Reiss you would present a very "together" image, appearing fashion-aware but in a very tasteful and understated way.

I have featured a few dresses/skirts in my OOTD's before and this is probably one of the reasons why I was invited to spend to close out the working week with them and Emirates Woman magazine. On a yacht.

I said yes - obviously - and booked a half day off work. Who wouldn't want to sit on a luxury boat, watching models parade around with the Spring/Summer collection on and enjoy cocktails with other bloggers?

*insert smug face*

Seriously though it was a great way to end a stressful work week - if only all Thursdays could be like that!

I did have a bit of a dilemma about what to wear. The dress code was "dress to impress" but I knew it was going to be hot and that I wouldn't be able to wear any shoes on the boat so I decided to go for something light and simple.

I paired it with a new accessory....this is my shy admission of a new handbag. I will do a separate post about this because the Pashli is everything I wanted it to be. I know it is very possible/rational to love a handbag and I immediately did that with this one.

Anyway, here are some pictures from the afternoon...

Shirt: Zara
Skirt: Missoni 
Sunglasses: RayBan
Bag: 3.1 Philip Lim Pashli in Navy - Link!

The photo below was taken by the Reiss team and is on their Instagram - Link! 

At this point I was trying to balance (rough water) and also appear "together" for an outfit post. 

Fail! :)

The collection was beautiful as expected. Subtle ruffle trims, unique prints, flattering peplums and tailored trousers. Next pay day I may find myself in store trying to stay true to my "class it up" style resolution and trying on the white belted pencil skirt, shell top and maxi dress. Watch this space :)

What do you think of Reiss? Have you bought anything from there before?

PS. Happy Women's Day! :)

6 Mar 2013

Talk Scents

I have been secretly hoarding some perfumes so it's about time to come clean and have a chat about each and every one.

So here we go!

Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir

Don't be fooled by the picture of a lone burning candle. It may suggest to you that I have simply dabbled in Pomegranate Noir but I have in fact hauled the bath oil and the mini perfume. And yes, when I purchased the set in store I pretended it was a gift for someone else so it would be wrapped beautifully :)

Needless to say, I love this fragrance. It's scent makeup makes it equal parts sultry and fresh, smelling strongly woody at first and then settling into a warm, fruity note. I spray it liberally on myself and love how it's neither masculine or feminine - it's neutral and if I think about it, that's quite unusual in a fragrance. I think that's why it works amazingly well as a candle - it fills a home with a fragrance that isn't too jarringly sweet or sour.

I know many of you have been buying this for years - I am about two decades too late - and have told me that this is something that is great layered with other Jo Malone fragrances.

Mmmm....all that layering lark...it sounds like a clever gimmick to make us buy more stuff, doesn't it? And yes, of course I am down for that!

Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules

This is that perfume that you cannot smell on yourself but drives those around you wild with excitement due to it containing a high quantity of ISOe Super.


Did that happen to me?

Well I am definitely anosmic to this - I cannot detect anything extra distinctive on me when I wear it - so that part is semi-true.

Driving people wild? Being chased down the street? Attracting Alexander Skarsgard? Negative. I did get a couple of nice comments in the UK but they were from friends and more along the lines of "what are you wearing?" which is not necessarily a question to be interpreted as a compliment. Perhaps I stank and this was their way of finding out why...who knows!

I do admit to buying it purely for the experimentation factor - I wanted to see if the ISOe Super reacted with my skin to create something beautiful. This is what a lot of bloggers reported and the perfume reviews online seem to state the same, but this is also proof that it doesn't always work out. It now resides in the "Box of Weird Perfumes" on my dresser, sitting next to my Etat Libre D'Orange coffret set.

I should review that brand's most controversial offering - Secretions Magnifique -  but that's a whole other story...and one that I really don't want to get into! (Google it and you will understand...ewww)

Glam Star by Custo Barcelona

I was given this recently by the PR company and all I can say is, don't let the bling-styled bottle fool you! It's actually quite nice.

I would describe it pear-meets-patchouli which results in a strong sweet opener and a musky dry down. It reminds me of Cavalli's fragrance (Just Cavalli) - but definitely more complex because of the woody notes that underpin it.

Having said that it's more on the youthful side - which is to be expected if you think of the Custo Barcelona brand and target audience - but if I feel like pretending to be 10 years younger then this is one way for me to get there!

So that's my perfume round up...as always I have my nose on some new ones. The amped up Bulgari Jasmin Noir is top of that list.

What are you wearing lately?
1 Mar 2013

By Terry "Terrybly" lipstick in 101

Well this is a turn up for the books, isn't it? Straight hair!

I don't think I have worn my hair straight for about 2 years such is my devotion to the conical wand. Today I just fancied a change and I like to see how long my hair looks when straight so 5 minutes with a spectacularly dusty Cloud Nine straightener resulted in this...

And that wasn't the only thing different today....oh yes, the lipstick!

This lipstick has been in my collection for nearly a year - and yet I have never really given it a chance. And it definitely deserves one.

It's smooth to apply, glides on with rich pigment, has decent staying power and feels non-drying. It's from By Terry and called Flirty Rosy (101), part of the Rouge Terrybly range.

This is my "grown up" nude lipstick. It's slightly rosy/brown so defines and adds colour without feeling too theatrical or strong. I have worn it all day - even whilst cleaning and dog walking :) - and I think this could/should easily become part of my life.

I wore this with a very full face...even false lashes! And I wasn't even doing anything exciting today. My only excuse is that the weekend is my beauty experimentation time.

So the sake of completeness I will run through the rest of the products I wore....

* A blend of Rachel K CC cream and By Terry Cover Expert foundation  (Vanilla Beige) all over the face - I really like both of these products individually. I am not sure why I decided to blend them together today but hey, I did. I used my fingers to get an even coverage.

* MAC Prep+Prime Light Boost highlighter - this is my second pen...I don't think it has been mentioned before but it's a fantastic under eye product. The yellow tone counteracts any redness or signs of a busy week.

* MAC Girlie shadow - my blush today was this...and I applied liberally (read: heavily). It's a nice neutral pink that also worked lightly brushed over the lids.

* Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting powder in Medium - I am obsessed with this product. Obsessed. It's an amazing contour - he really did create a colour that mimics a shadow - and also my crease/lower lashes product of choice. I can't get through a day without this and today was no different.

* MAC Crystal Avalanche - if you like a subtle inner corner highlight this is not the colour for you - it's a bright pearl - but I love lightly applying it both there and in the centre of the lid.

* YSL waterproof eye pencil - Mix Stila eye kajal with Urban Decay Zero and you get this. All the creaminess and intensity with none of the panda eye.  I apply this along the upper lashline and then blend with a stubby little Laura Mercier brush that I absolutely love.

* MUFE Smokey Lash - cannot beat this mascara. Nothing else to say...could this be tube number 10?

All of the above is pretty standard for me - it's more or less what I wear on a daily basis. The big difference though was the lip product and it's amazing how a lipstick can completely change your look and mood. I felt really happy wearing this and loved how it added some colour and brightness to my face.

So Flirty Rosy, here's a proper welcome to my life. I promise not to bury you in the lipstick drawer any more.

What's your favourite lip product of the moment?