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21 May 2013

Minimal makeup - attempt 1!

I have tried the minimal makeup thing before. It either ended up involving more products than usual or comments from friends/colleagues along the lines of "you look tired/ill/rough/hungover".

Makeup has always been a way for me to look better than my natural self. It's my game face to the outside world, disguising the tiredness and replacing it with brightness.

The thing is though, I have always loved that look of skin. Fresh skin with nothing on it. It looks good in daylight - no hints of caked on slap - and I am convinced that not wearing foundation must do good things.

So the other week I decided to give it a whirl. 

Well, kind of. I didn't exactly go cold turkey but I really tried to use the bare minimum.

It went something like this:

* Slap on NARS Creamy Concealer in Custard below the eyes, around the nose and on chin...basically everywhere. Blend in and then promise yourself never to be without such a great product ever again.

* Apply some sort of colour on the face. This can be bronzer (FACE Stockholm in Capri) or it can be a blush. The key is warmth so that you don't get told you look like crap when you get to the office. 

* Do something with eyebrows. Those patchy bits need to be filled in and doing that adds some structure. Very necessary! (Not pictured but it has to be MUFE Aqua Brow).

* Get an eyeliner and create a flick on the outer half of your eye. Don't take it all the way in. If you do, your eyes will look like pinholes. I used Chanel La Ligne - not the easiest product in the world to work with but if you want a black/black then this is a must!

* Apply a lot of mascara. Better yet get eyelash extensions. Minimal makeup challenges fully endorse cheating.

* Get a lip product on. Go for something glossy. Maybe MAC Underage because applying it makes you feel nostalgic or maybe it's By Terry Baume de Rose which makes you feel oh so sophisticated (and poor). 

Leave the bathroom, carry on with your day and come 5pm look in the mirror and admire your shiny T-zone before touching up the concealer and bronzer. 

And that's pretty much it.

So what have I learned in reducing the routine? 

a) It takes a nano second to get ready in the morning which leaves more time for procrastination/alarm clock delay tactics.

b) I no longer feel self-conscious/worried about whether my foundation matches my skin tone, whether my shadow has dropped on the top of my cheeks or if I look like I am wearing too much for daytime. 

c) NARS Creamy Concealer is a must. I LOVE this stuff and would recommend it to everyone. It does remind me of MAC Moisturecover but I think this is perhaps slightly creamier in consistency. I have heard some reports from users who found it drying. I personally didn't but I have normal skin that is probably more oily than dry. You cannot buy NARS in Dubai but I got this from Space NK - Link!

d) Good skin days are key. There are two products I have been loving but I will mention those in another post. Hint: REN and Dr Sebagh :) 

I think this is my new "thing". Foundation is still lovely to wear at night but during the day, and especially during the summer, it's nice to keep it simple. 

I might do a "What I am wearing" kind of post every week - sort of a retrospective with a review of key products. What do you think? 

PS. I feel like this post reads as very dramatic..."oh look at me trying something so out there/brave"...I take makeup way too seriously!
19 May 2013

The Reiss Sahara Print Dress

I have been buying a lot of Reiss recently because:

a) Their Spring/Summer collection is lovely; and
b) I am very lucky/grateful to have a discount card.

This dress was used in one of the main season advertising campaigns and the model wore it with a low ponytail and some seriously strappy nude sandals.

I decided to rip that look off completely (bar the hair...which I didn't put any effort at all in judging from the photos below..I blame the heat!) and wore it out on Friday for sundowner's on the Palm with some very nice heels/booties from BCBG.

These are SO comfortable. And I hardly ever say that about heels. I walked in these very easily - no rubbing or irritation - and even looked normal whilst doing so. No staggering.

They come in black but I went for the nude after seeing them on my friend Teresa. Plus they make your legs look long...something my stumps really appreciate! I will wear these a lot - they are the perfect way to balance out a super feminine dress or skirt.

I love the background of these photos. If you are in Dubai get a taxi/car to drive you to the end of the Palm near the One and Only or Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotels. You get an amazing view of the Marina and the added bonus of being able to pop into the hotels for a drink...or two!

Dress: Reiss - Link!
Shoes: BCBG - Link!
Bag: Givenchy Antigona in a colour I call "Mod About You" :)
Sunglasses: House of Harlow

FYI: I am going through a "let's not wear a lot of makeup" phase.

Obviously the natural look isn't obtained by going natural - if only it were that easy - but for a week now I have massively paired down what I use on my face.

I will post about this tomorrow because coupled into that are some skincare items (cue dramatic statement) I simply couldn't live without :) 
18 May 2013

The scent of summer...

Ah, I love this!

This is the ideal summer perfume. It reminds me of the likes of Daisy by Marc Jacobs or Gucci Flora Eau Fraiche  and like those scents, Viva La Juicy La Fleur has that ability to make you feel refreshed and clean as soon as you spray it.

Being a Juicy Couture number, the notes are made up of basic florals  - gardenia/jasmine/honeysuckle - but these are all wrapped up in fruity sweetness.

This all sounds quite generic but there is just something about this that works...I can't tell you what that is exactly but it's a perfume that I have been happily spraying day and night.

I see a lot of the reviews iterate the same thing - it's just a really lovely fragrance to wear. The same reviews also comment on the longevity and that seems to be the one issue that wearers face - after an hour or so they cannot smell it at all.

I would agree with this - I often feel the same and spray to refresh so that I can enjoy the smell - but I have been asked what I am wearing even when I thought that it had completely faded. I like to think that this means it has absorbed well with my body chemistry...but who knows!

I always love these light summer fragrances. Anything with Eau Fraiche at the end has me interested because they are always wearable and pretty.

I asked this on Instagram yesterday but for the sake of completeness, what's your favourite summer scent?

PS. Photo edited with the BeautifulMess app - love the whimsical text/effects but less keen on all the in-app purchasing required...any other recommendations for similar apps welcome! 
16 May 2013

The Contrast Panel Skirt

A belated OOTD post for you!

This week summer has finally hit Dubai and it's all about 100 degree temperatures and sweating whilst waiting for a taxi to take you to work.

This outfit was absolutely perfect. Light colours and light fabrics.

I really love the skirt. It's a perfect work appropriate length. The orange stripe, contrasted with a super soft grey is a nice touch. The fact that it's offset by the split at the bottom makes it stand out even more. I got a couple of compliments from random strangers when wearing this which I always take as a good sign!

I wore it with a plain light silk tee, silver shoes and my Philip Lim bag which is now my preferred work bag of choice due to it's durability (READ: Fact it can carry a ton). I like to think that it's heaviness helps me build arm muscles :)

Skirt: Reiss - Link!
Top: Reiss - Link!
Shoes: Zara - Link!
Bag: Philip Lim Pashli - Link!
Sunglasses: Celine

Beauty wise...

As you will see I did colour my hair with the help of a Phyto dye in Dark Brown.

I have heard that this is not available in all countries but if you like the idea of getting a true cool dark brown hair dye on your head then it's worth the effort to track this down.

I originally tried this in Singapore - I prefer to ruin hotel towels rather than my own - loving the fact that it didn't make my scalp tingle. This might be down to the fact that it is supposed to be quite gentle in formulation.

That wasn't the most impressive factor though - what I loved was that the end result was completely cool. There were absolutely no red tones at all. It reminded me of an all-time favourite dye by Clairol that has been discontinued (Moroccan Night).

I have since used it to touch up/darken my roots but after a while I wanted to reboot my hairstyle and say a short goodbye to the ombre. I say short because the only downside of this product is that it does seem to wash out quickly.

In a couple of weeks my hair will not be as dark and my lightened ombre will come through. This I don't actually mind. It makes the colour feel like less of a commitment and when it starts to fade my hair just ends up looking like it's got more dimension. Of course the reveal of the greys is a little less welcome...

So if you hanker after dark brown hair (they do other colours but I cannot vouch for them) I know for sure that you can buy it in some European countries, across Asia and in the Middle East. I have seen it on this UK site - Link! - but that's all that Google gave me.

Hope you all have a great Thursday! Lots of posts coming this weekend :) 
11 May 2013


I have been wearing some new accessories lately so why not do a little post talking about them? It's a bit of everything including items from small, bespoke jewellers to earrings from the giant churn factory that is Forever 21.

So here we go!

The bracelet

I was recently invited to meet a new jewellery designer called Azza Bijou. It was a lovely evening, surrounded by blogger friends - including Teresa and Lisa (LOVE Lisa's blog...do follow if you haven't already as she updates frequently and covers fashion and beauty) and at the end of the night I was gifted one of her bracelets.

L-R: Teresa, Azza, Lisa, Me with my friend Grape/Mint sheesha and Seher. Thanks Maha for the photo! :) 

I put it on in the taxi home and haven't taken it off since. It's been about 3 weeks.

Everything that she produces is inspired by Islamic architecture - think geometric shapes in the Arabesque style.

I love the neatness and simplicity of her designs and the one that I received has that nice contrast between gold and enamel. It's pretty and easy to wear.

From my experience I would have to say it's also great quality. As I said, I have worn it constantly over the last few weeks and it has survived numerous showers/baths with no complaints.

Azza is a new designer and so is not stocked in major retailers....yet! If you want to find out more and perhaps support an upcoming jeweller then check out her Facebook :)


The necklace

A few of you have asked about this already as I have been wearing it pretty much constantly over the last month.

This is totally up my street. It's dainty, a word that I now cringe at due to it's overuse but dammit...it's dainty and that is the only word that fits to describe this necklace!

This is from New Vintage by Kriss, an Estonian based designer I was introduced to by my friend Laura P.  As soon as I saw it I swiped it off her. I loved the combination of the gold disc with the tiny semi-precious stone. It's a partnership that really lifts and illuminates the skin - even though it's small and delicate it seems to catch the light.

It was only a few days later that I realised it also had "Hope" etched into it. Bonus! I can totally live by the meaning of that word.

These are priced at 29 Euro's and are available online...although they are hand made and there are not that many in stock - Link!

PS. Freckle power!

The earrings

I quite enjoy the odd lobe-dragger earring and this pair by Forever 21 are my new favourites. I have worn them a few times and love the statement that they make.

Forever 21 will always be my guilty pleasure when it comes to buying this kind of thing. I can't find this exact pair online - truthfully I am too lazy to scroll through the 100's of earring listings - but they have very nice pairs like this - Link! - and this - Link!

So that's my round up...what's your favourite piece of jewellery right now? 
10 May 2013

NARS Gaiety blush

I don't know what it is about NARS Gaiety.

To look at it, you would think that it's just another blue-toned pink.

It doesn't have shimmer or glitter - or any other extra ingredients to add interest.

The pigmentation itself isn't intense - a rarity for NARS who tend to deliver over-zealous colour payoff.

And yet I can't stop wearing it.

I keep swiping this on for a bit of colour lift. It delivers that perfect pink glow - not too light to appear chalky and not too intense to appear clownish. It really lifts the skin and makes me look healthy and alive.

The fact that the pigmentation isn't that intense is probably one reason why I think it works so well. You can layer as much as you like and all you will get is a delicate glow-like effect that looks somewhat natural. Shame that it's so hard to capture in a photograph but hopefully you get the idea!

I do need to give credit where it's due and say that this purchase was down to Mouldyfruit.

In the time that she stayed with me she successfully converted me to Rodial fake tan, NARS concealer, Juicy perfume and now this...NARS Gaiety. This blush worked amazing well on her skin tone, achieving the same candy pink like lift/glow, as it did on mine.

I have been in such a rut of alternating between NARS Douceur and MAC's Full of Joy for the last couple of months that this is a welcome change. It reminds me why I love blush so much - two swipes and you look fresh and awake.

I asked this question on Instagram and got so many good replies but if you haven't already answered it there - what's your favourite blush right now?

PS. I bought the blush on Space NK - Link!
6 May 2013

Airport OOTD!

My weekend in the UK is over. It was a whirlwind of family lunches/dinners, lie-ins and of course, shopping.

Dubai is always touted as this amazing place to shop and yes, there is plenty of shopping to be done there but if I talk generally:

a) It's expensive - don't be fooled by the notion of "duty free"....prices are raised to account for the cost of shipping. Those £40 Topshop Jamie jeans are more likely to be near the £60 equivalent in Dubai.
b) Stock takes a long time to hit the shelves - case in point, Harvey Nichols' Tom Ford stand was still advertising the Christmas make up collection...in April.
c) They don't have the same drugstore experience - high end makeup is a bit boring after a while...I love the goodies that you can pick up in Boots/Superdrug and whilst they try and mimic that, it's not the same.

Any expats will agree with me here!

So yes, I definitely hauled. And it was fantastic :) Makeup, skincare and of course, clothes...

I am wearing a couple of the newbie's today...this would be my airport OOTD and what I will be slobbing around in for the 7 hour plane journey that awaits.

It's all high street with a bit of ASOS thrown in via the grey tee.

ASOS has been such a huge miss for me lately but with this order everything met/exceeded expectations. This top was one of them. It's one of those ultra fine knits that feels lovely to wear with a price that belies the quality.

The blazer is from Topshop and is the same material as my light blue one. Yes, I liked the texture/fit that much! :) It is white - never a great idea with someone as clumsy as myself who tends to see food dribble onto fabric - but I promise to be careful!

By the way, the jeans are Zara and are soft and comfy. They are a boyfriend fit but are honestly far more flattering than my Current/Elliott ones. Definitely recommend!

Boyfriend Jeans: Zara - Link!
Top: ASOS - Link!
Blazer: Topshop - Link!
Bag: 3.1 Philip Lim Pashli - Link!   ....gave up trying to close the clasp - packed way too much in here.
Shoes: Zara
Sunglasses: Dior (reclaimed from a drawer in my old bedroom and perfect for hiding a makeup free face behind!)

I am writing this from the lounge so boarding will happen very soon. I really hate night flights and hate even more the "straight into the office" scenario that will greet me tomorrow morning but I will just watch Les Miserables (again) and suck it up!

See you tomorrow!
5 May 2013

Sephora Cream Lip Stain

This is my kind of red. Give me a bright berry tone and I am happy. My teeth look whiter and my skin clearer.

I was introduced to this Sephora Cream Lip Stain by Zara when she correctly predicted that I would like it. And like it I did. I even wore it out - like outside of my bedroom!

I borrowed hers a few times before securing my own.

I am pretty sure it's the best lip stain I have ever tried. It's intense and long-lasting with a finish that I would describe as soft matte - at least in how it looks. If you don't slather on the moisturiser prior to application then it becomes that seriously unforgiving "flaky wizened old lady lip".

On the other end of the spectrum, if your lips are too moist (cringe) then there will be a lot of movement and you will shortly find it smeared all over your face. Trust me, it happened the first time I wore it when I (wrongly) assumed that some By Terry Baume de Rose would jazz it up a notch. If by "jazz" we mean that some ended up on my chin, cheek and nose then yes...

All the lip priming hassle can however be forgiven because of the colour. They call this Strawberry Kissed because of it's pink/red base. It's a shade that reminds me so much of Revlon Cherries in the Snow, one of my all time favourites, although there is a definite brightness to the Sephora that makes this more fun and flattering. I like that it looks almost like it has been drawn on in post-production :)

I am quite tempted to get a few other colours  - mainly because I think the quality is fantastic for the price. A vampy dark mauve - Everlasting Burgundy - is the likely next target :)

Lip stain: Sephora - Link!
Top: Cheap Monday peplum tee which is so amazing I may buy it in black - Link!

PS. Totally butcher cut my own last week fringe.

I am back in the UK this weekend and have done some serious damage at Boots (Real Techniques brushes) and Space NK (loadsastuff).

Can't wait to try and share some of this with you.