Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm

Having stripped back my skincare and makeup routine I am trying to do my best to keep my skin in good condition. On the most part it is working, which means that when I do stray from the norm I can tell immediately what has affected me.

The culprit this week Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm a five-in-one beauty balm that is meant to minimizes the appearance of pores, lines, wrinkles, and redness instantly and result in skin that looks firmer after eight weeks of use (I'm doubtful).
I actually never intended to purchase this, I was actually after Urban Decay's face primer, but after a short chat with the sales assistant she convinced me this would be a better option since I am living in a warm climate and my skin is not dry. The inclusion of SPF a bonus.

I used it daily for a good few months after moving here then stopped for a few reasons. Rather than BB cream this falls into the tinted moisturiser category for me, it provides next to no coverage, and only a little reduction of redness. I also didn't notice much in the way of pore and line reduction.

It is tinted, and meant to be a universally flattering tone, but I am not convinced. When my skin was lighter it certainly didn't work for me and now with a bit of a tan yet its better, but not great. That said I have never used it alone, only as a primer for either my CC cream or Urban Decay's Naked Skin Foundation.

The texture is lightweight, creamy, and thin (but not runny), it doesn't feel immediately tacky on the skin, and it was easy to blend, but I was certainly aware that I had makeup on. Sadly as a primer I don't think it works that well. I didn't notice anything in the way of staying power of my foundation, if anything maybe that slick feeling it gives made it worse?

A product not doing much I can live with, if anything this is now acts as an overpriced sunscreen (£23.50 for 35ml), but having used it again recently I noticed at the end of the day that I had a lot more redness in the evening and small spots brewing, which suggests a few irritating ingredients in there: and I don't consider myself to have sensitive skin.

It's a shame because regular readers will know I am a huge fan of Urban Decay's Naked Collection, I own most of the products, but me and the BB cream just didn't hit it off. If you want to find out more info, or purchase, click the link!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

MAC Modesty

Another wedding related beauty buy and my beauty momento of the second day of celebrations. MAC's Modesty lipstick.

I owe Safiya of Frooti Beauty thanks for this lipstick discovery, after deciding on my eye and face makeup the final step was lipstick and MAC Modesty stood out as the most obvious choice.

It is a cremesheen formulation and therefore not as long-lasting as the matte Russian Red I have previously shown, but the colour makes up for that and you can still get a good 4-5 hours wear before needing to touch up. 

At least against my skin tone, and with my lip colouring, this works well as a "your-lips-but-better" shade. That said being the neutral nude pink it is is neither too cool nor warm, I expect it will suit almost everyone. It is also one of those shades that suits whatever eye look you go for, so great if you want to keep your makeup bag minimal. It also doesn't need a lip liner unless you want that defined lip look. I use the Burberry lip definer with it (another wedding discovery) in the shade Rosewood. Otherwise slap it on on its own and you are good to go.
What can I say, can you tell I love it? That said I do have my eye on Twig as my next purchase. I remember clearly a brown lipstick that I loved from Max Factor, one of the first I ever purchased that they then discontinued, I think Twig might be a good replacement for it and potentially my new love. Let me know your favourite MAC shade, and what you think I should check out next.

You can purchase Mac Modesty for £15.50, here.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

SilkSkin: Silk pillowcase

I remember hinting, a lot, for my parents to gift me a silk pillowcase years ago. The potential wonders to the skin had been sold to me, just the price was the limit. But I'm a grown-up now and I decided that considering I spend at least 6 hours a night sleeping, investing in bed-time makes sense.

Incorporating a pillowcase into my beauty regime appeals to the lazy side of me that seems to be breaking out more and more. It is a no-effort-required step: place head on pillow and sleep.

Using the pillowcase is actually meant to help your existing beauty products to work better too mostly by not rubbing off onto the pillow, and since silk is meant to prevent skin from drying out, you should need to use less products too.
silkskin pillowcase
The other benefits of silk are:
  • Hypoallergenic (good for allergy sufferers) 
  • Beneficial for those with eczema 
  • There are no chemicals or dyes which can dry skin out, and leave it in poor condition – Less hair frizz 
  • Assists in reducing hair loss 
  • Cleaner bedding (house and dust mites don’t live in silk!) 
  • Less frizz and hair breakage with movement in the night 
  • Anti-ageing 
  • Skin can breathe at night and loses less moisture. 
I won't address all of these, but here is what I have noticed. My face is not puffy in the mornings. I don't know if this is because of the last point about skin breathing, but I don't feel like I look half as rough in the mornings than I used to. My skin also feels much smoother, not just first thing in the morning, but overall. I used to have a slightly rough texture to my skin if I didn't use Liquid Gold or exfoliate, but I don't have that problem any more. And finally, my hair isn't frizzy in the morning, and I don't have those annoying knots at the nape of my neck.

I have to say that even without any of the above benefits, this is a supremely comfortable way to sleep. The pillow stays cool, and living in a hot climate I appreciate this a lot.

The Silkskin pillow costs £39, is stocked by major retailers such as Harvey Nichols and House of Fraser. I purchased mine as a double-pack from Beauty Bay (the husband wanted in on the action too) and you make a tiny saving this way.

There are a few things worth noting: being silk the cases do require a little more care than regular bed sheets when it comes to washing. I have purchased a specialty silk washing detergent and I use the delicates cycle in the wash, then leave the cases to air dry. Also there is no choice of colours (at least not from SilkSkin) and this is because there’s no dye in them, which makes it a purer product. Finally, if you google silk pillows there are hundreds of choices, and I am not sure I fully understand the differences for the most part. I believe they are similar to thread count options etc, but because I didn't want to spend that much time doing research I opted for SilkSkin knowing that they are offering what is meant to be best for what I want.

Tempted? I've tempted myself to buy a spare set actually. The care routine has disrupted my life a little, I practically sit by the washing machine as they wash now, fingers crossed nothing bad happens to them and then wait for them to dry so I don't have to go one night without using them.

This could become a real problem.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Urban Decay 24/7 Concealer

There were a lot of wedding related beauty purchases, I think when I have got through them all I will have to have a round up post. So don't be surprised to have more posts starting with this line....

Another wedding-induced purchase was the Urban Decay 24/7 concealer, which came to my attention after my makeup artist recommended it to me.
This creamy concealer can be used under the eyes and for blemishes. It is blendable, and has a slightly silky texture, which provides great coverage without looking too thick or feeling greasy. I haven't had a problem with creasing around the eye, but I haven't experience this since switching to using the flawless airbrush concealer brush from Sephora. The wear time is good, I can get through a working day or a night out without needing to reapply.

My only complaint with it is the constant need to sharpen, which probably wastes a lot more product than necessary. You also need the specific sharpener from Urban Decay to do this, which the sales assistant didn't tell me when I bought it, and since I found this out when I was in Oman (where Urban Decay isn't available) I had a bit of a Twitter whinge about it when I realised. I ended up picking up Sephora's sharpener, which also works.

I use the shade NSA, which works well under my eyes and on blemishes, of course you could go a shade lighter for that bright-eyed look.

The 24/7 concealer costs £12 and can be found in department stores with Urban Decay stands or I'm sure their new store in Covent Garden.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Spot on: La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo[+]

On the whole my skin is good, but I still suffer from sporadic stubborn breakouts so I need products on hand to deal with that.

I had heard about the wonders of La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo in the past and I largely ignored it as a product because I thought it was more suited to oily skins and because, at 15.50, it's not that cheap.
Somehow I managed to get hold of a sample and one day when a spot decided to literally rear its ugly head I applied the cream and went to sleep. To my surprise in the morning it was gone - without a trace!
Then I purchased the full size as part of a 3 for 2 offer and kept it sealed until my next breakout.

However, when that came it was a bad one red, swollen spots, deep under the skin that eventually took weeks to clear and left behind scars. I applied Effaclar Duo twice a day in the hope that it would work magic and they would disappear overnight like the last time, but they didn't and in the end I just had to leave them to clear on their own.

From this experience I have concluded this: Effaclar Duo is not your typical spot treatment. It actually works much better as a preventative step in your routine. I've now taken to using it every morning, before moisturiser, as I would a serum. You can use it alone but I have found my skin gets a little dry. If I notice any redness or small blemishes I will use it in the evening too and usually find that they have cleared by morning. If anything nasty appears though I need to go for a something salicylic acid based, or my Alpha-H to help it clear up quickly.

You can find Effaclar Duo in Boots stores and it is usually part of a 3 for 2 offer. Unfortunately, for those of us here in Oman even though La Roche Posay products are sold in pharmacies this isn't one of them!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser

After so long it makes sense to kick off reviews again with a cleanser. I've very much stripped back my cleansing routine after having a bad breakout, I knew it was down to new products I was testing (they have since found a place in the bin) and I decided to narrow down to just a few good basic products.
Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser
I picked up Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser from Duty Free, Kiehl's have always intrigued me with their shop-front and packaging but no product ever stood out for me as a must-buy. I heard good things about the Ultra Facial Cleanser, which is meant to be for all skin types and I truly believe this is true. As someone that fluctuates between normal and dry skin, I haven't found this to be drying at all.

It is a foaming cleanser and on the advice on Caroline Hirons I stayed away from foaming cleansers for a while, even though I like using these the most. This cleanser in particular works well with my hands, or a cloth, and my Clarisonic, and surprisingly is good at removing everyday makeup (not sure I would trust it alone for heavy night-out makeup). It is gentle, as as I said doesn't give you that tight feeling straight after cleansing, but I would keep it away from your eyes as it does sting.

It has no fragrance from what I can tell and even though it appears to be on the pricy side for a cleanser (15 for 150ml, or 8.50 for 75ml) you need a pea sized amount for each cleanse so I expect it to last a long time.

I know the ingredients list might not make everyone happy but if you are looking for an effective cleanser that is good value for money, there are worse options.

You can purchase Kielh's Ultra Facial Cleanser here, and here for a slightly cheaper price!


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Wedding day advice and recommendations

Perversely I avoided reading any sort of advice on weddings when it came to planning my own. In the beginning I did but I found that everything I read seemed to be full of rules and I ended up with this sinking feeling that I was doing something wrong. Even the articles suggesting wedding rules that you should break came across as preachy.

I started planning my wedding around November 2013, giving myself about three months to organise all the details. Planning a wedding in such a short time is almost unheard of now, any magazine will tell you 12 months is minimum.

Pinterest and Instagram were my best friends when it came to planning, they let me soak up lots of different ideas and suggestions without reading anything negative. I started by creating two boards, one for general wedding ideas and for beauty and pinned everything I liked the look of. So when it came to my makeup and hair trials I could just take along the images and use these as a starting point. My boards are still available here.

Not surprisingly make up was the topic where I found the most rules, most articles suggest that brides don't go looking to different from their normal selves, which generally should be natural, glowing and beautiful. At the same time they also said that if you usually wear heavy black eyeliner or red lipstick on the daily that you should probably stick to this, "so that people recognise you," but generally I didn't like the impression that there were rules when it came to make up on your wedding day.
bridal makeup application
In my opinion you can afford to be bold, certainly when I had make up trials it was easy to feel that maybe the make-up was heavy, or bit over the top, but it is really important factor in that with the dress, a tiara, perfectly styled hair and even a veil, the makeup is going to fit in. I remember feeling my most beautiful on my wedding day and ultimately that's what's important, that you feel beautiful and if you feel beautiful with lashing of glitter or multi-coloured eyeliner, then that's what you should do. It is also worth remembering that slightly heavier makeup will show up better in photographs.

I was very fortunate to be able to book Safiyah from Frooti Beauty on my wedding day, she was almost ready to pop with her first born so I was so thankful she agreed to do it (and that the baby didn't decide to come early!) You can see more pictures of the makeup, here.

I don't remember reading much about hair, but I was quite adamant that I wanted to have my natural curls. No one else agreed with me, thinking I should go for a more styled looked. In the end I was able to do both opting for my natural curls on the religious ceremony day and a more styled look for the white wedding. I have to admit I did like the styled look I ended up with, it fit in really well with my makeup and dress, believe it or not that day was the first time I saw the style, I didn't like any of the looks my hairdresser did at the trials and in the end he told me he had an idea and that it would work out fine on the day, which it did! He used a blow-drier to curl my hair and then pinned the curls onto the top of my head (as you can see in the above pics). I wish I could tell you what we did next but the curls stayed pinned until it was almost time to leave, at this point I was so nervous about being late I stopped paying attention. I know whatever he was doing he was very careful about it and each curl was treated individually.
smiling bride happy wedding hair tiara
I thought I knew the style of dress I wanted to wear on my wedding day: ballgown. I always wanted a very much Disney princess style dress, my thoughts were I will never wear anything like it again. I also knew I wanted some sort of sleeve, lace, a bit of bling and a proper corset. When it came down to choosing though things changed a bit. 

I initially visited David's Bridal in White City, they have a good selection of dresses from different designers and after choosing six or so from pictures, I tried them on. The assistants at the shop don't do much in the way of advising and I left liking a dress, but not loving it. I then visited a local bridal shop (Mia Sposa in Cockfosters) and the experience was quite different. The assistant initially asked me to look around and pick out six dresses I thought I liked for myself, which I did. Essentially all ballgown style. I then tried them on one-by-one and took a proper look at myself in the mirror, and was asked what I thought. We then critiqued each dress, what elements I liked and what I didn't and she also gave me her opinion. After I had tried on my six she told me that it was her turn to select dresses for me. I ended up choosing her first suggestion. Unlike me, she was able to take into consideration the details I wanted that would most suit my figure. I believe you would call the style modified A-line. The idea was to nip in at the waist and be quite fitted on top, and then have the flare and volume at the bottom. I chose to add sleeves and a long train, because, well, why not?
lansdowne club receptionbride lansdowne club entrance
I had a fairly good idea of what things I didn't want for my wedding, which can actually be a good place to start. With the cake for example, I don't like fruitcake or fondant, so the idea of a cupcake tower came to mind first. It was also important to me that we didn't spend a lot of money on a cake that wasn't tasty and that no one would eat, so I spent a lot of time cake tasting (hard task I know) and eventually heard about "naked cakes" and a baker called Daisy Cakes, who produces the most amazing red velvet cake I have ever tasted. She makes the cakes fresh and because of the nature of a naked cake assembles them on the day at the venue. Sadly, I only had a tiny piece of cake on the day, I was having photographs taken and the cake was passed round and devoured by the time I got out, which is exactly what I wanted (although it would have been nicer if someone saved me a slice of the red velvet).
Daisy cakes wedding cake prepDaisy cakes naked cake weddingbride eating cake
Photography was also very important to me, more so than a videographer. One year on, I still look back at my photos, on my phone, Facebook and the odd ones I had printed, frequently. I searched for London photographers online with one main criteria, that they give me the rights to the photographs. Moving to Oman soon after the wedding I knew I wouldn't have time to visit and choose prints before I left, so I wanted everything digitally and with the option to print what I wanted in the future. I found David and Joanna of Big Day Weddings (coincidentally locally) who have a great reputation as Time Out recommended photographers. After having a chat with David in his home I knew I wanted him there on the day. He met us at the venue and stayed through until just after the first dance, being part of a pair meant that him and his partner Joanna got two different perspectives of what was going on on the day and we have some fantastic photographs. You can read more about our day, and see other work of his on his website, here.
london bride horse guards paradelondon bride london eye
Other details 
There were a few details I knew I wanted to have, mostly to do having momentos. The first thing I ordered was a cake topper from Etsy, I wanted something unique and I liked that the cake topper would act as our first ornament at home. I was very lucky that the artist was able to make my topper with such short notice, and over the holiday season too. I sent her pictures of me and my husband as well as details of what we would be wearing (difficult since at the time I didn’t have my dress picked!)

I also purchased a cheap guest book from The Card Store for guests to sign and ordered a personalised Wedding Tree from eBay. The idea is that the guests create the leaves using their fingerprint, it can be an alternative to a guest book, and should serve as a more visible memento from the day since you can frame it and hang it somewhere.

 I also want to give a special mention to my aunt who made me my decorative trees using Ferrero Rocher chocolates. These were a complete surprise to me on the day, I was not that bothered about flowers or decorations but mums and aunts being mums and aunts were so they organised that stuff. I loved the trees, they looked great on the top table and in the photographs, even though they were stripped of their chocolate by the end of the night! I believe she found the idea on Pinterest.
wedding cake topper etsy
wedding tree guest book
wedding decoration chocolate tree
Actually music was one of my least concerns, I would have been happy to have a playlist shuffled from my IPod, but, again, I was told that's not what I should do. I ended up choosing Hussein as my DJ, a family friend who was recommended to us, and he was fantastic. He stayed with us all day, covering the ceremony and reception and incorporated a lot of the huge list of songs I wanted to have played. He also took requests and generally just handled everything sound wise very professionally. I think what impressed me about everyone involved in the wedding was that they needed no direction having had initial meetings with all about what I was after on the day. I can’t find a link for him online, but if you would like his contact details drop me an email.

And finally.....The venue
I knew I wanted to get married in central London, I love London and in the end the two most memorable parts of the day were driving to the venue in a black cab, of course, (passing Oxford Street and Regent Street along the way) and going out to St James Park/Horse Guards Parade to take pictures. I chose the Lansdowne Club as my venue not only because of the location, but because the club itself is beautiful and fit with the classic and elegant theme I wanted. The lady organising everything was also great and the staff on the night really professional and accommodating. I love that I know have a piece of my personal history associated with such a fantastic place.
City of Westminster Fitzmaurice Place
london black taxi wedding
london bride horse guards parade
lansdowne club wedding
bride lansdowne club wedding
I hopefully haven't missed any links to the people I  have mentioned. If you would like to know any more, have any questions about my organisation please feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email.

p.s. photographs are a mix of mostly the professional photographs by Big Day Weddings and a few family photographs, unfortunately Picasa won’t let me selectively remove the watermark when I add photos through there, the difference should be clear though! 

Friday, 13 March 2015

Wedding day beauty: Western style

As I mentioned yesterday, I had two wedding parties in Eastern and Western styles. The second set of celebrations was the main event for me, the one I had been the most involved in making decisions for. Makeup wise I knew I wanted a heavily eye based look, with flawless looking skin. I also knew I wanted FrootiBeauty to do that for me having admired her style for so long.

We did a trial and I discussed the look I was going for, sharing with her a few pics I had found on Pinterest too.
bridal wedding makeup trial
The two eye looks we tried, I went for the one on the left. 
bridal wedding makeup trial kim k inspired
I have no idea how but in the flesh there was no harsh contour of the blush, only in the photos. On the day I decided that I wanted the blush not to look so stark in the photos. Very impressive effect though. 
bridal wedding makeup trial kim k inspired
I've shared pictures from the trial first, which show the makeup the best, and below are pictures of the day itself so you can see how everything worked together and how it looked in different lighting and at different points in the day.

There were a lot of wedding makeup inspired purchases before and after the day including:

MAC Modest Lipstick
Burberry Rosewood lipliner
Urban Decay 24/7 concealer (shade NSA)
Inglot Gel Eyeliner (Black)
MAC Soft and Gentle Mineralised Skinfinish

Apart from the above, I know she used a combination of brands on the day to create the most flawless base. I believe Urban Decay's Naked Palette featured as part of the eyes. She also supplied me with Ardell Lashes and did a much better job of the application than I did the previous night!
bridal wedding makeup in action
Wish my skin looked like this every day! 
bridal wedding makeup application
FrootiBeauty in action on the morning. 
bride eating cake lansdowne clubhappy bride hair makeup
bride arrival venue lansdowne club londonlondon bride
The makeup held up really well throughout the day. I believe we started at around 10am, finishing at about midday, and then the party went on until past 11pm. I did take powder and obviously my lipstick to top up, but I didn't use either, partly because I didn't need to and partly because I was having too much fun!

I hope the pictures were worth the wait. I want to thank FrootiBeauty again for doing such an amazing job of making me look and feel beautiful on my wedding day.

Come back on Sunday if you would like to read my wedding day tips and know a little more about the other things that made up the day.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Wedding day beauty: Eastern style

After a whole year of promising I am finally sharing some of my wedding day photos. I was very fortunate to have two wedding parties, satisfying the cultural habits of both mine and my husband's family.

The first party had a more Eastern feel, particularly the dress and so it was only appropriate to go for an Asian bridal inspired makeup look. For this night, I actually did the makeup myself, starting at about 2pm and really taking my time so it was just right! In the end I didn't enter the hall until after 8pm so it just shows how well it lasted.

I used my Naked palette and copied Frooti Beauty's Naked Arab look. I used Urban Decay's Greed eyeshadow base to get the gold started theme started and then followed her instructions.

My base was E1 Cosmetics foundation, a new discovery at the time, which I loved because it seemed to match my face and neck so well. I was using the lightest shade on the day, which is too light for me right now. It is a great foundation for anyone with a more neutral skin tone and when buffed in well it looks flawless.

I contoured and highlighted using my Sleek contour kit, and on the lips I used MACs Russian Red, which I have reviewed previously. I used a GOSH lipliner too. I used a L'Oreal gel eyeliner on the night, which I was very glad stayed put, I've since lost it though!

I did use lashes on the night, but I don't think I did a particularly good job with the application as in some photos you can see they are there!

Spot the beauty bloggers?
Come back tomorrow for my Western style makeup, and I will also be sharing my wedding advice later this week.
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