Tuesday, 9 April 2013

& Other Stories Wishlist

Hello Hello!

So as I'm sure you are all aware of by now (in fact, probably you, as well as your sister, your mother, your grandmother..and so forth..) that there is a brand new shop on Regent Street by Oxford Circus so aptly called, & Other Stories. If you haven't visited the flagship store as of yet, I highly recommend that you do - Even if just for a browse. A friend of mine from New York came to visit this past week and we went to scour what the sister store of H&M, Cos, and Monki had to offer - Let me tell you that we were definitely anything but disappointed.

I wasn't so much as interested in the clothes, or even the shoes - Although, I did fall in love with a cute black wedge-heel number that was a bit out of my typical price range.. - as I was with the purses and the beauty department. The layout of the store is very modern yet comfortable, painted in white and with neatly, organized sections and stalls.

I spent quite some time perusing the skincare products, especially the store's own matching body soaps, scrubs, and lotions - There's even a sink area for you to test them out before you buy. It sort of reminded me of the sink area in Bath & Body Works, which, anyone from the States should get that reference. I thought that I would love the Rose Revival scented products (since I love anything rose-scented) but I particularly fell in love with the Shinjuku Bloom scented products, which reminded me of a cross between sweet pea and fresh flower scents. After testing the soap, scrub, and lotion on my hands, I can assure you that the scent lingered for the next few hours - I definitely looked like the weirdo sniffing her hands (mostly in disbelief that the scent lasted so long!) whilst walking in and out of shops on Regent Street that day!

I've included below a wishlist of some products from the store that I would consider buying. For anyone on a budget (like me!), I do think that the store has some great buys that are affordable and also look great. The beauty products are a bit pricey, but still not terrible for what they are and what they deliver, so if you are a bit hesitant, go in store and try the products for yourself! I always suggest to try out products on yourself and wear them throughout the day - If by the end of the day (or a few hours, even) you find yourself still intrigued by it, then buy it (if you can afford it). No harm done..Well, maybe for your wallet, in my case..

You can check out & Other Stories here - www.stories.com

Have any of you checked out & Other Stories yet? Have you tried/bought any products from them? 

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Let's Discuss..Gel Cleansers.

Before I go any further to write this post in detail, I want you all to know that I am in no way a skincare or beauty specialist or anything of that sort. This is just what works for me, personally, and if it helps you too - Awesome! I hope it does.

I'm always having problems with my skin. Either it's too blotchy, too spotty, too dull...The list can go on and on. These factors are usually dependent on weather, stress levels, dietary choices during that particular week, or even as a reaction to something I've applied on my face. For the past few weeks, my skin most definitely hasn't been amazing - This is due to ridiculously high stress levels from uni deadlines combined with a poor diet. As a result, my skin has lost its radiance and has become very, terribly spotty.

Usually when this happens (It does happen every now and then - Stress definitely comes and goes), I become very strict with my skincare regime. That means always ensuring I wash my face both day and night; especially removing any makeup or anything on my face before I go to sleep. I generally use a cleanser, exfoliator, toner, and moisturiser in the mornings and a micellar water, cleansing balm, cleanser, toner, eye cream and moisturiser in the evenings. I know that sounds a bit excessive - But with given time, it's what works for me. I also use a clay mask at least twice a week, if not three times - This can be combined with other masks to fix issues such as lack of radiance or so forth.

Going backwards a bit on that, though...One thing that I find that does help me a lot when my skin goes berserk is a gel cleanser. Gel cleansers are great for skin no matter what condition or issue that you're currently having, since they won't irritate the skin, they won't strip it of its natural oils and they'll only, very gently, cleanse the skin (as the package says). Because I have normal/combination skin, the three gel cleansers (Actually, one is a cleansing milk - But because of its consistency/how it works, I consider it to be more like a gel cleanser) that I tend to use regularly and feel that they work the best are Ainhoa's Vitaminal Cleansing Milk, Fresh Soy Face Cleanser, and Avene Gentle Cleanser.

Ainhoa Vitaminal Cleansing Milk is a light, creamy cleanser that glides onto the skin with ease whilst removing any makeup and impurities from the skin. It contains ingredients such as Hamamelis Extract, which is great for irritated or acne-prone skin, as it helps to regulate the natural oils that are on the face without further disrupting the skin. Fresh Soy Face Cleanser is another cleanser that is great for removing makeup, especially eye makeup - It basically just melts any residue away. This is also a cleanser that I find to glide onto the skin with ease, and does a great job of cleansing the skin without further disrupting it. It contains ingredients such as rosewater, to help calm, tone, and balance the skin, as well as cucumber extract to soothe the skin and amino-acid rich soy proteins to aid in moisture retention, elasticity, and firmness in the skin. Avene is a brand that I have grown to absolutely love, as their skincare products have helped my skin improve itself so much. Their Gentle Cleanser is composed of ingredients that won't harm or irritate the skin in any way, as well as no colourants, parabens, or fragrances so that it can just cleanse the skin without harming it in any way. If you have very sensitive skin, as well, I would highly recommend Avene as their products are generally geared towards those with sensitive skin.

Have you used a gel cleanser before? What do you think of them? What helps you to combat terrible skin days?

Birchbox UK March - Role Models Themed Box

In favour of Mother's Day being in March over here in the UK (I know, fellow US readers..it confuses me too!), Birchbox UK have decided to focus on a theme for this month's box that reflects those who matter most to us, whether they be directly related to us or influential in some obscure way (celebrity idolists, I'm looking at you). The products in this box are meant to allow us to reflect on those mentors, as well as similar mentors within the beauty industry, such as Laura Gellar and Molton Brown.

I have to say, in receiving this month's box I was actually very pleased with the quality, amount, and diversity of the products that were sent to me. Also, unlike most other boxes, I wasn't too displeased to find out that other subscribers had gotten different products or 'better' products than myself. The only differences that I was able to spot with other Birchboxes this month were of those who received a Laura Gellar gel eyeliner in purple and of those who received a beauty blender - But these products were chosen based off of subscribers beauty profiles, so it was a bit understandable.

Anywho, onto the products themselves:

Molton Brown Valbonne Fine Fragrance, 2 mL:  I had known about Molton Brown before receiving this sample perfume, but had never tried any of their fragrances since they were a bit too pricey. In testing this product, I was a bit taken surprised by the scent of this perfume as it is different scent than I am used to. It's quite musky and warm, with notes of bergamot, orange flower, vetiver, leather, provencal mimosa, rosa and deep purple orris. It sits really nicely on the skin, blending well with the natural pheromones of the skin. Definitely a must-try; I am almost finished with my sample and quite sad to say so!

Laura Gellar Beauty Inkwell Waterproof Gel Liner in Black, 2.3mL: I love gel eyeliners as I think they are the best in application and long-wear for eyeliners, so I was really glad to receive this. I haven't tried any products from Laura Gellar before receiving this product, so it was great to try a new line. The packaging is really compact, great for travel - The brush is easy to store within the lid of the product. The eyeliner itself is quite pigmented and creamy as well, great for application and you don't need to retrace your lines as much as you would with any ordinary eyeliner. As for long-wear, I have found this product to last me all day by itself, or, if I'm having a particularly oily/combination skin day, if I apply some neutral eyeshadow underneath, it helps set my look for the day.

RMK Cleansing Balm, 25g:  I was really excited to find this product in my box this month, as I'd never tried a cleansing balm before but have heard so much about them and about how great they are. I had heard a bit about RMK, but not much to know their products or their stance in the industry. This product has a lovely, non-overwhelming rose scent and a light pink, creamy, butter-like texture. I've only ever needed about a 20 pence/dime-sized amount to cleanse my face with, so I know that this product may last me a little while, which is great. I don't use it in the morning because I find it better to use at night whilst taking off my makeup and deep-cleansing my face - It also leaves my face very soft.

La Sultane de Saba Body Lotion with Argan Oil, 30mL: A brand I hadn't heard before receiving this box. I really love musky scents, so this product is great - It has a soothing, musky, powdery scent that reminds me of my grandmother, but in a good way (That probably sounds wrong..Oh well). Once applied, it sinks into skin almost immediately, leaving skin soft and smooth afterwards. Shame it didn't come in a bigger package!

Yu-Be Moisturising Skin Cream, 3g: Apparently this brand and product are well-renowned and considered to be a cult product in Japan. It's a multi-purpose balm to be used on your face, lips, hands, elbows, feet, or anywhere else that needs some extra TLC. I tried a bit of it on my face as a moisturiser for the nighttime, and found it leaving my skin very soft in the morning. The only downside is that the scent of this product is from camphor, which smells a bit medicinal and menthol-y.

Lindt Lindor Heart Tin with Chocolate Truffles: This was a lifestyle extra in the box that I was happy to see when I received it, as who doesn't love chocolate!? Especially Lindt truffles! Definitely a lovely treat to receive, and the heart tin is cute - I may save it for some jewelry or small trinkets.

Sanctuary Thermal Transformation Face Mask: This was a beauty extra in the box, which was a bit of a surprise. I've used products from Sanctuary before and have liked them, so I wasn't wary in receiving this product. I haven't tried it yet, as I have so many other face masks to get through - I think I have a bit of an obsession... - but when I do, expect a review!

Last but not least was the March Birchbox magazine that has become sort of a ritual to include in each month's Birchbox. Again, same as last month, I have nothing but good things to say about the layout and contents of the magazine as I think it provides a great variety and amount of articles, product reviews, and interviews with notable brands and figure-heads within the industry. Another stellar job!

So that was the March UK Birchbox! What did you guys think? Did any of you receive different products/samples to try out? 

Friday, 15 March 2013

Barry M Gelly Nail Paint in Lychee

After seeing all of the hype that these polishes created in the blogging world, I knew that I had to try them. I've always been a fan of Barry M nail polishes since I've moved to the UK - They have a great colour range as well as a variety of types of polishes. In perusing the Barry M makeup stall (Stall? Stand? What's the actual correct term..?)  in Superdrug the other day, I went to go buy and test out one of these 'hype' polishes.

Sadly enough, the shade Greenberry had been sold out. I then had a choice between Blood Orange and Lychee. I chose Lychee, since I have way too many red nail polishes to begin with, and I thought that it would be more beneficial to try out a new colour that I don't already have. After trying this polish, though..I will definitely be going back to buy Blood Orange, as well as Greenberry. Lychee is a neutral, flesh-toned colour that for some reason, reminds me of mannequins and foundation (the makeup kind). Bizarre as those references might sound, this colour is absolutely stunning, in my opinion. I love wearing nail polish, but sometimes it's nice to step away from darker colours and embrace a more natural nail. This polish looks effortless and clean, giving just a hint of a colour change to suggest made-up nails without being garish or over-the-top.

The 'gelly' formula itself is great - It provides high-shine and elasticity to your nails, ensuring a longer wear polish - It's also good if you don't have time for a top coat. The formula itself feels comfortable on my nails, not stiff or dry, as some other drugstore branded polishes tend to do.

Have you tried any of Barry M's gelly nail paints? What do you think of them?

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Wonder Pore Freshner : Etude House

I've really been getting into asian skincare regimes, especially with products from Korea - Have you seen what they launch over there!? Snail moisturisers, sheet masks, cute packaging..I could spend hours on the internet looking through products labelled with 'asian skincare'. I suppose it's become a bit of an, er, obsession..

Upon looking into some asian skincare brands, I came across Etude House from Rachel's blog, Blush and Brunch (found here!). I don't know too much about the brand, as there isn't too much information on how the brand started out on their website or on any other information websites - Also, most of their social media platforms are predominately in asian languages - Due to their popularity in major parts of Asia, including South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, and more. There aren't many sites or places to buy products from Etude House, but if you're interested, you can usually come across any of their products on Ebay or Amazon for decent prices (plus free shipping, most of the time!).

Introducing..Wonder Pore Freshner.

I found this product through my Ebay excursions one day. It seems that a reoccurring trend in a lot of asian skincare products is to reduce pore size and to cleanse the pores more thoroughly. I'm constantly having issues with my pore size, especially around my nose area (Blackheads are also certainly not nice to look at, and no matter how much you try to cover them up..They still like to reappear!) so of course I was very interested to try this product! It was seriously love at first sight.

I ordered my trial size of the Wonder Pore Freshner via Ebay and received it about one and half weeks later from Korea - Not bad for standard international shipping! I immediately loved the cute, yet simple packaging of the product - It sort of has a Benefit feel to it, don't you think? (Maybe that's just me.)

After the first use, I noticed a slight dramatic difference - I could visibly see that it had tightened my pores around my nose area. It also left my skin very soft to the touch, and the scent of the product was not strong at all - Very refreshing. A little goes a long way! After a few weeks of use, I can proudly say that it does what it claims - My pores are visibly tightened and smaller in size. I still have some minor blackheads around my nose, but my skin has always been a bit stubborn around that area. (Speaking of..Can anyone recommend a product you use for similar problems, if any?)

Sadly enough, I am almost out of this product, as it is only a 25mL bottle. I would love to repurchase this, preferably in a larger size, but it seems a bit difficult to do - If anyone finds a larger sized version, please do let me know!

Have you used any products from Etude House? What's your favourite pore cleanser/toner/miracle solution?