Jul 29, 2009

Perfume Allergy!

Last week my skin had an allergic reaction to Juicy Couture's Viva La Juicy. There were times when I felt nauseous when I smelled certain type of perfumes, but my skin has never reacted to perfumes before.

At first I thought I was bitten by some midges. Then the pinky spots got bigger and turned into hives. I noticed that the hives were only on those places I sprayed the perfume on. Out of curiosity I sprayed the perfume on again a few days later. Bad move, more hives appeared on my skin!

Good thing it was only a tester vial, I'd be even more upset if I had bought a big bottle of it. I don't really like the scent anyway, I prefer the original Juicy Couture.

Out of curiosity I googled "Viva La Juicy" and "allergic reaction". I'm pleased to say I'm not the only one who's allergic to it. I wonder which ingredient is the culprit...

Jul 28, 2009

Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel

I have to write about Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel as it's one of my favourites products and I've just finished a tube of it, which means I'm one product lesser = I could get a new one soon. (I'm taking up the "finishing up old products before getting a new one" challenge!)

I've used up and re-purchased numerous tubes of this papaya peel in the past. This gentle peel is perfect for me as my skin doesn't respond well to harsh scrubbing/exfoliating.

I've read in Paula Begoun's book that this product doesn't contain enough papaya to make it works. I'm not an expert, so I can't verify this. Something in this peel must have worked though as this product always makes a noticeable difference on my skin. Especially, I repeat: especially, when it's used consistently over a period of time, I could see the exfoliating benefits on my skin: evening out my skin tone, making it smoother, getting rid of dry flaky bits on my combination skin. So I guess the benefit is more cumulative than instant.

Having said that, this peel also gives an instant result: smoother skin right after application, which to some people the result could be akin to wearing a moisturiser alone = not worth buying. Having experienced the cumulative benefits in the past, personally I think it's money well spent. Why? It gently exfoliated my skin and a tiny bit goes a long way = value for money. It's false economy to spend money on cheaper products that don't work as they could end up costing me more.

What's more, the yummy fruity scent adds to my pampering enjoyment. I can't afford a weekly trip to the spa, but I can afford this twice weekly little indulgence. :)

Verdict: an old favourite that has earned it's place in my skincare bag.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Propylene Glycol, Octyldodecanol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Papain, Xanthan Gum, Milk Protein (Lactic Proteinum), Fucus Vesiculosus Extract, Porphyridium Cruentum Extract, Maltodextrin, Fragrance (Parfum), Tocopherol, Dichlorobenzyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol, Propylparaben, Disodium EDTA, Yellow 6 (Cl 15985), Cinnamyl Alcohol, Citronellol, Geraniol.

Jul 27, 2009

Bradford-upon-Avon

Not long ago we stopped by Bradford-upon-Avon when we were on our way to visit friends in Bath.
According to the webpage, the town's name came from the fact that the Town Bridge crosses the 'broad ford' on the Avon. The above picture is a view from the top of the said bridge, taken by hubby. The photo below shows a little part of the bridge.
It's a nice little town with quirky old buildings: old houses built with Cotswolds stones and old cottages oozing with characters. I especially love the winding roads and tiny alleyways. Pretty, aren't they?! :)

Jul 24, 2009

Sanctum Organic Australia

My friend Beauty Bee has kindly agreed to be my guest reviewer. Today she's reviewing 6 products from Sanctum Australia.

As you know I always include a product's ingredients list whenever I could. Sanctum webpage has already listed the ingredients on their webpage, so please check it out yourself.

Without further ado, please welcome Beauty Bee with a big round of applause! :)

"My skin is a reasonable normal skin type with a few sun spots and the start of some small wrinkles around the eye area. I am prone to have small blackheads on my nose and what I would consider medium size pores on my nose.

Foaming Facial Cleanser – Comes in a pump bottle with a simplistic design. I use one pump application to clean my face. It has a very light texture and has a delicate smell of lemons that isn’t too over powering. I rub my palms together to get an even distribution over my face when I gentle massage it into the skin. It was rinsed freely from the skin leaving a clean feel without the oily residue or tightness that some cleansers leave on my skin. When I have worn makeup I tend to double cleanse(out of habit more than anything) .

After using this product for two weeks my skin's texture hasn’t changed a lot but the blackheads on my nose are visibly less and the pores on my nose appear smaller.

Toner and Refresh Mist – Is packaged in a spray bottle. After cleansing I gave my skin a light spray to help freshen it up and prepare it for my serum.

Hy C Recovery Serum - Is in a small pump bottle. I use two small pumps of product and put it on the back of my hand. It is a light amber coloured gel that tends to melt with my body temperature reasonably quickly. I gentle patted it onto my skin making sure I took extra care around my eye and lip area.

It seemed to refine the texture of my skin and did give it a more luminescent appearance. This product had a natural fragrance that I could relate to something in my childhood. After reading the ingredient list I discovered it was probably the honeysuckle, which smelt like mum’s golden syrup dumplings. (Music is drooling here... hehehe...)

Moisture Replenish – This lightweight cream is packaged in a tube with a flip lid. I only need to use a small amount of this product. lt doesn’t have that really organic/earthy fragrance that some organic ranges tend to have. Sanctum Moisture replenish has a light breezy aroma that almost smells a bit like weak lemon tea infusing on the kitchen bench. It is great under foundation and I have even used it under mineral foundation powder as it sinks into the skin quickly leaving it smooth and hydrated.

I applied a small amount onto my finger tips and pressed it onto my skin. For a better result I applied as per the instructions Sanctum Hy C Recovery Serum before applying Moisture Replenish.

Firming Eye Balm - This balm comes in a small 15 ml tube, but that is the only thing that is small. After solely using this firming eye balm I have noticed a reduction in the crows feet around my eyes. It isn’t heavy or gluggy as some eye creams and balms can be at times. I have the start of a ‘crepey’ area by my nose and this has really helped improved the appearance of my skin. I have applied it under my makeup and it doesn’t leave a greasy or creased looking finish to my face. You apply a small droplet of balm around your orbital bone and gentle pat it into the skin with your ring finger. It has a light natural fragrance that isn’t overpowering.

Night Conditioning Cream – This night cream is presented in a tub with a screw top lid. I am not a fan of product in tubs especially skincare for the face as they can become contaminated. I have never been fully convinced that night creams are really necessary, however this product is changing my preception of this. It is thicker in consistancey and when gentle massaged over the face and neck (don’t forget the neck), it leaves my skin feeling nourished and revived.
This product, like all the Sanctum products that I have used, has a light fragrance that is very pleasing. I also followed the recommendation on the packaging and applied Sanctum Hy C Recovery Serum before applying the Night Conditioning Cream.

Overview
I really love the overall performance of this product line. It has left my skin looking more youthful. Considering I have only been using it for a couple of weeks I believe there is still more room for improvement. I love the textures of Sanctum's products. If anybody is looking for a reasonably priced, good quality skincare line I would highly recommend this one.

Sanctum also has the added bonus that it is a Certified Organic product line which ensures that you get genuine Organic ingredients produced in superior environment.

My only criticism of Sanctum is that I would like to see them discontinue the use of boxes to package there products in. While they are very pretty they aren’t necessary and would help with reducing recycling."

Comments from Music: I haven't used any Sanctum products so I can't agree or disagree with Beauty Bee's opinions. I tried contacting Sanctum twice to ask whether I could get some samples to try myself. To my disappointment I didn't get any reply on both occasions, not even a "no" answer nor did I get any acknowledgement to my emails. Not a great customer service in my opinion. I wonder whether they "ignored" me because they don't have UK stockist? Who knows, I guess I have to wait until my next travel to OZ before I could try them out! :)

Jul 23, 2009

Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse Rose

Now, some of you know that I fell in love with Hermes perfumes created by Ellena after reading The Perfect Scent (click here to read my article about it). It was then that I realized he's the same guy who created Bvlgari's Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert.

So I had to try the new Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse Rose when I came across it at Debenhams.

On the first whiff I could smell the rose, settled down to a more nutty scent, a tiny bit like my favourite Magnifique. It's something that smells different, not like common-or-garden perfumes that are widely available at department stores. Conclusion: I've decided that it's the next perfume I'm going to get! :)

Fragrantica.com writes: "Eau de Pamplemousse Rose has a classical structure, with citruses in the main role, combined with rose, by Jean-Claude Ellena. This modern and sophisticated interpretation of citruses theme intertwines their sparkles with a molecule by the house of Firmenich-Rhubofix, which possesses a very fresh, woody-spicy, floral scents and rose scent. The fragrance includes the following aromas: lemon, pink grapefruit and rhubofix."

GROWN Vanilla & Orange Peel Hand Cream

I've joined GQ in trying to finish up "old" products first before buying a new one. Amongst other things, I've nearly finished my tube of GROWN Vanilla & Orange Peel Hand Cream.

So far I don't have anything I don't like from this hand cream.

Here are my thoughts on it:

- LOVE the subtly refreshing orange scent. I can't stop smelling my hands everytime I use it.

- It's non-greasy (like it said on the packaging) = I could go back to whatever I'm doing as soon as I've finished applying the cream. In fact, I'm using the hand cream as I'm typing this. :)

- It makes my hands & cuticles feel softer and moisturised for longer than other brands I've tried. IMO it's even better than my favourite L'Occitane hand creams.

- If you look at the ingredients list, it contains so many different natural oils = I like!

- The packaging reminds me so much of Aesop = chic packaging.

Verdict: It's positively my HG hand cream. When I've finished this tube, can someone in OZ please send me some more? Please? PLEASE?!

Here's the blurb on the tube: "This non-greasy formulation of moisturising active botanicals, naturally soothes and softens dry undernourished hands and cuticles. Bio Active Ingredients: Antioxidants from grape seed, wheatgerm and rose hip oil protect against free radical damage and boost the skin’s natural protective function. Rose Hip and Camellia Seed Oil increase the skin’s lipid content which helps to restore moisture levels & enhances the skin’s natural moisture retaining capability."

Ingredients: Aqua (Purified Water), Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Extract, Prunis Amygdulis Dulcis (Sweet Almod) Oil, Cetyl Alcohol (Vegetable), Ceteareth-20 (Vegetable), Glycerin (Vegetable), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Camellia Sinensis (Camellia) Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Seed) Oil, Vitis Vinifera Seed (Grapeseed Oil), Macadamia Ternifolia (Macadamia) Seed Oil, Rosa Moschata (Rose Hips) Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheatgerm) Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglycerides (Vegetable), Glycine Soka (Soyabean) Oil, Sesamum Indicumm (Sesame) Seed Oil, Daucus Carota (Carrot) Root Extract, Tocopherol (Vegetable), Hippophae Rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn Berry) Oil, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate (Vegetable), Phenoxyethanol Lactic Acid (Nature Identical), Rosa Damascena (Rose) Absolute, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Oil, Vanilin (Vegetable), Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Oil, Limonene (Vegetable), Linalool (Vegetable), Citronellol (Vegetable), Geraniol (Vegetable).

Jul 21, 2009

kit cosmetics Mineral Bronzer

Last week I've been busy with some things. I'm back now to review another product I got from my stint Down Under: kit cosmetics Mineral Bronzer Bronzed Up.

Bronzer, you said? Uhuh. Even I asked myself the question: what am I doing with a bronzer? (As a rule of thumb the Asian in me doesn't like to look "bronzed"...)

Answers:
- as eyeshadow on it's own.
- as eyeshadow base: apply allover eye-lids before applying eyeliner and/or other shade of eyeshadow.
- to define the areas under my cheekbones: contouring!
- to give a no-surgery nose-job to myself: apply 2 parallel horizontal stroke from the top to the bottom of my nose
- it has a mirror inside: great for doing touching up.
I've tried using it as a brow definer. Unfortunately the result wasn't that succesful due to the slight shimmer of the bronzer.

Verdict: as you can see from the above list, I love this multi-purpose mineral bronzer. Next I'm going to try using it as a lip tint! :)

Ingredients: Mica Cl 77019, Bismuth oxychloride Cl 77163, Octyldodecyl stearoyl stearate, Kaolin, Zinc stearate, Titanium dioxide Cl 77891, Caprylic/capric triglyceride, silica, zinc oxide Cl 77947, Dimethicone, Rosa canina (rose hip) seed extract, Tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), Camellia sinensis (green tea) extract, Silk powder [+/-: iron oxides Cl 77491, Cl 77492, Cl 77499, Tin oxide Cl 77861].

Jul 15, 2009

How A Thief Opens Your Suitcase Easily and Precautions You Could Take

video

It's horrible to see how easy it is to open a LOCKED suitcase!

As seasoned travellers hubby and I came up with these ideas to discourage the would-be-thief (TWBT) from targeting your suitcase:

1. Use suitcase that has a built-in lock on it and use your normal lock in addition.

This type of suitcase has a fixed point where you can slide the zipper heads into and it can only be opened by keying in the right numbers. The fixed point would make it difficult for the thief to zip it back. On a 3-digit lock TWBT has to try up to 1,000 number combinations before he/she could move the zipper heads in order to do the zipping-back trick, making it more time consuming to make your suitcase appeared untouched.

2. Use luggage strap to secure your suitcase.

TWBT has to cut the strap off before opening the zip = more time consuming = more risk of getting caught = good deterrent. In addition, a brightly coloured/uniquely patterned luggage strap could help you to identify your suitcase better, especially if yours is a generic suitcase that's also owned by a thousand other people. The strap could also help to prevent embarrassing situation like spilling the entire contents of your suitcase on the floor when it accidentally burst (because you have shoved in too many things in there... LOL...)

3. Wrap your entire suitcase in clingwrap plastic.

We've seen this wrapping service offered in some airports for a fee. I think the true intention is to prevent the suitcase from bursting. In this case, TWBT has to rip the plastic off before he/she could do the pen trick = very good deterrent.

That's all we can think of for now. What do you think?

Disclaimers: the above are just "helpful suggestions", so we do NOT guarantee that your suitcase will be totally safe from prying hands even after you follow the above to the dot. Just to make it totally clear, in the event of theft to the content of your suitcase, we are NOT liable (legally responsible) for any loss incurred. :)

kit cosmetics Kabuki Brush

kit cosmetics Kabuki Brush is the most expensive brush I have, something that in my opinion is worth every penny. In the past I've tried using cheaper ones that felt scratchy on the skin - I can tell you they are just a waste of money, leaving my skin itching and irritated in the process.

In a way this cute kabuki brush has turned me into a brush snob. The soft natural hair glides smoothly on my skin. I use it to apply my favourite kit cosmetics Mineral Foundation (see my review here).

My only complaint: it did not come with a little bag to house it. I've seen other kabuki brush that comes with a little holder that looks like a big travelling lipstick holder, if you get what I mean. Of course I was tempted to buy it so I can house this brush properly. But then, I would need to find another home for the other brush. Oh, the dilemma... Thus for the moment it has to be content sitting in the original dodgy plastic case that's already broken in places.

Verdict: love it! Would be perfect if a cute brush holder was included, so it could travel in my handbag easily.

Jul 14, 2009

Molton Brown Wonderlips Glace

Some of you know that generally I'm not a lip-person. I prefer to "prettify" (the term I use to make hubby understand beauty things) my big eyes as I like to think that enhancing them would distract people from looking at my big nose. Hehe...

My meeting with Glossqueen has changed my opinion a little bit (read about our wonderful meeting here). At that time I asked her how do I know whether a lip product is any good. She said, "good lip products make your lips look BIG!"
Since then I try to judge a lip product by the effect it has on my lips. I can say that Molton Brown Wonderlips Glace is the first lip product I use that really makes a noticeable difference.

The paper inside the box said that it's "A lasting sheer glaze with volume boosting conditioning. Wild mango butter moisturises and softens; Maxi LipTM promotes fuller, healthier looking more voluptuous lips."

I didn't read this when I first put the lip glace on. So I was quite shocked when I saw in the mirror that my lips looked bigger than usual, even hubby noticed it. Silly me didn't realize that the Maxi LipTM really work well! LOL...

The lipshine I bought is Lychee 02. It's a very light chocolatey shade (very different from the reddish shade pictured on the website) that matches my lips very well . It's matte nude effect makes my lips look naturally polished, perfect for complimenting "loud" eye makeups.

It has smooth texture and tasteless, though I can "taste" the shea butter that keeps my lips moisturised for a few hours.

Verdict: impressive lip plumper with fantastic nude shade, it's a must-have in my bag now!

Ingredients: hydroxystearic/linolenic/oleic polyglycerides, octyldodecanol, vp/eicosene copolymer,C18-36 acid triglyceride, polyethylene, fragrance (parfum), castor (ricinus communis) seed oil, wild mango (irvingia gabonensis) kernel butter, hydrogenated coco-glycerides, ethylhexyl palmitate, tribehenin, sorbitan isostearate, palmitoyl oligopeptide, [/_- bismuth oxychloride (Cl 77163), Calcium sodium borosilicate, carmine (Cl 75470), iron oxides (Cl 77491, Cl 77492, Cl 77499), mica (Cl 77019), red 7 (Cl 15850), Red 36 (Cl 12085), silica, tin oxide (Cl 77861), titanium dioxide (Cl 77891)]

Jul 12, 2009

A Bird Does Not Sing...

This wonderful tag is made by A Robin's Nest. Love the quote! :)

Jul 10, 2009

The Fat-Burning Lip Balm

Burner Energy Lip Balm claims it boosts energy, suppresses hunger and burns fat.

Intrigued? Read the article here.

I'm not convinced. It's very affordable though...

kit cosmetics Mineral Foundation

One of my best finds from OZ is kit cosmetics Mineral Foundation. This smooth powder is buildable to provide sheer to medium coverage. The lightest shade (Fair 01) suits me perfectly.

There are two tricks I use to cover blemishes using this same product:

1. Apply powder to the whole face with a kabuki brush. Then I dip a slightly wet lip brush to the powder, dabbing it on the areas I want to cover. I would let it dry before smoothing the edges using dry brush.

2. Apply powder with sponge on the areas I want to cover, then apply more powder to the whole face area using a kabuki brush.

I like the fact that it's easy to apply, doesn't contain sparkly bits (I shine enough! LOL), and doesn't give white-face effect in photograph.
What I don't like: it doesn't last the whole day, I have to re-apply lightly after about half-a-day, especially after I perspire in hot weather.

In a nutshell:
- BC (Before Chickenpox): it made my skin looked better than it was, giving a great no-makeup look for every day wear AND special occasions.
- AC (After Chickenpox): though it doesn't cover my recent pox marks perfectly, it lightens them enough so as to make them not so noticeable.

Verdict: I'm on my second pot, so it's definitely a keeper!

Ingredients: bismuth oxychloride CI 77163, mica CI 77019, kaolin. (+/-: titanium dioxide CI 77891, iron oxides CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)

Jul 7, 2009

Sanctuary Spa Body Scrub

It has been about three years since I last used the Sanctuary Spa Body Scrub. I couldn't remember exactly what the scrub was like. Suffice to say I felt obliged to get it for "research" purposes. :)

"A gentle, exfoliating gel body scrub that can be used daily to rejuvenate, refine and smooth skin. Fragrant Patchouli, Orange Oil and natural Pumice work together to leave skin awakened, invigorated and sublimely soft with a natural glow."

The pumice grains (from "frothy volcanic rock") are gentle but effective enough to get rid of dead skin. It leaves my skin softer, though I can't see any "natural glow".

Like the rest of my favourite Sanctuary Spa products, it leaves a lingering gorgeous scent on my skin AND in the bathroom - very Spa-at-home feel.

Verdict: a lightly scented body scrub that does it's job. I'm happy with it, though it might be too gentle for people who are more used to a "rougher" body scrub.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Sodium laureth sulfate, Glycerin, Polyethylene, Pumice, Acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, Triethanolamine, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, Parfum (Fragrance), Triethylene glycol, Benzyl alcohol, Propylene glycol, Magnesium nitrate, Magnesium chloride, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Hexyl cinnamal, Benzyl benzoate, Linalool, Limonene, Benzyl salicylate, Cl 15985 (Yellow 6), Cl 16035 (Red 40)

A Tidy Home...

"A tidy home...
is a sign of a wasted life."



I saw a signage with this quote on a shop window in Oxford. :)

I'm generally a neat and tidy person. Personally I think it's ok to have a tidy home, as long as you're not obsessed with tidying up to the extent that it's the top of your priorities in life. Life is too short to be spent that way! :)

Jul 6, 2009

Bristol

More photos from our last trip to Bristol.

Jul 3, 2009

Sanctuary Spa Body Milk Spray

"This refreshingly light milk spray quickly soothes and hydrates dry skin and leaves it delicately scented. Softening Milk Proteins are infused with nourishing Rosehip Seed and Sunflower Oils, calming Chamomile and protective Vitamin E for an instant all over moisturising boost."

The above blurb sucked me to buy Sanctuary Spa Body Milk Spray, hoping it would help to soothe my AC skin.

I love spray version of anything! This one makes it easier to moisturise the harder to reach parts of my body. After spraying I just have to massage my skin in circular motions to make sure everything is properly absorbed.

It's quite a good moisturising product, keeping the dryness at bay. Like mentioned before, I love the classic Sanctuary Spa scent anyway, so I love the scent. I don't really like the slightly greasy feel on my skin right after application. Thankfully the oily feel subsided as time goes by.

Verdict: lovely product, though I wish it could feel less oily upon application. Perhaps the oil needs a little time to be absorbed into the skin

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Coco-caprylate/caprate, Glyceryl stearate, Ceteareth-20, Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) seed oil, Glycerin, Dicaprylyl carbonate, Parfum (Fragrance), Sodium lactate, Cetyl palmitate, Cetearyl alcohol, Ceteareth-12, Phenoxyethanol Rosa canina (Rosehip) fruit oil, Tocopheryl acetate, Panthenol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Propylenen glycol, Ethoxydiglycol, Lactic acid, Glucose, Chamomilla recutita (Matricaria) flower extract, Butylenen glycol, Hydrolyzed milk protein, Sodium hydroxide, Caramel, Sodium benzoate, Sodium citrate, Glycine, Potassium sorbate, Bisabolol, Hexyl cinnamal, Benzyl benzoate, Linalool, Limonene, Benzyl salicylate, Coumarin, Citral.

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