Oct 30, 2009

Elemis SOS Emergency Cream

I'm feeling very tired today. Few days ago hubby's 91 year old grandma had a fall, fractured her arm and broke her nose. She had an operation to put pins on her arm. With all this and other things going on in my life, the "Emergency" theme I've had on my blog recently seemed to be very appropriate.

Which brings me to Elemis SOS Emergency Cream. This cream has a smooth texture with lavender-y scent.

The website says: "This ultra-rich moisturising cream is an intense soothing and hydrating boost for parched, weathered or sunburnt skin."

Does it do what it says above? Yup. Sometimes I use it as a super-charged moisturiser for parts of my skin that are drier than usual, or even as cuticle cream when I'm travelling.

Does it work to prevent acne or make the inflammation goes down quicker? Nope. Despite what various sales assistants told me in the past, it doesn't really work wonders applied on blemishes.

What is it best for? Based on my experience, it works wonders when used on mosquito bites: the cream makes the itchiness disappear and helps the redness to go down quicker. I'm the kind of person who always gets bitten by mozzies/no-see-ums/other tiny flying-biting things, so this cream gets a lot of use by me.

Verdict: the best "after mozzie bites" cream I've had, albeit a very expensive one.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethylimidazolidinone Rice Starch, Propylene Glycol, Centella Asiatica Extract, Spiraea Ulmaria Flower Extract, Allantion, Lavandula Hybrida Flower Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Beark Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Commiphora Myrrha Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Pogostemon Cablin Oil, Ethoxydiglycol, Carbomer, Diazolidinyl Urea, Dichlorobenzyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Sodium Hydroxide, Taurine, Linalool, Propylparaben, Tocopherol, Coumarin, Arginine, Leucine, Lysine, Tyrosine, Valine, Limonene.

Oct 28, 2009

Revlon Color Beam Sheer and Shaving Incident

I prefer to keep my fingernails subtle even though I love painting my toe nails in bold colours. Revlon Color Beam Sheer 800 Starlight is a good one to wear when I'm in a slightly blingy mood without wanting to attract too much attention.

Like the name says, it beams a sheer silvery effect that's similar to mother-of-pearl's sheen. It's only 2nd on my "subtle nail polish list" as the staying power isn't as good as my favourite Rimmel French Manicure.

Verdict: great nail polish if you like a bit of sparkles without looking over-the-top.

Now, to the shaving incident. Earlier today my low-maintenance hubby cut himself while shaving, I kindly offered him A'kin Emergency Gel to apply to his bleeding skin. I have to admit I made him my guinea pig, to see whether the gel works well as an after shave. He said it didn't sting and he didn't complain about "smelling girlie" (his common complaint about my lotions & potions) or anything like that. Which means I could smuggle this gel in his washbag the next time I'm travelling! :)

Oct 27, 2009

The Lion King

I keep on meaning to do a post I promised here about my trip to see a musical in London.
As you can see, hubby & I went to see The Lion King at Lyceum Theatre.
Lion King(s) greeting visitors at Covent Garden's tube gate.

The sights and sounds were truly spectacular. We weren't allowed to take pictures during the show, so here are some pictures from their website so you can have an idea of what we saw.

Musically it was good. The voice of the adult Simba was a bit weak compared to the rest of the cast, which was a shame as he looked gorgeous. :)

The most annoying thing was a tourist nearby who kept on snapping pictures at crucial moments, even after she was being told off by the usher and others around her. The flash ruined a couple of good scenes. I would have wrung her neck if she were to sit any closer to me!! Very inconsiderate and not being sophisticated whatsover. Apart from that, it was a good experience.

Oct 24, 2009

Brush Dilemma: MAC vs Bobbi Brown

Calling all brush lover: your expertise is desperately needed.

Few days ago I found a shop that has MAC & Bobbi Brown brush sets on sale.

MAC Heirloom 5 pcs brush set (see picture) was amongst them - RRP £39, on sale for about £29. Those exact brushes also came in gold and black bags. There was another set with red handles in a red bag, slightly more expensive than the rest. Thinking about it, I was probably more interested in the bags than the brush. :)

Bobbi Brown 3pcs mini brush set only came in black bag - RRP £39, on sale for about £33. Nothing special with the bag, I was more curious about the quality of the brush.

O You Wise Ones, please enlighten me, are they really worth buying? If yes, which one shall I get - MAC or BB?

Edit: after some contemplation, I think I should go with my head and only get brushes that I really need at the moment. Those above don't include a mini kabuki brush, based on that alone I should investigate other brands. Moral of the story: never get distracted by beautiful bags. :)

Oct 23, 2009

A'kin Pure Emergency Gel

I love multi-purpose products as in my travels I can't take too many products with me. Why take many different products if I can carry one that works the same? Based on this principle, I was delighted when I received A'kin Pure Emergency Gel from the lovely people at A'kin.

The blurb: "With aloe, d panthenol (proVitamin B5) and chamomile this oil free formula helps to cool, calm and soothe fragile skin. Also great as a light everyday moisturiser on sensitive, fragile or oily skins, and as an after shave or waxing balm."

I've been using it for about 3 weeks (the time that skin takes to renew itself) and I can say that I wish I had found this product earlier. Before I continue, I'd like to say that I'm not being paid to write this. Rest assured that yours truly hasn't turned into a sold-out blogger (read my other comments here). Free or not free product, I always do my best to write an honest review. Enough said. :)

Back to the Emergency Gel. To start with, lovely trip as it was, pigging out on clotted cream and fudge in Devon and Cornwall wrecked a havoc on my skin. Some angry pimples came out on my cheeks plus one big hormonal pimples on my chin. My skin felt sore and red. Dr. Alkaitis serum that's supposed to tackle inflammation didn't help either.

In my desperation I started slapping A'kin Emergency gel on my skin. I didn't even do a patch test first, which was unusual for me, as I always approach new product with caution. Thankfully it worked! When I woke up the next morning my skin was noticeably less red and less bumpy, the size of my two biggest pimples were much reduced. My skin felt soothed and smoother. I've been applying it every night ever since.

For those who like scented product, don't expect other scent apart from aloe vera smell as this gel is "unscented". The transparent gel feels a little sticky on application, though it doesn't take long for it to disappear into my skin. As a day moisturiser it doesn't grab my mineral foundation, as long as I leave it to dry first before applying makeup. I still prefer to use it in the evenings as I could slather as much gel as I like. Also, I've just started using another A'kin product in the mornings - watch the space for the review.

Is it a miracle product? Not if you're expecting this gel to vacuum the house, do the dishes, and cook for you. :) I think it does what it says: reduces skin redness, soothes and calms my skin, providing the right amount of moisture for my current skin condition. It's also a great gel to use after plucking my eyebrows.

One word of warning: expect a very slight stinging sensation if applied to broken skin. I had tiny "ouch moments" when I tried applying the gel on the cuts from the bicycle incident. Yeah, I'm a chicken...

Verdict: my wonder gel of the moment has made a new A'kin convert out of me.

Ingredients: Aqua (purified Australian water), aloe barbadensis leaf juice (20%), panthenol (pro Vit B5) (5%), sorbitol (from GMO free maize), glycerin (botanical source), sclerotium gum, mannitol (and) ammonium glycyrrhizate (and) caffeine (and) zinc gluconate (and) aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut) extract, sodium ethylhexylglycerin, sodium gluconate (from GMO free corn), chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract.

Oct 21, 2009

Pretty Nails in Bali

I was looking through some old photos when I came across this from my trip to Bali. I had my nails done on the beach by a local lady who used the sharp bit of a nail file as her only tool to draw ALL the flower patterns from scratch. Amazing. My only contributions? I chose the colours and I paid her very generously to do the rest. :)

Close up picture - a bit blurred thanks to my non-existent photo-cropping expertise... :)

Oct 20, 2009

Power Cuts, Burn & Crash, and Buckfast Abbey

Last weekend we experienced 6 power cuts in 2 days, leaving us feeling cold and powerless (pun intended). Hubby was bored as there wasn't any power supply for the laptop, good thing he has a wind-up radio to kept him entertained. I was using my reading light to read the TV guide for the week. Yup, pretty useless, as there wasn't any power for the TV. Next time when we have our own house I'm going to insist on having a bicycle-powered TV or a solar-powered TV or a mini wind farm to power the house, or something like that. :)

Yesterday I went to practice my cycling skill at a country lane nearby. That was the very first time I took my new bicycle on a proper country ride. I couldn't remember how to balance my shoulders. Result: I crashed into a bush, got my hands scratched by the thorns, the bike fell on me, resulting in spectacular bruises on my both legs. The "crash & burn" incident didn't deter me from finishing the 1km track. I still can't figure out how to work the gears, but I'm happy enough that I managed to go about 60m at a time without crashing into anything. I also managed to steer my bike away from cow pats, horse poos and dogs poos so I didn't have to clean the wheels. :) Hubby thinks it's going to take sometime before I could remember how to cycle properly.

That was my weekend adventures.

Now to Buckfast Abbey in Devon. We went there on our last break. According to the webpage, it's "home to a Roman Catholic community of Benedictine monks." The abbey itself isn't that old as it was being rebuilt quite recently in 1900. The weather was pretty bad so we didn't take many pictures of the gardens around the abbey. We had a proper Devonshire cream tea: scones with fresh clotted cream, homemade strawberry jam, and a cup of tea there. It was absolutely tasty! We slathered our scones with the cream and jam in the right order: the cream first before the jam, the Devonshire way. Apparently the Cornish way is to do it the other way round: the jam first before the cream.

The abbey is supposed to be famous for their honey but we didn't see any for sale in the gift shop. It probably has something to do with the disappearing bees in England in general. There was an interesting building in the compound where they sell different products produced by other Benedictine communities around the world. I would have bought some toiletries if I wasn't on "No Buy Challenge".

We didn't see any monks around, only fellow tourists. It was quite an interesting place altogether, you should visit the place if you're ever in the area.

Oct 15, 2009

Elemis Gentle Rose Exfoliator

I've been using Elemis Gentle Rose Exfoliator on and off since 2004. It's a product that I always come back to everytime my skin needs gentle exfoliation. It's especially good for those times when my fussy skin turns more sensitive and looks more rubbish than usual.

Let's see, what do I love most about it? The rosy scent, the rounded spheres that exfoliates without scratching my tender skin. I find that it works very well as a morning cleanser, too.

Overall, my experience agree with what Elemis says: "Hydrating Absolute of Moroccan Rose and smooth micro-spherical Jojoba beads very gently exfoliate, leaving skin silky soft to the touch. Gentle enough to be used daily, Elemis Gentle Rose Exfoliator is a subtly fragranced gel exfoliator, ideal for all complexions, including the most sensitive."

It's always a good thing when a product really does what it says. Needless to say I've re-purchased it numerous times, I can't remember a time living without it. I even took some with me when I lived in New Zealand and Australia (prior to Elemis' launch in OZ). :)

Verdict: my only dependable gentle exfoliator. Another winner from one of my favourite skincare brands.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Jojoba Esters, PEG/PPG-14/4 Dimethicone, Polysorbate 20, Rosa Damascena Flower Absolute, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Carbomer, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Tromethamine, Sodium PCA, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Red 4 (Cl 14700), Methylisothiazolinone.

Oct 14, 2009

Smooth-365 Intensive Clarity + Smoothing Peptide Serum

With a long name like Smooth-365 Intensive Clarity + Smoothing Peptide Serum and all the hype when it was first launched I had high hopes for this serum. Especially when the blurb on the packaging says this: "Results: Immediately: 71% measurable improvement in skin clarity in clinical studies. After 4 weeks: 3 out of 4 subjects felt their skin was velvety smooth. After 8 weeks: 52% visible reduction in lines and wrinkles in clinical studies."

I have been using this serum for about 6 months, minus the time when I had chicken pox. In general I like the way it makes my skin feel smooth after application - I guess that must be the silicones working. I wanted to love it, but discovered that my face doesn't like it. I persevered for a few weeks before stopped using it on my face as it caused congestion on my skin. My neck didn't react to it, so I ended up using it as a neck serum.

Like mentioned in my previous post I'm trying to deal with some pesky lines on my neck, so I've been watching it closely to see whether the serum does something. I wanted to see whether it really does what it says on the webpage: "Smooth-365™ improves skin 3 different ways, 365 days: Clarity-promoting extracts perfect skin tone for a more uniform, translucent complexion. Optical diffusers instantly, weightlessly and invisibly blur imperfections, lines and wrinkles. High-tech power peptides—in an effective delivery system—surge on to wrinkles, helping to ramp up the natural collagen production that helps keep skin firm and less lined."

Going by their clinical result claim, I'm with the 29% who couldn't see any improvement of "skin clarity", whatever that means. Obviously my skin isn't going translucent as I can't see the inner parts of my neck, to my relief, as I don't want to be known as "the lady with the transparent neck"!! Though I could be famous if I were to have a transparent neck. LOL.

Back to the topic. I'm also with the 48% who couldn't see any reduction in lines. The lines on my neck are still as visible as my Flamingo coloured toes. Therefore I conclude that this serum does nothing for my skin. My conclusion is backed up by an almost empty bottle of serum as the result of 6 months "private trial" - sponsored only by myself. :)

Would I like to receive a year's supply of this serum for free? No, thanks, I'd rather receive a year's supply of Godiva chocolates.

Verdict: it doesn't work for me.

Disclaimer: no animals harmed during my private trial, no offense intended. I can't be held responsible for any grieve caused by wanting to eat posh chocolates after reading this post.

Boredom Brings Beauty

Grubby hand and grubby foot out in the midday sun with my latest toy: Barry M Vivid Purple - NP161. The sun makes the purple looks bluer than what it actually is.

P.S. I forgotten that I also used a blue-ish photo effect to make the picture a bit more artistic. That's why my pale skin looks really tanned on it! :)

Barry M Nail Paints I Own So Far

Sometime ago I wrote about Barry M Nail Paints here. Today I'm showing you the 4 colours I own so far.

Shades from left to right:
- Pink Flamingo (NP305)
- Block Orange (NP301)
- Turquoise (NP295)
- Vivid Purple (NP161)

I bought the Block Orange and Turquoise ages ago, and won the other two on a Barry M competition. I don't receive any remuneration for writing about it and I don't get any commission for providing a link to their website. Why am I telling you this? After the recent online brouhaha about bloggers and companies, I felt compelled to write this, just to cover my backside, in case anyone ever accuse me of being one of the "sold-out bloggers". Hehehe...

Oct 11, 2009

Shoes and More Shoes

I seem to collect shoes wherever I go. It's not a disease, it's a necessity. Surely there's no such thing as having only one pair of shoes that's perfectly suited for every occasion in life?

To me "functional shoes" = shoes that are designed to serve a particular purpose. To this extent, all my functional shoes have travelled the world with me.

Here are some examples:

a pair of sturdy walking boots to tackle muddy fields (walking in Auckland, NZ)

a pair of slinky heels to match my eyeshadows (indoors in England)

a pair of sneakers to walk around Taj Mahal (on a trip to India)

a pair of ballet shoes (standing on a parchland in Kenya)

a pair of shoes with chunky heels (attending a wedding in Bali)

See what I mean? There's always a time and a place for every shoes! :) Rest assured I have a pair of ankle length boots to wear with jeans, a pair of comfy espadrille to walk around town, a pair of sensible black shoes (not sure what they are for, yet), a pair of knee-length boots to wear with my dresses, plus some more. Oh, alright, I confess: plus many, many, many, many more pairs... (blushing)

Most of my shoes are in the storage place as I'm sort of "in-between country" at the moment, staying at PIL's place. I do have my favourites with me. I'm an organist by trade, so I always carry a pair of modified jazz shoes with me to play the organ. See whether you can spot my tiny organ shoes on the picture below.
Can't really see the shoes, I know... at least you can see me in action! :)

Back to more shoes. Amongst my summer acquisition is a pair of satin Monsoon shoes, RRP £65, acquired for the sum of £1. I couldn't believe it when I saw the price tag. I asked the sales assistant whether there was something wrong with it. She said, "Nope. Only because it's the last pair left-over from last season." Huh?! Last season or not, I fell in love with them straight away. The next picture shows the Monsoon shoes from different angles. Bear in mind that I do not use them for organ playing, the spiky heels make them almost useless for playing the pedals properly. They're just there for a show, in real life they're worn before and after playing the organ. Such is the life of an organist...

Oct 9, 2009

Red and Blue

When I was a toddler I had a pair of red shoes. My mum said that was the time when I went through the stage of loving all things red: red dress (with red fluffy-feathery scarf to go with it), red jumper, red bag, red lunch box, red plastic chair, red lego bricks, and little red train toy. I think I never really grown out of my love of anything red. The only thing I don't normally wear is red lipstick. I guess I'm not brave enough to sport it.

Talking about all things red brings me to one of my favourite perfumes: Lancome Magnifique. The nutty scent never fails to bring smile to my face. It's the perfume I turn to whenever I'm feeling blue. The sweetness of the scent is just right, I get headache whenever I smell perfumes that are sickeningly sweet (eg. Kylie Minogue's perfumes).

My love affair with Magnifique started when a sales assistant in Perth gave me a "sneak whiff" and a sample vial a few weeks before it was launched last year. She sprayed some on my arm, asked me to go around the shop before telling her what I thought about it. The scent was so gorgeous I couldn't stop smelling my arm afterwards. I was hooked! Later on that day, a lady who lived on the same apartment block complemented me on my choice of perfume and asked for the perfume's name. That same day hubby said he loved the scent. Obviously the perfume suits me really well. :)

Since then I've received many complements everytime I wear it. I don't use it daily as I don't want my nose to get used to the scent. I use it for special occasions or when I need an instant mood-lifter.

Givenchy Absolutely Irresistible
is another perfume with red packaging that I like. The smell reminds me of Magnifique. Not quite the same scent, but similar enough. I can't remember exactly why I haven't bought this one yet.

So those perfumes are amongst my favourite red things. What are yours?

Oct 8, 2009

L'Occitane Clarifying Rice Mask

Today I'm writing about L'Occitane Clarifying Rice Mask as it's the first mask I've encountered that really mattify my skin. The mattifying effect is so good I could see noticeable difference in my combination skin. Everytime after I used it the oily parts of my face looked matte, as if I've just been airbrushed! :)

I guess the magic ingredients could be the 3 types of natural clays used in this mask. According to the webpage, it contains "white clays (to promote the elimination of impurities), green clay (known for its absorbing and rebalancing properties) and pink clay (known to soften and improve skin’s radiance)."

The blurb on the webpage says: "This mask, recommended for combination to oily skin purifies the skin and ensures a long lasting matte and velvet finish." I'm not sure about the purifying part, as I haven't noticed any improvements to the congested part of my skin. Generally I like to use mask in the evening before I sleep and so far I've never consciously made a note of how long the matte effect last. All I can say is I really, really like the result - look at how many times I used the word "matte"! :)

I love the gentle almond scent and the texture of the mask. I'm using muslin cloth to remove the mask, I find that it's too slippery to remove it with water alone.

Verdict: a good mattifying mask.

P.S. For those who are interested in pore-reducing products, try Biotherm Biopur Pore Reducer lotion, it worked wonders on my pores. Obviously the Pore Reducer mask isn't as good as L'Occitane's Rice Mask as I'm not writing about it today. LOL.

Ingredients: aqua/water, kaolin, glycerin, hydroxypropyl starch phosphate, Cl 77891/titanium dioxide, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, oryza sativa (rice) powder, sodium pca, sorbitol, butylene glycol, illite, oryza sativa (rice) bran oil, parfum/fragrance, maltodextrin, bentonite ethylhexylglycerin, tocopherol, xanthan gum, red rice vinegar, zinc pca, benzoic acid, dehydroacetic acid, oryza sativa (rice) extract, citrus media limonum (lemon) peel oil, spiraea ulmaria extract, polyamonipropyl biguanide, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, phenoxyethanol, limonene.

Oct 5, 2009

'Dear Diary' week: 5-11 Oct

Thought I'd start the week by joining the 'Dear Diary' week. Here's what Lauren said about it: "... a week-long collaboration between myself and Sharon of My Passport to Style. We have a jam packed week in store for you, including interviews, guest bloggers, fun stuff and more – and it’s all to help raise funds for cervical cancer.We’re urging you to make that date in your diary and book that all-important cervical smear– as well as helping us to aid such a worthwhile cause."

The reason I'm joining this campaign is because personally I don't really know much about cervical cancer. I've lost a very good friend to breast cancer and earlier this year I lost my grandad to prostate cancer. What's more, FIL's mum died of breast cancer, his sister is in remission from one, and the sister's daughter had a cancer scare not long ago.

With this kind of background, I think anything that raises awareness about any type of cancer is brilliant. If you're still reading this, I'm hoping you'd like to join me in spreading the word about this campaign. Simply grab this button and display it on your blog for this whole week.

Now to a little update about my 2 weeks break in Devon & Cornwall. Hubby & I ate loads of Cornish pasties, flavoured fudge (I especially love chocolate and rum & raisins), cornish ice cream (chocolate one, of course!), Domino's chicken tikka pizza, and some yummy Indian curries made by hubby's cousin who is a trained cheff. Pure indulgence. :)
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