Thursday, 29 October 2015

Lush | Rosey Cheeks

When it comes to a cheeky pamper, Lush seems to always hit the nail on the head. I adore their bubble bars, and love mixing and matching their cleansers, and have had the pleasure of trying many of their famous fresh face masks. My issue tends to be remembering to use up the masks before their use-by date – I love the idea of newness far too much to stick faithfully to one pot before it’s time is up. So on that basis, I tend to have a few going at any one time. Now, from experience, I have to say Mask of Magnaminty is the star of the Lush Face Mask show, but on my latest visit, I spotted Rosey Cheeks. As my skin slowly but surely ages, I have noticed more redness and sensitivity than previously, and found myself charmed by the description:
“Find the happiness you seek by cleansing cheek to cheek with this gorgeously soothing fresh mask. A simple blend of kaolin, calamine and Turkish rose oil to delicately calm the skin and restore balance. Whether you're feeling hot and bothered or just fancy showering your complexion with roses, cleansing calamine and kaolin will gently remove dirt while exquisite rose oil nourishes and tones your face. Smooth a generous layer of this mask over your skin and relax for 10-15 minutes, allowing the ingredients to get to work, before rinsing. Uncover calm, matte skin which says you've been kissed by a rose.”
A lot to claim, Lush, a lot to claim. So, as with all matters of cynicism, I thought I’d better see if Rosey Cheeks would live up to its claims

First of all, this mask is a lovely, soft, soft, soft milkshake pink. Impressed already! The clay is also soft, soft, soft, leading to the skin not feeling overly dried-out at the point at which the mask has set on the skin. The face doesn’t feel like it is about to crack if one smiles, and the whole mask experience is a pretty relaxing experience. Of course, this is helped along by the fact that I’m normally wallowing in the bath whilst this is on my skin.

And the results? After removal with a hot, wrung-out flannel, I find my skin to be calmer, softer and more toned. 

Much love,
Ani x

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Reviewing | Becca Lowlight/Highlight Perfecting Palette

There comes a point in life where tasks and processes just become part of one’s routine: we forget to savour the process, to appreciate the end result. A rut, if you will. And a rut I did enter when it came to contouring. Once a wonderful, unique idea, contouring just became much of a muchness. It happens. Product just fulfil their job spec, indeed they do it very well, but a little freshness, a touch of the novel, and a process  steps back to being a joy. Enter the Becca Lowlight/Highlight Perfecting Palette.
Now, this will never replace my Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder, but it sure as hell sits nicely alongside it, works in tandem, and adds a little extra. Unlike the Sculpting Powder, the Becca sits slightly warmer on the coolness scale – adding a tad more warmth to the face. Still sculpted, still shadowy, just slightly warmer – more bronze, if you will, perfectly complemented by a peach-gold highlighter that just screams WOW.  The two together, built on the skin are just the thing for a night out – deepen the colour further by using the Kevyn Aucoin in the very hollows of the face.
On it’s own, sans highlighter, the lowlight colour is perfect for an everyday realistic shadow on the face. Buttery soft, ridiculously blendable, these powders make me feel as if I’m living the dream! Buffed onto the sides and tip of the nose, the temples, jawline and into eye-sockets, you’ve got an instant mocha monochromatic look to the skin that looks naturally sculpted and refined.

Much love,
Ani x

Friday, 9 October 2015

Tippex and Highlighter | Nails

A peculiar thing has passed over me lately – the necessity for nails that look as if they’ve been tippexed or highlighted. Clean, bright, white. Offensive, obnoxious, yellow. I blame those Kardashians – specifically I blame that Kylie and her envy-inducing one day white, next day yellow, always-pointed, hawks talons. I just adore them. 
Fascinatingly, they both bring within them a shed-load of compliments, and the beginnings of thought-provoking discussions. Who knew nail polish was so refined?

Much love,
Ani

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The One I didn’t need | Naked Smoky

This was the stuff that dreams were made of – I was beyond convinced that this would be the answer to all my palette prayers, and that my life would be made better by the mere inclusion of it within my make-up routine.
Alas, this was not to be. Beautiful as it may have been, and there is no doubt that Urban Decay have refined their presentation – tortoiseshell hard case – and the tools they now provide, double-sided beautiful brush, through to the little tri-fold instruction card on how to create certain looks, this just didn’t do it for me. Pigmentation, spot on as usual, colours beautiful, but I almost didn’t find a cohesion to the shades – individually beautiful, definitely, but together, a little more of a mismatch than I would have liked, and I am quite the queen of mismatching. 
But a palette, to me, needs to be fully workable under all conditions, whatever the occasion may throw up – that is the essence of a palette. What I did find, and this may just make it the perfect palette for some, is that many of these are brilliant add-on shades. Need a little highlight, some glitter, or some extra smoke? There’s a colour in there for all of these. I love my Naked original, and will be sticking to that, but for some, this will be the palette of dreams.

Much love,
Ani

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

High End | Hourglass First Look

I happened to acquire 2 things from Hourglass - the Ambient Lighting Palette, and the Mineral Veil. It is full-on love. Both are exquisite - from the outer packaging, to the make-up housing, through to the actual products themselves. And this is a little sneak-peek before I present my full-on reviews.

Currently, I have a lot of opinions forming - firstly, beautiful. Secondly, the products are actually wonderful - so much so, that I think I would probably repurchased at the extortionate prices that they are sold for (I also realise why they are extortionate).

Much love,
Ani

Monday, 31 August 2015

The converted | Liz Earle Add-ons

Any skincare junkie worth their weight in gold knows not only the benefits of a regular, basic routine, but the inherent value of the add-ons. There are a plethora of reasons why one would need add-ons - take this week, for example, and the flare up of my eczema, which brings with it the need for a slathering of coconut oil on the skin. Dehydrated? How about a little hyaluronic acid? Spot issues - salicylic acid for a thorough to-the-root clean. And so the list goes on, never-ending.

After my wonderful (re) experience with Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish, a little deal on their website spurred me on to purchasing the Gentle Face Exfoliator and the Brightening Treatment Mask, both of which, I have to say, have earned their place as add-on (or slightly more frequent than is needed) treatments. 
First to the Gentle Face Exfoliator - I'm normally all about the regular acid exfoliation, but for some reason, I've been slacking, and the turnover of my skin has therefore not been so efficient, leading to the need for a good manual exfoliation to allow the preparation of the skin for a good old chemical exfoliation that I plan to embark on! Containing eucalyptus, cocoa butter and fine jojoba beads the combination of which gently buffs away dead skin cells and impurities. The scrub itself it housed within the creamy cocoa butter base, and the particles are super fine, and not in the least bit scratchy (yes, they have made their way around my eye area and I can attest that my eyes are fine!) The beads themselves provide such a gentle, yet thorough exfoliation, that the skin feels soft to the touch, and almost brand new in its texture. It is recommended that this is used as often as needed, and to be honest, I have been using it approximately every other day - beautiful product that does just as it says.

Now let's move onto this little hero product - the Brightening Treatment Mask with aloe vera, witch hazel and purifying white clay for a reviving, fast acting mask for instant radiance. The instructions say to leave on for 30 seconds to 2 minutes - me being the sceptic that I am, I tried 30 seconds and oh my goodness, the results were rave-worthy. I did actually rave about this. Skin instantly was brightened, slightly tauter, and provided the perfect base for make up. I loved it so much that I actually used it every morning for a week. The thing is, I just love this - I have calmed down on my usage, but anything that calms, nourishes and brightens all at the same time is a little miracle.

I am really looking forward to trying more Liz Earle products!

Much love,
Ani

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Triple Threat | Lips

I love me a good lip. Mine are pretty good, albeit they have had a little bit of injectable help! I do adore the plump, defined, slightly pillow-esque lipped look that is currently doing the rounds. Thankfully I have found the most fail-safe combination of products to easily achieve this.
Line
Fully line the entire lip area with Rimmel’s East End Snob. My liner of choice for nigh-on five years now, it is the perfect mix of edgy and ladylike.
Lippy
Mac’s Snob wins every time for me. Not quite Barbie, not quite classiest woman in the world, this definitely puts the pout in your lips.
Gloss
Newest, most favourite find – L’oreal Paris Infallible Mega Gloss in Protest Queen. A milky, but creamier version of Nars’ Turkish Delight. Just try it. 

Much love,
Ani

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish | Revisited, Reviewed

I tried this, once upon a time. Things did not quite end happily ever after. Then I tried it again, recently, and the angels sang a little bit. What changed? Well, quite a lot, truth be told. In the first instance, I used this at a time when my skin was in a volatile phase. I imagine, therefore, that the Cocoa Butter, and plethora of essential oils just didn’t sit well with my skin. Fast forward a good five years, and this substance is the bee’s knees. Thick, unctuous, substantial, sumptuous, this is everything I envision in a cleanser. The mere experience of pumping the dense cream, distributing between both hands – a quick snuffle before the mechanics – and the sensation as it hits the skin, is just delightful. Massaged in, it delivers a circulation boost, eliminates super-heavy eye make-up, as well as a whole face of make-up, sunscreen, and daily pollution.


As a second cleanse, equally as wonderful on my oily skin. The consistency segues into the perfect facial, with skin left purified, plump and hydrated.

In my eyes, a multitude of use for this lovely green bottle. 

Much love,
Ani

p.s. in further news, I love the stuff so much that I've repurchased twice, and also managed to get my hands on the limited edition triple tin and am currently using the Grapefruit & Patchouli, as I thought this would be my least fave - but for a least fave, it's pretty darn good!

Monday, 29 June 2015

The Library of Fragrance | Amber

It takes a lot to seduce me in an olfactory kind of way. I have very specific thoughts on scent, and not enough words to describe them. In essence, I like what I like. And lately I’ve been liking something very much. The Library of Fragrance, Amber. That’s it. Nothing fancy. Just Amber. And it is all kinds of sexy heaven. I officially heart it. It’s that little bit of sexy within many fragrances that I have that I just wish I could amplify. And guess what? Now I can! This is perfect to deepen the mood of other perfumes, to wear alone, or to really create a bit of scent alchemy with!
My tastes tend to be dark and deep, but can venture to sugary sweet on the occasion, but this one captures the rounded sexiness. All in all, I’m terrible at describing this, so let’s throw the gauntlet over to The Library of Fragrance themselves, who have a more complete, and terribly accurate description.

“Envelop yourself in our version of this exotic and alluring scent.
Amber is fossilized tree resin that has taken millions of years to form - in fact, most of the world's amber is thought to be between 30-90 million years old. The scent of this aromatic resin is recreated in perfumery by blending vanilla, benzoin and labdanum and it is used to add a sweet, woody and creamy depth to fragrances. Labelled an aphrodisiac with mystical powers, this rich, honey-like, scent is gently dusted with earth and sensual oriental hints. Warm and aromatic, it evokes a subtle, spicy atmosphere of twilight.”

If you like deep, sensuous scents, this is the one for you. If not, I’ve a review of Moonbeam coming very soon.

Much love, Ani x

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Joy | Sculpting

In make up terms, nothing gives me more instant gratification than those days when I pull of a master contour. The true story is that I do contour every day – I love it beyond words – with a variety of different products from fairly subtle (I don’t go too subtle) to full on how’s your father, in your face type contouring. Now, every day I do a fair job of the contour game – but every so often, maybe once a week, it just looks spot-on. The mix of products, a little patience, and a beautiful brush all come together, and all the planets align in order to gimme those cheekbones I so covet!



The products.

Topshop Cream Contour in Swerve
I love this. To be honest, I love Topshop make-up: such beautiful quality at lovely prices that include a student discount. Truth be told, I wanted both colours of this contour cream, but the second was out of stock – but never fear, that will also be mine. A little swirl of this cream, and a direct brush-tip application right under the cheekbone never fails me. Blend up for subtle or add more for pow, and you’re contour base is done.

Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Medium
My second of these. That’s love right there. Just a wonderfully soft, grey-toned powder that can be built up right from the softest of a shadow-kiss, up to the harsh drag-style lines that I can’t pretend I don’t favour sometimes! An investment, but one that lasted me around 2 years the first time.

Make Up Revolution Eyeshadow in Delicious
This is the one I turn to for that little added pop of drama. Super soft, super blendable, but highly-pigmented, this cool-toned brown is perfect for creating extra shadow.


The Brush.

So, bold claim coming up, but I do believe this is the best contour brush ever. A 99p dupe of the Nars Mie Kabuki Brush. Beautifully tapered, but chubby on the sides, wonderfully light, and brilliant to use with all of the above. After writing this I will go straight onto the seller’s ebay page and purchase firstly another of this brush, and then some others I have had my eye on!

Much love,
Ani x

Monday, 15 June 2015

On returning | And empties

To be honest, I don’t really know what happened. I suppose I got busy. I suppose I didn’t make time. For blogging. But now I have supposed to be back. Or, what I should really say is that I want to be back, and therefore I am! I thought I’d start with a little look back at the things I’ve finished, and my thoughts on them.



Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment

I liked this, I really did – a retinol in a super soothing base, with pretty good results. But I won’t be repurchasing, only because another retinol has stolen my beating heart. We’ll get onto that at a later date. Definitely a brilliant purchase for those of you with sensitive skin, but pigmentation and wrinkly issues that you want sorting. Definite results within about a month.

Alpha H Liquid Gold.

My old love. Such a staple in this household, used by all three women here, of 2 different generations and 3 slightly differing ages! Basically, a sting-ish feeling liquid, wiped over the visage with a cotton pad (you can go back over stubborn issues), almost like a toner. Note the almost: it is definitely not a toner. Used every other night, or 3 times a week it helps to heal the skin, giving it back some firmness and a generally clearer look. Used any more, and you’ll start to notice your skin looks a tad stressed. Already repurchased. One in a 100ml, and one in a 50ml. The 200ml was out of stock. Best place to buy? QVC.

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish.

Once upon a time I hated this stuff. I could have quite literally sworn an oath saying it did nothing for my skin. But once upon a time, my skin was just complete of out whack. Fast forward about 5 years, and after a heavy night out, this came to my rescue at my wonderful friend Rach’s house, and I was hooked again. Beautiful in the morning. Beautiful in the evening. Thick, luxurious. Good for a super quick cleanse. Good for a prolonged massage-with-cleanse. Perfect for removing the layers of make up on both my every day and occasion-wear faces! Already repurchased in the full size pump, and a teeny 30ml for any visits I may partake in.

La Roche Posay Toleriane Fluid.

Purchased exclusively for it’s soothing benefits, I have to say I didn’t like it. It didn’t soothe any of my eczema, nor did it feel like it was compensating for anything. Finished, but I think I might go for the Hydraphase next time.

Good Things Cleansing Oil.

Actually a beautifully thick cleansing oil, that emulsifies perfectly, taking with it all of the make up around my eyes (I use a flannel to take everything off). Not repurchased, but only because I managed to get the Shu Uemura one super cheap on a blog sale. 

Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Addiction.

Used down to the very nub. These liners have been my favourite for about 5 years, and I don’t think that favour is being transferred any time soon. Super creamy, perfect for wearing along, but also acts like an adhesive for any lipstick that you fancy following it with. This colour is a soft nude, leaning slightly brown. Definitely need another.

Soap & Glory Peaches & Clean.

I have been eeking this bad boy out like you wouldn’t believe. At some point, and this is true of every bottle of this I have ever had, about 2/3 of the way down, the pump no longer likes to pump. This then involves unscrewing the lid and slapping it on the fleshy pad of your thumb until the magic formula emerges. After a while, even this doesn’t work, and water must be added to make a concoction that will pump again! Today I got myself a new one (hard work, it’s been out of stock everywhere), and it’s a larger size! Time shall only tell if the pump action is any better.

And that, as they say, is that! See you (hopefully soon) around these parts for another installment!

Much love,
Ani 

Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Quick | Empty and Review

It’s been quite a while since I’ve attempted an empties post – mainly due to my inability to remember to keep the actual products once I’ve finished them! But seeing as quite a few things seemed to run out at the same time, I thought I’d give it a bit of the old “finish and review” treatment.

Rimmel Lip Liner in East End Snob – I cannot even attempt to tell you how many of these I have had over the years: it is my daily, go-to lip liner, can be worn alone, under a pink lipstick, under a nude lipstick – the uses are endless! I was so panicked about finishing this that I went out straight away and tried to repurchase, but shock, horror, it was out of stock! A retry will be happening soon!
Alpha H Liquid Gold – my saviour some years ago when I randomly started breaking out a few years ago, the same has happened so I returned to my trusty Glycolic buddy. Already ran out, already repurchased. A complete staple!
L’oreal Oil Extraordinary Oil - This was to replace The Body Shop Sumptuous Cleansing Butter, which I believe was an agitator and slight cause of my breakouts in the beginning – the Shea Butter seems to just block my pores ridiculously. I’m actually pretty fond of this oil, I’ve used the 15 second L’oreal one before, and to be fair, they seem like the same product. I always need an oil in my life, so will probably pick up one of these again, or have another bash at The Body Shop Chamomile Silky Cleansing Oil.
La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo
Another staple in my skincare rotation, but lately I’m not so sure that I used it regularly enough for it to have the desired effect. In the past it has been a bit of a skin saving grace. I will probably repurchase and get back to using it regularly.
Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Medium - My true love when it comes to contouring (not pictured). Expensive, but lasted me about 2 years. Already repurchased.
Much love,
Ani


Thursday, 5 February 2015

Running Like a Girl | Review

It appears that I may have turned into the furthest-removed type of person from myself. One who is starting to enjoy exercise. One who is starting to like to run. Granted, running in the warmth of my own home, but running nonetheless. The first few times, I really had to push myself to do it, and then one day a miracle happened. After a few hard runs of about 20 minutes, I pushed myself over the barrier and it just got easier. At the same time I started to read Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Hemingsley, and everything started to make sense. 
The initial fear of actually trying to run. The block that you have to come at around 12-20 minutes. The sense of achievement after a run. And how it genuinely makes you feel good. The book is superb – one of the better, focused, but real accounts that I have read. Hemingsley doesn’t sugar coat, doesn’t patronise, but simply tells it how it is. A wonderful book for anyone wanting to run, thinking about running, running and wondering what the future holds – this book helps you know what to expect from running. The read itself is brilliant, it flows, tells a story, so much so that I read it in one sitting, the day after my treadmill broke. And right now, all I really want to do is run. An inspiring read that makes me feel like I want to run a million marathons. 
Have you read this?
Much love,
Ani x

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Return to | MAC

I haven't been a lover of Mac for quite some time. Once upon a time, like a beauty obsessee's right-of-passage, I was quite infatuated. But like all infatuations and dalliances, it's time came earth-crashingly to an end, and I realised there were very few things I truly loved from the range, In fact, up until that fated night last Thursday, I think the only Mac in my collection were a handful of lipsticks (Snob, Angel, Innocence Beware, Honey Love and Sinister), alongside Teddy Eye Khol (incidentally, I need to find it, I wish to wear it tomorrow), and a limited editions Villains blush. Now, last Thursday was payday, and I 100% did not wish to buy any make up, in fact, right before (I'm guessing 5 minutes before) the fated incident, I had just said out loud "I'm so happy with my make up collection." And with that, I guess I tempted fate.
Because I walked out of Mac, not just with a Mac foundation, which I had earlier lambasted as the source of all evil just a few hours before, but also a concealer AND powder. A full face of Mac (you can see above how it looks when I apply it all myself). Hai. But do I regret it. Weirdly not. The combination, which I will get on to in just a little second, has gleamed me compliments on not only the flawlessness of my skin, but also the wonderful colour match. 
So, today I introduce you to the Pro Longwear Concealer, Pro Longwear Foundation, and Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation. Now, for someone who hadn't planned on a base-shop, I certainly knew exactly what I was looking for - I suppose that's what comes from being a beauty obsessee. In terms of concealer, I needed something to conceal the ridiculous cyst-like breakout that seems to be haunting me, that would stay in place at least a working day. Foundation needed to be flawless, super long-lasting, and control oil to an extent. Powder needed to set foundation in place, then to be used as a top up throughout the day if needed, or after work if going out. And boy did they get it right this time. 
I explained that I normally get matched too dark, that the oils on my skin oxidise any foudnation anyways, and that Mac foundations just didn't seem to sit well on my skin - and that's coming from trying out almost all Mac has to offer. Now, I've used this full get up twice, only twice mind you, but the amount of compliments I've had has been astounding. Not only that, but my twice-a-day powdering habit has been reduced to the grand old amount of ZERO. Unheard of with my skin. I will keep you updated, but for now, oily skin ladies, the concealer provides medium-to-heavy coverage, the foundation a good medium, built to heavy, but could be sheered, and the powder is definitely one for a flawless look. 
For reference, I have the NC35 in concealer, the NC30 in foundation and NC25 in powder (a couple of steps down from the NC40-42 they used to match me to! I'm so glad Asian skintones are finally being understood!) Find the products here: Pro Longwear Concealer £17, Pro Longwear Foundation £25 and Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation £21.50.
Much love,
Ani x

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Lush | Unicorn Horn

Baths are something that I heart. I heart them completely (and I can now legitimately heart them as "heart" was the most used "word" last year). I find them ultimately relaxing, deeply comforting and a wonderful part of my day. But add in a little Lush, and #POW, you've got yourself something a little more than special. I tend to splurge on Lush once a month, and like to think of it as helping my overall mental and emotional well being. Or, in simpler terms, it makes me a happier Ani! On my latest trip, I just had to pick up the beautiful Unicorn Horn. 
Multicoloured, glittery, starry: this is my brain in a bubble bar. Of course, I actually don't like a copious amount of bubbles, so I can make this bad boy last a good number of baths. With scents of neroli and lavender, this is super relaxing and warming - perfect for these freezing winter nights. A definite repurchase :). Find it here for £3.25.
Much love,
Ani x

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Forever Learning | Working Out

Exercise has never been my thing – if I’m honest, it is universal activity that has not once been my thing. At primary school I would use any justification I could to not be in PE lessons, to not be in the playground. I was that book girl – you know the one. That was me. And really, I am still that book girl, but I am no longer that 18 year old book girl who could eat 2 dinners and put on not an ounce. I am now that 27 year old book girl with curves and a propensity to be a little soft around the edges. Now I like a bit of softness, I do think women should look like women, but I could do with a little toning, maybe a little weight loss, and an overall upturn in fitness. So, I’ve started. I actually started a little last year, kept it up for a month and felt magnificent, but the cold weather came along and evidently I just wanted to hibernate like a bear. Now, I am not, and undoubtedly will never be, a gym bunny – or that gym girl, so knowing that, a little while ago I invested in some little dumbbells, a hula hoop, a gym ball, and I am also lucky enough that we have a treadmill at home. I hate the treadmill. It is literally my nemesis. I like a good walk/ jog outside in the summer. But the treadmill is evil. I can get off when I want, which is generally after 2 minutes. But 2 days in a row now, I have done a mile on it. One day going a little hard, and one day going slightly slower. I am also doing the P90X ab workout, which I love, another little workout by someone I know, and the 30 day squat challenge. Add in a little hula hooping, and hopefully, within no time (some time!) I will be toned and fit!
Much love,
Ani x

Monday, 12 January 2015

Unveiling | Illamasqua

Illamasqua is a brand that I have coveted for a silly amount of time - for some reason I read about it, admire it, but never buy it. Until one crisp winter's morning when I received notification of their annual after-Christmas sale. And the rest, as they say, is history. It has always been the bases and the palettes that have intrigued me the most, but as a little bit of a base connoisseur, I was not going to be buying any of those without being matched in person. So enter the palettes and their wonderful discounts: Liquid Metal Palette, Multi Facet Palette in Aura and Reflection Palette.
On first glance, what beautiful palettes - plastic but sturdy, shiny, and just ultimately sleek, Upon opening the palettes, just wow. Beautiful colours, textures, arrangements - Illamasqua just seem to nail the palette issue. 
First up, the Liquid Metal Palette - quite literally does what it says on the tin. Foil-like, creamy, and beautiful colours - bronze, gunmetal, silver and gold - that will make it onto my lids for many a night out! The second palette, the Aura Palette contains shadows, blush, contour and liner not just a multi-use palette, but more of a multi-multi-use palette! I have made up my face with just this palette, and the result was a pretty, natural face. Lastly, the Reflection Palette, which I am starting to adore. The texture of the shadows is reminiscent of pressed pigments, but feels almost like water on the skin itself. The shade range: a pearl, taupe, bronze and gunmetal, all with shimmer, reflection, and warmth to them, cover all bases from day to night.
All in all, a great first impression from Illamasqua!
Much love,
Ani x

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Most Used | Base Combo ft. L'oreal, Clarins & EX1

I have, am, and always will be a sucker for a good base - laying the perfect (excuse the pun) foundation always helps my day to start a little more brightly. I like to think my beloved Kimmy K and J. Lo feel the same way, and experience these little true but shallow emotions. Creating a flawless face helps the exultation of confidence, and lets me stand that little bit taller. Now, when it comes to picking that perfect base, I have the ultimate plethora of foundations, concealers and powders - quite literally 3 drawers full, and not one I would part with: but I find myself reaching most for the following almost instinctively everyday.
For the purposes of this post, let's assume I've already moisturised (La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo, L'OrĂ©al Paris Triple Active Fresh Ultra-Hydrating Gel-Cream), SPF'd (Obagi) and primed (Max Factor Facefinity), and let us move onto the world of concealer. Now I tend to mix a few together, dab a little here and there, use one for highlighting etc etc - but these two are the most reached for. EX1's Delete Concealer is a lovely, dense, cream-in-a-pot type concealer that I used with my Sigma F82, and buff all over the parts of the skin that need some help - you might call it my generalised, large-area concealer. This ends up cancelling any redness, reducing the appearance of scars, and generally evening out the skin, and helping me to apply less foundation. Next up, Clarins Instant Concealer, which I use to stubborn the more stubborn blemishes and scars. Blending a little of this over my already slightly-concealed base just helps to cancel the prominence of the leftover high-colour. For foundation, the True Match Foundation is one of the best on the high-street: buildable from medium to full coverage, seamless application with a beauty blender, and the ability to last a good few hours on my once set with my beloved True Match Powder, which incidentally I carry a second of in my handbag for powdering duties throughout the day. 
Just as a little aside, I am already on my second bottle of the foundation, 3rd compact of the powder, and have made a considerable foundation-sized dent in the EX1 concealer: they are that good!
I hope you enjoyed a little look into my daily face base.
Much love,
Ani x

Friday, 9 January 2015

The Repurchased

In this world that we call beauty, things are oh so fickle. A new product here, a new launch there - it is with the utmost difficulty that one stays loyal to anything for any length of time. Take my bathroom - boxes full of things I am trying to finish. Granted, I am making the effort now, using more, buying less, and a dent is sloooooooowly being made! But when I do repurchase, I feel the products must be worth a mention - for how often do I repurchase anything? Today, here are the skincare repurchases that I have made - just two products, but two that I think will be around for a good old while. 
Here we have Lush's Mask Of Magnaminty - my favourite Lush Mask, because it has so many uses: cleanser, exfoliator, mask, body mask - it is a plethora of multi-use, and the green colour just makes me so happy! Minty, cooling, clay-ish, thick, unctuous, this does so much good for problem skin days, and just peps your soul up a little. 
The Body Shop's Chamomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter is now the only balm cleansing (bar pure coconut oil) in my skincare cache, and does the job of make-up removal, cleansing, and softening oh-so-easily. I have also had the cleansing oil from the same range before, but there is just something about a balm cleanser.
And for your viewing pleasure, here is a close up of these beautiful textures (I love a texture):
What are your most repurchased?
Much love,
Ani x

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Upping the Skincare Game | Obagi 360

I am now 27. Shock. I don't dislike it, if I'm quite honest, I actually really like the number. I do not, however, like what 27 does to my skin. I am fortunate to have been in the beauty industry since the age of 21, learning how to look after my skin, and to know the science behind it. But after those years of looking after it, 27 has let me down, and my skin is where I am feeling my age. So I sought help from the only person I trust with my skin, Rachel Fox, who I have watched treat all kinds of skins for years. My first instinct was that I wanted a peel, but we settled on a new skincare routine, inclusive of a Retinol, which has never touched my skin prior to this, aiming to acclimatise my skin before a peel (due to the risk of hypo-pigmentation of Asian skins and peels!). As I have just started, I thought I'd go through the products, and my thoughts, then do a full review after a month or two. I also feel that there aren't that many posts on hardcore skincare for young-ish skins, like mine, especially on the Obagi 360 regime.
The kit is veryyyy simple - 3 products: Exfoliating Cleanser, SPF for the daytime, and Retinol 0.5% for the nighttime. Lovely, simple, and plenty of scope to add in any favourite products or treatments within your stash. Now, I have seen Obagi do amazing things for skins older than mine - completely overhauling tone and texture, and general resilience, and am hoping that this particular regime will help with this!
So the Exfoliating cleanser - fresh smell, foams up a little, scrubs gently, and actually appears to be diminishing hyper-pigmentation marks that I have. As this is an exfoliating cleanser (mechanically and chemically), I tend to use a balm first (The Body Shop Chamomile Cleansing Butter) to take off make up, and cleanse, then follow up with this, removing with my favourite tool - a warm flannel.
In the daytime I use my normal skincare - tends to be an Enzymatic Toner, a Vitamin E Toner, Avene's Cleanance Mat, and as the very last step of skincare, the Obagi Hydrafactor SPF 30. The consistency is almost melt-y, and blends into the skin beautifully. Of course, everyone should be using SPF daily, but it is especially pertinent if you are using Glycolics, Retinols etc.
Lastly, at nighttime, I use the Retinol 0.5% over my Toners, and under a luscious moisturiser - current choices are the Body Shop Vitamin E Sorbet, Nude's Pro Genius Oil, and Vichy's Aqualia Thermal. On top of everything, I have taken to layering the Botanics Cooling Lavender Gel, as I know Retinols can cause irritation. Additionally, the Botanics Ultra Calm Skin Relief Serum and La Roche Posay's Toleriane Fluide are brilliant alternatives, with more focus on the skincare aspect. Eyes are currently being treated with a sample sachet of Kiehl's Midnight Eye Recovery, and hands with La Couvent des Minimes Gardeners Hand Healer. And that is that. New skincare routine, with some big skin-turnover ingredients, and some lovely treats in between :)
If you are interested in the Obagi 360, I wholeheartedly recommend Rachel, who will talk through everything for her - info can be found at Rachel's Website and there are options for different ages too.
Much love,
Ani x

Monday, 5 January 2015

High End Perfume Favourites | Chanel Coco Noir & YSL Belle D'Opium

Perfume is something I have always loved - my olfactory senses are a little ridiculous, to the point that sometime leaving an empty tea mug by my bedside table can disturb my sleep! Aged 7, I was obsessed with a perfume I saw in quite a few of the houses I frequented at the time - Karl Lagerfeld's Sun, Moon, Stars, and felt ridiculously grown up when I received a bottle of it as a gift. To this day, I still have that original perfume (ahem, 20 years later!), which I have used lovingly and sparingly throughout the years. The bottle stands proudly in between my now extensive melange of bottles of all shapes and sizes and scents and memories. And that is why I love perfume - it evokes memories in a way that is so powerful - the ultimate for a renowned forgetter like myself! I have in my assemblage of perfumes, the very cheapest scents, to the damned expensive, and each has it's place in my routine, mainly dependant on my mood. But I must say, as I am getting older, as much as I completely heart the sugary tones of Britney Spears' Curious, the depths and notes in the more expensive perfumes are becoming highly apparent! Added to this that my cold skin literally pushes fragrance out it, the high-ends tend to stick around a little longer. So today we celebrate the wonders that are my two favourite high-end perfumes:
It seemed only fitting to capture these two French beauties by candlelight: Chanel's Coco Noir, and YSL's Belle D'Opium. If you have not had the pleasure of smelling these two, then I would say now is as good a time as any for you to saunter on down to a department store.  Belle D'Opium is one that I was gifted by an uncle around a year ago now, and is just stunning in visage and scent. It is a heavy perfume, lighter that the original Opium, which I found myself disliking, but heavier in feel than everyone's current fave Black Opium. Comparing the two, Black Opium is a beautiful fragrance that has added a modernity and a slight awakening to the Opium name, but if you crave something that screams sensual, then Belle D'Opium is the one for you, and is also almost a more wearable version of Tom Ford's Black Orchid, which I constantly want to wear, but it doesn't seem to work on me. The main notes throughout here that appeal to me are incidentally very perfumed ones - Jasmine, Lily, Tobacco, Patchouli, Sandalwood and Amber: very heavy, but supremely decadent. 
Chanel's Coco Noir I have lusted over for around a year now, and finally purchased it in duty free last month. This tends to fall in the same scent category as the Belle D'Opium - a beautiful heaviness to it, without being cloying. Lighter in feel than the Belle, but with slightly less sweetness to it, I find this to be the perfect almost-masculine, but still hugely femininely sensual scent! Again, the notes are akin to those of Belle, but with an addition of Rose, Narcissus and Frankincense, which is where I think the less-saccharine aspect comes into it. Absolutely stunning.
I hope you like this post :)
Ani x

Saturday, 3 January 2015

And so it Begins: Here's to Not Worrying | 2015

I have been absent from this little corner of my world for about a month now - December got hectic, involved a family holiday, a kidney stone and a stomach ulcer, but some wonderful times with some family I hadn't seen for 14 years! Today I ease back in with the picture from my phone that have been inspiring me and making me giggle a little. I bring to you, the beginning of 2015:
This year, in my 27th (eek) year, I have decided to not so much set resolutions as just change parts of my life as and when I feel they need to be changed, and to practice gratefulness everyday. This is something that I got quite good at, and still practice, but need to be more mindful of day to day. I do believe a grateful heart is the best way to attract good towards yourself, and just feels so much better than negativity - so that is my major "resolution" if you will.
I am also on a bit of a health kick - as mentioned above, I got pretty ill at the end of last year, so I've decided it's about time I look after myself a little better. Nothing drastic - there is not huge amounts wrong with what I currently do, but things like drinking more water, not having sugar in every single thing, and getting more active, are the things I will be aiming towards. Plus there's a lovely yoga class at work every Monday that I really should make time for :).
Those are really the main things - I think it's about time I stopped worrying about where my life is going, do my best, and just let it carry me along.
Here's to not worrying.
Lots of love,
Ani x