Sunday, May 17, 2015

International Beauty: Best of French

Having recently travelled around the world trying makeup and skincare products far and wide I thought I'd start a little series on my blog about products to check out when you're overseas, especially because some of them can be near-impossible to get your hands on back home. First up is of course France, my favourite country which is famous for their excellent yet affordable skincare. A lot of it is available either in Priceline or online these days, but it's definitely cheaper in France and there's a much wider range from every brand. Most of these products won't come as any surprise to those of you who are already fans of affordable French skincare, but it doesn't hurt to cover the basics. The best place to go in Paris for these brands is definitely City Pharma, located around the corner from Les Deux Magots and Cafe de Flore on Boulevard Saint-Germain, I made a point of stopping by several times. It's the most ridiculously busy pharmacy (or pharmacie) I've ever been in but it's super well stocked, has the best range and surprisingly has the best prices too. If only I lived a few metro stops away and could visit any time I wanted.

La Roche Posay
Everyone is probably sick of hearing about it so I'll be quick, but you really can't go past LRP's incredibly popular Effaclar Duo+. You can use it either in place of your moisturiser or underneath it (depending on your skin) and with salycilic acid in the formula, it helps to gently keeps acne at bay while the niacinamide helps reduce the appears of acne scars. I think I'm onto my fourth tube now - the love is real. You will probably also have heard of the famous Serozinc which unfortunately isn't available in Australia and cannot be ordered online due to shipping restrictions. This is slighly different to your average water mist though, it contains zinc sulfate which is meant to be anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and sebum-regulating all in one. Whether or not this changes your life, it's got a lovely fine mist and a continual spray so it's a very convenient option for my hydrating toner step, and I will happily repurchase it if I get the chance. I also love their Toleriane moisturiser which is a lovely, no frills everyday moisturiser. There's nothing overly luxurious about this product but it's an excellent staple that's hydrating without being too rich, so it's perfect for mornings because it doesn't leave my face feeling greasy when I'm about to put on my makeup. It's also fragrance free (as most of their products are) so it's great if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin. Their Anthelios XL SPF 50 Extreme Fluide is also a wonderful product - I use SPF every day after my moisturiser, and just like the Toleriane this doesn't leave me feeling greasy and it's such a lovely thin consistency it doesn't interfere with your makeup or make you feel like you're just piling on more layers. Definitely a good one to check out if you haven't found a facial sunscreen you like because this might just change your mind.

Two classics from Caudalie are the Beauty Elixir and the SOS Thirst Quenching Serum. Although expensive for what it is and very easy to run though, the Beauty Elixir is a lovely hydrating toner option. Alcohol denat is the second ingredient (after water) but it's balanced out by hydrating glycerin and an array of gorgeous smelling plant oils including rosemary, grape and peppermint that help balance the skin and fight acne. As for the SOS serum, it's a lovely light milky texture that absorbs into the skin quickly and it contains glycerin, hyaluronic acid and anti-oxidant grape water. It may not be enough for those of you with dry skin, but for my oily skin it helps tackle dehydration (which basically everyone suffers from) perfectly well without being too rich or heavy for me and without making me any oilier.

Another standard, cannot-be-omitted French skincare product is Bioderma Sensibio H2O. This product is so iconic it's usually just referred to as Bioderma, which is the name of the brand itself and not the product, but everyone will know what you mean. It's the best micellar water/makeup remover around because it's unscented, feels just like water, leaves no residue and removes makeup in one quick swipe, need I go on? I've tried lots of other micellar waters and although there are some great alternatives on the market this is still number one. A Bioderma product you may not have heard of is the Purifying Concentrate Gentle Peel. A City Pharma salesperson explained this product to me as an every-other-night exfoliating treatment similar to the likes of Liquid Gold (my comparison, not theirs.) Formulated with 15% glycolic acid compared to Liquid Gold's 5%, this stuff does not mess around, though I haven't experienced any irritation or redness while using it which is a wonderful thing. Just in case you're not familiar, glycolic acid is a chemical exfoliant that breaks down the top layer of dead skin cells, leaving you with a fresher, brighter complexion. It will help even out your skin tone and texture and can help shift acne scars and unclog pores, what's not to love?

I know I've just said Bioderma's micellar water is the best one around, and it is, but just in case you feel like trying something different, the Vichy version is almost as good, and it's well worth a try if you feel inclined to branch out. I have no complaints about it at all, it just comes down to personal preference and Bioderma is the winner for me, but I'd certainly recommend the Vichy version if you happen to come by it. I know this isn't a particularly sexy product, but I also love their 72 Hour Anti-Perspirant Deodorant. I don't know about 72 hours (???) but it's a very effective antiperspirant which is something I find reasonably difficult to come by and unfortunately I can't even seem to find it online to repurchase.

As far as I'm aware the only place to buy Melvita online that ships it to Australia is and the markup on their products is so exorbitant it had put me off buying anything. But at City Pharma I picked up their Rose Milky Cleansing Oil for €15.90 ($22.50) instead of $39.00 and their Damask Rose Floral Water for €7.90 ($11.20) instead of $32.00 and they're both lovely and well worth buying if you find yourself in the paradise that is City Pharma. They both have a sweet, lightly powdery rose scent, though the oil has more of a rosehip fragrance which is a bit love it or hate it, and I've had a bad experience with rosehip oil in the past so fingers crossed this doesn't break me out, but I really enjoy both products and would love to see the brand more widely available.

I've mentioned it several times before, but you can't beat perfection. The Nuxe Reve de Miel lip balm is my favourite lip balm in the world, in fact I finally finished up my first pot (tbh maybe the first lip balm I have ever finished) and am now working away at my second. If you spot this on sale in Priceline you should absolutely pick it up, though it's worth paying full price for too. I also love their Huile Prodiguese dry oil for putting on the ends of my hair and moisturising my legs. It comes in a convenient spray bottle and it's really luxurious and effective - perfect for the cold winter months ahead (ugh.)

Since I'm a long way off trying everything, I thought I'd also include a few products/brands that I hear a lot about and that are on my mental list to check out next time I'm in Paris (wishful thinking here.) I can't actually recommend these products but I'm certainly curious about them - Lotion P50 from Biologique Recherche which is meant to be the mother of all acid toners, Bioderma Sensibio Eau Dermatologique which is their equivalent of LRP's Serozinc, Vichy's Aqualia Thermal Dynamic Hydration Serum and Kloraine's dry shampoo and their regular shampoos & conditioners - if you've tried any of their haircare do let me know what you thought of it!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Beauty To Go

Having travelled a fair bit in my time I thought I'd share some of my favourite travel-friendly beauty products and the reasons I chose them. Whether you're going away for a weekend or several months, you're going to have to cart everything around with you and it gets very heavy and tiring after a while, so here are some tips that might make life a little easier.

For foundation I really recommend buying something in a squeezy tube. That's not the reason I bought Estee Lauder's Double Wear Light but now that I have it, it's my first choice when travelling because almost all of my other bases are in glass bottles which area lot heavier and have the potential to break in your suitcase. It's also a nice, long-wearing light/medium coverage base which is my preference and which comes in handy if you're going to be out all day and night exploring your new surroundings.

For blush I've chosen the Max Factor Miracle Touch Creamy Blush (sadly only available in the UK/EU) and the Bourjois Cream Blush in Rose Tender because they're both housed in light-weight plastic packaging and they're also super tiny and will take up almost no space in your makeup bag. The Bourjois option is a cream to powder formula but the Max Factor has a dewy/cream finish, which means it can easily double up as a lip product as well. I never really interchange my lip/cheek products because I like my lips to be red and my cheeks to be, y'know, not red, but you can certainly do it.

When it comes to eyes, cream shadow sticks are a good option, and these mini Laura Mercier Caviar Sticks are some of my favourites. You can draw them straight on and blend them out with your fingers - no brushes required. Or you can use them as a base under powder shadows, like this incredible Smashbox Full Exposure Travel Palette which is what gave me the idea for this post. It's the size of a credit card and only a few millimetres thick and it contains four matte & four shimmer shades - I can't really imagine anything more convenient or adorable.

I know for a fact that my skin looks horrible after I fly, so if you're going away for a weekend taking a hydrating sheet mask with you is a good idea. You don't have to pack any extra bottles or tubes, you can just use it once on the night you arrive and then throw it out. Sheet masks aren't huge in Australia - this one is from The Face Shop (sent to me by the lovely and super sweet Jennifer) but if you're curious about Korean beauty and you don't have a The Face Shop near you, there are plenty of places to pick them up online, or Indeed Labs offer Hydraluron Sheet Masks which are quite a bit more expensive, but they're easy to get your hands on at Priceline.

If you're a nervous flyer or find it difficult to get to sleep an unfamiliar bed, the This Works Can't Sleep Duo would be great for you. I'm neither of those things but I love the lavender & chamomile scent and although they're definitely luxury items since they're completely unnecessary, they sure are nice to have around.

No one wants to lug around heavy glass perfume bottles when they're travelling (unless they've bought something new at duty free of course) so buying these $1 glass bottles from eBay and decanting your perfumes is probably the best idea in this post. You just have to buy little plastic funnels (use a new one for each scent) and you can spray your perfume into the vial through the funnel and take away as many fragrances as you like. And whether or not you're travelling they're great for keeping in your handbag so you can touch up throughout the day.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

In My Secret Life: 2

Amelie Dress*, Bandana Bertie Jumper* and French Market Cream Scarf* C/- Joules | Shoes: ASOS (similar) | Belt: Alannah Hill (old)

You'd be forgiven for thinking that Joules might be a French brand given the abundance of Breton striped garments on their website, but they are actually English, and aside from Breton stripes they also have beautiful silk scarves, pretty dresses and jumpers with cute animals on them in abundance. Is is really uncool to colour co-ordinate with the dog on your jumper? Yeah probably, but don't tell me how to live my life. Clearly I'm a rebel without a cause.

I thought I'd do another one of those general life updates even though my life is pretty much just going to work, going to gigs and hanging with friends. Oh, and eating and online shopping of course - my two greatest talents. So much so that I can combine them and buy some of the food I enjoyed in New York from Not just good for Real Techniques brushes, you can also buy cinnamon bunny grahams, cinnamon raisin swirl peanut butter(!!), delicious yogi tea and chai and jasmine flavoured chocolate, because we all know the best kinds of food taste like cinnamon or flowers.

Other things of interest include:
- this blog post from Tenneil about why blogging is awesome
- this incredible article about Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly
- this video of Drake signing about ice cream and candy. IF ONLY HE WERE SINGING TO ME! :(

Now um, usually I don't do this but uh, I'm gonna go ahead and break you off with a lil rundown of what I've been listening to lately (please tell me someone gets my reference). There's a bunch of music I wanted to talk about this month so I thought it'd be easiest for me to create a little playlist like Tenneil always does, even though it doesn't flow and covers about five different genres, but hey, that's my vibe.

I got super into Jeff Buckley's Be Your Husband about a year ago and have only just realised it's actually a cover of an incredible Nina Simone song and that her version is even better. I've been a fan of Hank Williams for several years but have only just become hooked on Ramblin' Man after a friend played it on guitar while hanging out on his balcony one night. And I seem to be collecting versions of I'll Take Care of You. Gil Scott-Heron, Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX and of course baby boy Drizzy & Rihanna and now Van Morrison whose covers of that and Dylan's It's All Over Now, Baby Blue are just beautiful. I've not paid much attention to him in the past but I will from now on.

For some original songs now, The National released a new one and as we all know they are flawless and can do no wrong. I have been obsessing over Kendrick's new album and I honestly can't remember the last time an album so rich/potent/moving/socially and politically significant was released. That album is so much more than just music. And finally, I've been dipping my toes in the pool of southern hip hop with a bunch of Outkast who I have been enjoying more and more since seeing them live last year. Hope you like at least one or more of these songs, haha.

1. Be My Husband - Nina Simone
2. Be Your Husband - Jeff Buckley
3. Ramblin' Man - Hank Williams
4. I'll Take Care of You - Van Morrison
5. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Van Morrison
6. Sunshine On My Back - The National
7. King Kunta - Kendrick Lamar
8. Ain't No Thang - OutKast