Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Let's Go Away For A While

sagrada familia

the duomo

notre dame

la sagrada familia in barcelona | duomo in milan | notre dame cathedral in paris | somewhere in munich

i have to apologise to anyone who has started following my little blog recently expecting to see lots of beauty posts because for the foreseeable future this blog may not be what you signed up for. i've had to keep this under wraps as i'm leaving my job to do it and the internet is a public place and i wanted be professional and respectful towards my boss, but now that my whole office knows i can talk about it online as well. on may 23rd (one month.. ahh!) i'm leaving sydney and i won't be back until mid-october. i'm travelling across three continents in five months and for four of those months i'll be alone. this is my schedule:

  • cairo & various cities, egypt - 1 week
  • istanbul, turkey - 4 days
  • driving through italy from rome to venice - 10 days
  • mediterranean cruise departing from vence and stopping in bari (italy), katakolon (greece), izmir & instanbul (turkey), dubrovnik (croatia) - 1 week total 
  • island of brac on the dalmatian coast, croatia - 1 week
  • milan, italy - 2 days
  • geneva, switzerland - 2 days
  • paris, france - 3 weeks
  • london, england - 10 days
  • reykjavik, iceland - 1 week
  • boston, massachusetts USA - 4 days
  • new york, USA - 1 month
  • orlando, florida USA - 4 days
  • LA and san francisco, USA - i haven't booked my transfers yet but i have about 3 weeks to spend in the two cities and i plan to mostly be in San Fran

now if the itinerary looks a little unbalanced that's because i'm spending a month tagging along with my parents on their holiday, which is from istanbul through to milan. i'm flying out early for a week long tour of egypt on my own and then meeting my parents in istanbul and living a life of luxury (comparatively) before they head home from milan at the end of june and i start travelling in the fashion i'm more accustomed to, i.e. hostel dorm rooms and with people from airbnb.

in 2010 i went to europe with one of my best friends which is where these photos are from (check out my flickr that i haven't updated in a million years if you want to see more) and we covered twelve countries in two months. while i enjoyed every second of it and it's an incredible way to travel and fit in as much as possible, this time around i wanted to relax a bit more and just enjoy a city or country without feeling like i have to cram every sight and attraction into a couple of days. half of the places i'm visiting on this trip i've been to before, but this time around i'm spending a greater amount of time in the places that i've loved the most, and throwing in a whole lot of new ones for good measure.

if you have any tips or recommendations for places to eat, venues or bands to check out, places to shop (especially if it's vintage or op-shops/charity/thrift stores or record shops), sights you think are worth it, if you did a really cool walking tour or basically anything at all, i would love to hear it! so far i just have my transport and accommodation booked because i don't want to turn up in a city on my own with all my luggage and not have anywhere to leave it and lay my head down at night, but i've left everything else open. and of course, if you live in any of these cities and don't mind grabbing a coffee or a meal with me or showing me around for an afternoon that would be amazing! i would love to meet anyone who has the time to meet me! just leave me a comment or shoot me an email (jessbialkowski@gmail.com) and i can let you know what dates i'm around. :)

one of my favourite parts of this whole trip is that i'm leaving before the first day of winter and i get back long after it's over - something i've dreamed of doing for so long. 2014 is my year of the eternal summer.

grote markt

the queen's hamlet



stockholm library

grote markt in brussels | the queens hamlet in versailles | galerie des glaces in versailles | the queen's chamber in versailles | 
stockholm public library | the ceiling of a church somewhere in italy

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sunday Skincare Saviours

i usually find after a long week of work and late nights out by the time sunday rolls around my skin could use a little TLC. and more to the point sunday is usually when i can find the time and energy to have a 3 mask session, and my skin always thanks me for it. so i tend to skip my evening skincare routine for what is essentially an amped up version of the cleanse, exfoliate and hydrate process, and these are three of my favourite options.

REN invisible pores detox mask (about $35.00 AUD for 50ml or $40.00 in store at mecca)
this is a really lovely clarifying mask, it's very gentle on the skin but it definitely does the job and clears out your pores without feeling too harsh or drying. it's formulated with french clay and lavender and while it does dry quite stiffly on the face, when you wash it off it doesn't leave your face feeling tight and sahara-level dry like some clay masks do. nor do you have to scrub your face to remove it, it washes off easily with a hot cloth and a little water. this is one of my favourite options when my skin is looking a little worse for wear and needs a good pick-me-up.

alpha-h liquid gold smoothing and perfecting mask ($63.00 AUD for 100ml but currently on sale for $53.55)
if you hadn't noticed, i'm a huge fan of alpha-h so this mask was bound to make its way into my hands. it's a fast acting brightening and exfoliating mask with 15% glycolic acid (it's the second ingredient listed on the tube) and it won 'best radiance mask' in the harper's bazaar 2012 beauty awards and 'best skin brightener' in 2013. i experience a slight tingling when i first apply the mask, and it does say to only leave it on for a maximum of 10 minutes. my skin is pretty used to glycolic acid by now as i use an acidic toner morning and night, but at this strength it's best to start out by leaving in on your face for about 5 minutes. i've left it on for 8-10 and experienced some redness for a few hours after, so this is one to be a bit more careful with. but it basically eats away all your dead skin cells and any gunk the clay mask has just helped bring to the surface and leaves you with a brighter, smoother and clearer complexion, which is everything i ask for from a sunday skincare session.

the final step after clearing out my skin is to add some moisture back in, and for that i've been loving this peachy-mango scented mask from origins. my skin can get congested when i over hydrate so i decided on the 10 minute mask over the 'drink up intensive overnight mask' which i assume is just a stronger version of this one. in any case, i would use them in the same way i use any hydrating mask which is to apply it to my face, neck and d├ęcolletage and let it all soak in, leaving my skin feeling super soft and nourished.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Quarterly Favourites

first up i have to apologise for disappearing from the blogging world. sometimes real life gets so busy and once you've fallen behind it feels pretty daunting trying to get back on top of blogging again. luckily most of what's kept me busy has been good - my brother's wedding and all associated family activities, between 2 and 5 gigs every week, and some HUGE plans that i can't really talk about yet. so thank you to everyone who has stuck with my little blog, and to everyone who has subscribed even during this quiet time, welcome! :) i've decided to get back into things by talking about some products i've been loving this year. a lot of bloggers post their monthly favourites but since it's a little late for that i thought i'd do my favourites from the first quarter of the year (scary!) because everyone likes a good product recommendation or 13, right?

sleek blush by 3 palette in californ-i-a ($14.99 US) i've talked about my love for sleek blushes before so when is saw they'd launched two new blush palettes (the orange-y coral californ-i-a and rosey pink lemonade) i ordered them both straight away. a lot of sleek's shades can be too deep for my super pale skin but these two palettes are perfect for fair-skinned girls. californ-i-a has all cream blushes, while pink lemonade has two powder and one cream. both their cream and powder formulas are really high quality, strongly pigmented and easy to work with. and the shades in these two new palettes are so wearable and slightly more muted than their usual bright offerings - if you're thinking about trying something from sleek these palettes won't disappoint!

physician's formula mineral colour correcting powder in translucent ($13.39 US) another product that's great for fair skinned girls. i can get quite shiny in my t-zone throughout the day so i always have some powder on hand to top up, especially as i go out after work several nights a week. i do like the powder i keep in my bag to have a bit of coverage for that reason, but i've found a lot of powders can make me look a bit on the orange side, so here's where this comes in. i think if you have a darker skin tone or if you prefer to look tanned then you might find this leaves a white cast on your skin, but since i have no fear of that, this suits me perfectly. it's colour correcting and i really can notice it blurring imperfections on the skin. definitely check if out if you're after after a powder that adds coverage but not colour.

NARS radiant creamy concealer in vanilla ($35.00 AU) this has got to be one of the most hyped up products around but after using it i can see why! better than any other concealer i own, it's super high coverage but doesn't cake up and it's perfect on blemishes and under the eyes. and another thing i think is great, it retails for $35 from Mecca Cosmetica in Australia and $29 US in the states, so there actually isn't a huge markup on these.

lime crime velveteen matte lipstick in red velvet ($20.00 US) now this is how to do a matte liquid lipstick! not only is the shade and packaging lovely, but the formula is too. it's super long-wearing, but it also fades really cleanly so if you eat while wearing this it'll disappear completely from the middle of your lips but still stay near-perfect on the outside. so when you top up you only have to add product to wherever it's faded rather than build up product all over your lips, which i find makes them dry out. 

real techniques base shadow brush ($18.00 US for a set of 5 brushes) i never hear a bad word about real techniques brushes, and it's for a reason. they're affordable, versatile and great quality. i picked up their base shadow brush as part of their eye brush set, and i love it for applying a cream base to my eyelids. i used to use my fingers but since i have long nails it's hard for me to get a neat application without poking myself in the eye, so this brush works really well for me.

bourjois colour boost lipstick in red island ($11.88 AU) of all the brands releasing lip crayons, i think these bourjois ones might be my favourite formula. they're super creamy and comfortable on the lips, all the shades are lovely and once you've put on your first application, they're the kind of product you can touch up without really needing a mirror. i also find that that these stain the lips so when they fade it's not a total mess which is always a plus. when these were launched last year they brought out four shades and now they've added two more including this deep red, so naturally i had to add it to my collection as soon as i saw it.

rimmel apocalips lip lacquer in across the universe ($12.85 AU) like the bourjois lip crayons, this is a new shade in the expanded line of apocalips lip lacquers. i love the formula of these, they're super pigmented, glossy without being sticky, and they last forever on the lips. this is a beautiful deep red shade that the line was missing and i've been loving it ever since i bought it.

topshop glow highlighter in polish (£9.00 / $18.00 AU) now i've been pretty faithful to my mary lou-manizer since i bought it but i wanted to try out a cream highlighter and this one has received its fair share of hype. i just dab a bit of it on my cheekbones, down my nose and on my cupids bow and it adds a really pretty subtle glow to the skin, the only downside is that it's in a pot, which can make it difficult to get product out with long nails.

rimmel lash accelerator mascara in black ($14.99 AU) this is a mascara i wasn't really all that impressed with when i first used it, but after trying a few others and coming back to it i've decided i love it. the formula contains micro-fibres so it really lengthens your lashes and makes them super black and the bristles on the wand are quite spaced out so it doesn't clump your eyelashes together, which is something i really don't like about other mascaras i've tried.

australis pout paste in love bites ($12.95 AU) and for my fourth and final red lip product (oops) this is a highly pigmented, non-sticky gloss in a really bright juicy red shade. it's actually the only shade i like from the line but it's worth checking out if you're in australia and can get your hands on it.

antipodes grace gentle cream cleanser ($47.50 AU) i know this is an expensive cleanser, i actually picked it up in the post-christmas sales with the antipodes hydrating toner and moisturiser for less than the price of the cleanser on its own, but it really is one of the nicest cleansers in my collection. the formula is so rich and creamy (duh) and it gently removes any makeup that might be leftover after my balm cleanse at night. if you want to splurge on a nice, organic cleanser with no parabens, sulfates, etc this is a great option.

origins clear improvements active charcoal mask ($34.00 AU) i've loved this mask for a while now, but recently i've started using it as an overnight spot treatment on blemishes and although it doesn't magically make them disappear, it definitely shrinks them down and helps to absorb all the gunk that's hiding below the surface. and of course it's great as a clarifying all-over face mask too.

alpha-h vital c serum ($89.70 AU) i had a facial at the start of march before my brother's wedding and while talking skincare with the facialist she said i should try a vitamin c serum to help fade acne scarring and pigmentation. i already had this guy in my stash (adorebeauty offered a choice of serums free with purchases over $100.00 a while back) but i hadn't been using it consistently enough to see results, so i decided to include it in my morning routine everyday and i've definitely noticed a difference. scars that i've had for a while have finally all but disappeared, and while some newer ones are still hanging around i'm trusting this to get rid of them more quickly.

do you have any stand-out products of the year so far?