December 31, 2013

Beauty Favorites: 2013

For the last post of the year, today I want to share my top 10 beauty products for 2013! For products that I have previously wrote about, please refer to the original posts for detailed reviews. For products that have not previously been in the spotlight, I will comment briefly on what makes it such a wonderful product. Let's get started!

December 28, 2013

Review: Milani HD Advanced Lip Colors x 8

I have been using these Milani HD Advanced Lip Colors for months and months and today I want to share a brief review while this discontinued line is still available through online retailers.

December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays to all! Every time I travel to a new city, Christmas tree decorations are must-buys for me. Even though I only started this tradition a year ago, my small collection has grown beyond the capacity of the tiny 2' tree I have this year!

The selection included in the above photo involves a snowflake from the London M&M World, a sleigh filled with London Big Ben, an orb depicting the Paris Arc de Triomphe, and a windmill of Amsterdam.

I look forward to adding more ornaments to my collection and move on to bigger trees in the coming years!

What are your favorite holiday decorations?

December 23, 2013

Review: KIKO Kiss Balms x 2 (Blackberry & Tutti Frutti)

This is my first post featuring products from the Italian makeup brand KIKO and today I want to share my brief thoughts on the two shades of KIKO Kiss Balms that I own. I will start with the shade that I have been wearing a lot in the past month, 06 Blackberry.

December 20, 2013

Review: Clinique All About Shadow 8-Pan Palette (Neutral Territory 2)

I picked up this Clinique All About Shadow 8-Pan Palette in Neutral Territory 2 during the Sephora $20 off $50 purchase [Read Here]. After playing with it for the past week, I want to share my thoughts today. Although I would be more comfortable with writing a review after extensive use, I want to provide a reference as this palette is a limited edition product.

December 17, 2013

Review: Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm

When I read that the effectiveness of the Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm was tested under the extreme Canadian cold, I was more than intrigued. As a Canadian girl who has endured many winters in the country, I vouch for the terrible things that would happen to my lips every winter. I finally picked it up while I was in Paris in early November, and today I want to share my thoughts on this amazing lip balm!

December 14, 2013

December 11, 2013

Day 2 in Brussels and a Trip to Bruges

My second day in Brussels started with breakfast at the hotel and a taxi ride to the Atomium. This monument with spheres in the sky was the host of the 1958 expo. Today I want to share my second day in Brussels (Read about Day 1 of my trip Here).

December 8, 2013

Day 1 in Brussels: Grand Place, Mont des Arts, and Parlamentarium

During the last few days of October, I set off early one morning to catch the Eurostar to Brussels from London St. Pancras. Today I want to share the first day I spent in Brussels that started my trip through Belgium to Amsterdam before ending in Paris.

December 5, 2013

Review: Bourjois Liner Feutre (Ultra Black)

Despite already having a liquid eyeliner favorite in the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner [Review Here and Here], I am always on the lookout for a less expansive alternative. I picked up this Bourjois Liner Feutre in Ultra Black over the summer and today I want to share my thoughts.

December 2, 2013

DIY: CD Jewel Case (Depotted) Makeup Palette

The only time I depot my make-up is when I want to separate pan-based products that are lumped together with pencils, glosses, and etc. in gift sets. As for single eyeshadows or mini palettes, I usually prefer to keep them in the original packaging.

Today I want to share how I depot and store eyeshadow pans in a non-magnetic DIY makeup palette made from a CD jewel case. I will be using three eyeshadows from the Soap & Glory Crazy Sexy Kohl Gift Set [Review Here] for visual illustration.

The standard jewel case should be able to hold most eyeshadows.

Here is a side view of the finished palette to show how the pans fit snugly without touching the case surface.

December 1, 2013

Review: Soap & Glory Crazy Sexy Kohl Gift Set

I feel that stores start their holiday promotions earlier and earlier every year. Today I want to share my thoughts on this Soap & Glory Crazy Sexy Kohl Gift Set that I have had for over a month and half now.

November 30, 2013

Empties: November 2013

It is the last day of the month, so it is time for another empties post! Today I want to share my updated impression on the below products and whether I would repurchase.

November 27, 2013

The Perfect Palette TAG

As soon as I saw Allison's (Amarixe) tag video on The Perfect Palette [Watch Here], I knew this would be the perfect topic to write my first ever tag post. My oldest make-up memory dates back to three Caboodles eyeshadow singles and even though the cosmetic brand disappeared over the many years since, eyeshadows always have a special place in my heart.

November 24, 2013

Review: Stila Holiday Essentials Kit

I recently picked up this Stila Holiday Essentials Kit because my love for the included Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner guaranteed that at least one of the three products would work for me. Today I want to share my thoughts on the two other products and why I think this set is a great buy.

November 21, 2013

Mamma Mia! and Afternoon Tea with LOVEtheatre

Around this time last month, I had the opportunity to see Mamma Mia! in Novello Theatre in London's West End and today I want to share the experience.

I decided to book through LOVEtheatre on my friend CL's recommendation (who purchased our Singin' in the Rain tickets). Somehow, it was less expansive to purchase the £68 package deal (including a complimentary afternoon tea at the Kingsway Hall Hotel) than just buying tickets to the show. Even more surprisingly, the stall seats (N row) included in the package were identical to the allocated seats for just booking the musical!

As I reserved the afternoon tea for the same day as the musical, I needed to pick up the tickets in advance at the LOVEtheatre office (I could have paid postage and had the tickets mailed to me, but oh well). Thus early morning, I stopped by the office in Covent Garden with my booking confirmation to pick up the tickets.

November 20, 2013

Review: Maybelline Great Lash vs. Great Lash Lots of Lashes Mascara

It has been many years since my last encounter with Maybelline Great Lash Washable Mascara. While I did not recall any WOW moments, a vaguely positive impression swayed me to pick up both the original Great Lash and the Great Lash Lots of Lashes Washable Mascara when I came across a 50%-off offer. These two mascaras have the same formula and differ only in the shape of the brush. Today I want to share my renewed acquaintance with Great Lash and how much difference the wand makes in my mascara experience.

November 17, 2013

Review: Wet n Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow Trio (Silent Treatment)

Given how affordable Wet n Wild is as a drugstore brand, I have no idea why I have not tried any products from the brand until this Color Icon Eyeshadow Trio in Silent Treatment. Today I want to share my thoughts on this beautiful neutral palette.

November 14, 2013

Jo Malone Red Roses + White Jasmine & Mint

Today I want to share my thoughts on two Jo Malone fragrances in Red Roses and White Jasmine & Mint that I recently picked up.

The only reason why I bought Red Roses was to layer under my existing bottle of Nectarine Blossom & Honey [Review Here]. It is a combination that I have tested out over and over in-stores and I absolutely adore it. I find Red Roses on its own starts a bit too sharp for my taste, but as a scent foundation, it neutralizes the fruity sweetness of NB&H, resulting in a light floral scent. It is my current absolute favorite fragrance combination.

While Red Roses was a well-planned purchase, White Jasmine & Mint was much more spontaneous. I went shopping with my friend CW at Selfridges and I sprayed a bit of the WJ&M on my wrist at the Jo Malone counter. After wearing it for a day (and with my friend's blessings on the fragrance and my body chemistry), I bought it the next time I was in Selfridges. As with Jo Malone scents, this one is nothing like anything I have ever smelled. The mint makes the soft floral appear more fresh and energetic. Unexpectedly, there is also a strong presence of citrus in the scent that dominates both the jasmine and the mint. I like it so far, but only time will tell whether this fragrance will make it into my favorites.

I currently own three Jo Malone fragrances and I hope to add more to my collection. I love the uniqueness of the scents and the bottle design is simply timeless. I can spritz these in the morning and I would still be able to smell them at the end of the day. These 30mL retails for £38 each.

Which is your favorite fragrance combination?

November 11, 2013

Review: Almay Intense I-Color Shadow Sticks x 2

I picked up these Almay Intense I-Color Shadow Sticks in Brown-Eyes and Hazel-Eyes about a month ago and today I want to share my disappointment regarding the product performance.

November 9, 2013

Deal Alert: Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil for $5

I love great deals on beauty products, and today I am sharing an outstanding one that is currently available in Sephora. The Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil (15mL) (which usually retails for $14 USD on its own) is part of a giftcard box for only $5 USD! Combined with the VIB discount until November 11th (online code: VIPTOPIA), it only cost $4 USD!

I found mine in a Sephora inside JC Penney, but it does not state on the box whether it is a JC-exclusive. I believe it is available in-stores only.

I have not previously tried this argan oil, and this is a great opportunity to stock up if you are already a fan or a first-time buyer like myself. Add in a giftcard and it makes a fantastic gift as well.

What are some great beauty deals you have found recently?

November 8, 2013

Travel Haul!

Earlier this week, I returned from a 10 days trip from London --> Brussels --> Amsterdam --> Paris. As I wanted to travel light, I didn't bring my laptop on this journey. Unfortunately I got caught in a downpour on my first day in Paris and have not been feeling well since. Luckily I am well on my recovery and today I want to start off my travel posts with some shopping goodies.

Let's start backwards with Paris where I went a little overboard in the French pharmacies.

October 19, 2013

Empties: October 2013

As I am returning to the UK this weekend, today I want to share my final thoughts on the products that I finished this month while visiting the US.

October 16, 2013

US Beauty Haul!

I am flying back to the UK in a few days and that means my shopping in the US have also come to an end. As I have previously shared my two Sephora orders from this trip [Read Here and Here], today I want to share the rest of the beauty products that I picked up in the few weeks that I spent on the US east coast.

October 12, 2013

Weekend in Montreal: Food Edition

Turn back the time two weeks and I could be found wandering the streets of Montreal. It was so wonderful to spend a couple of days in one of my top 3 cities and today I want to share my trip experience. If you have ever read one of my travel posts, you would know that I usually document my days through food and drinks. Let's get started with this Montreal travel edition.

I arrived the city almost two hours behind schedule and somehow still managed to process my paperwork, check into my hotel, and then make a coffee break with a friend that I had scheduled following my original itinerary.

I stayed at the Best Western Ville Marie in downtown Montreal. Although dimly-lit with air-conditioning on the strong side, I love how the room was decorated with Monet prints. The bathroom door is a mix of solid and frosted strips, so if you stay with an acquaintance, I imagine it may be a slightly awkward experience. This is my second stay at this hotel and I found it pleasant overall, although I wish they would provide liquid handsoap instead of bar soaps.

October 8, 2013

NOTD: Essie Sleek Stick (A to Zebra)

I received this Essie Sleek Stick in A to Zebra as part of my July Glossybox. Although not in a pattern that I would have picked out myself, I was very curious regarding how well these strips would work on the nails. Today I want to share my thoughts on the experience.

This kit comes with 18 nail strips and a nail file along with the instructions. I spent 30 minutes working on both hands and the result was still not satisfying. While it was easy to match the nails with similarly-sized strips, the product refused to stay flat on my nails. I found it difficult to shape the strips since they were limited in malleability. I ended up trimming off the excess with nail scissors instead of filling it down as suggested.

Few of the strips did not make it past an hour before starting to peel. I think this is partially attributed to the lack of a top coat. As the pattern involved contrasting finishes, I could not apply a top coat without ruining the texture.

The easy removal seems to be the only positive aspect. I only needed to tug at the strips until the entire thing peeled off in one piece. I got rid of mine within a day and my nails were completely clean. I do imagine longer wear of these strips would result in some sticky residues on the nails once removed.

Perhaps my nails are oddly curved or perhaps I just had bad luck regarding the application. In any case, I do not believe these nail strips are worth the £9.99 price tag.

Have you tried any recommendation-worthy nail strips?

October 4, 2013

Review: ELF Mascara & Shadow Shield

I picked up this ELF Mascara & Shadow Shield around a month back in hopes of alleviating the fallout problem for my beloved glitter eyeshadows. With its lack of harsh edges and a supposedly ergonomic design, I had high hopes of replacing business cards in my makeup routine. Today I want to share my final thoughts on this little tool.

First of all, the silicone disk is flimsy and difficult to control. I find it difficult to keep the shield directly against my skin, which implies that the roots of my upper lashes often miss out on swipes of mascara. I never had much trouble with mascara smearing anyways, so I kept my fingers crossed that the shield would perform better against eyeshadow fallouts.

However, I was once again disappointed in this tool. This shield does not contour the curvature of my eyes. Although from the packaging, it looks like it was never intended to fit perfectly. While the silicone material does attract fallout, the reversible design backfires. When I flip the shield over for the other eye, the fallout-infested side would be directly against my skin, resulting in some fallouts transferring to my face. Giving the shield a good wipe in between does alleviate the problem somewhat, but I find it too much of a hassle to pause and clean a tool in the middle of makeup application.

I gave up on this tool after a couple of trials. It does not deliver results much different from when I hold a tissue or a business card around my eyes. Luckily, I did find an alternative use for it in cleaning my makeup brushes. Instead of swirling the brushes in my palm under running water, I can move the brushes gently around the surface of this shield to remove the pigments. My brushes end up as clean as usual and I can postpone getting my hands wet until I have to reshape the brushes.

I would definitely recommend a pass on this $3 shield unless you are with me on the brush-cleaning idea.

What are your tips for handling fallout?

October 1, 2013

Review: Soap & Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Sticks x 3

I debated about purchasing these Soap & Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Sticks for months before picking it up in three shades. I initially resisted the purchase because I found the product name to be quite rude. I gave in to my curiosity when these gloss sticks went on sale for £5 in mid-August.

September 24, 2013

NOTD: OPI Need Sunglasses?

I have always stayed clear of yellow nail polishes since I assumed that the shade would be unflattering against my yellow skintone. About a year and half ago, one of my friends gifted me with a dozen OPI nail polishes, including Need Sunglasses?. I didn't give it a chance until I pulled it out this month. Today I want to share my impression on this wonderful yellow nail polish.

The actual color is more of a mustard-yellow than the neon that the photos capture. This nail polish works surprisingly well as a transition color between summer and fall, especially against what remains of my summer tan. It is different from the traditional fall shades, but it still complements the darker clothing that I have started to wear.

As usual for bright colors, the formula is not very pigmented. I would definitely recommend a white base. I applied one layer of China Glaze White on White, two layers of the color, and finally topped with Color Club 0-60 Speedy Top Coat (which is one of the shiniest top coat that I have ever used). The wear time is average with tip wear after roughly 3 days.

Do you have a favorite yellow nail polish?

September 21, 2013

DIY: Ring Tray

Rings have always been my favorite jewelry pieces to wear. I have bought (and tossed out) many rings over the years and I usually keep them individually sealed in plastic bags to prevent tarnish. As my collection grew, I began to neglect and forget about the older pieces that I have acquired years ago. I haven't come across an affordable ring tray that fits my needs, so I decided to make my own until I find the perfect one. This ring tray is intended to store my current fashion jewelry selections, I keep the finer pieces in their original packaging.

I only used scrap materials from past projects to make this ring tray. If you are interested in some references for a similar project, do keep reading.

September 17, 2013

Outlet Shopping with PinkStyle

There are quite a few outlets within a couple hours drive from where I am staying on the east coast. While I have been recommended to check out the ones in Merrimack (New Hampshire) or Wrentham (Massachusetts), I drove out to a smaller one in Tilton, New Hampshire last week.

Affordable deals in outlets are nothing new, and today I want to share the PinkStyle fundraiser that started on September 12th.

For a $5 donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, you will receive a booklet of five coupons that are each redeemable against 25% off one item at participating outlet stores (including Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Coach, J. Crew, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Yankee Candle, and much more). Although the limit is one coupon per customer per store per day, these vouchers can be applied to sale items!

These shopping passes are valid until October 25th and are available at Tanger Outlet locations in the United States and Canada. Participation does not require registration, so one booklet can be shared among friends. If you got a Tanger outlet near you, this is a great opportunity to help a good cause while saving money.

Despite braving a thunderstorm during my commute, I am pleased with my shopping trip. There were times when the visibility was so bad that I feared for my safety on the highway. In retrospect, the storm-induced power outage the night before should have been a sufficient warning.

To conclude, I have a general word of caution regarding outlet shopping. The same brand name does not imply the same quality. Some of the merchandises are made specifically for the outlet stores. As these selections are intended to be sold at lower prices, they are often of inferior quality or design. For example, at the Gap (and at Banana Republic under the same umbrella group), outlet-directed merchandise are marked with 3 squares under the logo. So shop wisely!

What are your favorite places to shop?

September 14, 2013

Vacation around the UK: Harry Potter Edition

Are you a Harry Potter fan? If so, read on. If not, well, read on anyways. When I took a two-week vacation to travel around the UK last month, I stopped by several attractions around the Harry Potter theme. Today I want to share them together.

Since I departed my vacation from London King's Cross, let's start with the Platform 9 3/4. There is also a gift shop located next door with the same name. Unless you are in the station in the early morning or late evening, do expect a long line if you want to take a photo with the trolley.

September 11, 2013

In the Mail: Another Sephora Haul, Swatches, and First Impressions

I am currently visiting family on the US east coast and I couldn't resist making another Sephora order only weeks after my previous one. I am super excited about the two Urban Decay palettes that I picked up on sale. Today I want to share my order, swatches of the palettes, and my first impressions on what I picked up.

September 8, 2013

NOTD: Sally Hansen Salon Effects (Skinny Jeans)

I picked up this Sally Hansen Salon Effects in Skinny Jeans along with the one in Cry Baby [NOTD Here] when they were on sale for only $2. While I used up Cry Baby months ago, I forgot about this pattern until I rediscovered it while packing up for my move. Today I want to share my second attempt at using nail polish strips.

Luckily the pattern was quite forgiving at hiding the wrinkles from my application. The edges took some work to smooth over, and with a layer of top coat, the final result looked even and glossy. I absolutely adore the vintage look of this pattern.

The wear time was not much different from that of a regular polish. I got tip-wear after 2 days, but no major chipping until about a week later. While I wouldn't pay full price for it, if I chance upon a sale, I may stock up on a few more of these nail polish strips.

Have you tried any nail polish strips from Sally Hansen?

September 5, 2013

Review: Bourjois Intuitive Liner (02 Noir)

I have been eyeing the Bourjois Intuitive Liner for months before I finally picked it up. After two months of trying it out, today I want to share my thoughts.

September 1, 2013

In the Mail: Sephora Haul!

Today I want to share what came in the mail from the Sephora order I placed during the recent points promotion (2x for IB, 3x for VIB, 4x for VIB Rouge).

August 29, 2013

Empties: August 2013

I finished a lot of travel-size items in August as I took some time off for vacation. What I lack in mL counts will be compensated by the greater quantities of finished products. Let's get started.

August 28, 2013

Review: L'Oreal Skin Perfection 3 in 1 Purifying Micellar Solution

I have been using this L'Oreal Skin Perfection 3 in 1 Purifying Micellar Solution for the past two weeks and today I want to share my thoughts.
The packaging pours out too much solution, so I suggest holding the cotton pad directly against the bottle to better control the amount of solution dispensed.

Let's see how the product lives up to the brand's claims:
  • Dissolves make-up? Check. It gets the job done, but I need a separate make-up remover for waterproof eye make-up.
  • Unclogs pores and removes impurities? Check. My skin looks and feels clean.
  • Tones and soothes skin? Check. Not the slightest irritation.
This micellar solution is hypo-allergenic, is suitable for sensitive skin, and does not contain alcohol nor perfume. It is also dermatologically-tested and ophthalmologically-tested.

I remain undecided whether this product is as good as the Bioderma Sensibio H2O. However, I can say that the L'Oreal version is a better deal. A 200mL bottle retails for £4.99 (I got mine for only £2.48!), which is only half the cost of the Bioderma. As it is also widely available in the UK, I would definitely repurchase.

Update (October 19, 2013): Updated impressions in my October Empties.
Update (June 29, 2014): Updated impressions in my June Empties.

Have you tried this micellar solution?

August 27, 2013

Review: Seventeen Backlash Eyeliner (Black)

I received this Seventeen Backlash Eyeliner complimentary with my purchase of the recently launched Seventeen Backlash Mascara. After trying it out half a dozen times, today I want to share my thoughts.

This eyeliner set comes with a mini brush, which actually isn't too bad. I really like the look of this eyeliner because there is depth to the black colour. I would get about 2 hours before the eyeliner smudges and this eyeliner flakes when wet. On the bright side, the line stays well-defined for more than 8 hours, despite smudging on the eyelids.

August 26, 2013

Review: No7 Beautiful Skin Eye Make-Up Remover

I picked up this No7 Beautiful Skin Eye Make-Up Remover around a month and half ago. Now that I have used up half of the bottle, today I want to share my thoughts.
First of all, the bottle is clear and the liquid is blue. This remover is gentle and removes the majority of my eye make-up. Although it is oil-based, it doesn't feel overly greasy on the eyes and does not make me break out.

The bottle needs to be shaken to mix the two parts together, but by the time I screw open the bottle and dampen one cotton pad, the solution would separate. I need to keep replacing the cap to shake the bottle over and over again to get through one night's worth of make-up removal. After a couple of uses, I got quite impatient with the constant shaking.

This make-up remover is hypo-allergenic, suitable for all skin types, ophthalmologist-tested, fragrance-free, and suitable for sensitive eyes.

I wouldn't repurchase since the bottle design is not very user-friendly (even if the product is okay). At £8.50 for 100mL, this eye make-up remover is also quite expansive, so if you want to try this, I definitely recommend waiting for a £5 off No7 skincare coupon to float around.
What are your favorite eye make-up removers?

August 25, 2013

Review: Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayon x 4

I first saw these Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayons in the drugstore in early June. However, I waited a month for them to show up at a different drugstore (the one that puts a layer of tape around the cap to prevent people from testing products) before purchasing the 4 available colors. Today I want to share my thoughts on these lip crayons.