DE-STRESS WITH AROMATHERAPY ASSOCIATES.

DSC_0080If you’re a regular blog-reader/big-time-bubble-bather, chances are you’ve heard some talk about Aromatherapy Associates. Their bath and shower oil started making the rounds on the blogosphere around a year ago and hasn’t left since for good reason: it’s bloomin’ fantastic. If the idea of a product that makes your entire house smell like a Parisian spa appeals to you at all, that stuff’s your guy, but I digress. Case in point: you’ve heard of them Associates and their wonderful spa goodies. I was recently lucky enough to test out the brand’s newest launch, the De-Stress Massage and Body Oil*. Here’s how the brand describes the product:

“A soothing massage and body oil, perfect to ease muscular aches and pains, pre and post exercise. This therapeutic blend of arnica and lavender combined with rosemary and ginger will help support healthy circulation and revive tired, overworked muscles whilst nourishing the skin. A must have for any sports enthusiast.”

 Its claims? Anti-inflammatory, helps to heal bruising and nourishing Anti-inflammatory Brings circulation to stiff muscles Warming to muscle and stiff joints, eases muscular aches and pains.” Allow me to come out and say it: I love this stuff. I’ve been testing it out for the past few weeks and it was love at first pump (which sounded much better in my head than it does now, I promise). First off, the scent is to die for; a mix of herbal smellies like Rosemary, it’s lovely and pungent enough to help you wind down at the end of a long day without being offensive. If slathering an oil on before bed doesn’t sound like your particular cup of tea, have no fear, this one’s more of a dry oil in that it sinks in fast and doesn’t leave a tacky finish to the skin. What it does do particularly well besides imparting the skin with a light lullaby fragrance is help to relive muscle aches and pains. Now this is no Tiger Balm, so don’t expect deep penetration (not a good enough excuse to use that word) and pain relief, but along with the scent it does seem to help alleviate minor aches as you massage it into the skin. I’ve also tested popping a pump or two of product into the bath as it fills up, and the results were definitely blog-worthy; lightly scented water and silky hydration after getting out, meaning there was no need for moisturizer on top before bed. Though it’s not cheap by any means at $63 for ___ mL of product, I’d repurchase in a heartbeat. Overall, I’m beginning to think this has sparked a bit of a love affair with Aromatherapy Associates, so wallets everywhere beware; this may just be the beginning of the end for your cash flow.

A KORRES AFFAIR.

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One fine morning a few weeks ago my phone let off a buzz to let me know that Korres had just gone on sale on Hautelook, so naturally I popped over for a look and ended up picking up more than I anticipated. For any avid fans of The Office out there, this kind of thing happens all the time… “It’s just human natural.” Especially for the beauty obsessed. I actually only picked up three separate products; the Butter Me Up Lip and Body Collection that was limited edition for the holidays in 2012 and two of the cheek butters. The set comes with four body butters in the scents Basil Lemon, Apple Blossom, Jasmine, and Guava. The scents are all lovely, and the set itself is a great value for money. I’d definitely recommend getting the Hautelook app and changing your notifications settings so you get an alert when a sale comes on, since I paid $15 for a set that originally sold for $38 which was a great deal. I particularly love the Basil Lemon scent; it’s quite citrus-y and clean (obviously…not obviously… take your pick) and while these are great body butters, they make for better hand creams as they’re not as heavily scented as most body lotions and are quite rich, plus the size makes them handy for traveling. The set isn’t readily available but this wasn’t the first time I’d seen it pop up on Hautelook, so keep your eyes peeled, kids. In the meantime, they do offer some lovely sets that are quite similar which you can find here.

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L-R: Korres Lip Butters in Guava, Jasmine, and Quince; Cheek butters in Eros Coral and Chara Chrimson

The set also included three full-sized lip butters which are normally $12 each, so quite a bit of bang for your buck as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been meaning to pick these up for ages and after having tested the three shades I have (Quince, Guava, and Jasmine), I definitely see more shades in my future. These three aren’t by any means intensely pigmented, but they each have a different scent that I think is meant to correspond to the name, though I must say the Guava shade smells a whole lot like coconut rather than juicy guavas. Guava is a clear shade with a slight bit of milkiness, Jasmine is a sheer nude color, and Quince is a sheer rose shade that looks lovely for a subtle pink lip. Love. Last on the docket we have even more butter in the form of the brand’s cheek butters. I bought the shades Eros Coral (an orange-y rose shade) and Chara Crimson (a deepened berry/rose). They’re both lovely, especially on dry skin, and one of the few cream blushes that I’ve found to work well with my Real Techniques Stippling Brush. I know I’ll probably get some hate on the subject, but as much as I love the way it applies product, the bristles are quite firm and tend to poke little holes into whatever cream product I’m working with (anyone else feel my pain?). Because the product is quite waxy, the brush just glides over it and distributes the perfect amount of product swirled onto the cheeks. The effect is this gorgeous natural flush that looks perfectly dewy on the cheeks. They do look a bit scary in the pan, but they’re on the sheer side of things so no need to worry about going into drag queen territory. Unless that’s the look you’re going for, in which case these can, in fact, be built up to true-to-pan color, depending on your skin tone. All in all? I spy a home run on the Korres front.

ELIZABETH AND JAMES NIRVANA: BLACK+WHITE.

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I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth and James for years now; the line has this very contemporary, edgy-feminine feel to it that always brought me back. On a completely separate note, I adore the Olsen twins. Like I want to be them. Then again, who doesn’t? Probably the Olsen twins on a really bad day, but I digress. The anatomy of the Olsen street style is a subject I am well versed in, and yet how I had no idea that two things (three, counting each twin) I have followed closely over the years were related is putting me in something of an existential crisis. ‘How could I not see this? I should have known… My life is a lie…’ and so on and so forth. Not really, but you get my drift. The Olsen twins had a clothing line. This I knew. That it was specifically E&J? Nope, I did not know that. The fact that it took the launch of a perfume years later for me to realize this is more than a little disturbing. Alas, Mary-Kate and Ashley have me covered. Their two new fragrances, Nirvana White and Nirvana Black, soothe all struggles, I promise. I snapped these two rollerballs up in Sephora a few months ago, and I can definitely say, we’re in love. Albeit we’re going through a twisted sort of love triangle, but these two scents are nothing short of gorgeous. Both are quite musk-based scents, with Nirvana White being the lighter of the two. The other notes in this more floral offering are peony and muguet, while Nirvana Black sees strong Violet, Sandalwood, and Vanilla. *I’m still working (very hard) on my fragrance terminology, so forgive any of my naiveté you might read.* In human terms, I find that the White version starts off quite fresh-smelling; it’s sweet without being garish. More of a soft, powdery floral than any Flowerbomb type scent. This one lasted around four hours on my skin, but being that it is in rollerball form it wasn’t much trouble to re-apply. Still, if you’re like me and prefer a fragrance to last all day, this doesn’t quite have the staying power. On the dark side we have the spicier scent of the two, Nirvana Black. This one had better lasting power on me at around six hours, but still shorter than I might have hoped. The scent is absolutely divine, especially if you like perfumes that have a slight masculine sort of feel to them. Never fear, things don’t get too manly with this one, as it does tend to sweeten over time. Again, very sophisticated scent that feels edgier than its sister. The real magic trick here is the two worn together, something I think the Olsen twins did really well to reflect the image of their brand: feminine with an edgy masculine kick (hence the name Elizabeth and James after their siblings). They work seamlessly to make the perfect mix of a deeper, richer floral that keeps things from getting too girly in any way. Overall, I think both scents are lovely, and I think most people will find one of the two that suits them quite well. Again, I’d like to get the smaller 1 oz size in each to be able to mix the two, but it does seem like a lot of hassle to go through for a perfume that doesn’t last well enough on the skin. In the end, I don’t think the hunt for my signature scent is quite over yet.

What are your favorite perfumes? I’d love to get your recommendations, let me know in the comments below!

FOTD FT. MAC FACE+BODY.

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DSC_0262I’ve kind of fallen out of love with MAC in the past year; I think it’s the first brand we gravitate towards when we first fall in love with makeup, and as you learn more, you branch out and want to try new things, and poor buddy MAC gets left on the train travelling off to the far reaches of your mind (can you tell I’m feeling a little off today?). While at the mall this past weekend, I passed by my local MAC store and popped in for a look and realized, I need everything. It’s safe to say I am well and truly smitten with the brand again, and in the spirit of us getting back together, I finally got colormatched for their Face and Body foundation and picked up samples in the shades C3 and C4. C4 is definitely more my color, especially with summer coming up, and so far I’m in love; sheer yet buildable without looking cakey, very dewy finish that still looks like skin? I’m all over that. Review to come. I thought I’d share the look I’m sporting today for all of you: I opted for more hazy than smokey eyeshadow, a berry-tinted lip, and bronze-y peach cheeks in the spirit of summer. Shimmery, beachy, easy. Simples. 

BASE//Dr. Brandt Pores No More Primer/ MAC Face and Body foundation in C4/Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Ginger/Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette/MAC Harmony Blush/Nars Blush in Luster

EYES//MAC Eyeshadows in All That Glitters (over lid), Mulch (in crease), Wedge (transition), Naked Lunch (highlight)/Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliners in Twice Baked, Perversion (to tightline)/Maybelline The Falsies Flared Mascara

LIPS//Revlon colorburst Lip Butter in Berry Smoothie

BRUSHES//Sigma F84 (for foundation)/EcoTools Bamboo powder brush (to set foundation, to bronze and contour using MAC Harmony blush)/MAC 109 (for blush)/MAC 239, 217 (for eyeshadow)

Let me know if you like these “what I’m wearing”-type posts. What have you been wearing lately?

SICK DAY SAVIORS.

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sick days #2There aren’t many perks to having to stay home all day other than getting to watch Youtube beauty videos nonstop. Even watching lipstick collections gets to be depressing after a while when you’re shifting between shivering with goosebumps to sweating because of a fever. Since I’m currently battling a bit of a virus, I thought I’d share some of my essentials for stuffy-nosed days.

Origins Make A Difference + Moisturizer

I’ve raved on about this for a while now, but basically it’s a nice and thick morning and night moisturizer. When you get sick, the skin tends to get quite dehydrated; even though I’m wearing absolutely no makeup, I still cleanse morning and night with coconut oil and slather this on (especially around me nose) to keep everything nice and hydrated.

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream

I actually picked this up on sale at TJ Maxx for just $12, so if you’re thinking of picking up your own tube, make sure you check there first. This has been working wonders at night for my lips, which are more sore than ever since I’ve been licking them nonstop because of my cold. Love.

L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream

I love this stuff for everyday use at night, but my hands need a little extra TLC right now because I’ve been washing them so often, so this has been an absolute angel for my dry skin. I also love the Soap and Glory Hand Food as a cheaper alternative, seeing as it’s just as moisturizing, but I think hand cream in general is a must-have for sick days in.

Nivea A Kiss of Moisture Lip Balm

Nothing fancy here, but I find that slapping this on throughout the day just gives no-faff moisture that’s positively foolproof, not to mention much cheaper than expensive lip masks. As much as I love the Nuxe Rêve de Miel version, this one has a bit more slip and is more comfortable to wear all day long. I’ve actually been using this since I was six, and never once has it failed me.

Hand Sanitizer

Okay. Apologies for the boring products, but if you don’t have a tube of this beside you at all times, please do not expect to recover dramatically any time soon. I’m a firm believer in washing/sanitizing my hands every single time I touch my face, blow my nose, etc. when I’m sick; not doing so spreads the germs to your clothes, bed, glass, phone, whatever and makes the bug that much harder to get rid of because you’re constantly keeping in contact with it. I’ve actually noticed that when I don’t take care to wash and/or sanitize my hands as often when I’m sick, even though I’m alone at home and not worried about spreading to anyone else, the time I spend sick with the cold is doubled. I kid you not.

Toilet Paper

I’m not kidding. I hate. Repeat. HATE. Kleenex. I always accidentally end up buying the packs that have lotion inside the tissues, or are menthol-scented to “clear your nostrils”, when all I really want is plain tissue paper. I find that lotion-infused offerings don’t do anything to hydrate around my nose, but rather leave this odd film and make it impossible to feel clean when you’ve blown your nose. My solution? A roll of toilet paper and a plastic bag beside the bed at all times, especially at night (right beside the sanitizer). Toilet paper, plain and simple, is a godsend for those of us stricken with illness. In the middle of the night, I don’t have to fiddle with a box of tissues when I need to sneeze, I can just unroll a bit and toss into the bag, followed with a “cleaning of the hands.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is absolutely the strangest product review that shall ever grace succhisimples.

Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

This is a bit of a strange favorite, but I love juicing some oranges and eating as many as I possibly can to help combat the virus; if you’ve never done this before, the Vitamin C boost does wonders to shorten the length of your symptoms. Quick, easy, and beyond yummy.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and hopefully it can be of some help to any of you struggling with a cold right now. What are your essentials for sick days in?

 

 

FRIDAY FIXER.

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friday fixer 2I do my best to have a pamper night every Friday; I think it really helps to be able to just unwind after a long week. A good book, lots of candles, and of course a yummy-smelling bath bomb usually do the trick for me, so I thought I’d share my usual routine today. I tend to buy Lush bath products over more high-end oils; I just find them a bit more fun and obviously cheaper (although I do have my eye on the aromatherapy associates deep sleep oil). I usually pop in a half a bath bomb with some of my Apotheke-m shower oil which is basically a glorified bubble bath that smells like a fig grove in Greece. I kid you not. This week’s bath bomb of choice was the Luxury Lush Pud, which you might have seen in my Lush haul a few weeks ago here. It turns the bath this majestic shade of fuschia with little bursts of color, but has the same scent as my all time favorite bath bomb, Twilight. On the candle front, I usually opt for my three favorites: Yankee Candle’s Salted Caramel and Whoopie Pie (the most incredible chocolate scented item there ever was), and Bath and Body Works’ Mahogany Teakwood. I usually keep tea-sized versions on hand to pop on the side of the bath; it’s just easier than trying to fit three large candles on top of my tub (not to mention cheaper.) As a chronic film buff, I’ve been reading Roger Ebert’s “The Great Movies, which is every cinephile’s dream read. What are your must have bath time products?

THE LUST LIST: 2014 EDITION.

Screen shot 2013-12-30 at 12.52.04 PMWhile I have several New Year’s resolutions concerning all things beauty, limiting my shopping list is not one of them. I realize the above photo shows an abnormally expensive roster of things I probably don’t need, but I wanted to share the items I’m hoping to be holding hostage in my room come December 31st. I’ve heard scads of bloggers raving on about the Oribe Maximista thickening spray, and I don’t thing I’ll be able to resist any longer, despite the price tag. The same goes for the Chloé Roses de Chloé fragrance; big fan of the original, big fan of roses… how could I possibly not be a fan of their baby? The Nars Yachiyo brush has been calling to me for a while now, and I think now is the time to act. In my defense, I’m planning on using it with the next product on the list, Tom Ford’s blusher in either Flush or Love Lust, which I’ve heard to be über-pigmented and require a light hand. I’m in desperate need of a new wallet, and Kate Spade has a stunning selection of reasonably priced offerings, this one being the Harrison Street model. In the high hopes of going on holiday in Europe this summer, I’m saving my pennies to throw myself a “treat yo-self” day (any parks and rec fans out there?) and pick up one of the Céline micro luggage totes at the original store. After hearing Anna from Vivianna Does Makeup raving on and on about the Malin+Goetz Dark Rum candle, I’m pretty positive I need it in my life, possibly more urgently than a Diptyque candle. Lipstick Queen has the stunning Big Bang glosses out, which I’ve been madly swatching at my local Ulta, so I’m hoping to pick up the shades Infinite and Time one of these days. Charlotte Tilbury’s Eyeshadow Quad in Dolce Vita has me absolutely dizzy, I want one so badly. You have no. Idea. I won’t go on about it, but yes, I’ve been stalking swatches, and it’s beautiful. Done. Now, I use a Nikon D5000 to photograph here on succhisimples., but I’m thinking it might be time to switch to the Canon EOS Rebel T5i. I’ve sampled Balenciaga’s Florabotanica quite a few times and am beyond head over heels in love. It’s floral, feminine, but just grown up enough. I’m also in need of a new round brush, and I’m mulling over the idea of investing in a $50 Ibiza one, but haven’t worked up the nerve to pay up just yet. Lastly, Kerastase’s Elixir Ultime is on my list to try when I run out of my dearly beloved Morroccanoil (though I’ll probably end up buying both just so I never have to be without the stuff). So there you have it! The year’s lustworthy items, simples.

What are you lusting after? I mean beauty/fashion related objects, people… Let’s try not to get too scandalous here 😉

DIY PRADA MARFA SIGN.

Screen-Shot-2013-05-21-at-9.11.33-AMIf you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you’ll now how much I love Gossip Girl. If you watched the show, then you’ll also know that in her apartment on the Upper East Side, It-Girl in chief Serena Van Der Woodsen has this stunning Prada Marfa canvas. After doing some snooping, I found the piece for sale by the artist, Elmgreen and Dragset, on Art.com for $430. Take a sec to imagine how much makeup $430 can buy. So, after doing a bit of searching on some décor blogs, I figured I could make my own for under $50.

Here’s what you’ll need: 

Canvas (I used a 30 x 40 like the original, but you can use whatever size you want)

Black Acrylic Paint

Paintbrush (If you’re buying a brush, I found the Filbert brush to work the best.)

Painter’s Tape

Black Permanent Marker

Photo Editing Software (Adobe Reader and Photoshop)

I first found a photo of the artwork online here and copied and pasted it into a photoshop file, which should have the same dimensions as your canvas. After cutting the sides down and stretching it to fit the background, I saved the file as a PDF file. Next, I opened the file using Adobe Reader to print it to scale. This took some trial and error, but I found that if you set the dimensions to the size of your canvas and set the print setting to “Tile” for a large poster, the lettering is spaced out over around 7 pages to scale.

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sign 2After cutting those with an exact-o knife, I spaced them out and taped them onto the canvas, making sure they were leveled correctly with a ruler. Next, I traced the letters and numbers onto the canvas lightly. I can’t stress this enough; paint is much easier to erase than pencil on blank canvas.

pencilWhen that was done, I removed the stencils and traced over them with permanent marker. Make sure everything’s clean; you want straight lines and even edges all the way through.

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pentooAfter that, all that was left was to fill them in with black acrylic paint. Because it’s water-based, it helps to wet your brush and wet the paint a bit before you start to thin it out; start with thin layers of paint and then build them up until it looks jet-black. If you make any mistakes, just grab a paper towel, wet it, and rub away any stray paint marks carefully. It helps to wrap the wet paper towel around your index finger and almost “scratch” away the paint lightly. After all that is done, wait for it to dry and you’re done! Serena’s chic Prada sign, simples.

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AND THE WINNER IS…

Screen shot 2013-12-01 at 10.22.33 AMMerry Christmas everyone! So it’s the end of Blogmas, and of my first giveaway here on succhisimples. And the winner is… Heidi A! Congratulations, and we will be emailing you soon to ship over the goodies:) I have a lot coming up for the next year, so stay tuned for a few updates here on my blog. Thank you so much to all of you who entered, to Stylinspire for collaborating with me this month to bring you this giveaway, and to all my new followers! Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year!

14 WEEKS OF MELODIES # 12.

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The Neighborhood- Let It Go

So we’re nearing the end of this series as the year draws to a close, and I know I’m a little late with this post, but it’s just a quick bit today I promise. Not sure how many of you guys watch the Vampire Diaries, but I happen to be a huge fan, and I also follow the spin-off, The Originals (which I gotta say I’m starting to prefer over its parent show). Since the beginning, TVD has had one of the best soundtracks on  TV, and its sister show is no exception. We’ve all heard the buzz about The Neighborhood and Sweater Weather, but I actually prefer this one to the über-hyped track. It’s called Let it Go, and it’s one of the songs that played during The Originals’ Winter Finale. Have a listen here, and don’t forget to enter my Blogmas giveaway below! There’s still time to enter, and don’t forget to have a look at this Hop’s host blog, Beauties Unlocked.

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