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.

SKIN SAVIORS: THE BODY SHOP.

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I recently had my first run-in with The Body Shop’s skincare line; I know, I know, I’m late to the party on this one, but better late than never. First up: the Chamomile Silky Cleansing Oil. I’ve been meaning to get my hands on Nude’s Perfect Cleansing Oil for absolutely ages, so when I heard Amelia Liana from Liana Beauty going on about how good this was and how it was comparable to-if not better than-the Nude option, of course I was hooked. This stuff is fantastic: lightweight, “silky” (as the name suggests), and takes off every scrap of mascara on the ‘ol face. My only gripe? It took time for me to come around and fully commit because of the amount of product needed to cleanse. Yes, it does take off even the most waterproof mascaras, but I find that I need to use at least two pumps, if not three, every night. Then again, having snagged it for just $11 online, I shan’t complain. Next up, the Vitamin E Intense Moisture Cream is quite the fail-safe product when skin needs some added TLC. It’s quite cushion-y, if you can call it that; while it is thick, it’s a dream to apply and is just so smooth. Another situation in which I’d happily buy a tub just to play with it it’s so soft. This one has been helping my skin out of a rough patch lately, it’s excellent as an intense moisturizer-mask hybrid as an overnight treatment. Speaking of overnight treatments, the Vitamin E Overnight Serum is a new offering from the brand, and it definitely a good ‘un. Because it’s both a serum and an oil together, it’s very lightweight and acts almost as a dry oil, sinking in quickly enough that there’s no need to worry about any rubbing off on your pillow when you go to bed. The results are almost immediate-you wake up with the most supple looking skin that gives the impression you’ve slept through the past few days. Definitely a guardian angel for late nights when you need to wake up looking refreshed without much sleep included.

What skincare products have you been loving lately?

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?

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?

A VERY LUSH CHRISTMAS.

Let it come as no surprise, I am a huge lushie. I love most everything about the brand, from their whole natural philosophy to their adorable merchandise. So I’m not going to lie and say that I wasn’t at least a little giddy when their Christmas collection came out. The full collection includes over 30 different bath and body products, as well as a few skincare bits. I recently popped into the shop after a trip to my not-so-local Ikea store, but I mainly stuck to bath bombs, with a few scrubs in the mix.

cindersFirst up, meet Cinders. This one’s described as a “warming cinnamon crackler” by the brand, and it’s priced at $4.95 here. It’s meant to give you the experience of sitting fireside, and I have to admit it does make your tub look (and smell) like a vat of bubbling cider. While it did fizz when first popped in and bubbled for a while, I had expected more of the “crackling” action to be going on; instead, there’s a few pops in the beginning and then it kind of settles to a normal bath bomb experience, although it did leave my skin feeling soft and smelling yummy after use. It’s nice, but I don’t think I’ll be stocking up on this one for the year.

snowmanNext, we’ve got the scrumptious vanilla ballistic, Snowman, priced at $5.95. For any Butterball lovers, this one has the same scent, if in a bigger size. Lush says that, “Snowman’s cocoa butter melts into hot bath water to get skin seriously soft,” which I have to agree on. I’m a big Butterball fan myself, and this cute rendition is irresistible. Love.

secret santaAs soon as I saw this next one in the store, I almost fell over it’s so freaking cute. Enter, Secret Santa. Here’s what Lush has to say about this one: “Modeled after the very first LUSH Shop in Poole, England, this limited edition holiday invention holds an exclusive new perfume called 29 High St! Drop the entire house into your tub or break it in half for two baths and revel in the cheerful orange water as notes of jasmine, lime, tonka and Sicilian lemon envelop your senses.” This definitely smells of a lush shop (I’m even considering picking up that new perfume just because it smells so damn good) and I love that you can break it into three pieces and get three full baths out of it. It’s on the pricier side of their bath bomb range at $9.95, but totally worth it in my opinion for the large size. My personal favorite.

bombardinoThe undisputed winner of cutest bomb (which sounded way better in my head) is baby Bombardino. This little guy smells of lemon cheesecake and is supposed to have a bit of champagne in there too. In summation, he smells divine. Great quickie bath and great gift, especially for kids.

puddy in your handsLet me preface these next two bath ballistics by saying that I’ve got some pretty amazing friends, one of whom was shopping at the nearest Lush and immediately called to ask what I wanted her to pick up. SQUEAL. First we have Mr. Pud (whose full name is Luxury Lush Pud, if you were wondering.), who smells exactly like my all-time favorite, Twilight, but with festive colors. I love this one, and I love that it’s big enough to split into two baths, since I hate only getting one use out of bath bombs.

sex bombThe second bath bomb she picked up for me, which is actually not a part of the Christmas line but their most popular item I’ve been wanting to try for a while now, Sex Bomb. They’re not kidding, this one smells seriously sexy. It’s packed with Jasmine, among other things like Sandalwood to keep things sweet but a bit musky.

oh yes, please pass me my ponchoOff the bath train and into the shower, I picked up the Ponche shower gel. This stuff smells amazing, especially for those mornings when you’re feeling particularly groggy. It’s got orange and tequila in it, and really gets me going for the day. I would say use a scrub afterwards, as it leaves things a little film-y, which would normally be fine, but because of the color, it is a bit annoying to towel off and see that the cloth has turned orange-y. Guilty as charged.

I did also pick up the Popcorn Lip Scrub and was given the Santa’s Lip Scrub as another gift by the same amazing friend (are you sensing a trend here?), and I have a review on both to come, so stay posted!

We are also still in the midst of Blogmas, and the giveaway is ending in six days! If you haven’t already entered, please do so below! What are your favorites from the Lush Christmas 2013 line?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sephora favourites giveaway

Stylinspire Succhisimples

NOVEMBER BIRCHBOX UNBOXING.

birchbox novemberI can’t believe how fast this month has gone! It feels like Halloween was yesterday and all of a sudden Thanksgiving is tomorrow… Crazies. I’m a little late with this post, since I got my box a few weeks back, but this way I’ve been able to trial all the products for an extended amount of time and give a full review on each:) Enjoy!

First up, the Pop Beauty Aqua Lacquer in Flowering Fuschia.

Meh. That’s all I have to say about this. It’s quite sticky, about five levels up from my-hair-keeps-getting-stuck-to-my-lips-in-the-wind sticky. As the day wears on, it goes grainy on the lips and has this weird texture that’s gloopy but almost exfoliating at the same time. Do yourself a favor and just skip this stuff.

Vasanti “Brighten Up!” Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator.

Being that the last product was quite the let-down, it was a nice surprise to try a product that actually works. It’s basically an exfoliator, to be used up to 3 times a week. Where it differs from your typical scrub is that it includes enzymes to help break down the outer, dead layer of the skin. I am no scientist, but they must work just like it says on the back, because after use, my face definitely felt brighter and softer. It’s not the most abrasive scrub, which sensitive-skinned ladies will appreciate, but at the same time, it’s quite effective. Love.

Color Club Cocktail Hour Collection in Top Shelf. 

Let me tell you, I love getting nail polish in my Birchboxes. This one is no exception; glossy, with a gorgeous rose-gold hue, perfect for a subtle holiday look. Color Club polishes are generally fantastic formula-wise; not gloopy, but with decent staying power, and great color payoff, and this one is no exception.

Tiossan Body Cream.

This one is the highest-end offering of the bunch, priced at $38 for the full size. Honestly? Not my personal preference in the wide world of body creams. The smell is quite strange, almost powdery. That, I could get past, if it was truly hydrating. After trying it over the course of the last few weeks, I didn’t find the hydration long lasting. If I’m being frank, it really wasn’t hydrating at all. It left my legs still feeling a bit dry after each application. In summation, not worth its price tag.

Ahmad Teas.

I love getting lifestyle items like food in my boxes, and these are no exception. Personally, I’m partial to a steaming cup of earl grey with milk and sugar, but this I can dance with. Peaches? Mangos? Get in my mouth, please and thank you. Now.

So there you have it! November’s box, un-boxed. Simples.

If you haven’t seen my last post yet, you can take a look here. Interested in birchbox? Try out your own subscription by clicking here.

 

 

 

HELLO, OCTOBER.

DSC_0177Everyone say Hi.

I’ve recently come to the realization that this month has to be my favorite of the entire year, topping even my birthday month (it’s March, by the way, in case you wanted to send me some fantastic present). Think about it. Yes, Autumn officially starts in September. But let’s be honest, the whole month, we’re all still in shock that summer’s over, and can’t seem to grasp the idea that it might be time to start breaking out the scarves and boots. We’ve just spent three entire months fawning over salt sprays and Victoria’s Secret-worthy tans, lusting after coral blushers and neon nails. But then September hits, and the fact that maybe it’s time to put the beach umbrellas away and give the summer a hearty farewell starts to set in, and on the inside, we’re all suffering from a little PTSD from watching it go. What is it Lana calls it? Summertime Sadness?

Well, it happened. And now it’s gone.

So October comes in, guns blazing, and all of a sudden we’ve accepted that summer’s time is up and we start humming Christmas carols under out breath. Well. Not everyone does that. It could be just me, but who really knows? The point is that when the month begins, we start getting into this weird, bewitching autumnal holidays-are-a-coming feeling that’s pretty incredible, if you ask me. And we start to feel a little bit of hope fill the void July left behind as it rode off into the sunset. So yeah, I guess you could say I’m a little bit in love with this October guy.

Onto a new product. *Cue drumline* … It’s a candle! I haven’t really blogged about them at all, but I’ve gotten really into these kids lately, and this one from Bath and Body Works is just. There are no words. It’s called Fresh Balsam, and it has this incredibly rich pine scent to it, like you’ve just  walked past a Christmas wreath and gotten a  whiff of its merry goodness. It’s quite warm and comforting, and great for getting into that fall spirit. If you haven’t, and you need a candle to do it for you, then that’s not a good sign. But if you do, give this one a go.

Coincidentally, one of my absolute favorite blogs is named Hello October (see what I did there?). To be honest, I might have possibly perhaps named this post after it because I’m that in love with it, but you know. If you haven’t seen it yet, go look NOW. It’s run by the impossibly beautiful Suzie, and the entire blog is just gorgeous. I love the quirky-ish SoHo chic layout, and she does such a great job writing really honest reviews and making fun videos. Have a look here.

Hope you’re enjoying your October!

 

 

 

 

 

IT’S A PERFECT WORLD

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So the other day, I’m going about my business, snooping through my mother’s cosmetic cabinet like every good girl does at least once a month, and something catches my eye. Not just anything, either. An ORIGINS thing. And tell me, what does one do when faced with a $30 body lotion stowed away, untouched and far from prying eyes, within the cosmetics cabinet of one’s own mother who, let me point out, neglected to mention its existence? One grabs the tub and runs all the way home, that’s what. Actually, it was more like I grabbed the tub and went to her office, demanding why I wasn’t told sooner. But still. It’s kind of a big deal.

The world is not that kind. Wait, scratch that. The universe is just too mean. It does not give away things for free, and it certainly does not give away origins things for free. But you know what it does do? Sometimes, if you look close enough, it opens a little door through which you have but seconds to run and grab one of your heart’s many (I assume, if you’re reading a beauty blog) cosmetic desires. And yet, that, in itself, is too rare of an occurrence to rely on for help when the old body butter runs low. But I digress.

In short, when the universe opens a door, run straight through and don’t ever look back.

And so it was that I ran, ran as fast as my short, stubby little legs would go, asked politely if, since she had deliberately withheld this magic from me, I could please steal it, since it obviously wasn’t as deeply loved as it should have been, to which she explained simply that it was a gift from last year that she didn’t even know she still had. Thanks, mum.

But the stuff. The Origins A Perfect World Body Cream? It’s the stuff of dreams, I say. Lightly whipped, it’s light enough to not sit on the skin and hydrating enough to lock in moisture all day and all night. And it smells yummy, but that’s just a bonus. Does origins make my skin happy and joyful? Yes. Could it possibly lead to my eventual bankruptcy? Oh yes.

 

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BRING IT, BRAZIL.

brazil nut Brazil nut. Anything new? Nope. But the Body Shop’s revamped brazil nut     line? That’s a different story.

Ladies and gentlemen, this stuff is worth phoning home about.

My love affair with The Body Shop is, to say the least, short-lived, seeing as I only just discovered it about a year ago, along with beauty blogs and youtube videos to make my face look a little less like I haven’t slept in a few years and a little more like I care about life. BUT. That isn’t to say that I am not deeply, deeply smitten with the brand. This is love.

I first found their coconut body butter through watching essie-button‘s youtube videos, in which she often spoke about her undying love for the stuff, and instantly had it in my head that I needed it in my life. So, I took a trip to the mall and pranced into the store to take a whiff, and let me be the first to tell you, it is incredible. One sniff, and you’re transported to this warm, charming Hawaiian island, watching yourself sip Mai-Tai’s in a bikini on white sandy beaches. Well, not really, but kind of. It’s a warm, comforting scent that I now cannot live without. My mum, born and raised in the Philippines, grew up around a whole lot of coconuts. Naturally, after purchasing my own small tub of magic, I ran home to her office and made her smell it, to which she reacted with a wrinkle of the nose and frantic motions for me to remove the stuff from her nostril area. Unfortunately, she hates it. Fortunately for the rest of the world, this is the most accurate test available for the authenticity of the scent; her hatred comes from smelling the fragrant scent of the fruit all her life. Thus, we both vouch that it smells exactly like real island coconuts. And so began the affair.

A few months ago, while out shopping with my best (and similarly makeup obsessed) friend, we waltzed past the shop and saw the new display of the brazil nut line, which the brand discontinued a few years ago. Naturally, the only thing to do was zoom in for a look. And so it was that I sniffed the body scrub for the first time.

The way that stuff smells. Holy. It’s this caramel-y scent that’s almost like a macchiatto with vanilla thrown in that envelops you in this warm cocoon of bliss. It’s INCREDIBLE. Against my better judgement, I decided against buying it, running in to Sephora instead to sample Nars “Sin” blush for the hundredth time to keep my mind off the beautiful scent. Fast forward to about a month ago, and both the scrub and body butter wound up in my basket at the check-out counter and later on my bathroom counter. After having used them for a while, I can safely say both are beyond amazing. The scrub has just the right amount of scrubbi-ness to exfoliate well and leave skin baby soft without being too harsh, and the body butter hydrates deeply and smells divine. I’ll be stashing these until long after I turn eighty.

You can purchase both at The Body Shop by clicking here.