IF YOU BUY ONE THING THIS MONTH…

DSC_0001…Let it be Mio’s Liquid Yoga*. If you read the online magazine Nouvelle Daily, then you’ve probably heard talk about this gorgeous soak bouncing around the blogosphere. I received a bottle to test out from Mio Skincare and needless to say, I was not disappointed. To compensate for my lack of exercise since I stopped dancing (as well as my habit of loading up on carbs), I’ve been biking on the daily to try and burn off some calories. Word to the wise: out of shape bodies aren’t too keen on sudden exercise. Had I realized this ahead of time I probably would have managed to avoid the end-of-the-week muscle aches, but then, I probably wouldn’t have been able to experience Liquid Yoga’s wonders to the fullest extent. You win some you lose some. By this point, you’re probably wondering about what exactly Liquid Yoga is. The brand says it’s formulated to: Relax and calm your busy mind; ease hard-working muscles and restore your body with our perfect milky-moisturising blend of essential oils, mineral salts and therapeutic herbs. In a nutshell, it’s a silky bath soak meant to ease muscle aches and help you unwind. So how well did it help out those biking aches and pains? I kid you not, they were gone after a single use. A warm soak with a dollop of this stuff is positively therapeutic; not only were my small aches gone but I the gorgeous sent did wonders to help me relax and sleep soundly. The best part? No lotion needed après soak, Liquid Yoga turns the water into the most gorgeous shade of mint that’s silky and moisturizing, so we get to skip the extra step after a dip in the tub. Even if you don’t exercise at all, I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good at-home spa day: it’s easy to use-just shake and pour as the tub fills, is delicately scented with essential oils like lavender and chamomile to help you relax and sleep easy, and is the perfect quick fix to unwind at the end of a hectic day/week. One quick warning from the brand before I sign off: Liquid Yoga may cause relaxation and happiness. What’s not to love? 

Will you be picking up some Liquid Yoga?

TATCHA’S RITUAL DISCOVERY KIT.

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DSC_0047I mentioned a couple posts back about how the lovely folks at Tatcha were kind enough to send me some products to test out and review, and today we’ve got the second part of the products I tried. If you haven’t heard of Tatcha before, they’re a luxury Japanese skincare brand inspired by Geisha beauty rituals. Part two of the review? Tatcha’s Ritual Discovery Kit. The kit includes four of their most iconic products: the PURE One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil (25 mL), the SUPPLE Moisture-Rich Silk Cream (10 mL), the RADIANT Deep Brightening Serum (10 mL), and the POLISHED Rice Enzyme Powder (14 x 1g packets).

DSC_0037Here’s the description:

A two-week introduction to your essential four-step ritual. The Cleansing Oil removes makeup and melts away the day, while the Enzyme Powder exfoliates to reveal polished skin. The Brightening Serum evens complexion. Nourish skin with the anti-aging moisturizer tailored to your skin type.

DSC_0021First up and one of their most popular products is their cleansing oil offering. The brand describes it as: A beautiful blend of camellia and rice bran oils. Melts away even waterproof makeup leaving skin fresh and pure. I found this to be similar but slightly lighter in consistency than the Body Shop’s Chamomile Cleansing Oil, the latter being more heavy-duty makeup removing stuff in general. Tatcha’s version is a dream to use- lovely floral scent that’s not overpowering, silky texture, and melts makeup off at the end of the day. I will say that it’s not the most effective cleansing oil I’ve used in terms of removing waterproof mascara, but with an extra pump or two this gets the job done. I love the packaging on all the products, but I particularly love the inclusion of the travel-sized cleansing oil as it’s refillable and contains a pump, so once this runs out you could easily transfer some product into it for travel if you bought the full size or even save this one for weekends away when you need to pack light. Next up, the kit’s moisturizer is the definition of what the beauty community calls holy grail. There, I said it. I don’t throw the term around lightly here on succhisimples, but I have to say it. I. Love. This. Stuff. If nothing else, I would one hundred percent buy the kit myself just to have another adorable sample of this stuff. Tatcha calls it a Luxurious yet weightless feeling gel-cream of Liquid Silk, Squalane, Royal Jelly + HADASEI-3 Bioactive Complex. The HADASEI-3 Complex and Squalane added are some of the brand’s trademark ingredients meant to rehydrate the skin, though even without knowing much about the chemistry that makes up this little tub of wonder I can tell you right now you need to at least try this once in your skincare lifetime. The consistency is definitely a gel-cream as they describe, it lacks the oily/greasy feeling of a gel but hydrates deeply like a cream. The closest match I could find to this was Origins’ GinZing Energy Boosting Moisturizer (review here), which doesn’t hydrate as deeply but is quite similar in texture. While this is very pricey in the full size, if you’re looking for a good skincare investment I can think of no better find thus far than this. Their RADIANT brightening serum that claims to “hydrate while making the skin appear more luminous” wasn’t exactly the standout product of the bunch; while it was nice and again a joy to use, I didn’t find that it outperformed any of my other serums I’m currently using, but it does seem to bump up the glow factor even after you’ve applied moisturizer on top, making the skin look healthier and more dewy in finish. Overall, I’d say a good addition and something worth trying if you’re interested in the set, but not one to run out and purchase in the full size until you know whether or not your skin sees a noticeable difference. Lastly, their water-activated POLISHED Rice Enzyme Powder comes in the form of some pretty neat packaging. The set includes 14 packets of the product, intended to be used once a day for two weeks. It’s meant to “exfoliate without harsh abrasives for effortless baby-soft skin.” Ladies and gentlemen, it does just that. Once you rip open the packet, you pour the contents into wet hands and massage into a (very) wet face to create a soft lather. It doesn’t feel scrubby in the least, so I expect the exfoliating action is more chemical than physical with this one, but I definitely saw a difference after just a few days of use. I’d say keep added skincare regimens like double cleansing or cleansing with a clarisonic to the minimum when using this product, as I found that my skin became slightly more sensitive than normal after use of this plus a face mask and my clarisonic the next morning to the point where I’d feel a burning sensation on applying a product. Case in point, conventional wisdom applies here: don’t overdo your skincare. Subsequent trial again a week later was beyond successful: my skin literally felt like the backside of a four month old baby, I kid you not. To try their enzyme exfoliator is to be converted; harsh scrubs begone.

Overall, I think the set is an excellent value for the money; while it is pricey, you get to test all the brand’s bestselling start-up products in one handy kit and I’m telling you-these are not ones to miss. Definitely worth the price tag.

Will you be picking up the new Ritual Discovery Kit from Tatcha?

ICONIC JURLIQUE.

DSC_0068Again with the rambling about facial mists today, but this time we’ve got a triple threat skincare study going on. *Enter, Jurlique*. The lovely people behind the Australian brand were kind enough to send me a few of their most beloved iconic products to test out, and after a month of testing I can say it’s love. First up and probably the brand’s most popular product, the Rosewater Balancing Mist*. Let’s get one thing out of the way: the scent. Holy mother of God. If you like the smell of roses even the slightest bit, you need this in your life. Picture this: it’s the end of the day, you’re exhausted and just finished your evening cleanse, and spritz this all over as a toner and the world just seems to relax a little bit (I think I may have actually heard angels let out a sigh when I tried this for the first time, but it could have been creaky floorboards-no way to be sure). I love that you can use it both as a toner or over makeup in the morning as it’s so refreshing. Don’t like the idea of spraying all over the face? Jurlique has you covered. Spritz into palms a few times and press into the skin and bam-instant hydration (and I do mean instant). Next up, the Skin Balancing Facial Oil* was just as lovely in the long run but at first not my personal cup of tea. While I think it may do wonders for more combination/oily skins for the evening as it’s so light, after a week of wearing every night as a treatment on my dry/dehydrated skin, it did this strange thing where I’d wake up in the morning (feeling like P. Diddy-thank you Essiebutton) and my skin would actually feel drier than before. After cleansing, I found that I had somehow developed dry patches after a week or so of using. It does well for a few nights a week as an overnight treatment, but I’d say just be careful not to apply this on a daily basis. Then again, I don’t know many people who’d advise you to use an oil every single night in the first place, so partly melt fault here. The verdict? Lovely a few times a week to replenish skin. I found it helped any under-the-skin-bumps come to a head as well and helped clear my skin, which is lovely especially if you’re particularly blemish-prone. Last, the Purely Age-Defying Eye Cream* was another definite love. Here’s the deal with me and anti-aging skincare: yes, I’m under 20 and probably have you use for it, but I read an interview once (I think it was an article on Charlotte Tilbury) that you’re supposed to start using an anti-aging eye cream at eleven. Crazy, I know, but I figure now’a as good a time as any to start, seeing as I didn’t know they made eye cream when I was eleven. While I can’t speak to its anti-wrinkle
properties, I love how light this is even though it’s rich enough to use for evening wear and still deeply hydrating. Overall, the favorites remain the Balancing Mist and Age-Defying Eye Cream, with the occasional seeing of balancing oil during the week.

Have you tried anything from Jurlique?

(*denotes press sample)

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.

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?

OF OIL PULLING (& OTHER STORIES).

DSC_0060To celebrate the end of the year with summer just around the corner (and the end of exams i.e. hell on earth), there’s a new feature being added to the simples roster: & OTHER STORIES. Apologies for stealing the name of one of the UK’s most celebrated new shops, but I’ve been meaning to incorporate more real-life beauty hacks/lifestyle-ish posts since the beginning, so let this be the introduction to a whole realm of DIY-related, kitchen beautician-style posts here on le blog. I was quite late to the party with this topic, since apparently it was bouncing around the beauty community a few months ago, but after reading an article about it on Into the Gloss here, it had to be tested and shared with the rest of the simples fam. You may (or may not) be wondering, What’s this oil pulling business then, Kristina? Well. Let me tell you. It’s gross. But totally worth it. Definitely one of those “it hurts to be beautiful”-type things that’s not one for the faint of heart (or of stomach). So here it is: take a tablespoon of your favorite oil-most people use coconut oil for the healthy components-and swish it around in your mouth like mouthwash for 20 minutes. No swallowing allowed. It’s meant to draw out the toxins from your saliva and break down oil-soluble plaque for a whiter smile, not to mention aligning your chakras or whatever else the Kale-eating hipsters of Coachella lore claim it does. Naturally. A lot of reviews I read said that it reduced headaches as well as cleared skin, so I set out to pull a tablespoon of semi-hard oil between my teeth every day for a week. The things I do for blogging. I have two spots of hypo-calcification on my front teeth, areas where not enough calcium was available when they developed thanks to previous milk allergies that manifest themselves in two large white spots. They’re not horrible anymore after a few rounds of dental whitening, but the hope was that oil pulling might slightly reduce the contrast between the spots and the rest of my teeth. I do recommend using coconut oil, not least of all because it tastes a little better than pure olive oil in large quantities, but make sure whatever oil you use is organic and unrefined or extra virgin. Processing strips the beneficial qualities from the oil and basically makes the process obsolete. Oil picked, it has the strangest consistency when you first put it in your mouth because it’s slightly hard, but it melts down to a runny oil straight away. The first and last two minutes proved to be the hardest every time; not swallowing has never been this hard. I would usually put it in and sit to watch an episode of whatever T.V. show I needed to catch up on and swish, swish, swish. After 20 minutes, spit, brush, and voilà. No residue whatsoever on the teeth. After a week, I noticed the biggest difference in my skin rather than my teeth. Clear, free of any pimples, with no little under-the-skin mountain ranges whatsoever. After stopping the “treatment” for around a week, blemishes were back in style on my face, while the second week saw the re-emergence of the Alps around my forehead. It was bad.  It’s all about keeping a consistent regimen here, folks: try pulling oil once or twice a week to keep things in check. I can’t report super-significant teeth whitening, but if you’re thinking about pulling oil one of these days, do it for your skin: you can thank me later.

What’s the weirdest beauty regime you’ve followed for results? Let me know below!

THE HAUL: NAILS.

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DSC_0041If the world of beauty products were a pet store, blush would probably be the fluffy teacup shi-tzu I’d go in to pet every single day (which may or may not be the beginning of Suki, my personal pup’s, life story), foundations/bases and lip products would be the litter of kittens I always stop to fawn over/can’t get enough of, and nail products would be the beta fish that sit on the $1 rack in the back of the shop. Sad, I know. One, because beta fish are ridiculously underrated and probably some of the most mysteriously majestic creatures to ever grace pet stores around the globe (Have you ever had a look at one of those? You can literally spend hours just staring and observing the ways in which they manage to do absolutely nothing.), and two, because most people are beyond obsessed with nail polish and have a larger arsenal of finger painting products than the rest of their makeup. Don’t get me wrong, I love polish; I just get far too lazy to give myself a proper manicure every week and repaint them. Plus, let’s be honest here: if it comes down to getting that new foundation or Nars blush over three or four nail polishes, no way in H-E-double hockey sticks am I passing up a shiny new makeup thing to play around with. But I digress. I’ve always admired the idea of being the kind of girl that’s never seen without perfectly manicured nails, so I’ve made a promise with the new year that I shall be undergoing my transformation to becoming “that girl.”

Deborah Lippmann Space Oddity Trio//$29.00

I popped into Sephora in search of a friend’s birthday gift and happened upon this adorable set of mini Deborah Lippmann polishes that came out for the holidays for just $8 from the original price of $29, which I absolutely couldn’t say no to. I’d been wanting to try a shade from the range for the longest time, and the sizes are great. I don’t think I’ve ever gone through and entire nail polish before other than a bottle of Seche Vite, so they should last a while. I’d been on the hunt for a mauve-toned shade, so the set was perfect. You could even say it was meant to be…

Seche Vite Dry Fast Topcoat//$7.99

Not the most exciting of purchases, but my last bottle went gloopy (another reason I haven’t painted my nails in weeks), and I absolutely can’t live without this stuff. Foolproof and as fast drying as the name claims, this stuff just gets the job done with a hella bit of gloss thrown in to the mix. Love.

Essie Blanc Nail Polish//$5.49

I’d been on the hunt for the perfect opaque, non-streaky bright white polish since last summer (though the search may or may not have been forgotten in the fall), and lemme tell you right now, I have found the one. Perfect, full coverage in two coats. I have the feeling this is going to turn into more than just a short love affair, but I’ll keep you posted if any bumps in our relationship occur.

Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil//$7.99

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have the cuticles of a forty year-old man that has spends his work week employed by a bag of cheeto’s in the office that is his living room couch. In a word, disgusting. *WARNING: slight dramatization of events. Actor portrayal.* They are gross though; dry, cracking, and overall terrible. So, in a desperate attempt to get a real job, my fingers quit their job in the cheetos bag and have put in for a transfer to warmer, more tropical climates. Like apricot groves wherever apricots are grown. They’re much happier now that they’ve retired and spend their time drinking up this apricot cocktail. Smells amazing, gets the job done, and injects moisture back into even the most die-hard cheeto-eating cuticles.

Have you picked up any products recently?

THE CAPSULE BAG, #7.

CAPSULE #7-1

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CAPSULE #7-3The week has seen the disappearance of foundation from the makeup menu (per chef’s orders to simplify, simplify, simplify.); my skin has been the site of an overload of Pompeii-like eruptions all of a sudden. Which reminds me. Anyone else beyond excited to see John Snow in Pompeii? That beautiful, beautiful man… But I digress. Case in point being, I’ve been far too lazy to faff around with layer after layer of foundation and concealer afterwards, even though my skin would probably look a lot better than it has this week if I did. In light of that, I’ve been trying to focus on giving it some extra TLC at night with my Tarte Maracuja Oil instead of my usual night cream. This one’s just a sample size from Sephora (hint: use code MARACUJA at checkout on the Sephora website for this sample); I’m debating between this and the Pai Rosehip Oil when I commit to a full size, but this has really helped heal those pesky blemishes. I’ve been relying heavily on my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette (review here) to inject in some much-needed glow. This one was limited edition, but you can get the individual shades except “Incandescent Light” here.  I’ve especially been loving Radiant Light on the cheekbones with Nars Laguna Bronzer to welcome Sister Spring and sunshine. I’ve had the Sigma E30 Pencil Eye Brush forever now, but I’ve only just gotten into using it on the daily with my battered-up version of the Stila Kitten Eyeshadow. As you can probably tell, this thing has been through hell and back; I have dropped it (possibly more than twice, but I refuse to confess to anything), broken it, and put it back together more than I care to mention, but it’s still a gorgeous highlight shade and works well in the inner corners using the brush. There you have it! The week, in review.

What have you been loving lately?

THE HAUL: JANUARY 2014 EDITION.

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DSC_0289I call this the “January Edition” not because I’m planning on doing a haul every single month (my bank account isn’t nearly large enough to afford twelve of these posts a year), but because I know that coming up in March for my birthday there will be quite a large haul, followed (hopefully) by a Paris haul in the summer. This month, I took the plunge and made an impulse Sephora purchase and picked up a few things I’ve been putting off buying for ages. The first, Origins’ Make A Difference Plus Rejuvenating Moisturizer, I’ve gotten samples of not one, not two, but four times at my local counter. I even made a friend accompany me last time to get an extra sample and pass it off as hers. I kid you not. Needless to say, the woman who works there despises my presence every time I approach, so I placed the order online. Ha. It’s the most gorgeous, lightweight moisturizer to use as a night cream, and the smell. Oh. There are no words. Basically it smells like there’s a party happening. On your face. While you sleep. Not to mention you wake up with the softest, most supple skin imaginable. Love. Next up, I’ve been meaning to try Tarte’s Smooth Operator Micronized Setting Powder for ages, and I saw on Sephora.com that the limited-edition version released last year with the Aqualilies collection was on sale. Same powder, but prettier packaging, ten dollars off? Please and thank you. Into the cart it went, so there will be a full review up sometime next week. Stay tuned, kids. The rest of the Sephora items were actually samples; the site was running a promotion that gave you the option to pick 2 luxury-sized samples (hint: use code VICESWAP to shop the deal) so I picked the Tarte Maracuja oil and Becca’s bronzing skin perfector. First off, I’ve never actually tried a proper skincare oil before, and the results were fantastic; brighter, softer, and hydrated skin all came to light in the morning. I’m currently deciding between the full size of this or the Pai Rosehip Oil, but I digress. The Becca sample is actually aimed to give you that tan glow to your skin. Now, I’m basically brown all year round, so no word here on whether or not that helps in the fake tan department. Personally, I lvoe Becca products, especially their Skin Perfector Line, so I think this will make a great cheekbone highlighter-type shade for the summer to help on top of a bit of bronzer. I also got the birthday kit from Benefit they give if you’re a Beauty Insider, since I accidentally put my birthday in as a January birthday when I signed up. #Sorrynotsorry. The kit includes a sample of their Watt’s Up! highlighter, a lovely champagne-golden shade, and the They’re Real! mascara, so lot’s of exciting stuff here, judging from all those exclamation points Benefit brands their products with. Honestly though, the Watt’s Up! gives a great, long-lasting sheen to the cheeks, and the mascara is perfect for separating lashes. If your lashes don’t typically hold a curl, I’d recommend a layer of waterproof mascara first before a layer of this, but it really is fantastic. Lastly, I finally got myself the Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm, which is lovely at night as a sort of lip mask, since it’s quite thick. So there you have it! All my recent purchases from the month, simples.

What have you picked up recently? Let me know in the comments below!

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?