Monday, January 28, 2013

No Back Ups Challenge for 2013

One of my favorite and the most resonating with me posts ever written by Beauty Reductionista has to be the one describing her habit of purchasing the favorite products in every size - just in case she needs it. Well, I have to confess I suffer from a very similar affliction: I tend to overbuy my beauty staples, not the same exact product but the same category, be it facial cleansers, bar soap or mascaras. Why? You guessed it - just in case I'd need them like right now because hey, you never know, maybe they'll stop making body lotions entirely at some point in the future and what then? Surely I wouldn't be able to continue such a miserable existence...
No, but seriously: enough of hoarding beauty products for infinity. I've decided to make 2013 my 'No Back Ups Challenge' year, where the twelve months will be devoted to minimizing, reducing, decluttering - well, simply put, using up my stash of back ups. I have had enough of dozens of little pots, tubes, bottles and jars rolling around in my drawers, waiting to be used. Off you go!

I've decided to be very strict with my skincare, with a bit more leeway for make-up and nail purchases. For skincare bits, I will not purchase any new items until the last of the following types of products have been used up/discarded/given away: facial cleansers, make-up removers, toners and mists, serums, moisturizers for day and night (including facial oils) and eye creams. You see, I don't necessarily have full-sized back ups in all of these categories but I do have a lot of deluxe samples I've been hanging on to for a very long time and I want them gone. With my skincare routine, I've been craving the life of a reduced simplicity lately - a small array of tried and true products, no clutter, no unncessary steps. Here's to hoping, especially when I haven't found very many Holy Grail products so far!

For bodycare, I won't buy any new bar soaps, shower gels, body lotions/butters/oils, body scrubs or lipbalm until I'm down to the last remaining back up. I feel that with bodycare, it'd be so much nicer to buy fresh products when I need them and not having to store them for a couple years until the scent has all but dissipated into a cupboard.
In terms of make-up purchases, I only have 3 strict categories (no more new items until the last remaining one is being used): mascara, make-up primers and black eyeliner pencils. As you can see in the photos, I've accumulated 6 mini tubes of mascara; given that they last me 2 months on average, this comes to exactly 12 months. Same goes for primers, which I don't even use on a regular basis, and black khol pencils, for which I have 3 full-sized backups. Insane!

More beauty products I would like to reduce the number of are foundations (no more until at least 2 have been used up) and perfume (same rule applies). I will also strictly monitor my spending for other make-up bits, especially eyeshadows, lipsticks and lip glosses as well as nail polish; only 2 items a month shall be allowed, the non-used allowance can be transferred to the following month, if need be. I hope this rule will allow me to focus more on quality rather than quantity.
To finish off on a positive note, there are things I wish to spend more money on in 2013 - beauty products organization and storage solutions. I have most of my space pretty well set-up but there's definitely room for improvement in both practicality and esthethics. Other than that, I will of course be reporting back on my progress in my regular empties posts - wish me luck, lovelies!

Have you planned any stash-reducing challenges for 2013? What are your top tips?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Anastasia Beverly Hills HYPERCOLOR Brow and Hair Powder Review

... I'd also wanted to title this post: 'Pop of Color for Your Hair' but a) the word 'pop' appears to be increasingly controversial, b) I run out of space. However, this is exactly what this post is going to be about, so if you suffer from January blues, here's something bright in store for you!
The HYPERCOLOR Brow and Hair Powders by Anastasia Beverly Hills are 'extremely pigmented for great color payoff [and] meant to be fun and temporary'. According to the brand, '[they] developed HYPERCOLOR Brow and Hair Powder as an easier alternative to chalk. Chalk dries out your hair, plus it is really hard to get deep pigmentation with chalk. HYPERCOLOR will not damage hair, washes out easily and provides stunning salon-worthy color without any of the commitment.' The 5 available colors are sold separately (so far, the product is only available at Ulta) for $12.50 each.
The HYPERCOLORs come in an eyeshadow type pot with a clear, screw-on lid and look pretty much exactly like big, matte eyeshadows with very cool, almost neon like shades. Mind you, I didn't have a huge experience with hair chalk-type products before, although both the packaging and the price point seem to be comparable to other brands on the market. Here are some close-up of the available colors: Ultra-Violet, a cool, deep lilac purple, In The Pink, a neon fuschia, Mega Watt Green, a neon lime green, Teal Tornado, a true deep teal, and Electric Blue, an ultramarine blue. From the swatches, Mega Watt Green appears to be the most intensely pigmented, with the blue, teal and pink following closely and the purple Ultra-Violet just a bit less vibrant.

Having first photographed the product and briefly swatched it on my arm, one grey and dull morning I cheerfully set off to my bathroom to have a little HYPERCOLOR session. I basically applied two of the shades, Ultra-Violet and In The Pink, randomly throghout my hair, concentring mostly on the ends for a more ombre look. I used my fingers to pick up the product from the pan and then rubbed it on smaller hairstrands in sections. I found that using thinner strands was giving me more oomph, as the application actually took a bit longer than I expected - I ended up having to go back and forth to the pan a lot, so covering larger areas was a bit too time-consuming for me. The color transferred very nice and vibrant onto the hair and felt a bit more creamy than I was expecting, quite akin to those volumizing hair powders you sprinkle onto your roots. Lastly, I sealed with my everyday hairspray and off I went to work.
The HYPERCOLORs remained just as vibrant as in the morning for the entire day with no visible transfer onto my (dark) clothing; the brand doesn't recommend wearing white tops with the powders. They also recommend washing it off before going to bed to avoid staining your pillows but I didn't - the result was a little bit of transfer onto my sheets but nothing a little laundry detergent couldn't solve. The powders washed off completely the next morning with my usual double shampoo and left no stains whatsoever, which is sometihing I was a bit concerned about.
All in all, I was really happy with the performace of the Anastasia Beverly Hills HYPERCOLORs; I thought the shade selection was nicely thought-out and I liked the vibrancy of the powder in my hair and the variety of looks you could achieve with it: neon highlights, dip dye ends, ombre. However, for my personal preference, neon accents are not necessarily something I would opt for very often - I guess I might just feel a tad too... old for that?
What do you think? Have you ever tried hair chalk or had colorful accents in your hair?

Disclaimer: The product featured in this post has been kindly provided by the manufacturer for review consideration. All of the opinions expressed are 100% my own and honest. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Spring Metallics with Inglot Noble Collection Eyeshadows

I know, I know - what spring, right? Bellevue is shrouded in a freezing, wet, grey fog today, which certainly doesn't put me in a spring mood; but what better way to contradict the weather than by swatching some pretty metallic eyeshadows!
As you might know from my last haul post, I've purchased 4 new Inglot Freedom System eyeshadows recently: no. 152 and no. 153, two metallics from Inglot's new Noble Collection (which has been available in the US since November), and no. 344 and 414 from the permanent line. Metallics on the eyes were all the rage on the S/S 2013 runways, including a beautiful platinum look from Chanel that I've decided to emulate for everyday wear with my Inglot eyeshadow no. 152. But let's not get away of ourselves, swatches first!
As you can see in the close-ups, no. 414 Pearl is a deep, emerald forest green with good pigmentation and even texture (swatches show 2 swipes on bare skin). No. 344 is a matte purpley brown, the usual soft, creamy texture of Inglot mattes, again swatched with 2 swipes. Now, both no. 152 and 153 AMC Shine are a different story; they're better than usual Inglot quality, if that's even possible. They're the creamiest, most pigmented shadows I've come across recently and an absolute dream to apply - swatched here with just one swipe. They translate into a gorgeously intense, metallic look on the lid with little to no effort. Simply fantastic! No. 152 is a strange beast: a warmer platinum in some lights, a bluish silver in others. No. 153 is a true metallic taupe with a slightly golden sheen.
I chose to wear my platinum eyeshadow with a light slick of black eyeliner on the top lashline and a bit of a tight-lining to stop it from overwhelming the eye. For the rest of the face, I used Face Atelier Ultra foundation in Porcelain as my base and blended a bit of Stila Lillium Convertible Color on my cheeks. I won't mention the lip product as I really wasn't happy with the choice.
All in all, I really recommend checking out Inglot's Noble collection, as the eyeshadows are absolutely stunning and a fantastic quality. Have you tried wearing the new metallic trend yet? Any favorite metallics worth looking into?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Week in Photos # 1

Putting one of my New Years blogging resolutions into practice!

Just finished reading 'Cold Comfort Farm'/ Ground frost on a morning walk to work/ I'm getting this haircut on Monday!/ Current favorite candle/ It's a resounding YES/ Addicted to Darjeeling tea/ Manicure must-haves set for a friend's birthday/ Party party!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Nails of the Week: OPI The Living Daylights

...aka Focus Features logo manicure - it just really reminds me of that film production company intro!
The star of this manicure is of course the OPI The Living Daylights glitter polish from their 2012 Skyfall collection, which is being discontinued, by the way (so snatch this beaut up while you still can!). I've never actually seen the movie 'The Living Daylights', nor was I a huge fan of this when it first came out; I am in general very suspicious towards multi-colored glitters, or as I prefer to call them, clown vomit. This one though... this one grew on me. A LOT.
The base color was 2 coats of China Glaze Naughty and Nice (previously swatched here) from a holiday collection 2 years ago, followed by one coat of OPI The Living Daylights (you have to play around with the placement of the glitter but I like the slight uneven/textured look) and an Essie top coat. So far (day 3) no chips, a little bit of tip wear. I think what gets me in this glitter is the sequined appearance and the color combination; although unusual, it still somehow works.
Do you like wearing multi-colored glitters on your nails? Have you ever had a nail polish shade you disliked at first really turn into a favorite?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

French Pharmacie Skincare Haul

To tie in with my 2013 Blogging and Beauty Resolutions, I thought I'd show you the various French skincare bits I picked up in Poland that I intend to revamp my beauty routine with, plus some Polish extras thrown in for a good measure. There's quite a bit, so let's get right to it!
 I asked one of my Santas for some Avène products for Christmas, namely the Cicalfate Restorative Skin Cream (which, along with other Avène products, you can now buy on for when my skin is being a bit more reactive, and the Soothing Moisture Mask, which I'm really liking so far. I'd only tried some of the acne line from Avène previously, so I wanted to get a better feel for the brand and thought that the more soothing, hydrating products for sensitive skin are just what my face needs at the moment. I also decided to purchase Avène's Thermal Spring Water spray to try - I used Vichy in the past and wasn't too impressed but wanted to give thermal waters another go.
Speaking of Vichy, my mum actually gifted me this little trio of deluxe samples that she got as a free gift. I like having a smaller size of the thermal water to take with me on the go, plus I'll be able to compare it to the Avène one. The round blue lid depicted below is a mini glass pot of Aqualia Thermal facial moisturizer, and there's also a small bottle of their micellar cleanser, Pureté Thermale 3-in-1 Calming Cleansing Solution.
I've also decided to stock up on toner and picked up the La Roche-Posay Physiological Soothing Toner (I can't seem to find this product on their US website, interesting...), as well as Bioderma's Hydrabio Serum Moisturizing Concentrate for Very Dehydrated Sensitive Skin - I've read a lot of rave reviews about it and wanted to try this next when I run out of my night time serum. The third box you can see on the right was a Christmas gift again; it's from a Polish brand Tołpa, which uses peat extract in their products, and it's a Mattifying Correcting Cream; I wonder if I could get away with using this as a moisturizer/primer in the mornings. I also got a body massage serum from the same brand and it smells absolutely divine, very much like sandalwood (it's the big brown pot in the first photo).
Last but by no means least, I had to make a stop at Inglot to purchase some more of their eyeshadows. They had a new collection out with some gorgeous metallic taupey shades, so I got two of those (no. 152 and 153), as well as two from the permanent line - a shimmery deep emerald green, no. 414, and a matte purpley brown, no. 344. I will swatch these for you very soon; I can't wait to play with these new taupes and the green!

I think I am now very well stocked in terms of skincare and can safely say I won't need to purchase anything for at least another 6 months (huh, we'll see about that...). One thing I forgot to include in the photos was a pot of Nuxe Rêve de Miel lip balm, which is much raved about on the blogosphere; can't wait to (literally) dig my fingers into it! Did you get any beauty bits under the tree or picked something up in the sales afterwards? Please share in the comments, I'd love to know!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Blogging and Beauty New Years Resolutions

A little late but I thought it'd be interesting to share with you my New Years resolutions with regards to what matters the most here: blogging and beauty, so that you can hold me accountable :) I'm usually not great at making and keeping resolutions and reminiscing about the past; however, these past couple of months I've been thinking a lot more about my personal growth and what I could realistically try to improve - and here's what I came up with for 2013. Let's start with blogging goals, shall we?

1. Blogging more regularly.
Blogging often takes a back seat for me when life is feeling hectic or inspirations are running low. I will make a concentrated effort to post 2 to 3 times a week, including preplanning posts for busy times of the year like holidays and family visits.
2. Enhancing my creativity.
I believe most consistent bloggers tend to settle into a bit of a routine and forget about the creative aspect of their writing. I will harbor my creativity more by experimenting with different types of posts, e.g. more color-way or trend inspired articles. I will try to draw ideas from more aspects of my life, like literature and art.
3. Improving my photography.
I am always striving to get better at taking good photos for the blog and have a big backlog of photography books I would like to read in an attempt to work on my technical skills. In addition to that, I would like to experiment with lighting, prompts and backgrounds a lot more this year.
This was my husband's Christmas present to me: constant studio lights (what you're seeing are mostly the folded umbrella part with the tripods). They'll be so much fun playing around with!
4. No longer 'saving' blog post ideas for indefinite later.
I tend to mentally stash some of my better post ideas to use at a 'better' time, either because of laziness or the existing schedule. I think in order to cultivate my creativity, I would fare much better if I just used them right away - this also includes reviewing more products that I get to try and use, even if it's just a short and sweet summary of my thoughts. I tend to overcomplicate things - not every post needs to be a lenghty essay.
5. Starting a notebook dedicated to my blog.
Contrary to what you might think, I'm not glued to my PC 24/7, so if an idea pops up in the middle of the night, I need a little notebook to jot down my thoughts. Keeping a journal like that would not only help with organizing ideas so that I have plenty to choose from if I'm lacking inspiration but also help with my writing and project management skills.
This is the notebook I've bought for my blogging ideas - pretty cute, right?
6. Being more active in the community.
I love the social aspect of beauty blogging and all of my wonderful friends I've made by being a part of it, and I would like to give more by being more present on Twitter and also commenting more on my favorite blogs - it's so important to keep the discussion going!
7. Including you more in my personal life.
I appreciate you so much, my lovely readers, and you're already such a big part of my life that I think it's only fair to take you along with me in my day-to-day life. I've decided to start posting 'A Week in Photos' type of series so that you can see what I'm up to, it being beauty bits, food, books or anything fun or interesting that's worth sharing.

Phew, that was quite intense! Now for more superficial resolutions - beauty resolutions!
1. Focusing more on skincare than make-up in my everyday routine.
I tend to invest a lot more time and money in make-up rather than skincare and I want to change it around in 2013 to improve the health of my skin and my time management in the mornings. I've already revamped a lot of my skincare routine but I still need to work on perfecting a quick, everyday make-up look. I also need to pay a lot more attention to the skin on my body, including regular exfoliation and moisturizing.
2. Treating my skin in a more gentle and loving way.
To go along with my first beauty resolution, I really need to learn to love my skin more. This includes no picking and prodding, substituting harsh, stripping products with more hydrating products geared towards sensitive skin, removing my make-up as soon as I get home and finally being more consistent with my beauty routine.
A French pharmacie skincare haul is coming next!
3. Paying more attention to internal beauty.
I make this resolution every year but I really want to drink A LOT MORE water (I'm so bad at this, I just never get thirsty!), eat more veg and take my supplements more consistently; gotta love your fish oil!
4. Reducing my beauty stash.
For 2013, I've decided to do a no-buy for certain categories of products. I have so many back-ups of some skincare and make-up bits that I really shouldn't be buying any more of until they run out; but I think I will devote a separate post to that if you're interested. I also need to shop my stash more by rotating the products I own and I will also continue to focus on using up what I have with a special attention to samples and writing regular empties posts for the blog.

Well, I think that's it for now! I've already started implementing most of these resolutions and I feel a lot better by committing to do what I was planning on for a long time now. I think I may write a '2013 in review' type of thing at the end of December to see how I will have been keeping my blogging and beauty resolutions but I'm feeling very optimistic right now! Have you made any resolutions for 2013? What are they key things you'd like to focus on?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My In-Flight Beauty Essentials

As you might know from my previous post, I was spending the Christmas holiday with my family at home - and home is Warsaw, Poland, at least15 hours of flight and exactly 9 hours time difference away from here. I'm sure anyone who has ever spent more than 2 hours on a plane knows how devastating the cabin air can be for one's skin and overall well-being - so imagine what I usually feel like by the time I reach our Warsaw Frederic Chopin airport. Which is why I've decided to put together a little S.O.S onboard beauty kit this time to take with me, and here's what's in it:
My in-flight routine is very much inspired by this video posted by Lisa Eldridge. I start by removing any face make-up I might be wearing to look more human at the airport, first by using a make-up removing wipe (a sample packet of Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes - I'm not a huge fan of wipes in general but they'll do in a pinch) and then by massaging a cream cleanser to get the last bits off; here I was using a sample of Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser and really liked how it made my skin feel. I leave my eyes alone - I was just wearing mascara at the time and wanted to avoid the hassle of getting it all off and then reapplying.
I then generally spritz my face with a toner; depicted is an Arcona toner but I was actually using some decanted Allafia toner in a little spray bottle. I am now all ready to apply my hydrating mask; here, as per Lisa's recommendation, I had a sample of Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Masque, which is pretty much invisible on the skin. Unfortunately, it's hydrating effect was also pretty invisible, as my skin was very tight and peeling badly by the time I reached Warsaw. I also keep a little tube of moisturizer for when I'm done with my mask, which I remove with my wipes again, as well as some hand cream and lip balm for added moisture.
I love that L'Occitane shea butter hand cream and this tiny tube is probably the cutest thing I've ever seen!
Just before landing, I apply some make-up to look a bit less tired. This time, I took with me a powder foundation (Physicians Formula Healthy Wear), a concealer I could use under my eyes and on blemishes (Becca Compact Concealer) and a tinted lip balm (Fresh Sugar in Passion).

Overall, I was pretty happy with what I packed in my little beauty kit but next time I would probably try to find a more effective face mask or even just use a good hydrating serum instead. The whole routine made me feel a lot more relaxed and I think I was looking a bit more fresh-faced at the end of our journey.

On a different note, I hope you guys are all well and happy in the new year and I'm sorry for my prolonged absence; I had big plans for blogging when I was away but family quality time had to take priority. I have however a lot of things planned out for you, starting with some personal and blogging New Years resolutions. Stay tuned!