Thursday, 30 June 2011

Andrea Garland: Lovely Lip Balm Review


This packaging has got to be the chic-est I've ever had for a lipbalm. It's not your usual plastic twist-up stick and it's not in a mini jar. This one's in a vintage Princess Pat rouge compact. Quaint, ain't it?

Warning: Verbose article ahead. The compact somehow gets a lot more attention here than the lipbalm does.

The Andrea Garland brand certainly has a very unique selling proposition. In this age of Reduce, Re-use and Recycle, Ms Garland, an aromatherapist (according to its website), puts old, used tins, compacts and pill boxes to very good use. What we used to call bah, rubbish! is now lovingly christened antique or vintage. All it takes is just a change in mindset, no?

Other than the vintage range (balms for the lips and for the body housed in vintage containers), Ms Garland also makes skincare products housed in conventional packaging - amber glass bottles and jars. She does proudly state on the website that her products are all handmade in Hackney, London and that......

.....all ingredients are natural, sourced from ethical suppliers and as many as possible are organic to ensure a more considerate, holistic and gentle approach to skincare. Absolutely none of the ingredients, or indeed, the products have been tested on animals.

Ms. Garland deserves a pat on the back, don't you think?


I bought my Lovely Lip Balm last year when I visited the then newly-opened eco-beauty store, C. Cosmetics & Care, in Amsterdam (image above). You can read my write-up on the store here. I waited a few months before I started using this lipbalm (as I had other lipbalms in the queue - I have an insuppressible obsession for natural lipbalms) and then, I procrastinated writing about it (because there were other lipbalms in the queue!).


Very Charming
Lipbalm
My version has a slightly different list of ingredients from what is now on the website, so Andrea Garland has obviously made some changes to the formula. Rather than give you my list of ingredients, I will give the current version instead:

Sweet Almond oil, Beeswax*, Shea butter*, Red raspberry seed oil*, Vitamin E oil, Benzoin, Grapefruit, Lime*, Lavender* and Carotene
* Organic

My version is cocoa butter-based and the new version, shea butter, and there was no red raspberry seed oil previously. In any case, I'm pretty sure the current version is just as good, or even better, than before.

Mine had a subtle citrusy scent. Well, I did finish the lipbalm and I have to say that it is top-grade stuff. One good application keeps the lips nicely moisturised for several hours.

Vintage Compacts
We are after all talking about old stuff here. Andrea Garland assures us that all tins are washed, sterilised and lined (where appropriate) before they are filled.

Andrea Garland uses a big assortment of vintage containers: anything from Avon eyeshadow compacts from the 70s to ornate pill boxes and animal brooches. You have the sweet and elegant and then, you have the cute and kitsch. However, because these containers are vintage, some are one-offs and what you see on the website one day may not be available anymore some time later.


My lipbalm came in a goldtone Princess Pat rouge compact. It's small, only about 1.5 inches in diameter, and quite shallow. From what I can see, this compact with this design is not available on the site at the moment. Back then, this was how Andrea Garland described it:

Beautiful 1930's rouge Princess Pat goldtone compact with art deco design complete with a red, floral centre piece. Has a mirror inside and is full of lovely lip balm, a unique and novel way to store this vital beauty necessity.

I was quite disappointed that my Princess Pat compact did not have a mirror inside as stated on the website, so I wrote Andrea Garland Customer Service an email just to ask why that was. I was plainly curious. Ms Garland herself was quick in replying (thumbs up!) and in her email, she explained:

All the products are vintage and do vary individually, some do come with mirrors and some don't. The particular one on my website does have a mirror, the one that was sent to Amsterdam didn't. Mirrors unfortunately are not a standard feature as some mirrors are cracked when I get them and I have then have to remove them. Other mirrors don't make it through the cleaning process.

On wholesale orders to shops, I deliberately don't specify if they have mirrors or not as each item, because of the vintage nature, does vary slightly.


That was fair enough. The fact that my compact missed a mirror was unfortunate (there's some value shaved off) but I dwelled no further on that matter. My compact did come with the original rouge puff though!



The Reality
Okay, the Andrea Garland brand oozes charm. Heck, even the website looks homey and inviting. However, I should point out some not-so-charming aspects:

Price
This ain't cheap. You are essentially paying a premium because of the vintage container, so really, only a small portion of the price you're paying is for the lipbalm itself. My Lovely Lip Balm cost around [gulp] €27. It contained 5ml of lipbalm. I believe it was £22 on the website at that time.

Er, yes, what in the world was I thinking?!?! €27 for a lipbalm?! I plead temporary insanity.


So, then, I rationalised. You see, once the lipbalm is finished, you can actually send your empty vintage container back to Andrea Garland for a refill (waste not). The price of refills varies from product to product and from container to container. In my case, the ticket on the packaging says that a refill costs £5 (plus a couple of £'s for postage). So, the more times you use up the lipbalm and send in for refills, the lower would be the average cost of 'each' Andrea Garland Lovely Lip Balm. Correct?

Practicality
My compact closes with a light snap. However, it isn't the easiest to open, not because it shuts tightly but because the two parts to be pried open are so shallow that they are a bit hard to grip. This isn't a big issue but it is irritating at times. Of course, what I experienced with my compact may not necessarily apply to other compacts in the Andrea Garland collection.

Goop
The lipbalm is fairly solid, so it needs quite a bit of rubbing with the finger to melt it. I tend to go round and round in the pan to get the lipbalm on my finger but as a result, some melted lipbalm gets pushed outwards and ends up on the side of the compact. It needs to be wiped off quickly. I once left it as it was and due to contact with the metal of the compact, the odd bits of lipbalm turned into a greenish goop. Umm, it was not a pretty sight.


Because of the way the lipbalm is rubbed (round and round), it dents in the middle first, eventually forming a 'doughnut' shape. The greenish goop business does get worse over time. Having a gap between the metal pan and the compact doesn't help matters either.


Final Words Finally
I love the concept, I love that the brand is so eco- and vintage-chic and I love the lipbalm but perhaps the big question is: Will I send the compact back for a refill? (image right: cleaned empty compact)

The answer would be No. Frankly, I have mixed feelings about my purchase and in some ways I do regret buying it. On one hand, I now own a cool piece of vintage compact from the 1930s (I do collect antique and vintage stuff) but on the other hand, I didn't like how the compact held the lipbalm. I would rather keep the compact either for display or for storage of say, small items of jewellery.
By the way, vintage Princess Pat rouge compacts can be purchased online - just Google it up.


Further information:
The prices of the Andrea Garland Lovely Lip Balms range from £16 to £26. The Andrea Garland Rosy Facial Beauty Balms and Sore Muscle Balms are priced £30 and above (these are in much larger vintage containers).

If you are interested, you can buy them from:

Online
Andrea Garland website
Cult Beauty website (only a small selection left)

Store (Netherlands)
C. Cosmetics and Care (in Amsterdam)

Monday, 27 June 2011

Giveaway: MuLondon Natural Organic Moisturisers


This giveaway is closed. Thank you.

If you didn't know already, MuLondon is one of my favourite brands of natural organic moisturisers. They are handmade, highly concentrated (as they contain no water), paraben-free and vegan.

In the last year and a half, I have tried all five of its moisturisers:

• Organic Hemp
• Organic Rose
• Organic White Chocolate Truffle
• Organic Marigold, Frankincense and Myrrh
• Organic Lavender

Mind you, I'm not just paying lip service here. With the exception of the Organic Rose and the Organic Lavender Moisturisers which were samples sent with my online orders, the MuLondon moisturisers I have tried were my own purchase. In fact, I like them so much that I have also been buying them as gifts for my Mum, my Aunt and my friends.

I would love to give a few readers of Witoxicity a chance to try MuLondon's moisturisers themselves. So, I'm very pleased to say that Boris, the founder of MuLondon (and self-professed Head Cream Whipper), has agreed to sponsor another giveaway for my readers. Thank you very much, Boris!

There will be 3 winners with each winning one jar of moisturiser of his/her choice.

Image courtesy of MuLondon


Giveaway information in short:

1. Open worlwide.

2. Open to all who follow Witoxicity's writings.

Followers on Google Friend Connect or Bloglovin' receive one extra point.

- Google Friend Connect (one extra point)
- Bloglovin' (one extra point)
- RSS feeds
- Regular visitors

3. Information on the MuLondon moisturisers can be found here:

- MuLondon website
- All my posts on Brand: MuLondon.

4. Fill in the form below (now removed).

• Choose which MuLondon moisturiser you would like to win

• Tell Boris: Why would you like to try his moisturisers? / What makes MuLondon moisturisers unique?


5. Optional

Help spread the word about MuLondon, one extra point for each of the following:

• feature this giveaway on your blog. Feel free to include the photo above.

• feature this giveaway on your public Facebook.

• become a fan of MuLondon on Facebook.

• follow @Witoxicity on Twitter.

• follow @MuLondon on Twitter.

• tweet about this giveaway (with hashtag #mulondon) or tweet this:
Win it! 3 jars of #mulondon natural organic moisturisers are up for grabs @Witoxicity http://goo.gl/LYbs7


6. Submit your entry by latest 11.59pm (Central European Time) on Saturday, 16th July 2011.

7. Winners will be picked randomly.

Full giveaway details can be found here.

Good luck, everyone!



I have written about how I use the MuLondon moisturisers here.

More information:
MuLondon website

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Winners of Giveaway: Catrice Dark Elegance


Big thanks to all who participated in the Catrice Dark Elegance Giveaway. The response was overwhelming!

I spoke to my Mum on the phone this afternoon and based on the numbers she gave me, here are the two winners:

Package 1 - Purplelized, Iron Mermaiden, In The Bronx, Dirty Berry
• Stormayhlegj


Package 2 - Forget-Me-Not, Iron Mermaiden, In The Bronx, Dirty Berry
• Katie Eakins

Congratulations to the both of you! I will be sending you emails very soon. Please respond within 72 hours and if I don't hear from you in this time, I will have to pick another winner.

Hmmm, yes, perhaps you were expecting it. I have more.

Here's another winner whose name is picked from the list of ladies who took the time and trouble to leave a comment under one of my Catrice posts - Dirty Berry - up to the time of publication of this winner announcement. The prize is none other than a bottle of Dirty Berry.


As usual, I used The Hat to pick the winners. The ladies in the running were:


After shuffling the names around, The Hat picked this name to be the winner:


Well, I'm in a giving mood, so I've got one more to give away - In The Bronx. As before, the ladies in the running to win one bottle of In The Bronx are those who left comments under that post up to the time of publication of this winner announcement.


These are the names:


The names were shuffled around and the winner chosen by The Hat is:



Congratulations! Michelle and Toyomi, please contact me with your postal details and I will send your polishes out to you.

Note:
• Every care will be taken in sending out all the prizes but I will not be held responsible in the event that a package goes missing in transit or arrives damaged.
• The nail polishes are brand new and were my own purchase.


Once again, thank you to all who participated and to those who always take the time to drop me a line. I appreciate your comments very much.

More to come soon. Do stay tuned.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Adorned Nails: Catrice In The Bronx


I get more and more impressed with each new Catrice nail polish that I wear.

I've said it before and I will say it again: Catrice nail polishes come in 10ml bottles and they retail for €2.49 each (sometimes even less, when they are on special offer). You do get good value for your money. I take my hat off to Cosnova (which also owns Essence) for having done such a great job of revamping Catrice's collection (and brand image) last year. What used to be plain, staid and neglected is now oh-so-cool and much desired, especially its nail polishes.



The one I'm featuring here is gorgeous but I doubt it is unique though. It's a bronze foil. I wouldn't be surprised if you think this looks like a polish you have from other brands. As for me, In The Bronx reminds me of KOH Bronzation, minus the flakies.

Two coats would suffice. I did three coats here to get a deeper, darker shade of bronze. There was nothing unusual during or after application. Drying time was not an issue and durability was average. Basically, everything went smoothly.

Some sunlight photos:




Here's In The Bronx with my bronze singing bowl (again!).



See also Good Vibrations From A Singing Bowl and In Matte at Witoxichic.


Further reading:
My other Catrice nail polishes
Catrice website

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Teeez: Pink and Burgundy Eye Look



I wore this eye look the other day using the pink eyeshadow from Teeez. Since I haven't got deep-set eyes, I did my usual: darkened the outer edges, this time with burgundy and black eyeshadows from one of Sephora's old range of eyeshadow palettes.

I used:


L-R:
Teeez Silk Fantasy Eyeshadow - Smooth 11
Sephora Colorful Palette No. 04 (old range)
Teeez Liquid Eyeliner - Outta Control 09
GOSH Velvet Touch Eye Liner - Black Ink
Teeez Full & Flirty Volume Mascara
Note: The Silk Fantasy Eyeshadow and the Full & Flirty Volume Mascara were sent by Teeez.

L-R: Teeez Smooth 11, Sephora (burgundy, Black, White), Teeez Outta Control 09, GOSH Black Ink

It's a straightforward look:

Upper lid
• apply eyeshadow primer (not shown)
• pink on whole lid
• burgundy on the outer section
• just a bit of black on the outer corner
• a hint of white on the brow bone area.
• line with the purple liquid eyeliner
• tightline with black pencil eyeliner

Lower lid
• line inner one-third with the pink eyeshadow
• line outer two-thirds with the burgundy eyeshadow

curl lashes and apply mascara

As I was testing the Teeez eyeshadow at that time, I took a photo of the eye makeup about four and a half hours later. Little has changed with the pink eyeshadow. Creasing in the inner corner did start sometime after the five-hour mark.



Further reading:
My review of the Teeez Silk Fantasy Eyeshadow

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Adorned Nails: TheFaceShop Face It BL602



Here's another polish from the South Korean brand, TheFaceShop. As you may know, many Asian brands like to name their polishes with an abbreviation of the colour followed by a series of numbers. BL602, a blue, fits right in.

I received this a while back from the lovely Dina who, unfortunately, is taking a break from blogging. The long and the short of it is that it didn't start out as a swap, but it ended up being one. If you're reading this, Dina, thank you again!

I don't know from which collection this polish is because the BL602 currently shown on TheFaceShop website is a baby blue.

Describing this BL602 as just a metallic cobalt blue does it absolutely no justice. It's much more than that, really. You might have noticed it already. BL602 is a cobalt blue that glows purple.

It is a duochrome but the purple is very subtle on the nails. You see it and yet you don't see it. The purple is more obvious if you looked at the bottle.


The formula during application was fine (three coats here) but I had a lot of trouble with bubbling as it dried. I had to re-do a few nails because they had far too many bubbles. I thought I had waited long enough for each layer to dry (about 15 minutes) but apparently, that was not enough. Application of thinner layers and waiting 30 minutes between coats did help matters but I still noticed a random bubble here and there. And no, I didn't shake the bottle. Notice the bubbles on the middle finger (below).


Nevertheless, I think it's a gorgeous polish. In a holistic sense, it's a cobalt blue with purple aura.




More over at Witoxichic: Snake Chainmail Bracelet


Further reading:
My other TheFaceShop polish PK103 (pastel pink)
TheFaceShop website

Monday, 20 June 2011

Rituals: No. 01 Ginger Essence + White Tea Eau de Parfum


For months, I was torn between No. 01 and No. 04.

No. 01, which has ginger essence and white tea, is a powdery floral. No. 04, with violets and white lily, was more fruity sweet. I have lost count now how many times I had walked into a Rituals store to spritz, sniff and sometimes fan myself with the perfumes (in some Rituals stores, you can spritz a foldable paper fan with the perfume and fan yourself to take in a whiff of the scent).

Crunch time came last month. I couldn't put it off anymore as I was to receive it for my birthday. Well, it's obvious now which one made its way to the cashier.

For those who don't yet know, Rituals is a Dutch brand offering a range of mid-priced home and personal care products. This was how I described Rituals when I first wrote about the brand two years ago:

The premise of this brand is to transform everyday routines into little self-pampering rituals. It has looked mostly to the East to learn about ancient traditional rituals such as bathing, washing, massage, grooming and tea drinking, and it then developed products revolving around these rituals.

Rituals takes great pride in the fragrances that it infuses in its products and it does say that it has worked with the world's best perfumers. I suppose it's a natural progression for Rituals to launch its own line of perfumes, which it did end of 2010. The launching of the perfume line was timed to coincide with its 10th anniversary. Raymond Cloosterman actually started the Rituals brand in 1998 but it was in the year 2000 that the first ever Rituals store was opened (in Amsterdam).

The perfume collection consists of five perfumes for women and three for men. They were created by seven different world renowned perfumers (one of them created two - one each for the women's and the men's range). These perfumes are made with natural ingredients and are based on 100% organic alcohol.


Rituals No. 01 Ginger Essence and White Tea Eau de Parfum

Packaging
The box is clean-cut looking in black and white. It isn't immediately obvious but there is embossing on all facets of the box (except the bottom) that outlines the bottle inside. Even the grains of the wooden cap are reflected in the embossing. Clever.


The bottle also has a clean silhouette. It does remind one of Dolce & Gabbana's The One. The wooden cap gives it a rustic feel and different perfumes have different wood colours. The addition of a mirrored plate on the side with an engraving of the perfume name adds a nice, sleek touch.


Perfume
This is how the creator of No. 01, Jean-Pierre Béthouart, describes the perfume:

Imagine the soft shades of light in the morning, the skin is wrapped into a fresh, transparent and slightly aphrodisiac scented mist. A pure delight of White Tea combined with the powerful character of Ginger.

No. 01 opens boldly with an almost spicy kick of ginger, toned down only by the freshness of the white tea.

As it evaporates, the ginger turns pleasantly aromatic and gets enveloped in a cloud of floral sweetness. As a whole, it's citrusy. It's like men's after-shave, but feminised. The scent is fresh (thanks to the delicate white tea) but not to the point of being crisp (thanks to the full-bodied ginger).

On me, No. 01 dries down to a delicate powdery floral. The sweet ginger undertones never go away.

The perfume is moderately lasting. It's probably still there but it's not the kind that I can catch a whiff of at the end of the day. Its sweet freshness makes it something that I would wear in the daytime.


So, what made me choose No. 01 over No. 04?

Up till the last minute, I was quite sure that I would go for No. 04 as I do tend to fall for sweet, sensual scents. However, I felt that I should try something different this time and to be honest, I love the scent of ginger anyway (and I absolutely love cooking with ginger!). So, No. 01 was my little departure from the norm. I might go for No. 04 the next time.

The Rituals Eau de Parfums come in 50ml bottles and they retail for €39.90 each.

To view the other Rituals perfumes, including the men's range:
Rituals websites
- Dutch
- English (UK)

Friday, 17 June 2011

Adorned Nails: Catrice Dirty Berry



Dirty Berry is a simple but curious one.

It is lilac, lavender, blue and grey all thrown into one. In poor lighting, I would call it slate blue. I've got three coats on here.

Dirty Berry is not a bold holo. It is in fact so half-hearted that I wasn't even sure if it was one.

It looked like it had only silver micro-glitters just like with Forget-Me-Not. However, if you looked closely and if you viewed it at the right angle, you just might see the micro-prisms.



This is how Dirty Berry looks in very and I mean, very strong sunshine:





The ongoing Catrice Dark Elegance Giveaway features Dirty Berry.

Have a look at the gallery for my other Catrice nail polishes.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Teeez: Silk Fantasy Eyeshadow Review


My readers who do not live in the Netherlands probably know of Teeez only because of its awesome holographic nail polishes - Outta Control, Smooth and Cool.

Well, Dutch drugstore brand Teeez offers more than just nail polishes as they also have other items like eyeshadows, eyeliners and lipglosses in its range. A while back, I featured a hot pink liquid eyeliner that I bought together with the three holo polishes.

Frankly, Teeez has not been very well-known even here in the Netherlands. It isn't a new brand though. From what I've read, it's been around for a number of years but I think due to various reasons (eg: limited sales points and, some say, the so-so quality), it has not been as popular as some other drugstore brands.

Even my perception of the brand changed when I discovered their holographic nail polishes in the store. In some ways, this change in perception followed Teeez's own earlier image and product revamp. Now, its brand image seems to be one that's forward, cool and funky. Teeez also makes it a point to be dynamic by releasing a collection of four or five new products every three months. I've also noticed more effort on their part to reach out to Dutch bloggers.

Last month, Teeez sent me (and other Dutch beauty bloggers) some eye makeup products to review. They were mainly products from their new collection with a hip name, Hypnoteeez. Two of the items sent were these Silk Fantasy Eyeshadows - Smooth 11 (hot pink) and Free 09 (intense pigment green).



According to Teeez
Show your sparkling eyes with these silky soft eyeshadow. The dazzling colors are long lasting and super trendy!

Available in 8 colors.


Each of these retail for €4.79 (net weight: 3g).

Ingredients
The ingredients list is not found on the packaging. This is what I got from the head office:

Nylon-12, Polyethylene, Talc, Lauroyl Lysine, Zinc Stearate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Bis-Digylceryl Polyacyladipade-2, Isostearyl Isostearate, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Diissostearyl Malate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Trimethylsiloxyphenyl Dimethicone, Dimethicone, Tocopheryl Acetate, Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Butylparaben, Methylparaben, Propylparaben
May contain:
Mica, Titanium Dioxide CI 77891 D&C Red No. 6 C.I 15850 D&C Red No. 17 CI 45410:2 Iron Oxide Red CI 77491 Iron Oxide Yellow CI 77492 Iron Oxide Black CI 77499 Chromium Oxide Green CI 77288 FD&C Blue No.1 Al Lake CI 42090 FD&C Yellow No.5 Al Lake CI 19140 Carbon CI 77266 Ferric Ferrocyanide CI 77510


Packaging
They are plastic squares (4.5cm x 4.5cm). The casing feels light and cheap, and the only saving grace is the awesome colourful tattoo-like design on the cover.

They do come sealed (I mention this because not all budget/drugstore cosmetics here are sold sealed).


Eyeshadows
Swatches
Applied, Smooth 11 is a frosty hot pink and Free 09 a frosty almost-neon mint green.



Scent
They have a typical makeup scent, not noticeable during application. If anything, I actually think they smell like some mascaras.

Texture and Finish
Teeez got it right: the eyeshadows are silky but firm to the touch, almost like rubbing your finger on slippery styrofoam (I mean that in a good way). It is lightweight and has a frosty finish.

Pigmentation
Good pigmentation but needs an eyeshadow primer to bring the colours to life.

Application
Smooth application, allows for easy layering to build intensity. For these eyeshadows, I like using a sponge-tip applicator or my finger to apply.

With an eyeshadow primer, creasing was minimal except for the inner corner of my eyes (my usual problem area) some five-six hours later.

Overall
The quality and the colour payoff of these eyeshadows are pretty good for the low mid-range price of €4.79 but you would need to like frost finish to like these.

Here's a simple summery eye look with these two colours (not intensely applied). I used:


L-R
Teeez Silk Fantasy Eyeshadow - Smooth 11
Teeez Silk Fantasy Eyeshadow - Free 09
Teeez Liquid Eyeliner - Outta Control 09 (my own purchase)
GOSH Velvet Touch Eye Liner - Funky Violet
Stila Smudge Pots Gel Eye Liner - Black
Teeez Full & Flirty Volume Mascara (also sent by Teeez)



More informaton:
All my posts on Brand: Teeez
Teeez Cosmetics website
Teeez is available in some countries in Europe. Please check the website for details.