Thursday, 29 December 2011

Adorned Nails: Glam Silver French Tips


When it comes to blue nail polishes, there are four that I've come across so far that are swoon-worthy:

Sephora Blue Sapphire P07 (blue jelly with glitters)
Teeez Cool (blue holo)
KOH Blue Universe (blue with flakies)
TheFaceShop Face It BL602 (blue/purple duochrome)


Shown here is Sephora Blue Sapphire P07 glammed up with silver French tips. I think this would be a cool nail look for a New Year's Eve party. Best of all, it's so easy: just apply a couple of coats of the blue jelly and then apply a thin strip of silver at the tips.


For this, I prefer to free-hand it. A tip painter with a fine brush would be handy (just paint across the nail). If you haven't got that, you could use any silver polish with a conventional brush and do a few strokes in the direction of the nail tips. Here, I've used the silver Essence Multiglitter Tip Painter.

Seal your handiwork with a top coat and you're done!


More photos: Bathed In Light

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

KOH: Body Skin Sensation Review



I like the techie design of this canister. I can easily imagine someone in a lab coat and with cryoprotective gloves and a full-face shield gently removing a mini cryovial from this 8.5" tall liquid nitrogen storage vessel.


Okay, that's not what it is.

You already know it's a beauty product: KOH Body Skin Sensation. I've heard it being referred to as a body mist at the KOH Experience Shop and so I thought it was something you would just spritz on your body and you're done. KOH had kindly passed me a sample of Body Skin Sensation a while back to try out and I have to say, even though you do spritz it, the liquid doesn't exactly disperse in fine droplets, like body mists do. Instead, it is a bit like pumping out some lightweight low-viscous body lotion. You would get a runny blob out and you would spread that on your skin.


Then, you would notice two things:

• the scent
It has the swwwweet heavy fragrance that is typical across the KOH Body Sensations range of products. The KOH Body Sensations line features extracts of the cherry blossom and this product is no exception. I like the scent - it's floral candy sweet, very feminine and sensual - and it stays on for several hours. The scent turns mildly powdery over time and its ever-present floral sweetness gradually becomes a low unobtrusive hum.

• the texture
After rubbing/applying it on the skin, you will notice how smooth the skin feels, like you have put on a thin layer of invisible glove. The silky smooth effect that it leaves on the skin is very similar to the effect that one gets after applying the KOH Sensational Silk Experience, a handcare product that has anti-ageing properties. I don't have this latter product but I have tried it before during a promotion at the KOH Experience Shop.



I had a look at the list of ingredients found at the bottom of this KOH Body Skin Sensation bottle and it says that it has silk powder:

Cyclopentasiloxane, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, 100% silk powder, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate, Isopropyl Myristate, Prunus Avium Extract, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Limonene, Eugenol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxycitronellal, Hydroxysohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Linalool, Alpha-isomethylionone

I've been using it mainly on my hands/arms and my neck. I know it smells and feels nice but try to resist getting overzealous with application. Applying too much can leave a thin, faintly conspicuous, white, powdery layer on the skin. It could be the silk powder. So, go easy on the application. A thin layer would do.


I haven't got the product blurb for Body Skin Sensation - my sample came in a black velvet KOH drawstring bag - and I don't see this product on the KOH website either. As far as I know, it is not available in KOH's external retail points (eg: parfumerie stores). You will find Body Skin Sensation in the KOH Experience Shops in Amsterdam and Eindhoven. The price in October was €69.95 (200ml) but it would be best to check for the latest offer/price if you happen to drop by any of the KOH shops.


I've been using it for two months and I can't say at this point that it's a moisturising product. It's probably not meant to be one anyway. The emphasis is really on the fragrance and the silky smooth effect on the skin. Perhaps in the long run, it will have an anti-ageing effect on the skin due to the presence of silk powder in the formula.

To find out more about silk in beauty products: Usual Unusual Ingredients - Silk

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Wishes



Prettige Kerstdagen!

Have a Blessed Christmas, everyone! Eat plenty and be merry!

Adorned Nails: Teeez Gutsy 05



This is what I'm wearing on my nails this Christmas. It is far from a typical Christmas look but that's fine. I'd been wanting to give sponging/gradation another shot anyway (the only time I had ever tried this was more than a year ago).


This is Gutsy (05), a fairly new polish from Teeez. It's a nude peach with subtle shimmer. With its thick formula, it was possible to get by with one thick coat. On a couple of nails, I have one coat on, on others two.

Dutch brand Teeez launched a new collection last month called Boudoir Secrets, which included a range of lipglosses, eyeliners, mascaras and, of course, nail polishes. Teeez kindly sent out samples of these to some Dutch ladies recently, including myself, so this is the first of the items to be featured.


As you can see, the nail polish bottle looks different from before (surely you remember the awesome holos - Outta Control, Smooth and Cool).

Anyway, these are the items I used for this gradation mani:


L-R:
Teeez Gutsy 05
HEMA High Shine Nailpolish 08 (brown shimmer)
Essence Grand-Plié in Black (black with red glitters)
Etude House gradation sponge


The ornate design you see on the cap is really a sticker. I think it would have been nicer if the print were incorporated into the cap though.



Retail price: €4.90


More information
Teeez Cosmetics website

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Adorned Nails: Essence Cotton Candy



The crazy Essence trend edition mill keeps churning!

Most of the items from the Essence Circus Circus trend edition were gone by the time I got to the store(s) but I managed to get my hands on two of the nail polish duos. The shades that I prefer were, unfortunately, already sold out. If the circus did come to your town, I hope you had better luck.

Nail polish duos aren't new but they are new to me. The product design is similar to what you would have seen before in lipglosses and mascaras. Here, you get two different nail polishes in one 'stick'. With this duo, the premise is that you can apply the individual polishes or you can combine the two however you want via, say, layering. Well, in reality, you can do the same with whatever polishes you already possess - the sky's the limit - but what Essence has done is just making it convenient (to carry around). It's a cute thing to have.


This is Essence Cotton Candy. For the base layer, I applied one coat of the bright girly pink crème polish. I could have left it at that but oiii, of course, I wouldn't neglect the other bling-bling half!


The other half is just pink/fuchsia glitters in pinky clear polish. Layering this on the pink crème polish will give you instant party glam fuchsia nails. It's a gaudy, eye-catching combination befitting the circus and is perfect for the Party Barbie in you.


As is usual of Essence, these nail polish duos are reasonably priced: €2.79 for 2x4ml.


More information:
Circus Circus on the Essence Cosmetics website

Monday, 19 December 2011

Aleppo Soap - Syria



The first thing that comes to mind when one sees this is most probably the word "crude". It looks unfinished, imperfect and unelegant, not at all like those cookiecutter-perfect factory-made products in eyecatching, stylish packaging that we've all grown accustomed to today.

I suppose if I told you that I bought this bar (block?) of soap from an old lady at a roadside stall somewhere in Syria, you'd believe me. I mean, come on, take a look at the rudimentary packaging that it came in:


The truth is, I bought this here in the Netherlands in a store that sells mainly cooking utensils and homeware. As usual, I was simply curious when I saw these chunks of soap. All that I had to go on with was the stamp on the soap - some Arabic words, "Laurel Olive Oil", 3, R and 1937 - and a very short description on a card where the soaps were displayed (all I remember now is the word 'Aleppo').


At home, I did some checking and found out that this soap was highly likely made by a family-run business called Fadel Fadel Sons in Syria. I came to this conclusion based on a comparison of the stamp on my block of soap with some images found online.

I found some basic information on Fadel Fadel Sons (established in 1937) on Alibaba.com, the Chinese business-to-business trade website. Fadel Fadel Sons calls this soap Aleppo Ghar Soap (Ghar - traditional Aleppo soap) and it appears that these days, they sell their soaps in much nicer-looking packaging - hey, printed boxes! I bought mine almost two years ago, so I don't know, perhaps they didn't put them in proper boxes then. The thought that my piece of soap may be a fake did cross my mind but I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt.



Here's what Fadel Fadel Sons says about their Aleppo Ghar Soap (excerpts):

• not produced by engineers or “fashion designers” in a uniform shape like most other commercially available soaps.
• made from pure virgin olive oil and pure (bay) laurel leaf oil.
• mild enough for everyday use.
• is made of 100% natural ingredients offering the highest level of responsible hygienic care, nourishment and protection for the skin.
• totally biodegradable.
• does not contain any animal fat, coloring materials, added perfume, acid, antioxidant, chemical or synthetic derivative.


It's a good thing that Fadel Fadel Sons also included the soap's list of ingredients on the trade website.

Ingredients:
Virgin olive oil, pure laurel leaf oil, soda (extracted from sea salt), water

I had wondered what the R on the stamp stood for and it turns out that it's actually ®, registered trademark sign. The company emphasises the following:

There are several factories in Aleppo that produce soaps containing palm oil, animal fats and artificial coloring. The registered trademark "Fadel Fadel Sons" guarantees its soap is made exclusively from olive oil, laurel leaf oil, and soda (extracted from sea salt).

I had read that these Aleppo soaps won't dry your skin out. On hindsight, I must have had unrealistic expectations as I thought I could kiss my body moisturisers goodbye. I experimented with that for three weeks and totally stayed away from body lotions etc. Unfortunately, it was in the colder, drier months and my skin became way too dry. I decided that I didn't like the soap and promptly put it away.

Well, about two months ago, I took the piece of soap out to use again but this time, I retained my usual routine of applying body moisturiser after a shower. I had better results this time. They say that it can be used on the face too but I haven't tried that.

Here are my observations:

• If you're used to gripping flat bars of soap, lathering yourself with this chunk of soap would take some getting used to.
• It smells raw, green, earthy and.....funny.
• It lathers well enough.
• The skin does feel squeaky clean afterwards.
• Unless you live in a hot and humid country, I'd recommend still using a body moisturiser after your shower.
• Due to the time given for the soaps to dry and mature - almost a year - before they are packaged for sale, the outer part of the soap is golden brown and the inside, green (which is the original colour).


I paid around €6 for my block of soap. I believe it was a 200g block. I'm still on the fence about this Aleppo soap but I will say that my interest has been piqued. I think Fadel Fadel Sons makes several versions of this soap by varying the ratio between the olive oil and laurel leaf oil ingredients. The higher the proportion of laurel leaf oil, the higher the price. I have absolutely no idea what the ratio for my block of soap is. Perhaps the number 3 refers to which version of soap it is.

If you're looking for "pretty" (pretty in appearance and in smell), then the Aleppo soap won't be for you.

Personally, I'd like to try more Aleppo soaps in the future (it makes a nice change from the usual shower creams/gels). The store where I bought this one from no longer stocks this, so I'll have to find other sources.


Some interesting bits:
• Aleppo is a city in Syria.
• Aleppo soaps have been used for many, many centuries. It is said to be the first hard soap ever created.
• Other names: laurel soap, ghar soap, savon d'Alep
• Place the soap in the cupboad/wardrobe to deter moths

Have a read on how Aleppo soaps are made.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Adorned Nails: Stage Extreme


I wrote about Stage Cosmetics back in May when I featured one of its eyeshadow palettes. I was on holiday last year and along with the eyeshadow palette, I also bought this bottle of nail polish. Of all the polishes on display in the store, I thought this was the only one which stood out. The rest seemed, well, ordinary.

Indoors

This bottle of Stage nail polish has been christened Extreme. I just checked the brand's website and it appears that all the polishes have been given single-worded names, adjectives eg: Delicate, Luscious, Fascinating, Majestic, Innocent.....you get the idea. So, really, compared to the rest, this polish I've got would be considered pretty "off the charts".

I've got two coats on here and I really like the formula. The polish applied very well.


I would describe Extreme as a very dark brown crème dense with fine brassy golden shimmer. I have to say, Extreme bears some resemblance to Catrice Welcome To The Jungle. It's almost a dupe. Extreme glows green-brassy-gold and while Welcome To The Jungle has a similar colour, its shimmers are somewhat subdued compared to those of Extreme. Essence Gold Old Buffy could also be Extreme's cousin but the former looks more rugged with bigger specks of shimmer/micro glitters.


If I recall correctly, I paid the equivalent of about €9 for this 11ml bottle of polish. You probably would have noticed - the bottle has a double-cap, like Chanel polishes.


More information:
My posts on Brand: Stage
Stage Cosmetics website

Thursday, 15 December 2011

No7: Stay Perfect Mini Trio Eye Shadow Palettes Review


Here in the Netherlands, the drugstores that we frequently visit are Kruidvat and Etos (the former, especially, is ubiquitous!). For those in the UK, that's quite like your Boots and Superdrug stores.

Over here, Boots stores are quite a novelty. I mentioned Boots early last year in my Beauty Shopping In The Netherlands: Drugstores post. To cut a long story short, Boots had been in the Netherlands before in the 1990s, then left us and returned in early 2009. When I wrote that abovementioned post, there were only five Boots stores here. Almost two years later, they've grown to about 20 stores throughout the country.

The Boots store that I've been to is a fairly small one, a cosy neighbourhood pharmacy/drugstore. The range isn't huge but it has got No7 and Botanics products. I walked into the store a few weeks back and I saw some really pretty makeup palettes from No7. They are from the Christmas collection and ladies in the UK would surely have seen these in the local Boots stores.

I bought this set: No7 Mini Eye Palettes.


Aren't the eyeshadow palettes pretty? They are laminated cardboard palettes with covers that swivel open. They are small, measuring only 4.5cm x 8.5cm.


This giftset is made up of smaller versions of products that are in No7's existing range. It consists of:

• No7 Stay Perfect™ Eye Shadow Trio Palettes (Cappuccino, Twilight, Beside the Sea)
• No7 Intense Volume Mascara Black
• No7 Amazing Eye Pencil Black
• No7 Amazing Eye Pencil Brown


I had never tried No7 products before, even back in the old days when I had easy access to Boots. I'm shamelessly saying that, this time around, I was plainly sold on the cute packaging.


I've decided to split this feature into several posts. I will also write about the eye pencils but I doubt I will do a post on the mascara anytime soon. I won't start using this new mascara until I've finished my existing ones (must be disciplined!).

Mini Trio Eye Shadow Palettes
Here, we'll take a look at the three cute trio eyeshadow palettes. These three colour combinations - Cappuccino, Twilight and Beside The Sea - are mini versions of the No7 Stay Perfect Trio Eye Shadow Palettes that are in the main collection (housed in round/oblong black palettes). The applicators that come in these mini palettes are tiny. The sponge isn't too bad but the handle is ridiculously short, 2cm (in order to fit inside the palette).

Swatches with eyeshadow primer

Columns, L-R:
Cappuccino
The browns: skintone beige (mine), taupey brown, golden brown (all with fine shimmers)

Twilight
The black&whites: white, silvery grey, matte black

Beside The Sea
The blues: grey-ish white, light aqua, medium blue (all with fine shimmers)

These eyeshadows are hypoallergenic.

Ingredients




Quality
In general, the eyeshadows do crumble a bit and their pigmentation is so-so (it's nowhere near excellent). You definitely need a good eyeshadow base for them. It took a while to get past the imprint (for a while, all I was getting were disappointing ashy, chalky shades). Of these three palettes, I think Cappuccino performed the best. The darkest shade, golden brown is gorgeous and the most pigmented. In the blue set, Beside The Sea, the pigmentation of the middle shade could be improved on.


The black&white palette, Twilight, was the worst performer. The white is fine but the silvery grey is half-dead and the black is weak. When I see black, I'd like a black black, please.

So, bottomline, I find the quality of these eyeshadows just average (to below average for Twilight). Cappuccino, though, is a good one.

Price
This giftset is priced at €17.95. Just like in Boots in the UK, Boots Netherlands is now also holding a 3 for 2 Christmas offer on giftsets. I got two other products from Botanics to take advantage of this offer.


I don't know if this specific set is available in the Boots physical stores in the UK. I see a similar set on its website. It has the Classic Matte, Good Earth, Beside The Sea mini trio eyeshadow palettes, the same two eye pencils and the No7 Extreme Length Mascara. It's called the No7 Smoky Eye Trio. Price: £16.00.

For Dutch ladies, there is now a Boots online shop. There are a few other palettes available - with different combinations of products including lipglosses and nail polishes.

More information:
Boots Nederland website
Boots UK website

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

KOH: Vintage Jeans Collection - Sneak Peek


This is a sneak peek of what KOH will be releasing early next year - The Vintage Jeans Collection. There isn't any press release on this yet (not as far as I know) but let's all have a look at the polishes.


I've been granted permission to take photos of the bottles and KOH was kind enough to pass me a nail wheel pre-painted with these six polishes. I haven't got the bottles myself to show you these bluesy, grungy polishes on my nails, so you'd have to make do with swatches on the nail wheel.

Note: This KOH Vintage Jeans Collection is not to be confused with the KOH Jeans Collection which were in stores middle of this year. The Jeans Collection was put together to shine the spotlight on some of the blue KOH polishes in the permanent collection. The KOH Vintage Jeans Collection is made up of newly created polishes.

The six Vintage Jeans polishes are:


L-R
KOH Rock Chick
KOH Romantic Flair
KOH Bohemian Chic
KOH Casual Blue
KOH Grungy Touch
KOH Urban Style

L-R: Rock Chick, Romantic Flair, Bohemian Chic

With flash photography


L-R: Casual Blue, Grungy Touch, Urban Style

With flash photography

Daylight photography - Top: Urban Style; Bottom: Grungy Touch

I believe they have been trialling KOH Rock Chick in the last couple of months in the KOH Experience Shop in Amsterdam (and probably in Eindhoven too). I remember being shown this shade there in October but at that time, it was still a nameless polish. Check out the third and the fifth photo in my post, KOH Experience Shop: New Look, and see if you can spot that cobalt blue amongst the existing KOH polishes on that Wall of Joyful Colours.

The release date of the KOH Vintage Jeans Collection is still unknown.


Update
Here are the links to my KOH Vintage Jeans swatches: