Christmas Greetings

This picture was taken in my garden this week. It was a lovely day. The sun was out and the sky was blue. I wish I could say that the Christmas ornament grew on my tree but no, it was grown in IKEA or rather, perhaps somewhere in Asia!

For some of you, it’s still Christmas eve while for some others, it's already Christmas morning. It’s past midnight here in the Low Lands. This is my first blog Christmas, so it’s only appropriate that I send my warmest and fondest Christmas wishes to all my lovely readers and beauty blog comrades.

Stay safe and be joyous. Enjoy the holidays and have a very Merry Christmas!!

Vanity in the Dark: GOSH Light'N Shine Lip Glaze

Super glossy lips and I haven’t even turned on the lights! And if you’re, this isn’t with flash photography.

Illuminating Product No. 2
GOSH Light’N Shine Lip Glaze
Shade: 02 Pink
Volume and Price: 6ml / 0.2 US fl oz for €7.99

I like this lip gloss. It’s very pigmented and, as you can see, the gloss factor has been cranked up to the max. Sensuous, dare I say? GOSH calls it “High Shine” and they really aren’t kidding! You can actually see the tiny specks of glitter in the gloss as well.

It smells slightly sweet and it leaves a pleasant jelly texture on the lips. Well, at least for me it was pleasant. It’s a tiny bit sticky, but nothing annoying. It wears off after a couple of hours, so re-application would be necessary, unless you’re fine with the by-then dulled gloss.

What I love most is this shade that I’ve chosen. It’s a shade that makes a statement, what I would call a cross between fuschia and red.

Of course, there are the lights that come on when you twist open the handle. Better still, there is a mirror on the side of the tube too. Now you have every excuse to indulge in your vanity in the dark!

Sharing the Fun
Ah yes, I’m sharing the fun with these two products featured under the Vanity in the Dark posts. The other product – Etos All in One Party Colour Kit – was featured in a separate post, just before this one. I went back to the stores to get another set of these products and will be giving them away to one lucky lady. This is open to all who are following my journey (as seen on Google Friend Connect), so, of course, it’s open internationally!

If you are following my journey privately, I respect your wish for privacy.

To participate in Sharing the Fun, I present you with two options:

Option 1
Please leave a relevant comment under this post and a relevant comment under the previous post, Vanity in the Dark: Etos All in One Party Colour Kit. It would only be fair to give you two entries for your extra effort.

Option 2
You may leave a relevant comment under one of the two Vanity in the Dark posts but this will give you only one entry.

The choice is yours. If you have already commented on the previous Vanity in the Dark post, then you would have already chalked up one entry! Me, sneaky? Nooo!

Comment like how you normally would if there wasn’t a giveaway but please, relevant comments only. Comments about, say, the horrendous weather in the North Pool will not be taken into consideration. Please let me know via email if you’re unclear about anything.

You have until Saturday 9th January 2010 11.59pm (Central European Time) to leave your comment(s). One winner will be chosen randomly by the Mummy Number Generator and I will announce the winner sometime on Sunday 10th January which also happens to be my Mum’s birthday!

If you’re befuddled and are wondering what a Mummy Number Generator is or why I’m doing this, then perhaps you missed my Sharing the Fun, Sharing the Love post. And if you have only just joined me on my journey of beauty awakening, I bid you welcome!

Right, enough said! Good luck, my lovely companions!

Vanity in the Dark: Etos All in One Party Colour Kit

Sure, I’ve been making an effort to widen my eyeshadow horizon to something beyond brown, brown and brown. But electric blue?! Blimey, of all the colours to choose from, how in the world did I end up with this?

I bought this at a local drugstore not expecting much and not realising that I already had something similar from NARS. I had swatched the eyeshadows at the store. The blue eyeshadow wasn’t too bad, I thought. It was a dull blue shade. The gorgeous aubergine shade which held so much promise was, however, a total disappointment in the swatch. It was half-dead and lacking in pigmentation.

Still, I bought it, together with a lip gloss. And why? Because I’m a sucker for gimmicks.

Gimmicks do wonders to distort your rational thinking, no?

Blinded by the lights, you could say. Well, you must admit that they do look cool in the dark. I can see the lights coming handy when you need to touch up your makeup while clubbing, or if you’re rummaging through the dark abyss that is your handbag looking for your keys (let’s just assume your phone battery’s dead), or perhaps if there’s a city-wide power blackout.

Now, I will feature the lights...I mean, products, with a bit more detail:

Illuminating Product No. 1
Etos All in One Party Colour Kit
Price: €5.99

Etos (pronounced ay-tos) is a Dutch drugstore chain that also has its own makeup line under the same name. They released this colour kit about a month ago and as you would have noted from its name, it has all you might need to make up your face, except for a foundation. There are two eyeshadow shades, one lipgloss and a blush. On the back of the slide-out box, you are shown pictorially which one’s which.

There are three variations available and the one I bought was for brown hair. Quite frankly, I don’t really care much about that. What matters is that I like the colour combination found in that particular kit.

I know I panned the eyeshadows but I gave it another chance when I got home. Lo and behold, this is what I got with a sticky eyeshadow base (swatches in daylight):

There are hints of shimmer in the eyeshadows. The blue is like electric blue and the aubergine finally showed its worth. The eye makeup pictured at the beginning was created with only these two eyeshadows using the sponge applicator provided and some mascara. I lined the eyes with the aubergine shade using the other end of the applicator.

I must say that this gets quite close to being a dupe for the NARS eyeshadow duo called Demon Lover. Here’s the comparison:

Top row: Etos, Bottom row: NARS Demon Lover
Swatches in three swipes with eyeshadow base and with flash photography

It’s close, but not a total dupe. The Etos shades have a slight hint of glitter. The dark purple shade in NARS which they describe as deep indigo is a tad more intense but the blue shade in Etos is certainly brighter. I don’t know if it is too much for you, but I do like that pop of blue.

Pigmentation aside, I’m quite impressed with the quality of these Etos eyeshadows. They veer slightly towards the creamy side and the best thing is that they don’t crumble, which in turn means that there is hardly any fallout.

The lipgloss (bottom right) is a bright tomato red. Personally, it’s got the consistency of a lipstick and not a lipgloss. It smells rather like vanilla. I usually just tap it on the lips for a hint of colour. I would add more colour for redder lips.

The blush (bottom left) has a creamy consistency and is a coral shade. The swatch above has been slightly blended out. It may look orangey, but once blended out, I think it would give the wearer a subtle glow on the cheeks.

Oh, most importantly, the light switch is right next to the equally handy mirror, on the right, somewhere above the blue eyeshadow.

Overall, I'd say it's a pretty good product. The packaging is basic but, for the price, I can't complain. The lights and the eyeshadows were the reason why I bought this kit and I'm glad that, with a good base, the eyeshadows performed above expectations.

Next up, the illuminating lip gloss. Oh hey, I'm sharing the fun there.........

Sharing the Fun, Sharing the Love

This is a heads up for all the lovely ladies who have joined me on my journey of beauty awakening. To all of you who’ve been following my progress so far, I thank you for keeping me company on this journey that has so far turned out to be a lot more colourful than I had expected. If you’ve ever read my early posts, you would know that I was inspired to make a foray into the quirky world of beauty blogging after coming third in a contest held by the beautiful and talented Gail of oogle makeup. I honestly believe that if it wasn’t for this turn of events, I would not be sitting here writing this!

It is ironic that I myself have never held a giveaway for you before but that, ladies, is about to change. As my way of showing my appreciation to all those who are taking this journey with me (um, Blogger prefers to call you followers), I will be starting a giveaway of my own very soon. To be more specific, I will be holding little giveaways every now and then. It isn’t exactly for the holiday season as it will be on an ongoing basis.

There will be times when the giveaway will be a straight-out giveaway which you would be able to tell from the title. That needs no further explanation as it’s the norm of the norm, right?

However, sometimes, the giveaway would be coupled to a post, which could mean that you may not know about it unless you read the whole post (and no, I don’t mean simply scrolling down) because I may not announce it in the title (let’s do something different here!). Seriously, I think if you take the trouble to read my posts, you could then be rewarded with a chance of winning something that is written about in that post! However, I know, I know, we all lead busy lives and we need reminders. So I will make sure to include a little reminder somewhere on the homepage.

The premise is simple. These little giveaways will cover a range of products, anything from drugstore and upwards. Some will be Dutch brands and some not. Some are for fun, and some are huge loves of mine. I’m also aware that there are makeup products that are not available outside of the Netherlands, so I thought it would be great to sometimes feature these items in my giveaways. I will be christening these giveaways Sharing the Fun and/or Sharing the Love because that is essentially what it’s all about!

Oh, by the way, the winners will be picked randomly but I won’t be using as my number generator. This may sound odd to you, but I’ve asked my darling mother to be my random number generator and even odder still, she has actually agreed (Thanks, Mum!). My mum doesn’t live within a half hour’s drive from me but she is just a phone call away. I won’t be able to show you the number(s) she picks by way of a photo or a screen shot of the number generation, but hey, would I lie about my mother?!

Thank you very much for your support and for reading this post right to the end. So, do keep your eyes peeled. You have been forewarned, my lovely companions!

The Usual Unusual Ingredients - Silk

I think it’s time to switch the pace a bit and return to my series featuring noteworthy ingredients, what I call The Usual Unusual Ingredients. Having written about gemstones in beauty products in my first edition of the series, let’s now explore the world of lovely, luxurious silk. Well, lovely and luxurious isn’t exactly how one would describe its creation though.

As you must already know, silk comes from silkworms, in particular the caterpillars of the bombyx mori moth. After an intensive diet of mulberry leaves lasting about a month, these silkworms wrap themselves in a cocoon of silk fibres in preparation for transforming into moths. Only, that is not to be, as these cocoon-wrapped pupae are steamed or baked before they can break out and destroy the silk cocoons.


No wonder Mahatma Gandhi was against sericulture, a word used to refer to the cultivation of silkworms to produce silk. That was why he preferred cotton spinning and the Ahimsa silk, which is silk obtained from a certain wild silkworm. Here, no killing of pupae is involved as nature is allowed to follow its course – they are allowed to fully develop into moths and break out of the cocoons. However, they say that the quality of this silk is inferior to that of the bombyx mori.

Silk was first discovered in China and as legend has it – in much the same way as how tea was discovered – by someone sitting under a tree with a pot of hot water. Apparently in 2640 BC, a cocoon dropped from a mulberry tree into Princess Xi Ling Shi’s pot. The hot water loosened the cocoon. The princess picked it up and seeing a loose fibre, started to unravel the cocoon. The fibre seemed endless in length and it was exceptionally strong. This intrigued the princess so much that further studies were ordered to learn more about this fascinating fibre, the life cycle of the moth and techniques of reeling and making silk yarn. This, they say, marked the beginning of sericulture.

For 3,000 years, the production of silk was China’s best kept secret. At one point, disclosing the secret and smuggling out silk cocoons were punishable by death. Those in foreign lands were fascinated with this fabric but had no clue as to its origins. There are tales of how the secret finally escaped China through smuggling. One involved a Chinese princess who smuggled a cocoon in her elaborate hairdo on her way to be wed to a foreign prince. Another tale tells of two travelling monks who smuggled silkworm eggs in their walking staff under the order of Emperor Justinian of Constantinople.

Close-up image of a Chinese painting on silk

Other than silk as fabric, it is also widely used in beauty products and lately, even food! Silk has been used for centuries in some Asian cultures for beauty and medicinal purposes. The ancient Chinese applied silk powder on their faces to reduce pigmentation. It is said that they also used the silk cocoons to dress wounds because of their healing properties on skin. In India, silk powder together with raw silk gloves were and still are used in Ayurveda massages.

Silk has certainly come a long way since then and so has mankind’s understanding of the nature and the uses of silk. Silk is super-rich in protein, containing all kinds of amino acids, many of which are essential for the human body. Without getting too technical, a cross-section of a silk fibre would show a core called fibroin and a layer around it called sericin. Silk, in particular fibroin, isn’t water-soluble. This was a conundrum for silk researchers until a breakthrough was discovered in one of the oldest cosmetics companies in Japan: Kanebo.

Kanebo had its humble beginnings as a cotton trading company in 1887. Less than two decades later, it moved into the production of silk thread. In the years that followed, it was noticed that the women who worked with silk in the factories had beautiful smooth and youthful hands. That sparked a research by Kanebo into the effects of silk on the skin. The research culminated in the introduction in 1936 of its first cosmetic product, a silk-based soap called Savon de Soie.

Kanebo’s expertise in silk is unsurpassed and in the 1970s, the company pioneered the technology of making silk soluble in water – resulting in hydrolysed silk – which paved the way for countless applications of silk in beauty products.

Silk remains one of the key ingredients in many of Kanebo’s products. Among the many brands under the Kanebo corporate name is the premium brand, SENSAI. SENSAI was developed by Kanebo specially as an anti-aging brand with a family of products catered to women from the late twenties, wishing to ward off early signs of aging, to middle-aged and older women who want to address the signs of aging. The brand uses silk produced by the Koishimaru silkworms. This silk was reserved exclusively for use by the Japanese Royal Family and Kanebo is the only company in the world allowed to use this silk commercially.

Today, Kanebo is by no means the only cosmetics company offering beauty products containing silk. Farouk BioSilk hair products contain hydrolysed silk which gives hair vitality and shine. St Ives has the Softening Whipped Silk Lotion that has a blend of silk proteins. Laura Mercier has the Silk Crème Foundation which contains silk powder (serica). There is also Dove Silk Glow Beauty Body Lotion which has serica and hydrolysed silk as skin conditioning agents. And the list goes on but then again, beware. Just because a product has the word 'silk' in its name, it doesn't always mean that it actually contains silk.

I’ve noticed that silk as ingredients in beauty products come in many names. I don’t claim to be an expert here but this is the little that I’ve been able to decipher in simple terms:

· Serica – silk powder, ie finely pulverised silk
· Sericin – the protein-rich gum that holds the raw silk fibres (fibroin) together and is water-soluble
· Hydrolysed silk – large molecular silk proteins of the fibroin that are broken down into smaller sizes, thus making them water-soluble, easier to incorporate into beauty products and absorbed into the skin.

So, what is it about silk that is so special? The properties and workings of silk on the skin read like a dream:

· Hydration – Silk has the ability to attract moisture from the air and regulate the skin’s natural moisture level according to the surroundings.

· Air-permeable – Silk allows the skin to breathe.

· Anti-aging – Silk promotes the skin’s synthesis of hyaluronic acid, touted to be a wonder in the fight against skin aging, thereby increasing the firmness of the skin.

· Anti-inflammatory – Silk has anti-bacterial properties and is said to work great against acne.

· Reduce pigmentation – Silk decelerates the production of melanin.

· Primer – Silk powder can be used as an excellent foundation primer and it can absorb excessive oil.

· Glow – Silk makes the skin look lustrous and gives hair shine.

· Sunscreen – Silk protects the skin against UV radiation and in the olden days, it was used as relief for sunburn.

There are critics who say that changing the molecular structure of silk through hydrolysis renders it less effective than silk in its natural form. Moreover, silk proteins don’t adhere very well to the hair and skin especially if the silk is in a product that you would wash off, like in a shower cream or shampoo. This could mean that the wonderful effects of silk on skin or hair mentioned above could be negated. Experts say that if a product with hydrolysed silk works, then it could be more attributed to the formula as a whole and not just the silk. Hmm, perhaps it would be better to just buy plain silk powder then!

Anyway, I’m off now to find me a tree (with no birds!) to sit under with a cup of tea. Who knows what I might discover in my cup!

Green, Glamorous and Glittery from a Gorgeous Girl Named Georgie

My fascination with green nail polishes continues. Here is my first ever nail polish from Barry M, Mint Green No. 304 (I'm so behind, I know!), which they say is a dupe for Chanel’s Jade. Personally, this is almost how I would imagine it to be if a celadon vase went insanely neon. Honestly, this colour looks neon-ish in low lighting!

I’m chuffed! Christmas came early this year thanks to dear Georgie of Dreams That Glitter. She had a giveaway recently and yours truly was lucky enough to be picked! Her goodies arrived a few days ago and imagine my surprise when I emptied the envelope.....

I was so impressed with the effort that she put into individually wrapping the three items, complete with organza pouches plus a cute little card urging us all to never give up on the quest for the perfect hairstyle. It was really sweet of you, Georgie! As eager as I was to see the prizes, I was actually quite reluctant to undo the pretty wrappings. When I did finally open them, these were the green, glamorous and glittery goodies inside:

Barry M Nail Paint – Mint Green No. 304
Eylure Girls Aloud Lashes – Cheryl
Collection 2000 Glam Crystals Dazzling Gel Liner – Rock Chick No. 7

Thank you, Georgie! I will certainly have tons of fun with them. And my early Happy Christmas wishes to all!


This Creamy Lips was purchased on the same fateful day that I welcomed the Creamy Eyes E104 into my life.

For the benefit of those who aren’t too familiar with ELLIS FAAS, the lip product range of this brand is called ELLIS LIPS. There are three textures available: Creamy Lips, Milky Lips and Glazed Lips. Creamy Lips provides the most coverage, Milky Lips is translucent and Glazed Lips gives a wet look and is rather transparent. Each texture offers a choice of nine lip shades.

I was overwhelmed. There I was, standing before all those silver ELLIS FAAS pens held upright and pointing downwards by the display holder, trying to decide on (a) the texture, and (b) the shade. I made a quick random choice and went for Creamy Lips (husband hovering in the background, you see). The sales lady offered to apply some of the shades on my lips and got out four disposable lip applicators. I was too chicken to first try out ELLIS RED, which is the brand’s signature red, the only shade that is available in all three textures. ELLIS RED is a true red-red, ie blood red. ELLIS FAAS calls it the most ‘human’ of all colours and is therefore the most versatile.

I chose the sixth shade that was L106. When the lady was done applying it on my lips, I looked up in the mirror and saw the most gorgeous lip shade ever! I usually give a controlled and subdued “Hmmm, nice,” remark in situations like these, but with this one, I went, “Wow!” complete with the corresponding facial contortions. I don’t know if it was due to the flattering lighting and/or the huge mirror but this shade was made for my warm complexion! Anyway, because I was so bowled over by it, I was reluctant to wipe it off. I told the sales lady that I was taking this L106. I know it was a wasted opportunity not to have also tried some other shades but this was luuurve at first sight!

Well, here’s my assessment on the other aspects of this product.

Name: ELLIS FAAS – ELLIS LIPS Creamy Lips No. L106
Description: Colour for Lips
Colour choice: The Creamy Lips range is available in nine colours
Volume and Price: 2.8ml / 0.095 US fl oz for €25.00

According to ELLIS FAAS (excerpts)
ELLIS LIPS products are lightweight, long-lasting and easy to apply. Paraben-free and loaded with Vitamin E, they also blend into the lips without leaving a sticky residue, leaving the lips soft and conditioned.

For classic lipstick definition and longwearing coverage, use soft and velvety Creamy Lips. Apply Creamy Lips with the spongy applicator first by painting the lips with just a small amount of lipstick, then fully load the applicator to fill inside of the lips. Versatile Creamy Lips is also great for a more stained effect – just load a tiny bit of the lipstick onto the applicator, apply and blot for a matte stain.

As most of the ELLIS FAAS products are packaged in the same sleek silver pen format, all the details of the packaging for this product are therefore exactly as described before in my review of the ELLIS FAAS Creamy Eyes E104, with the exception of one feature. Creamy Lips has a slanted sponge-like applicator which ELLIS FAAS calls a showerhead.

Description: Fluid lip colour. Colour L106 is a coral red shade.

My thoughts
Packaging Just think of it as a very luxurious lip colour pen. Be prepared for some curious looks if you’re using this pen on your lips in public!

The spongy applicator is stiff and sturdy with a soft suede-like surface. You would need to click-turn the base many times for the colour to show through the spongy applicator for the first time. For subsequent use, anywhere from one to three clicks would do.

Gravity plays a role in the rate of flow of the fluid. The fluid emerges sooner if the pen has been left standing and pointing downwards. Otherwise, there can be a four- to five-second delay before all the colour emerges for that corresponding click-turn. If you’re done with applying Creamy Lips very quickly, there is a chance that you will discover a tiny blob of 'delayed' Creamy Lips on the applicator the next time you remove the pen cover. Fortunately, the pen cover is air-tight which means that the blob doesn't dry up and harden. So, it can still be used for the next lip application. I would hate to see this potion go to waste!

The slanted spongy applicator makes direct application on the lips easy. The shape of the very tip of the applicator allows precise colour application of the cupid’s bow area and the edges of the lips.

If you preferred that the applicator didn’t have any contact with your lips, you may then use a lip brush to extract the fluid from the applicator and then apply. Using your finger is another option, I suppose.

I prefer direct application as it’s the most convenient.

Highly pigmented! Coverage is buildable with Creamy Lips. A small amount of fluid for light layering gives the lips a hint of colour. Layer it on for heavy coverage and intense colouring.

In natural lighting

With flash

Note: Here, I've applied Creamy Lips directly using only the spongy applicator. I've layered it on to intensify the colour for purposes of photography. In practice, because of its heavy pigmentation, only one good layer of application would be sufficient.

Creamy Lips has, as the name implies, a creamy consistency. It is non-sticky. When applied, it feels like velvet on the lips. I like to call it moisturising velvet. The texture is smooth and quite matte but I’ve noticed a bit of sheen with more layering.

Yours truly has hopelessly dry lips all year round. Just five minutes with bare lips and the lips would be Saharising, if you know what I mean. Before I discovered lip balms, Vaseline had been my best friend for more years than I can count with my fingers (and toes). There are only a couple of brands of lipsticks that I can wear directly on my lips without needing a protective base layer of, oh say, Vaseline.

Well, I can now include Creamy Lips in this elite list!

This is a moisturising lip colour, so don’t be surprised if there is some lip colour transfer on your cup and napkin. The good thing is, Creamy Lips also melds with the lips, so even if there is transfer, you are still left with colour on your lips. From my experience, it lasts for a good few hours but maybe not a whole day (unless you really pack on the colour). You may need to touch up after lunch. Without touching up, you may still have an even but faded coat of colour on your lips at the end of the day.

In my books, I draw a clear line between the Saharising lip products and those that nurture my lips. Creamy Lips is certainly a nurturing one. Here’s a recap:

· paraben-free
· easy-to-use applicator
· great pigmentation with buildable intensity
· moisturising velvet
· moderately lasting (and longer lasting with more layering)
· no chapped lips at the end of the day (hurray!)

I can’t quite put my finger on it. Creamy Lips is fluid like a lip glaze, it looks like lipstick on the lips and yet it’s moisturising like a lip balm. Most curious, this.....I give Creamy Lips a thumbs up!

More information can be found on the ELLIS FAAS website. My previous review of the ELLIS FAAS Creamy Eyes E104 also includes a detailed description of the ELLIS FAAS pen.