July 31, 2011

Chanel Les 4 Ombres Murano

I rediscovered a gem in my drawers over the weekend... I don't have alot of Chanel quads, but of the ones I do have, I love. Chanel quads are timeless classics. They give a beautiful shine and the colours work well with each other. 

Chanel Murano belongs to the regular range of eyeshadows and the four shades gives you a nicely balanced assortment of light, medium and dark greenish/teal grey tones and with a light pretty pink to merry all shades together. 

The light green is shimmery and frosty, coming off as mostly a silver shade,
The medium green has a more satiny texture, and I would describe this as greyish-green teal,
The dark green is absolutely stunning, with a black base and blueish microshimmer infused throughout,
And finally, the pink shade is a shimmery and frosty light pink that brings the whole quad into harmony!

There have been some debate on the formula and consistency of the baked eyeshadows. Personally, I had only one negative experience with Chanel eyeshadows back in the early 2000s, and since then, they have revamped their formulas to give a better color payoff. In fact, the baked eyeshadows seem to impart a more shimmery finish compared to the powder eyeshadows released exclusively to the US market.  

The quality of the microshimmer is hard to capture on pictures, but when applied on the the eyelids, there is a lovely shimmery dimension, with the reflection of light from different angles. Being a fan of shimmer and glitter, this quad is just perfect for Friday night drinks. Unlike the more pigmented eyeshadows (Urban Decay, for instance), these Chanel eyeshadows are really easy to apply using the sponge tip applicators provided in the quad. 

Here I applied all four shades of Chanel Murano, using the pink shade to the top, blending it upwards to the middle of my eye socket. 

A classy night time dress down eyeshadow quad... don't miss out this beauty when you're at the Chanel counter!

July 26, 2011

Hair masks - which one is the best?

I have a crazy love affair with hair products. That's with everything else that I say (I know), but this month I am deeply obsessed with hair products and fragrances. I forward plan my evenings where I go through a deep hair cleansing routine to remove all the product build up, then slap on a good quality hair mask while reading a trashy magazine or paint my nails. Ditsy bimbo time. I love it. And, I do this twice a week.

I rotate around 4-5 hair masks. Here's my thoughts on each.

Lush H'Swan Wen Hua
For dry hair

A dry hair treatment mask, best applied directly on dry hair prior to shampoo. It smells lovely, almost herbal-like. At first it smells weird, but the lingering scent on your tresses does grow on you. My hair feels significantly softer, only after hairdrying. It doesn't have the silky silicone-like texture under the shower, unlike most conditioners and hair masks. The negative would be that this hair mask results in alot of product wastage, especially as it needs to be applied to dry hair.

Great for dry hair, but Lush H'Swan Wen Hua will not save your damaged ends.

Kerastase Masquintense 3
Impossible to not touch your hair after this

Coming across the Kerastase hair product range has been the best ever investment made to my hair. Not only has it saved it from being brutally damaged (and can only be repaired by the dreaded hairdresser crop), but it really is value for money. Just the smallest amount of product is enough to make your hair feel so much softer, silkier and smoother. Kerastase Masquintense comes in 3 types - fine, normal and thick damaged hair. I went with #3. I will always and continue to repurchase this, it is just simply a delight to use.

Best for hair that is damaged, dry, rebellious, coarse, and for that party night where you intend to flip your hair like a Sunsilk advertisement.

Fekkai Technician Color Care 3-Minute Mask
Coconutty goodness for colored hair
Fekkai's Tehnician Color Care range smells like divine coconut. I'm a huge fan of their conditioners (not the shampoos), because they give a nice 'luster' and softness to the hair. It's expensive for the tub, with prices equivalent to Kerastase. I find that this hair mask is somewhat 'cosmetic' and the dryness is apparent on my hair ends after the 2nd day of wash.

Good for colored hair, but qute gimmicky in my opinion. You're better off using something that targets dry and sensitised hair.

Phyto Phytojoba Intense Hydrating Mask
A darling for dry, damaged and coarse hair

Phyto phytojoba mask time is always a refreshing and pampering session for me. My hair has generally loved Phyto products, and this one product has made it to the 'repurchased' list! That said, this mask has changed my entire view on hair products; where I used to believe that Garnier, L'oreal, Sunsilk were sufficiently good for the hair. But no... Phyto introduced me to the world of gentle natural hair products. And I used to believe that natural ingredients were generally not as effective than synthetic ones. Phyto proved me wrong.

Asians with dry, course and rebellious hair will love this! You can often get this darling for decent savings at Watsons or Robinsons.

Joico K-Pak Reconstruct Deep Penetrating Reconstructor
Repairs your hair strands from within

Joico's K-Pak range is intentionally targetted to those who are chemical processing junkies - perms, colorings, etc. This particular reconstructing treatment has the highest concentration of protein, giving your hair strands the needed boost to build amino acids from within. It does sound quite gimmicky at first, but it has done wonders to improve the texture of my hair. I went through a period of my hair strands snapping off, but now I can see that there's a good deal of elasticity (often representative of healthy hair) after several applications of K-Pak Reconstructor.
Do note that if you use too much of protein treatments, your hair may end up feeling dry. So I only use this hair mask once a week at most, and often followed by conditioner. 

Do you use hair masks? If so, what type and how often?

July 20, 2011

Walking through the mecca of perfumery

While in Paris, I had the opportunity to visit the Lafayette Galleries and Palais Royale, in search for niche fragrances. If you're in Paris, you shouldn't miss the chance to sniff some beautifully created fragrances from Serge Lutens, L'artisan, Annick Goutal, Guerlain and Diptyque - Paris is simply the world's mecca of Perfumery! I saw new fragrance releases at Sephora, exclusive Tom Ford collections only available in Paris, and the most delightful collection of Guerlain boutique-only bottles! 

But there was one brand that really stood out to me on my trip, and that was Serge Lutens.

I have previously heard alot about Serge Lutens and his devoted cult following, after his infamous development of Feminite Du Bois in the late 90s - his first creation for Shiseido. Serge Lutens has a range of export EdPs found in most major cities in the world and exclusive bottles that can only be found at the quint and quirky shop at Les Salons du Palais Royale.
The exclusive boutique designed by Serge Lutens himself in 1992, was built to remind Parisians of the forgotten gardens of the Palais Royale gardens. It is a little hard to find, tucked quietly in a corner from the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowds. Little bells jingle when you walk through the doors, and there laid beautifully on the counter tops are his classic bottles of goodness.

I'm no expert when it comes to fragrances, but I am now appreciating fragrances which have alot more 'character'. To me, 'character' comes about when upon the first spritz, the development of the fragrance as it evaporates off your skin and blends with your body chemistry, taking you on a sensual journal from top, middle and base note - i.e. exemplefied by me being completely obsessed with sniffing my pulse point every 15 minutes. Full bodied fragrances (like Serge's range) are like new love stories to be told, each describing an element of mystery and surprise! Which is why I am now loving unisex fragrances that adds a touch of masculinity, probably because I am also quite tired of smelling like flowers and candy.

Like wine connoisseurs, being a perfumer requires you to identify and combine different fragrance notes, using art and science to develop that right composition. It requires many years of training, often with famous 'noses' starting their careers as lab technicians in a fragrance company. Unfortunately, the entry into the field of perfumery is quite specialised, and only available in France. Guerlain Shalimar, Chanel no. 5, Serge Luten's Chergui are some of the few classic gems out there, developed by famous perfumers (i.e. Jacques Guerlain himself!). Unfortunately, I find that alot of the fragrances in the market now lack that 'differentiation' and ends up smelling too much like soap or musk. I simply cannot get myself to buy 'Britney Spears Fantasy' or 'Lovely Sarah Jessica Parker'. Why would I ever want to smell like someone else but me?! Sadly, alot of these fragrances use 'synthetic' ingredients with a cost of less than 3% of the actual price of the perfume.

Which brings me to the next point... did you know that Chanel selects only premium jasmine flowers, harvested only in Grasse, France? Those grown in France are generally priced 20 to 30 times higher than those in Egypt. It ensures the consistent quality of Chanel No. 5 EDP and maintains the reputability of the company. Yes, I agree that it's an expensive purchase. However, as consolation to your purse, it does boils down to what is in that bottle rather than the upfront price. Just like everything else, I suppose.  

In my attempt to mix up my perfume collection, I now have an assortment of commercial perfumes from big designer houses (Chloe, Vitor & Rolf, Burberry, Marc Jacobs) and those of lesser accessible brands (Jo Malone, Serge Lutens, and Dipytque). Of which the latter were my recent acquisitions last week in Paris. Some are more suitable for the hot summer weather (floral notes - jasmine, lily, patchouli), and others are reserved for autumn and winter (contrasting notes - cedar, tobacco, amber). And, a few bottles that I reserve for special evenings when I want my skin to smell incredibly delicious! Think vanilla, vanilla and vanilla. Oh, did I say vanilla already?

So what perfumes have you discovered and love? 

July 18, 2011

YSL Rouge Pur Couture is such a yummy color

I sound like a broken record. But damn, time really flies! It's already mid-July and I still haven't even made many posts lately. >__< My only excuse is that my social life is so crazy busy lately. From my family visiting me in Copenhagen the last two weeks and partying... probably a little too much for my poor liver.

Today is my day off, so I'm doing a quick and easy post of the makeup I wore over the weekend for a summer bbq. It's fairly simple, with a touch of muted tangerine flouro lips with YSL's Rouge Pur Couture lipstick in Rose Dahlia 17. Unlike other YSL lipsticks (Rouge Pur, Rouge Voluptes), I find that the new range of lipsticks are alot more moisturising. They still have the typical YSL scent that reminds me of melons and fruit. 

Since the summer days here are are long, I haven't been using too much heavy makeup (i.e. thick foundation, powder, blush etc). I do, however, love to use lipstick to modify my overall appearance. Just imagine how different you can look with fluoro tangerine lips with your basic white t-shirt and jeans. I could be wearing the same thing during the noon, but with a nude lipstick and still look glamourously understated. 

It's easy, fun and flirty. And I let you know a secret, I have been reapplying my lipstick in public. Takes a bit of practice to apply lipstick with confidence!

I hope you're having a wonderful week! 

July 8, 2011

Jo Malone - my small library of scents

I love fragrances, but not overly so (until lately). I have previously owned and finished a large bottle of the Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, which I loved but got tired of other people smelling too much like 'me'. I'm afraid it lost it's identify after full blown massive advertisements. After that bottle, I hunted and hunted for my unique signature scent. Now, I am significantly poorer because I have developed this expensive habit of acquiring different scents. 

Part of this bankruptcy was attributed to Jo Malone, a company established by Jo Malone herself, and now acquired by Estee Lauder. She started off her career as a facialist and developed a cult following for her beautifully scented bath oils. Her first fragrance was the Nutmeg and Ginger, which was originally created as a thank you gift for her devoted facial clients. And, following that 86 of her 100 facial clients phoned to request for more of her delicious scent... which now basically lead to her establishing her own company, Jo Malone. 

Since then, Jo Malone has established a unique way of combining simple scents. Although this method is nothing new, it seems quite complicated to layer scents to an amateur nose. You generally need to appreciate the base notes in order combine scents effectively. When done correctly, it's an overall fun experience adjusting your scents to the occasion, outfit, weather and mood. 

The beauty sales associate at Jo Malone Selfridges demonstrated the method of fragrance combination by pressing on JM Nutmeg & Ginger Cologne on my left arm. Then, on my right arm, she applied a delicious layer of Vanilla & Anise body cream, and later pressing on JM Nutmeg & Ginger Cologne. The scents alone was nothing exceptional, a little short in character I would say. Jo Malone fragrances are designed to be very simple and clean. But when used in combination, the magic happened. The spiciness of JM Nutmeg & Ginger was softened by the creamy soothing scent of JM Vanilla & Anise. The composition of the spicy and aromatic scents is so exquisite together. Since I can't justify a 40 pound body cream, I opted for the perfume instead. 

30mL sizes are perfect. I can see myself collecting Jo Malone fragrances for a very long time. 

I must emphasise that body chemistry plays a major role to how well you skin wears fragrances in general. I fare better with fragrances that are musky, warm, and aromatic. Subsequently I was curious on how the other fresher combination would work, so I ordered Nectarine Blossum & Honey Cologne online. I figured I couldn't go wrong, since it was a favourite by many. But alas, there is no substitute to the nose when it comes to fragrances. Again, it's beautiful together but on its own, it lacks depth.

And I ordered the Orange Blossum Cologne for dear mum. She loves this very much. 

I'm heading over to Paris for the weekend... I'm aching to try Serge Lutens, L'artisan, Chanel and Guerlain boutique fragrances. So lets see what I end up coming home. :-) Happy weekend! TGIF!

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