October 30, 2013

Laura Mercier Face Illuminator in Spellbound

There has been quite a bit of chatter about the Laura Mercier Artist Palette around the blogosphere. I'm dying to get my hands on this palette too and it's sadly only available in Sephora. So, I have been stalking the Sephora aisles nervously. And with each visit to the counters, I seem to be picking up odd bits of new Laura Mercier makeup. 

The Laura Mercier Spellbound Face Illuminator looks like something I will get alot of use. As usual, I'm late to this collection. I walked past the counter in the past, thinking that the collection pieces were only mediocre.

While this year's highlighter from Laura seems to be less popular than Rose Rendevous in some previous collection, Spellbound adds an inlit glow that fuses in with darker/olive skin tones. The texture of the powder is absolutely divine too. I use a MAC 168 brush to apply an even stroke of highlighter on my cheekbones. 

Perhaps the only downfall in the aesthetics would be the rather clunky sized outer packaging, measuring a depth of 1.5 times of a normal Chanel Joues Contrast blush. A bit clunky I must say...

The closest cousin to Spellbound would be Dior Amber Diamond, however Spellbound is far more rosier in undertone. 

I love each and every one of my highlighters - the sparkle and shimmer is simply stunning on my cheeks. On days when I like my cheekbones to be pronounced, I will grab for Guerlain Cruel Gardenia or Lancome Blush Highlighter. If I would like a bit of colour to the cheekbones I will go for the nuanced shimmers such as Dior Amber Diamond, Bobbi Brown Rose Gold or Laura Mercier Spellbound.  

Understandably, capturing the light from highlighters is quite difficult to achieve with a normal point and shoot. The shimmer from Spellbound is very subtle and catches the light on certain angles. 

Overall, Laura Mercier's Face Illuminator in Spellbound is a lovely addition to the highlighter stash. It brings a nice inlit glow - an almost healthy looking sheen on the upper cheek bones. It's neither frosty or chunky and does not accentuate fine lines or pores. The quality of her highlighters are very beautiful and I'll be sure to pick up her highlighters in future collections. Is Spellbound a must-have? If you already own Dior Amber Diamond, the answer is no. Am I happy with both? absolutely. 

October 20, 2013

A review of the Rise Salon @ Gemmill Lane

I am excited to share with you my awesome experience at Rise Salon @ Gemmill Lane today. As you have seen in recent pictures, my hair is getting out of control. I have fraying bits of hair all over the place -- some longer than others and not curling at the right places.  Furthermore, the last time I had done a full head colouring was in January so my regrowth shows and my hair looks very lacklustre. I know it's unusual for me to keep my hair unkempt but the last hairjob costed me a whopping $450! While digital perms do cost more, the curls only lasted for a month or so. This was my hair straight after my digital perm. I apologise for the fuzzy picture as this was taken at 11pm at night with my iphone, the best available camera on hand. 

About 4 months later, all my curls have disappeared into what I consider a messy bedroom look. I suppose bedroom hair is ultimately sexy on some days but not so when work is concerned. I was tossing back and forth between medium shoulder length hair and tousled wavy long hair. I wanted something manageable -- something that will give me the flexibility of growing my hair out without worrying about regrowth or dry ends. 

I decided to take it to Rise Salon. Rise Salon @ Gemmill Lane is a purely Japanese joint run by two guys. I had my hair done by Teru, the Senior Stylist. One tip: do have your hair requests ready because they are booked with appointments back-to-back. I spent slightly longer to decide what I wanted because I didn't know where to start with this frumpy mess. 

Here's me this morning before my hairdressing appointment. 

I had my hair coloured in some natural 06 shiseido colour, a shade that's appropriately conservative for work but also reveals healthier locks. The dye was applied firstly to my roots and about 10 minutes later to the rest of my ends. About 20 minutes later, I had my hair cleansed with some fabulously smelling John Master Organics shampoo & conditioner. The head massage was surreal, too. 

We decided to keep the same length, but thin out the thickness especially at the back of my head. Some of the relaxed curls remained which was nice; it saves me from needing another digital perm anytime soon. 

The colour was perfect - I finally realise what was missing with my hair for the longest time. It was missing the shine and vibrancy! 

I have been paying closer attention to the hair of passerbys and pedestrians and noticed how commonplace it is for girls to dye their hair an awful brownish orange. If you have been a frequent follower of my blog, you would have remembered those days where I also had very light-coloured hair. The colour was beautiful but such a pain to manage because hair regrowth is an absolute pet peeve of mine. Anyone in their right mind should be prepared to invest in root touchups every 2-3 months especially if their base colour is >3 shades lighter than their natural colour.

So overall, Rise Salon @ Gemmill Lane is a real gem. The service is very typical of Japanese standards in which Teru took very meticulous attention to detail. I was very well taken care from the time I stepped into the premise and all the way out. This is a huge leap from the usual run-of-the-mill hair salons on Orchard Road. It's a different business model of course - commercial salons rely on technicians to support the hair washes and hair styling. But here in Rise, Teru walked through all the steps of cleansing, colouring, cutting and drying. That to me is quite special. 

Rise is quietly tucked away at a small lane near Far East Square (ChinaTown) and best accessed with taxi. Sundays are the best time to book your appointment because there is generally less traffic and the weekday working crowd. I had my hair coloured and cut for $290, including a complimentary duo of John Masters Organics Shampoo & Conditioner valued at $65.

So I hope this review helps anyone who's looking for a decent Japanese hairdresser in Singapore. 

Address: 12 Gemmill Lane Singapore
Number: +65 6438 3138 

October 19, 2013

A review of the Vichy Normaderm essential line and some thoughts about treating acne

I was sent a couple of products to try from the Normaderm Range, a range engineered to target blemishes and imperfections for asian skin types. This is my first time trying the Vichy line and I'm glad to be given a couple of products to use for a few weeks. I have always encountered the Vichy line in French pharmacies, but have always preferred Caudalie, Bioderma, and La Roche Posay for their carefully selected range of products. 

Altogether, I have used cleansing - toning - spot treatment - moisturising steps for 3 weeks now, which gives me a good sense of how my skin is doing with this new series of skincare. 

First of all, let me first explain my skin type. My skin is quite sensitive after a year's worth of Roaccutane treatments, lasers, and many prescription acne creams. After years of suffering from adult acne, my skin is now trouble-free. I am left with acne scarring that appears as blemishes or small pits on my cheeks. I no longer get angry zits, but instead, have small occasional white heads from bouts of stress or grimy exercise. 

When my skincare is concerned, I use products that contain skincare ingredients that I am familiar with -- so these would be salicylic acids, hyaluronic acids, AHAs, etc. I am a skeptic with other kinds of patented or pending-patented skincare ingredients are advertised on new anti-aging products. I think my dermatologist would only agree with me on this. So I stick with the basics and so far a simple regimen of cleanse-tone-moisturise has been easy to follow and effective. I used to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on skincare in the past. Today, my skincare is so simple that I wouldn't even dream of forking hundreds for a new anti-aging cream. If I remember correctly, Normaderm products are priced at $20-30 for the basic cleanser and toner, and less than $40 for the moisturiser. You can get them for a discount of course... and Watsons is having their usual 'up to 30%' sale this week.  

Briefly, the Vichy Normaderm range is targeted for age groups from teens to early thirties. The common theme with their products is to minimise pores, improve texture and imperfection of the skin, target blemishes, and cleanse effectively to prevent further acne break outs. So if this sounds like your kind of product then read on. 

Lets start with the Vichy Normaderm Purifying Cleansing Gel. This was a tough contender between my beloved IPSA Cleansing Smooth Foam. To me, cleansers must give me the awesome experience -- so scent, rich lather, cleansing and the texture of the skin are important features.  This cleanser was ok at producing lather and leaves my skin feeling cleansed but not tight. It promises to eliminate impurities and unclog pores... all wonderful. But I guess it really boils down to 'experience'. I find that it lacks the super dense rich lather that I so enjoy with many of the Japanese cleansers. However, lathering experience (for lack of better term) is purely a personal preference since lather has very little to do with cleansing. 

Active ingredients: salicylic acid, glycolic acid and LHA. In short, these are acids that help to texturise the skin. 

The maximum lather I achieved...

After the cleansing and towelling off, Vichy Normaderm Imperfection Prone Skin Lotion would be the next step. It gently tightens pores and contains 0% alcohol. Good for skin that is acne prone and oily. 

'Toner is just a marketing gimmick' - nod your head if you agree with this statement. I certainly did in the past. I think it's funny how toners are never called toners anymore -- instead, they are termed beauty waters, lotions, essence waters, elixers, etc. I think I'm going to get into trouble for saying this, but I seriously believe that SK2 Treatment Essence is just a toner with SOME skincare ingredients. There, I said it. So if SK2 Treatment Essence has been effective for you, then please ignore my comment OR contend with me on this because I have not achieved $100-$200-worth of spectacular results. Ok, fine... I'm frugal, but I'm realistic too. Save those $$ for lipsticks instead! 

Anyway, lets resume. The Vichy Normaderm Imperfection Prone Skin toner was good at best to prepare the skin for serum/moisturisers. It has a slight clean scent too which I liked. Would I buy this next time? Maybe. I would really like a toner with more hydration. 

I soak normal cotton pads I get from Watsons and tone my entire face and neck.

Interestingly, the Vichy Normaderm Hyaluspot Treatment was the only product from the line that caught my interest immediately. I've always been a creature to wander into pharmacies and hunt for the elusive pimple cream. ALWAYS. I don't think I am the only one either. 

So hey, this little guy seems to be able to combat the bacteria that loves to create eruptions in our oily skin... this is none other than the P.acnes bacteria. This annoying bug loves oily skin too because it can only survive in conditions that is devoid of oxygen -- quite like vampires being afraid of sun, the P.acnes bacteria is afraid of oxygen. So this spot treatment helps to reduce excess sebum production, and thus prevents the 'ideal conditions' for P.acnes bacteria to flourish and party. 

It claims to eliminate 99.9% of pimple causing bacteria in 2 hours! I can't validate this claim. I hardly get zits as frequent as I used to. I certainly would try it out if this product was available 10 years ago. This Normaderm spot treatment contains hyaluronic acid, an ingredient that provides a protective coat over the active pimple, to prevent bacteria from entering. 

It comes in a nearly-transparent gel that is somewhat viscous when first applied. In a few seconds, it dries down matte and non-sticky finish. It's lovely all in all and is something I would recommend to my friends dealing with acne. It also seems to keep my t-zone oilies in control.

I usually apply the spot treatments around my t-zone and cheeks.

Finally and foremost, my most favorite product of the range -- The Normaderm Tri-Activ Moisturiser. I would credit this moisturiser, together with the spot treatment, for keeping my skin less oily throughout the day. It claims to work on blemishes, pores, redness, shine, pimples and uneven complexion. I think I am in agreement for most of the above. I love the texture; it spreads easily and dries down within seconds to a matte feeling. It comes in a tube that squeezes the moisturiser out to a pointed tip so there is great control in getting the desired amount of product out. AND, it is within the affordable price range for moisturiser that works. This is the product that I will continue to repurchase once my skincare backups run out. 

Overall, the Vichy Normaderm line is great for those looking to manage their acne actively and great for those in the early 20s. I like many aspects of the Normaderm product range. They stick with skincare ingredients that even dermatologists would be familiar with and the packaging is fuss-free. Perhaps my favorite of all four products would be the Tri-activ Moisturiser because my skin experienced less midday oiliness. I'm not sure if this line would suit those living in non-humid climates because it seems to lack the oomph in hydration.

While it is important to have good skincare, it's also important to be well-rested, hydrate with at least 8 glasses of water daily, and have healthy bowels. Good lifestyle habits results in better skin. No skincare product is able to compensate unhealthy habits, such as smoking, drinking, dehydration, eating fried foods, etc etc. BUT, assume that you do have all the healthy habits then extra good skincare can really help. From someone who used to suffer badly from acne, nothing could ever replace the advice given from a dermatologist. My dermatologist gave me skin that is much more manageable today and has given me the confidence to wear makeup once again. 

October 15, 2013

FOTD with MAC Paint Pot in Camel Coat

I picked up MAC's Pro-Longwear Paintpot in Camel Coat. This creamy little pots released from the Pro Longwear collection last month have some wonderful matte neutral shades - perfect for the quick morning get go. I have a few others but they're still in their boxes. 

The only downside I have with these paintpots are that they do tend to dry up quickly. I had one paintpot which I hardly used and the sides of the product has shrunk significantly. I couldn't be bothered to work with something half-dried so that went straight to the bin. 

On the left, Camel Coat is a muted beige with pinkish undertone. Unlike, Illamasqua Hollow (right), Mac's Camel Coat appears more cool toned and matte.

The shade seems to blend into my skin colour, leaving a soft hint of some colour. It's hardly noticeable. Perhaps if you are an NC20 or lighter, this could be a more suitable shade for you. I am currently an NC25 with beige undertones. 

I am thinking of cutting my hair. I am tired of managing these tresses. They have held up very well this year with very little split ends. I have managed to steer clear of chemical treatments until recently with my perm. Luckily my hair seemed to have survived that last round but it feels dry at the ends. I envy the girls with beautiful streaks of coloured highlights and bleached hair. I don't think I'll ever go back to dying my hair every 2 months. While it was different, I didn't think it was all that spectacular. 

So  I think I will keep a simple hairstyle. One that will give me some freedom to practice yoga daily and that I can throw back into a ponytail. Lets see what comes out this coming weekend. 

New haircut, new life? That's what they always say, don't they? 

October 5, 2013

Review of the DiorSkin Nude Skin-Glowing Makeup SPF-15 Foundation

Hi everyone! Happy Saturday!! 

I feel absolutely fantastic today and I want to share with you some yummy goodies in the pipeline. 

Today's feature would be on the Diorskin Nude Skin-Glowing Makeup SPF 15 foundation. It was released sometime last year but it has taken me so long to review it (oops). Dior has released a number of DiorSkin foundations - the natural glow, the hydrating, and now the skin-glowing makeup. The bottles are all the same for all these 3 releases, which makes it ever so confusing. My review today is for the Skin-Glowing Makeup version. 

This is my first time trying a foundation from Dior - surprisingly. The Diorskin foundations has always caught my eye in the past but the urge was never strong enough to purchase one. I picked mine up from Copenhagen last year, together with my YSL Touche Eclat Foundation. 

Dior requires no introduction when beautiful packaging is concerned. The pump dispenses small dollops of foundation each time - never too much and always with perfect control. I usually pump twice to dispense enough for my face and jaw. 

I have mine in the shade 031, which was the best match for me last year. The colour is slightly too dark for me now but once blended, the shade difference is only marginal. The texture feels like a gel and distributes easily on the skin - however, it is not as fluid as the YSL Touche Eclat foundation. To me, it feels less creamy compared to the Chanel Aqua Vitalumiere Foundation. 

I noticed that the wear time of the DiorSkin Nude Foundation is pretty good and definitely beats the YSL Touche Eclat Foundation. The latter seems to only last for a good 3-4 hours, with noticeable transfer and several foundation accidents in changing rooms. Dior's tends to adhere alot better on the skin and wear time is about 7-8 hours with mild temperate climates. I noticed less mid-day oilies too. 

As I always do, here's some before and after pictures...

Left: Bare Faced. Right: with DiorNude Foundation

I used my Sigma flat top brush to blend the foundation in. I think this foundation works best with a Sigma Flat Top buffing brush because you need to work quite fast before it sets. 

I would say the coverage is medium. It does not hide all my blemishes completely although that is what I usually prefer. The finish is semi-matte, and far less dewy than many of the foundations I am currently using (Chantecaille Tinted Moisturiser and YSL Touche Eclat). The foundation can cling on dry skin patches, especially around my upper lip and nose. It's definitely not the best for dry skin types but pretty good for oilier skin types. 

Overall thoughts: The DiorSkin Nude Skin-Glowing Makeup is a nice-to-have, but not a must-have. It has good staying power especially in hot temperate climate. The overall effect is semi-matte and slightly glowing - perfect for those seeking medium coverage. I wouldn't say it's my go-to foundation right now because I like my YSL Touche Eclat foundation slightly more for it's ++++ dewy effect. However, it's lovely. And 'lovely' here is an understatement.

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