July 31, 2012

Review: Urban Decay 24/7 Concealer

[Source: miloberry.blogspot.com]

I'm going to start off saying I am a huge concealer junkie - blemish concealers, redness concealers, dark circle concealers... I believe that there is a perfect concealer for every use out there, and I am on a mission to find all the perfect ones.

Over the years I have found quite a few close-to-perfect concealers for spots/blemishes that I love (MUFE Full Cover concealer and Maybelline Mineral Concealer to name a few), but when I read about the Urban Decay Concealer Pencil in Cosmo a few months back, it sounded too good to not give it a shot. The website claims this concealer to cover dark circles and blemishes. Claims. Tip from the concealer junkie: concealers often claim to be multi-functional, but ultimately works better one way or the other. So test them, figure them out!

This concealer is very creamy but dries matte. Cosmo also claims that it was oil controlling properties that helps heal spots - meaning that it was way too dry for the undereye. In fact, I've noticed that it creases under the eye later during the day. On the other hand, this concealer works like a sweet sweet dream when it comes to blemishes. It's so easy to work with - I take a little with my ring finger and pat it on wherever I need it. Blends in like a charm!

The Good
- Color range. Urban Decay added additional shades for this concealer to work on a bigger range of users. For your reference, I am a MAC NW20-25, and am in the shade "FBI" for this concealer.
- Long Lasting. As the day goes by, sweat and grease surfaces (yikes), but this concealer is here to stay. Does not budge! For extra long days, I swipe a light dusting of MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural to better set it.
- Looks natural. This is a MUST for concealers... you want your concealer to HIDE. Not to draw attention! This concealer blends in perfectly - not cakey, not flakey, just amazing.

The Bad
- Packaging. As you can see from the picture, this concealer pencil is in a chubby stick form. So unless you already own the Urban Decay Double Barrel Sharpener (sharpens all UD eyeliners, lipliners and concealer pencils), which costs you a whole USD $10, you will need to dish out the extra ten bucks like I did. Although I must say the sharpener is also pretty decent - I now use it for all my UD eyeliners as well.
- Price. This is an apparent one. This baby will cost you USD $18 or more, depending on where you are in the world.
- Drying. Despite its creaminess, I do not use this concealer for drying blemishes, ie. dry patches, healing spots. I notice it tends to cling onto dry skin which is not a pleasant sight. (For such cases I recommend the Maybelline Mineral Concealer. Much more forgiving on dry skin)

Final Verdict
I love it! This concealer has made its way into my daily makeup routine for redness and blemishes. I also highly recommend this for on-the-go touch ups or travelling, because its pencil form makes it uber easy to carry around in your suitcase or purse without any spilling/concealer-explosion-in-your-bag nightmare. If you have the extra few bucks to splurge on, give this lovely product a try.

What is your holy grail concealer?

July 26, 2012

Day At The Park

A couple shots taken at St James Park in London. My boyfriend and I spent the afternoon soaking in the (rare) London sunshine, lying on the grass, gazing at beautiful flowers and sharing an ice cream cone. I also attempted to climb a tree. Turns out I'm really bad at that!

Top: Mango, Jeans: Zara, Flats: Kenneth Cole, Purse: Chanel

I bought this top at Mango together with the hi-low skirt I featured in my previous post. I had very much underestimated London weather - it was freezing while I was there! With only a light cardigan or two, I knew I had to pick up a couple slightly warmer pieces to make it through the weeks I was there. This sweater is lightweight enough to pair with shorts and sandals for warmer months, but substantial enough to layer with scarf and jeans for cooler days. Also love the elbow patch detail that adds a boyish touch. I paired the outfit with a loose fishtail side braid.

[I didn't make it much further up the tree than this. Might not be obvious, but I felt like I was losing my balance!]

[Busy bee at work among the lovely flowers]

Jo Malone Newbie, Anyone?

Jo Malone always seemed mysterious to me. Unlike other strongly marketed designer perfumes, Jo Malen has simple packaging, no over the top advertising campaigns, no sexy fragrance names. Instead, it's a brand focused solely on fragrances. And on top of that, predominantly single note fragrances - meaning its scents are simple one-ingredient perfumes. No "hint of rose, mixed with wood musk, and an end note of berry sweetness." Instead, it's a straightforward one source scent.

I finally took the plunge while I was in London. Vacation justifies biting the bullet on wish list purchases, doesn't it? :)

Jo Malone had way more scents than I expected. And instead of marketing "new arrivals" or "best sellers," the counter boasts a minimalist decor with all the pretty simple bottles lined up in a semi circle. I did not have enough time to give all scents a whiff (and if I did, I think my nose would go numb!), so I ended up randomly holding up scents with names of flowers/plants that I love.

My 2 favorites were Nectarine & Honey Blossom, and Orange Blossom. Similar names but very different scents. The former was more fruity sweet, while the latter was a floral sweet. I am a firm believer that scents smell so differently on people due to our different body temperatures and natural body scents, therefore I always spray perfumes on my wrist to test them out (and recommend you to do so too if you don't). So as always, I sprayed each on one of my wrists, and strolled around the rest of Selfridges sniffing each wrist back and forth.

The "Wrist Test" definitely made me decision way easier. Nectarine & Honey Blossom was a bit overpowering and too sweet. In comparison, Orange Blossom is amazing. Girly yet elegant, it gives off the most unique scent of femininity. It's how I would imagine Audrey Hepburn to smell like. Needless to say, that's what I took home with me that day.

I have worn Orange Blossom every day since I bought it. This is the perfect summer scent, suitable for both work and fun. If you feel overwhelmed by the wide range of Jo Malone scents like I was, I strongly recommend checking out Orange Blossom. 

What are your favorite summer scents?

July 23, 2012

In Rome: Nautical Stripes

Dress: Primark, Bag: Zara (old), Sandals: Sam Edelman, Hat: Street stall in Rome, Sunglasses: Dior

I was beyond excited that I finally was able to check out Primark in London for the very first time. After seeing all those lovely UK Youtuber hauls they all made it sound like such an awesome place, kind of like Forever 21 on steroids. And indeed it was. Packed with tons of girls from young teens to new mothers with strollers to handsome dudes with side swept hair, the huge Primark on Oxford Street had something for everyone. I bought a TON... they have everything! - a couple dresses, a set of PJ, a hoodie, a nail polish set for a friend, pantyhose and bed sheets... so I was a bit worried the final amount would rack up to quite a bit. But boy was I happy at the register - the price seemed oh so right :) I love you Primark! 

Among my purchases this striped dress was my favorite. I knew I had to whip it out when we finally got to Rome and the weather allowed bare shoulders and legs. I love the high neckline that makes it look conservative but classy, and the flowy skirt portion is the perfect amount of glam for a day time brunch date. The dress also comes with a skinny brown belt - Navy and brown is definitely one of my favorite color combos. But the best part of this dress? It was only 10 pounds!

We spent the day visiting the Vatican Museum, house to the Sistine Chapel, and the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. Along the way we got lost in the streets of Rome and discovered a gelato store with the biggest variety of flavors I've ever seen. Yum!

[Vatican Museum]

[Strolling on the cobblestone streets of Rome]

[Beautiful courtyard in the Vatican Museum]

[Gelato store! Look at all the chocolate flavors!]

[More flavors at the gelato store - fruity options]

July 22, 2012

London Drugstore Goodies

While I was in London one of my top to-do shopping plans was to hit up a London drugstore and check out all the beauty/makeup brands that we don't have access to in Asia/US. I could have spent hours along the aisles sniffing and swatching, but unfortunately I didn't have much time in the store before I saw my boyfriend yawning of boredom at the door... men!!! I ended up literally grabbing these goodies as quickly as I can.

Nail polishes

I took the chance to test out 3 nail polish brands that are new to me:
From left to right, Orly VIP (mini size), Nails Inc. Wellington Square and Models Own Swan Lake. 

Wellington Square looks like a perfect peachy/pinky summer shade and I can't wait to try it! I think this will be on my nails next. 
The other 2 are sheer glitter polishes that were too pretty for me to resist. VIP is pure pink glitter in clear polish, and Swan Lake is a bronzy, rose-goldish glitter mixed with silver specks in a clear polish.

Soap and Glory products

Yay! I've been wanting to try out Soap and Glory ever since I heard about them on Youtube. The packaging and product names are so hilarious. If I could, I would've bought them all... Finally I settled on their infamous hand cream Hand Food. Love! I rarely use hand cream because they always tend to leave my hands feeling greasy/clamy. Fortunately this one sinks in pretty quick leaving my hands buttery smooth. Also it smells lovely... perfumy, flowery loveliness.

Trick and Treatment is their under-eye concealer which also claims to have clinically proven dark circle reducers. Being a sucker for concealers I had to get this. I have yet to try it out but the packaging looks promising. I have to say for a drugstore brand, Soap and Glory packaging is very decent. And creative!

All you lucky UK girls out there... London drugstores are amazing!

In Rome: Black-White, Hi-Low

[tank top: Forever 21, skirt: Mango, cross-body: Zara (old), sandals: Sam Edelman, Hat: Rome street stall]

After a 15+ hour period in transit, I'm back in Hong Kong. I decided to reminisce by spending today compiling photos from the trip (totaling over a thousand between both me and my boyfriend's camera). This trip has been truly eye opening - seeing Europe for the first time has been amazing and inspiring. I'll be featuring a few of my outfits from the trip in my next few entries, starting with what I wore on my first day in Rome.

Rome is by far the prettiest city I've seen. We spent the days getting lost in the streets under the scorching and cheery Italian sunshine (which was the perfect excuse to buy a hat!), gorging on pizza and gelato every meal, and discovering the most breathtaking views and monuments as we turned each corner. 

Rome was very, very hot as we were visiting smack in the middle of a severe heat wave. Although a bit tough to walk in, the heat was a nice break from the rainy, chilly London weather we had been in. I could not wait to pull out the tank tops and sandals. I had purchased this hi-low skirt whilst being in London and was anxious to put an outfit together. I had tried on quite a few hi-lo skirts/dresses before but none really fit the bill. I wanted a skirt with less of a bold color such that the focus on the skirt would be its silhouette instead of its color. This skirt was the perfect muted print which would allow me to pair it several ways. For Rome, I went with what I packed and paired it with a basic black tank I got years ago from Forever 21. Simple and classic.

The hat was an impulse purchase that I made quickly after arriving in Rome. The sun was waaaay too sunny and I knew we were going to be out and about for the time we were there. I loved the large rim of the hat and how it balanced out my outfit. Perfect mix of function and aesthetic. It ended up being my best accessory in Rome - I wore it out every single day!

[spending late afternoon strolling around Vatican City, St Peter's Basilica]

[nomming on gelato. If you're ever in Rome, check out Old Bridge Gelato in the Vatican City, was amaaaaazingness]

[notice the scarfy thing I'm holding? St. Peters does not allow visitors to enter with bare shoulders, so I had to purchase a 2 Euro touristy scarf with "ROME" printed all over it. Cheesy and wasteful but forced purchase.]

Ciao! <3

July 12, 2012

Au revoir Paris!

[the Louvre - top: Banana Republic, pants: Zara, flats: Kenneth Cole (old)]

[locks of love over the Seine River]

[most amazing macaroons ever from Laduree]

Bonjour! I had the most amazing short trip to Paris - getting lost in the small Parisian streets, sipping amazing coffee at street cafes, and enjoying baguettes with every meal. I've heard how romantic the city can be, but being there for the first time really blew me away. The Eiffel tower and the Louvre were far more beautiful than I had imagined. And everywhere I went, the architecture, the people, the food and the music made me fall more in love with the city. Here are a few snaps of my lovely stay in Paris.

A quick 2 hour train ride later I'm back in London. Ready to explore some more! 

July 6, 2012

What's in My Carry On

Longchamp Le Pliage bag. Victoria's Secret Travel Pouch (passport, itinerary, currency). Travel reads - London guidebook and Mockingjay. iPhone doubling as my iPod. Muji striped makeup bag with beauty essentials and headphones. Mini Coach clutch. Dior wallet. Dior sunglasses and regular glasses (I fit both in the sunglass case). Alcohol handwipes and tissues. Advil. Clarins Natural Lip Perfector. Ricola Apple Mints. (and my camera! Which obviously isn't photographed as she was taking the picture)

Bon voyage! I'm off to Europe for the very first time ever tomorrow. Neither my boyfriend or I have ever been to Europe, so planning this trip has been very exciting and new to us. Thanks to my awesome brother who lives in London, I have free accommodation and am very excited to see London for the first time. While we're there we'll also be making short trips to Paris and Rome. Typical touristy destinations, but are must-visits for Europe first timers like us.

I'll be spending the night packing away. I love packing for vacations - it's part of building up the excitement! Here's a quick glimpse of what I have on my carry on. I'm bringing my Longchamp Le Pliage bag with me this time. Despite the popularity, I was very hesitant to pay the price for such a simple nylon bag at first, but finally caved a few months back because of its versatility - it's lightweight, holds a ton, and is foldable. Perfect for travelling or tossing into another bag in case you need the extra one after a little too much shopping. (Oopsies!)

July 3, 2012

June Favorites

1. Essie "Haute as Hello" 2. Origins Spot Remover 3. Henri Bendel Rose Gold Bangle 4. Clarins Natural Lip Perfector 5. "Love" Bracelet from Etsy

June was one of the best months so far this year for me - quality weekend with the boyfriend (who lives in Singapore) for my birthday weekend, various gatherings and meals here and there, and some much needed relaxing after the busy May month at work. Beauty wise I'm in full summer mode, embracing the light all-natural makeup look. I sported a healthy glow with minimal blush and moist plump lips every day, and lived in simple sun dresses and sandals. Sweet, comfy and perfect!

Essie "Haute as Hello" - the perfect summer nail color! I love the coral and neon nail trend this summer, and this is the perfect mix of the 2! Natural enough for work yet bright enough for the beach, "Haute as Hello" is a coral-y pink that borderlines neon. I've worn them on my fingers and toenails and it looks great on both.

Origins Spot Remover - this spot remover is part of Origins' new acne treatment/oil control skincare line. Since I was out of my usual Body Shop Tea Tree Oil, I decided to pick this up for the few annoying spots I had near the end of the month. Worked like a charm! This has a gel like consistency, feels cooling on the skin, and a little goes a long way. It faded spots and got rid of most the redness overnight.

Clarins Natural Lip Perfector - I have a weak spot for any lip gloss and lip moisturizer combo product. But I have to say this one so far tops the list of best one so far. I first heard of this from one of my favorite Youtubers, the Persian Babe, who strongly recommended it. I can see why now! It gives lips the most healthy, luscious and plump looking lips - with the perfect amount of glossiness. Kind of like the natural glossy look you get from licking your lips. It feels amaaaazing on and smells like strawberry milkshakes. A must try for all your lip junkies!

"Love" Bracelet from Etsy (sold here)- I've been drooling over Jennifer Zeuner's Cursive Love Bracelet for a while now, but couldn't justify the USD$121 price tag. So you can imagine I was over the moon when I found this Etsy version of it - I love its cute font even more! Best part? It's only a tenth of the price. I strongly recommend this Etsy Seller Applelatte - a Korean family who hand makes the most adorable dainty jewelry. They were even sweet enough to mail me my order together with a surprise pair of pearl earrings. Brownie points!

Henri Bendel Rose Gold Bangle - this bangle was a gifted to me for my birthday, from a very sweet college friend of mine who brought this all the way back from LA. She knew me well - I've been obsessed with rose gold lately. I've been wearing this one on wrist, and the "love" bracelet on the other a lot - especially for work since they're simple enough to go with everything. This bracelet has a belt like design and buckles exactly like one too... its 3 belt holes makes it easily adjustable. As cheesy as it sounds, now I feel like I always have a little piece of LA on my wrist!

July 1, 2012

Review: Origins VitaZing BB Cream

As much as I love trying out the newest beauty products, I have also always been a firm believer that when it comes to makeup, less is more. The last thing you want to do is pile up so much makeup every day that you do not recognize yourself in the mirror after washing it off each night! So for face makeup I have never used liquid foundations consistently - the only liquid foundation I enjoy is the Makeup Forever Face & Body Makeup, which is sheer and does the job of evening out skin tone while letting natural skin shine through. Even then I only use it on special occasions. Instead, my daily face routine consists of dotting concealer under my eyes and blemishes if any, then lightly dusting MAC's Mineralize Skinfinish Natural over my face to set.

As the warmer months are approaching, I've noticed that the MAC MSF Natural routine has been a bit too powdery for the weather. In addition to that the shade I have in light medium has become a bit too light for my skin. I wanted to find a light and natural substitute that would 1. even out my skintone without looking cakey, 2. as contradictory as it sounds, provide a mildy dewy finish but yet control shine - I love a dewier finish for summer but also tend to have an oily t-zone... yikes!

Sticking to my minimalist approach, I was sure I did NOT want a foundation - on a day-to-day basis I'd like to let my skin breathe as much as I can. Instead I have always been interested in the BB Cream market, especially because I've heard many rave about its skincare properties and natural sheerness. After very extensive research and product comparisons, I settled on trying the Origins VitaZing BB Cream.

The Good:
This BB Cream claims to be an 8-in-1 product - moisturizing, anti-aging, protects from the sun (SPF 35 PA+++), provides coverage, reduces shine, controls oil, fades lines/wrinkles and minimizes pores. That's a LOT to claim in 1 tiny tube of product! Although I think the claims are a bit of a stretch, I do agree that it has done a very good job in reducing shine and controlling oil. I usually have the blot my face once mid-day, but thanks to this BB cream, I did not have to at all. Impressive! It managed to keep my face matte all day. And on top of that it provides very natural coverage, just enough to even out your skintone.

I also have to say that with my ultra sensitive skin, I easily get red bumps or itchiness when trying new products. And the slight bit of heaviness can easily clog my pores and break me out. I'm glad to say so far (it's been about a month now) none of this has happened. This BB Cream is oil free and has not caused any irritations to me. The Origins salesgirl also explained that users will notice the BB Cream is not as easy to spread over your face as it is thicker than other brands. This is because the product contains no oil at all. Best way to apply it is to dot it all over your face, then lightly pat it out with a tapping motion. Worked like a charm!

The Bad:
So far I've been very pleased with this BB cream. Compared to many Asian brands this doesn't give a ghostly white hue to my face. However I did notice that under flash photography I looked significantly whiter than usual with this on (don't you hate it when you look through photos from a night out and go *gasp* what happened!). I am not sure if it has to do with the SPF or the fact that this BB cream does brighten and lighten up your skin a bit. But all in all under natural light it looks very natural. With that in mind I probably won't be using this on a night out next time. Keeping this as my daytime go-to instead.

Final Verdict:
I do like this product and would recommend it to anyone on the hunt for a natural sheer coverage BB cream that controls oil and shine well. I also like the fact that it is reasonably priced among the more high end brands. However if a dewy finish is your first priority in a BB cream, I'd say skip this one - because although I am glad to say it provides a way less cakey/powdery finish than the MAC MSF Natural, it still provides a rather matte finish than dewy.

I am happy to have found a natural face product for summer time. No more powdery cakey dry looking face! What are your go-to face products for summer?


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