Monday, July 30, 2012

Monthly Must-Reads: July 2012

Question of the month (from Andi): If you were stranded on an island--which one album and which one book would you want to have with you?

Album: Hard to pick a favorite album, as I like mixes and playlists better than listening to one album. If I had to choose one I'd go with: Grandes Exitos de Juan Luis Guerra - an album my sister introduced me to when she was going through her salsa/merengue dancing phase. It's impossible to feel sad or sit still while listening to this . My favorite songs are: Guavaberry & Senorita (p.s. neither of us speak Spanish but we love these songs anyway!)

Book: I'm such a bookworm - it's impossible to choose just 1 book - I'm going to cheat and take a boxset - The Little House on the Praire Collection. Don't laugh! I know they're children's books but I loved reading them when I was a child and I love reading them now - a whole family working hard and making the best of every situation? So inspiring and uplifting. Plus I'm sure I'll pick up a few survival tips from the books to help me adjust to life on a Desert Island!

Would love to hear what you guys would choose - especially for books. I'm always looking for more reading material...and I don't just read children's books LOL!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Testing Acne Covering Make-up (with before & after pics): Dermablend, MAC, Jane Iredale & Everyday Minerals

It's no secret that my skin has been acting up recently... but I always try to look at the bright side of life. In this bad skin makes me an ideal test case for acne-covering make-up! I conducted a "scientific experiment" taking before & after pictures of my skin using various acne-covering products - and noted down my thoughts on each. Hope this post may help anyone else out there struggling with the same issues.

Some thoughts before I start the comparison:
-I took before & after pictures each time because the lighting and extent of my acne varies day-to-day. These photos were taken over a couple of weeks as I don't wear makeup everyday - and I don't want to stress my skin out!
-I'm wearing this moisturizer under my make-up in all photos
-I prefer using a heavy coverage make-up that I can build up where I need, rather than a concealer + foundation. I find this leads to a more even look (as a separate concealer can sometimes highlight the areas you want to conceal - not good!)
-Your experience with these products may vary depending on the condition of your skin and your application technique
-These pictures are not pretty...AT ALL, but they're honest. It does get me down when my skin acts up and I can't explain why. But I know this will pass...and I feel loved no matter how I look (but of course - I always want to look my best!)

I've created a "break" in this post so you don't have to see the pictures unless you want to! Click "Read more" to continue.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

5 Reasons Why I Love the Balenciaga Black City Bag

Balenciaga Classic Black City Bag RH (Image Source here)

1) It is elegant yet understated and goes well with casual outfits (i.e. what I wear 95% of the time!)
Nicole Richie

2) It can also be worn as a shoulder bag
Clemence Poesy (Image source here)

3) You don't have to worry about staining or handle darkening as you do with light colored Bals. (Fading can be a problem - but Katherine from Feather Factor shares a solution for that here.)
Hillary Duff

4) It's spacious and durable - so it's a great "Mommy" bag
Sarah Michelle Gellar & daughter

5) The best reason: My sweet hubby got me one for my birthday/anniversary present ♥♥♥♥

Liked this post? Read my other bag reviews here!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Building a Handbag Wardrobe - The Classics

I've always loved designer handbags. I'm happy with comfortable shoes, simple clothes and a few pieces of jewelry...but when it comes to bags - I have fancy tastes! I'm slowly trying to build a "handbag wardrobe" - a collection of classic quality bags that will suit many different occasions.

Here are some of my key pieces:

Everyday bag: Doesn't show wear easily. Good for: going shopping or out to lunch.
My Louis Vuitton Speedy 25 in Monogram print
Mulberry Mini Alexa. Image Source here.

Cross-body bag: Hands-free & light. Good for: outdoor activities.
My Marc Jacobs Single
MBMJ Natasha in Blush. Image Source here.

Special Event: Can be small & delicate as it will only be used on special occasions. Good for: date nights and parties.
My Quilted Caviar Chanel WOC
My Balenciaga First in Sahara

Travel bag (to pack): Light enough to be packed/added to carry-on luggage and unfolded as needed. Good for: Trips where you have limited space.
My Small Le Pliage bag in Pink
  • Another option: Hard to choose another one - Longchamp has designed the best packable bag! Would love to hear your suggestions. (Edit: just remembered - I love Herve Chapelier bags for traveling, I have 2 small ones and 1 large one)

Structured Tote: Large enough to fit in documents and a laptop. Good for: work or traveling.
  • My bag: I don't have one yet - getting one is not urgent for my current lifestyle. When I go back to work - I'd be seriously tempted by the Prada Saffiano Double Handle Tote
Prada Saffiano Small Double Handle Tote in Camel. Image Source here.
  • Another option: Celine Luggage Tote. Love the one featured on  Wendy's Lookbook (originally posted here)
Celine Micro Luggage Tote in Jungle. Image Source here.

Mom bag: Similar to the "everyday bag" but needs to slightly more durable and spacious -  should be able to resist staining from sticky fingers and snack spillage. Can carry on shoulder if necessary. Good for: carrying your essentials while having space for wet wipes, drinks, kiddy books etc.
  • My bag: To Be Revealed - hubby got me my dream bag as a birthday/anni present! Update here
  • Another option: LV Neverfull in Damier Ebene (the darker handles are more stain resistant than the vachetta ones on the Monogram & Damier Azur versions)
Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM in Damier Ebene. Image Source here.

 What are your must-have bags? Is there any category or bag you would add to my list?

Liked this post? Read my other bag reviews here!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Shopping - Skincare & Shoes + Birthday Present

I'm still struggling with my skin so most of my recent purchases are skincare related. I've stopped using Tactuo/Epiduo as Benzoyl Peroxide doesn't suit my skin AT ALL (it makes acne marks appear really dark and last a long time). I've also stopped using antibiotics as my acne is concentrated on my cheeks and is possibly dietary. In addition, I've switched back to my Cetaphil soap as this Bioderma Sebium cleanser was too irritating - my skin is SO much happier now! I'm focusing on cleaning my skin gently and spot treating where necessary.

  • Clean & Clear Advantage Popped Pimple Relief Drying Paste - I chose this product because it has great reviews on Makeup Alley (96% repurchase rate). It is a salicylic acid based paste which you apply at night on inflamed (or extracted) spots, and it minimizes them over time. Have been using it for 3 nights, and while it doesn't magically remove spots over night, I do feel it shrinks them and dries them out.
  • Proactiv Refining Mask - I'm currently using my Queen Helene Mint Julep mask to treat hyper-pigmented marks, but I plan on trying this next.
  • Proactiv Revitalizing Toner - I think individual products in the Proactiv range are good - but using the WHOLE system together is too harsh. This toner contains 6% glycolic acid which is anti-aging and mildly exfoliating. I use this every night - it actually works in place of a moisturizer AND helps fade acne scarring. I may move on to a different glycolic acid treatment eventually, but I think this is a good starter product.
  • Macadamia Deep Repair Masque - Have seen great reviews of this EVERYWHERE. Since my hair is a bit heat damaged at the moment (too much curling!), I'm hoping this will get it back in shape.
  • MAC Pro-longwear Concealer - I've had a hard time covering up my current breakouts - no matter what I use (Dermablend + Cicaplast Primer, MUFE foundation, Hourglass primer or mineral make-up) there would ALWAYS be patching up and drying around my blemishes. Then I found this video on Youtube - where they used this concealer IN PLACE OF foundation. I went out and got a sample at MAC (they matched me to NW35) and was surprised at how good this product mentioned in the video, it's VERY buildable yet doesn't look powdery or heavy at all - and lasts a LONG time (Dermablend looks mask-like after a couple of hours). I'm SO glad I found this product BUT there is a down-side: MAC foundations aren't the best for acne-prone skin - so I save this product for special occasions and use mineral make-up all other times.
  • Bioderma Crealine Travel size - I couldn't resist this adorable teeny bottle for my traveling bag. Am on my 2nd bottle of this make-up remover in the regular size.
Zara BASIC Sandals
If you survived all that skincare chat - on to my shoes! After seeing these famous Zara heels on Skylette and Andi, I had to find myself a pair. Luckily, this colorway was in stock during the sale. I don't usually wear high heels (I'm more of a "fancy bag, comfy shoes" girl) but these are SUPER comfy and VERY flattering - not to mention great value for the price!
Aeropostale Jelly Sandals
I've always thought my taste was simple and I don't know why I've purchased so many neon pink items this season! Latest on my list are these jelly sandals from Aeropostale - marked down from $25 to $7 - they define cheap and cheerful. I plan on wearing them to the beach this weekend.
ALDO Tebeau Clutch
Last item I'm sharing today is this adorable clutch from ALDO - a birthday present from my dearest sister. ALDO bags are my favorite non-designer brand - they are well-stitched and durable. Love the simple design of this bag - I can't stop admiring it!

What was your latest purchase? Can you use Benzoyl Peroxide products?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Kate Middleton's Beauty Secrets

I adore Kate Middleton - I even have a pinterest board dedicated to her! She's beautiful, stylish, easy-to-relate-to AND a Princess - what's not to love? And being a beauty junkie - I'm especially interested in her beauty products.
As with her clothes - she uses a mix of high-end and easily accessible products. Since she has access to the best things - one would think that whatever she picks must be good. Here's some insight into her beauty routine.
Source: What Kate Wore
Skincare & Hair:

Kate is a loyal user of Karin Herzog products - namely their: Professional CleanserVita-A-Kombi 1 (heals blemishes, sun damage & hyperpigmentation), Vita-A-Kombi 3 Spot Zapper, and Oxygen Face Cream.  Reading the reviews for these oxygen-infused products really makes me want to try the range (source)

But along with these higher-end products (priced from $30-75) Kate also stocks up on a drugstore moisturizer: Nivea Visage Pure and Natural Moisturising Day Cream. Victoria Beckham is also a fan of Nivea Visage products. (source)

Kate gets her hair dyed with L'Oreal Symbio and Fuente Organic color, has professional Keratin treatments, and uses Kerastase Conditioning products. (source

Source: US Magazine

Along with the makeup listed below (originally posted on my blog here), Kate used YSL Touche Eclat, Lancome Hypnose Mascara & Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser on her wedding day. (source)

All over: Ivory Eyeshadow (a creamy white)
Lower lid: Rockstar Metallic Eyeshadow (a medium metallic grey)
Crease: Slate Eyeshadow (a medium grey)
Eyeliner: Black Ink Long-Wear Gel liner (a jet black)
Mascara: No Smudge


Pale Pink
Blush (a bright pale pink) + Pink Quartz Shimmer Brick


Pink Lipcolor (a beige pink) + Crystal Lip Gloss

(Non-Bobbi Brown products used :

a custom blend which included Essie's 423 Allure (a sheer with a natural finish) and Bourjois' no. 28 Rose Lounge (milky pink sheer).
  White Gardenia Petals by Illuminum: described as "the clean, fresh scent has a note of coconut bursting into ylang ylang, lily of the valley and jasmine, with amber wood as the base note."  )

She was recently spotted making additional purchases at Bobbi Brown including Saddle brow powder, lipliner in Brownie Pink and lipstick in Sandwash Tulle. (source)

Source: NY Post
I have purchased the Bobbi Brown Pale Pink blush (I adore it - so bright and long-lasting) and have Sandwash Pink lipstick and Hypnose mascara next on my list to try. If it's good enough for a Princess.....

Are you a fan of Kate Middleton? Do you own any of the products she uses? 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Annabelle & Marcelle Contest Winner

The winner of the Annabelle & Marcelle Contest is:

Entry # 136 - Adrienne!

Thank you to everybody who participated - there were 20 entrants with 80 entries (corresponding to 188 points). I really wish I had a prize pack for each of you....but I only have the one :-(  Hope you'll all join in my next giveaway!

Adrienne - I'll send you an email for your mailing address.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Make-up in the Mail: Kerastase, Kiehl's & Jane Iredale

Just thought I'd do a quick post sharing some beauty items that have made their way to me recently:

1) Kerastase Cristalliste Shampoo, Conditioner & Serum - I love entering blog contests - I've won quite a few amazing items. My latest prize is thanks to Beauty Crazed in Canada - I received these amazing Kerastase products designed specifically for long hair. I've always read rave reviews about Kerastase products, so I'm super excited to try these out - PLUS how pretty is the pink packaging? (P.S. Try your luck by entering my Annabelle/Marcelle contest here - runs until July 6)
Kerastase Cristalliste Products
2) Neutrogena Wipes & Suncreen samples - One of the Canadian Deal blogs I follow posted about a freebie in honor of Neutrogena's 60th anniversary. You could choose from a variety of products - and would receive samples & coupons. This was such a generous offer - the sunscreens are the perfect size to keep in my handbag for emergency touch-ups, and the wipes are going in my overnight toiletry bag.
Neutrogena Wipes & Sunscreen
3) Kiehl's Avocado Eye Cream - This is now my 4th pot - I've got hubby hooked too, so we're using these up faster. I like waiting for special offers to stock up - this time Kiehl's was offering a deluxe sample of their Creme de Corps Soy Milk & Honey Whipped Body Butter along with their usual 3 free samples (for those I chose: Abyssine Eye Cream, Creme with Silk Groom & Midnight Recovery Concentrate). Love getting freebies when purchasing something I needed anyway!
Kiehl's Avocado Eye Treatment PLUS samples
4) Jane Iredale Pure Pressed Base, Handi Brush, Flocked Sponge & Hydration Spray - This is one of those "pinch me, am I dreaming?" blogger moments. Remember my post on my search for the best mineral make-up? The #1 product on my to-try list was this HIGHLY recommended pressed base. Well - a very kind employee at Jane Iredale contacted me and asked me to try their products! Seriously - I could not believe this was happening to me! I'm so grateful and excited - I was seriously on the verge of buying the base & brush myself (was just looking for a salon I could try it on in person). I'd never have thought to try the mist or sponge - but after 3 days of use, I'm amazed at the concealing power of the sponge! I'm giving myself a month to test this out - and then I'll write an update. (As always - when I review a sent item, I will view it as if I paid retail price for it...and discuss whether it was worth it. Gifted or not, I blog to share my true feelings and help my readers)


Have you received anything exciting in the mail recently?


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