Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Review of "Crème Originelle" by Katima'A

Hey everyone,

Today, I've decided to review the rather new "Crème Originelle" by Katima'A.

For people who regularly read my blog, you already know that I am a huge fan of a French skincare brand called AR457. I use several products of theirs, namely their day & night creams, their anti-ageing serum and their eye contour (see my previous post: my essential skincare)

The most important ingredient in all AR457 products is Premium Argan oil, which is reflected in the name of the brand owner - Bordeaux's beauty gem, La Maison de l'Argan (literally The Argan House). La Maison de l'Argan is also the creator of AR457's sister brand, Katima'A.

The latter offers a more affordable range of Argan oil-based products, which are very popular with French women who favour natural, paraben-free yet efficient skincare.

Last month, I got my hands on a sample of Katima'A's latest moisturiser, the "Crème Originelle" and after a couple of days' trial decided to purchase the normal size.

Here are a few pictures of the Arabic inspired packaging:

You will notice that I have photographed the spatula included in the packaging as I reckon it is an excellent idea. All moisturisers in a pot should come with such item. This way, the pot does not get contaminated by bacteria present on our fingers. (You should watch me fervently washing my hands almost twice before I apply my moisturiser. I become like Howard Hughes when I prep my skin!)

This moisturiser is not only very pretty to look at but it is also a high quality product.

At the heart of the cream are 3 key ingredients:
1 - Argan oil, which is famous for having nourishing, antioxidant and protecting virtues especially for your skin, hair and nails.
2 - Hyaluronic acid, a much loved nutrient which has been increasingly used in the latest cosmetics as it "helps retain over a 1,000 time its weight in water within the cells of skin(...) In fact, no other biological substance can retain as much water as HA resulting in increased smoothness, softening and decreased wrinkles."*
3 - Prickly Pear Cactus (aka Barbary fig) Extract, which has powerful anti-inflammatory virtues. It also calms and reduces redness, irritation and tightness of sensitive skins. The appeasing effect is supplemented by the presence of Balloon plant (or "Love in a puff") and Echium oil.

The moisturiser therefore aims at:
- moisturising in the long term,
- calming, rejuvenating and lifting the skin,
- reducing redness
- and relieving irritation.

The texture is very pleasant and light (see photos below).

The packaging claims that once applied, the cream has a fresh and velvety texture. I have to admit that it is a rather accurate description of how the moisturiser feels on the skin, but you might experience that it is not completely absorbed and sits more on the surface. This is my own opinion - I think it is because I'm normally more used to richer textures. However, it is not unpleasant and since I started using it, I have never noticed that my skin was dehydrated or taut, which is quite exceptional.

I also asked my mum to test it and she really enjoyed the velvety feel.
In addition, she commented on the discreet but flagrant & agreeable smell. For people who prefer their skincare to be odorless, I wouldn't recommend this moisturiser but the scent is very delicate and pleasant.
The top notes are citrus & bergamot orange, and the heart notes consist in jasmine, roses & herbaceous notes. As for the base notes, sandal, musk and vanilla were included. 

I've been using this moisturiser for a month now and my skin is much more hydrated than before. Moreover, I reckon that "Crème Originelle" has helped with my skintone: it is more even and less red with rosacea.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this moisturiser to sensitive/normal/combination/oily skins (and of course dehydrated skin like mine), but I doubt that it would be nourishing enough for dry skins.
I have worn "Crème Originelle" during the summer and autumn months but I believe that it will be slightly too light for me during the winter months. I will probably revert to my richer AR457 day cream when the icy wind starts blowing.

This moisturiser is for the moment only available in France via Katima'A's representatives and on their online store here.  Nonetheless, I heard it through the grapevine that it will launch soon in the UK. Rejoice British skincare addicts! And watch this space! I will update my post to let you know.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

Review of Sleek i-Divine Vintage Romance Palette

Recently, I was in Superdrug and walked past the Sleek display and suddenly I fell in love... My eye caught the sight of very intense purple eyeshadows and that was it - completely head over heels for the palette! It had to be miiiine (think - Gollum looking at the Ring).

Fortunately, one of Sleek's most remarkable assets is that they make great palettes for only £7.99. Yes, you read it well, Seven pounds and ninety-nine pence!
12 beautiful eyeshadows for this price -  I couldn't resist.

The packaging looks very elegant and romantic, in perfect harmony with the name of the palette: "Vintage Romance Palette"

A transparent plastic film over the e/s indicate their names - they all revolve around the topic of love and romantic gestures in different cities. Hats off to the author of these names because they also respect a particular pattern: both the "action"/"state" and the city start with the same letter!

Here are closer shots of the shades:

I have to admit that I bought this palette in particular for the wide range of intense purple/violet/plum shades but the others are lovely too, especially "Meet in Madrid" which is a less vivid gold than Urban Decay's "Half Baked" (probably more like their "Easy Baked"). "Meet in Madrid" can be the perfect colour for highlighting inner corners à la Blake Lively.

Here are the swatches

First row:

Second row:

The palette comes with a foam double-sided applicator but I don't really use this type of "brushes".

The Vintage Romance Palette is definitely versatile. You can achieve varied looks thanks to the diversity of the twelve shades.

So far I have tried two looks.

One recommended by Sleek MakeUp themselves:

Metallic "Court in Cannes" as a base
"Meet in Madrid" applied to the inner corners
"Love in London" in the outer corners and crease

For the second one, I applied "A Vow in Venice" over the lid up to the crease, and then "Bliss in Barcelona" from the middle of the eyelid sweeping to the outer edge, and under the eye, near the bottom lashes. Then, in the crease, I added the gorgeous plum "Marry in Monte Carlo", which I also overlaid onto "Bliss in Barcelona" under my eyes. Finally, in the outer corner, I created a slight V with "Romance in Rome", which I blended softly.

For both eye makeup looks, I applied primer underneath but I think that I used more product for the purple one, which might be the reason why it lasted longer.

These e/s are good quality but in my opinion, unlike Urban Decay's or Mac's ones, they are slightly less pigmented, so you'll have to apply more if you are looking for intense colours.

However, for the price and the variety of shades it offers, I would highly recommend purchasing this palette.
As for the packaging and the presentation, it is so convenient, closes well, is very smooth and compact - therefore it can easily accompany you in your bag everywhere. The perfect companion!

And now I am dying to buy several of Sleek's palettes (namely "Au naturel" and the Ultra mattes ones) when I have more money... Oh Sleek, don't lead us into temptation!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Holika Holika Jewel-Light Waterproof Eyeliners review

Hello everyone,

First of all, my apologies for not having written for so long. I haven't had a very easy year. Been really ill and working long hours since February...

I have more time on my hands at the moment so I decided to start blogging again.

I wanted to review one of my latest purchases on Ebay today.

My French friend Julie, who's a beauty blogger (if you're Francophone, check her out here: swears by Korean cosmetics.

I once saw her recommend Holika Holika's Jewel-Light Waterproof Eyeliners.

The first advantage of these pencils which appealed to me the most is their price. Through the seller I found on Ebay, they only cost me £3.30 each with free post and package!

For such a modest sum, I was ready to order them without having even tried them in a shop!

They arrived rather quickly, considering they were sent from Asia, and in perfect condition.
(If you need me to recommend the Ebay seller, leave me a comment, and I'll let you know who I've ordered from!) 

I decided to try four shades:
#15 Burgundy Garnet
#16 Black Plum
#06 Olive Peridot
#05 Brown Amber

Here are the swatches (in the exact order of my listing)

This is taken with my Olympus camera (and the flash) for you to see the intensity of the shades.

From left to right: Burgundy Garnet, Black Plum, Olive Peridot, Brown Amber

As you can see, the Olive Peridot and Brown Amber pencils contain subtle glitter which sparkles softly on the eye (and on the hand!).

For you to see the glitter better, here's a picture taken on my Iphone which have a paler lighting but which makes the sparkle more obvious. 

In terms of application, the texture is really soft; the pencil glides easily on the lid or on the waterline. It does not pull or hurt at all like some pencils which are harder and drier. 

Trying to create a very precise line with these pencils may prove a tad difficult for an inexperienced hand, but if you want to create a nice smokey look/ khol eye makeup, it's perfect. 

When I first apply the shade, there's a short period of time when you can "work" the texture and smudge it, but once it's dried for a few seconds on your eye, it won't budge. As it claims to be waterproof, I applied and rubbed water on my hand and eyes and the pencils passed the waterproof test with honours. It also stays well in the waterline contrary to some khol pencils or other eyeliners I have bought before and which either disappeared or gave me panda eyes after a few hours. 

The only slightly disappointing point is that the colours are not as vibrant as they looked on the commercial pictures (see below)

All in all, these pencils are a godsend. They cost so little, are excellent quality and are undoubtedly waterproof. I love Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliners but these are a great replacement and I think the Holika Holika pencils have a better staying power. 

I would definitely recommend them to anyone.

If you are looking for a more interesting, more intense purple shade with sparkle, you can buy the MAC Pearlglide Intense Eyeliner in Designer Purple (my next purchase when I have more money!). It's available here

Saturday, 23 March 2013

It's been a long, long time

Hi guys,

I haven't written for ages. Partly because I haven't been inspired, partly because I am doing so many hours at work, managing loads of Facebook and Twitter accounts for our clients that I want to switch off on evenings and weekends. I've also been really ill and had to go through emergency surgery at the beginning of February and I finally feel a little bit better.

During my convalescence, I've spent time varying my makeup almost every day. My belly is altered, scarred and ugly now and in order not to feel like a monster, I decided to focus on my face and make it as pretty as possible.

I've invested in an amazing Olympus PEN mini to get better makeup pictures, but it still doesn't capture all the shades and nuances. I would probably need to doctor the pictures with Photoshop or another software but I'm not trained. If anyone knows how to make makeup pictures look great, please let me know.

I will post three different looks I've done recently. I always aim for something wearable and I don't want to look like a girl from The Only Way is Essex so I don't apply layers over layers of makeup, but it ends up not being very visible on photos.

Anyway, let me know if you like it:



The last one is my new favourite look. I tried to follow the instructions given by Pixiwoo in one of their Kristen Stewart's video tutorials.

If you want to know what products I've used, ask me the question!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Beauty and Fashion tips from my superb friend Delphine

My friend Delphine has turned 36 in November and she looks so youthful, groomed and stylish.

She has the most beautiful skin, with no pore larger than the other; she tans extremely well, and her long blonde mane is not really far from Blake Lively's at the top of my 'Hair Favourites' list.

This is her at an Asian wedding, something she knows well as she is married to a British man with Indian-Kenyan origins:

 And this is her again with my friend Julie (another French expat) and myself!

 I have decided to ask her what her beauty secrets were in order to share them with my followers and the rest of the world.

"Some people might think taking care of your appearance is superficial or a waste of time or, even worse, a lack of intelligence...but I am a feminist AND I love taking care of myself ;) The Japanese believe that you should treat your face and your hair like precious silk it is!"

"My favourite haircare is Kerastase, I use the Chroma range and Elixir for a night treat or on the length of my hair for styling, I never use hair dryers or straighteners as they break and damage hair so badly.
I am a total sunworshipper so protect my hair with the KMS suncare range which is fab (spray, mask and conditioner)."

"I loooove a good scalp massage! Argan oil is brilliant as it is extra nourishing and smells divine..."

"My skincare routine is also mental, I remove all traces of make up in the evening (except when I am soooo drunk and can't find the way to my own bathroom but the next day my skin looks gross and grey so defo not recommended), I love Bioderma to cleanse, a good toner and finish it off with a night serum and cream (Midnight Serum by Kiehl's is AMAZING) then sleep does the rest: my beauty sleep is a good 8 hours to ensure proper cell renewal."

"In the morning, I wake up my skin with a few spritzes of organic rose water. In the shower, I cleanse with Kiehl's super facial cleanser and once a week, Bioderma face scrub and mask for a home facial."

"The best way to wake up your skin is to gently massage a serum in a circular upward motion. I love Decleor Neroli and Oriental Rose oils (great anti aging), then apply a good moisturiser to lock in all the serum benefits. At the moment I use Neals Yard organic rose face cream for its anti aging properties, an eye cream (Yves Rocher Ovale lift or Lancome Genifique Eye Pearl are fab for dark circles and lines) and a lip balm (I'm a big Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream fan)."

About make-up, Delphine is also very passionate and does not find it hard to list what she prefers:

Favourite nail polishes: OPI and Essie
Favourite lipsticks: Chanel
Favourite mascaras: Lancome and YSL
Favourite eyeshadows: Chanel Illusion d'Ombre ("I love a good old smokey eye with metallic greens, or browns, or sometimes even black").
Favourite face base: Tinted moisturisers from Stila and Caudalie
Favourite blush: MAC Style blusher

And I'm quite proud  that I introduced Delphine to her signature scent, Original Musk by Kiehl's. Her favourite perfume was Ambre by L'Occitane but it was discontinued a couple of years ago and she was devastated. It indeed smelt lovely on her. Now, she's been more faithful to Original Musk than myself. She likes explaining that it was labelled "Love Potion" in the fifties and that it still works in 2012!

Finally, concerning fashion, Delphine and I have pretty similar taste in clothes and accessories. We shop together a lot, but we have different figures. I sometimes see dresses, jeans or blazers to die for which I will point to her, because I know that they won't fit me because of my boobylicious top half and my meaty derrière/legs.
Delphine has the perfect shape for nowadays' fashion, a bit like Kate Moss and Sienna Miller, so loads of very beautiful and stylish garments suit her. If I had her body, I would probably dress in the same style.

Delphine does not mind sharing some of her fashion tips with you:

"If I could steal a celebrity wardrobe at the mo, it would be Olivia Palermo: I love all her chic blazer and jeans combo."

"I am a total shoe addict and live in heels, I would never be caught dead in a pair of Uggs....or Crocs...People past the age of 8 wearing them should be SHOT ;)"

Delphine was recently offered a pair of Louboutins by her husband.
It had been one of her dreams for years.

"At the moment, my favourite shops are Zara, Mango and Topshop, and for shoes I should definitely have shares in Office and Kurt Geiger..." (note from Amélie: Delphine has probably more seventy pairs of shoes. When you open the doors of her shoe closet, it feels like you've stepped into Carrie Bradshaw's walk-in wardrobe in Sex and the City, the film!)

"But the best way to look good is to be happy, make love, laugh a lot, dance a lot, drink a lot of champagne, good red wine and Hoegarden with lemon, be stupid and live your life as if no one is looking ;)"

Without any makeup during the summer in France

For a makeover photoshoot. Very 40s femme fatale

With our friend Julie

Looking sultry with her Parisian friends

With her perfected summer tan, clashing with my eternal snowy complexion ;)

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Short update about the presentation of the blog

Hi all,

I am working on the layout of my blog at the moment so don't be surprised if some posts are in a certain font and others aren't. I'm updating all the past posts so that they are in the new font I've opted for.

My friend Katrina (Muffin Top Vintage) has helped me change the colours of the blog and add two buttons: a Twitter and a Pinterest one. So now you know what you need to do! Add me, I'll try to my best to entertain you on both platforms!

And to conclude - and improve the interest of this post - here are pictures of Tanya Burr, Fleur de Force and myself when I met them this summer on Soho Square. They are lovely, approachable and I truly admire their work.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Review of Veil - Hourglass Cosmetics primer

Hi Everyone,
Today I am going to review a product who is apparently a best-seller in America: Veil, the mineral primer from Hourglass Cosmetics. 

Recently, Space NKs and Liberty have introduced Hourglass Cosmetics and I had heard about their concealer whilst watching a Pixiwoo video tutorial. One of the sisters seemed to rave about that product and on video, it seemed to glide easily on skin and cover well. Plus, the brand is called 'Hourglass': being one myself, this drew my attention! 
Having enough concealers in my beauty cabinet - probably four or five, ermmm - I decided not to browse that type of products next time I would visit their stand, but just have a look at the range that looks sophisticated and on a par with Laura Mercier and Bobbi Brown in terms of quality and type of eyeshadows. 
I bought a crease brush (n°4) which is made of top-quality hair, not of animal origin and approved by PETA, which is definitely a positive point. I was then given a sample of their primer. Today I decided to test it and take pictures of when I had just applied it and a few hours later. 

 The texture and apperance of the product is a mix between a thin cream and a gel. It is not transparent like the Smashbox or the Sephora I used before, but not as thick as the MAC one. It also has a little bit of opalescent, bluish tint to it. 

 I had previously applied my AR457 day moisturiser and Boots number 7 eye cream and my skin was well prepped and hydrated but I didn't find it very easy to spread the primer and I had to use quite a big amount compared to what I normally use with the other primers. I could tell the substance was with silicone as it had the characteristic touch and feel of products which contain that ingredient. Then I applied one of my favourite foundations, which is YSL Teint Radiance foundation in 5 (I think that in winter, I should maybe go down to number 4). What I like about this foundation is that, as its name states it, it radiates light. The skin is not matte but not too oily and glowing like a disco ball. With the primer underneath, I found it hard to spread the foundation. This forced me to use even more foundation that I normally use. It also mattified my foundation and left my skin drier and tauter than it usually feels without the primer. However I thought that the matt effect would at least help my foundation to stay for longer. 

These are the pictures I took when I just applied the products (at around 9am): 

These are the photos I took after six hours:

It does not show that much here on the pic but my nose was gleaming

This photo is absolutely horrendous but it is to show the enlarged pores!!! 

It is not that apparent on the photos because of the lighting but my nose was shining, the pores were very obvious and it seemed that they had absorbed the foundation, maybe because my skin was parched. So I don't think the virtues the brand mentions on the website which are: 

 - "restores moisture to dehydrated skin"> well, on the contrary, my skin was quite dehydrated after a few hours - minimizes the appearance of large pores and fine lines"> My pores were so large after a few hours and full of foundation that it was definitely not a great look. I had deliberately not powered my T zone to see the results. 

So unfortunately, Hourglass primer, I don't like you very much. I wanted to, but I don't think you're much better than the other primers I have tried before. I think I will stick to MAC and will try Laura Mercier's one day. 

At least, Hourglass primer is oil-, fragrance-, paraben-, gluten-, sulfate-, phthalate-free and vegan. There had to be a few positive points to this overpriced product ($52 in America and £52 in the UK)!